Thursday, August 26, 2010

POTD's this week

I thought I'd share a few recent ones (picture of the day's that is):

Sunday, August 22:
Hanging picture frames and wall decor at 10:30pm

Monday, August 23
A daily activity: "I want you to play cars too mama."

Wednesday, August 25
Baking sugar cookies as an after-supper treat...just as a forewarning, it's a dangerous thing to put a two and a half year old and a 3rd trimester pregnant woman in the kitchen alone together armed with baking goodies. We were both so anxious to eat the sugary treats that these were probably the ugliest cookies I have ever turned out of an oven before...but man, they were yummy!!! ;)

Thursday, August 26
Our neighbor, Kat, brought over fresh tomatoes from her garden tonight. Parker would've eaten them like candy if I had let him!
I love how some pictures are close-up and show only one idea while others are taken from a distance to show multiple representations. Creative, messy, neat, cute, ugly, simple,'s all part of everyday life. I love to capture it all.

Monday, August 23, 2010

34 weeks and a peek into the nursery

Here's the tummy picture of Baby Nolen at 34 weeks! It is an active little baby, just like it's older brother! Kicking, somersaulting, twisting and what seems like 24/7 movement. Parker wants to "chat with" and feel his little brother or sister move each day. It's sweet to watch him put his little lips and hand up to my tummy to say "hi" to the baby. Parker is going to be such a precious big brother!
Clay and I finished the nursery a couple of weeks ago; it is "Baby ready" stocked with diapers, onesies and lots of love!!! The primary colors are black and cream (looks more white in this picture, but it is a deep cream) and the style is a basic black paired with gingham sheets and a classic, vintage "children at play" toile to compliment.
This is actually the exact nursery bedding and decor that we used in Parker's nursery with the exception of the curtains. (Parker's nursery looked completely different than this though, because it was a larger room that acted as the guest room, nursery and office...definitely a multi-purpose room!)
If not for the help and creativity of Clay's parents and sisters in December 2007, we would not have any of this!!! I was at a complete loss for what I wanted for the nursery bedding and decor; what I had in mind, I couldn't seem to find anywhere. When one of Clay's sisters saw this online and I gave quick approval, the family acted fast to assemble an entire nursery setting before Parker arrived!! It turned out adorable and has proved to be the perfect fit for our home then and now! I am thrilled to be able to use it again for Baby Nolen #2.
The room is a true "nursery size" so there is not much room for anything other than the guest bed and crib, but I love the simple and cozy look of it. Decorative boxes that match the sweet "children's play" toile are stacked at the end of the crib as you walk into the room.
The monogrammed initial set that we used for Parker will be recreated using the new baby's initials once we know what this little one is! The set of three will go directly above the crib just as in Parker's old room in the apartment.
I love the simplicity of the black satin with the vintage "children's play" theme.
On the side wall next to the closet, hangs a frame with pictures of Parker in black and white at one month. I am looking for a similar frame that will go directly beneath it and will hold pictures of the baby at four weeks too.
I have a few other fun things that I would love to display, but I'm not sure what will happen with these just yet, since we don't have a little side table or anything in the room. I'm pondering with the idea of purchasing a miniature black shelf for the would hold a frame with the little lamb and mother and then I would hang a few small frames, etc. around the shelf in scattered collage form.
Inside the closet: white onesies, gender neutral onesies and gowns and some white/ivory bonnets that were Parker's when he was an infant. Also, the matching toile diaper rack hangs from one of the shelves. I'm not quite sure about the closet situation either. I'm toying with the idea of placing some baskets on the shelves to keep everything neat and in place. They have some cute ones at Target right now that would go great with the "honey" coloring of the crib and the cream decor...the hard part is deciding which ones (there are 2 different styles I have my eye on)...and convincing my hubby that this is a "needed item!" ha! Though the clothes work fine on the wire shelves for now, I know that after this little one is born, we will be adding to its wardrobe and with that comes more to keep in a neat little stack!
(I have also washed, folded and placed in the closet all boy clothes up to six months just in case. :) If we are blessed with a sweet little girl though, I will just pack up the boy things for another time!)
Clay, Parker and I are sooo excited to welcome this baby into the family this fall! I am currently trying to wrap up the remaining house projects before B. Nolen arrives as well as working on getting a few systems in place that will simplify life for awhile during the adjustment period of having not one, but two little ones in the household!

Friday, August 20, 2010

"Mini-Vacation" from the daily routine

Yes, yes it is.
Having a delicious "mini-vacation" from my daily routine right now...well, maybe 2 "mini vacations!" ;)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Como Zoo and Conservatory

Yesterday morning, Parker and I met up with some friends at Como Zoo for a fun morning out! Parker always gets so excited to see Bella, and of course, Michelle and I always enjoy the "mommy visits." We met another girlfriend of hers and her children there as well...all in all, with the extra neighborhood children that had tagged along with Chelle and Nicki there were 11 children and 3 adults (one of which had to skip off to the bathroom 7 times during the almost 3 hours we were's a might have been the pregnant one.) To say that the entire morning was complete an utter chaos wouldn't hit it close; I would be lying if I said we didn't have a blast though! The kids loved every minute of it; although we didn't see all the animals and exhibits that we intended on seeing, those children were running around with smiles on their faces the entire time we were there and that's what's most important.

After spending the first few minutes of the morning at the playground and picnic area, we entered the Como Conservatory area to view the Blooming Butterflies exhibit. This "indoor, temporary exhibit" is where one can see hundreds of butterflies "flying freely" from 5 different continents. "The screened structure resembles a caterpillar from the outside and encloses close to 3000 square feet of garden butterfly habitat. Como’s Blooming Butterflies exhibit features a variety of butterfly species and the native flowering nectar plants that sustain them." I managed to capture a few pictures of several of the beautiful, winged creatures in between watching to make sure all the two and three year olds followed the rules by not "throwing items at or trying to capture the butterflies." ;)
Michelle and I managed to get Parker and Bella to pose for a few pictures...and snag a few random shots like this one in between. These two were practically inseparable the whole morning. Where one went, the other followed. When one beckoned, the other responded. I love watching their friendship grow each time we get together.
Another popular feature of the Como Zoo today was Sparky the Sea Lion show. The kids had great seats where they chowed down on snacks while watching the tricks and adventures of Sparky. I can't say whether or not it was a great show (although I would guess by the reaction of the crowd it was) because I was too busy swatting this annoying bee that kept flying around the kids heads and passing more food to the front of the kid zone...running to the bathroom, wiping dirty hands, etc.
Sadly, we had to leave shortly after the Sparky show to head home, but before calling it a day at the zoo, we did get to see some gorgeous plants and exotic wildlife at a portion of the Tropical Encounters exhibit, where Parker was most into the anaconda and the colorful fish. Along with these enthralling creatures, we viewed pink flamingos, ducks, giant tortoises, zebras and a few other important creatures. I was disappointed to miss the polar bears, the new baby giraffe, and a few other exhibits, but I've decided we'll just have to make another trip out there soon. Although we went to Como Zoo a couple of times last year, this was our first experience with it this that will definitely have to be repeated in the upcoming weeks!

Como Zoo is a fascinating place --one that we are blessed and thankful to have near our home that we can visit whenever we want. The history and story of Como Zoo and Conservatory and its beginnings are quite captivating. I have been told that it is the only "free" zoo and conversatory in North America today. I appreciate the many members and donators who still contribute heavily today to maintain its original missions and goals.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Storytime at the Red Balloon Bookshop, sweet treats at Cafe Latte, and time at home...

Laurie, a girlfriend of mine from church, her sweet baby boy Emmett, and Parker and I visited the Toddler Storytime at The Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul last week.

It was especially hot and humid here (for Minne) for a couple of weeks and honestly just too hot some days to get out and play for long...Parker could've played all day if I'd let him; it was his mom that couldn't take the heat and the swollen ankles! ha! Knowing my son wouldn't be content indoors for long periods of time, I planned a couple of fun outings for of them being this storytime. (Thanks, Laurie, for the great suggestion!)

I have never been to a more fun story hour! All of the 20+ kids there enjoyed it. Not only did they read a neat book to the children, but they incorporated education into the entire half hour including a letter of the day (which just happened to be the letter "P"), a number of the day, a traditional nursery rhyme, several songs, and special props that the kids got to help and pretend with after the story was read. The story was a comical one about some animals that went on a picnic one sunny afternoon. When the reading was over, the storytime leader pulled out a large picnic basket and blanket filled with red plates and cups that she passed out to each of the children. Each child called out the different foods and drinks that they thought should be included in the pretend picnic. Parker's choice food was apples.

Red, the raccoon puppet mascot of the store, assisted with the event, to which the kids thought was even more fun. I was amazed at how good each of the toddlers were; hardly any of them budged from their spot for the entire half hour...that is how good this event was! To be able to keep my child still for that period of time takes major creativity and excitement!! I will definitely be going back for future storytimes this fall and winter. Along with weekly storytimes for children of different ages, The Red Balloon Bookshop also hosts Saturday morning storytimes during different weeks of the month that I hope to check out in the future. These typically include the authors themselves who are there to meet and greet and sometimes autograph their books for the children.
In the picture below: Parker is the one in white
After storytime, Laurie and the kids and I walked over to Cafe Latte for a scrumptious lunch and dessert. Along with a delicious chicken and spinach salad sandwich, I enjoyed the traditional Classic Vanilla with Strawberries cheesecake. I even splurged and treated Parker to a chocolate cupcake (since I had long decided I wasn't going to share mine!) To say it was out of this world yummy would be the understatement of the year.  
One thing that Clay and I are so blessed to have is great neighbors. Our friends, Jeff and Heather and their two precious girls, are always welcoming us over to their home and their yard for playtime. On many summer afternoons, the three kids have been round running around in the sprinklers, riding in the jeeps and on their bikes, watering the plants, going through boxes of popsicles, and splashing in the backyard pool. I love watching them play together; it's so cute. Last week, when Clay was gone for awhile, Parker and I took off down the little hill to play in their garage for the afternoon..well, the kiddos played and I plopped myself down in a comfy lawn chair to observe and take pictures. :) The cute thing about this afternoon and this picture is that each time the children went around the house, they would be in a different spot in the pink jeep; it never stayed consistent. "Here they come, and oh look, McKenzie is sitting in Alexia's lap and Parker is beside the girls this time!"
After a pretty busy week, we spent the weekend together as a family at home tackling our chores and tasks, enjoying the simple moments together. Clay and Parker spent hours on "Troublemaker," washing, waxing and detailing the trusty Ford. Clay stayed up late one night replacing spark plugs, distributor caps, ignition wires, the fan belt and a bunch of other things...I personally don't understand any of it, but I have to say after paying someone else to replace the brakes in my car last week, I am thankful that my hubby is good at doing a lot of these things himself. I think it saves us a ton of, I think he actually really enjoys doing it (which I also don't understand, but will never try to either!)
After finishing his job on the truck, Parker decided his bike needed a wash down...
On a somewhat different note: The nursery is now complete (well, until the baby arrives and we figure out its name!)...diapers are stocked, onesies are folded, crib sheets and bedding are washed and in place, curtains are hung...I am one happy mama every time I look in that room.

Parker's room is almost complete...we're still waiting on some of the backordered bedding to arrive. I can't wait to see the finished least for now! :) I plan to add a little more wall decor in the future, but for the time being, the room will be complete in my book.

I'll be back with some pictures from the nursery and P's room soon! Also, tomorrow I'll post about our adventures at Como Zoo this morning!
P.S. My camera is back and working as of today! Yea!!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

my life in lists

Lately, I have been finding such peace and solace in my lists. (more so than usual!) I am and always have been a "list girl." Every day I find myself making new lists and looking forward to crossing off as many of the items as I can. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise started when I was in elementary and has stuck with me ever since. I still have every single school/year-at-a-glance calendar with notes plastered all over them; it makes me smile to go and look at previous year's annotations and what my "to do's" were 10 years different than today's.

Here were a few of my to do's on August 11, 1999:
Schedules 9am
New Student Orientation 9:30-10am
Cheer practice 9-12pm
Dr. Loria in Oxford 4pm
church 6:30-7:30pm
Show (aka the movie theater) at 7:30pm
Gene's Bday (one of my boss's at McAlisters)

Today, my lists are quite different, but still as full. Grocery lists, "To Do" lists broken down by room and month, Idea Lists, "To Buy for House" decor list, "meals for the next month" lists, "Christmas ideas" list, possible "Baby Names" list --we need to spend a lot more time on this one!, "supplies to stock up on before Baby #2 arrives" list, and of course the never-ending Scrapbooking ideas and projects lists. :)

One of the reasons for the lack of posts lately is actually because of these lists... in addition to our crazy, everyday life events this last month and a half or so, I have been faithfully and steadily getting things crossed off each of my lists during the 4 1/2 mins a day my two and a half year old actually lets me. Writing down and completing tasks gives me such a feeling of accomplishment. I have a long way to go before the first of October, but truthfully I am having fun and looking forward to checking off many more items before that time!

[insert "list" picture here]

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

our yesterday


My hubby got to spend a "bonus" day at home with was incredible to have him home for that extra day!

Clay mowed the lawn..Parker helped, of course, by following his daddy with his Fisher Price Lawn Mower...I sat in a lawn chair and enjoyed the sweet smell of the grass (until my fingers started swelling and then I went inside)

We marked off 6 things on our Project To Do of those being deep cleaning the wooden blinds was hours before the smile was wiped off of my face! It made me sooo happy!

Did 6 loads of laundry.

I cried over not having my camera...this cheap temp camera is not doing the trick. I go through a set of Double AA batteries after like 7 pics. Boo. I've taken less than a dozen photos in the last week and that makes me sad. :(

Excitedly fixed a quick and easy chicken and pasta dish for lunch using leftover grilled chicken from the other night yummy tomatoes, Italian dressing and mozzarella cheese. The guys loved it! With it, we paired some scrumptious, juicy blackberries.

At 9:45 last night, I was starving so I fixed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with apple juice.

Had my 32 week doctor's appt...everything looks great!

Worked in the Nursery a little bit.

For fun, I grabbed some random pictures (May-July) that Parker has taken with my camera. This summer, he has really taken interest in being behind the lens as much as in front of it...bless his heart, he gets it honestly! :) I loved looking back and seeing things from his view!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Teddy Bear Park, picnic overlooking the St. Croix, and old fashioned malts...

On Saturday, Clay, Parker and I headed out reasonably early for a play date in Stillwater, MN. I am a huge fan of this quaint community and love visiting the area a couple of times a was actually the first place that Clay took me to in MN right before moving up here after the wedding. We went and ate at the Dock Cafe as we chatted about our future together in MN.

With our move, doctors appts, travels to MS, and just all out busy schedule this spring and summer, we haven't done as many day trips as we typically try to do. With Saturday being somewhat free, I jumped at the opportunity to plan a mini trip to Teddy Bear Park, followed by a picnic and some browsing through the local community. Parker was so excited when we arrived at the big play area; he ran straight to the big choo choo train to climb, slide and play! Other neat attractions for children in this park include a "Spider's web" climbing zone, a super-sized tree house complete with a bridge, slides, and secret peepholes, a rock climbing area (which scared all the mom's to death, but the kids and dads had great fun with it), sandbox zone, and much much more!

One of the fascinating things about the park is that it overlooks the central downtown area which is right on the St. Croix River. So, as you're playing at Teddy Bear Park, which is on top of a large hill, you get a beautiful view of not only virtually the whole town itself, but also the spectacular sights of the St. Croix River and Bridge (on one side of this spectacular bridge is MN and on the other Wisconsin).

We spent a good two hours at the park before taking our picnic goods down to the river. There are many yummy restaurant options that sit overlooking the bridge and town, so if you don't want to picnic, you can choose from one of the fabulous dining options available. Parker sat mesmorized by the passing boats in the water and by the seagulls flying overhead making their famous squawking sounds.

After lunch, Parker and Clay fed the seagulls as I packed up our belongings. We then opted for a leisurely walk on the dock, hoping to see the Bridge lift and the fine boats at the Stillwater Boat Club (hubby requested a walk to see the nice boats trucks, he enjoys researching and viewing these luxury items as often as he can!) Parker's wonderment with the Bridge lift and the 40+ passing boats was cute to watch.

It was a warm day, so we were quickly ready for a cold treat. Clay took us to a local malt shop and diner, Leo's Grill and Malt Shop, where we dined on old fashioned malts. Parker opted for a simple chocolate ice cream cone, but thoroughly enjoyed that as well! After cooling off for a few minutes with our treats, we started walking back towards the car. We stopped in two little shops on our way out just for made me want to do some early Christmas and birthday shopping. There were such neat little things to see that it made you want to not leave without taking something home with you! Clay said it was a good thing I hadn't brought my purse with me! ha!

At that point, it was past nap time, so we loaded up the car and headed home to tackle some household to do's. Big accomplishments to check off list: Assembled the rest of Parker's furniture in his bedroom including his new bunk bed!!! He was so excited to get to sleep in his new bed that night! Wish he wanted to sleep two hours later in the morning now with his new bedding, but I guess that's asking too much! ha!
6am the next morning..."The sun is up mama! The sun is up now mama! Time to get up!" ;)


Sunday, August 1, 2010

our life in summary over the past 2 weeks

Family in MN- 1 set of parents and 3 sisters (my in-laws), cookouts on the deck, buying Parker his "big boy bunk bed", Poppie staining and sanding the new bed, Clay, Carrie and Parker assembling the newly stained bunk bed, unloading a U-haul with fun furniture from the past (and 2 mounted deer heads that my hubby has been talking about moving up here and hanging since we moved into our first apt in 2006!), late night cookie bakes in the kitchen, sidewalk chalk silhouettes in the driveway, painting fun projects out on the deck, birthday celebrations, swinging and lots of playtime at the park, tackling random house projects, losing a precious loved one who is now with her Saviour in Heaven, flying down to MS for funeral arrangements, seeing over 75 family members that we haven't seen since the wedding, crying over our loss and rejoicing over sweet memories and her future with the Lord, being thankful for our time with family, taking a family day trip to Stillwater, MN (more to come on that in another post), leaving the house at 3:30am and arriving at the airport at 5:15am only to spend 9 hours in an airport trying to get back to Minne and almost 2 hrs stalled on an airplane of which did not have air conditioning for an hour of that time (my swollen feet and ankles had seen better days), sitting in court for a total of 3 hrs in order to take care of an expired tag registration (P.S. If you're a transplant to MN, read up on the laws here...there aren't grace periods like there are in MS or TX!!), 2 doctors appts (Baby weighs almost 3 lbs, heartbeat is right around 145-150 and it is still as active and busy as tends to like sitting, pushing, kicking or whatever it can do to my ribs during this last week...ouchie!! And apparantly, it prefers certain types of music over others...thanks to Aunt Ashee, CiCi and KK who spent quite an extensive period of time huddled over my tummy playing different tunes on the iphone (that was smushed against my belly) cracking up when the baby would dance and kick for certain sounds!!!)...

...moving Parker's new furniture into his room, scrapbooking for a few blissful hours, a quick afternoon trip to the zoo (Parker announced as soon as we got in the car headed home from the airport that he wanted to go to the zoo to see the animals that we did), sleeping in his new bed for the first time (July 31, 2010), ordering curtains for house and bedding for Parker's room, using the "big boy potty" a lot, spending a few fun hours at a nearby lake and making sand castles, enjoying the new dead bolts on each of the "outside" doors and feeling relief in knowing that Parker can't reach them to escape outside when mommy and daddy aren't looking, starting and finishing an entire novel at the airport (first one completed since June 2009...that wasn't about child-rearing or organization), taking my camera that starting "smoking" out of the flash back to Best Buy to get it fixed (and having an extensive conversation with the manager on why they had to supply me with a temporary camera since mine was out of commission for who knows how long!), spending at least 2 hours on the phone with the insurance company and our hospital trying to fix messed up bills...ugh! you gotta love dealing with that stuff, praying for patience in dealing with our two and a half year old's adorable but challenging phase that wears me out on a daily basis, watching my energy level slowly drop the further along I get in this pregnancy, and savoring the few, precious laid-back moments that we've had lately.

I would say that that just about sums up the majority of our everyday life over the last two weeks. Hundreds of pictures later, here are a few in a random variety that I am choosing to share. Hopefully, this will give you a glimpse into our little world and make you smile... nothing fancy or special...but moments cherished by us.