Saturday, July 30, 2011

Natalie's Specials

I am very blessed to have a lot of super crafty people in Natalie's life as well as tons of people that absolutely love her to pieces and we've accumulated a bunch of "special" things that I'm planning on holding on for her to put in her own house someday or to pass on to her own kiddos.  Here are a few of the special items that have been either made or lovingly bought for Natalie.

One of my mother's dear friends Gretchen made this blanket for Natalie and it is a constant feature of our bedroom.  It is always lying on the ground ready for some playing with toys and lots of tummy time.

This snuggly blanket was made for Natalie by my super crafty friend Amy (who made a ton of other stuff for the nursery as well) and it is a fixture in her crib at night and during naptimes.  It is soft and cozy and is definitely going to be her favorite security blanket.

I had this great idea to make a family quilt for Natalie with each of the family members writing a special message to Natalie on a quilt patch.  I got the idea from my friend Kristin's wedding where the wedding guests did something similar at the reception.  Unfortunately, I had absolutely no idea on how to put together a quilt so I employed my mother-in-law and her quilting friends to put the finished project together.  I haven't gotten it out for Natalie to play on yet because I am afraid that she will spit up on it and ruin some of the words.  It has a cute matching pillow and pillowcase that will be perfect for cuddling up on the couch with for family movie night someday.

My square - it was so hard to write on the material!

I love this square because Alexander and Ford (or FORB) wrote their own names and then had Nonna (my mother) write special messages from them to their baby cousin.

Natalie's square from her Daddy.

And of course, big sister Angie had to have her own message as well.

Over the course of my pregnancy, my mother and Natalie's godmother Kate gave me some really special items but I wanted to display them in a way that would preserve them properly.  My mom and her friend Gretchen (same Gretchen as the blanket above) put the items in a shadow box for me!  The pink cross is from Kate, the tiny medallion has a picture of me as a baby which was given to my mother by my grandmother and the large Madonna and child medallion was my grandmother's that hung over her bed in her house in College Station.  My mother gave me this medallion at Christmas and of course, I was pregnant and in tears as I opened it and realized what she had given me.  This box hangs right by Natalie's crib so that she will always have three very important women (her godmother, her Nonna and her great-grandma) always looking over her.

When I received my Confirmation, my middle brother Mike gave me the this famous Footsteps story which originally had a gold frame and a glass cover.  I had it hanging in my high school, college and grown-up apartment but I couldn't quite find the right spot for it in the house that I share with Craig.  Through the process of moving, the glass broke and it spent the majority of it's time in the closet under the stairs.  When I was cleaning out the closet about a year ago I found it and realized that it would be perfect to put in the new baby's room because Mike would be the godfather!  I had my dad repaint the gold frame to a nice silver so it would match and now it hangs right by the box of special items that my mother gave me.

I found the inspiration for this artwork on Pinterest and I made my own using Power Point.  It has our name, our birthdate, length and weight as well as the time and town that we were all born.  Natalie is by far the biggest baby in weight and length!  If we have another child, I might convert the colors to black, white and gray and hang all FOUR family member's in the hallway or living room or something.

These were my white dress shoes when I was a baby and I have them sitting out on a shelf in Natalie's room.  She wore them to church a few weeks ago when I stayed at my parent's house for the weekend!

My middle brother Mike and his wife Laura Renee currently live in Maine and over the past few years that they have lived there they have made a few trips over the Canadian border into the Frenchier parts of Canada.  On one of their trips last fall, my sister-in-law saw this super cute ceramic piggy bank with the words of the animals in French!  My brother carefully bubble wrapped it and brought it with him when he came to meet her last March.

Natalie has received tons of stuffed animals which I am sure she will enjoy playing with someday, but she has gotten four very special animals: a red lobster which was brought from Maine by her Uncle Michael, a green Beanie Bear given to her by the men at the baseball card shop where she often goes with her daddy, a brown bear brought to her from Colorado by her Aunt Sis (Craig's younger sister), and Marie the cat from Aristocat's given to her by my friend Amy's daughter Emma.  Emma bought Marie for Natalie with her very own money and wrote that she wanted to give Marie to Natalie because Marie is HER favorite toy to play with so she thought that Natalie would love her too.  Such a sweet little girl.

These three figurines were given to me by my mother's very good friend Kathy G.  The middle one came to me while I was pregnant last December and then other two were given to me after Natalie was born in March.

In February before Natalie was born my two good friends Heather and Amy came over one Saturday afternoon and helped me finish up decorating and organizing Natalie's room.  I had this frame hanging on the wall with no picture but I had plans to put a really pretty newborn or family picture into it once Natalie was born.  Amy took it upon herself to drawn her own interpretation of the Nelson family (including Angie!) to occupy the frame until I could get a better picture.  I remember Amy drawing similar pictures for me when we were in junior high and high school and now that she's moved off to Washington state, I just don't have the heart to replace it.  I like looking at it and thinking of Amy and how much she helped me through the pregnancy and the transition to new mommyhood.

On my registry I had a couple of packages of receiving blankets and my friend Heather's mother bought a pack of the blankets and then used her embroidery machine to personalize the blankets with pictures and Natalie's name.  Of course my personal favorite is the one all the way on the right with her name and a basketball with two volleyballs.

This isn't nearly as creative and spectacular as some of the things that other people have made for her, but it was my own contribution to her bedroom.  I took a normal white canvas and stapled on some leftover polka dot material and then painted her name (without using a stencil or anything like that) onto it.  I haven't quite finished the flower design at the bottom...but it's fine for right now I suppose.

These are a few of the special outfits that Natalie has received.  The top left hoodie was given to me by the PTA at my school - I'm sure she'll be sporting it to lots of volleyball games!  Last fall when Craig and I went to our yearly "Meet the Stars" season ticket holder event, we bought an infant jersey and had all the players sign it!  The sweater on the right was made by my mom's friend Marge who I used to help in the nursery at church!  She also made the bonnet at the top of the picture which will be worn with her christening gown at her baptism which I have tentatively scheduled for September-ish.

My friend Beri made Natalie two cute towels with hoods and her name embroidered on the hood.  The towels are really thick and cushy - great for using after a bath, but even better for drying off from swimming!  They are regular size towels so she will be able to use them for a very long time.

I think that's about all the "special" stuff I could find when I searched her room and bathroom.  I am so blessed to have so many people that took their own time and money to make such beautiful things for my baby.  If only I was creative and talented to make things like this for them and their families!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cleaning Out My Closets...The Finale

Entryway Closet
I love, love, love this closet because it isn't just a hall closet to store coats, but it goes all the way underneath our stairs and provides us with A LOT of extra and necessary storage.  If we didn't have this, Craig would not be a happy camper because he'd be the one hauling all this junk in and out of the attic!
Right when you open the door are all our jackets, coats and Craig's hats.  And our vacuum.  And Craig's ice machine...that's broke...which can probably be put in the trash bin now.

Further in...oh...hello pillows and blankets that I threw in there during tornado season.  As you can see, this is our tornado and severe weather bunker where I spent many nights this spring curled up with Angie and Natalie surrounded by pillows and blankets.  Looking past those, we have our safe (shh...don't tell anyone) and two (yes...TWO) sets of crutches because in our family you can never have too many crutches.

Okay.  I know this looks like a jumbled mess, but I promise you that there is a method to this madness.  This is way under the stairs and on the left are all our Christmas decorations including all those red boxes that house Craig's Christmas village.  I say "Craig's" because I'm not really into holiday decorating.  I could survive happily with just putting up a tree and stockings and being done with it but not my husband.  He LOVES his village and if I let him he would put up tacky Christmas decor everywhere.  Ugh.  On the right are all our various suitcases and travel bags.  See?  These are all things that typically are up in the attic but since we have this great storage space they get to hang out here and we don't have to lug them down the crickety ladder that leads up to the attic.

I really wish that we had more of a walk-in pantry but our will do - it serves it's function and holds our food.  It isn't very well lit so my mom and I bought those push lights and hung them on the sides of the shelves so I can see all my food.  I just realized that I don't really have a lot of food in my pantry but thinking back, neither did my mom.  She always only kept enough food to get us through the week which probably was a good thing - we never had a lot of unhealthy snacks lying around for us to chomp on.  I didn't post a close-up of the top shelf, but if you look at the top I have our party supplies (plastic plates, silverware and cups) in a basket on the left and all my pasta and rice is in jars in the middle with my napkins, baggies and foil on the right.

Shelf with canned goods, popcorn and breakfast stuff to the left.

Bread basket in the left corner along with our chips and for whatever reason...a huge jug of vinegar.  Curious.

The bottom two shelves are obviously more "storage" areas for extra water, sodas, paper products and dog food.

Laundry Room
Yes.  I have two trash cans.  And they are labeled.  One says "trash" and the other "recycle."  Please follow the instructions and throw your items in the appropriate can.

I love the built in shelves in my laundry room.  On the shelves on the left I have bags, miscellaneous cleaning products, smelly good stuff, cleaning rags and cloths and lightbulbs.  And of course all these things are labeled but what no one understands (for those of you who might tease my labeling obsession) is that I don't label for my own good because I know where everything goes.  I label for my husband so that when he goes to get something or put it away he knows where to find it and where to put it back.  That way my laundry room stays organized, he stays out of trouble and our marriage stays happy.  Ha!

The other side of the shelving unit are laundry supplies and swiffer pads.  A funny story - our housekeeper Martha always puts together a list of things that we need to buy when she is running low on a cleaning product.  For the longest time she would just write "Swiffer" on the list and I kept buying the Swiffer floor cleaner replacements all the while thinking to myself "Jeez!  My floor must be filthy for Martha to go through so many of these things."  I just kept accumulating more and more boxes of floor refills until one day I realized that Martha wasn't talking about the floor refills but instead the dusting refills.  So...if anyone in my neighborhood ever runs out of the Swiffer floor refills, come by and see me because I have about four or five unopen boxes of them sitting on my shelf.

This was the most recent addition to my laundry room - just a simple little hanging thing to put all our brooms, mops and of course...the infamous Swiffer.

That's it for the tour of my closets.  Hopefully you're not scared away by my OCD...or the secret areas in my house that aren't super organized (YET).

Cleaning Out My Closet Part II

Master Bedroom Closets
In our master bedroom we have two closets - one that is directly in the bedroom (Craig's) and then one that is in our bathroom (mine).  They differ quite a bit...see if you spot the differences.  Ha, ha, ha.
Walking directly into my closet.  Skirts, dress pants and capris on top, ratty old sweatshirts on the shelf and then cute jackets and my nice sweatshirts on the bottom.  Yes.  Being a coach, I really have "grungy" sweatshirts and "nice" sweatshirts.  You can't see it, but above the highest rack I have a shelf that holds my two big duffel bags - one is Adidas and the other I got from working as a Lead Lifeguard at NRH2O when I was in high school and college.

Turn to the left and here are my shoes - all my high heels are stored on the built in shelf...sigh...I used to have so many more.  And then I have flats and nice flip-flops stored in the hanging shoe rack that I got for cheap at IKEA.

Here are all my tops hanging from tank tops to cute tees to short sleeve work shirts to long sleeve work shirts and sweaters then to dresses.  Above are my purses on the shelf in the back and my new big Vera Bradley tote bag.

My athletic shoes that I wear constantly.  And that's not even all of them - I think I have a few more pairs hiding around the house in different locations.

Above my shirts, my "cool" sneakers and my more casual flip flops.  The gray Converse get worn the most.

And here is Craig's closet.  I at least have gotten him to hang his shorts and pants on the left and his shirts in sleeve order (short, long) and then dressiness order (polos, button ups) and then finally, all the way on the right are his heavier pull overs that he wears in the winter time.  Down below I need to get one of those shoe racks to hold his sneakers, dress shoes and flip flops.

The Hall Closet
Ugh.  One of my least favorite closets.  It is so small and cramped and all our sheets are white which makes it very hard to distinguish which sheets and pillowcases go together.  Plus...I'll let you in on my dirty little secret - I don't really deal with the sheets because I just let our housekeeper Martha take care of all that.  Eek!  Does anyone know of a better way to keep this closet organized AND how I can communicate that to Martha...or would that be a little TOO obsessive and controlling?  And yes, I saw something amazing on Pinterest about putting the sheets inside on of the matching pillow cases, but I don't know if I could get Martha to do that everytime.  Jeez...I sound really spoiled.

Spare Bedroom Closet
Believe it or not, this looks so much better than it did a few months ago.  At the beginning of the summer I made Craig and myself clean out all our clothes which included all the crap that we had just thrown into the spare closet.  On top you can see what used to be my super organized present wrapping box but has since gone into disarray since I was not the last person who used it and put it away...yes, I'm glaring at you Craig.  Underneath that box, I really have no earthly idea what is in any of that stuff because it's mostly junk that I inherited when I moved in with my husband.  Maybe that will be an upcoming project for him.

See?  We did clean out the clothes that were hanging, but we still have a bunch of junk in there that we don't need or use.  Sadly, it probably won't get cleaned out until we need the space for Baby Number 2!  Which, for those of you who just got their hopes up, won't be for a VERY long time.

Natalie's Closet
This is probably one of the cutest and most well organized closets in the house because again...I'm the one who is in charge of it and Craig rarely ventures in here.  I have all her toys stored in the bins in the shelving unit (all from Target) and on either side are diapers, wipes and the pack 'n play (on the right) and then things that she hasn't quite grown into using (bath toys and grocery cart seat covers) on the left.  I hang all her cute outfits in the closet with all her onesies in a drawer in her dresser.  See that big space right in the middle with the extra pink hangers?  To the left of those hangers is everything that she fits into right now with cute one-piece outfits in front, next are tops and bottoms that go together followed by her dresses.  She has more clothes than that but Momma hasn't put away the laundry recently.  To the right of those hangers are all the clothes that are waiting for her to grow into them in size and season order - for example, her more summery and warm weather 9 months stuff is at the front while her wintery and colder weather 9 months stuff is behind it and her 12+ months stuff is all the way in the back.  Now do you see why Craig doesn't mess with her clothes and just lets me put them all away?!

Natalie has a TON of shoes and at they too are organized in size order with her size 1 shoes at the top and then it works all the way down to size 4 at the bottom.  And to be honest, I've only bought her THREE pairs of shoes - all the rest were either given to me at a baby shower or I got second hand from a friend whose daughter outgrew them.

For one of our wedding showers we received this plastic tub that you put ice and drinks into but it's only been used once or twice and was just sitting up in our laundry room while all her stuffed animals were strewn across the top of her shelving unit taking up precious storage space.  So I had Craig bring it up from downstairs and right now it holds all her special stuffed animals that people have given her.

That's all the closets upstairs and my last post on closets will be everything downstairs!

Cleaning Out My Closet

Call it what you will (most people would say OCD) but I am organized.  My favorite store on Earth is The Container Store but I try not to go there too much because Natalie does need a college fund.  Over the past few days and weeks I have been obsessing about cleaning and organizing my closets - I think I've been spurred to action through Pinterest and salivating over all of the immaculately organized spaces people share on there. 

So here it goes...the good, the bad and the ugly of all the closets in our house.

The New Fridge
Okay, so technically I know it shouldn't be considered a "closet" but if by definition a "closet" is a closed place to store things, then the fridge can be considered...a portable closet for food?!  Or maybe I'm just really excited about my new toy and want to show it off.  Either way...
Here she is in all her glory - and don't worry, I have cleaned off all the smudge marks from the front.  We got her on clearance from Best Buy because she (why am I calling it a "she?") was the floor model from last year.  Well...I don't really care if it's last year's model because it looks great and we were able to get a higher end fridge for a lower end price.  Score.  See how beautifully she fills up the space and blends in with the other stainless steel appliances?!  Swoon.

Here is the inside of the fridge and believe it or not, I put a lot of time and effort into deciding exactly where was the best place for everything to go.  And yes, all the labels face forward at all times.

Master Bathroom Closet
I used to have hideous blue buckets holding all some things but everything else was just scattered around.  I wanted some cohesion and everything to look more or less the same so off to Target I trotted and I returned home a few (ha!) dollars poorer, but look how pretty it all looks!

Medicine basket - wow...all I can see is Gas-X, Phillips and even a Tums bottle...maybe I should have turned those things around.

We go on a lot of trips and before every vacation I go to Target and buy travel toiletries and then when I get home and start packing I realize that I already OWN a ton of travel stuff.  So here is the basket with all our travel size lotions, shampoos, conditioners, Q-Tips, toothpaste etc.  I will not have to buy anything for a very long time.  And you can barely see it, but to the right of the basket I have a stored a few of my travel toiletries bags so that when I'm going to pack and grab one of those bags, I will see this basket and be reminded not to buy anymore travel items!

In the back are lotions, sunscreens and hand soaps that I use...but not on a daily or regular basis.  In the front is my collection of hair bands, bobby pins and headbands.

This is a big basket where I store the "refills" of stuff - toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, shaving gel, deodorant and apparently...we need three lint rollers.

Okay.  That's enough for one blog...this will be continued shortly...and don't worry, not everything in my house is as nice and neat as my fridge and master bathroom closet.  These two areas are just two of the most used and therefore have to be the cleanest.

Monday Day Book

*I really did write this on Monday, but my flash drive died and I've been transferring pictures all over my computer from old flash drive to hard drive to new flash drive.  So...that's why I'm just now posting this today.*

Taken from my friend Molly who found it here.
Outside my is 6:53 and all is still quiet on my street.

I am thinking...that maybe if Natalie had finished her rice cereal bottle at bedtime she wouldn't have been up so much last night.  I am also thinking that I need to have more patience with my husband and realize that he isn't going to do everything exactly the way I do it and the way I do it isn't always the best, right or only way to do things.

I am thankful for...the tournament being over.  Craig was up in Frisco the last two weekends running his big tournaments and staying in hotel rooms and it's been a little bit difficult for me.  I'm also thankful for my parents for letting me crash at their house for one night each of the weekends. 

From the learning rooms...Craig and I both got our welcome back to school letters in the mail from our principals.  I'm having mixed feelings about going back - on the one hand, I crave a good solid schedule and I'm looking forward to my hour and forty minutes off every day where I can run errands, read my celebrity gossip, catch up on blogs and work out...without any interruption from the cutest 4.5 month old ever.

From the kitchen...I made Craig a very good dinner last Thursday night before he went to his tournament - we had vinegar, brown sugar and pear drenched pork chops, broccoli-cheese-rice casserole and onion baked potatoes.  Yum.  We went out to dinner yesterday as a celebration of the tournament being over and for dessert I had driven all the way to downtown Dallas to his favorite cupcake shop Sprinkles...he had a red velvet cupcake and then half a key lime pie cupcake.

I am wearing...comfy clothes, no make-up and messy hair in a ponytail.  It's 7:00 in the morning - this is the best it gets right now.

I am creating...lots of different design and outfit ideas and DIY projects on my new obsession, pinterest.

I am be getting my new fridge anytime now - the delivery men called at 7:00 this morning and said they would be here in twenty minutes!  I am so super excited!!!

I am reading...Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to Natalie at night and sometimes at naptime if she is struggling to fall asleep.  I think in the future when she wants to see the movies, I'm going to make her read the book first that way by the time she gets to the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th books where things are a bit darker she will be mature enough (hopefully) to understand them.
I am hoping...that Natalie behaves herself when we go to Vegas in a few weeks for my birthday.  I think she'll do alright for our parents...she just gets so cranky in the evenings.

I am hearing...the delivery truck pulling up and unloading my new fridge!

Around the house...have I told you I'm getting a new fridge today?  It's stainless steel with french doors up top and the freezer down below.

One of my favorite things...My new fridge!!!  It just got installed (this blog has taken me awhile to write) and it is absolutely beautiful.  Sigh.  Now I just need to keep the doors closed so it will get cold!  Ha!

A few plans for the rest of the week: We have a Rangers game on Wednesday night and I need to do some clothes shopping, but nothing too terribly major...which is nice.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...Natalie and I spent one night at my parent's house for the past two weekends while Craig was up in Frisco tournamenting.  My mom and I gave Natalie a bat and of course all the puppy dogs (Andy, Angie and Annabelle) had to come and check on the baby in the bathroom.