Two Story Cottage

New Adventures

Dear Friends,

Do you know what I can’t stand?  Cliff hangers.  I don’t enjoy my favorite shows ending for the season with a giant “what the heck?” I feel like my life this fall has been all about jumping off the ledge without knowing what will happen.  For a planner like myself, taking risks doesn’t come easily but it does bring a sense of adventure.

When I started this blog, I specifically pictured myself fully engaged when both kids were in school.  The funny thing is I think I had more time with the kids at home.  School life is a lot of shuffling and running around like a dog chasing its tail.  Regardless, blogging has brought me a new opportunity.

A job that I could not have dreamed up if I’d tried.   Since school started, I’ve eased into my new part-time position as a designer with a small firm here in Charlotte that works on model homes.  There are so many aspects and there is so much to learn.  There are over 100 vendors that we have a relationship with and I’m in the process of getting a feel for each of those.  I’m learning new computer and software things.  I’m trying to keep up and my brain is working overtime all of the time.  For the most part, I work when the kids are in school but I can see that I’ll be walking the fine line of trying to balance my obligations.

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L to R: Caracole, Rowe Furniture, Wendover Art

I did get to go to the High Point Market for two full days.  It was eye opening.  And tiring.  No, I didn’t meet Chip or Joanna Gaines but I saw their showroom which really showcased the Magnolia Homes style.  Elsewhere, I saw plenty of fabulous furniture and things I’d classify as hideous but are sure to please someone.  I’m being challenged but am learning every day.  I’m knee deep in all things design which feels like a dream.

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Top Three: Miles Talbott Bottom Three: Magnussen Home, Ink + Ivy, Caracole 

It feels like a comic strip where I’m moving in slow motion but the days are in full time fast forward.  I don’t plan to abandon this journey because blogging has done so much for me.  I can’t promise regular posts but I intend to keep you updated.

Thanks for joining me on this crazy ride.

-Erin

 

 

Ode to School & September

Dear Friends,

Well, I can’t let the whole month of September pass without acknowledging back to school time for the kiddos .  This year was particularly special because I have a kindergartner and second grader.  That means everyone is in the same spot for the first time ever.  It feels like a big milestone as a mom.

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Reid going to kindergarten has been bittersweet.  It is so exciting for him to be at big school. He is thrilled to do all of the things Lacey has done and I can tell he thinks he is big stuff.   He is proud and challenged in such a good way.

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However, kindergarten is an adjustment.   It wears them out like nothing else.  My even keeled boy is all kinds of cranky by the end of the week.  It has taken a few weeks but finally he is settling in and as a family the routine is feeling more normal.

Second grade has been a seamless transition which I’m thankful for.  Lacey is excited to have her brother at school but slightly annoyed at having to share her special place.  She has made it clear that she is the seasoned veteran and we all need to remember that.

September often feels like a blur and survival mode is the mantra. October is such a fun month in comparison so I’m ready for the next chapter!

-Erin

This & That Monday: deals, dinner, and a work in progress

Dear Friends,

Happy Monday.  It is unusually exciting here because Mr. C is home after a looong business trip.  We did pretty well for the first several days but by day seven I was in survival mode. Kudos to all of the single moms out there. Or the Moms with husbands who travel on a regular basis.  It didn’t help that spring sports (softball & t-ball!) started this week plus we had a birthday and a time change.  The kids were overtired and alternating between hyper and cranky which was driving me to the brink.

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Last week our gas was turned off by mistake.  The gas company mixed up our account with someone else’s and bam, I had a notice on the front door that we had been shut off.  That involved a lot of phone calls and a gas man at my house at 9:30 at night.  All of that stuff seems to happen when Mr. C is not here!  Without gas there is no heat, no range, and no hot water and that is not good.  It did remind me to be thankful for that service although I was cursing them on the inside.

Luckily, peace has returned.  I’m looking ahead on the calendar to spring break in a few weeks! I can’t wait – we are traveling which is highly unusual for us but exciting all the same.  I’m thrilled and nervous because we are going on our very first cruise.  A Disney cruise which is a forever dream of mine.  I say mine and not ours because Mr. C isn’t sure about the whole cruise thing.  He is convinced we will be shipwrecked or get dysentery (Oregon Trail, anyone?).  Don’t forget food poisoning.  We watch a lot of Dateline around here so we are fully prepared.  He is being a good sport though and I know he will love it. He better because this is our vacation for 2015.  Remind me of that this summer when it is 105 degrees.

Any cruise tips for me?  I desperately need some cruise wear in the form of swimsuits or cover-ups or cute little dresses.  Not my favorite shopping to do but I guess a little pre-vacation suffering is in order.

 

target swimsuits

I got the kiddos a couple of bathing suits from Target. Last week they were buy one, get one half off.  If you missed that, this week they are 10% off with the cartwheel app.  I always have to size down with bathing suits for both of them – they are narrow waisted and we don’t want any hinies shining.

I saw the cutest shower curtain online the other day when I was browsing sales.  Reduced to $18.99 from $68 at Serena & Lily .  Adorable and not needed here but I know someone out there could use it.

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We have been working on a pretty big project that I can’t wait to show you.  Sneak peek for the week and that is Mr. C’s study if you can’t tell from the picture.  He is going to have a true man room.

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We had beautiful weather this weekend which gave us spring fever.   It is raining today though and I thought I’d squeeze another soup night in before winter is truly over.  I’m trying sausage corn chowder tonight.  I’ve gotten quite a few recipes from Mix & Match Mama and they have all been yummy.

Cheers to a good week, friends!

-Erin

Bad Things & Good Things

Dear Friends,

Last week was one of those “is this really happening” sort of weeks that makes you thankful for the nice, normal, sometimes boring “regular” weeks.   Reid had a fever last Monday and I was bummed because, frankly, I really wanted him to go to school Tuesday.  I had a couple of appointments and plans that were hanging in the balance so I was frustrated by the little setback.

After wheezing set it on Tuesday, I knew school wasn’t happening so we made the dreaded trip to the doctor’s office.  We got some breathing treatments and crossed our fingers that he would respond right away.

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Well, Wednesday passed and after a rough night, I knew something wasn’t right because he was still in and out of fever.  We ended up going for a chest x-ray and wouldn’t you know he had pneumonia.

It was the weirdest thing.  He went from perfectly healthy to really sick in no time flat.  That seems to be the Reid way. I’m not sure if it is the autoimmune disease rearing its ugly head or if it is just how his body works.  Who knows?

Antibiotics and absolute rest were on the agenda.  Like snow days or time in the hospital, it is like the calendar just poofs into thin air and everything that seems important disappears.  A time warp of sorts. We did have a lot of treasured snuggle time but by Friday I was begging for a jailbreak.  Luckily, my newly-retired dad came to relieve me for a couple hours so I could make a much needed trip to the store.

Funny, this is sounding all about me.  I know – poor, Reid.  He was pretty pitiful.  He is doing much better though and I’m thankful for his rocking good attitude.   After a couple of days of antibiotics, he was feeling well enough to go to Greenville for the weekend.  We had a scheduled visit with the grandparents and cousins so I was grateful we still got to go- particularly since Mr. C and I had planned to steal away to Asheville for some time just the two of us.  My in-laws were totally up for the challenge and we left Reid in good hands.  Luckily, he was sleeping well and feeling much better by that point.

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I was sure our little getaway wasn’t going to happen but I’m so glad we decided to go- it was well worth it!  In the end it all sort of worked out.  A tough week followed by a blissful, beautiful time.  Oh, and I went to the Tobacco Barn for the first time.  The building is crammed full of the most amazing things.  We were there maybe 10 minutes when they called for closing time.  Apparently, the winter hours are different from the rest of the year.  It was a this-must-be-a-dream tease.  I didn’t buy a thing but I already know I have to go back some day.

The hard part now?  I still have to keep him resting.  Uh, yeah.  Tell the 4 year old boy who feels much better and has been shut in a bubble for a week to “rest.”  Reid is a study in motion.  Absolutely nothing he does is restful.

Nothing.

Wish me luck!

-Erin

P.S.  We are attempting preschool later this week but no physical activity.

And cue the laughter. 

 

Family Photos that Don’t Stink

Dear Friends,

I hired a newborn photographer after Reid was born and haven’t had professional pictures done since.  Every fall and spring, when everyone is showcasing pictures and planning perfectly coordinated outfits I’m lamenting on the lack thereof.  It always sounds great but I struggle with the follow through.  My Perfect Pinterest family is still stuck on the virtual board.

My mom has been requesting a family photo before holiday time that includes baby cousin, Savannah.   Last Sunday, we met in the park and my brother-in-law set-up his camera and tripod for a photo fest.  I didn’t shop for outfits and not a dollar was spent but the outcome was pretty good considering.  Of course, Andrew had to spend time downloading and doctoring photos but he was a good sport about it.

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I need to do an update on little Ms. Savannah and her nursery.  Can you believe she is 4 months now?  Yikes!  Andrew & Emily are handling parenthood like champs.  Probably much better than Mr. C and I did the first time around.  I don’t think we were prepared.

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behind_scenes

Cooperation from all parties in a family photo is next to impossible.  Looking happy is clearly hard work as seen above.

I still plan on that perfectly planned photo some day but this will do for now.   Honestly, this was a good lesson for me.  Just like house stuff, I’m always tempted to wait for that perfect opportunity.  You know, the one that never comes?  It is better to seize the moment and find contentment in the attempt.   Any outcome is better than none, right?

Most of the time, anyway.

-Erin

 

 

Adventures in the ER

Dear Friends,

Last weekend was fall break and we had quite the adventure. As a result I’ve been two steps behind all week long.  Sounds fun, right?  Nah -not so much.  We actually spent many, many hours at the emergency room because Reid had a strange reaction to a virus.  Basically, he was a busy, happy kid on Saturday with a soccer game and various activities.  Sunday he woke up and said he couldn’t walk.  Of course, the pediatrician’s office was closed and we were confused and somewhat freaked out.  He wasn’t paralyzed – he could move his legs but couldn’t bear weight.  Otherwise, he was in decent spirits and even started crawling around the house.

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Saturday- photo credit- Uncle Andrew

Thankfully, I have a good pediatrician friend (& his fabulous wife) who I can call upon when in dire straights.  I have always tried to avoid that avenue because I know he isn’t our personal on-call concierge doc, but he was super helpful and sent us to the hospital for testing.

It turns out that Reid had something called rhabdomyolysis which is a strange, rare condition involving muscle protein in the blood, probably stemming from a viral infection he had had earlier in the week.

No, it was not EnterovirusD68, thank goodness.

reid_hospital

Luckily, Reid is quite comfortable in the hospital setting.  His bi-annual endoscopies have prepped him for Cars watching and popsicle eating. Oh, and he enjoyed the lengthy Panthers game from his adjustable bed while the rest of us leaned against a partition.

Reid was given an IV of fluids to help flush out the yucky stuff and after a couple of days he was back to normal.  We had family and friends help us out so everything worked out, but I have to say I’m finding the current outbreaks of various illnesses more than a little disturbing.  In our case, Reid’s body reacted differently to a very common virus but you just never know.

Isn’t it strange the way life can twist and turn in the matter of 24 hours?  We got lucky this time around but health scares will ground your perspective for sure.

Now go wash your hands, okay?  And put on that hazmat suit while you’re at it.

-Erin

 

 

 

 

 

School Daze + Chalk Art

Dear Friends,

It’s that time again.  The school year is ready to mow us down like a big yellow bus.  Unlike years past, we were actually ready this year.  Practically playing chicken, waiting for that proverbial bus because summer was kind of long this go around.

That is a lot of bus talk for a carpool family.

Because of our move, we had a lot less travel and many more summer days at home.  I daydream about those free days when our schedule is nutty, but by mid-August we were all craving more structure.  Sure, there were pool outings, trips to the library, and a handful of camps but all of that had run its course.

I guess summer ends for a reason.

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Luckily, Reid has another year of preschool before we hit the big time.  The 4’s program will take some getting used to for all of us.  He goes four half days and will be getting ready for the big K.  I know he will be worn out with all of the big kid work they do.

Lacey on the other hand starts first grade.  That is a longer day which means we don’t see her until almost 3:00.  I’m going to have to adjust to that because it just seems so late!  I certainly didn’t go that long in elementary school.  Times have changed for sure.

chalkboard_message_summer

I hung my diy chalkboard in our breakfast space back in June.   I was so excited about summer and the endless possibilities!   Rather than post an autumn message, I figured I’d keep this one around a wee bit longer while we properly mourn our loss of sleep.

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I did change the first line because summer days are drifting away, y’all.  Bring on fall.

-Erin

 

 

 

 

Life Lessons

Dear Friends,

The month of January was faster paced than typical for us.  Having our Disney trip smack in the middle perpetuated that with packing, unpacking, extra laundry, and a week of playing catch-up.  We ran around like crazy little beings instead of soaking up the after-Christmas grace that follows the big holiday.

I was not going to be sidetracked from my goals.  One drawer a day kept going, I kept organizing, and we declared victory for the year ahead.  I think the man upstairs thought my New Year’s motivation needed tweaking.  We were stopped in our tracks last Wednesday and had a five-day respite period.   First there was the snow.

And then there was the stomach bug.

The snow was fun.  Who doesn’t crave a cozy snow day every now and then?  Hot chocolate, a warm fire, and guilt-less screen time are a gift.  Just being lazy feels like luxury.  I soaked it in and savored it the way you do a summer vacation.  You know it is a snippet of time and that the grains of sand will slip through your fingers before you can fully grasp the wonder.

The stomach bug was like a slow death march into a suspended alternate universe.  You know the rest of the world must exist but it spins outside of your bubble, everything once important now distant and forgotten.  That isn’t the only spinning going on.   I was ticked off to succumb to the virus, thinking I was above bowing down to that particular throne.  Yeah, I was humbled.  And I recover quickly from the puke-fest but not as quickly from the inevitable vertigo and loss of appetite.

Taking away the appetite of a foodie is a form of mid-evil torture.  I love to eat and the Super Bowl is one of the most fun, fabulous spreads of the year.   Buffalo wings and cheese dip are my kryptonite.  We were recovered enough to participate in our annual family pot-luck but my plate was sadly void of the usual piles of gluttony.

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Print via GroovyGravy on etsy

Regardless of whether it was a snow day or a whirling turn on the norovirus ride, we were forced to slow down.  Our family of four spent some close-knit time together without stepping out the front door.  We bonded and we battled and we sprayed a lot of disinfectant.

A lot of fat good that did.

I’m going into Feburary a bit sluggish with wild eyes much like a typical January.  It is definitely time to enjoy our current cruising altitude instead of the up and down journey that we seem to favor.

I guess I’m thankful for the lesson but next time I’ll just take a second snow day.

-Erin

 

 

 

 

Disney World Take Two

Dear Friends,

A couple of weeks ago we broke in the new van with an eight hour trek to Disney World.  It had been two years since our Disney initiation as a family of four.  If you were reading way back when, you might remember my disturbing revelation that vacation wasn’t fun.  That was the trip where I had that wake-up call as a Mom.  The one where you realize that successful travel involves stress, cranky pants people, and plenty of exhaustion.

The Amazing Race on CBS sums it up best.  They showcase crackling tension as couples compete during a trek around the world.  “I could do that,” I’d say from my comfy spot on the sofa.  I like to think that I’m patient and level-headed.

After the facing the intensity of a family trip to the Fun Capital of the USA,  I know that I have no business racing around the world.  Because nothing will point out your own inadequacies like a super fun family vacation.

That being said, we did have fun this time.  Vacationing with children is all about expectations.  We severely lowered them this go around.  We expected the roller coaster emotions.  We were ready for the meltdowns.   Lacey doesn’t want her picture with Ariel?  Roll with it and don’t look back.

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Believe it or not, Mr. C and I really enjoy Disney World.   We want our kids to experience the wide-eyed excitement that comes with that. You get sucked into the Disney Vortex and the real world is nothing but a distant memory.  Forget your iPhone and the office.  That bubble is a dream in the reality of life in the 21st Century.

Armed with a plan and a map, we dragged the kids through three parks and built a foundation for nostalgia.  There was whining and crying.  The boy begged to go home at one point.  But this week?  They can’t stop chattering about the fun they had.  Like childbirth, the hard part is melting away into oblivion as the joy emerges.

We’ll be talking about our experience for the next couple of years.  Every time we see that commercial on TV or the intro to a movie, we’ll reminise about Cinderella’s castle.

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Two years ago we were in the trenches.  Straight up survival mode.  Reid’s diaper leaked on me five minutes after our arrival and all of our daydreaming was shattered by reality.   Who cries at Disney World for goodness sake?  It turns out that everyone does and that is okay.

We paid a lot of money for those life lessons.

The best part of our trip this year was the meal plan.  We were able to make early reservations and Reid had chefs that prepared him special meals in the Disney restaurants.  It was a new sort of dream.

Joy changes.  It wasn’t meeting the princess or riding It’s A Small World.  It was the good and bad stitched together that makes a blanket of memories.  One that you snuggle up in on a long day.  Or one you can laugh at as you remember the obstacles.

2016 – here we come.

-Erin

 

 

 

 

The Best Step Stool Ever

Dear Friends,

You know you are getting older when you start asking for practical gifts for holidays.  My in-laws are very generous and always let me pick out a nice present for myself.  What is better than that, right?  It is one of my favorite treats and so I usually spend a ridiculous amount of time deciding what to buy.  For Christmas, I resisted the typical Anthropologie purchase and ordered a wide step stool for the kitchen.  Not exciting for most people, but oh did I want it.

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Between June and December, I became an elementary school parent and got a van.  Pretty soon, I’ll be begging for vacuum cleaners and toasters.  Of course, if it was a Dyson it would be justified.  And there are some pretty cool toasters out there.

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I guess I’m an official grown-up now.   Never mind that I’ve owned three houses, two cars, and have two children.  Practical gifts -by request- tips the scales.

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But back to the step stool.  It rocks.  Both kids can fit on it.  They can wash hands.  We can pull it over to the island for baking.  We do a ridiculous amount of cooking around here now because of Reid and I’m tired of him tipping over chairs in an attempt to help.

Of course, two children washing hands at the same time presents all kinds of opportunities for trouble.   They are having way too much fun with the soap and water.  I guess we have to live on the edge when we can.

-Erin

 

 

 

 

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