Two Story Cottage

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.


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.


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!


Christmas 2014

Dear Friends,

Christmas hoopla has receded and winter break is officially over.  We had a quiet but relaxing, family-filled two weeks.  It goes by in a blur and before you know it the dark-thirty alarm is blaring and lunches need packing.   The week before Christmas we were hit by a firestorm of illness (flu, stomach bug, rock on) but luckily everyone was stable by the big day.  This mom will be getting a flu shot from now on – luckily the kids were spared so maybe the vaccine is worth it.  I thought I was immune because I never seem to get it but that theory was weak unfortunately.

The positive of all of the sickness beforehand was the lack of chaos.  I was not running around doing stuff like a crazy person and yet Christmas still came.  Being forced to slow down is not fun but it provided a new perspective for sure.


It was so nice to spend more time with my niece Savannah.   We just don’t see her enough!   Auntie needs to squeeze those cheeks and the kids are always excited to shake toys in her face. We are an overwhelming bunch but she is learning to love us.   It is hard to believe she is six months already.  My sister finished her nursery this fall so I’m overdue for an update on sweet Savannah and her fun space.


Our annual Christmas brunch was a success.  Everyone fit in our dining room with zero room to spare but I’m glad to know we can host a full family affair despite the limited space.  Making a combined dining/living room was a risk but I dare say it worked out.

We did not travel at all this year which meant a lot of pajama time, especially since we had a rainy spell.  Mr. C gets cabin fever but I was fine with a toasty fire and slow days.

I hope your holiday was joy-filled and restful.  Time to get in gear for a New Year!






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.











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.



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.




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.


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.


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.







Kid Valentine Projects + Cozy Throws

Dear Friends,

We got a snow day!  It is icy snow but beggars can’t be choosers.  We are excited to drink warm drinks and cozy up by the fire.  Of course, no snow day would be complete without cinnamon rolls.   We found out last night so the best part was not setting the alarm clock.   Of course, we did have a kid or two that got up early because of the lure of the white stuff.

I’ve got a few ideas on how to stay warm posted on Houzz.  I’ve showcased twenty throws you can use to decorate with and cuddle up under.  One can never have too many good throws.   In fact, I’ve got kiddos that are using two of mine right this very minute.


I’ve also got a couple of kid-friendly Valentine’s projects at The Handmade Home today. Almost too easy for the P-word.  Maybe activities is a better description.  We had a blast making hearts – I hope you do too!




Stay warm –




Swagger Wagon

Dear Friends,

It’s official.  I’m a minivan owner. I’ve joined the club and there is no looking back.  Of course, swagger wagon sounds better.  Gotta use the hip lingo to prove I haven’t completely turned in my cool card.  Oh wait.  I’m not sure I was a member of that club anyway.

If you were wondering why there were no costly house projects in 2013, this would be the reason.   We were planning our big purchase for months.  I was in denial until the big day but I’m glad I caved.


I’ll admit, I took a long time to come around on the van idea.  I loved the idea of tooling around in my green CR-V with the two kids, not needing the giant hauler.  I was above it in my mind.  I know, total vanity is not-so-attractive, especially when up on the high horse. I fell hard from that perch when kindergarten started.   Driving across town to school and back is a beast, particularly since I couldn’t carpool with anyone.  My CR-V did not fit a third in the middle with a carseat and booster.

No carpooling.  No friends over.  No room for the dog.

I could have done a larger SUV.  It would have worked and I could have avoided official Soccer Mom status.   However, half of the carpool line is big black vehicles so I think they are poorly disguised Mom-mobiles anyway.   And I’m proud to be a Mom so I might as well wear it like a badge of honor.

The truth? Those sliding doors are like butter, y’all.

I’ve fallen head over heels in love in less than a month.  I’m going to be one of those Moms that tries to convert everyone in sight. Have you seen a power lift gate in action? Magic does exist.  And Mr. C likes it just as much as I do.  The technology has won him over.   Pure luxury on wheels.

The next thing you know I’ll be cutting my hair off.  It’s about time.





Halloween 2013 Recap

Dear Friends,

Halloween 2013 is in the books.  I’m slightly relieved to turn the calendar to November.  This was Reid’s first experience trick or treating with his crazy allergies but it was smooth sailing, thankfully.  We had a fun night although I was a little nervous about having a bucket full of candy he can’t eat.  I’m lucky he was such a champ about it.  He was happy to gift it to everyone else.

This year we didn’t attend any pre-Halloween events and it made the big day so much more fun.  Instead of being “done” with their costumes, the kids were jumping up and down with excitement.


We had a tooth fairy and Daniel Tiger from the PBS show.  I let them both pick this year.


I embellished an angel costume from Target with a little felt and glitter and some plastic teeth. Most people figured it out so I’ll count it a success. Lacey liked it and she is tough to impress. Mr. C usually dresses up.  He is a fun Dad for sure.


One of the best parts of this Halloween was our weather.  We had unseasonably warm temperatures so it was wonderful not to freeze.  We didn’t even have to do any layering with the costumes.

Happy November!!





Dear Friends,

The biggest items on the summer bucket list got crossed off with only a few days left on the calendar.  Yeah, school has been in for a month but I extended “summer” to mean until the first day of fall.  Lacey wanted so badly to learn to ride a bike with no training wheels and she was not even close in May.

Project summer this year?  Biking until we were all blue in the face.   Our girl was just never that comfortable on a bike with training wheels much less without.  She is athletic but between her cautious nature and lack of pedaling skills it took ALL summer.

Yep, she did it.  We ended up taking the training wheels off of her old 12 inch bike first.  She looked like a giant pedaling a teeny tiny bike in the circus but it worked.  We were able to transition to the big girl bike she got last Christmas as seen in the video.

Someone is not far behind.  Had we known the beauty of the pedal-less balance bike, we would have done it with child number one.   Oh well.


Lacey also wanted to lose a tooth this summer – as if I have any control over that.  Coincidence or not, luck was on our side.  Her first tooth came out at the beginning of the month.   The tooth fairy gave her a $1 gold coin and she was thrilled.  Pretty cool, huh?  Although the going rate is apparently much higher, in the world according to Facebook.  Sorry, kid but your tooth fairy is thrifty.

Milestones are what growing up is all about.  Between kindergarten, bike riding, and lost teeth I feel like I might as well have her apply for college.  Time flies when you are having fun!


Embracing Mommy Treasures

Dear Friends,

In honor of Mother’s Day weekend I thought I’d share a little Motherly love from our home.  A Mom can show love in all kinds of ways.  One of those is to embrace the many handmade items that come through the door everyday.



A Mother’s love means not re-arranging her child’s deliberate display.


A Mother’s love means displaying little treasures whether they coordinate or not.


A Mother’s love means potato gardens on the counter.


A Mother’s love means displaying artwork made by little hands.


A Mother’s love means placing special gifts prominently.


Some things are kept forever while others eventually end up in the recycle bin; keeping a rotating display of artwork gives kids a sense of pride.   It is important to remember that the perfect home is neither staged nor magazine-worthy.

Wishing all Mothers a joyful Mother’s Day weekend.



Lacey’s Sweet Big Girl Room {Part II} + source list

Dear Friends,
I can’t thank you enough for the kind words regarding Lacey’s room! I really wish I could express what your positive feedback means to me.  I tried to add a few more close-up shots in this post because sometimes those little details are what makes the overall design.

I promised a source list which you will find below.  Unfortunately, most things were purchased several years ago but ebay is always a good place to look for those hard-to-find pieces.  Catalog items were typically clearance so chances are slim that they would still be available from the original source.

Lacey’s Room: The Details {See Below}
*wallpapered dresser here
*owl – HomeGoods (already owned)
*scrapbook box is decorated with washi tape from Target
*knobs are from Hobby Lobby
*mirror is from HomeGoods
*bird art (some collected over time, some PB Kids 3-4 years ago)
*cornice information can be found here
*cottage nightstand (already owned, originally from PB Teen)
*top knobs are from Pier One
*ladybug by Lacey
*rug is from Capel
*recipe plates were a gift (to me) from a friend
*pom pom is from HomeGoods
*lampshade from Garden Ridge
*lamp base from Target (already owned)
*cottage bookshelf (took from downstairs, originally from usawoodworks)
*His Eye is On the Sparrow – made on the computer with Lacey
*Be A Sweet Friend- courtesy of Julie from Joy’s Hope {thank you!!}
*You are My Sunshine- made on computer with Lacey
*frames are from Michael’s
*mats are wallpaper cut-outs that match the dresser
*quilt is from HomeGoods
*bedspread is from Belk
*headboard cover is from PB Kids (a few years ago)
*shutter information can be found here
*Good Morning pillow from Land of Nod
*floral sham from PB Kids
*The pillow and animal quilt on the rocking chair are from my childhood.
*The running shoe is from my college dorm, originally from Kohl’s.
*The bookshelf piece is a Jenny Lind changing table with the top shelf removed.
It does double duty as a play center and storage.
*More information on the tree art here.
I had to include a picture with the girl who lives here. 🙂
*The chandelier is from Pottery Barn Kids.  The price was really reasonable.  It was less than the couple that I liked in our local lighting store.
I’m not sure I got everything so feel free to inquire about anything that I missed.
Happy Wednesday!

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