jillian is 18 months! (and i'm totally gonna brag about it)

Holy smokes! I have a TODDLER! She is definitely out of the baby phase (and she won't let you forget it). 

She has learned SO much over the last few months. Around 16 months she learned the names of basic shapes (square, circle, triangle, rectangle, heart, diamond, octagon). After enough practice with those I taught her a few more and she just soaked it up like a little sponge: pentagon, crescent, trapezoid, hexagon. ...what 18 month old knows what a trapezoid is?? There are a few others that she can point to when I ask her, but can't quite say the name of (semi-circle, arrow, and spiral). I think I'll let those slide...haha. She loves when I "quiz" her on the names of them really fast- I draw them and she says what they are. 

She is seriously so bright. Sometimes its hard to entertain her because she gets bored of things that aren't interesting enough to her. She can count to 10 (though not always in order and she usually always skips the number 4). She counts EVERY thing- walking up and down the stairs, toys, food, etc. 

She just learned the names of some colors- blue, red, yellow, green and pink (sometimes she'll say orange).  

The iPad might be her favorite toy. It's scary how well she can get around that thing. She can turn it on by herself, swipe to unlock, and get in and out of all her apps. Techie baby!

She's extremely attached to two of her blankets that are the same but in different colors. If both are within eyesight, both are in her arms. If she wants the other one she'll say "another blanket!" and when you give it to her she says "two blankets!" 

Speaking of things she says, she says a lot. She talks in 2-4 word sentences regularly. She picks up words really fast (including when I accidentally say "crap" or "dang it"...oops). This has been one of the GREATEST things because she doesn't throw a fit when she wants something (most of the time), she just tells us what she wants. Halelujah!! 
She does throw fits (glorious, thrashing, screaming fits) when we take something away from her that she can't have. Terrible two's approaching? I think so. It's almost funny to watch though.

I have almost every word memorized in the same few episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse I downloaded for her. Girl is obsessed. She sings the intro song and it's pretty adorable. Her favorite characters are Minnie and Goofy (aka "Doofy"..all her g's are pronounced as d's). Her Grandpa got her a Minnie the same size as her. Most of the time she has to carry it over her shoulder in a fireman's carry to tote it around.

One of her favorite things to do is get a bath and use her bath crayons. She'll scribble all over the tub and then say "e i m m m e e m m". Soo maybe the alphabet will come next (right now she sings about every 4th to 5th letter when we sing the ABC's). 

She's in some weird phase right now where she is being a REALLY picky eater. Not fun. Obsessed doesn't convey her true infatuation with dairy products. Yogurt, cottage cheese, string cheese...it's a staple in her diet. In her opinion, vegetables are of the devil but any fruit is her best friend. I don't get it. 

                                                                   "Heck no I'm not eating that ravioli"

All in all she is so FUN! I love that I can talk to her and she'll talk back. I love that she pretends with her little toys like they're talking to each other and makes them kiss. I love when she brings me a plastic cup from her kitchen with one for her in the other hand and expects me to slurp up the imaginary deliciousness she just concocted in her play kitchen. I love that she tries to "hide" from me by laying in the middle of the floor curled up in a ball. I love this girl!

I've also recently had an epiphany. The thought of having another baby has terrified me. Another NINE months of pregnancy? Another newborn that never sleeps and wants to eat ALL the time? I'm hoping she'll be the only kid I have that has reflux- that was terrible (and probably the main reason I've been worried about little Houlin #2). 

The other day I was thinking about all of Jillian's "firsts"- first smile, first time she rolled over, first laugh, first word. Every time she learned something new I felt so incredibly proud of her, even though it could have been the tiniest thing. Then it hit me- THIS IS WHY PEOPLE HAVE MORE THAN ONE KID!! You get to experience all of those "firsts" all over again! The good firsts that make all of the "bad" or "scary" firsts tolerable. And for the first time, having another baby doesn't seem scary to me.

And that might be the scariest thought of them all. 


cabinets: before and after

I have way too much of an interest in home decor...is it lame to say it's a hobby? This has been done for a week or so by now but I finally have a spare second to write about it! Phase 1 of the main floor makeover is DONE!

Painting your cabinets may be one of the best and worst things you ever decide to do. Best because the transformation is probably needed and worth it. Worst because it takes for freaking EVER. Especially if you're doing it in 2-3 hour spurts when you actually have a spare second and then you get the flu right in the middle of the project, like me. Blegh.

But two weeks later, it is finally finished! 

Blah oak color. I don't know what it is with me and that color of wood. I'm just not a fan. Too cabin-y for me. 

(like how my kitchen was so incredibly tidy in the before pictures? I also already started on the cabinets above the fridge, hence why they are already missing) 


It really brightened up the whole room! I love it. Everything feels cleaner and fresher. 

I'm planning on putting more "after" pictures up after we finish "phase two" which is putting up bead board around the back side of the bar. 

I used the Rust-oleum Cabinet Transformations kit. Which is essentially TSP (Trisodium phosphate)- a wood deglosser, base paint with primer, and a polyurethane top coat (umm I think it needs to be said I just spelled polyurethane correctly the first time I typed it. No red line for me. I am awesome.) So if you don't want to pay the price of the kit, it would probably be cheaper to just buy those 3 things (though the kit does come with a glaze also if you wanted to do that as well).

Allow me to give a few tips, from someone who learned the hard way, if you ever plan on doing this:

- The "deglossing" part is the most annoying part, but the most important. If you're using TSP (or equivalent) you don't have to sand, which is great, but you do have to scrub the crap-ola out of it. 

- So you don't have to sand, but about half way through I lightly roughed up the doors with sand paper and wiped them down after the TSP and felt like those turned out a little better. 

- Start painting in the least obvious place in your kitchen (frames or doors). The painting technique takes a couple doors to get down solid where your brush strokes are even. I started in the most convenient place which was also the most obvious place, and those doors have more mistakes that I can see. 

- The kit instructions say to use 2 coats of paint. Bull. Mine took 4. Fortunately the paint goes a loonngg way. (This could have been because I painted them white, so there was more to "cover"). 

- It's really easy for drip marks to dry when you're painting, especially with the last clear coat. After you're done with each cabinet, run the paint brush along all of the edges again to collect any drips that may have formed. I also visually checked them after about 10 minutes for any drips. You can't get rid of drips after they dry without sanding them off and repainting. 

- When you're painting close the floor, especially the baseboards of the cabinets, I would double tape along the floor. So use two strips of painters tape next to each other. I only used one strip and got several paint spots on my floor (fortunately that's one of the things to go so I wasn't super worried). 

- Plan on eating take out or leftovers for however long the process takes. It's not worth the risk of using your kitchen a lot and messing up your fresh paint (especially the stove area) for a meal. 

WHEW. They didn't turn out perfect. If you choose to do a darker color I think any mistakes would be a LOT less obvious. But ultimately, it cost me $75 and I achieved the look I wanted to!

Phase 2: bead board around the back of the bar
Phase 3: New wall color on the main floor (I'm loving Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter! See?)

Phase 4: New flooring! I want to go with a darker wood. Right now it's a light oak (nasty) and brownish/gray carpet. The carpet isn't awful at all but I want it to be uniform across the whole floor. So goodbye carpet.

Phase 5: A new light fixture above the dining table. 

Whew!! We're (I'm) hoping to do all of this by the end of this summer! Can't wait! 


the good news

So after my last post and the mysteries surrounding the "James has good news but it can't be revealed until next week!" line, I got several text messages that night from friends asking what in the world was going on and why didn't they know? 
It's okay...It's not like he's pregnant...

The good news is: he got a new job! Yay! (I wasn't allowed to say anything until he put his two weeks notice in at work). He's been looking feverishly for the last several months in attempt to leave his current job. The senior management there is a joke and his hard work went fairly unnoticed. Kind of funny how it happened, because after months of interviews and second interviews and nothing after that, he suddenly got offers from three banks within the same couple of weeks. 
Decision time. 

The top two contenders were Goldman Sachs and RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland). We had essentially 12 hours to make a decision. AH! There were definitely pros and cons to each job, but we ultimately decided to go with RBS (James still can't believe he said "no" to Goldman Sachs!). We liked those "pros" better. He starts later this month. 

Unfortunately, that does not mean we are moving to Scotland.