Backyard Plans

Happy Friday everyone! Aaron is off work today and I have these grand plans of getting a million things done on the house, but let’s be honest, it’s 24/7 baby town over here. Sigh. It’s fantastic and it’s frustrating all at the same time.

We’ve little time to do much else but plan projects, and that’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve been slowly making a list a mile along of things we’d like to tackle… adding things, removing them, tweaking them… essentially our master plan.

One of the bigger projects we have on our list is the backyard. I took these photos at dusk a few nights ago so the quality is not great, but it’s good enough for right now.

Our backyard is on the smaller side, bordered by neighbors’ fences. Nearly one half of it is taken up by a poured concrete pad (meant for a future garage) and a very large tree. The narrow driveway that runs down the side of the house leads directly to the raised concrete pad.

Backyard Plans

Here is the view of our backyard from the back porch. You can see that the end of the concrete pad is raised a good 3′ off the ground. Somewhat hazardous!

Backyard Plans

We have three goals for this backyard.

Goal #1: Make it safe for the boys next summer, who will most likely be walking by then! The edge of the pad scares me for that reason.

Goal #2: Make the entire backyard dog-friendly aka fenced in.

Goal #3: The long game goal would be to put the concrete pad to good use and build a one-car garage with an overhead loft for storage but we see that being 10-15ish years away. Right now we need that space for additional room to play / socialize / enjoy the outdoors.

Backyard Plans

So, let’s talk about the concrete pad. We have been talking about building a waist-high fence/barrier of some sort around the perimeter of the raised pad. We see ourselves using this space as a play space, dining space and for just generally hanging out. We don’t have a back porch of any kind (minus the tiny one off our back door) so this will act as that.

The design for that waist-high fence is up in the air—we can do something as simple as a short picket-like fence OR we can get a little more crazy (read: design-y) with it. Guess which camp I am in. :)

I love the idea of installing cedar box planters around the perimeter. We don’t have much opportunity for landscaping back here and the box planters would certainly help provide a home for plants. Plus, it will look darn cool. We’d have to make them somewhat skinny so we don’t steal too much surface real estate from the pad. I’d fill those planters with natural mosquito repellers too.

Click for source

The leaves us with the perimeter of the entire backyard. We have been looking into prices on a horizontal cedar fence, very similar to the one Alison at Deuce Cities Henhouse had installed. It’ll be a bit pricey (especially because we’d like the cedar stained, too) but we will make some final decisions when the bids come in. We may have to swap out the cedar for something a little more basic.

Source: Deuce Cities Henhouse


We also have the issue of the backyard opening up to the driveway… meaning we need to make the decision to either fence off this space (separating the pad from the driveway… see below) or install some sort of gate ($$) to span this space.

Backyard Plans


Alison had a similar dilemma and the gate fence she had installed is nearly identical to what we would need.

Source: Deuce Cities Henhouse

So that’s where we are. This will either be an early Fall project or will be late Spring next year. It all depends on the bids


Gift Guide: The NICU Mom

I shared this gift guide for the mom on bed rest a week ago, and I’ve got one more to share with you today: the NICU mom! My boys spent nearly 3 weeks in the hospital post-delivery and I received some of the kindest and most thoughtful things (a long with a lot of frozen meals!). Just like with the bed rest mom, a lot of people aren’t sure how to react or behave. In the case of the NICU mom, you had a baby (happy!) but it’s in the hospital (sad!) so people are confused on how to approach the situation, especially because the NICU doesn’t allow a lot of visitors. Here are some ways to help show you care. And probably the most important thing over gifts: show your support and excitement. It’s a new baby!


Gift Guide: The NICU Mom


1. // Cooler for Lunch and Breast Milk Transport

I spent every day at the hospital with the boys and the cafeteria food got expensive. I started to pack my lunch and eat it in the family waiting room. I used a cooler to pack both my lunch and my breast milk. I can’t think of a better way to tote it back and forth than in this watermelon cooler tote!

2. // Baby Name for the Bedside

There was wall space by the crib in the NICU set aside so that the parents could decorate the space. I saw so many moms hang really cute signs with the babies names on it. The one I made wasn’t nearly as cute as the banners at Sharp Tooth Studio though!

3. // Itty Bitty Baby Hats

As a NICU mom, one of the things I struggled most with was control. For much of the babies’ care, the nurses were in control (frustrating!) so I tried to keep focus on things I had 100% control of: what they wore. It was such an insignificant thing but it truly helped the heart to see them in clothes from home, like this super cute preemie beanie.

4. // Water Bottle

I don’t know if this is true everywhere, but our NICU did not allow water bottles, which seems counterintuitive to all the pumping moms where hydration is super important. I snuck my water bottle in everyday and these BKR bottles are always a fun thing to tote around.

5. // Snacks!

Just like water, food wasn’t allowed either, but I snuck mine in my tote and scarfed it down in the bathroom. I liked foods that were semi-healthy and high in fiber. I did just have a baby *ahem*.

6. // Giant Art Kit

The babies were sleeping a lot, but I didn’t want to leave their side. Yes, most of the time I just held them but when I needed a break, I would grab some markers and construction paper (we got to keep personal items there 24/7) and decorate their space. Nearly every NICU family had their space decorated, so it was fun to have the supplies to join in too.

7. // Muslin Swaddles

Just like with the clothes and hats, the nurses let us bring in blankets from home to swaddle the babies. For me, the more colorful the better. I love pretty much every swaddle blanket at Spearmint Love, and this animal one is pretty spectacular. It’s pricey, but there are other more affordable options!

8. // Nursing/Pumping Cover

If you’re pumping or nursing, you get used to doing so in front of people very quickly. I’ve tried a lot of different styles (like the infinity scarf), but these Hooter Hiders (yes, that’s the name) were by far my favorite. The piece that goes across the chest is rigid, which makes peeking down to make sure everything is situated easy. Plus, the patterns are pretty good. Warning though: it says Hooter Hider very large on the neck strap *palm to the forehead*

9. // Boppy Cover

Please tell me I’m not the only one that thinks the standard Boppy covers leave little to be desired. My favorite quirky Boppy cover shop is Necessary Cuteness, the home of this super cute pineapple cover and where we got our donut cover for the Twin Z pillow. This is one of those things I wish I had in the NICU… we always had to use an icky hospital pillow.

10. // Tote Bag

OK, this LeSportsac/Rifle Paper Co. tote bag is extravagant for a gift, but work with me here. Any tote bag is helpful, preferably with a lot of pockets. I was transporting snacks, baby clothes, my water bottle, my purse and much more inside my tote.

11. // Flat-Fold Memory Box

You accumulate a lot of special things during your stay in the NICU. Jaundice goggles, crocheted hats, quilts, babies’ first bottles and footprints are just some of the things you’ll come home with. I loved having a place to store all of these once we were home. This Poppin flat-fold box is pretty great, and will fit in a gift bag.

So that’s it! Now, if you know a sweet family with the baby in the NICU, you’ll have some ideas in your arsenal. And remember, frozen meals are always ALWAYS well received too. :)




Gift Guide: The Bed Rest Mom

When I was in the hospital on bed rest, I received some of the best gifts and little care packages from people. These little treats, and the people who brought them, were so helpful in keeping my morale high. Since then I’ve had a couple of people ask me for ideas for friends/family in similar situations, so I thought I would share some of my favorites here.


Gift Guide: The Bedrest Mom


1. // Bright & Fun Pillowcases

When you’re laying down in a bed for 20+ hours a day, you tend to focus on your bedding. A LOT. I had bright floral pillows, but I also love this beach scene set from Urban Outfitters. Nothing wrong with a little beach dreaming!

2. // Potted Plant

A little plant from home was one of the first things I asked Aaron to bring me. As crazy as this sounds, you just want to take care of/be responsible for SOMETHING while you’re in there. Plus, watering a plant just sort of feels normal and feeling “normal” is invaluable!

3. // Crafting Kit

Needlepoint, felting, coloring… anything that keeps the hands busy and the TV off was always a much appreciated gift, especially if the receiver is a crafty lady. I especially love this paper flower kit I spotted at Target… perfect thing to do while in bed with the music going.

4. // Cute Sweats

It goes without saying… sweat pants while on bed rest are a must have. You have to understand that sweat pants are a big deal on bed rest because the more common alternative is the dreaded hospital gown. Sweat pants kept me sane, they brightened my day and the nurses loved to comment on them. These Hello Apparel sweat pants are so fun and they’re 50% off at the moment, but go quick because I know the sizes have been going fast!

5. // Water Bottle

Liquids in and liquids out are a big focus on bed rest. Everything is measured. And I mean everything. I was drinking a gallon of water a day at least (still do!) and drinking from a cute water bottle like this Tervis 24 oz-er made it a little easier. Plus, so much more fun than the plastic pitcher and straw provided by the hospital.

6. // Magazines, Magazines and More Magazines

I loved the magazines people found for me and tried to immerse myself in them… any excuse to turn off the TV was a good one! Be sure to grab issues that match your friend’s interests. Steer clear of cooking magazines. It’s a special kind of torture to look at all that amazing food while trying to choke down a steamed grilled cheese. :)

7. // Books!

If you know your friend is a reader, grab a book. I especially loved Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It was hugely motivational for me. My train of thought at the time: If this chick can hike the Pacific Crest Trail by herself than I for sure can keep in some babies!

8. // Adult Coloring Books

Adult coloring books, like the popular Secret Garden, are all the rage right now and sadly, the only time you may find yourself with room in your schedule to actually use one is if you’re stuck in a bed. I took advantage of the time and colored it up. It was hugely relaxing. I would cut out the pages and hang them on my walls.

9. // Crazy Socks

OK, so I don’t know if I would call these flamingo socks crazy, but they’re certainly a welcome change from Nike. Socks are the footwear of choice while on bed rest, so I tried to make it count. Socks were one of my favorite things to receive!

10. // Hangable Wall Art

You may find yourself in a nice, updated room with lovely walls but I was not. I was surrounded by chipped, painted concrete walls and decades old butterfly decals. It was not great for keeping the mood up. I wish I would have known about this $14 pack of prints at the time… I would have covered my hospital room walls in these!

11. // Playing Cards

I loved challenging my visitors to a game of cards. It helps break the ice and get over that whole awkward “so you’re in the hospital” conversation vibe. I also loved learning new card games. I’ve never played so many cards in my life!


I would love to hear some of your gift solutions for friends/family in similar situations. Most of the time, YOU as a visitor is the greatest gift but I totally get that feeling of not wanting to arrive empty handed. I have one more gift guide planned along these same lines: the NICU mom!