Monday, December 26

Christmas events

I'm still exhausted from all of the Christmas events and trying to recover! Whew! Just looking at the pictures and thinking about all that took place to write about is already wearing me out! We are so glad to be home and relaxing now.

We travelled to Nonnie & Duke's house to have a few days to spend with them before going to the Great Wolf Lodge and Gaylord Texan with Mark's side of the family. I did not take Dylan to see Santa and have his picture with him here in Lubbock before we went, so I needed to locate Santa in Dallas for him to go see while we were there. I have known all along how wonderful the Northpark Santa is and that people go stand in line for hours just to see him and have their picture taken with him. I wasn't sure I even wanted to attempt standing in a long line with Dylan since he is so squirmy and hates going to the mall, but we decided that we would try it out and see how it went. Mark left that morning while Dylan and I ate breakfast and got dressed to go get our special 'ticket' to see Santa. He spoke to one of the workers, asking for an estimate of about what time they thought we would need to come back and based on our number of 143 (at 8:30A.M., Mark was the 143rd person in line - geesh!) and they estimated that we shouldn't need to come back until about 4 o'clock that afternoon.

We took our time and around 2:30, we decided to get Dylan in his fancy outfit and head on out to go see Santa. We arrived and, of course, they had already called our number and made us stand at the back of the current line. It all worked out, though, because that line moved quickly and we were only about 15 minutes away from visiting Santa at that point.

15 minutes later, Dylan saw Santa. He was frightened to meet him for the first time, since he slept through the entire visit last year, and held on for dear life to me. Mark yanked him off and forced him to sit on his lap. Santa was so kind and spoke to all of us about how old Dylan was. They were so patient and were able to snap a few pictures of scared little Monkey before he burst into tears. His tears went away as soon as we picked him back up, though. I guess we might try to visit the same Santa next year, maybe...



Dylan posed with Nonnie & Duke for Christmas cards...


We opened gifts with Nonnie & Duke on Tuesday evening and it was so fun to see how interested Dylan was in opening things. The best gift of all was from Aunt Kristen! He got new shoes! Who knew that a kid would love new shoes so much? He immediately sat down and wanted to put them on his feet. As soon as they were on, he jumped up and started dancing in them. He loves them and literally points to them to show them off to anyone he sees when he has them on! 




On Wednesday, we headed to Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine to spend a day of swimming with Mark's side of the family. In an effort to not worry about getting good pictures and just let loose and have fun with my baby, I left the camera in the hotel room. You mom's know what I mean, you are more worried about getting good pictures than having any fun yourself! So, I do not have any pictures of the water park area. I swam with Dylan in the little kid pool. He was scared of the water at first, but I think it actually might have been all of the other wild children running loose in there, rather than the water. He finally warmed up to it and had some fun.

We snapped a picture before we left. Yep, a picture. Just one.

Later that afternoon, we had some time to kill before going to check-in at the Gaylord Texan, so we went to see the new aquarium at Grapevine Mills Mall. It was fabulous!! Mark and I have been to the mall several times, but not since this new addition and we loved it! Dylan loved it, too! It wasn't too crowed and just perfect! 

Of course we had to go see ICE! at the Gaylord that evening we were there. Mark and I had been once before, but that was when it was only like the second year it even existed, so it had been a while. We remembered loving it and were really excited to go again. Apparently, things have changed quite a bit since the time we had been there, though. I think the event has become such a big deal that they had to make changes and it was nothing like the time we had remembered. It was just way too busy and overcrowded. There was line after line to get in and then line after line while in with the ice. Dylan was scared because of the crowd and cold (he hates wearing hats and since we made him put it on before we went in, it was all downhill from there, anyway.) I guess some people still love the event, but we were disappointed and actually felt horrible for making it sound so wonderful, dragging his entire family to it. They wouldn't even let us ride down the ice slides with the kids on our laps, so we had no sliding fun. I know the themes are always kid friendly, but I guess no fun for my little man. Oh well, live and learn. All was well after we got the kids to Rainforest Cafe and got food in every one's bellies! 


Christmas Eve, we loaded up the car(s) and headed back home to Lubbock so Dylan wouldn't miss Santa coming! ;) Nonnie & Duke wanted to watch him open Santa gifts, so they tagged along, too, but only for a day. I'd say little Monkey is quite loved! :)

Santa did good and apparently Dylan was a good boy, too! He loved all of his presents left for him and was so excited! He couldn't decided what to play with first and kept going back and forth from one thing to the other. I'll have to say, I think his shopping cart is his favorite. He pushes that cart around everywhere all day long! It's so cute! I am thinking he needs a little market to go shopping at now! "Monkey's Market"... I can see it now... ;)

Friday, December 16

Screen Printing Shirts

In an effort for me to be more like Allison Booth, one of the co-writer's of the Lullaby Lubbock blog, (seriously, I am obsessed with her and it can probably fall in the pathetic stalker category) I wanted to learn to screen print my own t-shirts. Mark has mentioned several times that he wants to contact her and pay her to spend a day with me as a gift, which would be really embarrassing, but I would totally be down with it - haha! Anyway, I ordered a Speedball Screen printing kit and watched the DVD that came with it about how to do a process called photo emulsion. Basically, you design something on your computer, print it off in black and white on transparency paper, then start the complicated process. You have to put a special emulsion liquid on the screens and let them dry over night in a dark room. Then, you pull them out, put your transparency design on them, lay glass on top of the design, then use a special light to let the image transfer onto the screen for a certain amount of time. Have you stopped reading already because the complicated process has already confused bored you? Yeah, well, you get the idea. It's complicated, but the good news is that once you do it, it is so easy and you will be able to do it again and again and it goes really fast once you figure it out.

I decided to give the screen printing my very first try by making special Rhoads Family Christmas t-shirts for everyone to wear on our little trip to Dallas. You would think I would try it first on like ONE t-shirt, but no, I decided to experiment by committing to like 20 shirts! They turned out good, I think, for my first time, anyway! I learned a lot and probably will not try to do such fine print, as some of the lines in the letters did not turn out, but you can still make out what it is supposed to say.

The adults have a small design in the front corner and then the big design I made on the back of their shirts, while the kid's shirts all have the big design just on the front. Hopefully, we will get a good picture of all of us wearing our shirts together next week!

Monkey('s) Tree

All of Dylan's monkey ornaments have arrived and they are the cutest things ever! I am so happy with them and his tree is the bomb! It's seriously the most adorable tree. I don't think the pictures do it justice, but here it is :) ....


Monday, December 12

Lately...

It feels like I haven't blogged in forever! O.K., I haven't! I guess I haven't had much time with all of the holiday hustle and bustle going on. There really hasn't been much to create a blog post on, either. We've just had lots of little random things going on around here, I guess. Here are some things that we have been up to:
  • Mark got the Christmas lights put up on the house. We are one of two  houses on the entire street that have lights up this year. We have noticed it just gets worse and worse every year with people not decorating the outside of their homes. What's up with that? Laziness? Are traditions not important to people anymore?

  • Sent out Christmas cards and can't believe that we have only received two cards from others. I have noticed the same thing with Christmas cards as the outdoor lights. Why aren't as many people sending them out? I don't understand it. I'm sure people can blame all of it on the economy and things just being too expensive, but I'm just not buying it. I still think it is laziness. There would be no tree, lights, Christmas cards, presents, etc. around here if I didn't insist on it. No matter how much of an inconvenience it is, I still make Mark put lights on the house and I still buy presents, wrap them all pretty, bake goodies, decorate the house, and more, because I made the decision that I will force myself to do all of those things to make it special for my children (just Dylan right now). If we don't start the tradition of things now, then we will never do it. I do not want him being lazy and thinking that it isn't important.

  • Speaking of tradition, I hope that we didn't start a new one. Dylan has been sleeping in our bed with us for a couple of weeks now. We try to go in when he cries and rock him and put him back in his bed, but 10 minutes later, he starts crying again. If we put him in our bed, he stops, and goes to sleep. It is us being selfish, really, and wanting our own sleep. Mark wants to try the letting him "cry-it-out" but I can't do it. I can't just lay there with him crying. I'd rather go in his room, hold him, and rock him all night to sleep and then complain that I am really tired the next day, rather than letting him cry for us all night. Ugh.

  • I still have Dylan on half soy milk/half formula in his bottles. He still gets very runny diapers when he eats anything with milk in it and I am thinking he could be lactose intolerant. I am just trying to watch it closely. He loves his bottle so much, I am having a hard time not letting him have one. They calm him and put him to sleep, too. I don't want to eventually have a 3 year-old walking around with his bottle. I know, he is only 14-months now, but still. He did go yesterday with only one bottle as soon as he woke up and one bottle before bed because we were so busy running errands and being away from the house.

  • I know this might sound crazy to some people, but I think we will start potty training soon. Is that possible? Dylan understands when he is going no.2 and runs to a corner and squats down to go. I will ask him if he is going potty and he says, "ess." He understands that he is going potty, so I am trying to make an effort to talk about it with him right now to get him ready. Maybe I am getting ahead of myself, but who cares.

  • I spent two long days and nights working on a photo book of Dylan's first year about a week ago. I went ahead and forced myself to complete it because I was sent a coupon for 50% off by a certain date. I needed that 50% off! lol Anyway, the book came in the mail today and it is GREAT! I love it and could not be happier with it!



    Two days after I submitted the book to get printed, I receieved a letter from the company editior asking for permission to use my book design on their website, photos, etc.:

    "Dear Kari,

    Congratulations!  Your recent creation and photos have been selected by MyPublisher's distinguished photo editor, Karen Mullarkey, for potential publication on our website.  Because Karen feels your design and your photos are such beautiful examples of customer-created memories, we hope to feature them on our website to help inspire other customers as they create their own projects.

    Karen is one of the world's leading photo editors.  She has had a long and illustrious career as an award-winning photo editor of such major magazines as Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Look and Sports Illustrated.  She also has been photo editor for more than 70 internationally recognized books."


    I was proud of myself. I wonder if they just send that email to everyone, of if my book really was that great. You can view the book online by clicking here.

Friday, December 2

My Christmas Decor

I do not have very much Christmas decor, according to me. I would like to have more, but I am pretty picky when it comes to decor in my home. I also only buy decor when it goes on clearance after the holidays. I don't think that there is any point to spend full-price on it when you know it will be half-off on December 26th.

I don't go too over-the-top with holiday decor, but like to have small touches around the house.



Our Christmas tree was purchased at Target a couple of years ago when it was on sale. It isn't too big because we only have 8ft. ceilings in this old house.  It is mostly decorated with ornaments from Restoration Hardware. They are very fragile and all glass. Of course, I bought them on clearance after Christmas. They actually have some of the same ornaments for sale on their website right now full-price again! The tree skirt and stockings are from Pottery Barn. They have had the same style for years  now, which I like, because we were able to just add Dylan's to the collection and it matched. They always put these on sale after the holidays, too!


This happens all day long. He likes to clink the glass together, but is very gentle and smiles, then walks away. He hasn't actually pulled any ornaments off yet. He does, however, find the little red berry sticks interesting and likes to pull them off and hand them to me, looking so proud of himself. :)



Dylan has quite a few special ornaments on the tree, but the 'Little Monkey' is his favorite. I have had to move it towards the bottom of the tree in the front so he can see it and point to it easily, saying, "Monn!"



This year, I found some cute hand-painted ornaments of animals and Hurley and Chiko now have their own ornaments on the tree, too...


Dylan loves to look at the kissing ball hanging from the archway and give kisses underneath it!

Thursday, December 1

Our House: Master Bedroom

I just remembered that I hadn't finished posting pictures of our house! Here is the master and you will pretend that you do not know anything about the big mess of clothes/shoes I threw into the closets and hallway before I took the picture.

I recently got new bedding. If you had seen pictures before of the house, I used to have a really pretty silk Pottery Barn duvet. I loved it, but duvet covers and down comforters, no matter how lightweight that they claim to be, I get way too hot in the bed next to Mark and end up sleeping on the couch. In an effort to get me back into our bed, I bought a vintage-inspired white chenille bedspread. It is super lightweight, like a blanket. I like it a lot, but I am wanting to add some color in the room and to the bed, just haven't done it yet.

Yes, our master bedroom is incredibly large and we are even in shock at how big it is. When we moved in and ripped up the carpet, we could tell right away that this room was added on to to make it bigger. It's nice to have it so big!

The white couch is one of my favorite pieces of furniture. Not only because I use it as my bed quite a bit, but because you can't find pretty furniture like it anymore. It was Mark's grandmother's that she didn't want anymore and I was eager to take it!



The coffee table is one that was on clearance at Target a couple of years ago as a bench. It was only $18.00, and I have a bad habit of collecting furniture that is a great price, because I might use it or paint it to use it somewhere. I think it works well in the room.

The vertical canvas was a gift that I made Mark on our 2nd wedding anniversary. It has a cute quote on it that I saw somewhere and liked. It was an intense and stressful project. Now that I have Pinterest, I have seen so many ways that I could have done it better and much easier. Oh well, sweat and tears went into it! :)
Excuse the ugly torn-up chaise lounge in the corner. I love this chair and will not part with it even though all of the upholstery is ripped up on it from when Hurley was a puppy. That is why there are blankets draped on it. I plan to recover it. I will not trash any furniture, remember. It will be fabulous once it is redone! :)

We have a ways to go in the room, to me, still. We still need crown molding and some new furniture. Not to mention, the closets will be completely redone, along with the master bathroom when that project kicks off, or when we win the lottery.

Thursday, November 24

Thanksgiving cards

Dylan made Thanksgiving cards to send to some family and close friends this week. I traced his little hand and turned it into a simple turkey like every child should learn to do! On each finger, I put things that he was thankful for; Mommy, Daddy, Hurley, and Chiko. They were very easy and simple, but fun! It's cute to have a little memory of his hand size, too. :)

We are spending the holiday with my parents (a.k.a. Nonnie & Duke) and my Grandpa made the trip from Iowa to finally meet Monkey! He has been quite the entertainment for them so far. We will see how soon he scares them off! ;)

We plan to go visit the new Disney Store because it is supposed to be awesome and I just have to take Dylan to pick out some Mickey Mouse, or "Mow" stuff! My mom and I tried to go shopping Thursday night when the sales started (by "tried" I mean we never got out of the car). We saw the ridiculous lines wrapping around the stores and decided it wasn't worth it. We'll pay double the price for the stuff instead. I still haven't figured out what the amazing deals people stand in long lines for. I didn't see anything too great in the ads, but this is coming from the person that is done, yes D.O.N.E. Christmas shopping already! Mwahaha! I even have most of them wrapped! So, I guess I haven't cared too much to run out and grab stuff.

Hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Dylan is thankful for all of YOU, too!!! :)

Friday, November 11

Friday Favorites

1. Old Navy Faux-Leather Riding Boots -

Since riding boots are all the rage right now and I love things that are "all the rage," I wanted some! I never even dreamed of buying them until I found my awesome pair of jeggings that make it possible to wear them. I found a pair on sale at Old Navy online for only $29.99 a couple weeks ago. I am no t sure why that are not on sale anymore. They also only had a size 6 when I got them, but now only have a size 10 in the brown color that I got. These are perfect and I love them! If you're a size 10, I would go ahead and order them, even thought they aren't on sale like when I did, but I think they are worth it!  Check them out, or buy them here.




2. Grey Texas Tech Long Sleeve Tee -

This seems like a dumb item to blog about, and normally I wouldn't, but this is now my favorite t-shirt EVER! Have you ever had one of those grey t-shirt that is a soft, flimsy feeling that you just love? It's not the normal kind of cotton t-shirt material. Well, this is one of them and it is a long sleeved tee! I love long sleeve t-shirts. Makes my wardrobe sound real blah, but hey, I stay at home like every day now, and that's what I wear. If you went to Tech, just buy the shirt. I'm serious. You'll thank me later. They have it for guys, too. Buy it here.

Thursday, November 10

Photography Class

My birthday gift from Mark (the zoom lens for my camera) came with a free two-day "Basic Photography Class" to attend. It was on Tuesday & Wednesday evening from 7 - 10P.M. which automatically had me panicking just thinking about how long of a time period that is for me to be away from Dylan. To be honest, I really wasn't in panic mode because I wasn't going to be there, but because Mark was going to be with him for that long. Secretly, I was grinning on the inside so that he can get a slight idea of how my days go, but also, I was worried. Mark is not the most patient person. In weird mom mode, I even drew this real quick on the wipe-off board in the kitchen for Mark to refer to:


Do I need to explain it? There are 4 things that I always turn to if Dylan is in one of those crying mood swings. He has those? Uh, yeah. The 'nothing makes him happy mood' sneaks up at least once every couple of days (sometimes more).  These things can also work if he bumps his head (once every hour) and starts crying, too! First, take him to the snowglobes! Still crying? Try taking him outside, maybe for a walk. The weather is bad? Get out the vacuum and start cleaning, seriously, he loves it. Still not working? Put him in the bath tub and let him play. I've never had it where one of these things doesn't work and hope I never experience that. I'm so glad that these things are fairly simple to help calm him.

Well, Mark never had to "calm" him while I was gone. Go figure. He was perfection and just wanted to sit on the floor with his toys and play by himself next to Mark, or watch T.V. Not fair. That never happens with me.

So, the class. I actually had a lot more knowledge that I thought I did (compared to the other students) while in the class. It helps that I use my camera every single day since I have a little  one running around. Since the first day of the class was basically showing us what all of the buttons on the camera mean, I was a bit bored. I already knew all of that. There are certain things that I want to learn:

- how to get great shots of Dylan while he is on the move (which is always),
- how to get great quality pictures to make large prints from, and
- how to get good shots in horrible lighting situations (inside your house at night)

Some of my questions did get answered. I understand photography terms like ISO, shutter speeds, and aperture, but I get all confused when trying to put them together and take time to think about all of it while Dylan is doing the cutest thing ever! I don't have time to sit and think about what settings to use and I don't get two and three chances to get a perfect shot of something happening and that is where I get frustrated. I did discover that some of the settings that my camera was on were completely WRONG. I am willing to bet that a lot of people have the same problem. I found out that if you change the AF mode to AL SERVO (that is for freezing movement)!!!!!! Mine was automatically set at the "ONE SHOT" setting! Go turn your camera on right now and see what yours is set on, I'll betcha it's on the "ONE SHOT" setting. Mine is now always on AL SERVO. Push your AF button to change it.



When I try to upload pictures to get printed large from a photo store online, like a poster print, or even an 8x10 from, let's say, Shutterfly, I get the warning message that my photo has low resolution and may turn out blurry. I feel like such a dummy now that I discovered it was a simple setting on the Menu of my camera. In fact, the very first setting on the camera's Menu. Go to Menu, then Quality, and make sure it is set on the L (the biggest, best quality of pictures) Guess what mine was set on. The S (which stands for SMALL!) I thought the S was a "Standard" setting. Ugh.



I also learned that I need more practice, and want more things. Like, Photoshop. I feel like all photographers keep everything a complete secret and it annoys me. Do they use Photoshop to edit their pictures, or is there a better program? I want to know! If anyone knows more about Photoshop, I would like to hear about it. I have been interested in also learning about graphic design, too. I want to be able to make really great quality invitations, greeting cards Christmas cards, and photos. What programs do graphic designers use to make invitations? Does Photoshop do that? If anyone knows any of these "secrets," please let me know! :)

Now, if I could just learn to write my own prescriptions, just kidding...

Friday, November 4

Friday Favorites (baby style)

I mean, Saturday Favorites? Ehh... I was "busy" and Monkey went to bed at midnight. Yes, midnight. As in, 12:00 A.M. Now it's 12:45 and I am just now getting to finish this post (plus, I am trying to get all fancy and link all favorites)


I have been meaning to create a post about the things we love and cannot live without now. There are some of the same things that we use every single day since he was born, and then some new things because he is growing and getting so much more mature. Teehee.

Some of the things we continue to use and love (Birth - Present):


1. bottle warmer
2. ItzBeen timer
3. up and up gas medicine from Target
4. Pamper's Sensitive Swaddlers (when not using cloth)
5. bouncer
6. cloud b sheep
7. sound machine
8. baby einstein naptime melodies
9. children's place stretchies


Some of the things that we cannot live without now (9 months - Present):


1. Baby Einstein Neptune's Oceans DVD (We watch this about 5 times a day)
2. Tiny TOMS
3. Easy Mac (I grab this in case he won't eat something where ever we go)
4. Baby Einstein bath book (We read it every night in the tub)
5. Baby Einstein Peekaboo Baby book (We read it over and over)
6. Britax car seat
7. Red Wagon
8. Fisher Price iphone animal sounds app (best FREE app!)
9. swing (the gift that keeps on giving - nap time)
10. cloth diapers (see below)

O.K., so there are tons of cloth diapers to choose from and it is hard to know which one's to buy. They are pretty expensive to just buy all at once, so as many of you know, I have purchased three different brands because they were on some sort of sale website for half of the price. All three brands are different and I like them for different reasons. I do have a favorite of the three, though.

1. GroVia All-In-One's -These are the first cloth diapers that I purchased. I love the ice blue (light turquoise) color they are. They are man-friendly (Mark's favorite because you just snap and fold, you don't have to stuff the liners inside of them like most). I do think that they have to be changed more often in these, though.




2. Bum Cheeks all-in-one nappies - I like how soft these are. I am not crazy about how bulky they are because some of Dylan's clothes don't even fit him in this brand of diaper. They are very durable. I think they hold more and do not have to be changed as often as the GroVia's.


3. Fuzzi Bunz Cloth Diapers - I recently purchased only three of these from Zulily. I honestly did not need more diapers, but wanted to try this brand. These are my favorite! Of course, the diapers that I only have three of are my favorite. Oh well, I know now. I love the color of them and the fabric. They are very soft and stretchie, but not too bulky. They do have to have the liners stuffed inside, but I like when you stuff the lining inside because I think it holds more (less leaks). So, if you come across this brand at a good price, I would recommend stocking up on them. The others work great, too, but if I had to pick, I like these the best! :)

Monday, October 31

Boo for Halloween

Here are the highlights of our Halloween weekend/day:

- I had been planning to take Dylan for over a month to the Vintage Township Fall Festival Carnival as his little Trick-Or-Treat night, but discovered an hour beforehand that it was the night before. We missed it.

- Decided to take him to one at the Tech Campus that night (Saturday) to one we found out about online. It was game time. Bad traffic. The event was horrible and in a small dark room. The college kids scared him with their scary masks. He cried. We left.

- We were told several times that our "little girl is the cutest thing," and "she is so adorable!"

- Took a few pictures of him in his costume since we were certain he would never let us touch him with it again. He hated the feathers in his face.



- Made my favorite Pumpkin cupcakes and even got out all of the garbage to decorate them all nicely, went to change a diaper, came back into the kitchen, and half the batch of cupcakes were missing with a dog licking his lips. He even ate the paper wrappers. Oh, and Dylan's lunch that was on the counter.

- Helped Mark clean the garage on Sunday. Dylan had fun helping and running freely in the garage. He fell. Skinned his nose on the cement and banged his head for the 10th time that day.

- Got a text message on Monday afternoon from Mark to tell me that he was on crutches and did something to his knee. He went to the doctor and they determined a torn Meniscus. He has an MRI on Wednesday evening and we will know more after that. Possible surgery. He is "wounded" and "helpless".

- I made up some cute boxed pumpkin cupcakes with Halloween stickers and a nice big bowl of candy for trick-or-treators. We had one come to the door. Yes, one. Just one.

- Decided that before it got too late since Monkey was in a good mood, to try and put his costume on him and take him a couple of doors down to trick-or-treat. He loved it. He rode in his wagon.


One year ago...

Today...

Check out his battle wounds. They are hard to miss. ;)

Friday, October 28

Halloween treats

I had a little time (sort of) to put some little Halloween treat baggies together on behalf of Dylan for his cousins this year. I don't like just giving candy because having so much candy is overwhelming and a lot of it gets thrown out anyway. I got to thinking of other candy alternatives that could be a treat and I found these cute Firefly toothbrushes!



When you push the bottom up on the toothbrush, it lights up and flashes for 1-minutes. It is intended to teach them how long to brush their teeth, while making it fun. You push it 2 times, 1-minute on the bottom teeth, 1-minute for the top teeth. I hope they enjoy them. I kept one for Dylan, too! :)