Meet the Sullivans: July 2013

July 31, 2013

How We Childproofed Our Open Entertainment Center

Keith and I struggled with how to keep Owen away from our open entertainment center for so long. As soon as he learned to crawl (which was eons ago!) he headed straight for the television and all the attractive little buttons there. We could tell from then on that this was going to be an ongoing problem in our house if we didn't find a solution.

Originally we had the pack and play up against it. At that time we were still using it everyday for Owen, so it made sense, since it was out and in our way all the time anyway -- might as well put it to good use, right? But as we began using it less and less for Owen, and more and more as a place to store toys and block the entertainment center. It just became a total space stealer.

We looked online extensively and never found something that would work for us and that piece of furniture. We weren't going to replace it, so that wasn't an option. We wanted something temporary, that would be easy to remove when we wanted to put a DVD in and something that wouldn't damage the furniture. We wanted something that would still make it possible for us to change the channel while our child blocking device was up.

SO, when we couldn't find exactly what we wanted for purchase we decided to "make" our own childproof solution for the entertainment center. One Sunday afternoon we wandered around Home Depot to see what we could find.


We ended up with a ClosetMaid 72 by 12-Inch SuperSlide Wire Shelf and a few of the Flex-Jaw Spring Clamps to hold it on. It has worked out really well for us and has stood the test of time! Owen still loves sticking his little fingers in there to push one button at a time, and although this isn't ideal either, it is a whole lot better than having to buy another piece of furniture that we don't need or want!

 

Only recently has Owen been trying to lift the shelving up from the bottom to try to get to the electronics underneath, but he really isn't so interested in the anymore, as he has so many other more interesting things to attend to ... i.e. splashing in the dogs water, scaling the outside of the staircase, climbing on the kitchen table. If you have any awesome solutions for these not so easily childproofed activities please share them below!

July 30, 2013

Owen's First Bike

Last week when Keith and I went to see Monster's University we felt so bad for leaving Owen that we decided to stop into Talbot's Toyland to get him a little surprise. We looked around for a while at all the fun toys and ended up at the toddler bikes. We were so close to buying him one, but decided to hold off until we had a chance to really think it through (although we already knew he would LOVE it and have so much fun with it!).

Keith was really the one pushing the bike thing. I could have held off on getting him one for a little longer, but Keith has been so excited about it (watching their father-son relationship and the way they love each other is one of the greatest experiences of my life -- but that's a whole other post for another day) that we ended up going on Monday to buy him one!


We've heard so many good things about the Strider PREbike Bikeand did our research, and ended up deciding it was the best "first bike" for Owen. The best thing about the bike is that he gets to build his confidence, balance and coordination on the bike before he has to worry about lifting his feet off the ground to pedal. With this bike he'll master the most difficult parts of learning to ride a bike (the confidence to find your balance) and worry about pedaling later.


We knew Owen would eventually love his bike, but we thought he might not be interested in it right away. The toy store is right near a great big park with nice wide pathways that are perfect for practicing, so we took him over there after buying the bike and helmet (Specialized Small Fry Toddler Helmet).


He almost seemed like he had done it before because when we put the helmet on him and plopped the bike down next to him he saddled right up on it like a pro.


He is obviously not at the point yet where his feet leave the ground, he's not even really sitting on the seat yet, but he gets the idea of it -- and that's a great place to start.



He was so proud of himself walking around on his bike in the park, and we're really proud of him too. When we got home he wanted to ride around on it some more, which we let him do in the house. We want him to get as much exposure as possible to the bike so he'll be really confident on it, but eventually we'll phase of the bike riding in the house.

So far the only challenge is wearing the helmet. He calls it "hat" and is fine with letting us put it on him, but once it's on he wants us to take it right off again. It's just something we'll have to continue to work on!


Oh, and THIS. How crazy are the squirrels in this park? It's Central Park in downtown San Mateo, so it gets a lot of foot traffic, and I'm guessing the squirrels aren't too afraid of people. Owen was saying "Hiiiiie" to him and it just kept coming closer. For a split second (obviously long enough to snap a picture) I thought it was cute until I realized it would probably keep coming and coming and coming. We promptly scooped that boy up and ran for the car.

***Also, please take a minute to vote for my blog in the Pop Sugar Top 25 Nor Cal Moms contest! You can vote once a day until August 13th! I'm currently in the 40's somewhere and I'd love to be in the top 25 when the list is made! Thanks so much!***

July 29, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up

We've had a great weekend so far! Today is technically our Sunday, although it's Monday, since Keith is always off on Mondays. Today we're hanging around home because our little guy has a bad cold -- but don't worry, he is in great spirits. He is really as happy as can be, but with a little less energy.

Friday afternoon: Playing at our new favorite park with lots of shade and a great toddler play area. Owen can go down the slide on his own now, sitting up like a big boy, so he's really into that.

Friday night: Enjoying Phill Phillips and John Mayer with my sister.


Sorry for the shaky camera job!

Saturday morning: Breakfast sandwiches, coffee and mini cupcakes at the Farmer's Market Saturday morning.

Beautiful hydrangeas from the Farmer's Market. 

Saturday night: Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie for dinner with family Saturday night.

And then yesterday I completely forgot to take any pictures. The day wasn't anything monumental though. I went for a pedicure with some friends from my Mother's Club, we went to lunch at the Fish Market, Keith got a haircut and we went grocery shopping. And there were naps!

That's all for now! I hope you're all surviving Monday!


July 26, 2013

Five on Friday

This week has felt pretty long and I'm pretty tired, but I'm still so excited it's Friday!

THE GOOD LIFE BLOG


I'm linking up again this week with Darci of [the good life], April of A. Liz Adventures, Christina of Carolina Charm, and Natasha of Hello! Happiness for 5 on Friday! Here are 5 things I want to do, buy, bake and make:

  
DO: Watch Veep all day long! Keith and I just started watching this show this week and it is SO funny! SO far we've watched 5 episodes and I can't wait to watch more. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has the most spot on comedic timing ever and I can't get over Anna Chlumsky being on it either. This is a hilarious show, you have got to watch it! 


DO: Tonight my sister and I are going to see John Mayer in concert! I've wanted to go for years, but Back-to-School night always fell on the same night of his concerts when he was touring in our area -- totally bummer, until now!


BUY: I have been doing a pretty good job of making it to the gym in the last couple weeks (I'm still sore from that TRX class of Tuesday) and I think I deserve a little reward. This Lululemon run: tame me tank would also be some extra motivation to keep. on. GOING!


BAKE: I love a good bar. They seem to always be moist and have so much flavor! I'm itching to make these Strawberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars this weekend.


MAKE: A while back Jennifer of Life in the Green House made these DIY creaseless hair ties. I had them on my list of crafty things I want to make since she posted about them in May and I'm finally going to order the elastic today. I think they would make a great addition to a little new mom care package, a goody bag at a shower / bachelorette ad perfect for the gym of course!

Happy Friday, friends!

July 24, 2013

Taco Night - Clean Eating Style

We love Taco Tuesday here at the Sullivan house. Who can resist an excuse to eat chips with salsa, guacamole, a little cheese and maybe even a cold margarita? I make a concisous effort (most weeks) when I'm planning our dinner menu to make sure that most of our meals are as healthful as they can be. I sub rice for quinoa, white potatoes for sweet potatoes and always include as many vegetables as I can.

The ingredients in tacos are mostly pretty good for you, but you have to chose wisely. For this version of Taco Tuesday we subbed the taco shells for a few chips, skipped the cheese and added butternut squash.

Eating Clean Taco Night

1 lb ground extra lean beef
1 pkg low sodium taco seasoning
1 cup brown rice
1 can low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 butternut squash, chopped and roasted
optional toppings: avocado, low-fat cheese, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, fresh salsa

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the squash on a sheet pan and drizzle with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss well. Arrange the squash in one layer and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until the squash is tender, turning once with a metal spatula.

2. While the squash is roasting cook the brown rice according to package directions. Spray a pan with cooking spray and saute the beef until browned, add taco seasoning and cook according to packet instructions. 

3. When squash is done roasting, combine rice, beef, squash and black beans. Serve with desired toppings and ENJOY!

What did you cook for dinner last night? What is your family's favorite dinner?

July 23, 2013

Five Favorites hosted by Camp Patton

Yes, Five Favorites, not to be confused with my go to Friday link-up, Five on Friday. I hope I'm not confusing you...because I am a bit... Anyway this is a link-up being hosted by the really truly hilarious Grace, author of Camp Patton.


Some favorite moments from the past week:


|ONE| I tried the TRX class at my gym yesterday. It seriously kicked my behind, and I loved it! We have a suspension training set up at home, which I've used a few times with Keith, but it was really great to be in a class seeing what the trainers do. I'm planning to go to the class at least once a week and do some of the moves at home too -- I have a great feeling (i.e. the soreness all over my whole body) that I'll see some great results.

|TWO| We made Keith's grandma's sauce again this weekend! I made it once before on my own and it didn't turn out nearly as good as it did this time. Keith's grandma typed up the directions a long time ago, on a typewriter! These aren't Food Network recipe directions, people. There are some parts that I had to ask questions about because I didn't know what size "can" to use (14 oz? 8oz? 4oz?) etc. We used it for dinner with spaghetti squash "spaghetti", to make a lasagna and to make a freezer meal of stuffed shells. I think it turned out really great this time and we can't wait to make more to stock up the freezer. I'd love to share the recipe, but I've got to ask permission first!


|THREE| Keith and I went to see Monster's University on Monday! We felt so bad leaving Owen at home to watch a cartoon, but he's really not ready to go to the movies yet. He definitely couldn't sit through 1 1/2+ hour, so yeah.


|FOUR| This guy was so happy this weekend when we let him have vanilla ice cream after dinner! I love seeing him happy and so ecstatic, and I especially appreciate that he's actually pretty darn neat. Thanks, Owen! xoxoxo

|FIVE| Two posts I've liked / enjoyed / identified with in the last week: When You Need to Drop the Ball and Least We Forget ....

Happy almost hump day!


Our Dream Home Pinterest Style

In case you missed it, I guest blogged last week on Jillian's blog, Earning Our Stripes, while she was on vacation. She was kind enough to let a few of us share our dream homes on her blog!

As you may already know, Keith and I are not home owners, not yet. I know it will probably take us a few years longer to get to the point where we can buy a home (we made that choice when we decided I'd be staying home with Owen), and in our area (Northern California, just outside San Francisco) our first home will likely not be the home of our dreams -- not yet, at least! But a girl can dream... RIGHT?!

Our dream home is a family friendly space that welcomes playing and laughter, space to cook great meals and comfy couches for watching movies together. I would like the living space to be large enough for the parties we love to host, while also feeling cozy enough for daily living.  I love using Pinterest to collect all of my "dream home" inspirations. You can follow my Dream Home board here.


If I were to build one home out of what I have there, this is what it would look like:

Ever since I watched Father of the Bride as a little girl I have dreamed of raising my own family in a White Colonial home! I love the traditionally American bright white exterior and a creamy white entryway with dark accents on the staircase and flooring



An open, bright family room with built-ins for family photos, cookbook storage, keepsakes in shelving. Room for flat screen to be mounted, ideally with a sliding door to hide it when necessary. White on white kitchen with window seating around kitchen table.


I would love a little home office space right in the middle of all the action. It would be great to have a space (that is not the kitchen counter or table) for paying bills, keeping calendars, blogging, etc that is designated for all of that and from which I can work, but also have an eye on Owen or dinner simmering on the stove.

 via

I would die to have a laundry room, period. Especially one as beautiful as this! I love the colors and that there is a door that leads outside. That way when we have lots of fun getting all messy in the yard we can throw Owen's clothes directly into the wash!


A master bedroom with a fireplace, a window seat reading nook and a seating area is perfection to me. I'd love to be able to just curl up in bed with the fire going and a good book -- if I ever had the time!


A master bathroom like this would just be a dream! I can't even tell you how much everything would be if we had double sinks. I don't totally love the marble on the floor, but the rest is perfect--especially the sunk-in tub and shelving.

via

Owen would be in heaven in a playroom like this! Check out the fort / tree house, rock climbing wall, cozy chairs, window seat reading nook and slide!


Thanks so much for reading! Hopefully someday we'll be able to pull together a home as awesome as the one I've "built" here to share today! I hope you've enjoyed check out our dream home!

What does your dream home look like? Is there any one thing you would not be able to live without in your ideal space?

July 22, 2013

Our First Citrus Lane Box - A Review

Who doesn't loooove to get something fun in the mail? I know I always get giddy when I come home to a package on the doorstep, especially when I'm not exactly expecting one. When I heard about Citrus Lane I thought it seemed like the perfect "fun mail" for my little guy. Each month we'll be receiving a box of baby / toddler goods tailored to his age and sex (there are gender neutral boxes too). Fun, right!?


We just could not wait to see what's inside this month's box!


Owen couldn't wait to get his little hands on all his goodies. This month's theme was traveling or being on the go, so all of the items in the box are meant to be helpful when you're out and about.


First up is the me4kids Cool It Buddy Instant Cold Pack ($4.99) These are instant cold packs meant to be kept in the diaper bag or car. There are two in the package and are disposable after use. I think these will come in handy if we're at the park, etc. and O gets a boo boo.


Zo Li Snack Stack Snack Pile  ($18.00)  This is a 3 tiered container that holds 1 cup in each section. Each section screws in to the one above it, which is more secure and pace effiecient than three containers with their own lids. It is larger than the other snack stacker I have, and could nicely fit a little sandwich or lots of pretzels (Owen's favorite snack). There is also nice big handle on top, which makes it easy to hang it on to your stroller or diaper bag on the go! 


Postagrams ($10.00)  This is a voucher good for 10 "postagrams". A postagram is a postcard with a punch-out picture. You download the app, upload your own photos and then send the postagram to friends or family. I think this is really neat, especially when you're on vacation! I will definitely remember to use this when we go to Disneyland in September.


Melissa & Doug Safari Peg Puzzle ($7.00) We love Melissa & Doug toys, and Owen really does too. The puzzle was the first thing he really gravitated toward. This is my favorite item in our July box.

 


Gogo Apple Berry Squeeze Applesauce on the Go ($1.00) Owen doesn't really love these apple sauce pouches, but he was willing to try it this time. I've seen other people were given different snack and I kind of wish we got something Owen likes, but how are they supposed to know that?


Still not sure, but at least he's giving it a chance. I love the look on his face. I think the texture is strange to him. He was never really a fan of purees.

Overall I'm pretty happy with our Citrus Lane experience so far. I think a subscription would make a great gift for a new baby or even a birthday gift for a toddler.

When our box shipped I was sent an email notification that it would arrive by July 22nd, but we received it the day after I got the email. I can't wait for our next box to come, and I will be sure to give you all the details when we do!

If you'd like to sign up for a box follow this link and you'll receive $10 off your order (and I'll receive $10 off my next box too)!

I was not compensated, or given any products for writing this review. I just wanted to share our experience and opinions about the service with other interested parties, like you!