This Spring...

As I sit here with nothing but a window separating me from 4 inches of freshly-fallen snow, I just have to start thinking about the things I want/need to do in the coming weeks. There are a few new places I'd like to take Larkyn for fun and of course for photo opportunities. And, Matt & I still need to make up for the Valentines dinner we missed due to a sick baby/stupid work schedule. Another girls night is looming, where we will celebrate spring birthdays! And of course, there are a few chores that we just can't seem to get motivated to complete. Maybe putting it in print will magically make the paint cans appear and the bags full of clothes in the garage disappear.

23 month shy of 2!!

I can't believe she is almost two!  Of course, if you ask her, she will say she is "12345!" while holding up her fingers.

To be honest, it has been a hellish month. I haven't written in a while because I haven't been inspired I guess. Larkyn has been sick over and over, the weather isn't getting warmer (which affects my kids at home and at school!)  Just one heck of a rut. But excitement is on the horizon...
I took a personal day this week to print and package them! Best 3 items you could ever set in front of me.
Yes, the planning has gone into full-swing and you know I'm in heaven planning every last light pink gingham detail. In the spirit of this post by one my favorite bloggers, I am proud to wave my freak flag when it comes to my kid's birthday party because I don't any other time.

So what is our almost-two-year-old up to?

New phrases: "Whatsthat?!" in response to new objects, faces, and especially sounds, "Show me" when she wants to show ME what she wants to eat (always cereal), "See Nana?" every other time she picks up my phone and wants to Facetime with my mom, "By Gabba" to watch Yo Gabba Gabba (the fascination has finally begun, my friend...)

Favorite activities: Well, nothing beats "play", which means going outside to play or driving to an indoor playground. "Play" at our house is simply not cutting it. Ipad games, jumping on the bed, coloring on all surfaces of the house with Crayola Color Wonder markers. And oh yes, Sharpies, which come out of brand new Hunter boots with rubbing alcohol, just FYI.

New challenges:  Up and down napping and bedtime issues from these colds she catches or if we are slightly off our routine. Oy!  Also, removing her from bathtub when she wants to "wim" (even when there is no water left, wimming is better than getting out and putting a diaper on).

Ways you make us laugh:  Rocking out to the "radio" on your tricycle, Wearing non-hat items on your head, getting so excited over the things you can spot from the car (airplanes, moon, buses).

Looking forward to:  Easter egg hunts, Uncle Eric & Aunt Shannon's wedding, A PJs and Donut party, and starting your first gymnastics class!

We are so proud of you and love you so much. Your energetic and inquisitive personality are starting to show and it is fun to see you develop your own interests (even if it means testing us daily!)

To list or not to list...

Oh, freaking life decisions. It is a blessing that we get to make these decisions at all, but I just get soooo consumed with what to do...what might happen...what if it doesn't work?  What if we regret it? What if we never move and live here until we die in it like all of my neighbors?!

Here is the deal. I am desperately seeking opinions, advice, whatever you have to offer. Because I KNOW you have it.

I am in love with our house. It is like my other baby. I loved it the first time I saw it listed, loved every square inch of it during the walk-through, and we jumped on the opportunity to buy it right then and there.

But, 3 years later, we are out of space. There is ONE area for us. That means eating, toy-playing, basketball-game watching, everything takes place here. Put it this way, I am sitting on the couch, and I can see what is on my kitchen counter, what is on Larkyn's bookshelf, and what is on our "dining room" table. Yeah, it's cozy.

We could stay like this. There are many pros...
  • Fantastic location that is close to everything we need
  • Love our neighbors
  • Small enough to clean entire place in an hour
  • Unparalleled school district
  • Great fenced-in yard with lilac bushes and TREES (trees and 3+ BRs top my list of "musts")
  • Walking distance to several parks
I could stay and be happy. But there are some drawbacks that make it tempting to list...
  • 2 bedrooms= 2 closets with 3 people, no guests, future family situation, etc.
  • Only one living area unless we want to go into our bedrooms
  • No sidewalks...I could never let her walk or ride by herself without worrying
  • The basement access is through the garage. Annoying, but we are used to it.
  • Right now the market is HOT and houses in our area are selling like crazy; this is a perfect time to sell
There really aren't that many all comes down to space inside and space outside. For instance, the fact that we have to have frosted windows on the entire left side of our house (or else we cold wave to our neighbors while "sitting on the can" as Matt would say) doesn't totally bother me. I grew up in a very suburban setting where we all played in each other's yards and houses.

But Matt craves space! It would have to be something really special to keep him here in the city. And likewise, it would have be something really special for me to move out of the city. So the search is on for something really special. We don't quite know where that might be, which leads me to the point of this post.

We cannot be considered as buyers for anything until we sell our current house (obviously). So, as much as we'd like to find something great and THEN sell, that is not realistic.

So, my friends, do we list?  Do we take this opportunity the market has presented to us and upsize now, or stay in the house we love and have to move later anyway?  I know my heart is getting the better of me right now (typical)

Anatomy of a Girl's Night

It starts with the anticipation. Just the act of writing "Girl's night!!" with a smiley face on the calendar makes me want to do a roundoff-back handspring. Which I cannot do, by the way.

Then picking the restaurant. I LOVE to go out to eat, so the amount of thought I put into the decision is similar to what most people would for a new car, a wedding dress...
The contenders. Cooper won. 229 next time!

Then we start thinking about what to wear. We consult Pinterest to see how to wear the new bright pink jeggings (pink and navy, who would have thought!?)  Gone are the days when we wonder what will make us look "hot" and what we can dance in. This is all about putting together a fun ensemble without the worry of crayon, snot, or oatmeal getting on it.
my pretend closet

Next come the texts as the date draws closer. "Can't wait for Saturday!"..."Have you looked at the menu?!"

Then the day arrives. You pray that daddy will get home on time, be excited that you are leaving, and will enjoy his night as well. No one wants to sit at dinner wondering if everyone is miserable without your presence (the answer is not at all...they eat sprinkles and take bubble baths).

I have confirmed that I am not alone in thinking that the solo car ride to the venue is almost the best part. There is only ONE person in charge of the radio, and that is ME. For that 30 minutes, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and I are equals. People driving past (let's be honest, I'll be the one passing) might wonder who the psycho is, but it's all good because it is Girl's Night, bitches.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say the smaller the group, the better. There is never enough time to hear all the funny stories about what our kids are repeating, build each other up in our personal endeavors and nod our heads when we are facing the same issues in life. It feels good to have someone else say "me too" and to assure you that you aren't crazy. Ladies, we are all in this together. Don't go it alone!  In between the stories, it is eventually time to order...

Since we have looked at the menu at home multiple times, this is pretty easy. However, now that we have another person in our midst, it is necessary to discuss every item on the menu and make sure we are ordering something we will not regret. This usually includes consulting with the server as well.

After a blessed hour or two of good food, "Can you believe she said..."s, and maybe some white wine or a chocolate martini, it is time to wrap it up. We know our limits by now. After the typical walk around whatever area of town we are in, we know it is soon back to reality. There's that little voice that woke up inside us a few years ago, reminding us about the drive home or that there's a Nana at home who has things of her own to do. There is a pull to home these days, and that is what makes these occasional outings so sacred.

Need a shot of Balance in your life? Follow the instructions above and go have fun, kids. And remember, it doesn't have to be at night. An escape for breakfast or lunch with a friend will accomplish the same thing.

Little Green House Play Cafe review

I think it is safe to say that we have been miserably housebound for two weeks. Larkyn was finally through with her Sam's Club-looking jug of amoxocillin (most of it definitely went in her hair or on her poor PJs), and we were ready to PLAY today!

In my neck of the woods, there are zillions of choices for parks. We can walk to at least 3, and probably 10 others within a short drive. But, to play indoors, we would need to drive a hefty distance to our favorite Lattes & Lollipops or Polaris Mall. Not in the mood for the drive today. Luckily, my Macaroni Kid newsletter alerted me to the opening of Little Green House, which is only a few miles away.

Little Green House
808 Grandview Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Important to note:
  • This is in a very convenient location but not easy to see. It is actually in the old Steak Escape location on the corner of Grandview/Riverside. I had to call, like an idiot, from the parking lot to ask if I was in the right place. 
  • You and your child must wear socks. 
  • Admission is $5 and the play area is not staffed (ie: you are in charge of your own bambino)
When we walked in and Larkyn realized it was a place to play, she whipped her coat off as fast as she could and was off! I had to sign the customary waiver and pay the admission. We removed our shoes and went to see what it was all about.

Those trees divide up the cushioned seats. There are several benches, a bar, and tables that you can't see.
Green House leaves you in charge of your child, but the layout is smaller and there comfy seats all over the area so that you can sit and watch your child closely. So, though she could play "by herself", I could sit close enough to her that she could bring me every last felt cabbage and cucumber in the pretend grocery store while I read 

Who is that cute little firefighter?
The layout is adorable...there are 4 tiny buildings for the kids to go into and experience different kinds of dramatic play. A firehouse with a kick-butt firetruck that actually has lights on top and buttons to push. For someone who is currently obsessed with emergency vehicles, this was a hit.
"Iya duck!"
There was a little market with a thousand pieces of produce (good, sturdy Melissa and Doug type), baskets, a cash register, and metal shopping carts.

Swipin' the credit card. I don't know where she learned that skill.
The Animal clinic was popular with most of the kids and had a nice chalkboard inside (for patient charts, you know). I always appreciate a vertical writing surface for fine motor development!

"Roxy, 3 year old dalmatian spaying, O.R. 3 with Dr. Osborne."
And then, my favorite part...the beautiful light-up bridge!  I'm not going to lie, I kind of wanted to walk across it myself. Because it was against the wall of windows, I didn't get a great picture of it. But it leads to a slide that every single child adored. It was nice and low-lying, so no one was going to go flying off the slide and have to use that waiver we signed!

Naturally, Larkyn went rogue as she usually does in these unstructured situations. She enjoyed zooming around the kitchen and bathroom area with this magical toy.

Speaking of the kitchen, Little Green House is affiliated with Bellwether Kitchen and has a menu of healthy lunch options. I was really in the mood for (and assumed they would have) coffee drinks, but not yet. I am hoping that after their initial few months, they will expand the menu and offer some lattes and smoothies one day.  It may be time for another visit since it has been a few years!

All in all, we had a great time. The young lady in charge was friendly and receptive. I was impressed with the quality of the toys and the play structures, loved the seating arrangement, and actually enjoyed the Pandora station they had on for the kids. We have been back once but now live a little far from it, and I would suggest it to anyone looking for something new to try with your little ones in the UA/Grandview area.

A note: We went at 10:30 am during a snowy day. There were only 3 other kids there and it was a great number. Their website cautions that they can reach capacity during busy hours or special events. You can call before you go to make sure there is availability.
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