From Drab to Fab: A Playhouse Renovation You've Got To See

My husband and I always joke that any project I touch is destined to be much more complicated than it should be. Usually, he is very right. So when I started the conversation of building a playhouse for Brody, we knew we were in for some work. What we did not realize was how much fun we would have as a family creating this little play space and watching Brody enjoy it.

Outdoor Playhouse DIY Renovation | Painted Wooden Playhouse

We started with a build-your-own playhouse kit. The Backyard Discovery Timberlake Cedar Wood Playhouse (similar) seemed to be more affordable and less time consuming than trying to build our own design. When we initially opened the box, we were a bit concerned it may be tough to put together, but once we started taking the pieces out we were pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to build.

Outdoor Playhouse DIY Renovation | Painted Wooden Playhouse

To transform the playhouse into a Palm Springs inspired juice bar, we focused on three main changes: painting, extending the side window, and decorating the playhouse. Below, I am spilling the beans on how we spiced up the playhouse. I won’t sugar coat it, the painting process took much longer than planned—a rough first trimester could be partially to blame. But the final results of this playhouse renovation were more than worth the effort!

Outdoor Playhouse DIY Renovation | Painted Wooden Playhouse

Painting The Playhouse

Since we had recently painted our block wall fence a charcoal color, I knew I wanted to paint the playhouse white. The playhouse is the first thing you see when you look out of the kitchen window and I wanted to be sure it was not an eyesore. We used Behr Ultra Pure White in an eggshell finish. Per the paint counter attendant, the eggshell finish would give us a little more wipe-ability on the exterior, while still appearing fairly flat.

Outdoor Playhouse DIY Renovation | Painted Wooden Playhouse

We debated how to paint the pieces. Should we paint each piece before we build the house? Should we build the whole house then paint it? Should we do a combo of both? We ultimately decided to build the house without the roof and paint the home separately from the roof pieces. Was this the best strategy? I am not sure, but it worked. Some of the pieces overlapped others, so we avoided painting unnecessary areas. Since we used white, it took a solid 3 coats in most areas to make sure it fully covered the cedar wood. When we finished the first coat, I looked at the house and wanted to quit because it looked awful. But we kept on trekking and by the time the 3rd coat was applied, we were happy.

Tip: follow the wood grain with your brush strokes for best results.

Outdoor Playhouse DIY Renovation | Painted Wooden Playhouse

It was difficult to paint in some of the crevices. Once we assembled the entire playhouse, I went around with a can of white spray paint and tried to fill in most of the little areas that we had missed with paint. I highly recommend doing this.

Building An Awning

After we finished tackling the painting (nearly 3 months later!), we spent a weekend working on the fun part—customizing the playhouse! Since the interior of the playhouse is small, there is not a lot of room for a table or counter space. We decided to transform the windowsill on one of the sides to create a little counter/table. We simply drilled a sanded piece of birch wood into the windowsill to create the counter space (thanks, dad, for your handiwork on this!). I do plan on adding a varnish or finish to the counter in the next few weeks before it rains.

Outdoor Playhouse DIY Renovation | Painted Wooden Playhouse

To make the side look more customized, we built an awning. If it sounds intimidating, it was not. We simply secured two shelf brackets from Ikea to the side of the window frame and covered it with a plastic coated striped fabric. Since I do not sew, I hot glued the fabric to the brackets. It has been holding up well so far—the lovely Arizona weather may be a contributing factor.

Outdoor Playhouse DIY Renovation | Painted Wooden Playhouse

Decorating The Playhouse

Outdoor Playhouse DIY Renovation | Painted Wooden Playhouse

As for decorating the playhouse, we used a washable Ikea rug at the entrance. This rug is under $4, so if it gets destroyed over time, I am not worried. We painted terracotta pots black and planted succulents to dress up the front. You could also use faux plants, but I am learning that toddlers love gardening. Hopefully Brody’s gardening skills are much better than mine.

We put a stool on the side by the window table. Brody alternates between sitting on the stool and playing in the house—it is so fun to watch. I am planning on bringing a container of play food outside for him to use, but in the meantime cups and rocks have been quite entertaining

We had so much fun building this little house. I am hoping it brings years of fun to our kids! Now who wants to come over for some lemonade and a play date?

Get the look:

Palm Springs Inspired Playhouse DIY | Build Your Own Playhouse

 For more pictures of the playhouse, check out this post on Project Nursery.

You may also be interested in: The Big Reveal: Under the Stairs Play Closet

12 Amazing Pregnancy Journals You Will Want To Check Out

There is something about pregnancy that brings my emotions and thoughts to the surface. It makes me want to write. It makes me want to record every detail of this special time. It makes me want to somehow share this experience with our future baby.

It is no secret that I have been keeping a pregnancy journal on the notes app on my phone this time around. I wish I had done so with Brody so I could reference and compare these moments to the ones I experienced as Brody grew.

Whether you are expecting or you are looking for the perfect gift for a momma-to-be, a pregnancy journal is sure to be a treasure. Below are a dozen of my very favorites.

The Best Pregnancy Journals | Pregnancy Journal Ideas | Pregnancy Journal DIY | Momma Society-The Community of Modern Moms

One: Bump For Joy More often than I care to admit, I judge books by their covers. This journal takes it a step further with a beautiful interior as well. Organized by trimester with prompts on many pages, this is the perfect place to record all of those pregnancy moments.

Two: Expecting You If you have found yourself full of emotions and feelings during this special time, this journal is the perfect place to spill your heart. I love that this journal is compact enough to carry around or keep on your nightstand. Plus, it is a great price if you are looking for a little gift to give.

Three: Bump to Baby Handmade in California, this pregnancy journal is a keepsake. The pages walk you through each month of pregnancy with beautiful illustrations and prompts.

Four: Milestone Pregnancy Cards If you are not a huge fan of writing or freeze up when there is a blank sheet of paper in front of you, Milestone Pregnancy Cards are the perfect option for recording your pregnancy. From the first kick to the day your found out you were expecting, keep track of the dates and moments. These would be so fun to reference during future pregnancy and compare how similar or different the pregnancies have been.

Five: It's Your Story, Write It Down If you are looking for a blank canvas, this journal by Sugar Paper LA, is a lovely spot to write freely. No prompts, no fill-in-the-blanks, just a a special notebook for you and everything on your mind.

Six: I Wished For You - An Adoption Journal This journal is designed for families who are going through the adoption process. I love the title of this journal. The interior is filled with prompts and places for mementos. What a gift this would be to any child to read when they are older.

Seven: My Pregnancy Journal with Sophie La Girafe I am usually not a fan of characters or anything kitschy, but hear me out on this one. The giraffe teether, Sophie, has been a classic baby item for decades. It is almost a right of passage into parenthood when you welcome a Sophie into your home. So if you are looking for a beautiful and classic gift for an expectant friend, pairing this journal with a Sophie teether is a timeless option.

Related: Best of Teethers

Eight: When We Became Three This journal caught my attention because it beautifully weaves the story of mom and dad then the journey of mom and dad becoming parents. With pages for both mom and dad to share their thoughts, feeling, and fun details on their pre-baby interests, it has a great layout! It is perfect for first time parents and the simple layout makes it easy to fill out (a must for most husbands!).

Nine: Growing My Rainbow Baby I have met so many incredible rainbow babies and their mommas over the past couple of years. Their stories always move me to tears--both happy and sad. I love that this pregnancy journal provides the space to let thoughts run freely.

Ten: Hoping For You-IVF Journal By the same creator of Growing My Rainbow Baby, this journal provides a safe spot for those struggling with fertility to record their journeys to motherhood. I love that this could be combined with a pregnancy journal or adoption journal later on to share the entire road to motherhood.

Eleven: Advice & Wishes If you are not a fan of the idea of keeping a pregnancy journal, consider recording notes, letters, and wishes to your baby during your pregnancy. You could even pass this journal around to friends and family--having them add their own letters to your baby before he or she is born.

Twelve: 40ish Weeks I love the title of this pregnancy journal--so catchy and accurate. The inside is equally witty. Take a peek at the pages inside and you are sure to giggle and relate.

PS: Have you checked out my favorite baby books? We still use #12 to keep track of Brody & his milestones.

Shop Pregnancy Journals:

How do you keep track of your pregnancies? I'd love to hear in the comments! 

Our Favorite Baby Names & A Cute Video

Do any other mommas feel an immense amount of pressure when it comes to baby names? The pressure to find a name our little one will like when they are older. The pressure to find a name that flows nicely with our last name. The pressure to find a name that my husband and I both love. 

Our Favorite Baby Names 2017  | Baby Names Girl | Baby Names Boy | Baby Names Unique

We've been getting a lot of questions lately on whether or not we had a name picked out. The short answer, no. We are not even close to the point of having our list narrowed down. Granted we do not know the sex of the baby yet, and won't for at least 6 more weeks (6 months if you ask my husband). In the meantime, we've been keeping a fun list of names that have caught our attention. Some have already been immediately vetoed by my husband, some do not flow with our last name whatsoever, and some are possible contenders. We're spilling the beans on a few of them on the video at the end. 

Favorite baby names 2017 | Baby Names Girl | Baby Names Boy | Baby Names Unique

Here are a couple of name-related questions that we've been asked lately.

Are we going to use a family name?

No. We like the idea of our little one having their own unique name. If the name ends up having some family tie, awesome, however it is not something we are weighing heavily. 

Will be be choosing a name that starts with a "B" since Brody's does?

We're not purposely avoiding or trying to find a name that starts with the same letter as Brody. I've noticed that we both like "B" names for boys. For girls, we are all over the place.

Favorite baby names 2017 | Baby Names Girl | Baby Names Boy | Baby Names Unique

What kind of names do we like?

I like names that are unique-- yet not unheard of, pronounceable, and often gender neutral. My husband likes names that are unique, classic, and identifying. See why it's tough for us to pick names? 

If it is a girl, will we use the name we picked out had Brody been a girl?

Not likely. We never officially decided on a girl name. If Brody had been a girl, we would have had to nail down a name in the hospital. Madelyn was a strong contender at the time, but has since fallen off of our list. 

Will we be sharing the name before the baby arrives?

Probably not. I'm predicting it will take us quite a while to choose a name, so we will likely wait until the birth to share. Since we may be finding out the sex this time, waiting to share the name will be a fun surprise for our friends and family.

What are some names on your list? 

I'll let Brody answer that one for you in the video below :) PS: If you click on the video, be sure to subscribe to the Momma Society Youtube Channel!

Have a boy name suggestions? Clearly, we need a few more!

12 Cute Valentine Gifts For Toddlers & Babies

Valentine's Day ranks up there with Christmas as one of my very favorite holidays. I'm that cheesy person who loves celebrating love. Making Valentine's cards was always a highlight of February in elementary school. In high school, a handsome teenager decided to ask me to be his girlfriend on Valentine's Day in a Target parking lot. That handsome 17-year old is still by my side 11 years later. Valentine's Day is a celebration of friendships, of relationships, of love. And let's be honest, our world could use a little more love most days.

With Valentine's Day on the horizon, I've rounded up a dozen of my favorite pieces of festive gear for babies and toddlers below.

Valentine Gift Ideas For Toddlers and Babies | Valentine Toddler, Valentine baby, Valentine crafts, Valentine Cards

One: Heart Swim Trunks | Nordstrom | After a chilly trip out East last weekend, dreams of hanging out by the pool and lounging on the beach have been heavy on my mind. It may be a little early to rock the swimwear, but it's never to early to stock up.

Two: Loved Zippered Sleeper | Target | For those sweet dreamers, this little zippered sleeper is a simple way to stay festive for Valentine's Day.

Three: Heart Onesie | Gap | I'm picky on graphic prints, but this heart onesie is perfection. It looks modern, comfy and gender neutral. Perfect for the littlest of valentines.

Four: Striped Heart Dress | Gap | It is no secret that anything with black and white stripes automatically catches my eye. This dress is one that I am seriously considering buying incase baby #2 is a girl. I love everything about it!

Five: Heart Shaped Rattle | Bannor Toys | A wooden teething rattle in the shape of a heart from my favorite toy shop? Yes, please!

Six: Donut Heart Tee | Etsy | Perhaps I'm a little biased on this one since donuts are one of my favorite treats, but this little graphic tee is the perfect way to celebrate February without being too cheesy.

Seven: Heart Knit Blanket | Pottery Barn Kids | I love the entire Emily & Merrit collection from Pottery Barn Kids and this sweet blanket is no exception.

Eight: Hearts & Arrows Hat | Old Navy | Brody has been into wearing hats lately, so I've been scouring shops for cute ones. The festive print on this cap makes it a winner.

Nine: Valentine's Socks | Old Navy | Let's be real--there is no such thing as too many baby socks. Every time I need a pair, I can never find one.

Ten: Pink Heart Glass Water Bottle | Nordstrom | I'm a big fan of glass water bottles--for an older toddler, this set is too cute. Matching bottle for mom included.

Eleven: All You Need Is Love Tee | Etsy | An ode to The Beatles--this shirt is perfect for the little trendsetter.

Twelve: Heart Diaper Cover & Hat | Pottery Barn Kids | We had a striped version of this diaper cover when Brody was an infant and it was one of my favorite wardrobe items of his. Add a monogram and this is perfect for Valentine's Day (or the beach!).

Shop My Valentine Favorites:

Do you have any Valentine's traditions? I'd love to hear them in the comments! 

The First 10 Weeks: A Pregnancy Journal

I started writing notes on my phone as our first weeks of pregnancy came and went. I wanted to record my feelings, my thoughts, my fears and excitement. Here are the first 10 weeks.

Pregnancy, Pregnant, Pregnancy Fashion, First Trimester, Pregnant Bump, Morning Sickness

Pregnancy Week 4:

I had a feeling I might be pregnant. My husband I decided that this month we would start trying. In full honesty, I wasn't expecting it to happen right away. We had gone through phases in the past few months where we sort of tracked ovulation. Then we went back and forth on whether we were really ready to add to the family. The thoughts of a newborn and those long days and nights would make us pause. We felt like our old selves again. We loved the new stages with Brody. But we also always knew we wanted him to have a sibling. So November came and we both agreed it was time to start getting serious. We didn't think too deeply into it. Didn't calculate when a baby would be due if we conceived. Didn't plan on our casual Mexican food happy hour being my last margarita for a long time. Didn't enjoy one last feast of sushi (this, I regret). And so a week passed and I had some slight bleeding one-week before my period was due. Being a childbirth educator this time around, I immediately became suspicious that it was implantation bleeding. It fit every characteristic. I decided to keep it hush hush because I didn't want either of us getting too excited. I didn't want to assume anything, so I stuck that little tidbit of knowledge far in the back of my head and I went on my jolly way. 

A week passed and Brody and I were in the Target parking lot (surprise, surprise). As we were pulling out, I had the urge to run into the store and buy some pregnancy tests. As soon as we got home and unloaded the car, I took it. I checked it out a few minutes later, and sure enough two faint lines. My first reaction? I freaked out. How were we going to survive the newborn phase again? How would Brody feel? A million thoughts raced through my mind. I sent my best friend and picture of the test with the words "freaking out". We had prayed, hoped and planned for this sweet addition and here I was with cold feet. I calculated the due date, the last week of July. Great, I thought, the exact week of our annual beach vacation. This would have been 20 some years in a row we attended. So much for being a planner. But as time started to pass I started getting excited. Really excited. I started picturing Brody as a big brother. The thought made me smile. 

My husband was due home from work in the next hour. How would I share the news? I saw a fortune cookie sitting on the counter leftover from our takeout order the night before. I fished out the fortune and made my own. "You will be a big brother in July", I wrote. I stuck it in the cookie and told Brody he could have this cookie as soon as dad came home. When my husband walked through the door, the first word out of his Brody's mouth was cookie. I handed him the cookie and told him to give dad the paper inside. My husband, not the least bit suspicious (he reads every fortune cookie), flipped over the paper and started reading it outloud. It took a few seconds to hit, then his eyes became huge realizing what was going on. His genuine excitement filled me with joy. The rollercoaster of emotions, thoughts and feelings that come with pregnancy and a newborn have begun. So here we are, letting the dust settle, the parents of soon-to-be 2 kiddos and boy are we grateful for the blessing. 

Pregnancy Announcement, Pregnancy Photos, Pregnant Fashion, Pregnant Belly | Pregnancy The First 10 Weeks: A Pregnancy Journal

Pregnancy Week 5:

We’re hanging out at a birthday party. I overhear a recent mom of 2 comment on how much harder it is to have two than she ever expected. I look and my husband and we just give each other that look of "uh oh".

Pregnancy Week 6:

Nauseous. Ugh, it comes on in waves and is a double-edged sword. On one hand I have little to no appetite (except for hot fries which I’ve been craving all week) on the other hand, the empty feeling in my stomach almost feels worse. I stepped on the scale today and I saw my pre-Brody number. Two years later I finally lost those last pounds from my pregnancy with Brody. I guess it just took getting pregnant. Things are a bit mixed up.

I had our babysitter come over for an extra afternoon this week. I told her I had a project I needed to finish, but honestly I walked upstairs and locked myself in my room and took a nap. It felt good. She's coming back today and I may do the same. I feel a bit guilty, but I'm chalking it up as self-care and ain't nobody allowed to mess with this mommas self care. That's one thing I learned the hard way my first time around. 

The highlight of the week? Finding out two of my favorite mom friends are expecting #2 as well. We adopted a family for the holidays and went out shopping together one night. Afterwards we headed to dinner and towards the end my friend asked me if we were going to have another. July I replied. And the table erupted in surprise and excited as 3 out of 4 of us shared our pregnancy news. The three of us are all due within a 9 week period. I'm getting excited.

Pregnancy Announcement, Pregnancy Photos, Pregnant Fashion, Pregnant Belly | Pregnancy The First 10 Weeks: A Pregnancy Journal

Pregnancy Week 7

First prenatal appointment. Our insurance has changed since we had Brody, so this time I decided to use a midwife. I hate change. When I find something I like, I stick with it--hence the closet stuffed with striped dresses. But I think I am going to like the midwife. She definitely spent a lot more time with me than typical doctor appointments and it felt really personal and genuine. I do have to admit the mom guilt with babe #2 started today. When the midwife asked if I wanted an early ultrasound, I said yes (I told myself I would pass on this option). Ugh! But on one hand it was so reassuring to see our little embryo's heart beating. One of those moments that leave me in awe of the human body. Trying not to overthink things this time around. I'm vowing to write down all my crazy thoughts, worries and success this time around rather than keeping them bottled up. Writing is my therapy. 

I wake up at 4:30am dry heaving in the toilet. Nothing comes up, although I almost wish it would in hopes of some sort of temporary relief. I hear Brody yelling in his room ready to get up. Praying I can fix his breakfast without making myself sick. Success. I get him situated with breakfast where I can see him from the couch. I lay down with a box of crackers. Even the tiny nibbles I am taking feel like too much, but I know this is the only way to cut the edge off the nausea. I doze off and awaken to two bottles of play dough in my face and Brody chanting "dough". He also has clumps of cereal in his hair. I'm too exhausted to clean it up. How did I fall asleep!? By mid morning I am feeling better. Feeling grateful for the flexibility of my schedule--I don't know how the moms who head to work in the mornings do this. I'm convinced they are superhuman.  

Pregnancy Week 8:

Sleep. Nights consist of tossing and turning for hours. I keep waking up at 2 or 3 am and I can't go back to sleep. I've caught up on every news story in the world by 5am. I can't remember the last time I slept through the night. It's impossible not to compare this pregnancy to Brody's, but it is so different. 

Feeling normal(ish). It's almost concerning. The past few days have been great. Energy, minimal nausea, I'm pleasant--the first time in weeks. Week 8 is known to be the peak of morning sickness for many, am I jinxing it? Perhaps. But for the moment being, I'm counting my lucky stars. Last night I was craving cornbread and I walked into my mom's house and what was sitting on the counter? A fresh pan of cornbread. Husband says I should buy a lottery ticket--I'm thinking he's right.

I jinxed it. Crackers and ginger ale are getting old.

Pregnancy Announcement, Pregnancy Photos, Pregnant Fashion, Pregnant Belly | Pregnancy The First 10 Weeks: A Pregnancy Journal

Pregnancy Week 9

It's the day after Christmas and I woke up feeling oddly energized. There's a pep in my step today. Perhaps it was the whirlwind of Christmas and Christmas Eve and surprising our family with our exciting news. Or perhaps it's the new year on the horizon and my excitement to set goals, freshen up our home, make dreams happen. Regardless, I am excited and motivated today. Bottling up this extra energy and cleaning up our home which hasn't been cleaned nearly a month and a half. I'm fairly certain the dirty dishes have been sitting in the sink since last Wednesday. And our last trip to the grocery store was about 10 days ago. I've got some serious catching up to do, but I'm feeling grateful and excited for what is ahead.

A couch potato. That's what I was today. My husband commented that I was the sexiest potato he's ever seen, not even sure his sweet words could make this mess of a mom any more presentable. I woke up feeling great. Pretty perky and even had a little appetite. By lunch I was craving BBQ so we headed to our favorite butcher (The Pork Shop if you’re in Arizona) and before we even pulled into the tiny parking lot, I was green. Too nauseous to even be able to talk about food. Too nauseous for the bites of cracker I was forcing down my throat. Too nauseous to be anything but a couch potato for the rest of the day. So our mid-week date night sure didn't happen, but we are just going with the flow these days. I’m forever grateful for all of the extra hands in town for the holidays--they have sure been keeping Brody entertained!

Pregnancy Week 10

Date night success! I over did it a bit today, So by the time 4:00 rolled around and my husband asked me what I wanted to do for date night--I replied with pull into a parking lot somewhere and sleep. I wasn't kidding. We loaded Brody in the car and headed to drop him off at his grandma’s house. We ended up at the movie theater for the first time in a few months. We were those people that arrive right as the previews are rapping up. The lovely first row of seats were empty and waiting for us. We cried our way through the movie Lion--if you're a mom (especially a hormonal expectant Momma) it sure pulled at the heartstrings. Puffy eyed we headed to pick up Brody with a stop at Bahama Buck's along the way--snow cones are my cocktail of choice when margaritas are out of the question these days. As our last day of 2016 is just a night's sleep away, I am so grateful for the year we have had.

Feeling good for the third day in a row. I'm one of those weird people who thinks I'm jinxing it when I say things like this out loud, so I'm knocking on wood as I type this. This afternoon is my next midwife appointment. I feel calm about it. Pap smear, blood test, all that fun stuff. I'm just excited to hear the baby's heartbeat. I'm still not to the point where it feels real. Where it feels like we are going to have another baby in our home. That has yet to sink in. With Brody, I immediately started scoping out gear and nursery ideas and cute outfits. This time, I'm just looking around our house thinking what can get I get rid of? How can I make this more organized? What can I clean up? I have been stalking baby moccasins though. Those may be one of my first purchases for baby #2.

Midwife appointment #2. This one gave us a little scare when the Doppler couldn't detect a heartbeat. Usually 10 weeks is the earliest that they can detect heartbeats, but since we are nearly 11 weeks and the heartbeat couldn't be detected, the midwife was a little concerned. So we headed off to the ultrasound room once again. As the midwife prepped the machine, Brody decided to climb and squeeze his entire body into the basket under the stroller. Of course, getting stuck. I couldn't stop giggling as I watched my husband try to fish him out of the basket. The perfect distraction while the midwife worked to check on our little babe. Within minutes our little babe was up on the screen--heart beating perfectly. 4 little limbs. One arm lifted up almost as if giving us a wave. The tiny little babe rolled around full of energy. We left in awe of what just over 10 weeks can do. In awe of the human body. Full of gratitude for a beating heart and this little rambunctious one.

What was the hardest part of your first trimester? I'd love to hear.

PS: There's a giveaway for a Fawn Design Diaper Bag over on the Momma Society Instagram this week!