Our Family Unit
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  • November25th

    dollhouse big-1

    As promised in the BEFORE Post, this is the reveal of Jessie’s newly renovated collapsible dollhouse!  After many hours of sanding, cutting, glueing, wall papering, painting, sewing, mod podging (and more mod podging)…it’s finished!


    When she woke up that morning, we had it on the coffee table for her to come and discover.  Watching her excitement was so much fun…I’d do anything for that dimpled smile!


    She immediately identified everyone and dove into a make-believe story.


    Nothing like breathing life into a 30 year old toy…so worth it!


    And now for the Grand Tour…


    The front yard and entryway, complete with lawn and welcome mat.


    You enter into a black, red and white living room…I love so many things about this room.  The fun art, the text on the wall, the leather couch and the shiny black floor…all the things I could never swing in my own house, but are perfect for the dollhouse.


    I added our own family portrait and a frame wall similar to the one in our real house to the dining room.  Kyle did a great job with the table and chairs.


    The final room on the 1st floor is the kitchen.  Initially, I started to do this room super trendy and sophisticated.  Then I remembered it was for a 3yo, who doesn’t care about Houzz trends, and so settled on bright and fun instead.


    Upstairs is the bedroom for the kids.  They share, just like in real life.  I wanted it to be playful and bright, and not totally girly.


    The “master” is across from the kids’ room and houses the 2nd fireplace.  Woody wanted to know why I put a fireplace in that room if our bedroom didn’t have one…I told Kyle in a not-so-subtle way that maybe for the sake of the dollhouse realism, we should get one.  :)


    I had so much fun picking out the Rubber Ducky art for the bathroom!

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    And, of course, we needed a Playroom/Schoolroom.  Happy Birthday, Jessie.  I know you’re enjoying it, and I hope that when you’re grown, you have as many fond memories with the dollhouse as I do.

  • November22nd

    dollhouse big-2

    When I was somewhere around 4 or 5, my great-grandfather gave me a dollhouse.  I have so many fond memories of this dollhouse…literally hours and hours of play.  I remember decorating it with my mom, the furniture she’d made from Kleenex boxes upholstered to match our own family’s furniture, the various dollhouse accessories and, most of all, having my Barbies live here (despite the fact that they had to crawl through the 6″ doorways).

    With Jessie’s third birthday approaching, Kyle and I started talking gifts and dollhouses, of course, came up.  I loved the idea, it would be *perfect*!  I remembered how much fun I’d had with mine…I knew she would enjoy one, too.  But what I didn’t love were the price tags!  On the cheap end, a wooden dollhouse is pushing $200 (not including furniture and dolls!)  And then, once we got it, what the heck was I supposed to do with another giant toy in the house??  The more I thought about it, the more the sad reality sunk in…a new wooden dollhouse was completely implausible, illogical, and irresponsible.

    After a few days of moping around the house like a three year old (I don’t know where she gets it!), it came to me…what if my old dollhouse was still around??  I called my mom and thankfully, my parents had had the forethought and patience (and storage room) to hang onto it for the last three decades.  It was time for the renovations to begin…


    Now, the most brilliant thing about this dollhouse design is that it’s totally collapsible!  It’s approximately a 24″ cube when assembled, but flattens out to a 24″ x 24″ x 2″ square that can be slid under any bed or pushed to the back of any closet when my little Diva changes interests.

    When my dad shipped it to me, I was actually giddy with excitement.  It was all I could do to wait until Jessie had gone to bed before putting it together.  Here it is, in all it’s mid-80′s glamour!  After giving Kyle the grand tour forcing him to relive all my childhood memories, we started talking about how to renovate it to make it personal to Jessie.


    To say I *flung* myself into decorator mode, would be a bit of an understatement.  I pulled out mountains of scrapbook paper and fabric scraps and started a new “Dollhouse” board on Pinterest.  I even had a notebook with sketches…I know, I’m insane.  BUT I WAS GETTING TO RELIVE ONE OF MY GREATEST CHILDHOOD MEMORIES, who wouldn’t be excited??

    dollhouse designing

    I eventually settled on a 1/12 scale which means every inch in the dollhouse is equivalent to a foot in real life.  My hope is that going with one of the most common scales for “play” dollhouses will make decorating and finding accessories easier in the future.  After deciding scale, Kyle straightened up the edges and raised the height of the doorways to 7″.  Then I went to work with sanding, paint and Mod Podge.

    BEFORE and AFTER of the two floors and roof.

    dollhouse floors

    Walls BEFORE:

    dollhouse walls before

    Walls AFTER:

    dollhouse walls after

    I used only the scrapbook paper and fabric that I had on hand.  For all the 2D furniture, art and landscaping; I Googled images and then scaled them to the appropriate size in Photoshop.  After that, it was just a matter of printing the images and cutting them out.  Admittedly, the Mod Podge took a few attempts to get right.  The first wall had A LOT of bubbling and I ended up having to redo it.  The trick was doing 3 to 4 very thin coats, allowing for plenty of drying time in between.

    I requisitioned Kyle’s nights for making most of the furniture.  Didn’t he do an incredibly awesome job??  We used the tutorial from Blue Dinosaurs as a starting point and then scaled things up or down to fit our purposes.  I opted for the kitchen appliances to be blocks of wood, as opposed to having doors that open and close, in hopes that we’d be re-gluing things less often.  Then I just freehanded the paint and sewed a few cushions.


    The bathroom accessories were a gift from Marmie & Grandpa Dan.  Neither Kyle nor I wanted to tackle them but we couldn’t do without as ‘going potty’ is such a big deal to a three year old.  :)


    There were only two *actual* purchases for this project…the baby accessories that I just happened to find new at a local second-hand swap for kid stuff…


    and the dolls themselves.  I am SO pleased with these Once Upon a Tree House dolls.  For one, they don’t look entirely creepy…which I was beginning to think was a prerequisite for dollhouse families.  Secondly, I was able to pick and choose my family members…meaning that if I have more than 2 kids and no grandparent living with us or if mom and dad don’t look identical, I can still make it fit our family.  Lastly, they are completely moldable/moveable which makes the creative play go so much further!



    I can’t wait to show you how it turned out and the big reveal to Jessie on her birthday!  Stay tuned next week for the final unveiling.  ;)


  • August2nd

    Lus 35th bday-6

    This July has been a  month of family, which has been such awesome!  Especially since it’s so rare to get family all the way out to Cali.  The month started with Grandma Carol and Mike visiting for the 4th and celebrating Woody’s birthday, then Mom came out when Kyle traveled to Canada, then ALL of my family came out for a week up in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and finally my sister and her new hubby came to stay!

    Lus 35th bday-1

    It was great getting to know Ric better.  Technically, I’d only met him twice before (once when he proposed to her at Christmas, and then again at the wedding) so it was nice to finally get some time to just hang out and go beyond the surface.

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    Of course, it was amazing to hang out with my sister.  She and I are pretty opposite in most things and eleven years apart, but we still are very close.  There’s just nothing quite like a sister, ya know?  She’s just great…we made some totally cute headbands for her, me and Jessie (see her photo above) and she and Ric babysat the kids one day so Kyle and I could go perfume shopping and plus, she’s just great company!  Not only that, she went ALL OUT to celebrate my birthday!

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    Lucky for me, she’s a chef.  So I got the royal treatment with food, but she also did a whole fiesta theme with decorations, a scavenger hunt and gave me a pedicure/coffee/shopping trip while she babysat AGAIN!

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     Ric not only put up with it all, he willingly jumped in to make it a great day!  And it was – totally relaxing and absolutely fun!

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     Thanks Sis – for a fabulous 35th birthday but also for being such an incredible friend.  I love you and I miss you already!

    Lus 35th bday-9

  • July16th

    woodys 5th bday-6

    My oldest baby just turned FIVE!  I truly cannot believe that.  In my mind that somehow means we’ve graduated from having ‘children’ to having ‘kids’.  Children are innocent and young and have rookie parents, but kids are smart and surprising and have parents that are supposed to know what they’re doing by now.  Oops!  I think I’m a bit behind.

    On his actual birthday, we were helping some friends move and so rather than do the cake & presents that day, we went out for a special breakfast and opened just one special gift.


    An original Nintendo that we picked up off of Ebay and a few games that Kyle and I had saved since childhood (after a bit of blowing on them, they worked just fine).  ;)

    kades 5th bday-2

    That afternoon, he and dad had some serious bonding time!

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    kades 5th bday-5

    The next week, when Grandma Carol and Mike came to visit we did the rest of the celebration.  Pizza is still Woody’s favorite, but Mexican food is the “stuff he eats more and more of” (meaning he always asks for seconds and thirds).  So we had make-your-own-loaded-nachos for dinner.

    The day after his John Deer birthday last summer, he requested a Monster Truck cake for his fifth birthday.  About a month ago he told me, “Mom, don’t forget!  I want a Monster Truck cake that tastes like chocolate when I turn five!”  So that’s what we did.

    kades 5th bday-8

    He is such a great kid!  So full of life and personality and silliness.  He so freakin’ smart it scares us sometimes.  He’s an amazing big brother to both Jessie and Buzz.  We are just blessed beyond belief to have him be our son.  I just wish he had more expressive facial features…

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