Parent Trap



Marriage.
It's hard. And forever.

Parenthood.
It's hard. And Forever. And Exhausting.

Marriage + Parenthood.
How are we supposed to do both?

Lately, with the home reno, both of us adjusting to our new roles (me at home with my tiny tyrant and Justin in a new work position) and living in a temporary home it feels like our time together is all business. Budgets and bath time and who has the energy to cook dinner (not me, I'm happy to drink wine for dinner) - it can all be just so tedious.

I miss dressing up to go out, staying up late and then laying in bed all day, traveling just the two of us with tiny little carry on bags and my wedding body (irrelevant, but whatever).

It can be so easy to fall into the role of Mom and Dad and not Husband and Wife - or hell, not even Justin and Stephanie. 

I needed a break from Mom and Dad.
I needed to be just Stephanie and Justin.

Thankfully, a crazy thoughtful friend of ours insisted on keeping the babe on a random week day a few weeks ago. I ran a million errands, got my oil changed (wild!), got a mani and planned to meet Justin at the new house for a budget meeting without the babe crying in my ear the entire time.

Exactly one hour before we were supposed to meet to discuss the price of sub flooring, my husband and I were able to sneak away for just 45 minutes of just us time.

And what did we do?

Acted like mature adults and sprinted over to  Dave and Busters, ordered ridiculously expensive drinks and I dominated my husband in Mario Cart. It was the shortest 45 minutes of my week but I soaked up every second. We needed time to just be. 

Be us. 

And P.S. "us" is a super smart assy couple who treats their dear friend caring for their child to texts like this:




Balancing our roles as parents and spouses, our friendships and hobbies and our family time has proven to be a challenge that leaves me feeling like I'm never quite doing it all just right. But I do know that all it took was 45 minutes for me to remember why I was doing Life with the guy who sucks at Mario Cart (he's going to divorce me for that).

If that's all it takes, 45 minutes here or there, then why are we (and I'm guessing a ton of other first time parents) not prioritizing us more? Why is the focus all about our baby? Or our jobs? Why don't we intentionally create time just to be married? 

I want to blame the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day, but you know what they say, Beyonce has the same 24 hours and all that. If she and Jay-Z can make it happen, so can we.

So tonight I raise my wine glass and say here's to marriage. 
To doing Life with one person, forever, no matter how long that is, no matter how many babes we make and choose to raise instead of releasing into the wild, no matter how many boxes of crap are stacked all around us in our living room. 

Here's to us.

Cheers, love.

Baby's First Easter Basket


Ok, so maybe a 9 month old won't be super into an Easter Basket, but I know a girl who had (maybe a little too much) fun putting it together for him! 

Because he's just a little babe, I thought I should probably temper my gift buying enthusiasm and make sure to stuff his basket with things that he (might) actually need in the coming months. If you're in a jam for what to stuff in your chick's basket, take a peek at my list. 
Bonus: it's almost 100% gender neutral! 

Play
We live on the edge and take our bath tub books on dry land and our stuffed teething toys into the bath tub. What can I say? We're rebels. 

 Nuby Bath Book c/o Nuby USA 
I'm not sure what it is about the texture of this book, but the babe loves to teeth on it, whether he's wet or dry. Obviously, it's a hit in the tub because he can grasp it in his little fingers and wave it around spastically as he's squealing about getting a scrub down. I like it because it's easy to clean - no little holes to collect water and grow mold, a simple wipe down and it's good to go.

 Nuby Fuity Chew c/o Nuby USA 
I feel like this kid has been teething FORever and has not a darn thing to show for it. Poor baby. Poor mama. This little grape flavored chewy thingy seems to help calm the maddness - the bumpy part of the grapes rubs those sore baby gums, tastes yummy (I'm assuming considering how much he chomps on it) and the ring is the perfect size for chubby fingers. 

How stinking cute is this stuffed monkey teether? Obviously, teething is a theme around here. The Flopper is a stuffed animal, teether and baby toy in one. G totes it around, snuggles it and slobbers all over it. That's how we show love around here. Seriously though, the Flopper has multiple teething surfaces and a cute little handle for baby toting. I think we need to add the turtle to our collection so we can distribute the slobber amongst as many toys as possible.

Nosh
Our current go-to's and bribery currency
If I leave the house I must have the Plum Organics teething cookies. Why they have to be so sticky, I will never understand but at least they are individually wrapped in packs of three and perfect to whip out just before a meltdown.


Wear
 This cute polka dot number is hand made with love by my bestie (and is only $8!)

And my husband and I have an open debate over the pattern - I say the little yellow chick is a Peep, he says a duck - either way, I can't resist the cuteness. 

Swim Diaper
We took this exact same brand to the islands with us a few months ago and loved how well they worked and how cute they were on his little bottom. For reference, we did stuff a regular disposable swim diaper between his rear and the fancy Swim Diaper because the last thing we want to be are those parents who are fishing their kids poo out of the pool. Just sayin'.

Bathing Suit
A teeny, tiny bathing suit in baby blue stripes and navy whales? 
Yes, please.

Learn
The classics never age (at least according to my 30 year old husband who is in charge of story time and requested the following reads).

Bundle It Up
I'm obsessed with this monogrammed Easter Bucket from Crystal Faye. Super easy to personalize and very masculine for my little guy, I think it takes the frill out of Easter. Because it's not a traditional basket, it will be easy to store and stow year to year. 

Ok, so spill, what is the Easter Bunny bringing your babe?

Some of the items in this post were provided by Nuby USA for my review. As always, the opinions in this post (and all posts on Newlyweds:North) are mine based on use and personal experience. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Newlyweds:North!


Demolition Derby

Instead of a boring weekend wrap up post (because, let's be honest, we do the same thing every weekend now that we live in the South: outside, naps, brunch, eat a ton, nap again, rinse and repeat) I thought I would give ya'll a little taste of the Reno.

This may be the scariest (and most interesting) stage of the game.

This is what our house currently looks like:


I'll take you on a little guided tour because, quit frankly, if I'm only looking at photos, I get a little lost myself.

This used to be our Master Bedroom, a linen closet and some of the hallway (I think)


Those pallets hold our new hand scraped hardwoods that my Husband is in lust with. 

This used to be a bathroom, two bedrooms and a hallway:


And kudos to our contractor for having the guys on site on a Saturday
(I'm sure thats costing a pretty penny but mama needs to move in, so get on it, boys!)

This was a ceiling.


Those were the original appliances


Something about those flowy drapes still being hung in the windows makes me giggle. During all of this destruction, no one has taken them down. I may keep them as a memento.

Oh and P.S., those new wood beams are actually part of the new design coming to life!
That little room will (hopefully) transform from old appliance storage to the babe's play room!

This used to be a front entry, kitchen, family room, mud room and storage room


That used to be the oddest front entry ever and now it's only slightly less odd...


and this used to be a bathtub.


It's all fun and games until someone throws a bathtub into the dumpsters in your driveway.

Hope ya'll had a great weekend! 

Can't Live Without It

Friday, I love you.

I literally use this product every single day, so it's only fitting that it be honored with it's very own Can't Live Without It Post


If you want to take sharper pics of your babe, love Instagram or are learning to use your DSLR, you must grab this little guy.

I can literally snap a crystal clear shot of the babe slobbering all over his car seat and then upload it to my phone in seconds. No wires, no lap top, no photo card.
Quick and dirty, just how I like it. 


Seriously, I'm a huge fan of Instagram and used to wonder if everyone just had a better camera on their phone than I did. Turns out, they're using their real camera and uploading pics to their phone on the spot. Get on it ladies, your Insta feeds will thank me.

Hope ya'll have a wonderful weekend!

P.S. wanna see a cute set of photos that I snagged the other day?
Take a peek at this cute pregnancy announcement! 

Not That Kind Of Mom


 Before I became a Mom, I was positive that I was never going to be That Mom.

I was never going to be That Mom who didn't have time to shower.

I was never going to be That Mom who gave up dinners out, Girl's Nights and cocktail hours.

I was never going to be That Mom who "let" her kid scream on a plane.

I was never going to be That Mom who gave her baby a french fry or a non-organic vegetable. 

I was never going to be That Mom whose baby fell off the bed the day he learned to crawl or That Mom who overreacted and rushed her baby to the ER for every bump on his head. 

As it turns out, I am That Mom.

I can't remember if I brushed my teeth today but I did put on pants leggings, so I'm considering that a win.

If given the chance, I will happily crawl into bed with my husband and watch re-runs of Big Bang Theory instead of arranging for a sitter, putting on Spanx and going out for dinner and drinks. 
Hey, at least I still crave his company.

While I'm very proud that we haven't stopped traveling that means that I have held the screaming baby who is inconsolable on a plane (and felt the glares of my fellow passengers).

I happily feed my baby pancakes, tortillas or a french fry or two if it means that I can enjoy the meal that someone else is cooking, serving and cleaning up after.

My son rocketed himself head first off of my bed 12 hours after he officially began crawling -all while I was standing just inches from him - and I rushed him to the Children's ER. After the doctor kindly asked us to leave so that he could attend to children who were actually hurt, we realized that the final diagnosis he had written on the hospital paperwork read: "forehead abrasion" thanks to the teensy little scratch on the babe's forehead. 

First time parents, party of two? 
Yep. That's us.

Before I had a baby, I was wrong about the type of Mother I would be. 

More importantly, I was wrong in the way that I looked at those who were actively Mothering around me. I was wrong to shoot a toddler mama doing her best to handle a public tantrum in Target a side eye. I was wrong to look at the newborn mama who had her baby out in the chilly weather with judgement. I was wrong to roll my eyes at a girlfriend who didn't want to meet for drinks because it interfered with bedtime. 

Those poor Mamas were just doing their best to survive and there I was on my That Mom high horse judging their survival strategies.  

Childless Bitch, party of one?
Yep. That was me. 

So, tonight I raise my wine glass to those of us who are eating their slice of That Mom humble pie. This Mothering business is one slobber covered adventure not fit for the faint of heart.
Can I get an Amen?

Linking up with Annie and Natalie for Thoughts for Thursday

The Great Counter Top Search



The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble

*Disclaimer: This post is based on my experience alone. Unfortunately, I cannot provide resources or distributors who sell any of these stones. I am not a retailer and each granite yard carries a different selection of stones - we found our stone locally in rural South Carolina but I have no way to guide you toward any yards that might carry a similar stone. Also, please note that the name "Mont/Monte Blanc has been used on quartzites and marbles around the country. Ours are, without a doubt, level 3 granite, but I do not know how to guarantee your stone yard will use the same names.*

Let's talk counter tops, shall we?
If I'm being honest, I'll admit that I lust after Carrara Marble counter tops but live a Granite lifestyle.
I love the look of Carrara but not as much as I love red wine.
I am notorious for leaving a trail of drips around the kitchen as I cook, letting my coffee slosh out of the lid leaving a venti size ring or splashing soy sauce as I gleefully dunk my tempura roll. 

I just can't with Carrara.

So what's a girl to do?
Apparently, visit every.single. stone yard in the state in the search of a white based granite with grey striations and very little speckling. 

Why those requirements?
The signature look of Carrara marble is a white based stone with very light grey striations. Marble is an incredibly soft, porous stone that is very prone to staining, chipping and developing a yellowing or patina over time. This makes it an ideal bathroom counter top for me (we had a Carrara counter top in our bathroom in our Maine house) but a terrible kitchen work space surface for our lifestyle.

After tons of researching (ie, Pinteresting and Googling), it became clear that finding granite is really an in person job. Each rock produces slabs with their own characteristics, meaning that slabs with the same name can look different from one another. I should also note that while we were searching for granite because we were told that it should be half the price of marble, that is not necessarily the case. Granite is ranked by Levels and the price is based on the Level. We ended up with a Level 3 granite that costs just slightly less than marble. We also considered Quartzite and the price of Quartz and Quartzite can vary greatly as well.

White based granites are super popular right now and can be hard to find. Lucky for you I've rounded up three of the best granites that are the perfect dupes for the look of Carrara Marble.

Himalaya White
Himalaya White is a light grey granite with striations of darker greys. This granite has more speckling than I was hoping for and has a bit busier of a pattern than Carrara Marble. If I'm not mistaken, this granite is a Level 2 making it a bit lower in cost per square foot than the other granites that we considered.

The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble

The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble

The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble

Shadow Storm
 In my (humble) opinion, Shadow Storm was the absolute closet dupe to Cararra Marble in a solid stone. As always, one slab can look completely different than the next, but the overall look of Shadow Storm is a white granite with pearl and light grey striations. 

The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble
The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble

There is almost no speckling in Shadow Storm and what speckling there is an almost glittery white pearl color that is only noticeable when you look very closely. I thought the pearl actually added a really pretty dimension that would have been gorgeous with white cabinets and back splash.
The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble

The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble

 Sadly, all of the slabs of Shadow Storm were spoken for and the stone yards can never know what is coming in and when so we had to continue the search.

I'm glad that we did because we found the perfect granite dupe for Carrara Marble!

And the winner for our kitchen is.....
Monte Blanc!

The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble


The slab above is exactly what the slabs headed to our kitchen will look like.
We hope to use the spaces that have the round markings (as opposed to the long, marble like striations) as areas for the sink cut out to minimize the "granite" look of the stone. 

The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble

Monte Blanc can be much lighter than our slabs - the below slabs and remnants are all Monte Blanc and are certainly much lighter than ours. 

Don't let those crazy vertical marks scare you - they are the fabricator's marks for measurements and cutting. 

The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble

The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble

The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble

In some of the slabs of Monte Blanc there are some light brown striations (look closely at the bottom of the piece in the photo below). Our particular slab has much more grey and almost zero brown but it's worth mentioning that some of the pieces have a brown streak or two. 

The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble

I'm really excited (and relieved) that we've settled on a granite for the reno. Dragging a baby around to stone yards is less than fun but we learned a ton throughout the process. I'm hopeful that we made a great choice and the vision that I've dreamed of comes to life as soon as that gorgeous island is installed. 

 P.S. There's more! 

Wild Cards
Early on, it seemed like we were completely striking out on finding the look we were hoping for in a granite surface so we began to consider some out of the box options.

Champagne Quartzite
 We decided against this stone simply because I was afraid that the gold tone would look very yellow against our all white cabinetry. If we were doing dark wood cabinets, I would have loved the look of this stone for our design.

The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble
The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble

The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble
 As you can see from that handy little sticker, the Champagne Quartzite was on the higher end of the price scale but still durable like granite and not high maintenance like marble. 

Sea Pearl 
 Sea Pearl almost made the cut. 
I fell in love with the deep grey swirls and thought that it would really make a statement in our all white kitchen. The color and details of the stone are hard to describe but it is named perfectly - it's a salty, swirly, ocean-during-a-thunderstorm toned grey that really could have been spectacular. 

The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble

The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble

The Best White Granites That Look Like Marble

Looking back on the photos, I still love Sea Pearl. I hope that slab finds a good home! 

So, what do you think? 
Am I high on demo fumes or did we get somewhat close?

If you'd like to see how our counter tops have held up exactly one year after our renovation, check out this follow up post!






Open Concept Paint Color Scheme


Open Concept Paint Color Scheme


paint colors

So here they are: the main colors that we're tossing on the walls in our new house!
The bedrooms and two full baths will get different colors outside of the grey family (and a post of their own), but the "opens spaces" (the living room, dining room, kitchen, family room, mud/laundry room) will all be the soft silvery shade of Ben Moore grey, Marilyn's Dress. The office play room will be separated from the main space by glass French doors so while it will be it's own room, it will be clearly visible. Keeping that in mind, I went just a shade or two darker on the color swatch from Marilyn's Dress and found Sweet Innocence.

I won't lie, I am probably the most low maintenance Paint Selector (I'm making that a thing) in the history of time.  I really don't hem and haw over shades and colors, I never paint swatch or test and I typically don't even bother with grabbing paint color cards from Lowe's.

My typical mode of selection involves a little Pinterest browsing, some light Googling and then slapping it on the walls.

I think the key to choosing paint colors efficiently and being pleased with the end results lies in knowing what color family you gravitate towards. I don't care for shades of tan or off white. Anything that could be considered cream, ecru, ivory or taupe is a big No for moi.

After learning what you don't like, knowing what tones you find pleasing to the eye is the next step.
We like grays, greens, whites and shades of blues in the blue family - meaning if you were to head to that scary wall of colors in the Lowe's paint department, you would start in the blues and then go to the lightest swatches of gray etc.

In most cases, I prefer a bolder color choice than my husband so I always make myself choose a color one shade lighter than the one I fall in love with. In my experience, paint always dries darker than the color on the swatch (another reason why I like to check Pinterest for images of "real" rooms).

Picking soft neutrals like our new main color for our open convent reno means that I can bring in bold pops of pattern and color with my decor - a wild animal print pillow here, a fun painting there, a rug in a non traditional texture - all of it allows me to add a little personality without overwhelming my husband's senses.
 
To see these colors in action, check out our Renovation Reveals:

Closing Day

Tuesday is the day that this little gem officially becomes ours. 

This process has, so far, been a hurry up and wait game but we absolutely cannot wait to get going on making our vision a reality.

While the lawyers, bankers, drafters and contractors have been slaving away to get us ready for closing, Justin and I have been dragging the babe around to every tile shop, stone yard and seller of toilets in the state of South Carolina.

It should surprise no one that this Type A Mama has the entire design scheme for each room planned, Pinned and ready to roll.

Want a sneak peek?


Our kitchen counter top choice will get a post of it's own but I die for the two tiles in the shot above. They will actually live together in one of the bathrooms.

The majority of the house will be open concept so I decided to keep the colors very soft but bright/light. I have the entire color plan selected and almost all of the colors live on the two Benjamin Moore swatches below.


Wanna know a secret?

I never swatch test paint colors! 

I know that we are drawn to greys and whites in the blue family and start there - I then type the paint color name into Pinterest and try to find as many "real" photos as possible. Sometimes the process leads me to entirely new colors that I fall in love with (hint: the guest room in this house is my wild card and will be Ben Moore's Palest Pistachio). My favorite successes to date are the Living Room and Dining Room in our Maine house. 


Our floors are bought and paid for and were my Husband's number one priority. 
I handled paint colors and he handled hardwoods - at least we care about different style elements (hello, marriage saver).  


Along with the floors, the appliances are also on order and I snagged two rugs thanks to yet another 75% off Rugs USA sale (seriously, I saved two grand. I will never pay full price for a rug, ever). 

I promise I'll do inspiration boards for each room and share the paint colors and sources for each room as we make progress. 

Demo starts on Wednesday! 

P.S. all of the reno posts (and all of the posts about our past two houses) can be found under the Dwell tab in the Nav Bar if you want to catch up! 





Can't Live Without It

Heads up, Mamas!
I'm obsessed with our new play mat - in fact, you might say that I can't live without it.


No daycare numbers and primary colors here, baby.

The mat pattern and color is a grey faux-wood and the surface is perfect for wiping spit up and sticky teething cookies. 


We're building a designated play room into our new house and I can't wait to cover the entire floor in this play mat to protect our new wood floors but keep things reasonably stylish. 

I say reasonably, because let's be honest, that room will be a free for all.

The things I do for this kid.

Have an amazing weekend!


The Uggliest House on the Block

So, I've been keeping a bit of a secret.

| earrings |

We're taking a risk.
One that we said we'd never take.

See this house?
The uggliest one on the block?


Yeah, we bought it.

As of next Tuesday, we officially own a very ugly, very dated, very Brady house on an amazing street.

Need a drink?


Fancy some custom wallpaper?


How 'bout a bright and airy kitchen?


Not so much, huh?

At this point, I don't know much, but here's what I do know:

we are nuts but not scared.
we've been told one million times that this will be hard on our marriage, which I find very bold. I don't tell people who just announced that they're pregnant that it will be hard on their marriage, why drop that bomb on me over a little dry wall?
 
we're going to be very broke.
not really, but basically. A renovation is no joke financially and each decision weighs on us. It is what it is, but we have to make sure that we're making the right choices every step of the way.

we love the street and the yard is amazing for our boy.
the area is our dream neighborhood, the elementary school got the stamp of approval from our dear friend who happens to be a kindergarten teacher in another district and I have grand visions of the babe and the dog running around the back yard one day.

yes, we will gut the entire house to the studs and start from scratch.
it needs it.

and no, we don't know how long we'll live in Greenville.
it could be a two years (we were in Maine for 19 months) it could be five years, it could be 6 months. We never know, but we always buy our houses and make them our home for however long we live in them. If you're counting, this is house number three in 2 years. 

and oh yeah, I'll be blogging the entire process.
lucky ya'll!