spring fling.

The sun has been out in full force and with it I’ve felt the settling into this home. Hanging some photos, getting some personality into the nooks and crannies, hosting friends and so many kids for all day playdates, and getting down to business on back yard planning. But in all of it I can get so swirled up in ideaplanmoneytodorepeat that I don’t get anything done and instead end up pinning for days and stream of conscious planning with Charlie but never pulling the trigger on even the small projects. So, I need a few goals. A couple of bullet points to get going for the upcoming spring; Happy Spring Year? Happy New Weather? Happy Midmarch? I’m not sure. Whatever it is, I’ve got the fresh bug and want to get while the gettings good!

First Off! FOOD. We’ve been packing in the fancy pizza, amazing mead, endless pudding and pie, and… obviously… pounds. So some smoothies, clean eating, and fresh foods are first on the list. And, WATER.

1977237_10100813944166420_485947768_n{Charlie got me a Ninja as a housewarming gift, not the biggest fancy set but the sweet $100 one from Target. It still felt like a big pill to swallow $$$ but OH MY  has she been earning her keep. I’m going to post some of my favorite things I’ve been making in there. But let me just say; If you aren’t making pancake batter in a blender, you’re doing it wrong.}

Two: Get in the sun, every chance I get!

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I am a rain lover, a cozy upper, and a hot drink connosouir. But lately? I’m a sun cat. I want to be in it, around it, soaking it in, and keeping all those rays in my pocket for the harder days. Our new back yard is super different (wrap around, say whaaa?) and has some work to be done. We need to fence a portion of it, make the whole space a little more entertain friendly and get some playspaces set up. And the planning phases are SO fun. But the execution is going to need to really get started! Brings me to my next one…

Three: Put my  hands in the dirt at every chance. Need to till up the garden beds, get my seeds going ASAP, and make all my big long seed lists!

Four: Run. I’ve been sorely neglecting the gym and the pavement and my body/heart/mind are all suffering. I feel lost about trying to shore up the motivation (again again again) but I know how worth it the fight is. Here’s to starting anew tomorrow. If I put it here, it’ll happen, right?

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Do you have any new goals? How are you carrying them out? Forehead tattoos? I’m thinking thats my next step.

We’re Home. And leaving home too.

We’ve moved out of dreaming, scheming, buying, paperwork signing, and planning. We’ve moved out of the home that witnessed us grow up and into a family of four. We’ve moved out. We’ve moved in. And now that we’re home, the realness of empty walls and new spots that don’t quite fit the old stuff is weighing heavy. The big home that will hold the bulk of memories is here, but we’re sitting on the side of the scale where memories are light and small and the bulk is still to come, but can only happen with time. We’re in that spot of  finding your back roads and ways home, how to best find the freeway, and what grocery store is the closest walk. The “what room are you in? I can’t find you!” and “where are the mugs again?” . And the blinking and wondering… ” Is this all really … ours?” When do we call the landlord?

We are in our little dream home. And it’s everything and more. Each little nook we keep finding and falling hard for.

but still . . . 

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Our little town got an uncharacteristic ten inches of snow the days before we moved. But we did it anyhow. Through drifts up to my knees we hauled boxes down the ramp and into our home.

But maybe more importantly, in drifts up to my knees, we moved out of our old home.

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About seven months ago we out grew this house. The girls wanted doors to close, space to run inside, space for art and painting and learning to cook. The walls felt low and heavy, the arrangements felt stale no matter what we did, and our ache to make a space our own in every way started to burn big. The desire for renovations. Responsibility. Walls to come down, in hearts and structures, got huge.

After we found out about the Little Lettered Dream Home, I mentally moved out. I was unpacking my couch in the new roomy home, I was hanging fresh art on walls, painting bright white and deep blues. Only I wasn’t. I was living the day to day in a home I had hit bursting point with. I was so frustrated with it’s lack of function. With the muddy yard, the galley kitchen, the too small garage. I was out of love with the very things that drew me to the home three years ago. We were bumping our heads on the ceiling, our bodies into each other at every turn, and my want for some expanse and privacy was growing big.

Everyone knew where we lived. It made for a magic porch, but it also brought with it some fears and a little too much exposure. I had been craving a little anonymity. A bit of privacy. Less fishbowl, with still so much light. I wanted the Little Lettered Dream Home that I had fallen so hard for.

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When we picked up the keys from the seller. I got in the car and tears just streamed and streamed and streamed. It was real. Hard and poky in my hand I held our future. I had moved out of the renters unknown. And into the “my kids will grow up here. my next baby will be born here.”

I moved into the office for writing. The extra deep bathtub to reset. The renovation dreaming and planning. The big shop for Charlie to make all his own.

So in a whirlwind of help, extra arms, love, and speedy movement… we painted everything, did a few repairs, made a lot of ‘homeowner’ purchases, and packed up our whole lives. And moved.

In the hubbub of making a new home, going to Ikea, unpacking and building everything. . . I almost forgot our old little red home.

Till we got a message from our old landlord “I trust you guys, you can hand the keys over to the new tenants (our friends, by the way), as soon as you’ve cleaned it out.” 

…and it hit like a ton of bricks. Or harder.

The first Home we had. The one that I drove up to started sobbing the moment I saw those giant flowers in bloom and a little space to call ours. The space that rescued us from a very bad neighborhood, from homelessness and confusion after we had jumped in faith and given notice with nowhere to go. The place the held our first garden. The space that grew more strawberries than we could eat. The space that hosted endless backyard playdates, the birth of so many friendships, and probably hardest to close the door on of all. The birth of my second baby. The redemption of birth and the expansion of my heart in the most profound way I have ever experienced. And we were locking the door behind us.

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As hard and weighty as it felt to close the door behind me and leave the memories to age in my head and rattle around inside the house that is our home no more, I am so excited to close that book and start this new one.

The one with growing girls, and gangly legs, with big talks and bigger decisions. The door to school, and babies, and reading, and new growth is open wide. And we are here to breath it in. This home empty of our memories but full of 102 years of other peoples heart is big.

And pretty beautiful too.

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Love, love here we are.

{Pablo Neruda.}

around the table.

Before Nolie, we had a table, I don’t remember it. Meals were rarely shared there in the evening, bottles of wine and champagne and sticky cups sat there overnight after innumerable parties, it held a fish bowl and homework, graduation requirement paperwork, marriage license, a computer, life at that time. Piles and piles of  job applications, old journals, and left behind dishes. It was mainly a holding space. A place to stick the important things to be left alone. We ate there, left for hours upon hours for work and school and parties and…and…and.. all of the things I can’t even remember.

After Nolie was born, around the table is where life is lived.

Breakfast and the french press Charlie makes me each morning, my odd assortment of plants that cycle in and out as they die at the hands of tiny gardeners, art projects and play dough rolling, painting and glueing, letter learning and name writing, puff ball arranging and portrait drawing. Long conversations in the dark with hands held tight and tears dropping quick as I doubt my next day moves, whispered fights and frustrated pounds, dinners. So many dinners. Every night we sit around our table and share a meal. And the meals have evolved. Meals filled with meat from animals we knew, garden fresh veggies with picked-washed-cooked, breads I watched rise and employed little fists to beat down, meals that carry weight beyond nourish.

First foods, first spoons, first tastes of chocolate-icecream-bubble water- first…everything. Meals that have stories about ants that turned into bumble bees who changed size and grew bigger but were kind and gave to me and. . . her stories. Her friend “who was mean. and then nice. and learned. and I forgave him but didn’t say it, but I really like my friend.”. A little one, her place at the table, with first words; “more apple, Ever?” Yes! “more water, Ever?” Mama, yes! Their meals shared there. Spoon feeding each other. Dropping strawberries, they picked from our back yard, into mouths and laughing over jokes I don’t hear, understand, know. Their tiny hands holding tight as Ever climbs down “with my help, eviebaby, don’t fall.” and I watch and can’t believe my luck. My blessings.

I haven’t been able to land on the perfect table. The balance between old and new. Between wipeable and wood. Between cheap and beautiful. I have tried to revamp; maybe a barn table? maybe enamel? maybe white? maybe round? maybe my grandma’s old table… maybe I’m not ready for that to be colored on.

But this weekend, we found it. And it’s perfect. And has held conversation, and homemade granola, and my first egg meal (I know, I’m the weirdest adult out there), and lots of little kids, and hard conversations, and dance parties on top of it with tiny feet stamping to the beat.

This table is a good fit. And, there is room at it for one more. Maybe not soon. But, maybe not never. 1170665_10100610848791180_1132717124_n

 

Small House Dwelling- tips on space saving and decorating

The four of us bump up against each other, overlap, and rub elbows in 706square feet. We have lived in this house for a couple years now and the tininess of our home is hardly noticeable from june to october, we basically live outside! But in those cooler months the walls close in a bit and space is a commodity in the biggest way. A few tricks I have found to loving our tiny home is that everything needs to function, no junk can be accumulated, and a twenty minute clean up can go a LONG way to loving your space.

1005427_10100564646091760_1513995336_nWe live in Every.Single.Inch of this home so most rooms have multiple uses. For example, our dining room is where we eat/do art/watch TV/read books/hangout while dinner gets made. So having that blue cart works for a lot of reasons. It holds extra art supplies during the day and serves as a drying rack for paint projects, it also often holds our desktop computer (that doubles as our TV) and Nolie can cuddle up in that chair and watch a show while Ever naps and I clean up the kitchen (just through that entry to the left), having the computer on that cart means that I can also move it over to the couch area so that we can all get cozy to watch a movie together, or for late night (all night) nursing sessions with a teething sad babe. And, during parties or play-dates I use that cart as a space for extra napkins/plates/cups/silverware and can even roll it right outside!

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Our living room is the errrrything space. I host a lot of play-dates and if we are inside, that is the room that gets the action. Witch is surprising because we don’t have many toys. Another huge lesson in Small House Dwelling is Edit, Edit, Edit. We have one basket of toys in the living room, total. That way clean up is super quick, toys are picked pretty thoughtfully, and otherwise we just stock up on books! (So.Many.Books.)

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We keep the tee-pee folded up with a big pile of blankets and near some books so that we can open it up and use it as a cozy space for the girls to play/peek/have some alone time if they like. But otherwise it stays stowed away. There are spaces for books to get put away, lots of mirrors to open up and brighten our space, and lots of pictures and family art work up and around. I think a huge way to decorate quickly,  personally, and beautifully is to fill your walls with photos! My kids are the best work I have ever been a part of, so of course I would want to put their photos up all over!

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Another great thing about tiny home living is that you can store and swap out furniture and rugs often. I have a major rug problem and always.want.more. (in fact, I have my eye on two new ones from Ikea that I am saving up for!). In the cold months we put down a big cozy high pile chocolate brown rug, but I like these easy to care for bright fun ones for Summertime.

Another room in our house that serves triple duty is our bedroom. Not only is is our space for sleep, but it’s also our nursery/changing room, and “office”.

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But, here’s the sweet treat! Babies don’t need a nursery (just boobs in a bed) or a changing table (just a soft place to lay) so all that is covered with one homemade pallet bed. That way it isn’t so tall and Ever can easily climb (safely) on and off when she’s done napping.

1000722_10100564660248390_1671652490_nCharlie built me this sweet little desk a few weeks back and whenever I can get a break I set up the computer here and blog from this tiny little office space. It easily holds a little lamp for night time, our computer, and camera for uploads (though, photographing a small house with a 50MM is impossible, so it’s all iphone all the way with this post). It is a nice space saver since it’s trim and wall mounted, and works as a “school” spot for Nolie during the day when she wants to be up and away from Evie and do “my letter writing work.”

Our tiny home fits our needs just right (for now) and I love figuring out the in’s and out’s of arranging and decorating it. I am always changing the art, furniture, and color’s. I ‘ll never be done! And, on that note, did you notice I already changed the bench to have no yellow? Yeah, it moves that fast.

Anyone else a Tiny Home Dweller? Do you want to be? Choose it? Or just where you ended up… I want to hear all about it!

forward trajectory.

Just as I get started writing each evening the baby wakes up. and then wakes again. and another time too.

As soon as I sit down for a sip of hot coffee there is a puddle of spilled milk to attend to.

Once the floor is swept the baby pushes the cheerios off the tray and the toddler reaches for the flour off the counter… and… smash.

Just as I think we are all ready to go; Diapers- check, fed- check, ergo- check, change of undies- check. It hits her, This is the WRONG jacket, Mama! and… back to the drawing board we go. This time thirty minutes late instead of fifteen.

It is in each of those moments that I have to make a choice: be overwhelmed or be moving forward (however slowly I move).

If you were to drop by my home you would likely find it cluttered. Toys and crumbs littering the ground, laundry unfolded on the couch, piles of outgrown clothes thrown at the end of the bed, and glitter- so much glitter. But you would also find this: spot on girls. Little ladies who are wide eyed at all things Christmas.  A toddler mystified by my abilities to “cut a snowflake from a nothing” and who turns nearly everything she can into sprinkles (candy canes, pinto beans, rice, sand, etc.) for decorating. A baby who grins at her sister, wrestles/crawls and rumpuses with the best of them. A toddler who is stretching my patience and forcing my growth in all the ways I need it most. And a baby who is changing everything I thought I knew about babies.

Sometimes if you were to drop in you would see me choose overwhelmed. Calling Charlie for reassurance, praying out loud for patience and breath, crying hard and answering Nolie’s questions about “how’s mama feeling?”. But, more often now than before, you might see me choose forward. Choose to say yes to nearly everything I can, no matter the mess or time. Choosing to slow down and give up and in- to abandon the cleaning in favor of playing, to forgo the phone call in favor of crafting, to lavish attention and touch on a toddler who thrives when given the time.

We have hit this season hard. Being three years old is intense. Gently, lovingly, mothering a three year old is almost as intense. But instead of starting each day believing I will be overwhelmed, I am picking one fun activity and calling it good if we get through the day and are still laughing and loving. The house can go, the crafts be half done, the cookies filled with an egg-shell or two, but if at the end we are still loving; I am calling it a win.

A couple of days ago things were rough. Nolie and I were seeming to work in opposition. The more I said no, the more she pushed; And the more she pushed, the more I wanted to say no. Everything felt like it was so big and unending (I imagine we were both feeling quite the same way)… I was holding onto the end of my very frayed rope and I yelled “I am just so frustrated!”  (I don’t yell often and it yielded an immediate halt in Nolie). She looked up and said, “you probably need to talk to God, Mama.” and she was so very right. And after that I needed to apologize to her, again and again each day it seems.

After my blood began to cool and we fell back into activities I sat at the table with a big mug of tea. I am far from perfect, and I have big emotions that Nolie is very privy to, but I am doing this well. Her reaction to my freakout wasn’t fear, wasn’t anger, wasn’t to run away… it was to call out for help. Even if I am failing on the house front, the organizational front, and the getting dressed every day front, I am doing something right. And thank God for my tiny little sponge for being a reflection of that good even in the toughest moments.

 

(tiny)home tour- dining room.

Our home is a whopping 700 square feet. And we couldn’t love it more. Built in 1928 with lots of original touches, it is just the right cozy character home for us. We rent and have the most lovely, gracious and generous landlords. We have hit jackpot.

I have never done a home tour, for lots of reasons. . . one being that everything is pretty much thrifted, family hand me downs or homemade so it wouldn’t be easy to link to purchases. But, the main reason is that sometimes it feels like, with all the BIG and shiny home tours on ‘big’ blogs, I get kinda bogged down in thinking my home would be scoffed at for its size, price point (of our stuff) and lack of mainstream decoration influence. But, I love my home.

I want a space that invites anyone to come in and cozy up with a cup of something steaming and play or read. And I feel like we have that, coziness and homey love abounds here. So I think I will slowly share some of our spaces, itty bitty as they may be.

Here is our dining room- this is where life is lived. The in-between of our kitchen and living room. Nolie plays here, Charlie reads and bounces Ever here, I write here. This is our hub.

Our table is a garage sale find. Our chairs are a hodge pods of hand-me-downs and a kid chair from Ikea for Nolie. To the left is an end table turned play kitchen that is still in the works. The darling prints above our table are made by our awesome friend, his shop is here (check it!), and the plates with A and C are from Anthropologie (years ago).

The board with tin cans (class-say) are made by Charlie as a space for Nolie to organize her art supplies since she often has her easel in here to do projects. And the shelves were made by Charlie too. The roman shades were a DIY that Charlie and I tackled when I was pregnant since we knew I would labor at home and would likely want some privacy in our little fish bowl (ended up not really even leaving my room, oops!).

The rest of the artwork is made by Nolie. We love our tiny cozy home!

$20 redemption.

Falling onto the floor in utter heartbreak over her socks being “wonky”. Whining, screaming, screeching, flailing. It all sounds so benign and almost cute when I write it out. But the reality is rocking my world. She sobs “I can’t stop! I can’t help it!” and I believe her. The emotions she is feeling are just So Big. The upheaval in her life is huge and the reality that this is the new normal is hitting us all like a ton of bricks.  Being the Mom is really hard but I do, wholeheartedly, believe that being the toddler is harder (much harder).

But this morning I failed. I said things I really wanted to never say, “I can’t do this anymore, I need to do something… change something… something BIG.” I cried those words to Charlie over the phone and he fell silent and listened. “What can you do? What do you mean?” and I had no answer.

We stumbled into the car, overfull with carseats, clothes, books, old hot chocolates and endless crumbs. We made our way to the Mom Group at my church and I rested. In prayer, in easy light conversation, in someone I know and trust watching Nolie and feeding her homemade cookies, in time.

We shared lunch with Charlie (he works at the Church) and then packed up to face the home front again. I tossed my diaper bag into the car and a $20 bill came out. This is shocking. There is no extra money, there are no hidden stashes, this was a gift. Some loving Mama stealthily put this into my bag. I pulled away and the weight of that $20 hit me- redemption.

Ever fell asleep five minutes into the drive and I turned off the music and talked with my oldest. She told me a story, she asked me about “seasons change. You know about chestnuts mama? you know leaves change colors? you know I nursed and bottled a baby today?”

We pulled up to the drive through window of a coffee shop; Double (decaf, stupid UTI) americano, kids cocoa and a muffin. We split the muffin and drove on. Ever snored and we drove further and further out.  Past cows and horses, silos and barns and finally to my big open field. The same one I drove to during the fall apart while I was night weaning (this one).

The road was empty, I parked the car and sat there. Remembering how much I love Nolie. Her running commentary on cows (they have spots and some are black but their milk is just white anytime, how funny!) and how she has taken to her new roll of sister with incredible love and grace.

In that deep breath,  in her story, in the empty field and huge clouds; I realized that ‘big change’ I was needing. I need to find ways to refill WITH Nolie. I have bought the lie that I need to be getting X amount of alone time in order to be a “good mom” but the truth is that I need to spend time appreciating my girls. Not just maintaining a house, keeping them slept/fed, occupying them, etc. I need to know them, appreciate them and be willing to cast the rest of that aside in oder to know them and understand them. I will find time to be alone, I will have ample time to pursue all my passions one day. Today is a day for forgiving quickly, asking for forgivness from Nolie (and Charlie too probably!), talking to her, holding her, nursing her and really hearing her.

So whatever Mama left us that gift… a gift that furnished the ability to buy a drive through drink and a chance at knowing my girl again, thank you. You gave a huge gift to our whole family.

Thankful.

This has been a really rough season and a particularly hard week. Each day it looks a little darker. But once I retreat into that hole-of-dark I stop looking for the light. And there is a lot of light.

Today Nolie (wholly unprompted) apologized to her friend, he apologized to her and they hugged and played so well and with so much love. And it felt like All The Work that seems too unending and unrewarding… it was worth that moment. All the talking it thorough, letting her direct herself, explaining how I feel and giving her the responsibility and the time to come to her own feelings without prompting, it felt so worth that moment. That was light.

Ever holding hands with her baby friend. That was light.

Food on my front porch more times than I can count from friends who know, get it, and have been there. That was light.

Charlie holding me, answering his phone always, taking time off for sick kids, hearing me- really hearing me. That is light.

A God who lets stuff get hard but never forgets, never turns away and is here and in this moment and all the dark ones too. He is light.

 

a “me time” challenge.

After reading Flux I had so many thoughts, so much bumping around in me and the need for one of those conversations.

The conversations that last so long and take ages to get to the point. The ones that the light fades and emphatic whispers bump up against babies fussing. Then hushed tones are exchanged across the distance of a bed separated by a warm little baby nursing and as the words fall out and the minutes rush by it is impossible not to count away the moments of sleep that you are missing. But it still feels worth it. Very worth it.

In Flux the author talks about the satisfaction level in marriages going down with each child, and that in specific , satisfaction with intimacy in marriage drops dramatically until those kids are grown and out of the house. Later in the novel the writer tells of women who have had affairs and that each of them references “feeling like herself” and “finding herself again” as a reason for the infidelities. She also draws the conclusion that the more you know yourself the more intimacy in marriage and satisfaction you will find.

In all of this intimacy seems to be a code word for sex, and while I believe  this rings painfully true I also think that it is in reference to all intimacy. Those hard conversations that go late into the night, dates that end in feeling more known and loved and time spent together that isn’t used purely for strategy; of how to get through the day (and night) with kids.

Motherhood and the need for “me time” seem to go hand in hand now. In every circle of Mom friends I am a part of that is a buzz phrase- me time. Are you getting it? How much? When? Is it equal with your spouse? and on, and on, and on. And I get it. I need it. We all need it. Badly.

But where I find it and carve it out needs to change.  I have spent the past few months feeling like I need MORE and more of it. I need it under specific parameters- there are no kids, I am somewhat rested, I can indulge in something that I typically couldn’t and I won’t be disturbed. Those desires are laughable and nearly unattainable in our current stage of life, but yet they are affirmed by endless Moms. Because we all want it, can’t get it and then feel more unknown that we did before. Unknown by our spouses and unknown to ourselves.

I have decided to challenge myself to shift  my focus. To not trivialize the time I do get because they “aren’t long enough” or weren’t out of the house. I am making a goal to find me time in dishes, Facebook, laundry and those few minutes in the shower in the evenings. To find couple time in the hour that both girls are asleep at night without us- to not check out, not turn on a computer and actually talk and look at each other. To now and be known for not only the sake of sex, but for the love of intimacy.

Overall I am a thankful person. I don’t want for much of anything and I am very aware of how privileged that is. But I have let this monster creep into me that seems to roar “more time! I need it!” and sits on a crutch of “better wife and better Mom”- making it almost a threat to Charlie. If I don’t get that time I will be unbearable.

So I am shaking that off. I am giving validity to that time and acknowledging that need but I am also taking it where I can and not demanding it be bestowed upon me in heaps, because all that breeds in me is discontent and cries of “not enough! more!”.

Today I am feeling challenged and filled. Filled by 20 minutes spent in front of my computer putting words out that percolated on a pleasant walk with my ladies. Feeling filled by this time even though there is no wine, there is a babe suckling away and a girl reading loudly close by.

This can be me time. Alone with my hands in the warm suds and the dark taking over the sky. Piling veggies in a crockpot as the sun peeks up. Pouring a cup of coffee that will be cold before it is finished, I can savor one sip. Watering the garden and hearing the spray hit the house and bounce back on my bare legs.  This can be life giving and fulfilling if only I give it the chance.

 

The big times.

Nolie has been sleeping in a toddler bed since 13 months. . . yeah, early climber. Up until fairly recently she was waking up multiple times a night to nurse and would fall asleep in my arms, so bed size didn’t really matter to us. Then we night weaned and consequently Charlie and I have both been spending some quality sleep hours in a crib sized bed with our tiny little furnace child.

We decided to take the leap and switch over to the big times, Twin Mattress land. Nolie is the third little lady to sleep in this bed- it was mine first, my sweet niece Indy second and now hers. We gave it a little coat of chalk board paint and set her up. She is in love with her new bouncing, and sleeping, space.

Last night she slept a blissful 11 hours without waking, I would say twin bed is a success.

Helping Papa disassemble the crib

 

adoring on looker.

 

Voila!

And this bed is very kid approved.