Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Deja Vu? - Adding Another Child

I have been rather reminiscent lately because Baby Boo is the age that Little Dude was when we found out we were pregnant again. It is a little bittersweet because I'm not pregnant right now, nor am I trying to be. This is how it all went down seventeen months ago. . . to the best of my recollection and in probably nauseating detail. Don't worry, it won't be TMI, just long winded:

My 1st pregnancy and Little Dude's 1st year tend to be a big blur in my mind because there was so much going on in my life. The month of December 2009, however, I remember so well. Hubby and I had decided to go ahead and try for another baby that month. I had been on birth control prior to that, so I figured it may take a few of months of trying. I had told myself that I shouldn't get my hopes up yet. . . besides, Little Dude was only 8 months old.
I (very roughly) guessed the time that I ovulated and figured I could test starting on the 15th. I went to the dollar store and picked up around 20 pee sticks. Once the 15th hit I started testing every morning. . . they were all big fat negatives! I wasn't discouraged at first but as the week came to a close I figured the month was a wash. As much as I had told myself not to expect anything that month, I was still rather disappointed. I am not a patient person and I had a wicked case of baby fever. By the 22nd I decided to give it a break and I didn't test that morning or the next day. The 24th was Christmas Eve so I tested that morning in hopes of having an early Christmas present. .  . negative!

I don't know how to describe the feeling I had; I felt my heart telling me that I had another baby coming, but the logical part of my brain was telling me to let it go and stop being so emotional. I tested again on the 25th and got nada. I'm glad that I was so involved having fun with Little Dude's 1st Christmas, otherwise I would have been mopey all day. I decided to give up the testing for that cycle.
Hubby, me, my brother, and Little Dude on Christmas Eve at my family's Christmas celebration

Happy family of 3 on Christmas morning!

My adorable 8 month old little monkey on Christmas.

The next couple of days were weekend days and they came and went quickly. We were busy wrapped up in the Christmas festivities with family, extended family and friends. We had a wonderful long weekend, and I had done a pretty good job of putting pregnancy thoughts out of my mind. By the time Monday the 28th rolled around, hubby was back at work and Little Dude and I were having a lazy Monday at home.

Sometime around noon I was laying on the couch as Little Dude cruised around when my calf muscle started twitching. Annoyed, I rubbed it a little hoping the feeling would go away. A few minutes later I felt the twitch again. I remember wondering why was I so annoyed by such a little twitch? It certainly wasn't painful. I realized then that the feeling reminded me of the terrible leg cramps that I would get when I was pregnant the 1st time around, only a much milder version of them. A split second later I thought "Hey, why am I having a pregnancy symptom?"

I rushed to the bathroom and pulled out a pregnancy test. Since I still thought that this cycle had been a bust, I didn't get my hopes up at all. I set the test down on the bathroom sink to process as I went back out to the living room to watch my baby. I almost forgot that I had tested, but 10 minutes later I walked back into the bathroom to check. I looked at the strip and sure enough there was a faint little pink line next to the bold control line. I think my stomach did a back flip at that second. I looked at it closer and sure enough, the line was there; no mistaking it for an evaporation line. I quickly pulled out a 2nd test and managed to pee on that one. This time, I didn't take my eyes off of it as the urine line soaked through the test strip. Once again, I got a faint pink second line. This time I'm pretty sure I did a happy dance in the bathroom with Little Dude. . . I remember him laughing at me. Finally, for good measure I found a digital test that I had also purchased and used that. To my delight, the word "YES" popped up pretty quickly.
I was so excited about the test, but hubby was at work. I wanted so badly to call him and tell him, but I knew it would be better if I waited. So begrudgingly I waited.

I had hoped to do something cute to reveal this secret to him, but I was too excited to think clearly. A month or two earlier, knowing that we were going to try to conceive soon, I had purchased a t-shirt for Little Dude saying he was going to be a big brother. We were going to have him wear it when we told our parents about a second pregnancy. A minute or 2 before hubby got home, I remembered the shirt and I quickly threw it on him. When he walked in the door, I said hi, kissed him, and promptly handed him Little Dude. Hubby gave Little Dude a hello hug and kiss, and started asking him how his day was. I asked hubby if he realized what shirt Little Dude was wearing. He looked at it, looked at me, and asked "is he wearing it for a reason?" I said yes and the happy tears started flowing (from me). Hubby smiled and gave me a hug. We were going to be a family of 4 soon!

Little Dude's shirt was a huge hit with our families by the way. This is what it looked like:
"I have a secret"   .  .  .  "I'm going to be a Big Brother"
There you have the whole story.

Baby Boo is the same age today as Little Dude was in the t-shirt photos above. . . down to the day. I am glad I am not pregnant right now, but at the same time, I know my family isn't complete yet so part of me wishes I was. I'm not sure when the next baby will come, I feel so conflicted on the subject and flip flop on a regular basis on my preferred timing. I would appreciate having the summer without being pregnant. We tend to be really active as a family during the summer so I'm not sure I'm ready to slow down again yet. The first trimester always manages to kill all of my energy. Also, I am making an effort to go to the gym regularly and am still working towards my goal before getting pregnant again. Since I am having my kids so close together, I want to give my body, especially my abs, a chance to recoup in between. I am pretty close to where I want to be, but I have a ways to go still.

On the other hand, the hormones are making me a little baby crazy again. This feeling is all too familiar from when Little Dude was between 6 and 8 months. Maybe it is because after 6 months babies tend to transition away from being helpless little infants and are well on their way to toddlerhood. I admit to loving the older baby/toddler phase way more than newborn, but for some reason it triggers my desire for another. I also want to get my childbearing years out of the way sooner rather than later. That sounds a little pessimistic I suppose. I do absolutely love being pregnant (most of the time), and having a newborn. However, I want to concentrate those years because they limit what we can do as a family; I'm talking long road trips, camping, and going on vacation.

While I firmly believe in never say never, hubby and I are pretty sure three kids is the right number for us so that means our family is one pregnancy away from being complete.

Only time will tell when another baby will happen. I know it isn't all up to us either. We have been incredibly fortunate in that we have such an easy time conceiving and haven't suffered any losses. My heart goes out to those that struggle with these issues; they are truly braver than I think I could ever be. Another consideration is that I am still breastfeeding Baby Boo which limits my fertility.

For now I think I need to climb out of this hormonal funk of a post and focus on today and the amazing blessings I currently have.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Seems I Caught the DIY Bug Somethin' Fierce

Have you discovered Pinterest yet? It is a rather addicting way to (mostly) waste time and gain inspiration. Check out my boards if you are a fan of Pinterest, they are rather bare for now but will surely build. I keep looking through several home inspiration boards and the more I do, the more I want to be able to DIY a lot of the projects. I'm talking beds, book cases, built in cabinets, etc. I really want to build Little Dude a loft bed for when he is done with the crib, but that is definitely not a small project, especially for a complete beginner like me. I have a feeling that if I am able to really get into building things, that I won't be able to stop.

In case you missed it, last month I blogged about how I want these for my birthday:

Not to say that I don't still want them. . . but for now the #1 item on my wishlist is a compound miter saw. Something like this:
A slight departure from the shoes, I know. Unfortunately it is an even bigger departure in price; this puppy retails for around $600. . . go big or go home right? I figure with this I won't get an itch to upgrade after a few projects.

Stepping back from dreamland. . . that is not going to be a priority anytime soon. Not this year. Not with our aspirations of a new 4-piece sectional and finished basement. A girl can dream though, right?

This interest of mine may seem kind of random. I suppose my biggest motivation is that I keep finding projects I want done, and I figure I'll have the hubs make them for me. After some of these projects start building up in my mind, I get frustrated with having to depend on someone else to make my visions a reality. . . even if it is my amazing hubby.

Why can't I do it myself?

I guess being raised by parents that tackled (and still do) so many DIY projects rubbed off a little onto me. My mom knows how to work several power tools better than most men I know. I guess in the end I really can't run away from the fact that I am becoming my own mother *sigh*. . . who happens to be an avid reader of my blog (love you mom!) That is something everyone seems to run from, but I guess in this case, I can only be proud if I can figure out even half of what she does.

In the meantime I can borrow tools. . . though not the DeWalt DW718 12" Sliding Compound Miter Saw of my dreams *boo*. I can at least get my feet wet with some smaller projects.

One such project that hubs and I are hoping to tackle soon(ish) is this:
I found it through Pinterest of course.
It is from a blog called Learning to B Me, and here is the link for the tutorial.

This would be an awesome addition for our kitchen because space is pretty much always at a premium. It is a relatively simple project too. I don't think it will get done in the next month or two, but I'm hoping with any luck that it will get done this year. I know if I blog about it, that it is more likely to happen; so feel free to ask me about this come October or November if there has been no mention of it.

I am finding huge inspiration from Ana White; a blogger, "home-maker" and builder extraordinaire! She has an amazing website full of how-to's on building things and a lot of tips and tricks for beginners. I am as beginner as they get so I plan to use any and all resources I can find. I highly recommend checking out her site if you are into some bigger (and cooler) DIY projects.

Enough with the power tools and projects for now though. . . we have a long weekend to enjoy!

Have some over-indulgant cuteness to tide you over until next week:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Toddler Concoctions - Healthy Mac 'n' Cheese

Here is one of my newer go-to lunches for Little Dude that takes about 10 minutes to prepare and is healthy to boot.

  • 1 6oz. box of whole grain, white cheddar mac'n'cheese. I love Annie's organic shells and white cheddar!
  • 1/2 cup of milk (I use 2%)
  • 2 TBSP of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup of chopped fresh spinach (I use a whole cup but that is because Little Dude adores spinach) (Sam's Club and Cosco both sell large tubs of organic spinach leaves for $3) 
  • 1/2 cup of chopped turkey pastrami (I buy mine at Sam's Club) (ham works too)

Start by boiling the noodles on the stove. While the noodles boil, chop up the spinach and pastrami.

Once the noodles are al dente, drain them in a colander over the sink. In the empty pot, mix the cheese packet, milk, and butter on low heat. The box instructions only call for 3 Tbsp. of milk, I add 1/2 a cup because of the extra ingredients. Once combined, add the extra mozzarella cheese to the pot and stir for 30 seconds.
Mmmm cheese. . .

Add the noodles back into the pot, then the spinach and pastrami. Mix everything together and put the lid on the pot. Allow everything to cook on low for two minutes, stir again, and serve.

Here is mine with extra spinach in it. Start off with less, maybe even 1/4 cup, for pickier eaters.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fun Kid Rooms - Girly Pastels

After going with a rather elaborate (for me) room for my son, I knew that I had to go big for any future babies too. December of 2009, when Little Dude was only 8 months old, I found out I was pregnant again. After a few months we learned that it was a girl so my mind started going on what her nursery would look like.

Once again, I would like to start at the beginning and give the room's history. This is what Baby Boo's room looked like when we bought the house:
It had mint green walls and a dirty pea-soup-green carpet. Blech.

Since we didn't need a 2nd kid room at the time, this room became an office when we first moved in. For the office, we washed and painted the walls, ripped up the carpet, and refinished the hardwood floors. We went with green again for the walls because we had some free green paint given to us. I am not a huge fan of green, but it cleaned up the room and was a little more neutral than the original mint green. 

Unfortunately, we never took good photos of the cleaned up office. It was a cluttered little room that was often very messy. Here is a shot of me at around 16 weeks prego with Baby Boo taken in the office:
I look HORRIBLE in this photo. I was on some meds for the first trimester that made me bloat up like a balloon. Basically my whole 2nd trimester, I didn't gain any weight at all because I was losing the water weight I had built earlier. There isn't much of a point to this story other than to ask you to please look past the bloated pregnant chick in the picture and notice the small amount of room that you can see, LOL. Here is another snapshot that shows part of the office:
Definitely cluttered!

Once I was ready to get started on the new nursery, the whole office was taken downstairs. The hubs had to do all the heavy lifting for me.

Little Dude's room was designed around his mural. I decided to take a slightly different approach with Baby Boo's room and I picked the color scheme first. Here is what I came up with:
I did not want pink walls because I really dislike the overkill of pink that most girl things tend to have. I decided the walls would be a light blue.

I started looking around on craigslist for furniture to fill the room. I found a beautiful white crib for $30 and a set of dresser, bedside table, and writing desk/hutch for $100. These items were all feminine and went with the color scheme perfectly. Since all the furniture was white, I figured the trim work and doors in the room should match. Hubs was very married to the natural wood look in the room, but he begrudgingly agreed to let me paint it white.

So I got to painting. This part took the longest by far. I was working over 40 hour weeks at work, I was in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy, and of course I had a rambunctious 1 year old as well. It took several weeks but finally I finished painting everything. The walls were light blue, the ceiling a very light blue, the trim white, and the doors white.  

This was me after a long day of painting at around 38 weeks prego:
By the way - I kept the room VERY well ventilated the whole time I worked on it, used low VOC paint, and took frequent breaks.
With the bulk of the painting done, I started thinking about a mural. I decided that instead of having a complete scene with ground, sky, and everything in between, that I would do a slightly more abstract scene. Little Dude always loved the animals on his mural so I wanted to have animals for Baby Boo too. The focal point of the scene was going to be a big plum colored tree with hot pink leaves.

I started by painting the tree 1st. My mom helped me along the way as well. Once the tree was done, I free sketched the animals onto the wall and painted them in. This was totally different than Little Dude's mural where I had everything planned out in advance. With his, we used a projector to project my design on the wall and we trace in the animals. I kind of just winged it with Baby Boo's animals, but it worked out well. 

Here is a shot of the mural part of the way through:
It is difficult to photograph but all the leaves were painted over with a very fine and light glitter to add some shimmer:
 As were all the animal eyes:

Here is the completed mural:

Yes that is a circular mirror on the tree. My mom came up with that one and it is a cute detail.

The furniture had been brought in while the mural was being painted. The finishing touch was the crib bedding that my mom custom made for Baby Boo:

Once again, here is a 360 degree tour of Baby Boo's room today:

The wall with the entry door and the closet:
The full length mirror came with the house and I chose to keep it after painting the door white.
The quote on the closet door is a fairly recent addition:

This is a ridiculously simple detail that needs to be finished:
The light switch currently has a plain white rectangle plate. I need to switch it out for this cute decorative oval plate. Seriously, this takes one minute to do. . . why haven't I done it yet???

Here is the desk/hutch and the crib. As you can see, the furniture works perfectly with the room colors. I didn't paint the pink trim on the furniture, we bought it that way.
 You can imagine how excited I was when I saw the whole set for $100 on craigslist!

My MIL made this for Baby Boo much like the one she made for Little Dude:
It needs to be hung but I am rather disorganized about pictures and frames in her room.

Speaking of disorganized:
These beautiful Cynthia Rowley frames were purchased at TJ Maxx for $7.99 each. They desperately need pictures in them. I have a few different white frames (not pictured) that need filling and hanging as well.

Here is the canopy over the bed:
The colorful butterflies are gifts from my grandpa and family in Chile. They are hand woven by local artisans. The canopy itself will have to be moved soon since Baby Boo is pulling up on her own. I plan to drape it to the side until she is old enough to have it again without ruining it.

The dresser and mural again:
Even her's Diaper Champ matched the room!

Here is a detail shot:
The garbage can and Baby Boo's hamper (not pictured) match the tree almost perfectly. On the right you can see the wooden outlet cover that I painted to match the tree too. No detail spared here!

The glider was moved from Little Dude's room into her room, and the cushions covered to match by my mom:
Close-up of the beautiful afghan knitted by hubby's grandma:
You can see part of the bedside table that also came with the furniture set in the above picture. I want to find a nice basket for the bottom part. The lamp is from Target and the other thing is the baby monitor transmitter.

The rugs were from Target:
Both kids love the shag rugs; they are so comfy to lie on.

Finally, looking up is the ceiling fan:
I love all the butterfly details that tie in with the canopy over the crib.

Baby Boo's room was done on less of a budget that K's since we weren't in the middle of remodeling the rest of the house at the time. None-the-less, we did decently on the budget overall when you consider the all the new (to us) furniture. Here is a breakdown of the prices I can remember:
  • Paint - Roughly $80 total for the walls, ceiling, trim, and mural.
  • Crib - $30 craigslist find
  • Desk with hutch, dresser, and bedside table - $100 craigslist find
  • Rugs - $120 for both at Target
  • Ceiling fan - $70 at Manards
  • Lamps (purple one next to the crib and pink one next to the glider) - $15 each at Target
  • Glider - Hand-me-down from Little Dude's room
  • Matching bedding, diaper holder, and glider cushion covers - Free from my mom
  • Pink diaper champ - $30 from Amazon.com
  • Garbage can and hamper to match the tree - $20 or so for both at Target
  • Pink canopy over the crib - $17 from Amazon.com
  • Full length mirror on door - Free, came with house
  • Curtains - They were already part of the room from when it was an office, but they were less than $30 for both windows from JC Penney.
  • New blinds because the old ones were beige instead of white: $6
  • Light switch plate - $7 on clearance at Babies-R-US
Phew! Well there you have it; Baby Boo's room in intense detail. I loved the whole process of designing and creating both rooms and I think the love really shows. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fun Kid Rooms - Jungle Theme

The rooms that I am most proud of (by far) in my house are my kids' rooms. I loved picking a theme and running with it to make an amazing little room for my babies. Everything in them was done with love. These rooms are also the only ones that weren't necessarily done with resale value in mind.

I figured I would start with Little Dude's room. We bought our house back in 2009 and we closed on it when I was 8 months pregnant. The 1st month of home-ownership was all about the larger remodeling projects like redoing the kitchen, tearing out old carpets, refinishing hardwood floors, updating the bathroom, etc. I basically was not allowed around most of the time. Shortly after Little Dude arrived, the bigger projects were done so I was allowed to start on the nursery.

Here is what I was working with:
The walls were a light peach color and the carpet was a bright burnt orange color. The carpet was filthy and rather faded in some parts. Here's the kicker though; the original wall color that we could see in some spots that hadn't gotten a coat of peach was burnt orange! Can you imagine what this little room would have looked like with the bright orange carpet and walls? ((shudder))

We knew from the first time we checked out the house that there would need to be a lot of work done. The plan was to rip out all the carpet throughout the house and paint all walls. Maybe we should have kept the awesome curtains though, haha.

Here are a few more shots around the room:
That last one shows the view from the room looking out into the hallway and into what is now H's room. Yes the hallway was indeed bright turquoise! 

Before painting I had to decide on a theme and plan for the room. I went through several ideas and landed on a jungle theme. I always knew that I wanted to do a mural for the room, and since my mom has done them professionally she was going to help me. I googled jungle murals, and immediately had a plethora of ideas and inspiration. I was trying to decide how big to make the mural and what the limits of it would be (whole wall, whole room etc) when I saw this:
A mural by Heather Hurzler

I loved the idea of the wall being an opening of a tent looking out onto a jungle scene. I was set on this idea and sketched my own design:
*click on pics to see larger versions

Since the room itself was going to be the inside of a tent, I picked a neutral beige color for the walls. We took down the curtains, washed the filthy walls as best we could, and got to painting:

My mom and I worked solidly through a weekend and we had the mural pretty much done:
I love how it turned out. It was the perfect blend of cutesy/cartoony and lifelike for me.

Once the mural was done we ripped out the horrible orange carpet and replaced it with some neutral beige carpet. It made a HUGE difference in the room. Then we filled the room with furniture and baby things: 
Almost everything for this room was done a budget:
  • The solid maple crib was a hand-me-down from a family friend. It was/is in perfect condition, no scratches or signs of wear and tear.
  • Hubby's uncle owns a flooring business so we got a deep deep discount on the carpet and installation. I'm not sure how much it was for this room since we got a bill for the whole house that wasn't itemized, but it was definitely less than $100.
  • The glider was a rather expensive one, but it was a gift from my parents for their first grandchild.
  • The shelf system with the colorful bins was free from my brother. Long story short: he bought a house that came with a bunch of (mostly) junk in the attic. Amongst that junk was an unopened box with this brand new shelf system in it. My brother doesn't have kids so he gave it to me.
  • The dresser was an old garage sale dresser that I had since I was 13 or so.
  • My mom made the diaper stacker for me so the materials cost almost nothing.
  • The jungle themed bedding was from JC Penney. My mom worked in management there at the time and purchased it on clearance (plus her discount) for around $20.
  • Although not pictured in the above photos, we also put in curtains right away. The rods and curtains themselves were also purchased on clearance at JC Penney and were honestly less than $30 for both windows. Regular retail price on all the components would otherwise have been roughtly$140.
  • Pretty much all of the toys were hand-me-downs or baby shower gifts. Between some over-zealous grandparents and some very generous family and friends (4 baby showers total), I didn't have to buy much at all for Little Dude's first few months.
Here is a 360 degree tour of the room today:
Little Dude is still in his crib for now. I hope to keep him in it for a while longer since he sleeps so well. We have rearranged the furniture a few times now to keep things interesting. This configuration does block some of the mural, but he loves having it right there when he goes to bed.

He likes telling the animals goodnight.
The toys certainly have changed. The kitchen was a Christmas '10 present and the easel a 2nd birthday present.

The kitchen and the curtains over the first window:
The view out his window is my new garden :).

The dresser changed a lot just recently. Here is the post about that. The shelving system with bins is a little more naked thanks to a 2 year old that likes to pull them out and play with them.
This is a gift from grandma (my MIL) that hangs over the dresser.

Here is the final wall and second window:
I love the airy curtains that still allow a lot of sunlight through!

This is a cedar toy chest that my parents built Little Dude for his first birthday. My mom sewed the cushion on top, and I painted his name and the frog on it to complete the look.
Here in the corner between the shelving system and the chest is a garbage bin and the Diaper Champ. These items are nice to keep away from little hands.

Finally, looking up we can see a couple of newer additions:
We installed a ceiling fan in the room. This one is a small 30" fan made by Westinghouse. The stuffed animal net was $3 from Ikea.

So there you have it, the evolution and complete tour of Little Dude's room. A true labor of love!

Next up will be Miss H's room.