Protecting the Tree

When I was pregnant, everyone wanted to give me advice, solicited or (more often) not. The “advice” was thinly veiled warnings that I had to appreciate my life now (hard to do when you’re incubating another person) and that nothing would ever be the same. Maybe because I have an “easy” child, or maybe because I’ve come up with creative solutions, most of the “advice” has been conquered in one way or another. Here’s some examples:

  1. You’ll never sleep again. I do sleep. Quite well. That is, when I go to bed before midnight. That’s not because my daughter is keeping me up, but because I want to squeeze in one more game of Hearthstone or PUBG.
  2. You’ll never eat a hot meal again. This one took some time, but now that we’ve settled into the beginning of toddlerhood, my daughter is quite happy to eat at the same time as me, provided she gets some bites of whatever I’m having. Fine with me!
  3. Your house will never be clean again. Aside from crumbs that come with snack and lunch time, my house is actually pretty clean. I set up designated spaces (out of reach of little hands) for mail, bills to be paid, shoes, etc. and so far, so good! Oh – and get a dog. Dogs make wonderful vacuums. And the toys all over my living room? I don’t consider that mess. I consider that life and creativity and playtime and happiness.

Now I’m not so naive to think that any of these things can change at the drop of the hat because, well, toddlers. They want what they want or they will try to hurl their little bodies down the highest flight of steps until they get it. And then laugh at you as you lunge for them or say “no”. But the one thing no one warned me about was Christmas, and by that I mean the Tree.

IMG_20171212_122245By no means do I have an elaborate, expensive collection of ornaments, but I do have some quite sentimental ones and a plethora of breakable ones. My cats were never Christmas Tree climbers, just ornament stealers and branch chewers, and Abby could care less about it. Last year, Alexandra wasn’t quite crawling so her grubby little hands couldn’t do much damage. This year? TOTALLY DIFFERENT STORY.

I searched for cheap dog fences and kid play yards (we don’t use one at the moment.. she is a free range toddler) but found nothing that was going to quite work without spending a lot for something that would be used for a month. I was going to purchase garden fencing and cut off the stakes that are used to put it in the ground, but realized that I didn’t have time for a failed Pinterest attempt, I just needed to create enough of a barrier that she couldn’t get IN the tree. Solution? Fake presents. With weights in them.

I have a lot of empty cardboard boxes, especially this time of year (because Amazon Prime) so I decided to make my barricade as pretty as possible. I only needed a few boxes, so I used some of the cheaper wrapping paper I already own. What to stuff them with, though? I was going to use my free weights, but that defeats the purpose of owning them (hi, exercise). Instead, I wrapped up things that aren’t going to get used until after the holidays. Most notably, I used cans of Sprite that were leftover from her first birthday party. Other boxes were filled with DVDs and random canned goods (like leftover cranberry sauce). A few boxes later and voila!

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I left a lot of ornaments off the tree, but our mini barricade is just enough deterrence from grabby little hands (and Luna is quite happy she can still doze on the tree skirt). I can’t wait to wrap our real presents tonight and place them behind the barricade!

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Back where we started

Two years ago today, I received the best birthday present to date: I was pregnant. I wouldn’t know it for a couple weeks, but as I sit here as a newly minted 36 year old, I couldn’t be happier.

Some birthdays were hard – the milestone ones after my father died, the one where I got snowed in, the one where I was alone – but this one feels just great. My fifteen month old brought me my present as I was standing in the kitchen, making her lunch for daycare. I can’t imagine anything cuter.

Life turned upside down over the summer, but I’ve finally embraced it and am – dare I say it – okay with it. I lost my job. Again. And I’m okay with it. I got to enjoy the summer with my daughter, celebrate her first birthday, and haven’t minded the near sleepless nights that come with teething and colds. It has been lonely, and challenging, and uplifting all at the same time.

I thought I would blog more once she was born, but there is something that made me want to keep those first months and moments private. I am still digesting all the emotions that come with being a mother instead of just wife and sometimes homemaker. It’s only the past month or so that I haven’t cried every night putting her to bed – tears of joy, tears of wonderment, tears of frustration and release.

Becoming a mother has been the ultimate life challenge and blessing, and for my birthday, a gift to myself is the time to be here again. To share what we’ve done in the house in the past year, to create beautiful things and a beautiful home, and to ask for advice when I decide to repaint a room or try a horrible Pinterest tutorial. So welcome back! I look forward to sharing this crazy life with you all again.

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Happy Housiversary

Today marks six years since that rainy first day we moved into our house. It is only fitting that I finally reappear now to say hello to you, dear readers.

We have done so much to the house that I have chronicled in pictures that are safely stored on my computer but haven’t been shared. And I have tried so many Pinterest tutorials (all successful!) and done crocheting and ventured into baby food making (also successful!) but finding time to post all of it has seemed an impossible task.

I’ve made notes on my calendar countless times reading “update blog” but the reminders come and go. That’s because the past nearly nine months have been consumed by a now 20 pound bundle of joy named Alexandra.

For now I will leave you with my favorite newborn photo of me and her and promise you that one day soon I’ll come back and share with you all the joy that has been going on in my life and my home.

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Rock-a-bye baby…

Our baby girl is due in 9 days which seems forever away right now as we go through a horrible heat wave and I feel about 1,000 months pregnant. Today begins the first day of vacation for me, though. I knew I didn’t want to work up until the last day because I’d be uncomfortable, and thankfully I had plenty of days saved up. Now begins the scramble for the finishing touches on the house but, on a positive note, my bags are packed and the nursery is done!

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Literally. Our bags are packed! Mine is on the left, complete with a bag of snacks. On the radiator are the items that are “last minute, throw them in” like the coming home outfit, The Man’s pjs and socks, a stroller blanket from Pottery Barn that my BF from high school gave us, the quintessential nursing boppy, and a list of “grab this” items like chargers and my iPad.

The nursery was just a general use room before with a futon, all my yarn and crochet accessories, and my Oma’s steamer trunk. Well, the futon was sold and the steamer trunk and crochet paraphenalia found a new home in my office (which I’ll share another time).

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the room before

From day one, I knew that I loved the color of the room and wasn’t going to change it – it’s Valspar’s Wool Coat. It’s a beautiful, rich neutral color that lends itself to a host of complementing colors. Once we found out it was a girl, we also decided to leave the carpet which was a $25 score at an estate sale a few years ago. As I started decorating the room, I realized the carpet was limiting me more than the paint color was, but the room turned out amazing anyway. The valances were one of the first things I purchased at Lowe’s (a glimpse is in the very first pic in the post), inspired by both the carpet and the witches ball which was a gift from my sister-in-law when we first moved in our house. I’ve always loved the way the light hits the brilliant red, and figured it was a good idea to have something hanging to ward off evil.

I love all the stencils and wall decals I see on Pinterest for baby rooms, but didn’t want to repaint the room as she gets older so instead I decided wall art would be the decoration/theme, which ended up being Storybooks.

We were lucky in that we were given a crib by a friend whose daughter had just transitioned to her BGB (big girl bed) and the dresser the previous owners had left in the room had been sitting in our garage for literally 5 years, just waiting to be rehabbed. It had obviously been painted in a hurry with a brush, and the scroll details were aqua and purple – not my taste.

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dresser hell before (I had used the drawers as stands when I was painting something black…)

After a lot of sanding and many cans of spray paint for a glossy finish to match the crib (yes I used a Darth Vader-esque ventilator), the end result was nothing short of fabulous!

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The inside of the drawers even got their own special treatment – they were painted pink and lined. My mother-in-law bought us the most comfortable chair in the world (rocks AND swivels) and the matching ottoman (which is covered in a blanket The Man’s coworker made for us) from Babies R Us. The print above the chair is another nod to Storybooks – Rapunzel! I’ve had the print since I was a teenager and figured it was the perfect home for it. We also purchased the bookcase from Babies R Us. The Man put it together in less than an hour and it’s super sturdy so we’re hoping it lasts for the long haul.

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The shelves are adjustable so as she grows we can use the bookcase for storage AND books. The bins on the bottom hold toys, stuffed animals, and baby medicine essen

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sorry for the cruddy picture – stupid glare from windows

tials. The large white bin which is within arms reach when I sit down holds all the nursing essentials. And of course, she already has a book collection!

Then of course she needs somewhere to sleep. Over her crib we put three prints that her cousins got her off our registry. I found them on Etsy and used simple frames and mats from Michael’s so we can change them out over time.

It took a long time to find the perfect ones but I finally settled on a quote from Little Women, one from Anne of Green Gables, and one from Alice in Wonderland.  And because of the colors and pattern in the carpet, I also agonized over her bedding. I know, I know. The bedding doesn’t matter and they barely ever will get use out of the comforter so who cares? Well, this dork cares. I finally found  an amazing comforter from Land of Nod that is reversable and had a matching dust ruffle that I love. Add in some super soft stuffed animal friends and the sleeping area is baby ready!

We also have one more nod to Storybooks over her dresser and on it in the form of a mirror and another print from Etsy which I loved, with different Alice in Wonderland quote.

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And that’s it! All in all, we were blessed to have furniture and be gifted furniture. It made the whole process of getting the nursery ready so much easier. The room isn’t huge so I knew we had to be practical, and I definitely wanted a room that could grow with her.

We are so very ready for this little girl to arrive happy and healthy and safely.

 

Showers of Love

I am very lucky to have some amazing friends in my life who are just as excited about welcoming our baby in to the world as we are! The Man and I were given two amazing showers – one by my amazing friend Michele …

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Me & Michele, June 25

who invited my friends and family to her house and put out an amazing display of food

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and punch (alcoholic and non!)

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and then a surprise shower by my co-workers!

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And by surprise I mean I truly was clueless…

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I thought The Man and I were going for a walk, but lo and behold in our lab, my co-workers had set up a plethora of sugary delights and gifts. I’m also very lucky to have a friend that took pictures at both showers (and who my mom officially wants to hire as our family photographer!) so that I have some amazing memories!

It’s hard to believe such a little person coming into the world needs so much stuff and I’m grateful that so many people have helped us prepare for Alexandra’s arrival. The Man’s aunts have been showering us with gifts practically since we told them we were pregnant, our parents have gotten all the big things we needed, and our friends and co-workers were generous beyond belief.

So now we have the clothes, the gear, the diapers (although you can never have enough diapers!) and the nursery which is almost complete. Now… just waiting on baby. 33 days and counting…

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nesting, nesting, and more nesting…

With seven weeks to go I have the overwhelming urge to clean every surface of my house and make sure everything we own has a place to go away. Last Monday, I realized our small(ish) kitchen was woefully ill equipped to house any of the impending baby gear like bottles and the eventual sippy cups and plastic dinnerware that is oh so fancy.

We did have room in our dining room, however, to add a small buffet on an otherwise empty wall. I perused Wayfair and Overstock but most of the buffets or sideboards had open storage, glass fronts, or built in wine bottle racks that we didn’t need. On a whim, I decided to check Craigslist quickly and on the second page of the search voila! The perfect sideboard! It was the right color, the right size, and almost the right price.

I sent an email and asked if it was still available and whether the price was negotiable. Amazingly, within 20 minutes I had an email back saying yes to both accounts! We ended up striking a deal in between what I wanted to pay and the owner wanted to make, and she even agreed to DELIVER! So as of yesterday morning we are the proud new owners of a fabulous new piece in our dining room.

Today I tackled the task of reorganizing half of the kitchen cabinets. I had one in particular that I thought could be better utilized.

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I can’t remember the last time I used martini glasses, and our good china definitely didn’t have to be in the kitchen because I always set the table with it rather than serving from the kitchen on it, so it was easy to figure out what needed to get re-homed. Oh, and I don’t think my Turkey wine glass is going to get used for a few months! The Man helped move everything into the dining room so I wasn’t walking back and forth and tada!

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Everything fit with a LOT of room to spare. I’ll probably get different racks at some point to utilize the space more efficiently, but for now the two shelves got emptied and even found room for plates from another closet. The cool thing is that what looks like drawers is actually a drop down face, so I can put some of our nice platters in there.

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And the major bonus, the wall finally looks complete. We used to just have one of our dining room chairs in that corner but now the corner finally looks finished. To reward all my reorganization efforts, The Man even bought me flowers when he did the grocery shopping tonight. All in all, I’m one happy mom to be! Now to just clean up the nursery…

 

Totally preggers

We were out with my in-laws a few weeks ago looking at houses when suddenly I turned and caught my side profile in the mirror and gasped. I was pregnant.  They asked me what was wrong and I told them. I’m pregnant. No… really?!

Obviously I’m pregnant. I’m 26 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I’m due in three months. 92 days to go according to my Glow Nurture app. But I finally realized how I look to other people. Up until about two weeks ago I felt pregnant, I felt Alexandra moving and kicking and even seeing my belly move when she gave a particularly energetic jab. I saw the numbers on the scale going up (slowly thankfully). But I didn’t realize just how pregnant I looked.

From the front, if I’m wearing a cardigan that falls just right, there’s still the initial thought of, “She had too many cheeseburgers,” which has been my joke all along. Especially around month 4, there was the look you would get from students and others on campus we hadn’t told yet where they were trying to figure out of if you were gluttonous or knocked up. Now it’s real.

Things in Alexandra’s room are pretty well set. The crib has been together for a while now, the room painted, the closet cleaned out and prepared, and the dresser refinished. I can tell you I hate spray painting pregnant. YES, I wore a heavy duty respirator mask – don’t yell at me. Now we’re just trying to settle the rest of the house. The bathroom is done. The center hall ceiling and mold taken down, new ceilings and moldings put up, and now we have to peel the wall paper.

But now, I actually feel pregnant too. I can’t work on the wall paper removal for more than an hour without feeling discomfort. The bajillion trips up and down the stairs while trying to clean are unmanageable now. I can do it, but if I don’t take breaks, I end up in a lot of pain by the end of the day. Maybe it’s because I’m carrying all out front. Maybe it’s because I’m too stupid to know I should slow down.

But you know what? I’m not angry or sad about any of the limitations. I’m happy. I have been lucky. I feel good. I dare say I look good. And I can’t wait to have this little girl here.

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