Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Baby #2- What I've Learned

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motherhood, mom of 2, daughters, sisters
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On August 2nd I gave birth to our second little girl, Ruby Jean. 

baby #2, daughter

I had a pretty normal pregnancy and though both my husband and I agreed that we were ready for our second, and happy that there would be 3 years separating our girls- if anyone asked me how I was doing as it neared my due date my answer was always that physically, I was doing great. The only aside was one major difference that became apparent immediately: being pregnant when you already have a child is an entirely different and not as enjoyable experience. No one really tells you this! Everyone just assumes that since it's your second go around everything will be easier. No false alarm emergency visits to the OB (none of the "<gasp> I think I'm leaking amniotic fluid!" "Nope- you just peed a little," moments,) no need to purchase a crib, ask a million questions about baby paraphernalia or spend hours researching the safest car seat and how to correctly install it. You know what else there's none of? Rest. When Violet was born I had a killer tan. I spent the entire summer floating like a whale on a noodle raft in the pool.
 See?!? Violet was born at 12:22am and this is the very next day! I still couldn't even feel my legs and had just labored for almost 24 hours then had a c-section, but somehow I look rested. You want to see a picture of me this time around? You can't! I don't have any pictures of myself from the hospital this time and anyone who does is under strict orders not to share them. <Sigh> I look so young and clueless there...I think I've aged a decade in that last 3 years...

So, when it comes to comparing the first pregnancy to the second lets just chalk it up to "different." The positive side? My feet were only Shrek-like the last month as opposed to my first pregnancy when they swelled up at 4 months and I kissed my ankles goodbye until well after the delivery. Still, I didn't hate being pregnant the second time around, but I surely didn't adore it as much as I did the first time so don't let that pic fool ya   --->

This is one of the only "Preggy Meggy" pics I took this time. The angle definitely diminishes the hugeness that was me (or at least how I felt) and the smile is genuine as I was about 7 months in. That smile was a bit less frequent two months later...

Anyhow, as soon as we brought Ruby home reality set in and a few things became apparent that no one really elaborated on when we were in the midst of family planning...

1- Amnesia sets in. True, it had been 3 years and I'm not exactly a spring chicken, but how is it that I suddenly forget how to hold a newborn? I thought one of the best things about the second go around would be that I was now a "seasoned pro" and here I am Googling things on my Iphone every 20 minutes and asking for my "What to Expect" book back (which we affectionately dubbed "The Baby Bible.") If I had a dollar for every time my husband and I say, "did Violet...(poop this much, eat this much, sleep this long...) " we'd be hiring a nanny ;)

2- Gimme a G! Gimme a U! Gimme an I! Gimme an L! Gimme a T! Whats that spell? The story of my life.
During my 1st pregnancy, the majority of the guilt I was feeling had to do with all things breastfeeding (see #3) Now guilt is a normal part of my daily routine. Trust me, I'm no stranger to Mommy Guilt, but I promised myself up and down that I wouldn't let it get to me this time and yet I can't help but feel guilty that I don't hold Ruby nearly as much as I held Violet. Every time I have to tell Violet that "I can't" because I'm feeding Ruby or "after" I'm done changing, burping, bathing Ruby, I let it creep in and then I feel guilty for feeling guilty. It's a vicious cycle.

3- Breastfeeding still sucks. No pun intended. I was well aware of how difficult it can be, and is for most women, and I am by no means looking to start a debate, but instead will reference this post written by Penny Chevalley on her blog The Real Housewife of Caroline County as it pretty much speaks to exactly how I feel about the topic. I know it may seem harsh to make such a statement, but if I'm being true to myself and really expressing the thoughts I've had while nursing and pumping, pumping and nursing- it is usually, "this sucks." Much of the awe and beauty of the moment wore off with my first pregnancy. Not all, just most. I still love the closeness and cuddly moments, the little bit of rest it sometimes provides, and the strain it takes off of my wallet, but I don't love being a milk factory, having sore nipples, feeling ridiculous milking myself while hooked up to my double breast pump, and inevitably left wondering why I even bother wearing a shirt. I should just go all National Geographic up in here.

4- It is MUCH harder to accept help. I am lucky enough to have a close support system of family and friends all who have offered to take my 3-year-old for the day, or come by and help with Ruby. Still, I find myself constantly assuring everyone that I'm "ok," then choking back tears, miserably counting the number of days its been since I've showered or left the house, then wondering if it's too early to have a beer. Part of me wants to be all, "look at me, look how put together I am. I totally got this," and the other part of me hears "no I'm fine" coming out of my mouth and then looks around like "wait, who said that?"

5- There are moments where you will feel like a superhero for accomplishing the most menial tasks, you will find creative ways to do some of the things that used to be so easy, and meeting the baby's basic needs involves a whole lot less pomp and circumstance. If it wouldn't have been more than mildly inappropriate, I would have documented my morning yesterday as I was preparing breakfast for Violet while
nursing Ruby in the football hold. I'm talking toasting and buttering waffles, left handed, using a stick of butter (not that easy spread stuff either!) I kinda felt like a rock star. As far as the menial tasks, this time around we realize that all the bells and whistles aren't necessary or practical. Where we used to have the pack and play all set up and stocked with our arsenal of diaper changing supplies, we now have a small diaper caddy on the coffee table and we change the baby on the couch. My sister recently had her first little girl, Quinn (there's Quinn w/ Vi-->)
We were all at my Aunt and Uncle's new place for a family BBQ. When Kel (that's sis) had to change or feed Quinn, she and her hubby retreated together to my aunt's bedroom together as a team. We all laughed when it was time for me to change Ruby and I just threw a receiving blanket on the table (to be clear, I was at an empty table where no one was sitting...)

I have only been a mother of two for three weeks and in the coming weeks I know there will be many more challenges to overcome, things to learn and blog posts to share it all, but despite my sometimes cynical tone, I truly wouldn't change a thing. Every beautiful morning when Vi wakes up and crawls into bed with me and Ruby I marvel at my beautiful little girl who now looks so big next to her little sister. Watching her gently stroke Ruby's face and cuddle her brings tears to my eyes and I know I have to hang on to each and every one of these special moments.






How about you?

What is the biggest change you observed when bringing a second child in to your home?

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Have a "superhero" moment you'd like to share? I'd love to hear it!



Mommy Monday Blog Hop

My Liebster Award

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I thought it was pretty cool when Crystal at Crystal 365 stopped by my blog to let me know that she had nominated me for a Liebster Award.  Since this is new to me, I learned that The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It's a peer award that gives bloggers the opportunity to recognize each other and the work we're doing at any level. To accept the award is to participate in what  seems vaguely like a chain letter, but it's all in good fun in the name of supporting your fellow blogger.



Rules:

1. You must link back to the person that nominated you.
2. You must answer the 11 questions given to you by your nominator.
3. You must pick 11 bloggers, each with under 200 subscribers, to be nominated for the award.
4. You must come up with 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
5. You must go to their blogs and notify your nominees.

Here are the questions Crystal asked:

1. Why did you decide to start blogging?
I have always been a big crafter. As an art major, camp counselor, and art teacher I have a tons of experience with everything from lanyard and decoupage to refinishing furniture and carpentry to oil painting. I am often one of the first people my friends and family go to when it comes to asking any creative question, so I began posting pictures of the things I was making. Then I started getting lots of "how did you do that" questions and began documenting all the steps during the creation process. Blogging was the natural next step to take. It has been so much easier for me to say, "check out the "how to" on my blog," rather than explaining it multiple times and I have since really fallen in love with the whole blog culture and made The Patchwork Paisley into it's own form of my creative expression.

2. Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
In 10 years...Hmm. Well, I will probably be pulling my hair out dealing with two middle-school girls, but I would really love to have earned or be well on my way to earning a Masters of Fine Art or Art Education, still happily teaching, possibly house hunting, and definitely having realized my dream of making my passion of crafting and decorating in to something profitable to help support my family.

3. Where would you love to live and why?
The first place that comes to mind is Maine. Granted, I have never spent the winter in Maine and I can imagine it's pretty darn brutal (and I'm not much of a snow bunny.) Still, I spent 2 summers as a camp counselor at Hidden Valley Camp in Freedom, ME and absolutely fell in love with it there. The weather in the summer is perfect, I'm sure the trees are pretty amazing in the fall...maybe I'd high tail it back to Jersey for the winters though...

4. If all jobs paid the same amount, which job would you choose to do?
I love my job. I truly and honestly do (I'm a Middle School Art Teacher) but if I could be paid to craft and do interior design, I would. Money was never really a deciding factor when choosing a career (I sure as hell wouldn't be teaching if it was) and holing up in my studio and DIY-ing my way through various Pinterest boards isn't much of a career---but if someone would pay me to do it, that would be pretty cool. 

5. Who do you admire and why?
Right now, I admire stay at home moms. Honestly, I do not know how they do it and stay sane. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my girls with a passion that I can't adequately put in to words, but I would go absolutely stir crazy if I didn't have another job to return to at the end of my maternity leave. I seriously am in awe of the woman who can truly say she loves being a stay at home mom and goes through her day cleaning, home schooling (not a necessity, but pretty impressive) and entertaining her children, then cooks dinner and does it all over again the next day- all the while feeling content and satisfied. I really, really want to be able to do that. To anyone who is of the mentality the being a SAHM isn't a job, or isn't hard work- you're wrong, you're just wrong.

6. Describe your typical day.
My typical day changes, but right now I'm on maternity leave and, as mother of a newborn and an almost 3-year-old, my day goes as follows: Wake up at 3am to nurse, again at 6am and possibly squeeze in another snooze session until Violet (my 3 year old) wakes up anywhere between 7:30-8:30. Breakfast for Vi, nurse Ruby (3 week old,) play with Vi, nurse Ruby, possibly squeeze in an outing before lunch for both girls and a quick nap time. Usually I try to eat lunch, rid out the house a bit and maybe even get to a bit of blogging before one or both of the girls wake up. Sometimes Daddy is home by now and we will all play together or go out for a walk or to the park or store. Home for dinner (more nursing) and then the bedtime struggle begins around 8:30, sometimes lasting until 10:30. Eventually, the end of the day will inevitably find myself and the hubby passed out on the couch, hopefully having stayed up for a viewing of our favorite shows (we love The Vampire Diaries, The New Girl, Ghost Hunters, Storage Wars, Catfish...and the list of randomness goes on...) Repeat. 

Soon (next week!) Violet will be starting half-day preschool, In November I will head back to work and we'll adopt a whole new routine.

7. When was your last random act of kindness and what was it?
In June my neighbor was in the Dunkin Donuts drive thru line right behind me, so I paid for his breakfast when I got to the window. We're fortunate to have pretty fantastic neighbors and I was happy to do something nice for him.

8. What is your favorite type of food?
I am not a fancy food eater. My food tastes aren't diverse in any way, and I could probably live off of the kids menu at most restaurants, but overall I prefer cold foods. No, not Italiano or Mexican (though I do love me some tacos and guac...) If its on a hoagie, I can't get enough. Pasta salads, potato salads, even cold pizza are all preferable to me over most hot prepared meals. Weird I know. The only exception? A good basket of chicken fingers and french fries. Classy huh?

9. What is one of your pet peeves?
Only one?? I can't stand when drivers use their blinkers, but even more so reckless drivers weaving in and out of traffic while not using a blinker. I'm sorry, am I an obstacle on your road course, or are we all trying to get somewhere here buddy?

10. Name some of your favorite musicians.
I love Mumford and Sons and Guster, Ray LaMontagne, Amos Lee, Jason Mraz, Justin Nozuka, James Morrison, The Band Perry, Miranda Lambert and all the old school 90's bands that make up the soundtrack of my childhood (Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Live...)

11. Are you more of an early bird or night owl?
I am definitely an early bird. I've always woken up with a smile, ever since I was a baby. Nowadays I actually really enjoy being up before the rest of the house is awake.  Sadly, it's really hard to stay awake once the sun goes down. I remember when we used to be getting ready to go out at 10pm, now I consider it a pretty big accomplishment to stay up past midnight. 

Blogs I Nominate: Now it's my turn! I nominate the following blogs to claim their own Liebster Award (you are by no means required to participate, but I would love it if you would! I apologize [but go you!] if you have more than 200 followers, sometimes you can't tell!)


Here are 11 questions for my nominees...
1. If there was a movie made based on your life, who woud play you and why?
2. What was the last thing you Googled?
3. What is one of your guilty pleasures?
4. What is something you know now that you wish you knew "then?"
5. What do you consider to be one of your greatest accomplishments?
6. What is one thing not many people know about you?
7. If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about your life, would you? What would it be?
8. What is your favorite Disney movie?
9. What is something you've never done, but woud like to try?
10. Where is your favorite pace to be?
11. What is your favorite blog post you've written?

Ok! Now it's your turn- don't forget to mention me in your post and please comment below with a link to your post so that I can check out your answers and say hello!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Last {Five Minute Friday}

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-GO-

We met on the first day of middle school in 1995. She walked into homeroom and slammed down her Jansport, then stormed back out into the hallway. I thought immediately that I would not get along with this girl, but first impressions don't always last...

Fast-forward five years and she is my best friend after 4 years of High School. Our friendship would last forever. We traveled between Massachusetts and New Jersey to visit each other in college and eventually transferred to Rutgers together to finish our last year of University as roomies, then both went on to become teachers.

When I bought my first house in 2009 she was there. She picked out the paint color for "her room," the guest room, and bought a bottle of champagne to toast our milestone as we sat in lawn chairs in the living room, drinking from red solo cups.

On July 1st that same year, days away from our housewarming party and my 27th birthday, we spent the day together like best friends often do. She had made a collage for me to commemorate my first home, incorporating a piece of the damask wallpaper we put up, the date, and even the cork from the champagne. It was a cherished birthday present of memories that will last forever. That evening we went out for dinner and made plans for the summer. She left my house during a summer shower that left a beautiful rainbow in the sky.

The next morning I was awoken by a phone call from our close friend and her current roommate- she hadn't come home. She had met some friends out later that night and collided with an 18 wheeler around 2:30am on July 2nd. She was killed on impact.

I never thought the moments we shared together earlier that day would be our last, or that the message she left me to "check out the huge rainbow outside,' would be the last thing I would ever hear her say.

-STOP-

(Click on the button below for more information about 5 Minute Friday and how to get involved.)
Five Minute Friday

Thursday, August 22, 2013

10 Questions...

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This week I was invited to participate in the Ask Away Friday linkup by my girl Tiffany at mrsteelovelifelaughter.com. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this linky, it is fairly new and a great way to get to know your fellow bloggers. This week I have the honor of being one of their featured bloggers, and will be answering 10 questions about myself! Come join us and see what it's all about at mrsteeoflovelifelaughter.

So here are the questions I was asked to ponder and my answers, some of which were decided during a 4am nursing session (please excuse if there's a touch of delirium involved...)

When did you first realize you had a love of art/crafts?
I honestly think it's in my blood. I don't remember a time when I wasn't thrilled by a brand new coloring book and box of Crayons (you should see me cringe to watch my 3-year-old rip off the paper and break them in half.) Also, both my Grandfathers were artists. I remember my Grandpa endlessly working in the stained glass studio he had in his basement and watching in awe while my Poppy quickly sketched an exact copy of anything you asked him to. Sadly neither one of them lived long enough to see where my art has taken me today, buy I am grateful for all they have inspired to get me here.

What is the weirdest thing a student has ever asked you?
Haha...oh man. For those of you who don't know, I am a full-time middle school art teacher covering grades 6-8 going on eight years now. I'm not a saint, nor do I have the patience of one, but I consider myself lucky to work in a small town that appreciates the arts and allows me to connect with the 400 students in the school every year. I watch these kids grow and mature during one of the most challenging and confusing times in their life and have learned to laugh with them, cry with them, dance with them, and did I mention laugh with them?? Middle schoolers are HILarious. I have been invited to parties and barmitzvahs, declined numerous Facebook friend requests, a marriage proposal, had students ask to come to my wedding, watch my children, name my children after them...the list goes on. All of these things have become a normal part of my daily routine, so I guess none are really weird to me, but always amusing.

What has been your favorite project up to now?
Hmmm...I go through "creative moods" a lot where I completely devote myself to a specific type of fine art or craft, and then just like that I'm over it and on to something new. This is why I always refer to myself as the queen of unfinished projects. It's also why I have never really been able to sell much of my artwork because as soon as I get lots of orders for things, I'm on to something new. I guess a particular fave would be the bird silhouette palette as pictured in my header. I really love working with wood and I found that particular wood piece on the beach in the Outer Banks after hurricane Irene. It kinda looks like a palette, but I'm not sure what it actually is or where it came from. I posted about the bird palette silhouette here if you're interested. It was also the DIY that inspired me to blog! I'm also really proud of the first large-scale mural I was commissioned to paint in the Teen Center in my school district last summer. They gave me a lot of creative freedom to do whatever I wanted, with a few requests here and there. The finished product really exceeded my expectations and it was a lot of fun to paint.

It was a really long, skinny room so it was impossible to get shot of the whole wall without walking out into the hallway and then the door frame blocked the far end of the mural. (I have since gotten the Iphone 5 so I will have to try out the panoramic setting on the camera and take another shot soon.) 


How did you meet your husband?
John and I actually met online in 2004 on one of the first dating sites in operation, AmericanSingles.com which has since merged with Spark.com. He was one of the first people I interacted with, and the second person I actually met through the site. At the time online dating wasn't nearly as common or acceptable as it has become and I feel eternally lucky to have found him rather than continue to try and search for Mr. Right amid the Rutgers bar scene. Three years later we were out at a fancy restaurant in one of our favorite spots in New Hope, PA, and he proposed to me in a game of hang man. I happily accepted and met my closest friends and family who, to my surprise, had come to celebrate with us that night.

What's your favorite color?
PURPLE! (or Violet ;)

Do you like to cook?
The short answer? No, and I don't despite the best efforts of my friends and family to encourage me. That's where my creativity screeches to an abrupt halt. My best friend is a major foodie and fantastic cook. She recently bought me a crock pot so I can experience the joys of creating a meal with little to no effort involved. I plan to give it a go, but I would be just as happy living on a similar diet to my picky first born: chicken fingers, grilled cheese, and pizza. The punchline? My mom has been a Home Economics teacher for 30+ years.

What's your favorite movie?
I big in to movies. Before having kids, John and I used to see a movie almost every weekend, and there have been many that I've loved. I could spout off my favorite in each genre, but this is already getting to be a bit wordy so instead I'll just tell you that one movie I could never get sick of, and outwardly love so much so that random people will actually Facebook me to tell me when it's on TV:  Dirty Dancing. When I hear those 3 drum beats that cue the beginning of The Ronettes "Be My Baby" I get goose bumps.



What is the last song you played on you iPod/Iphone?
    <sigh> Sadly...
If I were choosing, it would most likely be Mumford and Sons.

Do you have a favorite nail color? If so, what is it?
Believe it or not I am THE worst at painting my nails. I know, I can paint a mural, but not a fingernail, go figure. When I do go to the salon, I've been doing minty greens, pale pinks or black, but being that it's such a rare occasion I actually have been loving the Sally Hansen Peel and Stick Polish. This polka dot one was a recent fave:

*What's in your purse right now? (a pic would be awesome)
Actually my purse is sadly empty right now, save for a lone Cherry Chapstick.

 The contents, which typically include: my Iphone case/wallet, my keys, my Vera Bradley sunglasses case (NY&Co. sunglasses included) a bottled water, (and Cherry Chapstick, there's always one in every bag might be carrying. I'm lost without it...) are divided between any of the 3 diaper bags we've been using (Ruby's bag, Violet's bag or the Violet and Ruby bag.)

*Question borrowed by mrsteelovelifelaughter.com from TheVanillaHousewife.com questions to Mrs-AOK from last week's #AskAwayFriday


So that's it! I hope you enjoyed my answers and can take a moment to follow the link to join in! Great questions Tiffany!


           MrsteeLoveLifeLaughter 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Small {Five Minute Friday}

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Being new to the blog-o-sphere, there are a lot of things that I am learning every day, including all the opportunities there are out there for bloggers to connect, share, and participate in fun blogging challenges, including the one I am about to embark on: Five Minute Friday as pioneered by Lisa-Jo Baker and company and introduced to me by my friend Beth at Structure in an Unstructured Life. I met Beth in a Facebook group I started with 2 other lovely ladies, Shauna @ MommaCandy.com and Chelsea @ Directionlessmom.com. After some chatting we all agreed that it might be fun to start a group for new bloggers to create an avenue for asking those "stupid questions" you have when you're just starting out and working through the myriad of things to consider when trying to launch a successful website (html what? Oooh those are cute little icons, where did you get those??) Come join us here!

Anyway- here I go 5 minutes (this should be interesting...it took me more than 5 mins to write the paragraph above...) This week's inspiration:


Two weeks ago I gave birth to our second little girl, Ruby Jean. At 6lbs.12oz. she was a tiny little thing, a whole pound lighter than her big sister Violet to the ounce. This time around I feel confident enough to handle her without the constant fear that her wobbly little neck might flop around and give away my inexperience. I got this now. One major difference though? Ruby is SO small. I look at Violet and I can't believe how big she is and how much she has grown into such a fun, quirky, kind hearted little 3 year old when I feel like it was just yesterday that I nervously drove home from the hospital, 20mph the whole way on a beautiful September day. The moment both these little girls came in to my life it was changed forever. Every step I take, I think about how it will affect them first. Looking at that little foot I can't help but wonder where her steps will take her. From those first few wobbly ones, to the joyful dancing leaps and bounds of a toddler exploring the beauty of dancing so carefree and happy. Those feet will take her through her first day of school, and her first dance, feel the sand of the jersey shore and her first pair of heels. All these things are inevitable, but if I could put all my love, hope and heart into any wish in the world it would be that those feet are strong and lead her down a path that sprouts courage, compassion, creativity and happiness with every step she takes, and for the love of god, keep those little feet and everything attached to it, safe.

video
Violet's first steps.



Five Minute Friday
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Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Dreamy Nest for Baby

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With a little DIY and some repurposing, I built a nursery for our second little girl. With our existing furniture and paint color, plus a few key accessories John's "Yankee Room" was transformed (not without a few manly tears...)

funky, colorful nursery, baby girl, DIY, eclectic. colorful

After spending a good amount of money on all the trimmings for my oldest daughter, Violet's nursery 3 years ago, I realized a few things this time around- for one thing, all-in-one crib sets are not cheap. I didn't want to reuse Violet's bedding because I felt strongly that both girls rooms should have their own "feel." Maybe that's just my way of justifying the fact that my taste and color mood has completely changed. I guess I just wanted to flex my interior decorating muscles and put to use some of the amazing things I've seen on Pinterest. It was barely off the ground when Violet was born and if you're a Pinterest lover like me, you know how the inspiration to be had in just a 10 minute peruse of that site is pretty intense, nevermind 9+ months of planning. Basically, there was no need to buy everything all over again, so I started this Pinterest board to help inspire a direction for what I was hoping would be a comfy, eclectic feel for our second daughter, Ruby.

Here are a few of the things I came up with...

Palette, Silhouette, bird, wood, distressed, DIY

DIY #1: Palette Silhouette

Theme-wise I was thinking hot air balloons, but the more pregnant I got and the more research I did, somehow it ended up being birds. They both fly, so they're kind of the same, right? Not really, but in the end I just couldn't figure out how I was going to easily make all the hot air balloon accessories and I couldn't really find the vintage-style balloons that I was looking for. Anyhow, I made this palette piece a long time ago and it was just sitting around waiting for the perfect place to be put on display. Here's the link to the DIY I previously posted: Bird Silhouette on Palette. It's now quite comfy above the changing table.




DIY #2:

DIY, crochet bumpers, nursery, tree decals, bird theme nursery

DIY nursery, crochet bumpers, girls nursery


Crib bumpers are pricey and to be honest, all the articles I've read about them being a suffocation hazard kept me up nights with my nose pressed against the video monitor screen to make sure Violet hadn't squished hers against the fluffy, fabric ones that came with her crib set. We eventually bought the mesh breathable bumpers that became so popular, but they were a plain, old brown and I mourned the loss of the pretty colors and fabric that added so much style to her bed. This time around I assumed 3 years later there would be more options for this mesh-style bumper, but despite my research I didn't find anything in the stores other than some polka-dots and stripes. Naturally, my next stop was Google and Etsy. When I searched breathable bumpers I found the image below.

 "All Things Granny" on Etsy sells lots of cute, crochet stuff and at one time was crafting these bumpers made by joining granny squares together. Of course, I'm always up for some DIY, so I decided to start crocheting me some squares! My crochet skills are decent at most, and granny squares are pretty basic, so I started by following this tutorial and decided to go with 5 alternating colors (black, gray, peach, mint, and coral) ending in white each time for a total of 6 rounds/colors. I made about 25 of them just to be safe, but only really needed about 20 after they were joined together and edged with the peach. There are lots of ways to join granny squares, but I like this one that I found at Carina's Craft Blog. Once they were all joined, I edged the entire thing with peach to widen it a bit, and then trimmed it once more around with a white, single crochet stitch. It was easy to add some ribbon to tie them on, but make sure to buy a few spools because they are bit more floppy than the traditional bumpers and need to be fastened to the crib in a few more spots.

bird theme nursery, girl nursery

DIY #3: Fabric Birds

Aaand so goes the bird theme. Not the most original, but I blame it on these adorable fabric birds. I don't remember how I came across this mobile and  fabric bird patternbut when I did the whole plan for the room just sort of came together. I had hoped to make the mobile with actual branches and all, but I had been eyeing up those filament bulb string lights at Target for a while and really wanted to do some sort of light effect in the room since I did something like that above Violet's crib (below.)
The goal was to make the lights look like they were strung on the birch trees which are decals I purchased at Nursery Decals N More on Etsy. They went up really easily- I managed to do it myself 7 months pregnant! Each tree was 2 pieces and the branches, leaves, and birds (you pick the color) are separate. Anyway, back to the birds...I've included some pictures below of a bit of the process. Along with the directions as laid out on the pattern (follow the link above) and a bit of hand stitching you can probably complete one in about 40 minutes. With a sewing machine I'd imagine the time would be cut in half. I unfortunately have less than average sewing skills (did I ever mention that my mom is a Home Economics teacher? Yeah, I don't cook either...) so I opted to do a simple basting stitch all the way around. I even tried to do it with hot glue instead...(HUGE fan of the glue gun...make sure to stay tuned for a future post detailing the no-sew trim I made to spice up the black roman shades in Ruby's room.)

Eventually I made about 6 birds and started crossing projects off my list that I knew I just wouldn't get to- including the actual incorporation of the mobile with branches for the birdies to perch on. SO, that's when I decided to attach them to the lights with some wire, and I think I made the right choice.

The fun doesn't stop there...

Thus is the beginning of my detailing all the DIY fun I had decorating Ruby's room. Granted I did spend about $200 on supplies and some decor (Home Goods anyone?? Don't even get me started. I could spend an hour in the pillow aisle alone...) but overall the whole thing was done by reusing, repurposing and crafting- and there's more! The next few posts will cover an EASY 10 minute makeover on a cheap particle board bookshelf (preview below!) Also, the fabric "R" for Rue's door I made to match the Violet's "V" I purchased at Anthropologie, but could no longer find on sale anywhere, as well as the trim I mentioned for the existing roman shades, and the burlap "Ruby" banner.

**Update: DIYs #4 and #5 posted for your viewing pleasure:

John's "Yankee Room" man cave is no more, all that's left is the "Don Mattingly Dr .sign above the door that was too high for me to reach without a ladder. We've since decided it's a cute reminder of the room's evolution though- a little bit of Yankee love doesn't hurt, and though he misses his space, we both know there are many memories to be made there that will far surpass even the love of a devoted fan.

And look how comfy she is! 

Hop along with us!
Happy Kids, Inc


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Kitchen Re-design

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One of my big goals in life is to make my house in to a place that really expresses my style. I want it to be funky and eclectic with a bit of that shabby, comfy feeling that comes with a home that is really lived in. A patchwork if you will ;) of all the colors and finishes I love (think burlap, tweed, leather and old wood, mixed with damask, sparkles, and lace.) On the way to getting there I will be sharing the progress with you and eventually get a house tour up (if there is ever a day when every room in this house is clean and I can whip out the Nikon to capture it...) You can see what a process this could be, not to mention I'm a bit moody when it comes to colors. I'm already pretty sick of the bright yellow walls in my living room, so hopefully by the time that day comes I won't decide I need to redecorate first.
A glimpse of the damask accent wall (which I still love) and the yellow
that I have a love-hate relationship with. Love it behind the gallery wall,
hate it everywhere else...


Anyway
-this post is about my kitchen. SO, I have been planning and pouring over Pinterest for ideas to inspire what will finally be the kitchen of my dreams. As I mentioned, I am super fickle when it comes to color and style. I am constantly going through, what I always call "color moods," obsessing over various color combinations and how they could work in different spaces.





The collection below is what I'm digging right now. I love the white subway tile with the dark grout, and I already have some fantastic, though maddeningly impossible to keep clean black and white checked floors. Prior to this I had been looking for a catch all for mail, pens, pencils, scissors, take out menus and all the things that float and land into our small kitchen space. I was considering a utility cart or buffet of sorts to occupy some generous empty space in my kitchen. As luck would have it, my Aunt was looking for a family member to take a hoosier that has been in our family for decades. It's gorgeous and absolutely perfect for the vibe I want our kitchen to have.

All sample from my Pinterest board.dedicated to my Kitchen re-design ideas, including an image in the bottom middle of the "before" shot of my kitchen.refinished cabinets, black and white floors, retro kitchen









<-----------Check out the family heirloom! The counter top slides out and there's a pretty, cherry red stripe around the edge to boot. Add some rustic wire basketry and a few accessories and it started to get quite comfortable in a space that seemed meant for it. Eventually I'm even hoping to get 2  folding stools that I can hang on the side a place for the girls to sit and eat a bowl of cereal or do homework.






Pulling it all Together




A friend of mine recently moved into a new place where they left behind some curtains (left) that I fell in love with instantly when I saw them. She was planning on replacing them anyway, and they have since become a great part of the design as well. To the right are the knobs from Anthropologie that I was deciding between for the first big project kitchen project- refinishing a small section of lower cabinets. In the end I decided on the colorful knobs, since it captured all the colors I was hoping to incorporate in to my new design scheme. 

Refinishing the Cabinets
I love a good piece of refinished furniture. Stenciled, painted, sleek and shiny, there are so many ways to give an old piece new life with a little time and care, but my favorite look will always be the distressed look. Layers of different paint color worn away over time (or artfully created to appear so) just has that comfy look that has always appealed to me. The eclectic feel I'm hoping to get in the kitchen can quickly go south without some careful planning, and though I have done my homework I was apprehensive to take a paintbrush to my untouched cabinets. Still, I have begun to realize that when making things happen, my style is do it now, ask questions later. Plus, it can always be repainted, right?

After sanding and removing hardware
Like most finished wood cabinets, mine had a clear coat (mostly worn away over time) and some normal kitchen buildup. A bit of sanding by hand to remove the sheen and prepare the surface to accept the new coat of paint, and I was ready to roll. I chose a mint green color and rolled it on with a 4in. roller. I removed the drawers to paint the fixture itself, and also drilled new holes for the new pulls and hardware, filling the old holes with paintable wood filler. Finally, I was ready to replace the drawers, paint them. I left it to dry over night and then the apprehension set in. As with most things when they are new, I agonized over whether or not I had chosen the right color. It was VERY different and it scared me a little, but I kept going as planned, and I'm so glad I did!








Distressed is Best...

Have I mentioned how much I adore sandpaper?

With a bit of medium grade sandpaper, I took to the edges of the cabinets to distress it a bit and let some of the original wood shine through, then attached the knobs and it was done. Like with any change, it took some getting used to, but as time has passed I have really started to love my kitchen again. I also found some time to make a big marquee letter "H" out of mat board and a set of big-bulb white lights! My extremely talented friend Jeff over at Rustic Wood Home on Etsy made me the floating pallet shelf  for it. I'm in love. I still have to get some paint on the walls and eventually tackle the back splash and counters, but that requires some time and a budget that I don't currently have. Here are some pics so far...

The DIY post for this is coming soon. -Stay tuned!


rustoleum chalkboard paint, DIY, how to paint with chalkboard paint
It's not the biggest kitchen in the world, so it's hard to get a good shot of the whole room, but hopefully you have an idea of how it's all coming together so far. Of course, one of my fave past DIYs to the right --->
my chalkboard fridge. A popular one in the Pinterest world. If you missed my post detailing my adventures with this baby, you can check it out here:
Painting my old, white fridge w/black chalkboard paint.



Hopefully I will be following up soon with some more of my adventures in decorating, including some of those bigger kitchen upgrades. Until then- I'd love to hear what you think!

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