our wee home

musings by michelle

Hope, almost 6 months old!

The past couple of weeks have brought dramatic changes to our little Hope.  She has started sitting with us at the table (in her little high chair that attaches to the table), rolling over, giggling, grabbing at and holding things, drooling, and putting things in her mouth.  She is very aware of her surroundings, observing it all!

She has spent the last six months in my care, or in the care of her grandparents… but starting on Thursday, she will be joining her older sister at her small in-home daycare.  I’m so grateful that my in-laws have watched her for the past few months – she is such a sweet and tiny baby, and I’m glad she got so many cuddles while she was so small.  But she has become much more interactive and watches Norah constantly, so I think this transition to daycare comes at the perfect time.  She will absolutely adore being around the other kids.

She ate her first couple of bites of real food last night… sweet potatoes!  She seemed to like it.  We’ll be trying to feed her some food in the evenings from here on out.

She was such a good sleeper early on, but for the last few weeks she has been waking up every 2-4 hours again.  I’m sure she is in a growth spurt, and all these developmental changes have happened too… but it’s taking a toll on mama!  I’ve had a break from work for the holidays, but will be returning on Thursday.  Hence starting her on food — I’m hoping it may help her sleep longer???  We will likely also start her on one bottle of formula (given by daddy), late night, to also see if it helps her sleep longer.

She’s still our little nugget!  She weighs in around 12 pounds.

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She remains to be considered “the happiest baby EVER,” not only by her adoring parents, but by just about everyone who meets her.  Just talk to her, and she will beam at you!  She literally wakes up happy.  I can only hope that she will always be like that!  What a great way to go through life, right?

December 31, 2013 Posted by | Just Life, Parenting | Leave a comment

Norah, at 20 months

Norah is a busy little girl these days. She plays all day long, and is often narrating her own activities. She has said a few complete sentences, but usually it’s still two word phrases: “socks on,” “burp baby,” “dark outside…” She knows exactly what she wants (and doesn’t want), but still can’t always communicate it to us. So we have a lot of crying and whining these days.

She still loves her baby sister, though still needs to be reminded to not put things in her sister’s face. She watches us take care of the baby and then mimics with her doll.

Her favorite activities are drawing with her markers, buckling (anything), putting socks and shoes on and off, watching Curious George or Babar the elephant, picking up sticks in the backyard, swinging at the park, standing on a step stool in the kitchen to “help,” and twirling around to “Ring Around the Rosie.”

Here she is riding on daddy’s shoulders at the park!

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October 29, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Back to work

I’m a week away from returning to work, and that reality is once again a bit tough to swallow. I’m sitting here, in the nursery, snuggling my sweet babe, and shedding some tears. I already miss her.

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October 4, 2013 Posted by | Just Life, Parenting | | Leave a comment

A kid-proof alternative to a coffee table

Pinterest has really changed my life, our house, and my husband’s list of projects. ;-) Really, though, it’s been a great source of new ideas for our home, and often, with detailed instructions on how to carry them out. People out there have some really great ideas, and it’s fun to be able to find and tap into them so easily!

So, here’s the latest. I had seen this pin, showing a shelf behind a couch.  I actually liked this idea for our basement “rec” room, but when I showed it to Matt, he wanted to do it in our living room.  And I quickly agreed — though we have side tables on each end of our couch, if you sit in the middle, there is nowhere to put your drink.  We don’t have a coffee table, we have a storage ottoman, and it’s precarious to put a glass on it.

Since we have an 18-month-old running around, we have constantly had to keep an eye on the TV remote and our beverages, so this would be perfect for keeping those things just a little more out of the way (though she CAN climb up on the couch).

So far, our intention is to keep this space purely functional, and not put any decorative items on it. Since we already have an adjacent wall full of floating shelves, I really don’t want to clutter up more space with things. This new shelf is actually pretty invisible unless we put something on it.

Here’s the (very easy!) breakdown: We bought a length of wood, cut it to the length of our couch, sanded it, stained it, put a couple coats of polyurethane on it, and hung it on the wall with four “L” brackets. Though we probably won’t use it to hold a lot of weight, we did screw all the “L” brackets into studs…. so if some kiddo tries to sit on it someday, hopefully it’ll stay put. We already had the sand paper, stain, and poly; so our only cost for this project was the wood ($18) and the brackets ($11).

Hi, our names are Michelle and Matt, and we have a floating shelf problem.

 

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September 5, 2013 Posted by | DIY, Home Improvements, On the cheap | , , | 3 Comments

Lists, and maternity leave

The time of life right after having a baby is so… weird.  It is a mix of so many opposites and extremes, and sometimes it’s hard to make sense of it all.  Please forgive me if this blog post (and many of the others during this time) are the ramblings of a half-crazy person.

I am considered very lucky, as an employed U.S. American woman, to have ten full paid weeks of maternity leave.  While paid maternity leave is guaranteed in many other countries (don’t get me started), it is certainly not here in the U.S.  While we do have a federal law that gives us the right to take up to 12 weeks off after having a baby and not be fired for it, employers are not required to pay you during that time.

I took ten weeks off when I had Norah, and will do the same this time.  However, my post-partum experience is proving to be quite different this time.  Last time, I was a weepy, sleep-deprived, and hormonal mess.  That’s pretty normal, right?  This time, it has certainly seemed easier in many respects.  I think it’s a combination of knowing what to expect AND lowering my expectations for myself during this time.  What do I mean by that?  Let me give you an example.

I tend to use lists a lot in life.  At work, I have a note pad where I keep weekly and monthly to-do items I need to tackle.  And usually, I keep a separate DAILY to-do list on a separate scrap of paper.  This daily list is written in a sharpie marker: one color to list the items, and another color to cross them off.  I find it incredibly satisfying to cross things off a list with a sharpie.  In fact, sometimes I’ll write an item on there that I’ve already done just to cross it off.

Anyway, speaking of lowering my expectations for myself during maternity leave… I have found that the only way I am able to function is to use the dry-erase board on my refrigerator and write every single thing on there that I want to accomplish that day (though it doesn’t guarantee I’ll get it done — just that I won’t forget it).  Here’s an example of a list for one day:

  • empty dishwasher
  • shower
  • water plants
  • nap
  • walk

Seriously. If I don’t make a list, I could end up spending the whole day on the couch feeding the baby and watching episode after episode of Lost on Netflix.  (Of course, this written list is separate from the un-written unspoken items of bathe the baby, rock the baby, feed the baby, change the baby’s diapers, etc.) To keep me even more on-task, I have set recurring daily reminders on my phone for walk (9am) and nap (2pm), just in case I’ve gotten distracted by then.  I also have an iphone app (ShopShop) for items I need to pick up at the store.

If I do not put something on my list I will most certainly forget it (though I may remember it during a 3am feeding a few nights later).  THIS is why maternity leave is awesome.  I’m really not sure that I could function outside my home right now, let alone in a professional capacity.  I mean, I actually have to remind myself in two separate ways each day to take a nap, even though my primary state of being is pure exhaustion.  Ironic, huh?

Not long ago, I read an article about the final days of Michael Jackson — symptoms of severe sleep deprivation, according to sleep expert:  “Depriving someone of REM sleep for a long period of time makes them paranoid, anxiety-filled, depressed, unable to learn, distracted and sloppy, Czeisler testified. They lose their balance and appetite while their physical reflexes get 10 times slower and their emotional responses 10 times stronger, he said.”  I read this article while I was still pregnant, and chuckled, because I knew this was waiting for me on the other side.

I’d love to get back a few IQ points before I need to interact with the public in a professional capacity.  The great news is that Hope slept for just shy of seven consecutive hours last night…!  She was eating every three hours up until a couple of nights ago. Here’s to hoping I can get it together during the next month!

September 3, 2013 Posted by | Parenting | Leave a comment

It’s the little things

We are excited that we have gotten a lot of the bigger house projects out of the way, so that we can start doing some of the smaller things that can make our lives easier. Today it was $16 ($20 with a 20% off coupon at Bed Bath & Beyond) that finally got our shoes out of a jumbled mess on our closet floor!

I even reused the box it came in to cut out supports for my tall boots. :)

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August 30, 2013 Posted by | DIY, Home Improvements, Just Life | | Leave a comment

Reclaimed wood wall art panels

Here’s my latest Pinterest-inspired project!

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Matt had torn down (and then rebuilt) an old fence in our backyard and so we had a bunch of pickets I could use for this project.  I had seen this pin on Pinterest, and thought it could be something that I could DIY.  I wanted something fairly large to hang on some empty walls in our basement rec room, so I thought this would be worth a shot, and enlarged some photos from our honeymoon. It turned out to be a pretty easy project, and I did all three for less than $30 since I already had a lot of the materials on hand.  Not bad, considering the original pin links to a similar item being sold for $110 each!

The pickets had already been cut to a similar length, thanks to our fence improvement project, so all I had to do was lay them out to form a square and them drill a couple pieces on the back to hold them all together. I varied the cut sides (some are at the top, and others at the bottom.

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I screwed them together from the back, so you don’t see them from the front. They are around 30″ square.

Then I added hanging hardware on the back, as well as some adhesive cork (it’s drawer liner) to the bottom corners to save the wall from getting scratched and to provide a bit of grip to keep them steady and even once hung. You could easily use other types of picture/frame stabilizers- I was just using what I had around.

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It was Matt’s idea to use upholstery tacks to hold the pictures in place – this way the art can be easily changed out.

I also put some poster board behind these photos to make them pop a bit more.

Here’s a budget breakdown of this project:
Wood – luckily free, we had it around
Screws – we already had these
Hanging hardware – $2
Cork for stabilizing – already had this, too
Poster board – $14! (Note to self, don’t send hubby to the craft store on an errand. He’s not a bargain hunter like me.)
Upholstery tacks – $2
Photo enlargements – $3 each at CostCo = $9
TOTAL: $27

I love the look of the weathered wood.  I’m a bit surprised by this, because I typically like really modern-style home furnishings… so this look is something I haven’t done before.  The art really fills up this wall, and I love that we can swap out the photos in the future, if we want.  What do you think?

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August 26, 2013 Posted by | DIY, Green living, Home Improvements, On the cheap | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The best and worst of newborns

The best things of having a newborn (again):
1. When you put them down, they’re still there when you go back later. Nuff said.
2. The happy Buddha face when they’ve got a full belly.
3. You get to snuggle them as much as you want… They can’t yet squirm away (nor do they want to)!

The worst things about having a newborn (again):
1. The razor sharp fingernails. Add sore nipples and flailing baby limbs to this, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
2. Lets address the elephant in the room: sleep deprivation. This special part of parental torture means that you are always one small mishap away from cracking. The yogurt container that jumps out of the fridge when you open the door now becomes an expletive-laced sob-inducing event, as opposed to just, “oops!” I guess it’s “irritability” on steroids.
3. Nursing loneliness. You spend several hours a day, sitting, alone with your newborn, feeding them. Depending on the day, or the hour, this item could also be on the “best” list. Sometimes you feel like you’re a spectator in life, because everyone else gets to carry on, doing things.

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August 25, 2013 Posted by | Parenting | 1 Comment

More floating shelves!

I think we are a bit obsessed with floating shelves.  We used them a lot in our previous (teeny) home for obvious reasons (space, or lack thereof!)… but now we just really love them.  I think we have them installed in every room of the main floor of our house.

I had been wanting to build this magnificent and modern/industrial shelving unit for our living room to put our TV on.  I was inspired by this.  I had priced it all out, drawn sketches, taken measurements, etc.  But the $350-ish price tag for materials and the amount of work it was going to take to assemble it… well, life seemed to get in the way of that actually happening.  So I found new inspiration that seemed a lot easier and cheaper – this pin on Pinterest.

So three $20 shelves from IKEA and less than an hour of labor transformed our living room and now we have this:

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It saved us from having to buy an expensive TV wall mount, and it provides much-needed shelf space for some decorative items and plants.  And my husband did such an amazing job hiding all the cords, don’t you think?  He found these gems (in white) at the hardware store, it allowed us to hide most of the cords for the TV, XBox, and stereo.  They just drop through behind the drywall.  That middle basket on the floor is actually hiding all the cords, outlet, and a subwoofer.

Even though there will always be a small part of me lusting after pipe shelving, we should have done this ages ago!

August 20, 2013 Posted by | DIY, Home Improvements, On the cheap | , , , , | 6 Comments

Hope’s birth

Today my daughter, Hope, is a month old.  Yet her due date was just four days ago.  I want to write down her birth story before it gets lost in the blur.  Having a newborn, I am fully in the blur right now.

Due to the bleeding episodes that I had due to a low-lying placenta during my pregnancy, I was hospitalized once at 26 weeks (for four days) and then again at 32 weeks (for four weeks).  The plan during my 2nd hospitalization was to stay put in the hospital until delivery.  I actually wrote a blog post about hospital bed rest, but it was such a pity party that I did not publish it on here.  Maybe I will someday.

The fact that I continued to have bleeding episodes throughout the end of the pregnancy indicated a danger of a major hemorrhage (also known as a placental abruption) that would have put my life and baby’s life in danger.  The perinatologists (high-risk OB’s) suggested that we deliver the baby at 37 weeks gestation.  I had been given steroids for the baby’s development, and overall, the outlook for a 37-gestation little girl was not risky…

However, during the 35th week, I had two more bleeding episodes, so the doctors recommended that we deliver at 36 weeks.  So, on July 17th, the doctors scheduled me for a cesarean for Friday, July 19th.  I asked for one more ultrasound to determine the location of the placenta; and after all this time of barely budging, the placenta was finally over 2 centimeters from the cervix, which was the minimum “required” by the doctors to try for a vaginal birth for a low placenta.  So just a couple hours before my scheduled cesarean, the plan changed and I opted for an induction instead.

While in some respects, this was a scarier option (risk of hemorrhaging and an emergency c-section), I still wanted to try.  I wanted to be spared the surgery and recovery, if possible.

The induction started around 1pm on July 19th.  I opted to have an epidural pretty early in the process, because I wanted to be awake if I needed an emergency c-section.  This meant I was stuck, horizontal, in bed through all of it.  I also was apparently pretty sensitive to the epidural, and it caused my normally low blood pressure to drop even further.  So I was woozy and weak off and on.  It felt awful.

Quite a difference from the unmedicated birth I had with Norah! I had regular contractions through all of it, but was not dilating much.  By 7am the following morning I was still only 2cm dilated.  They broke my bag of waters shortly thereafter, and I finally managed to doze for a couple of hours after that.  This is when my paranoia was hard to manage, because having amniotic fluid leak out of you feels exactly like the scary bleeds I had been having for weeks.  I kept needing to be reassured that it was amniotic fluid, and not blood (since I couldn’t see over my belly!).

Sometime before 11am, they checked my progress, and I was fully dialated!  They immediately started to get the room prepped, and I continued to be a basket case about bleeding.  They kept reassuring me that it was a normal amount of blood for a birth.  I pushed for maybe 10 minutes, and Hope was born.  She, like her older sister, had the umbilical cord around her neck twice… but once again, the docs simply unwound it, and she was fine.  In fact, she screamed and recovered from birth much quicker and better than Norah did.  Her first Apgar score was 8, amazingly.  She was so teeny tiny, but so strong.  She weighed 5 pounds 8 ounces and was 18 3/4 inches long.  She nursed within minutes of being born.

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She is named after her great-great-grandmother.  And her middle name, Victoria, is after her grandfather, Victor.

I am so grateful that everything turned out so perfectly, especially after such a scary pregnancy.  And strangely, I am actually really glad that I got to experience both an unmedicated birth, and a full-on medicated birth.  They were such incredibly different experiences!  While I hated the feeling of the epidural (both the numb legs and the low blood pressure wooziness), being stuck in bed with so many tubes going in and out of me, and just overall the medical nature of it… the positives were that I would say that overall I experienced discomfort, not pain — and because of that, I felt so much more present for this birth.  Because I was not lost in the pain, I have a clearer memory of Hope’s arrival and I got to experience the emotions of giving birth.  I cried tears of joy when I got to hold her for the first time.  With Norah’s birth, I was still in incredible pain and just in shock, I think, when she was born.

Because Hope was so strong, and I think they took pity on me having been in the hospital for four weeks; we were released to go home the next day.  Luckily my insurance provides for an in-home visit from the nurse, so that we could go home, but still have Hope checked 48 hours after birth.

Hope received donor breast milk for the first few days of life, until my own milk came in.  The reason for this is that they don’t want such small babies to lose too much of their birth weight.  She has proven to be a great eater and is growing very well so far.

I am so happy that I have two healthy little girls.  And I am ecstatic that I never plan to be pregnant again!  =)

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August 20, 2013 Posted by | Just Life, Parenting | Leave a comment

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