Monday, March 31, 2014

Kids' room update and DIY window seat bench

Happy Monday, friends!

We are so excited to be able to give you a little glimpse of all the work we've been doing in the kids' room.  The nursery has to be cleared to make way for a new occupant at the end of the summer, and we decided that if they have to live together, the big ones will be forced to get along and love each other.  Seems like that's got to work, right?  

Leah's room was the very first one we actually took on when we moved into the house.  Sweet little Logan was one week old, Leah was only three or four months out of her crib.  {Yes, she was also two and a half.  What?  That kid loved her crib!}  It was a sweet little room, done with lots of love.  Perhaps a little rushed and a little premature, but as our first, we couldn't have anticipated how quickly she'd go from two to Big Kid.  
Notice the ultrasound photo?  All that stuff above her bed was stolen pretty much directly from the nursery.  Wow did she outgrow it quickly!

Now that we're moving Logan in, the goal is different: create a room that will grow with them and still be relevant in five years.  Although it's quite possible the occupants of the room will change over the years, we're trying to create a space that will be functional for kids (note: I didn't say babies or toddlers!  YIKES!)

So there's a few things happening.  The first - and by far most important - is this lovely paneling that has been installed by my wonderful husband.  

Isn't it fabulous?  

It has since received a fresh coat of white {and looks ah-ma-zing if I do say so myself}, and the entire room has gotten a new coat of paint.  New light fixtures, that absolutely awesome set of book shelves that I am so stinkin' excited about.  More photos of all of that are forthcoming (probably when we're a little further along on the whole being finished front), but today, we're excited to show you our latest DIY project.


We were lucky that we didn't have to build this little nook; it is one of my favorite features about the room even though it's pretty tiny (6' x 1' - perfect for little hinies even though mine kinda hangs over the edge).

Here's what we used:
:: 6' x 1' x 1" pine board
:: 4" foam pad (by far the most expensive part of this project, by the way.  Bring a coupon if you can)
:: 2.5 yards fabric

My plan was to simply put the board underneath the foam, but Casey had other plans.  He wasn't thrilled with the way the edges came together.  Instead, he carved out the center of the foam pad using our electric bread knife - which sounds crazy but worked like gangbusters - so that it fit snugly.

I'll leave it to your good judgement whether you're crazy enough willing to tackle that project.

We laid the fabric out smooth on the floor, which may or may not have taken a try or two, given all the help we get on our projects.  I've mentioned it before, but man do we have helpful children.  By the way, how much are you loving those chubby ankles?  I know what I'll be checking out all summer!

With the foam/board on top, we simply aligned the fabric so that it was straight.  Super easy to do if you have a pattern that repeats, not that easy if you're using stripes or chevron since it will show.

Once aligned, we simply used the electric stapler to secure the fabric to the board. 

It took a little bit of doing to ensure that the fabric was smooth on the front, but we pulled the fabric tightly, wrapped it around and secured it, again with staples.  

The foam was just a hair too long, so out came the handy bread knife again.  To secure the ends, we wrapped them literally like a present and stapled.  Yes, the underside is a total and complete mess...

...but it absolutely doesn't matter, since no one will see it!  As long as the front looks good, we're golden.  Casey also added L brackets to the back and sides to secure the bench to the wall.

So here we are.  Before:


And let me tell you, those kids are loving it!

Because, really... who wouldn't?!

I'll admit it: I'm completely, beyond excited to get all the pieces in place and finish this re-model.  And that little guy up there?  He totally gets that this is going to be his room too, and he cannot wait.  He'd move in tomorrow, even if he had to sleep on the floor since the bunk beds aren't here yet.  

Alright, one more sneak peek, because I can't resist:

I know.  I can't wait, either.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A pretty 'Lil Surprise

This week, we hit one of my absolute favorite milestones of pregnancy: the 20 week ultrasound, aka the "gender ultrasound."


Guess what????

IT'S A GIRL!!!!!

Or maybe...

IT'S A BOY!!!!

Alright, that was kinda mean.  Actually, the answer is currently sitting in an envelope in an unknown (by me) location, because after all that stress and anxiety about not finding out, I decided there was no way in the world I was going to be able to just leave that information never to be seen again.  I haven't caved and I don't know our baby's gender, but the point is that I could do both of those things if I decide to - and that makes all the difference!

And let me tell you, I really, really looked.  Hard.  It's a very good thing that Casey and I aren't responsible for actually reading those things and disseminating potentially life-changing information to expectant parents.  Because here's what I saw between Baby's legs: first something that maybe might possibly have lead to something boy-part-like, and upon closer examination, a complete and total lack of anything boy-part looking.  I'm only sure that it's not definitively a boy - unlike Logan, who was decidedly male from his first debut moment on ultrasound screen.  So, while it's possible that we're having an androgynous baby, I think it's much more likely that we just completely suck at reading ultrasounds, and Little Surprise remains exactly that: a surprise.

It's still amazing to me just how much we can see while that tiny human is still living in my belly.  We saw the four chambers of the heart, the hemispheres of the brain, femur and all ten adorable little fingers.  The best part was the moment that pretty little profile appeared on the screen.  That moment - though it's my third time through - still overwhelmed me with emotion and made me cry.

And so, our sweet Little Surprise, we'll be seeing you.  We're lucky, blessed beyond words, and oh so thankful that you're happy and healthy in there.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Half baked, take 3

I can say with complete honesty that this has been the fastest pregnancy to date.  Like, light-speed.

I'm still not completely sure how we got here, and I honestly can't fathom the fact that I'm halfway through this pregnancy. 

Until about three or four days ago, all had been extremely quiet on the baby front, and our Little Surprise was giving me trouble by not moving around and letting Mommy know all's well.

It's Logan's fault, really.  What with his moving and contracting from such an early point in my pregnancy, that kid has me expecting to feel summersaults from 15 weeks.  I've spent the last probably six weeks troubling over the fact that I'm not feeling movement even though that's still completely in the safe zone.  There was a good 10 day period where I convinced myself I'd absolutely lost the baby.  Several nights in a row, I cried myself to sleep imagining the worst, though I was assured by nurses we were probably fine. When I heard that healthy little heartbeat at my doctor's appointment, how the tears flowed!

There's a scene in the Sex and the City movie which always struck a chord with me. 

Carrie and Charlotte are shopping, and Carrie asks her why she's quit running after finding out about her pregnancy.  She responds: 
"I have everything I ever wanted.  I'm so happy that I'm terrified.  No one gets everything they want... Of course something bad is going to happen to me."

And here I am.  Two beautiful, smart, healthy and happy little ones who call me mom, and this big pregnant belly.  What kind of a glutton am I that I think I'm entitled to another?  Without so much as trouble getting pregnant or a miscarriage to speak of.  How did that happen?

I don't know the answer, but I am oh so thankful it did.  And so very grateful that this Little Surprise has begun to wiggle to give me a little peace of mind about his or her well being.  Grateful that, for whatever crazy reason, this turned out to be in the cards for us.  I could go on, but that's probably enough of that for one day.

In lighter news, I feel great.  So great.  The morning sickness has ebbed and I've been able to go back to eating a normal diet.  I've been able to exercise, though the sciatica I get with every pregnancy means that I have to be careful about which exercises and how much.  The point?  I'm exercising!  And not just walking and swimming like in previous pregnancies per doc's recommendations!  That's a big deal for me.  

I don't have very many cravings, though I could eat a spicy Santiago's breakfast burrito every single day.  There's never a time those don't sound amazing to me.  I've also been able to go back to eating salad, which is another milestone for me since in the first 16 or more weeks even the thought of a salad made me gag.  The only time I ate one, I promptly threw it up again. (I know you wanted to know that!)

I'm still convinced this baby is a girl, and I'm having major anxiety about the fact that we won't find out.  The last two nights in a row, I've woken up at 4 a.m. with crazy dreams about our upcoming would-be gender ultrasound.  Two nights ago, I dreamed that I convinced Casey to do the same thing we did four years ago and have a pink or blue cake baked (in my dream, the cake was pink, by the way).  Last night, dream-Melissa just sat in the ultrasound room and cried.  I think it's safe to say that I have some issues related to not finding out gender.  Type-A rears its ugly head.... we shall see whether I can keep from caving...

As for naming this baby, we're holding strong with "Hey You."  Girl or boy, it doesn't really matter.  Little Surprise is growing on me, too, though I'm not sure what it'll do for Baby's chances of being president. 

Nesting is a thing, and it's happening.  Twenty weeks doesn't seem like enough time to do all the things that need to happen before this baby arrives.  The kids' room has to be done.  Leah needs to be night-time potty trained.  The big one has to practice sleeping on a top bunk.  The little one has to be moved to a big-kid bed.  The nursery has to be redone (since, well, it was never actually finished to begin with, and what was done was done for a boy).  I may or may not have crazy pregnancy dreams about all those things, too.

It's definitely my third pregnancy, because this is the very first photo I've taken of the belly, which is either lovely and refreshing or kinda sad, depending on which way you look at it.

{Just in case you were under the impression that each and every pregnancy is the same, or that pregnancy doesn't have a lasting effect on the body...}

Twenty weeks down!  One very, very loved Little Surprise.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A ballerina birthday

This face.

Oh my word, it is the highlight of my very existence.  That smile.  Those eyes.  The obvious anticipation and delight.

We celebrated our tiny dancer with exactly what she asked for: a ballerina party.  Actually, if I'm being precise, what she asked for was a ballerina princess party, but truth be told I wasn't sure how to make that all come to pass.  It was every bit as sweet and lovely as she is.

We started with this invitation:

...which I admit I found at this adorable etsy shop, and, since it was exactly what I wanted, we went ahead and worked from there. Typically I like to do this stuff myself, but this was really just too perfect to pass up.

We set up cupcakes and cakes in the dining room with a few simple embellishments.

Other snacks included caprese sandwiches, mini quiche, heart-shaped peanut butter and jelly tea sandwiches and popcorn.

All was definitely enjoyed by the littles!

My favorite part was that each child had a tutu and looked absolutely adorable in their ballet attire.

Case in point?

The skirts came in very handy for a little dance party.  You know who knows how to dance like no one's watching?  Four year olds.

And man, can they twirl.

Not to be outdone, the babies had their own little dance party.

...Or, at least, they took turns slobbering on things and showing off their new found sit-up skills.  Which is pretty much the same thing.

And the cake.  Oh how happy I was that this silly cake turned out!

A pink cake with pink frosting was the birthday girl's request.  The plan was simple, but I had the toughest time making this darn cake!  If it wasn't the center sticking to the pan, it was the frosting getting too warm and sliding down the side.  

But we got there in the end!

And it was so worth it...

Every year, I'll admit to feeling a little silly for going through all this craziness over a birthday.  Part of me worries that it's too indulgent and over the top.

But the truth is that I'm strongly aware of the finite number of birthdays I'll have to celebrate with her.  Though I certainly hope she'll have many, many ahead of her, in a few short years she'll prefer to spend them with her friends doing things of her choice, which most likely won't involve her mom's homemade cake and decorations.  I can't help but feel like it's important for me to take advantage of these opportunities to make her feel loved and special.

More than that, for a second year in a row, she came downstairs with such awe and wonderment on her face.  She looked at everything and said, "Wow, Mom.  Thanks for planning this party!"  She told her daddy over and over again how much she loves him.  In other words, her little heart was filled with gratitude, joy and love, and she had so much fun!  As long as that continues to be the case, every second of planning is worth it.

Times, like, a million.

Monday, March 10, 2014

A letter to my four year old

My wonderful four year old girl,

They warned me, back when you were really just a dream inside my very round belly.  Those strangers who wisely proclaimed, "enjoy every moment.  It goes so fast."  They were right.  My tiny, fragile new baby with her overeager, overprotective and overawed new mommy.

Someday, my beautiful darling, when you hold your very first baby for the very first time, you too will know a love that takes you over, body and soul, and claims you as an entirely new being: a creature the stuff dreams are made of; someone named mom.

What they do not tell you is how wonderfully amazing the journey will be.  Four little years, but so much has changed and - though it's cliche and I say it every year - the truth is that I love you more each day.  To see you grow into the most amazing child: someone who is strong and brave, who is smart, kind and oh so loving.  Someone who seeks to do right.  Someone with such compassion and maturity for one so young. Someone who loves God and her family, reading and learning, and has a kickin' vocabulary and voice of her own - which she isn't afraid to use, I might add.

I know that the years to come will bring more change, but in my heart I hope that these values will stay with you and become the cornerstone of who you are.  Because, let's face it, in my humble and totally biased opinion, you are completely awesome.

You fill my days with words.  So many that sometimes I reach the end of the day completely exhausted and spent, wishing for nothing more than silence.  But the truth is that I wouldn't have it any other way. That great big mind of yours finds wonder and delight in everything around you, and far be it from me to stifle your curiosity or opinions.

Sometimes I long for the days that I could be both your momma and your friend.  The days when your desires ran entirely in sync with my own.  While I may not always be able to let you do everything you want, when you want it, know that you are loved enough for me to know when to say no.  Loved enough that your mommy wants you to become the very best version of yourself.

Whatever else may change, that one thing will always remain constant: You are so loved.  So, so very loved.

Happy birthday, my beautiful girl.


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