Nov 24, 2013

3 + 100 = Fun!

It's a landmark moment. Little Wild Man has turned THREE! When did this happen?? I swear it was yesterday he was a pudgy little wiggle worm, happily sloshing pureed prunes and avocado chunks all over himself while babbling incoherently. Now he's a slim, coordinated pre-schooler {I think he's officially now a pre-schooler and not a toddler?} who can feed himself a sandwich and speak to me in full sentences. I'm so proud of him, and thrilled we survived another year, but it's bittersweet too. Will every birthday feel like this for us mamas and papas? It's amazing to watch your kiddos grow into little people, but oh so hard to let go of the notion of them as snuggly, needy newborns.

Little wild man is coming into his own as he strides into his third year. Here's what I know about him right now: he knows what he wants and is great at communicating those needs. He is intense, smart and observant. You cannot slide anything by this kid. You have to earn his trust (my mama bear instincts tell me this is a great personality trait). He is intuitive, empathetic and feels things deeply. What an honor that he's let me peek into his beautiful little soul and get to know him. I can only hope he'll continue to let me do so as the years go on!

The other landmark news? This is my 100th blog post! It took over a year to get here, but I'd still say it's cause for celebration! In honor of this momentous occasion, I thought about doing a giveaway - but then I realized I'd need something to actually give, and enough readers to warrant a drawing, ha! Instead I'll just share a quick tutorial with you on this rad teepee Ben and I made for Max's birthday. Seriously. Ben and I sat inside it and drank wine for an hour once it was assembled; it's fun even if you don't have kids. {In the interest of time, these are all unedited iPhone photos. Perhaps I'll take some better photos one day. Or perhaps not.}


A few notes: This project took several naps and several evenings (and glasses of wine) after the kids were asleep. If kids being asleep isn't an issue for you, I imagine you could knock it out in a weekend. And if you actually know how to operate your sewing machine - yeah, that would speed things up, too. This involves quite a bit of sewing, but the sewing is basic and once it's assembled, the teepee is very forgiving of squiggly seams and uneven fabric panels. Since we had a free corner in our living room, we opted to go big. This teepee will easily fit our whole family and then some, but you can scale down to suit your own space.


These are the two tutorials I leaned on most heavily (these people clearly know how to actually sew), but there came a point when I veered too far from the instructions and just started making things up, so I can only take you so far in this process!:

Makes Me Smile blog : Check out the AWESOME sketch of how all the pieces go together. I also loved the hilarious commentary.

Smile and Wave blog : This is what I used for all my measurements.

Here's a rough idea of how this all went down:

1. Gather supplies.

* 6 - eight foot 1" x 2" x 8' pine "poles" from the hardware store
* 1 - 9x12 canvas drop cloth
* Around 3 yards cream colored ribbon
* 12 inches of 1/4" elastic
* small role of rope or strong leather
* 1 yard extra fabric for door flaps

2. Assemble poles. You can make your teepee shorter, but we stuck with the 8' height of our poles. We measured 12" down from the top and Ben drilled a 1/4" hole in each pole. Stack the poles on top of one another and thread your rope straight through (a piece of tape around the end of the rope helps keep it from fraying as you work it through). At this point, we stood up the poles and tied the rope loosely where we thought we'd want them to stand.

3. Congratulate yourselves on being "half way done." Enjoy the small victory, because you're really not even close to half way done.

4. Create five fabric panels. {The sixth panel will be the door, which I made larger than the other sides.} After draping up the drop cloth and playing around with it, I decided to follow all of the measurements given at the Smile and Wave blog tutorial: 4" at the top, 38" at the bottom, and 80" tall. I thought it seemed huge, but thank goodness I stuck with the suggested dimensions, because they gave me plenty of wiggle room to correct my mistakes. I used Max's sidewalk chalk, a yardstick, and a patient hubby to help double check my measurements and hold everything in place while I drew out my panels (they look like a triangle with a flat top, for lack of a better description). Then I cut them out and, before going to bed, congratulated myself once again on being half way done. This time I was much closer, but still not half way.


5. Stitch panels together, along with inner ribbon ties, leaving the ends open for the door panel, which went on last. I won't pretend to have any advice on sewing, other than trying to avoid losing your sewing machine manual and wasting precious time watching out-of-focus youtube videos about how to thread your needle. I loved the suggestion from Makes Me Smile blog to fold over about 12" of ribbon and tuck it into your seams before sewing. (These ribbons tie around your poles to keep things in place). You end up with little tabs in the front, but Ben and I thought they looked cool. Plus I saved tons of time because I didn't have to stitch them on by hand at the end. This is the only photo I snapped in the midst of sewing, but you can kind of see the tab sticking out between the panels.



6. Create the door panel. This is where I went renegade and thought I could toss my tutorials to the wind. Oops. I measured and cut a canvas triangle for the upper portion of the door and sewed that on. Then I cut my owl-print fabric in half, hemmed the inside edges, and pinned them onto our set-up teepee to make sure I got the flaps where I wanted them. I eventually got things reasonably lined up and sewn into place, but I'm pretty sure there's a simpler method in either of the tutorials above. (Like maybe sew the entire front panel together FIRST, then attach it to the teepee).

7. Elasticize. Fold the top edges over about 1/2" or more, and stitch all the way around. Attach elastic (I think we used less than 6 inches after testing it out on the poles) to a safety pin and work it through, sewing at the beginning and end to secure.

8. Hem the bottom.

7. Set up, embellish, and snuggle in with your favorite people! We added these twinkly LED lights from Amazon. I love that they are cool to the touch, so completely safe for stringing against fabric. I also snagged this 2'x3' faux sheepskin rug from Home Decorators Collection, and threw in some pillows that had been sitting in storage.


Total Cost: $87 (way less than buying a pre-made one, AND this price included our fun accessories)

Poles & Drop Cloth from Hardware Store: around $36
Ribbon, elastic & Extra Fabric (from fabric.com): around $12
Rope: $7 from Amazon
Twinkly Lights: $13 (price has since gone up on Amazon)
Rug: $19

This project took some legwork, but it was seriously so much fun. And how cool is it to give your kiddo something you made with your own two hands? It's a great feeling! Max seems to love it. He wants to nap in it, sleep in it at night, and has brought many of his favorite books and toys in there to live. At his birthday dinner last night, much of our evening was spent rotating family members in and out of the tent to snuggle and/or read with him :)

Oct 7, 2013

Come on In!

It's high time I took you on a tour of our new house. I snapped these photos on move-in day so I'd be sure to catch everything in its original state. Welcome!

We really hope this house will be our "forever home," so we're trying to be extra thoughtful about what we do here. But there are definitely some small updates already in progress. Almost all of our immediate plans involve a paintbrush. And some sweat (and tears??), but not much more until we've lived here long enough to decide if we want to invest bigger renovations. I was about eight months pregnant on closing/move-in day, and you can tell from my goofy grin how insanely relieved I was that we'd actually succeeded in our crazy plan.


For the first time in our lives, we have TWO floors. Crazy! As you can see, things are very... beige. If you know Ben and I, you probably know that's not really our thing, but it's nothing that paint can't fix. To the left of the entry is a formal living room; we envision this doubling as an office space. I'd love to put a built-in desk in there with walls of shelving around it, and some glass doors in that wide door frame, since I like to entertain fantasies of working from home one day.


And for the record, Ben rocks. He surprised me for my birthday last week by hiring a professional to paint all of the trim and doors. Buh-bye, beige! Our house has tons of dental molding, so we always knew this job was one that we'd avoid DIYing at all costs. I figured I'd have to wait a long while, so am beyond excited to turn that trim white sometime this month. I'm convinced that it will 100% transform things.

To the right of the entry is our formal dining room. It's big enough to fully extend our beloved 12-seater dining table that's been passed down from my mom's family, so I'm pumped to host some big gatherings here. That door goes to the den, and will probably come down in the long run, but it's nice right now for blocking out noise while the kids are upstairs napping. And check out the molding in this room, I love it. I'm picturing something bold, like bright white on the bottom half of the walls, and navy on the upper half (pretty much exactly what I did in our old house before I "neutralized" it to sell).

The carpeting in here extends throughout the whole house except the kitchen, and I have to admit it doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would. It's actually nice for small children. We figure we'll get through toddlerhood with both kids, and once we've given this carpet a good run for its money, we'll look into hardwood floors for all the main living spaces.


The kitchen is accessed either through the dining room or a little hallway that leads off the entry.

This is another space that will see lots of paint: on the cabinets, walls, wood trim, and we've even discussed whitewashing the brickwork. A new light fixture is on the way, thanks to a fabulous birthday gift from my parents!

Our breakfast nook is really spacious and I love the overall size of our kitchen. It will get basic upgrades little by little, like new appliances, painting the cabinets and wood trim, updating hardware, and playing around with the idea of open shelving over and around the sink. Anything beyond aesthetic, budget-friendly updates likely won't happen for many years, though. You can see in this photo the two doors in the corner leading to the dining room and entry hall. In my fantasies, we'd remove the doors/walls in that corner and just have a large column separating the spaces so it would be almost totally open to the entry and dining room.


The kitchen leads into the den, which is where we spend most of our time. The paneling will eventually get painted (along with the brickwork that extends from the kitchen), and the light fixture updated, but for now we're enjoying how cozy it feels in here. And I may be unusual in my house wish-list, but the sliding door that accesses the backyard pretty much sold me on the house. I am obsessed with the idea of bringing the outside in, and making it as easy as possible to step out and enjoy our yard. Our last house had an amazing yard, but you couldn't see it from the main living space and had to go through a small door under the carport to access it. So I'm in indoor/outdoor heaven now :)



That doorway on the right leads to a petite laundry room (hooray for a laundry room on the main floor!!) and a huge bonus room (just a few steps up) that has taken on a life of its own as Max's beloved playroom. Here he is investigating on move-in day:



The main level also contains our garage, a guest room and a full bath, which are - surprise - also beige. Project de-beige the house is well underway over here!

Let's take a peek upstairs, where our other three bedrooms are.


Here's mine and Ben's - the others look just the same, only smaller and without dental molding :) We have an attached bath with a separate shower/toilet area, and a decently sized walk-in closet. I swear choirs were singing each time I opened it for the first few weeks. I've waited my whole life for a closet space like this!

Oh, and here's a quick peek at the backyard. The patio was closed in by huge hedges when we moved in. I'll just say that things are a little different now. But that's a topic for another blog post.


I can't wait to show you how things are coming together as we make progress with painting, updating and furnishing this space. We're occasionally overwhelmed by the size of this house compared to our last one ... but then we remind ourselves that with two kids aged two and under, we'd probably be overwhelmed by about anything right now. And the yard - oh, the gloriously flat yard. SO much easier to mow and care for. Ben can knock it out in about an hour. No more run-away lawnmowers down a steep hill, or wheels rolling away or hours spent with a weed-eater in the little crevices and hills where a lawnmower couldn't drive. So yeah, that's a plus. Not to mention we have the sweetest neighbors (up and down our street) in the whole world.

I definitely feel little pangs of sadness sometimes when I think about the memories we made at our last house, and the beautiful, updated kitchen we left behind. But then I head out for a walk on our quiet, pedestrian friendly streets, or take Max on a bike ride down the driveway without fearing he will go careening into a ditch, or chat with a neighbor in the street, or ... well, you get the idea. This move was the right thing for us, and with every little update and personal touch, this house feels more like our home.

Jul 22, 2013

Kitchen Reveal: Plaid to Rad

Now that I've shared the tale of our little lady's birth, it's time to get back to business! And before and after photos! When I last left you, we had just done a ton of updates to our old house, sold it, and moved into a new house in our dream neighborhood.

Luckily, a few months in, we are still totally in love with the new place and feel not a shred of regret. But that doesn't mean it was easy to say goodbye to our beloved little rancher. After we finished working our magic on it, that house looked pretty darn good, if I do say so. Since there was a chance the deal wouldn't go through on the new home, we made sure to do updates that we personally would love and enjoy if we stayed put for another year ... or five. That meant slightly more money invested, but I think it paid off big time in the form of selling our house FAST (5 days on the market) and getting the price we were hoping for (just enough to recoup what we put in and to cover the cost of our realtor).

Let's first take a look at the winner of most-improved room in the house: the kitchen! You may remember that we started with this (or maybe you blocked these shocking images - harvest gold appliances and plaid wallpaper - out of your mind):


With the help of new hardwood floors, lots of paint, and a carpenter to remove those cabinets over the peninsula (I talked about it in more detail here, here and here), we progressed to this:

And with the motivation of getting our house listed for sale, we leaped into the world of modern kitchens. I really wish I had photos to share with all our stuff still in it; it looked much warmer and cozier. But the best I could do was a photo from move-out day, so just imagine it with cute tea towels and colorful accessories:

She was a beauty, that kitchen. I was able to cook in this lovely space for about a month, and I may have shed a tear when we bid her farewell. What kind of crazy person am I to create my dream kitchen and then leave it behind?! 

We installed gorgeous granite counters, a deep, stainless sink with a tall, pull-down faucet, a smooth-surface cooktop and a new stainless range hood. Oh, and the lighting all got updated too, although we had installed those little by little along the way. We went middle of the road for most items, just in case we ended up re-financing instead of moving. And well, it turns out Ben and I believe in quality, and we had a hard time cheaping out, even just to sell the house.

See that luxe, high-end granite? That's what I'm talking about. Yeah, we got lucky with that part of the renovation. After lots of deliberation, we chose a white finish that was a step up from the most basic black we'd initially planned on. When I went to the warehouse to choose my slab (apparently this is what you do when buying granite - I had a lot of fun with this part of the project!), I couldn't find a piece in our selected finish that looked just right, and the options were a bit limited on the day I went in. I kept ogling another lovely hunk of rock that was in the next price point up, and that, my friends, is what the salesperson ended up giving us - for no extra cost! It's called River White, and it looks a lot like marble - but without the high maintenance and constant fear of ruining it. The creamy and gray tones and natural variations in the stone are stunning in person. I never understood what the big deal was about granite ... until I got this lovely slab in my kitchen!

Our new cook top was beautiful and sleek, but keeping it spotless for the new homeowners was nerve-wracking! We are messy cooks and not always the best about cleaning immediately after we cook (read: the kitchen may be a mess for a day or two - ok, three - before anybody deals with it). But with a glass cook top, it's vital to wipe off messes ASAP, so using this for the long term would definitely have taken some getting used to. We decided to spring for a stainless framed cook top with stainless, dishwasher-safe knobs. For an extra hundred dollars or so, we felt like the stainless finishes gave it a much more high-end look ... and it turned out that those frames also protect the glass from shattering or chipping around the edges as easily. Luckily for this clumsy cook.

One thing that surprised me was how much I LOVED the new range hood. I mean, not only did it look 1,000 times better than the previous mustard-colored incarnation, but wow - who knew how great it could be to actually see what you are cooking? The halogen lights in this hood were such a huge improvement - and one of the things I now miss the most in our new kitchen, which has woefully poor lighting.

The range hood and deep sink probably tie for my favorite improvements. It's the little things that make a kitchen so much more fun to use! Sadly, our shiny new refrigerator did not come with us. The buyers asked for it, and to keep the deal moving smoothly along, we agreed to leave it behind. It seemed to belong in our old kitchen anyway.


Here's one more before and after comparison:


If we stayed, I would have put in a white subway tile backsplash and added a colorful valance over the sink. Oh, and I'd remove that awkward cabinet that still sticks out over the peninsula and build in some open shelving on the wall instead. But that's not up to me anymore! I'm pretty sure this kitchen plus the hardwood floors (our two biggest investments) are what sold the house. Here's a rundown of our sources (I was surprised to find the best deals for most of our appliances on Amazon.com). I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any of the items we purchased, they were all high quality and wonderfully functional during the month or so we got to use them:

Counters: River White granite, Granite Direct Store
Paint (cabinets, walls & trim): Delicate White, Porter Paints
Pendant Lights: Home Depot

Hope you enjoyed this peek at our very own extreme home makeover :) (At least that's what it felt like at the time!!) It was really great to learn the ropes of kitchen updating, and get a good sense of our style and needs from the space - it will make it much less daunting when we decide to tackle our new kitchen.

Jul 11, 2013

Rosie June is Here

I've been on a blogging hiatus - maternity leave, if you will - but am hoping to pick up where I left off! On May 7th, our sweet Rosalie was born and life has been a beautiful, crazy whirlwind ever since. As I sit here, Max is playing with dinos and superheroes on the floor next to me, and Rosie is sleeping on my chest in her wrap, so we'll see how this experiment in blogging while parenting goes!


I'd like to get the story of Rosie's birth down while it's still fresh - details are so hard to remember the deeper you get into parenthood. So here goes. Be warned, it's detailed! And long! You may want to take a shot every time I say the word "contraction!" I love birth and labor stories, but if that's not your cup of tea, I won't hold it against you for not reading this.
 
It all started in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday, May 7th, three days ahead of my guess date. I was in and out of sleep having mild contractions. They were not much stronger than all of the braxton hicks ("practice" contractions) I'd been having for weeks, so I just tried to sleep through them. Although I think in the back of my mind I knew these were the real deal.

By morning, I was timing contractions 30 minutes apart, and sent Ben off to work thinking we'd probably have a baby before the end of the day, but not yet feeling a sense of urgency. I felt calm, ready, excited - I love the little butterflies you get during early labor, that feeling of anticipation in meeting your baby, the thrill of not knowing how it will all go down, and the sense of strength in knowing that I'm about to perform this miracle with my body, that I am the only one who can do it, and that I WILL do it one way or another! Keep in mind, this is early labor, when you're still full of energy!

Max and I ate breakfast, with me leaning onto the kitchen counter every so often for a wave, and explaining to Max that my body was getting ready to push baby out. I told him Mormor (my mom) would come get him, that Daddy and Mary Anne (our midwife, who Max knows and loves) would help me push baby out, and then he would be able to come back home to meet baby. He seemed totally cool with the plan.

Once my contractions were down to 20 minutes apart, by around 9:30 or 10am, I called Mary Anne to give her a heads-up. I had lots of energy, so she told me it was fine to keep being active but to listen to my body. Then I called my mom at work and asked her if she could come pick up Max and our dog Bosco. Ben was next on the call list, and his job was to be home by 11. My contractions were gradually getting closer as I busied myself around the house, going up and down the stairs, doing dishes, straightening up, and generally nesting. (Of course my first and only nesting instincts of this pregnancy were hours before Rosie's birth. A lot of good that did!)

When my mom arrived, the contractions slowed back down to 30 minutes apart. What?! I was busy packing Max's lunch and clothes, getting food for Bosco, and chatting with my mom about nursery decor (hey, I was excited!). I suppose my body realized that I wasn't focused enough for heavy labor and kindly slowed things down. Off went my mom with dog and toddler, and suddenly the house was quiet.

Moments later Ben got home, and I told him I was feeling like I needed to rest. The first thing he did was go upstairs and inflate the birth tub, and we snapped a few photos. Then he had my favorite DVD ready to go: Ellen Degeneres' stand-up show "Here & Now." We sat on the sofa for probably 30 minutes with Ben massaging my back through contractions. As I laughed at Ellen's quips (love her!!), I relaxed, and my labor started to pick up speed again. It was hard for me to stay sitting on the sofa anymore - I was leaning on a chair or going onto all fours for contractions; but I felt like things were progressing at a snail's pace. In fact, I was complaining to Ben: Why weren't my contractions closer together by now? I thought labor was faster the second time? These contractions felt too mild! (note: I've learned after two births that my pain tolerance for contractions is pretty darn high. Great for getting through labor, not so great when I'm trying to gauge how close I am to actually giving birth, ha!)



To help move things along, we went walking around the neighborhood. It was a beautiful spring day, not too hot yet with a few clouds, so the sun was coming and going. I had to stop and hang onto Ben every time I had a contraction - I'm sure the neighbors were wondering about the new family on the block! We'd time a contraction 8 minutes apart, then 5, then 12, then I'd have what seemed like one immediately after the other. But often I could still walk while having these contractions, so Ben was convinced they couldn't be that serious yet. I had no idea what to think.

We got back home and even though my contractions were still sporadic, I instinctively told Ben to call Mary Anne. I heard him trying to explain where we were in the process, and I could tell he was giving her the impression that we were not ready. So I got on the phone and told her that even though my contractions were all over the place, I felt like I might be getting close. I swear I started transitioning during that phone call. She told me she'd come to the house to check me out, and if I had a ways to go, she'd leave again (I like quiet and privacy during labor, and I think Mary Anne had figured that out about me). Thank goodness we called when we did, because things got real during that 20-minute wait for her to arrive!

By this point, Ben and I had moved into our bedroom, where we'd planned for the birth to happen. I think it was around this time that Ben lit candles, and I turned on my birth music. I swear the ambiance and sense of comfort from all these familiar things is what pushed my labor into high gear. Things had gotten really intense by the time Mary Anne arrived. It was about 2pm, maybe a little later. Contractions were a few minutes apart, sometimes back-to-back, and she did a quick exam and declared that I was eight centimeters dilated. So basically in a matter of 20 minutes I'd gone from "this labor is taking forever," to, "holy cow this baby's coming NOW!" She called her assistant, Celesta, and our birth photographer, and told them to come ASAP.

I had back labor with Max, so was expecting "regular" labor to be easier. It wasn't. Maybe because my active labor happened so fast with Rosie. The intensity was all in the front this time and I found the best way of getting through contractions was either leaning on the wall, or hanging my arms around Ben's neck and hanging my belly toward the floor. I've heard some people say they could labor without their husbands, but not me. I wouldn't let him more than six inches away from me, even when Mary Anne needed his help! Things progressed so quickly that she was forced to prep for birth solo. And man could that woman multi-task! She was filling water into the birth tub, laying out medical equipment, texting status updates to our family, timing contractions, monitoring baby's heartbeat, and so much more, but I was too in the zone to be aware of most of it.

I felt the urge to push not long after Mary Anne's arrival - more like I didn't think I could avoid pushing, and there was just barely enough water in the tub for me to climb in. I remember feeling so antsy to get into that nice warm bath. In the background, I heard Mary Anne say something along the lines of, "Ben, you may have to assist more than you ever wanted to," since it was still just her and Ben! I loved hanging over the side of the tub for the most intense contractions as I got ready for the pushing phase. It was literally moments after I climbed in the water that Celesta and my birth photographer, Kalli, both arrived.

Mary Anne had previously told me that I should hold off on really pushing until I couldn't stand it anymore. This helped stretch things out slowly so I could avoid the horrible "T" word ... tearing (her method worked, for anyone who was curious). At one point during a push, I was really wailing ("oh God, was my phrase of choice, apparently), and Mary Anne said,  "God is already here, you don't have to shout for him." Ha! Nothing like comic relief to relax those pelvic muscles! Rosie crowned while I was still squatting and hanging my arms over the side of the tub (I found out later that Mary Anne and Celesta had floated a mirror on the water to see what was happening), and I decided to flip over to more of a seated position for my last hurrah.

With Max I refused to look at him crowning with a mirror, or to feel his head as it was coming out, because it freaked me out too much. But this time I was less chicken and reached down to feel her tiny head. I was in awe when I flipped over and saw her part way out. It was surreal to be positioned in the water in such a way that I could watch every moment as she emerged into the world. I watched as her entire head came out (we were still in the water), and then we struggled a bit with the shoulders, but my capable team helped her shimmy out all the way. It was almost an out-of-body experience, until that moment when Celesta, who caught Rosie, helped me pull her up onto my chest. I could hear Ben getting choked up behind me as we reveled in our brand new baby girl. It was like time stopped as we first met her, held her, examined all of her little features. She was mellow and snuggly, looking into our eyes with such awareness about her. Honestly, I don't remember a lot of visual details from those first seconds and minutes, so much as I remember the sensations: her soft skin pressed against my stomach and chest, how delicate she felt, the relief of hearing her tiny cry, and the sense of elation and pure love radiating through my body and soul. It's true that giving birth is the greatest high you will ever have.

Birth photos are by the fabulous Kalli at Kalimana Photography, can't recommend her enough!


 

I had pushed for 20 minutes in total and Rosie came out with maybe 3 or 4 pushes? Can't remember exactly but the whole thing was fast. Mary Anne later told me it could have been even faster if I'd pushed the first time I wanted to!

I moved from the water onto our bed to deliver the placenta, which happened about 15 minutes after she was born (almost long enough that they'd have had to give me oxytocin to get it out, but luckily it didn't come to that). It was utterly peaceful and beautiful, being in our own space with nobody prodding and probing us during those early minutes and hours of bonding. In my memory, the room was all golden and glowing with afternoon sunlight filtering through the window. Rosalie June was born at 4:15pm. Active labor had been less than two hours.




I don't know how much time passed, really, I just know that once Rosie was with us, our birth team was gentle, quiet, soothing. They took care of baby AND mama, nurturing us and making it possible for Ben and I to soak up every minute. They checked all of Rosie's vitals while she was in our arms, and waited as long as possible to give her eye drops; they helped me nurse her, and when it came time to take her measurements, they did it all on the bed right next to me. They made me a healing herb mixture and had remedies ready when my after pains (ie, cramping that was almost worse than labor in my case), had me doubled over. They fed me Gatorade from a straw to re-hydrate, and Mary Anne warmed up stew and toast.




We invited my family to bring Max home and come meet Rosie just a few hours after she was born. I was so excited to not be living thousands of miles away this time, so that we could share this moment with our families. I think Max felt really involved in the birth, which was awesome. He was the very first one to meet her, and wasn't sure what to think at first! Then came my parents and sister. I'm so thrilled Mary Anne was still around to capture these moments on camera. We hadn't told anybody it was a girl, so you can see the surprise and excitement on my mom and sister's faces when they spotted that pink onesie!

So that is the tale of how Rosie joined our little family. My birth experience with Max was also wonderful - I'll have to share that one of these days, too. But for now I just count myself lucky to have had two such wonderful, uneventful, happy births, leading to two marvelous and healthy children!

May 1, 2013

Moving and Houses and Babies, Oh My!

It's been almost a year since I started this little blog of mine! Lots has happened in that short time. We settled into our cozy ranch house in Nashville, did lots of projects and updates, got pregnant, and then sold our house and moved into a new one. And as you may guess by this post, I am still pregnant! I've surpassed the point when Max was born (38 weeks), so now I'm just waiting to see when Baby Tornado will make his or her grand entrance.

Things have been wild and crazy between moving in, preparing for baby, being very pregnant and exhausted, and helping sweet Max, who is in full-blown two-year-old mode, through all of these changes. The blog has taken a backseat, but I haven't forgotten about it! Cookies & Beer is still a place where I love to share, write and keep my creative juices flowing throughout this whole crazy process of motherhood ... and life.

I've recently discovered Instagram (I know, I'm behind), and have had fun documenting all the little moments that make up our days. Here's a peek at what April looked like for us: 





(1) Move-in day at the new house! (2) The cozy courtyard area of our new backyard. We've already changed it up, but this is how it started! (3) Our new walk-in closet. Holy cow I am excited about this space. (4) Springtime at the amazing park we now live five minutes away from (5) Ben and I enjoying a lunch date (thanks to my fab in-laws!) at one of our favorite places, Margot Cafe, on a beautiful day in our old stomping grounds of East Nashville. (6) Curtain panels I sewed for Max's new room. Don't look to closely, the hemming is not entirely done. But I like the direction they're taking my guy's soon-to-be big-boy room!

We also managed to sneak in a super fun maternity photo shoot at our new home, with the talented and energetic Kalli over at Kalimana Photography. She'll also be documenting our birth and doing newborn sessions, and I'm so excited to be working with her! These are two of my favorites from the session (check out more on her blog):




I'll be keeping you posted on baby's progress. We can't wait to meet this little one. Baby Tornado rightfully earned the nickname - he or she is a flurry of activity in my belly, and is definitely keeping me on my toes! We're planning and hoping for a beautiful home birth with our midwife. It will be so special to bring baby into the world in the home he or she will (hopefully) grow up in.  I am doing my best to be patient and enjoy the last days of pregnancy and this beautiful spring weather. I know life will be an even wilder ride from here on out!