Monday, May 7, 2012

A few of my favorite things

Oh hai!  So, life with a baby is BUSY to say the least!  I had every intention of keeping up the blog much better than I have the past four months, but yeah...didn't happen.  By the time Colin goes down for the night (now around 7-ish), I'm so exhausted that blogging is usually the last thing I'm thinking about. 

Anyway, this blog isn't going to become Baby Central, but I figured a few posts about some of the most helpful baby products would still be in line with what this blog is.  So, here are a few of the things that made our life so, so, so much easier the past 4 months.  (I'm not getting paid for any of this; this is nothing more than my opinions.)

Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets--these blankets are awesome.  They're muslin, so they're lightweight and breathable, but they're huge, so it's easy to swaddle babykins in these.  I have 8 of them and I'm glad I bought so many: I use them in the stroller, around the house when it's a little drafty, and I keep one rolled up on either side of Colin in the crib so he can't move around too much.  I tried the Miracle Blanket and the Swaddle Me and while those do a great job of keeping him swaddled, it's like putting together origami, which isn't great for those every-three-hour-during-the-night diaper changes that happen the first few weeks. 

Angel Care Video Monitor--This monitor rocks.  We transitioned Colin from the Pack 'n' Play in our room to his crib when he was about 5 weeks old and this monitor was crucial in allowing us all to sleep better.  The video monitor has night vision and a zoom and panning ability, so you can see if your little one's eyes are open or not before walking in the room and definitely waking them up.  Genius.  The motion sensor that goes under the mattress calmed my new mom fears a bit (an alarm sounds if there's no motion detected for 20 seconds--like if they were to stop breathing).  A few false alarms just about gave me a heart attack, but adjusting the sensitivity settings took care of that issue really easily.

BOB stroller--Words can't express how much I love this stroller.  Yes, it's a bit on the pricey side (but it's not NEARLY as bad as some strollers!), but  It, like, glides.  It turns on a dime, is super quiet, and it's ridiculously easy to fold to put in the car.  Plus it's orange. 

Itsbeen Timer--I fully realize that some people might roll their eyes at this one because it's so ridiculously simple that it's dumb.  But that's also why it's genius.  There are four buttons on it: a diaper, a bottle, a sleep button, and a miscellaneous button.  You press the button when you change a diaper (or feed the baby, or put him to sleep or whatever) and it just keeps track of how long it's been since you've done that particular thing.  When you're completely sleep deprived in those first few weeks, this is brilliant.  It doesn't do anything fancy and so it's super easy to figure out.  In the first few weeks, I used the miscellaneous button to track how long it'd been since I'd taken my painkillers (or antibiotics during my bout with mastitis). 

Rock 'N' Play--another stupidly simple item that's genius.  It's basically a foldable bassinet that holds the baby at an angle and cradles them in a way that the crib can't.  We used this a TON in the first few weeks  and still use it in the family room mostly as a safe place to put the baby when I just need to set him down for a few minutes.  It's great for babies with reflux because of the angle and it makes them feel all cozy and secure because of the sides.  We borrowed this from a friend, but it's about $50 and I'd gladly pay that.

So those are just a few things that helped get us over the past four months.  Obviously, all babies are different, but these things worked for us and have been worth their weight in gold.  Hope this helps someone out there!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sorry, ol' blog!

I didn't mean to go quite this long without posting, but I think I severely underestimated how busy I'd be with a newborn.  Yup--that's right--I finally had that baby!  Five weeks ago, actually!  Sorry the blog got neglected--I'd promise not to have that happen again, but that's a promise I just can't make right now, you know?

I'll spare the gory details, but Colin was born on January 8th, which was his due date.  (Did you know that only about 4% of women give birth on their due date?  Pretty cool!)  I woke up that Sunday morning feeling totally discouraged because I had absolutely no sign of impending labor and I envisioned walking into work the next morning to my coworkers' pitying looks.  Anyway, we went about our day--ate breakfast, I scrubbed the grout haze off the bathroom backsplash tiles, Chris bought a wallet at the mall, then we went out for lunch and I ordered a BLT and a Sprite. 

We got back home around 2ish and right about 3:00 I had my first contraction that felt distinctly different than the other cramps/contractions I'd been having for the past few weeks.  They immediately started being about 4 minutes apart and lasting about a minute each.  They weren't painful, but they were definitely noticeable and timeable.  After an hour of that, I called the midwife and she told me to get in the bath to see if that changed anything and call back in an hour.  I was pretty sure nothing was going to change, but I got in the bath anyway and sure enough, the contractions kept coming and they kept getting closer together and stronger to the point that I had to concentrate on just breathing through them. 

At 5, when I called the midwife to follow up, she told us to go ahead and head to the hospital, so we threw a few more things in our bags, called my parents to tell them to start driving, and off we went!  We got to the hospital around 6ish, at which point my plans for a med-free childbirth were quickly going out the window--I was dying for an epidral!  We got checked in and I got prepped for an epidural, which I didn't realize would take AN HOUR!  Longest hour of my life!!!  The contractions were more and more painful and some of them had me in pathetic, silent tears.  Chris was a saint though and held my hand through each and every one and helped remind me to breathe and relax.

After the epidural I was able to relax and from there things progressed pretty quickly.  My parents were able to come in and hang out with us for a little bit, so it was nice to have some time with them and relax before things really got intense.  Anyway, around 10:30 it was time to get the show on the road and (sparing lots of details) Baby K was born at 11:24 pm!  They put the baby on my chest and Chris got to announce "It's a BOY!"  It was literally the coolest, most profound moment of my life.  We took one look at him, ran through the name choices we had picked out for a boy and within just a few minutes, we decided his name would be Colin Hubbard.

Things have been going swimmingly ever since.  Don't get me wrong--tt's a hell of an adjustment, but he's been a pretty easy baby for the most part. 

And without further ado, some photos:

Last pregnant picture at 38 weeks

Minutes after being born

Meeting daddy for the first time

Less than a week old

Hanging out with mom

5 weeks old!

Mr. Alert!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I have not disappeared, nor did I have the baby yet...

With the holiday craziness and being uber pregnant, I just decided to take a mini blog break.  The holidays were lovely, baby-baking is going swimmingly, and it's a new year!  Life is good.

We haven't done much in the way of exciting house projects lately (except for the master bath which should be completely done soon), but I did make a fun little craft project yesterday to keep my brain occupied while we wait for this baby to get here (due date is coming up on Sunday!)

We've gotten a bunch of really sweet baby cards and I wanted a way to keep them.  I found this cute idea via Pinterest and decided to make my own version.

The front:

The back:

The inside:

The project was super easy and took less than 2 hours.  I won't bother to post the step-by-step instructions; just click the link above--she covered it much better than I could.  I think it's a cute little way to keep meaningful cards.  You could also do this for big birthdays, graduations, or even annual Christmas cards!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

More bathroom progress!

We made further progress on the master bathroom this past weekend and although we have a few things we still need to do, we're now at a point where we have a fully functioning master bath!  Which means that when kiddo makes his/her arrival in the next few weeks, our house will at least be semi put-together and we won't have bathroom vanities in the guest bedroom. 

The floor is done, the backsplash tile has been laid and grouted, and the vanities are installed.  Next up we have to scoot the light fixtures up a few inches in order to make room for the medicine cabinets.  We also have to do a little caulking and put up the baseboards and we're done!  So much for a quick little project! 



Such a weight off our shoulders to be at this point!  Ahhhhh....

Monday, December 12, 2011

Finally! Finished nursery pics

It's been awhile since I updated the ol' blog with new pics of the nursery!  We've gotten pretty much everything set up and we're about as ready to go as possible, which is good, since I'm now 36 weeks!  My gut tells me that this baby won't make his/her arrival until 39 weeks, but I was a Girl Scout and I like to be prepared. 

After I spotted the Melissa and Doug oversized stuffed giraffe, we ended up with an unintentional giraffe "theme" of sorts, so I just kind of went with it without going overboard, cuz Lord knows I hate cutesy "theme-y" rooms.  All of the elements in the room were chosen with the intention of a) being gender neutral, and b) growing with this baby, so we don't have to redecorate in 2 or 3 years just because the kiddo outgrows stuff.  I also wanted a pretty room because I know that I'll be spending my fair share of time in there and I like to look at pretty things. 

Anyway, without further ado, here's the finished nursery!  (Sources below.)

I'm in love with the gold pouf.  It was a bit extravagant, but I think it kind of makes the whole room come together.  Plus, it's so versatile and can be used in any room in the house, so it'll get a lot of use.  (Can you tell I'm still justifying that purchase?)

The pillow fabric was leftover from when I recovered the dining room chairs last year.  I loved the Chaing Mai fabric that I used in my original inspiration board, but at like $200 a yard, that wasn't going to happen.  I needed a fabric to tie in the orange and blue and it was free! 

My good friend Kate sent me this awesome nightlight for my baby shower!  Is it not the cutest thing ever???  I'm in love with it.

See that cute baby in the picture frame?  Guess who it is?  (Hint: it's me.)

I picked up the giraffe on sale last week and I'm in love with him.  His name is Kyle.  The crib "skirt" is made of leftover fabric from the glider.  I used velcro to adhere it to the mattress support so it could be easily removed for cleaning. 

The crib rocks my world.  It's absolutely gorgeous and made in the US out of real sustainable hardwood!  (No MDF or anything.)  We also bought the toddler rails and the adult bed conversion kit, so it will eventually convert to a full size bed for kiddo.  It was a little bit more money upfront, but when we factor in the number of years we'll get out of it, it'll be cheaper in the long run.

Finally, the opposite side of the room.  I was originally going to use the baby animal prints from my inspiration board, but they ended up being a bit out of budget when all was said and done.  The giraffe print was purchased at 20% off, which made it super reasonable. 

Also, that thing on the floor between the dresser and the crib is a medicine cabinet for the master bath, which obviously won't stay on the floor forever.

And now for the sources:

Crib, Baby's Dream Legendary
Rug, Martha Stewart Living Chrysanthemum rug in Wrought Iron
Curtains, Ikea Lenda
Dresser, Ikea Edland
Bookshelf, Ikea Smadal
Giraffe print, Z Gallerie
Fabric, Celerie Kemble Betwixt
Large stuffed giraffe, Melissa and Doug
Gold pouf, Furbish
Giraffe nightlight, Jonathan Adler
Paint colors, Martha Stewart's Wrought Iron (navy) and Heavy Cream
Mirror and lamps, HomeGoods

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

I made this recipe (rom here) this weekend and it was delicious.  And super easy.  What could be better?

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups granulated sugar
1 (15 ounce) can 100% pure pumpkin
1 cup canola oil (This is a lot of oil, so I'd substitute some apple sauce for the oil)
2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 9x5 inch loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, canola oil, water, vanilla, and eggs. Mix until smooth.
4. Slowly blend in flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chips. Evenly divide batter between the three loaf pans.
5. Bake for 60 minutes, or until browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove loaves from oven and cool in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. With a knife, go around the bread and loosen the loaves. Remove from pan and cool completely before slicing.

*  Note:  this recipe makes a lot of bread, so be prepared to share or put a loaf in the freezer for later.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I haven't dropped off the face of the earth and I haven't had this baby yet--life has just been busy, so blogging has taken a back seat for a bit. 

Anyway, the bathroom project is coming along (finally).  We re-laid the tile and it stuck, so we were able to grout last weekend and finish up some final tiling this past weekend.  Removing the tile from the wall resulted in big holes in the drywall, so the drywall has now been patched and painted.  Next weekend we'll spend putting up the new backsplash tiles and then we can put the vanities back in.  Huzzah! 

In other news, Thanksgiving was this past week.  Yeah, it was the day before Black Friday!  Remember that day?  Chris grilled the turkey on his new Weber grill and it was un-freaking-believable:

Also, Griz seems to be excited for the kiddo to get here.  She spent quite a bit of time in the stroller and the car seat this weekend.  Both pass her seal of approval:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Weekend Cooking

This weekend I'll be 33 weeks pregnant (whaaaaa???), so it's time to start cooking some make-ahead meals to freeze for when we're too tired or busy to cook after the baby comes.  My criteria?  The recipe must be mostly hands-off, as we're going to be spending some time removing tile off the bathroom walls and grouting the floors this weekend.  The recipe also must use mainly ingredients I either already have or can easily get--I'm not looking to spend half my weekend running around buying groceries.  In addition to some old stand-by's like camp stew, Pinterest has been a great source for crock pot meals that can easily be frozen.  Here are a few I might try this weekend:

Lasagna Soup, found here.

Buffalo Chicken found here.

Lasagna cups here.

Not something I'm making to freeze, but instead serve on Thanksgiving, Mushroom Bread Pudding.  I made this last year and it's insane.  I HIGHLY recommend this recipe if you've been asked to bring a side dish to Thanksgiving this year.

Recipe found here.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Two More Steps Forward

This past weekend we made progress on the bathroom.  Hallelujah!  As documented here, this project has been SO frustrating, but I'm starting to feel more optimistic that a) we will finish the project someday and b) when we do, it'll look great.

On Saturday, we spent several hours pulling up the tile (that we had just laid about 3 weeks ago) and scraping off all of the thinset.  We got the floor nice and smooth, swept, vacuumed, vacuumed again, then wiped down the cement board just to start with a clean surface that the new thinset would (hopefully) stick to:

During this process, we pretty much identified that the problem was due to bad thinset.  I think the bag we had originally purchased was just old; it scraped off ridiculously easily as a very fine powder. 

Of course, Grizabella helped:

Not really.  She napped on the bed most of the time and only came in for a final inspection.  We passed.

Then on Sunday, we got to work relaying the tile (that we had just laid 3 weeks ago.  Did I mention that already?  Sorry.  Just a little irritated about the whole thing.).  Since we had already cut the tiles to fit the last time, we just had to keep track of which tiles went where and so the whole thing took about an hour and a half to lay.  Chris mixed the thinset and acted as the "gopher" while I sat my 7 month pregnant ass on the floor and laid the tile.  Our system paid off:

The best news?  After letting it set for 24 hours we walked on the tile and...IT STUCK!!!  Choirs of angels sung, rainbows appeared, and puppies and kitties pranced around in harmony, it was so magical.

This means that we can pull off the wall tile this coming weekend, put the grout in, and if we have enough time, we may be able to reinstall the vanities!  We're getting there!

Friday, November 11, 2011

New Living Room Chairs!

A week or so ago I bought two of these chairs online for the living room:

I'm so thrilled with how they look in our living room:

We still need to add a few finishing touches to the room:  curtains, some side tables, and better lighting will be first, then I also want to add some crown molding to the bookshelves to make them look more like built-ins.  I also desperately want this pillow for the sofa:

Oh yes, it will be mine.

Anyway, although we still have a ways to go before the room looks like I want it to, it's still far, far better than where it was a year ago:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

This project SUCKS

Sorry about the brief hiatus.  We've been busy around here and the bathroom project is not really going all that well.

Looks not too bad, right?  We laid the tile and waited the requisite 24 hours before stepping on it, only to find this:

Preeeetty sure that you're not supposed to be able to lift tile up like that. 

So, are you ready for a kind of long story?  Two weeks ago, we laid the tile.  Found out that the tile didn't stick in several places.  The following weekend we installed the vanities anyway so we'd have a functioning bathroom while we had guests in town last weekend for my baby shower.  So guess what we get to do this coming weekend?  We get to uninstall the vanities, fix the floor, then wait for the floor to dry before grouting.  Then we can reinstall the vanities!

But wait!  There's more!  The vanities and faucets are so much taller than the previous ones that the medicine cabinets don't fit between the vanities and the light fixtures.  So now Chris has to move the light fixtures up a few inches to accomodate everything.  All of this is before we even tile the backsplash or put baseboards back on. 

So, that's what we've been up to lately.  Good times!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The state of things...

The master bathroom is torn up:

As a refresher, this is what it looked like as of last Saturday morning:

So, yeah.  We took out the vanity and on Monday morning my parents removed the tile floor.  That wasn't really in the original plan, but there were cracks in the tile, the grout was horrible, and it was laid directly on the sub-floor, which isn't ideal.  While it'll be more work, it'll be worth it to do it once and do it right.

We're not straying too far from what the old tile looked like--we'll be going with this hexagonal white pattern.  And the other day I picked up a bunch of different glass tiles to see which one we should use for the backsplash.  OF COURSE the one we liked far more than the others was the most expensive.  Of course.

The glass tile brings in the wall color, the white from the ceramic tile, the blue tile in the shower (which we're not changing for awhile even though I don't love it), and the gray from the vanities.  I'm super excited about our plan.

Also excited to get our house back to normal, especially since we'll have houseguests in two weeks:

Nothing says "Welcome!" like a bathroom vanity in the entryway.

The current state of our living room.  Yikes.

Friday, October 14, 2011

This is what we're going with

Short post today.  These are the vanities that we chose for the master bathroom:

And the medicine cabinets:

The medicine cabinets arrived already and the vanities should be in later today (they're both from the Martha Stewart Collection at Home Depot).  We'll spend some time tomorrow dismantling the existing vanity and figuring out the tile situation underneath.  Fingers crossed!!!  Is it all going to be done this weekend?  Highly, highly doubtful, but at least we're moving in the right direction.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Master Bathroom

So, we knew when we moved into this house that we'd need to tackle the master bathroom at one point or another.  The shower tile is dated and the vanity offers surprisingly little storage and is just plain fugly:

(Ignore the "After" on the photos.  Also the white balance is totally off.)

(This is much more indicative of the actual colors)

This is pretty much what the countertop looks like on a daily basis because there is NO ROOM anywhere for the stuff we use on a day-to-day basis: contact solution, vitamins, hair products, etc.  Those mirrors aren't medicine cabinets, so as a result, all of the daily-use stuff just sits on the counter and drives me crazy.

So, a few weekends ago, we decided to get started on this whole project.  Unfortunately, the vanity is a non-standard (and HUGE) 78" wide.  We'd either have to have a custom cabinet built ($$$), or put two 36" cabinets together and then figure out what to do to make up the 6" of leftover space.  Or we could get two smaller vanities and make them completely separate, which is what we've decided. 

Unfortunately, we don't think the tile extends under the current vanities, so we'll have to figure that out.  So far we've ordered the vanities and they're on their way.  The medicine cabinets arrived yesterday. 

Anyway, this is what it looks like now that the walls have been painted and the ugly sconces were replaced with some pretty new light fixtures:

I LOVE the new light fixtures and the blue wall color is a lot better than the beige.  This coming weekend is DEMO TIME!  Muahahahaha!  I'm getting very excited.  Goodbye blue countertop! 
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