Maternity Series #2: 21 Weeks

MaternitySeries21weeks-67-EditforMBB hellomysweetbaby

Now that we know you're a boy, I've been in full-on nursery planning mode. While I didn't have everything planned out before we left the doctor's office last week, I did have it planned out a few hours later. I'm so excited to get started on everything, especially your special name quilt. Now if only we could decide on a name... :)

lovemama2

Letters to My Daughter: January

Hello, sweet girl. I haven't written to you since you were a few weeks old, when I was still so overwhelmed with the joy of your arrival (and with figuring out this whole parenting thing!) I held you in my arms and couldn't imagine life getting any better. But it has... in the past year and a half I've watched you grow into this amazingly smart, silly, and ever-curious little girl, and I find myself in a state of perpetual awe.

You bring so much joy and laughter to my life every single day... and since we don't get to spend that much time together during the week, I pretty much live for the weekends. I love our morning cuddles, having breakfast together in our PJs, going to the park, throwing the ball for Rocco... your excitement to play and learn and find new adventures is so infectious. I love watching you "read" your books aloud, in words I can't quite make out, wondering what story you're making up in your head to go along with the pictures. And I love how determined and focused you get during your independent play... it amazes me how creative you are with your toys, and how quickly you learn to use and manipulate them.

Mostly I love how completely and utterly silly you are. You're constantly singing and making up sounds, or dancing to whatever music we have on with the most ridiculous dance moves I've ever seen. Even after you've gone to bed, your dad and I find ourselves still laughing about something you did during the day, or because when we check the monitor we find you in your signature sleeping position - on your back with your arms folded behind your head like you're lounging poolside. We find you endlessly entertaining, and your love of life endlessly inspiring. I feel so immensely blessed - not just that I get to be a mama - but that I get to be your mama. So thank you... thank you for being you and for bringing me so much more happiness than I ever thought possible.

I am joined in this “Letters to our Children” blog circle by an amazing group of photographers and moms. Together, we'll be writing these letters every month in honor of our love for our sons and daughters. I encourage you to head over to Davina's blog to read her letter, and then continue on around the circle!

{nursery progress} the big reveal!

Now that Emma is finally here, I can show you her finished nursery! The expression "labor of love" has a whole new meaning for me now, but we did put a lot of hard work and care into getting her nursery just right. If you remember back to my initial post about the nursery, this is the design plan I started with:

And here's what the room looked like before:

Starting with a firm budget of $1500, we set out to try to create a sweet, DIY inspired, eco-friendly nursery...

Here's the breakdown of what we DIY'd:

DIY'd:

As I mentioned before, we set a firm $1500 budget for the nursery - and while my husband had serious doubts about my ability to stick to that budget - I'm very proud to report that I came in UNDER BUDGET at $1302.24. The biggest expenses in the room were the Naturepedic organic crib mattress ($259), the Ikea Hemnes dresser ($199), the DaVinci Rivington crib (on sale for $191.99), the Elfa stacking drawers for the closet ($99), and the Naturepedic organic changing pad ($89.10). Together, those purchases made up almost 2/3 of our whole budget. We could have cut corners a bit by not going organic for the mattress and changing pad, but raising Emma in an eco-conscious way is very important to us, so we were willing to invest a little more for those things.

Here are close-ups of most of the things I DIY'd:

Bird mobile

Paper circle mobile

Golden Slumbers print

Murder in the City print

Monogrammed throw pillow

Personalized baby quilt

Bunting

Gum Drop ottoman

I hope you like it!  Well, really I just hope Emma likes it. :-) It was a lot of hard work, but we couldn't be happier with the final result. Leave me a comment if you have any questions about resources or any of the DIY projects!

{nursery progress} paper circle mobile tutorial

paper circle mobile

Here's the how-to for the paper circle mobile I made for our daughter's nursery... (similar ones sell for upwards of $50 on Etsy, but you can achieve the same look for much much less.)

What you'll need:

  • 2 12" long 1/4" dowels
  • Drill and very narrow drill bit
  • Fishing wire
  • 12 jump rings
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Clear beads (I used CraftDesigner faceted beads in crystal)
  • Pencil
  • Permanent marker
  • Needle or pin
  • 3 shades of the same color cardstock (this is to achieve a gradient effect... you could use all 1 color or multiple colors if you prefer.)
  • 1.5" circle punch
  • Hot glue gun
  • Screw hook

1) Prepare your dowels. Using a pencil, make a mark at 1.5", 3", and 4.5" from each end of the dowel so that you end up with 6 marks on each dowel. Then make a mark a 1/4" from the end of each dowel, and drill a very small hole (big enough for the wire to go through, but not so big that the bead will go through.)

2) Punch out your circles. You'll need 108 circles - 9 circles for each string, 3 of each color on each string.

3) Poke holes in your circles using a needle or pin.

4) Cut your fishing wire. You'll need 12 pieces of wire, approximately 24" long - don't worry about them being exact because you'll cut the ends once you're done putting on the circles and beads.

5) Prepare the jump rings. Using your needle nose pliers, stretch out a jump ring so that it's wide enough to fit onto the dowel. Then tie on a piece of the fishing wire and knot it, trimming the excess of the short end.  Repeat for the other 11 jump rings.

6) Place the jump rings along the marks on the dowels. Use your needle nose pliers to close the jump rings around the dowel.

7) Mark your fishing wire. Once the fishing wire is knotted onto the jump rings, take your permanent marker and make a mark every 2 inches from the knot on the jump ring.  Make 9 marks on each string.

8 ) String your circles and beads. Starting with the darkest shade of your paper circles, string one of your pieces of fishing wire through the pin hole in the paper circle. Then take a clear bead and knot the fishing wire around it at the mark closest to the dowel/jump ring. Repeat for the other 8 circles - circle, bead, circle, bead, etc. - going from your darkest to lightest shades of circles. Cut the excess wire after the last bead.  Repeat for the other 11 pieces of fishing wire.

9) Attach your dowels. Use a hot glue gun to attach the dowels together, crossing one over the other.

10) Hang your mobile. Cut 4 generous lengths of fishing wire, and knot one end of each piece of wire around a clear bead, cutting the excess of the short end. Slip each piece of wire through the holes you drilled at the ends of your dowels, so that the bead stops underneath the dowel preventing the wire from slipping through. Screw your screw hook into the ceiling where you want the mobile to hang (use a drywall screw if needed.) Once you determine how high or low you want your mobile to hang from the ceiling, tie the four pieces of wire into a knot and loop the knot onto the screw hook.

That's it!  Comment or email if you have any questions. There are a lot of variations you could do (like drilling holes and using beads to hang the strings instead of jump rings) so don't feel like you have to stick to the steps exactly.  This is just what worked for me.  Happy mobile-ing!

{nursery progress} a tale of two mobiles

IMG_5441

Yes, you read that correctly... I ended up making not one, but two mobiles for the nursery. If you'll remember, I started out with the idea to DIY a mobile like the one I had in my mood board:

But then my friend, Rachael, sent me the link for this bird mobile tutorial and I decided to make that one instead.  Here's how it turned out:

I was so so happy with how it looked, especially once I hung it over the crib - but the idea of that original mobile kept nagging at me.  I love a good challenge, and finding a way to DIY something I saw selling on Etsy for $80 was just my kind of challenge.  So... much to my husband's dismay, I decided to make a second mobile for the nursery.  I had no idea where I'd put this one - if it would replace the bird one, if I'd end up with two mobiles, if I'd junk it altogether after punching out a gazillion little circles.  Luckily, by the time I finished it late one Sunday night, I was completely smitten.  It was so fun and cheery... just looking at it made me smile.  I knew I had to find a home for it in the nursery.  So over the changing table it went...

Here's a close up:

I used 3 shades of yellow paper to get a gradient effect, fishing line, clear beads, wooden dowels, and jump rings.  The whole thing cost me maybe $15.  I'm hoping to get a tutorial posted for it next week so stay tuned!

{nursery progress} gum drop ottoman

I'm happy to report that I reached my goal of having the quilt and ottoman done before the end of my 2nd trimester.  Woohoo!  I'm not sure I want to know how much worse my back would have felt if I'd left all this sewing for my 3rd trimester.

The Gum Drop Pillow/Ottoman pattern was pretty easy to follow (for an Amy Butler pattern), but I think my choice of flannel is going to come back to haunt me.  I'm not sure how it'll hold up over time, and it was stretchier than regular cotton so I ended up needing way more batting than the pattern called for (11 1/4 lbs!!!).  So why did I go with flannel?  It was the exact color I was looking for.  Sometimes color trumps common sense.

I'm also not sure how I feel about it being slip-stitched closed.  I've become slightly anal about making sure every bit of fabric in the nursery is removable and washable, so it makes me nervous that this ottoman doesn't meet those criteria.  I'm thinking the first time I have to rip those stitches open, take out all the batting, and wash out whatever unpleasantness got all over it, I'm going to sew in an invisible zipper.

Since the ottoman is pretty big (though it's the perfect size for supporting my feet while nursing or reading to the baby) it'll spend most of the time living under the window to clear up floor space.

You'll also notice that we finished painting the Poang!  It took 3 coats of semi-gloss (using a foam brush) after sanding down the varnish, but it was worth it.  It fits much better in the room than the natural wood did.

Up next... I've been working away on the mobile and I'm hoping to get it done this week.  I didn't realize until I had everything cut that the birds need to be hand sewn.  Yuck.  But I have 4 done, and they look super cute, so hopefully it'll be worth all that extra time.  In case you're wondering, it does occasionally cross my mind that my daughter will never remember all this stuff I'm doing for her room, but then I stand in there and see how everything's coming together and it makes me happy enough to no longer care.  :)

{nursery progress} paint!

It took us 1 coat of primer, 3 coats of wall paint, and 2 coats of ceiling paint - but the painting is finally done!  As a reminder, here's how it looked before:

And here's how it looks now!

We covered every inch of that room with paint - the walls, the built-ins, the trim, the window, the ceiling, and even that old door.  Before we started I had tested some pretty big patches of a couple different colors on each wall, so I was pretty sure the color we picked would work out - but there's always that moment of panic after you get the first coat on when it's too late to turn back and you're still a couple coats away from being able to see the finished product.  But thankfully it's exactly what I'd envisioned - a rarity in the life of a DIYer.  (PS... the paint is Acro Pure No-VOC from Miller Paint in "Teal Treat" #0712.  The white paint is also No-VOC in a semi-gloss finish... they apparently don't recommend water-based paint for trim because it doesn't spread as well, but we used a soft bristled brush and it worked out great.)

You'll notice that the old door is still there... we realized that a new door would also need a new frame and that was just way more than we were ready to take on.  So we sanded the old door so that it actually closes, and I even managed to fix the mortise lock so we don't have to replace that either.  We're going to leave the glass uncovered for now, but I'll probably add a little curtain for it down the road.

Oh, and here's a close-up of the new hardware on the built-ins:

I'm kind of obsessed.

I can't even tell you how happy I am to have the painting done... not only because it means we can get the furniture, but because having to scoot around on the floor painting baseboards while you're nearly 6 months pregnant really really sucks.  Not exactly painless, but totally worth it.

nursery progress: the design plan

Before we found out the baby's gender, I thought I had my mind pretty made up about the direction I wanted to go in for the nursery if it was a girl. (I didn't really have a clue for the boy, so from a design perspective it was rather convenient that the baby turned out to be a girl.) I never ever thought I'd be a pink nursery kind of person, but when I saw this color palette I was a convert. It was the right combination of feminine, fun, pretty, and vintage. I just had to sell Jared on the idea. So I created two mood boards: one with the pink palette and one with a cute yellow/aqua palette I'd seen on one of the baby design blogs I subscribe to. The plan was to make the pink palette so good that he just had to go for it, and make the yellow/aqua palette just so-so. Hey, I never said I was going to be totally objective about this process. :-) Here's the pink mood board I came up with:

Here's the thing. I liked it, but didn't love it. I had a much harder time than I thought I would finding the right fabrics and accessories, and I'm still not 100% thrilled with what I ended up with. It's cute and girly, but it just didn't come together as well as I had hoped.

So then I moved on to creating the yellow/aqua mood board:

And you know what? I completely fell in love with this room. Creating this mood board was fun, unlike the stress I felt trying to create the pink one. It was so easy to find great fabrics, art, and accessories to bring the room to life - which gave me hope that actually shopping for all that stuff would be a breeze. And I really liked the feel of it once it was all done - it's so sweet and cheerful - girly without being too obvious about it.

So I sent the mood boards to Jared for his thoughts, not telling him which one I liked better. He genuinely liked them both, but said there was something about the yellow/aqua room that sold it for him. Phew!

Now that the design was done I went back to the budget worksheet I'd put together to see if we could really have the nursery of our (okay, my) dreams on a $1500 budget. Thankfully, with a good amount of DIYing and a bit of repurposing, it's actually possible. Here's the plan:

To buy:

  • Crib
  • Mattress
  • Dresser
  • Rug
  • Light
  • Sheers
  • Cornice kit
  • Hardware (the Anthro hardware is a bit of a splurge, but it's one of those elements that really makes the room for me)
  • Bookshelves
  • 3 Frames
  • Hot air balloon print
  • Slide out bins for the closet floor

To DIY/sew:

  • Painting the walls, ceiling, trim, Poang, bookshelves, and built-ins
  • Fabric covered 7" cornice for the window
  • 2 changing pad covers
  • Crib/play quilt (Amy Butler pattern from Little Stitches for Little Ones)
  • Gum Drop Ottoman
  • Padded arm rests for the Poang
  • Toss pillow for the Poang
  • Paper circles mobile
  • 2 DIY art prints

So yeah, kinda a lot in the DIY column. I'm desperately going to try to get at least the quilt and ottoman done before the end of my 2nd trimester. The other DIY projects are on the easier side and I can enlist help for those if need be.

We've already gotten the first step of the nursery makeover done - bringing in an electrician to install a light switch for the overhead light (fumbling to find that little chain the middle of the night just wasn't going to happen, plus we feel like having a switch that dims is going to come in very handy) and adding another outlet to the wall where the window is. (For the record, the electrical work was not included in the $1500 budget because we felt like it was something the room needed regardless of what we used it for.)

The next step is paint! Luckily, Jared's "never painting another room in this house ever again" vow is no match for the love he has for his pregnant wife and beautiful unborn daughter, so we'll be tackling the painting together. I'll try to post pics of our progress along the way, so stay tuned...

nursery progress: the starting point

And so it begins... now that we know the gender of our little one I - uh, we - can finally get started on figuring out what her room will look like!  Our goal is to do the whole nursery for $1500 (there are a couple of smaller things we're registering for like crib sheets and a changing pad, but the vast majority we're planning to get ourselves.) Here's a little idea of what we're starting with:

The nursery is pretty small (I'd estimate 7x10 ft) so having a built in dresser is a nice plus.  What the closet lacks in height it makes up for in depth, which means lots of hidden storage in the back of the closet for seasonal items, bigger toys, and all the other stuff I'm told babies accumulate in droves. The wall to the left is where the changing table will go. We opted for more of a multitasker dresser instead of a traditional changing table in hopes that we can use it in her room long after she's in diapers.

To the left of this window is where the glider/rocker will go.  Despite how great and comfortable they're supposed to be, I just can't get past the look of traditional gliders.  So I'm going to try to use one of the two Ikea Poangs we already have. I'm planning to paint the wood on the chair the same color as the trim and add padded arm rests for additional comfort while nursing.  I've heard mixed things about using Poangs as gliders, but since we already have one I figure I might as well give it a shot. If you see me driving around town with a newborn this summer frantically trying to find the holy grail that is the affordable, modern, comfortable glider, you'll know the Poang was a bust.

This is the wall where the crib will go (parallel to the short wall.)  And that is the door that we will sadly be replacing.  I love the little glass window, but the door itself is old and loud (not great for middle of the night check-ins) and the knob and lock are totally busted.  I could replace the knob and lock, but then I'm back to the same polished brass mortise lock issue from last year and since I can't be using stripping agents and spray paint while pregnant, it's just a whole lot easier to replace the door with a new one and a standard knob. We plan to donate the door to the Rebuilding Center so hopefully someone else will give it the love it deserves.

Up next... the design plan!