Friday, April 11, 2014

Elephant Nursery Reveal

Hey, remember when I promised to show you the finished nursery? I won't feel bad if you don't remember since that was probably almost two months ago at this point. But, life happened, had a baby, you know...

So needless to say I had more plans for the nursery and it still doesn't feel 100% complete, but I figured I'd reveal it since it's just about as finished as it will get in the next month and that way I can just update you on the last little odds n' ends and little touches as I complete them. 



When we first found out we were having a baby, I was thrilled! And...of course thrilled to plan a nursery. I knew right away I wanted to do something gender neutral and I also wanted to use a lot of neutral colors. I also knew I needed to decorate with a budget in mind. 

First, I chose the color palette. I went with white, grey and burlap for the base of the room and chose mint as an accent color. Finding "mint" and the same minty color throughout was extremely challenging. Especially with paint. We ended up painting the nursery in Spring Mist by Martha Stewart which you can purchase at Home Depot. The color looked like a soft grey with a hint of minty green in it, but once on the walls it looked much more of a blue tint than green. We actually fell in love with the color and decided it worked well as a tinted grey and kept it up on the walls. It's actually a pretty seafoam hue which I absolutely love. Gradually the mint part of the color scheme switched to variations of a seafoam blue. You'll notice some of the pictures it looks like a grey, sometimes it looks minty and sometimes more blue. 




The crib was purchased at Buy Buy Baby and we got it for a super discounted price! It was on sale from $250 for $199 and then we used a 20% off coupon and got the crib for $160. Go us. The rocking chair we are borrowing from my parents. 




These adorable elephant sheets are from Target and were only $10 (they are on sale right now for $8!). They were the inspiration for the DIY elephant mobile above the crib and for the theme of the room. The blanket is Aden and Anais from Buy Buy Baby. I love this brand. I have a bunch of their swaddle blankets and adore how big and stretchy they are. They are also light enough that I can either double them up or use just one so that Evan doesn't get too warm. 






I framed four of my favorite ultrasound photos. Sorry for the glare on the one. I couldn't seem to get enough light without getting too much glare. The frames are from Ikea and I just cut pieces of burlap and placed the ultrasound photos on top of the burlap. 

The "E" was a gift from a friend at my shower. It's a minty green and made of tin. I love it! 

The rocking chair cover was a great find! It's from Carousel Designs Baby Bedding. It was one of the pricier items, but I got it on sale for $60 from the original price of $84. I couldn't pass up the cuteness and had a really hard time finding any other chair cushions that weren't hideous. 




This is the gorgeous basket I found at HomeGoods. I use it to hold loads of diapers so that they are easily accessible, but look adorable. And of course I love the burlap and touch of industrial feel. Brings a little texture and masculinity to the room. 






The "Evan" sign was a gift from a friend. She hand-painted it! The white shelf was actually in my room when I was a baby. It used to be a dark brown, so Frank and I painted it white and loaded it up with Evan's stuffed animals. 





There's the "E" from when I did the yarn wrapped letters for Evan's name. I ended up only using the "E" for now since I couldn't find a good place for his whole name. I may end up moving it in the future and using his full name at some point. We will see. 

The burlap bin is another HomeGoods find. I use it to keep his bath supplies, lotion and diapering cream. I just love the chalkboard label on the front. 

I still have a few decorations to work on and my parents are finishing up another piece of furniture that they should be dropping off here this weekend! I will post an update once we have it. 

For now...it looks like I have a project ahead of me with this closet. So embarrassing, but it's the truth. 


Since we only have two bedrooms, the nursery triples as his nursery, our office and my craft room. So, the closet is packed to the brim. I need to work on trying to figure out a system to organize my scrapbooking supplies, cleaning supplies and his blankets and clothes without having things tumble on my head when I open the closet door! This just might be a spring project...or series of projects.

I have to say I love being back on the blog! I am still taking it a bit easy, but plan to be posting somewhat regularly now that Evan and I seem to have fallen into a bit of a routine. Next week I'll be sharing a bit more about his first month and hopefully a small project. 

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Friday, April 4, 2014

The Truth about the First Month

Can you believe it has already been a month!? I cannot. The past few weeks have seemed like the longest yet the quickest month I've ever experienced. If this is your first time over here, check out this post to be filled in on how I gave birth to our son Evan a month ago!

Disclaimer: This is a long post where I will be bearing my soul and my experience with breastfeeding.

First of all, let me say that I absolutely love being a mom. There is nothing better than staring into your child's eyes, watching his every expression, and wondering how in the world I am lucky enough to be blessed with a son. However, I'd be lying if I said this past month was cake.

It. Was. Not.

Nobody really adequately explains the intense emotional, physical, and spiritual difficulty that is required to have a child. Nobody. I mean, I've heard the horror stories about no sleep and colic and that breastfeeding is "hard". Hard? No...let's try a better more accurate word. How about demanding, exhausting, debilitating, draining, and the most challenging thing I've ever done in my entire life. Don't get me wrong. I wanted to breastfeed and it can also be the most calming, beautiful and intimate gift as well. But when people say that it can be hard for some people, I did not even come close to imagining the reality of what that meant.




When Evan was born, because of the c-section, Frank went straight to the nursery with him while I was recovering. This part of the c-section was probably the most difficult for me. I absolutely hated waiting in my recovery room, feeling perfectly fine, knowing that my precious baby was down the hall and I didn't even get to hold him. I had to wait almost 2 hours to see him and even then I only got to hold him for about 15 minutes before they grabbed him back again for more assessments. Luckily Frank was able to do some skin to skin contact with Evan which I am so grateful for, but that first hour to two hours of time with your newborn is so important, and I missed out. Once I did get to hold him we tried breast feeding. He was able to latch, but not properly and it was very painful. After a day of struggling to feed my baby a lactation consultant informed me that Evan was tongue tied. This means that the little string of skin holding his tongue to the floor of his mouth was too long and preventing him from sucking correctly and potentially could cause him to have severe speech difficulties when he got older. After discussing the issue with a specialist, we were able to have Evan's tongue snipped and he was allowed to return to breastfeeding immediately after.

However, for the remainder of the hospital stay I felt extreme pressure from the nursery nurses and pediatricians about how much milk I was producing and how many wet diapers Evan was producing. This caused me, and I believe Evan as well, a great deal of stress. I felt like people were constantly peeking at me when I was trying to breastfeed and inquiring about how much milk I was pumping. Coupled with the intense emotions I was feeling in general along with the stress of Evan having surgery that day, I was a wreck. Once I got home things improved briefly until the doctor noticed the Evan was not gaining any weight. He gained his birth weight back but then did not gain weight for 5 days after that. The pediatrician was putting pressure on me saying that my milk was not coming in properly and demanded that I start supplementing my breast milk with formula.




When I say that the 5 days I supplemented were some of the worst days of my life I really don't think I am exaggerating. First of all, it was extremely emotional for me to give my baby formula after fighting so hard to prevent supplementation from being necessary. I felt like a failure as a mom for not being able to give my baby what he needed and desperately missed being able to breast feed him. I had to pump my milk, put it in a bottle and add formula to it. Evan immediately became more fussy, more gassy, and spit up what seemed like constantly. He was uncomfortable and it broke my heart. I knew it was best for him though and pushed forward feeding him every two hours, even at night, and handing him off to Frank immediately after each feeding so I could try to pump enough milk for the next feeding. When I wasn't able to produce enough for the next feeding I had to give formula to Evan which I desperately tried to avoid. I had to rent a hospital grade breast pump and was a slave to it during that time since I had to pump about two times in between each feeding to produce enough milk for the next feeding.

During this time I barely slept, sometimes didn't have time to eat enough, probably lost 2 pounds of weight in tears, and was constantly crying out to God "why? why me? why Evan? why can't this just be easier?" There were several times I considered giving up, but Frank continued to support me and push me to keep going. When I said breast feeding was difficult, I meant it was something I had to fight for harder than I've ever fought for something in my life. By the end of those few days my milk started to come back in and we had to check Evan's weight. When I saw that Evan gained 4oz I burst into tears in the doctor's office.




We did several weight checks after that and eventually the pediatrician allowed me to return to breast feeding full time. Evan gained 7oz last week which is fantastic and things are much, much better now, but for a few weeks I was seriously in a dark, lonely, emotional place where I really thought it might never get better. If I didn't cling on to the inspiring promising verses I kept on my breast pump and read each morning during the 1:30am, 3:30 am and 5:30 am feedings I don't think I would have gotten through it the same.

Now, I look forward to breast feeding (usually) and Evan is more alert, growing stronger, and becoming quite expressive! I feel like we climbed up a huge mountain and we have finally reached the valley. It took a ton of courage, determination, constant prayer and support from Frank and my family and friends, and an intensely strong belief that breast feeding could still work for Evan and I. I don't know what is ahead and I''m not sure how long I will continue to breastfeed, but I do know that the turmoil I went through was totally worth it to have a happy and healthy baby at the end of it...and a more happy and healthy me!

Evan and I are finally just now working into more of a routine and I am actually able to take a shower most days and I am even writing this post as he naps which seemed like such an impossibility about a week ago. This whole past month has been such a roller coaster and has literally pushed me to the absolute edge of what I am capable of and what I am only capable of with God and support systems around me. I've learned so much about how He works and how much I seriously cling onto my false sense of control. I think I will always be learning this lesson over and over again, but I think I've started to see how letting go of control is sometimes exactly what needs to happen to gain clarity and sanity and renewed strength.



So, all that being said...the first month was not a piece of cake. It was the most challenging, grueling, and the most beautiful and rewarding lesson I think I've ever learned so far. I am so thankful that I had to go through this challenge and I hope one day I can be an inspiration and a support to someone else who has to endure a similar struggle.

If you are pregnant and planning to breastfeed or a new mother struggling to breastfeed, here is what I've learned:

1. Breastfeeding is extremely challenging and draining. Drink tons of water and eat lots of food. Before you even have the baby stock up on high protein foods that are easily stashed on a table next to where you'll feed your baby. Things like: granola bars, trail mix, grapes, apple slices, crackers, etc. Keep a water bottle next to you at all times.

       1a. When people visit don't hesitate to ask them to fill your water for you or grab you more snacks since        you will likely have a hard time getting things on your own for the first couple weeks until you get the              hang of things.

2. You are doing a great job! It's true that not everyone can breastfeed, but if you really want to, you can do a ton of things to help you to fight the battle the best you can. Don't be too hard on yourself and keep pushing through--there is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of either being able to breastfeed or making the decision that formula is the better way to go and knowing you fought the good fight.

3. During my struggle I found an excellent website that totally educated me and encouraged me. Check out KellyMom for tons of evidence-based tips and information about breastfeeding.

4. Don't underestimate your instincts. I've only been a mom for a month and I've learned if you really tune into your baby you can learn so much about him/her. This whole experience really taught me about listening to Evan and tuning into his needs and also listening to my own motherly instincts that I really believe God gives to us to help us know what our babies need.

5. Don't underestimate the power of a nap. The whole time I was struggling I got hardly any sleep. I tried to avoid using a bottle with Evan out of fear of "nipple confusion" and instead drove my body into the ground by neglecting my own needs for food, water and sleep. No wonder my milk was dwindling! The day I allowed Frank to feed Evan a bottle of my expressed milk, let go and trusted that if Evan was crying Frank could handle it and took a two hour nap, that was the day I started to notice my milk production increasing and my energy renewed.

6. Accept help. It is so hard for me to accept help sometimes and I think it is the same for many other people as well. But, simply, do it. If someone offers to clean your bathroom, get over the fact that it's probably got toothpaste caked on the sink and the wastebasket is overflowing and just say yes! Thank you so much! People want to help and although letting go of your pride can be challenging, having a nice clean bathroom and one less thing to worry about is so worth it. Plus, if the person really cares about you, they will not think any less of you for the chores you've allowed them to help you with.

7. Breastfeeding is one of the most rewarding things I've done. There's nothing like spending that close, intimate time with your baby, looking into his eyes and holding him close and seeing him calm and relaxed when he's all fed. There's nothing like knowing that my baby is full and satisfied from food that my body specially produced for him. If you want to breastfeed, keep fighting! Don't let people make you feel like you shouldn't. There are circumstances that prevent some women from breastfeeding, but if you can, fight the battle as long as you can, because the reward is amazing.

***I am completely aware that not everyone can breastfeed nor does everyone choose to breastfeed. I don't think there is anything wrong with feeding a baby formula. Many, many people do it and there's nothing wrong with it. I just felt very strongly that breast feeding was the right thing for Evan and I and I wanted to do anything I could in my power to make that happen.***

I hope to be making a few more appearances here in the next week or so and then hopefully I will be getting back into some projects as long as little Mr. Evan continues to be such a great napper! In the meantime...keep in touch!

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Baby Love

So, if you've been following me on Twitter or Instagram you know that Mr. Evan was born early in the morning on Tuesday March 4th. I'm just stopping by for a bit to share our birth story with you. (and of course some pictures!)

On Monday I had my 38 week appointment and found out that Evan was breech and needed to be delivered via c-section. Because Frank and I had decided from the beginning we wanted the most natural birth possible for our little guy, we were devastated. We had attended Hypnobirthing classes, which is an alternative to the more common Lamaze style of birthing. Hynobirthing reminds women of their God-given ability to birth and that birthing a baby is not supposed to be painful or scary. It can be the most wonderful, powerful and empowering experience. For the past few months Frank and I have learned how I can naturally calm and relax myself and the baby through guided imagery, calm breathing and to tap into my body's own source of oxytocin and endorphins to handle the discomfort medication free.

When we found out that Evan was breech and that the c-section would be scheduled for the next day I was devastated and worried and quite honestly, scared. I had prepared myself well for labor, but this? I did not prepare for major abdominal surgery or for missing out on the beautiful natural birth that I desired. However, God had better plans. Time and time again God seems to reveal to me that my plans are far less wonderful than His.

We took the day on Monday to tie up loose ends, enjoyed the day together, and prepared for Evan's scheduled arrival on Tuesday at 10am. We checked our bags, cleaned up the house a bit more, and relaxed together watching a movie.

Then it happened. Around 10pm just as the movie was ending, I started to feel contractions (or surges as we are taught to term them with hypnobirthing). They were pretty mild and since I had had rehearsal labor twice before I didn't think much of it, took a shower and continued to go about my evening. Around 11pm the surges were so strong I had to start using my hypnobirthing breathing and started to time them. They were about 40-45 seconds long and 4 minutes apart. Frank insisted that we call my midwife to ask about what to do. She told us to time the surges for one more hour and if they were close together still, we would come into the hospital this evening.

Frank and I waited the hour and I began to listen to my music and tried to ride the waves of each surge. At midnight the midwife had us come into the hospital and we still got to experience that exciting drive to the hospital we thought we wouldn't get to experience! As we drove we were both so excited and I had such a peace that Evan was ready to meet us despite our scheduled c-section. This made me feel so much more at ease. I never wanted to feel like we were ripping him out of the womb before he was ready. One of the things I love most about hypnobirthing is that the mother and the baby work together throughout the birthing process. I wanted to be in sync with his needs and allow him to call the shots.

Once we got settled in the hospital, around 1am, the surges were about 2-3 minutes apart and getting stronger and stronger. I ended up laboring through the night for 10 hours.

That night was difficult, but at the same time, it was the most beautiful experience. Instead of being awake all night anxiously awaking my 10am c-section from my bed at home, I was laying in the hospital room working with Evan as he was trying to come into the world. We worked together, I talked to him, I prayed for him and myself for the procedure that morning, listened to music and just kept on riding the surges the best I could with no medication at all.

That morning we ended up going into the OR for the surgery around 8am. I even used my breathing and relaxation techniques in the OR. I was so scared about the procedure, but I prayed, breathed and just kept on thinking about what Evan's little face would look like. Once we were all settled, Frank entered and stood by the left side of my head. As they proceeded to deliver Evan, we were both overwhelmed with emotions. I was surprisingly calm, relaxed and so at peace which I am so thankful for. The second we heard his cry was the happiest moment of my life. 





I don't ever want to forget the emotions that I felt during that time and the way that God was able to turn something so disappointing into such a beautiful and memorable experience for us. I continued to use the strategies I had learned and leaned on God as I recovered from surgery. It worked so well that I didn't even need to take the Percocet the hospital was offering me. I stuck with some Motrin the whole time. I wanted to be as present as possible for Evan and even that was a testament to how you can totally work through your perception of pain with relaxation, and your body's natural pain killers.





I didn't share this because I think Hypnobirthing is for everyone--it may not be. And I am not saying that Lamaze is bad. I just had such an amazing experience, even with having a c-section, that I felt absolutely compelled to share my story.




Evan is 1 week old--I cannot believe how quickly time has passed! Frank and I are completely in love with him and I am healing quickly.For the rest of the week and possibly next week I am going to take it easy and only blog when I have the opportunity--so posts may be few and far between for a bit. Please follow me on Instagram and twitter for more pictures of Evan and updates on how we are doing.

For more information about Hypnobirthing:

Maria Monogan Method (the method I used)
Hypnobirthing (the book we read)


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Monday, March 3, 2014

38 Week Update



Thirty eight weeks! We are officially full term and expecting our sweet little boy to arrive any day now! This past week has felt like a whirlwind, hence my lack of posts the past few days. I have been extra busy at work trying to wrap up all of the loose ends, busy cleaning the house and finishing up some odds and ends in the nursery.

Symptoms/Progress:

I've been slowly noticing changes in the way I have been feeling. Much more tired and also achy. I've also had a few rounds of contractions, but nothing consistent or anything that intensifies, so it seems like we're just getting closer and closer! The baby has also "dropped" which makes it very difficult going up and down stairs. Today we are actually going to our 38 week appointment and will be having our last ultrasound to estimate the baby's weight and to detect any progress.

Also, swollen. Yuck. I haven't been able to wear my wedding rings since around October. Over the weekend I was missing them and decided to see if they'd fit. Nope. Not even close. My toes are even swollen. I'm surprised most of my flats still fit!

I'm also big. Like waddling around and feeling awkwardly huge no matter what I'm doing big. And my longest and biggest shirts are barely covering my belly anymore. Good thing this baby is due any minute now because I refuse to buy more clothes and prefer to not have my belly hanging out in public.



Cravings:

Cravings have not changed much at all, but I have been thinking about all the food that I am going to want to stuff my face with the second that baby comes out. Right now, I want a full pie of pizza, about a pound of pasta, chocolate chip cookies, Entenmann's crumb glazed donuts, french fries, mashed potatoes, and cupcakes!!! I know, I'm totally going to gain about 30 pounds in a week, but after two months of watching everyone else eat while I munch on baby carrots and rice cakes I think I deserve a bit of time to indulge guilt-free.

Progress:

As far as the nursery goes, it's pretty much done. Clothes, sheets and blankets are all washed, folded and put away. Furniture is all set up. We also installed a shelf next to the changing table and I am currently finishing up some photos for the walls. As soon as everything is hung up I am hoping to post a tour of the nursery before the baby comes. I hope I get to that sometime this week.

Frank and I are now in the waiting stage. Anxiously waiting to meet our precious little boy and see what he looks like and cuddle with him. I think these last two weeks are the most challenging yet just because we have no idea when he will come into the world and we are so excited and can't wait!



Just to make the excitement even better, my beautiful cousin Kristen is due on the 6th--so soon! On top of anxiously awaiting our baby, I find myself checking my phone for an update on whether she's having her little baby girl. It's going to be an exciting couple of weeks ahead--I feel it already.

Oh and by the way, I hope you are staying warm today. We are getting some more snow (cue grumpy face). I am SO ready for Spring, aren't you?


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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2014 Make-over Brainstorm

Confession: I love lists. I'm that person that will write a list just to check things off. If I did something I forgot to add to the list I'll write it at the bottom just so I can cross it off. For some reason looking at a list with lots of things checked off is so satisfying. I know I'm not the only person who does this. Admit it. You love lists too.

Lately I've been making all sorts of mental lists of all the things I want to accomplish in our new condo. I've made boards on my Pinterest page full of DIY projects I want to tackle and decor inspiration for each room of our home. Finally I decided it was time to make a real list. This past weekend I took the time to go through each room of our home and jot down things that needed changing, ideas I have brainstormed over the past few months, and projects waiting to be accomplished. I decided to type up the list so that it will hopefully keep me focused, motivated, and besides, looking at all the things crossed off at the end of the year is going to be oh-so-satisfying. You with me? 

I decided to share my list with you here complete with a couple of inspiration photos. I think sharing it openly will not only hold me accountable to the list, but I hope it will also serve as an extra kick in the butt to get myself motivated to cross things off that list! Since the baby is expected to arrive any minute now, I won't promise anything in particular like completing one item a week since that will most likely be impossible until I get rest and heal and get the little one into somewhat of a routine. But, I will say, I plan to start to use my time more wisely. I think it will be a much needed skill with an infant. This means, nap time is going to be precious. 

I guess I should head to the local craft store and home improvement store to stock up on a few supplies to last me a few projects just so I have the needed items on hand to make the best of any down time I do find between naps, feedings, and general chaos of learning to be a parent. 

So bear with me through the coming weeks and months, but here is our 2014 home improvement bucket list if you will:

1.    Entryway

Make your enter way shelfs with wooden crates. Easy and cheap!

·         Hooks for keys
·         phone charging station
·         DIY extra pegboard for entry wall
·         Wall art
·         Shoe rack
·         Large rug

2.    Kitchen

Kitchen cupboard

·         Clock
·         Wooden sign for above doorway to dining room
·         Organize under counter cabinet
·         Organize Evan’s eating supplies
·         Organize recipes
·         Wall art 
·         Spice rack
·         Decorate white canisters
·         Recycling bin solution

3.    Dining room

Kitchen Shelf D├ęcor. White, Black, Rustic, Shabby Chic, Swedish decor Idea. ***Pinned by oldattic ***.

·         Indoor herb garden
·         Install open shelving above hutch
·         Wine Rack
·         Rug
·         Re-paint table and chairs

4.    Porch

Party Globe Light String

·         Window boxes for herb garden
·         String lights on balcony
·         Outdoor rug
·         DIY wind chime

5.    Living Room

benjamin moore copely gray

·         New pillows or pillow covers
·         Clock
·         Mantel or shelf above fireplace
·         Small table for between reading chairs
·         Bench by staircase
·         Dress up bookcases
·         Replace blinds with curtains and pull-backs
·         Add wall art behind the couch and on fireplace wall

6.    Half Bathroom

flowers for the bathroom. shabby chic mason jar

·         Replace existing towel racks 
·         Ask permission to take down wallpaper and re-paint
·         Shelving for above the toilet

7.    Stairway
·         Map/wall art

8.    Full Bathroom

DIY Rustic Bathroom Shelves! Easy and inexpensive. via designdininganddiapers.com

·         Repaint pegboard
·         Wall art
·         Install shelf above toilet

9.    Office Area


·         Scrapbook supply organization system
·         Paint filing cabinet
·         Shelving for craft supplies
·        Inspiration/memo board for above desk
·         Repaint desk and chair
·         Organize desk
·         Organize home binders

10. Baby’s Room
·         Add wall art
·         White shelf 
·         DIY trashcan

11. Bedroom

love this headboard

·         Wall Art above bed
·         Repaint dresser
·         Repaint night stands
·         Under-the-bed storage solution
·         Mirror for above dresser
·         Makeover headboard

12. Garage

garage storage cart plan

·         Organize sports gear
·         Create tool area
·         DIY project station
·         Organize gardening supplies

13. Laundry Room
·         Clean and organize

14. Front Door

Zinc & Sedum

·         New door mat
·         Basket/potted flowers


Do you have a list like this for your home projects? What's one home project you have been wanting to do, but have not yet tackled? I dare you to do it!


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