So, I officially have started my maternity leave! In theory, maternity leave is supposed to be a time of relaxing and waiting for baby to arrive, but we have so much to do before that happens. I don’t know any mom who was able to kick back and read baby books while eating bonbons and sparkling apple juice (or ice cream and pickles…whatever your craving is today). It’s all about getting those last few things done before you have a new little person who needs you 24/7.
Happy MLK Jr. Day! It’s a holiday, which means Lil’Man’s daycare is closed. But it’s not a mandatory holiday, so the Mr has to go to work. So, really, my first day of leave is pretty unproductive, but I gotta say: Lil’Man was awesome. He’s in his terrible 2s stage and I was expecting a rough day, but he was great. I even took him out to eat lunch at his favorite place as a treat. The day was exhausting (most things are these days), but the Mr came home to a messy house — legos, throw pillows and laundry EVERYWHERE — but a pretty happy kid and mom.
This is when I started getting stuff done. The nursery is in dire straits — boxes everywhere, picture frames for the entire house stacked up along one whole wall, half the curtains draped over a bin full of wall paint samples, a new rug and pad rolled up and leaning in the corner, stacks of mail in need of sorting sitting on a console that needs to be moved the the family room…in general, it’s just a mess. On top of that, the room is missing some essentials: a crib mattress, a changing pad, and a diaper pail to list just a few things. So, a trip to Babies R Us was in order.
I was able to pick up most of the missing items. In an ideal world, Lil’Man would be potty trained and wouldn’t need his changing pad or diaper pail. But this isn’t an ideal world and we are in the midst of what looks to be a loooooong period of potty training. I know that some families manage to train their tot over one intense weekend (more or less), but not us. We are taking it a day at a time. He’s doing fine (he does better at school, where his friends are all training as well. Ah, peer pressure starts so early) but he’s not quite ready to ditch the diapers 100%.
Anyhow, we love the Diaper Genie we got for Lil’Man, so I got another. The changing pad we got him is great, but now that he’s so tall, he’s complaining about how short it is. I got a longer, 2-sided pad that I’m hoping he likes better. Then, we’ll swap the smaller one into his sister’s room. I also grabbed some crib sheets and a few cute newborn outfits that were on sale. Unfortunately, the scant selection of crib mattresses left something to be desired.
I really liked the organic mattress we’d gotten for Lil’Man and it’s held up really well. He’s still using it in his toddler bed and finds it suitable for his sleeping and jumping needs. I was pretty sure I knew the brand, but I wasn’t seeing it in the store anymore. I left without buying a mattress, but as soon as I got home, I checked Lil’Man’s bed. It was the brand I remembered (Stearns & Foster), but I also checked the manufacturer: Kolcraft. Turns out they make more than just S&F mattresses. I hopped on Amazon and found just the right mattress for my little girl: a Sealy mattress that was nearly identical to the S&F mattress, but for about 1/2 the price (more due to an Amazon discount rather than the actual retail). I ordered that, plus some NB diapers (because that was just another thing we were lacking).
I finally picked up a key piece of art for the nursery that I had decided to have professionally framed. I’ve used the company before to frame tons of stuff and never had a problem. For some reason, though, this print had gotten lost in the system. I sent it off and never heard from them — not even an invoice or bill, which had me particularly worried. I don’t know what happened, but after 2 months of speaking with them on the phone and meeting once with the owner face-to-face, they finally were able locate my print and get it framed beautifully.
After that, I spent the rest of the week keeping my prenatal appointments, attending daycare parent/teacher meetings, working on other projects around the house (like hanging some art in the kitchen and finally taking down the Christmas decorations) and running errands like returning a Nest thermostat (which the Mr had me buy on my way home when he mistakenly thought a contractor had broken ours), purchasing some hardware at OSH to update our doors, and buying ELFA for an organization project. I know that my two main goals are paramount, but there’s so much to do around our house that I can’t possibly ignore other little projects.
I start my maternity leave this week, so I finally felt like I’ll have time to get a few things done around the house. Most of my energy is focused on two key goals:
1) Get the new nursery in good order. Now, this doesn’t mean decorate…I just want to get the sucker livable for our baby girl. Decorating and styling would be a bonus at this point. Since moving in, it’s become a dumping ground for every box, frame and piece of furniture we weren’t sure what to do with just yet. I have childproofed the door because I don’t think it’s safe for Lil’Man to wander in there by himself — it’s that bad.
2) Make the offices/spare bedrooms comfortable. The Mr and I are lucky enough to have two spare bedrooms downstairs that we use as our offices (or man/woman caves, depending on who you ask). This is where our parents will be staying when they come to visit the newest member of our family. Unfortunately, neither room is very welcoming right now. That needs to change ASAP. Arrival dates for the grandparents have been set, so we’re on a deadline.
There are a slew of other, smaller tasks I want to complete, but 80% of my efforts will probably go toward these two biggies.
The nursery feels, simultaneously, somewhat urgent and not. This is because I know that newborns couldn’t care less what color their walls are or if they have the perfect room layout as long as they are warm, dry, fed and generally loved. Plus, we’ve discovered during this winter that the nursery gets COLD at night. During the day, it’s fine, but nighttime temps get to near freezing and that room does not hold onto heat. We think it’s a combination of a few things: it’s above the garage (which is basically a big, empty, cold space), the ceiling above it needs better insulation, and the windows are old and just plain drafty. We’ll obviously have to fix all this, but we can’t afford to do all that anytime soon. So, we plan to have our little lady stay in our room for a while. Lil’Man wasn’t a fan of his bassinet, but we’re hoping that his sister is more tolerant of sleeping in one. Hopefully, by the time she outgrows the bassinet, it will be spring and her room will be more comfortable. All that said, the nursery is in dire need of attention. Most of the stuff in there belongs elsewhere in the house (or even, in a garage sale or donation drop-off). Besides, it would be nice to be able to put her down in her room during the day, even if it’s too cold at night.
As for the spare bedrooms, both are packed full of boxes. The Mr’s room is in slightly better shape — we’ve had our parents visit and stay in that bedroom soon after we moved in, so it wasn’t as bad to start with. It’s accumulated a few more boxes recently, but the Mr is working on organizing all that and I’m letting him do his thing. My office, on the other hand, is a disaster zone. I haven’t organized a darn thing since we moved in or even emptied any of the boxes that the movers placed in that room. In fact, I’ve tossed a few more boxes and bags in there over the past few months which have blocked off any pathway through the room that might have once existed. And thanks to said movers, I now have a broken antique desk that I still need to fix. It’s always needed a bit of love, but now it’s currently sitting in a corner in pieces, looking completely forlorn. My once beautiful desk is now filling the room with a vibe of hopelessness. Not good.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this week is the start of a whirlwind effort to get these rooms in shape and the house, in general, in a good state. I’m also hoping that this wiggly little kid in my belly doesn’t decide to show up too early and throw off all our plans. Wish me luck!
This past Christmas we visited the Mr’s family. That means tons of fun, food and general awesomeness. It was really great to see everyone, but especially to meet our new nephew who’s only 3 months old. Lil’Man in particular loved meeting him and we were thrilled to see how the two interacted. We still are teaching him to be gentle with his soon-to-arrive baby sister, but it was great to see that he showed a good deal of care around his little cousin.
Anyhow…I was going to talk about cookies and got distracted by the warm fuzzies of seeing tiny cousins together. They were truly adorable. I was so caught up watching them, I never thought to grab my camera. I’m kicking myself for that now, because, cuteness!
ETA: My sis-in-law took few pics of the cousins playing and watching cartoons while the Mr and I were on a movie date.
Right…cookies. Well, Lil’ Man’s Mimi makes some of the best Christmas cookies ever. Plus, the sheer variety of cookies she bakes for the holidays is astounding. It’s not as if she makes a base dough and then makes a few, slightly varied cookies. No, they are all completely different classes of cookies. She claims she cut back this year, but there were still about a dozen types of totally different cookies to choose from.
Usually Lil’Man’s favorite cookies involve chocolate and (as I was saying) he had quite the selection to choose from. Imagine my surprise when he repeatedly selected a cherry-studded cookie over chocolate chip! I was stunned, but pleasantly so. I love that my boy loves chocolate (especially given that the Mr is not a chocolate lover. Yeah, I don’t get it either) but I’m thrilled that he likes more than just the one flavor. Especially the fact that he likes sweet/tart flavors. Yay!
His Mimi also noticed that he loved the cherry cookies, so before we left, she offered to send us off with some of the dried cherries she had left over. I jumped at the chance to take some home. As soon as she offered, I had it in my head that I was going to make a chocolate-cherry bread, but after browsing through recipes, I decided to make cookies. The best bread recipe I found was a sourdough. It looked amazing and I love sourdough, but the Mr decidedly does not. And, quite frankly, I didn’t think that we could finish a whole loaf, what with my not wanting to overload the kiddo with sugar, the Mr not loving chocolate, and my current dietary restrictions. No need to waste deliciousness, so cookies won out.
Oatmeal Chocolate-Cherry Cookies
I saw a sign somewhere that said something like, “Cookies that look like chocolate chip but turn out to be raisin are the reason I have trust issues. ” That is totally me. Oatmeal Raisin being the most common impostor, I always promised myself I’d make my own Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies. So, I made these. Turns out they just go above and beyond thanks to the tartness of the cherries. So yummy!
1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick or instant oats)
1 cup dried cherries
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chunks
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or line baking sheets.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
In a mixer bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add vanilla and almond extracts.
Gradually add the dry mixture to the butter mixture just until combined. Avoid overmixing! Fold in oats, cherries, and chocolate. (I ran out of chocolate chunks and shored up my measuring cup with E.Guittard wafers…they worked just fine.)
Scoop tablespoon-sized balls of batter and drop onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until bottom edges are lightly browned. Cool on pans for a few minutes (they’ll be too soft to move for a bit), then move to a wire rack to cool completely (they’ll crisp up just a little if you wait).
My little man helped me make these (which mostly involved his watching the mixer and taste-testing along the way). He was Quality Control and sampled the chips and cherries before we added them to the dough. I was worried he might balk at the oatmeal, but he loves these cookies. So far the dough seems to freeze quite well which is a necessity in our house. I imagine that these would work well with any tart berry, so have fun experimenting!
As we were returning home from a lunch out with the family, I realized I needed to check my blood glucose levels.
Lil’Man: What’s mommy doing?
The Mr : She’s checking her blood sugar.
Lil’Man: Why she checking her bluuuh-sugar?
The Mr : Because she’s so sweet! She has to be careful or she might turn into chocolate.
The Mr : Do you want mommy to turn into chocolate?
Lil’Man: Yes, we eat her and then we’ll go to the store and get another Christina!
I feel so loved :) and I couldn’t stop laughing.
So, I haven’t really talked about being pregnant, though I know a lot of bloggers do. I’ve had pretty standard pregnancies (morning sickness, being ridiculously tired, weird dreams, not being able to touch my toes easily eight months in…like I said, typical), except that I have gestational diabetes. I’ve been lucky in that both pregnancies I’ve avoided having to take insulin shots and been able to manage with just adjusting my diet. This time is a bit more tricky since I’m having to deal with the Christmas holidays. The cookies and candies and other assorted holiday treats taunt me at every turn.
With our little lady soon making her debut, we really want to make sure that we don’t forget to make Lil’Man feel special also. I feel that we’ve been taking a ridiculously long time getting his room setup, but I’m hoping that the fact that he has all his favorite books and toys — Legos, trains, blocks — set up in our living room has helped. As it is, the room we chose for him started out quite… Boring. Beige. Blah. Bleak, even.
It’s hard to tell in this photo from the realtor listing, but the paint is dingy and that carpet is hideous. The sellers claimed the carpet was “new” but I swear it was last popular in the early 70′s. The first thing we did, before even moving in, was rip out that terrible, allergen-collecting shag from all the upstairs rooms (this room, the adjoining hall, the master suite and the nursery-to-be). We chose a hickory that coordinated with the existing hardwood in the living/dining area. I never imagined I’d choose a flooring like that, but I kinda love it in this house. We also added nice, wide baseboards, replacing that plain, brown, quarter-round. (The contractor tried to talk me out of the taller baseboard. He said it would make the room feel smaller, but I think he just didn’t want to deal with the wider and, therefore, stiffer boards. So glad I listened to my instincts!) Finally, we ripped out the closet doors. They were cheap plywood doors on noisy runners and I thought curtains would work fine.
After that initial burst of work, it took a while to figure out what we wanted for his room. He’s no longer just a baby (even though he’s still my tiny baby boy) and the bright circus theme we had in his nursery doesn’t quite fit him anymore. When he plays with his Duplos, he creates stories about puppies, kitties, and monkeys, but also about robots, dinosaurs, spiders, monsters, trains, and alligators. And I sometimes hear him make little exploding sounds as his creations fly through the air. *shakes head*
I want to make sure we encourage that creative mish-mash of characters in his room, so I decided that themes were out the window (I know some people really dislike them anyhow, but I’ve found them to be a good way of focusing my ideas and I try not to get TOO caught up in a theme, at any rate). I also didn’t want to limit the colors in his room too much. I wanted him to have a colorful room that would embrace his wide variety of interests without getting too…chaotic (he has to sleep in here, after all).
At the same time, I didn’t want to get rid of the big items we’d invested in for his nursery. As it was,the move meant that we had the opportunity to really make a room specific to him and I wanted to take advantage of that as much as possible. We still have the dresser and the rocker. The Mr converted his crib to a toddler bed when we moved. It might have been a bit early since he seemed happy enough to stay in his crib and hadn’t started climbing out yet. However, we thought that making the transition to the new house also be his transition to “big boy” room would go over well and we were right — he was pretty excited with it and adjusted very quickly. Even after all these months, he’s only gotten out of bed once in the middle of the night (and, even then, he cried for me to come get him at his doorway).
Anyhow, here’s the general feel for the room we’re hoping is great for a toddler, but has room for him to grow:
A far cry from the terrible tan that dominated the room when we first saw it! I hope that the neutral furniture with the blues on the wall, the curtains and the rug will ground the room while still having a ton of color and fun in the rest of the decor. It really does feel more like it will match the boundless energy of a toddler, don’t you think?
Since the painters finished last week, Lil’Man’s room is currently a lovely shade of blue. It makes a HUGE difference! When he came home after that first day, I told him to go look at his room. He excitedly ran in and jumped onto his bed in a flurry of wiggles and giggles. Then, he started petting the wall saying, “I love my blue walls!” It was adorable. We’ve done quite a bit more, but we still have to rearrange furniture and hang art, so you’ll just have to wait for the next update to see the next step in our toddler room’s (slow but steady) transformation!
| Curtains: West Elm Navy Stripe Shower Curtain | Lighting: Industrial Cage Ceiling Light | Lamp: Green Table Lamp | Art: ABC Animals print, 123 Animals Framed Giclee | Clock: Karlsson Wall Clock | Knickknacks & Toys: Toy Dinosaurs, Discontinued Target Circo Robot Bank, Toy Trains | Bin: Land of Nod Bin | Toddler Bed: Babyletto Modo 3-in-1 Crib | Bedding: Circo Modern Robot Bed Set | Rug: IKEA Eivor Cirkel | Rocker: Crate & Barrel Hathaway Rocker | Pillows: ABC Pillows, Melange Pillow | Dresser: IKEA Hemnes Dresser | Nightlight: J Schatz Egglamp |