Friday, September 30, 2011

Our Story, Part XIV: Semper Paratus Wedding Plans

Well Baby Girl seems intent on NOT having her own birth month.  She must take after her father in this area, I would have done everything in my power to preserve my uniqueness.  So unless some freak sort of labor starts up soon, we're in store for another October baby.  Seems like a good night to continue on with "Our Story."  If you need to catch up on past installments of "Our Story" you can do so here.

The Coast Guard's motto is Semper Paratus.  It's a good thing I spent four years in high school studying the incredibly useful langugage of Latin, because I can now tell you without any help from Google, that it means always prepared.  Of course, you've probably heard it all before on this blog.  It's a favorite phrase in our house.  I really do appreciate the meaning and I would say that here in our little Coastie abode we live up to this motto fairly well.  But it also makes me laugh because the military lifestyle often leaves little room for preparedness.  Unless they mean "always prepared to have the rug pulled out from under your feet" or "always prepared to move somewhere unknown at a moment's notice" or "always prepared to say goodbye to your hubby this very minute if necessary" ... I digress.

Proverbs 16:9 says "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps."  In this case, "A woman's heart plans her wedding, but the government directs its time."

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Virginia Aquarium IMAX theater.

We set the date for July 15 and originally had hopes to wed in the little white chapel where my parents said their vows and where my G'Ma attended church.  But we later determined that it was too small for our guest list, too hot in July without air conditioning, and too ridiculous that the pastor of the church (whom I didn't even know) had to be the one to pronounce us husband and wife.  So we settled on our home church (a.k.a. a done-over movie theater) and our dear family pastor that Jon and I both grew up with.  By the time I returned to school that fall I had a date, church, reception hall and wedding dress.  Since I had a very full and busy semester, and since Jon was away in training for most of that fall, we decided that was enough details to get us through until after the holidays, when we would have more time to plan.

Fall 2005 was a tough semester for me.  It was strange being engaged, but not having your fiance around.  I felt like I needed to be all grown up and responsible, but I still wanted to have fun.  Then again, between my courseload and jobs, I didn't have much time for fun anyway.  I did manage two trips down to Virginia to spend some quality time with my guy though.  Those trips were the highlights of my semester!

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But then I'd come back and get all depressed again.  And it didn't help that Jon seemed to be having more fun with his roommates than with me.  He, Nick and Luke would cook fancy dinners together, light a fire in the fireplace, watch movies, walk on the beach, take out the jet ski or go to the mall.  Of course, this was only the beginning.  I had no idea what kind of imposition a new bride can be on her hubby's "buddies," especially the ones he's been through thick and thin with during the past 5 years.  But that's another story.

Of course, every moment we'd get to spend together made it harder and harder to be apart.  And then Jon started scoping out the local courthouse and discussing a little meeting with the Justice of the Peace.  And then he broke down the numbers and determined the thousands of dollars we'd make in benefits, separation pay, housing allowance, etc. if we married a little earlier than July 15.  And I wouldn't have to worry about living without health insurance for 7 months.  And it would all be so easy and fun ...

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I have tons of "self-timer" pictures like this per my guy's request in those days.

But don't worry Mom and Dad and anyone else who's wondering, we didn't do it.  Jon and I were never married before our wedding date.  In fact, it soon didn't matter anymore because right around Thanksgiving, while I was out with some friends to see "Pride and Prejudice" and have dinner, Jon called to say that his long spring patrol - the 3-monther - was now switched to May through August.  Smack-dab over our wedding date.  So we had two options: get married in the winter and spend an entire summer without my husband or hold off until after his return and celebrate our nuptials with a beautiful Pennsylvania fall backdrop...

December 2, 2005
"At first I was a little upset - stupid Coast Guard.  But now the wedding is March 25th and I'm way more happy with that.  Only 4 months!"

Which also meant only 4 months to plan almost the entire wedding, since I had been putting it off.  And I still had to finish my semester and get myself graduated.  Thankfully that all went off without a hitch.

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My little December graduation ... nothing like a Coast Guard Academy grad week!

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By Christmas 2005 (which we sadly spent apart since Jon was deployed at the time) I was officially a degreed woman.  A degreed woman without a job.  But I was excited about throwing myself into planning our sweet wedding ceremony and happy future together!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Locked and Loaded

I am ready. 

Long time blog readers may be shocked at that statement.  I'm the girl who never feels ready to have a baby.  I'm the preggo who always hopes to "go late."  I'm the sentimental mama who wants just one more day to savor that "baby in my belly" feeling.

But this time is different.  I am ready.

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38 weeks
Don't get me wrong, I'm still crazy nervous about bringing a newborn into this circus of a house.  And if I knew I wasn't due for a month or two I'd be happy to keep right on going this way.  But I'm not.  Baby could freely, healthily come tonight ... or 4 weeks from now.  And knowing that is making me edgy.  And not knowing how things are going to go with three small children is making me edgy too.  And so to get past all this edginess I say we just do it!  Let's have this kid.

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And then my husband attempts the "so this is our last one, right?" conversation and suddenly I just want to be pregnant forever.  I'm full-term for the third time in three years.  I'm emotional and anxious and uncomfortable.  And my mind is so pre-occupied with baby and birth and all the logistics that go along with that.  Let's not have this discussion right now.

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According to the midwife this morning baby is "locked and loaded."  Head down ... down ... down.  She's not going anywhere but out.  Which means we're well on our way to full-blown labor.  Which doesn't really mean anything because babies can hang out like that for hours ... or weeks. 

And even though I've been steadily gaining one pound a week for months now, today I was only measuring 35 weeks.  Once the baby really drops though those measurements start to become inaccurate.  In other words, we won't be getting much bigger around here.

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I've certainly done my part in the "growth" area.

And so I feel like I've maxed this pregnancy out, we've run our course Baby Girl.  We've done all there is to do.  If you want to hang out in there a little longer and get chunky that's okay.  But I'd love to have a September baby, just to mix things up a bit.  And just in case you do decide to come sooner rather than later, Mama's got our bag all packed.  But let's keep this just between us.  Because I have a feeling if you asked your Daddy when would be a convenient time, well we just might never get an answer.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Be Our Guest!

I don't know if it's the season, or the fact that we're in a more exciting location than we were last year, or if it's because we live in a much higher Coastie-concentrated area than we have in the past ... but we've been having lots of guests lately.  And it's so nice! The hubby and I do so love to entertain.  You don't need to ask him twice to grill up some of his famous "Stern's Chicken."  And I'm always looking for an excuse to pull out "the good dishes."  So there was no question that one of our first major projects was converting the former theater room to a guest room (with big closets for Jon's uniforms and my sewing/craft stuff). 

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Goodbye nasty theater screen wall!
 Since this area has a large military population, and since Jon nearly always has a former classmate or two living within driving distance, we've reconnected with a few of his fellow Coastguardsmen and their wives.  Being part of one of the smaller branches of service has its drawbacks, namely the community aspect.  We've never lived on a base.  I haven't been to a commissary or exchange since we left Virginia.  I've never been involved in a spouses club.  And I still don't know what all those acronyms stand for.  So it's good for me to connect with some fellow military wives.  And Jon is always on the look-out for a golfing buddy.

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Welcome to our home!

Nonnie and Poppie came down over Labor Day to get one last visit with our family-of-four.  Nonnie must be cleaning out the attic because she brought a small pile of Jon's kid-things.  It took some coaxing but we were able to convince Jack to try on this suede vest that used to be his daddy's. 

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My kid, not in to dress-up?!?

And have I mentioned how much I LOVE the mall here?  And I'm not just saying that because they have a train. 

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Yeah, a train runs through the mall.  My boys love it!  Ok well Jude didn't love it at first.

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But he warmed up by the end.

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Now he talks about trains and "choo choos" all the time!

My high school friend, Jori, is still within driving distance and so she stopped by for lunch the other week and a tour of the new digs.  Jack loves Jori's visits.  He usually saves her a seat at the table for the next week after she's been here.  This particular get-together was extra-special because Mommy and Jori had apple crisp and tea for dessert... and Jack didn't want left out.

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We're still working on the "pinky up" skill.

Let's just say the hubs was less than thrilled when Jack greeted him after work with, "Daddy, we have tea party!"  And thank you Jori for teaching my son how to clink glasses, it's now his favorite dinner-table activity.

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It's been over two years since my college roommate, Andi, got married.  And that's the last time I saw her and our other college friend Elaine.  So we were all excited to finally coordinate schedules and find a free day to spend together.  Elaine and Andi drove down from the Philly area last weekend to meet my boys and explore the area.

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Andi, Me and Elaine

We spent Saturday walking around downtown Annapolis.  It was fun to visit all the little shops.  We didn't buy much, but I got several good ideas for Christmas presents and craft sessions.

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This is on my new "to-craft" list for the boys' room: canvas sailboat weighted doorstoppers.

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And I was just a touch disappointed when my plans for a historical experience were foiled.  Both sites we attempted to visit were closed, despite advertising "Open come on in!" Such a tease.

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The historian/librarian was less-than-impressed with the false advertising.

We had some very special guests this weekend - Jon's grandparents from New York, Grammie and Grandpa!  It's a long trip and our family of four can be a wild bunch, so we were honored that our boys' great-grandparents made the effort to visit us and see our new abode.

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Jude, who is usually content to stay close to his mama, took a particular liking to Grandpa.  During our first night of dinner he crawled up on his lap, grabbed his cheeks and pulled him in for a few of his famous slobbery, open-mouthed kisses. 

We decided to check out the National Aquarium in Baltimore while they were here.  It's a personal favorite from my childhood but I haven't been back in many, many years. 

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We talked up the visit all morning, telling Jack that we were going to see dolphins, sharks ... and Uncle Jared.  Yup, our favorite "Maryland Uncle" met up with us for the day, and we appreciated the extra set of adult hands.  It's always nice to outnumber the kiddos on outings.

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I said, "Jack, show me your excited face!"


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There it is!


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Jude kept playing this game with Uncle Jared.  We had no idea what he was doing but he thought it was hilarious.

The Dolphin Show was a huge hit!  It was a little hard to keep Jack seated, or at least from jumping over the seat in front of him.  And according to Uncle Jared the show his giddy little nephews put on was just as good as the one the dolphins did.

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I was quite fond of the jellyfish exhibit.  These creatures are truly beautiful and magnificent ... when you can view them behind the safety of some glass.

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And Jack, well he liked it all, especially the sharks.  And the turtles.  And the alligators.  And we all had a laugh when he decided to lay down next to one and attempt a friendship.

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Jude slept through most of the aquarium tour, which was fine with me.  Thankfully kids under age 3 are free.  And just a note for those who may be planning to attend, there's no strollers allowed in the aquarium.  If only we had done our research, we might had been prepared.  Instead, I ended up with a soggy shoulder after Sleepy-Head slept over an hour in my arms.  I can't complain though, there's nothing quite so peaceful as holding a peaceful sleeping, sighing baby.

That wraps up our social calendar for now.  But the guest room is already set up and ready to go for Marmie and Poppa, who are anxiously waiting by the phone for their "Come quick!" call.  It won't be long now.  I've been thankful for the distraction of houseguests.  I did have one rough night last week in which I thought we might not make it through 'til morning.  But Baby Girl and I are back to normal, and we've been having such a fun time this weekend that I almost forgot I was pregnant.  And so begins the waiting game.  I would say this is where we all sit around and twiddle our thumbs, unable to make any more plans.  But apparently my husband is feeling bold during these last days because he went ahead and scheduled some training this week and a trip to Virginia the following week.  I won't be surprised if I end up driving myself to the birthing center this time around ...  Only time will tell!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I could get used to this

Things have been going really well lately, too well.  I'm totally enjoying this little lull in our family life.  Not that it's all quiet and calm or anything - we're busier than ever.  But suddenly I'm able to manage the schedule, and these two boys, and have an organized grocery list and meal plan with dinner on the table every night, and dishes all washed and the kitchen cleaned before it's time to give the boys baths and put them to bed.  And work is going well, and I'm starting an awesome women's Bible study and Jon and I just started the Love and Respect seminar at our church.  And we have people coming to visit almost every weekend again like we used to back when we lived in cool Virginia.  And so on and so forth.  Life is good.

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More on-our-way-to-school pictures, because he doesn't just look cute on the first day ...

And preschool is going well too.  I was a little skeptical in the beginning.  Especially when Jack's teacher started giving us bad reports.  As in, the first day of school he got put in time-out for being rough with other kids and not listening to the teacher.  A few more days like this and the teacher finally said she didn't know what to do.  And as a mom that's just a bit discouraging.  I knew we'd have problems in this area, and I was really hoping preschool would be a good experience for our social little guy.  I just didn't expect a teacher that would run out of ideas so quickly.  I offered to come in for the day and discipline whenever there was a problem, but she decided to give it one more week and see how things went after that.  And ever since then he's been a model pupil.  I'm wondering if it was just a stimulation thing.  My little guy is SO EXCITED about school.  He can't stop jumping, skipping, smiling as soon as his brand new sneakers hit the parking lot pavement.  And every day we walk in the door, and every day he flips around and shows anyone in his path his "pack back" (even though we've all seen it a dozen times before).  And then he hop/skip/smiles all the way to his classroom door where he drops his "pack back" to the floor and runs to see what exciting new activity his teacher has for him.

And this is where stern Mommy calls him back, gets down on his level, says "Jack, remember to be a good listener and kind to others."
"Yes, Mommy!"  *hugs*
"I love you!"
"Lub you!"
And he's off!

Meanwhile his other classmates are trying to crawl up their parents' legs, or crying at the door, or running the other direction.  And it makes me wonder why my child is the only one overly-anxious to leave me.  But he's always glad to see me come back too.

Once again, it's the same thing every day.  Jude and I walk into his room, Jack jumps up, wraps his arms around me and says, "Mommy you came back!  You came back!  I so, so missed you!"
And then I ask him how his day went and he usually says something like "I go in time-out" or "I pushin' kids."  And then his teacher steps in and says that actually he didn't do any of those things and had a very good day.  To which Jack and I high-five, grab hands, and hop/skip/smile our way back to the car where he further explains "I have so much fun! ... You came back!  You always come back!"

Oh yes, I'm enjoying this preschool thing too.  I thought it would be difficult getting the kids up and out the door by 8:15am, only to have to come back to pick him up 3 hours later.  But it's going quite well.  Being committed to something in the morning keeps us moving and on our toes.  And the 3 hours Jude and I have alone have been more productive than I had imagined.  Sometimes we'll do a quick Target run while it's still early in the day and Jude can freely run up and down the aisles.  Sometimes we'll stop at the farm near Jack's school and pick up some produce for dinner.  Once we even discovered a Goodwill nearby.  And most days we just head on home for Mommy to pound out a few hours of work while Jude tears about the kitchen, and living room, and dining room... and then throw things in the toilet.  And usually right about the time when I start missing my other little ball of energy it's time to leave to go pick him up again. 


Who wouldn't have productive mornings which such a helpful littler person around?!

And then when we're all home together ... well that's getting fun too.  It's finally happening - my boys are at a point where they are starting to play together.  Not entirely.  It's not like they'll sit there and share trains or build legos cities with one another.  And unfortunately, Jack's idea of "parallel play" is playing while lying on top of your brother, not next to him.  But I'm definitely seeing progress.  They're starting to get into chase, and both will run circles around the house.  And Jude loves to play peek-a-boo.  And while I get tired of the game after about the 5th round, Jude finds his older brother to be a much more enthusiastic, encouraging audience.


Unfortunately, I had to cut off the end of this one - where Jack proceeds to shut the door on his little brother and keep it closed.  Someone was showing a little too much skin underneath his shark towel.
And they are sharing a room now!  It's been a fun, albeit challenging, venture these sleepovers every night.  But after two weeks I think we've got it down.  Yes, it takes a little bit longer for them to fall asleep.  And yes one of them always wakes the other one up in the morning, but the way I see it, if one kid is up I might as well have them both up!  Jude still wakes up in the night occasionally, but surprisingly it rarely disturbs Jack.  I just go in there, give the Jude-bug a few back rubs and soon tranquility is restored.  We have not attempted naps in the same room yet.  And I don't think we will.  For now, Jude naps in the nursery.  I've worked far too hard to reach this point:  two boys, taking a nap at the same time each afternoon for 2-3 hours.  I enjoy quiet, productive afternoons too much to put them at risk!

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Note the lone left kankle. :(


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My kids love to take advantage of the few moments I get to "put my feet up."

Oh yes, I could get used to this.  Waking up before the kids, having breakfast ready to go while they're still rubbing their eyes.  Dinner in the crock-pot before we've even left for school.  A completely empty work email inbox.  Two boys that are just discovering the art of entertaining each other.  Time to sit and read my Kindle at night... But I'm not going to allow that to happen.  Because in just a few short weeks #3 is going to arrive and rock our little world.  And I'm sure I will be challenged anew with ways to bring peace and order back into this house.  Why did I ever say I liked a challenge?  But for now we're going to relish this time, my last days with *only* my two favorite little boys, this calm before the storm.  At least it gives me something to look forward to 18 months from now!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Confessions of a full-term mama

I.am.tired.  Not the "take a nap" or "go to bed early" kind of tired.  The "once I sit down I don't want to stand back up" kind of tired.  The "I just want to lay on the couch, prop my feet up on a stack of pillows, and watch Jane Austen movies" kind of tired.  And since this is a no-holds-barred confessional post, I might as well add that while lying at that comfy couch I would also be sipping a Coke.  An icy cold, extra-fizzy, fountain Coke.  But hey, let's not stop there.  Let's throw in a big bowl of some unhealthy, super salty, flourescently orange Cheez-Its perched perfectly atop my belly.  And then we'll top it all off with a pack (an entire pack) of Twizzlers, brought to you by Red 40.  And now you know.  THAT is how I feel this week.

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This is officially my favorite outfit of this pregnancy.  I would say I'll be sorry to see the Heidi Klum skinny leg jeans go in a few weeks, but I have a feeling we'll be spending a long winter together ...
Perhaps in an effort to offset these terrible, unhealthy thoughts, I took the boys on a walk.  Or I attempted to take the boys on a walk.  They were both excellent companions for once.  Start 'em off with a little treat, bottle of water and super-cool hat on their heads, and they were more than willing to comply. 

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Do you have any idea how much this thing + my two boys weighs?  Me neither, but I'd sure like to find out.
About halfway through our walk we came across a stray golf ball off the back 9, and that thoroughly made Jack's day.  You never saw such a proud owner of a random golf ball.  But fate was not on my side that morning.  I'm still trying to learn the ins and outs of our neighborhood.  I've found one or two good, flat routes, with sidewalks and in the opposite direction of the old men speeding in their Sebrings to the Country Club.  But I'm bored of them already.  So on this day we tried a different turn, a new street ... and promptly ran into three different hills.  Three different occasions to put myself into labor.  And three different times where I had to stop, pull out my phone so it appeared to anyone watching that I had a reason to pause, and just catch my breath for a little while.  New confession:  I'm terribly out of shape.

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Putting up my feet, but certainly not relaxing.
The good news is: I'm in the clear.  I hit the 37 week mark tomorrow (a week later than I had been planning for a while now) and baby is in the clear for a birthing center arrival, as long as we don't go past 42 weeks.  But I don't think that will happen.  Baby's also in a great position - head down, back slightly on my left ... and her feet are completely jutting off to my right.  Even the midwife was getting a kick out of her situation.  Really sweetie, just make yourself right at home, you can just push that kidney out of the way and stretch yourself out ...

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I put these on before leaving for Jack's physical appointment and he got all upset and said, "No Mom, those aren't doctor shoes!"
The Little Miss kept kicking and rolling around for the midwife, who happily responded with "Oh hey honey, hi there!" ... "Oh hello honey!"  The two of them were just off in their own little world for a few minutes while she did a "round ligament release".  Don't ask me exactly what that means, all I know is that I feel much, much better after that appointment!  The other cool thing at that visit was hearing Baby's heart accelerate in the doppler whenever she started moving a lot, and then it would slow down a bit when she was resting.  She's healthy, active and, according to the midwife, will likely take after our middle child and be in the 7 pound range.

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No, they're not doctor shoes.  They are pregnancy-calf slimming, kankle defying, most comfortable heels in the world shoes.  I may just wear these to the birthing center... and then change into slippers when I get there.
The midwife also said my belly looks perfect.  Can you tell I was totally loving this lady by the end of our 30 minutes together?  I just kept replaying her comments in my head this weekend after a half of a dozen people told me, yet again, how small I'm carrying.  I think I'm going to start eating a candy bar for every "small" comment I get, that should help offset things.

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This might be my other favortie pregnancy outfit.  Nothing like being able to fit into your hubby's old football t-shirts.
And I have a new theory about those of us who "carry small."  Since Baby is on track to be a healthy, average size.  And my weight gain is also healthy and average.  One can only assume that I'm just carrying more on the inside than on the outside.  For every woman whose belly is sticking way, way out.  There's one of us whose womb reaches our spine.  Makes sense right?  It also explains why I feel so compacted in there right now.  I'm able to bend over approximately two inches at this point, if I'm lucky.  I would be so curious to see what things look like under my ribcage, it feels like a Tetris game for sure.  But hey, as long as Baby is able to bounce about and stretch her legs - I'm happy.  My organs can handle the temporary living situation for a few weeks longer.
And that's where we're at now - a few weeks longer.  Give or take a few weeks.  It feels like only yesterday I was crying at the dining room table trying to figure out how to break the news to Jon.  But no matter how much you want to slow it down, those 9 months always go fast!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Jude's Moves

I started a post days ago and never got around to finishing it.  We've had four different lunch/dinner guests in the past week, so life has been alternating between making food and cleaning the house, with little time left over for crafting and blogging.  And so, to hold you over until the blogging muse reappears, here are some videos of our little music/dancing machine.

This child dances to everything - the radio, his bongo toy, the sewing machine, movie credits:



And this ball popper provides one of his favorite beats:



But he's not limited to just bopping to the music. Oh, no, check out these moves:



Nice coordination Jude.  Is it any wonder he fell down the steps twice this morning?  Or that he continually rams his forehead into the table corner, which just so happens to fall just out of his eye level?  So it's no surprise that all my photos of Jude this week also feature this lovely shiner on his cheek:

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He's a mess.  I'm afraid to take him and his black and blue battle wounds out in public.  But seriously, with dance moves like we've been seeing, we can't keep this legend a secret for much longer ...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A room of her own (nursery pics!)

The Little Miss' bedroom is officially complete!  Well, as complete as it's going to get at this point ...

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We had so much fun getting this tiny space ready for her.  And I really do mean "we."  I wasn't sure how Jon would feel about flowers and butterflies and birdies, but I think by the end he was totally feeling the little girl love.

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And I'll admit, I was a little apprehensive myself.  I knew we didn't want to do traditional pink or purple.  But all the strange looks I got when I'd tell people we were doing "blue" weren't very encouraging.  Blue in a girls' room is one thing, but blue in a girls' room when it's your third child and you've already had two boys and your house is kinda overrun with blue ... well that's a bit risky.

But I hardly notice the blue anymore, especially with all those shots of red.  Originally, I was torn between a gray/yellow/teal color scheme and this one.  But since we already had so many red things leftover from other rooms in our house, I decided it would be best to be "repurposeful."  For instance, the changing table bins were from Jack's nursery.  The red and white polka dot rug is from Ikea, purchased at the Penn State Trash to Treasure Sale and used in my dorm room while in college.  It's been sitting in storage just waiting for a chance to shine again.

The red curtains - from the Target clearance rack.  We used them in our kitchen in the Beach Nest and you may remember them from the Playroom at the 'Burb Nest.  Up until last week, they were short, tab top curtains, as you can see from this post.  I thought about lengthening them with some other fabric, but couldn't find anything that matched the texture of the original curtains.  Then I remembered the white Target curtains that the old owners had left behind in the master bedroom.  I cut 'em up, sewed 'em on and wa-la.  Drapes that brush the floor and are a little more exciting than plain red.

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The white side table was an Amazon splurge ... all $20 of it.  Oddly enough, two weeks later it's now over $40.  I guess that's Amazon for you.

The red/white polka dot pot and fat, little birds were on clearance at Michael's for a handful of change way back in the spring.  I picked them up the same day I went crazy on material, soon after we found out Baby #3 was a girl.

We bought the lamp at Ikea the other weekend.  It was on sale at the time (of course!).
The red leather "J" - a TJ Maxx clearance rack purchase that I originally used in my office area, moved to the playroom and now has it's own little spot above the crib.

The swirly mirror, an old Ikea purchase for my office (my real office at my place of employment before I became a mama).  We used it in our guest bathroom at the Beach Nest for a while and then had it in storage.  Originally black, I lathered this baby up with a few good coats of white spray paint.

And while we're on the subject of spray paint - the shelf.  It used to be brown wood.  Another TJ Maxx clearance item.  We bought this wayyyy back after our honemoony when we lived in the Original Love Nest and had nothing on the walls.  We've used it in every house since then.  Now it's white and in the nursery and begging for something cool to sit on it, I'm just not sure what yet.

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For now it holds the red glass robins which are from G'Ma's house.  She had glass birds on her kitchen window sill for as long as I can remember.  It's our little tribute to Grandma Katherine.
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The butterfly garland was Marmie's and my labor of love when she last came to visit.  The night we found out we were having a girl I spent a good hour browsing Etsy for nursery ideas.  One of the first things I came across was this adorable garland.  Since I had a ton of material left over from my bedding project, we decided to make it ourselves.  It really was much less difficult than I had envisioned.  We adhered material onto posterboard using Steam-a-seam and an iron and then cut it out into different-sized butterfly shapes.  Then we bent the wings upward, layered a smaller butterly onto a bigger one, hot-glued them together, then hot-glued string to the back, and tacked them into the wall.  This was one of my favorite projects, I wish I had another room to make one for!
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Ah Pinterest, you came along at just the right time in my life.  I was needing ideas for my daughter's nursery and there you were.  You can see my "nursery inspiration board" (and all the ideas I haven't used yet!) at http://pinterest.com/j9tillman/nursery-inspiration/.  One project I did get to was the hanging baskets to store books and toys:


Mine came out a bit different.  I couldn't find any hanging planters locally and I certainly couldn't find them for $14 like the photo above claims.  But oh Amazon, always there for me in a pinch, or when I don't feel like driving all over town with two little boys ... and often for a fraction of the cost!  You can snag some yourself for less than $5 each here.  We spray painted ours white and my husband hung them when I wasn't watching, otherwise I may have spaced them out a tad more.  No matter, they get the job done!

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Another idea that's all over Pinterest is hanging rounds of fabric using embroidery hoops:



Well I went to Jo-Anns to pick up some embroidery hoops and almost had a baby righgt there after I saw the price: $14-$20 a pop!  I did some quick thinking and came home with two squares of styrofoam ($4/each with a coupon).  I cut the squares into different-sized circles, wrapped them in fabric, stapled it to the back and hung them up on the wall with tiny nails.  This is a real DIYer:  No husbands were involved in the making of these circles!  But if they were, I'm sure my artwork would have been centered and better proportioned.

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Once we settled the flowers/birds/butterflies theme I knew Baby Girl needed a birdcage.  Something like this:



But these things are hard to find for less than an arm and a leg.  My mom was visiting my Aunt Jani the other week and happened to mention my fruitless search.  Aunt Jani walked out into her utility room, grabbed this number off the shelf and offered it as her contribution to the nursery.  It used to be a vintagy-green and metal, but I spray painted it as well (and probably completely devalued it) to match the rest of the room.  We picked up a little fern at Ikea the other weekend and Jon strung it up with a hook and chain.  Just to be safe we put this in a corner where the baby would likely not be, just in case the 60 lb. test hook doesn't live-up to its claims.

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I couldn't let Baby Girl's first diaper change be on an old-hand-me-down changing pad cover, now could I?  Esepcially when it was a boy-blue-hue and this room is most definitely a girl-blue.  So what else to do but make one myself?  I found this tutorial online, but made mine a bit different.  I wanted a soft, cozy material in the middle.  And since I had ripped apart an old bumper I picked up at a hard sale, I had long strips of that soft, dimply material just waiting to be used (it also found it's way to my camera strap project).  I put a piece of the soft stuff down the middle and did the two sides in some leftover birdy/floral pattern.  It was really easy, so now I suppose I need to make another one.  This changing pad cover is currently for decorative purposes only.  Jude-the-pooper isn't allowed near it, at least not at this time.  That kid is a mess!

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I've been scheming up pillow ideas since Day #1.  Originally I was going to do one of those flower-petal pillows, but I'm already tired of seeing them.  Maybe later.  I found a lot of cute ideas but ended up going with the sprocket pillow from this blog.  So easy, so cute, even the hubster was impressed.  I'm sure I'll add another pillow to the mix in the future, but for now I'm all nursery-projected out!

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And finally, the real trial by fire, the ultimate test of my patience, the total "never say third babies don't get special attention" project - the baby bedding.  Baby Girl, just SEE how much I love you!

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This was a killer!  I learned a lot, and I did save myself a ton of money on baby bedding.  But since baby bedding isn't necessary anyway, you could also say I spent more than I needed to.  The total amount I spent on material in the nursery was around $40 (and that was me going on a hormonal splurge and not waiting for a coupon to come out).  I probably used about half of the material on the bedding, so you could say I dropped a whopping $20-$30 on my girl's quilt, bumper and bed skirt.  Not bad.

But it's also not perfect.  I will not show you any close-ups.  Just bear in mind that this was my very first quilt EVER.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I just looked off of Jude's crib quilt and did a few Google searches and out came this.

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The bedskirt was the easiest aspect.  Originally it was just a strip of red and white, but it ended up being too short and I decided it needed a ruffle.  Since I had a lot of blue leftover that's what made the cut.  If I had to do it over I'd switch the blue and the white around, since I believe that a ruffle should be made of light fluff and not heavy blue.  But I digress.  It wasn't worth another moment with my seam ripper, we are too well-acquainted as it is.

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The bumper I picked up at a yard sale, ripped off the old cover and made a new one (but you can also buy bumper forms at Jo-Anns).  It was the WORST part of this project, nay the entire room.  There were a few times when I just wanted to find a dark, quiet corner to crawl into and cry.  I spent hours this spring planning, drawing, mathematizing this project onto graph paper so that it would be just right.  It didn't make any difference.  I always came up short, pieces didn't match up, I messed up the seam allowance, etc.  The culminating event occured late one evening when I was stooping bleary-eyed over the serger, trying to finish off the edge of the bumper after spending half an hour re-threading the machine 5 times in a row... the needles snapped in half, flew up and hit me in the eye.  Baby Girl almost did not get a bumper after that night.  But if nothing else, all this time with my sewing machine has taught me to throw my perfectionist ideals out the window and just be happy with what happens.  I'm not trying to start an Etsy business, I'm not trying to get rich making baby bumpers, I just want to give my little girl a sweet space to rest her head... and maybe an excuse to put off the house cleaning another day longer.

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Which brings me to my next point:  When do I get all this done, you ask.  Well, I do almost all my sewing in the evenings after the boys go to bed.  I attempted to sew once or twice while they were awake, and presumably occupied elsewhere.  But those little guys just love "Mommy sewing 'achine."  Jack is immediately overwhelmed with the urge to push buttons.  I always have to re-adjust the settings on my machine if I walk away for more than a second.  And Jude has a tendency to trip over the cord.  Over and over again.  One Sunday afternoon he tripped over it about 10 times in a row, unplugging it each time.  All I wanted to do was finish the one seam I had started whilst both boys were still napping!  Let me tell you, it's not worth it!  I did pull him up onto my lap after that, just so I could finish off the edge.  I spent the next 10 minutes batting his hand away from the needle... and then laughing profusely at the way he bobbed his head to the rhythm of the needle.  That kid can find a beat in anything!


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Jude and I had fun at Target making sure Sister got a hooded towel to go along with her brothers.

And so I hope Baby Girl understands that this was not just a Mommy-thing.  Daddy helped.  And Marmie lent a hand.  And even Poppa did some spray-painting so we wouldn't have to breathe the fumes.  And there are two anxious big brothers just waiting for the little being to come occupy her room.  Jack is obsessed with "Sister's blanket" and "Sister's pillow."  He waited days for the mailman to bring "Sister's table."  And when a babysitter by the name of "Julia" showed up last week to watch the boys for an evening, he immediately grabbed her hand and directed her to "her lamp."

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And of course she needed her own piggy bank as well!

Jon asked me why I didn't put this much effort into the boys' nurseries.  Well, Jude never had his own nursery.  And when we had Jack, we were just a bunch of DINKs spending our weekends wandering around Babies 'R Us.  And with a bunch of friends and family ready to jump all over the baby registry.  This is third baby, first girl, and a bit of a surprise in coming.  But she's special too.  And I know I've said it before, but there's something about carrying a girl that makes you feel feminine, like I just want to get down and go all traditional-woman here.  But there's also this incredible sense of responsibility to be an example, to bring up this little girl to embrace her womanhood in a world that doesn't seem to value that trait so much anymore.  I want her to race around with her brothers, play a sport, go to college, get a career ... but I also want her to sew, and bake, and be a loving wife and have her own babies to kiss.  And not that homemade pillows or spray-painted birdcages are the way to achieve that.  Not that they are important at all.  But it's just my way of saying, "I love you. I've been thinking about you for months and months.  I can't wait to meet you. I'm so looking forward to sharing this life with you." 

And that crib quilt?  I'm totally sneaking that into her car when she goes off to college.

And now I know what you're thinking, "Uh, Janine, what if this baby isn't a girl after all?"
Well, I am completely prepared for that.  Believe me, I've thought about it many times in the past few months.  And I have a Plan B.  I haven't completely worked it all out yet, but it will probably include sending Marmie back to the house before we come home to de-feminize the nursery and put it all away in a box in storage until next time.  Because if this baby is a boy ... well, we can certainly try again. ;)
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