Wednesday, October 3, 2012


M and I aren't big on most of the music made specifically for kids. I think that years of hearing the Barney theme song while I babysat or, more recently, having to listen to Elmo sing about everything from cats to clothes using the same tune has created an innate aversion to sugary lyrics and melodies. To be fair, there are exceptions. For example, the compilation album Do Fun Stuff, Volume 1, which was curated by Ryan of Pacing the Panic Room, is a great collection of folk music for kids. (It was sold to benefit support and research for persons with Smith-Magenis Syndrome, which you can learn more about on Ryan's blog. He stopped adding new blog entries this summer, but it remains on the web for your perusal.) The whole album is great (you can hear the entire collection here), but my favorites are "Ladybug" by Rabbit!, "Morton the Caterpillar" by Davey Rocker and "Nothing" by Steve Foxbury. "Nothing" makes me cry most of the time when I hear it...the chorus perfectly captures my feelings about the Numa and now about Her Highness (HH for short):

There's nothing
I'd rather do
Than anything
That I do with you.

This album aside, the kid songs I like are few and far between. When the Numa was little, he and I listened to a great variety of music, including "The Trolley Song" from Meet Me in St. Louis, "Happy Working Song" from Enchanted and "California Gurls" by Katie Perry. For a while nothing put him to sleep faster than me strapping him into the Sleepy Wrap and dancing to "Gold Digger" (the Glee Version). I am not destined for a profitable career in music, but I do have a decent singing voice and I used it frequently to calm and amuse a baby Numa. The number of times I have sung the chorus of the title song from Meet Me in St. Louis is too great to count. Fortunately, the Numa has always been happy to listen to our playlists and he has developed some pretty awesome taste in music. M is an electronic music guy (and used to be a DJ) while I tend to prefer 80's hair bands and indie rock. Because of this, some of the Numa's recent favorites have included the following (links go to YouTube or soundcloud):

Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode
Hurting (Tensnake remix) by the Friendly Fires
Night Out (Madeon remix) by Martin Solveig
The City by Madeon
Pop Culture (Live Mashup) by Madeon (the Numa loves watching this one on YouTube because of the light-up buttons)
All My Life by Gigamesh
Love Letter to Japan and Diamond Dave by The Bird and the Bee
This is the Life by Two Door Cinema Club

(Clearly he is spending more time in the car with M these days than me.)

I love that he listens to and likes all of this music and I love that he is constantly singing music of all kinds. And, of course, when he comes home proudly singing a new song from school we sing along. But it is lovely that car rides are enjoyable for all of us.

Be well,


Monday, September 24, 2012

Right now.

Right now, I...

Am still working on the last two breastfeeding posts.

Am wearing a snoring baby on my chest.

Have too much to do and too little time to do it.

Wish I had taken a shower earlier in the day.

Can't wait for the Numa to get home and yell "Hi Mommy!" right before he peeks around the corner of the fireplace and says "I see you."

Need to unload the dishwasher.

Want to get just one night of uninterrupted sleep.

Am so glad that it is finally fall.

Just finished re-watching season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...on to season 5.

Need to figure out what is wrong with my knees so I can start losing the last 5lbs of baby weight. (Oh, and the 30lbs of weight I gained in 2006. And the 15 I gained just after college.)

Wish I had more time to just be with the kids rather than spacing it out between keeping the house functioning.

Feel so lucky to have two healthy kids, a great husband and a wonderful home.

Love my life.

Be well,


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My breastfeeding journey - Part 2.

The first lactation consultant we saw was of the same mindset as most of the websites I mentioned in part 1. According to her, low supply was a hurdle, but one that could be surmounted with enough dedication and effort on my part. To fix my supply issues, she recommended that I either breastfeed or pump every 1.5-2 hours around the clock. She also encouraged me to make sure I was getting enough rest, eating enough good food (not take out or cereal, but good, balanced meals that I guess I was also supposed to be preparing), getting plenty of liquids and staying calm, as stress can further decrease a low supply. I also needed to be spending as much time with the Numa skin-to-skin as I possibly could. And she was serious. How in the hell was I supposed to do even one of those things with a newborn, much less all of them? To say that I found her unhelpful is way too kind. I spent the day after meeting with her crying more (sensing a theme here?) and called my doula again. She apologized for what was clearly a bad personality match* and recommended a second LC who we met with the next day. My husband and I were both home and my MIL was in town and the LC listened very patiently as I described what we had been doing, showed her our records of feedings and diapers and cried more. Then she asked me to show her how I had been breastfeeding and as soon as I took off my bra she got a knowing look on her face. As I started to breastfeed, she told me that she was 99% certain that I had hypoplastic breasts. I should explain that my breasts have always been different from those of other women. Both my breasts and my nipples are distinctly different sizes, they are wide set on my chest and they point out, rather than forward. I had always known my breasts were different, but it never really bothered me. I think I was fortunate in that my high school never had the shared locker room showers that you see in the movies (Sixteen Candles, anyone?) so other than occasional jokes about my small-ish chest in high school, no one ever really noticed or pointed out the issue. I certainly never suspected that their appearance was an indication of deeper problems.

I had done some internet research after the pediatrician visit where we learned that Numa wasn't gaining weight that made me a little suspicious about my breasts, but hearing her say it out loud suddenly made it real. I was both relieved and heartbroken. Women with hypoplastic breasts have less of the glandular tissue that produces milk and while some women with this condition are able to exclusively breastfeed, most cannot and some don't produce any milk at all. I was producing some but not enough for the Numa's needs which meant that supplementing was now with us to stay. The lovely LC helped me with Numa's latch and gave us some great tips, but most of all she reassured me that there was nothing wrong with feeding your baby with formula. She was very supportive about supplementing and she will make a reappearance in a later chapter of this story. I was still disappointed but the diagnosis helped me to make some peace with the situation and I was able to move forward with fewer tears and really enjoy breastfeeding. Plus, everyone kept telling me that it is usually better with the second baby so my hopes of supplementing even less the next time were high. Numa breast and bottle fed until he was 4 months old, when he finally determined that the effort it took to breastfeed for so little reward was just not worth it. I had many mixed emotions about weaning him so early (not that I really did of the few pluses of a low supply is that you can basically just stop breastfeeding and not really deal with engorgement issues at all). I was sad that he was done because I really enjoyed breastfeeding. It created such a cozy closeness for us and I always enjoyed how he looked completely different from my vantage point while he was at the breast. M got some great pictures so that I can always remember what that was like. At the same time, though, being done with breastfeeding meant that feeding Numa got a whole lot easier. For all of his first 4 months, he would breastfeed and then do a bottle, which meant that feeding him took forever. Going to just a bottle gave me more time to just enjoy him and to deal with the dreaded 4-month sleep regression that I now realize was likely part of the cause of his weaning. Also, I was pretty proud of him for wanting to be more efficient - a trait I like to think he got from me.

Ultimately, I was glad that I had been able to breastfeed the Nums, even if not exclusively and even though it was such a short time. I knew that we would eventually try for another baby and had hope that the breastfeeding aspect of being a mom would improve the second time around. I also knew it would be easier to deal with, since perspective is the greatest gift of being a second time parent. I told myself that it wouldn't be nearly as disappointing if it didn't work out and that if I could do just as well as I had with Numa that I would be satisfied. And then I had a second baby.

Be well,


*It would be unfair if I didn't address the personality match aspect of my issues with the first LC. Having a productive and helpful relationship with a doula or an LC (to a somewhat lesser extent) is, in my opinion, highly dependent on finding someone whose personality is compatible with your own. When M and I were interviewing doulas, we met with 4 before finding the one we ultimately chose and  though we talked about our decision before making it, I knew right away when we had found the right one. Meeting with her was like meeting with an old friend and we saw eye-to-eye on all of the issues we discussed. I immediately felt confident that she would be able to support me in the way I needed during Numa's birth and I was not wrong - she is a huge part of the reason I was able to have a completely unmedicated birth experience with first the Numa and then the little one. She was one of the first people we called after finding out I was pregnant with baby number 2. It is the same for LCs. The first one we met with was clearly not a good match for me personality wise and she didn't seem to understand my overall goals and how to help me achieve them. This is not to say that she is a bad LC in general, but for me, it was a terrible match. If you are looking for a doula or LC to help you, asking questions up front about their methods, beliefs and background can be hugely helpful in the search process and potentially save you from having a bad experience.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My breastfeeding journey - Part 1.

Nothing in life has ever made me feel like more of a failure than breastfeeding. When I was pregnant with the Numa, one of the few things I actually researched was how to begin a good breastfeeding relationship with your new baby. I read tons of forums and talked to my doula and was prepared for it to be difficult at first, but ultimately assumed that I would power through with the help of reading and if necessary, lactation consultants, and that Numa and I would exclusively breastfeed for as long as I was home with him and possibly longer. It was one of my main goals as a new mother and I was really looking forward to having this experience with my baby. I had noticed that, unlike other pregnant women I knew, my breasts hadn't changed much during my pregnancy. They were marginally larger, but nothing like the full cup size or sizes bigger that others were experiencing. I didn't think too much about it at the time and only vaguely noted that I also didn't really become engorged after his birth. For the first few days at home with him, I breastfed on demand and other than some latch issues, assumed that all was well because he was producing the number of wet and dirty diapers we were told to expect and was sleeping fairly well. My world crashed a little when, after more than 10 days, he was still below his birth weight and it became apparent that he was sleeping not because he was sated, but because he was working so hard for so little food that he was exhausted. The guilt and despair at learning that despite my best efforts my baby was hungry were overwhelming. To this day I haven't fully forgiven myself for allowing him to be hungry, even once, as a newborn when he was reliant on me for everything. I am sure this is unfair, but I can't seem to change the way I feel about it and I still have nightmares that he is starving somewhere and I can't help him.

To say that women, and people in general, have opinions about how to feed babies is a ridiculous understatement. Feeding your infant formula is an immediate indication to most that you are lazy, uninformed, selfish or some combination of the three and people are not shy about pointing this out. (I don't have the time or energy to get into it here, but isn't it odd that the same society that castigates mothers for using formula also frowns on breastfeeding in public? Also note that feeding babies is solely the responsibility of so many other parenting choices, the fault for not succeeding at breastfeeding falls solely on the shoulders of the mother. But I digress...) There are so many reasons that breastfeeding doesn't work for women in this country - a lack of support, a lack of time, a lack of the money and resources to allow women to be with their infants long enough to develop a good breastfeeding relationship - but the one that almost anyone will tell you is just a cover for some other, unacceptable reason is low supply. Read any breastfeeding support website and the writers will point out at least once, if not multiple times, that very few women actually have a low supply. Instead, anyone who thinks they have a low supply is in reality just mismanaging their breastfeeding relationship with their child and could fix the problem if they were willing to take supplements, pump around the clock as well as breastfeed, never ever use a bottle to supplement the baby for any reason whatsoever, etc. The point is that saying you have a low supply is almost universally seen as an excuse to lazy out of really trying to breastfeed.

Which brings me back to me and the Numa. Once we figured out that he wasn't getting enough food we starting supplementing him with formula based on the advice of our pediatrician and my complete inability to handle the thought of him being hungry for even one more minute. I cried my way through his appointment that day as I thought about my failure to nourish my child. Unlike so many people in this world who struggle to feed their families, I was and am fortunate enough to be able to afford a solution to the most basic part of the problem - feeding my child - by buying formula, but the knowledge that I was failing at what I saw as an integral part of my maternal tasks was devastating. I cried my way through another doctor's visit when I saw my OB later that week and though it didn't help at the time, she said something to me that later gave me some perspective. She very kindly reminded me that formula isn't rat poison and that as long as I was feeding my baby, all would be well. Finally, I contacted my doula to get a recommendation for a lactation consultant, because I was now determined to figure out what was wrong and fix it so that I could become the mother I desperately wanted to be.

I honestly don't know how many parts there will be to this story, but I will continue to write them as I can. I hope that it will help me to ultimately be able to move past the disappointment and if it happens to help someone else who is struggling, then that will be a huge bonus.

Be well,


Saturday, August 25, 2012


One of our go-to take out spots for dinner is Neillio's in Lexington. They have a good selection of hot foods that are ready when you get there and when our day gets a little busier than usual, we can grab dinner quickly and be home. A plus of going there is that Neillio's is right next to one of the Lexington fire stations...the Numa is obsessed with fire engines and other emergency response vehicles and loves to point them out as we drive. He calls the stations "tunnels" and always tells us that the fire engines are sleeping in their tunnels. So cute.

Anyway, the Numa and I were charged with picking up turkey to go with Wednesday's dinner and he was delighted to see that all of the doors to the fire station were open and there were lots of fire engines inside. He wanted to go check it out and I was thisclose to telling him that we didn't have time. I do this so often because we really are busy with a toddler and an infant but his fascination with these things won't last forever and I decided to make time. We walked over, hand in hand because it is close to the road, and looked at the fire engines while standing just outside the doors. He wanted to go in, but I didn't want to be in the way so we just looked and talked. As we were walking away, one of the fire fighters walked out and asked if we wanted to come in! He introduced himself as Jimmy, and as it turns out he is the fire captain. We got to check out the whole station with one of the other fire fighters (Rob) and even got to sit in one of the trucks as it entered the station, which delighted the Numa. Jimmy offered to let the Nums try on his jacket, but someone suddenly became shy and didn't want to. Regardless, he was so excited to see the trucks up close and get to ride in the truck. It was a great time and I wish I had pictures!

I think the main reason I am posting this is to remember these moments with my little guy. Just as importantly though, I want to express my thanks to all the hard working public servants who took 15 minutes out of their day to entertain my son. It was incredibly nice of them to invite us in and show us around and I really appreciate their hospitality when I am sure they wanted to be on their way home.

Be well,


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sleepover kit.

It has been a really long time since this was finished, but I am finally getting around to posting final pics of the sleepover kit. To refresh your memory, my starting materials were a pair of PJs I found at Carter's and fabric chosen to coordinate with them.

PJs for Madeline
Monkey PJs.

Sleepover Kit raw materials.

The picture shows all of the fabric used in the kit. Sorry for the yellow-ness - I need to learn to use the white balance on my camera. The photo of the PJs at the top shows the truest colors. Clockwise from left:

- Monkey fleece PJs from Carter's,
- Hot pink/white flannel houndstooth print,
- Hot pink flannel-backed satin,
- A medium weight blue denim,
- Bubblegum pink fleece, which matches the bows and hearts on the PJs,
- and Brown minky fabric.

(All of the fabric was from Jo-Ann's.)

The first part of the kit I made was a small blanket, with the brown minky on one side and the pink flannel-backed satin on the other. For the main part of the blanket, I just cut the largest rectangle I could from the brown minky fabric I had on hand and a matching piece from the pink satin. I basted the two fabrics, wrong sides facing, to hold it together while I attached the binding. For the binding, I made bias tape with the pink/white houndstooth using this tutorial. Let me just say that I would think long and hard before using flannel to make binding again. The fabric shifted constantly and making enough binding for even a small blanket took FOREVER. It was also difficult to work with once it was finally finished, again because the flannel shifts in strange ways while you manipulate it. It did, however, make for an adorable blanket.

Laying out the blanket.

Finished blanket. Isn't the binding cute?

To go with the blanket, I made a simple pillowcase using the pink/white houndstooth flannel. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of it, so feel free to imagine what a rectangle of the houndstooth would look like.

The slippers may have been my favorite part of this whole project. I used the bubblegum pink fleece to make elf slippers using the maya*made tutorial found here. Sewing tiny shoes is always challenging due to the simple fact that they are tiny and hard to work with. However, they were totally worth it.

Elf slippers
Elf slippers.

I decided at the last minute that since MK lives in a house with hardwood floors it would be nice if the slippers were non-slip. To do this, I made the soles of the slippers out of the houndstooth and used silver and pink glitter fabric paint to "color in" several of the checks on each slipper. I think this made them extra jazzy, don't you?

Bottom of elf slippers
Jazzy soles.

The sleep mask, made using this Whipup tutorial, was fast and easy to make. I used the pink flannel-backed satin and pink/white houndstooth.

Elf slippers and sleep mask
Sleep mask.

Sadly, I did not get time to make the stuffed animal I was planning to include. But I did make the bag! I used the denim and the pink satin to make a reversible, drawstring bag and used the leftover houndstooth bias tape for the drawstring. I still need to document the process of making these super easy bags.


I think that MK liked her bag and I really enjoyed making it. I like giving homemade gifts and would love to come up with some new kit ideas for kids. FYI, the original post that got me started was the build your own fort kit from armommy (found here). I made one for my nephew and immediately starting imagining what other kinds of kits you could fit into a bag. What a great idea to give gifts that inspire kids to make things and get creative! The fact that they allow me to sew cool kid stuff is just a bonus.

Be well,


Monday, August 13, 2012


We have been in the house for a little over 4 months now and what was new now seems like it has always been. It is hard to even imagine still being in our apartment, especially since we have added a new family member. The new tiny person (whose nickname has still not emerged) arrived on July 8th after many months of pregnancy misery mixed with as much happy anticipation as can exist in a home in transition. She is a good baby so far and she and I are getting to know one another in all types of situations, including the wee hours of every single morning. I actually think I saw the first indication of a real smile this morning and plan to spend my afternoon making a total idiot of myself trying to get her to repeat it. I had forgotten how much I love tiny babies, from their noises and smells (not all of them are bad!) to their tiny toes and big eyes. Mostly I just love watching them become little people and I am really enjoying most of my time with her, though I would by lying if I didn't also acknowledge that newborn fussiness is the pits and that I miss my sleep. I keep reminding myself to appreciate all of it, because it goes by so very, very fast. Pretty soon, she will be helping her brother to push buttons on the new automatic cat feeder and requesting songs in the car, which M and I are sometimes allowed to sing. The Numa's taste in music runs to the eclectic (Two Door Cinema Club and the Bird and the Bee are two of his favorites...we are so proud) and his new go-to song is Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode. I love this kid.

So four months after moving and five weeks after welcoming the little one, we are starting to find a new normal. For instance, I am typing this while bouncing a sleeping baby in an Ergo. I also have to take frequent breaks, because she can sense productivity and objects to it on every level. I type a bit and then we walk a bit and it will still take me all day to finish this, but she is worth it. The house is livable but there is so much left to do. We have designated the nursery, the office and the basement as storage areas and make small amounts of progress each day. Still, it is going to be a while before we really feel settled. Right now, our focus is on the kids - getting to know the new baby and helping Numa with the transition to being a big brother, which includes the ongoing move into his big boy bed. He is doing great with the baby, constantly wanting to kiss her and hold her, though his desire for the latter tends to flag quickly. We are trying to keep him as involved as possible and to say yes to his requests to interact with her as much as we can so that he will feel included.

I have many, many goals for my time on maternity leave. I will be home (we think) until just after the new year so I have several months to get stuff done. Of course, all of that hinges on this baby eventually letting me put her down for longer than 10 minutes at a time. I manage to scrape just enough time on most days to do a load of laundry and figure out dinner, but that is usually it. One of my goals, though, is to post here at least 3 times a week. Anything else will be a bonus. We will see how it goes, but to help me accomplish this goal, I am not going to impose a structure on this blog. I am going to keep writing about house progress, my kids, being a mom, sewing and/or crafting and anything else that is relevant to me at the time. Maybe a theme will emerge, maybe not, but either way it will be an outlet for me during what can be an isolating time.

Be well,


Friday, May 4, 2012

House Tour Part 3 - Downstairs and Basement

Now that I have been through the main level and the bedroom level, the lower level and basement are all that is left. These are somewhat "bonus" rooms for us, as they include a large family room, a guest bedroom and an office/sewing room, plus a third full bathroom. This is space above and beyond what we have had for the past 7 years, so we are very excited! I will finish out this series with a post about the basement and back of the house soon.

The stairs from the main floor lead into the downstairs family room. It is a large room with lots of windows and views of our jungle of a backyard. This will become a play room for the kiddos and will eventually lead onto a much more finished back patio. All of the carpet has already been removed, as has the asbestos tile underneath it, so new carpet will be going into the entire downstairs except the bathroom. The ceiling fixture will be replaced, as the current one a) is not my style and b) has exposed light bulbs that will likely not survive their inevitable encounters with illegally thrown matchbox cars. All of the walls in this room need to be patched and painted, and the window hardware that is basically painted into the wall will be removed. Additionally, the Verizon FIOS box that someone decided should live on an exposed wall in the house will be relocated to the basement. I am certain that this task will take many phone calls and will eventually be done by a very grudging service person, but it should never have been allowed to go there in the first place.

Family room.
Clockwise from left: door to basement; landing at bottom of stairs; door to guest bedroom; door to office; family room. You can also see the lovely Verizon wall box.

Family room.
View from the bottom of the stairs.

Family room.
View from the far end of the room. You can see the downstairs bath at the other end.

The smaller downstairs room was going to be M's office, but after reevaluating the space we have decided to use the small room as a guest bedroom and the larger room as our shared office. The shelving on the walls and the window treatments are leaving and the whole room will be patched, painted and re-carpeted. The closet is a decent size and will probably hold some of our stuff while leaving a space for guests to use. We were planning to put our queen-size sleigh bed in the guest bedroom, but we have doubts that we can fit it into this small space...this looks like a job for IKEA! This room also has a single, switched wall sconce that we will probably replace for the time being. We haven't decided how we feel about sconces yet.

Guest bedroom.
View from door. The shelves were original to the house and can hopefully be sold.

Guest bedroom.
View of closet. I may add a dresser to the bottom of one side for clothes storage.

The larger downstairs room is going to be a shared office for me and M. This room is much like the smaller room, so it too will get patched, painted and re-carpeted, have the shelves and window treatments removed, and the sconce replaced.

View from door

View from front windows.

The downstairs bathroom was nothing to write home about, but not that awful either. Our plan was to eventually redo the entire bathroom, but once we found out that the tile floor was asbestos, we decided that putting down a temporary floor didn't make much sense so we basically gutted the room. The existing shower was undersized given the amount of space and the stretch of wall to the right of the shower was literally useless. So this room will get new everything and hopefully be really nice, but that is a post for another day. For some reason, this room did not get photographed as well as most of the others, so the pics below aren't great. I will have to look for better ones.

Downstairs bathroom
View from doorway.

Downstairs bathroom
Shower and blank wall.

And that's the downstairs. We are so excited to have this extra space that will allow the Numa and our soon-to-arrive little person lots of space to play and also give us room to accommodate guests, as the Grandmas are both planning to be here for a while this summer.

Be well,


Thursday, May 3, 2012

And then it was May.

Where did April go? I am not sure, but I don't think I miss it. We finally moved out of our apartment and into our house (with a brief stay at a local hotel) at the beginning of April. The renovations were *mostly* completed but as of today, there are still things left to do, albeit small ones. Items left on the list are installing wall sconces in all bedrooms and capping any exposed connections that won't be getting sconces; installing vanity lights in the upstairs bathrooms; replacing the ceiling light in the family room; final touch-up painting in all rooms; installing the under-sink shelf and glass shower panel in the downstairs bathroom; and unpacking, unpacking, unpacking. Everyone looks so surprised when they find out that we aren't fully unpacked after a month, but with a toddler, full time jobs, a 2 week bought of upper respiratory infections and a very large baby belly inhibiting progress, I am amazed that we have accomplished anything at all. And, oh my, the belly. My abdomen has officially given up and admitted defeat to the apparent amusement of most people I meet. I am so uncomfortable already (and not due till early July...grrrr), with the huge belly, swollen feet, and a very active fetus that I just want to cry. Not to mention punch the next person who grins and asks "are you SURE it isn't twins?" Why does that give people such joy? Also, my patience and sense of humor seem diminished...

I promise myself that I will post the remaining level of rooms as a house tour and then will start to post progress pics very soon. Also, I have a new list of tips for moving your entire household, including pets, and pregnancy updates. But right now, it is time to get the Numa!

Be well,


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

House Tour Part 2 - Bedrooms.

The house drama continues. We found more asbestos (!!!) in the downstairs bathroom that was concealed behind the wall and under the shower. It seems that the shower in that bath was not original to the house like we thought, so the second round of asbestos removal begins this week. Oh joy.

Despite the drama, there is lots of progress which is lovely. The kitchen is coming right along and the cabinets will be delivered later this week. The dishwasher and wall oven/microwave will be here next week and the cooktop the week after, leaving just the refrigerator to be chosen and ordered. We even finalized the kitchen floor tile (you can see the tile here, though we ordered it locally from Smethurst Tile in Burlington for a steal - $2.77/sq. ft.) and decided to wait on a backsplash, since we haven't found one that is just right. I am personally in favor of ordering tiles from Heath Ceramics but I still need to get M on board with this plan...

While the chaos continues and winds down, I am going to continue the house tour with the bedroom level. Enjoy!

Walking up the half-flight of stairs lands you in a small hallway. All of the rooms on this level (except the master bath) open into this landing and the hardwood floors that are on the main level continue throughout the upper level. There is a horrible, huge, square recessed light in the hallway ceiling that can't really be replaced as it is, so we will have the hole patched an a normal size box installed for a new light. Unfortunately, we probably won't be able to make the ceiling finish match in that area, so whatever light we choose will need to be big enough to cover the existing outline. You can't see it in this picture but trust me, anything would be better than this light.

Upstairs hallway.

The hall bath is probably the ugliest room in the house, though the master bath and kitchen tie for second place. The tile is an ugly pinky-orangey-taupe non-color and the vanity counter is a pinky-tangerine and really worn. The floor tile defies description and the nicest thing I can say about the whole room is that the tub is in decent shape. We will eventually have to redo this bath, but of the three bathrooms this one is in the best shape so except for a little bit of caulk to repair some tile cracks and removing the in-wall medicine cabinet, we will be leaving it alone for now. Bummer.

Hall bath.
You can't tell here because it was overcast, but the bathroom gets lots of light from the window in the shower.

Hall bath.
Closer view of the vanity...oh my.

Next to the hall bath is a small linen closet and just beyond that is the master bedroom. The bedroom itself is okay...there is one decently sized closet (though how that will work out with us sharing it is still a mystery to me) and great natural light from the windows. On a side note, I am so excited to be moving to a home where every single room has at least one window and most have more.

Master bedroom.
View from entrance. Note the very old window AC unit that was likely an air quality hazard. It has already been removed and in the process we discovered that there was no window behind it. Thanks, previous owners!

Master bedroom.
View into the master bath.

The master bathroom is nothing to write home about. The blue sink, toilet and tile is depressing and why they chose to make every shower in this house even more claustrophobic than they needed to be is beyond me. The floor tile is not in good shape and really needs to be replaced, but we will be band-aiding it for now until we can do a full reno in here. The toilet will likely be replaced before we move in, as it is already loose and I would like to avoid leaks. We will also remove the medicine cabinet in this bath. Unfortunately, even when we get around to doing this bath we can't really expand it, as the size is limited by the hall bath and linen closet so the best we could do is to combine the master and hall bathrooms. We have seen this done, and done well, in a house with our floorplan, but I am nervous about losing a bathroom in the grand scheme of things. We are hoping that living with it for a while will help us make that decision.

Master bath.

Master bath.
Tiny shower. This space would be immensely improved if the shower wasn't so closed in from the front and if the ceiling followed the lines of the actual ceiling.

Next to the master bedroom is what I have been calling the purple room. Because it is purple. This bedroom is the same size as the master with a somewhat smaller closet and fewer windows. The AC in this room has also been removed and regaining that window lets in lots more light. All of the bedrooms on this level have at least one hard-wired wall sconce that is switched, and this room and the master have a second sconce that is not switched. We still haven't decided if we will replace the scones or just cover the holes. This will become the Numa's bedroom once it has been de-purpled.

Second bedroom.
From the doorway.

Second bedroom.
You can see the closet and the sconces in this picture. Also notice that for some reason the doors in this bedroom were painted at some point - not only are the closet doors blue, but the back and edge of the main door is blue as well. Really?

The final bedroom on this level is a tiny room - only about 100 sq. ft. It will be the nursery for now, but I envision it becoming my sewing room as soon as the kids are old enough to realize the disparity in their spaces. Unless we have a third and then two of them will share and everyone will have less space! There is yet another outdated AC unit (also already removed) and a small closet.

From the doorway. Tiny.

Looking back at the doorway and the closet.

And that concludes the bedroom tour. Next up is a tour of the downstairs and the basement, but for now enjoy this brief peek at progress. I am so excited to be moving in less than 2 weeks!

 Hall bath
No more medicine cabinet!

Master bedroom
Millions of wall repairs and another missing cabinet.

Be well,


Saturday, March 10, 2012

House Tour Part 1 - Main Level.

Things are happening at the new house. Not as much as we had hoped due to the asbestos issue, but progress nonetheless. We are about to draw to a complete halt, though, until we can get the tile removed from the kitchen and the entire downstairs. Sigh.

In the meantime, I am going to give you a tour of our new house, one floor at a time. Today I am going to focus on the front of the house and the main floor. Enjoy!

The house is currently painted a sick looking brown/tan color. It either has too much pink or too much yellow depending on the light and the angle at which you look. The exterior lighting is both boring and not bright enough. One section of siding underneath a living room window was replaced at some point and neither the type of siding nor the paint matches. Lovely. The landscaping (what little there is) is a mess and at least one tree needs to be removed. All this to say...the exterior needs work. Eventually, we will get around to that.

Front of house 
Our new abode.

See the mismatched siding?

The entry way has a small coat closet which abuts the back of the fireplace. When we bought the house there was an odd, too-large shelf affixed to the left wall that was apparently made of stones from a Chinese monastery. Thankfully, the sellers wanted to keep it and it went to France with them. Straight ahead you can just see the centrally located stairs (that either lead down to the lower level or up to the bedroom level) and the door into the kitchen. The tile in this area is slate and I wish we could match it for the kitchen, but that seems unlikely.

Looking into the kitchen.

Looking at the front door.

The living room is large and has lots of windows. The fireplace is the main focal point and we can't wait to spend time in this space. The walls all need to be patched and repainted and eventually we need to reline the chimney and replace the can lights. All in all, though, this room is in great shape and one of the reasons we love the house.

Living room 

Living and dining rooms
Windows onto the deck and entrance to the dining room.

Adjoining the living room is the expanded dining room that is on the back of the house. It also has lots of windows and is large enough that I hope to fit a breakfast nook into the far end. The addition has sunk a bit, but it seems to be due to typical movement and not related to stability issues. The can lights and chandelier need to be replaced and it needs a fresh coat of paint, but otherwise this room is pretty good.

Dining Room
Dining room.

The kitchen has two entrances: one from the foyer and one from the dining room. They both had doors when we bought the house but we have already removed one and the other is also leaving. I could give you lots of details about the issues in this room, but suffice it to say that from the magenta wall (???) to the late 80's vintage dishwasher, this room is a hot mess.

View from corner (the doorway on the left leads to the foyer).

View from the corner again (the doorway on the right leads to the dining room). Note how the range is offset from the hood by a good 8 inches.

Don't you just love that pink wall?

Our original plan for the kitchen was to remove all of the cabinets and countertops, the sink and the dishwasher and to keep the current fridge and range. After discovering that the tile had asbestos and we would essentially have to gut the kitchen, we decided to go all in and start with new everything. The full list of items for the kitchen remodel now includes:

1. Opening both doorways to allow better flow through the room. The opening from the foyer will probably only widen by a few inches but the opening into the dining room will extend from the front of the cooktop cabinet to the front of the wall oven cabinet. I will post a rendering of the new layout soon and this will make much more sense.

2. Updating the existing electrical to bring it up to code (which means installing GFCI outlets) and adding can lights and a pendant over the sink. We are also going to add under cabinet lighting.

3. Replacing the asbestos tile floor (which will be abated by a local company) with slate or porcelain tile.

4. Replacing all appliances. We are going to install a wall oven/microwave combo and an electric cooktop instead of a one-piece range and put in a new dishwasher, all from Bosch. The range hood is from IKEA. We have yet to pick a new fridge because it is hard to find a counter-depth fridge that is rated well but has no ice maker/water dispenser in the door.

5. New cabinets, countertops, sink and faucet, all from IKEA. We were thrilled to find out about the 20% off kitchen sale at IKEA and managed to save a ton of money, essentially getting the range hood for free!

6. A glass tile backsplash. I wasn't completely sold on glass tile at first because none of the edging options appealed to me. But then somone (thanks Mom!) managed to find a bullnose edge finishing tile which solved the problem. Hurray!

7. New paint.

And that wraps the main level. Next up: bedrooms!

Be well,


Sunday, March 4, 2012

DIY Ribbon Loop blanket.

I'm back. Here is the very long post talking about my method for making ribbon edged blankets for kids. Enjoy!

The projects I completed tonight were identical and were based on a project I have actually made several times previously. My son, like most small kids, is obsessed with tags. Give him any plush toy and he will immediately locate and begin to twist the tag. He loves them and has for quite a while. One of his teachers at daycare mentioned that you could buy a toy that was nothing but tags online but after I looked them up, I couldn't bring myself to pay what I considered an exorbitant amount of money for less than $3 worth of materials. Additionally, their printed ribbons were wicked tacky. The basic small blanket ringed with ribbons seemed like an easy project so I used some of the "minky" fabric (I loathe that word, but it is the most recognized description of this fabric) I had on hand plus some brightly colored quilting cotton I bought with a coupon at Jo-Ann. (Aside: I never shop at Jo-Ann or Michaels or any of those similar stores without coupons - 40% off is the bomb, people.) I also used part of my large stash of ribbon and some additional ribbon I got at a local craft store (Playtime, for any Arlington peeps - they have a great ribbon selection, btw). Below I describe my method for making the small blanket. You can easily churn this out in an hour or less if you have all the necessary materials on hand.

1. Cut two equal sized squares from a minky fabric (or any soft textured fabric, really, as long as it would be comfortable for little hands to explore) and a quilting weight cotton (I will sometimes use more than one cotton fabric and create a quilting square to mix colors and patterns). For the small blanket I use a 12-14 inch square, which is small enough for baby hands to carry and large enough to showcase most fabric patterns. I am not terribly particular about my final measurements, but if you are, read through the directions and do the appropriate math to account for seam allowances.

2. Cut 4 inch lengths of ribbon and lay them out at regular intervals along the perimeter of the right side of your quilting cotton until the arrangement is pleasing to you. I typically do 4 to 5 ribbons per side and try to make sure that the colors are evenly distributed. If you are using a cotton fabric with a regular pattern it is nice to line up the ribbons with the pattern.

3. Once you have a pleasing layout for the ribbons, fold each ribbon in half to create a loop and pin the loop to the previously chosen location on the right side of your quilting cotton. The ends of the loop should overhang the edge of the fabric by about 1/4 of an inch. See the picture below for an illustration. Continue pinning the ribbons in this way until all ribbons are attached to the cotton, making sure that the ends of the loops are pointing away from the center of the fabric.

Ribbon blanket.

4. Stitch all the way around the perimeter of the quilting cotton with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. This will attach the ribbon loops to your fabric and eliminate the need for pins to hold the loops in place in the next step.

5. Place your minky square and your cotton square right sides together and pin around the perimeter. Make sure that your ribbons (which should be securely attached to your quilting cotton - did you do step 4?) are tucked neatly inside so that you don't have to pick out a ton of freaking stitches after you accidentally sew part of a ribbon loop into the edge.

6. Sew around the perimeter of the fabric sandwich with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, leaving a 2 inch opening in the middle of one side. I like to sew with the cotton on top, because I think my machine sews it better that way, but either way you align it make sure that you are catching both fabrics and all ribbon ends in your stitching and that you leave a 2 inch opening on one side to enable turning the blanket right-side-out. I mark the area I'm not going to sew with two closely spaced pins so that I don't forget. Back-stitch on both sides of the opening to protect your stitches during the turning process.

7. Clip your corners, being careful not to cut through your stitching. Even up any rough edges and cut off any overhanging ribbon edges (or don't...all of this will be encased in the blanket and won't show, so if you don't feel like doing this step, it is a-ok with me). Turn your blanket right side out and use a pointed object to push out the corners. I use a metal chop stick. Pin the area around the hole to close the blanket.

8. Top stitch all the way around the blanket with a matching or contrasting thread, depending on your desired look. Make sure that the top stitching completely closes the hole you left for turning and tug all ribbons to ensure that they are securely attached. Remember, this is for a baby!

The nice thing about these blankets is that they are super portable and lightweight and the ribbon loops give you tons of places to secure a toy strap, making it harder for your little one to Hans Gruber* it. I have given several of these as gifts and made a couple for my little guy and they seem to go over well. They are easy to customize to individual color preferences and washable to boot. The Numa's current favorite toy is a dinosaur with ribbons for spikes (named son is so cool), so one of my future projects will be a plush toy with ribbons.

**If anyone does read this and use the tutorial, please know that the manufacturers of the original product in no way contributed to this tutorial and they do not authorize anyone to use this tutorial to sell this or similar products. From what I understand, they don't look too kindly on that sort of thing either. So, don't use this to sell these things, k? Personal use only.**

*When the Numa was a baby, he would randomly drop or sometimes throw things on the floor, which my husband and I started referring to as Hans Grubering. You know, like when John McClane throws Hans Gruber (oh, Alan Rickman, how I love you) off the roof in the first Die Hard? Anyway, it stuck and now we use it for anytime someone throws something onto the ground. Stick around, people. It's going to be a thing. And these pretzels are making me thirsty. I clearly need to go to sleep.

Happy Weekend!

Be well,


(This was originally posted on July 30, 2011 but I am re-posting to move to the top of the blog.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wop wop.

And of course, the tile is asbestos. Cue the woe and dollar signs. Sigh. Well, this will cost us a little more and push back the timeline, but fortunately we don't currently have any possessions in the house so it will be much easier to remediate than it would be after we moved. Plus, the ugly floor in the downstairs bath has to go! Optimism FTW!

Be well,


It begins.

As delighted as M and I are with our new house, we are finding out bit by bit that what we really bought is an opportunity to spend lots more money. Every time we start on one project, we find two more that need to go on the list. Alas, we cannot afford to tackle everything at once, so we are starting with the two things that emerged at the top of that very long list: painting the entire house and remodeling the kitchen.

Almost every wall, ceiling and closet in the house is in desperate need of a paint job. I don't know when it was last painted or by whom, but all of the off-white paint is dingy and depressing, and even that isn't as bad as the lavender in the second bedroom or the horrible china blue in the downstairs guest room. There are literally hundreds of holes in the walls of various sizes and the hardware holding the rolling blinds in place has been painted over at least 5 times, rendering it almost part of the wall. One wall downstairs has water damage behind the plaster, which makes the paint chip off in charming little geometric shapes and the windows in the bathrooms are all edged with rust. Thankfully, we found a contractor whose painters seem up to the job and they started prep work on Wednesday. All the floors we care about are covered in pink paper and the long process of removing a million wall anchors is begun. Hooray! We are having the entire house painted the same color: Benjamin Moore's Distant Gray in their no-VOC Natura paint and primer. With a 2 year old and a little one on the way, we want to be as health conscious as possible. We may go back and do some accent walls in different colors later, but for now we are going with a clean slate.

The second item on our pre-move-in list is the kitchen. And oh my, does it need help. The cabinets, countertops and (I think) sink are original, and the dishwasher is of a late 1980's vintage. The range hood is offset from the actual range by about 8 inches and the automatic ice maker isn't even connected to a water source. Not to mention the awful tile floors, which may or may not contain asbestos. (Fingers crossed that we don't have to do asbestos remediation before commencing work.) So, we are going to essentially start over. Both doorways are going to be widened to open the space and we are installing all new cabinets, floors and countertops, as well as replacing the sink, faucet, dishwasher and range hood. The refrigerator and range are both new-ish and will remain until I can find an awesome deal on the range of my dreams (found here; my mom has the same one and I love cooking on it and so does she). Ditto for a counter-depth refrigerator, but since I don't want an icemaker/water dispenser in the door this is actually a harder search than I expected. The good news about the kitchen is that the contractor's estimate came in right where we anticipated and so far, we are within our budget! We are planning to do an IKEA kitchen and the very first thing I chose for the space was the DOMSJĂ– double-basin farmhouse sink. I LOVE IT. The very thought of having enough space to wash pots is enough to make me dizzy. We are going to pair it with the HJUVIK faucet with hand sprayer. The cabinet and drawer fronts will be the NEXUS birch veneer with LANSA handles. M used the IKEA kitchen planner to lay out all of the cabinets and we are pretty much ready to buy everything, but rumor has it that the semi-annual kitchen sale begins in March so we are waiting to see if we can get another 20% off. We still need to choose a dishwasher (leaning towards a Bosch but they have less interior space due to better sound-proofing), flooring (likely either slate or a porcelain tile that looks like slate), a countertop material (laminate or Caesarstone) and a backsplash material (thinking glass subway tiles in a sea-glass green color). The walls will be white to match the rest of the house.

We will probably give the contractor the green light as soon as we get good news (please, please, please) from the asbestos test results and hopefully will be starting work in the kitchen by the first full week of March. It's getting exciting...

Be well,


Sleepover kit planning.

Sleepovers are fun. I can remember how much I loved both having and going to sleepovers as a child and hope that one day, our new home (!!) can be the site of many awesome all-night giggle fests. Even though my little friend MK isn't quite ready for big girl sleepovers, I think that having a kit of the necessary supplies will help her to prepare.

Admittedly, the only progress I have made is to map out my plan and purchase anything that I didn't already have. Oh, and all the fabric is washed thanks to the mister. I decided to start with the pajamas and let them guide my color choices. Since the pants of the PJs are pink with monkeys, I decided to coordinate with the pinks and browns. I chose the following fabrics:

- Bubblegum pink fleece, which matches the bows and hearts on the PJs
- Hot pink/white flannel houndstooth print
- Hot pink flannel-backed satin
- Brown minky fabric (which I already owned)
- A medium weight blue denim

It sounds like too much, but bear with me and I think you will see where I am going with this. This is the breakdown of what will be used where:

1. Pajamas - I found some adorable PJs at Carter's (on sale!). You can see them here, but just in case the link expires, they are pink, flannel and have monkeys on them (MK loves monkeys).

2. Blanket - I am going to make a simple blanket with the brown minky on one side and the pink flannel-backed satin on the other. For the edging I am going to make bias binding with the pink/white houndstooth using this tutorial.

3. Pillow - A toddler sized pillow with a simple pillowcase using the pink/white houndstooth.

4. Slippers - Bubblegum pink fleece elf slippers using the maya*made tutorial found here.

5. A sleep mask - Pink flannel-backed satin and pink/white houndstooth using this Whipup tutorial.

6. A toothbrush and toothpaste - I still need to pick up a toddler toothbrush and some toothpaste at Whole Foods.

7. A stuffed animal - If I have time, I am going to make a bunny similar to this one with either the pink flannel or the brown minky. Either way, I will line the ears with the pink/white houndstooth.

8. A bag - I made some simple, reversible drawstring bags for the Numa and my niece and nephew over the holiday. I will use the same pattern for this bag with the denim and the flannel-backed satin and will post a short tutorial on making the bags, since they are cute and sturdy. Below is the bag I made for my nephew...the train fabric is a Kokka medium weight cotton/linen blend I found at a local fabric store. The bag reverses to a dark denim and the bottom of the bag on each side is in the contrasting color.

Elliott's fort kit.

Wish me luck. I have a long list of projects and a limited timeline!

Be well,


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

All your brain cells are belong to me.

We have news! I am currently about 18 weeks pregnant with baby #2. M and I are thrilled and can't wait to welcome a new baby into our family. The Numa will be roughly 2.5 when the new baby comes and will hopefully be very excited to be a big brother. I am almost giddy at the thought of another tiny person who sleeps on my chest and has that new baby smell. Isn't that just the best?

While I am very happy to be expecting a new baby, I am growing increasingly concerned about my inability to function in what I consider a "normal" fashion. You know, where I remember to do things and can recall simple words and concepts during conversations. The other day, I was telling a coworker about a new show I was watching on __. It took me almost 10 seconds of thought to fill in that blank, which was "television." That's right, TELEVISION. TV. I could not remember the word for that big square thing on which I watch shows. In the main, this isn't such a huge deal. Sure, I take my fair share of teasing for the resulting ridiculousness, but hey, that's life. However, tonight my non-functional recall ability caused me to forget our monthly meat CSA pick up. Which takes place approximately 5 minutes from our apartment. By foot. Like I could have walked there at any time after arriving home up to about 6:45 and still made it in plenty of time to pick up my share and chat with the lovely farmers who provide it. The cooler was even in the car...I could have stopped on my way home. And I read the email reminding me to pick up my share right before leaving work. But no, my fetus-eaten brain failed to remind me that I needed to do this until a full hour after pick up had ended. Damnit.

In other news, we closed on our new house last Friday! We went to the house after the closing to make a list of what needs to be done before we move in late March and one of our neighbors rang the bell to say hello. Our new neighborhood is fantastic - we have met several of our neighbors and each is nicer than the last. There are several families with kids and a family expecting a new baby sometime this spring, so at least one of our little people will have similarly aged pals to hang out with. I will post lots of pictures of the house in it's current state. There is much to do!

Be well,


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Homeowners and sleepovers.

Tomorrow is the big day. We close on our new house in the morning and will become officially poor. We are super excited and just hope that all goes well.

In other news, I am planning to give a friend of the Numa's a Sleepover Kit for her 2nd birthday. So far, my list of things necessary for a sleepover includes:

1. Pajamas - No nude sleepovers when you are 2. Once you are an adult, you are free to have nude sleepovers whenever the mood strikes you.
2. A blanket - Because it gets cold at night.
3. A pillow - To provide a gentle but effective weapon against your fellow sleepmates.
4. Slippers - For when you need to pee in the middle of the night.
5. A sleep mask - Because it is adorable.
6. A toothbrush and toothpaste - Fresh breath is not optional.
7. A stuffed animal - To keep you company all night long.
8. A bag - To carry the essentials.

I am liking this list so far and will pick up most of the supplies this weekend. What did I miss?

Be well,


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Gruffalo.

I am incredibly picky about children's books. This isn't surprising, since M and I spend a good bit of time each day reading to the Numa and if you have ever had a child pick a terrible book as a favorite, you know how long those sessions can feel. He has gotten some truly awful books in the past, either from me because the description sounded good or as gifts from people who hone in on his current favorite thing and choose a book solely for its inclusion of that thing. For instance, he is really into cats (probably because we have two of them) and a good friend got him How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Cats? People really seem to like this series and as an adult, I understand the concept of presenting the wrong way of doing something immediately followed by the right way to illustrate a point. However, I happen to think that the beginning of this book is just mean and has the potential to inspire bad behaviors. When I got to the part about "giving the cat a throw," I immediately put this one in the Goodwill pile.

Another beloved book that I just cannot stand is Pat the Bunny. My Amazon review provides a summary of my impressions:

Not only is it boring, it's also overpriced and cheaply made

I am at a complete loss as to why this book is a classic. Is it just because it has been around so long? The story is non-existent and the language is halting and awkward (and yes, I get that repetition is good for language development, but not if you can't stand to read it more than once). "Bunny is eating his good supper." Really? In addition to it's lack of charm, the book itself is cheaply made, smells funny and can be unsafe, as the plastic binder is easily removed by determined little hands. There are far better books for $10.

According to the one comment generated by my review, I am "over-analyzing just a smidge" but I don't think so. Who wants to own books for their toddlers that are uninteresting, cheaply made and smell like drugstore perfume?

On to my new favorite kid's book is The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson. The language in the book is engaging and lively and the cast of characters gives me the opportunity to do multiple voices, which Numa loves. He especially enjoys my Gruffalo voice, and we both end up laughing so hard we cry every time I read it. I love the cadence, I love the drawings and I love the mouse, who is crafty and creative. I highly recommend this book and am going to order The Gruffalo's Child even though the reviews aren't quite as good.

Here's hoping you are reading a book you love tonight.

Be well,


Monday, January 9, 2012

We bought a house. For real this time.

Wow. So November 2nd is the last time I remember feeling okay while also having free time. Lots has been happening here, not least of which is that we bought a house! And this time, it is really happening. The inspection went really well, money has changed hands and barring a horrible natural disaster, it will be ours for good on February 3. We are excited and scared and very, very poor.

The house is a split-level, mid-century modern built in 1969. It has 4-5 bedrooms (depending on how we decide to use the space), 3 outdated and extremely ugly but functional full bathrooms, a large family room, lots of windows and a full basement. The kitchen, like the bathrooms, is outdated and poorly laid out and will be the only big project we tackle before we move in late March. We are in the process of interviewing contractors and choosing all of the kitchen elements and I will share all of them here. We want to be true to the clean, mid-century beginnings of the house but also want it to have touches of us (which for me means handmade), so the final product will be a little of both. I expect that there will be many trips to IKEA in our future...

Until we meet again, enjoy this picture of the master bathroom. In particular, I would like to point out that the toilet seat and cover, while both clearly an ugly powder blue, are stained and faded and do not match the ugly powder blue of the toilet itself. This bathroom is WINNING.

Master bath.

Be well,