Thursday, January 31, 2013

Kitchen progress - Chapter 1.

We have owned our house for almost a year. We have lived there for almost 10 months. And I have yet to post any photos of the house as it has evolved. What can I say...we have been busy.

So let's start with the kitchen! The kitchen is one of our most used rooms since I cook far more often than we order takeout. Having a kitchen that is comfortable, efficient and inviting was important to both M and me, because not only do we use it constantly, it is the first room you see when you enter our house. Our goals for the space were to make it feel open and comfortable, to maximize storage space while not overcrowding the walls and (this may have just been me) to ensure that the IKEA DOMSJÖ double sink would fit into the overall design plan. For anyone who has been stuck with a too-small sink for any amount of time, I cannot oversell the value of a gigantic double sink. I actually hugged it after it was installed. But I am getting ahead of myself...

The first step in creating our new kitchen was to demolish the old one. Well, actually, that isn't true. The first, first step was to determine the design of the new space. We wanted to make as few structural changes as possible to keep costs down so we resolved to keep most of the appliances and all the plumbing in the existing configuration. The kitchen has two doorways, one facing the entryway and one facing the dining room, both of which originally had doors. Since we knew we would be in and out of the kitchen all day the doors had to go and I actually removed one of them on closing day. The original doorways were a standard 30" wide which made the kitchen feel very closed off from the rest of the house so in addition to removing the doors, we decided to widen the doorway into the dining room as much as we could. Though the door leading into the entryway would have to remain the same size, the layout we eventually chose necessitated moving the opening about 6 inches to the right to accommodate the cabinets we planned to add to the magenta wall.

Doorway into dining room before renovation.
Cabinets and accordion door removed.
Doorway after widening.
View of widened doorway from dining room.

Next in the design process was determining the feel of the kitchen. The house is a mid-century modern and we wanted to make sure that the new kitchen would fit in with the rest of the house. Between the look we wanted and the budget we had, it didn't take long to narrow our options to one: IKEA. In case I haven't put it out there before, we are HUGE IKEA fans and the majority of our furniture hails from that giant Scandinavian warehouse. Our house is basically an IKEA catalog and we are okay with that. We have two small children which means that we don't want to own things that are precious or fragile or expensive. Bam. IKEA. Anyway, in a happy instance of serendipity, we were planning the kitchen remodel just as IKEA was having its annual kitchen sale. As long as we spent $4500 or more, we would get 20% off of our total kitchen purchase, from appliances to cabinets to drawer dividers. Sold.

M spent the better part of a month wrestling with IKEA's online kitchen design tool. We made at least 5 trips to our local store (45 minutes away), with and without the Numa, to choose cabinets, ogle my sink and pick finishes. After many hours of deliberation, we decided to go with NEXUS birch veneer cabinet fronts with stainless LANSA handles, chosen both for the look and because the flat-front NEXUS style makes the cabinet faces much easier to clean. We debated purchasing IKEA appliances but in the end we only went with the NUTID wall mounted hood; all of our other new appliances are from Bosch. And after many, many hours of cursing at the slow, bug ridden kitchen design tool, M finally arrived at a layout that we were excited about. The new configuration kept the fridge, sink, cooktop and exhaust fan in the same locations as the original kitchen. We added a wall oven and microwave to the wall opposite the window along with lots of new cabinets to increase the storage capacity. We also decided against putting upper cabinets on the wall above the sink to keep the room from feeling crowded, which was the absolute right decision.

Final Kitchen Layout.
Final layout, as seen from the dining room.

Next up: demolition (ignore that you have seen part of that above) and painting.

Be well,


Friday, January 25, 2013

My breastfeeding journey - Part 3.

Months later, I continue to document my saga...

When the Numa was not quite two, we got the happy news that our family would be growing again. We were thrilled to be having another baby, though the thought of being pregnant again didn't fill me with joy. I adore babies and giving birth to the Numa was one of the most meaningful and empowering experiences of my life, but I am not a happy or pleasant pregnant person so I knew that we were all in for a long 9 months.

Although my pregnancy went fairly smoothly, our lives at the time were anything but. Shortly after learning about our new human addition we decided to take on another project: purchasing and renovating our first house. We were so happy to find a lovely home to make our own but somewhat underestimated the toll that the renovations and subsequent move would take on my body and our sanity. Our formerly pleasant and happy-go-lucky toddler turned 2 with a vengeance and I went through a series of physical setbacks, including a stress fracture in my foot and serious hip pain. I was pretty much useless during the move and after, which is why we still have unpacked boxes almost a year later. Fortunately, the baby felt none of this and developed perfectly and right on schedule. Because the Numa had been a week early, I convinced myself that this baby would be early as well so when she stayed stubbornly put right up until her due date, I became extremely unpleasant. I didn't give much more than a passing thought to our lives post-delivery and whenever I thought about breastfeeding, it was always with cautious optimism. I would give it a shot and hope that because she was my second things would be better, but if it didn't work out I was counting on the perspective I gained with the Numa to see me through. We did take the precaution of having formula on hand because I was completely unwilling to let my newborn be hungry for even an instant.

My water broke at home while we were having breakfast with our closest friends (who remain our closest friends because of their amazing sense of humor). I was excited but nervous, since I was planning to attempt another unmedicated birth but this time I was without the benefit of ignorance. It is one thing to know in the abstract that having a baby will hurt, but it is quite another to actually bring a person into this world sans drugs. Despite what everyone told me, I had not forgotten the pain associated with pushing a human being out of my body and I wasn't eager to experience it again. To make a long story very short, the birth of my second child was painful on an entirely new level and I truly thought I was going to die more than once during the process. Her birth was fast and violent and though I am proud that I managed to do it without any type of medication, I am also honest enough to admit that if I had known just how much it was going to hurt that I may have changed my mind. She arrived just 5.5 hours after my water broke and though her birth wasn't as empowering as her brother's, I loved her with every fiber of my being the moment I touched her and I would do it all again for that single moment.

The little one was a champion nurser from the beginning. She had a great latch and was very content to lay on my chest and cuddle while all the post-birth happenings wrapped up. We had planned to leave the hospital that same day (with my OB's blessing) but due to losing more blood than was good for me we were admitted overnight. She (let's call her Her Highness from this point on, HH for short) nursed on and off all night and into the next day, when we were finally discharged. She continued to latch well and nurse frequently over the next two weeks, though we started supplementing almost immediately since I again failed to start producing enough milk. At this point in the process, though, I was fairly content. She nursed and took a bottle throughout the day, switching from one to the other with no issues, and though I was sure I wouldn't be able to exclusively breastfeed, I had no doubt that she would nurse as long as her brother had or even longer. It was less than I wished but still rewarding for us both and I was feeling good about our routine as I headed into my 6 months of maternity leave.

Be well,


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Right now.

Right now, I...

Should be in bed.

Am listening to a baby cough every so often and hoping she doesn't fully wake.

Wonder whether or not I should wake M again, as he has fallen asleep with the Numa.

Am still enjoying our Christmas tree, which I will probably leave up until at least Valentine's Day.

Have a dishwasher full of clean dishes that I really should unload. (This seems to be a theme with me.)

Wish I had made more than just 2 cupcakes (excellent recipe by Brett Bara...find it here).

Desperately need to clean the den.

Am watching Burn Notice and listening to Imogen Heap at the same time.

Hope that the munchkin's stubborn tooth emerges soon.

Need to stop worrying about M's upcoming trip and just trust that we will live through it.

Have to go pick up my crying little person, because teething is a bitch.

Be well,