Tuesday, November 27, 2012

DIY: Christmas decor and gifts from $0 - $10

I haven't been doing much crafting this year as my time and energy has been sucked dry by the long-legged goober. However, take a glance at a couple of my most-viewed do-it-yourself tutorials to get your living quarters in the holiday spirit as well as creative DIY gift ideas for little or no money!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

DIY: How to paint perfect wall stripes

I desperately wanted striped walls in my nursery, but my OCD had to make sure they were done right. No baby wants a twitchy mommy every time we walk into a room with crooked lines on the walls. So I'm going to share with you a compiled list of dos and do nots that I found while reading countless other tutorials.

Paint your base color. Make sure you leave plenty of time for it to cure. This is a process that should not be rushed.

You're going to want both a tape measure and laser level. Unfortunately, there's no rocket science to this part, but you need to summon your inner obsessive compulsive and do not half-ass this step. Figure out roughly how tall you want your stripes, then divide the height of your wall by that number and round to the nearest whole number. Refigure your stripe height to ensure all the stripes will be the same.

Using your laser level and tape measure, start measuring, marking, re-measuring, adjusting, re-measuring and double triple checking your points. Again, you will be sorry if your lines are not level. Do not rush this step.

USE FROG TAPE. Do not skimp and buy the 3M or generic brand. I have used both and it is an unbelievable difference when it comes to paint seeping under the tape. I will repeat, use Frog Tape!! Be sure to also put the tape on the inside or outside of your mark depending on which area needs to be painted.

Use tape or some way to indicate which stripes don't need to be painted so you don't accidentally start painting the wrong area.

Here's the biggest tip I can offer. On the day you're planning on painting, take the original base color and paint a strip (an inch or so tall) half across the tape and half into the area you're going to be painting the new color. This helps seal the tape down and IF there's any seepage, it's going to be the base color seeping onto the base color. No big deal. Read the paint can and let dry for the hour or whatever it says before you begin painting your new color.

You want to do this step right before you paint the new color so that it doesn't have time to cure and you risk peeling or chipping the paint. Minimal drying time is all you'll need before you can paint over it.

Go ahead and paint your new stripe color. You're going to want to get all the necessary coats in on one day. Let the first coat dry for however long the paint can indicates and then get your second coat on right away. This is for the same reason as above... you're not going to want to risk cracking or peeling if the paint sits too long on top of the tape. Remove the tape SLOWLY at an angle as soon as you're done with your last coat.

We were extremely surprised with how clean the lines turned out. We only did two walls in a pretty tiny room and it was fairly time consuming. Measuring and taping took roughly 2-3 hours and painting two coats (with dry time) took most of the day. It's so worth it though. I absolutely LOVE how the nursery turned out. Check out my nursery reveal post to see how it all came together!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lil Arch's Yellow + Grey Gender Neutral Nursery

Way back in July, the nursery transformation commenced. However, when two different companies take over 6 months to deliver the correct essential furniture, my OCD brain can't start decorating until all the big pieces are in place. I still have one or two pieces of artwork that need to be finished up and obviously some nice baby photos that need to be filled in. Other than that, I'm too antsy to wait anymore to show off our nursery... and I have a few family members that are threatening us if we keep it a secret any longer.  :)

We had decided on a yellow and grey nursery for a couple reasons: 1) obviously it's gender neutral -- not only for this baby, but all future Lil Archs, and 2) Clay and I have very similar modern decorating ideas and felt greys with a bold accent color would work best for us.

Momma Z spent several days at my house helping doing most of the work when it came to painting. We are both super thrilled with how the stripes turned out. Check out my tutorial with all the secrets I found on other blogs to paint successful stripes.

The two dressers and crib came from Baby Cache via Babies R Us. We chose the Essentials Collection in white because it was the most modern looking we could find for a pretty decent price.

In addition to being a fantastic painter, my mom is a talented seamstress as well. She made all of Lil Arch's bedding which includes yellow, light grey and dark grey sheets and pillow cases, the bumper pads, crib skirt and her first quilt ever that turned out beautifully! She also did the handkerchief curtain (1), decorative pillow for the glider (2) and a yellow and white contoured changing pad cover (3) -- tutorial here.

I couldn't seem to find bedding or any other linens that weren't in super child-like prints or pastels. My mother thankfully knows about my OCD and how I feel about colors/shades needing to match exactly, so I am very thankful for all the time she put into making everything exactly to my liking. xoxo

Side note: when organizing drawers, don't forget to take advantage of baskets/dividers/tupperware (4) within the drawer. They keep things neat and organized!

I was looking for some sort of light a little brighter than the Scentsy plug-in nightlight I have so I didn't have to flip the overhead on for middle of the night diaper changes. Momma Z had this old brass touch lamp which was the perfect size for my dresser. God bless spray paint. I was a little concerned the paint would make the "touch" feature useless, but it still works perfectly fine.

I also saw an example once of a mom, dad and baby hospital photo collage that I really liked. So I took the same concept and scaled it down into one 3-image frame. I repurposed the frame that I had down in my storage bin with a fresh coat of yellow paint. It currently holds both Clay's and my hospital photos... anxiously awaiting to fill that third slot.

Fake family will have to do for now until there are baby photos. The mirror was $15 at Meijer which I also slapped a few coats of yellow paint on the frame to bring more color into the room. The picture frames were $9 and $3 each from Meijer as well which I took some silver spray paint to.

I'm envious how organized the baby's closet is compared to my own. A huge thanks to Papa Z for installing the closet organizer during one of his trips home! I purchased ten collapsable canvas totes for all the random stuff. Menards had the best deal I could find at $5.88 per tote. Armed with my label maker, I nicely labeled every tote so even Clayton can find things. A huge thank you again to former classmate Brenda Martin for making dividers for all of Lil Arch's clothes! These labeled dividers are a godsend and would put these on my "list of baby gear no new mother should go without!"

My sisters-in-law started this print out at the Archambault shower and had every guest add their finger print to the tree. Then it made its way over to the other shower for my side of the family to add their prints. I love that it meshes in so well with our decor and has such a personal touch to it. Lil Arch, you are so loved by so many people!

Miss Zora is especially a fan of the new carpet from Lowes. It's incredibly soft and I think she likes the feel of it on her hairless belly because she always stretches out like this whenever she's in the room. Glad she likes it because I have a feeling (hopefully) that her and Lil Arch will be best buddies.

Let the jumping jacks continue...

I know I still have four, long, miserable days before my actual due date, but this baby needs to come out. Now.

  1. There's no room for food. I love to eat and this epic battle for space between baby and nourishment is highly overrated. 
  2. I set a new record last night for getting up to pee four times IN AN HOUR! When the clock still says 11:something every time you get up to pee, you know it's going to be a very long night.
  3. I'm at a happy place with my workload finally. All tasks have either been wrapped up or left off at a place that someone else can easily take over. I know if I go to work Monday, that'll no longer be the case.
  4. I feel like someone is constantly punching me in the crotch. TMI? Sorry.
  5. I need to be able to crawl in bed and actually pass out at night. Right now, I'm getting up several times a night (in additional to tinkling) to soak my feet in a sink full of ice cold water and then return to bed to continue my bedroom snow angels. If the burning feet and RLS don't die down after I give birth, I'm going to rip my legs off.
  6. Did you know fresh pineapple is a possible labor inducer? Yeah, me neither! But I think Clay owes me a Meijer run to go buy one. Or a dozen. I'm probably just going to end up with a million canker sores and no signs of labor.
  7. I'm out of Tums. 
  8. When I say I'm looking forward to "tummy time," I'm not talking about for the baby. 
  9. I need to know the gender. There's waaaay too much cute shit out there. Except boy holiday clothes. Girls have all these cute dresses and boys have like nothing. What are you suppose to put on a less than one month old infant boy at Christmas? That's why I need Lil Arch to be a girl... among other reasons of course.
  10. Holiday. Beverages.
  11. I'm ready for my 9 week vacation. So very very ready. 
  12. Did I mention I feel like I've been kicked in the crotch repeatedly?
  13. Father Z has been home for 9 glorious days and no baby. Now he has to fly back to WV tomorrow and that's probably when the lil stinker will come out.  :(
  14. I would rather have Clay driving 90 down Riley to the hospital while the roads are dry rather than covered in snow. 
  15. I'm tired of waddling. 

Ok. End rant. Back to working on the nursery. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

39 large, uncomfortable weeks

I guess I'll update one of my questionnaire things now since I may or may not see 40 weeks. Hell, who am I kidding? With my luck, there will probably be a "42 week" post. Besides, I'm carrying a child that has half my husbands genes... so like most days, my life is put on hold waiting for a procrastinator. Awesome.

Total weight gain/loss:
I give up. I no longer care. I'm a large, round cow that waddles and grunts when I move.

We have our final piece of nursery furniture! Called the latest dresser "good enough" and brought it home. I spent this past weekend filling it up quickly with all the clothes that this lil booger already has and immediately had a panic attack when I imagined what it's going to be like on Christmas. Is it possible for an infant to need to take over the spare bedroom closet too?

Maternity clothes:
Most days it's my one, lonely pair of maternity jeans. Still squeaking out a few skirt and leggings days, but it's usually jeans and flip flops.

Stretch marks:
I made it up until 37 or 38 weeks without a damn stretch mark and then one day, POOF! Damnit. Damnit damnit damnit. Guess I get my tiger stripes after all.

Sleep? Oh that couple hour nap I get after the sun goes down? There are nights I think I'm going to lose my mind if I don't fall asleep. Still mainly the heartburn, jumpy legs, burning feet and this rogue limb that keeps lodging itself under my right rib cage. Thanks lil buddy.

Best moment last week:
Getting to refocus my efforts on getting the nursery done. I just love that room. I could hang out in it all day. Zora loves it too... but I think it's because she likes the super soft carpet. I hope to finish up painting some frames and wall decor this weekend and HOPEFULLY can present you all with the grand unveiling sometime before this baby is actually born.

I read that movement would be less noticeable now that he/she is running out of room, but I've actually felt and seen more movement now than I ever have before. I love watching my belly roll around and look all asymmetrical when a foot or hand is sticking out. I'm gonna miss my permanent belly buddy.

Food cravings:
Eh, mostly just the usual. Oreos. Ranch dressing. Chocolate milk. I have had a pretty strong craving for saucy and spicy foods lately... enchiladas, buffalo chicken, pepperjack cheese, etc.

Still banking on human baby, but possibly entertaining the idea of a giraffe.

Labor signs:
Nadda. This baby is going no where.  :(

Belly button in/out:
It's starting to lay flatter, but with the two holes from my belly button ring now on the OUTSIDE of my belly button, there's no hope for any of it anymore.

Feeling like a bloated fatty ALL. THE. TIME. My insides and swollen feet just want a little relief. This whole needing to gain momentum to launch myself upright in bed just so I can pee at night is a little ridiculous. And speaking of peeing, how am I suppose to go for these long walks to hopefully get labor going? I can walk about, mmm, 18 steps before I'm in all out "where's the bathroom" panic mode. I'm so convinced I need a catheter.

Mood swings:
I may or may not have had a huge meltdown yesterday regarding work overload, sick doggies, annoying people, faulty technology and a messy house. I will neither confirm nor deny.

What I miss:
Being comfortable. Tummy time. Clothes that fit. And I could still use that drink some days.

What I'm looking forward to:
I can't believe that I will become a mom (officially) sometime in the next two weeks. Moms out there, did you get to this stage with your humungous belly and all your uncomfortableness and really just not have it sink in yet? I've gone through my nesting stage like 26 times already and I see this moving belly sticking out in front of me and yet... I don't know if I can really wrap my head around it. Is that weird?

So yeah, doctor's appointment yesterday indicated I was only 1 cm dilated. This baby is never coming out. Grandma said I should just binge on Thanksgiving and force it out with food. I like where her heads at, but unfortunately, I would probably just explode and die. On that note, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Stay tuned for a nursery unveiling in the near future... hopefully.

Friday, November 16, 2012

38 weeks: The lightning round

Squeamish followers... might want to go ahead and skip this post.

So sometimes I skip ahead and read what's going to happen in the upcoming weeks on thebump.com. Last week when I was checking the 38 week page, it mentioned that one of the new fun symptoms to look forward is lightning crotch. Yes, I said it... lightning crotch. 

At first I thought they were f'ing nuts... that can't be real. I mean, with such a complex medical term like lightning crotch and all... aaaaaand then today happened. Thanks Lil Arch. I enjoy feeling like someone is taking a taser to my lady bits.

The long-legged goober seems to be starting the final journey outta my belly. Other than the occasional jab to my right rib cage, there's a lot of crazy limbs causing quite a bit of pain in my pelvis like every 10 seconds today. Any time now lil buddy... I'm ready. Super uncomfortable and ready.

In other news, what a thought was a pregnancy-related clogged left ear that hasn't been functioning now for a week turned out to be an ear infection. My OB prescribed some Sudafed... which I have never taken nor made aware of the crazy ass side effects. Within 20 minutes, my chest was so tight and my heart racing like I was having a heart attack. Baby, on the other hand, was freaking out. I was waiting for an Alien-like moment where he/she punched right out of my belly. Then I woke up every hour the entire night hallucinating that I was going into labor, but couldn't leave the house and Clay denying I was even pregnant... ya know, normal stuff like that. No more Sudafed for this girl. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

37 weeks: human chameleon + bowling ball smuggler

I. Am. So. Ready. To. Be. Done.

This past week has been full of changes... a few good ones, but a lot more that can be labeled as weird and uncomfortable. At 37 weeks, Lil Arch is supposedly the size of a winter melon (18.9 to 20.9 inches and weighs about 6.2 to 9.2 pounds.) Based on the way my waistline has morphed the last week, I'm pretty sure I'm going to give birth to a baby giraffe. 

I look like I'm smuggling a bowling ball in my shirt right now. Lil Arch even lets me know when I'm sitting too close to my desk and crowding him/her. Thank God for long arms. Other less than desirables include:
  1. Shoes either don't fit anymore or make my feet feel like they're on fire. Sorry work dress code, it's flip flops for this blimp until I come back from maternity leave.
  2. I'm pretty sure the baby has started descending because I now have to pee every second of the day. No joke. I can't even make it out of the bathroom without feeling like I still have to go. Get off my bladder lil one! 
  3. Clay is ready to smother me with my own pillow if I don't stop breathing so loud at night. Um, the giraffe I'm carrying is waging war at both ends... my lungs and bladder don't stand a chance. 
  4. I managed to make it 36 weeks without any stretch marks... then some appeared randomly one night. Damnit.
  5. My super awesome daycare scenario may have fallen through. She never got my email back in August stating we're interested in going with her and informed me that she's selling her house in December with no place picked out to move into after that. Awesome.
  6. I'm turning into a chameleon as of today. I have these weird dark brown splotches taking over my arms. I've read that dark spots can appear on your face during pregnancy, but I don't think anyone has mentioned other parts of the body.

Don't get me wrong, I love being pregnant. I love having this energetic little life moving around in my belly and constantly reminding me that he/she's there (and running out of room). But good grief, I have forgotten what it's like to be comfortable in my own skin. My back is still always crashing into my butt, I avoid stairs and long walks at all cost, I can't stand on one foot to put pants on without grunting and falling over... pregnancy is rough on the body. I mean, you should've seen me after putting on nylons this weekend. I had to start over twice due to foot cramps, had to lie on my back in order to reach my foot to get things started and was panting and sweating by the time I got done 20 minutes later. 

I love you little bump and I will miss you when you're not with me 24/7, but this very-soon-to-be momma is ready to go into labor... any time now. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

How To Not Suck At Your Marriage

Tis the eve of another family wedding and I thought that it would be a great time to share this great "how to not suck at your marriage" list I came across online. It was written by the author of Single Dad Laughing. I love this list mainly because it's a little different than the typical "be honest, communicate, don't go to bed angry" lists you usually read regarding marriage/relationships.

This list really made me stop and reflect upon my own marriage. I find that it is especially crucial now to fix any less-than-ideal characteristics that I bring into the marriage because I want Lil Arch (and all future Lil Archs) to grow up witnessing a marriage similar to the ones Clay and I grew up around. Both our parents have amazing marriages (and relationships with their children), so I won't settle for anything less than my children being surrounded by amazing relationship role models.

Single Dad Laughing offered up 16 ways he "blew his marriages" and if he had a do-over, how he would remedy each characteristic/situation. These are relevant to both men and women. Below is the slightly condensed/edited version.

1. Don't stop holding her hand.
When I first dated the woman I ended up marrying, I always held her hand. In the car. While walking. At meals. At movies. It didn’t matter where. Over time, I stopped. I made up excuses like my hand was too hot or it made me sweat or I wasn’t comfortable with it in public. Truth was, I stopped holding hands because I stopped wanting to put in the effort to be close to my wife. No other reason.

Do-over: I’d hold her hand everywhere, even when we didn’t particularly like each other for the moment.

2. Don't stop trying to be attractive.
Obviously when I was working to woo her, I would do myself up as attractively as I possibly could every time I saw her. I kept perfectly groomed. I always smelled good. I held in my farts until she wasn’t around. For some reason, marriage made me feel like I could stop doing all that. I would get all properly groomed, smelling good, and dressed up any time we went out somewhere or I went out by myself, but I rarely, if ever, cared about making myself attractive just for her.

Do-over: I’d try and put my best foot forward throughout our entire marriage. I’d make myself desirable so that she would desire me.

3. Don't always point out her weaknesses.
For some reason, I always ended up feeling like it was my place to tell her where she was weak and where she could do better. I sure as heck didn’t do that while we were dating. No, when I dated her I only built her up, only told her how amazing she was, and easily looked past all of her flaws. After we got married though, she sometimes couldn’t even cook eggs without me telling her how she might be able to improve.

Do-over: I wouldn’t say a damned thing about anything that I thought could use improvement. I’ve learned since my marriage ended that there is more than one right way to do most things, and that the imperfections of others are too beautiful to try and change.

4. Don't stop cooking for her. 
I knew how to woo a girl, for sure. And the ticket was usually a night in, cooking a nice meal and having a romantic evening. So why is it then, that I didn’t do that for her after we got married? Sure, I’d throw some canned soup in the microwave or fry up some chimichangas once in a while, but I rarely if ever went out of my way to sweep her off her feet after we were married by steaming crab legs, or making fancy pasta, or setting up a candlelit table.

Do-over: I’d make it a priority to cook for her, and only her, something awesome at least every month.

5. Don't yell at your spouse. 
I’m not talking about the angry kind of yelling. I’m talking about the lazy kind of yelling. The kind of yelling you do when you don’t want to get up from your television show or you don’t want to go ALL THE WAY UPSTAIRS to ask her if she’s seen your keys. It really doesn’t take that much effort to go find her, and yelling (by nature) sounds demanding and authoritative.

Do-over: I’d try to go find her anytime I needed something or wanted to know something, and I’d have both gratitude and manners when I did. I always hated when she would yell to me, so why did I always feel it was okay to yell to her?

6. Don't call names.
I always felt I was the king of not calling names, but I wasn’t. I may not have called her stupid, or idiot, or any of the other names she’d sometimes call me, but I would tell her she was stubborn, or that she was impossible, or that she was so hard to deal with. Names are names, and calling them will drive bigger wedges in communication than just about anything else.

Do-over: Any time it got to the point that I wanted to call names, I’d call a time-out and come back to it later. Or better yet, I’d call her names, but they’d be names like “super sexy” or “hotness.” Even in the heat of the moment.

7. Don't be stingy with your money.
As the main bread earner, I was always so stingy with the money. I’d whine about the cost of her shampoo or that she didn’t order water at restaurants, or that she’d spend so much money on things like pedicures or hair dye jobs. But seriously. I always had just as many if not more things that I spent my money on, and in the end, the money was spent, we were just fine, and the only thing my bitching and moaning did was bring undo stress to our relationship.

Do-over: I’d tell her I trusted her to buy whatever she wanted, whenever she felt like she needed it. And then, I’d actually trust her to do it.

8. Don't argue in front of the kids.
There was never any argument that was so important or pressing that we couldn’t wait to have it until the kids weren’t there. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist or super-shrink to know why fighting in front of the kids is a dangerous and selfish way of doing things.

Do-over: I would never, ever, not even once fight in front of the kids, no matter how big or how small the issue was. I’d maybe make a code word that meant, “not with the kids here.” When you wait to fight, usually you both realize how stupid or unimportant the fight was and the fight never happens.

9. Don't encourage each other to skip working out.
I always thought it was love to tell my spouse, “I don’t care if you don’t take care of yourself. I don’t care if you don’t exercise. I don’t care if you let yourself go.” But that was lying, and it was lying when she said it to me because the truth is, we did care and I wish that we would have always told each other how sexy and attractive the other was any time we’d go workout or do something to become healthier.

Do-over: I’d ask her to tell me that she cared. I’d ask her to encourage me to go to the gym. I’d ask her to remind me of my goals and tell me I’m strong enough to keep them.

10. Don't poop with the bathroom door open.
I don’t know why, but at some point I started thinking it was okay to poop with the bathroom door open, and so did she. First of all, it’s gross. Second of all, it stinks everything up. Third of all, there is literally no way to make pooping attractive.

Do-over: I’d shut the damn door and poop in private.

11. Don't stop kissing her. 
It always got to a point when I’d more or less stop kissing her. Usually it was because things were stressful and there was tension in our relationship, and so I’d make it worse by refusing to kiss her. This of course would lead to her feeling rejected. Which would of course lead to arguments about it. Other times I had my own issues with germs and whatnot.

Do-over: I’d kiss her in the morning when she looked like people do in the morning. I’d kiss her at night when she’s had a long day. I’d kiss her any time I felt like she secretly wanted a kiss. And, I’d kiss her even when my germ issues kicked in.

12. Don't stop having fun together.
Couples should never stop having fun with each other, and I really wish I wouldn’t have gotten into so many ruts in which we didn’t really go out and do anything. And, I’ve been around the block enough times to know that when the fun is missing, and the social part of life is missing, so also goes missing the ability to be fully content with each other.

Do-over: I’d make a rule with her that we’d never stay home two weekends in a row.

13. Don't pressure each other. 
Pressuring each other about anything is always a recipe for resentment. I always felt so pressured to make more money, to not slip in my religion, to feel certain ways about things when I felt the opposite. And I usually carried a lot of resentment. Looking back, I can think of just as many times that I pressured her, so I know it was a two-way street.

Do-over: I’d make it a point to celebrate the different views, opinions, and ways that she had of doing things. I’d find the beauty in differentiation, not the threat.

14. Don't label each other with negative labels.
Sometimes the easiest phrases to say in my marriage started with one of three things. Either, “you should have,” “you aren’t,” or “you didn’t.” Inevitably after each of those seemed to come something negative. And since when have negative labels ever helped anyone? They certainly never helped her. Or me. Instead, they seemed to make the action that sparked the label worsen in big ways.

Do-over: I would learn to stop myself before saying any of those phrases, and then I’d switch them out for positive labels. Instead of “you should,” I’d say “you are great at.” Instead of saying “you aren’t,” I’d say “you are.” Instead of saying “you didn’t,” I’d say, “you did.” And then I’d follow it up with something positive.

15. Don't skip out on things that are important to her. 
It was so easy in marriage to veto so many of the things she enjoyed doing. My reasoning, “we can find things we both enjoy.” That’s lame. There will always be things she enjoys that I will never enjoy, and that’s no reason not to support her in them. Sometimes the only thing she needs is to know that I’m there.

Do-over: I’d attend many more of the events that she invited me to. I would actively participate and not tell all the reasons why I’d do it differently or how it could be better or more fun or time better spent.

16. Don't emotionally distance yourself after a fight. 
I never got to experience the power of make-up sex because any time my wife was mean or we got in a fight, I’d completely distance myself from her, usually for several days. Communication would shut down and I’d avoid contact at all cost. This never let things get worked out, and eventually after it had happened enough times I’d explode unnecessarily.

Do-over: I’d let myself communicate my emotions and feelings more often, and I’d make sure that she knew I still loved her any time we had an ugly bout. Sure, we’d give each other some distance. But not days of distance.

For the original text, click here.

I know... some of these rules are (or at least should be) common sense, but we can all find places to improve. I know a lot of these hit close to home for me and I believe it's so important to never stop self-analyzing... especially when it comes to what you bring to your relationships. Go forth folks... kiss your spouse and make an effort to be better at your marriage.
Pin It button on image hover