Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Six-Month Ted Update

Why I’m Writing This Update
Since I did a six-month update for my first child, and then did one about every six months after that, I would like to continue this habit for my second son, Ted. Plus, according to this website's stats, people tend to like these types of posts!  I'm going to try to present this information in a similar order to how I presented it in Ted's four-month update.

The biggest surprise right now is how relatively easy it seems (to me) for us to take care of Ted. I don't know if it's actually easier, or if it just seems easier because it's our second time around. Another surprise for me is that I'm still waking up in the Middle of the Night (MOTN) to pump - if I don't do a MOTN pump, then my breastmilk supply goes down (even though the baby is sound asleep during the MOTN). I'm also surprised and really thankful that I'm still producing milk and making enough to exclusively breastfeed!

The Best Things
Baby Ted sleeps well at night, but then again his big brother has always been a pretty good sleeper too. Also, baby Ted is usually happy! He's always been a relatively happy baby (scroll down to "personality" in this newborn Ted post). Ted makes me wonder if some people are born naturally hardwired to be generally happier. One more of the Best Things about right now is that Ted seems to genuinely like me - with our first son it is harder to tell.

The Worst Thing
Breastfeeding is still a challenge (read more above under Surprises), but I am very proud that I have earned my "Silver Boobies Award" (it's what you say when you've been able to breastfeed for six months)! So I guess what I'm saying is that my Worst Thing isn't actually that bad.

What’s Different This Time Around
Baby Ted is a lot lighter and smaller at this age than his older brother was at this age - Ted is in the 51st percentile for height but only the 26th percentile for weight. I can't believe that baby Ted is wearing size six month clothes right now (his brother was wearing size 12 month at this age if I remember correctly). Ted's smaller size makes it a lot easier for us to tote him around in his carseat carrier. And Ted still has no teeth (I think his brother had at least four teeth at this age)! I think having a big toothless grin makes babies look super cute / cuddly.  What else is different? Well, I've been taking less photos of both children than I used to when there was just one of them (and printing / displaying less); I'm not sure why. Also, we haven't started Ted on baby food yet (we started our first son on baby food at about five and half months old)*. Also, we have more stuff (toys and laundry) than before - toddler toys are enormous, plus we now have toys and clothes for two kids instead of just one. Also, my body hasn't gotten back to its pre-Ted shape yet, but I think it's because of breastfeeding, because I have less time and energy, and need to eat more calories and drink more fluids, due to pumping / breastfeeding.

*Update: My husband just started baby Ted on quinoa cereal (Ted hates it).

What’s the Same
I'm still doing a lot of cross stitch as my creative outlet. It's easy to do on the couch after the kiddos are asleep.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Toddler Bedroom Update

You may remember that I redid my son's bedroom in November. I have since added a new toddler sheet set from Land of Nod that my son got as a Christmas gift.

Monday, January 11, 2016

5-Day Do-Over: My Dining Room (and it took me MONTHS)

The After Photo
This didn't have to take me months, but it did. I had a baby, and my priorities changed during the "newborn" period.  Now that I have finally finished the room, here is how it went. I didn't do all of these steps exactly in order, but you get the idea. Note that I previously did this for my living room (see that post for more info.).

The Before Photo:
We subsequently replaced the tired rug, sold the console table, repainted, and cleaned
The end of the first day
The furniture was rearranged, and this is the new rug (based on people's comments, I moved the table closer towards the center of the room later on)
The console table is gone; the art is still the same
Another shot of the same thing; note the relatively small and dark art on the walls and the different objects on the table
A close-up of the old art
Notice the blue kitchen cabinets, which were subsequently painted white, and that I'm experimenting by trying different artwork on the walls
This was the photo that convinced me to change the railing (behind the table / in the background) to a half-wall - it's just a lot of bars to have in one room given the obligatory baby-gate to the kitchen (in the foreground)
The baby that changed everything
It got messy
Once we repainted the walls a calmer blue-gray color, the autumn colors outside really popped
Notice the white kitchen cabinets, and the kitchen walls were repainted gray (before they were a buttery color)
Obligatory cute kids photo
The after photo!
The after photo, zoomed out so you can see the half-wall
A close-up of the items on our table
Another photo of the half-wall
A significantly zoomed out shot
A close-up of the new artwork

"Day" 1
  • Pick a room: I chose our dining room.
  • List all of the decorative items in the room: I had several photographs on the walls and also several smaller framed photographs on the desk (photos of horses, rams, reindeer, and an owl), as well as a cat postcard, and a green placemat that was serving as a small table runner.
  • Of the above items, which do not seem to fit in: The ram photograph and the black horses photograph didn't seem to fit in the most (they didn't convey the airy, spacious feeling I was going for).

"Day" 2
  • What categories* of decorative items are there too many of: I had way too many realistic photographs - I needed more variety in my artwork.
  • Remove a few of those: Okay, so I removed all of the photos. Maybe I went overboard?
  • Look around the house for some items with more variety to add to the room: I added sculptural items via the Korean wedding ducks, and I added a tray (at first I added the colorful circles tray, but later I swapped that out for a wooden turkey-shaped board). I tried adding a candle too but my toddler promptly destroyed it by trying to eat it.
*Categories could be: pillows, textiles, photos, prints, trays, vases, bowls, etc.

"Day" 3
  • What items can be removed because they are not beautiful, useful, or meaningful: I feel like this is sort of a repeat/reincarnation of Day 2, but in addition to the photos I removed on Day 2, I removed the "desk" (or was it a buffet table, a sofa table, or a console table? whatever it was, it now lives happily in someone else's home), and I removed the extra chair. I also added a faux cowhide storage ottoman because the room lacked upholstered pieces.

"Day" 4
  • Instead of buying things, create a "wish list" of items you would like to add to the room and gradually add those items over the next few months: I wanted a new highchair for the kiddo, a pony wall (also called a knee wall) instead of the metal railing, and to repaint the room - these last two things actually happened! I replaced the rug because it was old and stained, but I did that before I got to the Day 4 step.

"Day" 5
  • Write down the colors in the room currently: The room had light brown, white/ivory, and blue-green.
  • Choose a fresh accent color to add to the room and add it in at least three places: I chose maraschino cherry and added it in the framed print on the wall and the tablecloth - I guess the bill on one of the ducks is also red so that's three!
  • Remove a color (optional): I removed some of the brown (thanks to the artwork swap) and I also removed all of the blue-green thanks to a new ivory rug and new steely-gray wall paint (the new wall paint harmonizes with the gray and dark blue in the adjacent living room).

  • There is a lot of overlap between Day 2 and Day 3, which are the steps when things are added and removed based on their decor category (Day 2) and their use/meaning/purpose/sentimentality (Day 3). Although things are also taken away and added on Day 5, at that point it's based on color and seems like a clearly separate idea.
  • I posted a midway photo of the room to people and their main suggestions were: the art is too small (agreed), lower and center the chandelier, add a table cloth (done), and change the upholstery fabric on the dining chairs. Lowering/centering the chandelier sounds like a simple thing, but it's not - first we'd have to remove links from its chain to do it right, and second, it is impossible to actually center the chandelier over the table (because the table would then be too close to the kitchen), which I feel is less noticeable if the chandelier is way up high. However, I did move the table so that the chandelier is closer to being centered than it was. I would still like to change the upholstery on the chairs someday (if we still have them), but it's not a priority for me.
  • I'm most happy with the change in paint color (it feels so fresh and sophisticated now), the half-wall, and moving the ottoman here (which frees up a lot of space in our master bedroom). The half-wall was a game-changer because it's better at holding up our baby gate (which is on the other side of it), it's a nice place to put things temporarily, and nothing "falls downstairs" under the railing anymore.

Note: Because I lost my paper files thanks to a rambunctious cat and a spilled Brita pitcher, I can't quite remember everything that happened.

I made an infographic because everyone loves infographics!

The existing table and chairs are from CraigsList. The existing chandelier is from Lowes. The new tablecloth is from Home Goods. The turkey cutting board is from Etsy. The Korean wedding ducks were a gift. The curtains are from JCPenney. The new rug is from World Market, although the fibers aren't strong so I wouldn't recommend it. The new art print and frame are from ArtCrate. The ottoman is from Overstock.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My (new) New Year's Resolutions

Here are my 2016 New Year's Resolutions:

  1. Play with my kids - easier said than done when things like cleaning, cooking, errands, etc. get in the way
  2. Go to the beach this summer - go at least once
  3. Do more yoga and/or take a yoga class at the new gym near my office
  4. Finally organize my paper files

And here is how it's going so far:

  1. Is it weird that I find it difficult to enjoy playing with my kids when their toys are not organized?
  2. Maybe I should preemptively book a hotel room?
  3. I should probably figure out how much those classes cost right?
  4. I filed 2.5 of the 3 boxes of paper files I needed to go through - hooray!

Image Credit for the paper blower above: Free clip art from Nexusmods.com

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Cross Stitch Dala Horse Pattern

Every time I try to use an off-the-shelf pattern, I find things that I'd like to change, and I start to tinker with the pattern. Call me a perfectionist. I look for inspiration from not just cross stitch patterns, but also real-life photos. That is what happened here, leading to the creation of my own original Dala Horse pattern. I think this design works for anyone who has a playful side, not just the Swedish.

DMC colors used:
Green - 910
White - BLANC
Red - 817
Yellow - 726
Blue - 995

Fabric: White 14-count Aida cloth

Finished size: Slightly smaller than 4 x 4 inches

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Couple of Birds Sitting on a Branch (Cross Stitch)

This is a pair of birds perching on a branch with three red berries. Note that the beaks are each made with two half-stitches. Be sure to "catch" your longer diagonal stitch with your shorter stitch (the one that goes into the middle of a square) or else your beak won't look tight and crisp (it will look rounded / bulbous). There is also one half-stitch randomly towards the mid-bottom of the left bird.

DMC colors used:
Dark red for berries – To be added later
Light red for berries – To be added later
Dark gray for beaks – To be added later
Blue – To be added later
Brown for branch – To be added later

Fabric used: 14-count white Aida

Small Plane in Cross Stitch

DMC colors used:
Dull purple – 3041 is similar
White (for highlights in the cockpit) – BLANC
Red – 304
Yellow – 972

Fabric used: 14-count white Aida cloth

The finished size for my Christmas ornament was 3.25 inches square.