Wednesday, June 26, 2013

hormones to harmony.

Sometimes I wish for weird things. Like, I wish I had certain random days of my life on video so I could go back and watch them. Not the big days, necessarily; more like, you know, a random Thursday when I was fourteen. Or the start of second semester of junior year of college. Just so I could see my past self from my current vantage point, with the perspective only time can offer. Also? I think it'd be cool to see, when I die, collections of The Things That Were Cathy. Like a pile representing all the apples I've ever eaten. Or the t-shirts I've owned, or the books I've read. AND, I'd love to see a reel of moments in my life that were near-death experiences, especially the ones I didn't realize had happened.

Right, so I wish for weird things. Today, though, my primary wish is to be able to erase the last week or so. It's not that anything tragic happened. In fact, parts of it were absolutely wonderful. My oldest sister and her two adorable kids were in town to help celebrate my dad's retirement, and I love love loved being able to spend time with my whole family. I don't want to erase those memories. Buuut on the flipside, I had two of my top ten Most Stressful Work Days ever; I overextended myself physically and emotionally; I hit wall after wall; and I succumbed to some major meltdowns that were a direct result of exhaustion, stress, and hormones.

For some reason, it was easier to come to terms with my limitations during my first trimester. Maybe it's because I felt sick, so it made more sense to treat myself as if I were ill? It also just felt so out of my control - I had no choice but to take that nap or eat that one special food that sounded good. My second trimester, in contrast, has been a breeze physically. Other than intermittently pulling muscles because I dare to perform such feats as, say, rolling over in bed, I've felt awesome - tons of energy, minimal aches and pains, still doing most of my normal summertime activities: evening walks, swimming, bike riding, the occasional jog, etc. And while mah belly has definitely grown, it hasn't been ballooning out week by week the way it felt like it was for a while there.

23 weeks, 2 days

24 weeks, 2 days
25 weeks, 2 days

So the second trimester almost became a subconscious challenge of making myself perform as my normal, non-pregnant self would. Results? FAIL. Noooot a good idea.

First, I had a (minor) scare with a perceived decrease in the baby's movements. To start, I haven't been monitoring them as closely as I'm supposed to. Apparently, you're supposed to lay still for an hour twice a day (YEAH RIGHT) and count the baby's kicks, charting them meticulously to watch for "significant decreases." There are accounts all over the interwebz of noticing a decreasing trend and consequently saving an endangered baby's life, but I've been walking a fine line between over-the-top compulsions (doing kick counts seventeen times a day) and total laissez-faire (ignoring any patterns of movement). I think I've struck a good balance - I'm familiar with her more active times, I know how what gets her moving, and I've done kick counts here and there to get a sense of what her typical patterns are. But then, for an entire evening, night, and morning last week, I barely felt her move at all. It freaked me out enough to finally email my OB for her thoughts on whether I should get checked out. She urged me to go to triage anytime I was really scared about a decrease in movement, but also to try finding a quiet space for a little while and drinking some cold juice. It was the third day of summer camp, and "finding a quiet space for a little while" seemed nearly impossible, but so was the thought of heading to the hospital for monitoring. I made myself take a break with a cold drink. That did the trick right away - and I admit I did feel comforted knowing that pregnant women get checked out in triage all the time, and that the people in triage wouldn't (outwardly) judge me if I went in to be monitored for a half hour or so, just for peace of mind.

The rest of the week had ups and downs; in short, work was a roller coaster, and I didn't go home directly after work at all last week. Like I said, I had family in town and was doing fun things with them - dinners and photo shoots and swimming and hanging out - but the combo of stressful work days, a sharp increase in physical activity, busy evenings, and less sleep than usual caught up with me. I (regretfully) canceled our plans to go biking with friends on Saturday night and rested instead. Well, I also spent a couple hours working with J.J. to turn this:

...into what will be our changing table:

Hemnes dresser from Ikea

But even though I took it easy on Saturday, I was (a) frustrated with my limitations, and (b) more hormonal than I realized. I spent most of Sunday afternoon and evening dealing with uncontrollable crying jags. The realization that my third trimester is approaching next week, and that we still haven't done some key tasks - such as finding out how maternity leave works for me - hit me full-force, and I just. Felt. Completely. Overwhelmed. Poor J.J. got caught in the crossfire of my hormonal outburst(s), and I couldn't even pull myself together to issue an apology until the next day.

Speaking of the next day - this past Monday - I had my monthly check-up with my OB, and she ended up ordering an ultrasound to check on the status of my placenta and the umbilical cord. I have what's considered a "normal variance" of the placenta - it's bilobed and wraps around the front and sides of my uterus. We found this out during the 18-week ultrasound, and the doctor explained that the only concerns in my particular situation are making sure the umbilical cord implanted in a nutrient-rich portion of the placenta (which, given the fetal growth rate, it clearly has), and ensuring during delivery that all parts of the placenta come out (which is easy to determine via ultrasound). That doc actually said we didn't even need to do a follow-up ultrasound, as long as the fetal growth rate remained steady - which it has  - but my OB suggested another one anyway. Half of me was thrilled at the prospect of glimpsing my baby girl again, and the other half was terrified (shocker, I know) that she was concerned about something (thus ordering the u/s), and that the ultrasound will show issues.

I went right from that appointment to the blood draw clinic at the hospital to do my glucose tolerance test, and I called J.J. to make sure he'd be able to come to the ultrasound in two weeks. Since he works at the hospital, he offered to come meet me in Fetal Diagnostics (where I had gone to schedule the ultrasound), and I'm so glad he did. I was finally able to apologize for All The Crazy I threw his way the day before, which he of course insisted was partially justified and no big deal. And then he just held me for a little while so I could collect myself. 

It was exactly what I needed. My mood turned around, and I'm back to feeling more like myself (i.e., a relatively stable human being). I know there's still a lot of major things we need to take care of - and I'm not talking about finding cute curtains for the nursery, but things like finding the right childbirth class, birth plan, pediatrician, and health insurance options - but at least for now, it seems manageable. I'm no longer in a panicked state where I'm staring wild-eyed at the ceiling thinking, holy shit, what have I done? What did I get myself into? I know those moments will come back, especially in the postpartum days. However, if I learned anything from this weekend, it's that I can't control when those moments will come - but I also can't trust them. They're not the whole truth. They're part of the truth, because yeah, having a kid will be overwhelming at times and, as they say, will change everything. But the massive sense of drowning in my own mess of creating another life for which I am totally responsible - that will come and go, just like any other emotion. So for now, while it seems possible, why not focus on the positive feelings? The excitement, the wondering about what she'll be like and who she'll look like, the absolute alienesque experience of watching another human being move in my belly....Those positive feelings are part of my dream come true. Better to run with those instead.

And when I can't? Well, that's what partners are for. And friends. And Rice Krispie treats.

Monday, June 10, 2013

progress, nursery-style.

Saturday was one of those great weekend days when the stars aligned and stuff got DONE. Little, everyday stuff - laundry, making a delish breakfast, doing the dishes, picking up the house, dusting (ugh. worst.), sweeping - as well as bigger (or at least not as frequent) stuff: staining more fence pieces, reorganizing my closet, shaking out the bedroom rug, caulking and painting the crown moulding, painting the nursery closet ceiling and shelves. Yes, good times, feeling productive, etc. We even wrapped up our house chores that evening in time to head over to Cap'n Frosty, the site of our first date ever, which was 10 years ago this past Friday. Cray-zay.

So long for now, clothes that don't fit well these days. I
hope I see you again in...well, let's say this time next year?

Aaaand then there was Sunday. When the aisles were too crowded at Ikea and I wanted to shove Allen wrenches into eyeballs. When the lawn mower broke (again). When the screws were too long for the new vent covers. When I found out they discontinued my face sunscreen - the one kind I've found that I'm not wildly allergic to. When I ran out of caulk. When three different stores didn't have any Orange-Glo to help fix up the nursery floors. I know, I know, big sad first-world problems, but nothing like a counterproductive Sunday (which seems to be a pattern) to take the wind out of Saturday's sails. At least I unlocked the next Candy Crush episode.

And I didn't poke out any eyeballs. Or meatballs. Also bought
the dresser we'll use as a changing table. Small victories?

Sunday's anti-progress aside, the nursery is definitely coming along. The crown moulding is 100% finished, and it's amazing what a little a crapload of caulk and paint can do.

Not sure why the walls look beige here. Trust
me, they're not. Lavender, maybe. Beige, no.

Anytime you do crown moulding, you're going to have to go back with caulk and paint to make it look more seamless. That goes double for an older house like ours, where the ceilings and walls are no longer flat and at perfect angles with one another. In this room, the moulding seemed to pull away from the ceiling more than from the wall, so I went around and caulked the entire top edge. There were a couple places along the bottom of the moulding where I needed to caulk bigger gaps, but the bottom was, thankfully, mostly flush with the wall. 

I never actually use painter's tape when I'm painting, but it's the bomb when I'm caulking.

I went little by little around the room, taping off portions of the ceiling, caulking the edge of the moulding, and running my finger along the caulk line to smooth it out. I kept a wet washcloth nearby to wipe off the caulk off my fingers (make that double entendre a double, please, sir). I also filled in the nail holes with caulk as I went, and I removed the Frog Tape as quickly as possible - partly to preserve the straight line before the caulk started to dry, and partly because whatever the previous owners used to paint the ceiling suuucks, and it started peeling off in a couple places when I left the Frog Tape on too long. Not Frog Tape's fault - previous owners' fault.

Partially caulked

Once the caulk was dry, I did a quick sweep with a Magic Eraser around the room to clean up some of the major smudges and scrapes that J.J. and his dad left behind during the battle for the crown. Thankfully, they all wiped off easily. Then I did an easy coat of off-the-shelf, no-VOC, semi-gloss white paint on all the crown moulding, and?

Ahhh. Looking much better. You know, minus the random piles of painting tools and such. Oh, and in the small-changes-big-impact department, we changed out all the old, crusty, black outlets with new, white, child-safe outlets (and a new white light switch to boot, replacing the paint-encrusted old one). You can see one of the new outlets in the picture above. 

Again: Ahhh. So fresh and so clean-clean. Need a "before" for comparison? Yeah, me, too.

This is, like, before-before.

All in all, looking better. And although Sunday was anti-progress, there are a few things on the way to make this room just a tad bit more nursery-like - namely, a rug and a crib! The changing table (a.k.a. the dresser from Ikea) is waiting patiently downstairs for me to finish the last coat of ceiling/shelf paint in the closet, after which I can give the floors a thorough scrubbing, after which I can start assembling said changing table.

So the modified, short-term Nursery To-Do List is looking like this:

  • One more coat of white paint on the closet ceiling and shelves
  • Test a swatch of Benjamin Moore's Jamaican Aqua against the rug, when it comes
  • Scrub those floors! And continue praying fervently that the mold splotches aren't toxic
  • Find shorter screws and attach the return vent & heating vent covers
  • Assemble dresser and crib
  • Find light fixture, glider, and organic crib mattress
  • Start designing the closet interior to magically include bookshelves, toy bins, a clothing rod, storage, and a hamper?
A final note to the peanut gallery: Dude. Don't scoff at the lists. Lists are keeping me sane right now. You should see my work to-do lists, considering camp starts a week from today. They're sub-divided into such fun categories as Center Licensing, Camp Licensing, New Center Staff, New Camp Staff, Exiting Staff, Current Staff, Today, Tomorrow, This Week, What to Move to Camp (because it's off-site, just for funsies), Camp Binders, Counselor Orientations, Junior Counselor Orientation, Family Orientation...yeah. And somehow it'll all get done. At the very least, the air conditioning works this year, and it's not supposed to be 100 degrees quite yet...I'll take it.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

battle for the crown.

Quick nursery update - but quick for real, because even though I haven't posted in a couple weeks, I have to be at work at 6:30 tomorrow. That's A.M., folks.

Luckily, this weekend was pretty chill. In fact, I spent today outside weeding, since it was so nice: overcast and in the 60s. Perfect for weeding! And it got me out of the house, so I was spared from hearing the grunts, scrapes, and thuds coming from the baby's future room. Yep, today was crown moulding installation day...woo!

I alllmost had a last-minute change of heart with the crown moulding. Not whether to install it, but what size to use. When I looked at Lowe's, they only had one width available in the least-gaudy design - 3 5/8". I assumed that was standard (after a quick consultation with my favorite contractor, Mr. Internet) and picked up the five pieces I needed.

From here - although mine was NOT $17.99/piece! More like $10 each.

But when I got home and had J.J. hold up a piece to the ceiling in the nursery, my heart sank. It looked huge - really wide. We have pretty low ceilings (only 7.5' high!), and at nearly four inches, these were taking up some precious visual real estate. But I figured, hey, if it's standard, it's standard. (See how my anal retention can retreat when I'm not faced with choices?) With that, I set up shop in the garage and painted each pre-primed piece with off-the-shelf Olympic semi-gloss white paint (zero VOC, score!).

We had to wait until today for J.J.'s dad to come over and help with the crown installation, so in the meantime, J.J. installed shoe moulding around the perimeter of the room. It's been a few months since he's done shoe moulding, and although a couple pieces initially came out like this:

...he was able to re-nail the mistakes, leaving it more like this:

I spent an evening after work last week caulking and touching up all the base and shoe moulding. Major tip: Do a coat of paint on the shoe moulding before you install it! That way, you only have to touch up where the nail holes are. I caulked the edge where the shoe and base mouldings met, and I did a quick coat of trim paint around the entire room to ensure the base moulding was about the same shade as the shoe. And, pregnancy benefit: My belly got in the way of me getting the exact paintbrush angles enough times that I kinda shrugged and thought, well, screw perfection - I'm just getting this done the best I can. Anyway, no one notices slightly wavy paint lines where the moulding meets the wall other than me. So, win-win.

But back to the crown moulding. I swung by Home Depot last weekend (Tip #2: Do not go to Home Depot on Memorial Day, a.k.a. National Home Project Day, when you're hormonal, hungry, and have huge questions about a project) to pick up stain for the fence we'll be building this summer, and who did I see whilst there?

From here

Thaaat's right. Same design, but an inch narrower. AKA, exactly what I had wished for when I saw how wide the 3 5/8" pieces looked. Crap. I bought one piece to test against the wider option and brought them home.

I wish I had pictures to share, but as it was, the shots I snapped of J.J. holding both the wider and narrower moulding options against the ceiling featured him prominently - in his under-grundies. Wonk-wonk, breech of privacy, NSFW, etc. I tried cropping them, but you miss the full effect without the ceiling-to-floor view. But trust me when I tell you that the pictures made our choice clear: Wider was the way to go. The narrower version didn't look hefty enough; it was practically overshadowed by our nothing-to-write-home-about base moulding. It was something of a relief to settle on the wider moulding, considering I'd already painted all of those pieces and had little to no desire to venture back out to Home Depot for more of the narrower moulding...and then paint all of them. Ugh.

So after about eight hours today of battle (by J.J. and his dad) with the crown moulding pieces, tediously shaving each edge to make the correct angles, the room is lookin' good.

Or - well, okay, it's actually looking a little rough.

They have one more piece to install (the annoying piece over the door, where there are crazy angles because the door is actually on a separate fifth wall of the room). They'll do that tomorrow evening, and once they're finished, I'll go back over with caulk and paint. There are some other battle wounds I need to attend to as well - namely, scrapes on the walls, ceilings, and floor, all of which I'm biting my tongue about. After all, it sucks to install crown moulding, and I'm totally jazzed that (a) it's done, (b) it looks good, and (c) I didn't have to do it. Hopefully the scrapes aren't anything a little Magic Eraser (or, in the floor's case, Orange-Glo) can't fix.

And if the floor is irreparable? Well, it'll be mostly covered, since believe it or not, I made a rug purchase.

From Shades of Light, with a 10% off coupon

I'm kind of surprised I pulled the trigger on this, since area rugs seem to be a sticking point for me. We're still missing sorely-needed rugs in the front room, under the couches in the family room, and under the kitchen table (also in the family room). I struggle with size, shape, color, pattern...everything. I've ordered and returned probably five rugs for the family room. In four years. With no final winner-winner-chicken-dinner. It's a problem. Crossing my fingers that this one works out!

All of this means we're making progress on the Nursery To-Do List:

  • Sell rug, glider chair and ottoman, keyboard, record player and receiver, desk chair, dresser, and bookcase (and, while I'm at it, the microwave, the toaster oven, the television, and the sink/faucet) DONE
  • Organize the books, binders, and boxes; find new homes for remaining items
  • Find nursery inspiration pictures DONE
  • Choose a paint color DONE
  • Figure out who's going to paint DONE
  • Figure out how to fix the ceiling goofs from four  years ago DONE (crown)
  • Remove the hanger bar and bifold door from the closet DONE
  • Prep to prime: sand, scrape, caulk and spackle the window trim and the closet interior; remove outlet covers and heating vent covers DONE
  • Prime and test paint possibilities DONE
  • Paint the walls (not including closet yet) DONE
  • Buy crown and shoe moulding (J.J. does install...sorry, love) DONE
  • Paint moulding and window/door trim DONE
  • Find color for closet interior DONE (Benjamin Moore's Jamaican Aqua)
  • Paint closet interior
  • Replace beige and/or painted-over outlets and light switch with new white ones
  • Replace ceiling light
  • Choose, order, and assemble crib, changing table, and glider
  • Choose and order a rug DONE (hopefully)
  • Install clothing rods and shelves in the closet
  • Find fabric for crib skirt and curtains, including curtain for the closet
  • Enlist someone else to make the crib skirt and curtains
  • Hang curtains
  • Buy/make art for walls
  • Birthe baby who can utilize the finished room

My other task today was maternity clothes shopping. To be honest, I think I'd rather shave crown moulding edges. I'll wax poetic about how stupid maternity clothes are another day, but I better find something soon, because these girls - meaning me and the babe - are growww-ing:

21 weeks, 3 days

22 weeks, 3 days

And for the record, so much for a quick post. (An hour later...) Ah, well.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...