Friday, January 30, 2015

where to wipe your nose in my house: a visual guide for toddlers.

{Guest post by Rowan B.}

Snot happens, right? And where to wipe is an awkward guessing game that can ruin even the best play date. Well, banish your worries now. Should your snot-runs coincide with a visit to my house, please be assured that I have spent many of my sixteen months of life subjecting various household surfaces to empirical testing. I've deemed only a few worthy of wiping, which I present below for reference.

a visual guide for toddlers

Microfiber couch, family room
Does not clean off well, making it easier to find
your preferred spot the next time you need to wipe.

Large dog, play room
Mama still doesn't believe she can put this huge stuffed doggie in the laundry,
which just makes it more fun, you know? (P.S. Mama: The dog is more washing-
machine-friendly than your Kindle, and yet...you washed that? SMH.) 

Toilet paper roll, downstairs bathroom
Please note that you should wipe directly on the roll of
toilet paper, not remove a piece and then blow your nose.

Stainless steel oven, kitchen
There is a dish towel hanging on the oven handle. THIS IS NOT A
TISSUE. Your target is the quite-stained stainless steel oven surface.

Broom bristles, kitchen pantry
Yes, the broom BRISTLES.

Mama's pillow, Mama & Dada's room
Ahhhhh. Right?!

Plastic crib rail guard, nursery
If your runny nose is due to teething, please also feel free to fling the
rail guard across the room and gnaw on the wooden crib rail.
See where I started a chunk for you? Seriously, it helps.

Full-length mirror, guest bedroom
This one is best utilized when Mama is pumping right behind
you, but can't quiiiite reach you to stop you from wiping.

Green rug, guest bedroom
Underneath those white paper-y toys is a plush green wiping surface.
It's from Ikea, so I think it's how Swedish kids wipe their noses.

There you have it! I hope you find this guide useful during your next visit. Have a great weekend!
- Rowan

Thursday, January 29, 2015

nursery artwork.

Picking out artwork for Rowan's nursery was such a strange experience. It was definitely one of my favorite parts of that room makeover, but it was also difficult to choose art for someone I'd never met. I mean, obviously, the whole room was decorated to suit my tastes (...and J.J.'s, I guess? Sure, why not), but I very much wanted to find some art that represented what I want her early years to encompass: fun, color, light, and cheer.

To start, I took a look around the room to figure out where I wanted to place any art pieces I found. There were three wall spaces in the nursery that stood out to me: the walls above her crib, the wall above her bookshelves, and the wall between the window and closet.

For the walls above the crib, I had a vision of three or four pieces in white frames, all different but hopefully tied together somehow - by color or theme or artist; I wasn't sure. I spent a lot of preggo evenings scouring Etsy (I searched "nursery art" and "baby girl nursery") for some cute, affordable artwork. Eventually, I stumbled on my three favorites:

(from here)

(from here)

(from here)

How did I choose these three? Well, as for the watercolor quote, "Dear Prudence" is one of my favorite Beatles songs. This quote + the colors = perfection. I still sing this little snippet to Rowan most nights before she goes to sleep. As for the watercolor hippo and the geometric balloons, I just loved the looks of them - and the way all three seemed to compliment each other and coordinate with the nursery colors (gray and aqua). Each was also a reasonable price ($15 for the first two, $25 for the balloon print) and fit perfectly in Ikea RIBBA frames. Actually - being just a wee bit neurotic, I removed the glass insert from each frame and hung them with both nails and Command strips...and measured to make sure she can't reach them at all. I was nervous about hanging such large and heavy frames over her crib, but trust me, they're not moving an inch.

Moving on to the wall above the rain-gutter bookshelves that we made - we actually got really lucky here. Originally, I didn't plan on doing anything with this wall, not even the bookshelves. 

It's a small space, and the door of the room opens up on it, so I'd never paid much attention to it. But when I saw rain-gutter bookshelves on Pinterest, I loved them and knew they'd work well in that dead space. That left a big blank yawn over them, though. I had no clue what to put there, since I wasn't even planning on spending the money that we did on the three Etsy pieces, so I put off figuring out a solution.

Procrastination for the win! In early September (a couple weeks before Rowan was born), my lovely coworkers threw a baby shower for us, and we received one of my all-time favorite presents:

Four of the teachers from my work (all of whom are friends who worked with both J.J. and me) made this amazing, 3-D elephant canvas. I don't actually have details on how they did it, but I do know they used papier-mache and that their students (four- and five-year-olds) helped. The canvas had actually warped from all the moisture of the papier-mache, but I used Command strips on each corner to hang it, and that easily fixed the warping issue. Rowan loves finding all the birds and telling me what the elephants say. And, of course, the fact that our friends created this makes it that much sweeter.

As for the final space, I wavered. I had three small-ish floating shelves from Target that I thought would be cute for displaying a few things that I wanted to keep of Baby's reach, but I had to choose: the wall between the window and the closet, or the space on the other side of the window, above our reading corner. I decided the shelves looked better - more balanced as a group - between the window and the closet. After an easy installation, I filled them up - namely, with two picture frames from HomeGoods, where I planned to insert the latest and greatest pictures of my sweet girl as she grew. Well?

So much for an ever-changing rotation of adorable baby pictures. One frame is still empty, and the other holds one of Rowan's newborn pics. Eh, whatever. The frames are kept company by a humidity sensor, a tiny duck that Gramma brought to the hospital when Rowan was born, and a white bunny that J.J. and I bought on our last vacation before Rowan came. Oh, and there's the little green "Party" block (also a gift). Someday someone will put up-to-date photos in those nice frames, which were CLEARLY custom-designed, magically, for this nursery's color scheme.

There's one more wall decoration that I hadn't planned on, but ended up absolutely loving. Another friend/co-worker (hi, Lynnie!) was kind enough to find these cute wooden letter blocks just for Rowan at a local shop:

I hadn't realized before Rowan was born how much I would love having her name hanging in the room. The blocks ended up being the final touch I didn't know we needed to make the room really hers

The funny thing is, now that I know her, I think the art we chose is perfect - but I think the color scheme of the room is off. The gray walls are fine, but she's just much more of a pink person. I don't mean it terms of color preference - she doesn't seem to have a favorite - but just in terms of the vibe I get from her. But! While the colors might not be totally in line with her personality, the artwork definitely is. Full of fun, color, light, and cheer. Just as I'd hoped.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

nursery reveal (+16 months).

We've made a ton of changes in this house since moving in almost six years ago. Some of the changes were due to security issues (windows, garage door, locks), and some were due to the age of the house (plumbing and electrical updates), but most have been just us trying to make this house fit our style and our needs. The kitchen was definitely the biggest, longest, and most dramatic makeover (and finding that link makes me realize that I never did an official "after" post for the kitchen...time to get on that), but the only other room that's had such a complete redo is Rowan's nursery. What all did we change? Well, pretty much everything except the floor! We:
  • Painted the walls (they were beige when we moved in, then we painted them McDonald's yellow, now they're gray)
  • Added crown and shoe moulding
  • Replaced the closet door with a curtain
  • Painted the closet interior and added storage in the closet
  • Got new windows and added window treatments
  • Updated outlets, light switches, and vent covers (from beige to white ones)
  • Painted the door and added decorative moulding
  • Replaced the ceiling light
  • Added furniture, a rug, lighting, artwork, and shelving
I shared our progress on the nursery redo here, here, here, and here, but I never did an actual reveal of the final product - mostly because it wasn't completely finished when Rowan was born. And other than diaper and clothing changes, she didn't really use it for a few months, considering she slept in our room at first (using the term "slept" loosely here, friends). But now it's definitely her room - and we all love it. So here we go: Rowan's room, before and after! (Sorry about the lighting...Michigan in January + limited photography skills, you know?)

Rowan's bedroom is the smallest of our three (it's about 10' x 11'), so we've put every inch to use. This is our cuddling and reading corner, with a floor lamp behind the glider, favorite books stacked all over the nightstand, and heavy books (our parenting books - not her books) stashed in the ottoman. You can also see the current window treatments - Roman shades that J.J.'s mom made, complete with blackout liners.

Moving around the room clockwise...

Our Ikea HEMNES dresser (with different knobs from an Etsy shop) almost eliminates the need for storing clothes in the closet - it's that big. Even though baby clothes take up WAY more time and energy than I ever imagined (buying, sorting, returning, exchanging, washing, and updating with each season/growth spurt), I'm happy to say that, thanks to this dresser, they don't take up more space than we have. We keep all sorts of stuff organized in here: burp cloths, hair ties, diapers, grooming items, socks, tights, jammies, onesies, shirts, sweaters, pants, skirts, and overalls. I even have room to keep some of the next-size clothes in a bottom drawer. We have our diaper pail to the left of the dresser, the hamper to the right, and her wipes, white-noise fan, and a dim lamp on top.

Moving again to the right...

The closet is actually such a speshul snowflake that it's going to get its own post, but you can see that we removed the door and replaced it with a curtain, built rain gutter bookshelves, hung a canvas made by friends, and painted the door to the room (and added decorative moulding to it...the door will also get its own post soon, lucky bastard).

And finally, the last side of the room...

Rowan deemed her crib (from Wal-Mart - the only thing I've ever bought there) worthy to sleep in when she was - god, I can't even remember. Five months? But not full-time until she was eight months or something? Not sure why she was so against it, considering how much I love it. Modern, streamlined, and has a storage drawer underneath, where we stash extra sheets, blankets, and sleep sacks. Two bummers about the crib: the drawer front scuffs really easily (maybe we'll paint it for Distant-Future Baby #2? It looks pretty bad as is), and the rails are especially tasty. We had to protect the rails on all four sides with hard plastic covers after Rowan spent some post-nap awake time gnawing a chunk out of the wood. We (...meaning J.J.'s very talented and patient mother) tried to make fabric rail covers, but they were too distracting for Her Highness, who thought they were new toys brought in solely to entertain her. She'd play with the ties and snaps until the rail was exposed and then get chewin'. As for the pictures on the walls - they're from Etsy, but, like the closet and the door, more on those in another post.

Oh! Almost forgot the other "wall" in the room:

That's the HYBY ceiling lamp from Ikea, replacing the actual, for-real PORCH LIGHT that the previous owners had installed in all three bedrooms. #fancyalert

All in all, Rowan's nursery meets all of her and our needs. In a perfect world, it would be a little bigger - the dresser takes up a lot of space, and the glider bangs against the wall if you stand up from it too quickly - but it's a calm, quiet room, and I'm pretty happy with how it looks now compared to before. That said, the truth is that I'm already mentally redecorating both the nursery and the guest room for if/when another bambino comes along! (Not for a quite a few moons, I guarantee you.) (Seriously.)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

at sixteen months.

Oh, remember how I was going to meticulously document everything about my baby? All those weekly pictures next to her teddy bear, all the milestones, all her personality quirks? So maybe I'm sixteen months late to THAT game, but, hey, good intentions, yadda yadda.

Rowan turns sixteen months old on Sunday, and J.J. and I realized last night that it's high time we start calling her "almost one and a half" instead of "sixteen months." I GET IT, though. When they're this young, there is a huge difference between certain months! In fact, when she was a newborn, I was tempted to refer to her in half-weeks ("two and a half weeks"), because the newborn time warp made me think that Random Granny on the Street would judge her for being too small/too big/too hairy/too sleepy/too hungry for a three-week-old...but if she's only two and a HALF weeks? Oh. WELL, then. Understood.

...Right. Anyway. I'd like to take a minute (...just sit right there...) to write down what makes Rowan Rowan right now, at sixteen months. (Or fifteen and four-fifths months.) 

The things I don't want to forget about her:

:: Her language development. Seriously, I don't know if it's my early childhood background or just a normal parent thing, but I am obsessed with watching her language develop. She just had her first "language explosion," and out of it came so much cuteness: cheering for herself ("Yayyy, Ro-Ro!"), the way she responds in the affirmative with a drawn-out "Yeahhh," and spontaneously thanking us at appropriate times. I tried to get some "TANK you, maMA!" on video:

:: I make her go backwards down our stairs since they're hardwood. She gets so excited about doing this that she executes her turnaround allll the way at the other end of the hallway, slithers backwards down the hall on her belly to the staircase, and then starts her descent.

:: She's obsessed with this stuffed elf we had out at Christmastime - so much so that we couldn't pack him away with the rest of the decorations. Inexplicably, she named him "Hi," and she uses a different voice for him - her high-pitched "pretend" voice. She makes Hi build with blocks, color with crayons, and play with the finger-paint-Ziploc-bags on the window. Most of all, Hi loves to knock down people's block towers. Gramma theorizes that he represents Rowan's naughty side.

:: Anytime she find a bucket with a handle, she packs it with treasures, picks it up, and waves bye-bye to us.

:: When she does something mildly naughty or mischievous, I always shake my head and say, "Girrrl!" The other day, I heard her in the back seat of the car saying, "Girrrl!" Sure enough, I turned around and saw her taking off her shoes and socks (which I try to discourage in the car). Now every time she takes her socks off, she says, "Girrrl!" - and she says it to one of her books that has a picture of a girl taking her socks off. This video isn't her best "Girrrl," but you get the gist:

:: As soon as our car enters Gramma's neighborhood, she starts yelling, "Gra! Gra!" (And then she meows and says "Baby!", because Gramma has a kitty-cat and some baby dolls at her house.)

:: She continues to loooove baby dolls, especially pretending to put them to sleep. She wants you to do the whole routine that we do with her at night-night time: ziiiiip up the sleep sack, give Baby a paci and Bunny, and pick Baby up to rock her and sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

:: Anytime she sees something and decides she likes it, she wants to give it a hug ("Ug"). All the trees on our walks, all the bouncing balls at the museum, all the hats on strangers' heads. We ug what we can, and we are sad for the things we cannot ug.

:: She's still loving the song "Home," and she sings along to parts of it. She also sings - and dances - along to "Can't Hold Us" by Macklemore and "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift.

:: Every evening between dinner and bath time, she has her cuckoo time, where she runs around screeching, spinning in circles ("Dizzy! Dizzy!"), and flopping herself down on pillows. I think she's getting out that last burst of energy before bed, and it's hilarious to watch:

:: When she's in a shopping cart, she loves waving to everyone who passes and saying "HI" really loudly, which usually surprises the other shoppers.

:: She does some spot-on sound effects, but my favorites are her meow and the way she says wah wah wah to represent somebody crying.

:: A true Ann Arbor native, she points out the letter M everywhere we go. For now, all letters are Ms to her, but I still think it's cool that she can discern letters from other markings. Humans are crazy awesome, right?

:: Whenever she sees her little red sled hanging in the garage, she starts talking all about when we went sledding at Gramma's house ("Weeeee!") and had pizza afterwards.

:: I'd love to find some mama-baby yoga classes or YouTube videos and do them with Rowan - she loves trying poses out, especially Cobra (which she also makes Baby and Hi perform) and Downward Dog. Similarly, if she's laying down and you say, "Ready...PIKE!" she'll throw her legs up into a pretty perfect pike (diving) position - legs straight, toes pointed and resting on her forehead.

:: She's had both baby signs and spoken words for months now, but just this past week, she started doing a funny, incoherent babble, and sometimes she whisper-babbles...which comes out sounding just like the Black Smoke Monster from the TV show Lost. I keep trying to get it on video, but (apropros to the creepy factor) you can never really hear it on video.

:: You can hear her "I'm being mischievous" cackle on video, though:

Of course, there are a few things I'm not super fond of, sooo...here are the things I wouldn't mind forgetting about her (but that still make her her):

:: Nap struggles. If she does two naps, I'm the only one who can get her to sleep for them, and it involves a literal song-and-dance routine. If she does one nap, she goes down easily, but she wakes up too early (as evidenced by her extreme crankiness for the rest of the day).

:: Her perfectionist streak. If I only knew where it came from (ahem). Poor girl will spread out a blanket seven times, just trying to get it ready so she can lay her baby down on it, and then dissolve into tears because it's not perfectly straight. Gahhh.

:: Her toddler attitude. It just reared its ugly head in the last week, and manifests in temper tantrums, whininess, clinginess, and general grouchiness. She's so unlike her usual easygoing self that I'm chalking it up to either a growth spurt or her mild cold, since the thought of this being her personality from here on through the terrible twos and the motherf***ing threes is too much to bear.  It's bad enough that I found myself in the shower this morning composing a (not-real) email my pediatrician to ask if this level of sudden-onset demonic possession was developmentally appropriate, or cause for concern.

:: Her stranger anxiety is abating (yay!), excepting anyone who enters the exam room at the doctor's office. She's so terrified of those exam rooms that even if we enter a small office in an unfamiliar building, she starts getting worried. Poor kid. My sweet pediatrician was like, "Sooo, you can just email me if you have a concern that you don't want to bring her into the office for." Yeah.

There you have it...Rowan at sixteen months. Most definitely a toddler, which is why sometimes (SOMETIMES), I don't mind the maddening routine of rocking her to sleep for naps - she's still so baby-like, lying in my arms and clutching her Bunny as her eyes drift shut. She's my best girl, no doubt.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

turn the beat around.

God, I am just in a FUNK today. So is Rowan. Here are some things she has cried about today, specifically because she could not hug them: 

  1. The waffle that was still in the toaster.
  2. The ambulance siren at the children's museum. Not the ambulance, mind you, and woe be to the poor soul who dares think that hugging the ambulance itself would be sufficient.
  3. The street sweeper, while it was mid-street-sweep.
Her Highness is currently down for a nap, which will hopefully help her turn it around. I probably could use a nap, too, but instead I'm going the cognitive route and trying to think of all the things that are making me happy these days. Hey, it's been helpful before!

Hand-me-down clothes from Tea Collection. I love, love, love Tea Collection clothes for baby girls. I LOVE THEM. When I'm feeling feisty, I ogle their website...and maybe even add things to my online shopping cart. Sadly, that's just not where the cash flow needs to go these days. Luckily, I've discovered a few Tea pieces in the boxes of hand-me-down clothes I've gotten. Love the bright colors, love the unique styles (wrap dresses!), love the bold graphics. In short, gimme.

My Tea Collection shirt model, doing her Shia LaBeouf performance piece:
"emotional. pantsless. snacktime. {chair independent from table.}"

Doughnuts. Can I just say, I haven't even had a doughnut since the fall (AKA doughnut season). I was just thinking about them, and they made me happy. What's better than a socially acceptable way to eat cake for breakfast? And snack? And lunch? And always? Hey, doughnuts: You're good people.

Finding surprise money in the basement. I don't mean, like, finding random hundreds stuffed in the walls (though I'd be all OVER that). No, I'm talking about our Growing Pile of Doom, which I'm trying to tackle little by little. I started by pulling out a bunch of things that either needed to be returned (baby items, mostly) or sold on Craigslist. Score! I had duplicates of a few baby things and a couple sleep sacks that I never even opened, and I was able to return most of it to Buy Buy Baby. Ended up with $50 in store credit, which I turned right around and used on things we definitely needed. And you know I love getting rid of stuff via Craigslist, so I've been posting and selling whenever I can remember to check that random email that I use for Craigslist stuff.

Lemon water. The last time I was craving lemon water like this, it turned out I was pregnant. I assure you from the bottom of my uterus that I am not currently with child, but damn, I cannot get ENOUGH lemon water. Cold, hot, morning, night...doesn't matter: I just want water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice in it. It's always amazing.

White Cheddar Cheez-It Grooves. Look, I don't even like regular Cheez-Its, but these Cheez-It Grooves are specifically engineered to catch all the salt and cheese powder (no, guys, they're super healthy, hush). Like, maybe I'm going through a box every couple of days. Like, maybe J.J. is considering an intervention. Like, maybe if I saved my Cheez-It money, I could buy some Tea Collection clothes. LAY OFF ME THEY'RE DELICIOUS.

Being all done with pumping. It means breaking the reflex of heading straight to the breast pump whenever I have a free minute. It means gathering up all those pump supplies littered in every room in the house and storing them. It means deep cleaning the guest room (which was my primary pumping spot) and turning it back into a relaxing room. It means NO MORE PUMPING WOOOOOO!

Date night tonight! J.J.'s mom comes over one night a week to watch Rowan (much to Rowan's delight) so that J.J. and I can go on a date. We've had to get creative with low-cost date ideas, but we're not really high rollers anyway - we're happy chilling at the bookstore or playing a board game at the coffee shop, which is probably what we'll do tonight. 

That's all. Feeling better-ish. Going to top off my lemon water (my fingers may or may not permanently smell like Lemon Pledge, i.e., Saturday chores from childhood) and grab my box of Cheez-It Grooves and get happy. Happy hump day, yo.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

presenting the presents! (version J.J.0)

I harbor a fair amount of guilt over the fact that money is tight, considering it's...you know...my fault (having abandoned my job and all). Rowan's Christmas gifts were easy enough to handle this year, but my main squeeze was another story. Historically, I'm not the best gift-giver, so with such a limited budget, I was extra worried about what to get for J.J. this year.

Since Rowan has been born, though, she's provided endless opportunities for perfect DIY presents that make the receiver cry (that's the goal, right?). As far as I'm concerned, hand me a smudged print of a blurry picture of her, and I'm good. Thankfully, J.J. (and my mother-in-law!) are way more creative and thoughtful than that, so I've been on the receiving end of some sweet gifts in the last year or so - ceramic baby footprints, photo collages, a canvas painted by Rowan (when she was seven months old...a prodigy, obviously), and even a board book featuring a story about Rowan and Mama. So once Christmas was approaching, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration and found tons of great ideas - mostly involving canvases, Mod Podge, and craftiness way beyond my skill level (which is approximately Advanced Kindergartner, Not Including Scissor Work, Where Student Shows Significant Delays).

My favorite project, while calling for both a canvas AND Mod Podge, still looked doable and involved ripping paper instead of cutting. Screw you, subpar fine motor skills!

There are a million canvas quote tutorials on Pinterest, but this one (from www.six2eleven.net) caught my eye because of the colors. I loved the idea of the letters popping out against a white base - especially since I wasn't sure where we'd end up hanging the canvas (assuming it came out as display-able). As for the quote I went with? Well, J.J. and Rowan have a favorite song to dance to together - "Home," by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. Watch how Rowan's face lights up when she hears it:

Clearly, the quote I needed to use for this project was "home is wherever I'm with you." I hunted around on Pinterest a little more to check out different letter arrangements, sticker fonts, and color schemes, but in the end, I stuck with the tutorial in the link above.

Here are the materials I used:
- Blank canvas (had one already)
- Letter stickers (had some, but ended up buying another set from Michaels for contrast)
- Torn-up pictures from magazines
- White acrylic paint & a medium-sized paintbrush (had already)
- Spray adhesive (also from Michaels)
- Mod Podge (also from Michaels)

My friend Emily came over one afternoon so we could craft together (effectively snuffing out my self-concept of craft hater), and Rowan managed to take an extra-long nap so I could tackle the first step of the canvas - ripping up colorful magazine pages and gluing them to the canvas. In retrospect, I should have ripped up larger pieces - I made pieces that were, like, 1" x 1"; I think 3" x 3" would have been better. There was...a lot of spray adhesive involved. 

You would only need to let the glue dry for, say, an afternoon, but I didn't get a chance to paint for over a week - it was harder than I thought to find a time when J.J. wasn't home and Rowan was either not home or napping! In the meantime, I played around with letter arrangements and discovered that I liked the look of two contrasting fonts better than just one. The next chance I had, I stuck the letters on - not with any real planning or technique; just wherever they looked right. I wanted to include a picture of J.J. and Rowan, too. Well, actually, originally I wanted to use a picture of all three of us, but it turns out there aren't any great pictures out there of the whole family. There are tons of J.J. and Rowan, though, so I went with one of my favorites - which was also sufficiently in focus and close-up enough to work for the canvas.

(We don't usually carry her around outside in a straightjacket. She had woken up cranky
from a nap, so Dada was bouncing her around outside while she was still in her sleep sack.)

There are tons of ideas on Pinterest for transferring photos to canvas, and I hope to try them someday, but for this, I just cut the picture into the shape of a heart and glued it to the canvas. I covered it with a matching heart-shaped piece of paper before I started painting - the hope being that it would pop through the white paint the same way the letters would.

Finally, I painted the whole canvas with the white acrylic paint, let that dry for about ten minutes (with the aid of a hair dryer...I was in a rush to get it done before J.J. and Rowan came back from an adventure), and did one more coat, again using the hair dryer to speed up the process. The last step was removing the letter stickers, which (SURPRISE) turned out to be the suckiest part. Even though I had firmly attached the stickers, paint bled under most of the edges, which made them hard to remove - and not as sharp as I wanted them to be. Luckily, the paint that had bled was still wet, so I used a paper towel to clean up the edges a bit. They aren't perfect, which I actually prefer, but I didn't want them to be illegible, which some of them initially were (oops).

Final product, after doing two coats of Mod Podge a week later?

And Dada loved his Christmas present (whew).

We ended up hanging it in the kitchen, over what is now Rowan's little art corner. I just used a Command strip on each corner to hang it. I find the strips work really well with lightweight canvases, with the added bonus of helping to stop the canvas from warping, which sometimes happens when you use a lot of glue.

...Which reminds me - I need to do an update on how Rowan's art corner is coming along! Meanwhile, though, I'd love to do some more canvas projects like this one. Fun, easy, relatively little skill involved, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. And pretty thankful that there are great ideas for low-cost presents out there! Ah, Pinterest...the gift that keeps on giving.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

this is what it's come to.

Cathy, for a quarter of 2013, all of 2014, and the first week of 2015:
"Oh my godddd, I just want to be done pumping so I can go to bed every night when I'm tired instead of having to wait until 10:00 to start my last session of the day and falling asleep while I'm pumping and crying to be in my nice warm bed reading a boooooooooook."

Cathy, all this week after 10:00 at night:
"Hey! Looks like I haven't finished reading the entire internet yet. LEANING OUT, BITCHES!"

"if they're crabby, put them in water."

...and was she ever. Crabby, that is. We're transitioning from two naps to one nap, and it was going really well for a few weeks. Yes, was. WAS going well. When Rowan does two naps, she'll sleep for one to two hours for each one - but it's really hard to get her down for each one, too. Fifteen to twenty minutes of walking and bouncing and singing with her, which is more frustrating than it might sound (and not kind on the shoulders and back). I was a staunch advocate of putting her down for naps drowsy but awake for months and months, but right before she turned one, she started just playing in her crib instead of going to sleep during the day. She wasn't upset or crying, but she also wasn't sleeping, which meant she'd be exhausted later...so we started helping her fall asleep (just for naps, not bedtime), and that started taking longer and longer. Boo. Anyway, eventually, she was clearly ready to do only one nap on some days, which I dreaded - but it actually makes getting out and about with her a lot easier. And duuude, her falling asleep easily for the one nap, and me having a break from 12-3? I can dig it.

But then the single naps started dwindling from three hours to two and a half hours, and then two, and then one and a half. The other day, she woke up after only an hour just crying and crying, and the rest of her day - from 1:15 until I could reasonably put her to bed at 6:30 - was a mess. In fact, her whole night ended up being a mess of her waking up constantly, thanks to the cruel irony of the baby rule of thumb known as "sleep begets sleep", which essentially means that if they're overtired, then they don't sleep well. I keep telling her that I don't recommend subscribing to this philosophy, but apparently she disagrees.

Anyway, when Rowan woke up crying after such a weeny little nap, I (won't lie) grumbled for a few minutes before pulling myself together and getting her up. We snuggled and played and read stories and played and ate a snack and played...and pretty much ran out of things to do to keep her happy and occupied. At, like, two o'clock in the afternoon. Did I mention that the wind chill was in the negatives, too? As both of us grew increasingly irritable, a quote from SARK about celebrating children suddenly rose to the surface:

"If they're crabby, put them in water."

Water? With snow on the ground and dinner on the horizon? Screw it, I thought. Let's do it.

I used an empty plastic bin (which was chilling in our growing Pile of Doom in the basement) and laid our plastic spill mat underneath it - mostly to keep the area around the water bin less slippery. Then I made two cardinal errors: 1) I put way too much water in the bin (seriously, an inch deep would have been plenty), and 2) I didn't put her IN the bin, but NEXT to it. So she promptly starting dumping all the water on herself...i.e., the floor.

You can actually see the water being poured out of her cup.

I really didn't want to tell her not to pour the water out - wasn't that the whole point?! - so I didn't, but the spillage was getting a little ridiculous. Once the puddles started migrating towards the stove and the hardwood floors, I increased backup (read: MOAR TOWELS) and plopped her in the bin. She was thrilled.

The (soaked and swollen) diaper came off at this point, too. What can I say...we're wild.

Here she's gripping the sides of the bin and swishing her legs back and forth...so, not exactly containing the water any better than before, but she was having the time of her life. (Read: MOAR TOWELS.)

Hey, it wasn't any groundbreaking, Pinterest-mayhem-worthy activity, but it did keep a fifteen-month-old happily occupied for an hour while causing relatively little mess. In fact, that's the closest I've come to cleaning my kitchen floor in recent memory. Score.

In the meantime, I'm trying to come up with more easy, cheap, fun indoor activities while we ride out the rest of winter (so, like...three more months? Gahhh). Open to ideas...what's your favorite indoor toddler entertainment? Spill! (Or, actually, don't spill. Because I don't have any MOAR TOWELS.)

***EDIT: Some ideas I want to remember from my awesome mama group & from all of you:
-- Craft paper rolled out on the floor + box of crayons
-- Freeze little toys in a block of ice + plastic hammer (let ice thaw a little first)
-- Blanket forts, especially with a fun toy inside (baby CD player)...or a snack
-- Dance parties with glow sticks/flashlights
-- Play dough
-- Spiderweb discovery basket
-- Painting snow in a sensory table
-- Painting the bathtub (baby foaming soap + food coloring/watercolor + corn starch)
-- Tupperware drawer!
-- "Clean" the house with a wash cloth
-- Bubble wrap on the floor
-- Contact paper on the window with cotton balls
-- Finger paint in Ziploc bags on the windows
-- Pushing a laundry basket with heavy stuff in it
-- Window crayons
-- FaceTime play dates
-- Hide and seek - but "seeking" a baby doll that you hide somewhere
-- Hang a couple rolls of toilet paper on string from the ceiling (J.J.'s old fave from when he was a toddler teacher)
-- In the sensory table/bin: snow; uncooked rice or pasta; Cool Whip or pudding; Cheerios; cut-up plastic drinking straws; flour; corn starch and water; sand; oats; the foam from dish soap bubbles; shaving cream


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