Thursday, March 30, 2017

before you know it.

Back in September, around Rowan's third birthday, I stumbled on her newborn pictures...and fell in love all over again.

Honestly, when we first got these shots back from our photographer (Lesley Mason Photography), I didn't appreciate them. It wasn't the photographer's fault at all; it was just that the photo session (and, um, that entire postpartum period) was torturous for me. We had to squeeze the session in between a lactation consultation and a pediatrician appointment, which turned out to be way more than my two-week-post-C-section-self was able to manage. Think: excessive pain, exhaustion, and bleeding. Feeding Rowan still took upwards of an hour at that point, and it was anything but photogenic (picture me sweating and crying while Rowan fussed at the breast, and then J.J. hovering over me as he held a tube that snaked down my chest into Rowan's mouth, and then me nodding off while pumping). Oh, and I tried to trim her nails for the first time that morning, and I had basically sliced the tip of her finger off (at least, that's what it felt like), so I felt like an all-around shitty parent. AND I felt like I looked like shit, too - still swollen and bruised and deliriously tired and unable to figure out what clothes fit me. Yeah. Not my finest hour.

These two, though...

And looking at these shots three years later, with the perspective of time and knowing now who Rowan actually is...oh, my sweet little baby.

You probably know we have a tradition of taking a picture of Rowan on her birthday morning in our backyard with a bunch of balloons, but I kind of forgot that it all started with this shot from her newborn session. It might be my favorite photo of the bunch. I just love her scrunchy little grump face. I can practically hear her thinking, "Why the hell are you taking pictures of me in a wooden crate?! Cut the hipster bullshit and snuggle me already!" If I remember correctly, it was drizzling a little bit that morning, too. Lol. Sorry, baby girl.


{first birthday}

{second birthday}

{third birthday}

One of my other favorite photos from the newborn session was this one, where she's all burritoed up and perched on our piano (yes, with spotters nearby, and she only rolled off a couple times. KIDDING). Rowan saw this one while I was lost in my nostalgia-fest last fall, and she loved it, too: "Aww, that's so cuuute!" 

So, naturally (?), I decided we'd recreate the shot, using the same swaddle blanket and flower headband...just three years later. (And with a different wall color, natch.)

I love comparing the two shots above just because it's so crazy to see how huge she is now, and how she still looks the same, even though I've insisted forever that she looks nothing like she did as a baby. 

Of course she does. It was my girl all along.

Looking at all those squishy little baby pictures makes me beyond excited to see what our new babe is going to look like. Rowan looked nothing like I imagined when she was born. I thought she'd be scrawny, fair, and bald, not chipmunk-cheeked and olive-skinned with a head full of almost-black hair. So I know better than to have any expectations about what her baby brother will look like. What I do expect, though, is that before I know it, he'll go from being an unknown in my belly...

...to being another love of my life, a person, someone with likes and hates and strengths and opinions and a personality all his own.

Before I know it.

Just like his sister.

Friday, March 10, 2017

change is good, right?

It's crazy how fast things are changing with this pregnancy. I feel like I just got past the point of feeling sick and adjusting to the idea that I'm even pregnant, and bam - next week, I'll be in the third trimester. Unreal. I'm still in the sweet spot of feeling good and energetic, but I can tell I'm slowing down. I don't think I started slowing down with my first pregnancy until the very last month. Granted, things were so different then - I spent every morning traipsing around town with groups of summer campers, and every afternoon swimming with them. I'm so much more stationary these days, and it's not helping anything. In fact, I took a bunch of walks/jogs the other week when the weather was so gorgeous here, and they were awesome. Instead of wiping me out, they boosted my energy. Unfortunately, following this week's epic windstorm in southeast Michigan, it's freezing again - like, down to ten degrees tonight - and isn't supposed to warm up for awhile. Kind of a problem, considering it's getting harder to, you know, tie my shoes and zip my winter coat.

Baby seems to be doing great. His movements are intense! I think he's still small enough that he can really wiggle around in there. Twenty-seven weeks (which is what I am now) is when Rowan snuggled into her breech position...and never shifted. Don't get me wrong, she still wiggled and bumped and kicked. Trust me, I'll never forget the feeling of being kicked in the ass from the inside. But aside from trying to stretch out lengthwise across my belly right before she was born (ouuuch), she stayed breech for the entire final trimester. Either way, hard to say, but I think this babe is still rolling around in there. I feel round head or bottom lumps on all different parts of my belly. It probably helps that my uterus is more stretched out this time than it was with Rowan. 

Speaking of stretched out...I somehow got away with only a couple minor stretch marks the first time, right above my bellybutton. They weren't even noticeable after a couple months. Well, those stretch marks are...stretching. And it sucks. They itch. They hurt. And as much as I'd love to pretend I don't care about the way they look, I do care. I'm not loving them, sorry. Should be interesting to see how they fare over the next few months, especially considering I'm definitely on track to gain more weight this time. Apparently, when I was pregnant with Rowan, it not only helped that it was basically my job to exercise, but also that I had a major aversion to candy. That is...not the case this time. Gimme all the Easter candy! Oh, and ALL the (vegetarian) protein. Eggs, nuts, beans, quinoa, peanut butter: gimme.

Right. Ahem. Anyway - it's so surreal to watch my belly bulge and ripple wherever the baby moves. He's even woken me up a couple times when he's partying. Other than that, though, I'm (thankfully) back to sleeping well, which is such a relief after being so sick for a couple weeks there. (Worst sinus infection ever.) Lately, I keep going to bed earlier and earlier. I was asleep before nine last night. If only I could bank those sleep hours for the future! I mean, yeah, they'd be helpful postpartum, but I'm also anticipating that next week will be a little funky. J.J.'s going to be out of town, and the time change always screws with Rowan for a few days. Bleh.

Although - I almost wish we had decided to go with J.J. on his trip. He'll be in Austin to present at South By Southwest (SXSW), and I'm just itching to be somewhere warm. Honestly, what I really wish we'd planned for is a "babymoon" trip. I kind of hate that term - babymoon - but I get really bummed when I realize that we won't ever take a trip as a family of three again. It's been just the three of us for almost four years, and what can I say? I love us. We got a decent tax refund this year (side benefit of having only one, relatively small income), which was initially earmarked for getting the huge trees in our backyard trimmed so they would stop dropping adult-human-sized branches on my tiny children in the summer. Then the upstairs bathroom became something of a priority. THEN two things happened. One, we had that ridiculous windstorm the other day, which dropped a bazillion branches and gave me the (potentially dumb) illusion that any of the remaining branches are unlikely to fall. Two, we got the official estimate for replacing our bathtub back from Lowe's, and LOLOLOL YEAH RIGHT. That's not happening.

I'm researching other contractors to do the installation, but in the meantime, I find myself looking at my tub...and then picturing, say, a little trip to Florida. Nothing too crazy, just a few days at a cheap Airbnb close to a warm beach. I just would love to take Rowan on her first flight ever, to get out of the cold for a few days, to make some memories, and to spend time with J.J. and Rowan before our family changes forever. I'm not trying to sound melodramatic, but I really am kind of mourning the idea of things changing so much. It's a good change, duh. I know. The best kind of change. But still different, you know? Not to mention that it'd be nice to do a vacation like this when things (read: Rowan) are relatively low-maintenance. No diapers, no Pack 'N' Play, no special cups or food or carriers. It's not exactly a solo beach vacay, where I throw a bikini and some flip-flops into my backpack and hop on a plane, but we're just at a low-key, easygoing place right now, all things considered.

Also. I know this is a little silly, but part of the reason I wish we could do a special trip with Rowan is that I just want to be able to soak her up while she's still my only one. It's hard to describe what I'm feeling about making her a big sister. Mostly, I'm thrilled beyond measure and feel so fortunate that we can introduce this new role into her life, this whole other way of loving and being loved. On the other hand? It's going to be hard to watch her struggle through this transition - and I know there will be times when it's a struggle. All for the greater good, of course. I don't know, I just want to play in the sand and the sun with my girl and my partner in crime and have a fun, stressless good time together. *Clicks back over to the Airbnb website*  *Pretends that it's okay to fly during the third trimester*  *Ignores financial responsibilities*

Plus, as much as I love this whole Batman phase, there are some summer clothes I'm dying to get this one into...

For the record, right after this sweet photo, she turned around and called, "Now take a picture of my bottom! Hahaha!!"

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

room reveal: Rowan's big kid bedroom!

I can't believe it's taken me almost seven months to get to this point, but I think I can finally officially say that Rowan's big kid room is DONE. Granted, I've been pregnant for all but about two weeks of this room makeover, so I'll cut myself some slack...but STILL. The truth is that everything's been finished for a couple months except painting the closet and building the window coverings, which I knocked out over the last couple weekends. So: DONE.

It all started at the end of last August, when the guest room still looked like this:

We'd been trying for awhile to get pregnant, and my thought was that once a new baby was on the way, we'd move Rowan from the nursery into the guest room/office, since the nursery is so small that a twin bed would barely fit in there (if at all). I wasn't sure how to introduce the idea to her, given that she was completely happy in her crib in the nursery. Thankfully, one day, she waltzed into the guest room and announced, "I want this to be my room!" It's always better when kids think big transitions are their idea, so I jumped on the opportunity and said, "Awesome! Let's plan it! What do you want it to look like?"

She actually had a big hand in the room's design, which was so much fun to do with her! Her main requests for her big kid room were: pink and yellow walls; glitter on the walls; a big kid bed; one pink lamp and one yellow lamp (harder to find than you'd think, omg); and pictures of her family (aww). We were looking through Pinterest one day and she added one more request - a white tent over her bed. 

This all sounded easy enough, although I was a little wary about the pink and yellow walls. I wasn't sure how to pull that off without it looking...I don't know, oppressively fluorescent? And wouldn't pink and yellow clash with each other? Luckily, I stumbled on this picture from the Land of Nod website, and it sparked a paint idea:


I LOVED that diagonal paint swath, and I figured it would allow for enough white space to offset any mega-bright colors. Plus, as much as I've never really appreciated pink, I am super, super into the dusty rose that just happens to be trendy right now. I could make that work with a mellow shade of yellow, right?! 

So I got to work, first selling most of the furniture from the guest room and moving all our office stuff down to the basement (as if we have room down there for it, but whatever). Then I primed the walls...with a little help:

Once the walls were ready, I got stuck for awhile trying to figure out the optimal paint design. I used painter's tape to test out a couple ideas, but nothing was really gelling. I ended up having two of my friends (who both have amazing eyes for design...thanks, Kendal and Katie!!) come over to help me plan the paint patterns, and also to choose the right shades of pink and yellow. Then I kicked Rowan and J.J. out of the house one weekend day and spent way longer than I'd anticipated taping everything off.

I used a laser level to get the straightest lines possible, which was super tricky around the windows, because the window moldings cut the laser line off. Taping everything pretty much took longer than the actual painting did. That was super frustrating - but totally worth it. The design ended up looking perfect, with flawless lines (tip: rub a damp washcloth along the painter's tape and let it dry before you paint - makes for extra-crisp lines with no bleeding). It was especially worth it when Rowan came back that evening and saw her "pink and lellow" walls for the first time.

Unnnnnfortunately, this face was quickly followed by, "But I wanted the WHOLE THING to be pink and lellowwww!" Meaning, she was not happy with parts of the walls staying white.  -_-  I mitigated her disappointment by showing her that the pink paint is actually glitter paint. The glitter is awesome - you just add a packet right into your paint can, stir it up, paint away, and voila, you get a subtle sparkle all over the wall. It's super hard to photograph, but I got a (admittedly mediocre) video of it:

Rowan also loved being my construction assistant. She helped build her new bookshelf, her new bed (a birthday present from Grandpa), and her new double glider (a Christmas present from Gramma, which is awesome and big enough to fit all three of us - soon, all four of us).

Oh, and she loved "helping" J.J. measure when we hung the wood cornices this past weekend:

But anyway - enough with the boring descriptions. How about some more pictures? I'll go around the room clockwise, starting from when you look in the doorway. (Ignore that light on the ceiling...yes, it's a porch light; yes, it's from the previous owners; yes, Ikea discontinued the light I'd planned on replacing that one with; yes, I'm too lazy to find another one that I really like, so yes, it stays for now.)

Aaaand because I'm a total dork, here's a video with a 360-degree tour:

I'll list all the sources at the end of the post, but some details about the details: She chose her bedding from a few photos I'd pinned for her, and I looove her comforter. It's super cute, and it helped guide my paint color choices. (Although it's possible I started out with a different shade of yellow that looked too orange and eventually re-painted with this shade. POSSIBLE.) Oh, and just so you know, to fulfill Rowan's wish for one pink lamp and one yellow lamp, I had to buy two pink lamps and spray paint one of them yellow. It was impossible to find affordable lamps that came in both pink and yellow! I did score some awesome white lampshades from Target that are even glittery, much to Rowan's delight.

I made the canopy over her bed using some sheer curtains, a large embroidery hoop, and some battery-operated LED twinkle lights from Amazon (which I neglected to take a picture of, but trust me, they're up there!). 

Her nightstand drawer is where she stores her ever-growing
comic book collection. Only Robin is allowed to read them with her.

Per her request for pictures of her family, I got a bunch of free square prints from Parabo Press (I only paid shipping, which was like $8 or something). I don't love the way they're arranged right now - I should've done them in straight lines instead of following the diagonal paint line - but I can't bring myself to take the time to rearrange them, so there you have it. 

I made the paintings over the bookshelf, with Rowan's guidance. She asked for specific lyrics from "This Little Light of Mine" and "Bushel and a Peck", and she very much wanted a picture of Baby Kermit, who was her obsession back in the fall, when she pretended she had an Invisible Kermit in her hand at all times. She doesn't really care about him anymore but claims she still wants the painting.

I also DIY'ed the cornices over her windows. I didn't want to do full curtains in her room because I had visions of her pulling them down while playing in her bed at night (accurate...she's already snapped the roller shade up while messing around and scared the crap out of herself), so I went with cheap blackout roller blinds from Lowe's and livened them up with the wood cornices - again, props to Katie and Kendal for the inspiration on those. I followed these instructions (found via Pinterest) to build them. The wood is stained with Minwax's Classic Gray stain, which ended up matching the bookshelf and glider perfectly. A pretty easy project overall!

And yeah, I chose to leave her closet doors off. Remember how I removed them to make the guest room closet into our office?

I wanted to leave the doors off for a few reasons. First, I love love love the way her dressers turned out. I initially thought I'd wallpaper the back of the closet wall, but when I did a test run, it just didn't look right. Plus, I was going to have to buy like double the wallpaper I'd already bought to cover the whole back wall, so I nixed the idea and put it on the drawer fronts instead. Second, those closet doors are stored in the basement somewhere and are still the plain orange-y wood color that all our other doors originally were, and I didn't feel like finding them, painting them, and reattaching them. Third, I considered hanging a curtain over it (like we did in the nursery), but I really just wanted her dressers to be visible! I think they're my favorite part of the room. Maybe I'll hang a curtain eventually, but I'm happy with it for now.

My friend Katie made that awesome macrame wall
hanging! She's one of the most talented people I know -
check out her Etsy shop for adorable bonnets.

All of her clothes fit into the six dresser drawers with room to spare, although I do hang up some of her dresses. I use the white bins on the top shelf to store the clothes she's about to grow into and the ones she's just grown out of. That gray-brown box on the shelf below the white bins is her memory box, which is basically where I throw all the stuff that would go into a scrapbook, if I were one to scrapbook. Which I'm not. So she has a box.

And, finally, just a couple more befores and afters, since this post doesn't already have a million pictures:

Before / After

Before / After

Before / After

All in all, Rowan's big kid bedroom turned out even better than I'd hoped. It's cozy, colorful, and so totally Rowan. Plus, I think it'll grow with her for awhile instead of needing major updates in just a couple years. Not to mention that it was a nerdy dream come true to plan the room with her. Hope you love it as much as we do! 


Source list:

:: Bookshelf (from Target, although I'm not seeing the color I have there anymore...)

:: Paintings over bookshelf (aka my Etsy shop)

:: Frames for paintings (Ikea RIBBA)

:: Double glider chair in dark taupe from Walmart (the beautiful quilt on the chair was made by Gramma)

:: Nightstand (Windham Side Table from Target's Threshold collection)

:: Bed (from Amazon)

:: Sheets (from Target)

:: Comforter (Land of Nod's Fly Away Quilt)

:: White pillow, pink flower pillow, lamps, fabric bins (can't seem to find the same bins, but they're just pink bins from Target's Pillowfort collection, like the rest of these items)

:: Instagram prints (from Parabo Press)

:: Dressers (ASKVOLL from Ikea)

:: Removable wallpaper on drawer fronts (from Walls Need Love)

:: Rug (Rugs USA's Tuscan Moroccan Shag)

:: Blackout roller shades (from Lowe's)

:: Glitter for paint (from Target)

:: Paint colors:
   -- darker pink (wall behind bookshelf) = Riviera Rose from Olympic
   -- yellow = Banana Mania from Behr
   -- lighter pink (closet area) = Pink Sangria from Olympic


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