19.3.15

Allow Me To Shed Some Light...


Friends, how do we feel about pot lights?  I've always been on the fence and (probably a symptom of my job) they always remind me of finished basements with beige furniture.  Is anyone with me?

When it was time to think about lighting for the kitchen, I surprised myself by suggesting them to Corey.  You see, he had already installed all these fabulous cabinet and under cabinet lights and I didn't want some awkwardly retro-modern fixture that I rescued from Craigslist to detract from the clean vibe of our kitchen.  

Corey still has some patching to do (from running new electrical) but so far, I think I like them.


... And just to show you that I don't fully worship the god of neutral décor, guess what's back in our dining room!  I'll give you a hint- It solves a pet peeve I've had about the room since the day we moved in and it looked like this:


Give up?  Here it is:


No, it's not the painting.  I wrote about the painting here.  It's the light, which I wrote about here.


Remember when we had it in the condo?  I had loved it and it was one of the few things I actually cared for enough to move to our new/old house.  I remember our buyers had wanted it but I refused to give it up.

I know it's loud and maybe a little tacky but I just love it so much and now that it's up in the dining room (and the old fixture is sitting in a snowbank at the bottom of our driveway) the new/old house feels a teeny bit more like home.

14.3.15

Switching Our Switches


You know how some women get crazy over shoes?  Well, in our house, it's cool home innovations that get us super excited.  And what could a Real Estate Broker and an Electrician like more than beautiful high-tech light switches and outlets?

Corey is ready to start covering outlets (he added so many for all our small appliances) in the kitchen and he asked me if I would prefer plain or "fancy".  I had no idea what a "fancy" outlet might look like so he showed me the Adorne collection by Legrand.



I sort of fell in love and now we're slowly replacing all the switches and receptacles in the house with the "soft tap" switches and modern receptacles.  They had a "touch only" option but I like a tap or a click to tell me that I've actually turned on a light.  Corey makes fun of me because apparently the actual light turning on or off isn't enough for me.  I need that click!

There's also an option to add a little light beneath your switches like a night light.  Here's one in Rudy's room:


The switch plates come in an array of finishes but some are a little too crazy expensive for my beer budget.  Still, we decided to use a fun dark blue switch plate in the bathroom for the outlet beside the thermostat that controls our heated floors.

Now, if only we could get to finishing and painting those walls...


But this is a perfect example of a tiny update making a huge difference.  These upgraded switches already make our home feel more modern and high-tech.  As if we should expect to press one and be greeted by a robot butler.  Damn, I want a robot butler.

1.3.15

Goodnight


This post is dedicated to my friend, V in the UK.  I imagine her to be reading similar poems to her baby girl across the sea...

The other day my mom reminded me of one of my favourite poems from when I was little.  I read it again recently and was struck by the beautiful imagery and the rhythmic, soothing language.  I found a used copy on Amazon and I think I'll start reading it to Rudy before bed.  I'm sharing it here because it's such a favourite.


Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
Eugene Field

 Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
   Sailed off in a wooden shoe,—
Sailed on a river of crystal light
   Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
   The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring-fish
   That live in this beautiful sea;
   Nets of silver and gold have we,"
            Said Wynken,
            Blynken,
            And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
   As they rocked in the wooden shoe;
And the wind that sped them all night long
   Ruffled the waves of dew;
The little stars were the herring-fish
   That lived in the beautiful sea.
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish,—
   Never afraid are we!”
   So cried the stars to the fishermen three,
            Wynken,
            Blynken,
            And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
   To the stars in the twinkling foam,—
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
   Bringing the fishermen home:
‘Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed
   As if it could not be;
And some folk thought ‘twas a dream they’d dreamed
   Of sailing that beautiful sea;
   But I shall name you the fishermen three:
            Wynken,
            Blynken,
            And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
   And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
   Is a wee one’s trundle-bed;
So shut your eyes while Mother sings
   Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
   As you rock in the misty sea
   Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:—
            Wynken,
            Blynken,
            And Nod.

How was your weekend?  Ours was lovely, despite Corey and Rudy both feeling a bit under the weather.  I worked a little but I took both afternoons off so we also got to focus on Rudy a lot.  It was a rare chance to see friends (We had two playdates!) and one of our friends reviewed infant CPR with us so that we can be confident when Rudy starts solid foods in a few months.  

After such a busy weekend, we are totally pooped!  Raising a baby really is a three person job.  

Tonight, we're eating soup and watching a movie before bed.  Rudy's asleep already and the dogs are grumbling at each other over who gets the bigger half of the couch...  Life is good.  Sweet dreams!

Thanks to our friend, Michael Budd for the photo.

26.2.15

Rudy's Birth Story (From My Point of View and Corey's)

First Family Selfie

My Story

I still don't know if I'm quite ready to write all about my pregnancy.  It wasn't an easy time for me and I'm trying to give myself enough distance from it so that I can write about it without sounding whiny or worse, insensitive to my readers who would gladly take a difficult pregnancy if it meant getting a baby at the end of the journey.

My decision to have a c-section was an easy one in the end.  Sure, I started my pregnancy journey thinking I'd deliver the "normal" way.  I even thought that I'd try to get as far as I could without taking an epidural.  In hindsight, this was partially because I was afraid of being immobilized while trying to push on my back, but it was also because I'm competitive and have a high pain threshold and I was pretty sure I could make it most of the way without pain meds.

Enter the pregnancy from hell.  I must have been in my seventh month before it even dawned on me that the giant Bruiser inside me would actually have to come out somehow.  By that point, I felt far to wimpy to even think about the actual birth process.  When my OB mentioned induction, I could have vomit-cried right there in his office.  Not only did I have no intention of squeezing a baby out of my vagina, but the mere thought of the interventions that would make induction possible made me want to pass out.  You want to stick WHAT in my WHERE???  That's when I scheduled my c-section.

With our home in a state of chaos and the nursery just barely finished, I was in total denial about the baby coming.  In fact, for weeks, each time Corey would mention packing my hospital bag I would change the subject.  We packed the night before and I think we both stayed up most of the night doing last minute prep for Rudy.  We knew it was foolish but we figured we'd just sleep in the hospital... which is pretty much exactly what happened.


We were up at 6 am on the morning of my c-section.  There was so much to do that it still hadn't really sunk in that I would meet my daughter that day.  After staying up all night, I was fasting and couldn't have coffee but I felt pretty wired.

I waddled into triage on the maternity ward and one of the nurses made a comment about it looking like twins.  I was too preoccupied to glare at her.  We were quickly admitted to the pre-op/post-op room, where I met one of the surgeons, the anaesthesiologist and a couple of nurses who would be assisting.  They inserted my IV and explained some of the weird things I could expect from the surgery (Like the fact that you're basically laying there totally naked the whole time... wtf?) and Corey and my mom waited with me.  At that point, I wasn't nervous at all and I was even responding to work emails.

Then they wheeled in another mom from surgery.  She had her baby with her and, when I heard that new baby cry, I started tearing up.  I think that was the moment when the magnitude of what was happening hit me.  That was going to be me in an hour or so and the cry would be from my own baby!

Soon, my midwife arrived.  Although my care was transferred to an OB, my midwife was still going to assist with my surgery.  She knew I was concerned that Rudy should stay with me as much as possible (unless there were a good reason otherwise) and she assured me that as long as Rudy came out crying, she would make sure I got her immediately.  I felt lucky to have this option since most c-section moms have to wait a couple of minutes to get their babies.

As they wheeled me in to surgery, I was glad my mom was there to wait with Corey.  He looked so nervous and I hoped there would be no complications and that he could join me in the operating room soon.  I knew he wouldn't get to join me until after the first incision was made and if there were any complications, they likely wouldn't let him in.  I was honestly more worried that he would be worried than I was concerned about myself and Rudy.  I assumed we'd be fine.  We're tough girls.

I felt like a wimp when they inserted the spinal block.  It was an awful sensation to have a needle poking around so close to my spine and the anaesthesiologist told me that it was important that I tell her every sensation I was experiencing.  I had to keep telling her it hurt and I was pretty relieved when it was over.

I had been sitting forward and they lowered me onto my back immediately.  I realized why when my legs began feeling heavy and numb almost instantly.  It was the strangest feeling and I kept feeling as though I was going to roll right off the table.  I checked and double-checked that they had secured me properly.  From then on, it was weird because I could see people working on me and hear them talking about it (I heard them chatting about inserting a catheter) but I couldn't feel much and my surroundings started to feel fuzzy.  I mentioned that my ears were ringing and everyone started scrambling.  I heard something about my blood pressure dropping and everyone kept telling me to stop moving my arms but everything was sort of foggy and I couldn't help moving my arms.  For a minute, I thought they were going to need to put me under general anaesthetic and I worried about Corey.  He'd be freaking out if he wasn't allowed in.  I took several slow, deep breaths and eventually the ringing stopped and I felt myself becoming more coherent.  I stopped mumbling nonsense and was able to say "I'm okay."  I had stabilized.

The anaesthesiologists were pleased.  They were the ones communicating with me the most because it was important for them to know if the spinal block was working.  At that point, they did a few tests that involved pinching me, rubbing liquid on me and asking whether it was hot or cold and the final test, which was the actual incision.  I didn't feel any of it, so my midwife went to get Corey.

Once he was holding my hand, I felt more secure but by then the surgery had started and I needed my strength.  I felt a lot of pressure and my body was moving as though I were laying in the back of a truck that was driving down a bumpy road.  A few times, I had to remind myself that I couldn't ask them to stop and that I didn't want to because I was doing all this in order to meet Rudy!

Eventually, the pressure became stronger.  It felt as though someone were standing on my stomach.  I almost wondered if someone were pushing down on one end, so Rudy would shoot out of the incision like you would expect in a cartoon.  Someone called out that we were almost there (I must have been wincing) and I squeezed Corey's hand and whispered "This is it!"

When they pulled her out, I didn't hear a cry right away.  I actually called out "Is she crying??" and the anaesthesiologist told me she was.  It was all such a blur but Corey later told me that my midwife plucked her from the surgeon's hands right away and put her on my chest.  I remember Corey cutting the cord and I remember the relief of finally holding my baby.

Of course she was covered in blood and white goop and she didn't look at all the way I'd imagined her.  Her little face was scrunched and sort of looked like a potato and she had more of a squawk than a cry but she was all mine.


I don't remember anything else about the surgery.  They could have walked an entire class full of med students along with a marching band through that operating room and I wouldn't have noticed.  Because I was finally holding Rudy.  My baby.  And she looked nothing like I had expected and yet that didn't matter at all.

I didn't look at my phone again for more than 24 hours.  Even my closest friends had to text Corey to find out how we were doing.  I was too focused on Rudy to notice.


Corey's Story

When I first found out Taylor was pregnant, I was in shock.  Taylor can attest to this: I was totally silent, apparently I turned dark red and had a vein pop out in my forehead.  “Seriously? That fast? How is this possible?”  This is what ran through my head immediately when I found out.  In hindsight, not the greatest reaction of all time.  However, less than twenty-four hours later I was not only on board, but ready to steer! I was so excited I couldn’t wait the nine months to meet our baby.

Nine months passed in a whirlwind of wedding planning, the wedding itself, the honeymoon, renovations, doctor/midwife appointments and an absolutely horrible pregnancy for Taylor.  Finally the day arrived when Taylor was scheduled to have her c-section.
Admittedly, I was nervous.  I was nervous for Taylor, who was also nervous and anxious about going under the knife, and I was nervous about Rudy.  Was I ready to take care of her? We hadn’t attended a single parenting class, and I had not finished a single parenting book (which is an impressive feat since I only started one.) Nevertheless, we were about to have Rudy, and I’d have to figure it out.  

Taylor and I went in to the hospital the prescribed two hours early so that Taylor could be prepped for surgery.  We were both aware that during the actual administration of the spinal block and preparation of the sterile field in the operating room, I was not allowed in. Partner’s roles in c-sections are to support the woman giving birth, and if something should happen that would force them to put Taylor under, I wouldn’t be allowed in at all.  No problem, it’s only 10-20 minutes I was told (and I had read 20-30 minutes, so I was ready to go.)
I can now say that so far, that was the longest 45 minutes of my life! I was calm and cool for the first 25 minutes, chatting with Taylor’s mom who had come down to see her before she went in and to wait with me during the prep.  At about 28 minutes I became very aware of the clock on my phone, checking it at least twice a minute.  I began pacing the hall, looking at my phone.  At one point Taylor’s mom said “Do you think they forgot about you?” which only made me more anxious.  I decided to message one of my best friends to tell him what was going on, I didn't get to read his response until hours later (naturally, it was reassuring) because they called me in.  I felt a wave of relief.  

When I walked in to the OR they brought me over to a stool set up to Taylor’s right, next to her head.  I immediately took her hand.  We sat there talking (about what, I have no idea at this point) and waiting while staring at each other.  Ten minutes (at most) after I walked in, someone says  “Ok, here she comes” and I held my breath.  

The moment I heard her cry is when I exhaled, everything was okay.  Immediately they brought Rudy around to Taylor, where they cleaned her and examined her, and I cut off the excess from her umbilical cord. During this time we’re pretty sure they were stitching Taylor back up, though admittedly neither of us really paid any attention to anything but Rudy at that point. Finally they were ready for us to move out into the post-op room, and our midwife asked Taylor if she would be okay with me taking Rudy out so that she could be weighed and measured while they took the last couple of minutes to work on Taylor, so that she could hold her again immediately once she was out of the operating room.  

I picked up my baby girl and walked more carefully than I have ever walked out of the operating room.  I held her close, and put her on the warmer to be examined.  She was a healthy 8 pounds and 8 ounces, had a length of 51.5 centimetres and a head circumference of 35.5 centimetres.  She was perfect.


I learned three things that morning:
  1. Time can slow down so much that it almost stops, and yet 400 million thoughts can run through your mind in an instant.            
  2. Babies come out quite purple, and covered in white mucus.
  3. There is nothing in life I have ever experienced like being able to hold my little girl for the first time.


21.2.15

DIY Baby Sensory Bracelets


"Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, And she shall have music wherever she goes."

I've been wanting to get a set of these Lamaze Wrist Rattles for Rudy.  They're supposed to be stimulating and people say they help babies discover their hands.  They make them for feet too.

As you probably know, when it's relatively simple, we prefer to make things ourselves rather than buy them.  This is not only because it's cheaper and it's good to know how to do, but also just because it's fun and allows us to customize things.

I bought some fabric scraps and a bell, but I already had velcro and ribbon from making her quiet book.


I used the hard plastic bag that the bell came in, to create a crinkle texture by sewing it inside the fabric and I used the velcro and the thickest ribbon to make wristbands for Rudy.  The best thing about making a toy for a baby is that it's okay if it basically looks like a baby made it.  All you want are contrast, colours, sounds and different textures.

I was very careful to use thick thread and double up on my stitches because I didn't want any chocking hazards.


As an extra precaution, we ALWAYS supervise Rudy when she plays with them.




She's at an age where she can't really grasp toys and yet she wants to be constantly entertained.  These wristbands allow her to entertain herself a little.

What do you think?  Would you make these?

20.2.15

DIY Showdown


Guys, I may have just missed my fifteen minutes of fame.  Earlier this week, a producer from the Marilyn Denis Show invited me to appear on Tuesday's DIY Showdown Show.  Basically, they would drop off a box of goodies on Friday (today) and film me reading the rules of the challenge.  I would have the weekend and a small budget to style a room vignette using the items they dropped off, along with anything I purchased or made myself.  Then, on Monday, I would put the vignette together in their studio and on Tuesday, I would appear on the show with Corey and Rudy in the audience!

I'm sorry to say that I declined.  I have clients making an offer on a house on Monday and I think they'll require my attention over the weekend but how cool would it have been if it had been another weekend?  I told the producer that I was sorry to refuse and to think of me another time.

I actually liked the idea so much that I thought I'd make up my own rules and write a blog post about what I would have done.  So we'll call this post an "if I had done it" post.  Does that sound too much like OJ?  Hope not.

So, I'm not sure if my room would have had a theme or what items they would have dropped off, so I'll make my own rules to make my own challenge a little harder.

Rule #1: I'm limiting it to projects that I could have completed over the weekend even allotting time for work and helping with Rudy.

Rule #2: As an extra challenge, I'm only allowing myself DIYs that I could do without having to look up any instructions.

Rule #3:  I am limiting the items used to things we already own or could (with the exception of craft supplies, paint and lumber) purchase second-hand.

Sounds hard?  Well, this was a personal challenge so I didn't want to make it too easy.

I always like to start with a good vintage Persian rug.  I feel like they give every room some depth and warmth and I especially love the way they mix in with modern interiors.


Then, I'd tackle the wall.  Because it's only a vignette, I'd want to add a lot of texture and visual interest.  I might try this DIY wainscotting technique.


I'd probably also want to paint it a bold colour like Farrow and Ball's Studio Green.


Next, I'd like to DIY a chair.  I may check out a thrift store or I may makeover the faux Eames Eiffel Chair that's currently in my office.  First, I'd cut wood arches to secure with construction adhesive to make a rocker base.  You could also skip that step and buy a faux Eames Eiffel Rocker from Structube.


From there I'd cover it in fabric using this mod podge method.  For the chair fabric, I'd choose something bright and modern (maybe floral) in colours that clash just a teeny bit with the rug.  I'd want my vignette to look edgy and unexpected.  This print is a good example.


I'd want something on the walls.  If I'm going for a rich look, I may choose something gold and a mirror would make sense in a small vignette.  Round mirrors are easy to find at thrift stores and flea markets (I probably have one for staging in the basement) and I think I'd cover the edges in layers of plastic spoon heads before spray painting them gold.



I'd then look for an ornate buffet or credenza on Craigslist like this one.  If the wood were in good condition, I'd leave it but if not, I might paint it in a similar shade to the wall only in a high gloss.


I would love to add a plant to the vignette to make it feel more finished.  A large fiddle leaf fig would make it look really grounded and they're so sculptural that it would add a lot of visual interest and pick up any green in the paint and rug.  I'd buy a thrift store planter and cover it in gold leaf.


To style the buffet, normally I'd go with the rule of something tall, something short and something sculptural but I think I'd want to showcase another DIY.  Collections of blue opaline glass can look very impressive like the one below from the home of the owner of Juicy Couture.  I think I'd pick up some assorted thrift store vases and glasses and paint them blue like in this tutorial.


The final result would depend a lot on what rug and fabric I could find but it may look something like this:


If I'd had the time, I may have added some drapery behind the buffet (to create a faux window) in a rich, dark forest green velvet or maybe even a red or dark pink... It would really depend on the colours in the rug and the chair fabric.  I may not have "won" but my vignette would have certianly been high-impact!  It also would have showcased lots of diy-ing and several reclaimed pieces.  Maybe next time...

17.2.15

Backsplash


I thought I'd give a quick update on our kitchen backsplash.  Corey's been working steadily under Rudy's supervision and he's well past the halfway mark.

Sorry for the mess- we didn't bother clearing away the bottles.  Baby or beer.


... And Corey obviously polished off quite a few beers while doing the backsplash, which is primarily being completed during Rudy's naps.  He's doing a great job and I think we made a good choice.

My next kitchen post may be our big reveal.  I'm crossing my fingers that we're really that close!

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