Monthly Archives: January 2013

Toddlers in Tantrums

It’s true.

Even though the boy has yet to turn two, we are well within the tantrum phase. Thankfully, they are mostly when we are at home, but they are becoming more and more frequent in public. (Can you say yikes?!)

Don’t get me wrong. He is a wonderful kid who is really pretty well behaved, but…we have our moments.

It’s interesting, though, because I’m finding that I have two options when we’re out (or really anywhere):

1) I can give him what he’s begging/whining/screaming/crying for, or

2) I can hold my ground and cause his begging/whining/screaming/crying to be worse than if I gave in.

This topic has been weighing on me for a while (since it’s become more of a problem), and I decided I’d blog about my struggle when I recently read this post from When You Rise.

In the last few months, I’ve been tempted on more than one occasion to use the very thing that he’s crying for as a reward to encourage him to stop crying. I’ll give you an example. He’s got a real thing for fruit snacks (which he’s only had 3 or 4 times before anyway, but he is sure about what he likes!) and he will ask and beg incessantly until he buys himself a visit to time-out. Then, his crying will escalate over the next 20 minutes until I find myself wanting to bribe him with, “If you stop crying, you can have some fruit snacks!”

You see the problem, though? Wanting to eat fruit snacks is not the worst thing, but giving him some when I’ve already said no tells his little mind that if he acts out long enough or loud enough, then he can control me. And underneath that, it says that I care more about my comfort (having quiet) or my reputation (not having strangers stare at us in the grocery store) than about his obedience and his well being.

That may seem extreme, but I think it’s totally true. It’s hard work to be a caring parent. In those tedious, frustrating moments, I try to remind myself that I’m investing in the person he’s becoming. It’s not about the quick fixes to save face. Besides, I believe that time invested will make life easier at some point down the road, too. He’s so impressionable right now.

I’m reminded of another blog post I’ve read that convicts me of my tendencies to place too much importance on the things that don’t really matter (like keeping him from making messes) and not enough importance on the things that really matter (like pretending not to notice when he’s disobeying so that I can finish cooking dinner).

It’s all about perspective–but, like I said, it’s extremely difficult in the moment. I don’t want to feel judged from strangers or other moms we’re out with. And I certainly don’t want people to feel bothered by my son’s outbursts (you know we’ve all been that person). I’ve actually been working on some ideas to prevent the public tantrums when possible, but my goal is not to lose perspective of what’s really important when I get into those situations.

The whole topic says a lot about human nature. It’s completely natural for Liam to want what he wants, when he wants it. It’s natural that I don’t want people to think I’m a bad mother who makes her child cry. That stuff has to be worked out of us.

And that’s just what God is doing through Jonathan and me. We’re helping to set his little heart on the straight path to patience and selflessness. Though sometimes, it’s a long and bumpy road!

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Making an Old Armoire New

Hi again.

Remember how I mentioned all of the crazy projects (as in, multiple) we jumped into last weekend? Well, here is part two of that day and phase three in the nursery transformation: painting the armoire.

For obvious reasons (especially if you’ve seen the room in person), one of our chief concerns in this little makeover was to maximize storage. Every piece of furniture we brought in needed to be functional.

Back when we started talking about making a room for two, my in-laws graciously offered an armoire that they were no longer using.

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They’d had it since around the time Jonathan was born (and moved it across continents), most recently, though, it functioned as a pantry in their kitchen. So it’s kind of a fun piece of history for the room.

It needed some work, though. Here was where we started:

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The shelves were actually working (they just weren’t set up in this picture). But, it had a hinge that needed adjusting and some wood glue for one of the door’s joints.

Then, it was time to clean ‘er up! I found this great method for revitalizing wood furniture using a magic eraser and vinegar. It’s hard to capture on our camera, but you can see how much cleaner the door on the left is.

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Next up was a trip to Home Depot. Our hope was to add some hanging space since Liam’s closet was just big enough for his stuff. We bought a $6 kit to install a little rod for baby clothes.

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Here it is with the rod…simple enough.

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All that was left to do now was find a nice day to take it outside for some sanding and painting. Queue the weather last weekend!

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We chose to paint it a fun blue called Americana. We’ll have to skip to the final product because I forgot to take pictures of the paint in progress. 🙂

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We’re having some problems with the left upper door sticking (which sanding hasn’t seemed to fix), so we have a little more work to do.

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We picked out some cute little orange flower knobs at half price from Hobby Lobby. Aren’t they sweet?

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The plan is to put baby clothing on the top and have room for toy storage on the bottom. See? We’re making this armoire work hard for it’s space in the room!

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My biggest frustration is some of the scratch marks that chipped the paint of the interior when we placed the shelves back in. I have a feeling that the inside is not going to stay very pretty with the wear, but we decided that it was worth painting the inside for continuity’s sake.

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More projects are still to come!

 

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Clean Slate

Well, this weekend has turned into a crazy how-many-projects-can-we-accomplish-in-a-short-amount-of-time weekend! I think the combination of nice weather, willing husband, and pregnant nesting energy is pretty effective!

Thus, I present to you, Phase two: painting the room

When we moved into our house a year and a half ago, Liam’s room (and the hallway) were the only things we didn’t paint. The whole house was painted a sandy tan with a slight pink hue. I wasn’t crazy about it then, but I didn’t have a specific color I wanted and we were already painting every other room. So, it stayed.

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Until now.

I wanted a clean slate. It’s not that the previous color wasn’t neutral, but I just wasn’t really a fan. I wanted a more updated neutral: a light gray.

After considering the room’s furniture, accent colors, trim color, hall rug, etc. we settled on Behr’s Silver Drop. And we decided to paint the hallway, too, while we were at it.

The time came when we had a Saturday free and the weather was nice (which couldn’t hurt!), so we dove in head first. Some of Liam’s wonderful relatives, Uncle Buckle and Aunt Merrill helped us out TREMENDOUSLY by taking him to the park for a couple of hours.

Now, for those of you worried for the health of myself and my baby girl, let me assure you that I researched the safety of pregnancy and painting. We bought water-based paint, had windows open and fans going at full speed for good ventilation, and I took frequent breaks outside to get fresh air.

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When we started, I was a little disappointed that it looked so white. But I was pleased to see it “gray” up to what we’d imagined as it dried.

Also, Jonathan and I were a little nervous to do the painting alone, because we aren’t avid house painters. As it turns out, though, my husband is quite the cutter (much better than myself)! Who knew? It worked out well, too, because rolling took less time and I was able to spend less time in that part of the house.

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From start to finish, the job took us around 6 hours (we prepped and spackled the night before). We moved Liam’s crib to our room for nap time that day, and had to remove the doors (and rehang them on either end of nap) to get it to fit through, but other than that, it was a pretty predictable project.

We ended up only doing one, thick, even coat and used the better part of a gallon (for both the bedroom and hallway). So far, I don’t think we regret it. The coverage looks nice and even to me.

The hallway ended up being the harder of the two projects because of all the crazy nooks and crannies. We think it was worth it, though. It feels so much lighter and roomier.

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Some of Jonathan’s nice edging (no painter’s tape here, folks!):

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And for another angle of the room:

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Ahh, I love it. We’re pretty stoked. Now, we just need to add furniture and stuff on the walls. Just be patient 😉 We’re getting there!

One more thing, you know the nesting energy I was talking about? I wasn’t kidding. After we finished, I made a dinner of cajun honey butter pork tenderloin and green beans in the hour and a half before we went to a game night hosted by some friends of ours. I’m a little insane, I know.

And wait until you hear what we’re up to today…

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DIY: Turning a Twin Dust Ruffle into Crib Dust Ruffle

Alright, folks, the holidays have gone and the nesting urge has come! That’s right…it’s baby time!

It’s a good thing, too, because I have a lot to do to get ready for this baby! The biggest item on the agenda: turning my boy’s little bedroom into a room for two (and both for a boy and girl, no less). 🙂

I have thought and fretted a lot about what direction to take things. And although I don’t have a crystal clear picture yet, my vision is coming together. (Thanks in part to Pinterest and their secret boards where I can post varying ideas privately).

Phase one: the bedding

After much consideration, I opted to keep the bumper pads I made for Liam’s nursery. One of my goals is to minimize the amount of work I’m creating for myself. I wanted to soften up the bedding, though, and give it a more feminine touch, also freeing myself up to use some different colors as well.

Here’s the bedding I made for Liam:

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And a better shot of the dust ruffle/bed skirt that he had:

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After discussing my thoughts with my mom, I decided that a plain, off-white dust ruffle (that matched the background of my polka dot bumper pads) would work best to keep things lighter and open up my color options for other things in the room.

The trouble is, even “standard color” crib dust ruffles can be really hard to come by. I looked online and at Target and Kmart and had no luck (unless I wanted to spend $50-$100). How crazy is that?

So, I checked a few Goodwill stores (without my usual toddler companion). I’ll admit, they don’t exactly make it easy to find stuff, but their prices can’t be beat. 🙂 I didn’t have any luck finding exactly what I was looking for, but I found a nice, simple, off-white dust ruffle for a twin bed and figured I could turn it into what I wanted.

My mom, being the wonderful seamstress that she is, gave me step by step instructions, and I headed home with my $4.99 dust ruffle.

This morning, after washing the thing, I set to work. I was feeling anxious and Liam was being cooperative. 🙂

Here’s what I came home with:

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Next, I laid the old dust ruffle on top of the twin sized one, for measuring purposes. I folded one side over to the seam so that I could pin along the matching seams.

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Note: the pig fabric was not seen when in use, it’s just scrap fabric, in case you were wondering. 🙂

Next, I cut the fabric across the bottom and right sides, leaving the bottom fabric a 1/4-1/2″ bigger.

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Now all I had to do was cut the “ruffle” to fit along the bottom and right sides and sew it back together. (Note: I kept the 1/2″ seam at the top that made the ruffled part ruffled–it also gave me an easy place to sew along.) Here’s how it looked after it was pinned together:

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Then, I sewed them together, turning the thin, center fabric under slightly to that it couldn’t fray and fall apart. I also back stitched, of course, at either end.

Now, I needed to create a finished edge for my corners. I actually didn’t want it all in one piece from the sides to the bottom because the crib’s metal framing would be in the way. When I cut my ruffled edge, I left that fabric a little longer (maybe 1/4-1/2″) so that I would have room to fold it over without a gap. Also, it’s important to make sure you fold your seam under so that it will look finished when it’s right side up (i.e. how it will be on the crib).

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And here’s how she looked after sewing:

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That was it! It was ready for its debut!

The new look of the crib bedding:

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Kinda sweet, I think. And a ruffly bed skirt feels more girly to me.

For those of you who were wondering, my dust ruffle only had 3 sides instead of 4 (none at the head of the bed), which I fine by me because there will be some furniture rearranging in our future. Stay tuned. 😉

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We’re (almost) home repairmen!

Why, hello again. Happy New Year to ya!

So, do you remember my post about loving my little stackable washer/dryer? Well, the dryer went kaput a while ago. The heating element burned out, so it would run and run but not dry the clothes. It was a sad day, but those things happen. And the more you own, the more those things happen.

We did a little asking and researching and decided we wanted to learn how to fix this thing ourselves. The thing is…we aren’t handy, really. But I’m pretty unafraid for us (Jonathan) to try. 😉 We’re learning as we go. Sometimes it can be really encouraging and rewarding.

This, however, is the story of how sometimes that can make things harder.

Here’s how it went:

  • We were pretty sure that knew what part went out (that is, the heating element since the dryer was working but wasn’t heating), so we found a You Tube video that showed us step-by-step how to fix it.
  • We disassembled it (successfully!) and found this:

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See where the coil is broken at the top? Pretty obvious that it wouldn’t work if that wasn’t complete. Easy enough.

  • Jonathan bought a new heating coil and installed it (beautifully, I must say).
  • We also bought a longer power cord (10ft rather than the 6ft it had). This is because that little washer/dryer closet has the outlet at the bottom of the wall. Since the dryer sits on top of the washer, it made installation a NIGHTMARE. Trust me. When we moved in, we had to have someone extremely slender sit in the tiny space behind the appliance to be able to plug it in once it was in place. Then, they got pulled out over top of the dern thing. Can you say poor planning of whoever designed that??

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Here is how the corner of our den looked for quite a while.

  • Anyway…we plugged the dryer in and tested it–only to have it spark and smoke. We were disappointed, to say the least.
  • We took it apart again and found out that the part we replaced was burned out. AGAIN. Uggh!
  • At this point, we asked around a little more about what could’ve gone wrong. We decided that it was time to pay a professional to finish the job so that we wouldn’t be out another $70 if the part blew again.

Someone came tonight, did the same exact thing we had done and it worked. He was stumped about why it didn’t work out for us. But, he was impressed that Jonathan had gotten that far. At least that made us feel better about the whole thing.

In the end, we spent around $100 for parts, lots of time on labor and stress, 4 weeks with the inconvenience of being dryer-less in the winter (during the holidays, no less), and we could’ve paid a guy to come to our house and fix it for $85. Strange, huh? Oh, well.

The truth is, though, that neither of us feel regret. We’re pretty familiar with the inside of our dryer, at least! It really was a good learning experience.

On the other hand, we are elated to have that thing together, working, and the stupid project finished!

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Anybody else have an experience like this? Please, do, share! It will make us feel better 😀

 

 

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