Monday, June 15, 2015

a place to sit

Rob once again brought one of my visions to life! It was a little different working on a project with a six month old around the house so most of the construction and work fell on Rob who did a great job! 

In our small house we have to be creative when it comes to our use of space! Our kitchen is one of the places we were a little uncomfortable in because there was no space to sit while we were in there together, feeding the babe or making dinner. We also don't have a lot of storage in our small kitchen and there are some items that we have to bring up from the basement every time we want to use them (read: crockpot, griddle, dutch oven)

Out of this, came the idea to add an eat in area to the kitchen. A bench was the original idea and after looking through lots of ideas we decided to put forth a little extra effort and make it into a storage area - imagine how thrilled Rob was that my plan kept getting more and more grand haha! 

I'll post the "step by step" below but will not include measurements because each space is different anyway! If anyone would like more details - please contact us!

- 2 sheets of plywood
- 6, 8ft 2x4's
- 1, 1x4 (poplar)
- 2 Piano Hinges
- tack nails
- wood screws
- wood glue
- stain
- polycrylic

We removed the existing moulding where the bench would be installed so it would be flush against the wall. 

Using 2x4's that were measured and cut appropriately, Rob laid the base of the bench - we laid a base instead of trimming in the sides in order to end up with the most storage space we could get. 

Once the base was laid, Rob cut one of the sheets of plywood down and installed it as the floor of the storage compartment. 

Next, Rob built in the vertical and horizontal supports on the back walls. There wasn't a great need to measure the distance between vertical supports because the project wasn't very large - we would recommend every 18-24 inches if the project is larger. 

Rob then screwed in the plywood "fronts" of the bench so the final supports would have something to be secured to.

In this picture you can see where Rob installed the cross supports behind the front walls of the bench, again this was a decision we made based on the size of the project. We decided that adding wood in the corner to make a square would create the best support for that space since the lid would not be lifting there. 

The smaller pieces of wood (the poplar that we had ripped) was cut to be the part of the lid that goes against the wall. We needed to add something that the hinges could connect to.

Once everything was cut to fit, I stained the lids and poplar back boards. I decided three coats was the magic number and gave me the color I wanted. I let it dry for 24 hours before we installed. 

Before installing the lids (while the stain was drying) I painted the fronts with white, kitchen grade paint and stained the tops of the frame with the same color as the lids so that the seams would be less visible. 

We started the the process of laying down the lid by glueing and then tacking in those poplar boards along the walls. Then we installed the corner square of the lid (again with glue and tack nails). It was all easy peasy and fitting nicely. 

Then came time for the hinged tops to be installed. Let me tell you, PIANO HINGES ARE THE WORST. We centered and screwed them into the lifting lids first because we wouldn't have been able to get to them otherwise. Can you imagine how exciting it was to hold a large wooden lid level and have someone else try to screw it in at the same time? It was thrilling. We just had to get one screw in on each end and then Rob could handle the rest - never have two screws been more difficult! 

Overall it was a pretty simple project and we are so proud of the result! Rob did an awesome job and it looks better than I could have imagined! We still need to install the finishes on the face but I'm not sure what I want it to look like so we will leave that unfinished for a while. 

It's been so nice to have baby boy's big high chair stand out of the way. Now that we are able to put that actually seat right on the bench, we save lots of space in the kitchen! 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

a community of moms

I have recently realized that having a community of moms to learn from and share with is the most helpful resource when it comes to baby rearing. I am so thankful for the moms that I can call on with questions and concerns; moms with older children and those with babes the same age as our boy.

Everyone gets through trials and manages the hard days differently and every mom has her tricks of the trade. Hearing alternatives from other moms on those hard days makes life a little smoother.

The best part about learning from other moms is that not one mom is better than another and we all seem to know that. It's all about encouragement and suggestion, listening to each others problems carefully before giving any response. Even from afar moms can be a blessing to one another - a word of kindness goes a long way.

To my wonderful community of Moms,
Thank you for your encouragement, prayer, genuine enthusiasm and love throughout these first six months of motherhood. You have been more helpful than you will ever know!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I get by with a little help

Friday was not a great day for me and baby. The day seemed to go on and on and our precious boy would not nap. Our boy is as sweet as they come but even he reached his limit around 12pm and the rest of the day was a disaster. I don't know if it was a lack of patience on my part but for some reason I was easily frustrated and brought to tears. In my mind I knew that tears were useless and that bad days happen, but in the middle of it I couldn't hold them back. These are the days I am glad our son will never remember!

When Rob came home that night I was more relieved than ever before. He took our son from my arms and let me gather myself, shower and hit refresh on a rough day.

Saturday and Sunday were wonderful days, completely opposite from Friday. Though we did nothing out of the ordinary, Rob gave me a ton of help (he's always super helpful but he was more amazing than ever this weekend) and I was even able to be out and about for almost three hours alone. I laughed whenever our son would fall asleep with ease as Rob put him down and I jokingly deemed that he had "the touch"! Even though I was kidding I realized that I had something to learn from my wonderful husband.

Rob rarely gets truly overwhelmed. It's such a gift for someone like me who can sometimes feel like I'm teetering on the edge of an emotional cliff. He keeps me sound.

When Monday came and Rob went back to work I decided that in his absence I would "channel him!"  I rocked our son, breathing evenly and calmly, thinking "What would Rob do?" (Maybe I should get bracelets made! HA) That night when I told him about my successful day he laughed. He thought it was a funny way to help me but he was happy that he did; I was too!!

I'm so thankful for my husband. He helps me in ways that he doesn't even know and boy is it nice to have him in this parenting adventure with me!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mommy Moments: Jabbering in Public

At first glance, you'd think I'm just an ordinary lady shopping in Target at 11am on a weekday. I walk down all the aisles I won't make a purchase from but browse anyway just for fun. If you got closer you would hear one side of a pretty simple conversation - maybe it's just a best friend on the line listening to me talk about Target's many wonders. When you got close enough to get a good look, you'd realize that there isn't a phone in my hand (or a blue tooth in my ear)... would you think that I was crazy? If you looked a bit closer you would see that in my basket my little four month old boy is hanging on my every word while I jabber on about nothing. 

The other day, as I was walking through Target I found myself talking to our son about the colors on the items I was putting in our basket, all the "pretty lights," and all the fun items that he would enjoy when as he gets older (ie Legos with his daddy). Though I might have seemed like a crazy lady from afar, I was in fact experiencing such joy seeing my boy smile as I showed him the striped onesies I was buying him for summer! 

I love that our outings now include interaction instead of being a nap time for baby boy. I love seeing his smiles, watching him react to ladies that want to say hi, and hearing the jingle of his giraffe as I pick items off the shelf. 

Each stage of Motherhood has been awesome so far and boy, do these boys change fast!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mommy Moments: Turn my way

Baby R is four months old now! Four joyous months have passed since this girl became a momma and it has been wonderful!

Our sweet boy changes on a daily basis! He is in a new size of clothing, he reaches for things, he plays with toys, he's found and chews on his feet, and he smiles incessantly!


In the past couple weeks Baby R has started to really recognize his daddy and me. When we walk into a room, he turns his head toward us and lights up with a sweet smile! When I get home from work I love seeing his face crinkle up as I say hello to him! There is such pure joy in that smile and when it is directed solely at me, there in lies a Mommy Moment. I am treated by the joys of these Moments that even on those hard days (yes, they do happen) I can rest in the knowledge that I am the only momma Baby R is looking for and I am completely capable of taking care of his needs.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Guest Blogger: 5 Fresh Ideas for Decorating with Air Plants

Today we have a guest blogger from Modernize! Enjoy these fun and simple ways to freshen your home with some greenery without all the dirt and mess! 


Let's face it, gardening with traditional plants is downright messy. With all the soil, amendments
and fertilizer necessary, growing plants indoors may not be your favorite past-time in the world
— especially when bugs show up. When you still want the beauty of nature without tracking soil
everywhere, air plants are your solution. With their exposed roots, they pull moisture from the air
instead of a soil mound. Decorate with air plants to get the most out of these unusual species
and add a bit of nature to your home.

1. Create a Candle Centerpiece

Take a look at this candle gracing the table. Although the birdcage surrounding it is elegant, the
table is missing a natural element. Use an oval tray as a centerpiece, placing the candle in the
center and surround it with air plants. You literally arrange them around the candle with no
soil necessary. You'll simply need to spray the plants with misty water periodically (experts also
suggest immersing the plants in water once a week for 15-30 minutes) to keep their roots
happy. Conversations start immediately over the dinner table with these decorations.

2. Frame Them as Artwork

Those frames up there look lonely, so fill them with air plants. Add some wire mesh into the
open frame for root support. Fishing line works perfectly as a connector between this mesh and
the plants. The foliage will appear to grow out of the wall when you're done creating the frames.
Fill all of these frames or sporadically decorate a wall with just one framed piece. Vertical
gardens are incredibly powerful decorations for a visual treat.

 Via Zillow Digs

3. Simulate Chandeliers

While this air plant looks like a jellyfish come alive, you can use this upside-down idea to create chandeliers. Take several rectangular containers with complementary colors. Add your air plant
to them, using fishing line to hold the roots to the container. Attach the container upside down
over a table, dangling it just like a chandelier. Add as many other "plant chandeliers" around the
first one for a distinct natural look in a sitting or dining room.

Via Houzz

4. Try Container Gardening

Take almost any container out of this image and make it into an air plant garden. Remove all the
container's contents and add a colorful "soil." Because the soil is truly for aesthetics, go crazy
with texture. Sand, pebbles, rocks and other items are perfectly suited to this container
environment. The plant itself could be the focal point, or add small accents around it. From
another contrasting air plant to a piece of rolled wood, the container garden is more than unique
with some imagination.

5. Create a Rock Sculpture

It's okay if you don't have this elaborate crystal for your air plant. Any rock type you find is
perfect for the project. Fit the plant's roots into rock crevices to make it appear as if it's emerging
from this substance. In reality, use that fishing line again to make the plant secure against the
rock. The roots can wrap around the rock in time, but the initial creation needs more support.
Place these decorations in bathrooms or guest rooms for a grand effect.

Via Houzz

Looking for more home decor ideas, tips and inspiration? Go to Modernize!

By Jane Blanchard

Thursday, February 19, 2015

How to: Wooden Arrow Wall Decor

Rob and I wanted Baby Rebhan's nursery to be perfect. We looked at lots of pictures and decided on certain elements we liked. We chose to make whatever we could instead of buying. It was fun to create items from simply looking at a picture and we saved lots of money doing it that way! 

One of my favorite elements in the nursery is the wooden arrow decal above our son's crib. It was a simple project that we finished in one day and it makes a big statement! 

Here is a step by step of how we completed this simple project!! 

1. GETTING SUPPLIES: We went to Home Depot to buy the wood, metal plates, screws, and brackets to hang our finished product.
For three arrows:
   - Wood: 2 Poplar 1x5 boards (6 feet each)
   - 3 L-shaped Metal Plates
   - 1inch screws
   - 3 picture hanging toothed brackets 

2. MAKING THE CUTS: We cut each board into 6 individual sections. We saved wood by making angled cuts instead of later trimming rectangles. The first cut should start at the bottom corner of the board while it's laying flat on your saw; cut a 45 degree angle off the end. You'll end up with a small triangle falling off the full board. The rest of the cuts should be measured from the bottom of the board, we chose to use 10 inch increments. The image below is a representation of the first segment only, imagine the board extending to the right (another small triangle will fall off the far end too). 

3. SANDING: After cutting the boards (see all the extra triangles in the photo below!), we sanded them so there were no rough edges from the cutting. We didn't spend a lot of time making the boards perfect because no one would ever touch them. We just made sure there were no frayed ends!

4. STAINING: After wiping any remaining sanding dust off the boards, I used old rags to apply Minwax Wood Stain in Special Walnut 224. Fortunately, we had this stain lying around the house (I had bought it for a previous project but ended up using another color). I like to use rags because the stain goes on in a thin layer verses using foam brushes and having to wipe off the access later. I also like it because you can see the result immediately. I ended up using two coats, I thought about three but figured it would be too dark compared to the other wooden elements in the nursery. We chose not to seal the arrows because, again, no one was going to be touching them and they wouldn't ever be exposed to high amounts of moisture (read water rings). 


5. ASSEMBLY: After all the boards were dry I matched them up in groups of four that fit best together. Even though they are all cut the same, there is always some human error. Once they were matched, I was able to pick which side of each board I liked the best. Because some have knots and some don't the stain is a little different on each piece. After I decided what pieces went best together, I laid the arrow face down and lined up the metal plate. I decided to put the screws in with a screwdriver instead of an electric drill with just a little (wo)man power! I was worried that the electric drill would split the wood and I didn't want to have to start over! Once the arrows were whole, I attached my hooks. I found that the "center" of the arrow was above the top corner of the metal bracket and that's where I nailed in the hooks (not pictured).  

6. HANG IT UP! It's as simple as that, hang on desired wall and enjoy!! 

I hope this can inspire you to create your own version of something you found online! It can be fun to create without guidelines but if you need them, here they are! Please let us know if you have any questions by commenting here or emailing us. As always, ENJOY and show us what you come up with!! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Parenting Favorites!

1. Fisher-Price Newborn Rock 'n Play:

We received this portable bassinet as a gift from Rob's Aunt and Oma. We hadn't registered for it but it ended up being our most used item in the first 6 weeks of Baby Rebhan's life! It's so light weight, folds down to almost nothing so it's easy to store when not in use and it was perfect to keep our new baby propped up while he slept. Ours didn't have any noise or vibration but some do. This is a new baby MUST HAVE in our book! 


2. Fisher-Price Infant to Toddler Rocker:

This transition rocker was another gift that we did not register for but are so happy that we received (thanks Meaghan and Abby)! The base can either be stationary or a rocker, the back adjusts to become a seat for toddlers and the entertainment bar is removable. Our son enjoyed the seat when it was just a rocker but now that he can pay attention to and marvel at the swinging objects, he finds this seat to be a blast! It's perfect for the kitchen when I'm cooking because it keeps him entertained for quite some time! It's also a really nice size for our small home! 


3. Carter's Sherpa Hooded Jacket and Baby Gap Bike Onesie:

These gifts aren't necessarily must-haves, but they both made Rob and I melt the first time Baby Rebhan wore them! The Carter's bear hoodie is so soft and cuddly and the ears are so precious. Baby R wore this for the first time on our way home from the hospital (thank you Hawkins)!


The Baby Gap Bike onesie is my favorite full outfit on our boy. It's made of such cozy soft cotton and it's a perfect fit on our little man. Every time he wears it I text our neighbors a picture of him in it (they bought it for him); i'm so smitten with him in these duds! 


4. Summer Infant Swaddle Me:

Rob calls these the auto-swaddle! When Baby R was very little I would swaddle him with his Aden and Anais swaddling blankets, but as he got stronger he was able to break free almost every time we wrapped him up. Rob never really got the hang of the blanket swaddle so he would always use the Summer Infant swaddles. Once we realized he wasn't able to escape from the velcro swaddles we switched over full time. They are such a help for a squirmy baby; he sleeps so well in them! Plus look at that cute little tooshie while he cuddles with his Grandma!! 


5. Aden and Anais Burpy Bibs:

I can't remember if we registered for these but if we didn't, I'm sure happy we got a couple! These are burp cloth/bib combos. The cloth is shaped kind of like a kidney bean so it fits perfectly over our shoulders for burping and it also has a snap on it for use as a bib! They are cute, offer full coverage, and are super absorbent.


+ 1. Little Remedies Little Noses Saline Drops/Spray:

This is an extra item on our favorites list today! Our neighbors had a little boy three months before our son was born! He is such a cutie, isn't he!? I asked her what their most surprising favorite baby item has been and she told me about these Saline Nose Drops. She said that they are a perfect replacement for the snot bulbs (they creep us out) and seem to be more effective anyway! We are so grateful to have neighbors going through first time parenthood with us, we can't wait until our boys are friends!! 


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

bittersweet feelings

Yesterday, while cleaning around the house, I looked into our son's closet and realized that he has grown out of all his newborn clothes. Some he grew out of quickly, others he was still able to wear around his skinny waist but now he looks like he's waiting for a flood! Seeing as though he's almost 3 months, I decided that it was time to retire all the itty bitty clothes and move fully into 0-3 months. Yes, our baby is a long skinny dude!! 

Packing up his coming home outfit, his first Christmas onesie and many other outfits he wore to experience "firsts" had me feeling some seriously bittersweet feelings. As his mom, I burst with pride with every ounce he gains and every developmental milestone he hits or surpasses, but every day that he grows and learns something new is a day closer to exiting babyhood.

I know we still have a long ways to go before it is over but every single day with our boy is a beginning and an end; there in lies the bittersweet feeling. Thankfully the beginnings are so exciting and breathtaking, yet another great design in God's plan of motherhood!!

Many experienced moms have told me that even though some days can be bittersweet, the best is yet to come. Even after just 12 weeks, I completely believe them! 


Friday, February 13, 2015

my opinion on opinions

Over these past eleven weeks I have come to one conclusion: There are way too many opinions on how to raise children. People are so opinionated and even the published "professionals" differ so greatly, how are we supposed to know what's right?

The internet gives countless options for sleep patterns. One pediatrician says that swaddling is no longer "allowed", while another encourages it. Strangers scold you for taking your baby out of the house too soon. Pacifiers are evil to some and life savers to others.

With all these opinions how are confused new parents supposed to make decisions?

I was guilty of doing countless google searches on whether or not things are "normal" about our boy, which of course they were and continue to be. Rob encouraged me to stop the searching altogether. Admittedly, I just minimized the frequency and am more cautious about what sources I read from but I guess that's better than nothing!

After the first two weeks of being home with our boy, we decided that we would just do what felt right and natural for us as a family. We knew the big "no-no's" and we had been to birthing class with a bringing the baby home section. We knew that even if we had a bad day here and there in the beginning, a schedule would emerge that worked best for our family. Well, thankfully we were right and it has!

Personally, I am so glad we went that route! Now, eleven weeks later we have a loose but stable schedule and a happy, easy-going baby that can sleep in a noisy room, doesn't fuss on outings, loves to be swaddled and can take or leave a pacifier.

This is not to say that people haven't had great success with the methods on the internet. All I am saying is that if there seem to be too many opinions to sort through, maybe it's best to set them aside and see what feels natural for a while. Sometimes the research will end up being best or maybe you'll end up with a nice mix of research and natural timing. Just feel it out and please don't ever think you can't do it! YOU CAN!!

The other day, I was visiting with a friend who just gave birth to her second daughter. She told me that when she doesn't quite know what to do she just asks herself, "How would the pioneer women have done it?" As we laughed it dawned on me: although I am SO thankful for modern medicine and all the advancements that have been made since the pioneer days, I know that if they could do this so can I!

For all you moms feeling like the first weeks are "the worst," I promise that they go fast! We are almost to the three month mark (which I can't believe!) and while I'm no professional, I feel confident in saying that things "normalize" more quickly that it seems they would!

But hey, don't take it from me, this is just another opinion after all!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mommy moments: One Long Hour

This past Sunday was the first time that we had a truly inconsolable baby on our hands. Usually when our son is cranky it's for a normal baby reason: he's hungry, he's tired, he's got a dirty diaper or he's uncomfortable. Normally it's a quick fix to get a smile back on his face, all we have to do is directly address the problem and it's solved.

Sunday was not a normal day. Baby Rebhan, having not slept well on Saturday night, just barely made it through his Great Grandma's 92nd birthday party on Sunday afternoon. By the time we got home our boy was not a happy camper. We tried all the "tricks" we have learned in the last two months but nothing was working. 

It was the first time that Rob and I looked at each other and actually said "what do we do now?" For a moment it felt we would never be able to satisfy our boy and that not knowing how to help him right away made us less capable as parents. One long hour later, I was cuddled with our sleeping son on the glider in his nursery feeling like the most capable mommy in the world. 

This mommy moment came when I felt the least like one. Even when I was feeling incapable and none of my tricks were working, I was able to calm my son. It took an hour of singing, rocking and cuddles that, looking back, I wouldn't exchange for anything.

It seems crazy to be thankful for the rough parenting moments but they put the rest of our days into perspective. We live a life with the sweetest, happiest baby and I couldn't be a happier mommy. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Making it all fit

Now that we have lived here for more than a year the basement has undergone some renovation, reorganization and most recently we've changed it's function.

When we first moved in we used the basement as an office of sorts. Rob's computer was down there as was my crafting desk, so we used the space to work on projects and hang out while the other was working. It wasn't decorated, there was barely any furniture and it felt like a dark basement. It was a waste of much needed space in our small home. 

Over the summer we decided that we wanted to have some part of the house, other than our bedroom, that was carpeted. We figured with a baby on the way we should have some space to put toys and let a babe romp around without fear of falling on the hardwood or marble flooring. The basement seemed like the best option since it would mean that we wouldn't have to cover any of the original wood floors. Plus the existing basement carpet was horrendous so it was the perfect choice. Below is a picture from when the laundry room flooded, yet another reason to rid the basement of it's old floor covering. 

The original carpet in the basement was directly on the cement floor so it was hard as a rock. We called Empire and it was a simple process that was started and finished in two days. We chose a very neutral color but added padding and a deeper plush to the carpet itself; much more acceptable for a baby to crawl all over and the change made the basement feel more like a part of the house. 

You can see in the picture on the left above that we left the original carpet 
on the stairs because we plan on refinishing with a rustic wooden stairway. 

Once the carpet was installed, we needed a place to put the furniture that had been in the den because that room would now be the nursery. This is when we had to do some problem solving, without getting rid of any furniture we had to add a whole new room to our house. 

Rob's desk moved up into the nook in our bedroom where the dogs beds used to be. Moving his desk created space in the basement for the futon and one of the black side tables that was formerly in the den. We also took the tv and buffet from the living room and moved it one floor straight down. Now we have a living room on the main floor and a family room in the basement. The black cubicle unit is now part of an entertainment unit in our bedroom and the only piece we retired was the red chair... it had seen better days. 

The transition happened little by little but now it seems like this is the way our house should have been set up all along. We stretched the little bit of space we have as far as it will go and we are very happy with the way it feels now!