The Nursery: Personal touches

Since I finally got around to showing you Corban’s nursery (I was so not one of those moms who rocked peacefully in the glider of the finished nursery while anticipating the arrival of her beloved baby – our nursery was a wreck when C was born and we still don’t even have a glider), I want to share a few personal touches we added to the room. I’m not talking about DIY things – which, yes, are personal, and are in our nursery – but rather sentimental items.

STUFFED BEAR

My parents brought this stuffed bear to the hospital with them when they came to visit the day after Corban was born. It goes along with the book “On the Night You Were Born,” which they also gave us. It took me two weeks to work up the courage to read the book, because I knew it would make me sob in my overly emotional, hormonal, post-partum state. And sob I did. Corban has lots of stuffed animals from mine and Peter’s childhoods (and gifts) in the closet, but this bear gets a special spot because it reminds me of the night he was born.

SHOWER “GUESTBOOK”

Next to the bear sits a framed photo of Corban as a newborn surrounded by a matte signed by all the ladies at the baby shower my sister threw for me. It’s so fun to remember the anticipation we all felt that day (and the entire pregnancy) and look back on everyone’s joy and excitement. Someday maybe it will be fun for Corban to see how excited my friends and family were for his arrival (but I’m not counting on it, haha).

HOOK SOUVENIR

Our trip to Tucson last August was the last big vacation Peter and I took together before becoming parents (if you consider him tagging along with me to a journalism conference a vacation). We stayed a couple extra days to celebrate our anniversary at the resort where the conference was held and I also considered it our “babymoon.” One day we went into town to do some shopping and came upon an adorable store full of handmade and vintage items, including quite a few baby things. I wanted to get something for our baby, so I picked out this hook for the nursery. It aptly fits the decor and is useful for hanging towels to dry, but most of all I love the memory it holds.

FOOTPRINT

His tiny foot at one week old. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Oh, and remember how special that photo is?

STUFFED LAMB

The only stuffed animal aside from the bear that gets to live out in the open at this point is a stuffed lamb that Peter’s mom gave us when Corban was born. It has lavender in it, which is supposed to be calming. When Corban was only a few weeks old I started setting the lamb in my lap while I would read to him and get him calmed down for bed, and now the lamb sits in our nursing chair at all times.

ELEPHANT FIGURINE

My mom gave me this little doo-dad a few years ago, and it’s been in the nursery since back when it was a guest bedroom. I love elephants. They’re my “thing.” And this little figurine I’ve loved from the start fits the nursery decor perfectly.

It’s such a comfort having little sentimental items like this around us in the nursery. If you’re a parent, what kinds of personal touches did you add to your child’s nursery?

How to make yarn balloon pendants

In tomorrow’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in honor of Mother’s Day, I have a short story on how Corban’s nursery came together. Look, it’s posted online right now if you want to read it!

So, there it is. The nursery:

I’ll write more about it in a few upcoming posts, but right now I want to share how to make the yarn balloon pendants hanging over the crib. If you remember from my inspiration board, I loved the idea of hanging paper lanterns over the crib. Then I saw balloon-shaped yarn party decorations on Pinterest, and realized they would fit perfectly with the print of an elephant being whisked away by balloons that I had already hung.

They seemed easy enough to make, so I decided to go for it. Here’s what I did:

STEP 1: Stir together an approximately 50/50 mixture of glue and water. Regular old Elmer’s works fine. You can also get by with a little more water than glue. No real need to measure it.

STEP 2: Cut about 30 to 40 3- to 5-foot pieces of yarn.

STEP 3: Blow up a balloon to your desired size and suspend it somewhere where you can get a little messy. I found that the easiest way to suspend the balloon was to pierce through the tip with a wire hanger and hang it on a rack in the laundry room.

Looking back, it might have been easier to use a safety pin instead of a wire hanger. You will also want to put some newspaper or a dropcloth underneath to catch drips.

STEP 4: Dip a piece of yarn entirely into the glue mixture. Wring it between your fingers to remove excess glue as you lift it out. Hold one end of the string at the the tip of the balloon and carefully wrap the yarn around the balloon in a random pattern. Tuck the other end of the yarn under or around itself to keep it on the balloon.

Repeat with remainder of yarn pieces until you have reached your desired coverage of your balloon (like the one below on the left).

STEP 5: Let the yarn dry for at least 24 hours. I think I gave mine a good two days, or until it was completely dry on the bottom.

STEP 6: Carefully – carefully – poke your fingers between the holes of the yarn and push the balloon away from it. You’ll hear a crunching noise as the yarn becomes unglued from the balloon. Do this all over, in every nook and cranny, until you don’t hear much of the crunching noise anymore. You don’t want the yarn to stick to the balloon in this next step (I learned this the hard way when my first yarn sculpture completely collapsed in step 7. So sad!)

STEP 7: Use a thumbtack or pin to pop the balloon. Carefully extract the balloon pieces from the center of the yarn ball and remove it from the hanger.

STEP 8: Tie a piece of yarn tightly around the top of the balloon and hang it up!

I didn’t want to put holes in the ceiling so I used some 3M Command hooks to hang mine. The pendants haven’t come crashing down yet so I consider it a success (they’re super light so even if they did, they wouldn’t hurt Baby C!)

Unfortunately, my dark blue balloon suffered some damage from curious cat explorations when they were first hung. The cats have since lost interest, and I’ve lost motivation to re-do it, but there’s always the possibility that someday I’ll replace it. I’m also considering adding another couple to fill out the area a bit.

This project wasn’t too challenging, but it was a bit mundane wrapping string after string around the balloons. In the end, it was worth it since it works so perfectly in our nursery, but as you can tell I’m not overly enthusiastic about repeating the process anytime soon.

Stay tuned for some more nursery tidbits and DIY projects in the coming week.

10 weeks old and the key to better sleep

Corban is nearly two and a half months old and life is good.

Right at the two month mark everything seemed to get drastically easier. Up until that point, nights were a gamble at best, and a huge sleepless struggle at worst. He was sleeping in a Pack ‘N’ Play in our bedroom and waking up every 2 to 3 hours, sometimes more often than that. In the wee hours, usually around 3 or 4, it would get harder to get him to fall back to sleep, so I couldn’t count on much good sleep at all for half the night.

Based on the fact that he was growing at superspeed and definitely at the size and age when they shouldn’t need to nurse every 2 hours, I figured he just really liked sucking for comfort, so I tried more diligently with the pacifier (which before he could never seem to keep in his mouth). Success! He actually liked the Nuk brand pacifiers I had gotten with some coupon package when I was pregnant. That definitely helped comfort him when he was just wanting to suck.

I was also sensing that it was time for a nighttime change — time for Little C to move into his own room.

At our two-month appointment, our pediatrician confirmed those thoughts and said it was definitely time to move him to his crib in the nursery and that at his size — a hefty 12 pounds 13 ounces and 24 inches (the 70th and 85th percentiles respectively) — he is probably not getting too hungry in the middle of the night, so if he wakes up after only two hours it’s fine to offer the pacifier.

The first night we put Corban in his crib was magical! I swaddled him, fed him and read to him, then put down our sleepy little man. He fussed for a couple minutes, but then passed out for a good five hours!

Not every night is that easy, but we can usually get him to sleep within 10 minutes of putting him in his crib. We’re sort of taking a modified cry it out approach, where we never let him fuss for more than five minutes. After five minutes, we go it, soothe him, give him the pacifier if he’ll take it and turn on soothing music (a removable attachment from the Pack ‘N’ Play that we moved to the crib).

On a good night, he’s in bed by 7 p.m., then wakes up twice in the middle of the night to eat (usually around midnight and 4:30 a.m.) and is up for the day at 7 a.m. on the dot. Sometimes then Peter will bring him into our bed and he’ll be happy or sleepy enough to lie there another hour or so while I nap or cuddle with him.

I think the fact that we don’t wake up at his every noise really helps. If he’s crying, we hear it on the monitor, but if he’s just making baby noises, it’s not loud enough to wake us up anymore. It’s also a good thing that I have to get out of bed and walk across the house to feed him. It helps me stay awake while feeding, which makes everything much more efficient.

Our evenings feel so free now that I’m not confined to the couch with a baby wanting to nurse incessantly. It’s refreshing! (Although sometimes around 10 p.m. I’ll see a picture of him and miss his warm little body that is glued to me during the day. I just have to remember he’ll be awake all too soon enough and I can snuggle him then…)

It’s amazing what a huge difference the simple act of moving him into the nursery has made! We went from unpredictable and waking 4+ times per night to a fairly reliable sleep pattern. I never thought that would happen!

In other 10-week (actually 10.5-week) news, he is smiling more and more and I cannot get enough of it! Now if he’s in a good mood (fed, rested and with a clean diaper) all it takes is someone talking to him in an overly excited voice or even making funny faces and noises and he’ll bust out a grin. Peter is trying to train him to smile at the sight of a clean diaper, and he often does, though I think it’s more because the changing table is comfortable and at the perfect height to get a good view of mom or dad.

He is definitely more visually stimulated these days, and we’ve even caught him smiling at the mobile over his swing with no other stimulation. His eyes follow us around and he loves – LOVES – to stare at lights. Anything bright and shiny, his eyes will find it and never want to turn away.

He also recently started sticking his tongue out. It is pretty cute, and I’ve been working on getting him to stick his tongue out when I stick mine out at him. I think he’s slowly starting to catch on. It’s amazing to watch his little brain develop!

Napping is the next issue that needs to be tackled. He is fine falling asleep in his crib at night, but it’s really hit or miss for naps. He prefers to nap on peoples’ chests. This is a good thing for weekends like this past one, filled with family lined up to hold him, but not so good for days like today when I need to pack for our trip to Florida and he will only sleep in his crib for a short time before getting fussy.

Side note, I think he was dreaming about flying for the 30 minutes he slept in his crib this afternoon:

I sometimes swaddle him for naps, but it doesn’t seem to make a huge difference.

As I type, he’s sleeping peacefully while I wear him in the Baby Bjorn and I’m OK with that as a short-term fix. But after our trip, naps is the next order of business.

On that note, time to get some more packing done! We will be spending the week relaxing with my grandparents and enjoying some pool and beach time. I can’t wait to dip Corban’s toes in the ocean! (Well, Gulf.)

My first contraction

Er… maybe this post should be titled “My first contraction (I think).” I still am a little bit confused as to what a contraction actually feels like.

But let’s talk about that (possibly) first one.

Two weeks ago, Peter and I were discussing what needed to be done house-wise that weekend. His top priority: painting doors for the basement. My top priority: the nursery! Specifically, moving the guest bed out of the nursery so I could finally start arranging and organizing things.

Peter thought moving the bed should wait until the basement is done so we could move it straight down there. I thought (knew) the baby would be here before the basement was done. He thought that didn’t matter and we could finish the nursery after the baby arrives (he/she will sleep in our room at first).

And eventually it turned into an emotional (on my part) and heated argument that involved me telling (yelling at) him that stress causes preterm labor and not finishing setting up the nursery soon would bring me lots of stress and you don’t want the baby to be born premature, do you???

And then, as I stormed off to get a glass of water, I felt it. At exactly the perfect moment I needed to make my point. My abs involuntarily flexed and my stomach felt tight and hard.

“Peter…” I called. “I think I’m having a contraction.”

It didn’t hurt. And of course I knew if it were indeed a contraction, it was harmless. But it was just so perfect!

“Do you see what the stress of this argument is doing to me?! I’m having my first contraction! We NEED to move the bed this weekend.”

The End.

Epilogue

We did move the bed that weekend. I don’t think it had anything to do with my unstable emotional state and questionable persuasive skills from the incident described above. But ever since the bed made its exit I’ve felt much more calm and relaxed.

The nursery: Inspiration board and new rug

I left you yesterday with the before pictures of the nursery (a.k.a. current guest bedroom). Oh, the suspense! 😉

The one thing I knew about the nursery from the beginning was I didn’t want to paint the walls. They are a very pale blue color that I think is pretty and relaxing. No need to mess with that. So the next step in my mind was finding a pretty rug that I could use as the base for the room’s accessories (and to cover up some of the burber carpet that isn’t very cozy).

I looked at just about every rug on Wayfair and Home Decorators and in a rare moment of decisiveness, picked one out. That was the base of my inspiration board on Olioboard (great site for collecting design ideas for a room).

The idea is to keep the changes simple. We’re just sprucing up the room for Baby.

I kept being drawn to turquoise, and decided that it would be a fun accent color. We already have a bookshelf almost exactly like that one in the room, and it would be easy to paint it. I picked up two mirrors at Target that we can paint the same shade of turquoise.

The first step, though, was buying the rug. Once I knew just how it looked in person, it’d be easier to plan.

Let me just preface this series of photos by saying Biggles really likes this rug. It has a new-car smell to it and it’s really soft, so after I rolled it out he proceeded to rub his body over every square inch of it.

Basil was a little more cautious about it.

My thoughts: it’s actually a different color than I was expecting. The photo on Wayfair looked gray with yellow designs. In reality, it’s more like light blue with tan designs. But I still really like it and think it will work in the room. It’s also very thick and soft. I kind of don’t blame Biggles for wanting to roll all over it.

So that’s progress, people! We have a rug.

Of course, after the shower, the room just looks like this:

I actually sort of attempted to pile things by category as I unpacked them, but there’s definitely still a lot of organizing to do.

I’d love to know, where do you go for design inspiration? I usually start with a rug (which can take years for me to pick out – I’ll tell you about that later) or browse Young House Love and other blogs. This was my first time using Olioboard, and now that I have a computer that isn’t super slow, I love it!

The nursery: Before

I have been increasingly thinking about – AND actually taking action for! – the nursery. But before I tell you all about how I want it to look, let’s take a look at some before shots.

Here’s what the nursery looked like a couple weeks ago:

That’s right, a guest bedroom! We even had guests stay in it a couple weeks ago.

The wall color in the above two photos is highly deceptive. It’s not green, but more of a very pale blue. Below it looks slightly more true to color.

Not a whole lot of progress has been made since then, but I have made a couple purchases that I will share with you later today or tomorrow. I’ll also give you a peek at my inspiration board and the few changes I plan to make to the room. It’s not much, but I’m really excited about it.

Stay tuned…