Saturday, June 30, 2012

When they get along...

The hardest thing about Jack getting older has been his assertion of his little independent self.  The kids used to get along very well, mostly because of Jack's total mellow attitude to being tackled and played with and upon.  Ella loved playing with such a willing participant.  Who wouldn't?

Then he turned two.  With that wise age came the realization that he doesn't have to take it anymore.  So he doesn't. 

It isn't like they don't like each other.  They do.  They love each other and would mostly like to play together all day, as long as the other gave in a lot.

However, playing used to mean sweet play.  Now it means lots of intervention by mom.  I've learned to recognize the sound of too much fun.  You moms know what I mean.

It's the escalation that signals the beginning of the end.  That rowdiness that nearly always disintegrates into an argument or someone getting a boo boo.  It's when self-control goes out the window.

That's why I love these moments of fun together, sharing one toy.  They're gradually becoming more common.  Progress is slow, and certainly not steady, but it is very rewarding to see.  The addition of another wee one hasn't so far messed with the equilibrium for which we are striving.  I am very thankful to see these older two band together.  I hope they are continually drawn closer as they try to be helpers for mom and dad and as we learn what it looks like to be a family of five.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Nathaniel has been an easy addition to this family.  So far, he mostly does this.

And this {even at night}.

Sometimes he does this.

But then he does this.

I know that with a newborn, these things change so fast.  There is no guarantee that a sweetly dispositioned  baby will be sweet in two weeks.  For now, though, I am so grateful for a baby who has eased into our lives, making the transition much smoother for his big brother and sister. 

Thank you, Lord, for these blessings.  Not only have you given us a healthy baby, but a happy one.  We are indeed blessed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nathaniel Reed Lewis

This little bundle was born on June 23, 2012.  He wasn't happy about it.

He finally came around and has been really docile ever since {fingers crossed}.  He rang in at a tiny {for us} seven pounds, eleven ounces, and was twenty and one fourth inches long.

He seems so incredibly teensy after a very large Ella {9.5} and a large Jack {8.14}.  Mom {and Dad} and baby are all doing well.

One of the nurses knits hats for each baby, so the first clothing this little guy ever wore is a Packer's hat. Poor lady, she doesn't know that we may be the only people in Wisconsin who couldn't care less about the Packers except that their homegames clog the highway.

When the kids got to meet him, Ella became Mommy #2 immediately.

Jack, well, he took his cue from Nate.

Don't they look alike?  Is it just me?  Is it that they both have their eyes closed?

A more aware Nate joined us Monday.

He's much loved.

Jack even thinks he's cool.

And funny, apparently.

Welcome home, Nate!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Labor pains

I've been experiencing false or pre-labor since Wednesday morning. No baby yet, but it has been a time for reflection.  I have discovered a couple of things about myself.  First, at the slightest tinge of the first contraction, I begin impulsively cleaning.  Second,  when the contraction hits, I am not nice.  Not nice at all.  Let's cover this one first.

When Ella was born, my mom and my sister were both here to help. When labor began, Rebecca, whom I love dearly, was rubbing my neck and saying comforting things to me. I interrupted her to say, "Please stop using that high squeaky voice to talk to me!"  My mom told her, out of earshot, not to worry; the contractions would get much more painful.

Thanks, Mom.

On the way to the hospital, I started telling Handsome Hero everything I could think of that he could do that would make me angry, including reading me the little encouraging Bible verses I'd spent weeks collecting. I think my list lasted until we actually reached the hospital twenty minutes later.  Once I got an epidural, though, I was as sweet as pie.  I think Handsome Hero almost kissed the anesthetist.

With Jack, as the contractions got worse, I got more irritable. My doctor came in at one point and he and Handsome Hero began a rousing discussion about the implications of Obamacare, which was new at the time. I was put out that the focus was not where it should be - on ME. I was the one in labor. I was the reason we were all here. I should have been the single focus of both my doctor and my husband, who had gotten me into this mess in the first place.

This Wednesday, when I began having contractions, I was able to get through the day pretty well. At nine-thirty, Handsome Hero was getting something to eat when I said I was in the middle of a contraction. He didn't say anything, but walked to the fridge. I was aggravated that he had walked past me without touching me to comfort me {but if he had, I probably would have been annoyed that he wouldn't leave me alone}. After the contraction, I said in my snarkiest tone, “You know, I would appreciate if you would act as if these contractions hurt.  Because they do.”  He looked at me with wide eyes and said, “You really are in labor!”  And he went upstairs and packed his stuff for the hospital, a task I had been asking him to do for three days.  Apparently, he did not realize I meant it until my crankiness signaled to him that labor was indeed imminent.

Now to my other point.  Compulsive cleanliness.  How does a woman in the beginnings of labor clean, you ask?

1.  I do half-loads of laundry just to make sure everything is always clean. 
2.  I cleaned all the doors and trim in the house, including the inside of cabinet doors, with a magic eraser. 
3.  I can't stand anything being left in the sink. 
4.  I stand over my children while they eat and sweep up any crumbs before they hit the floor. 
5.  I make the kids clean their room to the point of crawling around on the floor picking up bits of lint.

I'm not even kidding about that last one.  Or any of the others.

Yes, I would say I'm ready for this baby. 

I think my family is even more ready. 

I wonder why....

I mean, I am a perfectly reasonable person. 

Agree with me or suffer the consequences.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Kids' Room

It has been a process getting the kids' room ready.  Take a memory walk with me, will you?  Oh, and prepare yourself for a lot of photos here.

First up, the curtains.  I do love them.

Second, a bunk bed.  This made arranging a challenge, because we had to lose a window in order to fit it.  I am totally in love with the three huge drawers, though. 

It was a bit crazy in here for awhile while we tried different furniture solutions.

This was our first attempt at an arrangement, but it seemed so crowded on the bed side of the room that there needed to be a change.

And this side seemed totally empty.

The "domestic nook," while cute in theory, was too cramped for two kids.

I had originally wanted to banish the table above to the basement and instead include this spool a friend found for me.  I was planning on painting it an awesome color and using it as a table between the two toadstools.

That plan changed when we found this dollhouse at a garage sale.  It is solid wood and was only $5 including all the furniture.  I couldn't believe it.  On top of that, the guy selling it was so enamored with Ella's adorableness {I mean, who wouldn't be?} that he refused money for it, so it came to us for FREE.

It needs some decorative work {Exhibit A: the lovely Mickey Mouse paper} but the roof actually matches really well.  I'm really looking forward to working on it with Ella at some point.  Maybe it needs a garage....  Anyway, it fits perfectly on the rectangular table, so the table is staying and the spool is, at least temporarily, nixed.

So, here's the "panoramic" view of where we are today.  We'll start to the right of the door.

Handsome Hero has been working on finishing built-in bookcases for either side of the closet doors.  So far, we have one in, but not trimmed.  When you have a wife as pregnant as me, you are likely to be pulled into kid duty a little more than is helpful when you are trying to weild a router. 

Having the one bookcase is wonderful {it allowed us to move out the free-standing one}, but it's really crowded. There are only so many things you can put at a height that is easily reached by the kids.  I'm looking forward to the other bookcase being done, but I guarantee you no one is more anxious to reach completion than Handsome Hero!

Moving on, here is the yellow chair made for small buns that has a gray cushion made for large buns.

You may also notice that we painted the mirror navy. We had taken it out of the room for awhile {she kept bumping it at the height it was previously} but decided to try it again {higher and behind the chair} and so far, so good.  No bad luck here!

I would kind of like to add some type of artwork {maybe clipboards to display favorite coloring pages?} above Ella's bed, but I think prudence will win out.  Why put temptation so close?

When we moved the play kitchen over here, it allowed us to also move the ladder so that little heads going up couldn't be whacked by the ceiling fan.  It's better to use the ol' noodle than lose the ol' noodle, I always say.  Well, I've never said it before, but I'm going to start.

We hung their names in coordinating colors between the windows and added tie-backs to the curtains.

We also removed the border and redid the hoops.  Before it gets cold I'm planning to add some hooks on the wall to the right of the dresser for their backpacks and jackets and such.

So there you have it.  A room mostly done. 

I'll keep you updated on bookcases and hooks as they appear. 

Not that they just appear.  They take lots of hard work.

Just thought you'd want to know.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cushion Fail!

When we put bunk beds in the kids' room, I realized something.  Every room needs a good place to sit.  Before the bunk beds, we used Ella's bed for reading and snuggling, but now we can't fit our heads under the bottom bunk and it's not convenient to go all the way to the top.  We needed a chair, but it couldn't be too big - the room's already crowded. 

I remembered a yellow chair that was in our basement.  It used to live in our piano room.

This picture is from when we first moved in.  You can see the paint swatch on the far wall that later became green.  It became green because I painted it green.  It didn't just become, if you know what I mean.

I tried to sell the chair on craigslist as a project when we first moved here, but no one wanted it.  What exactly does that say?  I decided to keep it as an upholstery project because it's comfortable and has a nice shape.  It even used to be pretty.  I found it at a consignment shop years ago, and it was in good condition then, but the fabric in which it was upholstered isn't very heavy duty, and finally the cushion ripped open right in the front and center, totally unrepairable. 

As I looked at it, I realized it only needed a cushion replacement.  The rest, though not pristine, isn't in bad shape, and I don't really want a pristine chair for the kids' room anyway!

So I took the cushion, and filled my trunk with leftover foam and some coordinating fabric, and headed to a friend's house who is an expert in this stuff.  I'm comfortable with a staple gun, but doing upholstery that needs a needle and thread is scary to me, so I consulted.

Here's what I learned.

1.  Making a cushion is harder than it seems.  Or seams.  Get it?  I told Elizabeth I'd be home by lunch.  I got home at nearly 6:00, friends!  It was a seven hour project from beginning to end.

2.  If you must piece your foam, make sure you have enough so that you are only using two pieces, max.  This foam puzzle was disastrous, but I was using what I had on hand because foam can be really expensive. And like I said, this is for a kids' room, so I while I wanted it to look nice, it wasn't something I felt needed to be professional.  Not the best attitude, my friends.

We put two layers of foam against each other, both in pieces but with the seams at different places, and used spray adhesive to attach them.

Then we covered the whole thing in layers and layers of batting, hoping that it would help the seams not show and would contain the foam.

Then my friend showed me how to do the cushion.  I took some pictures, but not enough to truly give an explanation, so I won't bother, though it's the only part of the project we did right!  But after all, I did tell you that this was a cushion fail, so you shouldn't have high expectations.

3.  Finally, when redoing a seat cushion, make sure your chair is available as a size guide!  We worked on the cushion at my friend's house, which is thirty minutes away from my house.  When I finally got home and put it in the chair, I discovered something.


After seven hours of working on this cushion, I had to stuff and smoosh it into the seat.  It is literally three inches too long and three inches too wide.  How we measured so poorly when we had the original cushion as a template is beyond me.  I stepped back, started to titter, then snort, and then I just lost it.  I think Elizabeth thought I was in early labor and was getting hot water ready. 

But you know what?  The kids don't care.  They think it's sooo cool.

And that makes it fine. 

Funny, but fine. 

Hilarious, but fine.

And that is good, because I can tell you that one project that will not be redone anytime soon is that seven-hour monster cushion.