Monday, June 30, 2014

Kid (and Adult) Craft Room

When I was growing up, I did not have a play room. This, combined with a lack of sufficient toy storage (furniture or containers) in my bedroom, meant that my toys cluttered up my bedroom (as well as any other room that I could get away with leaving them in).

So, now that I'm a mom, I want to make it a priority to give my kid(s) enough space to store his(their) things - toys, art supplies, and games. Currently, I am in the process of setting up a kids’ craft space even though my kid is under one year old! (#BePrepared) This space will also double as my own crafting / creating space.

The one thing from my childhood bedroom / home that I wish I had was a small (11"x14"?) poster-sized photograph of a full moon at night. I’ve tried to find something similar on Etsy but have not been successful yet.

Main Goals for my Kids’ and Adults’ Craft Room:
  • Plenty of space to create
  • Plenty of space to store supplies
  • It will be okay to get it messy
  • It will be inspiring and colorful
  • It will be (relatively) cat-proof
Additional Goals:
  • Have white walls with pops of color
  • Display my child's(children's) artwork and create artwork together
  • Specialize - instead of storing every craft item imaginable, I will be focusing on paper crafts and cross stitch for me, and coloring and painting for the kiddo(s)
  • I will cover a normal trashcan with a print of constellations or some map-like print
  • The sheets on the daybed are actually green, not rainbow stripes like in the mood board
  • I have a love/hate relationship with the rug in this space


Buyers' Remorse

Inspired by this post on Design*Sponge, I started thinking about my biggest purchasing regrets. They are:
  • 85% of all the shoes I've ever owned
  • A pressure cooker
  • A rug for my office

First, the shoes! Women's shoes never seem to fit my feet, which are wide at the ball of the foot and narrow at the heel, so 98% of all women's shoes are uncomfortable for me (except for tall boots, which somehow fit me). Other than my boots and my wedding shoes (some gloriously impractical steel blue high heels), I regret all of my shoe purchases because they never, ever fit. I'll try on everything in a store, none will fit, and then I'll convince myself that one of them did and go home with it. This includes running shoes - I've bought ones that are a size small and a size big to try and get something to fit and none ever do. Shoes I've regretted.

Second - the pressure cooker, which I registered for as a wedding present (technically I did not buy it) - I have never, ever used it. I'm too afraid to operate it and injury myself, yet I feel too guilty to donate it since it was a present and since I hope that someday I will muster up the courage to try it (probably while wearing safety googles because I'm still a scaredy-cat).

Third, the rug for my office - it sheds like crazy and it's probably too small for the space. I still like its design and colors, and I did get it for a good price on sale. But, I will never again buy a rug that is less than 7 feet in any direction - it's just not practical if you don't want to keep stepping on the ridged rug-to-floor transition area every 5 minutes.

Monday, June 23, 2014

House Tour, Master Bedroom

Earlier this year, after evaluating my "before bedroom," I created a Mood Board for my Bedroom. Some of the changes I have not implemented yet, like changing the wall color to "Meander Blue" by Sherwin Williams (instead of the current blue color, which is darker and less minty).

For reference, here is the "before" bedroom.
Here are the changes I made:
  • Got a gray headboard, thus making the bed the focus of the room
  • Got a white and tan duvet
  • Got a silver tray*
  • Got Euro shams
  • Got handmade ceramic bowls
  • Got a blue vase
  • Got a rope lamp, thus enhancing the beachy vibe
  • Got a blue rug, thus adding warmth
  • Got a grid-style gray table for left side of bed, thus replacing a wimpy magazine rack
  • Cut down trees outside right bedroom window, thus letting in more light
  • Installed a shelf for pictures, thus freeing up space on the top of the dresser
  • Installed a ledge for makeup, and got a mirror to go above it
  • Installed a hook*
*It's not visible in my photos.

The room is now better suited to reading because the new grid nightstand is higher, thus elevating my reading light, and because the euro shams and headboard are comfy to lean against. The room now also has added functionality as a makeup application area - my "makeup station" has a round mirror plus a ledge on which to store makeup brushes and a tin box containing eye shadow.

What I'm Not Going to Implement from the Mood Board
Much as I like the idea of having a plant in this room, my cats are not going to let that happen, so I'm not planning to add another potted plant (after doing so again and failing miserably, again). Also, although accent pillows are very cute, it's just not worth it to me since the bed already has four pillows (two Euros and two regulars) - taking off the two Euro ones is enough of a hassle without adding another pillow to the equation.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Cross Stitch Snake Pattern

It is hard to find a snake cross stitch pattern, but since 2013 was the year of the snake, I wanted to. I found one online that seemed to have that friendly nursery vibe I wanted, but I didn't like the colors, so I created my own in Adobe Illustrator with colors that I like better.

How I created this in Illustrator CS5: I set up my project as a 5 x 5 inch document in RGB mode* (File -> Document Color Mode -> RGB Color) with the grid set to major grid lines every 1 inch and 14 minor grid lines per inch (Edit -> Preferences -> Guides and Grid -> grid line every 1 inch and 14 sub-divisions), and snap-to-grid turned on (View -> place check-mark next to Snap to Grid). Obviously, I made sure my grid was visible (View -> place check-mark next to Show Grid). I created each box as a separate square using the Rectangle Tool. To select all of the squares in a given color, I used the Magic Wand Tool.

*Note: If you are creating an image primarily for print copies (from a printer), then choose CMYK mode. I chose RGB mode because I wanted to publish this graphic on the web.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Six-Month Kid Update

Inspired by this post from Emily Henderson, I'm doing my own 6-month update (1 month late)...

Day to day...
Most days have the same rhythm and schedule, enough said.

Currently, SeriousKiddo gets formula as well as baby food. If I could get people to do just one thing it would be to get them to be more understanding in that breastfeeding is harder for some people than for others. I was all set to breastfeed until I actually had my baby. He never, ever was able to nurse on me (hello pumping). And I did not produce enough milk – on my best day of pumping ever, I got 10 ounces (total, not per boob). Most days, we’re talking about 6 pumping sessions (sometimes up to 8 sessions) and 4.5 ounces of milk per day (total) – spending 30 minutes pumping and then cleaning equipment times for 6 sessions a day equals 3 hours of pumping activities per day WITHOUT the baby. Pumping means I couldn’t hold my baby because, duh, I was all hooked up. I was so tired of people asking me “why can’t he just latch on?” and “why can’t you produce more milk?” and their inuendo that I was somehow not trying hard enough. After 6 months of trying desperately to breastfeed, my body stopped producing milk altogether (I happened to be fighting back-to-back colds at the time, possibly a contributing factor). I am writing all of this in the hope that someone, anyone, reads this and decides to be more understanding. We, and our babies, are all made differently – breastfeeding may be awesome for one family and totally unworkable for another family.

Baby food...
I have no issues or concerns with paying $1.50 per container for Gerber 1st Foods (example). We started with veggies when SeriousKiddo was 5 1/2 months old. Within the last few weeks (when SeriousKiddo was around 6 3/4 months old), we started adding in baby food that had meat (turkey) or fruit. We didn't add fruit to his diet earlier because we didn't want him to develop a sweettooth, and so far it has worked! He will eat anything, except possibly cereal. He does not seem to like baby oatmeal or Cheerios.

Work life balance...
It has been challenging to say the least. Some people "get it" and others don't. By "get it", I mean that they are generally understanding or sympathetic. And it's not necessarily the people I would have expected... some people who don't have kids have been really understanding (these folks are usually petowners) - God bless these people. And some guys who I normally don't talk to have gone out of their way to come and tell me that when their kids were little (ages 0 - 5 years old), it was the BEST time of their lives - so sweet! But, there have been a couple of women who I would have thought would be understanding (they after all have kids) but they have actually been the opposite - they have been totally dismissive of anything I say that is even slightly negative (it can't all be roses). I listen carefully whenever they talk about their problems - I'm not asking for reciprocity, but a little tolerance when I'm having a less than stellar day would be nice.

Luckily, SeriousKiddo is pretty good about going to sleep, unless something is bothering him (like if he has cold, or if he is over-tired, or if he is teething). We haven't done "sleep training.” We just put SeriousKiddo down in his crib, which is in a separate room from us, and then we wait. First, we wait beside his crib, and tuck him in, rub his back, turn on his sound machine. If he starts to go to sleep, we leave the room. If he does not go to sleep, then we just assume he's not ready for bed yet, and we pick him up, feed him, hang out with him in another room, etc. We try to keep his crib a place for sleep only, so if he's not falling asleep, we don't want him in there. Once we leave his room while he's starting to drift off, we still listen, and if he starts to stir, we go back in there. Sometimes, it is as simple as putting his pacifier back in. If it's not that simple, then we'll pick him up and go hang out some more in the other room together with him. I basically just do whatever the baby wants - if he wants sleep, I'll let him, and if he doesn't, then I don't push the issue. Some days he sleeps much more than others – I'm not here to judge his schedule - I just support him in whatever he feels like doing.

Parenting Philosophy...
It would be difficult to summarize my parenting philosophy, but here are some things I am going to try to do:
- Support SeriousKiddo in whatever he wants to do (whatever he wants to be, whoever he wants to love...)
- Introduce him to art (but if he doesn't like it then I won't push it)
- Give him a happy childhood (adulthood is hard, so I'd like his kidhood to be as wonderful as possible)
- Set boundaries (no matter how cute it is, I am not going to laugh when he yanks my glasses off)

Support from family and friends...
Generally it has been amazing. I could not do parenthood alone. I feel incredibly grateful. I basically hibernated for the first few months of SeriousKiddo's life - his crying was unpredictable, it takes a ton of stuff to travel with him, I was learning and getting used to new routines for us, I was afraid of germs and him or I getting sick, and I was generally feeling stressed out all. the. time... It has been hard to bounce back from that period of hibernation now that SeriousKiddo is easier to travel with (because his crying is more predictable and I'm now better able to know what I need to do to prevent or stop it). Starting around month 4, and especially after month 5, it has been easier to go places with him and see people.

Creative pursuits or lack thereof...
I haven't been painting (I do watercolors), but that's because my "office" is not separated from the baby's room and he's sleeping a lot. I do not want to wake him up. However, I'm slowly getting set up to do art again. In the mean time, I'm finding something really reassuring and relaxing about cross stitch.

My post-baby body...
I have lost the weight in that I actually weigh less now than when I got pregnant. But, my body is definitely NOT the same as it used to be. For starters, my hips are wider. Most of my pre-baby jeans will never fit again – my bones are actually wider. It’s not flab – it’s that the baby realigned my bones. I used to have narrow hips and shop in the juniors section for size 7 jeans because adult jeans didn’t fit my narrow hips. And now, I finally have woman hips (which is kinda a bummer because juniors’ jeans are dirt cheap). Also, I have a stomach pooch (bulge) where the baby used to be. Although totally not sexy, I look at this pooch and think to myself, “Well, baby #2 could go in there some day, so I’ll worry about this later… like 10 years later.” I’m counting my calories and fitting in walks (down the block, around a store…) whenever possible, but I'm not hugely concerned about how my body looks right now.

And I thought organizing my digital media (photo files) was hard before the baby. OMG - I have photos I took, photos family took and emailed me, Facebook photos, Twitter photos... It's overwhelming. And despite that I now have all these great photos, I simultaneously feel like I need more photos, yet I am worried that I will lose the photos I already have. My favorite mode of communication right now is probably Twitter, but I wish that more of my Facebook friends were on Twitter (I hate The Facebook).

Concluding thoughts...
Having a baby was probably the best thing I will ever do. There is something surprisingly liberating about feeling like my life is no longer all about me. I am looking forward to the things that SeriousKiddo will do in his life more than I am looking forward to the things that I will do in mine. Meanwhile, I treasure all the little moments like grabbing his feet, patting his diapered butt, and tickling his tummy with one of his stuffed toys. There is almost something simultaneously vulnerable and terrifying about having a kid because, as a wise friend once told me, they become your heart. And the trouble with having your heart live outside your body is that you can no longer control it. Something terrible could happen to SeriousKiddo at any time in any place, even if (or especially if) I am not there. I do not have a solution for this very real fear - I can't rationalize some sort of philosophical "c'est la vie" type of argument that would make me feel more at ease. All I can do is control the small things like bumper-guards (for coffee table corners) and carseats and cabinet door looks (for the cleaning products cabinet), so I am controlling the sh*t out of that stuff right now.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Wedding Anniversary Gifts Infographic

Recently, I made this wedding gifts infographic. Not bad, but not great. From a design perspective, it's a snoozer - I think there aren't enough saturated colors and there isn't enough contrast to make this graphic interesting. I like mellow colors, but these were too calm even for me. So, I created this updated one (more in order to polish my infographic-crafting skills than for any other reason)...

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Caterpillar Continues (Cross Stitch)

As I mentioned in my earlier post on why I cross stitch, I am currently working on a cross stitch caterpillar project as a gift for my SIL when her baby arrives. Here is my progress so far!

Note: The idea of "days" is not strictly literal in my infographic above because each time I sat down to work on my project, I took a photo afterwards. So, if I had two cross stitching sessions during a day, that counts as two "days" in the infographic above.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Cross Stitching (This is why I cross stitch)

I am going to be doing more cross stitch lately. Why?

1) I noticed that I spend a lot of money on gifts for friends and family, and being a new parent, I do not have a lot of money to spend. DIY gifts are from the heart and affordable. Currently, I'm making a caterpillar project for my sister-in-law's (SIL's) new baby. When it's finished, it will look like this:

Design and kit by Whistling Doe on Etsy.

2) I enjoy cross stitch, and I would like to get faster (and I will get faster the more often I do it). I have done several cross stitch projects in the past, and I find it relaxing and almost meditative. Here is my progress on my current caterpillar project after three days:

3) I have decided to focus on only the crafts that I love right now. For me, that means paper crafts (like handmade or hand-stamped cards), watercolors, and cross stitch. Although I have done many other types of crafting in the past (wreaths, fabric projects such as sewing, floral arranging, yarn projects such as crochet), right now I'd like to focus on being a specialist, rather than a generalist, and doing that means narrowing down my scope of projects, at least for now.