Monday, April 21, 2014

Blackberry House Paint Tutorial (Nursery Dresser)

Happy Belated Easter, friends! I hope you and yours had a wonderful day yesterday. I'll be back later this week with our Easter recap and photos, but wanted to stop in and do my promised post regarding the Blackberry House Paint we used on baby girls dresser

To refresh, here's a picture of the dresser before (with a tiny coat of the paint on top). This will give you a good idea of the color of the original wood and the condition of the dresser. 


This was handed down to us from Nathan's parents and it's going to work great as a dresser/changing table because of the height, drawer depth and size. Since it was free, I knew I had some wiggle room in order to invest in paint and new hardware. 


My original plan was to do Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP), but the closest distributor to us was 45 minutes away. That's when I discovered a little local antique shop that sold something similar called Blackberry House Paint (BHP). The way the lady that I spoke with described it sounded exactly like the look I was going for. She explained that ASCP was great if you were going for an "old world" look, but that BHP resembled the look of Pottery Barn furniture. Since we're going for a shabby chic feel for baby girl's room, I thought the latter sounded just right. 


The first step before you start is to clean the furniture. The distributor I talked with said things like Goo-Gone, or any other type of "degreaser" are the best. Once it was all cleaned up, the hardware and drawers removed, we were ready to begin! 

The great thing about both ASCP and BHP is that there is no sanding or priming required. You just jump right in and start painting! 


The BHP is really thick and covers so well, so you really just need a tiny bit. I invested in a nice quality Wooster brush to get the job done. I started with 1 thin coat to begin with, let it completely dry and then added the 2nd coat. 

The distributor I spoke with said that most of the time you'll only need 1 or 2 coats because the paint covers so well, but she did say that "Fresh Eggs" (the color I used for the dresser) was the closest thing to white they had and that it would take some extra coats. I found 3 coats to be just perfect. Since the paint is such high quality, it dried very quickly which meant I was done with all 3 coats in about 2 hours.




After my 3rd coat was completely dry, then came the fun part - distressing and waxing. You'll want to invest in a nice, quality fine or medium grit sanding block for the distressing. I used the "wet sanding" method, which is basically just getting your sanding block damp with cold water and then sanding your piece. Instead of going in a backwards-forwards motion like you would if you were sanding a wall, you'll want to sand at an angle for the best results. Unlike ASCP, when you're sanding down your furniture with BHP you won't get a crazy chalk cloud of dust - it's actually very mess free!

Depending on how distressed you want it, you'll want to bear down harder/softer on the block. A piece of furniture with curvy lines and details really shows the distressing best, but we also got some really good distressing on the top and the drawers as well. 

After sanding, you'll want to take a soft damp microfiber cloth and wipe down the entire piece of furniture. Let this dry completely, and then it's time to wax! 

The wax is also sold by BHP and I used the "clear finishing wax" for this project. I found it was easier to just scoop some out with my fingers, slap it on the dresser and then use a microfiber cloth to "buff" it in. Since the BHP is water-based, this waxing step is vital to securing your finished piece. 


After you wax, you'll want to let your piece sit for about 48-72 hours before you put stuff in it. 

And here's the finished project!






Total, I spent about $45 to upgrade the dresser. My paint and wax totaled about $30, Nathan got the paintbrush from Lowe's, the sanding block we had already and we actually even had the hardware on hand - Nathan swiped it at a yard sale last summer and it just looked so perfect and girly for the dresser. 

I'm so pleased with the final look and think this is going to be a great piece for her to keep for many years to come! 


Monday, April 7, 2014

a letter to my firstborn

(file this under sappy, emotional, over dramatic, and raging 3rd trimester pregnancy hormones)

Now that we're less than 8 weeks away from meeting our sweet baby girl, it has got me thinking lots about how much our lives will change when she arrives. It also has me wondering how William will adjust to our new family of four. At (almost) two-years-old, I know he wouldn't be able to understand me if I started trying to communicate all this to him, but maybe one day he'll look back and read this and know just how much he was loved, and how special it is for him to be the firstborn, the leader of the "pack" and the one all of our future children will look up to. 

Dear William - 

When we found out we were having a boy, your dad was over-the-moon-excited. He literally jumped out of his chair and almost hugged our ultrasound technician. We knew all along if our firstborn was a boy, we would choose the name 'William'. Not only is it a family name on both sides, but we also loved its meaning: determined protector, valiant, strong, brave. Oddly enough, you've already started living up to your name (especially when it comes to the "determined" part). 


My pregnancy with you was a complete dream - you were the perfect baby; never giving your mama any heartburn, morning sickness, sleep difficulties, hip/back pain, etc. It also was a very sweet pregnancy/delivery and one that taught me so much about what it means to really trust God. I'm so thankful for "our story" and I wouldn't change one piece about it. 


After you arrived, one of the most surprising gifts you gave me was opening my eyes to see just how much God loved me. I've been a believer for many years and have always known God loved me, but never really grasped how much. Having you did that for me. I suddenly knew what it meant to love without strings attached, to be long-suffering, to want to give you the world but also practice restraint because that's what you do when you love someone so much. I took delight in every hiccup, every burp, every "first" and documented it carefully. 


I cannot believe in three short months we'll celebrate your 2nd birthday! I am so proud of all that you've learned and accomplished in two years - learning to sit up on your own, crawl, walk, run, spin, feed yourself, talk, listen and obey, and now helping with chores.


I already see in you so many wonderful qualities that I know will make you the best big brother. You unselfishly share everything and actually get delight out of sharing with others, you're independent yet cautious - carefully thinking things through before you move ahead (you get this from your dad!). You're not very big on cuddling, so when you do it I know it's a BIG DEAL and I cherish those moments more than you will ever know. And lately you don't want our help at all - in fact, if you're struggling with something and we say "Would you like help?", you emphatically answer "No! Big Boy!". Although I miss those days when you needed me for everything, I am so proud that you are taking on the role of big brother and are stretching your independence. 


I am so thankful you are our firstbornIt's a huge responsibility being the oldest child, but I have confidence you will be a great leader for your siblings. Your personality, demeanor and sweet spirit make up such a perfect package. Your little sister is one blessed girl to have you as a big brother! I know with you both being so close in age there are bound to be disagreements and squabbles, but I pray that you'll both grow to be close friends. That you can protect and encourage her, and that she'll be your biggest fan. 

Stay sweet - 

Your Mama

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

We've Got Some Catching Up To Do...


There are lots of things I've been meaning to document on the blog lately, but life has been buzzing by like crazy for the past few weeks and blogging has taken a big backseat. I thought I'd do a "ramblings" post of sort to catch you up to speed...pardon the stream-of-consciousness post. ;)


We planted 50 new seedling trees on our property a few weeks ago. 25 White Pines and 25 Red Oaks. The White Pines are expected to grow pretty fast (some say up to 3 feet per year!). You may be wondering why we need more trees since about 7 acres of our property is wooded and we live on a quiet country road. Well, when you're married to someone who pretty much envisions your house looking like this in 20 years, it sort of comes with the territory. ;)


I'm only half-kidding. 

I've been cutting William's hair myself since he was about...six months old. His hair and fingernails grow at a ridiculous speed, and he's had about 20 haircuts since then. It used to work great for Nathan to hold him while I snipped away at his locks but now that's he a curious toddler, he's more interested in the scissors or the hair falling down his back to sit still. 


But! I finally found the perfect solution. We pulled down his old Bumbo seat recently when we were going through baby stuff, and he still fits in it. I have him sit in that, wrap a towel around his neck and secure with a clothespin and turn on a few Read-Aloud Curious George books on our iPad. It breaks my heart a tiny bit because he just looks so big to me when we do this now! 


Speaking of big...here's me at 31 weeks putting down newspaper in our Back to Eden garden. For those who have been reading this blog a while, you may know that Nathan and I started a veggie garden back in our home in NY. Well, our friends down south told us about this new approach called Back to Eden and we're trying it out for the first time this year. Thankfully, the previous homeowners already sectioned off this little plot in our backyard so we're starting small this year to see how the new approach works. If it's a success, we'll likely expand the garden next year. 


While we were busy rolling newspaper on the ground, our little sidekick was entertaining himself with a bucket of water. This boy loves water just about as much as he loves dirt. He was totally drenched, covered in goosebumps, and smiling ear to ear by the time we got done.


Our inside projects have been coming along smoothly too. We printed some vintage botanical artwork to hang above baby girl's crib (and her bedding is all washed and ready!).


We also painted the dresser for her room. I used a new technique similar to Annie Sloan Chalk, but it's made locally and it's called Blackberry House Paint. After a quick chat with the distributor who gave me very good instructions, it was so easy and I was totally done with it in about 4 hours. 

Here's the before (with just a tiny coating of the paint on top - forgot to snap one before I got started!)...


And here's what it looked like after 3 coats of paint (pre-distressing and pre-waxing). I'll post a true "After" and some more details on this in the next week or so. 


When we haven't been swamped with projects, one of our favorite things to do is watch William with his new favorite "toy" - a kids tent Nathan swiped at a yard sale for $4. 


This is usually how a morning with the "teet" (aka tent) is spent:

William: "Teet. Teet. Teet. TEEEEET!!!!"
Mommy: "You want to get in your tent?"
William: "Yea!!!!! My Mommy"
Mommy: "You want your mommy to get in the tent?"
William: "Yea!!! Teet. My Mommy!"
(we both get into the tent and William gets in and out of the tent 472 times to retrieve toys, snacks, sippy cups, stuffed animals, pillows, blankets, etc. Basically anything he can find.)
William: "Door!"
Mommy: "You want mommy to close the door of the tent?"
William: "Yea!"
(he excitedly wiggles around, sometimes laying on the pillow and saying "night-night" or feeding his stuffed animals snacks, sitting on top of baby sister, giving hugs and kisses, etc.)

Some time passes, and I try to plan my escape from the tent. Warden William is never happy when Nathan nor I try to leave the "teet" and gently tries to push us back in. Nathan usually distracts William and manages to get away, but I resolve to lay inside the tent a bit longer knowing that it's likely to take me a good 30 minutes to hoist myself out. ;)


This season in our lives can best be described as exhaustively fun and rewarding. It is tiring having a toddler and being (very) pregnant while we work on so many house projects, but I'm also having so much fun and getting so much joy out of all the family time we spend together. Many nights, Nathan and I collapse in bed at 9:30 but before drifting off have the best pillow talk about this current stage in our lives and how much we're enjoying it. 




Monday, March 24, 2014

Morning Busyness

I have heard from several mommy friends that 18-21 months can be quite...er, challenging


Apparently, there's a big "developmental leap" during this time where toddler's are testing boundaries, understanding more language but not necessarily able to communicate back yet, there can be sleeping disruptions and of course teething, illness, or any other surprises can add to the craziness that is the 18-21 month "leap".  



Our sweet boy is no exception, and the past few months have been met with lots of frustrating days. I know everyone says "stay consistent and it will pay off" but when your toddler is throwing (what feels like) his 4,593,814 tantrum, sometimes you really do just want to give in. To plop them in front of a TV with some crazy cartoons, feed them cookies and go lock yourself in a closet with some dark chocolate and a People magazine. I've never actually done that, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't tempted to sometimes. ;)


Now that we're finally entering 21 months, I'm actually starting to see the light at the end of the long tunnel. Our consistency has paid off the past few months (even when I felt like it wasn't), and the things William has learned during this big "leap" blow. my. mind. 


He's all the sudden excited about coloring, has an imagination and plays pretend, says "yes" (for about 5 months everything was "no!"), voluntarily gives hugs and kisses, and is starting to put two words together (and they're such sweet words like: "My Mommy" or "I happy" or "More, Please"). He also is starting to recognize "landmarks" that we visit consistently. For example, when we pull into the library he yells "Book!" or when we drive past the park he says "Play!" or (and this is my favorite) when we pull into our driveway, he says "Home!" 

He also answers "One!" when you ask him how old he is, and says a funny-sounding version of "William" when asked what his name is. He's just about able to identify every single picture in any of his books, loves to play outside in the "Wees" (aka Woods) and enjoys helping us with yard work as he uses his "Shubble" (aka Shovel).


Although the past few months have been trying, I weirdly always get excited when these big developmental leaps are coming. I know they'll be met with lots of sleep disruptions and tantrums because his little brain is working in overdrive, but I also try to remind myself that the outcome is an increase in knowledge and independence. It has been a joy to parent William and watch him learn all these new exciting things. Every day, we see more qualities in him that we love that are so uniquely his own. 

I'm certain he's going to be a wonderful big brother to our sweet girl, and I'm so excited that she is blessed with him. We love you, our sweet, busy, smart, adventurous-yet-cautious, boy!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hello, Third Trimester!

Chirp. Chirp. 

Is anyone still out there? 

I've really neglected this space lately, and I do apologize. We're all doing fine except that I've been bitten by the nesting bug and am driving Nathan crazy with all the things I want to get done before Baby Girl's arrival. 

This week, we're putting the finishing touches in her room, we've planted 25 trees in our front yard (and plan to plant 25 more tomorrow night), we've gone for 2-mile hikes, finished The Bachelor season, had an energy audit done on our home, I sewed a Layette Gown for baby, Nathan got a new job, and William cut 2 new teeth and battled a cold. 

And surprisingly, I'm still full of energy and it's only Wednesday! :) 

I attribute this crazy behavior to the fact that for the first (and halfway through the second) trimester, I was a complete blob and took 2 hour naps each day and slept 11 hours each night. Thank goodness for third trimester energy! 



Disclaimer - William was in rare form on our picture day but we'd already gotten ready to take it so I was adamant. Toddler's don't really understand that concept, so we just went with it! This is real life, people. The 2's are upon us! 

How Far Along:  29 weeks (I was late getting the photo up!)

Size of baby:  
According to babycenter, close to 3 pounds by now.

Total Weight Gain/Lossup 20 lbs so far 

Maternity Clothes: 
wearing them all the time - and lately my favorite maternity piece has been my striped maxi skirt from Old Navy. That thing is comfortable

Gender: girl! 

Movement: still wiggling and pushing out like crazy. At my last visit, baby girl was transverse (which my midwife says is totally normal because babies usually wait until 32+ weeks to "get into position"). I'm just praying so hard that she'll wiggle to head first and I can have a successful and healthy VBAC. 

Sleep:  
I was having some tightness in my psoas muscle for a few weeks which caused a lot of discomfort (especially when I woke up in the morning), but I've adjusted how I'm sleeping and doing lots of psoas stretches before bed now. This week has been the best sleep I've had in a while. 

What I miss: 
warm weather ;)

What I’m looking forward to: hanging the finishing pieces in baby girl's room and looking forward to my midwife appointment next week 

Cravings:  
I saw a post on FB this week and a friend visited the infamous Hattie B's Hot Chicken in Nashville. I've been craving it ever since, and I don't really know why - I've never even eaten there! But the thought of spicy fried chicken and cobbler sounds quite appetizing. 

Aversions: none

Symptoms:
 other than some mild outbursts of pregnancy hormones this week, I'm feeling good! ;)

Belly Button In or Out: flat

Best Moment This Week: 
 taking a 2-mile walk with my boys...Nathan had the day off and it was so warm out and we decided to talk a walk on our local greenway. It was the perfect little outing. 

Weekly Wisdom: Isaiah 43:16-21 has been a comfort to me lately as I try not to worry about the outcome of childbirth: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new."

Milestones: 3rd trimester! :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

20-something weeks

Now that my second trimester is coming to a close, I thought it was time to do another baby bump update. I've been just awful about being diligent with these this time around, but I have taken photos at the big "milestones" so at least there's that. ;) 

This week's update doesn't have a staged photo with it - just a few selfies since my "photographer" has been realllly busy lately. I'm hoping we can snag a photo next week once I'm officially in my third trimester to capture the joy on my face. It's not that I haven't enjoyed being pregnant this time around, but I'm just ready to bend over, stoop down, play horsey with my sweet boy and walk without losing my breath. It's definitely a lot more physically challenging to be pregnant with a toddler than to be pregnant and sitting at a desk job all week. 

Enough with my complaining though...on to the update!

25 weeks

And this was a 27-week photo I took this week to send to my mom in NY, proving to her that I'm not joking when I say "I'm HUGE!!" Can you tell sweet girl prefers sitting right out front? 

How Far Along:  27 weeks

Size of baby:  
Big. According to my midwife, I'm measuring 1 week ahead and at each ultrasound baby girl has been steadily packing on the pounds. One week our midwife even used the word "whopping" to refer to baby girl's size. (I'm starting to think I might be crazy for attempting a VBAC now - ha!)

Total Weight Gain/Loss: up 20 pounds so far. 

Maternity Clothes: 
I'm in them full-time now. 

Gender: girl! 

Movement: According to BabyCenter, she should be having "sleep" and "awake" moments now, but I don't think that applies to her. She moves all. the. time. And even when I'm sleeping and can't feel her move, Nathan says he can sometimes feel her kicking him. 

Sleep:  
Still sleeping great!

What I miss: 
Bending, stooping, rolling around in the floor with William and sleeping on my belly. 

What I’m looking forward to: We've got the artwork printed off for her room, and are waiting on mats to arrive at JoAnn's before we can frame them and get them up. I'm so excited about putting the finishing touches on her room!

Cravings:  
Last week I was craving broccoli with spinach dip and green smoothies, this week I'm craving Captain Crunch "Crunch Berries" cereal and coffee. It has been really varied and odd lately. :)

Aversions: none

Symptoms:
 this week I've been feeling really low on energy, so I've been taking some power naps in the afternoon for part of William's nap time. It has at least helped me make it to bedtime without being Mrs. Grumpy Pants and given me the energy I need to keep up with our busy boy in the afternoon.

Belly Button In or Out: flat

Best Moment This Week: 
 We've been taking lots of videos of William lately doing all these new things. It's almost like his personality kind of exploded this weekend and he's doing so many new things that are making us scratch our heads and say, "Where did he learn that?" I know we're entering "terrible two" territory, but so far he has been a hilarious mix of fun and sweetness lately and it has been a joy to sit back and watch him this week. 

Weekly Wisdom: Note to self: even though you may be busy wrangling a toddler, do a final wardrobe check before leaving your house. I totally showed up to a girlfriends house last week with a shirt on that was apparently too short because as I entered her house, I felt a breeze and realized half of my pregnant belly was hanging out for all to see. Yikes.

Milestones: Passing my glucose screen, and getting good news on my lab reports - all is healthy and well going into the final trimester!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Firehouse Fun

Lately, William has developed quite the love for all things firetruck, fireman, fire station related. We read Curious George at the Fire Station, and The Great Big Fire Engine Book on a daily basis. We also have a toy Tonka Fire Truck that lights up and plays sirens that he is obsessed with. 

So imagine his delight when we packed up the car and took him to a real, live fire station this week. We asked our friends to join us, and the boys had so much fun together. The fire lieutenant knew they were a little young to really grasp fire safety, so he let the boys do their thing - climbing all over the truck, "driving" at the wheel, looking at the lights and basically just running and exploring. It was a fun-filled morning, and William kept looking around so wide-eyed at everything. I think he probably wondered if he was in a dream or if this was just the best day ever. ;) 

I love being a stay-at-home-mom for these very moments. I wouldn't miss these "firsts" for anything!