4.23.2014

Baby Boy Nursery | How I Repainted the Dresser and Refinished a Wooden Bench

Two 'how to' projects wrapped into one for you today, aren't you lucky?

First up:
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1. This white, wooden changing table/dresser combo was a Craigslist find back in 2009 as I decorated Truman's nursery. I remember the seller being very excited about it being 'custom made' and wouldn't drop the price from the original $75 because it's real wood. When we bought it back in the day, I repainted it white again and added silver knobs in place of the red wooden ones. And thus, our little changing table/dresser worked like magic for both Truman AND Cecelia.

Truman's nursery, before the changing pad cover was finished:
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And Cecelia's nursery:
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When it came time to 'start fresh' with baby boy's nursery this time around, I started getting the furniture-painting itch. I blame Pinterest for my love of painting furniture and I figured that this piece needed a little upgrade from the past 4 years of wear and tear anyway. I didn't feel like buying any new paint, though, and once I had my 'vision' of gray, turquoise, yellow, and orange being the colors for the nursery, I knew I had my solution for the dresser. Lucky for me I just so happened to have over a 1/2 gallon of turquoise-ish paint left over from painting the walls of our tiny half bathroom.  It's technically Behr's 'Harbor' in a satin finish and usually I'd pick a semi-gloss for furniture, but this will do just fine.

I cleaned the dresser off with a wet/soapy rag and let it all dry. I removed the knobs and pulled out all of the drawers, placing them on the floor on top of a drop cloth. And I went to town painting this well-loved dresser turquoise!
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Camera Roll-574 It needed two coats of paint but was a very quick project overall. Each coat only took about an hour and so after two nap times I was basically done. Nice. My kind of project. The kids helped me re-assemble the dresser and took pride in finding the right spot for each drawer.

Ta-Da! Ready for a squishy baby butt.
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Second up:
bench

2. I briefly mentioned this wooden bench in a weekly pregnancy update. Initially I was on the hunt for a bookshelf to place beside our glider, and I knew I wanted it to hold a lamp and my water as I nurse baby boy. It always bugged me when I would nurse Cecelia in the glider because I didn't have a proper place to stash my gallons of water!

I peeked on Craigslist a bit and even hunted on Ikea for the perfect bookshelf. And then one day I was in the basement with the kids, prepping the crib to be painted when I set something down on this random wooden bench we've always had down there. I remember moving into the house and Nate and I both commented that it was a really neat bench even though the paint was in pretty rough shape. He always used it for storing tools and boxes downstairs, but I had a lightbulb moment when I realized it would be 'rugged' and the perfect size for the nursery.

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I cleaned it up the best I could (again, just soap and water) and put it next to the glider to check it's fit. PERFECT! I even considered leaving it the grayish-green color because I liked how beat up it was...but truly hated that shade of paint. Then I thought about painting it bright yellow, like the crib, or even turquoise like the dresser. Tony saw it up in the nursery one day and asked what I was planning to do with it---I told him I wasn't sure, but didn't like the paint now. His wheels started turning and I said, 'Hmmmm, do you think you could sand off the old paint for me?' He happily obliged because he is a sucker for refinishing wood---he's sanded down a few of our house doors to be more natural and less varnish-y, he's sanded off most of their white woodwork trim in their house for the natural look, he's refinished our back stairs and all of their flights of stairs, and he has even sanded off all of their wooden house exterior siding before repainting it all. We joke that his 'repainting the house' project is just a continuous event that lasts 4 years each time he begins it. The man loves sanding wood and has a few really good rotary and belt sanders.

Yes, Tony is a godsend for our DIY projects in an old house. Just wait until I really go into detail about what he's done in our basement remodel!

Anyway, Tony spent a morning sanding off all of the old nasty paint on the bench. He brought it back over to me and I knew there was no way I should paint this baby---the wood was so pretty and the dark nails stood out perfectly to make it seem rugged and authentic (it is!). I could have just polyurethaned the bench at that time, leaving it very light but dark wood is more our style. Nate agreed that staining it would be best, plus I have a few other dark wood items in the nursery right now with the same stain.

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I used an old stain we had in the basement, which I thought was the one Pepaw used to stain our handmade dining room table...but I'm not sure it's the same can. We usually like MinWax for stain but this can was something else more 'custom' from a local shop nearby. Anyway, it needed one coat of stain, then two coats of polyurethane. And this time I used the same poly we bought for our back stairs---it's expensive but awesome, and I love how shiny it is! It's oil based, so I don't want to use it on the crib to finish it off, but for a bench it's perfect (and for our back stairs).

And? Ta-da! Perfect little bookshelf/lamp holder/water holder.

Before and after:
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So shiny!
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Now, I should have done a better job documenting the painted ombre lampshade, but I just sort of did it one day. That isn't very helpful, is it? I used simple acrylic paints that I had on hand from Michaels. I wasn't sure if I should use wall paint, fabric paint, or what...but I decided to go for it with the acrylics since they say they are 'multi-purpose'. And my new white lampshade was a whopping $10 so if I totally messed it up, I figured it would be alright to buy another one. All I did was mix together red and yellow to get the correct orange color. I watered it down a lot and started with the thinner stuff on the top of the shade and used the thicker orange at the bottom. It wasn't quite the look I wanted, so I added red to the bottom and yellow to the top to make it pop a little bit more. I was using this as my inspiration pin and it SO doesn't look anything like that lampshade, but oh well! I still love how it turned out. It took me about an hour to get the gradient just right and then I had to force myself to stop mixing and painting more shades of orange.

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That's it for the DIY projects today! Many more up my sleeve!

4.22.2014

Baby #3: 29 weeks

4.22.14: Twenty-nine weeks!

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Holy smokes, I'm sort of freaking out by how quickly this is moving right now. Eleven more weeks until my due date (which is 7.8.14, in case I haven't mentioned that in a while)? How?

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I've entered the 'I hope I don't have him too early' phase of the third trimester. I mean, this isn't a new phase for me but more of an ongoing concern throughout each stage. Obviously in the first trimester I was worried about a miscarriage. And in the second trimester, I was also worried about losing the baby with super-early labor. Now that it would likely be okay to have him (not OKAY by me, but with a lot of medical help, he would probably survive), I'm worried about pre-term labor. Still.

Mostly because I'm starting to feel really huge, tired, and like my uterus wants to fall out of my body when I'm upright. Not all of the time, but sometimes when I stand up I can seriously feel so much pressure 'down there'. I've never had hemmies before but am nervous this third time around might cause some major issues in the pelvic floor region, if you know what I mean. Pressure. It's there, man. How much worse can it get in the next 11 weeks? Don't answer that. I know I still have a looooong way to go when it comes to feeling tired and big and like my uterus is exploding. Which is why I'm nervous I will never make it to my due date, and that thought in itself is highly annoying to me. Because if I'm already feeling like I'll go early, I surely will not and will be overdue for the first time, and therefore will want to shoot myself for allowing these thoughts so soon.

My overanalyzing annoys me, like most things in life right now, as you can see.

I went for a 30 minute walk with Henry dog over the weekend and was super annoyed by my inability to exercise. I had to stop and pee after 10 minutes and felt like I could go again at the end of the walk, too. Then when I sit down it's fine, so I think it's more about the weight of the babe on my bladder. Then last night I took the kids for the same walk in the double BOB and although I didn't nearly pee myself, I did feel contractions the entire time. So I think I have to really watch it when I walk now, and maybe pushing 60+ pounds of kid plus the mammoth stroller might mean I should slow it down a smidge. I sort of forgot what it's like to dial back what little exercise I'm actually getting because of contractions, but now I remember! The constant tightening sensation with activity was why I finally stopped running in Truman's pregnancy and I do remember that with Cecelia's, too. I miss running all of a sudden, and am looking forward to feeling like a newborn calf that is super awkward with those first few steps. Ah, the pain of getting back into running after a long hiatus. Should be fun.

My OB appointment went well last week. I didn't hear from the office about my glucose screening which means it was negative (hallelujah!) and baby boy was measuring right on track this time. I've gained 22 pounds which was startling at first, until I looked back and saw that is exactly what I had gained with Cecelia at 28 weeks. And with Truman it was already 25 pounds! Sure hope I can slow the weight gain down a bit from now until d-day, like with C's pregnancy compared to T's just getting ramped up for big time poundage. Did I mention I feel huge lately and like I want to exercise but know I can't really push it? Blech. Anyway, the appointment was fun as always because I adore my OB and now I start going every two weeks. Again: woah!

But! The weather has been so nice in the past few days, it's like a little glimpse into heaven. It got up to 77 degrees on Sunday, people. I swear it hasn't been that warm since last August and we truly had forgotten how wonderful warm weather can be. And one week ago it was snowing, so the weekend was especially glorious. Like, 'I can conquer the world when the sun is shining and we don't have to wear 14 layers of clothes,' type of glory. We had an awesome Easter weekend, that probably deserves it's own post, but it was filled with candy, egg hunts, family time, happy kids and parents, sunshine absorption, and fresh air. Thank you, God. I think the official best moment of the week was when all four of us were outside, washing the van together, eating watermelon, and enjoying the weather. It made me so excited for summer when baby will be here! Cannot wait for both the baby and the hot hot hot weather.

Easter pics in place of an actual post:

Feeling cute but a little large on Easter Sunday.
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Our babes, all dressed up and happy/on a sugar high. Doesn't get much better.
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Fashionista bunny rabbit.
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This kid wore his swimming suit all day Sunday. He makes me laugh.
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Happy girl in the sunshine.
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So handsome in a tie.
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Family of four, but not for long!
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Nailed it. Wanted one with them wearing their bunny ears and glasses. Hahahahaha.
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So I promise I'm not one big ball of complaints this week. Life is still very good and I'm still loving pregnancy. I am just feeling the third trimester now, I think. And I'm turning 33 this weekend so I'm just tired in general with my old age. ;)

The good old days: pregnant with Truman at 29 weeks. Still can't get over how different my belly looks with his baby brother compared to my first rodeo. It really seems like a lifetime ago. Then 29 weeks with Cecelia, and this post made me smile. I still find so many similarities between her pregnancy and this one: sleeping well, not as famished anymore (although Easter = death by Jelly Beans), rapid-fire baby kicks, and warmer weather that is so good for the soul.

Baby movement this time? Still crazy, constant and a little painful. I still call this my most active baby by far. I had taken many-a-videos of him trying to bust out of my belly button last week. I can definitely make out tiny body parts and I wonder when he is going to settle the heck down into the locked and loaded position? Right now he is having a ball doing gymnastics in there. Nate once again said, 'That is so freaky. You have a human being inside of you.' It's a trip, man.

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Sleeping is mostly fine, I definitely toss and turn a little bit more than before and can't find a perfect position at night. But I took the best nap of my life on Saturday, with Truman on the other part of the couch snoozing away with his tired mama. I find that most days I hit a wall around 2-3pm and either have to nap or make a conscious effort to keep moving or else!

Big time nursery progress this week, too. I'm feeling like I want to keep some of the projects under wraps so I can properly reveal them in their separate posts (annoying, I know), but Nate hung a few shelves and picture frames for me. And I almost cried seeing it all go up on the walls (annoying, I know). I also ordered the most adorable/awesome/exciting wall art ever this weekend. It will take 10 weeks to arrive so I need to dig deep for some patience, and try to contain my excitement. Enough writing about stuff that I'm not actually going to show you right now...but it was a great nursery week over here. I love his little room so much.

In summary, I feel a little bit crazy at times at the 29 week mark. Overwhelmed with happiness, contentment, and excitement one minute. Overwhelmed with fatigue, annoyance, and lack of patience the next. Feeling big and uncomfortable but then I feel dumb for even thinking that so soon. I am both so far along and have so far to go. Cannot wait to meet this little boy who is using my internal organs as punching bags. Just not yet, of course;)




4.21.2014

Moms Make it Work: Leah from Minnesota

Today we have Leah from Marital Bless posting for our Moms Make it Work series. Where do I begin with Leah? As she says below, we have 'known' each other for many many years---commenting on each other's blogs for maybe six years now? I can say I have officially met Leah in person twice now and can call her a 'real life friend,' instead of an 'internet friend'. She and I have gone from newbie bloggers to mommy bloggers together, with a lot of growth, pictures, and posts in between. I've enjoyed watching Leah's career focus change along with her gorgeous family growing through the years--change can be a great thing! I figured her take on this series would be an interesting one since she was working full time in an office while also running a photography business, and now she made the switch to focus on running her business after leaving the corporate world. Oh, and caring for three going on four kids at the same time;) Enjoy!  

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Julia was the first blogger that I commented on without prior knowing and the first to in turn comment on my blog. It was through her that I truly learned how much of a community blogging can create. Having been through several stages of being a working mom and ultimately now running a business that supports our family, I definitely wanted the opportunity to reach out and share!


About me:
Hello! I am Leah and am married to Tony. We’ll celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary this August, after being an online dating success story. We have three wonderful children: Isaac (will be 5), Ezra (will be 3) and Miriam (will shortly be 1) and are unexpectedly expecting baby #4. I’ve blogged, with much more frequency than I do currently, for over 6 years now and my archives are a treasure trove of examples in my growth, or good grief I sure hope they are! I am overjoyed to say that I am a full time photographer and business owner, allowing me to work from home and spend time with my children, after working full time in a corporate position for over 4 years while also building my business.
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Background:
A lifetime ago, or so it feels, I graduated with a degree in marketing from Southwest Minnesota State University, where I attended thanks to a soccer and academic scholarship. Between graduating in May and marrying my husband in August of 2006, I half-heartedly applied for positions while I continued to waitress, as I had for several years throughout high school and college breaks.


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[aug 5, 2006]

Once married, I threw myself into obtaining a job that actually utilized my degree and was thrilled to take a position with Target Corporation in downtown Minneapolis. I will never regret beginning my corporate career with Target, as it established, without any doubt, the standards of a highly productive corporation and the talent that they employed to produce consistently.

Through a series of events, after eventually leaving Target, I found myself with a 50% pay cut while 5 months pregnant with our first child. Unfortunately the pay cut forced us to rely on our line of credit and I furiously searched for any position that could pay me more than ½ of what we’d been used to, as we were quickly drowning in debt. That’s how I finally met Erin in person, as she referred me to the online university where she worked. It was a job!

I didn’t love my position at the university, but I was happy to be employed with solid benefits. Having the mindset that I would have no issue returning to work, I was beyond unprepared for the desperation to stay home with my son, when he was born exactly 3 months after I started at the university. I was  willing to do anything to make it possible to stay home and it broke Tony’s heart that there was absolutely no way for us to make it happen, none.


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[backyard picnic with our family of three]

Suddenly, not loving my job was a million times more painful, as I felt like it was a barrier to doing what I actually wanted, staying home. My Mom did daycare at the time and happily welcomed our son into her care, so there was no concern with hoping he was well looked after. But it didn’t matter, because I wasn’t the one with him.

God knew exactly what he was doing though, as a job that I detested was the exact starting point I needed to completely change my life and our family. He also knew what he was doing in aligning my choice in a photographer, my now best friend Gina, when I wanted to do a mini-session while pregnant with Isaac. I bet you were all wondering where photography actually came into play, and this is the unexpected answer.

Following our session, through a series of events, emails, text messages and phone calls, Gina and I eventually became very close friends. She was the first to invite me to assist her at a wedding and Tony and Gina ended up conspiring to encourage the development of my photography business. I can’t tell you how many times I thought our goal for me to quit my day job was an absolute pipedream.

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[loving life with the addition of Ezra]

Over time and with experience, my business grew, leading to impossible hours. I would work from 7:30-4:00, plus commute, pick up the kids, come home for dinner, family time, bed time and then it was time to finally put a few hours into my business. On the weekends, if it were the summer, you’d most often find me shooting a wedding, followed by at least one session on Sunday. There was absolutely no work life balance. It doesn’t bother me to reminisce about this time for our family, as it forced Tony and I to be very intentional and focused on the family time that we did have.

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[we made a point to soak up all the family time we had]

It eventually did catch up to us though. Nearing the end of the 2012 wedding season our lives looked to be in shambles, as did our house and our marriage. There just gets to be a point where you can no longer coast. We didn’t quite want to commit to a quitting date, but my Mom also wanted to retire, but couldn’t bear the thought of her grandchildren going anywhere else. Knowing that we just couldn’t go on much longer with the status quo, we set a date, at the end of 2013, I would quit at the university to be a full time photographer.

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[our annual snowbank picture circa 2013]

As the date approached more and more quickly, the reality of our choice became scarier, but we had faith that God had guided us through the choices we’d made. And sometimes, that’s literally all we had to go off of.
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[just two weeks before we met our little miss]

I always joke that I can make a short story long, so I hope to have concisely consolidated 5 of the most challenging and growth filled years of my life.
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[loving on our daughter, Miriam Joy]

Our Current Situation:
Being a full time photographer now, and actually being with my children, after years of pining for it, is absolutely everything that I thought that it would be. I consider myself a stay at home mom hybrid, instead of a work from home mom, as I don’t do most of my work at home and am able to leave the house to conduct my business, shooting my sessions and weddings. This is absolutely our ideal situation, although there is room for improvement, if I can continue to increase my income.
There have definitely been challenges, like my quick onboarding to spending so much time with my children being the most awful winter ever, cooping up two rambunctious boys. But no longer feeling like I’m being paid 8 hours a day to fill an office chair for the sole purpose of being away from my kids has been amazing.

The best part of our situation now is that I’ve been given 40+ hours of my week back and it’s being directly poured back into my family. I honestly thought that I’d be able to do a bit more photo work while home with the kids throughout the day, but unfortunately it just hasn’t shook out that way. And when I say a bit, I literally mean, just a bit, I was not under the impression I’d be trading 40+ hours of the corporate world to pull up the chair at home for the same length of time at home while caring for three children.

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[our first pizza party at the new house]

I’ve always loved to cook, but so many everyday things, like laundry for instance have been largely neglected since 2010. I’m really not joking in the slightest. Without a monumental effort by Tony and I, once my wedding season began, laundry was expected to come from a hamper, or the dryer, or the floor by the dryer. We honestly packed clean laundry, unfolded or sorted, in a huge cardboard box to our new house when we moved this past October, and I publicly celebrated putting all of it away, summer shorts included, just a month ago.

It’s been fantastic to have our family function in an actually healthy capacity, for the first time really, since shortly after Isaac was born.
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[the first year has flown by!]


Encouragement:

I hope that my story can be an encouragement to working mothers struggling with an unrealized dream or the desire to stay home with their children. I felt like my efforts were futile for months at a time. I’d often wonder why Tony and I were struggling so hard to pay down our debt and support my crazy hours in pursuit of the wildly insane idea that my photography business could someday replace my income.
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[our family this fall!]

It didn’t happen overnight.

I honestly have had people mock how slowly we progressed towards our goal. But the fact remains that through faith, hope and dedicated hard work, it did, in fact, happen.

I don’t know how long I will be a full time photographer, but I’ll be grateful every day that it allows me to be with my children.
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Thanks, Leah! Find the rest of the Moms Make it Work series here.