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A few weeks ago, I mentioned the transformation our house and furnishings have seen in the months since the kids were born. And I have some more here.
The photo below is of the play area, pre-babies. Doesn’t it look all nice and orderly and welcoming like birds might be chirping and soft music playing in the background?
Yeah, well, then the kids come and you haven’t quite found the right place to keep the kids’ laundry basket. And the lion is there for walking practice. And the drawers are open because you were in the middle of restocking diapers and putting away pajamas. And that blue frame behind the tray table is there because you’re not quite sure where to put the pop-up Last Supper picture that once hung over the kitchenette at your late grandmother’s house.
What about the bookshelves? Tipping hazards. They’re now in the garage. And in its place we have a dresser that used to be in the nursery that we removed to make space for the extra chair that was extracted from the living room that has already been transformed. The topper is from Land Of Nod and securely attached.
We spent a good bit of time planning out the nursery, wanting it to be all neutral tones with the nice recliner/rocker and complimentary simplicity with Mateo on the right and Harper on the left. And it totally started out that way. And let me digress a moment here and say that this is one of the areas where veteran parents amazingly hold their tongues. It’s like they KNOW that the rooms prepared for baby will NEVER look like the pre-baby photos once the kid(s) come. But they let us be all happy and planny and picture perfecty, just to get it out of our systems.
Ultimately, the one rocker just wasn’t going to work what with, you know, twins. So we plucked a chair from the living room and put it in the nursery. Doesn’t match. Didn’t care. That’s what happens when the reality of the infant period gives your brain a wedgy and “coordinating colors”, “soft tones”, and “simple” are thrown out of your vocabulary. Particularly when you have months of projectile vomit from two babies and you’re having to cover and protect all those precious coordinating surfaces. I can tell you there were days where we’d feed the kids their night bottles, knowing they’d puke, and peel off one sheet from the floor and put it directly into the washing machine. The remaining sheet/blanket would be there for the night feeding pukies, at which time we’d put that sheet into the wash and the ones from the wash into the dryer. And so on and so forth.
There’s Mateo peeking over his crib – the one on the LEFT – because he was more prone to wake if the door over on the right was opened during the night. The awesome, custom adjust from the top or the bottom light-eliminating blinds? Yeah, those stay closed. Kids want the gorgeous morning light and birds chirping? We change them on the dresser/topper in the play area and hit the “rainforest” button on the sound machine. Natch.
By the way, the photos above were taken a couple weeks ago and the spaces have since changed. Again. Primarily as a result of birthday loot and nowhere to put stuff.
So this past weekend, I got a storage facility. We’re going to move 4 of our 8 dining chairs into it., along with a queen bed from the guest room, the barstools, the desk and some other furniture. Put the queen bed in the guest room into it. The guest room will become Mateo’s room and in it will be the dresser/topper (from the play area), a chair from the nursery, a mattress on the floor, a bookshelf secured to the wall with 1-2 books and 1-2 quiet toys, and a couple child-eye level prints on the wall.
The nursery will become Harper’s room with a bookshelf secured to the wall (one currently in the garage but previously in the play area), a mattress on the floor, the rocker/recliner, a couple toys and books, and a few child-eye level prints on the wall.
The play area will house the playkitchen that we just acquired, and we’ll probably move the little tikes activity table down there, too. We’re going to try to make the living room look a little less colorful, if you know what I mean.
I’ll keep everyone posted (with pictures!) as to how all that works out, and when. First things first, though, gotta get all the borrowed kids furniture and toys from the birthday party back to the rightful owner!
I receive messages and emails from readers (thanks, by the way, to those that emerge from lurkdom to comment or email!) asking various questions about what we use or how we did something. A few have mentioned how organized and tidy we keep things. And if that’s what you think, then you want me on your Balderdash team.
We are far from orderly (you should see the piles on our dining room table), a fact I become especially aware of in instances like last Thursday when I went to a family’s home in the neighborhood. Until then, I’ve always been skeptical that anyone could actually have the home pictured in a Pottery Barn catalog. But they made me a believer. Everything Had A Place. And a label. And for those of you who know me, you know very well that I was like Pavlov’s dog in there.
In my reality, however, organization and cleanliness is a work in progress for me now, particularly since our home is in constant transformation, as illustrated in the following photos.
This shot was taken in December, 2007. Our home used to be this tidy. Because I was pregnant, and because I hand-string all those lights, we used our “little” Christmas tree and kept the rest of the decorations to a minimum. Mostly because I was tired. Notice my beloved piano.
Fast forward seven months to July, 2008. The kids were around three months old and we were around..EXHAUSTED. Both babies had been diagnosed with reflux. Something we kinda figured what with all the projectile vomiting and all. Hence, the towels. Notice the coffee table made of glass and iron. And that the piano is there. But that the orange chair and ottoman are not. The chair is now in the nursery because the second of us needed some back support when feeding babies at bedtime. The ottoman is all jacked up in a closet somewhere.
Four months later and it was November, 2008. The reflux was gone by now, so there were less towels around. What? No coffee table? That moved to the garage. I always tsk tsked those people who had so much shit in their garages that they couldn’t park the cars in there. And while I’ve yet to succumb entirely, I have a soft spot for those families now. It all makes sense. We had also moved the sofa to the center of the room, something our real estate agent suggested we do, you know, so that a prospective buyer might have the feeling that this could very well be their home. Uh, yeah, doubtful. And yes, those are their halloween costumes splayed across the brown leather chair. In November.
Moving into March, 2009. With experienced crawlers in the house and with the kids at home with a nanny, we
had to chose to make some changes for what we perceive to be their benefit. Yep, no piano – sold in January 2009. Teensy living rooms and baby grands don’t mix with exponentially mobile toddler-approaching-babies. The sofa is now against the wall. The brown leather chair pushed up against the opposite wall to create a barrier between chew-on-everything-ers and the iPod docking station and stereo subwoofer. There’s a black interlocking foam mat at the bottom of the stairs to cushion the inevitable falls near the stairs. We also moved the red bookcase upstairs, strategically placed in front of the fireplace. It sits upon a black workout mat which covers the hard slate and it is cut to accommodate the the mantle molding.
Incidentally, you see Harper’s face? She hated Baby Einstein. I don’t know if was because they’ve been subjected to maybe a combined 4 hours of television in their lives, or if it was that creepy monkey hand puppet. Either way, I won’t force the television on them anymore, particularly since Mateo was disinterested altogether.
I’ve posted a post on “How Do You Do It?” today about some of the more interesting comments and questions I’ve received. Hope you get a chance to take a look.
In the quiet of early morning – the part of the early morning I never saw before having kids – I can look out the window and often find my neighbor tending to his gardens. It is one of the most peaceful and serene moments of my days. And if you could squeeze musical notes out of the visual, it would end up a score on some award-winning National Geographic program.
Several months ago, our neighbors asked if they could tear out the grass in a 5 x 5 section of yard that we share. He wanted to plant some flowers. And the little section, bordered by driveway on two sides, a side walk on another, and the street curb on the other, seemed like a reasonable piece to give up to his calming green thumb. This relinquishing of control is something I’m becoming accustomed to in parenting. And I’m discovering that the results create beauty nonetheless.
Most recently, a sunflower has stood upright, shoulders broad and confident. It’s a startling contrast to the transitional urban area where we live. For a short time, rather than telling folks we’re the fourth residence on the left just past the commercial auto lot, we can say our driveway is the one to the right of the Sun.
It seems like an eternity ago now, that I first mentioned we one day hoped to turn this downstairs bedroom into a nursery. The picture below is what the room looked like for a VERY. LONG. TIME.
And then, and then we got the best news ever: that we were pregnant – with twins.
I’m not sure how we came to the conclusion of what would be the nursery. It was really a work in progress. But not like work. We mainly spent time brainstorming how we would make the room a nursery without (a) spending too much money, or (b) well, spending too much money. But first-things-first, the floor needed to be re-sealed as the builder had clearly done a poor job of doing so.
After that, the first big decision was what color(s) to paint and how to decorate. Did we want primary colors? Not really. We’re neutral/earth tones kinda gals. Did we want “baby theme”? And we thought for a long time that we would go with something more contemporary/modernish. But after pricing that stuff out, we were like NO WAY, not when you are buying TIMES TWO. That, and it’s BABIES so why not have something BABYISH in the NURSERY?
We first found some cute zoo/safari/animal crib bedding sets at Target that were on sale. But we decided to return those and do something a little more, a little less, something.
We agreed to go with something that would accommodate two girls or two boys or one of each. And then we walked into Pottery Barn Kids and found some really cute animal print bumpers for a steal of $33.99 each. And because we got such a great deal, we also, several weeks later, after they were on sale, purchased two valences in the same print for $19.99.
It said Baby without screaming BABY. We’ll save that for the RJBs. The colors were on the pastelish side, so this would make it easy to get solid crib sheets from just about anywhere, and be able to use them interchangeably on both cribs.
Now that we had our color palette, we needed to decide on the walls. So we went with a soft yellow. Unfortunately, the way I took these two photos with whatever settings the camera had, it hardly looks soft. But hang with me a bit. The Beloved taped the molding and began painting away.
And I just have to say, what a splendid job The Beloved did!
Around this time, we had made our decision on cribs: safe, new, inexpensive. Love those cute $400 cribs, but again, when you multiply times two, it just doesn’t make sense for a bed that won’t be used but for the blink of an eye. We bought both our cribs, with the 10% multiples discount, for $179 each. NOT TOO SHABBY. The most expensive item in the room ended up being the rocker/glider. But what we chose, and the material/color we chose, will last long past its days in the RJBs room. And well into the days where I’ll kick my feet up and make them massage my feet before dinner. Oh, wait, that was MY childhood.
It was time, though, to get rid of the plaid roman shade covering on the window, since it wasn’t going to go with the bedding or the valances that we had picked out. We had, by then, obtained the cribs and the rocker glider had been delivered. It just wasn’t all in it’s place. But here is The Beloved removing the hardware.
Soon thereafter, we purchased the rug. It could have been expensive (in which case we would not have purchased it), but we had gift cards that brought the price down to a Target price or maybe even WallyMart but for the fact that we’ve been boycotting that place for three plus years. Not only was the pricing right, but it MATCHED THE BEDDING. Rock friggin’ on!
And rather than purchase new furniture, we made do with what we had: an old Ikea dresser became the RJBs dresser and on top we placed a changing pad for their changing station. And for additional storage, I purchased some $4.99 canvas cubes from Target that had a perfect fit in an entertainment center that one of my graduate school buddies gave me years back because she didn’t want to haul it back to Oregon. And you know what Internet? The tones and materials of the furniture DON’T MATCH EACH OTHER. AND WE’RE STILL BREATHING!
Just yesterday, the honeycomb room-darkening top-down, bottom-up shades were delivered. And we paid for installation. Because let’s face it, at 35 weeks and 5 days I’d practically be willing to outsource GOING TO THE BATHROOM. Or Eating. Or walking to the kitchen to refill my water mug. And in all fairness, the Beloved has done so so so so so much already – Yesterday, ON HER DAY OFF, she took me to the doctor, picked up my prescription, went for a 4 mile run, vacuumed the house, watered the plants in front, took out the trash, took me to dinner, brought me an ice cream cone, put liners in the Diaper Champs, did two loads of laundry, and put the car seats into the car.
Now? Now we wait impatiently for the RJBs.
This space leads to the postage-stamp sized back yard. It used to be the “office” area – where we kept the desk and my computer and one of the bookshelves, these items now in the guest room. You can see this through the blur that has been The Beloved during most of this pregnancy.
In this photo, she had sanded a section of the concrete floor and was prepping to re-stain. Obviously, this is taken prior to the space being cleared and re-distributed into the guest room.
After the room had been re-stained and sealed, we put the desk back in this space to make room in the chaotic
storage guest room for some of the baby shower items since the nursery, too, was still in disarray.
And we thought about leaving it like that. But another thing I get from my genetic predisposition is to move furniture around more than necessary. Plus, our home is shotgun style and we have homes on either side of us by the same builder, all of six feet separating the homes – so ambient light is a scarce commodity. And this space gets nice, warm natural light during the day so we started moving items from the nursery, some which we had purchased at our local area mothers of multiples garage sale, like the papasan swing and bouncer.
And as you can see, smack dab in the middle, is one of our dogs staking claim to the transforming space. Probably eye-balling the diaper champ, figuring a way to break into it when there’s yummy poopie diapers.
And it was a decent start, but we really wanted to put an area rug down, something plushy enough for tummy time, but sturdy enough to withstand the ins-and-outs of being entry to an exterior door, something easy to clean, but also fun. And I don’t know about you, but have you priced out rugs? They are either way too expensive, way too fugly, or not in the color/pattern/size that you really want.
I had seen where Dooce had talked about how much she loved her modular rugs, so we ended up getting some samples of different textures and colors and decided on Stripe A Pose for its fun and whimsical colors.
Over time, I plan to hang pictures of the RJBs in this space, too. But for now, this is the end result.
The guestroom didn’t change a whole lot. But while The Beloved was restaining and sealing concrete floors, it became the storage/holding space as shown here…
But after the floors were done, it was time to put things in some kind of order. Particularly since my mom was coming to stay my birthday weekend, and, well, the couch is horribly uncomfortable. So I started measuring stuff and making sure we could fit the items in the room.
Especially the desk and bookshelf, because we now had other plans for that office space. And thankfully, everything would fit, albeit a tight fit. The final pictures are the result.
This room has now gone from a guest room to a guest room slash office, albeit one without cable. Who builds a house without a cable outlet in every room? But this is just one of those things from the List Of Things To Do that didn’t get done. Up there with Didn’t Get The Windows Cleaned or Didn’t Pressure Wash The Outside Stairs.