2.28.2014

WE HAVE SLEEP! At Night That is. One Win at a Time

Thanks to EVERYONE'S awesome advice - Chris and I developed a sleeping plan. And first, let me just say that I feel so lucky to have a virtual mom's group when I can write a rant of a post and get almost 20 comments from other moms who have experienced the same thing. I love that everyone has a different idea, a different experience, a different plan that worked for them. Every kid is different, every parent is different, and so it's awesome to get to weigh through all the comments and figure out things that would work for us. The internet is awesome. And you guys are even awesome-er :)

Alright, so now: our sleeping plan...

I wrote that post on a Friday. Friday went just like normal, and Saturday night started out the same too. But then at about 4:30 after being up with her for another hour we frustratingly kicked her out and put her in her room. She bawled and was so upset - and I can understand because I'm sure it felt like she was being banished. But we were all exhausted. She cried, I cried. And after about 20-30 minutes of both of us crying we all fell asleep. Chris fell asleep much sooner... :)

Sunday night Chris and I went out to dinner for a date night and my mom was babysitting. We talked about what we should do moving forward and vowed that we really had to be consistent - so that night we would put her to bed in her own room. I was super sad thinking about it and it honestly gave me anxiety, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I was really happy about having co-slept up until this point, but clearly me, Chris and Zoe were not getting enough sleep and something had to change


That night we came home at 6:30 (early dinner, we're 28/34 going on 70) and started her nighttime routine. Then, when it was bedtime we brought her into her room to her mattress still on the floor and read her some stories. We read a couple more than normal (because I was sad) but we kept things the same. Then, it was bedtime. I got teary, so I exited first so she wouldn't hear or see me cry and Chris stayed in her room with her for another minute or two. She was laying on her bed and he was giving her some little cuddles and then he made his way out. She was definitely a little upset, but to our amazing surprise she only whimpered for about 10 minutes, and then fell right asleep. Holy shit!

We agreed that we wouldn't do a full on cry it out strategy because we didn't want so much change at once. But when she did fuss we decided we would go in, pop her pacifier back in, give her a couple back rubs and then leave. She fussed two times from 7:30 to when we went to bed at 10:30, but as soon as Chris popped in she went right back to sleep and wasn't upset when he left. Yay!

That night she woke up two more times and Chris popped in and again, she went right back to sleep. I didn't even feed her! Chris told me I might want to at some point in the middle of the night, but I was honestly too tired to really comprehend what he was talking about and fell right back asleep :)

The girl LOVES pillows - which I know, are a SIDS warning. But sometimes you have to give in to something that works.
In the morning we fished her out of her room when she woke up and brought her into our room for some snuggles and play. She is so damn happy and playful in the morning and we didn't want to miss that. She was pleased with herself and played and chatted and crawled all over us. I was happy we didn't break her :)

The next night we did the same thing and it was only one wake up before we went to bed, and another one in the middle of the night. This time I did feed her.

The next night it was 3 times, and no feeding.

And each time when we first put her to bed she would fuss a little bit, but never longer than 15 minutes. Once in those first 4 days Chris went back in to give her some rubs, but other than that she put herself to bed each time in her room all by herself, and it made me very happy :) Hooray!

As for the nighttime feedings, she usually wants one at about 3:30, and with her being in another room I become fully awake now feeding her and I used to only be semi-awake with her laying right next to me. I have had sleeping problems throughout my life, and for the last 3 or so years 2:30-4 seems to be a very problematic time of waking up and not being able to go back to sleep, so that feeding usually wakes me up to the point of not being able to fall back asleep for at least an hour. And that sucks. So now I'm trying to completely wean her from feedings at night - she's finally sleeping so I want to sleep through the night too! :)


By night 5 she fucking slept through the night! I on the other hand woke up at 5am because I wasn't used to so much sleep and I had no idea what to do with myself. As the nights have gone on, she's been doing great. A bad night now (3 wakings) is what a good night used to be, which is so awesome. Most of the time it's just one wake up, but we've had a couple other sleeping through the night days too, which has been completely awesome. The last 3 days have had a couple more wake ups than normal, but still, way better. Fingers crossed it stays this way. Sometimes she even puts herself to sleep after only a minute or two. Bless that child :)

Naps though? They still suck. Well, they don't SUCK anymore because she no longer just wails and wails, but she still struggles to go to sleep. Now that her mattress is on the ground she'll crawl around and play


Sometimes she'll wimper a little and fuss and we'll go rub her back. But for the most part, she's content to roll all over the place making a mess :) Then when she's tired she crawls up on her mattress to go to bed. Sometimes she doesn't make it all the way


Why do they suck? Well, they're still not very long. Every once in a while she takes one that's 40 minutes, but for the most part they're still just 30 minutes. And sometimes she won't take them. We have decided to give her an hour in her room - and if she hasn't fallen asleep by then and is still messing all around, we come get her. That happens about once every 3 days. Usually her afternoon nap. Then she's up from about 1pm to bedtime at 7:15. She usually doesn't actually have a problem with it and isn't really too fussy.

Two things of note:

1) We decided not to fully let her cry it out. It's just something I can't do. I know that some people think that's what's best for kiddos, but for us, letting her fuss a little bit to figure it out and then have us go in there to pop her pacifier back in or give her a little back rub seems to do the trick. And it's something that makes us happier. We don't stay in with her to make her fall asleep, we just go in to say hi, and then leave. It usually results in a wail right after we leave during the day, and then either immediately playing, or falling asleep within 2 minutes. At night she just wants her pacifier and can't find it.  So it's a practice that seems to really work for us. And I feel like because we aren't staying in there to get her back to sleep, more just reassuring her, she's still figuring out how to go back to sleep on her own.

2) I do not believe in sleep begets sleep. I know that has been one of the biggest pieces of advice that people have given us (both here and elsewhere), but I have found it to make absolutely no difference at all for Zoe. In theory when she has taken really great naps, that would mean she sleeps well at night - but sometimes she slept like complete shit and sometimes she slept good. In theory when she slept really well at night, that would mean she would take great naps - but sometimes she would take her standard 30 minutes, or sometimes she wouldn't sleep at all. We used to track her sleeping on a spreadsheet and I found absolutely no correlation between good sleep during the day and good sleep during the night. Or vice versa.

So that's Zoe's sleep for you


We seem to have found a structure that has really worked for her sleeping at night, and frankly, if we're all getting better sleep at night, "bad" naps are something I can deal with now. Thank you for always giving your input and always caring. You folks are wonderful.

2.26.2014

The Table is Sealed. Oh, and Ideas for the Pantry

The nook table can finally be used, yay!!!



It could have been used before, but we didn't because I wanted it to have a fun pattern painted on it, and then it needed to be sealed so said pattern didn't get completely fucked up when Zoe bangs the shit out of the table with utensils, toys, probably even her head at some point. You know, those kids are crazy.

Last week when I talked about the table I discussed how I didn't like the way the Minwax poly was turning out. The first coat had awful splotches



And the third coat had some bewildering oily film on it after about 9 hours of dry time. Last Tuesday we were at HD getting materials for other jobs and I picked this baby up


Let me say this before we go any further - I purchased this on my own, in no way does Varathane know I bought their product to use on our table, but I want to give you guys an honest review of what I thought of it. Here it goes:

I bought this for several reasons.

1) HD has an incredibly shitty selection of poly
2) No odor
3) Heavy use formula
4) Semi-gloss
5) Fastest drying

I did not like that it was water based because in the past Chris and I have found that oil based products usually weather the storm of every day life a lot better than water based, but I figured I'd give things a shot.

While I LOVE the pattern on the table, the Minwax poly had left things a little yellow (which, to their credit, they warn you about on the label). It's terribly hard to photograph though...


...I know I'm being super annoying, but I promise, there is yellowing there.

Upon opening it looks a lot different because it's milky, as opposed to yellowy/clear (yes, that's a formal term)


Honestly, the second it went on, it just felt better. It went on like butter - it was really smooth and easy and didn't bubble up nearly at all. Most poly's bubble when they're over brushed, but the Minwax would bubble after just one stroke, and this didn't bubble at all after 2 or 3 (to make sure I was getting even coverage all around).

It advertised itself as having no odor, and that was of course not true. I don't think I've ever encountered a product that has felt the need to advertise that it doesn't have an odor and it actually not have an odor. Though to Varathane's credit, the odor was slight and didn't make me want to barf (or pass out) like Minwax's.

Minwax claimed to have a drying time of 4-6 hours which was utter horseshit. It usually took upwards of 8 hours, and was still tacky. Varathane said it would take 2-4 hours, and that was actually completely accurate. It was about 1/2 dry at 2, had some tiny spots of wetness at 3, and was completely dry and ready for another coat at 4.

With Minwax I had to sand between every single coat, and with Varathane I could apply another coat before I needed to sand it (if it was left for 24+ hours they advised you sand before you added another coat).

In the end - I am completely sold on using Varathane instead of Minwax. I used 3 coats of Minwax and 2 of Varathane - though they do suggest you use at least 3. I reasoned that I didn't need to because I had another 3 already under it. We shall see how it weathers the every day life storm, but I'm definitely WAY MORE satisfied with this product and am happy to have made the switch. I have never been pleased with Minwax, so I don't know why I thought this time would really be any different.

The most important thing, now we can eat at the table


This room is coming along now, and with one task completed, it's time to move on to another. Eventually I'll get chairs for this table and refinish them, but because our sports ticket table isn't done yet I'm borrowing 2 of our 6 unused chairs for that table. This room also needs to be painted (I HATE the gross peach color, so it will be the same greenish shade as the kitchen) but it needs a decent amount of prep work before that task can be completed (patching and some texture work). So, for the time being I'll turn my attention to the "pantry." Which looked like this when we moved in


And now it looks like this


I know, the before is better, right?

This isn't really a pantry as we actually do have a small one in the kitchen, this is more of a "cooking closet" I guess. The reason we have all this crap here is because we don't have the most storage in our kitchen (fairly decent size, but because of doorways, etc., not a ton of cabinet space), so we resolved that using this cabinet for spices, etc. was the best use of space for us. Of course it would look beautiful being used as a china cabinet or display of some sort, but that's just not practical for us. The downside is that it's not super attractive to see all that stuff behind the leaded glass doors


And now that Zoe is getting more mobile, she's getting more dangerous


We used to always keep those doors open (because we're lazy) but they obviously need to be kept closed now. With the doors closed though, you can still see the hot mess inside. Of course, I should organize it more, but spices and soy sauce aren't very glamorous even when they are organized. So I thought covering the glass in a fun way might be interesting.

Of course I turned my attention to Pinterest. I found several cool ideas. I really liked the idea of a frosted pattern

diy "Frosted" Privacy Window.
found here

But for 2 reasons I didn't want to do anything frosted. 1) with all the divided light on that window it would take forever and 2) although I don't want to see anything in this cabinet, I'm sure a future owner of our house will - because it is an awesome little cabinet - and so I didn't want to do something that would take them hours to reverse (oh my god could you imagine scraping that all off? I would hate me.)

So I kept looking. And then I stumbled upon these two images

I did this with sepia-map giftwrap inside curio cabinet glass when the cabinet was being used for plain storage.
found here

Love this house. Love the privacy/storage flexibility they created for this piece by lining the glass with  Kraft paper & an old coffee bean sack(?). So many possibilities!
found here
And I LOVED the idea of using a piece of fabric or paper to attach on the inside of the doors that would get some more fun pattern in the room, it would be cheap, and temporary. If future owners don't like it (or I get sick of it), I could just take it down. Easy as that.

Now I just have to go about finding the right fabric. I don't want to use the same one as the curtains because I don't want to be too matchy matchy, and I'm not sure what the cushion seat covers will be for the future chairs - but again, I don't want to be too matchy matchy. The best part is I don't need to be practical about the fabric because it's not actually being used, so I can go with something that would otherwise normally be really annoying to work with because all I really need to do is tack it in place. I think I smell a trip to the fabric store for Zoe and I in the near future :)

2.24.2014

Working on those Bed Drawers

I didn't finish the table and the curtains in the nook this weekend like I thought I might. Ummm, whoopsie :) I did paint one coat on the table, and my goal is to paint another today. Also to hem that one curtain that's too long. And my mom is babysitting Zoe, so that actually might happen! :) As for that 5th window that has no bracket for our curtain rod, well, we still haven't figured out what to do there yet. But we still were productive on other things this weekend!

Much like the headboard, it's been a while since we worked on the body of the bed. Chalk it up to lots of handyman work going on recently and being fairly tired. But a couple weekends ago we started making progress again! Really the only thing that's left to call the bed complete is the headboard and building the drawers, so Chris started working on cutting down the material for the drawer sides



Thanks to the track saw Chris quickly had a nice pile organized by each drawer


Once the material was cut down, it was time to use the handy dovetail jig I had gotten him for his birthday


The process was fairly loud (and dusty) so Zoe and I hung out just outside and watched Chris


Pretty cool, right?





It took Chris a little while to get used to the jig (as it does with all new tools) but it certainly made things easier. And faster. And so he just plugged away - cutting everything down, putting everything through the jig, and then assembling



And after a little longer than either of us anticipated they were all assembled and strewn across various spaces in the house. Now, we just need to order the drawer slides, order those two faux doors we completely forgot about...


...and stain and poly them, then attach the waiting door hardware and install everything. I can smell the finish line!!!!!!!

2.21.2014

The Biter

Now that Zoe has officially popped two bottom teeth, it's time to discuss: nipple biting. I bet you weren't ready for that one.

About 2 weeks ago Zoe thought it would be hilarious to start biting my nipples all the time whenever she ate. It was not fun, and my nipples were not happy. Feedings were going something like this - at night and the first feeding during the day - totally fine. But every feeding after that it was bite, bite, bite, bite. Multiple bites. Always at the beginning. From what I had looked at online, her biting at the beginning of eating was a little strange. It looked as if biting when done was a lot more common. A lot of times she wasn't even latching, it was just, "Oh, nipple in my mouth - " CLAMP. And it hurt. Those two little teeth are like fangs


My first attempt at fixing this problem is what my family affectionately calls "The Love Smother." Sounds so loving, right? The idea is that as soon as they start to clamp down you draw their face into your boob really tight so that they can't breathe for a moment, forcing them to let go. Sounds even MORE loving, right? Hearing the description it's hard to not initially feel like you're an abusive mother (joking. Kind of). Purposefully making Zoe not be able to breathe kind of made me feel bad. But several Dr.'s recommended it and I'd read it in our baby book and on several websites. And people said it worked great.

Zoe: nope, didn't work at all. In fact, it actually kind of made her clamp down even harder, "Hey mom, I can't breathe!" I tried this for a day or two for multiple feedings and it just wasn't doing a thing - she kept biting. And it was resulting in some yelps from me. And a couple times of me yelling at her, which I felt pretty bad about :( But holy shit, it hurt and my yelp and yell at her just came flying out of my mouth without even thinking about it.

Then the nursing strike happened - another thing I had read about. Apparently it is fairly common for babies to get a little upset about being yelled at and not quite understanding. And that turns into not nursing


More looking into what might help was ear pinching: as soon as they clamp down you pinch their ear so it gives them a little sting. You don't use your nails at all, but the pinch gives them a startle and they associate the little bit of pain with biting your nipple and they don't do it anymore. That's the idea at least.

Zoe: didn't do a thing. In fact, it almost seemed to make her do it more frequently. She's a little masochist. And I was pinching her ear so much that it made it all red, and she started to cry. Way to feel like a bad mom again. And then we had another little nursing strike. The second wasn't nearly as long, and only lasted a day (the first was about 2-3), but she was STILL biting.

Then I tried to think about if there was anything that was different between her nighttime and morning feedings and the ones later in the day which were absolutely guaranteed to result in the not so friendly love bit. I couldn't come up with anything and I was beginning to get very discouraged. I may have cried and I may have sent Chris a few angry texts telling him that I might rip Zoe's teeth out. Bad mom! I really wanted to keep nursing, but I was approaching a solid week of biting with no apparent letting up and I was starting to really get discouraged


Pretty much the best way for me to try and accomplish something is to turn it into a game I can win. Competition is honestly one of the biggest motivators for me, so I thought about it like this: I am going to WIN this little biting game you little stinker. She wasn't responding well to the yelling (although, who would, it was startling) and she wasn't responding well to the "Love Smother" or the pinch, but I didn't really have anything else in my arsenal. So I sorta thought about kind of combining things.

I waited for a time when things were really quiet and she was in a really good mood. I kept a teething toy nearby to give her in case she decided to bite, but popped a pacifier in her mouth and held her. Sucking on her pac and having some snuggles got her calm and in a lovey mood. We did that for a minute or two and when she seemed quite happy and pleased with the situation I slipped the pac out and popped the boob in - SUCCESS! I made sure to give her some little snuggles and tell her she was being a good girl for positive reinforcement. Things went well for a minute or two, but again, bites. Damnit!

So my body tensed, I drew her close and held onto her ear and sternly said, "No biting." I didn't yell, I didn't fully smother (god that sounds bad) and I didn't pinch. I just acted like I was going to do those things while I forcefully told her what she was doing wasn't okay - but I made sure not to yell. That seemed to do the trick, she didn't bite me. Yay! But that entire feeding she was really tempted to and tried again a couple times, but as soon as she did I did the same thing. And when she wouldn't stop, I just popped her right off and wouldn't let her nurse anymore


All those things seemed to do the trick for her. And still, a week after we've found the solution, she still tries to bite about once every other day. It still hurts, and it's still annoying, but it's not as discouraging. I just do the same thing - tell her sternly, "No biting," draw her in close to me, hold onto her ear and then she either doesn't bite at all or lets go very quickly. We try to nurse again and I give her one more pass. But after the 3rd time she gets popped off. She's only done it that many times once since we've found our solution, so I think she's finally getting the idea that she doesn't get to nurse if she keeps doing that.

Thankfully my nipples have recovered and Zoe seems to have figured things out. It's always something, right? I hope she doesn't try it again when she's got her upper fang teeth too. Oh god, the pain...

2.19.2014

Our Pie Chart Table for the Nook

Once the nook table was painted all white and in place, it was time to paint the top in a fun way


I trolled Pinterest for some inspiration and thought a chalkboard top would be fun, but Chris wasn't super keen on the idea. So after clicking around more and more I settled on a geometric pattern (surprise, surprise, right?)

Glass table top painted on the underside. I want to do just this but with different colors!
found here

table top pattern/color....love it!
found here
Those patterns were SUPER awesome, but also really intricate, and I didn't think I would have the patience. So I settled on a pie pattern. In order to figure out how big my pie slices should be I measure to get the circumference of the table


Once I had the circumference measured I figured that 4" would be the best size of each piece slice. I used a piece of yarn as my measuring stick to mark off 4" along the border


But like an idiot I somehow cut the 4" piece of yard at 4 1/4", so by the time I got halfway through the table, I was super off and the last slice was like 2"


Whoopsie.

So I tried again. This time with another material - the yard was a little stretchy, so Chris thought we should use some random internet cable we had lying around because it was still flexible to get around the curve, but didn't stretch at all


Then he got in on the action


But he made the same mistake and strangely decided that 4" was actually 4 1/8", so when he got halfway through he was off too, doh! So we remeasured for a third piece and did it again


Then the center spot got measured


And I got started.

When it came to deciding what the colors would be I thought that using all light colors would be good. Because there would be so many pie slices I didn't want to use all sorts of different saturations and hues because I thought that might look a little crazy, so by keeping everything light I thought it would keep things calm and subdued and really let the pattern shine



Then I got started



But when I got to this point I wasn't really feeling it


Even though I thought I had picked light colors, things still seemed too dark and I was afraid it would look a little crazy and out of control when I was done. Chris said if I wanted to change it - now was the time. I agreed and decided I would stick with most of the same colors I had already picked, but just mix white in with them. I redid the gray slice


And then moved around the table. Because of the nature of the pattern and how it had to be taped off I could only paint one slice at a time on each side. Things dried quickly, so I was able to get about 4-8 slices painted a day between life's other to do list items


Once I was done painting it, it was time for touch ups and sealing


I of course left it like that for about 2-3 weeks of course. Because that's what always happens - that damn last step takes fucking forever.

First I touched up the border a bit where I had painted a little exuberantly, and then I brought out our Minwax semi-gloss oil-based poly that we had hanging around from some other project at some point. I'm not a very big fan of Minwax, but we had it on hand, so I figured I'd use it. I had planned use 3-4 coats to really make sure it was durable and give it a super yummy semi-gloss finish, but after coat #1, things weren't looking so good


It went on really splotchy (I was super careful to paint it on with an oil Purdy brush very evenly). I wasn't pleased, but I thought maybe I wasn't as careful as I thought I was? So I used it for another coat. Coat #2 went on good, but coat #3 was horrible - about 9 hours later there was some sort of oily residue still sitting on top of the table after it had dried. That was the last straw of already not really wanting to use the Minwax we had hanging around. Every time we've used Minwax I've thought it sucked, so I have no idea why I assumed this time would be any different.

So last night while out at HD getting materials for some handyman jobs I decided to see what other poly they had to choose from. Of course because they're HD they don't really have the greatest selection and 80% of it is Minwax (boooooo) but they did have some Varathane, so I opted to try that instead. I have of course not painted the 2 coats on it yet (just to make sure the new poly is on there good) because last night I decided to plant myself in front of the TV instead of seal the table, but hopefully I get it done in the next couple of days and I can share it with you on Monday. Along with ---- what???? ---- finished curtains!?


They're not finished YET because I'm still painting those last two windows (yes, 3 months after I first started). But I got the last coat on them yesterday afternoon. With Zoe's help as always


Her first of many painting projects :)

Goal for the next couple days: finish two coats of poly on the table and get all the curtains up. It's going to happen damnit!