A Birth Story: Magnus Leo Allard

Happy Mother’s Day! Seems like a good day to share the story of how I became a mama to one perfect little ball of mischief and love.

Magnus was due July 24th. It’s completely silly, but in my heart, I really wanted him to hold out for his due date because it would make his astrological sign match his middle name, Leo, and I thought that would be cute. But that wasn’t to be.

My pregnancy was pretty healthy, at least for someone with a history of severe asthma, but an infection in late May triggered some pre-term labor contractions in my third trimester. My doctor recommended I take it VERY easy, and would put me on modified bed rest when they cranked back up at various points through the rest of my pregnancy. I mostly listened. But I’d also agreed to do set dressing for our local theater group’s production of Willy Wonka so late in June I put in a couple of long days with too much time bending over and crawling around on my knees arranging a river of chocolate and securing giant lollipops to a bridge, by the end of the second day I did not feel right. I tried over the next week to be really, really gentle with myself but I’m not sure I ever felt great pregnant after that. I didn’t immediately suspect anything because who expects to feel great when 36 weeks pregnant? Also, I was kinda busy trying to organize a move.

Yeah you heard me, we were moving in the ninth month of my pregnancy. After a previously failed attempt at a sale and purchase the year before we thought we’d stay put going into the pregnancy. But then we got robbed, which lead to quotes for major remodeling, and eventually lead to the decision to try selling again. This time, we found a buyer and we were closing 9 days before Magnus was due. Because of our crazy timeline, we decided to move our bedroom early so that if he happened to make an early debut we would have a port in the storm. Thank God for that.

So that first week of July a lot of my mental energy was spent trying to orchestrate a move where I couldn’t really move anything. We’d planned to spend a big part of the holiday (July 4th) weekend packing and moving things, but by Thursday afternoon on what I didn’t know them would be my last day of work I felt awful and actually had to go home a little early. I took a nap and woke up with a swollen face, crazy headache and a racing heart. I remember from my prenatal reading that headaches could be a symptom of blood-pressure issues so I borrowed my dad’s at-home blood pressure cuff and took a reading.  It was high. Not like go straight to the ER high, but higher than I’d ever seen for me. Since it was after hours on a holiday week, rather than my doctor, I called the birthing center. They told me to take tylenol, drink lots of water, lay on my side, and take my pressure again in an hour. If it didn’t go down, they wanted me to come in. But it went down, so Friday morning, Aaron and our friends went ahead with our moving plans as scheduled.  But by that evening, it was back up even higher and it wasn’t as responsive to rest. They ordered me in and I spent the next few days playing preeclampsia and c-section chicken. (Side note: even though I only met some of the criteria for preclampisa when I first went in, I was POSITIVE something was up and I’m glad I listened to my body and my intuition and went back after being released or else things would have gotten much worse out of the watchful eyes of the doctors and nurses who took care of us).

I hadn’t slept a full night since around the 20 week mark of my pregnancy (which incidentally may have been the cause or earliest indicator of my pre-e according to some journal articles I read) so Sunday night, which was unbeknownst to me at the time, my last childless night,  the doctor on-call, ordered me to stay and loaded me up with sleeping pills. I thought I wouldn’t sleep in the hospital bed, especially since we’d decided it was best for Aaron to go home, but I got a glorious full night of sleep for the first and last time in months.

We were excited for my doctor to see me Monday morning, as he’d be back in after the holiday and finally get some answers on what was going on and how much longer pregnancy would continue. I got up early to shower, shave my legs, and color my hair in the hospital bathroom. Yes, I know, it was a little insane. But I was already overdue for a root touch-up and didn’t want all my new baby and mama photos ruined for me by only seeing my grays and I rightly predicted it might be a fair bit before I’d be able to do those things again.  Freshly cleaned and colored, we waited all morning for the doctor.

After a few hours, I was getting impatient and hungry! I was about to send out a search party for an OB for a cheeseburger, when in walked two nurses to prep me for the C-section I didn’t know for sure that I was having! Apparently my doctor had reviewed my stats and made the call first thing in the morning that my baby needed to be delivered that day as I officially met all the diagnostic criteria for preeclampsia and it seemed to be getting worse rather quickly, but the message didn’t get delivered.  He came in a little bit later and did another pelvic exam to double-check that I still wasn’t well positioned to be induced since my cervix was still unfavorable,  my baby’s head was measuring very big (42 weeks at 36 weeks), and my pelvic inlet had been charitably described as “not-impressive.” We agreed the C-section was the right call. My surgery was set for 1:00pm.

With a couple of hours before go time, I sent Aaron home to have lunch and finish a small electrical project he’d been working on for our new bedroom. Yes, the day of our first child’s birth I had my husband switching out light sockets. But they were loose, and loose sockets are a fire hazard and I worried if they weren’t done pre-baby it would be months!

As I waited for Aaron to get back and surgery drew nearer, my fears emerged. I’d spent that whole weekend sure something was wrong and insisting my baby needed to be out to be safe, but once I knew for sure it was happening that afternoon, I felt a little bit terrified. All of the sudden I was changing into a hospital gown and wiping down with weird sterilizing cloths. I wanted time to slow down.

Aaron donned his gear and walked me down the hallway to the operating room holding my hand. I remember uttering silent prayers for the safe entrance of my little baby boy. I found myself whispering to him in those last minutes in my belly how much I loved him, how excited I was to meet him and how honored I was to be his mom. Telling him he was exactly what the world needed and that we were ready for him.

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Aaron was positively radiating joy and excitement. I’d seen his little kid on Christmas morning face before, in fact it was this capacity for wonder that made me fall in love with him, but on that day it was all the more. I thought in that moment with him that it was the most I’d ever loved anyone. They weren’t going to let Aaron stay with me while they administered the spinal block so he went back to wait and I entered the operating room.

waitingformags The hospital staff was gathered around to introduce themselves to me and the room glowed with bright white-blue light. It felt incredibly surreal. One of the nurses made conversation with me as I squatted over the table and the anesthesiologist prepped me. She had the kindest smile and bright blue eyes and as I chatted with her and told her our baby name and what I knew of our boy so far, she made me feel so safe. Her kindness was an incredible blessing. Getting the block was uncomfortable, but unremarkable. I remember getting help moving from the squat up on the table, to down flat on table as I was quickly losing feeling in my legs. Several people remarked at how calm I seemed as I was cracking jokes about Magnus’s head size and preeclampsia sparing my lady parts. I told them I knew I was in good hands and I wasn’t afraid.

Then I lost feeling in the lower half of my body. Which really isn’t a great way to describe it, because I didn’t lose all feeling, just normal feeling, what it actually felt like is that half of me was suddenly 4x heavier and my butt and legs were full of that pins and needles you feel when your foot falls asleep. I desperately wanted to move them, but I couldn’t and it freaked me out a little. I was complaining about it when I broke out in a terrible sweat and a rush of extreme nausea hit so violent I was certain I was going to pass out and/or vomit. The anesthesiologist added something to my dosing for that, and the wave of awful crashed right as Aaron was ushered in. I was so relieved he was there. He took my hand and as the worst of the nausea faded, I complained about how funny my ass felt.

My doctor came in and the surgical field was set. He asked if we were ready to meet our baby. We were! I felt the pressure and tugging I knew to expect from reading c-section stories all weekend just in case. The doctor asked Aaron if he felt up to taking a look. Aaron being 6’4 and not at all squeamish, stood up and easily peered over the blind. I remember feeling left out, so I asked Aaron to tell me if he could see Magnus. Before he could answer, the doctor asked if me if I wanted to hear about him or see him for myself? Of course, I wanted to see this tiny little person I was already in love with, so he lifted him up over the field.

It was only for a second, but I remember thinking he didn’t look like I expected. As I did, some of the goo that he was covered with dripped off of him and landed right on my mouth! Talk about baptism by fire! Less than a minute into motherhood and already the gross had started. I couldn’t even wipe it off. My arms were still strapped down, and I couldn’t speak because what was on my mouth would fall into my mouth. No one noticed as they whisked the baby over to examine him. Aaron went with him, like we’d planned, and anyone not attending to the baby was busy helping the doctor close me up, all except for the anesthesiologist. Mercifully, after what felt like a lifetime but was probably less than 30 seconds, he noticed and wiped me off.

I heard Magnus wail and my heart sang. I called over inquiring about his Apgar score. My doctor, who knew me too well, laughed and told me when they cry like that you don’t have to worry about the number (it was 8). They finished closing me up, unhooked and unstrapped me

Aaron had Magnus swaddled and cradled in his arms when they brought him over to me. He looked red and swollen and totally adorable. I asked for him immediately. Looking back and forth between his face and Aaron’s and realizing that no matter what else happened, we were finally the family we were always meant to be. My heart had burst wide open. I got to hold him as they wheeled us back to my room, beaming and crying the whole way at the sheer magic of this little creature we’d brought into the world. As we passed our families waiting in the lobby, the feeling got even stronger. Just minutes old and already so loved. He was here!

Magnus Leo Allard was born at 37 weeks and 3 days on July 6th, 2016 at 1:50pm. He was 8lbs 8oz, 20.5 inches long with a head full of hair that no one had expected.

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FAQs about Our Experiences thus far with Multi-generational Living

Q: Wait, You really moved in with your parents voluntarily? /Side-eye

A: Yes! While this decision certainly has financial upside, for us it was a choice and not out of grave necessity.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with family helping family when times get hard, but there are other valid (IMO) reasons for wanting to do this. I think the “modern” conception that we are supposed to go it alone from generation to generation is sad.  Family life is hard for almost everyone, even with unlimited financial resources there aren’t unlimited hours in a day and many hands make work light. Plus for us, we really weren’t sure where to go next, so it was a great opportunity to test out an idea we’ve been increasingly interested in.

Q: How are things going?

A: Things are going very well. Both families are cooking more meals at home, laughing more, and having more fun that we did when living separately. So far at least, the benefit seem to greatly outweigh any burdens.

Q: What did you do with all of your stuff?

A: We sold some (Craigslist, friends, etc), gave lots away, and crammed the rest into my parents house. There is a lot of our stuff along the sides of both garages, that is just waiting to be dealt with, but oh well!

Q: What did your parents do with their stuff?

A: They did an amazing job of clearing most of their stuff out of the main floor of the home by some things upstairs to fill vacant spaces, getting rid of LOTS of junk, giving some family treasures to extended family members, and moving some treasures down to their Florida cottage. I think it was hard on them at the time mostly because it happened on a very compressed schedule, but the hope is that it will eventually  make it much easier for them to move when they downsize.

Q: So are things totally crazy?

A: They were. Totally nuts. For at least a month. But little by little we all worked to get things put mostly back together. Between when Magnus was about 2 weeks old to about 6 weeks old I spent almost all of his nap times unpacking and finding homes for things. Aaron would spend a little time after work most nights moving heavy things into place, my dad made daily runs to donate stuff for weeks and weeks and my mom was a workhorse! She took the Florida Room which was sort of the holding space and totally impassable and in a few days of hard work had it looking like a usable room again. Okay so we still sometimes don’t know where a seldom used kitchen implement is, and I haven’t yet found the box that has the thank-you-notes-I-started-writing-in-the-spring-and-haven’t-finished-yet-cause-I’m-a-terrible person, by day to day we’re getting by comfortably.

Q: Do you miss your house?

A: Surprisingly, not really. I thought it would be harder for me cause I’m so into houses and stuff, and I poured myself into our old house, and because I am a homebody, but in actuality, I LOVE so much about our new living situation. I do miss entertaining which I could theoretically do more of, but I still don’t quite feel settled enough to throw a party or invite big groups of people in. But after four months, I feel more sure than ever that it was the exact right choice for us.

Q: What’s the best part of living in one house with your parents?

A: While the help we’ve received with the baby has been truly extraordinary, the BEST best part has come from being together. Watching my parents get to know their grandson, enjoying more family dinners, and having company during my maternity leave after Aaron had to go back to work, it’s been so wonderful. Call us crazy, but we really, really like to be together.

Q: So it isn’t free rent or babysitting or laundry or insert assumed or actual perk here?

A: Nope. Honestly. While I will never be able to properly express my gratitude to my parents for keeping Magnus this fall to ease my transition back to work before he starts daycare, and my mom has been a saint to help with (read, do almost all of) our laundry while I recovered after the birth,  and it’s amazing to get to save some money, the best part is actually in being together.

Aaron and I do sometimes worry about the benefits being too lopsided, so we’re constantly looking for ways to contribute more. We’ve gotten the family cooking more which is good for us all. We’ve taken over the utilities, and try to cover as many of the groceries, incidentals and maintenance costs as my parents will let us. I know Aaron and I are both looking forward to rolling up our sleeves more in the coming months to help my parents freshen the house for it’s eventual sale, but Aaron has already finished an unfinished storage closet that adds value for us now for storage and in the future for resale.

Q: How’s Aaron doing living with his in-laws?

A: I’ll try not to speak for him, but just on what I’ve observed, I think he’s pretty happy too. It was a little bit rough for everyone at the beginning when things were in chaos, but Aaron is unique in his ability to make things work. He did an excellent job balancing meeting his needs and establishing our (Aaron, Mary, Magnus) family’s rhythms all while folding himself in with my (my parents and their kids) family’s ways of living.

Q: Do you have any privacy?

A: Meh? Kinda? Mostly enough. Both Aaron and I, and my parents will each retreat into our respective bedrooms from time to time.  We’ve also each taken separate trips and evenings out, so it works out pretty well. I’d analogize it to most any roommate situation, except you have even less pressure to shield them from the ugly moments. And personally, the indignities of pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding, have dramatically decreased my need for privacy anyway.

Q: What’s the worst part?

A: Moving. Moving was the worst part, by a lot. It was not fun. It was very stressful and almost everyone was upset at some point in the process. But on any sort of ongoing basis, I’d say probably not having quite the right set-up rather than anything about actually living together.

Also my parent’s house wasn’t really designed for multi-gen living (or at least not our ideal of it) so we have a few storage and use issues from time to time. Sharing a kitchen is probably the hardest, but it helps that most home cooked meals are joint.

Q: How has your thinking for the next house you buy changed?

A: We will put a lot more value on a one story floorplan. Adding a baby to the family while living on the main floor of my parents house has let us realize how lovely it is to have basically everything we need on a single story. We also put even greater value on bathroom space, storage space, and kitchen design because we’re lacking enough of all in our current setup. We’re interested in multi-gen living in a future space also, so we keep our eyes out for suitable spaces.

Q: How long do you intend to stay there?

A: ? We don’t really know. A year? Two? Ish? So far it’s going really well and we still aren’t quite sure what we want to come next. It depends on when my parents are ready to put their house on the market, what’s going on with our family’s work/life balance, and when the right thing comes along. We think we’d like to be moving in to a new place before Baby #2 would arrive, but we don’t plan to start trying until next summer so that gives us a pretty decent window. In some ways I wouldn’t be surprised to fall in love with a house and make a move relatively quickly, but we’re certainly in no rush and I think it’s more likely we’ll stay put through 2016.

 

Q: Would you recommend it?

A: Not to answer like a lawyer, but it depends. Are you super close your family? Is your spouse? Are most of the parties pretty flexible? If I’m honest, I’m probably the least flexible person in our arrangement. My parents and my husband have all given me incredible latitude here, and that’s probably a big part of why I’m happy with it. It means more compromise that I am used to, but not more than I can handle. It’s humbling to move into someone else’s space after controlling your own for several years, especially for someone like me who built up large parts of my identity around the home I created. It’s also incredibly rewarding. If you’re interested I’d recommend trying to go in with common and clear expectations.

Q: Are you glad you did it?

A: Yes! So many times over. It isn’t all rainbows and unicorns but it is exactly what we needed. It has given us enormous support for this transition to parenthood and frees us up to take a good hard look at what the next, right, housing-fit is for our family. In the last few weeks my company announced large layoffs which will likely have a big impact on our local housing market. Had we waited until after the baby was born, our house might have been that much harder to sell. The relief that I feel knowing that we are free to make the choices that are best for our family is huge.

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Happy Halloween!

Hope your holiday is full of fun.

image Da do0! From Audrey, Seymour, Orin and Audrey 2

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5 weeks, 5 weddings #withababy

This fall we had a bounty of wedded bliss to celebrate between friends and family members. So much so that now if it’s Saturday and we’re not at a wedding or reception, the baby is probably very confused. In fact, after five weekends in a row of celebrating weddings, he probably thought that’s just what we do on Saturdays.

Magnus has been a real trooper about it. For the most part he’s charmed the pants off most of the wedding crowds while napping, smiling, and even hitting the dance floor. His behavior has been so angelic at these events that he has contributed to our delusion that ewe might actually know what we’re doing with this baby. It’s fun.  And since we’ve had so much practice of late, I thought I’d share what works for us in hitting the wedding circuit with a baby.

Here are my tips for taking infants to weddings:

  1. Arrive early to get a good seat near the back in case you need to make a speedy exit. Babies are wily little creatures.
  2. Have food ready and available. I was sure to breastfeed Magnus right before each ceremony, because a full Magnus is a happy Magnus, but even still we’d have a bottle prepped. And since quiet is called for during ceremonies, he got to eat at the first sign of wanting to instead of after taking the time to double-check all the cues. But it worked! No crying during wedding ceremonies from our little guy.
  3. Soak up the opportunities to dress your baby in ridiculous outfits. If there is ever a “good reason” to buy too many baby bow ties, surely this is it, or if you’re my particular brand of crazy, to plan color coordinated outfits for the whole family.
  4. Bring backup outfits. PLURAL. You never know for sure where a blowout will strike, but odds are it will happen in a public, formal setting, like say a rather loud emission as a bride made her way down the aisle. Ooops!
  5. Take as many pictures as you can. We did better at this at some events than others, but we’re learning the more pictures taken, the better the chances of something usable. But really, what’s the point of ridiculous baby ensembles if you don’t have photographic proof of them? And they really do grow up so fast!
  6. Accept help. Sleepy babies are heavy, pass them back and forth if need be between parents. Dead arm is no way to start your evening. Also there will be people at these events that want to help you. If you’re confident you aren’t risking crazy germ exposures, let them hold the baby while you dance with your partner. Let them hold the doors for you. Let them help you carry the extra plate back from the buffet. If you’re lucky enough to have baby’s grandparents in attendance, and they’re kind enough to take baby home early, say yes please and thank you!
  7. Know your limits and your baby’s. It’s okay not to stay until they kick you out, your friends will understand. Also know your limits on wedding boozing. 4am feeds with a hangover are a lot less fun for everyone. Also when baby is done, let him be done. It’s not the right time for a battle of wills, sure maybe you will eventually calm your tiny terrorist, but don’t be a hero. If baby gets too cranky, clear out, you can win that battle in the privacy of your car or hotel room.

After sharing this I realize, these are really my tips for going anywhere with a baby.

And for your viewing pleasure here are some pictures of our family at these blessed events:

Magnus waving a ribbon wand after Anna & Joey's gorgeous wedding!

Magnus waving a ribbon wand after Anna & Joey’s gorgeous wedding!

Mommy and Magnus shaking tail feathers on the dance floor at Alyssa & Matt's amazing wedding!

Mommy and Magnus shaking tail feathers on the dance floor at Alyssa & Matt’s amazing wedding!

Practicing being a very fancy baby

Practicing being a very fancy baby to celebrate Heidi and Barry

Someone signaling his approaching bedtime after partying hard in celebration of Katie and Brennan

Someone signaling his approaching bedtime after partying hard in celebration of Katie and Brennan

 

Family selfie at Megan and Daniel's glorious day!

Family selfie at Megan and Daniel’s glorious day!

I’m so looking forward to our last wedding celebration of the fall this coming weekend. We’ll be heading south for a family reception in Georgia for my lovely cousin and her new husband. I’m so excited to celebrate them, see my extended family and introduce them to our little guy!

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Showered with Love, And Books!

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So you know how I said I’d be rewinding? This is some of that, it’s older but too cute not to share. WAY back in late May, baby sister assisted by some of my very best friends, threw a little baby shower for me and Magnus. It was wonderful!

They opted for a storybook theme that ran from the invitations, to the food, to the decor! Get ready to pin, because there are some very steal-worthy ideas here. My cousin (and friend!) Mariel opened up her lovely home to the small group, comprised of girlfriends from high school, college, law school, and beyond. And with food and drink assists from my friends Allie and Emily, it was quite the fete!

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The spread!

 

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Peter Rabbit Veggie Cups

 

Very Hungry Caterpillar Cupcakes!

Very Hungry Caterpillar Cupcakes!

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Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs

 

Green Eggs and Ham!

Green Eggs and Ham!

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The Stinky Cheese Man Cheese Plate

 

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If You Give a Mouse a Cookie – Cookies & Milk

 

Blueberries for Sal = Scrumptious Blueberry Macaroons

Blueberries for Sal – Scrumptious Blueberry Macaroons

How cute is this book sign?

How cute is this book sign? Bad pic, but we had it on display in the nursery pre-move

In addition to the delicious and adorable story book foods, the girls decorated onesies for Baby A.
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The afternoon was full of laughter (and maybe a few tears… but in fairness I was very pregnant and very sentimental so some of the messages to Baby A in the books really got to me!). I especially enjoyed the horrified looks on the non-mama’s faces when I opened some much-needed nursing aids and they learned what those products would be used for and the laughter that prompted from the mamas in the group!

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Darling Diaper Cakes!

Darling Diaper Cakes!

Baby and I, surrounded by the party planners!

Baby and I, surrounded by the party planners!

My brother’s girlfriend Ashley made me the MOST hilarious baby gift I’ve ever seen, a swaddling blanket that will make Baby A a baby burrito!

Practicing burrito swaddling on Totle

Practicing burrito swaddling on Totle

And even a few further flung friends managed to pitch in to help shower us with love. My darling friend and fabulous-florist Ryan had the most stunning floral arrangements made and delivered. My dear friend Ashley floored Aaron and I with her generosity by sending us the Pack N’ Play we’d registered for!

The invitations in keeping with the storybook theme came with a special request: “Just one more thing, we hope isn’t too hard, please bring a book instead of card.”
And as a result, we’ve gotten to start building a little library for our little guy that we are started enjoying even before he arrived!

Totle and I reading to the baby in utero.

Totle and I reading to the baby in utero.

The book nook in the old nursery

The book nook in the old nursery

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Mastering a New Master – Mini Move and Design Plan

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We wanted to wait for the official closing for the big move (out of prudence), but given the very real possibility that my early labor could turn into active labor at really any point, we opted to move our bedroom early.

The thinking there was that in doing so, no matter when Magnus made his grand debut, we’d have one room ready to go for us coming home from the hospital. I’d also read a good tip for any move is to pick one room to set up first before tackling others, so that you have a port in the storm that is a sea of moving boxes. This was a good decision for us, since as you know now he showed up three weeks early! It also made sense because we planned for him to be bunking in our bedroom the first several weeks anyway (STILL IS).

 

The old Master, but apparently on laundry day missing the grey duvet

Our master in the old house was only okay. And because no two rooms are identical, and our bedroom is  higher value real estate to us in a shared housing situation, I wasn’t comfortable just transporting our current setup straight into the new room, things needed to be remixed. For starters the room we moved out of was on the smaller side for a master (14′ x 13′) with alcoves that make the space a little harder to lay out, and several elements needed to be addressed: 

  • The tiny little nightstands that didn’t meet our storage needs leaving the tops perpetually cluttered
  • The leather headboard we’ve been using we’d purchased for song at auction (I think we have $50 in it) and wasn’t playing nicely with our low-profile box springs (it left a gap that pillows fell through nightly)
  • The rug situation, because we’d agreed to include the rug in our current bedroom in the sale of our house.
  • We need more drawer storage to offset what we’ll lose in our hallway built-in (that’s where Aaron had been keeping his casual clothes).
  • I needed to find space in our new living situation for the adorable coral x-benches we’d gotten as wedding presents from my cousin Mariel
  • I also wanted to use our West Elm Green Glass Jug Lamps
  • Aaron wanted a darker color on the walls to promote a sleep cocoon and black out drapes for the windows
  • I was ready to let go of the vanity setup since I found I did my makeup sitting on the bed every day anway
  • I was sick of our old bedding (not pictured, charcoal grey), and with a darker wall color it would look dreadful

So while on bedrest, awaiting the arrival of our little lion, I started cooking up a plan.

I knew I needed to find a way to tie together emerald green, coral, and a dark wall color. I also needed to find a home for a gorgeous oriental rug that came to me originally belonged to my late Uncle John and then my Grandmother. It had lived in the dining room at our old house, and it is was too precious (and pretty) not to have a great home in our new setup.

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I bounced around ideas in my head and trolled Pinterest for inspiration but then it came to me, put the two together! The coral benches would pick up the coraly tones in the rug and the emerald could enhance the sagey green, plus I already knew the rug could hold its own with a dark wall color.

So I started playing around with a mock-ups to get to the right solution.

I leaned immediately toward a deep blue or navy, after all I already knew I loved navy walls with the rug and I know my mom is a fan of navy (it’s still her house), but I wanted to be sure so I tried out a few options in photoshop (charcoal – too grey, black -fought the rug, emerald – too taste specific for resale and didn’t work with the lamps) but quickly confirmed that Navy was the way to go.

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Mock-up

We picked Naval by Sherwin Williams and hired a local contractor who had done some work for us at the old house to get it painted since we had our hands full packing and I was too pregnant to paint. While we were add it we had him take all the trim from Ivory to White, and that alone made a HUGE difference in how the room felt.

I knew with Navy walls we’d need to bring in lighter elements or the room would feel like a cave. Enter white nightstands and primarily white bedding. Plus I just love how crisp a room feels with white bedding!

We decided on new bedding from Pottery Barn and ordered the  Morgan 400-Thread-Count Duvet & Sham, in Desert Rose and the Shelby Geo Duvet Cover. Why two duvets? We’ve found one key to a happy marriage is that we each have our own comforter so no is accused of hogging the covers! I’ve never spent anywhere near $400 on bedding before, but I had a good coupon code and it was exactly what the space called for, so I splurged.
We found the headboard for 75% off at our auction website and while over in Cincinatti picked up two Hemnes three drawer dressers from IKEA. Now both of these items required a little work because the headboard had a small defect near the side wing that needed to be stitched (thanks sister friend!) and the dressers had to be built, but we were making progress.

We mounted the Z Gallerie Pierre Mirror that had hung over our mantel in the old house over our bed, moved in the furniture, set up an awesome Pack ‘N Play from our dear friends the Hoppers in one corner and called it a bedroom while we waited on Baby.

Well actually that’s not quite true, I was insistent that the outlets in the room all needed to be swapped out because not only were they icky bisque (dated and clashed with the freshly painted trim) but all the outlets were loose (everything would come unplugged when you tried to use it) which is a fire hazard. And with all the other moving tasks, it didn’t quite get done before I landed myself in the hospital with preeclampsia, so I MIGHT have begged Aaron to go to the house the morning of my c-section (prior to the procedure) to switch out the outlets. And because he loves me and is smart enough not to argue with a crying pregnant lady, he obliged.

It took several weeks to get any art hung or anything else unpacked or decorated, but at least we had our beds set-up when we brought our lil guy home for the first time!

Back soon with the “after” photos!

Posted in Home Sweet Home Tagged with: ,

Moving Out, While Largely Unable to Move

HA! This post was written a few days before Mr. Magnus arrived in early July, I’ll go ahead and post it now without edits and still an update on the end.

So if you missed the announcement in our last post, we’re under contract to sell our house! This is great news, as we wanted to sell our house to make room for more flexibility in our lifestyle. We still have a closing to get through, but we’ve cleared all the major hurdles and are hopeful that it’s smooth sailing from here on out.

So yay! We’re moving. But I’m nine months pregnant and have been on and off bed-rest over the last two months trying to prevent a preterm arrival of our little man, Magnus Leo, which makes moving and really all things infinitely harder. I know some women are either lucky (or tanks) and can keep working full-speed right up until delivery but that just hasn’t been my experience. After an infection in early May kicked off pre-term labor, things had been pretty well under control most of June, right up until last weekend I pushed myself too a little too hard physically trying to get sets ready for Willy Wonka, and whamo – contractions were back with a vengeance. I thought I was pacing, I stayed hydrated, I sought seated tasks, I let people help, but baby was not having it. So I had to listen to my doctors, my body, and my baby and slow things way back down. Obviously I wasn’t going to be doing any heavy lifting anyway, but this development is going to make the task of moving even harder as it limits my ability to make trips up and down the stairs, pack, bend over, generally exist, etc.

Lucky for me, my husband is a beast. Like could almost be a one-man moving company. Years of experience with manual labor and his last year of active weight-training have made many jobs that I’d expect to need three men for, solo work for my hulk of a husband. This helps a lot. We looked at hiring professional help for the whole enterprise, but given that we aren’t planning a one for one move, there is still a lot of leg-work required on our end organizing and once we do that, it doesn’t seem to make as much sense to spend big bucks if we have to do hard work anyway.

So Aaron is the muscle, and I’m trying to pull my weight, despite not being able to carry any weight, by making super-detailed plans and designing strategies to chunk the activity into smaller bites so we have a prayer of getting it done around/before baby.

I’ve started by making a master spreadsheet of all of our furniture and major case goods and labeling it as use, sell, or store. To do this I had to have a plan for where our stuff could fit in at my parents house. They’ve been super flexible about making room for us and our stuff and my mom and I were able to talk through using my favorite free floor planning software (floorplanner.com) where everything should go.

Once stuff was designated “use”, I added another column to indicate what room at my parents’ house it would move to. Where it was sell, I added an asking price, so I’d have that all ready to go to list stuff on craigslist and/or price it for a garage sale.

Moving List

Aaron and my parents got the ball rolling last week by clearing out what will be our new bedroom at their house, and we’re now in full-scale moving mode. It isn’t exactly easy or stress-free, but if we can get the bulk of it done before baby, it’ll be worth it!

Update: We sailed through our closing and offically sold the house. We had to be out two days before Magnus’s due date aka, twoish weeks after he was actually born. It was insanity. Things are STILL in boxes. I still think the spreadsheets were a good call, it would have been better if more people had read them, or if we’d had really any other timing situation. Kudos to Aaron, my parents and our dear friends Allie & Ross for getting us through it!

Posted in Family Style, Home Sweet Home, Recipes for Success Tagged with: ,

And we’re back.. + 1 new baby – 1 old house

Ok, unintentional 3 month blog break. Let’s blame the care and feeding of one tiny lil baby shall we? Want to play quickie catch-up before I rewind and delve into some of the details?

It’s been the best three months of my life, with some of its most grueling moment sprinkled in along the way.

How so you ask? Well…the week I had an unplanned C-section was also the week we moved out of our house…. and in with my parents.  The Holmes and Rahe stress scale awards us major points (more points is worse here) for cramming all those into one year let alone one week. It was a doozy but SO worth it.

Things are going really well on all fronts.

And our tiny baby bean is not so tiny anymore!

Birthday Boy, freshly hatched.

Birthday Boy, freshly hatched.

One Month!

One Month!

Two months!

Two months!

3 months old!

Three months old!

 

But there’s lots more than baby to catch you up on (and much more about him) so we’ll be posting again very soon and on the regular!

Posted in Family Style Tagged with: , ,

Borderline

Right now I live between two worlds.

I am in many ways a mother, yet I do not have my baby to hold.

I still technically own a home, but I no longer really live there. I am straddling two housing situations both very much in the midst of chaos.

I am also flirting with the lines of a couple medical situations. Instead of co-ordinating moving tasks as planned,  I’ve spent basically the entire holiday weekend in the hospital riding the edges of a preeclampsia diagnosis. I’ve had perfect (even low at one point) blood pressure my whole pregnancy, but Thursday night I started to feel off, and noticed some intense swelling in my hands, feet, and face. A little concerned, I checked my BP at home and I started seeing some troubling numbers. It was already after hours on a holiday weekend so I called the birthing center, reported what was going on and was encouraged to keep a close eye on it and to take it very easy. I did just that Friday, but the numbers were headed in the wrong direction. When I called with an update, I was ordered to come in. After a couple hours hospital bed rest on my left side, my numbers were back down near normal and a preliminary urine test was only slightly elevated. They sent me home with strict instructions for bed rest, jugs to collect my urine for 24 hours, instructions to come back if anything got worse and a warning to prepare for a possible Monday c-section. By mid-afternoon Saturday I’d deteriorated significantly, despite spending the entire day resting or asleep, so I was directed to come back to the birthing center this time to stay. For the second time, I was told to prepare for a c-section in the morning if my urine numbers came back high and my blood pressure didn’t improve. But true to my medical mystery history, come morning I was 1/2. My urine counts showed way too much protein but my blood pressures had fallen back to textbook perfection, so since baby wasn’t in any distress, I was back to limbo land.

If you’ve tried and failed to get a hold of me this weekend, please forgive me, I’ve been more than a little frustrated and distracted. I wanted this baby to have every day of baking time he needed to be healthy, but have also been weighing that against some possibly scary complications of keeping him in, so it’s been a trying time.

I went to bed last night preparing for another night and morning of life on the borderline, but my very favorite OB just came back and said it’s GO TIME. Looks like I have a reprieve after four days of baby chicken!

So Happy Birthday Magnus! We are so excited to meet to you!

Posted in Family Style Tagged with: ,

Multi-generational Living

So a few updates, literally the same week we finished decorating the nursery, we accepted an offer to buy our house. Isn’t that just the way life works? We’re very excited to be moving on, but will miss our beautiful home! We’ve already cleared inspection and things seem to be on track for a mid-July closing (fingers crossed). The only complication is, well I also have a baby due in July and we obviously need someplace to go!

Did you guys know that multi-generational living is on the rise around the country? It’s true! Driven by the 2008 recession, a slow recovery, and an aging boomer population, more and more American families are deciding to double up generations in a single home.

It has a lot of benefits. For aging parents, it can be a way to offload some of the burdens of keeping up a home, or  a path to avoid assisted living. For young families, it can be a huge benefit to have grandparents on hand to help out with some of the childcare. And for all it can be a huge money-saver. Not to mention the benefits that can accrue to relationships between the generations.

Most of my childhood was spent 2000+ miles away from either set of my grandparents, and in a lot of ways I feel like I missed out on knowing them as well as I could have. I had great grandparents and have cherished memories of visits with both sets, but in comparison to kids who grew up with grandparents as part of daily life, my relationships weren’t nearly as close. I have incredible parents and I want my son to have every opportunity to know them as well he possibly can.  Also, we just generally like being together. A lot. We probably all have dinner together twice a week and I’m with my folks for lunch at least that often. When our schedules don’t align, or they’re down in Florida for long stretches of time, I miss them tons!  So as we make plans for this next phase of life, I know I want to be close to my parents. How close? We’re starting to think there might be some real value for all of us in living under one roof.

In the past when Aaron and I had discussed the possibility of selling our current home in the wake of missing out on a dream house, we’d struggled on where to go next. My job is in Columbus, and I know that commuting makes me really unhappy, plus I plan to try breastfeed and while I could certainly do that and commute, it would be a lot easier and nicer to be able to actually breastfeed as opposed to pumping over lunch.  So a natural choice would have been to look for a different home in Columbus, but when we talked about it, it just didn’t feel right. Columbus is great, it really is, for a whole lot of people, for a whole lot of reasons. However, the conventional wisdom says if you’re not planning to stay someplace for 3-5 years, you shouldn’t buy a house, and if we were sure about staying in Columbus another 5 years, we’d have just invested more heavily in our current lovely house. We don’t feel like we can commit to Columbus for 5 more years right now.  Aaron’s job is in Indianapolis, and he’s been a major trooper about the commute but it is full of trade-offs and bummers and as our family grows, we’re not sure how this will play out. We may choose to stay right here, and if as we start to have answers to more of our ‘how are we going to do this” questions point back toward Columbus, we can always buy another house… or we may want to explore other options (splitting the commuting difference, job changes, something else entirely?).  But right now, as we figure things out, we don’t really want the ties that accompany real estate.

We considered renting, but Columbus has a stupidly tight and expensive rental market thanks in large part to our booming job market. Plus renting just bums me out because I like the freedom to renovate and change things. So if we’re not buying, and we’re not renting, what the heck are we doing? Well if you haven’t guessed from where this post started…. we’re moving in with my Mom and Dad.

Although it certainly wouldn’t be for everyone, for us, it 100% feels like the right choice.

I feel really fortunate that my husband and my parents are so compatible.  We stayed with them for a couple of weeks when we had some pre-sale plaster repairs done at our house to keep me out of the dust, and we all really had fun. Our goal is to stay there for the next year or two at which point we hope to have a better idea of where we might like to buy next.

My parents are at the stage in life where they are ready to downsize. They’re no longer interested in the all up-keep that goes along with large home and while they’re emotionally very ready to sell the place they’ve called home for the better part of two decades, the home is not quite market ready. It’s in a lovely, desirable neighborhood in Columbus with great schools, but it hasn’t been updated really in the whole time they’ve owned it so it’s in need of some sprucing and TLC for them to attract the right buyer and be able to sell it for a price that makes sense. Since Aaron and I love this stuff, we can lead the charge to get things freshened up which we hope will put my parents closer to their goal of getting out of the house, and we’ll have back up and help with the new baby. Win-win! We’ll all also be able to split expenses which is just nice for everyone as Aaron. So other than the hassle of having to deal with downsizing two households full of stuff so that we fit into one house while I’m 9 months pregnant, it’s all hopefully upside, for everyone.

Stay tuned for the details on how we plan to try to manage the move and our updating plans for our new (old) home.

 

 

 

Posted in Family Style, Home Sweet Home Tagged with: ,

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