Moved in

July 6th, 2014 :: 6 comments :: permalink

MovedIn1We are finally all moved in. Packing and unpacking with an infant makes for a lot of stop and go. Luckily I work so close to our new place that I could unpack at lunch or right after work, before Avery and Dustin got home. As far as remodeling went, removing the wall between the kitchen and living room created more openness and let more light in the rest of the apartment. The fauxdenza below the TV is another added storage area and is a lot safer for Avery than our old wood and metal coffee table. And all of the white contrasts the newly stained dark floors.
MovedIn2We went back and forth on the length of the kitchen island, but after seeing it installed at half its current length, we decided to go for a more dramatic effect.  Making it longer also gave us more room for an extra cabinet. I can picture lining the island with bar stools when it is time to resell.MovedIn3This is the first time we’ve had enough space for a dining room. We purchased our table a few years ago as a desk, but hoped to use it as a dining table in the future. It’s nice to finally eat dinner together. As an added bonus, this has meant our TV watching has been cut down to nearly zero. The last time I skimmed a reality show, I felt like gouging my own eyes out. Family time is definitely more fulfilling.

MovedIn6Since we no longer had a desk, we built a little work area in our closet. Only one of us can work at a time, but that is usually fine these days.
MovedIn4Out of all the rooms, I was happiest with Avery’s. In our last apartment, Avery was sharing a room with us and now she gets to rock out to the “Hamster dance song” and crawl around on her Flor faux grass carpet. I’m not a huge fan of pink, but I wanted a little girly touch with the Mur decals. And the dresser Dustin designed for our old bedroom is now Avery’s.

MovedIn5We added a book shelf at Avery’s level and put her more fragile books on the top. She spends a lot of time taking books off the shelves and putting them back up. I hope she continues to like to put things back in their original spots. Most likely this is wishful thinking.

Well that is it for now. We learned a great deal from this process. I think one of the big things was that construction will only last for so long and that it will most likely work out in the end. Hopefully we can continue our renovation in the future for our bathrooms…budget permitting.

 

 

Under Construction

May 28th, 2014 :: 8 comments :: permalink

Construction_Kitchen1_tapeIt’s been ages since I’ve had a moment to blog. I’ve missed it. After seeing this post, you might understand why. So much has changed the last couple of months. Avery is an energetic ball of energy that can now crawl or pull herself up to anything sharp or dangerous at the speed of light. I recently started a new job in a new location in the city and Dustin has been taking on a lot of personal projects that keep him working late into the night. To top it off, we decided it was time to invest in ourselves and buy a home.Construction_Kitchen8We saw a lot of potential in the place we ultimately bought in the Loop neighborhood of Chicago, but there were a few things that needed to be updated to our style. The kitchen was very small (wide angle lens made it appear bigger) and not as modern as we would have liked. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and it’s probably one of the most important rooms in the home to me. Despite the issues, there were so many other things we liked about the condo, so we took the leap and bought our first home. Construction_Kitchen2

Dustin and I are both designers (he put these renderings together) and had a very clear vision of what we liked and disliked. Dustin wanted everything to line up and look modern and I wanted to add textures here and there to bring balance and make it feel homey. In the backs of our minds, we always had resale value in mind. It was very important to us to have the flexibility to quickly sell this home in the future, so we didn’t want to do anything too personal or extreme. For instance, we wanted to paint a few walls black, but that would probably have been polarizing to some people. We decided to darken the floors, which should make the white cabinets pop.

I had the idea to add a fauxdenza beneath the TV in the living room. It will be nice to get rid of our coffee table, whose corners seem to have it out for Avery. It will open up a lot more room for us as well.

Construction_Kitchen3I take credit for coming up with the idea of a continuous countertop instead of a floating island. I thought it would add value to the kitchen, since it will also create a “bar” sitting area and extra counter space. Dustin spec’d cabinets that would wrap around the fridge perfectly and worked tirelessly to get everything to line up within the dimensions and constraints of the existing soffit.

Construction_Kitchen4Then the contractors started and the fun began. You can see how small the original kitchen was. Construction_Kitchen5

Construction_Kitchen6Once the walls were taken down, we hit our first speed bump. We knew there would probably be a few such bumps, but hoped they wouldn’t be crazy expensive. It turns out the hardwood floor in the kitchen and living room was built around the wall frame and none of the wood strips in the kitchen aligned with the strips in the living room. After a short debate about switching to tile in the kitchen, we decided to throw money credit at the problem and just lay new flooring in that room. We re-floored an entire room because the wood didn’t line up…such are the crosses we bear as designers.

Construction_Kitchen7Setback number two. The cabinets were a little off and did not match the fridge cutout. We could have widened the cutout, but then the light switches would have needed to move. It seemed like a big deal at the time, but we just slid the whole wall of cabinets down and used a filler piece at the other end to hide the gap.

Construction_Kitchen9We knew going into moving that construction would be stressful, but holy moly. Dealing with a condo association for the first time and living next to one of its board members has been amazingly difficult. There were so many rules to follow and, oddly enough, even when there were no rules to cover a situation, things still didn’t work in our favor. We gave a bottle of Riesling to all of our neighbors and told them we apologized for the noise, but it would hopefully only last two weeks. Most of them were super nice and gave us thank you notes welcoming us to the building. Needless to say, we did not get such a note from the neighbor that was a board member. Maybe she wanted Prosecco. We bit our tongues as much as possible and just kept telling ourselves we were almost at the endpoint.

As I write this, the kitchen is coming together nicely. They put the final coat of varnish on the floors, placed the matte black backsplash titles, and added the island, which I guess is more of a peninsula than an island.

Construction_Avery1Avery’s room was the next big thing on our construction list. Living in an open loft-inspired space would be great if it were just Dustin and myself, but not with a baby. We extended the tops of the walls in Avery’s room to the ceiling and added glass to the opening near the kitchen. Legally, Chicago requires natural lighting in a room for it to be considered a bedroom, so the glass helps us meet that requirement while still blocking noise. Sadly, we also removed the custom shelves for extra space and added a door from her bathroom to the hallway. I didn’t like the idea of guest having to go through her room to use the bathroom.

Construction_Avery4These are a few inspirations I found for Avery’s big girl room. I’m not sure about the chalk board wall yet. It sounds fun, but messy. Even though she really likes to tear books into little pieces and eat them right now, I want her to have a comfy little reading nook for when she’s older.

1. Project Nursery  2. Little greennote book  3. West Elm 4.Wooden wall hooks 5. Monsooncraft.com 6. Ikea shelves 7.Mur decals 8. Cushion Crochet

Construction_Avery2Construction_Avery3One day we’d like to redo the bathrooms, but for now the budgets say “later.”Construction_Avery6Things started progressing quickly as moving day approached. Avery’s room gained walls and a door. The glass sheet that will close off the top of her room had a big scratch on it so had to be reordered. Her bathroom became accessible from the hallway!

Construction_Avery5One weekend, I went to Rebuilding exchange to find reclaimed wood for a shelf in Avery’s room. I was overwhelmed with the selection, but found my diamond in the rough. It kind of glowed compared to all the other boards, don’t you think? In the back of the warehouse, there was a woodworking class and used sinks and appliances kept the lumber company everywhere.Construction_AdjustmentsThere were many more adjustments throughout the space. We added a door from the master bedroom to the master closet. Originally, one had to walk into the hallway to get to the closet. This allowed us to eliminate the closet door in the hallway and clean up the jagged wall layout in that area.

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Back in our old apartment, the packing is done. Ready or not, here we come.

I will update with final pictures soon…

 

 

 

 

Happy Valentines

February 14th, 2014 :: 5 comments :: permalink

Valentines1What a different Valentine’s Day this is from last year. Back then, I was two months pregnant and I could barely hold down a cracker without tossing my cookies. Of course it was all worth it and this year I am more than making up for the lost calories. Besides some extra weight, we have a little ball of cuteness to show for it.

Thank you Aunt Diane for this onesie and our friend Saejin for the tutu. The combo is adorable. ♥

Valentines2We also will remember Avery’s Grandfather and Dustin’s dad. He passed away exactly a year ago. Thankfully, we got to tell him about his soon to be grandchild before he passed. He was so happy for us and told Dustin he would be a great dad. It was a tough first half of the year in 2013, but the process of being pregnant and now having Avery gave us an extra sense of connection with our own parents and their sacrifices. This Valentine’s Day we will think of our loves that have been lost but not forgotten and our new loves gained. Happy Valentines!

Avery 3 Month Update

February 3rd, 2014 :: 4 comments :: permalink


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I can’t believe Avery is already three months old. It feels like it was just yesterday that Dustin and I nervously brought her home from the hospital as a tiny frail creature. Now she is an energetic human being that is ready to absorb whatever we toss her way. As expected, everything is new and exciting. She was not quite sure what to make of our Charlie Brown Christmas tree. I’m sure that will change quickly when she realizes all the wonderful gifts she will get in years to come. This picture was taken after we opened all the gifts and cleaned up. Please do not send us money for gifts. ;)

3months_thanksThankfully (pun intended) we did not have to travel outside of Chicago to celebrate Thanksgiving with family this year. This was the first time that we ventured outside of our little apartment bubble since we brought Avery home. We learned a lot from this day. For one, never try to skip a nap and make up for it later. We spent the first half of the night in the coat room trying to calm Avery down. Once she slept for a little bit, she was a happy camper again. On the car ride home, we learned to never push her feeding time when we had to stop in a dark Baskin Robins parking lot to feed her.

3months_baptismThe same Thanksgiving weekend, Avery was baptized. Dustin and I both had a tough time keeping ourselves composed. We look forward to watching her grow up and this seemed like the first big step. She was very patient throughout the ceremony, but wasn’t particularly happy with having cold water poured on her head. Her baptism gown was passed down from Dustin’s side of the family and was over 125 years old, which made it seem even more special.

3months_winter
The cold weather has given me another reason to dress Avery in cute little warm outfits, most of them resembling some cuddly animal. I can’t imagine many things being cuter than a pink polar bear.

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Avery has grown so quickly in the last couple of months. She looks like a toddler compared to the little scrunched up newborn we brought home. Dustin and I really had no idea what we were in for until the first week in the hospital. It was quite an eye opener to only sleep an hour or two a day. Things started gradually getting easier after then. Around week 2, breast feeding became second nature and with each new week we started to figure out what made Avery tick.

She is such a happy, energetic girl. She still has her witching hour at the end of the day, but it is becoming less and less frequent. Maybe it has something to due with her getting used to us too.

3months_injust
Avery was only five days old in the picture on the left. I almost forgot how tiny she was. She seemed so scared of everything the first few weeks and even diaper changes seemed stressful. At one point, we were warming her wipes in the microwave to make it a less startling process for her. Now she loves cooing and smiling as we change her diapers…such a significant change.

3months_Feat
If Avery could walk before learning to crawl, she would. She always has a smile on her face when she is in her jumper or when we help her stand. If the last few months foreshadow her personality, she is going to be quite an ambitious child and very vocal of her likes and dislikes. We look forward to getting to know Avery a little more every day and saying we love her to pieces is an understatement. Almost every day we talk about how lucky we are and can’t believe we get to keep her all to ourselves.

Have a Sweet New Year

December 20th, 2013 :: 2 comments :: permalink

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Donut Sisters

November 18th, 2013 :: 4 comments :: permalink

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DonutSistersCoverDuring a casual conversation with coworkers, someone let slip that they had a deep-fryer at home. I felt my mind snatching this slip of information from mid-air and filing it away for future intentions. Seasons later, I realized I was going to be going through yet another Chicago rainy fall and winter and that this former Texan needed something stronger than hot tea and wooley socks to get out the door and to work. I needed doughnuts to go nuts for.

Because doughnuts are becoming a popular item to buy in both intimate corner bakeries and restaurants offering fine dining experiences, or perhaps through kismet, I ran across a doughnut cookbook in the library that turned out to be excellent for its base recipe and new ideas. ‘ Glazed Filled Sugared & Dipped’ by Collucci.

Joann and I flipped through the book, throwing out a rabble of doughnut ideas…whatever popped into our heads. We quickly decided to use the same cake doughnut recipe to learn and experiment with two different flavor variations, Roasted Coconut Sugar doughnuts for her, Rosemary-Blueberry for me.

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EQUIPMENT:Standing mixer, rolling pin, deep-fryer or deep stock pot, baking sheet (or other flat transferable surface)
INGREDIENTS:
Using the basic cake recipe for doughnuts Collucci provided:
1) 3 cups all-purpose flour 2) ¾ cup sugar 3) ½ teaspoon baking soda 4)1 teaspoon baking powder 5) 1 ½ teaspoon salt 6) Zest of half a lemon 7) 2 large eggs 8) 1 large egg yolks 9) ½ cup buttermilk 10) 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 11) ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and 12) Enough vegetable oil to submerge for frying

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INSTRUCTIONS:
1)
Ahead of time, melt butter and let cool
2) Gather dry ingredients together in a bowl: flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest.
3) Pour into a standing mixer with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on low for a couple of turns to help mix everything together.
4) Add the following wet ingredients: whole eggs first, mixed for a few turns, then the egg yolk, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla.
5) Mix until it comes together as dough that can stand by itself.

*At this point, I added my variation to my half of the dough. ½ tsp of chopped rosemary and chopped blueberries

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6) Scrape the dough onto parchment paper or plastic film set on the baking sheet. Roll out dough until it is somewhere between 3/8  to ½  in thick. Top the rolled dough with a second piece of parchment or plastic film. Refrigerate the dough on baking sheet for 30 min to 1 hr.
For all the fuss over the deep-fryer, we ended up not using it, but enjoyed compete success with a deep stock pot.
7) Heat at least two inches of oil in the stock pot until it is 350 degrees.
8) Cut 2 ½ to 3 in. doughnut rounds. We had a biscuit cutter and used a the wide part of a metal piping tip to make the doughnut holes. Use what you can if you don’t have a doughnut cutter.
9) Fry several doughnuts together, but not so many that the pot becomes over crowded and it becomes difficult to flip doughnuts one at a time. Fry a minute per side.
10) Remove and set on paper towels.

 

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A basic glaze was very simple and quick. 1 cup of confectioners/powdered sugar mixed with two tablespoons of milk or water until the lumps are gone.

I made a topping station so I could quickly dunk the tops of the doughnuts in bowls of garnish after first dunking them half-way into the glaze. My rosemary was ¼ cup chopped fresh rosemary and 2/3 cup sugar.

Joann’s roasted coconut topping was a mix of  ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes, roasted golden brown in the oven, 2/3 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt. This made a cup and was enough to use on all of her doughnuts.

DonutSisters6A plain doughnut from this recipe had a stronger lemon taste than I had expected, but it actually worked well and brightened the flavors we added. It worked especially well with the blueberry and rosemary.

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Relaxing with my niece was a nice way to finish the day. And having a little hill of fried doughnuts to eat the next chilly-blue morning was worth all our effort.

Welcome Little Avery Harper

October 9th, 2013 :: 9 comments :: permalink

WelcomeAvery1We are so excited to welcome little Avery Harper. There really isn’t anything that can prepare you for what it feels like to be a parent for the first time. I had a c-section which was surreal enough, but all my anxieties and fears went away once I heard that amazing cry. Her introduction to the world required a lot of convincing from the doctors, which was followed by one of them exclaiming  “Now that’s a good sized baby!”

For the first time during the surgery, Dustin let go of my hand and stood out of his chair. He said she was surprisingly clean and her eyes were open. They handed her to Dustin and he gripped her securely as if she was the most fragile, priceless thing. All I could do was touch her face with my free hand and stare at her in amazement. I know babies are born every day, but when it happens to you, it really does feel like a miracle.

WelcomeAvery2Our first and second nights in the hospital were tiring, exciting, scary, and tiring again. I was bedridden right after my surgery and it took a day before I could feel my legs again. We probably slept two hours the second night and felt completely clueless. One of the perks of having a c-section was the extra few days in the hospital, which meant extra help and advice from the staff. The nurses were nice enough to help us change our first diaper, show us how to swaddle, and answer our endless questions.

WelcomeAvery3When it comes to physical appearance, Dustin and I are complete opposites. I’m short, he’s tall; I’m dark, he is fair skinned; I have brown eyes, he has green eyes…the list goes on. We were anxious to see what features Avery would take from each of us. She looks a little different every day. Right now she looks a lot like Dustin, with light blue eyes and reddish brown hair, but with mom’s round face.

WelcomeAvery4Here is the less commonly shown part of being a parent…the meltdown. It’s her way of letting us know that we no longer make the schedule. This meltdown in particular told me she was done with pictures.

WelcomeAvery5Every week we learn something new about Avery as her personality evolves. Thankfully, we have family to help us along the way and give us time to breathe and get our bearings. Although the transition to new parenthood is rarely smooth, we are enjoying getting to know her, whether we’re well rested or not.

WelcomeAvery6

 

 

3rd Trimester, Homestretch

September 12th, 2013 :: 7 comments :: permalink

3rd-Trimester_Nursery

Nine months have gone by so quickly. Although we are in the final stretch and can’t wait to meet our little one, there is still part of us that just wants to get one more thing done before she arrives.

We have loved our apartment for almost five years, but with an extra person now joining us, we are having to find creative ways to work around the cozy size of our living area. Dustin set up our Mercer Crib. I love that this crib comes with extra storage underneath. Right next to the crib are drawers from The Container Store which hold mouth toys, pacifiers, bibs, cloth diapers and regular diapers. We also bought  a few cloth bins from The Container Store (aka the happiest place on earth) to organize clothing by size. It is nice to have them since we happily received so many hand-me-downs. Love hand-me-downs.

The biggest thing that will help with storage space is a dresser Dustin designed for our bedroom. It will also act as a changing table. We both tried to find little ways to put our own little touches on every project. We’ve been told to get “personal projects” out of our system now, since time will soon be in short supply for a while.

3rd-Trimester_ShowerA few month ago The aunties mentioned hosting a shower for us and I was so excited. I thought of all the things I would help organize and design, but I quickly found out that this was not something I was allowed to participate in. Dustin’s sister did the decorations and most of the planning, while my sister cooked brunch for everyone in attendance. Mimosas and virgin mimosas kept everyone relaxed.

After eating, a few of us ventured to the onesie design station. It was such a cute idea to get little personal images or messages on each onesie. We also played a diaper racing game, in which two people were blindfolded and raced to diaper a teddy bear. Dustin’s teddy bear had his arms securely pinned into his diaper. Oops.

If that wasn’t enough, Dustin’s co-workers had a grown-up Baby-Q for us and another couple on a similar baby timeline. Food was also a big part of this shower, as the event was fully catered and even had a bartender. Many thanks to his company for that evening.

We are so appreciative of all the advice, hand-me-downs, clothes and baby goodies we have received. Having so much help made me realize we couldn’t have done it alone. Not as gracefully at least.

3rd-Trimester_Final-Details

The last two months have been a race to the finish line. A few years ago, Dustin sold his car and we started sharing my little car (picture from 2003!). After finding out I was pregnant, Dustin was more than eager to buy a new car that he could actually fit into. With a little wheeling and dealing, I sold the first car I ever bought. Dustin, being a good Catholic, was useless in the negotiations. We are both happy with our new SUV and it’s awesome to have some extra room. I can’t imagine how tight it would have been to put a car seat in my little Acura.

Last, but not least, we slowly started to pack for the hospital. I started by making a checklist and gathering all the hospital paperwork and numbers. For the actual packing, I found a bunch of blogs and websites that gave me a few starting points. I thought it might be helpful to someone out there, however, to bring it all together in one location. Have a look below if you’re interested. I didn’t make a list for Dustin. I figured he’d just throw pj’s in a bag and use some of my toiletries. Guys are easy.

After putting this post together, I realized how much we really did to prepare. Hopefully it will help us keep afloat for the next couple of months while we settle into our new role as parents. Here we go…


♥ Here is my FULL hospital packing list ♥

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DIY Baby Mobile

August 14th, 2013 :: 10 comments :: permalink

Baby-Mobile1For quite a few months I searched for a baby mobile with the right colors and style and that felt 3D instead of 2D. I narrowed down my search to hot air balloons, because I’ve always loved traveling and I hoped a little of that curiosity would rub off on our daughter. I debated if I was being a bit overzealous in looking for the perfect mobile, but a lot of my concern was due to the fact that our little one would be looking up at this for the first couple months of her life. After a few months of searching, I came to the realization that I would never find a mobile that met all of my criteria. I then found the “How Joyful” blog, which gave step by step directions and a free pattern. I knew if I could work from that, I could add some of my own twists and details.

The first balloon was the toughest for me. I’ve never worked with felt or, for that matter, sewn anything other than a button on a shirt, but I really began to like the idea of creating something personal. I almost gave up after the first balloon though (the green and white one) when I noticed a few uneven stitches after three days of work. After a pep talk from my sister, I realized these imperfections could make it special, so the next four balloons were finished more quickly and confidently than the first.

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Most of the materials I used were listed on How Joyful. She had a very straight forward list, along with the links to each tool on Amazon. I was, however, particular about the felt, which I bought from “Felt on the Fly.” There were an abundance of colors and the quality of the pure merino wool was fantastic. I didn’t know how great it was until I tried to buy regular felt from another store and found it transparent and difficult to cut.

I also knew that I wanted a different mobile base. Etsy is my favorite site for almost every project. Seven Acre Toys has lovely, high quality wood toys and mobiles. They were kind enough to sell me a great base, sans mobile.

After I gathered all my tools and materials I sketched a little to figure out color schemes. I wanted to find colors that would go with our Tiffany Mint Green nursery.

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Baby-Mobile4I stitched everything by hand. A sewing machine would have made the process go much more quickly, but it wasn’t fully necessary.

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I am so happy with how perfectly imperfect everything turned out. It’s a nice personal touch to our nursery.  Hopefully another mother or father will be inspired to give it a go for their little one.

 

 

2nd Trimester Update

June 19th, 2013 :: 8 comments :: permalink

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Week 20 we had our big ultrasound to make sure our baby was developing normally and, of course, to find out whether we were having a boy or a girl. The process only took about an hour since baby was cooperative and didn’t seem to mind being “photographed.” It was a bit nerve racking at times, however. I listened carefully to the doctor’s voice to make sure there were no sudden changes or concerns. A few minutes in, Dustin and I both relaxed and watched as pictures were taken of the brain, heart, spine, legs, arm and numerous other body parts. Every once in a while, baby would roll around and hide from us.

Toward the end of the picture session and checklist of fingers and toes, the doctor made her way to baby’s spine. Dustin and I both saw the kidneys, which we mistook for being boy parts, but once she fully zoomed out, we both realized it was a girl. We would have been happy with either a boy or a girl, but for us it was nice to know and made us feel even closer to the little person in my belly.

After the sonogram was complete, the doctor went through the list of everything they had checked in the last hour. I skimmed everything, making sure everything said normal, before I could really listen to his comments. Dustin said he did the same thing. The doctor mentioned that baby had long limbs (in the 95th percentile!) and confusingly asked if I was tall (I guess because I was laying down when he saw me). I laughed and said, “Nooo, it’s that guy,” pointing at Dustin. Needless to say, with the morning sickness gone and a baby that takes after her father, my daughter and I have both grown a lot the last few weeks.

2nd-Trimester_Nesting

When I found out I was pregnant, I already felt behind in planning. Maybe that was natural mother’s guilt starting early. I found a few things that made me feel more prepared and less scatterbrained. I started a baby journal, where I logged my thoughts, name ideas, pictures, food cravings, or whatever else popped in my head. I really didn’t like some of the “baby books” that had very general questions and fill-in-the-blanks. Having my own journal for her felt a little more personal. Dustin also wrote in it periodically. His most recent entry was about how excited he was to feel her kick for the first time.

Dustin, Edna (my sister), and I have also started to learn baby sign language. It seems to be super easy to remember most of the words. The first we’ll work on with her are Mom, Dad, milk, dog, and food. After that, we will move on to thank you,  grandma, grandpa, yummy, yucky, and so on. I like the idea of being able to communicate with her as early as she is ready. The youtube videos of babies signing are amazing.

I started planning baby’s room using Pinterest, which is one of my favorite sites. I was never great at keeping bookmarks of my links, but Pinterest was a nice organized way to save all my favorite internet finds. After I had an idea of what I wanted the room to look like, I nerded out and made a floor plan of our apartment in Illustrator, placing all the new items I wanted to purchase in the diagram. It was a nice way to see what furniture we needed to get rid of and what new furniture would fit. Hopefully all this planning will result in fewer surprises, although I’ve been told I no longer control that.

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Most of my baby room finds and mom research are on my pinterest page. Our apartment isn’t huge, so we had to be very creative with space and organization. I loved the Babyletto Mercer bed for its extra storage drawer and its relatively small size compared to other cribs.

The Mod Rocker was slick looking and compact. As a nursery chair, some people didn’t find this chair comfortable, but it worked for me. The one negative is that I won’t be able to fall asleep in it, but I should probably stay awake while nursing anyway.

The Story Mobile was one of the cutest mobiles I found. I loved how it told the story of Peter Rabbit and a lot of other children’s book characters. Even though we are having a girl, I would like the toys and decoration to be gender neutral. I grew up a bit of a tomboy and turned out mostly normal. It also makes sense should we have baby number two someday.

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By far, stroller shopping has been the most stressful endeavor so far. I wanted something modern, lightweight, easy to fold, and that could be used for a newborn.

Mountain Buggy Cosmopolitan was adorable, and the chair was super versatile. The chair turned both directions and it converted to a bassinet with no extra pieces. It seemed like it was durable and would last for a long time. Only down side was that it was a bit heavy and not the most compact. It did fold nicely.

Britax B-Agile & Safe Travel System was so lightweight (16 pounds) and you could fold it with one hand. It also came with a car seat, which made the price even more attractive. It seemed like this stroller was very close to an umbrella stroller and would have made traveling around town easy. It did have a reclining seat but it didn’t come with a bassinet. I found it a bit funky to attach the car seat or added bassinet atop the stroller. It just looked odd and cumbersome to me. The chair only faced outward/forward, which was a big concern for me with a newborn, though would probably be less of a concern when the baby is older.

The Stokke Scoot was just beautiful and had a reclining seat back that laid almost flat. The seat could face both directions and was higher off the ground than most strollers, so mom and baby could be near each other or so the baby could see more of the outside world. Downside: this stroller was fairly heavy for me and didn’t come with a true bassinet. It was also very expensive.

The Bugaboo Cameleon was the top stroller I found on my stroller scouting missions at a nearby playground. I probably wouldn’t have stalked strollers if I wasn’t visually pregnant. The Cameleon came with a bassinet, which could also be used for regular napping. The seat could face both directions, which was nice. It’s not the heaviest nor the lightest stroller I’ve considered. It is usually very expensive, but we are looking at getting it secondhand, so that would give this one some bonus points.

Now you can see my dilemma. I don’t think we’d go wrong with any of these choices, but it’s still hard to bite the bullet. [Update: We ended up buying the Cameleon from a friend. It is indeed a bit more complex and awkward than some of the strollers we looked at, but the bassinet, seating options, style, and the great secondhand price pushed us in that direction.]

2nd-Trimester_Shopping3

Here are a few things I found better to do sooner than later. I probably was in dire need of a bra review a few months before I sought one out. After I was fitted, I could breath again and realized this was a long time coming. I had no idea I had grown two sizes. The lady helping me with my fitting (who was also pregnant and having contractions…scary) told me that they have the capability to change regular bras into nursing bras. Good stuff to know for later.

Also on the sooner than later list…it was recommended to me to find a daycare solution as soon as possible. So we have started our search for caregivers in the area. We are trying to decide between home care or daycare, but thankfully we are thinking about it now, because there are a lot of waiting lists in Chicago.

In the next couple of months, we will be attending some much-needed parenting classes, which I will find extremely helpful. The last time (probably only time) I baby sat, the little girl started to help me put her diaper on.

And finally, the registry. I’m glad I started early, so I could do some research along the way. I didn’t want to buy anything before the start of our third trimester, but it made me feel a little more sane to have some things figured out beforehand.