Does First-Born = First Priority?

I find it slightly telling, and a little sad, that one of my primary motivators for doing creative and special things for Owen is a desire to keep up with my former self. I can’t very well play favorites even before my second-born arrives, so I have to gather up all the energy and creativity that remains in my older, more preoccupied life to simply do for Owen what I did for Aiden. The difference is, with Aiden, everything was novel and new. My whole life centered around the fact that I was about to have a child. So I read 12 different books on pregnancy and parenting, crocheted blankets, took pictures of my belly every few weeks to document the process, and did fun, creative things like making wooden plaques for his hospital door. This time, the fact that I am now 30 and already a parent with a wildly active toddler as well as a job and home to keep up (while trying to sell it and move!) definitely factors into the equation. It’s not that I love Owen any less (I hope), it’s just that life does not afford me the same luxuries it did before. Well, I may have fallen woefully short this go-round in my parenting research and belly pictures, and the blanket I started may or may not be in various shades of coral and pink (oops!), but I did manage to find it in me to make a pretty wonderful door hanger for Scarborough 2.0, with a little “help” from Scarborough 1.0.  We actually had a really good time and I devoted far more of my evening to it than I originally anticipated, but I couldn’t be more pleased with the results!

My big boy working on his "Project" while Mama worked on hers.

The finished product for Owen's hospital door.

Aiden's hospital door hanger (for comparison). After the hospital, his hung in his room for 2 1/2 years till he moved into his big boy room. I'm thinking Owen's will do the same and I coordinated the colors appropriately :)

Hopefully I can continue this trend and take plenty of photos once Owen arrives and document all his special milestones, just as I did with Aiden. And in all the ways that I do fall short, I hope he will one day understand that being first-born did not make Aiden first priority, it just meant his parents were FAR less busy!

Sophisticated Nursery Design – Owen’s Room

After a very long week/weekend filled with a LOT of work and a fairly significant amount of nesting, I can finally say that Owen’s nursery is complete. I labored much more over the concept and execution this time around than I did for Aiden’s nursery, (Sorry, Buddy! At least you have a great room now.) and, I must say, I am quite pleased with the results. I spent a significant amount of time searching online and in stores for a bedding set that struck me. I wanted something that was not so pastel and baby. But I discovered that bright, vibrant, sophisticated colors are pretty hard to come by in baby departments – at least in my price range! But when I finally found the right set (at TJ Maxx for only $45.00!!!) plus a couple of matching blankets to use for fabric, I had a concept I could run with. A little elbow grease and not too much cash later, the room was completely transformed. Take a look and tell me what you think:

BEFORE

AFTER

The concept came from this bedding set. A $45.00 find at TJ Maxx!

I was able to purchase several matching blankets which, after a little of this . . .

. . . turned into THIS! I had made the original curtains and small pillow many years ago for my college dorm. The design modifications and the larger pillow came from the extra blankets I purchased for the fabric (poor blankets!).

All the pictures on the walls were simply public domain Google images that I printed on a regular color printer and framed. It's a little hard to tell in these small photos, but the colors in the tall one suit the room PERFECTLY!

Finally, I replaced the blue rug with a brown one and got one more bookshelf for toys (since one of the original two had migrated to Aiden's room).

The only thing I have left (design-wise, that is) is to fill that orange vase with some live bamboo. Alas, this week’s spare time ran short. There is still much to do before Owen arrives, but at least I feel confident that he will have a pretty shnazzy room to come home to!

Marking Milestones

Lets face it… the holidays are stressful. They were magical when we were kids. Sometimes, we still catch glimpses of that magic through the eyes of our children or a sense of nostalgia. But, as much as I hate to admit it, the older I get, the more the holidays seem to be about to-do lists and finances, expectations and family drama, and just making it through. By the time we hit New Years, I have so little energy or holiday spirit left that I just want to spend my long weekend clearing up all the Christmas crap and catching up on sleep. But, ironically, this is when we are expected, at the final stage of this seasonal marathon, to stay up all night and party like it’s 1999. Sigh.

As I contemplate the merits of going out versus staying in and try to dredge up the last remnants of good cheer and festive spirits that I possess, I find myself meditating (as I continually remind myself and all of you to do) on the small but meaningful milestones that have occurred during this season of chaos – trying to lift the hazy vale of petty stresses that seems to have settled over my eyes as of late. There are so many more important things than money and schedules and weight gain and chores. And if we’re not careful to mark them we may miss them.

  • This month, my hubby and I celebrated our 5th anniversary.  Five years of marriage and six years together really does feel like a lifetime – not because the time dragged, but because I find it increasingly hard to remember and nearly impossible to imagine what life was/would be like without him. He is my life and I am so grateful for this milestone and the achievement it marks, despite it’s relatively small, quiet celebration in the midst of Christmas travel.
  • This week marked the halfway point of my pregnancy.  Just two weeks after discovering that our little bundle is made of frogs and snails and puppy dog tails, he has begun making his presence known to me by kicking and punching actively every day.  And wildly expanding my girth from week to week.  It is so hard to imagine that – “WHOA-OH we’re halfway there!” And even though sometimes I do feel like I’m livin’ on a prayer, I am amazed at how far we’ve come and eager to see the fruits of my labor (pun most definitely intended.)

  • This month also marked my entry into another decade of my life.  And, I must say, the reality has been severely underwhelming.  For all the dread and angst that I invested leading up to that day, it has not dramatically changed my life or outlook.  But the more I considered this milestone, the more I realized that it’s not how many years you possess, but how much those years contained that matters. If they were full and rich, they were a success.  If they were not as full as I would have liked, than I have ten more years to rectify that before the next decade rolls around.  Guess I better get busy!
  • My son amazes me more and more every day. While constantly increasing his capacity to frustrate, he is also expanding his knowledge and understanding and ability. He is beginning to understand the rules of his world and how to live by them but imagine beyond them.  He may know that there is not really a monster in the shower, but why not create a blue dragon with red eyes to walk by his side and protect him as he checks to make sure.  He may know the names and natures of every single animal in his picture book, but he still pronounces some of them like “pokey-spines” and “flaming-glows.” He may scoff at Mama’s constant need for kisses and hugs or barely acknowledge the showers of little compliments we pay him daily, but I know our philosophy of positive parenting is paying off every time my little boy naturally and without any effort or thought compliments me to make me happy. These are the good times and we can’t let the spoiling nature of presents and late bedtimes and Christmas treats rob us of these memories.

  • I am finally surfacing and remembering that there is a life past Christmas feasts and cookies and splurges, and lately it has taken the form simple, uncomplicated, comfortable foods like spaghetti and vegetable soup, bagels and homemade bread, sandwiches and a classic favorite around here – green beans. It is a welcome relief to be back in the kitchen and cooking healthy food for only 3 (and a half) people.

  • Our Christmas presents were small but lovely reminders of thoughtful love. Mine to Jonathan included things that contributed to his manliness and comfort. Some things he’s mentioned wanting and others he didn’t even know he wanted. A chrome safety razor shaving set, a pipe and good tobacco, a handsome watch, and intriguing reading material.  His to me were special tokens of an effort which I know is difficult for him but at which he succeeded because he knows it’s important to me. A black and white diamond heart necklace, a book of love poems, a fantastically retro kitchen timer, two beautiful sweaters, a scarf set, and a prenatal message. Aiden’s toys reflected his current interests and will help to develop his growing imagination. Who knew Weebles would bring so many hours of creative play! And our gifts to family and friends were large mugs filled with homemade peppermint cocoa mix – made with many hours and much painstaking testing by Aiden and myself. And also, for the kids in our lives, homemade play dough sets with cookie cutters. Aiden proudly proclaimed to everyone who received them, “I made it with Mama!” giving me the best gift of all – knowing my son is learning the value of giving from the heart with work from the hands.

If all of these things don’t make up for the stresses of the holidays, than our focus is in the wrong place. We have to remember that it’s not a cushy bank account that we will cherish at the end of our lives but rather the joy of those we spent our time and money on. Things are replaceable.  People, moments, feelings are not. How we chose to remember these times largely colors how we experience them. I chose to remember well.

Gift Making Magic!

I have mentioned before that I like to make my own Christmas gifts, both for the sake of economy and for the added thoughtfulness infused into such gifts that cannot be attained by picking up something at the store simply because it was time to buy someone a present. But every year I try to brainstorm good ideas that will be appreciated not just for the effort, but for the thing itself. Because, lets face it, no matter how much effort or thought goes into a gift, it’s not quite the same if the receiver doesn’t actually like it. It has to be the right balance. Often times though, this added proviso of likeability leads to a great deal more effort than I anticipated, as I try to wrap my fingers around what my brain has devised. Of course it doesn’t help that I have a VERY large family of consisting of 30 people outside of my immediate circle of 3 (soon to be 4). It can get a bit overwhelming.

This year, however, I had the benefit of a little helper that Santa let me borrow. It is still surprising to me that my little boy is old enough already to actually help me with projects. I do use the word “help” loosely, of course – he is after all only two. But even if his help wasn’t a time or effort saver, it was most definitely a mood saver during the 16 hours I spent this weekend completing everything. And, as is always the case, he was more of a teacher to me through the whole process than I was to him.  I may have taught him to mix ingredients or add just the right touch, but he taught me patience, understanding, a healthy sense of wonder, and an appreciation for licking all things yummy! And he helped me see all the old classic Christmas cartoons though a fresh set of eyes.  So at the risk of spoiling the surprise (if you expect to receive a gift from me, don’t look too closely or analyze too much), here are a few highlights from our weekend of gift making magic. I obviously can’t include the final result of the gifts we made for the adults, but since there are presumably few children who read my blog, I will share those – parents don’t tell!

Close to Home . . .

Having posted a couple of times about my vague admiration for Autumn and it’s effects on the world and my own personal psyche, I decided to share a few specific examples of what Fall looks like in our home – just small glimpses of why it will always hold such a special place in my heart.

Daddy teaching Aiden to cook breakfast. Mmmm, I can still smell it!

The newest addition to our family begining to show him/her-self.

The first fire in our fireplace. Needless to say, Aiden was impressed!

Painting pumpkings! Much more enjoyable for a toddler than trying to carve them.

The end result - Mine on the left, Aiden's on the right (with a little help on the face).

Shhhh! Be vewy, vewy qwiet! I'm hunting wizzards!

A crochet project I'm working on - for the baby if it's a girl, otherwise myself :)

Getting ready for Trick or Treat! Happy Halloween everyone!