Monday, September 30, 2013

A Sprinkle for Clara Louise!

Our family was blessed with the most delightful "sprinkle" for sweet Clara.  Based on the generosity of our sweet friends and family, it seemed more like a downpour - we got so many nice things and a TON of diapers.  Hooray!
These sweet hostesses thought of everything and created the sweetest atmosphere t Ooh La La, a cupcake shop!  All the details were so thoughtful - from the monogrammed burpcloths and bloomers to the yummy bath salts as the favors. 
So many sweet people came, family and family friends that live in town as well as lots of our friends from church, spanning the three Sunday School classes we have been a part of or launched in our time at Houston's First. 

 We are so ready to meet Miss Clara!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Summary of September

As I impatiently waited for fall to truly begin, we managed to have a fun September, just barely though.  :) Even though the temperatures and humidity stayed steamy, Madeleine and I went on a lot of walks in the neighborhood (she wanted our headbands to match sometimes) and we had a bowling social with our Sunday School class.
We were able to celebrate some very special September birthdays!  We had a family dinner at Maggiano's to celebrate Julianne and Liz - turning 25 and 23.  It is SUCH a treat to have both my sisters living in Houston again!
Madeleine loves going to church, especially when she gets to coincidentally match Violet in sailor-themed, 80s hand-me-downs from their moms. 
She also completed her first (and only) homework assignment for the school year.  Hey, any chance to finger paint is fine with her.  I helped her a little bit with the printing. 
We continued to get ready for baby Clara's arrival.  Madeleine really enjoyed trying to fit in some of her old clothes.
I have served on the Baylor University Women's Association of Houston board for a few years now, and this year, I am the chair of the "Mama Bears" activities.  Madeleine and I planned a fun Teddy Bear Story Time at Barnes and Noble, and we followed it up with lunch at Cafe Express.  She didn't do an amazing job of staying still, but it was still lots of fun! 
 After the event, we stopped at HEB.  She started playing one of her favorite grocery store games, and I just had to snap a pic.  She puts a grocery bag on her head and says "Mommy, where's Madeleine?"  I say "Oh is she over here behind the bananas?"  "Noooooooo..."  "Is she...behind these beans?"  "Noooooo...." So this helps pass the time at the grocery store!

We enjoyed trips to Memorial Park and Donovan Park in the Heights, both in the same week.  One day was steamier than the other, but we enjoyed it!  
The last weekend of the month, Cason went to our church's men's retreat.  Madeleine and I went out to Cypress to stay with my parents, and we had a great time.  Madeleine especially enjoyed cooking with Grandad and feeding the ducks with Granna. 
As the month came to a close, we did experience a cold front or two (and Madeleine dressed accordingly) and we also spent the month welcoming the return of Baylor football!!  Hooray for signs of fall. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The making of a big girl room

Three years ago, a lot of my nesting efforts were focused on creating a nursery for Madeleine and transitioning our guest room into a guest room/study. 
Well, while we are working on getting the nursery ready for a baby again, the new, main project was turning the guest room/study into a room for Madeleine. (Firstborns really get a sweet deal in this scenario!) As I mentioned in my pregnancy post, the nesting bug hit early, and Cason helped me to wait/pace myself until July and August to really get going on her room.  For many months, the room looked like this:
Painting of the ceiling and the headboard got done early, but for a long time, it was just a mess and a temporary CFP study room for Cason.  Drove me crazy, but we had a lot going on, and Cason gave me the right advice!  I was able to slowly collect pieces of the room over time (which helped with the cost) but I did most of the work in July with lots of help from Madeleine. 
Let me back up a bit.  A few components I wanted in the room were:

  • gray walls - I fell in love with gray when I re-did my laundry room about a year and a half ago.  I used Valspar Cathedral Stone in there, so I went one shade lighter and used Rocky Bluffs.  Maybe it's an optical illusion, but they seem like the same color! I also wanted gray to make a room of bright colors pop.
  • black accents -  We had a black leather reading chair in the room when it was a study.  I love the chair because it was my late Grandad Mike's and it is super comfortable.  At first I thought it was too adult for a little girl's room, or the black might not work, but I have been so pleased with how the black accents work in the room.  It also allowed me to pull a black and white Madeleine banner in that I'd had since her baby shower in Dallas!  
  • bright colors that weren't overly girly - When I began the brainstorming for this room, we didn't know if Baby #2 was a girl or boy, so I wanted some flexibility if Madeleine and her potentially boy sibling needed to share this room someday.  I also wanted a fun and spunky room to match her personality. It came together well, and I think it is still undeniably feminine. 
  • re-purpose and re-use as much as possible - Like I said, it helped the bottom line that purchases were made for this room over a period of almost 5 months, but I still didn't want it to be super expensive.  I loved what we were able to use and the relatively low price of some of the things we did need to purchase.  For example, of the whole corner of the turquoise bookshelf, the reading chair and the yellow dresser, the only purchased items were the pink lamp (< $20 at Target) a quart of turquoise paint to re-paint the shelf (< $10) and the turquoise pom poms (< $10 at Party City.)  The dresser was actually mine when I was a little girl, and my sister had already re-painted it yellow and added cute knobs for a room of hers a few years ago!  The flower painting in the reading corner was one I made at a girls' night painting party a couple years ago.  Even the small fake rosebush on her dresser was left over from my freshman dorm decor!

  • The tall Ikea shelf in the opposite corner was pulled from the playroom and added to the short Expedit one to create the look of a shelving unit.  The bulletin board was a cast-off, and so was the "beanstalk lamp" (the fun 90s tornado lamp that was also in my sister's room when she was little!) Madeleine thought it looked like a beanstalk. 

  • I also wanted to preserve many special mementos from her nursery.  I think they are all so sweet while not looking too babyish. 

What else did we have to purchase?  $25 for gray paint from Lowes, $75 Craigslist headboard and bed frame, $60 Home Goods comforter set, <$20 Target sheet set, $20 Walmart bedskirt, $80 Ikea Expedit shelf, $20 Expedit baskets purchased second-hand (to house her dress-up clothes and accessories,)  pink sparkle window treatments from Walmart from my mom (they were actually three panels, two that I sewed together for the wide window) about $30 for a few throw pillows from Home Goods and the last, most expensive item was the 6x9 rug from Garden Ridge for about $160.

All in all, it was about $500 over 5 months which isn't horrible for an entire room, I don't think. Without the rug, we would have done much better - it was a big portion of our cost, but it really cozies up the huge play area that previously was hardwood flooring. 

I love this room, and I have so much fun spending time in there with Madeleine.  I think it will be a nice space for Clara to join her for lots of adventures too.  Now, on to the rest of the to-do list... :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Back to school

The first week of September brought some new beginnings, especially in regard to our respective educations. :)  Madeleine looked like such a big girl getting ready for her new year of Tuesday-Thursday classes.  She is so excited to have the dynamic duo of Ms. Peeby and Ms. Gloria teaching her this year!  She is always blessed with great teachers, and I am excited for her to be in the class of such a legendary duo.  As we backed out of the driveway that morning, I was peppered with typical 2-year old questions such as "What is gravity?" and "Mommy, why do we have thumbs?"  I'm thankful for her inquisitive spirit!
That same week, I started the 8-week Motherwise study at church on Tuesday mornings.  I really like the workbook, and so far the sessions have been amazing.  I also started teaching a 6-week Wednesday night Midlink class at our church - Jen Hatmaker's Interrupted study.  Annnnnd every other Thursday night, we have our in-home small groups for our Life Bible Study class, Catalyst, where we go through Pastor Gregg's sermons on Acts.  I know, it sounds like a lot.  I am thankful for an intense couple of months of teaching and studying before Miss Clara makes her appearance in November.  So far, for the first two sessions, my class has been fantastic, and I'm the first to say it is not about the teacher - it is about the Lord, the challenging material of Jen's study and the participation of the 30+ women in the study.  My cute husband took a picture of "my classroom."  I am so thankful for a church that supports and encourages thoughtful, deep and relevant study of God's Word.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Moving to a big girl bed

Moving to a big girl bed was a little harder than I thought.  We had already transitioned Madeleine from the crib to the converted toddler bed, so I thought she was used to the freedom of being able to get in and out of her bed.  Also, we conquered some of the sleep regression issues back in June.

After we got back from the cruise and New Braunfels in August, we spent the next three weeks working with Madeleine on sleeping in her new room.  Even I, the one who typically and excitedly celebrates, not nostalgically laments milestones got a little tender about moving her, so I did what I have done a lot, and I took a lot of sleeping pictures to capture the last few nights in her nursery.
I also took a few pictures to try and capture her room exactly as it was when she moved out:
Thankfully, when it came time to move, there wasn't any missing of the old room or wanting to ever go back and sleep there.  However, on her first night in her new room, she said "Oh Mommy this room is too big for me!" To her credit, it is a lot larger, and I think the comment really encompassed some of the ways she was overwhelmed by the size of the room, the size of a queen bed and her new surroundings in general.  For awhile, many bedtimes and naps were challenging, as she just wanted to explore her new surroundings and play.  There were some spankings and threatened consequences if she kept getting up.  She had to learn to put herself to sleep in there too.  For a few nights and naps, she always ended up upside-down, but she eventually got it.
As with potty training, we did another sticker chart to help her stay motivated.  When she got all her stickers, she got to pick out a new dress up dress.  Hey, $20 was totally worth it.
She has been in the new bed/room for about a month now, and I think she has done well.  Bedtime isn't always without it's battles, and each night is a bit different.  All in all I can say she has adjusted.  A conversation we have almost daily is:

"But Mommy/Daddy, please stay with me.  I need a friend in my bed!"
"Madeleine, look at all your lovies you have!"
"But lovies don't TALK to me!"
"Madeleine do you remember the word 'extrovert?' What does it mean?"
"I'm an extrovert!  I like being around people!"
"Right, but God gave us certain times of the day where we need to be by ourselves and calm down and if we get lonely we can pray."
"But I need a friend!" 
"No....etc. etc."

I do love that I can lay down with her when needed or when I just want a break too during an afternoon when she is napping, I can catnap with her and give Clara and I a rest.

We are so proud of our big girl, and we were glad to get her moved over to her new room about three months before Clara comes.  We certainly didn't want her to feel evicted out of the nursery. :)