Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Walking and Talking and Driving (with photo illustrations)

Zuzu is thirteen months old and I'm calling it.  She's a walker.  She took her first steps about a month ago, but I refused to say that she was "walking."  But it's official.  Girlfriend is vertical and on the move.

Just strutting around on the patio, showing off the bikini bod.
She's very vocal as well.  Don't get me wrong--she's not speaking in complete sentences, but she jabbers and jabbers and then looks at me expectantly like I'm supposed to be following exactly what she just said.  She will echo us sometimes, and she's pretty good at communicating what she wants even if she's not speaking English.  She signs "All done" and "More" and she has created her own sign for "milk" which is frantic screeching and pointing until I grab a sippy cup.  When David gets home from work, she shouts, "Daddy!" and grins and giggles.  It is, hands down, his favorite moment of the day.  Truth be told, it's usually my favorite moment of the day too, because two-on-one is really much easier than man-on-man when it comes to defending the house from the toddler terrorist.

Daddy--willing to get soaked in the fountain.
Zuzu refuses to say "Up" and instead uses gestures and crying to communicate that she wants to be picked up and held already.  She gets her point across.

After a few rough nights that consisted of 3:30am wake ups and obvious teething pain, she still has only two teeth but is back to sleeping through the night again.  She has me well-trained though--I woke up at 3:30am this morning and had trouble falling back asleep because I kept listening for her.

A few nights ago I had a dream that I woke up in the morning and Zuzu suddenly had eight teeth.  But no.  Still just the two!  It hasn't slowed down her eating though, and she continues to be a hearty and enthusiastic eating, humming and moaning her appreciation for the meal the entire time she's shoving it into her face.  I know this eating anything and everything trend won't last forever, but it sure is nice to see her so enthusiastic about green vegetables and Greek yogurt.

I got some cute little sandals for summer wear, but she doesn't walk well while wearing them.  She is constantly stepping on the sole of the opposite foot and getting tripped up, plus the soles aren't very flexible so she's pretty unsteady on her feet when she's wearing them.  We've gone back to Robeez because she walks better on the soft sole.  She still wears the tiniest size (3-6 months)!

sandals: better for sitting than walking
I go back to work in just three short weeks (!) and have had a lot of mixed feelings about it.  I'm mostly looking forward to it--the back-to-school thrill of excitement never fades for me!  But I am wistful about leaving Zuzu in daycare full-time.  I will miss our lazy summer days of just hanging out.  It helps me to remember that I spend a lot of that "hanging out" time cleaning--her tushie or her highchair.  And in the seven-ish hours a day that she's at daycare, she's eating or sleeping for three to four of those.  I can totally handle the idea of her spending the other three or four hours a day socializing and playing and making crafts (not sure what kind of drugs you have to be on to get excited about eight one-to-two-year-olds PAINTING, but Zuzu's teachers are very enthusiastic about such things).

Unfortunately, after months of being perfectly delighted to get dropped off at "school," Zuzu is now going through a clingy phase and she cries at morning drop off.  I think part of this is that she's transitioned to the toddler room and she's only going two days a week so it still doesn't feel like a routine to her, and I know part of it is typical 13-month-old stuff, but mercy.  It shreds my heart.  This morning she was screaming as I closed the door behind me and then I realized I'd left my car keys.  By the time I opened the door to retrieve them, she was content in her teacher's arms, looking at a book.  So, evidently she screams like she'd been tossed to the wolves for all of... fifteen seconds.  But the mommy guilt-trip lasts all day!  Anyway, it was a fortuitous forgetting of car keys, because I felt much better leaving after that.

My friend Monica gave Zuzu a Cozy Coupe for her birthday.  We busted it out over the weekend when my parents were here, thinking Zuzu would want to be pushed all around in it.  She was kinda into it, but her favorite part was climbing in and out, opening and closing the door.  Then she wanted to gather up toys and balls, put them in the car, climb in with them, climb out and unpack them, and start again.

She also likes to try to put all of her toys up in her mini-recliner and then climb up there and sit among them.  She's mildly obsessed with bags and purses, which she also likes to unpack and pack and then try to carry with her up into the chair.  I think she is a baby-hoarder.

Another pink horizontally striped dress
Zuzu's hair has been growing at about the same rate as her teeth (read: not at all).  As Laura says, what she lacks in hair, she more than makes up for in drive and enthusiasm.  Actually, the little bit of hair she has is growing longer, so she basically has a few long-ish strands, all of which are growing from about ear-level with the barest of fuzz on top.  It's the same hairstyle I had as an infant, but with even less hair than I had.  That does not stop me from accessorizing however!  She rocked this barrette again today.  You know, just to keep her flowing locks off of her face.

Her favorite toys at the moment are her tea set and an expired driver's insurance card.  She freaking LOVES that insurance card.  She tucks in her purse, she carries in her hand, she slides it across the hardwood floor, she puts it in her teapot, she puts in it her activity table.  Endlessly entertaining.  Best gift I ever gave her.

So that's Zuzu at 13 months old.  Walking and talking and driving.  And more lovable than ever.

Monday, July 29, 2013

House Plans

I was thinking that the house tour might be easier to follow if you had a floor plan to work with.  The following floor plan is not drawn to scale.  I created it in Paintbrush without even using a mouse, just using the laptop.  So it's a little rough.  But it should give you an idea of the shape and flow of the house.

So far, we've covered almost all the rooms downstairs:  living room, dining room, kitchen, powder room, and next up I'll show you the family room/TV room/back room (I'm sure you're all waiting with baited breath).

Upstairs you've only seen the nursery so far, so there's a few more rooms to follow.  And then I guess I'll post photos of the basement even though it's a total wreck, housing boxes of books that are STILL WAITING on bookshelves (we've--finally--decided to order some inexpensive bookcases to put up in the basement while we wait on the gumption/time/money/brainpower to do the built-ins I want upstairs).

In the meantime, here's the basic layout of the house.

Main floor/downstairs:
The front door is at the bottom right of the sketch--that black spot across the hallway and the stairs.  The other darker spots are windows.  For some reason, the powder room didn't get labeled.  It's the little square tucked into the kitchen, directly across from the stairs.  The stairs that lead down to the basement are directly underneath the stairs that go up to the second floor--the door to the basement is across from the powder room.  And there's a side door that we never use that enters the house right next to the powder room and door to the basement stairs (the darker black line on the right side of the sketch).  The door to the backyard is off the side of the family room, which was an addition to the original house.

Here's the upstairs: 

Upstairs was a bit harder to sketch for some reason.  There's a fairly good sized landing at the top of the stairs that has doors to the three bedrooms and the bathroom and a small closet where the vacuum lives.  I didn't label the closets, except for the crazy huge one that sold me on the house.  When the previous owners added the family room extension, they ran it all the way up to the second floor and created a sitting room and enormous closet off the master bedroom.  Closet space is hard to come by in these old city homes, so it feels positively luxurious.  I seriously think the master closet is larger than the nursery.  The bathroom isn't quite as cramped as it seems in this sketch (proportions are a bit off for sure) but at least you get a sense of the layout.

And finally, the basement:

Somehow this sketch makes the basement look nicer than it really does.  It could all be labeled "hot mess" and that would be a bit more accurate.  Tucked into the nook beside the closet-under-the-stairs is not an eleven-year-old wizard, but is, in fact, the Harry Potter book series and all the other books I own.  Boxes and boxes of them.  Also some desk supplies, frames to go up on walls, and other paraphernalia.  That half of the basement is "finished," which means it is covered in knotty pine wood paneling original to the house when it was built in 1943 and carpeted with shaggy carpet I can't stand.  The other half, with the laundry area, is unfinished, which means concrete floors.  The water heater (& stuff) is not housed in its own little room (although we might like that someday?), but I just drew a square to indicate that it's not open floor space.  The coal closet originally held coal (obvy) but currently holds things like paint cans, luggage, wrapping paper, holiday decorations, and a bunch of plastic bins full of baby and maternity clothes.  The guest room is carpeted.  It was another part of the addition to the house, so it's sort of weirdly located:  "Welcome to our home; please walk through the unfinished laundry room in order to access your guest quarters."  At least the downstairs bathroom is new and nice.

Anyway, photos and further narration to follow on the rest of the rooms.  Just providing the layout today, for your viewing pleasure.

Also, I'm learning that I need to have a thicker skin if I'm going to post photos of my home.  Someone commented recently on the nursery and said something like, "I love what you did with the ceiling, but don't you think the walls are a bit boring for a baby's room?"

Uh, no, obviously I don't think so or I wouldn't have painted them that color!  But clearly YOU think so, so maybe you should have just stated that instead of making it a passive aggressive rhetorical question.  I was mad and deleted the comment, but as I reflect back on it, I wish I wouldn't have deleted it because it really wasn't mean and certainly gray nursery walls are not for everyone (although gray is becoming increasingly popular for nurseries).  I personally like the color and think a simple, soothing neutral works well with the very busy ceiling, and my opinion hasn't changed.  But obviously decorating is all about personal choice and not everyone has to agree with me.  And if I'm going to post photos of the house on a public blog, I'm inviting feedback and commentary and I'm probably not going to like or agree with all of it (even though I do love almost all of it because you guys are all my friends and are awesome).  But the point of comments isn't always validation, but is to offer new perspectives and ideas I hadn't thought of, and I love that too.  

This means I am going to get over myself and be fine with people expressing their opinions, even if I don't agree with them, because that is how the internet works.  And it's totally worth it to find out that people in Ireland call chair railing "skirting board" and to get amazingly helpful links toward kitchen cabinet painting that doesn't include sanding.  

So I'll keep posting about the house (and whatever else I feel the urge to share,) and I welcome any and all feedback.  Except for really mean stuff, which I'll just delete, because shuddup.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dining Room

The dining room opens off the living room.  This first picture is a view from the other end of the dining room, looking toward the living room and the front of the house (you can see the curtains and sofa).  The door on the left on this picture leads to the kitchen.  There used to be a full-sized swinging door there, but the previous owners removed it.  So what you see here is an open doorway and the (closed) door of the pantry.

I want to make a lot of changes in the dining room, starting with the paint colors.  That muddy olive green does nothing for the trim except make it look like mud.  I also want to switch out the light fixture.  There's nothing wrong with it, but I don't love it.  Or really like it.  I'm not sure what I want, but I think the room could handle something dramatic, so I'll be saving my pennies and looking around.

You can see the glass-topped table on the right is bare.  That's because Zuzu's tiny little hands can reach just far enough to grab on to the edge.  And if we put anything up there, it entices her to reach up there.  The last thing I need is my baby pulling a sheet of glass down on top of herself, so for now the table is naked.  Zuzu minimalism, just like the coffee table!  I'm not in love with this table anyway--it was a gift from David's grandparents that was originally shiny brass.  I want to replace it with a buffet we can use for storage.  Something like this would go well with the table we have now, but I'm not sure it matches my vision for the dining room in the long run since I actually think that a wider, chunkier table would look good in here.

Like the living room the dining room has two stained glass windows.  They're identical to the ones in the living room:

The view of the windows:

David gave me this huge reproduction of The Singing Butler when we were first married and even though I like the painting, I'm kind of bored with this (still not bored with the husband, so that's good).  We think we might eventually get some kind of hutch that would take up that space on the wall.  If not, I think we may look for some fresh art to put up there.  I'd love to get something from a local artist, and probably something more abstract.  (Side note:  Are you supposed to italicize the titles of paintings like you do novels?  Or put them in quotation marks like short stories?  I guess I should look that up sometime.)

Another issue I have with this room:  the chair rail is too high.  You can see in the above picture--the back of the chair hits about two inches lower than the chair rail.  For some reason this drives me nuts.  The previous owners were very tall--the guy was well over six feet--and I've noticed that everything in this house was hung several inches higher than I think looks right.  So I want to lower the chair rail, but I'm nervous about being able to get it off the wall without breaking it to pieces.  It was not original to the house, so we could scrap it or replace it if we really needed to, but I also don't want to damage the plaster walls.  I don't know how quick and easy that process will be, but it needs to be done.  Maybe I should just grab a crowbar before David gets home from work...

I like the concept of having a chair rail, if not the execution in here.  We had one in our old dining room, and I liked the two-color wall.  Assuming we keep it, I know I want the top half to be very close to what we use in the living room--perhaps the same color, a shade lighter, or even the same color at 50%.  As for the bottom half...  I'm not sure.  I think it would be fun to do something dark and dramatic, like navy or plum, but I'd have to make sure that I liked that against the wood trim.  I keep thinking navy would look really cool but with our dark table and chairs I'm not sure...  Maybe a charcoal gray?

Here's a look at the other side of the room and the door leading into the kitchen:

You can see our frame on this wall, hung too high on a nail left by the previous owners.  I also stuck a small black cabinet under the wine rack.  The weird thing on top of the wine rack is a D made out of wine corks that will eventually get hung on the wall.

Some day, when we feel like we are being weighed down by too much money in the bank (that happens, right?), I'd like to try to do a big renovation and take out the wall there that the kitchen cabinets are hanging on.  I think it would be nice to open the kitchen to the dining room and have a small bar there where that little black table is.  I can picture Zuzu doing her homework there and it would bring more natural light into the dining room through the big kitchen window.  There's ductwork in the wall, though, and we'd have to figure out the loss of cabinet spaces, and then we'd maybe need to switch around the stove and the dishwasher, so it's one of those things that might never quite work out.  But a girl can dream.

And while I have no plans to replace it right away, I'm not super crazy about our very modern looking dining table in this space.  I think updated paint will help considerably, but the dark, glossy finish is a bit weird with the oaky floors and wood trim.  Some day I'd like a chunkier dining room table, maybe even with upholstered or slipcovered chairs.  In the meantime, I'm considering some less expensive options, like a textured tablecloth or table runner, adding slipcovers on these chairs (or maybe just on the chairs that sit on each end?), new chair cushions, and possibly bringing in a cushioned bench to replace a couple of chairs.  I actually wanted to remove the cushions from the chairs entirely (they are green and they clash atrociously with the wall color) but David's tushy couldn't handle the lack of padding and he complained so extensively that the cushions got replaced.

So that's the dining room.  Typing this up has made me realized that I really do have a vision for this room, I just need to make it happen already.  A lot of it can be done quite inexpensively, so I should get a move on.  I guess the big thing that's been holding me back is paint color.  You think I'm crazy for considering a dark color on the bottom half?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

If What Happened Had Not Happened aches like the place where the tooth was on the morning after you’ve been to the dentist or aches like your heart in the bosom when you stand on the street corner waiting for the light to change and happen to recollect how thing once were and how they might have been yet if what happened had not happened.

--Robert Penn Waren, All the King's Men
I read this quotation recently and I've been thinking a lot about what "might have been yet if what happened had not happened."  This must be way the passage of time helps with grief more than anything else.  In the early days, I knew EXACTLY what I'd be doing if Eliza were alive.  As time goes by, it gets harder and harder to know what path my life would have taken if Eliza were here.  It's becoming almost impossible.  And while I can still imagine life with Eliza and Zuzu both, it doesn't feel like an alternate reality that was almost within my reach as much as a vague and hazy dream.  The before and after of Eliza is not as black and white as it once was.  The ache is still there, all the same.
We organized the garage over the weekend.  It hadn't really been touched since we moved.  We came across a cardboard box full of board games.  I love board games.  We haven't had people over for a game night in three years.  David's grandma was here.  She remarked that we had so many games.  I said, "Yeah, we used to be fun people."
It reminded me of meeting up with Molly.  At one point in the evening she said, "Ya'll think I'm fun now?  You should have met me before my baby died."
I know I'm different than I was before Eliza, and some of those differences are good and some of those are bad/sad.  It's getting harder to parse out what changes happened because Eliza died and what changes might have happened anyway.  I wonder if I'm the same kind of mom to Zuzu that I would have been to Eliza--better?  worse?  more patient?  more paranoid?
We took Zuzu to a wading pool on Saturday.  She loves the water.  She constantly wants to float on her back, has no problem putting her face under water, delights in kicking and splashing.  Several other parents came up to me to comment that they'd never seen a toddler so fearless in the water.  As I hovered over her, letting her splash but not letting her get more than a few inches from me, it was like a living metaphor for parenting her--revelling in the good times and far too aware of how tragically things can go bad.  My experience with Zuzu in the pool is a constant internal battle between a logical understanding that I need to relax and let her explore and enjoy herself and be confident in the water and a sheer, adrenaline-fueled panic every time her face is the least bit submerged.  
I know losing Eliza has great affected how I feel as a parent--heightened anxiety matched by heightened appreciation is perhaps the easiest way to summarize it.  But I wonder if it's affected how I act as a parent.  Would I have been as patient with Eliza?  Would I have been more or less relaxed?   Would I have been kind of the same?  
I think my general philosophies about parenting are probably the same, but I know we wouldn't have had an Angel-Care monitor for Eliza.  Zuzu woke up twice the night before last (argh), and while it's never fun to drag my ass out of bed in the middle of the night, I rocked the baby back to sleep and told myself that this moment of holding her sweet little body and breathing in her baby smell and feeling her little face nuzzling into my neck is so fleeting that I should be happy to take it when it comes--even when it comes at 3am.  Would I have thought such things if I didn't know first hand that it's possible for babies to slip away?
Here's the thing:  I think I would have.

As much as I love and appreciate Zuzu, I did not need to lose Eliza to learn that lesson.  There is no life lesson that could be compensation for such a loss.  I already knew that babies don't keep, that the days are long but the years are short, that we don't need to sweat the small stuff.  All these cliches are true, and my daughter didn't have to die for me to know that.  
I do appreciate the little moments because I know I can't take them for granted--but I never took Eliza for granted, either.  Yes, I thought she was a sure thing--I thought that after 34 weeks of a healthy, uneventful pregnancy that it was a sure thing I'd bring home a healthy baby.  But I also felt incredibly lucky that I got to have that chance.  I did not need to lose a baby to learn how precious babies are.  I already appreciated the marvel that was this child, my first daughter, my baby duck.  I was in awe at the incredible miracle that there was a baby growing inside me.  The universe didn't teach me anything when Eliza died.  It simply reminded me in the most painful, traumatic way possible that life is incredibly fragile and also really effing unfair.

Most of the time, I think I am pretty close to the same kind of parent to Zuzu that I would have been to Eliza.  Maybe a little more patient (I hope?).  More easy going about schedules and bedtimes, for sure.  It's certainly not the end of the world if we go swimming instead of napping.  I'm definitely quicker to leap to worst-case scenario fears when it comes to fevers, bug bites, an unusually long naptime.  But most of the time we're just making up this parenting thing as we go, and I think we would have hit the same kind of trials and errors and moments of sweetness and hilarity three years ago that we're experiencing right now.

It might be accurate to say that our sorrow for Eliza is matched only by our happiness in Zuzu.  That doesn't mean there's a balance though.  We're still profoundly heartbroken about our first baby.  We just got lucky this time around. So yeah, we're happy.  Around and in spite and--I have to admit this--because of our ache for Eliza.  Too much time has gone by and now I can't unravel what's happened to me because Eliza was born and what's happened to me because Eliza died and what's happened that would have happened anyway and what's happened that would never have happened if Eliza were here, and there's absolutely no way I can categorize those things simply in terms of good and bad anymore, either.

And yet, I still can't help but imagine sometimes how happy I'd be if what happened had not happened.  How happy I'd be if both my babies were here.  How fun I would be if my baby hadn't died.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The House Tour Continues... Living Room

My house is kind of like the heroine in that one sort of romantic comedy.  You can tell that she's pretty from the start--great bone structure and all that.  She just kind of needs a fashion makeover.  Right now, she's still gorgeous.  Just a bit underwhelming.  Like, honey, if you'd just do something with your hair...  Anyway.  When you walk in the front door, this is your view:

Because nothing says "Welcome to our home" like the possibility of a baby gate falling on your shins.

If you turn immediately to the left, standing at the bottom of the stairs, you have this view of the living room:

The arch-shaped doors are one of my favorite things about the house, and they are pretty standard throughout our neighborhood.  The ceilings don't have crown moulding but are coved ceilings, so they curve from the wall to the ceiling instead of meeting at a 90 degree angle.  The ceilings are tall anyway, but I think this adds extra visual height, which is nice.

Here is the view of the fireplace looking straight on:

It's a working gas fireplace.  I'm not crazy about the surround.  The mantle is fine (lovely, really) but the brass-and-brick surround and the brick hearth don't do much for me.  Perhaps there is a DIY fireplace makeover in my future?  I'd have to get awfully brave to make that happen.

You can't tell in this photo (since the lighting is terrible) but the windows on either side of the fireplace are stained glass in this pattern:

I'm mildly obsessed with the stained glass windows.  I think they kind of make the house.

Here's a backlit photo of the sofa.  I still love the curtains and the sofa.  I even like the rug better in this space than I did in our other living room, which was much smaller and seemed overpowered by all the pattern.  This room can kind of handle it better, I think.

Do you like the way my coffee table is styled?  That's called "Zuzu minimalism."

I make up for the naked coffee table by overloading the mantle:

Looking back toward the front door:

Eventually, I'd like to lose the random dining chair sitting in that corner and put a small parsons desk and chair there... possibly relocating the barrister bookcase that sits there now, unless the two pieces can fit there without looking too crowded.  I have my big desk downstairs in the basement, but we need something upstairs to corral mail and stowe things like scotch tape and some pens and pencils and other things I don't want to be running down to the basement to grab every time we need them.

Also, we are definitely repainting.  We repainted all the bedrooms upstairs but haven't touched the downstairs yet.  The kitchen and family room are fine as they are but the living room and dining room are in desperate need of painting. The color doesn't photograph well here--it looks more gold than it really is due to the lamp lighting.  In real life, it's really the most boring and unattractive color of fleshy beige that you could imagine.  It does nothing to highlight the wood trim or brighten room.  The only reason we haven't painted yet is because I can't settle on a color.  Pale gray?  Gray-blue?  A crisp-yet-creamy white?  A nice light griege?  Feel free to make suggestions in the comments because I don't know!  Whatever color I choose, it may get carried into the entry way and possibly into the dining room as well since the archways open to connect all those spaces, so choosing a color feels high-stakes to me.

The other corner:

This corner is where I want to do built-in bookcases.  After pricing bookcases all over the place, I have made up my mind that it would be cheaper to build what I want.  So I think I'll have to cajole my dad into helping with this project.  I think it would be so great to have them wrap around that corner.  Not sure what will happen to the chairs--it would be nice if they could just sort of be pulled forward to sit in front of the bookcases, but I'm not sure that would work.  So we'll have to see.

The other challenge with building bookcases is determining what color they should be.  Do I stain them and try to match the fireplace?  That's what I've sort of imagined, but obviously I haven't settled on anything.  I loved the white shelves at our old house, but I'm not sure how that would look with the stained trim.  (Maybe it would be fine?  But I want them to feel like built-ins, not like random white shelves.)

AND I keep going back and forth on whether to paint the trim or not.  (I've written about this before, but I keep replaying the same arguments in my head, so now I will replay them for you again here.)  I've been gawking in windows around the neighborhood when we walk in the evenings and several houses have painted the trim white.  I love white trim, but I'm not completely sold on it for a few reasons.  One is that the trim has been relatively untouched since the house was built in 1943 and I'm not sure I want to mess with that history/character of the house.  Another is that it would be a lot of work.  I did realize my previous assumption was wrong--although the floors are oak, the trim is pine.  So much less expensive and not a perfect match to the floors anyway.  Most of it is in good condition, but upstairs there are places that have been damaged (which is why I didn't feel bad about painting the trim white in Zuzu's nursery).  I think it would look bright and clean, but I'm still not sure.  I have decided we need to live here for a while before I make a big decision like that.

So that's where we are with the front room.  Still very undecided.  My next move in here will be to get another color up on those walls and then get some bookshelves up.  But, again, what color for the walls and bookcases?  Decisions, decisions.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Kitchen Curtains

I need to post some more of my house tour...  I have so many potential projects rattling around in my head and I need to find a starting place.  I'm also in a place where my desires do not match my budget (this actually seems to be a lifelong problem for me), so I'm also trying to figure out how much I want to do NOW and how much I should just wait on until we can save up enough money for what I really want.  What will I regret more?  Putting in a whole lot of time and energy only to un-do it later (if, say, we actually renovate the kitchen) or living with it like it is until that far-off day when we've finally saved up enough money to, say, renovate the kitchen.

Just writing it out like that answered my own question:  I need to make changes I like now.  I can still make changes I like better later, but there's no point in waiting.

Of course my git 'er done plans are complicated by the fact that I go back to work in just five short weeks (!).  I have to say, summer has been wonderful and I haven't missed working at all (although I have also enjoyed my "working" afternoons when I've been meeting up with a friend in my department to work on our syllabi at the library or coffee shops), except we've been so much busier than I imagined.  Lots of driving to see friends and family and hosting family here, which is great, but also means I'm not doing things like making a curtain for the bathroom window upstairs.

The other complication is that I'm working on a shoestring budget.  My discretionary spending is severely cramped by the fact that our old house ended up not selling...  I don't think I mentioned that on here (probably because I was too busy pulling out my hair and gnashing my teeth) but the sale fell through two days before closing.  It was basically the worst-case scenario, which just goes to show that the universe really loves to screw us over.  I mean WHY should I ever assume that things will work out the way I want them to?  Why would anything go according to plan in my life?

And I don't mean to compare this house debacle to losing Eliza--there is no comparison and I'd happily pay two mortgages for the rest of my life if it meant I got to have both my babies here.  I know that in the long run "it's only money."

But dammit, I have a new house that I want to decorate and furnish (why are side tables so expensive?  I mean seriously) and it freaking sucks to be paying a whole lot of money every month for a house we're no longer living in.

(Anyone want to buy a cute little house in the city?  We'll give you a great deal.)

Enough of my first world problems, owning two homes and whatnot.  If only one of them were on a beach instead of roughly two miles from the other one, I would be super stoked about it.

So I go from being hopeful it will sell to be totally pessimistic and convinced it will never sell.  Along those same lines, I'm either obsessively reading home decor and DIY blogs or avoiding them completely because they make me want to buy things I can't afford.  And then I settle for making lists:  "House Projects to be done when the other house sells" and "House Projects we can do now."  The first one is considerably longer.

Right now, I'm trying to be a little bit Pollyanna about it and basically I'm going to do the most budget-friendly (read: cheap) things I can do and try to get the biggest bang for my buck.  I may be using cardboard boxes as side tables, but you know how it is.  Work with whatcha've got.

In that vein, I sewed some curtains for the kitchen.  And they turned out okay.  I'm still afraid they look a little...  I don't know...  Eighth-grade home-ec?  (As opposed to "professional custom-made").  But I think they're an improvement over what was there and I still like the material and the pop of color:

Choosing the red ribbons was not an easy choice.  I originally thought I'd use turquoise, but it just didn't look right.  So then I dug out some other contenders.

I decided I liked red the best (my mixer is also red), but had to buy ribbon that wasn't too skinny or too fat.

So now the kitchen looks like this:

(Of course I didn't take a before picture from this angle, and in the previous pictures you can't see the curtains because of the window lighting but they were white and lacy and you can kinda see them here).

I'm not sure these will be my forever-window-treatments, but the fabric cost $16 total, the ribbon cost $9, and after measuring and cutting one evening after Zuzu was in bed (I didn't have a pattern--I just cut the fabric to fit the windows and hemmed it), I was able to whip them up during her (conveniently longer than usual) afternoon nap the following day.

Total investment:  $25 and approximately 3 hours, not counting time spent pondering the ribbon color choice.  This is only the tip of the iceberg of things I want to change in the kitchen.  But at least it's a start!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Other People's Pregnancies

I can (almost) remember when pregnancy announcements made me feel giddy and gleeful and SOOOOO excited for people.  I used to be the girl who made diaper cakes and carefully selected themes and invitations for baby showers, and shopped tirelessly for the perfect baby gift.  I co-hosted three baby showers the year Eliza was born, attended three more, and also made a diaper cake for David's nephew.

I am so not that girl anymore.

My cousin had a baby on July 11th--a little girl.  I visited her at her house last weekend and held the baby and it was... fine.  Nice, even.  I marveled at the little-bittiness of this little girl--at 7 pounds and 19 inches, she's littler than Zuzu ever was (refresher for those of you who did not push her out of your vagina:  she was 8 pounds and 21 inches and that resulted in a whole lot of stitches--gag gag gag).

Anyway, visiting my cousin and her baby, I felt so normal and non-bitter/jealous/sad/angry/resentful/traumatized/grief-stricken about it that I was kind of amazed at myself.

HOWEVER, if she had still been in the hospital, I would not have seen the baby because I do not do hospital baby visits, just like I do not do baby showers.  I will now hold other people's new babies, but I have my limits.

So, I guess the baby thing has gotten easier for me to handle.  I have come a long way in that regard.  But I'm still not comfortable getting excited about pregnancy.  I'm glad for people, especially baby-loss mamas who are now expecting again.  But I'm also anxious and worried for them.  And no matter how much I like someone, I always feel a pang of envy when I hear of someone experiencing pregnancy without having experienced the grief and trauma of baby loss.  I don't wish them ill; I just wish I could be like that again.

But I can't undo my experience and the emotional baggage that comes along with it.  And that means that when it comes to other people's pregnancies...  I'm kind of a jerk.

You see, I adore my cousin who had this baby--she's the closest thing to a little sister that I've got.  Even so, I did not attend her baby shower.  In fact, I stand by the proclamation that I will never attend another baby shower.  The mere thought of a baby shower makes me want to puke.

It's really a good thing that most of my friends are finished having babies, because I suck at showing up for other people's pregnancies.  I mean, I really suck.

Here's a prime example of how I am the worst friend ever to pregnant people.  I'll tell you this story not because I'm proud of it, but because it's my reality:

My best friend from high school got pregnant just a few months after Eliza died.  When I say best friend, I mean this is the girl who showed up at my house a week or so after Eliza died and stayed with me during her winter break when my parents had to go home for a few days and David was at work.  She fixed meals and made me eat and told me to shower and dragged me out of the house to walk the dog.  She hugged me and cried with me and distracted me and prayed for me.  She still speaks Eliza's name and acknowledges my grief. She texted or called me every day for months after Eliza's death.  She is Grade-A best friend material.

And then she went and and got pregnant just a few months after Eliza died.

The thing is, she had been actively trying to get pregnant for a long time.  She had to do two and a half rounds of IVF to get pregnant and that process took about nine months (I say "half" because she had one cycle that got cancelled halfway through).  She and her husband are wonderful people (and wonderful parents) who desperately wanted a baby and they went into debt to make that baby happen.

Knowing all of this, you'd think maybe I could find it in me to be happy for her when she got pregnant the April after Eliza died.

Nope.  I'm afraid not.  I just couldn't get past feeling sorry for myself.  I mean, sure, I was hopeful for her.  And also scared and anxious.  But mostly I felt jealousy and resentment bubbling to the surface, no matter what I did.  She was pregnant on MY TIMELINE, just one year later.  And OF COURSE, she was having a girl.

(I mean, I was happy for her because MY GOD I'm not a monster.  But mostly I was just sad for me.  And I felt pretty monstrous about that.)

I dropped out of Facebook for a lot of reasons, but one of those was because I couldn't stand to see her (or anyone else) celebrate her pregnancy.

I was supposed to be her best friend, and I couldn't find it in myself to share in her happiness.

We were each other's maid- and matron-of-honor.  We hosted each other's bridal showers.  She helped to host a baby shower for me, even though it was four hours from where she was living at the time.  She bought many lovely gifts for Eliza in the fall of 2010.  One year later, in anticipation of this much-loved and much-wanted baby, did I throw a shower for her?


In fact, I didn't even ATTEND her baby shower.  Nor did I send a gift.  I mailed a check to the friend who hosted it because she'd offered to add my name to the gift she bought if I wanted to contribute.

The hostess was also thoughtful enough to ask me if I wanted to receive an invitation because she didn't want me to feel excluded, though she understood if I couldn't attend.  She actually tucked the invitation inside a "Thinking of you" card with a note about Eliza, which was so kind of her.  I still sobbed over the invitation.  And I don't even know what the gift was.  (Nor do I really care to know, even now.  Too many bad memories.)

When another friend posted pictures of the shower on her blog, I looked at them and cried and cried.  NOT because I was sad that I missed it (although, of course, I was sad that I didn't want to attend).

No, I cried because I was ugly-jealous.  And because I was really pissed off that anyone who knew me and knew about Eliza could be smug and confident enough to have a baby shower ahead of time when she should know full well that SOMETIMES BABIES DIE and there was nothing that indicated she should be any luckier than I was.

(Except, you know, statistics.  F*cking statistics.)

That's the thing about pregnancies--I'm still sort of appalled that people who know babies die, which is ANYONE WHO KNOWS ME, can still celebrate pregnancies.  Logically, I know that they are the normal ones and I'm not, and that it is GOOD and HEALTHY to celebrate pregnancies and it's not that I wasn't happy to be pregnant with Zuzu when she was The Deuce.  It's just that she never felt like a sure thing and I wasn't about to start celebrating a "maybe baby."  It's just mind-boggling to me.  Like, you would set up a whole nursery BEFORE your baby is born?  Who DOES that?  Oh, wait.  EVERYBODY.  Everybody but me.

Fortunately, my friend was able to accept what I had to offer.  Which was basically nothing.  She didn't expect me to squelch the grief and terror and anxiety and jealousy inside me to perform a happy dance for her and fake my way through it.  She was able to wait until I could show up, on my terms, and be genuinely thrilled for her.  We were able to have honest conversations about how hard the timing was for me, how scared I was that I'd never be pregnant again, how hard it was for her to know so much about the world of baby loss.  (Which, by the way, I resented, like she didn't get to be scared for her baby?  Because her baby was going to be fine?  I don't know.  Grief is not known for making one rational or nice.)

I kept my mouth shut about how much I wanted her baby to be a boy.  And then I cried my eyes out when I found out it was a girl.  It wasn't about not being happy for her.  I was simply oh so sad for me.  She was living the life that I'd had just one year earlier (almost to the day), but I had no doubt she'd get the happy ending that was ripped away from me.  It was too much, too close.  We could be friends, but it was thin ice.

When we talked throughout her pregnancy (which was less often than we'd talked before, but also due in part to her crazy busy schedule in her last semester of graduate work), we usually avoided talking about pregnancy.  At a time when it's almost impossible for pregnant women not to be obsessed with all things baby, she was amazing about talking about other things, and that's probably what salvaged our friendship (since I obviously was not doing much on my end).  I could be a friend to talk about school or marriage or her career or the 2012 primaries, but I was not the friend to talk to about getting maternity photos taken or visiting pediatricians or making birth plans (which, you know, is all first-time-pregnant people want to talk about!).  I could not be that friend.  It sucks, because even in the depths of my grief, I wished I could be that friend for her.  But it was absolutely beyond my capacity at the time.

My friend's due date was in December, over my Christmas break (of course--a year after Eliza).  Did I make arrangements so that I could be there for the birth of what could possibly be my best friend's only child--my best friend who dropped everything and rearranged her final exam schedule so she could be there with me in my darkest days?

No.  I went to Mexico.   I didn't even have cell phone reception.

I'm basically the poster girl for Shitty Friend to Pregnant Women.

Two weeks after her daughter was born, I did manage to visit her at home.  This was thirteen months after Eliza.  I stayed for a weekend and was careful to not be a demanding houseguest.  I brought food and gifts for the baby, and I made myself useful, washing bottles and pump parts and vacuuming.  And, yes, I held the baby.  The first baby I held after Eliza died, and the only baby I held before Zuzu was born.  I cried.  I also laughed.  I forced myself to do these things because I wanted to be a good friend to her.  I forced myself to do them because my grief had robbed me of so much and I did not want it to rob me of this experience with my friend and her new baby.  It was not easy.  It was not what it might have been.

To tell you the truth, it probably would have been impossible for me to visit her at that time if I hadn't been sixteen weeks pregnant myself by then.

Grief makes me so selfish.

Did I want my friend to lose her baby?  To experience the heartbreak I was living?  Absolutely NOT.  Not once in all my jealous bitterness about other people's pregnancies did I actually wish that this would happen to someone else.  I just wished so hard that it hadn't happened to me.

Did that mean I was able to celebrate her pregnancy with her?  Uh... obviously not.  No way.

So now, I mostly like babies, but a positive pregnancy test is not a baby.  It's nothing more than a huge risk of heartbreak.  Pregnancy isn't safe.  It is scary.  A newborn baby--yes.  I can be happy for you about that, if you're not a douche-bag.  But saying "Congratulations" to a pregnant woman feels so premature to me that it's idiotic.  "Best wishes" is the best that I can do even now.  (Which is sometimes totally awkward, believe me.)

My friend's daughter is the most darling girl in the world next to Zuzu.  I love her to pieces.  But until she was born, I couldn't go to a shower for her.  I couldn't believe in her.  There was no way I could celebrate her until she was here.

(Maybe because I could only celebrate Eliza until she was here?  So I won't give other babies that privilege?  Or maybe it's just my version of grief PTSD.)

I hate to think that my grief could so easily be interpreted as my not being happy for someone else's good fortune, especially a friend I love so much.  But when her life circumstances connected so poignantly to my own loss...  It was a brutal year.  There's just no way around it.  I was happy for her but sad for me, and sadness won every time.  It was too big and too heavy.  Nothing else could measure up.

What it comes down to is that my friend was there for me in my desperate sorrow and I was not there for her in her happy pregnancy.  My absence, my lack of showing up, my poor display of friendship...  that's my fault.  That's me being a victim of my grief and letting it bleed out and potentially hurt other people.

In my defense, I was powerless in the face of my grief.  It was so huge and so overwhelming that there's no way I could have compartmentalized it.

I'm not in such a fragile place now that I'm further out from Eliza's death, and now that I've experienced a pregnancy with a happy ending.  I can compartmentalize enough to behave appropriately and meet social expectations, most of the time.  But other people's pregnancies are still not my favorite.

I still am not interested in reading pregnancy updates (or announcements) on Facebook.  I just feel so far removed from that.  Like I'm on another planet.  You know--Planet My Baby Died.  I'm sorry that I can't live on Planet Earth, where I could read such Facebook posts and even "like" them, and such things would feel obvious and easy and relevant to my life.  But it doesn't feel that way.  Positive pregnancy tests are loaded and scary and dangerous.  They say, "I might bring home a baby in several months, or I might bring home his ashes."  Because, as far as I know, that's how it goes.  And it could happen that way.  For ANYONE.

I am happy for people who announce pregnancies, but I'm mostly anxious for them.  I'm happy for my friends when they have living babies.  But I am always always envious.  To have the joy of a newborn baby without knowing the grief of the death of a newborn baby?  That must be AMAZING.  I'd do just about anything to have that life and to be so comfortable in it that I could take it for granted.  I can't even tell you what a gift that must be.

Instead, I walk my own bittersweet reality, and there's a twinge of self-pity and a pang of envy accompanying my happiness for other people and their pregnancies.  That's just my reality these days, and probably forever.

I know that some people might expect me to be in a different place at this point.  You might imagine that having Zuzu has transplanted me back to Planet Earth, but that's just not the case.  If someone where to expect me even now to be the kind of friend who who makes diaper cakes and hosts baby showers...  I can't.  I'm just... not.

And what really sucks is that while my friend was incredibly understanding about it, I can see why other people might not have been so patient with me.  It was shitty that I couldn't get over myself and be a better friend to her.  It was embarrassing that I had limitations that came across as selfish and ugly (even to me).  I know it had to disappoint my friend that I couldn't be there for her.  I'm so lucky she didn't hold my grief against me.

As we quickly learn after living through something like this, there are people who respect your grief and make space for it.  And there are people who recognize your grief, but they resent it as an ugly appendage they wish you could lose already.  Another kind of friend in her position could have said to me, "I was there for you in your grief, now you should show up for my happiness."  And while I can see that point of view, that's just not how it works, you know?  Because the flip side of that is always "Eff you and your happiness.  My baby died."  The argument that trumps everything.

I think of the way things seem now, two and a half years later, when I have so many things to be grateful for and these things add up to a beautiful life.  But I will never have Eliza.  The collateral damage that her loss caused some of my friendships is really, really sad.  Losing a year of my life, and all of the little things that went along with that is sad.  The fact that pregnancy has lost its fun and is now a source of jealousy and fear is also sad.  But nothing is as sad as losing her.

It's hard when the best thing in your friend's life is an enormous grief trigger for you.  If only people could just win the lottery or get engaged or get new puppies or get promoted at work instead of getting pregnant.  I could be SO HAPPY for them.

But when it comes to other people's pregnancies, people who haven't experienced a loss, it's just not that simple anymore.  It's not the grief grenade it once was, but I'm not making any diaper cakes, either.  It's more like...  Good luck with that.  Now let's talk about the last two episodes of Game of Thrones.  Can you BELIEVE that sh*t?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Photo Session - One Year

We met up with Katie Beach in Forest Park last weekend.  She took Zuzu's newborn, six month, and now one year photos.  She has done an amazing job each time--you may remember these?

Nine days old...

6 months later...

Although we had the pictures taken in our home for logical reasons--the summer Zuzu was born we had a heatwave so it was over 100 degrees out, and her six-month photos were taken in the middle of winter--I love those pictures because it's such a lovely keepsake of where we lived at that time.  As much as I like that setting, though, I'm head over heels for the photos that she took in Forest Park near the Muny.

(For those of you who aren't local:  The Muny is a large outdoor amphitheater and each summer there are musical productions there on a weekly basis--this summer's line up includes Les Miserables and Mary Poppins.  You can buy tickets for good seats or you can get there early and snag a free seat in the way back--which is what David and I usually do when we go because we are cheap frugal.)

Outside pictures are always lovely to me, and of course Forest Park is a special place for our family.  Eliza's tree happens to be planted close to the Muny, so that's where we started for our photo session.  Her tree is behind Zuzu in the first two pics you'll see if you click the link below.

Other insider information:  I'm wearing my Eliza & Caroline necklace, Zuzu's yellow and orange romper was a gift, the little flowered dress I picked up at Marshall's for $3, and the little yellow dress in the last photos was purchased at Macy's on her very first shopping trip when she was about two weeks old.  Memories...

Also, if you're looking for a St. Louis photographer, I can't say enough good things about Katie.  Her work speaks for itself, but her personality is sweet and funny and she makes us feel very comfortable.  That makes it easy for us to just act like our dorky selves and then somehow Katie works her photography magic so we come out looking pretty cute--or the baby steals the show so you don't really notice us so much.  Either way, she's awesome.  For $300 you can get a photo session ($100) and the entire CD of photos ($200), which is really a steal of a deal.  (And she did not ask me to say that, nor am I getting comped for this session--we just keep paying her because we like her and her photos).

Okay:  Check out my gorgeous baby here at Katie's blog.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Rosie the Roomba

We have a Roomba vacuum--you know, the little round robots who zip around and vacuum the house while we sit on the couch and eat bonbons go to work all day?  We named her Rosie after the Jetsons' housekeeper robot.  She does a pretty good job of keeping dog hair at bay during the week, but she's somewhat inefficient.  I mean, I could vacuum the room myself in much less time than it takes Rosie to bob and weave back and forth and back and forth.  But that would also require me vacuuming the room myself instead of sitting on the couch eating bonbons doing other important tasks.  So anyway, Rosie serves her purpose.

(Although I will just note to any and all people who might be wondering, since apparently this is news to some people--coughcoughDavidcoughcough--that her purpose is NOT vacuuming up half a bag of popcorn kernels when they are spilled all over the kitchen floor.  It would make MUCH more sense to simply SWEEP THEM UP YOURSELF rather than dodging a robot vacuum who is spinning all around the kitchen because she doesn't know she should focus on the popcorn kernels.  Which by the way, hurt to step on.)

Zuzu was naturally intrigued by Rosie when she first encountered her.  She plays a little song!  She has a light-up button on her back!  She moves across the floor in a teasing little dance!  Obviously she is a toy made for children!

One day, I'd turned off Rosie and left her sitting (rather than docked under a side table where she usually is) and Zuzu crawled over to investigate.  She was all kinds of pleased with herself and making excited little squeals about touching Rosie, and then she hit the "on" button.

Rosie lit up, played her little song, and started spinning.  She turned and bumped right into to Zuzu's thigh, and then did it again and again.  From Zuzu's perspective, I can see why this would be somewhat terrifying, especially because Rosie has bumped into my feet before and it's not exactly comfortable.  Zuzu started crying and I picked her up and comforted her, but it was too late.

She's terrified of Rosie.  If she so much as hears Rosie play her little "power on" song, Zuzu will burst into tears.  If I walk NEAR Rosie's docking station, carrying Zuzu, her little arms will tighten around me, and there's no way she'd let me put her down.

I'm kind of surprised that our fearless little daredevil is so freaked out by the Roomba.  She's not at all afraid of the regular vacuum or the dust-buster.  Of course, I haven't ever rammed into her with the vacuum or dustbuster, either (before you think, Wow, what a good mom for not terrorizing her child with the vacuum, you should finish reading this blog post.).  It hasn't really been that big of a deal--we usually run Rosie only when we're out of the house so I haven't thought too much about it.  Zuzu can work it out later with her therapist, right?

But then we've had to deal with this:

I've got this
It was the new favorite activity, despite a certain lack of skills when it comes to NOT tumbling over backwards.

I made it more than half way up!
She started darting for the stairs whenever we set her down on the floor.  Our floorplan makes it difficult to block her from approaching the stairs, so I put a baby gate at the bottom the stairs, which would prevent her from crawling up them when we weren't looking.  I didn't count on this:

You think you can stop me from climbing the stairs?
I'll just scale the bannister and give you a panic attack.
Our floor plan makes it virtually impossible to completely block off the staircase, so I needed a new solution besides leashing the baby to me.

And then it hit me.

I parked Rosie at the bottom of the stairs.

At the next opportunity, Zuzu crawled gleefully through the house at top speed, heading directly for the stairs.  When she got near the entry way, however, she spied the small, round robot, sitting silently, turned off, but lurking.  Waiting for her.

And she stopped short in her tracks and burst into tears, backpedaling to get away from the vicious vacuum.  She was desperate to have someone pick her up and save her.  She wanted to go nowhere near the stairs!

I know, it's super mean.  Also somewhat hilarious.  And very effective in keeping the baby off the stairs.

Small victories, people.  Small victories.

Dear Zuzu's Future Therapist for Overcoming Robot-Vacuum Fears,

You're welcome for these billable hours.


Zuzu's Mom

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Lucky Baby

One thing I love is seeing Zuzu with my parents.  She is crazy about them, and when Grammy and Gramps arrive for a visit, she does her super excited thing where she waves her arms and dolphin-kicks her legs and shrieks in delight.

Losing Eliza was hard on so many levels, but one of the ways it was hard was knowing how sad and disappointed my parents were.  And I knew that disappointment wasn't directed at me, but complicating my grief was the terrible feeling that I'd let everyone down--especially David but also my parents and the rest of our families.  I knew that David and I weren't the only ones looking forward to her arrival, so of course we weren't the only ones heartbroken when she died.  

It's a good thing, in the sense that we knew and appreciated that our grief was shared, but it's a hard thing in the sense that it adds to the feeling of guilt and sadness I couldn't help but experience.  It's not like my parents ever made me feel worse--I know they weren't disappointed in me and they never said or did anything that made me feel like they were anything but sad with us.  It's just that I knew how excited they were to be grandparents, and I was so, so sorry that they were denied that opportunity.  It was an additional layer of sadness to know that my parents had missed out on the chance to love on their first granddaughter.  I hated it for them, I hated it for Eliza.

It's the ripple effect of heartbreak--David and I might have been in the center, reeling from the greatest impact, but my parents (and many of our friends and family) were just outside, rocked by the sudden loss of all we'd been looking forward to, and as much as I was grieving for us, a part of me was also grieving for them.

The corollary of this is that seeing my parents with Zuzu is awesome.  It's awesome in the sense that they are hugely helpful in taking care of her (letting me sleep in and entertaining her while I text my friends and read blogs get things done around the house), and it's awesome in the sense that I can already see how much she loves them.  I wish so much that Eliza was able to soak up that lovin'.  It fills up my heart to see Zuzu having fun with them.  I was lucky to have wonderful grandparents and great-grandparents who made my childhood pretty magical, and I'm so glad that Zuzu will be able to say the same.

Grammy and Gramps are pretty crazy about this girl.

Clearly, the feeling is mutual.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Nursery

When you go to the top of our stairs, there's a small landing with four doors--Zuzu's room is the first one on the right.  One window overlooks the backyard, the other window looks at our neighbor's brick exterior (city houses are close together).  It gets lots of light and is a small, sunny space.  I love playing on the floor in here with Zuzu, and we read lots of books in the chair.

Here's what the room looked like BEFORE we bought the house, when it was a sad, neglected office space:

Beige box = blank slate!

You may remember the ceiling painting processed detailed here.  Here's a quick refresher:

We frog-taped. 
We painted.
We peeled off the frog tape.
After we did the ceilings, David put up trim to make a picture rail and I painted all the existing trim white.  In retrospect, I wish I would have painted the trim before I painted the walls.  I also wish I would have used Zissner's oil-based primer on the existing trim so I didn't have to sand it so much.  I used all zero-VOC paint, which is ideal for a nursery, but I'm a little worried about wear-and-tear and the wood bleeding through.  I guess we'll just see how it goes!

At any rate, here is what it looked like when the trim was finished, before the curtains were hung:

For details on the faux-capiz chandelier, you can read this post.  The center picture above her crib is missing in this photo because I spray-painted it white and was letting it off-gas outside for a couple of days before hanging it up.

Here we go--with the curtains in place:

You can't really see it here because of the glare, but the formerly-missing picture is the Sleeping Beauty print from the Fairytales for Hope project.  It's a new addition to this nursery--we never had the right spot for it at the old house, and I'm so glad to get it on the wall.  The other frames were all up at the old house, but a couple of them are new to the nursery.  It's nice to move things around because I notice and appreciate them more.

I sewed the curtains myself, using Michael Miller fabric I ordered online and black-out curtain material I purchased at Jo-Ann fabric with a 40% off coupon.  I put the two fabrics right-sides together and sewed around three sides, leaving the bottoms open.  Then I clipped them to the rods (I decided to make them as simple as possible, so I bought the clip-on curtain rings) and pinned up the the bottom so it was the right length.  Then I cut off the excess, folded them in, and sewed the bottom hem.  

What I don't love about them is that the black-out material is so thick it prevents the curtains from hanging really nicely--they look kinda bulky because they are kinda bulky.  What I do love about them is that they make the room nice and dark.  I think they've helped immensely with improving her nighttime sleeping.

I used the same fabric to make her crib bumper (by which I mean, I cut out the rectangles and provided the fabric to Crafty Cousin Amanda, who sewed it for me).  This picture is poorly lit, and was taken with my phone, but you get the idea:

The outside of the bumper is the same as the curtains, but running horizontally instead of vertically.  The inside of the bumper is a soft gray with white polka dots.  I decided that when Zuzu is in bed, I didn't want her to see such a busy and stimulating print.  The ceiling is stimulating and busy enough!

The chair sits to your left when you walk in the door:

My favorite thing about the little reading nook might be the framed print hanging under the shelves.  It just feels like a fun little surprise at that level.  I reused all the art from her old nursery, but I prefer the way we've displayed it here (and I'm not just saying that!  Of course, there were so many mixed emotions in the old nursery, that might be part of the reason I like this one better.  Or it could be the kick-ass ceiling...).  I also added my "Happiness is a form of courage" framed print there in the center.  It was in the hall at the old house, but it feels right to have it in the nursery here.  You can maybe see that the bottom 8x10 white frame looks weird--that's because we haven't put anything in it yet.  I am going to put her birth announcement in here instead of smaller frame it was in, but I had to get a mat for it.

This corner is diagonal from the chair:

I still need to paint the vent so that it's coral to match the stripe.  You can see all of her hair bows and headbands next to the closet.  I considered putting them inside the closet so it wasn't so messy/busy in that corner, and sometimes I wish that I would have, but it works just fine there and they are definitely easier to access.  Same changing table, and I kept the art above the changing table the same because I love its story.

Here's the door:

The stitched sign on her door reads "Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move mountains."  We had it on the door of her first nursery as well.  

You can probably tell that the scale of the room is small.  It's slightly smaller than her old nursery, but I like the layout better because it's almost a perfect square instead of being a kind of weird rectangle.  I think the major difference is that the closet door in the old room was two bifold doors and here it's a single small door.  The closet itself is smaller which gives us slightly less storage space, but in the old house half her closet was also the coat closet, so it doesn't feel like we have less room here since we don't have to keep our coats in the nursery!  Also I can use the closet in her "big girl room" for overflow (I keep a bin in there for outgrown clothes and it also holds clothes in the next size up).  So this suits our needs just fine for now:

Man, I love her little clothes.

So that's the nursery.  It's the only room in the house that's actually complete, although eventually we want to pull up the carpet in all the upstairs rooms to refinish the hardwood floors underneath. Aside from that, it's nice to have one room we can cross off the list.