Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A new kind of Freshman 15 ... "Mommy 15"?

I have been struggling MIGHTILY lately, with issues surrounding exercise, healthy eating, and body image. Is it just that time of year, or what? What gives?

It seems that in every thought, there is the opposite thought -- making it impossible for me to fully decide where I stand.

As long-time readers know, I joined Weight Watchers when my baby girl C was six weeks old and wound up losing 65 lbs. from my delivery day (although, yes, some of that was baby). I was breastfeeding hardcore, so that helped a lot (oh, how I miss it!) with burning calories.

When I finished breastfeeding C (when she was 16 months old), about 10 lbs. immediately reattached itself to me (boo!). And then I got a Mirena (more on that soon) which I feel contributed to gaining another five-ish lbs. (it can do that).

So right now, I'm 15 lbs. heavier than I was at my lightest (the 65-lb. loss), and it's really frustrating. Why can't I just breastfeed FOREVER AND EVER, because it's definitely the most awesome way to burn calories that was ever invented.

Here's my internal whine these days ...

  • Exercise: I enjoy my adult gymnastics class because I love chatting with the other girls (Girls? Ladies? Are we ladies? I don't feel old enough to be a lady) and I love bouncing on trampolines. But I also kind of hate it sometimes because I don't like getting sweaty and out of breath, and feeling so sloggy and out of shape. It's like I FEEL those extra 15 lbs. I am just not an exerciser. I am not sporty. I am not someone who likes physical activity, as horrible as that sounds! But yet I know how important it is. I want my kids to love being active. I want my kids -- and me! -- to be healthy. But will I ever actually like it? Will I ever get used to feeling sweaty and sore-throaty from exertion?
  • Clothes: I still fit into all of my jeans, but yet I also feel like I'm busting out of them -- isn't that just the grossest, muffin-toppiest feeling? I admit that if it wasn't for wearing nothing but Reitmans Comfort Fit (not paid to say that -- I just love them), I surely wouldn't still fit into them some days. It is depressing. But other days they fit fine -- probably the days they are stretched out, but shhhhh!  I put on the right top (i.e. loose-fitting at the waist, tighter-fitting up top) and I think "OK, this is fine. I look all right. I'm tall." I see other people who are much shorter than me, and weight a lot more, and I feel better about myself. Is it normal to be so back-and-forth about how you feel about your (pear) shape? I feel schizophrenic half the time when I'm getting dressed!
  • Food: I struggle with food, lately. I feel like a sudden crop of eating-out opportunities popped up all at once, and I'm not the type of person who will order salad ever in a restaurant. No, no, no. I want to order things that I can't make (or can't make well) at home! Chicken fingers and potato skins 4-eva, you know? I go back and forth between feeling like I deserve a treat (DESERVE, I tell you!) and feeling like I'm making horrible choices. I tried (and failed) to give up potato chips for Lent, and I have a lot of FEELINGS over that. More of the back-and-forth "deserving a treat" and "making bad choices" nonsense. 
Basically all of my issues lately are stemming from a flip-floppy "Life is too short / Learn to live like an adult" type of confusion. Sometimes I tell myself that I'm doing all right, I'm still fitting into all of my clothes, and I'm enjoying life/treating myself. And other times I feel like I should be forcing myself to exercise more, I really would look better in my clothes if I could lose that 15 lbs., and I need to grow up and eat an effing salad.

Am I the only one who struggles with this back-and-forth? I hope not!


Friday, April 4, 2014

Transforming the cupcake nursery to a toddler room (by creating a very girly gallery wall)

Little C's cupcake nursery was kind of my favourite room in the house for a long time. It was soft and pretty and pink and white, and had little touches of glitter.

It served her well for the first almost-two years of her life, but it was very "nursery" ... 

But the plan was always to add more splashes of colour -- yellow, specifically -- to grow up the space a bit and make it more of a toddler/preschooler room.

I knew I wanted to do a HUGE gallery wall, because (A) pink is my jam (B) sparkles/glitter are my jam (C) I could think of fifty-million different phrases/colours/items I wanted to include in it.

It was absolutely the most fun gallery wall I've put together (and certainly not as frustrating as the boy-friendly gallery in my son's room). I knew it would need a flowy layout, because there were so many different shapes to jam in.

The end result is totally BRIGHT (and may be too crazy for some tastes), but I absolutely love it. It's made C's room more "little girl," and less "baby," and it always makes me smile.

Fun fact: only ONE of these frames was actually purchased (the gold one) and it was from the Dollarama. Everything else was a gift, a hand-me-down, or a recycled one from a previous home/room. 

This little cupcake is hard to spot in the big picture, but I love how it turned out. It took me about five minutes from start to finish, using a cheap plastic embroidery hoop (from Walmart), a scrap of cupcake material, a few scraps of felt, and a bit of stuffing. 

I put a picture of C in the yellow frame (taken on her first birthday), and the other two photos are of me as a baby. The chevron wall-hanging was really easy to make, and I just hung it right in the embroidery hoop to add some circle-y shapes into the mix.
This is actually a wooden Melissa & Doug box (it used to hold wooden fruit) that I painted pink, and hot-glued fake flowers into. I coated one of those $0.49 wooden Cs from Michaels in glitter, and glued it in the middle.

I made this cardstock pennant banner sort of absent-mindedly thinking I'd use it for C's upcoming second birthday, but then realized the colours didn't match the theme. I stuck it above her closet with scotch tape, and it worked perfectly.

We'd filled up C's original hairclip frame (the smaller one) a while back, so I grabbed another reject frame from the basement, painted it the same shade of pink, did a coat of glitter (GLITTERRRR) and glued on a few similar strips of ribbon. Now we have lots of space!

Oh, and for anyone interested in the $12 rain gutter bookshelves, here's a post about them.

Let's give a shoutout to the Dollarama (sup!) which is where I bought the pink titled shadowbox (top right) to paint and glue on titles (and pop a $1 hair flower in as 3D art). I also bought the oval wooden sign ("I believe in pink") to paint, the gold glittery frame, the wooden square frame (painted yellow). I love the Dollarama, and SO much of my wall decor comes from there.

See these beauties? I bought them for $0.50 (FIFTY FREAKING CENTS) each at a yard sale last summer. I literally pounced on them. I painted them pink using paint I already had, and now they'r perfect on C's walls (one on either side of her toddler bed)

I made this namesake art by covering an old (used) canvas with a piece of floral fabric, gluing on letters, and then outlining each letter in glitter glue from Michaels. Then I made a few felt roses to glue on.

Hello, fifty-cent beauties! (Hello, C!)

 Thanks for touring C's "refreshed" toddler room. What do you think? Is the gallery wall too crazy, or are you -- like me -- all about the gold, glitter, yellow, and hot pink?


Related posts:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Our organized toyroom + a board game wall

When I posted photos of D's bedroom refresh yesterday, I realized I don't think I ever posted photos of our finished basement.
Did I? The archives don't seem to think so, so let's see it ...

My favourite part of the room is the board game wall. We LOVE playing board games, but most importantly this gets them out of the storage closet -- we have extremely limited storage in our house -- and onto the walls. Art and storage get married, and this is their baby. Behold!
Games, games, games

The best part is that you can pull the games off the wall, and all of their pieces are stored behind them (Darling Husband built simple wooden frames to attach to the boards).

I sewed on little buttons at the destinations, too, and I love how it turned out.

Hand-me-down pull-out-couch (that's a lot of hyphens) with two really old red leather pillows, and two pillows I made.

A view into the "adult" side of the room

A view into the "kids" side of the room (although these pictures are a few months' old -- I've already Kijijied that little red car, and the cradle has been moved upstairs)
Remember reading about my ruler growth chart? It's got a place of honour down here!

I painted the feature wall emerald green, because it was named Colour of the Year. I'm into trends, apparently? (Just not when it comes to clothing, shoes, movies, books, TV shows, or diets)


This giant frame used to be in our kitchen, growing up. I snagged it from my mom's basement, painted it the focal wall colour, and Darling Husband screwed it into the wall (since my beloved 3M strips definitely wouldn't have held it). We (uh, HE) also painted wall inside the frame with chalkboard paint, and I made a quickie pennant banner out of felt and yarn.

This awesome DIY mirror lives at the bottom of the basement stairs.

This cabinet (dunno, electrical? something?) used to be all white, but now it's chalkboard paint. Chalkboard paint makes everything better.
I had an extra Scrabble game somehow, so I played around with the letters until I got this combination -- it used almost all of the letters, which was the goal! It says "In our house we love to play games, pretend, read, learn, sing, laugh, dream, grin, and have fun." I just took apart the board to access the clear piece, hot-glued the letters into the slots, and hung it with two plastic clampy things. It hangs just inside the door to the basement, at the top of the stairs.

The train table/Playmobil table was here for a while, but then I got tired of looking at it during my "Me time" after the kids were asleep, so I moved it back to the kiddie area, and ...
... this is what the corner looks like right now (like two seconds ago, right now). It makes the adult half truly an "adult" half, and it's more relaxing not to stare at a toy table every night.
Is there anything more calming than a perfectly-organized toy wall? No. I didn't think so.

Thanks for stopping by to tour our playroom!


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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Creating a gallery wall for a boys' bedroom

Last time on the ongoing saga of Oh What Shall We Put on D's Bedroom Walls, I showed you a nearly-done room with freshly-painted dark blue walls, newly-installed white board-and-battern, and a really cool rain gutter bookcase.

It was very simple and clean, but OH, did it need wall art!

Usually I'm pretty quick to make decor designs -- impatient personality combined with a creative certainty in most things I do -- so I was surprised it took so long to fill those walls.

I knew I wanted to do a gallery wall, because HELLO, my name is Heather and I love gallery walls. But it took me forever to figure out an arrangement that worked. 

I wasn't going to use only white frames, like galleries I did in the kitchen and living room. I wasn't going to use only black frames, like the gallery I did on the stairs. I wasn't going to use all yellow frames like the powder room. You get the idea.

I knew I wanted to use a mixture of colours and textures -- oh jeez, this just got really design-snobby, didn't it? -- but I couldn't figure out WHAT to use. I have a huge collection of frames (it's an addiction) from yard sales, and my mom and my aunt periodically give me more. I also have a lot of little paintings and crafty things that I've done, so I had a lot to sift through. I wanted each item to be meaningful -- not just something that fit the space.

I also had to figure out an arrangement. I spread everything out on the floor of our basement playroom/TV room a bunch of different times, and nothing would feel right. Did I want to do two mini-galleries, one over each bed? No, because then I would feel limited to keeping the beds there. LIMITED, I TELL YOU!

So I'd shove all of the frames and artwork back into my office, and forget about it for a while. 

A few days ago, I got sick of tripping over frames -- no one goes in my office except me, which means I consider it the only spot in the house worthy of being a dumping-grounds for random junk. I dragged everything back to the playroom and tried again. 

I don't know if it was the sheer desire to get it all OUT of my office, or if I'd finally figured out the right arrangement, but I did it. Then I dragged everything upstairs, and -- with D's help -- nailed and/or 3M-stripped everything to the damn wall. DONE!

Welcome to D's room ... (again)

D is obsessed with farms (OBSESSED) and I'm obsessed with chevron, so ...

Red poster is from a school supply shop, grey "Always remember you are so loved" was painted by me, blue square painting by me, two landscapes by me (I got new paints for Christmas, thanks Mommmm). Cute baby D photo is on the left, and a cute Baby Darling Husband photo is on the right.

Little Sis always makes fun of me for putting Cs in all of my gallery walls, but THERE IS NO "C" here. Just a six, because our sweet boy was born on 6/6/10 (it's a brass house number from Kent). The red frame is a $1 cut-out I bought at Michaels and painted red, the yellow mat around D's artwork is a piece of yellow cardstock, the "What is a little boy?" plaque is from when Darling Husband was a baby, and the "C-L-A-R-K-E" photos are free printables that I stuck in two three-slot Walmart photo frames and jammed together.

Like D's new desk? I think it's so fun! Our town was actually giving a bunch of them away, and tweeted that they were in front of the old teachers' college for anyone who wanted them. I sent Darling Husband down IMMEDIATELY and he grabbed one for each kid, along with some extra chairs. D is in LOVE with his "real school desk," and it meant I got to move his old one to the entranceway. Woo!

I talked extensively about D's awesome rain gutter bookshelves in this post, in case you missed it!


Thanks for tolerating yet another post about The Boy Who Got The Worst Room In The House. I don't have to feel bad any more about choosing a bad paint colour originally (too-pale grey = ick), and it feels good!

D's room now has so many elements that I LOVE (board-and-batten, a nice bold paint colour, a gallery wall) along with kid-approved items (a funky old school desk, stickers all over the window) and lots of colour (the red and yellow accents in the gallery wall make me smile).

Most importantly, my obsession with gallery walls has been appeased ... for now ...


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When eggs are the enemy

I'm over at Scratch or Sniff talking about C's egg allergy!

I'm a huge fan of Roo's sites (she's known for her famous This Is How I Feel Fridays over at Neon Fresh), so it's exciting to be guest-posting for her.

If you have a little one with allergies, I hope you hop over to check it out!


Monday, March 17, 2014

The worst game of tag ... ever

Almost two (two!) years ago, I posted about how much it sucks when your kids "tag-team" you at night.

You know, older kid wakes up screaming/crying, you drag yourself out of bed and deal with them, and then just as you're falling asleep again, younger kid chimes in with their own separate complaints/issues.

Well, here's an update for you: it still happens when your kids are three and almost-two!

Last night, Darling Husband was working an overnight shift -- isn't that always the way? Holla at me, shift-work spouses! -- and the kids were doing everything in their power to overwhelm and exhaust me ...

  • I come up to bed and start reading
  • D is now whining because his throat hurts
  • Tell D that he needs medicine to make it feel better, he refuses
  • C is cheerfully calling "Hi, Mummy!" from under her bedroom door
  • Tell C to please get some sleep and she happily responds "Oh-tay!" ("Okay!")
  • D starts crying because of his throat, and I also suspect he has to pee
  • Carry D to the bathroom, make him pee (I was right)
  • Carry him downstairs to the locked medicine cupboard, show him his medicine choices (orange chewies, grape chewies, or grape liquid), he declines them all
  • Tuck D back into bed
  • Huge crash from C's room
  • I run into her room -- dropping my iPhone on the floor in the process, so y'all know I was concerned! -- and she is hysterical. A framed photo fell from her gallery wall (my bad!) but luckily nothing broke, and she wasn't anywhere near it.
  • C won't calm down, and I feel really guilty about my crap photo-hanging abilities, so I bring her in bed with me (something I never do, but I figure it can't hurt just this once)
  • Tuck C in next to me, close my eyes, tell her it's time to sleep
  • C lies next to me, breathing softly
  • *poke* *poke* "Ah-bows!" (She is poking my eyebrows)
  • "Go to sleep, baby!"
  • C lies next to me, breathing softly
  • *poke* *poke* "Ah-washes!" (She is touching my eyelashes)
  • "Yes, C! Go to sleep, please!"
  • C lies next to me, breathing softly
  • "Daddy blah blah blah DADDY blah blah blah BLAH?"
  • "Shhhh, C. Daddy's at work. Go to sleep."
  • C wraps her arms around my neck and says "Mamaaaaaaa!"
  • I hug her back, and start realizing I am never going to sleep with her in the bed
  • Fifteen minutes later, I ask if she wants to go back to her room, and she says yes
  • Carry C back to her room, tuck her into her "floor bed"
  • Console D, who woke up cranky again because of C
  • Collapse into bed, and sleep straight through until, well, the crack of dawn when I hear D puttering around his room.
It's definitely been worse, though. At least I wasn't contemplating sleeping in the minivan this time.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Sew your own Frozen costumes for $10 each

We are certainly a Frozen-obsessed household. If you have yet to see Frozen, I can bet that you either do not have small children, OR you do have small children but they are too young/fidgety/easily-frightened-by-movie-deaths and that's why you haven't seen it.

(FYI the deaths in Frozen aren't scary at all -- a wave quietly crashes over a ship that, erhm, has a Mom and Dad aboard -- and the kids don't really notice. I just say their parents are going on a trip.)

D and C also love to dress up, so D asked if I could make Frozen costumes -- specifically, he wanted to be Elsa and wanted C to be Anna. He said Darling Husband could be Kristoff, and I could be Sven (the reindeer) and Olaf (the snowman). Ouch, kid.

I decided to make a Kristoff costume, as well as dresses for Anna and Elsa, since D has (only very recently) become sensitive to the notion that "boys don't wear dresses" (I blame some of the preschool boys) and I figured he wouldn't actually want to dress up as Elsa.

So I grabbed $30 in fabric -- totally guessing on how much of each, but basically a meter for each -- and spend Friday night scribbling "patterns" and doing some cutting, and spent Saturday and Sunday sewing. D was really excited and helped me a bit. 

And then?

My sweet, gracious children DID NOT WEAR THE DAMN COSTUMES.

Seriously! D flat-out refused to put the Kristoff costume on. I managed to coerce C into the Elsa and Anna dresses -- using marshmallows and the iPod as a bribe -- so I could take a few pictures of her. Gratitude, thy name is ... not C and D.

I think they turned out really cute, but OH LORD, they were not an easy project. Well, I take that back. Kristoff's costume was easy. Elsa's dress was easy. Anna's dress and cloak were a nightmare. 

(I blame Little Sis -- who was visiting with the kiddies -- for the troubles with Anna's dress, because I asked her to string the elastic through the neckline, and she got the safety pin so tangled and caught that I had to cut it apart. CUT IT APART. Sewing does not run in genes, it appears. Love you anyway, Sissy! xo)

The cloak was the real dramz, though. I bought slippery fabric that wasn't cooperating, and I think I really screwed up my "pattern" to begin with, and it just ended up a hot mess. Oh well, it's only for dress-up (she told herself dejectedly).

Patterns, you say? Tutorials, you say? Sorry, I was winging it majorly, but I'll try to impact a bit of wisdom. 

I think I'm probably high-level beginner sewer, if that helps you determine if you can tackle this. The only really trick part is the cape, and I think that's because I (A) struggle with slippery fabric, and (B) didn't think it through (uh, like I never do) ...

(tldr: If you can make a simply baby dress, you can make these!)

Approximiate fabric shopping list:
  • 2 metres light stretchy turquoise fabric (for Elsa's skirt, Anna's sleeves and faux V-neck)
  • 2 metres of dark grey/black corduroy (for Kristoff's tunic and Anna's bodice)
  • 1 metre of blue fleece (for Kristoff's sleeves, pants, faux V-neck, mittens, and hat)
  • 1 metre of super shiny/sequinny ice blue fabric (for Elsa's sleeves and bodice)
  • 1 metre of ice blue tulle (for Elsa's train)
  • 1 metre of deep maroon silky fabric (for Anna's cloak)
  • 1 metre of deep blue silky fabric (for Anna's skirt)
Rough idea of my pattern pieces (Note: I never measure anything, it's all based on sight -- and therefore wonky and maybe charmingly homemade-ish?)

I apologize for the lack of a real tutorial, but this is the only photo I took while making the costumes ...

 As you can see, I really do just kind of "wing things" when I'm sewing -- which would drive a lot of serious sewers crazy, I know. I don't measure things. I've just made enough little baby-girl dresses to be able to eyeball sleeves, bodice shapes, etc. so that's why everything is very basic.

I hope I've inspired someone (anyone! Bueller ...? Bueller? ...) to make Frozen costumes for your little ones. Other than the pain-in-the-butt cloak (*$#* cloak!) I would highly recommend playing around with it.

And now, of course, the goal is to get my kids to WEAR these costumes!