Wednesday, August 24, 2011

kitchen mini-makeover

Our prior house had a chair rail in the kitchen. The kitchen was very small, and it didn't have a dishwasher. Or even a double sink. But I really liked the chair rail. To highlight it, we painted the top and bottom each a different shade of green. I have no idea now what the top color was called, but the bottom color was something like avocado.

When we moved, our new kitchen did not have a chair rail. While I've toyed with the idea of painting a white stripe on the wall to mimic a chair rail, I don't think it would look all that great in our kitchen. For one thing, the cabinets are very dark. They'll be one of the first things to go when we're in a position to update the kitchen. I hate them. I need something brighter... maybe something more in the honey-colored range.

Anyway, the point is that I had to pick one color for the kitchen, so we picked the avocado color from the last kitchen. (It matched our towels better.) But once it was on the wall, it looked so ... muddy. I've lived with it for over 3 years now, and I think it's finally time for a change. I like the idea of green, but I'm terrible at picking out colors. My intention was to shamelessly copy Karen's color choice and see how I like Gentle Pasture by Valspar.

But when I looked at this color in the store, it looked SO much different than the color in my inspiration kitchen. Like... really really different.

my current kitchen

Karen's kitchen

Gentle Pasture


So now I think I've settled on Asparagus by Behr. One quick Google search confirms that it's a very popular color indeed, but I'm not sure how it will look with our dark cabinets. I'm going to paint it anyway, and if it doesn't look fab with the cabinets, I'll paint those too. That'll show 'em.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

a bunny ache

Last Christmas, I bought myself a gift from Natalie. It was a book called My Quotable Kid in which I could record all of the wonderful, amazing, funny things she would say once she started talking in earnest. Yesterday I finally made my first entry.

We were reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Natalie is now able to fill in the words of some books as we go. So, for instance, we read:

Mommy: In the light of the moon a little...
Natalie: egg
Mommy: lay on a...
Natalie: leaf. (She's very big on nouns.)
Mommy: One Sunday morning, the warm sun came up and ...
Natalie: POP! (the rare onomatopoeia)
Mommy: out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry...
Natalie: caterpillar.

It's adorable.

So when we got to Saturday in the book, we alternated reading the list of food the caterpillar had eaten that day. Natalie was able to help with most of the words -- pickle, cheese, ice cream, melon -- you get the idea. At the end of the list, there waits a very sick looking caterpillar.

We continued reading.
Mommy: That night, he had a...
Natalie: bunny ache.

I laughed of course. And I squeezed her and kissed her. A lot.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

real progress

I took a half-day off of work yesterday to work in solitude on New Baby's nursery. When we first found out I was pregnant, I fully intended to use all of the same bedding and decor from Natalie's room. That was part of the reason we went gender neutral in the first place. Natalie's room turned out great. I loved it. I still love it.

But my mommy guilt got the best of me. I want my kids to know they are both special to me. New Baby will have lots of hand-me-down toys and maybe clothes. So why not give New Baby his or her own space to grow?

Since we, like most parents, find ourselves shorter on cash now than we did before kids, the challenge was to put together a cute room for less money. Especially considering none of it was going to be "showered" on us.

We bought new furniture and painted, and that was a good start. But we had nothing on the walls. Everything I found online was either not to my taste or expensive or out of stock or gender-specific. I splurged on a wall decal (below) that was too cute to pass up and a baby's first year collage frame that matches Natalie's. Those two things came to about $55. I bought a couple of other small things new ($8.50 on clearance). Then I pieced the rest of the decor together using stuff I had on hand or purchased from a thrift store ($5.71).Decor: $69.21
Curtains: $15.50
Bedding: $45
Giving New Baby his/her own space: priceless (or $129.71)

It's got a totally different vibe from Natalie's room, but I really like it. I plan to showcase the projects here once I've got them on the walls. Check back!

Monday, August 1, 2011


If you've never interviewed someone before, you might not realize how nerve-wracking it can be. Being the interviewee is definitely a tougher job, but you don't get off scot free if you're the one asking the questions and making the decisions. There's a lot riding on your decision after all, and it's entirely possible that one wrong decision could haunt your every waking hour.

Perhaps that's a bit dramatic when it comes to the workplace, but it's pretty much spot on if you're interviewing day care centers for your children. When Matt and I first started looking at day care options (before Natalie was born) we were in a completely different place than we are now. We were unaware of all of the expenses that we'd be faced with and what kind of child care we wanted for Natalie. We hadn't research Flex Spending Accounts, the Child & Dependent Care tax credit, child care standards mandated by our state, and on and on and on. I guess we were just looking for a warm fuzzy feeling.

Some places we drove right by, not even bothering to go inside. Some places gave us the heebie jeebies during our tour. Some places enchanted us and gave us just the warm fuzzy feeling we were looking for... until it was time to discuss tuition. Some places came recommended. Others we knew only because they were close to our house and we'd driven by them a hundred times before.

For all our searching, we never did manage to find child care we were 100% satisfied with. Even our current situation has its share of negatives. (A 50-minute commute... with two kids to get ready in the morning? No thanks!) So we're looking again, and this time we're a little more prepared. We have some experience, we have a little bit better of an idea what we're looking for, what constitutes a good day care and what we're willing to sacrifice.

So I'm happy to report that after hours spent researching online, many solicited recommendations, and three tours of three different centers, I think we've found the place for us.

Partly, it's a relief to have made a decision at all, let alone one that we're happy with. But partly, it's also really scary. Because if you're not a seasoned interviewer, how do you know if the candidate is just putting on a show?

The answer is... you don't. And that's the part that's still nerve-wracking.