Friday, October 5, 2012

Birth story for Elliotte Penelope

September 27, 2012

Dearest Elliotte Penelope:

It happened like in the movies. It was 12:45am; your dad was watching a movie, and I was reading in bed. I felt something strange and ran to the bathroom to discover that my water broke. 
I sat in shock and said, "Uh Mason, I think my water broke." 
"Are you sure?"
"No, but I don't think I went to the bathroom."
He then asked me questions from our childbirth class, and we decided we would go to the hospital just in case and would consider it a trial run.
Now this came as a shock because I was 37 weeks 5 days, and everyone told us first babies are late, so we thought we had at least two more weeks.  That next day was going to be my last day of work, and I was going to go on bed rest for two weeks to heal my swollen feet and prepare for your arrival.  Over the next few minutes we got dressed and frantically assembled a hospital bag, fed Atticus and Piper, and tried to remember all of those all important details.  During this time I began to have severe cramps, and I thought these must be the Braxton Hicks (fake contractions) people say they experience before child birth, so I was still thinking that this was a false alarm.  

On the drive to the hospital the cramps became excruciating, and I had to start using those breathing techniques they taught us in class.  When we timed the contractions they were only 4 minutes apart, but I kept forgetting to time them because I couldn't focus during the pain.  Once we arrived at the hospital we went to triage and discovered that I was 100% effaced, fully ruptured, and dilated to 3 cm, so I was most definitely in labor and had been the second my water broke.  It took them approximately an hour to admit us to a room, and during that time I was constantly being reassured by your dad, and I was praying to Jesus for the pain medicine (epidural) to arrive.  When we were admitted and moved to our delivery room, they took some blood to run tests that were necessary before they would administer the epidural pain reliever.  By the time the epidural arrived, I had experienced 3 hours of painful contractions and thought I had burned a hole in the clock from staring at it since they kept promising the medicine would arrive in 30 minutes.  The epidural was incredible.  I went from having the worst pain in my life to feeling like myself again.  I was able to have normal conversations with your dad and not have to do any strange breathing until the last hour or so before you arrived.  It was at this time that I met our favorite delivery nurses Suzy and Shawn; these women were so helpful, encouraging, entertaining, and cheered me on the whole time.  

Your dad was incredible.  He was by my side the whole time, and he gave me anything I needed to feel more comfortable.  When he wasn't right next to me he was pacing or resting right by my side.  At 6:45am after being in labor for 6 hours, I was dilated to 6 cm and the contractions were less than 1 minute apart, so they had to give me medicine to slow down the contractions, so your heart had time to recover.  At 9:00am I had reached 10cm and spent 2 hours doing what is called laboring down where we allowed you time to move closer to the outside world without pushing.  After 2 hours and little movement, they gave me the go ahead to push and push I did.  They informed me because you hadn't moved, I could not do any pretty pushing because if I didn't push as hard as I could, they would have to cut you out during a C-section delivery.  The pain was unbearable, but the thought of having a C-section was not an option, and I was willing to push as hard as I could to get you here as safely as possible. During the time I was pushing, I had to take deep breaths and hold them for 10 seconds while pushing as hard as possible.  To help me get through the pushing, your dad counted down every 10 second interval, and because he is a musician who knows how to keep time, he did a fabulous job.  Periodically the nurses would let your dad look to see the progress, and he got to watch as your head slowly progressed closer to the nurses' and doctor's hands.  Dr. Swanson was my delivery doctor, and he was amazing.  He was able to arrive the last 17 minutes and make sure you were delivered as safely as possible.  It took 1 hour and 17 minutes of what the nurses called "ugly pushing" until you entered our world.  
At 12:17pm, the doctor pulled you out, held you up, and I let out a scream.  I was so shocked that I actually gave birth to a beautiful baby girl whose healthy cry was an answer to our prayers.  They immediately placed you on my chest for what is called skin-to-skin time, and then they took you away to be cleaned, weighed, measured, and bathed.  While the doctor was taking care of me, your dad was able to help the nurses with your first bath and take pictures of every first that you were experiencing.  You weighed in at 6lb 12oz and measured 19 inches long.  He was instantly smitten, and he kept coming back to tell me how beautiful you are.  When you were in your dad's arms, he looked so amazed and happy.  I don't think I have ever seen him as happy as I did on the day of your birth.  We were instantly in love and enjoyed spending the next few hours in recovery as a family of three.  

We would just stare at you for minutes and were so amazed that just 12 hours ago we were lying in bed getting ready to go to sleep to prepare for another work day.  After we were moved to a postpartum room, your Grandma Lamb was your first visitor, and she seemed so amazed at how tiny you were.  Your dad was 8lb 9oz when he was born, so she was used to holding larger babies.  Your next visitor was your Poppy who flew from his work in Nevada to be by your side, and he kept saying how beautiful you were.  We even went online and your Grandma Lily, Tito Noah, and Tita Jordan were able to meet you over the internet--they were amazed that you had so much hair.  Your Tita Jordan can't wait until you are old enough for her to do your hair.  Then my friends Jacinda and Julie (Auntie Ju Ju) were your next visitors, and they brought you a headband as a gift and they brought me coffee...because they are good friends.  Your Grandma Robbie was praying for you and wanted to know everything about you since she lives in Oregon and is unable to come down until October.  

Elliotte, you entered the world surrounded by love, and your dad and I make you the promise that you will be loved all the days of your life.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Swollen Feet and Super Powers

My feet can now smash small children. 2 1/2 weeks of teaching and being in the last month of pregnancy has finally caught up to me.  By the end of the day, my feet look like they belong on the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man or Incredible Hulk.  After two doctor's office visits, I have been reassured it is not preeclampsia, and I just need to elevate my feet higher than my heart...not the easiest thing to do while teaching the college application essay to seniors and rhetorical devices to sophomores, so they sent me home from work for a couple of days to see if they will improve.  Since I still have 5 weeks till Lil Miss arrives, I am hoping to teach for at least 3 more of those weeks and have a feeling I am going to get used to seeing these puffy feet for a while longer.  I've decided I would prefer to think of them more like Hulk feet than Stay Puft because at least watching my feet grow and shrink seems more like a super power.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hospital Bag

My mail, and now this blog, has taken a dark turn.  I received this package today, and I'm thinking this is the beginning of the TMI posts that will eventually flood this blog.

The above pic includes Tucks hemorrhoid pads and super heavy absorbent incontinence pads--yes my mail was awesome today.  I'm still 5 1/2 weeks away from delivering Lil Miss, but I am trying to shop for (and add to) my hospital list, so that this bag is good and ready well before mid-October.  

For those of you expecting or who want to suggest additions, here is my unfinished list:

Unfinished Hospital List:

  • Ginormous underwear
  • Lanolin lotion
  • Extra pillows/Blanket
  • Nursing camis
  • Baby wipes
  • 3 pairs of socks (with grippy bottoms)
  • Flip flops and slippers
  • Comfy robe and pjs
  • Fiber snacks
  • Snacks for husband
  • Hard candies
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Toiletries (Chapstick, Face Wash, retainers, contact solution, toothbrush/paste, hair brush, deoderant)
  • Hair dryer
  • Boppy pillow
  • Camera, Phones, Ipads, Chargers
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Plug-in nightlight
  • Belly bandit
  • Baby Outfits: Hats, mittens, comfy/warm outfits with legs for car seat
  • My going home outfit- Yoga pants, nursing cami, flip flops, hoodie

For Home Recovery:
  • Nursing bras
  • Nursing pads/soothers
  • Tucks pads
  • Heavy pads, incontinence pads, or adult diapers
  • Stool softener
  • Detachable shower head
  • Mild body soap
  • Spray pain reliever
  • Padsicles
  • Perineal irrigation bottle (and all other goodies from the hospital)
Thanks to all my mom friends and these sites: E Tells Tales, Little Baby Garvin, and Dear Baby for helping me start my list.

Ok moms, what did I leave off and what on this list is not needed?  

Monday, August 6, 2012

An Amateur's Guide to Refinishing Furniture

I am a self-professed amateur when it comes to refinishing furniture, but when I share my projects I always have people tell me about an awesome piece they have been dying to refinish but just don't know where to get started.  So this post is for you friends.  This is definitely not the only way or even the expert way to refinish furniture, but this is what has worked for me.  Please read the labels to make sure the product I recommend will work for your project.

Step 1: Clean your wood (or brass, laminate, metal, etc.)
  • To clean, I use a microfiber cloth and mineral spirits. Also make sure you have a good pair of gloves and a respirator mask when handling cleaners, strippers, paints, and sealers.

Step 2: Get to stripping (or sanding or scuff sanding)
The next step is to make sure you have a surface that will adhere to the paint.
  • For metal projects (like my brass chandelier or towel basket), I scuff sand using steel wool. Scuff sand is when you lightly rub or scratch the surface, so it is no longer super shiny and smooth.
  • For wood projects that I don't want to strip or sand completely (like my stained bedroom dresser from Homegoods), I scuff sand and then use a product called Glidden Grey Gripper (see step 3).
  • For wood projects with lots of curves or intricate carvings or with multiple layers of paint (especially if it is oil-based like the yellow, now grey nursery dresser), I use a spray on paint stripper.  Beware when using the spray strippers, prepare to shell out some dough.  I always seem to need more than I purchase.  I've used a few brands, and they have all worked, so I don't have one I particularly recommend.
  • For wood and laminate projects with straight lines (or to clean up after stripping), I use this handy dandy orbital sander that came in one of those Costco tool kits.  Make sure to get the correct grit for your project (it says the grit # on each package--I use "extra fine" for scuff sanding and "coarse" for paint removal).  I scuff sand laminate projects and usually start with coarse grit sand paper for solid wood projects. I just love this thing!

Step 3: Prime your project
  • I prime a project because it seals-in any stains, provides an even surface for paint to adhere to (especially important when painting laminate and metal), helps my paint go on more even, and allows me to use less paint on each project.
  • I have used both Kilz primer and Zinsser primer, and they have both worked great.  Some people swear by either of those two (or another brand), but I usually just purchase the one that is available at the hardware store since I bounce around between Lowes, Home Depot, Osh, and Ace.  For hard to reach projects or laminate or metal, I use the spray can primer.  For larger projects, I use the can primer.

  • For projects that I scuff sand and do not want to strip or sand (like my bedroom dresser), I use a primer called Glidden Grey Gripper.  This sealer is great to paint on high gloss surfaces that have one or two coats of paint.  I just scuff sand with a low grit sand paper and then paint the Gripper on with a brush. I would not recommend using only this for projects with multiple layers of paint or that have uneven surfaces (those need some sanding or stripping before priming).

Step 4: Paint as directed

  • Read the labels on your paint cans, and paint the recommended number of coats and WAIT the recommended amount of time before coats.  Also to avoid peeling and sticky coats, do not paint in high humidity (recommended temp is usually on the can).  This is the hardest step because it is so easy to want to get your project done that waiting hours to a day between coats is a pain, but you will regret it if you rush and your project is a sticky mess.
  • Also if using latex paint from a can (opposed to spray paint), don't skimp on the brushes.  Buy several high quality brushes that are straight and angled in the sizes needed to get into those grooves for full coverage.

Step 5: Seal your project
  • After waiting the recommended drying time for your last coat of paint, make sure to seal your project to protect against water rings, scratches, little hands, etc.
  • My favorite sealer is Varathane WATER-BASED Interior Polyurethane.  As mentioned in my Refinishing Furniture post, I prefer the water-based to the oil-based because the oil-based tint yellowed some of my lighter projects and one brand even left a sticky residue.  From now on I stick to water-based sealers.  Water-based also dries faster, so that is a bonus for anxious crafters like myself.  Oil-based sealers are recommended for outdoor furniture, but I still use water-based on my outdoor projects because I can't stand the yellow tint--that's just me.
  • I have yet to use Polycrylic, but I have read blogs that recommend the water-based Polycrylic to seal as well.
  • Do spray light coats and spray as many as is suggested since a good seal will length the life of your project.

Step 6: Come back to this site and post a link to your project, and add any products or recommendations that would benefit other amateur crafters.  Thanks for taking the time to read my lil of luck!

Friday, August 3, 2012

The First Decade

While I still plan on posting a how-to for refinishing furniture, I thought I'd postpone it to celebrate our 10 years of marriage. Before we were a couple, Mason and I could not stand each other, and I am still amazed that I ever felt anything less than pure adoration for this man. These have been the best years of my life and in 10 weeks we get to truly celebrate what it means to be a family when lil miss Lamb arrives. Here's a glimpse back at our first 10 years (enjoy watching Mason shrink and me grow):

Year 1: LightStream 2003, Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia

 Year 2: LightStream 2004, Caves near Oberon, Australia

Year 3: LightStream 2005, Caves near Oberon, Australia

Year 4: LightStream 2006, Florianopolis, Brazil

Year 5: Maui, Hawaii

Year 6: Seattle, Washington

Year 7: Monterey Bay, California

Year 8: Big Island, Hawaii

Year 9: Cambria, California (with Piper and Atticus)

Year 10: San Francisco, California

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Refinished Furniture

Refinishing furniture is magic.  I wish I had learned about this sooner, but thanks to many Pinterest tutorials and my fabulous friend Yadira, I realized that this was something that even a full-time teacher could get done in her spare time.  I got started on this refinishing furniture kick over a year ago; as a result, I have found a new love for thrift stores and Habitat's Restore. This will be a longer post since I will include what I have refinished to date, and I just started this blog. I will list the paint colors at the end.  My next post will be a step-by-step amateur's guide to refinishing furniture. 

The first piece I refinished was our console table, which I actually purchased new a few years ago from JcPenney's Home Store, but the french country finish just didn't gel with our modern living room.  Here's the before and after:

The second piece I refinished was another new piece but only because I could not find what I was looking for at any thrift store.  This dresser was from Home Goods and is now in our master bedroom:

I then decided to try my hand at refinishing laminate nightstands (another Home Goods find)--I also drilled holes in the back behind those doors, so we can charge our devices at night:

This chandelier was found at Habitat for Humanity's Restore, and the mirror was a Home Goods find:

Here are a couple of pieces I upcycled for our master bath.  For the jewelry holder, I found a cabinet door at Restore (about $3), and the knobs are from World Market.  For the curtain holder, I purchased a $.25 (yes, 25-cent!) piece of wood from Restore and some small white hooks from Lowes:

For our guest bath, I refinished a thrift store frame and shelf.  I also painted that towel basket from TJ Maxx that was originally a brushed metal :

When we found out that we would be expecting a little one in October, we began to slowly transform our office into the nursery.  One piece we decided to keep from the office was the bookshelf, but it was all black and too dark for what I had planned, so to lighten it up I painted the back gray (paint left over from console table I refinished last year).

This nightstand for the nursery was a $12 thrift store find.  It is solid wood and was covered in dust (hello, respirator mask and mineral spirits).  This Krylon Coral Isle paint color is not locally available, so I had to order it online, but it was so worth it.

My most recent and favorite piece to date is our baby girl's dresser/changing table.  I told all of my close friends and family members what I was looking for, and my aunt sent me the picture below of this hideous yellow dresser with oh so much potential.  My mother-in-law helped me pick it up and for $53 and a few days of labor, this dresser became exactly what I envisioned for lil miss.

I love the sides too:
The knobs from Prettyware actually cost more than the dresser, but they are hand-painted with filigree backs and add so much charm. 

Primers used:
1. Kilz Original Interior Oil-Based spray (for laminate, brass chandelier, small pieces) and non-spray versions (for larger pieces).

 2.Glidden Gripper in grey for the green dresser

Paint Colors Used:
1. Console table and back of bookshelf: Valspar latex paint in Storm Gray (Lowes)
2. Master Bedroom Dresser: Valspar latex paint in Army (Lowes)
3. Master Bedroom Laminate Nightstands: Valspar spray paint Golden Maize (Lowes)
4. Master Bedroom Chandelier and Mirror: Valspar spray paint New Avocado (Lowes)
5. Bathroom jewelry holder, curtain rod, frame, and shelf: Rustoleum Heirloom White spray paint (Amazon and Ace Hardware)
6. Nursery Nighstand: Krylon Coral Isle spray paint
7. Nursery Dresser: Rustoleum Stone Gray spray paint and Krylon Dove White spray paint (Ace Hardware)

1. Varathane WATER-BASED Interior Polyurethane sealer.  The oil-based has a yellow tint that changed the colors of my white spray paint and dries much slower, so unless the piece is going outside, I would recommend sticking to the water-based sealer.  I have tried others, but Varathane water-based hasn't been sticky or left a tint like some others I have used. (Home Depot)

I hope you are having a wonderful project-filled summer. I'd love to see links to some of your refinished masterpieces!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Nursery Decor

I am not a fan of pink. I was obsessed with pink growing up, and so this must be a case of overexposure, and I am sure that our daughter will be obsessed with pink as well.  Until the point where she actually bats those eyelashes and looks into my eyes pleading for pink and princess decor, I decided to decorate the nursery in colors and objects that we would love. So the colors are peach, coral, aqua, gray, black, white, and gold.  I was inspired by this nursery on lay baby lay, but I wanted to fill the room with things that we love (planes, guitars, typewriters, books, etc.).  We are still waiting on the crib bedding and recliner that are back-ordered, family photos to be printed, more frames for bookshelf, and goodies from the baby showers that will take place next month.  Here's a sneak peek of the unfinished nursery for lil miss Lamb:

1. Refinished/Upcycled nightstand $12 thrift store find, painted in Krylon Coral Isle. Jenny Lind crib ordered from Babies R Us. Yes, I know the crib is by the window and I promise those mini-blind cords will be tightly wrapped up at least 8-feet above the floor.  Oh and the pillows are just in there until the recliner arrives.
2. The husband sketched these pics of us for the cover of our wedding invitation 10 years ago, and the custom print was based off of the song our parents and grandparents walked down to during our wedding (print ordered from LilyGene).
3. This wicker chandelier was a $5 rubbage sale find, painted in Rustoleum Stone Gray.
4&7. Plane mobiles for girls are NOT easy to come by, so I had to hand paint this baby. I ordered the mobile frame from Amazon and plane and cloud wooden cutouts from different vendors online.
5. My favorite piece so far which will warrant another post (you need to see the hideous yellow dresser before) was a $53 thrift store find that my aunt found and my mother-in-law helped me pick up since I am not supposed to be doing those things by myself anymore. Dresser knobs are from Prettyware.
6. The frames were purchased from thrift stores, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Joann's (love those 50% coupons), and the prints were purchased from the following Etsy vendors: Artful Musician, Paper Llamas, j2studiosphotography, Stories Divinations, WildWildernessPhotos, and le petite elefant.
7. See #4
8. The bookshelf was completely black, but I painted the back in Valspar Latex Storm Gray.


When I became pregnant I pictured moments of hormonal rage that would only be satisfied when my husband went to the store for some pickles and ice cream.  Thankfully, the hormonal rage never set in, but the first 9 weeks I did have 24-hour sickness (no morning only sickness for me).  Once that subsided, I must confess I have sent my husband on plenty of I-can't-function-without______cravings based runs to the store. All of these "foods" were ones that I enjoyed when I was younger, so there haven't been any strange food cravings.  Although, I hadn't eaten McDonalds since the film Super Size Me, so that breakfast run was a shocker and Poptarts now taste like flour to me (but they were all I wanted to eat for a few months).  Here are a few of my past and present (and rather unhealthy) prego addictions:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pregnancy Announcement #2

Pregnancy Announcement--How I told them

It's not easy finding a creative way to announce to the world that you are going to be helping populate the planet.  I wanted to find a unique yet not super personal way to share the news (no pictures of my uterus--please).  After waiting the longest 13 weeks of our lives, this is what we decided on:

For the future grandparents, we made them photo books of the ultrasound pics, a pic of the due date onesie, and pics of the dogs with the onesie.

For our friends, family, former students, and nearest and dearest acquaintances on Facebook, I posted a pic of the due date onesie with the caption "Do you know what this means?" 

 The husband posted, "Looks like we're adding another pup to our pack" with this picture:
Announced on April 9, 2012
Click HERE for onesie tutorial

Pregnancy Announcement #1

Pregnancy Announcement--How I told him

During the last week of January 2012 I found out that we will be adding our first human addition to the Lamb household, and this is how I let the husband know that he will soon also be known as daddy.
  • I purchased a soft stuffed monkey from Baby Gap
  • Put a homemade card at the bottom of the bag
  • The cover said "This just in..."
  • The first page of the card showed our 2 1/2 year old beagle Atticus with one positive test
  • The last page of the card showed our 1 1/2 year old rescue pup Piper with another positive test

At first he thought I just bought him a cute stuffed animal (which I have never done before), but then upon reading the card a second time, he said, "Is this for real?" We then hugged and discussed if we thought it would be a boy or a girl (I wasn't sure and he thought a girl) and bounced around baby names.  That is the moment that all the baby planning began.