Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Making Shelves Safe and Pretty Since 2012

Last week, I posed a question as to whether or not I should add a patterned contact paper to the back of my bookshelves.

No one responded except Melody, who pretty much said don't do it unless I am going to paint them white.

Well, guess what.

I did it anyway.  And I love it!

What I really love, even more than the patterned brown paper that gives my wood - otherwise boring - bookshelves some pizzazz, is the fact that papering the back of the shelves forced me to clean them out, organize, and somewhat style them. My hands are slightly tied though - since we live in a tiny tiny place, these shelves serve many purposes and are the only book storage we have in this house.

And while I was able to take a pretty picture or two, let's be honest, the reality is the shelves look more like this 99% of the time - toy central.  I'm okay with it though - at least most of the toys have a home.

I should also mention a really important (and easy) safety feature.  Putting these shelves in the main living area of our house, and knowing how rickety they were, attaching them to the wall was a total  necessity.  And very easy to do, too.  After all, if you were an adorable one year old named Levi, wouldn't you think this view might be an invitation to go climbing?

I used four two inch L brackets.  I didn't even screw them into studs, I used self drilling drywall screw anchors and screws, of course.  These dudes are seriously my best friend.  They hold SO MUCH weight. I'm pretty sure I could safely climb the shelves without them coming out of the wall. The only downside is that when you remove them, you have a 1/2" hold in the wall (hello, putty!).


But, better safe than sorry, right?

I have about a roll and a half of the Macbeth shelf liner left - I am dreaming up DIY projects and craft ideas as we speak.  Any suggestions?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Bed Bug

Last night, Herb and Levi tagged along for the night shift of hanging out with Baby Lawrence and Aunt Cali.   I told Herb he didn't have to, but he's gotten quite big-brother-protector-ish ever since Cali announced her pregnancy, which is pretty adorable in itself.

As if taking a cue from his newborn cousin, Levi decided that sleeping at night, during bed time, was not cool and not fun.  In fact, 1 week old LJ totally kicked Levi's 19 month old butt when it came to bedtime last night.

After screaming bloody murder in his pack n play for 20 minutes, he finally passed out.  When I checked on him, I realized that, holy cow, he is only about 6 inches from touch each end of the pack n play with his head and his toes.  No wonder he didn't want to go to sleep - he was cramped!

Just around the time the grown ups were getting ready to go to bed (and baby LJ was sleeping), Levi woke up in a cold sweat, screaming, hiccuping, and hating life.  After we finally got him calmed down (and he amazingly and thankfully didn't wake the baby), I tried to put him back in his pack n play, which he was having none of.  Instead, I laid him in the queen size bed (which is against a wall on one side), and he cozied right up to the pillow, put his hands behind his head, and acted like he owned the joint.

I left the room, but insisted that Herb go to bed immediately to make sure Levi didn't fall out (he is able to crawl out of our bed and couches without falling, but who knows what's up when you're half asleep).  I ended up sleeping on the couch because I didn't want to wake the boys in the big boy bed, but Herb said Levi slept contently all night long.

Levi isn't acting like he is going to crawl out of his crib just yet, so I think we have a little bit more time until we need to make the bed transition.  But as for traveling goes, I think our pack n play days are over.

I just keep thinking about this little squirt who liked laying this way in the pack n play:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I Missed Out and I'm Over It

When Levi came home, several people remarked about how lucky we were to have missed the "worst of it."  The worst of it being the sleepless nights, and the mixing up of night and day that most babies do.  At the time, I didn't really want to believe that was the case, in fact, I felt sorry for myself for missing out on Levi's first 7 weeks.  After Levi slept from 8pm to 4am straight on his first night, I just figured that all new moms got 8 hours of sleep at a time from the start.

{Levi after a great night of sleep}

That is so not the case. Right?

A few short weeks later, when my neice, Joelle, entered the world, I realized that even the best of babies cost their mamas lots of sleep at the beginning.

That being said, last night I spent several wonderful hours with my new nephew, who is now a whooping five days old.  For sure the smallest and youngest baby I've ever snuggled for longer than 10 minutes.  I spent the night with Cali and baby Lawrence to help with the transition of Daddy going back to work last night.
{Lawrence, Jen Ledden Photography}
I am REALLY glad I got to see first hand what having a brand new baby is like.  I am grateful that Cali trusts me enough to care for her precious little cargo.  I am excited to go back another night or two this week to lend a hand to the new mommy.

But overall, I am selfishly thankful that I personally missed out on that part.  Is that bad?

Don't get me wrong, if God chooses to bless us with an infant someday, I will joyfully rock him or her all night, but at this point in my life, I have no sadness that I missed out on that part of Levi's development.

And it gives me a whole new incredible respect for every other mom in the world - especially the breastfeeding ones.

So - go do something nice for the mom of a newborn today.  She deserves it!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Red Letter Day

I started out calling today Elmo Day, then Lawrence's Birthday, but now I think I will just call it a Red Letter Day.  Everything about today was perfect - from the weather to the little boy who breathed his first breath.  Here's the story of our Pie Day.

Levi has been loving Elmo for a few weeks now.  The timing of my sister being on the tour of Sesame Street Live could not have been better.  

Here's some proof of Levi's love - hugging his Elmo and sleeping with a Bert pillowcase (from my childhood!). 

We piled into the car this morning at 7:30 and headed up to State College.  We met my mom and stepdad, who had my niece in tow.  

Along the way we also picked up my cousin Kendra.  It was a full car - but we were also so excited to see Wendi - who is the lead in Elmo's Super Heroes!!  

Wendi did a fantastic job.  

Every time I see her perform I get a little weepy - I am so proud of this little girl from Fivepointville who is really doing it! 

All the muppet monster characters have recorded voices/songs, but Wendi is the human character and does everything live.   

Knowing someone famous sure has some perks.  Our seats were AMAZING.  In fact, you can tell how close we were from this picture - Kendra is taking our picture from right in front of the stage - we were in the fourth row!  Wendi also hooked Levi and Joelle up with those cute Elmo shirts, Elmo balloons, and Sesame Street soccer balls.

Levi sat in a total trance for the entire first act of the show.  He would not break his stare from the stage.  For the second act, he decided to stand on the floor in front of me, but again, not a peep from him.  He loved it.

After the two and a half hour drive home from State College, we made a quick pit stop at home and then high tailed it to the York Hospital. Herb's sister, Cali, had been in labor for about 18 hours, and we knew at any moment our very first nephew would be making his appearance.

But on this red letter day, time was on our side.  As we walked into the waiting room, we received a text saying, "Lawrence is here!!"  Soon we got to go back and hold a baby who was just 30 minutes old!

Lawrence Jackson was born on 3/14/12 at 5:40pm.  He is a tiny 5 lbs and 9 oz, and 18.5 inches long.  He was born with eyes open and bright - I just couldn't believe how alert this little guy was!  And so beautiful.  Cali did a good job. 

When Levi walked into the room (whoops - we didn't know that was illegal), he said, "It's a baby!"  (Sounds like "esss uh bebe.")

Herb said it was a day of sisters.  From celebrating new life to celebrating life accomplishments, I am so glad we had today to celebrate our amazing little sisters - Wendi and Cali.  

What's the last Red Letter Day you've had?  Did you ever have to read a book in fifth grade called Charlie's Red Letter Day?  Or am I making that up?

Monday, March 12, 2012

I Love the Number 12: March

My little series about the number 12 is really making the year seem to go faster.  To recap - twelve has always been my favorite number, so I am celebrating 2012 by writing about 12 reasons I love the number 12.  January 12 marked the beginning of Herb and Michelle, while February 12 celebrated my late friend Isaac.

(Side note - am I weird for having a favorite number?  Please tell me I'm not alone on this.)

Today is March 12, also known as 3/12, which segues to a little secret - whenever I am playing a guessing game where I have to pick a number above 100, I always pick 312.  That started when I was a tween and won a radio contest by guessing 312 (who knows what the question was).

My Radio Contest Prize Winnings.  Even better - it was a cassette tape, not CD.

So when we had about one week to find a new place to move last fall, I knew this place was the one as soon as I saw the street address...

Actually, thinking back on it, every place Herb and I have lived together has had a 12 in the number...

First we lived at 182 (okay, that's a stretch, there is an 8 in the middle), and then there was 125.

And now, we find ourselves at 312.

312 is not the smallest place we've lived, but it's the most cramped.  Moving from a semi-detatched five bedroom, 1800 square foot townhouse to a two bedroom row home has been less than desirable.  We have the worlds smallest kitchen and no dining room, so therefore, can only seat 3 people, so no dinner guests for us.  We once had a living room, music room, play room, craft room, and office, and now all of those things are one room.  But amidst the tiny quarters, we've been blessed in so many ways.

We are saving lots of money.  (Or should I say not living above our means anymore?)  Our rent is cheaper than our previous mortgage.  Rather than each of us  driving 50-60 round trip miles every day to work, we now both are employed one mile from home.

We have central air (!) and two toilets (!!) for the first time, ever.  The frosting on the cake is the new patio our landlord had built shortly after we moved in - can't wait to break it in this summer.

Wanted: Patio Furniture!!
And even though it's a tiny little cave-esque apartment, I'm pretty sure if you average home sizes around the world, we are probably above average (I heard recently if you make $55,000/year, you are in the richest 5% of the world).

At times, I do find myself somewhat embarrassed of our minuscule pad.  But then I remember that by living smaller and more simply, we are walking in obedience in more ways than one.

Who wants to come visit us at 3-1-2?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pinterest Challenge :: Book Storage

Yesterday, I posted about my new diaper bag, part of the Pinterest Challenge.  Good news - I have 2 more projects coming.  They've been complete for a while now, but between the new job and having a one year old, I just hadn't blogged about them yet.

So, stop number two on the Pinterest Challenge train brings us to these awesome Ikea Hack book shelves.

Unfortunately, our closest Ikea is about 2 hours away.  When we visited Herb's family in Pittsburgh for Christmas, we visited the Ikea there and I picked up three Bekvam spice racks for $4 a piece.  I really would have liked to buy five, but I could only find three in stock, which is a good thing, because Levi's room doesn't really allow for more.

I cut out a, b, c (two of each) in black vinyl on my Cricut using the blocky Impact font.  If you've never cut vinyl, check out this post.  I placed the letter on the sides of the assembled shelves and went to town with black spray paint.  After the shelves had dried, I peeled off the vinyl and gave the shelves a good roughing up with sand paper.

The next step almost killed me.  The shelves hang by two srews on your wall.  For whatever reason, I had to drill no less that 6 sets of holes to get the "c" shelf hanging correctly.  "A" and "B" were no problem at all.  This is part of the reason that I haven't posted these shelves in the two months that they've been done.  "C" has been the bane of my existence.

I am relieved to report that the are all living happily on Levi's wall right inside the door.  And "C" is getting what he deserves now, too.  "C" is the only shelf Levi can reach, and therefore, he is almost always holding no books.  In fact, yesterday there was a water bottle shoved onto the "C" shelf.  Take that!

I definitely snuck these "after" photos while Levi napped.  Shhh!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pintrest Challenge :: Nautical Diaper Bag

When Sherry and Katie announced this morning that they were hosting the Winter Pinterest challenge, I started counting down the minutes to Levi's nap.  You see, last night I got started on a new diaper bag for myself, and today I was hoping to finish it.  With the challenge now chomping at my heels, you better believe I got 'er done!

My Pinterest inspiration was this Stolkhom diaper bag, sold here.

Now, don't get me wrong, $68 is not a bad price for a diaper bag, especially one I love like this, but it is REALLY not in our budget right now.  Maybe someday...

But for now, what I DID have to work with was:

A mustard colored pair of J.Crew cords
{purchased for $0.50 at Jubilee Ministries}

A yard of navy and white striped home decor fabric 
{purchased for $2.99 at Goodville Fabric Outlet }

Some free time

(If you live in the area, you MUST visit Goodville Fabric Outlet sometime.  Read about here on this little tour.)

My Finished Product
I didn't use a pattern for my purse, but I based it loosely on a Tohoku Tote I made last summer - if you're looking for a pattern, check out this one.)  Otherwise, these are my general directions, if you want to fudge it like me.

1. Wash your fabric!!  I forget this sometimes.

2. Cut the general shape for the outside of the purse (2 pieces) and a matching set for the lining of the purse.

3.  Iron fusible interfacing to the two pieces of the outside layer (my navy section).

4.  If you want to have a layer at the top, like my yellow strip, sew that on the outside of the purse.  Make a matching layer on the pieces of the inside of the purse.

5. Sew the pockets on the outside layer (great for phones, keys, bottles, etc).  I put a pocket on each side.

6. Sew the two pieces of the outside of the purse together.

7.  Make the corners of the bottom of the bag lay flat by sewing on a diagonal.  DO this for inside and outside purse layers.  For more clear instructions, refer to the Tohoku Tote tutorial.

7. Sew the pieces of the inside of the purse together. Remember the "nice side of the fabric" should face the inside of the purse.

8. Pin the outside and inside of the purse together.

9. Figure out what you're going to do about a strap.  I have a removable navy strap on my other diaper bag that I decided would be just write for this purse.  I pinned two corduroy loops between the layers of the purse before I sewed.

10.  Sew two straight lines around the purse, connecting the outside layer, inside layer, and strap loops.

11.  Take gratuitous photos and post it on your blog.

And if all that doesn't work, call me.  It would be fun to hang out and make a purse together.  I will bring my sewing machine if you don't have one.

What have you pinned today?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

He's Got Your Eyes [Yes, this again]

Wendi, my sister, and I were shopping at my happy place [Target] with  Levi recently.  As we checked out at separate registers, Wendi finished first, and joined Levi and I as we checked out.

Target lady, speaking to Wendi:  Oh my, now you must be his mommy!
Wendi: Hahaha, no, no...
Me:  No, I am, actually [ know, the one who was pushing the cart, keeping him occupied, and paying for the baby paraphernalia]
Target lady, totally stunned:  Oh.... [I think she wanted to say, "Are you sure?"]...well then you [Wendi] must be related to him [Levi].
Wendi: Yes, I am.  I am his aunt.
Target lady:  Yes, yes.  I knew it!  Boy does he have your eyes!!

Wendi with Levi in his younger days.
I love how everyone likes to guess where Levi got his beautiful big brown eyes when they see him with blue eyed Herb or my green eyed self.  In case you missed it, a few weeks ago, someone who didn't know Levi was adopted couldn't get over how much Levi had Herb's eyes.

(Side note, did you know that even if Herb and I could biologically have a child, genetics say it would be impossible for said child to have brown eyes?).

Blue eyes, Brown eyes, Green eyes
Also, I'm glad Wendi got to experience an awkward adoption situation.  Of course, when the conversation with the Target lady transpired we just gave each other a look and had a quick mind-to-mind conversation in which we decided not to correct the cashier.  It was a fun moment.

And finally, I must take back my prediction from over a year ago when I was convinced Levi's eyes were turning green.  They are most certainly brown and gorgeous!!

Plus, I know where those eyes really come from...

Levi and Jen

Oh, PS, one more funny Target story.  I was there earlier this week, without Wendi.  I had been in the store for so long (like an hour and a half), that when a friend who lives less than 10 minutes from me said "Hey, Michelle!", my first response was, "Hey, Leslie, what are you doing in West York?"  Sadly, Leslie had to remind me that she and I were shopping in Lititz (near where we both live), not West York, which would be an hour away (where I used to live).  How embarrassing.  Ever been in Target so long you forgot what count you were in?