Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Heading Home

So many parts about Maggie's birth still need to be blogged!  
I've started writing her birth story, and there is so much to include. 
And then as each day passes at home I want to blog about our new normal. 
I'll get around to it all eventually. For now I'm just soaking up every second with this tiny person.

We're settling in well at home and loving every second of this new life with her. 
The dogs are happy and adjusting well. 
She's eating like a champ and gaining back some of the weight she lost at the hospital.
We're getting (some) sleep.
Friends are spoiling us with food.
I think it's safe to say that we're both the happiest we've ever been because of this little girl.

Anyway....I want to share some pictures of us on Sunday as we prepared to leave the hospital and head home. Being wheeled out of the hospital holding my sweet girl was one of my favorite moments from the past week. I've never felt more proud.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Our little girl is HERE!

Here I was Thursday morning at 8am, 40 weeks pregnant!

About 10 hours later, after a a very interesting labor, this little lady made her debut!

Margaret "Maggie" Grace
8 pounds 4 ounces, 20.5 inches long
Has very long legs and a little bit of brown hair.
We're pretty smitten by her!

We got home from the hospital today and we're just so SO happy! 
I will share more about her birth later, but couldn't resist sharing a few pictures now. 
Thanks for all the tweets, texts, and messages over the past couple of days!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

due date

Today is October 25, my due date.

And there's a very good chance I will be having this baby today since we're hoping to get induced this morning.

A baby. Like a real little human! I can barely wrap my mind around that. I know I've been feeling her wiggle around in there since May, and we got the positive test back in February, but still. I can't believe that we're just hours away from meeting this little one.

I am slightly terrified, but mostly really excited. Excited to meet this baby; excited to be done with pregnancy; excited to start this next chapter; excited to see my husband become a father; excited to bring her home and start our family of five (yes, the dogs are included!).

I am definitely nervous about the birth. I'm worried about bringing her home to two dogs who won't really know what's going on and turning their little worlds upside down. And of course I'm afraid that I won't know what to do with this little person that we've been blessed with.

A dear friend texted me the exact words I needed to hear last night when I was on my 15th tissue of the night, crying my eyes out. She said, " It's overwhelming, to say the least. It's like saying goodbye to one part of your life and opening the door to the most amazing thing you'll ever experience."  I think she said it best. I'm so afraid of leaving this old part of me behind. It's who I've been for 28 years. I don't know anything else. But I have to remind myself that my fears are just that, fears. There is something amazing waiting for me...for us...on the other side of those fears.

I have a pretty good feeling that we're going to be a-okay. I know we're in good hands and He is watching over us and this baby He's blessed us with. And we're also surrounded by family and friends who will love and help us at this time.

Hopefully next time I'm updating this blog, I'll be able to tell you that our baby is here!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Shutterfly Giveaway Winner + More Chances to Win!

Congrats to Jen from Life, Love, and Puppy Paws for winning my Shutterfly giveaway. I will be giving your info to Shutterfly and they'll be in touch with your coupon code!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Additionally, if you still want to win a $50 credit to Shutterfly, feel free to visit these two blogs who are also offering the same giveaway!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Menu Monday

*Fingers crossed* this will probably be the last menu monday post for awhile. Hopefully next Monday we'll be snuggling with our baby girl!

Skillet Butternut Squash Shells & Pear, Goat Cheese, and Arugula Salad

Mmmmmmmmm! This meal was SO perfect for fall and so yummy! Big thanks to Kate for sharing this recipe on her blog. It was a big winner. A little more work then some meals, but well worth it.

We love a good potato soup, but I didn't have a recipe for one in the crock pot. Glad I have this one now! It was excellent. We topped with bacon, cheese, and green onions. Might add some chopped spinach in the future.

Other meals...I was a slacker with the camera this week....
Both of these are regulars in our meal rotations:

Alright, that's it! Share your own menus by linking up below!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

39 Weeks....we're so close!

How Far Along: 39 Weeks 

Size of Baby: A small watermelon. Also? She's the size a baby. 

Total Weight Gain: 35 pounds.

Gender: Girl

Movement: I've had fun trying to grab her feet this week. And push them out of my ribs where they're hanging out 95% of the time.

Sleep: Still okay. I'm really achey from sleeping on my sides and not moving much in my sleep, but for the most part, I am sleeping. And waking up 2-3 times a night to use the bathroom.

Maternity Clothes: I love my maternity tunics. I will likely keep wearing them with leggings long after the baby arrives. Regular tunics don't cover my behind well, but the maternity ones are the perfect length!

Signs of Labor/SymptomsPretty much the same as last week's list...achey, crampy, swollen feet and hands, heartburn....this is why I hate when people say "Enjoy these last few days!" - when you're this close to the end, it's sort of hard to enjoy it. I know that they mean well, but it's really the last thing I want to hear.

Bellybutton: Mostly flat, pops out a teeny bit sometimes

Cravings: Well...I did buy a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts on the way home from church this morning. But there's a good chance non-pregnant Rachel would have done the same thing!

What I miss: Wearing something on my feet other than flip flops

Best Moments from the Past Week

*Lots of fun medical talk....I want to have this documented for me. Feel free to skip over if you don't want to hear about my cervix...
  • Saw the doctor Wednesday (38 weeks, 6 days). He stripped my membranes again....but it didn't seem to help. I was 80% effaced and 3cm at this point. He is seeing me again on Wednesday of this week, and Thursday is my due date (Oct 25). He is on call on Thursday and he said he doesn't have a problem inducing me on that day. He said he usually likes to wait till 41 weeks to induce, but because my cervix is so "favorable," he's okay doing it at 40 weeks. So although we didn't set it in stone, I'm really hoping Thursday will be the latest! Hopefully next week at this time she will be here!
  • Other great moments: An awesome hike with J and the puppies yesterday. We've walked so much this week and yesterday's hike was so beautiful. The fall weather has been awesome. I will say, I'm glad I'm super pregnant in nice weather. Not too hot or cold. It's perfect!
  • I loved Pitch Perfect when I went on a movie date by myself on Friday! It'll probably be a long time before I go to see a movie alone again! I'm glad I went!

What I Am Looking Forward To: Meeting our baby! I can't even put into words the excitement I feel when I think about meeting her!!

And just for fun....I felt like I was so big 10 weeks ago. 
It's amazing how much more growing I still had left to do!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

still growing strong...

I know it's been a few days since I last I blogged, and I wanted to assure everyone that I am still very much pregnant! Our baby girl hasn't made her big debut yet.

Hopefully not too much longer. Today is one week 'til the due date.
We'll see if she (and I) make it that far.

Here's what I've been doing to kill time as we wait for the big arrival:
  • Watching a million episodes of Parenthood. I've always watched this show on and off, but I've never watched it straight through, and there have been so many episodes that I've missed. I am absolutely loving it. New favorite show on television!!
  • Attended another La Leche League meeting. Again, I found it to be so helpful, not just for advice on feeding babies, but listening to all the questions moms had and the conversations revolving around those questions was so helpful. The women in the group I've attended are all so supportive of one another. I was hesitant to go before the birth of our baby, but I'm really glad I've gone.
  • Breakfast and lunch dates with friends. I warn them every time that I may cancel at the last minute and be in the hospital instead, but that has yet to happen!
  • Buying more baby clothes. I can't help it!
  • Eating Tums like it's my job. 
  • Walking a mile or two each night with J and the puppies. My poor feet hate it, but I know it's good for me and I try to convince myself that it's helping move things along.
  • Making cookies and cream pie. I just used the recipe on the back of the Nabsico Oreo crust that I picked up on Monday, and mmmmmmm! It was heavenly. I'm honestly considering making another one this weekend. Because gaining 35 pounds in 9 months just isn't enough. I want to pack on a few more before she gets here.
  • I am thinking about going on a movie date by myself tomorrow afternoon to see Pitch Perfect. Have you seen it?
And just for fun, J took this panorama shot of the nursery with his new iPhone from work....

Hope you're having a great Thursday!

Oh! One more thing....if you haven't already, 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Menu Monday

It's been a busy day. 
Sorry this is just getting posted!

Here are our delicious eats from the past week...

Marinated Beef Skewers with Grilled Veggies, Cous Cous, and Tzatziki

Spicy Drunken Noodles from the local Thai Place

No, this did not induce labor!

I know it's late, but if you wrote a Menu Monday post or you plan to do one, please link up! I love to see what you're cooking!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

38 Weeks

How Far Along: 38 Weeks

Size of Baby: According to The Bump, a pumpkin. How appropriate!

Total Weight Gain: 34 pounds.

Gender: A sweet baby girl!

Movement: Yes. High, low, feet and elbows and knees poking out everywhere....this little baby seems to be all over these days. 

Sleep: Not the greatest but not the worst. I find that when I do wake up at night, my belly just hurts on the top. I think the muscles in there are just so stretched and strained, and sleeping in one position for hours at a time just make it hurt.

Maternity Clothes: Yes. A hilarious question to even ask at this stage. And my poor feet are just huge and they ache. Even though it's gotten cooler out, I'm heavily relying on my flip flops.

Signs of Labor/Symptoms
  • Back and rib pain is still here
  • Heartburn and indigestion has gotten better
  • Feeling the baby move very, very low. 
  • Swollen and achey feet, hands, fingers. They hurt the most when I wake up in the morning.
  • Cramping and some contractions. Nothing is consistent or regular though.
Bellybutton: Mostly flat, pops out a teeny bit sometimes

Cravings: Nothing in particular. 

What I miss: Lots. Mostly just having my body back.

Best Moments from the Past Week
  • Saw the doctor Friday, I've progressed a little, but not much. He did strip my membranes, but unlike many of the success stories I've heard from others, I'm still pregnant. 
  • All the time I'm spending with J and the dogs. I know a lot of our time together will change soon.
What I Am Looking Forward To: Having a baby....maybe this will be the week!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Christmas time's a coming....(+$50 giveaway at the end!)

So I know we still have 2+ months until Christmas, but one of my favorite parts about Christmas is visiting my mailbox each day to check for Christmas cards. It's never too early to start thinking about this year's card! 

For the past 3 years, I have used Shutterfly to design our Christmas CardsThere are so many great companies out there who have offer personalized holiday cards, but I don't think I could ever go with another company. Shutterfly has the best prices, dozens and dozens of cute designs, and their website is so easy to navigate! They're also always running great deals and specials. I will be a Shutterfly user for life.

Here are our cards from the past 3 years....




This year Shutterfly has some adorable designs to choose from. Here are just a few that I love....

I love knowing that this year's card will include our baby girl. Makes me even more excited to put together a card! 

Shutterfly is offering one reader on my blog a $50 credit to be used on cards for this holiday season (not including tax or shipping, and it can't be combined with other offers). If you're interested in winning just check out the rafflecopter below and leave me a comment! Easy peasy!

Disclosure: I linked to Shutterfly in exchange for an online voucher; however, all thoughts and feelings above are my own! I love this company!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Tutorial: refinishing the dresser for the nursery

Thank you so much for your sweet comments on Tuesday's nursery post! I really cannot wait to have our baby girl at home and in the nursery! It was so fun putting it all together, but I think I'll enjoy it even more once we have a baby in it!

So now, onto my dresser finishing project!
Here's what took me and J many weeks of sweat (and maybe some tears from me) to finish:

If we're friends on instagram (@erchla), you definitely saw a lot of this in progress through out the summer. I shared a lot of pictures over there, and it was honestly a two month project. My in-laws were here at the beginning of July, and that's when they graciously brought us this dresser to use in our nursery. I worked on it when I could, but between the heat and rainy days this summer, I would go two weeks with no progress. We don't have a garage, so I could only work on it outside when it was nice enough to be out there. 

Before I go into all my step by step details, here are the three posts I used the most to help with this project. I had never refinished any furniture before this, so I heavily relied on the internet for help! I learned a lot in the process!

Here is the dresser before any work had been done.  You can tell that it was old, beat up, and in definite need of some TLC. I had removed two of the drawer pulls before the photos were taken, but that's it. If I remember correctly, I think my in-laws said they purchased this dresser, unfinished, in the late 70's/early 80's and stained it themselves. 

My first step was to sand the whole dresser. A lot of tutorials said this wasn't a necessary step, but my hope is that this dresser will be with our little girl for years to come. And knowing how children are, I wanted the paint to have the very best possible chance to adhere and stick to that dresser. Sanding the dresser helped rough it up some, allowing the primer to better stick.

After sanding....looking back I now realize I could have sanded less, but that's okay. 
Too much sanding didn't hurt.

The next step was to prime the dresser. I knew I wanted my dresser white, and from what I had read, without priming you risk the wood "bleeding" through the paint over time. Additionally, primer helps the paint better adhere to the furniture. We used this Zinnser Primer and Sealer with the gold label. And as a warning, it is an oil based primer. Being a newbie at this whole thing, I didn't realize what that meant as far as clean up goes and learned the hard way. Here's my advice for other newbies: If you're doing a project with oil based paint, be sure to have the appropriate tools to help you clean your brushes at the end or use cheap brushes you can just throw away at the end. If not, you'll end up in tears like me. Lesson learned.

Here's the dresser and the drawers after 2 coats of primer. J applied these 24 hours apart and then left them out to dry for about 24 more hours.

After a week or two of lots of rain, I was finally able to paint the dresser. I picked out a white paint from Lowe's (Valspar brand) and we got a quart of it in semi-gloss, per Young House Love's recommendation. I did two coats of paint, waiting about 24 hours in between each coat. I should also add that I had an angled brush that we picked up from Lowe's, again a recommendation from YHL, similar to this one. Using an angled brush helped tremendously.

You can't see much of a change in the pictures from the step of priming to painting since I painted the dresser a neutral white, but you could really see the difference in person. The paint made it much shinier and better covered the surface.

Now this next step was one that was much more work than I expected it to be, but I love how it turned out. I had seen on my friend Megen's blog her stenciled dining room walls and I loved how it turned out. I figured it wouldn't be too hard to stencil the top of our dresser. I ordered my stencil from Royal Design Studio. Here's the image from their website of the stencil I picked out.

I picked out a bright pink from Sherwin Williams and bought a sample of it for just a few dollars which was plenty of paint to stencil with. I also purchased these stencil brushes by Martha Stewart from Michael's. For those of you thinking of taking on a project like this...here are some tips and things I learned along the way:
  • Use VERY little paint. Too much and it bleeds under the stencil and your pattern starts to look gunky. You can always go back and add more paint. Lots of small coats are better than a thick coat of paint.
  • Move your brush away from the template, not toward it. If you paint toward it, you risk paint going under it, again making the design look gunky. 
  • If you get paint on the bottom side of the template, clean it off before moving on to a new section of the furniture.
  • I taped off the edges of the top of the dresser. This helped me define how far I wanted the pattern to "go" since the top edges of the dresser are rounded.
  • This will take you a LONG time. Stenciling the top of the dresser probably took me about three and half hours. My back was KILLING me by the end.

This picture is a more accurate idea of the color. It's definitely pink, not coral.

The very last step for the dresser itself was to seal the top. I didn't feel the need to put a sealant on the whole thing, but I knew the top would need it to protect the pattern we had stenciled on top. We used this water based polycrilic protective finish in a clear semi-gloss from Sherwin Williams. J applied three coats of it, waiting about 4 hours between each coat. 

Can you tell that our deck was where we did all the work? Our backyard is slightly sloped, so it was much easier to work here on a flat surface.

The last step for the dresser was to redo the drawer pulls. I thought about purchasing new pulls, but I knew that would get pricey since we needed ten of them. I soaked my pulls in a mixture of white vinegar and water for about 20 minutes, and then I scrubbed them with an old toothbrush and baking soda. This helped get years of "grime" and who knows what else off of the pulls. They still looked rough after this process, but you could definitely see a difference.

Now this next step is where I will tell you DON'T DO WHAT I DID!
We primed all of my pulls with this spray primer I picked up.
This stuff made all my pulls really gritty and gave them a sandy finish.
I was so frustrated and ending up having to sand each pull.
This added about an hour of extra work.

Once they were sanded, J sprayed them with grey spray paint by Krylon
This took a good three coats to get them fully covered. 

Once these were dry, we were done! It was time to put the dresser up in the room! This was on August 26, almost two months after we got the dresser. I'm telling y'all, this project was a labor of love!

But seriously...I won't lie. I'm so in love with the final product!

And just as a reminder, here's what we started with and what we finished with. Such a difference!

So there she is! We've joked about how if this baby were to come out a boy, I'd be happy to get rid of all the pink in the nursery and all the girly clothes and dresses, but NOT the top of this dresser. There's just no way I'm redoing it again. But hopefully, that won't be an issue!
 Now that I've successfully finished it, I'm sort of itching to redo another piece of furniture. However, the next piece will be done when I'm not pregnant. Having a belly in the way and avoiding toxic paint fumes (mainly the primer and spray paint, the regular paint was non-VOC) made it the whole project a little more difficult and tricky. 

Have you ever taken on a big furniture project like this?
Were you happy with the the final product?