Sunday, February 27, 2011

Marin's Big Girl Room!

Big Girl Marin has been sleeping in her new big girl bed for about a month now. I didn't intend for her to start sleeping in it so soon, but after Jason emptied and painted the room, we decided to set up her new bed to get it out of the basement where it was waiting to be assembled. Once it was assembled, it looked so bare, so I decided to put the bedding on and Marin immediately said, "I sleep! I sleep! My bed!" So, we decided to try it out for a night. We packed her in with pillows surrounding her and expected her to get up 45 times and be back in the crib the next night. Not so. She's been sleeping there through the night ever since. She loves that bed and her new room.

I will admit, her naps are shorter by about an hour since she's been in the big girl bed, and she does wake up earlier and come into our room. However, the earliest she usually wakes up is at 7:00am, so we really can't complain.

So, about the room: I searched and searched and can't believe I don't have a "before" picture from when this room was our guest bedroom, except this one after we had already moved all of the furniture to the middle of the room and taken all of the window treatments down. Guess it just wasn't that exciting. I do have before pictures from when we first moved in, and had to take down the dreaded wall paper in this room. Katy and I labored on that for an entire day, until we were literally pealing pieces off in the dark. We estimated the wallpaper that was in this room to have been over 50 years old, and it came off in pieces about an inch long at a time, if we were lucky. Jake tried to help, but he HATED this with a passion, and quickly was dubbed "errand boy" running back and forth fetching us supplies that we were sure would work to get bigger pieces off. The walls needed major repair, so even when we moved in, they looked really rough. I did take a picture of our first overnight guests, Ross and Emilie, sleeping on an air mattress in the room the first weekend we moved in.

When it was time to convert it to Marin's room, I was overjoyed to finally give her a true "girls room". Since she'd been sleeping in the nursery, and we didn't know what her gender would be, everything was yellow and green and unisex. Marin is definitely girly, so the shoe definitely fits in her new pink room. I decided that I wanted to add a chair rail to the room, paint stripes in two colors of pink on the top, and paint a solid bold pink on the bottom. After I found the bedding, I matched the colors and wiggled my magic wand and told Jason to get to work. :) After Marin's big bold horizontal stripes in her old nursery in Chicago, Jason wasn't exactly thrilled at the prospect of painting the stripes again, but lucky for me, he obliged and even admitted that he thinks it's a perfect little girls room.

I knew that I wanted to have built in floating bookshelves in the already recessed space in the wall to display Marin's treasures and some books and things. But the dimensions of the space were too big for the pre-made shelves I had seen. So, Jason the worker bee came to the rescue again, and made them himself, so that they would fit exactly right.

We moved Marin's bookshelf that my dad made for her when she was born, in from the nursery and repurposed an old side table as a bedside table. We are awaiting a dresser, and a few final touches, like pictures on the walls, but otherwise it's basically complete. Marin gave some of her books that are really babyish to the baby and now points those out in the nursery as "baby's books".

Marin's new room is fun and bright and I'm sure some day she'll be dying for a more grown up sophisticated look, but for today, I'm seizing her girly, sweet personality and love of pink... and holding on for dear life.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Momsume

Position Available: Mom

Applicant must be willing to give over her body, mind and self to the 24/7 care of client. Client may or may not have full understanding of language, and most likely will not listen 90% of the time. Applicant will need to be okay with repeating herself multiple times in considerate fashion. Client does not have consistent control of bowels, and diapering will need to be changed multiple times throughout the day and in locations away from the home. Applicant needs to be available around the clock when called, including the middle of the night and early morning, and a timely response and course of action is expected. Applicant is responsible for feeding client three well-balanced meals a day as well as providing healthy snacks. Applicant is also responsible for bathing the client as well as tending to the clients laundry needs. Applicant is responsible for cleaning up after the client. Applicant will be responsible for driving the client wherever they need to be, and in addition, the client will accompany the applicant on all of their personal errands. Applicant is responsible for the stimulation and nurturing of the client's mind and creativity, including signing the client up for educational and entertaining classes, most of which applicant will need to attend with the client. Applicant is responsible for teaching the client basic language acquisition, as well as numbers, colors, shapes, toilet training, respect,manners and right from wrong. Applicant is responsible for setting up and accompanying client to all social gatherings and doctors appointments. In many instances, applicant will be solely responsible for keeping the client alive.

Days off are minimal. Sick Days are completely out of the question. Any time off requires that the applicant pay a temporary replacement, or find a willing relative to watch client. Pay is zero dollars a year.* No bonus structure.* Most days applicant will go totally unappreciated.
*In most cases, the applicant will be giving up a paying job to take on these responsibilities, so applicant needs to prepare to actually lose money.

Though no official qualification are required to apply, extreme patience is incredibly helpful.

Would you apply for that job? I would. I have. And while I won't pretend to be the only person holding that job title, "mom" is absolutely the hardest job I have ever had. But it's also the best job that I have ever had. It's the best job that I get to have. I love it. And it's because of the rewards. Although unlike a traditional job, they aren't monetary rewards, however, they are the very best kind of rewards when it comes in the form of a "thank you mommy" or a hug, or a happy smile from your child. And to see your child succeed and learn and grow because of what you have been a part of, because of what you have fostered, makes being a mom, the very, very best gift in the world.

As you know, I'm about to take on a slightly different role: Mom to two children. Am I up for the task? (Or should I say, am I up for the multitasking?) I began to wonder about this. But the thing about being a mom is, the leaning curve is very quick. It's a baptism by fire, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, learn as you go type of gig. If you don't know the answer now, you'll know it in about three seconds, because when you're a mom, you have no choice but to go with your gut, put yourself out there and try what you think is right. The best part is, if it turns out you were wrong, you almost always have a second chance.

Still, I wondered, if I were required to apply to the position of mom, what would my resume look like? What would I list as relative "previous experience"? How would my skill sets be measured? What skill sets would even be necessary? What I came up with was The Momsume. Mine looks something like this:

Johanna M. Patterson
Mom (February 2009-Present)
Desire to be a mom: (July 1978-Present)

Fluently trilingual in: English, Toddler, and Mickey Mouse

Qualifications/Special Skills:
- Shop for the family groceries with toddler in tow without tears (from toddler or myself).
- Kiss a boo- boo (real or dramatized) and "make it all better" instantly. Occasional help from princess band-aids are required, and I carry them on my person at all times.
- Can turn a funeral into a playdate.
- Applaud artistic abilities of child as if they are the next Michelangelo, even when the end result presented is one mono-colored scribble.
- Am able to dance and sing on command: including in public.
- Proficient in many favorite nursery rhymes and songs, and do not tire of singing them 40 times in a row as directed.
- Can pack, unpack, repack and travel by car, air or sea with minimal meltdowns.
- Can make a trip to Kids Play World fun for children and parents.
- Successfully convince even unruly toddler to brush teeth, eat veggies, sit on potty or clean up, by making it into a song.
- Am able to shower, blog, dry hair, apply makeup, cook, clean and urinate while entertaining a toddler.
- Expert in varying character voices for books, stuffed animals, dollies or princesses
- Can pack a diaper bag in 30 seconds flat
- Can change a crib sheet without cursing (admittedly, an acquired skill that took too much practice)
- Can shave my legs without showering
- Can pack a nutritional lunch child will actually eat at school with other children as a distraction
- Excellent and respectful guest at toddler tea parties attended by Mickey Mouse, Elmo and Dora the Explorer.
- Firm but loving when it comes to staying in bed at nap and bedtime
- Creator of "Monster Mommy", a laugh provoking, crowd pleasing game whereby Monster Mommy tickles children and smothers them in kisses.
- Expert in Peek-a-Boo
- Acknowledged for conducting bath time "business" (hair and body washing) before bath time playtime.
- Solely record all childhood memories in the form of blog, baby book, picture taking and video capturing
- Do not scream when addressed in the following manner: "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!.........."
- Am able to keep a running tally of all beloved toys and their made up names (ex: "Boo-Boo" is a beloved gray donkey given to her by grandma after a bad fall. "Pinky" is an essential pink bear that, if lost, will stop all further activity (specifically bedtime) in its tracks. "Raffie" is a yellow and pink giraffe that plays music and must be pulled at naptime but not necessarily bedtime.)
- Additionally, able to decipher the difference between the "Via" (Olivia) book and the "New Via" (most recently purchased Olivia) book, as well as distinguish what book is being requested when toddler says, "Fancy", "Pinkcious", "Llini", "Baby Llama", "Two Zoo", "Fish", "Piggy Book" or "Dinesaur".

Awards and Honors:
- Daily hugs and kisses
- "Thank you Mommy" at mealtime
- Awarded "Best Mommy in The Household" - Mother's Day, May 2009, 2010
- Routinely requested by child at bedtime

So, do I have the job? I am sure we all deserve our title as Mommy. I have the pleasure of knowing some of the best moms in the business. It's the hardest job we always wanted.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bathroom Redo

When we bought this house we had a list a mile long of things to change/update/knock down/redo. We did major work before we moved in about 3 1/2 months after we closed, and then made a list another mile long of things to upgrade/add on/redo while we live here. That list is very much in progress.

One of the things that made me absolutely cookoo bonkers crazy after we moved in was this dumb full bathroom off of our family room. We had knocked out half of the wall before we moved in, but because that was the only shower in our home at the time, we left the bathroom a full bath as was and added its conversion to a powder room to the "someday" list. In the meantime, we ended up converting the clawfoot bathtub upstairs into a shower/tub combo and hardly ever used the ugly downstairs full bath. So it just sat there and ate away at me each. and every. day. I am overjoyed to tell you that "someday" has come. Can you hear the angels singing in the heavens?

When I say that bathroom was ugly, I am not holding back. Here she is in all her before glory:

And here was the original wall before we knocked out the farthest left portion up to the terribly ugly awful bathroom before we moved in:

I can't say that it's been easy sheasy. My wonderfully handy husband did almost all of the work himself. We hired the floors done. My dad built the vanity custom for us after I saw a picture and wanted it tweaked a bit. And my dad and Jason hung the wallpaper. The entire project took a long time, but I'm thrilled with the results (and that the dust is gone... for now). Here is what the wall looked like when we started a few months ago:
Notice that this blasted wall sticks out so dang far that you have to walk around the couch to get through the bathroom door. Yeah, it was bad. Have I mentioned that I hated it?

But have no fear! The end is here! The bathroom is done! Here is the bathroom after:

Is it a beaut, Audrey? (Sorry, favorite movie of all times.)
Here is what the wall looks like now that it's all pushed back:

Don't worry the fun doesn't stop there. This isn't going to be this wall's final story. Next project is the addition of a fireplace and built in bookshelves surrounding. Stand by for updates on that in the next few months.

This was a really messy project. And it was one of those that had to get way worse before it got better. Here are some in progress pictures:

Who doesn't love a toilet in their dining room?

Let's take one last look at the before and after:

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Parties

By now you know that we Pattersons like a party. This includes our now two year old daughter, who seems to be completely thrilled by the reality of a house packed to the gills with all her favorite people. She's a chip off the old block. Add to the mix- candy, juice boxes, birthday cake, 'locklate (chocolate) milk, a little dancing and 60 people singing her name, and you have the recipe for one happy little lady.

This is exactly what Marin got at her birthday party last Saturday. We kept telling her who was coming and her little mouth would drop open and she would visibly gasp with excitement as we told her each person. It was if she was thinking, "All in one place?! At the same time?!!!" She had a ball. I almost never saw her at the party, because she was just running from person to person playing, saying hello and excitedly proclaiming, "I two!" holding up her pointer fingers from each hand, next to each other.

We packed the house with pink 2's hanging everywhere as well as balloons and lots of food and drinks. The basement playroom was a kids haven of toys and video games and dance party music. Only the bravest and the strongest parents ventured down there. I myself, only spent a total of about 15 minutes there the entire party. It was controlled chaos, and I don't think the kids would have wanted it any other way. The rest of the adults filled the main floor rooms, and I enjoyed traveling from room to room trying to catch a conversation with everyone.

When it was time to cute the cake, we all gathered in the dining room and Marin glowed as everyone sang to her. Then she blew out her two little candles and dug right into her cake in the traditional Marin fashion- frosting first. Quickly after she finished, she was off to continue playing.

Everyone brought presents, and Marin was thrilled to open these after the party settled down well into the evening, already way past her bedtime. It's amazing how quickly she has learned to open presents. She thanked each person that was there as she opened them, asked to immediately play with every toy, and wanted to try on every outfit right then and there. Grandma and Grandpa gave her her first bike, and she yelled "bike! bike!" as she unwrapped it. I think that may have taken the prize. She finally fell asleep around 10:30, after deep dish pizza delivery for the dozen or so family members who remained. Marin slept soundly, and I'm sure dreamt of a day this spring when she will be riding her bike outside with all of her friends; hopefully catching Jason or me in a weak moment, to provide her with more sugar.

The next afternoon my parents hosted a birthday party for Marin at their house for my extended family, since we kept the birthday party list to immediate family and friends. It was a much smaller group than the day before, but Marin was just as thrilled to see Gigi, Great Grandpa and Great Uncle John. Major bonus: Grandma and Grandpa had a Mickey Mouse cake for Marin, an Elmo balloon, a new plate and silverware like the 'dults, and an Elmo milk cup! Her two year old dream come true. After a delicious sit down dinner and Mickey cake, Marin opened more presents. When she opened Gigi and Great Grandpa's card, she pulled out a check inside and proclaimed, "Oooo! Money!!" I promise I didn't teach her this. That night we stayed up late again watching the Superbowl and snacking on yummy snacks at Grandma and Grandpa's.

Tuesday the 8th was her actual birthday. I started recounting "the day you were born" stories to her the night before as I tucked her in. I told her it was her birthday the next day, and by now, this prompted a spontaneous song and dance Marin rendition of "Happy Birthday to Me!" On Tuesday morning, Marin helped me make homemade "cancakes" (pancakes) after she woke up, instructing, "I cook, Mommy. I cook helping Mommy" as she stirred. We set the table for three and all ate breakfast together. Marin's pancake was shaped like Mickey Mouse, and the strawberries on the side had a candle to blow out. Jason and I sang Happy Birthday and she happily blew out her candle and dug into her pancakes with gusto. Shortly after breakfast, we left for school, pajama day. Marin wore new pj's with cupcake buttons since she was the birthday girl. I made sugar cookies with M's on them in pink frosting, and packaged them in baggies tied with a pink bow so she could pass them out to each of the classmates and teachers. Her teachers told me that when they sang Happy Birthday to her, she danced from side to side and beamed a great big smile. No surprise there. Marin fielded calls from friends and relatives all day to wish her a Happy Birthday. She told each of them, "Tank you. Bye. I'll too." (Thank you. Bye. I love you.) Later that evening, Grandma and Grandpa came over for dinner and Daddy made homemade pizza and breadsticks. We had 'locklate and pink (strawberry) ice cream for dessert and again sang happy birthday and blew out two last candles. Marin had a few more cards and presents, the highlight again being from Grandma and Grandpa: Paige, an adorable dolly with red hair. Marin slept with her that night saying "night night Paige."

At times like this I can't help but feel incredibly blessed, not only for Marin but for our family and friends. They truly are the backbone of our lives. I honestly believe that we have the very best family and friends on the planet. Life would not be anywhere near the party, if it weren't for them to celebrate with. To Marin, to family, to friends, to turning two, to life!