Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Building a Baby Suite -- Day Six through Eight, or Wrapping it up...

The changes in the final few days of construction seemed as dramatic as the first. It was exciting to see things coming together, and to be able to get in to do some of the work myself. On day six of construction, the contractor applied the texture to the new walls. He did that on a Friday, which gave me the weekend to paint. I painted the walls on day seven. I used two gallons of mistint paint from Sherwin Williams (only $1.00/gallon), and blended them to get the shade Bub was after -- a sort of vintage blue. I'd love to go over the top and do a vintage surfer theme, but there really isn't wall space for themed items. His comforter is a simple blue and black stripe, and he has orange bins for his Ikea shelf, so instead of an official theme, I think we'll focus on blue and black with touches of orange throughout.

On day eight, all of the trim was installed, caulked and painted. James and I also began loading all of Bub's belongings into the room. He is beyond thrilled to have a new space, and everything he needs will fit nicely with just enough floor space to build some fantastic Lego creations. The contractor is planning one more work day, but that day will be used to clean up, install the door knob, and do any corrections we discover we need (none, so far). He hauled all of his tools out, so as far as I'm concerned, he's finished. It won't be long until we have our lives and our home back all to ourselves!

Day Six

Tenting for Texture

Applying Texture to the Walls

A Goggled Gracie Ready to Help

Bub Imagining His New Space

Day Seven

Ready to Paint!

A Beautiful Vintage Blue

Day Eight

Floor Trim

Door Framing

Loading in the Furniture

Desk and Gaming Cubby

Ikea Shelf Waiting to be Filled

Window Wall

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Building a Baby Suite -- Day Three through Five

Construction of the new room is still ongoing, but the change doesn't appear as dramatic from one day to the next. All the electric was installed and connected on day three. To save us some money, our contractor Wes ran electrical wire and installed all the outlets, switches and fixtures as part of our total construction quote, but he didn't tie in to any power lines. We hired a licensed electrician to come inspect all the work and make the final connection. I'm glad we did it that way because we discovered electricians are super expensive! For an hour of work, we paid the electrician 2/3 of what we paid for construction of the whole room, including materials and days of labor. Still, it was a good investment. We wanted to be certain the work was done correctly so it was safe, and so if there ever were an issue (say, a fire in that area), our insurance company wouldn't have anything to contest. On day four, the final pieces of drywall went up, and the room was taped and bedded. A second coat of mud went up in some areas on day five.

Though we've only had five days of someone actually working in our house, the gameroom has been a construction zone for nine days. I'm really, really ready for the whole process to be complete so I can get back to my regularly-scheduled busy life without having to consistently coordinate my schedule with someone else. Also, I'm super anxious to get to my part of the work! We've now decided to put Bub in the new space since he's the only kid not sharing a room, so my work will include painting all three kids rooms: priming and painting Bub's new room, priming and painting Bub's old room that will become the nursery, and putting a fresh coat of the same color on Gracie's wall. Lots to do -- ready to do it!

The Electrician is Here!

Tying in the Power

Wes the Contractor

Waiting on Mud to Dry

View Down the Long Wall + New Can Lights

View Towards the Window + New Can Lights

View from Gracie's Door

Looking Out

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Downhill to Forty

Today is my birthday, and as James so kindly pointed out this evening, I'm officially closer to forty than to thirty. (I'm thirty-five years and a few hours old.) My mom came over, and we had a simple family celebration with cake and ice-cream after dinner -- perfect for a very busy birthday week!

I love sitting at a table packed with my children. It makes me think years into the future when they're each married with children of their own, everyone packed around a holiday table. I don't want to wish away any of these days, but I'm honestly excited about those days too! I really do feel so very blessed...

The contractors were still upstairs working on the baby suite, so I sent up dinner plates along with dishes of cake and ice cream. I imagine they didn't know it was my birthday, and they probably think we always serve dessert at dinnertime -- they'll be sorely disappointed if they work late again.

Mom setting the cake ablaze

Me asking if the balloons are strategically placed
to hide the laundry on the couch.

Brystol asking me where the new toys are...
(We've been prepping her for her own birthday party in just two days.)

"What, no toys?!"

Fire Hazard

"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count.
It's the life in your years."

-- Abraham Lincoln

Building a Baby Suite -- Day Two

So much was accomplished on day two of construction! When the workers arrived this morning, the "room" was no more than a pile of supplies. By the time they left, it's a real room! There's still much to do, but the progress today is astonishing!

We discovered the little bumpout that made up the computer corner is hollow, so I debated having that wall totally demoed. When we opened it up a bit, though, we could see there were some spare studs in a place that wouldn't allow a total removal of the wall. Instead, I think what we've decided is to have the contractor open up about four feet of the wall from floor to ceiling and install some open built-in shelving. The more time I spend in the little space -- particularly now that the walls are up -- the more I can imagine moving all of the craft stuff in there, and letting the babies have the bigger room. I may have to purge some material and supplies to make it work, but there are absolutely some things I could easily get rid of. I have time to decide, but either way, I'm so glad we made the decision to move forward with construction. It's a perfect solution for us!

Building a Baby Suite -- Day Two

Progress at Lunchtime --
Extra Measurements Taken and Long Wall Installation

Mid-Afternoon Progress --
Door Framing Complete, Door Installed, and Sheetrock Begun

Evening Progress --
90% of Sheetrock Installed, Outlet Boxes Installed
(View from the Stairwell)

(View from Gracie's Bedroom)

Checking Out the New Space

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Building a Baby Suite -- Day One

Adding children to our family this round has been a whirlwind, and I feel like every action and decision has taken me three times as long to complete or make. Sometimes life and all these little blessings wear me out to the point that I'd rather just lie down than do or think about anything. Thank goodness I have a dear friend who is exactly three weeks more pregnant than me because when she feels motivated to nest or prepare for her new little girl, I feel compelled to prepare for mine. Miss Motivated has already had her nursery painted, purchased furniture and bedding, had a baby shower, and is working to fill baby's dresser and bookshelves. All of her busyness inspired me to call in a couple of contractors to get quotes on building a new baby room.

When Elleigh first came to live with us, and as we pondered our pregnancy, I initially said I wasn't going to build a baby suite. As this particular floor plan had a fifth bedroom option, we have space upstairs for one, but we want to sell this house and move closer to church and friends next year, so I didn't really want to invest the time and money to renovate (unless it was necessary to sell). I contemplated giving up the hobby room -- which James insisted upon -- but as I sat sewing on one side of the room while three kids did crafts on the other side of the room, I decided I wasn't prepared to relinquish my personal space. At that point, James and I began considering a couple of renovation options -- enclosing a third living space we rarely use, or enclosing a rarely-used section of the game room. In the end, we opted to enclose the unused game room space. The installation will be faster and easier, and the upstairs renovation is the more affordable option.

The new enclosure will technically be an "office" since it's on the smaller side, and since we're not installing a closet. For now, though, we'll use the small space to house Elleigh and the new baby. First of all, I don't feel like resorting, reorganizing, and transferring all the stuff from the hobby room into a new space. Secondly, it's not unusual for several of us to be using the hobby room at one time, so we do need more space to spread out supplies than will be available in the new room. There's plenty of space in the new room for two cribs and two dressers, and babies really don't need any more than that. When we get closer to selling, I'll sort the hobby room to pack up some rarely used supplies, then I'll swap the rooms. For now, though, I'm quite happy with the choice we've made, and I can't wait for it to all come together.

Building a Baby Suite -- Day One

Relocating the Play Kitchen and Toy Shelf
(This is Brystol's cheese face. When the camera comes out, she stops to say "cheese," even if the picture is not of her.)

The Soon-To-Be Baby Suite

Big kids standing where walls will soon be...
(Bub is right where the bedroom door will be located.)

Contractors hauling in supplies
(Note the broken window I discovered when I raised the blinds for the photo.
Clearly, I should have said "Don't throw stuff in the house" a million and ONE times.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

DIY Girl -- Elleigh at Four Months

At barely four months old, independent Elleigh has taken to holding her own bottle from time to time. She still rolls back-to-front and back again, only now she's also planking, lifting her stick-straight body up onto her arms and toes. Her core strength is incredible! She sleeps on her tummy with her knees pulled under her, booty in the air. A couple of times, she's worked to pull her knees up underneath while awake and kind of wiggled in a direction, though not on purpose I'm sure. Still, it won't be long before her movements are intentional in that regard and she'll be fully mobile instead of just accidentally ending up in places. She chatters and coos at both people and toys, and loves to be right in the middle of the action -- a good thing for baby number four!

Monday, July 11, 2011

To Paint Like a Child

"It took me four years to paint like Raphael,
but a lifetime to paint like a child."

-- Pablo Picasso

Friday, June 24, 2011

First Time at Summer Camp

For the first time, Bub and Gracie went away to church camp. Since we're not a sleep-away family in general, they were both excited and full of trepidation before spending time away from home. We prepared by talking about all the fun things that they'd be doing, and by letting them know they could call us anytime they felt especially scared. We got one silly letter from Bub, and Gracie called home twice, but in the end, there were no significant issues with fear or homesickness. Gracie roomed with a good friend from church, and Bub is friends with everyone he runs into. Both kids had compassionate counselors, and they each had so much fun, they hardly missed us at all.

Ready to Go!

Bub, age 10

Gracie, age 9

Gracie's Handmade Camp Hat
(she prepared herself for camp by making crafts in advance)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mischief Makers

"Grandparents are there to help the child
get into mischief they haven't thought of yet."

-- Gene Perret

Nanny with Elleigh, three months old

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Now the day is done,
Now the shepherd sun
Drives his white flocks from the sky;
Now the flowers rest
On their mother's breast,
Hushed by her low lullaby.

Now the glowworms glance,
Now the fireflies dance,
Under fern-boughs green and high;
And the western breeze
To the forest trees
Chants a tuneful lullaby.

Now 'mid shadows deep
Falls blessed sleep,
Like dew from the summer sky;
And the whole earth dreams,
In the moon's soft beams,
While night breathes a lullaby.

Now, birdlings, rest,
In your wind-rocked nest,
Unscared by the owl's shrill cry;
For with folded wings
Little Brier swings,
And singeth your lullaby.

-- Louisa May Alcott

Friday, June 10, 2011

Elleigh at Three Months

At three months old, Elleigh is such a content little baby. She coos and gurgles at everyone, but she loves Dad the best. She's such a happy baby, she reminds me of Buddy the Elf -- "I just like to smile. Smiling's my favorite." She's falling into a very nice feeding schedule and has already begun sleeping though the night. She's so strong and has been rolling back-to-front and back again for some time. In fact, we put her on her back in the crib, but find her sleeping best when she rolls to her tummy with her little feet crossed at the ankle. She prefers this position and returns to it, even after we carefully roll her to her back again. It honestly is such a blessing that Elleigh is pretty easy and very predicable. We'd love her even if she were more of a challenge, but having a tiny one with such a go-with-the-flow attitude really does make things so nice.

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