Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Our Big Family Decision

Sorry no DIY or refurb project in this post, but I thought I would let you in on some news we've recently made for our family.

First of all, I hope you are all having a fantastic summer and are staying cool in all this heat!  We are doing well here in Dallas and little Collins is adjusting perfectly to life on the outside.  Brooks is one of the most caring big brothers I have ever seen and loves bringing “Ca-Ca” (aka. Collins) his blanket, pacifiers and holding his foot if he’s crying (it’s adorable).
I love watching their future forever friendship blossom and it’s with a heavy heart and mind, we have made a decision about their future, and mine.   I have decided to put my cell phone down, my e-mails away, and focus on them 100%.    Chris and I have discussed it and think that me transitioning into a full-time mom is what is best for our family right now.   
I have absolutely LOVED my time being a full-time toy sales rep and am so thankful to my boss to giving me an opportunity to have a career with as much leeway has I’ve had.  I've been able to travel all around the country (CA, LA, WI, NV, PA, and NYC just to name a few) and even the world (Hong Kong, China 2x!) and will always love looking back on those opprotunities
ate chicken feet in China....
spent many many winters in NYC for trade shows and even got to work with Mark Cuban on a couple of his Shark Tank lines
I have been in my industry for 6 years and am VERY sad about leaving, but excited about the future ahead.  As I’m sure all of you are aware, babies turn into toddlers, who turn into big kids, who turn into teenagers, way too fast.   
In addition to being MUCH more available to my kiddos, it also opens up some nap time hours to get back into blogging and DIY!  We have some SERIOUS things lined up for our little house and can't wait to share the news with you in the coming weeks.
So there you have it!  I am one HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY mama and am beyond blessed to also have such a great supporting husband to help make this decision.

I'll try my best to be back before the end of the week to share our big, upcoming news, but trust me, its a doozy... Any guesses?!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Dual Tone Blue Dresser

So here's a quick little project that I was able to do after the little ones went to sleep at night.

I got this awesomely-cool looking dresser, (yes, dresser, not a filing cabinet) off a Facebook yard sale group for $40.
Solid wood and in really good shape, I thought it would be a great match for B's room and the Texas flag desk I just made (as remembered here)

I still had a lot of the "Napoleon Blue" Annie Sloan chalk paint left, so after removing the drawers, I started to paint the outside shell.
Have I mentioned how much I love Annie Sloan chalk paint and not having to prime a piece?  Because I do.  I LOVE it... It makes me all happy inside, not having to spend the extra time or money pre-painting something is a good reason why I keep coming back to it, even when its a bit more expensive ($42 for a pint)
 After one coat, we were looking pretty good.
 When the second coat finished, I had debated painting the drawers, or at least spray painting the handles, however I decided to put the drawers back in and see how they looked unchanged.
Actually, I really like it.  A lot.  It kinda gives it a bit more of an industrial look and keeps it looking a little more unrefined even with the fresh paint.
Plus, the wood grain is pretty and I like how the handles don't distract from the wood.
 Here's the before and after as a quick reference.
Sadly however, I clued into the fact that this dresser is 60" tall... Brooks is big for an almost-2-year-old, but not THAT big, and it wouldn't really didn't have another spot for it in our tiny little house.

I ended up selling it on Craigslist for $250, so $210 profit plus less than an hour to paint (20 min each coat) isn't too bad of a turn around.  Money for more projects?  I think so...


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Deep in the Heart of Texas... kids desk redo!

In addition to Brooks getting a new little brother, I found a small little kids desk on a Facebook yard sale page that I thought would be just perfect for our new "big" boy. 
 He really needed a space to color and have a him-sized area, other than his highchair.
 The top was in pretty rough shape with all sorts of marker and crayon stains, but it was still a nicely made, solid-wood desk, so naturally, I thought of painting it.
 I was thinking maybe thick, navy and white rugby stripes, but decided to try Pinterest to see if anything tickled my fancy.

Sadly, nothing was really speaking to me, until I saw this:
"America,... **ck yay!" - Team America: World Police (2004)

 I showed the idea to Chris, who liked it, but then had a better idea.  "Why not do a Texas flag?".

Yea, why not? We already have a superiority complex living in Dallas, let's deck out our son's desk to make it official?! - (said the Arizona/Oklahoma/Connecticut transplant)
I kid you not, this is a "thing" here...
So the next day, during nap time, I started by giving everything 2 solid coats of primer (those marker stains were stubborn).
I was unsure how I was going to do the star, since I needed it to be 6" and wasn't sure if I should stencil something or find a sticker, or what... I ended up getting REALLY lucky with a Google search and after cutting it out and painting the seat "Pure White" by Annie Sloan, I drew my around my stencil.
To-Da, indeed.
I then spent the next 4 hours 20 minutes carefully edging my star with the finest small brush I had... honestly, it turned out pretty good.
Next was tackling the layout for different color portions of the flag.  Sad to say, this involved some math (measuring the desk, determining the ratios of the flag, etc).  So, naturally, it took up the bulk of my time....
However, once I started to get everything painted ("Primer Red" and "Napoleon Blue", both by Annie Sloan) it really started to come together.
All that was left was to wax...
PS - after I took this picture, I determined that the Annie Sloan brushes are not for me... They were too streaky and uneven so I went back to using my fine, "great" quality brush for painting and a paper towel for waxing... MUCH better finish!
After all was said and done, I was in love.
 We put it in Brooks' room between the closets, and it looks like it was just MEANT for the space.

 So much, yes.
 And Brooks?  Well, he is a big fan.
Its crazy to think he is almost 2!! And enough of a "big boy" to get his own desk... Love that little man.

So what do you think?  Here's the before and after.
It feels good to be back "project"ing again!!  I would love to hear your thoughts on this piece!


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My all natural water birth

I know it has been a while since I’ve been on (ok, a LONG while) but I thought what better way to come back then tell you all about how our #2 came into the world!
People had a lot of questions and comments about my all natural labor and delivery with Brooks (as remembered here), and honestly, I love going back and rereading it.  It doesn’t seem like that long ago (not even 2 years!) but I’m glad I wrote everything down in as much detail as I did and was more than happy to answer any and all questions you all had on having an all-natural drug-free birth.

Even though the first couple weeks post-partum with Brooks were a bit rough on me (I tore pretty bad and getting around was tough), I knew I wanted to do another all-natural birth since it gave me the greatest gift of all; a healthy, happy, alert, little boy.  So when I found out I was pregnant again, Chris and I decided to go with the Dallas Women’s Birthing Center again since it was the best compromise for both of us (I wouldn’t have minded looking into a home birth and Chris, being a little more cautious, liked the safety of having all our “what-ifs” covered at a hospital… with the birthing center being right down the road from Baylor Medical, it’s the best of both worlds)
their website
I feel super lucky having another wonderful, uneventful pregnancy, except for some blood pressure issues at the end that I was able to manage (more on that in a different post) and as my June 16th due date crept closer, I was full of mixed emotions.  I had Brooks 16 days early at 37 weeks 5 days, so after that milestone came and went with #2 I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulder.  However, since Brooks was induced with a Foley Bulb catheter and I was told “You are having the baby this weekend”, I never got to go through the experience of my body randomly going into labor.  I felt fine, healthy, and was going great, but couldn’t help but think of the “Hollywood” labors of me randomly having my water break while at the grocery store or at the water park with Brooks.  Luckily enough, that didn’t happen.

The night of June 13th, I started to have some VERY slight cramping and felt a little uncomfortable around my hips.  I sat on my birthing ball (aka. 72” giant work out ball) and it felt AMAZING. I sat like that while Chris and I watched a little TV and headed to bed around 11p.

Around 4:30a I woke up with some more cramping.  They started to come in waves so I began to time them on my phone, but nothing was consistent.  10 min, 7 min, 12 min, 15 min, 6 min… I waited it out as long as I could before 5:30a hit and I knew I wasn’t going to get anymore sleep.  I woke up, brushed my teeth, and threw on a bit of water-proof mascara (hey, why not!).

Brooks started to wake up around 6:30ish (VERY early for him) so I changed him and brought him into our master since Chris was stirring too.  I told him that he should probably call his parents to come down and get Brooks since I’m thinking “something” may happen today…. To which Chris responded “Oh yea?” and high-fived me.  #married

I also got sick once, but nothing near as bad as the 4-5x I got sick when I was having Brooks, so I really wasn’t concerned at all.  I called our doula around 9ish to fill her in, but she didn’t seem too worried since my contractions were still pretty irregular.  She told me to lie on my side with a pillow between my legs and to call her back if the contractions were too intense.  Less than 5 minutes later, I was asleep… and “napped” for an additional hour and a half.  Yes, I napped during labor.  Funny especially how my mom told me when she was in labor with me, she fell asleep at the hospital and all of a sudden woke up to push and I was there 30 seconds later; no epidural, no nothing… barely enough time for a nurse to run in and catch me. (side note: my mom is freak and I believe her telling me that story gave me SUPER unrealistic expectations of what birth was going to be like… she’s a lucky-lucky woman, that mother of mine).

Once I woke up around 11a, my initial contractions were even further apart (almost 20 min) and Chris and I decided to go for a walk to start and get some progression going.    However, it started raining and our doula suggested going and walking around the mall.
Labor selfie taken right before we left for the mall... Chris said he was feeling great...
It was in the car ride there that it hit me how different this labor was from having Brooks.  I was totally calm, joking and talking with Chris, not panicked, and in such a good mood I don’t think anyone would believe me that I was in labor.   It was like I was almost “enjoying” it.  Weird, yes, but not a bad experience or a very painful one with how far things had gone.  Surprised, I continued to run with it and let it all play out.

Chris and I did 4 or 5 laps around the mall and with Chris’s fitbit keeping track of our steps, walked just over 3 miles.  All the while, I was able to walk (and talk) through the contractions which were now starting to speed up around the 7 minute mark.

We headed home and met our doula (her name is Nikki, I guess I should stop referring to her as “our doula”) at the house where we walked around the block a few times sans rain.

Contractions were definitely coming quicker, but only lasting between 25-35 seconds, sometimes shorter.  It wasn’t until we got back home and she had me try one of her laboring positions did stuff really get going.  She had me sitting facing the opposite way on the toilet, and when a contraction hit, lean back and brace myself in Chris’s hands who was sitting behind me.  Dear sweet mother of GOD. That worked.  I lasted through a few of those contractions before we decided to go into the birthing center to get checked, just in case. (We had called them before we started walking around the neighborhood to give them a heads up I was in labor).

Another fun random side note, our birthing center has 3 certified nurse midwives and I LOVE two of them.  I did 95% of my prenatal appointments with them, and honestly, was terrified of the third midwife, especially since she was the one to give me the news with Brooks that he was going to have to come a little early.  In the one appointment I DID have with her for #2, she kept telling me my blood pressure was high and that I would probably have to deliver the baby early at 34 weeks (umm YIKES! And NO WAY!)  I was able to keep my BP in check and managed to dodge her in appointments for the rest of my pregnancy (since my BP was always higher with her in the room), but definitely knew I did NOT want her there delivering #2.  Low and behold, guess who was in the rotation when I went into labor?  Yep.  God definitely has a sense of humor.  Even when she picked up the phone, I explained to her that I felt more comfortable with the other two midwives to which her response was “well, I’m on duty, so its me.”… hooray…

The car ride to the birthing center wasn’t nearly as carefree as the ride to the mall and had 3 VERY intense contractions in the 10 minute drive there.  There were even several times I had to tell Chris to “drive faster” and cursed the city of Dallas for having potholes on every.single.street.

When we arrived at the birthing center, I was checked and was a 5 out of 10.  Well on my way.  I labored around the birthing center for about 30 minutes and even tried to “nap” again through a contraction but Chris and Nikki wouldn’t let me (haters!).  When the midwife asked me if I wanted to get in the tub, I honestly could not undress any faster.
best, most relaxed feeling ever
Getting in the water was quite possibly the most relaxing feeling in my entire life.  I honestly could feel my entire body drop and let go.  Heaven.  The contractions came but were very manageable with breathing and squeezing Chris’s hand. 
When the midwife told me I could start pushing because she could see the baby coming, I honestly didn’t believe her.  I didn’t feel the intense pain or need to scream like I did with having Brooks.  I started to push, but mostly just to get the midwife to stop bothering me. (side note:  the midwife actually ended up being great and I didnt have any complaints or issues during labor.  Everything was wonderful)

Less than 5 minutes and a couple of manly grunts later, Chris was scooping our son out of the water and placing him on my chest.  (PICTURE WARNING!  Nothing too graphic but these were taken seconds after birth)
Collins King Yanniello was born at 6:20pm on June 14th, 2015.
We both sat there in the water as we waited for the cord to stop pulsing. As I looked down at him, I was shocked to see that I was staring at what EASILY could have been Brooks’ twin.  He looked SO much like Brooks did at birth and even remember saying “oh, its like Brooks 2.0”… yea, nothing like being the 2nd child and automatically cast under your big brothers shadow… sorry about that buddy.
I moved to the bed to deliver the placenta (eww, I know, gross, sorry but it’s a thing) and was shocked at how great I felt.  Little man started nursing like a champ and got lots of good skin to skin in right away.  But the best thing ever? No tearing!!! No stitches, no nothing! I honestly almost started clapping I was so excited!

Little man weighed in at 7lbs 12oz and 20” long… nearly a pound and a half heavier than Brooks was and an inch longer.

About an hour later, Chris’s parents came over and brought Brooks to meet his new brother.  He was smitten from the start and I’m proud to report he is still a VERY doting big brother.
A little less than 2 hours after he was born, Chris and I were ready to head home. (HA! I know, right?!)  We had to talk to the nurse about all the newborn details but after we got the speal, all 3 of us were home by 10pm (Brooks was having a sleep over at his grandparents).

All in all, it was the best birthing experience I’ve had so far (only counting against Brooks’ but hey).  If you are planning to do a natural child birth, DEAR GOD I recommend going for the tub.  I understand that it’s not for everyone, and everyone is free to birth the way they want to, but for me, it was so relaxing, calming, peaceful, and just plain wonderful.

I now have two awesome little guys that I’m obsessed with, and so lucky and blessed to be their mama.
Life is pretty awesome and I thank God for such a wonderful birthing experience.

I would love to answer any and all questions you may have!  I really am an open book so feel free to truly ask me anything!

P.S. – now that I am “back”, there will be more updates and furniture flips coming soon!  Thanks for sticking with me!

Friday, July 25, 2014

DIY Sensory Board

So with Brooks crawling around and wanting to get into everything (read: EVE-RY-THING) he is getting more and more curious about how things work.  From opening and closing his closet door, to banging two plastic cups together, he's finally getting "it".

That's why I thought making him a sensory board would be fun since it would be all his favorite things in one place.

I looked up a couple different options on Pinterest:
Basically, I just determined it was a bunch of random knick-knacks glues to a board.  Nothing too hard.

Chris and I headed off to Home Depot (aka. Brooks' second home) and picked up a bunch of random movable, tactile, and safe objects to put on our board.
What made our cut?  (starting at the top left) A latch lock, carpet square sample, astroturf sample, faux-fur (from Michaels), sandpaper, (second row) mirror (Michaels), hook latch, hinged lock, doorstop, bell (Office Depot), furniture wheel, (third row) chain lock, hitching ring, plastic chain, ribbon (via our junk drawer?), metal chain, velcro tie (another weird thing we found in our junk drawer), (bottom row) there will be a bungee cord with different attachments.

As for the board, we couldnt find anything already pre-made to the size and shape we wanted (we debated getting some builder's grade ply-board but didnt like the cheapy feel of it) and end up finding this at Lowe's.
The corners were a bit sharp (read: eye gouging) so Chris cut them and then made them nice and rounded by using a low grit sandpaper.  We liked the idea of staining it and then sealing it in with polyurethane for a smooth finish, so Chris got to it.
 Ohhh pretty...
Next, we just laid our pieces down on the board in the way I prearranged them earlier, just to make sure they still made sense.
Oh and those letters for B's name?  Also a Michaels find that we stained ebony.  Its another fun texture for him and a good way to start recognizing letters and how to spell his name.

After that, it was as easy as using Liquid Nails to glue everything down or screw the big ones into place.

Fun side note: Did you know that can use extra pieces of unused carpet square samples as a drink coasters for your margarita while you do this project?  Because you totally can.
Chris even spoiled me with a drunk pineapple in my drink... yea, things get pretty crazy over here after bedtime
Once we got everything down, we let it dry over night to make sure everything sealed and little man wouldn't be able to rip anything off.
(I didnt take a picture of the back, but it helps if you also have a dremel to cut off all the screws and such that stick out on the back side of the board... better safe than sorry, just in case :-)

In the morning, we showed it to Brooks, really not knowing what to expect... would he get it? Would he be entertained for 15 seconds then go and find a half eaten dog toy to play with?  After all our hard work, we sat him down in front of the board and awaited his reaction.
He loved it.
 The door stop is a big seller...
He seriously went to town on it and played and played and played.  We sat next to him and pointed out some of the locks and he was able to copy us opening them and loved to do it himself.

Happy Little Boy!
Its heavy enough to lean against the coffee table and Brooks use it to pull himself up, but WARNING, he can (and will) pull it down if he wants to, so Chris and I only have this out when we can be right there with him holding the board against the table.  Sometimes we just put it on the floor and he crawls all over it, which is a bit of a safer option, but Brooks likes to stand.

Its also not too heavy so its easy to tuck away behind a couch or in a corner when he's not using it.

All in all, he loves it, and so do we.  Honestly, we made this about 3 weeks ago and it is still is favorite go-to thing to play with!

In the end, it probably cost us around $75 with all the gadgets, knick-knacks, and stainable solid board.  I know that's REALLY pricey for a kids toy, but something about the satisfaction of making something for your kid yourself that is contributing to his development and fine motor skills made it an OK purchase for us.  (Plus I'm sure it would have been a lot cheaper if we just would have gone with more stuff in our junk drawer).

So there you have it! What do you think!  I think the Montessori movement is pretty cool and I much rather have our little guy sit in front of his thing instead of a TV screen.  Has anyone tried anything similar?  Or maybe you would have added something different to your board!  I would love your feedback!  Thanks!