Monday, December 30, 2013

DIY headboard

Do you ever get antsy when you haven't done a project in a while? I do. Plus it allows me to have a good reason to buy fabric and procrastinate cleaning. So we decided that we needed a new bedroom look. Right now, we have this monster in our bedroom. My H came into the marriage with it, and it was pretty useful when we rented and had access to oversized bedrooms.
But now...not so much. Add to it that between the toddler and the cat, things were CONSTANTLY falling on my head as I slept, and it was time for a change.
Buy a new headboard, you say? Oh no no no! (Says I) Have you seen how much those cost? I know I can do better than that!

My dad helped me, so when I say "we" for this project it's typically him and me. This was a surprise for my husband for Christmas.

*Warning - I don't actually know what I'm doing, pretty much ever. I do not use technical words because I don't know them, so if you are looking for exact directions, sorry. If you want guidelines and ideas, read on!*

First step was picking up the wood at Lowes.

I used the cardboard to draw a pretty curve for the top of board. I just used a random round object (some sort of tray) I found in my dad's garage to trace the curve. Then my kiddo stole my pencil.

Next up was sawing. I detest  am terrified of power tools, but Dad was in a teaching mood, so I had to do it myself. First we sawed the curves that I cut out. (Note the strings hanging from my shirt, DO NOT WEAR  LOOSE CLOTHING around a saw. I was bad. I was lucky. Don't do it)

Look at that pretty curve.

After cutting the top curves, I went through with the drill and drilled holes for the tufts. This is where it is really helpful to have furniture you can wreck a little if needed. While I managed to not drill through the table, it was always a possibility.

Meanwhile, my mom was on kid duty. Look at that big girl going down the slide all by herself (with grandma to catch her if she stumbled at the bottom, which she didn't, go Bug!). I'm still not quite sure where this big kid came from, and I'm certain my kid is a little snuggly newborn, right?

Next up was attaching the foam to the plywood/sheet of wood/whatever with the staple gun. I hate staple guns, and not just because they scare me. They also make my hand hurt.

I used a foam topper for a full sized mattress that I found at K-Mart for just $14.99! It was a little too short lengthwise, and a little too tall heightwise, but we just folded over the top and added some foam to the sides later and called it good.

This is when my mom, the fabric whisperer, took over. We lay the fabric down and carefully measured it. Bug made sure the board didn't try to run away.

Then more staple-gunning after we pulled the fabric tight. Bug entertained herself by finding my purse (the blue thing) and taking my wallet out (the purple thing she is holding). It turns out, the knots in the wood are exactly penny sized, and she had great fun filling them with pennies.

"Peek, mommy! Peek!!!!"

Now it's tuft time. I found some very thick, almost leathery thread in my craft room and a large needle. I passed the needle through the holes I drilled earlier.

Then through the fabric and the button loop (I used the kind of buttons with holes on the back, not through the front of the button) and then back to the back.

Dad's idea was using the washer, and it was pretty dang brilliant. I would put the washer on after the first pass, and then tie a tight knot after it came back through from the front. While I was confident in the tight knot, I also tied another knot further down on the thread and then staple-gunned that onto the board.

Fast forward a week, and I got my Christmas present! YES! While our power screwdriver/drill is awesome, it's too heavy for me to easily use. This little gal is PERFECT (yes, caps necessary). 

Using my nifty new tool, I quickly screwed in the awesome french cleats that my dad found at Lowes. After carefully measuring. And measuring again, and making my dad measure just for good...measure...

Then we put the other part of the system on the wall. It came with a built in line-level. It's the little things in life.

We hung up the headboard, added our new side-tables and lamps, and voila! I think we gained a good 3' of bedroom space by getting rid of the monster, and the room feels soooooo much nicer. Bug also approved of the new set-up.


Cost breakdown (because this part makes me happy)

8' by 5' thick plywood board thing - $22
Foam mattress topper for Full bed - $14
Fabric (I believe I got 4 yards to be on the safe side) - $15 (on sale, plus coupon)
Fancy hanging doo-das - $10 for 2

throw in the side-tables ($59.99 each at Target)
lamps ($12.99 each -including shades - at Target)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A new project and new cause

This is going to be one of those times when my author life comes into this blog, because the book I'm currently researching/drafting has had a huge impact in my life.

See, it started off with me wanting to write a young adult novel about high school, specifically about how high school can sometimes suck, but will get better and has some bright spots. Okay, really it started off with me wanting to write a book about a 30 year old starting over in life, and she needed a back story, which would be the YA novel. That's not the point.

Except the main character for both books turned into a foster kid, and my life was turned upside down. I never really thought much about foster kids, I've met adopted kids in my life (my husband and his sister were each individually adopted, his cousin is adopted, my ex-bf's father was adopted, etc), but never really had personal interactions with foster kids.

Holy totally different world. I had a scenario in my head, 16 year old who was abandoned by her parents, drifted through a few foster homes in a few years, had a hard time, etc. Since I had no clue was what normal, I talked to a worker at my job who works with foster kids. Talk about eye opening. I left our first meeting feeling drained and broken, and utterly shocked and ashamed that there was a world of struggle I had never known about.

On an average day, 400,000 kids are in foster care. 400,000!! That's...I

11% of the children who exit the system "age-out", which basically means that they turn 18 and the state is no longer required to help them. I can't even wrap my head around it. 18 and no home to go back to, no parents to co-sign for an apartment, probably no job, probably no car, and a whole world of emotional insecurities and problems.

I've been reading many blogs about foster kids, the most informational being I Was a Foster Kid and they are breaking my heart. Being a kid is hard enough, but then you add in the struggles that these kids go through and it's no wonder that they feel lost and forgotten. They act out because they want to feel loved, because they don't feel loved, because they don't know any other way to be. Can you imagine having to learn a new set of rules every few months, being in a new house, a new bed, with new siblings/roommates? Can we really expect them to be stable? Think of how huge of a transition it was for many of us to go to college for the first time, and have the experience of roommates. Now do that several times a year, but you are between the ages of birth and 18.

So a lot of this has been swirling around in my head as I write about my character, 16 year old Alyssa who has been through hell and refuses to give in. And I hope that the book can be an eye-opener to those, like me, who just had no idea, and that Alyssa can be inspiration to others who are going through hell to just keep walking until you reach the other side.

Here are some links for those who are interested in fostering, adopting, or just want more information

Adopt Us Kids
9 Ways to Help Children in Foster Care
Forever Family

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Making life a little easier

I keep coming up with new little tricks and tips and need to remember to pass them on!

Many a day I feel like I'm stuck in a hamster wheel of doom. I clean, it gets messy, I clean, it gets messy. How am I supposed to stay sane? I'm not a neat freak by any means, but I don't want people to walk into my house and think it was robbed. So here are some tips (specifically for moms of toddlers) to help just a little bit.

1)  Those damn letter mats. We all have them, and if you are like me, they drive you nuts. My kid LOVES her letter mats, so much we have 2, and it's a fabulous way to keep her off the icky carpet that we don't want to replace quite yet, but boy do they make a mess instantaneously.

My trick with this one, take out the stupid little pieces that fill the holes in letters (like D, O, etc). This seems stupid, but helps cut down cleaning time significantly.

Putting toys where the kid can reach them.
Okay, this sounds counter-intuitive, because the more toys your kid can reach, the more mess they can make, but bear with me on this one. I hung up this cute little shelf (which is a prototype, my cheap and quick version of the adorable fabric shelves seen on Pinterest) to hold some of her stuffed animals.

This was actually pretty awesome in our house, because we had been storing stuffed animals in mesh laundry bins, which resulted in the kid dumping the entire bin to get the animal on the bottom. Yay only grabbing one toy at a time.

Friday, October 18, 2013

New floor time

I am so happy with my new floooooor. We've been waiting a while to replace the floor in our entry way, because the carpet was scary. Not only was that the dogs prime place to pee and poop toward the end (we always cleaned it, but still, gah), but it was also the section that was soaked when our old water heater went kablooey and flooded the front hallway.

We started by ripping out the old carpet and exposing the wood flooring below.

My husband sweeping the floor. There was sooo much powder-fine dirt underneath the carpet pad (shudder). Now I see why people replace carpet every time they move.

I also discovered lovely carpet tack strips. Be extremely careful if you are removing these, because they are sharp.

Once all the carpet, tack strips, and staples were up, we were ready to lay down the floor. First, we put down some BlueHawk Underlayment. We didn't have to, but we wanted something between our new floor and the wood.

We bought 100 sq ft of Trafficmaster Allure flooring from Home Depot, and it is freaking awesome. It looks like wood, but is actually made of rubber. Waterproof, skidproof, and pretty dang resilient. It was slightly harder to put together than regular hard laminate floor, but still not bad.

We found the easiest thing was to link the pieces into long strips, then click the long strips together.

While we did that, Kaylee practiced hammering with her plastic hammer, golf tees, and a big block of styrofoam.

This was the annoying part. The wood molding actually goes all the way to the subfloor, so I had to use a special saw to make the bottom even with the rest of the molding. Then we had to cut the floor to fit into the small spaces, around the molding, etc.

But it's so worth it, because it's gorgeous!


The guys trying to put in the final (omg annoying) piece

Kaylee made a square out of the boxes and was walking inside of them.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cherishing 4am

Most people out there are probably thinking the title to this post is crazy, but it was something I was thinking about last night at, you guessed it, 4am.

My daughter has never been a great sleeper. I'd go so far as to say that she's never been a good sleeper. Up until her 2nd birthday she was up every 3 hours, and would need me to help her fall back asleep. I have watched many a sunset from the rocker in her room as I nursed her back to sleep for the 5th time in one night. She's now 3 months over 2, and will usually sleep well, until 4am.

Then I hear her door open, and a soft little voice call out, "momma? Come cuddle?" and I do. Now I know, every sleep trainer will say that I need to not go, lay down in bed, and snuggle her close, but I do. Normally all she needs is 2 minutes snuggled in close to me and she's back into a deep sleep. Maybe it's noises from outside, maybe the cat is meowing, maybe she's reached an age where the night terrors that she has always had have turned into nightmares and she just needs a little reassurance that everything is okay.

And last night at 4am, when my sweet baby asked me to "p'etty p'ease change diaper", and then gave me a big kiss and said "night mommy, I love you", I realized that I need to cherish these 4am visits when the house is asleep and my little girl is still young enough to not be shy about asking for help, or accepting comfort.

Maybe it will mean more sleepless nights down the road, but I never want her to feel alone in the dark. I want her to know that she can always call me when she is feeling scared, sad, or lonely, and that I will be there, even at 4am.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A horse with no ears

Meet Chestnut
Chestnut and Katie Whompus meeting
Chestnut is a Fur-Real horse, picked up by my dad for free from one of his friends who was giving her away. She came into our home during Bug's first Christmas, back in 2011. Our dog was not too impressed with this new addition, and the cat hid under the bed for days.

At first, Bug was not too impressed with the horse. So Chestnut got tucked into the corner, because she retails around $300 and if my kid is anything like me, she will soon become infatuated with horses. I know, because I was. Except my "first horse" was made out of two wooden sawhorses connected with a 2 by 4, with a 5G plastic bucket as a saddle and a piece of plywood as a head! I loved that horse...

As she got older, Bug became more interested in Chestnut. She started really liking the horse, with one problem. As you can see, Chestnut has no ears. This was HUGE to Bug, who had just turned 2 years old, and she was incredibly upset that Chestnut was "hurt" "bwoken" and demanded that I made it better.

So...I did what I always do, and whip out my yarn and trusty crochet needle. This was my first bridle, and it wasn't that awesome. Basically, it was way too big, and gave nowhere for Chestnuts poor forelock (aka horsie bangs) to go! The reins were also far too long.

Naturally, that means I had to make a second one! (These pictures were actually taken the same day, we just swapped the shorts for pants when the shorts mysteriously became covered in water.

I was able to figure out how to get the ears to stand up nice and stiffly, as well as making an opening for the forelock to go through (which also serves to help balance out the ears). It's still a big long in the front, so I may go back and remove one of the purple granny squares to tighten that up a bit.

Once Bug figured out that she could make Chestnuts head move by pulling on the reins, she was hooked! Just wait until I actually turn the horse on and it starts making noises!

Direct shot of the head-piece. I'm going to take out one of the purple granny's between the hexagon and the noseband to tighten it up a bit.

Side shot of the headpiece. The nice thing about yarn is that is has just enough give that it keeps it nice and snug without needing any buckles, buttons, or ties.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Farewell, good dog

If it's been a while since I've written, well, we've been a bit preoccupied. I started back at work, we've been doing a lot around the house, and yesterday we had to say goodbye to our Whompus.

Whompus came into my husband's life when he was in his early twenties. He came home from the Marines for a visit and was greeted by his parents' new dog, a young Catahoula named Katie. She belonged to his dad, and they were inseparable until his father passed away in 2003.

Then, the Whompus became my husband's dog, and she loved him so. When we moved in together in 2007 she and I clicked, and we had a lot of fun together. We took hikes around the apartment complex, chased squirrels, and cuddled on the couch as often as we could.
Me and the Whomps, circa 2007
When she turned 10, she started slowing waaay down. She could no longer get on the couch without support, and stairs were incredibly hard. We put her on medications for her joints, special treats, and a special food, which helped a little bit. But she missed her couch, and she missed our walks. At least she had a nice yard to lay in when we bought our house, and could take in the sun.

The last three years have been a struggle for her. She defended us against squirrels, invisible tigers, and joggers. She also lost all controls of her body functions, lost her ability to go up the stairs, and had to be separated from our new baby after snapping at her. It wasn't her fault, and all the training in the world wasn't enough to keep an old hound dog from wanting to chase and eat this small, crawling thing.

She got old in the last six months, and every day we wondered when it would be time. There were many times when we thought "this is it" and the vet would give her medicine that extended her life, but never really made it any better.

Finally, at the age of 14 years and a titch, she has gotten the rest she deserves. She was able to go with her head on her human's lap, and my arms wrapped around her. She's up jogging with her original dad where there is no pain, no harassing cats, and all the table scraps she can eat.

Bye Whompus. You were awesome.