Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Meet our newest member!

Allow me to introduce the newest member of our family - Cole Hamilton Schrall! He was born a few days early...September 15 to be exact and weighed in at 8lbs 8oz and 20.5 inches.

He came in to the world a bit early - I was scheduled to have my c-section on Monday, September 19 and had everything planned out. I still needed to clean my house, get my bag packed, make some food and wrap up a few things at work. Well he had a different idea. On Wednesday, September 14, I started having what I thought were Braxton-Hicks contractions around 3pm. They went on and off throughout the afternoon. I even went to see some furniture being delivered for a project I'm working on and my friend said "uh, you OK?" to which I replied "well, I am as long as he doesn't fall out!" because I was pretty sure at any minute he might and I think he was worried too since I wasn't really standing upright at that point.

The contractions got more consistent as the afternoon/evening went on. By 8pm or so they were about every 5 minutes but not super strong, just very uncomfortable. I finally called the doctor at 11pm and he said "just take some Ibuprofen and wait a few hours and they should go away" since I wasn't dialated yet. Sounded reasonable to me. Ummm...not so much. By 2:30am after being up the entire time (and Daniel had been up for 23hrs straight at this point) he looked at me and I said "OK, call it" and off we went to the hospital. Somewhere in there we (and by we I mean me sitting on the bed and Daniel sorting through my clothes and toiletries) managed to pack my hospital bag.  By 3:30am the doctor on-call had already called back and said to schedule my c-section for 5am that morning. I busily starting emailing and calling people (yep, at 3:30am) to wrap up all my loose ends. I was glad that the doctor on-call was my 2nd favorite in our practice. If I couldn't have my doctor, I would have chosen him.

And a cute side story - I call my mom at 3:30am and say something like "going to need you to hit the road tomorrow! Time for a baby!" to which I got this response "who is this?" Nice. "Uh mom, it's YOUR PREGNANT DAUGHTER!"     She claims says that they get calls at all hours of the night about the bed and breakfast still so she was expecting one of those calls when the phone rang.

So far, he's been a great baby...well minus the fact that he likes to eat EVERY TWO HOURS almost like clockwork. I'm hoping that may start to fade and we can move to 3hrs soon. He's also a little gassy at night much like his big brother was but not quite as bad.

Here are a few more pictures to mark the occasion...

my great friend Jaime had this stork waiting on us when we arrived

sleeping peacefully - he has a head full of blonde hair too

his first bath - which started out well...

but then we realized it wasn't quite as fun!
And in the photo below...note the worried look of daddy with his protective hand and the crazy look of his big brother. ATTACK!

being introduced to his brother at home...

We attempted (mighty loftily I might add) to get pictures of Big Brother and Little Brother for the birth announcements but that didn't go so well. Charlie really just wanted to poke and hit Cole in the head. Hmmm...sign of things to come? 

Cole: "save me!!!"

finally Charlie gave him a little hug. So sweet!

And not to leave him out - a picture of big brother being his normal goofy self (this is just after his 1st haircut)

So that's our newest little peanut. We now have a peanut and a walnut to chase after. I'm so blessed and thankful that my parents came for 2 weeks to help out! What will we do when our security blanket (AKA my mom) leaves in a few days!?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Curb Appeal

When I was scrolling through our pictures not long ago, I came across the before pictures of our front and back yards. I was shocked! I had forgotten how bad they were just a mere 4 years ago. So I thought I'd do a quick before and after of the yards from this spring. Fair warning, this post is full of pictures!

Here's a move-in day shot of the yards...obviously we didn't buy it for it's curb appeal. You'll note there is not a lick of landscaping other than the over-grown bushes trees on the corners.

front shot of house

close-up of the front

Notice in the picture below the hideous metal screen/glass door and the oh-so-loverly gas meter in the corner. What you can't tell is that behind that white door is a hollow outside door. I think they just used an interior door instead of a true exterior. It was horrible!

And then there was the backyard...brace yourself.

So basically, the backyard was dirt and weeds. The only thing that had been added was the deck. Hideous. I die. And not in a good way.

The first thing we decided to do, mainly because it hurt my eyes the most, was change out the front door. Well that and it was a security risk. Once that was done, we tackled the back yard.

Sooo much better! Already it looked like a new yard. Over time, we've slowly been working on adding landscaping to the front and back to make it more cozy and "us". I love a functional outdoor space so it's important for me to have curb appeal and a pretty place to sit during the few 3 days of pleasant weather in SC.

What we've done to date...
Front Yard
  • replaced the front door and added a glass storm door
  • added window boxes
  • cut down the tree shrubs against the house 
  • added boxwoods and camelias against the house
  • put out assorted pots of flowers along the walkway
  • added decorative items like the birdhouse, cross and house numbers
  • built a bed around the oak and planted cast iron plants with verigated loriape
  • added a vegetable garden to the left of the house using raised beds
  • put down pinestraw in all the beds
Back Yard
  • sodded and created borders
  • added beds around the 2 hardwood trees and added flowers
  • added flowers, grill and red umbrella along the deck
  • replaced the backdoor and also added a phantom screen (you know for those few 3 days you can open up the house in SC)
  • planted a few shrubs and flowering bushes around the area
  • added chairs for a little seating in the yard
  • built a privacy fence on the back property line (versus the wire fence that was falling down)

Here is what the front yard looked like this spring/summer.

And in case you're wondering, we still have ivy poop beside the front door. I'm hoping that when we have the house pressure washed later in the fall that it will take care of it.

And the backyard...

Much improved, don't you think? We still have a list of things we'd like to tackle in both yards - like...
  1. replacing the shrubs we planted in front of the driveway (not pictured). They are basically scraggly and not as "clean" as I had hoped they would be. I think loropetalum will look much nicer.
  2. adding some flowering shrubs along the fence line in the back - maybe a forsythia and some knockout roses
  3. possibly building a flagstone patio at the bottom of the stairs so we could enjoy the shade and also have more outdoor space
  4. refinishing the deck (again)
  5. BUILDING A SHED - this is top on the priority list. We need it for added storage. What you can't see from the pictures is the back of the shed is non-existent. It basically rotted and is held up by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin
  6. removal of the sycamore tree (boo-hiss) before it falls on our house. Lightening has struck twice and it's coming down next week. Maybe that will open up space for a swing set?
But all this is a wish list. As we look at new house projects, we always weigh them on the value and importance, not just for re-sale but also for personal need. Asking ourselves "will we get enough use out of it between now and when we sell to warrant the cost?"

So stay tuned! Any new projects will be posted of course but I at least wanted to share the progress of the past 4 years! So what about you - ever looked at before and after pictures over a long period of time and been surprised? Would love to see them so share with me!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Survey says...

Remember that old game show The Family Feud where the host always said "survey says..."? Well this is a survey folks. But first a little history...

For a while now, I've wanted to put curtains up in our kitchen. I don't know why. We only have one small window over the sink but I feel like naked windows make a room look incomplete. There is one exception which is Daniel's man-room where he refuses to let me put any type of window treatment other than the blinds. Men.

Anywhoozle, I have been helping someone decorate their office building, which is an old house in 5-points. When I was fabric sourcing - one of my favorite things to do by the way - I fell in love with the colors in this fabric. I didn't buy it immediately but I kept thinking about it. (Daniel was with me so that doesn't usually go over very well, especially when we're about to have a baby and I try to take on yet another house project. And no, he didn't know he was "fabric sourcing" when he agreed to drive me out to the store during our errands). I kept wondering, how can I use this in my house? Can I convince Daniel to let me build a headboard and have it covered with it and re-do the bedroom? Probably not. Are there ANY other rooms in the house I could use it in? Finally it hit me that this would match the kitchen perfectly. So when I went back to buy additional fabric for the office project, I bought a yard. Oh and by the way, I also found another fabric I loved for new curtains for our bedroom. More on that later.

So on Labor Day, when Daniel got home from work and little Peanut went down for a nap, despite my hideously swollen and tired feet, I decided to put them together. I think design and decorating are calming to me. Well that and the fact I'm nesting. I cheated this time and used the iron on tape instead of pulling out my trusty sewing machine. I did line them since it's a bright window but didn't have the patience for the sewer. Now if I were a good blogger, I would have showed you step by step how to tackle the project. But lets face it. I'm 9 months pregnant and didn't really feel like chronicling every detail. So sorry. You can email me and I'll send you instructions if you want to tackle something similar.

I put them up this week and I'm not so sure. I love them at night and so does Daniel. But during the day they look a little dark. I'm not sure if it's that we aren't used to blocking part of the window so it's a shock or if it's just not the right fabric for the space. I have to admit the pictures turned out better than I expected and they look even better at night which leans me to the other side of the coin. Maybe we are just not used to blocking part of the window and it was a shock. And another side note - it appears the oranges don't really match but that's just the picture. In reality they match great.

Here's where you come in. I need you to give us your honest feedback - keep or try again? And if I try again, what about these doesn't work? Or should I go with a valance instead of the cafe style? Or lose curtains all together? Or do you like them and think they work great in the space?

So please weigh in with your comments!! All suggestions welcome. We're still deciding and agreed to keep them up for a few weeks and see if they grow on us.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Take 2: The Nursery

No literally, take two...babies that is! Ready or not, in just 12 short days we will have baby #2 arriving! Cole Hamilton Schrall is due to arrive via c-section on September 19 unless he chooses to come early. I'll be very curious to see how big he is compared to his brother, Charlie, because boys and girls...this one feels like a whopper! Daniel asked me if I was having a little boy or a calf. He's super sweet like that. Still learning the concept of a "filter" that one.

Anyway, many people have asked us what his nursery looks like so I thought I'd give you a little tour. You'll recognize it because it's the same room Charlie's in. We only have 3 bedrooms in our little home - 1 for us, 1 that serves as an office/man-room/guest room and then the nursery.

This little room used to be Daniel's man-room back in the day but when Charlie came along, we converted the guest room in to a makeshift man-room, which actually has worked out better. We use it alot for watching TV and relaxing in, especially since we took out the guest bed and put in a pull out sofa instead. But enough about that room, that's not even what I'm featuring here!

Here's a pre-baby picture:

Then it transformed in to Charlie's room. You'll notice there are no closets in this little room so I had to be creative with storage.  Here's a quick tour of Charlie's room pre-Cole:

Then when we found out we were expecting our second little peanut, we realized we better be even more creative! So here is the updated nursery. Surprisingly it works really well and honestly, I like the layout much better. Let's start with the small touches that I added to "de-Charlie" the room and make it more for both boys:

On the nursery door
 This looks complicated for their front door but really it's a simple kit from Hobby Lobby that came pre-stenciled with the shapes and I glued it to a canvas. The canvas was simple enough to paint since the center was mostly the C and their names. The rest you just had to paint what was stenciled out and viola - a cute little name plate for the boys.

Then I added unique initial canvases that I painted over each of their cribs. Charlie had one before but I never really loved how it turned out so I repainted one for each boy. (oh, and you too can have your very own for your child - just ask me!)

 And each boy also has their own little plaque to commemorate their birth date and details (length, weight, birth time) over each of their cribs too.

And on the center table between the cribs, I have cute frames with each of their names. Little touches like this really helped bring the nursery together to make sure it wasn't just about Charlie.

So finally for the tour...starting at the right of the door...
laundry and stuffed animal hangout

Charlie's Crib
Cole's Crib

Wall shot of both cribs and their artwork

changing table and their only clothes storage (2 drawers each!) 
On the left is the end of Charlie's crib to give you perspective.

The next picture is probably my favorite spot - the reading nook. It took me FOREVER to find the bookshelf that you see hanging but I finally found it on Who knew it would take me so long to find something you see in every pediatrician's office and elementary school! I needed something that could hang and not take up too much space to store as many books as possible. There are still some stacked underneath but it at least gets most of them off the floor. The red tub is their toy bin.  

Here's a close-up since it's my favorite little spot (there's even a little stool between the chair and changing table with a giraffe perching).

And behind the door is the storage shelf. This holds all their blankets, bibs, changing table items and a litany of other nursery necessities. It's super useful but a little busy so I'm glad it's mostly hidden behind the door.

So that'[s quick tour of the nursery! Not pictured are little things like a set of hooks on the back of their door to hold their book bags, sweatshirts, etc. We also have tubs of clothes labeled by size under each of their cribs for the next size up. That way as they outgrow things, we can just reach under and pull out the next size. (the rest are stored under our bed, again, painstakingly labeled by size.) We have towels, formula, diaper items, etc all stored under their cribs in baskets as well - all of which are neatly tucked away behind the matching crib skirts I made and velcroed to the cribs.

In such a little room it pays to be organized! But it actually works out great and we ended up having plenty of floor space. Now if baby #3 comes anytime soon ... we're in big trouble!!! Not only for space but because Daniel will be in the looney bin!

Have you had to be creative in your nursery for storage? Ever felt like you were crammed in only to realize a little creative organization gave you so much more room? I'd love to hear how you save space!