Tuesday, January 29, 2013

anything once: ikea hacking a children's table and chairs

I've been wanting to get a children's table and chairs for Eiley's room - something her size on which she could color, play with her tea set, have snacks, etc. All I could find were super expensive ones, ugly plastic ones, and this $20 one from Ikea:
Kind of makes you want to fall over from boredom, right? Well, I figured it would be easy to paint it and make it more exciting. I did a bunch of research and saw that I would be the 293877th person to refurbish the set. You can find my favorite versions of it here, here, and here. So basically I took all that research and used what I thought would be the best (read: easiest) components of each version to come up with my own. Here's a step by step of the process I used, though I recommend making it your own:

1. Purchase Latt set from Ikea. 
2. Purchase laminate cotton from discount fabric store. They only had three options for laminate cotton where I went, so I chose the least hideous. If you plan ahead (I don't like to do that in life), you can find a ton of options online. You'll need half a yard.
What I chose:
Find it here or at Jenny's Fabrics in Huntington Beach
What I'd have preferred, but whatever:
Find it here
3. Purchase paint and spray adhesive from Home Depot. I bought two pots of sample paint with primer. One pot would be more than enough to do two coats on this set, but I opted to do some embellishments in a second color.
4. Put baby to bed and turn on a terrible CW show on Netflix. I chose Revenge.
5. Lay down a giant plastic bag. Wouldn't want to get any paint on the floor! 
6. Take parts out of Ikea box. Paint them. No need to sand since this set comes unfinished. I do recommend priming if you get inefficient non-primer paint. Things should start to look like this:

7. Cut the fabric to perfectly fit the tops of the tables and chairs. Adhesive spray the dickens out of the fiberboard and glue the fabric to them. 
8. Using masking tape, leave space to paint a stripe on the bottom of each leg of furniture. 
9. Pick up pot of accent paint.
10. Since you didn't secure the top of the paint when you opened it earlier, accidentally drop open pot of paint all over couch and self.
11. Take off clothes so you don't get paint everywhere else in the room. 
12. Swear like a well-mannered sailor.  
13. Run around downstairs scrubbing couch cushions, shirt, and jeans in the sink and washing machine. 
14. Think about crying but laugh instead. Hey, there's no paint on the floor!
15. Put on PJs and perch on the end of the couch since the cushions are drying in the kitchen. Paint those accents because all that needs to be worth it, good grief.
16. Assemble table and chairs. Jeff helped with this since he had returned from rehearsal toward the end of step 15 and I looked like something had attacked me.
17. Remove masking tape. 

Voila! Only 17 steps and 4.5 episodes of Revenge to get to this masterpiece:

Monday, January 14, 2013

Children's Books Take Six: More

I have realized I go through binging phases. I get really excited about a thing, over-do it a bit, and then don't touch it with a ten foot pole for ages. I think I did that with picture books awhile back. Today, I binged again. We piled up with as many books as our stroller could carry back. And I found a gem. Have you read the book, More, by I. C. Springman, that just came out in 2012?

If the answer is no, get to your local bookstore or library and change your answer to yes. This is a lovely book, sparsely texted, appropriate to its theme of countering excess.  A magpie gets carried away collecting too much stuff, and some kind mice help him undo his disaster. I love a book that is rich enough to be enjoyed on multiple levels. Not only is it a sweet story of hoarding and learning to cut back, it is a story of sharing and cooperation and generosity. I hope you'll enjoy it too! And in the spirit of the book, I needn't say any more. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Dear Sofia, Happy 2nd Birthday

Dear Sofia,

A year ago, I reflected on our life together regularly and wrote about it on this blog. But in the past several months, our lives have been so full together, it has been hard to find space to stop and consider who you are becoming and who we are becoming together. But today, on your second birthday, I want to hit pause for a moment and let myself revel in the wonderful "little lady" you have come to be.

I can't seem to stop from staring at a collection of photos from your first year lately. I barely recognize that baby, you've changed so much. You have hair now, you're several inches taller, and you're a little girl, not even a toddler, certainly not a baby at all.

Sofia this time last year = cute santa baby
Our little lady now
A year ago, I told you, you were a woman who knew what she wanted. Now you are a woman who can tell us, very clearly, exactly what she wants, how she wants it, and how she feels when she doesn't get it. Watching your language explode this year has been the most shocking, marvelous delight. 

For a few months there, you put up a strike on saying names. Instead, you would refer to people as, "the green girl who is happy." If I quizzed you about a person to see if you actually knew what names referred to which people, you could indeed tell me that Kelly drives a "white van," and Theresa drives a "red car." You knew their names (and all sorts of other details about them!), you just refused to speak them. 

Just about a week ago, you finally gave up the strike and have so much to tell us about all of your friends. "Charlie says 'yes! yes!'" and "You do sing songs with Lili at the library," and "You did grab from Hazel." Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, while you are amazingly verbal, you speak all sentences as if from my perspective. The pronouns can get very confusing. "I do want some coffee" you exclaim with vigor, as I respond with serious concern, before I realize, you know just how much Mama needs her caffeine in the morning. 

You are richly empathetic. When I cough, you gaze at me with compassion and suggest I get some tea. When you see that someone you love adores you, you scamper over to give them a kiss. When you see that someone is sad, you rush to give them a hug. In fact, you take such joy in cheering people up, that you regularly request that Daddy and I draw you a crying child, just so that you can grab that paper to your chest to hug the boy or girl, "Now he is happy," you resolve as you go about your own doodling. Indeed.

Entering into the world of toddler arts and crafts has been one of the most fun experiences of my motherhood. You are getting so good at coloring in (and around) shapes, you can draw up, down, left, right, and a slanted line from top left to bottom right, though the inverted slant seems to throw you for a loop. You'll figure it out in time. For some reason, seeing you achieve the ability to draw circles round and round gives me particular happiness. You are becoming quite adept at using a glue stick. You glued all of our Jesse Tree ornaments together for me with amazing focus and determination, nearly all in one sitting. We also love to finger paint. You love for me to cover your whole hand with a color so that you can make prints all over your page. You had great fun making hand print salt dough ornaments as gifts for Christmas. Though Mommy learned a little lesson about doing two "dough" activities back to back this Christmas season. When we made ornaments only one day after having used the same cookie cutters to make cookies, it became nearly impossible to explain to you that ornaments were not to be eaten. 

A year ago, I told you that your favorite color was "blue circle" because of a particular block you were obsessed with. Now, I see such passion for beauty that I don't know that you could pick a favorite color (though I've seen some consistent leanings towards green, which may of course be my own bias for that color), much less a favorite creature, or flower, or even food. 

A year ago, I told your pediatrician that getting you to eat solid foods was one of the banes of my existence. We could barely keep you in your high chair long enough to keep your weight from dropping below the 5th percentile. Yesterday, we said goodbye to that high chair all together and promoted you to a booster seat. You are eager to try colorful curries and exotic noodles and steaming soups, as long as you are informed of what you are eating, and prefer your foods dissected and separated. I don't doubt this is a temporary blissful little phase where you are willing to try new things, but I'm enjoying it while I can. And of course, just because you'll try it, doesn't mean you will eat it in great quantity, or in efficient time. I recently let you eat some granola and clocked you at a 3-5 minute per oat rate of consumption. I about lost my mind with impatience. Now I'm the one who is eager to get you out of your seat, instead of the other way around. 

You still love your Christmas snoopy, and this year you even figured out how to turn him on yourself. You love to dance any chance you get, be it with Auntie Nina in the kitchen, with Mommy in the playroom, with Daddy at each break of the hockey game, or with your stuffed animals along to the music of your birthday card. Your still primarily use the move of bobbing up and down, but now you will often do that while running in circles at the same time. You never fail to make us laugh. 

A year ago, we could barely get you to sit still for the length of a board book, now you can't get enough  of reading. I even started in on a Winnie the Pooh chapter book the other day and you stayed cozy in my arms for the length of a whole chapter. That is my bliss. You made us read Richard Scarry's "Best Friends" about Huckle Cat's birthday so many times (nearly every time we put you to sleep - that's twice per day for months on end), that I felt I had no choice to throw you a Huckle and Lowly birthday party today. I sewed you your own Huckle and Lowly dolls, and though the stitches are all showing, his overall straps do not match up, and he looks like he has crazy eyes, you grabbed him to your chest and said, "you love him!" and that made my day. 

Not only will you let us read your Bible stories to you now, but you have memorized most of the words for yourself and can recite them aloud to us. You also say many of the words in the Lord's prayer along with us at bedtime. You pray for birds, for squirrels searching for acorns, for the sun, for Big Mama and Big Papa, for Grandma and Grandpa, Auntie Nina and Tio Eddie, for your friends, for people you've seen who are sad, for people who have shown you love, for food that you like, for pain that you don't. It is inspiring to see you learning to pray. 

After preparing for Christmas through the advent season by reading various parts of the Christmas story, we attended a service at our church where they read and sang songs that walked through the whole story together. We were amazed at your engagement with the service, your interest in what was being said, your comprehension and ability to join in with what you knew of the narrative. Hearing you say, "Immanuel means God is with us" is a sweet gift for Daddy and me. One of the sweetest hours of my life was spent watching you play pretend with the characters in our manger scene. I hope these are the first of many steps you take in walking closer to Jesus. 

We have been trying to introduce you to God. We recognize that everyone is doing spiritual parenting, it's just a question of how you're doing it. We're trying to be intentional. We tell you about how God loves us, how He is with us, how powerful and compassionate He is. We think we have a lot to teach you. But then you come back with questions or statements of complicated theological musings that we don't always have answers for. We love that you challenge us, and we hope we'll always be able to admit that we don't have all of the answers, we hope you'll make sure we always keep searching for truth and seeking to know God more fully through His son, Jesus. You once asked me, "Where is Heaven? You will look for it." Amen and Amen.  

I never knew a child could exhibit so much amazingness. I never knew another human being could make my heart feel so very full. You inspire my heart to love God more. Sometimes at the meal table, you will reach your arms out to either side to draw Daddy and I in to one big family hug. You give Daddy and I such delight that we can't help but love each other more dearly. We still go bed every night, gazing at pictures of you. This is what it means for a heart to fill to overflowing. I continue to be undeserving of you, my sweet. Your birth and your life continue to be one of the greatest gifts I've ever been fortunate enough to receive. 

I love you bunches and tons, tons and bunches! Happy Second Birthday Sofia Arabella!