Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Nursery

Since we didn't have much on the agenda for this year I decided that making a new room for the girls would be a project that we could tackle. Initially, the plan had been to just put a toddler bed in Eleanor's current room and put both girls in that room. Thinking about it a little more though, I decided a better plan for the long term would be to move both girls into the bigger room and then move the guestroom in to Eleanor's current room which is a little smaller. Ideally, the girls will share this new space for a long time - maybe even as long as we're in this house. As we started planning the new room though, I realized I don't think I ever shared Eleanor's nursery. I know everyone has seen bits and pieces of it in pictures but I wanted to take pictures of her room and share them because we will be changing it up soon.

I absolutely love Eleanor's nursery and the pictures that I post today give a decent indication of how it was initially. We have accumulated a few things since then though that make it a little more her. I think my favorite thing about this space is that so many people contributed toward making it special for her!

When you walk into her door on the back wall is her crib. My sister, Lauren, made Eleanor a beautiful mobile to hang in her crib which she gifted to me for my baby shower. Then, while we were at the hospital still, she went out and bought those rings and fabric to make a little decoration above her crib. Before we left for the hospital, the room was only gray, white, and a little bit of yellow. We didn't know whether Eleanor would be a boy or girl so we were waiting to add more color until she was born. The mobile might be my favorite piece in her whole room, but we unfortunately had to take it down when Eleanor was about 18 months old because she kept pulling on it. We will definitely be putting it back up for Jane here soon! The quilt hanging over the edge of the crib was made by Chris's Aunt Andi. I was incredibly surprised and so excited about it when it came in the mail. It has been well loved already! Also in Eleanor's crib, you can see Maynard, her Cabbage Patch doll. My Grammy sent this to her when she was around a year old and he has been very special to her ever since, as has been shown in other posts.

My mom and I found the white rocking chair together before Eleanor was born. Then, my mom surprised us with the beautiful crocheted blanket that's hanging on the back of the chair when she came down to help with Eleanor after we got home from the hospital. She had been working on it for months in the evenings, and we use it to take monthly pictures of the girls until they turn a year old. The white bear in the chair was mine when I was growing up and the little owl in its lap is actually something my sister made for Jane when Jane was born a few months ago. Because Jane came two weeks early, Lauren ended up staying up all night one night to sew it because she wanted to have something for sweet Jane when she was born!

The shelf in that corner is something we've had for a long time but some of the stuff on the shelf is so special to us. The yellow bird cage and bird are from my baby shower. They are things that my sister used as decoration when she was planning the shower. To the left is a grain of rice that has Eleanor's name painted on it and is framed. A friend from work brought that back to her from India. The wooden block with the E on it is engraved with Eleanor's birth date, weight, time, length, and other fun information for her. The cross was made by my friend Jess. She used the scripture from the sermon on the day Eleanor was dedicated at church to make it. "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."  1 Corinthians 15:58. What a special thing for Eleanor to have when she is older! There is a little silver box under the cross and that was actually gifted to Jane this Christmas. One of the ladies in my Bible study and gave it to her for being an honorary member of our group while I was on maternity leave. It is engraved with her initials. Lastly is Eleanor's baby camera; not special but necessary. Right underneath the shelf is some artwork that my college roommate Kayla made for Eleanor. She gave that to Eleanor this past year and it fit her nursery so perfectly. Eleanor likes to call it her alphabet because she recognizes the letters but not her name yet. Kayla is perhaps my most artistically talented college roommate!

In the next corner of her room is a little bookcase that my siblings and I used when we were young that used to be green and yellow. I had repainted it to use a long time ago and since I had painted it white it just needed a little touch up to be used in Eleanor's nursery. Above the bookcase you can see Kayla's artwork again. She actually framed and gifted me the artwork she used as baby shower invitations. This is also very special to me and very much showcases her talents! On top of the bookcase is more of the decorations from my baby shower. Inside the nest are a bunch of bird cut outs on which people wrote notes to baby Eleanor before she was born and hung on the branches. Last but not least is a framed picture of my grandma Eleanor, probably when she was in her 20s at the beach. It didn't particularly fit in her nursery but I really wanted to have something of my grandmother Eleanor in my Eleanor's room. It breaks my heart that they will never get a chance to meet on this side of heaven.

On the back wall of Eleanor's room, my mom, sister, Chris, and I painted stripes when I was about 37 weeks pregnant. It wasn't actually as much work as I thought because we didn't have to work around windows or doors. We bought the dresser from Ikea because we wanted to find something that was both tall enough and deep enough to use as a changing table. Above the changing table is a banner that another college roommate of mine, Maggie, made for Eleanor. She sent it down to be used as decoration for my shower and then asked for it back. Once Eleanor was born she put her name on it and sent it back to me. We immediately hung it up in Eleanor's nursery - again, such a special touch from a special person.

As you can see, there are so many special things from so many special people in our lives. Each time I see these items, I am reminded of how well loved and cared for I am and particularly my girls are. I hope my girls are always reminded of the strength of community through small reminders in our lives. While we are now switching this room into the guestroom, I will be leaving a lot of these touches up because we will still use this room as a nursery for Jane while we transition her to a crib and while we don't have guests. I will miss this room as it looks now but I love the new stage we're entering with Eleanor growing up.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

January wrap-up

A month into the new year and we have been loving the cold weather. Despite some sickness this month, we have been trying to keep getting outside as much as possible.

One sunny Sunday Eleanor and I walked home from church because she was throwing a tantrum in the parking lot. One of my goals this year is to be more patient and listen more before reacting. We walked home and chatted about why she was so frustrated and ended up having a great time.

My mom got Eleanor a tinkerbell dress from a thrift store while we were visiting around the holidays. We were are the thrift store for something totally different and Eleanor honed in on the dress, held it up and said, "I LOVE it!" and it was hers. She wore it every single day for about a 15 day streak before I hid it for a couple days. I call this picture "Tinkerbell or Cinderella?" and other people called it "Tinkerbella" or "Cindereleanor"

Eleanor gets more opinionated about her clothes and what she wants to wear every day. The other day I sent this picture to Chris while we were out on a walk and his response was, "she looks like a homeless person."

In the spirit of getting outside, we had to head to Colonial Williamsburg at least once this month.

Eleanor loves to get more helpful by the day. Here she was trying to take Jane on a walk "by myself."

My Aunt Holly got Eleanor (and Jane) her own calendar for Christmas this year. Eleanor wanted to hang it in her kitchen (which is in the kitchen) right under our family calendar. It is so cute - she loves it!

We've taken advantage of our neighborhood park on decent days outside.

Jane took her first ride in the big stroller seat.

Shug and Grandma came down to visit! Grandma was helping with the great room swap (more on this later). Eleanor will be moving into a big girl bed soon, so we had some projects to do.

Chris and Eleanor had a breakfast date after a friend's basketball game while grandma was here. He was getting her out of the house so we could be a little more productive.

Eleanor is still falling asleep all over the place. She fell asleep on a walk around the neighborhood, and another day she fell asleep and almost toppled out of the stroller face first in CW. Thank goodness for seats that recline!

We've taken a few family bike rides when weather permits.

Eleanor's friend had a birthday party at Chick-fil-A and it seemed to be less chaotic than usual!

Gaby came to visit to spend some time with the girls so I could go get a massage they gifted me at Christmas!

January was a cold (two decent snows!) but full month for us. Onward to February...

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Basketball getting us through January

January is always a long month for me. It's the first month of winter that seems like there are days too cold to take the girls outside. There are also no holidays to look forward to, so we rely on basketball to get us out of the house (true for February, too).

The girls both seem to love it. Eleanor spends a lot of time in her crib during naptime shouting "E - I - let's go TRIBE!" (her version of T - R- I - B - E, let's go TRIBE), "Go Sean!!" (one of the players on the team), "DOO-fence" (her version of defense), and "chicken nuggets" (something some of the older girls yell during free throws). Jane spends a lot of her time in other peoples' arms.

After the games, sometimes Eleanor gets to shoot hoops with friends (she hasn't made one yet). Last week after one of the evening games, Eleanor stood in line for her first team autographs! She thought it was fun but didn't totally understand it. She didn't want to keep giving up her paper. I did get a picture of her with her favorite player, Sean (he doesn't know Eleanor only knows his name or even who she is, haha).

Happy January...here's to a good season!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

More snow (Jonas - who knew these things were named?)!

Well we (along with the rest of the east coast) didn't have to wait long for more snow. Friday around noon the white stuff started coming down getting Chris sent home early from work! I did push him to leave as early as possible though because I wanted him to run to the pharmacy before they closed... but by around 1 pm the roads were covered and I was ready to be snowed in! I took a walk with the girls so they could enjoy a little bit of the fresh snow as it came down but by the time we got even to the end of the driveway, I figured there was no way to keep Jane warm or dry enough. I thought I was brilliant by switching the girls into the bike trailer (with a wheel attached to make it a stroller) because it has a plastic cover so they could still see out. Within about a minute, it was covered in snow and they couldn't see out. Needless to say, that walk was short.

We bundled up every day at least once and sometimes twice from Friday through Monday (Chris didn't have to go to work until noon) and didn't go anywhere except a nearby sledding hill. Even church was cancelled this weekend!

Chris and Eleanor and I had some snowball fights in the yard while Jane napped inside. Eleanor was very specific about what she wanted to happen during these fights: "You go far away and stand up and I will run and tackle you and hit you with a snowball, okay? And say, 'no don't tackle me,' okay?"

I so much wanted to be a part of all the snow fun but we had to be mindful of sweet Jane who was still a little under the weather with RSV and the ear infection. One afternoon, I pulled a big comfy chair in front of the storm door so I could watch Chris and Eleanor play in the snow while I snuggled with Jane and this is what I saw...

We also made sure to get in a family movie night with hot chocolate and whipped cream.

The most fun we had though was sledding. We tried a local hill on Saturday morning, but it was sleeting/mini-hail so we were all miserable and in pain on any exposed skin. Chris ended up taking Eleanor over to our neighbors to sled on a small backyard hill.

After it stopped snowing Saturday, and since church was cancelled Sunday morning, we headed back out to the big hill Sunday morning. The sun was out so I wasn't too worried about Jane, though we did leave her in her carseat for the majority of our sledding excursion.
(Yes that is Jane being towed in her carseat behind Eleanor on the sled!)

And some videos - Jane's first sledding experience, Eleanor and Chris, and Eleanor by herself.
EBelly from Katie Stratton on Vimeo.

We've played as a family and played with friends. We had some friends over to play games during naptime Saturday afternoon and Chris went out to play poker with some guys Saturday evening. Eleanor has played with her neighborhood friends throughout the weekend, too. It's so fun having other kids her age within walking distance. What a special bond they will have.

Overall Eleanor has loved the snow except for the painful sleet experience on Saturday morning. Jane is unsurprisingly indifferent. After Christmas and New Years is over, all I wait for the rest of winter is snow! Any little bit here in Williamsburg generally gets everything shut down for a day since there is minimal plowing...so here's to more snow this season!