Birch and I started out by painting the new apartment almost immediately after moving in. Birch comes from a family very in tune with allergies and sensitive skin, so my father-in-law's first words of advice were, "Paint now so the fumes dissipate before the baby comes." (I'm paraphrasing, of course.) So, the nursery was the first to be painted. Choosing colors was difficult, mostly because Birch is color blind so getting his opinion on very subtle differences between Lemon Sorbet yellow and Canary yellow was a challenge. We chose Lemon Sorbet (which, of course, led to me also buying some actual lemon sorbet because it sounded really, really good back during those hot days in July).
Then came the graph paper. I measured the room and marked it all down, making sure to take note of the window's width and height as well as it's distance from the floor (no tall bookcases can go there). In fact, no tall bookcases period. With the set-up prepared I thought of themes and talked them over with Birch. We settled on a Carnival theme which really just turned into a Bright Colors and Chaos theme. I mean, that's all that a carnival is, right? Oh, and animals!
Surprisingly, IKEA provided many of the textiles with curtains
and crib bedding adorned with banner flags, drums, and stylized animals galore. I immediately put these IKEA finds on our Amazon Baby Registry using my new favorite thing: the Add to Amazon Wishlist toolbar button. It's amazing, you can go to any site you want, click that button, and save whatever items you wish to one wishlist. When you click on that product from Amazon it takes you to the original site where you can buy the item. Fantastic. Thank you Amazon!
As I battled with morning sickness and exhaustion, I put in-bed time to good use with some quality online window shopping. Taking note of the measurements of curtains, bookcases, standard cribs, and changing tables. My boss, Julia, is an organizational wiz and helps people in the area organize their spaces. This was an incredible resource. At the time I was working with her son who is somewhere on the Autism spectrum and when he wanted alone time to check how the Giants were doing, I pilfered Julia's Bookcase of Glory with all kinds of interior design books. My favorite was one in particular (I can't remember the title or author at the moment) that talked about allowing your child to be a part of the design process of their room. It was a really fascinating book with tons of interesting ideas to make a room unique to your child and it's needs. Obviously, Keats isn't even born yet, so he doesn't have much of a say at this point, but it made me think about aspects I'd never thought of before and gave me some really exquisite ideas that both brighten up a room and utilize much needed space (especially in an apartment). First off, I decided to take the doors off of the 10'x2' closet (I know, right?) which extended the room a bit. On one side, I planned a space for a reading nook with a small couch or chaise lounge and on the other side, I planned a space for the changing table. Countertop lighting (also courtesy of IKEA) will be useful here placed under the shelf that extends the whole length of the closet. With 6' tall cubical bookcases placed horizontally instead of vertically, I created more storage space and a much safer environment for Keats to play and roam in. A few sheets of graph paper later, I had the perfect set-up with both baby-accessible and inaccessible storage and plenty of floor space for playing with toys and getting dressed.
To be honest, I'm not sure which part was more fun, the graph paper planning or the Etsy goodies finding. After a family housewarming party, my sister-in-law suggested that I make interior design and organization a part-time career! This really hit home with me as something I'd really, really, really enjoy doing. I wonder what kind of schooling is required for a gig like that? I'd at least like to take some graphic design classes to perfect my 3-D depictions of my bird-eye views. Currently, they leave a bit to be desired.
So now I was searching for art, toys, clocks, clothes, shoes, mobiles, and whatever else randomly crossed my path that just happened to be perfect. As usual, Etsy was basically a one-stop and window shop, and in some cases, a breaking down and buying stop. I mean, some stuff you just can't risk letting someone else buy before you get a chance at it. ;)
I came across a painting I just couldn't resist. (http://www.etsy.com/shop/amberalexander)
Amber Alexander creates beautiful paintings and I'd love to have every single one, but as a first purchase, this one stole my heart. "The Bear" was the perfect recreation of a game I made up with my great friend Leif one night at John Henry's Farm, Huggy Bears, that quickly spread to John Henry, my sister Suzie, and then inevitably, to my nephew Soren who at the time was particularly attached to me and thought this game was pretty much the greatest thing ever. Huggy Bears is just squeezing each other as hard as you can without hurting each other for as long a period of time as you can stand. Soren and I extended this to Huggy Heads which basically consists of just rubbing our foreheads, noses, chins, and in general, heads together while laughing and saying "Huggy Heads!" over and over again. So, without hesitation, I bought this print from the greatly talented Amber and framed it with an exquisitely purple frame from 2 Dogs Wood Working, (http://www.etsy.com/shop/2DogsWoodWorking).
These wonderful framers use all kinds of repurposed woods and are more than happy to do custom orders. I highly recommend checking them out for all your
framing needs. I certainly do. Amber is a genius at creating whimsical portraits of animals dressed, socializing, and looking rather gallant, and I am truly in love with all her portraits of women "wearing" live animals, like her "Groundhog Hair."
Ideas for nursery greatness flowing, "whozits and whatzits galore," I picked out several items from different shops, resulting in over one hundred pages of "Favorites." Some to purchase, some to inspire and create my own versions, and some to place on that wishlist or merely to save for later, because I've got to stay within my montly Etsy budget. Yes, I actually have a montly Etsy budget. An "overdraft" one month means a smaller purchase the next month, but as I've said before, buying from Etsy just feels so good!
So, as I expand my fabric collection to start my own projects, awaiting the right moment to snap up a sewing machine, I delve into the fabric arts online.
(From left to right: Turquoise Rainbow Love Heart by I Love Hearts, http://www.etsy.com/shop/ilovehearts; Changing Mat Lolly by Holly Chic, http://www.etsy.com/shop/hollychic; Pond Life Musical Felt Mobile by Pink Perch, http://www.etsy.com/shop/PinkPerch; and the Children Wall Felt Clock by Evgie, http://www.etsy.com/shop/evgie).
I'm sure the layout will continue to morph, the items rearranged and reconsidered, and the theme tested and reevaluated, just as I'm sure my eye will continue to fall on "The Balancing Acrobat"
by Julie McCullough of Magic Threads Dolls(http://www.etsy.com/shop/magicthreadsdolls) until I build up the steam to purchase him in all his $70 glory, obviously to be used as decoration and not a toy (at least not until Keats is much older). Imagining and creating the nursery has been my favorite part about being pregnant and after my rant the other day, I feel even more determined to concentrate on this, my favorite thing, as I strive to enjoy pregnancy and its many amusing discomforts.
With that, one last paragraph to express my extreme gratitude to my friend Miriam. She is pregnant, too, (exactly eight weeks ahead of me) and has been a salvation to my sanity these last several months. We discuss and laugh about all the embarrassing details that the world at large refuses to discuss (or warn you about), and we laugh at our men who in their turn commiserate and celebrate together only as two men drinking a "few" beers together can do. Our dogs play together and recognize the routes to each others' abodes. Olive stands up and sticks her head out the window once we hit Highway 9, wagging her tail ferociously, realizing that this windy forty-minute drive was not just for our amusement and her torture but to visit her best friend in the whole wide world, a mutt named Kegel. Yep, you read that right. Miriam and I have been best friends for... gosh, eleven years? Twelve? How old am I again... ah yes, twenty-four, so yeah, eleven years. We've lived together, passed notes in class, driven cross-country together, and now we're having children "together." So Miriam, thank you for ALWAYS being there for me, for teaching me how to let go, how to accept myself, how to lose myself, and most of all, how to be myself. I love you! Here's to the rest of our lives and forcing our kids to love each other as much as we do!