Sunday, August 31, 2014

DIY: Roadside Dresser and Nightstand

It's a Wilkins thing: we like to get other people's garbage off the side of the road. What can I say, we're thrifty like that! It works out particularly well when you live in a military community with people pcsing all the time, because usually what you get isn't that bad. I got this ugly nightstand several months back when the neighbor behind me got a new bedroom set, and the ugly dresser when my friend called me and said her neighbors had put it on the curb. The dresser was actually an answer to prayer, because I'd been telling God I needed a dresser for the twins' things. There's nothing wrong with either piece, other than that they are ugly and old! After I had them for a while I finally decided on a color and I think I spent about $50 on supplies like sandpaper, paintbrush and sponge rollers, drawer pulls and spray paint, primer and paint, masks and floor plastics, etc. I wouldn't have had to spend so much but we didn't have ANY supplies for this kind of project. I also didn't take as many pictures as I should've, so bear with me!

Ugly nightstand, missing hardware.
I started by dragging the nightstand outside and sanding off the flaky paint. I started the nightstand a day before the dresser because I wasn't sure how well it would go.

The next day I took out the dresser drawers and dragged the dresser outside to work on. I have no pictures of sanding the dresser, priming, or painting any of it. But I did! The nightstand got a coat of Kilz primer (supposedly it sticks to laminate without sanding), two coats of my chosen blue paint, and two coats of Poly. All the hardware for both pieces, plus that black wrought iron lamp base, got spray painted a gloss white.

Ugly dresser before, minus the drawer I'd taken out to clean and test paint.

Lots of detail in those dresser drawers!

The ugly dresser got sanded, two coats of Kilz, two coats of blue paint, and two coats of Poly. The drawers were the awful part. They took HOURS with all those details and the "beehive" carving took a long time to cover. I sat on a stool hunched over them and my parents got to our house midway through my second coat of primer. (As it turned out, the drawers were actually plastic, the paint flaked off no matter how I tried to clean them, and the primer didn't cover very well--hence the second coat.)

This is what it looks like to be working out in 95 degrees wearing a mask!

As it turned out, dad was not thrilled that I was doing all of this so he took over finishing the drawers. (And if I remember right, he did the last coat of poly on the dresser/nightstand for me.) I'm not going to lie, I was pretty grateful not to be on the stool painting those drawers! He roped Nathan into helping him for part of it, and as you can see Shane also wanted to be involved with the boys. Thank you so much for finishing my project! It doesn't seem like that much work, but it took a lot of days with all the time I spent waiting for coats to dry and pulling furniture in and out of the house. It was surprisingly exhausting, and I didn't even do the bulk of the work on the drawers!

Finally, the finished products! Both pieces are in my room, the nightstand by my bed and the dresser full of clothes for Dani and Dean. I want to do something different with the lamp shade, but I don't know what to do to it yet. I actually think the lamp is really ugly, but it's better now that it's white.

In case you were wondering, other free roadside finds include one of those plastic outdoor play towers with the slide and little house for the kids, a shelf unit I have in the play room, two play mats for the twins, a baby seat that bolts on the back of my bicycle, two baby gates, and that's all I can remember right now. Obviously I clean everything I get, and I only take things I need. I'm not a hoarder. Sure it can be embarrassing to stop and get stuff off the side of the road, but it also helps save a lot of money. One person's trash is another person's treasure!

DIY: T-shirt to Maternity Shirt

Many many moons ago, my parents came to visit and helped me with a couple of projects. One of the things my mom did was take over my sewing project: turning my VBS volunteer shirt into a maternity shirt. I had deliberately gotten the largest size they had, and planned to cut down the top but leave the bottom large. She did it for me, using my favorite maternity t-shirt as a pattern, and it turned out to fit really well, especially in the top! 

A few weeks later, I started volunteering in the church nursery during first service and I got a church volunteer shirt. It took me several weeks to get around to it, but finally I made time to cut it down like the other one. Unfortunately I grabbed the wrong black t-shirt from my closet (I have two, one fits perfectly and the other I outgrew a month or two ago) so the top is a little too, um, fitted. But it works. Since maternity shirts are expensive and T-shirts and thread are relatively inexpensive, I thought I'd share what we did in case you'd like to make some of your own maternity shirts. Mom has since made and sent me several!

Start by laying your T-shirt out completely flat and even.

I kept getting my belly in my photos!

Then, lay your shirt that fits out on top of it. Make sure the necklines are centered and the shirts are both spread flat and evenly.

Using a sharp pair of sewing shears, or in my case use the pair that you ruined by cutting fleece, and cut along the outside edge of the shirt that fits, including the arm hole, and tapering out once you get past the bust to allow for belly growth. Don't forget your seam allowance! I actually didn't cut off all of the edge of the T-shirt, I left it connected after the point where I tapered it. (On the left of the picture, near the "m").

Fold the shirt in half, using the collar and bottom of the shirt to make sure it's even, and cut the other side off following your line. Then sew up each side. Don't sew your arm holes closed! When mom sewed mine she zig zagged along every seam she sewed, but I didn't bother.

Cut your sleeves down to size. I used the piece I cut off the armhole above to guide my inside line.

Sew the bottom of your sleeve (under your arms). I made mine really short, so I only sewed about an inch, and went back and forth a few times.

Line up your bottom seams and pin. Because I used my cut off piece to guide my new sleeve cut, the new sleeve fit perfectly. I'm not usually much of a pinner, but sleeves have some tricky curves!

Sew it up! Don't forget your seam allowance. I turned the shirt right side out and checked after I pinned and after I sewed, because I was nervous I'd done it wrong! Then I did the other sleeve and tried it on.

It might not get me on Project Runway, but it works for me! And it's better than wearing around a 3 X shirt with my sleeves down to my forearms! I wish I had take a before shot.

Friday, August 22, 2014

32 Weeks

32 weeks seems like a good number to hit. To the best of my understanding, the babies are fully developed and gaining weight at this point. They would have a really good chance of survival if they were born at this point (I am NOT hoping or wishing for that) and would likely just be in the NICU to gain weight and learn to suck/swallow/breathe.

At this point they weight about 3.75 lbs each, and should continue to gain about a half pound a week (yes, EACH) until birth. Twins often do slow down earlier than singletons though. I'm guessing they'll be between 6 and 7 pounds. What would you guess?

I was looking around the internet for some belly mapping pictures to help "show" you how the twins are situated and I found these.
My Right                                                         My Left

This is pretty close to how they are positioned. Dean, twin A, would be the presenting twin (presenting=closest to cervix) and Dani, Twin B, is the twin on my right. Her head generally feels as though it sits on my right hip. I'd also guess that Dani sits in there like this:

Right Occiput Posterior

And that Dean sits in there like this:

Left Occiput Anterior
So, pretty much exactly as is shown in the twin picture I used first. I have a lot of women ask me about movement and what it feels like. It feels exactly like having a singleton, with twice as many body parts! Similar in that they still have their wake/sleep patterns, and their preferred positions (although I'm not sure how easily they could actually switch positions at this point) but different in how many limbs move at once! I am still waiting for them to get hiccups at the same time as I imagine that will be a unique sensation! I am so thrilled that both babies are vertex and presenting well.

I'm not sure what's up with the goofy smile.

As for me, I'm doing well. I think last post I wrote was a pretty big downer but there are good days and bad days and those were some bad days all in a row. I feel bad for even complaining: I have been incredibly blessed to have a smooth, uneventful pregnancy so far. I haven't had morning sickness to speak of really, or pre-term labor, or any signs of the many other things that often go wrong in a multiple pregnancy. So I'll take my few discomforts and be glad to inhabit a body that seems to do pregnancy "well".

I have such a peace about this being my last pregnancy, and I never thought I would. I loved pregnancy the first two times, and I still enjoy a lot of parts of it this time. I thought I would really struggle and be sad knowing that it was the last time I'd get to feel a little baby squirming around in there but for now, I am completely at peace knowing I won't be doing this again. Maybe that's the unexpected blessing of extra physical discomfort! It seems to go beyond that, though, in the knowing the God is closing this childbearing chapter of my life. I know I'll miss the sweet newborn stage but I'm sure I can find somewhere to volunteer to get my "fix".

No strange fruit or veg, just cute little faces!

I've started to have some pretty funny encounters with strangers lately regarding my size. I can't even count the number of times I've clarified them as twins and gotten a relieved, "oh, I THOUGHT you were too big for one!" The best encounter I've had lately though was at the pool. I was chatting with a sweet couple and we were talking about our kids. I had just finished telling the husband how old Shane and Azaria are, when he asked if they were twins. Ahhhh, clever! I told him no, but the ones inside were! That started an amusing argument between the husband and wife about whether or not he'd guessed I was having triplets or just multiples. And for every time I've had someone tell me they don't know what they'd do if they had twins, I've probably had another person tell me how much they wanted to have twins. I find, as I've said every pregnancy, that it's best to not get offended by the awkward things people say or intro questions they ask as generally they are just looking for a way to start a conversation with you. Pregnancy and babies are something people of all ages seem to love! (Do I NEED to start singing the Circle of Life song?)

In the morning, I look bigger than I feel, and by night time, I feel bigger than I look. I haven't had any swelling in my legs, ankles, or feet, which is wonderful, and while my fingers are definitely puffy I can still get my rings on and off. My face is certainly puffier, which is annoying but just an expected part of it at this point. 

My big project this past week was to get all of my carpets cleaned, which is a huge job but it needed done desperately and I really did not want to have to do it after the twins were born. At this house it's not at simple as just cleaning the carpets though. I have to empty the room, clean the windows and wipe dirty hand marks off the walls (which I have to do all the time anyway), and THEN I can vacuum and steam. I actually go over the carpets twice because they just collect SO much dirt and grodiness. Thanks to my mother's training, I don't see any point in cleaning a floor if everything else above it is dirty. I did ignore the ceiling fans though. I'm absolutely certain they are disgusting, but I didn't look because I didn't feel it would be terribly wise to be teetering on a step stool to clean them at the point. When I did the living room, Nathan shoved the love seat into the play room and then he moved the big couch for me. I love having the little couch in the playroom! I feel like I spend so much more time playing with the kids again, so we left it there. Because the floors were such a project I didn't get much else done other than sewing a shirt, but the was probably the most physically demanding project I had left so I'm just happy to have it done! On to the three overflowing baskets of (CLEAN!) laundry I've been ignoring, the hospital bag I should start thinking about, the baby stuff I should start bringing in the house, the paperwork I need to do, and the million other things on my to do list!

Friday, August 8, 2014

29 and 30 Weeks

Woo! 30 Weeks! For some reason, 30 weeks seems so much further along than 29. At this point I know I have eight weeks left before the docs start talking induction. I don't want an induction so I'm sure I'll do my best to negotiate around it, but...if I'm being honest...I really hope I don't go past then anyway. September 28th seems like a good day to me! I'll be 37 weeks and some days. 

**Whine alert, skip for the good stuff**
Time is passing, as it has all summer, so slowly. My energy and ability to live life seems to come in spurts. Some days I can get things done. Some days I can't seem to even stand long enough to cook a decent meal, much less deal with a messy or unclean house. Yesterday afternoon I stood at the sink and cried a few self-pitying tears, as I tried to make a meal, some muffins for breakfast, and get the kitchen cleaned up, and it all seemed so utterly impossible as I stood there in the devastation of my mess of a house. I'm thinking a belly support belt would be a big help, as much of my problem seems to be the huge heaviness, the pain of the hernia, and the amount of contractions I have when I'm standing. Going for walks is also incredibly uncomfortable--the pool is only a short walk away and that takes me forever. I actually DROVE to a friend's house this morning, and it's a ten minute walk--because I only have to much energy for the day, and I didn't want to waste it on a walk. Last night I wrote a completely whiney and complaining email to my mom, wondering what I'm going to do in my last few weeks and how am I going to fail my kids at being a good mom and housekeeper and cooking anything other than cereal or a sandwich! Of course I completely regretted sending it this morning but sometimes you just feel the way you do! This morning I read a perfectly timed and encouraging verse: 2 Corinthians 12:9, "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' " Part of my discouragement, I think, is knowing that I'll be doing my last month pregnant on my own and somehow that seems even more overwhelming and difficult than doing newborns and little on my own, because at least then I'll be physically able. On the other hand, I keep telling myself that inside babies are the easiest it will ever be, and I'm getting WAY more sleep now than I will for months to come! I hate complaining and I try really really hard not to complain in real life, but at the same time I know I've combed other twin mom blogs wondering what its really like and right now, today, this moment, this is what it's really like for me. But enough venting, lets talk about the good part of life!

Sorry but no veggie or pics with the kids again, same reason. If you need a fix of the kids, you can check out my last post. At 29 weeks the twins were about he size of butternut squashes, and at 30 weeks they are supposedly the size of large cabbages. I'm not going to lie, these size comparisons seem to jump around a lot! Symptom wise things are fine. The geographic tongue I mentioned in the last update went away, and I've suddenly developed heartburn. I KNOW, I can't believe I got away without having it until so late in the game! Don't worry, I paid my dues with Shane. I got heartburn with him before I even knew I was pregnant! 

I had two appointments last week: a follow up with my endocrinologist and a full morning at the OB office. I did the three hour glucose test (AGAIN) at the doctor's and I passed. Low fasting, pretty high one hour, low two hour, below normal low three hour. In between my sticks they worked me up and did the monthly growth ultrasound on the twins. I really really liked the tech who did the U/S this time and I think I'll try to get her each time from now on out. She was so personable and friendly, and the other two techs are not no matter how hard I try.

Per the doctor, Dean is now twin A since he's lower, and Dani is twin B. That puts an end to the confusion about A and B, and they just made a note of the changed designations. As the tech was scanning nose/mouths she asked me who had the big nose in the family, because according to her Dean has a perfect pug nose that looks nothing like mine. Then she compared shots and we thought it was cute that Dani's features look so much more delicate than Dean's. Probably my favorite part was watching Dani's teeny tiny little perfect mouth take big gulps of amniotic fluid as she practices "breathing".

Dean on top, Dani on bottom
Dean is a little more spread out than his sister, and Dani is kind of curled up into Dean's neck and torso. We were able to get a nice profile of Dean but not Dani because of how she was curled into him. Dani hangs out all the way over on my right side and she's the one I often feel bulging out or have to push out of my ribs. Dean hangs out more on my midline and also more inside, if that makes sense, so I feel him but he's not quite as obvious. It's CRAZY how they both manage to hang out on my right side, and you can really see it when I have a braxton hicks. Nathan is a little creeped out by them and calls them the aliens and tells them they should spread out and take advantage of the space while they have it!


Dani is estimated to weigh 2 lbs 10 oz, and Dean is estimated to weigh 2 lb 14 oz (At 29 weeks). The tech said they usually gain about a half pound a week from now on out, as the third tri is all about gaining weight for babies. That means the would both weigh a little over 7 lbs each by 38 weeks. However, twins to tend to slow down their weight gain a little earlier than singleton babies do so that 1/2 lb a week may actually be a little less. I guess we'll find out in eight weeks! It's fun to guess though. If it helps you be a little more forgiving of my earlier whining, I'll put this to you in numbers.

I am 30 weeks pregnant. 
As of last week's visit, I measured at 37 weeks pregnant, with eight weeks still to go.
I am carrying 5+ lbs of baby (probably more like six now).
Each baby includes about ten pounds of placenta and amniotic fluid, since they both have their own of each.
That's about 25 extra pounds, which is what I've gained (I can't believe I just admitted that).

That's a lot to carry out in front!

And finally, my favorite moment of the fortnight was a ladies night out for out Women of the Chapel group! We went to eat Mexican food, and then hung out at the home of one of our ladies and played games and had microwave smores. (We were supposed to have a campfire and smores at the beach, but we got rained out).

The owner of the restaurant brought out a bunch of sombreros at the end for us all to play with and take pictures. I had to laugh when I saw this picture--I'm pretty sure my belly and the sombrero are the same size! The evening was SO much fun and just what I needed. I'm so grateful for that group of sisters!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

While Daddy's Away...

I don't know about life in any branch other than the Navy, but in the Navy before deployment sailors have to do something call underways, or workups. It's kind of like doing short practice deployments before actual deployment. Well, our family is going through our very first underway right now, and the kids don't really understand why Daddy isn't home yet. They are used to him being gone overnight sometimes when he has duty, but they are spoiled in that they are used to him being around most of the time. I guess Shane is too young to remember when we lived in Texas and Daddy was gone for weeks at a time, but he knows now and asks me often how many "sleeps" Daddy will be gone. Azaria doesn't seem to realize that he isn't here, or maybe she just doesn't have the words to express it. I was trying to think of ways to help them understand, and I remembered about a favorite from my childhood--paper chains! They're not just for Christmas, yo!

We started with a pile of markers and bingo dot painters and some big pieces of scrap paper. When they got tired of making art, we moved on to cutting. I drew lines on the paper for them, and figured it would be good cutting practice for Shane. 

This was Azaria's first time using scissors! She cut for a few minutes and then tried to cut her hair. Sigh, how predictable. Shane LOVES cutting--I think something about being destructive and not getting in trouble for it appeals to him. He did a pretty good job of cutting on the lines, and he cut them all even though he said his hand was tired.

While the kids colored and cut, I used my favorite homemade stain remover on a pile of stained clothes. I'm not sure how it happened, but some of my stored baby clothes seemed to develop stains while in storage. And then of course the already-born kids get stains on their clothes on a regular basis. This stuff is like magic--it even gets dryer set in stains out!

Once we had all the strips colored and cut, I counted up "sleeps" and then we stapled the chain together.

One paper chain, ready to go on the wall!

Azaria got to have the first turn ripping off a night. Also, this picture proves that my children actually DO own clothing!

And that's that! We can't wait to see you, Daddy!