Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Lyla & Archer Go Swimming

I think both Lyla and Archer's favorite part of each day is bath time.  As soon as we lay them on the floor of the bathroom, they are instantly happy and pumped for their baths.  So Adam and I thought taking them swimming would be right up their alley.  We're lucky that the place Adam's mom lives has a pool.  (Thanks for sharing, Nana Janet!)  So we bundled up the babies on this chilly day and decided to take them swimming!  My parents were in town so we brought them along too.

The pool was heated, as was the building the pool was located in.  It was nice and toasty in that building, which was perfect for Lyla and Archer to finish up their naps.  (Side note: I'm so jealous of Lyla's lush eyelashes.)


Look at that cute boy.  He's very serious about his sleep.  


While the babies were wrapping up their naps, we all took turns getting changed into our swimsuits.  I got a new one-piece mom suit to keep the abundance of stretch marks all over my belly under wraps.  But don't worry...it didn't have a skirt.  Though I'm not knocking skirted swimsuits.  

When the babies woke up, they were quite perplexed about where they were.  They looked all around and you could tell they were trying to figure out where they were and what we were doing.  So we got them all ready to go swimming.  We put on their swim diapers and swimsuits.  Lyla wore one of my swimsuits from when I was a baby, thanks to Grandma keeping it around.  Archer wore a swimsuit that was kindly given to him as a gift when he was born by one of my mom's co-workers.  (Thanks, Janet!)  They both looked adorable!  Here's proof:   


I must say, I enjoy having babies to hold in front of me when wearing a swimsuit.  They come in quite handy.  


We eased them into the water and you could see them trying to figure out what the heck was going on.  They kept looking around.  Eventually they realized they were in a giant bathtub and started to enjoy themselves.  Lyla started splashing with her hands.  It was so cute!  She would splash and get water on her face, which she typically isn't a fan of during her baths.  She would gasp and act all surprised.  Then she'd splash again.  After a few minutes she got used to the water being on her face and didn't even seem to mind.    


Archer was content to splash and kick to his heart's desire.  He loved the water!  He definitely didn't mind the water in his face.   


It was such a fun time with the babies!  Along with it being a new adventure for the babies, it gave Adam and I a glimmer of all the fun that's in store.  We've spent most of our time at home because it was such a chore to take the babies anywhere.  The planning and packing that was required to go anywhere was exhausting and just didn't seem worth the effort when they were little.  Plus, they both did so much screaming in their early days.  They both have definitely mellowed out as they've gotten older, they don't have to eat every hour and they actually seem to enjoy new environments.  I can't wait to explore even more new experiences with our babies!    


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Six Months!

I can hardly believe Adam and I have managed to keep our babies alive and well for half a year already!  Where does the time go?  Even Archer seems to be baffled by the fact that he is six months old already. 


They are both getting to be so much fun!  Their little personalities are really shining through.  It's also been fun to see them interact with one another more so these days.  They love to look at each other and touch each other's faces.  They also like to take toys away from each other.  This may not bode well for the future!    


Lyla is super observant.  You can just see the wheels turning in her head when she looks things over.  She is into taking off her socks so she can suck on her toes.  She puts everything in her mouth and drools constantly.  She also likes to reach for things and grab whatever she can get her hands on.  She also likes to bang her toys around and drop them on the ground, which is cute the first three or so times she does it. 


Miss Lyla is a napping champ and takes her naps in her crib during the day.  She doesn't put up a fight generally and goes right to sleep as soon as she puts her thumb in her mouth.  Lyla likes to eat all sorts of baby food and is a pretty tidy eater.  She is generally happy these days, because I think her reflux is finally under control.  She is a fan of jumping in the Johnny Jump Up and our dance parties each afternoon.  She loves her cheeks kissed and laughs really big when she gets tickled.  I generally end up crying when she laughs because it's just so gosh-darned sweet!  


Archer got his first tooth!  It's pretty exciting, though he's been super cranky.  As soon as it popped through, he's been more chill.  He's really into talking these days, especially at 3 in the morning.  When he wakes up from his naps, he's content to just chat to himself for a bit.  Archer is a big fan of solids and hasn't met a food he doesn't like.  He likes to move his hands around and is mesmerized that he can make them move on his own!  He reaches his little arms up when he wants me to pick him up, which I adore!  


He likes to snuggle with me and have his cheeks smooched.  He's got jumping down in the Johnny Jump Up and loves to lounge in his baths.  His new favorite thing to do is roll onto his belly and then get angry that he's on his belly.  Silly boy.   He likes to feel everything, especially the back of the couch.  He's gotten really good at sitting with some help from us.  It's funny to watch him try to sit up in his Rock N' Play after a nap.  I can see his little head bobbing up and down.    


Both babies can scoot a bit while on their tummies, especially if they have something to brace their feet on.  They also like to pivot around on their bellies like slow-moving breakdancers.  When I go from the living room to the kitchen to wash my hands after changing their diapers, I'm always amazed at where I find them when I come back.  They're rarely where I left them.  I am equal parts excited and terrified for the crawling stage.  I think I'm busy now, but chasing after them will be a whole new kind of busy!  


I love these sweet knuckleheads so very much!  Their smiles light up my days (and nights).  Their little arms wrapped around my neck let me know I'm doing something right.  And their giggles make me cry every single time.  Man, am I lucky!  

Friday, January 26, 2018

DIY Growth Ruler

This past weekend, Adam and I actually got to work on a project together!  It was so much fun to work together and create something beautiful for our home.  The kids cooperated and we were able to finish up what Adam started a little while ago.  We now have a gorgeous growth ruler to keep track of Archer and Lyla's heights as they grow up.

When Archer and Lyla were born, Adam quickly realized he wouldn't have the time he used to have to work on projects.  At least not until they get a bit older and more self-sufficient.  You know, when they are teenagers and want nothing to do with us.

But until then, we settled on working on a project that wouldn't take a lot of time and could be something for the kids.  We decided to make a growth ruler to keep track of how much Archer and Lyla grow each year.

The first step was to find the perfect board to use as our ruler.  So back in November, we took the kids to Metro Hardwoods to pick out a board that would work for the project.  Adam loves this place because they have all kinds of wood, both generic and exotic.  He was very happy to introduce his babies to the wonderful world of lumber.


After perusing the store we ended up picking out a piece of hickory.  We chose it because it was less expensive than other boards since only two sides of it were finished.  The other two unfinished sides just gave the piece a little more rustic charm, which is what we were after.  It had some pretty knots and the grain pattern was nice.  We loaded the board up in our car and took it home.

When Adam had some free time, he sanded down the board to take down some of the roughness.  Then he planed the board with a bench plane to smooth it out even more.  The final step of preparing the board was a final sanding.

Once the board was prepared, Adam used a General Finishes Gel Stain in Nutmeg.  We wanted a finish that was a rich color and would let the wood grain shine through, yet be light enough for the ruler marks to show.  Nutmeg did the trick.  So Adam put one coat of the Nutmeg on and let it dry a nice long while, as in months, before moving onto the next step.


Adam researched several different methods for putting the ruler tick marks and numbers on the board.  One method involved taping off the parts you wanted tick marks and numbers and then spray painting it.  Or another method involved using a Sharpie or painting on the tick marks and numbers.  I vetoed the taping method because it looked like it would take forever.  And we both agreed using a Sharpie or paint wouldn't result in a very professional finish.  So we took the route of ordering a vinyl kit from a company called Little Acorns.  We chose the Traditional Style in Jumbo Numbers.


Once the kit arrived, we looked over the directions and things seemed to be pretty straightforward and simple.  The directions were very clear and helped you figure out where to start the measurements on your board while also keeping how high off the ground you will be hanging your ruler in mind.  Basically, you just peel off the paper backing, stick on the vinyl transfer paper, rub the paper with a credit card to get it to adhere and then peel off the transfer paper.  Simple as that!  

So we brought the board into the entryway to work on the project inside.  Adam put down a canvas drop cloth so we wouldn't have to worry about the floor or the board getting boogered up.  Of course Jazzy had to come scope out the project and make sure we were doing things up to her high standard.  


Once the board was inside, we worked on laying out the measurements so we would know exactly where to apply the vinyl.  The tick marks of the ruler came in foot-length sections.  This made it easier to work with the vinyl and keep things just so.  There was a little bit of eye-balling involved and Adam had a hard time with this idea, being the fan of precise measurements that he is.  But I managed to talk him through it, as I am a pro at eye-balling during projects. 


Once we had our measurements marked on the board, it was time to add the vinyl.  We laid everything out before we started to make sure it would all look right.  After all the vinyl was laid out, we noticed that our board was longer than the kit provided measurements and numbers for.  Bummer!  We threw around a few ideas.  We could of just cut off part of the top of the board, but that would involve restaining the portion that was cut and then waiting for it to try before hanging it up and all that jazz.  We talked about adding an "A & L" to the top, but vetoed that idea since we would have to paint it and didn't want the paint to look sloppy next to the clean lines of the vinyl.  So I happen to look at the website we ordered the kit from and noticed that we could just order another foot of tick marks and the number 7.  Sold!  So I ordered it and was happy we solved our problem so easily.  


In the meantime, we decided to add the vinyl that we did have and hang it up.  We didn't want it laying around in our entryway while we waited for the new order to arrive.  So we followed the directions to add the tick marks and numbers.


It was super satisfying to peel off the transfer paper to reveal the tick marks and numbers stuck to the board.  I was in charge of this portion of the project and loved it!  Adam kindly pointed out how the number 2 is ever so slightly crooked.  Good eye, Adam, good eye.  But the vinyl was not going any so, c'est la vie.  I told him it just adds to the charm. 


Once the vinyl was stuck on, it was time to hang the ruler on the wall.  Of course the place I wanted it to hang didn't have any studs to attach it to.  I wanted it to hang on this little sliver of wall on the opposite side of the dining room wall.  But Adam was able to attach it using some drywall anchors.   


He did his careful measuring to figure out the perfectly centered place for it to hang.  He held it in place while I drilled it into place.  We decided to just drill straight through the board into the wall.  It's pretty heavy and we didn't want to risk it falling, especially when the babies start pulling up on things.  The drywall anchors worked like a charm and that sucker isn't going anywhere!    


Once the board was up on the wall, I used a little black acrylic paint and a tiny paintbrush to paint the screws black.  The black screws look better with the black vinyl than the shiny chrome screws would have looked.


We worked on most of the project while Archer and Lyla were napping.  But when they woke up, they were happy to help Jazzy supervise.  


Once the extra foot of tick marks and number 7 arrived, I put them on the top of the ruler.  Now we are covered in case our kids grow to be 7 feet tall.  

The final step was to decide how to mark their heights on the board.  We opted to use an arrow with their name and the date.  It was a little scary writing down their birth heights!  I had to use a Sharpie and didn't want to botch our beautiful new project!  But luckily I had a steady hand and Adam held a ruler so I could get the arrows straight.  Our plan is to record their heights on their birthday each year.  


I love this project so much!  First of all, it means we have two beautiful babies whose heights we get to record each year.  Secondly, Adam and I got to work on a project together, which is something we love to do and haven't gotten the opportunity to do lately.  I think it turned out beautifully and definitely makes me smile whenever I pass by it in the hall.  


Keep on growing, Lyla and Archer!