Month: September 2010

Maternity leave projects

Besides taking care of a semi-fussy baby (Matthew is on the fussy side of the spectrum while Steven was on the easy side… there’s no way I could have gone back to work in two weeks with Matthew the way I did with Steven), Steve and I have been able to work on a few projects while I’ve been on maternity leave…

More monkey decor for boys’ room: Earlier in the spring, Steve and I sent Steven to his grandparents’ for the weekend and renovated the boys’ room – we stripped the popcorn off the ceiling, replaced the carpet with bamboo, painted the walls, and put in new baseboard. A few days later, I painted a monkey-in-a-tree on the wall (with Steven’s initials “carved” on the tree).


Since we have over 30 stuffed monkeys, Steve and I had talked briefly about figuring out some way to suspend them from the ceiling. Steve took it into his hands to make it happen – so I guess this is technically his “maternity leave project.” Killing two birds with one stone, he trimmed our tree and then cut some of the branches to use in the room. My contribution was to suggest that he suspend the branches from the ceiling (instead of trying to secure them to the wall). We put up three branches and eleven monkeys (two/eight pictured below). Now we just have to figure out what to do with the other 20+ monkeys…



Bunk bed curtain: This was another team effort. I wanted to make a curtain for the lower part of the bunk bed so that when Matthew moved into Steven’s room, Steven would have a better chance of staying asleep during mid-night feedings and diaper changes. We bought two Kvartal single-track rails from Ikea along with four of the ceiling mounts. You can cut the rails with a hacksaw or jigsaw (Steve’s job) to attach and extend them, which is what we did because just one rail wasn’t long enough for the bunk bed. The way it worked out for us, though, one of the ceiling mounts had to go over the splice, so the ceiling mounts aren’t spaced evenly across the bunk bed. (Next time I’d cut both rails to size so that the intersection would fall in a better position.) Steve installed the ceiling mounts and rail to the bunk bed.

My job was to locate fabric that would work with the room colors and make a curtain, which I did with the mentorship of my mother-in-law (along with a piece of brown fabric for the back lining which she had on hand!). I sewed brown/blue/cream-striped fabric and brown fabric inside-out together along the edges, leaving a gap in a corner so I could turn the fabric right-side-out, then sewed the gap closed. I ironed the whole thing, pressing the edges so they were crisp, then put up the curtain using Ikea’s Riktig glider and clips. (The hooks are useless – I don’t understand why Ikea makes you buy hooks AND clips. If you want them, let me know!) Here’s the finished curtain:


And a view from the inside/back – Steven was delighted with the curtain and it works like a charm! In fact, he sleeps in about 45 minutes later on average because it’s darker with the curtain!


Office decluttering: I’ve long wanted to declutter my desk a la, and we finally made it happen! Go to his site to see the specifics of how he did it – I pretty much used the exact same materials and instructions with the exception of using zip ties to secure everything.

I actually remembered to take a “before” shot: (notice rat’s nest of cables plugs under desk)


In progress: Steve pre-drills holes for the shackles. Once again, Steve provided the power tool expertise, cutting the pegboard to size and installing the metal shackles under the desk.


After: Decluttered!


Almost everything is tied up to the pegboard with zip ties, except laptop power cords, because we move them around the house so much, and the surge protector cords themselves (didn’t think of typing them up and then was too lazy). I pretty much did this part by myself, although Steve helped me once to thread zip ties through the pegboard after I’d already gotten it up there.


Front left: cable modem (since I have to reset it so frequently!). Back left: surge protector with answering machine, telephone, and USB port plugged in. Back: “Smart” surge protector (some of the ports get powered only if my laptop is plugged in) with printer, monitor, and external hard drive plugged in, and cable modem and router in the “always on” slots. Back-right: USB port. Right: Router, also with the back side facing out so that I can easily unplug and reset. We used a cut-up wooden pencil for the dowels that go through the shackles and hold the pegboard up to the desk.


Church mural: Some of the staff at my church converted an office room into a “prayer room.” They asked me to help paint a mural on one of the walls. I opened a vector world map (slightly abstracted) in Illustrator and added a grid of lines over it, then printed it out.


Steve helped me measure and chalk lines on the wall, then I drew in the outline of the world map using chalk and started painting. Matthew joined me for the painting part and after a bit of crying, eventually fell asleep.


Steven observed and commented several times: “I yike uh pain-pain (painting).” He’s very encouraging.



Finally asleep:


There was a painting on the wall (from Cost Plus). I tried to use similar colors so that the mural would complement it:


But as an extra touch, I used gold paint as highlights, which help to catch the light and adds some extra dimension.


Next step: putting up the verse. I used a brush pen on my original map print-out to roughly sketch out the placement of the words, then used the back of the paper to work out some lettering details.


I forgot to take an in-progress picture, but I chalked out the words (a few times – I couldn’t quite get it the way I wanted the first times) and then painted them. Then I erased all the chalk. I had to do a bit of touch-up paint because the carpenter’s chalk we had used originally to grid out the map didn’t come off; you can sort of see the touch-up paint, unfortunately.


The word “waters” was done in light blue paint (picking up on the light blue accents in the painting on the wall) and then I went over it lightly with the dark paint. Similarly, I did the same thing with gold paint for “Lord.” It’s hard to tell in the picture, but the light picks up on the gold and it looks pretty cool.


I think “with the knowledge” looks a little bit awkward still, despite my best efforts, but overall I’m very pleased with how it turned out!

Oh yeah, I had a baby

A belated announcement, but we had baby Matthew on August 22, 2010! He was slightly smaller than his brother – a mere 8 lbs. 7 oz. and 20 inches long. The first three weeks were pretty difficult – Matthew was crying when he wasn’t eating and didn’t sleep very well, but I’m hoping we’ve turned a corner because the last few days have been relatively much more mellow.

Here’s the cutest picture that we have of him (a gas-induced smile, but cute nonetheless):


I’m also happy to report that older brother Steven has not shown any signs of jealousy so far. On the contrary, he loves his “small brother” (as he defines it) and has already tried to change Matthew’s diaper.

On his own.


I get back to full-time work in two weeks. I’ll still be working from home, though, so I will be taking breaks to feed Matthew and to support my full-time stay-at-home hubby. Wish him luck. 😉