Category Archives: Furniture

Thirty-six weeks. Birth and baby preparations.

I’m 36 weeks pregnant today.

That’s rather a milestone, because Arizona law only “officially” allows home births between 36-42 weeks.  So, I’m IN!!

In general, I’m not feeling miserable.  Well, I kind of am…  And part of me thinks that must be my age (I’ll be 40 next month!), but another part of me well-remembers the last weeks of pregnancy with my first, at age almost-24, and I think that, perhaps, I was even MORE miserable than I am now.  So, I can’t blame it on age.  Really, I just don’t enjoy pregnancy.  My body resists it, and all the more so as the birth approaches.

I do enjoy the birth itself — so satisfying, so joyful! — and I adore having a newborn.

I’m not going to have a water birth.

It’s kind of funny, because with most of the home birth pics I see — like on the ever-encouraging Birth Without Fear — inevitably, they’re of a vernix-coated brand-newborn being pulled straight from the water into the mother’s waiting hands.  And I just don’t… want that.  I don’t know why, exactly.  I just don’t.  Every time I’ve had the opportunity to labor in a tub — with all but one of my five previous births — I have gladly done so.  And I do envision myself in labor in my swimming pool and in a bathtub here in my home.  But, birthing in the water?  I just don’t want to.  Part of me feels like I should have a birthing pool on hand, just in case.  But, I have successfully, joyfully birthed five children while NOT in the water, and I think I’d feel a lot more comfortable doing the same with baby #6.  I don’t like the feeling of NOT feeling… grounded while in the water.  My midwife and her assistant (who is a friend of mine — a doula training to be a midwife) assures me that, with a rebozo (basically just a long, cotton shawl), they could wrap/loop it around me in such a way that I wouldn’t feel like I was floating away.  But that makes me feel even more twitchy — having fabric looped all around my body and two women holding it while I push out a baby.  I don’t want that… much touching me.  And I’m just not a fan of plastic touching me, either.  A rented pool is a blow-up plastic pool with a thin plastic liner.  Not a fan of the plastic-to-skin sensation.  No, thank you.

Plus, the pool rental is another $100 that I’d rather not spend, and my husband is worried about the second story of our home successfully supporting that much weight — and WET weight, at that — in the corner of our bedroom.

So, a birth pool is out.

For other baby-preparations…

Friends have POURED out love and blessing and baby stuff on us.  I’ve received:

  • A gorgeous crib.  (Actually, two of them.  I’m going to give one away.)
  • The first six months of clothing — really, really nice clothing from a friend whose baby girl was born in August of last year.  She works for a mall development company and I’m confident she spends WAY more time shopping at WAY nicer stores than me…  Plus, she has two boys and her family was thrilled that she had a baby girl, and of course, everyone gave clothes.  And she has passed them all down to me.  And we’re going to meet up soon and she’s going to give me a Boppy (which I love), a breast pump, and some other items, too.
  • A really nice car seat.
  • A bouncy seat.
  • Baby toys.
  • A play pen.
  • Some cloth diapering supplies.
  • Some baby linens — like bath towels and blankets.

The bassinet bumper is made from this cloth, edged in the chocolate brown of the leaves and stems, and tied with yellow grosgrain ribbon.

I already owned a nice, big, rocking, oak bassinet.  I purchased it second-hand when Fiala (who is now 4.5 years old) was not yet born, and it has been making the rounds, so to speak, ever since.  I’m kicking myself for not having all the mothers who have borrowed it write their baby’s names in pencil with the dates the bassinet was used.  I think the count is at seven.  Seven babies who have slept in that bassinet between the birth of my four-year-old and this new baby.  I think that is such a rich, sweet history.  And now, the bassinet has come back to me from the most recent baby (born in November) who had it…  Along with the bumper I made for a friend who used it for HER little girl, who will be four in August.  It’s still in great shape, still super-cute.

All I have purchased are:

  • More cloth diapering stuff.
  • A pail liner for said cloth diapers.
  • Another wet bag (a friend already gave me one) for cloth diapers on-the-go.
  • A diaper bag.
  • A Moby wrap.

And with all of that, I have spent less than $200.

For diapers, I have purchased all-in-ones, pocket-diapers, prefolds, diaper covers…  I have nearly enough diapers and supplies to last from newborn until potty-training.  Craigslist is a GREAT source for cloth diapers.  Thankfully, cloth diapering is quite trendy right now.  However, countless mothers have spent HUNDREDS of dollars on pricey, new cloth diapers, tried it for a week or two, and freaked out and decided to stop cloth diapering.  Then, they offer their nearly-new stash on Craigslist for 10-50% the cost of new.  And I come in and scoop everything up, happily.  🙂  There are also die-hard cloth diapering moms who keep meticulous care of their cloth diaper supplies and have great items to sell — even if they’re older — that have been so well-cared-for that they’re worth buying.  I’ve also purchased a number of diapering items from eBay.  I’m still bidding on some more infant-sized prefolds…  And I still need a few additional items, but I’ll still probably end up spending just under $200.

And that’s even with my pricey diaper bag.

NOTE:  I am so NOT trendy.  I’m really not.  I have zero interest in being a stylish, hot mom who uses her baby as a public indication of her ability to spend loads of money on the best, most expensive brands.

So, on one hand, I’m kind of embarrassed about my Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag.  This brand, in “touring” style I purchased, retails for around $150.  Discontinued fabrics — such as the one I purchased — can be found for $75-105, typically.  That just seems so, so, so pricey.  Like, ridiculously so.

Darling.  The colors.  The birds.  The fact that it’s real, woven houndstooth.  I love it.

On the other hand, I absolutely ADORE my new diaper bag.  I adore it.  I can’t wait until it arrives.   I bought it used, for about $40, and I literally cried with joy.  Though it is a fraction of the cost of a new bag, it still seems crazy-expensive to me.  But, once I saw that diaper bag…  I just felt like I had to have it.  Me, the immensely practical, pragmatic, penny-pinching mother of almost-six, “had to have” a $40 diaper bag.  And I was willing to spend more!  Ack!!

I consoled myself that I had been so frugal with my other purchases, and overall, have spent so little for this baby, that the $40 was justifiable.  😀  It’s my one baby-splurge.

So… with me now being 36 weeks, and with procuring — in one way or another — almost all of my baby supplies, I’m feeling almost-ready for the baby to come.  She could come any day and we’d at least not be in a panic, though everything is not quite ready…

 

 

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A guitar, a crib, a dashboard, and a book club (reflections on a year in a small, weekly home group)

The school year is winding down.

Among other things, that means the small group I’ve attended for the last 9 months or so will come to a close, too*.

A few reflections on “my” group this year:

  1. As a worship leader, I don’t get to pick my group.  Each August, I hear chatter between friends, “Whose group are you thinking about going to this year?  What night is it?  Whose house is it at?  Who is the leader?  Wanna go together??”  That sort of thing.  I don’t get to participate in those conversations.  I go where I’m assigned.  That’s good news and bad news.  If there is someone who goes to a group who is a particular friend of mine, it’s totally by coincidence.  I’m often assigned to groups that I wouldn’t have personally chosen, for one reason or another.  BUT… that also means that, each year, I get to grow closer to a bunch of people who, even if I wouldn’t have chosen them for myself, God has chosen them for me!!  He knows what I need, even when I don’t.  It seems that, usually, God uses that year’s group to challenge me…  God knows that I need stretching and growth in a particular area, and proclaims to me, “Here is your opportunity!  And you can’t escape it!  Hahahaha!”  Yes, I envision God laughing at me like that.  He has a funny sense of humor.  However, this year, the group I’ve been in has been such… comfort to my heart.  Such comfort.  It is filled with thoughtful, caring, tender people, whose hearts overflow with love.  Usually, during ministry time, toward the end of our time together, I am playing my guitar, covering the environment, praying or singing over the interactions taking place in front of me.  In all my past groups, I’d rarely be the recipient of prayer.  I’m totally OK with that.  But, it has blessed me to tears that virtually every week, someone will come over and lay their hand on my shoulder and quietly speak a prayer of blessing and encouragement over me…  I feel un-forgotten.
  2. A family in my group this year has gone through something I can’t even imagine.  It has rent my heart.  For the past three years, they have fostered a baby since he was only a few weeks old.  Initially, they thought (due to the proclamations of the mother) that they were blood-related to this baby.  They didn’t find out until the baby was two, I believe, that he was actually of no blood relation.  However, they have loved and cared for him and cherished him as the son of their heart.  This past year, a distant blood relation of the child decided that they wanted the boy.  And, in what was a blow to all of us, the courts decided in favor of the distant blood relative, rather than in favor of the parents this baby has had for literally his entire life.  The mother approached me a few weeks ago…  “When he goes to live with his new family, I’d like you to have his crib for your new baby, if you want it.”  That killed me.  My heart has been so knit to this family through their struggle to keep their little boy…  And the crib is REALLY NICE.  Really nice.  I’m sure they could sell it on Craigslist and recoup some of the money spent.  But, they’d rather I have it.  They said they’d be honored.  Oh, my Lord.  *I* am honored.  The day their son went to live with his new, permanent family, about a week and a half ago, they brought the crib to my home.  So very, very bittersweet.  ~sigh~  But that crib will now be a reminder to me of that little boy who, in my estimation, should still be with the parents who raised him for more than three years.  It will be a physical reminder to pray for him, far away now…  And to pray for the parents whose hearts have been broken and broken and broken over this.
  3. On a few occasions, our group takes the opportunity to bring food and ministry to various families in need in our local area.  The last time was almost two weeks ago.  I was with a group of four others.  Usually, we have names and addresses and specific people expecting to receive us.  This past time, though, we were just sent out with bags of groceries and instructed to just pray about where to go.  The group I was in went to an apartment complex.  However, after walking around (up and down stairs) for about 30 minutes, I started having contractions and I could feel my ankles swell rapidly.  So, a man in the group and I went back to someone’s car to sit while the others finished.  This man had had a stroke five years ago and doesn’t walk well, himself.  So, we sat in the car and chatted.  I asked him all sorts of questions about his past, his stroke, his recovery, his relationships…  I kept asking and he kept talking.  It was a lovely evening, with cool breezes wafting through the open windows of the vehicle.  I kept thinking, “This is such a treasure.”  It’s hard to explain, but I had the thought, “Would I normally have 30 minutes to sit down and chat with a 60-something man?  No.  Would we ever go out to coffee together?  No.  But is this so valuable, such a blessing to the both of us??  Yes.”  Once again, it was like God saying, “I know what you need, I know what he needs, and I’m going to use this little opportunity that wouldn’t arise any other way to knit your hearts together.”  And I just kept thinking, “THIS is what being the Body of Christ is about.  THIS IS IT.  This is Church life.  This is what God does.”  He brings us into deeper and more sincere relationship, often with people we would not have chosen for ourselves to be our “buddies” but in the end, it turns out to be JUST what we needed.  God is smart like that.  🙂
  4. Lastly, I have been part of a small book club for… five years I think it has been.  Our group started out with eight women, all from “my” church.  As time has progressed, about half of us no longer go to the same church, but the group has persisted.  However, a couple of women have moved out of state, and one more is heading imminently in that direction, and on Saturday, those who remain had a little discussion:  “Whom should we invite to join us?”  And I was delighted to suggest a woman who is in my small group.  I just know she’ll be a good fit for our small group of diverse, thoughtful women who meet every other month to discuss a book which has (as is our goal) “Good Art + Good Message.”  We’ve read a great range of fiction and non-fiction, contemporary works and classics, poetry, memoirs, novels, and more.  The thing is this:  This particular woman whom I offered as a potential member, up to the other ladies…  Well, I NEVER would have known her, if it hadn’t been for small group.  We’re of much different ages, we don’t typically relate in the same circles of people…  We’re just in different walks of life.  But, after going to small group with her on Thursday nights, I know she is insightful, humorous, kind, and thinks deeply.  I very, very likely wouldn’t have discovered that, had it not been for small group.  And I look forward to getting to know her better through the book club.  And it’s good for HER, too.  We all want to be known.  We all want to be wanted.  We all need friendship.  We all long to be noticed and appreciated…

So, once again, I find myself thankful for my God, who knows what I need — and even what I want — well before I do.  And He is kind enough to set me up to “discover” it for myself.  He gives me those things, like gifts…  And I am sincerely thankful for His care over me.

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*My church has small home groups that meet throughout the school year, and then summers typically see a variety of special classes or Bible studies that last 2-8 weeks

I am so cheap…

My son Wesley has been in desperate need of a dresser/chest of drawers.  I looked into a few of them new…  Lordy.  $200, $300, more…  We can’t do that.  I wouldn’t WANT to do that.  I was willing to spend $40-ish, but found one on Craigslist that was only $20.

On Saturday, my husband and I worked on it:  I washed it down and used furniture polish on it, Martin used finish nails and a staple gun to fix the hardware where the drawers slide in, and to stabilize one of the drawers.  It felt good, working together, in the garage.  Industrious.  Team work.  🙂

Today, I further enforced one drawer with wood glue, and lined the four drawers with clear contact paper, and it’s now in place in Wesley’s room, with his old dresser listed on Freecycle (there probably won’t be any takers, because I was honest about what poor condition it was in).

It’s not a perfect dresser, but I think it’s definitely worth twenty bucks and some elbow grease.

Feels good!

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Our weekend (or, The Pack Rat Adventure)

About ten years ago, my mom and stepdad bought a shack on two amazing acres of wooded, bouldered mountainside, with a intermittent creek running between the house and their own small meadow, in the mountain village of Crown King, a former silver mining town, accessible only by an hour+ drive over switchback-filled dirt road.

They bought it for the property itself, fully intending on rebuilding, because the “house” was, truly, a shack — literally covered in tar paper, falling apart at the seams.  It was built, so my understanding is, as a bunkhouse for itinerant cowboys, in the 1930s, but don’t quote me on that.  Its only redeeming feature was a huge native stone fireplace, and the lot itself.

They started remodeling it about seven years ago…  Zoning and regulations and inspections were a BEAR to deal with, so in order to keep it as a “remodel” and not a total rebuild, they had to retain one wall of the original structure.  So, they did.  The wall they kept was about 15 feet wide and 7.5 feet high, and they totally encased it in new material.  They also kept the fireplace and the concrete slab of the original structure.  They entirely altered the home, turning it from about a 700 s.f. structure into a 1600 s.f. house.  It’s primarily constructed from SIPS panels, and was designed by my dear husband.

What they didn’t foresee, though, that it would be seven years later, and they’re still not entirely done.  A big part of the problem is that it’s hard to find skilled, reliable workmen, either locally, or willing to make the trek up the mountain from Phoenix or Prescott.  Neither do they have any construction skills or knowledge themselves, and they are both pretty limited, physically.  Add to that is the fact that their first construction foreman misspent much of their money, and had such a poor reputation in town that many people would not work for him.  He was a friend of my parents’;  they had no idea how shallow ran his character.  Once that hard lesson was learned, and that relationship, unfortunately, totally abandoned, construction proceeded much more quickly, but “quickly” is a relative term.  My brother-in-law, Adam, took over much of the construction, and though he did great work for a while, he moved to Colorado a couple of years ago…  Now, my mom & stepdad have a local guy overseeing the construction, and he’s the best resource they’ve yet had, both in terms of trustworthiness, skill, and knowing the locals.

The house, finally, is habitable, with a toilet that flushes, and a kitchen with working appliances.  Some of the interior finishes aren’t done, like door trim and floor covering, and there is no proper furniture in it, save a dining room table.  But it’s now a HOUSE.

After I threw my back out horribly, and we had to cancel our camping plans, we decided to take my parents up on their offer of spending the weekend at the cabin.

I wish I had pics.  This was the first vacation of any sort that we’ve ever taken where I don’t have pictures.  My camera is still with my dad (who is attempting to fix it), and the battery ran out on my phone (and I don’t have a car charger, and didn’t bring my wall charger).  Bummer.

Each of the three mornings we spent on their lovely, huge deck in the cool air, sipping coffee, listening to the birds chirp, Sibley guide and binoculars nearby, and being slow about making breakfast.

Nighttimes, we spent ’round the table, playing cards and watching the pack rats poke their heads out of holes in the fireplace.

My mom was MORTIFIED.  She’s not the sort to be mortified.  A good 99% of the time, she doesn’t really give a rip what other people think — which can be good and bad.  She’s very independent in action and thought.  But, when the pack rats showed up…  well, there’s nothing like a 12+” rodent to make your heart drop into your stomach, especially when everyone is sleeping on air mattresses on the floor, even if that rodent isn’t as evil-looking as a normal rat.

During the remodel, beams that supported the roof of the original structure of the house were removed.  Two of them had rested in the rock and mortar of the fireplace, and upon their removal, left two gaping holes which, apparently, pack rats found.  We think they had worked their way up from a small root cellar, displacing small rocks, and chewing through insulation and the expanding foam sealant that had been put in the gaps between the wood floor and the fireplace.

The second day we were there, after my husband and stepdad, Joe, sealed the gap that had previously been filled with foam with decidedly less-chewy Quikrete, Martin said to Ethan, our 12yo, “Go choose five smooth stones.”  Ethan has an old-fashioned sling shot that he was zinging about, exerting his dominance over every tree and boulder within a hundred yards’ radius of the cabin.  Martin decided it was time to put Ethan’s skills to use.  Upon Ethan’s confusion, Martin elaborated, “You’re going to kill a giant named Goliath.  A giant pack rat.”  Ethan’s eyes brightened in excitement and disbelief.

That night, Martin, Ethan, and I were playing Dutch Blitz after everyone else had gone to bed.  Sure enough, Goliath peeked out.

Right about the time that Goliath made his presence known, Fiala woke up, and I went to comfort her.  While I was out of the room, I heard a, “Tink! rattle, rattle,” followed by the ill-suppressed laughter of Martin and Ethan.  When I made my way out after Fiala was calm, Ethan looked to be in shock, and Martin was belly laughing while imitating a convulsing rat.

Turns out, Ethan nailed him.  On the forehead.  On the first shot.  Like David to Goliath.

The rat fell from its perch to a different rock ledge, about 6″ lower, convulsed uncontrollably for about five seconds, then disappeared back into the hole, never to be seen again.  We hope he’s not rotting in the recesses of the fireplace or elsewhere in the cabin.

Word spreads fast in a tiny town, and several people at the general store had suggestions about how best to trap/kill a rat, and a neighbor dropped by with a massive trap, which he kindly set up.  This turned out to be the same neighbor that, earlier in the day, bought Audrey a new lollipop, after the one she triumphantly showed to him flew out of her hand and splintered into a million pieces on the floor.  So, kindness runs deep in his heart, apparently!  Bless God for good neighbors.

Unfortunately, Goliath’s little brother reappeared the next night, in spite of everyone’s efforts… so Martin and Joe spent Labor Day morning filling the holes with sawed-off beams (to be the base of a tall mantel), and mortared some more stone into the remaining gaps.

In spite of the Rat Adventure, which I would rather not have weathered, except for the laughter, and to hear Ethan’s swollen chested proclamations of, “Rodents, beware!” we had a fabulous time.  I said once (and thought numerous times), “This is how kids should be raised:  spending the day climbing boulders, whittling sticks into swords, walking ¼ mile to the store to buy 15¢ lollipops with no fear for their safety…”  ~sigh~  I think I could totally live in that cabin, and be very content.

For now, though, I’m happy that it’s done enough to stay overnight in;  I can’t wait until we get another chance to go back.

I just hope there are no more rats.

Too good of a deal…

I’m probably the only person who ever feels like this, but…  I always feel somewhat guilty for getting a fantastic deal on eBay.

What with the new baby coming in October, I’ve been keeping an eye out for toddler beds.  I had a search going on both Craigslist and eBay, and for a wood toddler bed, the going rate was anywhere from $40 on up.  My hubby and I discussed it, and although we decided we could pay $40, we weren’t in a huge rush, so I thought I’d hold out for something hopefully around $30.

Then, a local eBay auction popped up, with bidding starting at $0.99.  The listing was rather vaguely described, and I had a couple of dissatisfying interactions with the seller that were equally as vague, but the price was right.  So, I jumped in, putting my top bid at $30.50 or something like that.  Well, I won the bed.  For $20.50.  Twenty bucks!  They also included an older mattress that’s in usable shape (no damage to it, and it’s an innerspring, waterproof mattress, but the cloth binding was dirty.  Like dirt-dirty.  How does the binding on a mattress get dirty???  Using no sheets and eating in bed???  I don’t know.  I cleaned it up the best I could, but still feel a little odd about using it for the baby).  And, they threw in some bedding for a boy which, while I won’t use it, I plan on selling on Craigslist… for twenty bucks.

So, free toddler bed, if the bedding sells.

I’m pretty sure the bed is from Walmart, where it sells for just under $60, because I found the bedding on there, too.  Though it’s a nice bed — just what I was hoping for — and the seller said it was only seven months old, it was quite scuffed and banged up… and the bedding was dirty!!  But, still, it feels like I ripped off the seller.  If new, mattress, bed and bedding would have been at least $130-$150.  I know when I sell something on eBay that goes for way less than I was hoping for, it’s a rotten feeling, and it seems like I’ve done that to the seller. 

But, maybe I should just be happy for a (potentially) free bed.

Or, maybe I should start a business trolling for hot deals, then re-selling them!!  😀

Handmade Guitar Furniture

Have you read from Melissa’s blog, Tea With Milk?  She’s one of my favorite blog friends.  She’s a homeschooling mother of eight, and exactly the sort of person I would wish to be my neighbor, if I could custom-order them.  The only thing I don’t like about her is that she lives much closer to my dear sister than I do, for which I can hardly blame her. 😉

Anyways, her husband, Gary, builds custom wood furniture for a living, which I think is fabulous.  His shop is called My Father’s Workshop.  Of particular interest to me is his unique line of guitar furniture.  Money is very tight this Christmas, as my husband is not getting his customary Christmas bonus.  But, I’m still hoping to buy him one of Gary’s guitar stands.  And then, I decided that more people should know about Gary’s work, so I’m posting this unsolicited plea on Melissa & Gary’s behalf, that if you’re in the market for such loveliness, please do buy from them. 

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