DIYing some not so “cliche” baby artwork

Having a baby around changes everything…instead of having my apartment clean and impeccable 95% of the time there is now a baby swing that lives in my kitchen, a vibrating baby chair in my bathroom, Ergo babies and Maya wraps strewn about, not to mention all of the burb cloths, baby wipes, and baby blankets  that seem to float around from room to room. I was so determined before having a baby that I didn’t want his “stuff” to take over our house…and while I really do try to keep it to a minimum there are just certain things that make life easier and end up being worth the eye sore. So when it came time to do the classic baby footprint artwork, I thought there had to be a way to make it cool and modern and not so…baby. No offense to all you babies.

So here is what I ended up with. An abstracted painting where you barely notice the baby footprint, but it’s still there to preserve the memory and be adorable. So a couple months back before Phoenix got here I bought two of these 16×20 canvases at the Hobs (Hobby Lobby) they were on sale $7  for both of them (um. score!). I wanted to get the artwork portion done before the little guy got here to simplify things. So to create my abstract artwork I just picked out some colors that I love (I originally thought these might go in our bedroom so I wanted something that was masculine enough for Kris to handle), I found a couple of inspiration pictures online and just went to town. I think the important part of creating abstract art is to layer, there have been several times when I have started a piece, worked on it for awhile and stopped…only to realize a few days later that the reason it didn’t look quite right was because it wasn’t “done” and just needed several more layers. More layers equals more texture which equals more interest. So after finishing my two canvases (that I wanted to go together, but not be identical), I had these guys to work with.

All done and ready for cute little baby footprints. I used Ceramcoat in Sea Foam for the footprint. I did a bit of research before using this, checking their website to make sure that it was non-toxic and water based. Most acrylic paints are but you can never be too careful when it comes to a baby.

We used a make-up sponge to apply the paint, Kris dabbed a light layer onto Phoenix’s foot- if it’s too globby you won’t get good definition. The make-up sponge worked really well to get just the right amount of paint on his foot. We made sure to get every last adorable little toe too!

Then we gently pressed his foot into the corner of my painting. Phoenix didn’t seem to mind the paint or the foot pressing action.

We were left with the cutest little footprint! We thought we would do his hand too and kind of overlap the two, but Phoenix wasn’t having it. He’s a fist clencher  and he was not interested in un-fisting his hands for us… he is quite strangely strong. I think that boy has some superhero in him or something. I like it better with just the footprint anyway, much simpler.

And there you have it…baby artwork that isn’t going to make your living room look like a nursery. I originally thought Kris and I would hang these in our bedroom one on each side, but the scale is all wrong and they are way too small.

So I put this little vignette together for photos, but we will find a permanent place eventually. Don’t you love my little owl? He makes me smile.

Has anyone else been cooking up any baby artwork? How do you keep your house looking like it hasn’t been overrun by a baby? Any ideas for those monstrous swings?


Phoenix’s Photos: Newborn

Jenn and I were on the fence when it came to the decision of wether or not to get newborn pictures of Phoenix taken.  If you’ve read Phoenix’s birth story part one then you already know where Jenn stood on the froo froo baby stuff.  But after Phoenix got here and we realized that he was going to be the next Derek Zoolander, we thought that we would be doing the world an injustice by not getting super cute baby pictures taken (blue steel anyone??).  So with a recommendation from a friend we found Kristin Ratterree of K-Rae Images and when we contacted her we found that she was just out of college starting her own business in Katy (fyi she is now located in Dallas).  If you don’t know your Houston metroplex map well, Clear Lake (where we live) is about an hour from Katy, not the easiest drive with a baby boy who hates his car seat (seriously you would think we strapped him in with tarantulas). We were a little hesitant to say  the least to load Phoenix up in the car to make the drive.  Jenn fed him really well to get him to go to sleep before we left so needless to say we were late…par for the course for Jenn, but at least now she has an excuse.We did however manage to get there with minimal crying *sighs of relief*.

During the photo shoot Jenn and I weren’t really needed because Kristin was so good with the little guy. She did have a heck of a time getting Phoenix to go to sleep (oh that’s right we have one of those babies that doesn’t sleep. ever.). But once she did we couldn’t get over how cute he looked just lying there. She had all kinds of props from animal crocheted hats (who told her Jenn loves animals?) to a football for him to hold. In the end we are so happy we got these photos of him and we hope you enjoy them.

Phoenix’s Birth Story- part one.

On our honeymoon…blissfully unaware.

It was in November of 2011 that I found out I was pregnant. Topher and I had been married all of 5 minutes (real time= 4 weeks). I was working at an interior design firm at the time in River Oaks and Kris and I had hastily decided that we wanted to live in that area, a mere 2 minutes away from my work. We found the apartment the week before our wedding…seriously we went to go look at the place on Thursday afternoon and sent the deposit Thursday evening. I will forever blame this hasty decision on wedding brain. Wedding brain= crazy/stupid decisions made while your brain is clearly only able to focus on planning your dream wedding. Word to the wise…don’t make big life altering decisions the week before your wedding. Maybe not even the month before. Just don’t.

Kris had just moved to Houston a few weeks before and had just secured a job that he would be starting the Monday we returned from our honeymoon. What can I say… we were eager to get our lives/loose ends tied up and the thought of coming back to my parent’s house after our honeymoon was less than appealing. All this to say that when we found out we were pregnant we were living in a hole. It was a good deal in a nice area…but a hole nevertheless.

I don’t know what happened on that day we went to go look at this apartment…maybe the sun was shining just right to make everything look sparkly, maybe aliens invaded our brains, or maybe we were so blinded by the wedding that was a mere three days away that we just dove in without a second thought.

We had been living there about two weeks when I awoke in the middle of the night with a sharp abdominal pain unlike anything I had ever felt. To this day I’m still not sure what that pain was but I remember the first thought I had when I experienced it “am I pregnant?” I told Kris immediately and he promised that we would go get a pregnancy test first thing in the morning…except that we didn’t. Like most things in life we put it off and we were left to wonder all day… That evening we got home and after a quick glance at our bank account realized we wouldn’t be getting a pregnancy test that evening either. Pregnancy tests are esspensive ya’ll and we knew all of our bills were about to hit so we told each other that this weekend we would definitely go get one…or two…or five.

The next day we went to the hospital…and no we aren’t hasty we were actually visiting my cousin Matt and his wife Jenn (I know right, how dare she?) and their new baby Nolan. Trust me, the irony was not lost on us. Here we are on the edge of our seat wondering if we’re pregnant and we’re visiting this adorable little baby, not to mention all the other adorable babies we spied at in the nursery…except that most of those random babies weren’t so cute. Let’s be honest most newborns look like alien spawn. Except for Matt and Jenn’s…and ours…and yours (of course your baby is adorable). So here we were at the hospital and about 50% of our family are making comments like “you guys are next” and “Nolan needs a playmate!” Oh if they had only known. Kris and I were shaking in our boots. So that weekend Kris and I went to Randall’s and got a pregnancy test. We picked up a two-pack and in case you didn’t know pregnancy tests are only sold in two packs. You have to make super sure right? So we get home and I pee on the stick (TMI- my apologies) and I didn’t know there was more than one way to pee on a stick but somehow the first go round I manage to do it wrong and the lines are too faint to really make much of them. So now we’re down to one test and I immediately send Kris out to get another two-pack. I mean they must sell two-packs for a reason right? It’s not just some consumer ploy to sell more pregnancy tests…um….

So 15 minutes and 40 buckeroos later (can’t exactly buy the great value brand of pregnancy test, this is not the place to scrimp people!) Kris gets back with another two-pack. Let’s keep in mind that this is my pre-prego bladder…and it’s pretty fantastic, it’s been keeping me out of public restrooms (90% of the time) for 24 years. So of course I don’t have to pee…the suspense was definitely building.

We decide to take our pups for a walk and I down two water bottles in the process. We get back and and I’m good to go. First pregnancy test down. We wait the excruciatingly long two minutes until the results show. I don’t think two minutes have ever lasted so long. Time seriously stretched into eternity…

We finally managed to flip over the test and stare. There it was. Now I don’t really recall and I haven’t taken enough pregnancy tests to be an expert so I don’t remember if it was two lines…or a smiley face…or a stork playing a trumpet…but whatever symbol means “pregnancy” was showing up crystal clear.

This was it. My plans were suddenly out the window and life was setting in. and hard. BUT this was only the first test…we still had another box to get through.

More water bottles.

More dog walking.

More stork trumpeteers.

We were convinced. Kris was so excited. He was grinning from ear to ear and asking who we wanted to call first. Now here’s a little background. Kris loves babies. And children. Way back when we first started dating he told me that one of his big hesitations about me was that I never wanted to have children…something I used to say in college. I mean let’s be honest- I’m a selfish gal. I grew up as the only girl in a family with two children. My brother and I were pretty spoiled and had wonderfully amazing parents who worked their tooshies off to get us everything we wanted and they thought we deserved…spoiler alert- I probably most definitely didn’t deserve it. So somewhere in high school I decided that I never wanted children so I could be a high powered career woman (truth is I actually still picture that for myself…the only difference now is that instead of heading off to work everyday I have made it possible for me to work at home). In college I had visions of being the next Kelly Wearstler… and while she is pretty much perfection in everything that she does and managed to have two children while designing the most mouth-watering spaces I have ever seen I just omitted that piece of the equation when envisioning my future.

So here I was in college spouting off these grandiose statements about never wanting children and probably sounding like the witch from Hansel and Gretel. Little did I know I was telling this all to the man I would one day marry. After Kris and I had been dating for about a month he told me about a dream he had where him and I were both in bed on a Saturday morning and all of a sudden this little boy ran in who had dark brown hair and startling green eyes and jumped on top of us. I stared at Kris and acted like I was totally freaked out that he told me this…secretly my heart was soaring because this was the first time I wasn’t completely disgusted at the thought of having children…maybe I had just needed to find the right person to have them with. I tucked this day away in my brain as one of my favorites. It was just one of the sweetest things a boy had ever said to me. So slowly but surely I was warming up to the idea of having kids (as long as they were Kris’ of course) and I started telling myself that by the time I’m 30 I’ll totally be ready.

Well. Here we were in our little hole of an apartment…in an even more holier (we’re not talking Jesus folks) of a bathroom. We’ve got three count ‘em three affirmative pregnancy tests and I’m nowhere near 30. I’m just barely almost halfway there. Did that make sense? No? ok. I was twenty-four. Twenty-four a half really (that’s right I just kindergardened my age for you). Terrified can only begin to really describe how I felt in that moment…

…to be continued.

A (ridiculously) easy job to make life easier

So Jenn and I have decided to use cloth diapers for a number of reasons that will be discussed in a later post (so you will have to come back for that). But we did a lot of research before starting with our cloth diapers and found that the people that had the best results rinsed them off into the toilet before throwing them into the washer (trust me- they are a lot easier than a lot of people think). So in order to do this most people get an attachment on their toilet in order to rinse the diapers off right into the commode. We decided to get more “bang for our buck” and go with a shower head with an extra hose attachment, and we lucked out that our toilet and shower are right next to each other #tinyapartmentproblems.  You can find a shower head like this at any housing retailer from Bed, Bath, and Beyond to Wal-Mart or Lowe’s. Plus, now we can take fancier showers…and you know, bathe our dogs. Our dogs enjoy being fancy (just picture a pooch in a top hat getting sprayed with our new shower head).

It doesn’t take a lot of tools or a hired hand to install these shower heads, most are hand tightened and only require about 15 minutes of work (Shh…don’t tell Jenn how easy it was, she seemed really impressed with me).

1) Take the existing shower head off. You may need a pair of channel locks in order to break the seal.

2) Clean off the threads of the pipe, and then cover with plumbing thread tape. A roll should come with the shower head set, but if it doesn’t you can find it for a buck at Wal-Mart.

3) Like I said, most of the shower kits are hand tightened. So you hand tighten the shower head onto the pipe.

4) Then you hand tighten the attachment hose onto the back of the shower head.

5) Place the rubber washer in the hose end that connects with the hand held nozzle, then screw the hand held nozzle into the hose.

6) Now you just have to take a shower…don’t worry I won’t post pictures of that part.

7) Or rinse off the diapers your sweet baby uses.

In total this project cost us 60 bucks and about 15 minutes.  We had some lingering store credit (left over from our wedding) at Bed, Bath, and Beyond so we opted for the shower head with 6 different settings on each nozzle. You could probably get it done for about half of this if you wanted a simpler one. Has anyone else been doing easy apartment upgrades? Have you purchased any neat gadgets for your home? Do your dogs enjoy wearing top hats too?

The lazy girl’s guide to losing the baby weight

I want to warn you upfront…this is not a workout/exercise plan or a boot camp. Maybe you could tell that from the title, but in case you couldn’t…I’ll make it crystal clear. No workout tips here people! Technically, I believe you’re supposed to wait six weeks postpartum to exercise anyway…so consider this part one.  Maybe once I hit a road block and need to work out to get off the last ten pounds I’ll start implementing some exercise and come back with a part two…but for now this is what is currently working for ME (although I hope it works for you too!) and it doesn’t include sweating of any kind (unless you count walking from my front door to the car in 100+ degree Houston weather). Now granted I did try running a couple of times a few weeks ago, but I lost absolutely NO weight that week…so I ditched it. For now anyway.

So before we dive in let me just tell you…I gained quite a bit of weight during my pregnancy. Everyone told me “oh you look so cute” and “it’s all baby”…well they were dead wrong. I did NOT look cute and it was NOT all baby. I think maybe people just didn’t notice that my thighs doubled in size because there was a gigantic belly blocking their view. And just in the spirit of baring all (why not right?) I gained 48 pounds…in case you didn’t know most health professionals recommend you gain 25-30 pounds. Which is a totally reasonable amount of weight considering the baby you are carrying probably only weighs about 7 or 8 pounds. Now your body does need some fat stores that it will use while breastfeeding, but 40+ pounds worth of fat stores…I don’t think so.

So let’s go back to my wedding day…which just so happens to be the day the little guy was conceived. I can’t be too sure, but I believe I weighed about 125 on that day. Then for the next week Kris and I were on our honeymoon and ate loads of delicious Mexican food…so I probably gained five pounds that week alone…which I do not count. I had no idea I was pregnant. So my math entails my starting, pre-pregnancy weight at 130 and my ending weight at 178 when they weighed me at the hospital (Oh yes that’s right I had been laboring for 45 hours at home and when I get to the hospital the first thing they do is weigh me… ”pardon this contraction I’m having nurse…oh yes I’m finished let me hop on your scale…so sorry to inconvenience you”). So we end up at 48 pounds. Not. Cute. At. All.


These pictures totally don’t do justice to how large I looked or felt. These are actually the only half decent pregnancy pictures that exist. Friends kept asking me if I was going to take pregnancy portraits…but the truth is that I just felt too gross. I was very adamant that no I was not taking any pictures. And no I did not want to document this. I kept the documenting to myself for the most part…and most of them are way more embarrassing than these. And yes. All are incredibly poorly taken Iphone mirror pics. Sorry.

So then fast forward about a week and a half later to when little guy came. He weighed 7lbs 9oz. (which is about the most average size a baby can be) and my placenta weighed I dunno maybe another 5 pounds (sorry to say gross words like placenta)…so that’s a (rough) total of 12 ½ pounds. So 178-12.5=165.5

Sadly enough this is probably exactly what I weighed the day after giving birth. Granted I didn’t weigh myself that day- I was way too scared to get on a scale, probably because I still looked five months pregnant (water weight I suppose??) but when I finally did gather enough courage to step on our scale, maybe two weeks postpartum, I weighed 163…not exactly the number I was looking for. I kept hoping that 10 more pounds were just going to magically disappear and be like “oops sorry we’re in the wrong place…time to go torment the next pregnant gal”…but as you may have already guessed that didn’t happen. So I was looking at 163…33 pounds to lose to get back to a happy weight…38 pounds to get back to my ideal wedding weight. Le sigh.

So today I am exactly six weeks postpartum and have dropped 10 pounds from where I was on that ominous day I had the guts to get on the scale. So in case math is just not your forte- I’m currently at 153. At this rate it will be another few months before I’m in a happy place…but I’m ok with that. Losing weight at a rate of about 2 pounds per week is really pretty quick and I can’t do any crazy lo-cal diets since I’ve got a newborn that is depending on me for all of his nutrition. Plus…I have to say that Phoenix was totally worth every. single. pound.


So after giving you more information about my weight that you probably ever wanted to know…let’s do this:

  1. breastfeed- obviously. This burns up loads of calories! I know some people have trouble and just can’t make it work, (if you are currently struggling please go to a LLI meeting or at least check out their website for some help, or read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding) but if you can this is definitely going to speed things up!
  2. don’t buy fat clothes- ok so this one is really hard. I currently only have a couple pairs of shorts, a few “cute” shirts, and my smeedium baggy t-shirts that fit…it’s not much of a wardrobe. I did manage to squeeze into my skinny jeans (they’re stretchy) but by the time I get them buttoned the muffin top is looking more like an inner tube…so they are definitely not an option… unless I wanted to wear a parka or baggy cosby sweater on top to hide it all…which in this Houston weather could be a death sentence. So my goal is two-fold. First of all by not heading out to Target and buying clothes that would fit for just the next two months I am saving some moola. And secondly what is better motivation for losing weight than knowing there is an entire closet FULL of cute clothes just waiting to reward me when I get to the finish line? So sweat pant cut-offs and baggy t-shirts it is for now…so I can look super cute later.
  3. eat healthy- I know this sounds like a drag…but seriously. Don’t bring junk into the house, if it’s there you will eat it. But don’t deprive yourself either- if eating one oreo now will keep you from eating the entire box later then go ahead and let yourself have an oreo. Also, try your best to cut out the fast food, (this is a lot easier if you keep your house stocked with groceries and don’t have an excuse to run out every other night to jack-in-the-box) you know you will just feel like crap after eating it anyway. Now I’m not saying that healthy food tastes bad. It absolutely doesn’t. Its delicious, and there is something about eating a sandwhich with flax seed bread and organic hormone free turkey that doesn’t tempt you to eat three of them. Same with the snacks…organic strawberries compared to chips ahoy…well I might just eat the entire box of strawberries but I’m not going to be kicking myself for the next three days about it. Plus, if you are able to breastfeed eating healthy just goes hand-in-hand.
  4. get help- This isn’t as bad as it sounds. I’m not suggesting you go to therapy or anything. But my friend Ashley started a weight loss competition with a couple of our friends on facebook and this so serendipitously happened to start a couple weeks after I gave birth. Every Sunday we take a picture of our feet on our our scales and post it to the group’s page. It’s incredibly motivating to know that everyone is going to see my progress at the end of the week! You could totally do this with a couple of your girlfriends as long as they know you don’t think they need to lose weight you’re just inviting them along for the fun of it. We made ours three months with a celebration dinner at the end…I’ll definitely keep you updated!
  5. wear your baby- Ok, I promise I didn’t trick you. This is not a workout. It actually just makes having a baby a lot easier, especially if you have a baby that wants to be held all day. Why carry them when you can wrap them to your chest and get back to business? It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you do you’ll wonder how you ever lived any other way. Not to mention that you can take your baby shopping, out to eat, or to the movies without the hassle of a big car seat PLUS it makes discreet breastfeeding that much easier…and did I mention it keeps away those pesky people that are way too nosey and want to touch and pet your baby (I’m all for healthy bacteria, but not stranger danger germs). Oh and that whole point of me saying to wear your baby in the first place is that it’s going to burn some extra calories. Do you need another reason? Go strap your baby to your chest right this second.

So that’s what has been working for me and keeping me motivated to get back to my skinny self. Isn’t is funny that I never even thought I was that skinny pre-pregnancy…I could always find flaws or somewhere else that needed work. Isn’t that how it always is? Do any of you have any post-pregnancy weight loss tips? Or healthy weight loss advice in general? I’d love to know!

Hello… is there anybody out there?

Hey there! If this is your first time here (and it should be because this is our first blog), my name is Kris and I have a beautiful wife name Jennifer who recently gave birth (more on that later) to our awesomely alert baby boy, Phoenix.  We are your typical American family, enjoying life together making it on the love that we have for one another.  Jenn and I will be blogging periodically about what we’ve been up to… everything from parenting decisions we make for Phoenix, reupholstering a chair here and there, maybe some of my mad survivor skillz (you know it’s for real if it ends in a z), or whatever adventure we are up to next.  This is a tool for us to log our memories in, kind of like an online diary that you will hopefully pick the lock on every now and then.  I know we might not be fascinating enough to check the blog everyday but come back and see what’s new every once in a while.