Tuesday, October 25, 2011

DIY: Not your every day headboard

As you may remember, I think I have been a DIY'er ever since I was born - well maybe since I learned how to use power tools in junior high.  The internet has greatly helped my abilities and spawned many a new ideas.

When we first got married, I made several pieces of furniture for our apartment because we were dirt poor and couldn't buy anything because I had so much extra time on my hands being a med student and all.  I made a headboard, bench for end of bed, and a banquette.  The headboard was recovered a few years later when I changed out the duvet cover.  And now I have redone it again.  But a bit different.

The first version was just a piece of plywood covered with batting and a blanket then framed out with trim.  The second version lost the frame and was covered in a deep chocolate brown and had 3 buttons (no picture).

And now it is a woven headboard.  I got the starter idea from Lowes creative ideas website.  But I wanted to change it up a bit. (UPDATE - Lowes removed the page that spurred my idea)

And here is how I made it  for a queen size (bit different than the Lowe's directions).
What you need: 8ft sheet 1/4" plywood, 2 pieces 1X4 by 6' wood, fabric (I used 3 yds cream corduroy and 2/3 yd orange/cream pinstripe), batting (I reused what was on the old headboard)

1. 1/4" plywood - cheapest one I could find.
2. Had Lowes cut it into 9.5" strips length wise
3. I then cut 3 long strip into 2 pieces - 62" which left 34" pieces for the short pieces
4. Cut another long strip into 2 additional 34" strips (total of 3 long and 5 short pieces)
5. Used spray adhesive and attached 1" (can't use much thicker or it's too hard to weave the boards together) batting strips to wood.
6. Cut strips of fabric 14" wide and 66" or 38" long.
7. Covered batting with strips of fabric.  Secured undersides using wood glue (tried spray adhesive, glue gun, and staples (too long and went through board) but surprisingly wood glue worked the best).
Glued on batting
8. Pulled fabric taut - this is where the wood glue was the best.  I secured one long edge and then the next.  Went back to first long edge (glue was tacky but not dry) and readjusted by pulling more taut.  Repeated on the second edge - got a really nice tight wrap on the fabric and when glue dried I could not pry up fabric without ripping -so pretty darn secure.  Don't secure ends yet.

Fabric wrapped
9. Now time to weave the boards (trying to do this from memory because the directions are no longer on the Lowes site).
- Place the 3 long boards face down next to each other.
- Start with the middle short board face down and weave into long boards - i made it so the 2 outer and 1 middle boards (in white in picture below) had their ends on the right side of the headboard.
- I vaguely remember having to weave through the top and middle long boards with all of the short boards and then adding the bottom long board last.
- Sorry I can't remember this part very well - never thought to copy the Lowes directions down.
- I think when I made the mistakes with this step had to do with the outer short pieces and having them opposite of what they needed to be.
10. Make sure everything is square board by board- truly important step.

11. I attached boards together with screws instead of glue - much easier and less wait time.  I used whatever screws I could find laying around the workbench.  Some were 3/8" long (had to pull out batting so that it would secure into 2nd board) and some were 5/8" - left batting and sometime put extra fabric as spacer so it wouldn't puncture all the way through.
12. Folded over and stapled remaining ends of fabric.  I pulled it taut or smoothed out any wrinkles that may have developed from the weaving step.  I folded the long ends first.  Then wrapped the short ends over it to give it a nice finished look.
Stapled Fabric

Wrapped edges after weaving boards together

12. Made frame from 1x4.  Cut each piece at 19" so I had 2x19" pieces and 2x41" strips.  Again different than Lowes.  I glued the pieces together and then stapled them at the joints on both sides.  The staples don't really add much but I didn't have to wait for the glue to dry.

13.  Attached frame to headboard with screws (didn't use spacer strips like Lowes as this frame is mounted on wide side of frame boards instead of edges -didn't want it to stick out from wall so much and don't think they will warp too much).  Stand it up and make sure it is level - so even if the head board (or frame) is just a bit off square (not noticeably so) you can tweak the frame just a bit to account for this so that in the end it is level.

14. I found where the studs were on the wall I was going to hang it on (usually 16" apart) and then made sure my D-rings were mounted on the frame at the points where the studs were so I didn't have to use anchors.  This was easy for me because the studs were perfectly centered around the center of the wall I was hanging it from.
15.  Attached 2 d-rings to frame.
16. Placed a screw into each stud (I think I used 2" long screws -again whatever I had in the garage) don't screw in all the way - I left about 3/4" out of the wall.

Frame attached
17. Hang on wall. (Ignore the white spots on wall from old headboard - I forgot to account for the drop in height from D-rings so now I need to paint the wall to cover old holes.)

Finished product
And those are DIY lamp shades and nightstand boxes.  I took the photos that are above the bed.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

To be a Lute...

I think once upon a blog post, I said I would tell you how I ended up at the college that I did.  As with most things in my life, it has a bit of a funny story to it.

So I went to a fairly large high school (about 680 in my graduating class).  Most people went onto college.  Most stayed within the state or the neighboring Cheesehead state.

But I had other notions.  Prior to the summer before senior year of high school, I had never been west of the state border.  I had been to Fl, but really no where else.  Other than the Cheesehead state.  But the summer before senior year, I went on a mission trip to Montana.  It was the first time I saw real mountains.  And I was amazed.  So I decided I would go to college in the Northwest.  Around this same time, I tossed out all the college brochures for architecture and switched to chemistry.  I never went to a college fair, but a boy that I was dating at the time did.  So I looked through his brochures and picked up a little wallet sized fold out brochure.  It had a picture of a mountain on the front cover and little words that said "Pacific Lutheran University".  I tore off the back little card that you could send in for more information (this was pre-internet days - hard to imagine).  So then I get the full sized brochure.  And another bigger picture of Mt. Rainier.  There was also a picture of the crew team and the science lab.  So I sent off for more information - and a bigger picture of Rainier was sent back.  And then I send in an application.

I never visited any of the 3 colleges I applied to.  I did all my interviews by phone.  So I am not really sure how I picked the school that I did, but I went to PLU and became a "Lute".  And my first time ever to the state of WA was the day I moved into my college dorm.  I got on a plane and just went.  By myself.  Not knowing a single sole in the entire state.  But I survived.  And I had a pretty darn good time.  And I rowed for two years (before a darn boat crash forever ruined my shoulder).  And I got to see amazing sunrises over Mt. Rainier every morning when it wasn't raining or too foggy.

And I spent a lot of time in the "open science lab".  I got a degree.   I moved all the way to other Washington when I was done.  And the first Sunday I walked into church in DC, a very old couple stopped me because they saw the "PLU" bumper sticker.  Turns out they had graduated from their 50 years before (back when it was Pacific Lutheran College).  I have seen PLU stickers around the country since then.

But the world kind of opened up the day that little brochure popped into my hand and I became a "Lute".

"Hey Lutes"
"Go Lutes"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What a year it has been...

So I have been mulling over what this past year has been like with the Tank.  So many events recently are  making me reflect on what our experience was with the little man and just how far we have come.

So to recap the initial events (and by the way this has to do with bodily fluids so stop now if it is too gross.)  Tank was born at 34 weeks, spent a night on the ventilator because his lungs weren't quite ready, and because he was a bit sick, was given IV antibiotics for 2 days to ensure that he didn't have infection.  He was fed via a feeding tube for 2 weeks while he learned how to eat.  Most babies poop within the first 24-48 hours of life, and if it is longer than that the baby may have a problem with the intestines.  Tank pooped on day 3 -but that is not horribly abnormal for a preterm (especially one that is born much earlier) infant.  So we noted it -but didn't get too worried.  Then as the feeds increased - and he had to get formula because there wasn't enough BM, well he started puking.  I could pretty much guarantee that every morning I would find him covered in puke (he would get the formula over night).  As more BM came in, then it seemed he didn't puke quite as much.  And he started pooping more.  But not as much as most BM fed babies do.

So finally we get him home and within a week or two - the pooping stops and the puking gets horrible.  He started projectile vomiting - and not just with a little heave -but literally shot it 10 ft across the room.  We would stand with him over the sink so it would at least just land there.  All feeds had to occur on the hardwood floor so we could clean up the puke -because we never knew where it was going to land.  So back to the dr we went.  Abdominal X-ray was little abnormal (which apparently his 2 in the NICU were as well).  But figured we would wait and see how the next week went.  We had tried several different formulas (used to supplement the BM) and nothing seemed to help.  As we left the dr.'s I ran into someone.  And a long story short - we got donated BM - a whole entire freezer (actually had to go buy a deep freezer).  We were hoping that would help the puking - it did a little -but not significantly.  And at this point, he hadn't pooped on his own for several weeks.

The next month spiraled out of control.  He required enemas, suppositories, Miralax daily to poop.  The vomiting was non-stop.  We tried probiotics, zantac (at extremely high dosing - 10 mg/kg for those that know this stuff -usual is 2-4 mg/kg) and nothing helped.  I pulled strings (hate to do that but I was desperate) and saw GI.  They asked me how many x/day Tank was puking.  I estimated 50.  I later counted - it was about 75-100 times/day.  8x per feed, 8 feeds/day, and then 2-3x in-between feeds.  It was a lot.  They watched me try to feed him - he was becoming orally averted at this point.  Tank would want to eat - tried to suck -then would start screaming -over and over again.  And then he would puke.  And this is how every feed went.  They confirmed that this was a problem - I started crying.  I thought I had been making too much of a big deal out of it.  It was such a relief to have them say that there was a serious problem and that we had to find an answer.  At this point I had 2-3 weeks left of maternity leave.

More tests, biopsies, meeting with the surgeon.  Everyone thought he had Hirschsprung's disease (the nerve endings are missing in the colon -so the colon doesn't move -ie no pooping - the thing that you are supposed to think of if a baby doesn't poop during the first day of life).  The surgeon was so convinced that we actually scheduled surgery, signed the consent forms - before the biopsy was back.  Surgery (to remove the colon) was to be the day before Thanksgiving - I was supposed to go back to work Monday after Thanksgiving.  Then the biopsies came back normal.  And we were back to square one.

But during all the tests- he had a barium swallow study.  Barium is very heavy - and it was the only feed that the Tank never puked up.  So a light bulb went on- and we tried thickening Tank's feeds.  And it was like magic.  The puking became spit-up - about 10x day - and only a rare projectile.  I no longer had to use towels as burp rags.  It was almost like having a normal baby.  But the other end still didn't work - but we could manage that.  So we never got answers - but at least the quality of life got dramatically better.

And so that continued for 7 months - in those months the Tanked pooped on his own only a handful of times.  But then he had a course of Augmentin for an ear infection - and again it was magic.  He had lots of poop -all on his own.  And then we stopped the Augmentin-and it continued.  And that was the end of it.  We finally stopped thickening his feeds at 10 months (we had tried before several times but the puke always returned).

And at the end of all of this, I mourned the loss of having a newborn.  I am sure this is how many parents of preemies/sick babies feel (and honestly parents of micro-preemies -I have no idea how you do it and stay sane as this was nothing compared to what you go through).  But as I held a brand new term baby last week, it just made me realize even more what I missed out on.  There was never any taking naps/snuggling on the couch together, there were very few trips out, there was just constant bouncing/swaying/cleaning up the puke/praying that things would get better.  And once they all did - I had this giant sized baby.  And I am so grateful for what we do have-a healthy/happy 1 year old-which is far more than lots of parents I know.  Luckily for me -he does like to snuggle now.  But it's not the same.

So when someone tells me that their baby is a big time puker, my heart goes out to them.  It is a miserable life -one that I didn't realize how bad it was (it's just puke right) until we were out of it.  Life can be too short - and we need to do more to optimize the quality of life we do have.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Munchkin is 4

So some how I am a mother to a 4 year old.  Already.  Perhaps that is why I now have so many "blonde" highlights.  Or the fact that I am getting older.  And I still don't have my first job.  And on that front - I am starting to interview - so just when you are thinking about changing your career after 10+ years - well I will finally be getting my first job.  I probably shouldn't change my mind about my career at this point.

But back to the point.  The munchkin is 4 this week.  I have to write a little bit about there birth, because it  is a bit funny when looking back at it.  I had worked really hard the last week of September.  I started swelling a ton - perhaps due to the fact that I was drinking 7 liters. a day.  And I am pretty sure I wasn't get rid of that much!  I had 2 crazy nights at work.  All the babies were deciding to deliver at the same time and I was just running from room to room to resuscitate.  That nearly did me in.  But I made it through and then had to cover the hospital service 2 days later.  And on a weekend you would usually get a handful at most of admissions.  Not that day/night.  We had close to 10.  So again- nearly did me in.  And then the next day I was on a blissful month of research.  A couple of days later, I spent the day washing all the baby clothes, organizing the room, and put the car seat in the car.  I spent one of the nights scrubbing my oven.  With oven cleaner.  Which I had never done before (nor have I since!)  I was 35 weeks along.  And then I decided to bring coffee to a friend who had just had a baby a few weeks before.  We sat on her couch all afternoon talking and me resting with my feet up.  I finally felt good after the crazy week before.  Went home that night and all was well.

And then I went to bed.  30 min later I woke up after I thought I had to pee.  And have you ever fallen asleep on the potty - well I have - kind of one of those little nod offs.  Well I did that, and then woke up a couple of seconds later and realized there was no way I could still be peeing a gallon of water.  Oh wait.  That would be my water breaking.  Denial.  Got back into bed.  Thought I was peeing my pants - woke up the husband.  Still in denial.  Decided to take a shower, cause if I was going into labor - at least I would be clean:)  We decided to call the triage nurse, who promptly laughed when we told her that we thought my water broke and I was 35 weeks.  Of course I had to come in.  Well I still waited.  I was terrified that I would be the one they told "No - your water didn't break - you are just peeing on yourself." (Remember I had been drinking 7 liters a day - maybe all of it was finally come out - or so I told myself.)  So I finally threw somethings together, and we made our way to the hospital.  We got to the triage area, and they were going to check me down there when I started laughing and more water came pouring out.  The nurses got a laugh out of us when they realized it was us who had called in (a family med doctor who delivers babies, and a pediatrician - seriously didn't we know better!)

Born with lots of dark brown hair!

The skinniest little legs!

Of course I was in labor.  All went fairly well except the anesthesiologist didn't give me the little bolus button for my epidural.  And the darn thing wore off as I was pushing.  And I started hallucinating. Until I realized it was because "I CAN FEEL EVERYTHING" which is what I started yelling.  They got that fixed and then out popped the munchkin.  5 lbs, 14 oz and 19 3/4 " - at 35 4/7 weeks.

First birthday -the hair grew back in blonde as can be!
And about 10 hours after getting up to go potty, we became parents for the first time.

And the rest is history.
2nd Birthday
3rd Birthday -no longer a toddler.
And now 4.