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Glimpses

April 30, 2013

Kiddisms April 2013

photo

Milo: Oh no, the airplane is flying away! It’s scared of us.

 

Milo: I didn’t sleep so well.

Nic: Why not?

Milo: I had a dream. And there was a finger.

 

Nic: Can you say it in German too?

Milo: No, I can’t

Nic: Why not?

Milo: Cause I’m not Mommy yet.

 

Milo totally out of context: A rocket.

Nic: What?

Milo: No, mommy be quiet. I’m talking to Felix. Felix, a rocket, yes or no?

(No idea what he wanted from Felix)

 

Nic: Please stop it, Milo. You are hurting me. (He was playing cars on my head)

Milo: And then you be sad and cry real loud and wake up daddy?

March 14, 2013

Kiddisms #3

Milo: “The wind is not moving today”.

 

Milo copies Lilia and says: “Watch this, Lincoln.”

Linc: “Who is Lincoln?”

Milo points at me (Nicola) and says “him”

 

Milo is trying to pump air in the tires of his bicycle: “I need to put punk in my motorcycle.”

 

I take Felix’s rectal temperature. Milo says: “I want fever in my butt too.”

 

Milo: “Stop squishing me, Felix. Mami, Felix is squishy. Like Ava. Ava is ssss … smart.”

Nicola: “You are smart, too.”

Milo: “No, I’m not smart, I’m a big boy.

 

Milo: “Mami, you are Superman.”

Nicola: “And what is Felix?”

Milo: “Felix is a real small Superman.”

February 26, 2013

His And Hers Lamp Shades

Phase 2 of the master closet makeover has officially begun: DIY-ing a bunch of accessories. Up first were the light fixtures.

How these ancient light fixtures made it into our house that was built in the 90s is completely incomprehensible. They must have been rotting at the builder’s warehouse for decades before he decided to finally get rid of them in our lovely home. Too brassy, too teardropish, and too much weird glass texture. They had to go.

So in accordance with our customized his and hers shelf solution I decided to also make a male and a female lamp shade. After finding inspiration and figuring out the best way to spice up plain lamp shades, I came up with a plan: I would literally dress up these lamp shades:

lamp shade-4

One in a men’s dress shirt, the other one in a ruffly skirt. But they still had to match, so they both had to be navy. Navy is a newbie to our house of muted midtone colors. After hubby convinced me that we needed a blue chair for our bedroom (not the neutral grey that I was voting for), I kinda got used to the thought of adding a new color to our master suite.

Well, after sourcing two different thrift stores I just couldn’t find any ruffles in blue at all. So I went with a thin navy knit sweater with a see-through hole pattern that makes it look a little lacy. Just female enough without being too frilly. This feels more like me anyway. Here are our two candidates:

lamp shade-1

lamp shade-2

First, I decided which section to use and cut off any excess fabric on top and bottom of the lamp shade. This left me with two wide strips of fabric:

lamp shade-5

 

lamp shade-6

Then, I broke out my hot glue gun and glued down the strip on one side. I pulled it tight around the cylinder, and glued the other end down. Now all that was left was to cut the top and bottom to a uniform overhang, fold the edges over, and attach them by applying a thin bead of glue under the bottom and top rim. Sorry, I didn’t have enough hands nor light to take progress pictures, but this tutorial explains and shows all the steps I took.

lamp shade-7

lamp shade-8

Since I was working with knit fabric, the edges turned out a little too frayed to be pretty. So I bought this half-inch wide ribbon to cover them up. Just glued it on with hot glue as well.

lamp shade-9

Looking much more finished, there.

lamp shade-10

Finally, I created a few fabric flowers out of the shirt remnants to really tie the two lamp shades together.

Here they go. Aren’t they a cute couple?

lamp shade-12

Now I just gotta spray-paint the bases of the existing light fixtures white, and find a way to attach the shades to them. I’ll keep you posted.

February 16, 2013

Fanciest Closet In Da House

Before, I was just a messy and boring wire closet. Now I am much fancier, colorful, and organized. Check me out:

Master Closet After-5

And some more fancy schmanzy before-and-after pictures:

HersBeforeAfter

 

HisBeforeAfter

 

This is where we left you off last time:

Master Closet-13

The first step in customizing our master closet was painting it a custom color. The reality is that I was too cheap to buy new paint, when we had three cans of leftover paint sitting in the basement. So, I threw some yellowish white, medium gray-blue, and navy blue together, and ended up with half a gallon of this muted blue (just a little lighter than the picture):

Master Closet After-7

Very similar to the shade that I was gonna get at the store. The amount of paint was just enough to paint all the walls and backboards of the bookcases. Up next was assembling the shelves. Initially I was gonna go super budget and just get one bookcase on each side, plus some rods to build something like this:

Closet organizer

But then I decided to go all out on this project. Just because I had been waiting for this closet for so long and didn’t want to regret any cheap choices that I wasn’t totally happy with. Also I realized that two of those bookcases would fit perfectly in the space. So we got a total of 4 Ikea Billy bookcases, the deeper kind so that all clothes would comfortable fit.

Lincoln’s side was pretty straight forward. For the hanging part of it I got some extendable rods at the hardware store and left all optional shelves out.

Master Closet After-3

On my side we had to hack it a little bit because I needed some taller space for dresses. So we cut the middle board in half, got a laminated board for the center from Lowes (they cut it to the right size and the color and finish was already close enough to the Billy’s so that it was all set to go), and with the help of my handy dandy husband put it all together. Before assembly we had drilled a hole through the center divider so that the rod would just slide through to both sides.

Master Closet After-1

In order to fit both shelves next to each other I had to take the quarter round trim out, so putting that back in will be next on the list. Along with some other detail work:

  • Paint the walls a grayish blue
  • Hack and install white Billy bookcases from IKEA
  • Build in some racks to maximize space usage
  • Install trim around the shelves
  • Get some nice storage bins for small things like socks
  • Bring in a tall mirror and an ottoman to sit on
  • Get a prettier laundry hamper and trash can
  • DIY some custom lamps
  • DIY a jewelry organizer for the wall
  • DIY an organizer for Lincoln’s pocket stuff
  • Find a solution to temporarily hold clothes that will be worn again
  • Get and hang some wall art
  • Maybe a rug
  • Do the happy dance!

As you can see we already made some progress on accessorizing and dancing as well.

Here is our new hamper ($15 Home Goods) and trash can ($15 Target).

Master Closet After-8

The storage ottoman is from our foyer where we will be adding a storage cabinet instead. Now it is serving to hold my bags and as a seating bench to put on socks and stuff.

Master Closet After-10

This mirror was previously residing in our bedroom, but for the purpose of fully getting ready in the closet without having to wake up the other sleeping person (Linc and I are on very different sleep schedules) it will also find a spot somewhere in the closet.

There you have it , my new most favorite room in the house.

 

 

February 12, 2013

Baby Sleep Logic 101

People who think that sleeping like a baby is a good thing clearly have no clue what infant sleep really is like. Unless they mean to say that they wake up every few hours, want to sleep anywhere but in their bed, and can only fall asleep with the help of pacifiers, white noise machines, or by sucking their thumb.

When such clueless people (aka me 3 years ago) have a baby, they will try to apply their adult sleep habits to how their kid behaves or how they expect them to behave. Especially when babies are out of the newborn stage and start resembling a human, it just happens naturally to expect babies to follow common sense sleep logic. After only a few weeks of disappointment and sleep deprivation you begin to understand that they don’t. But you still wish they did. Then, when you finally gave up hope that they ever will sleep like a normal person, for some reason you still instinctively treat them as if they did. Only when you have fully and totally accepted that they just don’t make any freaking sense, is when they will surprise you with sleeping like a pro. Only for one night, of course.

SleepyKid-2

After months of frustration, I compiled this 101 of baby sleep logic to keep reminding myself that kids aren’t just small versions of us. As a parent of two ultimate sleep fighters, I might have dealt with some of these issues to the extreme and I am sure that other babies follow different nonsensical patterns. Luckily our babies were pretty good night sleepers and only had problems with naps during the day. And – I just broke baby sleep rule number 1:

1. Don’t jinx yourself. The day you brag about how well your child sleeps, it will be over. It’s like they want to prove you wrong and practice their rebellion early on. So do your happy dance quietly, but never ever post any sleep success on Facebook.

2. Babies only sleep long / deeply / independently / (enter your happy word here) when you don’t expect it or it’s super inconvenient. Not when you need to get something done or at their regular bed time, only when you actually have places to be.

3. On that same note – kids only sleep in on weekdays when you already have a tight morning routine, so you will end up having to wake a sleeping baby (=#1 parenting sin).

4. Babies wake up earlier the later you out them to bed. The natural bed time for most babies is earlier than you think / than it is convenient for going out for dinner. So, you might have the genius idea to try to push their bed time later. Sure enough the kid will wake up at 5 AM the next morning. Trust me, don’t you ever mess with a bed time that works for your child!

5. Also, the less / crappier a baby sleeps, the less / crappier a baby will sleep. Unlike an adult, kids won’t make up for sleep deprivation the following night. Once their regular sleep pattern is disturbed, it can only get worse and takes at least two days to go back to normal.

SleepyKid-3

6. Most babies don’t just close their eyes when they are tired and magically fall asleep by themselves. Those hilarious videos on Youtube where a baby falls asleep with his face in the food bowl only happen to 1% of us parents and only when you let your baby get seriously overtired (see rule #7 for overtiredness). The other 99% need to be put to to sleep by your active effort. Rocking, Singing, holding for 30 minutes have been reported in our house only to lead to a 30 minute nap.

7. When toddlers get overtired, they don’t voluntarily go to bed, but go nuts instead. They will run in circles, throw toys, yell at the top of their lungs, and go deaf as far as your reprimands are concerned. Afterwards they are so amped up that they will take twice as long to fall asleep as usual.

SleepyKid-7

8. Most babies need to learn how to fall asleep independently. In one way or another. After dealing with putting your fussy baby to sleep for a few months it is very likely to get fed up and just let them cry themselves to sleep. It happens to the best of us. And then magic – suddenly your kid knows how to fall asleep. For Felix all it took was one time of crying for 3 minutes until he realized: “Wait, I can do this.”

9. It takes only one day to untrain good sleep habits, but a full week to retrain. Typically happens when your kids are sick or teething, that you just have to rock them to sleep again even though you know they are perfectly capable of falling asleep by themselves and you have already done everything you can to alleviate their pain.

10. Night terrors are very different from nightmares, and you won’t know which one your kid has when you hear them crying in the middle of the night, until you go into their room. If you are able to calm them down, then it was a nightmare. If they freak out when they see you and then continue to scream the house down for the next 20 minutes, it was a night terror and the best approach would have been to stay the heck out.

 

Well then, good night everyone!

February 7, 2013

Money Doesn’t Make Babies

Being a mom in the US and having had to deal with an inferior governmental support system to raise my kids, a current debate in Germany has caught my attention. What can the government do to turn the declining birth rate around that is threatening to lead to a collapse of the social system and lack of qualified workers in the future?

Over the past years the German government has shifted more and more tax money into making having kids affordable. Let’s start with maternity benefits.
There is a freaking designated law protecting mothers!
  • They are not allowed to work 6 weeks before estimated due date until 8 weeks after birth.
  • During that time they are being compensated for their income loss at 100% of their net-salary.
  • They have the right to leave their job for up to 3 years with the guarantee to be able to go back to the same job afterwards.
  • They have the right to be able to work part time during the first three years of their child.
  • Pregnant women are forbidden from working jobs that could harm the baby or mother and the employer has to give them a different task for the duration of pregnancy. During this time they also cannot be laid off or fired.

Beyond that, the so-called “Parent Money” is paid to parents for up to 14 months after the birth of a child as a compensation for lost income if one parent is staying home and caring for the child. It is generally 65% of your net-income. Then there is also the “Children Money”: In Germany every family gets 184 Euro ($246) per child per month until the child starts to have an income or turns 25. No conditions or income limitations tied to it.

Daycare and preschool are heavily subsidized, or even free in some communities.
But apparently all that massive spending is not working. It might make parenthood more affordable and easy on the parents that have kids anyway, but the money does not magically make people reproduce.
“Money doesn’t make babies” was a headline in the German news that caught my eye and made me start to think about what a government could do to convince me to have another child. To be clear – I am done with having kids. The certainty of this decision rose from 99% right after Felix birth to 100% as of right now. Having done the first two kids completely without any financial support from the government, you would think that money could make a difference to me. What if I had an extra $500 a month? Or $1000 or $2000? I would probably find a thousand other ways to spend that money on my existing family rather than on a new baby. Felix could go to daycare so that Linc and his parents get more work done. Milo could do more extracurricular classes. We could start saving for their college funds, etc., etc. In short – the government couldn’t pay me enough money without going broke to get me to make another baby.
So now the German politicians and anybody else involved in the debate are looking into other ways to facilitate reproduction, particularly among young and educated citizens. The compatibility of raising kids with having a career is being brought up a lot. Childcare options need to me more widely available, work hours more flexible, pay rates and employment opportunities equal between mothers and child-less people.
Well, Germany, I can give you that perspective as somebody who is working with a highly progressive company in a very flexible job that allows me to raise children while having a perfectly fulfilling career: It doesn’t make me want to have another baby either. Babies make the same job exponentially harder, regardless of how flexible it is. Sleep deprivation, distraction by sick children or other parental concerns, make it really hard to focus sometimes and you have to push yourself way harder to get the same results as back in the days when you were well rested and all that mattered was yourself and your own pleasure. Maybe if I had the right to be able to work part time, it would make life with children and career easier. But I still wouldn’t have another baby because of it.
In my eyes what it all boils down to is that a government can do whatever they want and it won’t change people’s attitude towards having children or how many they want to have. Some people want 3-4 kids and they will do it regardless of any circumstances. Some people want only 1 or 2 kids, and nothing can change their mind. The reality is that more and more people move over to the 1-2 kids spectrum, rather than pursuing the big family model.
Without quoting any studies or other scientific backup I’m gonna go ahead and use my own opinion to explain this phenomenon. Young people today want to fulfill themselves. As freely and long as possible. We have an abundance of different career paths, opportunities for great life experiences, travel, etc. We delay having children as long as possible.
What if being a mother is part of your need to fulfill yourself? Then you have satisfied that longing after one child. Maybe, only maybe, you will have a second baby to give your first child the opportunity to experience siblinghood. But anything beyond that would restrict your and your family’s opportunities unnecessarily. Everything would get more expensive, traveling and luxuries not longer affordable in the extend that we like, and life just more complicated and restricted. Three kids outnumber the parents. Three is the magic number when everything gets out of balance. When you have fewer hands than kids to handle.
It’s not for me. And nothing can change that.

February 1, 2013

Undoing The Mess

Welcome back to LincNic’s home renovation show! After a 5 month baby break we are back in business. Not quite full force yet, but with a totally manageable project – our walk-in closet. I have been waiting to tackle this project ever since we moved in and am especially excited about it since  this is not only about making a space look nicer, but also more functional. It’s no secret that I am a sucker for beautiful things, but most of you also know that functionality is even more important to me. With little time and money to spare, I like to have my life and household organized to maximum efficiency. If there is an empty corner in my house, I’ll take a storage ottoman or additional cabinet over a decorative vase any time. Form follows function, people!

Master Closet-3

And this builder grade closet just wasn’t cutting it for me. Yeah, it’s nice and big, but what good is that if I can’t use half of the space? The main conflict here is that I am not a clothes hanger, but a folder. It’s way faster for me and the sweaters don’t get stretched out. So, if you look at my side of the closet, there were only two shelves to hold my stacks of clothes – only one of them really within my reach. And a lot of empty space in between.

Master Closet-2

Lincoln’s side was dealing with other issues. He is neither a clothes hanger, nor a folder, but a putting-them-downer. Whatever has been taken off the shelves or racks, just ends up laying around somewhere.

Master Closet-1

We tried to make up for the lack of shelf space by using this big ass dresser which is taking up half of the closet.

Master Closet-4

On top of the dresser we don’t have enough organized space to hold all my earrings and the stuff that spills out of Lincoln’s pockets every evening.

Master Closet-8

 

Master Closet-9

The trash can is ugly black plastic and the black hamper so deep that I almost fall in head first every time I try to find those black socks in there.

Master Closet-6

So, what was the logical first step? Creating a hot mess in our bedroom.

Master Closet-10

Then it was time to rip all the stupid wire shelving out and make some swiss cheese.

Master Closet-12

Why, you ask? Because some genius decided to use threadless screws aka nails together with bolts to attach the shelves to the walls. So instead of being able to screw them out, my only option was to pull as hard as possible and try not to tear down my interior walls completely.

Master Closet-11

Two rounds of spackling ensued and left me with this blank slate.

Master Closet-13

Now this is where the real fun starts. Here’s the plan:

  • Paint the walls a grayish blue
  • Hack and install white Billy bookcases from IKEA
  • Build in some racks to maximize space usage
  • Get some nice storage bins for small things like socks
  • Bring in a tall mirror and an ottoman to sit on
  • Get a prettier laundry hamper and trash can
  • DIY some custom lamps
  • DIY a jewelry organizer for the wall
  • DIY an organizer for Lincoln’s pocket stuff
  • Find a solution to temporarily hold clothes that will be worn again
  • Get and hang some wall art
  • Maybe a rug
  • Do the happy dance!