bits & pieces

I'm not an expert on any single subject, but I'm opinionated about several.

I Caught the DIY Bug. January 4, 2012

Filed under: Parenting,Pregnancy — nemecke @ 2:05 pm
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As if Food Network, TLC and HGTV weren’t enough to make a DIY-er wannabe’s head explode, Pinterest had to come sliding in and completely overwhelm the crafting world with an endless to-do list. Thank God for that virtual bulletin board because I’m not sure my desktop could hold all the virtual sticky notes necessary for my list of “must-do” projects and “can’t wait to try” recipe ideas.

So, like I mentioned, I caught the DIY bug and I don’t think I’ll be getting over it any time soon (no matter how many homemade chicken noodle soup recipes from Pinterest I try).  Since we do live in a day and age where your business is my business and my business is your business, I figured I’d share my recent projects with you. That’s the thing about DIY-ing, you get a real sense of accomplishment and you’re so proud of your work it seems almost against the rules not to share your outcomes with the world (even if the world is only the 15 people who may actually read your blog).

First project: Redo my antique ice box. My mom found this ice box at an antique store in Door County years ago when we had a cottage in Bailey’s Harbor. Even when I was 10 I “called” this piece and told her that as soon as she didn’t want it anymore (I knew she wouldn’t want it any more eventually – she loves to update and redesign every few years) I would like it. Fast forward seven or eight years and I was proudly displaying this beauty in my bedroom (still at my mom’s house, but it was mine!).

Funky and quirky but badly scratched ice box.

So this ice box is an antique and then it lived in our cottage for a few years, then it lived in my mom’s house and waited for me while I was in college. Finally it moved into my first apartment and has since come with me through five different moves. Needless to say, this guy was in rough shape. Although I thought the original (original to us anyway) colors were fun I decided he and I would grow up a little bit and we went with something a little less flashy. (By the way, yes that is my 1 year old in the picture chewing on a hinge).  I took all of the doors and hinges and legs off, brought everything outside and spray painted. First thing I learned – I love spray painting. For someone who wants immediate satisfaction out of their DIY projects, spray painting is the (only) way to go. And the finished product looks like…

Ta da!

Next project: Wrapping paper & ribbon holder.

I saw this idea over at 33 Shades of Green and it was immediately added to my list.

It actually looks a lot better now because it is hanging on my wall and has Christmas paper on it (I’ll have to insert an updated picture). Anyway, instead of buying a new frame I found this one for $2 at the local Salvation Army. It looked like this:

So what did I do? You guessed it! SPRAY PAINT! I just taped off the canvas and spray painted the frame and, once that was dry, I taped off the frame and spray painted the canvas.

Next step was adding cafe rods (I found mine at Menards – and taught the friendly high school boy trying to help me what they were). At this step Scott had to give me a quick tutorial on the power tools and then I was on my own! In hindsight I wish I would have added more rods and may go back and do that someday as this frame could hold a lot more than 5 rolls of paper. But I’m happy with the convenient storage and think it looks pretty on the wall in my craft room (a.k.a. spare bedroom).

And then…my favorite and most recent project:

I MADE MY OWN NURSING COVER. And by made I mean I sewed it all by myself! I hated the nursing cover I used with B because it did not have any of that boning on top that allowed you to actually see your child but that kind retails for $30 or $40 and, as someone who loves a good deal, I know that is not a good deal. A friend sent me an online tutorial from the Mama Monster and I got to sewing!

First I found this fun fabric in the clearance bin at JoAnn Fabrics.

And then the fun began. You guys, I DID NOT HAVE TO CALL MY MOM DURING THE SEWING OF THIS NURSING COVER. That. Is. Success. I did have to get my seem ripper out once or twice (ok three times total) but there were no angry, frustrated, fix this now phone calls to my mother. She is thankful. I am proud. This is not a tutorial (that’s why I linked to Mama Monster) so let’s get to it, the finished product!

Look closely, this thing has boning, straps and D-rings!

My first ever straps (Adjustable with D-rings!)

Can't wait for my baby girl to get here!


Yes, I’m Proud of That and No, I Don’t Like Your Book. March 22, 2011

Filed under: Parenting — nemecke @ 2:33 pm
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The other day I was really excited to start reading a book I had spotted called Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay and Other Things I Learned as a New Mom (already the title is way too long, I should have known). I feel like I’ve taken a pretty light-hearted approach to parenting so far and I thought this was going to be a fun, quick read that gave me additional fuel for my genuine “being a mom is super fun and happy-go-lucky” fire.  Turns out the author is actually burning a “motherhood is dark and dreary and a literal hell on Earth” fire. Who does she think she is? And why, oh why, are people reading this book? I’ve been racking my brain to find ways I can get all of my money back. Really if I even end up spending 1 penny on this I’ll be upset. For two and a half years at Barnes & Noble I found no issues with their 14 day return policy and slightly enjoyed turning people away when they tried returning something after their two weeks had passed. But now I’m the customer so…what kind of crappy, scheming, unfair return policy is 14 days?! I’m going to Borders. (Kidding. I’d never do that. Not when there’s Amazon and BookMooch). I could be reading the new Jodi Picoult book and instead I wasted my money on a book that shames every one of my mothering decisions. I took time to choose a pediatrician carefully, I didn’t put bumpers in the crib, I chose to breastfeed and I definitely look forward to new milestones. I’m proud of them.  But I’m a crazy, stupid, new mom according to this total waste of paper. Save the trees! This book is suppose to be funny. It’s just not funny. I’m not a book snob. I read lots of books and always feel the need to finish them but this book is stupid.

Ok. I’m not going to rant about that anymore. It’s not worth it. But sippy cups really could be for Chardonnay if you wanted them to be, damnit!

Before I started reading the anti-parenting book I kept on noticing how proud I’m feeling about the silliest things lately. I’ve always been a good eater but I’ve never actually felt proud of myself after polishing off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s (did you see they have a new kind with chocolate covered potato chips? Add to shopping list. . . ) but when B ate two cubes of baby food instead of one it was cause for celebration! When he moved from two to three I almost planned a party. My kid is eating THREE cubes of pureed peas for dinner plus baby oatmeal and breastmilk. He. Is. A. Champ.

When we decided to start giving him one bottle a day again to make sure he doesn’t have any issues with a bottle and to make sure our frozen milk supply doesn’t go bad it was really just another excuse for my heart to swell with pride. Six ounces at a time?! Unbelievable.

Successful tummy time, supporting himself up on his arms, unintentionally rolling from his front to his back, sitting up without a support, a good sneeze and a great burp. I am proud of it all! My own son is doing these things. How about that?! My son! I mean my God, what am I going to do when he’s the starting pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers I can barely contain myself when he figures out how to make Sophie squeak.

This is what parenting is all about. Enjoying all of the little moments because, right now, they are big moments. As parents we have every right to celebrate these little achievements and to be proud of them. We get to laugh at them and laugh at ourselves for bragging about bodily functions and growth chart percentages. If your goal is to document parenthood in a light-hearted and funny way then write about the silly things you do as a new parent in a way that makes other parents feel its okay, not in a way that makes new parents feel ashamed of their feelings.

I ate all my carrots!

I'm getting so strong!


What a Shrimp! March 8, 2011

Filed under: In General,Parenting — nemecke @ 10:06 pm
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When I was little my twin sister, step-brother and I took swimming lessons at the YMCA. I don’t remember many of the details but for some reason I cannot forget the fact that my brother and I got moved up to the Minnow group and my twin-sister was stuck back with the Guppies.  I’m not sure if it’s a permanent memory because I’m saddened by it or because I find it hysterical.

Yeah. It’s hysterical.

Besides the fact that I think water safety is important and that I want to go swimming with Brayden this summer, I also don’t ever want him to be the Guppy kid when he’s at a pool party with a bunch of Minnows. So I signed him up for swimming lessons at our local Y.

Before his first lesson we put him in the water to see how he’d react (better to have a private fit than a public one). Turns out we may have a swimmer on our hands! Lord knows he’ll have built in flippers and an enormous wing span.

No tears and, along with some purple feet, we also got a few smiles!

I am, of course, a very proud mommy.

And, last but certainly not least – look at this face! Love, love, love.

Swimming lessons are now in full swing and Brayden is 1 of only 4 Shrimp. He is the youngest of the group but he holds his own! Again we have avoided tears because it seems that, as long as there is water and little, baby fingers to splash it with, all is well in the world. If he was graded on actual class activities he would clearly get an A for effort but would not score quite as highly in a skills test. But really, can your 6 month old sit on the side of the pool, twist his body so that his hands are supporting him on the wall and then propel himself into the water? Can he hang from the side of the wall and move from side to side? Can he sit on the wall holding a kick board and then jump into the water on my 1-2-3 count? The class description says “6 to 18 months” and apparently they actually meant “120 to 180 months.” Maybe he won’t be the next Michael Phelps but he sure as hell will be a Minnow.


Vegas ain’t got nothin’ on this. February 22, 2011

Filed under: In General,Parenting — nemecke @ 10:20 pm
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Two weekends ago Scott was off on his annual boys trip to Vegas and that left me, Brayden and the dog to hold down the fort. The last time he left for a few days he came home to a freshly painted family room, back hallway and bathroom. A standard was set. I needed a project.

Thankfully a couple of months ago I found a diamond in the rough calling my name on a curb in Green Bay.

And apparently it once belonged to Linda. Oh Linda, didn’t you see the potential!?

I did. And so it was shoved into the backseat with Brayden and then eventually hauled to  Milwaukee where it sat until a plan was formed in my head and an agenda free weekend awaited me.

After some “toy box” Google Image searches, a trip to the craft isle at Walmart and a short brainstorming session it was time to paint.

My original thought was to draw my design on with pencil but I couldn’t stop thinking about those ugly smudges left by all pencil erasers. Either I needed to draw it on without any mistakes (in that case why not just use a Sharpie?) or I needed another solution. Ah ha! I have one, lonely piece of chalk in a zip lock bag in my junk drawer. It’s been waiting for its turn.

The base coat is painted, the design is finished – time to bring this thing to life!

And there you have it, Brayden’s very first toy box and my very first furniture painting experience. It’s not perfect and I certainly didn’t stay in the lines, but I had a lot of fun doing it and the whole process made me really happy.  Even silly things like painting a toy box seem so much more special when you’re doing it for your child.  As soon as he’s old enough I’ll tell him all about how mommy painted that just for him and, because of that knowledge, I’m positive that he’ll always pick up all of his toys and put them back in the box and he will never refuse to share his toys with any future sibling(s).

By the way, I also hung two large picture frames on the wall of our dining room that weekend and I don’t think Scott has noticed those yet.  But he was really impressed with the toy box!


Baby’s First Christmas January 4, 2011

Filed under: Parenting — nemecke @ 8:42 pm
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Christmas Joy

This was our first Christmas with a kid and, since it is too early for him to understand any of it, it was a good year for us to be able to really soak in the true meaning of the holiday and the true joy of the season. Since late August we have been trekking our way through parenthood and getting better at it every day (if I do say so myself) and the holidays actually gave me a chance to breathe and let the joy, the peace and the hope of mommy-hood settle in. Who knew the holidays would get more relaxing after having kids? Turns out you go to a lot of different celebrations all of which have grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends just dying to hold and play with your little one. Mommy & Daddy get a chance to relax and talk to adults!

Brayden will never remember Christmas 2010 but for us it will always be a special one. Besides the fact that he rolled over for the first time the day after Christmas, it is also the first year we celebrated as our own little, growing family. The first year the fact that it won’t be long before we need to once again take Santa and Rudolph and cookies & milk seriously settled in. The first year all of the hoopla and the gifts and the going-going-going really took a back seat to what was important.

It’s not about us anymore and somehow that is actually a really wonderful thing.

I have a feeling 2011 will be quite the year for us. We have a lot to look forward to. We have a lot of growing and changing to do. In 2010 we were very, very blessed and now in 2011 we have a lot to be thankful for.

God bless!

Christmas Hope


Hey, they forgot to invent a word for this. September 26, 2010

Filed under: Parenting,Pregnancy — nemecke @ 9:55 pm
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It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, it’s been over 4 weeks in fact. In the past time would pass and I’d think of it in terms of a “few” weeks or a “couple” of days. But once a baby is introduced into your life you start counting time much more specifically – it has been exactly 4 weeks and 1 day since Brayden Thomas was born. Therefore, it has been over 4 weeks since I’ve exercised the blogging parts of my brain. It feels good to be back! (It also feels good to have a happy, peaceful, sleeping baby next to me).

So are you wondering what they forgot to invent a word for? I’ll tell you. There is no word in our current, English language dictionary that adequately describes what it feels like to have a baby. I don’t mean what it physically feels like (for me that word would be “hell”), I mean what it feels like emotionally. I really like jeans that fit well. I love ice cream. I really enjoy going for walks. I think shooting stars are amazing. So when I try to describe what I feel about Brayden it doesn’t seem right that I say I love him, that I really like him, that I really enjoy him, that I think he’s amazing. Shouldn’t there be a special word that is designated just for this? There should be something you’re not allowed to use for anything else. Like if someone actually tried using this word to describe how they felt about pizza everyone else in the room would go completely still and quiet and they’d stare at the culprit with their mouths wide open until it was so awkward she would just turn and leave and think about what she’d done all the way home.

So it might be best to either just make a word up or combine some of the best options we already have. Fabulous is a pretty good word. And so is incredible. So we could describe this feeling as fabible. I also like super and splendid. Maybe having Brayden makes me feel supdid. I actually really like supdid but maybe not for this particular situation. That may actually be better for pizza and ice cream.

The point is, I’m head-over-heels in love with my son and I wish I had more words to express that with. All everyone talks about before you have a baby is the complete lack of sleep you’ll get. First of all, that’s not the case for us at all ’cause we have the best son ever. But the other thing is, when I have to wake him up to eat at 4am (yes, I have to wake him up to eat) I love it. Yes, I would like to be sleeping but instead I get to pick up the cutest baby in the world and cuddle with him while he fills up his little belly. I get to hug him and kiss him and rock him to sleep and tell him I love him and there are no other distractions. My computer is shut down, the TV is off, my phone isn’t ringing. It’s just the 2 of us hanging out for 15 minutes before we both go back to bed and get ready for another day. But what’s the word that accurately describes that??

But lets talk about something on a bit more of a serious note because I think this is important and I wish I would have talked about this more before having a baby. People say the moment the doctors put your baby on your chest for the first time is a moment you’ll never forget. People say when you have your baby it’s unbelievable and you’re completely in love immediately. People say there’s nothing like it. You know what I say? People are lying.

When you’re 9 months pregnant you start dreaming about getting your own body back and finally not being pregnant. The hours and days after you have a baby you feel so much worse than when you were pregnant you’d give anything to have the huge belly and the swollen ankles back. The last thing I felt capable of doing was taking care of a little, 9lb human being. I hadn’t slept in over 40 hours, I hadn’t eaten in over 24, I was sitting on ice, I was bleeding – I was in pain. So no, I didn’t feel head-over-heels in love at first sight. I felt like I needed them to finally give me the dinner they’d been holding hostage for hours and I felt like I needed to sleep for a few days.

When I got home my postpartum hormones were so strong I could cry at any moment and was barely able to hold back the tears no matter how hard I tried. Now I was home and still exhausted, sore, sitting on ice, bleeding etc. but I didn’t have nurses teaching me how to take care of my son and giving me pain medication every 4 hours. I didn’t come home to the euphoria they show you on TLC’s A Baby Story. I came home to reality. No one talks about reality.

Please don’t get me wrong, I loved my baby from day 1 but I want other moms to be realistic about it. I want other moms to know it’s OK to still have feelings besides intense love for your baby. You’re still a woman who just went through a very courageous and tiring 9 months of pregnancy and hours of childbirth. The more I have started to share my feelings with other women the more I’ve started to learn that I’m not alone. But no one talks about it. I called my mom crying because I felt like a horrible person for feeling these things. I wanted my old life back. I wanted to go to bed when I wanted to go to bed. I wanted to sit and watch TV in peace and quiet. But it’s OK, it’s normal! It’s a huge life adjustment and women are allowed to take time to do that. Every day life with Brayden has become more and more normal and after just a few short days with him, my euphoria finally did set in. My moments I’ll never forget started happening every single day. Now I agree, there isn’t anything like this. Every day I fall more and more in love with him. But I didn’t feel all of this immediately and I’m not a bad mom because of it. I want other moms to be aware that they may feel the same thing and that it doesn’t make them a terrible person or a terrible mom. Being a parent takes a lot of patience and I think that is one thing you do start learning immediately. Be patient and your sense of normalcy will come and with it you’ll also get the head-over-heels in love feelings that they haven’t yet invented a word for.


Ready Or Not Here Comes Parenting! July 30, 2010

Filed under: Parenting,Pregnancy — nemecke @ 11:22 pm
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Simultaneously I am both shocked that parenthood is a mere 3 (maybe?) weeks away and relieved that this 9+ month process is coming to an end and we are finally allowed to move on to the next big adventure.  The adventure, also referred to as parenthood, is coming at us fast and furious and at this point we have no choice but to be ready. I’m wondering, is it even possible to really be ready? Scott always says, “if you wait until you’re completely ready you’ll never have kids.” He’s a wise man. I mean, how could you ever know with 100% certainty that you’re ready to be a parent. This is a big deal. A really big deal.

I am, without a doubt, ecstatic about the fact that we get to meet our baby boy in a few weeks but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous. Nervous about the fact that Scott and I will be responsible for this little human, nervous about the fact that life as we know it is about to take a complete 180, nervous about the fact that everyone keeps on telling me that my next full night of sleep will be when I’m 40.

Emotionally I realize that I have absolutely no idea what I’m about to experience. Friends have told me the feeling you get when you hold your baby for the first time is indescribable and when they make eye contact with you it’s breath-taking. At this point I can only imagine what that actually feels like yet I know my imagination won’t even come close to reality. I remember a friend saying, “you think you love your husband – wait until you have a baby.”

And I really love my husband.  As excited as I am to be a mom, I am equally, or possibly even more, excited to witness Scott as a dad.  Simply put, he will be amazing. Since I’ve known him he has been a natural with kids (at least once they’re at an age when they do things besides sleep and eat). His behavior has given me glimpses into what I imagine he’ll be like with his own children and I’m so excited to watch that relationship play out. In our future I picture daddy building forts out of couch cushions and card board boxes, buying a baseball glove as soon as our little guy’s hand is big enough to hold it and practicing throwing a football before we’ve even mastered basic speech. I picture piggy back rides, airplane rides and wrestling sessions on our bed. I imagine our little guy balancing on dad’s lap while he checks his email, sitting next to him on the couch yelling “Go Packers!” and standing by him in the backyard with his little, plastic set of golf clubs while dad practices putting.  This little boy doesn’t know it quite yet, but he’s lucking out in the dad department.

The nursery is ready, the baby clothes are washed and put away, the stroller is assembled, the car seat is in the car.  As far as the “necessary” gear, we’re covered. So now we wait and we sleep because ready or not, here comes parenting!