Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chalkboard-Painted Clementine Boxes

For the last month or so I've been HOUSING Clementines, with the help of a certain 3 foot tall member of the family. My friend Christa has some empty Clementine boxes in her kitchen to hold various sundry objects, so I figured I really needed to stop throwing them out.

clementine box

Nathan's toys are all over the place, so I figured they could be useful under the TV. I coated the front panel in the chalkboard paint leftover from the kitchen cabinets, and used chalk to denote what goes in them. Not like Nathan reads. Or puts his toys away. But it looks good, damnit!


I like the way it came out. Also, you will note from the above picture that an IKEA entertainment center made of MDF is not to be trusted, as it's all warped from use.

He Didn't Even Throw Him On The Floor. Bonus.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Now I Can Never Leave

Our older neighbors next door snowblowed the end of our driveway today - the guy next door has always been really nice, and they knew we had a new baby and Mike had surgery, so he's done it a few times for us. I'm currently baking up some pumpkin spice muffins to give them as a thank-you, hopefully it won't be too awkward to knock on their door.

Anyway a few weeks ago my brother came up with one of his construction buddies to take care of the last few major projects in the house - fixing our downstairs bathroom where our dog, Bob, ripped out some drywall, and putting in a subway tile kitchen backsplash, finally getting rid of the terrible 1960's wallpaper that was not even vintage cool, just terrible.


Sure, I *could* have moved the PB&J out of the way, but you try doing anything with a toddler and an infant. I dare you.


This used to be a piece of cut stainless steel sheet behind here. Looks SO MUCH BETTER now.


The kitchen will never be magazine-perfect, but it's small and for 4 people and it's lived in and dangit, I can write recipes on any of the cabinets. Like pizza dough. Good to have pizza dough.

Anyway now that the house looks pretty much awesome, I don't really ever want to leave, even with the distance to Boston or anywhere that isn't the Atlantic ocean, and the sometimes crappy neighborhood. Sure, I'd like to live on some kind of hobby farm selling eggs to people, but that's a lot of work.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Parenting's kind of only as expensive as you want it to be.

Now that I'm back into the swing of parenting a newborn, I've noticed a bunch of articles, blog posts, or whatever on "Baby Cost Calculators!", "Can You Afford A Baby?", or any variation on "What to Buy for Babies!"

I realize from experience that when you're first expecting, you have an urge to buy new stuff, and possibly roll around in the floor all over the cute tiny infant outfits. Those $1000 bedroom sets sell like hotcakes. I'm vaguely aware of some phenomenon known as a "diaper cake" that gets presented at baby showers.

But honestly? Unless you live in the woods and no one likes you because you smell, people will buy you things, and hand you bags of clothes. And even if people buy you nothing, you can get SO MUCH secondhand for a fraction of the new cost. Nathan's crib was $35 on Craigslist, and his dresser is a hand-me-down (but his big-boy dresser was also on Craigslist for $30). I prefer the antique, beat-up, not matchy look anyway. Consignment shops have a litany of outfits, shoes, strollers, and assorted baby gear. Of course, the one caveat is to be careful to make sure you don't get something that's been recalled - or talk to the shop owner to see if you can return the item if you get home and look it up and find out it is recalled.

I even got car seats and bases from a trusted friend - sure, you could buy those on Craigslist, and I even gave an extra away on Freecycle, but I'm the kind of mom who won't take the very, very minute risk that they've been in an accident or thrown across a room or expired or otherwise unsafe for my pwecious cargo. And the big convertible car seats that come after the babybuckets? The Cosco Scenera is something like $60-80 on Amazon, it's well-rated, and also one of the slimmest carseats on the market.

And then there's cloth diapering. I've dropped maybe $300 on diapers for the two kids, and an additional $50 or so on disposables for emergencies, vacations, etc. It's work, and the extra water for another 2 washes a week isn't free, but diapers for a kid from infanthood through potty-training can be thousands of dollars. And then double that for the second kid. It's not the easiest thing in the world, but it's not especially hard - and I'd rather put an emergency load in the washer than run out to a store during a snowstorm for disposables. It really wasn't too much of a burden even when I was in school full-time. And I do all the washing.

Of course, pontificating about how cheap it *can* be ignores the whole childcare issue, and some people can't breastfeed and pump at work easily - adding thousands more in formula costs. I know that's the dealbreaker for a lot of people because it's horribly expensive, and I'm lucky for not having to go that route. We will once I graduate and go back to the work force. I'd worked out a schedule with my former employer where Mike and I would each be able to take days off to care for Nathan, but that plan blew up when I got laid off instead. I assume that when I work, I'll be going back full time and Mike will only be part-time, but there's no use planning for the unplannable at this point.

Anyway, Craigslist is your friend. So are consignment shops. Save that cash for your kid's college fund. Or for a vacation for yourself once your kids are old enough.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011