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Friday, March 27, 2015

New House : Picking Paint Colors : Part One


And I haven't even moved yet.

This is part one because I haven't finalized anything or even put paint on the walls. This is just basically thinking out loud and I'm sorry you're being subjected to it.

We close on Monday (if all goes well) but we're actually getting the keys on Saturday. The current homeowners are kindly hosting a meet-and-greet with the neighbors so we can meet them and get introductions, so we're just getting the keys then. How nice is that?? Final walk-through is Sunday, then everything is done Monday. YIKES. It took forever to get to this point (I think we first saw the house in November?) but once it started moving, it really went fast.

(I LOVE the labeling system I made. I'll probably write an entire post just about these damn labels.)

Before we move in, we want to get the new floors in and get the living areas and the girls' rooms painted. So I'm doing all I can to narrow down the paint colors now in order to start painting immediately. The girls' rooms are easy - I'm duplicating their rooms here (SHUSH I LOVE THEM AND I'M TELLING MYSELF IT WILL MAKE THE TRANSITION EASIER). Most of the walls on the main floor are getting the same color, which will be broken up by the teal-ish kitchen in the middle, since we aren't touching the kitchen yet. And since such a big area will get the color, I'm totally stressing out about picking the perfect one. I originally wanted to go greige.

So I went to Home Depot (the closest home improvement store), Sherwin Williams, and Ace Hardware (the closest location that carried Benjamin Moore) and picked up like 50 paint chips of all of the grays, greiges, and kinda-gray colors I could find (it was surprising how many looked gray when I was grabbing them, but when I had them all laid out were clearly blue or brown or purple or green). I also looked on Pinterest for a list of the best neutrals and the best grays and the best greige paint colors and tried to make sure to grab chips from those as well (hence the special trips to SW and BM). Some of the most popular ones I continually saw listed and being recommended were BM Revere Pewter (does everyone have this in their house now? It's everywhere!), BM Edgecomb Gray, SW Perfect Greige, SW Repose Gray, SW Mindful Gray, SW Agreeable Gray, and SW Versatile Gray.  (To be honest, some of those are possibly supposed to be spelled grEy but I stopped double checking after the first one.)

The rejects

As soon as I got home, I sat in a patch of filtered sunlight (so there wouldn't be any white balance issues from light bulbs), got a big piece of white posterboard, and spread them all out. I then went through and sorted out all of those off-color ones (the blues and greens and browns and purples and ones that immediately stuck out as too light or too dark). Doing it on white is important, as the painted walls will have an effect the color of the chip. After doing that, I had a stack of about 25 left.  While I originally thought I wanted a greige - more taupe than gray - I was finding myself drawn to the chips that had less brown in them.  I decided I want the perfect soft, warm gray. But not too taupe or with too many undertones. But still warm feeling. Is that too much to ask? (Possibly yes.)

Those 25 I stuck to a piece of white foam core. This let me carry the sample board around to different areas of the house and look at the chips in various lighting situations. It was crazy how different a color looked just rotating the board 90 degrees to the adjacent wall! There were a few that I absolutely LOVED in one position, but as soon as I moved the board, they completely changed color from the soft gray that I wanted to, like, a dark brown. COLOR IS WEIRD GUYS.  I also looked at it throughout the day as the natural light changed. Doing this let me pretty quickly get rid of a few (like the three in the top right, which were too dark and too brown for my wants).

I kept all of my rejects handy in a bag and glanced through it a couple of times just to make sure I hadn't made any rash decisions. A few made it back to the board for reconsideration, but all came back down pretty quickly. Over the course of the next couple days, I narrowed it down to nine. 

Same chips, same time of day, three different walls

I then looked on Pinterest and Google Image Search for rooms decorated in those colors and made a Pinterest board for each color.  This was helpful because when I would first google/Pinterest search for images related to the color, not all the results actually featured the color at which I was looking. So by making a board, I was able to curate my results and view a page of images featuring just the color in question (I also clicked through to all the images to make sure that the source cited the color as being what the Pin said - there were a few that were captioned as being one color, but when I actually clicked through, the original source said a completely different color).  This helped me go from nine colors to the final five (you can view the boards here if you want: Requisite GrayMarch WindNightingaleSmoke EmbersEssential Gray). 

With the Pinterest boards, I was looking to see the variances in color and how the paint looked when an entire room was painted. Looking at image collections for each color let me knock out another four - when I looked at a number of images all together, I could see that I disliked the color on the majority of the images for a few of the colors (one was too light, one was too dark, one was greener than I wanted, and one was more brown). I wouldn't ONLY use Pinterest or Google in order to pick a color - your computer's screen might not be color calibrated, or the picture might have been taken with a flash, or it might be over or under exposed, etc. It's almost impossible to get a true idea of color based on what you see on your screen. However, looking at a collection of images definitely helps you see the color in a number of different lighting situations and with different colors of furniture and flooring, as well as on a larger scale. 

The Final Five
(1st row - SW Requisite Gray, BM March Wind. 2nd row - BM Nightingale, BM Smoke Embers. 
3rd Row - SW Essential Gray)

So I currently have five swatches on a piece of foam core that I'll be taking to the house on Saturday when we go for the meet-and-greet. Since SW samples only come in quart sizes for $6.99 each (SEVEN DOLLARS?!?!) I really don't want to buy more than one of those...expensive, plus I don't want to waste nearly an entire quart of paint for whatever colors I don't choose. The BM paint samples are on sale for $0.99 each from Ace until the end of the month, so I'll probably get a sample of both of the BM colors, even if they aren't in my final group. 

My next step will be to get the samples, then paint a piece of foam core or posterboard to make a mega-swatch and hang it up. I don't want to paint directly on the wall, because I don't want the sample to be tainted by the surrounding color. (I could avoid that by priming, but LAZY). Hopefully looking at the huge swatches will let me pick a fave. If I'm being honest, I think I couldn't go wrong with any of the final five, though. 

I cannot believe I just wrote an entire post about PAINT COLORS. 

What is my life even? 

I deeply apologize to any modicum of writing talent or smidge of interesting personality that used to  exist. I have failed you. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Letters to Emmeline : Fifteen Months

Dear Emmeline,

I figured I would try to get your 15 month letter out in a more timely manner. Exactly a week late is basically on time, right?

Oh, kiddo. Every day I see that my (probably) last baby is just not a baby anymore. You are so very much entering true toddlerhood and leaving babyhood far behind. You interact with the world in more more sophisticated ways lately and it's kind of blowing my mind. Your Nana is always commenting about how you appear to be taking in the world around you and really considering it. You observe. You watch. You learn. You're very contemplative in new situations - but that's not to say you're always a serious baby. You are, at times, but you're also silly and smiley.

You point to everything. You see a thing that interests you, and you point to it, with the intent of getting whoever is with you to take you to the interesting thing. We went to the zoo, and I don't think you put your arm down once. Your pointer finger was fully extended the entire time. Everything from peacocks to monkeys to crows to rocks - you wanted to examine them all. Whenever you see a painting or picture on the wall, you want to look at it up close.

You love to read and to carry around dolls, whether baby dolls or Carys's Barbie-type dolls. Or Niall from One Direction. You love to pick up the trashcan (why?) and carry it around the house before ceremoniously dumping the contents all over (WHY?). In fact, you love to throw pretty much anything on the ground. Trying to clean or put clothes away with you around is like trying to stack papers in a tornado.

(Cuddling a real baby on the left - somewhere in that blue blanket under her!)

You love to play with our Kinetic Sand - it might be your very favorite thing in the entire house. You've just recently discovered coloring, and you especially love to color on the walls. And you really especially love to sob when I take the markers away from you to stop you from coloring on the walls (I'll redirect you to a piece of paper, but you really just want to decorate the walls.) Since we're packing to move, we have broken down cardboard boxes, and I opened one up and laid it out on the floor and both you and Carys have enjoyed coloring all over it. We also prop it up and use it as a tunnel, or a house, or a tent, or whatever else our imagination comes up with (well, Carys's imagination).

I really do think you're saying "daw" for "dog," and "dah" for "dad." You have a specific sound for Carys - kind of a "caw" - so we're getting there with words. You know eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and tummy and can point them out on other people. I don't think you've quite realized that you have the same body parts (except for tummy - you love to pick up your shirt and poke your tummy when I ask where your tummy is!). You can eat with a fork and drink from a real cup (though I don't let you alone, since you immediately dump it out). You love bathtime and walks.

You blow kisses and give big, open-mouth kisses and giant hugs on command. You've become such a climber and adventurer - climbing up on anything and everything, from your crib to the pile of boxes in the hallway to the TV stand to the bookshelves. You put together simple puzzles and sit and read books to yourself.

You've entered the hitting stage, much to Carys's dispair. Prior to this, all she had to watch out for was hair pulling, but now you hit. And hard! And with objects! We're constantly reminding you to be "soft." "Soft touch, Emmeline!" is heard all day long around here.

It's been so nice this month that we've been able to get outside and go on walks, and you....you really aren't sure about walking on that spongey surface known as grass. As a winter baby, you learned to walk when it was too cold to go outside, so you've been walking for four months indoors and never experienced walking on grass until now. And you just kind of freeze up as soon as your feet touch the bare ground. We're going outside every day to get you used to it, because kid - the best adventures come from walking on grass. So you need to get used to it! You can't be a great explorer if you won't walk on grass!

You are still not sleeping through the night and I'm just kind of at a loss. Crying it out doesn't work - I hate to say that I've tried, but I have, several times. You just cry and cry and cry to the point where you make yourself sick, and I can't leave you to do that. You'll sleep through the night some day, right??? RIGHT?!?!?!?! And that's really all I can say about that because if I think about the fact that I haven't slept more than three hours in a row in 15 months* I'll be the one crying.

(Note the two babies tucked under your arms)

*Except for one night when you stayed the night at Nana's house.

You really are such a love, Emmeline. After I pick Carys up from daycare, the first thing she says is, "Now go get Emmeline! I missed her!" Life wouldn't be nearly as special without you and those delectable dimples of yours.

Love you so much, little girl.

(Look at the size of those bags under my eyes. Damn.)


P.S. I almost forgot this and it's so huge it deserves its own postscript. STICKERS. You are completely obsessed with stickers. If you get a sheet of stickers, you'll entertain yourself for an hour - or until they're all gone. You stick them on yourself, on paper, on other people, delicately peeling them off one by one. You're getting a lot of stickers for Easter (shhhhh).

Friday, March 6, 2015

Letters to Emmy : Fourteen Months

January 12 to February 12, 2015
Dear Emmeline,

Dang. This is like way weeks late - I swear I wrote it. Except I didn't. It's just that the months are passing way too quickly. And you're getting way too big! Although we still call you "the baby" in everyday conversation...you are really not a baby.

While browsing for party ideas for your sister's 4th (wtf) birthday, I laughed at one mother's description of the party she planned for her one-year-old: "I wanted it to be sophisticated and girly, just like my daughter." I must not be traveling in the right circles, because although you're adorable and funny and oh-so-amazing, sophisticated you are not. I may need to enroll you in finishing school.

You've also entered the no-fear, crazy-toddler phase. I thought I'd escaped the crazy daredevil gene with you, but it's emerged with a vengeance. Your favorite thing to do currently is to launch yourself over the armrest of the couch down to the kid's stuffed chair that sits next to it. And you're always climbing me. Even when I'm holding you, you're trying to climb up my body so that you're basically standing on my shoulder - you want to get higher, higher, higher. Your dad put you on top of the refrigerator yesterday and you thought that should pretty much be your new perch always. I can't pass the fridge now without you reaching out towards it, begging me to put you up there.

Although you still aren't talking yet (or weren't as of the 12th of February, though it maybe possibly has changed as of the time I'm publishing this?), your skills and abilities are developing at incredible speed. I watch you  maneuver a small item into place with one hand, or place a shape into a shape sorter on the first try, or ease a puzzle piece into place and I'm like, "WTF. When did you learn to do that?"

(This is when you reached yogurt on the way home from the grocery store and ripped it open with your teeth)

And you're definitely babbling more and more and I have a feeling a barrage of words is just around the corner (but maybe not - Carys certainly does enough talking for you that you might never need to speak). You say "mamamamamama" incessantly when you want me to pick you up and when you want milk, so you might be saying it to me? But I'm not ready to call it officially yet. I feel like I've been saying that for months. You definitely have a specific "ca" sound for Carys, but it's still a babble.

Your non-verbal communication, however, is stellar. You can point and grunt and squeal and make these incredible vocalizations to get your point across. And like complex thoughts, too. Not just caveman "me want" type thoughts. But things like, "I'd like you to put the paci back in this doll and then hand her back to me and then pick both of us up and put me in my highchair so I can play with her on the tray. NOW." And we often laugh (and inwardly cringe and wish for earplugs) at some of the sounds you make - our little pterodactyl, doing a high-pitched squeal-screech to make sure you get noticed. I'm assuming that's a second child thing.

While you do turn on the dramatics quite often - I saw what happened, kid, and it was just the softest bonk, no need for the waterworks - you are usually just so happy and content and your smile is the biggest and the best. And your huuuuuuggggggggs. They are the best. You totally and completely melt into the person you are hugging. Usually the object of this affection is your sister, but every once in a while you'll go all hug-crazy on me or your dad and we can't get enough (unlike your sister, who tolerates it for about two seconds, then squirms to get out of your grasp). You give these giant open-mouth kisses, too, and seriously, Em, you're just the sweetest. You melt me into a ball of goop.

You tend to be pretty shy and clingy around strangers, but for those of us that are lucky enough to know you, your smile just lights up our world. You still have the absolute best, cheesiest smile I've ever seen. I think I've probably mentioned your smile every letter but did I mention it's the best? And your dimples have stuck around (yay mom genes!). And your hair has the sweetest curls (and it's growing into a really lovely mullet). Your little cheeks have been red pretty much all winter (I'm sorry you live in Nebraska) but really the redness just emphasizes the roundess. And makes your cheeks completely irresistible.

You are still ALLLLLL about your sister, and ALLLLLLLL about her stuff, be it the food that she's eating or the toy that she's playing with - you want it. And you want to cuddle her. But only on your terms. God forbid she should try to give you an unwanted hug. Your favorite times are when the two of you are doing something together - a favorite is jumping in your crib. She climbs in with you and the two of you go to town and you just laugh and laugh and laugh.

You still don't sleep. I don't know what to do about that. I've pretty much given up. I expect to be getting up with you when you're in high school. You take awesome naps usually - sometimes 2+ hours two times a day - but at night, you just don't want to sleep longer than 3 hours at a time. (I've tried limiting your naps, but that just made your nighttime sleep worse - in this family, sleep begets sleep!).

You love babies - you have a baby friend at swim class and all you want to do is cuddle him all day long. Luckily he puts up with your affections. You have started to carry around a baby doll and are starting to take care of it - laying it down, covering it with a blanket, sometimes even rocking it.   You also are into puzzles - though you can't quite get the pieces in, you love taking them out and trying to put them back together. And, much like your sister, you LOVE books. You would happily sit and listen to a dozen books at a time. 

Your favorite foods are pasta with spaghetti sauce and mac and cheese and peas and yogurt. You've started to use a spoon to feed yourself, and you can drink out of a real cup (though I have to take it from you between drinks or you'll dump it out).

I just enjoy you so much (between the hours of 7am and 8pm). You're the cutest, happiest, silliest kid. I love you more than anything.