October 25, 2010

Lordy, Lordy, look who’s forty!

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:53 am by bethmillett

Well, it was a big birthday weekend! I turned 40 on Friday and celebrated with a great dinner with even greater friends. I was roasted and toasted, and wishes for the next stage of my life were bestowed upon me. Special thanks to my bestest friends Jen and Robyn for helping organize. Here I am with the fabulous cake Jen ordered for my birthday. It was exciting to have a real, live bakery cake, not just a sheet cake from a grocery. And it was delicious — white cake with white chocolate ganache and strawberry filling, with buttercream icing. I am going to freeze a few slices so my parents and I can enjoy a celebration when they visit at Thanksgiving.

After working a race on Saturday morning, I headed down to Bloomington for the Laherty’s hopefully-to-be-annual fall fun and games party. There was a ton of food, a fun survival adventure course through the property, corn hole, horseshoes, bobbing for apples, and of course, hayrides on Matt’s tractor. It was a great time, and it ended with a small group of us chatting around the campfire into the wee hours (well, wee hours for me — 10:30 or so!)

If the rest of my forties is as great as the first few days of my forties, I will be a lucky woman. I have never felt like my life is more on track. Between my big promotion to VP earlier this year and the birth of my son next year, as well as being surrounded by great friends and family, I feel happier and healthier than I ever have!

October 18, 2010

19 weeks

Posted in pregnancy at 8:28 pm by bethmillett

I’ve been feeling great lately — more energy and stamina than in the first trimester, so I’ve been getting a lot of things done around the house. I cleaned the garage out over two weekends and did a lot of purging of empty boxes, useless construction materials, and other things I will never need again (like the shoebox of photos and letters from the guy I broke up with 1997). My garage is probably about 50% empty now, which is just delightful. My parents might actually be able to pull their car into the garage when they are here in March for Buster’s arrival. (That’s what I’m calling him for now — still no progress on a “real” name, but I’ve got plenty of time for that.)

I am tearing out the old staircase railing, painting all the trim and installing new, more modern balusters and newel posts. (Well, I’ll admit that I’m having a handyman do the install. But I’d never pass up a chance for demolition.) I’m also tearing out the closet in the guest bedroom, an idea that never would have occurred to me, until my mom said, “You know, I have a secret plan for that room.” We had been talking about some old furniture I have and whether it should be moved into that room. So, her dream is to rip out the closet and to buy some dresser-type furniture to go on either side of the queen bed as storage and nightstands. Then, with an armoire on the wall opposite the head of the bed, she and Dad will have a much more spacious guest room, where I hope they’ll be spending lots more time.

Look for more pictures as those projects progress! In the meantime, here’s the last photo you’ll probably see of me in my thirties!

October 9, 2010

Snips and snails and puppy dog tails

Posted in pregnancy, Uncategorized at 5:59 am by bethmillett

It’s a boy!

October 7, 2010

Fireplace facelift

Posted in Home Improvement at 7:33 pm by bethmillett

Now that I’m enjoying that great second trimester burst of energy, I have a long list of little projects to finish around the house. The major work, like bathroom renovations and such, are complete, but there are a handful of little things that I’d like to get taken care of before I get too cumbersome or am busy taking care of the baby.

In order to make sure I get everything done, I’ve actually printed out weekly calendars from a couple of weeks ago to Thanksgiving, when my parents come for a visit. I’ve marked on each day what needs to get done, breaking projects down into planning/shopping/prepping/executing, so that I’ll have all those projects done and I can focus on the nursery in the last four months of my pregnancy.

Something I’ve wanted to do for a long time is paint the fireplace. I bought the paint a long time ago, but didn’t get around to it before the successful IVF attempt. Once I was pregnant, I wanted to wait out the first trimester, just to be on the safe side (plus, I was too exhausted to contemplate getting off the couch). I’m using latex paint, so it’s perfectly safe for me and the baby, so it was the first project I decided to tackle.

Here’s a before picture of the “naked” brick:

And here’s the after picture, painted Behr Polar Bear white, which is the same color as all the trim in my house:

Overall, it was a very easy job. I love painting, so it never seems like a chore. I googled “painting fireplace” to find some sites with detailed instructions and sort of blended suggestions from a couple of locations. Here’s what I did:

  1. Vacuumed the brick, brushed with a stiff brush (I used the brush I use to wash my car tires), and vacuumed again.
  2. I used soap and water to wash a part of the hearth that had some soot stains, but I didn’t wash the entire brick area. Call me lazy, but it didn’t seem to need it.
  3. Used some grout leftover from the master bathroom project to fill in some big cracks and minor holes in the grout. (The beautiful thing about painting the brick is that you don’t have to get a matching grout color!)
  4. After the grout had cured (two days), I taped off the walls and the firebox to keep paint off them.
  5. I used a brush to fill in the grout on the first coat of paint. (I should have tried using the roller, as I think that might have filled them in just fine.)
  6. I used the thickest nap roller I could find at Home Depot (I think it was 3/4″, designated for rough surfaces.)
  7. It took three coats of paint to completely cover the brick (a little more than half a gallon). I did two coats on Sunday and the final coat on Monday night, keeping the paint brush and roller in the fridge between coats.

My fireplace didn’t have a lot of soot or dirt, so I skipped the priming step that was recommended by one site. However, I was using the new Behr paint that claims to “prime as you paint.” I don’t know how much of a difference this made, but when I was shopping for paint, I figured it couldn’t hurt.

Over the years, I’ve discovered a few fabulous tools that I think make painting (or more importantly, the clean up) go really fast:

  • An official church key tool for opening paint cans. No more using a screw driver to pry the lids off — spend a couple of bucks to buy one of these as the paint counter. Or, in my case, buy several because you can never find them again.
  • A spout that snaps into the gallon can of paint. This makes it super easy to pour, and keeps paint from dripping down the outside of the can and in the lip where the lid fits in. When I am painting something that requires multiple coats of paint, I leave the spout in place, put the lid on top of it, and then cover the whole thing with aluminum foil. I wouldn’t do this for a project that takes two weeks, but when you need to use a can of paint every 12 or 24 hours for a couple of days, it makes it easy to access the paint.
  • Disposable paint tray liners are my favorite time-savers. They’re 50 cents a piece or something ridiculous like that, and instead of spending a lot of time and water to rinse out the paint tray, you just pull that baby out and throw it away.
  • Use a putty knife or utility knife to score the paint at the seam of the painter’s tape to make it easier to remove the tape without damaging the newly painted surface. If the tape rips and leaves you with a tiny shard of blue tape, use needlenose pliers to pull those off.

I recently saw a commercial for a new type of painter’s tape that I’m eager to try, but I didn’t think about it before I started this. It claims to form a better seal to the area you are protecting. The blue tape is great, but I find that the paint still bleeds a little bit behind the tape. I’m not sure what the point of taping is if you still have to go back and touch up with the original wall color!

October 6, 2010

Twister update

Posted in needlework at 7:58 pm by bethmillett

When I posted about the Twister counted needlepoint project in mid-September, I was a little nervous about the whole project. But I’ve found it really enjoyable to work on, and it is going very quickly. Here’s a photo of my progress to date:

I’ve been keeping track of the hours spent on the piece, something I’ve never done before, and I’m up to 34 hours.

The piece is a lot of fun because each color block is done with a different stitch, so even though the finished piece will be huge, it doesn’t get boring or repetitious. (I might feel differently when I get to doing the border — 72 linear inches of the basic tent stitch.) And the stitches are relatively each variations on basic needlework stitches, so it’s not too difficult.

I’m happy with the colors I selected and think it will look great on the wall between the kitchen and the family room. And it looks like it will be done sooner than I thought! However, I may have to take a hiatus later in my pregnancy. The frame is so huge that it’s already hard for me to negotiate myself behind/underneath it. Either I’ll start using the baby as a table, or I’ll have to give up until I’m skinnier again.

October 5, 2010

17 Weeks

Posted in pregnancy, Uncategorized at 8:03 pm by bethmillett

It was hard to figure out when to start posting pictures of the baby bump. I’m never going to be a swimsuit model, and the hormones for the IVF procedure had already padded my belly a bit, so it was hard to tell when it stopped being me and started being the baby.

But I can certainly tell a difference, at least in the way it feels, if not in the way it looks. Last week I was laying on my stomach trying to coax a cat out from under the bed, and things were definitely firmer than they had been, like there’s really something besides donuts and beer.

On Friday I’ll have an ultrasound to get a good look at all the internal organs and bones, measuring things and making sure that everything is developing the way it should be. And I’ll also find out the gender so I can stop referring to it as “it.” Look for an update soon!


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