Guest Post from Katrina of Cedars and Tiny Flowers

02 March 2013

I was pleasantly surprised when sweet Katrina offered to write a guest post for the weeks following the birth of Theo. She is one of the kindest internet spirits and is always mindful of the holidays and weekends that Simon is working and sends distracting funny YouTubes and thoughtful emails my way. She blogs over at Cedars and Tiny Flowers about life with her husband and adorable son Ryan. She is bestowing some of her wisdom for any apartment/small space dwellers with kidlets. I can't thank her enough for popping over!

I am thrilled to be writing a guest post for Grace, but I have to admit that I have been dragging my feet since I have been a teensy bit (a lot) intimidated. I mean this is Grace Patton, laughter-inducing extraordinaire. Kind of a big deal. So each time that I sat down to write, the tips of my fingers would tingle like they do when I see Olympic divers on the platform (does that happen to anyone else?), and I would end up not writing. Finally, when I was out in California helping my mother-in-law out after the birth of my new brother-in-law (number 12!), I found myself herding a disabled and wobbly nine-year-old sister-in-law with a freshly changed diaper, a distraught three-year-old brother-in-law with a number two crime scene in his underwear, the two-week-old brother-in-law who had just set off an explosion in his own tiny diaper and my own little one-year-old mischievous magnet that I had just pried away from the mountain of breakables a.k.a. the Christmas tree to the bathroom all while doing a potty dance myself. Amidst holding out clean underwear for the three-year-old to step into, promising the hungry nine-year-old dinner, trying to keep my one-year-old from adding to his daredevil decorations (forehead bruises) by not falling off the bathtub steps again, and the naked two-week-old's locked and loaded water gun letting loose on my boot, I silently commanded myself, "You MUST write that post for Grace. This. Is. Her. Life. Every. Day." So here I am! Reporting for duty to Camp Patton.
The culprits that helped me make the jump and report to CP
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Bringing Home Baby – Apartment Edition
Just a bit over a year ago, my husband, Chris, and I brought our brand spanking new son Ryan home from the hospital to our...rented apartment. That is right, we weren't/aren't homeowners. And we have a baby! What horrible parents! Okay, we might not be horrible parents (just ones who have no clue what they are doing), but I do feel as though society gives off the impression that the only suitable home a bundle of joy should be brought home to is a house. While I was guilty of occasionally pining for aspects of having a house (overhead lighting! no floor lamps! more windows! a yard! storage space! a quaint nursery!) and I think house living is wonderful, life in our apartment with a baby was pretty blissful. So today I am going to focus on the positive and try to boost the self-esteem of apartments around the world.

Cozy under the Christmas tree in our humble apartment

TOP FIVE POSITIVES ABOUT LIVING IN AN APARTMENT WITH A BABY
No stairs. You know that proud moment when your sweet, more-advanced-at-gross-motor-skills-than-all-the-other-babies-on-the-planet baby figures out how to crawl up the stairs? And then that sinking moment when you realize you need to go out and buy the strongest baby gate (cha-ching!) because that gross motor genius baby just happens to also be lacking a little thing called depth perception? Never happens in a little two bedroom, one bath apartment.

Other people fix your stuff. Assuming that you have a responsible landlord and maintenance crew, those loose tiles in showers, stopped up sinks and stuck closet doors, can be fixed by you only lifting a finger to fill out a maintenance request. If you become friends with the staff because you always bring your baby to pick up the mail, then you might experience the added plus of not having to pay for blinds that were ripped by a mobile baby while you were responsibly covering electrical outlets with covers. We are going to ignore the fact that you might have to put a shirt on to let the maintenance man in even though you are still trying to figure out nursing for seven hours of the work day because we are only discussing the positives in this post.

Low utilities, fixed utilities or no utilities. New babies can sometimes be seen as a pleasant excuse to crank up that thermostat that is normally on a budget-enforced lockdown since who knows if they are warm enough swaddled in a blanket and against your 98.6 degree body. Well, let me tell you from experience that it doesn't cost much to heat a 1000 square foot apartment so you can go ahead and experience that rebellious feeling from turning the dial up a few clicks. And you can go ahead and relish your new standard for what constitutes as rebellion.
We were also lucky enough to not have a water bill at our apartment. During one of the first few weeks home, we discovered that Ryan loved white noise, specifically the sound of water running. You can probably see where this leads. Baby cries, food lady isn't available or refuses to believe that the baby is hungry again since he literally just finished nursing fifteen minutes ago, water flows from the sink, baby calms down for a bit. This sequence happened more times a day than I would like to admit; as a desperate mother, I ignored Mother Earth. Please forgive me! I hope I can make it up to you one dirty cloth diaper at a time.

Force you to live simply. Chris' furniture from his bachelordom took up most of our apartment already so we made it a point to try and get by mostly on the baby things that were generously gifted to us. Miraculously, Ryan had no clue that he didn't have a jumperoo, bouncer, swing, crib, baby wipe warmer, changing table, baby monitor or infant stroller. He still woke up like this every morning despite being deprived of much of the latest in baby hardware:

And now for my favorite positive of them all...
   
Can vacuum the whole apartment from one outlet. Amazing. If you want to be able to appear annoyingly clean to all of your mommy friends thanks to their best-texts-to-receive-ever messages saying that they running late (okay, running on normal time with little ones), then rent an apartment and marvel at the easy four-minute-tops workout you can get from vacuuming while holding a baby and only having to plug that sucker (polite haha) in once. Not to mention positive número uno...no stairs to lug a vacuum up! Because who needs a strength workout when you just speed- vacuumed with a twenty pound babybell?

Thanks for having me, Grace! I send lots of wide open mouth toddler kisses to Theo, Basher and Julia (and Simon, if he would like one) from Ryan. And to you, I send you prayers for a trio of champion synchronized nappers.


Now off you trot to read more where that came from. Thanks Katrina!

21 comments:

  1. Yay, Katrina!!! This is great! I love my real life/internet friends connecting! I guess I should get back to my blogging before you all forget me :)

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    1. :) Please do! I need some Hawthorne Diaries in my life.

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  2. Katrina+Grace=unimaginable wonderfulness!

    The thing that spoke most to me was: live simply. We've been through times of lack and times of abundance, and it is becoming very clear to me that we are entering a time of simplicity like never before, and the one who needs the lesson most is ME! So, thank you for teaching me (again) Katrina!

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    1. :) Thank you Jeannine! I often need a reminder to live simply, but when I do follow through it is so much easier.

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  3. Wow. This post was really, really great. We are renting a massive house now but are thinking of buying a very modest home instead. We have 3 kids, so the idea of downsizing can be daunting but this post reminded me of the benefits-- less cleaning, less stuff to clutter the space, & less money to heat the place. And I would imagine more family time because I'm not busy cleaning all the time? Thanks for showing the positives to living more simply!

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    1. Thank you, Kate! I do miss the quick cleaning and low bills. Close-quarter living gets a bad rap.

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  4. Great post Katrina...my husband and I got married in June, and sometimes its hard to imagine where we would put a wee one in our apartment! good post lady :)

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    1. Thank you, Patty! And it works out :) We had a two bedroom apartment and my brother-in-law lived with us so we had one bedroom for Chris, me and Ryan.

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  5. We brought our first baby home to an apartment and I miss it most for the one outlet vacuuming!

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    1. I miss it so much. The best secret of apartment living.

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  6. One bedroom apartment living is a good excuse for us to co-sleep when talking about it to my always worried parents!

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    1. Exactly! We had nowhere else to put the baby ;)

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  7. Great post! I will be moving into a small one story house when I get married in two weeks (!!). These kind of posts are helpful for the future!

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    1. Thank you! And early congratulations to you and your husband-to-be :) Enjoy marriage and your cozy house!

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  8. Great post! We owned a 4 bedroom house when we were a family of 4, then moved across the country to a MUCH higher cost of living, which only afforded us a 2 bedroom apartment, where 2 more kids were born. And. We. Loved. It. We moved across the country again a year ago into a 4 bedroom home again (and now about to deliver baby #5), but we miss the closeness of our family when we were in that apartment. It was so cozy. We loved that all 4 kids were piled into one bedroom. Honestly, they loved it, too. We are hoping to be able to move again and downsize to something smaller and with 3 bedrooms. In addition to missing the closeness it provided, the bigger house is too much to manage. Bleh. I say that smaller is better!

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    1. Thank you, Lauren! I so agree. We gravitate to the cozy spaces now in our home. Congratulations on baby #5!

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  9. This post absolutely spoke to me, since my husband and I are trying for our first child and I have been feeling let-down that we don't have a house and the baby will have to share a room with the computer desk and not have a dedicated nursery. You pointed out the great things about having an apartment (I totally vacuum my whole place by just plugging into one apartment) and made me so much more grateful for what I do have. :)

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  10. I'm a mom of 2 and both times brought my newborns home to a rented apartment. I concur with your list and have another to add: no need for baby monitors (you can clearly hear the baby from anywhere in the apt.!)

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  11. awww your post hit home in so many way! Number 1, I too was judged (rather harshly) for still renting while having our first 2 kiddos. I LOVED our apartment for all the reasons you listed and for more! I told people "we don't have to focus on home ownership stresses, snow removal,yard work or those bills so we get more quality time at pool, park, or playing in nicely kept lawns"
    Plus, seeing as how my husband is in grad school, the realtor I went to for advice told us that unless you are going to be in town for 7+ years, that it would be more cost efficient to rent than own. In our current duplex we do all the yardwork and snow removal and our landlord takes it off our rent so we have super cheap rent. It's wonderful. Anyways, just wanted to let you know that I know the defense you feel you have to live, I'm right here with ya girl :)

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