26 November 2013

A Lesson in Thanksgiving

This weeks seems like as good as any to get sick, right? I mean, there's no therapy and Matt already has a bunch of time off work. I can't think of one reason why being sick during the fourth week of November would be problematic.


*Sigh*
Abigail and I are full-blown sick and Matt says he can feel it holding just off shore. If we can get over ours and he can fight his off before it ever makes landfall in the next two days we should be able to make Thanksgiving with the in-laws. Otherwise it's going to be canned soup and freezer aisle pumpkin pie for us on Thursday.

To be honest, though, as far as colds go, this one is pretty easy and responds well to the uber-tame pregnancy-approved cold meds.

I am 15 weeks pregnant today, which means I've been pregnant for 13 weeks so far (the day a woman conceives, she's considered two weeks pregnant). In that mere 13 weeks of pregnancy, I've had two colds, passed a few kidney stones, gone under general anesthesia, had a kidney stent put in and removed, and had nausea and food aversions significant enough to put my body in starvation mode. As soon as I get through one thing, another pops right up. I was feeling pretty frustrated yesterday and at one point even thought, This pregnancy can't get much worse. But as soon as I thought those thoughts, a flood of way worse things entered my mind. Another miscarriage, placenta previa, needing the stent to save the kidney, becoming bed ridden, getting cancer. All way worse things that could happen. I could lose Matt while pregnant, Abigail could get leukemia, we could lose our car, a tornado could hit our apartment. While this may be a difficult pregnancy, it could be way worse. Translation: I need to count my blessings. Now that is a good realization to make during the fourth week of November.

22 November 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

There is this thing that goes around conservative blogs called "7 Quick Takes Friday." I hate, hate, hate link-ups, so I don't usually do it, but today I'm doing the theme stuff without the linking stuff.

1. Preschool (parts one and two of The Preschool Saga)
We met with the services coordinator today, and I asked about visiting the preschool relatively soon. She said that she would put in a call to the director, but doesn't foresee any problems. I want to get in soon because I hear often that the preschool classes at the end of the year look significantly different than the beginning because, as the school psychologist said, by then the kids have been programmed. So I figure better now than in May. I seriously expected her to be uber mean about everything because in past IFSP meetings, she's been the most determined to get Abigail in school, but she was actually really respectful and friendly today! She has a niece with Ds who is homeschooled and understands the benefits. But she also said that no kid on her case load has ever not gone to preschool at age 3. Yeowza.

2. More Preschool
The services coordinator advised that if we do decide to homeschool Abigail or post-pone preschool for a year, she is still eligible for services through the public school system. We'd have to take Abigail up to the school for her therapy and some of them (specifically physical therapy) are integrated into the daily class routine, so we would probably go up for "motor activity time" whenever the class usually holds that, for example, but we certainly have options and can make decisions. That made me feel a lot better. Ever since Abigail was born, I feel like there's been a panel of experts telling me what to do with her next. Sometimes I don't even feel like she's my kid. I seriously have this deep-seeded fear that if I don't send her to school like the therapists want, they're going to call child protective services on me and I'll end up as one of those crazy news stories like the judge that ordered the mother to stop breastfeeding or some such deal.

3. The Last Preschool Quick Take
I have no idea what I want to do and I have a really hard time discerning when I'm being overly protective and when I should trust my instincts. "Abigail is not ready!" my heart keeps shouting, but am I just terrified for my baby bird to take her first test-flight, or is she truly not ready? I mean, seriously, we're talking about 2.5 hours of story time, snack time, arts and crafts, and therapy at a location .6 miles from my front door. Can it get anymore innocent? But at the same time, she can't even come home from school and tell me if something went wrong. How can I send that child away?

I have been getting advice from friends, and I reached out to my homeschooling sister-in-law for her experiences, and I'm carefully storing everything up. I'm going to gather up more information based on the list I made in part two and spend lots of time in thought and prayer and discussion with Matt about this topic. If you have any advice (be it for or against any side!), please feel free to leave me a comment. I'd love to hear more perspectives and more advice on how to come to a decision.

4. Damn Raisins
While doing some cleaning this morning, Abigail and I discovered an old (empty) bag of yogurt covered raisins under the stove. Abigail snatched it up and before I could bat an eye, the kid who can't walk over a book without tripping is darting out of the kitchen and down the hall like a high school track star. What is even more shocking about this event is that we haven't bought yogurt covered raisins in a long time and normally Abigail has a pretty poor memory. But somehow...that bag...she was in love. She ended up leaving it on my side of the bed. Seriously, she even acted a little hurt, almost betrayed, by the discovery of the bag. I'd buy more, but I read the label and now I can't possibly justify another bag. (Partially hydrogenated palm kernel old does not a healthy snack make).

5. Laundry
Laundry used to be one of my least favorite chores. That, and vacuuming were tied for first place. But having my own washer and dryer makes me not mind laundry one bit. It's been nearly four months since we left Chicago, but every time I toss in a load before feeding Abigail breakfast, every time I twist the dial without inserting a line of quarters, every time I realize I forgot something and throw it in without taking two flights of stairs (each way) and unlocking and relocking two doors, I do a little happy dance inside. I love washing my sheets and towels whenever I want because we don't have a freakin' laundry budget. Ah, I can just imagine how nice this is going to be once we have a newborn in the house.


Her face when the dryer buzzer goes off. She's obsessed with helping me do the laundry.

6. My Head Hurts
I get headaches like the Kardashians get divorced. Without exaggerating, I get headaches from:
- my blood sugar dropping too low (I'm not diabetic, but I have blood sugar regulation issues)
- exercising too hard
- dehydration
- not enough salt in my diet
- too much time in the sun
- too much time in front of an electronic screen
- sleeping "too hard" (it's hard to explain, but you know that feeling when you feel like you woke up from a completely dead sleep? That gives me a headache)
- being around loud noises for a long period of time

The longest I've ever had a headache was three weeks straight.

I'm used to my headaches the way someone with allergies is used to have a stuffy nose every spring and fall. I don't usually take something for them until they turn into migraines (not sure what triggers my migraines). When I get a migraine, I usually down a handful of Tylenol and aspirin, pray I don't overdoes, and sleep in a dark room until the pain disappears and I'm just left with that post-migraine haze. They aren't usually very effected by light or noise, but definitely by movement. Movement is very painful when I have a migraine.

You can't take a handful of Tylenol and aspirin when you're pregnant.

7. I look like the Little Mermaid
I've been really, really sick this pregnancy. Between the extreme nausea, intense fatigue, food aversions bad enough to send my body into starvation mode, and the kidney stent hell, I haven't really spent much time on my hair or make up. I don't shower every day. Most of the time I'm in sweats or yoga pants. I spend a lot of time laying on the couch or on the floor playing quiet games with Abigail. I haven't swapped my glasses for contacts in more than a month. I've felt really lazy, ugly, and uncomfortable with my changing body. So when I got my allowance money on payday, I hit up Meijer and got myself some hair dye and a few new hair products. Even the dying process did more to lift my spirits than a dozen chocolate cupcakes ever could.

I only started dying my hair a year and a half ago and I usually get something very close to my natural color. I take my natural hair color's red highlights and dye my whole head that color. It's natural enough that not even my own mother knew I dyed my hair when she first saw it. Similar color also means I don't have to deal with root touch-up, so I usually only color 2-3 times a year. But this time I decided to get something more vibrant. After months of feeling so down, I wanted to feel pretty. Plus, Thanksgiving is coming up. I'd hoped to get my hair cut, and I'm showing a baby bump, so I thought a little "vibrant red" sounded pretty good.

Except now I resemble The Little Mermaid. Just a bit. And since I had my glasses off and wasn't wearing contacts when I was dying it, it's really streaky. Like bright red, bright red, coppery red. Whoops. When Abigail first saw it, she laughed. She touched my hair and laughed.


It's a bit intense, but I haven't decided if I'm going to leave it or not. It's clearly not a natural color, but we'll see if it's worth redying before Thanksgiving.

21 November 2013

The Preschool Debate

I've been thinking a lot about school lately. Michigan's system of financing their Early On program is incredibly stupid, leaving each county constantly short of resources for all their kids. So the program directors try to get kids off to preschool - where they will continue to receive services paid for in a different manner - as soon as possible. I feel like I hear a dissertation on transitioning to preschool once a week.

I'm open to public school, private school, and homeschool. I've heard of really excellent public schools and really terrible private schools. I know of failed homeschool situations and ones that yielded intelligent, well-adjusted adults. So I'm totally open to taking everything on a child-by-child, year-by-year basis. But the thought of going through this every year is really draining.

I spoke earlier about Abigail's vulnerability in being sent away to school. Very recently I spoke with two of her therapists about those issues and they said that she'd actually be one of the least vulnerable students now and she's only going to get stronger and more confident between now and September. The program is only 2.5 hours a day and I get to decide how many days/week she'll go. Plus they just moved the preschool program to a different building and it's now less than 1 mile from our apartment. I could walk her to school every morning. She'll be eligible for preschool for two years before she could go to Kindergarden and if she does well in special ed preschool (which all her therapists expect), she'll be in a mainstream program for her second year.

It all sounds so incredible theoretically - I'm ready to sign her up. But then I look at her cute little pig-tailed self and my heart breaks. She's so tiny. 20 pounds at two and a half. She's still a new walker. She doesn't talk. She's so vulnerable.


But is that my over-protective mama bear instinct just kicking in? Do I just need to learn to let go?

I like the idea of public school:
-Abigail has special education needs and being with an experienced teacher will yield less time spent trying to figure things out and more time learning.
-She'll continue to get therapy on a regular basis.
-Abigail would get those quintessential memories of picking out a backpack, bringing cupcakes to share on her birthday, making a best friend - experiences that make you feel all grown up, confident, and self-sufficient.
-Sending my kids away for a few hours a day would give me more time at home with the younger ones, more time to get stuff done around the house, and more time to myself. Who wouldn't be a fan?

But I like the idea of homeschooling too:
-Homeschooling is more conducive to learning. I can spend more time on subjects with which she struggles and we can go more in-depth with the subjects in which she's a natural.
-We can appeal to different learning styles by doing things un-conventionally. We can go on field trips on Tuesday mornings to the museum. Have you ever been to a museum on a Tuesday morning? It's so deserted it's like being there when it's closed.
-We can skip the BS subjects and substitute ones that really matter.
-We are free to take beautiful spring days off, homeschool throughout the summer, and match up vacation days with Matt's schedule.

I'm not worried about socialization or ability to follow directions in a homeschool setting. In fact, socialization in public school is on the con list. Does anyone seriously emerge from high school feeling like they've learned healthy relationship skills?

Therapy while homeschooling is on the con list. Theoretically, she should be able to access therapy at a public school even if we homeschool. But that's in theory.

I'm so confused and I just keep going back and forth about what I want to do. Abigail is so young. So freakin' young. She doesn't even match colors or similar objects yet! Send her off to someone with experience to help pull out Abigail's potential? How big are the risks? What kind of rewards are lost by my attempting to teach her? I thought we'd be talking about this issue when she turned 4. She's only 2 and it's a regular discussion.


I don't know what to do or how to get to what to do!

I've been doing some brainstorming while writing this post (which actually originated as a draft last week that I've re-written a bit). I can identify three things I can do right now:

1. Tour the preschool. I need to know exactly what I need to make a decision about.
2. Get my hands on a homeschool preschool curriculum. I need to know if I'm capable enough to teach her the things she needs to learn next year.
3. Find out exactly how her therapy will be effected based on which decision I make.

Another to-do to the list of things to be done before this baby is born. Except this one is really important.


19 November 2013

Crafting and cheesy posters as two separate topics

A wicked storm blew through here Sunday night, knocking out power across the county. Thankfully our section of town was spared the black-out, but we did lose Internet. When we first lost the world wide web, I was pretty annoyed - I kept thinking of things I wanted to look up, check, research, browse, do. And I was repeatedly stymied. First world problems, I know.

But wouldn't you know it, I got a ton more stuff done. Do a little work, sit down rest, get up, do a little more work. No sitting down at the computer to watch an hour drain away. I felt calmer, more focused. Matt and I had a few more conversations. It was really nice, actually. It makes me want to declare certain days of the week "no Internet days," but I very much suspect it wouldn't be sustainable as we depend on our computers far too much for...everything. Recipes, directions, weather, Thanksgiving plans, my Etsy shoppe, working from home, paying bills, doing the finances. And that's just the "essentials."

After about a month and a half of almost non-stop knitting (I clock 2-4 hours per day for this craft fair), my right wrist, hand, and arm are finally calling it. The soreness is telling me to ease up, so I'm going to take a few days "off" to work on tagging and sorting product and testing out a few display ideas. I estimate that I have about 4 days worth of work left until I hit my production goals, so I've got time to get everything done.

All my major to-dos are getting sorted by "general season" lately. Christmas present making/shopping? Post fair. Making an afghan with all my scrap yarn? January. Planning the Christmas menu? Post fair. Picking out names for this new baby? January. Cleaning out closets? January. Getting Abigail a toddler bed? Between February and the due date. Reading a book again? January.


It was one of those Aquadoodle pens that only writes water. So really, she was washing the walls for me. How thoughtful.

I really hate those sappy Facebook "posters" that go around featuring a child with Down syndrome. You know the type I mean: a photo that zeros in on the child's smiling face with a caption that says something along the lines of "my disability doesn't define me!" When that kind of shit gets posted on my wall, it gets deleted.

Everyone has a different opinion, and my opinion is not indicative of the Ds community as a whole. Just like some people spank and some timeout, some people eat meat and some don't, some people public school and others homeschool. We do what we think is best for our family.

I think a photo of a child with a disability talking about how the disability does not define them only HIGHLIGHTS the disability.

If I took a picture of a cute, blonde child, captioned it with "I like kitties and Goodnight Moon," and posted it to Facebook, my friends would "like" it, but most people wouldn't care. But if I took a picture of a cute blonde child with Down syndrome and gave it the same caption, it'd be a statement.

When people look at Abigail, I don't want them to say to themselves, "Wow, look at that little disabled girl not letting her disability stop her from achieving her goals." I want them to say, "Those sparkly light up shoes are way cute." Or "Where are that kid's parents - she's writing on the wall for crying out loud!"

Now all this isn't to say that we don't/shouldn't talk about Down syndrome or struggles or successes. By all means, ask us how therapy is going. Ask how her heart is doing. Ask why she hates mashed potatoes and chicken nuggets or even how Down syndrome has impacted our family. That's the same thing as me asking you how work is going, if you guys have any success with co-sleeping, what you make for dinner when you forget to defrost the roast, or what curriculum you use with your kids.


She's an energetic, bossy, blonde, two-year-old who likes music, books, and kitties. Fuck the Down syndrome. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go put the real markers in the kid-proof drawer.

14 November 2013

Preparations Full Speed.

Sometimes we have these mornings where Abigail wakes up on the wrong side of the crib. She refuses to use her signs and just screams. About everything. All the time. She could be angry that her little grocery cart got stuck on a book and won't roll anymore. She could be hungry and wanting breakfast. She could be angry about something I can't guess. But she won't. tell. me. She won't sign "help" or "hungry" or even "mad." She just yells so loudly that my eyeballs want to pop out. It's like her anger floods the streets of communication and she can't get her little canoe signs through the treacherous waves.

It did this here a few days ago:


And it actually stuck around for a day or two before it all melted away. I love snow, but I hate driving in it/ice. I love winter much more in the city, since you rarely have to drive in it.


* * * * *

Craft fair preparations are moving full-speed ahead. I'm still feeling all first trimestery, so as soon as Abigail is in bed, I grab a movie and my knitting needles. My goal is to make 60 new hats for the fair and I've got 43 so far.


I'll then pull some stock from my Etsy shop to sell (if it doesn't sell before then), including this chunky crochet baby blanket:


And my crochet fruit:


I'm also going to try to finish up a girl's baby blanket in time for the craft fair as well:


I want all the product made by Thanksgiving (exactly two weeks away!). That will give me about a week to get all my product sorted, tagged, and labeled:


and get all the logistics figured out (like how to take custom orders, when I want to start discounting merchandise, how to keep track of sold product sizes/colors/etc), and I'll need to get together with my craft fair business partner to prepare our table displays. Craft fairs are more complicated than I realized, but I actually really enjoy the work. I have a feeling this first attempt is going to be fraught with learning experiences. If my product sells well, I would definitely be interested in doing more in the future. Hopefully those aren't my famous last words!

11 November 2013

When Things Go Right

Today we were in the check-out line at Target when Abigail waved to the woman in front of us. The woman smiled and waved back. "What a sweetheart," she said in an low-key and polite voice, as if she was telling me she liked my coat or asked what aisle I found my rockin' yoga pants in (yes, we're at the yoga-pants-in-public stage already). As she slid her credit card through the reader, she said, "I have a three-year-old with Down syndrome at home." She smiled at Abigail as she finished loading her bags into her cart and left.

And that was it.

No bullshit discussion about angels and miracle blessings. No desire to spill emotions all over the floor about surprise diagnoses or heart surgery. No gushy hugs. Just a simple "Hey, we have something in common. Have a nice day." Like we both drove Fords or love Chicago or something. It was wonderful. It warmed my introverted, I-hate-people, I'm-not-at-Target-to-make-friends heart.

There is a time and place for the touchy feely and it's not at Target when I feel nauseous and I just spent a good 10 minutes picking up a clothing display that Abigail threw on the ground.

Thank you, lady with a sense of personal space. I wish there were more like you.

08 November 2013

Hey, look: I'm still pregnant

The 12-week appointment went swimmingly. We found the heartbeat straight away and it was strong and fast. They asked me four times if I was sure I didn't want to do genetic testing. Goodness gracious.

In eight weeks we'll find out a gender. I'm just a few days away from the 2nd trimester/4th month/13.33(th? rd?) week. Thank you for your prayers, they mean the world to me : )

07 November 2013

The Imaginary Re-design

We're back to sucky normal. That whole "life is perfect" stuff ended Wednesday after naptime when Abigail woke up ready to really embrace the terrible twos.


DON'T let that face fool you. It's amazing how adept a small child is at draining a full grown woman of her senses. I was feeling all complainy, so during naptime today, I had homemade chocolate chai tea in the fine china and knitted. At some point during the break, I decided that the floor wasn't going to get vacuumed, we're going to have leftovers for dinner, and I embarked on a project. (PS, if you stick around for this blog post, you get a baby bump photo).


I imagined how I would redesign my apartment if it was a condo and I could do whatever I wanted. I do this all the time in my head, but this time I figured I'm going to blog about it. You see, I love seeing the inside of people's houses. How they have they furniture arranged, what color their shower curtain is, how soft their towels are. Working in real estate marketing in mansions in Florida was awesome for my nosy self. Photoshoots and brochure writing? Hell yes. I got to see what kind of fine crystal millionaires keep in their winter homes. I got to find out what type of shampoo they use. What brand of toilet paper they use. So here's some nosy shots of my (green) shower curtain and what I'd do if I could scrap it all.

I intentionally had Abigail photobomb as many photos as possible because 1. it distracted her and this project was suppose to be a distraction for both of us; and 2. doesn't it make the photos more exciting?


Better, yes? So there are three rules:
1. Outside walls cannot move. Houses and apartments/condos are two entirely different cups of tea, so even though outside walls in houses can move, this isn't a house.
2. Major plumbing and electrical stuff also cannot move. Same rationale as with the house, plus, moving that stuff is wicked expensive and I probably wouldn't do it even if I was remodeling a house.
3. Physics still apply. Load bearing walls must continue to bear loads.
That's it.

The Kitchen

I have a galley kitchen with a laundry/furnace room at the other end. There is no getting around the galley because the wall the fridge is against has important furnace/a/c stuff in it. While I wouldn't put a galley in my dream house, I don't hate them and even kind of enjoy how few steps one takes while cooking in one. As you can see, it's fairly wide for a galley.


If I could re-do the laundry room, I'd rip out those ridiculous wire shelves, get a stackable washer/dryer unit, and build in some floor-to-ceiling shelves in the newly opened space specifically designed for small appliances (like a bread maker, slow cooker, roasting pan, etc) that don't fit well into a kitchen cupboard and totes of Christmas decorations and of things Abigail has outgrown but we're keeping for future kids.


Back to the kitchen. Now you may have noticed in the first kitchen photo that I have two microwaves. One is mine. One came with the apartment, is built-in, and has a sticker letting me know it was built in 1993. It sucks, so we kept ours and use it. The old microwave is where we now keep our bread.


I intentionally didn't photoshop out the yellow tinge in my ugly kitchen with no natural lighting. Thanks UFO light.


So what do I do? Something very similar to this:


Lots of white to make the space feel brighter, real metal handles on cabinet doors, and hardwood floors. My kitchen is wide enough that I would go with regular cabinets instead of glass panes (my regular dishes aren't pretty enough to be on that kind of display). I'd also go with a dark granite countertop and dark metal handles because I like the light/dark contrast. My all-new stainless-steel appliances would include a slim-line double stove and regular-sized fridge. I would also do the farmer's style sink, subway tile backsplash, and lightly coffered ceiling that you see in this picture:


Throw in some recessed lighting, an open shelf for my cookbooks, and a nice long rug to emphasis the character of the long and narrow kitchen. You like? I like : )

The Dining Room


Free-standing kitchen tables with lots of chairs are the opposite of smart use of small space, especially if you have a family. My solution is not a unique one. Built-in bench seating!


(Focus on the picture on the left). I'd make sure to include lots of storage space in my benches for board games, serving platters, table clothes, and other odds and ends. I'd also have a few chairs on the opposite side of the table. Again, hardwood floors and white walls, decorated with lots of mirrors to catch the natural light that comes in from the living room and bounce it around the space. I'd continue the coffered ceilings in the kitchen to the dining room. I'd also get a nice slim-line glass cabinet display for my china and customize it with a few open shelves underneath for shoes.

The Living Room


I actually wouldn't change too much in the living room. I like small living rooms - they're cozier. I'd do built-in shelving instead of our bookshelves because it would give us more space and feel "lighter." I'd re-finish our "lots of potential" Craigslist desk and put in some shelves above it for the printer, etc. New furniture, obviously, with a smaller coffee table and one of those couches that has a built-in chase lounge on one end. Our window is super big and lets in lots of light, but I'd dump the blinds and get pretty curtains and shears to keep peering eyes out. Hardwood floors, dark wood on the shelving and coffee table, a dark brown on the couch, and a warm beige on the wall. On the floor, I'd have a big light-colored Persian rug to contrast with the dark in the room.


The Hallway


Hardwood floors, new lighting, and better wall decorations is all I would change. It's a relatively wide hallway, but because of the chasm-y feel, I would really be hesitant against any kind of shelving in the hall.

Abigail's Room



Abigail's room has lots of space in it, which is great because it's going to get eaten up when this baby makes its appearance. I do hate how many "floating" pieces of furniture are present in this room, so I would definitely rip apart her closet...



And put in some epic-style built-in shelving that would remove the need for a separate dresser.


I'd do mine with plenty of space to store stuff she's outgrown, but we're saving for future kids. I'm not sure if I'd do hardwood floors with an area rug or carpet in the bedrooms. I'm also not sure what I'd do if this baby turns out to be a boy and we would need to do something gender neutral. If, however, we had a girl, I know what I'd do...

Paris. In rose and blush and champagne. Fun enough for a toddler, but sophisticated enough not to need a re-do when they're teenagers. These are clippings I've saved from magazines over the years. Soft fabrics, chandeliers, lots of flowers. Gold (looking) - gilded pieces that make a girl feel decadent and special. Tea sets and pillows with the Eiffel tower embroidered on them.

The Guest Bathroom


It's hugely large with a vast majority of the space being wasted. I'd definitely re-do the floors and cabinets, adding double sinks for sure. I'd also add a slim-profile built-in cabinet against the wall where the diaper pail and towels are now to store all my linens: towels, sheets, everything. I have minimal closets in this place and built-ins take up less space than free-standing furniture, which is why I favor them so heavily. And this is my almost-fourth-month, second-time-around baby bump:


And the sink that would become two. What a waste of space!

The Master Suite



I personally really love masculine master bedrooms - deep, rich colors and heavy-looking, solid furniture. I love this spread in the 2013 Ikea catalog.

And since our unit is a corner unit, I'd throw in some more windows on the wall where the map is. In our epically-sized master closet...



...you guessed it! Custom built-ins that would eliminate the need for so much free-standing furniture. Hopefully by this point, there are enough built-ins everywhere else that there are no longer sleeping bags, a Christmas tree, and a box of warranties and how-to manuals in my master closet. I would also save a section for all my crafting stuff to be awesomely organized.

Our bathroom is a mirrored version of the guest bath, but with one exception:


A standing shower with the footprint of a bathtub. How absurd. But I'm a huge fan of Japanese soaking tubs and I found this soaking tub/free standing combo that would work beautifully in our small space: 



I'd give us double sinks too, of course.

Well, there you have it, my re-designed apartment. Or at least, the way I'd do it in my head : )