Wednesday, December 12, 2012


While researching some quotes for a Church project I'm working on tonight, I found this one that spoke to my heart about the peaceful & loving home we are striving to create for Anna.

Try to put in the hearts of your children a love for home. Make them long to be with their families. So much sin could be avoided if our people really loved their homes.  - Mother Teresa
My brain is a little too tired to offer much comment on this quote {thankfully my little girl has a sleep schedule that lets Mom sleep in after late nights of computer time!} but I wanted to share it.  I hope everyone reading has a lovely, comfortable, and warm place tonight - surrounded by those who love you and by reminders of the One who loves you most.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Morning ramblings

Well, hello, world!  Given that my last post was the announcement of the arrival of sweet baby Anna, most readers (if there are any left) are most likely assuming that I have fallen into the black pit of new motherhood.  I am thrilled to announce that it is far from the truth.  Certainly, I have been spending an extensive amount of time feeding, holding, and changing my little girl, I've also managed to (mostly) resist the tornado-came-through-the-house look, sew a few gifts, welcome dinner & overnight guests, and host our annual Halloween party (in homemade costumes for the three of us).

Here's my magician and his rabbit-in-a-hat.  I was a playing card, but don't have any pictures, since I kept it on for about 5 minutes.   (This may or may not be related to the practicality of maneuvering through a small house filled with 20 people while wearing 2 pieces of poster board)

  I should clarify to say that I am far from super-woman, but have been blessed with an extremely easy baby who is already able to sleep 8 or 9 hours at a stretch, and, after the first few weeks of loud protest at being anywhere but in my arms, is now content to be in her bouncy chair/swing/blanket on the floor while I use the bathroom or other I-didn't-realize-the-five-minutes-for-this-was-a-luxury tasks.  So, I'm genuinely extremely thankful for my baby and my husband, yet admittedly struggling a little bit with pride over how well things are going.  Case in point, when we forgot about a church meeting we were supposed to attend, I had to bite my tongue from a defensive reply when one of the committee members said "isn't parenthood fun!?" (We were actually quite well rested, and attending a dinner at a friend's house with a happy baby in tow, having brought brownies made from scratch).  Whoops.  And now, instead of bragging just to that one woman, I'm bragging to the whole internet.  Double whoops.

I maintain that 99% of my success is an easy baby, and 1% is my motivation and ability to operate on very little sleep.  And 100% of both of those are God-given, so really none of it is about me!  Needless to say, I'm really into the whole thankfulness theme right now!

This should be no surprise, since my blogging pre-baby was also extremely sporadic, but I don't know what my plans are for here.  Some days I think I'll do a full revival, and other days I'm pretty content with just leaving it until random inspiration strikes.  Justin and I aren't really fans of having tons of Anna's pictures posted online, so it won't be going the "family blog" direction (although that's certainly not a judgement on those who do that, just not what will work for us!), and yet I feel guilty spending time writing about some little house project when there's something far more important in my life!  So, stay tuned for whatever it is that will come :)

Here's one close-up of Anna, since it would be a tease to not include anything besides her Halloween get-up.

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. Since I don't write much these days, tide yourselves over with my favorite blogger in one of her favorite pieces.  Perhaps the reason I'm such a fan is that it's called "Moms of Young Children, The Time to Thrive is Now."

P.P.S. I wanted to note that my baby apparently thinks she's a teenager.  She regularly won't go to bed until well past 11 pm, and I've had to wake her up on more than one occasion for a noon engagement.  :)  Needless to say she's still asleep this morning!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Anna Rose

Our little blessing was born last Monday, September 3 at 1:35 pm - Labor Day! - after an uncomplicated & natural labor.  She weighed 9 pounds, 13 ounces, and measured 20 inches long.  Although I'm very proud of myself for accomplishing the natural birth, I was more amazed by God's creation of the human body and its natural process, not to mention the miracle of her tiny body.  Justin and I were in awe throughout the delivery, and continue to be amazed whenever we look at her sweet face!

Anna is an incredibly sweet, calm baby.  I keep joking that I'm not sure how two type-A people managed to produce a type-B one.  She thankfully soothes easily, and takes a long time to escalate when there's something that she needs.  She does more squeaking than crying - sometimes to tell us she wants something, other times involuntarily (like now, while she's sleeping).  I've taken to calling her Little Squeaks; Justin's favorite nickname is Anna Rosebud (since she's tiny).  

As for me, I feel fantastic.  While I was pregnant, I thought that I felt pretty good - because each pound and symptom came on slowly over the course of 9 months.  Marginally, each day I didn't feel that much worse.  The past week's changes have been much quicker, and therefore demonstrate just how big of a difference there was!  Thankfully, I've had a great recovery thus far, and even the postpartum discomforts do not overshadow how great it feels to be without 25 extra pounds.  Don't worry, I still have plenty to loose (remember how big I was?), but I've been impressed how much of it was water weight that came off nearly instantaneously. 

Granted, not everything is roses and butterflies.  I certainly have my new mom moments, but I do have to admit that there have been far fewer than I ever anticipated.  We are thankful for all of the prayers that were offered for our family throughout the pregnancy and delivery - we have felt a tangible presence of God's graces as a result.  The last week has been the most incredible week of our lives.  We're so excited for all that is to come with our sweet baby girl.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Nesting for a perpetual nester

You may have thought that my blog absence meant we had welcomed Baby Anna.  No such luck yet.

Plenty of people have asked if I've been "nesting" to get ready for the baby.  Although I did have one scrubbing-the-stove-at-3:00-AM incident a few weeks ago, I've generally been nesting since we bought this house two years ago!  I'd consider myself a perpetual nester, one who always wants to feather her nest to make it beautiful for her family & guests.  So, what have I been doing with my end-of-pregnancy energy?

Well, we hosted a party last Friday.  When my Wednesday afternoon doctor's appointment implied that the baby wouldn't be making an arrival in the next few days, we decided to host an impromptu BBQ with an attendee list that quickly grew from three other couples to quite a large group.  It ended up being a blast, and I think we had 17 or 18 people when all was said and done.  Murphy's law was not enacted (I was afraid that my water would break as I carried all the bags of groceries into the house that afternoon, or at some other equally inopportune time!)

Later in the weekend, we decided to spend some time at a park along the lake.  

It was a beautiful day, and Justin swam while I relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.


We did take a walk, too, and Justin snapped final (?) belly shots along the lake.  I had to laugh, because this one in particular really shows how much of a belly bump I have going on!  I don't know if I've shared it on the blog, but my doctor is anticipating Baby Anna will be in the 9 pound range.  So, both of us are pretty big girls these days!  Looking forward to finding the "former glory" that was my pre-baby body soon :)


The "before" picture is from Christmas Eve, a few days after we found out about the baby!  Looking back, I miss not only my smaller self, but also my wardrobe!  Honestly, being able to wear anything other than Justin's gym shorts sounds good about now!  C'mon, Baby Anna!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

One room, mastered

Sometimes, despite all of the renovation progress that we've made, I have trouble seeing the progress, and still focus on all that I want to do before the house is "done."  One of my goals for the summer (post-work and pre-baby) was to go room to room and finish a lot of the little things that have been on my mind for a while.  The master bedroom was the first to get this treatment (and, besides the nursery will probably be the only room that I completely finish before Anna's arrival).  The little changes have made me fall in love with this room, and its much cozier and functional.  The nursery transformation obviously required that my sewing table be relocated, and incidentally I like my new space even more than the designated "sewing room."  But - I should back up, since the last time I shared pictures of the master bedroom, it looked like this:

It's embarrassing to admit, but since I was never completely happy with the room, I never got around to blogging about it - even a progress post!  So, let's go back to the beginning!

Here's the room when we bought the house:

It wasn't the worst of all the rooms (that honor is difficult to bestow, but most likely would go either to the kitchen or upstairs bath).  Basically, it was a poorly painted and dirty big box.  With lots of little issues, like random neon splotches on the ceiling, a taped-over and painted-over junction box that should have been a light switch, and NO storage.

 First things first, Justin built a closet (still one of his projects that has impressed me the most) for Christmas 2010:

Then, we fixed the many problems with the drywall, primed, and painted:

Had carpet installed:

And made some curtains (the last you heard a peep about this room!)

Somewhere along the line, we purchased some grown-up furniture.  ("Grown-up" meaning that it was not only a step up from the mattress-on-the-floor solution, but also came from a legitimate furniture store, and isn't made of particle board).  It was exactly what we wanted - and also on clearance (thus the thumbs-up!)'s now:

I made the quilt for Justin when he was a bachelor.  I have another quilt in-progress for our room, and that will eventually become our summer-time quilt (the flannel one is a bit much for the warm weather!)  For now, though, I really like this one.

Sewing machine AND Jo-Ann the fish relocated as part of the nursery transformation.

Art between the windows is an original painting (of a house and bicycle built-for-two) from Justin's great-aunt.  She gave it to us as a wedding gift with the sweet note saying "There, now your house is all done and you can enjoy!"  I recently got the console table at Pier 1, and had fun decorating with finds from around the house, including our wedding cake topper.

The art above Justin's dresser are pictures he took at his family farm.  You can tell who's the more talented photographer in the family!  Incidentally, the farm was home to his great-grandmother, who is pictured in the framed photo, bottom right.  Although she's no longer living at the farm, she is still living - and 101 years old!  We can't wait to get some 5-generation photos once Anna arrives!

Our room is still door-less (and thus my behind-the-door jewelry board is still functioning as basic decor!)  Once we can find another suitable door (we purchase them used to maintain the same look throughout the house), we'll get one up.  Until then, it's an added perk that we can see Anna's crib from our bed!

So, there she blows, the first room we've completely "mastered."  I'll leave you with one final before and after reminder!

Keep checking back; I feel like I'm on a blog roll now, and have several more posts planned (and even photographed already!)  I'll keep putting them up until it's promises after that :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dreams, realized

Thank you so much to everyone for your sweet comments about Anna's nursery!  I'm really excited about how everything turned out, and even more excited to meet my sweet little girl and bring her home to her new room!  She did not take my hints from the last week and decide to come early, so I'm pretty much sitting around waiting to go into labor.  I've been doing some small projects here and there, but primarily I'm enjoying the fact that I can indulge my exhaustion and lounge / nap for most of the day.  I don't think I'll be doing that in a few weeks!  Today, during my lounging, I read back through a lot of the blog archives, and realized (yet again) that I do enjoy keeping record in this way.  Even though it hasn't been terribly consistent, there is a decent amount of history that I have maintained - as much for myself as for my readers.  I had forgotten some of the posts I'd written, like this "Remember When" post that was a real tear-jerker for me in my current state :)  I've learned not to make any promises, so I certainly won't say what frequency I'll be keeping up with writing after Miss Anna's arrival, but I know I'd at least like to try.  Like I said, if nothing else, it's a great journal for me to look back and see all the dreams that have come true.

Speaking of (little) dreams that have come true, I mentioned last August that I've had a dream of having kitchen shelves stocked with glass containers of dry goods.  A year later, that project has been completed, too, and it's every bit as great as I imagined.  I anticipate that it will be even better once I have the energy back to do significant cooking and baking - but for now, the easy access to peanuts and chocolate chips for snacks is great!  (I'd say that fits with my doctor's recommendation for frequent protein-rich snacks, right??)

Thanks to our friend Greg, my Dad, and to Justin for the help with this project!  (It spanned several weekends of visitors as we tried to engineer sturdy shelves into only one stud!)  It's everything that I dreamed of (here).

I know, I know, I'm a sappy pregnant lady.  But what else is there to do but be grateful when you've got a dream house, the world's greatest husband, and a tiny little life kicking inside of you?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Just add baby

And now, what you've all been waiting for: the finished nursery!  After several awkward weeks (probably more like months!) of transition, we went from a sewing room to a room ready to welcome a sweet little girl!


Framed art is from this talented Etsy vendor
The mobile (which is my favorite part of the room!) I made from scrapbook paper, combining ideas from here and here.

I made the curtains; the fabric has sweet little white polka dots and there are tiny ribbon rosettes at the pleats, but you may not be able to see those details.  My sewing is better than my photography!  

The shelf holds a cut-out letter A (for Anna!) that I covered with scrapbook paper and Mod Podge.  The doll, Molly, was my favorite toy when I was little.  The stuffed duck is there because, well, I think it's cute.  And my sister (the great "Aunt Soup") made the mouse for Anna.  Apparently this is the ambassador mouse to Ithaca, representing a large family of other cloth mice waiting for Anna in Harrisburg!

Also, beneath the shelf hangs Anna's Baptismal gown & bonnet.  I bravely (or perhaps crazily) decided to cut the train off my wedding gown so that we could have an heirloom gown to use for our children's Baptisms.  I figured that there's a small chance that my wedding dress will fit the style & body size of my daughter(s), but this option allows for (hopefully) many babies to wear it!  Technically, the wedding gown could still be worn again, as the dress is all intact; only the beautiful train was sacrificed for the Baptismal garment!

Aside from the fact that I'm thrilled to have another opportunity to enjoy the beautiful fabric of my wedding gown, I love the sacramental symbolism of new life in Baptism springing from the union of Marriage - it illustrates our Catholic understanding of procreation as an outpouring of the love between husband, wife, and God. 

And before anyone compliments me, you should all know that my EXTREMELY talented mother is the one who took the pieces of the train and made them into the beautiful garment you see above!  She is amazing!  I can't wait for Anna to wear it in early September!

Crib, with the inspiration crib sheet.  And, the nursery wouldn't be complete without some happy fabric pennants, and (way more importantly) a Crucifix over her crib.  Again, excuse my poor photography!

Daybed (the room is huge!) and - finally - a door!  (We still don't have a door for our bedroom, but now we're 2 for 3 on the upstairs rooms.  And, as Meatloaf sings, that ain't bad).

I made the pillow.  Anna's great-grandmother (the "Rose" in Anna Rose) made the afghan.

Bookshelf from Craigslist (a great $40 find, considering the owner reported that their former neighbor hand-built it for them!).  Rocker from Justin's mom (made by the Amish!)  Bear painting is from another of Anna's great-grandmothers!  (How blessed is she to have 7 living great-grandparents!?)

I recovered the lampshade with polka-dotted fabric.  In my mind, the ball fringe makes up for the less-than-satisfactory job I did in applying the fabric.  Bargain books from our new Ithaca Ollies (woo hoo for a PA store coming to NY!)  The picture is of my Dad and me - and looking at it now, I think that in my 38th week of pregnancy my face has returned to the extremely chubby cheeks I was sporting at 6 months old!  Thankfully I already grew out of them once - here's hoping it will be baby Anna and not me who's chubby in a few weeks!

So, I'd say we're ready for a baby!  
We even hung up her little towel bar in the bathroom - check out her cute hooded towel!

 It's unbelievable that at any day now I may be holding my little girl in my arms!  Looking forward to introducing her to all of you.

Baby Anna, if you're reading this, Mommy and Daddy are ready to meet you!  You can come out now :)