Friday, December 20, 2013

A wonderful year, 2013!

What a year! It hurts my heart to realize how fast it all goes. My baby's a big girl, and in only three more months, we meet Carmen!

It's been a fun year. Work at Koch continues to challenge and fulfill. I was blessed in February with the opportunity to leave the country for the first time - my first stamp in the passport, Monterrey, Mexico. A one-day trip in the corporate jet. There's no better way to travel, let me tell ya!  Norwex has taken a back-burner, though I still use the products and I'm especially thankful for them now that I'm pregnant and trying to stay as chemical-free as possible.

Gwen started a new daycare in February and seems to be loving it a lot more than the previous place. Hugs all around are a must most days before we can leave - so adorable. I love that she has so many friends there.  She started a music/singing class in March so we got to see lots of 'performances' in our living room - she loves to perform. Took her to her first movie theater experience in April - only one bathroom break. Mastered the potty training challenge, celebrated a third birthday, went to the circus in June, first haircut and trip to the dentist in July (she's excited to get to go back!). She started a ballet/theater class in September - I have never witnessed anything else more adorable than that.

Andy is enjoying a new role at his job - commercial sales for Overhead Door. God has blessed him with a strong start. The company vehicle allowed him to get a Mustang, which he is very happy about. He took his annual vacation with the guys in August, always a lot of fun, I'm told.

So now, we're gearing up for an exciting and challenging 2014. Preparing nursery, arranging for preschool to begin for G. Blessings to you and yours for the new year!

January - homemade tiaras

February - new bed

March - playing in the dirt

May - birthday party

June - playing in new art playroom

July - trip to Kansas City

September - first ballet class

The good, bad & the icky

I came to a realization a few days ago. Once the New Year is here, which is coming rather quickly, I will be down to only three more months of pregnancy. I expressed my disappointment to a guy friend of mine at work whose wife is also expecting. He shook his head and asked, "why? Why are you sad about that?" I responded, "because I LOVE being pregnant!" He went on to explain, from seeing his wife in this same condition, that he doesn't see the upside.

Sure. I understand there's lots of not-so-hot that comes along with carrying a child. That first trimester is quite a doozy of a thing, was more so for me with this second pregnancy. It was tough to stay positive when I felt like I was stuck in the worst hangover for two months straight. And that super-human sense of smell...  Really not fun when combined with nausea and having to pee every 20 minutes. I held my breath a LOT those first few months. Another joy that doesn't mix well with tummy issues: gallons of extra saliva.

Then there's the dry patches of skin, the growing belly that I can't show off bare because it's covered in fur that sticks straight out. The pulled stomach muscles that feel like something's tearing inside when I simply stand up from the couch (finally). Road rage, night sweats, dizzy spells, sweaty pits and stinky feet. Heartburn, difficulty breathing, temperature fluctuations, gums that are swollen, tender, and quick to  bleed. There's water retention and swelling, skin tags, and puke burps.

On the icky side, there's discharge and nipples that have grown to the size of my face. The unkempt nether-region - shaving blind is not easy! And I hate the idea of getting the suction cup mirror to put in the shower. That just creeps me out. Some things just should go unseen.  Along the same lines, the toenails are in much need of a pedi - long and the polish is down to a jagged patch right in the middle of each nail.

There's a pain that comes along my right side when I walk more than 30 feet. The house is a wreck. The laundry gets out of control in a hurry. I'm running out of clothing options. I am not gifted in the pill-swallowing area so those horse pills they call prenatals are a daily challenge. I have a constant fear of falling, fever, under-cooked meat, microwaves, and putting on socks. I force myself to drink water all day long, thus contributing to the frequent bathroom trips, including midnight stumbles to the bathroom.

My breasts rest on my stomach - a feeling I am not accustomed to. I now have to lift and separate the girls when washing and drying.  My stomach itches. Everything is stretching. When I was on the potty one afternoon, Andy came into the bathroom and stared. "That's a lot of skin," he dared to say. Yes, some angles are better than others.

I used to cuddle up to hubby when getting ready to fall asleep. Now there's a big tum-tum in the way. So we assume our positions on opposite sides of the king-size bed, me on my LEFT side as all the books suggest. And I struggle to stay there. I bought one of those pregnancy pillows this time around - the ones that are so huge it's like a whole other body sharing the bed. And let me tell you, it's a joy with all of the stretching ligaments and lack of coordination to get up and over that monster every bathroom run or early morning. But most mornings I do wake up on the bright side, laughing at my extremely odd dreams.

I also admit, there are the moments of unreasonable fluctuations in mood. Back in that first trimester, my mother tried to help out by going to Goodwill to get me some maternity clothes. All has been in fast forward this second go-round so I needed maternity clothes much sooner. But she bought Large items. I held them up, one at a time, and tried to hold back the tears. They were hideous, but also did I mention Large? I could hold it back no longer. HUGE break-down.

Pregnancy brain, I firmly believe, IS a real thing. My husband thinks it's one of those off-the-wall made-up things that pregnant women have invented to get away with being stupid. I admit, I do dumb things sometimes, pregnant or no, but I do it much more when pregnant. Case in point: so I'm pouring my cereal one morning. I walk over to the fridge and proceed to try to fit the cereal box in the refrigerator. I realize what I'm doing, giggle, and take out the milk. I return to my bowl and pour the milk on the cereal as I continue to giggle about how 'pregnancy brain' stupid that just was. Then I walk into the pantry and set the milk jug on the shelf. I step away and look at it - something's off here. So, um, yes Andy. It's a real thing.

So as I sit, focused on the aches and pains, wallowing in one of my for-no-reason bad moods, trying to figure out what I can/should eat... Carmen kicks. And this is exactly why I LOVE being pregnant. The world melts away. I forgive everything else and just try to be in that moment. I put my hand on my belly and watch it jump. I giggle as it feels like she's strumming on my urethra like she's playing the bass.  It's just the two of us. All that matters is that God has blessed me with this experience - this life inside of me that I get to carry with me for nine whole months is a special gift. I'm a mother. What I have prayed for so many times is this, this moment. What joy, what overwhelming joy.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Nursery Plans

Progress in the baby room is slow-moving! But progress has finally started. It's funny, I had all but given up on the idea that we would be blessed with another child. That room had remained a catch-all for over a year after our move... just in case. Well, I finally decided to spend a weekend and convert it into a fully functional art studio.

Two weeks later, if that, I had a positive pregnancy test. Ha!

So... the process has now begun to convert it from art studio to baby room. And I do have some plans so I hope it all comes together!


  • The glider is one we purchased at Babies R Us for Gwen.
  • The crib will be here in three days - babyletto Modo 3 in 1 Crib with Toddler Rail, Two Tone - purchased from Amazon.
  • The dresser is one we have already, from Target I believe.
  • The photo divider is black at the moment but I have intentions to paint it before April.
  • The lamp is from Target.
  • Bedding is Dwell Studio, blossom. I did manage to catch a crib sheet and plain pink bedskirt and stroller blanket on sale.
  • The garland is also Dwell Studio, but sold out. I may have to get crafty with supplies from Hobby Lobby...
  • I used from Sherwin-Williams to create the pallet next to the bedding
    • SW 7006 Extra White
    • SW 6057 Malted Milk
    • SW 7522 Meadowlark
    • SW 6381 Ajou Pear
    • SW 6874 Ardent Coral
  • The other pallet is from, to pull in the best complimentary blue
    • 190B-6 Wet Coral
    • 520D-7 Mosaic Tile
    • 200A-3 Blushing Apricot
    • W-B-120 Victorian Pearl
  • Our baby's name is Carmen - I call my daughter Gwen gigi so Carmen will have the nickname cici. I will do this same thing in Gwen's room, but I thought I might buy some letters and paint them the same as the wall color to place by the art. Inspired by Pinterest
  • Not shown that will also be in the room is the changing table, a simple walnut finished, open frame that was used for Gwen, purchased at Babies R Us.
  • I also plan to make the mobile myself using the hardware tutorial found via Pinterest - still searching for subject matter inspiration, ideas welcome!
Will update as it actually begins coming together. I hope to buy paint this week and begin that first critical step - most everything else is on hold until it's painted and ceiling fan is installed. Then I would like to work on creating a closet organization system because we are limiting ourselves to one dresser and the changing table.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

'Tis the Season

No joke, our baby girl is due on April 1, 2014 - April Fools Day! As I type, she hiccups inside my belly. Once past the sick stage, I must say that being pregnant is absolutely wonderful. Knowing that she is growing and wiggling in there, that I get to bring her with me everywhere I go, what is better? I love to sit back and just feel her move and kick. It's so exciting to plan for April, but I must admit, it's a bit scary as well.

Gwen is 3 so it's been a long time since we had a tiny new baby in the house. Will it all come back to me? Or will I be the nervous wreck I was with her all over again? Will I be able to nurse this time? Oh, I so very hope so! Will labor go as smoothly and quickly as it did with Gwen? Yes, please!

Big sister is quite excited. She talks about how her heart starts going fast and I ask her why, she says it's because she's so excited to be a big sister. She talks about what she will teach her, the seating arrangements at the table and in the car. Her prayers at night most frequently begin with, "Thank you for the baby growing in my mommy's tummy." We are so very blessed.

For the time being, though, we're soaking in all the Gwen-as-the-only-child time we have left. We're prepping for Christmas, singing carols and baking, arts and crafts, and anticipating seeing her eyes light up on Christmas morning. Oh what fun.

This is Gigi's 4th Christmas:

Saturday, October 5, 2013


I recall when Gwen was a baby, I thought she was so serious. Always observing and taking it all in, seeming so focused and somber. Well, things have changed a bit. We have a full-blown comedian on our hands these days. She loves to make people laugh and it is one of my favorite things about her.  Some evidence to my claim...

Saturday, July 13, 2013


For a few years now, Gwen has been my muse for photography, but lately she's making me miss drawing and painting. There are so many photos that I love of her and I finally need to turn them into art - the kind I haven't done for darn near a decade by now. I want to sit and sketch a picture, with one of the photos I took today as the inspiration. I guess I'm writing this before actually doing it to hold myself accountable. There's been a lot of things I've intended to do over the years. Didn't do quite a few of them. So this will be different. I'm going to sit down with my pad of paper and bundle of H and B pencils (not sure I remember which are my favorite anymore). I'm hoping it will all come back to me. As much as I used to love doing art, it would truly be a shame if I let the gift slip away.

With G as my muse, I will do art again. I plan to post the work sometime soon. In the meantime, I must narrow down the photo to re-create...


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Happy 4th!

Our first family getaway was a success, if I do say so myself. Road trips are so fun! We loaded up the car with two days and one night's worth of clothes/essentials (which came out to be more than you'd think...) and took off!

Stopped in Emporia to eat at Applebee's (G's meal was free for the holiday - whoopee!) then back on the road. Gwen finally took a little dozer - so did mommy. I couldn't help it!

Checked into the hotel Marriott at the Country Club Plaza. They even opened our car doors for us! Ha! The room was cozy - a nice King bed for mommy and daddy, a pull-out couch for munchkin. But no time for laying around, it's H&M time! So off to the plaza we RODE! Shuttle service = awesome. Front door delivery, doesn't get much better. G in the stroller, rocking the shades indoors. Mama trying to get in the shopping mood (not as easy as it used to be). $150 later, I have one new shirt, daddy has 2, and G has a dress, 2 leggings, and a headband that she picked out herself (then refused to wear since...) Then A/X - mama's favorite. Flippy floppies and a jacket.

Time to eat again! Cheesecake Factory, here we come! Andy and I split the meal so that we'd have room for dessert of course. Who could go to the Cheesecake Factory and not eat cheesecake?!?!

I planned the trip as best I could, selecting a hotel then changing my mind again and again before finally settling on the Marriott near the Cheesecake Factory. Andy gave me one rule - do NOT put us in the hotel that's way up the hill/mountain from the plaza. We've made that mistake before. Well, unfortunately AFTER purchasing the non-refundable room, I Google mapped it. Oops. Oh well. A little exercise after eating all that we had wasn't a bad thing... But first, we stop to rest our bodies a bit before the hike - at the gorgeous fountain.

One more tiny rest, then into the car again as we head downtown to the casino's parking garage roof. We heard from the gal working at Lucky that it's a great spot to watch the fireworks display. We showed up way early so we decided to make our way down to the actual River Festival festivities. Basically paid $10 for the porta-potty (priceless). We made our way all the way back to our car and enjoyed a gorgeous fireworks show at a comfortable distance. Gwen thoroughly enjoyed. And even though her usual bedtime was hours before the show even began, she did an amazing job staying her sweet lovable self the whole day through.

She even argued as we slowly made our way out of the garage that it wasn't over yet! There were still fireworks! But we had to call it a night. And she was ready. Her in her bed and Daddy and I in ours, she said 'sweet dreams - turn out the light!'

The morning came too quickly - if not for the knock from housekeeping about 9AM, who knows when we might have started our day! No rush getting ready, some fun photo ops before check out...

Our view of the Plaza:

Lunch at Fritz's - a burger joint where the food is delivered via train. A track runs along the wall near the ceiling and places the food on a tray that lowers to the table. Genius. And a blast for the kiddos (obviously, because the place was packed!) Luckily, we were there right at open.

Then to the Aquarium. Not really what we had expected - it was more geared towards the kids. A very, keep-the-pace feel as opposed to others we've been to where is was more of a casual stroll. But Gwen had a lot of fun and saw lots of 'bloop-blups.' That's what we call fish. A 'Bloop-blup' is to fish as 'Moo moo' is to cow. We played the animal sound game long ago - this one really stuck! hehehe
I do think G was a bit disappointed that there were no mermaids...

One more stop at Kaleidescope (sp?) for some quick arts and crafts, then we finally had to say 'uncle'. Headed Home Sweet Home. We hardly made it out of the parking garage before Gwen was slumped over in her carseat, dreaming of fish and shopping bags and fireworks.

Stopped for some ice cream at a turnpike McD's. Home early evening - fit in a bike ride to the playground and back before bed.

What a fun trip! G's ready to see the fireworks again next year already! How do you explain - 'not for another year' to a 3-year-old? What's a year? I used to think it was a long time. Seems lately, they go pretty quick... Savoring every moment.

Thank you, Lord, for my wonderful life. For my wonderful family.
Blessings all around ♥

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Age Three

What a fun age! They're all fun so far in their own way, but I'm having a blast with three. As a parent, I am supposed to teach her, but I find more and more that I am the one learning. Gwen doesn't have a shy bone in her body. We go to the pool, the store, church... it's a big, bright, happy "HI!" from Gwen to whomever crosses her path. I watch how the gloomy faces around us turn into smiles, lots of giggles and kind words. How I wish I could bring out the happy in people as easily as my daughter does. I know, she does have utter cuteness on her side, but wouldn't it be nice if we all had that effect on those around us?

She is caring and sweet. Says "I love you" more times than I can count each day. God has blessed us with a beautiful person.

This idea came to me from Pinterest. 20 questions (which I tweaked and added 4) to ask every year around her birthday. She talks up a storm - I don't want to forget a moment. These questions will help me to remember this moment in time for years to come.

I had my assumptions of what the answers would be. First, I thought her answer to the first question would be blue. Boy, was I off. Her first answer to almost every question on here was Pink! So I'm glad I asked!

I thought her favorite toy would be the iPad. I thought her favorite food would be ice cream with sprinkles. Clothes, I would have assumed it would be a princess dress as most items I place on her are unacceptable if they don't twirl well. Maybe she meant pink princess dress?

I thought Daniel Tiger on the computer would be her favorite game. Assumed her favorite animal would be a dog. Song would be Taylor Swift's "Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together." Silly me, I thought I was her best friend. She tells me I am, until I tell her to do something she doesn't want to. She does what I say, but usually sneers, "you're not my best friend, mommy." To which I reply, "Ok."

The doctor toy answers really threw me for a loop. She was definitely dropping hints because even though she claims their her favorite indoor and outdoor activity, she doesn't actually even own doctor toys! Santa shall jot that one down... I thought outdoor activity would be to swing or play in the dirt; indoor would be playdoh.

Christmas is what I assumed would be the favorite holiday. She cannot go to bed without the singing bear or grey kitty cat - I always thought Clifford was optional...

As much as she loves to dance, I assumed Ballerina would be her occupation of choice, but a doctor will do.

'Tangled' is the movie we've watched most, but she does love Cinderella. Unfortunately, she loves the cheesy knock-off version best. She casts me as prince and we act it out quite frequently. G: "I have to go home," she says as she stops dancing and scurries away. R: "But wait, Princess! I don't even know your name!" And then we sing, "Where have you been all my life? I'm drawn like a moth to your flame..." Well, you get the idea. We do shows upon request, so keep that in mind if you enjoy theater.

The big blue car carts are her favorite so I assumed Lowes would be her favorite store. In her favorite book (well, the book I thought was her favorite - Ballet Bunny), she bunny goes to the ballet store. Perhaps that's the inspiration behind her response to the store question.

Never a dull moment with my little princess. I'm truly blessed to know her, well, as well as I think I know her. As you can see from the differences in our answers, I don't know her as well as I thought. Perhaps I should suggest a new game show much like Newlyweds, except with the kiddos. I'd be entertained!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Under the Stairs

Home projects rarely turn out exactly as you expect - and even more rarely require less than 20 trips to Lowes. Ours was no exception. This project has been a journey to say the least. In our home there is a small room under the stairs. It was unfinished, smelled of dirty dog (from the former home owners), and only served as a place to stick our broken down boxes from the move.

I love art and I want my now 3-year-old daughter to experience all types of art. But that's difficult to do indoors! I don't want to have to micro-manage, but it's almost impossible not to if you don't want paint, clay, etc. on the hardwood floor, table, couch, walls - parents, you know what I mean?

So my vision was, let's convert this small 6.5' square room into her free-for-all. Turn her loose, let the paint and whatever else fly. Small project, I thought. Wrong... but so very worth it! We went to work in the evenings. She didn't even suspect! It was our plan to have it ready for the big reveal on her birthday. And by golly, we did it!

Before/After of entry - used shellac-based primer to seal in any stink on the drywall. I didn't want the smell to still be there after all was said and done. 

Before and after, 'round the corner - reading nook and desk.
  • Gold polka dots on ceiling 2" Gold Seals, Staples
    I used a 2" circle punch to remove the jagged edge. I'm pleased with how they look, but do re-stick them every time I go in the room...
  • Light fixture White Powder-Coated Flush Mount Fluorescent Light, Lowes
  • Pink paint - Valspar, 'Pretty in Pink'
  • Magnetic, Chalk board wall on right
    If I could do it all over again, I would not have messed with the magnetic paint. It added a lot of texture, so the eraser sheds a LOT when erasing the chalk.

  • Triangle Pendants made from paint swatches picked up during our many trips to Lowes, strung with white yarn
  • Banner Pendants made from cardstock book. Printed letters backwards onto shiny side of Transparency Film, then rubbed them onto the cardstock to spell out her name
  • Vinyl flooring, Lowes
  • Trim - nothing fancy, straight and simple white trim, Lowes
  • Display rail Roller System, Staples
  • Marker board and screw covers, Lowes
I wanted her to have options - so chalkboard on the right, drawing on paper or on the markerboard on the left, art desk around the corner for those sit-down projects (painting, playdough, etc)
  • Princess castle decal, Amazon
  • Curtain held up by tension rod, velcro fabric strip to hold it back (sewn to 3M hook)
  • Foil wrapping paper, Target $1 bin
    brought in some color, she LOVES the mirror effect
  • Glow in the dark foam stars
  • Picture Ledges 21 3/4" Long, IKEA - book storage
  • Crib mattress and pillows - now that she's in a big girl bed, this was just in storage! Along with the comforter, Dwell Studio Olivia (discontinued - I found it on eBay)
  •  BYGEL rail, 39", IKEA - chalkboard storage
  • Hooks, BYGEL, IKEA
  • Pails, from the Target $1 bins

The big reveal happened right after her 3rd birthday party! We managed to keep it a secret until then - she hadn't been in the room since hanging the drywall. "Wow!, Wow!" This was all she could say as she walked in for the first time. Then she went around the corner, got in the bed, and asked us all to leave. She was going to sleep. Since then, she loves to go in there to lay on the bed and read or play on the iPad, paint using the desk, or draw on the chalkboard and markerboard.
I'm so thrilled that she loves it as much as daddy and I loved putting it together for her!