Under Construction

We’ve been wanting to update the look of our blog for quite some time, but being a little green when it comes to web design and all that good stuff, it’s a little daunting.  Bear with us while we dig into learning the ropes of basic blog design, as you’ll probably notice we’re playing around with various photos, headers/banners, color schemes, and the like.  We’ll let you know once we land on a finalized theme, but for now, enjoy watching us learn as we go.  Cheers!

Belly Update

This post is really for my mom.  These are definitely not the most flattering photos (honestly, who looks good posing alone by a blank wall?), and I start looking a little weirder as they go on…almost like I’m not sure how to stand still and look at the camera.  Oh well.  Monthly belly pics—enjoy!

September 2011

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October 2011

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November 2011

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December 2011

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January 2012

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February 2012

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Baby Braham is definitely growing!  Yesterday he weighed 1 lb. 7 oz., which apparently puts him in the 55th percentile.  I think Matt calculated that this means our baby boy is about 20% larger than most other babies his age—yipes!  For the record, yesterday I went to Target and pounced on pregnancy pants—hurray for sales—as my selection is waning.  Sigh.  Can’t wait for warmer weather so I can slip on sandals rather than fighting with my socks!

Elementary Artwork

Walking through the elementary hallway of my school several weeks ago, I spotted sea turtles gracing the walls with their bright, cheery colors.  I continued to walk past the turtles several times a week, until I realized that I really really wanted one for a piece of art in our ever-evolving nursery.  It didn’t take long to track down the elementary art teacher, who handed me a leftover turtle from the previous year, saying she was glad I could use it.  Free art! 

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At home I popped my neon green turtle into an 8×8 Ribba IKEA frame where it fit perfectly.  I love the blend of chalky colors, the embossed outline of the shell, and the playful nature of the piece.  It was probably the easiest art I’ve ever come by—all gained by making a simple request. 

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I’ve been browsing for more art ideas on Etsy, and it turns out I’m drawn to simple, funky animals, especially owls, elephants, giraffes, crocodiles, turtles, and the occasional friendly peacock.  Below are a few of my favorites—many that could easily become DIY projects.

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Children Inspire Design

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Children Inspire Design

Cottage Industrialist

I’d like the art in our nursery to be an eclectic mix.  I don’t want it to be too matchy-matchy, and I don’t want it to feel as if I went to Babies R Us and bought everything in a set.  I prefer to collect and make art over time.  How I wish I knew how to use Photoshop!  It might help to own it first…

Have you made or purchased any art lately?  Feel free to share!

Basement Business

Have you ever seen a picture of our basement?  Hmm… Well, it’s time.  Honestly, the basement is sort of the Cinderella stepchild of our house.  When friends venture too close to the stairs, I typically go to great lengths to cut them off.  Personally, I would love to pretend that the basement doesn’t really exist, but since it’s our storage/laundry/project space, I’ve had to come to terms with its existence. 

Not long ago, I realized that the clutter in our basement was threatening to overflow into the main living areas.  It was pretty bad.  Disclaimer: Living in a two bedroom, one bathroom home with almost zero closet space makes it challenging to find storage for normal items, like office supplies, extra bedding, etc.  Don’t judge!  Now for the public humiliation…

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Don’t you feel better about yourself now? 

I continued to put the job off until I heard that my dad (with a lot of my mom’s help) purged his office.  It sort of put me to shame, considering the…ahem…verycluttered/messynatureofhisoffice.  As much as I love my dad, I’m supposed to be the organized one!  Family pride was at stake.  So I cleaned it. 

This is not my first basement cleaning rodeo, and I quickly realized that if I wanted to create space and actually purge, then I needed to commit to getting rid of some serious paper.  As in, those old college notebooks and most of my teaching binders were never going to be used again.  Gut check time.  Okay, really, I mean I haven’t looked at them in six years, so is this really going to be the year?  Didn’t think so.  I did salvage some material from a few of Professor Lamb’s short story and Mark Twain classes, but I decided brutal elimination was my only hope when it came to all other paper.  You would not believe how many binders and notebooks there were.

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Before you panic that I threw out the baby with the bathwater (what a weird saying…), let me assure you that nearly all the work I do is now electronic.  As a teacher, I’m constantly updating my curriculum on the computer, and I make sure to save it to our school’s backed up H drive, along with saving it to my PC and to a flash drive.  In the past I’ve created bazillions of binders, only to find them obsolete the next year when I decide to tweak curriculum.  Ahhh…the wonderful feeling of freedom that only comes when you loose yourself from the paper monster.  The longest part of the process was saving paper clips and binder tabs, which require very little room to store and will definitely be used again. 

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In addition to recycling several trees, I moved items into more common sense spaces.  So instead of housing office supplies in three areas, I corralled them into one.  You get the idea. 

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Do I now love our basement?  Nope.  Is it full of cute organizing bins and baskets.  No.  Is it the kind of basement space I envision living with forever?  Not really.  But it’s a lot more functional and at least I don’t get heart palpitations every time I put in a load of laundry. 

So what’s holding you back from trashing those notebooks that you haven’t even blinked at for a decade?  Confession time!

To Be or Not to Be…

Can you tell that my students are in the thick of studying Shakespeare (although Hamlet isn’t part of our junior high curriculum)?  Let me just say that my college classes on Shakespeare do not hold a candle to watching 7th graders perform The Comedy of Errors.  If laughter is the best medicine, than I should be the healthiest teacher alive right now. 

Anyway, this post is one where I think through life’s deep questions aloud…deep questions like whether I’ll “be or not.”  Now when you hear what I’m pondering, you might think that “deep” is far too dramatic of an adjective to use when one is referring to home staging jitters.  That’s right.  Today I was asked to stage another house!  More details on that in a minute.  The point is…I get nervous!  I wonder if I’ll freeze and have no decorating ideas.  More than that, I get nervous telling other people what they need to change about their home.  I mean, our homes are nothing if not personal—we live in them!  In reality, I’m often afraid to use the gifts and passions that God has given me.  When it boils right down to it, I will never be more ready to do this than now!  I just need to plunge in and allow myself the awkward mistakes that come with new territory.  The feeling of taking a step in the darkness when you’re not sure what lies ahead.  The battle for making time to do one more thing.  The willingness to fail and never be called again.  And yes, some called me a drama queen when I was younger, although I like to think that I’ve outgrown it…hmm.  Well, you see what I’m saying.  Doing new things is hard.  It’s exciting, too, but sometimes you have to plow through the hard and the murky in order to get to the exciting. 

The house I’ll be staging this time around is actually a townhouse, and it’s in a completely different area of town from the previous home I staged, which was literally three doors down from us.  The owners are also currently living in the home, so instead of starting with a blank slate, I’ll help them pare down, rearrange, and add items where necessary.  This means I have to be honest, yet tactful.  Although I’m good at speaking my mind when it comes to my own home, it’s a whole ‘nother ball game when you’re working with strangers.  To top it all off, the realtor I’m working with—bless his heart—wants this finished by early next week.  While that is totally doable and probably somewhat typical in the staging world, it feels like a close deadline for a planner like me.  “They” say flexibility is key though, so here goes nothing.

I’ve never considered myself too much of a dreamer, as I tend to be a realist who often sees things in black or white.  And yet this feels sort of a like a dream that’s beginning to take shape.  I really have no qualifications, but someone is giving me a chance to do something I love—and to top it off, I now have a more flexible teaching schedule that allows me to do it!  Who knows what will come of it—maybe nothing.  But it’s go time.  And I mean that quite literally, as there is a lot to be done in order to get this house ship shape by early next week!  I’ll let ya know how it goes.

Oh, and since I’ve just been rambling, here’s a photo of the tulips my boy sweetly gave me for Valentine’s Day.

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I am smitten—and I love that he picks out all different types of flowers, as I’m not one to be suckered in by roses (although I definitely appreciate them on occasion—it’s just nice to mix it up).  Aren’t they cute in the oversized julep cup I found for a few bucks at a thrift store?  For the record, we were pretty low key on V-Day.  I made red velvet crepes for dinner and then we went to see the silent film, The Artist.  Has anyone else seen it?  We really liked it, even though I think one silent film a year is enough for me.  What did you all do for Valentine’s Day?  Is anyone else facing the “to be or not be” challenge?  Has anyone taken a plunge recently?  Was it refreshing?  I hope so.

Nursery Musings

I know that the love of money is the root of all evil, but I have to be honest.  In the world of home decorating, it wouldn’t hurt to have just a little more.  There.  I said it.  Sometimes it’s hard being on a budget, especially when Pinterest offers so many tempting images of posh baby nurseries.  All that said, I know it’s good for me to have to think outside the box when it comes to decorating.  If it came too easy, it would be boring and I’m sure I’d take it for granted.  Obviously it’s a treat to have a cute room—not a right.  Can you tell I have to keep myself in line?  We all need some checks and balances in our lives, true?

When we first moved into our little bungalow, the soon-to-be nursery looked like this…

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I know…those curtains seriously give me the creeps.  Then we converted it to a guest room, and it took on a slightly country look that I was never totally satisfied with, although it was a major step up from its humble beginnings (somehow we managed to paint the walls the same color as the original shag carpet…not our best move). 

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It currently looks like this…

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Several weeks ago, our friends moved into a new house chock full of bedrooms, and since they needed some furniture to fill the empty space, and we needed to clear out for Baby Braham, we loaned them all the furniture that resided in the guest room.  It was great to empty out the room so we could start fresh, but it was also a tad overwhelming.  It really didn’t take long to begin filling the space though, as some friends from church gave us this great changing table/dresser.  I’m considering either painting or changing the knobs, and I’ve also thought it might be fun to paint the top a bold contrasting color.

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and a few days later we snagged this $20 glider on Craigslist. Pardon the wonky cushions—they’re air drying after a good sanitizing wash.

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Yep, that chair is ugly as sin.  I have plans to paint it and recover the cushions (I’m hoping my talented neighbor will help me out, since she sews—which, by the way, is one skill I sew so totally wish I had under my belt).  At $20, it’s hard to go wrong, folks.  I’d love to add some sort of ottoman eventually—maybe one with storage inside. 

I’ve also been debating color schemes for the room.  Here are few of my favorites from the always inspiring Design Seeds website.

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The neutral lover in me is struggling a bit over whether or not to paint the walls a color.  I’m currently on the lookout for some fabric, a rug, or a lamp shade that will inspire me one way or the other.  I really think every room needs something that pulls it all together, and I’m holding off on any major decisions until I find that something.  Ultimately, though, I really want this room to be gender neutral.  While I’d love to go all out, it’s really more prudent for us to make this a space that two kiddos could eventually share, and that means it has to be somewhat versatile. 

Since there is not much storage in our house, we’re hoping to add it via a bookcase, a crib with a pull-out drawer underneath, and some floating shelves.  Here’s what we’ve been eyeing.

EXPEDIT Shelving unit, white Width: 31 1/8 " Depth: 15 3/8 " Height: 58 5/8 " Max load/shelf: 29 lb  Width: 79 cm Depth: 39 cm Height: 149 cm Max load/shelf: 13 kg

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LACK Wall shelf, white Length: 43 1/4

Next time Matt drives to Denver, he plans to stop at IKEA to purchase the Expedit bookcase and Lack floating shelves.  By the way, IKEA definitely has the best deal on these shelves that I’ve seen so far.  They are white (although they offer several other color options), chunky, and only $15!  Woot!  The bookcase is more of a splurge, so of course I’ve been seeking used alternatives at local thrift store and Craigslist, but so far I’m loving this guy, especially since he fits perfectly into a little nook in the room. 

Now that I’ve rambled on about random aspects of the nursery with very little to actually show for it, I thought I’d give you some real news.  On Tuesday we had our 20 week ultrasound, and it turns out that Baby Braham is…

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a healthy BOY!!  We are so thankful and excited that our future kiddos will have an older brother to look out for them—here’s praying that he’s a great role model!  During the ultrasound, our wonderful technician said, “I’ve been doing this for 26 years, and even though I can’t tell if it’s a boy or girl quite yet, its hand is between its legs, which almost always means it’s a boy.”  We laughed so hard we almost cried.  A few minutes later she confirmed that our very active baby was indeed male.  And for the record, this kid can kick!  Oh, the adventures that lie ahead…

While we’re on the topic of boys, we’re all ears when it comes to parenting wisdom.  Any thoughts on bringing up boys? 

A Match Made In…Spray Paint!

Before dashifying our front door with a bit of paint, I was anxious to update our door handle and lock.  Unfortunately, one of the bummers of owning an older home is that often our hardware is a strange size—as in, what was standard back in 1947 is no longer…standard.  After quickly nixing the purchase of a brand new door and much searching for a door handle that would fit our current door—nope, nada, not even online—we opted to work with the original handle while adding a new deadbolt lock.  This is the worst best picture I have of the original door handle set—yeah, the one squeezed into the left side of the photo.

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Note: Do not buy a door handle from Home Depot over a year before you plan to install it…only to find that when you do try to install it, it’s the wrong size.  And you’ve already taken it out of the packaging and thrown away the box.  Don’t ask where our heads were at that moment well over a year ago.  This is where we give Home Depot HUGE props, because when we dragged ourselves back to the store to return the hardware—heads hung low with shame—they took everything back without batting an eye, since they still had the same piece in stock—and told us it happens all the time!  Oh, the life lessons learned in the DIY process.

Let’s start with the lock.  Our old lock was not exactly bombproof.  You could actually turn the lock for the deadbolt before closing the door and then pull the door shut on your way out.  Not. safe. at. all.  Thankfully, we live in a great neighborhood, so we didn’t lose too much sleep over it, but still.  So recently Matt took a good chunk out of his Saturday to deal with this rebellious lock of ours.  Once again, because of our un-standard original lock, we had to go the complicated route of drilling a larger hole in our door and adding depth to the deadbolt hole in order to install a new lock that would actually hold against some force.  To spare you hours of painful detail—yes, that’s how long this took—we ended up buying a hole saw and drilling into our wood door to make room for our new lock (talk about nerve-wracking).  Sadly, we didn’t realize we needed to drill about halfway and then switch the saw to the other side of the door, so we drilled all the way through from one side…and the wood on the front of the door splintered.  It was somewhat traumatic, but this story ends well.

Matt finished installing the new lock and then applied DAP wood filler to the splintered section (it was about six inches long, but we were able to refit the splintered pieces back into the door and putty over it with the wood filler). 

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The wood filler worked beautifully and after several coats and some light sanding, it was hardly noticeable, plus we knew were going to paint over it.  And yes, I totally should have taken pictures, but things were pretty hairy for awhile, so snapping photos wasn’t exactly on the brain.  Clearly this isn’t my day job.

The next dilemma was figuring out how to match our new lock with our original door handle.  Since I’m a huge believer in spray paint, and since I’ve actually seen several other bloggers paint their door hardware recently, I felt we had nothing to lose by giving our handle several coats of Rustoleum’s oil rubbed bronze spray paint to match the oil rubbed bronze lock we had just installed.

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It worked like a charm!  Virtually no one would be able to tell the difference if I wasn’t announcing it to the world via the web (although some of you might be thinking that the difference in texture is pretty obvious, but we hardly even notice it, and it definitely doesn’t detract from the look of the door). 

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It definitely looks more cohesive than the old black chippy handle, and we feel way better about the safeness of our house having a lock that actually works.

Ahh…one of the joys of updating things is that it always makes something else look dingy…like our railings.  They are quite the eyesore and not even close to safe, considering they are completely rusted out at the bottom, but they’re just going to have to wait.

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When I get hung up on minor details like railings, It’s helpful for me to go back to the beginning…

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Oh, how easy it is to forget the great strides that have been made—which is also a good reminder to count your blessings!

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What do y’all do when you realize something isn’t a standard size in your house?  Do you drop bucko bucks buying custom made items, or do you turn to spray paint to solve all your problems?  Have you stopped to count your blessings lately? 

Seasonal Shifts

Happy Monday!  Matt and I just returned from a weekend getaway in Boulder, CO.  It was a lovely time, although sadly we didn’t snap any pictures of the super cute town to share on the blog.  Maybe next time?  For the record though, we ate like kings and were able to top off our  trip by sharing a dessert crepe loaded with berries, chocolate, and cream.  Yum.  And we definitely enjoyed exploring the locally owned shops and indulging in a street show where a comedian juggled fire, in addition to a knife and hatchet.  Kind of creepy, but really cool.  Good times. 

For some reason, it feels a bit like there’s been a shift in seasons.  I know it’s still winter—and will be for awhile—but it’s the second half of winter and it begs to be treated differently from the holiday half.  And what better way to welcome winter’s other half—the long, dreary half (sorry for the pessimism…)—than by cheering up some bookshelves?  My thoughts exactly. 

Since we were gifted some new decorative items over Christmas, I thought it would be nice to put them on display, in addition to several items that I keep around in case of a rainy day. 

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I picked up the owl for “free” at Kohl’s after using their $10 off one item coupon—I think it might have cost me 25 cents in the end.  (Ignore the fat paint drip behind Mr. Owl.  The back of this built-in bookcase is crying out for some TLC…perhaps wallpaper, paint, wallpaper bead board…someday.)  The domino boat was one of our Christmas gifts, and yes, it’s a real game of dominoes!  If you’re wondering what’s in the background, I spray painted empty picture frames white with the intention of creating a gallery wall like this one from Style Handler.

That idea never came to fruition, so I used them on the shelves to add depth and texture.

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The full effect.

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We’ve since added a weekly Scripture verse to the empty corkboard, which we’ve been memorizing together.  For those of you who love details, we’re currently memorizing Psalm 1, and this week we’re on verse 3.  It just felt like an appropriate passage as we prepare for parenthood. 

While I was at it, I made some makeshift moss balls by using star-shaped candle holders found at a garage sale, leftover sheets of moss, and my very favorite hot glue gun. 

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Warning—it’s messy!

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They may not look pretty at first glance, but when they’re covered in their mini-terrariums (which I plucked up for a song at a thrift store), no one is the wiser. 

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If I start itching for star-shaped candle holders next Christmas, I’ll just pull off the moss covering and give them a few coats of spray paint to chipper them up.  For now, they’re the perfect size for makeshift moss balls. 

Has anyone else been feeling the seasonal changes?  How do you decorate for the other  half of winter?  The often agonizingly slow part…