Monday, June 19, 2017

we be jammin'

During mom's birthday week extravaganza, we had a little extra time on Wednesday before I had to drive back home. Emily invited us to go strawberry picking, which neither mom nor I have ever done! I was shocked at how tiny (and adorable) the ripe berries were.

Each group got their own row of plants to work on, so we didn't have to worry about rushing around to find the best berries. Oliver kept wanting to eat the ones that Emily picked! We left with several pounds for each family.

Two pounds of fresh-picked strawberries was the perfect impetus for my first attempt at canning. I bought jars and pectin and set to work Saturday evening. I made a half recipe following instructions from The Pioneer Woman. The jam set nicely and the jars look to be sealed properly. We had some with breakfast on Sunday morning... successful (and delicious) first attempt at making jam!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

birthday fun for mom

Last week was a whirlwind of Mom's birthday activities... I think I drove 9 extra hours last week to make it to all the festivities! (Still nothing compared to Christopher and Emily's 36+ hours of driving on vacation). On Tuesday, I left work a few minutes early so I could surprise mom for her birthday dinner. She didn't expect me to make the 2 hour trip, but I couldn't miss such an important birthday!

We celebrated with presents and cake back at the house... sixty years young!

Wednesday morning, Emily invited us to go strawberry picking. More on that in my next post! I drove home Wednesday afternoon to get Mae to a doctors appointment. Thursday I worked a half day and then went sport clay shooting with my group from work. This was my first time even holding a firearm and my first time shooting anything more powerful than a nerf gun. I've never even been paintballing! I was pretty terrible, hitting only 10 of 100 clays, but it was still lots of fun.

After shooting and dinner, I drove again to my parents' house to be ready for Friday morning's continued birthday festivities. We met Aunt Ruthann, Jamie, Erin, and Courtney for lunch at the prettiest little pastry shop I've ever seen. We had a delicious lunch with sparkling drinks and, of course, delicious, glittery cakes! Such a fun Ladies Day Out to celebrate a very special lady... happy birthday, Mom!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

bird print lark tee

I sewed a t-shirt! This was my first time sewing with knits, so I chose a simple pattern and an easy fabric. The pattern is Lark Tee by Grainline Studio, and the fabric is a cotton interlock from Jo-Ann. (I am just now realizing how thematically appropriate the bird print is for a pattern called "Lark.")

cozy birdhouse | bird print lark tee

I bought the pattern online as a PDF, which means I printed out the pieces at home and taped them together instead of buying an envelope with large tissue-y sheets of paper inside. I cut out a size 4, but I might try a size 2 next time.

I pinned and zig-zag stitched the sleeves and neckband in place before serging. For the straight seams (shoulders and sides), I just serged. For the hems, I serged the raw edge for stability before turning up and zig-zagging. I may attempt a double-needle hem in the future, but I really don't mind the zig-zag stitch look.

I put off doing this for a while, because I was anxious that I would have big issues sewing it. I bought the pattern 6 weeks ago! Fortunately, I didn't have any sewing problems and am really pleased with the finished item, so I see more handmade shirts in my future!

Monday, June 5, 2017

boats & beaches

​Remember back in August when Dan and I demonstrated our bravery/insanity by taking a whirlwind East Coast trip with a three-month-old baby? Certainly we wouldn't be bonkers enough to attempt that again with a one-year-old... right? Wrong! Our craziness knows no bounds!

We started off the trip with a flight to visit Dan's parents in their fancy new townhouse for one night. They have abandoned suburbia for city life and are enjoying the perks like nearby shops/restaurants and the ability to walk to work. We stopped by a local place for dinner (and a cute little pie shop for dessert).

The next morning, we were off again to visit my grandparents in upstate New York. After about 6 hours of travel, including a well-timed stop at a McDonalds PlayPlace (for Mae to exercise/exorcise out some of her wildness/demons), we arrived just in time to meet my family at the pool. Mae looked super cute in her new flamingo swim suit, and absolutely loved pretending to be a speedy motor boat in the floaty ring we brought.

The next day, Grandpa took us out for a boat ride. Mae and Oliver didn't look particularly comfortable in their life vests, but they didn't mind once we got them on the boat. Mae loved hanging over the front edge and watching the waves break along the sides of the boat. She cried every time we slowed down to look at something along the shore!

Monday, we celebrated Dad's 60th birthday with a lunch cruise on a big steamboat. All his siblings and a few of my cousins were also able to attend. We packed the dance floor as soon as the music started after lunch (no surprise there if you witnessed the bench-clearing dance party at our wedding reception). Mae especially loved spinning around the floor with Dan and me while shaking her head to the music!

After the cruise, Gramma and Grampa gave a little slideshow presentation with photos and facts about Dad. (We loved seeing his long hippie hair from the 70s.) Then we played bingo and enjoyed a cake which turned everyone's tongues blue. Oliver was very amused by his mommy's bright blue tongue!

We spent a quiet, rainy Tuesday playing cards and preparing for our drive the next day. Wednesday we drove about 5.5 hours to my inlaws' beach house. Our weather Thursday and Friday was beautiful, but the ocean was COLD! I tried to keep Mae on the warm sand, but she cried and pointed at the waves until I moved her into the shallow water. She splashed and played with her shovel in the sand until her little chin was quivering uncontrollably and her lips started to turn blue at the edges. GranE warmed her up with lots of snuggly hugs afterwards. Mae is a little water bug for sure!

As much as Mae loved being on the beach, I think she loved chasing Pepper around the house even more. She has a special raspy squeal that she unleashes whenever she's in close proximity to a canine. We're pretty sure she's mastered her first real word (other than the "mama" or "dada" she indiscriminately spouts at most objects) since she yells "DOG-GEE" every time we pass one on the street now. She has also gotten pretty good at saying "uh-oh," though it often comes out as "uh------uh."

Mae also showed off another milestone while at the beach. She stood unsupported for the first time before our vacation on May 22nd for Daddy and then again for GranE on FaceTime... though I didn't see it until a few days later. She had fun practicing her new skill on the porch at the beach house (and then diving onto Aunt Colleen's lap). Mae also frequently insisted that Batman help place the pieces in the new farm animal sounds puzzle that he bought for her.

After a lot of travel and a lot of fun, we were happy to head home. Mae got some of her sillies out by crawling under the airport chairs before our flight. She certainly has a lot of energy, and it was really fun to watch her experience boat rides and beaches on this trip!


Okay, so you thought we were nuts for cramming all this into a week? So, get this: Christopher and Emily DROVE from their house to my Grandparents' house (13 hours), then left mid-week and DROVE to North Carolina (another 13 hours), and then DROVE back home again (a measly 12 hours). All with a soon-to-be one-year-old baby! That... is crazy.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

third blogiversary

Happy third birthday, blog! You are 52 posts bigger than last year!

I started this blog three years ago as a way for me to remember all our big family family events. I've also had fun documenting my latest crafty endeavors. For the first year, only my family and a few friends regularly read the posts. Now I have readers around the globe that have connected with me from Facebook, Google, and Ravelry! I'm thrilled that this little project I started for myself (and that I enjoy so much) also entertains my family, my friends, and even people I've never met!

So, I am dedicating this year to all my secret readers: the acquaintances I bump into who sheepishly ask about something from a blog post... or the ones who check in regularly but feel silly leaving a comment... or the ones who just enjoy having a window into a random stranger's life. I regularly read lots of blogs by people I've never met! I love to feel inspired by other people's crafting, and I enjoy seeing snippets of life from people around the world. I would write this blog even if no one read it, but you make it even more worth it. Here's to another good year!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

one year of mae

Happy birthday, Mae!

It's hard to believe you are already a year old! Here's a look back on Mae's first year "by the numbers."

Diapers dirtied: about 2400 (200 newborn, 1000 size 1, 1200 size 2)
Weight gained: 9 lbs 3 oz (that puts her at 17 lbs!)
Teeth: 12 (3 more molars this month)
Ounces of formula consumed: about 2500 oz in the past 3.5 months (about $500 worth)
Flights taken: 4
Actual words spoken: 0
Almost words spoken: 2 (dada, mama)
Miles walked: 0
Miles crawled: lots!
Doctor visits: 15
Lactation consultant visits: 7
Urgent care visits: 1
States visited: 9
Number of times I've listened to "The Happy Apple" song: 6, maybe 7 billion?

We had Mae's birthday party last Saturday. I had way too much fun planning the Very Hungry Caterpillar theme. I made a birthday banner and caterpillar cake, and we ate all the food items from the book with little signs to identify each item on the table.

I am super proud of the cake. This is the first time that I've decorated a cake that hasn't looked like a complete disaster (Dan can attest to this). The caterpillar body is made from a Bundt cake cut into sections (idea found on Pinterest), and I made a small cake for the head as a "smash cake" for Mae.

Mom had a biopsy surgery on Friday, so we moved the party from our house to theirs so she wouldn't have to travel. Fortunately, that meant that several of my cousins and their families were able to come! The kids had fun playing hide-and-go-seek around the house. So adorable!

I loved watching their faces when we offered Mae her "smash cake." They look simultaneously jealous and horrified. (Don't worry, there was plenty of decapitated caterpillar body and tons of mini cupcakes for the party guests).

Mae started dessert by daintily poking the caterpillar in the eye. After I put a blob of frosting on her tongue, she got more into it. She was double-fisting cake by the end!

She had fun showing her frosting-covered fingers to Uncle Tim and David on FaceTime. She even offered them a bite of cake from her hand!

Batman happily helped Mae finish off some of the cake. She thought it was pretty fun to feed him globs of frosting off her fingers.

Mae got lots of new books, cute clothes, and some fun toys for her birthday. She has already played in her sandbox from GranE and Batman and is looking forward to coloring with her crayons at her little table from Grandma and Grandpa! Today we built block towers and drove her plastic truck all over the family room.

She wasn't interested in tearing the wrapping paper, but she loved playing in the piles of paper and bows. On the other hand, Oliver was thrilled to help with the unwrapping. He is going to be so excited to open gifts on his birthday in just one month!

I'm so glad Mom was feeling well enough to enjoy the party. We had such a good time!

It was fun to have our families together, and I'm so glad Dan's parents were able to be here to celebrate Mae's birthday. They even babysat Mae on Sunday while Dan and I saw "Beautiful: The Carol King Musical" with tickets they got us for Christmas. A lovely Mother's Day for me!

Phew, that was a lot of photos, but I had to show all the fun moments from Saturday. Finally, here's the aftermath of the cake (top destruction by Mae, bottom by Kelsey and Dad... at least they used forks instead of their hands!)

So proud of my little girl... Can't wait to see what year two brings!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

mother's day

It's a beautiful holiday to honor our amazing mothers. But I think for so many people, there must be a tinge of sadness attached to this day of celebration.

I spent today thinking about Nolan. The baby boy who made me a mother. I only knew him for the shortest time, but it changed me more than any experience of my life. Whenever hard times are looming, Dan tells me he knows we can get through anything because we've already gotten through something harder.

I spent today thinking about Mae. The baby girl who made me a mommy. I'm watching her drift off to sleep in her crib as she daintily counts her fingers and twiddles her pacifier. Now her hands are still and her little body rises and falls rhythmically as tiny snores reach my ears. Just a few seconds next to her before I go to bed is enough to wash away all the stresses from my day. I've never felt such peace.

I spent the day thinking about Eileen... the woman responsible for raising the guy I love more than anything. She is around babies all day for her job, so I love to hear her reassure me that Mae is smart and beautiful and healthy since I'm sure it's a purely objective professional opinion not clouded at all by grandmotherly love. Also, Mae loves cuddling her more than anyone in the world, including me.

But mostly, I spent today thinking about my own mom. She is one of only two people in this world who can comfort me when I turn into a puddle of tears. She is my rush hour entertainment and makes time for me multiple times a week so we can chat while I drive home. She listens to hours of stories about Mae and helps me relive the cute moments and survive the not-so-cute ones.

We found out over Easter weekend this year that, after 13 years cancer-free, my mom has breast cancer again. Since then, she's undergone scans and biopsies and tests and procedures, but she stays positive through it all. She even comforts me when I'm having a hard time dealing. I laughed through my tears last week, telling her, "You're not supposed to be the one comforting me." But, that's just who she is... strong through everything.

So, while you are thinking of your mom tonight, please tack on an extra prayer for my mom. I know lots of her strength comes from all the prayers that have already been sent her way. (Also, she told me to pray for peace for myself through this difficult time. So while I'm selfishly praying for myself, I want to make sure someone out there has her covered.)

I'll finish with an excerpt of a reflection my mom sent last week, along with a photo of Kelsey and me, our mom, and her mom from almost 10 years ago.

"Do not long for the absence of problems in your life. That is an unrealistic goal, since in this world you will have trouble. You have an eternity of problem-free living reserved for you in heaven."

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

painting my own pottery

Several weeks ago, I went with Kathy and her mom to a nearby pottery painting studio for a Ladies' Night special. We had lots of fun sipping wine and exercising our creativity. (I only accidentally dunked my paint brush in my wine cup once.)

I selected this planter as a new home for the little pothos plant that I've been nursing back to health since someone abandoned it in our office break room a few years ago. The only downside is that now the plant has lots of healthy vines... which obscure my pretty artwork! Here's some photos pre-plant. Love how it turned out!

Monday, May 1, 2017

mae dae

Just a quick update on the last couple of weeks!

Mae and I have been having lots of fun on our weekly Wednesday play dates with Anna/Jen and Isaac/Stacey. Last week we had absolutely gorgeous weather and went to the zoo. The highlight of the trip was definitely getting blue soft serve ice cream at the end. Oh, and seeing animals. But mostly the ice cream.

Dan's computer totally bit the dust a couple weeks ago. Fortunately we didn't have much stored on there. Apparently Shutterfly recently added the capability to download high resolution versions of your photos, so we can even recover full versions all our wedding photos that we had stored on that computer (and thankfully online too!). Since Dan had just upgraded his video card, he decided to take a stab at building his new desktop from scratch. This involved A LOT of components.

We had a bit of a scare when, after two days of meticulous assembling, he hit the power button and nothing happened. Then, he realized he hadn't flipped the switch on the power supply. As soon as he did that, little colorful LED lights started flickering inside. Dan avoided buying any overly gaudy components, but he did buy a case with a window so we can admire his handiwork. Its glowing red lights creepily stare at me when I walk by.

In the not-so-fun news, this weekend I survived a major mommy milestone: catching my kid's barf in my hands for the first time. So gross. We're not sure if Mae had a little stomach bug or if this is just another side effect of teething. I KNOW, MORE TEETH. This poor kid. She now has both upper molars and the lower left just broke the surface.

Despite her "bummy tummy" as Dan nicknamed it, Mae still had fun participating in the March for Babies with us this weekend. We filled out a little "Why I Walk" banner with Nolan's name and attached it to the stroller. She enjoyed the early morning stroller ride (until the end when she managed to barf on my arm and Dan's leg at the same time... babies are disgusting sometimes).

We are currently preparing for Mae's first birthday and finally catching up on some much-needed baby-proofing. We have another couple of busy weeks ahead of us!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

easter dress

I might have a new favorite make: Mae's Easter dress!

When shopping for her dress a few months ago, I didn't spot anything I really loved, and I also didn't feel like spending lots of money on something she will only wear a few times. I finally decided to sew her a dress. So, instead of an hour of shopping and $20 on a store-bought dress, I invested weeks of sewing time and probably $30 in fabric and supplies. Makes sense, no? Oh well, it was the perfect project to christen my new serger and craft area, and I love the result! I also have the cutest little model.

The pattern is the Caroline Party Dress by Mouse House Creations in the 12 month size. This was my first time working with a PDF pattern, and I'm excited to try more! This pattern goes up to a girls size 12, so I see more Caroline dresses in Mae's future.

The fabric is a cotton sateen from the Gertie Collection at Joann Fabrics, and it's fully lined with a crisp Kona cotton. I omitted the tulle underskirt so my little crawler wouldn't get too tangled up in it. She never wears fluffy dresses, so she was very amused by the poofy skirt and kept playing with it.

I made the bodice twice, since I wasn't thrilled with the collar on the first attempt. Other than that, everything came together smoothly. The step-by-step photos were easy to follow. I had no issues with the invisible zipper installation. Surprisingly, I haven't really sewn from a pattern since my mom helped me make a lady-bug print outfit many years ago!

I also made a little matching headband using the smallest size of the bow tie pattern from Made for Mermaids. I was shocked that Mae kept it on for more than 30 seconds... She must have forgotten it was there!

I am excited to start sewing some more clothing items and getting more practice with my serger!