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Goodbye, Chicago House

June 16, 2015
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It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than a year since I’ve posted to this blog, but a lot has been going on and, in all honesty, this just wasn’t high on the priority list (though I’ve started several posts I never finished in the interim). We sold our house in Chicago and moved out to the burbs. I got a new job, then that job relocated so I got another new job. We’re currently getting ready to do a whole lot of renovations on our house. It’s been busy, but things are finally settling in and I FINALLY have some time to get back into this whole blogging thing.

So, I’ll be trying to catch things up in the next few posts by covering some of the work we’ve already done on our house and some of my current projects.

We sold our house in Chicago back in the summer of 2014. It went fast, which was a relief but also very sad. After all, it was the house where we had brought our baby home and our first big purchase together. It was our home, and I admit that I did cry a little bit when we were packing up to leave.

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The whole moving process was a total nightmare. My husband got super sick (like emergency room sick) in the week before we were set to move so most of the packing fell on me to do. Then, we had to move in with our in-laws for a month while we waited on our new house to close (which was almost delayed additional time) and to have some renovations done on the new place. And unpacking and getting settled in took quite awhile too, especially with a little one to care for.

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We’ve been here for about a year now and we’re pretty happy with our decision to move. Sure, it sucks not to be able to walk to places to eat, but it is quieter, less dangerous, more private, and we have a lot more space to spread out in. Plus, we don’t have to commute to work anymore!

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Next up, all the changes we’ve made since we’ve moved into this house, which was not in the best state when we got it.

Personalized Portraits

January 3, 2014

Since we didn’t have a whole lot of money for gifts this year I decided to make some that were more personal.

My sister had asked me to make her a cross stitch portrait but since that takes months without a baby around I figured I would make her a different, less time-consuming version instead.

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I made a rough sketch and scanned it into the computer to add color and to refine things a bit. I included my sister, her husband, and all of their pets, even a recently deceased kitty in angel form.

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After I printed it, I added some gold paint to give it a little something extra. It was a huge hit. My sister told me she loved it so much she cried. Much better than anything I could have bought!

 

I also made my parents a house portrait. The actual version had their names and address on it, but since they probably don’t want that plastered all over the internet, I’ve just shown the house portion here.

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I’m considering opening an Etsy shop to sell versions for others. It’s really fun to make them and they’re such a nice, personal touch around the house!

New Year, New Start

January 1, 2014

2013 was a roller coaster of a year for me. It began with the joy of finding out I was expecting a little one, was tempered by the loss of both my grandfathers, and got pretty stressful after I lost my job mid-pregnancy. Luckily, the end of the year got a boost with my husband landing his dream teaching position and the birth of our little girl. I can say without a doubt that this was the most tumultuous year of my life, filled with both more joy and more sorrow than I could have possibly anticipated when it began.

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Throughout the year there have been many times when I’ve despaired, especially with regard to losing my job. I’ve been angry, hurt, and upset and often asked “why me?” And it has been hard. But looking back, I feel it’s important to acknowledge that I am so very lucky in so many ways. I have a loving husband and family, we are happy and healthy, and despite a rough arrival our little girl is perfect in every way. We never go hungry, we laugh more than we cry, and even though things are tough we get by.

There is always room for things to get better, but this year has taught me that even when it feels difficult to see how things will work out, it’s important to count the blessings that you do have. It’s so easy to overlook how central health, love, comfort, and security are to how we experience every day of our lives.

I’m hoping that 2014 will be a better year in many ways for my family, but this year has taught me that no matter what happens we’ll be ok. We may not have all the things we want, or may even struggle with the things we need, but we’ll always have each other and that will give us the strength to hang in there.

Hope everyone has a wonderful start to their new year. Here, it’s snowing hard so that means a day spent curled up indoors with my favorite people and pets!

Holiday Card 2014

December 25, 2013

I’ve been making my own Christmas cards for over 6 years now. At first, I made each one by hand, but as the list of recipients expanded, I began to make just one, scan it, and print it. It’s still a fair amount of work, but it’s much easier on my poor hands and takes a lot of stress out of the process.

I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make our card this year with watching a baby full time but hurried sessions during naptime were enough to put together my favorite holiday card to date.

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I came up with a few ideas but this one was the only one approved by my husband, and I think it’s a lot of fun. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue the tradition going forward and come up with new and exciting situations to put our little family in as we go.

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and got to spend time with those who are near and dear!

Making Ornaments from Quick Dry Clay

December 20, 2013

SONY DSCBeing a new parent, I didn’t have as much time this year to make crafts as I had in years past. I wanted to do something but needed it to be easy and fast. I had wanted to try out making clay ornaments for some time and located this product which seemed like the perfect solution. La Doll clay is designed for making, unsurprisingly, dolls. Since I’m not really into that kind of thing, I opted to make some ornaments and gift tags instead. 

It was pretty easy to work with, though very sticky. I simply rolled it out with a rolling pin onto  the counter. Next time I use it I’ll use wax paper because it does really like to adhere to anything and everything that isn’t a smooth surface. After rolling it out, I simply used cookie cutters to make shapes.

The coolest thing about this clay is that once it dried, about 24 hours later, it could be sanded, which helped to make a really smooth surface even in places where I had kinda messed up the pieces I cut out.

I decorated the finished products with a mixture of markers and acrylic paint. Both worked quite well. I’m pretty keen to see how Sharpie paint markers would work on it, as they’d give the precision of a pen with the look of paint. Next time, that’s what I’ll try.

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I ended up with a nice selection of stars and snowflakes in the end! I think the process needs a bit of tweaking, but not bad for a first-time, spur-of-the-moment project! The snowflakes were decoration for homemade marshmallows for my husband’s coworkers. This is the second year I’ve made marshmallows and it is such a super simple process. I’ve used a few recipes, but this year I opted for Alton Brown’s version, which came out really well. They were nice and fluffy and sweet!

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Holiday Decorations 2014

December 15, 2013

Here’s a peek at how we decorated our house this holiday season!

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The tree in all its glory!

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The bookshelves got some trees, snow, and glass to go with the cameras. 

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A little garland and lights finished things off. 

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I put up a second tree this year. It was woodland themed. 

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We always go to the Christkindlmarkdt to get ornaments each year. This year we got a little peanut for our little peanut. 

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Entryway decor. 

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Everyone needs a little festive chalkboard art. 

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This year’s snowflakes. We use a variety of paper and maps. 

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Coffee table decor. 

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Card tower! 

 

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Dining room. 

IMG_1820These were my great grandma’s and they’re my favorite! I want more of them, but they’re super pricey on eBay and Etsy. 

 

Baby Bird Has Landed!

September 30, 2013

I’m post-dating this post to when I actually should have posted it, seeing that I’m a full three months late in actually typing this out.

That’s not entirely because I was super busy caring for a tiny human. That carpal tunnel that was supposed to go away right after delivery? Yeah, that stayed around for another 6-8 weeks. I think the fact that I ended up with preeclampsia may have rendered my midwife’s initial assertion that it wouldn’t last long incorrect. Regardless, I didn’t really feel up to typing anything until fairly recently.

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It has been completely amazing watching my little mini-me grow and change and discover the world around her. She is incredibly sweet, always happy, and generally the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen. While she has a lot to learn about sleeping, she’s pretty much everything that I could have asked for in a little baby girl.

Getting her here, however, did not play out as I expected. I had planned for a natural labor, and knew that it would be painful but thought that the dozens of books that I had read would help equip me with methods that would make it easier to cope.

The problem is that my labor didn’t go like any of the books said it would. Pre-labor? Yeah, didn’t really experience that. I saw my midwife about 36 hours before I started having contractions. At that time, I had made no progress. Nada. My body went from nothing to contractions that were incredibly intense and strong in just over a day. I was told to wait until my contractions were 3 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, for 2 hours before coming to the hospital. Instead of building up to that intensity, they started off that way. I was at Trader Joe’s at the time and let me tell you that was one profanity-ridden drive home as I screamed at everyone to get the hell out of my way because I was pretty sure I was dying.

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Because things started so fast and furious, my body had no time to build up endorphins. No natural pain relief meant that I was in serious pain. Not two hours into labor and I was already screaming for the drugs. Crazy labor does have one perk though: it goes really fast. Three hours into things I was already 6.5 centimeters dilated and by the time I got upstairs to get those drugs, I was at 9. I ended up opting to stick it out.

Unluckily for me, even sticking to the original plan didn’t make things any better. Thinking I was ready, my labor team urged me to push. It turns out that I still had a teeny tiny bit of cervix in the way which made hours of pushing pointless. It also meant that I couldn’t stop pushing even though I needed to, which was the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my life. Seriously, that’s not an exaggeration. I was shaking, crying, and screaming. I finally ended up with an epidural anyway so that I could wait to push again.

Of course, the whole reason I didn’t want an epidural was because I knew it could slow or stop my labor, which is exactly what it did. I then had to get loaded up on pitocin, which, just as all the natural birth advocates tell you can happen, it immediately put the baby in distress. There was just no winning at this labor thing.

Especially since my little one refused to budge. Even after I was ready and pushed for HOURS again she didn’t move. At all. I was thinking this had to be some huge ass little baby if she couldn’t fit through my pelvis. Nope. After getting a c-section we discovered that she was only 6 pounds 14 ounces- not exactly a big girl. The doctor had no idea why she wouldn’t come out. There was nothing blocking her, she was actually pretty far down in the pelvis. She was just not ready to make her entrance.

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Things in no way went as planned or as expected, and after the experience I wasn’t sure that I ever wanted to go through it again. But three months out I can already feel myself thinking about how I’d like to give it another try. It was painful. It was hard. It was nothing like I expected. But all of that seems like a distant memory when I get to look at her sweet little face, see her smile, and think about all the fun we’ll get to share in the years ahead. It is cheesy and cliché as hell, but it’s true when people say that you forget the pain and that it’s all worth it. It totally is.

IMG_2864I still think I’ll need a few more years of not being pregnant and giving birth to realllllyyy forget it though, so don’t expect any more pregnancy posts anytime soon!