Monday, April 22, 2013

Airports, Anthro, and Four Granola Bars

On Facebook I follow a page called "Honest Toddler."  It's just what it sounds like - hilarious.  Some brilliant parent is posting on behalf of their two year old, supposing the things that we all wonder if our kid is thinking.

This morning's status: "In a store called Anthropologie. Looks like a cross between a garage sale and a wedding."

I had to chuckle, because just a hour or two before I read this, I had taken my own toddler into Anthropologie, where he found door knobs displayed in a bowl with, what else, white and yellow gumballs, and then insisted we roll the balls to each other.

I conceded until one ball rolled clear across the store, and some suit with a bluetooth, obviously picking out an I'm-sorry-I'm-a-jerk gift for his wife (#takenoteHerbSuerethChrisStrayerJerryBecker), had to point me in the direction of said gumball.


We took my mom to the airport this morning.  She's visiting my sister in Florida for the week.  I was not invited and I don't want to talk about it.  I thought since we were in Philly already from our airport trip, Levi and I should make a day out of it.  

First we sat in traffic going into the city near the airport, which was actually awesome because Levi could watch the planes take off.

Next, we found a Starbucks, and I got embarassed because I was convinced they were giving away free coffee for Earth Day.  They weren't - I was reading a blog from 2011.  LOL.  The barista told us about  a park downtown, so we headed that way.

Once we (parallel) parked in the city, we found the said park, and of course, it didn't have a playground like I expected.  Oops.  But we did find a giant statue of a lion annihilating a snake, which Levi thought was fabulous.

We walked another mile to a riverfront park (with a playground), played for a few minutes, found a bathroom.

Then with an hour on the meter to spare, walked a mile back (Levi on my shoulder), and stopped at Anthropologie (and rolled gumballs around to each other on the floor).  

On the way home, just before my exhausted toddler crashed into oblivion and I finished my audio book of "Bossy Pants," we ate the pathetic lunch I packed - bananas, granola bars, applesauce in a packet, and chips.  Not the most well rounded meal, but it was a last minute decision this morning, I was grateful for the (free) food, and at least it wasn't french fries.

It was a fun, albeit anti-climatic, morning.  I love that Levi is at the point where for a two hour traipse around the city, all I needed was a wallet, cellphone, car key, and his hand.  No stroller, no diaper bag, just a good pair of sneakers and the shining sun.  We had a great time!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Two Miles

Today I ran two miles. It's a big deal.

Actually, it's a big deal times forty.  Because two months ago I could barely run for a minute without wanting to die.  Today I ran for forty minutes straight.

(Don't do the math - it's like a 17 minute mile.  Pathetic.  But if you are doing the math, I did 2.3 miles in 40 minutes.)

Melody and Jess inspired me...and then with some convincing from the former, I signed up for the Run or Dye 5K.  It's in Philly, in June.  It was February when Melody first proposed it, and I laughed it off.  

I've been using a couch-to-five-k training app, and a few days ago I hit a big milestone by running my first complete mile and also running for 20 minutes straight.  A big chunk of time for me.  Then, last night before bed I realized I actually was looking forward to my run this morning, so I laid out all my clothing and got up with enough time to spend 45 minutes exercising.

I did my five minute warm up walk, and then I started running.  Ten minutes passed, and then twenty, my former personal record, so I kept going.  I wondered how long I could make it.  By the time I hit thirty-five I realized if I could make it a few more minutes, I would reach the two mile marker.  I was tired, but I was excited.

I don't know why two feels so special to me.  I guess I've always thought two miles is a nice amount to walk or jog on a regular basis, you know about thirty minutes, but yet it seemed so unattainable.

Today I attained it.  I'm pretty stinking excited.

And now, a photo montage...

February 2013 - The first time I exercised for the sake of exercise in two years.

March 2013 - Getting into interval running training.  One minute at a time.  Surprisingly, not hating it.

April 19, 2013 - My first big chunk of running.  Twenty minutes and feeling great.

April 21, 2013 - The first time I ran two miles. Note to self - don't pin back the bangs and take pictures of myself without a shower before 7 am.

Friday, April 19, 2013

How To Deal With A Tiny Master

And no, I'm not talking about living with a two year old.

Rather, what this is is a cry for help!  I'm going to share some pictures today that I'm kind of hesitate to publish.  It's part three of our "new house tour:" the master bedroom. I have a SMALL master bedroom, a huge bed I'm not willing to part with, a few good ideas, and a lot of room for improvement.  When I say small, I mean 9' x 13'. We can't paint or change anything cosmetically because we're renters.  My decorating has to be limited to bedding, wall art, curtains, furniture, and rugs.  And stuff has to be free or under $10.  Ha!  Here we go!

So when we moved to our new house, the "cons" were tiny bedrooms and one minuscule bathroom.  The "pros" of a larger living room, kitchen, storage area, third bedroom, and back yard won out.  This is how I'm dealing with the tiny bedroom.

We have a king size bed.  It has a beautiful oak mission style headboard, foot board, rails, and actually, an entire mating suite.  Most of it didn't fit. The armoire, one night stand, the box spring, and the mattress made it in to our room.  The large dresser and second night stand live in the living room, while the remaining bed pieces are sadly stashed in the basement.

How to deal with a huge bed on a floor?  Free cinder blocks from the side of the road.

What to do when your headboard is now a single-pane window that is freezing in the winter?  Well, find an old door in the attic and hang it on said window.  In case you're wondering, I used Interlocking Flush-Mount Hardware - it was completely worth the $7.  That's the way to go if you want to hang a "headboard" on the wall - or any other heavy art for that matter.

Fun fact - did you know a standard king size bed is the same width as the height of a standard interior door?

My shoes are stashed under the bed and hanging on the wall in these white pop-out recycling containers from Ikea:

And you know the saying abut the plumber's house?  This is our version.  The man who works for the audio, video, and lighting industry sees this every morning when he wakes up.  It's freaking hilarious, and Herb is going to be totally embarassed that I shared this picture!  Also - remember when I said our dresser didn't fit up the stairs (although it loves living in the living room now), well, this book shelf DID fit, and it works. I guess.  For now.

Yes we have two televisions in our very small room.  That's another story for another day - but it's very temporary.  But ridiculous and so funny.  What should I do above our bed with window treatments?  I've tried long hanging drapes (eh) and scarves (double eh), but I don't want a valance that would block out the light.  I also need to do something about the window beside the bed (not pictured).  And spruce up my wall of jewelry, special pictures/prints, and shoes.  Oh, and I still have white fabric to make this duvet (mom, seriously, let's get on it already!).

Suggestions for anything? Aaaaaaaaand, Go!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Enjoy It

Contentment is a big word for me.  I guess it probably is for everyone.

But, by the grace of God, I've been feeling so very content in the size of our family these days.  Will we ever add to it?  Probably.  How? I don't know.  When? I really don't know.  Is there a chance that we won't?  I guess.

And right now, I don't care.

After a morning of playing hard at the park, we paused for a brief picnic lunch before heading home for a nap.  Surrounding us were mothers and children.  Lots of children.

Like, seriously, 4 kids to every mom.

One table over I heard one mom settling a chicken nugget dispute, and on my other side was a frazzled mama who realized she forgot to pack napkins.

And meanwhile, my one and only child snuggled up next to me on the bench, said, "Kiss, mommy,"  and "Thanks for the good food."

The joy that he brings me and the amount that I'm able to actually enjoy and appreciate his company is insurmountable.  I'm not saying that I don't wish for more children.  It's just that, in the world of infertility, it's nice to have a win sometimes.  There is a silver lining - and my relationship with Levi is it.

As we drove home, I contemplated the idea of having only one child.  Is it selfish to only want one?  Is it possible that we may never be able to adopt again - is it our future?  Am I a bad mom because I think I can probably only handle parenting one child?  Am I a bad mom for sometimes wishing I had another baby?  Back and forth, round and round.

Then I heard a gentle whisper, from Him, the hope-fulfiller.  "Shhhh.  You are content.  Enjoy it."

So who knows.  Is this amazingly special time with Levi what our entire future looks like?  Or will it be a time that we look back on and reminisce as the days when we only had one child? I don't know, and I'm okay with that.  It sure helps that I have arguably the best kid ever.

What about you?  Is there a next chapter in your life that may or may not begin?  Trust God.  He is capable of giving peace, contentment, and joy in whatever the situation.  More than I ever imagined possible.

Philippians 4:11b-13 ...I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Under My Spell

This weekend marked the end of an era... I finally emptied the last drops of my bottle of "Love Spell" lotion.

Why is this a big deal?  Well, really, it's not.  I just think it's funny that a $9 bottle of lotion lasted me for twelve years.  Can you even comprehend all the special events that bottle of lotion got me through?

Prom 2001

High School Graduation, 2002

College Graduation, 2006

My Wedding, 2006

My childhood bff, Steph, talked me into buying the lotion for Prom in 2001 - it's fitting that she shared all those big events over the years with me, too.  Love Spell and Steph - seeing me through the big milestones.

I used to save it for special occasions  but after packing up all my toiletries for two moves in two years, I decided recently it's time to use this stuff up!!  And thus began "Operation: Use Up My Stuff Before I Buy Anymore."

Next up is my Jergen's Ultra Healing lotion.  It's a much better lotion, but doesn't have near the memories tied to it like Love Spell did.

How about you?  What's your favorite scent to wear (lotion or spray?).  My mom is a Bath and Body "Sweet Pea" fan and my mother in law loves "Paris," also from Bath and Body.

Friday, April 5, 2013


In college I was a music ed major (yeah, we know), and my major performance area was clarinet/bass clarinet.  However, part of my general education requirement was to sing in choir for 2 semesters (or was it 2 years?  Who knows.)  Anyway, I was completely blessed to sing under a conductor who was incredibly musically gifted, and even more people-gifted.  This guy knew how to get you to sing like your life depended on it, and at the same time, made you realize that your life did depend on it.  

Choir, Mexico, 2005
Dr. James moved on to another calling just before my senior year.  I was grateful to have fulfilled my choir requirement - he had left big shoes to fill!  We were so sad to see him go, but just before his departure, the choir traveled to Mexico to sing in a World Competition.  This was the first time I traveled out of the country, and one of my fondest college memories.  

Choir, Mexico, 2005
Just the other day Levi pulled out my Mexico pictures and asked me who this was, what that was, and where were we.  It was a fun story to tell.  And of course, who could forget the wicked case of Montezuma's revenge that ran it's coarse through the ENTIRE choir?

The last time I sang for Dr. James - in our host family's house!
Recently, he brought his current college choir to my old alma mater for a concert - and much to our delight, performed several pieces that we sang with him back in the day, too!

I wasn't sure if I was going to go to the concert or not.  It started at 8pm, I felt bad leaving Herb on babysitting duty when I knew he would like to go to the concert just as much as I would.  But he said, "Go!"

Three college friends, excited to see the new performing arts center!
As Christina, Sammy, and I walked into the new performing arts building, I was struck with the familiarity.  Which is strange because it was literally a completely new building.  But seeing old faces in and old town with wonderful memories transported me back to a different time.  Life was oh-so-stressful then, but beauty was being experienced on an almost daily basis.  

B-Rex, same old guy. 
Sitting in the concert hall, listening to the notes I had once sung scratched an itch I've had for years.  There is just nothing like creating music, experiencing music.  I laughed at myself thinking, "I can't believe I almost didn't come to this."  And seeing old friends is the best.  There was a quick bond and tight hug, even with ones I haven't spoken to since the day of graduation.

Choir Reunion, 2013
So, thanks, Dr. Buddy James for bringing us together and helping us create something beautiful all those years ago.  And thanks for giving us a chance to remember and experience those feelings again.  

And thank you God for the incredible gift of music.

Geez.  I'm such a nerd.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sammy's Next Chapter

My friend Sammy is having a baby, and gosh, I'm so excited.  Seriously excited.  It's partially because I know she and her husband, Ricky, are going to be amazing parents, partially because it's so fun to watch people transition into parenthood, and partially because come September, her little bundle of joy will be entertaining me and Levi for a few hours a day!

Sammy's baby shower was last month, and it was perfect - great guests, good food, cute decor, beautiful location, and glowing momma to be.

To start planning the shower, the other girls and I stalked Sammy's own Pinterest boards.  How did we plan any event ever before the onset of Pinterest?  I mean, seriously. Suddenly, ever other shower I planned looks like complete junk. We watched for nursery ideas she was pinning and based our colors around things she seemed interested in.  Heck, some of the food and baby book gift ideas were from her boards, too.  Never underestimate the power of pinning.

Sammy is a musician, but also an avid reader, and a book theme seemed to be just up her alley. In lieu of cards, guests were asked to bring books, as seen here.

The centerpieces and table decor rang in with a 50 cent price tag.  My friend Melody made burlap baby themed table runners and generously loaned them to me (I still owe you a Starbucks).  She also loaned me a dozen glass bottles to use as vases. I filled the bottles with a strip of rolled purple paper, and put half a dozen book page flowers in each bottle.  Looking for a tutorial on paper flowers?  Check pinterest!  Or here.

(flowers at my house, aka pre-staging)

The shower was held at a local radio station where my husband works part-time.  They have a new building with a cafe-like room that can hold 40.  The room is just gorgeous with wood floors, marble counter tops, mood lighting, and nice cozy tables and chairs.

In addition to baby bottles, burlap runners, and book page flowers, each table was set with guest favors - a book mark!  I based the book marks on something from etsy/pinterest, but used fabric flowers instead of resin.  The jumbo paper clips come in a pack of 10 at Staples.  I did 40 fabric flower favors for $18.  Each bookmark is attached to a card that has a quote about kids and reading and then, "Thanks for joining us to celebrate Samantha's next chapter."

I used a variety of fabric scraps to create a coupe different kinds of flowers.  I used this tutorial (6 different flowers!)

Decor for the buffet area and around the room was also book themed and based on Sammy's nursery colors (purple and brown).

My go-to birthday/baby shower gift has been a custom fabric pennant banner.  I made one for a Levi a few  years ago and now I feel like every kid should have one.  Baby girl's nursery is purple with brown furniture, so that guided my fabric choices.  If you're looking to make one of these pennant banners yourself, pick up an eighth of a yard of 5 fabrics and some corresponding ribbon.  Or, read this or that tutorial for more information.

I found these little wooden books for $0.30 for all five at a thrift store.  I gave them a fresh coat of paint and strung them using twine.

The food, of course, was also book-inspired.  If You Give a Mouse A Cookie - Desserts.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - candy.  Sleeping Beauty - coffee. Green Eggs and Ham - deviled eggs. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - meatballs. Streganona - pasta salad. James and the Giant Peach - fruit salad. The Very Hungry Caterpillar - veggie tray/salad.

Even the silverware got prettied up - wrapped in a brown napkin, held together with a strip of book page.

The cake was made with Wilton's Book pan (thanks mom, for buying this in 1984 and giving it to me.)  "Congratulations Sammy on the beginning of your next chapter."  Oh, in case you are wondering... if you attempt homemade red velvet cake, THIS is the very best recipe.  Please know you can use pink food coloring if you're out of red, it still tastes great.

One of the things Sammy had pinned for her baby's room was this, a variety of fabrics in embroidery hoops.  I had to beg, borrow, steal, and stalk my local thrift stores for a few weeks, but I ended up with 21 embroidery hoops for about $5.

Some of them will be returned to their original owner, and some may eventually don the walls of the little baby's room.  Baby shower decor tip:  Whenever possible, make decor for the party that can be used later in the nursery.  Two birds, one stone.

Baby shower tip number 2:  Bring a handsome, helpful, well-behaved two year old to a ladies-only shower. The grandma-to-be made that beautiful diaper cake, complete with a girly pink football on the top.

And, in keeping with the book theme, we hung pictures cut out of a book of fair tales around the room.  Kind of hard to see, but very effective in person.  The book of fairy tales was obviously under $1 from the thrift store.

So, like I said, it was an awesome shower, celebrating a wonderful couple.  I was so excited to hang out with Sammy earlier this week, and since it was now April, say, "You're baby's coming next month!"

 I am so blessed to call you "friend!"

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Orioles Opener!

Levi loves sports and music.  This post has both.  But first, a funny story.

Last week he was playing baseball in the yard and narrating everything he did (to himself).  "I hit the ball!  I run!  I throw the ball!  Eagles stink!  I hit the puck in the net!"

Funniest stream of consciousness ever.

So, baseball season is here!  Which means one awesome thing: hockey is almost over.

But really, I like baseball for three reasons:

  1. To share a common interest with my husband and son.
  2. To trash talk anyone who's not an Orioles fan.
  3. To have an excuse for a new outfit.

Today is the opening day for the orange and black team, and to celebrate, Levi sang this little song.  (You can watch the video here on youtube if it doesn't appear below).

Go Orioles!

And, just for fun, here's another song he was singing last night, "He Is Risen," for Easter.