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Friday, May 30, 2014

the renovation : from a kitchen to a family room (in progress!)

As with all other rooms in our home, the "future family room" (as Cormac refers to it, in his adorable lisping toddler voice) is not finished...nor really anywhere close to being fully-functional as a 'casual gathering spot/media room/play space.'
(aka we have no TV in there...and no place to set anything.)

But...there is progress!  
(*one arm raised in the air victoriously*)

This has become one of my favorite rooms.
Why?  The light.
I love (crave, need) natural light, and after a lot of drama involving contractors and the local historic association, we were finally able to install French doors with a transom above in the back of our home, letting in an incredible amount of natural light.
  
Another change we made is that we installed new wide-plank hardwood floors (there was nothing salvageable underneath the checkerboard tiles.)  We did the same reddish stain and varying widths that we did upstairs.

Oh, and painted.  A grayish-white called Montpelier Madison White (Valspar)

This was the room when we moved in, back when the home was two units.  I definitely always envisioned it more as an entertaining space, not the kitchen that it was at the time.

BEFORE:
And...AFTER: 

BEFORE:
AFTER: 
just ignore the backyard...that is the next big project
Yes, the room is pretty bare but I love the start we have and am excited to get the other half of the room painted and continue adding things that will make it feel more "home-y" -- if that is a word.
For those who are die-hard Ikea fans like me, yes that oversized New York City photo print featuring the Flatiron Building is the one you've seen as you stroll through the store.  It is gigantic!  You can't beat the price ($129) for wall art of that scale, despite it being a bit floppy (it comes in a roll, of course, that you have to assemble onto some plastic rods.)  Both Hubby and I always admired it on our Ikea trips, but never had a place to put it.  We both have taken numerous trips to NYC and, like most, are in love with the city, and the Flatiron just happens to be my favorite building (I have other prints of it in our home.)

I even have a fun "Flatiron" story.  I was visiting a friend in NYC when I was in my early twenties, and I was kind of obsessed with making sure I saw the Flatiron Building.   Well, we never saw it and never saw it.  Then one night we end up on the subway at 1am. Not exactly the best time to be on the subway.   There were some creepy guys in our part of the train yelling things about various body parts.  I grabbed my friend's arm tightly, and basically told him we had to get off the train that instant.  Clearly I had no faith that he could save us from any predators. (Sorry Sam!) So he immediately obliged and we got off at the very next stop...which just so happened to be right smack in front of the Flatiron Building.  When I got to the top of the steps exiting the subway and gazed up at it I knew God had put us on the right train after all.

It was serendipitous. 

Anyway...

...that is the progress on the family room.  I plan to post soon on the dining room, but we are waiting on a light fixture.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

//a garden party//

So we celebrated Finola on Saturday.
Sweet little Fin.
A garden party.
Ironically, it rained and was pretty cool outside,
so we spent zero time in our "garden" space in back.
Our first party in the 'dream home.' 
We've had people over before, but usually a few at a time and for dinner.
We really didn't have finished space for a larger gathering.
But now, despite every room having at least one half-finished project going on, 
the entire house is open and able to filled up with people we love.
I had a really fun time daydreaming and crafting for this gathering.
So many options in the springtime for garden decor!
I made a bunch of crepe flowers, 
most of which I used on a statement wall
under an easy banner I made out burlap, permanent marker, and stencils.
(all stuff I already had - score!)
The crepe for the flowers only cost 7 bucks.
The rest of the decor I either got on clearance or in the dollar bins at Target/Michaels...
or I already owned it.
I made the cake and cupcakes...
just please ignore the fact that the cake is lopsided.
(I am not a super baker.)

Anyway, finally party day arrived and we had a really nice time.
It was awesome to finally have a get together with plenty of kiddos running around!
We have made it to the point where most of our friends have kids.
Kind of a cool stage in life, I have to admit.
Different, but good!

So here just a few photos from the party...
ignore the slanted cake and just focus on the cupcakes!


I wanted to set this in my front flower bed amidst the roses...but it was raining on and off all day.
in her flowery frock, ready to party
my fave part.  I would cover my house in these if I could.

some of the food.  main dishes were a mac n cheese bar with a bunch of add-ins, and bbq pulled pork sliders
another food shot
two of my friends with babes that live in my neighborhood 
my friend alicia and sis-in-law molly
my godson carter
meagan and I and the girl babies!
so many babies!  
about to sing happy birthday
she was not happy having her hands restrained while the candle was being lit - she wanted that cake!!!!
digging right in
soon everyone got bored watching her lick the icing off the cake and I snapped a few shots of her calmly enjoying the messy eating process.

her legs just kill me.  oh, and she is wearing white ruffly bloomers that were mine as a baby. vintage!

Then it was over.
As quickly as it started.
A whirlwind of friends, family, kiddos and babies.
So lovely to have a houseful of loved ones and laughter and children playing.
Perhaps (most likely) our last 'first birthday' party.
If I dwell on that too much I might cry.
Just like I almost cried throwing away her last empty tub of formula.
And when I thought about packing away her bottles.

Finola, just stay a baby!  My heart can't take all the 'lasts' in my future!
Just like your brother, you went, seemingly in a moment, from a tiny newborn in my arms...
...to a snuggly blondie who loves to laugh.
What a beautiful first year...
and a great little party to celebrate it.

Thank you to our friends and family that came to celebrate Finola.  My love language is 'quality time'...which doesn't mean I need to see friends and family a lot, per se, but simply that do our best to show up for the important stuff and when we do see each other we have meaningful time together.  I know it is hard at a crazy 1st birthday to have a lot of deep conversation, but just showing up meant a lot to me...so THANK YOU!  We are blessed to have you in our lives. 

Happy birthday, Finola Wilder!  
(One year post to follow...)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

what happened in vegas...

Well, here it is - the Vegas roomie trip recap.
aka Mamas Gone Wild*.

(Just kidding!  Hereafter in this post the term 'wild' is referring to a wildness relative to a group of parents of babies and toddlers who are now pretty responsible Christian adults.  Which is not to say 'tame' but rather a muted thirty-something 'wildness' that basically involves drinking and not being used to such drinking combined with being overly tired from not getting full nights of sleep for the past two years due to babies and being in a subsequent haze for several days.)

Anyway, I told you about my cool former roommates in this post
and our Vegas trip came and went and it was so, so fun.

I know that 'what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas' 
but I thought a trip recap might be fun - 
from my perspective.

This was my first time in Vegas with friends 'for fun.' 
It is definitely easy, a la The Hangover, to lose track of an entire day/night.
If you are traveling from the eastern US the time change is pretty rough.

In the spirit of our former college craziness, being in Vegas, and just being kinda psyched to be free of all parental responsibilities for several days, the first day was rather wild*.
Since only one couple actually had a room when we arrived (Beth and her husband arrived the night before) we congregated in their room to 'party.'

Beth is a graphic designer so first thing she hands us all is one of these travel mugs to commemorate our 'Roommate Reunion' weekend.
Rather than coffee they were filled with tiny alcohol bottles, 
reminiscent of former flight attendant Kristina's 'treats' she would 'borrow' and bring home to share with us.

Very crafty, Beth!
You can't go wrong with a craft filled with alcohol, I say!

Anyway, we had fun with the shots and mixing a few other drinks, 
while the guys got to know each other and the girls did some catching up.

Then it was pool time so we got on our bikinis
(yes, this is worth mention since we all worked very hard on our post-partum bodies, probably in part for this trip!  Half marathons for all three ladies!)

Sorry, no bikini pics.
Not sure why but I think we were afraid to bring any expensive devices like cameras and phones and such to the pool.   

After several hours lounging in the lazy river, drinking beers, and just hanging out we headed back in the hotel to check things out check in to our rooms and get all gussied up for our first night out in Vegas.  We had no big plans for the first night.  We bought our show tickets, ate some pizza to try to absorb some of the alcohol we had been drinking, and then got dressed up and drank some delicious wine from a box back at Beth's room (the mecca for pre-drinking.)  

Here we are in our dresses and paper cups of wine...
In case you were wondering, our husbands were with us this entire night...they just hardly made it into any photographs.  Sorry guys!  Next trip we need to take a million group photos.

But here they are that night, at the craps table.
They didn't win any money - I don't think.
At least mine didn't.
This photo had to be included.  My husband miiiiight be the best dancer ever.  Don't be jealous.
After eating some Mexican food at this restaurant/bar/club which conveniently was in our hotel
and then briefly showing off our amazing dance skills when no one else would come out on the dance floor, the group disbanded.  

(Points to Beth's husband for staying out the latest.)

The next morning after our wild* first day in Vegas.  For some reason I went to bed around midnight and still woke up at 3:30am (the time my inner clock in set to - 6:30am EST)  So I took a sleep aid and thankfully got a couple more hours of sleep.  Then I got a text at 7am from a very chipper Kristina asking if I wanted to walk down the strip to the Stratosphere!  (ie a long way away) Why, um, huh?  SURE!  Knowing we had limited time together I dragged my tired butt out of bed and met them at the coffee shop downstairs.  They both looked radiant and I looked a hot mess, but we managed to have an enjoyable walk with Kristina's hubby Mike down the strip.  

Mike was awesome to take some pics of us -  but again, being a guy, he didn't make it in any.  

Us and a giant lizard.  Beth is really into lizards.

I made them pose with these odd versions of Elmo and Cookie Monster with me.
(Hey, I posed with the lizard so I don't feel too bad!)
We ran out of time/energy and never made it to the Stratosphere.
Next we met the other two husbands at Cosmopolitan and ate at a buffet called The Wicked Spoon.
There was a pretty amazing selection of food, okay quality, and terrible coffee.
I still contend the best hangover food is a giant Chipotle burrito.

Then it was nap time, clearly.

After a nap and a clothing change (and makeup!) so I could feel somewhat like a human again
we headed down to watch the Kentucky Derby!  
The guys had bet some money so we got a few "free" drinks out of the deal.
We watched the short race, cheered, sighed when all our guys lost, 
then got to hear the cheers as some other guy won $11,000.
Next we went to ride the roller coaster at New York, New York.
So fun!  I closed my eyes for most of it because I thought for some reason we were on top of a giant building.  Then I opened them and realized that nope, we were not.
Phew.  Enjoyed the rest of the ride without fearing for my life.

(Yes, I go on roller coasters even though I am scared of them.)
post-coaster ride at new york, new york
Then it was time for our "big night out."
We had planned for forever to all wear sequined dresses, go to a show and a fancy dinner.
Check, check, and check.
We donned our fabulous sequined frocks and were ready for a wild* night.
We found a fun lighted backdrop to show off our 'sparkle.'

Then it was showtime!   We wanted to see a Cirque show and settled on Zumanity.  It was pretty racy, but to be honest I was a little buzzed and remember nothing specific...except a 'little person' who kept flying above the crowd and was pretty amazing, and the woman in front of Beth and I getting mad at us for talking and laughing too much. 

After the show we were pretty hungry, so we tried to find a nice restaurant.  For some reason most places were already closed (???) I guess the show ran later than we expected.  However, we found a place (again, in our hotel) that just barely kept the kitchen open for us.  It was pretty swanky - very cool vibe. We ordered wine, drank water to attempt to rehydrate, ate a ton of bread, had our dinners, and then got the bill.  Eep!  $40 for the water.  That is all I will say.

That was enough to make the guys call it a night.  (or at least mine did.)

However, we ladies were still ready to party!

We had been talking about going to an ice bar for months, and conveniently there was one (of course) in our hotel.  So we paid our cash to enter, were each given a huge coat, faux Ugg boots and mittens, and went back to a room with ice walls, seating, bar, glasses - you name it.  It was cool, er, awesome!  We drank yummy iced coffee drinks (with alcohol, yes) and then the photographer came over to us and had us pose, some with our giant coats, and then some without, in our lovely sequined dresses.

Oh, and with a random girl from a different group.  No idea why she wanted to be in our pics.  We referred to her as 'the fourth roommate' and "Agnes' stand-in" (We briefly did have a fourth roomie named Agnes.)


Clearly we had a good time!  We left the ice bar and went off to see what other kinds of "trouble" we could get into.  Wandered through the casino getting some interesting looks - I think we were quite a sight with all those sequins!  Photo-bombed some other people's photos.  Had some wine at one of the bars there and met some European guys who were like 21 and made me feel I was at least fifty.  Kristina played some video poker (I think the only one of us girls who gambled at all) and won ten bucks.  Then we really wanted to go back to this bar we saw earlier with all these amazing crystals hanging everywhere - like the entire room was a chandelier.  
So we walked down the strip, had some laughs, feet started hurting,
never found that bar, headed back, paid ten bucks to get into the same dance club/bar we went to the first night, stayed a grand total of ten minutes, realized we were too tired/old to be out dancing at a club that late (it had to be nearly 2am by that point - 5am EST - eek!) 

So we abandoned the 'clubbin' idea and hobbled over to NY, NY again and ate pizza.
I was so hungry I finished my pizza before I even paid for it.
Sad, I know.
We took off our high heels sat a bit, then walked back to our rooms and called it a night.  
Well, it was morning by then, but you know what I mean.

Early the next morning Kristina and Mike flew out,
the official end of our reunion weekend.
Beth and Ben and Paul and I walked around 10am to have brunch at a little place off the strip, which had great food.  Plus, the walk felt good. (Not in heels.)

Back at the hotel we took one last dip in the pool, and then it was farewell to Ben and Beth.

Left to our own devices Hubby and I spent the Sunday doing what we would typically do on a vacation:
loooong nap in the hotel, went to see a movie (yes, we love going to movies),  took a leisurely walk down to see the Bellagio fountains,  grabbed some food and headed back to our room where we laid in bed, watched a silly movie, and probably fell asleep at 7pm.

It was awesome.  No really - finally got some rest after all that partying.*
love this guy - my most compatible travel partner (we are lazy!)
So that was our trip!
It was crazy and a lot of fun - will remember it (sort of) always!


I would say that babies have done us nothing but good!  :)  But seriously, these girls have worked super hard post-pregnancy and look really, really amazing.  This photo does no justice to how tiny they both are and how good they look in bikinis!
Plus, I think we are all happier, calmer, more motivated women as mothers.  

Cheers to growing up!   Cheers to Vegas!

And here's hoping we don't wait four more years for another Roommate Reunion,

Love you ladies!
my fave pic of the trip 

Monday, May 12, 2014

mama confessions : what makes the battle(s) worth the fighting?

My son loves the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
So do I.
Even more so now that I have two little blond-haired kiddos.
My own little Jeremy and Jemima.
Anyway, since I introduced Cormac to this classic musical about a year ago, just after I had Finola,  I completely fell in love with one of the songs in particular.  
"You Two"
I now sing it regularly to both of them.
They adore that.
They don't yet their mom breaking into song and serenading them is weird.
I will relish that as long as I can.

If you need reminding how great this song is watch the clip below.
Just picture me as Dick van Dyke
(but with shorter legs and far less musical ability.)

* * * * * * 
Anyway, yesterday was Mother's Day, and nothing went exactly as planned.
There were various meltdowns.  Several frazzling moments.  Plans that got abandoned.
I mean, let's be honest...
motherhood can be hard at times.
There are battles - particularly with a strong-willed, spirited toddler.
Some days end and you feel like you've lost them all.
Then there are the times you feel victorious.
Whatever the outcome of the day, or the battle, 
the day starts over and you are still a mother.

So, "what makes the battle worth the fighting?"
As a mother, you know.
The aching love you feel for those babies.
The joys you get to experience, 
again and again,
through the simplest things.
The knowledge that they are solely dependent on you
(at least when they are tiny.)
The hope they represent.

Despite a few little battles yesterday, 
it ended up a beautiful, simple, memorable day.
Nothing fancy.
Sweet cards, church,  Jimmy John's, family photo (that I didn't have to orchestrate) some alone time, 
and then a carnival down the street.

Here are some pics from our late afternoon excursion: 
getting cormac to cooperate for a 'mother's day photo' was one of the day's tiny battles

eventually he warmed to the idea
kisses for sister
we walked to a local carnival - just like last year (except this time I was not pregnant!)
first ferris wheel ride - he loved it!



finola got tired but was a trooper



I hope all the mamas out there had a beautiful day.
Keep fighting those battles.  
Totally worth it.