Thursday, April 11, 2019

Living Room Updates

Greetings faithful blog readers,

Hello from my most unproductive day ever. Sometimes, all your plans for what you're going to accomplish go straight out the window, and that's my story today.

This week, we got an exciting delivery: our new living room furniture. You guys probably couldn't tell in my last home tour post because the photos were from so far away, but our living room chairs were extremely worn. How worn? Well, let's just say I basically had to convince the Habitat for Humanity worker we were trying to donate them to (they have a resale shop where 100% of the proceeds go to buying housing materials) to take them off our hands (he called his boss and she was like "Take them! Someone out there will want to reupholster them"), and thus, we now have our garage back.

So yes, the old chairs, while extremely cute, were also extremely worn. I've wanted to replace them for years. I've had them for over 10 years! And what, you ask, stood in my way faithful blog readers?


You see, Brendan had EXTREMELY HIGH standards for the replacement chairs (comfort, quality, color, price, material, size). Any suggestion I made or chair I dragged him to see he was not excited about. It's Brendan who actually sits in the chairs the most, so I had to get something he was going to be happy with.

Enter the Gigi swivel chair at Haverty's. Not only did it swivel "just the right" amount, it was the right size, we could customize the fabric, and it was super comfortable. Plus, it's the Gigi (Brendan's mom's grandparent name), so how could it not be right? While I was in Haverty's, I also looked at options for replacing the coffee table, since Willa kept nearly bumping her head on the old one. I quickly fell in love with the Beckett Storage Ottoman since we could use it as a giant toy chest and also customize it to match the chairs. 

I love our new furniture, and it's so kid friendly and comfy. We took a risk ordering one patterned chair, since it's in a fabric the cats typically scratch. So far, Lola has scratched it a little, so please comment if you have any tips for getting your cats to leave furniture alone.

The ottoman is great, and it makes sitting on the couch comfy in a whole new way. 

Plus, what parent doesn't want a giant toy chest that doesn't look like a toy chest?

So there you have it, our new and improved living room. I kind of want to change the rug and curtains now, but I'll wait until this summer and see what I think.

Hope your week is finishing up nicely (and that you are more productive than me today!)

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Willa's Birthday and Baptism

Greetings faithful blog readers,

As of today, we are parents of a one year old, and we can hardly believe it. Our first year with Willa was magical. This morning, she slept on my chest for over an hour, which was a perfect way to start the day because it reminded me of when they put her on my chest after she was born. Feeling her warm little body close to mine, existing in that not asleep but not awake state, was the perfect way to reflect this morning on how grateful I am for this little being that we desperately longed for. She is our dream come true, and we adore her.

This weekend, we were so lucky to have our family gather to celebrate Willa's first birthday and baptism. It was an incredible weekend.

We did Willa's party on Saturday. Her theme was Chica Chica Boom Boom (her favorite book), and we had so much fun decorating:

I was so proud of myself for thinking of this idea: we bought a palm tree shaped cooler on Amazon and some alphabet magnet letters. I taped them to the palm tree, and we had a cute "on theme" way to give guests fast access to all their drinks. As their party favor, we had the kiddos find the letters from their names on the tree and take them home for their fridge.

My other favorite part was Willa's cake! I had dreams of baking it myself, but wanted time to enjoy visiting with family. I ordered a cake with plain white icing and Buddy drew the amazing palm tree. Gigi thought of using peanut M&Ms as "coconuts," and I bought the alphabet letters and stuck them all on the side of the cake. It came out fantastic!

Decor and balloons from Party City transformed the dining room. Excited about potential reuse possibilities, I told my dad the theme for his 70th birthday this year is luau.

Speaking of pops, he provided us all with BBQ from Up in Smoke. We learned that BBQ for 20 can actually feed more like 40! Lesson learned! Brendan made the salad and the tomato, basil, mozzarella skewers.

The birthday girl herself had a fantastic time. Her sweet party outfit is from RuffleButts and was a gift from her Gigi. Buddy, Gigi, and Auntie Annie came all the way from Connecticut to celebrate!

I picked up a smash cake at the store, but Willa didn't care much for it! 

We were grateful to have my aunt Elaine and uncle John in from Georgetown and Elda (Willa's Godmother) in from Austin too (Lelie in this pic too!) 

Pops and Buddy:

Gigi and aunt Elaine:

We ended up with four of our friends and three kiddos between the ages of 1-4 at the party, and it worked out perfectly. The kids played so well together and seemed to have fun with Willa's toys (big surprise to me, since I'd assumed her baby toys would be boring, but I guess other kid's toys are fascinating). 

We had a fabulous day! After the party, I put Willa to bed and baked two grapefruit olive oil pound cakes (the same pound cakes I made when I was in labor with Willa) for church, and then we played cards with our families. It was such a fun evening.

We were all up early on Sunday for Willa's baptism. Willa's godmother, Elda, gave her her beautiful handmade silk dress, headband, sweater, and shoes, and a beautiful cross necklace. We are so excited to have Elda be Willa's godmother because she truly has such an inspiring faith. She really is someone that exudes Christian qualities: she is a patient, generous, loving, forgiving, and open person. I have seen how her faith has been a source of healing, comfort, and transformation, and I hope Willa and I both can learn from her. I've known Elda since I was about 8 years old, and she has known Brendan since our relationship began 8.5 years ago.

During the service, all our family members got to gather around the baptismal font. Willa did really well with the whole thing. Brendan and I both felt emotional. Everyone at St. Nick's has been so welcoming to us. It means a lot to have this whole new community and also for them to be able to meet our families.

Today was the grand finale for the first birthday. We went to Willa's school with blue bell ice cream cups for all her teachers and classmates. This was her reaction upon seeing us:

We took her to her favorite park after work, and let's just say she was a bit tired: 

I hope our sweet girl sleeps well tonight. Thank you to everyone that has reached out with love for our girl. My wish for her on this birthday is that she has love and support in abundance. I guess this will be my last post to tag with "baby;" toddler years, here we come! 


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Spring Break Part II and The Big Sick

Greetings faithful blog readers,

It's been a real treat to blog again, and I enjoyed writing up the recap on our first spring break with Willa, so I thought I'd check in to share the rest of our adventures plus let you know how our snap back to reality is going.


I took Willa to an all day play date at my friend Casey's house. She has two kids (almost 4 and 14 months), and tons of toys which Willa and I were both SO excited about (I was excited because none of those toys play the same songs our toys have burned in my brain--fellow parents, you feel me?!) For a brief moment in time, Casey and I managed to get all three kids napping, and she made me a delicious sandwich involving the Pioneer Woman's Cream Cheese and Chive Spread. Have you guys seen the movie Tully? I don't want to give anything away, but Casey and I are so alike, it could be a Tully situation! We both grew up in Austin, both got married at the Barr Mansion, both are married to writers, both live in houses by the same builder, both have summer birthdays, both love to read, have similar parenting philosophies, etc. A LOT of my friends moved away in 2018, so meeting Casey in 2017 was a total gift from the universe. If you're wondering what Brendan did with all his free time, the answer is grading: he worked all day long. I think he was very happy though to feel caught up.


We took miss Baby for her first swim. She LOVED it. She had tons of fun splashing and being spun around. Getting her out of a wet bathing suit is definitely a project we were thankful to have four hands for.

Also on Friday, my parents arrived. We went out for an early dinner, and then they stayed at the house while Willa slept and Brendan and I attended a visitation for a co-worker that passed away unexpectedly. We are extremely sad about losing Margaret; she was an excellent tutor, a confidant, a friend, and a source of wisdom, support, and great advice. The tutoring lab will never be the same, and I miss her terribly. Afterwards, we went out for a drink, toasted Margaret, shared memories, and decompressed. It was a difficult start to the weekend to say the least.


We slept in, my dad picked up tacos, Brendan and my dad ran some errands, and my mom and I did laundry and entertained miss baby. We played a board game while Willa napped, and after we put her to bed, Brendan and I went out to dinner and a movie. We saw Captive State, which we both enjoyed (reminded me a bit of Clover Field) and returned home late. Willa slept the whole time, and my parents surpassed us in The Widow by watching five episodes in a row.


We finally got beautiful weather (only the first and last day of spring break were pretty enough for outdoor walks!) We went out for an early dinner, dressed in green for St. Patrick's Day, and played Ticket to Ride after Willa went to bed. Willa helped us with some "spring cleaning" (see below).

Brendan started to feel sick with a stomach bug Sunday evening (our family seems to be cursed with Sunday evening/Monday morning sickness). Poor Brendan was running fever, the cats were going nuts, Willa was up several times, and I hardly slept.


My parents left Monday morning for a trip to Laughlin, Nevada, and I dropped Willa off at the normal time and covered Brendan's class in addition to teaching my own; I worked all evening but at least slept better than Sunday night. Tuesday did not bring any relief: both cats threw up (they seem okay now), Willa had Brendan's stomach bug and had to stay home, Brendan still wasn't feeling well enough to teach, so I went in early and covered his other class. I went to the doctor to have her look at my sinus congestion that I've been dealing with for weeks. It turns out I have a sinus infection and a double ear infection (no wonder I can hardly hear!). Now I'm on two prescriptions, an antibiotic and a steroid nasal spray. Also, my credit card was compromised for the second time in two weeks. It has been a really tough return from spring break.

Here's hoping we finish out the rest of the semester (7.5 weeks) without any of us getting sick again!
In happier news, happy birthday to my cousin, Amanda!

She's the best cinnamon roll maker, cactus garden tender, and kitten minder there is!


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Spring Break (So Far)

Greetings faithful blog readers,

It's hard to believe that we're halfway through spring break, but I guess time flies when you're having fun! Willa is in bed, and I find myself with some rare moments to blog, so I wanted to check in with an update about what we've done so far.

We had beautiful weather on Saturday: 71 and sunny. We took a trip to Target, Brendan and I brought the monitor outside and used Willa's afternoon nap to weed the front yard (we filled 2 trash bags!), Willa was entertained for hours by her new walker that a neighbor generously passed down to us (inspired by the Buy Nothing Project but lacking one in Midland, I posted on Nextdoor to see if anyone had one, and low and behold, someone right down the street did!), we took a family walk to enjoy the sunshine, read a little, wrote a little, called Gigi and Buddy, and relaxed. It was the perfect day! Sunday, the time change worked in our favor (it was like our kid actually slept in!) We went to church Sunday morning and spent the rest of the cold/foggy day at home playing, plus we both graded a little and wrote.

Monday was super productive: we got Brendan's oil changed, went grocery shopping, made crockpot lentil sloppy joes while Willa napped (you need this recipe book if you want vegetarian crockpot recipes), and took Willa to Storyland at the library (I believe it is open through April 10th). Storyland was a big hit, even for our little baby! She found plenty of small doors to open and close, which is pretty much her favorite thing right now.

Snowy Day

Mr. McGregor's Garden

If You Give A Mouse a Cookie

We ended the day with reading (I finished my book, The River King by Alice Hoffman, but I wasn't crazy about it, honestly) writing and watching The Widow on Amazon Prime (we are four episodes in and both liking it).

It was a good thing Monday was so productive because the next day, I was hit with my fourth 24 hour stomach virus in four months. I blame Storyland, despite my attentive use of hand sanitizer. Luckily, Brendan was able to take my car in for my oil change appointment, take care of Willa, ready the house for the cleaning service, AND prepare the patio for a tornado warning/high wind advisory(!) Thankfully, Willa wasn't sick at all! Parents: are these 24 hour stomach bugs, complete with low grade fever, weakness, and total lethargy, just going to become a part of my regular life now that I have a child, or have I been exceptionally unlucky as of late? Please advise. Thankfully, we survived the tornado warning with no damage, but spring break weather has not been great, and today was no exception.

Today, we spent the morning out and about while the house was being cleaned. We took miss baby to Cracker Barrel and let her eat off a plate. She did great (hardly any mess, and she can eat a ton!). Then, we went back to the library (I know, we're so brave) for baby storytime (which is really just a bunch of babies putting toys in their mouths). I washed Willa's hands and my own, so here's hoping we're okay.

One of our fun errands was shopping for decorations for Willa's Chica Chica Boom Boom themed 1st birthday party (hard for us to believe she's almost one). One thing I didn't have to buy was invitations because our friends at Paperless Post reached out to us with an offer to try their gorgeous online invitations for free. I designed Willa's invitations in about twenty minutes during her nap, and I was (to my surprise, honestly) so impressed with the website. There were tons of designs to choose from (I typed in "palm tree" and got six pages of results but found something I loved on page one, so I went with that), you could customize everything about the invitations (font size, spacing, color, background), and there are virtual "envelopes" for your guests to "open," so you even get to pick out your virtual "stamp" and your "envelope" liners. Our invites turned out super cute. And yes, for those that want a printing option (so you have a memento), it's easy to do that too (just right click to save the image and print). These invitations are super affordable, but they still look put together, and you can easily manage your RSVPs, reach out to guests, and send reminders or updates. I love snail mail stationary, but I'd absolutely use Paperless Post again.

Our other errands were not nearly as exciting (I ended up at Target again, ha), but the fact that there was a high wind advisory all day made shopping pretty crazy (think 60mph gusts, so you cannot even control your car door when you open it, tumbleweeds everywhere, and the Apple weather app advising "unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups," which I've never seen it do), but Willa got in a good car nap at least, and when we arrived home, I took care of her so Brendan could do some grading. Then, Brendan made this amazing tomato pie courtesy of the delicious sauce that our friend Max gifted us during his trip here.

Thank you, Max. It was delicious!

We still have more spring break fun on our horizon, and I'll try to check in with an update soon. For all you spring breakers out there, I hope your weather is better than ours!


Sunday, March 3, 2019


Greetings faithful blog readers,

February was a tough month for us! Despite all of us being vaccinated, Willa spent the first week of the month out of daycare with the flu (my mom came down to take care of her, so thankfully, we didn't miss too much work). The next week, I woke up sick and took off to go to the doctor. Thankfully, I had neither flu nor strep, but the doctor did prescribe Tamiflu for both Brendan and I. Brendan finished the month with his third sinus infection in three months (he has a third antibiotic prescription and a referral to an ear, nose, and throat specialist to show for it). Plus, Willa and I have had colds for the past week (I think we're finally doing better). All in all, we're not sad to be welcoming March, but here's a quick recap of the things Feb-U-Weary gave us to smile over: 

A Visit From Lelie & Pops and Baby-Proofing
My parents visited the first weekend of the month, and my Dad helped Brendan baby proof our cabinets. Lelie and Pops kept Willa Saturday night, so we could go to dinner and the movies. We saw The Favourite (wonderfully weird). Thanks to Willa's early bedtime, we were able to get her to sleep before leaving, and she slept the whole time we were gone. It felt so strange to be in a movie theater again!

A Visit From Max
Our friend from graduate school, Max, braved exposure to the flu to come see us! Thanks to my mom (who left from her visit on Sunday only to turn around and come back Tuesday since little miss was diagnosed with the flu on Monday), the three of us were able to go out to dinner at our favorite (Thai House) Friday night. We spent most of the day on Saturday and Sunday morning with Max, and it was awesome to see him. We also used Brendan's camera timer to get this pic. PS-You can check out the movie Max made, Active Adults, streaming on Amazon Prime--it's funny, thought provoking, and relatable. 

Valentine's Day
I made Sweet Phi's Bleu Cheese Mac N Cheese & 5 Ingredient Chocolate Cake, and we watched Won't You Be My Neighbor? (Mister Rogers Documentary). Little miss celebrated with her very first ice cream at her school's sundae party. It was our most heartwarming Valentine's Day ever.

Willa's First Swing 
On a sunny weekend day, we took Willa to the park for her first go on the swings. She loved it. All the other equipment was too big for her, but our trip got me excited for what is to come. 

Baby's Developments 
Speaking of our girl, this was a big month for her. She is now pulling up to stand and eating everything (she eats off the breakfast, lunch, and snack menu at school and has tried so many new foods). We think ravioli is a favorite:

Self-Care Package: 
We took advantage of the spring sale at Zingerman's and ordered a variety of fancy cheeses, salamis, bread, and chocolate. It was less than $100, and we ate a spread like this for dinner the past three nights and still have tons left. Highly recommend!

Stacy + Casey <3 Pho 
My friend Casey and I were both sick this past week, but decided to brave a dinner outing to I <3 Pho anyway. We went through so many tissues, but the pho was the perfect cold remedy; as always, we stayed out way too late, but we had a great time just chatting.

Pre-Pregnancy Jeans & Bye Bye Pumping 
I pulled out all my pre-pregnancy jeans at the start of the month (I feel like myself again!) and said sayonara to pumping at the end of the month. I haven't put the pump away away just in case I end up needing it, but I'm very happy to be done with daily pumping. I'm still nursing and continuing to nurse on my lunch breaks. Once Willa is year, we can start the process of weaning, but first, I have to find a sippy cup she'll take (we've tried Phillips-Avent, ThinkBaby, and Parent's Choice without much luck). Any suggestions?

Met No Goals 
I didn't finish the draft I was working on or the book I was reading, and I only made it to work out at the YMCA five times. I survived the month though, and let me tell you, it felt like an uphill battle almost the whole way, so I'm just glad I can say: I made it.

In March, we're looking forward to warmer temperatures (today and tomorrow, the high is 39, but by Thursday it should be 78 again, thank goodness!), spring break, and celebrating (a little early) Willa's first birthday with our families <3

Hope February treated you well!

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