Christmas 2016

I know we’ve already said goodbye to 2016, but I can’t resist sharing a few (okay, a bunch) of photos from our Christmas festivities.

The season felt a little bit rushed this year because of the move. We pretty much had to leave all of our our decorating, seasonal outings and Santa prep activities until the week before the holiday. Nevertheless, the girls seemed to have a blast. In addition to it being Alice’s first Christmas, this was the first year that B really understood what was happening. She sung along to every Christmas song on the radio (her favorites were You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer), couldn’t wait to bust out the decorations and bought into all of the Santa Claus lore. The latter is the most adorable to me, and I’m already dreading the day when she starts to question things.

So, without further adieu, here’s a glimpse into our holiday season!

While we were preparing for the move, we had a tiny tree up at our old house. But, B could not wait to put up the real thing. So, as soon as the boxes were sufficiently cleared from the living room, we got to work.

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Showing off Elmo, one of “her” ornaments

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Just up from a nap, in time to supervise the decorating process.

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Finished! We have the tree on a timer, so that it turns on every day at 4 p.m. B thinks that “Santa Magic” is responsible.

The holiday season in Philly isn’t complete without a visit to Macy’s, to see the light show and visit the Dickens’ Village. Alice actually seemed to enjoy all the lights, and clapped along with the music.

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Chester and I have resigned ourselves to the fact that we’ll always have to be in the annual Santa photo. B actually waved to Santa when she walked into the room, so I had high expectations that things would go well. But, when it was time to pose for the picture, she wasn’t having it. Alice just seemed stunned, which fortunately, prevented her from having a meltdown. And yes, she isn’t wearing any socks in this photo. After the 100th time she pulled them off that day, I didn’t bother to put them back on.

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We broke in our kitchen with our first baking project: sugar cookies for Santa. B was in charge of rolling them into the red and green sugar, and she proclaimed each one of them “a Christmas miracle!” in between eating bites of dough. The real miracle, if you ask me, was having ample counter space for this project!

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On Christmas Eve, we headed to my mom’s for the afternoon. We ate way too much food, and B had a great time hanging out with her Uncle Mike.

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And, then it was home to get ready for Santa. This year, in addition to the cookies and milk, we left an apple for the reindeer.

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Everyone was up bright and early the next morning (wearing matching Nutcracker pajamas) to see what Santa left!

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B’s favorite gift was her Code-A-Pillar and Alice really is enjoying her Beatbelle

Our girls looked like Christmas princesses, for more food and presents on Christmas afternoon at Nee-Nee’s.

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I loved this dress so much when B wore it. So glad that it fit Alice this year!

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B was in no mood to pose for pictures. She requested ” a lot of Christmas M and Ms” in return for posing for this shot, but she really wasn’t feeling like her usual self that afternoon. By the end of the day, she was running a fever, which later gave way to a cold that made its way through our house over the next week. Fun times. But, holiday illnesses seem to be par for the course, where kids are concerned, so I suppose we should get used to that fact!

I’m already looking forward to next year, when we’ll be fully settled into our home and ready to make some new holiday traditions. I hope that your holidays were just as swell!

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We Moved!

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Our 2016 Christmas Card

We {barely} survived the Great Move of 2016.

(I should get that put onto a t-shirt.)

In our typical fashion, we were still finishing up our packing when the movers pulled up to the house last Saturday…in a smaller than promised truck. As a result, it took 17 hours and two trips to get all of our belongings from point A to point B. As daylight dwindled, the girls and I de-camped to a hotel, since it became clear that bedroom set-up would have to be left until the next day.

It was probably better that we left Chester on his own to oversee the rest of the move. The glacial pace with which the boxes were being loaded and unloaded made me very anxious. And, to top it off, both girls were battling colds. Fortunately, hotel life seemed to agree with them. I think B was disappointed to find that the new house didn’t offer room service delivery of chocolate ice cream and Alice wasn’t pleased to return to her crib after a night of snuggles in a king-sized bed.

One week later, our house is still covered in boxes, none of our furniture seems right for the space and the only pants that I can seem to find are of the yoga variety. We’ve been discovering that the house comes with some quirks that we didn’t notice when we first looked at it (such as the fact that Alice’s room has zero electrical outlets, while the living room has an outlet every three feet or so). During the past week, I’ve spent most of my free time and money either at Target (well, that’s really no different from life pre-move) or fighting with Lowe’s about appliance deliveries that arrive way behind schedule (or, that don’t come at all).

It’s all disconcerting in some ways, but so good in others.

Everyone has more space. Both the girls seem to be sleeping better now that they aren’t sharing a room, and I’m not missing the noise that comes with living in a row home.

There is a place for our stuff. Closets! Lots of kitchen cabinets! And, a room on the third floor where we can stash all of the toys!

Tracy is getting a workout with walks around the neighborhood. It was lovely to take her out in the quiet, early morning hours yesterday and find that we were the first ones to leave our footprints in the snow.

Our neighbors are nice. Today, Chester came handling a gift bag gingerly, as if it were about to explode. We opened it up to find a freshly baked banana bread and welcome/Christmas card from the couple next door. Phew.

So, for the next couple of weeks, we’ll be adjusting to our new routines and finding places for all of our things, but I am grateful to be able to do it without the pressure of the deadlines that we have been up against for the last two months. I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot of our holiday traditions while everything has been in flux, so with one week to go until Christmas, we’ll try to take breaks from the heavy lifting in order to focus on making memories with our girlies (we finally got our tree up and decorated this weekend, much to B’s delight).

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I think we are going to like it here.

This Old House

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September 2009

Who are those young, well-rested looking people in that photo up there? Oh, yea. That’s me and Chester, on the day that we got the keys to our first home.

On that September afternoon in 2009, we raced from the broker’s office, unlocked the door to our house, and sat in the middle of our empty living room, laying out all of our grand plans for the house (that mirror taking up the entire living room wall and the ugly industrial carpeting would be the first things to go). We mentally picked out furniture and paint colors. We made a long list of possible home improvement projects. We talked excitedly about having more space to entertain family and friends at the holidays.

For the next three years, we actually did some of those things. And, then, life happened.

The improvement projects that seemed feasible when it was just the two of us brought on migraines we thought about managing them with an infant and a dog. We realized that having one bathroom is fine and dandy, until you have to haul a potty training toddler upstairs multiple times a day, while seven months pregnant, (and later, you have to haul said toddler and one cranky newborn). And, it’s really difficult to have anyone come over to the house when it looks like Toys R’ Us after the Black Friday rush.

All that to say, our life today looks nothing like it did in 2009, and we had come to the realization that our current house couldn’t be our forever home. We had more than outgrown the space and there was the issue of school for the girls to consider. We sketched out a timeline for making a move, closer to the time that B would be ready for real school. But, in the late summer/early fall, we watched a few houses on our block sell in a matter of weeks and worried about missing out on a hot market. So, we got our house ready (putting things in storage and making minor improvements), just to see what would happen. If we didn’t move, we reasoned, at least we would be ready to try again in the spring.

Within three weeks of the “for sale” sign going up, our house was under contract and we had found a new home.

And, it was really that simple.

And, not stressful.

Like, at all.

HA!

Real talk: It’s been nuts.

Relocating two kids and a dog for house showings is no picnic.

Compiling the reams of paper needed for a mortgage application is a full-time job.

Trying not to fall in love with the house that is just perfect for your little family, when you don’t know if your current house will sell in time for you to actually purchase it, is tough.

Coordinating the final details of inspections, repairs and settlements on two houses—and waiting for all of the pieces to actually fall into place—is maddening.

And, the packing–oh the hell of packing. Last time we did this, it was just the two of us coming from a one bedroom apartment. It’s amazing (and mystifying) how you can accumulate so much stuff as the years go by (Just a warning to anyone in need of bubble wrap in and around South Philly: there is none left. I bought it all).

We are grateful to family members who pitched in to watch kids and dogs, deliver more boxes and haul trash away. Because, here we are, two months later and we’ve signed all the documents we possibly can sign and packed up the contents of our life so far. Tomorrow, the boxes will be loaded into a truck, we will lock the front door for the last time, and drive off to start a new chapter.

(In the suburbs. Gasp!).

I recently found that list of improvement projects written our first day, on top of the refrigerator. I laughed when I saw how many of the items hadn’t been crossed off. At the time we wrote it, it seemed like those would be the most important things to do, in order to turn the house into our home.

We had no clue what was in store for us.

People keep asking me if I will miss this house. I won’t really–pretty much for all the reasons named above and probably a handful more that I’m not thinking of right now. Plus, I’ve filed away countless memories that I’ll be taking with me, and will always look back on fondly, when I think of this place, where we navigated the early years of marriage and parenthood. Things like:

Sitting on the living room floor with (Big) Bridget and Chester, stuffing and sealing our wedding invitations.

Returning from our honeymoon, excited to sort through our gifts and settle into married life.

Later, returning after all the other trips that we took, simply glad to be in our own home, with all the central air we could handle (we stayed in some questionable hotels).

Cramming 12 people around the table for Christmas dinner, and made a rack of lamb—and all the side dishes—in a kitchen with no counter space.

Fighting over stupid things, stopped speaking for days and eventually forgot why we were angry with each other.

Laying on the couch on Sunday mornings, while pregnant with B, waiting for her to kick me so that I knew she was still okay in there (I don’t know why, but I was always worried about her the most on that day of the week).

Laying B in a bassinet next to our bed on her first night home, and then proceeded to try to sleep with all the lights on, just so I could see if she was still breathing.

Watching in disbelief the next day, as Tracy’s anxiety over the new baby got the better of her, and she jumped through the plexi-glass window in the kitchen door, and straight into the backyard.

Capturing how much B grew each month for the first two year of her life, with a photo shoot in the nursery that we put together just for her.

Sitting in the bathroom on Father’s Day 2015, pregnancy test in hand and freaked out.

Laying Alice in the Rock-In-Play next our bed on her first night home and changing diaper after diaper because she just would not. stop. pooping.

Feeling my happiest at the end of the day, snuggled next to B in her big girl bed, singing “You Are My Sunshine” while hummed along and Alice peered at us over the side of her crib.

I could go on.

But the point is this: in the end it didn’t matter how we decorated it or if we turned the flat roof off of our bedroom into a deck (seriously? When did we think we were going to get around to doing that?). Slowly, we started filling it with memories and people and realized that projects, things and the four walls themselves don’t matter much at all, really.

The first time I scrolled through the photos of our new house online–before we even looked at it in person–I knew that it was the perfect place for us. I’m excited to write the next chapter of our lives there.

And, it’s a good thing I feel that way, because, so help me God, we are NEVER moving again.

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December 2016

Little B’s Travel Themed Nursery

Chester and I put the finishing touches on Little B’s nursery just one week prior to her arrival. We stuck with our original vision for travel-themed room with a girly, vintage feel, and incorporated a few special items and DIY touches. We are pretty thrilled with how everything came together!

Let’s go on a little tour, shall we?

The first order of business was repainting the boring, putty colored walls of our former guest room. We amassed quite the collection of paint chips from Lowes before settling on Valspar’s “Hello Dolly.” This cotton candy pink shade is the perfect complement for the white furniture and soft pastel colors that comprise the rest of the room’s color scheme.

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When we started looking for decor ideas for the nursery, the whimsical illustrations from Loxly Hollow were among our first finds. We created a gallery wall along the left side of the room using six of them and a map letter that I made.

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I’m hoping that Little B will take after me and will love to read, so I like that this part of room is almost like a little reading nook. I chose a bookshelf that is just the right height for a small child, so that she’ll be able to reach for her books on her own in the not-to-distant future. Chester spent most of the summer refinishing and repainting a rocking chair that my grandfather gave us and it fits perfectly in the corner. Nursery_4

There is a shortage of closet space in our house, so we chose a dresser with plenty of drawers to store all of her little clothes. I jazzed up the plain, white wooden drawer pulls that came with it with postmark stickers from Cavallini & Co. and a bit of Mod Podge.

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The city plaques to the side of the dresser were also a DIY project. Chester spray painted wooden plaques from AC Moore and I covered them with scrapbook paper and cut-outs from the Rifle Paper Company’s 2014 “Around the World” calendar.

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The hot-air balloon mobile is one of my favorite items in the room. It was a bit of a splurge, but since it’s a little bit more sophisticated than a traditional crib mobile, I figured that we could use it as room decor for at least the next few years. I also love the little Paris chair that Chester found at Home Goods. I think it will be the perfect spot to take her monthly photos.

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Working on the nursery was one of the most enjoyable parts of preparing for Little B’s arrival. For the first few months, she’ll be sleeping in our room, but we can’t wait for her to start spending more time in the space that we decorated just for her. Hopefully, it will inspire her to see the world!

If you feel so inclined, you can wander over to Project Nursery, where I’ve posted some additional images and information about Little B’s nursery.

Project Details

Paint: Valspar’s “Hello Dolly,” purchased at Lowes

Crib: Delta S Series Convertible Crib, Target

Dresser: Delta 6 Drawer Children’s Dresser, Sears; Drawer pulls: Semi-DIY using knobs that came with dresser and Cavallini & Co. Ephemra Stickers, purchased from Paper Source

Bookcase: Sauder Pogo Bookcase, Wayfair

Rug: Cotton Dhurrie Border Mat, Pottery Barn Kids

Crib skirt, sheets, quilt, changing pad cover, Bird Bath lamp, Bon Voyage suitcase set, bird finals, Chantilly wall shelves: Land of Nod

(Note: The linens are from the “With a Flourish” Collection. It looks like the pink is no longer available, but there is a lovely shade of green.)

Curtains: Simply Shabby Chic, Target

(Note: These are a sheer cotton, so I also purchased blackout curtains from Target to go with them.)

Illustrations: Loxly Hollow, via Etsy; Frames: Sondrum, Ikea

Map letter: DIY, using craft paper letter from Land of Nod and Cavallini & Co. world map wrapping paper purchased from Pomp and Posey, via Etsy

City plaques: DIY, using wooden plaques and scrapbook paper from AC Moore and the Rifle Paper Company 2014 “Around the World” calendar, purchased at Paper Source

“Little By Little, One Travels Far” Print: Made by a friend

Mobile: Flying the Skies Mobile, Hanging Mobile Gallery

(Note: Primary color palette is also available).

Rocking chair: Gift from a family member; refinished and repainted by Chester

Rocking chair pad: Heavenly Soft Rocking Chair Cushion, aBaby

Paris chair: Home Goods

 

Nursery Inspiration

Way before I got pregnant, I started collecting ideas for a travel-themed nursery. Since Chester and I hope to pass on our love of seeing the world to our future children, I thought it would be a good to introduce the idea early on.

In theory, decorating the nursery should be one of the more simple, fun parts of pregnancy. After all, people used to clear out dresser drawers and use them as cribs, so it stands to reason that as long as the baby has a comfortable place to sleep, it isn’t going to care what color the walls are or what the shelving looks like.

Now, let me tell you the reality of nursery planning.

It’s kind of stressful.

There are so many options for baby furniture, bedding and accessories and somehow all of the people on Pinterest have managed to put them all together to create rooms that look like they came out of a magazine. And, since I don’t really think I have a knack for interior design, I’m totally overwhelmed by it all.

Fortunately, it has been a bit easier to sift through everything now that I know I’ll be decorating a space for a little girl. Travel is still the overall theme for the room, but I’m leaning towards more of a vintage look and feel, as opposed to the more modern colors and patterns that I was focused on before I knew ET’s gender.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t go back and forth every five minutes about everything from paint, to furniture to curtains, but there are a few things that I’m definitely loving for the nursery…at the moment:

Mosaic Paisley Crib Bedding (From Land of Nod)

I’m thinking this set below would go well with the pink/yellow/white color scheme I’m currently leaning towards.

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Illustrations by Loxly Hollow (via Etsy)

I love the old-fashioned feel of this artist’s illustrations, and, luckily, she’s got plenty of options that fit in with a travel theme.

Paris printMap Letters

Urban Outfitters was selling these awhile back, but this would be a fairly easy DIY. Thinking about doing one in for the baby’s first initial.

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Hot Air Balloons (from Hanging Mobile Gallery)

Could be a cute option for above the crib.

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Vintage Suitcases (via Amazon)

These could double both as decor and storage for toys, books or other small items.

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We’ll really be digging into this project after we get back from vacation in early June, and I’m excited to see how everything comes together.