Sunday, September 25, 2011

time to show off.

Last weekend my best friend, Danielle, came for a short, wonderful visit. On Saturday we went to a vintage bazaar that, thankfully, was only minutes away. This bazaar is supposed to be one of the biggest in Chicago all year, and it was wonderful. There were over 70 vendors, which is amazing because I only really know of a few vintage stores in the city... although I'm sure there are more.

The weekend before I had gotten a strong hankerin' for perusing through a vintage shop and scoring some great finds. I went to the store closest to our apartment and it was my first time there. Although reviewed highly online, it was a big disappointment. I found a few little decor items that I would have liked to take home, but they were all over-priced, so I went home empty handed. Mr. Allen and I, when shopping for a dining room table a few months ago, headed to the Pilsen neighborhood (a little bit on the south side of the city and where I student taught/where we used to go to church) which is said to be the area for the best vintage markets. The store that Chicagoans love the most is called Knee Deep Vintage, although those Chicagoans are much mistaken when they claim that Pilsen Vintage (a shop literally across the street) carries the leftovers of the first store. We found our table at Pilsen Vintage at a great price and there was so much more I could have taken with me but didn't. Moral of this paragraph: don't believe the reviews - when vintage-ing in Chicago, go to Pilsen (definitely) and try out all the stores they have to offer.

Anyway, back to last weekend's bazaar... we had so much luck at the flea market. I went with only $20 (a wise choice because so much more could have been spent.) Here were my wonderful finds that I came home with proudly:

[two sheets of 2-pack buttons, $1 each. I plan to use these for a sweater project. And if that doesn't work out, because it seems to be leaning on the edge of failure, I will use the pink for a baby-girl project/gift and the black ones will wait for another home.]

[vintage cookbook, $3. If I didn't just adore the cover of this book, what's on the inside is the kicker. The old woman (judging by the little, cursive handwriting) who once owned this book has re-written and edited so many of the recipes. It adds so much more value, you know? Also, Mr. Allen says it's like the Harry Potter's ownership of his Potions book, edited by the Half-Blood Prince.]

[wooden press stamps, $1 each. As soon as I saw these little guys I was inspired for a project. Can you guess what I would make?]

Here it is! I'm so excited to show it off: some artwork for the nursery. Danielle had suggested to start making them in mass and to maybe open an Etsy shop for a place to sell them. I'm not sure about the Etsy shop at this point, although I may try it out in a few months. But I know that I will be testing out some more designs with the blocks, and I'm sure I'll be giving a few away as presents for some little ones to come.

In other creative news, this weekend we celebrated my nephew's birthday. Mr. Allen and I went to my sister and brother-in-law's overnight Friday to get to spend some extra time with their family. Last week I had posted a facebook status requesting a pin cushion. I was tired of constantly spilling my pins or poking myself because I had to grab them out of the dish. I was ready for them to be at-the-ready for me. My sister, Ashley, responded with a link to this tutorial, which we used and yesterday created this wonderful pincushion together.

Oh, I'm in love. My sister-in-law, Kelsey, had picked up a fabric scrap-pack for me (just because she's sweet) a few months ago, so I had these fabrics lying around waiting for a purpose. This was the perfect opportunity. I love my little pincushion/caddy for all those tools I need right there at a moment's notice. If I convinced you enough to venture out and try it yourself, please let me know and we could try a link-up to show off our creations. I'm sure the original tutorial writer would love to know as well.

Hopefully this creativity-bug will stick around, especially since I need to get some (24+) cloth diapers done quickly. And hopefully this blog theme will be just as well-received as those with baby news. :) Thank you so much for reading and enjoying.

with goodness.

[Edit: For a tutorial about how to get better blog photos, see this post. With her help, I was able to improve my picture quality and up my over-all blog appearance... because, let's be honest, pictures speak hugely, probably more than the words I write.]

Thursday, September 22, 2011

from then to now.

We need to play a quick game of catch up: from point A (where I left you after the last post) to point B (where our pregnancy is now.)

You've heard how God, with His infinite grace and knowledge of my desires and purpose, allowed me to have an extra week before I found I was pregnant, during which He changed my mind completely to fit His will. I am so thankful for His hand being a part of this story. It speaks volumes of the way He will continue to intervene and control this baby's little life.

That week we went to the doctor for the first time (Friday) and the next Monday our "take-home test" was confirmed by the official blood test saying, yes indeedy - there is a baby in me. We found out we were already 7 weeks along, and our OB office likes ultrasounds at 8 weeks, so we went in and found out we're having a .... human! And yes, the technician checked, there is just one. We are finding out the sex... unfortunately we'll be waiting until November 4th.

Very quickly, or maybe even this had already happened by this point, Mr. Allen and I fell in love with our baby. We talked about and prayed for and thought about our baby all the time. (We still do.) Let me tell you how crazy in love I am with Mr. Allen for being so in love with our little one. He even nicknamed our baby Allen: Cubbie. This is so fitting for about 100 reasons... or two main ones. We live in Chicago, on the north side, ergo we are automatically Cubs' fans. And as I had mentioned before, all the Allens have a bear-friendly name (well except Mr. Allen, but we'll let that pass), so our littlest Allen was in definite need of being Allen-adapted so immediately. Cubbie Bear Allen. Absolutely perfect.

At our next OB visit, we met with our main OB and talked about all of the what of the pregnancy. She told us that we are an ideal situation based on age, health, progress, etc. She gave Cubbie his/her first "A" on his/her check-up. Count these two Allens so proud of our baby.

We had a lot of fun telling our family about new addition. (I guess I'm taking a few steps back right now.) The day we found out we skyped with Mr. Allen's parents, my parents, and my best friend Danielle, and then we called our siblings. I loved (most of) the responses and seeing others get excited with us. Soon we were ready to post on facebook (the day of the first ultrasound) and then we got even more feedback and encouragement from friends and family all over. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We are blessed to be so supported.

I've been one of those obsessive new-mom/first-pregnancy crazies, reading anything I can get my hands on. It has been so fun to "watch" Cubbie grow week-by-week and read about how his/her body is developing. A lot of different books and websites compare baby to the size of food to give the new parents an idea of how big that little body is. We've been through grain of rice, half a Cherrio (so cute, right??), raspberry (a favorite of everyone's), plum, lime, peach... and for now Cubbie is (until tomorrow that is) a lemon.

Tomorrow is a new mark of Cubbie's growth and age, and we are going to the OB, so hopefully there will be a little something to share.

with pure joy.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

baby talk

Before I begin, I have two pre-post notices:

#1 My posts haven't been extremely regular... for two reasons. One: I don't think I have nearly enough interesting things to say to be updating daily. No, I'm not that cool, and even I know that. Two: the Mr. needs a computer much more than I do at school everyday. I would only use it for playing Bejeweled, updating my blog, and stalking people on facebook. (Any chance to take two of those away from me is a good thing.) So I'm sorry that there aren't too many updates, but I guess that's how this blog will work.

#2 From my last post about saving, I didn't mean to say that we are the only ones in this hard financial time. I know that we are truly blessed to be constantly provided for, to have a job that can and will pay the bills, and to have people around us that will support us if it comes to that. I know there are many of you out there in the exact same boat (or maybe an even more tippy-er one.) I just meant to say that it is a new lifestyle for me, one to which I need much adjustment.

Now for the baby talk...

Let me tell you a little about our pregnancy. Mr. Allen and I were married June 3rd this year, and just a few weeks later (July 17th) we found out we were pregnant. No, for those of you who really think we are crazy, we did not plan this baby. It was how you say an "accident," but I much more prefer the words "absolute blessing." We are more than thrilled to be having Cubbie come into our world, our family.

So let's back up a few months again... there was this time in our lives where I thought to myself (based on nature's lovely way of letting women know), 'Wow, I might be pregnant. I should probably take a test and find out.' At this point I was a nervous wreck thinking about all the ways this is not good timing for us, how could we possibly do this, this cannot be true, this cannot be happening. And so, I peed on a stick, and read it, and it had one line, and then this faint little other line that I was so sure and so thankful about meaning we are not pregnant. And I'm pretty sure I sang a few rounds of the doxology as I announced the news to the Mr. But then he sat there completely disappointed that we weren't having a baby.

A week later, I was still getting that lovely sign from mother nature that I really should be pregnant or something is really wrong with me. And during this week I had a complete change of mindset. I watched the FRIENDS episode when Rachel finds out she is pregnant, and I cried. I was so jealous. (Jealousy... a major fault of mine which I will address in a later post.) I needed that baby. I needed to be pregnant. I needed to be a mother.

That weekend we came back from a camping trip where we had discussed a lot again the possibility of being pregnant or that I needed to go see the gyno and figure myself out. I took another test. (Good thing they sell those things in two-packs.) I waited, eagerly this time, for those 3 minutes to pass. I went back in the bathroom and saw the same signs I saw before: one line bold and one faint. At this point I realized, that faint line, well that's the line that is always there. It's the one that is on there before I pee on it. It set in. We're having a baby. I danced as I walked into the other room and showed him. We rejoiced and hugged and smiled and loved every second of the experience. We were on cloud 1000 (if there are only 9 to start with that is.)

... more to come. This should quench your little baby mama bear blog thirst for a little while. Hopefully I'll be able to write again sometime this week and fill in the middle of the story, because we have an OB check-up Friday, and hopefully that will be even more story to share.

with pure joy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

on saving.

I've never been smart with my money. My mom always teased me that money burned a whole in my pocket, instantaneously. I had to spend it as soon as I got it. And I know I was never one to think through whether the purchase was really worth it or not. I just needed to spend that cash. [I also still have a wicked obsession with new things. They make me happy.]

So, here we are in a new chapter of our life... marriage. Not just that, there's this little bit of goodness coming down the road in a few months that's "start up cost" (we'll call it that) is $2000. Eeek. Yes, we want Cubbie here, but does he/she out come with a big bow of hundreds attached? Oh how I wish. Baby, please do me that one favor. (Oh yeah, and an easy delivery would be nice!)

This marriage-thing on one salary, well it's interesting to say the least. We started the journey with a nice bundle in the savings account. (Thank you all those who attended and gave at our wedding.) But then that nice little chunk was tapped into a few times now... you know, our car broke two weeks into the marriage, twice, and we wanted to eliminate one of Shane's loans, so we decided to pay out of pocket savings fund.

So here we are 3 months in, and working our way to really really stretch those few numbers that represent my paycheck each week, to make ends meet and put away some money for this bundle of joy on its way in just 6 more months.

Our latest movements toward pinching the pennies? Last month we invested in large amount of fabric. I will be making all of Cubbie's cloth diapers from scratch. (I'll share pictures soon, no worries. They are cute!) Tonight we decided (against my will) to venture to Aldi for groceries. I've tasted Aldi before and my taste-buds were horribly and dreadfully disappointed. The animal cookies though, those were wonderful... best ever. Tonight's grocery bill alone though, makes me a half-believer. The cost was less than half of our regular from Jewel. Thank you Jesus. We have food... a lot and it cost half. So, for the next few weeks were will be enjoying or at least investigating what Aldi has to offer, at half-off.

Here's to saving more and more, each penny saved is closer to this baby being here, and it being paid for.

with patience.

Friday, September 2, 2011

here's to home.

A weekend back in Battle Creek, oh how I've waited for you. Since I've become a Mrs., we've spent probably a total of 5 hours in Battle Creek visiting with my parents. And that was over two separate occasions. And lately, I've needed to be back. I don't want to call Battle Creek "home" because it is no longer that. Mr. Allen and I have made a home here for ourselves, for our family. ...of three. ;) But I have missed being in a familiar land with familiar faces and love galore.

So here's to spending time in a place I love, the only homeland I've ever really known. I grew up in that house for 20 years, and every time I walk in the door, it feels sweeter than ever.

The plans for the weekend: (well, my from my plan book that is)
- Enjoy some delicious Sir Pizza, a recipe that no other chain can duplicate... which is really a shame since we live 3 hours away now.
- Spend time with my mom, who even though I had a date with last week, I can never get enough of.
- Spend time with my parents over playing cards, eating food (and too much ice cream probably), college football (yes, I did just put that on the "to-do" list), and good conversation.
- Time in the yard playing campus golf, maybe throwing a softball, kicking a soccer ball, walking through my aunt's garden, just enjoying the country side that I miss so dearly in this big city.
- Seeing family and friends that it's been too long since I've seen (yes, 3 months is definitely too long.)
- Sleeping in and maybe waking up to the dog barking. It's weird that I've missed that noise I used to dread, but now days that means I've let myself sleep at least until the sun comes up, maybe later. And that, my friends, is a good thing for this overly tired babybody.

This 3 hour drive will fly as I think about how wonderful this weekend will be.
Dad, Mom - can't wait to be home.

with joy.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


The beginning of a new blog calls for an introduction. I thought I would share 5 things about me which each explain why I am back in the blogging world.

#1 I am newly married, newly relocated, and newly pregnant.
There has been a lot of new in my life within the last 8 months: a new city (Chicago), a new (first and only) husband (Mr. Allen), and a new baby on the way (who we adoringly call "Cubbie".)
This blog will help me remember to reflect on the newness, the action, the love, the life I am living, and it will give me an outlet in which to share it.

#2 I love reading blogs.
No really... I could (and do) spend all day reading your blogs. My list of blogs I follow is too long for anyone to really keep up with, but still I manage. And I really hate when my reader tells me I have no more unread posts. Can't you all just keep writing all day to keep me entertained?
I love the DIY blogs, the sewing blogs, the cute idea blogs, the cooking blogs, etc.
Let's face it - I'm hooked.
And I want to join the club. I want to be as cool as all those other moms out there with sweet crafts and activities and making their kids the cutest clothes. Yes, I love idolize your world.

#3 Although this baby is not out of the womb yet, I am a stay-at-home-mom. ...of sorts.
I am a full-time nanny. Yes, I signed up and went to school to be a teacher, but I spend my day with an infant, and that leaves me with plenty of stories, headaches, naptimes, and blogging time.
And I need to keep family and friends back home caught up with this baby's growth and arrival and cuteness.

#4 I passionately and with much failure follow my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
A lot of the bloggers I follow express their faith openly online, which I love. I will definitely be bold about that, and I hope that my blog will encourage you or challenge you, although the content may not be directly spiritually written.

#5 I inherited the best, most wonderful, vintage sewing machine a few months ago.
Since I had been following so many sewing blogs, I thought maybe this is for me. I do have a lot of time on my hands, and I think I might be creative enough. So I asked around for a machine to borrow for a bit to test out the waters. Instead, I inherited a wonderful sewing machine (built into its table) from the 50s, passed down from Mr. Allen's grandmother who recently passed away. What a joy it is to know that the machine is worth much more than money. And so far, I love it. So I will share some projects which I find steal from the wonderful world of bloggers out there.

Oh, and the name? Well, Mr. Allen's family is a bear sleuth (that's the official name of a group of bears, I googled it.) Each member has a bear-y name, and we love to be together as a complete sleuth bear family. Over the years of dating, I sort of inherited a bear name, but I think I've finally found it: little baby mama bear. Because I am no where near ready to fill the shoes of a mama bear (my two moms are way too amazing for me to think that I could do that), but this baby is coming, and I will gladly have it as mine. So I will be a little baby mama... bear.

with love.