Monday, July 23, 2012

four months

Man, four months have flown by! Each day with Nora is so sweet, and, although at times it seems the hours drag when waiting for Mr. Allen to get home, the days pass too quickly. Being able to be a stay-at-home-mom for the past month has been unforgettable and perfect, and I will desperately await my summer break next year to spend with my sweet girl. (Because in a week I will start with my first teaching job!)

Last week, little Nora Jean turned 4 months old. I waited (too long) to update until after her doctor's appointment so I could share numbers for those who wish to know them. But let's be honest, what you're desperate for is the pictures! So, without futher ado, here they are:

Nora didn't grow like a weed these past few months, but she is still doing just fine on her little growth curve. She is now almost 13 pounds and 24.5 inches. Her turning-4-months-old-week was a big week for her:

She wants to show you all that she has teeth coming through. That's right - plural TEETH. One made its gummy appearance last weekend, and, once it started pushing through this past week, the next one started to float to the top. Needless to say, it's been a rough week for little lady with a runny nose and fusses of pain.

She started rolling all ways (front to back, back to front, you name it - she does it) last weekend as well. She had done it a few "accidental" times before, but now it's the real thing and there's no containing her. I swear that secretly she can crawl too, because the positions I find her in after nap... man, that girl can squirm and move.

Dr. Roy gave us the "okay" to start her on "solids". Here she is trying her first spoonful of rice cereal. Don't let her fool you, she loves it. She's already a pro on day 3, leaning in for more and more.
All this progress in just one week. Man, we have our hands full (blessed beyond our dreams full.)
I still stare at her daily in amazement that she is ours. God is so good to give us children. (I hope that mindset never changes.) I am completely in love and smitten with this little lady.

...leaving her in a week, well - let's not talk about that.

Friday, June 22, 2012


This week, my first week as a stay-at-home-mom, has been one of the most productive weeks. of my life. Seriously, let's take a look:
(not listed in order of importance)

1 Obviously you in the blogging world have had some attention. Although most people would say that time on the computer is not always productive, I'm glad to be able to have some time (albeit a little too much time) to spend doing computer-y things I love: blogging, pinteresting, facebooking. You can't honestly be mad that I'm back. Or maybe you can.

2 I have gotten to cuddle, tickle, kiss, hug, kiss, smooch, poke, kiss, touch, SOAK IN my baby... in ways that I was never able to before. Before I returned to work she was still a little too young to really be playful and enjoy my presence, and once I was at work, I barely had time to get 2 words in with her. But now, oh now, I am overwhelmed at the possibilities of time we have together. I could just talk to her for eternity and be completely smitten. [However, I really do want her to keep her ability to play by herself on the floor, so I have to remember to put her down and leave her alone every once in a while.]

3 I have spent time with God. Honestly, this was lacking. a lot. I kept on making excuses about how busy I was with work and the demands of home. And probably a lot of it was true, because I was seriously busy, but no excuse is good enough. And I have loved being refreshed with time in prayer and time in the Bible this week. I can feel myself getting closer to the heart of God. I am so, very thankful for the opportunity to sit in silence (when Nora decides to nap) and meet God in my very home. It. feels. great.

4 I ran three days this week. Before this week, I had only ran once since Nora was born. Running wasn't easy this week, but it was really good. I was in so much pain for a lot of it [obviously my lungs didn't get the memo that they should be able to last more than half a mile] but afterward, when I took my cold shower and stretched out, I knew I was doing something awesome with my body. I am so excited to be able to get back into running. (And thankfully, Nora doesn't mind the jogging stroller... one day she even slept for half of the run.)

5 Remember those cloth diapers I started back in... July 2011? Yeah, it's almost July 2012. But guess what: yesterday I finally finished them. A set of 20 cloth diapers are done (praise the Lord) and ready to be washed today...and if they dry overnight, worn tomorrow. Our baby is going to be a convert!

6 There has been so much "housework" that I'm sure I was able to get to before when I was working, but I can actually feel like I have a handle on it now. I got ahead in bill paying, wrote a letter to my grandma (a little late on that one), crossed off many of the eventually-to-do list items (that had been piling up over the past month or so), and am going to get a new laundry/cleaning schedule started today that will have me doing little things everyday (rather than one Saturday a month I do absolutely every chore in the house and hate myself afterward for letting it get that bad.)

If you couldn't tell, I am overjoyed to be at home. Even if it was just for this one week, I would be thoroughly satisfied to enter back into the working world. But I have the blessing, as I wait for a teaching job to find me this fall, to stay where I am and live fully in this moment, in this house, with my beautiful daughter. And I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. (Although, wouldn't it be just grand if Mr. Allen could be home with us all day too? :])

Thursday, June 21, 2012

the nursery reveal

Two months ago (wow, has it been that long) we moved into our new apartment, which we LOVE. Our old apartment was in a building with 5 other apartments and we liked it a lot, especially since it was our first home. But our new place is in a three-flat, which is the most common housing in Chicago. It's a 3-story house that (usually) features three apartment units, one on each floor. Our bulding is the exception. Our house in only 2 units -- we live on the first floor (completely above ground) and another family lives on the two above us.

That's another thing, we are so very blessed with housemates. We live under one of the pastors from our church and his family and they have become our family. They have us for dinner, we have them, we watch their kids (who happen to adore Shane and I, and we just might love the attention.) They seriously take care of us. But enough gushing about that. Last one, I promise: God has just majorly blessed us with them.

So one of the huge advantages to our new place was that there was room to set up a nursery. In our old apartment Nora had a dresser and crib in the corner of our room, which was fine since she still needed to sleep with us. But here, she has her own room (which she started sleeping in at 6 weeks) and we have our own room (thank you, Jesus!)

And here is the final reveal of her nursery. I was so eager and excited to set it up that it was the first thing I did as we moved everything into the apartment.

It was very DIY. Our original plan, back when we didn't know our baby's gender, we had made a little collage of things we liked and picked the colors gray and green. We said that if it was a girl there would be some pink accents and if it was a boy there would be blue. Well, let's just say once we knew she was a girl, the pink took over. Here's a look (at our PINK and gray and green nursery):

[crib: Target, book bin: leftover from my high school graduation open house where it was used to hold pops and ice, rug: Ikea - thanks to my mother-in-law for buying that, floating flower balls: via this tutorial - it worked perfectly and I love how they turned out. I originally planned another gray one, but loved the look of the two (and I ran out of energy. It was extremely time consuming.), storage bin: Target, lamp: Ikea - my mother-in-law's purchase again, blanket: handmade by my aunt - it is beautiful, right?!]

[balls: 2 - 12" Chinese lanterns (which I found green ones on clearance at a party store for $3 [pack of 3] and made them work just fine.), fabric: Joann Fabric, string: fishing wire that came with the lanterns]

[moving counter-clockwise... dresser: found (see original condition below) in an alley next to our old apartment - we removed the handles and painted it our gray color but it was scratched up in the move and I haven't touched it up yet, changing pad/cover: BabiesRUS, bunting: ribbon and paper bears - story to follow, humidifier: BabiesRUs, "n" frame: handmade gift from my friend Liz, curtain: our old shower curtain from Target]

And for the wall opposite of the dresser:

[shelving unit: found in alley next to our old apartment - we originally used it in our pantry and then I discovered that the storage bins fit perfectly inside]

And the artwork hanging on the wall was a piece done by my best friend, Danielle. I had sent her a picture from this nursery as inspiration. Here's a close-up.

Nora's initials are "carved" into the tree. I can see this painting being an inspiration for her "big girl" room too, since the colors are so feminine, yet universal for many themes.

And there it is. I am still completely thrilled by it and love that Nora has a special place to call her own. The bear bunting is a crafted-gift from one of my baby showers. Each bear has a verse on it and on the back the guests of the shower (close family and friends) each wrote a prayer for Nora based on the scriptural truth found on the front. It is such a sweet addition to the room. I started reading the verses and prayers to Nora yesterday and already have cried a few times. What a blessing it is.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

happy fathers' day (to me?)

We had a great time celebrating Mr. Allen on his first fathers' day. (And we did quite the same a month ago for my first mothers' day.) Nora woke up nice and early, which meant that her and I got to slaving away in the kitchen, baking up some delicious goodness.

I made him pancakes for breakfast (per his request -- I could have definitely done something more.) And started his fathers' day dessert before breakfast. I tried out this recipe (which I had found on pinterest), and it actually turned out horrible. Usually we dominate desserts, even those in 10 inch pans, but this one was sadly disposed of last night after only a quarter of it had been eaten (or at least picked at.) The brownie base was so good, so we will be using that part of the recipe again for another dessert, but something went poorly with the cheesecake, and yeah - we didn't feel the need to use all our calories on something that wasn't even worth it.

Then we went to church after breakfast and during the service they had a drawing for some Home Depot giftcards for the fathers. Mr. Allen only put his name in the drawing because he knew he wouldn't win. But he was the first name called! And if you know Mr. Allen at all, he is not the handy man-type. at all. So I would consider this a Happy-Fathers'-Day-present to ME because I would gladly spend $50 at Home Depot on something crafty. (And I did always want to be a carpenter when I grew up. And I did take 3 years of wood shop in high school.) So here's where I need your help - what project should I take on? I've been searching pinterest for some pin-spiration, but haven't found my project-to-be yet. Let me know if you have your eye/mind on something.

I also treated Mr. Allen to some homemade burritos (which I'm pretty sure every time we have them he says, "These are the best ones yet." But I don't mind the compliment.) For dinner we vegged out - nothing special - with a movie after the little one was in bed.

Here's a picture from the day -- a man and his little lady:

(PS - Did you notice this post wasn't even listed on the "coming soon" section of the last post? It's just a bonus read for you all. :])

Monday, June 18, 2012

Ella tiene tres meses.

Today Nora turned 3 months old. A quarter of a year... practically a quarter of a century. Our little lady is most definitely still a little lady, but she's growing faster than we can keep track of. I swear each time she wakes us she's 4 pounds heavier and an inch larger. (Neither of those are true, but it sure seems that way.) Unfortunately we have to wait to go back to the doctor's office until her 4-month check-up, so we don't have new weights or lengths.

Here are the treasures:

This month was a pretty big one for her, although I'm sure the past 2 months and next 18 or so all will be big ones because as my mom says, "She changes so much so quickly." (This is also her excuse of why she needs to have "Nora-fixes" so often.) She really is changing and growing. Until about a week ago, she was sleeping all of her naps and at night swaddled. We decided to pull the plug last weekend for good. It took her about 2 nights of laying awake too long while letting us all know that she was uncomfortable, and then she settled into the new pattern, and I'm sure she would never want to go back. As I'm typing this, she's snoozing away in her crib -- arms free, legs free.

I think I might be the only mom ever that doesn't wake their baby up at 11 or so for a feeding and then have her sleep until morning. I do the opposite. I put her down at 6 or 7 and then let her wake up between 2-4 am to eat, and then she sleeps until morning. It didn't make sense for me with my job to do the other. I had to be up at 5 am, so I needed to go to bed around 8:30, which meant that feeding her at 11 was just inconvenient all around. Nevertheless, when people ask me if she sleeps through the night, I can say "Yes, she does." Because she sleeps from 6 until her morning feeding, and then promptly falls back asleep until 6 or 7 am. She's a great nighttime sleeper and always has been. Her naps, however, leave much to be desired. She has a hard time passing through from one REM cycle to the next, so she often wakes up crying at 40-45 minutes and has a hard time going back to sleep. Every once in a blue moon (maybe once a week) she randomly makes it through and sleeps a solid 2 hours. Yesterday afternoon was a prime example of this: we put her down for a nap, I decided I would let her cry it out at 45 minutes and put herself back to sleep, and then she just slept right through for 2 1/2 hours with no mid-cycle wake. Today was not the case though. But you can't have it all, right?! I'm just so thankful for her brilliant nighttime sleeping skills.

This month she also experienced her first cold. Luckily it only lasted about a day and a half and was just a stuffy/runny nose. But poor little girl, she just broke my heart with her misery. Who am I kidding - she didn't feel well, but still gave out just as many smiles. She just knew she wasn't feeling right and couldn't figure out why... but that didn't stop her from trying to enjoy herself.

She's getting close to rolling over from her back to her front. She's quite the squirmer when she's lying on her playmat. She has rolled over accidentally from her front to her back probably 5 times or so, but mostly because she forgets to put her hips down on the floor when she's on her tummy and flops over.

We start our cloth diapers this week - so we'll see how that goes. Hopefully they are a huge success, because they were quite the investment of money and time, and we really don't have a back-up plan. We decided, after the last huge box of Pampers, we were done buying disposable diapers and we are ready to move to the cloth. I finished a few up today during her naps and tomorrow I will finish up the rest; then I will wash them all, test how long they take to dry, and hopefully by Friday she will be one eco-friendly baby!

That's all the Nora-news for now. As of this week, I am a stay-at-home-mom for a few months, so I should have more time for crafting, pictures, etc. which means more blog updates! (Finally - I know right?!)

Coming soon: Nursery Reveal (better late than never?), One Year Later, and Being Candid

Sunday, May 20, 2012

two months old.

Hello everyone! So sorry for all the time off. But, you know, there's a little baby that is running my life right now. And then add yet another baby when I'm at work, and, well, you get one tired out woman... who has no time to blog.

But our little lady turned two months old on Friday, so there is need to update the blog and celebrate her new milestone.

If you are a mother, you know that turning two months old means that Nora had her two-month doctor's appointment. That means that she had to get a round of vaccines. So, we didn't really get her two-month pictures on Friday because the aftermath of said shots plus a lack of afternoon nap added up to one fussy baby that would not have done so well with a photo shoot.

But here are her two month old pictures, taken Saturday (with one happy little lady, I might add.)

She is now 22.5 inches long (growing 1 inch since last month) and weighs 11 pounds 6 ounces (gaining almost 2 pounds.) Unfortunately she has lost most of her "Noisy Nora" noises at night, but she is, however, quite the nighttime sleeper. She sleeps at least 6-7 hours straight at night, wakes up for a feeding, and then back to sleep for 4-5 hours. For Mother's Day she decided to treat me to 9 1/2 hours of straight sleep before waking up -- what a nice surprise that was!

Nora is a big talker and smiler. She recognizes her daddy and me extremely easily and is content to carry on a "conversation" with us for 20-30 minutes straight. She coos and talks often; so much so that Mr. Allen and I asked each other why we even liked her before she could smile and talk. We are convinced that she must have been so boring back then. :] We are completely smitten with her.

She joins us at the dinner table every night in her high chair (which reclines back until she's ready to sit-up completely) and will talk and watch us as we eat and chat away. I really can't believe how much of a big girl she's becoming already. During bath time at night, she watches Mommy and Daddy in the mirror while they wash her and sits contented, smiling the whole time.

Two months seem like forever in an awesome way. I feel like life before her was just a far-off dream. She completes us Allens in so many ways. We are so blessed to have her, to hold her, to giggle with her, to bathe her, to feed her, to read to her, to snuggle her, to kiss her, to know her.

Nora girl, we love you deeply and passionately. We are so glad you are ours!

Monday, April 23, 2012


A week ago I celebrated my birthday and turned another year older. Each birthday for the past few years I have tried to make a to-do/goal list for the upcoming year. Two years ago, I made a bucket list-type where I tried to complete 22 new objectives before turning 22 (and failed miserably), and last year I set out to read 23 books before I turned 23.

You see, as I had mentioned before, I was a late bloomer on the loving-to-read-wagon; as in, I just jumped on last year. Since moving to Chicago, I realized that my commutes (which have always been at least a half hour... my current one being an hour long) could be put to much better use (rather than people watching or sitting with a blank stare) by reading. So, my love for reading was born, and I decided to really get the ball moving at my 22nd birthday with the 23 books by 23.

Well, back in January or February I stumbled across the list that I had been making of the books I had read, and I realized then that I wasn't really on track to finish my goal, but still had read over 15 books - which was a huge deal for me, being new to this whole reading-outside-of-class-thing. I was still extremely proud of myself.

Then, a few weeks ago when I was packing up our old apartment for the move, I came across the list again, sat down with it for a few minutes, added a few books that I had read, and when I counted them all up - I HAD READ 23!! I didn't even know how close I was, and yet, I had accomplished my goal!

So, here is my list of 23 books that I read in the past year:
The Help (my first book of the year, and a great one at that)
Blue Like Jazz (I had read it before in high school and enjoyed it then, but maybe even more so now.)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (All of these were read within 2 weeks, finished before the last movie's premiere.)
Ordinary People (upon Mr. Allen's recommendation)
The Nanny Diaries (extremely fitting for my current job situation)
The Hunger Games
Chasing Fire
Mockingjay (all read back to back rather quickly)
Mere Christianity (good, but hard to get through)
The Screwtape Letters (upon Mr. Allen's recommendation)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (good plot, too much graphic-ness, not worth reading the others)
The Catcher in the Rye (I had read this in high school for class and loved it; not so much this time.)
Cold Tangerines (second time through, still amazing)
Bittersweet (not as good as Cold Tangerines, but good stories)
Water for Elephants (one of the first books I read in the year)
The Four Seasons of Marriage (not extremely applicable right now in our marriage, but good to know)
Start Something that Matters (I've written about this before)
Breastfeeding, A Parent's Guide (I read this in a weekend, but I'm sure it will be pulled back out often in the next few months)
The Dubious Salvation of Jack V (I just randomly found this book on the new titles shelf at the library and picked it up.)
Heaven is For Real (This was an amazing book - go pick it up and read it. I read it in a matter of a few hours, on a trip from Michigan to Chicago. It was that good.)

And there you have it, 23 books. I know for some of you that list may seem miniscule, but for me it was a big challenge. I am so proud of myself for really finishing it! And, with that mindset, I should probably make my "by 24" list for this year I'm currently 6 days into. Look for that post coming soon!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

one month old

Well, friends, say goodbye to your weekly pictures of our little girl. She is still turning one week older each Sunday, but I'm not going to be capturing it quite that often. I will still be pulling out our camera often to catch those little moments throughout our days (which can be found on facebook), but you will have to chart her growth via the blog only at monthly milestones from here on out.

So, here are her ONE MONTH PICTURES.

On Wednesday Nora turned one month old! And I handled it a lot better than I had anticipated - no tears. I just kept staring at her in awe of how much she has grown and changed, and I just can't fathom how quickly she is growing up. (I'm already saying this stuff... imagine me in 15 years.) I waited to post pictures until after her one-month doctor's appointment, which was yesterday. Little Miss is 21.5 inches long and 9 pounds, 10 ounces. She has gained 2.5 pounds since birth and grew 2 inches! She's quite the little bowling ball now... not so easy to hold for long periods of time. :]

In the last 2 weeks, she has learned to create that melt-my-heart social smile (it's not just gas anymore , folks), and it seriously gets me EVERY time. She also learned to coo/talk to friendly faces (and the ceiling fans, picture frames, and any other easily-spotted inanimate objects.) She is incredibly alert and active when she is awake, loving tummy time (a weird baby, I know), holding her head just fine on her own, and kicking those strong legs constantly.

We went to Michigan last weekend for my birthday and to celebrate my best friend's upcoming wedding with a bridal shower. I was an awful mommy: ONLY in the sense that I took NO pictures of Nora meeting so many new family members. I'm sorry everyone. I really dropped the ball on that one. Big time. Hopefully our next child will be an identical replica of baby Nora and we can take those pictures and just say they were Nora and baby #2.

Nora did amazing traveling. We were worried about the car ride to Michigan, since the longest we ever drive with her in the city is 20-30 minutes (and that is really like 5 miles, just considering Chicago traffic.) We had done a few trips out to the suburbs last week, which takes about 45 minutes and she had slept on all those trips. But she did great in the long car ride, sleeping the whole way. And on the way back, Nora and I took the train, which was supposed to take 3 hours and ended up being a 5 hour trip (plus commuting on public transportation once we got into the city) and she was a gem through it all. Thank God for such a good baby!

And, as I write this, I can hear that little one sleeping her little heart out (per usual)... along with her daddy who joined her 8 pm bedtime tonight (late for her, early for him) because he is feeling a little under the weather. That being said, Mommy gets some time to update the blog for all you lovely readers.
...and maybe a little Martha Stewart time too(?).

Sunday, April 8, 2012

3 weeks old

Our little girl is 3 weeks old and is a growing machine.

Here are her 2 week old pictures from last Sunday:

She was really rocking that leopard print. :] As of a week ago Friday (a few days before these pictures were taken), she had gained 12 ounces between week 1 and week 2, weighing 8 pounds at the doctor's office. The doctor was so happy with her weight gain, so we're obviously doing something right.

Today, Easter Sunday, Nora is 3 weeks old! I can't believe it. I feel like we have had her forever, in a great way, and at the same time, I can only imagine the tears I will cry next week as my little baby will turn 1 month old. It's unreal in every possible way.

If you didn't have the chance to see my facebook status tonight... Nora was dressed in a fancy, beautiful pink dress for Easter this morning, and after about an hour of church, she decided to have her first explosive diaper. She pooped through a onesie, through a pair of tights, and into her beautiful dress. It was a good thing Mom decided to grab an extra whole outfit for the day. (Usually I just pack a t-shirt onesie.) We did get one picture this morning in her dress on Mr. Allen's cell phone.

 And for her 3 week old photo: (check out that belly!!)

Nora hit her first growth spurt this week. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, she was crazy about eating. I swear it was practically every hour and a half that she was hungry. I mentioned it to my sister-in-law, and she told me to expect a few days of heavy sleep coming afterward. Boy, was she right! Yesterday Nora was awake from 7am to 8am, and then slept practically the rest of the day with the exception of waking up to eat. Today, we went to an Easter dinner, and she slept through it all. (No worries - she ate again, mid nap.) This being said, she is still sleeping all night. Oh boy, I needed these past two days to relax a little myself, not having as eager of an eater. Maybe tomorrow or Tuesday we'll be back on schedule and to normal life. (Doubtful since Tuesday is our moving day, and then we'll be settling into our new apartment.)

Please pardon my lack of adding the weekly pictures on time, we are going through a lot right now as a family: you know, adding a newborn, adjusting to said newborn-family-life/sleep-deprivation, and, on top of that, we're moving this coming week and are trying to get everything packed up. It's a whirlwind life right now, but a beautifully blessed one. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

NJFacts [part 2]

More Nora-provoked facts:

#1: This post has to be short, because a little girl named Nora Jean not only takes all my time, but all my energy. I keep having to-do lists to accomplish once Mr. Allen gets home from school and can back me up on Nora-duty, but then most nights (like last night for example) I run out of energy way earlier than even looking at that to-do list, let alone tackleing it. Last night, Mr. Allen got home at 5:00 (to a cranky, tired baby) and then we tried to eat dinner while she napped. The nap lasted 20 minutes and we had a crier. Then, at 7:00, she was finally bathed, fed, and asleep in bed, and I immediately climbed in bed too. Not much more can get accomplished when that happens.

#2: When we told our families and the world that we had picked the name "Nora" for our little girl, my mother-in-law quickly told me about a book she used to read to her daughter, my sister-in-law, Erin, often when she was little. Here it is:

As a new grandma, not only was she excited for her new granddaughter, but excited also for the chance to share this book again with a little one, especially a little one named "Nora." Last weekend, when Grandma was here, she was able to introduce Nora (and myself) to this little book... so cute.

The fact I'm trying to share here, is that Nora is most definitely living up to the name "Noisy Nora". I mean, I've been around my share of children and babies, but this girl is the loudest sleeper I've ever met. She falls asleep peacefully, then as she shuffles between REM cycles and deep sleeps, she makes noises... LOUD noises: grunts, squeaks, more grunts. She just makes sure her father and I know she's still around. Oh, lady, we could never forget about you; but thank you for the reminder. Mr. Allen and I have decided she may be part goose with all those un-human-like noises.

But, we sure do love our little noisy Nora!

Some night, if I remember, I might take a video of her mid-cycle-"soundtrack" for you all to experience and enjoy.

PS - Two week old pictures were taken last Sunday; do not worry! I just haven't had a chance to load them from the camera. (Remember that no time/no energy thing? Yeah... I can't wait for that to go away.)

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Warning - this post is a bit personal... even for me. I'm sharing something secret, something close to my heart right now. But I feel the need to share it. Maybe I'm sharing it for me -- just to get it out into the world and to be held accountable to it, or maybe God is having me share it for you -- to challenge and encourage you. Whatever the reason, here it goes.

[taken from my journaling this morning]

On Sunday I made a decision. For months now I have been waiting for my Christian walk to come to me as a fresh encounter, a new vibrancy, and that's all I was doing -- waiting. I thought maybe reading a new book would do it for me or maybe just listening in church the Holy Spirit would boldly, clearly tell me, "Hey, listen up! This one is for you. This is the message you've been waiting for; the one to change your life." Well, none of that has happened, and I kept on craving a freshness. 

Then on Sunday, I realized -- all I am doing about this "craving" is sitting, waiting. I'm not pursuing it. I'm not chasing God. I'm not surrendering my life. I'm just holding onto my life, waiting for God to show up on my terms. 

And so, I've given up on waiting. I'm moving on the pursuit. I'm hunting down this freshness I desire, and I'm doing it by being active and intentional.

No longer will I avoid reading my Bible because "it's a drag sometimes" or "I'm stuck in the Old Testament and none of it matters to me/my life anyway." [I told you I was being honest, didn't I!?]

No longer will I refuse time in prayer because "I don't know what to pray for" or "I just prayed about that yesterday."

No longer will I avoid talking about real, spiritual matters with unbelievers, worried about what they will think of me. Because, more importantly, their souls are on the line! 

There are two people who I know will read this post that I need to have those conversations with. And it's not for my sake, it's for theirs. I will seek out those conversations and I will be bold with my witness, because I want them in heaven with me someday. 

Yes, I will stumble. Yes, I will falter. And, yes, I will definitely fail. But this time, I'm not waiting; I'm moving - I'm seeking - I'm pursuing. And I will grow.

NJFacts [part 1]

Here's a new series for you: NJFacts: Nora Jean Facts. I say "series" because I'm sure that, as she grows, she will produce more and more facts for me to share with you. As for today, here's 3 facts for your enjoyment. (Three facts in 11 days; this girl is pumping them out!)

#1 - As of 4 days ago, Nora's stomach was the size of a ping-pong ball. How cute is that. I'm sure it has grown by now, since she is growing each day, but I love that imagery. [It's almost as cute as the fact that back in week 8 of my pregnancy when she was the size of a raspberry.]

#2 - Nora has acquired the skill of shooting milk out her nose. It's cute. It also scares me a little, because I think it is a sign that she's not really breathing fully while eating, but I'll let the doctor tell me tomorrow exactly what's going on. As for now, it's cute. ...and a little gross.

#3 - There is so much bodily fluids between this little girl and I that I don't know what is what and whose is whose. It's kind of super gross, but I think that's life with a newborn. I'm just going to have to deal with the fact that as of last night there are two new stains on our bedding (joining the many others created this week) that I just can't pinpoint their creator or substance. [I think new bedding may be in our future. know, after the milk coming out the nose and other creative spurts subside.]

Bonus fact: She is the best thing. ever. And that is a fact.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

1 week old [labor & delivery]

stretching to show her whole 19.75 inches

not a happy camper
Nora Jean is one week old today. We have been home since Tuesday around noon, and we are quickly adjusting to life with a little one. She's a very easy adjustment for the majority though -- a little doll with a wonderful temperament. She sleeps through the nights, eats every 2-4 hours, and does all of her "business" perfectly too. Her resume is quite impressive.

She has been out and about a lot this week too for only her first week. We took her to Target just a few hours after we got her out of the hospital. She slept through the whole experience, which probably means she loved it. She's been back to Target a second time (it will feel like a second home to her, I'm sure), on the CTA buses (for an appointment), to the doctor's office, to the DHS (human services) office, to the park for a walk, and this morning we ventured out to church. She's quite the well-traveled baby, and she snoozes in her car seat and Lulu wrap easily.

Her Arrival Story:
(Warning: If you don't want details, don't read any further!)

Last Saturday, March 17th (St. Patrick's Day), I started to have contractions mid-afternoon. But these were funny contractions, because they didn't hurt at all. I just knew it was a new feeling, with definite tightening in my abdomen, and we started timing them to check their frequency. They were 2 minutes apart and very regular. I knew I needed to get up and start walking around to really activate them and see if they were the real thing, and since we needed to go to Target for a few things anyway, we decided to get all the hospital-things around and head out. (Big surprise, we went to Target, huh?!) The contractions still continued to be very regular, and still didn't really bug me much, as I was able to talk and laugh through all of them, but they did start to increase intensity.

We called the doctor from the Target parking lot, and she told us to come on in and get checked out. (Side note: I was very relieved to hear that one of my preferred doctors from my practice was on-call for the night.) We went to the hospital and got checked in, and they measured me at 4 cm. I had been 3 cm. earlier that week at the doctor's office, so this wasn't really much progress. They told me that the doctor would probably want to break my water sometime that night if the contractions didn't really turn up the heat, but I could start walking to see if that would help. So Mr. Allen and I walked the very small loop of the triage floor for an hour. Then I was rechecked and measured at 5 cm. The nurses were satisfied with this progress and said they expected me to progress at about a centimeter per hour. I figured that to mean, since it was then 7 pm, the delivery would happen around midnight, which seemed a long time off. I had called my mom during our hour of walking and discussed breaking my water and I decided that I wanted that to happen so we could "get this show started."

I was then moved to the labor and delivery floor and a doctor broke my water. Let's just say, things definitely started to change. We continued to walk on the new floor and my contractions picked up quickly. I was having to stop and breath through them, struggling to stand at times because of the pain. I dealt with nausea and almost passed out at one point, and around 10 pm, I decided to head back to my room and rest for a little while. The contractions continued at 2 minutes apart and I, well, was in a LOT of pain. At midnight, I asked to be checked again for progress, and in my mind was at the end of what I could handle. I thought to myself, 'I want to be at least at 8 cm to keep going without medicine.' But when the doctor checked, I was at 6.5 cm and I asked for the epidural.

After the medication, I felt amazing. Mr. Allen laid down to sleep and I rested for a few hours. I was such a happy camper when he came back in the room after they gave me my first dosage that he texted his mom and asked "Who is this? And where did they take my wife?" I really was a different woman. Around 3:30 am the nurse checked me again and said that I was at 10 cm and fully efface, it could be game-time at any moment. She said that my doctor wanted me to "labor down," which means let the baby come down lower and lower on her own, letting the contractions do their work since I wasn't experiencing severe pain, which would result in less need for extended pushing.

At 5 am, they woke me up (I finally fell asleep for 15 minutes), and I woke Mr. Allen up, and we got ready for go-time. We were about to start practice pushes, and then the doctor walked in and said, "Let's make them real pushes." They said Nora was already visible before I even started pushing, thanks to the laboring down. At this point, I could feel my contractions working because I hadn't re-dosed the medicine in a few hours. I was ready to push and felt excited to know that an end was so close and we would finally meet our little one. To be honest, I thought the pushing-part was so much fun. I was ready to be done and I knew that I just needed to get through this little bit. And a little bit it was - after just 20 minutes of pushing, at 5:37 am, Nora Jean Allen was born. She cried immediately and they put her on my chest. I was overwhelmed, too much so that I don't think I even cried. I just stared at her and was so, so much in love.

Her stats:
born at 5:37 am on March 18th, 2012
19.5 inches
7 pounds 4 ounces
(and so so beautiful)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

waiting on Nora

There's a woman in my life who recently started a blog, and I'm sure she doesn't want me sharing her name or blog site, so I will just say this: I follow her blog religiously. This week I checked my subscriptions more often than ever before, hoping for a new post. Finally, yesterday, TWO posts came. I was so delighted. I read along, clearly hearing her voice behind the typed-out words, and loved being reconnected with her in this way.

I say that I waited in anticipation for her posts, which I'm sure some of you (maybe just ONE of you?) do the same for my blog. We have this expectation, this anxiousness, when really attached to someone's blog, that the writer should always be writing more often than they do. And if this is you (you sorry soul for picking my blog as that blog in your life) I'm sorry for my inconsistency. But this other woman, she has a methodology of keeping herself accountable for posting which I am stealing from right beneath her nose. At the end of each post, she leaves you with the title or idea for the next post. That way she's already scheduling herself to develop a new idea, preparing her words in anticipation for sitting down to write, and, guess what, she actually follows through. (Guilty woman here for doing QUITE the opposite.) And, since she hasn't published her next post, but has left the title, I stole that too: "waiting on Nora".

Well, for the last few weeks, Mr. Allen and I have been anxiously awaiting Nora Jean's arrival. I had a doctor tell me (almost 4 weeks ago now) that this little girl was most definitely coming early, as she had already made it to her VERY low departure position, head-down and down and down. She was low. And the doctor said it could be "any day really". So we hurried. We bought all the "things" that we needed for Nora, put all the pieces into their new home, turned this apartment from a (quite dirty) dumping spot of two post-college adults into a home for a family of three. Over the weeks I've had spurts of urges to sweep, to scrub, to clean all corners. Was this nesting? Probably. Was this insanity? A little. You see, over the weeks, my mind was going crazy on this emotional roller coaster of "this baby is COMING" to "well, where is she?" And each time I cleaned a new corner, or rearranged her drawers (too many times for clothes that aren't being worn or messed up), I thought "maybe this is the key to letting her know it's time; maybe she'll come now". And to be honest, I kept hitting this wall.

This week I hit it the hardest. And I backed up, got a better running start, and would hit it again, day after day. It's been a hard week. The doctor (a different one than before) told me Monday that (after three weeks of no progression) I was finally making progression: I was 3 centimeters dilated and, as she put it, "on the launching pad". She kept telling me that I was really ready to go. We scheduled a routine due-date ultrasound for Friday with the expectation that really there was no need to schedule this appointment since I would clearly be delivering before this. And my hopes went high, sky-rocketed really.

And then, a day passed... and another. And although baby was moving and shaking inside, she seemed to have no interest in coming outside. And I hit that wall again. Yes, I cried. Yes, they are probably pregnancy tears (although really, people, I think I have set the world record for tears shed during the 9 months of pregnancy.) And at night, Mr. Allen would reassure me. We would talk about how long we've waited thus far and how close she is. And we would talk about the fact that we probably wouldn't even have to get up for work in the morning because we would already be at the hospital with our little girl. And then the mornings would come, (5:30, you kill me), and I would run myself right into that wall again.

I still was so hopeful though. She just has to come out. She doesn't get an option, so she must be coming. And Thursday, I went to work, had a false alarm of losing my mucus plug, and after waiting for contractions to start for 6 hours, realized my error and realized that we were still back waiting like always. And, luckily and barely, I made it home before the water works started again.

I was. am. so frustrated with this waiting. I know I am the most dramatic and impatient mother-to-be you have ever heard of. You have been thinking that while reading this whole post. Feel free to say it, I know it's true. I realize I'm ridiculous. But that doesn't change how disappointed and frustrated and anxious I am. I've been waiting on edge because of the doctor's news for almost a month now. That's a long time. And you probably, if you follow me on facebook, have been so annoyed with my constant Nora-themed statuses. I'm even annoyed with them.

So, yesterday, I decided to drop my expectations; to lower the bar, I guess. Not to say that I'm not anxiously awaiting meeting this little girl. Not at all, I can't wait to see her eyes and kiss every inch of her, and watch my husband fall in love. The thoughts of those moments captivate me completely. But I've decided to just wait; and to not expect. Last night I went to bed, (yes still staring at the empty crib for a few moments) with the expectation to just wake up in the morning and be a pregnant mom-to-be. And I think, maybe, maybe, I can experience peace here in this sense of waiting. Because I surely wasn't experiencing it before.

And I want to make my thankfulness for my best friend, Danielle, public. Because she has been outstanding in the best friend category this week. She followed my excitement peak on Monday with the news of progression. She touched base with me daily this week to see how I was feeling physically and remind me of her excitement for our family. And Thursday morning, when I was really facing frustration, she talked me down (with distraction) for probably an hour. Then later in the morning, as I thought we were mere hours from labor starting, she reflected my excitement. And when I realized my error later in the afternoon, she sent me an encouraging verse and prayers as she knew that my spirits had fallen. And she continues to amaze me with her support in each moment, knowing what to say and how to share my emotions with me. So, thank you, Danielle, for your consistency this week; for knowing me so well in these moments of pregnancy craziness where I don't even know how you can follow my emotional patterns.

And, of course, thank you to my Mr. Allen. You have been my rock for 9 months (and a few years before that)... for 9 months of marriage that have been tainted (cursed?) with a pregnant wife. Thank you for clearing up my many tears, for dealing with my ridiculousness of irrational thinking and acting, for comforting me, for holding me, for being my best friend, for getting me (again, how do you possibly do that with this roller coaster of a wife?!). I love you so much. And, in response to your Valentine's Day facebook post (first ever, and obviously the best ever): Thank you for letting me have your baby. Soon we will be three.

Next post: Labor and Delivery
(So this post could happen anytime between now and a week from Monday)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

MS love.

Let me preface this post with a gigantic: I'm SO sorry about my blogging absence. There have been posts floating here and there in my brain, and I just couldn't seem to discipline myself enough to sit down, think the post idea fully through, and publish it. And now so many post ideas have come and gone, so I will start again with something simple... a confession.

It all started about 9 months ago. You know, around the same time our marriage started; around the same time this baby-waiting-business started. A week or two into our marriage, I got out of the shower and draped my towel over my head (not in the typical turban style, but more of a New Testament, mother of Jesus style) and then I asked Mr. Allen if I looked like Mary, mother of Jesus.

This became a little game I played after each shower, like an inside joke (yes, I'm aware it's not funny at all), as I would change the character of asking, yet keep the same towel draping. I asked Mary, mother of Jesus, Mother Teresa, Mary Magdalene, and then out came "Martha Stewart."

And then, I had to admit it - my secret obsession, love, craze for Martha Stewart. I told Mr. Allen about my guilty pleasure of watching hour after hour of the Martha Stewart show on the Hallmark Channel. (I had a lot of TV-watching time when I nanny-ed for Henry. That boy could sleep!) Her ideas are brilliant, beautiful, cliche and, yet, glorious. Oh, Martha, how you amaze me each episode.

Now, I'm not dumb enough to think that she is sitting there, being a genius, thinking up every ounce of her creative flow. I know she's got people working for her. But, man, what a woman.

I've learned to not be ashamed of my adoration for her style. In fact, I found out about a free subscription to the Martha Stewart Living magazine, and I sure did jump at the opportunity.

Now my relax/chill-out/escape-from-the-world-moments are spent in a warm, bubbly tub with a MSL issue in hand. I soak in the beautiful, warm water while I repeat page-after-page "Oh, Martha, you never cease to amaze me." or "You're right; I should do my house like that!" or "Why did I never think of organizing my closet like that, Martha?".

In fact, just last night, I needed one of those escape-my-problem nights in the tub and I read the February issue and felt so much better (about the fact that this baby only teases me of making an appearance) afterward. And, since a new issue comes each month, I am licensed to get-away for an hour or so every month.

So, thank you, Martha, for your brilliant ideas, beautiful creativity, and allowing me a wonderful escape. :]

Sunday, February 19, 2012


This week one of the blogs I follow did a special series called "Crush", featured here on eighteen25. I thought the idea was really cute, so I decided to follow suit.


Main Crushes:

These two really make my day; everyday.

TV Crush:

I'm not ashamed to admit that I LOVE Whitney.
I am guilty of 30 minutes of straight giggling every Wednesday at 7.

Star Crush:

Submitted by @ThriveBlog

Ryan Gosling. This man could not be any more attractive. Sorry Mr. Allen, but you, too, know how very true this is. Crazy, Stupid Love shirtless scene? Yum.
I can not get over these little "Hey girl" clips. Check more out here. They'll make you laugh.
PS - My friend, Amy, shared this little story about his wonderfulness and I thought I would pass it along. :)

Music Crush:

East Lansing's finest. Although I sure do miss Anna's voice mingled in amidst the mix.

Dessert Crush:


Mint Chocolate Chip Cheesecake. YUM. (Forget Ryan Gosling when comparing the yum-factor of these two.) Made best by my sister, Erin. :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

planes, trains, and automobiles

I've tried them all: planes, trains, and automobiles. I've even tried a boat and bicycle here and there. But yesterday, as I was riding the train to Michigan from Chicago, I realized how much more I prefer the train.

If I could, I would turn this into a large three-element Venn diagram (see there is a teacher in me deep down inside even though she's been deprived of her real capabilties for a while now) and really show you what I mean. But I'm not that worried about you figuring it out, nor do I want to spend the time designing that Venn diagram, so here it is in words.

Trains: ...go fast. (Planes and automobiles do this too.)
Trains: ...don't have seatbelt lights/rules. Shoot, they don't even have seatbelts. Getting up and walking around is ... awesome, and it's more than necessary when pregnant (especially when the doctor told you this week you shouldn't be traveling anymore since you're over 34 weeks. Whoops.)
Trains: ...have outlet plugs. (Some automobiles do, and I'm sure there are planes that do, but I've never experienced them.) This feature saves me big time: Cell phone dead (because I played to many games on it out of boredom)? No problem - plug it in. Want to watch a movie on your laptop and not waste away your battery? Plug it in. Have crazy-bad back pain because of a wee-little one in your stomach (or in your life)? Plug in that heatpad and soak in the goodness of relief.
Trains: ...have a food cart. Yesterday was the first time I think I have ever not taken advantage of this feature. Sure, I know that all the food and drinks are overpriced (and frozen to warm in about 30 seconds), but how convinient are they to be ready at the drop of a hat, not slowing down your trip to stop and pick something up, and there's no need to pack extra snacks for the ride.
Trains: ...are not dependent on the weather nearly as much as the other two. Snow does not stop the train from traveling fast (cars can't say the same) or landing safely (planes are guilty here). I'm sure there are times when the train suffers from the woes of bad weather, but I know that it is my go-to method of getting home if the weather turns a little iffy.

All this being said, put me on the train every time. Please. I love being able to have a relaxing ride to wherever I'm headed. And when Amtrak gets wi-fi, trains might compete with heaven. What could be better?

Oh yeah, having possession of Hermoine's Time Turner might be nice to just go appear in places. Maybe someday I will really master the art of Harry Potter-ness, but I'm still struggling with Lumos when I'm laying in bed late at night. Our pesty apartment light just doesn't know the spell.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

better late than never

When the first Harry Potter book came out, I was in 4th or 5th grade, I believe, and a lot of my friends and classmates read it. Then the series started to really pick up speed with the next few books, and if they hadn't ready it before, all my classmates got to reading (some already going on their second or third time through the books.)

When they came out, my parents strictly forbid my siblings and I from reading them because of their content: magic, witches/wizards, dark forces, etc. So, what did I do? I read the first few chapters of the Sorcerer's Stone at school, where they could never find out. I remember bits and pieces of those chapters, but here's the thing - I hated reading growing up. My sister and mom are both avid readers, and I just couldn't understand the principle. So even though I wanted to rebel against my parents and read the "cool" books that everyone else was reading, I didn't actually want to. So I stopped, and never felt like trying that out again.

And then, when I was in late high school and early college, my mom, being the reader that she is and loving to listen to books on tape/CD to get extra "reading" in when she's in the card, started to listen to the Harry Potter series on her way to and from work. She loved it. She powered through the books quickly, and then she (just as quickly?) realized there was no harm in the books. Rather they were good children's literature and didn't press the magical/witchcraft-ness of the content on the reader, but obviously was fictional writing.

And then, the books were officially fair game for all of us. [Thanks, Mom, now that I'm out on my own and can make my own decisions about what content I subject myself to, you allow me to read some juvenile literature.] So, again, I still didn't like to read, so I had little to no interest.

Then I started dating Mr. Allen, and part of dating Mr. Allen was dating his family. [This is a good thing, not a bad thing.] We spent a lot of time around each others' families in our college days, so we got to know each others' siblings and parents well; much better than the average in-laws. We became a part of the other family very quickly.

Well, the Allens are avid readers. Not only that, but Mr. Allen and his two sisters (and I'm sure his parents) all read the Harry Potter series a few times through. They were those Harry-Potter-freaks, you know - the crazy people that dressed up to go to opening night at the theater. [I was only lucky enough to do that for High School Musical 3. Now who's the real freak?!]

Anyway, so I realized I needed to start the series soon or maybe they wouldn't like me anymore. So slowly (as in over a 2 year period) I read book 1 and 2. Then Mr. Allen and I got married (2 more years had passed) and the 7th movie, part 2 was going to be coming out soon. He was excited about its premiere and I felt bad that he would have no one to get excited with him about it. [I had also picked up reading as a hobby in the last few months because, living in Chicago, time to read is plentiful on long commutes.] So I decided to do the impossible(?). I started reading, and I mean POWER-reading, through all the books in a very short time. I know it was less that 2 weeks for sure (and this is HUGE for me, the non-reader) in which I finished books 3-7.

And, guess what, I loved them. We also would celebrate the ending of one book by watching the corresponding movie that night, as I instantly started the next book. I finished book 7 the day before the movie was to come out, we bought our midnight showing tickets, and watched 7 part 1 as we waited for midnight to come.

All this being said, I am not at all mad that I jumped on the bandwagon late. Not just was it late, it was like a decade late. Whoops.

And now, I'm jumping on another bandwagon a little late. The Hunger Games.

I'm over 200 pages into the first book (in 2 days) and love it. Really, I wish that the first book was more like 4 or 5 because there is so much action that moves so quickly. I can't wait to finish the series. I can't wait for the movie to come out next month. I bought Mr. Allen a giftcard to the movie theater for Christmas, and he's been saving it for this event.

I don't feel stupid for reading them later than everyone else. I know it's a little late in the trend, but I also had made the decision to read them back in the early summer. But, again, living in Chicago, getting your hands on a popular book from the library is nearly impossible. You can put a hold on it and still wait months for it to be ready for you. I finally got a copy and am busy tearing through.

So call me a late bloomer, because yes - my passion for reading did show up during year 22.
And call me a bandwagon jumper, because yes - I do love to be in the "know", reading what everyone else is reading.

Moral of the story - go pick up The Hunger Games (if it is that easy for you) and start reading. And if you've never read Harry Potter, it's not too late. I'm proof of that one. Enjoy a book.

PS - Let me know what you're reading/have been reading, I'd love the recommendations!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

finally, a decision

I'd like it if everyone just forgot about the fact that I didn't post for 2 weeks. And that, although I just got finished saying in the last post how I was ready to keep on with "la sencillez de Sunday", she failed. I'm going to just say that, for now, she's over. I'll let you know when I am ready to pick it back up. But for now, I just want to get back to blogging in general, and not be tied down by the stress (yes, it does cause me a little stress) of a weekly schedule. I'm just not that type of blogger yet.

So, saying all that... here's a post. A step back to the basics: baby, me, our life.

I've been wanting to write this post for a while. I didn't know exactly how or when it would be best. ...but here it goes.

A few weeks ago, one of my favorite bloggers wrote a post called "Oh the noise noise noise!" over here. I want you to read it. If you don't... well, I can't stop you from ignoring my wish, so here's a quick synopsis: She was pregnant before all her friends were, before everyone was pushing and shoving to be the one who could get closest to her ear to tell her their oh-so-important (and absolutely-without-a-doubt-perfectly-best) opinion about baby birth. She was allowed the opportunity to work through all the information that is out there about her body, her baby, and the way in which she would approach childbirth. From this freedom, she was allowed to sort through and make her own informed opinion. And now, she feels for those other mamas out there that are in a whirlwind of "noise noise noise" where everyone is overly-eager to share their thoughts and make sure you hear them out (and follow it to the tee.)

I have often during my pregnancy felt stuck in this overwhelming need of others to ask (which is not a problem) and share (sometimes can be a problem) about childbirth. Here in Chicago, in the hipster-area that we live in, and also in the environment I find myself in at church, I felt so overwhelmed with the pressure of you-will-have-this-baby-ALL-natural, and I was so uncomfortable. I wasn't ready to sign my name next to that line. Shoot, a few months back, I was so quick to want to rebel against that bandwagon, that I was going to walk into the hospital begging them immediately for drugs. I didn't really know what I wanted exactly, but I also felt like the choice wasn't mine. I felt like society was making the choice of how my baby was to be born and treated for me.

Wait, am I not the mom? Isn't this baby Mr. Allen's and mine? Don't we get to get a word in?

And although my rebellion was still ready to lead me running in the opposite direction, I kept my head from really spinning out of control and kept reading. I tried to read a lot. I tried to read a little of everything. I did spend some time talking to other mamas, trying to sort through this "noise noise noise" to get to the bottom of my what really were my options, and what did we think was best.

And then yesterday, Mr. Allen and I went to the hospital for our birthing class. It was a mixed-information session basically a little of what is out there. Here's your options, here's what a lot (99.9%) of the mamas that come to this hospital are doing, but to you other ones - we support you too. For the first time in 8 months, I was in an environment that wasn't telling me medicine is evil, that, although my body was made for birthing babies, I could (and maybe should?) choose to let medicine help me through the process.

And, you know what, even though I finally found someone on my side of the whole issue, I was able to more-clearly-than-ever-before make a final decision of what would be happening to my body, my baby, and her wonderful entrance into the world. (Did I really just call HOURS of pain "wonderful"?!) I finally feel comfortable and confident to go into the hospital on the day of, and when they ask, to tell them: this is how everything will be handled today, thank-you-very-much.

So, maybe the moral of this story (if that's even possible), I am so thankful for Ashley's post about the "noise noise noise" that's out there. Because I was surrounded by it. (Disclaimer: I never minded people asking me what my approach would be, please don't think that if you ever asked. Sometimes I was asked in such a pressured way though. And I knew that I would have given you the "wrong" answer, so maybe I painted the picture of my child's birth in such a way that you would like it instead of what I really wanted. But then again, when you asked, I also really didn't know what I wanted.) I'm so thankful that there is so much information out there, that there are options and no one-right-way.

And I am so so SO thankful that I've finally been able to make a decision. That I finally feel ready for this lady to be ready, because now I know how we're going to handle it.

...and all this pressure/information for just a few hours (hopefully) of childbirth. And then, guess what, she's here. And it didn't really matter how she got here, because she will be an absolute beautiful, wonderful miracle.

And she will be ours.
(Boy, does that make me happy.)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

la sencillez de Sunday [window decor]

A quick side-note (or two) before I begin: Just this week I was becoming overwhelmed with the idea of the commitment I had made to my blog with this series. Not only do I have to post once a week (which can be a challenge for me in itself) but I have to be constantly on the look-out for new post ideas of simple-somethings to share with you. I was thinking about maybe quitting the commitment while I'm ahead, only having the series for a few weeks, so I can go out with a bang rather than ending by forgetting to or failing to post because of no new ideas.

However, this week, as I was reading the blogs I subscribe to, I found another project. And it was simple, and it was perfect. And I thought, 'You know, I think I can do this after all. ...that is -- if these ideas just keep falling into my lap.'

But better yet, yesterday, Shane and I had such a wonderful date-day, filled with lots of outings. [Maybe I'll post about it this week. It was just that good... well-worth a post.] One of our outings was to the Urban Folk Circuit, a dual-duty craft show for artisans to sell their work and venue for upcoming local musicians to play their music and start a gathering. [It's like going to a live version of while listening to Spotify. ...aka Awesome!] Anyway, at yesterday's event there was a "make and take" craft for visitors (read:kids), and I decided to take part.

So today's simple craft is coming to you from a lovely lady I met yesterday, the blogging-face of Urban Folk Circuit's website and her own crafting blog-loveliness, Hands Occupied, Heidi. [Thank you, Heidi, for letting me share your craft idea!]

Simple Craft: Pin Prick Art
Supplies needed: cardstock (or paper), thumbtacks (push-pins), cardboard (thicker than cereal box-type), marker

Step one: Make (draw) or find (print) a template for the art piece you want to create. Heidi provided her crafters (seriously, read:kids [under 10] and me [obviously not under 10, but still very much a kid at heart]) with simple outlines of a mitten, a snowflake, or a snowglobe to choose from. Draw or print your template onto a piece of paper, making sure the lines are thick enough to fit a thumbtack into.

Step two: Pile your cardboard, piece of cardstock, and template (in that order from bottom to top) and secure with an extra thumbtack.

Step three: Use a thumbtack to trace/poke the design of your template dot-by-dot along the lines (which, since it is piled underneath, will transfer onto your cardstock piece.)

Step four: Reveal your wonderful design on your cardstock. Tape to a window and, as the sun shines in, enjoy your wonderful, simple artwork.

Obviously the sun wasn't really shining in for me.
But you get the idea. :]
Here are some other examples of pin prick art that I found online which might inspire you to get creative. [By the way, I was totally going to call this artwork piece "light-up window decor" until google revealed its real name, Pin Prick Art. I deemed it much more appropriate.]


This craft would obviously require supervision if you were to do it with children, but it could be really fun for them to display their art in the windows and enjoy it on sunny days. And, I once worked in a kindergarten classroom where the students were each responsible for putting on their own nametags using safety pins. So children of even 4 or 5 could definitely handle this craft, if they are responsible. [Why are safety pins uncannily called safety pins anyway?!]

¿¡Sencillo, no?!

[I told you that a simple-something idea fell into my lap this week from the blogs I read, which means I am already idea-set for next week! That means I will keep on with this series for at least one more. ...and some, I'm sure.]

Simple Truth: Today, I'm going to do something different for the simple truth portion. Instead of writing out a devotional-type essay and feeding you all my thoughts on Scripture, I'm going to leave you with a verse and some lyrics from a song that touched my heart today with its truth.

Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God."

You are God, You are God;
of all else I'm letting go.
(from Forever Reign by Hillsong Live)

The message is sencillo. And yet, I challenge you to -- at least for a moment, for an hour, for a day -- let go of all else and hold onto and know the truth that He is God.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

la sencillez de Sunday [a better grilled cheese]

Simple Recipe: Mozzarella Pesto Grilled Cheese
Ingredients needed: bread, pesto, tomato, mozzarella, butter [optional: turkey, ham, etc.]

Step One: Butter one side of each piece of bread. [to prevent sticking to the pan]

Step Two: Spread pesto on the other side of each piece. [this gets a little messy: pesto on one side, butter on the other]

Step Three: Slice and add tomato to each sandwich.

Step Four: Add mozzarella cheese and close the sandwiches.

Step Five: Put on skillet, fry pan, George Foreman, etc. And when grilled, ENJOY.

I like to call this recipe "a better grilled cheese," because I don't think I will ever go back to the original. :]

¡¿Sencillo, no?!

Simple Truth: Today's simple truth comes from the sermon this morning, titled Love One Another. As a church, we are studying through the "one another" commands in the New Testament. I think this series is going to be good. Anyway, today's: love one another. Often we find it easy, even effortless, to love those one-anothers that are most like us and those that like us. But God's command (not merely a recommendation) to love one another is to love all people as He has loved them. It's not easy. It's not really supposed to be. We are all broken people who are self-absorbed, yet we are to be selfless and reach out, meeting other people's needs. You may wonder why this is so essential. [You may really wonder why it's important when it seems so impossible.] It's not about you or your personal spirituality or personal growth. It's not about the other person you are trying to love. Guess what, they would survive (probably) if you didn't love them the way you are supposed to. It's important because God's important. His glory, His name, His reputation is on the line when we choose to love or not love others. 1 John 4:12 says, "No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." It's all about the glory of God, and providing opportunity for it to shine through us by loving those one-anothers, each and every one.

¡¿Sencillo, no?!
[Well, maybe the message is simple, but the putting-into-action is not so simple. Try it this week. Find someone new to love. Find and meet a need in their life; not for your benefit, nor for theirs, but for the glory of and spread of God's great name.]

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