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