Monday, March 26, 2012

Painty cheeriness

There was once an ugly canvas painting that I cut out with an exacto knife, then kept the remaining frame that the canvas had been stretched over.  Since then, I've had plans for that frame, and today I finally put those plans into action.  It went something like this:

Hey there, wooden frame.  How about you get hung right there (in the upper right corner of the photo... it's a strange photo).

While Alice finished up her nap, I took my paints out to the porch and started dollin' it up. I didn't have an exact plan, but that's how all crafty things start, I think.

Then Alice woke up!  She apologizes for still being in her pajamas.

(She loooved being on the porch with me, but as soon as we got inside, she was ready for another nap!  It plum wore her out.)

Aaaand done.  "R" for Roberts and "2828" because that, my friends, is our address.

Ta-da!  I like it.  Very inexpensive and totally easy -- you should give it a try.

And now I'm going to take a nap because I'm allergic to spring.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A little baby shares a lot.

Good Friday to you!  The post today is brought to you by none other than Alice Clementine.  Being six months old, she has a lot to share with you all.  I leave the rest to you, Alice.

Hi, guys.  Because I'm so grown up, my mom took some pictures of me today.

I had a super good time getting my pictures taken, as I always do. I really don't get upset a whole lot but some things that I don't like are:

Being somewhere new for too long.  Being sleepy.  Mom cleaning under my neck/chins.  Loud noises.  My teeth hurting (when my teeth hurt, I get to suck on a little homeopathic pellet, and that is pretty tasty).  And lately I just think it's pretty bad when mom and dad are standing there, but someone else is holding me -- what is up with that??

I love scratching things and putting things in my mouth.  Mom lets me scratch almost everything, except her face and my tummy. When I scratch my tummy, it makes these red lines -- it's really cool.  But mom thinks it's better without the red lines.

I also LOVE it when daddy comes home.  I don't know where he goes all day, but it must be pretty great, because he always comes home smiling when he sees me.  Mom is always around and we hang out a lot.  We do the same thing most of the time.

A lot of times, people that I don't know come up and smile at me and say that I'm adorable.  Isn't that so nice, you guys?  It makes me happy and sometimes it makes me squeal.  Squealing is so much fun!  But sometimes I forget about squealing because I get so busy looking around and thinking.  There's so much to think about.

Ya know what else I love?  I love it so much.  I love it when mommy sings.  If I'm in my jumper, it makes me jump up and down when she sings.  If I'm lying down, I kick my legs and smile really big so that she knows I like it.  My favorite is "The Wizard and I" from Wicked... for real.  Someday we'll sing songs together, but I'm just a baby right now.

Other things I love: 
Funny kisses.
My Sophie giraffe toy.
My pacifier.
Jumping in my jumper.

Don't even get me started on milkies... they are my favorite food.  Sometimes mom tries to give me other stuff, but I really don't know why, because milkies are clearly my favorite.  Some people call it "milk," but I'm a baby, so I obviously add "ee" to everything.  Cut me some slack, guys.

Thank you so much for letting me share with you all of my favorite things and some of the things that are not fun!  I'm already learning that the world revolves around me, so getting the opportunity to star in a post bolsters that even more!  Yay!

Thank you!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fresh routines, scowling at life, and how to use a rotten apple.

"Hi, my life is perfect -- and I'm skinny."

Sometimes it feels like everyone's life looks like the woman's pictured above: perfect and put together.  Everyone's except ours, of course.

When I first married Caleb, I had just graduated college and was working full time.  "Home" was the place you retreated to after work and relaxed in on the weekends.  "Housework" meant picking up your things and maybe wiping down the tiny bathroom, vacuuming every other week, and lugging a load of laundry to the laundromat once a week (every other week when you're extra poor).  Cleaning wasn't a big deal and, really, cooking wasn't much of a big deal either.  Caleb or I usually came home from work and would throw something healthy/relatively healthy together and often eat it on the couch with our feet kicked up.  It was dreamy!  For some reason, I didn't think that when I switched to full-time, stay-at-home wife-mom, it would be much of an adjustment.  That was silly.  Since my role as wife has taken a turn and my days have become almost, if not completely, home-obsessed, it has been too easy for me to get so caught up in my so-called important routine, that it blinds me from what wife life looks like when lived to the fullest.

Back in that little newly-married apartment, I longed to be Housewife -- not working outside of the home full-time.  And when I got pregnant, we moved (that's a story for another time), and I stayed at home, I realized: wow!  There's more to do in a home than I thought!  Our little house isn't a whole lot bigger than our apartment... it wasn't the size of our home that changed things.  It was BEING home that changed things.  Suddenly, there was absolutely no reason to throw together a "quick" dinner.  There was no reason to procrastinate laundry to the weekend.  And there was no tolerance of throwing something in a closet... because you are with that closet  "Sticking that in there for now" is not an option when you are keeping a home.  There's an entire shift in perspective -- your home is no longer your weekend getaway.  Your home becomes everything you live and breath and love and -- sometimes -- hate.  Your home is your workplace and  your vacation spot.  Your linens to wash and your Bed & Breakfast.  Your private cottage and your party spot.  It is, by very nature, you.  And you define it for your family.

By no means am I telling the working moms/wives out there that they do not care about their homes.  But I am saying that your home looks like something completely different when it is your job.  Sometimes I tire of my job. Thankfully, most of the time I love to feel my heart grow more dedicated to the task of loving my job.  Because loving my job means loving my life.  I love how the mundane task of washing the dishes can suddenly become an inspiring, fulfilling task.  I love how making the bed every morning becomes a habit, not a chore.  I love how a life made up of multiple "chores" becomes simply living life, getting things done, and investing yourself in the things (and people) that surround you.

In all of this learning, investing, and loving, there are times when you get stuck in a rut.  Everyday becomes a rush to clean up and make your house look perfect (and sometimes unreachably, unrealistically perfect).  Occasionally, this desire to make things perfect leads to discontent -- why can't we get a new rug?  why is everything so time consuming?  why can't my husband bring me a giant bouquet of fresh flowers after work everyday and then I could put them on our table and our house could be so amazing and our life would look like the fairytale it's supposed to look like?  You get the idea.  Sometimes you throw yourself into something so completely that you literally turn the tables on yourself and then wonder why it doesn't look right.  Well, sometimes all it takes is straightening up the table and spreading out a new table cloth.

Sometimes all it takes is a special dinner that was practical in no way.  It takes putting your routine on hold to "waste your time" by crafting a little card for your friend's baby shower.  It takes sewing a colorful flower to a pillow to "unnecessarily" brighten up a room.  It takes bearing so much fruit, that you don't care if it falls off your branches and lands on the ground.  This fruit-bearing illustration is one that Rachel Jankovic creates in her book Loving the Little Years*, but I think it's an illustration that applies to all of us, not just mommies.  She makes fruit-bearing sound so simple and sweet,

" some ways we have let our cultural admiration for efficiency get into places that it doesn't belong.  Speaking for myself, sometimes I am working away on something and just cannot shake the question 'Why am I doing this?  Is this a ridiculous use of my time? Should I be doing something that matters[...]?  But it is very freeing to laugh at yourself -- laugh when you know that apple you were working on may very well fall to the ground, and who cares?  But the chances are good that the more fruit you make the more fruit gets used.  The more you throw yourself into heavy branches, the more inviting the fruit, the more people it is likely to feed. [...]  Be bountiful with your fruit and free with it.  The only thing that you can know for certain is that God will use it."

There are times in my home when it feels like the fruit-bearing has become a lovely habit, then are times when those habits become so stagnant that they start tasting like sour grapes -- it must be the fluctuation of the seasons.

All tired metaphors aside, there's a little reminder that will hopefully refresh your day as much as it does mine.  Housewife, mom, woman, girl, boy, man, puppy -- whoever you are -- may your apples drop like rain and either feed or fertilize.  Don't be afraid to make an apple pie because it's not in your routine or it's a waste of time.  Just make it, open the windows if it burns... and then get back to work because your life and home need to look more idyllic than your Pinterest boards.  Just kidding.

*Rachel's book
*The blog

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday In Pictures

Morning -

Afternoon -

Alice's first sippy cup.  We bought her one because it's cute when she drinks from it because she needed it.

Evening -

After Alice went down -

The end.

Good afternoon!

It's a rainy day and we love it.
I will be taking pictures throughout the day, and plan to share my (hopefully) blissful day with you this evening.  Stay tuned!

-Julie and Baby Alice

Friday, March 16, 2012

Stomachs, babies, happiness, and death.

When husband has the stomach flu, I feel like I have it too.

Whoa, is Dr. Suess in here?  No, it's just clever ol' me.

Back to the topic those rhyming words brought on, Caleb has had the stomach flu all week long.  It's awful and sad to see him so sick... he caught it on Monday, and even by today he is having trouble keeping food in his stomach.  What might be worst of all is how quiet Caleb is when he's sick.  Normally, he ignites our conversations -- and can carry them on for hours (which I love).  But the past couple of days, if my brain impulses me to say anything at all, he has a 1-2 word response... maybe a sentence, if he's feeling particularly good.  :(  It makes for a sad, sad little house.

On the bright side, Alice is completely oblivious to her surroundings, and is therefore happy as a clam.  While Caleb is lying in bed with his face under the covers, Alice can be heard squeaking toys and babbling like a crazy baby.  If that's not adorable AND cheery, I don't know what is.  She is probably the best medicine for daddy.  Mm, I love those huge smiles she hands out.

I am so very ready for a healthy husband -- for his sake and, let's be honest, for mine.  It's just sad to be in a rain cloud house with two very needy people who can't really talk.  But my state doesn't compare to the misery Caleb is enduring.  Alice is most certainly enduring nothing but utter bliss.  As I write, she is snuggled in a light blanket with the ceiling fan turning softly above her, in a dimly lit room.  She has a full belly and a pacifier mouth.  I don't think any of us will be as comfortable as a baby until we die.  Death = comfort now, I guess.

Well, if you read all that, thank you for enduring the ramblings of a wife who might be sticking her toe in the waters of loop-de-loop, about to lose it, delirium.  I think I need to lie down now because I have a fever... cabin fever.  Boom.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring spring spring

Happy front porch

Is it gorgeous where you are? It is BEAUTIFUL here.  Hello, spring!  I am sitting on my couch with the front door open.  The birds hopping around on our front lawn sound like little people sneaking up on me.  But they mean no harm.

It's been a strange morning.  I had planned to take Alice to my mom's, so I could help out with her cookie business today.  Alas, Caleb spent the night with a terrible stomach virus, and he needs a wife at home to take care of him.  Conversational proof:

Me:  Caleb, I cannot leave you today.  You can't take care of yourself.
Caleb:  Yes, I can.  I can just drink some water.

Water has been known to nourish and cure all kinds of illnesses.
Needless to say, I stayed home.

What does the day hold now?  I feel like I have a bonus day, since my plans have been canceled (leaving my mom to find some way to get through the orders alone... :(  ).

Alice has been a chatter box, screaming-like-a-girl, crazy head today.  She doesn't know what illness is yet.

Best face

Sneaky face

Licking-the-teether face?

And, since she looks so cute with a pacie, we'll end here:

Arm is waving, trying to grab the camera... eyes are dazed with exhaustion. 
Happy spring!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sweets and Muffin Tops (<-- the human kind)

It's real.

So is this.

I can't eat that stuff.  I've given up sweets.  Not for Lent, because I started my "no sweets" rule after Lent, so I feel like it would be cheating to say that I'm giving up sweets for Lent. Another reason I feel like it would be cheating is because, in all honesty, I'm giving up sweets in hopes of losing weight.  For anyone who hasn't had a kid: that baby belly doesn't just magically disappear once the baby is born.  What once was a cute, firm bulge that strangers wanted to touch, is now a gelatinous excess that prevents normal jeans from buttoning.  Though I've lost weight simply by nursing Alice, it's time to take action.  Summer is upon us.  This means lighter clothes are coming.  I don't think the world needs to partake in my muffin top any longer than it already has.

For all of you self-esteem people out there: I'm not beating myself up.  I'm not pressured by society's standard of what a woman should look like.  I've got leftover baby belly and that's all there is to it.

For all of you "ooooh, I could never have a baby -- the stretch marks!" [married] people:  Have one.  You really don't care what you look like, once you get a glimpse of a face as cute as this:

Then again, I can guarantee that your child won't even match such cuteness... so maybe you should reconsider, after all.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

You're gonna learn a lot, kid

This fairly cool person tagged me and I must fulfill my duties by responding to that tag.  Es muy importante!  If that sentence is correct on all fronts, I am well pleased.  Don't you dare stop reading.  This is my moment to shine.

  1. Post these rules.
  2. Post a photo of yourself and 11 random things.
  3. Answer the questions set for you in the original post.
  4. Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.
  5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you've tagged them

2008, date with Caleb (it's important to be subdued and feminine when on a date, right?).

Eleven random thiiiiings:

1.  A cheeseburger without cheese is worthless.  Wouldn't even touch it.
2.  I love to feel like I'm getting ahead in life ("Oo, I'll clean out this cabinet, and someday when we move, I won't have to worry about this cabinet full of junk!" ...)
3.  My ultimate, craziest, wildest dream growing up was to get married, have a baby (or many babies), and be a housewife/mom forever after.  Everyday, I cannot believe that dream has been fulfilled.  It truly amazes me.
4.  I miss acting very much.  I reassure myself that I'll get to act in the afterlife.
5.  Wet things are gross -- the wet shampoo bottle in the shower, the random wet spot on the floor (what could it BE?), and worst of all... something wet absorbing into your socked foot.  EW.
6. Animals with people names are my favorite (Chad, Laura, David, Mary, Kristen, Justin... I could go on)
7.  When hearing someone tell a story, it is often difficult for me to pay attention to the many details because I'm so eager to hear the bottom line.  Tell me what the point of the story is, and I can listen much better to how all events led up to that moment.
8.  I guess this is ironic, given the statement above, but I HATE knowing anything about a movie before I go into it.  If the trailer intrigues me, that's all I want to know!  I don't even like reading the back of DVDs.
9.  The only reason I ever do anything weird is to watch people's reactions.  Childish?  Yes.  But fulfilling?  Most definitely.
10.  I never had a crush on anyone.  Until I met my husband. 
11.  Sometimes listening to music while I work is counter-productive because I just end up stopping what I'm doing to perform the song.

All right, Jensquare, let's answer these here questions.

1. If nutrition had nothing to do with it, what ONE FOOD would you chose to live on for the rest of your life?
This is so hard... either key lime pie, french fries, or chocolate pot de creme.  I can't decide, okay?  Probably french fries.

2. If you wrote your autobiography, what would you call it?
Ooo.  "Stupid Title, Incredible Story"

3. What movie or book character do you relate to the most?
I've always felt like I had a connection with Elizabeth Bennet.  Sometimes I think I can relate to Jo March's latter half of life.  But if we're going to be realistic here: Mary Poppins.

4. If you could take one singer out of the music industry (this person would find another profession), who would it be?
For some reason, I don't really care.  But let's just say Ke$ha (does she count as a music artist?)

5. You can invite three tv characters over for dinner (not the actors who portray them). Who do you invite?
April Ludgate.  Michael Scott.  Elmo.  We'd make such great conversation!!

6. If you had to pack your bags today and move somewhere for a year, where would it be?
Charleston, South Carolina.  Duh and duh.  Okay, or maybe London.  I change my mind!  London.

7. If you could be an expert at anything, with no training, what would it be?
Can you be a Broadway singing expert?  Probably not.  How aboooout... graphic design.  Then my world could look extra lovely.  Or carpentry. haaaaaaaaa

8. What do you wish you were brave enough to do?
Cliff jumping... when you wear those crazy jumpsuits and literally FLY.  Oh my word.  

9. If you had to build your home out of your own two hands, with no help from anyone, what would it look like and how modern would it be?
It would look TERRIBLE.  But if I were capable of building my own home, it would be very square.  White.  Wooden, with maybe some red bricks bordering the bottom.  Two stories.  Lots of windows.  It wouldn't be very modern, but it would be sleek and clean.  Lots of white... white is beautiful.  Wooden floors, big, beautiful rugs.  Well, it would be pretty great.

10. Who is one person in history you have a lot of respect for?
Jenny!  I'm going to look so stupid answering this question.  I don't know enough history to truly explore my options.  I'll say Queen Elizabeth.  She wasn't their ideal pick, but she didn't care... she just went out there and led excellently. She was intelligent, a devout Christian, AND she was brave enough to do it all without being married (I mean, seriously).

11. What character quality stands out to you as being very admirable, and why?
If being assertive is a character quality, then definitely that.  People who speak up and do it well... it amazes me.  It was the first quality I noticed in Caleb.  People who know how to measure their words... to say just what they need to say, and know when to stop.  Would that be prudence?  My official answer:  Prudently exercised assertion.

All right, now I'm tagging Jennifer (I'm pretty sure you haven't done this).  My questions to you:

1.  If you had to stare at one thing and one thing alone for an entire week, what would it be?
2.  You are stranded in the scariest city in Europe for five days(I'm sure you've visited said city).  You have only 3 things in your purse.  What MUST these three things be?
3.  You get married and give birth to twins!  A boy and a girl -- what are their names?
4.  Oh, no.  Your mom's cooking skills have suddenly been limited to making/baking ONE thing.  The good thing is, it's your favorite... so what is it?
5.  If you could choose any character quality to be your strongest, what would that quality be?
6.  Someone walks up to you with one billion dollars and says you have one day to spend this on whatever you want -- after 24 hours, you don't have access to it any more.  What do you do for the day?
7.  What is one thing you wish you could do or be that you are quite sure will never happen?
8.  You get to be a celebrity for a day!  Who would you be?
9.  What food do you truly despise?
10.  What song do you sing and/or play the most?
11.  You can go back in childhood to one day.  Which day do you choose?