Sunday, December 28, 2014

2 Weeks In

I'm frantically writing this before a two-week-old little girl wakes up and realizes that 1: I'm not holding her and 2: I should be holding her and feeding her pronto.  Every noise my husband is making is causing me to hold my breath.  We are two weeks in and learning more and more every day.  All the kind feedback, advice and shared stories on my last post (comments on facebook) were so helpful and encouraging.

Uh oh, we made eye contact.  Oh wait, she's going back to sleep.

This is not her current sleeping pose but it is one of many. I love her smiles, even if it's just gas. And believe me, it's definitely gas.

Anyway,  the comments were super encouraging to read because I am definitely feeling that newborn baby isolation I keep reading about.  Breastfeeding is a full time job plus mandatory overtime.  I have not mastered the art of doing it gracefully which has caused me to shy away from having visitors over.  I really want company but have not figured out how to not be shirtless to accommodate my baby.  Friends have been sweetly patient with me as I continue to postpone meet-ups but I have gotten a little stir crazy.  I know I can leave my house, I just don't know how yet.

A couple of weeks before I gave birth I finally finished Maybellene's room and proudly posted pictures on Facebook.  Someone I know later wrote a status about enjoying seeing her expecting friend's pictures of their nurseries and knowing that in no time they will not be in that perfectly clean state.  That stuck with me because I wanted to believe so badly that I would keep her room tidy. I had clothes organized by size and was sure I could keep that up.  Well, after two weeks of baby here are some before and afters:

This wall was perfect, I just needed to re-frame my Dolly Parton print because it was crooked.

I never re-framed it.  And there is junk on that table that doesn't even need to be in the room. I didn't bother to include the floor which has a small handful of things that fell off the table and have not been picked up. Oh and, a water bottle cap is floating around on the floor. Why didn't I pick that up yet?

Diaper Changing table all set up and ready to go. We are going to introduce cloth diapering soon but for now are sticking with disposables while we figure this all out.

Organized closet with shelf ready for blankets and hats and all baby's needs.

And currently? DISASTER!!  That pile of clothes is dirty laundry. It isn't in the basket because the basket is filled with clean clothes that I haven't put away yet.  Hanging stuff up? Yeah right. It's all being shoved into drawers when it does get put away.

This dresser is so clean and clutter-free. Surely it would not become a catch-all for stuff I do not know what to do with yet...

Oh, wait, I was thinking I was someone else. Of course it became a catch-all.

I'm not even going to show you an after of the bed. Lets just say it's where clean clothes go before I can get them shoved into a drawer.

I'm going to pretend that the bed still looks this pristine.

All the books I have read tell me not to worry about cleaning and to just focus on my new baby. I am a rule-follower so that's what I have been doing.  Look at her. Her nursery will be clean some day. 

By the way, I did have to take an hour break in writing this to nurse and hold M. It's better than my last post. That one took me about five hours to get together. I am getting better!

Send chocolate. xoxo

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Beautiful Baby (this title was inevitable, right?)

About two weeks ago I looked like this.  I was excited to see my little girl but thought she was never going to come.  I was also ready to eat sushi, deli meat and sleep on my stomach. But most importantly, little girl.

On Saturday, 12-13-14, I went into the hospital to be induced.  We naively thought we would have deliver on that same day and Maybellene would have a neat birthday.  Look at how optimistic I look. Look at that fresh hair.  Check out the fake tan and light make-up. I wanted to look nice but not like I tried too hard to look nice. I imagined pictures of me holding my baby and looking fresh like Kate Middleton.  The word of the day was Naive.  

Finally Sunday evening, 12/14/14, Maybellene arrived just in time to not have to be delivered by cesarean section.  We were seriously about a half an hour away from having it done when my body changed directions quickly and said, "No! We are doing it this way!"  Something tells me this may be part of Maybellene's personality, make it a struggle and then finally give in.  I don't care how long we argue, she is not getting a tattoo before she is eighteen.
 Look at her, perfect. Maybellene Rae, 19" long and 7 lbs 3 ounces.  The first night my husband and I were terrified.  We had her at 11:00 pm and by the time everything was finished it was past midnight and our family left and the nurses and doctor left and it was just the three of us.  The whole time we were in the hospital it was a total blur.  I held my baby tight and tried to figure out how to be the best parent I could be. I read books and took classes but once I had this tiny creature in front of me my brain melted and I was unsure of everything.

We came home and it was even scarier. I suddenly didn't have a button that would call a nurse to make sure the little wheeze in her breathing was nothing or that she was sleeping and eating the appropriate amount of time. I was so sleep deprived that I continued to ride through the blur and make sure I was doing the best I could.

Putting her in her moses basket was a real highlight.  I had imagined her in it for many months before and now she was finally there.  But the crazy worrier in me can't be totally relaxed while she is in it because I worry she isn't getting enough air in there or that the handle will come down and get in her face.

It's been almost two weeks now and I have spent way too much time worrying.  I worry that I worry too much. I get embarrassed for worrying so much.  Nights are long and we are awake more than asleep so it just gives me more time to worry.  I know this is common for most first time moms so that eases my worries a bit but it has shown me what I really need to work on as a parent. I can promise to fill her bedroom with a million balloons during the night before her birthday so she wakes up to magic. I can read her a million books a day and take her on various adventures and make her yummy healthy treats.  I can do all those things to make her life a beautiful party but until I learn to slow my worries I know I will never be truly present.  So this is the first thing I have learned since Maybellene has entered my world.
 My mom helped me a lot the first week we were home and J's parents came and helped out, too.  Now week two is almost over and the three of us are figuring things and are mostly a long way from where we were that first night.  I think we are even keeping our house cleaner than we ever did before there were three of us.  By we I mostly mean J.  He has been more amazing than I could have hoped.  Because feedings are exclusively up to me he gets much more sleep during the night and does so much work during the day to keep his girls happy and comfortable. I don't know what I'm going to do when he goes back to work.

This picture was taken late one night while we were nursing.  Right after I took it M tossed her cookies on me.  I then went to change her diaper and she peed while I was in the process which meant I had to change her clothes, too. After that we nursed some more and cookies continued to be tossed. I was grateful I had this adorable picture to remind me of the nice quiet moment we had before it all went awry. I'm learning that is also a big part of parenting - sweet little moment followed with vomit and pee- metaphorically and literally.

Upside down baby. She's so serious.

We spent Christmas all alone, just the three of us. My Mother-in-Law had the flu so we had to postpone M's first big holiday.  I had imagined I would still wrap her two gifts I bought her and would make a big fuss of opening them for her but it was such a sleepy, lazy day that the most we did to celebrate was to wear a fun Christmas shirt.  It was all we needed.

Today M needed to sleep off all the sleeping she did the day before. We have been trying out her new swing and I have been trying to not hover over her too much.  What if I didn't put it together right? What if the mobile falls down on her?  What if she starts spitting up and chokes?  These are all the worries I'm working on.  But I still sat close by.  Not all worries will go away so quickly.

And now she's ready for second dinner. Which will be shortly followed up with first dessert.

It's going to be a wild ride!

Friday, November 7, 2014


This has been a weird week. My first week off work did not turn out the way I expected it to.  Disappointing elections, reminders of bills and daily responsibilities, not getting nearly as much done as I hoped.... but the worst thing this week was that my sweet rabbit Rue passed away.  It all happened so quickly and I am still completely stunned.  Wednesday night she was breathing heavily.  I worried that she had a cold and planned on getting her to the vet the next day.  When we woke up Thursday morning we discovered she did not make it through the night.  I could not believe it would happen that fast and I felt so guilty for not being with her in the end.  There is such a void in the house now. I usually chat with her throughout the day and now I catch myself starting to say something to her only to look over and remember she isn't there.  

Here she is when we first brought her home and we still had our other rabbit Luxie. It took the two about a week to get used to each other and then they were best friends.  Lux was in love with Rue and constantly groomed her and kept her close.  For the first six months that we had Rue we joked that she was not our pet, she was Lux's.  After Lux passed away we finally got to make Rue ours.  We got rid of her cage and made her a home in the living room where she could run around and explore. I hope she felt like her life was good.

They were not outdoor bunnies, the just got plenty of outdoor time.

She loved to be pet.  We would sit with her on the couch and she would let us pet her for forever.  When she had to go to the bathroom she would get restless so we knew it was time to put her down. She would run straight to her litter box and take care of business like a lady.

I loved watching her eat treats.  She always got a little mustache the color of her food.  I'm slowly getting used to her not being here but I wish I could have one more chance to sit and pet her.  The same day we lost Rue my Grandmother lost her sweet cat Clover.  Clover was a neighborhood cat who would leave Grandmother little "treats" at her door as a thank you for feeding her and providing her with warm shelter in her basement.  I told my Grandmother that Clover, Rue and Luxie are all together having a blast together.  I'm sure pet heaven is a very fun place to be.

The week wasn't all bad.  I met with a dear friend and started the journey of learning about Nichiren Buddhism.  The practice is so beautiful and I really think it has helped me get through these rougher parts.  I also had a wonderful visit with my doctor this morning and learned that Maybe and I are in good health. He did an ultrasound and she kept her hand over her face the whole time! It would have been frustrating if it wasn't so cute. Maybe she will be really into peek-a-boo.

I am trying to spend my time wisely the rest of this afternoon.  Working in Maybe's room is so overwhelming but I at least have one little section that looks promising.

But then I turn around....  I have hopefully 5 more weeks until she arrives...  I'm not sure if that's enough time to clean up this mess. Help.

I hope you have a great weekend. If you also had a rough week now is the time for things to turn around!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Budget Woes

Go vote today! J and I went early this morning and it felt good.  I wish he didn't have to go to work so soon because it would have been nice to have a post-voting celebratory breakfast. Instead I had a pre-voting celebratory bowl of cheerios. Whether your day includes fancy breakfast or not please go vote.

Yesterday started out well even though I was a bit overwhelmed by the state of our house (I promise it's just unorganized and not yucky).  I couldn't figure out which room to tackle first so I wondered around doing a little bit in each room.  Then the mail came and all productivity came to a halt. Our electricity bill shot up super high and claimed we used 245% more electricity than last October.  I was freaked out and felt doomed.  I sat at the kitchen table and cried because just when I thought we were doing ok and I could take some time to stay home with baby something like this comes along and makes me feel insecure.  After enough time of feeling sorry for myself I finally went outside and checked our meter and realized the numbers were completely off, the reading had been recorded inaccurately.  I called and reported and let out a sigh of relief.  One more bullet dodged.  On the night of my last day of work we thought our furnace broke.  I couldn't breathe while I waited for my husband to figure out what happened.  Again, it got figured out and we feel confident we at least have another winter with it but what happens when it does finally quit?  Eventually we will not be able to avoid something like that happening and that's when I become overcome with worry.  I pinch pennies every chance I can in order to prepare for these possibilities but will there every be a point where I can worry a little less and live a little more?  I have trouble figuring out where to draw the line between being prepared and being terrified of not being prepared enough.  If we had a celebratory fancy breakfast today it would have been served with a side of guilt.

I grew up always wanting things. I wanted clothes and shoes and purses and stuff.  So much stuff.  It's hard breaking from that. I was at a shoe store recently and wanted a pair of shoes so bad.  I even got a coupon in the mail for that shoe store and held on to it for a bit thinking I would finally buy a pair but then life happens and I get a scary electric bill that reminds me of our reality.  It forces me to let go of feeling like I need so many things but it is still an adjustment. I know that my problems are so minuscule when compared to so many problems in the world but these are the little things I'm working on overcoming.

Today I am tightening our grocery budget again so that we may start prioritizing what is important in our life.  I think taking control in some areas will help us have a little fun in other areas.

Do you guys have any money-saving tips?  Do you also struggle with finding a proper balance with spending and saving?  I'm all ears!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Indefinite Maternity Leave

I have been on a blogging hiatus because I have been storing all my thoughts internally.  Every time I think I should write something down I'm not sure what to say.  My mind is in overload and I suppose a lot of it could be hormones that are whipping me every which way.

Today starts my officially official first day of my indefinite maternity leave. I know I have been unemployed before with question marks hanging over the future but this time feels so much for bizarre because it feels very permanent.  With a baby coming soon, that is a job that I don't really know how to train for.  I'm excited and nervous and scared and overwhelmed and feel completely unprepared for this big adventure.  It seems all I can really do is clean my house and finally learn how to organize.  Does that gene kick in when you have a baby? I hope for her sake it does.  I am a pretty terrible housekeeper and my hormones have made eating a chore so I'm not even good at grocery shopping and making dinners these days.  I hope to document this journey here while also keeping up with my online shop, making dolls every chance that I can and exploring new ways of artmaking.  I will admit that I am terrified that I will lose that part of myself.  All I know how to do is sit in my studio and make stuff.  For the past month I have not been anywhere near my studio.  I know it's going to be up to me to make that extra effort to find the time to keep up with my own interests.  It's my own fault if I don't.

Lets talk fun stuff.  I have had several showers in the past month.  My sweet friends had a shower for me and they pulled out all the stops. Courtney, Robyn, Bryanne and Janey hosted and it was mostly book club friends and co-workers and my sister and Mom who drove up from Kentucky.  There was also a very special guest from Slovakia who was visiting her daughter on her first trip to America. It was a real honor to have her there celebrating with me.  Here are some highlights of the beautiful day.

Photos taken by Robyn.  To see her process of making the invitation check it out on her blog here.

Courtney killed it with the Pinterest-Approved treats.

Robyn made the beautiful leaf garlands. 

I had trouble choosing my cupcake. I wanted all the bunnies and deer!

Bryanne made beautiful flower arrangements.
 The girls kept me in the dark on most of the shower things. It was so fun to arrive and see everything they had been planning over the last couple of months.  The one thing I did get to help with was the "photo booth" backdrop.  I'm not sure if I have said before but the baby's name is Maybellene and her nickname will be Maybe. I know the Maybe part throws people off if they don't know the whole story.
My mom and sister and I as little critters.
I loved the Fall/Woodland theme.

There was a craft table! Everyone got to make their own party favors.

They also made pendants for a garland for Maybellene's room. Pictures of that soon.

Cutie Critter Friends.

No shower is complete without actual children.

My party "throne" was surrounded in balloons and gifts.

A thoughtful guest collected my ribbons and made me a bonnet. I decided I should wear this to the delivery. ( ;
Some of the beautiful crafting results.

The hostesses.
That was such a beautiful day and having my mom and sister here made it even more special.  I am excited for Maybellene to meet all of these amazing women that are in my life.

Today I'm going to start cleaning, so begins the nesting period.  My biggest challenge is not eating the leftover Halloween candy. Maybe just one piece will be okay.

Thank you for reading. <3 p="">

Monday, June 30, 2014

Clean Up Clean Out

If you follow me on instagram (abeautifulparty) then you may have seen me on there this weekend trying to do anything but clean my studio.  The great clean up and clean out began sometime last week. I am ready to start taking my work in a different direction so the first thing I had to do was change my creative space.  I am such a hoarder when it comes to anything arts/craft-making. I was starting to realize that having all that stuff made it difficult for me to decide on things to make because I could make anything. I need some limitations in order to come up with creative solutions. At least... that's what I like to tell myself. I also love excuses.
 In the last few weeks I have been thinking about the things I truly want to make.  After making my first doll I am in love with the process but I know that in order to get better I need to give it my all. So now my studio is set up for doll making.  The only thing that kept me going all weekend long was knowing that as soon as I was done I could start making more dolls.

The stats:
Over the weekend I binged watched season 1 and most of season 2 of Orange is the New Black.  I got through 7 levels of Candy Crush (why did I download that stupid game?!) I made one box of Goodwill donations, a large box for consignment and a pile of stuff to give away to friends.  I got rid of two and a half bags of garbage and 2 trashcan-size recycle bin recyclables.  I ate a mini Dairy Queen M&M blizzard.

 It's also really important that I have a good space to make art.  I love this weird "booth" that holds all my supplies so easily.
 My walls are covered in inspiration including these prints from people I admire.

 Look at those organization skills! I didn't know I had it in me! I promise promise promise to keep it up.

So last night around 8:00 I finally got to make a doll! I have been wanting to make tiny dolls that will be perfect for newborn baby hands.  And I just realized I never shared on my blog the first doll I made. It is the second photo.

And I just realized I never shared on my blog the first doll I made. Both dolls are not made from patterns. I wanted to try to figure out the construction on my own in order to understand the process better but I think I definitely need to start looking at patterns now.  The tiny doll had some definite problems. Her ears came out a little funky and her face did not get properly sewn in so there is a little hole for stuffing to come out.  I was also in such a hurry to make this that i sewed the back piece on backwards. Rookie mistakes.  My first rabbit, below, also has some goofy mistakes but I love her anyway.  I am hoping by the end of the day I'll have a new doll that is almost perfect.  Did I mention I love this?

Thanks for taking a look around.  Now I have the rest of my house to clean but I may just hide out down here forever and forget that the rest exists.