Thursday, March 31, 2011

bless the little children

oops, i did it again. so, it's been a whole 'nother month since my last post. i've still been super busy, but i do have a lot to share. babylove's first birthday party was this past weekend. since she's now officially a big girl, i might need to come up with a different name for her besides babylove. any ideas?

i didn't have my camera with me as it has been m.i.a. for a little while, so i'm still waiting for pictures from friends so that i can share them here. things turned out really well and everyone seemed to have a good time.

as my little girl grows up, i've been faced with the reality that my illusion of the perfectly structured life that i had for myself was just that, an illusion. i've really had to deal with letting go of my desire to be in control of all aspects of my and her lives. i think it's the chaos theory that states that once an event happens, it sets in motion a sequence of events that in turn affect other things ad infinitum. okay, so maybe part of that was the butterfly effect, but you get the idea. without the benefit of knowing the future, there's really nothing we can do to change whatever the end result of our choices will be.

my first adjustment came soon after giving birth, when i had to turn my newly born kid over to the nurses and doctors for awhile for them to do their nursing and doctoring on her. now, some of y'all might know that i have a slightly overactive imagination (fueled by watching way too many episodes of dateline and 48 hours mystery). but, after 9+ months of being her only protector, this was very hard for me.

i kid you not, i actually searched my baby for identifying features before i would hand her over just to make sure that i could tell if they brought back the wrong baby. hey, it could happen!

then, came the grandparents, family members and well meaning strangers with their advice and traditions and idiosyncracies. i really had to learn to let most of it roll off of my back (a lesson i'm still trying to learn, by the way) and to only intervene when i felt it was absolutely necessary. in other words, pick my battles. but that's going off into a whole other topic which i may or may not get into...

back to my original point, which is: once you pop out your kid, they become a member of a circle of family and friends and the world at large. most of these people have good intentions, but that doesn't always translate to what is best. case in point, babylove's new daycare teacher that loves to try to tame my kid's curls by pulling her hair into too tight ponytails when she gets to school. yeah, i know she means well, but after the third or fourth time in a week...we may have to have a talk soon.

and while there seem to be pretty straightforward ways to physically shield your kids from people like kidnappers and pedophiles, how do you protect their minds from the influence of their future peers, or images on television, or facebook? how do you protect them from people that you YOURSELF have entrusted to care for them?

as a parent, i know i've fixated on things like breastfeeding for the full 12 months, keeping her away from second-hand (and third-hand!) smoke and having her in a rear-facing car seat until she's two. but the bottom line is that despite our best efforts to love and protect our kids while they are still kids, they are their own independent beings who will one day have to stand on their own two feet and make their own decisions.

unfortunately for two families that i've recently learned about, their daughter and son both unwittingly made choices that started the chain of events that ultimately ended up costing them their lives. their stories are just heartbreaking and i can't imagine the pain that these parents must feel.

i really feel that the only defense that i have against the uncertainty is my christian faith. i've always been a believer, but i want to actively show my daughter what it means to have faith in God. just like i try to give her an appreciation for books by reading to her, i want her faith to be something that she will learn from her parents and continue to embrace as she gets older. i say prayers with her every night before she goes to bed and we go to church on sundays. she even goes to a christian daycare, but i want to make sure that i'm doing my part to instill those values in her.

i started a new practice of actually praying for her (and my future unborn kiddos) daily and just speaking God's word and promises over her life. even though i haven't heard any direct messages from God about her so far, i figured that prayer would be a better alternative than locking her in her room for the rest of her life.

has becoming a parent changed your outlook on life and the world? how so?

click on the links for more information about shelby allen and henry granju.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

the shortest month of the year

i can't believe it's march already! where did the time go? i know february is the shortest month of the year, but MAN!

i've had so much going on at work, and home and on the side, that i haven't even had the time or energy to write about it. i have been on my major grind/hustle (grustle?) in the last month or so. i hope to share details and good news sometime soon.

since i was m.i.a. the whole month of february, let me give you a quick recap:
at the beginning of the month, the biggest game in sports took place in my hometown. with ticket prices running north of $500 (for the cheap seats!), we definitely weren't going to make the game, but i still wanted to experience a little piece of the action so we drove up from h-town and hang out while giving my folks some always appreciated time with babylove. gotta love free babysitting.

after almost having to scrap our plans due to a freak winter ice storm we ended up taking in a comedy show, and babylove got to experience her first taste (literally) of snow since it came down really heavy in the dallas area.

she's so fricking cute!

we ended up having a cool time with my family before heading back to houston.

i started back working out with a vengeance all through the month and even had a couple of sessions with a personal trainer to kick-start me into getting back in shape in time for babylove's first birthday, which is coming up soon. i'm trying to avoid being that chick that blames the loss of her figure on having a baby, even though said "baby" is now 6 years old.

i'm not really big on weighing myself, which i should probably start doing since i'm convinced that i have body dysmorphia when it comes to my weight. but a few of my clothes are getting looser and my hubby has even noticed, so i guess i'm on the right track.

the trainer did take some baseline measurements, but i never got the ending measurements. it was one of those groupon deals where i got 3 free sessions for super cheap. but the whole time i was really dreading the hard sell at the end, so after my 3rd (and supposedly final) session, when the trainer offered to let me come one more time, i took that as the perfect opportunity to later cancel by text, thereby eliminating any awkward interactions on my part. yay for texting!

i've already started march off with a bang, but the one thing that i've started doing in the last few weeks is to really take time out daily to read my Bible and meditate on the word and try to really figure out what God has in store for me. i'm just bursting with ideas and don't even the energy to get everything done, so i just want to make sure that i'm on the right path and using my time and resources as wisely as possible.

until next time...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

retail therapy

i was off of work on MLK day and decided to drop babylove off at daycare and take a day for myself. i had a rough start because i was sick, it was overcast and cold outside and seemed like it would start pouring at any minute. not good since i had an appointment to get my hair blown out first thing in the morning. blowouts + rain = no bueno. i grabbed the first outfit i could get my hands on, and looking far from on point, i rushed out to my appointment.

afterwards, i fully intended to head home and take shelter within the confines of my bed. but i had to run to target to buy diapers for the little one. while i was there, i strolled through the dollar section, which is hands-down my favorite place in the store. where else can you find so many things that you never knew that you needed--and for only a dollar?

scarf hanger for my pashminas, books for bablove and picture frames for grandmas

after trolling through the dollar section, i decided to take a look at the clothing section-specifically "office"-y clothes. i'm pretty happy with my current selection of clothes, except for one big problem-70% of them don't fit since having the baby. i've already met with a personal trainer and fully intend to lose at least 10lbs in the next few months to get back into my pre-baby clothes, plus a few more to get back to my target weight.

but since i got rid during of a big bag of things that don't really match my style anymore during the closet purge of 2011, i feel like i have absolutely nothing to wear and it's become a chore to try to piece together my outfits each morning.

right then, i decided that it was time for a retail intervention. no more squeezing into ill-fitting clothes that accentuate problem areas and shoot holes in my self image. i needed to pick up a few new basics hat actually fit me at my current size.

i bought two pairs of pants in black and dark gray, and i also bought a cute reinforced cami for layering under shirts that can't quite button all the way yet. i was on a roll by this point, so i checked out the shoe section but didn't see anything that i wanted there, but i did pick up a pair of gray tights.

by the time i left target, i was in a much better mood. the sun was shining outside, which i took as a positive affirmation of my efforts, so i decided that some new shoes would go well with my new attitude.
i only had 3 hours left until it was time to pick up babylove from daycare, so i headed over to the nearest outlet mall to hit up the most stores in a limited amount of time.
sometime during the last 20 odd months that i was pregnant and then adjusting to being a new mom, something happened that caught me totally off guard: the pointy-toed look went completely out of style. as the owner of more than a few pairs of pointy boots and pumps i was looking (and feeling) a little outdated.
now, back in the day, i would go all out with the shoe shopping. we're talking scouring the internet, dsw and the department stores. but with the introduction of daycare bills and baby food, i planned to part with as few dollars as possible in my quest to find the cutest trendy boot on a budget.

i ended up with these knee length slouchy boots that were on sale in the store for $25. i stopped by another shoe stores to get a pair of cute black pumps to replace the pointy ones that i usually wear to work. i was looking for a pair of knee high brown leather slouchy boots, but struck out on that one.
i did pick up a few more camis in pink and black and a basic white long sleeved t-shirt. can you tell that i love to layer?
i had a gift card to forever XXI, so i stopped in there and was immediately overwhelmed with stripes and more stripes. apparently the nautical look and stripes are in this season. in keeping with this i picked up these two shirts with a little money left over. i was a little wary about the whole horizontal stripes thing, but they looked okay on me.
when i got home, i hopped online and found these gray booties, and this post inspired me to try a pair of gold ballet flats. i already had the mustard tights, but haven't worked up the nerve to pair them yet. i think it a white sweater with a tan or navy skirt and maroon accents might really work with this look.

pretty much everything that i bought was your run of the mill basic piece, so i decided to walk a little on the wild side and pick up these FIERCE shoes with a gift card that i got for christmas. i love me a peeptoe pump. and in blue and black snakeskin embossed leather? yes please!

i have to say that i instantly felt more confident about my clothing outlook after my bout of retail therapy. i have good accessories, but it's the basic pieces like shoes and pants that are the backbone of a wardrobe. plus, well fitting clothes always look better on than clothes that are too tight.
i've got a new spring in my step and i feel like that kid that came back from summer break with a whole new wardrobe. i'm already having fun mixing and matching away.

need inspiration for your new look? check out this great style blog that i recently discovered!

new year, old me

so far, the new year is off to a decent start. babylove's first christmas was a pretty fun occasion. aside from her eating more than a few pieces of wrapping paper, i would say we had your typical fun christmas morning. actually, it was afternoon by the time we got out of bed since we were out late to a christmas eve party and church the night before.

i really liked the way my christmas decorations came out this year. i went with muted white, gold and bronze ornaments on the tree, and quilted cream stockings with a garland and mercury glass candle holders on the mantel.

last year i hit up a ton of after christmas sales to build up my stock for this year and it didn't disappoint. what is disappointing is that my camera/laptop/the internet decided to eat my pictures, so i've got nothing to show you. i've looked everywhere and can't find them. if i locate them (and if i still care by then) i'll go ahead and post them later. boo.

i don't usually go in for the whole new year's resolution hype, but i have been in a very restless mood lately. i feel like i have finally snapped out of the whole physical and psychological shock that is bringing a new life into this world. it's like for the last 10 months, i've been in a kind of fog tending to babylove's needs and putting myself on the backburner. which is not a bad thing, but after pouring all of my love and efforts into her, i just barely had enough energy left to eat, sleep and drag myself to work everyday. but i'm back *itches!!

i decided that the key to getting things back on track and simplifying my hectic life is to eliminate all the clutter that's been building up around the house since i had the baby. i've been sifting through all of my clothes, shoes and other household items to get rid of things that we no longer need and that are just in the way.

i started with babylove's room, where over time i had accumulated a huge pile of all of the clothes that she has outgrown in one corner of the room. i separated the clothes into two piles "newborn baby" and "bigger baby", then folded and arranged them in size order in two plastic tubs that i stored away in her closet.

after i finished that, i officially packed away my maternity clothes, some of which, i have to admit, that i had still been wearing close to 9 months post baby. yeah, i know. gotta do better.

i instantly felt better about after getting these tasks out of the way. i still have a lot more to do and i've giving myself until babylove's first birthday in march to get myself together.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

the new guest room

my goal for the guest room was to take a modern hotel room and give it an eclectic "world-traveler" vibe. the space also had to be comfortable for guests, but with low maintenance fabrics that could easily be thrown into the washing machine for cleaning.

these two pictures were my inspiration:

kristin cavallari's living room (shelterpop)

using those pictures, i came up with this mock up for the room:

here's the guest room before:

the headboard is partially moved away from the wall because
i remembered (mid move) that i needed a "before" pic.

the area between the bed and the closet

and here is the guest room after:

i like that the overall effect is simple but sophisticated. i kept the original lamp, nightstand and bookcase that were in the room. i practicallly STALKED the painting over the bed for a few months before snapping it up for a steal at a store closing sale last fall.

i've never been to paris, but i love the idea of the millions of anonymous lovers that have strolled past the eiffel tower over time.

my mtv inspiration for the room had a zebra-print coffee table/ottoman combo. of course, we didn't need a coffee table in the bedroom. but, i still wanted to bring in that look and a splash of color into the room with this pillow cover. i grouped it with a tan and chocolate lumbar pillow cover that i found on etsy. i looked long and hard for machine-washable throw pillows in styles that i liked before i settled on these two dry-clean-only versions. hopefully none of my lovely guests will decide to fall asleep and drool on them instead of using the bed pillows.

yes, i'm a little uptight about my throw pillows. my rule is that they are for decoration purposes only. you can lean on them, and prop 'em up against your back to get comfortable. but if you want to take a nap i will gladly bring you a real pillow, even if you're on the living room sofa. i think it's a manifestation of my germaphobia. i used to get so bothered when my husband would knock the throw pillows from our bed onto the floor every night and then just put them back in the morning that i finally found a permanent home for them in our bedroom sitting area.

since both of the pillow covers were a bit on the pricey side, instead of spending more money on pillow forms, i reused the square throw pillows from the original comforter set. to get them to the right sizes, i cut open one end and took out the right amount of stuffing before putting them in the new pillow covers. for the lumbar pillow, i had to cut out about half of the stuffing and then squish the rest of it into a rectangular shape.

a guest room wouldn't be complete without a mirror. this one is a target find that was $50 when i first saw it. i loved the classic look and i also really liked that it "mirrored" the arched windows from my inspiration picture. what i didn't love was that price.

after a couple months of stalking i was stoked to find the mirror on clearance for 50% off. i wanted to do a happy dance right there in the aisle. instead, i took a picture. unfortunately you won't get to photographically share in that moment since i took the picture on my dearly departed blackberry.

here is the other side of the room. the curtain rod is from ross and the glass vase is from marshalls.

here is a close up of the curtains. the curtains and headboard are ikea hacks that i talk about in more detail in this post.

every guest needs a spot to hang up their jacket/purse. so, i installed a cheap little hook from hobby lobby underneath some artwork that i picked up on clearance at a local boutique that was closing one of its locations.

it took a while to pull together, but i'm really happy with the end result. if you're ever in houston, stop on by for a visit. everything will be freshly laundered and ready for you.

have you ever stayed at a hotel whose decor you wanted to bring home? and am i the only one who is germaphobic when it comes to throw pillows? don't even get me started on hotel linens...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

guest room preview

in the effort to get the house all spiffy and nice for thanksgiving company, i made a final push to finish up on a project that i first started waaaay back during labor day weekend.

i finally finished the guest room!  in my defense, i've actually been in the home stretch of this project for a while now. but with an 8 1/2 month old babylove, even the smallest of tasks is hard to tackle after an 8 hour workday and then getting home and feeding, changing and bathing her. i get exhausted just thinking about it.

here's the before shot:
yes, i could have straightened up first...

and here's a little sneak peek at some of the work that went into the room:

the guest room was the only bedroom in the house that didn't have any kind of window treatment.  i knew that i wanted some classy looking curtains in the room, but i didn't want to spend a ton of money on them. so, i created custom trimmed curtains with the help of some inexpensive ikea curtain panels and the following items.

iron on hem tape and patterned ribbon

the original headboard in the room is a pier 1 purchase that has been with me for a few years.  i bought the matching nightstand, side table and bookshelf with it as well.  the set was originally in the master bedroom before we moved it over to the guest room after we bought a new bedframe.  i still really love the original headboard, and hope to use it again in the future, but it didn't quite fit with my image of this room, which was of a modern, eclectic hotel.

so, we stashed it under the bed and i got to work creating a new headboard that i saw on my favorite home diy blog.  i have to admit, i was a little leery taking on this project.  i have notoriously bad luck when it comes to putting things together, but i decided to give it a try anyway.

stabilizing board

i'm guessing that the youngster's version doesn't make like a 504 boyz song anytime you touch it, but with it pushed up against the wall and held in place by the bed, hopefully no one will notice that little detail {fingers crossed}.

can't wait for y'all to see the finished room!

love this cool doorhanger that was "borrowed" from a local boutique hotel

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

everyone loves: christmas photo cards

i've always been the type of person to send out christmas cards to friends and family. back in the day, if you picked up a pack of cards from the store, addressed them and mailed them out, you were good. to quote a talented singer: things in the game done changed.

once folks in my peer group started reproducing, they started getting a little creative. with social media, we're used to hearing about little johnny and madison's every move. but back in the day the only way i could get an update on the lives of my extended circle of friends was via those cute little photo christmas cards. some had pictures of the entire family, while others had just the kids, some cards even included status reports of everything that each member of the family had done since last year's christmas card.

as dorky as it might seem, i have to admit that once i got pregnant, i, too, started looking forward to years of sending out our very own christmas photo cards after babylove's arrival. i mean, let's face it, it's just not as fun to get a picture card with two adults that you know staring back at you.

mmmmm.....not so much

luckily, the internet makes it super easy to create professional quality cards at home. my preferred photo website is shutterfly. in addition to being able to upload and print pictures from their site, they also have a bunch of cool products like graduation announcements, calendars, and of course, holiday photo cards.

in the past, i've used shutterfly for everything from making memorable wedding thank you cards (similar to this one except in the limo after the wedding ceremony and not as cheesy). three years later, some of my friends still have our thank you cards on display.
photo courtesy of
i also used shutterfly to make photo books for both of sets of grandparents with my maternity pictures and babylove's newborn photo shoot in it.

my favorite shutterfly feature is the photo share sites. i used it to create an online photo album for babylove that i update every month and share with friends and family. unlike certain websites (that shall remain nameless), you can password protect your entire photo album website and also set privacy levels within the albums so that only those that you give permission to can save or download the posted pictures. perfect for a private person like me.

okay, back to the christmas cards: there are so many cool designs to choose from that it was almost hard to choose. i really liked the cards with multiple images of the family members in various states of holiday happiness.
however,a busy husband and baby + photoshoot would require a bit more of an effort than i can muster right now.

i liked this one as well, although for christmas i would probably like something a little more formal.

the previous two examples are actual folding cards. but in the end, i ended up choosing this flat card since i tend to draw a blank when it comes to filling up the inside of a card with sweet, flowery nothings. i also really love the paisley design and the classic red and green coloring.

with that out of the way, now all i need is to snag somebody to take our picture in front of a christmas tree, which i plan to do this week. if i can get the cards in the mail by early next week, that will still leave a couple of weeks for people to enjoy them before christmas.

want to score free holiday photo cards of your very own? click here to find out how.