happy {almost} birthday

Almost 28 years ago, my dad baked and decorated my first birthday cake. Just a few months later, he passed away, so I don’t have too many photos of us together, let alone memories.

That’s why when I thought about making a cake to celebrate Kevin’s first birthday, I immediately thought to try to recreate one of the few special photos I have of my dad and me.

[I should also note that my Kevin is named after my dad, Kevin.]

I tried to keep all the elements intact and as accurate as possible. I baked the cake in a metal pan, yellow cake with chocolate icing and white lettering. I attempted to match the “fonts” but I’m a little too neat ūüôā

I dressed Kev in a blue shirt and denim overalls since I wore a monochromatic pink ensemble.

I had my mom holding Kev so I could take the photo, which is awesome since she was holding me in mine! I had Matt hold the cake just as my dad did.

It’s not a perfect replication, but it’s a good attempt, and I couldn’t be happier.

The photo I have of my first birthday means the world to me because it’s something my dad put time, effort and love into. He baked me my first birthday cake, and it’s so special to me.

Kev turns 1 on Friday (but I have rehearsal so I made the cake today), and I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown. I hope my dad is looking down and proud of his beautiful grandson (who has his blonde hair, blue eyes and gorgeous eye lashes).

And I hope one day Kev will appreciate how much love I put into his first birthday cake.

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history appreciation

This week, I am rehearsing in beautiful Glen Echo Park in Glen Echo, MD.

Check out the sweet photos I took on the walk from my car to the theatre…

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I love a good historic place.

And speaking of historic places, National Park Seminary, where I’ve lived for the past 10 months, is in the process of restoring the Swiss Chalet. Check out the new shingled roof! I love a good shingle. Hope they don’t paint it…

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To think, I never appreciated history in school. Now, I can’t get enough.

DIY: Ruler & Cork board frames

Remember how I had that HUGE list of projects and various other things I wanted to accomplish before rehearsals started on the 17th? ¬†Well, I am thrilled to say that I got (most of) the (Pinterest) projects finished! ¬†A lot of the other goals (i.e. goal weight, catch up on Downton Abbey, read¬†50 Shades… (gotta see what all the buzz is about!)), and go nuts on the ukulele) kind of took a backseat. ¬†But that’s okay. ¬†Those are things that WILL get accomplished… eventually.

I still have a (long) list of projects, but I am happy to tackle them gradually as I collect the supplies. ¬†I’m all about upcycling and not buying things as much as possible. ¬†It’s less expensive, but it also feels more rewarding and creative.

The last two projects I accomplished were a Pottery Barn knock-off Ruler Growth Chart and Framed Cork Board to display all of the amazing masterpieces that Kev will inevitably bring home from Kidville and then down the road, school (eeeek!).

The Ruler:

I wish I could find the photo I took of this six-foot long piece of wood awkwardly situated in the trunk/backseat of my car… with Kevin sitting next to it. ¬†We made a very productive trip to Lowe’s a couple weeks ago where I purchased a piece of wood, stain, paint brush, sand paper and paint for the frames. ¬†And naturally we took my car because we didn’t feel like moving the car seat to Matt’s SUV. ¬†Ah well, we got the wood home in one piece.

I awkwardly sanded and stained it in our apartment parking lot, between my car and an unknown neighbor’s car, and it only took about 30 minutes total.

Here is the freshly sanded/stained wood drying in our bedroom (with the windows open)…

Then I used a ruler and black, oil based paint pen to draw out the ruler lines.  I basically followed the pattern one long, two short, one long, two short.  I started the ruler at six inches so that I could hang it six inches from the floor, and it would still be accurate.

Matt so graciously printed out numbers for me on cardstock, and I used an X-acto knife to cut them out. ¬†I’m pretty sure the font is Century and around 180…? ¬†Don’t hold me to that.

Then I traced in pencil…

And used my preschool color-in-the-lines skills to finish the job…

I have yet to hang this gem up, but I wanted it to be finished by Kev’s first birthday. ¬†It’s my gift to him. ¬†And I plan on marking his height every year on his birthday. ¬†Maybe I’ll go the extra mile and take a photo of him standing against it and then Mod Podge it to the ruler at that height? ¬†But that might be overkill.

Framed Cork Board:

I wish I didn’t have a brain fart with this project and took more photos. ¬†I took three frames that I had lying around and painted them with a sample size of this brighter-than-I-thought-orange aka “Ripe Pomegranate” (aren’t pomegranates reddish?). ¬†I bought the paint because I had every intention to paint the two bar stools that we got from Freecycle. ¬†But I’m pretty sure Matt wasn’t too crazy about the color because he said “I want you to think long and hard if this is what you¬†really want…” ¬†I still think it would have been cute. ¬†But I decided the frames were a safer way to go.

I wanted to have a “gallery wall” in the living room next to Kev’s door. ¬†And I am a fan of bold pops of color, so I just went for it. ¬†I am an idiot and didn’t prime the frames first, so I ended up painting about 8 coats on the larger two and maybe four on the small one.

And remember those thin cork place mats that I bought from IKEA for 4/$4.99? ¬†Yeah, I liked them for the table, but they weren’t my favorite. ¬†I thought they were more college suite rather than family home, so I repurposed them as my cork boards. ¬†They are too thin to push thumb tacks through, so I doubled them up in the frames. ¬†And luckily, I had JUST enough!

I originally wanted a couple more larger frames, since Kev will clearly be so creative and create more than two masterpieces at a time, but I didn’t have enough paint and frames. ¬†Eventually I’ll add a couple more frames and maybe change the colors up a bit. ¬†This time, it’s spray paint all the way! ¬†No more of this 8 coats of paint BS.

And another angle…

All in all, I am very satisfied with the progress I made on my to-do list. ¬†From the dining room set to the various spray painted items to the wall o’ frames, I am THRILLED.

Rehearsals are well underway for my show, which means between Kev, learning music for my Saturday morning Kidville classes, working AND finding time to workout, I am literally a maniac (who needs to write “take shower” on my daily to-do list… and I’m not kidding). ¬†But I wouldn’t have it any other way ūüôā

Also, today is the hub’s birthday! ¬†HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MATT! ¬†He’s just the best. ¬†And Kev lights up when he comes home from work everyday. ¬†It’s the cutest thing.

home is where the heart is

It has been quite the week. ¬†How ’bout a little recap before we get to the fun DIY stuff, eh?

Last Friday morning, just minutes before Matt was going to leave for work, I stood up too quickly, blacked out, fell straight back and landed right on my head on our incredibly hard, carpet-covered-concrete floor (say that three times fast…). ¬†Apparently I had said to Matt something along the lines of “Hey, I want to show you something on my phone” as I walked towards the hallway. ¬†He then heard me say, as I usually do these days when I stand up, “whew, I feel dizzy,” and I braced myself against the wall to get my bearings. ¬†Usually I give myself 3-5 seconds, and I’m in the clear to continue on my way. ¬†Well, this time I wasn’t so lucky.

Next thing I remember, I was sitting on the couch and could not see a damn thing. ¬†Everything was blurry, and my head was SPLITTING. ¬†All I could do was grab my head, scream, grunt and vomit. ¬†Matt quickly called 911. ¬†I heard the sirens. ¬†I heard Matt say “Stay here! ¬†They’re in the wrong place!” as is to be expected since we live in a historic fairyland and navigating in our little community is confusing, to say the least (forget about ordering delivery!)

I couldn’t see the EMT’s, but I could hear them. ¬†The only thing I really remember from them is one asking me “Did you paint your toenails yourself or did someone do it for you?” WHAT?! ¬†I remember thinking SO. HARD. ¬†Did I paint my toenails? ¬†DID I? ¬†Or did someone do it for me? ¬†WHO PAINTED MY TOENAILS?!¬† Now I know they were asking because they were pretty sure I had a concussion and they were trying to keep me awake and focused on something else, instead of screaming hysterically because I was TERRIFIED. ¬†Btw, my toenails were a lovely shade of emerald green. ¬†They¬†were pretty spectacular. ¬†And I had them done.

Apparently they had to strap me down to the gurney, in case I had a spinal injury¬†and because I was flailing and¬†belligerently¬†incoherent. ¬†All I was saying was “I don’t want to die” because I was in so much pain, I honestly thought I was going to die, leaving Kevin behind, and I could NOT let that happen.

I remember a painful IV going into my arm, which thinking back, probably happened in the ambulance.  The IV going in was SO PAINFUL that I may or may not have known what Bella Swan felt like when she was transforming into a vampire.  Although she was much more poised than I.  But then again, she knew what to expect.

Anyhoo, I remember feeling that my boobs were out and about. ¬†I later found out that Matt kept trying to cover me up, but I would just flail out of my hospital gown. ¬†#classicaut ¬†Oh, and they had to cut my shirt off. ¬†I really liked that shirt, too. ¬†It was my skinny shirt. ¬†Typical day in the trauma unit. ¬†At least they didn’t cut my bra off. ¬†It’s my favorite.

Long story short, they ran a scan of my brain and an echocardiogram¬†of my heart. ¬†Thankfully, both came back completely normal. ¬†The culprit: low blood pressure. ¬†They tested my blood pressure three ways: lying down, sitting up and then standing up. ¬†Lying down and sitting up were about the same, but right when I stood up, my blood pressure plummeted. ¬†So, the doc put me on pills, three times a day for three months. ¬†Why only three months? ¬†I have no clue. ¬†I’m scheduled to follow up with my primary care doc on the 20th.

I was only in the hospital from Friday morning until Saturday evening, thank GOD. ¬†I woke up to my mom by my side. ¬†I can’t tell you how comforting it was to see my mother. ¬†Matt came and told me his mom and grandma were driving 8 hours from Ohio to help out with Kev for the next couple days. ¬†My friends helped out by watching Kev in the waiting room so Matt could be with me, bringing dinner, sending a fruit bouquet (complete with balloon and princess crown!). We are surrounded by the best people, truly.

So now, I’m on the up and up! ¬†Taking it one day at a time. ¬†Standing up slowly. ¬†Drinking plenty of water. ¬†Trying to get enough sleep… well, as much sleep as one can get with a baby around. ¬†I¬†do have good timing, though. ¬†I fell at the beginning of a three-day weekend! ¬†AND I had two weeks off of Kidville! ¬†Plenty of recovery time!

A lot of my projects took a back burner while I rested, but now, I’m back. ¬†In full swing.

We have a lot of large, white, bare walls in our apartment, so I’ve been on the lookout for inexpensive and fun ways to add excitement and a feeling of “home” to this place. ¬†I came across this Heart Collage on Pinterest a couple weeks ago. ¬†It calls for¬†Polaroids, but I like waiting for Tuesdays and Wednesdays when you can get 6-cent 3.5×5 prints from Ritz¬†with the white borders. ¬†Gotta have the white border. ¬†So I ordered about 60 of them, random photos from Facebook and my phone. ¬†98% Kev but a good 2% randoms.

First, I laid them out on my bed…

And used this stuff that I got for less than $3 at Target…

And went to town…

…see Lucy? ¬†She was NOT helping.

Awww yeah!

Like I said, 98% Kev. ¬†But then I added the random statue pic…

French press coffee…

Ukulele…

Lucy… MU Theatre building… Keith Albee…

And then some more classic Kev favorites…

Giving meaning to home is where the heart is

I think this was a very fitting project to ring in the one week anniversary of my impromptu hospital stay.  I am so very lucky to be here.  It could have been much, much worse.  I could have been holding Kevin when I fell.  I could have hit my head in a more unfortunate way or hit it on a more unfortunate object.  Matt could have already left for work.  Then what?  I would have been unconscious on the floor with Kev crawling all over me, freaking out?  Someone was definitely watching over us.

And the biggest THANK YOU to our incredible support system. ¬†We’re so lucky.

thrift love

Today, mommy friend Briana and her preciously handsome son, Eli, (who is 3 weeks older than Kev and probably half his size…), checked out a couple thrift stores in the area!

The first one we went to was Unique Thrift Store. And for a Thursday afternoon, it was overwhelmingly busy. But I managed to find a bunch of great, unique things! And apparently, if you have a VIP card with the store, every Thursday you get 25% off! But the catch is you can’t get a VIP card on a discount day. So that just gives me an excuse to go back again and get one ūüôā

Check out a few of the things I brought home:

I saw this walker immediately when I walked through the door. We actually just bought Kevin one last weekend, but now I’m taking it right back to the store. For $5.95, this was a steal!

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I’ve been on a big frame kick lately, so I couldn’t pass up this large frame with so many picture slots! I love that natural, rustic look of the frame. ¬†(Also, are these¬†real family/pet photos from the original owner? ¬†I sure hope not…)

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This beautiful, hand-painted serving tray really caught my eye. Okay, so I don’t really need it, but it will look really nice either on the buffet or the dining room table.

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My biggest splurge of the day, at $9.99, was this beautiful, vintage beaded shell purse. I knew if I left it behind, I would kick myself later. Be on the lookout for it at the next Helen Hayes Awards! (That’s how I justified the purchase.)

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I also picked up three shirts for Matt, a cute vest type piece of clothing for myself and a pair of sandals for Kev. All in all, it was a great trip!

We then went to the Prevention of Blindness Thrift Store on Antique Row in Kensington, MD. I’ve been to this place once or twice before, and I absolutely love it. It’s so quaint, situated right in the middle of adorable antique shops and caf√©s. The only problem with it is that it is definitely not stroller or baby friendly. There are no ramps, so we had to lift our strollers over a few steps to get to the door. The people were super nice, and let us leave our strollers in the front of the store so we could just carry the babes around. The trouble is, there are so many breakables and things to see and touch in such a cramped space, that a sleepy, flailing baby equaled disaster. Luckily, we didn’t have any mishaps. Kevin started to have a meltdown, and we promptly left.

On our way home, we stopped to pick up a Freecycle score: two baby gates! If you are not on¬†Freecycle, you’re really missing out. Seriously, especially with children, they go through so many phases and clothing and everything so quickly, it’s kind of silly to spend money on things they will just outgrow or not need in a couple months. So when someone posted that their child outgrew two baby gates and they wanted to pass them on, I quickly jumped on it!

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Since we have baseboards around the bottom of all of our walls, I had to get creative with the installation, so I used books…

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Thanks to John Irving for his contribution to my kid’s safety! ¬†(I prefer¬†A Prayer for Owen Meany anyway.)

The gate/book combo is working well so far, so hopefully it will keep Kevin out of the cat’s food!

I think I’ll start making Thrifty Thursdays happen… at least once a month. ¬†It’s good for the soul ūüôā

feeling grateful

If you know me, you know that what I have wanted more than anything since the beginning of time is a house. I want a place for Kevin to grow up. I want a place that Matt and I can make our own. A place that Kev can come home to on breaks from college. I want a garden where I can grow my own veggies. Fruit trees. Berry bushes. A dog. A yard where I can spray paint without feeling judged by my neighbors.

I just want a house.

But I am very aware of the many struggles homeowners face, what with major (and even minor) repairs. Taxes, fees, expenses that we will never have as renters.

It’s a lot of work owning a house. But work that I would cherish to have a home of our own.

And it really gets to me. A lot.

BUT after talking to my husband about it last night and my mom today, I realize that we are extremely lucky to have what we have. We live in a beautiful, spacious apartment in a restored, historic community. We each have a car that runs and are able to put gas in them. We have enough food. We have a beautiful son who is beyond awesome. We have the most AMAZING friends and family anyone could ever ask for. Although it’s a struggle for now, it’s nice to be able to stay home with Kevin during the day and not pay for childcare. AND Matt and I both are able to do what we love, theatre, while being very present for Kev.

We are very lucky. And it’s easy to lose sight of that.

So today, let’s just all sit back and think about what we have and how lucky we are. Some people don’t have what we have. Some people have much more, and that’s okay, too. It’s not about “stuff”. It’s not about money. It’s about love, happiness and growing together and overcoming hardships as a family.

And this girl has a pretty amazing family.

quick 10-month update

I was quickly tackling each project on my to-do list, when (UGH) all three of us got a terrible stomach bug, and life was on hold (except for the puking and restless tossing and turning) for about three days.  Now that THAT is over, I am ready to get going and complete my list once and for all!  But (shocker) I keep adding more and more everyday!  (Damn you, Pinterest!)

In baby news, Kevin is 10 months (and one week) old! ¬†I can’t believe in less than two months we’ll be celebrating his birthday! ¬†(Well, not so much a celebration as “Yay! ¬†It’s your birthday! ¬†Let me take you to the doctor for shots, make a cake, take photos, and then mommy is going to leave for tech rehearsal!) ¬†He’ll never know.

I thought it was funny when I made his 12-month appointment. ¬†The girl asked ¬†“Do you want me to make the appointment ON his birthday?” ¬†“Um, sure. ¬†That’s fine.” ¬†“You know he’s gonna have to have shots, right?” “He won’t know the difference, but thanks!” ¬†I don’t have time to worry about these things. ¬†At least I’m vaccinating him, right?!

Kev is now crawling faster than the speed of light. ¬†He pulls himself up on EVERYTHING, including people. ¬†He loves his kitty sister. ¬†He loves food. ¬†And he LOVES the camera…

…and that’s just a small sampling. ¬†He’s such a HAM!

I’m thinking about throwing Kev in the car and driving the 9-10 hours to Charleston, SC to visit some friends. ¬†I’m a little hesitant only because I might be the only adult, and driving that long with a baby is nerve wracking. ¬†Anybody have thoughts or experiences? ¬†Preferably tips to make the trip easier on us both if we do decide to go??

And my favorite photo of all time…