Monday, December 12, 2011


Photo courtesy of Martha Stewart

It has been far too long since my last post. So much has been happening at our end. So much I can't share until next week. But our lives are full and we are adjusting to the unexpected of each day. 

Christmas is on its way and we are finishing up with the last minute tasks we have on our list. I wrapped presents this weekend, when the cats would leave the ribbon alone, and it was so much fun to see each one so festive and shiny (the gifts, not the cats)! While Mr. N. was out of town, I pulled out our antenna and caught Frosty the Snowman on tv. Oh, how I still love those Christmas cartoons being shown on network television. Now, if only I can catch A Charlie Brown Christmas! The tree has been up since the weekend after Thanksgiving, our new mantle is finished and is absolutely incredible (I need to post pictures, I know). I also finished painting the fireplace! Our little house is coming together. One thing that's different this year is that we'll have family over at various times throughout the Christmas week, so I'm trying to put my game face on and get things done despite feeling a bit under the weather. Onward and upward! 

I hope that in the midst of the hectic that this time of year can bring, you are stopping to thank our Lord for coming as a baby to save us so many years ago. Take some time to just savor the moments around you.

Friday, November 11, 2011


This is a picture that I took when Mr. N. and I visited Arlington National Cemetery a few weeks ago. It's an incredible place. It's so peaceful and quiet. Reverent. Birds are chirping, and very occasionally you can hear a few whispers of people passing. Otherwise, it's silent. Simple, white headstones are everywhere. They're nestled under trees and stand triumphantly on hillsides. It's a sobering reminder of just how many people have fought and died for our country. Even more sobering to realize that these headstones don't even represent all of the fallen. And yet, people still sign up today to join the Armed Forces in fighting for us and our country. What would we do without them? It's sad that our society today doesn't honor our soldiers even close to how they used to in years past. The country would rally behind THEM, whether they believed in the war itself or not. Today, it's about protesting or standing outside a soldiers funeral picketing. How far we have fallen. 

At ANC there was also an unmistakable pride and sense of honor that radiated from the soldiers we saw. They take what they do very seriously. They honor the past and fight in the present FOR US. All of the people ridiculously camped out in tents and defecating in the park as part of their protesting across the United States.....they're fighting for you. All of the middle class, the rich, the poor.....they're fighting for you. The children who still need a free country to be raised in......they're fighting for you. They're fighting for you and for me. Let's pay tribute to them today and say thank you. They've given so much for us.

Left at the Vietnam Memorial Wall

Monday, October 31, 2011


Photo courtesy of Martha Stewart
As you may have noticed, I've been off the map for a bit. Mr. N. and I took a rare vacation to Washington, DC this past week and had a blast. It was a great getaway for our third anniversary, as well as a nice chance to getaway from all of the other real life stresses we've been dealing with lately. Sometimes you just need to step away and gain some perspective, which is not always possible when you're in the thick of things. 

In the spirit of improvement, I also had a realization that if I'm stressing myself out to keep entering posts to keep up with the 31 days series, then that in itself is not promoting improvement. When I post things it's because I feel inspired to do so. Sometimes, improvement is cutting ourselves some slack, which I'm not usually good at doing. So, I've decided to resume my normal posts, sharing about what's on my heart or something cool I've come across at any given time. I'll plan much better for next year's challenge. =] 

This week, our lives are all about our fertility treatments, so I'm a little nervous, and excited, and more nervous. It's finally time to see what happens. Okay, granted, we still have a few weeks before we know if things actually take this time around, but at least the ball will be rolling. 

Hope that you all are enjoying the beautiful autumn air this afternoon! Happy November a little early! More to come!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


This morning, I talked to a new client on the phone. She asked me to take pictures of her parents for their 50th wedding anniversary. Now, I do not label myself a Photographer by any stretch. I know who I consider to be true "Photographers" and I do not fall anywhere close, so I don't give myself the title and cringe when other people label me as such. I studied mostly old school, black and white photography in college and would spend entire days locked in a darkroom  (one of my most favorite places in the entire world) processing film and printing pictures. I left school early, though, for various reasons, one of which being that I realized if I wanted to have a career in photography I would need to really sell my work...sell myself. The thought of yelling "pick me, pick me!" still is far too scary and doesn't interest me in the least. One of the appeals of photography is being able to hide behind the camera and secretly capture those things I see as beautiful, even if nobody else sees them that way. I also get to help people capture memories of their loved ones and that is quite a humbling gift. It's a quiet place, a safe place. A safe place that becomes not so safe when I put a price on my work. So, if asked, I take pictures for a few friends and others here and there for a small fee. I don't chase work, it usually finds me cowering in a corner trying to convince it to ask someone else. 

After finishing the phone conversation this morning, the insecurity began. It's always there, really, but it flares up a bit more when the pressure is on. Like water being in a teapot lying dormant until the heat is on. I haven't even met these people, but I'm already critiquing myself and fearing an unhappy outcome. This isn't the only area of my life where the critiquing happens. It's easy to allow the voice in my head, the one I think knows me best, to remind me again why I shouldn't even bother trying, why I'll never be anything worthwhile. It gives me another valid reason for not taking the risk and I listen. Why is it that this is the voice that I listen to so often? Why should it get stage time and be allowed to suck the energy, the joy, and the very life out of me?

Even in typing these words I realized that the voice in my head is NOT the one that knows me best. Why? Because the voice inside only sees things from my perspective. It may know my shortcomings, my past failures, my fears, my deepest desires, my quiet tears, but it can't see the whole picture of my life. Only God can do that. He can see my life from start to finish. He can see what I was created for, the lives He has ordained for me to touch in some small way. He can see my shortcomings and fears and knows exactly what I can handle. He can see those things I see as past failures in the context of my whole life and knows how those may have helped me change course to be right where I am today. He sees my deepest desires and longs for me to make His desires for me my own. He sees my quiet tears and is right there beside me in every moment. Why isn't it His voice that I listen for? Why isn't He the one I run to first? Sometimes I'm afraid to hear Him, what He might say. Not because I think His words will be ones of anger, but because I'm afraid they'll be what I know they'll be, words of love and encouragement. He would tell me that I'm His daughter, that I'm beautiful, that He loves me more than I could ever know, and it would be hard to believe Him, because I don't think I'm worthy of such love. And I'm not. But He loves me anyways. Without condition. Without fail. It's not about me, it's about Him. 

If only His was the voice that I listened to when the critiquing started. If only His was the strength I relied on when my fear is overwhelming. If only His were the arms that I fell into when I feel utterly defeated before even starting. I hope that I reach a point in my life where this is commonplace. Until then, it's worth working towards. Do you ever feel the same way? 

Monday, October 17, 2011


From Holly Mathis Interiors
It's so easy sometimes to fall into the trap of doing what everyone else is doing. It's hard to let our own voice speak when it feels like we're getting whispers of, "That's wrong!" from every side. I know for me, that whispering voice is in my own head most of the time, rather than from the sidelines, but little by little I'm learning to embrace the things I love. This has been a huge learning process in everything from clothing to decorating. Most days, I feel like I'm about 10 years behind in the accepting myself for who I am. It's not easy, but it is freeing when those little breakthroughs come along. It's not about doing what everyone else is doing, anyways. It's about creating an environment YOU (and your loved ones) love to be in. It's about putting together a wardrobe that YOU love to wear. It's about taking a little risk and TRYING even if you might fail a few times. I'm convinced that the outcome will be far better than if we never try at all and live life full of regret. So, let's raise our glasses to risk taking and inspiration!


This WAS our mantle:

This IS our mantle:

(p.s. the old homeowners were the ones who painted our fire place except for the top two inches or so. we actually love the natural brick, so we're trying to figure out what to do, since once brick is painted it's a forever thing. *tear)

This is why:
Photo from Addicted 2 Decorating
We are hoping to follow this tutorial to make a new mantle that looks like an old hunk of wood. Supposedly, it only costs about $25 to make this transformation, which is incredible. We'll see if that's actually the case. Taking the old mantle off and leaving it that way is incentive for us to pick up the pace and tackle the project already. =] I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


The next three weeks will prove to be a whirlwind for us. We will be taking the first big out of state trip we've ever taken as a married couple. Go D.C.! We will be coming home in time for Mr. N. to get ready for his next out of state work trip. If all goes well, we'll also be starting and completing our fertility treatment. In this small window of 15 days that it takes to start and finish this treatment, we realized that everything must happen exactly as scheduled in order for this to work this

We never take big trips. The biggest trip we've taken in three years was to Disneyland with my family (OHMYGOSHILOVEDISNEYLANDSOMUCH!!!!!!!!!!!). We wanted this one to be our 3 year anniversary trip. My monthly cycle is rarely on time these days and yet last month it was only one day late and we were able to get all of our fertility testing done with no problems. Now we wait to see if October will be as perfect, because if it's not we have to wait until next month to try for a baby. If all starts on time, I'll be on meds during our trip, and we'll come home to ovulation tests, doctor visits, and procedures. But there might be a baby this time.

I want so much to hope, to believe that THIS could be the time....our time. I want to believe that all the waiting, and aching, and tears, and trying to hope, and failing to hope, and picking names, and praying could finally be culminating over possibly the most awkward set of 15 days one could pick for such a thing. It would make an incredible story. A story only God could tell, only He could ordain. And so I hope, even though every ounce of me screams not to, reminding me of every disappointment of the past. I don't want to be disappointed, again. I don't want to stress about this, again. I don't want to wait another month, only to see it fail, again. I don't want to watch the next wave of pregnancy pass through our friends and church and leave us on the sidelines, again. I don't know that I could take all of this pain, again. But I do want to trust and be glad regardless of how this goes. I want to remember that I'm not guaranteed anything, but God still works ALL THINGS together for our good and His glory. I want to let God have His way and be stronger than the pain. I want to wish and hope with childlike anticipation that November could be the beginning of a new and very tiny life. It's such a scary thing to hope.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Autumn is in the air, my friends! Autumn is in the air! It's so exciting to starting to decorate and immersing ourselves in everything we love about this time of year, isn't it?! I've come across a couple of posts recently that have talked about decorating simply. Check out these two lovely ladies:

The Nester had this post called "Copy It With What You Already Have". I love how she talks about spending the most money on the pumpkins and gourds she buys and just using everything else that she may already have around the house.

Photo courtesy of the Nester

Melissa at The Inspired Room has been posting lots about how she decorates her house on a budget using more of nature, which I LOVE! Isn't the picture below brilliant!

Photo courtesy of The Inspired Room
This is my own attempt at simplicity in decorating for the fall, so far. Now, we have plans to change our mantle itself completely, but for now, here is how everything looks:

Hopefully, you can see here, that I used three gourds I got for $0.69 each (next year I think I'm going to try and grow some, though), and some whole coffee beans that we bought over a year ago that I've kept in a Ziploc bag and pulled out for decorating. I love the coffee scent and the rustic quality it brings. 

Here, I just put a pumpkin on an extra pot I had and put some pine cones we found out hiking around it. The possibilities are really endless. I'm hoping to bring in some branches I've found out and about, too, but I'm letting them dry out a bit. =] There are so many aspects of fall to draw from, and these two women, especially Melissa at The Inspired Room, have done a great job so far of pinpointing those aspects and helping us all breathe a little easier knowing it's okay not to go out and spend a fortune. Hope you enjoy their sites!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


This morning, I came across a neat video by Ann Voskamp found on Emily's site at Chatting at the Sky. It's fantastic! Please take the time to scroll down on Emily's post and watch the video. You won't be sorry. In it, Ann talks about living life moment by moment and not rushing so much. Can you relate to the rushing around? And I don't just mean physical rushing, but also mental rushing. I sure can! My goodness, can I ever! I am not a moment by moment person. I'm an 'if only' person. If only this happened..... If only I had..... If only I was better at..... If only, if only, if only. That's an exhausting way to live.  It's a life of shallow breaths, an aching heart, and a weary soul.

Mr. N. once asked me if I thought I was an envious person. The answer is complicated. Or is it? I'm not really into "stuff". If people have nicer clothes, nicer homes, nicer cars that doesn't really bother me. What bothers me is when they have something that is a deep desire in my heart. It used to be a husband, now it's children. Especially if, in my limited and blinded judgment, it doesn't seem like they "deserve" it. Who am I to know that?! Epic fail on my part. So, yes, the envy is there and makes me constantly look forward to the day when I have that particular thing. It's hard to keep looking towards that moment and still appreciate the here and now. It's nearly impossible to look back on the day I just completed and list off the things I am most thankful for. That kind of existence is NOT what God intended for us. Yes, He has placed certain desires in our hearts. Yes, He has His own timing for when and if those are given to us and just how they'll look, which may not always be how we'd imagined them. But He has also commanded us not to worry about tomorrow. 
 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6: 25-34
 It can feel almost impossible not to worry each day, but it's a worthy battle to fight. We know God is faithful and that His character is absolutely trustworthy, so let's unclench our fists around those dreams we're sure will disappear if we hand the control over. Who are we kidding, really? We know that holding those things so tightly is more of a security blanket for us than something we're able to control. I can't magically put a baby in my uterus (that would be creepy and weird, p.s.) or know exactly where the child we're eventually meant to adopt is right at this moment, but I hold so tightly to these desires that you'd think I actually did have magical powers. Again, exhausting. 

Will you try some things with me? Try listing the things you're thankful for, no matter how small they may seem. Check out Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts, if that will help inspire you, and take a look at her blog, just to see what in the world she's talking about. Keep things simple. Enjoy right here, right now. Take a deep breath. Try to soak up every moment of the story God is telling in your life right now, whether you feel like you're on board with it or not. HE LOVES YOU! It may not always feel like that, but that is a fact.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Photo courtesy of Trinity College Library

I have one word for you today: LIBRARY 

Have you been to your local Library lately? Have you tapped into the magic that it possesses? The endless possibilities? If not, then you are truly missing something in your life, let me tell you. =] 

When Mr. N. and I got married, we decided to forgo getting cable television and opted for the rabbit ear antenna and watching our favorite shows online. After the initial crumbling of my world, I realized that this was perfect for our lifestyle and was MUCH less expensive (Free always is). We also started using our local Library as a resource for renting movies. Did you know:
1. That you can get a sweet library card key chain now!
2. You can check out magazines......this must be new, because back in the day this was not allowed......seriously, my world is a better place because of this addition
3. Some Libraries have kid's story times and fun crafts for kids of all ages, as well as for adults
4. It's a swell place to have a mini date with the hubby
5. You can put various cds, dvds, and books on hold on their websites and be notified when they come in, and they have a current selection of movies. It's good not to be caught in the 80's. =]
6. You can have your choices of the above sent to the Library closest to you
7. They have fun and educational events that you can attend for free. We went last year for Halloween and they talked about the haunted parts of our city and had Librarians dress up as some of these local, but long since passed, figures
8. All the cool kids are using the Library (okay, I don't know this for a fact, but we use it and we like ourselves pretty well, so there ya go) =}

These are just some of the wonderful things I've learned about our local Library. Be sure to stop in some time and see what magic awaits you and your family!  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


It's funny how sometimes when you set out to do something it can seem incredibly scary and exciting at first, but the farther in you get the more defeated you can feel and sometimes just want to give up. Honestly, that's the way I'm feeling about trying to write 31 ways to improve right now when I'm not sure I'm the best one to talk about improvement. It's not even a full week into it, but I'm realizing just how difficult it is and how much I have to learn. My goal has changed from writing every single day to making sure I have 31 posts, period, regardless of if it takes me into November to do so. By golly, this will happen!

I don't want my attempts to improve to seem trite or sugar coated. Lord knows, there are more days than not that I want to stay in bed with the covers over my head. I'm reading Grace for the Good Girl right now and Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety: Becoming A Woman of Faith and Confidence while I'm reading Kathy Reichs murder mysteries and going through the Harry Potter series. I struggle with going to church every single week and with planning my day so that I make the most of my time. And I never feel like I'm really succeeding at anything, which doesn't mean I'm not, of course, but it would make things simpler if the feeling was there sometimes. All of that to say, sometimes improvement doesn't have to be huge. It can be blasting Christmas music on your ipod in the beginning of October to brighten your mood enough to get you through your tasks. It can be memorizing a scripture every couple of weeks. It can be choosing to do laundry on one day a week rather than doing tiny loads all throughout the week to save water and energy. It can be incorporating your crock pot into meal planning more so that you get four meals for the price of one. It can be telling a friend how much you love them or giving your spouse an extra squeeze. It can be going to God with your struggles to trust Him in every situation, allowing those struggles to push you towards God rather than away from Him. It can be cutting yourself some slack sometimes and realizing that you don't have to do it all or reach this unattainable goal of something near perfection to be beautiful, or loved, or to matter in general. It's not easy, but it's not impossible. And every improvement, no matter how small, is a victory. 

Monday, October 3, 2011


Photo courtesy of Pottery Barn
A few months back, Mr. N. and I were brainstorming about some simple changes we could make in our home/life to improve the way we use our resources. In particular, we realized that every day, right before bed, we would take the glasses on our night tables, dump the old water in them down the sink, and fill them up with fresh water. Not to mention, looking around the house we found that there's at least always one or two old water cups from the day before. We started thinking about how much water that's actually adding up to in the long run just being wasted. Mr. N. had a fantastically simple idea: To place a pitcher next to our sink and poor the old water in that and then transfer that water to our watering can outside to use in the garden. We found a pitcher very much like this one at a garage sale for about $2. It's decorative enough for us to leave on the window sill above our sink, but fully functional enough to hold the water we need. It has been a great success for us so far and it's another small step in making the most of the resources God is giving us. 


This weekend, we had the chance to visit with Mr. N.'s parents for a casual dinner. We haven't had much of an opportunity to just go up for the day and relax with them, so this was a nice change of pace. My mother-in-law had scanned in some family pictures for me, so that I could start incorporating Mr. N.'s family into our gallery walls and such. She knew how important this was to me, and in talking to her I began to realize even more just why remembering our family matters.

 This is my great grandfather. He was killed when he was about 22 years old, so he lived just long enough to get married and have my grandmother before he died. It was in 2009 that after years, and years, and years of searching we found the rest of his family and were able to piece together the story of his life and discover what a remarkable man he really was. It made me realize that without all of these individuals in our past, take away just one, we would not be here. They had hopes and dreams and loves, too. And it's important to remember their humanity and continue to honor them in passing on their memory to future generations. We have a couple of small gallery walls in our hallway where we display old and new family photos and it's a neat thing to be able to share with people as they take a turn around the house. 

Now, maybe you don't have any old photos from your ancestors for whatever reason. Not everyone does, and not everyone can trace back their family history. If that's you, maybe just thank God from time to time for the people in your past, whether you know their names or not. Thank Him for each of their lives. If your past is a more painful one, maybe thank God for redemption and forgiveness. I don't say this lightly, because I know that some family wounds can run extremely deep and last for some time. However, God is a God of restoring the broken and He can use the past for good. Do you have children who you've adopted? Maybe teach them about their country of origin if you have no record of their birth family. We have no control over where we come from or who helped to put us here, but God knows. Each life is precious and is worth remembering in whatever way we can.

One of the things I'm looking forward to when we have children, is teaching them about all of these people in their past. It's important for us to honor them. I like to think that maybe somewhere they can see us and know that they're not forgotten. That their lives mattered and matter still. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Photo courtesy of Pottery Barn

Happy October!!! Well, not only is this the beginning of glorious October, but it's also the beginning of the 31 Days challenge. My goal is to post 31 ways to improve, both in your household and personally. I'm finding that I'm learning a lot in my own life lately about ways to frugally decorate, new recipes, and not to mention lots about who God is as He unfolds His own story in my life, so hope to share some of these with you.  

I'm still learning how to make all the fancy buttons and such, so there may not be too much technical savy over here, but perhaps that can be one of my posts later in the month, "How to make fancy blog buttons". =] You just never know.

Be sure to check out the blogs to the right and see what they've got going on for the next 31 days, as well as this link to a whole lot of other talented people out there. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Does anyone remember the show The Facts of Life? Oh how I adored that show! I would tune in religiously and sing along as the theme song would start, "You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life, the facts of life. There's a time you've got to show and grow, and something-something, then you know the facts of life, the facts of life." Okay, so I don't remember all the words, but you get the point. I got that song stuck in my head this morning and realized how appropriate that first line is for the past week of my life.

Before Mr. N. and I can begin our fertility treatments we've had to go through a lot of tests. There have been blood tests, tests for men only, tests for women only, cultures, HSG (dye) tests, and vaccines. I've been poked, injected, swabbed, had ultrasounds and x-rays. Throw in some stuffing and a good basting and I'd feel like my Grandma's Thanksgiving Turkey. I told Mr. N. that I feel like all I ever do for anyone anymore is spread my legs. Haha. But you take the good you take the bad, right? And it really hasn't been too bad physically. It feels good to know that we're getting things done and moving closer to an actual treatment. My life right now feels like it's being brought to you by the letter "A" for Advil, but it's still moving forward. That's a positive....something to hold onto. 

Another crazy thing has been meeting random people who are struggling with the same thing as us. Talking about fertility treatments seems to be almost taboo with some. I have my theories as to why, but it's still unsettling, since it's more of a common problem than one would think. Case in point, we tried three different places to get a vaccine on Saturday, and we ended up at the Rite Aid with a nurse who is 38 and unable to get pregnant and she has no idea why. She asked us all sorts of questions about the doctor we're seeing and about cost, because the cost is what seemed to be holding her back the most. You could see the frustration in her eyes and how badly she wanted to be a mother. That breaks my heart. Friends have also started coming out and sharing their own stories with us. Friends who have walked some intense roads to hold a baby of their own and we had no idea. Friends who still are broken from loss, but in the same breath rejoice over miracles. Friends who show us what true faith is and hold us up. Incredible and humbling. Yes, I still question God, not just in my own situation but for the situations other dear people find themselves in, too. Some days I can't let it go, while other days I realize I just have to obey and know that I'm not entitled to any special answers, and that's okay. It's not about having all the answers anyways. 

Good and bad, I'm learning how little I really know about the world, the people around me, and about my God. That realization is not a waste of time or money.

I had to share this with you all. I just read this tonight from a book my girlfriends and I are studying right now called "Overcoming Fear, Worry, And Anxiety" by Elyse Fitzpatrick (highly recommend it, by the way). The chapter is called, "The Fear That Results In Blessings" and here is an excerpt that seems very appropriate, "If my life wasn't so tumultuous, you might think, I would be able to serve God. When things calm down, I'll obey Him. Do you see the folly of hiding away from Him instead of finding Him as your Hiding Place? Our lives will always be beset on every side with terrors, difficulties, uncertainties, and grim prospects. We cannot shrink back from our duty to God because it is that duty, that awe-filled obedience, that will burst the chains of fear from our hearts and flood our souls with light."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


It's hard to believe that October is approaching so quickly! I'll be posting soon on some neat ideas for affordable Autumn decorations, but first I wanted to talk about the 31 Days challenge that a ton of bloggers take on every year. Last year, I followed a few of my favorites as they started their 31 Day topics and was so encouraged and got lots of great ideas, so I'm going to try and throw my hat in the ring, too. My topic is 31 Days of Improvement and it will cover both personal improvement and affordable home improvement. I'll try to share some neat things God has been revealing in the book study I'm in, as well as some projects and decorating around the house that I'm going to finally tackle. 

October 1st will be the "linky party" as they call it (it makes me giggle every time.....yes, I'm 12. haha!), so I'll post a link to some of my favorite ladies who will also be participating, so that you can explore and learn to your heart's content. =]

More to come!

Monday, September 19, 2011


We have all had those moments. The ones where the well meaning person approaches and shares their opinions on the state of your life, full of smiles and no thought whatsoever about what they're actually your face. You know of what I speak. It's almost like a one man cloud of locust that swarms in just long enough to crawl all over you and buzz in your ears and then fly away. (shudder) So far, I'd say that the worst of these moments have come during singleness and during our trying to get pregnant, but I've heard that they also come during parenting, so there's something to look forward to. I can actually hear my friend's voice in my head telling me to cut them some slack and show them a little grace, and she's right. But each day that comes seems to bring a new opportunity to test the waters on just how much a person can take. 

This weekend, while I was out of town, Mr. N. got approached at church by a WMP (well meaning person). She, all in good humor, proceeded to tell him that the pressure is on for us to have kids next, since nearly every other couple our age now has a newborn. He was pretty taken off guard by this and is starting to realize just how often this happens. We both thank God that I wasn't there for this particular encounter, but last night I started thinking about the comment, "the pressure is on". It seemed to catch fire as I turned it over and over and I realized that she has no idea how long the pressure has actually been on us:
  • since the first moment I realized I wanted to grow up and be a Mommy
  • since I got married when I was 29 after praying to God that He wouldn't make me wait past 21
  • since we decided to wait until we were financially stable and in a home of our own before trying for kids
  • every time we're asked by people we don't know that well when we're going to have babies
  • since we had a random toll booth operator on the Bay Bridge tell us that we'd be pregnant by January and have a baby boy in 2011 (no joke)
  • every moment I realize that Mr. N. is a little disappointed, too, by this whole thing
  • since we discovered that our church was going through its second round of reproducing like bunnies
  • every single Sunday when I have to look at an ex-girlfriend of Mr. N.'s and her husband proudly toting their brand new baby boy
  • being caught in the first birthday season of all the friends who have already had babies
  • since we realized that people actually think we don't want kids or aren't that interested, when they have no idea of how badly we want this or how hard we're trying
  • every birthday that passes sending me further into my 30's
  • since we finally discovered that we needed to visit a fertility doctor to find out what was wrong
  • every time I struggle with how God made me and trying to accept His design as beautiful and not a mistake
  • and now with every blood test, invasive procedure, building hope, disappointment......
We have no shortage of pressure here. We're good, thanks. Still, we know that they mean well. They always do. They have no idea what they're saying, how their words are actually being taken. No idea that being single or not having kids doesn't mean that suddenly they have the right to ask anything they want about your personal life. No idea that we can't control our own time line on this. I hate being blamed in smiles and well wishes for not being parents yet, and think it's craziness that the majority of this comes from people outside of our families, people we don't know all that well to begin with. God be praised, we truly have the BEST families in the world. Our parents encourage us and pray for us, and never guilt trip us on why they're not grandparents yet. I know not all couples can say the same. The people who truly know us are the ones who offer us the most normalcy, the ones who can cry or laugh with us, and the ones who can honestly tell us that it is possible to just smile and offer grace to those who are trying to show concern and excitement in their own "special" way.

One thing that I'm learning along the way is that nothing is too small to give thanks for. As much as there is no shortage of pressure, there is also no shortage of blessing in the pain:
  • having a husband who lovingly keeps me from foolishly believing all of this is somehow my fault and who is willing to play an active role in this whole process
  • having a monthly cycle miraculously start on time so that we can get on with the rest of the testing
  • getting encouragement from the lab tech drawing my blood and listening to her point out good things that can come from all of this
  • those brief moments of realizing that God knows all about this and He designed this for good and for His glory
  • those brief moments of not comparing ourselves to every other couple and remembering that our story is unique
  • seeing little bits of growth in the absolute lowest points
  • having both of our parents and families not pressure us, but encourage us and pray for us
  • having a trusted circle of friends to stand beside us
  • learning more about other friend's stories who have had to go through the same or more difficult situations to get pregnant
  • learning to be more sensitive when it comes to how we talk to our single friends or those married with no children yet
  • growing closer as a couple through all of this
  • having the finances to afford doctor visits and treatments
  • remembering that whether we get babies through this process or through adopting, or both, we're still going to have a house full of amazing children someday
  • learning to trust God fully, even though it's a moment by moment struggle
So, we continue on learning more every day about grace, about God, about ourselves. We've hit bottom a few different times now, but we know that God is just as much beside us in the tears and valleys as He is in the hope and on the mountain tops.  

Monday, August 29, 2011


It has been some time since I've shared a little project with you, so this is a special day! Mostly, I've been painting trim, baseboards, and doors in our house bright white, but here's an idea that grabbed hold of me after watching the movie Miss Potter. Behold! A shadow box.....

About a month or so back I had found a shadow box at a garage sale for $2. (insert choirs singing here) It was a bit dusty, but that's an easy fix. I covered the back in leftover burlap. I used one large piece to cover the entire backing and then three strips across to give it some visual interest. I didn't need to glue it or pin it, because it fit nice and snug when I pressed the backing back into the box. After watching Miss Potter, I was inspired by a quote I heard, so I looked it up to make sure it was an actual Beatrix Potter quote which it was. The quote: "There is something delicious about writing the first few words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you." It seemed rather appropriate for where Mr. N. and I are in our lives right now and since we do love Beatrix Potter all systems were a go. 

I typed up the quote in a fancy font and printed it out on normal, white, copy paper. I cut out the quote leaving extra space around it, and then carefully burned the edges of the paper over a candle, allowing the edges to keep an organic shape. I only pinned it to the top, since I was afraid the hot glue would leave grease marks on the paper. I then used a little bird's nest party favor that we received at my brother-in-law's wedding. The eggs in it are Jordan almonds coated to look like Robin's eggs, so I sprayed a coat of polyurethane over them (we all know they last forever anyways, but a little extra coverage isn't a bad idea) and then hot glued them into the nest. I found two charcoal pencils from my days at art school and hot glued them at the bottom.

It's simple, but whimsical, and is now hanging proudly in our bathroom. =] Sometimes, less is more, and it's always fun to see what can be done with things you already have on hand.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Have you ever wanted something so badly that it hurt? I'm not talking about that pink, stuffed Unicorn when you were 5 (you know who you are), but something that your heart actually aches so badly for it's physically exhausting sometimes. I'm in that tugboat right now and taking on plenty of water, let me tell you. 

When I was growing up it seemed that all the world made sense. I mean, there was God who I loved, obeyed, and prayed to. There were rules to follow. There was mom and dad to guide me. There was my brother to play G.I. Joe's with. Yo, Joe! There was our Cookie Monster wagon and episodes of MacGyver were on after school if a baseball game wasn't interrupting them (don't even get me started on that one). There was also a pretty clear cut picture of what I was going to grow up to be and do........Wife and mom first, then maybe a career of some kind. But when becoming a wife took far longer than I'd anticipated, seeing as I didn't meet Mr. N. until I was 28, it threw me for a loop. And now we find ourselves waiting for a baby and just passed the point of one year of trying, well, needless to say I'm pretty floored and find myself scrambling to make sense of it all. It has certainly taken it's toll, the waiting, but it has also given me a chance to see more of who God truly is. Meaning I've come to understand that this time of trial is not some cosmic punishment sent from on high. It's a time to remember that God is good ALL the time, that He can see the big picture of what is going on, that He promises to work all things together for good and for His glory, and that I need to put my whole trust in Him knowing that He hears our prayers and knows our hearts. Yes, we rejoice for those we know who have been given this gift before us, but we do still struggle with the pain. However, I know that in the same moment that tears are pouring down my face when I hear that yet another couple around us is expecting, I can run to my Heavenly Father and know that He understands. And I can thank Him for loving Mr. N. and me enough to never leave our side during these times of refining and for everything He has so graciously given us. 

My Mr. N.



It's hard not to be thankful when I get to look at this bunch every day. =]

My prayer for you is that whatever you may be going through right now, no matter how difficult it may feel at times, that you would find the breath to give thanks even in the midst of the pain. We're not promised that things will make sense, but we are promised that God is faithful. Don't know about you, but that is a tremendous comfort for me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Set The Way Back Machine

Meet my dinosaur friend, Washburne. He keeps my ipod cozy and the music flowing, and was an incredible etsy find here. Remember what I said about naming inanimate objects? Friends, he is no exception. 

This morning whilst running errands, Washburne and I were rockin' the tunes, sipping on a tasty Peet's beverage (me, not Wash), and I started getting incredibly nostalgic. We all have those specific songs that take us to another dimension faster than you can say, "Beam me up, Scotty!". My trigger seems to be 90's Christian music and Christmas music. This morning it was my boy, SCC, that started the trip through way back machine.

I grew up listening to a combination of oldies classics, 1940's gems, and old school Christian music. Think Beatles plus Nat King Cole plus Steven Curtis Chapman. I remember my dad dedicating special songs to my family on the radio when he worked as a DJ. The Beach Boy's "Kokomo" never sounded so good. I remember religiously reading CCM Magazine and being the resident "expert" on all Christian music related questions at the little Christian school we went to. Hey, every kid has something. My mom and I would stay up until midnight on Saturday nights to watch the only Christian music video show that aired in our area and would get soooooo upset when they'd show re-runs. We would record the Dove Awards (Christian Grammy's) every April and cheer and jeer with an intensity that could only be compared to the cheering and jeering we would dish out at WWF matches. Oh-ho-ho, that's right, friends! (Remember when PFR sang into a Styrofoam cup?! Don't even get me started!) My family would go to any and every Steven Curtis Chapman concert near us, period. And after attending enough Christian concerts, we learned to embrace two words, "Reserved Seating". Don't they sound like the unmistakable ring of pure crystal or like the gentle beating of angel's wings? Hearing the phrase "General Admission" was like a four letter word that we tried to avoid AT.ALL.COSTS. I still won't go to any concert that has those two words attached to it, much to Mr. N's chagrin. (Seriously, anyone ever go to a general admission Carmen concert? No? Consider yourself fortunate for missing that vortex of pain and despair. I still have nightmares and bouts of dry heaving.) 

Christmas time was all about our sweet Chevron compilation cassette tapes. Those were the days when even the gas stations wanted to help you celebrate the sounds of the season. sigh. My brother developed an incredible Judy Collins impression from one of these tapes that he'll still share with us from time to time to our great amusement. Shout out, Judy! Being bundled in the back of my dad's Dodge Colt, driving around looking at Christmas lights, and hearing a little crooning from Bing or Nat was like breathing for us at that time of year. John Denver and the Muppets on vinyl was tradition, and it never seemed like Christmas until the music started. 

I look back and realize how much things have changed. My favorite artists of the past are older now and have had to redefine their music and audience. CCM itself isn't as relevant as it used to be for whatever reason, not to mention the fact that a lot of the artists are more concerned about being an alternative for a specific "secular" band then walking their own, unique musical path. I find myself rediscovering a lot of my favorites and looking to see what they've been up to for all these years....if I still can embrace their newest endeavors like I did back then. I'm discovering new artists that are marching to their own creative drummer and finding those songs that seem to speak to my journey, rather than listening or not listening because they fall under certain labels.  I'm appreciating that the classics of the past are classics for a reason, and Christmas still doesn't start for me until I hear Nat King Cole's version of "The Christmas Song".  Maybe things haven't changed quite as much as I think.

It's fun to revisit such music and remember. It's nice to have moments where I'm not afraid to kick it old school and sing at the top of my lungs in a secure vehicular type environment with only a dinosaur ipod cozy to hear me. Oh that we allowed ourselves to really embrace more moments like that. 

So, on this Thursday afternoon, turn up the music! Drive safely, of course, but do sing out loud! Go out and party like you're at a 1990's, reserved seating, Christian concert!     


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Let's Get Creative!

A very happy Wednesday morning to you all! Today feels like a much brighter day than yesterday was for me, and I feel a renewed sense of determination to tackle a few larger projects around the house. My mom and I were talking yesterday about our great need to be creative and how important being creative truly is, especially if God put that desire in you in the first place. So, I thought I'd show you a little project I just finished and a new one I'm going to be working on.

My Mr. N. is an Eagle Scout. That was one of the things that impressed me right off the bat about him and earned him MAJOR bonus points with my Grandparents, especially. =] He had quite a few pieces of memorabilia from those days placed in a box, but I really wanted to see them out and about considering how much work each precious patch represents. I looked into buying a large shadow box, but those are EXPENSIVE so I looked around to see what I had on hand. I started with an ordinary collage picture frame:
I removed the picture insert portion, but saved the cardboard backing. I then wrapped the cardboard backing with burlap (two layers worth, since you can see through it) that I'd purchased at JoAnn's Fabric (with a coupon!), cutting the burlap to be about an inch and a half or so around the edges. You'll just need to make sure you have enough to glue to the cardboard. Our cat, Pippin, was helping, as you can see.

Then I hot glued the burlap to the cardboard. The burlap is pretty thick, so I had to press down to make sure it was all sticking properly.

After hot gluing, it looked like this:

I then set out all of the memorabilia Mr. N. wanted to include, leaving room for any additional pieces we will need to get from his parents later on. It was a perfect time to let me move things around to fit properly before gluing.

Now, what I didn't take a picture of was that I used safety pins to pin both the sash and the scarf to the burlap. I didn't want to hot glue those particular items, so I was careful to get everything in line first and then pin it. I also pinned the corners of the scarf to the back where the burlap was glued. I hot glued each patch to the burlap. As for the pin at the top, I just pushed the pin straight into the cardboard, which was enough to keep it steady.

Fitting it into the frame was tricky, since it was so thick. However, after a bit of time, I was able to get it in there snug as a bug and still press the tiny metal brackets on the frame down around the cardboard piece to secure it in place. Here is the finished product:
Spiffy, no? The back doesn't look pretty, but we know what the Nester says, "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful", and it's not about the back, it's about the front, right? =] 

For another project I did that was similar, I used a flour sack dish towel for the fabric. There are definitely lots of inexpensive options out there.

The next project I'm going to start working on has to do with this little beauty. Behold!
We found this crate on the side of the road. Shocker, I know. Even though it's a tad beat up, it's going to look pretty epic once I'm finished with it (or so I tell myself along with playing the song "Eye of the Tiger" in my head). haha.

Hope you're finding ways to be creative this week, too! I'd love to see/hear about some of your projects! Happy creating! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tis the Season

I don't know about you, but it's a tad warm here today. Summer is upon us, it seems. Thank God for sandals and a cool-ish breeze. =]

In looking over my friend's blogs and facebook pages, I'm reminded of the reality that it seems to be the season for babies. Baby bellies, babies being born, baby pictures, baby showers. Even our church right now feels like a scene straight out of Bambi, or National Geographic, depending upon how I'm feeling on any given Sunday. Just kidding....sort of.

Here are some excellent tutorials I've found lately for homemade baby gifts. They're adorable, they're personal, and they're incredibly useful. You can walk proudly into the next baby shower you're invited to bearing your homemade homage to baby. =]

From Jessica at How About Orange here are some brilliant Pacifier Clips made from ribbons:
Photo from Jessica at How About Orange
These are adorable and inexpensive to make!

From Emily at Jones Design Company here are a few tutorials:
Custom burp clothes:
Photo from Emily at Jones Design Company
I absolutely love these and have heard that a new mom can never have enough burp clothes.
Hair clips for that fine baby girl hair:
Photo from Emily at Jones Design Company

And a sweet flower mobile/wreath for your little lady's crib:
Photo from Emily at Jones Design Company

Not to mention that Emily has a ton of great flower tutorials at her site, as well, so be sure to check it out.

And there are tutorials that you can download for a small fee for little dolls, or bunnies from our very own Martha Stewart. Emily at Jones Design also has her own versions of these two which I like better. =]

And Mr. N.'s talented cousin, Kristin's site has lots of sweet quilts and other fun things like this baby wipe holding pocket to try on your own.
Photo from Kristen at Simply Classic

In any case, you now have a little more of an arsenal for the baby season. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Anatomy of a Playlist

Meet Fred. He is the oldest of our Middle Earthlings at a whopping 8 and 3 quarters years old. I mention Fred, because he and I took a drive to the vet's office this morning so that he could have his teeth cleaned. Fred has had more visits to the dentist than I have since I got my braces off in 1997, which is impressive since he wasn't actually born until 2002. Lucky boy! He would disagree. Fred has a bit of a split personality. He's a lover at home. He loves a good nap, and by love, I mean he understands and respects the deep layers of brilliance and reverence that naps deserve, like I do. He's playful and, when he wants to, he'll actually fetch his toys when you throw them to him. But at the vet's office, he's what they call a "Hugs and Kisses Kitty". That little phrase stands in for one big four letter word, "RAGE". Oh yes! I can't really blame him. I mean, it must be frightening to go into an office filled with other animals that you've pretty much only seen from the living room window and have strangers poke you with needles and such. Like people, each animal handles the fear differently. Our girl, Merry, will purr, especially if she's with Mr. N., and remind the doctor and the staff of just how enchanting she really is. Pippin tends to embrace the fear and channel his anger into a rigid body, toothless hiss, and taco rolled tongue. He looks like a cobra ready to strike. It's pretty impressive, actually. Anyways, while Fred and I were in the car, I turned on my ipod and chose my favorite play list to calm his nerves. 

My favorite play list is entitled "Little Miss Sunshine" after the Richard Hargreaves children's book with a little bit of Alan Arkin, from the movie titled the same, thrown in. It's compiled of my most favorite songs. Not the ones that are just enjoyable, mind you, but the ones that make me feel AMAZING (thanks, dude!). The songs that I actually hope will come up next and start a mental dance party during (the only place I look good dancing. *tear). This play list is kind of like an explosion of 1940's big band meets The Swell Season with bits of shrapnel from the Steven Curtis Chapman mullet days, Mumford and Sons, and my favorite Christmas music. It's like a diet cherry coke with crushed ice and tater tots on a hot summer day. It has soothing properties. Fred seemed to calm down as soon as "Footloose" came on. I'm not sure he was visualizing Kevin Bacon dancing the same way I was, but that's his loss my problem okay. 

After a quick Starbucks run, my mind wandered from how difficult it is to drop my sweet boy off for the day every single time I have to, to how scary it is for both of us, to fear, to risk, to needing to be in control, to getting my hopes up, to that SNL skit of Will Ferrell singing "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" Lawrence Welk Show style and projectile vomiting (Andy William's version is in my play list for that very reason). Doesn't taking risks feel like that sometimes?! There's so much excitement and anticipation that seem to wrap us up in the festive sweater and turtleneck of a 1950's holiday special, but there's also the intense anxiety and projectile vomiting in realizing that we may fail, we may lose, we may have our hopes dashed again, we may not be in control of what happens next, and knowing that we really have no idea what the bleep is going on. All the what-ifs. A friend of mine recently gave a new clarity to a very familiar verse. "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things." Philippians 4:8 She focused on the word "True" and said that the things we worry about, the what-ifs that we blow to king-sized proportions, the futures we worry about, all of those things are not truths. Yes, it's good to be cautious sometimes, to be informed, and to make the proper preparations for our futures, but creating scenarios of what could be, or what we think should be, means that we're creating an imaginary world of sorts for ourselves and not focusing on what we know to be true, namely that God has everything under control. From Fred's vet visit, to which job He has just around the corner for us, to when we'll meet our future spouse, or be given the gift of a child, to how we'll pay next month's rent, to the state of our country....He knows it all. It doesn't make the waiting any easier, it doesn't always bring clarity, nor does it take away the fear and anxiety of not understanding His timing or His ways, but we know that He hears us, He grants us grace in each difficult moment, and will keep us going. Sometimes it's about the faith of stepping out, sometimes it's about the faith of staying back, and sometimes it's just about the faith of taking our fears, our worries, our frustrations, our hopes, our dreams and laying them before Him admitting that we're at a loss. Turning towards Him rather than away from Him in the tough times.

It really is a process. I guess it's good that I have a swinging soundtrack on this crazy journey. =]

"....Everybody cut footloose....."!