Monthly Wrap-Up: February

Holy crap, is it really the last day of February?!?  And, holy crap, have I really not written anything for 2 weeks?!?  What in the world is going on with me???  Needless to say, my goal to write one post a day this month was an epic FAIL!  But I'm okay with that because life got in my way, not just laziness or neglect, and there's always March, right?



So what did I manage to write about this month?  I did a photo an hour project, and loved it!  Jack and I spent an afternoon at the park.  I turned a fridge into a pantry and unpacked more stuff.  Dennis worked on the front porch railings while Jack and I kept him company, and I kissed Jack...a lot.  I also bought a planner, but I don't like it all that much and need to make myself use it.

What I didn't manage to write about:  our visit with my Mom in Louisiana, more progress on the porch railings, NKOTB on tour again (!!!), working with my friend, Consuela, to decorate her house, the new kitchen layout, and plenty of other stuff.

In March, the only goal I have is to redesign the look of the blog.  I love the green and orange, but it's just looking a little juvenile to me and want to spruce things up a bit.  I hope to unpack some more, and bring more stuff from the old house over, and maybe do some painting.  Oh yeah, and to do some writing!


I'm linking this post up with Truly Chic Inspirations.  Check out what everyone has been up to this month!

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Priming the Porch Railings


This afternoon, Jack and I kept Dennis company while he got the front porch railings ready to be painted.



The round rails aren't going to get painted; they're just getting clear coated so they don't rust.  We like the way they look all nice and silver.  It really sets them apart since the rest of the railing is made from square steel.  I convinced Den to paint the thick square steel the same teal as the accents on the house, and the smaller square steel in the same purple.  He's not so sure about the colors; he wants to stick with basic black.  I think it'll look fabulous!  He wasn't so sure about a purple house, either, and the purple looks a-mazing!





The center curlicue is going to get painted yellow so it'll really stand out.  If it all ends up looking horrible, we can always repaint it standard black.  But I know it'll look great! 


I made the personal goal of posting once a day, every day in February.  After my email got hacked a couple of days ago I kind of lost steam for posting, but now I'm back and to make up for not posting for two days, I'm going to post three times today....hopefully.  And one of those posts may actually be a meat and potatoes post with real content!

Post 2 of 3!
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Happy Valentine's Day



I stole borrowed this photo idea from Pinterest.  Follow me here.



I made the personal goal of posting once a day, every day in February.  After my email got hacked a couple of days ago I kind of lost steam for posting, but now I'm back and to make up for not posting for two days, I'm going to post three times today....hopefully.  And one of those posts may actually be a meat and potatoes post with real content!
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Hacked

My primary email account just got hacked and sent out a bunch of spam to my contact list.  Whoever does things like that should just go jump off a building because obviously their lives aren't worth living if hacking email accounts is the best they can do with themselves.

I was going to write a real post, but this just happened and kind of wrecked my night.

I'm sure I'll be back to myself tomorrow.

If' you're an email hacker, I hope you choke on it.


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Pantry Fridge

Our kitchen is a huge work in progress.  When we bought the house, the kitchen had the worst possible layout ever.  We played around with some ideas of how we could arrange things and I promise, some day, a post will be written detailing what we've decided to do.  We never figured we would have to gut the entire kitchen, but that's exactly what ended up happening in order to rip out the old floors and  install our new floors.  In fact, this is what the kitchen looked like the day Jack was born; obviously not move in ready.

A lot has been done to the kitchen in a short amount of time and I'll soon do a photo timeline to show all the progress that has been made. Although it's not "done,"  it's very livable and functional.  We still have a lot of stuff in boxes because we haven't installed all the cabinets or the pantry yet.  In fact, all our unrefrigerated food is in random boxes in the kitchen and butler's pantry.  Let's just say this makes cooking a little challenging.

I was feeling frustrated the other day while digging through boxes looking for pasta when it dawned on me that we have an extra fridge just sitting in our dining room, completely unused.  The extra fridge is the one that was originally in the kitchen when we bought the place, but we decided to move our fridge from the old house into kitchen because we like it better.  The extra fridge is camping out in the dining room until we get around to selling it, and it's a good thing we still have it because I decided to temporarily turn it into our pantry!  Stroke of genius!  And I got rid of 4 more boxes.  The unpacking continues...



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Blog Take Away - A Linky Par-Tay!


I know, I know, this is a lazy blog post, but I'm going to a virtual par-tay today!  This is the first link up for link up's sake I'm participating in, so I'd better go get my pretty dress and dancing shoes on because some networking is about to go down!  For real, yo!

The hosts of this little virtual party are Daddy Space, Mrs. Mummy, Call Her Happy, Nanny to Mommy, This Day I Love, and The Sapphire Bee.

Here's some party music to get you in the mood:


Now go get a drink and mix and mingle.


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Friday's Letters

Photobucket

Dear blog:  I'm going to make you beautiful.  Right now you're the cute girl in the corner, and a total makeover is coming.  You will be stunning.  Eventually.  We're gonna work on that.
Dear digital point and shoot cameras:  Why do you take such horrible low light pictures?  You don't use film!  Just capture the image as I see it displayed on the screen!  THERE'S NO NEED FOR SUCH A SLOW SHUTTER SPEED!!!  No more blurry pics, m'kay?
Dear Jack:  Holy crap, you're in the next size onesies, and the next size diaper covers.  What???
Dear old house:  I'm sorry I said I never felt at home there.  That wasn't true at all.  I've had the best years of my life there, but it's time to move on.  Breaking up is hard to do.
Dear Dennis:  I love you.  Thanks for putting up with my crazy.  And for being such a great dad.

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Planning it All Out: Weekly To-Do List



I did some blog maintenance today, and looking back over some of my old posts, I realized I have a tendency for setting myself up to fail by trying to do too much all at once.  I get really excited about all the things I want to do and then spend all my time thinking about them or planning them instead of actually doing them.  Then I feel like crap for not achieving all the wonderful things I was daydreaming about.  I have a lifetime history of getting in over my head.

I was reading some old posts and my old to-do lists were insane!  I was trying to map out an entire month of things to accomplish and I am just way to spontaneous and lack the focus necessary for planning out an entire month in advance like that.  What was I thinking???  I may be able to break some bad habits and become more of the person I see myself as, but at my core I'm going to be who I have always been.  And that's okay.  I don't want to be a new person, I want to be a better version of the person I already am.

I realize as a mom I'm going to have to start planning ahead a little more than I do, which is to say, I'm going to have to start planning ahead, because before Jack there was no planning at all.  I always carried around a day planner and have several apps on my phone for managing my schedule and to-do lists, but I would write things down or enter them in the phone and never look at them again!  Ha!

I think I'm going to start small this time; lesson learned, right?  I bought a planner.  It's not the one I wanted, but I'll make it work.  I won't complain about what it doesn't have or what I don't like about it.  What I do like is it has a space for a weekly to-do list.  And it's not a gillion lines long; it's 5 simple lines.  Surely I can decide on 5 things to do each week and accomplish them.  Right?  And if I can't do 5, I'll try 3, and if I can't do 3 (surely I can do 3), I'll do 1.  I'm thinking of listing 2 things for the house, 1 thing for the blog, 1 thing for myself, and 1 miscellaneous thing.   And I'm not going to make myself fill out all 5 lines at one time.  I'll fill out the list as the mood strikes me if I can't come up with enough of a plan all at once.

Things that won't be going on that list are day to day chores like sweeping, laundry, or dishes.  Those things need to be done regardless, and I don't get any extra points for doing them, even with a baby.

What are some ways you stay organized and on top of your to-do list?  Do you write things down or use an app on your phone?  How do you stay motivated to cross things off the list?  Do you reward yourself?  How?  Any suggestions for me?
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The Unpacking Continues

I hate living out of boxes.  It makes things feel so transient, chaotic, and cluttered.  When I moved into the old house with Dennis, he had already lived there for about a year and had all the things a home needs.  It was tough for me to get around to unpacking my things, since we didn't really need most of them, and so my crap sat in boxes for the last 11 years.  I acquired new crap and forgot about the old crap.  I don't want that to happen to the new house.  I've been thinking of this move as The Big Purge; a chance to get rid of all the crap I don't need/want/love/use.  So far, we've only brought things that fit in those categories to the new place, and I want to get them out of boxes as quickly as possible.

The first couple of weeks in the new place I did a bang up job of starting the unpacking process (even with a baby).  Every day I made progress, even if it was just one box getting unpacked.  I made sure to set our bed up first thing.  I was determined to have the living room look good for Christmas.  I put as much away in the semi-finished kitchen as possible.  But then I ran out of steam.  Things were comfortable enough even though we still had to dig through boxes every day for clothes, pots and pans, food, and toiletries.

Now I'm getting sick of the boxes and I don't want them to become a permanent part of the landscape.  So I tackled another two boxes yesterday.  The trip I took to the old house was to pick up my sock and underwear dresser and to get a bookshelf for Jack's room.  I was having to dig through a box of unorganized socks and underwear every day.  The box was overflowing, unsightly, and in the way, and I wasn't going to put up with it anymore.

my fancy lingerie box; and stacks of boxes in the hallway

The dresser has similar dimensions as the box, so I though I'd just clean the cobwebs off the dresser and put it right where the box was.  The cats were very interested in helping me clean the dust and cobwebs off the dresser.


I've had this dresser since I was a teenager, and the top is a little worse for wear.  I think I'm going to have to DIY something to it to make it look a little better.  I'm not sure what I want to do yet, though.  I was thinking of painting the top, but I'm just not sure what to paint.  One solid color seems like it would be too heavy, but a pattern or stencil wouldn't cover up the uneven stains.  I have time to figure it out.  Everything is a work in progress around here.


After the dresser was all cleaned up, I moved it into the bedroom where the box had been, but I immediately hated it there.  It stuck out like a sore thumb.  It blocked the doorway and looked chunky and out of place.  And, yes, you can see all the way into the box filled extra bedroom, and yes, that is an overflowing box of clothes to the right of the bedroom door.


I decided the dresser needed to go somewhere else and the only other place in the room was where that overflowing box sat.  So I unpacked that box and moved the dresser into its spot.  What you can't see in any of these pictures, and I can't believe I didn't get a shot of it, is the clothes hamper that sits just to the left of the closet door on the wall the dresser was originally against.  Anyway, once I moved the dresser into its much better spot, the clothes hamper looked really bad against the other wall, so I made room for it next to the dresser.  A new hamper is on my very long list of things for the new house.  Basic white plastic with a Vans sticker on it isn't exactly the refined look I'm going for.  I want less dorm room and more vacation retreat.


This dresser isn't going to live in that spot forever.  I have plans on putting this dresser from Ikea against that wall eventually.  Right now it won't fit because of the co-sleeper attached to my side of the bed.  For now, this works just fine and is way better than that cardboard box.

*I can't believe how green our bedroom walls look in all these pictures.  In real life it's a much darker, grayer green.*
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Introspection



Yesterday's trip out to the old house got me thinking today.  I started this blog as a way to reinvent myself.  I didn't like who I was at the time and I wanted to make myself a better person.  I carried around a lot of bad habits, and, unfortunately, I really haven't changed much in the two years I've been blogging.  Major life events have happened; we bought a house and had a baby, and although those are two of the biggest ticket items on my original list of goals, it's some of the smaller things that plague me.  I'm still the same person I always was, I just own a home now and have a baby.  I'm still messy.  I'm still distracted.  I still can't get rid of clutter.

Having a baby and buying a home are new beginnings.  The start of a family;  the planting of roots.  I have a fresh start with a clean slate to begin again, trying to be that person I see in my head.  A better version of me is within my grasp, if I don't muck it up.  Old habits die hard and change isn't easy, but it is possible.  And I think it'll be easier now.  The change in venue is already making things easier for me.  I know you can't leave bad habits behind just by moving to a new place.  They have a way of following you.  But I don't have to let them in my new home.  I really think I have a chance of succeeding this time around.
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The Old House



I had to go by our old house today to pick up some stuff.  It's been about a month since I was last there, and it's the strangest thing to have to go back.  I don't like having to go back, even though most of our stuff is still there.  I never fully realized how stifled and anxious I felt there until I go back.  Not to say that the old house doesn't have a place in my heart; after all, I lived there longer than anywhere else, even my childhood homes.  It's the first place Dennis and I called home together, and I've lived my entire adult life there.  We took Jack home from the hospital there.  But the old house represents all the things I want to change or leave behind:  all my shortcomings, all my failures, all my bad habits, all the things I didn't accomplish, so it's tough to have to go back there, even to get things I want.

Dennis says it's like returning to the scene of a crime.  For me it's a very tangible past that I very much want to move on from.  I am so overwhelmed with melancholy when I'm back there.  I never imagined I would feel this way about a place I called home for 11 years.  Going back makes me wonder if I ever actually felt at home there.  I know I should have and I probably did (of course I did, right?), but now I feel so out of place when I'm there I can't imagine ever feeling at home.

It's lonesome out there in the country, isolated, even though we were still in the city limits.  There weren't really any neighbors; just warehouses and pastureland with a few trailer parks in between.  No sidewalks, no retail, no community.  We lived on an acre of land and I never even went outside to enjoy it.  I don't know if it was me or the house.  It always felt heavy, oppressive.   The ghosts of the people who lived there before us were still there; ironic, since it's a family home, and my in-laws were the ones there before us.  I never had room for my things, even when we would make room for them.  I would paint or rearrange furniture, hang pictures and decorate, but the place never felt like it was mine because it wasn't.  After a while, I just stopped trying.  It was overwhelming.  I felt smothered.  Sad, but true.

I'm so glad we don't live there anymore.  I think that's the saddest part.  I don't miss it at all.

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Sunday Adventure: Hermann Park

Today was too beautiful to just stay inside, so I took Jack to the park to get some fresh air.  Since we now live inside the Loop and very close to Hermann Park, I loaded up the boy, grabbed my new point and shoot, Nikon COOLPIX S6300, and headed to the park to take a few pictures.

The first place we stopped was Miller Outdoor Theatre.  It took so long for us to find a parking spot, Jack was cranky and hungry, so I decided to sit down in the shade and relative privacy of the theatre to nurse him a little.  This has always been one of my favorite places in Houston.  This is one of the first places Dennis showed me, way back before I moved to Houston, because he knew how much I love theatre.

Miller Outdoor Theatre



We walked over to the reflection pool after Jack was done nursing.






From there we wandered over to the lake to watch the pedal boats.  This sort of reminds me of watching the row boats in Central Park; just a little.  When Jack is older, we're definitely going to rent a boat.  It looks like so much fun!



I didn't realize the park has it's own gift shop.  It's been years since I've been to this side of the park.



After watching the boaters for a bit, we went over to the Japanese Gardens.  




Jack fell asleep in the sling, so I decided it was time to head home.


We parked near the Houston Museum of Natural Science, so we meandered back in that direction.



All in all, a lovely way to spend the afternoon.  As much as I wish we got winter weather here, I can't deny how beautiful it was today.

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Day in the Life, February 1, 2013

I've been meaning to give this a try for some time now.  I first saw this on a blog I read, So Yeah...So.  April documents one day with a photo taken every hour.  I've been hesitant to give it a shot because I didn't want to feel like I was stealing an idea from her (even though other bloggers do it, too--the photo an hour, not the idea stealing), but when I woke up yesterday and actually had a moment to check my RSS feed, the very first post was from A Slob Comes Clean about her Day in the Life project that she does as part of an annual link up via the blog Simply Rebekah.  


I had already decided I was going to try to write one blog post a day this month and a photo an hour post seemed like a good idea. The stars had aligned and it was time for me to do my own photo an hour post.  I grabbed my iPhone and snapped a pic, and I used my Instagram app for each picture.  So here is a gloriously mundane day in the life of a new mommy.


8:30 am
I am useless without coffee

9:30 am
nursing Jack & checking FB

10:30 am
cranky baby

11:30 am
dishes & laundry

12:30 pm
getting sidetracked on FB with Jack

1:30 pm
made it to the grocery store

2:30 pm
successful grocery trip

3:30 pm
diaper & outfit change; play time

4:30 pm
folding laundry

5:30 pm
catching up on The Office while nursing Jack

6:30 pm
more laundry and dinner prep

7:30 pm
milk drunk & well fed

8:30 pm
bath time

9:30 pm
evening tea with Dennis

10:30
tucked in and ready for bed

And here's the crazy part of my day:  Jack slept for 9 hours last night!  No middle of the night feeding or diaper change!  He was still asleep when I got up at 6:30.  At one point, in the middle of the night, Dennis rolled over and said, "He's starting to wake up."  Jack was grunting in his sleep, but he does that sometimes.  I said, "Wait till he's actually awake."  And we went back to sleep.

6:30 am
still asleep

7:30 am
woke, nursed, back to sleep

8:30 am
I'm being watched


Wow, this project was so much fun to do!  I can't believe I was so hesitant to give this a try.  I will be doing this again!




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