Monday, November 29, 2010

I have reached my breaking point

Many of you have been asking for an update on what we are doing with our lives, and I've been putting off answering because  . . . well . . . we don't really have any answers yet.  When we moved into this apartment Larry was just about to finish his fellowship and flying all over the place for job interviews, and we figured it wouldn't be long before we were settled somewhere so we found a small apartment with a nice landlord who agreed to let us lease month to month and we hunkered down for what I thought would be a couple months, tops.  We sent most of our belonging to storage, but it didn't matter, it wouldn't be long, right?  I remember saying that if we still lived here for Halloween I would be really sad because I wouldn't have the space to throw a party and all of my decorations would be in storage along with my sewing machine.  Larry said he was sure I didn't need to worry about that.  Christmas in this apartment didn't even occur to me.  Decorations, winter coats and boots, down comforters, bigger clothes for Ollie and Creed: all in storage.

Well, now it's been almost seven months and things are . . . the same.  Larry's had some offers, but he's still interviewing, and it doesn't look like he's going to make a decision anytime soon. Luckily, his research team at the U has let him stay on as a consultant, and he's picked up some moonlighting shifts so we are doing ok, but this is not how I imagined life after supporting him through nine years of medical training.

About a month ago, after an awful grown-up neighbor taunted Creed to tears, I reached my breaking point.  I cannot control Larry's job situation, but I cannot live in this tiny apartment any longer! Ollie still wakes up several times a night and we can't let him cry or the neighbors complain (the very same neighbors who made Creed cry, but let's not get into that one), and I hate for the landlord to have to deal with that when he did us a favor by letting us have a month-to-month lease.  We have no yard for the boys to play in.  Larry has to haul all of our laundry to the laundromat which takes ages.  Ollie makes a mad dash to the furnace and water heater, which are exposed in our hallway, every time I set him down because he is fascinated by the flames and the pipes, which is terrifying.  We don't have any extra storage space so it's impossible to put everything away; I'm constantly tripping over everything and hiding Christmas gifts is a joke. And did I mention that Ollie doesn't have a room?  He's nine months old and he sleeps in a pack-and-play that we shuffle from room to room and he doesn't even have a dresser, he just has a couple of messy plastic bins I threw into the back of Creed's closet.  I'm definitely feeling some mom guilt over that one.

We need to move.

So we started looking for a house to rent, but that's difficult when you can't commit to at lease a year-long lease.  In fact, if you want to live in a decent house in a safe neighborhood, it's nearly impossible.
After walking through several options that make me cringe, we have found a new apartment.  It's a shared house and the apartment isn't much bigger than where we live now, which I'm not excited about, but it has a long list of benefits: the boys will have a yard, we will have a garage, there's an unfinished basement to stow away the extra things we need on hand, there's a washer and dryer in the basement, I won't have to roll the dishwasher across the kitchen and hook it up to the sink, it's only one block away, there's not a furnace in the hallway, it's just been completely remodeled so everything is brand new, the landlords seem really nice, AND it was the one and only decent place we found that would let us have a shorter lease.

So now we are moving.  This week.  And I am in charge of a bunch of things for Enrichment Tuesday night.  And I am sick.  And my mom is out of town.  And Larry's step dad is having surgery so his mom will be busy.  And we have not packed a single box yet. And we have not called any of the utility companies. And we have not reserved a moving van.  And there is a foot of fresh snow outside. And I'm am feeling a little sick about the whole thing because moving to a new apartment is like admitting to myself that I don't see Larry accepting a job anywhere in the near future, and things are going to continue to be uncertain around here.

And that's my whiny, blogging-at-2-a.m.-update.

I better get to bed because things always look better in the morning, right?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Once Upon a Time, Long, Long Ago . . .

Amanda, Kristin, and I threw a baby shower for Eva.  If you read the Sycamore Street Press blog, you know that sweet baby Ingrid has arrived!  I have yet to meet Ingrid since Creed's been sick, and now I'm sick so I'll just have to make due with posting about her shower and looking forward to holding that little one when we're all better.

We knew Eva wanted something simple and relaxed so she could chat with all her friends so we put together a cookies and milk baby shower.  We held the shower at Kristin's house and Kirk insisted in pitching in by letterpressing the invites that Kristin designed.
We all made a few different kinds of cookies and some of the guests brought cookies too so it was a feast!

I was happy to finally have a reason to test my new message cookie cutters and I loved how well they worked.
 Two days before the shower, Kristin and I realized that we had no activity planned for the shower, and we thought it might be nice since a lot of the guests didn't know each other so she picked up some onesies and trim, and I picked up ribbon and brought sewing supplies, and we let Eva's crafty friends decorate onesies.
 I wish I would have taken pictures of all of the onesies because they turned out really cute, but I did get a picture of my favorite made by Susan.

It was so much fun to watch Eva open all of her gifts because there were a lot of lovely homemade things.  She really has some clever friends!
And thanks to the bounty of cookies, we were able to let each gift fill a box with cookies to take home.

I borrowed this last photo from Eva's sister-in-law, Kirsten's blog.

Kirk and Eva are such great friends so it was really nice to be able to help do something for them.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Turkey for me and Turkey for You

This was a low-key Thanksgiving with most of our siblings and family out of town or otherwise engaged (like being busy caring for our first niece ever, Lucy Ford!).  We stayed at my parents' and feasted at Larry's mom's, and even though I only took a few blurry photos, I caught a lot of what I want to remember, a glimpse of everyone in their element.

My dad working on one of his gourmet concoctions to feed us on Wednesday night (chicken pesto pizza with grilled onions and red peppers, topped with potatoes and cheese, which was as amazing as it sounds. Why didn't I inherit his cooking skills?  I love just being in the kitchen with him watching him work)
 My mom starting on the holiday decorating while listening to Christmas music.
 Creed excited to help me in the kitchen.  We made 10 dozen rolls because Thanksgiving just isn't Thanksgiving without my mom's recipe for rolls.
 Catching a little of the Macy's Parade Thanksgiving morning.
 Ollie getting ready for his first feast
 Creed playing with the same toys Larry played with at that age.  I don't usually hesitate to toss things when they are no longer being used, but Larry's mom's collection of his old toys makes me want to hold onto the favorites at our house to share with the next generation.
 Larry's mom playing with the kids
 And Larry shopping his heart out.  I wanted to avoid Black Friday, but he couldn't wait to get out there, which entertained me enough that I was happy to go along with him.
Oh, we have so much to be grateful for!

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical

I've been looking forward to Creed getting old enough to start going to live performances.  He rarely makes it through a movie so even though I've been dying to take him to the circus or a play or a concert, we've held off because we wanted to be sure his first experience would be a good one.  When my mom called me to tell me out a performance of Knuffle Bunny: a Cautionary Musical I knew it would be perfect for Creed since it's based on one of his favorite books by Mo Willems, it's only an hour long, and my mom, Marissa, and Logan would be joining us.

Well, the fateful night arrived, and lo and behold, there was a blizzard warning.  Yikes! Luckily, the weather in Provo wasn't too bad so we decided to brave the storm and keep our promises to these very excited little guys.
 It was worth it to see Creed dancing in his seat and cracking up.
 He has carried his Knuffle Bunny everywhere since then.
 I remember the first play that my mom took me to when when I was about five.  We lived in Tennessee and it was a children's play about Peter Pan, and I was pulled from the audience to be Pam Pan.  Since then I've fallen in love with literature and theater.  I even spent four months living in London seeing every play I could afford.  Maybe it's sounds silly, but I think that's part of the reason I've been hesitant to take Creed to any live performances; I love them so much that I knew I would be disappointed if Creed didn't, but I want him to be his own person.  Do you ever feel that way about sharing things with your kids?  It makes me wonder if there was anything that my parents were excited to share with me and my siblings.  I know I got my love of old musicals and holiday decorating from my mom and my love of quirky films from my dad, but if he ever hoped I'd be a soccer star, I sure did disappoint (he played on a semi-professional team and gave it up to go to school).

Parenting gives you a whole new perspective, doesn't it?  I might have disappointed my parents by not sharing some of their interests, but I'm pretty sure they felt the same way that I do about Creed, I just want him to find things he's passionate about so he can live a happy life.  For now I guess it's just about exposing him to what's out there and helping him explore.  Those big dimpled grins are worth it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Around here the first big snowstorm of the year means . . .

The first big snowman!
 Creed was so excited to go out there to make a snowman, but he had to wait a few days because he's been sick.  He finally go the go ahead yesterday.
 I love that this has become our tradition and he looks forward to it as much as me.  I also love this snowman's super sparkly smile.
 The best part was that our neighbor Tyler came out to make a snowman too so there are two happy snowmen out on our lawn!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hello, my name is Stephanie, and I am a collector of things

I've always been a collector of things.  I can't seem to help myself.  Lately, I seem to collect practical things, but they are certainly just as treasured.  Here are a few examples.

1.  Pretty stamps.  Every time I stop by the post office, it seems I walk away with some pretty stamps.  I'm not a real stamps collector because I don't keep them, I just like to have beautiful stamps on hand for mailing things.  This way I don't have to grit my teeth as I slap an ugly stamp on correspondence that I went to so much effort to make pretty.

2.  Fun birthday candles.  I rarely bake cakes, but it seems like whenever I have, I've rummaged through our kitchen looking for candles only to come up empty handed, and birthdays just aren't as magical without a birthday wish, are they? A few years ago, I decided to be better prepared, and now I get a little thrill every time I spot new birthday candles when I'm shopping (I never claimed I was cool).

These sparkler candles and rainbow candles are from Target.
 And I think I found these Prism color flame candles at my neighborhood grocery store.

Do you collect any practical things like this?  Do fun birthday candles and cute stamps make you happy?

When you walk into the kitchen and spot this face

you know something is up!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

These Pictures are Making Me Hungry

So I mentioned that I helped Rachel throw a Halloween party.  All my photos are terrible because it was DARK (things were a little bit rushed because Creed was sick the night before and I wasn't sure if we would make it to the party), but I'm sharing them with you anyway to give you some ideas in case you ever want to put together a s'mores bar of your own.
 I went a little out of control with component for the s'mores bar, but it was so much fun seeing the concoctions people came up with and it was so yummy!

Here's what we provided:
Cookies: Mint milanos, chocolate M&M cookies, ginger thins, graham crackers, chocolate chip cookies, almond cinnamon thins, and pretzels
 Marshmallows: plain, chocolate swirl, and toasted coconut
 Chocolate: Caramellos, Classic Hershey's Milk Chocolate, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Symphony Bar, Andes Mints, Cookies and Creme Bars, Dove Milk Chocolates
 Fruit: Raspberries, bananas, strawberries, and shredded coconut
 and then this post gave me the idea to include a few spices: Nutmeg, salt, and cinnamon

In the background you can see the prizes for the best masks; some caramel apples to take home and a ribbon that I made for each of them to wear.
 Rachel hand cut out a bunch of luminaries and put them around the yard and we put candles all over the ingredient table to light it up.  She also provided several types of hot chocolate and flavored syrups for guests (because, you know, we didn't have enough sugar)
 Larry threw together a Halloween soundtrack and we just had fun hanging out and snacking
 There was also a rousing game of marshmallow whiffle ball that I missed taking pictures of.  Rachel and Jeff regularly play whiffle ball with stale, large, campfire marshmallows in their backyard so they don't have to worry about damage caused by lost balls and Rachel actually painted them with glow-in-the-dark paint to add to the fun
 And here are a few of our guests in their masks

 I guess Ollie wasn't sure what to think of my mask

 Creed was having such a blast that I barely caught a photos of him (plus, we made him stay inside and watch a movie for most of the party since he was still recovering)
I highly recommend putting together a s'mores bar of your own.  It was so much fun that I think it might become an annual tradition.

Thanks for hosting Rachel and Jeff!

Monday, November 15, 2010

This Week I . . .

  • Designed two wedding invitations that I still have to keep a secret.
  • Finished Christmas shopping for the boys! Don't be too impressed, I still have to buy gifts for many other people, but I'm hoping to finish early so I can enjoy the christmas season.
  • Attended Parent teacher conference at Creed's school and glowed when they told me he was their favorite little guy and they couldn't think of a single thing that we should be working on at home with him.
  • Checked out Christmas books at the library and started listening to Christmas music in the car (shhh, don't tell Larry; he has a strict no-Christmas-music-before-December policy).
  • Tried a new recipe for penne Frittata with Basil and ricotta because I have a terribly limited list of things I can make for dinner so I'm trying really hard to branch out.  Cooking intimidates me so I'm just adding one new recipe every time I meal-plan. This recipe was pretty good, but not added to our list of favorites.
  • Finished watching the last season of Project Runway with Tai and Kersten.  Gretchen won ?!?!?!?
  • Looked at a few really awful apartments and debated over whether it is time to move since we're still unsure where and when Larry will accept a new job.
  • Purchased tickets to take Creed to Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical.  I think he will love it, and as an added bonus, my mom, Marissa, and Logan will be coming too!
  • Cancelled a meeting with a talent agent that spotted Ollie while we were out and about because I felt a little weird about it (although I will admit that I was flattered)
  • Followed Creed on countless bike rides around the neighborhood.  I'm not sure what rekindled his love for his bike, but why oh why did it have to be the moment the weather turned frigid?  
  • Started working on my line for Sycamore Street Press 2011, and I have a LONG way to go, but I'm really excited about a few of my ideas.
  • Sampled Sweet Potato Pie and Pumpkin cupcakes at The Sweet Tooth Fairy
  • Was surprised by Larry with tickets to the Brandon Flowers concert only to realize that I won't be able to make it because I will be hosting the Children's Literature Book Club that night.
  • Made plans to spend Thanksgiving with Larry's mom and her husband, a first for us!
So why is it that I still feel like I got absolutely nothing done this week?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Spotted and hearted

I miss the local blog, Your Heart Out.  They used to have a feature called "Spotted and Hearted" with snapshots highlighting things they spotted in local stores, and I've been thinking about it as I've been spotting really fun things while holiday shopping. I don't need most of these so maybe just taking photos of them and sharing will be enough retail therapy for me.

Since a lot of you don't live locally, I thought I'd start off with a big chain so this is what I spotted yesterday at Michael's :  small porcelain loaf pans for $1.00.  Wouldn't they be a great way to package small loaves of bread to deliver to neighbors?  I was tempted to buy like 20 of them and then I remembered that I don't bake bread.
 I also love the new Martha Stewart holiday line.  I might have picked up some baker's twine and washi tape for myself because it's on sale right now.
I'm tempted to go back to get this snowflake trim punch.  It would make really pretty packaging.

Did I mention that I Helped Throw a Halloween Party?

What's that?  It's mid-November?  Perfect time for me to start blogging about Halloween parties, eh? I still think this is an idea worth sharing, even if it is late because this party was fun, and it would be really easy to duplicate so you might want to try something like this next year.

My friend Rachel (who is incredibly awesome) decided to throw a Halloween get-together and invited me to help since I wouldn't be throwing a Halloween party in my crowded apartment this year, and you know how I love throwing parties.

It was rather last-minute and informal, but we still wanted the invitations to be fun so this is what we came up with.

 Rachel picked up a few pumpkins that we spray painted with chalkboard paint and then we wrote the information on the pumpkins with a chalk ink pen (If you're going to try this, we suggest starting with primer because we didn't and the paint started to scrape off when we were writing on them).

We put masks on the pumpkins because we asked each guest to wear a mask and told them there would be a prize for the best homemade mask.  I use the term "party" loosely, it was basically just an excuse to get together with a few friends to eat lots and lots of smores and we figured asking everyone to arrive in a mask made things a little more festive.
 Rachel tied some chalk to each pumpkin so guests could wash off their pumpkins and use them to doodle.  I wish my handwriting was prettier, but good enough, right?
It turned out to be such a fun night.  More on that soon . . .

Looking Forward to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Hmm, by the looks of things around here, you wouldn't know that I'm a graphic designer would you?  For instance, the header that is so old it doesn't even have Ollie on it.  My computer time is pretty limited these days so I use it to work on whatever deadline is closest and try to fit in a little blogging time, and everything else has to wait (which is why I'm the worst at responding to emails and comments on the blog, but I love hearing from you, and I will try to be better).

A lot of my work is too boring to share or I have to wait to share it until it's been published, and by the time it's out there, I totally forget.  Anyway, every once in a while, I get to work on something really fun that I can share.  A few weeks ago, I got to do some posters and flyers for my mom for the Alpine Home Care and Hospice movie premiere of Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows.  I usually just use images from the movies for these premieres, but I couldn't find any images that I liked for this project, and I had a little extra time so I drew something up.  It's inspired by these vintage looking superhero posters by Michael Myers (If Creed loved Comic book superheroes, we would NEED these posters.  It's hard to find non-cheesy superhero stuff).  I should have taken the time to age this like the Michael Myers posters, but I was on a tight deadline.  I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, but I'm not so sure that my mom liked them. What do you think? 


I'm tempted to do a whole series with all of my favorite Harry Potter characters but I have no idea what I would do with them since they are licensed characters and all . . .