Surfacing

I surely didn’t mean to take 3 months off blogging. In my defense, I’ve been kind of distracted.

17 weeks

Our FET worked! Pk and I are expecting another baby, due April 1st.

We got confirmation of our success while we were visiting my sis in DC/Ocean City. I initially stopped blogging because it felt too soon to share our news and because it was so foremost in my mind that I almost couldn’t think (or write) about anything else. We also wrapped up some projects on the house so there wasn’t a lot of house related business to blog. Very quickly though, the main reason I stopped blogging was because I developed kind of awful morning sickness along with a solid case of the first trimester blahs. The first trimester is such a strange time – you are terribly sick (or at least I was this time) but not quite ready to tell everyone why you look like death warmed over all the time. I’ve also had a hard time managing how anxious I feel about this pregnancy. Even though I’m passed the point at which I miscarried last year, I still feel worried about how things will turn out.

I was not sick at all during my pregnancy with Lucy so being so ill has really taken me by surprise. Strangely, the worst of it happened after I started my second trimester, around the time that all the books and pregnancy apps promised i would be feeling better(I’m 17 weeks now.) I developed severe migraines and uncontrollable nausea and even spent a long day in the ER getting IV hydration and meds. Thankfully, I think I’ve reached the peak of how sick I’ll be and am actually starting to feel a little more human! I really hope it’s all rosy from here on out – I’m not sure I could handle another 5 months of feeling like I have the flu.

Lucy still isn’t totally aware of what’s going on. We were trying to hold off until we knew the gender of the baby, but I think at this point the belly is making things pretty obvious, even to a two year old. I also didn’t want her to associate “mommy’s having another baby!” with “mommy won’t get off the couch/stop throwing up” I want her to be excited (heck, I’m ready to be excited!) It still feels a bit surreal, but I’m ready to enjoy this and so, so, glad that we have a new member of the family.

That’s the news from our end.

xx-H

ps. I’m so glad to be back in the land of the living! Right in time for Halloween!

taking a break.

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image via adventures with ellie

 

Hi! I didn’t really mean to take so much time off blogging, but we’re trying to enjoy these last few weeks of summer. I promise I’ll be back with lots of house updates soon. I hope you’re enjoying this time too – it seems like fall is just around the corner!

xx-H

Vacation!

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We’re taking a family trip! Tomorrow we are driving to D.C. to pick up my sister, then spending the weekend in Ocean City, MD. We rented a condo on the beach and are going to soak up some sun and surf for a couple of days. On Monday my sister and I are going to see Beyonce (I know. amazing.) while Pete hangs with miss Lucy. I’M SO EXCITED. Not really excited for 12+ hours in the car with a toddler, but we’re going to make it work. I hope you all have a fantastic week!

 

Let’s talk about the basement.

But first, the weather. It’s 92° and ridiculously humid out side all this week and as much as I want Sean to jump on building the new fence; I also don’t want him to die of heatstroke on my new lawn. So…

He started excavating the basement. Remember the basement? Here’s what it looked like yesterday.

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Grainy iphone pic, sorry. PK just left town with my camera cord so I can’t use the ones I took from my Canon.

Sean and Jonah (his employee and expert shovel user) started to breakup the uneven concrete floor and explore what we need to do to underpin our foundation. Our current ceiling height is a little over six and a half feet in some places, but shorter in others. Successive previous owners poured different concrete pads at different times and also over existing pads, so it’s basically a hot mess down there. Luckily, since we have central air (thank the gods!) the basement is a comfortable 68° and the boys can work safely without fear of melting. The only thing they have to be afraid of is the cat, who is pissed (whatapun!) that they moved her litter box. Also, spiders. And the creepy efflorescence from the moist brick walls (eeewwwww.)

I’m actually super excited to get started even though we have two other unfinished projects going on, namely the Garudio (garage/art studio) and the back yard fence. It’s really too hot to expect them to work outside in this weather  so as long as we are making progress on something, I’m happy. The rest of the floor will have to get broken up with a jackhammer and then the boys have to somewhat tediously, fill 5 gallon buckets and pass them through the front window to the sidewalk where they get dumped in back of Pete’s truck. Normal people would probably rent a dumpster and have it hauled away, but we are trying to be low profile about this project, so we’re doing it the hard way, load by load, to our local landscaping services place that accepts concrete. And by we, I mean Sean the contractor, Jonah, and Pete when he gets home from work.

Dealing with the basement will mean dealing with a few plumbing and electrical issues. Our electric box looks like an octopus on steroids and that has to be dealt with before we run power out to the garage. We will also…

– build a french drain system to a sump pump, like this.

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– pour a new slab and add flooring (probably engineered wood which is suitable for damp locations) We are going for a finished ceiling height of about 8 feet or slightly below. I also like the laminate flooring that Jen used in her recent basement reno.

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-replace all the windows, some of which are glass block, and drywall the walls. Our basement has 8 windows! Lots of light.

-Add a bathroom. Probably just a shower, rather than a tub shower combo. Like this

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-build  walls around our furnace and move the hot water heater in the furnace room

-build  a real laundry room, like this

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That’s the plan! Not sure at all how long it will take. Maybe done or close to done by Christmas? There are a lot of different elements to consider, and other things to finish up.

I’m so glad to have something to distract me while we wait to get results from our Frozen Embryo Transfer yesterday. The transfer went really well – we transferred two good looking embryos and have on left that’s still frozen, in case we do want to try again. I feel fine – a little frustrated by my 10 lb lifting restriction which is basically impossible to comply with because of Lucy, but I’m doing my best to just take it easy and stay cool.

ps. More pictures of our basement in all it’s disgusting glory here.

p.p.s. an inspiring basement reno  – start here. befores and afters here

More updates in the yard…

Sorry for the unintentional break from posting here. We seem to have fully embraced a summer schedule and that means late nights and no naps and thus, less opportunities for blogging. But! I’ve found  a few minutes, with help from Caillou.

We’ve had the BEST week, mostly because Pete was able to take off a few days around the 4th of July. So needed and so fun just to have him puttering around the house with us. I take for granted how demanding his schedule can be – poor guy was pretty exhausted. Luckily we finished the deck in time to enjoy a little R&R- just what our family needed. The long weekend started with a baseball game (we have White Sox season tickets – a totally much deserved splurge for Pete.)We had an amazing 4th of July that included a parade, a bbq, and some fireworks by the lake. We hosted a little get together on the new deck on Friday night and then saw David Byrne and St. Vincent at Ravinia on Saturday (awesome show!). Lucy slept in her wagon for most of the show, but woke up for a few Talking Heads songs.

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Basically the best extra long weekend ever.

We spent the rest of the weekend prepping for the pavers in our back yard. We knew we needed to have a devoted area for the bbq and AC unit so we left a little 8X8 foot pad next to the patio. I originally planned to do bluestone in that area and for the walkways to the gate and the garage – I love the classic look – but after pricing it out it just wasn’t an option. Bluestone runs about $10 per square foot, whereas concrete pavers run between $1-$6 per square foot. We hit up our local big box stores to see if we could find something large and simple and settled on these ones from Menards. They were $6.99 per 16×24 inch paver which is about $3 per square foot. We just bought a pallet and had it delivered. Easy Peasy.

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I’m not usually in favor of material that’s supposed to look like something else – but I think these are totally the right thing for this yard. The stone patterning is pretty subtle and the color is a nice bluish gray. They obviously don’t have the natural color variation of bluestone, but since they are cast from a mold they have a uniform thickness that natural stone wouldn’t. Sean laid down a gravel and crushed limestone base and then added a few inches of sand for leveling.

IMG_5367 IMG_5368I’m not quite ready to so a full reveal of the yard – we have a few more details to pull together and Sean is still laying the walkways today.By details I obviously mean finding a place for all the toys and junk that have accumulated . Here’s what the finished patio/ac/bbq space looks like.

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It sounds kind of funny – but I think working on the yard has brought a really extreme level of happiness. I’ve just been feeling so good lately – like our house is finally coming together and maybe not such a terrible eyesore. Sometimes with a fixer upper you just get so burnt out from all the projects that have to be done vs. projects that are just pretty and pleasing. Having some space to entertain outside is so important for us because our house is really petite – it’s like a whole new addition in comfortable, safe living space. I cant wait to get the new fence which maybe will get started next week, depending on Super-Sean’s schedule. He’ll also build a screen to cover the AC unit since it is so flippin’ old and ugly (fingers crossed it will last the summer though! I’d rather spend money on a new fence than a new compressor.) I’ve got plans for a few furniture pieces for that spot to make it a really functional outdoor cooking space.

So! That’s what’s happening with the yard. Now, what’s happening on the baby making front –  our FET is happening on Tuesday. Crazy right? It seemed like this time has passed so quickly, but maybe that’s because I’m hopped up on estrogen, steroids, and baby aspirin. I started the dreaded progesterone shots last night which is like injecting yourself with a dull pencil full of olive oil. My tush is SORE, but. It’s worth it. I feel optimistic about this try, but guarded, of course. This will be our 3rd IVF/FET since Lucy was born; maybe 3rd time’s the charm? If this round doesn’t work we’re going to take a break from fertility treatments. It’s just too expensive and stressful to think about doing again this year. Or maybe even ever again. I realized this past week that no matter whether or not we have another baby – our little threesome is wonderful the way it is. We are so happy and lucky to have this little house and such a great life in our hometown surrounded by our families. If this is as good as it gets, it’s pretty darn perfect.

I hope  you all are well and having a fabulous summer.

xx-H

The Deck!

Oh, you guys. It’s so awesome. When I last posted we had just finished digging the drainage pit under the deck. Sean, Pete, and Sean’s helper made quick work of laying joists.IMG_5071Once the joists went down the decking went on really quickly.IMG_5112We decided to stain the deck a cedar color. It’s a bit orange, but it matches perfectly with the stain on our front steps that Sean built last year. Sean meticulously sanded every board and then applied two coats of stain. It was challenging to get the stain on because we had intermittent storms all last week, but it’s finally done!IMG_5220 IMG_5222It’s so huge! And it looks so orange – these are iphone pics in full sun – I promise it’s not quite that vibrant in real life. I decided that the furniture should mostly be gray or black as a way to counterbalance the amount of stained wood we have in that area (the new fence will probably be cedar too.) Ignore the piddly furniture – I’ve been racing around trying to pick up a few pieces before everything is out of stock.  One bonus of getting a deck so late in the season is that everything is on clearance and/or floor sampled right now, so I’ve been finding some great deals. Pete suggested using the deck as a lounge area and putting our salvaged picnic table in the grass, which I think is a great idea. Later tonight we will pick up a floor sample of this bench – Laguna Deep BenchIt’s really deep – almost like a daybed. I’m also thinking about picking up a couple more lounge chairs in addition to the marais style metal chairs I just got – maybe these ones from Ikea?

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Now that the deck is done we can keep making progress in the garage/studio and then move on to the fence (thank god.) Seeing the brand new deck next to the absolutely falling apart fence makes me twitchy – but I know it’s only a matter of time before super-Sean the carpenter whips out a new one for us. I feel thrilled at the prospect of actually having usable outdoor space! We still have to do a bit of hardscaping (a little paver area for the bbq and AC unit, as well as paths to the garage and gate) but the yard is already improved a million times over. Other small projects in the works are a new backdoor and screen door, and some planter boxes along the fence for veggies. I’m keeping track of my ideas for the back yard and the rest of the outside of our house on Pinterest. We won’t get it all done in time for 4th of July, but I’m really looking forward to doing some late summer entertaining a la this sort of thing…

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This is a pic from Lucy’s Gramma’s birthday brunch this weekend. Summertime you guys! bubbles! parties! parades! family! It makes me feel giddy and I swear it’s not just the fertility drugs talking.

Hope you all are well and have a great 4th!

xx-H

Summertime.

Whoah. Two weeks just seemed to disappear in the blink of an eye! But now it’s officially summer, and there are lots of fun things going on around here. Let’s see, where to start…

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Hermione is home! You guys – she was gone for TWO WEEKS. I had totally given up hope that we would see her again. I had packed away her food bowl and emptied her kitty litter, when lo and behold I got a phone call from a lovely older woman one saturday night who said that hermione had been hanging around her yard ON THE OTHER SIDE OF TOWN and did I want her to bring her inside? I jumped in my car and raced to pick her up (2.5 miles from our house!) She was a little scrawny but otherwise totally fine. I think the baby rabbit population of our town is glad we recovered her. Little minx. Not sure the dog is too thrilled to see her again, but I’m over the moon.

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We’ve been spending tons of time outside, with friends, doing fun crafting and art activities. I found a super simple recipe for outdoor chalk paint (here) and love setting Lucy loose on our neighborhood sidewalks. We’ve gone to feed the ducks and geese at our local landfill turned lagoon, and parked ourselves in the front yard with watercolors and ice pops.

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Lucy went to White Sox game. I think she liked it. Hotdogs and lemonade and Daddy – what’s not to like?

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I picked up a Phil and Ted’s Freerider. It’s a scooter that attaches to the stroller and can be used as a buggy board. Lucy is absolutely obsessed and I love keeping her close when I want to.

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We adapted my Schwinn Meridian Trike to take a Yepp stem mounted rear seat for Lucy. I lovelovelove the stability of the trike when I’m biking with her. I won’t be winning any road races, but it’s fun to cruise to the beach.

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Deck progress! Finally! Sean was really slammed with other jobs, but he’s finally back and working through the weekend with his helper and Pete to get the deck going. The gravel covers the swale we dug for drainage and the concrete footings for the deck. They still have to attach a ledger board to the house before the framing can get going.

So! That’s whats been happening. Oh, I also started meds for our FET(happening in mid July) and have had migraines like twice a week, which is why I haven’t been posting much. I’m not eager to add any more heavy duty meds to my regime so I’ve been trying to just tough them out with tylenol. I did pick up a homeopathic remedy that I’m eager to try – normally I wouldn’t have much faith in that sort of thing, but I’m trying to be more open minded. So! That’s what’s been happening around here. I also completely rearranged our living room, but I’m waiting for a few more details to come together before I put it on the ol’ blog.

Hope you all are well!

xx-H

The massive edit.

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Over the last two weeks I’ve gotten rid of 30% of my wardrobe. 5 or 6 trashbags of clothes and shoes have been gleefully tossed in the back of the car and dropped in donation bins. Not because I lost a pant size (or gained one) but because I finally just reached a point of exhaustion when I opened my closet everyday. I finally realized that embracing a kind of wardrobe minimalism would make things a lot easier for me in the mornings and help me embrace a simple classic style that I admire so much in others. Now, I’m not talking about the kind of crazy minimalism that some bloggers advocate for (no, I will not successfully have a 33 piece wardrobe.) I am talking about a versatile, classic, quality wardrobe that suits my lifestyle.

That’s a mostly casual lifestyle folks. I’m a SAHM. I go for walks with the dog, stroll to the park, meet with other moms for playdates, and if I’m lucky a couple of date nights with my husband. The stacks of Banana Republic wool slacks and sweater dresses leftover from my retail days just are not necessary. The same goes for the piles of ill fitting tee shirts and long sleeves from the clearance racks at Gap and Old Navy; I feel like I’m a bit too old to dress like a teenager. I love neutral interiors and even though it took me a while to figure out, I love a neutral wardrobe too. Here’s the criteria I used to rid my self of an excess of clothes.

1. Does it fit?

I’m not talking about basic fit – if you can’t button or zip it, it should go. That’s obvious. I’m talking about fit and flatter. For example, I had a pile of dolman sleeved slightly too short tees from Zara and Old Navy. They fit, and are relatively new, but I realized that dolman sleeves and a boxy shorter fit are just not flattering for my figure.  In the pile they went. I kept all the shirts that weren’t faded and tried to only keep neutrals like white, black, and gray. Likewise, too short shorts (I’m 30, not 13) and frumpy khakis that I bought for one event and haven’t worn since. Gone.

2. Is it a classic?

I had a lot of items in my wardrobe that were looking pretty dated, like tons of cotton long sleeves with weird decorative details like ruching and floral appliques. They may have looked pretty new, but now they scream ” I was 8 dollars at Old Navy in 2004!” If it doesn’t stand the test of time, it gets tossed.

3. Is it useful or, will you actually wear it?

I bagged up things that still had tags on them that I’ve never worn – mostly ill fitting dresses that I bought last minute before an event and ended up not wearing. I’ve been just as guilty as the next person of holding on to clothes that I will most likely never wear either because I was trying to embrace a trend (hippie-chic) that doesn’t really reflect my personal style (classic and elegant, I hope.) I don’t need to have a ton of dresses, just enough to attend a few social events for Pks work every year and the occasional summer wedding. I also think I should no longer wear cheap dresses for important social events – a well cut quality dress that can be worn more than once makes a better impression than a trendy but poorly constructed rag from Forever 21.

4.  Why am I keeping it?

I’ve held onto a lot of clothes over the years because they were gifts or because of their perceived value (i’m looking at you giant  bell sleeved Jcrew cashmere sweater from 1998!) Mostly I just turned off the emotional voice in my head that said “oh don’t, so and so bought that for you!” If I don’t wear it regularly, it got tossed. If I wore it regularly but was damaged or worn out it got tossed too. Goodbye to pilly, faded  favorite sweaters – time to replace them with more quality versions.

What’s left? A pretty decent, versatile wardrobe that reflects my lifestyle and age. Lots of chambray and denim,  striped shirts, wool and cashmere sweaters, a couple of solid blazers and a smattering of more formal wear. I still have a few foundation pieces to get – like a pair of dressy black flats, but I really don’t want to just buy a cheap pair. I’d rather save up for a sturdy classic that will last quite a few years. My favorite places to shop right now are J.Crew, Madewell,  ASOS, and of course Gap (for basics I don’t feel guilty about sticky toddler hands ruining).  I’ve also been trying to pin outfits that reflect my style and perusing blogs that embrace a kind of understated luxurious fashion. I thought that this list was good guide for the basics that a classic wardrobe should have (obviously, take or leave what doesn’t work for you.)

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I still have tons of shoes – but after thorough editing I have tons of shoes that I actually love. Also, side note, when you are trying to minimize your closet you probably shouldn’t do an Etsy search for “vintage Coach.” Let’s just say my purse collection got a little bigger.

What are your strategies for maintaing a streamlined closet? I found that the pictures I posted on this blog helped me figure out what does and doesn’t work for me. I love Shannon’s posts about that too. It was super empowering to get rid of a bunch of clutter! I feel like I could still edit it down a little more! Now, if I can just resist those 40% off coupons from the Gap…

xx-H

The front garden.

You know – the one that only exists in my head. Right now all we have in front of our house is a scraggly patch of lawn.

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Our house is practically flush to the sidewalk, and since there is no sidewalk on the other side of the street we get A LOT of foot traffic. We live across the street from an elementary school so there is basically a neighborhood parade in front of the house twice a day. I’d love to have a little garden there just to increase our curb appeal, but also because I’d like people to walk on the sidewalk, and not on the grass. It’s a partially shaded area that mostly gets indirect sun in the late afternoon so I’ve decided on some shade loving perennials to make an easy and welcoming front garden (and to hide the ugly gas meter!).

1. Hydrangea

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I would probably choose a white mophead variety if I can find them at my garden center. Maybe a dwarf variety? Hydrangeas can grow fast and furious, so I probably won’t plant too many, but it will be nice to have something with a bit of height.

2.Hosta

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I love hostas – easy to deal with and a million shades of green. My favorites are the huge elephant ear varietals with bluish tones mixed with a few of the bright chartreuse ones.

3. Hellebore

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I love the unique colors and appearance of hellebore (christmas rose.) I planted a few green ones at our first house and they thrived in a densely shaded garden so I’m hoping I can have repeat success here.

4.Astilbe

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I love Astilbe for a little bit of drama and color. The feathery plume is so pretty. They make great cut flowers too. They bloom quite tall and have a pretty kind of spiky foliage.

6. Japanese Forest Grass

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I love the waterfall effect.

7.Japanese Painted Fern

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I love the petite Japanese painted fern. It stays quite short, but has a huge variety of colored foliage.

8. Irish Moss

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I spotted this lovely ground cover at our local botanic gardens and totally adore it. The petite white flowers are charming, and I’ve read it’s almost as durable as grass – which is a good thing if school kids will be trudging over it every day.

It’s a pretty small area so I won’t need a ton of plants, but I’d like it to have a lot of variety. Of course, my plan depends on what’s available at my local nurseries this year, but a lot of what I’ve chosen are fairly easy to find. We also have to put in a front walkway since we moved the location of our front stairs and I’d like to add a rain barrel since our downspout is right there on the front corner of the house (although you can’t see it in the pic because it fell off, like, 2 months ago. #stayingontopofthings

So! That’s the plan for the front garden. Meanwhile  Pk is till out of town and contractor Sean is pouring footings for our new back deck. I’m watching my brother’s very energetic dog for the week. He gets along great with our dog, but they never stop playing – it’s a bit exhausting for everyone. Also, I’m the only mammal in my house who didn’t pee on the floor yesterday #goodthingimhousetrained

Sorry, I’ll stop it with the hashtag thing. I don’t even use twitter! Hope you all are well.

xxH

all images via BHG

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