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.


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.


may day!

Hey – I promise I’m still here. I’m just totally distracted by the amazing weather (85 and sunny for May Day? Crazy!) and looking forward to my (our?) egg retrieval tomorrow. Mostly I’ve been outside doing this…IMG_4565gah! my face looks so swollen from huge quantities of estrogen, but I wanted to share this because it’s what we’ve been doing as soon as we wake up every day…


and this, every afternoon


Meanwhile our contractor/best friend Sean has been coming to work extra early (so he can watch Lucy while I go to my monitoring appointments) and also because he’s hustling on the garage/studio. I’m not sure where “babysitting for client’s child during her infertility appointments” falls under our renovation budget, but he doesn’t seem to mind. They are besties.


IMG_4563 IMG_4560This week he added a couple windows above where my sink will be and built a storage loft above the doors (that are being replaced with custom carriage doors.) He added some LED can lights underneath so that the area underneath the loft isn’t too dark and installed an exhaust fan so that I can cool down the space and vent out any fumes from work. Honestly I can’t get enough of the space – it just feels good to be in there with all that bright natural light. Insulation should be going in this week when the weather cools off and then we are ready for plywood sheathing.

On the IVF front… our egg retrieval is tomorrow, which I’m thrilled about because my swollen ovaries are making me look about 4 months pregnant, not to mention being seriously uncomfortable. Hopefully things will go well with fertilization and in about five days they’ll be transferring two babies (embryos officially) back where they belong. I feel… cautiously optimistic? and nervous – there are still a few more hurdles to cross, but right now I’m trying to send out as much love and positive energy I can into the universe. Pk and I are so lucky that we get to try this, so lucky to already have the miracle that is Lucy, and super fortunate to have an excellent doctor. If you’re into that sort of thing, send some positive vibes, wishes, and prayers our way. We’d appreciate it.

xoxo Helen

Scenes from around here.

IMG_4018Lucy is loving her bike, but hasn’t yet mastered the concept of pushing the pedals. I think we need to get this tricycle to save my back!

IMG_4789I picked up a pretty Easter wreath at Target.

IMG_4798We’re on a big Mayazaki/ Studio Ghibli kick around here. Lucy’s favorite is My Neighbor Totoro, mine is Kiki’s Delivery Service.IMG_3775IMG_4788 I’ve babysat my little brother a few times in the last couple weeks. Lucy adores him and asks for him all the time. I think its part of her obsession with older kids. Calvin is 5 now (so grownup!) and she just can’t get enough of him. He was wearing these super dapper leather sneakers  (similar here) when he came over last night.

IMG_3984These two are adorable together – on the weekends Pk has been toting Lucy along while he runs errands. They also go swimming together so that I can have a little alone time – it’s blissful, and great to see them developing their own relationship. Sometimes Lucy cries on Monday mornings when she realizes Pk is at work. Me too little girl. Me too.

Sorry for my lack of posting this past week. I’ve been feeling a little under the weather and, frankly, a little down. I’m not sure if it’s the endlessly cold weather, or what I think might be an ulcer developing – but I just haven’t really gotten it together to write an inspired post.  I have to take birth control prior to our IVF cycle and I think one of the side effects I’m feeling is depression. I took birth control briefly in college and totally remember feeling this way – only another week or so more of it and then I switch to the big guns (ie – injectable hormone repressing and stimulating drugs, yippee!) I’ve been feeling kind of… I don’t know, resentful (?) that we have to go through IVF again. It’s not a good mindset to be in, but after talking with Pk a lot this weekend I feel much more positive about it – grateful, in fact, that we even have the opportunity and resource to try again.  If we lived in a different time I potentially would have never been a mom – I’m so grateful for modern medicine! I think I’m finally feeling a bit more on the up and up  and the fact that the temperature might creep above 35 today certainly helps. I’m consciously choosing to be excited about it instead of stressed ( which will hopefully help my gut out right? Are you listening ulcer?)

Even though the groundhog lied, I hope you all are doing well and that it’s warm where you are.

xoxo H

Lucy, dear.

IMG_4013 IMG_4014I took these pictures of Lucy while she was sleeping (when Pk was out of town.) I love the way her soft hair curls up after her bath and the way she snuggles up just so, smelling of soap and lavender. Little images of her toddlerhood I would preserve forever…

Hope your week is off to a good start.


p.s. A wonderful poem about a child, by Margaret Atwood.

mom style 2

From last week –  5 days of my actual outfits.


Monday – Old Navy plaid shirt, ON skinnies, Frye boots, anthropologie watch


Tuesday – ON skinnies, gap long sleeve tee, oversized cape/hooded sweater, BDG boots


Wednesday- Target sweater, ON floral button up, skinnies, jcrew macalister wedge boots (surprisingly comfy, did the library target, and the grocery store in these no problem)


Thursday – Gap sweater, Urban outfitter tee, ON black skinnies, thrifted motorcycle boots. not crazy about this one.

Friday and Saturday were kinda boring. It snowed.

and Sunday


ON skinny cords, ON tunic sweater, BDG ankle boots, gap infinity jersey scarf

You know, not bad. Maybe  I should try more accessories? Better than yoga pants at least. I think I’ve been reading too many blogs – kind of seeing too much as it were. I have too many images of well coifed, highly edited and styled models rattling around in my head to feel a ton of inspiration when I open my closet. So much of what I see on style blogs is really not appropriate for real life mom-wear, know what I mean? Lots of heels and Jcrew collection and chiffon – lovely and wonderful, but not always compatible with chasing a two year old and walking the dog – sort of like watching clips from fashion week that show people teetering around in heels through the snow – they just look silly to me. This blog does it right though – and I’m really looking forward to the destroyed denim I ordered last week too.

Happy Monday!

ps. My friend Kristin has amazing pictures of her trip to Morocco here.

getting big.

For the longest time, we’ve called Lucy “baby Lucy.” Kind of in an all one word way, as if it were her given name. We did it so habitually that other people, like friends and family, do it too. Lucy even calls herself baby Lucy, all though she refuses to say the L in her name and so says “I’m baby Soosie.”

Here’s the thing, more and more lately, she’s really not a baby. She can do (and say!) so much now. This little girl loves to be busy and stimulated  – I can’t get away with our quiet afternoons puttering around the house, which is a shame, because I’m a first class putterer. She wants to “do something” all the time now and oh how she can voice it! I introduced her to water colors recently and it was like opening a floodgate (both literally and figuratively.)IMG_3746It happened to be right around valentines day so now whenever she wants to paint she says “make Balentines?” It’s so cute I don’t have the heart to correct her.

IMG_3792When I snapped this pic of her hugging the snowman today she was saying ” oh snowman, its gweat, i wuv it soooo much!” She has so much of her dad’s energy and enthusiasm. Sometimes the first words out of her mouth upon waking are ” go sledding? go to da store? On a train? in an airplane on vacation?” Such a lust for life! I need to take her on more day to day adventures.

IMG_3763We stopped at a coffee shop before gymnastics the other day and they had mirrored tables- it kept Lucy distracted until she spotted the muffins. ” Wow, mom, muffins! Look I see them! its amazing! Muffins! Look Mom!” I kid you not she said those actual words. Oh that she can keep this level of excitement about the world! It’s a little tiring for me sometimes, I’ll admit – I’m more quiet and reflective than she is, more of an introvert – but maybe that’s just what happens as we age? Right now for Lucy the world is just a big ball of wonderful experiences waiting to happen. She is so happy to see everyone, all the time, which makes me incredibly happy for the close proximity of our families. She cheers when she hears my brother knock on the door with his puppy for a visit and squeals when she finds out that Grandma is going to stop by. Like so many two year olds she has an exaggerated feeling of empathy for everyone around her – when another child takes a tumble at gymnastics class Lucy rushes over “are you ok? I help you!” and always, always hugs. If she hears a baby cry at the supermarket ” I go see baby? Baby sad? find baby mommy?”

IMG_4675She has so many wonderful bits of personality coming through and I love how much we can do together now – sledding! painting! crafts! games! dolls! trains! – every little thing is a thrill. I wan’t so badly to keep that level of excitement and wonder and to nurture that empathetic and caring spirit. Lucy deserves to big sister, one way or another – to have a another person to share all these wonderful feelings and adventures with as she grows up. She’s turning into such a fun little kid.


but she’ll aways be my baby.


Hope you had a great weekend…


prep work.



So Pk and I are gearing up for another round fertility treatments (have I mentioned that? Like 5 or 6 times…) also, it’s Lent so we’ve decided to give up wine. Frankly, we’re not really keeping up the ritual for religious reasons, but more because I think we were both feeling a little… I don’t know, gluttonous? We boozed it up a lot over the holiday season. We are habitual wine drinkers and while I have no plans to stop drinking wine forever (heavens no!) I’m kind of hoping I have to give it up for at least 10 months or so. During our cycle of IVF that resulted in Lucy I was an avid smoothie drinker and so a couple of days ago I picked up this blender  (I just could not stomach the price tag for the vitamix) I considered a juicer, but standing at the sink cleaning out a juicer seems like  a lot of work, not to mention the nutritional benefits of fiber that you don’t get with juicing. So far so good y’all. My Ninja does a mighty job of blending all kinds of vegetable and fruit goodies for me in the morning. I’ve also been adding this green superfood powder (which I also did when we were trying before.)In case that’s not good enough, I use this coconut probiotic drink to smooth out the texture of all that fruit and veg.  I’ve cut back my caffeine consumption quite a bit too – down to 1 cup from 2 or 3. Do I think any of this stuff really works? I don’t know. It does if I believe in it right? At this point in the game, when it’s all just pre-testing, paperwork, and financials, it feels good to do something proactive in the process, and frankly, I feel down right virtuously healthy. Maybe I’ll even dig my running shoes out from the bottom of my closet.*

Hope you all are having good week! Any good smoothie recipes for me?

xo – Helen

* Just kidding. The forecast calls for 3-7 inches of snow tomorrow. I’ll get my exercise shoveling while Pk is out of town.


Mom style

If the fashion ramblings of a stay at home mom will bore you, please feel free to skip this post.

I’m by no means a fashionista, but I do think it’s important to dress well for yourself everyday, and by well I mean change out of the yoga paints you slept in and comb your hair. Safe to say I don’t have high standards, but lately I’ve been feeling like I should work a little harder on it. I don’t usually put a lot of effort into what I wear because there are days, and days and days when Pk is out of town, that I’m really only hanging out with Lucy and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t care what I wear. A lot of the good stuff in my closet is business casual stuff from when I was working (before Lucy) and is maybe a bit too dressy for casual wear. I don’t think my stack of dress slacks from Banana Republic are really mom-appropriate ( ie – easy to clean chocolate milk and boogers from). I feel like I’m gradually accumulating a more casual wardrobe that’s appropriate for my distinctly non-dressy lifestyle finally. Maybe it was seeing some of my very stylish friends over the holiday break or a little too much time staring at pinterest but I really feel lately like I have to try to at least look put together, even if it’s just for me.  So, here’s what I wore this week. I see tons of room for improvement, but it’s a little better than my usual extremely casual look ( like, I showered. and wore mascara. really.)

IMG_3586Monday – skinny jeans, Asos military jacket, hooded grey scarf, heeled ugg boots. (it was freezing and windy that day)

IMG_3638Tuesday – button up under an open knit sweater, cuffed jeans, Clarks desert boots (oooh look, I actually wore my hair down- the whole day!)

IMG_3609Wednesday -skinnies, gap plaid jacket, ankle boots, infinity scarf (super cold that day too)

IMG_3670Thursday – Valentines Day! an excuse to wear hot pink pants!!! Navy cable knit sweater, Frye Melissa Button Boots, sparkly heart pin. A necklace with all of our initials and a silver locket my mom gave me.

IMG_3692Friday (today) – skinnies again, tunic sweater, motorcycle boots, layered necklaces from Jcrew Factory

Here’s what I see – I need to have a bit more variety in bottoms (like really Helen? 5 days of some version of skinny jeans?) and it wouldn’t kill me to make a little more effort with my hair.

Sorry if this post is totally boring for you guys – I feel a little bit vain posting about fashion (since I’m clearly not an expert!) but I think seeing the pictures helps me assess what looks good and what doesn’t. I think I need to sort of keep myself accountable too, lest the leggings and sweatshirts in my closet come creeping back out. I promise I won’t always use filtered pics too, but they sure did a good job of hiding the dust on the mirror 🙂

Have a great weekend! We are going to enjoy some family time with out of town visitors and a fun weekend visit to our fertility clinic. We’re getting the ball rolling on another round of fertility treatments which is exciting, tiring, and nerve-wracking all at the same time. Did I mention expensive? It’s that too.


ps – are you guys following any fun fashion blogs? If so do share – it’s always nice to have more inspiration.

Life around here…


I had a great time celebrating my 30th birthday. On Friday night Pk and I had a date night at a new restaurant called Found. We totally indulged (!) ourselves while Grandma was on Lucy duty. We spent the next day snuggled on the couch watching the Muppets movie until our friends and family came over for pizza. I got another orchid for my growing collection. Maybe I can actually learn how to get them to re-bloom?

photo-1This little exhausted peanut has been having trouble sleeping at night. Last night she was up every 45 minutes from about midnight until 4. I’m not sure what the deal is – teething? weaning? growing pains? nightmares? She does seem to have added a couple inches in the last couple of weeks. but jesus. I’m exhausted. Also, she got accepted into preschool for the fall. PRESCHOOL. And,drum roll please… we’re fully weaned! It’s been 5 or 6 days – she still asks, but is pretty content just to snuggle when I discourage her from feeling me up. I’m proud that we made it to two years (and almost two months!)


We’ve been making lots of Valentines around here. Nothing fancy, just the crinkly messy water color kind on construction paper that Lucy will probably find as an adult stuffed in the bottom of a keepsakes box.


Maya likes Lucy’s Piggy-Bunny so much that I got her one of her own. Just kidding – I spotted a double of Lucy’s favorite stuffed buddy at a little boutique so I picked up a back up. I just caught Maya using them as pillows during one of her 27.4 daily naps.

Hope you’re having  a great start to the week! Any Valentine’s plans? I don’t think we’re doing anything special; I’m just happy Pk is in town this year!


How bout… nuts?


In this moment, I felt extremely grateful that my child doesn’t have food allergies.


You guys. Two year olds can eat. A lot. and also sometimes seem to survive on nothing at all. Right now we’re in a heavy  calorie consumption moment. Lucy asks for food all the time.

Me: Lucy, do you want to go outside and jump in puddles?

Lucy: Ok,How bout fruit ‘nacks?

Me: Lucy, let’s go walk the dog!

Lucy: Maybe, chocolate milk? okay? and umm cookies?

Lately she is using all kinds of hilarious grammar too. Everything starts with “maybe, sometimes”, “and then”, or “how about”. I mean, where is she getting it from? Do I talk that way? Also, she lately just calls me “mom.” As in, I cough and she says “you ok mom?” Like the next thing out of her mouth is going to be “Mom, can you help me fill out my application to Vassar? I’m really busy watching Caillou.”

Sigh. They really do grow up fast.

ps. I read recently that dealing with a two year old is kind of like talking to a drunk. They mumble, laugh a lot, fall down all the time and accidentally pee in their pants.  They get belligerent when you take away their beer chocolate milk. So, so, so hilariously true (I worked at a faux irish pub for a few years – I feel like a verified expert on drunkeness).

Happy Wednesday!


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