1.31.2016

"Baby It's Cold Outside" Baby Shower

I'm overdue for an update on this blog, aren't I? I have been wanting to share some nursery projects, but everything is almost done. I keep waiting for it to be totally done, but then other stuff gets in the way. You know how it goes!

I went to the doctor on Tuesday at 28 weeks and was worried about passing my glucose test. Diabetes runs in my family and is more common with multiple gestation pregnancies, so I was feeling like the odds were stacked against me. However, I was not expecting to have other pregnancy complications that led my doctor to put me on strict bed rest! Everything had been going so smoothly, and I guess I was lulled into a false sense of complacency. Now we know the babies are at risk to come early, and of course we don't want that. They aren't developed enough yet; they need more time to cook!

So now I have to spend my day either lying on my side or reclining - anything but sitting up straight or standing. Let me tell you, it's very hard to do! I will never again wish for a day where I never get out of bed all day.

That being said, I was so bummed about this new reality because my doctor told me I couldn't leave the house to attend the baby shower my friends had planned for the following Saturday. She said the only way I could have the shower is if they brought it to my house, so I could lay on the couch and not overexert myself. She reminded me that the shower was no reason to risk my babies' health - and of course, she was right - but I was still sad about it.

Luckily my amazing friends and family were able to change plans instantly and bring the shower to my house on really short notice. It was so beautiful and fun! I asked them how they put it all together so I could share the details with you.

The first thing they did was pick the theme. Since we are having boy/girl twins, they didn't want anything gender specific. When we chose the January date, they decided to use the "Baby It's Cold Outside" theme. (Never mind that the weather this weekend was in the 70s... That's Texas for you. You never know what January weather will be!) The vibe they wanted for the party decor was "winter whimsical."

My best friend Kelsey found these beautiful invitations on Etsy. She knows how much I love watercolor paintings, so she thought it was perfect. I have to agree.


This etsy seller will customize the invitation with your information and then email you the PDF to print yourself. They printed them at Office Depot for a really affordable price (around $25 for 50 invitations) and then bought craft paper envelopes at Hobby Lobby.



The nice thing about this party theme is that you can easily repurpose winter-y Christmas decor. Since it isn't necessarily baby-themed, you can keep it and use it for future holidays. Since this was a January shower, it was perfect timing to raid the post-Christmas sales for winter trees, snowflakes, fun stuff like that. (I'll list sources at the end of this post.)

I felt very ridiculous just laying on the sofa watching them turn my house into a winter wonderland, but then again it was really fun to watch them do their thing. They made a great team!

One of the main spaces was the dining room. The menu was simple - cake, mimosas and punch - but the display was gorgeous! 




The party was focused in the formal living room, so they decorated my big cabinet as well. My mom found these adorable winter hats and mittens to make the cutest garland ever. Kelli had her friend make a custom chalkboard that I got to keep! One way we made everything look more winter-y is by replacing my colorful throw pillows with furry, textured pillows from my mom's house.


Kelsey ordered these huge initial balloons. Aren't they fun? Baby boy's name starts with an E and baby girl's name starts with an H. :)


The theme continued into the kitchen and den...


Kelli and Kelsey worked together to make these adorable party favors - a DIY salt scrub for bubble baths. The idea was "a relaxing bath to warm you up on a cold day." (This favor was super appropriate because I have been obsessed with baths during this pregnancy, which is really unusual for me.) Kelsey glittered the jars and Kelli made the salts. She used Epsom salt, coconut oil and orange and clove essential oils. I hoarded all the leftovers to try for myself!


The party decor went outside, too. Big green balloons helped people find our house, and the wreath was decorated with more winter baby gear. So sweet!


Wondering how I managed the bed rest situation while hosting guests? Well, it was strange. I propped myself up on the sofa and opened presents, never once getting up the entire time. I gave a lot of awkward hugs from my strange position and took a lot of unflattering photos. Ha! But the guests were so sweet and accommodating, and no one let me lift a finger.


It was a wonderful day after a not-so-great week where I was in and out of the hospital. I'm so grateful to my amazing hostesses – Kelsey and Kelli – and thankful for my mother and Judy, who both helped clean and decorate the house for the party. They made it happen! And to our friends who came over to celebrate the twins – thank you so much. It was a special day that I will never forget.

I will share the nursery very soon, I promise. We have so much organizing to do before I can take pictures, and I'm not allowed to stand up so poor husband has to do it all. Not the way I envisioned these last couple of months before babies, but it's a small discomfort and sacrifice for the health of our little nuggets. Can't wait to show you!

Sources
Balloons - BargainBalloons.com
Paper fan snowflakes, silver snowflakes, table runner - Oriental Trading
Paper decor in the den - Ikea
Favor jars - Amazing Honey Jars
Flowers - Sams
Winter hats/mittens - Dillards
LED trees - Restoration Hardware
Cake - Market Street (local grocery store)

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1.01.2016

Dear 2015,

Dear 2015,

I can't say I'm sorry to see you go. I'm a positive and optimistic person by nature, but you really put me to the test. You brought challenge after challenge, low point after low point. Don't get me wrong – you sprinkled in many bright moments within the darkness. There were moments of joy, incredible joy, that kept me going when I was feeling low. Yet when I look back on you, I can't help but remember you as the hardest year of my life.

Several years ago, my best friend and I were participating in a Bible study about the book of Jonah. The author kept prompting us to recount our "Jonah moment," which I interpreted as a really hard moment in your life that had to be overcome. I remember that we were driving home from the study, both of us filled with 24 years of life experience, struggling to figure out what our "Jonah moments" were so we could answer the questions in the Bible study more effectively. I said something to her along the lines of, "I don't know if I've had my Jonah moment yet. I've faced some small challenges, but the majority of my life has been happy and blessed."

Now that I'm five more years down the road of life, I was right. My Jonah moments were still to come.

This blog is a place for me to talk about matters of the home – decor, renovations, crafts, parties, etc. And I love that stuff, don't get me wrong. But when life hits you in the face, it's hard to chat about curtains and throw pillows when really you're just exhausted. And so I took a step back, posting less and less, not wanting to pretend to be something I'm not. It's so easy to fake a smile on the internet.

But back to you, 2015. You were a challenge from the very beginning. A series of circumstances at work left me doing two jobs at once, and I felt like I was struggling to stay afloat. As they say, the struggle was real. At the same time my sweet husband was dealing with intense stress of his own, and we had to work hard to help one another while fighting our own battles.

Personal circumstances found me pumping my body full of hormones and medicines, the next phase in our ongoing efforts to start a family. The needles, the pills, the endless appointments... I clung to the hope that it would all be worth it in the end.

Once the dust had settled on the work and health stress, we gave thanks for the month of April. It felt like things were returning to normal, and I was relieved. I relished the small moments – nightly dog walks and great conversations with friends.

And then it happened. They tell you that everything can change in a moment, but you don't truly understand until you experience it firsthand. My dad was gone – so suddenly, without warning – and there was nothing we could do about it. This was the moment when you, 2015, broke my heart into a million pieces.

While you were breaking my heart, you were pulling back the curtain on elements of the human experience that I never truly understood. I had never known real grief. I could have never predicted how I would react to that terrible news and the subsequent life changes that followed, but I thank God for providing the strength to persevere. I thank God for the amazing stories I heard about my father and his strong character that I probably never would have known about without his passing. Amid our tears, you provided priceless memories that provoked us to laugh when it felt like we never would.

You revealed the value of true friendship and community. Our family's tragedy was followed by friends and family rallying around us, finding so many different ways to help. Those special people who gave their time to encourage us during our time of need really restored my faith. I watched them serve our family with so much love and kindness, and I vowed that I would return the favor during their times of need. I was so naive before, and I never knew how to help those who were truly struggling. But now I had experienced a devastating loss firsthand, and I was – and still am – forever changed.

Right after my 29th birthday, you brought more sad news. After all those shots, hormones and medicines and appointments, the test result was still the same: Negative. I felt like the remnants of my broken heart continued to crack just a little bit more. At the same time, I knew my fall was cushioned because it hurts less to fall when you're already low. I could give thanks for that.

By now it was June and you were halfway gone, 2015. We were picking up the pieces. We did our best to establish a new normal. Something silly would happen to make me laugh, and I'd be filled with guilt. Was I allowed to be happy after all of the unhappy news we'd been through those past few months? It felt wrong.

You taught me about resilience. I learned that we are stronger than we could ever know. I realized that life will eventually put us to the test, and we might surprise ourselves. We can overcome. It's impossible to imagine before it happens, but life continues. My conversations with God took on a new depth, and He helped us place one foot in front of the other. Sometimes that's all you can do.

You brought us back full circle to the doctor's office again, and we gathered up our hope to try again. More shots, more hormones, more agonizing waiting. It felt a little different this time, though. The sun was started to shine again, but I still felt like I needed to contain my hopes and dreams for fear of another devastating disappointment. I wrestled with concepts of hope and faith, coupled with my firsthand knowledge that He does not promise smooth sailing or earthly prosperity.

We finally received our positive test and felt the incredible joy of dreams realized. So while you brought us intense struggles, you supplemented with profound happiness. I was truly grateful for the positive news, something for my entire family to grasp on to as we continued to grieve.

Your last several months brought many different emotions and experiences. There have been highs and lows, moments of hilarity followed by feelings of anxiety. In the esteemed words of Ron Burgundy, "I was in a glass case of emotion!"

The end of a new year is the perfect time to reflect. As I think about you, 2015, I will always remember you as the year I grew up. I thought I was a full-fledged adult before, so wise and seasoned, but some things can only be earned the hard way. You took some of my innocence and naiveté, but you brought me new maturity and wisdom.

I love the smell in the air after it rains, the way the sun peeks through the retreating clouds. While I don't know what 2016 will bring, I am so ready to put away my umbrella and start fresh.

Goodbye, 2015.


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12.06.2015

Holiday Inspiration

I wasn't feeling very inspired to decorate our home for Christmas this year. I don't know if it's because we're so distracted with other things going on in our life, but I decided to minimize our decorations and only display our very favorite things. So now our house is decorated for the holidays, but not quite as decorated as last year. And that's totally OK with me. I guarantee my husband doesn't remember how I decorated last year, so he's not losing sleep over it either. We still have two Christmas trees, so I don't think we'll be classified as Christmas minimalists any time soon.

And since I didn't go all out decorating the house, it felt weird to take photos and blog about it like I was doing something special, you know? So I didn't. But the good news is that other people are doing brilliant things and I figured I could point you toward those projects, just in case you are feeling uninspired like me!

Do you follow Orlando Soria on Instagram? You totally should. He's so funny. But he's also the West Coast Creative Director for Homepolish, which means he spends his days decorating and making things beautiful. He made one of the most creative Christmas trees I have ever seen - a 13-foot-tall golden pom pom tree. This is the kind of tree that simply forces you to have a Christmas party just so everyone can see your awesome tree. Get full details on the Homepolish blog.

Photo via Homepolish LA




Do you read House Beautiful magazine? It's been one of my favorites for a long time. The December/January issue features the most gorgeous log cabin I've seen in a long time. It's pretty much the opposite of Orlando's modern home above, but I love them both. Designer Thom Felicia never disappoints. Read his interview about the home.

Photo via House Beautiful

Jillian Harris (of Love it or List It 2 fame on HGTV) is another one of my favorite bloggers. She did a gorgeous holiday home for the Vancouver Home for the Holidays Tour (sneak peeks on her Instagram) and I'm hoping she'll do a full post about it. Meanwhile she shared some of her favorite holiday decor ideas. I'm loving the fairy LED lights in her centerpiece. I want some of those! I'm going to wait for the post-Christmas sales to see if I can get a good deal, though. They aren't cheap.

Photo via JillianHarris.com

Sometimes an image is all you need to be inspired. I practically drooled on my phone when I spotted this snap by Honestly WTF in my Instagram feed. I think it's the amazing mix of textures that really makes this photo the epitome of holiday cozy. I'd love for my home to have this vibe this time of year.

Photo via HonestlyWTF Instagram feed

Now this next blog post isn't holiday related, but it's inspiring nonetheless. Grace over at A Storied Style totally KILLED this bathroom makeover. Everything she does is so unique and fresh, and no detail is overlooked. Read the full details over at Domino.

Photo by Brian McWeeney Photography via A Storied Style

And before I wrap up this post, here are two quick snapshots of our holiday decor so you can see how I have two very different styles going on, as usual.

Over in the den, everything is warm and cozy with a lot of red accents. Our Pottery Barn stockings are hung by on the mantel (last Christmas before we have to add stockings for the twins - eek!) and I fancied up my Threshold wire stag head from Target with a boxwood wreath from Wisteria.


And over in the formal living room, things look completely different. I wanted this tree to match my existing color scheme in this room, so I kept everything blue and green. It was looking a little stark and cold because of all the cool color tones, so we added a bunch of gold ornaments and gold bead garland that really warmed it up. It coordinates pretty well with my pear painting, don't you think? Good thing I never tired of those colors!


Hopefully you're feeling slightly more inspired than I am this holiday, but if you're not -- don't feel bad! We can't do it all. Sometimes simplifying is the best policy, especially this time of year. After all, we are doing all of this to celebrate the birth of Jesus, not to win the contest for prettiest Christmas decor. When I remind myself the true focus of the holiday, I feel a lot less guilty about all of the boxes of holiday decor I left in the attic this year.

I hope you have a great week ahead! We're heading to the doctor tomorrow for our 21-week anatomy scan, and I can't wait to see the twins again. It's starting to feel very real as my belly grows and grows. I'll be back soon with more nursery projects! Meanwhile, follow the progress live on my Instagram.


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