Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Little Girls and Ponies

There's just something about a little girl loving on a pony that melts my heart.  Here are some shots of Alli and her weekly companion Tater Tot at their show this past Sunday.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Promises to My Girls

Raising kids in this day and age is hard.  There's just no getting around it!  There's a lot of pressure on parents, and therefore children, to be good at sports, be well-dressed, be popular...it's impossible for anyone to keep up.

So on reflecting on my past eight years of raising a stubborn, independent young lady in anticipation of bringing her sister into the world, I've come up with a few promises I'd like to make to Miss Riley Rachelle that I've made to Alli.

  • I will dress you appropriately and comfortably for your age.  No giant bows bigger than your head.  Why oh why are these popular?  Listen, I'm a girlie girl.  I love pink, I love sparkles, and I love ponies.  I don't mind tasteful bows that are sized appropriately for the child wearing them.  But these headbands with giant daises and peacock feathers and huge rosettes are killing me.  Killing.  Me.  And I promise, you won't wear dresses every day when you need to be wearing jeans or leggings.  And I'll never ever put you in something that will make me mad if you color on it, rip it, or get food on it.  You're a kid, and you just need to be worried about being a kid.  Clothes are just clothes.  And I'll never send you to school or daycare in shoes that you can't run and play in.  Or that make noise.  Seriously, those squeaker shoes?  Who invented them?  Clearly someone without children.
  • I won't force you into anything you don't want to do.  When Alli was around 3 I signed her up for gymnastics.  It seemed like a good way to get her started in some exercise and extracurriculars.  Did I do gymnastics when I was little?  No.  I just thought she might enjoy it.  When she asked to stop and start dance around 5, I obliged.  When she asked to do cheer instead of dance the next year, I did it.  And then when she wanted to go back to gymnastics, we did that too.  I started her horseback riding lessons when she was 6.  I felt like she was old enough to handle it and enjoy it.  Did I want to start her at the earliest possible moment?  Of course.  But I waited until she reached a maturity level to truly appreciate it.  And when she had a bad spell of lessons, I asked her earnestly to please tell me if she wanted to stop.  She didn't, thank goodness for Mama, but I was ready and willing to accommodate her, even if it kind of broke my heart.  And when she begged to sign up for soccer this spring, I did it.  I know absolutely nothing about soccer and it has never been high on my list of sports, but I signed her up.  And I'll be at every single game cheering her on, even if I have no idea what's happening.  I'll love it because she does.  And I'll do the same for you, Riley, whether you are a pianist, a painter, a softball stud, or a football player.

    • I will ensure you value your inner self more than your outer self.  Women are constantly under pressure to be beautiful, successful, and pulled together.  We maintain homes, we run businesses, and we are supposed to do all of it in heels, designer jeans, and a full face of makeup.    There's no doubt in my mind you are going to be as beautiful as your big sister, Riley, but I promise your inside will be even more beautiful than your outside (just like Alli).  Rather than teaching you about lipstick application and designer handbags - both things I love - I will make sure we focus on teaching you compassion, selflessness, and patience.  I'm never prouder of Alli than when she runs across the field to help a child up who has fallen or tells me "Landry isn't a bad dog, he doesn't mean to!"  So heels and makeup are great, I love them too, but the most important thing in the world to me is who you are on the inside.  And I promise you, I will do all I can to make it shine.
    • I will always let you be who you are.  I sometimes die a little inside when Alli wants to wear a Ninja Turtle t-shirt to go shopping instead of one of her cuter outfits.  And when she wanted to be a ghost at Halloween instead of a princess.  But since day one, I promised myself I would let her be herself.  It's one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me, and I had to pass it down to my kids.  She's got plenty of self-doubt and awkward junior high years ahead of her.  To get through those, she's going to need a strong sense of who she is.  So I just let her be who she wants to be.  No forcing.  Unless we're going to church and she has her Michelangelo t-shirt on with leggings and Converse.  You have to teach them how to dress correctly for certain occasions, right?  So Riley, I have my fingers crossed you'll be a little prissier and frillier than your big sister, but if you're not...I'll be just fine.  I am pretty sure your dad and sister already have your first Halloween costume planned, and it's not very princess-y.  But as soon as you can tell me what you want to be, you got it girl.

      Saturday, February 23, 2013

      Soccer it to Me!

      Today Alli had her first soccer practice.  She's started bugging me in the winter about signing her up for soccer.  I was a little nervous - she's done dance, gymnastics, and horseback riding, but this is an organized team sport.  Plus, at eight with no experience, is she already behind?  Thanks a lot, overachieving moms who put your kids in every single sport imaginable at the earliest possible age, for putting the pressure on me.

      But luckily, our city runs a great recreational program, so I signed her up for spring.  Most of the teams were already formed from the fall, but they had some openings.  We got an email from her coach about a week ago giving us all of the information for her practice.  She's been beside herself.  We knew it was going to be pretty cold, so we dropped by Academy last night to get her some tights and a Nike DriFit turtleneck.

      Today, she was pumped.  She kept calling it "my big game" even though Ryan reminded her over and over that it was just practice.  We got out to the field, and she knew two people on her team:  Jayden - who is in her class at school - and Georgianna, who is in her Sunday School class at church.

      Alli had a great time.  I was really happy that we got the uniforms right when we got there (she had been worried about that), and I was really glad to see that she didn't stick out as the newbie.  Her coach knew her name and was prepared with lots of drills.  There were kids of all skill levels on the team, and Alli certainly didn't stand out as one who had never played before.

      Then they scrimmaged with another team, and Alli played goalie for a little while and blocked a goal!  She ran up after practice red-cheeked, winded, and grinning ear to ear.  I am so thrilled her first practice went so well for her, and I can't wait for her first game (next week!!).  But I do need to brush up on my soccer knowledge.  Between the two of us, Ryan and I know next to nothing.  I am sure we'll learn...right?

      Thursday, February 21, 2013

      Pregnancy Update - 25 Weeks

      How far along: 25 weeks

      Size of baby: According to The Bump, baby Riley is the size of a cauliflower, weighing 1.5 to 2.5 pounds and measuring 13.6 to 14.8 inches long.

      Maternity clothes: Yes, please.  Still most obsessed with the Citizen maternity jeans Ryan bought me. Talking me out of those in a few months may prove impossible.

      Gender: A precious little girl named Riley Rachelle.

      Movement:  Like crazy!  The kicks are getting a lot stronger, and the other night it felt like she was doing somersaults.  We have a little gymnast on our hands.

      Sleep: Sleep is not so hot.  I wake up multiple times at night, and I have a hard time getting comfy.

      Symptoms: Heartburn, some back aches.  Today my heart started racing out of the blue, but I read that it's really common.

      What I miss: Wine.  Coffee.  Not bumping into things with my belly.

      Cravings: Anything sweet!  Also, lately, terrible fast food.

      Food aversions: I try to avoid anything I know will give me heartburn, but it's really hard!

      Best moment this week: Her really strong kicks, painting her room, and hearing her heart beat at the doctor today.

      What I am looking forward to: Holding her sweet little self!  My baby shower in March.  Our 3D ultrasound in 2 weeks.

      Thursday, February 14, 2013

      Happy Valentine's Day!

      I secretly like this Hallmark holiday!  Don't tell anyone, but there's something kind of nice about a day to tell people you care about them.  The romantic part of Valentine's Day has never really been a huge deal for me or my family, but the expression of love for those close to you definitely is.  Plus, my mom always had a little present for us at our breakfast spot at the kitchen table that morning.

      Also, the colors of everything for Valentine's day are red and pink - two of my favorites!  Pair that with a party at school, and you've got yourself a Grade A holiday (take that, Easter).

      A few weeks ago we were shopping in Target, and I spied the Valentines out.  Always one who likes to cross things off my list, I ushered Alli over to pick out her goodies for her class.  She chose Fun Dip - how awesome is that??  I don't know about you, but I loved me some Fun Dip when I was little.  So much to the dismay of every other mother in her class, I let her get them.

      But Alli declared that just Fun Dip was not enough, so I went by Wal-Mart earlier this week to grab a few more fun things.  I snagged some Valentines pencils and some erasers that looked like candy hearts.  So Tuesday night we sat down and put together her Valentines bags for the class.  She announced that she would be writing everyone's names on their bags because she is really good at it.

      I have to agree - she did an awesome job.  Below is her with the finished product.  Yay for Valentine's Day!!

      And you know I had to let her have some of the leftover Fun Dip.  The other moms in her class are going to curse me.  I forgot what a mess that stuff was.

      Happy Valentine's Day!!  XOXO

      Tuesday, February 12, 2013

      Paint Party - Master Bedroom

      The second room we painted was our master bedroom, but I waited until now to reveal it because I wanted a better sense of completeness in there.  While we were picking colors, I kept telling Ryan I wanted a "moody blue" - something deep without being cavelike, and something relaxing and zen.  The paint color is Agave by Behr, and I am obsessed with it.

      My side of the bed - my mother's old bachelors chest as my nightstand

      Reeeeallllly need to find an end table for RLowe - keep an eye out for me!
      We finally have a haven for ourselves, a completely kid-free zone with places to sit, lay, and chill.  And a place for Ryan to sit down put his shoes on.  It's the little things, people.  I think there's still more to do, like find Ryan an end table plus add some more pillows to the bed and get some artwork over it.  But we're definitely heading the right direction!

      Sunday, February 10, 2013

      Weekend Recap

      Our weekend started off with a bang when we had dinner with our friends Friday night.  Carrie made the most delicious chicken spaghetti, and her mom sent over a chocolate sheath cake.  You people know the weakness I have for chocolate sheath cake.  Wowza.  Alli watched movies on the couch and played with their sweet pooch Sam while we all sit at the kitchen island and drank wine and ate.  Except I couldn't drink wine, so I just ate.  And ate.  And ate.

      Saturday morning, we had painters come to do some retouch work as part of our home warranty.  The seams around the trim are separating all over the house, and my little OCD brain was going bonkers.  While they were here, Ryan hit them up to paint the kitchen (the last high-ceilinged room we have to do).  I was so relieved.  That kitchen has been staring at me ever since we moved in with all of its nooks and crannies.  It was well worth the money to have someone who isn't carrying a second person around with them all the time to get 'er done.  The result was great - we'll have a whole house reveal for these rooms at some point, when they get closer to done, but here's a sneaky peaky.

      We were stuck up in the game room most of the morning, but we found ways to entertain ourselves.  I blogged, Alli played, and Ryan cleaned and organized.  Along with a little wrestling and acrobatics with Alli.

      I think spending so much time up in that room gave Ryan the bug to get it all pulled together.  It's low on the the list of rooms we need paint (we still have Alli's bathroom, Riley's bedroom, the laundry room, our guest room, and the half bath upstairs left too), but he was energized to at least organize it.  He even bought several shelves from Target, hung Alli's artwork supplies over her desk, and put stuff in the attic so that it finally looks like a room we use and not one we just moved in to.

      The fumes from painting started to get to me, so I left for an afternoon of solo thrifting.  I prefer to do that with my mama, but you have to make the best of what you've got.  I drove to Prairie Grove to hit up my favorite antique store.

      While there, I stumbled upon this.  And just like that, the search for Riley's dresser ended.  For $195 I scooped this thing up right under the noses of all of the pregnant bellies waddling around PG.  While I was checking out, they let me know that two other preggos were on their way to get it for their nursery.  I love being in the right place at the right time.

      This morning, we got up and went to church, followed by riding lessons for Alli while Ryan went to Prairie Grove to actually load up my find.  Alli had a great lesson - she is improving every week!

      Ryan spent the rest of the day completing his masterpiece upstairs, and I walked the dogs and took Alli to the playground.  Meatloaf and carrots are on the menu for tonight - as is an early bedtime for yours truly.  Happy weekend, everyone!!

      The Big 30!

      A very special person turned a very special age last Monday - my main squeeze turned 30!  Can you believe it?  I've known him a little under half of that time and dated/been married to him a third of it, and what a fabulous time it's been!

      First tour of duty in Iraq

       I am oh so grateful that I met this hunk and even happier that he decided to marry me.  I could not have designed a better husband.  He's almost my polar opposite - calm, relaxed, even-keeled, and lots of fun.  But our humor, opinions, and personalities mesh in the most wonderful way so that we end up being perfect for each other.

      First wedding anniversary - what a year!

      Above and beyond being a good partner to me, he's been just about the most perfect father to Alli.  He's funny, he's energetic, and he's up for anything.  He'll play Barbies and he'll stay up all night building Legos.  She absolutely adores him, and I know Riley will be no different.  Being pregnant with him around (he was in Iraq when I was pregnant with Alli) has been so awesome.  He's attentive, he cares, and he lets me go to bed at 6PM if I need to.  Seriously, he's the best.

      To celebrate his big birthday we had several friends over Sunday night to watch the Super Bowl.  We had his favorite cookie cake, wings and tenders from Slim Chickens, and lots of dips.  He had the great time he deserved with some of our most favorite people.  Saturday night, on the premise that Alli would enjoy it, we went to a new place in town called Arkadia Retrocade.  They have vintage video games, and you get unlimited plays for just $5.  Alli and I beat Ninja Turtles but the real winner was Mr. Lowe, who was in gamer heaven.

      On his birthday itself I put his new Ugg slippers outside of the shower while he was in, so when he opened the door they were sitting there waiting to hug his feet.  He was an instant fan, and even tried to find a way to wear them to work that day (I think about that all the time myself).  That night Alli had a cheer performance at an FHS basketball game, and then we went for a burger at Grubs.  Once we got home Lindsey gave him his last present of the night - a baby carrier!  He begged for one with Alli and never got it, so she wanted to make sure he got one for Riley.  We even tested it out on poor Lola.  Cannot.  Stop.  Laughing.

      Happy birthday to my sweet fella.  He has handled 30 with a grace that will surely escape me in a few years when it's my turn.

      Saturday, February 9, 2013

      Pregnancy Update - 23 Weeks

      How far along: 23 weeks

      Size of baby: According to The Bump, baby Lowe is the size of a grapefruit, weighing 12.7 to 20.8 ounces and measuring 10.5 to 11.8 inches long.

      Maternity clothes: All I wear in the pants department.  I bought my first maternity top at Target on Thursday (shown above).  I can still get into about half the shirts in my closet though.

      Gender: A precious little girl named Riley Rachelle.

      Movement:  Again, up and down.  She moves like a madwoman for several days, and then other days I barely feel her at all.  I can actually see my stomach move though - pretty amazing and weird all at the same time.

      Sleep: Sleep is up and down.  I'm used to waking up at least once in the middle of the night.  I just have to stay off my phone or ten minutes turns into 2 hours.

      Symptoms: Back pain and heartburn!!  I am also not wearing my rings because my hands swell in the evenings some and one time (pre-pregnancy) I got a ring stuck on my finger.  Never again.

      What I miss: Wine and coffee.  Not second guessing every bite of food I put in my mouth.  Eating tomato sauce without regretting it for two days.

      Cravings: A meatball sub.  Which I regretted for two days while I paid for it with heartburn.  Also, chocolate cake.

      Food aversions: Not much - I've hit the hungry phase.  Some textures can make me gag though.

      Best moment this week: Feeling her move, as always.  And popping out.  Alli says she can finally tell I'm pregnant.

      What I am looking forward to: Having her - in due time!  My shower in March.  I'm slowly gaining things for her nursery, but I really look forward to her furniture coming in and getting everything painted.

      Sunday, February 3, 2013

      Welcome to the world...

      ...to sweet baby Emma Grace!  My cousin Lisa had her baby girl this week, and I could just eat her up!!  Isn't she precious??

      She had a little bit of a rough delivery and had to spend a few days in NICU, but she's headed home today and is doing well.  She's already so loved by so many people - what a lucky little girl!

      This lady was made for rocking babies.
      Proud Noni with sweet little Emma Grace
      Check out those cheeks!!!
      Lisa and I are about five months apart, and Emma Grace and Riley should be about four months apart, how cool is that?  I can't wait to meet this adorable girl in person!  Congratulations to Lisa, Chris, and the whole Carroll family!!

      Saturday, February 2, 2013

      What's in a Name?

      ...how about some scrapbook paper, a little Mod Podge, some discounted wooden letters, and a little help from Hobby Lobby?

      After we got confirmation that we were in fact having another sweet little girl, I've wasted no time getting the nursery together.  It's coming along, a piece at a time, all getting piled up on the existing antique furniture in that room...more on that one day when we redo the guest bedroom.  While I'm sporting this second trimester energy, we're doing a lot of work on the house (hence the Paint Party posts seen here and here, to be continued once I get the living room pulled together).

      But I did have time for a quick, easy, and fun project this week just for baby Riley.  Several years ago, I made these letters for Alli's room using cute patterned scrapbook paper, Mod Podge, and wooden letters from Hob Lob.

      I knew I wanted to do something similar for Riley, but I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted it to look.  Did I just want to do a giant letter "R"?  Did I want to order something from my new favorite website Etsy?  But after some debate, I decided I wanted to style my own to a tee, and I wanted them to be pretty similar to Alli's.  So out I set for Hobby Lobby.

      I used to go to this store three times a week when I was decorating our old house, but I got tired of the same ol' same ol', and they just weren't as modern and chic as I wanted when my style evolved.  Man, have things changed!  I was snapping inspiration left and right.

      Clearly I need to spend more time and money in here!  So anyway, I found what I was looking for with the letters, but I could not decide on the paper to use.  I had five different patterns picked out, really similar to Alli's, but I just didn't like what I had.  I picked Alli's out after the rest of her room was done at the time, so it was easy to see which colors worked and which didn't.  Determined not to be deterred, I finally settled on a baby pink polka dot paper, and I decided to use the same paper on every letter.

      The process is really easy - you trace the letter on the back of the paper and cut it out.  Then you apply a little Mod Podge to the letter itself using a small paintbrush and stick the paper on, smoothing as you go.  I used a pan scraper we have to help it get really smooth.  I let everything completely dry overnight, then applied several coats of Mod Podge on top the next day.

      Here's a sneak peak at the results - you'll see the full thing in Riley's nursery reveal in a few weeks.