30 December 2013

2013 in Pictures

The end of the year is a really good time to reflect on how far we've come in the last 12 months. Re-live our favorite memories, take stock of what we did and didn't like, and appreciate how precious time is. But my lifestyle of constantly saying goodbye, moving, and making fresh starts is really conducive to those same reflections, which means every few months you guys are treated subjected to yet another one of my "look how far we've come!" posts. So today's post is going to minimize words and maximize pictures.

One of the first pictures I took of Abigail in 2013 and one of the last

Finally, after years of dreaming, I started my own Etsy shoppe

After living at 20 different addresses, I finally found the place my heart calls home

We got pregnant. We said goodbye to the baby we never got to meet. We got pregnant again.

We celebrated 5 years of marriage and stumbled into a pub we hadn't seen since our honeymoon

She turned two

She learned how to walk

Oh save us, Lord. Remember the bed bugs? To this day, whenever I see a small black fuzz, my heart stops beating.

Some favorite 2013 shots of Abigail in Chicago


Then somma this:

And now we live here:

We celebrated the two-year heart-versary

We went on our only vacation of the year to the place where Matt spent his summers growing up

Favorite 2013 shots of Abigail in Michigan

My favorite photo of 2013?

Happy New Year, my friends! Thanks for sharing this space with me.

28 December 2013

7 Quick Takes: Family Edition

1. Christmas on a Budget, Part II
I cannot post a grand Christmas on a Budget, Part II today because Christmas was cancelled. Yes, cancelled, my friends; at least, on Matt's side of the family. Scores of people were sick, so we just decided to reschedule Christmas for January 5th, which means I still can't reveal any presents. As much as I don't blame anyone and think we chose the right course of action, I am still wildly angry at the 10lbs of mashed potatoes, two deserts, and pile of fruits and veggies that I was commissioned to make in my pregnant state and will now go bad in my fridge. I'm freezing as much as I can, but I have a smaller apartment refrigerator, so I only have so much space with which to work.

In terms of our little, immediate family savings, I don't have any creative tips. These are our guiding principles:

-We avoided sending Christmas cards this year to save money on cards + postage. If I'd had less to do, I probably would have sent around an email letter and family photo.

-We make a Christmas budget at the beginning of the year, divide it by 12, save up that much per month, and stick within the arrangement when we shop.

-We start thinking a few weeks before Christmas about what we want to get each other, we shop around to get the best price, and we open our presents one-per-person throughout the day to make them feel like a lot.

-We make Amazon wish lists (and I make one for Abigail), for any family members who want to get us exactly what we want.

2. The Weather

A vast majority of the town I live in was hit by a giant ice storm last week that left thousands (tens of thousands?) of people without power. I was sitting in the vet's office the other day, and everyone in the waiting room but me had lost power for at least a few days. Somehow, our apartment complex and three nearby residential streets were saved from the devastating outages. We did lose power for one night, but it came back on again about 30 minutes before the alarm clock sounded. I'm pretty thankful we were spared.

3. Puff Puff
Why was I sitting in a vet's office? Well, Puff Puff decided to boycott peeing the litter box and treat the carpet in the hallway and the tree skirt as her personal chamber pot. Toddler + my pregnancy-induced heightened sense of smell meant that I wasn't messing around. The vet gave us a week's worth of meds to try (hopefully they work) and I borrowed a carpet steam cleaner and bought a bottle of something guaranteed to get urine out of carpet. At least now I can cross "steam clean the carpets before the baby is born" off my to-do list. First I'm going to have to add it to my list.

Damn, I miss hardwood floors.

4. The Hubby

Matt took a few days of vacation time in between the holiday time he already received off to make a one-week long vacation. It almost feels like we're back in law school on Christmas break! Abigail is pretty excited to have a daddy at her disposal and we're all making large deposits into the family relationship bank account. Matt is also super awesome at handling a pregnant Jacqueline. When I'm pregnant, he totally helps out around the house whenever I ask without complaining, and sometimes I come home from grocery shopping to find the dishes done without even having to ask! I'll be laying on the couch complaining about how tired I am while he's vacuuming and taking the trash out. And he'll be sympathizing with me. Seriously, supporting me while I'm pregnant is one of his biggest strengths, and I'm really thankful for that.

5. Pie Dates
One of the best-ever things about living 10 minutes away from family is impromptu pie dates. I'm really close with all three of my sister-in-laws, but one lives really close. She's got five kids and she homeschools, so "me-time" is often last on her list. I'm almost never a "last-minute adventure" kind of girl (I need plans and to-do lists!), but after a particularly trying day, I love, love, love being able to send a text: "wanna get pie tonight?" And we run out in our sweatpants and no makeup to spend an hour or so drinking coffee and eating pie and get home just in time to help with bedtime. I get to pick her brain about keeping oneself from getting burnt out, adding an infant into a family routine, and if she brings my still-breast-feeding Godson along, I get to hold him and marvel at kids who have muscle tone. I've never had that kind of relationship with anyone before, and I love, love, love having it now.

6. That Book I'm Writing
Is done. I got up before anyone else in the family yesterday and cranked out the last section. It was not nearly as bad as I thought it was in October. 

-Edit the third and final section of the manuscript.
-Make Matt read through it all and discuss changes.
-Find a few suckers friends to read through it and share their perspectives. More editing. Two suckers friends found, two more to ask.
-Read through a final time to make it as good as it's going to get.
-Research how publishing works.
-Either find an agent, start submitting, or both.

7. This Child I'm Carrying
Has started kicking me. It's a unique sensation to have the inside of your stomach kicked at the same time that your toddler whacks you on the outside of your stomach. How's that for fair?

Depending on who you ask, my due date is either May 17th or May 20th. If you go by the date of the conception, I'm due May 20th. I know the date for certain because we do NFP and were trying to get pregnant. But the doctor is convinced that I can't possibly know what I'm talking about, so she's going by the last period rule. Except during the early ultrasounds, she's all "you're measuring about 3 days smaller than your due date." I respond, "So...that would put me at May 20th?" She looks a bit puzzled. Then a firmer, "Well, we're still going to go with May 17th." Okay, but I'm writing May 20th in my planner.

On January 3rd, we'll go in for the big Gender Reveal ultrasound. The 20-week ultrasound is also the same one that resulted in the beginning of the Baby Heart Saga the last time around, so this should be fun. We're actually going to do a heightened level 2 ultrasound on the 3rd, which means the ultrasound tech will spend more time studying and measuring the baby's organs than usual, just as a precaution. I suspect the tech will be like, "Aww, look, a cute face shot! Do you want me to print that one for you?" And Matt and I will be all, "Can you move down a bit? A bit more. Yup, right there - now can you turn on the oxygenation color overlay? No, the button to your left. Sweet! That's the shot we want! See how the heart looks like a typical textbook picture? Can you print that one for us?" I'm actually genuinely disappointed that we don't have a ultrasound pic of Abigail's heart before the repair. How cool would it be to have a photograph of your literally broken heart?

Oh geeze. Heart jokes are funny because it all worked out in the end.

Anyway, we're planning to reveal the baby's gender, but not the name. Now I need to start brainstorming some creative way we can share the details.

26 December 2013


I know, I know, wrong holiday. (Hehe, that was kind of a Catholic joke. Sorry about that.)

I didn't forget. You are very justified if you thought I would. But I didn't.

Very brief review: I was planning to finish writing and editing my memoirs during the 31 Days campaign during the month of October (original post), but about half-way through, a bunch of things stressed me out and I had to draw some boundaries (original post). I promised that after the craft fair, the first trimester, the kidney stent hell, and the holidays, I would resume them.

I did.

Sitting down to write again felt like slipping into an old, comfortable chair. I love writing.

Second brief review: I had written the entire manuscript and had edited the first half of the book on paper when I hit the pause button. Tonight I made the changes to the computer file that I had on paper. I also finished editing the second half of the second section of the the book (so now instead of 1.5 sections done, I've got 2 sections down, or 2/3 of the book). I had to do some heavy editing of the end of it, but I got in a good three hours of solid, focused work tonight.

To do list (ideally before the new baby comes in mid-May):

-Edit the third and final section of the manuscript.
-Make Matt read through it all and discuss changes.
-Find a few suckers friends to read through it and share their perspectives. More editing.
-Read through a final time to make it as good as it's going to get.
-Research how publishing works.
-Either find an agent, start submitting, or both.

* * * * *

It's finally Christmas, my husband is home all of the time, Abigail is sick again (I'm starting to think she doesn't even have an immune system), and I'm pregnant. Life feels very fluctuate-y, but I'm feeling really peaceful and content right now. I'm building a list of things I want to accomplish before the new baby comes and I feel really good about that list. I love feeling like I know what I'm striving for in my role in my family and in my personal interests.