To you and yours-

Thursday, December 25, 2014

I hope you continue to have a delightful Christmas or holiday season!

Shopping for a Thomas

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Thomas essentially gets the same stocking every single year. I'd change it, but every single year he seems to love the same things, so I refuse to tamper with my perfectly honed system. That, and men are just really hard for me to shop for. If you experience the same struggle, maybe these gifts will inspire a few ideas for you.

1. Starbucks Christmas blend - His favorite coffee- convenient that it's sold this time of year!

2. Trader Joe's chocolate covered espresso beans -Huh. Apparently if you're desperate and willing to pay four times the cost, you can order these with Amazon prime. 

3. Mio water enhancers - Thomas is, quite possibly, the most well-hydrated person on the planet. Mios are his favorite way to keep water a little more interesting.

4. Reese's peanut butter trees - Just the best.

 5. Fine point pens - In a job where tiny handwriting and ridiculously fine point pens are praised, Thomas is mildly obsessed with loves his pens.

6. J. Crew boxers - New underwear is always a good idea.

7. J. Crew pajama pants - We have a new holiday pj tradition in our house and these J Crew pants have been the frontrunners for the last few years. These are mine.

8. Cocoon Grid-it -This would have absolutely made it into his stocking had I not come up with the idea so late. However, I just got one and it would be a brilliant idea for anyone who needs to wrangle the mess of cords that seems to always be around.

9. Krave jerky - Thomas is definitely a jerky guy so when I saw this idea in another blogger's guide, I knew I had to find it. Thankfully, Target had it- and on sale! Delicious sounding flavors.

10. Bandaids - (not pictured) Yes, I found camo bandaids. Yes, we will laugh long and hard come Christmas morning. Funny, yet useful gift.

Stockings for the not-quite toddler

Sorry we went dark for a few months! Thomas was deployed for a few months and we were strongly in survival mode. He's back now and all is right with our little world. 

Christmas stocking have long been my favorite part of Christmas. My parents were very good at putting them together and they had a seemingly endless stash of fun goodies that were equal parts useful, tasty, or just fun. For Margaret, I was a little stuck this year. 16 months is weird- not really a baby anymore (stay young forever!) and not quite a toddler. This is what we've come up with (for all of the scrambling at the last minute parents- like me!) this year.

1. Color Blast - This was a huge hit on our flight back to Seattle. Same premise as Color Wonder by crayola, but there's only one marker and the color is in the paper. Margaret loved seeing the colors, but there are activities for older kids as well. We found ours at Target.

2.  Take and Toss cups- Many thanks to Margaret for finally settling on the cheapest sippy cup around. These are remarkably spill-proof and easy for her to drink from (since about 10 months).

3.  Babylit books - If you haven't seen these adorable classics, check these out. We both swoon over the pictures and each book features a unique telling of the story- colors, counting, etc.

4. Bath toys- Munchkin Squirt bath toys - Boon Dive bath toys - We've long been fans of the Boon dive foam bath toys pictured, but I think the squirt toys we got will go over great as well.

5. P'kolino colored pencils and crayons - We got these for Margaret as I was just teaching her how to color. The size is perfect, the colors are very bright, and I love not having to rip paper off. The colored pencils are going in her stocking and hopefully we have a similarly great experience.

6. Notepads- not the ones pictured, just some that I picked up around the house for on-the-go diaper bag scribbles or sticker escapades.

7. Stickers- Michael's had a huge sale on Melissa and Doug stuff, so we grabbed a few of their regular sticker pads and some of the reusable sticker pads- similar to the Colorforms I played with as a kid. Sticker-obsessed Margaret has been sticking her current sticker collection all over the holiday LL Bean catalog. Waste not!

House progress- 2.5 months in

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I don't think anyone can fully warn you about what owning your first home is like. The endless projects, the complete responsibility, and utter satisfaction from a job well done. There are places in my home where I feel so comfortable. Other places have barely been touched, and still others cause emotional and physical pain. Hello, tiny pieces of grout that chip off the kitchen floor and tuck themselves into my feet. But we are making huge strides.

Master bedroom:

The before (during carpet removal)

  Progress: new floors, new paint, no more bathroom cabinet in the master bedroom. 

 Proud owners of the world's second-most hidious light fixture. 
You'll be happy to know that they still sell these at Lowe's. You can have one too!

  As it currently is. Planning on some large white curtains for the window.

Still debating on closet "door" options and what to do with the weird nook.
And your eyes do no deceive you- that door really is two colors. Nice.

Hall bath:
The glorious before.

 This is very much a first go-round update. The walls and ceiling were all the same green that the ceiling still is. Walls are gray, gross foam baseboards were removed (leaving more gross stuff beneath), faulty towel bar removed.

This little nook held nothing more than a single hook until my awesome husband hung some shelves. Hopefully it will soon be filled with baskets, towels, and jars to hold everything we need since all three of us use the same bathroom! Lots more to do in here.

Living Room:

On the list: add a mantel, rug, art above the couch, and a new lamp.

Over here I'd like to mount the tv on that little wall. The wicker basket was a great gift from my parents. It holds all of Margaret's toys and is currently the best way to store things for us. I can clean up this room in about two seconds by sweeping it all into the basket.

In case you were thinking that I somehow had a perfectly clean house. This also shows where we widened the entry into this room, and further back, where we knocked out a wall blocking off the kitchen. (If you missed some before photos, check them out here).

 This was a wonderfully easy project. The hook/cubby/board combo came from Ross and 
the boot tray was a great deal from Target. Moby needed to say hi too.

That covers the entryway, living room, master, and hall bath. So much left to do, but leaps and bounds ahead of where we were. We are forever doing little things around the house, like any other homeowner, but as far as major projects, we are going to try to tackle the exterior in the spring. A new fence (to be determined if we do it ourselves or find a company), and some major landscaping are on the horizon. After that, the kitchen!


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Caroline Howard was our wedding photographer and she currently runs CarolineRo - photographing the coolest weddings and couples. I think very highly of her as a person and of the work she does, but she already got a gushing thank you letter, so now is probably not the time. However, if you have a major event coming up, I'd get in touch. :) She took some pictures of us before we left Charleston, and it was the highlight of my day to receive them recently.

 Anything cuter than a baby belly?

Not a fan of bare feet on concrete.

Still haven't mastered the closed-mouth kiss. Still.

Proof of why Thomas and I aren't models- but this picture is so us. Margaret has hope.

 Family. The best. 
And Margaret waving good-bye.

Nine Months

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Going through my drafts folder and found this. No words, just a few pictures of Margaret at 9 months. For posterity's sake, I suppose.

Oh, and a little bit of blog stuff: thinking about changing the name of this blog (not sure yet), but the address will remain the same if that happens. The Facebook page will also be deleted in a few weeks- I can't keep up with it, so it's not doing anything worthwhile. You are welcome to find me on Bloglovin' to follow my blog, or Instagram to see a bit more "behind the scenes" type things. I've also been having some issues with the faith.macaroni blog address lately (sending and receiving- so sorry if you've had trouble or something got lost in the internet), so you will see an alternate email up if you need to get in touch with me.

Shave Time, Shave Money

Friday, September 26, 2014

Updated: Dollar Shave Club wanted to know ways that my family saves time and money. I'm thrilled to be working with this brand, but I hereby solemnly swear to you that I will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Amen. :) I'll lay it all out there. On occasion I've gotten a few emails from brands that ask me to promote their business. Until this point, I have declined, but when I heard from DSC, I ran into the room to tell Thomas because we've been using them for almost a year! It was a little thrilling. Post contains a link to DSC that will give us a credit if you order through us. All credits go to keeping Thomas' face up to Navy standards.

Thanks for supporting Faith and Macaroni!

We are always and forever thinking of ways to save a little bit (or a lot) of money around here. The Navy takes good care of us in many ways (thanks for the free medical care for our family!!), but leave us flush with cash? Nope, sorry. Not in these parts.

But you don't want to sacrifice quality if you don't have to, right? How do we get the stuff we need for a price we can afford?

Take advantage of freebies.
There are so many things in this category.
-The library is an obvious one: more than just books to borrow, but tons of local resources. I've got half a dozen Northwest gardening books on my shelf right now in an attempt to figure out how to tame my backyard. I get books for Margaret, I check out parenting books, movies, and we go to toddler story hour.
-Store loyalty cards. We get most of our groceries at Safeway. It took an extra 10 minutes on my first trip to the store, but now I get access to all of the store sales.
-Local festivals and events spring to mind. We are so lucky to live close to Seattle, but our little county has tons of free events that happen. If we're really bored (and maybe a little hungry), we hit up one of the many farmers markets around to get some fresh air and maybe a sample or a few.

Take advantage of discounts
-I found out that my grocery store marks down foods in their meat department that are 2 days from expiration. I obviously won't be buying a week's worth of meat here, but I check to see if I can grab something and work it into dinner last night. Hellooooo 75% off grass fed organic steaks. I will take you home. (And my mom brought up the point that you can freeze this meat too!)
-If you're military, be bold and ask everywhere you go. Usually we get a "Nope, sorry, I wish we did offer a military discount!" but every now and then, we get a "Yeah! 10%!"
-Sign up for store emails. Do not sign up for store emails if you are easily tempted, but if you can stay strong, a sale will come up just as you desperately need to replace your winter coat.

Online Shopping
Online shopping is my jam. Given that it can take over an hour for us to get out of the house, our errands can be limited. If you can send it to my house (preferably with free shipping), I am loyal as a dog.
-Amazon Prime. Ahh. True love. $99 for a year. Sounds like a lot but free unlimited music, free instant video, the ability to subscribe to my favorite products and have them shipped to my house for a 20% discount (Amazon Mom program, 15% if you don't join Amazon Mom), and the best of the best, free two day shipping. Glorious.
-Dollar Shave Club!!!! Does anyone in your house shave ever? Great, then you're a prime candidate for Dollar Shave Club, where you can, just as the name states, shave for as little as a dollar a month. I'm pretty sure in the Navy handbook there's a picture of a drill sergeant yelling "NO STUBBLE EVER, SHIPMATE!!" Picture my trashcan littered with used up blades. So you know when you go down the shaving aisle and there are blades upwards of $25 for four? Yeah. That's what Thomas used. I totally get it. That much shaving can irritate your face, so you need the best of the best. But dang. Lotta money. So when I saw this snappy YouTube video someone posted on Facebook:

(caution: bleeped out word NSFW)

It made me laugh real hard (and still does), but it also made me go check it out. And somehow convinced Thomas that he needed to jump on that bandwagon. The first one he tried was the 4 blade razor. But it wasn't quite right. Easy enough switch! So now, for the fanciest razor they offer, we pay $9 a month. NINE DOLLARS.
But nine dollars, you say? It's not the nine dollar shave club, you say. True. Lowdown:
    $2/month for a 2 blade razor. Five cartridges a month.
    $6/month for a 4 blade razor. 4 cartridges a month.
    $9/month for The Executive. 6 blades, 4 cartridges a month. It makes for a kissable face.
And now my clean-shaven, frequently-kissed husband goes around telling all of his friends about the glories of Dollar Shave Club. And now I shall too. As soon as I get done with the box I picked up on our cross-country move, I'm DSC-ing it all the way too.

How are you shaving time and/or money? What did I forget?

When to speak up

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I had a big moment of awkwardness today. Of course it was in a crowded room. Crowded with people I barely knew. Fun times.

I've been going to a local Lutheran church here. I love it. The pastors are super nice, the congregation is lovely and welcoming, and there are tons of activities geared towards young families. This week was my second week going to a mom's group at the church. Margaret gets to hang in the nursery with other kids and I get to talk to grown ups. It's everything I ever dreamed of.

We are currently discussing Glennon Doyle Melton's book Carry On Warrior. (It's fantastic! This is my second time reading it.) You may also know her from her blog Momastery. Our pastor leading the discussion briefly left the room and the conversation somehow devolved into the possibility that Glennon was somehow Bipolar (I don't think she is) and was possibly using her platform to feed her Bipolar Disorder. I'm not sure exactly what that meant (Bipolar people have sociopathic traits? We're narcissists?), but it was rapidly going downhill.

I started to get very tense. My temperature rose and I started to get a little twitchy. My options were to stay quiet, leave the room, or speak up. And I did. I spoke just loud enough to be heard- "I just think that I should throw out there that I'm Bipolar." Perhaps not my most eloquent sentence, but it was heard, as the room went totally silent and all eyes were on me. "Just wanted to throw that out there." Then I attempted to rein in the conversation.

It wasn't my place to lecture anyone. I didn't want to make anyone else feel uncomfortable. They had done nothing wrong. I just wanted to stop feeling awkward. I was afraid that if I didn't say something at that moment, someone else might say something (perhaps completely unintentionally) that might make me feel permanently uncomfortable and unwelcome in that group. I think we've all had those moments and said things in the heat of the moment, and especially when in a group mentality, that we regret. I didn't want to be the unwelcome recipient of those kinds of statements.

In the end, I'm glad I said something, but I also feel like I had to tell something deeply personal that wasn't on my terms. I'm a little frustrated that I felt I had to say something before I was ready to share that. I've been working on not being so hesitant to share this part of me. I'm no longer ashamed of it, but I do feel like I'm contributing to the stigma and "hush-hush" nature of mental illness when I am afraid to talk about it. I firmly believe there's a time and a place for everything, but I also know that speaking out releases some of that shame that surrounds it. The less shame, the less power the stigma has, the less of a grip it holds over our lives.

Real fast x 4

Monday, September 8, 2014

I don't know why the idea of a well thought out blog post seems monumentally overwhelming, but it does. So let's be quick about some things and maybe I'll start blogging more than once a month. Ha.

1. Gardening.
I'm not a gardener. I like to grow things, and I've kept an herb garden for the past few years (minus this year with the move), but I do not itch to get outside in every spare moment I have. Unfortunately, or perhaps not, I bought a house with an acre of overgrown, unkempt land.

This was the view from our front porch. The ivy has been pruned back (it's covering a ugly cinderblock retaining wall), the tree in the center has been pruned, and the large leafy plant that appears to be growing out of the ivy has been pruned back to make it easier to remove completely. The large green tree to the right is still there- it's about as tall as the house and there are many of them! Not sure what to do with that yet.

We clearly have the ability to grow grass... but we also have a nice rocky, 
desert landscape going in that one corner. Nice, huh?

 This would be a lovely close-up of the world's saddest and ugliest pathetic excuse for a fence. I'm not sure what's holding it up (though it's not really that upright at all). The only thing keeping us from tearing this out (yes, Moby can escape from it) is the fact that we saw someone walking *just* behind our fence line the other day. Our fence line sits well within our property line. It was pretty creepy (it's all green space behind us), so despite it's pathetic existence, it gets to hang out just a bit longer until we figure out a plan. And so I can delude myself into a notion of safety.

We've got some amazing trees. We've also seen some awesome backyards in the surrounding area. We have the biggest lot in the neighborhood and have the perk of sitting in the back of a cul-de-sac. I really love what our property could become. Thomas and I always joke that we're going to fall in love with this house and then have to turn right around and sell it.

For now, it's just sort of terrifying-looking.

2. Nap fighting. What is it with tired kids fighting naps? Margaret took three naps a day for the longest time, and we've since moved to two. It means more flexibility in our schedule and I love it. Except for the 20-40 minute period before almost every nap (no exaggeration, I get maybe one to two naps a week where she goes right to sleep). I should be grateful that she sleeps through the night, and doesn't fight going down at night, and I am! But this period of incessant talking, yelling, and uber creepy wall scratching (that last one is the stuff of nightmares) is exhausting too.


 cute though...

3. Making friends is hard. I'm set up for failure given my current daily social interaction is a one year-old who says three words and puts most of her possessions in her mouth. It leaves me nervous and feeling like everything out of my mouth sounds weird. The introverted thing isn't helping either. Forced social gatherings aren't my jam either. 5 weeks and counting.

4. So it was upwards of 90 degrees not long ago, and we have no air conditioning. So we bought a ceiling fan. It was 54 degrees last night and it's 64 now. Pacific Northwest, I cannot predict you!!

Off to go check on the nap boycotter.

Tiny Little Human, Happy First Birthday

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dear Margaret-

Hey there, Jellybean. It's a week after your first birthday and I'm just sitting down to write this. I can assure you, that is absolutely a testament to how busy you keep me!

You're crawling around like a champ now, getting into anything and everything that interests you. We are living in Washington right now and are doing some home repairs. We widened a wall, but have yet to finish the sheetrock. I am constantly pulling you away from the end of that wall- the rough sheetrock that crumbles between your fingers must have a magnetic pull. On the opposite side of the wall that your crib is on is the couch. It scared the living daylights out of me to hear your fingernails on the wall behind me- you woke up so quietly! I walked in to find that you had been amusing yourself by pulling the outlet covers off the 4 sockets near your crib. Needless to say, my heart flew into my mouth as I pushed your crib to the middle of the room and swiftly ran into the living room to order some more intense wall covers via Amazon. They haven't gotten here yet. Your crib is still in the middle of your room. A sleeping island.

It's hard, little one, to discipline you. You know how to say two words "uh-oh" and "Dada." {People may be surprised to know that "uh-oh" actually came first.} So when you get into something you're not supposed to (frequently), it's generally a game of redirection (an all-day game). You have a few toys you love dearly, but your favorite things to play with (that we actually allow you to play with) are cups, keys, wooden and plastic kitchen utensils, books, and boxes. Pulling out those things are how we redirect you to a more suitable activity.

I wonder how to keep you independent, given that at the moment, you are an only child and have at least another year before some sort of preschool. I love being your constant companion, but I want you to realize that you can be your own companion. But even when I have those thoughts, I realize you're already so good at that. You can keep yourself busy in your crib with board books and soft blocks while I grab a shower. I can keep watch from the kitchen or the couch while you amuse yourself in your toy basket. I wish I could take credit for those things, but you've almost always been quite content to play by yourself. You even play in your crib when you wake up.

Notice I didn't say play quietly, because that isn't a word I'd use all that often to describe you. You have found your voice for sure, keeping up a constant stream of jabber almost all day, narrating your activities to me or to yourself. Going out in public or to church can be interesting, should you feel the need to make some sort of public announcement. "Shhhhh" is totally lost on you. Rarely are you mad, you're just... emphatic. Though if you could pare down the emphatic speeches you give for 45 minutes before naps, that would be stupendous.

Some of your peers started walking long ago, but you are content to wait until you feel the time is right. Just as you did with sitting and crawling, nothing will stop you once you put your mind to it, but nothing can persuade you if you're not ready. I like that about you, little girl. You love to pull up on things, peering to see what might be on a surface that was previously out of reach. I try to make sure that you won't injure yourself terribly or do anything that is inherently dangerous, but you've hit your head a few times. Much as it pains me to see you cry, it's nothing a cuddle and a kiss won't fix. But (lest anyone reading this think me negligent or lazy), after 2 hard falls, you became incredibly careful about pulling up and getting down. I won't let you crawl into the fire place or down the stairs anytime soon, but you know some consequences now, and have adjusted your actions accordingly.

Hey, some adults don't even know how to do that. :)

"...through the eyes of a child..." is one of those oft quoted, almost cliched phrases you'll hear once you grow up. It is true though. Your dad and I remind each other frequently (usually when you become fascinated with some object that is mundane to us), that you're new to this world. Only here a year! I forget that sometimes, tiny human. You're adapting well to this wide world. You might be a little wary if I were to pass you off to someone, but you're quick to smile at anyone in a checkout line. You soften the gruff exteriors of some humans who have been here a much longer time. I hope you continue to carry that with you. It doesn't hurt that you have two tiny bottom teeth, eyes that seem to have turned brown, and a sheepdog look (I swear, we'll go get your fourth haircut soon). The pigtails you've been sporting lately really seem to disarm people. And I feel a little justified when people tell me you're a really, really cute baby. Your personality is only strengthening by the day, and we are excited to see more of it in the coming year. 

Margaret, I love you. (And Dad says he loves you too.) I am so lucky to be your mother. I am truly grateful for the lessons you teach me and the joy you bring me. You are a delight. And a handful. I have no idea how I got so lucky. Coming to see you in your crib when you wake up in the morning makes it *almost* irrelevant that you've been waking up with the sun lately.

Girl, you (and your hair) are the best. I love you.

Happy first birthday.

love, love, all of the love,


(could you say that for me soon?! I've been waiting.)