Month: August 2014

School House Dreams, Take 2

This is a continued series about my love found in the small details of our house.

Last week it was the circular driveway, this week, the brick sidewalk.

DSC_0024 DSC_0029 DSC_0032

I have no idea where this brick came from (wish I had asked the previous owners), but it is intricately detailed, old, and has a sheen to it.  Some pieces are cracked, others chipped but they are still so tightly wedged into the ground that they form the perfect path to lead one in and out of the house.


Anniversary Party

I had the idea I wanted to include the girls in our anniversary somehow this year.  Though Bea is way too young to understand, I knew MG would find significance in anything that resembles a princess type setting.


We waited until the puke virus had cleared the house (or so we thought) and then told the girls we would be celebrating that evening.  MG helped me make frosted cookies (couldn’t find anyone to make a gfree cake last minute) and we talked about getting married and how special it is.

After dinner, we turned on the wedding video (well, the edited one, only about 11 minutes long) and MG was enthralled.  As much as I had prepped her for all of the wedding details, I sort of forgot there would be people in the video that she knew: Granny and Grandma being her favorite finds.

After it was over, we asked her if she wanted to get married one day. And, well, see her response for yourself:

MG on weddings from Kate on Vimeo.

Heart strings = tugged.


School House Dreams Series, take 1

I mentioned last week that I wanted to highlight some of my favorite features of our house.  I think the love for one’s house is in the details: this niche or this corner or that backyard hideaway.  I wanted to make a capsule, of sorts, to help me remember the details that make this house our home.

The first one that comes to mind is the circular driveway.  I fell in love with the driveway upon first sight of it.  Most of the day, some part of it is flanked in shade by the large and ancient tree at its perimeter.


I have first view of anyone who pulls up to the house (a luxury I always missed at our last house)


One of my favorite “visitors”

And seeing as how we don’t exactly live in a neighborhood, it affords plenty of parking when we have gatherings.

Schoolhouse dreams.


Fifteen Months

This little Baby Love is fifteen months, as of yesterday.


N and I remark all the time how “human” she is becoming.  She and MG actually play and laugh together.  She has verbal cues for “food” and “more” (often combined) and when she sees something she’s not supposed to do (like touch the hot stove), she shakes her head “no” as if to preempt us (that doesn’t always stop her from doing it though!)


No major milestones this month.  Just working more on communicating and moving.  She taught herself how to go down the stairs and I think, I THINK we may be at the end of our time with the dreaded baby gate.


For the first time ever, EVER, I am warming to the idea of two children. As in two children, period.  Holding a baby makes me want to make and hold babies forever.  Chasing a walking, non-talking toddler is a 24-7 job and makes me want to see her through to independence.  For the longest time I didn’t understand it, but now I can totally see why people stop at 2.  A year from now I will have two little ones who will play together, who I can turn them loose in the backyard and let them run while I sit idly by, who will think and nap and eat independently. In just one year.  I mean, the light is at the end of the tunnel.  Why revert now?


But then I think about how much I love babies and how making and holding babies has been one of the most magical and ethereal (yes both) parts of my life.  And it is done.  Poof.  Vanished.  To think it has felt as fast as the snap of the fingers and that is it.

How can that be it?  Clearly I am still waffling :).

But to end on a more grounded note: Ladies and gentlemen, she can now feed herself!  As long as we keep the servings full and preside with a careful eye, we can now set a plate of food in front of Bea and watch her enjoy.  It is SO FREEING. I am actually tasting my dinner again.

Like I said, LIGHT.



Open For Business

I’ve been thinking about it for years and dreaming about it for the past few weeks.  I finally decided to take the plunge (life will never be any less busy than right now, no?) and open up shop.  Excited to see where it takes me!

For now I will be offering limited runs on some of my favorite things: custom house drawings and paintings, tea towels, muslin swaddle blankets, string art, printables, burlap table runners, reusable cloth napkins, and of course clothing for little girls :).  Doing limited trial runs will help me keep things fresh and see what generates interest.  I wrote out a small business plan but I’m not sure what it will look like in six months :).  Excited for the opportunity just to try.  (click on the pictures to be directed to the Etsy shop…or follow along on Instagram @sweetmamamakes for first hand news :))

instagram offers copy photo (4)

Thank you so much for your encouragement and business!




Gosh, I guess it’s been since May when I last blogged some of our home improvements.  We worked really hard this summer and crossed quite a few more off of our list.  Though our list is still quite long, I’m starting to feel really good about the amount we’ve accomplished and what we have left to tackle.  I guess you could say the light is visible at the end of the tunnel.

When we first moved in, I worked like a maniac.  Then I hit a lull and lost my passion and drive for a bit.  I started to get bogged down with all that I wanted to do but couldn’t clear my vision enough to decide where to go next.  N helped me through it.  July was another month of hard work and I think August was the turning point where I started to feel very accomplished.  Here are some things we’ve done since May:

-dormers This was one of the first things on our to-do list and we were itching to start them.  It took about three weeks start to finish (but boy were those three long weeks.  The Amish crews started promptly at 7:30am and by start I mean they were pounding on the walls (to our bedrooms) or climbing through the gaping holes in our bedrooms.)  We also had roofing crews and interior crews to live with but I kept telling myself, “this will be worth it!”  And it was/is!  We have so much natural light pouring into these rooms now.


Here is the girls’ bedroom before, ours had the exact same set-up with only a skylight for natural light.  (get a load of that wallpaper and carpet too!)IMG_8427

End of day 1!  Good thing it didn’t rain!IMG_8460 IMG_8462 IMG_8467

Collage of progress pics and one from the outside

We also painted both bedrooms and added new carpet to them


Styling the girls’ room is far down on my list right now, but it looks so much better with the new paint, carpet, and windows!

-blinds  The house came with lace curtains that did not afford any privacy and at the same time obscured the view (I mean we practically bought the house for the view).  We decided to have roller blinds installed instead and I am VERY happy with this choice.  I love that we can completely hide them when we want to see our view or we can customize the length depending on the height of the sun.  I love how the color adds a bit of dimension to the walls as well


osmosis  We had our well water extensively tested and it came back completely healthy.  However, the taste was not one I wanted to get used to.  We added in a reverse osmosis system to our sink and refrigerator.  I love the taste and am so happy with this choice!!

-paint (doors, trim, etc) No inch of the downstairs has been left untouched by a brush.  The upstairs still remains to be painted but all of our initial focus has been on the down.  I burned through quite a few This American Life episodes while painting trim/doors and can still recall some of the more impactful episodes as I am looking at different parts of the house.


Our powder room went from beige to Benjamin Moore’s Old Navy.  Dramatic difference!

-living room ceiling  The living room ceiling was covered by a particle-board type wainscotting that didn’t look professionally installed.  N ripped all of this down and whitewashed the weathered boards underneath.  I like this look so much better!


Side by side of wainscotting and boards underneathIMG_9198

Progression pic, you can see the particle board, boards underneath, and whitewash

hang pictures  Hanging pictures was, admittedly, one of the hardest things for me.  I drug my feet over it.  N really had to talk me into it.  I definitely wanted to wait until we had the walls painted but even after that I was having a hard time committing.  It was really hard to reconcile decorating this house with all of the things meant for another house.  But I truly think this was a turning point for me.  Once the walls started to come alive, it no longer felt like our house was in a constant state of undone.  The vision finally started to take place and I found my motivation to continue.

Some of the artwork included is by my mom, myself, Brad Johnston, and my great Uncle Les

IMG_0396 IMG_0397 IMG_0398 IMG_0399 IMG_0400 IMG_0401 IMG_0402 IMG_0403

-art cabinet  Love this beauty that got left behind.  Right now its full of the girls’ art supplies.  I couldn’t bring myself to chalk paint it as I had done the other two pieces of furniture but instead tried a gel stain and updated hardware.  Love the finished product!


sold the hot tub/other for the sake of the fireplace  We’ve been going “gazelle intense” (thank you, Dave Ramsey) for the sake of the fireplace makeover (the next big thing on our list) and selling everything we aren’t madly in love with.  The hot tub was a nice little perk for our house but ultimately one we never really used to it’s full extent nor cared about all that much.  Selling it (and a few other things) brought us very close to our fireplace goal.  No regrets!

Still a few more things on our list and I am excited to tackle them one by one.  I’m sure things will slow down a bit as we regroup our time and money but I feel great about the point we’ve made it to thus far!

I also thought it would be fun to start another mini-series (can you tell I like these??) that would highlight small details of the house that I love or have grown to appreciate.  While certainly far from flawless, this house is not lacking in character.  I’d love to capture the things about it that make it unique, starting next week.  Stay tuned.


Allow me a few words

to complain?


This awful sickness still has MG in its throes.  After 5 days of normal health (and for the most part, behavior), she woke up on Wednesday morning with another stomach ache and vomiting.  I can not believe this.

Thursday morning I took her into her pediatrician and came prepared with the lab results we’d had completed just a few days prior.  Nothing suspicious turned up as far as bacteria and/or parasites.  She seems to think it is still just a virus, taking its time working its way out.  (I’m not convinced, I have another theory, but it remains to be seen).

On Thursday she had awoken without pain and seemed hungry and normal.  It was nice to have my happy girl back, even if it was just for a day.  She kept asking me, “are we going to the doctor for ME??!”  Yes, for you.  “Thanks.”

And then early this morning she woke up to more vomiting and other symptoms.

I pleaded with N to take her into the ER, sure that my theory was correct and that she needed to get started on antibiotics.  But the ER doc shot my theory down based on his personal experience and recommended a continued “wait and see” approach along with another lab work-up.


I just can’t get over how long this has lasted (three full weeks), how draining it is (emotionally & physically), and how helpless I feel (I constantly rack my brain trying to come up with a solution or at least figure out what it is or what caused it).

I am so tired of trying to keep the girls quarantined, of the mountains of laundry, of scrubbing my hands raw, and of trying to come up with palatable meals that don’t involve lactose, red meat, raw vegetables, or fruit.  I’m tired of over-analyzing every rumble in my stomach, being home-bound (I miss just doing normal stuff!), being on a consistent schedule, hearing MG play dress-up and use her imagination.

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. (can you tell I’m feeling a little sorry for myself!?) Please, please, let this be the end of it.


Fourteen Months

Well this post is terribly late, but in all honesty, I just wanted to write down some of the things Bea has been doing lately.

Her personality is really starting to become apparent and she is starting to become “one of us” now, able to communicate her wishes and desires to us.

She only has a handful of words “dog”, “horse (which sounds like dog)”, “mama”, and “dada”.  She also has words for “more”, and “water”.  But the way she expresses her thoughts often get us rolling with laughter.

If we offer her food she doesn’t want, she will squint her eyes, bare her teeth, and turn her head from side-to-side, snorting.  If we catch her doing something she shouldn’t, she will run away, giggling (trying to discipline this girl is HARD, she thinks everything is a game).  If she is hungry she will squeal, loudly, and for a long time.  It is so loud it is impossible to talk over her.

Her newest trick is to gesture towards me and grunt until she gets my attention.  She will then walk in the direction of her pointer finger, looking over her shoulder to make sure I’m following her.  More often than not, this leads to the pantry where she will point both index fingers fiercely towards it and wildly jabber until we offer her some food.

At night, the girls have been sharing a room.  I don’t have to monitor what’s going on in there because Bea will often inform me, with a short burst of squawks, if MG is doing something she shouldn’t, like leaving the room.

MG still mother hens her and I find it adorable so I do little to stop it, other than the occasional reminder to “give her some space”.  It never fails if we are all going upstairs together, MG will run to the top and say, “I’m going to be so proud of Bea when she makes it up here” (a throwback to earlier crawling days).  She will wait with outstretched arms at the top to pull Bea in while Bea does everything to avoid the body mass blocking her way at the top.

I truly wish I could change it so MG’s outpouring of affection wasn’t rejected so much by her younger sis, but I pray that will come with time, and so far it hasn’t seemed to deter her.

Here are both girls at fourteen months


Bea’s abundance of hair and facial expressions, I think, give her an older appearance.  Although the girls are very similar in weight, Bea has always been a few ounces ahead of MG in the comparisons.  She gets far fewer comments about how little she is and how young she looks.


P.S. thank you all for your prayers and concern for our sickness last week.  I had a minor relapse on Monday and MG has a tummy ache vomiting again today (after 5 clear days of health!!!).  We are still awaiting test results to see if we can nail down anything.