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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Moving on...

I have officially migrated my little old blog over to WordPress. So, if you care to follow along...

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Drops of life

There's a new normal going on around here. One that I resisted, and slowly, painfully learned that resistance is futile.

Change comes whether I'm ready or not. Whether I want it or not. One minute, you're just planting a seed...

And the next...

One minute...

And the next...

Her legs are a mile long and she knows how to use 'em. I'm staring at the end of my 25th year; Sienna's first. All I can say is, wow...


I like this new normal. Days filled with a million things that could be, should be done. Sometimes cracking open a book is better. Quiet nights catching up, imagining what's up ahead. Quality time with great people. Appreciation for where we live. Motivation for a healthy, active life. Participating in the blossoming of a beautiful human being.

It's good to have no idea what's in store. The past won't tell you unless you're already repeating it. The future will just create uncertainty, anxiety, doubt. Nothing outside of now can be known. Just be present, be open, and enjoy each moment. The drops of life are sweet.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


It seemed like it would never happen, but winter has officially packed up and is making way for the warmth and sunshine that we've all been craving...

I have to say that I will miss the smell of the wood stove burning and the sight of fresh snowfall on the landscape around me. But not nearly as much as I will welcome early sunlight and colorful blooms and a change of attire.

I love spring because it's all about rebirth. Awakening. Shaking off a few layers and opening up to new possibilities.

This past week was nothing short of a roller coaster ride. Ev and I both started our news jobs at the same time. It's time to make the donuts. We stocked our kitchen with too many dollar signs worth of groceries and I visited numerous second-hand stores for more baby stuff because Sienna would be splitting her time between her GG, her great Aunty Mia and her great Aunty Tanya. These women are amazing and Ev and I couldn't do what we are doing without them.

This is the first time in a long time that I can look forward to weekends again, and it's already chock full of errands to run and people to visit. But I am seriously excited. We are already doing many of the things that we have been talking about for what feels like forever. Taking walks, spending quality time with family and friends, and saving that hard earned dough for all the bigger, better things that are on the horizon.

With all of this newness comes a real honest need for patience and perspective. I am notorious for taking on too much. I get restless when things slow down and overwhelmed when things speed up. I continue to struggle to maintain a balance.

Speaking of balance...
That, my friends, is a look of determination. Within a week-and-a-half, Miss Sienna went from crawling to speed crawling to pulling herself up on her feet. The girl just passed the 8-month mark and I am still constantly in awe of her.

But that's the best feeling. It's not that I don't want her to grow up. I hear so many moms comment about how it makes them sad to pack up their kid's old clothes or when they observe a new developmental milestone it's bittersweet. And I can officially say that yes, it certainly can be. But it is also so very awesome and I am so happy that I get to be a part of this. It still feels like she was just born, like she was so little and precious just yesterday. And here she is, beautiful and healthy and on the move. Anytime I feel overwhelmed by life, I look at her and I'm back to center.

All I can say is we are lucky. Lucky. Lucky.

Monday, March 31, 2014

As Is

There's a loooooooooooottttt of pretty pictures out there of perfectly manicured, not even close to being lived in homes. 

My home is not one of them. And I'm still insisting on taking 99.9% of my pictures on my iPhone. Resulting in many grainy, poorly lit and out of focus photos. 

But I guess that's the way it is until I either A. upgrade my phone or B. get serious and use a real camera. My vote is for option A. 

Back to the Pinterest perfect homes. I'm not hating, I love looking at these pictures. I read countless home improvement blogs and droll over vintage reupholstered chairs and wall organizers crafted out of scrap wood. I think that I can do all of these things and someday my home, too, will look just as unique and awesome.

Sometimes I get frustrated that it seems too out of reach. Then I realize the kinds of tricks that cameras and Photoshop can play. That those insanely tidy shots of a cozy reading nook or a kitchen just waiting to be cooked in are very small fragments of a whole picture that likely includes baby toys and clutter and messy floors.

So without tidying, I decided to snap a few shots of our room. As is. This is our very humble abode, much of it was already here. I finally got around to adding in some of our own stuff while repurposing many things that I've found around this 60-year-old house...

 Our sleeping nook, dressed up with a colorful Nate Berkus comforter and striped pillow. 
Making the bed is overrated.
   Old wooden box turned bracelet storage. 
Lovely old dresser.
The desk is bulky and in need of a fresh face. But for now, it works...

And that's what I keep reminding myself. For now, it works. Things are just fine. In fact, they're better than fine. Life is great, as is.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The loo

This little half bath is a tough one. It's the only bathroom on the main floor of the house, and thanks to the addition my grandfather did on the kitchen decades ago, it no longer has an outside window. Just an inside one. Yep, window stayed and it gives you a nice view into the laundry room.

Once we started the kitchen floor, which had the same old tile, we knew the bathroom had to be done. It was small enough, so might as well.

There was two layers to get through to the plaster wall. I was lucky. This stuff peeled like nothing and warm water and a scraper was all it took to get down that second layer of paper.

 Evan wiped the walls down while Gramps and I hit up Home Depot for some paint. We would finish the tile before we actually got to painting. See that lovely linoleum underneath? Oh linoleum. I was not sad to see you covered up.

Gramps went full steam ahead and cut in all around the ceiling. He didn't want to bother with taping things off but I'm picky, so I did it. I finished the cutting in around the trim, which didn't need to be perfect because we were painting it anyway. The color we chose for the wall is Geyser by Behr, and the trim is Ultra White.

And then wouldn't ya know, the little loo was brought back to life with some snazzy new floor tile, fresh paint, and a simple curtain I made out of some heavily discounted fabric from JoAnn's and no sew hem tape.

All in all, I'd say this place is shaping up little by little. And I'm happy with how much I've learned in such a short amount of time. Next phase is to tackle Sienna's room. Looks like I'm gonna have to brush off the ol' Pinterest account and get some inspiration.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

My idea of a good time

I need to write.

That’s what I’ve been saying to myself these past few weeks. But I’ve been too busy.

In between all the transitions that take place when moving back home, plus the endless job search... I've been lucky. Gramps and I are currently entrenched in some really enjoyable and productive projects. I’ve finally gotten the chance to do some of the things that I’ve been wanting to do for the past 18 months, but just wasn’t in the right place.

I’ve been making some old bathrooms look slightly better.

And ripping up and laying down floor tile.

This may sound strange to some people, but I’m a true DIYer at heart and have never really had the chance to enact some of my DIY fantasies out on the places I’ve occupied. Mostly because these places have always been rented and landlords didn’t feel like letting me get artistic on their walls.

Now I’m in my grandfather’s house, the craftsman. I’ve talked about this house before because it is very special to me. This place is a canvas just w a i t i n g to be painted on.

Gramps is the ultimate DIYer. He masters skills (and still renews his Journeyman plumbing license despite being retired for decades because he’s so damn proud of his accomplishments). He fixes what needs fixin’ and doesn’t really bother to keep up with the latest and greatest. He’s as practical as practical can be. He is basically what I strive to be.

He’s also stubborn and impatient and I know where I get it from. He has also fallen under the charm of Sienna and loves being a great grandfather. He says it's a trip.
The business face.
Onto the projects…

Gramps has already refinished the dining room’s hardwood floors and put down a brand new area rug. Despite the dining room still being 100% underused as an actual dining room, it has become a good place for the storage of many tools and supplies through the duration of our floor project.

And that’s where it started. The floor in the kitchen has been in bad shape for a long time. It lasted for many years, there's no denying that. But it was discolored, cracked in multiple places, and it was obvious that the subfloor had retained some water damage from where the ceiling leaked... a problem that Gramps said he's has on and off ever since adding on to the kitchen 30 years ago.

So we ripped that sucker up and it became a little bit more of a project than I bargained for. But it was also to be expected and I jumped at the chance to learn all I could about the ins and outs of flooring, including repair.

After removing and replacing the water damaged portions of the plywood subfloor, we set out in search of new tile. Nothing Fancy (see what I did there?). Just some higher quality peel-and-stick vinyl would do the trick. Gramps really wasn't interested in getting into this project in the first place, but I sort of pushed him into it so although I had a much more glamorous picture of a sweet ceramic bricklayer pattern in my head, I went along with the simple stuff.

Let's be honest. Day after day of being on your hands and knees is no joke, especially on your back. I actually struggled at first to keep up with my 84-year-old grandfather who had to sit in a chair most of the time because getting down on the floor wasn't an option. He needed my young knees and I needed his brain.
Yes, those are polar bears on my pants.

The lines sometimes veered off course and the cuts weren't perfect... sometimes they were so far off it was laughable. But we made a good team and in the end we ended up with a way better result than I think we realized we could get with him being much slower than he use to be and me being a complete novice.

We started ripping up old tile on March 1 and laid the final tile yesterday, March 15. Two weeks, about $300 and a million hours of labor later and we have a shiny new floor in not only the kitchen but the bathroom, which had some peeling wallpaper. I couldn't just stop with the floor, so you can imagine what I did next...

To be continued!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Muscle Memory

Muscle memory happens when a movement is repeated over time, creating a long-term memory for that task. Eventually, this movement can be performed without conscious effort. Even if you’ve been away from this particular movement or task for some time, picking it up again can end up feeling like you just left off. The time that occurred—the hiatus, so to speak—is irrelevant.

Relationships are like that. Familiar places are too. I don’t just associate this muscle memory with exercise. Although I did have a great moment yesterday about 30 minutes into a 90-minute hot yoga class where the familiar environment and movements had me feeling more confident about what I was doing there. I had been here before, I could do this. And I did.

Coming home has been another reminder that I’ve been here before, I know it better. And I know myself better. I have all that I need in order to make this life here a good one.

So I’m happy to say that while I was complaining about how difficult it was to start my workout program just a couple weeks ago, I had no idea that in a matter of days we would find ourselves in the place that we had been working towards for many, many months.

Home. Nearly 700 miles Eastbound. We knew we would come back here eventually, we even went so far as to set a time frame. But then life happened and we decided the time is now.

I also believe we were lead back here to protect ourselves. The strength of our bond and the family we created was being tested. To return to our happiness sooner than later was of the utmost important because it wasn’t good for anyone to put it off any longer. Delaying the inevitable was just making things more difficult than they needed to be. So we ripped off the proverbial Band-Aid.

I told a good friend that I felt like I could breathe again. Like I had been holding my breath for the past 18 months and I could finally let it all out. This burden that I didn’t even realize I was carrying for so long was lifted. Of course, the burden was the one that I put on myself. I was forcing myself to try to make a life in a place that I just couldn’t get comfortable in for one reason or another. And I had tried. We all tried. I’m still proud of how far we came in such a short amount of time.

I should add that making this move was not 100% me. It was 33%. I am one-third of a unit that sticks together and makes decisions together to better our lives, and hopefully the lives of those around us. Upon our return, we realized everything that had been there all along. We were exactly where we belonged.

And I’m reminded, as always, that things happen for a reason. Doors close and others open and it’s up to us to walk through them. And when things seem chaotic and out of control, you can be sure that clarity will come.

This is my clarity: I am home. I have a loving husband and a healthy baby girl. I have an incredibly rewarding relationship with myself as well as with my closest family and friends. I have a connection to this place. I have opportunities all around me. Life is seriously good. I am grateful and excited for every little thing.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Plan

Note: I am doing this in hopes of holding myself accountable. And so I can look back and be proud of myself for pursuing a goal and sticking to it.

Back in October, I put it all out there and wrote about the ups and downs of my health & wellness journey. Okay, so basically it was a reflection on how chubby I was and how skinny I became and how I am now stuck somewhere in the middle. And trying to convince myself that I am okay with that.

The look: yogas, messy hair, no makeup, screaming baby on hip
Honestly, I'm more comfortable in my own skin now than I was when I could squeeze into a size 3/4. I will say that birthing a child can do that to you. But I still stop and gaze at myself in the mirror and wonder if I could do just a little bit better.

Of course, the answer is yes. I can. And I will. I'm obviously a person who is accustomed to being uncomfortable. How many others do you know that would voluntarily move out of state to live with their in-laws just months after getting married? And then get pregnant? And go to work waiting tables in a black long sleeve and a tie in the middle of summer just weeks before giving birth?

My point is I have to push myself, and sometimes that makes me uncomfortable. But I always do it and I always overcome. And it's always a positive learning experience in the end. It is my ultimate goal to live a life that is focused on health & wellness always, so any steps that I am taking today will make a bigger impact tomorrow.

More  Less 

When I was officially 6 weeks postpartum I started doing Focus T-25 with my neighbor and friend, Susan. I loved it because it was a short, efficient workout that made me break a sweat and had me feeling nice and sore the next day. I had a hard time sticking with the schedule because I was only working out when she had the time and I always had to ask someone who was home to keep an eye on Sienna. So my workouts fizzled and then we went away for Christmas and now it's almost February.

I stopped whining and finally ordered the program for myself, and it's been sitting by the TV downstairs for weeks. So this coming Sunday, February 2 I will be going to the store to stock up for the 5 Day Fast Track which will then lead right into the program. Here are the supplies I need:

· Body measuring tape (for measurements first thing Monday morning & at the end of the program)
· Shaker bottle/water bottle (because the ones I already own keep disappearing)

And the food stuff:

· Nonfat & almond milk (I prefer just almond milk but the regular milk can be used for a little protein boost)
· Natural peanut butter (Teddy has always been my go-to, but we’ve been buying Skippy Natural in bulk from BJ’s)
· Caffeine-free herbal tea (bye bye coffee *sobs*)
· Greek yogurt (This stuff is amazing)
· Eggs (The perfect food)
· Fresh and frozen berries (whichever makes the most sense at the time)
· Low sodium cold cuts (turkey and cheese work for me)
· Whole wheat crackers (probably going to be the only “wheat” I consume)
· Plain almonds (for snacking/adding to salads)
· Baby spinach and romaine lettuce (for the perfect salad)
· Avocados (hopefully), grapes, bananas, apples
· Celery, bell peppers, tomatoes, and other produce items that sound good and will hopefully get eaten
· Lean turkey & chicken breast
· Possibly a couple cans of tuna and maybe some frozen fish filets (as long as they’re not from the Pacific)
· Olive oil, red wine vinegar, coconut oil

This tab won’t be cheap, but I'm over it. I figure what I pay in food costs I’m saving by working my butt out at home. No gym membership or fuel-burning vehicle necessary.

After this eventful shopping trip, I will make sure my workout area is clean (vacuumed) and then I will do the 25-minute stretch to get myself warmed up.

My 5-day fast track will go as follows:

Monday – cardio
Tuesday – speed
Wednesday – total body
Thursday – abs
Friday – lower & cardio
Saturday – off
Sunday – stretch

Then Alpha Week 1 officially begins Monday, February 10.

Wish me luck!

I feel like I should also mention that I have no set expectations for this program. I don't have any specific numbers in my head nor do I believe I will have rock hard abs once I complete the program. Strength and energy is what I want, and I simply need a routine that is reasonable (25 minutes is not hard to accomplish during nap or play time) and will make regular physical activity and healthy(er) eating a part of my daily life.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

It's about to get sappy

Sienna officially Loves orange foods with a capital L. Basically if it’s carrots, squash or sweet potato and it’s in puree form, she’ll hunt your spoon-holding hand down like a starving piranha. She’ll happily polish off an entire serving and then wash it all down with a nice bubba (bubba has always = bottle in my family). I always laugh to myself when I observe how much this girl truly enjoys being fed. I can only hope this willingness to eat what’s good continues as her taste buds grow along with the rest of her.

She stands straight up in her excersaucer and has even figured out how to spin the seat around to reach the toys that are directly behind her.

Poor girl is definitely teething, too. It’s been a little hellish for us all, and a not-so-subtle reminder that she is growing right before our eyes and the changes seemingly happen overnight. It knocks you off balance just a little bit. I feel like I'm racing to keep up. It’s a thing to marvel at, that’s for sure.

I realize that this very young human has at the very least a few years of innocence before the world slowly, surely starts to jade her. It’s inevitable. But I think I’m starting to understand that feeling that so many other parents find hard to articulate. Be patient and keep your eyes open. This is fleeting and if you don’t try your damndest to be in the moment you just might miss it.

Sometimes I feel that familiar anxious frustration creep up and sometimes it comes out in the form of an exasperated sigh, or cursing aloud. Then I look at her big curious blue eyes and realize that I truly need to watch my thoughts and my actions carefully, because she will be catching on.

And then all it takes is a big toothless grin and all out belly laugh… or her little head nuzzling into my shoulder when she gets sleepy… to make me forget how absolutely draining and amazingly challenging this thing called parenthood is. It's then and only then that I surrender the need to control everything and allow my daughter to teach me a thing or two about life.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Best Christmas (and New Year) Ever

There's nothing quite like going home for the holidays.

The Craig household has been looking forward to the 2013 holiday season since 2012. Not only would we have a new addition...

But we would be celebrating with family and friends in Massachusetts after being away for 15 months. Needless to say we were overly excited about this extended vacation full of good people, good food, lots of laughs, a few tears, and priceless memories.

Miss Sienna is the fifth generation on Evan's side, and we couldn't wait to capture this moment (despite the little one's expression). Check out great-great Nana Sally at 90 years young. That woman is ageless, and a feisty one to boot.

Sienna got to meet countless other great-great grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and not to mention she was reunited with her GG...

Seeing all of these wonderful people love on my girl had my heart overflowing. Family is by far the most important thing in my life. It comes before money, possessions, food... I mean, we ate like kings and queens while we were back home but we could have literally eaten cereal and turkey sandwiches every day and I would have been just as happy.

Evan and I managed to snap this one family photo in between the organized chaos of reconnecting with as many people as possible. I didn't take nearly as many photos as I thought I would... too busy living in the moment.

And just like that we were saying goodbye to 2013 and toasting to 2014. A year that is sure to be filled with even more love, family, and new adventures.

Then we were buried in nearly 2 feet of snow, extending our stay for a couple more days, allowing us to soak up just a little bit more time...

Then it was back on the road. Twenty-four total driving hours. My girl barely even fussed. She's a natural born traveler, just like her parents.