Monday, November 28, 2011

A few firsts and some cuteness

This long weekend was full of first . . . Jude's first Thanksgiving, Sophia's first snowman, and (shame on us!) our first photo of our entire family of four!

Somehow we hadn't managed to have a picture taken of all of us in the entire first four months of Jude's life. I think it's one of those second child "things." Time goes by so fast, and either John or I was always taking the picture . . . and then it was Thanksgiving and we finally got someone else to take it for us.


As for the snowman . . . Sophia only started walking on January 1, 2011, so her one outside experience in the snow last year involved sitting on her bum in the snow. She was not a fan. But now? John has to bribe her with hot chocolate to get her inside . . . good thing we have lots of Ovaltine at our house!



Mittens do not stay on long when building a snowman . . .
have to take them off to collect rocks . . . er, I mean buttons!


She's a good sport . . . falls down and bounces right back up!



Sophia has a little brother, her "little buddy" Jude, but she also has her own little baby, whose name happens to be Jude as well. The other day, Jude needed to eat.



Personally, I love the thumb in the mouth while feeding baby doll Jude.

And now, we wrap up with some four month old cuteness . . .



Finally, a reminder . . . become a follower of my blog and you will be entered in my December 1st drawing for a jar of homemade strawberry jam! And if you get someone else to follow, not only will they get an entry, but you will get a second one! Just shoot me an e-mail or comment to let me know that you deserve credit . . . happy Monday!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The search for a running partner

When I started running in college and joined the cross-country team, I got used to running with people. Running was as much a social activity as it was a way to stay fit. I never ran out of running partners, and remember those years so very fondly, in large part because of the amazing friends I made thru running and still have today.

Don't think I was fast just because I was on the team . . . I've gotten much faster after college than I was during. God bless Coach Kurtz for letting me be part of the team!

Post-college was a bit of a shock in many ways. Starting out in the real world . . . real job, real bills . . . real breakup even. But the change that has affected me the most? The immediate loss of all my running partners.

It didn't matter how fast or slow you were, we ran together. Of course the faster runners did some of the runs at a different pace, but I still remember the LONG runs of 8+ miles that I did with Elizabeth, one of the very fastest girls. Her 5K time was many minutes faster than mine, but she never made me feel like a lesser part of the team. None of the others did. We were a team.

When you learn to run in a group environment, and are lucky enough to run with that "pack" for four years, it is a major adjustment to run by yourself. No more talking or singing (still can't figure out how I was in good enough shape to sing while running . . . ), just many solitary miles.

But at some point I started running with my co-worker Amanda. We couldn't have been more different individuals (hello, she had a motorcycle!), but were perfect running buddies. We ran at exactly the same pace, did the same distances, liked the same kind of speed workouts, and lived in close proximity to each other. Even better, neither of us would get offended if the other just wanted to shut up and run, or got annoyed because we needed to talk something out the whole time. It was a match made in heaven. We even trained for my one marathon together!

Then I got married. And somehow things changed. I lived 25 minutes away in Biddeford and was working all nights, and we drifted apart. She changed jobs, I changed jobs . . . and now for the last five years I have been running solo.

But once in a while I get the chance to run with a friend, and that little bit of time gives me a glimpse back to the golden years of running with others. It doesn't matter to me how fast or slow someone is, I relish the opportunity to interact while running . . . to be able to forget that I am putting forth effort and just enjoy the fresh air. To see my old worn running routes with new eyes, or discover new territory together.

I run because it keeps me fit, both mentally and physically. When I can't run I crave it. But in the back of my mind, every time I run, I look forward to the time that I find that perfect running partner again. Only another runner can understand it completely, but the communion of souls that you find while running together is different from any other friendship . . . and every time I do get the chance to run with someone else I am reminded of that, and relish every moment.

This post is dedicated to Helene, Laura, and Janeen . . . my longest lasting running partners . . . can't wait until the next time, ladies! Hi-O!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fun times!

I can picture the scene . . . it's a rainy afternoon and mother and daughter are in the living room, sitting on the floor together, playing blissfully with a favorite toy . . . baby son looking on from his bouncy seat, gurgling happily . . . then the activity moves into the kitchen . . . time to make chocolate chip cookies! Flour flies everywhere and no one cares . . . lots of laughter . . .

And I can tell you, that's not me! I am a Type A mom on a mission, and it seems that there is always something that needs doing. One project or another needs my attention, so I am often splitting myself between watching the kiddos, making dinner, folding laundry, and sewing something or other.

But I do want to be the cool mom. I want our house to be THE destination, where everyone wants to come after school because there's always a full cookie jar. Not the house that everyone avoids because "their mom is crazy . . . she's super uptight!"

So once in a while I try a little harder to be that mom. I bake with Sophia in matching aprons and ignore the mess that I'll have to clean up later. I sit down on the floor while we build the tallest tower we can. I hold Jude and talk to him for a few minutes instead of folding laundry. I know it is important to have those times, but always niggling the back of my mind is my to-do list, so they don't happen as often as I would like them too.

Yesterday was one of those afternoons. Sophia woke up on the wrong side of the bed from her nap, but instead of having a terrible tear-filled afternoon, we had fun! Out came the $5 canvas from Big Lots, along with the finger paints the Snuggler got for her birthday. An hour later we had a painted canvas, and a painted Sophia . . . and smiles! We emptied those tubes of paint, man, and no one ever had more fun doing so.

Then it was up to the tub for the bubbliest bubble bath ever, and by the time that was done it was time for dinner. Time really does fly when you're having fun! I think it was a gift to both of us, to really enjoy each other's company. Of course, poor little Jude is just an observer for now, but soon enough he'll be in on the fun, too.



















And of course, don't forget to become a follower of my blog so that you can be automatically entered to win a jar of homemade strawberry jam on December 1st!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sleep, please!

We made it!

When Sophia was a baby, I thought we'd been thru the worst that a baby can put you thru. She screamed for a large portion of the day and night for no apparent reason, and would not be soothed no matter what we did. We tried the swing, bouncing, rocking, Moby wrap, driving, and anything else we could think of. Relief came when she finally peaked in colicky-ness at 6 weeks and then tapered down to being a normal baby by three months. At that point she was so chill she even started sleeping completely thru the night (until her GI issues started, but that is a whole 'nother post!).

Jude is a very different baby. I am grateful that he was soothable, even if it meant wearing him in the Moby all day. But now he is almost four months, and still waking three times a night . . . tired mama, people!

Yesterday he turned 16 weeks. For those that subscribe to the methods of Dr. Weissbluth ("Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child," best sleep book EVER), that is the magic age at which you can make progress sleep-training your previously colicky child. After consulting with several other friends who are also Weissbluth "disciples," I decided to make Jude cry out his first wake-up.

I felt a little bit bad about it, mostly because I think I created that first wake-up. John and I have been sleeping on the pullout couch for the past few weeks, and that helped Jude move quickly from five or six times up a night to two. Then a week or so ago I headed up to feed Jude when I heard him wake, not realizing until halfway thru the feed that it was only 10 p.m. Whoops. Since then he has been waking between 9 - 10:30 after going to bed only a few hours before.

So last night was it. I was armed with Ben & Jerry's "Chubby Hubby," and the new Jane Eyre movie. And sure enough, at 9:15 the little guy started up. Half an hour into it I decided it was time to get ready for bed. I was very tempted to go in, but I could see "Healthy Sleep Habits" sitting on the toilet tank as I brushed my teeth, and couldn't disobey Dr. Weissbluth with the book right there.

Back down to bed. I stared at the ceiling with the lights off and prayed that he would stop crying. PLEASE.

It's torture listening to your kid scream their bloody lungs out, but you have to keep reminding yourself that it is for their own good. And just after 10 p.m., he finally settled. After a total of 50 minutes, he was quiet. We both went to sleep, and when he awoke again at 1:15, I felt better rested than I had in many nights and headed right in to him.

Jude still woke up again at 4:30, but I can handle two wake-ups a night. It was the third that tipped me over the edge, and I am hoping that a couple more nights will be all it takes to erase that one.


Just a reminder, December 1st is right around the corner! Become a follower of my blog and I will enter you in a drawing for a jar of homemade strawberry jam. Someone will be enjoying jammed toast, muffins, and biscuits come December . . . although I will only be providing the jam, you need to do the baking!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

An "inspired" Quiet Room!

For several years, my mom and I have tossed around the idea of starting a home decorating business. Decorating is something we both love to do, and what we love even more than transforming our own homes is to help someone else work out their decorating kinks. But going into business with family?


I think that was the holdup for both of us. Did we really want to put up with each other's quirks?

Well, after having my mom living in our house for four weeks before, during, and after Jude was born, the answer is "yes." We work well together, and are close enough to tell each other our real opinion . . . if they differ we let each other know, and then work it out.

Coinciding with our decision to go ahead with our decorating business was an opportunity for me to makeover the current "Infant Crying Room" at church. My proposal was approved in mid-October and I picked up the church credit card and went to town! My right-hand man for the redesign? Mom!

I had taken a survey a few months earlier, and the general consensus was that people wanted a restful calm environment, with a preferred color palette of blues and greens . . . and maybe a little bit of an ocean element.

The before . . .


The current crying room was not very functional, with only two chairs, both of which were not very user friendly for nursing an infant.

Priority #1, good seating area that met the needs of nursing mothers. This was to include privacy for those that desire it in a room that is the walk-thru to the sound booth.


Priority #2 was to lighten the space up overall. There is a LOT of dark trim in the room that could not be painted, but the amount of contrast going on was not restful.

Priority #3 was light and sound control. The only light source in the room was an ancient ceiling light, and while there was a speaker for listening to the service, there was no volume control.

After spending a few weeks ordering products online, maxing out my resources in Auburn and South Portland, and sewing up a storm, today was the day! A great bunch of folks volunteered to come bring all the bits and pieces from my house to the church, put the furniture all together, and move it all into the room. Below you can see the final results . . .



Priority #1, a seating area with privacy! The new wooden changing table is not seen here, but is directly to my left from where I took the picture. Moving that made room for a seating area with a privacy screen on a wire that can be pulled across to close off the back two chairs.

The paint colors weren't a big change as it is still blue walls with white wainscotting, but it was freshened up with Benjamin Moore "Bali" on the walls and one shade lighter carried up onto the ceiling. The change to white wainscotting instead of ivory really brightened the room up. Also, the flat paint doesn't show the imperfections as the glossy did previously.

New to the room was a white ceiling fan and light combo (adjustable by remote control), as well as floor and table lamps. As for the sound, a volume dial was hooked up to the current speaker . . . Priority #3, check!


I purchased the fabric for the curtains from the Fabric Warehouse before I did anything else . . . I loved the stripe, and how well it worked with any color scheme. And Waverly fabric on sale for $4.98 a yard? Can't beat that deal!!!

I found the fabric for the pillows at the same store a week ago, and had to get it. It gives the pillows a custom look, but the total cost for all the fabric, lining, and thread was less than $100. Fabric panels from the local box store would have cost more, and would not have had the unique look.

I think my favorite thing about the window treatments is how painting the cornice box and hanging sheers along with the drapes completely minimizes the dark wood trim. Priority #2 addressed!



The sand dollar art was my nod to the ocean. The lines cut in the frames ($3 apiece at Christmas Tree Shop) mimic the lines of the wainscotting, and the green background repeats the green in the curtain stripe and rug. All I had to do was paint the glass green with paint I already had, and hot glue the sand dollars on . . . which I also already had!


Another piece that I found for the room was this mirror. When I found it at Home Goods, the finish was rustic wood, but a $3 can of spray paint worked it right into the decor. My favorite thing about it? The trim is made up of carved letters and numbers! A bit of whimsy for an infant room.


When the room was all put together and everyone else had gone home, I sat in the chair on the right, pulled the privacy screen across (I know, everyone was gone but I wanted to test it out!), and nursed Jude. We sat and relaxed for half an hour before going home, and let me tell you . . . it was good!

Special thanks to my mom, the other half of Inspired Interiors, for her help and encouragement. We're a good team, Mom!

Want to hear more about our decor and staging business? Check out our website here.

Last but not least . . . become a follower of my blog and you will automatically be entered in my drawing for a jar of homemade strawberry jam, winner to be selected on December 1st!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Catching up

I finally downloaded a bunch of pictures from my camera yesterday, and can't resist sharing some here . . . October in the Libby house!


The leaf pile has been a favorite activity for John and Sophia. Every day that he is home from work and it's good weather, they are out there!


Sophia gets a running start . . .


. . . going all out . . . (of course her speed doesn't change the whole time she is running) . . .


. . . into the pile!!!




When I snapped this picture, I felt like I was seeing Sophia years down the road . . . she looks so old . . . maybe it's the hair.


The best way to wear underwear? Any way you can get them on . . . under clothes, over clothes, on your head will do.


Cuddle time with Grammy.


"Sophia, do not eat the crayons!" We're still working on that one.


Sophia loves to build a "nest" and cuddle with her bud. Or buddy. She calls him both.


We do the nest thing daily. Lots of pillows and blankets available from John and me sleeping in the living room!


Love the linked arms!


"Here, bud, you can have my other thumb."




"Help, Mama, I climbed up and now I'm stuck!"


My daughter, the fashion plate.


Hair arrangement 100% Sophia . . . what a stylin' kid!

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