Currently Working on… (The Wedding Edition!)

Currently, I’m finishing up the wedding project I took on for a friend and I’m finally feeling less overwhelmed! It was a big project, and I doubted whether or not I could finish, but my optimism and perseverance won out in the end. The project I’m speaking about happens to be the flowers for this friend’s wedding. I wouldn’t normally undertake such a huge endeavor, but this is a close friend. If you know me, you know I’d do anything for my close friends! Bonus fact, this friend also happens to be marrying my husband’s best man!

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Not the actual bouquets, just a bunch of flowers I finished thrown together. I can’t wait to construct the actual bouquets!

Kristina was one of my lovely bridesmaids, and Cody was Daniel’s best man. It’s so neat to look back on pictures of them at our wedding, being such a cute couple.

I’m so glad to be friends with these two, and I’m so excited for their upcoming wedding! While I’ve been working on flowers, I have been thinking about all of our history together, and laughing about the four of us.

#1: When I met Kristina, we talked only of books and it was on one of mine and Daniel’s first dates (we went with friends to a choral concert). Now it’s ironic since I’m making her wedding flowers out of book pages!

#2: After meeting Kristina the first time, I kept feeling a tug on my heart to really get to know her. So, I put it all out there on a post it note, saying something like, “Hey, I loved meeting you. Let’s hang out sometime, here’s my number!” and then dropped it off at her work with her coworkers (who were laughing at me). To this day, I’m appalled that I did that, but I guess that’s how you know it’s the Holy Spirit moving in you… If it doesn’t feel like you AT ALL.

#3: After that, we DID go on our “date” and got pasta. I talked and talked and put it all out there again, and she did the same. From then on, we became the kind of friends that are just completely honest with each other. I do something stupid, she tells me. She does something silly, I laugh.

#4: Cody and Kristina began dating at the same time that Daniel and I did and people finally stopped asking Kristina and Daniel if they were dating (they were in the same college classes together).

#5: The four of us speak at least half of our conversations in FRIENDS quotes, as we all watched the sitcom together and separate, endlessly. There’s a lot of laughter when we’re together.

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Daniel and Cody

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Bonus fun fact: I was pregnant with Eliot and had found out two days prior to this photograph! Hi little teeny tiny Eliot!

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40 something roses to make and the petals of 40 something roses to curl!

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Those two on the left are curled, all the rest have to be opened and curled!

I’m almost finished and I can’t wait to see how they come out. Not to mention the beautiful wedding that’s coming up!

A Chapter in the Life (Ch. 19)

It’s been two months since a Chapter in the Life! I don’t think I’m as diligent to update since Eliot has been born… Mainly because Eliot is quite a little nuisance when it comes to blogging and I would rather spend time playing with him and enjoying his antics than trying to hack out an update for the sake of updating and not enjoying what I’m actually trying to write about in these posts. Blogging is supposed to be a fun outlet for me, and not a job that makes me resent anything that interrupts the work. But also because life with a baby is not as interesting to read about (except to the mommy of said baby) in a newsy kind of post. Now that I’ve been long-winded about the lack of updates, I’m ready to update, with an extra ten little fingers to help.

Family News

Last time I updated, I spoke about the lack of schedule around here… And then I found a schedule! And then the holidays came around and blasted my schedule to space and then a galaxy far, far away (whilst watching Star Wars). We haven’t managed to get the schedule back yet, but as Eliot changes and grows, I think that’s normal. I’m determined to get a good nighttime routine in hand for him though.

Here are some Eliot updates!

Movement: This little guy has decided to skip sitting and go straight to crawling and standing and by six months, was able to crawl all the way across the room.

Teeth and Talk: He has also presented us with one tiny little razor tooth that budded after screams and biting galore. He’s much happier now that he has it and has been figuring out how to make noises with his new mouth all over again. He’s learned to say “Dada” and “Mama” although I’m sure it’s mostly just babbling. He also tries really hard to say “ggggggg” when we ecstatically say “GOOD MORNING” to him any time he wakes up. It’s really amazing to see how he’s learning to mimic what we do, and it’s a sobering thought for us as parents. We’ve officially become role models and I’m not sure how I feel about that…

Sleep: Daniel got to babysit him for the second time alone while I went to the big mother’s group that meets once a month, and Eliot decided that he was upset at being left home. But Daniel did a fantastic job, and endured the screaming like a champ and even managed to get him to go to sleep! Actually, where sleep is concerned, Daniel is a pro at getting him to go to sleep. Eliot fights me and fights me and after half an hour of no success, I pass him off to Daniel and within five minutes, Eliot has calmed down and conked out. I’ve gotten to slow down and have a nice glass of wine during those few minutes and Daniel has been able to use that time to have some father/son bonding time, which works well for all!

 

Food: Eliot now knows what food is and gets extremely upset if he sees me or Daniel eating or drinking without him. We usually just give him a little bit off of our plate to taste. Lots of fruits, brown rice, potatoes, yogurt, and even some of my smoothie! I never intended to do baby led weaning, but I suppose that is what I’m doing. I have intentions of making some purees for him soon, though. Even through all that, he is still extremely breastfed and doesn’t show signs of quitting any time soon!

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The look he gives us when we eat without him.

 

Mood: He’s really a happy little boy, except if he is tired or in pain from teething. However, he is hitting the separation anxiety stage and looks for me if I’m not a few feet away from him. If I leave the room, he cries until somebody is able to distract him. As far as personality goes, this little guy has this game he plays with us that he’s been doing since about four and a half months. He bends down while we hold him standing on our laps, and then we say, “Wheeeeeere’s Eliot?” to which he pops back up with a huge smile and we say, “There he is!” and then we usually get a laugh from him. He does it over and over and it’s so adorable that we cannot help but be entranced.

And it wouldn’t be a life update if I didn’t include…

The parent updates:

Movement: Well, mostly we exercise by chasing Eliot away from the fireplace, cords, and the dog’s sharp nails, of which he is enthralled. But I also started running with the “Ease into 5k” app and enjoyed a night of sore muscles for my effort. The app is cool though!

Teeth and Talk: Um… Well, mainly our teeth hurt from the truckloads of holiday treats we’ve accumulated and eaten and then we talk about how fat we feel from the binging. I really have to stop eating so much sugar… It’s so bad for me and it’s making my health decline. See, there’s that talk…

Sleep: We have a baby in grad school, so this topic of conversation is pointless. 😉

Food: Coffee. Endless amounts of coffee. But I just learned how to make beans, so win for adulthood, I guess?

Mood: Happy and content after a nice vacation to Arkansas for our anniversary! I got to see mountains.

We also visited some hot springs. It was cold and I really wanted to jump in.

Before we went on our lovely anniversary trip, we got to spend lots of time with my family over the holidays and Eliot got to meet all of his cousins! The babies attempted to eat each other and Eliot was overwhelmed by attention. He also got a jumparoo from Grandma but had to leave it there because we didn’t have the car space to bring it home. Hopefully we’ll be able to get it here before he outgrows it!

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Eliot and cousin Eloise having a baby standoff. They’re two weeks apart!

He also got to spend some quality time with his Aunt Heather, who tried on multiple occasions to steal him away. He really takes to his Auntie.

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Becoming a Better Reader

I posted my book list for the year, which seems manageable to me, and I’ve been keeping up with it! This book caught my eye at the book store toward the beginning of the holidays, and fortunately, being used and a little dated, I got it for a great price.

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So when Daniel gives me some recharge time, I enjoy a cup of something hot, a bath, and some luxury reading. The book is giving me a lot of insight and reflection on the mysteries of the rosary, and I’m immensely enjoying it.

DIY

I’ve been working hard on one of the projects I agreed to do and it’s going well so far! I have half left to finish this week and then I have to construct the bouquets, but at least the flower making is going well. I made coffee filter roses for my wedding and now one my dear friends is asking for book page roses for her wedding, and I’m really excited to see them in action! Book pages are stiffer than coffee filters, though, so it’s a bit tough to keep the petals from ripping. Daniel has been dutifully herding our baby while I work and keeping him from harm. I really think he needs a shepherds staff… That would make his job easier.

Thanks for reading today! Hope you all are having a great day, and peace be with you all.

Just Another Book List

I’ve been terrible, since reaching adulthood, about getting books read. I love finishing a book and diving into stories, reflections, and wordy goodness, but I just get way too distracted these days. Between Netflix, my phone and its many enticing apps, and now a clingy, curious baby, I just can’t seem to get past the first few chapters.

However, not even trying is just giving up before I’ve even begun. So I thought I would jot down some books that I want to read and hopefully 2016 will help me along. Maybe you guys could help! You know, nag me whenever you see me or speak to me, and tell me I can do it! Distracted Book Lovers Anonymous should be a thing.

Memoirs:

My Life in France by Julia ChildThis book is quite different than the books I typically read, but it looked so interesting and came with a trustworthy recommendation from a friend. On New Years Eve, Daniel and I went to a book white elephant party, and this is the one I got to take home with me!

Devotionals/Spiritual Reads:

The Rosary: “The Little Summa” by Robert Feeney – I bought an older edition at Half Price so it’s a bit dated, but so far it’s FANTASTIC! It’s very readable and has already been helping me where the Rosary is concerned. 

Walking with Purpose by Lisa BreninkmeyerThis is the one I started for the mother’s group that I’m a part of and so far, it’s been extremely helpful and easy to read! It’s nice to know I’ll finish this one for sure, since I’m reading it with a bunch of other moms and discussing it.

A Mother’s Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul by Holly PierlotThis is one that a close friend of our family gave to us in a bag of books and cds from her home library. They all look like pretty scrumptious reads, but this one jumped out at me first. 

Fiction:

Dust by Hugh HoweyLast year, Daniel and I read Wool and Shift, two other books in the Silo saga, and LOVED them. Deep down, I’m still the nerd that was raised with a bunch of brothers and boy cousins, and so sci-fi is still my thing. These books are full of mystery, creepiness, good characters, and an interesting world, not too difficult to imagine! Daniel and I first began reading Wool to each other but when our voices started getting hoarse (or I started getting contractions from reading aloud–so many false labor contractions), we switched to an audio book on Audible. 

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss – I need to finish this one from last year as I started it shortly after Eliot was born. I’ve been reading it to him during his nursing and enjoying the story again! My parents read this to us as kids, and I remember loving it then, but what is striking me about it this time around is just how perfect of a book this is for boys! It’s all about survival, ingenuity, adaptability, creativity, and the outdoors, and I just love how the family always remembers to gather for prayer and thanks throughout the book! 

 

Six Books to finish in 2016… That doesn’t seem too bad! But honestly, I can start sixty books, it’s just the finishing of them that causes me to fail, so maybe starting small is a good idea. Are you a sporadic reader too? What books are you tackling in 2016?

Four Years after “I Do”

Because I tend to be quite a sap about everything, I get really sentimental on the blog around our anniversary. This year, I had a lot of fun asking the most interesting man alive to undergo an obnoxious interview, and much to my delight, he said yes! I hope you enjoy this fun post and learning all sorts of embarrassing things about the two of us, in honor of our 4th anniversary.

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Hanna–err–interviewer: Who are you?

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Daniel: I’m Daniel. I am a pianist and music educator. I’m 24, a Roman Catholic and married to a lovely lady named Hannah. We reside in North Texas with our son. Other than that…cigars, death metal, cheeseburgers, formula racing, movies, that’s pretty much all there is to me. I talk to much (clearly).

Interviewer: Your interests are quite…manly. You wouldn’t happen to also secretly enjoy shopping with girls and get weirdly frustrated when people touch your hair?

Daniel: Ok, ok you got me. I do enjoy shopping for clothes, (although less now with a baby, lame I know). Despite all the manly stuff below, I have been told that I can be quite girly. I can’t stand hyper-masculinity, and I am completely comfortable with enjoying shoes, hair products or anything like that. Men in my line of work generally avoid the “manly man” persona and I guess I fit in pretty well with that. I also don’t really feel a topical disconnect with my female friends over things like clothes, hair, emotions, chocolate, etc.  My wife compares me to Schmitt from the series “New Girl,” when I text her things like “this stupid football traffic is going to make me late to the symphony!”

I don’t know if my hair being touched freaks me out. Nobody has gotten close enough yet.

Interviewer: As an objective third party, your wife sounds like a pretty wise and exceptionally funny lady… Let’s talk about her. What’s the most annoying thing about her, as stated by her husband?

Daniel: She is indeed pretty, wise and pretty wise. Second to her tendency to self-aggrandize in emails, I’d say her most annoying trait is her tickling. She basically uses tickling as the nuclear option during conflict. Because she is not ticklish, I have yet to devise a counter-strategy.

Ok, I’ll seriously answer the question. What often annoys me about my wife is what I perceive as naivety. I will get irritated because she is overly compassionate on people to the point that they can take advantage of her. She will go out on a very thin limb to imagine a positive motivation behind behavior that anyone else sees clearly as negative. Over the years though, I’ve realized that I am often proof that her outlook holds some weight. I’ve been in need of her absurdly excessive patience enough times to finally get some humility about it.

I don’t know if it’s what she would list first, but one of my annoying traits is quite the opposite. I can be pretty pessimistic about people and I might stray into an overly-cautious view of the world. This is one of my biggest susceptibilities to vice. What I’ve learned is that the things that irritate me about my wife are often irritating because they represent something I lack. I think she’d agree that it goes both ways. One of the biggest areas of growth in our marriage has been learning to see annoying things as strengths in our marriage, especially when they act as checks and balances. Frankly, I’m too much of a bitter cuss some times, and Hannah can occasionally put her head in the clouds about the antagonistic realities of living in the real world. But together, we can strike a pretty even balance of those outlooks that really gets things done. We both benefit from that overtime. I’m a lot brighter than I used to be, and Hannah has a very even head on her shoulders. Having a balance worked out like that will hopefully benefit our children in terms of forming their worldview.

The hard part is to stop fighting against those things we lack and start seeing the value in things we may not like in each other. We hope to really learn to rejoice in our differences because they are often the things that pull us in and help us become one flesh. I think that conflict and personality clashes can really be turned into fuel for your family, if you are willing to advocate for each other. I’m not there yet, but I see us moving along that path and the fruits are awesome. I see couples sometimes that are really putting a lot of effort into sending the message that they are perfectly compatible and everything about them just works perfectly. I’d like to sincerely be happy for those people, but I really think that’s based on dishonesty most of the time. What do you know, there’s that pessimism I’ve been talking about….

Interviewer: Interesting. Tickling…Maybe she just tickles your feet because they need to be exfoliated. But let’s address the rest of your statements.

Hmmm, she’s naive, you’re pessimistic, it sounds like you guys could easily fit into the lives of the way too excited Boy Scout “Russel” and the angry old adventurer “Carl” from pixar’s Up. I hear from reliable sources that you two may even have a dog that acts eerily like “Dug.”

Have you heard the joke about being born a pessimist?

Daniel: I have not! Tell me!

Interviewer: “I was born pessimist…my blood is B negative.” I once had a doctor who told really terrible 4 year old jokes, and he told me that.

Anyway, while we are on the subject, what’s the funniest thing you’ve seen your wife do?

Daniel: Deliberately, she hid in a very deep couch and scared my father one time. We had all gone on vacation and had just arrived in a condo. My dads a pretty dry guy, but Hannah and him have a pretty good relationship with quirky humor. While my dad was bringing in the last suitcase, Hannah noticed how deep the couch was and hid in behind the cushions. At her suggestion, I lured him over by saying I thought the frame was broken. Being the fix-it-all kind of guy he is, he leaned in real close for a look, which is when Hannah started moving. Hilarious results.

Non deliberately, she once jumped out of bed and ran excitedly for the kitchen one morning in our first apartment. I’m sure she was running for coffee or a donut or something, as she gets super excited for breakfast. Anyway, we had a place where the wood floor had bowed up, and she kind of hit it and went down. And then she slid. Oh how she slid. She slid from our room into the kitchen and only stopped when hitting the wall. In her underwear. I though she might have really broken her tailbone, but she started laughing like a loon.

Interviewer: Sliding across the floor…in her undies…totally not embarrassing. Just awesome. Although I do apologize for any audiences that might take offense by the mention of undergarments.

This seems like the perfect moment to steer us in another direction. I like to call this “rapid fire reality time.” I’m going to ask some questions that you have to answer within the first 60 seconds of reading them. No cheating.

What superpower would you choose in this day and age, and why?

Daniel: Invisibility. You could do a lot with that these days, like steal money which you could use to compensate for lacking other powers.

Interviewer: Where in time would you go in a time machine?

Daniel: If I wasn’t too scared, I’d go back to Renaissance/counter-reformation Italy or Europe in the 19th century, just to check out all the stuff that was happening. I’d also be tempted to go back to highschool and make a bit less of an ass of myself.

Interviewer: Are you a hunter or gatherer?

Daniel: Hunter. Although I tend to get distracted by picking flowers. Cause I’m a mans man.

Interviewer: What would your patronus be?

Daniel: I think it would be a wolf or a lion, or maybe a big, stupid dog. Like, the kind of dog that tries to bite passing cars to impress you and is stronger get than it is intelligent. My patronus would run right at the dementers and fall for n its face halfway there.

Interviewer: I really agree about the scary slobbery dog… I could see that. That was fun. Let’s go back to real questions.

So what is your all time favorite thing to do to relax?

Daniel: I relax all the usual ways: TV, movies, video games, a good book etc. I really enjoy a good cigar.
My favorite way to relax though is actually driving. I like to drive new places in the country with my family. Interstate driving by myself is also super relaxing for me. With loud music. And jerky.

Interviewer: I hear there’s going to be a surprise road trip with interstate driving soon, although with a baby along, it might be different than loud music and jerky… Screaming and breastmilk, perhaps? Lol

Let’s wrap up with one final question. What is your absolute favorite thing about your marriage?

Daniel: Nobody said those were mutually exclusive.

We always get better. I mean that in two senses: the good times always help us grow, and we always come out of the bad times.

Cultivate (2016 Word of the Year)

I don’t usually do New Year’s resolutions, but after the gift giving season and during Christmastide, some resolutions just kept haunting me. Rather than a post chock-full of them, I decided to do a word of the year resolution with aim to satisfy this particular need over the next twelve months. Maybe you will join me and the countless other bloggers in this kind of New Year’s one word blog posting?

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been a creator of things. Some good, some really bad, but none spectacular. A “jack of all trades” is how it has been described to me. Basically, I do a lot of different things all right, but I have honed my skills in on nothing in particular. I do nothing perfectly. In fact, “perfectionist” would be the last word I would ever use to describe myself. People have always known me as crafty, artsy, and dreamy. I’m glad to be who I am, and I’m okay with the fact that I’m into way too many things. I have fun that way. But somewhere along the line, I lost my ability to be inspired in my artistic side. I think I kind of lost myself a little bit through the loss of inspiration.

What I have realized is that the expectation for me to “create” has prohibited me from being able to create anything guilt-free in a long time (with a couple of exceptions). I’ve been so overrun with guilt about anything I create because I can’t do it fast enough, or thoughtful enough, or personalized enough to keep up with “demand.” Isn’t that silly?

I think that because I have always been “artsy Hannah,” there has been an expectation that I would use that creative side for anything and everything except to just simply create. Anniversaries came around, birthdays came around, holidays came around, and I undertook projects that were just much too ambitious, and then I didn’t finish them on time, so I became plagued by guilt. After giving handmade gifts that I was happy to see someone receive, it would always feel like the bar had been raised and so the next gift must be greater and MORE thoughtful. It was never just giving selflessly and meaningfully because I just felt like a sweatshop!

Part of the reason for that cycle was that I was always designing something with the person in mind, rather than letting inspiration strike. I truly believe that God is the author of inspiration, and since I was too busy being a busybody to be open to his inspiration, how was I supposed to be inspired? Here I am, years later, finally realizing that I need to stop being a Martha (my true saint of confirmation) in my creativity.

When I was reflecting on the gifts I’ve been given, I stumbled into the realization that the reason I don’t do any one specific thing passionately is that my gift or talent is NOT that gift! My gift is that I have a hunger for knowledge! I want to know how to do things, and I want to do those things as an offering. Not an offering to people (you know, so that they like me) but an offering back to God. I haven’t been able to use my gift of late because I’ve just been squandering it by my desire to sate the appetites of the people of whom I want to love me.

It’s always a good thing to give somebody a gift, but the manner in which you give it defines whether or not it’s really a gift. I am not really sure if I’ve been giving very many gifts lately…

I did mention that there were some exceptions to my creativity. Exceptions that were truly inspired. Exceptions that came from my heart. Exceptions that were open to God. Specifically, these exceptions come in the art format.

When Eliot was a few weeks old, he took many naps (can I laugh here, out of exhaustion?). I found myself with time and inspiration to capture his beautiful sleeping expressions and practice drawing. It was the one creative thing I had done in years that didn’t stress me out while doing it! There was no guilt to it, and it wasn’t to please anybody. It was simply drawing.

That first drawing that I finished was out on the floor when Daniel came home from school. It wasn’t really all that special to me, but it was fun to do, and a good meditation on the special blessing that a child brings to a family. Upon seeing it, Daniel exclaimed and begged to have it for his studio one day. I was embarrassed, but flattered, and promised him that he could have it if he really wanted it.

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Apparently, the little drawing that came about through spontaneous inspiration was a treasure to someone close to me, and I did NOT set out to make it so! I didn’t set out to make Daniel like me, or flatter me… I set out to just be inspired and practice a hobby… Somehow, through my lack of planning, God blessed someone else. I think my plans are getting in the way of truly blessing people because of my selfish desire to get on somebody’s nice list.

After a lot of thought, I have decided that 2016 is the year that I will not set out. I will not set out to make people like me. I will not set out to make the gifts that I give. I will not set out to meet expectations.

Instead, 2016 will be the year that I “cultivate.” I want to spend this year growing in knowledge and inspiration, and I want to be open to whatever God might have for me where my creative life is concerned. I want to cultivate certain hobbies and skills and I just want to be an artist in all the ways that might entail. When inspiration strikes, I don’t want a list that is a mile long of projects I need to work on, finish up, or start before I can satisfy the urge to be an artist.

Right now, I have two projects that I have to finish up because I committed to doing them for some people and I do not want to go back on my word, but then I’m closing up shop for all holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, second breakfasts, brunches, elevenses, and lunches. Not that I won’t give homemade gifts at all this year, because I still might. But just that those gifts won’t be preconceived. They’ll simply just be inspiration, both in creation and in gifting. And above all, it will be for God and not to gain affection from people!

Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, Colossians 3:23

P.S. Who else has to stop midway through typing a post to nurse a wee squalling babe? I gotta figure out how to do it at the same time… #mombloggerproblems