WIP Wednesday update

At the beginning of May, I wrote about the amazing women I came to know during my time working for the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association. If you didn't get the chance to read it or need a refresher, you can find the post here. I said that I planned to write more about the issues these women have and continue to deal with and share information about violence against women, especially as it relates to women in prison.

There is a saying for those who work with survivors of intimate partner violence; "Nothing about her without her." With that in mind, I felt that before I moved forward, it was very important to personally reconnect with some of the women who are still incarcerated and learn from them what they feel needs to be said about this issue. They are the experts of their situations and while I certainly have my perspective on injustices they have experienced, it is definitely not the same as seeing it through their eyes.

I made an attempt to contact two of the women I worked with for several reasons. Personally, I just want to stay in touch with them and keep up with how they are doing. Also, knowing how much they love hearing about Addie and how she's growing, I wanted to give them some updates on her. My, there are so many! But perhaps the most important reason was that I wanted to let them know that I am here, with no agenda or ulterior motive, with no one paying me to help them, with only the hope that somehow my small voice can raise awareness about them and other women who are in similar situations.

I don't know if you have ever tried to correspond with someone who is in prison. Let me tell you, it is a pain in the ass. There are so many restrictions... what you can send, how you can send it, where specific things must be sent. There's also the knowledge that whatever you do send will be opened by some sort of prison official and read or at the very least looked through. It changes how you write things, it changes what you choose to send and quite frankly, it makes you feel vulnerable and in some ways violated.

A few weeks ago, I received this in the mail:

The very letters I sent out were returned to me letting me know that the women had been moved to another prison. It didn't say where and it didn't say how I could contact them at their new location. Thankfully, I have close enough ties to my former workplace that they were able to share that vital information with me. Who knew that the very small and simple luxury of mail forwarding is not something that you are afforded in prison?

My small packages have once again been sent out and I continue to play the waiting game. It pains me to think that an exchange which normally would have taken only a few weeks at most will end up taking months at this point. But rest assured, once I do hear back, I will be sure to let you know. This is most certainly a project in process. Slow but steady. Frustrating but not forgotten.

Getting ready for baby

When I was pregnant with Addie, we had a million things we needed to do to get ready for her arrival. We had multiple lists floating around--things we needed to purchase, classes we needed to take, books we were going to read, projects to be done around the house. With this pregnancy, lets just say we've taken a much more laid back approach in regard to preparation.

I'm due in 7 1/2 weeks and we have done next to nothing in what will eventually be this baby's nursery. I have yet to dig out Addie's old baby clothes to identify any gaps that must be filled for weather appropriateness. I don't have nearly enough cloth diapers for a tiny babe. There is still much to be done.

But there is one area that I made sure received its due attention: baby knits. Yes, a mom has got to have her priorities! I firmly believe that for me, the mommy gene and the crafty gene were about as close to one and the same as possible. I didn't start knitting until after Addie was born so she had not one baby item that was made by me. How in the world is that possible?

Well that is something special for this baby girl, our 2nd born. She will have Mommy hand knits. Oh yes she will! I have a few items on the horizon already. The needles required to get started just arrived so the frenzy is about to begin...

I just finished the proverbial newborn hat, made with

This delicious sock yarn will eventually become a pair of leg warmers and some kind of slouchy hat:

I have this super soft cotton that will be transformed into a tiny little end of summer sweater (found in Weekend Knitting):

And of course, I can't let Ms. Addie feel left out so I had to fit a project in for her as well (found in Family Knits):

Our newest bundle of joy may not have a room fully decorated, she may not have enough winter clothes and her tiny bum may see a Pamper or two, but she will be wrapped in love that was made just for her by Mommy. As far as I'm concerned, all those other things can wait.

Exciting news and a giveaway

Two months ago tomorrow, my baby sister and her husband began the adventure of their lives and moved to Picard, Dominica. I wrote about it quite a bit, as I was pretty devastated at the idea of them being so far away. My other sister and brother-in-law moved to Iowa last year and having the three of us so separated seemed like the end of the world.

Of course, us Ouellette girls have quite the flair for drama and it was in fact, not the end of the world. In order to calm our fears of growing disconnected during this time apart, we decided to start a blog just for the three of us. At the beginning of May we began writing to each other, sharing pictures, stories and snippets of our days using the most valuable tool we all can access: The Internet. (Thanks, Al Gore!)

In the weeks that followed we began to think that it might be a good idea to open up our project, rather than keep it all to ourselves. First of all for our families, so they can see some of the crazy things the three of us talk about with each other. Also, we hope that it may spark similar ideas for other people who are living apart from loved ones. I can honestly say that having this space has definitely made me feel more connected to the ladies I love the most. My only regret is that we didn't start it sooner.

So here is your open invitation to take a minute (or more) and check out our latest venture: Sisters Away. We are very excited to share this with you and can't wait to see how this space allows us to grow as sisters, women and friends.
See you there!

But wait, there's more...

While Emily was embarking on her big move to the Caribbean, Kate was buying and moving into her very first house. I was also going through some substantial changes, mainly in my midsection (yes... still pregnant).

Some time ago I fell in love with scrabble tile pendants from StudioKin, especially this one. Oh my goodness, I had to have it. For some reason I kept putting off buying it, but when the three of us girls were going through such stressful times all at once, I knew this was it.

I shared our story with Kelly and purchased three pendants, all with the same words, but in different colors to match our personalities. They arrived recently and I'm still in love. So simple, and the idea of knowing that all of us will wear these necklaces in our own little nooks of the world gives me such a sense of comfort.

The best part is that Kelly agreed to give one lucky Mommy Honesty reader a pendant of his or her choice in honor of the launch of Sisters Away.

Here's how you can enter:
  • Check out the StudioKin Etsy shop and leave a comment sharing which pendant is your fave.
  • For two entries, become a follower of Mommy Honesty (or let me know you're already a follower).
  • For a third entry, become a follower of Sisters Away.
  • And if you want to do a fourth (I know that is a lot--but you want to win, right?), blog about this giveaway or put up a link on Facebook.
**Please be sure to leave a separate comment on this post for each one.**

I will announce the winner on Monday, July 12th so you have plenty of time to enter and spread the word to all your closest friends. Thanks again, Kelly!!!

What Keeps Me Going

Fridays on this space are dedicated to sharing what keeps me going... A moment, a photo, an event or a memory that stands out against whatever might have gone wrong or felt dark in the last seven days.

I am sort of laughing to myself after reading my post from last Friday. Today, I feel the same exhaustion, but my perspective is completely different. Amazing what can happen in a week, huh? Instead of feeling like this growing fatigue is cheating me out of my "me time", now I'm in a place where it is just about survival.

Yesterday I don't know if I can say that I ever really woke up, hence my lack of posting. Did I make out with a teenager and contract mono? I feel like I would remember that if I did. Hmmm... I navigated my way through the morning fog just fine, and a good friend even came over with some yummies for lunch. After she left, I bottomed out and completely crashed.

Poor Addie woke up to a mommy that was really struggling. We have her "big girl bed" all set up in our living room so she can get used to it before we put her crib into the nursery. Thank God for that! She and I snuggled into her tiny twin bed and read books for the rest of the day. Well... she did most of the reading while I tried my hardest to stay awake.

And then my girl melted my soul. She laid down with her face right in front of mine and said, "Mommy sick?"

I smiled and replied, "Kind of. Mommy doesn't feel good."

She said, "I love you, Mommy" and gave me the best kiss in the universe. Then she grabbed two felt hearts from a bag that she carries around and stuffed them down my shirt, telling me, "Feel better, Mommy."

Oh. My. Goodness. How did this angel get to be so sweet? We kept on reading and I felt unbelievable gratitude that Addie is my daughter. She was so fantastic all afternoon... listened, followed directions, made a rough day as easy as possible.

Curt came home from work early and totally took the reigns so I could rest. Love him. Those two definitely have kept me going this week. The funny part of all this is that today, my free ride is over. Even as I type, my darling child is throwing a massive fit about having to take a nap. Aaahhh, the joys of motherhood. Isn't that what makes it all interesting, though? Those incredible swings of feeling like you have the most perfect child God ever created and then fearing that the devil snuck into your home through the air vents and inserted demons into your baby. But I wouldn't change a thing.

Enjoy your weekend and don't forget to stop back on Monday for a really fun announcement and my very first giveaway!

I would love it if you joined me in sharing what keeps you going! Leave a comment to let me know you're participating and each week, I will include a list of everyone who is playing along.

**A very special thanks to my dear friend Katie, my sisters Em and Kate (who can be found here and here), my honorary mother-in-law Mary, and my papa bear for dropping by and sharing their weekly inspiration. Love you all.**

A room with a view

Remember a few weeks ago when I shared pictures of our monster tiger lily? Scary, right? Well not anymore! We are finally reaping the benefits of the freaky gigantic stalk and it is oh so very gorgeous. Now, when I look out our bedroom window, this is what I see...

The picture is complete with the swing and bassinet for our baby just inside. My, what a view she would have if these beauties stuck around long enough.    

I braved the 105 heat index just long enough to grab a shot outside...

Conclusion: it was worth enduring the fear of being eaten alive while I slept. I guess nature knows what its doing after all.

Belated Father's Day reflections

Father's Day was a bitter sweet one for me, and quite eventful to say the least. We made a trip to Owensboro so Curt could spend the day with his dad and so Addie could see her Papaw. This plan had been in the works for a while and I prepared by making a pie, putting gifts together and gearing up for a lot of family time. Alas, the latter part was simply not in the cards for us.

Sunday we let Daddy sleep in while Addie and Papaw played and watched our girl's favorite movie and I worked on a bit of knitting. Then the guys opened their gifts and we got ready for brunch out with some more of the family at the infamous Moonlite. The food was good. Really good. And we were having a lovely time.

Then I had this overwhelming urge to get to the bathroom. Once I made it into a stall, I had this horrible feeling like I was going to pass out. I was dizzy, nauseous, tingling all over and felt like I heard all the noises in the room from the end of a tunnel. I was sweating, could hardly move and was certain that at any moment, I would hit the floor and be discovered with my panties around my ankles by frightened restaruant patrons, out to celebrate the day.

Thankfully, after what felt like about 10 minutes of trying to get my bearings, I started to feel somewhat normal again and got the heck out of there as fast as possible. We went back to the house immediately and I spent the afternoon lying in bed, directly in the aim of whirring fan. Daddy and Papaw had a blast with Addie in the pool and Curt took good care of me and checked on me often.

I called my mom in tears, upset that I had ruined Father's Day and couldn't give Curt the day I really wanted. She did her best Mom thing and assured me that I was actually giving Curt the gift of allowing him to be the Father and take care of me and his daughter in my belly. I suppose she was right. But it still wasn't at all what I had in mind.

Curt's cousin is a paramedic and very sweetly took my blood pressure before we headed home to make sure I was OK for the drive. We made it back and all was well. A call to my midwife's office on Monday morning left me with some new restrictions, but in the grand scheme of things, not much to fret over.

The funniest part of all is that later on that evening, Curt turned to me in bed and thanked me for an incredible Father's Day. Seriously? I was totally bummed that my little spell erased all hopes for a day together and felt like it took away from his fun. He said that as long as he knew I was OK and that he was able to spend some time with Addie, it was perfect.

That's the guy I married. That's my girls' daddy. Simple, laid back and always looking on the bright side. Oh, how we love him! 

And what would Father's Day be without honoring the other Dads in our lives... Curt's father who loves his Addie so much and who made Curt the man he is today. For that, I will forever be grateful.

Last, but absolutely not least, there's my dad. My papasita. Growing up I never considered myself a "daddy's girl" but I SO totally was. We all were and to some extent, still are. Dad, thank you for showing us what it means to take care of your family... For setting an incredible example of integrity, strength and compassion... For being all that you are. I love you and can't wait to give you your Father's Day hug in person.

On another note, I am due for a prenatal massage tonight and can't wait... I am looking forward to returning tomorrow with renewed body and spirit and hopefully no more crummy stories to share!

The post I never wrote

I always swore I would never write a blog post about having "one of those days". We all have them, we all know what they're about and you are probably not interested in every little thing that has irritated me since I woke up this morning. In fact, I had resolved not to write anything at all today. Then I talked to my sister who suggested I simply crank out a few sentences and let it go. Good advice. Oh, but then the real fun started...

Before I allowed my fingers to touch the keyboard, I was going to try and refresh myself--forget that this morning the nurse told me no more caffeine or sugar, erase the memory of cleaning pee off the couch again, catch up on reading some of my favorite blogs and come back to this space refreshed and with a renewed perspective... Then I started to hear thunder in the background. Nice, I love a good afternoon storm. I raised the shades to look outside and saw items blowing through our yard that I could swear I just put into the recycling container a few days ago. Hmmm... That's because I did.

I ran outside under the charcoal clouds that were looming and moving closer, but still not quite here. However, once I got into the backyard (seriously, about six seconds later) everything was already gone--blown away. I awkwardly schlepped my preggo booty over to rescue the trash bin, which had tipped over and put the lid back on the recycling. The tarp on my husband's lawn tractor was hanging on by a thread and while I was trying to secure the damn thing (with my cotton tent of a dress blowing every which way) I heard the loudest freakin' clap of thunder ever. OK, time to go back in.

With a few, alright--with many cursings under my breath, I tucked the tarp in as best I could and ran inside just as the rain started to come down. That was close.

Damaging winds, destructive hail, dangerous lightning... Is The Weather Channel describing the storm or my mood? Either way, it can't last forever. Even as I write these words, the winds are calming and the darkness above is lifting.

Of course, in the tradition of a "one of those days" posts that I will never write, there is the all-important component of ending on a happy note. A few sentiments to ensure that brighter moments are just around the corner and in the midst of chaos there is still much to be grateful for. Very true. For example, by some miracle sent straight from the heavens, my girl is still sleeping. As far as I can tell, no more trash or recycling escaped from our bins and whether or not that tarp blew away... I can honestly find happiness in either scenario.

And just in case it isn't all over, I can always rely one of these standbys to help get me through the rest... Try to look on the bright side. Tomorrow is another day. Every cloud has it's silver lining. It's always darkest before the dawn. It's just one of those days.... Yes, it is.

What Keeps Me Going

Fridays on this space are dedicated to sharing what keeps me going... A moment, a photo, an event or a memory that stands out against whatever might have gone wrong or felt dark in the last seven days.

This afternoon I think I might need toothpicks to prop my eyelids open. For some reason, all week I feel like I've been hit by a ton of bricks! Really, I haven't been this tired in months--I suppose the third trimester is to blame. All I remember about this time from my previous pregnancy is that I was ginormous and miserable and itchy. The exhaustion either faded into the background of the other discomforts or it's something new.

Either way, I have been a total slacker with keeping up my daily blog reading and getting things done around the house. In some ways I feel like I've had no choice, but today I am going to take the credit and say that I allowed myself to have a few breaks because two days this week I slept when Addie slept.

I have always treasured her nap time as peaceful moments that I get all to myself. I try and accomplish little things on my to-do list, enjoy a tasty lunch and soak in every second of my "break". I make a plan for what I can get done in about 2 1/2 hours and as soon as she's in her crib, I'm off!

This week has forced me to take a look at what life will most likely be like in about 9 weeks when that afternoon stretch of "me time" will undoubtedly disappear. I don't think I can fully grasp the concept of that reality, but for now, I suppose I don't need to. All I need to do is the best I can--listen to my body and do my best to comply with her wishes.

Because these last 9 weeks are still so very important. This little life inside me is getting so much bigger and stronger. She is working hard at getting ready to join us out in the world, in our arms. And I need to rest up so that my arms will be wide open to hold her, my heart split apart with love and energy so it can engulf her completely, my eyes wide so I can see the miracle of all that she is...

Yes, my afternoon naps and rest time absolutely kept me going amidst the exhaustion and the sharp kicks and jabs that are keeping me awake at night. Soon, I will achingly miss those movements in my tummy and long to remember exactly how it felt when my littlest little was shifting and growing within me. I will look at her and be overwhelmed with emotion and awe at how blessed we are and at this most precious gift God has given us... our family.

It's funny, when I put it that way, losing a little "me time" doesn't seem like a very big sacrifice after all.

I would love it if you joined me in sharing what keeps you going! Leave a comment to let me know you're participating and each week, I will include a list of everyone who is playing along.

**A very special thanks to my dear friend Jenn, my sister Em, and my papa bear for sharing some inspiration from your weeks. Love and hugs.**

A week of updates in pictures: My Belly

So many things are different about a second pregnancy. One thing is the complete lack of pictures we have of me and my growing belly throughout the past 7 1/2 months. When I was pregnant with Addie, it seemed like every week we couldn't help but take photos of my bump. If it looked just a bit different on any particular day, it was captured.

This time, not so much at all. Yes, this time around the novelty of tummy growth is not quite as exciting. In fact, the more I stick out, the more panicked we seem to become. How many more weeks do we have left? Oh my gosh... Are we seriously doing this? That conversation happens way more often than I'd like to admit. We are so very thrilled about our newest family member, but now we know perfectly well what we're getting into and it just feels more scary.

Scary or not, my belly continues to grow, and at a very healthy rate.
Here's my bump at 8 1/2 weeks...

(Isn't it crazy how much I was showing so early along? In my defense, this was taken at the end of the day after my book club meeting, so I had quite a few snacks in there to help me out.)

And here I am right now, one day prior to 31 weeks...

Nine official weeks to go... and in the greatest heat of summer, no less. My fingers are crossed that we can shave a few days off of our countdown, but I'm pretty sure this girl already has a mind of her own and in my experience, you just can't reason with the unborn. Until she decides to grace the outside world with her presence, I am keeping up with my yoga, doing lots of squats and thanking God every day for the luxuries of air conditioning, ceiling fans and an ice maker.

Oh, and please remember to keep any comments pleasant, lest you want to be the unfortunate recipient of a Pregnant Slap. Cheers!

A week of updates in pictures: The Quilt

For the last two days I have talked about some pretty nice triumphs in my project queue, but today I am going to let it all hang out and share about where I have faltered. Way back in January I got this bright idea to join in the "On the Road to Spring" Quilt-Along. I followed right along for about... oh... a week and a half. Then I fell behind. And then I totally stopped.

I kept up with reading the assignments every week and was amazed at the clarity and simplicity of the instructions. I was determined to pick up where I left off as soon as The Olympics was over... as soon as my morning sickness went away... as soon as... as soon as... That combination of words could quite possibly be the most toxic phrase ever, I've decided. Because guess what? All of those "as soon as..." excuses passed by (believe it or not, The Olympics has been over for a while now) and I have yet to budge on my quilt.

I even started and completed other sewing projects in the meantime and managed to screw up my machine while I was at it.
Another nail in the coffin... a broken sewing machine.

Except this coffin comes in the form of a storage bin
in the corner of my dining room.

Yes, after my husband questioned me about it more than a few times, I packed away my fabric and supplies so they could rest safely out of plain view and not sit out in the open for all to see. (I tell you, I've got to get a crafting room! I mean, the hubs gets the garage--where is my space? One of these days...)

I will say that I do have hope. Very soon, my sewing machine will get a long overdue service and (fingers crossed) come back to me in tip top shape. And the fabric sitting in my bin is in fact not dead, but only sleeping. It is patiently waiting to be cut and bound together in a fabulous new creation that will be cherished for so many reasons.

Someday... As soon as my machine is fixed? As soon as this baby is born? As soon as I learn how to cut fabric faster? As soon as...? Oh screw it. It will happen. Someday.

A week of updates in pictures: A Little Knitting

Way back in March, when we had beautiful weather that allowed us to bask in the sun without the fear of dying from heat stroke, I talked about knitting a pair of toast. Well, that afternoon I cast on and after about three inches of knitting realized my gauge was totally off. Way to go, me! I pulled it all out and then Addie woke from her slumber. No toast for me. At least not then.

After a long haitus from knitting, I couldn't take it anymore and last month I finally finished my very first pair. Even though it will be months before I can wear them, I am absolutely in love with how they turned out.

Addie was kind enough to model them for me...

Seeing that this quick knit could basically be the sleeves for a two-year-old sized sweater has inspired me to take the leap and explore some options for my growing girl. Knitting an actual article of clothing has always been really intimidating to me, but I'm going to take a leap and go for it! Stay tuned for more on this adventure...

Oh, and the yarn I used is exactly what Leslie recommends. It's Classic Elite Yarns Portland Tweed and the color I used was Barely There Lilac. I just might have to order some more to make a matching Felicity for the fall.    

Oh mercy...

I am sitting here, in front of my computer, eating my lunch, trying to hold back the sobs... This blog is so inspirational and I wanted to make sure you all knew about it. Angie's words today are incredible and really capture the essence of the goal of Motherhood. Take some time to head over there and read a while. This family's story will grab your heart, I promise. Oh, and bring a box of tissues. You have been warned.

A week of updates in pictures: Our Garden

I recently realized that I have written about starting many projects in the past few months, but then never gave any info. on the progress (or lack thereof) of these adventures. This week I have decided to fill you in!

You might remember a post I did in April about planting some seeds with my girl that I hoped would turn into a garden. Then in May I wrote about finally getting the seedlings and a few more other exciting plants into the ground. Since then it has been a slow process watching our little babies grow. But in the last week or so, with the help of some rain, our precious fruits and veggies are finally showing some promise.

(Please excuse the netting that laces these photos. We have quite the bunny rabbit population in our neighborhood and it really helps to keep those curious little critters out of my veggies.)

Our handful of blueberries are starting to darken.

My herbs are still going strong--those little basil sprigs are surprises that came back from last year. Lets just say there are big plans for batches and batches of pesto that will hopefully last us through the winter. There is also a healthy patch of oregano quickly coming back after I cut off a ton and dried it last week. And of course, the dill. I'm not quite sure what to do with that yet, as I normally don't cook with dill that much, but hopefully something brilliant will come to me.

What a pleasant surprise to see this watermelon shooting up--Curt and Addie planted those seeds just a few weeks ago and they are taking off. Yes!!!

Three out of four cucumber plants are thriving... Maybe there's the solution to my dill conundrum!

My other summer favorite: tomatoes... Grow babies, grow!

Our peppers seem to be taking their sweet time, although I do see a tiny flower on one of these beauties. Don't worry, I have all summer. I can wait!

The biggest shocker is this growing head of lettuce. It won't be long now before this is on my table.

We still have a long way to go, but I think God is using this experience to help teach me patience. I am certain all of the yumminess to come will be well worth the wait.

What Keeps Me Going

Fridays on this space are dedicated to sharing what keeps me going... A moment, a photo, an event or a memory that stands out against whatever might have gone wrong or felt dark in the last seven days.

Last night I decided to come out of my potty training hibernation to attend a prenatal yoga class for the first time in several weeks. Normally when I go to these classes, I leave feeling completely relaxed and rejuvenated, ready to enjoy the rest of my evening and empowered to kick this pregnancy in the tush. Unfortunately towards the very end of the 75 minutes, I did a pose that my sciatic nerve really didn't like. I folded myself out of it as soon as I realized something wasn't right, but it was too late. Damage done. Nerve mad. Mommy irritated. Son of a...

On my way home, I called my hubs and my girl to check in and let them know I would run a few errands before I made it back. Curt requested that I make a stop for him and that was it--0 to 60 in less than .25 seconds. I know my love was super confused and I'm sure he was thinking: Isn't yoga supposed to make you feel better? So glad I rushed home from work so you could do this... I hung up the phone feeling awful. Bad Mood Crabtastigan strikes again, this time complete with a limp.

Thankfully I had some time in the car to decompress and refocus. I was still cranky, mind you, but not nearly as bad as I was about 20 minutes earlier. Addie was already asleep so Curt and I sat down to partake in a nice late dinner together. Then I headed straight for bed and he followed me with our camera. What in the world? He was like, "Honey, have a look at these..." Oh my gosh.

Apparently while I was contorting myself into discomfort, Daddy took Addie out to water our garden. She ended up playing and spashing in the spray of the hose and had to be stripped down the moment they got inside. Then she saw her rain boots and had to put them on. Thank God Curt thought to grab the camera...  

So even though I wasn't there for the actual moment, this image is what turned me around last night and what continues to stick out in my mind today. My girl in her wet, saggy training pants and rain boots. I can't help but laugh every time I see it.

I would love it if you joined me in sharing what keeps you going! Leave a comment to let me know you're participating and each week, I will include a list of everyone who is playing along.

**A very special thanks to my dear friends Lee and Jenn, my sisters Em and Kate (who can be found here and here), my pretend cousin Danelle and my honorary Mother-in-Law Mary for sharing the joy of your weeks. Love and hugs.**

Move forward: another step toward balance

I got so wrapped up in my search for summer that I completely forgot to come up with a step toward balance for June. (If you want to catch up, here are my steps for February, March, April and May.)

Last month I committed myself to putting our family on a strict budget--and sticking to it. It took a lot of late night con-ver-sa-tions (Curt says we don't argue, we discuss), learning new software, organizing piles of paperwork, soul searching and ice cream, but we finally came to a resolution. All I had to do was keep up with it and keep us on track.

I am so very proud to say that as of right now we are doing much better than I anticipated. I fell behind one week amidst the great peeing on the potty quest of 2010, but quickly bounced back and we are forging ahead. At first I was so worried about how it would impact our day-to-day lives. Would we feel trapped? Would we be able to cut down on spending? Would we still feel like we can enjoy our lives?The funny thing is, that once all the dirty work of laying things out and setting our goals was done and we put our plan into practice, there hasn't been one feeling of being stifled or held back--what we've found is a feeling of tremendous freedom.

Instead of worrying about if our bills really got paid on time or if we can really afford that last big purchase, we know. End of story. We know, and we have all the paperwork filed in the correct place along with a pretty pie chart to prove it. True, we don't have the luxury to go all out as often as we once did, but I think we have found happiness and contentment in living our priorities and finding... wait for it... balance within our family.

I think if I'm going to be really honest, the other thing I've found besides balance is relief. A gigantic exhale in realizing that we are OK and that we can do this. We can remain a single income family for the time being and still do the things we enjoy. But, as you may have guessed, this leads me into my step for June...

A sort of secret goal of mine when I quit working outside the home was to start writing. I have been pondering over several ideas for children's and young adult books for years now, but never found the energy to start working on them. I also planned to dive into this space and make it my own, but that was more for my own sanity rather than a hope that it would someday help make a living.

My blogging goal has taken shape, and thank goodness for that because some days I think it's all that keeps me together, but the other plan has fallen a bit short. I did write a simple picture book just before the holidays and actually gave a mock-up to Curt as a Christmas gift. I showed it to some close friends and family members and got some really good feedback and support. After that, it has been sitting in a drawer untouched. Why?

Is it because I truly can't find the time to look for an agent or publisher? Is it because I don't think my work is good enough? Is it because I'm scared? Hmmm... perhaps I've hit on something. When I really dig deep, I think that an intense fear of failure is keeping me frozen in a pattern that is safe and comfortable and preventing me from reaching out to chase a dream. Maybe the book I should be writing is How to Allow Fear and Procrastination to Crush Your Soul: Successful Ways to Stay Exactly the Same. Oh, but we could all write that book at some time or another, I'm sure.

With baby #2 hot on our heels, I fear even more that with her arrival I will find an entirely new list of reasons why I can't. But how devistated would I be if a whole year passed by with that manuscript sitting in a drawer, unseen by anyone? That year could easily turn into two, three, and so on. No. I am finally ready to say that this scenario is not OK with me.

June 2010 will be the month that I finally draft and send out at least one query letter. I will get the research done and make my dream list of agents and publishers. I will stare the possibility of failure in the face and do it anyway. I will move forward. Why is it that I need to make this goal public in order to find the accountability I need? Why hasn't it been enough to make this commitment quietly to myself? ...probably best to explore that subject on another day.

In the meantime, I have 20 days left in June to "get my rear in gear," as my mom always said. Off I go--wish me luck!

 Head on over to which name? to see what Nicola and others are doing to find balance this month. Feel free to join in if you are so moved. You won't regret it!

In Search of Summer: June 9th

This is the final day of the In Search of Summer series and it has been quite fun to spend some time looking at our life through the lens of this fast approaching season. Today we are enjoying some late spring/early summer storms that will hopefully help kick our garden into high gear.

The time inside and the soothing sounds of distant thunder are giving this Mommy a much needed dose of calm. After last week's hard core potty training sessions that included hours spent on a hard bathroom floor, my body is in need of a break. Or maybe I finally need to put my foot down and insist that Addie walk on her own even if she throws a fit for me to carry her. Mmmm... not a chance. I  know I have such little time left when my arms are empty and free to hold her close. It's worth a little pain in my back and hip every now and again.

Having said that, I must quickly press on so I can immediately assume the side-laying position with some strategic placement of a body pillow while my girl is napping. A little forced relaxation never hurt anyone, especially someone nearly 30 weeks pregnant.

So I will leave you on this fine Wednesday with some pictures of Miss. Addie enjoying her first experience of corn on the cob. I know, it's a little early for such a luxury and it is definitely not local, but it was on sale and I just couldn't help myself. I wish I could blame it on a pregnancy craving, but in all honesty, preggo or not, it wouldn't matter. Corn (ahem) fresh corn, is one of my all time favorite foods and whenever I see it, there's no turning back.

There's nothing like biting into those bursts of slightly crunchy sweetness all slathered in butter and laced with salt. 

I'm so glad to know she agrees.

Don't worry, my love. We will eat so much more of this in the months to come--those hot, sticky, melty, sweaty, carefree, giggly, popsicly, sunny summer months. I can't wait!

Thank you Mary, for hosting such a fun series! If you haven't yet been to
The Yellow Door Paperie, check it out and see how others
have been searching for summer...

In Search of Summer: June 8th

Over the weekend, I decided it was finally time to harvest some herbs. Our oregano was hogging the bed and needed to simmer down a bit so my little basil plants can grow on up and make Momma some pesto.

Addie has such an interest in gardening and constantly talks about all the veggies we are growing, which makes me so happy. Naturally, I took her outside with me to help gather all of our herbs. I heard her favorite phrase, "I love it!" so many times... Be still my heart.

Between that and another mound of lavender, we were all set. My girl loved helping and carrying enough oregano to fill her tiny arms inside so I could wash it and lay it out for drying. Curt walked into the kitchen and said, "It smells so good in here!"

Oh yes it does!

In Search of Summer: June 7th

Flowers are starting to bloom in our backyard. My favorite, besides the lavender of course, are the tiger lilies...

They are ever so gorgeous, and seem to smile up at me as I walk by.

We have one very tall stalk in particular that keeps reaching higher and higher outside our bedroom window.

At first, it really creeped me out to see how thick it was and how fast and high it was growing. It seemed like the kind of plant that would try and break through the glass to attack me while I slept.

But as I see how many buds there are and exactly what is in store for me and my viewing pleasure any day now, I have decided to reframe.

Yes, now I imagine this beautiful flowering plant growing higher and higher until it reaches the clouds, sporting incredible blooms all the way. There's a lot of summer left to go... Who knows? It could happen.

What Keeps Me Going

Fridays on this space are dedicated to sharing what keeps me going... A moment, a photo, an event or a memory that stands out against whatever might have gone wrong or felt dark in the last seven days.

How do girlfriends just know? How do they know when you've had a bad week and you need an extra special something to pick you up? I have no idea, but there is magic involved, I'm sure of it. My dearest girlfriend, Carmen was just the angel I needed when a gift package from Chicago arrived at exactly the right time.

This week I decided to tackle potty training with Addie and it has definitely been harder than I thought. Partly because I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing and partly because my belly is so flippin' big that maneuvering around and sitting forEVER in an average sized bathroom has seemed like nothing short of torture.

But in reality I do know a little something about what I'm doing. I have tried several different strategies and they appear to be working--Addie has been peeing on the potty rather successfully. She had one accident on days two and three and got those tinkles in the right spot 3 or 4 times each day. Awesome!

However, on Wednesday (day two) I wasn't sure what success was supposed to look like and that one accident that took place on our back porch felt like agonizing defeat. Before we changed her out of her pee pants, my bug tripped and fell, skinning both of her knees. When I picked her up to comfort her, I ended up with pee all over me. (This was about two hours after I had finally managed to take a shower.)

With a bloody, tear and pee stained girl, Daddy swooped in and took her to get the mail. He comes up with some strange distractions for her at odd moments, but I tell you they seem to work every time. Her tears went away and they trotted off together, leaving me alone and free to fall completely apart.

A few minutes later, along comes Addie--rounding the corner into the backyard, still with her bright red knees and her pee pants, but smiling and holding a package. Oh thank God!!! I knew exactly who it was from and couldn't wait to discover the contents of our gift.

Beautiful handprinted cloth napkins for me and a t-shirt for my girl with the most adorable application of an ice cream cone on the front. Not to mention a CD perfectly created for the two of us. I wiped the tears from my face and quickly shifted from feeling sorry for myself to being ever so grateful for my thoughtful and talented Carmen.

Addie got swept up in the excitement as well and immediately began to pretend licking the ice cream cone on her new shirt, shouting her new favorite phrase, "I love it!!!" Oh Addie, me too!

A shower later, she and I were clean again and nearly good as new. Thanks to our magically timed surprise, we recovered from the rough patch rather nicely and settled into a calm and relaxing evening with Daddy.

So thank you, Carmen! It wasn't just the gifts, but knowing that those treasures came from your creative fingertips that kept me going this week. As always, you know exactly what will make me smile and as it turns out, you've got quite a knack for Addie's tastes as well! Love to you, my Ya-Ya!!!

Little Miss. wearing her brand new shirt and searching for clips of Ratatouille on Mommy's iPhone.

And here she is, bearing the battle wounds of summer, watching said Ratatouille clips and waiting for those pesky pee pee's to come on out!

I would love it if you joined me in sharing what keeps you going! Leave a comment to let me know you're participating and each week, I will include a list of everyone who is playing along.

**A very special thanks to my ever faithfuls--my honorary Mother-in-Law Mary and my sweet papa for sharing a slice of your weeks. Love and hugs to you both!

In Search of Summer: June 3rd

Few things scream summer more to me than drinking an ice cold beer outside on a hot night while the sun sets. Being pregnant, watching others partake in this ritual has been a difficult thing to endure. When I was preggers with Addie, consuming no alcohol was tough, but not that big of a deal. However, this time for some reason it seems excruciating, and I find that my tolerance for others drinking around me is not as high as it was before.

Example: Curt comes home from a long day at work and says something like, "Oh my goodness, what a rough day. I could really use a beer!"
My less than sensitive response is along the lines of, "Nice, honey. I've had a hard day too. Do you know how much I'd love a beer right now? Why don't you have some sushi and a juicy rare steak while you're at it? Jerk..."

Yeah... Not a pretty picture.

Recently, a very dear friend recommended something to me that just may save my summer and my marriage: Bitburger Drive. It's imported from Germany and is a non-alcoholic beer. I was skeptical at first, as I have tried O'Doul's and the like and was not impressed to say the least. But this magical find is incredible.

Here's the thing--it actually tastes like beer! And not the watered down lite crap--I'm talking real beer!!! Not something to indulge in full force, as I'm sure the empty calories could really sneak up and get me, but on those particularly rough days, just one is a heavenly treat. I almost feel like I'm partaking in the real thing. Curt laughs at me and jokingly comments on what the neighbors will think if they see my giant belly and a bottle in my hand, but I truly could not care less.

Somehow this discovery makes my fear of a summer due date seem a little less scary. And it makes the prospect of hot nights outside sound a lot more fun. Now when the hubs walks through the door all tired and ready for a nightcap, I can grab a treat for us both and leave my resentment at the fridge. Even thought it's all in my head, it's definitely a mind game I can play while we watch the fireflies start to flicker in the dusk. Oh yes, I'll drink to that!

In Search of Summer: June 2nd

Over the past several months, whenever I mentioned to someone that I planned to potty train Addie before the new baby arrived they all said, "Wait until summer--it's the perfect time to do it." So I listened, and starting yesterday, Addie and I have been living in the bathroom working on peeing in the potty.

I knew it wouldn't be easy and I knew it would take a lot of time and patience. (The latter of which, I am known for lacking.) Nothing could have prepared me for the number of hours I would spend sitting on our bathroom floor. I swear, my ass will never be the same again. I also had no idea how exhausting it would be to just sit and wait and wait and wait. For what? Pee.

I could spend quite a while telling stories after only a day and a half of this new venture. I am so SO tired and have thought of quitting about 100 times already. But no! I must press on! Sore booty or no sore booty, I've come this far... Addie has too. We're doing this.

The plan was to take her outside for the day in an effort to mix things up a bit and minimize the cleaning of accidents, but the weather is not cooperating. How can I find summer in the midst of exhaustion, the smell of pee and a cloudy/rainy day? By raiding my herb garden and harvesting fresh basil, of course!

Yes, my solution is food. Are you shocked? I sat down to enjoy a plate of fresh spinach and tomato basil pasta (purchased from my farmer's market pasta dudes) combined with a nice helping of homemade pesto.

It's amazing how it just tastes green and I love that when I'm done there are tiny little flecks of basily goodness flung within a five foot radius all around me. So very good, I don't mind the mess one bit. Totally worth it. Totally summer.

Add a couple of homemade chocolate chip cookies and my belly is blissfully content, along with the baby inside, happy and kicking with glee. I love to imagine her in there thinking: Thanks Mom! That pesto is yummmmmy!!! And cookies too? You're the best!

All I need now is a little nap, laying on my side to give my bum a much needed break and I'll be set for round two--post nap potty training. Please clouds, won't you part and shine a little sun down upon us? I've got a full moon that would be forever grateful.

In Search of Summer: June 1

I wish I could say we spent the long weekend enjoying time with friends and family, poolside and cooking out. Alas, Addie's sickness that sprouted up on Friday stuck around the entire time, so instead we hunkered down and got to work on some household projects. At first I was thinking, this isn't really "searching for summer", but then I realized that we never really did our spring cleaning. So, in order to say a true farewell to the spring we are leaving behind at this unofficial start of summer weekend, we got down to business.

One big item on the list was for me to go through the piles and piles of magazines I have been collecting for years. We have moved them from one house to another and now that we have another little life to support in this space, there just isn't room for such clutter anymore. What started out as one shelf on a bookcase quickly multiplied to include a stack on top of the case, a pile under my nightstand, some more stuffed between the nightstand and our bed, a few next to the end table in the living room and on and on. No more!

Saturday, while Addie napped and watched Ratatouille for the umpteenth time, I gave my thumb a huge workout by going through four years' worth of Fitness, Parents and Real Simple magazines. I now have a MUCH smaller stack of recipes and workout routines that will go into a binder as a reference. And either the library or the Salvation Army will have a rather large drop-off on their hands in the immediate future.

Project #2: Maximize storage space

The guest bedroom that is soon to be a nursery once housed a rather substantial yarn pile in one of its corners. I kept contributing to the stash and it kept growing, but with 11 1/2 weeks until baby #2 arrives, it needed a new home. Enter wicker chests that have contained various piles of blankets and bedding for no particular reason! I packed the comforters and shams that we no longer use regularly into storage bags that will go in the attic and consolidated the blankets we do use into a chest in our bedroom.

Now, what appears on the outside as a decorative prop at the back of our dining area (along with bins that contain my fabric and sewing items)...

Is actually a treasure chest of knitting needles, yarn, patterns and other such jewels!

The dream is that one day we will build an addition to this house which would include a guest/craft room. There I could spread out my yarns, fabrics, sewing machine, painting supplies and easel so I will always have a space that is ready for me to enter and create. Until then, we have to make the best with what we have. I'd say we're doing OK so far. So with that and a huge sigh of relief  I shout, Summer here I come--clutter free!!!