Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 Highlights

Wow, what an unforgettable year 2016 has been.

To be honest, it started off pretty miserably. The transition from zero to one child was unexpectedly difficult. Now I feel like I'm over the hump and could easily have more kids, but zero to one...WHOA. What a ride it has been.

This year has definitely been a year of growth and change. It's hard to articulate, but overall I feel...
- Less patient
- More confident
- Less worrisome
- More generous

The thing that stands out to me the most this year is the amount of support I've gotten from my family. I've always been close to my parents, but I have relied on them more than ever before and they have really been my rock. I'm pretty sure they kept me from jumping off a cliff on numerous occasions. :)

Another thing that stands out is how sick I have been this year! I'm usually never sick, but I've been through two major stomach viruses and other minor illnesses this year. Cam has not been sick at all, which makes me think I gave him all of my immunity when he was born!

Despite being sick (again!) for these final two weeks of the year, I'm ending 2016 on a high note.

When I look back at certain moments this year, I can definitely say it's been one of the happiest times of my life, mostly thanks to this young man, God's gift to the world:

"The message is simple: When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled [my] days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.” 
                          - When Breath Becomes Air

2016 Highlights
  • Every moment with Cam.
  • Every moment with our dogs / pet therapy at the Ronald McDonald House with Pippa
  • A weekend at my parents house in January. It snowed that weekend and I had a lot of extra help with a newborn!
  • Regular days spent at home doing routine stuff around our house.
  • My sister's wedding
  • The Stand 
  • Basement renovation!!!
  • More involvement with my church and my Sunday School class
  • Annapolis, Wrightsville Beach, Las Vegas, Bermuda, and Palm Beach
  • Blueberry picking out in the country. It was sunny and hot, and overall just a perfect summer day.
  • Being pampered at the Umstead spa
  • Fun nights out with friends
  • Discovering Fixer-Upper this December for the first time!! Now I stream the HGTV show and I just finished reading the Magnolia Story. It has been life-changing, haha!
  • Celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary, surviving our 8th year together, and adjusting to our first year as parents. Brian still has the best (and most unexpected) humor of anyone I know, but you have to catch him at just the right moment. Those moments make me the happiest. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The "Why?" Chromosome

Have I ever shared with you my theory on male and female chromosomes?

Here it is:

Men have the X and the Y chromosomes because they're the ones that often do stupid things that leave us shaking our heads and wondering "WHY????"

Females have the XX chromosomes because we always have to repeat ourselves.

(I should be a high school biology teacher. I feel I've missed my calling.)

Anyhow, my relationship with Brian regularly reinforces this theory and I have a recent example.

As background to this story, when Brian and I got married, I was banking at BB&T and he used Wells Fargo. He made the sacrifice and switched his accounts over to BB&T. Four years later, he still never misses an opportunity to tell me how much he dislikes the Best Bank in Town.

So we were at dinner a couple weeks ago and Brian was looking down at his phone, very frustrated with something. I heard a combination of mumbled words, cursing, and "BB&T sucks."

Here's what happened next....

K: "What's wrong?"
B: "BB&T has the dumbest security questions ever. I can't login because I can't remember the friggin' answer."
K: "What's the question?"
B: "What's your favorite color?"

(brief silence, Kelly thinking)

K: "Well, what is your favorite color?"

(Brian exasperated, highly annoyed)

B: "I don't know Kelly. Blue, I guess."
K: "Did you try blue?"
B: "It's not blue!"
K: "You just said your favorite color was blue."
B: "I didn't answer it with blue."
K: "Well what's your second favorite color? Maybe try green."
B: "It's not a color! I used a code word."

(Kelly amused, suppressing laughter)

K: "A code word?"
B: "A code word. It's recommended that you use a code word. You just use the same word for every question and that way you don't have to remember your answers."
K: "I've never heard of doing that. I always remember my answers."

(Brian silence)

K: "What's your code word?"
B: "Oh my god."
K: "You don't remember it?"
B: "If I did, I wouldn't be locked out of the account right now."

(angry silence)

K: "I just don't understand why you didn't answer the question with blue."

(more angry silence)

B: "Okay can we talk about something else. Obviously BB&T sucks and now I'm going to have to reset everything."

(approximately 2-3 minutes of silence)

K: "I still just don't understand why you didn't answer the question with blue."

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

BEFORE & AFTER - Basement Renovations (Hallelujah)

🎵A leaky pipe from which water poured, 🎵
Brian's sock was damp, he cried "oh my Lord,"
But you don't really care about that, do ya?


🎵Basement damage done, insurance needed proof,🎵
Our contractor, he became aloof,
Our patience and our bank accounts a-dwindlin'.

🎵The months went by - the FOURTH, THE FIFTH!🎵
Summer turned to Fall, NOT A HAMMER LIFT!

🎵 Hallelujah...
{end singing}

This has been the longest small-scale project in the history of small-scale projects. When we had the water damage back in March, we had no clue our basement would be torn apart for the better half of a year. Unfortunately, for now, we had to scratch our original idea of adding another bathroom in the unfinished basement, so there's still a large portion of our basement that remains unfinished.

Maybe we'll tackle that next year, but for now, we're just glad to have these other rooms completed so we can relax for the holidays. Fingers crossed that nothing else breaks in this old house. :)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Life Lately

Our year-long basement renovation is almost done and I will be posting the BEFORE and AFTER pictures later this week. Finally!!

On November 16th, Cam celebrated his first birthday!
After we survived a colicky first two months, Cam has been such a joy. Right now, the challenging part is figuring out a better routine. My work hours and nightmare-ish commute make it really difficult to create a pleasant morning and evening routine. 

I still don't consider myself a baby person by any means. I adore kids, but the baby stage is just not my favorite. It's a miracle of God that the stressful moments are easily forgotten because I will only look back on this year with fond memories of my happy baby boy! :)

We hosted Thanksgiving at our house again this year with lots family! Brian cooked the turkey and everyone else contributed the side dishes and desserts. Basically, that means I didn't have to do anything!

On a separate note, I have really exciting news:

Tonight I will break out my 1,000 piece puzzle!!!

Kelly's 3rd Annual Christmas Puzzle tradition!

Brian and I had to clean our dining room since we hosted Thanksgiving, so now I have the perfect place to complete my masterpiece.

I purchased four bottles of holiday wine for the occasion (to be divvied up over the next few weeks, of course). If you wish to create your own Christmas puzzle tradition, I suggest Amy Grant Holiday Radio on Pandora as the perfect musical complement, along with a pine-scented candle.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Best Pancakes Ever

I've been re-reading my cookbooks lately.

Two reasons:
Reason #1: I want to be more intentional about meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking.

For the past year, my life has pretty much consisted of
a.) being a mom while Cam is awake and
b) recovering from being a mom while Cam is asleep.

The recovery includes alcoholic beverages and lots of sleep.

Back in May, Cam started sleeping through the night and he goes to bed early now (6pm). I'm tempted to go to bed early too (6:01pm), but I think after twelve months of recovery it's finally time that I start getting back to my old self. Blogging, cooking, baking, making huge messes, annoying Brian.

Reason #2:  I have nothing else to read.

I read Stephen King's "The Stand" this year.
It was good. Laws yes, it was good.

Life of Pi has been holding tight to it's #1 spot on Kelly's Favorite Books List since 11th grade, but I think The Stand may have finally taken the lead. I finished it in August and I cannot bring myself to read another book because I know I will be disappointed.

Nothing can top The Stand. My life might as well be over. Literary speaking.

So, uh, regarding the best pancakes ever...

I decided I would do a special breakfast this morning for Cam since I had the day off work. I like to make things special, especially around the holidays.

I made the Pioneer Woman's sour cream pancakes this morning, but I substituted Greek yogurt because I had no sour cream.

My morning in a nutshell:


The sour cream pancake recipe.

Greek yogurt because I was sans sour cream.

The Best Pancakes Ever!

Ignore Cam's skepticism. They really were the best pancakes I have ever had!

The Pioneer Woman's Sour Cream Pancakes

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The House That's Never Done

Given that the basement renovation is taking forever, I've mentally moved on to a new project - a Master Bedroom facelift.

The Master Bedroom was never decorated, it's just a hodgepodge of different pieces, which has worked fine. Remember this post? I bought an upholstered headboard at the flea market, but we decided not to make any big furniture purchases since we couldn't find something we really loved at the time.

Note to readers: Do not get an upholstered headboard. I know they look great, but I would not make that mistake again. They are impossible to clean. I think ours got dirty from our dogs laying up against it, but even without dogs, I think hair products, oil, and dirt would eventually have the same effect.

Over the past 4 years we've lived in this house, we've really taken our time on each project to ensure all of the details reflect our personal style while preserving the character of the house. I don't plan to rush any decisions, especially since we've spent so much time and money this year on the basement, but here's my current list of Master Bedroom Wants:

1. Full room rug
2. More pictures of Cam and the dogs
3. King bed instead of queen

Since I have zero interior design skills, my plan was to recruit Brian to design the room for me or schedule an in-home consultation with Pottery Barn (they offer free in-home design services).

As luck would have it, Brian and I went to North Hills on Saturday and could not find a parking spot anywhere except for a spot marked designated for "ETHAN ALLEN CUSTOMERS ONLY." So I parked there, with no intention of ever being a customer.

When we got out of the car, I started walking a different direction, and Brian was like "Aren't we going to Ethan Allen?"

Honest Abe.

So here's what went down that day:

Lady at Ethan Allen: "Can I help you find anything?"
Me: "No, we just parked in your reserved spot outside so we had to come in here and look around."
Lady: "Oh, Okay."
Me: "This looks like a Pottery Barn. Do you offer free in-home design services like they do at the Barn of Pottery?"

So it turns out that they do. And now I have a free in-home design consultation scheduled with Ethan Allen on December 3rd. And by the time this is all said and done, Honest Abe Strawberry might be regretting that trip to North Hills.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Third Annual Basement Update

There's been a little progress this month on our basement renovation, which is better than no progress, so let's all take a moment to celebrate that fact.

First things first, though.

Here's the reality of our current living situation, due to the aforementioned basement renovation:

"It's a disaster."
          - Donald Trump

OK, here we go....I gotta make this a quick post before Cam wakes up.

You may remember the BEFORE pictures of the laundry room:

Here's where we are now...

The granite countertops have been installed and there's been progress with the cabinets.

There will be two cabinets eventually added on both sides of the washer and dryer. The tile for the backsplash and the walls has been delivered, and let me tell you, the end result is going to look incredible. I am SO EXCITED for when this room will finally be complete.

It's hard to tell from the pictures, but the laundry room feels so much bigger now. The counter top is really deep, probably about three feet deep. I have to get on my tiptoes to reach where the cabinet will be on the wall. I love how much counter space there is for folding clothes, etc.

OK, remember the BEFORE picture of the storage/game room?

Current progress:

Granite countertops have been added in this room, too, as well as some under-cabinet lighting. I love that there's a big closet in this room now, whereas before it was a lot of open storage shelves.

Alright, there you have it. I'm not sure if there will be another installment of my "Basement Update" posts until next year, but we can only hope!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Thoughts On Not Watching TV

Q: How can you tell if someone doesn't watch TV?
A: They'll be sure to tell you. 

I can count on one (and only one) hand the number of things that Brian and I have in common and one of those things is that we both don't watch TV. 

We're a match made in heaven!

I hate saying "I don't watch TV" because it sounds so snooty. 

I prefer to say "We don't have a TV." Not only is it an accurate statement, it also makes us sound poor.

When you tell people you don't have a TV, they tend to get confused...and sad...and then they'll just end the conversation because they don't know what to say.

"Have you seen that new commercial for Amazon Prime?"
"Huh? Oh. Well, uh no. We don't have a TV."

See how sad that sounds?

"I don't watch TV."

"I don't have a TV."

A lot of people seem curious when they find out we don't have a TV, so here's the low down:

1. We have a projector for movies. For streaming, we have Netflix, Hulu, Roku, and our friend Rob's password to his HBO Go account.

2. It does get tricky if we want to watch sports. I really only care about Duke basketball, so we either have to find a way to stream games or go to a sports bar, which I think is more fun than watching it at home anyway.

3. I don't think I miss out on much. There's nothing that will ever top Seinfeld.

4. If we had a TV, I would probably watch Fox News and Food Network, and Brian would probably be suicidal.

5. It does get weird if we need a dog-sitter (or future babysitter). I mean, what do they do? I'm always like "Look, you need to bring several magazines, because you are about to be bored out of your mind."

6. After 5+ years of not having a TV, I've lost interest in it. 

7. We may get TV and cable at some point in the future. I can't imagine a childhood without TV, so I think I want that for our son. 

But then again, maybe we won't. We could just let him watch old Doug and Saved by the Bell episodes on Youtube instead. 

He needs the classics in his life. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Life Lately

Well, I can accurately report that there is nothing to report on the basement.

Moving on.

Work has been super busy. Everything going on at our house is also taking its toll (it's been taking its toll on me for the better half of a year); however, tonight I can't complain. Cam is sleeping soundly and I have my favorite Big Boss Harvest Time beer in a chilled glass, ready to blog.

Breaking news: I am allergic to ants. I wish I was joking! I've been bit twice now in a month. The first time it happened, I was pretty alarmed at how bad it was, but didn't think much of it. The second time, my entire leg started immediately swelling! I think it must be fire ants in our driveway.

Brian thinks I'm being dramatic. When I complained to him about the ant bite, he texted me this picture:

I think I need an EpiPen.

I finally got to visit MillStone Creek Orchards for apple picking last weekend!

I had wanted to go last Fall, but it rained us out each time we tried to go. I was thankful that it worked out for me, my sister, and mom to all go together this past Saturday.

MillStone Creek Orchards was about an hour away in the middle of nowhere! While we were driving there, I was convinced we were going to be the only ones at the orchard.

I mean, there is country and then there is backcountry. This place was backcountry. We passed like five cars in thirty minutes (and I was secretly getting concerned that there was no nearby medical care, since I figured ants would be in abundance.)

To my astonishment, everyone and their cousin was at Millstone Creek Orchards on Saturday. It was so crowded!

I guess we took the road less traveled, and that made all the difference.

I had a nice time, but I've been sick with a miserable cold all weekend, so that put a bit of a damper on it for me. I think I'll just continue to buy my apples at the grocery store, but it was a fun one-time experience. I made homemade applesauce on Sunday and plan to make fried apple pies with the rest of my stash.

On Friday night, we went to Oktoberfest at Raleigh Brewing Company. It was so much fun - lots of people, dogs, and good beer!

On Saturday night, we met up with friends for dinner in Hillsborough. It was a perfect night to eat Mexican outside on the patio at Pueblo Viejo, so that was the highlight of my day. Such good company and so many laughs! :)

On Sunday, I was so exhausted from an eventful weekend, but I did get a chance to take the dogs on a walk at Lake Lynn and also take Cam to the pool.

A/C on full blast. Otis takes it to the face!

It was officially my last - and best! - pool day of the summer.

First Pool Trip of the Summer - June 2016

Last Pool Trip of the Summer - September 2016

Of course, Cam and the dogs are the best part of every weekend. Love my babies so much!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

One Day. (Basement Update)

I'm back with an update on our basement renovation.

I got the opportunity this week to record the crew and get some live-action footage of the work being done.

Video below.

Our basement renovation is moving at Sloth's Pace.
Actually, is that sloth for hire? He could probably come in and get things done quicker.

In all seriousness, here are a few pics of the progress (mostly Brian's progress because our contractor rarely shows up):


Old cabinets came down, new appliances went in.

Sink, cabinets, counter tops, etc. have yet to be completed.

This was my Laundry Room inspiration and what's possibly in store for the not-near future:

All furniture had been removed and Brian needed to select new carpet.

New carpet is down and it's a much smoother, less shaggy carpet. I really like it.

Remember this room? This was taken after we had the water damage:

Looking much better with new paint and new carpet. Painting and cabinetry is incomplete, but coming along.

So that's where we stand as of now!

All my life I've been waiting for, 
I've been praying for,
For this project to end.

One day...One day...One day...One day...One day...One day...One day....