You can hope …

May 31, 2012

Near the end of my pregnancy with Caelan, labor and delivery was looming and I was getting nervous/excited for his arrival.  Regarding the start of my labor, I hoped for two things:

1) I hoped my water would break in a very obvious way or that I’d have strong regular contractions – a CLEAR sign that this was in fact IT and it was time to go. Despite how it always happens on TV, only 10-15% of women have their water break at the start of labor so that seemed unlikely. Bill got a cheap digital watch and we were ready to time contractions at home.

2) I didn’t want to go into labor at work. Sure, my office is right next to the hospital, but who wants to go into labor at work?

So what actually happened a year ago today? My water broke in a way that had me wondering for an hour or two if that’s what had actually happened. No contractions that I was aware of. And, oh yeah…I was at work.

25 hours later …

The Cupcake Shed

May 29, 2012

When we started our basement project back in March 2010, we agreed on 15 months to complete the renovation. We even bet on it (I was betting it’d take longer), though we never actually decided on what the “winner” would get if they were right. We joked that if I won the bet, Bill would build me a cupcake shed on our back patio. It was unclear whether or not this would be just a shed to house baking supplies, or a shed actually shaped like a cupcake (would the HOA approve that?!).

As it turned out, Bill won the bet on the basement, completing it with 9 days to spare. We received the “use and occupancy” certificate while Caelan and I were still in the hospital after he was born. So I wasn’t getting my cupcake shed. Or was I?

Bill wanted to get a shed because now that our unfinished basement was, well, finished, we needed a place to store some outdoor equipment. Driving the lawn mower across the new carpet and out the door didn’t seem like a good idea. In the meantime, we hired a kid from our neighborhood to cut the lawn for us and we focused on taking care of this new baby. Then it was Winter and it wasn’t a huge priority at that time, and then it was Spring and all three of us were sick/busy constantly (or so it seemed). So that’s how we arrived here, a year later, and just now getting a shed.

Bill ordered it online from Home Depot and they delivered it in a couple huge boxes. It had a lot more pieces than I expected, but Bill and his dad were able to get it assembled over the weekend.

Tada! We have a shed!! I may or may not sneak some baking supplies in there if we have room 😉

Believe it or not, the acquisition of this shed sets a much bigger plan in motion. Now that we have a shed, we can redo our kitchen/powder room.


See, the lawn mower is currently taking up a big space in our laundry room that should be home to the cats’ litter box. When we started the basement project, we moved the litter box up to our powder room which the cats took over. Luckily (?), the toilet and sink in there were broken anyway. But now that the lawn mower can go to the shed, the litter box can move back to the basement, and we are free to redo the powder room. And the floor in the powder room extends to the foyer which extends to the kitchen, and the floor really needs to be redone. So we should do the kitchen at the same time. You see how these things snowball??

So stay tuned for some posts about this next house project. We’re not exactly sure when we’ll be getting started, but hopefully in the next couple months!

Homemade lollipops? Sure! I have time for that

May 25, 2012

Someone has a 1st birthday coming up!! That means 3 things:

Mixed emotions going on here, but I have been focusing on party planning for the past month or so. Well, party prep really since the planning has been going on a lot longer than a month!! I will have a post or two to share with you after the big day, but I’m going to share one thing beforehand.

The major party project I took on (other than the cake/cupcakes which I will be doing next week) is something that I decided to do kind of on a whim. I wasn’t planning on doing favors or goodie bags since we only have a few kids attending and adults don’t tend to care about or expect a favor. But then I saw this:

And since we’re doing a jungle theme and our nickname for Caelan is “monkey” well, I just had to make these lollipops!

I picked up all of the supplies I’d need at JoAnn’s and since I’d never made lollipops before, I checked out a couple of YouTube videos with demonstrations. It’s not rocket science, but it is meticulous and time consuming work. Once I got the hang of it, I could make 6 in about an hour. So a few evenings a week over the course of a few weeks, I made lots and lots of lollipops! I had a little trouble with the green candy in particular – it tended to stick. Not sure why. But overall, I love how they came out and I think they will be perfect for our little monkey’s party!


May 21, 2012

Or something like that…you know.

When I met Bill years ago, he had just started working on his graduate degree. In the years since then, he bought a house, we moved in together, we got engaged, planned a wedding, got married, did some major home renovations, got pregnant, had a baby, and raised an almost-one-year-old. So yeah, it’s been an eventful few years. But Bill managed to also take classes, study, write endless papers, and now he has earned a Masters in Information Assurance from UMUC!!! It’s a wonderful accomplishment and I am extremely proud of him for working so hard.

Family pic. Yes, this baby is chewing on a plate.

Naturally, a party to celebrate was in order

I invited a few people over to celebrate. It was nothing fancy, but there was food, there were presents, and there was cake (obviously). I made a chocolate cake and while I normally do 2 layers, I thought that would be overkill for the number of people we were going to have. So because I like to torture myself with math (apparently) I made 1 1/4 batches of chocolate cake so the single layer would be a little more substantial, but still wouldn’t overflow into my oven. I made a double batch of vanilla buttercream for the icing. I did a Google image search for “computer security” and came up with a lot of pictures of computers with padlocks, so since Bill’s degree is in computer security, that’s what I went with for the design. Nerdtasically delicious if I do say so 😉

Computer Security Cake!

My First Mothers Day

May 14, 2012

Well, my first Mothers Day since Caelan was born. I did celebrate Mothers Day last year when I was about 36 weeks pregnant with him, but I guess this year was the first REAL Mothers Day for me.

I got my first work of art from Caelan that came inside a card he made for me at daycare. Naturally, I put it on the fridge immediately!

Bill gave me flowers and he also got up with Caelan Sunday morning and did most of the baby wrangling for the day giving me some very much appreciated down time.

Caelan and I did take a trip to the grocery store as we do every Sunday and he had tons of random strangers gushing over his cuteness when he fell asleep in the cart.

Later in the afternoon, we headed over to my parents’ house to celebrate Mothers Day with them, Bill’s parents, and Bill’s brother and his wife. I was planning to get a few pictures of me and Caelan, and some with Caelan and his grandmothers. Instead, we got this:

A sick baby with a 104° fever. He was kind of acting okay sometimes – wandering around the house, squealing and going from person to person, but there was some fussiness too. After Tylenol only kind of worked and only for a short time before his fever went back up, being the first-time parents that we are, we decided to take him to urgent care to get checked out. (I should note that we almost made it through his first year without a trip to urgent care or the ER – this was the first one!)

This morning he still had a fever, but it was much less alarming at only 100.0°. Still not sure what is going on with him (possibly a viral infection), but Mothers Day was definitely an adventure!

Bye Bye Picnik, Hello iPiccy

May 8, 2012

For the past year or so I had been using Picnik (a free web-based photo editor) to edit my pictures. I really liked it because it had a nice range of basic edits with a few intermediate ones thrown in there too (and some advanced features if you paid for a Premium membership). The interface was nice and easy to use* and I had come to rely on it.

Apparently the almighty Google owns Picnik and they decided to shut it down in mid-April. They are planning to roll some of the photo editing features Picnik offered into Google+. I’m not a huge fan of this option. I have a Google+ profile, but I don’t post there, nor do I upload my pictures to this site. I’d rather have a photo editor that is separate from social media. I don’t need to post ALL of my photos.

I have an older copy of Adobe Photoshop that I do use for photo editing. I only know how to use probably 10% of this program and the learning curve is steep. I find it useful for things like using the clone stamp to edit things out of photos, or using the selection tools to work with one part of a photo, or for layering images together. I don’t really like this program for basic cropping, red eye removal, and color balance/exposure changes. Certainly, you can do all of those things with Photoshop, but using Photoshop for basic cropping is overkill, in my opinion.

So I went in search of an alternative to my beloved Picnik. The first possibility I tried was Adobe Photoshop Express (free, web-based). I liked this program. The interface is clean and clear and easy to use* and it offered all of the features I was used to using with Picnik. I particularly liked that its Auto Correct option came with choices (choose from 5 different auto-corrections, with previews). The down side is that it’s SLOW. The first time I tried it I ended up getting so frustrated with the lag time that I had to just quit for the night. I’ve given it another couple of tries and it’s still kind of slow. I have zero patience for slow-running programs so I will probably not use this one again.

The next option I tried was Pixlr Express. The interface is okay on this one – I don’t like it as much as Picnik’s or PS Express. I am not a fan of the crop utility. I have yet to figure out how to crop a picture with into a portrait orientation. But it does have a lot of fun features – text, stickers, borders, etc – and it ran without any lag time.

The third option I tried was something I saw mentioned on one of my message boards – iPiccy. Ding ding ding – we have a winner! iPiccy’s interface* is virtually identical to Picnik’s so it’s very familiar to me. It appears to have all of the same options, plus quite a few that were Premium options on Picnik but are free on iPiccy. I haven’t explored all of the options yet (nor did I explore all of Picnik’s options), but I am very happy to have found a new (and maybe better) photo editor to work with!

*Note: I design web screens and user interfaces for a living. If a program has an interface that isn’t clean and user-friendly, it’s a huge pet peeve of mine!