lovely tuesday: 22 weeks

last week i told a coworker that i felt fantastic and it was true. the little one is moving regularly in the afternoons and evenings; feeling the baby is a huge sigh of relief. i read forums where women felt their babies at 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 weeks and i stopped because it made me nervous. he just needed more time. but he’s a trickster— he stays still whenever michael swaps hands with me!

i’ll share an outfit post soon and i’ll fit right into the “expecting a boy” stereotype: i look like i swallowed a basketball (maybe a basketball-sized cheeseburger with french fries). fixed-waist skirts are out of the question; i’ve been wearing elastic skirts and the bump is front and center. i didn’t announce to my students that i’m having a baby but they give me curious looks sometimes.

we bought the little guy a fox blanket but i haven’t decided on any other bedding for now. isn’t that print adorable? the whales are cute, too. i love it so much i might get another one. 

lovely tuesday: 21 weeks

oh, oh, ow! just like the doctor ordered, i began to feel the baby over past several days. i ate an ice cream sandwich last night (okay, maybe two ice cream sandwiches) and felt four little jabs of delight from my friend. the baby’s movements occur at random intervals but it’s reassuring for me as a first time mom especially when others may feel their children sooner. one of the most important lessons i’ve learned is that every woman and every pregnancy is different!

many friends told me i’m in the “easy” stage right now and i fully agree. the roller coaster of energy is over and i feel good enough to exercise again. i do prenatal barre at home with suzanne bowen; i like the workout because you can pick the exercises you need like lower body, upper body, or cardio. there’s a woman in the video in her third trimester and she looks amazing i.e. it’s okay to secretly give her the stink eye.

on saturday i went thrifting and picked up an armful of adorable things. i like the old-fashioned sort of clothes kids wore in the 80’s (similar to prince george’s navy jumper or peter pan collar dresses). i scored cute striped bloomers and embroidered overalls from janie and jack for a few dollars each. now you can give me an evil look. :o)

lovely tuesday: week 20

today we found out the gender of our little one! we’ve been making phone calls to family and everyone is very, very excited. i had a dream last night that i was washing clothes and it turned out to be the “right” kind of clothes— isn’t that funny? now i can call the little one by name especially when i lie awake at night. let me sleep! i’ll share the gender with y’all soon (after i go on my first baby thrifting trip).

the sonogram this afternoon was kind of nerve racking. the technician spent so much time looking, measuring, and labeling and i didn’t know whether to smile or hold my breath. michael was calm and joked, “i can’t tell what anything is!” he made me laugh.

supposedly the baby can hear voices so i expect it to learn the days of the week, months of the year, and all the letter sounds by birth because we sing those songs at school everyday. that’s not too much to ask for, right? okay— i’ll settle for some gurgles and grins.

lovely tuesday: 19 weeks

wow! it doesn’t seem like i’m almost halfway through my pregnancy. time has flown by since a simple positive test in december. next week we find out if our little one is a boy or girl!

i’ve learned that my energy goes up and down day by day or week by week. some nights i’m content sitting in bed with the kindle and other nights i’m working on school stuff or slowly finishing blog posts. my belly seems to be twice as big as it looked last tuesday!

sometimes i feel homesick and miss our family back east. i feel like we’re going through a big journey and sadly our parents won’t witness very much until our child arrives. but i am thankful for my coworkers (most of them are moms) and all of you in the bloggy blog world. everything i needed to know about a modesty washcloth i learned from indi adams!

i haven’t felt the baby “move-move”— i think he or she has gently poked me a few times. my best friend said she didn’t feel her son until almost 21 weeks so i’m not too worried yet.

should we do something fun for the gender reveal? it will be a long distance reveal for our family. share your ideas in the comments.

lovely tuesday: 18 weeks

hello blog friends! today is the last day of my 18th week. it’s funny because the last time i journaled about my pregnancy, i felt less tired. this time i feel tired again, especially in the afternoons after work. i’m guilty of taking a catnap as soon as sophie is walked and fed.

i’m starting to develop a noticeable bump. my maternity pixie pants fit better and i don’t have to hike them up as much during the day. i can still wear all of my dresses but some of my skirts are too small. coincidentally i bought a new skirt from madewell and my stomach popped out the day after it arrived. boo! but i’ll save it for later.

michael’s mom sent us a bunch of his old school pictures and his baby scrapbook. he was a small baby— five pounds and some change! i was a small baby, too. now i want to make a nice book when the baby is born. good thing i started journaling. :o)

p.s. congratulations to indiana who gave birth to a baby girl yesterday. sending much, much love to your family!

lovely tuesday: 17 weeks


after my initial appointment in january, the doctor’s office gave me a slew of magazines and books, and most of them recommended keeping some type of baby journal. i thought, baby journal?! i have enough trouble updating the blog on a daily basis. but i tried. for a few days i wrote or drew in a hardcover journal. then i forgot for a week and felt guilty about the empty pages.

i decided to journal via the blog, and today i’ll share the first official entry. y’all will keep me accountable, right?

this morning i had another check-up and listened to the baby’s heartbeat again. some moms say it sounds like a galloping horse; it’s a whoosh-whoosh kind of noise. i secretly think it sounds like sophie’s low bark when she wants something but we won’t give it to her.

i wear paige maternity jeans and tee shirts a lot. the weather has been unseasonably chilly and wet, but with the time change, i’m looking forward to afternoon outfit photos! my bump is small; i get a lot of “you’re pregnant? really?” comments.

we haven’t bought anything for the baby besides a little pair of velcro cowboy boots (perfect for a boy or girl). i made a wish list with basics like a portable crib, swaddle blankets, and changing table. when we find out the gender, i plan on thrifting tons of clothes!

so that’s about it. maybe michael will take me out for a cheeseburger this weekend…

lovely tuesday: baby love

stop the press: i’m gonna be a mama! before christmas, we found out that we were expecting a little one, and we felt excited and terrified all at once. our lives will never be the same. there will be more love, more messes, more giggles, and more adventure, and we can’t wait.

tomorrow i’ll enter my second trimester (14 weeks); so far, so good. i haven’t had morning sickness but i’ve been eating a lot more than usual. i felt super duper tired in january (hence my sporadic blogging). my energy is finally starting to come back and i’m cooking dinner, staying up past 8:30, and doodling again.

the little one is due in august, and we’re grateful for the well-wishes and prayers from our family and friends. i can’t lie: i’m personally thankful that i still fit into my madewell dresses. fingers crossed these a-lines will continue to agree with me. and i am totally going to thrift the best stuff for the baby, just you wait.

p.s. an extra special thanks and hugs to kelsey and eric (of words of williams) who sent the smallest and cutest moccasin boots ever.

lovely tuesday: book nook

in one of my favorite seinfeld episodes, jerry laments, ”what is this obsession people have with books? they put them in their houses like trophies. what do you need it for after you read it?”

michael and i have owned these bookcases forever (meaning at least six years). when we lived in an apartment, they stood against a wall in the bedroom. when we moved into our house, we lined them up at the end of our living room. we painted the walls dark just for the bookcases. but i never put a chair near them.

over thanksgiving, i began our book nook project by updating some of the decor on our bookcases and adding a comfortable place for reading. what a difference a chair makes— i actually sit by the window and read (or check instagram).

i prefer two styles of bookcases: the eclectically cluttered or the extremely sparse. our shelves are quite busy, and i don’t mind. i arrange the books in color families with matching objects. we also display drawings, a few photographs, and pugs, lots of pugs!

the green bins on the bottom hide my husband’s comic books and corral board games that we don’t break out enough. one day i’d love to replace the chair with a chaise so i can relax and read or relax and nap, whichever happens first.

lovely tuesday: the capturing of joy











we got married in october, and the day flew by like a whirling dervish of nerves, excitement, and affection. there are many things i remember: how i planned to paint my fingernails and completely forgot, how my best friend and brother-in-law climbed tables to help hang garlands, how my parents walked two blocks with me to the church, and more.

when we received our wedding photos from nathan russell and his wife amy, we were given a second chance to relive that beautiful day. michael and i poured over the photos like two young children going to the movies for the very first time. we wanted to sit down with candy and popcorn and watch the picture show again and again.

today i share some of our favorite snapshots. there is a dress hanging serenely in a hallway, a bouquet waiting to be held, and an unimpressed pug longing for a snack. there are our musicians: my brother who played guitar as i walked down the aisle, and our friends’ beautiful daughters who performed at the church. there is the clutch of a mother’s hand and a small wedding party, sitting on steps as onlookers wave and cheer. and there is a husband and wife.

a good photographer can capture a smile, a kiss, and a couple. but it takes a great photographer to capture joy. thank you nathan and amy for capturing all of our joy— you are great.

collage by me. photos by nathan and amy russell.

lovely tuesday: the most important words

the wedding book (i.e. a small journal) will always hold our wedding vows. we worked with our friend (an ordained minister) on other aspects of our ceremony, but we wanted our vows to be our own.

if you search wedding vows or wedding ceremony you’ll find thousands of little snippets and thousands of full samples. if you’re not picky, you can copy and paste a wedding ceremony in less than two minutes. we used a traditional outline (processional, prayer, music, vows, and exchange of rings, recessional) but personalized it with the addition of a buddhist wedding prayer and a song performed by our close friends’ children.

weeks before the wedding, we began to piece together our vows to each other. i remember michael asked, “what are the guidelines?” we decided on “not too long”, “not too silly”, and “nothing embarrassing.” mainly we agreed on “the most important words”— kind and loving words to share about each other in the presence of the dearest people in our lives. on the morning of the wedding, michael copied his vow on the first few pages in the book, and then i skipped a couple and wrote mine.

at the church, michael spoke first, and then i did. though smiling, we fought back tears. our ceremony and the echo of the words sit unmoving in my memory. i am not sure if i will ever digest the beauty; it feels like time stood still.

if you’re thinking about writing your own wedding vows, i encourage you to simply try. find a quiet place on a weekend afternoon and jot or type what you feel in your heart. the words may not be perfect the first time (or fifth time) but the words you want will show themselves eventually. good luck! if all else fails, google.

lovely tuesday: in the paper


when i told michael i planned to design our wedding invitations, he said, “of course you are. we wouldn’t have it any other way.” i didn’t have any previous experience making stationery, but as you know, i love to draw, and that seemed like a good enough reason.

magazines, planners, experts, and oprah will tell you that an invitation sets the tone for your wedding. metallics and scripts work well for black tie and rustic touches are perfect for outdoor parties. michael and i wanted something personal, pretty, and down-to-earth, so i settled on an illustrated, handmade combination.

i drew the artwork, placed the type, and printed the cards on eames canvas paper before carefully cutting them with an x-acto knife. i mounted the invitation on a kraft card and wrapped the entire set with baker’s twine, a paper shape (all the shapes were different; they ranged from vintage keys to little messages to birds), and a metal initial of the guest’s last name.

after we sealed the envelopes, i hand-lettered everyone’s mailing addresses. all i can say about that step is: ooowwwww my hand and thank goodness i bought a lot of white pens.

looking back, i probably should have worked with an online printer like vistaprint or a local copy shop. the process seems effortless in a photograph. there were many times i felt annoyed and overwhelmed with the computer, our printer, the paper, the dimensions, the decorating, etc. doing-it-yourself isn’t always easy, but the experience is worthwhile. i had a pep in my step as i carried them in a bushel basket to the post office!

we absolutely adored the final invitation and so did our family and friends. today i share our invitation with you as a small glimpse of our wedding day and my stubborn, creative brain.

this post is my first wedding reflection. stay tuned for a few more.

lovely tuesday: art room











thank pinterest for gallery walls. before the pinning craze, i would have defined gallery walls as “walls in gallery” the same way a celebrity would refer to walmart as “a store for walls.” now i know a gallery wall refers to pictures arranged nicely in a group.

our gallery wall has been a work in progress since we moved into our house. we quickly decorated the living room in shades of green, grey, white, and black, but we left the largest wall blank. i wanted a wall with maps, but it took awhile to find the right maps and complimentary pictures. three years later, our art room is finally complete.

some gallery walls are symmetrical and others are arranged in a carefree manner. michael and i both liked the idea of having similarly sized frames with different images. we bought our large world map, map of paris, map of rome, and feather prints from home goods. the maps have blue and green color schemes and match our living room decor. the feathers are neutral but their dark frames add contrast to the rest of the wall.

i designed our compass print and paper dolls (both available from my studio) and displayed them in twin, metallic frames from tj maxx. i bought the little chickadee lithograph and embroidered map of virginia at the thrift store. if you’re an avid thrifter, you’ve had those magical days when you feel like you were supposed to find something. that’s how i feel about the virginia piece; it’s my home state and the place where we met. after our wedding, i plan on sewing one of our cake toppers (a crochet heart) onto the wooden embroidery hoop.

my favorite thing about gallery walls is that all of them look different and personal. you can use a template to help arrange the gallery, but the content of the frames— whether they are photographs, doodles, children’s art, objects, or posters— is entirely up to you. two of my favorite gallery wall artists are jen (of jen loves kev) and lauren kelp.

lovely tuesday: you are loved


next month, michael and i will get married! i’m so excited about seeing our family and friends; many of them will travel across the country for the special occasion. we’ve got the major cities covered: los angeles, chicago, atlanta, philadelphia, and washington, d.c.

when we first met, we didn’t plan on falling in love, and we certainly didn’t plan on moving to big bad texas, far away from the states where we grew up. i mailed our invitations over the summer, feeling apprehensive about how many cards we would actually get back.

but they arrived in the mail, slowly but surely. there’s that old saying of your presence is a present. as cliché as it sounds, it’s true. as we approach our wedding day, we feel blessed and excited that the very most important people in the whole world will be there with us.

today i am reminded that being loved is enough. to our guests, you are loved, too.

photograph by me. printed flag by natural life.

lovely tuesday: neighborly


michael and i both grew up in rural areas where someone’s driveway ranged from being a few hundred feet to almost a mile long. we went to college in cities and then lived in apartments in the suburbs. we never had a neighborhood until we moved into our house.

our next door neighbor is very outgoing; she can rattle off the names of everyone who lives on our street. she tells me which kids play what sports and which dogs belong to what house. in case you’re wondering, we’re an island of pug in the sea of shih tzus.

i try to be polite. i say hello to people i see on walks and drive slowly when the skateboarders are out. once i left a bag of big dog bones at our mail stoop for other dogs because they were too large for sophie (she didn’t think so).

this summer i left something different. i stuck some woven friendship bracelets in a baggie and scribbled HAPPY SUMMER! michael told me i was silly for leaving the bracelets.

but they disappeared one or two at a time. then i found an unexpected note for me!

i think it’s important to be kind to your neighbors even in small ways. so say hello, what’s up, how are you, i’m fine, too. you don’t have to be their best friend. just be friendly, and you might find someone who wants to be neighborly, too.

lovely tuesday: wedding colors

i’m proud to report that our wedding plans are in full swing— we finalized our venue, caterer, and menu. most of my crafty projects now revolve around a mix-and-match french picnic theme chosen for the reception.

i chose our wedding colors based on a late summer palette. although we’re getting married in october, autumn in texas is much warmer than fall on the east coast. the tan is for wood tones and the poppy is for punch. ivory is just a basic, versatile color that never goes wrong.

these colors aren’t our absolute favorite swatches nor do they signify anything important to our families. red is a wedding color in many asian cultures but brides also wear metallics. i picked them because they seemed friendly and looked nice together.

how did you choose your wedding or party colors?