Category Archives: Lil bit about me

Hello, Fall! And a little more…

It’s officially fall!  Woo hoo!

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Everywhere I look, there are signs of fall…pumpkin spice everything, boutiques stocking up on warm colors, a chilly breeze in the mornings and the leaves on the trees are losing just a bit of their vibrancy as they begin to change from lush green to warm shades of red, gold, orange, purple and yellow.  I love it!

And even though these are signs that the year is winding down, I feel like it’s just starting for me.  Is it the same for you?

Fall is the start of so much – school, football season (Go Gators!), party season (we have tons of birthdays and holidays in the fall! Not to mention block parties and town festivals!).  Then there are the visits to corn mazes and pumpkin patches, and all the fun stuff that happens in the fall. And that crispness in the air after the muggy hot summer gives me a new lease on life.

For me, the start of fall ushers in a whole bunch of fun memories.  My husband and I met in the fall, and our kids (and even our dog!) were born in the fall.  We moved into our house and amazing neighborhood in the fall, which was the start of our ‘family’ life together.

And this year, fall also means a new start to The Teal Magnolia.  After a tiring pregnancy and giving myself plenty of time to settle into being a family of 4, I am ready to get my creative juices going again and give my sewing machine a little more love.

For starters, coffee cuffs!

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I figured that I’d start back up with the product that got me started in the world of handmade.  Plus, with all the fall lattes going around, what better way to stake claim to yours? Don’t forget that these also fit different types of cups, including pint glasses and party cups (depending on the style), so don’t forget to bring yours along to those football parties, block parties and Oktoberfests. Seriously, these are awesome on pint glasses.

So if you have a chance, stop by my online shop and check them out.  I’ll be adding more products bit by bit.

I hope fall is as exciting for you as it is for me.  What’s your favorite part of fall?

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Baby Girl Nursery Show and Tell

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Get ready for a picture-intense post. I finally got around to taking pictures and writing about our nursery. I love this room.  I really do.  Sometimes, during those middle-of-the-night feedings, I try to come up with ways to get my hubby to agree to switch rooms so that this could be our master bedroom.  No joke.

I just love the soft, dreamy aqua with shades of pink and clean white.  It’s bright and fun, yet calming and soft at the same time. It’s definitely very girly but not too fussy and frilly.

But I think what I like most about it is how personal it is.  Everywhere I look, there’s something I made, or something from my childhood, or a reminder of a loved one.

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I’ve blogged about bits and pieces of it, but here’s the whole shebang put together:

First, I’m going to do a little sketch of the layout of the room (totally not to scale). When I was looking for inspiration online, I could never get a feel for the whole room because I couldn’t see the layout. And this room is kind of weird because every wall has either a door or a window, plus an air vent that blows directly where most people would put a crib or bed, so furniture placement is a little tricky.

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Looking to the left when you first walk in is the wall of quotes that I blogged about here.  Right in front of it, tucked into the corner, is the glider that I redid with the quilt that came with the crib bedding thrown on top.  I kept the window simple – it has a pink curtain that’s supposed to block out light, but all it does is make the room glow pink, which I don’t mind too much.  Because pink is awesome. {Did I ever mention that I had a pink wedding cake back when nobody did any color at all on wedding cakes? yeah…I luv me some pink}

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Next to the window is the changing table and hutch that I spruced up (see this post). My little girl absolutely loves it and spends her diaper changes trying to touch the dots.  Let’s hope the sealer I used can stand up to baby fingernails!

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I filled the shelves with all sorts of things that make me smile.  Most of the stuffed animals were mine, including the purple and yellow ‘hazmat’ rabbit that I got when I worked with a fire department and did a ride-along with the hazmat (über cool firefighter slang for hazardous materials) unit for a day.  I also have the last pair of pointe shoes I used when I danced, a ceramic poodle that used to be in my bedroom when I was little, a little acorn that my son picked up for his baby sister on a walk, the wire bicycle that held flowers that were delivered to us when we had her, a bejeweled Eiffel tower coin bank, and a bunch of other things that make me smile, as well as the useful stuff: diapers and wipes, lotions and potions, etc.

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If you keep spinning towards the right, you see the crib. The poor embattled crib that barely survived my son’s teething days (cosmetically, of course. it’s still sturdy and super safe).  Why didn’t anyone tell me about teething guards?

The bedding was the inspiration for the room.  I was having such a hard time finding anything that I liked.  Everything was princess, flowers, PINK or just not right. Then I saw this and fell in love with it.  It’s Pixie in aqua by My Baby Sam.  I love paisley, polka dots, pink and aqua, and shazam! there it was – my favorite patterns and my favorite colors in one set.  It’s like the nursery gods smiled upon my soul.

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Above the crib, I hand-painted a pink frame with swirly edge, hoping for kind of a parisian-ish metal street sign kind of vibe. It’s a simple design, but I am so proud of it. There was no template or guide. Just imagination, a ruler, some chalk, painting supplies and nerves of steel. Inside the frame are letters spelling her name that I got from www.craftcuts.com because I got it in my head that I wanted all lower-case letters with a serif and those aren’t sold at craft stores. I’m a font nerd, by the way.  Their customer service is awesome and helped me figure out what size I needed, and even double checked with me after I placed my order to make sure that I was getting what I wanted.

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I decided to bypass the traditional mobile and make some pom poms in different sizes to match the room and as a nod back to the polka dot motif in the bedding. I cut about a million and a half circles folded them up, hot glued them onto foam balls and then fluffed them.  I used fishing line and command hooks to hang them.

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The final wall is pretty bare. It has three prints of very chic ladies in some of my favorite cities in the world.  I wanted to add a bit of a world-traveler vibe to the room, and loved these prints.  I love looking at those during those night-time feedings and thinking back to when I visited those cities and how I hope she’ll get to see them someday (and hopefully take her mama along!). That part of the room is pretty bare right now, but I foresee there being a little art table there or maybe a ballet barre or a dress-up area there in the future.  For now, the fluffy white lamb play mat will do.  And that’s cool, because I love it.

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The final piece that I want to share is the lighting.  My grandmother let me have one of her chandeliers from her house before she passed away last summer and my in-laws completely took it apart, cleaned it, replaced any hooks and wires (as well as the actual electrical wiring) that needed to be replaced, painted it and put it back together.  I love love love love love it.  Not only does it remind me of my grandmother, but it is so pretty and sparkly and adds so much to the room.

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Well, there it is.  My little baby girl’s room. I put so much heart and soul into it, and even though she may not appreciate it, I love being in there.  I still have a couple of things I want to add, and of course, things will change as she grows, but I’m pretty proud of how it turned out.

Paint colors (all from Behr)
Walls: Adriatic Mist
Hutch backing: Poetic Princess (and plain white acrylic paint for the dots)
Frame for letters on the wall: Palace Rose

Coming Full Circle

I’ve seen a lot online about baby/pregnancy loss lately.  I love how there is so much support for moms who go through that. I don’t usually talk about my loss because I guess I feel that even though it’s something that changed who I am, and it’s something I think about almost every day, I don’t feel like my loss was as bad as some of the stories I’ve heard of, so I don’t really talk about it.  I was just a couple of days away from my first ultrasound when I woke up spotting.  At a doctor’s appointment that day, an ultrasound showed the baby had no heartbeat.  But this post is not about the loss.  It’s about where I’ve been since that sad day just over four years ago.

Today, I had an OB checkup. My last one at 40 weeks and two days.  The next time I see the doctor, I’ll be in labor or getting induced.

After getting a weight check (I lost two pounds since last Thursday – how the heck did that happen?!?!), I followed the nurse to a patient room.  It’s the best in the office – it’s bigger than the others, and has two windows that allow bright sunshine to pour in.

I hate that room.

It’s the room where I had the ultrasound that showed the baby with no heartbeat.  The room where I learned that I was losing my baby.  I am never comfortable in this room.

But today, it changed for me.  Yes, that room brought back some sad memories for me, but look at me now.  I’ve come full-circle. Cracking jokes with the doctor and learning about the latest news in obstetrics.  Past my due date with my second child.  Two healthy pregnancies, one healthy child, and hopefully another healthy child that I’ll get to meet in the next few days.

If someone had told me I’d ever be happy to step into that room again, I would have flat-out laughed in their face.  I just remember how sad I was back then, and how unsure I was of everything.  Was there something wrong with me? Was I ever going to be a mom? Will it happen again? How many times?

I am putting this out there because I remember how scared and sad I was back then, and feeling like I would never have a baby and not having anyone to really talk to about it.  I know there are so many people out there that don’t feel like they’ll ever get through that nightmare.  And unfortunately, the truth is that not everyone will.

But so many people do.  So many of us have had a loss and become stronger for it, and gone on to have the families we’ve always dreamed of.  And I wanted to share that.  Because maybe…just maybe…I’ll be able to reach someone and give them a little bit of hope, because that is something I would have given anything to have at that point in my life.

The Happily Ever After

Last week, my hubby and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary.  Ten years.  A whole decade.  And we’re still happy and in love.

I remember when I was little, we were flying to Florida for a family vacation and at the gate, there was an old man holding flowers, waiting for someone.  All of a sudden his eyes lit up, and a little old lady came up to him.  They kissed.  It was a passionate, “I am so happy to see you, my love” kind of kiss.  The type that should be on the cover of Time magazine.  They walked to baggage claim holding hands and leaning into each other.  And I was shocked.  I’d never seen that kind of passion in people older than high-school age (except maybe for my grandparents, but in a much more proper manner).  But I remember thinking “I want that someday.”  Maybe they were newlyweds, and not the life-long partners that I’ve thought them to be, but still, it’s given me something to shoot for.

It strikes me that that’s not always the case.  So many people get divorced, and a lot of people who are married aren’t really happy in their relationship.  I hate to admit this, but until the past few years, I didn’t think long, happy marriages were possible. It seemed to me that if people stayed together they just kind of settled into a comfortable partnership – a ‘good enough’ scenario.   Except for a couple of oddball marriages that I thought were just pure luck, it wasn’t until I began working at a church when I moved up to NC that I started seeing these life-long happy, loving marriages as true possibilities.  I began to ask the secrets to a long and happy life together every time I got the chance.

On our recent flights, we met some great people and the subject of marriage came up.  On the first flight, we met an older man who was taking some of his family to Europe as a birthday present to his granddaughter (lucky lucky girl). He began asking us about, well, us and of course how long we’ve been married.  He said his secret is to never go to bed angry, always listen to each other, and to let faith in your marriage.  Pretty much the same thing that the old couples at my church job have told me, although I have to say I’m not sure I agree with the ‘don’t go to bed angry’ thing.  I think there’s a point where you need to say “Baby, I’m not happy about this, but I love you and we’ll get through it.  Not tonight, but we need sleep so we can talk with a clear head.”

Then there’s the school of thought that makes me giggle and say “Damn right!”  Like the man we met on the flight back.  He is a two-star general in the Army, in charge of some heavy-duty stuff that keeps our country safe and keeps it moving forward.  He shared with us a lot of his thoughts on raising a family.  He really opened my eyes to being more strategic and goal-oriented with our kids and with ourselves.  He and his wife periodically go through a goal-setting process, where they separately write down goals in different areas of life and then come together to discuss their goals, how they fit together as a family unit, and how they can support each other in their personal goals.

But his keys to a happy 28 years of marriage (and where I mentally said “Damn right!” and fist-pumped) are:

 1) “Happy wife, happy life” and

 2) “Yes Dear.”

He said once he figured that out, his life has been much, much better.  Talk about a wise man.

All jokes aside, I think there’s definitely something to that.  I strongly believe in women’s intuition.  Traditionally, women may not have been as educated or accomplished as their husbands, but women tend to kind of run things, whether men know it or not, right?  We have a sixth sense about things that I’m willing to bet are right nine times out of ten.  And it seems to me that the happiest relationships, especially when I look at the older couples where women weren’t as ‘powerful’ as men, it’s those relationships where they treat each other as equals, and where the man really values his wife as an intelligent, critical part of his life where there’s that true spark that stands the test of time.

The key seems to be communication, but perhaps more than that.  There’s some sort of intangible give-and-take, not just talking and listening, but taking to heart what is being shared.

The couples I see that are happy after decades have genuine concern for each other.  They wait for each other, open doors for each other, hold hands – even when their hands tremble.  When they are apart for more than a few minutes, you can see them looking out of the corner of their eye to see if their partner has come back.   You can see there’s true respect, admiration, concern and love for each other.  You can see a lifetime of shared experiences, both good and bad that have entwined them into one solid unit, not just people that have shared a house for a few decades.

I’m still not sure how much of that is luck and the stars aligning when you meet someone, and how much is hard work and commitment to your relationship.  But I have every intention of finding out how to get that happily ever after.

What do you think are keys to a good marriage?

A milestone.

I’m really dating myself with this post, but here it goes.  Today, I’m celebrating ten years of being a Gator grad.  I’m also consoling myself.  I mean, how can I be ten years out of college?  Am I that old?  I really feel like I just graduated college, but then again, it seems like a million years ago that I strolled through campus as a student, trying to avoid the Hare Krishnas and other religious representatives/preachers on the Plaza of the Americas – a task as futile as trying to avoid the hot Florida sun.

But I have to be thankful.  This sounds so cheesy, but being a Gator grad is one of the biggest achievements of my life.  The academics at UF are top-notch, and they make sure you know it and make you work hard for that degree, which in the end makes you a stronger person, ready to take on the tough stuff life throws at you.  I am always surprised when I mention the term ‘weed-out class’ and get blank stares from people, as if it’s a new concept to them.  Do other schools not have these?  Regardless, it’s not just the education that made my college experience so amazing and memorable.  It’s the whole package.  I mean, a top academic school and a top party school all in one?  Talk about the best of both worlds.

I guess my college years weren’t all that unusual.  I’m sure my experiences were the same as many people’s – football games, sorority rituals and socials, frat parties, hanging out with my best friend whether it was going out dancing or staying in and baking, trying not to get chomped by alligators when canoeing at Lake Wauburg, doing a PR research project at a prison for men with deep psychological issues (read: violent rapists), waking up every football game day to Jimmy Buffet’s greatest hits thanks to some awesome alumni with a decked out orange-and-blue RV who tailgated a few feet from my apartment (no sarcasm here – it’s one of my favorite game day memories and to this day, listening to Buffet transports me back to energy-packed Saturday mornings in Gainesville), Friday afternoons on the front lawn at The Swamp, meeting my husband at The Swamp and our first kiss after the Homecoming game, being on the UF Dance Marathon staff and helping out Children’s Miracle Network while getting to meet some amazing Miracle kids, being on the Gator Growl staff and seeing all the backstage stories as they happen (like a popular comedian with major stage fright who thought he was signing up for a college-town gig and not an 85-thousand seat stadium show and didn’t realize it until he showed up to campus), the privilege of working as a public information intern for the fire department during the Sept. 11 attacks and being able to see a completely different side of our firefighters than most people get to see (I still get chills when I think of looking at my fire department pager in the middle of class on Sept. 11 and seeing ‘The Pentagon has been hit’ come across it), almost failing statistics because of the professor who was obsessed with Star Wars and all his tests were one long Star Wars story that I didn’t understand (and then after every problem, he put ‘Thank you sir, may I have another’ – no joke)…

I could fill the entire Internet with memories of my days at the University of Florida – memories that have shaped who I am.  I never thought I would carry my college years with me as close to my heart as I have.  In the past decade (eeks!) since graduation, I’ve noticed that there’s something different about Gator grads that I just don’t see in other alumni.  There’s a certain level of boastful pride that is part of a Gator’s DNA – I think it has something to do with our bold and boastful school colors (which I love dearly).  It’s like the Orange and Blue seep into your blood and change you. Being a Gator stays with you the rest of your life.

Everywhere I go in the world, I not only see fellow Gators, but actually get greeted by “Go Gators!” – and often a Gator chomp. Seriously, this has happened to me in every country I have visited, no matter how remote I am, and  my husband has encountered the same thing in his business travels which have taken him even further abroad than I’ve been.

Even here living in North Carolina, I can’t believe how many times I’ve been honked at while driving just to see someone hanging out their car window giving me the Gator Chomp.  It was so nice to see so many Gators the day I moved up.  It made this state that I had never stepped foot in seem a little more like home right away.  I’m lucky to have a welcoming alumni group that prides itself on serving the community as much as being the social Gators we were born to be.   It’s kind of cool to know that there’s this whole slew of people who get it, who know what it’s like to be a Gator, even though we’re so far from the sunshine state and Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Perhaps my attachment to my college days is a bit much.  Perhaps it’s normal. Perhaps I’m just nostalgic and my pregnancy hormones are raging.  I don’t know.  But chances are that if you’re a Gator, you get it.  So today, I’ll be celebrating and consoling myself on a decade of being a UF grad.  This week, my twitter and Facebook feed have been bombarded by graduation messages, and while I’m excited for the new crop of Gator grads to join the world, I’m also a little melancholy that I’m one more year removed from that time in my life when I learned so much, not just about books, communication law (which has got to be massively different by now) and PR strategy, but about myself and who I want to be and who I became thanks to my years at the University of Florida.

PS – I decided to treat myself in this milestone with this charm for my Pandora bracelet so I can make this bittersweet day more sweet than bitter. It’s the little things in life, right? 😉