Hey November, I See You

It’s been a while since I have blogged over here and it’s something I really enjoy so I’m setting the goal again of blogging more often! I feel like all I have done in 2017 is alternate between working and having surgeries. 2018 is going to be a better year, I’m determined!

This week has been one of those weeks where I felt like I just can’t handle everything on my plate. My husband originally assured me that he wouldn’t be leaving town for work this month, so I booked up a bunch of seasonal mini sessions. Of course, as it usually happens, plans change and things come up and he had to leave after all. I opened up my Facebook this morning and saw in my memories of past years on this week that it seems this week has been my most difficult week every year for the past several years. Four years ago, my husband was gone and our son came down with an ear infection and roseola. As a first time mom, I almost lost my mind. Three years ago, I had a D&C for one of the babies we lost. Last year, my boys and I collectively lost our minds because doing photo mini sessions while my husband was unexpectedly out of town pushed us to the brink of a collective breakdown (my older son was sobbing that he couldn’t handle hearing other people’s babies crying any more in my photo studio….mini sessions can be super stressful for everyone!). This week, my younger son came down with the wonderful ear infection/roseola combo that his older brother had. Thankfully as a more experienced mom this time around, I was able to handle it without completely freaking out, but it was still pretty stressful. I had to cancel a photo session for the first time in years and it kind of broke my heart.

I realized this morning it was a red lipstick kind of day. Something about throwing on some bright lipstick when things are super stressful always seems to make me feel better. My older son loves red and so he wanted to take a cell phone picture of me on our way out to school this morning. This is my favorite red lipstick, from the Kylie lip kit. It stays on most of the day which is great when you’re a busy mom! So here I am, in all our chaos this week….trash cans falling over in the street and everything lol. I’m always a bit jealous of young hip bloggers who have boyfriends who can take amazing photos of their outfits all the time. Maybe I can get back into blogging more with the help of my little 4 year old photo assistant! πŸ˜‰ He actually has been a great help lately with some of my recent sessions so it will be a fun way to document his learning process with photography.

I used to be like Carrie Bradshaw in my younger days….always in heels, coming up with crazy creative outfits, and usually had an entire room as a closet. Now that I’ve become a mom, things have changed so much. My former closet room in our current house is now our boys’ play room. Our house actually has no closets, so I was forced to pare down to just what can fit in an armoire. It was a bit heartbreaking the day that I realized that my pre-pregnancy clothes were never going to fit again. My hips and ribcage are wider now, which was to be expected given the fact that I’m barely 5′ tall and each of my boys were big babies in the 9 pound range at birth! So I started over and planned out a capsule wardrobe that will work with my lifestyle now. It’s pretty hard to chase a toddler in heels, so most of those had to go (I kept the best ones though of course). I actually really love my capsule wardrobe now though. I can grab a few things in a rush and pretty much everything always looks good together, no matter what I grab.

This outfit has a few of my favorites. Black skinny jeans from the petite department last year from Ann Taylor (I worked there back when I was in college and their petite options are always one of my favorites). Grey tee is the whisper soft tee from Madewell. I have several of these, stripes, black, white & grey and they are my favorite tees. Chambray top was from H&M (last year I think?) and I love it because even though it’s not a petite size, it was shorter in length than others I tried and didn’t overwhelm my frame. The tiny bit of stretch in the fabric helps too.Β The trick for pulling off a layered look when you’re super petite is making sure most of the layers are fitted. The sweater is one of my favorites and was actually from Motherhood Maternity a couple years ago (and I think I even was wearing this sweater in my last outfit post, which was about two years ago!). I loved getting a few maternity pieces that will work well even postpartum (truth…I wore my pregnancy jeans long after my boys were born, until they were falling off me lol).

I stopped carrying my favorite vintage Louis Vuitton purse after my boys were born because I always need a free hand. Then recently I realized this vintage strap from my great-uncle’s camera bag made the perfect attachment strap for my purse. Now this purse is back in the rotation! Sunglasses are my favorite go to from Gucci (bought last year I think). My ring was actually an amazing find in our garden and it appears to be an antique ruby, which is amazing! I jokingly tell my husband that I’m also now married to my garden. The shoes are not my favorite and I am looking for a replacement for them lol. I love the style of them, but they are falling apart already with less than a year of light use so I definitely don’t recommend them (they were from Target and I’m sorry but I just don’t have the infatuation with Target that most moms seem to have). They were an impulse purchase and need to be replaced soon for sure. I’m also carrying my favorite Kate Spade coffee mug (ordered from Nordstrom), which I usually always have with me lol.

Back when I was in fashion school, I remember one of my teachers telling us that there are two areas to splurge on for quality…shoes and sunglasses. Cheap shoes can be bad for your feet, and cheap plastic sunglasses can break and cut your face if you’re in a car accident. I laughed and I didn’t listen because I was a broke college student who couldn’t afford to buy nice things. I didn’t listen even though I had already been victim to a pair of cheap shoes which contributed to my fall down a flight of concrete stairs, where I ended up fracturing my spine. Several years later, I got rear ended at an intersection in my car and my face smashed against the steering wheel. My sunglasses broke and cut my undereye area. I immediately went to Nordstrom and put a pair of Dior sunglasses on my credit card. I realized then that my teacher really did know what she was talking about. Now, I would much rather have one or two pairs of high quality sunglasses instead of a drawer full of trendy ones, and just a few good quality shoes that won’t fall apart on me. Some replacements for these tan suede loafers is at the top of my Christmas wish list. πŸ™‚

Next year, this week will be better. I am going to start coming up with a plan now how to better tackle this stressful time of year!

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Adenoids, Anxiety & Advocating

I feel like the past year and a half have passed in a blur. I had good intentions of getting back in a routine of maintaining my personal blog after our second son was born, but I was too caught up with my own health problems for a bit. Several ER trips and several surgeries later and I am thankfully doing much better these days. Our baby is now 1.5 and doing well. πŸ™‚

Our older son however has been sick constantly. It’s been a nonstop battle, especially since he started preschool last year. The pediatrician kept telling me, oh kids just get sick a lot when they first start school since they aren’t used to being around so many germs. I get that, and I had heard that from so many people, but something in my gut kept telling me there was more to it than that. Prior to starting preschool, I had kept him quite active in various activities, taken him to drop in daycare when I was working, etc. It wasn’t like it was the first time he had been around other kids and their germs, yet the increasing frequency of his coughs, colds, sore throats, etc. was extremely concerning for me.

He also has always had trouble breathing even when he’s not sick, but it had been dismissed as just allergies or possibly enlarged adenoids. I was told that kids often have this problem and they usually outgrow it by the time they are 5 and not to worry. My husband had pretty severe sleep apnea in the past, and I recognized the sounds of the struggle to breathe when I would hear our son sleeping (my husband’s sleep apnea resolved after loosing a significant amount of weight). Our older son was a big chunky baby (over 9 pounds at birth, and actually big enough to literally dislocate my pelvis!), but as he got older, he’s gotten skinnier and skinnier. Now that he’s 4.5, I feel like his growth has slowed to a barely noticeable level over the past year, and he has even been losing weight over the past few months. People have started asking me if his brother and he are twins since they are getting pretty close in size. His brother is only 1.5 year old. His breathing problems have gotten worse and worse, and his appetite has diminished. His mood and his energy levels have tanked. He’s been grumpy and complaining about not feeling good all the time. He kept telling me, “Mommy my throat is sick” or “I have coughs” even when the pediatrician assured me there was nothing wrong (in those rare moments between all his constant viral infections). I have been filled with anxiety about not being able to get him to eat much, knowing he’s not sleeping well, and watching him get thinner and sick even more often. It got to the point where I could barely bring him anywhere since he was sick almost the entire summer. I knew that this had gotten out of control and this was not something he seemed to be outgrowing.

When we are new parents, we live with the anxiety for the baby’s first year, living in fear of SIDS. When they turn one, we breathe a sigh of relief, we can relax a bit at night now. With our older son though, even though I knew we technically shouldn’t have to worry about SIDS after he turned one, my worry about him stopping breathing in his sleep got increasingly more severe. I remember the first time we noticed him foaming at the mouth….he had fallen asleep in the car seat after a day in the sun (I think we had gone swimming? I remember him wearing a little baby sun hat). His chubby little cheeks swelled up as he struggled to breathe, and white foamy froth came bubbling out of his mouth. It looked like the top of a creamy latte spilling out of his little lips. I screamed at my husband to stop the car when I saw the foam in the mirror over his car seat. It never really got less scary but sadly that became the norm. I would try to wake him up if I saw the foaming get really bad, and we would try to comfort him when we would wake up in terror because he couldn’t breathe. He started having reoccurring nightmares about someone trying to hurt him when he was struggling to breathe.

We took him to a therapist for a while in large part because of the nightmares (and also because the prolonged lack of sleep was starting to contribute to some frustrating problems with attitude and lack of focus). The therapist tried to give me a guilt trip for having to cancel our appointments a few times because he kept getting sick (and also because I had to take some time off of our sessions to have three surgeries over the period of a couple of months!). She even went so far as to try to say that perhaps he was causing himself to get sick in order to get my attention. I was pretty livid at that point and we obviously did not return for any more appointments with her. I knew at that point that I had to start advocating for him, and get his breathing problems fixed, whatever was the cause, no matter what anyone said.

His nighttime breathing has been the worst. He struggles all night long, stopping completely often and foaming at the mouth a lot. We took videos of his breathing problems while he was asleep in various positions (it was worst when he fell asleep in the car seat…leaving me filled with anxiety, afraid to go on long drives). We met with the ENT/allergist who helped me significantly with my collapsed sinuses, deviated septum, and cartilage reconstruction of my nose. I had met with several ENT’s prior to finding him, and he was the only one who could actually identify what had gone wrong with my nose (some of the others had incorrectly told me it looked as though I had nose cancer). Our ENT was just as concerned as I was, and started a series of tests on the little guy to make sure that we really narrowed down the cause of his breathing problems. We took him for allergy testing, an overnight sleep study, and a brain study (the doctor wanted to make sure the head injury from his birth hadn’t triggered any neurological problems that were triggering his breathing problems). It felt like all of my free time this summer was spent driving him to appointments and tests, but it was all worth it since I finally felt like someone was taking his problems seriously and working to help us get this all resolved.

His sleep study confirmed what I’ve known all along…he has been suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. The test showed that he was stopping breathing completely every 10 minutes on average, and his oxygen levels hovered around 80% range for the entire night. He even slept “well” that night in comparison to most nights! I knew that there was no way I was going to tolerate a “wait and see if he outgrows this” approach any longer. We just had to wait a few more weeks for insurance approval and surgery center scheduling.

My anxiety reached a breaking point the other night when I realized I hadn’t heard his little struggling breathing sound for a while. His room is right next to ours and I have gotten used to listening for him at night. I didn’t hear him breathing at all and I panicked. He often sneaks into our bedroom in the middle of the night to cuddle with my husband, but he was out of town at the time. I looked around and didn’t see my son. Then I found him under the comforter in my bed, cuddled up near where I had my feet, like a little puppy dog cuddling my feet. Unfortunately I had been sleeping with pillows under my feet to take the pressure off my problems with my spinal cord (my nerves were especially raw since my husband had been gone for work a lot and I didn’t have him around to help me with the boys). I found our son’s face covered by one of the pillows, not breathing at all. I previously thought the worst feeling of my life was when they whisked him away after birth and brought him to the NICU to be evaluated by a neonatologist and a neurologist. The memory of those hours of fear and anxiety haunt me. But then when I saw his little face lying there not breathing, it was worse beyond measure. Thankfully he started breathing again quickly and I didn’t even have to do CPR or anything. My maternal instinct must have kicked in as soon as he hit a round of bad sleep apnea, or maybe his guardian angel forced me out of my exhausted sleep. Either way, I am incredibly thankful that I woke up and noticed something was wrong.

Today was finally his surgery day to have his tonsils and adenoids removed. It felt incredibly vindicating, like I’ve been waiting for this day for almost 4 years now. His throat was so swollen on the way in this morning that he couldn’t even fit his tongue in his mouth. It just hung out of his mouth like a little dog for about half an hour after he woke up. He’s in pain now and not feeling well, but we are all optimistic because the hardest part is finally behind us. He was so excited to go into his surgery because he knew how much that doctor helped me with my breathing problems, and he is excited to be able to breathe too. He woke up from surgery quite upset because he thought he would come out of surgery and right away feel better and able to breathe better. Poor sweet little guy. πŸ™‚ At the hospital they told us they were all surprised by exactly how large his adenoids were once they removed them, and they were super nasty and filled with pus.

The doctor advised that we need to closely monitor him over the next week, especially when he is asleep, so I will be dropping offline for most of the week. I am just so happy that hopefully soon my baby will be able to breathe, sleep, and eat like a normal kid again. πŸ™‚

A couple of cell phone pictures from the big day….excited to get prepped for surgery. In such good spirits! My brave little man. ❀

And his nasty adenoids/tonsils! So glad those nasty things are gone!

Happy New Year!

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One of my top New Year’s resolutions is to start blogging here on my lifestyle blog more regularly again. I used to be better about it when I only had one little guy, but since becoming a mom of two energetic little boys, this blog has definitely been one of the things that has gotten pushed to the back burner. Which is sad since it is something I really enjoy, and my favorite way to document the changes in our family, our home and our garden!

So I am back with a new plan, and determined to stick to it this year. πŸ™‚ Here are some of my other resolutions this year….

1. Take more selfies and more self-portraits with me and my boys! I used to do a ton of self-portraits with our older son and me, and then in the past year I started to have some changes in my appearance that made me self-conscious and I pretty much stopped taking photos of myself. As a professional photographer who emphasizes the beauty of capturing motherhood, it’s actually been highly embarrassing! So what happened exactly?

I’ve been having problems with my sinuses and severe allergies ever since we moved into this house and started our endless list of construction and remodeling projects. A large bump started growing inside my nose around the time my husband opened up our kitchen, and then had to leave it open for several months while he went out of town to deal with other issues. So in the meantime, I was home with attic dust streaming in for several months and my dust allergies were out of control (I was also pregnant at the time which didn’t help). I had seen several ENT’s about the bump and none were able to help me with it.

Then this past year it started getting even worse, to the point where my nose was constantly painful and started completely visibly deforming. Every time I looked in the mirror, I felt like I was looking at a stranger. I have barely been able to sleep for the past year since I was getting so little air through my nose. I finally went to see a more specialized surgeon, who had a better idea of what was going wrong. He told me that my sinuses had collapsed shut, 0% air on one side and less than 30% on the other side. As a result of the collapse, they had pushed down around the cartilage, causing the bumps and deformation. So we scheduled surgery for just after Christmas this year.

I am currently recovering from the surgery and in a lot of pain, but I am so happy that I was able to find a doctor who knew how to handle the situation. I am looking forward to being able to sleep without waking up grasping for air. I am also really excited that my nose should hopefully be looking a lot better, more like normal again. πŸ™‚

My older son LOVES snapchat. He made me install it on my phone (he’s played with it with my sister and his babysitter). He said it makes him so happy when we do snaps together. So, I have been getting started on my resolution already about getting in more photos with my boys. πŸ™‚ With my bandages, bruising and all…here we are! Having fun cuddling with my sweet boys while I recover!

2. I’m going to do more work that makes me happy, and less of the work that stresses me out. πŸ™‚ I’m not going to go into all of the details here, but I will be making some changes for my photography business this year and I am excited about it. πŸ™‚

3. Get on a regular system and schedule with our garden maintenance, and actually schedule it into my work calendar! My garden is such an important aspect of my business, and I often try to cram in gardening tasks whenever I have a bit of free time, and that leads to a very stressed out mom. We are going to be making some serious changes with that routine going forward!

4. Get more of our projects finished on our house! Certain projects have been dragging on forever around here, mostly because we never have any free time to get them completed. With my husband working outside the home Monday through Friday, and I have spent the majority of my weekend time working this past year with photo sessions, it hasn’t led to enough family time and not enough time for us to finish the personal projects we want to complete. I’ve been saying it for years but this time I mean it…I’m going to seriously start cutting down on weekend photo sessions! We also seriously need some fun time as a family all together! πŸ™‚

5. Most importantly…be more mentally and emotionally present for my family. πŸ™‚ I feel like I have been spreading myself too thin for a while and it just leaves me zapped of energy all the time. I have been working on finding ways to delegate certain tasks for my business so I am not so wiped out all of the time, and that has been helping already.

I am excited about the changes I have planned for the new year! πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading and joining me on my journey to a better year!

Giving Up Dairy, Soy & Wheat for my Babies

Both of my boys have been super colicky babies. My older son E had such severe food sensitivities that he broke out in a horrible rash and diarrhea from allergens just passing through the breastmilk from my diet, before he was eating any food of his own. My younger son F had such severe reflux that I spent pretty much his entire first six months just doing laundry because of all of the vomiting. Prescription medication helped, and so did cutting out dairy/wheat/soy from my diet again. Thankfully, I am able to reintroduce wheat into my diet again but I am still limiting dairy until he has completely outgrown his reflux.

It was really depressing the first time when I realized I needed to eliminate those foods from my diet, but it seemed easier this time around. I realized from chatting with other moms in Facebook groups about breastfeeding that this is a surprisingly common issue that lots of new moms face. My grandpa even told me recently about how my dad and my uncle were both initially allergic to dairy and soy, so my grandmother had to feed them a 1950’s formula based on dehydrated, powdered meat, which he called “meat milk”. I didn’t believe it at first until I actually found an old advertisement online! Apparently “meat milk” was a real thing as awful as that sounds!

Here are some of my favorite tips for breastfeeding moms who want to try eliminating dairy/soy from their diets!

1. Embrace coconut/almond milks. They are have so many different varieties now, it’s great! There are even almond milk coffee creamers, pumpkin spice almond milk creamer (thanks Trader Joe’s!!), and more! My particular favorite is a coconut milk ice cream sandwich from So Delicious.
2. Make sure that you eat lots of leafy greens to get enough calcium/magnesium. Talk to your doctor about taking a supplement if you feel like you may not be getting enough from your diet once you cut out dairy. I used to eat a ton of dairy and I know my calcium/magnesium intakes were initially way too low when first cutting out dairy.

3. Embrace the art of making nut cheeses! I have learned that it is a lot of fun to make nut cheese! It comes out similar to goat cheese in texture and there are so many ways you can alter it! The key is pre-soaking the nuts for a few hours (I like cashews or macadamia nuts), then mixing in a food processor with a bit of water, lemon juice, and any herbs/seasoning you would like to mix in.

4. Skip the fake cheese/fake pizza substitutes. They are never satisfying in the same way, and you end up feeling cheated. Learn to appreciate fresh ingredients, and your cravings will adjust accordingly with time. πŸ™‚

5. Try coconut aminos instead of using soy sauce! Initially, I was making a homemade soy sauce substitute that I found via Pinterest every time we went out for sushi, but that got really tedious very quickly. I recently discovered using coconut aminos instead and it has been great! I actually prefer the taste to regular soy sauce now. πŸ™‚

6. Get comfortable reading ingredient labels. Scan to the end of the list first, where they list the common allergens in bold or caps lock. Soy is in so many foods that you wouldn’t expect! I’ve had to learn this the hard way with my 3 year old son who is still unfortunately allergic to soy but thankfully outgrew his dairy sensitivity.

7. Try out some paleo cookbooks for creative inspiration! I wish I had discovered those the first time around. I recently even found some great paleo slow cooker cookbooks that have been great!

8. Most important tip…if you look at it with a different mindset of that this is a fun creative challenge, instead of viewing it as a drag and a restriction, it will make it a lot more enjoyable!

Check out some of the tasty nuts cheese crostadas that I made recently for an event I hosted for my photography business! πŸ™‚

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A Thousand Words a Picture Does NOT Tell ;)

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I thought it would be hilarious to dress up as Chip & Joanna Gaines for Halloween. I wanted to get a picture of us in front of our shiplap covered fireplace and floating shelf mantle that we worked very hard to create, very Fixer Upper style. πŸ™‚ From an outside perspective, it looked like everything was picture perfect. In reality, I just did a really good job of framing the photo to exclude all of the chaos surrounding us. πŸ™‚ Want to know the real behind the scenes story? It has been so crazy here lately that even my mom called after she saw the photo and asked how we pulled that photo off (since really only very few people know the reality around here lol).

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For most of October, our boys traded off being sick, reaching a peak in late October when Baby F came down with an ear infection in both ears, and roseola…fever spiking at nearly 105 degrees. It was beyond stressful. The boys were getting stir crazy and the house was a chaotic mess from them being stuck inside for so long. Of course it all played out when I am in the midst of the busiest time of year for photographers, when I am already stressed to the max.

We “finished” up our renovation projects on my home based studio/office during my maternity leave a few months ago (I say finished in quotes because I always seem to come up with some new crazy project idea for my poor husband). Now we are trying to focus on finishing up our crazy projects on our actual house with the little free time that we have. Things have been a chaotic mess as a result. Walls have come down, flooring is temporarily filled in with patches of awful concrete, etc. We keep trying to make plans with friends, family and neighbors but things keep coming up in the chaos and we feel like we’ve had several months of antisocial behavior as a result lol.

Previously, we had a bed in our master bedroom that we made. My husband made the bed frame, and I made the padded headboard. It seemed great in theory, until slimy toddler hands kept jumping up onto our bed and destroying my pretty satin headboard. So that looked nice for literally about a day! My husband asked me to visualize my dream bedroom and tell him what that included. I said that I have always wanted an antique white armoire and a pretty black antique style wrought iron bed frame. Literally since junior high, that is what I have been hoping to have some day. So I started searching online to find those two items. I found an amazing white armoire that I love (and happens to look really cute with the vanity I already had!), and found an adorable bed frame on sale from Target, and a beautiful white quilt from Overstock.com. I was so excited…my dream bedroom should be arriving any day via UPS! πŸ™‚ Then reality hit…..

The bed frame arrived severely banged up and damaged. The bedspread arrived in a defective size, definitely not proper king size bed measurements. I spent over four hours on the phone trying to resolve both of the issues. We ended up with a damaged bed frame in a box sitting in the middle of our living room for a few weeks while we sorted out all of the details of the mess. The big huge box was in front of our fireplace, and was driving me nuts. My mom saw the picture of us in front of the fireplace and was so confused…she immediate called and asked what happened to the big huge box and all of the mess around it lol. We literally shoved it out of the way just for the picture!

While the baby’s fever broke by Halloween, the boys were still feeling a bit under the weather and not up for a whole lot. They were being particularly crazy while I had my tripod set up for the photo above. πŸ™‚ I realized I had been working so much lately that I forgot to do laundry, and our 3 year old son E was out of clean clothes, particularly clean underwear lol. He was running around in circles while I had the tripod set up, yelling “no underwear today, woo hoo!!” Baby F is my little gardening helper (I call him Mr Green Thumb because he jumps out of bed every day, excited to come garden with me in the morning, and loves pinching/harassing all of my plants). πŸ™‚ Since F had been sick and it had been a bit cool and rainy, he hadn’t been allowed to come outside and garden for a bit. He was trying to escape out the door into the garden while we had the tripod set up lol.

Later that day, E fell asleep for a rare but much needed nap, and I finally caved and let F play with my little herb garden planter outside our front door. While he was happily pinching my basil, my husband came up with a funny idea to take a cell phone pic of him as a “sweaty” Chip Gaines. So hilarious if you know how often this poor guy is actually this sweaty on his “days off work” while he’s working on our house lol. This time it was just water though. πŸ™‚ I am thankful that I have this great man to keep me sane in the chaos of our lives. πŸ™‚ He keeps me laughing when things get challenging!

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I can’t even believe it but our sweet little Baby F is nine months old today! It is bittersweet for me as he is getting older. More of his nature loving personality is coming out, and I see more and more of myself in his personality (even though he is the spitting image of my husband!). My husband and E groan when I say it’s time for everyone to help work on the garden, but when Baby F hears me say that, he crawls as fast as he can to get outside, with a big smile on his face. πŸ™‚ I am sad because I know he will be our last baby, and after spending so much time pregnant over the course of 5 years, it is hard to believe the baby portion of our lives is nearing an end. I am looking forward to having quite an enthusiastic little partner by my side in the garden though! πŸ™‚

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I’m back! Lots of changes around here! Front of house updates….

I stopped blogging here on my lifestyle blog a while back after there were a couple of negative incidents that I just didn’t feel like dealing with anymore. Lately, I have really been missing documenting our crazy journey with our garden and our endless list of projects for fixing up our little fixer upper house. My photo studio finally feels “finished” and all of the projects in there are done, so now we are able to focus our energy on finishing up the projects in our house. We had dedicated time previously for working on our house and then projects for my studio kept coming up and our house had to keep getting pushed to the back burner.

I realized this morning that when our second son was born, apparently my URL for this blog expired and since I was in the hospital, I missed the email about renewing. I had assumed that it was set to auto renew but it was not. So now of course, someone has purchased my old domain so here I am, starting fresh with this blog, with a brand new URL, aliciainwonderlandlifestyleblog.com. I actually like this better since it helps give more differentiation between this blog and my photography blog (http://aliciainwonderlandphotography.com/blog).

So I am going to start posting some updates on what we have been working on lately! The front of our house has always driven me crazy. Our little house has had several small additions from the previous owners, and it wasn’t all necessarily done properly. The laundry room was added on, the entry room was added on at another time, and of course my office/studio area was also an addition too. Unfortunately, the way that they did everything, they used a different type of siding for each addition, and the roofing was not done well. The fascia and soffits were rotting and my husband kept starting to work on replacing it all but kept getting sidetracked with other projects and life with two little kids!

I finally couldn’t take it anymore and started trying to come up with a faster, easier way to get the exterior of our house (and my studio) looking better and less dingy and falling apart. I realized that I don’t like the look of fascia and soffits anyway, and much prefer the way the house looks with them removed! We want to eventually replace all of the siding anyway, but that is such an involved project and it means both my husband and I lining up time when neither of us is working so we can get that done. That may have to wait until next year. πŸ™‚ So in the mean time, I was tired of the dingy, ugly cream exterior paint color that we have had since we moved here. Every time we drive up to the house, my husband and I both felt this sense of YUCK when we saw that color. It was just a subtle change, but my husband went through and used a paint sprayer and gave the front a fresh coat of creamy white paint to freshen things up a bit. I am so relieved that it is starting to look better! I can’t wait until it is all the way finished, but in the mean time, this is a much better improvement! πŸ™‚

I had previously painted our front door a dark green, which I quickly grew tired of. Now it is painted a matte black and I love it. It gets dusty pretty fast but other than that, I love the color. Eventually I still want to replace the door with a craftsman style door, but for now this is okay. I loved the screen door my in-laws got for their house in Texas, so we ordered the same one (from Lowes) and I love having a wreath hanging from the screen door. Our next door neighbors have a big huge magnolia tree and I love seeing it outside our bedroom window when I wake up in the morning. It made me fall in love with magnolia flowers and leaves, before I recently started watching Fixer Upper. πŸ™‚ In the Spring & Summer, I had a different magnolia wreath on the door that I found at Michael’s and it has big pretty white magnolia flowers. For Fall/Winter, I thought this one from Magnolia Market would be nice to switch things up a bit.

I found the Texas star for my husband, and I like the HOME sign on the opposite side since it helps get rid of confusion when my clients arrive and have to figure out which door is my studio and which is our house. I love the new exterior lights since they feel kind of like a mix between industrial style and seaside cottage.

Since our house used to be a nursing home, there were handicapped ramps outside every door previously. That actually surprisingly came in handy during the periods when I needed to use a wheelchair (my pelvis dislocated/fractured during labor with our first son). Now that I am done being pregnant, my husband was excited to start smashing up the concrete ramp outside our front door. He hasn’t 100% finished that project, but it is nice that we can actually fit a real door mat now in front of the screen door. πŸ™‚ I actually bought two matching door mats, one for my office and one for our house, but then realized the one in front of our house door wouldn’t fit because of the ramp and he started demo-ing the ramp the next day while I was out. I was a bit shocked to come home and see what he had been up to while I was gone lol. We were watching a standup comedian recently on Netflix who talked about her “party goblin” and my husband and I joked that he and I each have a “Project Goblin”…we will be working on one project and then the Project Goblin will come along and say “hey the house would look so much better if you got rid of that ramp! Let’s smash stuff up now!” And so thanks to Project Goblin, we always seem to have about 50 projects going on simultaneously. πŸ™‚

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I did a front door makeover post previously (here), and the cross I had made for our door before unfortunately got smashed up by some quite rude Trick or Treaters one year. I tried to repair it, but it kept falling apart. I ended up taking the one I had made for our son’s bedroom and relocating it to the front door and I actually like this one a lot better anyway. πŸ™‚
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I had some window boxes up in the front for a while now, but realized I never posted any pictures of them. They were nothing special, just your average metal window boxes from Big Lots with coco liners. I thought they were cute at first, but they really do not hold the moisture well in the soil. I had to end up watering them every day or every other day with a little bit of water since they dried out so fast, and it started to feel like a huge burden. I absolutely love having window boxes, but started to feel like a prisoner to the house with needing to make sure they were watered so often. Since our older son has recently started preschool, I started thinking about ways I could streamline my morning routine, and watering the window boxes took up a significant chunk of time each day. My husband suggested installing a drip system emitter on each window box but I like my window boxes densely planted which mean so many tubes and emitters and it would just end up looking ugly. I was determined to find another solution!

I started looking into self-watering window boxes, and most were way out of my budget. I didn’t want to end up spending near $500 just to save myself some time and save a little water. Then I found some from Gardeners.com and they were much more affordable! I also ordered their special self-watering planter soil and got a fresh start with some new fall annuals (and some leftovers from my summer window boxes). I put in some Dusty Miller, pansies, ornamental kale, stock, along with the older geraniums, string of bananas and daisies. I am so excited with these new window boxes! I feel like it is going to save me so much stress every week…not having to worry about whether or not my window box flowers are about to drop dead because I overslept on a day when we are having a random heat wave! πŸ™‚

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Previously, I had my herb garden under the arbor in our front yard (seen in this post), but the whole thing didn’t work out as I had hoped there. Everything started getting drowned in pine needles since that spot is so close to two of our big pine trees. The little fence started getting worn out and leaning, and just looked really shabby really quickly. So I relocated the herbs elsewhere.

I like my herbs to be as close to the kitchen as possible but since there is a big pine tree right outside the kitchen door, I have to put the herbs outside other doors. I don’t want to have to walk all around the backyard to collect herbs in the dark when I am cooking dinner. I put the culinary herbs that prefer consistently moist conditions here under the laundry room window. I put all of my herbs for flavored teas in my wheelbarrow planter near the bench (actually going to be swapped out for a regular planter soon because I am tired of the “Pinteresty trash-to-treasure” look to it). All of my Mediterranean herbs got relocated alongside our patio and I will do a post once I finish revising that area soon. πŸ™‚

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Curious about the original before picture? I realized for some reason I never really took any before pictures of this area of the house, but here is a picture from the listing when our house was for sale. You can see that the planter area under the laundry room window was pretty pathetic looking before my husband added a much better edging to that area!

I blurred out part of our house number for privacy, but you can see that the house numbers were listed in quite an ugly, outdated font. They have been driving me nuts for a while and I finally ordered some new numbers (my husband hasn’t put them up yet). When I explained to him that the font on those numbers was driving me crazy, he sighed an exhausted sigh of frustration. He said, “sometimes I wish I hadn’t married a woman who has been educated in design and fonts and aesthetics. Ignorance is bliss!” I feel sorry for him with my never ending list of projects but the new numbers are going to look so much better! I can’t wait to show the finished result! πŸ™‚
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Rose Care Tips

aliciainwonderlandblog

I have had so much going on lately that I haven’t had the time to blog as much as I would like to ideally. I do however always have my phone with me, so I am making an effort to give lots of gardening tips lately with my Instagram photos of our garden You can find me at http://www.instagram.com/aliciainwonderlandphotos πŸ™‚ The photo above is an example of one of my recent garden grams!

Also, I recently discovered Periscope, which is so much fun! You can post little live broadcast videos, right from your cell phone (which can also be watched later on replay)! I just uploaded a couple of videos about how I take care of our roses, and how I use them as an important part of my diet. I am really excited about adding these gardening videos into my blogging routine. Be sure to check them out! You can watch the replay of the first one here, and the second part here. Enjoy! πŸ™‚