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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It Does Get Better!

Thank you SO MUCH for your comments on my “I Never Imagined” post. I read every single one, sometimes multiple times. I appreciate your encouragement – it gets me through the really tough days! When I was having really bad days, I’d come back and read your comments and know that someday soon things would improve.

I can’t believe how much has changed in just two short weeks! It is like someone flipped a switch in my child. He is much happier and contented. These days he *mostly* just cries when he is hungry or overly tired. My husband is also getting up with him some nights and every weekend, so I am getting more sleep as well. It’s amazing how much more calm and happy I feel with just a little more sleep!

I did go to the doctor a few weeks ago to talk about PPD (post-partum depression). I had been feeling very overwhelmed and angry. I was just mad all the time… not normal mad, but honestly filled with rage. I knew it wasn’t normal and that I needed to see someone. Military healthcare is so frustrating – I called to make an appointment and was told they couldn’t fit me in for a month. Seriously? I explained my situation and still was told that my concern was considered “preventative care” and wasn’t urgent so I’d have to wait for an appointment to open up. I had to go above the person who makes the appointments just to get in to see my doctor.

The appointment was interesting, to say the least. I met with someone new because my doctor is deployed to Iraq. I had Cooper with me because Jason was at work. He was in the sling, and when the doctor came in he was crying. She asked me what was wrong, and I explained he was hungry and proceeded to fix him a bottle. There was nowhere to sit so I sat him down on the exam table and started to feed him. She took him away from me and gave me this massive lecture about how I needed to spend more quality time with him. Apparently me not holding him that one time to feed him set off some red flag for her, because she questioned me endlessly about how much time I spent holding him and whether or not I wanted to hurt my child. After I spoke with her about how I was feeling, she said I was sleep deprived and “prescribed” me more sleep. She told me to put one tablespoon of rice cereal in Cooper’s nighttime bottle to get him to sleep for longer periods. (I’m so glad I checked with his pediatrician first because I just assume doctors know best – and rice cereal isn’t recommended for those under 4 months.) Anyway, some good did come of the appointment. I left with a prescription for antidepressants and after hearing about my appointment, Jason started getting up with Cooper some at night so I could sleep.

Several of you had told me that one random day, Cooper would start sleeping through the night, and I think he’s about there! Last Saturday he slept from 8pm until 4:30am. I actually think he would have slept longer, but I was so freaked out that he hadn’t been up that I accidentally woke him up when I was checking on him. Since then, he’s been going down to sleep between 7:30-9:00pm and sleeping until 4:00-5:00am. He eats and then goes back to sleep until 8:30am. Sometimes he will sleep longer if I put him in the bed with me.

I apologize for my lack of blogging, commenting, and responding to emails. I return to work very soon and I’m just trying to soak up as much time with Cooper as possible. My last day of maternity leave is April 5th, and I return to work on April 6th. I really do not want to leave me baby, but money for diapers and formula is a necessity, right? :)

I’ll leave you with an “OMG” moment I experienced recently. I’m honestly amazed at some of the comments that I get from people when I’m out with the baby. A few weeks ago, I was at Sam’s Club. Cooper was crying, and a lady came up to me and told me to “pull that titty out and feed that child!” Seriously. There are no words.

2 Months Old!

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Dear Cooper,

On March 14th, 2010 you turned 2 months old! I can’t believe how much you’ve grown. At your 2 month well baby check, you weighed 12 pounds and were 22 inches long. When you were born you weighed 6 pounds 12 ounces and were 17 inches long. You are a chunky monkey! You definitely take after your mommy in that respect. You also got your shots at your 2 month appointment. I was so nervous and scared for you, but you handled it like a champ! You cried for less than a minute and then went right to sleep.

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You have changed so much in just one month. You are so alert and active now! You love to smile, and you love to stare at all the world around you. I bought you an activity mat, and you love to kick your feet and swing your arms at the toys! Sometimes you have too much fun and you fall asleep on your mat.

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You are sleeping much better, thank goodness! You still get up every 3-4 hours, but you aren’t as fussy and you don’t cry nearly as much as you used to. I love to look at you sleep – you lie in the funniest positions!

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Your Ana thinks you look just like me – what do you think?

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I think you look like your cousin, Justin. Your expressions mirror his exactly!

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I am having such a blast hanging out with you every day. Every morning I sing you songs and you smile and coo. I make faces at you and you mirror my expressions. I am not looking forward to going back to work! I wish I could spend every day with you. (Sometimes you don’t love hanging out with me, however. Take the picture below, for example.)

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I feel lucky beyond belief to have you in my life. I never really understood how much your Ana loved me until I had you. Now I know how deep a mother’s love is… and I love you to the moon and back. You are so very precious to me.

IMG00274 Love,

Mommy

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Never Imagined…

There’s lots of things I wasn’t prepared for when becoming a mother. You think you know what it will be like, but you really have no idea.

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I had NO IDEA how much I would love this little man. Of course I knew I would love him, but the love I feel for him is really indescribable. I wish I could explain the feeling for those of you who don’t have kids, but I really can’t put it into words. I look at him every day and know I am blessed to have such a happy, healthy boy. And he’s MINE. I don’t mean that in a “he’s my biological child” sense but this child was a gift from God. He was given to me by God to protect and nurture for as long as he is on this Earth. He is MINE.

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I had no idea how hard parenting would be. It’s stressful beyond belief at times. When he cries, there are times when I have no clue what to do to soothe him. I get just as upset as he does when he cries. My beautiful baby is a *tad* high maintenance, and he cries a lot. There are times when I have to put him in his crib and walk away for a few minutes because I just can’t take the crying anymore.

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I had no idea how tired I would be. When I was pregnant, people said “Get your rest now because you won’t get it once he’s here!” I brushed it off then, but now I wish I had stockpiled sleep like I stockpile toilet paper. I get about 5 hours of sleep a night, and it is broken up because he is getting up so often. Fatigue impacts you in ways you don’t expect. I am not a pleasant person to be around these days.

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I had no idea how out of control my hormones would be. Man! There are times when I feel really sorry for my husband. (Not those times when I find him chanting “I love my wife. I love my wife. I love my wife.” He says he has to say it over and over sometimes to remind himself that he does love me. I’m telling you – I’m not a pleasant person these days.) One minute I’m crying and the next I’m angry beyond belief.

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I had no idea how my relationship with my husband would change. I love him so much more for being Cooper’s father. However (if I’m being brutally honest)… sometimes I hate him. My friends had warned me there would be times when I would feel this way, but I smugly thought I would be different. I’m not. I resent him for sleeping so peacefully through the night when I’m up every hour for feedings. I resent him for not hearing the baby cry when I awake at the slightest peep. I don’t understand how he can let the baby cry as if it doesn’t phase him when I am madly bouncing and pacing because the sound is wearing on my nerves. He’s a wonderful father and he does help me so much, but primary care will always fall on the mother in my opinion.

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I had no idea what an imperfect mother I would be. I was so smug and self-righteous before I had the baby. “I will never do that!” came frequently out of my mouth. Whatever. I do what I have to do to survive these days. That might mean not cleaning the house for weeks or eating takeout more than I care to admit because I don’t have the time to cook. (Again with the brutal honesty….) It also mean that I’ve yelled at my child. There are times when he’s been crying for hours. I’m home alone and I can’t do anything to soothe him. I’ve tried everything and am at my wit’s end. It gets to the point where I’m crying with him because I’m just so frustrated, and I yell at him to “Stop! Just stop! Tell me what you need!” I’ve had to put him in his crib and go shut myself in the bathroom for a few minutes because I just can’t take it anymore. I’m so ashamed of myself for doing it (he’s a baby and he’s just doing what babies do) but I’m willing to bet I’m not the first mother who has ever yelled at their child, and I won’t be the last.

At the end of the day, I had no idea how amazing this journey would be. As hard as it is, it is totally worth every tear, every frustration, and every lost hour of sleep I get.

I love this boy. He is mine.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Deep Thoughts

Today I’ve felt, all day, as if God was speaking to me. He has a message for me, and it’s time for me to decide whether or not I’m finally going to listen.

Warning: This post will be painfully real. I’ve always said that I strive to keep it real on my blog… and folks, it doesn’t get much more real than this. This post doesn’t paint me in the greatest light… I’m aware of that, and I accept it. I still need to share it.

Faith. It’s oh so easy to say you have faith, and it is much harder to live it. This has been the message that God has been sending to me for these past few weeks.

I’ve always believed in God. Throughout my life, there have been periods when I’ve been very faithful and periods when I have not. I grew up in the church, but it wasn’t until high school that I really grew in my faith. My boyfriend at the time was extremely involved in his church, and he invited me to attend with him. It was an instant spiritual connection with the church and congregation members, and I fell in love: with God, with the church, with the people. I’ve never felt as close to God or as strong of a Christian as I did in those days.

Since then, I’ve drifted. There will be times, usually of great chaos or tragedy, when I once again draw close to God. Oh yes… I’m never as “good” of a Christian as when things are going badly in my life. But as soon as things improve, I get too busy and/or distracted for God. I don’t do it intentionally by any means, but inevitably it happens.

In recent years, I’ve spent more time away from God than I have with Him. I don’t go to church. I don’t read my Bible. I only pray when I need something. Yes, you read that right. Blessings? I take them for granted. Problems and/or troubles? I’m immediately on my knees, only to rise when the problem is solved or averted.

Having a child has made me re-evaluate my life and my priorities. I want to be a better person for my son. The truth is that I don’t really like myself very much. I don’t mean that I’m not a good person but that I don’t really like the things I say and do. I hate the way I talk to my husband when I get upset. I don’t like the way I choose to react to stress or chaos in my life. I want to be different… I want to be better.

But, you see, I’ve always wanted to be different. It’s always the same song and dance: I get dissatisfied with my myself, whether it be my walk with God, my weight, my [insert noun here]. I decide to change things. I commit myself to change. I’m going to go to church! I’m going to read my Bible every day! I’m going to work out and eat right! I’ll clean my house and make it spotless every day! Two weeks or two months later, I’m back to the same old me.

When Cooper was born, things were not the perfect vision of Mommyhood that I had imagined. If you are new to my blog, read about it here. I was stressed, and I was scared. In my post, I said:

It’s so easy to say that you have faith and trust when things are going your way. It isn’t so easy when things are chaotic and out of control.

Since then, we found out that Cooper does not have CAT. His genetic testing was a false positive, and he is a healthy baby boy. His burn has healed. God has blessed me beyond measure with the health of my child. However, since that time, I’ve continued to ponder the status of my faith. It isn’t enough for me to just believe any longer – I want something more.

These feelings have been especially evident in the past two weeks. I found out recently that due to budget cuts, I will most likely loose my job, either in the next month or the next few months. This is terrifying to me. I love being a stay at home mom right now (I’m on maternity leave) but I have no idea how we’ll make things work financially without my paycheck. The worry has been plaguing me. I wake up in the middle of the night, stressing about the future. I pray daily, telling myself that I trust in God’s plan. I say that I’m ok with what happens, because it is meant to be. I talk about closed and opened doors. Deep down, though, I’m not being honest – if I really and truly trusted in God’s plan, I wouldn’t continue to worry night after night. Even though I pray for God to talk away my worries, I’m holding so tight to them that He can’t lift them from my shoulders.

Today I was browsing blogs, and Kelly at Kellyskorner wrote a blog post that blew me away. Specifically, she said:

Faith is believing the Word of God and ACTING upon it. Even the devil and the demons BELIEVE in God. It's not enough to just believe.

Wow. I have never needed to hear words as much as I needed to hear those words. It isn’t enough to say I have faith. It isn’t enough to believe. I’m not living the life I was meant to live unless my actions change as well.

So I’m putting it out there, and hoping you’ll keep me accountable. I’m not satisfied with myself or with my walk with God. I truly believe that if my walk improves, everything else will fall into place. My weight, my finances, my marriage….none of that can change until I change. It’s time.

I’m committing myself to finding a church I can attend regularly. I want to start spending time with God each day, in devotion and in prayer. I’ve purchased a Beth Moore devotional and several Beth Moore books, and I’m going to read them and apply them to my life. I want to find ways to reach out to and minister to others as well.

How about you? Is there something in your life you want to change? Are you unsatisfied with your walk with God? If you are, you are welcome to join me in this journey. If you want an email accountability partner, I’m your girl. Email me!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Baby Gear: What I Loved & What You Need

Registering for baby gear is so overwhelming. I had no clue what I needed or what products were best. My mom, aunt, and cousin all came down to help me, and it ended up being quite chaotic. Learn from my mistakes, grasshoppers. Here’s what you need to know before you leave the house:

Do your research before you leave the house. I had purchased the book Baby Bargains, which is full of product reviews and advice on what is necessary. In particular, do your research on strollers and car seats before you get to the store.

Decide where you want to register. Where will the people who will be buying you gifts want to shop? I live 3 hours away from my hometown, which is where I had my shower. Target is much closer than Babies R Us, so I registered at both places so that my guests could pick and choose where they wanted to shop.

On the flip side, don’t register at too many places. You’ll end up with multiples of items, and returns are no fun.

Check the return policy of the place you want to register. Babies R Us is pretty generous – if an item is on your registry, you can return it. I got a few items that were not on my registry that I did not need, so I went into the store, added the items, and then returned them. Easy peasy! Target’s return policy is horrendous. You really need a gift receipt to get full value for your gifts.

Do not go to Babies R Us on a Saturday to register. Just don’t do it. Trust me, there will be at least 20 other people there trying to register, and you will follow each other around the store with your scan guns like a conga line. Go on a weeknight and you’ll have the whole store to yourself.

Make sure your registry contains enough items that your guests have ample options to choose from. Don’t only register for the most expensive items in the store. There is nothing wrong with wanting an expensive stroller or car seat, but keep in mind that someone purchasing a gift alone most likely cannot afford that.

Register for everything you think you want/need. I used my registry as a guideline for what I needed, and I didn’t expect for my guests to purchase everything. Babies R Us will send you a 20% coupon once your baby is born to use to complete your registry. If you think you might want to buy it at some point, put it on your registry!

Put diapers and wipes on your registry. Some people like to purchase diapers, and it will give them an idea of what brand you prefer. You can also use your coupon later!

I was lucky enough to be gifted with some hand-me-downs from my cousin, Heather. Besides a huge Rubbermaid container of baby clothes, she also gave me an exersaucer, bath seat, Bumbo, Boppy, and jumperoo. Ask your friends who have kids if you can borrow the things their they aren’t using anymore. Most women are happy to share as long as you give the items back in good condition. Baby gear is not cheap so borrow what you can!

I’m going to share with you what I registered for, and my thoughts on the product now that I’ve been using it for awhile. My recommendations will likely be broken down into two posts, so check back later this week for part 2. Mommies, please weigh in with what you loved/hated in the comments, and I’ll add your thoughts to the second post.

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Bibs

Blankets: There are thermal blankets and there are receiving blankets. I absolutely love the thermal blankets. They are waffle weave and stretchy, and are absolutely perfect for swaddling. Receiving blankets are nice, but they shed lint like crazy in the wash, and they don’t have as much give as the thermal blankets. If you are delivering during winter months, register for plush blankets as well.

Diapers & Wipes: I love Pampers Swaddlers. They have a strip that runs down the middle of the diaper, and it turns green when baby needs to be changed. The lining has mesh, so poop sinks through the mesh and most of it does not directly touch the baby’s skin. I don’t have a preference for wipes. We’re using the Sam’s Club brand right now and they work just fine.

Car Essentials: We registered for roller shades and a mirror. The shades are great, but the mirror is not so much. I can’t even really see Cooper in it. We registered for the car seat protector mat you see above, and when we had our car seat inspected by the fire department, we were told it wasn’t safe to use with infant seats. We also purchased the Mighty-Tite car seatbelt tightener, and later found out it is not recommended for use by car seat manufacturers or car seat technicians.

Bottles & Gear: We originally registered for the Playtex Ventaire bottle system. Cooper had lots of problems with spitting up when he first came home, so I switched to old school Playtex bottles with the drop-ins at my mom’s suggestion. I love these bottles! We’ve seen a drastic decrease in spit up since we switched. I love that you can physically remove the air from the bottles by squeezing the drop in bag. I tried the Dr. Brown’s bottles, but there are too many parts for me to keep up with. Other people love them, though. Don’t forget to register for a bottle cleaning brush and formula dispenser. Also, make sure you are using slow release nipples for your newborn. I learned that the hard way! The fast release will cause your baby to choke and isn’t meant for younger babies.

Burpcloths: I love the large flannel burpcloths. I cannot stand the itty bitty rectangular burpcloths. Trust me, that will be worthless when your baby projectiles all over you. I also registered for a pack of plain cloth diapers and I use those for burpcloths as well.

Sheets: I think I registered for four sheets, and received about six. We just started putting Cooper in his crib, so I haven’t had to change the sheets yet. I know I’ll appreciate the extra sheet when I have don’t have to do a load of wash in the middle of the night.

Sheet Saver: I love these. It’s a rectangle of quilted, padded fabric that you lay under your child to protect the sheet from accidents. It ties to the crib rails to make it secure. If your child has an accident, you can just pull off the sheet saver and not have to change the sheets.

Layette: A layette is a collection of clothing for a newborn baby. I love Sleep N’ Plays, which are basically footed pajamas. If you can find zip up sleep n’ plays, buy them all! Gowns are great because you don’t have to deal with snaps or zippers in the middle of the night to change a diaper. I had a really difficult time finding gowns, though, so you may want to stock up when you find them. Bodysuits (onesies) are great for summer months. I’m not a fan of the side snap shirts because they hike up and expose the baby’s belly. I know other people love them for when the baby still has his/her umbilical cord, though.

Bath Gear: Don’t forget to register for washcloths and towels. You’ll need baby wash, shampoo, and lotion as well. Bath seats are a personal preference. My cousin gave me the seat you see above. I know other people prefer hard baths that you can use on the countertop, and I have friends who like a simple sponge. Honestly, it is easiest for me to hop in the tub or shower with the baby, but that’s just me.

First Aid & Baby Grooming: We registered for a grooming kit, and it comes with almost everything you need. It has a brush, comb, thermometer, nail clippers, medicine dispensers, nasal aspirator, etc. My pediatrician does not recommend ear thermometers so you may want to ask your doctor what he/she prefers before you buy. Some pediatricians will not accept temps taken from the ear or under the arm – they want you to take the temperature rectally. I recommend purchasing gas drops, gripe water, Tylenol, Vaseline, and diaper rash cream before the baby arrives just so you have it on hand when you need it. However, be sure to talk with your doctor about when you should use it! Tylenol in particular should not be used on babies of a certain age.

Pacifiers: I purchased one set of pacifiers before the baby arrived, and I figured I’d figure out later what he preferred. He was given a Soothie pacifier by the nursery while we were still in the hospital, and he loves them. I like that the pacifier most closely resembles a real or bottle nipple.

I’m going to stop here for now. Stay tuned for Part 2 later this week! Moms, please be sure to add your opinions in the comments. What did you love and what did you hate? If you have any questions, ask away. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out for you.

Disclaimer: I am not a baby expert. I do not know-it-all. (I like to think I do, but alas, I do not.) This post is simply a collection of my recommendations as a new mommy and a person who has been there, in the process of doing that. My recommendations should not be taken as the be all, end all of baby gear. Do your research. You may have different preferences/likes/dislikes than me and that is just fine! I hope this helps someone, and if it does, I’m glad I posted it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cooper’s Hometown Dates*

*Apparently I have The Bachelor on my mind.

The weekend before last, we took our first trip to my hometown with Cooper. Some of my family were able to come and visit him after he was born, but others weren’t able to make it. We were able to catch up with family and show off the boy while we were home.

Picture 018Cooper was able to meet his great-grandmother.

Picture 030Cooper and his grandmother, name TBD. My niece and nephew call her Ana, but I’m pushing a rename to YaYa because who doesn’t love The Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood?

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Coop and dad – doesn’t he look tough? I love this little outfit – they have them on clearance right now at Old Navy in different colors.

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Oh, I just want to eat him up! I love this outfit. It was a hand-me-down from my cousin. I love oxfords on babies.

Picture 089Cooper with Ana/YaYa and Papa

While we were home, we had an impromptu photo shoot with some hilarious results. I wanted some naked baby shots, so we stripped him down, and he peed all over Jason and then again all over the floor. It was funny to me because I was the one holding the camera. :)

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I do believe Cooper was in the process of peeing on Jason when I snapped the shot on the left.

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Picture 042 Picture 081 Double chins run in the family, apparently. Mommy, Daddy, and son all have them.

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This mommy gig is no joke! All kidding aside, the change has been super challenging for me. Aside from all the false positive genetic testing – crazy doctor who burned my son – asshat doctor that won’t take responsibility for the burn drama, the day to day dealings with a newborn are so much harder than I ever imagined. Don’t get me wrong… I absolutely love and adore my child. But the severe lack of sleep combined with a baby that seems angry and fussy 75% of the time has me feeling overwhelmed and inadequate.

Today was a particularly rough day. Cooper woke up at 7am to eat (I hadn’t gotten to sleep until 2am, and he’d been up several times during the night) and wouldn’t take a bottle. He’d take two sips and scream and thrash. Nothing I did made things better and he proceeded to scream for four hours. I know there will be days like this, but I question my ability to handle them. I was an absolute blubbering mess and finally had to call my husband and ask him to come home early to help me.

I’m really not sure whether my feelings are normal, considering all we’ve been through and the regular post-pregnancy hormone changes, or if this is something more serious. If you’ve had PPD and would like to share what it was like for you, could you email me?

I don’t want to be a total Debbie Downer, so I’ll leave you with a cute picture of the boy:

Picture 064This was where he peed all over the floor. Thankfully it wasn’t my house! ;)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Easy, Simple, & Cheap! Customized Frame Project

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I saw this frame project on Ruffles & Stuff, and decided it was perfect for Christmas gifts for the family. These frames are so incredibly easy, and you can get most of the supplies at the Dollar Store. Total cost: $3 per frame.

You will need:

  • Frames – I got mine from the Dollar Store
  • Spray paint
  • Gems – These are actually fillers for vases or fishbowls. The Dollar Store has the large gems you see above, and Wal-Mart has the small gems you see below.
  • Satin ribbon
  • Broaches – I had some lying around, but these are sold at any department store, Wal-Mart, or Michaels
  • Holt glue gun

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Pop the backing out of the frame and spray paint the frame. Let it dry completely, and then glue the gems. You may want to practice before you start gluing. If you need to, you can hide overlap or holes with the satin ribbon. Tie a bow, and secure to the frame with hot glue. Thread your broach through the ribbon, and finish off with a little hot glue to make sure it will stay put.

Honestly, the hardest part of this project was tying the bows. I have such a hard time with bows – I’m all thumbs.

These were a huge hit with my family, and it was so inexpensive and easy to do. I plan on making a few more to have on hand for co-workers’ birthdays, hostess gifts, etc.

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Visit thecsiproject.com

Friend Makin’ Monday

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I haven’t been able to participate in Friend Makin’ Monday in quite some time. If you would like to join in, please head over to Amber’s blog, aefilkins, to link up! Today Amber wants to know:

What is your personal decorating style?

According to Sproost, I am:

44% Classic

33% Wine Country Style

23% French Eclectic

I think of my decorating style as being pretty classic and traditional. I want my home to be beautiful but still be functional and comfortable. I like warm, dark colors, leather furniture, and dark wood stains.

I change my bedrooms and bathrooms up quite frequently. When we lived in military housing in Washington (state), I had a toile them going on in the bedroom and bathroom. I loved the toile, but eventually the room got to be too busy and overwhelming. I’ve since decorated but I’d have to clean my room to show you pictures of the new decor and that’s just not happening. :)

I think monograms make everything better, don’t you?

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The bed in my room is an antique. It’s the same bed that I’ve had since I was a little girl. My parents moved me out of a crib and into this bed when I was two years old. It’s a little beat up from our moves but I’ll never get rid of it.

Like I mentioned, I love leather furniture and dark wood stains. Red, brown, and gold are pretty predominant colors in my house.

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The armoire is one of my favorite pieces of furniture in the whole house. It has these gorgeous burnt gold iron inlays on the top and bottom.

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If I had an unlimited budget, I’d just order the entire Pottery Barn store. I love to drool over their catalogs and browse in the store, but the prices are a little more than what I can afford.

This craft room is amazing! Look at the storage – I die!

I salivate over this organizational system every single time I see it in the catalog.

Love camel colored leather! I actually have that iron piece.. it looks amazing on the wall when it is lit.

How about you – what is your decorating style?



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