Monday, July 30, 2007

Nursery: Before and After

Drumroll please...

The nursery is finally to the point where I can show you before and after pictures! It's not completed--the built-in dresser needs to be tweaked a little and then painted; the door needs to be tweaked and painted; and we still need a light fixture, trim, the built in bookcase, and closet doors. But it is starting to look like it is actually ready for a baby!

Here's what this side of the attic space looked like when we moved in:

And here's a different view of that same window (I can't get far enough away to take a photo from the same perspective--the above photo was taken from what is now the guest bedroom; there's a wall down the middle of the attic now.)

Here's what it looked like from the doorway after Steve did all the framing:

And here's the view from the doorway now! The hole on the left will be a built-in bookcase; the dresser will be secured flush into the wall and painted white, and the closet on the right, someday, might have doors :)

A few other shots of the room:

Here's the wallpaper border up close:

...And the curtain Sue & Granny made, with the adorable buttons we found to match the border:

Friday, July 27, 2007

Descended from Greatness, Part 2

Not only are my parents amazing...I have some pretty great in-laws, too. I know there are a lot of women who dread their in-laws' visits--or who don't mind their coming, but are more than ready to have them leave after a couple of days. How blessed I am that this is not the case in my situation! God in His kindness allowed me to marry into a family I truly enjoy.

Back in February, Steve's dad came down by himself to work on our massive upstairs remodeling project. So this week, it was his mom's turn for a visit. My mother-in-law and her mom arrived on Monday afternoon and spent the last couple of days working hard to help me finish several projects as we prepare for Baby. We picked out fabric and made a curtain for the nursery, hung the wallpaper border in the nursery, and painted the trim for the window (pictures coming soon!). Then they finished projects I started long ago--like kitchen curtains--and painted the basement door that's been hanging since November, primed and waiting for a finish coat. (Steve and I have a tendency to get projects to the point of "functional" and then move on to the next thing :)

In between all that hard work, they found a little time to go antiquing (a favorite pastime) and came back with adorable elephant bookends for the (as-yet-unbuilt) built-in bookcase in the nursery!

We had a great time visiting with them and were sorry to see them leave. What a tremendous blessing and help they were to us! I'm glad they got to come down and spend some time with us--especially Granny, who had never been to our house.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 43

Thanking God for...
  • a mother-in-law who I thoroughly enjoy and whose visits I look forward to!
  • an equally delightful grandmother-in-law
  • their willingness to make the trip down and help with baby/house projects this week
  • fresh summery salads
  • finally getting my kitchen curtains finished
  • the safari animal buttons we found for the nursery curtain
  • giving me the grace to grow into cooking and liking it
  • Hank
  • a clean and organized utensil drawer
  • the Psalms
  • tax-free e-commerce and the ability to buy products from regular people vs. big corporations
  • naps
  • not getting what I deserve
  • getting what I don't deserve

Monday, July 23, 2007

Baby Belly: 36 Weeks

Here it is...the latest version of the baby belly. Yes, I am enormous. Yes, I am uncomfortable.

I have been packing on the pounds at an alarming rate...just hoping that this baby is a good eater like I am told his/her daddy was :) And the swelling has kicked in. It really isn't too bad, but for the last week or so my wedding ring has been stuck on my finger. I hardly ever take it off, so by the time I realized my fingers were actually swollen, it wouldn't budge. I finally pried it off today (ouch) and won't be wearing it anymore until after Baby arrives :(

On the bright side: miraculously, not a single stretch mark as of yet! Here's hoping I don't jinx myself by saying that.

I am definitely reaching that point in pregnancy where I'm tired of being pregnant. Oh, how I look forward to the day when rolling over in bed is not a huge production. Plus, Steve and I are both tired of talking/hearing/reading about labor/delivery/newborn care/child rearing--there's only so much you can read and talk about before you just have to DO it!

However...another part of me is definitely NOT ready for this baby to come anytime in the next few weeks--I feel like there are still a ton of things I need or want to get done before he or she arrives! Steve's mom and granny are headed down this week and, like my parents' visit, I am sure it will be a huge blessing--hopefully we'll get a lot done.

It is so hard for me to imagine how there is a six(ish)-pound baby curled up in this belly. The whole thing STILL seems so surreal. I am also glad we decided to be surprised about the gender, but really anxious to find out if Baby Kannel is a boy or a girl!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

I grew up about thirty miles from Defiance, Ohio--so when the book The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio was published in 2001, my mom and I both read it eagerly. There's something about being from a small town and having some sort of connection, no matter how vague or distant, to something famous.

I had no idea they had made the book into a movie until I was browsing Netflix a few weeks ago. Steve and I watched it last night, and I loved it. I am really surprised that I never heard anything about it when it came out in 2005! I think sometimes "sleeper" movies like this one end up being a lot better than the overhyped multi-million dollar box office hits. It's truly an excellent movie.

What impressed me the most was the acting of the two lead characters. Julianne Moore plays Evelyn Ryan, the star of the story. She's a 1950s homemaker who, as the book's subtitle explains, "raised 10 kids on 25 words or less." (The book is a memoir about this amazing woman, written by her daughter Terry.) With an alcoholic husband who drinks away every paycheck, witty and creative Evelyn, who once aspired to be a writer, devotes her talents to entering contests. Back then, "sweepstakes" contests where the winner is randomly drawn were rare; rather, winners were chosen by writing the best jingle for a product.

Evelyn clearly has a gift for these contests, and besides a crazy assortment of prizes, her winning entries provide everything from milk money to a down payment on a house. Her life is often devastating; it's uncanny how things always seem to fall apart for her. Yet she responds with dignity and grace and an inexplicable upbeat attitude. Julianne Moore makes Evelyn's cheerful optimism seem almost surreal, yet there are enough sober moments that she doesn't come across as trite.

Woody Harrelson, who plays her husband, Kelly Ryan, amazed me. Somehow he created a truly sympathetic character. Kelly is often angry and violent; especially when contrasted with hopeful, loving Evelyn, it would be easy to unequivocally hate him. Yet Harrelson's portrayal of the alcoholic husband/father leaves you feeling sorry for him a good part of the time.

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio is part heartwarming, part heartbreaking. If you're looking for a quirky and fun film that's also moving, I'd definitely recommend this one. It also made me want to reread the book--which, if I remember correctly, was excellent as well.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 42

Actually posting on time this week, and thanking God for...

  • Steve's carpentry skills
  • revealing heart issues in me
  • the New Testament overview I'm going through right now
  • hugs
  • helpful people willing to share tips and advice
  • lemonade
  • the map of downtown Nashville conveniently stored in my car
  • air conditioning
  • my midwife
  • ponytail holders
  • good health insurance
  • unconditional love

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wonder No More

A comment below reminded me of what I've often thought when reading pregnant friends' blogs. You just can't go several days without blogging because people will wonder if you're in labor.

Wonder no more, my friends, I am still at home, huge and uncomfortable. One of the precious little GEMS girls not-so-politely informed me on Sunday that I look like I'm having twins. Thanks. The clock is ticking but I am hoping not to deliver Baby Kannel for a few more weeks, not only so he/she is completely grown and healthy, but so that I can accomplish about four hundred things on my to-do list first. When is that nesting thing supposed to kick in, anyway? I unfortunately do not feel any extra energy or motivation yet.

I haven't written this week because I just haven't had much to say, frankly. Or rather, I've had plenty of thoughts, but have been processing them in my private journal rather than rambling on here about pregnancy and parenting--probably not interesting to most of you :)

Tell you what...I'll try to check in more often over the next couple of weeks. And starting August 1, I'll try to post every day until we go to the hospital. That way, if no post shows up one day, you'll know we're having a baby :)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Seeing and Believing

"But I tell you the truth..." (John 16:7)

Over and over in the gospels, Jesus declares this. I tell you the truth. Will I believe Him? Will I trust that His Word is true and base my understanding of reality on what He says? Or will I begin with my emotions and evaluate what He says in light of my fickle feelings and limited understanding?

"This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled..." (John 18:9)

Over and over again, the gospels show Jesus fulfilling both the Old Testament prophets' words and His own words. We see Him keeping God's promises--so that we will believe God is a promise-keeper. What He says will be fulfilled!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 41

Thanking God this week for...
  • another week closer to August with no preterm labor
  • being able to resume most normal activities
  • aside from waking up fourteen times a night to use the bathroom, sleeping really well for this late in pregnancy
  • body pillows
  • rhubarb crunch
  • rhubarb sauce
  • a fun "catching up" phone conversation with a friend yesterday morning
  • Steve's levelheaded, calm nature
  • backrubs
  • sunshine
  • Qdoba
  • vacuum cleaners
  • air conditioning
  • paint
  • grace

YOU Got Me Feelin' Emotions...

The CD player in my car is broken (Steve said it's beyond him...anyone know of a good local person who could maybe fix it??) so I've had to resort to the radio lately. I found this fun "lite rock favorites" station (Mix 92.9) that I have really been liking. They play a mix of oldies, and songs that blast me right back to middle school/high school. Funny how a song can instantly bring up all kinds of memories of a specific time in your life.

Last night on the way to GEMS, Mariah Carey and I were screaming belting out "Emotions." I had that cassette tape. She was my FAVORITE. I used to be able to hit those screech-notes when I was about 12, too--but apparently my vocal chords have shrunk or something since then? Definitely wasn't getting up there in the car last night. Amazing how your brain retains all those songs you haven't heard in years, though...

Meanwhile Baby, whose hearing is by now fully developed, is already thinking of suing mama for aural assault :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Slimy But Legal

For those of you who do a lot of online shopping, I wanted to pass along some info about a scam Steve and I were recently exposed to. Steve was hit on his corporate credit card after he purchased airline tickets from Expedia. When the transaction was done, he signed up for what he thought was a rebate/points thing with Expedia. As it turns out, it was actually a membership with some company called, or sometimes referred to as (there are also a few more names he found online).

This company charged Steve's credit card $10 last month--WITHOUT him directly typing his credit card number into a sign-up form at all. Instead, they sucked his information from Expedia's website. From what he found out, this practice is well known by Expedia (and many other reputable websites like,, etc.) and is totally legal. It's wrong for sure, but it seems they use some sort of loophole that we don't really understand. How do these people sleep at night?

The point is (hopefully you already do these things, but here's a reminder!), check your credit card statements each month, confer with your spouse about any transactions you don't recognize, and refute any charges that you don't think you made. Thankfully Steve caught this after only one charge. But in 2004, this company made $86 million from this practice, so it's gotten a lot of unsuspecting people.

For more information, you can check out the article "Reservation Rewards--And Rebate Risks" from Consumer Reports Webwatch. Pass the word to people you know who make online purchases--even the savvy buyers. The article was written by a "seasoned veteran" who said, "If they got me, they can get anyone. I never get caught in these traps." Some people have paid these charges (the fees are small, so apparently they're easier to overlook) for over a year before noticing them. At that point, it's hard to get your money back.

UPDATE 8/6/07: See this post for a response from the company.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Cat-Sitting making me love my dog more. I really don't care for cats.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Descended from Greatness

The title of this post is a nod to the other blessings I can't begin to quantify: my incredible, generous, hardworking parents. They made the seven-hour trip down here on Wednesday night and joined us for some Fourth of July festivities--and then on Thursday, they went to work. And boy did they work!

Dad started by washing down the freshly-sanded drywall in the nursery, then priming and painting the room (which seems to be a July pattern--I promised not to have any painting for him to do next July!) all by himself. When he was done with that, he attacked our jungle backyard! With all that's been on Steve's shoulders, the outside maintenance has fallen by the wayside. So Dad mowed the yard (and the driveway), trimmed all the weeds, even hacked down the giant mutant weed-tree that was growing up between our deck steps. I wish I had taken before and after pictures!

Meanwhile, Mom was hard at work helping me. We ran errands on Thursday and picked up a bunch of baby stuff, including the rest of the nursery furniture Steve and I ordered a few weeks ago. When we got home, we reorganized all of the bathroom supplies and linens (I lost all my in-bathroom storage to the A/C ductwork for the upstairs), then organized and packed up all the baby stuff (previously, it looked like Babies R Us threw up in our dining room). On Friday, she did a pile of dishes, mopped the entire house, swept off the deck and patio after Dad was done out there, scrubbed the bathtub and even washed a few windows!

All this is to say nothing of the food they brought for us, or the gas they put in our car, or the other things they generously bought for us. My parents are just awesome. And eagerly anticipating their very first grandchild :)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Can't Count That High

You've maybe heard the song "Count Your Blessings" (warning: link contains annoying MIDI file); if not, you've almost certainly heard the phrase or been instructed to do so. It came to mind when I thought about what to title this post--then I decided that in light of this one and the next post coming, I can't count them. There are too many. I am overwhelmed at the way God doesn't just provide for our needs, but blesses us far beyond what we need.

This week has been busy-busy, so I hadn't had a chance to blog about it until now, but last Sunday afternoon the ladies at our church threw a baby shower for me. They went to great lengths to decorate with a safari animals theme (since that's how we're decorating the nursery)--it looked adorable! And I was blown away by the generosity of our church in showering us with gifts to help us prepare for Baby's arrival.

A few more photos:

Check out the little elephant on the top of the cake--it was edible! One of the ladies at church makes amazing cakes.

A few of the GEMS girls...while I opened presents, all the little girls sat in a semicircle in front of me and exclaimed "AWWWWW!!!" at every single gift :)

My friend Melissa, who was in charge of the shower, pinning on my corsage. Someone made it by rolling tiny baby socks into the shape of flowers and attaching ribbon, a little teddy bear and a pacifier :)

Friday, July 06, 2007

Thankful Thursday Friday, Take 40

Yesterday was a busy day, so I didn't get a chance to do my Thankful Thursday list. Can't skip it this week of all weeks--I have so much to be thankful for!
  • not just another week closer to August with no preterm labor--but the 34 week milestone, which means the lifting of almost all my activity restrictions!
  • the walk around the neighborhood I just took, for the first time in a month and a half
  • Steve's long weekend from work and all that he got accomplished during it (I think he was relieved to go back to the office...meant he didn't have to work as hard!)
  • the baby shower we had at church on Sunday and all the women who so generously hosted it and bought gifts for us
  • my awesome dad, who's upstairs painting the nursery as I type
  • my amazing mom, who's helping with cleaning and all kinds of miscellaneous tasks and errands
  • the day Mom and I got to spend together yesterday shopping and having lunch, just the two of us
  • new maternity clothes that cover my enormous belly--borrowed ones from another friend at church, and my own from my generous mom
  • church potlucks
  • bread bowls
  • clean water
  • the satisfaction of looking at a newly organized shelf/closet/drawer
  • the baby's strong heartbeat
  • the unchanging faithfulness of God

Monday, July 02, 2007

Two Years

I'm hard to live with once in a while a lot of the time. But the man who has to do it makes it look easy. When I'm selfish and whiny, he's patient and gentle. When I'm a mess, he's strong and steady. When I am unlovable, he responds with grace.

His remodeling knowledge and ability blows most people away--they're amazed to see what we're doing with the house and to hear that he's doing all of it himself. He's got mad grilling skills. He gives fantastic backrubs. And have I ever mentioned that he's pretty hot? :)

More than what he can do, I love his heart. For the last six weeks or so, he's come home from long days at work and shouldered much more than his share of the load--cooking, grocery shopping, even scrubbing the bathtub. All of it without a single complaint, just an attitude of generous servanthood. And the fact that he has acted this way didn't surprise me; it was typical. It sure has blessed me, though. I don't ever want to take for granted this treasure God has given me.

Two years ago this afternoon we promised to spend the rest of our lives loving each other. By God's grace alone, we'll keep those promises--and starting in August, we'll watch that love overflow to a growing family. I can't wait to raise children with this incredible man--I hope they are a lot like their daddy.

Happy anniversary, Steve.

Despair and Condemnation

Carolyn at Solo Femininity is doing an on-again, off-again series of marriage interviews. This quote from today's interview struck me as incredibly insightful regarding my sinful heart:

"Seeing my sin more specifically and frequently (and against this person whom I love more than any other!) both surprised me and tempted me to despair and condemnation. I realized that, at least in my life, condemnation and despair are evidences of a reverse type of pride: I would not be despairing unless I had believed myself to be above sinning in that way, and I would not feel condemned unless I were believing the lie that Christ’s sacrifice for me wasn’t enough, like God didn’t really know what he was doing in planning my redemption or that he didn’t know all the ways I was going to sin."

The entire post is full of wisdom--check it out!