Archive for ‘hooray’

June 1, 2016

Suddenly, the clouds part and the sun shone down.

That’s what it feels like when something huge happens and your life finally seems to be going your way. Like the universe is tipping it’s hat at you. “Congrats!” It silently says.

I’d like to present the largest and by far, the most challenging graphic design project I have ever worked on. I was tremendously fortunate to be offered the opportunity to work freelance on the design layout of the 125 Anniversary Edition, 68-page journal for University School, a well-established, all-boys private school in Cleveland, Ohio.

The theme of this journal is ‘Makers’, which highlights the innovative teaching style of the school. Being that it is quite hands-on, as well as academic, the articles also showcase the impressive achievements of former students whom have graduated and have gone on to accomplish tremendous things. Among them, James Parks CEO of Fit Bit, who is featured on the cover.

US has a tried and true format that is used for sections such as Class Notes, Valley to Heights, Athletic News and Obits, that the school has been using for years. With featured articles such as Teaching Makers, The Power of Makers, Maker Mentors, as well as the 10-page spread welcoming the new Headmaster, I had a little more creative freedom to add my own design elements, which I loved.

Many heartfelt thanks to those close to me who offered boatloads of support and encouragement, because it totally helped me feel confident enough to pull this off.I am extremely grateful for the experience. It pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of and has forever changed my perception of myself as a design professional.

Check out the link below to see the digital version.

University School Journal Spring 2016

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March 2, 2016

A Labor of Love aka ‘We can’t let shit go.’

Dealing with all the flooding caused by the City demolishing the house behind Hallie (the duplex we bought from the Landbank in Sept of 2013) had worn us out. I stopped posting about it because it seemed rather hopeless honestly. The more days that past, the more the hard work we had completed was getting ruined. The Land Bank stated we had to prove that they caused the damage and so with that and the fiery motivation that drives me, I set off to jump through some hoops.

After estimates, inspections, our insurance refusing to cover the damage (it was part of the process that was required) and SO MUCH PAPERWORK, we finally met with the City Attorney’s office in May of 2015. It was awkward coming face to face with the Head of the Land Bank, the villain of our story. He kind of reminded me of John Ritter from Three’s Company minus the humor , obviously due to the seriousness of the situation. Both Joel and I agreed though, it was hard to dislike the guy.

I had never felt so much like an adult as I did that day, spouting facts with a cool calmness while assuring the City Attorney that the building could still be saved once the water drained. It was exhilarating and completely freaky all rolled into one. In the end, an agreement was reached.

It was about a month before we received the deed to the adjoining parcel of land where the demolished house had backed up to the yard of the duplex. It was another month before a crew could come out dig up the yard and replace the pipes which did ultimately join the two properties. Another month, for all the water to drain out of the basement and for the house to dry out. Another month after that, dealing with all the electrical getting approved. You get the idea, a lot of time had to go by before it could be worked on again.

I cannot emphasize enough how much Joel completely busted his ass on the upstairs unit. I worked on it here and there, but mostly kept Cam from getting into everything. We did have some help for several weeks, when Joel’s friend, Geoff was in town and was looking to make a little extra money during his stay. (Shout out to you, Geoff!! I was glad I wasn’t helping carry out an original, extremely heavy clawfoot tub!) Our neighbor, Tim was also cool and helped Joel carry in the appliances. (Unfortunately, the new fridge didn’t work and I was helping carry the new one out and a replacement back in.) #agony

Without further ado, here’s the completed 2 bedroom, 1 bath upstairs unit of Hallie.

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December 31, 2015

~*happy new year’s eve 2015*~

Joel in headlock with Cam on his shoulders.jpgJoel and Arden looking cozy on couch.jpgI don’t know about you, but for me, this was the fastest moving December in all of time. Like blink of an eye, it was gone! Thanksgiving ended, there was caroling with Arden’s Girl Scout troop (the cold rolled in just in time for that!), making holiday cookies & dough ornaments with Arden, festive Christmas cards, and the whirlwind of shopping. Suddenly, it was already Christmas Eve. Normally, I am super awful at getting the tree up. Most years, it has debuted ON Christmas Eve at like 3:00 a.m. (after we get back from Cleveland and wrapping presents) Seriously. This year, adamant that it show up a bit earlier (and to make amends for getting in trouble at school that day) with much muttering under her breath, Arden herself pulled out the boxes and drug up from the basement. All 3 pieces of our Christmas tree. It was heartwarming, sweet and I was super thankful since my tailbone still killed from falling on it (HARD) roller skating. Erin in front of old door in dining room.jpg

At the start of each new year, I swear I’m going to enjoy every.single.moment. Take it in as I experience it, instead of rushing from one thing to the next.  I’ve gotten better at making time for the important things, like fun and not just working. I suppose having a demanding toddler makes you do that. Sort of. (it also makes you feel crazy!) Winter rolls on for seemingly ever. Spring takes it sweet time arriving, but once it does, it’s glorious!  The school break in Summer goes way too fast, then boom, Fall is here and petal to the metal, one holiday after another and POOF! it’s over. That’s how my life feels.

This year, I tried to be more accepting, less critical. Embracing flaws and easing up on expectations of perfection, for myself and my family. I dare say, they like me a bit better because of it. I’m not quite as stressed and it teaches Arden that some things don’t need to be just so because migraines aren’t worth it. For now, I will strive to do better. To work hard, accomplish dreams and bring more happiness into our home. Wishing everyone the same for your 2016! Our house with Christmas lights.jpg

 

 

 

August 25, 2014

Jail Break! : aka the birth of Camden

Mama and Cam just meeting copy

At the end of the pregnancy, it starts to feel like you’ll be pregnant forever. At least it did for me. The lumbering walk where my legs felt like they were on fire and encased in cement, the not being able to find a comfortable sleeping position no matter how many pillows, the getting up to pee every half hour, I was certainly over it. Then on the last day of July, on the evening that I was finishing up writing my previous blog post, my water broke. I actually heard an audible ‘POP’ which felt like the baby had punched me HARD. Minutes later, the floodgates opened. Being induced previously, I didn’t know what to expect. What actually happened was very what.happens.in.the.movies-like, although I had read it was the opposite and very anti-climatic. It was like Niagara Falls came out of my nether region. All that fluid I had been retaining, well here was part of it. I couldn’t go downstairs for a towel because it continued to trickle down my leg for some time and I didn’t feel like leaving a gross trail through the house. I ended up grabbing some of the baby bath towels out of Cam’s dresser, which was only a few feet away until Joel got home from work.

With progress being made, it may seem like the next logical step would be to hop in the car and go to the hospital. However, I still had a banner to make for an Etsy order I had received just the day before. I had assured the lady that had ordered it for her daughter’s birthday party that I would have it done in time. Besides, I didn’t want to sit around the hospital waiting any longer than I had to, best to stay busy. We ended up leaving for the hospital at midnight. My contractions had gotten much closer together and sort of painful, so it was time to do this.

When we got there and got checked in, we were stuck in a little room to be examined to determine if my water really did break. It was annoying. Believe me, I would have known if I just peed myself. With this pregnancy, it happened more often than I’d like. One time, I coughed hard in Target and wet my pants. Nothing is more awesome than waiting in line with a wet rear end for all to see. Except maybe the times where, on more than one occasion, Joel would have me cracking up so much I would pee a puddle on the floor, which only made him laugh harder. (Those are the times that bond a couple, LOL.) While this might be embarrassing, in reality know that while pregnant, dignity becomes a thing of the past. Between food bits managing to find their way into my shirt or spilling down the ever-expanding real estate of my belly, Jabba the Hut had nothing on me.

After what seemed like forever, we were moved to the actual labor and delivery room. Now time really seemed to crawl by. Since I was making what they considered progress, I wasn’t given any pitocin. The nurses told me I was doing great, but whatever. I wasn’t allowed to have my regular crack-of-dawn snack, so I didn’t care how much they cheered me on. By 3 a.m. I was hooked up with a pretty sweet epidural, which started making this entire process tremendously better. My mood improved considerably. Every so often the anesthesiologist would check back to see if it needed topped off, which was amazing, because my body was pretty damn slow to dilate.

And so this went on for hours. Joel and I both fading in and out of sleep/delirium between being exhausted and famished. It wasn’t until a little after 2 in the afternoon of the next day that Cam was finally born. The umbilical cord looped around his neck twice like Arden’s has been. He ended up outdoing his sister by having it knotted around his neck like a tie. Coming out blue, he freaked out Joel a bit, but the team was on it and quickly revived him. After Cam was cleaned up, Joel plopped down with him and a bottle and fed his son like he’d been ready for this moment his whole life.

Before we knew it, we were home again. Another family member larger. It was surreal, having this baby. The mind is a funny thing. Even though I knew I had just had a baby, the pregnancy already seemed so far off. Then I look at him and hold him and think “Well maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.”

Arden and Cam at 3 and a hlf weeks copy

July 31, 2014

MISSION: Dresser make-over for nursery

Just because we weren’t working on Hallie, didn’t mean we had idle hands. As a matter of fact, it might be a condition. I’m not sure we really know how to relax. However, this sort of motivation does help us get a lot accomplished. Originally, we planned on buying a different house. A larger house. One that had more room for activities. Because we were having trouble figuring out where we were going to put this baby. The problem was, we weren’t really finding what we were looking for AND we needed to at least get Dresden sold. The upstairs here at Walmar is by far the largest room in our 1100 sq.ft. house. It has served as my work studio for the past almost 11 years. Joel has a desk that doesn’t get utilized very often and the space also provides a play area (much to my detriment) for Arden’s toys. Mostly though, upstairs is my domain with rows of printers, massive shelves of cardstock and envelope boxes stacked to the ceiling.

I like to be organized, but when it comes to my studio somehow that eludes me. Over the years, I have acquired a lot of crap. Cardstock isn’t a recyclable material, so I hold on to the bigger scraps in hopes that one day I will find a use. That also goes for misprints, ribbon remnants and handmade paper left over from orders. It adds up and it takes up space. Space that unfortunately, I had to come to terms with clearing out a bit, otherwise this kid was going to end up living out of a basket in our room.

One of the more enjoyable tasks for getting ready for this baby was redoing a crazy-looking dresser. I have had this thing for over 5 years, sitting in the garage after a neighbor put it out by the curb. It was an eyesore, but rather unique. Even though it was missing drawers, it was well-built and I saw potential.

Cam's dresser before copy

The front is a little unusual, as it curves in. The remaining drawers fit well, but had the odd blocks of wood screwed on the front of them. I was left to assume these were used as the drawer pulls. Joel made the executive decision to keep them on and as you’ll see, it paid off.
So I started with the priming. Then I painted the interiors without drawers pale blue.

Cam's dresser primed copy

In a shocking twist, I refrained from (mostly) pushing my aqua/teal fetish onto this child. His whale bedding we chose does have a hint of it, but I decided to go with a dark grey with pale blue accents for this piece. The weird looking fronts soon appeared to be waves, though were still lacking something to really set them off. Enter these super cool anchor knobs from Anthropologie! anthro anchor knobs copy

At $8 a piece, it caused me to pause. However the more I searched, the more I liked them and really feel like they tie it all together! After much searching, we found great felted storage bins at Lowe’s that fit perfect.

Cam's room dresser after copy

Here it is, all put together. Granted the walls don’t coordinate very well, because it’s a cozy corner of my workspace, but it’s what we are working with for now. 🙂

July 22, 2014

It’s THE FINAL COUNTDOWN.

And in case the title didn’t make you think of the fantastically 80’s hairband Europe’s song, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jK-NcRmVcw

rubbing noses joel kissing belly use this one copy

This makes me feel a little better already.
Today I’m 39 weeks, 2 days. Basically, I’m due to have this baby any day.
To say I’m stressed about it is an understatement.
Well-meaning people ask me if I’m excited. The bizarrely, straight-forward answer is ‘no’. I’m about as excited as when I know something big is about to happen and I have absolutely no control on how the outcome will be. The apprehension, the fear, the suspense is not something I relish. Sure, other people are excited.
They also aren’t gaining 75lbs., sleeping only 45 minute intervals before either having to pee, waking up from pain, or experiencing the joy of acid reflux (all 3 have been going on for for the last couple weeks) OR having their body swell from heat so much that the skin feels tight and itchy and the only relief is going to be to have that darn baby.

The first time I read that to accommodate the growing fetus (ugh, I hate that word!), the mother’s ribs expand to make room for their organs. My mind was completely blown. Sure, the baby, ever-so-nonchalantly, can grow free and happy while the mother’s insides get squished and stuffed up their throat. That is some alien shit, right there though.

Arden hugging Cam in mama's belly copy

Sure, I had some of these issues while pregnant with Arden. With my rapid swelling/weigh gain that is a totally undesirable family trait, I was offered the sweet relief of being induced early. THEN, I was excited! I had an end in sight. Turns out though, that I was only dilated 1 cm. So that day, after 3 nurses and then finally my OB assaulted my lower half, I realized I had made a REALLY poor choice. Attempting to insert the balloon catheter into an opening too small, is extremely painful and that was only to get labor started. Pair that with not being allowed to eat and things got ugly.

There were some positives. The epidural was amazing. Then there was when Arden was actually born. Despite being covered in ick, I was in love immediately.
I’m sure that will happen again.
I wanted this baby for what seems like eternity.
It’s just been the 3 of us for so long, it’s hard to wrap my brain around what our family will NOW be like.
It’s challenging to try to comfort Arden when she says she feels left out because she has a different last name.
Joel has been wonderfully amazing and I’m going to miss my nightly foot-rubs.

Family pic on bench copy

Check back with me after the baby is born and we are all home safe.
OR after 4-6 months when I can (hopefully) fit into my regular-people clothes again. When I don’t spill food down myself at every meal. When I don’t eat chicken wings with such gusto that Arden says ‘Don’t eat the bone, Mama!’ When I only have to wake up every couple hours a night to care for a child instead of my current state. Then I hope to be able to feel completely different. Relieved that the anxious, exhausting wait is finally over. That labor is behind me and I will finally have that beautiful baby in my arms.

In the spirit of camaraderie, what was your most dumb-founding revelation about pregnancy or child-birth?

May 2, 2014

Dresden : Week 9 It’s starting to come together!

As promised, I’m back to posting the final weeks of rehabbing the Dresden House. At the time, it didn’t seem like it was ever going to end. Things weren’t going smoothly. The upstairs bathroom was attempting to be worked on, but the toilet kept leaking. INTO THE GREEN ROOM. WHICH WAS ALREADY FINISHED. It was sort-of disastrous. We had JUST REPAIRED the ceiling, now we had to cut a hole to allow the water to escape. It was less-than-fantastic. It’s at this time Joel began to call his skill set into question. It’s easy to feel like you are going to lose your shit when things keep going wrong. I honestly didn’t doubt him for a minute. It’s much easier for me to doubt myself then him. Joel is awesome, end of story, so I figured there had to be something else wrong. FINALLY, it was discovered that the toilet had a hairline fracture. So no matter how good everything else was put together, it was going to be an issue. Fortunately, we discovered it BEFORE the renters moved in, so that’s sort of an upside, right?

Anyway, crisis solved and onto the next project. Here we have the living room. Here’s some photos of this tragedy to jog your memory.

BEFORE:

Karman trashed Dresden, erehabbed livingroom 3 copy

Karman trashed Dresden, rehabbed livingroom2 copy

Karman trashed Dresden rehabbed  livingroom1 copy

Karman trashed Dresden slate entryway copy

Ever heard the term ‘elbow grease’? Yeah, a whole lot of that went into scrubbing this slate entry. I don’t have a good after pic, but you’ll be able to see it on the final walk-through video I took (that I’ll post in a couple weeks.)

AFTER:
For us, this room was one of the more stand-out transformations. The refinished hardwood really sets it off.

livingroom completed. dresden

livingroom front window dresden copy

Thanks for checking it out! I’ll have another room to view next week. 🙂

April 23, 2014

Our Mini Spring Break : Louisville, KY

It’s been weeks since I posted and I’m sorry to leave you all hanging! Between finishing Dresden and lots of orders for dfmi designs and getting sick (AGAIN!) the blog was the first to be put on hold. Something has to give, right? We did manage to spend a little fun time taking a trip to Louisville. We left Thursday night and drove down for all day Friday, coming back Saturday night in time for the Easter Bunny to arrive the next morning. At 3 1/2 hours away, it was perfect. I can’t handle much of a car ride anymore with this baby belly, everything is super uncomfortable.

What’s there to do, you wonder? Well, on several trips to Nashville there is a large dinosaur that you can see from the freeway inviting you to come to Dinosaur World. I’m not going to lie, I was totally into this! I wanted to be able to visit when we had Arden along though. They have 150 life-sized dinosaurs on display. You take a walking path through the woods and encounter all the creatures along the way. Some are better than others, with plaques providing information about each one. When Arden was in her dino phase a couple years ago, we learned about way more dinosaurs than I ever did in school. This place provides even more!

Dino 1 copy

Bronciosoris pic copy

They also have a “Fossil Search’ for little kids, which Arden was super into. Basically the children sift through a sand table with their little tools and discover fossils. There are tons, but they can only keep 3 favorites. Then Arden went to the Dino Dig, which is basically a faux dinosaur skeleton covered in sand that the kids (with their shovels and brushes) have to unearth. It was cute, she was into it. There is also a museum, a cave with a video about the life of a dinosaur and a gift shop.

Joel vs. the T-REX 1

Dinosaur World was about an hour and a half from Louisville and didn’t cost much. There are lots of other attractions like caves, ziplining and a Corvette Museum in the area to check out too.

family pic at dino world 1 copy

During the researching portion of the trip, I was really drawn to the East Market District of Louisville. What was once a small town that would look like any other that you’d pass through, this place has been revived with an edge. Lots of cool eateries and interesting shops line the streets. Some of our favorites was ‘Garage Bar’, a converted service station with an interior I could live in! Lots of reclaimed metal and wood.

Garage bar sign copy

Arden at bar  Garage copy

Garage bar doors up copy

A cute shop for coffee and treats was ‘Please and Thank You’, which is also a tiny record shop. Loved their sign!

please and thank you sign copy

Awesome street tacos were found at Taco Punk. How cool is this sign?

Punk taco sign copy

We also went to at Easter Parade on Frankfort Avenue, where Arden collected an insane amount of candy! It was almost Halloween amount of candy!

I super love this building photo taken while driving through the Historic District!

Awesome topography building sign copy

All the while, we stayed at Hyatt Place in Louisville. It is considered a 3 star hotel, but was really nice. The room was spacious, modern and had a handy mini-fridge. (I love this for drinks and snacks!) We opted for the king-sized bed and it was cool, because it also included a sleeper sofa in the sitting area and a stylish partition divided the two. So we could put Arden to bed and hang out for a bit on our side watching t.v that swiveled in either direction. The downside is that she was sick most of the trip (allergies are killing us at our house this year!) and kept me on my toes getting her ice chips and meds to soothe her constant coughing in the middle of the night. The BEST part of this place was the complimentary hot breakfast. Special breakfast sandwiches made fresh, sausage gravy & biscuits, oatmeal & cereal bar, fresh fruit and yogurt, muffins, pastries & bagels, plus a wonderful drink selection. Maybe I’m easily impressed or maybe I just really like food, but seriously, the spread was great! Perfect for a family stay, especially for this pregnant/hungry mama!

Here’s Arden setting up her bevy of stuffed animals she brought along.

Arden making her hotel bed copy

Overall, it was a nice little get-away. What fun things did you guys do over your long weekend?

March 6, 2014

Dresden : Weeks 6 & 7

I think it’s safe to say that everyone who reads this knows that we had to stop working on Hallie a bit to take care of business at Dresden. (So I may as well take it out of the title!) We have been very fortunate to be able to be granted an extension of an additional 3 months to work on Hallie after Dresden is completed. (So collective HUGE sigh of relief there!) We’ve been busy at work at Dresden as we have a potential renter lined up for April 1st move in. (Let’s hope it doesn’t turn in to an April Fool’s joke!)

Without further ado, here’s what new with Dresden over the last couple weeks.

When the weather was nice (you know that one day!)
Joel worked on framing in the outside portion of the newly installed windows. You can see on this side of the house 4 out of the 5 are completed. It is a such an enormous improvement!

Outside side photo show mostly finished windows copy

Another large undertaking for Joel was running 150 ft. of new water pipes in the basement.

Joel working on pipes in basement copy

water tank line pipes copyWasher hot and cold hook up copy

While they look a bit messy with drips, it actually is helpful during inspection, so the inspector is able to verify that the correct adhesives were used in the process.

Here’s a project I worked on. This hallway was pretty disgusting!
BEFORE

Hallway before lightswitch

hallway before floor to kitchen copy

Hallway closet door copy

Hallway before by bathroom copy

AFTER
Lots of scrubbing, painting (even down the basement hall), a new light fixture and new door.
Prepare to be dazzled! (At least we are!)

Hallway lightswitch copy

Hallway bathroom view copy

Hallway closed basement door copy

Stairwell to basement copy

We have a bunch more projects that we have been working diligently on (and are super proud of!) Hopefully we can get them wrapped up to show you all next week!
Thanks for viewing. 🙂 erin

February 25, 2014

Drumroll please: IT’S A …

It's a boy banner copy

I cried.
It felt like a long time waiting for this moment. I had wanted more kids as soon as I met Joel, but the timing just wasn’t right quite. Looking up at the screen today for the ultrasound, I wanted a boy and there he was. All kicking and waving his arms.
Arden got to be there with us. She had talked about wanting a baby sister for so long. I kept her out of school a few hours just so she could witness it for herself. She laughed as she saw the baby move. It’s a cool experience for anyone to see their baby on the monitor. For her I think it was a little magical. I hope that it will be something that she always remembers, how she got to be part of it all.

Baby Stead 18 wk 2 days 001 copy

The other day, I stupidly looked at my paperwork from the previous appointment with my ob/gyn. Under diagnoses it read ‘Supervision of high-risk pregnancy of elderly multigravida’. It simple terms it means at 37, medically speaking they consider me old. As someone who has never quite looked her age, yeah, it’s super insulting. So by yesterday, as the gender determining ultrasound AND the DNA blood-test neared, I had a bit of a meltdown. I suddenly was worried that the baby wasn’t growing right, that a million things could be wrong. We did find out today that he has a tiny hole in his kidney. The doctor seemed pretty nonchalant about it, but ‘hole’ and ‘baby’ aren’t really two words you want to hear together. We still have to wait a couple weeks now for the test results to come back to find out if our son has any other issues.

{OUR SON!!! OMG!}
I cannot believe I’m going to be a mom of two kids. A girl and a boy. It’s wild and surreal.
I already feel like a whale. I don’t recall being this tired with Arden or this large already. Maybe it’s due to MY ADVANCED AGE. I still have 22 weeks to go. Our boy is due around July 27th. I was hoping for sooner. At least it’s not August. Between Arden on the 19th and me on the 26th, we do not need another birthday in August. Arden proclaimed that it would be “SO FUN” until I told her that if that happened, she certainly wouldn’t get a birthday party this year. That shut her right up! LOL.

Arden always has lots of opinions about everything (shocker, right?) A few month ago, she told us that if we had a boy, for his birthday she would have a flag party or a car party. Because boys like those things, she said. {HA HA HA!!!} A flag party, what is THAT? I think she will be pleased to find out that he will probably like a lot of the same things she does. Pirates, ninjas, cars. Possibly even horses. Guess I better start designing more party invitations. 🙂

HOORAY 001

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