This Is How I Feel, XX

Thought it might be helpful if I stared adding the kids ages to each post: 
Eli, 22 months; Colette, eight weeks. 

When someone mentions the vaccinations debate.

When someone makes sleeping jokes and everyone in the room is laughing, but I can't because I'm still living it. 

After I get Colette to fall asleep in my arms, put her in the rock n'play, only to hear her begin to cry five minutes later. 

Coming downstairs after I successfully put both kids down for a nap at the same time.

When Eli's supposed to be sleeping and I hear a bunch of huge thumps.

When I caught Eli dropping toilet paper in to the toilet, then pulling it back out and sucking on it and I didn't want to deal with it so I pretended not to see it and told my husband to go look.

When I tried to put on a Moby Wrap for the first time. 

When Mike comes home with Starbucks and the kids are in my path to reach him. 

When I make a stupid comment in front of a bunch of people because I'm severely sleep deprived and don't even care. 

When walking the aisles of Target and I spot an end cap full of 50,000 stuffed animals/balls/trucks that I know Eli will want to hold. 

When I try to get dressed in the morning after the kids got up a collective 485 times during the night.

Every morning I woke up over 40 weeks pregnant and I realized that Colette had still not shown up.

When Mike tells me to go upstairs and take a nap, while he watches the kids. 

Want more? Find 'em all, righta' here.

Eli - 22 Month Update

This update is super late - nearly a month! But I wrote down a few notes at the end of the month so I'd remember for this post and the photos were taken when he was exactly 22 months old, so that counts for something, right? He's sporting his first black eye in the pics, he took a tumble while playing with friends at church - Mike is so proud of Eli's first shiner, and Eli liked to point it out to people and say, "Nice, owie. Righ' here." Eli's glasses hide it a bit, but you can see it if you look closely. It's actually looking really good in these photos, it was over a week old at this point and well on its way to healing!
Naps: One nap a day, around 1 p.m. for two to three and a half hours.
Feeding: Two percent milk (16-20 oz./day), water all day, table foods three times a day with a snack after nap.
Clothing: 2T
Bedtime: 7:30 - 8 p.m. Sleeps 12-13 hours each night.

Nothing new to report here - he still eats pretty much anything and everything, but prefers cheese and carbs more than anything else. But for the past month or so, he's been doing really well with "bartering," meaning, we'll ask him to finish his chicken/veggies/whatever and then he can have a chip. He does so well with it, and I'm grateful it works!
This month, sleeping has been a little crazy. With all the transition from Colette being born and preparation for the move, he was waking up at least once a night, if not two or three times. Usually when we go to him, he just needs "reset," meaning we can hold him for a second, reassure him and put him back in his crib and he'll fall right back asleep. But a few times a week he was waking crying and begging for us to come get him and hold him. He was pretty much hysterical - really difficult to calm down, usually calling for the opposite parent than the one that goes to him, and asking to play or read or do anything besides sleep. It's sorta heartbreaking - and frustrating when it takes 30 minutes to an hour to calm him down and once he is calmed down, he freaks out when we would try to put him back to bed. I think there's been so much change that he's nervous he'll get left or we'll forget about him or something. (Insert GIANT sad emoticon here.) Eventually we learned not to pick him up because he'd cling to us so much and we couldn't get him back in the crib. Instead we would just go in a reassure him and talk to him by the crib, going in every three minutes or so to calm him. After about a week of doing this, he stopped the night wakings. We also lived at my mother-in-law's for a week while the house went on the market (Just so I didn't have to clean and pick up every. single. day) and while he usually does great there, he really struggled with sleeping at night and naps while there - and again, I'm sure it's just from all the transition he was/is going through. 

Of course, his speech continues to astound me. He's saying three or four word sentences, and it's amazing how many words he knows. He still tends to talk in one or two word groups, then a pause, then one or two more words to finish the sentence. It's fun to hear him start saying catch phrases, things like "Splish splash," in the bath or "I'm gonna get you!" while playing a game. So cute. When he's trying to tell me something but I can't figure it out, he gets a little flustered, giving me a shy smile and looking away. I think he knows what he wants to say, but also knows that he's not saying it right, so he's embarrassed. It's adorable - but I so wish I always knew what he was saying!

I'm also astounded by his memory. One day, Mike made shadow puppets in the sunlight that comes into our living room - about two or three weeks later, Eli saw the sun and pointed to it asking, "Dog? Dinononoar? Rhino?" It took us forever to figure out that he wanted the shadow puppets, but once Mike made them again Eli went bizerk, kissing the shadows on the wall and feeding them imaginary food and drink. We couldn't believe that he remembered it from so long ago!

Speaking of imaginary play, it's seriously the best. He's constantly feeding us or making up stories about his stuffed animals. But a lot of times I'll realize that he's actually telling me a story from one of the books we have - like a story about a mouse that wants a cookie and likes to clean .... If You Give A Mouse A Cookie ... anyone? Melt. My. Heart. 

He totally knows all his main colors and gets them right pretty much every time. He can count to nine, but likes to skip over "two." We also catch him singing the ABC's all the time, although it's usually totally random letters, with lots of "XYZ" sprinkled in. 

For some reason, this kid has developed a strange fascination with zippers, buttons and pockets this month. He loves hiding things in his pockets and zipping and unzipping zippers - especially other people's coats and jackets. He's also in love with the colors orange and green, and loves to point out any time he sees them. He's become the king of pointing out the obvious; he pretty much narrates our lives all day, telling me, "Momma car. Drive!" or "Dump, right here." (Referring to his diggers.) or "Cook. Stir dat. Eli stir dat. Eli eat! Eli like." He tends to repeat whatever it is he's saying until you actually say the full sentence back to him. No passive "mm, hmm" responses for this kid. 

He loves trains, airplanes, pretty much anything that "goes." He's obsessed with pointing out planes/trucks/buses/emergency vehicles anywhere we go, and even hears many of them before we can see them. He's also really into coloring and stickers, and often will spend about a half hour each morning with me, coloring and picking out stickers to put on his drawings. He loves telling me what he's drawing and it often turns into a story - usually it's some variation of a person he knows going to the zoo to see monkeys/rhinos/birdies/etc. 

He also likes to be "mommy's helper," which is totally awesome for me. He now has two "chores," he puts the cube in the dishwasher (under supervision of course) and he gets the mail from the porch every day. All I have to do is ask, "Eli want to do your chore?" And he freaks out like I asked him if he wants a thousand pounds of candy or something. I'm trying to enjoy his good attitude about chores while it lasts. The only problem with him helping is when it doesn't work out - like he can't make the vacuum go where he wants on his own - it often turns into him crying in frustration. He also loves to help with Colette and often sits right by her, shoving the pacifier into her mouth as soon as she drops it. He's also big on tummy time with her, and at least once a day he reminds me that we need to do, "Tum-me! Time!" So all three of us do it together, usually with lots of participation from Eli's stuffed animals. 

As far as dislikes, as I mentioned above, he tends to get pretty frustrated when he's trying to do something and can't make it work exactly like he wants to. In most of these cases, he doesn't want my help, so it just turns into him crying and shouting jibberish with a few no's sprinkled in. Also, I've noticed that  often, he can't take too much of a good thing. Things like getting to go outside for a walk, shoveling snow, taking a bath, watching a TV show, these are all things he gets super excited about, but when we need to come inside because I can literally see the snot on his nose freezing and his cheeks are red with wind burn, or he's turning into a raisin before my eyes in the bath and the water is freezing, he throws a huge tantrum. It's tough - we want to give him good things, but even Mike said the other day, "I don't even want to take him outside because I know it will end in tears!" We've noticed giving him lots of warning about how things are going to end helps a lot - we give him a five/three/one/etc. minute warning, or tell him this is the last one, it's almost gone, etc., and it really does help with him having a good attitude once things are ending.

Mommy/Daddy Update
In all honesty, it was a really hard month. Not really because of anything Eli did, or even Colette, but as I talked about in this post, the move, combined with a newborn and curious toddler has made things hard. It's been tough to juggle our time between the two and we're really figuring things out. That said, we're still absolutely loving being parents of two, and seeing the relationship that's building already between the kids is amazing! We are so thankful Eli seems to adore Colette - I mean, she gets just as good of treatment as his stuffed Ducky - and that's saying a lot!

The Windy City

Next week marks our fifth year of living here at Oakland Avenue, and it also marks one of the last weeks.

Did you catch that?

That's right, we're moving - to Chicago!

A long story incredibly short: When I was 38 weeks pregnant, my husband, Mike, interviewed on a whim at a sister site of the company he works at now. A week after Colette arrived, he was offered the job and a few days later, he accepted. (Since I know I'll be asked, he's an engineer at a large energy and chemicals company.)

Let's just say it's been a little crazy around here. Scratch that, it's been INSANE.

It feels like there's so much to write that I don't know where to begin or even what exactly to say. Trying to juggle a newborn, toddler, selling a house, buying a house, arranging temporary housing and more has kept me busier than I have ever been in my entire life. Honestly, I've been living this past month and a half, not just day by day, or even hour by hour, but minute by minute.

It's probably a good thing, because it hasn't given me much time to really think about the fact that I'll be living six and a half hours away from this place that I've grown to love so much. When I came here from Iowa six years ago, I had no idea how much my life would change, all in the best ways possible. It's while living here that I got my first "real job," Mike and I got married, we bought our first house, had a surprise baby and then another. It's here that I learned to bake bread, garden, dabble in DIY and decorating, and where I truly found myself and became secure in who I am.
But I can't write about that now. Writing means thinking, which means feeling, and I don't think I have the emotional capacity for that right now. I know many of you will be curious, and yes, we have accepted an offer for our house. Yep, we put it on the market only a few weeks after finishing the living and dining room, and I'm pretty sure Colette may never sleep in the nursery we decorated for her ... The house went quick, which is good, like ripping off a bandaid. I cried over the phone to Mike the day it listed - it just made everything so real. Plus, there's just something weird about having strangers in your house while you're not there, judging it and picking it apart, you know?

Whew, feels good to get that out my fingers and on to the screen. That's the big reason why I've been so sporadically posting here. Part of it is just because it's so incredibly busy, but another part is because I feel like I've had this big secret that I wasn't ready to share yet, so I wasn't able to write freely.

I do have so much I want to share with you all. I've only written a bit about how the transition to two has been (and that was a guest post), but I have so many more thoughts to share! Eli is nearly two (which melts my heart to a puddle on the floor every time I think about it) and Colette is changing so rapidly I can barely keep up with her. They've both been such troopers through all the transition - Eli's been tossed around to family and friends as we've prepped the house to sell and as we've gone to Chicago to house hunt. We've only brought Colette with us, as the toddler nap isn't super conducive to being in and out of the car all day as we look at houses.

For a bit we did think Colette had colic, but we did get her on some reflux medication about two weeks ago and it seems to be working its magic! I feel so terribly that she was suffering from it for the first six weeks (Hellllllo, mom guilt!) but I'm so thankful for medication and that she seems to be much more comfortable. She's still a bit fussy during the day and hit or miss with fussiness at night, but it's nothing like it was the first six weeks where she wouldn't want to nurse at all and would literally be up crying all night, passing out from exhaustion for maybe an hour or two, if that.

Honestly, these past weeks have been really, really hard. Along with Colette's fussiness, Eli was acting out a lot and waking often at night. I think partly because of his age, partly from the change Colette brought, and partly because of all the transition the move is bringing. (I think kids must be like dogs, they can sense change before it even happens.) I was (and still am) adjusting to the news of the move, mourning the loss of living by family, leaving all our wonderful friends, and having my comfort zone taken away from me. And while Mike's company is offering a wonderful relocation package, there's still mountains of work that has to be done in a short amount time. Basically, we've all been in survival mode since 2015 began. But I'm hopeful we're nearing the light at the end of the tunnel as we make the move near the beginning of March. While we're so, so sad to leave the Twin Cities and everything we know and love here, we're so excited to see what Chicago brings and fall in love with it just as much. Hopefully as things settle down, I'll be able to spend more time here, I've missed you all!

Worth Sharing

A thought-provoking piece on where moms really get their theology.

"The North." While I'll always be an IOWAGIRLFORLIFE, I have grown to love MN nearly as much (and that's saying a lot). Yep, Minny is definitely this cool and I support the new name.

I was most definitely the girl that was never allowed to wear Abercrombie, let alone step foot in their store. And for good reason. (Thanks momma for protecting me - I'm finally mature enough to recognize it as such; 15 years later. #latebloomer) While I couldn't care less about the company, I found this article during a late night nursing sesh, and it was fascinating, and also terribly sad. But mostly fascinating.

Have you heard of Boomerang? It's an extension for your browser to automatically send emails at a later time. It's pretty much something I invented in my head about five years ago when I started working, so I've decided I'm sorta gonna take credit for it. I was ahead of my time, I tell ya.

"Death to the chicken finger." Yes, yes, yes. Great article on creating (or not creating) picky eaters. The tips in here are the same ones we use with Eli. At least most of the time - when I'm feeing incredibly empowered and steadfast in my motherhood skilz. Okay, so that's like actually none of the time. But I really do try! Read this one. It's a good one.

Five ways to teach your kids theology. I'm always looking for ways to incorporate this into Eli's and my (and now Colette's) day. These are nothing life-shattering, but good reminders.

So, most of the time I love social media, but then every once in a while I'll read something like this, "How One Stupid Tweet Destroyed Justine Saccos Life," and basically want to delete all my accounts and go live under a rock. I had actually never heard this story before this article (So apparently I do live under a rock already?) but it's a good reminder to be super thoughtful and careful with what I post online.

"Sponsored by my husband: Why it's a problem writers never talk about where their money comes from."  I like to tell myself I'm able to purchase my own lattes and clothes through this blog, let's be honest, Mike totally sponsors this place. He's completely the reason I'm able to stay home with the kids, and take time to write here, and I'm so thankful he supports me wholeheartedly! A good read for anyone who likes to write, or is curious about the industry.

Because We All Love Beautiful Things: Why I Worked With An Interior Designer

In our time living here at Oakland Avenue, all of the rooms in our home have given me a run for my money (literally and figuratively). I've written before about how difficult decorating is and some of the challenges I've faced as I've become a homeowner, found my style, and stumbled and tripped through the beautiful yet deceitful and jealousy-inducing world of blogs and Pinterest. Decorating is a natural love for me, one I only discovered after I married and became a homeowner. While five years of it has definitely improved my skills, I'm still a novice when it comes to decorating a room. And so when my first few ideas with the living and dining room in our home didn't turn out the way I hoped, I didn't know what to do.

For a long time, I had just sort of given up. I wasn't happy with where it was at, but I had no clue what to do to get it where I wanted it. Because "where I wanted it" wasn't clear. Of course, I tweaked a few things here or there (I seriously just can't help myself.) but overall, I had just resigned myself that I would never truly love the space, let alone like it.

But then I quit my job, became a stay-at-home-mom, and as the name would imply, I started to spend most of my days at home, hanging out with the kids. We color and do puzzles at the dining room table, play trucks and blocks and dinosaur-attack on the living room floor, snuggle and read on the couch, and watch squirrels from every window. And all that time at home gave me lots of time to think about the space that had given me so much trouble.

Beyond being unhappy with the furniture and decor, I knew it could function better for a small, yet growing family. The coffee table was too large, the rug too white and the furniture felt bulky and far apart, rather than cozy and well-laid out.

I thought about it all the time, to the point it was making me a little crazy.

I knew it probably shouldn't have been driving me as nuts as it was. Admittedly, there have been times design and decor and my dreams for my home have taken up much more brain space than it should. There have been times when I've been sinfully discontent with my home, more focused on how I'm working for my home, rather than how my home is working for me.

It is a fine line between glorifying the Creator and the created.

But at the same time, I believe there is a God designed desire in all of us to be surrounded by beautiful things. I think we all can relate to savoring the last colors of a fading sunset. Reveling in a tall oak's strength, or the detail on a flower petal. Appreciating the stroke of an artist brush, the chisel of their blade, or the fine lines of their sketch.

We're hardwired to be drawn to beauty. To be attracted to loveliness. To want to be surrounded by prettiness. Our creator is creative, and he made us in his image - which means we were made to be creative people. He gave us tools and talents to create beauty and order - the only response we can give is to do just that in our own lives. And so it is only natural to desire to live in a space you feel comfortable in, enjoy spending time in and find beauty in. To take time to invest in our homes to create beauty, peace and order not only loves our family well, it is to be a good steward of what God has given us.

Yes, from an eternal perspective, the items we decorate with are unimportant. Frivolous. Worthless, actually - they are the things that moth and rust destroy. Yet these very items are the things we use to create spaces that can be used for so much more - for an eternal purpose. By creating a cozy cluster of chairs around a coffee table, complete with warm throws and pillows, we can foster conversations of the deepest kind - because making people comfortable in the space they are in can make them comfortable in the skin they are in. Through a well thought out living room arrangement we can host Christmas and Super Bowl and Fourth of July parties, welcoming in friends and strangers alike, developing unexpected, yet lasting friendships and connections.

I think as moms, often decorating can fall on the same rung of the ladder as self-care. We want to do it, but we're busy prioritizing everything and everyone else that it falls to the wayside. It's one of those things we'd love to get done, and think about often, but time, money and indecision get in the way. We tell ourselves, "This isn't my forever home, I'll do it in the next house." or, "It's too much money to do it, I'd rather spend that money on my husband or kids." or, "It could probably be better, but I don't know where to start." And so you never do.

But the excuses in the moment, turn into years of living in a home that we're just so-so about. We're daydreaming about what could be while never doing anything about what is.

And just like self-care, we can't wait for the ideal circumstances to emerge before take time to do it, or it will never get done. And whether or not you or I choose to recognize it, I think spending all our time dreaming about what could be while never dealing with what is creates frustration, distraction and discontentment within our hearts, to the point that our thoughts can become slaves to our homes.

So I keep this in mind: I don't want serve my home, I want it to serve me, my friends, my family, my God.

And I believe, if kept in perspective, interior decorating can help do that.

Your home is an expression of who you are - of who your family is and what they value. It doesn't mean it has to cost thousands of dollars, or take years of work - which I think is the common misconception - it can be thrift store finds on a thrift-store budget. A well chosen second-hand couch, flea market dishes, and DIY painting can and often create a more beautiful and welcoming environment than a living room off the Crate & Barrel showroom floor.

But admittedly, decorating is a skill, just like any other talent, one that is honed and strengthened through time and practice. And sometimes, we need an expert's help. Maybe decorating is difficult for you and only makes your head hurt with frustration when you attempt it, and so you need help from the ground up, taking a room from nothing to something. Or maybe you enjoy decorating, but your design muscles still need a little strength - so you just need help with finishing touches to pull a room together, or with an oddly shaped room that's giving you trouble.

For me personally, I identified with the latter. I had a lot of the groundwork laid but I just couldn't seem to make it all work together. Because of indecision, our living room was often in an unfinished state: projects only half done, ideas executed midway, and lots of clutter from things that I was still "trying out" only to return a few weeks later. Particularly in the living room, our home was no longer serving us well because of all my indecision. It didn't feel welcoming or relaxing, it felt disjointed and half-finished, each day my husband coming home to something different or new, and that's fine for a while, but eventually we all grew tired of it.

As the frustration started to build for both my husband and I (him with me, me with the room), I started thinking about seeking a professional's help. Someone to bounce some ideas off of, to guide my decision-making and ward off unwise purchases. Someone to encourage what I thought would work and push me on things I didn't think would. Really, I needed someone to push me to finish it and stop thinking about the space so much. I knew it could serve us better, but because of indecision, I was serving it.

After talking with my husband and settling on a budget (abliet, a very small one) I reached out to Anne Golliher, an interior designer here in the cities, whom I had several mutual friends in common, and had heard good things about. Thankfully, she agreed to work with me right away, and as you've seen, helped me to create a space I'm not only proud of, but a space that expresses who my family is, and what our family is about. A space that serves us well.
As Anne and I were chatting about this very thing - this idea that a well designed interior is not achievable or worthwhile for us "regular people" we talked about a few myths that exist, and why hiring an interior designer is not only a valuable choice, but a practical decision.
  • Save Money - Let's just tackle the big one first, okay?  When I approached my husband on hiring an interior designer, he had the same reaction 99 percent of the husbands in the world would have. "No way, you can do this on your own, it's a waste of money." While I appreciated his faith in me, truth be told, if we looked back over the last five years, I personally had wasted a lot of money because of his (and mine for a while), "you can do it" mentality. Have you ever purchased something, then realized it doesn't work, or grown tired of it past the date of when you can return it? Or have you ever painted a room, one, two even three times looking for the perfect color? I'll be the first to raise my hand on both of those. Working with a professional helps you to avoid costly mistakes; they can tell you what works and what doesn't before you spend your money on it. Plus, they know where to go for resources, and often they're able to find a "look for less," or even land a trade discount which wouldn't normally be available to you. Another thing Anne did that I really appreciated was to help me discern where to spend money, like the wallpaper. At first, I really struggled with spending money on wallpaper, but she helped me understand that it's like investing in a piece of art and through conversations and Pinterest, also helped me see how much it would "make" the room. We saved money in a lot of other areas like landing the side tables off Craigslist, or shopping clearance aisles for tchotchkes, but that wallpaper, well it was worth every penny. And for the record, my husband now believes a little help is definitely worth the money. 
  • Save Time - Particularly for us moms, time is one of those resources we can never get enough of. I worked with Anne for about six weeks to take the rooms from incomplete and disconnected, to fully finished and unified. Working with a designer saves a ton of time. Depending on how you set up your relationship with them, they can take the room from start to finish, or if you like doing more of the hands-on work - like me - they can help you know where to go for products, what brands to look at and some of their favorite places to shop, saving you time while you do the actual legwork. Plus, they can tell you exactly what to look for, so you don't spend your time looking at items that won't work. Anne suggested we find two midcentury side tables for either side of the couch and showed me a few pictures of what she was thinking of. From there, I scoured Craigslist to come up with the two you see in the room. Having a clear vision from her kept me focused in my search and I was able to confidently pull the trigger once the right ones popped up. 
  • A Fresh Perspective - Designers work with furniture and decor all day every day. Most of them can walk into a room and immediately tell you what works and what doesn't in a space. They're talented at space planning and furniture layout, giving you new ideas for how the room can be set up. Anne completely rearranged our living room when I thought there were no other options than what I had before, and I love it. The room is so much cozier and conducive for conversation, plus it created a great space for play in front of the card catalog. It was something I wouldn't have done on my own. In addition, designers are great with knowing what pieces can be repurposed, eliminated or added to a room. Often we can be so attached to our stuff, that we don't know what to let go of or where it might work better in our homes. Anne was awesome at working with what I had first and foremost, then helping me know why certain things wouldn't work, or why other things should be added. 

Maybe you're frustrated with your home because it doesn't function well for you, or you feel stressed out because it's disordered and cluttered. Maybe you've lived with bare floors and walls for years because you can't decided what to do and you're afraid of not making the right choice. Or maybe you don't like having anyone over to your house because you're embarrassed or ashamed of the way it looks, but don't really know how to make it better. Or on the flip side, maybe you love to host, but you're constantly giving excuses for why "this or that" are not done, or don't look as good as you'd like. (Which is just as bad, and I'm very guilty of this!)

All of these things are ways we can be enslaved to our homes - creating discontentment and frustration in our hearts. Not only are these attitudes all sources of pride, they also don't serve and love our families well. Remember, it doesn't mean it has to be perfect - in fact it shouldn't be. As moms, we know our kids will only make messes, so even if we could get it be so-called, "perfect," it wouldn't stay that way for long.

It's not - and can't be - about making it look like a picture in a magazine or on a blog or on Pinterest. That's the wrong motivation. Taking time to invest in our homes isn't about impressing people, it's about welcoming people. It's about creating a space that works hard for our ourselves, our husbands and our kids. And to get it there, that may take seeking out a professional's help, and it may not. For me, it turned out to be the right answer, and I do think more people should consider it - after all, many of the reasons people don't hire an interior designer are myths. But I also recognize that it might not be the right time for you and that's okay too - it's still important to take time to invest in your home. Start with what you have, shop your house, be okay with slow decorating, try a new arrangement, and edit, edit, edit. (A lost art in my opinion.)

We all love beautiful things. It's by design. So channel that God-given desire into creating beauty and order in your home. It's time to stop daydreaming about what could be and do something about what is. So pull out the paint can and change that wall color, drag out the hammer and hang those pictures, or put those throw pillows you've been eyeing on your birthday list.

Yes, your home is not about the couches, chairs, lamps or art, but those are the things that help create a space that has a much higher purpose for what it is about - the people who live there and the people who visit.
“Interior decoration is not just one's artistic efforts, but it is that which your home (even if it is just a room) is. If you are 'decorating' with clothes draped on every chair, with scratched and broken furniture- it is still your interior decoration! Your home expresses you to other people, and they cannot see or feel your daydreams of what you expect to make in that misty future, when all the circumstances are what you think they must be before you will find it worthwhile to start. You have started, whether you recognize that fact or not!― Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking
*Photos by Anne Golliher
*While this isn't a sponsored post, I did receive Anne's interior design consultation and services complimentary. 

Finally Finished // Living & Dining Room Tour

I think it was about five months ago I hinted around at the fact that I was majorly overhauling my living room decor. Well, nearly half a year later and I'm finally done! I was blessed enough to work with a fabulous interior designer here in the Twin Cities, Anne Golliher. She's got some serious skills in creating and executing beautifully designed rooms. And what's really amazing is that she was willing to work with all the existing items I already had, and didn't bat an eye at my tiny budget. And even more impressive, she was game to work with me and my, ahem, strong opinions, being gracious enough to let me come along side her as more of a team member. She struck a great balance with suggesting items I loved, while still gently persuading me to try new things and push the envelop on what I would normally be drawn to. 

One of the first questions people who knew me asked when they found out I was working with a professional on the rooms was, "Why?" Particularly because I enjoy dabbling a bit in interior design myself, and have always worked on the rooms in my house on my own, they just didn't get why I would ever ask a professional for help. Plus, isn't interior design a luxury service? And Mike and I are not exactly highfalutin' folk. So it's a totally valid question - one I wrestled with myself before reaching out to Anne. And the answer to that question deserves a post in and of itself, so I'm going to talk about it in a later post. But in the meantime, take a look at some of her skills and I must say - if you're looking for someone to help you with that room you just. can't. figure. out, you definitely need to look her up. Unfortunately she's not accepting any new clients right now, but her calendar should open up in a few months, and I'll definitely post something here on the blog when she is!

First up, a couple before shots. If you look at my Home Tour, you'll see it looks quite a bit different - I'm a chronic tweaker, remember? I so wish I had better ones, I always hate seeing a before in dark lighting, a huge mess on the floor, etc. - because it's like, "Well, of course, anything would be better than that!" But this is all I could dig up, and it's actually from the first day Anne came to my house and we were in the middle of rearranging the room (With Eli's help, of course.), so it's not even a true before. But, at least you can see much of what we were working with when we started - and how much Anne added to the rooms.  
And the Afters: 

A quick note: These photos were styled out for the shoot (A fascinating process I had never seen before until now - each photo is like a game of "spot the difference!") For the most part, this is what it looks like on a normal basis, but no, normally I don't have a giant green fern sitting on the coffee table with two little ones hanging around. Rest assured though, Eli took every chance he got to smell the "flower" and pick its leaves off. Which proves the case for why I don't have one.) 

* All after photos, courtesy Anne Golliher.
**While this isn't a sponsored post, I did receive Anne's interior design consultation and services complimentary.