I saw a similar idea on pinterest a few months ago and I thought it would be really fun to have Mark take one of me. Especially because it was a way to get a pregnant photograph of me without my face, which is always super swollen by the end of the nine months. I think I want to shoot one every month for the first twelve months of Sebastians life. It will be a fun way to capture how he is growing.
We are so happy to welcome our newest family member!
Sebastian Darcy Stringham was born July 18th! It took us a while to choose a name and we really wanted to wait and see him to make sure it was right. Sebastian comes from Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night. Mark has played the part of Sebastian three times since we have been married. Sebastian is a very honorable man, a good brother, and lives life full of wonderment so we thought it would be perfect. I got to choose the middle name...and now I have my very own little Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. The future Miss Sebastian Darcy can thank me later for giving him such a romantic name. Hopefully he will too.
Here he is at the hospital the day he was born. We think he is pretty perfect. He is our first boy with dark brown hair and blue eyes! We love him so much already. The boys are so gentle and so happy to have him. And Dickens (the dog) even seems protective already. He is fitting right in around here and all my fears of how it would change our family dynamic have been put to rest!
So, a lot of you have asked how things went with the house after the tornado/storm took off the roof from our house. I'm happy to say that, although it took a really long time, some frustrating things have turned out really well. In fact, if I'm looking at things from the bright side, I was at least able to fix or replace things about the house that I didn't love but couldn't really afford to do anything about; like the fact that we had orange wood floors. Who picks an orange stain for a wood floor?
When we decided to move to Texas from Brooklyn it was a really hard choice but it was helped along by the fact that we were able to actually afford to buy a house and the payments would be less than our rent on our 800 square foot apartment.
When we moved here I had a dream house list, a wish list, and a list of reality. Ha! First off, I would have loved to live in one of the older San Antonio neighborhoods where Mark's university is located. It is full of Victorians and beautiful 100 year old homes but that was either well out of our price range or needed more work than we knew we would be able to do ourselves or pay for someone else to do. It's still my dream and maybe someday it will happen but for now I'm good with where we are at!
Next on my list, if it was possible, was a house with an open living plan and lots of northern facing windows in the family room. I'm sure our realtor thought that this request was a bizarre requirement but what can I say? I'm a photographer and I knew that most of the family photographs and activities would happen in the family room and I wanted it to have great light. As it turns out, I found just that! Even though our house isn't tons of square footage it has a really open feeling because the family room is 25 feet high!
So what does a photographer do with 25 feet worth of space? Why, add photographs of course! I knew I wanted them to be black and white so I decided to decorate the room with that in mind.
The first photograph is of our entryway. You can see that all the floors are newly replaced from all the water damage (thank you, insurance). We picked a dark hand-scraped wood to replace the red/orange flooring originally there. If you look at the railing you can see the old orange wood. I need to refinish it myself to match but it will be a while before that happens.
The second photograph on the right is the view when you walk into the family room. Originally, the fireplace wall looked really funny. It was just this tiny little stone surround in this big open room and it didn't fit in at all so we added all the moulding to the fireplace wall and painted it white ourselves to make it more of a focal point in the room. And by we I mean I drew a picture of what I wanted, and Mark and my brother-in-law Mike did all of the work I really love how it turned out.
The third image is an overall shot so you can see the scale of everything. We had to buy all new furniture when we moved in two years ago after the moving truck was in an accident. We've just slowly picked pieces up here and there from various places. I didn't want it to look like it all came together in a set. Some of it is from the pottery barn outlet, which I visit often when they have clearance sales, and most of it is from Round Top and other flea markets and antique/junk shops. I like that it has a masculine feel since it's all boys in this house but me, but it is still light and airy. Plus most of the pieces are industrial antiques so they are perfect for rowdy boys as they are all ready warn down and pretty much indestructible.
The next image is my favorite part of the room and it's a gallery wall. I love visiting grand old houses in England and the fact that they all have portrait galleries of paintings of their ancestors. I wanted to create a modern example of that so I searched a lot of places for old frames. Broken? Super, Shiny gold? Why not! Dirty velvet mattes? Come to mama. If they were cheap and ornate I bought them. And then I brought them home and cleaned them (it was gross trust me), replaired them and spray painted them all glossy black. That big print of our family in Brooklyn? That was a painting of some cougars from Kirklands that was on clearance for really cheap. It was a horrible print of a horrible painting so I just sprayed right over it and mounted our photograph right on top! The last few frames were from the outlets. The British double decker bus sign is a real antique. Mark lived in Birmingham and I think you all know my love for everything British so I had to get it. Now bus rolls are a little overdone but I still love it because it has meaning to us. Throw in a few vintage cameras and letter S's both collected over a lot of years from random trips and there you have it! There are still a few empty frames...and no it's not to be artistic. They are waiting for the baby and new baby photographs so he can be on the wall too! I have to really give arrangement credit to my Mom she drew out a grid and cut little mini versions of the frames so that she and I could lay them all out. And I have to thank Mark and my Dad for renting a fire ladder so that they could reach high enough to hang them all.
The image is another shot so you can see where that wall fits in. It also shows my biggest mistake. I bought the two velvet chairs because they were super cheap and we needed chairs there. I liked that they were wing back chairs and uh did I mention they were super cheap. Here is what I learned from that...yes, I pretty much search for things on sale until I can get what I want for a bargain price or I will make it myself. But I have a firm rule that you should never buy something just because it's cheap or seems like a great deal. I always regret it. Always. It's better to wait and find something else or wait until you can save a little more money to get something you really want. These chairs may have been dirt cheap but they are cream velvet and can't be cleaned well...and they are SO uncomfortable no one will sit in them unless they have too. Live and learn. And now I have one more reason to follow my own rules.
The last photograph on the right is a great shot of the windows and the curtains. How do you find window treatments for double windows? What do you do? And how do you find affordable curtains that are 25 feet high? Thankfully my brilliant and very talented Mom came to visit and we decided to treat the windows in each row like one window. We made four black and white panels out of black sports fabric and canvas twill. Cheap, and I think they look amazing and really add height to the room. I cannot take credit for these at all. My Mom made them and lined all the stripes so that they would all be the same across the room. She had to make them on the kitchen island and they draped all the way onto the kitchen table and into the family room. It was a huge task and I can't thank her enough for all her help. I love them!
So, that is it! A family room that took two years, but I love how it turned out. Moving Truck accidents, Tornados, and homemade projects in all!
Am I nesting? Uh...yeah. I think it's driving Mark and the boys a little crazy.
Since I've been pregnant and since the boys have been helping with more of the cleaning, I don't want to use anything with a lot of chemicals or anything that smells like chemicals, so there are a few things that I have been using and I really have loved during this pregnancy. I thought maybe these suggestions would help somebody else out there. Plus, I just think using a cleaner that smells nice makes cleaning not quite so bad.
Method Lavender cleaner. I know that Method did a little advertising on some popular blogs but this isn't one of them so this is really just me saying I like it. I have written about the lavender cleaner before but it was the dish soap. Sadly, Target doesn't carry it any more and I can't find it anywhere here. But they do still carry the all surface cleaner. I love the smell of this cleaner. It actually smells like real lavender as opposed to some other lavender cleaners that smell fake and soapy. ( I also love Mrs. Myers products but NOT the lavender, it doesn't smell like lavender at all. ) Plus as a bonus it doesn't cost much. It was one of the only cleaners that didn't make me want to throw up during my morning sickness in the first few months of this pregnancy.
Second up is another Method cleaner:
A counter top cleaner I really like that can be used on our wood table is:
Caldrea -Caldrea is a little more pricey of a brand but I really, really love it. They sell a few scents at Target but I really like the Mandarine Vetiver which you can find on-line or in higher end stores.
Lastly, this isn't a natural type of product but here in Texas the water is extremely hard and has a lot of Calcium in it. After a few months all my glasses were covered in hard-water spots and it was driving me crazy. A friend suggested a product called Lemi Shine. I was sceptical but I tried it in the dishwasher and it worked wonders!
There you have it. My current cleaning supplies. Exciting? No. Necessary? Yes. Hope it makes your cleaning time just a little bit better.
I am almost 37 weeks pregnant and I have an induction date all set up so I know that in just two and a half short weeks this baby with be with us ready or not! Right now I'm leaning toward not. We have a stroller and a car seat, a basinet, and some clothes. But I haven't picked out a crib, baby monitors or gotten a baby bath. I'm not too worried as those are all things that can come later. But I do worry I've forgotten something important.
This morning as I was standing at the counter cutting up a bunch of fruit for breakfast. The boys were sitting at the kitchen island chatting and laughing, Mark was underneath the kitchen sink fixing the faucet, our little Scotty dog was where he always seems to be which was a sleep on my feet. I stopped for just a second and looked at them all and listened to the happy chatter and I got teary. It's partly hormones I'm sure, but for that moment I thought about where my life has lead and how years ago I would never have imagined being here and yet here in that moment it felt like everything was just as it should be. I have my own house, two happy, healthy, no longer little boys, a husband who wakes up and asks me first thing what he can do to help. And then doesn't complain, even though I'm sure he wanted too, when I asked him to crawl under the sink and fix it. The summer sun was shining and for once the kitchen was fairly clean. It was such an ordinary moment and yet for that split second I could see how perfect it really was. I wanted to get out my camera and take a picture but I didn't want to disrupt the moment.
Sometimes I worry about what adding a 5th person to our family will do. I have no doubts I will love this little boy with all my heart, I feel like I already do. There is something about knowing it's your last time pregnant that makes every little movement or kick special. But right now our family is doing so well. We had a hard last few years and it seems that finally everything is settled and we are all content with our lot in life. Will he be healthy? Will he be a good sleeper? Or will I spend my life as a zombie? Will the boys take to having a little person ruining their lego ships and pokemon cards? Will they love him and teach him what they already learned in their short lives? Or will they ignore the little boy who will be 8 and 10 years younger than them? Why did I think this was a good idea? I feel like the boys somehow managed to become amazing little people despite my Mothering not because of it. What if this baby doesn't take it as well? These are questions I find myself asking the heavens every night as I lay sleepless in bed and the closer it gets to the baby arriving the more questions I have. Please tell me I'm not the only Mother to feel this way?
Don't forget registration for Oh Shoot began tonight! There are already only a few spots left in the extended version so head over to www.Jessicasprague.com to register! If you missed the description just scroll down, the give-away is over but the class description is still the same.
I was looking through some old files today to find an image and I came across these images from my little brothers wedding rehearsal dinner. I thought you might like to see them!
Originally my Mom wanted to have a more formal dinner up at Sundance but Brenna had a lot of family in town and they wanted to keep the dinner nearby so they could get ready for the reception the next day so they offered up their backyard as a location. My Mom is a fantastic party planner so she went with it, and picked a picnic theme and red and white for the colors and we all pitched in to help her vision come alive. For food she had the B.B.Q. sandwiches catered, a huge selection of chips, potato salad, and spinach salad. My Mom found a really cool vintage drink cooler so we bought up all the glass sodas we could find to fill it! We made all the desserts ourselves. Stephanie is pretty famous for her fantastic pies in a jar but we knew we couldn't pull off a hundred of those the night before on our own so we made Brownies in a jar instead. All the labels were created for us by my bestie Sarah and they use Steph's letter press frames. We also had strawberry shortcake in vintage looking paper bowls, and Popsicles for the kids. It was really fun to work on this as a family. I think if my Mom and sisters and I all lived close by each other we would have parties all the time!
My Mom made amazing tablecloths for all the tables with red and white polka dots and red ribbon. I wish a had a close up of those! I brought white Mexican wedding banners that I purchased here in San Antonio at the Mexican market with me so we used those and some paper decorations from Zurkers. We made a table for the silverware out of old coke crates and wrapped all the silverware in polka-dot napkins and tied them up with shredded book paper, red ric-rac and polka-dot fabric.
The dinner was really relaxed, people were able to walk around and talk with everyone they wanted too, it was really pretty, the food was good and most importantly I think everyone had a lot of fun!
I thought some of you might like to see it as well. It's one of the first color film tests ever. Kodak made this screen test 15 years before the first color movie was shown in theaters. I think it's beautiful!
There were so many great comments I wish I could let everyone win! I used the random number generator and the winner is:
Posted by: Joanne T. | April 22, 2011 at 12:46 AM
Joanne T. you just need to register at www.Jessicasprague.com and then email me your user name and email address and we will get you ready for class to begin!