The one where the pool table doesn't fit up the stairs...

We live in an 1898 Victorian house. I could write pages and pages on how much I love it. One of my favorite features is its upstairs with its wonderful nooks and crannies. It is an attic that was converted to living space, but it runs the entire length of the house. When people emerge to the top of the extremely steep staircase, they are always amazed at how much room there is. The people that lived here before us had their Master Suite up there, but there's not a bathroom, and then we'd have our bedroom downstairs to fill. So until now it's just been extra space with a spare bed.

Nathaniel has always wanted to have a pool table. We've looked on Craigslist, but nothing ever panned out.  Nathaniel's principal, Becky, had an Estate Sale last weekend. She is very generously allowing us to forever house one of the three pool tables that were at the sale. It came home to live with us today. I was skeptical that we could get it in our house. Oh ye of little faith!

Hard-working Northfield students...thanks so much guys!!

Needing another half inch

Okay, let's take the door off...
And the sides of the pool table...
At this point, Zoe and I went to the grocery store. When we got home, we were greeted by this...

Taking it to the roof
I am really glad I wasn't here for this part. Up the ladder onto the roof? Seriously???
I'm nervous just typing it. I did ask why Nathaniel didn't take pictures at each step. He just looked at me. You'll just have to use your imagination for these next photos.

Notice there is no glass in that window...

Nathaniel's dream come true! A pool table upstairs!!!
And after the inaugural pool matches, the score stands at Carrie 1, Nathaniel 1. A nice even start!!


Zoe's first year in photos

Oh Zoe.

   You shriek and chortle and dance. You love avocados and bananas and strawberries and meat sauce with pasta. You can say DogDog and Dada and Ahschwa, which is pretty close to Mama, I think. You wave hello and goodbye and night-night. You love to go for walks to the park. You don't particularly love your carseat, but you do tolerate it better when it's just you and me. When Daddy is there too, you want all his attention for yourself, even if he's driving. You love to eat snacks, and when I ask if you're hungry, you cluck your tongue and point to the top of the refrigerator at the cereal boxes. If I give you Cheerios instead of Kix, you furrow your brow and say Arg! When I give you Kix, your smile reaches across the universe. After your nap, the first thing you want to do is say Hi to Mr. Owl that lives on your shelf and secondly you want to find Henry the Dog. I'm thankful for a very patient, understanding dog. He lets you pull his fur and pat his head over and over. You love to listen to music and have started singing with me. Jesus loves your joyful noises, and so do I.

You make our lives better. You make me better. I love you forever and ever. Happy 1st birthday, beautiful girl.

C'mon little baby! Taken the Saturday before Zoe was born on Wednesday...JWild Photography

Our little family
Hours old
First Easter

Three weeks old...looking at the world so seriously

Six weeks old & first smiles

Hanging with Uncle Mike
Smiling with Auntie Kim

Two months old!

I heart Daddy. Seriously. First Father's Day! 2 1/2 months old!

Four months old
Five months!

Still five months, but check out that flower!

First Zoo trip!

Six months!

Happy 1st Halloween!
I love my Auntie Anna!

Seven months old

First Christmas...eight months old
Uncle Jeff & I are good pals

Ten months!

Eleven months old...it's easier to read with your foot in the air!

Zoe is one! Happy birthday to my sunshine girl!


Blessed are the flexible

Many people told us that our first year of marriage was going to be hard. We'd be challenged. We'd fight. We'd struggle. And pretty much, we didn't. Marriage was wonderful and easy. We'd hear about other newly married couples that fought a lot, and we'd pat ourselves on the back (humbly, of course), and smile sweetly at each other and say, "I'm so glad our marriage is so strong!" And it was. And it is.

But this first year of being Zoë's parents has been harder on our marriage than I thought it would be. We've been stressed out by our darling shrieking ball of energy that is already highly opinionated and can't talk yet to tell us what she wants or needs, so she shrieks. And as the tired evening hour approaches, and the shrieking gets louder, the stress builds. When Nathaniel is stressed out, I get stressed out. When I'm stressed out, he gets stressed out. A well-known marriage series calls this "the crazy cycle." We didn't think we had one. This year our crazy cycle was born, and we named her Zoë.

Having a baby brings out the good and the bad in a relationship. The good is obvious: you see your partner being a mother or a father, and the emotion this carries is enormous. When Nathaniel comes home and Zoë lights up and waves and shrieks Dada, my heart gets all mushy. The bad is less obvious: for me, all the little things add up and turn into resentment. It becomes all about me, and the things that I have to do, and the things I don't think are fair. I begin to keep a running mental list of all the things I've done that Nathaniel hasn't. I begin putting my needs first. I get resentful: my desires and wants are more important than anyone else's.

I ran across a photocopied quote that Nathaniel's Mormor had mailed us several years ago.

Blessed are the flexible,
 for they shall not be bent out of shape.

I've learned this year that I'm not as flexible as I think I am. When things happen that make my list longer or cause me to not get things done that I want to, I am decidedly inflexible. It's funny, because this picture I have of myself is someone that is easy-going and rolls with the punches, but when the stresses of life come, I just want to know what's happening next and then what and then what. I feel this little ball of stress begin to form in my very center, and if I'm not careful, it grows into anger.

Learning to be flexible means learning to let go. It means letting little things stay little things.  It means leaving lists undone. It means leaving dirty dishes in the sink (horrors!) so that I can pick up the baby that has attached herself to the back of my legs. It means giving shoulder rubs without asking. It means not keeping lists of who has done what.

Lord, I need your grace to help me to not get bent out of shape.


150 words on...

Today's guest post is authored by my dear friend, Alicia. I've known Alicia since our sophomore year at JBU. We were both education majors and shared books, studied together, wrote learning objectives together (that our professor accused us of cheating on), traveled to student teaching together and were RA's together. She's a Navy wife with three beautiful children, and blogs about her life at Crazy Submarine Lady and is editor and writer at Today's Housewife. She also bakes amazing, beautiful, delicious cookies. You can look up her business on facebook here.

Thanks, Alicia, for giving us a glimpse into your life. Without futher ado, please enjoy her 150 words on the Seasons of life...