Archive for 2013

September, September: A month to remember.

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Oh, September...

A lot of things have changed for me this year.

Mostly, it's been mentally and emotionally.

The thing is, last year my husband was on a deployment...and deployment messes people up.

Sure, there are plenty of people who claim they love it, but I'm calling bull-shiiiionky on that. Seriously. Nobody goes through that sort of insanity, coming out on the other side feeling warm and fuzzy, glowing like they sat down and ate a bowl of sunshine for breakfast. I mean, that's what I tell myself anyway. It makes me feel better about the sad, broken and completely pitiful troll that deployment brought out in me.

The beginning of the deployment was the saddest, but certainly not the hardest, for me.

Man, that day was rough. But even as I stood on that shoreline and watched that dismal grey beast make off with my husband, I had no idea just what was in store for me and my little boy. 

I have an immense amount of respect for the men, women and children who have to do this more than once.

I wasn't there when Harold departed on his first deployment, and I'm thankful. Because now that I've been through it once, I'm very sure that I would not have fared well had my husband's path taken us to the pier another time.

(Here's to hoping the Navy leaves us be and our current plan is kept in place!!)

This time last year, I was at the lowest low in the history of all-time lows. We were so close to the end, but far enough away that I wasn't allowed to break yet. And still...I broke. Mentally, just about every single way, I broke. And then I remembered that I couldn't break I took my little boy and my pups outside and I sat down on the patio, right on the ground, and I drank a beer.

 I drank a beer and I told myself to do better.

I wasn't allowed to cry yet. I had to be strong, to put on my big girl pants and push myself be better, if not for me then for my son, for my husband. I told God I was done trying to do it on my own...and He heard me. After a deployment alone, I found support and I found the strength to make it. 

Slowly, lowly, I crawled to the end.

It wasn't graceful, it wasn't elegant. It wasn't tall or grand or proud. The end was nothing like I had imagined it would be. It was the greatest relief I have ever felt, but it was humble. There was chaos all around us as families reunited, bands played as the sailors stepped into the crowds. But for me, in my own little world, it was quiet and it was calm...when I saw my husband again after 8 months away, there was a silence that I will never forget. Neither of us had to say anything, we were just relieved.

Here is the moment we had wished for since that first photo. In fact, this was the day I had waited for since the day Harold came to me and told me he was joining the Navy. 

The final day of our final deployment.

I know that many of our Navy pals could read this and relate to how I felt, but a lot of them could also look at me and say, "Buck up, buttercup!" I mean, they really could. Most of the friends we have made along the way have been through multiple deployments, some back to back. It is truly amazing to me that they are all still standing, still staying strong. I am in awe of these men and women, and their sweet babies. They are a special breed, a certain type of super human that I could only ever stand behind and admire as I crumple up and grow a beard under a bridge somewhere.

I wasn't made for this lifestyle.

Once upon a time, it was September...of last year. This time last year, like I said, was my lowest low. But it still wasn't the hardest part of deployment for me. The hardest part of deployment wasn't actually the deployment itself. It was in the aftermath. For months, I was convinced we had kicked the beast. My prince charming had come to the bridge, reached down and pulled me out of my sad little troll hole and life was back to normal. But the fact is, it wasn't normal. It was far from normal. 

The reality was that our normal would never, ever be the same normal we had once had.
And it took me awhile to figure that out...and then it took a little bit longer for me to accept it.

Until a few months ago, I didn't realize just how much hurting a heart could truly endure in the deep dark alleys of the pretend-super-human world I had thrown myself into. On the inside, I had become someone I didn't even recognize anymore, all while keeping up with the guise that I had healed. But after going through a few major changes, (in friendships and relationships and in the beginning of new life) and after forcing myself to face my problems and accept that I am, after all, not a super human...

...I can now look back on this past year and say that I am truly healed.

I have a restored faith in God and the power of prayer. My marriage is stronger than it has ever been and I have never, ever been more sure that there is a reason for everything that happens in this life.

Looking back, it makes me sad to think of all of the things that had to happen in order for me to get to this point. But it also makes me thankful that with a lot of help, my life has gone from confused, sad and broken to happy, full and beautiful.

Hello, September.

I'm here. I'm ready. Let's go.

Just a Hobbyist

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The other day, while browsing Pinterest, I came across a photography article about the difference between a 'hobbyist' and a 'professional'. I was immediately interested in what the author had to say and now that I've read it, I feel like I know exactly which one I fall under.

I am a hobbyist.

Not a professional. Nowhere NEAR a professional. I've wondered for awhile what my photography-thing I've got going on should be called, so this is actually quite a relief to finally have something to call myself, other than professional...I'm one of those 'Momtographers' everyone seems to talk so much about. Some could definitely be considered professionals, but most, like myself, just can't. I'm not trained, experienced or making any kind of profit from photography. Honestly, each time a person refers to me as a 'professional', it makes me cringe a little bit...only because I don't feel like I have earned the title. Not yet, anyway...

It's my goal to someday become a professional's right near the end of my current 5 year plan (yeah, I'm one of those people). But for now, I'm just a Mom with a camera and a willingness to learn and play around and teach myself the tricks of the trade...and take a few photos for friends and family along the way. My stuff is far from perfect and it still takes me, on average, 10 off photos to get the good one. But I'm pretty happy with how far I've come in the time that I've had my camera and I'm really excited to see the things I've learned actually making a difference in the photos that I take.

Lately I have been feeling so inspired to work on my photography and I am really excited for some new projects coming up...especially with a little baby bump starting to make an appearance. It's about time I get myself a little more familiar with my tripod and self timer. I can't wait for all of the self-portrait maternity sessions coming my way this summer! And the couples sessions, maternity sessions and family photos for all of my friends willing to let me use them as models...!!

Which brings me to the actual point of this post...

Interested in taking part in my photography hobby?

I am always happy to do photos for friends and family and even friends of friends! If you're here in the Hampton Roads area and you want to do some photos, let me know and we will figure something out. I've learned some new things and I'm DYING to try them!! Every professional has to start somewhere...maybe you can help me get to where I want to be.

<3 Allison

Starting Again...Hold the Rules.

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Blogging is hard.

I don't think I like blogging. At least not the way it's supposed to be done.

I've always loved the idea of keeping a blog. A few years ago I started one, and then I started another one...and then another one...but it never stuck.

This time, I swore it would be different. I told myself I would make it work. It would stick, because this time I knew the rules. I was given a quick crash course of a few terms, tricks and how-to's and I was feeling confident. I was flooded with inspiration, motivation and support...but then...things started to

I was gaining followers, page views and readers...but I was losing the desire to continue, because I was losing inspiration and my blog just didn't have a direction anymore. I began feeling guilty for every day that I couldn't keep up with a post. I felt pressure, a ridiculous amount of pressure that I put on myself, to put up a post every day. I started to feel like I was failing, and then I started to resent the blog...which resulted in fewer and fewer posts about increasingly boring topics. 

It made me feel like a failure...a Mommy-bloggy-interweb-modern-woman FAILURE

And it stunk.

And I didn't like it. 

So...I just decided that blogging wasn't for me. I told myself I was giving up, and moving on. Never to blog again...

Which lasted about a week.

Because just as I had decided to write it off forever, last night and the night before, I was laying in bed trying to sleep...but all I could do was think about the millions of things that I wanted to write about. I felt inspired, I felt like I needed to get up right then and grab my laptop and write. Of course, I didn't...I should have...but I didn't. I wrote down a few keywords on my notes app on my phone and then I went to sleep. But those two nights of constant ideas popping into my head made me realize that I don't really want to give up blogging... 

I just want to give up the rules of blogging.

What does that mean? Honestly, I don't even know...because I don't think there really are any real 'rules'. But I feel like there are anytime I feel like there is a rule I should be following, I guess I'm just not going to follow it. This will absolutely result in less editing, more fun and more 'I don't care what you think' sorts of posts...because, while I'm being honest here...on Facebook, I care what people think. I swore to myself a long time ago that I would never ever post anything negative on my Facebook, because I don't really want everyone on Facebook in on all my daily drama. But Facebook is one thing... 

On my blog? In my space? I don't want to care what you think. I just don't. I love you...but here, in this space...I want to write and I want to write what I want, how I want and when I want...and you don't have to read it, you don't have to like it and you don't have to follow me. 

This blog will officially become exactly what it is...Project Life.

And in my life? Things are messy. Things are honest. Things are busy and crafty and full.
And I like it that way...and I want to write about it...without the rules.'s to starting over...again. The way that I want to do it.    

<3 Allison.

Sweet, Sweet Baby Goodness


Our little family is growing...

Little Sweet Pea is due Thanksgiving Day!
Once upon a time, I wasn't sure what God had in mind for us. I wanted a baby, I had a plan. 2 years between our kids, that's it. 2 years is all we ever wanted, because they would be close in age, close in friendship and we wouldn't have enough time in between to think twice about our plan. But sometimes our plans just don't go the way we think they should, and usually God has other plans bigger and better than our little plans ever could have been. Turns out, 3 years between our Sweeties is feeling pretty much perfect. 

Aden is ready for a baby, he is ready to be a brother!! 

Which is good, because I don't think he has any idea of the chaos a tiny baby can really bring into his little world of complete, 100%, Aden-all-the-time, Mama-Daddy attention. But maybe it's best to let him enjoy his 'New Promotion' before Baby comes, because once Baby is here...I think it's going to be quite the game changer for our Little Man. And maybe it won't...maybe it will be bliss...I could be...right??


Babies are hard work! And I can honestly say that I had truly forgotten just how difficult this pregnancy thing can be. But now, it's here. Baby is on the way and Harold and I couldn't be happier! It's an amazing thing to experience this gift...again!! I am so thankful for another chance to better my parenting skills, to take another turn at raising a human. Here's to hoping we will be welcoming a sweet little girl Baby to our Thanksgiving table this year...!

**I really have no preference, but I'm just feelin' it this time around. I'm feelin' GIRL...Harold's convinced...BOY. Only time will tell...and a Mother's intuition, perhaps? ;) ** 
Of course, since we've been planning on another baby for quite some time, I've been scouring Pinterest for cute ways to announce the new baby. THIS was a difficult task, and as I searched and searched and continued to see friends and family snag the cute ideas one after another, I had to just keep scratching them off the list. I wanted something to just click, something to just feel right. And it wasn't happening! But then, I found out I was pregnant...and then I had the ultrasound. 

Our original plan was to wait, for as long as we possibly could, to tell anyone and everyone about our new gift. But something happened while I was in that little room, looking at the sweet little blob on the screen, watching the tiniest heart just beat, beat, beating away. 

I fell in love...

I felt a connection and I just knew that this was going to be a good, good thing. Our lives will never be the same now, because this little Baby is coming, and this little person has something huge in store for me, for Harold, for Aden and for the world. I just know it, I can feel it. This Baby is alive and well, and I love them.

So how does one keep that secret? How do you hide that kind of love? The love you want to share with anyone who will listen...
...or anyone who likes to look at cute pictures of baby shoes...

It's a tough thing, knowing when to share this kind of news...but HOW became my biggest issue real quick once I had made up my mind that the world needed to know now. I wanted unique, I wanted fresh and I wanted something nobody else had! But I also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the idea of using sweet little baby shoes paired up with the family shoes...and chalkboards...they are EVERYWHERE, and I'm not ashamed to say I've jumped on that bandwagon, but I just didn't want to copy anyone. And then, I got an an angel touched my shoulder and whispered in my ear...

"Dear Allison, obsessed with can pin your pins and use them too..."
"But I don't want what everyone else has. I need something divine, like, I need some intervention...can you do that for me? Something glowing would be nice..."
"Negative. Use your pins, but give them a twist. Play with the angles...and be blessed, my child."
"...boom. Done."

And so I did. And it was was DIVINE!! Seriously, I'm so happy with how the photos turned out!! The angles thing only really mattered for the shoes, but once those turned out so amazing, my mind just started ticking, as it does when the creative juices start flowing, and things just started happening. I don't know how it happens, or why, or how to control it...but when things start to just click I usually don't bother questioning it. I just shut my thinking mind off and just let my creative mind take over. 

...did I just leak a little of my crazy? Forgive me...let's move on...quickly... 

Are these not the sweetest photos ever?? Oh my word...


Hello, Again...


Life is good.

My world is peachy, my days are busy, my 2 year old is potty trained (except for night time) and my worries are few.

I am a very happy girl!

After a few weeks of 'me time', I'm ready to ease myself into a new routine. I'm refreshed, relaxed and looking forward to the greatness that is bound to unfold in this beautiful somewhat-new year.

2012 was a very challenging year for me and my little family. And after such a long year filled with so many big changes, trials and triumphs, a girl just needs some downtime! And I'm so, so thankful that you've stuck around while I have taken a few weeks to get my act together.

So, let's catch up, shall we? Grab a good cup of coffee, glass of wine, bag of chips, box of cookies...or whatever it is your heart so desires...and enjoy this little reel of life that iPhone photos!!
Here's what's gone down while I've been gone...

One of our many trip to the MacArthur Mall to release as much energy as this kid can muster.

I took to Pinterest (once or twice) while away and found a few projects to get done. One of them being a nap mat for Aden, made from 3 yards of fabric and 3 pillows from Wal-Mart. $25 and 20 minutes of sewing. Highly recommend this one!! 

Our obnoxious sweet corgi, Harley, met her Baby Daddy, August. These two lovebirds will hopefully give us our first grandpuppies sometime this fall. (Yay, corgi babies!!)

I made up my own project. I wanted boxes for our laundry room, but didn't want to pay money for them. I'm cheap...

So I made some. $0.69 small moving boxes from home depot, 3 remnant fabric sections from Jo-Ann's Fabric and some hot glue. These puppies hide all my clutter like it's nobody's business!
This is pre-glue. I just taped the fabric to make sure of the fit. The inside is boring brown...but they sit high on our laundry room shelf anyway...never to be seen! I'm in love with how simple this project was, and the final product is exactly what I wanted. Clean, organized clutter hiders.
See those glowing boxes up there? Forgive the lighting...that's next on our list. Clutter be gone!! You'd never know what I was hiding up there...(all of our laundry room re-do project supplies...) These boxes do the job, and I paid approximately $2.00 per box. Give it a try! Let me know how it goes!
Oh yeah, I'm blonde again! Hello, natural roots. Goodbye expensive brunette upkeep. And hello, bangs! Ignore the poofy locks...this was after some serious hand-smash-flattening as soon as I left the salon and sat in my car. I'm IN LOVE with my new do. Just not the pageant look that every stylist seems to adore...
Remember our laundry room makeover? Here's the final touch. Custom shelves, made and installed by my handsome hubby. I have yet to paint them, but I still just can't get over how much I love them! Laundry Room Re-Do: Check!!

Still here? Excited for more?? Excellent.

Remember our living room? Remember how dark and brown it was? I used to love it. I painted this room this way for a reason. I wanted dark, warm and cozy. I wanted rich and I wanted bold. It was perfect...but then I got bored. And after a year of chocolate browns and wine reds, I needed a change. So after my husband finished wiring our TV (notice the lack of wires hanging down and around the screen?! He's amazing, right?) I figured it would be the perfect time for a new color. 

(Excuse the mess, and overflowing baskets...we were in transition mode, from project to project.)
At first I considered a tan color...but ultimately decided that it just wasn't a big enough change. Those who know me best know that I can't just do things small. I have to go all the way, or it's just not good enough.
 And then there was...


That's right...I went straight from dark cave to Easter egg. And I LOVED IT. But then I didn't. And I almost painted over it. But then I loved it again. And then I didn't...And then I painted all of my doors brown. And now I love it again. Especially now that I've done this...

In preparation for our newest project (just's coming...), I moved our entry bench over to the empty corner of the living room/office space to create a little reading nook for our book hungry toddler. This freed up some basket space (so long overflowing storage baskets) and gave Aden his own area specifically for reading. I'm a big fan of the dark browns I love as accents instead of the main shebang. It feels so much bigger and brighter in our little living space!

And, speaking of bigger and brighter, that brings me to our newest thing going on...

This was once the home of our tiny entry closet. Thanks to the skills of my multi-talented, beefcake of a husband...our closet is on its way to becoming a cute and functional, clean and organized little entry...something kind of like this.

Which is a link to a site full of mud room ideas...but this is the look we are wanting to go for. Sort of...but smaller...and less green...and more us. Less Pottery Barn.

I'm SO excited!!

So, that's what I've been up to while I've been away. Along with countless game nights, dinner dates, lunch dates, living room movie nights, pajama days, do-nothing-but-play-with-trucks days, and a few random roadtrips here and there...which is actually one thing I skipped over for this post...because it's already super long...and there's no need to overwhelm anyone on our first day back! One of these days I'll give our trips a special post of their own...

But for now...thanks, again, for sticking around.

Happy Friday!!