Monday, December 29, 2014

DIY Christmas Eve Photobooth

This year I was so excited to be hosting my first family holiday and our first Christmas Eve in our new house.  I wanted to make it extra special and began thinking of ideas.  I saw some pinterest posts and decided on making my own "Photobooth" for the night!  Here's how I created this project:

Items Needed:
Wrapping Paper
Green & Red Marker
110 lb. White Cardstock
Hot Glue Gun
*Walmart Photobooth Prop Kit

First, I made a sign to say Christmas Eve 2014 in the background.  For this I cut out an ornament I drew for each letter on cardstock.  I just used a cup to trace a circle and drew the hook on the top.  Then I wrote each letter in the ornament with green/red and traced it with the opposite color.

Next, I hot glued on the letter on small red/ green ribbon.  Evenly spacing them out on the floor before gluing them on.

Then, I hung up the wrapping paper in a location I thought would be best.  I measured out the wrapping paper and then cut to fit the door area I wanted it and taped it securely.

Finally, I taped up the sign!

*Ok now for the most important part-- the props!  For this I found a photobooth prop kit in the party section of walmart.  It was a birthday party kit so I threw out all of the birthday props and used their "sayings sign" to trace my own on the cardstock.  For these I wrote out my own that were specific to Christmas.

When it came time for the party we had a blast with this!  I took the picture and then cropped the sides to make it look like a photobooth picture (not my living room/kitchen).  Here's some pictures!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Our Lived Nightmare

I think writing about our miscarriage experience will not only be therapeutic but also educational.  Miscarriage is a very taboo subject that many people are uncomfortable with.  I want to break that silence and open up about what happened.  I'm not ashamed and I am proud to call myself a mom to an angel baby.  Miscarriage can happen to anyone at any point in their pregnancy.  1 in 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage.  This isn't to try to scare you or make you worry, but purely to open your eyes.  After our experience so many women opened up to me about their own miscarriages.  I will be forever grateful for that because I wasn't alone.  The odds were in our favor to not miscarry and we still did.  Something like a 4% chance after seeing a heartbeat (which we did).  But not everything about our pregnancy was horrible.... Here's our journey :)

Andrew and I found out we were expecting on Friday, July 11th.  Besides my college graduation and wedding, this was probably one of the best days of my life.  I thought that I might be pregnant because I wasn't having the normal signs of my period.  I went to lunch with my grandma that day and I felt so sick.  I barely ate and when we were shopping I felt the need to sit down.  I told Andrew that I might be pregnant and he said we would take a test together that night.  But I just couldn't wait.  So I bought a test and I took it at home.  Within a minute the second test line showed up.  I couldn't believe it!  I was so shocked/excited I kept saying, "Oh my gosh!" and smiling A LOT.  I knew then I needed to do something special to tell Andrew, so I decided to go to the store to get some gifts.  (In the meantime, my mom called to ask me some small question that I can't even remember.  It was so hard to have a normal conversation when my mind was running a mile a minute.  I laugh about it to this day.)  During my drive I decided on the gifts for Andrew.  I bought the classic book What To Expect When You're Expecting and a gender neutral onsie that said "My Dad Rocks and My Mom Rules".  When I got home I taped my positive test to the book and put it all in a gift bag.  I was so excited for Andrew to get home!!!  I kind of bugged him about when he would be home lol.  When he finally got home I told him that someone dropped a gift bag off for him.  He opened it quizzically and was super confused by the contents.  Once I told him I was pregnant he said something along the lines of "Oh my gosh are you sure!?" and I was like, "Of course I'm sure!" He was so excited he gave me a huge hug.  We could barely contain our excitement to not call everyone and tell them the news.  But we wanted to wait until my appointment with my family doctor on Monday to confirm it.

My Monday appointment came and it was doctor confirmed that we were having a baby!!!  We told our families and our closest friends in the next few weeks and began imagining our lives as parents.  What gender do we think the baby is?  How will we decorate the room? (and of course all of this is in the midst of a move to a new house).  We were so overjoyed.  By my 5th week I met with my OBs nurse and got that whole process going.  She scheduled our ultrasound for the following week when I was 6 weeks and 5 days along.

Of course the google freak that I am I got kind of worried for the ultrasound.  What if there's not a heartbeat or the baby hasn't developed?  Google is never a good friend I've learned throughout this entire time.  But our appointment came and we went in for the ultrasound.  Right away we saw the heartbeat and Andrew and I both breathed a sigh of relief.  (Like I said those statistics go down!.. HA) We saw our baby's heart beating at a strong 122 bpm.  The baby did measure a little behind at only 6 weeks 1 day but it wasn't a concern at all.  We were ecstatic and we stared at the picture we got all of the time!

At this point I started a classic "weekly bumpdate" that I sent to my closest friends and family.  This was fun and gave me an opportunity to use my chalk wall!  I would write down milestones that the baby was making that week.  Andrew loved when it came time to taking the pictures (not).  I was sooo picky about how I stood and looked lol.  I did week 5 through 9.  Week 9 was actually taken in our new house (chalk wall was definitely my first priority lol)!

The next couple of weeks go by and things start to settle down.  We closed on our house and began the moving process.  I wanted to wait to announce to "the world" aka Facebook until I was 12 weeks along but the excitement got the better of me.  When I was exactly 9 weeks we posted our adorable announcement (that I made myself lol) on Facebook.  I was so excited to do this and the amount of joy from everyone we received was amazing.  After the miscarriage I was beating myself up a little bit for posting the announcement on social media.  But like I said earlier a pregnancy can be lost at any point and you're never really "safe".  The support I received was definitely comforting, so thank you!

My next appointment was scheduled for August 28th.  I was 10 weeks and 5 days along at this point.  The night before my appointment I had a dream that the baby was a girl.  Up until this point I had had a few dreams about the potential gender but never a for sure answer.  But this dream was different and I knew that it was a sign.  To be continued…

I don't think I will ever forget the weather that day.  It was one of the gloomiest days of the summer.  Horrible rain and it was pretty chilly.  I told Andrew I didn't want to go to the appointment.  I think maybe I subconsciously knew something was wrong.  I dreaded it all day because it was in the afternoon.  But at 4pm we went to the appointment.  Our doctor said we might be able to hear the heartbeat on a doppler but that it might be too early so we shouldn't be concerned.  He tried for a little while but we weren't getting anything.  He said we would try an ultrasound in his office.  Andrew and I were actually excited because we didn't think we would get to see our baby that day!  We get all ready and he starts the ultrasound.  At first I wasn't too concerned and we just watched the screen staring at the baby that has grown so much since the last time we saw it.  It actually looked like a baby!  I then realized that he was trying to find the heartbeat.  He tried for awhile and my heart started pounding until he finally measured the baby and it was only 9 weeks exactly (which is almost 2 weeks less than where it should have been).  He then said something along the lines of, "I'm sorry but there isn't a heartbeat".  My mind was spinning.  I was in such shock!  He left and Andrew and I stood there crying.  The only thing I could think of was to leave.  I didn't want to be there anymore.  So we left the room and the doctor scheduled a 2nd opinion from the hospital the next morning.  We spent the entire night crying, praying, and hoping for a miracle.  We went to the appointment bawling.  I'm pretty sure the hospital staff thought I was crazy.  I could barely speak.  The ultrasound tech assured me that the baby probably was moving around too much and my doctor had trouble finding the heartbeat.  I knew that wasn't it, because we never saw it move.  We went in and I laid there while she began the same process as the day before.  I couldn't really see the screen so I made Andrew tell me what was going on.  He said it wasn't good and that she was getting the same results as my OB.  That's when I really started the grieving process because I knew it was over.  I had a missed miscarriage, which is a 2% chance of happening.  Don't you love statistics!?

This ultrasound appointment was so early that my OB's office wasn't open yet.  I called and sort of stalked him until he called me back.  I wanted to get a D&C that day to take the baby out.  I couldn't bare carrying my lifeless child until my body realized I wasn't pregnant and it decided to miscarry.  I wanted to begin to move on and to heal.  I went in that morning to my outpatient procedure with Andrew, my mom, Andrew's mom, and Andrew's grandma met us there.  It was the saddest day of my life.  The saddest experience of my life.  I seriously wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.  I don't think I would have been even emotionally ok if it weren't for the WONDERFUL nurses.  Everyone was so friendly and sympathetic.  One of the nurses even shared her own experience of a miscarriage that helped me, even to this day, so much!!!  After everything I went home around noon.  I spent most of the day crying and surrounded by family and friends who came to be with us.  It was nice to be distracted, I can never thank everyone enough for the love and support in those first few days.

And here we are today.  24 days later.  Throughout these 24 days I have experienced emotions all over the place.  Sadness, anger, guilt, forgiveness, peace, but the questions are ALWAYS there.  Why did this happen to us?  Why couldn't we have a healthy baby?  What if this happens again?  What if we can never have a healthy baby?  Was this my fault? (even though most miscarriages are chromosomal - up to 70%)  It was hard for me to deal with the fact that I would never get to see, hold, or hear my baby.  I was bad and would search the hashtag of what week pregnant I should be and see these pictures of the joy I should be experiencing.  I searched 11 week ultrasounds to see what it should have been like.  Like I said, google is never your friend!  It took me at least 2 weeks before I didn't cry at some point during my day.  I didn't want to be around a lot of people because (as I described it to Andrew) the "kicked puppy look" I got hurt me.  It think the worst feeling I felt throughout all of this was that I let everyone down.  I know it's crazy and no one thinks I did but I felt that everyone was so excited about this baby and I let them down.  I'm sure so many who have experienced a miscarriage can relate to this.  This is still something I fight with daily.

But then there was some light at the end of this dark tunnel.  We had our baby tested for genetics to see if that answered the cause of the miscarriage and it did.  We were lucky to actually get an answer because many parents don't get that closure.  We found out that our precious baby girl (remember my dream…) had Turner Syndrome (Click here to learn more).  This is when a girl only has 1 X chromosome instead of the usual 2 and accounts for 10% of miscarriages.  I was reassured by my OB (and of course google) that this was a random event and that this wasn't passed to our baby genetically from us.  Relief and happiness are what I experienced when finding this out.  Of course I never wanted to be in this situation in the first place but I am glad that it isn't something we have to really worry about in the future.  That it was just a case of bad luck.  I am also happy we found out the gender of our baby.  I wanted a girl really bad.  Everyone (including myself) thought I was having a boy.  But knowing makes her more "real".  She isn't an "it" anymore.  She was a person, she had a soul, and she was loved by so many people and will be for eternity.  I believe that we will see her again in heaven.  God has healed her body and she is in the best place.  Our future children will know about their big sister and she will watch over our family.

I am an advocate for my daughter, who never got a voice.  I am telling "our lived nightmare" in hopes to help other women by breaking the silence.  Never take your children for granted, tell them you love them, and hold them often because I never got the chance.

“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation -- either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.” -- Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day for Fur Baby Moms

I haven't posted in a long time but I have been busy with end of the school year stuff and the married life! Well anyways Andrew has been saying that he was going to get me something for Mother's Day because I'm Brody and Addy's mom. I though that was cute but I wasn't getting my hopes up because he also said he was going to get me a birthday present, which didn't happen (love you Andrew!). Well today is Sunday and I asked him what he got me... And he said he didn't get it. Lol which is ok because I don't need anything.  He said what he was planning was to put the dog's handprints in clay for a keepsake. How adorable! The fact that he even came up with the idea to do that is really sweet.  So after that I decided to get online and look up a recipe to do that. I found out that is was SUPER easy.  Here's the recipe I used:

Handprint (and in my case Pawprint) Clay Recipe
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup salt
3/4 cup water

Mix flour and salt together.  Add water slowly and mix together until it forms a good ball.  Knead the dough a little bit (but not too much that it turns tough).  It is sticky so I used more flour when it was on a surface.  Then shape it to how you want on a plate.  Gently press hand (or paws) into the clay.  I ended up cutting the edges around it with a pizza cutter to form a square shape rather than a circle.  I also added B & A above their paw prints and 2014 below them with a knife.  Bake in the oven at 200° for 2 hours.  Flip over and bake for 30 more minutes.  And there you have it!

It turned out so adorable!  And I'm going to call it a gift from Andrew because after all, it was his idea right??!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Taco Bell Addict

Finding new things to make for dinner is always a chore.  I feel like Andrew & I eat the same things every week!  Tacos, spaghetti, enchiladas, pizza... so I have be on Pinterest trying to find fun new recipes that we will both like.  Here's the latest gem I found and made!

It was a big hit with Andrew & my parents!  Enjoy! ~Brooke

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pinterest Inspired Lifestyle

I have finished another Pinterest project!  I'm on a roll lately....  This one I had pinned for awhile and now that we have our own home, I could finally do it!  Here's our chalkboard wall:

I bought the chalkboard paint and a high density foam brush (so the paint goes on really on smooth) from Home Depot.  We decided on the wall in our kitchen/breakfast dining area.  I then painted 3 coats and let it sit for 3 days to settle.  Then I covered the entire wall in white chalk and wiped it off so I wouldn't get any ghost marks after we wrote on it! :)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

2nd Project of the Weekend

This one I was really excited about!  It was also inspired by Pinterest.  Since moving into our new home Andrew & I haven't really decorate the bedroom a lot.  I saw this and thought we HAD to do it!

This MR AND MRS project was very inexpensive.  I bought each of the letters at Hobby Lobby for less than $3 each.  I then bought the acrylic brown paint and paintbrushes and went home to work on it.  I put two coats of paint on it and made sure there wasn't any spots of the original wood color poking through.  Then when it was completely dry the next day, I hung them up with command stripes so they wouldn't ruin our wall!  VoilĂ  my latest creation!

House Number Sign

So lately I have had a DIY kick, so I'm now working on some crafts!  I am finished with the first one which was inspired by Pinterest:

What I used for this project: All purchased at Hobby lobby - a large letter A (for Anselmi), the number 19, acrylic paint, and pant brushes.

The other project I'm working on I will post soon!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Love is many things...

Corinthians 13:4-7 "Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cold Weekend!

It has been awhile since I wrote a new post!  This weekend was pretty uneventful for us.  On the plus side my best friend/MOH came to visit Friday and Saturday!  It was fun spending a few days with her catching up.  It's been pretty nice having a 4 day weekend because I didn't have school for the past 2 days and Andrew was off today so we got to spend it together.  I've been pretty productive for school and catching up on grading, creating some lessons, updating my school blog, and creating an invitation to a "man shower" for my brother in law.  I am so obsessed with creating invitations!

There's also another wedding party BBQ cookout one but I don't seem to have a pic/copy of it!  Designing is my guilty pleasure!  I also have designed countless t-shirts.  Let me know if you want me to design you something ;)

More for another day.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Handling Unexpected Situations

One of the many things Andrew and I are learning in the first few months of the married life is how to handle unexpected situations.  I'm sure that's a common thing everyone can relate to being out of college and in the "real world" for less than a year (wow I can't believe it is going to be a year soon...).  Well normally I would call my dad the instant I found myself in a hard spot i.e. washer is broken, Andrew's car is stuck in the snow, we need help moving...........Alright alright I still do that, I'm a Daddy's girl!
Well anyway, right before we got married we bought Andrew a new car because his 1998 Grand Prix was entering an age to legally be able to drive itself.  We knew it would be a matter of time even though it had been a tank making it through all of his college years with over 230,000 miles! So we made our first big buy together and we got him a 2011 Chevy Impala!  We loved it when we saw it and we love it now!

So that was pretty expected.  We then went on about our lives for the next few months and then when we weren't expecting it, my 2004 Jeep Patriot stopped working.  That jeep has pretty much given us problems from the beginning and I was hoping to get a new one soon anyway.  However, we didn't really want to get a new one in the midst of buying our new home.  But that's life, right!?  So after my mom and I researched online we found the perfect vehicle for me!  We already have a car and I kept in mind that we will be toting around youngens in the nearer future so I wanted to stick with another SUV that was preferably better on gas.  At the end of the day we purchased a.....

2014 Jeep Patriot!!!

Even though we didn't exactly want to purchase another vehicle right after we just got one I can't say I don't LOVE my new Jeep!  I would recommend a Patriot to anyone.

More for another day, Brooke :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Our Beautiful Story

So I've seen a lot of blogs on pinterest and facebook so I thought I would start one about our family!  What better way to remember what happens throughout life than document it on a blog?!  So here I go.  I'm going to start at the beginning (but don't worry... It won't be THAT long).

As many of you know my now husband, Andrew, has been my significant other since Freshman year of high school (8+ years!!!).  We've been through lots of ups and downs but here we are today as husband and wife!  (Wow...was the quick or what?  Just kidding there's so much more.)

So there was high school which was pretty long ago for us, so I'm going to skip over it.  Let's jump straight into college.  So after spending freshman year apart at different schools, we couldn't stand it much longer and Andrew transferred to Monmouth College for Sophomore year.  After that point, we made so many memories.  Here are some highlights of our entire college experience in 50 pictures.

Well finally, after 5+ years of dating Andrew proposed to me our junior year in front of our 3 closest friends.

We couldn't have been more excited and happy!!!  So the planning began.  We originally were planning on getting married on December 21, 2013 but that didn't end up happening because we were finalist in the WQAD Love of a Lifetime Giveaway!

Oh and guess what... we won!  So that pushed our wedding up to September 28, 2013.  We were glad that we had some time after we graduated before we got married because we started our careers.  I was hired as a 4th grade teacher at Southwest Elementary school in Geneseo and Andrew became the Italian Express Manager at the Hyvee in Rock Island.

Then after a move or two, we got a dog (story soon to come) and the summer was over.  We got finally got married!  LITERALLY THE BEST DAY OF OUR LIVES!!!  After 7+ years together we became Mr. & Mrs. Anselmi.

There's over 1,000 pictures of our wedding and there's too many to choose from so I'm only going to post this one.

Our honeymoon was later on because I was teaching so we went over the week of Thanksgiving.  We went to the Smoky Mountains in Knoxville, TN and spent a few days with my family in Georgia.


So back to the story about the dog.  Well my mom and dad have 5 dogs so I am definitely a dog lover.  One day I was talking to my best friend, Kayte (also Maid of Honor) about how I wanted a dog.  Well within the next few days she gave us the BEST wedding gift of all time our fur baby, Brody!

He is a Miniature Australian Shepherd and the most adorable boy ever!  He is such a good dog but we thought he needed a friend.  So not too long after we got married (alright a day afterwards) we got his sister... Addy (another Miniature Australian Shepherd)!  They are definitely a good pair together... Brody is calm, loyal, and sweet.  Addy is a fireball, energetic, and naughty.  We love them both and are so happy they are our furbabies!

And along the way we officially became the tiny family we are today with a few exciting happenings (i.e. 2 new cars and a house but that's for another day)!

So there you have it.  I told you it wouldn't be that bad.  Love, Brooke :)