Basement is DONE. (“Done.”)

I put the second “done” in quotes because I am not sure the basement will ever be considered fully completed, but oh well.

Remember three years ago when I was all “I’m writing in this blog post that I’m going to finish painting the basement so that you all hold me accountable!”??

Well THAT plan failed miserably. Eventually wonderful Brenda was like “Hey, let’s paint your basement on Thursday.” So we did.

And then the ugly wood paneling was painted a nice grey color, but I never did the trim.

And then I got pregnant and was making a baby so I was like EFF PAINTING THE BASEMENT, I’M MAKING AN EYEBALL RIGHT NOW.

SO! After we had Daniel, I told Peter that now was the time to actually FINISH THE BASEMENT. Like. Hire someone to come in, knock down ugly wood-paneled walls and build a wonderful space where if we have company coming over short-notice I can yell, “THROW EVERYTHING DOWNSTAIRS NOW!!!!”

A space that will make all of my Pinterest dreams come true that will be a nice play area and rec room and just a place to put all our random crap that doesn’t have a space upstairs.

After months of mumbo jumbo blah blah blah, we had to move everything to either one side of the basement or the other and get READY! And just like that, magic happened and the basement is now like, a live-able space where I like spending time. Two things need to happen before we throw Daniel down there to have the time of his life: entertainment center needs to be anchored to the wall and we need a GATE because out of all of the potentially fun things in that basement, the only thing he likes are the STAIRS ūüôĄ

ANYWAYS here are the before, during and after pics! Nothing has been hung on the walls, but oh boy, do I have big plans! Ugh. I can’t wait.

Wood Paneled Basement
HIDEOUS. The wood-paneled basement when we moved into the house. It’s GOT TO GO. (It should also be noted that the ONE outlet down there didn’t work.)
Ah, sweet Brenda, holding me accountable.

The painted wood-paneled room BEFORE. We had already moved all of our shit out of there. Amazing how quickly things accumulate when you have the “Eh, I don’t know what to do with it… Put it in the basement” attitude.

And these four photos go together to make the massive storage area that we split in two right down the middle for the remodel.

The lumber!!! What a great day!!!

The day after the lumber was delivered, our awesome contractor (let me know if you want a beaming recommendation) came and framed the entire basement. Amazing how quickly things move when they actually get started.

I was going to show the progress pictures, but seriously, who wants to see those? Not me!

Ok, except for these TWO almost-completed-progress pictures because, well… Danielllllllllllllllll.

The day we got the carpet put in. You’d think the kid had been scaling stairs his entire life.
Nope. First experience with stairs. Went all the way to the top. Thought he could turn around and go back down. Threw a screaming tantrum when we didn’t let him.

AND NOW! THE UNVEILING OF THE BASEMENT! (It’s actually not THAT exciting, but¬†I am excited, so. There.)

First, you open the door and walk down the stairs.


But before you walk down the stairs, you stop to admire this new light fixture. Prior to remodel, there was no light in the stairwell which drove me bonkers.


Ok, then when you get to the bottom of the stairs, you turn, and then, the angels start singing.


The tv will go up onto the wall soon, and we are SO EXCITED to have all of those shelves to put our knick-knacks that we’ve collected from around the world on all of our travels.

You may recognize the furniture down there as the furniture that USED to be in the upstairs. I forgot how hideous it is. But seriously, it’s so comfortable. And all of the seats recline. It’s actually perfect basement furniture, though it fit in much better with the wood-paneled walls than it does with our nice walls and carpeting.


You’ll notice the line of things that will so somewhere on the walls.


You can’t really see it, but above the desk near the ceiling is an outlet and cable hook-up. Someday we dream of putting a bar area in the basement, and that’s where it will go. I think for now we’ll cover up the high outlet with Chewbacca.

That door back there by the desk is the bathroom. I’m really excited that we now have three full bathrooms. I am not excited that I now have three full bathrooms to clean.


I LOVE the vanity we picked out. Menards. Still looking for a mirror. Actually, I haven’t even started looking for one yet, but I’ve been thinking about starting to look. So there’s that.


The bathroom is small, but perfect for the basement. Also, Only the one wall is that coral/orangey color. The rest of the walls are the same tannish/grey of the rest of the basement walls.


Ok, if we back up now and get another view of the basement, the door that you can kind of see on the right is a storage area, the middle door is a maintenance door, and the door you can kind of see to the left is the guest room.



Lovely guest room that is actually really big.


(That lamp isn’t plugged into anything, but I thought it looked nice there.) I have tons of Pinterest visions of how to decorate this room.


And this is our Harry Potter-esque closet under the stairs. This is where we will send Daniel when he’s bad.


So, when you leave the bedroom and look left, you see the first storage area, which looks so much better when it’s behind a closed door.




And then, directly across from that storage area is the other storage area. (Also looks better when the door is closed.)


There it is! We love it! More pictures to come when it comes together decoration-wise.

Don’t hold your breath for that, though. Based on my track record, it’ll be in the next five years or so.

And lastly, here is another picture of Daniel that I found on my camera when I took the basement pics last night.

I took this pic when he was standing on his tippy-toes trying to open the pantry door. That’s his “Damn, I got caught!” face.

12 Days of Christmas Gifts (2015)

When I published my 12 Days of Christmas Gifts (2014) edition, it was November 2015. But I’ve been thinking that I should post my 12 Days of Christmas gifts (2015) edition in JULY because last year when I decided that I was going to do the 12 Days of Gifts again, I started thinking about gifts and collecting in the summer time. (This may also have had to do with the fact that I was on maternity leave and was in this blissful state of having all the time in the world to do everything I wanted to.)

THAT was SUCH a great idea on my part, because when Christmas/planning for the 12 days came, I had a 7 month old and was working full-time and couldn’t willy-nilly throw together 12 days of gifts like I had done previously, starting December 1.

If you know me, you know how much I loveloveLOVE giving gifts and finding the perfect gift for the perfect person. I NEVER regret doing the 12 Days of Gifts for Peter (until I realize that I used all of my brilliant ideas in December and his birthday is in February, so he ends up with a beard trimmer for his birthday and a wife who is crying because she’s feeling so bad about giving him such a practical gift.). I digress.

For those of you new to the bloggy-blog, the 12 Days of Christmas gifts was NOT my idea, I got it from the brilliant Jenna, but it’s actually all over Pinterest (Sorry, Jen, you were¬†my inspiration though). You give a gift every day starting with December 14 as Day 1, and ending with December 25 as Day 12. You should try your best to make the theme of the gift correspond with the day you’re giving it (PAIR of socks for day TWO), but sometimes that’s impossible and you give a bottle of wine on day 11 because seriously. What comes in a pack of 11??

OMG. Going through my pics to find the pics I took of the gifts and I come across THIS little baldy. UGH I CAN’T EVEN TAKE IT.

SO! Let’s just get to it then, shall we?

Day ONE! (December 14)
U.S.A. ornament

IMG_2474Peter wasn’t supposed to be out of the country when this started. He was supposed to be snug at home. Instead, he was in Indonesia. So I had to do some fast thinking and switch from the original plan I had (which consequently I have no idea what that original plan was at this point). It ended up being cute and made him really excited to come home to me and Daniel.

I’m kind of chuckling because reading this note is hilarious! December was a really stressful month for me because I had given my 2 weeks notice at the company I had worked for the previous 5 years, and the stress of everything made me really sick. My cold virus attacked my eye and it was just awful and gross. Gross eye-gunk everywhere and I couldn’t wear ANY makeup, so that was a really nice way for my friends and coworkers to remember me, obviously at my very best¬†ūüė≥

IMG_2472When Peter texted me and said that he found the gift in his suitcase, I sent him this picture. I am so very proud of the way everything turned out! (It should be noted that Daniel was still immobile so everything stayed right in it’s place!)

Day TWO!! (December 15)

FullSizeRender 6As usual, Jenna’s rhyming genius played a large part in Peter’s notes. She’s so good at that! (Side note: these are supposed to be the best touchscreen winter gloves on the market. Peter gives them good reviews.)

Day THREE!!! (December 16)
A picture of the THREE of us.


(That’s the only way I know how to accurately summarize my feelings about this picture.)

Day FOUR!!!! (December 17)
ingredients (mug, spoon, marshmallows, cocoa mix) to make hot chocolate

The picture that I put on the mug is one of Peter’s favorite pictures of Daniel. I thought this one turned out SO CUTE! Once again, as she does just about every year, my little elf Kim helped get this to Peter on Day 4 when he was in the office. Below is the picture of the other side of the mug.


Day FIVE!!!!! (December 18)
Not 5 things, but had to do with the calendar date.

IMG_2494Ah, Star Wars. Not a year goes by that I don’t try to incorporate one of his favorite things into at least one of the gifts. Peter went with a few friends to see the new Star Wars movie on the night that it opened, so this gift was SO PERFECT.

UNFORTUNATELY I ordered the wrong size, so the shirt is a¬†little snug, and of course I can’t return it because I got it off of Zulily. Damn! (But isn’t it a great shirt??)

Day SIX!!!!!! (December 19)
cards dealt in cribbage.

IMG_2461Soooo this gift ended up being kind of a fail for two reasons.

1. It is now the end of July and I still don’t know how to play cribbage.
2. I actually bought these really cool world map cards, but I lost them so I had to wrap a deck of cards that Peter already had. I didn’t find the world map cards until the end of January. Whoops!

Day SEVEN!!!!!!! (December 20)
Star Wars movies

That Chewbacca thing is actually pretty big. At the time of these purchases, I knew our basement was going to be finished (almost done enough for me to take pics and write a post!), so I thought this would be fun decor for down there. I am not the Star Wars nut that Peter is, so I actually had to Google Chewbacca quotes.

Day EIGHT!!!!!!!! (December 21)
hot dog buns (yum, hot dogs!) (Seriously, I love hot dogs.)


This one was another kind-of fail, because of course on the day I gave him the hot dog buns, we had plans and didn’t eat them. HOWEVER, they DID get eaten eventually, so I actually call that a win.

Day NINE!!!!!!!!! (December 22)
countries visited in 2015


Hahaha! You guys! So many fails! I had asked Peter a WHILE before getting this map how many countries he had been to in 2015, and the answer was 9. *Until RIGHT BEFORE day 9 when we learned he had actually only (“only”) traveled to 8 countries, but had been to one twice. Oh well! This map is still really awesome. It’s a map (obviously) covered in that scratch-off gunk, so every time you go to the country, you can scratch it off!

Day TEN!!!!!!!!!! (December 23)
TEN cutesy little baby toes (although… Daniel actually has HUGE feet and toes)


I’m finding a theme that all of my favorite days have been ones where I was able to incorporate Daniel. This was an¬†almost fail because Daniel was (and still is) REALLY wiggly, so getting these footprints done was NO EASY TASK. It was actually a really good thing that Peter was out of the country right before the 12 days started, and also a good thing that I had taken 2 weeks off between leaving my old job and starting my new job so I had countless opportunities to get this done.

For a while I was like “HOW THE EFF DO THEY DO THESE TYPES OF THINGS AT DAYCARE???” But then I remembered that the ratio is more like 3:1 instead of 1:1. That makes a HUGE difference for handprint/footprint projects AND for giving eyedrops.

Day ELEVEN!!!!!!!!!!! (December 24)
ELEVEN dollars to spend at Los Magueyes.

Los Magueyes has
your favorite food.
Use ELEVEN dollars
To buy a margarita.

Wow, reading that in English really takes away from the cleverness of the rhyme.

Ok, this one was actually a COMPLETE fail,¬†because I completely forgot to get Peter an $11 gift card (once = eleven in Spanish, you’re welcome for the free lesson) to Los Magueyes. So essentially, Peter opened this one and I had to say “Wasn’t that a nice idea?!” Ha!

Day TWELVE!!!!!!!!!!!! (December 25)
hours in a day (kind of a stretch on this one…)


And that, my friends, brings us to day 12. Peter and I got Apple watches at the end of last summer, and one thing we were constantly wanting was a little stand to charge them up with. If you have an Apple watch and are looking for a stand, I highly recommend this one. It has a sort of sticky padding on the bottom, so it doesn’t slide all over the table surface, or wherever you’re charging it up, when you attach the watch.

So! There you have it! I didn’t do a “big gift” this year, because, well. I just didn’t feel like it, and I thought my love was gift enough.

If you’re planning on doing the 12 Days of Christmas gifts and you have children, it’s never too soon to start stocking up on gifts or ideas. I also HIGHLY recommend keeping a list of things you’ve purchased AS WELL AS where you’ve hidden the gifts. The only way I was able to do it last year with a 7 month old in tow was because I started planning early. Speaking of said 7 month old, let’s look at this picture which is one of my FAVORITE pictures of him.


I stand by my original caption to this photo that I put on social media that the only thing I love more than Christmas is a baby in a sweater vest.

That round head! Those chubby hands! Ughhhh stop growing uuuuuuuuup.

For more ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas, check out what I did in 2013 and 2014.

First Birthday: THE PARTY

Oh my gosh, you guys. Do you know what? I LOVE planning parties. I LOVE hosting parties. I have been excited about my child’s first birthday since before the child existed for an embarrassingly long time. A theme! Cupcakes! Party favors! Food! Balloons! The gamut!

I should probably say that I am completely aware¬†that Daniel will not remember this party. But do you know what? I have decided that this party is as much for me and Peter as it is for him. We’ve survived the first year of parenting! Being Daniel’s first BIRTHday party, I feel completely justified in celebrating the fact that I birthed a human one year ago.

Anyways! The party! Great reason to get the landscaping around the house redone! I’m sure at some point or another, I’ve shared that we are not really the outdoorsy types.We like to spend time¬†enjoying the outdoors, but not gardening or mowing the lawn. So, with that being said, it shouldn’t be a big surprise that our landscape went to hell.

Blah, blah, blah now our house looks totally fab.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 11.12.49 AM
I forgot to take a before picture, but this is a pretty close representation of what the house looked like.

OMG can you even stand it?? I feel like when people come to our house now, they’ll be like “Wow! These people really have it together!”¬†It’s a nice first impression before they really get to know what we’re like.

Anyways, party weekend! Obviously because my body always has perfect timing, I got a HORRIBLE head cold the Thursday before the party. Basically my head feels like it’s been underwater for the last three days. I have to gage people’s reactions when I talk to them to get a read on the volume of my voice, and I can’t hear out of my left ear. It’s been fun.

My cousin Kelly and Marty’s fianc√© Kathleen came up on Friday and were a HUGE help to get everything ready.

After much theme deliberation, I decided on the “Uno” theme (thanks Nicole for the great idea!), and it was so fun. So fun! Daniel was so great the entire day. He’s such an extrovert; as soon as people were here and he realized he was the center of attention, he was like WHAT NAP?! He¬†powered through the afternoon, went to bed at 7:30 and woke up at 8 this morning.

The weather was BETTER THAN I COULD HAVE DREAMED with clear blue skies and a high of 80*. Seriously. Just an overall gorgeous weekend with too much food, wonderful family and friends, and celebrating our sweet boy. Sigh.

Enough talk, here are the pictures. And there are a lot of them because I need to document what an awesome mom I was to my first-born to show my other children that at one point in life I had it together you only turn one once.

One more thing – my nice camera that I got for Christmas a couple of years ago WASN’T WORKING and I was about to cry. So excuse these nast iPhone pictures. I don’t want to talk about it.

I spent an embarrassing amount of time on this sign but I LOVE IT. I was too proud of myself, guys. Too proud. (Also, the blue was more readable in real life.)
Bowls were filled with red, blue, green and yellow M&Ms because Kathleen likes sorting.
I also spent an embarrassing amount of time last Saturday night designing this banner. (Also something I’m too proud of.)


Here’s a close-up of the banner with two of my favorite monthly pictures.


FullSizeRender 3
Simple decor in the living room.
Are these mini Uno cards not the cutest things you’ve ever seen??

We kept the food pretty simple – very “summer cookout”.

FullSizeRender 2
Adrianna also made these ADORABLE animal cupcakes because she is amazing.

It used to be SO MUCH EASIER to take pictures of Daniel before he was a toddler.

I had intel that Daniel was getting a water table, so I alerted parents to bring sunscreen and swimsuits. Still smiling at how much fun all the tots had at the party!

While everyone was sweating in the sun, Lindsay said, “Daniel should probably open his presents, because there’s something else that the kids would probably like.”

We are going to have a summer o’ fun with tons of outside toys and countless adorable outfits.

Daniel was SO TIRED at this point, but when he saw the cupcake, he obviously acted like he hadn’t eaten in 3 days. (Please note his wooden spoon that had to be on his tray while he ate.) (Also, the¬†real reason that I was so thrilled about the weather was because the cake smash could be outside. Priorities.)

Love does not even begin to describe how I feel when I look at this picture.

Ugh. What a fabulous day. FAB.U.LOUS. DAY.

Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate our little guy. We love that we have so many wonderful people in our lives!

So many emotions this weekend.

But what else is new?

First Year


Guys. I haven’t written in so long! I feel like I JUST wrote about how Daniel was born and perfect and all things rainbows and sunshine because OMG God entrusted us to care for another human.

Turns out that was a year ago, and in the last year I have put many other things ahead of writing, namely making sure Daniel isn’t going to bed with sheets that he peed on. (Ok, ok, that happened once or twice, or was it three times?. But in the rush of the morning and then the tiredness of the evening I forgot to change his sheets that he had soaked through the night before. At least I put a blanket over the fitted mattress sheet. I’m not a monster.)

And now, I can’t even write about my baby anymore because he is NOW CONSIDERED A TODDLER per the email I got from this morning that didn’t come from “Your Baby This Week” but instead was “Your Toddler¬†This Week” and then the subject was “Your 1-year-old”.

Excuse me while I go weep.

Ugh. I have been struggling all week because I don’t know what emotion I want to feel.

Happy! Because hey! We survived the fist year! We ended the day on May 7, 2015 as a family of three and now we’re ending¬†the day on May 7, 2016 as a family of three, and I call that a win!

Sad!¬†Because Daniel doesn’t like cuddling unless he’s sick or SO TIRED that I don’t even WANT to cuddle with him because he’s whiny and snotty and throws his head back dramatically. (We’re still wondering where he got the drama gene ūüė≥)

Proud! Because Peter went on 9 work trips in the last year that were 7-10 days long, and Daniel and I survived*! And I went on 3 work trips (significantly shorter at 2-3 nights) and Peter and Daniel survived!

*Daniel and I learned that we both get sick of each other when it’s just the two of us and Peter is gone for more than 5 days. The feeling is mutual, so I don’t even feel bad saying it. (Ok, I feel¬†kind of bad.)

Lucky! Because seriously you guys, I kind of feel like we won the baby lottery with Daniel. That’s one of the reasons I haven’t blogged much, I think. No one wants to hear about how¬†good someone else’s baby is. I mean, he has his days – we all do – but overall, he’s a good person.

Frustrated. Two words. Bath time. I loathe bath time. Bath time was enjoyable for a few months when Daniel could sit up but not crawl or stand, and then he started being able to stand up and OMG the anxiety. One of my greatest fears aside from snakes and someone coming to get me in the middle of the night when Peter is gone is Daniel slipping in the bathtub and cracking his noggin’ on the faucet. He gets mad at me because I make him sit down. I get mad at him because, as I sternly tell him in my “mom” voice, “YOU KNOW THE RULES! NO STANDING IN THE BATHTUB” Effective parenting at it’s finest.

Overwhelmed. Because I’m feeling all of these emotions.

For his birthday, we spent the whole day together as a family, starting at 6 a.m. with just Daniel and Mom time, which was mostly a photoshoot because I put balloons in his crib right when he woke up. He was SO HAPPY, and as my sister said, “the definition of ‘good morning, Sunshine.'”

“I woke up like this.” Seriously. He woke up like this. And he wakes up like this most mornings.

Then at 7 we woke Peter up and Daniel got to play in Mom and Dad’s bed for about 25 minutes because OMG THROWING YOURSELF BACK ON THE BED AND PILLOWS IS SO MUCH FUN. And then he spit up all over our bed. Because I love myself more than my child (not really, but kind of) I already changed the sheets. Standards.

Then around 8:15 it was breakfast time, and I’ve decided that another birthday tradition aside from balloons in your crib in our house is that you get to have a sprinkle donut for breakfast. Daniel hadn’t experienced the joy of a sprinkle donut until this morning, and to be honest with you, I was quite disappointed in his reaction. He didn’t like it. As my sister Rachel said, “He must get that from the Romenesko side” because you won’t meet a Vanderstappen who doesn’t like sweets.

He’s thinking “Mom, WTF I want pancakes. You KNOW I love pancakes.”

After the failed donut experience, it was bath time (ūüôĄ) and then WOW was Daniel tired after a morning filled with such excitement!

He napped in only his diaper because I was not about to chance his birthday shirt getting peed on during nap time. 

THREE HOURS LATER he woke up from his nap and he packed up and went to the zoo. Peter and I knew the NEW Zoo existed, but we had no idea it existed only 19 minutes from our house. The weather was great, Daniel was SO well-behaved, and it was quite a splendid afternoon.

Looking at this picture now I’m kind of laughing. We didn’t go boating despite his whale hat and shark blanket. Also, Daniel carries his wooden spoon everywhere and it’s awkward to explain to people because wooden spoons have a bad rap for discipline and not play time.
Daniel looks like this monkey when he is nakey.
I love this picture because it looks like Daniel is a person with a baby head and arms and man legs.

After an afternoon nap, Peter and I – good parents that we are – ditched Daniel with Daniel’s¬†godfather’s family to attend an event at St. Norbert College.

What a delightful day celebrating one of the raddest people I know. It is so exciting seeing Daniel become a real person with opinions and attitude and enthusiasm for life. I mean, the kid gets excited when he gets into the tupperware drawer. TUPPERWARE.

Ugh, I love him so much.

Now I’m going to go hold a newborn sized diaper to remember Daniel’s little tush a year ago as I sob silently while watching my one year old sleep.

First Year Monthly

Hiding Places

Well. I have really outdone myself this time.

So you know how your birth certificate, social security card, and marriage license are like, REALLY important life documents? I mean, the first two are my entire identity, and the third is a major part of my identity but also the legal document that makes my marriage, well, legal.

A WHILE ago, and I mean a WHILE – three years maybe? – I am pretty sure it was back when we were converting our Brewer room to the guest room, so that was… In 2013. January 2013. Thanks for working through that with me. Anyways, many moons ago when Daniel’s room was a storage space for things that we didn’t know what to do with, I had a box full of wedding memorabilia. This included all of the things that I eventually want to put into a wedding scrapbook (3 years and 9 months later… still not even started…) so that we can relive the most fabulous day of our lives for all of eternity. The box got moved down to the basement with a slew of other things.

Shortly after, I, for some reason that I truly cannot remember, was in the basement going through boxes. OH. Do you know what? I was looking for my DIPLOMA. Oh it’s aaaaaaaall coming back to me now. For Christmas 2012, Peter’s mom gave me a beautiful diploma frame. I was so excited to be able to hang it in my office at work! However, it dawned on me, on that wonderful Christmas morning, that I actually didn’t know what happened to my diploma. When we moved to our house at the end of August 2012, it just… disappeared. I was always completed confounded by this, because I can still picture today exactly where I had my diploma displayed in my apartment.

Anyways, I couldn’t find my diploma ANYWHERE. So I contacted UW-Madison and had to pay $55 to get a new one. I remember telling the story to my boss at the time, and he was like, “Huh. I guess when I hired you I should have asked to see your diploma. You DO have one, right?” Obviously his flash of doubt made me expedite the process of getting another diploma.

OH MY GOSH ANYWAYS. When I was looking for my diploma, I opened up my wedding box, and I saw my social security card, birth certificate and marriage license. I had never put them in a safe place after we moved, so there they sat. I remember being SO RELIEVED that I came across¬†them, because, I mean, IDENTITY. We didn’t have a lock box at the time, so I put them in a nice envelope that was clearly labeled and was like “OK, I need to have a really good hiding place for these.” WHY I needed a really good hiding place is beyond me. But I honestly remember thinking, “This is SUCH a good hiding place!”

I also kept all of the document information (what to do if you lose your social security card, confirmation that we had a marriage license, etc.) in a separate envelope labeled “Social Security Card / Marriage License INFORMATION”. I put this “information envelope” in my nightstand drawer.

Fast forward oooooooh 6 months maybe? Something came up where Peter needed his social security card for something, for some reason I think it was a new passport – is that possible? Anyways, he needed his social security card, and it was at his parents’ house. Along with his birth certificate. So the next time we were down by his parents, his mom gave us an envelope with his social security card, birth certificate and immunization form with all of this shots and stuff from when he was an itty bitty baby.

When Peter started talking about his documents, I started wondering about MY documents. I kept this a secret because these documents are not something that you are supposed to lose, and I didn’t want to have to explain myself to Peter.

When we got back home, I went into our bedroom because my nightstand was ringing a bell. All I found was my “information envelope” with no sign of the ACTUAL documents. I went down and searched the basement to no avail. I looked in our file drawer and anywhere else I might keep important documents. Nothing.

Since I didn’t need the documents at that moment in time, I didn’t panic. But it was always in the back of my mind. WHERE did I put my IDENTITY??

A couple of times in the last year or so I’ve thought about how I really need to either find those documents or request new ones. My search was renewed after we got Daniel’s birth certificate and social security card. That’s when I bought a lockbox. So Peter and Daniel’s identities were safe, but mine was NOT because I had no idea what I did with that fricking envelope. I mean, was our marriage even LEGAL anymore if I couldn’t find the PAPER???

This evening, Peter and I were bringing the Christmas decorations (sad!) back down to the basement. Whenever I’m down there in the storage area, I think about my stupid identity. Tonight I casually mentioned to Peter when we were downstairs, “I told you that I lost my social security card, right? And also, my birth certificate. And also, our marriage license.” I was met with a blank stare and an “I’m sorry, what??”

I took that as my cue to find everything stat. STAT.

So I searched the places I had searched before, hoping that I missed something. Spoiler: I didn’t. I was sitting on my bed, going through every scrap of paper in my nightstand, losing all hope, when something caught my eye. I busted out laughing. Really, really hard.

“Peter! PETER! Come in here, you’re not going to believe this. LOOK at where I found my identity.”

I am such an idiot.

I put this very valuable envelope, INSIDE the nightstand. Like, I slipped it between the empty crack between the drawer and the actual nightstand, so it was stuck in this abyss.

That’s my swimsuit/beachwear drawer.


In case you can’t read that, it says, “Marriage license / Sara’s social security card / Sara’s birth certificate”

So after Peter was like “Sara, wtf?” and I was laughing so uncontrollably that I had tears streaming down my face, I was like, “Well shit. How the hell are we supposed to get that out of there? WHAT was I thinking?”

We tried pulling the drawers out. Nope.

I went to the kitchen to get some tongs. Nope.

Peter then left me to my own devices because he was like, “Sara, I really have no idea what you were thinking.” and I was all, “Well if someone broke into our house they would ONLY be after my identity, so this was a really good place to hide it!” … Oops.

I sat there staring at the envelope and then yelled, “I’VE GOT IT!” Peter didn’t look up as I ran (“ran”) down the hall to the kitchen to get the longest wooden spoon we had and the duct tape. I put the tape at the end of the stick and fished for the stupid envelope.


So now I have my identity properly stored in a REALLY SAFE AND SECRET PLACE that I told Peter this time, because clearly, I’m way too smart for my own good.

PS: One of the times that I was looking (again) for my identity, I found my original diploma in one of the storage boxes with junk that really should just be thrown away because it has been in that box since we moved over three years ago. So now I have two of the same diplomas from the University of Wisconsin proving that I am DOUBLY SMART than I thought I was.

That’s how that works, right?

The Romenesko Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas, darlings!

Oh, the most wonderful time of the year! ¬†I know I say it every year, but my word, does time FLY BY. ¬†In last year’s Christmas letter, I wrote about how I couldn’t remember the first half of the year because my mind was all-consumed with the fact that for the last part¬†of the year I was pregnant with our little pookie head.

It’s the opposite this year; I’m trying to recall the first half of the year, but instead can only remember the second half because God blessed us with the most perfect baby boy. ¬†I recently asked Peter, “What did we DO with ourselves before the baby?” as I was kissing sweet, squishy baby cheeks. ¬†I think I watched a lot more trashy tv, and I KNOW that my house was a helluva lot cleaner, but who REALLY knows.

2015 was good to us, folks.  Really, really good to us.

We rang in the new year knowing that we had a big year ahead of us. ¬†In January, Peter had the first big adjustment of getting ready for baby; his beloved Packer room got changed from man cave to man cave/guest room since the guest room was becoming the baby room. ¬†It really cramped his style, and that’s when talk of finishing our basement got more serious. ¬†We saw Daniel’s face for the first time, and we were more in love with him than ever. ¬†Peter traveled to Switzerland for work while I ate ice cream at home.


In February, Peter celebrated his 27th birthday in Mexico while I slaved away at home making him a little birthday cake for when he returned. ¬†We spent a weekend in Chicago for Peter’s birthday. ¬†As usual, February was a pretty quiet month for us and most of the Midwest as we waited for winter to finally end. ¬†With February came the baby’s crib – the first piece of anything that was in the baby’s room aside from the huge bunny my mom insisted on buying at Babies R Us.


March was super exciting with Daniel’s first (“first”) trip to Disney! ¬†My youngest sister Rachel graduated high school, so we took a sister/mom trip to Disney and had the most wonderful time. ¬†My family made being in Florida at 30 weeks pregnant easy, with lots of AC and ice cream treats. ¬†Peter traveled to Brazil in March. ¬†I was starting to get a little bit of travel envy at this point; usually I am the one going to Mexico and Brazil in February and March!!


In April we celebrated our third anniversary and were getting realllly close to meeting the baby. ¬†Peter went to India, and while he was there I learned at a late ultrasound that Daniel wanted OUT and would be making an appearance 2-3 weeks early. ¬†Obviously I withheld that information from the father-to-be until he was home. ¬†I was put on bed rest at the very end of April following a baby shower full of love hosted by my sisters, cousin, and brother’s girlfriend. ¬†The doctor told me to keep my blood pressure down, but that was just impossible knowing the baby was coming soon and Peter was on the other side of the world.


And then… MAY. ¬†Need I say more??? Peter had been home for about three days when we celebrated (and celebrated and celebrated and celebrated!) the birth of our son, Daniel Martin Romenesko on May 7 at 10:09 p.m. ¬†After being induced and heavily medicated, my biggest concern during labor was when my mom told me that she saw the head and, “The baby has DARK HAIR!” ¬†I was very, very concerned about this, repeating, “My baby can’t have dark hair!” ¬†Then,¬†out popped¬†(that’s exactly how it happens! …) our blonde haired, blue eyed boy. ¬†(Head bruises make hair look dark.) ¬†I celebrated my first Mother’s Day, and after 10 days in the NICU we were able to go home with our little boy on May 17. ¬†Daniel happily participated in conference calls, cuddling, monster pajamas and being photographed every 7 minutes.


In June I celebrated my 28th birthday with my two favorite fellas. ¬†Behind celebrating my birthday, my next favorite June event was Daniel’s dresser being delivered so that I could finish decorating his room. ¬†I downloaded the Amazon app on my phone during maternity leave and got to know our UPS man on a first name basis. ¬†Peter celebrated his first Father’s Day with matching t-shirts, and we spent most of the month just staring in awe at our baby boy.


July went by SO FAST as my 12 week maternity leave was coming to a close. ¬†Daniel LOVED his first Fourth of July with three outfit changes because if there is one thing people know about me, it’s that I love America. ¬†I’m so glad that my friends want to impose my love of this great country on Daniel so they got him tons of adorable America gear. ¬†We kept moving through the summer with lots of visitors, which Daniel and I LOVED. ¬†At the end of July, Daniel was welcomed into Christ’s Kingdom with his baptism which we celebrated with family and close friends. ¬†Following that wonderful day was one of the worst days ever – I cried as I left Daniel and drove back to work.


After one week of my returning to work, Peter started traveling again. ¬†The second week of August, Daniel and I had our first of many mother/son bonding times when Peter went to Istanbul, Turkey for work. ¬†Daniel and I spent a couple of weekends in Lake Geneva at my parents’ so that we didn’t get too sick of each other.


With September came the most wonderful time of the year – the Walworth County Fair! ¬†I was so excited that at only 4 months old Daniel was able to experience one of the greatest things of all time. ¬†Never mind that he slept through a lot of it. ¬†Peter took a trip to China where the highlight of his trip was eating at Jackie Chan’s restaurant. ¬†To show my full support of Peter traveling to China, I had Chinese food for lunch a lot while he was gone. ¬†Also in September, Peter and I had our first night away from Daniel while Peter’s parents babysat. ¬†It was my first night away from the baby; I cried when we left and cried when we got home. ¬†I missed the little pumpkin head.


In October, Peter had his first solo-run with Daniel while I was in Madison for World Dairy Expo. ¬†Pretty sure I was the one who cried the most during that whole thing, because the men had a great time. ¬†Peter went to South Africa for work while¬†I tried and tried to get D Money to roll over, but the pud just won’t do it. ¬†He started eating cereal, and we can’t feed him fast enough. ¬†Daniel was the cutest Oompa Loompa I’ve ever seen for Halloween. ¬†We had to force the hat onto his big ol’ noggin, but it was well worth it for the pictures we got!


November¬†came and went really quickly. ¬†Peter stayed on American soil for the month which was wonderful for Daniel and I, as I’m sure Daniel was tired of me being in his face all the time. ¬†I went on another short 3 night trip for work, and while I was away, Peter was super dad and took care of a sick baby. ¬†Since being in daycare, Daniel comes home with EVERYTHING, and since I’m in his face all the time, I usually get it too. ¬†Peter is smarter and keeps more distance, while I just can’t help myself. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, November didn’t go quickly because Daniel and I were sick for half of it and that really sucked. ¬†I got an eye virus, which was REALLY fun, and I was also suffering from REALLY chapped lips (details to come in an upcoming post…) and it was all just weird. ¬†Then Daniel got pink eye, which was a huge pain¬†since he’s strong and smart enough to squinch those little eyes SHUT when he sees the eye dropper. ¬†Daniel celebrated his first Thanksgiving, and his favorite food was Cool Whip which, aside from birthing him, further confirmed that he is indeed my child.


With December came some BIG CHANGES. ¬†On December 4, I gave my two weeks’ notice to CRI after accepting a job with a PR company. ¬†Two days after I gave my notice, our washing machine broke. ¬†Then the next day Peter left for Indonesia, I got a HORRIBLE cold, and Daniel also got sick. Yaaaaaay. ¬†It was a physically and an emotionally exhausting month as I started saying bye to my colleagues that had become friends over the last 5 years. ¬†Peter got back from Indonesia to a very, very emotional wife and a 7 month old who was really happy to have someone hold him who wasn’t going to randomly burst into tears.


2015 was most certainly one of the best years of all time for our little family, as we’ve been blessed with love, overall health, safety, and happiness in all aspects of our lives. ¬†Despite the complaints throughout the year, Christmas is a time to fully step back and reflect on all of the good that God has provided, and trusting in Him fully as He reveals His greater plan for each of us.

We sincerely wish each of you the merriest Christmas full of joy, and we are so excited to see what next year brings.


With love and many Christmas blessings,
Peter, Sara and Daniel Romenesko

PS: When I was making these little collages and seeing Daniel as a teeny tiny baby, the only thing I was thinking is that I need another baby because Daniel is now a big lug who can sit up by himself (But still won’t roll over. ¬†Priorities.) and won’t cuddle with me unless he’s sick or tired.

12 Days of Christmas Gifts (2014)

Before I begin – I KNOW that it is still November. ¬†BUT ¬†This is such a fun gift to give to anyone! ¬†And it takes some planning, so I wanted to share early. ¬†(Lindsay, this disclosure is for you because last year I posted my 2013 Christmas gifts post and you were like “Sara. ¬†It is not even December.”)

I wasn’t going to do the 12 Days of Christmas Gifts again last¬†year. ¬†I really wasn’t. ¬†But then Jenna told me that she was doing it for Mark. ¬†Her ideas for Mark were SO GOOD, so I figured I would do it once again for Peter. ¬†Honestly, if you are looking for a fun and creative gift, this is the way to go! ¬†It’s so stressful and I actually thought about giving up MANY times much fun thinking of the gifts and little rhymes, and even more fun¬†seeing Peter’s reactions to the gifts! ¬†Here are the 12 Days of Christmas Gifts from 2013.

Last year I had to do it a little differently than the previous¬†year because I knew that we would be out of town for almost half of the days;¬†I knew that “hiding” the gifts would be a challenge. ¬†So, I decided to wrap all of them. ¬†And I don’t regret it because it turned out soooo cute. ¬†And I love wrapping gifts.


Because all of the gifts were wrapped, I put all of them under the tree (save a couple that hadn’t been shipped to me yet) for him to see on Day 1. ¬†I left a note on our bedroom door for him to see when he woke up. ¬†I should bribe him with presents more often, because he’s never been voluntarily out of bed before 9 on a weekend until he saw this note!


So! ¬†I now present…

Item 1: Apologies for the poor iPhone photos.  Eh.
Item 2: I actually wrote the below portion of the post just after Christmas last year (I didn’t want to forget about my ideas!), so that’s why it’s in the phase of life where we didn’t know if Daniel was a he or she and stuff. ¬†

Day 1 (December 14): a Dad t-shirt

As you well know, we’re having a baby, and he or she is due at the end of May. ¬†I am totally picturing that Peter is going to be the kind of dad that tells dad jokes and shamelessly embarrasses his child. ¬†Therefore, this t-shirt is PERFECT.

For all of the days, I put the note on top of the gift that was boxed and wrapped.  As you can see, I was MUCH more prepared this year, and had so much fun making all of the little notes and wrapping the gifts!!


I just need to add in right now that Peter wore this t-shirt the day we brought Daniel home from the hospital.

OMGGGGGGG look at how tiny my little pookie head is!!!

Day 2 (December 15): a pair of socks

Creative, I know. ¬†Seriously though, Pete has asked a couple of times for “fun bid-ness socks”.


Day 3 (December 16): Bootstrap to Billions book

A month or so ago, Peter asked me to get this book for him on my old Kindle that he uses. ¬†I never did because I forgot, and then when I was brainstorming gifts to give him, I remembered! ¬†They didn’t have the book available for a Kindle though, so I got him the actual thing. ¬†He tends to prefer hard-copy anyways so he can write on the pages and stuff.


Day 4 (December 17): St. Norbert College blanket

I am a sucker for a cozy throw blanket, so this gift served both of us well.  I wanted to get him something from St. Norbert College, and decided to do it on day 4 since he graduated 4 years ago.


Day 5 (December 18): Meatball dinner

Peter LOVES meatballs. ¬†They’re his favorite meal. ¬†Unfortunately, his wife does NOT love dealing with raw meat to the extent that is needed to make meatballs. ¬†So, although it’s his favorite meal in the world, I make it MAYBE three¬†times a year. ¬†We had planned to go bowling with his coworkers at the beginning of December, so I was kind of like UGH NO because it ruined the gift day. ¬†And then, after this was wrapped, we made plans with our neighbors to get dinner the next night, so we are planning on having the meatballs sometime shortly after Christmas.

Since I couldn’t really wrap the meatballs… I wrapped a plate with a picture of the meal on it. ¬†The meatballs aren’t the star of the picture… but¬†he got the point! ¬†He was very happy with this gift.


DAY 6 (December 19): 6 pack of Mountain Dew

On Day 5 when he was getting his gift from under the tree, he said, “Day 6 is really big!!” ¬†Little did he know…

This was a repeat gift, but who cares. ¬†He sure didn’t!


Day 7 (December 20): Simply 7 

I FINALLY FOUND ONE.  Also a repeat, but I FOUND A LOTTO TICKET WITH THE NUMBER 7 IN IT.  I was sooooo happy.  Instead of wrapping this gift, I put it in an envelope.  I loved that I was using different sized packages for the 12 different days!


Day 8 (December 21): Jordy Nelson jersey

(This was the first day that we woke up in Lake Geneva. ¬†On the 20th, I packed all the gifts into the Explorer and then I put them under my mom’s Christmas tree for Pete to open.)

I’m not sure if many of you remember the first time I bought Peter a Jordy Nelson jersey, but to say that it was a disaster is an understatement. ¬†The jersey I bought him almost 4 years ago now has really gotten worn down. ¬†One of the “N”s is almost completely off. ¬†I decided that this would be his big gift for the year.

This time was much more of a challenge, but it all worked out in the end.  Not without gallons of sweat and a couple of tears though.  Blood too, if you count my nosebleed (which I do).

I thought that I was really on top of my game, ordering the jersey before Thanksgiving.  Turns out that the nice jersey that I wanted is one that everyone else wants too, and all stores are SOLD OUT of them until THE MIDDLE OF JANUARY.

I ended up finding this sketchy Chinese website that assured 100% quality and prompt shipping in 7-10 business days. ¬†And the letters/numbers were embroidered on, and it was HALF THE COST of what the jersey would cost at the Packers Pro Shop. ¬†I was pretty nervous about this purchase, especially after reading “We wish you enjoy your shopping time at our Packers Club!” on their website (that is a direct copy/paste…).

Two weeks after I placed the order, I hadn’t received an order confirmation or anything, so I emailed the website. ¬†Thank heavens I wrote down the confirmation number! ¬†(All emails are copy/paste. ¬†I did not tamper with their grammar.)

From Sara, To China:¬†Hello –¬†On November 24, I ordered a Jordy Nelson jersey (#87) and I have not received any email confirmations or shipping notification.¬† Will the jersey be delivered soon? ¬†It is order number 20141124553463. Thank you!

From China, To Sara: Your order not succeed at that moment , it was failed

From Sara, To China: Thank you for emailing me back.  Will the order go through??  Why did it fail????

From China, To Sara: Not yet, it should be your bank issue

From Sara, To China: Why didn’t I receive an email about this when I ordered? ¬†Is everything cancelled?

From China, To Sara: If your order not go through then you will not received the confirmation email.

And then I gave up. ¬†I started searching in the greater Green Bay area, La Crosse area (Taylor goes to school there), and finally Milwaukee. ¬†After calling 12 stores with no luck, I called Finish Line in Milwaukee, talked to a wonderful man, and begged him to hold the jersey for me for 5 days, when usually they only hold things for one. ¬†He was very willing to help me, and I could have hugged him through the phone. ¬†Marty’s girlfriend Kathleen picked up the jersey for me, so I hauled all of my wrapping stuff to Lake Geneva and wrapped everything up on the 20th.

Peter is lucky I’m such a determined woman.


Day 9 (December 22): 9 white t-shirts

It recently came to my attention that some of Peter’s white t-shirts were a little too small. ¬†And they are OLD. ¬†When I asked him why he didn’t tell me that his shirts were too small, he said that he didn’t want to get them for Christmas. ¬†TOO BAD!!! ¬†9 was the number that I had a lot of trouble thinking of (and 11), so I decided to do the t-shirts on this day. ¬†It ended up working PERFECTLY because by some fluke I actually found a NINE PACK of t-shirts. ¬†The odds were ever in my favor.


Day 10 (December 23): Game of Thrones season 3 DVDs

We’re huge nerds, and I am not afraid to admit it. ¬†I am heavily invested in the series of¬†Game of Thrones books that I bought Pete last year for Christmas (he still hasn’t read beyond the first one…), and we borrowed the first 2 seasons of the show from our neighbors. ¬†Instead of spending big bucks to buy season 3, I checked it out from the library. ¬†One of my more brilliant plans, if I do say so myself.

… until I didn’t put the hold on soon enough, so didn’t have the DVDs in hand to wrap up. ¬†Instead I put a picture of the DVDs in an envelope with the note.

(If you thought that I would have pictures of my cutesy notes and gifts for each day… I mean, I did a great job up until Day 10. ¬†Then I forgot to take pictures, and now it’s been almost a year so the notes are gone too. ¬†BUT I AM SUPER ORGANIZED SO I STILL HAVE THE RHYMES – HIGH FIVE!)

Ten episodes in season 3.
A¬†Game of Thrones marathon –
Sounds good to me!!

Day 11 (CHRISTMAS EVE!): Bottle of wine

The bottle of wine is Parallel 44 Frozen Tundra Red. ¬†If you like sweet reds… This wine is for you!

I know that this doesn’t correspond with the day, but seriously YOU try thinking of 11 somethings.

My favorite wine on day 11.
Sipping this would be a taste of heaven!
It’s Christmas Eve, so have a few drinks…
(Sometimes pregnancy really stinks.)

Day 12 (CHRISTMAS DAY!): Desk calendar

I had kind of a hard time thinking of a day 12 gift this year.¬† Last year’s watch was perfect, and I had already done the big gift on day 8 so…. Michelle was the brains behind this one (rhyme included!), and I am very grateful.

Can you believe it?!
We’re already here!
Who knows where we’ll be
After the 12 months of next year.

Calendar Collage

When I told Jenna about the calendar, she said, “You’re only doing pictures of you and Peter??” ¬†Girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. ¬†After May he’ll have a cute little baby he’ll want to look at all the time, so I’m trying to make sure he looks at the person who carried the child for 9 months once in a while.

SO!  There you have it!

Happy gift giving ūüôā