The Last Six Months

I’ve been away for six months. Over six months, actually. As usual, it wasn’t an intentional absence. I barely thought about it one way or the other, I just sort of stopped blogging out of the blue. I tend to sort of stop whatever is going on in mid to late Feb as FIRST wraps up for the year and winter drags on. I become one with the couch, watching TV while wrapped up in a blanket. Eventually the weather warms and my drive to do something other than the daily tedium of life is renewed. And then I, eventually, come back here and let people know what’s been going on in my little world while I was away. Except that last part is usually in April, not September.

The last six months. Wow, a lot has happened. I guess any given six month period is like that; it is half of a year, after all. Let’s start at the beginning. This post is a doozy, so I’d recommend you get yourself a large beverage and some snacks before reading.


feb mosaic

No photos of this but I did another of my single days of skiing, this time on Gore Mountain near Albany (still with Alex and Shelly, per tradition). We stayed in a great bed and breakfast that had a five course breakfast. Yes, that is possible. I did quite well in my lesson, only falling a few times – the most notable being the first time Matt went with me up the bunny hill and I decided to try and sit fully down on the disc that pulled you up to the top. I tried to ski the next day but that was a disaster – my ankles were killing me too badly. I spent the third day reading and knitting at the same time – a first for me!

The Raven also won the Super Bowl which was pretty awesome. We had just landed and gotten back to the car when the power outage happened – we got to the house just as they resumed play.

I did keep up with my One Little Word project but failed to take any photos of my completed pages prior to tossing them all during one of my must-clean-up-office-now binges. I only regret this a little bit, if I’m honest.

I spent a day hanging out with Melissa, as she stuffed envelopes and double-checked addresses on her wedding invitations. I spent the time rambling and making a bunch of the little cards for future months of OLW.

FIRST ended in the middle of the month. The robot, well, it didn’t work when we had to put it away in its giant plastic bag. The frisbee shooter was downright terrifying the rare times it worked and the climber…well..I don’t think it worked yet, either. At least we all made it home by 9 pm.


I decided to go a bit nuts at Ulta and picked myself up a Bare Minerals kit. I wore it daily for a few weeks which became weekly. About now, it’s only when we’re going out to dinner or I have time to get myself ready before going somewhere with friends. Probably just as much to do with it being summer than anything else.

We also had our second of two snow events for the entire winter. I stayed home from work this time, thinking the reports of 10″ of snow would come true. Not so much. Maybe 1/2 an inch that I could have totally driven into and home from work in. But I am glad I didn’t risk it and just took the mental health day. I probably made monkey bread, as I often do when I’m home from work for a day due to weather.


april mosaic

The month started out like any other April (that sound ominous!). It was still pretty chilly – actually stayed that way until almost the end of May!

Because of the cold, all of the predictions for the cherry blossoms were way off. We picked a random Friday afternoon and drove to the tidal basin to take photos of the few that had showed up at that point. It was rather chilly and windy so only a few pictures turned out, sadly. The next week, they were gorgeous but we didn’t feel like dealing with all of the crowds.

The second full week of the month, I didn’t feel great. No sick per say but “off.” And I did some math and figured out I should probably take a pregnancy test. I waited three minutes, saw a negative, tossed the test, and moved on. The next day, felt even more off and decided to retake the test. Saw that it’s a 5 minute test and took another after work. I had told Matt about the first test but not this one – I figured it would probably be another negative and I wasn’t in the mood for one of his “I told you so” looks.

(Dramatic pause.)

Five minutes later…two pink lines.

I went through what I would tell him as I walked downstairs to his office. All that corny crap you see online went through my head but, come on, that’s not me.

“I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’m pregnant.”

I was shaking when I told him. His response “I had a feeling.”

Redid the test a whole hour later – positive again. So either our water is laced with something or I was actually pregnant.

Two days later, I happened to be taking the day off work to get some lights installed in our living room and called to make my first prenatal appointment. Of course, they make you wait until at least 8 weeks to come in so I had thee whole weeks to wait (and freak out, because, well, it’s me).

The month ticked by very very slowly. I kept trying to resist googling whatever random symptom I thought I had. I don’t think I’ve paid more attention to my bodily functions and random pains and what not so closely as I did those three weeks.

There was the robotics regional in Baltimore that very weekend. Yeah, five weeks pregnant, complete with the famed first trimester super sense of smell and I had to spend two days with sweaty teenage dorks. It was still a great time. Baltimore is a great place for a regional – not too much traffic, lots of cheap places to eat nearby, and just a better competition. The team did very well – we were selected to participate in the elimination rounds and BARELY didn’t make it past the first round. Everyone is very excited about what this means for next year.

Later in the month was Ben and Melissa’s gorgeous wedding on Embassy Row. First trimester exhaustion had kicked in so I wanted to be in bed by 9, whereas Matt was having a blast and was still going strong at Midnight. Then I pulled rank and we went home.



My first appointment confirmed that I was, indeed, pregnant and that I was 7 weeks along, not 8. They talked about changing my due date to respond to this fact but haven’t to this day. Baby Leese is expected December 11. I calmed down quite a bit after that but I don’t think I took a single truly deep breath until I made it to the end of the first trimester, the next month. Twelve week appointment was perfect fine, though still measuring a week behind. We chose to do the first trimester screening which showed only a 1/10,000 chance of any of the defects they test at that point.

We went to Shenandoah for Mother’s Day weekend, where we told Matt parents. I was utterly exhausted all the time at that point. I barely made it through the Dark Hollow Falls hike, it that means anything. And I kept getting dizzy/sick on the twisty roads – especially when morning sickness decided to appear at the same time. But we relaxed and enjoyed the scenery. I took a good amount of rather mediocre photos.

Over Memorial Day, we went to Deleware as Matt’s cousins were getting together in honor of Maeg and Jeremy (and the girls) visited from Colorado. This meant we told them and some other cousins we’re closer to. It felt like we were doing something really wrong, telling people before the end of the first trimester. Anyway..we did the typical Deleware BBQ chicken thing and just hung out. Thankfully, it was a beautiful weekend and we didn’t even hit all that much traffic on our drive back.


spain mosaic

Most of June was spent in Spain. I’m sure things in our life happened before and after but I have no idea what. Other than me finally calming down about whether I was actually pregnant or not. I still hadn’t fully accepted the idea, but at least I stopped freaking out at every twinge. I had about three weeks of what I guess you would call morning sickness, period. Basically, I was queasy if I didn’t eat often enough and I didn’t really feel much like eating until halfway through the Spain trip. At least I had almost all of my energy back before we left.

We’d planned the big Spain trip for years. See, my mom did study abroad there back in the late 70′s. Yes, this means it was either still under Franco or just haven’t gotten out from under him when she was there – little bit of a different country now. I am so, so happy we went, even if I was easily tired out, especially in the heat. We also – finally! – got to tell my parents I’m pregnant. Right at sunset. On a rooftop balcony near the Sol plaza. I wish I could remember what they said. Mostly that they were happy/excited…then my dad called my mom “Granny Hall.”

I could talk forever about the trip. Mostly nice weather but a handful of 95+ degree days. Amazing food. Very friendly people who didn’t automatically switch to English when we faced language difficulties. All you can eat paella on the beach on the Costa del Sol. More than enough Renaissance artwork to keep Matt happy for year; enough Morrish artwork / architecture for me for ten. Six hours spent wandering slowly through the Alhambra (on, thankfully, “only” a 90 degree day). One 300 Euro bill for damaging a panel on the rental car – we were caught on a wall in Arcos de la Frontera. Lots of laughing at one another. A near-perfect last big trip before the baby arrives.


The first weekend of July was the annual Bontrager reunion. Many adorable children running about. Even more food. A bit of debate. Much more subdued this year, for some reason, though most of the usual crew was there. It wasn’t too hot but we had to cling to the shade offered by the trees. To my surprise, we actually had to tell most of the family our news; the one time the Bontrager rumor mill has been known to fail.

I don’t actually remember what else happened during July. Hot summer days, sure. Lots of research into baby and pregnancy-related stuff on my part. I think we picked a daycare.

Oh! We found our we’re having a girl late in the month. That was pretty big news. The 20 week ultrasound also showed everything is great with her, though she’s still measuring small. And I’m still listed as being due 11 December.


August was spent with Matt wrapping up a big work project and me working to train the person who will be taking over for me when I’m on maternity leave. I also did lots of research into baby products, in prep for setting up our registries. We went to Florida for a weekend to see my parents and ate the requisite amount of seafood, tried a new brewery, and went to the beach for only a few hours as it rained most of the time we were there.

I can’t remember what else we did – mostly work and relax when not at work. So, here’s what I looked like apprximately at the end of the month. Fully in the “looking pregnant” phase now though everyone enjoys commenting on how small I took – the fact I’ve maybe gained 8 pounds sincd before I was pregnancy probably helps. Heh.

25 weeks


Ok, not much has happened so far this month. We set up our registries and the shower is planned for mid-October (my mom is even coming up for it!). I just splurged on scrapbooking supplies and a pair of comfortable yet sort of ugly shoes to wear to work. The last few days I’ve been feeling more sore and my rings are starting to get tight. Hopefully third trimester will be as easy as the last two have been, though I know I’m nuts for thinking that.

That’s it for now…what’s new with you all?

OLW – February Blog Hop

I decided to participate in the OLW February Blog Hop. It’s my first time doing one of these so I truly hope I do everything correct. The whole idea of this hop, like others, is to go from one blog to the next, reading about each person’s interpretation of the topic.


This month’s topic is our response to the January prompt of choosing a word and creating twelve intentions cards. I already wrote about that – and about my expanded intentions for January – so I’m going to be a rebel and write, instead, about the other scrapbook pages I’ve made in the last week or so – all having to do with OLW.

But, first, my title page. I decided I didn’t want to start with my intentions themselves, that the whole project needed a more formal introduction. I had leftovers of the bright pinks and purples from my intentions cards and decided to keep that same color scheme. I also used my new stamp set that I picked up last weekend to do a bit of lettering. As you can tell, I’ve almost never stamped anything other than a single stamp before so I need practice lining it all up.


I also made cards for my January intentions. Not sure why I picked pastels other than guilt over the fact they always wind up leftover at the end of a pack of paper. I’m not very happy with how this page turned out but I’m going to be good and not redo it.


Even though the whole Project Life thing sort of died last year, I did like having those pages of a photographic review of the entire month. It took just a short while to put the page together, though I did mess up when actually printing the photos (hence topics 1 and 3 sharing a photo). This page will be opposite the Jan intentions one so it also has a pastel theme.


Finally, here’s the two pages about my specific intention to pick a day and record it Day in the Life Style.

ditl19jan001 ditl19jan002

I’m particularly excited because this was my first time back at paper scrapping and – even more impressive – my first time printing any photos since our wedding. I just used the template Ali provided and put 9 photos per sheet, cutting them out and placing them, as required. Did it at Costco this AM via their website. Super easy and fairly cheap.

Now for the blog hop part. Next up is Janet

Here’s the whole list of participants, in case you want to skip farther ahead or go back to someone’s post.

Lee | Cheri | Lisa | Lynn | Nikki | Kathryn | Missus Wookie | Veronica | EydieKaren | Kelly | Melanie | Valerie | Marya | Nupur | Janet | Dona | Ruth | Naomi | Pam | Kara | Clare
Margareta | Tricia | Jacqueline

WORTHY Documentation – January Intention

This month, my plan is to:

  • Take a self portrait daily. Attempt to take one non-self portrait daily. Post a photo a day to daily photo group with explanation on the key points of the day.
  • Take photos at FIRST, new places we visit, and around the house. Aim for 100 total non-self portraits this month.
  • Make a scrapbook page of the efforts this month (ok, this is an every month thing, but it first got put on my list when I was thinking through this month’s intentions)
  • Journal when in the mood but focus that journaling on the feelings of the day/time/event, not just what’s happening.
  • Pick a day and fully document it. [I chose Saturday, January 19th because it's a non-work day and should be a pretty typical Saturday during FIRST season.]

Usually I won’t develop my intentions so late in the month but this one’s a bit different as I signed up for the class late and FIRST just started and name your excuse. At the end of the month I’ll come back and tell how it all went down.

Before I go, here’s those intention cards I promised before. First scan is of the front of the page, second of the back. The tan colored “paper” is actually cut up file folders and the colored paper is from a pack of 2″ strips of cardstock I picked up at Michaels last fall. I’ve really got to get my hands on some more supplies if I want to keep up with the paper scrapping!
January Assignment - Intentions

January Assignment - Intentions
Until next month…

OLW – Intentions for 2013

The first assignment in the One Little Word class for 2013 was to think about twelve intentions for the year and create little intentions cards with those on them. They’re then put on a page that’s kept at the front of what will be your album for this project. At first, I didn’t want to make cards at all. I just wanted to keep my thoughts in my little specially-chosen notebook where no one would ever see them. Then, I realized that this was just cowardice (really, that’s spelled like that, huh..). In other words, I didn’t think my cards would be worthy enough creatively in terms of how they’d look or that my intentions themselves wouldn’t be worthy. But, hey, that’s the whole point of this OLW thing – to show myself that I really am worthy of taking the time to make my intentions more public.

I had this whole giant list of things that I wanted to focus on but, when I went to make my cards using the very little paper scrapbooking supplies I had, I only had enough of the same set of colors to make six cards. I took this as a sign that I only needed six, not the full twelve, and foraged ahead. I’ll be honest – the cards turned out a total mess and, to make things worse, I had this nagging feeling that I was cheating. And, really, I was. Having only six intentions meant I got to edit my list of twenty down to the six I thought were easiest. Didn’t have to face the ones that would be hard or uneasy.

This morning, I tossed those old cards and started a more complete set. I don’t have the cards themselves to show off – haven’t had time to scan them in and photos don’t work due to the shiny page protector they’re in – but I do have a written list of those intentions.

Jan: WORTHY documentation – Record life. Good and bad. As much as possible.

Feb: WORTHY friendship – Reach out to old friends. Attract new ones.

Mar: WORHTY mentoring – Identify a mentor. Find place at FIRST. (FIRST is the robotics program where I mentor HS students)

Apr: WORTHY exploration – See a new part of DC. Walk around the neighborhood.

May: WORTHY intellect – Learn somethign entirely new. Take the GRE.

Jun: WORHTY photography – Read the manual. Participate in challenges.

Jul: WORTHY appearance – Start running again. Accentuate the positive.

Aug: WORTHY culinary skills – Help Matt make meals. Cook a whole meal.

Sep: WORTHY organizing skills – Closets. Basements. Offices. Digital life.

Oct: WORTHY writing – Write everyday. Blog.

Nov: WORTHY creativity – Try painting. Don’t force it.

Dec: WORTHY kindness – Knit hats, give time, say hello to everyone.

I should have been random with my alignment of my intentions to each month but, let’s be real, that just isn’t my style. I’m too controlling. January and February are my two craziest months, with robotics after work two days a week and all day Saturday. In June we’re going to Spain so lots of photo opportunities. I am not going to start running again until it’s at least a bit warm out (though hopefully July isn’t *too* warm). So, I fiddled with the timing of each until it made the most sense.

Each month, I’ll (1) watch the video and do the exercise for the OLW online class, (2) expand on my intentions for that month, (3) create at least one scrapbooking page about how I implemented (successfully or not) those intentions and (4) attempt to remember to blog about all of that.

I’ll be back in a few days with my intentions for this month and the intention cards themselves, this month’s assignment.

One Little Word: Worthy

There’s this thing in scrapbooking – a project, I guess you’d call it – called One Little Word. The idea is to pick a single word which will be the focus of your energy in the next year. There’s a whole online course associated with it to guide you in implementing your word and, as it is a scrapbooking thing, in creating an album to record your implementation journey.

After going back and forth for a few days, I decided to participate this year. In a way, I participated last year by choosing to focus on recording my life. Sure, I wasn’t very successful in that I blogged less and took fewer photos but I did think about it more often and got quite a few scrapbook pages under my belt.

But, this year, I really want to focus on living out my word. And, you guessed it, I chose WORTHY.

All my life, I’ve never really been convinced I’m worth it. I get glimmers that maybe I’m smart of I’m pretty or I’m creative. But I let myself forget all that as soon as I see someone who’s better than me at whatever it is. And, you know what, there will most always be someone better at me than whatever that thing of the moment is. But, I am WORTHY because I’m the best person out there at being Angela Leese. I’m cynical and dorky and passionate and ungraceful and talk too much and too fast. But, that’s who I am.

I did sign up for that online class associated with OLW, as the cool kids call it, and hope to post each month about my response to the assignments. I’ll be back tomorrow, at least – well, the WordPress widget that auto-posts at an assigned time will be – to talk about my intentions for the next year. And, maybe after that, I’ll talk about how I’m actually implementing them. For now, I’m off to sit and think about this whole one word thing and all it will hold for me in 2013.

Giving up 2012 / Remembering worth 2013

2012 was the year of giving up…and not in a I-will-no-longer-eat-fast-food sort of way. In a I-can’t-commit-to-anything sort of way. I was restless and unfocused and, overall, uninspired. At some point in the year I started then later gave up on scrapbooking, wearing makeup, photography, writing a memoir, cross stitch, knitting, crochet, blogging, sewing, running, watching the X-Files, embroidery. Only thing I really stuck to was reading (three cheers for the Kindle) and dying my hair (though partly because of the appointments made in advance).

I felt not good enough. My photos weren’t as great as those of others on Flickr or Instagram, especially because I wasn’t willing to dress up in a funny costume and never figured out how to clone myself with software. My current life had no excitement to blog about and my past was too boring to write about even within the confines of the notebooks that no one ever sees. My cross stitch was mundane; my attempts at a TARDIS embroidery untidy. My knitting (except socks, everyone always love their handknit socks) was unwanted. My attempts at cooking, bland. My attempts to mentor the students at FIRST, ineffective. My job search did go well at first because my suit didn’t fit properly (not because a great job was waiting for my within my own company – where I wore jeans to my interview). The only thing I could do correctly was eat, it seemed. Oh, and fall asleep reading. Totally mastered that this year.

So..what will be different in 2013? I’ll learn not to care. Okay, still care about important things like doing my absolute best at work and not dressing like a slob and making sure the bathrooms are clean when guests come over. But, not to care about things which are creative.

My friend Heather once told me that you can’t possibly fail at creativity. And, you know what, she’s right. No one dies if your embroidery is crooked or your photos is a bit blurry (call it “artsy”) or your mac-n-cheese is a bit runny.

Because, for the 100th time, all of my creative (and running, ’cause, you know, there’s that, too) efforts are worth it. Because, greater than that, I’m worth it. My time, my energy, my effort, my stash of craft supplies – all worth it.

Boyfriend – Quick FO Post

The FO itself wasn’t particularly quick, taking me a month and a half to complete. I haven’t even blocked it yet, hence the slightly too tight, slight too short nature of it as is. It’s supposed to be an easy going sweater, like you’d borrow from your boyfriend (hence the name).

The details:

Pattern: boyfriend by  Lori Versaci

Yarn: Berroco Vintage DK in Pumpkin, purchased last Black Friday at fibre space’s annual sale

Yardage: Not quite sure, I’d guess 4.5 skeins so just under 1300 yards

Mods: Made it slightly shorter both in overall length and the length of the arms due to my, well, short nature

Comments on pattern: I liked this pattern but must admit that the twin rib drove me nuts. It’s one of the designer’s signature fabrics but I don’t think I’d sign up to lots more of it again. I liked that this was seamed – allowed me to practice my seaming and didn’t require me to fiddle with working on the round.

(Thanks to Matt for taking a quick iPhone photo. I sort of ambushed him in his office and made him take it. Try to ignore the green bag by my foot, wrinkled pants, and flipped up shirt hem.)

It’s November

…and we all know what that means: another year I attempt to blog daily and fail somewhere between the 13th and 18th. Don’t I just look sooo enthused?


I know, it doesn’t look good when my very first day of posting daily doesn’t happen until just before I crawl into bed. And it’s a pithy entry, too. We’ll just pretend that I wanted to spare you a long first post to wade through before I get to the point.

So we’re not without visual cues that don’t concern my I’m-ready-for-bed face: two shots of my desk, a reflection of how busy either my life or my mind is. About now, both are sort of scattered, but I’m trying to embrace the mess.

desk left

desk right

Tomorrow, there will be more words, most likely. And maybe even photos not taken when it’s pitch black outside.