good and happy life

I lead a good and happy life. I'm married to the coolest guy I know and couldn't be happier about it. I knit and sew things. I enjoy hanging around church. I also like all of the foods.

Doxology

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Praise Him all creatures here below.

Praise Him above, ye heavenly host.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

- Thomas Ken (1674)

I’ve had these few lines rattling around in my head quite a bit lately. A bunch of my friends are participating in 30 days of Thankfulness, which is awesome. It’s kind of fun to see the things all of my friends are thankful for - from the incredibly sappy to the randomly funny things each day.

I am not awesome at posting regularly to my social media accounts (unless we’re talking about the social media accounts I manage for work, then I’m pretty good at consistency). But, I think there’s something kind of beautiful and important about thanking God for some of the great things in my life, so I’ve decided to knock out all 30 days in one blog post. 

1. I’m thankful for an awesome husband who has voluntarily and cheerfully picked up some very strange things from the grocery store for me over the past eight months, happily offered to paint my toenails, makes me laugh to the point of tears during our painfully long birthing class, and who I couldn’t imagine living my life without. He’s pretty awesome. And I’m totally crying. Let’s chalk it up to pregnancy.

2. I’m thankful to be kicked frequently and forcefully by the little guy taking up increasingly more real estate in my abdomen. I can’t wait to meet him.

3. I’m thankful for parents who are not only really awesome parents, but also awesome coworkers. Apparently, that’s not something everyone can say.

4. I’m thankful for my brother who is and always has been himself. He’s pretty cool, and he’s amazing and pretty much everything he tries. I’m glad he’s both my brother and my friend.

5. I’m thankful for in-laws who I would gladly choose to be my family again tomorrow. Apparently, this is also not something everyone can say.

6. I’m thankful for my church and for the incredible relationships we’re building. “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:4,5. Seriously.

7. I’m thankful for the women’s bible study and small group that meet in our apartment. Life is really more fun when there are people coming and going frequently from the place you live.

8. I’m thankful for our apartment. The window leaks, our neighbors smoke, the management leaves a bit to be desired, and our dishwasher works 50% of the time, but it’s full of some really great memories of our first 18 months of marriage. If I’m being really honest, I’ll be sad to leave it.

9. I’m thankful for a job that I not only like, but will be able to continue from home after Baby Knepper makes his arrival.

10. I’m thankful to work with some of the sweetest, kindest, most fun people a person could work with.

11. I’m thankful for Jerry’s Pizza. Seriously.

12. I’m thankful for college football. Clearly, I am not the Hawkeye fan in our family.

13. I’m thankful for shoes this size.

14. I’m thankful for Tums. Sorry, everybody. It’s just my reality right now.

15. I’m thankful for Christmas music. I’m playing it early this year, world. Deal with it. The earlier I can listen to Christmas music, the sooner my baby is here. (Or so I’ve fooled myself into believing.)

16. I’m thankful for my cousin Amber who has kept me in borrowed maternity clothes for the past few months.

17. I’m thankful for snow whenever it comes. It’s just so pretty. It’s not nearly as pretty in Missouri.

18. I’m thankful for Iowa. I’m biased, but I’m pretty sure it’s the greatest state in the nation. (Some people have been known to confuse it with heaven.)

19. I’m thankful for our car. We weren’t planning to buy a car two months into marriage, but it’s working out for us so far.

20. I’m thankful for Clear Lake and kind in-laws who let us stay there.

21. I’m thankful that so far, pregnancy has been pretty easy. I know it’s not that way for everyone, so I’m very grateful that I’ve felt pretty awesome, all things considered.

22. I’m thankful for coffee, and that someday, I’ll be able to enjoy its caffeinated goodness without restraint once again.

23. I’m thankful for Thanksgiving. I love everything about that day from the parade to leftovers.

24. I’m thankful for my bed. It’s so comfortable. Even if I’m not doing so much sleeping in it these days. It’s still nice to read in.

25. I’m thankful for Thai food. It’s just so delicious.

26. I’m thankful for technology. As much as I could turn my phone off a lot more than I do, it is so great to be able to be connected to friends when they’re far away.

27. I’m thankful for my little kitchen and all the fun things that come out of it. (Including this recent favorite.)

28. I’m thankful for a grandma who taught me how to knit when I was 8. It’s a skill that’s come in pretty handy.

29. I’m thankful for music. I know that’s a really generic thing to be thankful for, but it’s the truth.

30. I’m thankful that next year at this time, I’ll be snuggling my sweet almost one-year-old.

So, I didn’t get out of my pajamas today…

But I did…


fix my sewing machine, re-cover two pillows for our bedroom,


re-cover four pillows and make curtains for the baby’s room,


rearrange the furniture in the baby’s room and “dining room” (with Nick’s help),


make chili for football watching today, and make pumpkin whoopie pies and pot pie-style turkey for the church potluck tomorrow.

I’m pretty sure this is the most productive I’ve ever been without putting on real pants.

Nursery Beginnings + Free Printables

After a couple of really awesomely, crazy weeks at work, I took a couple of days off to relax clean and organize our entire apartment. 

Thursday morning, I woke up at the beautiful hour of 6:45 AM, ate breakfast, sipped coffee, and watched the Today Show for 20 full minutes before sending myself into a blissful frenzy of de-cluttering, cleaning, organizing, and nesting. It was glorious.

Plus, I found some serious gems. Including, but not limited to The Muppet Christmas Carol on DVD.

YES!

I cannot lie. Things had gotten a little out of hand at the Knepper residence. Up until this point, I’d been feeling pretty tired, so putting things away seemed really daunting. I’d been shoving things into our guest bedroom (soon-to-be nursery) with reckless abandon, hoping we wouldn’t have any surprise guests, or that the producers of Hoarders wouldn’t catch wind of what I’d been up to. Also, don’t tell my mom, but I think it’s been a solid 27.5 weeks since I actually finished putting a load of laundry away completely.

But, by the time Nick came home for lunch, you could actually see the floor in our guest room, and by the time he came home for the day, I had vacuumed, scrubbed, and dusted every surface of our apartment.

Plus, I even did a little bit of work on the nursery. We’ll wait a bit longer to exchange the guest bed for the crib, but I picked up this cute lamp at Target on sale. I washed and put away all of the baby clothes we’ve gotten so far (hooray!).

And, after feeling a little shocked by how expensive cool nursery art is, I did a fun little alphabet and numbers project, which you can download at the bottom of this post if you don’t mind me taking a bit of creative liberty with the animal/alphabet combo. (Who knew it would be so hard to find an animal starting with the letter N, let alone U and X?!)

The print on the right came back from London with my brother, so baby will have a present from Uncle Austin hanging in his room.

Last night, while watching Drew Brees break Johnny Unitas’ TD record, I finished baby’s crib blanket. It was supposed to look kind of like this (oh! I totally found those brown gingham crib sheets at Target for $9.99 instead of $29!), but I opted for something involving less counting, so I could continue a relationship with my husband while preparing for our baby.

And by my calculations, I’ve saved $266 with my bargain shopping and DIYing, so I’m pretty sure we can afford this now, right?

No? Maybe I need to save us a little more money first…

Anyway, here is the alphabet print and numbers print.

Thoughts on Being Halfway Through Pregnancy

Today marks my 20th week of pregnancy. So, we’re about halfway, give or take. Which, I thought, kind of makes for a good opportunity to pause and reflect on how our lives have changed over the past 4 1/2 months.

It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through this process. In the beginning, it felt like it would take the rest of my life. I couldn’t wait to tell our parents, and then all of our friends. Then, I started feeling sick, which felt like it would last forever.

Now, I can’t wait to find out what we’re having. (Which, is hopefully Monday, and yes, we’re finding out, and yes, we’ll tell you if you want to know, but no, we won’t tell you what we’re naming him/her. There should still be a little element of surprise, people.)

I’m driving Nick crazy because I’ve started about 5 different knitting projects on days I feel really sure about the gender. And I’ve stopped a day or two later, after feeling less sure. I have nurseries decorated (in my head) either way.

This being our first pregnancy, it has been a bit of an adventure. It’s been so fun to see our parents prepare for their first grandbaby. We’ve had fun thinking about our future as a family. However, it hasn’t been all puppies and rainbows and butterflies.

I’ve had a few major meltdowns. Usually over things as important as who will do the laundry and how I’ll possibly find anything to wear. Nick has been a trooper. A confused trooper, from time to time, but a trooper nonetheless.

We’ve had many conversations about where to live, whether to move or stay, whether to buy or rent, and how crazy it is that we signed a lease that ends three days before the baby is due to make his or her entrance.

I’ve worried about what it looks like to be a normal, independent, productive person and a mom at the same time, whether I’m capable of doing it well, and whether it’s possible to do everything I need want to do.

Despite the fleeting moments stress and tears, and despite little jabs that make it tough to sleep past 5 AM, we’re pretty excited about this little person we’re welcoming into the world. When I stop to think, it really is a miracle growing and kicking inside of me.

[Oh, I’ve also had some guilt about how many couples try and try for so long without success when we nailed it on the first shot (no pun intended). That part, I don’t know that I’ll ever understand.]

It’s crazy to turn around while riding in the car and think that in a few short months, there will be another little passenger in the back seat.

Some days, I can’t wait for the baby to be in my arms. Other days, I think I have a lot to do before that day finally comes. I guess that’s why there’s still another 20 weeks.

Olympic Fever

The Olympics are one of my favorite things. Ever.

When I was four, someone asked me what my favorite sport was. I answered, “The Olympics.” My dad, knowing I hadn’t given the answer the questioner was looking for, tried to ask me another way, thinking my answer would change. But I knew I was giving the correct answer. The Olympics are literally my favorite sport.

Sure, I’m a pretty big college football fan and the NFL is great background noise to my Sunday afternoon naps in the fall, but does the football season have an opening ceremony? Is the entire season jam-packed into 17 days?  Does everyone in America root for the same team for the entire season? Are both men and women heroes?

The answer is no.

The Olympics are magical. For three weeks, the big news is about something other than the latest negative political ad. We, as Americans, set aside all of our differences, and take up patriotism (even those of us who normally don’t think we’re better than other people simply for being born on American soil are known to hurl insults at the TV when an opposing Olympian comes on the screen). We rally behind our people. We all watch the same thing on TV each evening. We laugh at the crazy architecture and weird mascots. We visit the same town each evening. We root for the same heroes and against the same villains. We unite behind one cause.

The Olympics give me hope for America. As silly and irrational as politicians can be and as broken as many of our systems seem to be, the Olympics remind me that we can still rally behind something, if only for a couple of weeks.

Personally, the Olympics mark some pretty special life milestones. While watching the opening ceremonies in Salt Lake in 2002 at Nick’s house (that’s right, as in Nick Knepper, Mr. Knepper, my husband), I made a silly, 17-year-old-girl remark about a woman who had clearly had some work done in preparation for the opening ceremonies. “Well, if I knew I was going to be on TV in front of a billion people, I might have some work done myself.” Nick was furious with me. He pulled me aside later and told me that I was beautiful the way I was and he would be so disappointed if I ever did anything weird to my face. I’m pretty sure we started dating shortly thereafter.

Nick and I capped off our first (again, but for real this time) date by watching the 2010 opening ceremonies in Vancouver. The beginnings of our relationship were founded on watching the Olympics together while he was in Minneapolis and I was in Springfield.

This year, I’ll watch the opening ceremonies twice. Once with my mom tonight, and once with Nick after he gets back from RAGBRAI (which can’t come quite soon enough, for the record).

When we watch the 2014 opening ceremonies from Sochi, Russia, we’ll watch with our toddler.

"Quilted" Baby Afghan How-To

After a few weeks of being in overdrive at work, I had last week off (which was very nice!). I told myself that I was going to blog a bunch during my week of freedom, but then I did laundry.

So, to make it up to myself, I’ve got a few posts in the hopper for this week. (And by hopper, I mean my brain, so we’ll see if they actually make it to tumblr reality.)

At the end of the week, Nick and I went to go to Springfield to watch my brother graduate from Evangel and see a few friends. I got to give my friend Charity a baby gift I’ve been chomping at the bit to share. Charity will be having a little girl in just a few weeks and knowing Charity, I knew I could go nuts with a girlie gift.

Right after Charity found out she was pregnant, she posted a pin about this adorable baby dress. I couldn’t find the pattern for free or in English (which are both issues as I am both cheap and uni-lingual), so I combined a few different patterns I’ve collected over the years and made up my own dress pattern. It turned out pretty cute if you ask me.

I also wanted to make an afghan for the baby since she’ll probably only be able to wear the dress for a few months and I want to make sure she remembers her Aunt Ashley who lives far away in the land of Iowa.

One of the most frustrating things about making beautiful baby afghans is that most of the time, they are only beautiful from one side. This has been a frustration of mine for a long time - you spend hours and days and weeks creating something beautiful only to have half of it be beautiful.

Until one fortunate day when I was looking at one of my favorite knitting websites and came across this non-knitting tutorial and got an idea!

I decided to quilt the back of my afghan with some fun coordinating fabric.

First, I knit this pattern, which was pretty easy and relatively quick. Once I finished, I blocked my work for the first time in my whole life. (I’m officially a big girl knitter now!)

 

(Feel free to choose to ignore my pajama pants and toes. I was feeling so accomplished that I forgot to check what was in the corners of my picture.)

Once I blocked my work and knew the finished size, I cut a square (the nice thing about the lotus pattern is that your work, theoretically, will always be a perfect square).

I didn’t hem the edges of the square, but I did iron about a 1/4” edge around the fabric.

(again, ignore the foot)

Then, I ironed sets of straight lines to guide my “quilting” later.

(In this photo, ignore the disconnected smoke alarm. Apparently, we had a minor cooking incident the night before.)

Also, I keep using “quilting” in quotation marks because I didn’t use any backing and there’s very little actual quilting involved. Mostly, I tacked a piece of fabric onto the back of an afghan and I’m calling it a quilt. I’m using the quotation marks to ease my crafting conscience.

Next, I pinned the fabric to the back of the afghan like so.

And then I started “quilting.” I wasn’t super concerned with having my stitches be super uniform, so it went pretty quickly.

Finally, I drew a little inspiration from this project and added some cute edging. (This also allowed me to skip hemming the edge of the fabric.)

So, the finished product looked something like this:

I’m trying something similar with a little bit of our leftover wedding fabric. Hopefully I’ll have it done before our first anniversary… :)

We are All in This Together

I stumbled upon this sweet wedding today. I love the theme of their wedding: we are all in this together.

Sometimes Most of the time, it seems like things would be a lot simpler if this wasn’t so frustratingly true. Living together and sharing lives means that sometimes people won’t  respond the way you would have in a given situation. Sometimes you have to compromise the things you’d like so that someone else can get what they need. It requires a lot of sharing of feelings, resources and time. Your feelings will get hurt. Your toes will be trampled upon. And in the middle of a conflict, you may feel a sudden urge to retreat and isolate to preserve your feelings and worldview. When you’re in the middle of the tough stuff, it’s easy to question why you would possibly want to put yourself into these vulnerable and messy situations in the first place.

But, whether you want to be or not, you are a part of a community. When you invest in that community, you will reap what you sow. (The tough and confusing part is that often, you won’t reap in the same place you sow. Some people require time and energy they’ll never be able to reciprocate, but there are also a lot of people who are willing to invest time and energy in you without an opportunity for you to return the favor.) When you share your life with a community, you have more to celebrate and more people to help carry you through tough times. You can share with others and have the benefit of others sharing with you. There’s more to go around and you can make a much bigger impact. Being around people makes you a better person. Although things aren’t always done the way you’d do them, there’s a good chance they’re done more effectively. Cooperation and collaboration results in a better ideas and insures that you’ll never get stuck in a rut. It might not be easier to participate in community, but it’s always going to be more meaningful. 

The truth is we are all in this together.

Easter Weekend

It was a little rainy, but it was a great day! I’m so thankful for the people I get to share my life with in Des Moines!

Prepping a little spring green risotto #happyeaster (Taken with instagram)

Prepping a little spring green risotto #happyeaster (Taken with instagram)

Relaxing on a Sunday afternoon/evening :)  (Taken with instagram)

Relaxing on a Sunday afternoon/evening :) (Taken with instagram)