39 Weeks and Counting

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and the longer I wait, the harder it is to start up again so I’m just going to jump right in. The baby could come any day now so I’m going to aprovechar (take advantage) of the time I have now to catch up.

It’s been a crazy 6 weeks and we’re finally feeling settled into our new home in the Boston area. While Paul takes his coding bootcamp course during the week, I have been busy with a number of different projects. In addition to keeping myself healthy and well rested while getting ready for the baby, I’ve had a chance to catch up with family and friends during this exciting time.

My sister threw me a baby shower at her house a few weeks ago – the perfect excuse to work on creative projects and to see friends I haven’t seen since we left for the Peace Corps. Below are a few of the projects I worked on for the shower. The theme was the Disney/Pixar movie, “Up,” a fitting one for two people who love to travel and have adventures as much as we do. I also just love the balloon aesthetic and it was an excuse for me to try to recreate the house from the movie in fondant.

Enjoy, Mari

Balloon Invites

Balloon Invite

I saw this idea on Pinterest (of course) and thought it was really clever. I ordered the balloons online (it was a terrible company so I’m not going to recommend them) and then printed the invites at home on my laser printer. A few hole punches and a piece of contrasting ribbon finished the design and I stuffed the envelopes with a bit of confetti for fun. The invites weren’t too heavy or bulky in the end and a regular first class stamp did the trick. The invites directed guests to a website that Paul created (his classes are already paying off!) with more details about the shindig including a page for RSVPs.

Up House Cake

Up House Cake

I took a cake decorating class a few years ago in Manhattan but we stuck mostly to buttercream frosting and marzipan. Since then, I’ve been trying to teach myself to work with fondant. I’m not so great with it yet but this was another chance to practice. I created a template for the house from Up in Illustrator and then I made the marshmallow fondant from scratch. I could have bought the fondant but I wanted the decorations to be edible and some boxed fondant just doesn’t taste that great. I colored portions of the finished fondant and then cut out the pieces using the template. While it didn’t turn out perfectly I think it’s not bad for a novice!

Image Wall

Baby Pics

The image wall is an example of making do with what you have. I had lots of crepe streamers left from the parties we used to host at my nonprofit, Starting Artists, which I found in storage when we were preparing for our move. My niece helped me cut out long strips of each color and then my friend **Jena** helped me to hang the streamers from a horizontal string. It’s actually not that hard to do and the effect is really nice, especially against a window where the light can shine through. In front of the streamers I hung two more strings and attached images from the movie, from Paul’s childhood, from my childhood, and from our time in Ecuador.

Wilderness Explorer Guide Buttons

Wilderness Explorer Guide Buttons

One of the characters in the movie is a Wilderness Explorer Guide, which is like being a Boy Scout. This inspired me to get out the button maker from my Starting Artists days and to recreate some of the Wilderness badges from the movie. I printed some generic ones that Disney had on their website and I also designed a few with more personal touches like the Peace Corps logo, a soccer ball, dog paws, and a baby’s rattle. We used these to bundle the plasticware as well as part of the decorations on a sash I also sewed myself. The best part was that guests could take the buttons home along with the favors.

Transitions

Back in the Boston area after more than two years, we’ve been welcomed back to the Northeast by two snow storms already. The past few weeks have been full of happy reunions, culture shock, celebrating birthdays, eating our favorite foods, taking hot showers, and moving for the fifth time in two years.

Here’s some of what we’ve been doing in the past six weeks…

Moving from Ecuador

Plane Leaving Ecuador


After 13 hours of travel we made it to Virginia with Max in tow (which sounds easier than it was!) but without our bags, which were lost. Luckily, they showed up a few days later at our doorstep.

Arriving in Virginia

Paul and Max in Danville


Max met Steve & Susie and settled right into life in Virginia, even romping around in the snow for the first time ever.

Sharing Memories

Playing the Peace Corps Game


We shared our experiences as volunteers through a boardgame we created. The object of the game is to accomplish tasks that relate to the Peace Corps’ Three Goals but the mission is really to spark conversation and to share with friends and family.

Celebrating Together

Holiday Cookies


In Virginia we celebrated the holidays for the second time including exchanging gifts, baking bread, and decorating cookies.

In the Workshop

Making the Frame


As usual, we worked on a few creative projects while in Virginia in addition to packing for our move to Massachusetts. One of the projects was creating a custom frame for a piece of kinetic artwork we bought in Ecuador.

Frankie’s Visit

Danville Photo Tour


We took our friend Frankie on a photo tour of Danville when he visited. Here is Mari taking a photo of a water tower in the historic downtown area.

Moving Once Again

Our New Home


We moved into our new home in the Boston area after driving directly from Virginia to Massachusetts – approximately 14 hours of driving. It’s all relative – we used to sit on buses for 14 hours to get from our site to Quito.

Happy Birthday Paul!

Paul's Birthday


We celebrated Paul’s birthday starting with a special breakfast.

Paul Preparing

Paul Getting Prepared


Paul received many birthday gifts related to becoming a new dad…here he is starting to get prepared for the next adventure!

Mari Baking

Chocolate Chip Cookies


Mari has been baking up a storm in the new kitchen, including baking her famous chocolate chip cookies.

Visiting Matt & Kerry

Reading to Jonah


We visited our friends Matt & Kerry in Western Mass. and met their adorable son for the first time, giving Paul a chance to practice his reading skills.

Let it Snow!

Snowy Backyard


Life in the US has meant daily culture shock but nothing has been more of an adjustment than the winter wonderland we are now living in.

Two Years Ago Today…

we landed in Quito to start our adventure as Peace Corps Volunteers! Now, two years later we are back in the States and reminiscing about the crazy, wonderful, surprising, challenging, and exciting time we spent in Ecuador. Here’s what two years looks like…

Enjoy, Mari & Paul

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