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Natalie’s Room

Lots of people have asked us what the baby’s room is like! We decided to not do a themed décor, as there weren’t really any I was crazy about and I figured I’d get sick of it anyway. Instead, we did a color theme! I originally wanted shades of purple, but there isn’t much out there, honestly. It’s all pink, pink, pink for girls! So I embraced it! I am a fan of pink, and really tried not to go overboard. We threw in some browns and greens for good measure, and we’re pretty happy with how it turned out!

This is the old guest room (which you might remember from this post). We didn’t repaint or change out the curtains. So it made for a very easy switch to Natalie’s room!

Here are the pictures of the word in progress and the (pretty much) final product!


My attempts at being crafty:

Baby Room Prep_01Baby Room Prep_06Baby Room Prep_02

Baby Room Prep_44Baby Room Prep_41

Baby Room Prep_13



(The 2 blankets on the floor are Harper and Heidi’s spots!)


Big Year

Wow, so it’s been a big year! We’ve had a lot going on this year, and we kept meaning to post and update everyone… But I (MaryAnn) kept wanting to post our life events in order… and as they kept happening, we just got further and further behind!! So I decided to take a different approach and instead of doing chronological updates, just go for the big stuff and fill everything else in later! Which was very difficult for me to do, as you can imagine!

So obviously our biggest event of the year was getting pregnant! We found out the big news on April 14th when I was just 4 weeks pregnant (although by the crazy way they count pregnancy time, you are actually only 2 weeks pregnant when you are considered 4 weeks pregnant). Anyway. So that was very exciting! I didn’t believe it at first and had to text a picture to a friend for her opinion on the little line.

But the next morning, there was no mistaking it:


Needless to say, we were very excited! Without going into too much detail, we had been trying for a few months with no success, and this “cycle” was going to be my last for awhile. I was pretty burned out and frustrated.

We kept the news to ourselves for a few days, but then ended up telling family and then close friends that next week. Probably earlier than most people tell, but we couldn’t keep it to ourselves! Everyone knows what a horrible secret-keeper I am!

I’m sure most people know all of this by now, but we’ll just recap the details:

Due date: Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Sex: it’s a GIRL!

Name: Natalie (no middle name yet, but we’ve got it narrowed down to 2 or 3)

So, pregnancy…. I’m not sure everyone in our audience really wants to read the details (or at least what I’m willing to share) on this blog. I will sum it up here by saying that I haven’t been crazy about it. At all. While I’ve been very fortunate to have very few complications (just a couple tiny bumps) and I feel so lucky for that, I also can’t say that I have fully enjoyed being pregnant. My personality and pregnancy just don’t seem to mix. So much so that I’m really not certain that I ever want to go through it again… I haven’t liked being so out of control of my own body and unable to do the things I want/need to do because of the limits my body has placed on me. I really envy the people who say they have never felt as good as they did while pregnant (although I still think half of them are lying), and I am really glad I got to experience being pregnant… I’m just not sure it’s for me…

Anyway, here are some of my pregnancy highlights, for better or for worse:

I woke up the day I hit 6 weeks feeling super nauseous all.of.the.time. I couldn’t eat much, if anything. Work was incredibly difficult to get through. Several times, I would have to excuse myself from a patient to go get sick (or at least go through the motions of it). I ate a lot of crackers. I lost about 12 pounds. I eventually got on anti-nausea medicine, which of course had its own fun side effects. This was not a fun time for me. There wasn’t much I was excited about, as I couldn’t see past this part and was convinced I would be one of those women who was sick the entire pregnancy. But, alas, I was *only* pretty sick most of the time up until 20 weeks. Then it kind of went away, but lingered until about 24 weeks.

Then, I hit the most manageable part of the pregnancy. Everyone said I would feel like a million bucks or that I could take on the world during the second trimester (which was really almost over by 24 weeks). I wouldn’t say that was my experience, but at least I wasn’t dry heaving or going to bed at 5pm every day. I did have more energy, but became frustrated by other normal pregnancy-related changes. I was getting bigger, which was a really hard thing to come to terms with. I couldn’t run anymore (which I actually couldn’t do from day 1, but this is when I really started to want to again). People were wanting to touch my belly and ask me a zillion questions related to being pregnant. Work was starting to get difficult. My clothes didn’t fit anymore. It was summer, and I was always hot. I had to start being careful and restricting my activities a little bit. I just felt trapped in my own body, which was no fun. To top it all off, I wasn’t feeling any movement from the little girl inside me. It seemed like I was supposed to be by most accounts, but wasn’t. So I was constantly anxious and worried that things were going wrong in there. Around 28 weeks or so, I finally started feeling things. It was very reassuring, but it is also something that I admit I didn’t really like – and still don’t really like. It just feel so darn weird and creepy. There is seriously something inside me, moving around with a  mind of its own… And while I am so excited to be pregnant and to have a baby, of course, it just kind of grosses me out to feel and see my belly moving around like it does! It’s the most natural thing in the world, but it seems so unnatural!

But then it started getting fun, too. We found out at around 20 weeks that it was a girl! We started buying baby things and setting up the baby’s room. I let myself get excited and became more assured that nothing would go wrong. I had energy for my life again and wasn’t sick and tired all of the time. I finally wrapped my head around having a BABY at some point, and not just being forever pregnant! I started having baby showers and getting presents for the baby!

So that was the story up until pretty recently. I am now 38 weeks, so just 2 weeks from my due date! We can’t believe it’s so close! I’ve been feeling pretty good, I think, for being 38 weeks pregnant. In just the past week, I’ve started getting pretty worn out, but from what I hear, that happens much sooner in most people. I’m still working and doing all the physical stuff my job entails. Still cleaning, doing laundry, grocery shopping,etc. I think I’m probably a little slower than usual, but I’m getting things done at least! Everyone keeps saying I look great for being 38 weeks. Size-wise, I don’t look as pregnant as I am. I have consistently measured 3-4 weeks smaller than I am, which is holding true still now. I am not waddling or anything crazy like that. I am a little bit swollen, but not everyone notices that (thank goodness). I am pretty tired, but hopefully don’t look it!

Now, it’s just a waiting game! As of last Thursday when I hit 37 weeks, I was full-term, which means that if I got into labor, my OB won’t stop anything and that baby and I will most likely be just fine. I haven’t had any signs of labor or pre-labor or anything. My doctor doesn’t check internally because it really doesn’t predict much. So basically, I just live my life as usual and when I feel contractions at the specified intervals or if my water breaks, I go to the hospital! And hopefully it’s smooth sailing from there! Fingers crossed!

Pregnancy photos

Taking weekly (or any) photos of myself and/or my belly was NOT something I had any desire to do during this pregnancy. So I didn’t take any. Actually, I was way against any photos taken of me pregnant, but then thought that maybe our daughter wouldn’t believe I was her mom if there weren’t at least a few! So when the occasion came up, as it normally would, we took photos. But none of the “baby bump” pictures that seem to be so popular. So here is a sampling of pregnant me from this year:

Family May 11_9_4

In New Jersey, Memorial Day weekend, 10 weeks (super sick here!)


August, 22 weeks


September, 26 weeks


October, 30 weeks

Shower Pic - Sisters

New York baby shower, October, 31 weeks




Quad Cities baby shower 1, November, 34 weeks


Quad Cities baby shower 2, November, 37 weeks

(can you tell I’m more swollen and uncomfortable?)

So there ya have it! My pregnancy in 5 minutes! Hopefully it didn’t come across as too negative of an experience! I really have enjoyed parts of it and really am excited to get a BABY out of this deal! It just hasn’t been an easy journey for me, physically or mentally. But it will all be worth it, I know, and one day I will look back and think, “Well, that wasn’t so bad. Maybe I could do it again…”!


Storage Room Beautification

Is there a scarier room in the house than the storage room? Just the thought of going in there gave me the creeps. I just imagine the icky creatures waiting for me – mice, cockroaches, spiders…..

This was the case, anyway, when the storage room looked like this:

New House_50



But after much shop-vac-ing, cleaning, and painting, we now have this:

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P.S. This was another project brought to you by Glenn & Sue Halpin :) Thanks, Mom & Dad!!! :)

Kitchen Facelift

The most recent project we’ve done on the house is the kitchen. This project took a lot more time and muscle compared to previous projects, as we had that evil, evil wallpaper to remove.

Since pictures are way better than words, we’ll get right to it.

Before photos: Kitchen ReMo_03Kitchen ReMo_02 

Kitchen ReMo_04

 Removing the wallpaper: 

Starred Photos4

Harper wonders what the heck is going on:

Kitchen ReMo_07 Kitchen ReMo_08

Priming/painting (color = Oatlands Subtle Taupe by Valspar)

Starred Photos5

Finished product:

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And remember this ugly light fixture?

New House_62

It’s now this!IMG_2930


Another successful project in the books! 

Guest Bedroom Remodel

The first major undertaking we did on the house was the guest bedroom. We’re not actually sure why we started there – we suppose it seemed like a do-able project for us to start with. Or maybe it was because that was the first paint color MaryAnn picked out.

We decided to get the project both started and finished while Glenn and Sue (Mike’s parents) were visiting around Labor Day. Funnily enough, they were basically remodeling their own bedroom. This meant we had to get an early start so that the room would be sleep-able that night. But being the home improvement warriors that we are, we knew it was possible!

Here are some before pictures:

New House_29

(No furniture. I think we took this the day we closed on the house.)


Furniture added, but those white walls have got to go:

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Settling In_67



Color = Oatbran, by Valspar.Halpins2010_01

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Goodbye ugly vertical blinds!  Time for the curtains….

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Finishing touches:




The finished product:

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As you can see, it gets the canine approval:



So far, the guest room has housed the following guests to the Halpin home:


Glenn, Sue, & Mollie



Erin, Kevin, & Baby Jack


mariel guest room



Mariel, who lives and works in DC for Rep. Hoyer, stayed with us for about 10 days while she was out here working on the Hare campaign just before Election Day.





She was an excellent houseguest, except for this:

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And most recently….

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The dogs’ favorite babysitter, Michaela

So if you ever find yourself passing through the Quad Cities and need a place to stay, please consider our newly remodeled guest room!  Even if you forget your toiletries, we’ve got you covered!

Settling In_69



We’d love to have you, so come visit soon!

(This means you – Rob/Liz, Steve/Jenna, Sara/Bob, Hope/Chris/Nolan, Jon, Lindsay/Matt, Jason/Elizabeth, Jessie/Bob, Nick, Kim, Jamie/Jeff/Baby O, Chris/Erik, Tracy/Ian!)

Visit from Mom & Dad Halpin!

Shortly after we moved into the new house and before we started our jobs, Mom and Dad Halpin came to visit us!  They and Mollie (Harper and Heidi’s dog-aunt and good buddy) drove out in their new truck to see us and the new place!

It was a fun visit, full of birthday celebrating (for Mike, a little early),

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it’s a new briefcase for work! Please disregard the demon-dog in the background!


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shopping trips to Galena (sorry, no photos),



house projects,  (We’ll dedicate a separate post to that)

and just plain visiting!

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It was a wonderful visit! We’re so glad that Mom and Dad H. were able to take the time to drive out to come and see us! We miss them so much, and wish we all lived closer :(   (In related news, Mom and Dad H. will soon be connected to the internet with their new laptop! So they will be reading the blog shortly!)

Update – Professional Things

So, we realize it’s been awhile since our last post… sorry about that :(  We hope to do better from now on (call it our New Year’s Resolution!)!  But because of that, it was a little difficulty to know how to update you all on our goings-on’s… So we’ve decided to just do a few “theme” posts, which may or may not relate to how things happened chronologically in our lives! First up – job-related things!

So you all read about MaryAnn graduating from OT school back in this post.  After that, the one thing that was still holding her back from actually being an OT was a pesky little certification exam and obtaining her state license (which is an ordeal when you live in the state of Illinois). After a few weeks of intense haphazard studying, which may or may not have involved a good deal of wine, highlighter pens, and sitting around all day in PJs on the couch, the big exam was here – on August 26th.  As you may remember, this was a pretty crazy time in our lives. We had just moved into the new house and were trying to get settled. MaryAnn was supposed to begin her new job (she could start before actually finding out if she passed her exam, on a temporary license sort of a thing), and Mike was getting ready to start his. So needless to say, MaryAnn was pretty stressed, and as always, afraid she wouldn’t pass.

But rest assured! The good feelings she had walking out of the exam were confirmed a couple of weeks later when she logged onto the exam website and saw this:


Yay! She passed! Not that anyone really had any doubts, but it was nice to see nonetheless!  A couple few weeks later, her Illinois license came… Followed shortly by her Iowa license. MaryAnn is now a real, bonafide Occupational Therapist. Need proof? Go here and here.

Good thing, too! Otherwise she would have had to immediately quit her job :( Which, by the way, had changed slightly from what it was originally… On her first day, MaryAnn showed up to work at the outpatient clinic, where she was to shadow the current OT, who had been covering the position for the past few months (her originally position was at the hospital, on the Rehab unit). Things were great, but things were just a little…. slow-moving in the outpatient clinic. Plus, after the training period of one week, there would be no other OT on-site, which just isn’t ideal for a new graduate. Also, the covering therapist fell in the love with working in the outpatient setting…. You can probably see where this is going… We talked to management, and basically ended up switching positions!  Which is better for everyone, really.

So ever since, MaryAnn has been working on the Rehab unit at Trinity Hospital. And LOVES it!  The co-workers are great, the patients are wonderful, and the job is so rewarding and fulfilling. There is nothing like helping a person who has had a spinal cord injury feed himself again or being part of the team who helps a person with a stroke walk again! I truly couldn’t ask for a better job.

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Mike’s job is going great, too! He is an associate at a small law firm here in town. Right now, he’s doing a little bit of everything as far as what area of law. Some divorces, small claims, traffic tickets, contracts, wills, and estates. He is also doing some labor law, and is hoping to specialize in that eventually. He is really enjoying the people he is working with. It is a great fit for him!


Another great thing about both of our jobs – they are each about a 3-minute drive from the house! (see?) Much better than Mike’s monster commute down in Champaign and MaryAnn’s in Chicago!  And we think it’s worth a mention that the hours are great, too! :) 


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