Deck Update

I know the blog has been very baby-centric the last few weeks, but some other cool things have been going on here at the Julius house lately!

So remember about this time last year when we stripped and re-stained our deck?  Check out those posts here, here and here.

The deck looked great and we were really happy with it…from the top, that is.  See, we don’t have a shed or anything, meaning we have to keep most of our outdoor tools, equipment, etc under the deck.  It keeps our yard clear of junk, but it makes for a pretty bad eyesore from this view.underdeck

We tossed around a few ideas on how to cover it.  We thought about planting some kind of shrubs around the deck but decided against that idea for a few reasons.

  • First, Bob has to keep his mower under the deck and planting shrubs would make access to it way more difficult for him.
  • Second, we wouldn’t be able to plant shrubs on one of the sides of the deck because it is paved.  You can see where I mean in this picture. (through the steps)dsc01966

We thought of a couple other ideas, but in the end decided to hang some lattice.  We bought pieces at Home Depot that were pressure-treated pine.  First we measured and cut our pieces to fit.cuttinglatticeBefore hanging it, we stained it with the same white that we used on the deck.

Here’s what we have so far.lattice1 lattice3


You may notice that the piece closest to the house is unstained.  We accidentally stained the wrong side (which mattered because we cut the pieces first).  We’ll get to it eventually, but for now, it’s not very obvious.

Bob still has to hang the lattice on the side where he keeps his mower.  He just hasn’t decided yet how he wants to attach it to make it easy access when he needs to cut the grass.

AND…we have some plans to frame out the lattice.  I’ll post pictures if we ever get to that!

Lastly, we hung some flower boxes.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get pictures of them yet so (once it cheers up outside), I’ll be back to post what those look like too.

We’ve come along way since THIS, don’t you think?deckbefore


In other news, I’m heading to the Justin Timberlake and JayZ concert tonight!!!  Girls night out!!!!  I can’t wait!


Baby J – 16 weeks, and 5 years hitched


**This post is so late because we were on family vacay!!  And now my sister and niece are staying with us for the week so I’ve been distracted by the cuteness of two toddlers playing together!

On Friday I was 16 weeks pregnant and it just so happened to also be our five year wedding anniversary!  I won’t get all mushy, except to say that I feel very blessed to be married to Bob.  We celebrated last night with a wonderful dinner at Talara while my mom and sister babysat.

As for the pregnancy, I had a check-up last Tuesday.  So far, so good.  It looks like I will have to have a C-Section again.  The doctor I spoke with is the same one who delivered Clark.  I trust him and know that they all have my safety and the baby’s safety in mind.  My reasons for needing a C-section are more than just the baby being too big.  That was part of the problem during my delivery with Clark, but it was mostly my “failure to progress” that resulted in me needing a C-section with him.  Once I started to swell, there was no way that Clark was going to fit!

I’m feeling really good still except I have been having more trouble getting comfortable at night to sleep.  My next appointment will be our ultrasound anatomy scan.  Even though we aren’t finding out the gender, I’m so excited to see how much this baby has developed!

Also, I would like to point out that apparently these pants are my Friday pants!  Oops!


To Clark’s Daddy


Bob is a wonderful dad!  He loves Clark so much and it melts my heart to see the way he looks at him.IMG_0175


It is adorable when he says, “Look how cute we are!”DSC00107 DSCN1144


He loves to make Clark laugh!  Even if it’s by doing something mommy hates! (Most recently, Clark loves when Bob holds him up and spins him to make him dizzy!)  DSC01957


I think most of all, I appreciate that Bob takes care of us.  He works hard and sacrifices for us.  He is teaching Clark how to really be a good man!  A man of God.  I’m so thankful for that.DSC03061 DSC01986 DSC02888

Clark is lucky to have such a great role model and I am so lucky to have such a wonderful partner in this whole parenting thing!  I think we are a pretty good team and we’re doing alright!noname

With the holiday coming up, I have been getting so frustrated that I haven’t come up with the perfect gift to express how much I love and appreciate all that Bob does as a father.

I think he’s hard to “shop” for when it comes to gifts.  Sure, there are things he needs and maybe a few out-of-my-price-range treats that he would love (uh…hello new golf clubs!).  But when it comes to something really special and meaningful, it’s hard to surprise him.  I did get him a gift that I know he’ll appreciate and in addition, I’ve decided to (try) to keep the nagging to a minimum this weekend and let him just relax and watch TV or do whatever he wants.

Bob, I just want you to know that Clark and I love you so much!  You are a great dad and I hope you enjoy your holiday!!

“A righteous man who walks in his integrity – How blessed are his sons after him.” Proverbs 20:7

Birthday Week

My birthday was a week ago yesterday (May 8).  I turned 28, which is one of those birthdays that isn’t all that exciting.  I don’t really make a big deal out of my birthday, but I always insist that Bob recognizes birthday week, so that I basically get my way for an entire 7 days.

This year, however, Bob surprised me with a couple of date nights to celebrate!  I posted this screen shot on Facebook a few weeks ago.


Yea, he tries to trip me up with these random things that I should “have prepared”.  (Nightcrawlers?!?!)  Remember the hints he gave me for my Surprise Weekend to DC??  And yes, he pretty much always signs his emails to me “Sincerely”.  Silly hubs!!

Anyway, he told me that he had plans for both Monday and Wednesday nights and that he had already arranged for sitters for Clark.  I was really excited!!  We don’t often go out on adult-only dates.

When Monday rolled around, I found out that my little sis, Ellen was coming up from Bethesda to spend the day with me and then watch Clark while Bob and I went to dinner at La Scala, our favorite place in Little Italy.  There’s an indoor bocce ball court that you can play on while you wait for your table.  Funny thing…Ellen had given us a gift card to La Scala and a home-made coupon for one night of free babysitting for Christmas back when I was pregnant!!  So this particular date was long over-due!!

Before we left, I opened my present from Ellen.  Look how creative she was with the bag!!1-image_1A couple of tanks and a new VT shirt.  I could ALWAYS use some VT clothes!  Go Hokies! 🙂

Ellen took a couple pictures before we left, and we headed out to enjoy the were halfway there when we realized, OOPS!!  Neither of us grabbed the gift card!  HA!  Thank goodness it was a Monday night.  We didn’t have any problems pushing back our reservations so we could head back to the house and pick it up.  Luckily, that wasn’t a precursor for the rest of the night.  Our food was delicious as usual and we had a great time chatting, people watching and enjoying some adult time!

On Wednesday, my actual birthday, Bob and Clark gave me some very appropriate cards!1-bdayI think Clark’s handwriting is really improving, don’t you? 😉 Update: I accidentally posted the card Bob got me for Mother’s Day first.  whoops! 

I also got a sweet surprise when I checked my email that morning!1-imageCannot tell you how excited I am to schedule THAT!!!

My mom had made arrangements to come have lunch and spend the day with me and she already told me what she got me for my birthday:1-image_2A butt-load trunk-load of plants!  This was so thoughtful and creative and HELPFUL because I have a less than green thumb and a half-bare garden in our back yard.  Remember our backyard beds?  Because Bruno has started using those beds as his toilet, I decided I’m probably not going to plant an edible garden this year.  My awesome mom got me plenty of colorful perennials to fill the empty space.

We planted them on Thursday.  And by “we” I mean my mom and Clark, while I took pictures and gave words of encouragement. 1-bdaypicsHere is a slightly better “after” photo:1-DSC03191

It’s going to look even better once we mulch and they grow out a little bit!

Okay, so back to Wednesday!!

Bob told me the event called for me to wear a gown!!!  Obviously he doesn’t know what a gown is because we were NOT headed to prom OR the Oscars!!  Glad I double-checked with Ellen while she was here.  (Bob let pretty much everyone in on the secret, except me!)  Even as we were headed out the door, I had no idea where we were going.1-image_3I was thrilled when we arrived at the Hippodrome Theatre!!!  It’s a former vaudeville theatre in Baltimore built in the early 1900’s that seats about 2300.  image_4

I snapped these photos of the theatre with my phone before getting reprimanded by an usher.  In my defense, I honestly didn’t know that photos weren’t allowed even before the show started. 1-bdaypics1 The show playing on Wednesday was Green Day’s American Idiot: The Musical.  Bob got us great seats in the balcony.  The show is more than a little risqué and there’s a lot of language, so make sure you know what you’re going to see if you plan to buy tickets to this show.  (No joke: some older people exited after the first few scenes!)  Not-so-secret Secret of mine: I had a thing for punk rock for a while!  As evidenced by this picture of me from Halloween 2005:


Needless to say, I loved the music!  Plus it was an evening spent with Bob!  We had a great time and now we’re even thinking about getting season tickets through the Hippodrome to see some other musicals that come through.

Thanks to everyone who made my birthday week so special!!  Especially Bob!  Love you and your surprises!

Now I have to think of something really good for him!  Any suggestions?  Hurry, his birthday is June 30!!!!


Two weeks late, but finally…the Easter post!

We spent Easter in Pittsburgh with Bob’s family.  It was a really special weekend since our niece was baptized AND Bob’s sister shared some exciting news!!

However, it was an exhausting couple of days!!  We stayed with Bob’s sister, Leslie and her husband, Kev and because of traffic issues on Friday night, we didn’t get in until a little after midnight.  Clark slept the whole drive and must have thought it was morning when we finally got there because he refused to go back to sleep until we brought him in to bed with us!  Not fun!

Saturday we woke up pretty early to take care of Bruno and then went to Bob’s parents’ house for breakfast with a bunch of the family.  Which also included our sister-in-law’s family (her sister and brother-in-law and their 2 kids).  Bob got to spend most of the rest of Saturday at a Penguins hockey game while I was on baby duty with a kid too exhausted to take a nap!!  At least I was in good company!

Saturday night, Bob and I got some adult time with some high school friends of his for a couple hours while grandma and grandpa put Clark to bed on the dining room floor.  (not joking, he passed out on a blanket and was more than comfortable there until we brought him back to Leslie and Kev’s house)

Sunday came with so much to celebrate!!

The Julius family has an easter egg hunt tradition.  This was the first year that I’ve experienced it AT the Julius house.  Here’s how it goes:

  • Each kid gets assigned a color egg to look for.  You only collect your color! 
  • Once all the eggs are collected, we open the eggs to find numbers inside.
  • The numbers coincide with our gifts.  For example, if your egg has number 3 inside, you open the gift marked #3!
  • There’s also special multi-colored eggs that have candy or some other kind of treat inside.  Those eggs are anyone’s game!

It’s really a TON of fun!!  Plus, I was lucky to participate after an unfortunate incident of accidentally posting pictures on Facebook of my mother-in-law that she had not pre-approved.  :-/

After the hunt, we all had breakfast, took some pictures and got ready to head to church.  (Bob, Clark, and I headed back to Les and Kev’s to let Bruno out first and Clark took that opportunity to catch some ZZZ’s)DSC03110After the church service, our niece, Taylor Rose, was baptized.  I can’t think of a more perfect day to perform this sacrament than the day we celebrate Jesus’ sacrifice for our salvation!!  And it was so sweet to have so many family members there to witness it.

We headed back to Leslie and Kev’s to pack our things and pick up Bruno, then went to Bob’s parents’ house again for a huge Easter lunch with most of Bob’s extended family.

When the aunts/uncles/cousins/etc. had left, I insisted we get a Julius family picture.  This was the first time all of us were together since Taylor and Clark were born.  There were a few complaints, but I think everyone is glad we did it!  Right?!?

photo 3

Back: Kevin, Leslie, Earl, Mary, Brian, Jason, Taylor
Front: Bob (with Clark), Kara, Lauren


We drove home that evening with full bellies, full hearts and REALLY tired eyes!!  It was a wonderful weekend!

…And who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.  Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.  Romans 1:4-5 (NIV)

1-Apr 3, 2013

Christmas Stuff

Merry Belated Christmas!!

I can’t believe today was the last day of 2012!

We spent the holiday in Florida with Bob’s family, but before we left, we had our annual Christmas Party.  This was our third year hosting it.  (The first year we had only been moved in to our house for a couple weeks and our upstairs bathroom was completely gutted except for the newly-installed toilet.)  But, it’s always such a good time.  Our recurring theme: “Ugly” Christmas Sweaters.photoMy brother, Sam and sister, Ellen.

photo-3Me and Bob’s brother, Brian. TWINSIES!!

Some people went rogue and wore footie PJ’ newly married Mr. and Mrs. Leggett!

Some people were lame and wore regular clothes :-)!ry=400-11

The future Mr. and Mrs. Bergdoll

Another tradition at our party is the white elephant booze exchange.  photo-4Unfortunately, I did not end up with this humongous bottle of wine, BUT…my sister did!

We also play another game.  Last year it was Minute-to-win-it Christmas games.  This year it was Christmas Pictionary.  Bob was the “game administrator”.photo-5Some more pictures from the night:ry=400 ry=400-7 ry=400-6 ry=400-5 ry=400-2 ry=400-1


Clark spent the night at my parents’ house, but we got our baby fix from these cuties:

ry=400-4 ry=400-9

The night ended with a dance party in the basement.  It was such a fun night!  We already can’t wait until next year!!

In other Christmas news, this little guy was the star on our Christmas Cards this year.  So much cuter than Rudolph, don’t you think?DSC02673He didn’t look so cute/happy when he met Santa.  Apparently, bearded, jolly, fat men are not his thing:2283104578_001He cried so much, he made Santa upset!2283104578_003Thanks a lot, Clark.  I lost a bet with the photographer for this!

Christmas in Florida meant Clark’s first time on the beach:photo-7photo-8He loved it!  He also loved trying to eat the sand.  I guess that was to be expected…

Overall, we had an incredible Christmas season.  We couldn’t have asked for a better first Christmas with Clark!

I’m sorta sad that the year is over :-(…

Happy New Year!!!

Surprise Weekend for Moi

We threw our annual Christmas party this weekend and it was so much fun!  But before I get to that, let’s go back to last weekend.

A couple weeks ago, Bob called me from work and said,

Don’t make any plans for the weekend of Dec. 1.

When I asked him why, he said,

I have a whole surprise weekend planned for you.

Every day until the surprise weekend, he tried to throw me off course.  A few of the fake hints he gave me were:

  • We are flying there
  • He signed me up for a 10K (anyone who knows me, knows that that would NOT have been a good surprise)
  • Aruba

By the time I was supposed to be ready on Friday, I was thoroughly confused.  On his way home from work, Bob stopped to get us dinner at Corner Bakery and after scarfing it down, we loaded the car and left.

I assumed we were driving to our destination, but that wasn’t the case.  I was SO excited when we arrived at the train station!photo-23

 I just LOVE the train!  It feels so urban and old fashioned.


Clark’s first train ride!

We were headed to…DC!  Other than the final destination, I was still in the dark.

We arrived at Union Station (which is beautifully decorated this time of year) and walked just a few blocks to our hotel.  This kid was so excited that he didn’t fall asleep until 11pm!!! photo-24(I have to admit, I was just as excited to find out what else Bob had planned for me/us!)

Saturday morning, we all woke up Clark woke us up around 7:00am.  That was okay, because Bob said we needed to leave pretty early for my next surprise.  photo-25

On our way to my next surprise!

We arrived at The Willard Hotel where Bob had booked me a hot stone massage at the Red Door Spa!!photo-26


After my massage, I used the steam room, showered, and pocketed some of their complimentary toiletries until Bob and Clark made their way back to pick me up.

Then we headed to the spy museum just a few blocks away.  Unfortunately I didn’t get any good pictures there because technically they are not allowed.  It was really cool but Clark was tired, hungry, and cranky so we ended up breezing through most of the place.  We will have to go back when he is old enough to enjoy it also!

By this time, Bob and I were pretty hungry ourselves so we went to Matchbox Pizza in Chinatown for a late lunch.  SO YUMMY!!!DSC02599

photo-27We were all getting pretty tired, so after a quick stop into Urban Outfitters to take some silly pictures, we walked back to the hotel to squeeze in a nap before my night-time had to take the Metro to get there: another first for this point, I had NO IDEA where we were going.  Since we had a late lunch, I didn’t think we were going to dinner, but Bob seemed to be in a hurry so I wasn’t sure.  I wasn’t expecting this:DSC02600

From the end of November till the end of December, the National Zoo puts up more than 500,000 lights of animal silhouettes and musical light displays.  It’s so pretty and…FREE!!!  They even have these warming stations throughout with refreshments you can buy like cookies and hot cocoa, or coffee with Bailey’s for the adults!

It was pretty cold this evening so I used our Moby wrap to keep Clark warm (and I think it kept me warmer too!)DSC02612Here’s a video we took of one of the animated musical displays:

This was probably my most favorite part of the weekend.  Just because it was something different and we could do it as a family.

But the weekend wasn’t even over yet!!  In fact, after ZooLights, we hopped on the Metro and headed to Bethesda to meet my little sister for drinks and apps after she got off work.  I’m glad she got to be part of my weekend.  It’s been so fun having her live so close.  Clark was so tired by this point, though, so this was the best picture I looks like he’s smiling, but in reality, he was probably screaming in this picture.  Good thing it was pretty loud in the restaurant and we sat next to a couple who had kids, so they were totally understanding!  Sorry we kept you out so late, Clarky!!

Sunday morning, we meant to get up for early service, but it started at 9:00am and we all slept in until 8:45am.  Bob looked up another service for us to go to and we headed to the 11:00am at Capitol Hill Presbyterian.

After, we walked around for a bit.  It was pretty cool because the weather was gorgeous and hardly anyone was outside.  photo-29I was in desperate need of some coffee, so we found a Starbucks, and then Bob said we had plans for lunch.  He took me back to Union Station, so I asked if we were taking the metro again or something.  He said no, and started looking around the train station.  Apparently, he couldn’t find the restaurant.  I have to admit that at this point I was pretty hungry so I started complaining a bit.  As we passed by a Ben and Jerry’s, I even said

Bob, I would take ice cream!!  I’m soooo hungry!

He refused and we finally found B. Smith’s!  And…SURPRISE AGAIN!!!  There were 4 of my friends waiting there to eat with us!  (And way more of them to come!)  We had an incredible all you can eat buffet of breakfast and lunch foods AND bottomless mimosas.DSC02625Because there were so many of us, they gave us our own room.  It turned into a 3 hour lunch!!  Clark of course was the center of attention and absolutely loved it!

After lunch, Bob said our train didn’t head back to Baltimore until 7:00pm so we had some time to kill and thought we would check out the monuments.  Unfortunately it started to rain a little so we decided to change our tickets to the earlier train.

It was only sprinkling on our walk to Union Station, but I didn’t want Clark to get wet/sick so I covered the stroller with a blanket.  Apparently, he didn’t like that he couldn’t see (or maybe that people couldn’t see him).photo-34He’s so funny!

Overall, it was such an awesome weekend and I feel so lucky to have these two boys in cahoots with each other to give me such precious memories!photo-36

4 years and counting…

4 years ago today I tied the knot with my best friend/partner/other half/any other cheesy-but-true descriptions of my hubby.

Ya know, a lot of people say “it feels like just yesterday…”  I actually think the opposite.  It feels like it’s been forever.  (in a good way!!!)

I know, without a doubt, that he is the person that was meant for me.  Marriage is hard and we definitely fight like cats and dogs sometimes but we love each other and are committed to each other and to our marriage.

I feel so blessed that God gave me such a great guy that takes such good care of us.  He is a wonderful father and I am so lucky to call him my husband.

Love you, Bob!  Happy 4th Anniversary!!

Hitting the Deck

Our backyard was one of the things that sold us on this house.  We have an “end of group” townhouse so our yard’s square footage is bigger than most on our street.

In addition, we have a good sized deck that we utilize most of the year.

We have been wanting to re-stain our deck since we moved in a year and a half ago.  Finally, we have started the process.

First we moved everything off of the deck and into the yard.

I’m sure our neighbors were thrilled about our lovely mess.  We were in need of cleaning off our deck anyway, so we used this opportunity to de-clutter (also known as de-hoard.)

Bob used this stuff to strip any leftover stain.

LESSON LEARNED: This stuff contains acid!!  Wear goggles when using it!!

Bob learned that lesson the hard way.  See, he got half of the deck done the first night.

See how the left side of the deck is lighter?  He just applied the stripper, scrubbed with a stiff bristle brush and hosed off the area.

The next night he started with the other half.  He put some stripper in a paint tray to apply onto the deck but as he was moving it, a little splashed up and out into his eye!  We had Bob over the sink dumping water in his eye to flush it out.  I even called the on-call emergency eye doctor!   I had a flashback to when my little sister used some TV cleaner as eye drops.

He was fine, but after that he let the deck sit half stripped for about a week before finishing it with his new goggles ON!

The deck looked like this (after we brought the table and chairs back up).

I know from the pictures it doesn’t look all that different but the stripper definitely worked.

Next up is the cleaner…but before we get to that step, we want to choose the stain color.

This is my vision:

I’m thinking dark on the “floor” of the deck.  White on the rails. Like this:

photo credit

or this

photo credit

At first we couldn’t decide if we wanted to go with a solid stain, semi-transparent, or a mixture of both (semi-trans dark, solid white?).  So we went to Home Depot and picked up some samples.  As soon as Bob applied the white, we both agreed solid stain was the way to go.

Then we applied the dark stain choices to see which we liked best.

The one on top is Behr Solid Color Wood Stain in Coffee.  The bottom is Behr Solid Color Wood Stain in Wood Chip.  Who knew this would be the hard part?

Why am I so good at choosing deck stain color!?!?!?

We are having trouble deciding.  Bob is leaning toward the Wood Chip.  I go back and forth.  I think we may have to see what they look like up against the brick of the house.  We’ll sit on it for about a week before we decide.  The weather has to cool down a little before we apply the stain anyway.

So what do you think?  Coffee or Wood Stain?  Leave your opinion in the comments.

Eat Mor Chikin**

Did you know that Friday was Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A?  All you had to do was dress like a cow to get some free food.  I LOVE Chick-fil-A.  Plus I thought it would be adorable to dress Clark as a cow.  We didn’t have full cow costumes just laying around the house so we went with just some black electrical tape on white tees/onsie.  I made utters out of hot pink card stock too, but Clark ate both his and mine.  Bob was not thrilled about the “costumes”, but it was a fun family affair.

Well…kinda.  The food was amazing, as usual.  It was fun and kind of silly to dress up together, but there was a little…situation.  While we were waiting in line to order, we heard a ruckus behind us.  Apparently, two guys had a…shall we say “disagreement”?  There was a full blown fist fight and one guy threw his drink at the other.  Bob (who was holding Clark) obviously moved to the other side of the restaurant.  He also called the police (as did a few other patrons.)  It didn’t last very long as a few bigger guys jumped in to break it up, but needless to say, it was not the evening we expected.  We got the food to go and enjoyed it at home.

Thanks Chick-fil-A for an exciting partially free meal!

Next year I think I’ll put a little more effort into the “costumes”.

Did anyone else take advantage of Cow Appreciation Day?

**Trademark of Chick-fil-A