Our Ongoing Home Reno & Other Updates

Hey there!

Here’s a little update on life for us these days.

House

We moved to our new fixer upper home almost 7 months ago. I joke with hubby that we ought to just dig a big hole in the backyard and start throwing money into it, because it has been one giant money pit! A mold report that came back showing high levels of (non toxic) mold less than a month after we bought the house really pushed us to replace the areas were there had been water exposure (floors, under kitchen sink) much faster than we had originally planned. ¬†And then the snowball just started rolling as one thing led to another. That’s home renovation for you, I suppose!

Here’s a list of some of the things we’ve redone since we moved in:

Tear out back deck (was structurally unsafe).

Deck (removed).

New carpet in family room and bedrooms:

I didn’t really have any “carpet” pictures, but you can kind of see it here.

Removed wall between dining room and kitchen:

Before. (This wall drove me nuts because I couldn’t keep track of the kids!)

After. I love it!

Laminate in kitchen, fireplace room, hallway and master closet:

Closet doors (two sets), screen door, side garage door:

Tile floors in laundry room and kids’ bathroom:

I tried to pick tile that matched the laminate.

Replaced Kitchen counter tops, sink (chipping), faucet & garbage disposal (leaked whenever running):

Before. This wasn’t too long after we moved in.

Before.

After. My inner clean freak is very happy with having quartz counter tops now!

Tile back splash in kitchen (which we had to add because there was a big gap between the counter tops and the wall):

Pulled out melamine desk/cabinets and put in smaller desk area with upper shelving:

Replaced furnace and A/C (yes we wanted to cry when we learned we needed to replace BOTH):

New A/C.

Dishwasher (which died right after the furnace and A/C – more crying, hehe). New dishwasher will be here in two weeks.

Replaced fridge (died on moving day), stove and microwave.

Painted bathroom vanities and kitchen cabinets:

Painted ENTIRE house (including ceilings).

Replaced almost all light fixtures and 2 out of 3 fans (we saved the only one that worked).

Whew! That wasn’t even a comprehensive list. And what’s sadder is that the “to do” list is still a mile long! The bottom line, however, is that we LOVE living here. We love the space (1/2 acre), the neighborhood, the proximity to hubby’s work, and also the fact that we live super close to my in laws! (And as a side note, both my parents and my hubby’s Dad were instrumental in helping us get a lot of the above list completed!)

Kids

Josh & Rachel are doing fine. Josh is just over 3 and Rachel is 20 months. I sure do love them and enjoy my days with them. I know everyone else has adorable/smart/funny kids, but some days I seriously wonder which state penitentiary my kids will end up at–because they can be quite devious! Some days Josh and I really do battle it out. I’m no marshmellow Mom in any sense of the word, so I often have to remember to look for ways that I can answer “yes” instead of “no.” Rachel is very determined and doesn’t give up easily either, but she does have much shorter tantrums, which I am thankful for!

I like to remember the following so please tune out if this is crazy boring (I imagine it would be to most):

Josh wears 3T clothing and wears a an 8/9 shoe. He weighs 31.6# (No joke, he’s weighed exactly 31.6# the last several times he’s asked to hop on the scale!) and a few months ago he was just over 3 feet tall. We took away his paci back in April and it wasn’t a big deal at all (we were shocked! And thankful…).

Rachel wears 18-24 months clothing and is somewhere between a size 5 or 6 shoe. She is only a few inches shorter than Josh. She still doesn’t have to many words, but she’s working on it every day. She’s been in a size 5 diaper for a while. I use Pampers diapers and water only wipes or else she tends to be prone to really bad diaper rash.

Don’t be fooled. They’re wanna-be felons, I tell you! ūüôā

Weight Loss

I wrote a while back about experiencing unintended weight loss. I’m happy to report that out of the 16# I lost, I gained 7-8# of it back and that seems to be where things have settled. I’m not unhappy about it, but I do wish I had a better appetite most days so that cooking would feel less like a chore.

Endometriosis

I don’t really want to go on and on when it comes to this topic. The synopsis is: The endo does seem to be back. Some months are bad and some are okay. I cut out caffeine back in February which seemed to really help with pain levels. I still seem quite unable to get pregnant without intervention (IVF), so that’s a drag. At the same time, I have little to no desire to go through IVF again (not that we could afford it right now after all these home repairs!). I’ve been thinking about my options for when things DO get consistently bad, pain-wise. One option is to see a specialist who would excise all endo (cutting it out, rather than burning it off) and see how far that gets me. Another option would be to do a hysterectomy and also have current endo excised. This may still not alleviate pain (endo grows back easily and hides, so that it can be tricky even for specialists to find) and I still may require further surgeries. In all honesty, I’m hoping avoid any surgeries at all, because the frequent pain I get from adhesions and scar tissue following surgeries is off the charts.

Well I think that covers some of the basics! Thanks for sticking it through the post!

 

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Oh Taste And See

The days are full of trying on dress up shoes, yard work, pretending to be human excavators, and playing in the dirt. As with every season of parenting this far, I’m learning much about my kids, my own personal bents and failures, and about life. More than ever, I feel acutely aware of the brevity of this parenting gig. The opportunity to plants seeds, water, and pray. To teach, love and forgive. And to offer kindness- again and again.

I think back to my own childhood often. I was a rebellious child – there’s no question about it. I was mouthy and stubborn. I seemed to suffer from complete lack of self control, mostly with my words. But I was SO sick of myself, sick of my shame and confusion and continual discord with others. And in the summer between 6th and 7th grade, through a Bible study a lady at my church personally invited me to, I discovered who Jesus really was. I committed my entire life to Him, and from then on I have been very cognizant¬†of how much the Lord pulled me out of the PIT of fear and destruction.

The change in me was immediate. Just ask my Mom. I went from knowing about Jesus to really knowing Jesus. My whole life turned upside down, even though I grew up in a Christian home. My relationship with my parents went from being tense to harmonious. 

And this is my prayer for my children. If they have to live years of rebellion in order to really know brokenness Рto really know, love and submit to Jesus- then so be it. Whatever it takes, because Christ is the ONLY thing that really matters in this life. The last thing I want is to have kids who are outwardly Christians but whose hearts are far from Christ.

And yet… how wonderful it would be if they do see their true depravity and choose to follow Christ from a young age.

Either way, I’m on my knees, crying out to God for the hearts of these beloved kiddos of mine.¬†

Lord, please help me to train up our children well. But more than anything, I pray that they would turn to you with humble hearts. 

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34:8

 

 

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Rescued From a Life I Thought I Wanted

There is something magical about the trained ballerina. She is elegant, long, beautiful. She moves with effortless fashion and ease. She is graceful and composed.

The ballet world. This was a world in which I once lived in, more than half my lifetime ago. Not that I was all those adjectives previously listed; but I sure aimed to be. Five to six days a week I trained and stretched and wore out my toe shoes. I was there for class every day after school, and often on Saturdays, too. I loved it. I wanted ballet to be my permanent life. I was consumed by it.

I wanted to make a career of ballet, but there was an ever-growing tension in my home. No matter what it cost me, I wanted to be a professional ballerina. And yet my Mother was deeply opposed to the idea. She believed that ballerinas didn’t make much money, they were overworked, they often struggled with body image, and were sometimes placed in vulnerable situations. Not only that, but ballet, performed over a span of years, was hard on the body. We butted heads about the issue for several months. I kept praying and trying to convince her it was a good idea. But it was no use. Her opposition held just as strong as ever.

I remember writing in my journal, praying and wrestling with this tension as a teenager. How could my Mother not see how much I loved and needed ballet? Why could she not just give me approval in this one area of my life? I was headstrong, but I was also very much wanting my Mother’s blessing for my future career. So the inner turmoil raged on.

In the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school, I flew to Mississippi to join a three week long intensive Christian ballet workshop. I danced my heart out, made friends, and had a wonderful time. At the end of the workshop, I waved a sad goodbye and flew back home to California. But I soon discovered that something had changed. Actually, there had been a huge change in me! I didn’t need ballet anymore. I didn’t even want it! Somehow I felt totally free to move on from it– which was a completely foreign concept at the time. How could this be? I didn’t know, but I never went back to ballet classes or rejoined the ballet company I had been part of. I packed up all of my beloved ballet gear into a box, put it away in my closet and shut the door.

There was no logical explanation for this transformation in me except that the Lord literally plucked an idol out of my life.

So I walked away and never looked back. And I am so grateful.

In hindsight, I’m so glad the Lord listened to the prayers of my Mother, and not to mine. There is nothing inherently wrong with being a ballerina (the problem was with me, not ballet). Dropping ballet meant that I was able to¬†devote more time to school and follow the pathway to become a nurse. I can think of a hundred reasons as to why I’m much better suited to being a nurse than a ballerina, and even though I don’t work a ton these days, it is a profession that I love and that has given me useful, practical knowledge for everyday life.

The Lord recently removed another idol from me (coffee), and the freedom I feel from giving up something as seemingly simple as coffee happens to be enormous! I’ve learned that the Lord both gives and takes away– and sometimes, the things He takes away are actually curses disguised as blessings. In the end, I have received a multitude of blessings by having these idols stripped away from me. When our lives are completely entrusted to Jesus, there is nothing but peace and joy!

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)

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Josh is Three!

This little buddy of ours had a birthday last weekend! It was a really fun gathering composed of just family, and it seemed like everyone had a great time!

This was our first party in the new house. My husband is installing new floors this weekend, and we had a wall removed two weeks ago, so our house was a little bit in disarray… but no one seemed to care!

Josh’s baby book – where I try to chronicle things like – is in a box somewhere in our garage. We desperately need to get some bookshelves so we can get those books out of boxes once and for all! For now this blog post will have to be enough to jog our memories later on.

The theme was ¬†“Alphabet Letters” – since Josh is obsessed with letters right now. I ordered these letter flash cards on Amazon and put them up on the wall. We like them so much I think we’ll keep them there for school later on.

You can see where we had the wall removed below. We may have been missing laminate and baseboards, but it was awesome to have that wall gone and really nice for parties!

We had burgers, hot dogs, potato and green salad, fruit, veggies and chips for lunch. I’m a fan of keeping it simple if at all possible. We played an alphabet game and then hit the pinata.

Then we had dessert – a “J” cake for Joshua and ice cream. My aunt helped me make the cake look better than it did originally, thankfully.

And then it was present time! Wow, did this kid get some great gifts perfectly suited to his personality. It was clear how many people in our family love him and understand how his brain works! We are so blessed to have this kind of family support and love.

Happy third birthday, little guy. We love you so much and love to see you learn, grow, and even take on some responsibilities!

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Goodbye, Mr. Bear

We lost an old friend today: Mr. Bear.

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Mr. Bear and Josh have been inseparable for pretty much Josh’s entire life. Mr. Bear was a constant companion, who’s presence was required at book time, bedtime, and often car time as well. I have been blown away by how much comfort one little bear brought one small boy.

And somehow, in the last 3 years, we had never misplaced Mr. Bear for more than a moment. Until today.

Sadly, Mr. Bear got chucked out of the car today by Josh while we were on the freeway. He was in the throes of a raging tantrum at the time. I didn’t even realize Mr. Bear had been relegated to the heavy tires and traffic¬†of I-80 until we got to my parents house half an hour later.

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I admit, this boy has depended on Mr. Bear for the last 3 years, and I was initially upset that Mr. Bear was forever gone. But as my husband says, “When you have kids, you just roll with punches. And there are many punches.”

So I hopped in the car, went to Target and bought another bear.

$9.99 later: Hello, Mr. BIG Bear. Welcome to our family. (We’re not sure if we’re friends yet.)

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Although ten minutes ago, Josh was clutching Mr. Big Bear in his arms while trying to fall asleep.

So I’d say they’re going to be friends after all.

 

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HSG Results

I am in shock.

The last time I had an HSG done (4 years ago), one tube was blocked with water in it (and then surgically removed) and the other tube was barely open. And when I say “barely,” I mean it! It took a long time to get a little drop of dye through it. When I asked the radiologist if the tube was open, he responded “Well… Not really. But there was a little dye that went through.”

So imagine my shock this morning when I had another HSG test done and my tube was not only open, but VERY open! The dye went through it right away! Wait… what?!

This totally feels like a miracle. I’m not used to getting good news after tests like these! We are rejoicing at the good news!

 

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Facing the Giant {Again}

This morning as I was reading my Bible I came across these verses:

“Look carefully then how you will walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

This is the prayer of my heart right now as I juggle raising two toddlers with my husband, managing our home, getting projects done around the house (hello new fixer home) and working part time. I want to be a light (Eph. 5:8)– not only to my children but also the community around me.

After eleven wonderful months, all signs point toward the endometriosis coming back with a vengeance. I’m so bummed. I actually thought I would have a bit more time. My periods have been barely making a blip on the radar with one, maybe two, days of mild cramping. And then this month happened. I actually believed I was possibly pregnant because I had cramping and nausea for seven straight days (around the clock) before my period started. I thought that maybe it was implantation cramping. However, my period started up 3 days late and once it started, the cramping was horrible with ibuprofen barely touching the pain. I had to rest a lot of else the nausea from the pain would become too great. It was a real drag, and lasted longer than I thought it would! All in all, this cycle affected me so that I was unable to function at full capacity for about 9 days. I’m not happy about that.

I semi-joined this endometriosis support group on facebook (meaning I occasionally read comments, but that I’m not very committed to it) and if there’s anything I’ve learned from it — it’s that so many women have much more HORRIBLE endometriosis than¬†to me. We’re talking debilitating daily pain that causes endless surgeries, nerve blocker pumps being placed, years of requiring menopause-inducing medications, loss of employment¬†and other daily activities because the pain is too great. And let’s not forget to mention that the scope of infertility affecting these women is vast. So, I have a healthy fear of endo – not only from what these women have shared, but from my own personal experience with it prior to IVF and having children. Crippling pain for two to three weeks out of the month was my thing back then, and it stunk.

I have enjoyed not living in pain and I want to keep it that way, if I have any power to do so. I don’t want this disease to try to take over my life, like I have seen it do to many other women. So I am prayerfully considering what the best “next step” will be. I want to be wise, so that I will be able to teach my son preschool, take my kids to the park and on walks, and be able to work on our house. I want to have energy to help and bless others when there is a need.

On another note, not being pregnant when I had so much hope that I actually might be (despite that <1% chance of a natural pregnancy that I had, ha) was hard– I shed a few tears over that one! But I’m glad it happened, because it revealed to me that I really do want more children. There was not a hint of “How will we afford another child?” “Where will they sleep?” or “How will we manage?” There was just sheer excitement. So this will be something I will need to hold onto loosely, because I don’t know God’s plans for our family! All I know is that His plans are BEST, and I trust Him for our future. I just have to look at Josh and Rachel to be reminded of that.

Thanks for praying for me, if you think of it. I’m going to start by getting an HSG this Friday (hysterosalpingogram). This will tell me if my remaining fallopian tube is even patent (open). If it’s not, or if there’s water blocked in the tube (hydrosalpinx) then there’s really no point in taking the time to try to conceive naturally (you know…because a 1% chance is still greater than a 0% chance…). My hubby and I will have to prayerfully consider where to go from there, depending on the HSG results.

In the meantime, here are some pictures from last December depicting God’s blessings on us through our marriage and children. How blessed we are! Pictures are by my friend Katherine Owens.

 

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A Stroll Through Memory Lane {2016}

I pulled out my camera on the spur of the moment yesterday to catch some photos of Josh and my hubby outside during the “golden light” sunset. I realized immediately that my photography skills were quite rusty (ahem, BAD)– I have barely used my camera at all this year! Such a shame.

Later on, when I popped my SD card into my computer I realized that I had not downloaded pictures taken as far back as April. So I thought I’d share a few!

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My Little Guy

My little Josh is quickly growing into a big boy. I’m not sure when this happened, but it’s been really fun to witness. Parenting, for all it’s exhaustion and challenges, is full of wonder and joy.

Some highlights of this little dude who will be 3 in just a few short months.

-He is not cuddly by nature, but Mommy requires her daily allotment of snuggles with this guy and for all his protests, he loves it.

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-He is very happy when he is building something like this. (Of course, it must be built up and away from where little sister can’t get into it. Otherwise we have one very frustrated little boy!)

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-Thomas the Train, x 10,000. This guy lives, eats and breathes Thomas the Train. No need to say more.

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-And dare I mention books? We are always in pursuit of new reading material. Hanging out with his Auntie below.

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-Mommy finally got brave and tried out baking with a toddler. He loved it. Mommy… semi-loved it.

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-Playing outside. Those leaves are since gone from the tree, but at the time I would push him high enough so that the leaves would tickle his face and he giggled hysterically.

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-“We’re just two guys hanging out!” is the refrain I often hear when Josh and Daddy are together. Daddy is the BEST playmate.

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I must say, from 14 months to 27 months were pretty rough with this guy. We had frequent¬†show-stopper meltdowns no matter how much we tried to avoid them. By several accounts, he was a “tough toddler.” But for several months now, we’ve seen this little guy really flourish as his vocabulary took off and his level of independence increased. And I’ve been happy to give him his own set of duties/responsibilities as I’ve watched him become quite capable of handling them. He is so different from his sister — he is focused, happy to be alone for long periods of time, delights in looking at every single page of a thick book, and loves his routine.

I’m looking forward to what the next year will bring. Thankful to our Savior for such this little dude. We love you Joshua!

 

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Settling In

Per usual fashion, I have about 3 minutes to type until the kids get up from their naps.

We are slowly settling into our new home. We still have a list a mile long of things we need to repair or replace, but we’re taking it at a much slower pace. We do have mold, predominantly in our kitchen area. We know there were leaks under the sink and under the fridge, and there’s still a lot of moisture showing up there under the laminate. We’re guessing that’s where the mold is (which, by the way, is not ultra high levels and also¬†not TOXIC mold, praise God!). So bye-bye laminate flooring – it will need to be pulled up. I’m batting for tile so we can never worry about leaking anything for a long, long time. We have to replace the counter/sink/faucet/garbage disposal (which is leaking at the moment) as well, and so with a rather long list of needed repairs to get rid of mold, I’ve picked up quite a few night shifts at the hospital. I’m thankful for such a great job, which lets me work the spectrum of hours.

I’ve got up Costco’s awesomely¬†massive¬†Christmas wreath on our front door and some decorations on the fireplace mantle (thanks to Target’s $1 aisle). We’re on the fence about putting up the Christmas tree this year. 14 month old Rachel is active, determined, and in no way, shape or form a quitter. She will pull that tree down as fast and as hard as she can make it happen! Even so, I still think we shouldn’t skip out on the tree this year though. We might have to get creative.

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Target’s $1-$3 aisle is all really cute stuff right now.

Life with these two kiddos is so busy. I have no idea how people have 2 toddlers plus older kids at home and don’t lose their minds. Maybe it’s Rachel’s age and stage at the moment- I’m not sure?

Some of Rachel’s most favorite activities include:

  • Getting into Josh’s diaper pail.
  • Trying to get Josh’s dirty diaper away from Mom before she throws it into the diaper pail.
  • Taking wipes away from Mom while she is trying to change Josh’s diaper.
  • Eating Mom’s dirty socks.
  • Eating Mom’s dirty shoes.
  • Throwing food off of high chair tray.
  • Smearing food-laden greasy hands through hair (as many times as possible to complete the “look”).
  • Sucking on shampoo bottle.
  • Playing with toilet lid.
  • Bursting into brother’s room while he’s napping, or at least screeching loudly outside his door.
  • Snuggling with Mom.
  • Giggling and laughing while ANYONE pays attention to her.
  • Eating “special treats” after dinner (this girl loves M&M’s).

So you see, this girl keeps us on our toes (but also keeps a smile on our faces). Her big brother Josh, who will be 3 in March, puts up with his sister’s shenanigans fairly well for the time being. Occasionally he is provoked a little too much and he snaps back at her. He loves her though and is a good helper. I really love the times I get to spend just with Josh. He is learning and growing so much and it is really fun to discover a little bit of how his brain works (ahem.. a lot like his father’s.)

Well, the timer’s going off, and if I don’t get Josh up he’ll take forever to fall asleep tonight.

Hope you have a great rest of your week!

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Don’t be fooled, that headband lasted about 3 seconds.

Isn't this the cutest little bench?

Isn’t this the cutest little bench?

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