Thursday, January 2, 2014

Year in Review: 2013 Edition

A little late, but our two year anniversary of owning a home was Dec. 17. Last year I did a "year in review" of our projects, and I wanted to do the same thing this year. So here we go on our trip down memory lane ...

We lived with blinds held up with bandaids for a year and walls that looked like someone had decided painting with dirt was a better idea than actual paint. Now our master bedroom looks like a calm retreat.

It might not look like a huge difference, but our living room went from dingy and dated to bright and inviting (in my opinion :). And boy was it a huge project painting all those walls (twice) and replacing 350 feet in trim and 7 doors complete with fixtures.

The before and after for our hallway still makes me happy. Soon though we'll be replacing that light!

The nursery was of course one of my favorite projects. It was so much fun preparing for our little girl. I sat in that room many days during the end of my pregnancy imagining her there. I can't believe she sleeps in there now!

And last, but certainly not least, the guest bathroom was one of our biggest renos yet in our home. I still go in just to look at it before I go to bed. I can't wait to redo our master bath, but that's going to take some saving up.

I'm pretty proud of the work we put into our home and am excited about the projects we've been discussing for the coming year! We don't have a lot of rooms left to update, but there are plenty of floors, closets, and more that need some love. So thankful that we've been blessed to have accomplished all this. Special thanks to my amazingly handy and selfless hubby and my generous dad for making these projects a possibility.  This home had been a work of love for our family, and we hope we can bless others with it in our continued ministry.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Goodbye 1985. Hello 2014.

I've completely fallen off the blogging map these last few months. I guess that's what having a baby and working will do to you. And on top of that, we decided to renovate our guest bathroom. (Yeah!!) 

Having a little one definitely slowed down our progress. No nail guns after 8pm and wallpaper removal in 20 minute chunks. But we finished, minus a few odds and ends. 

The bathrooms in our home might have been the most dated rooms in our home. 1985 specifically. Sailboat wallpaper, shell shaped sinks, and carpet (in a bathroom, gross). It all had to come out. All. Of. It.

Before. The paper lantern was left behind from the tenant occupying the home before we moved in.

See how dark it is? There was no light over the toilet or the shower.

Not terrible, but nothing extraordinary either. 

Nice touch of "nautical" with the fraying rope.

Like almost all of our renos, we decided to start this gut randomly one morning. We've had the tile collecting dust in our garage for over a year now. It was extra from a project my dad did (he's a master craftsman in the tile business) and we couldn't wait to install it. But first we had to rip everything out.

All gone. 

Prepping for new tile.

It was messy, dusty business. Our whole home was covered in a layer of dust. Not my favorite.

When we removed everything, we went shopping for our replacement items. Toilet, fixtures, and vanity. But wait. Our old vanity was 65 inches. They don't make vanities 65 inches. 60 and 72, but not 65. So we found the silver lining and decided to build out the stub wall and build in shelves. It was quite a bit of extra work, but well worth the effort. 

We also purchased new lights. Lights are always one of my favorite parts of our projects. And this project was special for two reasons. First, we moved the light switch from outside the room (a favorite past time of my dad's was to turn off the light on my mom while she was using the restroom. So mean.), inside the room.  And next we added light over the dark shower and toilet. Poor hubby spent a lot of time in the attic to get that to work. 

Our final major addition was a double vanity. That was a must on my list since someday I see children fighting over a single sink.

My dad doing amazing work! We also added two cubbies in the shower.

This looks like a horror film. We took all the wallpaper down and it was impossible to plaster the wall enough to get it smooth (not despite a lot of trying on my part). So we found an orange peel spray on plaster. It worked like a charm, but I'd suggest doing it before you install the tile and vanity. We had to cover and tape EVERYTHING! So after about two months, we are finally finished!

What. A. Difference. 
Goodbye 1985.  Hello 2014 :)

I'm so happy the vanity was an odd size because I adore this built in. It's beautiful and will be so functional in the future.

Makes me want to take a hot bath and relax. We went with a shower curtain instead of a shower door so it will make bath time easier in the future. Plus, I LOVE shower curtains. I don't know why, I just do. I think it's an easy way to change the feel of the whole bathroom without spending a lot of money.

Love the cubbies, tile, and our new fixtures. 

This is a beautiful sight to see down the hallway. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Our Birth Story

Throughout my entire pregnancy I was positive I'd have this baby early. My reasoning partially stemmed from the fact that she was so active, but also partially because I couldn't really imagine being pregnant for 40 weeks! So, when my husband started asking people to guess our daughter's birthdate I put my guess down for July 15, one of my best friend's birthdays and almost two weeks before my due date of July 30. However, the closer we go to the 15th, the less likely I felt like she would be coming early.

Last pregnant photo.
On July 13 I had Braxton Hicks contractions all day. I had BH contractions throughout a good portion of my pregnancy, but never all day long. I kept saying how I thought the BH contractions were a sign that labor would start soon, but my husband wasn't so sure. The next day I didn't have any BH contractions. I was so disappointed and told myself to expect to go the full 40 ... if not longer. I was just dying to meet this little girl, but knew she'd come when she was ready.

Sunday night I picked out my clothes for work the next morning, set my alarm, and fell asleep only to dream I was in labor. The dream was so real I woke up and kept feeling the pain. It took me several minutes and another few contractions before I realized I wasn't dreaming. These were the real thing!

It was about 2 am and I decided to get up and walk around to see if they'd go away. At 2:30 I woke up Ben because they were getting stronger rather than weaker. He watched me have a contraction and started packing the hospital bag. I tried to help, but mostly I held onto the bathroom counter and swayed through each contraction, which were coming about two to three minutes apart.

At 4:30 Ben said we needed to start our drive to the hospital, which was 30 minutes away. I was in complete denial that I was actually having a baby. I kept telling him there was no way this was the real thing. Everything I had read said false labor was common, that you should labor at home for several hours, that women are in labor for hours and hours, and it was the day I had picked for her birthdate (and since I had picked that day I was positive it wouldn't in fact be her birthday). But I couldn't deny how strong and frequent the contractions were, so we left.

I don't really remember the ride there. Each contraction required my full attention, and the small resting period in between was just enough time to prepare for the next. I do remember the walk from the car to the hospital. It was warm, but not hot and only slightly humid. The stars were still out but starting to fade as the dawn was approaching. It was so quiet. I also had a contraction halfway to the door, and Ben held me and whispered, "We're going to have a baby today" in my ear.

When we made it inside and to the registration table, the nurses asked us how long I had been having contractions. Three hours. They gave each other sideways glances that read, "Looks like we'll be sending this lady home." I didn't blame them because I kept thinking the same thing. They sent me to an observation room and said if I didn't progress they'd send me home. I was only at three centimeters. I was positive they would send me home and that made me want to cry because I couldn't imagine the contractions getting much stronger. Five minutes later my water broke. We were having a baby!

In the observation room for about 10 minutes.
One of the things I was most excited about at my hospital was all the options they had to help with pain management in labor that were drug free. I had done a bit of research during my pregnancy and, even though I'm a total wimp when it comes to pain, had hoped I could make it through labor and delivery drug free using the Bradley Method. Most people told me I was crazy and assured me that once the contractions started I'd be begging for the epidural. They were almost right. I couldn't get out of the hospital bed let alone use a labor ball or hydrotherapy while having contractions.

At first I lost focus, forgot everything I had learned about the Bradley Method, and began to panic. I must have been on repeat telling Ben, "I don't think I can do this." He kept telling me I could and to focus on relaxing. A few days earlier we had made a pinky promise that he wouldn't let me get an epidural, and for us a pinky promise is unbreakable. I was cursing the pinky promise around 7 am.

At 8 am my doctor showed up and asked if I wanted to be checked. Even though I know dilation doesn't give you an accurate picture of how far along you are in labor I said yes. She asked me to guess how far along I was. I prayed for at least 5 cm. The nurses and the other resident doctor agreed with me. 8! I was 8 cm, and I was refocused on my goal of a drug-free birth.

The Bradley Method is also referred to as Husband-Coached Childbirth. My husband deserves an award for the amazing job he did coaching me. He held my hand and talked me through the whole thing. He watched the monitors, told me what was happening around me, and constantly encouraged me. He was amazing, and I could not have done it without him. My mom also came in a few times and talked me through a few contractions. I didn't realize how important that talking and encouragement would be, but both were entirely necessary.

By 10:30 am I had reached the "I can't do this" phase that the Bradley Method identifies as "the end." I had told Ben that I was excited for when I said, "I can't do this" because it would mean I'd be meeting my daughter soon. However, by the time I said "I can't do this" I meant it. The pushing contractions felt impossible. But Ben kept saying, "This is the end. Just a little longer. This is the part you've been waiting for." At 10:45 the nurse said I could start pushing once the doctor arrived. If I have one suggestion for other pregnant women, it's to find an awesome doctor like mine. She gave me specific, clear instructions on what I needed to do. She talked me through the whole thing and never once was I unsure or unaware of what was happening.

At 11:08, after 16 minutes of pushing, I heard my husband say, "There she is!" Cordelia Renée was lifted straight to my arms where I held her while she cried for the first time and I finally cried as well. My husband got to cut the cord and then he joined us, crying as well.

We're complete.
Cordie getting checked by the doctor while a very happy daddy watches.
It was extremely difficult and so fast. Definitely one of the hardest things I've ever done even though my family said that it looked like I was sleeping while I was having contractions. Glad I made it look easy ha! It was so worth it and I thank God that I was given the ability and the option to do so. But in the end I was just happy Cordie was born healthy and that she's in my arms, regardless of how she got there.
A family.
Mother and daughter.
Father and daughter.
Cordelia (jewel of the sea) Renée (reborn), 6 lbs 4 oz 19 inches and 15 days early.
One day old.
Three weeks.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Our Nursery: Anticipating a Little Girl

When Ben and I were touring our now home about a year and a half ago we couldn't help but picture one of the bedrooms as a nursery. In fact looking at the whole house we couldn't help but picture each room being used by a growing family. And as we've redone each room, they've all be in preparation for our future as the family God has planned for us. So now that we've put some finishing touches on the nursery, it feels like "mission accomplished" as my husband put it. It's all been in anticipation of this little girl (and maybe her brothers/sisters someday). We obviously are no where near finished fixing up this home, but we feel ready to bring a new little person into our home.

Of course the physical surroundings are minor and rather insignificant when it comes to preparing for a baby, but man is it fun to put together a nursery! Seriously I had a blast, especially when you consider where we started in this room! See below:

It was pretty blah. But now, at a month before the due date (!!!), I'm happy to reveal where my daughter will spend time playing, dreaming, and growing. It was a blast to put together, and it's probably not officially finished, but it's ready for her.

Soon to be daddy putting up a new ceiling fan! Bay is very interested.

Putting together the crib!

The next few photos are done by my sister at Check out her work if you get a chance.

Few sidebars: yes the room is blue and yes we are having a girl. I am a girly girl, but not necessarily a pink-on-pink-on-pink kind. And no there is not really a "theme." There are some owls and a lot of various prints, but that's about as far as a theme goes. Regardless, I'm so happy with it.

The Details:

Beautiful owl my mom had made sitting next to an ultrasound picture.

She has a lot of dresses. 

This photo was taken by me, but it wasn't quite ready when my sister was snapping photos. The doll on the shelf was one my mom made for me.

And since we haven't taken any maternity photos yet, Kelsey snapped a few of those in the nursery as well. 

I adore these curtains! They were my splurge :)

Bay was interested in the shoes.

Baby shoes are the cutest. 


We can't wait to meet you little girl! 

Thank you Kelsey for these wonderful memories in photos!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Barbie Baby Shower

Thank you doesn't even begin to cut it in showing my gratitude for the shower my sister and friend threw me. Seriously, I'm just happy you both are having babies soon so I can do something in return for your little ones! So hugely blessed and thought I'd document via blog using the pictures my sister took. She's incredible talented behind the camera, so check her out at!

And yes, it's a girl if you couldn't tell by the vast amounts of pink. It was also Barbie themed because my sister and I were in love with the dolls as children. Kelsey has since gotten me something Barbie-related for many holidays as gifts and our parents actually got us the Disney princess Barbies last year for Christmas just for fun. Really happy I'm having a girl so we can put those to use someday.

The lovely ladies who threw me the amazing shower! They are due within about a week of each other in October!

My mom and I <3 I was so thrilled that she was able to be here for my shower. She left a lot of things back home (16 hours away) to be here for me and it meant so much.

The decor was so beautiful and very pink.

It's terrible, but I've been addicted to Lucky Charms during this pregnancy! 

Flowers and baby's breath and Barbie memorabilia everywhere!

We were ridiculously spoiled.

My friends are so talented that we got a lot of handmade items like this dress from my sister and a ton of other items that put my sewing skills to shame. 

And since I'm a bookworm, my sister asked that everyone bring books instead of cards. Love it!!

The ladies also made onsies of every size and wrote wishes and hopes for my baby girl to read someday. I was about in tears later as I was going through them.

Thank you so much to everyone who came and helped celebrate this new life, my daughter!