Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Starting Over

This morning Chris and I drove an hour to our recently purchased home to do some "minor projects". As always with home improvement projects 'minor' translates into 'major'. And as we stood surrounded by piles of old molding, a mound of recently torn out vinyl flooring, and an even larger pile of old carpeting - Chris inquired: "Are you sure you're ready to start over"?

We've been through this game before. When we purchased our previous home it was literally like stepping into a time machine. Green shag carpet, faded blue walls, yellow floors - you name it. We basically gutted the entire townhouse and started over - room by room.

Pretty much that's the same story with our new place. Except, this time it's more like stepping into Tim 'the tool man' Taylor's workshop. I can't say 'everything', but pretty much everything needs to be redone. Re-everything-ed. This is the type of space that takes vision. Like, put-on-your-working-pants vision.

So, today, that's exactly what we did. Not the glasses part. The pants part. We put them on and worked for hours until Chris stopped to ask that simple, yet semi-nervous, question. "Are you ready"?

"I'm ready", I proclaimed boldly (and semi-dramatically).

There's a small part of me that wonders what we've got ourselves into - I'm not gonna lie about that. It hasn't been exactly 'easy' to renovate a home that's been vacant for a year, especially when you factor in that we have a VERY small child and limited resources as far as babysitting goes. The good news: we're not giving up. Not even close. If it was easy we wouldn't learn a thing. Where's the fun in that?

And speaking of learning. Today I went around the house, vacuum in hand, and sucked up all the dead bugs. Yup, me. ME! If you know me at all, even a tad bit, you should know how I feel about all things creepy crawly, even creepy fly-ee. I hate them. No, I loath them. All of them. I don't care what they do for the environment. I don't care if spiders eat all the "bad things". I don't care what pollinates what and if we'd all go extinct without them - I don't like them. Not butterflies nor roly-poly. They are not cute. They are not pretty. Get them off, get them out! Therefore, today (in my own bug hating mind) I'm a hero. I'm courageous! The fact that 2 days ago I mustered up the courage to spay for them, and today I had the courage to clean them up - in my book - scratches of an entire section of my bucket list. Forget climbing Everest, I just sucked up Charlotte.

All kidding aside, I've literally not slept in over a week thinking about the Motel our 'home' has become to only God knows what kind of creatures in the year it's been vacant. I've literally had nightmares about it every night. I've woken up and stayed up for hours thinking about it. In all, I'm a wuss. BUT NOT TODAY! And I decided it's part of my "growth". As simple and 'dumb' as it all sounds - it's real to me. I have a very real fear/anxiety over this issue. And instead of running the other way I'm determined to march forward.

Obviously, since we've sprayed and started our work, most everything has left. I think I saw one spider today and 2 crawly things - all dead. There's hope. Not only for the house but for me. I really hate fear. I want no part of it. I hate that I cringe at the thought of a butterfly coming anywhere near me and I'm determined to change that. I want to just make up my mind that I'm not afraid and just not be. I'll work on that. I already have. Chris didn't help me kill one thing today. Go me.

See, I'm ready. I'm ready to take on this house. It already looks better. The bugs have been sprayed, the old flooring has been removed, the entire house has been professionally cleaned - and it sparkles - new carpet, drywall repairs, and paint are all coming in the next week.

Very soon, this house will be like new. And during it all both Chris and I... and maybe even K too, will be changed as well. I know it's already begun in me. I'm determined to learn something from every situation through all of this. I'm tired now, exhausted even. but the reward is well worth the hard work - in everything. In mind and in body.

I can't wait to show K the scrapbook of us making this home for us. I want her to see that it can be fun to face her fears. That not everything comes easy, but there's reward in hard work. And that having everything is nothing compared to enjoying what you have already. I want her to live simply and fully.

One thing Chris and I always do to try to accomplish this goal of living simply is buying re-sale. Everything but food and toiletries, really. We all get 'new' wardrobes from re-sale shops. Even K. In fact, everything 'new' she has was purchased from someone else, including her toys. Some people call me cheap, I call myself resourceful. And I can guarantee you'd never know I didn't pay full price.

Like Saturday. Chris and I found this great new place just north of 18 mile on Hayes. It's called "From my home to yours". She stocks all furniture purchased from estate sales. For less than 1/2 the price of retail, Chris and I picked up a Buffet for our dining room that looks virtually brand new. I say this not to brag but to inform. Take advantage. It might take a little longer to find what you're looking for...but you'll save major $$ later. In return, you'll have more money for the things that really matter - like that priceless vacation you've been dreaming of all year!

*cheers* To enjoying the small things and spending less on the big things!!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010


view from the neighborhood park

We just found out that we'll be closing on our new home Tuesday. To say the least - I'm pumped!

It's all starting to become so real. We really are buying our first house. Far away from all the comforts of "home", much further from parents and friends and stores we know the layout to..and it's real now. Almost. I don't think it will all sink in completely until much later. When the lawn is mowed and the house is cleaned. Not until the walls are painted and the furniture is in place, and the last picture is set on the mantel. As we shut out the lights and crawl into bed and lay there staring at walls that don't know us - it will sink in completely. I'm partially dreading that moment. I feel at first there will be more doubt and fear than there will be peace. Mostly because I'm somewhat a creature of habit. I enjoy the familiar and embrace change with semi-open arms. It will take time. Especially when I'm home alone with K, surrounded by unfamiliar neighbors and bugs and sounds. I'm sure I'll be counting the moments 'till Chris gets home. It took me about a week to shake the discomforts of living in a room above Hubby's Grandmother. Not because it's bad, but because it's not mine. And even though this house will be'll take time to transform from house to home. I'm really excited for that moment, when I look around and it's familiar. When my neighbors have names and I know where the brown rice is located at Neimans. I'll be home.

If anything, in all of this, I'm so thankful God understands who I am. I'm thankful for the doubt and tears and set-backs. I feel they've given us a stronger understanding of our faith and ourselves. They've given us many opportunities we'd never of had if everything would have gone as smoothly as we'd prayed it would. They've also taught us that His plan is definitely always better than ours.

And I'll say it once again, I'm excited!

In other news:

I'm amazed at K. She's grown so much since we left our townhouse over a month ago. She's crawling and pulling herself up to a standing position. She can cruise on furniture, imitate sounds and gestures, she says Mama & Dada. Everyday it's something new. Like today. She was chomping on my fingers/hand like she always does. Except today I felt something new - and sharp! A tooth! My little baby girl has a tooth! Well, almost a tooth. It's just a little sharp bump now, but I'm sure by the end of the week I'll be staring at a not-so-gummy smile. It really is amazing how fast they grow. Incredibly, sad-ly, amazing. I've been trying to prepare myself for what's to come. I just know she'll be walking soon, probably talking, and eating finger foods. And all I can do is take a deep breath and let it go. She's growing up, before I know it I'll be hanging first birthday decorations. And before I have the chance to blink I'll be hanging her graduation ones. Ugh. I think this might be the reason why some people choose to have so many children. It's so hard to watch them grow. Rewarding, but hard. However, I might just cure my baby fever with home videos rather than 19 K-named children - just saying.

We had our very 1st family photo shoot yesterday. I'm so excited to see the pics I could almost pee. I'm excited to hang our 1st pictures in our 1st house. And then I'll have to take pictures of those pictures on that wall and scrapbook them.

...I'm such an addict.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Finding Home

A few weeks after Kamea was born both Chris and I started realizing something.

Space. We had none.

6 months after we said "I do", Chris and I upgraded from our 1bdrm apartment, to a 875sq. ft, 2bdrm townhouse. It was outdated, dirty and old - but it was ours. We spent our first few months ripping out green shag carpet, painting over worn-blue walls, and laying tile over 50yr old laminate. And through the years the projects kept coming and going. New hardware, light fixtures, bathrooms, and our last project - the basement. And 3 years later - It was perfect. "Perfect for us and the baby", we said confidently.

And then there were 3. (For real this time). And once she was there the walls kept inching their way in on us. So, we built closet organizers, and purchased bins, and hung shelves... nothing. I don't know if we just kept buying more things or if she just had that much stuff - but we were cramped!

We didn't even really discuss the option of selling our place and buying a home. It just sort of happened. We looked at each other one early morning - baby in arms - and we knew it was time to move on. "I'll call Pat." I think that's as far as the discussion went. And later that week our townhouse was on the market and we were searching for a home.

We pretty much sold our townhouse and bought our new place in the same day. Chris and I had done a lot of house hunting online before we actually went and looked at places. We didn't want to jump the gun and get excited about a home when our place wasn't even sold yet. So, we sat back and waited. Occasionally, we looked at a few homes for fun but nothing serious.

Now, you could say I'm obsessive when it comes to certain things. (most things). Research being my #1 obsession. Nothing happens. Nothing is purchased, trips aren't taken, food isn't eaten, medicine isn't ingested - nothing - until I've done my research. Same goes not just for home buying, but for city/township living. I needed to know who lived there, their ages, the income levels, sex offenders, crime rates, taxes, activities, parks, etc. And after much debate. . . we both settled on St. Clair. We loved the lifestyle. The atmosphere. The people. Everything. Every time we took a drive to have a pinic or check out a neighborhood we just fell more and more in love.

However, there was just one teensy weensy thing missing. A house. St Clair is a small town filled with old houses. And old houses come with big problems. And big problems come at a big price. So. You can imagine the look on our faces when we actaully saw INSIDE that cute little historical home by the water. Yep. Some of them were like stepping into a fun house. Everything crooked, rooms in places you'd never imagine, steps so steep they might as well be a ladder. And every time we found something that looked amazing. Back taxes. High Taxes. Broken septic tanks. Short-Sale. Etc!!!

It's kind of funny how we actually found our home. It had nothing we were looking for at the time. We made our list and checked it twice, and this home had none of it.

It was Chris that found it, and I that ignored it. After an exhausting day looking through nightmares and money-pits, Chris typed one last address into our GPS. I knew exactly what house he was headed to and I didn't care. I didn't want it. That is, until he pulled up to a ranch-style home hidden on dirt road. Immediately, I knew. I didn't say it, but I knew. This was it. And it was exact home I'd scratched off our list for lack of everything that I wanted. And it was perfect. Oddly perfect. Never the home I would have chosen on my own, but without a doubt where I knew we should be. And once our realtor showed us the inside I was sold.

I love surprises. And I think that's another reason why I love this house so much. Because God knows what we can't imagine ourselves, and I think He has a lot of fun surprising us with what we really want. Or, at least that's the way I like to think of it. It really is the perfect house for us, to the point where I can't believe I'd ever overlooked it. It's 1658sq ft, it has 4bdrms, a brand new kitchen, 2 full bathrooms, a wall-to-wall - floor to ceiling brick fireplace, a huge backyard w/ a swingset. A large porch, a big patio. AND, tah- dah! IN OUR PRICE RANGE! Seriously? Did I need fireworks and a parade to prove to me this was it?!

The day we made our appointment with the realtor we were both very nervous to walk in the door. It was that type of anxiety you have when you're so sure of something that you just know it has to be wrong. I don't know why we do that to ourselves. Have faith to the point we convince ourselves our faith isn't good enough. Thankfully, God is much bigger than our insecurites. And when we finally walked in that door it was like stepping into confirmation. Once again, no discussion was needed. Our quick glance said it all. This was it. And 1 week later our townhouse was sold and our offer was accepted.

And now, we wait. Not always so patiently to move in. We've since moved out of our townhouse. (which was bittersweet and emotional and an entirely different post) And we're living with Grandma until our home is ready. Which...was technically supposed to be 2months ago. BUT - it wasn't. We had the inspection done right away - it passed with flying colors, EXCEPT, the beloved boiler. It's not broken, but the pipes that run along the baseboards are broken. And, as it turns out, it's taken much longer than we'd anticipated to have the repairs done. GOOD NEWS, we're not paying for any of it. And that IS good news! Bad news? We're moving twice in one summer...oh, with a baby.

Not so much to my surprise, Kamea has adapted well. She's still mostly on her same cycle with a few minor nap mishaps. Nothing we can't live with. She's been happy all but one day. Still sleeping through the night. And generally on the same schedule throughout the day. The biggest change is change itself at this point. Our food is in boxes, our clothes are in bins and suitcases, her toys are scattered and misplaced, and all but our toiletries are packed into its own stuff-apartment until we move for real.

Thank God for gracious family members who allow us to invade their space and don't mind (too much,anyways) being woken up every morning at 7am to a sippy cup banging against a highchair tray during breakfast.

I'd be lying if I said it wasn't inconvenient (for all those involved, I'm sure) but it's an experience. Its forcing us to become closer in ever tighter spaces, it's a good lesson in living simply, and above all - it's a journey.

Which, eventually, is leading us home.

I'm excited. I see so clearly how God has molded every obstacle. I see His hand in everything. And it makes me feel really special to know He cares enough to watch over us.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

King & Queen

Chris and I fell in love building a card house. He wanted to build one and I knew how. 3 hours later, after many times re-building, there it stood. A 5 story card house (and a group of worn-faced friends glad we had finally finished.)

I still find a girly-like significance in that night.

The fact that we comitted to something and no matter how many times it fell it part, no matter how tired we were, we rebuilt it. We re-built it because we shared a common goal and a stubburn perserverence.

I'm so glad we never gave up.

That was the first time I ever met Chris. Formally, anyways.

13 months later we said our vows.

Monday, May 31, 2010


My obsession with photographing K is finally becoming a problem. I'm not organized enough. I have her 1st two months perfectly documented. The rest are scattered everywhere. None of them are printed. None of them burned onto CD's. I am committing the summer to finding a solution to this. And yes, it will take me all summer because that's how long it will take to save the money to print them all.

Speaking of documenting. I decided I hate photo books. I have four of them. I also have a semi-finished homemade scrapbook of Chris and I, and it's way more personal. I also hate that I've decided this because it means so much more work for me.

On an up-note. I saved every 'baby' card I received from the baby shower/hospital and I fully intend on using all the cute little baby decor on them for scrapbooking. This ought to save me a good chunk of $! I'm also thinking of cutting out some of the notes people wrote in them for her and using them as "sayings" instead of printing off quotes from the Internet.

All this talk of scrapbooking is making me antsy! ..Time for a trip to the dollar store for supplies! And Flower Factory... And Archivers.

Is there any way I could possibly get paid for being a Mom?

I should have saved all my ice cream truck money for this...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mother Dearest

I saw this Mom today. Well, not this Mom, but someone with a stunning resemblance. She had the same crunched up monster face. Her eyebrows burrowing into her skin, mouth wide and finger pointed as shown.

Her total at the register came to $334.65. I remember this because she said it repeatedly, and loudly. All to a small girl no higher than my waist. And I quote "$334.65 because you just had to have your fruit roll-ups!"

I don't buy fruit roll-ups. Maybe it's because I can't afford them, but I have a feeling that's not the case.

And as I stood there waiting for her to finish swiping her card and yelling at her child over her poor choices, I couldn't help but flash forward and pray. Not only that I never have a Target bill that comes to hundreds or dollars worth of fruit roll-ups...but also that I never become this yelling, monster of a Mother. I'm sure she's not a bad person. In fact, she's probably a wonderful mother. She obviously has flaws and there's no way I can throw stones at her if I stop and think about the way I react some days. However, if I'm going to flip out at Kamea one day I at least want it to be over something valid. She could have said no to the demands of a whining 4yr old. She also could have said no to the pile of womens clothing in her basket. Priorities. I pray I have them. And patience. And self-control. Honestly, I was humiliated for her. Which made me humiliated for myself in the future.

I smiled at the girl as her mom finished making her purchase in the hope she would feel a little bit better about herself in that moment. And I looked at Kamea, kissed her little barefeet and laughed to myself.

Motherhood is going to be quite the ride. I hope I choose to make it a fun one.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Old People Love Socks

During a family vacation to Disney World last year we played a game of 'worst dressed'. I just stumbled upon my top 2.

At first I was thinking this gentlemen was maybe just carrying his granddaughters backpack... and then I saw the socks.

The woman, well I'm sure she ended up with a curious tan at the end of this vacation.