Sunday, February 19, 2017

project 365-2017; days 43-49

Another week of February gone....and another week of above normal temperatures. We have enjoyed some (freakishly) beautiful weather these past several days. Our family is all finally on the mend from our taking our turns with sickness. Impressively, the man of the house's cold has seemed to linger the longest.... ;-)

I hope you enjoy another peek into our world.


43/365

Noelle is obsessed with coloring, drawing, and anything ART. She loves to make pictures, cards, notes, and booklets. She copies things she sees in books, movies, and TV, but she also makes up her own doodles, too. She's also super protective of these new, pointy crayons. Don't think about mixing them with her sisters' stumpy, broken crayons.


44/365

Noelle's favorite Spelling Choice homework activity is SpellingCity.Com. I am thankful that she never fights me on homework. I know it won't always be like that.


45/365

For Valentine's Day, I made a special dinner at home for Luke and the girls, complete with plastic "wine" glasses (we drank sparkling grape juice), fancy plates, flowers, and chocolate fondue for dessert. Shiloh was a fan. 


46/365

Noelle had a great check up at the dentist. We love Dr. Trout's office and how good they are with the girls. She is keeping her teeth strong and healthy (what's left of them...). No cavities!


47/365

It's the little things.


48/365

This golden sunshine is Heaven-sent. The girls have loved playing outside so much this week. Noelle even dozed off for a few minutes on the tire swing.


49/365

We went early to mass on Saturday evening so the girls could play on the school playground in the warm sun. Yep, Charlotte...you ARE awesome.







Sunday, February 12, 2017

project 365-2017; days 29-42

I bet you thought I quit on this little challenge, huh?

The truth is, last week was way too busy for me to make an actual post, but thankfully I continued to pick up my camera, even when I didn't want to. So this week's post has 2 weeks' worth of photos in it for your viewing pleasure.

The sickness reached us this week. Noelle and Charlotte both battled fevers, aches, dizziness, and chills for a couple of days, and this tired, pregnant mama also has a sweet little version of a cold to deal with. We already know mamas don't get sick days, so we have been surviving the best we can.

Mother nature continues to screw with us here in Indiana. We have had 50-60 degree temperature days and 20 degree days with 3 inches of snow all in the same week. We are rapidly approaching Spring and we couldn't be more excited!

Disclaimer: Please note that in many of these photos, Shiloh is wearing the same clothes. This is not because I took multiple photos on the same day. It is because I have reached the stage in pregnancy where I am lazy. If the shirt is clean-ish and she wants to wear it 3 days in a row, I let her. Favorites around here are any shirt with a dog on it. She also usually is not wearing pants.

Here we go!


29/365

A messy play room drives me nuts, but the sight of this little one quietly loving on her baby makes it not as unbearable. 


30/365

Luke is attempting to play a game with all three while I make dinner. I don't know which is the more daunting task.


31/365

Shiloh is unfortunately phasing out of her regular nap time, which seems a little premature given that she is only 2 1/2. However, if I can get her still for long enough, she usually falls asleep for at least a little while. Today's spot of choice was on the couch while watching the iPad.


32/365

It was Catholic Schools Week, which is a week where the kiddos get to have fun with assemblies, pep sessions, dress days, and other special events. This was an important day because the Bishop was visiting and eating lunch with the students. Noelle was so excited and wanted me to do her hair in the "special, big curls" so that she would look extra spiffy. 


33/365

Sleeping Shiloh photos never get old. Because she soon won't be my youngest baby. And because she won't always do that thing that babies do with their thumbs/index fingers when they sleep.


34/365

We do books every night. These girls have such a great dad to get excited about Disney Princesses. P.S. Tell me everyone else has this much junk on their couch at any given time. No? Lie to me then.


35/365

We are spoiled with lots and lots of ultrasounds and pictures of this little guy thanks to some monitoring I need during pregnancy. I can't help but think that he looks like his biggest sister in this one.


36/365

Nothing more fun than crazy bathtub hair.


37/365

Noelle is obsessed with Lego sets. She built this little mini set before school this morning.


38/365

Shiloh got into the Bananagrams game and ended up spilling half of them on the floor. Oops!



39/365

I think I had just finished telling someone that Noelle is our healthiest child (all of them are super healthy, really), and then I got a call from the school that she had a 103 degree fever. She spent the next two days like this, but she is better now.


40/365

Shiloh thought the snowfall made the window a little too bright during her morning coloring. Good thing she had her shades.


41/365

Super noisy image (noisy = photographer's term for lots of grain) due to this being taken with darkness outside, near darkness inside (our living room is not well-lit), and not my best lens to handle such a task but I had to be quick. I tell myself years down the road I won't care how much grit is in the image...I will just be happy that I captured the moment the girls had a dance party with their Papa. Not pictured: Noelle who was happily performing a solo dance routine in the corner.


42/365

After 2-3 inches of snow, we got another 60 degree day by the end of the week. I loved coming home to these chalky handprints on the driveway after a day of errands.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The one about being 57% there

I realized that I hadn't written about my current pregnancy much lately. I don't know if it is a 4th child thing or an I'm too busy to sit down and write thing or an I'm too tired to think about it thing or what...but words cannot express how excited I am to meet this little guy.

I am over half-way there. In fact, I am 57% there. For those not willing to calculate, that means I am 23 weeks and some change. I am slightly defensive this pregnancy and don't talk much about how many weeks I am because I have been crushed before by a well-meaning person who, upon learning how far along I am, says, "Wow! You're so big already!" or "You look like you're about to pop!"For a person who really isn't about to pop, that's pretty disheartening and hurts your already sensitive pregnancy psyche. So, I have decided to be vague. Protective. It's for the best, as no one gets hurt that way (me or you).

If you have read this blog for a while, you know my pregnancy with Shiloh was slightly tumultuous. At 25 weeks, my cervix was measuring at about a centimeter long and got as short as almost half a centimeter. This is what you want to happen during labor, but it is not what you want to happen when you are just past the viability stage in pregnancy. I immediately began progesterone injections in my butt, daily oral medication, and weekly monitoring via cervical ultrasounds (as exciting as they sound) and non-stress tests. I also developed gestational diabetes (which I never had with my first two pregnancies), was placed on bed-rest-ish, and I wrecked my van at 30 weeks pregnant. It was all good times.

Shiloh came at 37 weeks, and I could not have been more relieved that everything turned out OK.

As a result of all of that crazy, I have been monitored weekly for the past several weeks with more cervical ultrasounds, more progesterone shots in my butt, and more daily oral medication. I also have had several instances of hours of contractions that seem to come out of nowhere and disappear when I am on the brink of driving myself to the hospital because I can't take it anymore.

To put it bluntly, I am scared. This pregnancy has not been overly enjoyable, and saying that makes me feel like a horrible person. I personally know so many friends now who have experienced pregnancy loss in some way -- either early pregnancy loss, middle of pregnancy loss, or stillbirth, and I feel incredibly guilty to be complaining. Hell, even I know the grief that is losing a pregnancy early on as I have done it twice. I swore to myself and pleaded with God that if He would let me carry another child, that I would relish every single second.

But when I am afraid every week that the threat of preterm labor will become more imminent...when I have contractions that won't stop for hours...when I stress and fret about what the next ultrasound will show or when the shit will all hit the fan...it is difficult to let myself become too excited.

He kicks me all the time, which is a happy reminder that he is fine. He is perfect. He is healthy and doing what he should be doing. I just hope my body can continue to provide for him and that my mind allows me to enjoy these moments as this could be the last pregnancy.

It's not something I like to think about...this being my last pregnancy. People like to tease with, "Are you crazy?" or "You can't possibly want more kids!?" But...I sometimes want to scream, "MAYBE I DO!?" We aren't all built the same way. Some people know after one or two children they are "done." Other people are forced into being "done" through infertility or complications. Others have no problem raising 4-5-6 children and embracing the chaos that it is. I just don't know how I feel yet. I thought for sure I would know. I thought I would feel a sense of "completion" this time around, and I would be able to be at peace with this being the last one for us...but I am not ready to say that yet. I need him to be here first. I need to look into his eyes and see how I feel. Even with all the doctor's appointments that cause me worry and stress...and all the pills that make me feel yucky inside...and all the fear that this set of contractions could be the real thing.... I still find myself unable to say, "I'm done."

We take things one day at a time. Each week is a victory for my own mental health. 43% to go.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

project 365-2017, days 22-28


22/365

We enjoyed some donuts at our favorite place, Concannon's. 


23/365

Indiana got a rare couple days of "Spring" in the dead of Winter this week. Noelle loves to ride her scooter around our neighborhood, and she was having fun showing off these new kicks (she puts them on right after school each day).


24/365

Charlotte had fun playing in the box that the baby's new car seat came in. 


25/365

Is there anything cuter than bunny slippers on a two year old's feet? I didn't think so.


26/365

We say prayers every night. I happened to catch Shiloh in action.


27/365

It was 50 degrees at the beginning of the week. By the end, our deck had snow on it. Shiloh and I had fun watching the flakes fall. Indiana weather is so weird.


28/365

With the tease of Spring, the girls got really excited to be back on their swings. It was super cold this day, but Shiloh loved doing fun tricks with her Pop.



Sunday, January 22, 2017

project 365-2017, days 15-21

More of our daily life in daily photos.



15/365

I find her Beanie Boo collection a little creepy, especially when she lines them all up on her bed so they can stare at her while she sleeps. She loves them though. So much.


16/365

No school for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day meant that we had a Girls' Day. We started with manicures (by our favorite, Lilly) and then went to the movie theatre. Have you ever taken 3 children 6 and under to have their nails painted and to see a movie, alone? It's hard. We had fun, though.


17/365

Noelle was super excited to put together her 100 Days of School project. She chose to use 100 crayons. She of course had to arrange them in "rainbow order." I did the hot-gluing, but she pulled the little hot glue snot strings off. Teamwork.



18/365

We had our anatomy ultrasound. Baby is looking great (and definitely still a boy). Papa enjoyed this moment with Noelle, who already seems to be able to read ultrasounds really well. IU School of Medicine Class of 2036, here she comes!


19/365

Shiloh likes to play hide and seek under the big girls' bunk bed. Sometimes she has a little trouble getting out from under it. I love her face in this photo.


20/365

This is the face she makes when she knows I have the camera. 


21/365

This is how Noelle lets Papa pull her teeth (using dental floss). She now is missing both of her front teeth!




Saturday, January 21, 2017

the one about the tree house: bidding, demo, getting the loan

I promised I would try to keep an updated account of the house progress. Some weeks, there will be lots of progress. Other weeks, there will be nothing to report. This is truly a learning experience for us as we really don't know anything about this process, but we are forging ahead, and I wanted to share what has been happening so far.

In a nutshell, Luke and I are serving as our own general contractors. I say this loosely as we are getting a ton of help from not only our primary carpenter but also our architect and Luke's dad who also happens to be an architect. I could not be more impressed with Luke. The man watches tons of videos and reads articles and truly tries to gain as much knowledge about this process as he can...on top of his full-time job as a family physician and a father to three energetic girls and a husband to probably the most emotional pregnant lady who ever lived. My brain can only handle so much at once before I shut down and throw things, so for Luke to be handling a lot of this overwhelming stuff is a true gift to me.

Because we aren't working with one general contractor who can do all of the bidding and quoting and arranging subcontractors (electricians, plumbers, heating/cooling, etc) for us, we are the ones responsible for doing that. This is a job in and of itself. Distributing plans, talking on the phone, arranging meetings at the house, and following up with everyone is so time consuming. So far, the process has been decently smooth, and we are really close to having all of our bids in from the subcontractors. Again, this is an area that Luke and his dad have really handled because I can't imagine trying to tell an electrician what I need done in this house. Uhhh.... I just need lights? 

The process of acquiring bids from subcontractors has taken about 4-6 weeks. This part has taken longer than we were expecting, but the holidays were in the middle of that, which does slow things down a bit.

Along with the bids from subcontractors, we have had to think about how much we are going to spend on flooring, appliances, windows, doors (interior and exterior), bathrooms, and other hardware/finishes. While all of this sounds super fun to think about, when you are trying to pick what you would like in your forever home, it is very overwhelming. Nothing has to be 100% decided right now, but I don't want to estimate wrong and come up short with our financing. There's a big difference in price in the type of bathtubs you pick out and even the toilets you choose and what kind of faucets you want. We are trying to do our best to plug in realistic numbers and hope that we come as close as possible when we actually go to purchase these items.

Very soon, we plan to have things ready to give to the bank. We have been told it is a minimum 30 day process to get the loan secured. Since everything has taken longer than we had originally hoped, I will assume it will be more like 45 days. Regardless, our goal is to be able to really "get started" in March. As in, old house comes down and new house starts going up in March.

That seems really far away, but we are already halfway through January, so I don't think it actually is too far away. Until then, so that we can feel like some progress is being made, our carpenter has been getting everything out of the house that we will not need or use. The flooring has been scraped up. The walls in the basement have come down. Some things the former owner had left behind have been removed. We are going to reuse the kitchen cabinets by having them refinished or painted, so those have been taken out. The house already looks very different!




Kitchen: Before (excuse the dark photo)


Kitchen: After Step 1 of Demo (cabinets removed so we can refinish them, appliances & island removed)


Original Family Room: Before


Original Family Room: After Step 1 of Demo (flooring & trim removed)



Basement: Before (the basement was previously broken up into several smaller rooms with these plywood walls)


Basement: After Step 1 of Demo (all walls removed, all doors removed so we can *hopefully* refinish and reuse them, all flooring scraped)

One thing we never really took into account was how difficult it would be to make all of these decisions while being parents to three young girls who need our full attention. Have you ever tried taking children to a hardware store? Or a kitchen/bath showroom? Or a window store? It is truly a "special" experience. It is impossible to focus on anything or get anything accomplished when you have to have your head on a swivel at all times. So, we have tried to make the most of the time the girls are with their grandparents, but we also have had to rely heavily on babysitters. My rate for watching all 3 girls at once is $15 an hour, so that adds up quickly when most of these meetings and appointments last two and three hours at a time. We should probably add a babysitting allowance into our construction loan! It feels like just as great of an expense. I have found, however, that it is absolutely necessary for us to be without our children when we are making these important decisions.

A question I get a lot is, "So will you be in the new house before the baby comes?" The answer is abso-freaking-lutely not. Had our original contractor not bailed on us, it was a strong possibility that we would have been moved in before his arrival, but since we had to go back to the drawing board and have not even begun the true demo process yet, we will not be remotely close to living in the house when the baby comes. This wouldn't really be a problem if we weren't toying with the idea of selling our current house in the spring before the baby is born so that we don't have to pay double mortgage, electric, and gas bills for an entire year. Due to the inefficiency of the current home, the gas and electric bills are more expensive each month with no one living there than the gas and electric bills for our home that we actually live in. Over time, these expenses will add up and cut into our savings and the money we could be spending on things we actually need for the house.

So, where will we live if we decide to sell and move out before the baby comes early this summer? Well, one of our options is moving in with Luke's parents (who are a 22 second drive down the road from our new property). There are a lot of advantages to doing this, but I am certainly nervous about invading someone else's home with three small children and a fourth one due shortly after. Our other option is to stay in our current home as long as we can afford it and just hold tight until we can get it ready to sell. My nesting instinct has to be put on the back burner as I know I won't have a nursery to bring him home to, regardless of where we are living when he is born, which kind of takes a little of the fun out of finally having a boy.

I am nervous about all of the changes and transitions taking place in the weeks and months surrounding his birth, but I am truly trying to stick to my mantra of "one day at a time." I can't predict nor foresee the future. I have no idea how any of this will really go. I only pray that it brings our family closer together and that the overwhelming amount of changes taking place won't bring unnecessary stress to our children. It actually may be a good thing that I have the birth of a baby to distract me. I can see how this house might become all-consuming, and focusing on new life coming into the world might be the perfect way to keep it all in perspective.

I am an open book-- obviously. I am happy to answer any questions regarding what we have done so far with this project and what our plan is going forward. We have learned so much, and I am happy to help anyone else. Feel free to ask a question or provide advice!

Friday, January 20, 2017

the one about friday favorites 1.20.17

Confession: I actually had this 95% ready to post last Friday, but I got really distracted and had to walk away from it. Oops!

This is going to seem like an odd Friday Favorites round-up, but I am totally into scents right now and I could easily come up with five of my favorite things to smell (none of them being dirty diapers or the mildewy laundry I left in the washer for three extra days).

I have never really been a heavy perfume wearer, but I have had my favorites over the years. I have found, though, that I don't appreciate smelling everyone else's really strong perfumes or scents, and so I have been on the hunt for a fragrance that would smell good but not offend other people. In this post, I have my favorite solution!

I also love the smell of cleaning products...especially while pregnant (enter visual of pregnant lady smelling bleach and other cleaning agents with a weird smile on her face). I enjoy coming home to a clean smelling house. It makes me not feel like as much of a failure as a "housewife."

My nose is really sensitive to smells anyway, but when I am pregnant, my sense of smell heightens intensely. All of the scents I have collected in this post are, to me, very fresh, clean, and non-offensive to even the most sensitive of sniffers.

And so, I present to you, my five favorite scents...

one | two | three | four | five

1. You can't beat a good all-purpose cleaner, especially if it is one that isn't supposed to be harmful to to your children or your pets, either. I love the way this one in Lime + Sea Salt smells. You would think it would smell just like a margarita, which wouldn't be a bad scent necessarily, but it actually doesn't. It is mildly beachy and fresh with just a little hint of citrus. I use this on all my surfaces, especially after I have cleaned the dishes from dinner and want my stovetops and counters to be refreshed. Purchased at Target.

2. I discovered this shampoo many months ago. I don't know what compelled me to buy it. I told myself a long time ago that I was done buying expensive shampoos as I never noticed a difference in my hair when I used them (I'm sure my hair stylist friends are rolling their eyes). So, this one is only $5.99, but it is super safe for your hair (sulfate and paraben free). The company also gives one bar of soap to someone in need when purchase one of their products. They are hoping to reduce the number of bacterial-disease related deaths by helping people to have proper hygiene. Over 2/3 of their donations stay in the United States. It's a neat company, and I absolutely love the smell of the Argan Oil version. We use it on the girls, too, in place of baby/kids shampoo. It makes their hair smell so good! You can also find this at Target. :-)

3. And now...for something you can't find at Target.... Ambre Blends! This has become my go-to scent over the past 7-8 months or so. I'm thinking I was slow to the game because my sister in laws have been using these for a while, but when I rolled on this scent, I was hooked! Ambre Blends is a company based in Indianapolis, which I think is super cool. They are all natural oils that work with your body chemistry to create a unique scent. There are four main scents. My favorite is the one that comes in the tan vial! You have to try each of them and see what you like. You can also wear more than one at a time, too. I have never received compliments on a perfume I was wearing, but I always get compliments from perfect strangers when I wear my Ambre Blends. A waitress once took our order and then came back to ask me what scent I was wearing and where to find it. I like to pick mine up at one of my favorite local shops, Lois Pearl, but you can also order from the Ambre Blends site (given above).

4. This scent can only be understood if you have been to Disney World's Grand Floridian Resort. If you have, then you know that the lobby is one of the most heavenly-scented places...ever. It is very difficult to find a scent that imitates it as Disney has their own air freshener system with their own secret recipes, but this company, Columbia Fragrance Company, has nailed it! These are hand-poured candles that specialize in the Disney scents. You can find scents of the Polynesian hotel, the ride Soarin', and other smells that take you back to the "most magical place on Earth." The scent is called Walt's Wonderful World, but it is the classic green clover and aloe scent that the Grand Floridian Resort uses to hypnotize us. I bought the wax melts bar, and they were only $5 each (super reasonable). They limit you to 4 per order...I'm sure with good reason. I bet they sell out frequently.

5. Lastly (wow, I never thought I could write so much on what scents I like....), I love to use these Downy Unstopables scent boosters in my laundry. This is my favorite scent, but there are several. I used to make my own laundry detergent, but I never could get my laundry to smell fresh enough for me. So, I started adding these into the wash. Then, when I decided that I no longer wanted to make my own detergent (and my girls started getting stains on their clothes that needed the "real" stuff), I continued using the Unstopables because I was addicted. I love the smell of fresh laundry. I also love that these make my entire house smell clean. I like to stock up on these when Target does their "Buy two and get a $5 gift card" promo.

As you can tell, I am a fresh-citrus-clean scent person. I'm not overly into the pumpkin-cookie-vanilla-coffee cake smells, but I know those are popular this time of year. What are your favorite scents?