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?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

project 365-2017, days 8-14

Another week of 2017 has already passed. I struggle to get excited about photographing daily life right now as it all seems to look the same. We are inside a lot due to the weather (tons of rain, very little snow). We are making a lot of messes. My daily routines are not what anyone would find interesting, but I suppose that is what makes this a challenge-- finding the extraordinary in the ordinary and remembering the things we would have otherwise forgotten.


8/365

Noelle was having an amazing hair day after a bath and fresh detangling session (which can often be extremely painful...for both of us).


9/365

The older two were peacefully and happily playing together, and also wearing matching shirts...which I did not plan.


10/365

Our drain pipe for the washer was frozen for a few days, which meant no laundry (yay) but also lots of laundry to catch up on once it thawed (boo). First order of business was washing Shiloh's blankie. She was not happy. You can't see her face, but she's hysterically crying as she sees it tumbling in the dryer.


11/365

I honestly loathe Play Doh. However, my girls love it, and they do entertain themselves for long periods of time while playing with it. 


12/365

The big girls were having fun going through the clothes we have collected so far for the baby. They had fun holding each piece up and saying, "Isn't this the cutest!?"


13/365

All of our girls love to be tickled. It is part of our relaxation routine. Shiloh laid down and put her leg up on Luke's chest, which obviously meant she needed some tickles.


14/365

Shiloh was happily twirling in her Elsa dress (and clutching her orange sippy cup, too).

Saturday, January 7, 2017

project 365-2017, days 1-7

Two years ago, I started my first Project 365 challenge. The idea is you take one photo per day, each day of the year, for an entire year. I actually made it about 60-ish days into the challenge, and then for some reason I missed a day and then never started again. I was disappointed by this because I truly enjoyed photographing my family's daily life without worrying about tons of editing or making everything look perfect. I found beauty in really small, insignificant things, and I challenged myself as a photographer to make use of unideal situations like dimly lit rooms and unattractive backgrounds. It forced me to compose photos simply by changing my own position rather than directing my subjects.

So -- after not even attempting the project last year, I decided to give it another try in 2017. I already mentioned that this would be a big year for my family, and I just feel like I need to be documenting it...routinely and consistently...so I don't miss or forget a single thing.

I will collect my photos into weekly posts and share a few details about what was going on in each image. If you find yourself inspired and wanting to start your own Project 365 challenge, I urge you to do it! Don't worry about not starting on January 1. Your 365 days begin with the first click of the shutter.

And now for week one...


1/365

I'm not even halfway through with this pregnancy, and I can barely see my feet. This is not good, my friends.


2/365

I have always obsessed over my children sleeping. They have a way of redeeming themselves when they look this peaceful, don't they? Despite the day's challenges, laying eyes on my sleeping babies reminds me that they are perfect and I am not.


3/365

Charlotte is such a little mama. She always has been. She is a nurturer, a snuggle-bug, and a caretaker. 


4/365

First thing this morning, Noelle was reading in her bed. She is really into her chapter books and loves her reading light.


5/365

I'm just keeping it real. Pregnancy is not glamorous. Sorry.


6/365

I caught Shiloh doing the stick-the-raspberries-on-her-fingers trick at lunch and thought it was the cutest thing. 


7/365

While checking out the demo progress on the house, the girls decided to flop on the old carpet (yuck). Shiloh shot me this look.


Friday, January 6, 2017

the one about friday favorites 1.6.17

I have only written a handful of Friday Favorites posts, but I have always really enjoyed not only writing them but reading what other friends say are their own favorite things. I love sharing about a product or item that has changed my life. Some of my best purchases have come at the recommendations of close friends. Honestly, if you have something you love, and you don't tell a friend, I think that should be considered a crime! Ok, maybe that's a little extreme, but I'm sure you get my point.

So, I am starting the new year off with some new favorites. These favorites are all centered around the New Year theme -- which to me means organization, planning, health, and a fresh outlook to take on the months ahead.


one | two | three | four | five

1. I love a fresh planner. I love the blank pages and planning out the weeks and months. Our busy lives make staying organized-ish a must. I use my iPhone calendar quite a bit, but I still enjoy writing things out the old fashioned way. I have bought many planners throughout the years. I have even caved and bought the expensive yet awesome Erin Condren planners, twice...but....confession....I NEVER wrote in EITHER one because I was too afraid to mess them up. How STUPID is that? Like, stupid stupid. So, I decided that I would never spend that kind of money on a planner again. Instead, I opted for this much less expensive Target version. It's cute. It's functional. I'm not afraid of it.

2. When buying a new planner, you need new pens. It's just a thing. So, I always enjoy trying to find my next favorite pen. These fine point Sharpie pens are great because they actually do not bleed through. I have used them on the new planner, and I don't have any ink going through to the other side. I picked these up because I liked the colors. I try to color-code things according to the type of event and which person is participating. It makes life just a teensy bit simpler. I found these at...you guessed it...Target.

3. My new best friend is this Yeti cup I got for Christmas. It's probably my favorite and most practical gift. I love my drinks to be super cold, and this guy really does the job. This is the 30 ounce version. They make smaller and larger ones. I have been refilling it at least 3-4 times daily since I got it, which is nice because that means I am getting well over 100 ounces of water a day (far more than I was consuming pre-Yeti). I will even fill it up before bed, leave it on my nightstand at night for when I wake up at 3 a.m. in a dehydrated, cotton-mouthed panic (thanks, Pregnancy), and the water will still be cold. The Yeti isn't cheap, but I know that there are other cups that are similar and do a great job keeping your beverages at your desired temperature. Go getcha one.

4. I wrote about MantraBands last year. I love the three I purchased at the beginning of 2016, and I just added this new one to my collection. I love the simple, minimalistic reminder that I need to take it one day at a time. It will be so easy in this exciting year to lose my patience and worry about the future. I am really hoping this bracelet will keep me in check. They have dozens upon dozens of different mantras in silver, gold, and rose gold finishes. I just read through them all and found the one that took the weight off my chest. This was the winner.

5. We have used Hello Fresh since April. I love it. Each week, I get a box of all the ingredients to make 3 meals for my family. The produce is all fresh, the meat is well-sourced, and everything down to the teaspoon of spice I need is included. I only have to use my own olive oil, butter, salt, and pepper. I absolutely love this service. This takes so much stress away from meal planning all 7 nights a week. Knowing that we will have three unique, healthy, and flavorful meals gives me peace of mind when I sub in mini corn dogs, breakfast for dinner, nachos, and takeout for the other nights of the week. You can preview the meals ahead of time and make substitutions if you don't like the meals offered. You can also easily skip a week as much as you'd like. There are different plans to choose from to meet your budget, your diet, and your number of mouths to feed. The best part is that if you click the link above, you can save $40 off your first box (and give me a $20 credit - yahoo)! That's a pretty cheap way to try the program and see if you like it. We are hooked!

I would love to know what your New Year Favorites are! Don't be afraid to comment and give me another reason to head to Target...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

the one about the new year

I have four unfinished posts, saved as drafts. Started, stopped, unfinished...for either lack of time or lack of inspiration or both.

But today, I shall convert my thoughts into words and begin 2017 in this small corner of the Internet.

Few things excite me more than the dawn of a new year. I am a sucker for all the new displays in stores -- out with the old and in with the new. I get giddy when I see the big stock up sales at Target in the place where the Christmas trees stood just a week prior. I love the idea of ridding yourself of what is dragging you down, both figuratively and literally, as you embark on a new 365 day journey.

This time last year, I was pretty disappointed with how 2015 played out for me, and I wrote about it in this post. I allowed myself to get into an unhealthy funk that compromised both my mental and physical health.

I am pleased to say that I was able to stay above that funk for the most part in 2016. Of course, there were downs and times when I had relapses of self-doubt, self-pity, and unhealthy choices, but I think overall 2016 was a much more positive year for myself and my family.

What was the difference?

Well, saying goodbye to my part-time teaching position at the preschool was a difficult choice, but it has allowed me to be a little more balanced in other areas of my life. Even with only physically teaching 12-ish hours a week (I know...poor me), I still found myself frantically darting around the house in the morning, snapping at my children as I attempted to get myself and everyone else ready to walk out the door, all while lugging bags filled with pasta and food coloring and Kool-Aid and jingle bells and 7 picture books and some pipe cleaners for the day's lessons. As much as I enjoyed being with the students, I knew that I could not keep living in such a way.

I would say I gave my diet and exercise a little more thought and attention as well. I started the year very motivated and involved in some challenge groups that kept me going. I became hooked on the 21 Day Fix program, and I really did teach myself a new way to plan and prepare food. I felt so good and accomplished after working out. Somewhere around the middle of the year, I fell off the wellness wagon and never quite hoisted myself back on....but I still have all the tools I learned from those several months of giving a shit, and I do refer back to them every now and then.

I have grown leaps and bounds in my faith. I am a part of a mom's book group at our church that fulfills me in multiple ways. I have built new friendships with women who are in a similar place in life. I have learned that everyone struggles. Everyone questions. Everyone has so much to learn but also so much to give. My faith isn't tied to reciting scripture, knowing the Bible like the back of my hand, or even getting a lot out of Mass. My children are usually using me as a human jingle gym or asking for milk or pointing out "Jesus in a diaper" (loudly and for others to hear), so I rarely take anything away from Mass other than some frazzled nerves and a need to drink at 10:30 a.m. -- but I have found other ways to experience, grow, and deepen my faith, for this I am very grateful.

Lastly, I think the biggest difference between '15 and '16 was that I truly learned that I cannot change people. I have tried, and I can't. Some of my biggest moments of sadness have come when I have expected a person to do a certain thing or be a certain way, and the complete opposite actually happened. I can change a lot of things -- about myself, about my home, about my community...but I cannot change people simply because I want them to. Accepting this has made a world of difference in my life.

Now, here we are, a few days into the new year, and I am so excited about a couple things:

1. Our house project is actually looking like it is going to happen. After tons of setbacks, the biggest one being when our contractor dumped us after working with us for 8 months, we think we might actually have the right combination of people on board for us to make this dream a reality. We are very excited at the thought that we might be spending Christmas 2017 in our new home. We certainly know by now to keep our hopes low and our guard up, but things are looking better for us, finally. I cannot wait to document our process right here so that we can look back and reflect upon the experience and hopefully help others who are thinking of doing the same thing. We have already learned so much and will undoubtedly get schooled a ton more over the next year. I'm still shopping our HGTV show...



2. We are expecting a little BOY in early Summer 2017! After three beautiful girls, we will finally know what it is like to raise a son. I think Luke and I both share a healthy amount of fear and nervousness as we head into uncharted territory, but we couldn't be more thrilled that our family will take on a new dynamic. You can expect more updates about this pregnancy as we head into the gestational period that caused me so much grief with Shiloh. So far, so good. I am hopeful that this little boy will make a peaceful transition into this world and give all of us just what we need.



Luke and I watched To Joey, With Love last night. I couldn't get through the first 5 minutes before burying my head so far into my arms to stifle my intense sobbing. If you aren't familiar with the Joey and Rory Feek story, I suggest you familiarize yourself with it by reading Rory's blog. I came to know of them only after she was already terminally ill with cancer. I didn't listen to their music or know anything about them prior to stumbling upon Rory's blog one day as a result of Black Hole Facebooking (where you just click and click and click and click until you don't even know what day it is anymore). The movie is such a beautiful illustration of their love story, and her life story. I was so inspired by Joey's incredible faith and desire to keep a positive outlook despite the fact that she knew she was going to die. I cried throughout the entire 90 minutes, partially because I was sad for her and for her family... but also because I felt such guilt regarding my own outlook at times and how I can get overwhelmed by things that are so minor in the grand scheme of life. Watching this movie, though incredibly difficult knowing the ending, was a great way for me to reset myself as we head into a year that will be full of excitement but also full of challenges, setbacks, and chaos. I am so thankful for my patient, loving husband who supports me unconditionally through all of our ups and downs.

To living fuller, loving deeper, and taking it one day at a time.

Happy New Year.