November 21, 2013

Revival

I think I might start writing here again... maybe.

I stopped updating my blog because I felt like home improvement based posts were a little shallow. So maybe adding depth would help.

An update on our house:

In March, we found out we were going to have a new little baby joining our family. This and other events inspired us to take a break from major home improvement projects. Our upstairs bathrooms are now up to date and comfortable, with new pluming and flooring. We have decorated the majority of our downstairs space, and have effectively organized upstairs to the point that I no longer feel the need to hint (not so subtly) regarding paint or new carpet upstairs. Long story short, after renting and moving about once a year for the past decade, I am finally feeling like this would be a permanent place of residence. 

An update on our family:

I'm 37 weeks pregnant now, Clara is two, and Alen and I are preparing ourselves for the whirlwind of a new baby. I feel so much more prepared this time around. Even though I fully know the hardships that a new baby brings, I also know that all 'hard' phases pass. Night wakings go away, a schedule comes into play, and the joy of a larger family overwhelms the added responsibilities. Let's do it.

Alen has been extremely busy at work, making my job as a stay-at-home-mom much more defined and necessary. Two schedule-demanding jobs probably would not be working out so well at this point, and I'm happy that we are situated to take care of our family.

New possibilities are slowly peaking over the horizon. I have a feeling that there will be much more to talk about, and more to keep track of, adding a little depth to a story that originated with simple home improvement goals.

March 26, 2013

Holy Week in our Earthly House

At the beginning of each Lent, I for some reason feel rushed to make my Lenten commitments and sacrifices. One day I'll look at the calender and think, "hmmm, Lent is coming. I should be more prepared this year." And of course the next time I look at the calender I think, "LENT IS TOMORROW! DO I HAVE VEGETABLES?"

I think Holy Week is a chance to re-group and re-think the sacrifices/commitments of lent. After being reminded day after day that we are approaching Easter, I have no excuse anymore. It's time to give up another time-sucking activity (bye bye Pintrest), and introduce an enriching one in it's place (journaling, reading, meditating).

Our house adorned with the palms of last Sunday, and our hearts filled with thoughts of our King, let's take a step towards Easter; truly the happiest day of our Catholic year.

March 23, 2013

How to go to Lowes with a Toddler

Fixing up our home has taken many shopping trips. I'm sure an experienced home owner or contractor could do a bathroom renovation in one or two trips to Lowes, but we pride ourselves in making about 5 trips per project. Lowes, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond... you name it, we've been there... within the past week, toddler in tow of course.

My most recent adventure was curtian hardware. After some time researching, I found the curtian hardware of choice and headed over to the great BB&B.

We have a sliding glass door, as well as a standard size window. The sliding door required about 8ft worth of curtian rod, and the window about 4ft. Not a problem. Until you add in the all dictating factor of....

The Toddler!

I'm not sure what took more convincing: getting the 8ft curtian rod into a shopping cart, or getting the toddler into a shopping cart. I guess both were equally challenging, because they both made their way out quite quickly. I encouraged Clara to "help" me carry the rod, which meant she hugged the bottom of it while I tried to direct her to the front of the store. Many other items were much more interesting than a stupid long box, and I had to re-direct her back to our goal a few times. Thank goodness for helpful sales associates. I needed a second adult to get both my child and my purchase safely back into the cart to make our way out to the car.

In addition to beautifying windows, we are renovating one of our bathrooms: Dark purple flowers covered the vinyl flooring, mint green climbed up the walls, and accents of gold hardware completed the look. I appreciate romantic decoration, but this was veering way out of my comfort zone. New, creamy tile is being installed on the floor. The walls will be soft white. Gold framed shower doors are in the garage, and an undecided shower curtain will be replacing them. The gold hardware? Maybe it will look good? Or maybe it will be Craigs-listed for some neutral chrome instead. Yeah... I think that's the direction we are heading in.

Taking a toddler to purchase paint is much easier than curtian rods. Let your little buddy help you by holding paint chips and browsing thru paint flyers. Free paint sticks with the purchase of your paint make great drum sticks. Also, is your toddler fussing? Fellow shoppers probably won't even notice over the sounds of the hardware store. If all else fails, take them to the lamp aisle. The free light and fan show will probably entertain them for a few minutes. Hey, you might even find some cute new light fixtures for the bathroom while you're there.

March 11, 2013

Life at Home with the Little One

About a year ago, I decided to leave my amazing job to take care of our amazing little girl.

My maternity leave came to a close when our daughter was about 2 1/2 months old. When the day care organized was not meeting the needs of Clara, the best option was for me to leave my job to jump fully into raising our child. The transition was quite difficult, and I was challenged more than I thought possible... but with time, patients, support, and faith I think I have been able to get thru the change with at least a little grace. I am really thankful to know that I can handle the full responsibility of being with Clara all thru her day. It has been a great opportunity to learn how to manage a house and a child at the same time.

I think unemployed moms sometimes struggle with how to title themselves. I know that when I quit the questions of, "What will you do all day?" and "Won't you be bored?" caused me to be self-conscious that I no longer had a paying job. I did lots of research online, fining different, "Stay at Home" or "Full Time" mom blogs, explaining how they went about their day... cleaning, cooking, and organizing activities for themselves and their kids. Many of these blogs help with my transition and proved to me that I wasn't just keeping myself busy until my husband came home. I really have a job that matters. What I do during the day makes a huge difference to my husband and my daughter.

I also stumbled upon many debating or defensive articles regarding stay at home vs working moms. People from both sides defending what they do, the choices they make, and telling others what they should or should not think about the different scenarios. It seems like the self doubt of moms, coupled with the judgement of those looking in, has caused this weird rift in society.

Life at home with my little one has been (and still is) an adventure. Learning how to move at a child's pace, coming up with creative ways to organize time and money, taking day trips to the zoo while at the same time wondering if I am missing out on a paying job... this can all turn from joy to doubt and regret if I let others get to me, or let myself doubt my decisions.

I'm sure most moms (and dads BTW... I know you are the other half to this discussion) do what they think is truly best for their families. It is up to us as friends and extended members of the families to give encouragement and beneficial advice to couples who are making the most challenging decisions of their lives: How to best raise their children.

House Blessing

Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.
2 Samuel 7:29

We finally felt our house was 'together' enough to have some good friends over for the blessing of our house! One of our favorite people (... one of our favorite persons?) who happens also to be one of our favorite priests (confirmed me, baptized our first born, and now blessed our first home), came and officially made our living space Catholic. 

I think it is the best improvement we have made thus far.

 

February 28, 2013

To Each Their Own: The Death of the Green Monster

Decorating one's house requires both a sense of one's style, and objectivity towards the general public opinion.

When we moved into our house, a good portion of our living room was painted green. Dark forest green. One of our first projects was to kill the green wall, lovingly named the Green Monster. In order to make sure I do not offend any Red Sox fans, I would like to point out that the Green Monster was more intimidating than anything. Such a bold color must have been the result of much discussion. Anyways... it gotta go.

Two coats of primer/paint later, the Green Monster was almost destroyed... until we ran out of paint. A thin section of wall remained a drippy green for weeks... reminding us of the giant that once was. Tonight, I am proud to say the Green Monster has entirely disappeared. This gives me hope that we will soon tackle all of the other monsters in our increasingly beautified home.

Now, not to belittle the paint selections of the previous owners... because, as previously stated, it was a bold color. Much more bold than I would ever care to be. So to each their own. I hope that you are able to create or destroy your own Green Monster, exactly to your liking. 

February 24, 2013

Feeling at Home

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8

How long does it take to feel at home somewhere? I have moved almost every year since graduating from high school, and have adapted quickly and well to almost every place of residence. The last two moves have taken longer to adjust too, and I wonder why that is. Am I just getting older, and more set in my ways? Do I feel more pressure to work on our home and make it "homey?" The last two moves involved our little girl, and I'm almost sure that she has added some pressure to getting settled in.

Maybe it's the size of the house. Every move has been a little bigger. Well, starting with our first apartment, that is. The first few moves were from dorm room to dorm room... pretty much no space... to little space... to micro space...

Time to focus on the positives. Every time I feel a little (previous) home sick, I can look to the constants in my life... husband, child, God.. these things make a home. These things make homey. 

February 15, 2013

He that handles a matter wisely...

He that handles a matter wisely shall find good: and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.
Proverbs 16:20


So after a long period without internet... we are back online.

Moving with a toddler is quite the challenge. Thankfully she was able to spend time at Nana's house during the move-in, and is now just 'helping' with the unpacking. Boxes are dwindling, and I am dreaming of the day we are 100% done.

Prior to move in, we made an amazing list of all improvement projects we wanted to take on for our new home. First to take place: paint the entry/living room/dinning room, and refinish the kitchen cabinets. Not too much, right?

Well, it's lent, and I gave up complaining for lent. So.... yeah. This post will be shorter than usual.

I think the lesson learned with DIY home projects is that the project will always take longer than expected. Challenges will come up unexpectedly. Sometimes those challenges will be so big, the project might have to be restarted. Fortunately, it is our home, and there is not a deadline to have everything perfect. Upgrades can wait. The best part about taking on projects just a couple at a time is that it gives an opportunity to take a step back and re-prioritize. After seeing the magnitude of the projects we have started, I can say that other ones are not so important. Right now the most important thing is for us to relax and get back to normal.

Speaking of normal, it sounds great right now. We still have half our kitchen in the living room, but have a deadline of tomorrow to have it all put back together again. Refinishing the kitchen cabinets was one of those projects that just spiraled. In the end, we have accepted the results and have decided to take a break from them, put everything back together, and cook dinner. Our friends (that now live just across the street!) are coming over for a 'first dinner' on Sunday, and I couldn't be happier!

February 4, 2013

Pintrest: Best Friend / Worst Enemy.

From the moment we found our home (before we were approved for...anything...) I started to re-design via Pintrest. Before this moment, I didn't really understand the appeal of this social network. What I saw was girls posting pictures of food, and planning weddings before they had even been proposed to.

Let me tell you though, it is awesome for homey stuff.

Stacks and stacks of pictures with ideas and websites, all describing how I could make any home into a dream. Knowing that we don't have tens of thousands of dollars to spend, and also that we very much don't want to go into that sort of debt, I made it my mission to discover every possible way to breath inexpensive loveliness into a home.

I have succeeded!

You (or I, more specifically) can paint anything. Anything! And paint is the best way to liven up a residence without begging Mom and Dad for money. I now know how to paint cabinets, counter tops, door handles, walls, and decks. And fortunately, painting is one of my specialties when I have any free time and canvas.

Here is my loot.

Yes, I do have pictures of food... but home buying does require some comforting cookies and pancakes every once in a while. So eat up and enjoy.

January 30, 2013

Our First House


By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
  Proverbs 24:3-4


Wisdom. Is buying a home a wise decision?
Understanding. Do we really understand what we are doing?
Knowledge. Have we learned enough to do this successfully?

Egh, maybe.

Next month, we are signing papers and making our first home purchase official. We are buying a house!

This decision came with quite a bit of anguish. When we started looking at different properties, the love of our current apartment went up and down in response to the homes we were seeing. A great house made me loath our living space, while a smelly, dirty, small (etc) one made me love and cherish our beautiful little home. This roller coaster of emotions caused me to teeter back and fourth between wanting to move and wanting to stay put. Thankfully, my husband had our future in more of a stable ride and kept us going on one steady path.

As this is our first home... our first down payment with nothing behind us to sell... we tried our best to find a home that was practical, comfortable, and safe for myself, my husband, and our cute little toddler. Sorting thru trashed foreclosures, 1950's fixer-uppers, and sketch neighborhoods added more loops and twists into my ride than I was able to handle, until one day we spotted a listing for a an early 90s town home in a good neighborhood. Offer sent.

I am going to spare all the details of our escrow, but will open a window to show the difficulties of the first time home buyer. Convincing a bank that you are not a flight risk is next to impossible when starting out. That's all I'll say. Other than that, you may just know that we were approved.

And now, here we are on the other side of the dry-wall. Hoping and praying that we have made the right decision.

Here is the story of our first house.