Monday, November 5, 2012

Dream Houses

For multiple reasons (finances, family business issues, the presidential election, etc.), I have been inordinately stressed out lately.  To unwind and take my mind off pressing issues, I sometimes enjoy dream 'house-hunting'.  This weekend I found some real gorgeous options.... well, you know, if I had a couple mil in the bank.  

Feast your eyes on house number one - best kitchen in the Boise market by far:

 I love the office/pantry kitchen off shoot. 

And a butler's pantry to boot.

Check out this idyllic view!

This is the dressing room that connects the His and Hers walk in closets.

 OK, and my second swoon-worthy house love of the moment:

Separate Guest Quarters for Grammy's golden years. :)

The backyard is right on the Greenbelt and Boise River.

Ben wisely pointed out that what I actually love about this home is the furniture.

This kitchen makes me feel so happy inside.

After so much visual gluttony, I feel compelled to make the following note.  Some of the happiest times of my life have been while living in cramped, dingy apartments.  As a missionary, I'd often bunk with several other sisters in apartments with little to no aesthetic appeal, furnished with hand-me-down donations.  College life was joyous and exciting because of the relationships and experiences; the cinder block walls, limited storage, and dated furniture had little effect on my high contentment level.  While I enjoy the guilty pleasure of house dreaming from time to time, I try to also use it as a reminder that the best things in life aren't things.   A house is made a home by the people you reside with and the laughter and fun you share in it.

I hope everyone gets out and votes this election day.  I am excited to do so for the first time, and will try to practice deep breathing and think happy thoughts while we watch the election coverage.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sleeping Through the Night... Please?

I'm crazy for my daughter.  To me, she is the perfect baby.  She is so sweet and happy, and is mostly a joy to care for throughout the day.

Our one problem, my only complaint, is that she isn't sleeping through the night yet.  Nevermind that only 16% of babies regularly do at this age, I've also read the foolproof techniques of more experienced mothers, and numerous books and articles that assure me that my child is fully capable of sleeping a full night if only she had a parent that would do it right.  What 'it' is... well, there are numerous different theories.

It's so much easier when she does it on her own.  No complicated questions to ask when my brain is running at half capacity, just both of us waking up fresh and rejuvenated-who cares where we were slept?  For the last two nights I've enjoyed the luxury of being woken in the night only once, and to find her back asleep by the time I reached the nursery door.  Tonight, though, was different.  I laid in my warm bed and listened, hoping the plaintive cries would subside into sleep.  Instead, they grew shriller and more insistent, so I launched out of bed and did my zombie stumble through the cold hall into the toasty nursery. There was an empty bottle and a full diaper to be tackled, and the parenting advice began replaying in my head.  Don't turn on the light- how do you change a dirty diaper in the dark? Don't make eye contact.  I filled the bottle in the dark, then did the diaper/clothing change as quickly as I could to get the lights off again, then Little Miss was put back to sleep.  I was barely tucked in my own bed when the cries resumed.  Too much eye contact!  I took too long getting fresh jammies on her!

  Back in the nursery, I refill the bottle and settle her back in the crib.  I only make it halfway down the hall this time.  The crying starts again, and with it, the internal dialogue.  If I take her to my bed, we can both sleep in.  But what about friends who have warned from experience never to do that? I've read the books on 'the family bed'- it's natural and many societies keep kids in the bed for years.  But Dr. Laura firmly advises to kick that kid into their nursery to preserve your marriage.  Still, how good can my marriage be when I'm sleep-deprived and grumpy?  And she is only 8 months old.  So tiny and all she wants is to snuggle up in a warm bed with her Mommy.  If my little darling is best able to sleep when comforted by the proximity to give Daddy a series of kicks, or to reach out and yank a fist full of Mommy's hair, then who am I to banish her to a little caged bed all on her own?   

  I've halfway talked myself into bringing her to bed for the night when I see flashbacks of a particularly chilling episode of Super Nanny.  Two little girls, about 5 and 7, in and out of bed for hours with various demands late into the night.  I don't want to spoil her, if I take her to bed now I teach her she can have whatever she wants.  I'll just do like in Super Nanny- put her in the crib and then stand here by the door until she falls asleep.  I put her down gently with her bottle, and go to a place by the door where she can still see me, not making eye contact or any conversation. This is great, she is finally going to learn to sleep through the night.  I'll just slip out here when she is asleep.  She climbs up and stands, holding the railing like a tiny, pitiful prisoner, then begins crying.  No problem, minor set back. She's probably just testing me.  I'll put her down, she'll drift off and I can go back to sleep.  She's back standing and wailing within seconds and my resolve to stay up all night 'training' her is gone.  I scoop her up and head to my bedroom in a blaze of defiance.  I tuck her up next to her Dad with swift movements, just daring him to say anything.  She kicks and begins commencing with hair pulling and babbling.  Then I notice rays of light working their way through tightly closed blinds- "What time is it?"

"7:30. I'm late for work."

Turns out she did sleep through the night.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Best Buddies

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

College Savings Calculator

This year, Ben and I are starting a business, Ideal Lending, LLC.  We have been funneling all our resources into it, saving only up to his company's match in our retirement fund.  I hadn't even started to think about college for Cadence.  I guess since BYU was so inexpensive for us, I hoped it would always be that way.  I just ran the numbers on MSN Money's College Savings Calculator and while BYU will still be relatively inexpensive, we have to start saving as soon as possible.  It looks like college will be $50k for the 4 years, so that has us investing $1254/year for the next 18 years.  

Anyone else started thinking about meeting rising college prices?  What is the damage for your local school tuition in 18 years?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

First Furniture Re-do

After emailing him the Craigslist listing, Ben picked up this little table on his way home from work.  We learned a valuable lesson not to purchase furniture without both of us seeing it.  The table looked nice in the pictures, but in person it was pretty banged up and reeked of smoke.  The seats were covered in an awful printed vinyl meant to look like tan tooled leather.  We listed it back on Craigslist, but couldn’t find anyone willing to take it for anything near the price we’d paid.

First to go were the nasty seat covers.  We replaced them with an indoor/outdoor print from  It has a great weight and will hopefully last through the wear and tear of life with a small family. 

I put on two coats of Zinsser Cover Stain primer.  Then I put on another coat, for good measure.  I didn’t sand before or after or at any point during the re-do because I didn’t want to get too complicated with my first project and sanding scares me.   There are a few drip marks, nothing too noticeable, and brush strokes were reduced with the addition of Floetrol.  

After priming, I painted 4-5 thin coats of Valspar white semi-gloss.  I used the untinted gallon I’d purchased to paint all our trim.  I like the bright, happy white and the money saved.  We finished off the painted area with some coats of Polycrylic.  The table top got a rub down of Restor-a-Finish.  

The smoke smell is gone, and we love the end result!

Friday, July 6, 2012


Last night, I was perusing some beautiful home tours on blogs, in search of "inspiration" for my own home.  There was a blip in internet connectivity, during which I started to think.  What if I took half the time I do reading blogs and ogling Pinterest, and put it into working on my own projects?  What if I took another 10% and put it toward building photography skills?  Another 10% on writing my own blog posts?  Maybe the remaining 30% could go toward earning money for future projects (I have an online job I've been woefully neglecting).

So, for the month of July, I'm declaring independence from my Pinterest addiction and from my obsession with other people's perfect homes.  Instead, I'll be working on my home, developing my creativity, and building skills. 

To kick things off, I'm enrolling in a few of the online Alt Design Summit courses.  Bing is running a promotion where you can attend up to 4 courses free in July.  I'm looking at DSLR 101, Setting up Online, Blogging 101, and maybe the Photoshop class.  There are lots of intriguing course options, which normally cost $15 a piece.  If you are looking for some personal enrichment this month, check it out.  Thanks to Bing for the great opportunity.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Birth Story

Four months ago, I became a Mommy.  I will always remember how I felt when I saw 'Pregnant' appear on the test stick, and the sense of awe when we watched our little baby on the ultrasound monitor and the technician proclaimed "It's a girl!".  Yet even with little baby kicking away at my insides, it was all surreal until the day she was born.  The night she was born I stayed up to write out the details, but I haven't felt up to revisiting the labor until now.

January 28 was the due date, and as the weeks grew closer we got more and more excited to meet our baby!   Every day I woke up and wondered, "Is today the day?!"  We got tickets off Groupon to a cage fighting event for her due date.  I thought that would make a pretty fun setting for going into labor, so I would tempt fate.  Alas, no baby.  We did pick a name, though.  After months of heated debate, Ben concedes on Cadence as a first name, and chooses Kay for the middle.  He wanted to make it just the letter K, but I put my foot down. :)  The next day, the 29th, after weeks of reading labor jump starting tips on the birth board, I decide to try castor oil.  

At 11:20 AM I took just a spoonful mixed in some juice.  The general report is that it is nasty, but I gulped it down and followed it with a snack so it wasn't too bad.  The contractions started right away, irregular and fairly spaced apart.  Within an hour they are ever 3 to 4 minutes- not painful, just uncomfortable.  I consulted over the phone with experienced moms who said the contractions sounded like Braxton Hicks.  Drat!  I hopped in the shower to see if they would stop.

After my shower, I went downstairs and sat on the couch with my laptop to browse the blogs.  At 7:30 PM, I feel a very painful contraction, hear a big pop, then feel a gush of liquid.  Jumping up right away, I waddle as fast a pregnant lady can to the tile floor, screaming for Ben to bring a towel (it was a new couch!).  Ben loves Starcraft and is usually in his own world until whatever match he is playing is complete, but this time he quits the game mid-match, and runs into the room, jumping around like a maniac, yelling "We're having a baby, we're having a baby!"  Around this time, I realize I probably should have finished packing my hospital bag BEFORE taking castor oil.  Everyone says that you have a lot of time once labor starts, but not so in my case.  Contractions were coming regular and painful, but in between gushes of fluid, we pack our bags, send Percy off to the neighbors, and Ben paints my toenails.   The pain gets to be pretty bad, so Ben finally convinced me we really needed to leave.  

At 8:30 we arrive at St. Alphonsus.  It is a slow night so we are taken right to a room and gotten all checked in.  Cervix is only at 1.5 dilation, but since water broke we are admitted.  The contractions are getting more and more intense, so the nurse gets the jacuzzi set up.  Whoever said that was nature's epidural lied.  When the nurse checks on us 30 minutes later, I am in a lot of pain and suffering from back labor and feeling like my hips are going to explode.  The nurses have already explained that I need to be at 5 cm to have an epidural, so I ask if there is a pre-epidural painkiller solution and am assured there is.  

We head back to the room, I'm now dilated to 3.  I am given Statol, which I am later told is not to reduce pain but to make me loopy.  Well, it worked.  I'm still in a lot of pain every contraction, but now the room is spinning.  Worthless!  This made me grumpy, but the nurse later said I was very pleasant in-between contractions.

12 am- Epidural arrives! Sweet salvation!  Sitting up through 3 contractions while she places it, and then the following 15 minutes of contractions it takes to set in was NOT pleasant, but so worth it.  It was a light dose, so I can still feel some pain and tons of pressure during contractions, enough that they keep me awake.  This is not pleasant, but I do get some rest.  Midwife arrives to check me- at a 5!  She compliments me on moving so smoothly and efficiently through labor.

They continue to check and every hour progress has been made.  At 3 AM, they wake up Ben because it is time to push.  He insists on watching and is given a leg to help.  This makes me uncomfortable, but eventually I get the hang of pushing.  I wasn't too happy b/c I felt I was mostly flat on my back.  I had pictured using gravity to assist since I was told this hospital has special beds for that purpose.  I keep asking to for the bed to be tilted more, but the midwife lets me know the bed was where she wanted it.  I had also read that you should gently push and breathe the baby down.  The midwife notices this immediately, and tells me that it was a bunch of hooey and I need to push with all I had.

Pushing continues with plenty of encouragement "She has a LOT of hair!"  "Just a few more and she'll be out!"
After about 30 minutes of pushing, at 3:30 am. the head was almost out.  Crowning was painful, even with the epidural, but not as unbearable as the contractions were without medication.  It lasted two contractions, which the midwife used to stretch and apply lots of olive oil.  Finally, baby girl was pushed into the world, then another push for her shoulders.  She was brought up to me and I had no idea what to do with the squirming tiny mess!  But I loved seeing that head of hair and hearing her first cries.  

We had planned on an hour of skin to skin to start out with, but I was actually feeling quite overwhelmed with the whole unreal process, so when a nurse asked if she could take her weight, etc, I let her.  They moved her to the warmer on the side of the room, Ben staying with baby while the midwife sewed up a slight tear on momma.  I watched my baby from across the room and it seemed like eternity until she was back in my arms.  She weighed in at 7 lbs 5 oz, 19'' long, perfect in every way.  I held her and wasn't sure what to think.  I was so exhausted and she was a little stranger and had the grumpiest look on her little face.  Around 4:30 am, we were moved to our recovery room, and on the wheelchair ride over she fell asleep.  Looking at her little sleepy relaxed face and double chin is when I fell in love and it began to be real.  She is breastfeeding like a champ, and sometime during the night her face lost it's grumpy-to-be-born face and now she is our little angel. 

A lot didn't go according to the birth plan and careful research I'd done, which I felt disappointed about directly after labor. However, everything worked out wonderfully and the end result feels miraculous and now the memories of pain and any disappointment have been swallowed up in awe and love for our little Cadence Kay.