Archive | February, 2014

Our house is under contract!

25 Feb

Our house is under contract! It was only on the market for a day before we received a full-price offer. We accepted the offer with a 30-day closing and right now, are in the midst of inspection items and a looming appraisal. If all goes well, our closing date is March 20, and we give possession on March 22.

I can’t believe it’s actually happening!

I finally told my boss and co-workers that I’m moving to Minnesota. Most of them were not surprised. Hmmm… guess I’m not that good at keeping secrets. But they were all happy for me, and sad to see me go. Our departure is definitely bittersweet.

Since my mommy brain is mush, and I won’t remember this stuff next month, let alone a year or more from now (I’ve probably already forgotten stuff!), here’s what we did to our house to get it ready to sell:

  • Packed up and filled a storage unit with about 75% of our stuff
  • Repainted our kitchen cabinet doors
  • Removed all closet doors and treated with Liquid Gold
  • Replaced all family pictures with landscape scenes
  • Puttyed, sanded, spackled and painted the office ceiling, and spots in the hallway, kitchen, master bedroom and laundry room
  • Scraped, washed and painted the exterior soffit and fascia
  • Hung small piece of wood between roof and fascia for new gutters to be installed
  • Had new gutters installed
  • Painted:
    • The hallway and one wall in the living room
    • Both bathrooms. Twice. (FYI, pastels are not in.)
    • Two walls of the master bedroom (We used a color that we had a full gallon of, but no idea why or who bought it)
    • Half of the laundry room (Half was semi-gloss, half was flat – we have no idea how that happened)
    • The laundry room doors and trim
    • The bench in front of our house
    • The china cabinet in our kitchen
    • The master bathroom vanity
  • Finished the windowsill in the master bathroom and added a piece of white trim above the tile
  • Replaced the front exterior light fixture and house numbers to be more modern
  • Had the carpet replaced (which involved removing everything not attached or contained within a piece of furniture – including our closet organizers, pictures on the walls, bed headboard, file drawers, and low closet shelves – and then putting it all back; we hired them to move the furniture itself)
  • Replaced the toilet seat in the main bathroom
  • Spent 3 whole days deep-cleaning our house with a toothbrush and bleach (I actually took work off to clean our house.)
  • Bought new throw pillows for bed and rug for kitchen
  • Bought new nightstands to replace our crappy makeshift ones: a nightstand we rescued from the curb, and a garden table

This is what happens when you leave many house projects only half finished. And totally slack on cleaning.

And that list doesn’t include all of the ‘re-dos’ we had. Our house project mantra was, “Two steps forward, One step back.” For example, when staining the windowsill in the master bathroom, Travis taped off the vanity. When he removed said tape, part of the fake wood veneer came with it. So we had to remove the vanity and paint it. After painting said vanity, we tried to hang it back up. Somehow, we didn’t get one of screws in the right place and it literally busted out a 3-inch chunk of sheet rock. The vanity is now held up with 3 screws instead of 4. In the midst of that debacle, we scraped some of the new paint off the vanity. OMG!!!!

Another instance: Travis and his dad redid our main bathroom last February. In the course of that project, Travis repainted the door trim. We didn’t even know it was possible but that extra coat of paint made the bathroom door no longer shut. So Travis pounded on the trim, busting it loose from the wall. After a few finish nails, the trim was anchored and the door shut, but now the trim and surrounding wall needed to be painted. Again.

Those were the worst things, but there were other little ones like having to repaint a piece of baseboard that was now uncovered by shorter carpet. Or touch up trim in the hallway that had had paint seep on it from underneath the painter’s tape when we painted the walls. Or another one of my favorites, having to repaint the kitchen drawers because someone dripped red wine all down them, and it wouldn’t come off without removing the paint along with it.

But it was all worth it to have our house sell so fast. It was really helpful to have a Realtor with an eye for decorating and staging.

The buyers are a young couple buying their first home. I like to imagine that they’re newlyweds and just starting out like Travis and I were when we bought this house, our first home. I hope they build lots of memories in it – that they host barbecues on the deck in back; play horseshoes and narrowly miss hitting the neighbor’s shed; climb up on the roof to watch the Carnation Festival fireworks; get their hands dirty doing landscaping and gardening; have fun decorating the inside; rock out in the garage while working on their cars; spend cozy winter days on the couch watching the snow come down thick; run hundreds of miles on the neighborhood greenway; walk to Dairy Queen on summer evenings; and so much more. I love this house. And even though it has been a bugger at times (ripping windows out with sawzalls and having the heavens open while half the house is sans shingles), I will always remember it. Actually, those bugger things are some of the best memories.

Now that I’m crying, here are the pictures posted with our listing. (If you’re interested in what the house looked like before, click here.)

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Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.

– Arnold Bennett

Uprooting Bitterness in Marriage

18 Feb

Last weekend, my Facebook feed was full of Valentine’s Day stories. Flowers, candlelight dinners, surprise gifts, you name it. I didn’t post mine: sitting in bed with a second glass of wine, chocolate and my iPad playing My First Home episodes on Netflix. Alone. Somehow, a few months ago, I had agreed to Travis playing in a pond hockey tournament up in the mountains that weekend. Happy Valentine’s Day!

I was very tempted to be bitter. Bitter that Travis was doing something fun while I stayed home to care for our dogs and baby. Bitter that I had to take care of getting our house ready for showing by myself. Bitter that I had to spend Valentine’s Day alone.

Turns out, I’m a ‘glass half empty’ kind of gal. Poor Travis has to deal with me getting hung up on everything that’s wrong, needs fixing, isn’t what I wanted in our marriage. I do it in my relationship with God, in my marriage, in my self. Bitterness starts off as jealousy or hurt feelings or unfulfilled desires. The seed gets planted there. Then it grows and morphs and starts taking over. My female brain is able to keep a running tally of every way that Travis fails and disappoints, and use it against him. Everything he does is added to a mental tally sheet with 2 columns: ‘He Did It Right’ and ‘He Did It Wrong.’

DSC02446June 2008 (a little over a year of being married)

Bitterness threatened to destroy our marriage for the first several years. The tough thing about bitterness is that it’s sneaky. It’s no coincidence that the Bible talks about the root of bitterness ‘springing up’ – it isn’t there, and then it is. And once you get going down that trail, it’s hard to get off. Because you feel so justified in being angry. Just like God asks Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry…?” and Jonah retorts, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” Oh, how that is my heart so often!

Obviously, my struggle with bitterness is ongoing. Having a baby has added a whole new dimension to it. In marriage, and now in parenthood, it is so easy to keep a running tally of Who’s Done What, and Who’s Done More. But as I’ve discovered over and over again, that kind of tally helps no one. In fact, it is the breeding ground of bitterness, and it will destroy a marriage if not guarded against.

wpid-20130518_175951.jpgOur 6-Year Anniversary – May 19, 2013

So here’s what I have to remind myself of in the midst of the struggle against bitterness, specifically in marriage. Hopefully it’s helpful:

1) Find your fulfillment in God. As Christians, we have a beautiful hope in the gospel. We know that there is One who understands us perfectly. There is One who is able to satisfy every need and desire – Jesus. We also know that our Savior is committed to changing us, and to bringing about His glory and our good in our lives. He will not leave us alone, or things as they are. He is working His redemptive story out. He wants your marriage to be whole and healthy. So even when it feels like things have been the same forever, and you can’t see how they will ever get better, hold on. Continue pursuing God and a heart of obedience.

2) Be thankful. Bitterness comes out of a heart that feels like it has been slighted, overlooked or neglected. But God has given abundant blessings to everyone, including me and you. Search diligently for them. Speak thanksgiving out loud for them. They may be small. They may seem insignificant and trivial compared to what is ‘wrong’. But thanksgiving replaces bitterness. Similarly…

3) Focus on the positives. Bitterness seeks out situations and problems to justify itself, and add fuel to the fire. Everything is seen through that lens, and drowns out any positives of the situation. With Travis, I had to let go of all the things I was holding in my “He Did It Wrong” hand, and start intentionally focusing on the things that I love about him and the things he does ‘right’. At first, I could only come up with a couple. But as time went on, I was able to see more and more. I have to keep bringing myself back to those things whenever I’m tempted to be bitter at him for something.

4) Be honest. Bitterness points a finger. It does not acknowledge its own blame. It took me over 5 years in my marriage to realize that I was bitter at Travis about something that I was the main culprit in. I’m certain that I would still not be aware of that had God not shown it to me, but it took that honest revelation of my own guilt for me to get over the bitterness that I felt in that area. What’s more, after I got over the bitterness and admitted how I was helping to cause the situation, I felt freed to work on bettering the situation with what I could control.

5) Communicate. So often, my bitterness has come from assuming that Travis did or didn’t do something intentionally, with certain motives or for a certain reason. If you’re going to assume, give the other person the benefit of the doubt. If you can’t do that, don’t assume! If you want them to do something for you, ask them to. If they didn’t do something you expected them to, calmly ask why not. If you were upset by something, explain why. Even if you think that a situation shouldn’t need an explanation, or that they should ‘just know’, communicate. Travis and I are finding out as parents that it’s better to over-communicate, than under-communicate. But with the caveat that it’s best to communicate when you can do so without yelling or cursing. 😉

6) Focus on serving. Bitterness ultimately comes from being focused on myself. My needs, my desires, what I’m getting or not getting. But when I focus on making Travis happy instead of waiting for or expecting him to make me happy, it’s a win-win. I actually make myself happy by making him happy. It’s not always easy to lay down my own agenda, and I’m not the best at thinking about Travis’ needs over mine, but when I do, I’m always glad I did.

So at the end of the day, I’m glad that Travis got to play hockey. He loves it and I want him to be able to do the things he loves. I’m also glad that he bought me a massage for Valentine’s Day because I am so using that this weekend!


“Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)

The History of My Heart

13 Feb

It’s Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. And seeing as how I was born with one, I thought I’d share my story for the sake of awareness. 😉 Thanks to my mom for helping me get the facts straight.

It started when I was 6 months old. I got double pneumonia and one of my lungs collapsed, so I had to be hospitalized. About a year later, I got pneumonia again. During that time, my family had temporarily relocated to Endicott, New York, for my dad’s job with IBM. During my post-recovery checkup, my doctor there noticed that my heart didn’t sound right, so he recommended that my mom get me checked out after we returned to Rochester, Minnesota.

Almost immediately after returning to Rochester, when I was about 2, my parents took me in for an EKG. They discovered that I had an atrial septal defect.

Asd-webAs my parents explained it to me growing up, I had a hole in my heart, so the blood flowed where it shouldn’t. My lungs were ‘squishy’ with extra fluid, which is why I kept getting pnuemonia.

There was a chance, though, that the hole would close itself. So my parents waited to see if it would. But by the time I turned 4, it still hadn’t so they decided to move forward with the surgery. Open heart surgery.

The year was 1987. AIDS was getting a lot of attention (and fear) in America. The doctors told my parents that they couldn’t guarantee that the blood transfusions they’d give me during surgery would be HIV free. My parents were not having that, so they both got tested and my mom’s blood was the closer match. The doctors thought they could probably find a closer match from the blood bank, but my mom’s was close enough.

Now the only problem was that the blood bank wasn’t set up for someone to donate for another specific person. You could donate blood for yourself, or for other people in general, but it took a lot of negotiating with the blood bank and surgeon to convince them to let my mom donate blood for me. Finally, they allowed it, and over the course of a couple months, my mom donated 5 units of blood.

The day of surgery arrived. Since I was so young, I don’t remember a ton. I remember playing in a play room with other young patients before my surgery. And I remember waking up with a breathing tube down my throat. That’s about it.

So here’s what my mom remembers:

I arrived at the hospital the night before and my mom stayed with me. She was most worried about me having to get a breathing tube put in. I was brave though, and waved as I was wheeled into surgery, not on a bed but in a little red wagon.

The doctors had planned to cut me open straight up and down, but my mom requested that they not. So instead, they cut me horizontally from the middle of my chest across to under my right arm. I have a scar there, and 2 more on my stomach – one on the side, one on the upper front – from tubes.

During surgery, the doctors stopped my heart to close the hole. That’s amazing to me.

I was in the hospital for 5 days. I recovered very quickly, and was up and running around in no time. I didn’t complain much about the stitches.

I’m lucky that my heart defect was fixed by surgery, and that I lived in a time and place to have access to modern medicine. I have not had any side effects or issues with my heart or health since then. Though I do like to joke that maybe that’s why I’m such a slow runner…

My mom actually had a congenital heart disorder too. Hers was a Patent Ductus Arteriosus. She had surgery when she was 5 in the year 1958. It was the first kind of heart surgery doctors were able to perform successfully. She stayed in the hospital for 10 days.

Approximately 9 in 1,000 babies are born with a congenital heart defect. At Emma’s last doctor appointment, they observed that she has an innocent heart murmur. They said it’s nothing to be concerned about, and most kids outgrow theirs, but it’s definitely something I’m going to keep an eye on, given my history. I can’t imagine going through with Emma what my parents went through with me!

Anyway, that’s my story!

Emma Grace: 10 Months

7 Feb

I’ve been pretty MIA on this blog lately because getting our house ready to sell has taken over our lives! Poor Emma has had to entertain herself many hours (with supervision of course) while we pack, clean, paint, fix and decorate.

20140127_085413 20140127_085232Finally, this week I took pity on her and we did some fun stuff – we went to the zoo on Monday and to the pool today for the first time! She really enjoyed it – but I forgot my phone so no pictures. *fail*

So Miss Emma is 10 months old today! Here’s what she’s up to:


Emma is wearing almost all 12-month clothing now, though a few of her longer 9-month things still fit. She’s still wearing size 3 diapers, but I bought some 4s to see if they fit better. And that’s all I know since she doesn’t go back to the doctor until 12 months.


Emma got one new tooth this month – looking at her, it’s the one to the left of her 2 big teeth on top. It’s just a mini me! I think she might be in the process of getting a few more too, but we’ll see. We started giving her Motrin instead of Tylenol for the teething pain because our pediatrician said that Motrin lasts longer and isn’t hard on the liver like Tylenol is. We also put a little teething gel on the sore spots if she needs it. It’s not recommended due to swallowing issues, but I just nurse Emma afterward and figure if she’s fine then, she’ll be fine later.

Even though I’m not ready to wean Emma, I think I’m going to have to. After every feeding now, I offer her a bottle and she always drinks at least 4 oz. A normal feeding is 6 oz so she’s obviously not getting very much from me. And if I’m having to deal with bottles anyway, I might as well just go all in. The price and hassle won’t be that much more than it is now. But I’ve also thought about holding out because it brings her so much comfort at night – and since we’re moving soon, it might be nice to have that tool in my arsenal. Such a hard decision!

IMG_5364 (Large)Last month, I mentioned starting to give Emma more finger and table foods, which we’ve done. She’s had broccoli, taco-seasoned ground antelope, cottage cheese, pancake, quesadilla, pineapple, clementine and toast with jelly. She enjoys feeding herself but I tell ya, making her food is a lot more work than feeding purees. Emma has eaten all of the purees I made during that massive cooking day and I don’t want to make more since she’s supposed to be transitioning to table food anyway. But with everything we have going on, I finally broke down and bought a bunch of organic purees to send with Emma to daycare so that the guess work was taken out. If we’re still here when Emma is close to a year, I’ll probably ask our babysitter to feed her lunch for a little extra money.

That being said, Emma nurses/drinks a bottle 4 times a day, still nurses once at night and eats 3 meals of solid foods – usually a fruit/veggie and a protein.

IMG_5374 (Large)Sleep

Emma’s sleep has gotten back to normal since the craziness that went down over Christmas. But she still wakes up once a night, usually after sleeping 6-7 hours straight. I haven’t really tried to wean her off that since I’ve been nursing and need that feeding for my meager milk supply. If we do wean, I’ll probably try harder to get her to sleep through the night.

I’ll admit that I don’t hold out very long on Emma’s crying anymore if she’s really upset. For a while, it was because she was sick and teething and I didn’t want to make her suffer by herself. But now, it’s just because I can’t handle her screaming. That maybe is why she still cries before almost every nap and bedtime. Or maybe that’s just the way Emma is. Anyone else had experience with that?

Overall though, I can’t complain about Emma’s sleeping habits. She still wakes up between 5:30 and 6:30, takes 2 naps (after 3 hours of awake time), and goes to bed anywhere between 6 and 8 – if we try to put her to bed sooner than 3.5 hours after her last nap, she’s just wild! She won’t take a bottle and just wants to roll around. When that happens, I put her in her crib with her music projector thing and let her do her thing until she’s ready to fall asleep. Then I feed her and put her back down.


Emma still isn’t officially crawling, but she has definitely learned how to get around with a mixture of scooting backward and rolling. Almost every time I go in and get her when she wakes up, she’s on her hands and knees. She wants to crawl so badly! She can also get from sitting to crawling, and back again.  She’s pulled herself up a couple times, but it’s definitely not a normal occurrence. 

Emma has never really been content to just sit, but now she doesn’t even like being held for very long! She wants to be where she can roll around. She’s also started throwing tantrums when getting put in her carseat (though it really depends on her mood). 

IMG_5371 (Large)Emma loves the music activity table we got for her at Christmas, and I enjoy it too because it has 3 language settings – English, Spanish and French. So I’ve been learning numbers and colors in French. Un, Duex, Trois, Quatre, Cing. So fun! I majored in Spanish in college, so that has been more just review for me.

Emma is starting to get the hang of drinking out of a sippy cup – though only when laying down. She still doesn’t get the concept of tipping it up to drink while sitting.

A fun thing to do with Emma is hold her in front of a mirror. She understands it’s her, so she’ll lean forward and put her nose on the mirror over and over again, to see her reflection do the same thing. It’s adorable!

Also this month, Emma got dressed up to cheer on the Broncos in the Super Bowl. We won’t talk about the actual game.

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