Home Improvement (Remodel Update)

Our house projects have been underway officially for over a month now, and updates here have been slow because progress has been a bit of the same. That’s partially because of the holidays, partially because of life, and partially because I don’t think these kind of projects ever go quite as one would hope in terms of time or cost.

Fortunately we’ve reached the point with the basement side of things that most of the potential “issues” have been uncovered. Don’t worry; I’ll go knock on wood now that I’ve made such a braggy boast, but with the bathroom and laundry room and floor plumbing and electrical all roughed in now, we’ve been able to see what is and is not OK down there.

Unfortunately, down there has shown us that some things up here (i.e. on the main floor) fall into the NOT OK category.

As it happens when you go poking around in an older home, taking down the ceiling in the basement showed pretty quickly that our main floor bathroom was struggling. Actually, just the shower, really, but that’s kind of a big deal. The grout we’ve tried to patch with in recent years just wasn’t enough to seal (literally) the deal, nor could it deny the fact that there was definitely a leak there for a while.

So, a new shower led us (*ahem* let the record show: it was my husband’s idea first) to decide to put in a double sink vanity in the main floor bath while everything in the basement is still open. The toilet started leaking, too (because, why not?), and the flooring has clearly taken a beating over the years, so when it is all said and done we are getting a 90% new main floor bathroom in addition to the previously planned projects.

Ooof.

BUT, this is good to discover now because who wants to spend all that money on new construction downstairs only to have the upstairs mess it all up anyway? There’s no need for us to suddenly have two showers in the basement, if you catch my drift.

img_2816It looks hopeful that we’ll have walls by next week which means we can move on to flooring and installments of all the things in both of the “new” rooms downstairs there soon. That’s good, because then all that main floor bathroom stuff is going to arrive, and so are the kitchen cupboards, because yes, that’s been part of the plan all along, too. And while I have some choice, choice words to say about that process already (many of them are colorful and contain four letters) if you ever want to hear them in person, I know that eventually we are going to have turned this house into SUCH a functional space for our not-so-little family.

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Four Words

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you the last time I did a New Year’s resolution. Maybe if I went back on the blog and looked I would see, but as good as my memory can tell me, it has been a while.

2019 will be no different. No resolution, no promises.

What I have instead, rattling around my brain, are words. Shocking, yes?

For a few weeks now, I’ve been wanting to make a list of words to use when I meditate, when I practice yoga, when I cook, when I’m driving the kids to school, whenever I am doing whatever I happen to be doing…words to guide and ground and remind me.

So today seemed like a good day to make that list and narrow it down because, another shocking revelation, I can get extra wordy sometimes and I wanted my list to be short enough to be able to remember but long enough to still mean something.

I settled on four. Four words that I’ll use as long as I need into this calendar year to keep me coming back to home base, back to self love, back to center.

They are as follows: nurture, focus, dedicate, calm.

These are the words I desire to fill my heart and my mind with in the coming days and weeks (maybe months) as we step back into work and school and life following this long winter break.

I want to remember that I nurture myself when I take time to honor what I need in any given day. I also give greatly and am happy to do so when I nurture others.

I want to stay focused on both the present moment and future goals. Juxtaposition? You bet. But that’s life. Focus works both ways; it keeps us grounded in what is happening here and now AND it keeps us working toward where we want to be, what we want to accomplish.

I want to stay dedicated. To those goals, to my self, to my practices. We’ve got a lot of moving parts happening around here in early 2019 and if I don’t stick with the things that keep me sane, it won’t be a pretty sight. I’m also kicking off the year with a 30 day Yoga fest with Yoga with Adriene online called Dedicate, so the stars aligned on that one.

And lastly, calm. It’s what I’ve been seeking forever it seems, and perhaps I always will. That doesn’t mean I’m doing this life stuff wrong, it just means I can still get spun up in the details and think myself into circles, so calm is the ultimate goal. The navigation of all the ups, downs, and around and arounds.

So there you have it. Four simple words. Four lofty goals. Four important reminders. Four ways to move with intention into all that this new year holds.

Happy New Year, friends. I wish you all the best with your words, whatever they may be! (side note: some of my words were inspired by the stones in a new mala that was recently gifted to me. inspiration is everywhere.)

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Captain Distraction

Lately I have been noticing some habits, some tendencies of mine, that are in need of checking. Please consider this the check.

Like so many, I live with my phone in my pocket, my hand, or on a nearby surface. Because I stream music from it (a LOT), I almost always hear the few little chimes and dings for messages which means I pick up/look at my phone a LOT in a given day. More often than not, these little check-ins turn in to little scroll sessions, mostly on FB, thanks to the power of the little red notification dot. And lately I’ve been feeling ickier and ickier about the pull this has on me.

I am too distracted by the dots. Too drawn away like I have zero attention span to read a comment or see what’s new since the last time I checked. I don’t mind that my kids see me on my phone; it’s that I don’t think my habits are especially helpful for my own self right now; rather, they warrant a change.

So I did a thing and deleted FB off my phone.

It is ridiculous how twitchy I’ve been about it all.

Of course this doesn’t mean I’ll never touch it again (it being both my phone and FB); there are still messages to keep up with and I’m still on my computer every day for work, so I can get my FB fix there; but at least during the awake hours of my kids, I won’t get sucked in to so many little checks of it. Which again, is as much for my own sanity as anything.

I love social media and all the power and potential it holds for connection; what needs to change for me, for now, though is the power it holds over my focus and my scroll-happy hands.

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25 Things

Another year, another round up list of all the ins and outs, the bigs and smalls of the past 12 months. Never easy to compile, but I always love the end result.

  1. Traveled to Washington D.C. on 36 hour notice to lobby for the first time ever as sexual assault survivor, fighting against the SCOTUS nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. It was one of the most intimidating roller coasters I have ever been on, but I am proud and honored to have done the work of speaking out and standing up for myself and all others impacted by sexual violence.
  2. Said “goodbye” to my two remaining grandparents, Cliff and Gert. Although 89 years makes for a remarkably long life, I still wasn’t prepared to see either of them go. Same for Ben’s grandma, Louise, who also passed this year.
  3. Made it to the One Year mark of breastfeeding with Baby No.5. All five made it at least twelve months and WA is still going!
  4. Did 30 minutes of yoga every day for five straight months, even with a mostly broken toe.
  5. Mostly broke one of my toes.
  6. Became the (mostly) sole source of holding of Wilson Ann for five months, too, who turned Velcro-lite mid-summer(she could be put down at home as long as extra people weren’t in the house and she’d also go to Ben). She’s better-ish now.
  7. Took the plunge and got my “mother’s tattoo” of five flowers for five babies on my left forearm. Love. It. 0F6D15AB-8867-456D-9140-C877720236E4
  8. Began teaching online for Bellevue University – one class in the fall term and two in the current, winter term.
  9. Taught a three-week (three credit hour) summer lecture for CCC.
  10. Took myself (and some of my best girls) to see Nahko in Nebraska – TWICE!
  11. Took my three oldest babies to their first ever “rock show” – OK Go doing their Live Video Tour at the gorgeous Holland Center in Omaha. I loved it as much as they did (and now my kids will forever have a warped perception of concerts because they all got to go on stage for the encore to dance/jump with the band!)
  12. Read 71+ books. One of them was just shy of 1,000 pages.
  13. Joined a THIRD book club (to read the 1,000 pagers)! LOL
  14. Wrote 47+ blog posts.
  15. Sent my fourth baby off to his first day of preschool.
  16. Kept Grounded Sky alive via Prenatal Yoga classes taught throughout the year.
  17. Survived a whole semester of the morning routine of in-out-in-out-in-out that is our to school, to speech, to preschool, to home run with just me and all five children.
  18. Committed to staying in this house by coming up with projects that could be done here instead of continuing the house hunt.
  19. CHOPPED OFF ALL MY HAIR. Funny that it took me this far in the list to remember it; I must finally be over the trauma of it all! LOL! Donating 9″ and 12″ chunks was amazing and while the general public loved the cut, I am much, much happier with the below the ear length style I’ve managed to reach since the initial cut in January.
  20. Learned how much I love Golden Milk Lattes. So much so that I had to learn how to make them myself!
  21. Picked up an almost (week)nightly routine of watching The Rachel Maddow Show with Ben. Rarely do we miss one.
  22. Started using blue light blocking glasses when I am on the computer/my phone for extended periods of time. I think they help my eyes (and brain) feel less frantic by the end of the day, and they seem more effective than just the “night” setting on my phone/dimming my screen.
  23. Started a house plant collection. I am ending 2018 with three. Here’s hoping I can say at least the same (or better) by the end of 2019!
  24. Made four trips to SoDak. Before children, that wouldn’t have been an impressive number, but in recent years, one or two trips a year was usually it. Two of those were to Yankton, one to Pierre, and one to the Black Hills. That’s big travel for us, and some of it included vacation moments, but it was all, unfortunately, funeral related.
  25. Learned to drink black coffee. JUST KIDDING. That may never happen, but I’m completely out of ideas, so we’ll chuck this one on here as a goal-ish for the future. 😉

Cheers and here’s to all the big and small in your lives as well!

Be Here

Seven years ago this coming January, we moved in to our second home. Our current home. We have loved it in that time. Since the spring of 2017, however, when I found out I was pregnant with Baby No.5, we started flirting with the idea of a new-to-us house. Something with a different layout, perhaps, more kitchen space, and definitely an attached garage.

For over a year we looked, off and on, at homes and could not find anything in our price range that would outdo our current house. Oh, we put a few low ball offers in on larger homes around town but none of them panned out, and since that unicorn house that met all the requirements needed to go through the hassle of selling/moving/upping our mortgage never materialized, we decided to once again revisit the idea of what we could with do with some work in our current space.

The answer turned out to be: A LOT.

It took a couple tries and a few months of thinking time to land on the idea, but we eventually came to the conclusion that we could take the room that sold us on this house seven years ago and make it work for us in a whole new, multifaceted way.

Here it is: img_2482

Pretty, right? 😉

But for real, this bonus space in the basement (that quickly became a playroom for our kids after we moved in) is what made our eyes pop the first time we looked at this house. It’s a representation of just how much space the basement does have (there is also a full-size family room down there, a store room, and an unfinished laundry room and a couple closets); we just needed to get creative after a plumbing roadblock presented itself last spring to make it all work. Instead of just finishing the basement laundry room, we discovered that we could turn this beige box into a full sized bathroom AND laundry room, and take the unfinished old laundry room and turn it into a non-conforming bedroom/play room. And yes, trust me – this was the cheaper alternative thanks to the old plumbing in our old house. 🙂

And so the dominoes are starting to line up for this one-after-another project series beginning THIS WEEK!

I realize that we are plunging headfirst into A Thing by taking this on right now, but the work (and money) that will be poured into this home are equal to how much character and love it holds, too. We couldn’t find a different house for us because this is the house for us. Now we just get to take some of the bones of it and make them a little more (read: a ton more) functional for our growing family.

No, I won’t end up with my garage attached to my house when we’re all said and done, but we ARE going to move heaven and earth (just windows and walls, actually) as best we can (not we; a contractor!) so we can continue to live and love and be HERE for years and years to come.

 

ONEderful Wilson

I have been fully anticipating this first birthday of the last baby to be surrounded by ALL the feels. It probably still will be. But here, on the eve of the eve of her turning one, that also happens to be just before Thanksgiving, I find that what I feel most right now is grateful.

The last year has flown by, as they seem to do faster and faster as we age. It has also been a flurry of activity with a house and heart (and van and calendar) full of beautiful children, so it is really no surprise that I blinked and now my baby is turning one. The time warp began, I suppose, during her first three weeks of life at the NICU, when it felt like we lived an entire lifetime on another planet in those 22 days, but now, all these months later, I have finally gained an ounce of perspective and can see it for the blip that so many friends reassured me it would eventually be.

Oh, I am still going to cry on Wilson’s first birthday. Don’t you worry about that. But instead of reliving the trauma and stress of those first, hard weeks, I think the waterworks will be based more in gratitude that we got to survive them and come home with a healthy baby who has made it to the year mark and now has glorious words like “typical” ascribed to her.

Of course to us, she is everything, and I can’t imagine our family without her. I think it is safe to say the rest of the children agree, as they all take such joy in being around her. I mean, she’s clearly been LT’s favorite person in the whole universe since the very beginning, and lately Truman has started calling her “my baby” in conversation, so good luck to those two in figuring out who is her No.1 fan (it’s Lincoln). Raegan loves on her baby sister all the time and has the best-ever baby-talking-to-voice that cracks me up when I hear it because that must be how we coo at WA all the time. And HD has a stellar theory that he’d love to share with you sometime about how babies make everyone happier (he’s not wrong), because Wilson does indeed brighten every day with her snuggles, smiles, and silly sounds.

Many of those snuggles still come directly on my right hip where she still mostly clings when out in public or around non-immediate family. But she also loves to crawl really fast all over our house and she super loves when I get down on the floor with her so she can crawl up, bump into me, spin around, and flop back against my torso in order to lounge belly-up and check out the world (no wonder we’ve started calling her “Puppy” – we totally need to stop doing that, though!). And just like she did in her first three weeks, Wilson has used this entire year to show us that we really don’t know all that much about babies because she has time and time and time again proved that she’s going to do her own thing, in her own way, in her own time.

So here is who Wilson is at One:

She is the baby of head butting and thumb sucking. She clears the entire shelf of board books in less than 10 seconds and then sits in the pile of books playing with them (apple, tree, *ahem*). She wears PJs pretty much 24/7 because she has to be in and out of the van eleventy-billion times each day to get the Bigs to their various schools and footies work better than socks to keep her feet warm. She pulls up next to furniture and is currently flirting with the idea of standing up from her little chair/the middle of nowhere (look out world!). She empties kitchen drawers like a boss and she speed crawls to be next to my speaker so she can sway and bounce and clap to the music I have playing throughout the day (yes, she loves Nahko. I mean, c’mon!). She tucks her head into my shoulder when people try to talk to her and when I sing her a lullaby before naps/bed. She has more hair/curls than any of our others at this age (even Baby HD). She pulls a head-tilt-and-smile charm move that you would swear we taught her but I swear we did not (unless Truman did; that seems plausible).

Even though I will probably spend the next few days reliving the early days of her life to some extent, I plan to stay grounded in the present as much as possible because to be at this incredible milestone with this incredible baby is such a blessing. I give thanks for her every time I get to snuggle her (so, a lot of time each day) and I will continue to do so for all our days.

She is (almost) one. She is full of wonder. She is wonderful. She is, forever, Wonder Wilson.

Longest Winter Ever??

We’ve had hard months before, no doubt (April, I’m looking at you). There have been some periods in our parenting where everything felt like a lot, and maybe a bit too much. But I don’t know that we have ever had six+ weeks of one after another illnesses that have left us with little more than a 48 hour window in which maybe all seven of us were feeling OK-ish.

Friends, I don’t know how I am going to do it if this trend that started the first week of October continues all winter. Because as you may know, we aren’t even TO winter yet, so holy moly cow. Please, please, please don’t let our fall be any indication of what is to come when actual cold and flu season arrives.

Our baby is one week away from being a year old and yet Ben and I both still feel like we are in Newborn Sleep Dep Mode. Trying to sleep with coughing and feverish kids one after the next, but rarely at the same time sick, has been exhausting on a whole new level. I told my mom last night that I felt like I’d been run over by a bus (this was after surviving an illness-induced meltdown with the 5yo for 15 minutes in the waiting room at the orthodontist because I had no choice but to be there solo with all five children) which is before the same child then had us up in the middle of the night and then sleeping lightly (read: crapily – what that’s not a word?) the rest of the night wondering what would come next. So maybe today feels more like being hit by a train than a bus?

img_2256Of course this is the day (night) B has conferences at school and RL has visitation at dance which I now have to bag out on because I have to stay home with her sick brother, so clearly the feeling of being plowed over isn’t just the physical exertion, it’s also the mental strain of being constantly worried about if you are doing enough to take care of one child (or more) while knowing you are also letting down another one (or more).

Normally there’s a “so what” to my posts, so chalk it up to my tired brain or my tired spirit, but I’m not sure I have a point in writing this beyond saying: This is hard. Of course we can do hard things, but This. Is. HARD. And it feels forever-happening at this point. So maybe that part will change and everything will feel a little less intense? Goodness, that would be nice.