Thursday, August 29, 2013

24 Weeks!

I think the last two weeks have gone by just a little bit faster than usual, which is a welcome change to the snail's pace that time has been creeping along at for the last couple months. We are getting so much done around the house but there is so much more to do, we for sure have our work cut out for us! This weekend I am going to Texas to see my sister and her family, and hopefully a little trip away will also help time go by faster. Not that I'm anxious for December to hurry up and get here or anything.

How far along? 24 weeks! (and 1 day)

How big is baby? Approx 12" long, and 1.3lb

Total weight gain/loss: -16. (142) Wooo hooo, I am up 2 lbs again. Hopefully I can hang onto it this time.

Maternity clothes? Still wearing normal clothes but jeans are getting more and more uncomfortable and do not button over my belly anymore. My shirts are fine though, I tend to buy long shirts due to the fact I have a long torso in the first place, so I think a lot of them will actually continue to work for a while. I haven't actually gained any inches anywhere but my belly, so everything fits elsewhere still.

Sleep: I've had insomnia a few nights this past week, and mornings have gotten more difficult to embrace again. I think it has a lot more to do with all the projects than it does pregnancy though. I find the more stressed I am the harder sleep is, and with as much as we have going on with house renovations I think it's safe to say sleep will be a struggle again for a while.

Best moment the last two weeks: I had an appointment with my midwife last Tuesday. It was probably the best pregnancy-related moment of the last two weeks because I left with such an overwhelming sense of security that I cried happy tears all the way home. Jon was unable to go to this appointment, so it was just she and I, and we talked about a lot of different things and thoughts that might be effecting me and my decisions on a deeper level than we had in appointments before. It was a good appointment, and I just know with no doubts we are on the track we need to be on.

Movement: Every day, and it makes me happy. Some of the movements are so strong they borderline on uncomfortable, but I will so take it!

Food cravings: Banana bread, which my mom made for me on Sunday and they were every bit as delicious as I knew they would be all week. Also, peaches always sound good, always. I don't know that it's a craving, but I'm sure enjoying them!

Food Aversions: Slowly getting over my leafy green aversion, which is a good thing! 

Gender: Boy. <3

Pregnancy Symptoms: I'm going to be completely honest and uncensored here because I hate it when people pretend things are peachy and everything is fabulous when it's not. No matter HOW excited I am to be pregnant (and I am very, very excited btw) there are just certain things that come along with pregnancy that while completely worth it, are not in any way fun. I wanted to be "that person" that just loves every moment of it, but I'm not. Some things just can't be embraced and enjoyed. Not unless you're crazy, much crazier than I am.
 My back hurts constantly, every single day. It's like my tailbone is being crushed and pulled towards my bellybutton.
I also have on again off again hemorrhoids (which I've NEVER had in my entire life. I didn't even know what the heck was going on at first, and called my mom, from the toilet, in tears, asking what in the world to do. What a miserable problem.) which occasionally make life a miserable burning Hell. Anyone who embraces crapping flames has a few screws loose.
No matter WHAT I eat, I'm nauseous after, even if I felt fine before eating, Not just a little nauseous, but curl-up-on-the-couch and be completely useless nauseous for about an hour. Cucumber and watermelon seem to be the ONLY exceptions.
Oh, and gas. Being up all night with gas pains last night was a joke. Missing sleep over farts is so unfair.
Other than all that, I really do feel pretty good! I'm not miserable all the time, and I absolutely *love* my belly. I'm able to be productive during the day and though by about 5pm I'm tired, it's after actually working all day and I think it is reasonable to be tired by then.

Belly Button in or out? In

What I miss: Nothing.

What I am looking forward to: Third trimester!

Upcoming appointments/events: Next appointment is September 19, if I remember correctly. I need to double check!

Milestones: So far: made it through first trimester, had first (and second) ultrasound, and discovered gender, and felt movement, Jon has felt movement from outside, belly popped finally, anatomy scan (went well), being able to see movement, point of viability passed.

Bump Picture: I've been really bad at keeping up with this, but I promise coming soon....

Monday, August 26, 2013

Progress and Lessons Learned

We have been busy, busy, busy the last two weeks working our way through our first BIG projects in this whole house-to-home mission we are on. There's just so much to do, and I know we are probably biting off more than we can chew right now but we are so motivated to just make this place our HOME finally, after two and a half years of living here. The list seems to be getting longer rather than shorter, though.
It all started with Chase's room. The previous owners had knocked down a wall to make the living room bigger. I never really liked the shape of the living room, it was kind of awkwardly long and made furniture placement kind of difficult to do without just completely ignoring certain areas. Combined with the fact that the second upstairs bedrooms has really terribly drafty windows, we ultimately decided it made sense to put that wall back up. It solved a couple issues I had with the house, and was still more cost-effective than tackling our window situation right now.

But new walls need to be painted.
And if we're going to paint THAT wall, we should just paint... all the walls.
And if we're going to paint ALL the walls, we need new window treatments
And while we're at it, the kitchen needs gutted.
And if we are redoing the kitchen floor, we might as well redo ALL the upstairs floors.
And if we're redoing ALL the upstairs floors, we might as well redo downstairs, too.

Somehow, our whole house is pretty much getting a face lift. It's overwhelming sometimes. (OK, all the time. A few hormonal sobbing "we-can't-do-this" breakdowns have possibly taken place.)
Jon has worked every single night until at least 10pm on building this shed for our back yard. It. Is. Massive. I need to get pictures of it, and I will when it's all done. It's almost there. It's 8x12 feet, but it's tall as heck. If you ever need to store a skyscraper, we've got you covered. Giraffes, maybe? I'm really proud of him though. No, like I am REALLY damn proud. He's never built anything like that before, had no idea what he was doing when he started, didn't even have the tools that any plans called for, but you know what? He tackled that project, and step by step figured it out and kept working along on it, slowly but surely, until it's done. Mitch and Jared came to the rescue yesterday to help him throw the walls on the frame because they were too heavy for him (or anyone...) to lift alone, and too heavy for it to be reasonable for me to help him with. We're super super thankful for the help- we're really trying NOT to turn our house projects into work for other people and just trucking along ourselves figuring all this out, but that was physically impossible for one man.

I painted Chase's room first, then made curtains for the windows. Now, I am not a seamstress by any means but I figured "how hard could a rectangle possibly be?" It wasn't THAT hard, but the window in that room is also really small, so the curtains themselves aren't all that big... they're like 50x36. I lined them in orange, and I actually really kinda like them.
They are officially the first thing I've ever sewn start to finish. Any other sewing project I've ever attempted has been a disaster where halfway though whatever I'm working on is going so terribly I get annoyed with it and throw it away, swearing off sewing forever. It's just not my thing. It's tedious, time consuming, and I have no use for an iron in my life. I actually didn't even own one or have any need to own one until Jon's mom came to visit once and needed one so she bought one to leave at our house. Otherwise, I wouldn't even have one... so glad that happened!
Since that little mini project went so well, I decided it would be somehow reasonable to make curtains for the living room as well. I mean, I had proven I could sew, right? Plus, I was having a really hard time finding window treatments I actually liked. Everything was just the wrong shade, or didn't embody the warm homey feel I'm going for for that area of the house. But, I did find a fabric at Wal Mart of all places (I hate Wal Mart and rarely ever go there, terrible place) and that pretty much settled it. I was making curtains. And it was going to be easy, right? Hah. Joke was on me.
So, let's get one thing straight. I'm impatient, I get frustrated very easily, and I tend to run hot. In short, it really doesn't take THAT much to tick me off. I'm also a perfectionist and tend to have high expectations of myself and get really annoyed when I let myself down. So yeah, totally a good idea to take on a massive project in a skill I've never really developed or used before with zero direction or help... right?
Everything I read about making curtains said I MUST line them. I didn't know how I felt about this because the fabric was already thick and heavy and I'm a little worried they will end up blocking too much light and making the room too dark, but I also don't want my curtains to get sun rot and fall apart and die after I dedicated two miserable weeks of my life slaving over them. I lined each set (there are three) in a different coordinating color, partly because Wal Mart didn't have enough of any of them to do them all the same, and now it's easy to tell which panel goes to which window. I'm so crafty.
The first step was ironing all of the materials. Have you ever ironed twenty three yards of fabric? Have you ever actually seen twenty three yards of fabric in one place before? IT'S A JOKE! I quickly realized I was in over my head and that this was the worst idea I had ever had, ever. I also learned that I hate ironing and would rather cut off my toes one by one, so Jon better never get a job that he has to dress all nice and ironed like. Screw ironing.
 I also quickly realized that while my little curtains for Chase's little window weren't all that difficult, making one little 50x 36 curtain was a whole lot different than making several 110x 100 curtains. This was a whole new ballgame, and I really sucked at it. My whole downstairs living room was a mess of fabric, some ironed some not, all laid out, draped everywhere, as I worked away at it every. single. day.
 Now, a week later, all that's left to do is hang them up and pin the bottom edges so they are even, and sew those up. I just need Jon to be done with his shed so he can do that. Then I'm making cornice boxes for all the windows! I apparently didn't learn my lesson on crafty projects, and though I've tried my best to channel my inner Martha Stewart, mine is clearly still in prison because I'm just not that good at all this domestic stuff. I think my domestic skills end at crock potting, and mopping. And, considering the awful shape my house is in after being neglected for a week and a half while I was in the basement pretending to know how to sew, I'd say I'm even failing at the mopping part. I can't wait for this project to just be DONE. Like, officially and completely done.
I know all this work will be worth it. I'm already super proud of Jon, and I know that when we can sit back and enjoy our space and know that we did what we had to to make it our own on our modest budget, we will feel satisfied. I also know the color of the curtains, or layout of the kitchen isn't what makes a house a home, but to me it's about being in surroundings that evoke a sense of comfort that I want. I just want to feel like this is our home, because we made it that way. Right now, there's very little personal touch, and that's what I want to change. Plus, I feel like tackling a lot of tis ourselves has been good for Jon and I. We both kind of bit off more than we could chew initially, and took on projects beyond our skill level, and had to figure it out. We relied on each other and ourselves, and ultimately made it happen and I feel we are better because of it. Sure, there have been better-looking curtains made by more experienced seamstresses (like... one that's actually sewn or ironed before in their lives) and there are better-looking sheds to be found, but we did it. We accomplished what we set out to do, and we made it happen.
I'm not posting pictures of any of the finished projects until it's all put together. It's a surprise! I think when everything is all done, we might have a little dinner party to show all the changes we've made. I'd also be really interested in having an appraisal done to determine the value because even after spending what we will on the renovations, we are still coming out WELL below what it appraised for last time. Not that it really matters, we aren't moving for a long, long time.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The 5 Types of "Dog People"

I was thinking today... well, moreso yesterday.... about why it is that there is so much tension and bad energy in the dog community and I narrowed it down to the main culprit being the fact that most dog enthusiasts fit into very different types of "dog people."

The Typical Dog Owner
The typical dog owner loves their dog. They may or may not be interested in other people's dogs. They generally don't think much about the nitty gritty of breeding ethics, vaccines, dog sporting, nutrition, etc. As long as their dog appears to be healthy and happy, they're happy. Their own dogs may be indoor or outdoor dogs, and the typical dog owner generally does not put the family pet on the pedestal other "dog people" might. They generally feed cheap dog food because they don't know better and have never thought about it before. The typical dog owner doesn't really understand all that much about training and as a result their dogs usually have at least one really annoying habit. Rarely will you ever find a typical dog owner at any kind of dog show or participating on any kind of dog forum. They HAVE a dog, their dog is not their entire life, and that's OK.

The Well-Meaning, but Often Misguided
This person DOES think about things like nutrition, vaccines, and ethics, but tends to  take their vet's word as absolute scripture. They will usually do whatever the vet tells them to because they love their dogs to bits and have no idea that the $70 bag of food their vet recommended is actually junk. This person's pets will almost always be completely up to date with routine vaccines, heart worm prevention, flea and tick topical, and annual blood work and exams, and their dogs are generally spayed and neutered by that magic 6 months old mark- actions this well-intended owner feels are a true testament to their undying love for their pooches. This person can be found on dog forums telling those who stray from their vet's recommendations are irresponsible... after all their vet went to school to learn this stuff! Their dogs are often pampered, rarely outdoor dogs, and live pretty plush lives for the most part.

The I Just Really Love My Dogs
This person wants what's best for their dogs in all aspects of life. They generally put a lot of effort into training, learning about proper nutrition, and spend a great deal of time with their dogs. They generally view their dogs as family members and not "just pets." They're likely to talk about their dogs too much to people who really don't care. This person likely feeds a premium high quality commercial food, or a home prepared diet of some sort. They may or may not have interest in dog sporting, but can often be found at expos, shows, and any dog-related events. They care about breeding ethics and are usually well-educated on training techniques. Their dogs are very rarely "outdoor dogs" and their lifestyles are usually fairly dog-centered. This person generally still can be a functional member of society. While they put a great deal of thought and effort into the care of their own dogs, and often enjoy educating others, this person isn't generally obsessed with making sure every pet owner in the world "sees the light" and does things exactly as they do. They are often times passionate about dogs, but dogs are not their WHOLE life. They may be semi-active on internet forums, but generally get over them in time.

The Know It All
This person knows everything about everything. They know 1238014 show breeders, they have spoken with 3834723 of the top nutritionists, they know what all the sporting dogs eat because they know 23482347 people involved with all forms of dog sporting. If they feed commercial foods, they know the nutritional breakdown of 32472349 different brands. If they feed raw, they are absolute sticklers on those marrow and knuckle bones, and would never even consider feeding wild caught salmon from the PNW without freezing it first! They tend to be argumentative and can often times be found on forums rubbing everyone else the wrong way. This person generally does put thought into things like nutrition and ethics, but they love scientific studies and proof. Their dogs may be indoor or outdoor dogs, they are generally well-cared for and well-loved.

The Elitist 
No one will ever be good enough pet owners for the elitist, whose dogs are their WHOLE entire lives. Everything they do and every decision they make revolves around their dogs. To please this person, you must not just feed raw, you must feed only local, organic grass fed meat to your dogs, even if it means feeding yourselves and your children ramen. The family dog is not just on the same level as the human members, but often times are above that. They expect pet owners to make whatever lifestyle changes necessary to provide only the absolute best for their pets, or they don't even deserve to have them in the first place. To them, examples of terrible pet owners are: anyone who crates more than 3-4 hours at a time, anyone who does not feed the diet they've deemed ideal, anyone who has acquired a pet from a place they deem unacceptable, anyone who has ever left a dog in the backyard without direct supervision, anyone who feeds commercial food or -heaven forbid- grocery store meats, and whatever other requirements they've conjured. This person generally spends a LOT of time on internet forums worrying about what everyone else is doing. Their dogs are pampered, well-cared for, and live good lives- even if it means at the expense of the people in the home. They feel most people are unfit animal owners. This person generally feels it is their duty to make everyone "see the light" and will accept no reason to not do what they think is best. They rarely can accept that other people may not be able to make raw work, and view these people as lazy or undedicated dog owners. They are VERY concerned about what everyone else is doing, and much of their conversation is gossip. This person is great at making themselves feel good and others inadequate. They jump to the defense when called out on their passive aggressive bullying and generally play the victim. This is not a normal functioning member of society, this is a dog-obsessed whack job in most cases.

With nearly all dog people fitting into one of these categories, it's bound to turn ugly at some point. I can honestly say that this year I swore off dog forums, and my life has been SO. MUCH. HAPPIER since. Jon and I are on the fence on if we will ever have another litter- not because we aren't passionate about it, but because it's been really nice to just be removed from all the drama and ridiculousness that is the dog community. Dogs are my passion, and ALWAYS have been- for as long as I can remember... we will always love and adore our pack. We've made some good friends in this online community, friendships that mean more to me than words can tell. Through forum participation and puppy placement, we've met some amazing folks. I don't miss the judgy, negative tension that will always exist on forums, though. Not even a little bit. The amount of negative feelings people harbor for long periods of time over people they've never met- people who will never in any way impact their lives in any way- it's sad, really. No. My life is too otherwise full to ever go back to being a forum-goer. I like it better this way. <3
So, if you've been wondering what we've been doing since we "disappeared" from the forums... we've been enjoying life. Real life. The one that exists off the computer screen.

Monday, August 19, 2013

It Makes My Heart Hurt. :-(

I've had a couple discussions today that have me thinking about some things that we as a society have deemed acceptable, that are a real shame. Now, many subjects fall under that category but what is on my mind today is food, and many aspects of food that over time, we've gotten hugely wrong.

I really don't care what other people feed their families. What bothers me, more than anything is ignorance. If you're going to BUY something... give someone money in return for a product, SUPPORT AN INDUSTRY, you need to know what you're voting for. The reality of the food industry is sad, and it's not easy to see or learn about, but it's very real. And you're feeding it to your kids. You're voting with your dollars. By buying certain things you're essentially saying "I approve of this company and the ethics that went into this product." and... most people have no idea what that even means, they have no idea what they're voting for.
 I didn't for a long time! That's what the FDA is for, they're going to keep us safe! If it makes it to the shelf, it's safe to consume! That's their job. Newsflash, the FDA (like the rest of our government) doesn't work for you. They work for the big companies that keep their pockets full.
What I can't wrap my head around, and perhaps it's my own ignorance, is how someone can either
1. Not even care to learn when the subject matter is brought to their attention, or
2. How someone could possibly learn and NOT want to make changes.
Learning about the food industry the last year and a half has been literally life-changing, and it's something I've grown so passionate about, I do want to share it... but I don't want to shove anything down anyone's throats. So, take what I say with a grain of salt. A grain of real sea salt, that is. Don't be offended. And if you're still going to buy the same ol meat you've always bought because it's cheap and tastes good, that's fine. I don't care.

This post isn't even going to be about processed junk food.  That is a whole other post. What THIS post is about... is factory farming. What is it? What are the pros and cons of factory farming? What does it mean for the nutritional content of your food? What does it mean for your health? What does our overall acceptance of it say about society as a whole?

What is factory farming? 
Factory farming is how most meats readily available at the grocery store are raised. It is a business farm in which aims to produce the most meat and highest profit margin possible, which is achieved by housing as many animals as possible in whatever space they have. Most of our meat, dairy, and eggs are produced this way.

What are the pros and cons of factory farming? 
The very obvious pro here is that we have a constant food supply, which is convenient in the world we live in. Unfortunately we utilize that supply in the least efficient way possible, much of it going to complete waste while many starve, but that's a subject for another day.
The cons are plentiful. Animals are kept in conditions that are not just less than ideal, but downright cruel. The way we house and feed them leaves their own bodies weak and deficient, and those deficiencies spill over into the nutritional content (or lack thereof) in our food. Factory farming is terrible for the environment as well. I could really go on and on, but I'm trying to keep this simple.

What does factory farming mean for the nutritional content of YOUR food? 
Factory farming raises animals in such a way that is so far removed from what nature intended, that it impacts not only their quality of life, but also the nutritional content in the meat we buy. These are chickens that have never seen sunlight, pigs who have never seen mud, cows who have never felt grass beneath their hooves. ALL are vitamin D deficient, and because their diet isn't even natural (cows are NOT ment to eat grains.) they are lacking important omegas.
We see these deficiencies spill over into people. In fact, there was a study done on Omega 3's and their effect on clinical depression, a disorder that we have a very high rate of here in the USA, and is nearly unheard of in other areas, and one of the big differences in the areas is what people eat. In Iceland, for example, most people eat a lot of wild caught fish and farm raised, grass-fed beef, and depression is a near non-issue there. Here, on the other hand, not only is too much of our diet processed to begin with which lacks biologically available nutrients, but on top of that, what little "real food" most people eat is factory farmed. As a result, we see a high rate of deficiencies in people which lead to some pretty serious diseases and health problems, which would be completely avoidable on a more natural diet. People die over these things. It's serious.
Factory farming produces less nutritious foods, is the bottom line. All those things you know of beef: good source of iron, good source of Omega 3's, good source of protein, good source of vitamins B 3 & 12, good source of zinc and phosphorus.... none of that holds true for factory farmed beef the way it does for grass-fed pasture raised animals.

What does it mean for your health? 
Vitamin and nutrient deficiencies are a big deal. With nutrition being the cornerstone to good health, once you start messing with the natural makeup of your food sources, you are begging for things to go wrong. Certain deficiencies lead to: clinical depression, fatigue, muscle cramps, memory loss, anxiety, restless leg syndrome, hypertension, clotting disorders, birth defects, vision loss, headaches, nausea, digestive upset, and more.

What does our overall acceptance of factory farming say about society as a whole?
This is perhaps the more tragic part about factory farming. By accepting these practices and buying these products, we are telling these companies we are OK with it.
What kind of person is OK with living creatures being made to suffer? Have we become so disconnected from the natural circle of life that we have no respect for creatures other than ourselves? Have we become so numb to the cruelty inflicted on these magnificent animals for our benefit that we just turn the other cheek in the name of modern convenience?
It's not a secret- I'm an animal lover. But, you don't even have to LIKE animals to see that these conditions are unfair, inhumane, and downright wrong. It's cruel. The things we've done for convenience are disgusting. Profit and greed being the driving force behind the factory farming industry have put many family farms out of business, and because of the world we live in it's become easy for us, the consumer, to turn a blind eye to what's happening. We don't have big rolling farms everywhere reminding us that that little neatly plastic wrapped package in the meat section had a life at one point. We don't have to go out and milk the family cow to have milk for our cereal and butter for our bread. Now, food doesn't come from the animal in our minds, it simply comes from the grocery store. We don't have to think about it or give it a second thought. We can run in and grab a dozen eggs without having to think about the hen that lived her whole life cramped in a wire cage, unable to move or turn around. You can grab a gallon of milk without having to give a second thought to the poor cow that never saw sunlight or tasted grass and lived a short life covered in feces before being sent to slaughter. (and if you think those unsanitary living conditions don't spill over into the food supply and mean contaminated food, think again. Yes. there's poop in your food. Chew on that.) We can be as blind and ignorant as we wish, but it will never change anything.
And every time you buy factory farmed meat, dairy, and eggs, you are giving this industry your stamp of approval. You are casting your vote. You are accepting this as OK common practice.

So what, should I just be a vegetarian then? Besides, animals were put on earth to eat! Besides, they're just animals. 
Well, you COULD. I'm certainly never going that route again. The latter part is debatable, but I do agree with it. However, they were not put on Earth to be tortured. There are luckily still family owned farms who raise their animals in a humane nature, the way they're supposed to. I encourage you to seek out these places in your community and shop a little smarter. I encourage you to raise your own food if it is within your means. I encourage you to feel responsible for your choices, and to know what you're supporting. It DOES cost a little more to buy from ethical sources, because those farms aren't cutting their costs at the expense of the animals, and that is reflected in what you pay. But, even on a limited budget it absolutely positively can be done, and can be done well. Think about how many times a month you waste $10 here and $5 there.
Did you know that swine experience a range of emotion nearly as complex as humans? Fear, pain, joy, excitement, happiness, remorse... all within a pig's capabilities. A good comparison for the emotional AND mental capacity of a pig is that of a 3 year old child. That's how intelligent these animals are. That's how deep and complex they are. Think about it. Really, think about it. Are you OK with this? Are you OK with supporting this, in the name of money and convenience?
The point of this isn't to make you feel guilty, it's to get you to think about it. Where do you stand? What kind of companies do you want to support? What are you ok with?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

It's Just a House (the Before)

This will be post 1 in our House to Home series of posts.
I remember when our really awesomely nice real estate agent brought us to see this house two and a half years ago. Our criteria were pretty low, we were just looking for a house that would have a mortgage super comparable to the rent we were paying at the time. (~$825)  Compared to all the other homes we saw with their itty bitty rooms and closed off floor plans, this place was awesome. We instantly fell in love with the huge living room, the wood floors, and huge bedrooms. Being built in 1954, and few things updated since then, there were some old house quirks we didn't particularly love, but all of them were either fixable or livable.
We were looking for a two year investment. We got an amazing deal on a foreclosure, and everything went through in one weekend. The difference between this house and other starter homes we considered was that we could actually see it working out for much longer. I mean, the POTENTIAL this place has is crazy. So we bought it, and moved in.
We quickly learned we weren't allowed to change the fence line as per city ordinance that says it has to be X feet from the sidewalk and it already was. We accepted that, but it left us with a really inadequate yard for our needs. But, we got a permit secured from City of Orem to do it anyway now, and though we have to do some serious work in the front yard (removing part of the driveway) it will be worth it. Just add another weekend of work to the list!
But then other than paint and some plumbing, we didn't really DO anything. We did nothing that changed the functionality of the house. We went with whatever hand me down furniture was given to us, and somehow fell into a black/white/red color scheme that I've hated since the beginning. It's just not us, it's not home. It hasn't been working for us, because we haven't worked for it. Since we have decided to stay, we are working diligently to turn this place into home.
We are on a budget. We have a very modest budget and will unfortunately have to DIY most of these projects, (all of which we really have NO idea what we are doing, so this should be fun!) Jon is taking care of a lot of the "heavy lifting" (like driveway removal, fencing, building a shed, etc.)  and I'm taking care of most of the aesthetic decor things. (making window treatments, wall decor, painting, putting together the nursery, etc.) Both of us are in way over our heads. Painting is rough on my tailbone, and I am terrible at sewing. Jon hasn't ever really built anything by himself, and has no idea how to install a fence. We are figuring it out, together, with Google and YouTube. I think we are both most intimidated by building the fence, which is a shame because it really needs to go in ASAP so all the dogs can be home officially full time. They need to be home, this is where they belong. It's not home without them.
We won't be inviting guests over during the next couple months as we work hard to get as much done before Chase's big arrival, ( ha, like we ever invite anyone over anyway.) Unless you want to help! Help is much needed and appreciated. We also pay in pizza, donuts, and cake. Score, right?!

-Remove 15 feet of driveway, fill with bulch and soil, plant fruit tree
- Put up 130 feet of solid wood fencing (this project makes us weep. If anyone knows how to do this and would be willing to help, you'd be my hero.)
-Build a storage shed
-Gut kitchen, install new one
-Install Trafficmaster flooring through upstairs
-Replace bathroom floor, install new toilet
-Paint.... everything
-Set up nursery
-Make curtains for entire living room (so dreading this. Yuck. I HATE sewing, and many of these are 8'x4')
-Make cornices for windows
-Build coffee and end tables
-Build dining room table

Come spring we have a whole new list of projects to get the "people side" of our backyard set up. It will involve more fencing, getting patio furniture, planting privacy vines, laying sod, and in general just creating a welcoming, relaxing outdoor space we can enjoy. That's put of til Spring, partly for time's sake, and partly because we already are stretching to budget everything listed, and may need to compromise on some things already, can't get it ALL done this fall.

We live here: 
 The side yard that's getting the driveway removed and being fenced in for lots of space for the dogs to play and have outdoor space of their own, in which they can dig and be as rowdy as they want.

Our living room. I *HATE* the color scheme (but don't be fooled, I love my red couches) Black and white are two colors that shall never be in my home decorating pallet ever, ever again. The gray I don't mind so much except for when combined with my red leather, it kinda fell into the black/ white color thing, which to me doesn't feel homey at all. It feels cold and sterile (when it's not covered in dog hair...) Plus, the window treatments make me cringe. I really detest vertical blinds, a lot. I like curtains, they feel warm and homey and comfy. THese windows are seriously massive though, and I've never sewn anything before start to finish because I get so annoyed with how tedious it is and give up, so this will be interesting. (I'm making them rather than buying, partly because I can't find any I like, and partly because it will be cheaper)

Another view of the living room "before" work. A previous owner knocked down a bedroom wall to make it obnoxiously long, and we just put that wall back up, and that bedroom will be Chase's. Also, that awesome custom painting of miss Annie on the fireplace is the color pallet for the room. Blues, reds, browns. I love it. I absolutely positively love it. 
Our Kitchen. It's much less painful if you don't look directly at it. There's nothing to be salvaged here. It's all coming out. It's all being replaced. And it won't be all white and ugly. I can't wait to have an oven that cooks evenly, counter space, NOT have my laundry in the kitchen, and actual storage space that's not old school flour bins. 

That little red half wall is being removed, and a breakfast bar put in perpendicular to it, to use up that awkward little space by the back door. I'm not sure where we will put puppies when we have them, but having a functional kitchen is more important than that. 

 Also going to paint our bedroom a more neutral scheme so we can change our bedspread up without losing the put together, cohesive feel going on in there. I love the green, but it doesn't go with anything and I'm ready to change it up. 

 Upstairs bathroom. I already have new peel-and-stick tiles to replace the floor, and we are getting a new toilet that's not a stupid water saver that you have to flush 348723424 times. Other than that, as ugly as it is, it's functional and didn't make the cut on renovation projects for this year due to budget.

Crowded, cluttered garage. And this is even missing all the Dane-sized crates. Jon is already working on building an 8'x12' storage shed in the back yard with shelving to organize all this stuff, and then the work bench (that never gets used) is coming out, a ton if insulation is going in, and then all the crates will go back out here and not be inside the house. The garage is right off the kitchen, so it's not like they'll be off in some other building.We will JUST have their crates, all their feeding supplies, and beds, blankets, etc. will be stored out here.  
Downstairs living room/ bathroom/ bedrooms. We aren't doing anything with right now. I want to gut the ugly bathroom and put new carpet down throughout the living and bedrooms, but it's just not happening this year. Maybe next year. We'll see. 

SO I guess we will just keep living here for 8 or so more years. We do eventually want land, but I think with these renovation projects we will be much, much happier with our current place. It's just a matter of making it our home and changing our mindset from "cheap 2 year investment property"  to "our home, where we will begin raising our family" and make the necessary changes as budget allows. I can't wait to put the front yard garden in in the springtime, too. 

Uhh... all the pictures were taken for our home listing, so they belong to... someone that's not me, I'm just not sure who. I hope I don't go to prison for using them. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Weekend Getaway

Last weekend we were lucky enough to have one last little Summer getaway before buckling down and getting through all our projects on the house. There's SO much to do before December, and to stretch our budget as far as possible we are taking on most of the labor ourselves for anything we are even remotely capable of. Even so, it was nice to just put it all on hold for one weekend and escape- to Jackson Hole, WY!
It was a quick trip, we drove up Saturday morning and spent the day strolling around the town, looking at all the little shops, which was fun even though we didn't buy anything. That night, we went to the Bar J Wranglers dinner/ show. I hadn't been in YEARS but still remembered how much fun it was, how good the food was, and how hilarious the show was. It didn't disappoint. Jon had never been but has been hearing about this "ho down" from my family for four years now and was excited to finally go see what the heck we were all talking about. I think he laughed more than anyone else at our table, so it's safe to say he enjoyed it.
Sunday morning we woke up and had breakfast in our room and kind of lounged around for a while before going back to walk around for a little bit. Have I mentioned how nice it was to escape yet:?!
We went and walked around for a bit before getting back on the road and heading home.
The drive both there and back were enjoyable. It's so rare that Jon and I have 5 solid hours to just... talk. Uninterrupted discussion. Plus, the scenery was beautiful. I LOVE mountains. And rivers. And lakes.
We have absolutely NO doubt that we want to stay by family indefinitely. There's nothing we would trade the proximity to family for, and if Jon's family moves up here like we keep hearing they hope to, then all the better. But, every single time we go on a road trip and pass through all these cute LITTLE old towns, with land and cows, we're reminded of how badly we want that, and how much we DON'T want to stay in the suburbs forever. Don't get me wrong, we are actually excited to not be moving right now, and to get these projects on the house done and settle back in, but in the long run, we struggle a lot with where exactly we want to be. How far are we willing to go? Will our priorities change? All we know now is this is where we feel like we need to be, and that's what we are doing for now, and we feel very at peace with that for the NOW, but the future is so unknown. We still really want land, privacy, space, the whole shebang. Perhaps someday, but for now, this is home, and this is right where we belong. <3

22 weeks!

Twenty-two weeks. Time is crawling along, slowly but surely. Normally I hate having plans on the calendar, I just have such a hard time with having my time scheduled out in advance, but these days I am just happy to put anything on the calendar to give little things to make time go by faster.
We had our official anatomy scan on Monday. I was nervous just because I obviously didn't want to discover anything that might make the next 18-20 weeks full of worry. Luckily everything went really well and he looks great! Despite the fact that *I* am not growing like most pregnant women, Chase is growing strong and healthy just the way he should and measuring right on time for what my estimated due date is. (though my guess is still that he will be 8 days "late" and arrive Dec. 26th) We were also able to confirm that he does not have cleft lip, at all. Not that cleft would be the end of he world, in fact in the broad spectrum of birth defects that's such a minor thing, but since I was born cleft, it is something our babies are at a much higher risk of having than most babies. But should we ever face that, we will deal with it. I may be bias, but I think he has the most adorable nose in the world. It is crazy to me how much bigger he looks now. My last ultrasound was seven weeks ago, and he still looked like he had all kinds of extra space in there. This time, he was all curled up, and had his little legs crossed at the ankles. He's a little person now! I mean, he always was but.... it's just crazy.

How far along? 22 weeks!

How big is baby? Approx 11" long, and 1lb

Total weight gain/loss: -18. (140) I don't know what the heck is going on with my weight. I was positive I'd gained again in the last two weeks. My belly has grown... a lot, I'm eating a ton, I haven't been that sick. I'm not sure why (or HOW) I lost 2lbs again.

Maternity clothes? My jeans fit, but aren't very comfortable if I'm sitting for a long period of time. They work for a trip to the grocery store or something like that though. My yoga pants are still fine though, I either wear them below my belly or just don't fold the waistband down and wear it over my belly- both are comfortable and still look fine.

Sleep: I have been lucky in that this pregnancy insomnia I keep hearing about has stayed away so far. I'm waking up several times to use the restroom, but still falling right back asleep.

Best moment the last two weeks: It's been a fairly uneventful two weeks, other than our anatomy scan we had on Monday. Everything looks great and baby is developing perfectly. Despite MY weight loss, he's growing just the way he should be. I think our bodies are amazing.

Movement: Tons. It's like a never-ending dance party.

Food cravings: Not really craving anything, though I've really been enjoying open-faced cucumber and tomato sandwiches on an english muffin lately. And I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I've actually grown to *like* my herbal pregnancy tea. I don't love the taste, but my body craves it, and I probably drink 48 oz of it a day, at least.

Food Aversions: Anything leafy, still. I'm usually such a salad eater but not now. I've made chunky veggie mixes in place of my usual spinach salad though, just chopping cucumber, tomato, avocado, etc. and eating that instead. 

Gender: Boy. <3

Pregnancy Symptoms: I had several days of serious nausea last week. Unfortunately I was sick for my entire Jackson Hole vacation. I think I'm better now, at least... I feel better the last couple days. I still feel very anti-social and I worry people mistake that for depression. I'm not depressed, I'm quite happy with life right now, I just like to be left alone. I'm not sure why.

Belly Button in or out? In

What I miss: Nothing.

What I am looking forward to: Third trimester!

Upcoming appointments/events: Our next appointment is Aug. 20. I don't think Jon is going to make it to that one (work will let him but I feel like we've asked SO MUCH out of his job lately with our trip to the lake and then all these appointments, since it's not a "big one" I think I might just go it alone this time.

Milestones: So far: made it through first trimester, had first (and second) ultrasound, and discovered gender, and felt movement, Jon has felt movement from outside, belly popped finally, anatomy scan (went well), being able to see movement

Bump Picture: 
Progression pic coming soon

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Home Sweet Home

As is fairly well-known, Jon and I have been planning on moving on from our first home and settling into a new place.
After a lot of ups and downs, and way too many months of the same song and dance with offers falling through on our house, and having to go back to square one, I got to thinking maybe this just isn't supposed to happen right now. I do believe everything happens for a reason, and especially when really crappy things keep happening I have to trust that there is some bigger plan that I just don't understand, and have faith that it will all work out for the best. Of course I get to that point AFTER wishing all manner of awful, terrible things on whomever I feel is to blame for said crappy things at the time, but at least I do get to that point.
The whole house selling process was just getting way too stressful for me. Jon is a trooper, but I am so intently focused on wanting to prepare for this baby, and feeling like my house isn't even mine anymore wasn't helping. I have furniture that needs to be set up, cloth diapers to be prepped and put away, supplies to organize... and having my hands tied on all of that was so frustrating. So, I got to thinking: worst case scenario is the house doesn't even sell until super close to my due date. It was a real possibility at this rate. I don't want to give up the 19 or so weeks I have left to prepare and plan while hanging on to some notion that we will be moving when reality is I had no idea if or when that would happen. I told Jon I think it's time we start thinking about how we can make this house work for our family for a while longer, and move at a time that I'm not so overwhelmed. Then we started talking about all the reasons we bought the house in the first place. I mean, there was a time we loved this place. Why?
I remember sitting on my grandpa's couch and him asking us why we wanted THIS house. We loved the potential. The bare bones it has, and what can be done with it. The problem is: we moved in and didn't really DO anything with it. We put projects off and settled because like many, we were quickly overwhelmed by the work involved. So of course we grew unhappy with the house, we never fell in love with the house as is, we fell in love with the potential and what we planned on turning the house into. We started talking about all those projects and how they might change our feelings on our property, and how we can utilize the land we have in a way that will work for us.
We ended up getting a plan approved by City of Orem that will change our fence line dramatically, making the front yard smaller and give more space in the back for dogs and kids. Our yard is the #1 thing that doesn't work for us because we don't use our massive front yard for anything (an unfenced, non private yard is useless as far as I'm concerned...) and don't maintain it the way we really should because Jon is so busy and we just lack the motivation and discipline to put so much time into what we see as useless, unused space. SO, here's the approved plan:
On the left is how it currently is. Our back yard is small, and just dirt because the dogs have long since destroyed any signs of life out there. We have an annoyingly big front yard, that we do absolutely nothing with other than begrudgingly mow ever week (or two....) and spend a fortune watering.

The first thing happening is the new fence going up. Jon is tackling this project himself to help save labor costs. He's never done a fence before, but I'm confident he can do it, he can do anything he sets his mind to. It will be a BIG project, and only the west side is getting done immediately. The east and north sides will get done Spring 2014 because we have to prioritize budget AND time right now. 
Unfortunately to get the permit to change the fence, we have to remove 15feet of our roundabout driveway, but will still have enough of it to park in the driveway without blocking each other so it's not a HUGE loss anyway. We were going to lay sod in the area, but are actually thinking of just laying mulch and putting in a fruit tree- probably cherries or apricots- since lawns and fruit trees don't have the same watering needs. Since that side of the back yard will be where the dogs will run and play, we are turning off the sprinkler system, the lawn stands no chance anyway, and possibly putting a fruit tree in the triangle of space that will be left out front. Of course the fruit trees all depend on if grandpa tells me they will or won't be able to thrive in those spots. Plan B is just grass there and we will unfortunately have to reconfigure some sprinklers, but it would be nice to just be able to shut that entire section off. 
The other outside project is building a shed. Again, no idea how to do that, but we'll figure it out. Our garage is too crowded, we need somewhere to put "yard stuff" that is out of the elements. 
We hope to get a grill-finally- and some patio furniture now that there will be a people side and a dog side to the yard, and actually start enjoying our outdoor space again. And, of course, I can't wait to have a porch swing. I loved having one before a certain Dane kinda destroyed ours. That will all have to come in time though. We also have projects inside the house to tackle, and one at a time we will save up, and get them done. 
I'm excited actually. At one point I felt like staying here after Chase is born was the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen and now, planning and talking about these projects with Jon I feel like we are falling in love with our house all over again. Yes it's old. Yes it needs updating. Yes the kitchen blows (that's the first indoor project... and I'm oh so excited for it!) and makes me hate even trying to cook anything but one pot meals. But this is our house, and it's about time we make it our home. It won't happen overnight, and it will happen one project at a time, but really just getting the yard squared away before winter sets in will make it so much more manageable with our pack. 
I'm not sure why we felt like selling this place was the right decision. I'm not sure what we were supposed to learn from all of this, and I'm not sure what the "greater plan" holds. What I do know is our baby was conceived the night we listed the house.. so... there's that. (How's THAT for over sharing?!) And if Chase Albert  is what comes out of this nightmare experience, then... well, it is so much more than worth it. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Ten Things That Would Make me Insanely Happy

1. If my Kenny Chesney Pandora channel would only play county music, because it pains me to "thumbs down" John Mellencamp for the sake of customizing the channel.

2. If Blake Shelton would come play in Salt Lake. Or my living room.

3. If I could afford a chef to come live in my house and make me dinner when I don't feel like cooking.

4. If my house would sell like... right this second, and close immediately.

5. If dogs could not poop anymore. Ever. Or fart.

6. Cats, too.

7. If weekends could be 3 days instead of two. I feel like we always need a second Sunday or something.

8. If public pools could not be so crowded on weekends so I could enjoy them.

9. If yard work could do itself.

10.  If I could be really good (and fast) at knitting overnight.

Yes. These things would make me really happy. But you know... I love my family. I love my husband. I love my baby.  I love my dogs. I even love the stupid cat.... and these are the things that make up my life, so... despite the fact that many things aren't ideal right now, I love my life. I will continue to love my life even if it means living in this house (that I really do not love....) for another year.

When Old Ladies Deserve Punches to the Face

Friday evening Jon and I had plans to go to Hale Theater with my mom. It's kind of our thing, every year the three of us get season tickets and we enjoy going and seeing their little productions. (Well OK... we almost always enjoy going. Urinetown was in fact the worst play I've ever seen in... ever. It was awful. Whoever picked that one should be fired. Are you listening, Hale Theater?) Jon was working at Ruff House until 7pm, so my mom and I decided to grab dinner and watch TV at her house between her getting off work at 5 and meeting at the theater at 7:15pm. A bean burrito sounded really good to me, and we decided on Rubio's. Since I live pretty close to it, the plan was for me to just pick it up and meet at my Mom's.
So, off I went. It was just after 5pm so there was a bit of a line. I noticed a sweet looking old couple of (my guess) about 75 years old hobbling in behind me, and thought to myself "How cute." (I have this thing for little old couples, I think they're adorable, especially when they look so happy.) Since there was a line anyway, I didn't cut my phone conversation short until the person ahead of me was ordering. I don't stay on the phone while ordering food or checking out at the store because it's rude, so then my conversation went like this:
"Oh hey, I'm next up to order, can I can you back when I'm in the car?"
>Sure, no problem. Where are you eating?
"Rubios. I guess my baby was craving a burrito! I'll call you soon."

I didn't think anything of it, so I was a little confused when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Upon turning around, this cute little old lady said with disgust: "Well do you at least have a boyfriend that's going to make it right, or are you going to do the right thing and give that baby up for adoption?" There I stood, several people staring at the encounter, completely confused.
"Um. Excuse me?" What the heck was this woman talking about? I actually thought she was making some kind of abortion reference before she clarified, which completely disgusted me, especially considering I'm more than halfway through this pregnancy.
Her (pointing at my BARELY there belly) "Your baby. Do you at least have a boyfriend who is going to marry you to make this right, or are you going to give that baby to a proper family?"

Now, I don't wear my wedding rings right now. I desperately need to get them resized because they're too big and since I lost so much weight during this pregnancy I'm so afraid of losing them because they fall off so easily. I can only assume this is why she assumed I wasn't married, or my mom said I look really young when I don't wear makeup (which I wasn't. I hardly ever do.) but either way, the inaccurate assumption was made I was in fact single.

I stood there, in awe that this little old lady who looked so sweet, was being SO insanely rude, confused as to why I was being so rudely called out on something that wasn't even the case and EVEN IF IT WERE would be none of anyone's business, especially some stranger in line. Still trying to wrap my head around the situation, and taking note that it was my turn to go order, I replied "Not that it's ANY of YOUR business, but my HUSBAND of four years and I could not be more thrilled to be expecting!" And with that, I turned and walked to the register where I placed my order, and then joined the small group of other to-go order people waiting by the salsa bar for their food. I felt embarrassed though looking back I had absolutely no reason to be. I didn't do anything wrong. It was just awkward. The couple went to the opposite side of the building, by the exit door to wait for their food rather than waiting where everyone else was. I HOPE she was embarrassed too. I HOPE she realized how out of line she was.
I got in my car (and promptly started stuffing my face with chips and salsa) and was a weird mixture of annoyed, embarrassed, and in general just bothered that someone would make those assumptions. I am excited to have a belly that doesn't just look fat now, and this was the first time a stranger has ever acknowledged the fact I'm pregnant, it's not how I thought it would go.

I'm not sure what part of her clearly dysfunctional brain told her that it was appropriate to ask such a question. Sometimes I get *SO* annoyed with the ignorant, unaccepting bubble culture that is Utah Valley. It's obnoxious. I'm not sure if it's her generation, though I like to think that surely my grandparents have more sense than to do something like that. I can't honestly wrap my mind around her thought process. The more I try the more annoyed I am that there are actually people in the world like that.

What lessons can we learn here, folks?
1. Never, under any circumstances, is it OK to butt into a stranger's personal life, even if you are an ignorant, judgmental jackass. Whatever you're thinking.... whatever you're judging... keep it to yourself and know there's a high chance you're probably WRONG anyway. Even if I WERE some 14 year old tramp and not a happily married and stable 23 year old, she'd STILL be out of line.

2. Happily married people sometimes don't wear wedding rings. Maybe they lost them. Maybe they're too big or too small. Maybe they just left from a job that doesn't allow jewelry. None of your business.

3. Sometimes, even cute little old ladies deserve punches to the face. Though I OF COURSE would never do it. Sometimes, they deserve it, because even they can be completely rude idiots. I don't care how old and cute you are, you can't get away with being THAT freaking ignorant.