Friday, February 28, 2014

Life lately

Well it’s Friday and there will be no Great House Update post today unfortunately. I have the entire post written on our exterior project but somehow I cannot find any of the pictures. I even snuck on my husband’s computer and no luck. I could have sworn I stood outside throughout the fall and early winter admiring the work he did and I’m certain someone took pictures. But alas, he’s out of town so maybe next week?

Instead of a house update post, I have a life lately post. Since Sunday afternoon Alex has been living it up skiing in Whistler, Canada while the girl and I try to maintain average body temperatures due to record lows for this time of year. It’s really depressing when you see the temperature ready to reach double digits only to realize the wind-chill makes it still feel like –10. Regardless, we’ve ventured out quite a bit and were very grateful Grandma ventured over to help break up our week.

This week we ate lunch on the kitchen counter because we were dog sitting for my cousin and Elizabeth is still a little afraid of dogs. I’m not sure if puppies will be able to come over again because ever since the puppy left she gets a bit terrified that he’s still in the house. (even though we’ve said bye-bye a hundred times to the puppy)


We’ve been a bit sleepy. Anyone else’s kids get super tired when they are experiencing a mental/physical leap? She’s been sleeping in, napping normally, going to be earlier and is still a bit sleepy in the afternoon. From experience this will be short lived but I’m enjoying all the snuggles that come with it!


And we HAVE to let baby do everything we do. Baby is now accompanying us on errands and must be within site at all times. This morning she even fed baby breakfast. Such a good little mommy.


We’re very excited to welcome Alex home tonight and to spend a very low-key weekend with one another. Not too mention, Friday means pizza night which is always a win in my book.

Have a very enjoyable weekend!

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Great House Update: the update list

House update

Sorry for the absence…my brain just hasn’t been functioning in blog writing mode! But I’m back with what will hopefully become a Friday feature. Next up on the Great House Update is our lengthy list of what needs to be done. Before I share the list there is a little back story to share first.

When we bought our house 2 years ago, we spent the first year almost entirely just living and dreaming. We did very little in terms of updates; paint on the walls, bedroom closet organizers, and that’s about it. The reasoning was to live in it and see how we function as well as to see if this house was a transition house or where we would stay put.

Transition house=a house we’d live in for a short time.

Our initial thought moving in was that this house would be a transition house. Lord willing, we’d love to build or significantly rehab our “dream house” one day. But the more we mulled that over and prayed about it, the more we just wanted to stay put. There are so many pros about our house that we would lose if we moved just for a house that was more our style. Location, mortgage, and money spent were the top three things keeping us here. Our location is SO convenient for our lives. We are close to just about everything which saves us money in the long run on gas, etc. Our mortgage is ridiculously low…and we even took out a 10 year mortgage. The fact that our house can be paid off in 10 years or less is a HUGE motivation to stay here. And there are many costs that would be associated with moving/building that we are not sure we want to allocate to that end.

Getting over that hurdle allowed us to change our mindset on renovation. Short term house = renovate with the new buyer in mind. Long term house = renovate for ourselves. This is a huge piece for anyone renovating their house. As a remodeler my husband often tells people that these days large scale renovations will most likely not be recouped in the sale price. If you are willing to spend a large amount of money making your house the way you would like it, then you need to see the money spent as for your well being and enjoyment.

For us, knowing that we would be staying, our renovation list kept growing. This past year we found ourselves with a large surplus of cash because my husband had a red letter year. After many conversations we set aside a portion and then looked at our renovation list to see what projects were the most important. We always fund renovations with available cash…this is just our thing. So it will take us awhile to get through the list.

Here’s the thing…there are so many projects in our house that have the domino effect and add up quickly. Here’s an example: We would like new trim throughout our house. But if we are going to install new trim, we’d have to replace the trim around the doors and the doors themselves. And along with the doors all the hardware. And if we did the trim around the doors we’d have to do the windows, window trim and let’s be honest the floors. Because putting new trim on old floors and then having to refinish them is not the best order of action. And believe it or not those things mentioned above are NOT cheap. People on the internet make it seem like putting new trim in your house and replacing all those parts are cheap. They are NOT. That entire project would have been in the 10,000 range. Not to mention a HUGE undertaking with a baby.

So we went through the list again and figured out what items would help our day to day lives. My husband works from home and previously set up office in a spare part of our basement. Not the closed off bedroom, but a corner of our main basement area. That meant every time I went down to do laundry or anything for that matter and brought the baby, we’d have to interrupt him. Not good. So an office space for him was number one. And then after that expense was subtracted from the available funds, the leftover money allowed us to do our kitchen and build a deck. We did go slightly over our budget but our house is all the more functional for it.

This has been wordy so thanks for sticking through this with me. Laying the groundwork for why and what we did I think is important and helpful.

So here’s our list. Probably not entirely comprehensive but you get the idea. This house has a way to go!

kitchen – entire redo, including appliances

new hardwood floors throughout – kitchen floor finished

new windows, window wraps and casings – partial finish

new doors, hardware, door casings and trim throughout

gutter screens and finish our siding project

new vanities, tile, fixtures and built ins in bathrooms

permits and new electrical in bathrooms

remove wallpaper and paint in basement

new roof

office addition

deck project

landscaping front and back – we have a plan in place

drywall in bathrooms and refinish all ceilings – ceiling partial finish

customize bedroom closets

basement bathroom update


Phew! That’s where we are at and I’m sure I forgot some things. In the next few weeks I’m hoping to start with the exterior and then move inside to showcase some of our changes.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Recap of the if:gathering


Oh my…still so much to process! It was a whirlwind of a trip if there ever was one and every minute not spent attending was spent sleeping in my hotel room or driving in the car.

I left late Thursday night and arrived home early Sunday morning. It was the perfect little getaway for this momma and the conference was unlike any women’s conference I’ve ever been to. I have a love/hate relationship with conferences; I love the information and worship and being with others, but I really don’t like the rise and fall of emotions that can often happen. In the past I’ve gone and left so fired up only to open my eyes a few days later right where I was before. Conferences have their good points and while that can be one of them for some, it’s not my favorite part.

But this wasn’t like that. First let me say that this was not about who you were or what you were doing. All na├»ve I brought my blog “business” cards in hopes to hand them out and I kept them locked in my bag for the entire trip, with the exception of 3 to people who asked for them. Overall this was not a networking thing, or a blogger thing, or a platform thing, or a look at me thing. This was an introspective, love one another, bind up in community kind of thing.

My kind of thing!

Our time was filled with listening, reflecting, asking one another (aka strangers) hard questions, worshipping, and eating. I was in my element. Although I was a bit nervous…introvert over here…all of those things above are things I love to involve myself in. Especially the ask hard questions and eating part!

When I first heard Jenny Allen talk about the if:gathering it was like the Holy Spirit whispered “go.” And I were to be honest, just the fact that I booked the flight, got on the plane and went was enough to make the trip a success for me.

The past year I’ve been thinking about my calling as a wife and a mother and a woman who loves Jesus. And the thing that just keeps coming back to me is the image that I’m leaving with my daughter and those around me. I get it wrong so often, falling into my sinful flesh and letting out biting words, but if I get it right even part of the time, I want that right to show Elizabeth that in our family we go after what the Lord calls us to. And we face our fears.

Getting on the plane, being with strangers for an entire weekend, actually following the Spirit’s leading to say yes when I could have just stayed home and watched the live stream…while not significant for others were all very significant for me. For once I didn’t take the easy way out and I was blessed ten fold while there.

Shelley GiglioChristine Caine - Ann Voscamp - Jennie Allen - Jen Hatmaker - Shauna Niequist Annie Lobart - Angie Smith - Christy Nockels - Susie Davis - Melissa Greene - Lauren Chandler Sarah Bessey - Bianca Olthoff - Rebekah Lyons - Melinda Doolittle - Esther Havens - Tara Jenkins - Lindsey Nobles

Do you know what they all had in common? Not their theology, not their personal views on hot button topics, not their day jobs, not what they do in their free time, not their family values. The thing they all had in common was that they are all incredibly passionate about their relationship with Jesus Christ and want to see the world touched by His love. That’s what IF was all about.

Banding together as women, putting our past and our hindrances behind us, and focusing on the things that bind us together. Our love for Jesus. I don’t know about you but in my past and even in my past week I’ve let little things, comparisons, divide me from fellow believers even if just in my head and never spoken out loud. I’m determined, by the Spirit, and by prayer to try and rid myself of comparisons. I feel, in our generation especially, that it is so easy to judge and compare…mommy wars anyone? But we really can’t gain any ground or have any impact on the next generation or those around us if we keep measuring everyone against ourselves or our values. We’ve got to band together.

Like Jennie Allen said at the beginning of the conference, “this is our time.” And it is. To be honest I chuckled inside a bit before I heard what she said next because that phrase always reminds me of Goonies…but in all honesty it’s true.

It is our time. Our time to…


“Lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith who for the joy endured the cross despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:1-2

Two more in depth If:gathering recaps can be found here. You can also purchase the live sessions here. And Christianity Today just did an article that can be read here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Babies, Infertility and thoughts on more

I can distinctly remember sitting in the office of our Reproductive Endocrinologist and seeing Elizabeth’s heartbeat on the screen. At 7 weeks pregnant and two miscarriages behind me the sight of the small little flicker on the screen brought tears to my eyes. And after our meeting we gave our RE a hug and it felt a bit awkward. This was the last time, hopefully, we would set foot in this office. A place where we learned of our miscarriages, hoped for babies, cried tears of sadness and joy, and became friends in a way. She must have sensed our position and gently said, “you can come back to see me when the baby is a year old or you never know, pregnancy has a way of sometimes resetting your hormones.”

Come back at a year old. All I remember thinking once Elizabeth was a year old was that I was NOT ready to go back to the Doctor. Not then and really not now. There is no part of me that wants to walk that emotionally exhausting road again. And yet, I’m not certain I do not want more babies.

The only way I can explain it is this way: When Elizabeth was given to us to be a part of our lives, we felt as though everything we asked for and wanted came to fruition. We waited and we asked for a baby. And we were given a baby. For Alex and I, we feel overwhelmed by God’s goodness to us in not only hearing but answering in way that lavishly showed His love for us.

And in my heart, somehow I just can’t make sense of how I could possibly even ask for more. It’s kind of like when you are given something you have always wanted and you are so stunned you cannot even imagine asking for more. Stunned to silence. Stunned with gratitude.

Infertility has changed me. It has made me one hundred percent acknowledge that when it comes to reproduction we play a very small role. We can plan and chart and have sex and take drugs and do this or that to better our chances. But God creates life. And He takes life.

And then around the time Elizabeth turned 15 months I began hearing friends and acquaintances talk about starting to plan for their next child. How to fund an adoption or space their children out. And I didn’t know quite what to do with what was going on in my heart. I knew that for us, for our road and our history, we couldn’t do those things. We couldn’t plan out our next child or even think about expecting another. My body didn’t work the first time and I had little hope it would work again a second time. How does one hope for something when they have been lavishing given more than they could ever ask for? And yet, this feeling began creeping up in my heart, Lord, I’m not certain I want Elizabeth to be an only child. I don’t know how to ask for more. It seems folly to even wonder or ask.

Not to mention the fact that it took a lot of medications and money and 3 long years to have Elizabeth. No doubt the Lord had us waiting for a reason and He gave when the timing was right, but the waiting. Oh the waiting was hard. And like I mentioned above I don’t even want to go there again.

So how does one ask, for something they absolutely cannot do on their own, for more abundant giving?

I’m perfectly content with Elizabeth. But there are days I grieve the knowledge that for her there may not be someone to play in the snow with or bicker with or tease her parents with.

So we’re just praying. Really not for answers or for another baby.

But for His will.

Because of how infertility has changed me, I know there is nothing I can do but leave it to Him.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The great house update

House update

Two years ago we found ourselves expecting a baby, living in an apartment, and realizing that the housing market had hit rock bottom. My husband, the planner and real estate agent, saw the silver lining, and one afternoon our house hunt began. Just like that.

We had known we wanted a house but we didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves. After selling our first house, we spent two years living in an apartment, footloose and fancy free. And while we were there we began narrowing down just where we wanted to live. After securing the general areas we liked, within a week of his announcement we began actively searching. In a market such as the one we are in now, if you want to buy you have to be ready to jump. Houses are on and off in a matter of days and knowing exactly what you want will help things move quickly and far more smoothly.

We had a list of must haves: attached garage, 3 bedrooms on one level, an area for a home office, 2 bathrooms would be nice, a dining room and at least 2000 square feet. We didn’t care if it was updated or in it’s original state. In fact we preferred the latter; not wanting to pay for someone else’s updates. Knowing what we wanted allowed us to breeze through 10-15 homes in a matter of a week. We would walk in, look around, see what we could do and how the home flowed and either keep it on or knock it off the list. Obviously the fact that my husband is a remodeler helps in our ability to rehab something!

When we walked in the house we eventually bought, it was nice. There were definite features we liked: the big windows, layout of the bedrooms, amount of square footage and the fact that there were 3 bathrooms and 4 bedrooms. We looked at it once and came back within days for a second walk through and then made an offer. Just like that. We knew that what was missing was primarily cosmetic and would be easily fixed with some hard work and money. And the area was the perfect compromise for my city living desire and my husbands want of a suburban neighborhood. Although we don’t live in the most prestigious neighborhood or even where some would begin their search, we live on a street that has some history as almost every neighbor has been here for 10+ years.

Because of all the above logistics we were able to secure our house for a significant discount especially after it under appraised. Although deals like our house are very infrequent these days, knowing what you want and being able to act quickly is really important.

But back to the house. Our house is a 1965 split level. This house is NOT our style. We are farmhouse/cape cod/craftsman people. This was a huge compromise on our part. But given that our budget would only reach so far with our must-haves, it was a compromise we were willing to make. We have 4 bedrooms, 3 on one level, 3 baths, 1 full and 2 3/4, and 2300 square feet. Our bedrooms are on the smaller side but our living spaces are quite large. And we have a dining room. YAY! Compromise is usually the name of the game when it comes to house buying.

Before we even moved into our house we immediately entered the room dimensions in my husband’s design program and we began our own listy-mclisterson of updates. Let me tell you that list is mind-boggling and it’s to come…because if you are anything like me, you are curious!

And like every list, it will take time to knock our items off especially since we only pay cash for any updates we do. Not too mention that my husband does remodeling and investing as a full time job… but I’m ready to start writing about our house and the changes we’ve made and I’d love to have you along for the ride. Coming soon will include what we have done, what we hope to do, our kitchen reveal and more.

Are you buying a house soon or have you? What were your must have’s?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pasta Carbonara with Leeks and lemon

Oh my goodness you guys, this was SO GOOD!


And SO easy.

Seriously I started dinner at 5pm and it was done at 5:28. I timed it because my husband said he would be in for dinner at 5:30 but then was detained so we didn’t eat until 5:45. While it definitely tastes better RIGHT when it is done, reheated was delicious as well. What can you do.

30 minute meal that tastes delicious and is filling. Perfect in my book. This is a keeper.

The punch of lemon mixed with the creaminess of the eggs and parmesan creates a delicious coating for pasta. And then add bacon and leeks to the party…your mouth will do a happy dance guaranteed. Leeks are one of my favorite vegetables for winter. Along with this pasta we love them in this Potato Leek soup and this Bacon and Leek Quiche.

If you have an aversion to using raw eggs, even though they are tempered a bit with the hot pasta water, I don’t have any alternatives for you. Sorry! I try to find pasteurized eggs if I can and if I can’t then I just roll with it. So far we haven’t had any reactions. And had Elizabeth been feeling better I’m almost certain she would have loved this as well. That soup above is one of her favorites!

Here’s the link to the recipe…I followed it exactly with the exception of draining the bacon grease. I just left it all in there! Yum!

Pasta Carbonara with Leeks and Lemon from Martha Stewart Everyday Food

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Thoughts on a Tuesday

Hi friends!

It’s my friend Jackie’s 29th birthday…go and send her some birthday love! And it’s also my friend Katie’s birthday as well…if you ever need a growth chart ruler, the ones she makes are AMAZING!

This morning before Elizabeth woke up I read this article on one of my favorite (new to me) blogs Oakland Avenue. It spoke right to my heart. Time to remember that this is my job and it’s okay to do it well. And okay to not do it well some days.

For dinner tonight we are trying a new recipe…Pasta Carbonara with Leeks and Lemon. Looks amazing. I’ll report back.

Our daughter has her second double ear infection of the past two weeks and I was devastated to miss MOPS this morning but we’re making up for it by hitting the indoor Rainbow Play systems Showroom and playing indoors this afternoon.

Today I signed up to be a Norwex consultant…I LOVE Norwex. If you are interested in ordering anything let me know. Anyone can join as a consultant in February for FREE…no strings attached.

My fourth Stitch Fix order is set to arrive just before Valentines Day. I’m hoping it’s a box full of things that knock my socks off. Want to try it? Click on this link.Click on this link. You won’t regret it.

Last but not least, in some winter craziness I cut bangs for myself and somehow they ended up looking just right. Yay for saving money! Who needs a haircut;)

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Heading south–if:gathering

It’s that week. The week I jump on a plane all by myself and head to a conference where I know no one and to tell you the truth I’m equal parts giddy with excitement and terrified with fear. In some ways I have no idea what possessed me to plan this trip and go alone but there’s that girl in me, 10 years younger, who jumped on a plane to spend the summer in France with only one or two that I knew, and I loved it. It was the best thing I’ve ever done.

And I’m hoping that in some similar ways, this trip to the if:gathering will have similar sentiments upon my arrival home. 10 years later, so much of my life has changed. And yet that longing to be a part of changing lives and ministering to those around me hasn’t left me. I am passionate about Jesus, and women, and community. If: gathering is about just that. Bringing together women from all backgrounds and denominations to pour out their love for Jesus in tangible and life giving ways. I’m excited to learn and grow and hopefully wrestle through hard questions and issues of my own heart.

I’m excited to get on a plane all by myself and live outside of my comfort zone. I’m an introvert, you know, and this is about as scary as it gets for those of us with that moniker. But somewhere deep inside of me I know this is on my path of growth and will be so beneficial to my everyday life that if I take nothing away from the trip but that I could reach outside of myself and explore extroversion then I know it will be a success.

And just being honest, I’ve every possible reason at my fingertips why I should throw in the towel and cancel. This past week leading up to the trip has been anything but smooth. Our daughter has been down for the count with an awful cold and all she wants to do is be held and rocked by her momma. And you know it’s breaking this momma’s heart to know I’ll be leaving her. I can only hope and pray she’ll be healed and thriving by Thursday night. Otherwise I may be a mess on the plane.

But I’m going to go and I hope you’ll pray with me and for me as I go. For safety and courage and faith that I will live this adventure to the fullest.

If you are local, make sure you check out if:local and see if someone is hosting the live stream somewhere near you. I think it’s going to be encouraging to say the least.

To adventure and growing outside of our comfort zones!