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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New Kitchen

A vast majority of houses we looked at needed a kitchen makeover.  It became a common theme after touring a house and saying "we'll just paint the kitchen and it'll look great".  Oh how those words have such a deeper meaning now.  And I don't think I'll ever say them so nonchalantly ever again. 

Because when we bought our house, the kitchen looked like this:
It was dark.  And ringed of the 90's era when the house was built.  Plus the counter tops were cracked in several spots. The stove top only have 2 working burners.  And oh my goodness that floor was pretty disgusting.  We contemplated ripping that out as well. 

It even had one of those lovely florescent light fixtures that is popular in so many houses built during the 90's.  It did not help with the darkness of the room.  And coming from Alaska, I needed light.  And lots of it.  
So we got to work.  In two-ish weeks before the moving truck arrived, we (with much help from Matt's dad) painted the base cabinets, installed new counter tops, and replaced the back splash, got a new stove top, painted the walls and installed all new lighting.  And that was just in the kitchen.

One thing we didn't get to were the cabinet doors.  We worked our tails off to get the kitchen to a place where we could unpack and survive.  Doors and hardware were not part of that equation.  And then we got burned out...well, actually we had other projects to work on...so we lived with no doors for...um...two months??
And just a couple weeks before Christmas, we finally have doors up and hardware on!  I didn't think I'd ever see this day.

Remember before?
I love before and afters.  And now have such a better appreciation for "after".

My husband never ceases to amaze me in how he can just decide to tackle something and learn how to do it.  Like he did with electrical.  He learned when we remodeled our bathroom in Anchorage.  And now he's a pro.  What a blessing to be married to man with such handyman skills.

Thus, he installed some can lights and these beautiful pendants over the island.
Our beautiful new stove top - that has all working burners!  And that back splash.  I cannot take any credit on the installation of that, but am thankful for the men that can.  Because I love it.
My new paint color that took three coats.  THREE.  That was dreadful, but I love the end product.  It's bright but the rest of the kitchen and house are so neutral, that I love the pop of color.
You can kind of see the floors in the picture above.  After several hours of scrubbing the floor with Clorox and a toothbrush, they actually look clean and relatively new.  I'm glad we didn't have to replace them after all!

And another angle for your viewing pleasure...because the amount of work that went into this kitchen deserves a bazillion pictures.
We have these two glorious, huge windows by the sink.  They will one day get curtains, but for now, I'm enjoying all the sunlight.
I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so it's an important room to me.  I love the brightness of it all.  And it was fun to pick out all the finishes.  However, I already told Matt, if we ever have to paint kitchen cabinets again, we will save and pay someone.  Or buy a house that's already completed.  If that last scenario is actually possible.

But for now, I'm loving the new kitchen.  And thankful for the opportunity to have such an amazing space.

Monday, December 17, 2012

First Christmas

A baby's first Christmas is a memorable occasion.  Maybe not for them, but for the parents.  We did a little celebrating early with just our little family of three.  

Maddie was way more interested in the tree than in her present.  

We tried to hide her little stuffed animal in the bag, but she just dug out the old, already owned stuffed animal and didn't think twice about the new, shiny gift inside with it.  But she was happy none the less.
 So we tried again that Saturday morning.  Where Matt and I exchanged gifts too.  It was like our "Christmas morning".

She is always full of smiles and giggles - which still (and probably always will) melt my heart.
 Thankfully, we had more luck this time with the gift...
 I think she liked it...after we hid her stuffed animal.  Ha.
We bought her a little fake cell phone since she always steals ours.  I certainly didn't go crazy with gifts for her...since clearly the tree and the tissue paper are just as exciting to her.  Though it was hard to restrain myself, I'm not going to lie.   
Then we went to a Christmas festival at our church.  Maddie didn't quite get how the bounce house worked.  As she just sat in the corner and watched...with perfect posture, of course.
(yes, I left her in her pj shirt, because it's seriously too cute.  However, next time I'm going to glue a bow to her head as everyone thought she was a boy.  I guess the big glittery heart on her shirt wasn't enough.)

But get her around the Bethlehem animals and we couldn't be more excited.  
 Even the fake ones are thrilling to her.
It's quite endearing how easily amused, joyful she gets.  And the celebrations have just begun!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Life

I'm currently living in a season of life that involves lots of change.  And effort.  As much as I long to just sit and be still - and spend my afternoons taking hour long walks in this 80 degree December weather (really? I wanted to escape the dreadful freezing Alaska winter, but this is kinda ridiculous) - my life right now is full of projects and contractors and unpacking and making a home.  But that last part I love.

Thus, blogging has taken a back seat lately.  So much has happened though! My baby girl not only turned 10 months...
 but 11 months!
I'm currently planning her first birthday party.  You know the one that's really just for the parents, since she'll never actually remember it, but I'd be a bad mom if I didn't have one?  Yeah, that one.  But I'm excited.  I think I'm going to go with a pink and yellow theme.  I cannot believe she's going to be one.  ONE.  Which means I'll have been a mom for whole year.  How did that happen?!?

Anyways...we celebrated Halloween with our cousin.  We were actually painting kitchen cabinets on October 31st, so it's a good thing I busted the outfit out early for this photo shoot.  Are they not so cute together?
 We enjoyed a corn maze too.  I'm pretty sure she's the cutest little ladybug ever.
Have I mentioned we are remodeling yet another house?  Yep.  We've done it again.  Bought a house that needs lots of TLC.  We are getting sooo close to being *finished* (oh how that term is to be used loosely), but we have transformed our living room from this:

...to this...
I love walking into this room.  I'm still in need of making curtains for in here...but every room in this house will always be a constant work in progress.  I guess you could call that my hobby.

We've also transformed the half bath from this lovely early 90's bathroom...
 ...to a much more modern, bright and inviting toilet room.
Maddie has been such a big help throughout the whole process.  This little girl has grown up too fast!  
In the meantime, Thanksgiving happened too.
Maddie is all about supporting football entertainment.  Especially Johnny Football.  The Cotton Bowl this year is going to be a divided household this year.  

We participated in our tradition of running the Turkey Trot in Fort Worth.  And by "tradition", I mean it was our first year.  But we have high hopes of it happening every other year when we all meet up for the "Heine" Thanksgiving.  
And now we are in the season of Christmas.  Goodness it came fast this year.  But it is and always will be my favorite time of year.  I'm excited to start new traditions in our growing little family.  I'm excited to teach Maddie what Christmas is really all about.  I feel like having a child helps me refocus on what this holiday actually represents - the birth of our Savior.  I know she won't remember a lot this year, but I strongly believe it's important to emphasize from early on what's important and what's really not.  Though I do still have a fondness for trees and lights and stockings and Christmas music (which has been playing all day long in our house since the day after Thanksgiving).  

But as life has been so crazy lately, I didn't even want to put up our tree this year.  Yes, it's felt that overwhelming as of late.  But again, bad mom moment.  How could I do that for my child's first Christmas? So Matt surprised me with a day off of work last week and we put it up.  I'm pretty sure Maddie is ecstatic that we did.  Those lights and ornaments are just mesmerizing.
I am so blessed with this child.  I thank God every single day for such a beautiful, joyful gift.   Every day gets more exciting with her...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Homeowners

We bought a house!

It's true.  We are no longer homeless...even if we are not living in the house quite yet.  Nothing like being anticlimactic by closing on a house and not being able to move in for a couple more weeks.  However, when that moving truck arrives, the angels will be singing.  At least in my head.

I guess we could have moved in right away, but let's just say the house needs a little work.  Such as every single surface in the house is to be repainted or replaced.  The bones of the house are wonderful and the location can't be beat (hence why we bought the place), but it was just a tad bit lived in with the previous owners 3 dogs, 8 cats, 4 kids and potbellied pig we later learned about from the neighbor.  Yikes.

And it is all being renovated in 2 weeks.  TWO.  Even though it might will exhaust us in the process.  We could not be more thankful for Matt's dad contractor skills and unending energy.

Because I feel about like Maddie is here at the end of each day...
I'm exhausted.  But what does my lucky fortune cookie remind me of?
words of wisdom discovered during a very appropriate time
It will be worth it!  When it's done we can move in and relax (so I tell myself, though in reality I'll think of 500 other things I want to do to the house post-unpacking).  I have been counting down the days for two whole months now.

With just less than a week left we have already painted every single room.  In the entire house.  Every. single. room.  If I never see another paintbrush for the rest of my entire life when this is all done, I'll be ok with that.  The floors will soon be all brand new too.  And the best part?  I may have my dream kitchen.  

No fear, I'll have lots of before and afters for you, but in the mean time here is a sneak peak of the biggest project...
BEFORE
(certainly not terrible, but we needed to replace the countertops so we decided to just redo the whole thing while we were at it - and I somehow convinced my other half it was a good idea.  Some things just seem like they'll be easier in my head.)
PROGRESS
...it's better already, right?...
Aren't the joys of home ownership worth it? :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Welcome back to Texas

We've almost been back in Texas a month.  It feels like we just got here but somehow it feels like we never left.  Life certainly has not been ideal since we've arrived (sharing one car for 6 weeks, living out of a spare bedroom, enduring the expected but still hot, humid weather, teaching a 9 month old that adjustments - and church nurseries - are ok), but it has been full.  There is rarely a day that I don't have anything going on...which is such a blessing because I might go crazy otherwise.  Remember, I am living out of a suitcase in someone else's house.  

I love all the opportunities to get involved and meet new people (and hang out with old friends).  I've learned to just jump in with both feet.  No point wasting time.  It's not like we have much else going on right now.  So at times, I may at times pull the "I just moved here from Alaska" without the "we lived here a few years ago" part, so people will have pity on me and invite me to things.  Eventually, they find out and still allow me to tag along. :)

Because seriously, there are so many stay at home moms!  Where have you been all my life?!?

Maddie and I get to spend a lot of quality time together.  She's such a little gem.  I can't imagine a better little person to spend my days with.

Here we are enjoying the hottest weather Maddie has ever experienced, while the rest of the Houstonians are dressed like it's cold.  I have a word to share: 65 degrees is not cold.  
We enjoy lunches and zoos and libraries and fall festivities with new friends.  Here is Maddie's best friend, Addie.  At what age is not appropriate to decide who their best friend is anymore?  I say I have at least half a decade of control over that still.  Right?
Football.  Matt + living with best friend = watching LOTS of football.  (Honestly, I don't mind though. I secretly really enjoy it.  And Maddie appears to too).
Thankfully, little one has been so good at sleeping lately!  I do not know what caused the turn, but I'm not complaining.  Not. one. bit.  I'm sure this is what most parents with small children experience earlier on.  Actual sleep lasting more than 3 consecutive hours at night.  Which is probably why many are okay with having more kids.  Which is why I'm just now starting to have a small hint of realization that more than one kid might be doable...
We've also found the only forest in Houston.  No more walking outside and being consumed by nature.  We now work with plastic trees that are 3 feet tall.  I'm glad my tax dollars are going to this type of school playground.  How disappointed those kids would be to run outside to the jungle gym just to discover small, fake trees!  What are they supposed to do with those anyways?
We've also gotten quite mobile.  If you look closely you will notice how not baby proof our temporary residence is.  And Maddie has a fascination with cords.  Awesome.  It works out well that we will be able to baby proof as we unpack our new house.  Because, goodness, it will be necessary.
video
It's good to be back to my Texas roots.  I'm not going to lie.  I've missed you.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

9 months

So at 9 months Maddie is not breaking in her new nursery.  But maybe at 10 months.  Maybe.  At least we can hope. :)
At nine months though, Madelyn is more beautiful than ever.
Look at that arm strength.  Matt's teaching her how to do push ups.
We had our 9 month check-up today.  Madelyn is 20lbs, 10 oz (81%) and 28" tall (67%).  Her head is still huge (99%).  We (again) had the doctor request to re-measure because it is unusually large.  I tried to explain it's always been big (99% when born) and not to order that CT scan.  I'm not joking.  Our new doc was concerned at first.  I'm pretty sure that does not mean she has too much fluid in her head.  But that she's going to be the valedictorian one day.  
How can you resist that smile?
This has been an eventful month for our baby girl.  She has been learning to crawl on all fours - until now she's just been a scooter and army crawler.  She's starting to pull up on things too.  Maddie has learned to sit up on her own.  We thought that was super exciting until we realized she can sit up in her crib but has yet to figure out how to lay back down and go back to sleep!
Who me?!
The most important milestone is...we are SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT!!  Yes, that fully deserves all caps.  It only took 9 months.  Nine.  I still wake up several times and check on her, but having a full nights sleep...it took me awhile to remember what that was.  She's gotten on quite a beautiful schedule of going down about 7-7:30pm and waking up between 7-7:30am.  About 5am she wakes up and I nurse her and she'll sleep for a couple more hours.  I'm praying this sticks around.  I'm guessing she likes her bedroom of a closet.  I guess we could have bought a smaller house.  

This picture cracked me up.  Are we already posing for senior pictures?
...tilt that chin a little more to the right...
Maddie has spent her first Sundays in the church nursery.  (I know...9 months?  Alaska is more kid friendly during service.  When the lady in front of us kept turning around our first Sunday back in Houston, I knew it was time.).  I didn't even cry.  She's just growing up so fast.
Everything ends up in my mouth. I mean everything. Yum.

My growing babe loves to eat! Goodness, that was probably the biggest topic I discussed with our new pediatrician.  I don't want to over feed her (since she is on the larger end for her age), but apparently that's kinda hard to do at this age.  So I'm not too worried.  She nurses every 3-4 hours during the day still (about 5-6 times total) and eats some veggies, fruit and/or meat at lunch and dinner.  And then devours those little Gerber puffs whenever I need to get something done in the kitchen.  I love that she is starting to feed herself.  
She still has only those two bottom teeth.  Though I'm convinced more are coming in.  She is still such a happy little girl.  Steals the attention of any and everyone who walks by her.  I've met more people through her smiles than ever in my life.  And she loves to talk.  Socialization is not something I'm worried about with her.  I'm thankful for that!

Goodness, I love her. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

living with less

Remember how I was concerned about moving and not having any baby stuff for awhile?  Well, due to difficulties with this house purchasing situation, it's actually being a bit longer than "awhile".  We are now looking at early November (not early October as originally planned) before we get our stuff.

It's bittersweet.  As we may finally have settled and negotiated a house (YAY!!  It makes my heart very happy. This has been a ridiculous process.),  I'm a little disheartened that we have about 6 more weeks before we get to that point of moving in.  Considering my current full-time job is a mom and homemaker - a home would be a nice resource to help fulfill that job description.  I'm sure there will be lots to come on this new house....but back to our current situation.  

We are living with a lifelong friend of Matt's, basically like a brother to him.  He has very graciously opened his home to our little family.  He is a bachelor, so we have more than enough space around here.  We just don't have many baby items.  One positive that Matt has reminded me of during this transitional time (especially when he is trying to find the good in my moments of not so good perspective) is that we really can live on very little.  We had about 5 suitcases when we arrived. And minus a few items that we've purchased to make life a little easier, that's all we've used for the past 3 1/2 weeks.

Case in point...this has been Maddie's bed.  A twin mattress on the floor with pillow 'railings'.  
I think it looks quite cozy.  But when she started rolling around and sitting up in between sleep cycles, I realized that wasn't going to work for long.  Thankfully, my mom had a pack-n-play I borrowed from her this past weekend. So Maddie even now has her own room.  In the closet. :)
 I don't think she minds much though.
 Here's her changing station.  It's very portable.
 Oh and can't forget her rocking chair.
Yep, it's a patio rocker we splurged on for our future backyard that is getting double duty at the moment.

I packed one small bag of toys.  It's a good thing that it doesn't take much for her to be entertained right now.  Who knew the laundry could be so amusing?
Today my car arrives.  I'm excited to think about the endless doors of entertainment that will open to us both.

We've had a few rough patches as we adjust to all the changes, but overall she has been a trooper.
But now the official countdown can begin to seeing that beloved, packed moving truck pull up to our new place.  Trust me, this could be more exciting than the countdown to Christmas.  And that's a bold statement.