Monday, February 26, 2018

Kitchen Remodel


This kitchen renovation has been a process over many years and through many life situations. So take a turn with me down memory lane, if you will.

We bought our house in 2013 as a foreclosure. By the looks of it, it was a rental. It was in "very good used condition" as most all the issues were cosmetic. But in our eyes there were lots of cosmetic issues.

In my eyes the biggest cosmetic issue was the kitchen. It had good bones as it was a totally open kitchen (which I loved and still do) but it needed a face-lift in every aspect. Walls were the hideous Band-Aid brown that was on allll the walls downstairs, cabinets were honey colored without any hardware for the doors or drawers, countertops were a hideous "emerald city of oz" (as I dubbed them) laminate, under the bar was a gross honey laminate, flooring was sheet vinyl, sink & faucet were basic builder grade, and appliances were okay (though the electric stove needed to become gas asap).

I wanted the kitchen renovated before we moved in, while we were still living with my grandma. Jason said it wasn't gonna happen, pick another area of the house to complete before we move in... so I picked the master suite. That was a good choice. Our bathroom is my favorite bathroom in the house :)

But for a few years that kitchen was like a mosquito bite that kept itching and I needed to scratch but couldn't. Finally while Jason was on deployment and my grandmother (whom we had lived with to be able to afford this house) was in the process of dying, I needed a stress relief, I needed to accomplish something. So I took to the kitchen and painted all the walls on me lonesome with the company of The Wonder Years. I had Jason facetime in to judge the color with me. I painted one section of wall 4 different colors before settling on just the right shade of turquoise.

2015 ended with Jason coming home from deployment and the beginning of 2016 marked the start of the countertop revamp. Jason built all the countertops from scratch. He built the bar top and the section by the stove that winter/spring leaving only the counter area by the sink that hideous emerald green. We were also able to replace the nasty honey laminate under the bar with wainscoting (one bead board, whatever you wanna call it).

But then life happened.
Jason's dad being diagnosed with brain cancer mid-2016 brought our home renovation plans to a halt so that we could help in any way needed.

He passed before we could share the joy of knowing we would have a child.

When we saw that positive pregnancy test in January of 2017, the first thing out of my mouth was "that kitchen has to be finished before this baby gets here."

Y'all think that's crazy, but I didn't want an incomplete kitchen forever and I knew having a child would only make home renovation projects more difficult. And I wanted. that kitchen. done. Wanted to know I'd prepare food for us as s family in a completed kitchen. Wanted the mental peace of a complete kitchen.

So Jason completed the countertops and we hired someone to paint the cabinets (as I had painted all the exact same type of cabinets in the bathroom and knew how AWFUL they were to paint, plus pregnant).
Our awesome friend Greg helped us install our stunning farmhouse sink from IKEA and our gorgeous industrial faucet.

When Jason was home on leave during deployment, we found some close out clearance vinyl tile and couldn't resist it for the kitchen. It sat in our office upstairs for two years before being installed.

We did groutable vinyl tile in our bathrooms and they turned out fantastic, so we thought we'd have the same results with another vinyl tile. However, these were a different brand, weren't groutable and were 18" instead of 12". These ended up being major differences.

The floor turned out terrible. Tiles peeling up or moving around. It was a mess. We tapped out. We actually ended up returning the remaining tiles for about what we paid for it originally thanks to some Lowes system glitch, so it wasn't too terrible of a mistake financially, thankfully.

We decided to turn to a professional to do our floors and hired a dear family friend to do our tile floor. But we kept out watch for affordable tile.

I follow the crap out of our local Habitat for Humanity ReStores for good deals. One month they got a BUUUUNCH of porcelain tile in... and there so happened to be a groupon for the restore at the same time. Long and short of it, we ended up getting some gorgeous tile for about $0.75 a square foot... which was about half the price of the other tile we had wanted.

The flooring was just finished this week. All the appliances are now back in.

And the kitchen. . .
The kitchen is done.

It's so unbelievable to be able to say that.
And y'all, it looks unbelievable too.

So after that long winded introduction, here it is!


when we bought the house (2013):

phase 1 repairs - install gas lines and gas stove, add hardware to cabinets and drawers, paint walls (also changed both light fixtures, not pictured) 

phase 2 repairs countertops, laminate board under bar - ps look at this sexy handyman who loves me so much that he does all this work (and looks soo fine he's at it)

phase 3 - sink, faucet, cabinets painted, new (to us) fridge, crap floor



Sunday, December 24, 2017

Dear Son

Dear Son,
A year ago you and your grandaddy shared space on this earth for the last time although none of us had any idea about you yet.
One night in the first couple weeks after you were born, momma had a dream that she was talking with your grandaddy about you and how quickly you get so fitful. Your grandaddy simply said, "oh just sing or play some music and he will calm right down!"
Guess what, he was absolutely right. And anytime you calm down to music or singing, I see him, in my dream, telling me that.
He knows about you, son; he told us how to help you. He's clearly met you, and I wish you could have met him. I wish he could have sang to you to soothe you, shared his joy of music with you. He would have said how so many things about you are so "neat." He would have seen what an amazing father that your daddy is to you, because he learned from one of the best. He would have loved you oh so much, son.
And now he lives on through you and your love for music. And we will tell you many stories to help you know him better. And we will make sure you love puns and corny jokes as he did. And I hope and pray you have the desire to know your Savior as your grandaddy desired. And one day we will all worship that Savior together in perfect harmony. Until then, we will try to do our best to raise you to know you are so loved and to love others as He loved us.
I love you, my precious boy.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Birth Story

Well first of all let me say this -

I highly disliked being pregnant. 

Not only did people say unbelievably stupid things to me throughout (see that list here), but for the most part I felt terrible, mostly due to edema (swelling from water retention). I gained 60 pounds total, and I guarantee half of that was fluid. 

So when I tell you that I made sure I did everything within my power to ensure my baby was evicted from me after the safely deemed time as quickly as possible (see that list here), I want you to understand my meaning. 

Now, while I didn't have the issues that some women have while pregnant (a ton of morning sickness or insomnia for example) I did have mild SPD/PGP which is when there is an abundance of the hormone relaxin (hormone that allows your bones and muscles to move) that causes your pelvic bones to separate too far. Thankfully my case was mild and only affected me when sitting/laying sideways. You could hear my pelvis clack together when I rolled over in bed. Super fun. 

You're starting to get that I really wanted this baby out.

So when my due date of Sept 7 came and went, I had already officially gone through the five stages of grief. I had been in denial that this baby would come early, I had been angry each day that baby didn't come, I had bargained with myself (you're sure you want a low intervention birth? because you could get induced!), depressed each day I didn't get to meet my baby yet and was still so enormous... to finally... acceptance - I will be pregnant forever. That's simply it. 

But this was obviously untrue. 

Apparently when hurricanes are nearby, though, they are very helpful for pregnant ladies looking to give birth. The barometric pressure causes water to break oftentimes. This was the case with myself and many other women in the Richmond area the weekend I gave birth with hurricane Irma nearby. 

Another tidbit - I'mma be honest - I was super terrified of these hurricanes coming and hitting RVA during the weeks leading to the birth of our child - you have no idea how many prayers were said against those hurricanes.

Yet another random tidbit - I did not want a September 11th baby. One friend had joked about it, but I genuinely didn't want that. It appears my body and hurricane Irma helped that to not happen! 

My water broke at 7:40am Sunday, Sept 10. I was asleep, and then suddenly... I wasn't. The dam had burst. I had NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON YOU GUYS. But I started shaking Jason awake and yelling "AH BABE WAKE UP I THINK MY WATER IS BREAKING!" He ran and got a towel, and proceeded to say "oh good Lord this is torrential" - yes it was. And thank you, mom, for using your carpet cleaner to clean our rug while we were in the hospital. 

Called the midwife and my doula, they instructed me on what to do and look out for. If no contractions by noon, call back and we'll talk about castor oil concoction. No contractions save a few tiny ones that didn't continue. I tried to rest as much as possible. Jason had just finished the front porch recently and demolished the back porch, so he had to build the back porch and did so that morning. 

Took the castor oil amount as directed, made a runny pb&j with the castor oil in the peanut butter. It was terribly glamorous to eat. I was then directed to stay upright for 30min then take a stroll for 30min, and I did so. Came back from my stroll and talked with Jason about the progress of the porch, he wanted my feedback on some things. So there I am, standing on the back deck in one of his shirts and my leggings and I begin doing hip circles. After the first one (which also marked the hour mark since I had taken the castor oil) - BOOM massive contraction at 1:30pm. I said "eeeh time to go inside." More contractions ensued, I called Jason in and said that we needed to decide how we were going to tell people that we were going to the hospital. We decided on a plan, and we both worked toward getting to the hospital when we were instructed to.

My contractions started off ten minutes apart and quickly progressed to 3-5 mins apart just over an hour. We had planned for Bailey (our doula) to be there for the mid/end of early labor and help us decide when to go to the hospital. Talking to her on the phone, she thought I needed to ask my midwife if she should just meet us at the hospital due to the rapid nature of my labor. Midwife Leslie heard me go through two contractions on the phone with her and said "Tell Bailey to meet you here."

Somehow I got down the stairs and to the car, I only remember the contractions - one just before we opened the front door and one as Jason began backing out the driveway in which I apparently said, "don't you dare reverse out of this driveway while I have a contraction." He stopped and waited til I said go to do so (our driveway is hella steep). 

I don't remember much of the drive except for when we got downtown... because... hills and potholes. Hills... and...potholes. Something along the lines of "f*** these city roads" I think was said? The ramp/bump up the parking deck was super fun, I remember that. And I remember saying just before each of the contractions in the parking deck, "I get to see my baby soon, I get to see my baby." That made it more manageable. Finding parking near the elevators was a challenge, but he did it, and he got me a wheelchair, and we got in that elevator and got into the hospital. Somehow we were redirected by a staff member to the emergency room instead of L&D like we had asked. This staff member took us OUTSIDE on the BRICK (read: bumpy af!!) sidewalk to get there. I. was. angry. about. this. We knew there was an indoor route to L&D but couldn't remember. 

They checked us into the ER... then we went to L&D?! L&D informs us we can't be checked in there until we are checked out of the ER and that I (THE ONE IN ACTIVE LABOR) needed to fill out 7 sheets of paperwork. I. was. done.

I decided to mentally escape by trying to text Bailey to see where she was, I needed her as my advocate and to keep me from killing this desk clerk. Jason began his forgery with the paperwork. As I was in the process of texting her, like an angel sent straight from heaven, I feel a hand on my shoulder - it's Bailey! By some miracle we arrived at the same time. I was so relieved and said, "oh thank God you're here, they won't let us check in" - just then the L&D nurses come through the double doors and tell the clerk to shove off and then whisk me away. 

I ask about the tub for the first time there (but had asked over the phone too) "is there a tub room?" 

"Yes there is, even though we are experiencing a baby boom (Irma!). And you get one with a view!"

I did not care about the view much at the time, but it was very nice in retrospect. 

"When can I get in the tub?"

They had to check my vitals and all the things, get my IV going (GBS positive yay) before I could get in the tub. This discouraged me. I don't remember much of what happened before the tub, I think I was on the birthing ball at one point? I remember seeing Jason look a bit white-washed at one point and asking him if he was okay, he said he was fine. He never gives a different answer than that. 

"Can I get in the tub now?" I feel like I asked this 8 times, it was probably only 3 or 4.

Eventually I got in the tub. There were no handles nor any sort of nonskid surface so I was sliding all around, and I just looked at Jason. He knew, and he went and quickly changed into his swim trunks. He got in there with me, literally had my back. 

Most may not know what a feat that was. 

Jason had a scarring experience in childhood that left him completely traumatized and disturbed by all things childbirth related. This is why we had a doula, so she could be the advocate for both of us and both of our needs. 

The midwives and our doula were so shocked and proud of him as they said most partners refuse to do that, they can't handle it. But there he was, my strong husband, scarred and traumatized from his childhood, there in the tub with me, helping me through each contraction. I couldn't have done it without him, and I couldn't be more proud of him. 

At one point I remember asking, "Am I in transition yet?" - Jason corrected me - I asked, "Am I in f***ing transition yet?"

Ah, the mind recalls in funny ways ;) 

I was not in transition at that moment, but I was about to be. Apparently (from Bailey's perspective on this), Leslie, the midwife, had planned just then to take some time for herself and do some knitting as she thought we'd be there a while and that weekend's baby boom tuckered her out. She had just grabbed her things when she heard me involuntarily begin pushing... (I had no idea what I was doing). This surprised Leslie. This marked the beginning of transition. 

She told me to get out of the tub. I'm sure you all know how thrilled I was to do that.

So in the state of VA, it's not within the law for a hospital to allow a birth in a tub. You can do that in your home, but legally per this state, they consider it a liability for the hospital. So... you have to get out of the tub, Joanna. So I did, begrudgingly and slowly and had a couple contractions, but I did. 

And Leslie sent me to the birthing stool... which I had no idea about until that moment. I didn't like it, but I dealt. I pushed, and apparently made a lot of progress quickly. Leslie said I needed to move to the bed on all fours, I said I didn't want to, I didn't want to move again, I didn't want to use my legs. And Leslie, being the right mothering type of midwife I needed, "do you want to tear?" "no." "then go to the bed" "okay."

A few more pushes (half an hour total of real pushing) and our baby was here at 7:19pm. 5 hours and 49 minutes of labor and delivery for my first child. 

Fun fact: Jason knew the sex of our baby since week 20 and I did not. I wanted the surprise. I wanted that to look forward to as the additional prize at the end of my labor (and I abhor gendered clothing and toys for babies, I find it ridiculous). 

So for half of my pregnancy my husband knew we had a son and I did not. But we didn't lie to anyone. When people asked if we knew what we were having, we always said "We don't know, it's a surprise" - WE did not know, only he did. 

They did not say, "It's a boy!" when he came out. I said, "What is it?!" They said, "Wait a second and you'll see!"

They slid my baby up to me. There he was. 

"I knew you were a boy." 

Those were my first words to my son, Quinn. 

And we soaked up our son for the first time. We didn't cry. We were all smiles. 

Leslie could not have foreseen that I'd end up tearing regardless because this child came into the world in a GQ pose - having his elbow come out at the same time as his head. Yes... yes. All is well, healed quickly, no issues. Praise. 

He went to feed right away, no problems. Of course he was hungry right away, look who his momma is! The golden hour (no medical work on the baby for an hour while they lay on you, skin to skin) was golden. And then we found out that he was 7 pounds 11 ounces, head 34cm diameter, supposedly 22" tall, but pediatrician then said 21" so I think he was 21" at birth. 

Our lovely doula went and got us food and our family members came and visited before we were whisked off to the recovery room.

It was the best labor and delivery I could have ever asked for. I'd truly do it all over again if I didn't have to endure 10 months of pregnancy. I really found that to be more grueling (really the SPD/PGP and edema are what killed me). L&D was SO empowering. While I thought I could do it (because, frankly, I had to), I didn't know how I would thrive in bringing my boy into this world (with the coaching and support of a great team). It is truly amazing what a woman's body can do to bring a beautiful baby into the world. So ladies - don't let the horror stories get you down. It can be done all natural, it can be fast, it can be done with only pain and no suffering, it can be done full of power and strength. You're more than capable. And even if it isn't fast and fantastic - that baby truly is totally worth every moment that leads up to you first meeting them! 

Friday, October 27, 2017

A few things learned during pregnancy

Just wanted to take some time to share what I've learned and what helped me during pregnancy.

If you ever have the joy of enduring a summer pregnancy you'll know that enduring swelling may be your biggest battle. I gained 60lbs during mine, and I'm sure half of that was fluid.

Previous to being pregnant I battled water retention during the summer, so I knew summer pregnancy would be a greater challenge with that.

Lemon Water - My first line of defense is only drinking water. My midwife recommended adding lemon to the water, somehow helps your body absorb the water better and flush out what you don't need. I found this to be super helpful.

Dandelion root - capsule or tea. Helps flush all that excess out.

Swimming - this is what always worked for me when nothing else did; thus I was swimming often.

Try setting a time for water & walking. Try to get moving every 20 min or so. It's exhausting but worth it.

Also.... This may sound bizarre, but literally was the only way I survived so don't knock it til ya tried it lol. Dry brushing and lymphatic drainage massage.
That's the dry brush I got and it's fabulous.
So the lymph system is similar to your circulatory system except there's no pump like your heart with the lymph to move the fluid. So you have to do it yourself, usually done naturally by movement. But when you start retaining water it taxes the lymph system. So dry brushing helps - you start from the outermost areas (feet, hands) and brush toward the heart. Do this before a shower. I still do this daily as it helps so much, and I've noticed how much it's helped tighten my loose skin that was stretched during pregnancy.

And lymphatic drainage massage - there's several great videos on youtube, I enjoy these as Heather is very thorough and soothing :)

Many have asked how on earth I had such a short labor. Everyone is different, but these are the many things I did to help my body have a fast, healthy birth, who knows what exactly did it, I threw everything at it!

Sat mostly on a yoga ball at work from about 26 weeks onward when my SPD/PPG started. Then around 30 weeks I would intentionally bounce and do hip circles.

By the way, SPD/PPG is when your body has made too much relaxin hormone (what causes your bones and muscles to move to make room) and your pelvic bone separates too much. I had a mild case that thankfully only pained me laying on my side (rolling over you could hear my pelvic bones clack together), but many women are unable to walk due to this.

Borage oil, evening primrose oil, raspberry leaf caplets, and Dr. Christopher's birth prep.

Ate 4-6 dates (I got pitted dates because I don't like dates to begin with due to texture so I didn't have the patience for pits) a day starting around 36 weeks.

Did cat/cow yoga positions to alleviate my SPD/PPG but apparently that also helps all those muscles prep properly.

When my contractions had not started after 4-5 hours after my water broke, I was advised by my midwife to take castor oil. I will not give the recipe as I believe you should only do this under advisement, but it certainly worked. Literally an hour on the nose right after I took it, I skipped early labor for the most part and had very large contractions starting at 10 mins apart and then rapidly (within an hour or so) got to 3-4 mins apart.

Now that you know all that, enjoy the birth story!

And if you missed out on the stupid things people said to me during pregnancy, you can find those here.

Pregnancy is weird

Pregnancy is certainly the most difficult thing my physical body has had to endure. Not the most difficult emotionally, thankfully. I've had too many terrible life experiences for this to break me down mentally.

But things certainly wear on you.

Having total strangers comment on your appearance in public certainly makes you feel like you did in middle school, being bullied by people you don't even know. Only this time they're not meaning to bully, it just brings back all those lovely feelings. Especially being constantly stared at while in public. I distinctly remember when everyone stopped making eye contact with me and only stared at my belly from then on. It was around 26 weeks or so.

Here are some stupid things people have said:

"Are you as uncomfortable as you look?" -old lady (my reply was no, I'm just really melodramatic *keeps walking*)

"There's gotta be twins in there right?" -approx 25 ppl have said this

*while entering shopping area, car literally stops and rolls down window to say* "Don't you know she's about to give birth?!" -random woman driving, please go away

"Oh are you going to do that weird, hippy, millennial, water stuff?" -entitled middle aged white woman (please go get a diet coke before you say something MORE stupid, and yeah let's use millennial as a negative adjective for water again)

"you wouldn't even know from behind that you're pregnant, you're so small, but from the front... we won't talk about that" -different entitled middle aged white woman. don't think a diet coke will help any of that.

*in movie theater that has plenty of seating available* *leans back in seat to only what it can lean back to* person behind me: "I have long legs and I'm uncomfortable" (said to me at 37 weeks pregnant, and they had seen how very pregnant I was, and STILL I considered moving my seat until I was like HELL NO. they moved 2 seats over instead)

"You havin a boy, I know it" -random 9yr old girl in walmart...

That's just the ones I remember at the moment.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Musings of a Prego

Pregnancy realizations:
First time pregnancy is like filling out an application for a job you know you're not qualified for and getting the job and having 9 months to prepare for taking responsibility for another human being's life that you've never met and you have no idea how to be responsible for.
In those nine months you essentially go through a massive and condensed adolescence in which you have no idea what's going on with your body and you'd just like to cross your legs or do your toenails.
[ and how did women do pregnancy without the ability to google if what they were experiencing was normal?? props!  ]
Then there's this alien moving around in your abdomen, and you're like... Kato? Dat u? Open ur mind???
Then put your body through the equivalent of a car crash while the other human being that just came out of your body also went through the bodily impact of a car crash. You just meet em, and two days later you take them home forever (or at least 18yrs).
And your body will still be seemingly unrecognizable to you and still doing things you're completely unfamiliar with even after you've gone through this process.
And allegedly you'll like it all so much that you'll want to do that again?
My logic and reasoning side really has no idea what's going on. It is very confused by this whole ordeal and doesn't necessarily know how to prioritize with so much going on. So many decisions, so many feelings, so many preparations to make. Sometimes, I'm not gonna lie... sometimes I wish it was all back to normal. Sometimes I wish my life wasn't about to change 100%. I really have a hard time comprehending it.
This is why having the second ultrasound helped me so much and made me wish I could do that more often. As a visual learner, it gave me a visual to go along with all this craziness.
It made me see, that's - that's my baby. It's really there and really moving. Look at it's tiny toes.
I don't know how you mommas did pregnancy without ultrasounds, without seeing this little person before you met them?
We're in third trimester now. Midwife was concerned as baby kept trending ahead in size so she ordered an ultrasound to ensure nothing was wrong with the baby.
So we got to see the little squish today. And they're perfectly fine, just measuring slightly bigger than average (currently 3lbs) for this time frame, but nothing abnormal.
Look at this face. Look at my lil squish. Look at that lil nose.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

20 weeks

You guys, Serena Williams announced today that she is 20 weeks pregnant. I always knew we were so same - successful, super ba chicks.

Today I'm 19 weeks, 6 days, tomorrow being 20 weeks. Or so they think.

Had the second (and hopefully final, as no more are necessary unless something is wrong) ultrasound today for 20 weeks. That day I was 19 weeks, 6 days and baby was measuring at 20 weeks, 5 days. Supposed to be around 10.5 ounces, but that day was 14 ounces. So either a whopper or joining us earlier than we expect. I'm hoping for the latter.

This baby is so much bigger than last ultrasound. It made it much more real to see it's little hands and little feet more distinctly. To see he or she opening their little mouth (even tho they kinda looked like a dementor when they did, which is kinda appropriate​ since they're literally sucking life from me) and moving their hands away and toward their face. Seeing them in 3D, seeing the chambers of the heart working. Hearing the tech take measurements of the brain and saying this is a smart baby.

I have not felt definite movement yet, I'll think something is movement but then I'm unsure. The tech and the midwife said this baby moves a lot, so when I do feel it, "I'm in for it" ...whatever that means. I'm just going to hope and pray this child won't affect my sleep too much, that we will hopefully synch up with our sleep.

It was a lot of feelings today. I'm very glad Jason was able to be there last minute, to see our baby one last time before we meet them in person.

Now I wanna see this baby every appointment though. Shame you have to pay for that ;)

Look at these creepy pics of the adorable alien dementor baby

Dementor baby