Feathered Aspen


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Late Fall

And now it’s the beginning of December!  It’s hard to believe that in just a few weeks, we’ll be welcoming another little girl into our family, and then there will be three updates to include!  But for now, let’s talk about Lily and Lu, because it’s been ages:

Lily

At four and a half, Lily is looking very grown up!  I swear that every time I pause to just take her in, I’m stunned that I have such a big girl.  How did that happen?!  She is so tall and lovely, I’m sure no one expects that she’s four, and instead assumes that she’s five or even six…  She certainly doesn’t wear anything in 4T anymore!  These days, she’s firmly in the girls’ section, wearing clothes meant for kids ages 5 – 7.  She towers over the other kids in her class, and I’m finding that her hand-me downs are much to big for Lu, who is still a little mini.

I made a resolution about a month ago to stop complementing Lily on her appearance.  Full stop.  I know that sounds a bit drastic, but I’m actually feeling pretty good about the change.  Joshua and I had started to notice a series of comments and behaviors from ourselves as well as Lily that were appearance-focused, and we just realized that we don’t want Lily to feel like her value is so wrapped up in her looks.  It also feels like a completely pointless topic of praise because there’s very little Lily does that contributes to her looks.  I know that culturally, Americans (and millennials, sigh) tend to lavish on the praise, and it’s certainly a strong temptation for us as well, but we’ve had lots of conversations about what types of praise we feel most comfortable doling out.  For example, we give ourselves carte blanche to praise process, effort, or behaviors that demonstrate perseverance and compassion.  Now, instead of complementing Lily on her looks, I try to pause and replace the complement with praise along these lines or just a simple statement of love.  I’ve had a few slips, but actually, I’ve been doing much better than I thought I would!

Oh, it’s been much too long since my last update on this girl, so I’m sure to miss some golden nuggets, but I’ll try my best:

  1. Has started calling me “Mommy-ette.”  Ha!  Definitely a riff on Daddy-o (which he’s pretty much called exclusively by both girls) and her own name.
  2. Eats cuties by the dozens.
  3. LOVES swimming and asks to go all the time.  This is definitely her happy place.  Hm.  Wonder where she gets that from?
  4. LOVES stories.  Books AND those told by mom and dad (and guests!  We run out of story juice, so it’s nice to pass along the request to Grandmas and Grandpas and other visitors :))
  5. Playing “doctor” is still her favorite, but more often than not, she’s wrapping up baby dolls in scarves and blankets and laying them down for “naps.”
  6. Still a champion sleeper.  In fact, we’re regularly calling her a “sleepy bones.”  She easily sleeps two hours at nap and 10 hours at night.
  7. Insists that pink and purple are her favorite colors (eye roll, but whatever.  I’m hoping if I don’t make a big deal about it, it’ll pass.  Luckily she’s willing to wear other colors!).
  8. Loves play dates.
  9. Loves her yoga class especially.  She’ll often pull out the yoga mat and announce, “Boat Pose!  Star Pose!  Fish!  Shavasana!” as she performs each pose.
  10. Has become a bit lukewarm towards her dance class, but has been practicing “Silver Bells” for her performance this weekend, and watching that child twirl about the room as she practices is…  All the heart eyes.
  11. A fairly good eater, although I’m often bargaining:  eat your broccoli and you can have macaroni and cheese! Finish your salad and you can have the bread!  One thing that impresses me is that she’s pretty good at monitoring her own sugar intake.  The other day, she told her dance teacher, “I’m not going to have a piece of candy today because I already had some ice cream.”  Ah!  Success!  Sometimes I feel like we could be doing way better in terms of diet, but other days, I feel like she’s on a good path.
  12. Lily is a self-proclaimed vegetarian.  She used to eat bacon too, but about a month ago, she decided that she needed to be a purest.  We really respect her choice to go meat free, though I’m hoping she doesn’t discover veganism for a while😉
  13. LOVES to help me cook.  Stacy just recently gave us a kid’s knife, and Lily is all about chopping veggies, pouring, measuring, and mixing.
  14. Did I tell y’all that Lily can ride a bike?!  On October 30th, we bought her a “bike with pedals” from the thrift store, and THAT NIGHT she biked down the alley all by herself.  It was pretty crazy.  I guess stryder bikes really do🙂
  15. Can be the sweetest big sister and play with Lu for hours.  Yes, she can also pick fights and refuse to share, but let’s look on the bright side!  I adore their sisterhood.  Last night when I went to check on them, Lu had her head on Lily’s chest and they were fast asleep, snuggling.
  16. We’ve had a ton of guests in the past month and a half, and each time they leave, poor Lily is heartbroken.  This child has such a big heart and loves her family and friends so much.  She’s definitely got all the big emotions, but I’m happy to report that tantrums are mostly a thing of the past.  These days, we have other fish to fry😉
  17. Lily’s drawing and painting skills are really taking off!  She can do a bunch of basic shapes and she even did a sweet family portrait the other day (of us in a magic forest!).
  18. Our big struggles recently revolve around whining (lord preserve us) and freaking out rather than using our words and explaining what we’re looking for and need.  We had a rough patch last month, but the past couple of weeks have actually been really, really good.

Lu

You guys.  This age.  So good.  Lu’s language is taking off more and more, and she’s so much fun.  She’s still a little peanut (as demonstrated when I was going through hand-me-down boxes and realized that she fits better into 18 month clothing…), but she’s also trying her very best to keep up with her big sister.  A couple of days ago, we walked out the gate on our way to the P’s, and she looked up at me and announced, “I run all the way to Ellison and Bierstadt’s!”  And she did!  She ran the whole way, and she was red faced and breathing hard by the time she got to their front doorstep.

Last week, we went to the dentist for the first time for Lu and the second time for Lily.  The first time for Lily was sort of a nightmare, but on a friend’s recommendation, we went to a different dentist, and this place was great.  They were so good with both girls, and they actually loved it.  Lily had a full teeth cleaning first, and then Lu just hopped up and wanted the whole shebang too, even though they were thinking they’d ease her in for the first visit.  It was a great visit, except for when we discovered that although Lily’s teeth are pretty much perfect, Lu has not one but two cavities on the backs of her front teeth!  Gah! I felt so bad.  And now we have to get them filled😦  Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been pretty half-assed when it comes to dental hygiene and our children, so it should really come as no surprise, but in my defense, I’m super arrogant.  I didn’t go to the dentist for over ten years, and I’ve NEVER had a cavity in my life.  And Lily, who has been subject to all the same (bad) habits that her little sister has been, got off scott free.  Anyway.  I have been reformed.  We’re now brushing twice a day and I bought those super wasteful little floss sticks.  Joshua thinks I’m single handedly causing climate change by that purchase, but then he picked up one and flossed his teeth with great drama, making it obvious that he has never really flossed his teeth and the wasteful little floss sticks are the inspiration he needed to begin😉

Okay, another random list that will certainly miss some of this glorious stage, but hopeful capture some of it:

  1. Loves the purple, grape-smelling play dough at her “school” (the day care I bring her to for an hour each T/Th while I swim).
  2. Good sleeper.  Tends to nap for about an hour and a half, but then falls asleep easily at night and sleeps for a good 10+ hour stretch.  She also loves to “hide” in her blankets before nap time, falling asleep buried and then waking up sweaty.  Ha.
  3. Loves playing with her big sister.  I often see her cooking in the kitchen and playing with babies or pretending doctor with Lily.  On days that Lily is in school, Lu will start asking about when we’ll see her within a couple of hours, and just before nap, she’ll start to get sad because she misses her.
  4. Easy to please.  On the days that Lily is in school, Lu and I spend an hour at the gym, hop over to the grocery store on Tuesdays, and spend some time cleaning on Thursdays.  I take time to read with her or include her with lunch prep or cleaning, and on Thursdays, I’ve been taking her swimming with me for 30-45 minutes after I swim my laps.  But the thing I notice most is just how content she is to go about daily life.  She’s entertained by simple things like good company and even chores, and as a result, she makes an excellent, easy going companion.
  5. Affectionate.  Lu will almost always freely give me a smooch or a hug when I ask for one, which is often🙂  And that girl gives great hugs.  She hugs her daddy when he gets home from work, and when we have guests, it doesn’t take long for her to warm up.  Really, this is true about both girls (although Lily can be a bit more judicious in her smooch and hug giving).
  6. Steals all of my grapefruit and kombucha.  Wants my tea and even my salads.  If mama is consuming it, it’s automatically more delicious😉
  7. Likes blueberries and bananas (4ever), oatmeal (her biggest meal of the day), lara bars, cheese, clementines, apples, pears, olives, pickles, nuts, and dried cranberries.  Obsessed with bread and cheese.  Will usually eat eggs, avocado, steamed carrots and broccoli, and most squashes.  Likes beans and rice.  Ate fish last night, but not a huge meat eater.
  8. Still using the big girl potty very well, and even sleeps now without a diaper.  It’s been nice to get this reprieve from diapering before this next baby!
  9. Has been complaining of “tummy aches.”  We’re not entirely sure what this is.  Sometimes, it seems like she’s hungry and a snack or a meal solves the problem, and often we ask her if she needs to sit on the potty, and more often than not, that works.  But then there are the times when she’s in trouble or doesn’t want to do something, and her tummy hurts!  We suspect it’s a catch-all phrase for discomfort.  Just this morning, her tummy hurt and she threw up, so I guess it can also mean just that.
  10. Her language is really developing!  We’ve noticed an increase in fluency and sentence complexity, especially in the past couple of weeks.  I really love this stage when she starts expressing herself more and copying so many of the words she hears us say.  She’s also fairly easy to understand, although sometimes I’m squinting my eyes and frowning and crouching down face to face, just giving my very best effort to understand something, and it’s not quite intelligible.
  11. “I got it, mama.”  She’s getting more and more independent with things.  Also, “I careful, mama.”  As in, back off.  I can see you’re worried, but I’m going to do this anyway.
  12. Great climber!  Loves climbing features on playgrounds and the new ladder on her bed (which is epic.  Joshua mostly, with a small bit of help from me, made this gorgeous lofted “nest” for the girls that includes tree branches and a fort…  So it’s making all of our childhood dreams come true).
  13. Loves shakes, even her daddy’s (which don’t taste as good as mine ;)).
  14. Gentle.  Lu is pretty good at sharing with other little kids.  I’ll often see her hand over a toy when she sees another kiddo crying.  She also is so careful with other babies – I’m hoping this holds true for her new little sister!  We have struggled a bit when it comes to sharing with her sister, but otherwise, she’s pretty good at this so far.
  15. Still a mama’s girl.  Whereas Lily started experimenting with rejection and phases of intense preference for certain individuals around 18 months, Lu hasn’t done much of that.  She seems to be able to engage with others without also needing to reject at the same time.  I really don’t say that as one being better than the other (although Lily’s version was more painful!), but as just two unique and valid social progressions.
  16. Looking forward to school next year.  She loves exploring Lily’s classroom, and she wants to do all the same drop off rituals, like washing her hands and taking off her boots.  Between the short stints and day care and her familiarity with Lily’s classroom, I have a feeling she’s going to take to it like a charm.
  17. Overall, I feel like Lu’s strengths are:  ease, equanimity, contentedness, and self-possession.  I have no idea where she got those traits from.  I identify much more with the feelings of anxiety, worry, and even melancholy I sometimes see in Lily.  I often joke that things will get much easier in about 25 years for her…  That’s about how long it took me to start getting a good handle on those traits!
  18. Although some days it feels like we have few struggles, there have been patches where I think, “where is my easy going child?!”  The two weeks just around Thanksgiving were one of those patches.  We had a couple of tantrums, lots of tears and lots of “I’m upset, but don’t you dare comfort me!!” type behavior.  Luckily, we seem to be back on the happy train this week, but man!  When it hits, I realize that adding a third could be a real doozy!

Well, we have less than a month, and I’m fully expecting things to shift pretty dramatically for a bit, but this is where we are right now, and it’s a really good place.  I’m so grateful to get to spend this time with our girls, they really are such gifts, and this stage of parenting has been more ease than struggle.  Here’s to one last holiday season as a family of four and getting ready for life as five!


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An Election Reflection

I began writing a post on Election Day, and since then, I’ve attempted to begin again, but I’m finding it to be a challenge.  Should I write about my emotional response?  Should I catalog the events?  It’s hard to explain the shift that is happening, and this has never been a terribly political space.

I think perhaps I will save those details for conversation, and I must admit that this is partially an act of cowardice.  Conversations are fluid, and when I encounter new ideas, I can modify my own.  I can adjust as my perspective shifts and the facts emerge.  Part of me hesitates to write down the emotional response or the series of events, because I know that they are an imperfect snapshot – maybe a glimpse of my political ignorance, my white privilege.  It would be easy to find fault with my response.

So instead, I will say this:  the election was a wake up call.  It revealed to me my own complacency and made me question the motives and character of my fellow Americans.  It was strange to wake up one morning, taking for granted a whole series of suppositions:  that we lived in a country that honored everyone’s right to marry, that recognized a woman’s need to govern her own body, that struggled but ultimately chose to value diversity.  I’m embarrassed to even admit that these were my suppositions, because since the election, people who have been along the front lines of these civil rights issues could have told to me about the sincere obstacles they were facing, had I only been asking and listening.  I chose to believe that people were mostly good, and given the opportunity, they would make choices that benefited everyone and not just themselves.

I still believe in everyone’s capacity for goodness, but I have since been forced to acknowledge also our capacity for ignorance, selfishness, fear, and hate.  I believe a man was able to mobilize a group of people – many of them ignored and hurting – by appealing to these lesser and more malevolent capacities.

So here are some of the things that have helped me make sense of this election:

  1. Michael Moore’s eerie prediction that Trump Will Win.
  2. Krista Tippet’s interview of Ruby Sales, Where Does it Hurt?
  3. A funny and disturbing illumination of the Electoral College.

And here are some of the places I look to for information and ways to participate:

  1. Southern Poverty Law Center 
  2. Sierra Club
  3. Bernie Sanders
  4. Asking my friends to inform me about rallies, protests, or volunteer events (because I’m just not a Facebooker).

For my next post, I’ll be returning to reports on family life and the girls, but I also felt that I needed to acknowledge this event in our lives.  I hope that it inspires us to love harder and speak up for the things in which we believe.


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The Pregnant Landlords

Well, our second trimester came and went without much glory…  I may be deluding myself, but I seem to remember feeling a bit more energetic and enthusiastic with the first two pregnancies.  While my nausea did abate and I had more energy than the first trimester, I can barely count on one hand the number of times I thought about forgoing a midday nap.  And I’m still not staying up much past 9, so I feel a bit like a sleepy landmonster.

About a month ago, I started having this sharp pain right around the middle of my spine and I was feeling huge…  Luckily, the pain hasn’t reappeared (except during a long car ride or at the end of a really long day) since week 26, and though I’m waddling by the end of the day, when I look down at my belly, it feels about right for 29 weeks.  I think that’s just how it goes with each successive pregnancy – you get bigger faster, but eventually it’s all about the same.

With the anterior placenta, it took a long time to feel regular, strong movements from out little girl.  At even 17 and 18 weeks, I wasn’t sure I was feeling her every day (whereas with Lu, I felt certain I was feeling her as early as 14 weeks).  But in the past couple of weeks, the movements have been strong enough to shift my whole belly and be visible to others.  Now when I lay down or sit for a bit, I’m almost guaranteed to feel her move.  And that, my friends, is the most magical part of pregnancy.  So strange and so exciting.

This morning I noticed my linea nigra for the first time, and I’ve been seeing the mask creep onto my face the past couple of weeks.  Despite all my best efforts to eat healthy and work out regularly, I feel like I have this winter coat of extra weight everywhere on my body.  I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me, but with my third pregnancy, I also know that this is what my body does to get ready for baby and it’s not excessive and it doesn’t last forever.

The working out is going well.  We were all hit with a bout of the flu last week, so that slowed me down, but otherwise, I run as much as three consecutive miles (woohoo!), and I try to cover 4-6 miles each day running/walking.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I swim laps at the Rec Center for 40 minutes.  It really is so wonderful to be weightless and engage in a form of exercise where the bulk of my belly doesn’t slow me down much.  I can still do flip turns and I just swim at this easy pace, four strokes and a breath, the whole time, covering 35-40 laps.  I can’t say it’s terribly rigorous, but I do feel like it’s a workout.  The only thing I wish I were doing more of was strength.  I’ve had the intention of doing arms and lunges and squats, but…  Yeah.  That’s hardly happened.  Also, yoga.  But I’m thinking that might be part of my birth prep in the last 6-8 weeks.

Looking forward, it’s hard to believe that there are just 11 weeks left until our due date.  Between visitors and holidays, the majority of our weekends are already planned out, and though our to-do list isn’t enormous, I am starting to feel the urge to really get ready, emotionally as much as organizationally.

I know that organizationally, everything will get done, and if it doesn’t, that’ll be ok too.  I still remember that saying from my prenatal yoga teacher when I was expecting Lu:  “babies are born with a sandwich in their hands.”  And it’s true.  There’s not much stuff that you truly need when it comes to babies.  Something warm to dress them in, diapers, a baby carrier and a car seat…  Love.  That’s about it.  Mentally and emotionally, though.  That stuff is important.  I think taking care of your head and heart and doing a little prep there before baby comes is so important, and we haven’t had much time for that recently.

…two week intermission…

Haha!  Where was I? Oh yes.  Mental and emotional readiness.  And I think I was about to tell you that mentally and emotionally, these past few months have been a whirlwind.  Well.  Two weeks have past and not much as changed pregnancy-wise, but as we gain distance from July, August, September, and the first week of October, I am feeling a bit more mentally and emotionally grounded.  Not quite ready, but better.

July, August, and September were just nuts.  After we got back from Bryce Canyon, Joshua jumped into renovations on the basement in our second house.  We decided not to rent the upstairs during the renovations and turn the renovations into a larger single family rental, rather than the up/down rentals we had initially considered.  And even though forgoing a kitchen in the downstairs meant saving on time and money, it still took forever.  Joshua worked, and worked, and worked…  And then he worked some more.  At first, he took off two days a week to spend time with us, but by the second week of July, we knew our plans for a finish date of August 1st were way too ambitious.  So then he started taking just one day off.  And then teacher training started, and he worked M-F at school and spent most of the weekend in the basement, working.  By mid August, Joshua had worked a month straight without taking a single day off, and it was becoming clear that even a September 1st rental date was out of the question.

So he kept going.  We brought out Papa and then Grumpy.  We had a work day and bribed our friends to come over.  For a couple of weeks in October, the girls and I were over there doing as much as we could do, too.  Joshua was at the house after work during the week and all weekend.

By the time I listed the rental, it was September 23rd, and although it wasn’t completely finished, we felt assured that we could pull off the last touches by October 1st…

And then came two very, very stressful weeks.  A year and a half ago when we had listed just our two bedroom, one bath, there had been FLOODS of e-mails and voicemails with interested and motivated potential renters.  And it wasn’t cheap.  But here comes our mistake.  Rather than doing our research, we assumed that we would be able to rent a four bedroom, two bath, single family home in an up-and-coming area for quite a bit more.  It has double the square footage, a large deck, three large family spaces, and a fenced in yard.  Initially, we thought that we would be able to rent the place for 50% more than we had last year, which would make the last three months of hell…  Worth it.  We could pay for a vacation!

48 hours in, we had no responses, and with a heavy heart, I dropped the price $200.  Another 48 hours in, there was only one hopeful lead, and then that fizzled out.  With October 1 approaching fast and the thought of floating the mortgage and losing rent for another month over our heads, we dropped the price another $200.

It was the magic number.  Calls came in and we had at least 8 showings.  The impossible (renting the space by October 1) started to seem possible.  And then an application came in asking if we accepted housing vouchers.

God knows why after all of this we decided to look into housing vouchers, especially when we had two other applications with no such requests, but we decided to look into it.  We had gotten a good feeling from the person applying, and something in us just said, try it.

So with whirlwind efficiency, we filled out an RFTA (Request for Tenancy Approval) which is about 20 pages of questions about us as landlords and about the property.  Our very motivated potential tenant submitted the document to the DHA (Denver Housing Authority) the very next day, and we waited to schedule an inspection.

Although it typically takes two weeks after submitting the RFTA to get an inspection, they expedited the process (yes!  Bureaucracy that can move fast!), and we were able to get an inspection on October 4th.  The inspector walked through the home, opening each of the windows and peeking inside appliances.  When she was through, she announced that she would be back at the end of the day to see that we had installed a thumb lock on the back door, a railing on the steps downstairs, and hung our fire detectors.

And she did.  And then together, the inspector, the tenant, and Joshua signed the lease.

So it was a little bit crazy, and we were nervous the whole time that everything would fall through, but it didn’t.  It worked out.  And you know what?  I feel pretty good about the decision we made to take a risk.  It seems like every report I hear or read on Denver housing and real estate says that gentrification is a huge problem, and the rising costs of housing are pushing out families that have lived here for generations.  So it feels good to be part of the solution, rather than the problem.  We’re providing housing to good tenants who deserve to be able to live and work in the town where they grew up.  And as independent providers of Section 8 housing, we’re offering a nice, newly remodeled single family home in a mixed-income neighborhood, rather than an apartment in a building designated for public housing.  I’ve taught many students who have lived in “projects” like those, and I think most of them would agree that these were not nice or safe places to live.  It was a learning process for us, but I’m glad we had the experience.  If you’re curious and would like to learn more, here’s a link.

What else, you ask?  Well, we took a quick 7 hour drive up to the Black Hills to see our friends, the Devanes, for a weekend in between submitting the RFTA and scheduling an inspection.  So that was both wonderful and a little terrifying to still have everything in limbo.  Once we got back and managed to finally rent the house, we breathed a sigh of relief.  Or rather, I did.  Joshua returned to work and felt overwhelmed by a growing list of things to do at school, so he worked late a few nights that week to catch up.

And then that weekend – the first weekend in nearly three months that we anticipated spending time as a family together, just the four of us, we got nailed with the flu.

On Friday night, Lu puked.  By Saturday morning, I was puking.  Joshua took the girls (Lu had a quick recovery) to go have fun at the pumpkin patch, but Lily was having a resurgence of what was definitely not food poisoning and had hit her on Wednesday.  On Saturday night, Joshua began puking.  This particular bug was a lovely little two-fer.  24 hours of nausea, followed by 24 to 48 hours of feeling somewhat better, and then a little 6 resurgence.  I puked again on Monday night.  Yum.

So yeah.  I think that’s where I left you guys.  We had just emerged from the flu, and from three months of overtime, single parenting, missing Joshua, and just generally feeling like we were totally in over our heads.  And then realizing that after all of that, we are in the exact same financial position we were in last year, month to month.  Because while the basement will certainly add to the value of the property and pay off when we sell, the increase in rent just manages to balance out the increase in our mortgage we took on in the spring when we refinanced to take out money to renovate the basement…  So yeah.  No sweet little vacation bonus there (she weeps).  It sucks, and we’re sad, but I’m also feeling like, well!  It’s done!  We don’t have to do it again!  And it sucks!  But moving on!  We’ve got lives to live, dammit!  We survived on this budget last year, and we’ll do it again this year.

You see what I mean?  Not the greatest mental and emotional preparation for welcoming a new little munchkin into the family in 9 weeks. But that being said, I’m already feeling better.  Two weeks ago, I was just on the other side of everything and feeling like I was getting my bearings.  And now if you asked me how things were going, I’d say we’re doing fine.  Which reminds me of something people say about women and their ability to completely forget/gloss over massive amounts of misery and pain…  Should we talk about labor?!

Haha.  But really.  The other night, I was having some insomnia, and I was all like, oh shit.  I have to give birth in like, two months, and man.  That’s gonna hurt.  And then of course I have this internal struggle like, “no!  Don’t say it’s going to hurt!  It’s going to be fine!  If you think it’s gonna hurt, then it’s gonna hurt!”  And then I’m all like, “but it hurts!  I can’t lie!”

Ok.  I’m going to end this post here with some photos of the rental.  And then I’ll be back for updates on Lily and Lu.

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Our old bedroom

Our old bedroom

The girls' old bedroom

The girls’ old bedroom

I do have new pictures of this space sans all of our stuff.  In the new photos you would see the big ass new house they built in the lot next store.  Seriously huge.  It's a side-by-side duplex three stories high that sold for half a million for each unit.

I do have new pictures of this space sans all of our stuff. In the new photos you would see the big ass new house they built in the lot next store. Seriously huge. It’s a side-by-side duplex three stories high that sold for half a million for each unit.

I'm sad to say our previous renters didn't appreciate pink nearly as much as I do and the "pink room" is now grey...

I’m sad to say our previous renters didn’t appreciate pink nearly as much as I do and the “pink room” is now grey…

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There's the cypress mantle Sarah brought us from NOLA

There’s the cypress mantle Sarah brought us from NOLA

Entryway

Entryway

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More kitchen love

More kitchen love

Joshua designed and bought everything from Ikea and then installed it with the help of his dad.

Joshua designed and bought everything from Ikea and then installed it with the help of his dad.

I miss that farmhouse sink!

I miss that farmhouse sink!

Gorgeous kitchen and huge island.

Gorgeous kitchen and huge island.

Upstairs bathroom

Upstairs bathroom

Front living room (back when we were living there!)

Front living room (back when we were living there!)

Back bedroom on first floor.

Back bedroom on first floor.

Stairs to the basement (now with a railing ;)

Stairs to the basement (now with a railing😉

New bathroom in basement with shower installation by Grumpy

New bathroom in basement with shower installation by Grumpy

Large family space in basement.

Large family space in basement.

Large bedroom in basement with egress window and structural supports.  All by Joshua (with help from his dad).

Large bedroom in basement with egress window and structural supports. All by Joshua (with help from his dad).

Back deck/back yard.

Back deck/back yard.

Huge back deck.  Perhaps too huge?

Huge back deck. Perhaps too huge?

And that’s a wrap.  Maybe someday Joshua will put up a post about everything he did, but I doubt it.  I think he’s too bruised from the whole experience.  He really did an amazing job.  I can’t believe everything that went into structurally reinforcing the space, electricity, framing, plumbing, drywall, floors, the deck…  And I’m sure a bunch of things I don’t remember or never really understood in the first place.  I never cease to be amazed by his DIY skillz.

And finally, a huge thanks to those of you who helped us:  Papa Tim, thank you so much for the kitchen and the help with all the windows.  I know that Joshua appreciated getting to spend quality time with you and that your expert help was a huge life-saver.  Grumpy Dave, thank you so much for helping with the back part of the house and the bathroom downstairs.  Both the company and your reliable skills are so appreciated.  Mark, Joshua’s former co-worker, put in quite a few hours tuck-pointing and doing other odds jobs, and David spent hours in the sun digging out the egress window.  Our friends, Weston, Mark, Will, and Melanie came over for a long work day and helped clean and finish the deck, and my mom spent hours cleaning the house from top to bottom.  Dan, my mom’s boyfriend, nearly broke his back working on the deck and clearing out mountains of debris from the back yard.  Thank you, thank you so much.  We couldn’t have done it all without you, and having company made it all a bit more bearable.  Compensation in the form of plane tickets, low hourly wages and pizza doesn’t seem nearly enough.  We love and appreciate you guys.

***And now, at the end of this post, I’m realizing what a weird combination of themes we have here…  Pregnancy and renovation.  Although, as my friend Chelsea said, it wouldn’t be an Andert pregnancy if there weren’t renovation involved😉


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25 weeks with baby number 3

Steamboat Springs was dreamy. Two full days of spending time with the four of us, all the gorgeous colors of fall, and even a few hours in the hot springs… We barely took any photos but stopped to snap these on the side of the road on our way out.

In some ways, this pregnancy feels like a blur, but in others, it’s in slow motion. Every day I try to lay with my hand on my belly just to feel her move, to memorize the feeling, and to start to get to know this little girl without a name. It’s a little bittersweet. Those moments are a brush with another world and something sacred. Others are spent agonizing over the sharp ache at mid-spine or feeling thankful that first trimesters are a thing of the past.


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Grey morning

Lily’s photography🙂

23 weeks

Sweet sisters. The one on the left is potty trained and accident free for over a week! So impressed with her. I really can’t take any credit! 

I’ve been a bit blue this morning. Missing Joshua and feeling a bit sick and getting frustrated picking up messes and finding the patience for the whining and arguments between the two girls. It’s funny, but I have such a “girl” response to feeling blue. I look in the mirror and project all my feelings of dismay and frustration onto my appearance. This selfie was from the other morning when I was feeling the same way and tried to solve matters by doing my makeup…. I’m a weirdo, I know.