Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Holidays Are Hard

I am one of those people who always loved holidays.  I loved holidays of all kind and couldn't wait until the next one came around.  But ever since Adam and I lost our baby, many of the holidays have become bittersweet.

I found out I was pregnant on Valentine's Day in 2012.  I was so excited to tell Adam about it!  I wrapped up the positive pregnancy test in a little gift bag and gave it to him right before we went out to eat.  Now every year that Valentine's Day rolls around, both Adam and I are reminded of the fact that we never got to meet our baby.  While we try to focus on our love for each other on Valentine's Day, we can't help but feel sadness about losing our baby.  

Our due date was close to Halloween.  So now Halloween serves as yet another reminder that we lost our baby.  It doesn't help that Halloween is all about cute kids dressing up.  Adam always comes home bummed on the day in October when his work hosts all the employees' kids for trick or treating around the office.  

Christmas is rough, too.  It seems that one family member or another is always pregnant or recently had a baby.  Seeing all our cousins around our age with their growing families at family gatherings is just plain hard.  It's not that we're not happy for them or that we don't wish them all the absolute best in life.  They simply serve as reminders that we don't have the one thing we want more than anything.  

It makes it more difficult because we feel pressure to feel happy about the holidays and family gatherings. Sometimes I feel like I should have won an Oscar by now for some of the acting I have had to do.  

And after feeling sorry for ourselves, it inevitably leads to guilt.  We have so many things in our lives to be thankful for: each other, our health, our jobs, our home, our sweet Jazzy and the list goes on.  We feel guilty that we can't seem to focus on all those wonderful parts of our lives.  

But you know what?  All those feelings are normal.  Even though it feels like we're alone in feeling them sometimes, I know there are other people who feel the exact same way.  My goal in writing this post is not to be a Debbie Downer or take away anyone's holiday cheer.  I simply want to shed some light on the topic and let anyone struggling know they are not the only ones.

I wish those struggling with infertility this holiday season loads of hope!  Hope for getting through the low points of the season.  Hope for reaching out and asking for help if you need it.  And hope for happier holidays in the future.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Sprucing Up My Bookcase

I'm a little ashamed to admit that it has taken me years to accomplish this project.  The sad part is that it only took about 15 minutes after it was all said and done!  Allow me to explain...

Here's a photo showcasing an area of our living room that I liked to ignore.  We have this little dinky bookcase that is crammed full of stuff and is falling apart.  

You see, ever since we moved into our house, Adam and I have talked about wanting to add more shelving in our living room.  The bookcase we have doesn't come close to containing all the books we have and it is falling apart.  We have discussed several options over the years but never seemed to come up with a solution.  We tossed around the idea of adding built-ins on either side of the fireplace, but decided they would make that wall too overwhelming.  So, we settled on making our own custom bookcase that would fit between the fireplace and the wall.  However, this project has taken a backseat to some of the other projects we've worked on over the years.

In the meantime, I've haven't paid much attention to the bookcase.  I just keep stuffing books, photo albums and knick-knacks on those teeny shelves.  I even started stacking books next to the bookcase!  

I looked over there the other day and thought to myself, "This is ridiculous!  There's no reason for that wall of our living room to look so janky."  So I decided to do something about it, even if we're not quite ready to start building the new bookcase.  

I realized that I don't need to keep every single book we own on that bookcase.  I can store some books in the basement until we build a bookshelf that can house all of our books.  With Young House Love's recent built-in bookshelves serving as inspiration, I sorted our books into colors.  From there, I put like-colored books next to each other and added in a few decorative items.   

I even threw in a few holiday items like the blue snowman and a snow globe.  It's safe to say it looks a million times better! 


Even though the bookshelf is still too small for the space and it's still a little rickety, it looks far more pleasing to the eye and is way more organized.  And I'm not ashamed to show you what's lurking below our vacation gallery wall now.  By doing this project, I realized I should accept and love what I have at the moment, even if it's not my ideal situation.  I can apply this lesson to my life, as well.  Hooray for decorating (and life) epiphanies!  

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Our Shed Is Shaping Up

Adam and I have lost track of the number of times we've been to Home Depot since the beginning of the shed project, but it's safe to say we make it there at least a couple times a week.  Most of the time Adam goes on his own, but sometimes Jazzy and I join him.  We're not super helpful when we go along, but we do manage to take lots of adorable selfies.  

Jazzy loves coming along.  I think she even knows what we mean when we ask her if she wants to go to Home Depot.     

It's also pretty entertaining to see how many large quantities of lumber and other materials we can fit in our cars.  We end up with all kinds of configurations, like Adam hanging onto a bunch of lumber so it doesn't end up getting stuck in the steering wheel.  

Enough about Home Depot, let's get back to the shed.

The next step was to work on the roof.  I helped Adam cut the felt paper to size and get it onto the plywood roof.  Felt paper goes underneath the shingles and acts as a moisture barrier between the plywood and the shingles, just in case any water gets past the shingles.     

Once the felt paper was nailed to the roof, it was time for shingles.  Adam did lots of research and watched lots of videos to figure out how to attach the shingles.  There are different kinds and different installation methods depending on the type of shingles you get.  You have to get starter shingles to go around the perimeter of the roof.  While Adam was nailing in the starter shingles, I was handing them up to him as he needed them.  I noticed on the package it said something about tearing them in half.  If you've ever completed a house project with someone else, it's inevitable that you will end up in our situation. One person realizes that the other person is doing something wrong.  You then have to decide if you should just ignore that fact and keep going or if you should say something and risk upsetting the flow of the project. Knowing that Adam is the definition of a perfectionist, I decided to mention to him that we weren't following the directions correctly.  

After some cursing and having to undo work that had already been done, Adam got all the shingles installed.  I must say, the roof looks pretty darn professional.  

Next came installing the remaining two windows.  I helped out with this and was surprised at how easy it was and how fast it went.  It's definitely a two-person job since you need someone on the inside to shim it up and someone on the outside to hold it in and screw it into place.  By the way, that black tape is some sort of moisture barrier stuff that helps keep moisture out.  Eventually, Adam will put trim up around the windows to cover it up. 

Now that all three windows are in place, Adam started to hang the cute miniature shutters!  He recreated the cedar shutters from the front of our house in miniature form.  It's just one more way to help dress up the shed and make it look more presentable.  There will also be trim above the window to cover up the black moisture barrier tape and a window box below that I'll be able to plant flowers in.  How cute will that be?!    

Since we plan to keep things like the mower and wheelbarrows in the shed, we needed to have a ramp to easily get those items in and out of the shed.  Adam decided to use some concrete blocks to make a base for the ramp.  He dug out space for them and made sure they were level.  From there he used some boards to create the frame of the ramp.  The next step is to get some decking boards to put on top.  

Adam also started to put up some of the trim on the shed.  He plans to add trim where he had to join pieces of the siding together to cover up the seams and along the edges.  The trim will help add a little more character to the shed in addition to covering up the seams and raw edges.  Once all the trim is up, we'll touch up the siding paint and paint all the trim white.  

It sure is shaping up!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Decorating With Jazzy In Mind

It's no surprise that Jazzy is a hugely important part of my life.  So it shouldn't shock you to find out that many of my home decor decisions are made with Jazzy in mind.  Allow me to share some examples in case you have a four-legged family member to keep in mind too.  

Jazzy has claimed several spots around the house as her own.  Adam and I don't really have a say in which spots she has decided are hers, so we just have to decorate around them.  One of Jazzy's favorite spots is the couch cushion in front of our window.  She picked out this spot when we bought our sectional.  We thought it was cute and didn't really think about what it might mean for the sectional.  Fast forward a year and we now have a permanently-stained, dented cushion.  While Jazzy stays pretty clean most of the time, the top of the cushion where she lays now has a stain on it.  I guess it's from her body oil? Regardless, I haven't found a way to get rid of it.  I can take off the cover and have tried to wash it, but haven't had any luck with removing the stain.  

Enter the throw blanket!  A blanket causally thrown over the cushion adds a little touch of charm while also covering up the Jazzy-shaped stain on the cushion.  Problem solved!  

Jazzy has also taken over our bedroom, in addition to the living room.  She likes to jump up on our bed and sleep on our pillows.  This means I have to put a clean pillowcase on my pillow on the days she picks my pillows.  Instead of telling Jazzy she can't get up on our bed, we have simply chosen to make it easier for her to do so.  You see, our bed is pretty high up and it's a big jump for Jazzy's little legs.  We didn't want her hurting herself while jumping up or jumping down, so we decided to get a bench for the front of the bed to serve as a step for Jazzy.  (I realize we are ridiculous.)  After searching for the perfect bench in the right size, I came across one at Kirkland's.  It was on sale and I opted for the pick up in store option to prevent paying for shipping.  Long story short, it turned out to be a huge hassle and took a month to make it to my house.  The customer service folks I spoke with weren't super helpful either.  If you like the bench, I'd definitely suggest buying it directly from the store.  But I do like it, it's the perfect size and it provides a nice step down or up for Jazzy.  

It's also been a handy seat when putting on socks and a nice perch for the laundry basket when I'm putting away laundry.  So while it was mainly for Jazzy, I get some perks out of it too.  

The final Jazzy-inspired decor item I'll share with you it her giant basket of toys.  It's a bit ironic that Jazzy has a whole big basket for a bunch of toys she rarely plays with.  She'll occasionally play tug of war with her toys if Adam or I instigate playing with her.  But she's never started playing with one of her toys on her own.  Nevertheless, we have a bunch of toys for her.  And we keep them in a tall basket in our living room.  Along with housing Jazzy's toys, it also covers up an outlet and helps fill the open space in front of the sofa table Adam built.  

Is Jazzy spoiled or what?!