Second Edition…

Its been a while since I wrote anything because lettuce be real-  Momming is hard.  Adulting is hard. And housing a growing baby is the hardest of them all for me right now.

No excuses- I need to get my thoughts out on -er- paper? Screen?

After we had our first baby, when the excitement and the newness wore off to everyone else (because, honestly, as parents does the excitement and newness of our littles ever wear off…) , the ever popular question always seem to come up:

When are you going to have another!?

I always met this with a laugh or a dramatic breath and shrugged it off.  But in reality, I was furious.  I would think of the last couple months and the journey it took to get her here, if they knew what we went through they would never ask that question!

This is a totally irrational reaction but it made me think of why I specifically never ask other parents or non-parents that question…

So here is our first born’s birth story… just in case you ever find yourself near a new mom and asking her when she’s going to have another baby.

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

33 weeks 2 days along- Biweekly Check-up:

I felt something was wrong when the ladies at my doctors office looked at me as if they were trying to hold back tears.  This doctors office delivered me decades before, these ladies were like family.  I had dangerously high blood pressure and low fluid.  We were going to meet our Tenley within 24 hours, ready or not.  Before I knew it, our regular checkup quickly turned into a first class ticket directly to the hospital.

We could not be any more “not ready”.  My Mom was on business a state away, my sister was on vacation on a beautiful bluff hours from home and here we were hunkering down for the night waiting to meet our girl scheduled for delivery the next morning.   Everyone raced to get there.   I wanted to go to Target and eat some take-out after that check-up… How did we get here…

As our family began to trickle in, worried face by worried face, I started to get worse.  I was sure it was just nerves and told them all to go home, get some rest, this fun would continue till morning- they won’t miss anything.

Then Miss Tenley decided about 2 a.m. enough was enough.  I was barely holding on to my liver and my blood pressure was about to reach stroke status.  The flurry of nurses and doctor’s were overwhelming.  Each one of them yelling out terms and codes.  My husband frantically on the phone calling our family- telling them to get here as soon as possible.

I was rushed to an operating room, meeting my mom and dad in the hallway as if we were in some Lifetime movie.  Everyone was quiet in the operating room.  When you go to Hospital classes on childbirth they do not prepare you for the emergency scenario- no no, you get the unicorns and rainbows one.  And if you are reading this and have never experienced don’t worry, the emergency one isn’t that dramatic.  It will honestly be over before you even realize what you went through-

She was perfect.

2 lbs 15 oz…

15 inches long….

I was diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome and Preeclampsia.  She on the other hand had no problems whatsoever; born at 33 weeks 3 days she required no oxygen, no feeding tube and her IV was removed within 12 hours…

I was not well enough to leave recovery to see her for 13 hours, and even that took a family friend in maternity management and a threat that I would walk there myself if they didn’t help.  I held her for an hour.

25 hours later I was transferred to a room across from the nursery where I was able to hold her every 3 hours for 1 hour.  Never without monitors attached to her heart and feet, and never without full blankets and hat.  But I held her every second until the very last second.

My discharge date approached 3 days later.   I went home at 1 AM after her feeding.

As we pulled into our driveway I cried for the first time.   You get to bring your baby home with you from the hospital when you get discharged… This wasn’t part of our plan.

We would return at 5AM (yes I made it four whole hours without her)-  Vacant delivery rooms, storage closets- whatever they had we would find perfectly comfortable just so we could stay around her.  We lived in the hospital for the next 11 days.

At 3lbs 9oz, she was deemed strong enough to come home.  They brought in a car ‘bed’ from a hospital upstate to transport her home.  We had a cavalry of volunteer firemen and friends making the 13.4 miles home as safe as can be.

She was home.

And now she is five?

When I look back at how the Boy and I handled Tenley’s birth- I am blown away- We are so much stronger than I give myself credit for.  Why have I been scared so long? Seriously though- As parents you are constantly judging yourself and comparing to other parents.  Why do I think I couldn’t handle a second birth as well as we did our first?

Pregnancy is not unicorns and rainbows- It’s not always 40 weeks and you wont always deliver when you want.  You are told what foods to eat, how to exercise and all the risk factors you may encounter.

You can’t predict how each day will end you just have to go for it.

So when they ask:

When are you going to have another!?

I finally have an answer-“if not now, when…”


Christmas is in how many days?!

I believe there are two kinds of Christmas shoppers in this world.

  1. The one’s that make their lists and have it all bought by Thanksgiving and wrapped by St. Nicks Day.
  2. The one’s who shop up until Christmas Eve and settle for whatever is available; socks and weird dishtowels… you get me, right…

The latter has been me for the past few years, and I cannot tell you how glad I am to have made a change last year.

Did you know baking for the holidays can actually be fun?! Or that there is enough time in the season to read every Christmas book to your littles and you don’t have to stay up after they go to sleep finishing your lists.  When you know you’ve gotten the perfect gift for that special someone you can relax and spend time with your little family all season long, not spend it shopping.

Enter the best find of possibly my entire gifting career… Jord Watches.

This company creates the most remarkable wooden watches I have ever seen.  They engineer using the highest quality products and craftsmanship.  They make unique men’s watches and women’s watches that catch your eye in an instant.  I couldn’t believe it when I first laid my eyes on one online; this would be the perfect gift for my husband!!

As you may know the Boy has done all the interior work in our home.  The wood staircase, the wood floors, the wood built-ins, he even hung a 200 pound piece of Cedar on our fireplace by himself to surprise me one day!  What you may not know is his career is also in woodworking.  He finishes the interiors of custom aircraft for people from all over the world.  Working with these beautiful species of wood from across the globe with names I forget the moment he tells me, but he is amazing at it.  He’s that kind of person you envy because they genuinely love what they do.  I’m almost positive he would do it for free.




This year, with Baby #2 on the way, I was even more concerned about getting everything accomplished.

A wood watch… it is from the heart, it is unique, and it is perfect.

Now who else can I buy cool watches for on my list (besides me…)

Jord Watches have given my readers a 25% Instant Gift with the foll


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What Came First- the Chicken or the House?

Building a house is HARD.

The End.


No but seriously y’all- the last month almost took all the ‘hard-ass’ I had left in me.  The white towel was ready, it was at my hip… it was wadded up and ready to chuck at the first person to cross me.

If you’re wondering where I’ve been the last couple weeks here it is…


That was our front porch… after they demolished it. What a mess.

The front porch- Dream porch, wraparound porch, focal point porch… that porch- was poured incorrectly.  We noticed soon after we moved in the issue.  It was not acceptable to building standards and we fought to have the contractor correct it at his cost.

And we won.

The porch was jack-hammered into a million tiny rocks on a Thursday and taken off the front of our home in a demolition style melee.

It may sound silly- it is just a piece of concrete.  And we won right?! This was a huge victory. There is no reason to be upset… Until you watch the way your daughter looks at it as though they’ve broken everything about her beloved new home.

Every struggle relating to the build up until this point, we could hide from her.  The build became a temporary evil.  Josh (the hubs) and I had successfully shielded her from thinking that the house had been nothing but a textbook build.  She never realized we were four months behind schedule, or that we had furniture and belongings split up into 3 gracious hosts homes plus 2 storage units, or that I spent her entire hour of gymnastics practices fighting with subs all with a smile on my face so she wouldn’t notice through the 2-way mirror that I was done- so done.

Until this.

I failed to cope with any of it.   Complete disbelief.   We moved in, our home was beautiful, we started to get back into our own little routines again, LIFE WAS SEMI-NORMAL AGAIN… This isn’t happening?

I vetted every sub-contractor.  I had references… I visited prior jobs… I did everything they warn you about.  There were supposed to be no hiccups once it was finished.

Now, this is the part I would usually give you a list of things I learned from this story or experience.  But there is only one thing I learned. (and a list of 1. is just awkward)

         What came first?- You, or the House?

Josh quickly reminded me that we are bigger than this hiccup.   He took the reins after letting me pilot the majority of the build (by my choice you should know I’m a bit OCD).  He handled the scheduling and the decisions.  He packed us up and took us on a weekend trip were Tenley could play in the river and remember that we are together.  Forget the rest.

I didn’t ruin our daughter.  I didn’t disappoint her.  I showed her that you fight and you keep fighting until you get what you want and what is right…

It is not lost on me that a porch should in no way be held in comparison to life lessons.  It’s silly when you think back about it.  But the journey to get there was everything.  And you know I am all about that journey.

We did not have a textbook build.  And if you are building the way we did- from the ground up- remember that no one is perfect.  You’re going to have problems.  In the end you will be better for it.   You will be a stronger family, stronger person and stronger inspiration to those who love you.

The cedar posts will go back up and we will be able to finish our lawn and get back to our version of normal.  I can’t promise that our normal doesn’t include a crazy toddler playing in the hose on said porch…

It was so worth it…


The ‘Stair’ that Broke the Camels Back

Have you ever watched that show “Renovation Realities”?

It’s the show where two people pitch their idea to this network on how they are going to DIY something HUGE that clearly needs a trained professionals help, and let the network record every train-wreck-moment of it…

Ten minutes into the show you are hooked on how they are possibly going to finish an entire kitchen re-install with only 3 days of vacation left. then their babysitter cancels and they have a three- year old running around screaming banging pots and pans stored in the living room because they tore apart their whole kitchen because some random you-tuber told them they could do this project in a week.

Know what show I’m talking about?

This was my life… for THREE MONTHS.

The project that would have won us an Oscar on this show though would have been the Staircase of Doom.

Horror Film? or New Staircase Build?


Now rest assured we left all the structural components up to the professionals- Carpenters put in our basement and first floor stringers- leaving for us the ‘pretty stuff’ … like treads, risers, balusters, railing and sanity.
Do you know how many code requirements are on a staircase?- It’s not like sticking some tile on a backsplash DIY- Noooo NO.  Whip out your High School Geometry Books folks.  I’m about to take you to school:



5 Things I Learned DIY’ing a Staircase

  1. Get Over Your Fear of Heights Right Now.
    • I was so terrified of that ledge.  I’d get that mad-helpful tone and cringe until we were done being close to the edge.  But the fear just meant it took longer to do.  Get over it.
    • ACTUALLY here is the PC statement:  Use proper safety precautions and consult a professional.
  2. A Jig is not just an Irish Dance
    • The calculation to find out how many balusters per stair was pretty simple- once I wrapped my head around that fact that I was building a staircase.   Measure from the back of the tread to the front of the tread and divide by how many balusters are needed on that stair-  not something you want to do on every stair-  Make a JIG.  I used a scrap piece of wood and drilled the holes for the perfect spacing so every stair was the same.  We even used one for the rail.  Ten minutes prep saved hours of measuring, plum and leveling.
  3. Don’t plan on finishing over a weekend…
    • This project took weeks. Granted we were doing multiple projects at one time with work and a four year old literally riding her tricycle up and down the hallways.  Even without the daycare atmosphere, I still believe it would have taken weeks because of drytime of the stain and varnish, measuring, angles, etc..
  4. Grab your partner, dosido…
    • Think about a staircase in your mind.  Now think of yourself at the top, then think of yourself holding the handrail that goes alllllll the way to the bottom by yourself.  Get a partner. And tell them they’re awesome, doing great, nice butt.
  5. Know your Codes-
    • This is the most annoying one of all.  Different counties have different codes and your city might be different than what county requires… find someone that knows your codes.  Call your inspectors office with the county early in the morning.  Chances are you ill grab them before they leave for the day and get all the answers you need.

Hello 29, Again…

The Boy celebrated his 30th- *ahem* 29 Again- Birthday over the last week.

Our first party in our new home.

I am a bit of a freak about my cooktop and countertops still.  I covered all of them with tableclothes and towels.  Not Kidding.

Tenley was the ‘hostest with the mostest’… omg did I really just use my mothers saying out loud…  guhhhhh _cringe_

“Mom, they need more watermelon out there!”

“Tenley, you just took a whole cut up watermelon out- there are only 4 people here-the party does not start for another 20 minutes…”

On and On and On… until she passed out in our bed at 11:45pm.


The week afterwards she kept telling me she wanted to make a cake for Dad for his birthday.  So off to the store we go.

Tenley knows a couple of things in this life for her are certain:

  1. She’s fought harder in her first days on Earth than some people will in a lifetime- (Y’all will learn more about this when I get a lil braver)
  2. “Mommy will never let you fall” is a literal and figurative statement.
  3. Daddy’s favorite color is Pink

Not saying #3 is true but my golly she is certain about it…

Things I’ve Learned Baking With a Toddler

(I like numbering things… if you haven’t noticed…)

  1. Teach them how to read ingredients.
    • Any chance I have to make her follow directions I do it.  Pillsbury and Betty Crocker make it so easy for you: they put pictures for their ingredients!
    • One day, when I have my ‘stuff’ together- I’ll make all of my favorite recipes into a Child-Friendly book so she can do this with her children too…. did i just say that… am I already making plans for my grandchildren. gosh 30 is offically that age when you think of this stuff?
  2.  Put your OCD’ness aside.
    • She cracks the eggs for me every time. Whether for breakfast, cakes, brownies… Shes cracking them.   Her technique has improved but my goodness the egg gooeyness is all on her hands and the table and her clothes and she might touch something I don’t see and SALMONELLA IS REAL PEOPLE.
    • The kitchen is an absolute mess afterwards.  But look at her smile.  There’s enough bleach in this world to conquer cook times in this household if it means I’ll get that smile.
  3. Let them show their creative side.
    • She picked it all out- from the confetti center to the pink frosting.  I learned when Tenley was very young that she is a force to be reckoned with.  She was adamant that this would be the perfect cake.  I look at baking a cake for him and think of the what if it had this filling and this mixed into the icing and how that is uneven that is not going to look right.  She sees a cake and that it is perfect.  Their worlds are so much simpler than ours at ’29 again’

…and she was right… he loved it…



The Other 7 Things I Learned From Our IKEA Kitchen Build…

So you have all 200 of your boxes accounted for and in order.

You have read your instructions.

You have your work-space clean and open

You are ready to build…

HERE are the OTHER 7 things I learned from our IKEA Kitchen Build:

    • You are going to be doing this all day, possibly all week if you have distractions like children, pets, lives or needing to eat to survive.  Depending on how many cabinets you have give yourself the time you need.img_8457.jpg
    • For us- we have a new construction- so we were able to pre-make a lot of our bases on a random Saturday night before the kitchen was ready for us and had them in a trailer.  Even with the prep work, we still spend a good week in total building and installing.
  2.  Is there another word for organize?

    Tenley sitting in our sink… watching Trolls… #parentingwin

    • There are baggies of screws and clips and covers in each box…. 234 boxes= 234 sets of screw, clips and covers.  I’m not joking.  The folks at IKEA are genius because they have figured out an affordable way to include every variation of a cabinet in one set- but the 234 baggies of screws they did not give any heads up about.
    • Save your extras until the projects complete.  The bag you throw away will be the first bag you need at 2am when you’re trying to finish up.
  3. The Peg Legs- flawed or fabulous?
    • There are these little black legs that come with the base cabinets that I completely hated when we started installing.  Why are these here?  Come to find out if you install them correctly they can be used to shim and shore up the bases.  Use them.  Use them correctly.  Like putting lipstick on a pig, they can straighten out that one horribly uneven cabinet that just doesn’t fit as well as the others.
    • We did opt to build our own island base and screwed them directly to a 2×4 base.  Don’t complicate it.  Measure at least two inches in from each exposed edge you will need a toe-kick and build a 2×4 box for the ground and add fillers on top to clear the toe-kick.  I researched this island build for days… and when i asked the boy what we should do he literally had it built in 20 minutes.  Keep It Simple Silly.
  4. Find all of your Appliance Installation manuals BEFORE you build the cabinet-
    • We went with IKEA appliances for cooktop, oven, microwave and dishwasher. The only reason I didn’t pick their fridge is because the cabinet depth french door did not have an ‘in-door’ ice option at the time.  First-world problems I’m aware.
    • Find the Manuals for these ahead of time.  If you put your microwave and oven in the same cabinet like we did it was hard to gauge how far the shelves needed to go.
  5. Toe-kicks- Yes, I almost returned them.
    • I don’t like to remember that I almost returned them because now after cleaning the kitchen for a month now not having to find forgotten Fruit Loops hidden under them.  I thought my crafty husband could come up with a cheaper alternative.  As soon as he looked at them he said immediately No.  “No, these are staying-these are going to be great”- somet
      imes he’s right?!?
    • They fit flush to the cabinet fronts and give it such a “built-in” look.  I never would have paid for this from cabinet store and for that
  6. Adjust the drawer fronts at the end.
    • For me, I was so burnt out building I couldn’t stand the meticulous task of making sure every drawer front was within 1/32 of flush and square.  I think I would have broken a door.
    • Thank goodness I did.  When all the cabinets are together, there was not much need for adjusting.  A couple here and there depending on what was beside it and done!
    • Don’t put on the hinge dampers until AFTER you’ve adjusted the cabinets.  Otherwise you’re taking everyone of those things off and on.
  7. Time to Celebrate… or put cabinet pulls on… either way
    • Grab a seat and admire your handiwork. You just built an entire kitchen from 234 boxes.  I think someone said this to me… May have been me… to myself.
    • Open and close the drawers a couple times. It is as fantastic as it was in the store.
    • This is also the time I went through with my registry and marked the cabinets I want to add interior organizers too.  Doing this on your print out will give you dimensions so you can see what size you have to work with when you’re at the store piling it into your bagcartimg_9494

I can remember points hating it.

However, as with everything in our home, I’ll talk about how much I love it far more than I talk about the struggle to get it.

All about that journey.

Tenley Boo Boo

94% of the photos I have of our only child are candid- mostly as she’s studying something or playing.

I took thousands of pictures of her as a baby.  Then she had enough and now at almost five she does not do photos

The photos of her now definitely tell a greater story-

This picture for instance was right as we were moving in.  She loves that she can look out the window at her height.  She was naming all the birds in our field.  And singing the latest Disney song floating in her head.

She wants nothing to do with a camera. There is no candy bar or toy in the world that will even get her to smile when she sees the camera.

Keep naming those birds sweet child- I’ll capture those memories just as you are…

I’ve been looking at different ways to ‘keepsake’ her childhood milestones-  Do you use pictures or paper to capture your child’s triumphs in life?

The First 7 Things I Learned From Our IKEA Kitchen Build…

So one thing ya’ll need to get right now is I have an insane obsession with IKEA… I love that place.  Just warnin ya.  The love runs deep.

I spent 3 hours there my first trip.  I went through it twice.  I feel like I missed things.

It took three more trips, with the boy and Tenley this time, to convince him that this would be our perfect kitchen.  That I could get everything I wanted out of a kitchen with these cabinets.


Tenley was obviously convinced…

Who wouldn’t swoon over this??? Seriously!

Having a kitchen that is 90% drawers is pricey.  On average our bids from cabinet and kitchen shops in our area were 35-40% higher.

I wanted that money for other things.  So it was time for sweat equity.

Here are the first 7 things I learned from our IKEA kitchen build:

  1. Prep more than you did for your ACT/SAT/PHD/CPA/and ADULTHOOD combined!
    • Do not think you will go there one time and sit at the desk and design your kitchen and be out in an hour.  If you do.  Then good for you.  But no one is giving you a medal cause you just a show off and you probably forgot a shelf and you’re going to look stupid putting your cabinet together with no support shelf………… WOAH! got that out of my system.
    • Practice the layout online in the tool and have it ready when you get to the store.
    • Make friends with an IKEA Kitchen Planner Employee.   They will not catch everything- and neither will you-  but once you’ve been through it more than once you will have it narrowed down.
    • Buy during a Kitchen EVENT!  We saved 20% when we purchased during a Kitchen event.  They usually run at least twice a year around March/April and July/August.
  2. Organize, Organize & Organize some more…
    • However you organize- ORGANIZE… and if you are not an organizer then keep reading cause you going to need to start.
    • For me- it was a binder with the following tabs:
      • Floorplan-with locations of plumbing and lighting.
      • Drafts– chronological lists of the kitchen drafts in order with newest on top-  I never threw away the old until the plan was locked down- and the online editor lets you duplicate the plans so you can keep the old ones incase you need to go backwards without redoing it all.
      • Must-Haves- Make a registry of all the items you want in your cabinets now or in the future.  This way you can plan the cabinets with the capabilities and acquire them as you go or all at once.  IKEA Registries are free and online so two birds/one stone when your Housewarming Party comes around!
      • Reciepts- Keep them all. You can look them up if they are lost but it is so much easier as always to keep these receipts.
  3. Team Work Makes the Dream Work
    • Our kitchen has a total of 23 cabinets- that was 234 total boxes weighing 3,211 lbs… DID YOU COMPREHEND THAT! Still blows my mind.  Get a buddy- Husband, wife, sister, mother, cousin, neighbor -who doesn’t mind lifting and organizing and buy them a present-
    • Take advantage of IKEA delivery-  It was $79 to deliver and for us this was completely worth it- Renting a Uhaul or your own trailer and moving it again- nope.  This allows you to also cut down on your time in store.  Let them deliver it to your site, or storage unit in our case.
  4. “You can’t eat an elephant in one bite”
    • As I mentioned before Prep is of the utmost importance- and rushing is not going to help you.  Don’t jump into the boxes and start building.
    • Your kitchen will print in a sheet organized by Cabinet number. Organize your boxes by Cabinet.  (I.E. put all of cabinet 3 boxes in a pile and write on them the cabinet number.)
    • Only once you’ve given every box a home should you start building.
  5. Pretend you are a kindergartener and READ ALL INSTRUCTIONS FIRST.
    • I feel like this should be stapled to every box- in huge red letters.
    • Once you have all the boxes organized into their cabinet number READ-THE-DIRECTIONS.  every cabinet base will most likely go together the same way but the way you put the drawers and doors on may differ.   You don’t want to have  change the screws around 5 times.  Measure twice cut once/ read twice assemble once.
  6. Give Yo’self Some Space-
    • Don’t build in the exact same space you’re installing- you will have to hang the suspension rail and having cabinets in the way will just make you mad.
    • Layout the cardboard from the first couple boxes you open on the floor as a padding.
    • Build in the order they are being installed.  Corners will go in first.  And Uppers before Lowers.
    • The tall cabinets can be heavy! Use your buddy and dont try lifting anything yourself because it will bind up the cabinet and you’ll be redoing the work.
  7. Trust your judgement, and the exchange lady at the friendly IKEA counter
    • The IKEA returns/exchange counter is a magical place.  They really are the best.
    • If you’re putting a cabinet together and it feels like is not what you want they will take back ANYTHING!  They will exchange completely built cabinets or cabinets in a box! They do not care.  They want your purchase to be right and they will help anyway they can.  DISCLAIMER: As with all customer service you can get employees that do not care- ask for someone else- they will not want you to leave unhappy.


This was everything we learned before even INSTALLING the darn things.  I could write a book.

For another day though…

Closing Time

Closing week is here… My first actual post now that the madness has calmed… Let’s do this…

christmas house

This picture always makes me laugh.

I set my camera on the tailgate of our truck with a timer and ran to get this picture.

Tripped the first time…

It took 4 more tries to get one without our daughter flailing her arms around…

Josh is holding a wreath because I made him… Like threatened to poke him with a fake garland metal leaf made him…  He loves me.

It was the week of Christmas 2016 and I wanted to remember everything about it. We lived with his Mother while we built and I could not have been more happy to be there during the Holidays believe me.  Her house is like Pottery Barn meets Hobby Lobby during the Holidays and it will be some of my favorite memories but this memory right here will be with me forever.

We were supposed to be in the house by the time this photo was taken…  But schedules slip and contractors are terrible and life goes on.  We never stopped smiling.  We never stopped looking at the bright side.

Look, if you are building or are thinking of building put your bulletproof vest on because it wont stop.   The obstacles keep on coming like anything in life and you have to roll with them or you will look back and regret the journey you chose.

Never regret the journey.

I am going to cry tomorrow in the closing room with our lender.  We won’t get a set of keys in an office and walk into a professionally cleaned completed home at the end of this build.  We literally have cuts, bruises and war stories going into this closing… and I’m pretty sure I lost the keys like a month ago in the garage somewhere when I installed my own doorknobs…


That chapter is over now- we are here… and I cant wait to watch her run in that yard and sit on that porch and him to throw away that wreath when he unpacks it again…

Its about the journey… you have to know what it took to get you there to appreciate what you have.




If it’s meant to be, it will be…

About a year ago, the Husband and I purchased a little piece of land in a small town where we were married.  We packed up our house, our four year old daughter Tenley, and our sanity and moved in with our Mother-in-law while we built our farmhouse over the last nine months.

Now, as we finally settle back into our own version of normal, I wanted to take some time to capture my favorite moments along the way and reflect on our past adventures.   Stay tuned.  There will definitely be some entertainment along the way.