Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Framing and Electrical Work, DONE

 New Pantry

 Gutted kitchen with new electrical work

 Recessed lights

Holes in walls, lots of them

We closed escrow two weeks ago and it's been a whirlwind of demo and renovation. So far I'm really pleased with the contractors we have doing this project!! It's been a pretty painless experience and everything has gone really smoothly. 

Now we have to roll up our sleeves and actually do some work ourselves. We plan on painting and putting in some flooring soon. a few days!! 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Elimination Communication @ 9 months

We've been doing EC for about 4 months now.

Yesterday Natasha started saying, "Pppppp....pppppp" to indicate that she needs to poo, or that she already has. Amazing.

Her first words were "Mama." Then "DaDa," and "All Duh (all done)." Now "ppppppp."

It's been a pretty neat ride, though not without some work and perhaps some angst thrown in for good measure. We went through a stage where I was trying to catch every single pee and poo, and that was very tiring for everyone. Her bladder is just too small; she had to go so often.

When we went into escrow on the house, we started using disposables more and more. Now we're on them full-time to make life a little easier because of our upcoming renovation and move.

I would say that the one thing that I have learned in the last few months is that EC does not have to be an "all or nothing" endeavor. You can definitely do it part-time and it still works. I used to fear that doing it part-time meant that I would be confusing Natasha - she would not have a consistent direction from me whether I wanted her to pee in the potty or in a diaper. Now I see that it's not like that at all.

Honestly I do not have time to take her to the potty every single time. So when I have time, I take her; and when I don't have time, well...that's what the diaper is there for. My part-time EC aims at doing the "easy" catches: first thing in the morning, before naps, for all her poos (she's pretty predictable, plus she'll make grunting noises and I take her immediately to the potty), and after coming out of the carrier (she'll hold it, not wanting to pee on me and all). It's a reasonable schedule and I'm happy so far. The most important things to me are that she is aware of her bodily functions, that she is learning to communicate about them consciously, that she is accustomed to pooping and peeing on the potty.

Once she reaches 1 year old, I think perhaps I will go back to cloth diapers...hopefully we'll have moved in and settled down in the new house by then.

Thankful for:
-Closing escrow today!!!! God has been so good and faithful.
-Giggling with the girls while kicking a ball around in the apartment parking garage
-30 free boxes, getting ready to box up our stuff
-family, who gave so open-handedly for our needs, money for a fridge, buying a garden hose for us, etc.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Kitchen, BEFORE

It's very good the kitchen in this house is ugly and broken. There's no place to put a refrigerator here (how did the previous owners live?), most of the base cabinets are free-standing and roll around, there is nowhere to hook up the dishwasher and the kitchen sink does not work. Hmm. 

But, yay for me! It has been a secret life of mine to daydream about a kitchen that I could one day design, specify and install. 

Here's a view of the kitchen side. Somebody had previously knocked down a wall (you can see the ceiling transition from popcorn to smooth). So thanks for doing that. But as for the rest, what were you people THINKING? 

Here's a view of the dining side. Not sure what the chandelier placement is all about. But there's a fireplace in the dining area and I like that the dining is open to the kitchen. 

Kitchen planning here we go!!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"It's Old and Cheap"

Look at what I found as I was going through city records on the house.

Apparently this house took William McKnight $5,250 to build in 1946.

65 years later, it will take me about that much to replace the flooring ALONE, DIY-style. What will houses cost when the kids are grown up?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

An Actual House: We are in Escrow

So after all that talk about being careful not to jeopardize our spiritual house, we are now surprisingly in escrow for an actual house! 

Stubbed toes, we will miss you. Wait a minute, no we won't! At one point, Kevin and I both had bloody pinky toes from stubbing them on things around our small apartment. To get a butter knife while you're in the kitchen, you have to walk over to the dining room cupboard (there's nowhere in the kitchen to store eating utensils), and to walk there you have to step over Noelle's play space right as she's laid out her beautiful pretend picnic. As you tip toe back through her litter of toys, past the pots and pans hanging on the kitchen cart right next to her head, you stub your toe on the kitchen ladder. To cook you move the ladder in front of the refrigerator. To open the refrigerator you have to move the ladder in front of the sink. To wash your hands, you then move the ladder in front of the stove. And so on, and so forth, except repeat scenario a million times in almost every room of the apartment. 

Oh, God heard my prayer alright. He saw my bloody toes. Our need for more space. A backyard to run in. 

The house in not quite ours yet. We are praying escrow closes smoothly. 

God has been faithful to us! 

*Thankful for:
~parents, on both sides, who love us and provide so generously and sacrificially for us
~healthy babies growing into toddlers growing into preschoolers
~baby eating rice, wheat, oatmeal, allergies so far with her!
~smiling, crinkling eyes and nose of a giggly, always-happy Tasha
~sweet kisses of husband, our 5-year anniversary coming up soon!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Building a House

"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." Proverbs 14:1

It's May and the days are growing longer. After dinner, we all go upstairs and I pull down the black out blinds in the bedrooms where we will soon put the children to sleep. Because I've been up since 5:30 a.m. and even though the sun is not ready to sleep yet, I am pretty sure that I am. Noelle cries in her little tub because she can't reach her toy. Yes, I'm pretty sure that she is tired, too. Natasha is bawling on the bed while we rinse Noelle's soapy, foaming head.

Pull down the blinds. Shut the whole thing down.

The children close their eyes and are very quiet for a long time. As long as it is dark, they are quiet and still in their beds. The house becomes like a quiet library again and I can hear the hum of the refrigerator. Finally, rest.

I stay up way too late doing stupid things like looking online at images of kitchens that I would one day like to have. Because I want to live in a house. Not in an apartment anymore. I pour my heart out like water onto hot summer cement. The water evaporates in that barren land and I am left dry and wanting - empty.

My heart is now on the floor.

 The next morning, the day still dark and unwrapped, the baby opens her mouth and cries loud for food. And comfort. And to get out of the wet bottom. And to see the light of day. The sun yawns - awakens - and so it begins!

I feel hungover. I went to bed too late and the only thing I gorged on was Pinterest and Redfin. And my heart is still on the floor where I left it. I get up, feed the baby, and there is nothing inside my heart to give. Then my oldest wakes up from all the commotion, bursts into the room crying. I turn into a frizzle - I am fried and the day has only just begun. My heart is already evaporated. I poured it onto the hot cement last night.

And then this verse comes to mind, "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears her down." The Lord had spoon-fed that one to me awhile back, and I remember it afresh, and it nourishes me. My heart revives with this morning dew, fresh grace from Him.

What does it matter what house I have or don't have? What the Jones have or don't have? What does it matter if I have a big house with a big yard but I have torn down my children's spiritual heritage with my own hands?

What does it matter whether or not they have a backyard to run on, whether I have more than this one foot of counter space to cook on, whether I have a coat closet - what does it matter whether I have all these things for my family yet I don't have a heart that resembles the Lord Jesus'?

My Lord does not care one bit what my house looks like when I die; it will all burn up in the end anyway. And my daughters will not care whether their house was featured on a blog or in a magazine. 

All they will care about was whether I cared about them, loved them, spoke kindly. Whether I hugged them when they needed a hug, prayed for them earnestly, spoke truth and wisdom into their souls. Whether I was present, 100% whole-heartedly there, doing what no other person in the world was created to do: love them, guide them, grow them, in a way only a mother can. A child can live in a hundred houses, from destitute to opulent. But they will only have one mother whose influence will mark their lives forever.

And what of God's opinion? All the Lord will care about is whether I built up my house with love, patience, joy. With truth, kindness, gratitude. Did I tear it down with anger, frustration? Did I tear it down with discontented grumbling? Did I yell at everyone because I thought I was entitled to so much more than what I was given?

Oh, Lord, You see me. You see my wicked, darkened heart. I have often poured my heart out wastefully onto the ground, liberally indulging in discontent and covetousness. But You redeem me with the kindness and purity of Christ. You fill my heart anew with Living Water, with purpose, with focus. Make me the wise woman who builds her house - the spiritual legacy she will leave her children, the environment of love and service that envelops her household - and save me from becoming what I would naturally become, the foolish woman who would tear down her household with her discontent, selfishness, irritation.

Monday, April 16, 2012

What happened that I didn't tell anyone about

Something happened between the time I got nauseously pregnant and the newborn turned into a 5 month old.

That's about one year's time. Maybe a little more than one year.

I am certain that I was miserable during my pregnancy. Cleaning poop off a cloth diaper was one of the hardest things during that time. The nausea, which lasted precisely 38 weeks, all day every day, really left no space for any enjoyment in life. The other hard thing, besides the debilitating nausea - this "I-don't-want-to-be-alive" nausea - this "let's-just-sleep-the-whole-day-because-I-can't-bear-to-be-awake" nausea, was carrying around an unbearably heavy child inside the womb, so heavy that I couldn't lay down on the sofa because then I wouldn't be able to get up again. So heavy that I couldn't sit on the floor without feeling like my pelvis was going to break. So heavy that I couldn't lay in any position, or sit in any position, without feeling pain in my back, my belly, my internal organs. Oh, the weight of that bowling ball inside me!

And of course there was labor that I went through. False labor. For weeks. And then the real thing. Painful, intense, fast. The pushing. The crowning. The tearing. The birthing of the head. The yanking her out because her hands were stuck around her chest. The melting of my muscles because of how hard I pushed and how long I was on all fours trying to bear my labor pain.

And did I mention the unmentionable. What happened AFTER I had the baby. The horrible itchy bleeding hell-set-me-on-fire hives? From neck to soles of my feet bleeding wounds, like having chicken pox and then poison ivy on top of that. And I was swollen - so swollen I couldn't wear my watch or bend at the knees. Walking around was painful on my ankles. Itching my skin would cause liquid to seep out of my open bleeding pores. Literally. It was like something out of Satan's book of tortures for the unredeemed.

I cried a lot from sheer desperation. I just wanted to stop that consuming itch for one moment. There was no way to NOT itch. And the more you itched, the bloodier you got. The wet, weeping skin. Oh, the agony.

It seems a distant memory now. I still have two dark scars on my wrist where the dermatologist took two skin biopsies. He wanted to confirm what it was and wasn't. Thankfully it wasn't an autoimmune disease. Thankfully it was just postpartum hives. A super awful bad case of it.

I'm thankful for Claritin. It took me through the worst, and although the itch didn't go away, it kept it from completely eating my flesh alive. And I could still breastfeed.

I remember both of my mothers wanting me to stop nursing. I wanted to cry and scream because of all the misery and suffering I went through from the time I got pregnant until the time I had the baby. And the only pleasure I got that entire year was nursing this little baby. And now they wanted me to give it up and give her formula. I was angry. I was going to endure this itching and not take strong oral steroids (which was going to have side effects on both me and the baby) - that's how much I was willing to pursue nursing the baby.

That's when I knew. I knew how stubborn I was. I knew how much physical pain I was wiling to endure if I believed in something enough. I knew I went through natural childbirth so that I could protect my child from unnecessary medical treatments. And now you think I would give up so easily because of some flesh eating hives?

Once the hives started dying down, then Natasha's colic starting really blossoming. She would cry for hours. every. single. night. I don't think there was one night that she did not cry unceasingly and inconsolably. She also cried for hours inconsolably during the day just about every single day. And every other day she would cry in the gosh darned middle of the night, maybe from 1 to 3am, or 2 to 4am. And this after a good colicky night's crying from 8-11pm. So I'd literally sleep from midnight to 2am, be up for hours, then sleep another 2 hours. Noelle would wake up (she was dropping her nap so had poor night sleep from sleep deprivation and the new baby arriving, so she'd wake up at 5am or 6am crying). Hmm, that's a good 3 to 4 hours of sleep a night. And there was no naps during the day for me, either. Because Noelle did not take naps anymore and she stopped being able to have "quiet time alone." She suddenly became clingy and unable to do anything by herself.

It was bad.

It wasn't until Natasha turned about 4 months old that the colic got better. I began to sleep train in increments. No more bouncing her to sleep. Man did my back turn completely numb from the pain of holding her heavy body and bouncing her for hours day and night. I remember at the worst of her colic, I felt like I was literally going to faint at any given moment during the day as I had to bounce her to get her to stop crying. I was at the farthest limits of physical endurance. I was pushed to the the outermost edge of my abilities. I called my mom. She came every day to watch Noelle so I could nap. Just as faithful as she came every day during my pregnancy. Thank the Lord for her. And thank the Lord for my mother-in-law who came to stay with us for a month. If it weren't for them, I would not have been able to carry my baby to term, nor would I be able to nurse my baby. I don't think I would be able to have another baby again. I don't think I will. Period. It's impossible without full-time help with my two children. And I've decided to homeschool and train them. It's impossible to train them if I will be incapacitated for a whole year being nauseously pregnant and completely exhausted afterwards with postpartum hives and a colicky infant.

I see now how much Noelle has changed. And I felt like I missed it all. I was busy laying in bed, completely engulfed and drowned in morning sickness and fatigue. Then being on bed rest meant I couldn't go anywhere or do anything with Noelle.

All I could muster was to dump her pee and poop after she went in the potty. Wipe her tush. Flush. Try not to get upset. Try to climb back into bed. I had no energy for anything else. I hardly had any energy to do basic things for myself even.

Now I see that over the course of a year, Noelle is completely potty trained. She's out of cloth diapers. She doesn't even go in a little potty anymore. She wears normal, thin, cotton underwear when she goes places. She pees in public bathrooms. She is like an adult. She sleeps overnight in a pair of lightweight waterproof undies. How did all this happen over a year?

She has gone from speaking in phrases - 2 or 3 word phrases - to complete sentences. Complex sentences!

Today, she woke up talking in such complex sentences. "I do this cuz of this, cuz of this, cuz of this." She seems suddenly so capable of answering the "why" of everything, whereas not so long ago (a month or two ago) she could not voice a reason for why she did things.

Is this how fast childhood goes? She goes to bed, sleeps in a little later than usual in the morning, and wakes up smarter and more advanced?

Noelle's legs are growing so long and thin. Her limbs are becoming lankier. Her face is elongating as well. She no longer looks like a chubby little toddler. The last remnants of her babyhood has just slipped out of my hands. It feels as if she is gone forever. The baby I once nursed and held and cuddled and comforted.

I am so sad as I type this. Because today as she came to me crying (as she often does for very trivial things) I told her to stop crying and go sit on the stairs if she wanted to cry. She wanted me to pick her up and comfort her. I wanted her to learn that she cannot act like a baby anymore. I have new expectations of her. She must learn to control her emotions. She must learn not to indulge in them anymore. She must learn that crying doesn't get her attention. She must learn that if she wants to cry she must go over to the sofa or bed, put her blanket over her head and calm down.

I have done this out of necessity both for myself and for her. She once woke up from a late afternoon nap and had a horrible tantrum that lasted for upwards of an hour. She would not stop crying. It was ridiculous. Even as I held her she would not stop crying. I realized she needed to learn a skill of self-soothing or else she would have a horrible time of dealing with life. I remember she used to do that as a toddler. I would offer her a juice or snack and that seemed to help things. And before I started doing the juice or snack, I used to offer her the breast and nursing really made her happy. Now she has times where she gets cranky or emotional and just doesn't know what to do with herself. She will run to me and want me to drop everything I am doing - even if I had chicken hands (while cutting meat in the kitchen) or if I was nursing Natasha. It is unreasonable because at this point, she is old enough to understand that she must wait. She just does not have any practice waiting or considering others because there has always been a caretaker to look after her needs one-on-one. Now she must wait, or she must obey more consistently (since we now demand it of her more consistently whereas before we had no energy). She is used to venting all her emotions. But now I must teach her how to reign them in.

Part of me is sad that she is no longer my baby. But I cannot keep her a baby forever. Time goes on, she will continue to grow and mature, and either I give her the skills to let her thrive as a growing child, or I treat her like an infant forever and never give her any skills with which to go forth into life. It feels like when I decided to stop nursing her. I cried. It wasn't as difficult of a decision because I was pregnant at the same time and it was getting to be a big burden. But still, I was sad that she was done with it - or rather, that I was done providing for her in that way.

So it is with teaching her that she cannot cry at the slightest things (or what I perceive to be the slightest things). One part of me thinks, "In her world, it is a big deal." But the other part of me knows, she cannot live in her world forever. She will need to live in the real world sooner than I can imagine.

These are the things we are working on:
-Patience - practice waiting for things that she requests
-Consideration for others - waiting her turn to speak, not interrupting conversation
-Respect for Authority - not bossing others around
-Couresty - saying "please" and "thank you"
-Obedience - instead of saying "No, I can't," say "Yes" or "i'll try"
-Self-control - instead of indulging in self-pity and crying, control the emotions and think of what we are thankful for
-Attention - pay attention when spoken to or being read to