Happiness Series: Body Image

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When expressing opinions on my own body image I automatically start making excuses, as if the current state of my body is something I need to apologize for or explain.

I could tell you that I’m overweight because I’m still working off the post baby body. But my baby was born a year and a half ago and I weigh more now than I did when I was pregnant.

I could look back at old photos and dream about my skinny days when I was 22 years old. But back then when I was skinnier than I had any right to be, I still thought I was fat.

Once I got past all the excuses, what I came to realize is that my current body size or weight isn’t the real issue.

The real problem is how I view myself.

I know that I am not ugly, but I don’t have a single memory of looking in a mirror and feeling satisfied with what I see. My husband calls me beautiful and I catch myself rolling my eyes. Compliments from acquaintances and friends make me uncomfortable because I can’t believe them. Until I can learn to love myself as I am, no measurement or number on a scale will ever be good enough.

I wanted to start this happiness series with body image because that is what started this journey in my own life. I was searching for answers to why I wasn’t happy because it didn’t make any sense. I have an amazing husband, a miracle of a child, and an excellent career, why wasn’t that enough? I decided it must be because I wasn’t happy with myself, because I am absolutely happy with my life. I knew it wasn’t going to be as simple as starting an exercise routine and changing what I eat (although both are good life changes to make and will be addressed in later posts). I wanted to dig deeper and analyze what really brings true happiness to our lives. The more I thought about it and researched it the more it changed my life!

Happiness is not something we find or something that happens to us; It is something that takes constant effort to create and maintain.
Happiness is not a destination; it is the journey itself.

It may seem simple or obvious to some but for me it was a revelation! I have identified and researched several areas in life that have a heavy impact on personal happiness. Through this series I will explore those areas and offer insights into manageable life changes we can all make to further our happiness journeys.

Step one for me was to change my own perspective of my body, and I started with my closet. My closet was stuffed full of clothes I never wore. Each morning I would stare into the depths and as my eyes touched item after item my inner voice was commenting “you look fat in that”, “that doesn’t look good on you anymore”, or “you need to loose a few more pounds before you wear that again”. This ritual of negative self-talk every morning just to get dressed was setting a tone of negativity and dissatisfaction that flowed through the rest of my day. I dedicated an entire Saturday to physically trying on each and every item of clothing I own. If I didn’t feel good about myself wearing it, it had to go! I made four piles; storage, donate, trash, and keep. If I wasn’t sure about an item, I asked my husband for his opinion and let him help me with the decision.

Body Image Piles

Step two was to buy more cloths (let’s be honest I wasn’t left with much…). But first I had to get my mindset right so I could make good, healthy decisions and not end up with a closet of new clothes I never wear. I made a list of all the types of clothing I needed to buy (jeans, work pants, dress shirts, casual shirts, tank tops, etc.…) and how many of each type of item I needed so I wouldn’t go overboard. The most important things I decided to focus on were, size doesn’t matter and live for today. I repeated these to myself before and during my shopping spree.

Size doesn’t matter: Society taught me growing up that the smaller the dress size the better and this pressure still surrounds me today. Between photoshopped models in advertising or unrealistic role models on Instagram, it is hard to escape the expectation that skinny is beautiful. It is hard to accept the dwindling options as the size number grows. It is a battle to avoid the thought “maybe I can squeeze into a smaller size”. Instead of focusing on the size of the jeans, or shirts or dresses, I forced myself to focus on the comfort and fit of the clothes. This was no easy task… I could feel my spirits dropping as I tried on jeans that were too tight and knew I needed a bigger size than I had expected. However, once I bought the clothes I liked, that fit me well and looked good on me and put them in my closet; I forgot all about what size they are. Size really doesn’t matter.

Live for today: I had just removed the clothes that were holding me in the past and I struggled to keep the thoughts of “but what if I lose weight…” at bay. It was important to me that when I looked in my closet each morning, I felt good about anything available to choose from. The clothes I removed weren’t me anymore. I don’t know who I will be in the future and I shouldn’t buy clothes that future me may not like. I focused heavily on what I want my style to be right now. What makes me feel good? When I tried on an outfit, I took my time to analyze what I liked about it and what I didn’t like about it. If there was any doubt at all, I didn’t buy it. I had to go to several stores, and it took an entire day but what I ended up with were only clothes I truly felt good about myself in. To assist I took my sister and my mom with me. Only do this with people you trust to give you brutally honest opinions!

Body Image Results

This was my closet after the overhaul. Each morning since has started with excitement on what I get to wear that day! This exercise alone is not enough to change a lifetime of negative body image. It was however, an excellent first step and led to a deeper look at small life changes that can change our perception and increase our own happiness. This is only the start to my happiness journey stay tuned for more life changing posts to come!

What steps have you taken to improve your own body image?

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The Many Benefits of Sage

From the Native Americans to ancient Celtic Pagans, sage in all it’s glorious forms has been used for thousands of years. Sage is more readily available now than ever before. You can venture to your local new age store or check out your everyday grocery store, wherever you go pick up some sage to change your life!

Now you’re on the look out for sage, but what do you do with it? You have come to the right place! There are are a few main areas that sage is great for but within those categories the options are limitless!

Medicine:
Digestive system: Suffering from gas, diarrhea, bloating or heartburn? Sage to the rescue! Chewing on sage leaves would be a bit intense in flavor so a tea or tincture is a great option.
Skin: The anti-inflammatory properties of sage are very useful for many common skin conditions. A sage salve can help fight against eczema, psoriasis, acne, cold sores and even sunburns.
Menstruation: Thousands of years ago sage was thought to increase a woman’s fertility. Now we better understand how sage aids in regulating menstruation and can even help alleviate painful period and menopause symptoms. A tincture or tea made from sage leaves as needed can help us all get through this natural but often painful time in our lives. Do not use sage if pregnant or breastfeeding. Sage can assist with reducing an over supply of breast milk but should be used with caution.
Mental Performance: Consuming or inhaling small doses of sage daily appears to improve focus and memory. Research included in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics even found sage helps treat mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
Asthma: Inhaling sage can be a wonderful natural treatment for asthma but always consult your doctor before changing medical treatment plans.
Immune System: Sage contains powerful anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. A sage salve can help treat arthritis and gout. Incorporating a topical product containing sage to your daily routine can also help protect you from cold and flu season!

Food:
Sage is a common herb that can add powerful flavor to any dish. I just recently discovered the tasty benefits of sage in the kitchen but be warned, it is a powerful herb! Less is more! Cooking with sage is an excellent way to reap those medicinal benefits mentioned previously.
Similar to rosemary, the peppery flavor will add a fresh note to savory dishes. Best used in meat dishes, especially fatty meats. Alternatively it can be finely chopped and mixed with melted butter to be stirred into pasta as they commonly do in Italy.

Home:
Household cleaners: The anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties in Sage make in an excellent choice for natural for household cleaners. Mix sage with vinegar and you have one heavy duty all purpose cleaner!
Smudging: Sage smudging is an ancient practice from many cultures all over the world. There are so many benefits to smudging I will have to cover them in more detail in a later post. Here I will just list my favorite reasons to make smudging a part of your household routine. Purifying the air both from illnesses and negative energy is the biggest reason to incorporate smudging into your life and space. Smudging can help alleviate respiratory issues such as asthma or allergies. It can remove negative energy or even spirits attached to spaces, people or objects. Sage can help improve your mood and reduce stress or depression. Even if you just need a little pick me up in mood or energy, sage is a powerful go-to tool.
Soaps & Cosmetics: Sage is popular choice to add both fragrance and health benefits to soaps and cosmetics.

Spirituality:
Sage can be a powerful tool for meditation and your overall spiritual well being. In meditation, sage can be use to take you deeper within your consciousness and can also assist with solving and reflecting on internal dilemmas. Sage can help cleanse your space or you of negative energy making self exploration and discovery easier and more enjoyable. If you use crystals within your home or on your body (see my post about using crystals for relief of stress and anxiety) they will likely need to be cleansed and recharged every once in a while. Sage is an amazing tool for cleansing your crystals, so they can get back to work for you and your well being.

Sage is an amazing and diverse tool gifted to us by nature herself! I can’t think of a single reason for anyone not to incorporate sage into their life in some fashion. Whether you use it to aid your health, spice up your dinner or bring peace to your space, you can’t go wrong with sage!

What I learned In My 20’s

Today is my 30th birthday! Happy Birthday to Me!

There are hundreds of “what I learned in my… [enter age here]” on the internet and this is just one more. Each one is different and utterly unique because we all learn different things through life. This is mine!

This was me as I entered my 20’s, following is what I learned along the way.

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What I learned In my 20’s

  • BFF’s Aren’t Forever
    That best friend in your teens and early 20’s is the most important person in your life! You just know you will be best friends forever and you plan how your kids will grow up together and be best friends too! You laugh about how when you’re old you will terrorize the nursing home together. At first when your careers take off you make sure to still make time for each other. Then before you realize what’s happening you each get married and start having kids. Suddenly your friendship has moved down the priority list. Just a few years ago you would have never considered moving farther than a few minutes from each other but now what’s best for your family takes you far away in different directions. One day you wake up and realize that you haven’t talked in ages and you only see each other a couple times a year. You will always be best friends but it means something different now.
  • Mom Was Right About Everything
    She tried to warn me about so many things but I was determined to learn life’s lessons the hard way. With each new lesson learned and each tear shed I came closer to admitting that Mom was always right. I should have believed her more but hind sight is 20/20.
  • Getting Drunk Isn’t Fun
    It takes far too many bad drunken mistakes to learn this lesson… I am ashamed to admit how long it took me to figure out. I suppose most 20 somethings indulge this way but the stupid decisions and painful hangovers are certainly not worth a night of “fun”. I hurt people I carried about, I put myself at risk and I made a fool of myself more times than I can count. This is one lesson I am incredibly happy to have learned.
  • Disney Movies Have Bad Moral Lessons
    Watching my favorite Disney movies now I see them in a whole new light! Why do the main characters always disobey their parents? Why do they almost always “fall in love” before they even know the other person. They make horrible, dangerous decisions but happily ever after is still always handed to them in the end. I still love these movies but lets face it, I wouldn’t want my kids to disregard my rules and run off with a stranger because they “fell in love” after 15 minutes.
  • Doing Something You Love As A Career Is Rare
    I never dreamed of becoming an accountant. Even now, if I had the opportunity to get paid to travel the world learning different cultures and histories or get paid to write, I would quit my job in a heartbeat. I have a great job, I’m good at it and it pays the bills but it’s not my passion. Most people don’t get to live their dream job, they get to do what they can to get by. If you have the opportunity to do something you love go after it because you are lucky!
  • Starting A Family Is Not Easy
    Everyone in my family got pregnant on the first try, some on accident even. I expected to try for a month or two and BAM I’d be a Mom! Not so much… After a year of not getting pregnant we started having tests run. We couldn’t pin down what the problem was. After a few more years and three miscarriages we started seeing a specialist which means more tests and trying meds to help increase fertility. We were giving up hope and planning to invest in IVF when we finally succeeded at getting pregnant and made it through the terrifying first trimester! I really thought it would be easy they way you see it on TV and hear about from strangers. It isn’t always easy…
  • Nothing Goes According To Plan
    I am an obsessive planner but my anxiety spikes when things don’t go according to plan. I am still working on this one but I have made a lot of progress in learning to go with the flow. When you have your entire life planned and things take several big turns that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I have made plans and re-made plans but life is constantly evolving and what is best for us is constantly changing. Stop trying to plan life because nothing ever goes according to plan.
  • Happily Ever After Is Hard Work
    Every little girl dreams of their happily ever after (that may look different for each little girl but we all have one in mind). The society fed expectation is that once you find your happily ever after it’s smooth sailing from then on out. I was lucky enough to find my soulmate! But it isn’t enough to find the right person, it takes hard work every day to keep the happily part going strong. Life struggles can easily tear people apart if they don’t consciously make an effort to rise above life issues together. It’s hard work but it’s worth it!
  • Money Is More Important Than I Thought
    Maybe it’s the Oregon hippy upraising 😉 but I never put much importance in money. I always said I would rather be happy and live under a bridge than have money and stuff and be unhappy… BUT as I got older I realized that having a house that works for our needs and a big enough yard for our dogs and reliable cars are incredibly important. Making enough money to support our desired life style is suddenly more important than I had ever wanted it to be.
  • Metabolism Slows Down At 25
    This one may be a big fat duh but I unrealistically thought the days of eating whatever I wanted and never exercising would last forever. Surprise! It doesn’t… On my 25th birthday someone threw a switch and I started gaining weight like never before. It was a pretty big adjustment to start thinking about what I eat and making time to exercise but it’s a good life adjustment.
  • What Was Once Challenging Is Now Impossible
    Physically speaking I’m aging too quickly. I used to be flexible and energetic and now it’s a struggle to get off the couch… I’m not entirely sure what the lesson here is but i’m sure there is one.
  • You Can’t Please Everyone
    This is one that most young people have to learn but for me it was a life changing lesson. I spent far too many years trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be. All it ever led to was low self esteem and a few identity crises. I finally learned who I was and to let that be the person I share with others. This was the hardest lesson for me to learn; I like to make people happy. Sometimes at the expense of myself. It is more important to be you then to care what anyone else wants from you.
  • Going To Bed At A Reasonable Hour Is Amazing
    There aren’t enough hours in the day to meet all the responsibilities of adulthood. I miss the days of going to bed when I’m tired. Now it’s a matter of is the laundry done? Or are the dishes washed? Is the baby hungry? I just want to sleep…
  • A Nap Is A Rare Dream Come True
    Along the same lines, I learned during my pregnancy when I was unbelievably exhausted that a nap is a god send! Kid don’t know how good they have it. They fight naps with every fiber of their being while I fight to stay awake. Enjoy the opportunity for a nap when it comes along.
  • Teenagers Look Younger As I Get Older And Are Incredibly Annoying
    Babies are driving cars and toddlers are smoking cigarettes. I hate to believe that I was that annoying when I was a teenager but I’m sure I was.
  • All Pictures Of The Past Bring Up “What Was I Thinking” Thoughts
    The hair, the clothes, the makeup, I just can’t believe I thought I looked good like that. I’m sure 10 years from now I will look back at my current look and think the same thing. Looking back at some of my bad decisions give me new perspective when making style choices now.
  • Time Flies
    I didn’t really get this one until I had my daughter. Time goes faster not as we get older but as we get better life experiences we want to slow down and cherish. As my baby grows and learns I realize just how fast time really goes… I want it to slow down so I can enjoy they way she is right now but at the same time I am excited to take part in her next adventure. I learned a lot of lessons in my 20’s but she is learning life lessons every day!
  • Comfort Over Fashion
    My Mom once told me that some day I would value comfort over fashion. At the time I was 21 and wearing short skirts and stiletto heals everyday. I spent hours on my appearance and never could have imagined a day when I wouldn’t care about that. That day sneaks up on you… I don’t even know when it happened but suddenly my closet was fully of flats and tasteful slacks.  I can’t imagine wearing those old clothes and would probably break an ankle in those old heals. I barely have 20 minutes to get ready in the morning now and I would never want to sacrifice any of my other morning time for doing makeup and hair.
  • Alone Time Is Vital
    I used to be afraid of being alone, now I crave a little me time. I wish I could have known sooner the bliss of an afternoon alone reading a good book. The heaven of a couple hours in a hot bath and a cleansing face mask. Even just uninterruptedly watching a girly show without hearing complaints. I love my family and wouldn’t give up a minute of the time I spend with them but I appreciate alone time more than I ever could have imagined.
  • It’s Ok To Be Selfish
    I have never been one to think of myself first, or second, or at all… But I have recently learned that the advice of putting your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others is now joke. You can’t be a good spouse or parent or employee if you don’t take care of yourself. This is a hard one to accept, especially for women but we have to take care of ourselves too!
  • There Are Different Depths Of Love
    Again I didn’t truly learn this until my daughter was born. I love my parents and my siblings and that love is real but there is a deeper love. I love my dogs like they are a part of me. I don’t want to even consider the day they won’t be here anymore. I love my husband unlike I have ever loved another man. He is my soulmate in every way. The love I feel for my daughter is unlike anything I could have ever imagined. She is my whole world and has opened my eyes to the true depths of love.

 

These are the biggest lessons I learned in my 20’s. I know I have a lot more to learn and I am excited to see what my 30’s bring!

Bring on the 30’s!
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Pre-Baby Meal Prepping

 

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I knew I wouldn’t feel like cooking for a little while after the baby was born. So I had this great plan that I would pre-make and freeze several meals so I could just pop them in the oven and have real meals without the work. What I didn’t realize was how hard it would be to stand in the kitchen for hours prepping these meals while eight months pregnant…
If I had the opportunity to do it over, I would still make the meals (even more of them) but I would make them earlier, maybe during the blissful second trimester!

I started by picking the recipes I wanted to make (meals I know my husband and I like). Then I hit Costco with a list of supplies I needed.

Here are the meals I decided to make to freeze for after the baby came.

Meal #1
Sausage, Potatoes and Peppers:

Ingredients:

  • Your choice of sausage (I picked mango jalapeno chicken sausage)
  • Onion
  • Bell peppers
  • Yukon Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Blackened seasoning
  • Poultry seasoning

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Directions:

  • Cut sausage, potatoes, peppers and onion into bite sized cubes.
  • Season all evenly and mix in a medium bowl.
  • Vacuum seal and freeze.

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Meal #2
Bacon, Egg and Cream Cheese Bagel Sandwich: 

Ingredients:

  • Cheese bagels
  • Cream cheese
  • Precooked bacon
  • Eggs

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Directions:

  • Scramble the eggs, season to taste.
  • Spread cream cheese on each side of the bagel.
  • Layer bacon and egg and place the other half of the bagel on top.
  • Wrap in clear wrap and foil.
  • Freeze

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To Cook:

Preheat over to 400 degrees and place bagel sandwich in over for 30 minutes.

Meal #3
Cheese Stuffed Meatballs:

Ingredients:

  • Ground Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Bread Crumbs
  • Garlic
  • Season Salt
  • Salt
  • Pepper

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Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients except the cheese.
  • Grab a chunk in the estimated size of the desired meatball.
  • flatten meat in the palm of your hand, place a square of cheese in the middle and roll into a meatball.
  • Vacuum seal and Freeze.

Meal #4
Breakfast Burrito Filling:

Ingredients:

  • Eggs
  • Precooked bacon
  • Yukon potattoes
  • Shredded cheddar jack cheese
  • Season salt
  • Garlic
  • Salt

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Directions:

  • Scramble eggs
  • Cut potatoes into cubes
  • Tear bacon into small pieces.
  • Season eggs and potatoes to taste.
  • In a vacuum seal bag layer salsa, eggs, potatoes, bacon and cheese.
  • Vacuum seal and freeze.

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To Cook:

Thaw ingredients and warm up in the microwave for 3 minutes. Spoon filling into tortillas for breakfast burritos.

Meal #5
Chicken Enchiladas:

  • Chicken Breasts
  • Tortillas
  • Cheddar Jack Cheese
  • Cream of Chicken Soup
  • Onion
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa
  • Diced Tomatos
  • Rotel
  • Chili Powder

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Directions:

  • Boil chicken breasts and shred and cool.
  • Chop onion.
  • Drain tomatoes.
  • In a medium bowl, combine soup, sour cream, salsa, onion, tomatoes, Rotel and chili powder.
  • In a separate bowl combine chicken, cheese and 1/3 sauce mixture.
  • Fill six tortillas with chicken filling and roll into enchiladas.
  • Place rolled enchiladas in a tin disposable casserole dish.
  • Pour remaining sauce evenly over enchiladas.
  • Top with additional cheese, chopped onions and diced tomatoes.
  • Cover with tin foil and freeze.

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To Cook:

Preheat oven to 375 and place enchiladas in oven still frozen (DO NOT THAW). Cook for 45 minutes to an hour or until warmed through and bubbly.

 

These meals worked out great for my family! It was so convenient to not have to worry about all that goes into creating a meal or running to the store for missing ingredients while trying to figure out this new tiny human I had just brought into the world.

DIY Cat Box Cabinet

Some say there are Dog lovers or there are Cat lovers… I am both!!! being such an unbiased animal lover has it’s challenges… Anyone who has had both dogs and cats at the same time can attest to this.

We haven’t had to worry about them getting along. Our dogs and cats play together, cuddle together and beg for scraps together…
Begging

One of our biggest challenges has been keeping our dogs from eating the “delicious kitty treats” out of the litter boxes. They just can’t seem to help themselves. The way we have done this up until now was to dedicate an entire room in our house to the cats. A baby gate in the door way (and lots of training of the dogs not to jump over it) has kept the litter boxes safe from hungry canines. This was working fabulously for the last five years, but now a baby is coming… And the cat room must become a nursery.

We debated for months about where to move the litter boxes…
The guest room? Our out of town guests don’t want to share a room with our cats. Plus they would not be able to close the door for privacy because how would the cats get in to use the bathroom?
The office? The downstairs access to the backyard is through the office. The dogs need that door available for their own potty needs.

Finally we realized we would have to get creative. With help from Pinterest and supplies from Lowes we created the perfect solution! We created a cat box cabinet that fit right under the stairs. This solution solved everything! The dogs can’t get to the litter box but the cats can and it looks pretty nice if I do say so myself.

Before COLLAGE

Cat box setup before

After Collage

Cat box setup after

This project was so easy and turned out so great, it surprised even me!

Here is what we bought:
1. A stock kitchen cabinet insert (in the size to fit our space and the style of our house)
2. A sheet of unfinished pine board
3. Finishing screws
4. Waterproof clear finishing spray
5. A medium cat door insert kit
6. A stick on “pop it” light

Here is how we did it:
1. We cut the pine board to fit the top of the cabinet (with a small lip over hang).
2. We treated the pine board with the finishing spray and let dry.
3. Using the instructions and cut out sheet from the cat door kit, we cut a hole in the side of the cabinet and installed the cat door.
4. Next we cleaned out the shavings from cutting the hole for the cat door.
5. Using the finishing screws we secured the pine board to the top of the cabinet.
6. For convenience we added a “pop it” light to the ceiling of the lower cabinet to provide light while scooping the used litter box.
7. We moved the cabinet to the desired permanent location under the staircase.
8. We put the litter box in the cabinet space, the scoops and plastic bags in the drawer and the food and water bowls on top.

We did have to teach our cats to go through the cat door to find their litter box. We found treats and desirable wet food as motivation to go through the scary new contraption helped a lot.

Now we have a beautiful way to hide the stinky side of having cats while also keeping our dogs from helping themselves to the “kitty treats” they so desire. We did all of this in one afternoon and still had time to clear out and clean up the soon to be nursery!

Nursery Before

Project 365: March 2017

During the month of March what I learned most from this exercise is how much time I spend at work.

March 1st

March 1

March 2nd

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March 3rd

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March 4th

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March 31

Our New Home!… Oops

I have lost count of how many times I have started and restarted this post over the last 7 months. Each time my outlook and feelings on the subject completely changed from the draft before. Seven months ago we sold our first house, our “Starter house” if you will and bought our second house. Days after we closed on the purchase I drafted a blog post that clearly shows my optimism and excitement. I held off on posting it only to take the time to add photos. Here is a snippet to give you an idea of how I was feeling…

August 2016: “One major change in my life recently has been the sale of our cookie cutter, ranch style home and the purchase of a quirky, 1940’s bungalow! Words cannot explain how over the moon I am about this new adventure. Since I was a little girl, I have dreamed of taking an old house and making it my own, piece by piece. The possibilities are endless and the pride of fixing it up, just my husband and I is unimaginable! I am going to spend far too much time on Pinterest… But in the end I hope to create something we will love and enjoy for many years to come! Of course I will share our DYI journey with all of you!”

In September we hired Lowes (they hired a 3rd party contractor) to build a cedar fence around our .21 acre yard. The contractor came and drew up designs for us and from that moment on came up with the most absurd excuses to not start the project. We requested a new contractor from Lowes and they provided one. He and his crew tore down the existing chain link fence and then proceeded to make excuses of why they weren’t going to show up or would only stay a short time. This contractor refused to talk with me and would only address my husband. Finally after weeks of waiting they finally finished and we were so desperate for them to be gone we ignored that fact that they didn’t fill in the holes they dug, clean up their materials or the work area. we found unused materials all over our yard and had to call Lowes to send a truck to remove it. We also found screws and nails all over the yard and drive way. At this same time Lowes sold the fridge we had paid for to someone else and informed us that the model was now discontinued so they couldn’t get another one. By the end of this I was still trying to be optimistic but was frustrated.

September 2016: “The fence is finally built after weeks of frustration and taking the dogs out on leashes several times a day. I have to admit though it looks fantastic! the cedar is beautiful and truly compliments the natural beauty of the yard. Our new appliances are in but Lowes sold our fridge out from under us so our fridge is not what we had wanted… We are working on painting the cabinets for the second time. Inexperienced as we are we forgot to sand them first!”

By October we had remodeled the kitchen and were very happy with the results. We were finally starting to get furniture and getting things unpacked. Then one Sunday morning we ambled down to our basement living room only to find the carpet sopping wet and no idea where the water was coming from. Eventually we discovered it was coming from the wall between the downstairs bathroom and one spare room. We immediately called our plumber and our insurance company. We managed to survive the few days our water was turned off and once the pipes were fixed they started ripping out the damaged walls and flooring. The pipes from our kitchen and bathrooms had burst, spewing water and sewage into our living space. A few days after this my husband was hospitalized for his chronic illness, (an episode worse than usually) this one lasting a month.  During the month of October we had scheduled a few other improvements as well. We had the dinning room rewired to include a chandelier at which time it was discovered that the electrical wiring in the upstairs was unsafe. He fixed it and completely rewired the bathroom as well. We also had a wood stove and new chimney installed. Our general contractor re-built the walls and installed the new bathroom vanity (the old one had to be thrown out due to sewage damage).  Keep in mind that during all of this I was trying to juggle Work, Contractors, my dogs and my husband in the Hospital. Most of the contractors were wonderful, only the wood stove/chimney contractors took advantage of me. My husband is the knowledgeable one in regards to home improvements so I assumed the contractors were doing what needed to be done in the appropriate way. When my husband was finally able to come home we discovered they had made the chimney too short and our house filled with smoke when we tried to use it. So he demanded they come back and build it to code.

October 2016: “I am seriously considering just burning it to the ground…”

In November the new carpet was installed down stairs by two very lazy installation guys. It was delayed and therefore got installed the day of my company holiday party and the day before my father in-law came to visit. They removed the steps from our spiral staircase to put the new carpet on then left without reinstalling them. Looking back now I’m sure it was an amusing sight to see me body slamming the stairs into the slots in a dress and heals, hair curled, makeup done up but at the time I was not amused. At this point we stepped back and took stock. Several unexpected issues came up and took immediate precedence. We had barely touched our wish list of improvements but on the upside the house was now safe to live in… Unfortunately we were also out of money.

November 2016: “What is wrong with societies work ethic? When did everyone start half assing their jobs? I would be unemployed if I treated my clients the way most of the contractors we have dealt with have treated us. At least it’s done! There is a lot more we want to do but we have spent all of the money we had set aside and then some… The cosmetic improvements will just have to wait.”

Little did I know the worst was yet to come. The house stayed as it was but in late December my husband lost the function in his legs. It was sudden and unexplained so he was back in the hospital but this time a specialty hospital 30 miles away from home. After the hospital he couldn’t come home because a wheelchair wouldn’t fit through our hall ways and he couldn’t manage the stairs. I had to tour and pick a nursing home for my 33 year old husband. It was a terrifying and depressing experience I hope to never relive. Eventually he was able to come home, through physical therapy he was able to walk again over time. My bitterness for the house that kept my husband in a nursing home was well rooted by then.

February 2017: “This house was a mistake. I won’t stay here longer than absolutely necessary. Denver (my husband) and I have decided to sell our house, buy land and build the house of our dreams. We never again want to buy a house full of horrible surprises and waste every penny we have trying to make it work. We will instead build what we want!”

I will still post the before and after pictures of the improvements we made. I will also be sure to blog the entire process of building our forever home! In the end the universe gave us sign after sign that this house isn’t right for us and we are going to listen. Wish my luck on our newest adventure!!