Last week, we completely unplugged. No phones. (Hardly) Any internet. No checking texts or email or facebook or blogs. Nada.
It was amazing.
I was hesitant to turn my phone on again once we returned to the US. But alas, we are home, reunited with Maizy and feeling completely refreshed as we head into a busy season.




I suppose you could refer to this as an unintentional babymoon of sorts. That big trip we had planned for June seems to be completely unreasonable as I realize more and more each week that pregnancy is a tad... difficult. All in good ways, but the difference is enough to not want to travel to a third world country anytime before baby arrives.

We met Kyle's family in the Bahamas for the week, soaking in a lot of family time, couple time and sunshine. Maybe too much sunshine at times.

Oh, and a lot of food. I'm unsure if my belly grew from food intake or baby growth. Either way, my entire midsection is expanding in all new ways. They say that happens around this time, but somehow it's still surprising every time I look in the mirror.




Anyway..back to food. On the plane ride over I had told Kyle that all I wanted was some fresh crab and I'm pleased to report that this girl was not  disappointed. We had a family dinner night out at Graycliff, one of the oldest mansion's in the Bahamas which also happens to have the the world's 3rd largest wine cellar. Although you may think that the wine cellar would be fancy, it's in the basement of the mansion, where you need to watch your feet and your head. There are open floor boards, uneven walls and spider webs lining the bottles. The wine bottles worth $200,000 are sitting in the open, covered in dust, along with thousands of other bottles stacked on wooden crates.






We had tons of fun attempting to snorkel (darn wind!), people watching while walking on the beach, playing intense games of shuffle board and ping-pong, lounging by the pool, racing down water slides, playing some mad blackjack at the casinos, enjoying freshly made smoothies and napping in the sunshine. There was also that one time Kyle went reef fishing, and the waves were just too high so they had to pull out early (it's a bit of a sore subject though ;)
We even made friends with a 6 year old in the water slide line that told us we were "for sure having a girl," and her name "must be Julianna." Adorable. The boys with her disagreed, "that's a boy in there."





GG, Kyle's grandmother, started coming to the Bahamas 30+ years ago. Amazing that she and her husband had purchased a timeshare when no grandchild were in sight. Now, a great grand-child was introduced to a place close to all of their hearts.





We couldn't have asked for a better vacation. We both felt like different people coming home, simply relaxed.
We joked that Kyle hadn't seen the sun since August, and well...that was actually a bit true. It was due time to get my pale husband our of the hospital and get him some color and fresh air.






Spring, I love you. I love you. I love you.
You have finally arrived.
There is hope beyond the masses of snow piles and freezing temperatures!
The temperatures are creeping up to the 40's, which may as well be 70's because it just feels that good!

No more running in winter coats and multiple pairs of pants. No more shoveling the driveway. No more drudging through ice and snow to get the mail. No more arriving at work with white knuckles from grasping the steering wheel so tight while sliding on ice and through slush.

This girl is ready to spend lots of time outside. Ready to plant the garden, tend to the flowers, clean the patio, use the grill, go on long walks, and breathe fresh, fresh air.
Cheers to the season of tulips and sunshine!






After a more personal post yesterday (and wow, thank you for all of the sweet comments via fb, text etc.) I'm switching gears today to talk about something that doesn't include a growing belly or nausea. I had documented the majority of our house projects when we first started renovating, then it dwindled off (sort of like our motivation) as the months went by. I have a lot to catch up on.

We've still been doing projects here and there (including our sunroom and redoing our half bath), and now we are taking on a pretty massive one in the upcoming months. We are either gluttons for punishment or chose to see life through rose-colored glasses.

When we originally looked at what is now our home, the basement was one of the largest draws for us. It's as large as the first floor ( ~ 1,700 sq ft), super clean and has 8' ceilings. What all that translates to is it's a perfect basement to be finished. We've had it in the back of our minds that we'd want to finish it eventually, especially since it would increase the value of the home. It will also be used a lot now that a wee one is on the way (It's one thing that many people have suggested doing for additional space and a place to store toys, etc).

To keep this as simple as possible, here's a bird's eye view of the basement structure and layout:


Over the past year and a half, we've been using it as mostly storage. We made a little "living room" area, where we have work out equipment and furniture. However, I'm the only one who really uses that. Most of Kyle's "toys" are also stored down there (fishing poles, camping equipment, an ice shanty, all things hunting, etc). Not to mention a lot of our tools (you tend to gather a hefty amount of those when renovating).


This little drawing makes it look much more clean-cut than it is.

We had big dreams-originally. An in-law suite in addition to a large living area, and then the rest would be left unfinished for storage. Although an in-law suite, would be, well- sweet- the reality is it came with a hefty price tag that we couldn't seem to justify. Call me selfish, but I also didn't want our nicest full bathroom in the basement, where it would only be used once in a while.
That may change in the coming years if we need an additional bedroom, but right now, there's no need.

Original Plan:



After much measuring, taping, re-taping, and many trips up and down the stairs to "look again," we decided on this plan. We are leaving the "in-law suite" empty, just accessible via a door, so that if later on we want to finish it, or the next owner does, it makes it easy for us/them to do so.



And this past Sunday, we started it!




This is going to be a HUGE project. The biggest that we've done so far. The wall above is about 1/4th of the walls that need to be framed. Thankfully, since it's the basement, there isn't a huge need to rush to get it done. We can take some time, which relieves a bit of pressure and makes it more enjoyable than agonizing (but ask me again in a few months if I still feel that way!)

Here's the to-do list:

Walls:

- Frame out all of the walls. We'll do this ourselves (with the help of some friends/family). You'll see in the background of this picture that the previous owners "framed" out the wall via cheap "wood" paneling that has insulation behind it. You may also notice the pipe in the upper left hand corner, which is the reason we need to frame out entire new walls along the existing ones. In a lot of basements, you'll see that the pipes are framed in, but ours are not level (they were installed on an angle which makes it impossible to frame them in a way that would look nice.) Solution: Build new wall a few inches away from the pipe.

- Installing Drywall: pretty self explanatory & we plan to do this ourselves as well.

- Taping & Mudding Drywall: Definitely be hired out!

- Paint: Hired out! (aka family ; )


Ceiling:

Before painting the drywall and putting in any carpet, we need to finish the ceiling. We haven't yet decided what to do with it yet! We figure we have a month or two to decide.
We've narrowed it town to three options (as if there are a lot more ?!!): Drywall, Bead board, Paint.

(We'll come back to this in another post!)


Flooring: 

We are doing good ole' carpet with good padding. Plain and Simple)



As of now, we're just doing what we can with what time we have...and building some legit forearm muscles along the way. Each of those 2x4's has been nailed by hand!





One thing I learned quickly upon this journey called pregnancy is the need to be transparent with other woman. This is such a unique time. It's challenging and exciting and confusing. It's scary and humbling. It's brought me to my knees out of the need for grace and peace. I had kept a small journal, sometimes day to day, sometimes week to week of this pregnancy. I'd open up this page and just type. As you'll read, you'll discover that Kyle and I suffered a miscarriage last Fall, making this pregnancy both exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. One day I may write about how that occurrence dramatically impacted me. The last three months (well, six actually), were an emotional roller coaster in many ways. But for now, I'm sharing the past few months in hopes that others may feel comforted and encouraged in their experiences as well, no matter what they may be. (And also join me in some laughs and missteps along the way- including the deep cravings for dill pickles!)



December 29th,
Hi Baby,

I found out about you today. I thought I knew that you were forming a few days prior. On Christmas I woke up and just felt it. On Christmas, your great-grandmother passed away, and it took my mind off the fact that I thought you were there. A pregnancy test had me believing it was just my imagination, but just a few days later, you informed me of your presence. I woke up with a few cramps, and my body just felt 'different.' I knew that I knew that I knew.
Yet, I was still surprised.
I was at your grandparents house, but I couldn't wait to confirm my instincts. I went to the drug store, grabbed some tests, and right before my hair appointment, I snuck into the salon bathroom and took the test. Like I said, I just couldn't wait to find out about you. It was positive. Although I thought I knew, I was shocked. Almost couldn't believe it. I sat through my hair appointment, then went had some lunch and shopping plans with your grandma and aunt...all the while knowing and thinking, "is this it? is this real?!"


December 30th,

Hi again,
You are cramping up my abdomen. Your life calls for so much rejoicing after enduring one heck of a Christmas holiday overshadowed by a death. How badly I wanted to tell your aunt and grandma about you. But, I had to wait to tell your daddy first. Guess what? He already knew.


January 1st,

You are constantly on my mind. I wake up and pray you are still there, growing big and healthy and full of life. With every cramp I feel I have a breath of relief that my body is preparing for your body.
Your dad and I hadn't seen one another in four days, so I could hardly wait to tell him. Grandma juju and aunt jessi were at our home for New Year's, so I had to be sly about how I told your dad. I was positive that Grandma Juju already knew (I'm looking forward to having that mom instinct thing with you!) but I kept tight lipped.
Back in October, when we planned on telling our families about your sibling, we had ordered a t-shirt for Maizy (she'll be your best friend), and it said "big sister." I had hidden it under the bed because it wasn't delivered until after we found out that we had lost our first child.
I dug it back out, and put it on Maizy. Your dad just got off a 30 hour shift, so I told him I had a big surprise, led him to the bedroom, and of course, as soon as I opened the door, Maizy went running to him as quickly as possible.
Your dad looked at me, picked me up, swung me around, gave me a big kiss on the lips, then on the belly, and replied, "I knew it!!!" I wish I would have captured his face, but I bet it's similar to the one he'll have when we get to meet you. I hope you have his smile, it's the best.



January 5th,

You are five weeks old today, the size of a appleseed. For such a tiny thing, you are causing quite the commotion. I look like I've received an impractical boob job, my abdomen is bloated and my eyes very, very sleepy. Your sibling didn't do this to me, but baby, you are beginning to make me quite nauseated throughout the day.
Forgive me for not having called the doctor yet, I'm almost still in shock that you are in there. The thought of losing you is real. Very real. I keep praying, "protect this baby, protect this baby," over, and over again. It's all I can do. (That, and nap.)
Pregnancy has proved to the best reminder that I am not in control. You've already humbled me.


January 12th.
Hi you,

Today, you are six weeks old. The size of sweet pea, so they tell me. It feels like my body and your growing body are getting along well, except for some crazy cravings. All of those things that pregnant woman have always spoken about, you, little one, are making them very real for this momma.
This past Wednesday, I slept from 9pm - 7am. I've been craving Arby's roast beef sandwiches, McDonalds french fries and Pho soup. My goodness, do you (I), love some salt. It's easy to blame these off-the-wall cravings on you these days.

There is a small part of me still full of worry this week. Your sibling went to heaven at one week older than you are now, and all I want, more than anything, is for you to stick with me. To grow through this week, to the next, to the next...


January 20th,

Happy 7 weeks!
We made it this far. I'm a little nervous for this week- feelings of bittersweet excitement resonate well right now. However, I also feel a tremendous amount of peace. I know your life is God's and not mine nor your dad's. I read about how this week you are forming 100 brain cells per minute, and I'm astounded. Life is so precious, so remarkable. You are already a little miracle. I never understood just how miraculous each life is until I began to carry one.

On another note, I ate 10 pickles this weekend. I even dreamed about pickles. I'm not sure if you will love them or hate them at this point. I can no longer be trusted to grocery shop responsibility. The cart is full of pickles and potato chips.


January 30th,

Little one,
Your mom is sick as a dog, but I still can't help but smile. Yesterday, we saw your little body, just the size a jelly bean. Aunt Jessi calls you the "little sprout," and it's catching on. You are comfortably hanging out, like you are laying on a hammock in the sun. We saw your heartbeat, and tears starting rolling down our cheeks. I've never seen a picture so beautiful, never heard a sound so beautiful. We recorded your heart beat on our phones and texted it to our families- not a dry eye across the state.
Your dad and I were completely taken back. You really are there!


February 10th,

You are 10 weeks today! I'm realizing more and more that this body is no longer my own. You are in there, getting everything you need, and  my body is changing dramatically. Maybe not dramatically, but it sure feels like it.
We had a little scare today, you and I. Apparently my blood pressure is extremely low, which caused me to pass out (in the nursery at church, of all places!). We spent the morning and afternoon in the ER, getting pumped with fluids and being monitored (and hiding out from your father's coworkers so they wouldn't find out we were pregnant yet). The doctor reassured us that you would be perfectly fine, your momma is just a little high-risk at the moment.

Today was also the day of your great-grandma's funeral. You may have felt my blood pressure rising as I continually told the nurses that we had to be discharged to make it there on time.  I can't remember feeling such relief and sadness is one day. It's a day I never want to relive. I wish you could have met her. It's hard for me to swallow that we found out about you just a few days after her death, I just wanted to tell her about you.


Feb 12th,

Because of our little "incident" on Sunday, your daddy and I got to see you again today. We wanted to make sure you were healthy as can be. We were astonished at how big you have gotten in just two weeks! You are just moving and shaking in there, having a ball. Rolling around, kicking and squirming. You sort of look like a baby T-rex, with the body that is not yet proportionate. It looks like my fainting episode didn't effect you one bit. We are so thankful.


Feb 23rd,

We have made it to officially 12 weeks! It's becoming a bit difficult to hide now, as my my body is showing the evidence that you are there. I can't begin to tell you how amazed we are every time we read about your development - your organs are already formed, all of your fingers and toes, you are even beginning to have hair follicles. It's difficult to comprehend.
We really do have an amazing creator.

Thankfully, that awful nausea has subsided and my energy is climbing. As long as I can work out, I am feeling great. Looks like you really enjoy it too!


March 2nd,

Hooray! We are into the 2nd trimester! I'm hopeful that this will be the best yet!!








Nothing like packing it all in when I can. After my work was finished in the Bay Area, my mom flew out to meet me. Three days of no work, and all play... full of (mostly) sunshine, warm (er) weather that we've seen in months, and lots of delicious food!





We did everything from exploring Fisherman's Wharf, biking the Golden Gate, picnicking in the park, wandering around Marin County, hunting down restaurants that had fresh oysters, soaking in the views at Twin Peaks, venturing around different neighborhoods, getting pampered and walking...lots and lots of walking. I love any exercise I can get these days! It was wonderful!




Although the company we rented bikes from was a bit vague on how to actually get to the bridge, we found our way eventually. It wasn't too windy of a day, which made the ride more enjoyable than frightening across the bridge.



Baby bump on the bridge (It looks bigger in person, black is just very slimming ;)




Among our other outdoor adventures, we enjoyed the views at Twin Peaks after packing in miles of walking, shopping and feasting (Are you seeing a theme here?)...




 Although the city has some great things to offer, I'm a bit biased towards the towns across the bay. Just a short ferry ride away and it feels like you are in another world.




In Sausalito, we stumbled upon an candy shop that brought back every childhood memory of both my mom and I! Can't tell you how many, "oh my gosh, remember...!!" happened within a ten minute period. Someone was really excited about finding an old favorite:




We sat at lunch for a good hour, getting sunkissed and watching the sailboats. (This is about the time that I wondered how I earth we've endured such a horrible winter, and how could we go back to it!)




Alas. Here we are back in Michigan. Getting, you guessed it, another snow storm! It's still good to be back home after 10 days away.



I had a work trip out to San Francisco (similar to last year), so of course, what a perfect opportunity to take advantage of NICE weather and stay a few extra days. In between some very long work days, I had about a day and a half to chill...so my travel buddy (and sis-in-law), Kelly, made the quick flight from Denver and we did some exploring outside of the busy city.


We took a road trip to Napa Valley, with no real agenda except to explore the market, stores, vineyards and take in some fresh air. I love me some wine, so it was a tad bit of a tease getting to only see the vineyards and not taste...but one day I'll return!


Oxbow was a great market to stop at! If we would have known the trip was so quick from San Fran to the Valley, we would have just eaten a large brunch at the market...but that didn't stop of from taste testing and getting some food to picnic with later.


Neither of us had been to Napa Valley before, so we weren't really sure what to expect. There are so many vineyards to stop at it's a bit overwhelming. Trial and Error - rent a bike and go as slow as possible, then you can enjoy seeing each of the unique establishments rather than continually stepping on the breaks ;/ There were a lot of U-Turns in a car.


From Napa, we headed to Sonoma, since we planned on taking Route 1 back to the city. I'd go back to Sonoma in a second- such a quaint, sweet little town with plenty to see and do...and drink. (for those of us who aren't preggers)


(And some useless information for your Monday enjoyment: Anyone watch the Bachelor? One of the previous bachelors, Ben, co-owns the Envolve Winery. Apparently the Kardashians are friends with him and they just finished filming some scenes of them visiting...)

We took the country roads to hook onto Route 1- just so we could dip our toes in the Pacific.


The countryside feels like your in an entirely new world! It would be hard not be out here every weekend if you lived in the bustling city. If you don't have a weak stomach, that is.

Unfortunately, I've had to learn the hard way that traveling while pregnant is an entirely new ball game. Flying is not so enjoyable, and nor are longer car rides. I've always had a good case of motion sickness from winding roads, but this was a whole new level of awful. Thankfully when we stopped, we got to enjoy the sunset at Stinson Beach.


You can now name me the worst travel buddy of all time, because the rest of Roue 1 consisted of me with my head out of the window praying to get teletransported to the hotel. We made it, but I spent the rest of the night in bed. In my defense, please look at this road and tell me that it doesn't make make your head spin with how many turns and switchbacks there are..all on a cliff. It does have the views going for it though...



The next day, we waited in a long line in the Mission to try a restaurant that a co-worker always raves about, Foreign Cinema. It was one of those "I'm not sure what I'm ordering..." sort of places, but the atmosphere and end result were well worth the vague descriptions.



I had read about some great places to visit that are more "outdoorsy" in the city, so we ventured there. That always tends to happen...neither one of us can handle too much of the busy city life. Fresh air is always a nice repreave!


We ventured over to a small, affluent neighborhood where some famous people reside, and thought we'd admire some of the homes and stretch our legs a bit. Little did we know we'd stumble upon a little gem of a beach, cliffs and just about the best running path created!


If you ever find yourself in San Fran and need some fresh air and good views, go to Lands End. Promise you won't be disappointed!


We crammed a lot into a day and a half and got an entire new view of the Bay Area than we did last year! I just now know to avoid Route 1 north of the city :)




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