Sunday, August 28, 2011

Worth the Frustration

Where do I even begin? This house hunt has me feeling like I need to be admitted to a psych hospital. I feel crazy, sad, upset, angry, and down right frustrated. This is not the first time we have tried house hunting while living in our 922 Ira Ave. house. Just last year or maybe even the year before too (it's all a blur) we started looking for homes in Kalamazoo. Specifically, we started in Portage and Texas Corners, hoping there would be something we could fix up a little and make our next home that we could live in for quite a while. It was easily shot down after all the homes were selling in the 300-350K mark, and still needed brand new kitchens and more than we were willing to pay for updates. So...we started enteraining the idea of building. We found this great neigborhood Thistlewood in Richland, with nice big 2 acre lots. I was so excited about  building that I had a lot picked out and was already bugging Jason about putting the money down on it. It was a close call. It wasn't shortly thereafter that we realized it just wasn't fitting all our needs. We were going to be farther away from friends and not to mention family, and we weren't convinced the schools were just right for us even though we have heard wonderful things.

Another year passed and Jason mentions one night that maybe we just need to move to GR. Every weekend either we go to GR to be with my parents or they come here. We never spend the night at each other's house cause it's not too far away but sometimes far enough. My parents play a HUGE (that's understated) role in our lives. They help with our house projects and LOVE spending every moment they can with Austin. It only makes sense to move closer to family. I asked Jason what it would take for us to move, and he said, you have to find a job. Low and behold, I found a dream job. I am still waiting to start, but it's hard to believe I have found something that seems like it's going to fit me so perfectly.

So what now? I found a job and of course we need a house. Being close to my parents house is an absolute MUST. We need to be close to M-6 or 131 because Jason is going to commute to Battle Creek everyday. Byon Center seems like the happy medium because it's a tad further south and less than 10 minutes from my parents. The house hunt has been less than ideal. We are running into some of the same issues when we were looking in Kalamazoo. Nobody has money to put back into their house since they lost so much with the recession. Houses need more work than I am willing to live in considering I lived in a lot of construction with our current home. I don't mind some easy fixes but when the house needs a new kitchen and all remodeled baths, not to mention changing out every piece of gold, it's just not worth it. Byron Center is filled with lakes and I have often dreamed of that lifestyle of living on the lake with sand in your own backyard. But I am not so sure I am willing to pay the price of that either. Michigan is filled with beautiful beaches and it was always a treat as a child to spend a whole day there as a family. Plus, I'd hate to trade that for a nice big grassy backyard.

I think Jason and I want to have our cake and eat it too. We spent a whole day this weekend looking for lots and places to build. Checking out builders and going outside of our original location plans just to see what was available..... and it feels like a lost cause. I am having a hard time processing why this is so difficult.

We found a house that to me seemed perfect. Then the people took it off the market and asked for more money after recognizing they didn't have the financing to sell it at that price. Stupid, right? Well, the house is worth the price they are asking but we have come completely torn about paying the extra cost. Do we wait and build in the spring when we have more money? Do we rent until then, or do I move in with my parents with Austin? What about our own house, is that even going to sell? Should we just cave and buy the house that seems to hit most everything on my wish list?

What's worth all the frustration, is that when we are running around in GR, my parents are ecstatic to have Austin for the day. It's nice to head back to my parents after a long day and just relax. We get to take moments to take pictures, play in the grass, take walks together, and enjoy the day. I love not only seeing the huge smiles on my parents face as they play with their only grandchild, but the smile on Austin's face when he gets spoiled in every which way by Grandma and Grandpa.

Austin's First Haircut

It was a last minute decision to bring Austin to get his hair cut but it just had to be done. It was getting to the point where I was tucking his hair behind his ears, and thats not really something I think you should have to do for a boy. Most parents are dying for their kids hair to grow and we had the opposite problem. After that dark brown hair fell out when he was a baby, this abundant amount of blonde locks just came right in.

The 'before' shot
 He's not exactly sure why he has to wear this, but his look of 'what are you going to do to me' makes me smile.
 I love Melody. She has been cutting my hair since we have lived in Kalamazoo, so just about 5 years. She did such a great job and was super quick at cutting during the opportunities that she could.
 I thought sitting on my mom's lap would be enough entertainment........
 But it didn't take long before he was getting frustrated and needed a little help from the pacifier. Looking good my big boy!
 And at some point, in walks Isabelle. A 5 year old girl who wanted everything to do with Austin. She made sure to read him his favorite mirror book over and over to try to keep him entertained. How many people does it take to help cut one little boy's hair?
 The 'after' shot. One happy little boy that it's all over! Looking much better buddy, if that was even possible!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bathroom Re-do: Finished Product

 Ahhhh, feels so good to say the bathroom is now finished! Just waiting for the caulk to be fully adhered so that we can starting showering back in this bathroom again. Jason tiled the floor to match the shower.

Jason started grouting and with each layer of that, came grunting. It must be a lot harder than it looks on TV cause I think the grouting and grunting were going hand in hand.
 Sneak peak into the bathroom with the sink put back in with a new mirror placed above.

 Here's a look at the same area from inside the shower.
 A wider look into the bathroom with the toilet, towel rack, and frame of Austin all back in place. The towel rack now has room to be in between the sink and the toilet.
 A look into the back part of the shower with the custom shelving.
 Front part of the shower, grouted and ready for use very shortly!

So happy to have my shower and tub back AND with a bigger space. Who knows how long we'll be able to enjoy this new space since we are looking to put our house up for sale in just a few weeks but since we use this bathroom the most, it'll be so nice to endure every bit of it for now.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Five Years

Hard to even believe that this year is our 5 year anniversary!! Jason and I were engaged early in 2006 when Jason came back from his tour overseas. It was incredibly hard on us both, but we proved that we could withstand the 15 month seperation. I was so confident in our relationship that I even started planning the wedding while he was gone, and sent him pictures of the church and the reception hall so that he too, could become confident that I was waiting for him to come home.  We were married on August 18 of that year.
We hopped a plane the day after our wedding to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. What a beautiful honeymoon! I don't know about Jason, seeing as he's always 'in-shape' but I think I was in the best shape of my life here. Even if that was the case, Jason still beat me to the top of all the mountains that we climbed and often watched me struggle my way up from up above. First lesson as a married couple, don't ever leave your wife behind!

Our first anniversary was celebrated a month early as we headed to New York City for the 4th of July. We had a blast watching the fireworks over the Hudson River on the streets with millions of people. We filled each day with tons of sightseeing and lots of walking all over the city.

Our 2nd anniversary, we headed to Jaco Beach, Costa Rica. We went white water rafting, ziplining in the jungle, saw the largest active volcano in the world, sat in hot springs, and learned to surf for the first time together. We spent most nights on the porch of the hotel watching the evening rain storms roll in.

Our 3rd anniversary was spent visiting Jason in Dallas as he went there for a whole year for training. This once again tested our marriage as we spent the whole year apart, as I was only able to visit twice. I was in clinical rotations that year in PA school and was working hard to find my true passion in medicine. 

Our 4th anniversary, we actually spent in Minnesota. I had a conference at the Mayo Clinic and it was so nice to visit with family while we were there as well. Shortly thereafter, we had our maternity photos to celebrate the upcoming birth of our first born, Austin.

And here we are to our 5th anniversary, and not yet have we made it again on another big vacation. That's ok though, we have our whole lives to travel with our little ones. Speaking of little ones, we are happy to announce that we are expecting our second (and last) addition to the family on March 6, 2012. This next year won't be a piece of cake that's for sure. We are planning on moving to Grand Rapids very soon as I start my new job in Surgical Oncology with the Lacks Cancer Center. New house, new job, new baby! Is there anything else we should add to the mix to make it more challenging for ourselves? I think this is enough for now.

Monday, August 15, 2011

9 month stats

Height - 28 in - 45%
Weight - 21 lbs - 65%
Head- 45 cm - 52%

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bathroom Re-do Update we come! The past few days have led to many changes already taking place as the bathroom is starting to come back together again.

Last time we left off, we were drywalled without a door.  But now......A door has been installed with of course some custom MDF trim work.
 Here is a look into the bathroom with the columns Jason built around the shower corners. Not only did it hide the edge of the tile, but gave the bathroom it's own unique look. The medicine cabinet was removed as it was old and had lights on it, which are no longer needed.
 Ahhh, the parents never cease to show up on painting day! Thank the Lord for their much needed rolling and edging. The dining room is starting to look back to normal again.
 One last peak at the room with the linoleum flooring and some old hardwood underneath the laminate wood flooring that was removed to expand the bathroom.
 Here are the columns painted a fresh white.....I like!!
 Jason took out the linoleum and put down durock so that he can tile the floor.
 And there's me in my scrubs taking a pic of the new medicine cabinet. Jason wasn't sure he was going to put one in there, but with the lack of storage in this bathroom, it really is a must. I love that we have a pedestal sink in this bathroom and I wouldn't trade that due to spacing to add in storage underneath.
 Underneath the cute little window will be a mirror above the pedestal sink. And of course the porcelain bowl still needs to come back in to the far corner.
 As if this little bath didn't have enough custom features, Jason just had to add something more into the ceiling. The light and vent fan combination work well in this bath, but is accented by MDF crossbeams painted white. We have seen many custom built master bedroom ceilings that have us drooling for our own......but who says you can't do the same anywhere else in a house?
Jason is on a roll tonight and is already cutting the floor tile, so I can imagine a new posting won't be far away. All the little cuts surrounding the plumbing is going to take quite some time in such a small bath, but we are encouraged to finish this up so we can put our house on the market.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

9 months

These monthly posts seem to be coming quicker and quicker, I feel like I JUST posted about 8 months, whew!

We just finished our last night of swim lessons. We had a lot of fun splashing around, learning swim safety, singing songs, and meeting new friends. It was always such a rush to get home since class was from 6:30 to 7 and Austin is always in bed by 6:45, but it was well worth the tons of smiles from each class. He is so tuckered out by the time we get home and get into pajamas that he can barely finish his nighttime bottle before passing out in my arms.

He is so close to crawling! He loves to pivot around and push off with his toes, but not quite taking off just yet. I am in no rush for him to do that since our house is in renovation from Jason and his bathroom re-do, and that would be more of a disaster trying to keep him away from everything. It sure is fun to watch his determined face figure out how to get a toy that is so far away and out of reach.

I can't believe he is getting to be so big! He was bigger than some of the 1+ year olds in his swim class. He is a whopping 22 pounds and wearing size 24 month clothing. I keep saying that maybe when he becomes mobile he will shed a few pounds but who knows. I could keep him the exact same way forever, I love my chunky baby!! He was awarded the best eater at daycare! He eats 6 cubes of my homemade baby food for dinner with an extra yogurt cup and tops that off with his sippy cup of water and a splash of apple juice. Then with his little birdie mouth still open, he eats some puffs and yogurt melts.  He does such a good job with the sippy cup that I am encouraged at 12 months we hopefully won't have a problem getting rid of the bottle.

He sure does say 'da-da' all the time but no 'ma-ma' yet. His favorite thing still is to laugh and chase around Lily. It may not be Lily's favorite thing though considering she tries to run away from Austin's pinching grip.

Jason better hurry up and finish this bathroom re-do cause Austin will be poking his head around and getting into everything real soon!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Kellogg Bird Sanctuary

With Jason gone for National Guard and my Mom shopping in Seattle, it was another 'Mommy and Me' weekend for Austin and I.  The weather didn't cooperate with all the things that I had planned knowing in advance we would need plenty of things to do. BUT, the weather did come back around this afternoon after the storm, and it was perfect timing to head to the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary to feed the birds.

Since the moment Austin laid eyes on the birds, he was mesmorized.

 And we had only just started to feed the few geese that we saw......
 When we turned the corner and saw how many were waiting for us.......
 Tons of beautiful birds to feed, watch, and listen to all of their musical sounds.
 We were told to come back in April next year when we would see many babies of all kinds.
Glad we got to get out of the house today to do something fun together. I am also glad we are able to explore all the things Kalamazoo has to offer before we move to Grand Rapids. We haven't found a house yet, so we still have plenty of time left to visit all of our favorite places around!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bathroom Re-do

A weekend alone for my husband usually makes his wheels turn and before you know it, a space that you thought was fine, no longer is. The hard part is living through the mess but the best part is the end result. I know that my mind can let the worry float out the window because even though Jason has no concept of cleaning up during his projects, I know that in the end, the mess will get cleaned up and the space will be beautiful!

Jason's original intentions were to take up the linoleum floor in our downstairs bath to replace with tile, but that took a turn for the worse when he found a leak behind the surround part of the shower.

There aren't any 'before' pictures of the bathroom really since it was a small space to begin with. Just a pedestal sink, toilet, medicine cabinet with mirror, and a full bathtub/shower is about it. We didn't have a vent fan so the walls always became sweaty when you showered. We also had an old window above the sink that Jason was always saying he was going to get rid of.

So here's as much 'before' as I can get....the door has been removed and at least you can get a glimpse of the small space.
 Jason had to tear off the surround from the wall and decided, heck, why not tile to the top of the ceiling....
 I love the detail work that he puts into his projects. He made sure to measure all my shampoo/conditioner bottles to make sure they'd fit in the custom made shelving.
 He knew in order to expand the space, he'd have to get rid of the window in the dining space. It's a shame to take out a window but there are already three small windows lined up in the dining space, on the wall next to this one. Oh, and who doesn't love those old homes with slats? Ok, no hands are raised over here.
 The plan was to get rid of the old window you can see in the bathroom and create just a small one along the top of the ceiling.
 The wall has been expanded and drywall is starting to go up
 Out came the old window and now Jason is starting to put up the little one at the top.  I wasn't the happiest camper throughout all of this, as Jason was working on it 24/7, but when I turned my head and saw his poking through the wall, I got a well needed laugh.
 In goes the insulation.....
 And now the space has been drywalled and mudded for the most part. He also is adding in the well needed vent.
 Drywalling the outside wall and just has to cut a space for the door
 And here is where we are at so far. A place for the door has been cut and the outside is drywalled and mostly mudded. Thankfully, my parents came to visit yesterday and were a huge help in the 'clean-up' process.
It'll be nice to see the difference this all made to the small bath as it comes along. Funny how a project that started as a linoleum replacement, turns into a complete renovation. Hard to believe that the owners of this house after us, are going to get such a steal. As much as I have complained about living here, I have truly come to love this house and all the custom changes we have made to turn it into our home.  Stay tuned for more on the bathroom re-do as Jason tackles getting this done so we can finish up the rest of the house to put up for sale.
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