Friday, September 28, 2012

year 5

I can hardly believe it's that time of year again. This weekend, September 29th will be me and my husband's 5th wedding anniversary. Man time flies. So, 2 years ago I wrote about how we met and how he is my best friend (both are still true, especially the first one) but this year all I can think about is how hard this past year has been and wonder why he'd want to stay married to me. It has really been a challenging one for us. This time last year we first saw the house we are now in the process of buying. Back then we never would have imagined purchasing a house would be so difficult. Typically it's selling your current house that is the struggle. Well we sold ours 3 months ago and are still waiting to close on our future one. 
As if that wouldn't put enough of a strain on a marriage we also had a baby in June. She has been a true blessing, but one more challenge for sure to work through in the midst of everything else. 
With my hormones being jacked up, a lack of sleep, and not being able to handle stress in the first place I'm sure that I've become unbearable to live with. There have been numerous times this year that I have broken down at the most random times. Times when I didn't know how in the world we were going to fix all the things the bank flagged in the appraisal because I was already exhausted just thinking about the work involved. Through it all Joel has tried so hard to keep not only his but my spirits up and remind me that it would all be worth it. At times he gave me tough love but I needed to hear it. I have not been very supportive or encouraging to him. 
When Joel gets home from work, tired and beaten down Harper always has the biggest grin on her face. She knows he is someone special. She tries to watch whatever he is doing while smiling the whole time just waiting to get his attention. 
I too know he is special. This year has not been easy but he has been by my side through it all. I know other people expect to have a perfect marriage, where nothing goes wrong ever, but it's during the rough patches that I realize he's in it for the long haul. He is faithful as a husband and father. I feel so blessed to have him in my life. I will choose to love him for as long as he will let me!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

on mount vernon avenue

So as promised a while ago here is my first "before/after renovation on the house" how I worded that? Where better to start than the front porch. The funny thing is that that is definitely not something we gave any thought to doing this summer, but thanks to the bank we had to basically paint anything that was chipping. Just what I wanted to spend lots of time and money on! So here is the true before picture...

The nice thing is the previous owner replaced the siding before an agreement to buy was in the works. It's gray like it was meant to be ours.

The new siding actually improved the look of the house greatly but it wasn't until we painted over the old dirty white paint on the trim and covered up the remaining green paint that we realized what a difference it would make.

While it was not going to be a priority I still think it was well worth all the hours and work our friends put in to make our house look fresh and new. 
My husband and I tend to gravitate towards grays as it is a safe color and goes with everything, but we thought the porch needed a pop of color. We painted the ceiling a coral color and I could not be happier with the outcome. It's not overwhelming and you don't always have to look at it if you don't want to...just don't look up. It's a little bit of Savannah in Cincinnati if you ask me.

 We also painted the back porch coral...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

home sweet home

Since the beginning of July we have been working nonstop trying to complete projects around the house. We started out with an FHA loan but then were able to switch to a conventional one hoping that meant the things that were flagged to be repaired in order for us to get our loan would then be overlooked...this was not the case. This has been the hardest, longest, and most challenging process I've ever experienced. The stuff we started out working on ended up not even being mentioned in the appraisal report so we put that on hold to begin painting the exterior. The hardest part was finding the time to get things done. When we finally got the appraisal report Joel was back in school so we only had nights and weekends to work. Having a baby created another obstacle to work around. One of us had to be caring for her or if we were lucky she'd take a short nap so that we both could frantically work before it got dark. As a result we left the house to come back to our friends', where we are temporarily staying feeling worn out, frustrated, and like there was no end in sight. 
Joel and I are aware of the gift we've been given, to be able to buy a home for half (if not more) of it's value, and in an area we thought it'd take years before we'd get to move to. We can tell the current owner is so ready to be done with all of this as well. He is still paying the bills, going over to turn lights on at night, and taking trash out so it appears as though someone lives there. I don't blame him. I too wish this could be over. Seeing our stuff in the house and completing projects is such a tease. I want so badly to just relax on our freshly painted porch at night. Lay on my couch and watch my tv that hasn't been turned on in three months...such stupid things, I know but when you leave your home every night to sleep somewhere else you begin to realize the kind of things that you take for granted. 
We realized we could not finish things by ourselves so a handful of our friends came over tonight to get it done. Many of them worked for six hours straight, painting trim along our roof and in places I wasn't about to go. I have never known people like this before. In the back of my mind I seriously doubted anyone would show and I began to break down (like I've been doing a lot lately). Why did they have to give up their week night with their family to come help us? They didn't. Thanks to them we got it done and the night before the final appraisal! 
I truly feel a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. We could not have gotten all that work done by ourselves...we tried. I love our friends and now thanks to them we will someday soon be living within walking distance to them.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Good riddance summer!

I typically love the summertime-my husband is home from work and we get to travel to see family. We eat, stay up late, and tend to buy things we don't need just because. Well this summer was different. There were days when I looked forward to running to the store for formula just to have time to myself. I quickly tired of eating out because it turned into an everyday occurrence. Any extra money we had went towards gallons upon gallons of paint...
We are still living with our friends. We really thought we'd be in our house by now but the bank is being very particular about the hoops we must jump through to get our loan. While it has been nice completing jobs we would have eventually gotten to, they are definitely not the things we would have chosen to do right away. Although we are still homeless and may need to consider going with a different bank to complete this process there is hope in the air. The start of Fall has brought with it clean crisp air that makes me look forward to the time I will soon spend on our freshly painted front porch with my family. Hope that by the time we buy pumpkins and it's nice enough to keep the windows open and not need the air on anymore that we will be enjoying our home. Our place that we've already put plenty of blood, sweat, and lots of tears into. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Costa Rica

 The summer before my freshman year of high school I realized I had to make a change in my life. I had friends and went to church but something was missing, my faith was not my own-I had been going through the motions but my heart was not into it. Something finally clicked for me that summer and I thought to myself "people don't feel sorry for you when you are feeling sorry for yourself". It may sound dumb but it woke me up somehow. As a result I signed up for a mission trip to Kosova. I had never been out of the country before and I only kind of knew a couple of people that were signed up to go. This was beyond out of my comfort zone. Looking back I can't even remember what we were originally going to do there because a couple of meetings in my missions minister said the Kosova trip was off. They apparently had overbooked and no longer needed us where we would have been serving. Our team was disappointed but eager to learn of another opportunity that mysteriously presented itself. This would be a trip to Costa Rica to work alongside missionaries our church was supporting at the time, doing odd jobs they were not able to do themselves.
Our team was too big to stay with Rick and Debra, the missionaries, so we had to split up into smaller groups to stay with families from the church. I was excited to learn that I would be staying at their home. They were such genuine, selfless people and I looked forward to spending more time with them. The first night Rick and Debra gave us the rundown about what to expect, what we'd be doing that week, and gave us a tour of their house with the exception of their room which was off limits to us. As missionaries allowing multiple groups to stay with them throughout the year they needed a place that was just theirs.
I am sorry to say a lot of what we did that week is now a blur. I vaguely remember painting the church, spending time with the locals, seeing a volcano, walking through the rainforest, and learning how to salsa dance. These are not the things that stick out to me when I look back on that trip.
Like I said before, I was lucky enough to stay with Rick and Debra along with my missions minister Chris, another trip leader named Brad, and a couple of girls my age. The day we were scheduled to leave we were woken up by Rick screaming, "No Debra! Why God, why?" Still somewhat asleep and not realizing what was going on we stayed in our room until Brad ran in to pray with us. Still unsure about what had happened all I could think was, "Rick is hurt and needs help. Why are we not helping him?" Debra had died in her sleep and all we could do was pray for Rick. It was unreal. How could this amazing week we just spent with them end in such a tragic way? The rest of our team met us at the house and we waited around on the porch in disbelief about what we were experiencing. Our flight was later in the day so we tried to stay out of the way as Rick and Chris made arrangements. A couple of hours later Chris came to get us escorting us to Rick's room. There was something so personal about it. This was a room that none of us had been in and now we were invited to come in and stand around their bed as Rick held Debra one last time. Rick wanted us there, surrounding them to thank us for being there for him, for being his family.
I believe Debra was going to die that week whether we were there or not, but God worked it out so that Rick would not be alone. This trip, this amazing, life-altering experience opened my eyes to a God that cares about the details. A God that cares about his people. I just don't know how a person can experience something like that and think it was all just a coincidence. I fully believe we were meant to be there that week for something greater than what we did the days leading up to Debra's death.         

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"The hardest job is the best job!"

Nothing you may read or learn from other parents about parenting can come close to preparing you for the real thing. Having a baby has really put things into perspective for me. I had all of these fantasies about what kind of mom I'd be but it wasn't until I actually became a mom that I realized that's just what they were, fantasies. Now I understand how a woman can go hours upon hours without bathing or eating. I've even had to put peeing on the back burner a couple of times...which I never thought I'd see as a luxury but it totally is! The first two weeks we had Harper at home were a little rough to say the least. I felt like a zombie. The 2 1/2-3hrs between feedings were just not cutting it. Do I try to rest, sterilize nipples, pump, clean the house, entertain guests, shower, check Facebook, take my medicine? It was not nearly enough time to do anything at all. 
 I have never experienced anything like this before and I don't regret it even the slightest bit. I am constantly in awe that my husband and I could create something so perfect. She has surpassed anything I ever imagined she would be with her sweet little face and growing personality. There is something so special about being a mom. Part of me feels bad for Joel because he didn't get to experience being pregnant and even now I see the bond I share with her that they just don't have. I secretly love it though. Sometimes I am the only one that can comfort her. Sometimes when I'm holding her over my shoulder to calm her she puts her head in my neck or even up to my face to be closer to me. I'm sure Joel will be her favorite soon enough but for now I'm going to take advantage of it.
All that to say it hasn't been picture perfect or anything like I expected and I'm tired a lot of the time but when I look at my daughter's face I am so thankful she's mine. God blessed us with something we will never deserve and I hope I never take it for granted. 


Thursday, June 28, 2012

craft rooms

The area I will miss the most in our current house is my craft room. When we found out we were expecting I had to relocate and downsize so that the baby's room could be on the same floor as ours. I went from having a whole room to store my craft stuff in to a much smaller, oddly shaped area at the top of the stairs. I love it though. I had to be very intentional about where I put things and what I decided to keep.

When you have a lot to put in a small space I found it worked best to hang as much stuff as possible to conserve floor space. I used a pegboard on the back wall to hang my baskets on and tried to keep like things together. 

Although I really loved this space I am already looking forward to all the possibilities the next craft area holds...

Friday, June 22, 2012

having my baby

Harper Louise Willison
Born 9:01 am June 9, 2012
Weighing in at 6lb. 6oz.

I started having contractions at 6 am the Friday morning before she was born. That means I was laboring for 27 hours total...most of which were spent at home, without drugs, without control of my fluids, and as a result my husband may look at me differently.  Throughout the day the pain continued to become more and more unbearable. I kept asking when I should go to the hospital and the common response was when I felt like I wanted to die then I would be ready to go. Ok, that's helpful. I thought that moment came around 2 am so I woke Joel up sure that we would be staying at the hospital that night. I was wrong. After waiting in Triage while still in pain and then finally being checked after another 15 minutes of waiting we were told I was still only 1 1/2cm dilated. I wasn't near death enough apparently because they sent me home. They did give me a pill that didn't help me sleep or cut the pain but did however make me feel groggy. So we went home to continue laboring. I don't remember much after this point but Joel said it was pretty rough and that he may look at me differently now. I didn't think it was possible but the contractions did get worse and I wanted to die even more so than the first time so by 7 am Saturday morning I told Joel I was going back to the hospital and staying whether they wanted me there or not. When they checked me this time I had progressed to 7cm and they could tell the baby was breech so I went directly in to surgery and the baby was out 2 hours later. I really don't think I would have been capable of a vaginal birth when it was all said and done. I was so ready to get my drugs and just lay there.
We are constantly in disbelief that she is ours. You just can't imagine the love that you will have for your child until you finally meet them. No matter how much sleep we lose or how many diapers we have to change it all is worth it and when I look at her little face I just can't imagine our lives without her in it now.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Someone's Mother

Any day now I will become a mom. Last month a couple of people wished me a happy Mother's Day and honestly it made me feel a little uneasy, for lack of a better word. Yes I know I am technically growing my daughter inside of me at the moment making me a mom to be but to say that I am one already is beyond strange. Do I know the first thing about being a good mom? What it will take day in and day out to raise her in the best way possible? It makes me nervous to think I don't. I want to think it's something you figure out as you go. I have to believe that my being scared I will fail somehow plays into the bigger picture. As much as I try to plan and prepare before her arrival there is no possible way for me to feel ready for something I have never experienced before. 
Growing up I don't remember critiquing my parents' parenting style. I remember my mom trying to make the small things seem so important and doing everything in her power to get me where I wanted to be including coming up with the money for church trips and college. It was never about getting my way, it was more about the support she gave us at any cost. The love that she had/has for her 3 very different daughters knows no bounds. I never doubted my mom's love for me. That is what I hope shines through when she's my age, covering over years of things I think I should've done differently...that Harper will never question the love I have for her, that although we may not do everything perfectly as her parents we tried to keep what was best for her in the any cost to us.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

we are not meant to live alone

"Share your life with the people you love, even if it means saving up for a ticket and going without a few things for a while to make it work. There are enough long lonely days of the same old thing, and if you let enough years pass, and if you let the routine steamroll your life, you'll wake up one day, isolated and weary, and wonder what happened to all those old friends. You'll wonder why all you share is Christmas cards, and why life feels lonely and bone-dry. We were made to live connected and close, as close as we all were for those few days in Alameda, holding one another's babies, taking turns stirring whatever's on the stove.
So walk across the street, or drive across town, or fly across the country, but don't let really intimate loving friendships become the last item on a long to-do list. Good friendships are like breakfast. You think you're too busy to eat breakfast, but then you find yourself exhausted and cranky halfway through the day, and discover that your attempt to save time totally backfired. In the same way, you can try to go it alone because you don't have time or because your house is too messy to have people over, or because making new friends is like the very worst parts of dating. But halfway through a hard day or a hard week, you'll realize in a flash that you're breathtakingly lonely, and that the Christmas cards aren't much company. Get up, make a phone call, buy a cheap ticket, open your front door.
Because there really is nothing like good friends, like the sounds of their laughter and the tones of their voices and the things they teach us in the quietest, smallest moments."
-Shauna Niequist

I love Shauna's books. You could read them every year and learn something new about life/yourself from the year before. I am definitely in a different place than I was the first time I read Bittersweet. I am pregnant and moving out of my first home, two huge life altering things and they are happening at the same time. Also, two things she has experienced and has written about. The excerpt above was a great reminder to me of why we are moving in the first place. We love the people God has brought into our lives so why wouldn't we want to be closer to them? To be able to walk to each others' house whenever we want. I don't take offense but I've come to realize when you live 20 minutes away from everyone you're not the first person they think about hanging out with. I know I've missed out on spontaneous girl time and Joel doesn't get to run with our guy friends as often as he'd like. These things may seem small but like Shauna writes, we are not meant to be alone and especially now I am realizing these men and women we have been blessed to meet are our family. They can't replace our actual relatives but for this short time in our lives we get to do life with them. How special is that? People that would not hesitate to stop what they are doing in a moments notice to help you. These kind of people are rare and if you get a chance to be near them, you take it.

Friday, June 1, 2012


This post may be more for me than anyone else. Like a "dear diary" entry. I just need to work out my thoughts somewhere. Change is inevitable but that doesn't make it easier to accept, especially when it involves giving up something you've invested so much time and love into. 

This journey officially started back in November. Joel and I had just found out we were pregnant, which meant we would be raising our baby in an area we haven't felt completely safe in. When Joel bought our house in college it was perfect for our needs. He could walk to work and it was affordable. He bought the house, gutted it, and I moved in a year later. Nearly 6 years have passed now, Joel has a new job, and we are very involved in our church. The problem is both are across town. I love this house. It's where we had our "where is this relationship going" talk while redoing the floors late at night. I wanted to know I'd be living here if I was investing my time into it. The house we were newlyweds in, bringing our separate lives together to figure out how to make it work as one unit. We made a baby here and it will be the first place she will live, although she will not have any recollection of it. The walls in each room have been painted at least 3 times, furniture has been switched out numerous times, and we have learned the definition of compromise in the process. This place has not just been a place to house our treasures but it has been a part of us since the beginning. How do you leave a place to begin a new chapter when this one feels so comfortable and complete?

That leads me to the biggest blessing and answer to prayer I've ever been a part of. Like I said this started in November when our friend Jason introduced us to a drinking buddy of his named Jack. A kind older man that owned a home on Jason's street. This was his childhood home where his sister continued to live up until she passed a couple of years ago. The house was never on the market and Jack was not in any rush to sell either. It was more important to him that he find an owner that would take care of and love the home as he did as opposed to flipping it for a profit. That's where we come in. We fit the profile so we met with Jack and did a walk through. It is a charming home and more importantly in the area we want to live, close to church and all of our friends. While houses are depreciating in value everywhere else, this house due to the area it's in will only increase in value over time. How is it that we could afford a home in another area let alone one worth way more than the asking price? Like I said Jack is not only kind but generous, very generous. He is basically giving us a house. Who does that? It's really the only way it would be possible for us to move. 

I truly believe timing is everything...
Joel seemed more than ready to get the ball rolling back in November when we first saw the house but I was still a little skeptical. Refer back to the second paragraph. Was I really ready to leave our first home? The home we gutted that was practically brand new to move to a home we would have to work on little by little as we had the money and all while figuring out how to raise a baby? I allowed time to pass to see if God would change my heart or possibly Joel's. When May rolled around I began to pray that he would make it more than obvious if moving was for sure the route we needed to pursue. God reminded me that no matter what house we live in can be made into a home. This house surely did not start out looking the way we wanted it to but to move to an area where we can walk our baby to a friend's house or a store and feel safe is what's more important to me. Also, how often do you meet someone that wants to sell you a house for half of what it's worth because you are the right people to own it? A home that he has been willing to hold out selling as long as you say your interested? That is not an opportunity you pass up. 

When I finally told Joel we needed to actively pursue buying the house he was shocked. He had been praying for an answer as well and this was it. To know that it was something I finally wanted too was the answer he needed. We put our house on the market the next week, a week after that someone came through to look at it, and it was a matter of days before they made an offer. If you know anything about the housing market or even the housing market particularly in the area we live in you know this doesn't happen EVER. I had no doubt that our house would show well. I love our house, but for someone to make an offer on it 9 days after you list is unheard of. God, all God! We are meant to live in Oakley.

The way the details have come together is what gets me through. Knowing we can walk to a friend's house or church is what I have to keep reminding myself. A house is a house and it is what you make of it. Although it will be hard to leave and think about someone else living in it I know it will come to mean as much to the new owner as it has us. Thanks to everyone who has prayed for us and that this would come together as God willed it to. I have no doubt he has been in every last detail and it will be the biggest blessing we will know. Please continue to pray that I can be positive about this and not become too overwhelmed by the timing of it all. We will be moving with a newborn and I don't deal well with stress.

On a lighter note...
I hope to blog more now that I am unemployed so as we renovate little by little I hope to document the process here. 
Stay tuned!

A Dad Bag

In the time that I have been pregnant it has not taken long for me to realize that showers and baby stuff, especially girly baby stuff is more for me than Joel. I didn't want him to start feeling neglected well before the baby was even born so I decided to put a bag together with some odds and ends that were just for him. I planned to give it to him at our 4th and final shower. His co-workers at the school he teaches at were throwing it for us so he had to attend this one...I even made him open all the gifts this time.

I wrapped the gifts up to resemble mail, mostly to introduce him to some of the new titles he may be referred to as...procreator, pappy, and patriarch.

He got a new gym bag for the hospital, some chips and candy, a magazine, t-shirt, and frame I etched "Daddy and Harper" onto.
I'm sure I'm not the first person to think to do this and I didn't put anything too exciting together, but I think it was special for Joel and a small way to let him know that having a baby isn't just about me and the baby. He has been so supportive and nurturing throughout this experience. Of course I am excited about having a precious daughter at the end of this, but when people ask what I'm most excited about I have to say it's seeing Joel as a dad. He is so good with toddlers but to see him with our little baby will be such a special day for me. I picked a good one. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Only a few more months to go!

Before I knew I was pregnant I had all of these ideas about how I'd document my pregnancy but here I am 6 months pregnant and only 2 pictures to show for it...where did the time go?

I am starting to come to the realization that this baby is coming sooner rather than later and we need to prepare NOW! It has been nice to feel motivated for once. We (Joel mostly) finally finished the coffee table and I love how it turned out. The boards are salvaged from Building Value and the legs are metal pipes from Home Depot. If you want to replicate it try to stick with as few pieces as you can, they start to add up quickly.

We have been buying the sweetest baby clothes lately. I keep having to talk myself out of buying newborn outfits because she won't have anything to wear when she's 3 months but they are just so much cuter when they're smaller. Joel was a little cowboy as a kid so his mom had to buy this horse onesie for the baby.

We also got this sweet little dress for her. I can't wait to see her in it!

Upstairs is a wreck but Harper's room is nearly finished. We chose a plum purple because the furniture is white. I thought it'd be a nice balance.

Our friends gave us the rocking chair and a little wooden chest. We already had a bookcase, the ottoman is from the living room, and my mom crocheted the rug for us.

This is just a sneak peak because we still need to get our crib and dresser. Things are starting to come together. We are getting excited and a little nervous but I can't wait to meet her.

Monday, January 30, 2012

It's a girl!

A week ago today we found out we are having a baby girl! I had a strong feeling it would be a girl, so much so I had already started buying decorations for her room.
At the sonogram appointment we got a little dose of what's to come-she had her arms behind her head and her legs crossed nearly the whole time. She will be a super model like her dad and modest like her mom. 

We would have been excited no matter what the outcome but now that I know I'm having a girl I intend to go all out with the ruffles and flowers. Sorry Joel.

I think we have settled on the name Harper Louise. When we first found out we were expecting Joel and  I separately made a list of boy and girl names we liked and then compared. Harper was one we both liked and it has grown on us more and more since then.

 It's crazy to say we are halfway there. In just a few short months I get to meet my baby...MY baby!