I can't believe it's been 2 YEARS since I last wrote on my blog!!! I'm so sorry! I never intended to go that long!
And I hope it’s worth the wait!
A lot has happened in the last 2 years. Blaine is growing like a weed! And she’s learning so much. About a month ago she started speech/cognitive therapy to help her talk and she went from being able to say about 100 words to now at least 200. Seeing the progress she’s made in such a short time has been an absolute blessing! (SIDE NOTE: Our community has a CRC (Children’s Resource Center) that’s funded by the state. Our family doctor said he thought Blaine could benefit from speech therapy but after discovering our insurance wouldn’t cover it (~$500/session!), we looked for other options and came across the CRC. It’s completely free for everyone! They suggest kids get tested before the age of 2 to determine if there are any areas they can help them to improve. Basically Blaine was great in most areas, but needed help in talking. So the CRC actually comes all the way out to our house to ‘play’ with Blaine for about 30 min each session! Not only that, there have been a few behavioral areas that we wanted help with – Blaine is a SUPER picky eater for one, and two, she was getting SO frustrated when she wanted something or needed something and couldn’t vocalize that to us, and that resulted in screaming, throwing, tantrums, etc. The CRC has helped to teach me ways to help Blaine and let me tell you, it feels like a night and day difference! She is now saying ‘help’ instead of having a meltdown; she is saying ‘drink-um’ when she is thirsty; saying ‘sit down’ or ‘snack’ when she wants to eat (as in sit down in her high chair).
A few rather big pieces of family news to share!!!! First, what everyone pretty much knows about by now – We are expecting baby #2!!!! I’m currently 21 weeks along and am due May 6, 2018. This has definitely been a rollercoaster ride of a pregnancy. It took a few extra months to get pregnant this time around… mostly, I think, due to bad timing. When they say each pregnancy is different, well, they aren’t lying!!! lol This time around has been much more difficult – more morning sickness (and for different reasons – sugar and a stuffy nose triggers me this time… with Blaine it was weird smells and the bitter cold air). With Blaine I suffered from lots of headaches the first trimester while this time not so much. But the big difference is that this time, I’m dealing with high blood pressure (which is honestly freaking me out). Right around Thanksgiving I started noticing that I was out of breath just sitting on the couch, watching TV, or even just talking to someone on the phone! Then one night I felt so ‘off’ that I just couldn’t sleep. I tested my BP all night long and it stayed high – the highest was 198/97. That scared Scott and I both that he took me to the doctor that morning. I’m not on a BP medicine to help and it is working. Plus I’m being very closely monitored by 3 doctor’s and a PA. But I have to say I’m so thankful for #1 modern medicine! And #2 for having such AMAZING doctors who care so much about my health! (different doctor than I had with Blaine – it’s a long story, but the short version: When Blaine was born, she had a normal, non-emergency, birth but when we got the itemized bill, the hospital had charged us twice for the 2 largest amounts, overcharging us almost $8,000!!!! Now most of that was refunded back to our insurance, but it just made me so mad that it even happened! So we switched to a different doctor/hospital system up in Billings, MT. And I have never been happier about that decision as the medical team there is incredible!)
We have had 2 ultrasounds now and the baby is growing on target! And I’m sure many of you will be asking…. Scott and I found out last Thursday what the gender is, BUT we are making it a surprise for all our friends/family!
Scott is doing great!!! He’s still working at the local John Deere store and when he can, he’s working on the house too.
For me personally, things are going great! Other than being very tired lately, I’m still sewing as much as I can and working to expand the items I make. This past summer I had the idea to make wristlet bags (that can have a cross-body strap added too), and making them with fun accents like I use on my show clothing! I launched my first wave of them about a month ago which went over so well that I’ll be adding them to my permanent line up AND at any time I’ll be taking custom orders for them too! (They make great gifts!!!)
Ok, the much anticipated progress report on our house!!!! In 2015 and 2016 our ‘progress’ was basically at a standstill because we worked to pay off ALL of our credit card debt that we had to incur when we discovered we were pregnant with Blaine (putting in running water, electricity, heat, basic appliances….). I’m thrilled to say that our hard work has paid off because we paid off about $30k we had on CC’s!!! Not only that, but we had renters in our Ohio house (yes… it didn’t sell, so about a year after we moved here to WY we had renters there for just over 2 years) and they moved out in May. We put the house up for sale ASAP and after one crazy summer, including thinking it was sold at one point, we finally had a cash offer on the house that we accepted and it allowed us to sell it without owing money to the mortgage company. The house closed just 1 week before Thanksgiving and we are still partly in disbelief and haven’t had it fully sink in yet either that it has sold! But it gave us something to be incredibly thankful for, given the time of the year!
Now since we’ve accomplished those 2 major goals (pay off debt, sell OH house so we don’t have that mortgage/liability), we are now dreaming, planning, and finishing out our Wyoming house!!!!!!!!!!!! YEAH!!!
Over the summer, while I was in Ohio visiting my family, Scott put up 95% of the insulation and drywall in the living room (not mudded or painted yet). He also reconfigured the layout of the stairs (they are still just temporary stairs until we figure out definitively how we want the layout in the living room). Last Christmas we upgraded the kitchen with a working sink (just a utility sink for now that will later on go in a future garage – you may be wondering why we didn’t just add a permanent sink at that time… the reason is because we weren’t 100% sure what we wanted for kitchen cabinets. Since they are expensive, we didn’t want to get something that we’d later need to replace, so that’s why we thought it was best to just use the utility sink.) We also found (January 2017), a GORGEOUS double sink console with white cabinet base, marble countertop, and did I mention it has 2 SINKS!!!!!! It was at Costco for only $799 which was about half what they sell them for at Lowes! That was a huge upgrade for us! Around Valentine’s Day 2017, Scott surprised me with (wait for it…) a new toilet! Haha! In case you don’t recall, the first toilet we had was from the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store. It had something wrong with it and we had to constantly flush it by hand with a bucket of water – even after we had the water hooked up to it we still had issues with it. So the new toilet we have is AMAZING!! It is pressure-assisted, meaning that it forces the water at a high pressure as opposed to just allowing gravity flush the toilet. We have always struggled with needing to plunge, and this has literally solved our problem! Plus it practically cleans itself from the high pressure!
The next big house improvement was in ~April when we FINALLY had the well guy come out and hook up the well to our pump house so Scott no longer needed to haul water in for us!!!!! We now have UNLIMITED water at our finger tips! Now we have discovered one thing about our system…. The float system within our water storage tanks isn’t working like it’s supposed to. But no problem! We have the well on its own breaker, so about once every 1-2 weeks, Scott turns it on to have the well fill the tanks. We really don’t use that much water, so our tanks would probably last us an easy 4 weeks, maybe even 5 weeks before running completely dry – but we don’t want to do that to our well and have it work overtime to fill both tanks, so we turn the breaker on sooner than that.
Next up was not exactly house related, but Scott had our 2 vehicles winterized – new tires, new brakes on the Impala; then over $2k in work done on the Bronco to be sure it was safe for Blaine and I as an emergency vehicle this winter, just in case! Have I mentioned how much I love my husband? He’s always thinking ahead; always making sure Blaine and I are safe and have our basic needs met. I just appreciate that so much about him!
Just before winter hit, Scott re-did the wood stove piping. The previous pipe went up about 3’ out of the top of the stove then exited the side wall of the house. The pipe on the outside went up the remaining ~15’. We had several problems with this layout. First, the WY wind (winter wind up to 130mph approximately). When it was windy, we either couldn’t light the fire OR once lit it would just want to smoke and literally smoke us out of the house! Last year, one night we lit the fire before bed (no wind at that time), and within a few house the wind picked up and we had so much smoke in the house that Blaine and I had to sit in the car, with it turned on, from about midnight to 4am, just to stay safe…. All the while Scott had every window/door open and had to pour water on the fire to put it out! This scenario had happened to us at least 4 times each winter. What Scott discovered was the inside pipe we originally purchased from Tractor Supply was just basic, non-insulated, single tube piping. So he upgraded us to double walled, insulated pipe for the inside of the house AND made it 8’ taller than it previously was inside the house. This allows the pipe inside the house to stay warmer, preventing a cold down draft from smoking us out! Since we haven’t finished out the inside of the house (the wall) and we are planning our first add on already (for summer 2018), the old ‘hole’ left behind will be easily covered (temporarily right now until we determine the final look we want). Let me just say that so far this year, the new stove pipe has been PERFECT!!!! The only thing we have to watch for is we can’t use the dryer at the same time we have a fire going. For whatever reason, the vacuum suction from the dryer, doesn’t allow the stove to get enough air and makes the fire want to go out. But if that’s the worst issue we have, I can live with that! I don’t particularly like doing laundry anyway! Always a silver lining right?!?
Our current project!!! Since our OH house sold, we’ve been dreaming about finishing the bathroom! We had all the basics – sink, toilet, walk in shower – but no finished floors, walls, ceiling, etc. FINALLY I have decided what I want it to look like!! Finally!! (I can design elaborate show clothing, no problem, but ask me to design my own bathroom and I have 5,000 ideas and can’t settle on anything…. That’s partly why this house project has taken much longer!) We went over Thanksgiving weekend and I picked out a Vinyl flooring. I wanted something durable and with little to no grout. What we chose has no grout!! And Scott literally just finished laying the flooring TODAY!!!!!!!! Merry Christmas to us!!! It really wasn’t that expensive – about $400 and I think he has 2.5 boxes left.
I’ve been debating on spilling the beans for the final look now or making everyone wait…. But since I’m making you all wait till the baby’s born to find out the gender, I’ll spill the beans on this one!
All the walls and the ceiling will be covered in shiplap. That’s our next step – find a place that sells the shiplap that I want! (can you believe that our Lowe’s doesn’t carry it!). Here’s your visual – the walls will have the shiplap horizontal and they will be painted white or a shade that’s close (I may have the color matched to the sink console). Then the ceiling, to make it stand out, will actually be stained a medium to dark brown!!! The ceiling will then have (I’m guessing) 2 recessed lights (one in the shower, one near the toilet) then I’ll be picking out (just wait.. could take me till next Christmas to make this decision! lol) a hanging light of some kind that will hang from the ceiling over the sinks. I think I’m going to go for a dark frame on the hanging light… maybe a rubbed bronze? Not entirely sure yet. And Scott will be putting in an exhaust fan/heater combo in the shower area too. Plus adding trim work all around and some sort of mirror(s) over the sinks. And finally, we are going to splurge for some custom work to be done – our neighbor Gordy does incredible wood work and we are going to have him do the door frame, make a custom barn door as our door, and make a custom floor to ceiling cabinet that will be extra storage for toilet paper and such (will be in that small space between the wall and toilet).
***I just got back from Cody, WY today (12/27/17) and I found a place that sells ship lap!!! Pro-Build does!!! And I’m excited to say that I’ve ordered 120 packages (4 8’ boards (1”x6”) per pack). WOW seems like a lot!!! But any extras we will use in other parts of the house!
I think I have covered all our updates up to this point… key work ‘think’!! It’s going to be a crazy 2018 for us with finishing the bathroom and welcoming a new baby into our family, but our 1 additional item we hope to accomplish in 2018 on our house is to start the new addition!!!!!!! Yes, you did read that correctly! If you are like me, you are probably curious as to why we are adding on before we even finish the first part of the house. That’s a good question! The thing is, we are VERY limited on space as it is… heck we didn’t even have a place to put a Christmas tree! So the add on is essential to create a space that we can move things to in order to finish what we have.
The add-on will be completed in 2-3 stages (depending on time/money). In 2018, the goal is to lay the foundation. Overall, I roughly estimate this phase costing about $5000. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not that much, but with also paying for hospital bills for child #2, I think that will be about all we can afford for next year. Then the plan is to add the walls/roof in phase 2, while phase 3 will be external insulation, windows, siding, inside insulation, sub floor, and drywall. There’s a chance we will be able to do this first add on in just 2 years, but realistically I’m guessing 3 years.
This add-on will be on the north side of the house. You know the barns that are tall in the center parts and then have add-on/lean-to ‘wings’ that extend out on the sides? I can’t think of the technical term for this type of barn, but essentially that is the look we are going for with this first part of the house! However, the ‘wing’ that is to the south, will actually be a covered deck! And the ‘wing’ to the north will be 3 ‘parts/rooms’: The part facing the mountains will be one large open room. This room will function first as the storage room to store things while we finish the main house; then later on it will most likely serve as Scott and I’s temporary bedroom so the kids can have the upstairs all to themselves. Honestly I’m not sure what that room will be long term. Probably a spare room or storage, but I can’t see that far into the future at this point! The second ‘room’ is actually going to be a walk through hallway. It will serve as a hallway into a future add-on, but in the meantime will most likely be used to store things and help declutter the main house (probably put my treadmill in there or maybe some of the kids’ toys. Finally the third room will be a large 1+ car garage! (Scott will be SO excited!) It will easily be 1 car wide (with a little wiggle room) but more than a car deep. And it will actually be used as a garage! Scott really wants a space to work on the vehicles plus a place where we can easily paint/stain boards or whatever project we are working on.
The exciting part about this entire adventure is the constant dreaming and planning! When Scott and I were dating, we’d go on ‘dates’ to Home Depot or Lowes and just dream about what we wanted for appliances or a future kitchen! It’s so much fun to be doing it now and to see these dreams become reality!
Here’s to dreaming big and having a great 2018!!! And stay tuned! I plan on posting LOTS more this year to keep you all updated! And remember – if you have questions about anything we are doing (or not doing), just ask!! I love discussing our thought process and learning new things along the way!
First - here's a visual of how the add-on's will look! (just switched around... deck will be on the south side, enclosed area on the north side - and no second level deck).
Below is a sneak peak at the vanity/floor in the bathroom!!! ALL walls will be white ship lap boards (horizontally). The vanity is sitting on cardboard temporarily since we have to scoot it out to finish the wall behind it.
Finally, below is a visual of what I want the walls/ceiling to look like! I know I want a dark stain on the ceiling, but I need to play around with a stain color before committing to one as I want it all to look good together. And I LOVE the dark color of the light fixtures! Now to just pick something! (Seriously the hardest part of a self-build is coming up with final decisions!)
Let me know what you think!!! I love hearing from everyone!