Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Let the Adventure Continue!!!

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!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Our Daughter, the Whoopee Cushion!! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Merry Christmas!!

Boy oh boy, the last few months have come and gone so quickly!  So much has happened in our lives and I have so many things to share with you all!

Trip to Ohio

For 2 weeks (December 2-16), Blaine and I ventured (by ourselves!) back to Ohio for a visit with our friends and family!  We flew (Billings to Denver, Denver to Dayton) and it was actually a pretty uneventful trip to Ohio!  Blaine slept nearly the entire flight to Ohio and on the way home to Wyoming she was awake most of the time just playing with a few toys and my hands.

While we were in Ohio we got to visit so many people!!  I’m apologizing in advance to anyone we didn’t get a chance to see.  My focus this trip was on family so they could meet Blaine.  Next trip will be a little bit different (since she’ll be older, we will have more trips to fun places for her like the Columbus Zoo, COSI, the Aquarium…).  I am SO VERY GRATEFUL to every single person who helped make our time in Ohio so wonderful!  Blaine is the 8th grandchild for my parents and the first grandchild and 1st great grandchild on Scott’s side.  We also made a trip over to see Lynne and my old horse Ernie!!!  We got a chance to see my Grandma Townsend too.  Our journey took us from Arcanum all the way to Cincinnati, to Dayton/Huber Heights, New Albany and even Marysville!

Blaine attended her first Jr. High and High School basketball games, went on her first college visit to Dennison College (visiting Scott’s second cousin Reed), and was with me for trips to Skyline Chili (I surprised my dad with dinner there because in his 73 years, he’s never been!!!), MaidRite, and El Toro!!  Not to mention her first time to Ohio and on a plane!

This trip would not have been possible if it wasn’t for my parents!  They went out of their way to make it so Blaine and I could visit as many people as we could possibly fit in.  I’m forever grateful to them for their hospitality!

Arriving back to Wyoming

First, there was a hiccup at the airport….  My flight was supposed to leave at 9:38am, but when we arrived at the airport we discovered the flight had been cancelled and I wasn’t leaving till 4:50pm now!!  (I don’t fly very often and didn’t even think to check to be sure my flight wasn’t cancelled).  So back to my parent’s house we went!  Luckily, everything went smoothly on the 4:50pm flight.  The last leg I even had two empty seats next to me!

Our flight was about 30 minutes late getting to the Billings airport, but boy was Scott excited to see us!!  It’s been a while since I’ve seen his face light up like that!  Blaine, who was awake about 75% of the plane ride home, was completely zonked out when we met up with Scott!  As much as I loved going to Ohio for a visit, I was so very happy to be home (where there was NO humidity and lots of sunshine!). And I’m pretty sure, this will be the first and last time Blaine and I will have a trip without daddy!  He really missed us!

It took us forever to finally get to the house!  It was snowing and bitterly cold.  I don’t think we got back till nearly midnight!  And the house looked so different!  Scott was very busy while we were gone.

Family Updates

Blaine is growing like a weed!!  She is changing daily and her personality has started to develop.  We are so blessed to have her in our lives!  She is the happiest little girl! 

While in Ohio, Blaine has a few new tricks…..  First, she can now roll over onto her belly all by herself!  Now she can’t roll to her back, so we have to keep a close eye on her.  Second, she has discovered her voice!  Now she’s just making basic baby sounds, but it’s so cute!  And finally, I saved the best for last… we now have a human whoopee cushion on our hands!!!!  For the first hour of our ride home from the airport, little missy had to show off her new trick and we laughed nearly the whole way home!  Plus the best part is she chooses to do it at the most perfect moments!

In a day, Blaine will be 4 months old already! I can hardly believe it!  And this week she has her 4 month doctor’s appointment (not looking forward to her getting shots!).

She had definitely gotten longer and seems to have gained at least 1-2 lbs.  Right now she is in all her 6 month and even 6-9 month clothes for length.

House Updates

My goodness we have some exciting news!!!!  For 19 months we brought all our water in with 5 gallon buckets.  About 16 of those months, we had to individually fill up the buckets from a neighbor’s outdoor faucet!  Then we upgraded to a 210 gallon tank that Scott would fill up at the Powell water docks (about $2-3 a month for water!).  Well the day after Thanksgiving this year, we officially had our water hooked up!!  Now there were a few hiccups up through yesterday that I’ll explain…..   First we had some trouble with the pressure tank.  What we realized was it was a 220 and not a 110 (that’s what Scott thought he had ordered).  Once that was properly hooked up the pressure tank worked great!  Then the same thing happened with the water pump! Scott did order 2 110 pumps (one for the well and one for the cistern), and we realized it was a 220, he fixed it right away!

The cellar/pump house (it is not at all connected to the house) is completed!  It has a concrete foundation with the walls being made from cinder blocks and the roof is made from treated wood.  The roof also has a ‘hatch’ with quick access to put water in the cistern.  The floor of the pump house is graveled with wood pallets covered in plywood on top.  Scott did this on purpose so if there was ever a leak, the water would have some place to go.  And sure enough, we accidentally tested this out!!  Our neighbor has a bigger water tank and said he’d haul 350 gallons for us (our tank had frozen solid and we were in the process of thawing it out).  Well, I thought the new attachment on the hatch was hooked to the cistern (apparently it wasn’t!) and we managed to put 350 gallons of water in the pump house, but not in the cistern!  It was all my fault and I felt so stupid when it happened, but Scott just laughed and said it could happen to anyone and for me to take it as a ‘test’ of our system! (I thank my lucky stars every single day that I met and married a man who doesn’t get mad at mistakes!)

Two nights after I was home from Ohio, I woke up in the middle of the night with such bad acid reflux that it made me get sick.  So I told Scott I’d just take a shower…. Well, that didn’t work out because for some reason we were completely out of water! We thought it was going down a lot faster than it should have.  After Scott brought 3 loads of water (600 gallons), we only had 500 gallons and discovered that where the PVC connected to the house, somehow the PVC got sliced.  Scott thinks he may have hit the pipe when filling in the dirt.  So he spent all Saturday digging up the pipe and fixing it, but now it appears everything is in working order!!!

The next step is hooking everything to the well….. However there is a small hiccup to that.  Remember how I said the well pump was supposed to be a 110 but we found out it is actually a 220?  Well, the electric line is for a 110 and it is already buried in the ground!  So, (thank goodness for the tractor!) Scott now has to dig another trench for another wire before we can get our water system hooked to the well.  But that’s ok!! 

For those of you curious – our cistern holds 500 gallons and is skinny and tall, that way we can get it in and out of the door (in case we ever decide to put another one down there).  Our pressure tank is HUGE – it holds 120 gallons of water and is considered ‘medical grade’.  Our water tank (in the bed of the truck) holds 210 gallons, but the most we put in it is 200 gallons.  We now have a stock tank heater that will keep it from freezing and actually unthawed the tank (after about 10 days)!  We are going to try and always have it full (with the heater in it) so we will have 200 gallons in the tank, 500 in the cistern, and 120 in the pressure tank, plus about 10 5-gallon buckets of water on hand in case of an emergency (we try to always prepare ahead).  As the cistern water goes down 200 gallons, Scott will fill it with the water tank, and then get another load.

We’ve had several people ask how we were going to keep everything from freezing and so far so good!  First, the cellar is half underground (Scott hit rock while he was digging so he could only go so deep) and on the outside of the cellar walls is left over 2” rigid foam from when we insulated the outside of our house.  Also, Scott insulated the ceiling of the cellar too.  The pipes are also wrapped in foam insulation and for extra security, there is a small heater in there too.  Plus, Scott got a black tarp and put on top of the cellar roof to help heat it up with the warm sun!

It has been a long 19 months of sponge baths, heating ALL our water on either the wood stove or our kitchen stove, and even flushing the toilet by hand!! Now I feel spoiled rotten with the luxury of a stand up, on demand, hot shower!!

While I was in Ohio, Scott did so much to the house!  First, he completely rearranged things!  He moved quite a few boxes up to the loft (still a handful left to move this week).  But the exciting thing – WE HAVE STAIRS!!!  Now they aren’t completed yet because Scott wanted my opinion on how to do the bottom landing (have it continue along the wall, or extend into the living room – I chose the latter so we’d have more wall space).  He now needs to buy a few 2x4’s to complete them, but that should be done this week!  Now we are waiting to ‘finish’ them for a while.  Our goal this winter is to use up materials we have on hand while spending very little (we unfortunately have a few bills to pay off that were a necessity to get electricity and running water).  We have been using an aluminum ladder to get into the loft up until this point!  Even at 7 months pregnant, I was still climbing the ladder to go to bed!  I will try to post a picture as soon as I get to town so show you what we want the finished stairs to look like!

Scott also has our dishwasher hooked up!!  We are hoping to test it out tonight (things have been crazy since I’ve been home… getting settled in and all).  I’m so excited to share with you how that goes!

But we are continuously making progress on our house!  Over the next few months the goal is to finish the stairs and also wire in all the lights and outlets in the downstairs, finish tiling the shower, and finish the drywall in the bathroom.

A Very Special Christmas!

Christmas came early for us! My parents flew Blaine and I home (Scott unfortunately had to work and couldn’t come) and we were surprised by so many family members and friends that invited us over, took us out to eat, and even surprised us with gifts!!  You are the reason we are able to celebrate Christmas this year!  You all mean so much to us and we can’t thank you enough for everything you have done for us!  Thank you all so much for all the gifts for Blaine!  She loves all her toys and clothes!

When I got back from Ohio, Scott had saved all our Christmas cards for when I got home.  I just love Christmas time and getting Christmas cards!  All the cards are very special to us, but 2 amazing people surprised us with the most amazing Christmas gift!  We received a card of friendship in the mail from a very amazing friend of ours with a gift to go towards our sink fund!!  In case you didn’t know, we do not have a sink.  We’ve been using a ‘temporary sink’ that we got from a second hand store and it drains into a bucket (which we then use the dirty water to flush the toilet), but that sink is in pretty bad shape.  Just before we left Ohio, we had a family member also help us to get our sink!!!  Now, we are excited to announce, that because of these two amazing and completely surprising gifts, our sink is on its way here!!!  And we have a little money toward getting the plumbing/sink cabinet base too!  Scott and I can’t thank you both enough for making this Christmas extra special for us! Your kindness will NEVER be forgotten and you will always be a part of our house, and a story to share with our children someday!

This year, Scott and I have not been able to buy gifts for each other or for Blaine, so these gifts, plus all the special gifts that our friends and family have given to us, mean more to us than you will ever know!  In years past, just to see gifts under the tree, I have wrapped things we already own (mostly me just being silly).  Christmas is my most favorite time of the year and these last few years when we were either saving money to move to Wyoming or since we’ve been here and we’ve been putting any extra money we have into the ‘basics’ of a house, it always hits home when I can’t buy gifts for the people I love.  So friends and family, I’m so sorry, but this is another year that we have to forgo gifts to our friends, family and even to each other and Blaine.  I hope you understand our priority to complete our house.  Soon enough though we will be able to spoil you all again!

And to everyone who has sent gifts for Blaine, who gave/sent us Christmas gifts, and who has continually supported us and our crazy Wyoming Adventure, we appreciate you more than you know!  You are the reason we have the Christmas Spirit!  (As I’m typing this, my child is being a human whoopee cushion!!! Haha).

And this year, we were not planning on having a Christmas tree. But our awesome neighbors surprised us with a permit for us to go get a tree!!!  And since Scott rearranged the house, we actually have room for one downstairs!  We are so excited to go cut down our tree this week!

I want to say again just how thankful we are to all of our friends, family, and neighbors! Your continued support and encouragement really has kept our spirit and fire going through all of our craziness!  We love you all so much and hope that you have a very Merry and blessed Christmas! 

PS, all your Christmas cards will likely turn into Happy New Years or maybe even Happy Valentine’s Day cards because I didn’t get them made/sent before going back to Ohio.  But I’ll get them out!  Last year I started a tradition of Wyoming post cards sent out, so I’m planning on hand writing them all again this year too.  Last year we also started another tradition of keeping all our Christmas cards and putting them in ‘books’ so that we can look back at them in future years.  We love receiving your Christmas cards!!!  Thank you so much for thinking of us this time of year!



Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Welcome Blaine Akley Adkins!!!

Blaine’s Birth Story!

On Friday, August 21, 2015, I was 4 days overdue (doctor had my due date as Monday the 17th, but we had it as the 18th – 3 days overdue). My hips were very sore and it was becoming difficult to get around.  Scott and I were both ready for Blaine to make her appearance so we decided to take action to make it happen!!  Scott actually played hookie from work since I wasn’t feeling the best, and boy am I glad he did!  We got so much accomplished with cleaning the house, organizing, etc – mostly Scott, but I tagged along and helped a little.  That afternoon we decided we were going to try and wiggle her out!  So we took a 45 min drive in the Bronco (it’s a bit bumpy!) around our back gravel roads and even up to Scott’s friend Nate’s land too.  Then, we took a short nap followed by a trip to Walmart to walk around for 1 hour and in the process stocked up on bottled water and groceries.  That night we relaxed at home for a few hours before falling asleep around 10pm. 

I remember waking up around 11pm with slight cramping but I was so tired I just rolled over and went back to sleep till 3am.  I woke up at 3am with more cramping and after trying several times to go to the bathroom with no success I realized they could be contractions! I started timing them, and after having 3-4 of them that lasted ~1 min each with 5 minutes in between I just knew it was time to head to the hospital!!  At this time, and for the last 2 months, I had been sleeping on the couch (closer to the bathroom!) so I woke Scott up and told him it was time!  He was so excited!  As I was getting dressed and ready, Scott was getting everything put in the car and making sure the cats were good to go for the next several days.  By the way, the cats knew something was up!!  Buddy was following us everywhere and while I was on the couch sleeping through my contractions, Tiger and Tuffy were sleeping with me too!

We left for the hospital at about 3:45-4am.  It is about a 30 minute drive (but with NO traffic) to the hospital and on the way we were careful because of any animals.  It was REALLY windy that night and I remember it was cold outside, maybe in the 50s.  We didn’t encounter any large animals, but we did have a skunk (our first live WY skunk we’ve seen) and a jack rabbit that we maneuvered around.

We arrived at the hospital about 4:15am.  It took about 10 minutes to check in at the ER (I had called ahead that we were on our way) and then we headed straight for labor and delivery, room 30.  First they wanted to check all my vitals and hooked me to 2 monitors – one for my contractions and one to monitor Blaine’s heart rate.  After confirming I was in labor, they gave us 1 hour where we could get settled into the room and do whatever we wanted until they came to do blood work and go over things with us.  During this time they let me take a nice long shower that felt so good!

When they came back in the room, they checked me (dilated 4cm, 80 effaced, baby at -1 meaning she was still really high) then said I had to walk the hospital.  This was interesting – The hospital is very small and was so quiet and peaceful.  We walked the halls for about 30-45 minutes and the whole time Scott and I were joking with each other!  We kept passing empty wheelchairs and we joked he could push me around in one instead of me walking! And we even came across a ‘Quiet Room’ and we said we should just go in there an hide! Haha  I’m so glad I had my ‘partner in crime’ with me there! Scott was incredible!

They also had me use a birthing ball several times throughout the day – basically it’s just an exercise ball that I had to sit on and bounce to help progress everything.

One of the ‘bad parts’ of my experience was actually when they put the IV in my arm.  I have hard veins to find and they put it in my left wrist and had to dig around to find my vein!  OMG it hurt so bad I was crying!  Also when they had to check me for dilation, because Blaine was so high up, it hurt so bad that I was crying during that too. 

By about noon on Saturday, August 22, I was only dilated to a 5-6cm and had stalled on progressing, but my contractions were getting closer together and more painful to the point they also made me cry! So I finally gave in to an epidural.  First they had to give me a bag of fluid and then the anesthesiologist came in.  Of the entire experience, getting the epidural was by far the worst part for me!  Maybe because I was so tired at this point or nervous/scared for everything, but I started panicking!  They had me sit up on the edge of the bed and bend my back out like a cat would.  I was panicking so much at this point that I was having trouble with my breathing and my BP was over 200!  If it wasn’t for Scott, there is no way I could have gotten through the epidural.  He stood in front of me, holding me still while I had a death grip on him too (and they had me hugging a pillow at the same time).  He coached me through breathing and did a great job helping me to hold still.  Finally when it was done, within 20 minutes  I could feel the epidural waiting and that was when I was happy I had one!  I was so out of it that I actually fell asleep for 3-4 hours!  And Scott did the same!  While sleeping, they began with a Pitocin IV to help the contractions and dilation progress more.  I couldn’t feel anything for quite a while (so thankful!), but they had to continually up my CC’s of Pitocin all the way to a 14!  They did this at about 6-7pm).  Within about an hour, I went from being 6-7cm dilated to ‘Oh my gosh I’m ready to push!’ And I began feeling the contractions so strongly through the epidural that they made me cry every time. During this hour, I had another not-so-fun experience.  The high amounts of Pitocin made me sick, several times!  Then, I started shaking all over – like when you are cold and your teeth chatter, well, my entire body did this!  They said that’s a sign I’m ready to go!  So thankfully they turned down my Pitocin. 

I had to labor through the contractions a bit longer, then finally they said when I felt ready I could start pushing.  It was very tiring to push, but doing so made me not feel the contractions, so I really didn’t mind this part.  I pushed during each contraction I had for 45 minutes.  Then the nurse said it was time to get the doctor!!  He was 15 minutes away, and this was probably one of the most difficult parts of the experience – holding and not pushing at all during the contractions for the 15 minutes till the doctor came!  Once there, I only had to push through I believe 2 sets of contractions until Blaine arrived!!

It was an instant feeling of relief!  But I got so nervous once she was out that I actually didn’t cry!  Blaine did not cry at all – not for her shots or with getting her foot pricked for her DNA testing – not at all!! 

Our hospital insists on placing the baby directly on the mom for skin to skin contact.  I have to admit that before I had her, I wasn’t sure about this because I’ve seen pictures of babies where they are slimy or funny colored.  I was pretty sure I wanted them to clean her up first, but I went with it!  And to my surprise, she wasn’t slimy and she was beautifully colored!!!  She was on my chest with her eyes open and holding both my finger and daddy’s finger too!  That moment has to be one of the most amazing moments of my life!

Now while this was happening, I actually was getting stitches – 15 of them from second degree tearing.  But it wasn’t too bad and after the first day I really wasn’t that sore.
Blaine Akley Adkins was born at 9:31pm on 8/22/15, was 8 lbs 2 oz (then a week and a half later was 8 lbs 13 oz!!!) and she was 19.5 in long. Her first doctor's appointment was a week and a half later. Not only had she gained weight but she was up to 20.5" long and was in the 75th percentile for both height and weight!  Like I said, she's growing so fast already!

That first night was tough – I was so physically exhausted and unbelievably hungry.  I wanted desperately to sleep but Blaine wasn’t a very happy camper.  I tried to breast feed her with no luck.  She latched perfectly but I had no milk and she was not happy because of that.  It tore me up inside to see her unhappy so we made the decision to just go to formula so she could eat something.  Once we did that she was such a happy baby!!! 

That first day we realized that Blaine would actually be staying with us in the hospital room the entire time we were there.  She was never taken to a nursery and the only time she left the room was to do her hearing test (she passed with flying colors!) and for her newborn pictures (the nurses do this for free!! And they turned out so great!).  Scott stayed with me the entire time, even sleeping at the hospital to be with us!  We had to feed and change her all ourselves the entire time we were at the hospital, but if we ever had questions or needed help, the nurses were great.  Scott was so nice to me – my hospital bed was really uncomfortable so he let me sleep in the lazy boy chair and he slept on the hospital bed!  And most of the time we were in the hospital, I held Blaine and she slept on me.

Now the first time Scott held Blaine was pretty comical!!  Scott had never held a baby before in his life so this moment was really special to us!  It was funny because he didn’t know what to do.  He had the boppy on his lap and sat her in it, then he proceeded to ‘pet’ her head! I just had to laugh!!

I have to say just how wonderful my husband is! He was amazing through the entire experience and I have to say, I don’t know if I would have gotten through it without him!  Before hand he said he didn’t want to see anything happen at all (during the labor/birth) but after a few hours he was a part of it all and watched the whole thing happen.  (probably a little TMI, but part of the story).  During the entire time he did so much for me from rubbing my shoulders and my back during my contractions, to coaching me on breathing during my panic attack with my epidural.  I’m so lucky and so blessed to have such an amazing husband and now father to our daughter!!

We were finally able to come home from the hospital on Monday around lunch time.  We had to make a few pit stops first – to get my iron pills (after having Blaine, my white blood count was off so I have to take iron pills for 100 days) and to get Blaine more of the Similac liquid formula that she was on at the hospital.

The First Week

As expected, the first week was very tiring!!  Scott stayed home with Blaine and I on Monday and Tuesday, but had to return to work on Wednesday.  I am a very light sleeper to begin with and I was already sleeping on the couch (because of needing to go to the bathroom so often while pregnant!), so I continued sleeping on the couch with Blaine’s bed next to it. 

For the first few days, she was up hourly to feed!!  By the end of the week she was getting better but still very inconsistent, not knowing her days from her nights.  By Friday, I was so exhausted I had Scott stay up with her so I could get some sleep and wouldn’t you know it, Blaine slept 5 hours straight that night!  Scott looked up information on getting her on a good schedule so now, every night we have the same routine at or around the same time and it works!! 

The First Month

Now, at the end of the first month, Blaine is sleeping stretches of ~5-6 hours then another 2-3 hours and on/off all day.  She has fallen in love with the WabbaNub (pacifier attached to a stuffed animal).  The first time we gave it to her she wanted to cuddle it so she had to have an additional pacifier just to suck on!  She is now getting better each day at holding her head up and steadying it when she’s against my chest.  My parents came to visit for 8 days and she was a rock star!!  She didn’t fuss or cause any problems during the day.  But there were a few nights where she took longer than normal to ‘chill out’ before going to sleep.  We think that was from a growth spurt she had!  She’s really good at focusing on people and things with her eyes now too.  Scott has even been left alone with her on 2 occasions for about 2-3 hours each time and I have to say he did wonderful! The first time was quite comical because he said as soon as I left she was in her crazy mood and he said nothing he did would settle her down!  When I walked into the door he looked at me and said, ‘She’s all yours!’ and later told me how thankful he is that I’m the stay at home parent and not him! 

Blaine has been a wonderful blessing on our family!!  We are so happy to have her and she really does make our days more interesting!  She is growing so fast!  She doesn’t have another doctor’s appointment till 2 months, but I would guess she’s about 9-10 lbs now!  Her newborn sized clothing is really tight, so I’ve been putting her in her 0-3 months and even some of her 3-6 month clothing already.  She’s so long in her torso and the 3-6 month fit her very comfortably (plus they are easier for me to put on her!).  She has the biggest personality already! It’s funny to touch her when she’s asleep because she ‘freaks out’ by throwing her arms into the air with her fingers spread wide apart!  We think it’s the funniest thing!  And she absolutely LOVES going outside!  Every night we take her for a walk in her stroller and she just loves it!  And if she gets fussy, that’s the one thing that always cheers her up – taking a ride in her stroller!

We fall more in love with her with each passing day and are so thankful she is a part of our family!

My First Doctor Appointment

I have my first post-partum appointment coming up here soon.  I’m feeling basically 90% back to normal.  I had gained 21 lbs overall with her and I’ve lost nearly all of it so far.  Last I checked I only had 2-3 lbs to go!  However, my belly is still all over the place from being stretched out, so that is going to take a while to get back to where it was before.  I’m too scared to try on my pre-pregnancy jeans, so I’m still wearing my maternity pants right now! Haha!  I don’t anticipate there being any issues from the doctor and I expect to be able to go back to normal activity here very soon.  I’m looking forward to helping Scott more!  I’ll keep you posted in the next few weeks how that appointment goes.

House Updates

We have been working really hard on our house updates, or rather finishing up projects we have started (trying not to spend any money until after we get Blaine’s hospital bill!).  Scott is back to work on the cellar to get it completed by winter.  He has 3 full rows of blocks completed all the way around (with the solid concrete foundation below those blocks).  Once he gets 5-6 rows completed then we can go ahead and get the cistern and hook it up (because at that point he will be too short to complete from the inside anyway).  When he wasn’t able to work on the cellar, he was inside hooking up all our plumbing!!!  Everything is hooked up or in place except for the plumbing for the kitchen sink.  We have it ready to go, it just needs to be threaded through the wall and have the on/off valve put on it (we are procrastinating this because we would need to move all the stuff away from that kitchen wall).  We also have our washer and dryer hooked up and working!!!  No more going to the Laundromat anymore!!!  You may be wondering how we are able to do this without having our cistern hooked up??  Well, we are doing it the hard way – 2 5 gallon buckets for the wash cycle and 2 more for the rinse cycle!  But it’s better than trying to figure out how to get all our laundry and a baby to the Laundromat!

Scott has additionally cleaned up and organized all the stuff outside!  For the last year, we’ve had some stuff here and some there scattered about the property.  We like things neat and organized and so he moved the trailers away from the house, stacked all the good wood and building supplies in one area, moved the scooters and stored them inside (and not in the house!!), and drug the driveway  again too.

Current project:  It’s imperative that we focus on finishing things up before winter, which will be here before we know it!!  Our number one concern right now is getting the cellar and cistern completed so we don’t have to worry about water freezing this winter!  Next on our to-do list is to stock up for winter – we need to get lots of wood pallets to be used for kindling and we need to get at least a full pallet of the compressed wood bricks to use in the wood stove.  Since we have electricity this year, we will also have the use of our infrared heaters plus the heat generated from using the dryer and the stove/oven too.  I expect we will be nice and toasty warm all winter!

All around us the farmers are finishing up in the fields.  Right now they are harvesting alfalfa seed, sugar beets, and corn for silage.  Our sage brush is changing colors to fall colors.  And the temperatures have finally started dropping from the 90s/100s to 80s/90s at the moment – very soon though it should drop to around the 60s/70s.

 I will do my best to post newborn and one month photos next time I get to the library.  My computer here is too slow to upload.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Our 4th Anniversary - It's getting real, bring on the contractions!

Today, August 3rd, is Scott and I's 4th wedding anniversary!!!!  We were reminiscing this morning about all that we've accomplished in the last 4 years (to us it's incredible!!).  Many of you may not know our 'Story' and this would be a great time to share it with you!

Scott and I met online.  I was a senior in college (the first time) and he had just come home from his 7th deployment and was home for good.  We talked online for 2 weeks non stop!  I can honestly say that before I ever even met him, I had fallen in love with him!  There's just something unbelievable about him - maybe it's that ornery smile, or sparkling eyes, but I am still head over heels for Scott!

After 2 weeks we had our first real date!!  We met at John Bryan State Park in Yellowsprings and went hiking.  (Realizing that given his military experience and the fact he's 10 yrs older than me, it probably wasn't the best idea to take someone you've never met before into the woods!!! lol)  It was a great date!!!  At one point we came to a spot where there were lots of tree logs down and we sat down and just talked for a while.  He looked at me and said, 'Are you always this quiet?' and I said 'No!! I normally talk like crazy!' but I was so nervous.  Scott told me, 'I'm normally not talkative, but there's something about you that I just feel like I can tell you anything!'. 
After hiking, Scott still wanted to do more with me so he took me to dinner at TGIFriday's then after that we went to a movie and saw 'What Happens In Vegas' where he held my hand!!! Then afterwards he still wanted to hang out more!  I was very skeptical and nervous at this point... I really didn't want him to go to my apartment, but I chanced it.  The funny part is I didn't have a couch, only a bed, so we propped up all my pillows along the wall and sat on it like it was a couch, watching the moving 8 Seconds!  And he only held my hand!!  He was so sweet and such a gentleman!

That was the beginning of the rest of our lives!  We dated for 3 years before we finally got married.  It was Christmas 2010, three days after Christmas actually, that Scott 'proposed' - I use this term loosely because he never actually asked me to marry him!! haha!  I had pneumonia really bad that year, so Christmas came a few days later for me.  He was living down in TN at the time (for work) and I was at the house taking care of everything for him.  In TN, he got me a jacket from the Hard Rock CafĂ©.  When he gave it to me he asked me to try it on to be sure it fit, and naturally I put my hands in the pockets and sure enough, there was an engagement ring in one of the pockets!!!  My eyes widened and I ran to him hugging and kissing him - yet he never actually asked me to marry him!! 

Flash forward to August 2011 - I had really wanted a family wedding at a special place, but things just never seemed to come together and we really didn't want to ask any family to help pay for the wedding.  Plus things just started to get to the point where the wedding ideas were to make everyone else happy and not necessarily what we wanted.  I had just been told I had 5 vacation days coming to me from work and on a Thursday, Scott looks at me and says, 'Let's just elope! Let's go to Gatlinburg and just get married the two of us!' And of course I jumped on board!  So the next day I cleared it with my boss to take a few days off work the next week.  And then I was going crazy non-stop all weekend making my wedding dress.  It wasn't anything fancy at all - ~$100 in fabric (a white, light weight linen-like fabric with white embroidered hibiscus flowers on it).  Finally, at 2-3am on Wednesday, August 3rd, I finished my dress, got a few hours of sleep, drove to Gatlinburg, got our marriage license, and got married that night - on a Wednesday night!!!  It was perfect! Just the two of us!  The funny part was while I was saying my vows, Scott kept looking directly at me and it kept making me want to laugh!  If you know us, you know that should come as no surprise!!! 

We were only in Gatlinburg for a few days - not really a honeymoon, but at least it was a couple days for us to enjoy ourselves.  Someday we want to renew our vows on our property in Wyoming and to have a real honeymoon!  Someday:)

Well, 4 years later, even with everything we've been through, I can't imagine my life with anyone else!  And especially this year, with Blaine coming, this anniversary is extra special!

House Updates
I feel so silly because I left my phone cord at home so I can't upload some pictures to share with you!  It's been hot this last week so Scott has been working inside.  He has the plumbing for the toilet at least started and in the wall/ceiling.  And, the super exciting part for us right now - he added the insulation in the one wall and dry-walled about 90% of the bathroom!! There are just a few small pieces that still need cut and put up which I think he's planning on doing tonight.  This is the first time in 16+ months, that we can use the bathroom in privacy!! It's weird! And it currently echo's in there too! :)

It appears the temps maybe cooling down later this week, so Scott will be getting outside and working more on the cellar so we can get the water cistern tank in there and ready to use!!  So close!

Baby Blaine Updates
Over the last week, I've started to feel lots of pressure and slight, mild pains in my pelvis area.  Plus now I'm not feeling Blaine move around as much because she's started settling down!  Holy cow, just 2 weeks from her due date and it's starting to really become reality!

I had my 38th week Dr appointment today and it went really well! I was very hydrated (wahoo!), my BP was actually really good (normally it's on the high side of normal), and Blaine's heart rate has been consistently in the 150's!  But here's the interesting part....  As I'm laying on the table and the Dr just measured my belly, he is holding my belly and says, 'You're having a contraction!'.  I figured something was happening because I was having some pain in my lower back, but I wasn't completely sure what it was.  I honestly thought it was probably just the way I was laying on the table that was making it hurt.  He and I both think it was just a Braxton Hicks contraction, but I have been having them on/off all morning now.  This should be interesting!!!! 

Scott is bound and determined that Blaine is going to arrive exactly on her due date, so when I told him this morning that I had a contraction at the doctor's office, his eyes got huge and I think it's becoming real that she may come before then!

Nothing else much that's new....  I'm feeling good other than the increased pressure.  And I did gain another 3lbs this week so now I'm up 15 lbs total. 

I'll keep you all posted!!!!  But for now, there is no additional baby news to share yet:)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Blaine is now Full Term!!!

I wish I had more to post about, but we don't have a lot!

On the Home Front:

Not a lot new to tell.  We had our neighbor boy, Brian, come over a week or so ago and he helped organize some of the piles of building materials we had outside and he also bagged up lots of trash/foam that we had blow away, all over the property and in our 'coulee' (natural ditch area).  That was a HUGE help!! 

Scott is still periodically working on the cellar, although these last few weeks we've had some wind, some rain in the evenings, and lots of heat!  But since we are in the homestretch with Blaine, Scott and I have fell into a 'relaxing while we still can' routine.  This past weekend he was incredible - he helped me clean and do dishes all day Saturday, then we had our neighbors, Rich, Jackie and Brian, over for dinner (first time we've EVER had any one over for dinner here or in Ohio!!).  We had a lot of fun!  It was interesting to see how the cats would behave, but they actually did very well!  I was so afraid they would try to get on the table or in everyone's plates!

Nothing else new on the home front.

Baby Blaine Update
She's still in there!!!  Today was my 37 week appointment and it went really well!  She's now considered full term and can come at anytime within the next 5 weeks.  Her due date is August 18th (3 weeks from today), but I secretly have my fingers crossed for next Monday (August 3rd) as her arrival date - that's our wedding anniversary!  I was actually born on my parent's anniversary and thought it would be fun if she was born on ours too!

Blaine is measuring (with the belly measurement) at 37 weeks (that's good), my dehydration seems to be under control (finally!) and I think I've been having Braxton Hicks contractions (not positive as she could just be pushing on my belly).  The doc checked me last week and I was dilated no more than 1 cm.  Now he said unless I request (which I won't be), he won't be checking me again until I'm admitted to the hospital.

Scott is really starting to get excited (as am I!).  Over the weekend he actually put the car seat in the car, the window shades are in the car, and even my hospital bag is in the car and all ready to go!!
AND, I'm so excited to share this!!!  Last night, we were hanging out on the couch watching some of our DVDs and Blaine started really kicking and pushing.  So I grabbed Scott's hand and for the FIRST TIME, he felt her move/kick!!!!  You'd think by now he would have felt it, but every time he'd try to feel her, she'd stop!  Plus I've been couch bound for about 2-3 weeks now (no more climbing the squeaky ladder).  And that makes less Scotty time for me.  (You don't realize how much you just miss having the other person next to you until you are stuck on the couch!!)

Now Scott and I have talked about this extensively, but we've decided that when I go into labor, I will be texting/posting to FB that we are headed to the hospital!  We realize pretty much everyone we know is everywhere but Wyoming and you've all been following us through our crazy adventure, so as much as I'm able to, I'll be updating you all with our baby progress.  HOWEVER, we do ask that you do NOT call us while we are in the hospital.  If you do, we will not answer, so just be prepared.  You are welcome to text us and post to FB, but if we don't respond, please don't get upset because this is going to be a crazy time for us as we become first time parents!  If I'm able to, I will be posting/sending updates and as soon as we are home from the hospital and settled in, you are more than welcome to call!!  We would love to talk to you!  Just please don't get offended or upset if Scott and I are focused on each other and getting Blaine here in one piece.  We love you all but this is going to be a scary and exciting time for both of us and we will keep you posted as best we can!

Just keep us in your thoughts and prayers over the upcoming weeks!!!  It's going to be a crazy time for us!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

So Thankful, So Blessed!

Scott and I wanted to write this blog post just to say thank you!  We have less than 5 weeks till Blaine's due date and we are very happy and excited to meet our little lady!  The last 35 weeks have gone by so fast and if it wasn't for each of you, it would have been the most stressful 35 weeks.  We feel so blessed and lucky to have the support of so many of our wonderful friends and our family!

Blaine is one of the luckiest little girls already! Everyone's support, kind letters and notes, gifts, prayers, and well wishes had been overwhelming (in a good way!). We really truly feel that it has been a community effort to get this far!  Daily, Scott and I say how lucky and blessed we are to have each of you in our lives, to have your support through our crazy awesome journey our here, and to have your continues support as we grow our family!

Each of you have become family to us!  Because of you, these last 35 weeks have been so memorable for us.  Thank you so much, from the bottom of our hearts, for everything! 


Weekly Updates:
The house is making progress, slowly but surely!  In the last week, Scott has continued to work on the block foundation/walls on the cellar.  It's a very slow process because he has to make sure every single block has to be level.  It's going to take quite a while to get the cellar completed, but that's the #1 goal to complete before winter (so the water in the cistern won't freeze).  Inside the house, Scott figured out why the shower was leaking!!!  And he fixed it!  On the down side, we (meaning him at this point) will be removing all the floor tiles.  But it's ok!  We want to be sure that our shower is done right and will last a long time for us.  We'd rather do it now than get it completed, get the rest of the bathroom completed and then discover there is a problem.  If you are wondering what was wrong and why the shower was leaking, here you go:  When we first planned the shower stall it was going to be 30" wide.  When we made the separating wall and set it at 30", we decided we wanted it to be wider.  Well, at this point all the plumbing including the drain for the sink, was already set in place in the foundation and couldn't be moved.  The sink drain was going to be in the shower wall itself, so when we moved the wall out another 6" that put the sink drain in the shower itself.  We said, 'No problem!' and we decided to build a 'bump out' to enclose it.  Well, the problem came down to the tile adhesive in combination to the 'water sealant' wrap that was put down.  First, the wrap didn't fit perfectly because there were areas that had to be cut to fit around the bump out.  Second, the tile adhesive wasn't meant for floors.  When we purchased it, we were specifically looking for shower floor tile adhesive but our local Lowes didn't have anything (that we could find) so we sort of winged it.  The water from our 'showers' was leaking out around the 'bump out' and getting a small portion of the bathroom floor (near the shower wall) and the kitchen floor wet.  Well, Scott fixed it!!!  He pulled up all the tile on the bump out and around that part of the wall, then he scraped up all the adhesive, and used mortar mix to fill in all the cracks around the bottom of the bump out.  Since then, NO LEAKS!!! 
Another minor update we did was to put up curtains in the living room.  I was planning on making them, but due to budget restraints, we decided to buy some really cheap curtains from Walmart and basic cheap rods too.  They are nothing fancy, but they will do the trick!  We wanted to be sure we had a way to shade the sun especially since Blaine will technically have her bedroom in the living room.  It's fun to see how our house is really starting to come together as a home just by adding something simple like curtains!
Last week, I had a day where I had a little more energy that normal so I used the Bronco and drove around areas of our property where we still had scrap wood from our build last year, and I picked up all the non-usable scraps and put them in the burn pit.  In the process, I saw my first Wyoming scorpion!!!!  The neighbors have told us about them, but I hadn't actually seen one for myself.  It wasn't very big, only about 1.5-2" long and it was nearly see-through or very lightly colored (makes sense to me because it would want to blend in with the ground).  I've been told that the scorpions here in Wyoming are not poisonous, but they will sting you. 

Baby News:  We are down to under 5 weeks till Blaine's due date!!! Just 2 more weeks and she is considered full term!  My belly is still growing everyday.  I just talked to my sister-in-law this last week and we discussed that at this stage in the pregnancy neither one of us really felt super pregnant, UNTIL we went to bed and tried to roll over or get out of bed/off the couch! HAHA! 
But I'm feeling really good, just more and more tired.  There are some days where I feel like I can't get anything accomplished, but others where I have more energy than usual and get a lot accomplished!
And I'm officially camping out on the couch! No more sleeping upstairs in bed.... I'm not having issues climbing the ladder, but going to the bathroom 4+ times a night, with a squeaky ladder, makes for a long sleepless night for Scott.  So to be nice, I'm sleeping on the couch now. 

We are so thankful to have received even more fun surprises in the mail in the last week!!  First, the Dohmes surprised us with a Rainforest Jumperoo and a Red Cross Health and Hygiene kit!!  Traci said there are a few more items coming too and I'm excited to see what they are!!  Thank you so much! The two items we've received so far were on my 'must have' list!  The Health kit will either be added to my diaper bag or put in the car for any emergencies we may have.  The jumperoo I just know will come in handy once Blaine can sit on her own!!  I have a feeling she's really going to love it!  Thank you so much!
We also received another surprise from another set of Blaine's grandparents - Don and Charlotte Willis!  Now Don and Charlotte aren't 'blood grandparents', but they were our OH neighbors and have become our family! Now there is a story behind this gift - Don has had Harley's for as long as I have known him.  Charlotte said that she and Don were at a Harley store and Don saw these 2 onesies and said they had to get them for Blaine!  One say's 'Born to ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles' and the other says 'My Grandma rides a Harley!!'   We love them!!!  Not only do they mean a lot to us because they are from you, but because of all the memories we have of you and your Harley's over the years too.  Thank you guys!!!
My next appointment is in one week (week 36) and I'll keep you all updated about it next week.  My goal is to also get pictures taken of Blaine's baby area, of the new curtains, and of the progress on the cellar too!

We just want to say thank you again for all your continued support and love!  We are overwhelmingly thankful and just so very excited for the day we can post pictures and details of Blaine's arrival!

Please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers!  Have a great week!

AND - We want to wish 2 very special people in our lives a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!  Both my dad and Don Willis had birthdays this last week!!!  Happy birthday you both!  We wish we could have wished you a happy birthday in person, but hope you both had great day!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Hello JULY!

We made it to July!!  The countdown is now at 46 days till my due date!  Boy this last month has gone by so fast!

We have had a few amazing weeks that I’m so excited to share with you!

House Updates

We cleaned up and organized a bit outside and Scott has started working on the plumbing indoors as we get ready to have our water hooked up!  However, Scott had to work last weekend so we didn’t make much more progress on the house.  But, this coming holiday weekend, he has a 3 day weekend and we plan on getting a lot accomplished! We should be starting on the cinder blocks for the cellar, and working more on the plumbing (especially when it’s REALLY hot in the afternoons here).

I’m hoping to work on curtains for the house during the month of July, but the budget maybe getting quite a bit tighter here soon so we are preparing for that just in case.  Which means I may not be able to make my curtains after all.  But that’s ok! If I need to, I’ll use some cheap fabric from Walmart or even some extra fabric in my stash to get us by.  We will make due one way or another!!

Last week, Scott’s cousin Ken stayed with us for a bit which was the exact kick in the pants we needed to get our house cleaned up and ready for Blaine!  We did some major cleaning and reorganizing including getting the scooters out of the house, rearranging the layout of the loft so there was more room up there, getting all the extra boxes of stuff from downstairs up in the loft, taking the 4-tiered rack out of the bathroom swapping it out for the 3 tiered rack that my sewing stuff was on, and using the 3-tiered rack for all Blaine’s baby stuff!!  Plus we finally unpacked all the baby stuff and got most of it set up too.

The house ‘arranging/cleaning’ isn’t completed, but it’s VERY close to being done and all ready for Blaine.  It’s so close, that even if she made her big debut today, it would be ready for her!


Baby News

There really isn’t much news right now… Blaine is still growing and we have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow so I’ll add below how that goes!  I’m really anxious to see if I actually gained weight.  It’s been so hot here lately 90-110*and I’ve had little to no appetite but have been guzzling cold water and eating lots of popsicles (not to mention sweating so much!).  She’s wiggling quite a bit but still feels very low (no weird aches/pains quite yet).  Otherwise I have no complaints at all right now! I’m feeling bigger and bigger each day, but I’m very happy with no morning sickness right now (fingers crossed it stays that way!) and just overall feeling probably the best I have over this entire pregnancy!

We went into ‘baby mode’ over the last 2 weeks and we now have her pack n’ play set up (mostly… I got frustrated with the bassinet part so it’s not together quite yet), her highchair is set up, she has a designated set of shelves with her changing table, diapers and supplies on it, plus last time I was in town I was able to wash all her clothes and got most of them hung up in her armoire.  We are actually repurposing this armoire that originally was Scott’s dads when he was a kid!!  There is a pole across the top but we got another pole for below that (since her clothes are so short) and then in the bottom we put all her extra baby wipes and a few extra packs of diapers that we have.

I still need to finish putting together the pack ‘n play (goal is this weekend), get more hangers to finish putting up the last of her clothes, vacuum/clean out the car and get the car seat in there (plus figure out how to use it and have the EMT folks at the hospital give me a safety lesson too), stock up on supplies from Costco including TP, paper towels, food for prepping in advance, and cat food/litter (one less thing to do once Blaine is here!), and we purchased a hanging shoe rack that we are going to attach to the wall and actually use it to put her pants, hats, socks, etc in since I can’t hang those in the closet.

Doctor's Appointment (33.5 weeks): All is well! Blaine is still growing and all my vitals/measurements were the same as they have been.  The doctor still has no concerns at this point.  Now I was dehydrated, so I drank 2 full bottles of water since leaving the office and I'll have to focus on drinking even more (looks like I'll be sleeping on the couch since I'll probably be peeing a lot tonight!! haha).  I asked the doctor what the likelihood is that he will actually be the one to deliver Blaine.  He said as long has he's not out of the state he will be the one.  And he said he will be out of town August 9-15 for a wedding..... Anyone making bets she will arrive during that time frame!?!?!  And what I was waiting for all day - the weight gain!!  Scott was betting 5lbs, and Abby B. said 8..... I only gained 3.4 for a total gain (so far) of 6.4lbs.  Not bad! Next appointment in 2 weeks.... stay tuned!

I’m saving the best for last!!!  Last week, we had a surprise phone call from Scott’s cousin Ken!! He was in Billings on business and his stay lasted a little longer than expected so he was here for the whole weekend.  He stayed with us for 2 nights and we had a blast taking in around our area on a great weekend adventure! This was a great adventure for Scott and I too because most weekends we just end up working at the house, so this was a real treat for us too!

Friday night we drove him to the Clark Canyon and pointed out lots of local things on our way to Cody, WY.  We had dinner at the Irma Hotel too!

Saturday, Scott had to work part of the day, but I wanted to be sure that Ken got to see the Beartooth Pass!  We got up early that morning and headed out after breakfast.  The last time (and only time) that I have been on the Pass, it was the opening weekend and there was so much snow that it was like driving through snow tunnels!  This time, there were patches of snow at the very top of the mountain, but we actually got to see the mountains in their full glory plus all the beautiful lakes, wildflowers and animals too!  At one of the rest areas at the top of the mountain, there were chipmunks running around everywhere and they would come up to us, perch on our hands and beg for food.  Ken bought some Little Debbie cookies called Jellyfish Cookies (cookie bottom, marshmallow top, all dipped in a coating) and he fed them to the chipmunks!! Ken even got them to sort of ‘dance’ for their cookies!!  It was hilarious!  And these chipmunks were so chubby from all their snacks, it was so funny!

Driving the Pass was so much fun! We stopped at a spot at the top of one of the mountains where there was snow.  Ken wanted to ‘play’ in the snow and he made a small snowman!!!  The temperature was 92*+ down in Red Lodge, but at the top of the mountain it was 64*!  The lakes were stunning!  This was the first time that I have seen the lakes up there (last time they were frozen over).

After the Pass, we stopped and grabbed lunch in Red Lodge, then drove back home (which is a stunning drive also).

I think we had just as much if not more fun at home that evening!  Ken surprised us with everything for a cookout, so he spent the evening putting together a grill that I think had over 1,000 pieces to it.  There were some funny moments, but he did awesome putting it together!  And we grilled out for the first time that night too.  It was delicious – grilled steak, veggies, bread slices and even a side of fresh watermelon too.  Plus every night since then, Scott and I have grilled out too!!!  It gets really hot in our house when we use the stove/oven in the evenings, so having the grill is becoming the biggest blessing!

After dinner, we had a perfectly clear night and we set up the lawn chairs to star gaze.  I’m not sure if Ken has ever seen stars/planets like we see here in Wyoming.  He said that was probably one of the highlights of the trip!  I was so tired by this time that I went inside before they did, but Scott said they saw several satellites zip across the sky too!  Overall it was a pretty incredible day!

Sunday, Scott was able to spend all day with us, so we just had to go to Yellowstone!  We drove back through Cody, stopped for a bit at the Buffalo Bill Dam, and then proceeded to Yellowstone.  This was Ken’s first time there!  Yellowstone is basically a big loop around the park with several ‘access points’ to other cities (like our access point in Cody).  We drove most of the loop including areas that Scott and I have never been to!   Shortly after getting into the park, we saw some cars stopped along side of the road so we stopped too.  There was a momma bear and her two cubs!!  I believe they were grizzlies but we found out that the momma bear was Raspberry (that’s her name)!  We didn’t see her for long because she was headed over the hill top, but just to catch a glimpse of her was so spectacular.

We drove around a good part of Yellowstone lake which is HUGE and very majestic!  At one point the traffic was stopped as several elk walked across the road! I didn’t get a picture of them, but I’ve never seen elk that big before!  Through more of the drive we also saw antelope and deer too. 

Our next stop was at Old Faithful.  This was a first for all of us!  We grabbed a quick sandwich there and headed out just in time for Old Faithful to blow!  There were thousands of people there to see it!  Although this is a big tourist attraction, this was probably the least exciting thing we saw the entire time in the park.

We continued on and stopped at (I think) the Upper Falls.  This was incredible!  There was a lookout point that was just amazing.  We were at least 350’ high (we were debating just how high up we were) and as we looked down by the river we all saw a bald eagle flying around! 

We continued on through an area where the ground was ‘burnt’ away (no vegetation) and small pools of really hot water were discoloring the ground area around them.  We didn’t stop here because the parking was insane and plus we needed to get Ken home at a decent time too. 

From here we continued on through Lamar Valley – probably one of my all-time favorite parts of the drive.  Lamar Valley is full of thousands of buffalo roaming around.  This also takes you to the Cooke City, MT entrance to the park (which was our exit point). 

We left the park then stopped in Cooke City for dinner at the Miner’s bar/grill (great burgers!!).  After dinner we drove back to our house via the Chief Joseph Highway (another popular scenic drive).

It was a long, 12+ hour day of exploring, but ended our weekend with Ken on a high note!

Ken you not only made our weekend, but the thrills we had were by far some of the best we’ve had since moving here! We can’t thank you enough for spending the weekend with us and we hope it was one you’ll never forget!

There is a little bit of everything below from pictures of baby gifts we've received, improvements to our property, the second bird in the woodstove, baby bump pictures, and pictures from our weekend adventure up the Beartooth Pass and to Yellowstone!   Enjoy!!!