Monday, July 28, 2014

Home Transformation

We closed on our new home in mid-May.  We moved to Illinois in early-June.  After what felt like forever, but was really not long at all, we moved into our new home in early July.  The flooring project took longer than expected so we had to push our move in date out a couple of weeks.  We were finally able to put down area rugs this past weekend. 

We didn't really take on "major" home improvement projects.  We installed unfinished 2-1/4" red oak flooring throughout the main level of the home.  There were several different types of flooring:  prefinished hardwood floors, original parquet floors, tile, carpet and original hardwoods.  Ben didn't love how it didn't flow.  We also painted the entire first and second floors.  Again, it was a flow issue.  We plan to do more over time, but it comes down to keeping the improvements in line with the value of the home.  I would love to redo the entire kitchen, but it works for now and it has been updated.  The kitchen I would want would cost a lot of money so it can wait close to a decade.  We would also love to do a media room in the basement when the kids are older.  And the yard needs a lot of TLC.  Our next big projects will probably be cleaning up the yard and replacing a lot of the old mechanical equipment - all but the hot water heater is original and will probably go out soon.

But for now, here are some of the updates.  I haven't hung a single thing on the walls yet.  We are actually still unpacking some boxes.  But these are the first three rooms you see when you come in the front door so they are the most done.  (And the pictures are from my phone so the quality is a little iffy).  Also, the rooms are not terribly dark, but they do look darker.  We practically live in a forest and there is a lot more canopy cover now than there was in April.  And we have the screens on the windows which makes it a little bit darker too. 

The foyer had a lot of brass and yellow walls.  The floors were parquet.  And there was a two tone floralish runner on the stairs.
 We painted the walls SW Neutral Ground (it's actually BM paint that has been matched; our painter preferred BM).  We spray painted the chandelier with Rustoleum oil rubbed bronze.  The stairs were refinished and the risers were painted white.  We also replaced the floors.  The stain color is Provencial with a satin finish. 
 The dining room was similar to the entry.  Same floors and same green. 
We painted the walls SW Versatile Gray (again BM color matched), replaced the light fixture, replaced the floors. (And put the screens back on the windows.)
 The living room had prefinished hardwood floors that were newer (and it stung a little bit to take them out just because they were nice).  And the walls were the same yellow as the entry (or close to it).
 The hardwood floors were replaced (stain is Provencial with satin finish) and the walls were painted SW Versatile Gray.  We put the screen back on the windows.

It's nice to finally be settling into a routine here.  I still have a ton of stuff to put away upstairs.  More updates to come. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

It's Difficult to Believe She Is Almost Two

We had our meeting with Early Intervention this morning.  I know Allyn is behind in a lot of areas.  The biggest concerns for our family are her gross motor skills and speech.  We had all of our in-home assessments with EI and we met as a group to set forth some plans for treatment.  We have kind of decided that she will do two sessions of physical therapy, two (or one) session of speech therapy and one session of occupational therapy weekly.   And twice a month we will meet with a developmental therapist. 

The results didn't really take me by surprise.  Nor did the plan we outlined for her therapy.  The care coordinator and therapists all said we could scale back if it seemed to be overwhelming.  I would seriously move mountains for this little girl.  So we are going to do as much therapy as we can for the next six months or year.  And we all too often hear about how His timing is perfect.  We will have a lot of therapy beginning in the next weeks or months.  And in terms of managing two kids, it could be a lot.  Fortunately it is going to work out that Nolan will be in kindergarten when she is doing most of her therapies so I am hopeful that this will impact him as little as possible. 

I don't ever want him to feel like I am constantly pouring into his little sister and he is just some blip in our lives.  And that gets away from me sometimes because he can be so self-sufficient.  It's really hard to believe how demanding, needy little he used to be.  And I know I gave him 100% of myself before his sister arrived and I still manage to carve out time for him when Ben is home or Allyn is napping so I just need to get over the self-imposed mom guilt. 

 But the take away from our meetings were that while Allyn seems to be cognitively on track, her lack of gross motor skills keep her from doing age appropriate activities and tasks so she is behind on some of her more developmental milestones.  And the lack of weight bearing has kept her from strengthening a lot of her muscles necessary for fine motor skills.  And she doesn't really have any core strength and that plays into some of her mouth muscles (file this into things I would have never known) and that is impacting her speech and eating. 

At some point we will also have a follow up with nutrition.  She is just so little.  And we offer her foods.  Lot of options throughout the day.  But we just don't seem to be chipping away at her small size with any measurable amount.  So we will explore that avenue too.

But everyone noted how pleasant she is and how she seems engaged with adults.  (Kids freak her out a little because they can be a little a lot more unpredictable.)  I hope that at some point I can update all of this and say just how far she has come in a short period of time.  But if it takes a long time, that's okay too.  And if we never get there, we'll still love on this sweet little girl the same as yesterday. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014


This has been one of those weeks where life lessons have just been tossed in my face left and right.  And honestly, I've been so busy I just don't even want to take the time to stop and reflect on them.  Things have been insanely rough lately.  And yet we still have so much to be thankful for.  And it's easy to lose sight of that.
I have felt like the ugliest pig lately.  No showers, gym clothes, breakouts and bad hair galore-ugly.  It's a shame I put so much of my self worth on how I look and it translates into how I feel.  I have a husband who always finds me beautiful and when my babies see their momma it's nothing but love.  And I just think if I had less gray hair or the bags under my eyes were gone or my hair had more volume or my skin would stay clear for longer than a minute, things would be better.  And then I feel so silly for thinking any of that matters.  I mean: health, loving family, all of our needs (and most of our wants) are met.  It's really selfish.

This was taken on a day when I showered, dried my hair, put on mascara and used light to drown out a lot of the imperfections.
 And my insecurities spill into my relationships.  I probably don't give my husband enough attention because I just feel so gross.  And I shy away from adoring looks from my kids because of pimple on my chin.  I really don't have a lot of friends and it's hard for me to make new friends.  I shy away because I worry people will judge me or the way I look or what I drive or where I live.  And honestly, they probably are.  But does that mean they wouldn't like me?  Probably not.  And so my kids aren't around a lot of other kids.
This little fella is like a sponge.  He soaks up everything.  And unfortunately, I haven't been the very best role model for him lately.  Lucky for me, he still loves me "more than anything in the whole world."
 This week we had a meeting with neurology to make sure there was nothing else going on with Allyn that was causing the scoliosis and delays.  The physician said that sure she was delayed physically, but cognitively there is nothing wrong with her.  She clearly understands everything we are saying and just has a hard time communicating verbally.  But to keep down the road we are on with getting her in as much therapy as we can. 
And this little dolly.  She almost always brings a big smile to my face.  (Hey she's in that phase where she gets frustrated a lot, and so do I.  So there are some not so smiley moments.)
But she said something else so very profound.  Stop.  Stop stressing; stop doing too much for her.  Get her out around other kids her age.  Let her play and explore.  For the last year I have really been keeping her close.  We spend a lot (almost all) of our time together.  I want to protect her.  And in a lot of ways I want to shield her from all of the emotions and judgement that I feel most of the time.  She needs to learn to do things on her own.  There will be frustration and there will be tears.  But through it all she will grow.  And maybe, so will I. 

So I'm going to do my very best to just live with these people I love so much.  If the last year has shown me anything, it's that life will throw you curve balls and you will adjust.  You really don't have a choice.  But I have failed immensely on the loving life front.  I've just wanted to make it to the next day, the next month, the next phase, the next cast....  And hopefully, that will translate into fun and friends and really loving this next chapter in our story.