Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Painting and Flooring

I was so excited to get our house, to start fixing it up. Not necessarily to make it our own - but to literally make it livable and by that means, make it our own. We tore up all the floors one week and found three floors in the kitchen, two in the entry way and two in the dining area. The carpets were probably originals in the bedrooms and the carpet in the hall had been replaced once. It was some nasty stuff. 

I was so 'for sure' about which flooring I was going to put down after searching through pinterest and then found some nasty reviews on it later. So I don't suppose we'll go that route. Lots of people are using the flooring from COSTCO that snaps together - the luxury vinyl. They only have a few select colors, though, and none of them are what I am in love with. So we looked a little at Home Depot and have plans to look at the local floor covering store in our small town. 

Painting is honestly making me so nervous. I'm not super familiar with it - just know that it takes a lot of time. A lot of prep, a lot of time doing it, and a lot of clean-up. I am not super excited to get going on it. Steve is absolutely set on spray painting everything with primer - the Killz kind that keeps out oder and stains and prevents mildew. Not a bad idea, but it's one more step. And then I finally landed on a paint color called Hailstorm gray from Home Depot. It changes pretty dramatically in all of the rooms, dependent on the light - but all the changes are shades that I can deal with so we are moving forward. (3) 5 gallon buckets later. It's probably too much. Probably should have just done (2) 5 gallons buckets and a couple of gallon buckets. But it's done now. This whole thing. It just has me up in a tizzy and I can't even think straight while at the store. 

5 Months with Axton

Favorite Things: A little attention for you goes a long way. I would definitely say you're favorite thing is smiling. You are always smiling. Even sometimes at nothing or sometimes if someone's face is turned toward you but they're not really looking at you.

Special Talent: A predictable roll. Rolls are a thing that you can do now, predictably. Still no direction, but I can count on you twisting and turning within a 3 foot radius.

Favorite Pastime: Watching everything that is going on. You are so pleasant to be around that it's not uncommon to find a sibling handing you a toy or I will get on the floor with you, just to be with you.

Sleep: Naps are still all over the place. I need to put in the time to read my nap bible - healthy sleep habits, happy kids. It's what I use to get us all on a schedule of rest. It works brilliantly and Talmage is still taking naps, and can take naps at other people's houses, because of it.

Crying: Not a whole lot. We've cut down on the crying when you are tired by feeding you to sleep.

Dislikes: Being put-off. You go into hysterics. Especially at night because I am trying to get the other two bed and you are hungry at the same time and if I am not fulfilling your needs than you can throw yourself into a fit that takes you a good, long while to come down from.

Likes: Nana was making capes for Christmas and you got ahold of some of the extra, silky fabric. You love feeling that in your mouth.

My Favorite Part: Your happy personality. I will not take this for granted. It is our saving grace right now. And your eyes, still. They have changed from their gray to making me think maybe you will be our hazel-eyed babe. They are definitely taking their time turning brown if that is what they are getting at.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The One Where We Bought a House

We bought a house. My dreams and ambitions were keeping me up at night in terrifying fits. I couldn't continue what I was doing in our 2 bedroom apartment. I couldn't continue with foster care and I definitely never planned on raising a family in an apartment complex. Lots of tears and prayers later - a house happened.

A few highlights: I thought the house we would pick would feel like home upon our first entrance. A 'this is it' feeling - right? It didn't. Instead, we went and looked at houses on a Thursday or a Friday. Top of our price range houses, all of them listed as 3 bedrooms. None of them were what I would consider home. Neighbors too close. And the house that had the most property attached to it was a fixer-upper from the get-go. We had to do our first two quickly because there were still people living there and we had to have an appointment and then be out. That pace continued for the whole process - when we had done this before it was like we were trying the house on every time and looked each one over up and down and in and out. This time we were basically just checking through bedrooms - my mind fixed on, "Can I fit a bunk bed and two dressers in here?" I had an agenda.

I learned that there was no way I could stand being on a standard block with neighbors on either side. It left me feeling like I couldn't breathe, even when outside.

All these things weighed on me as I thought about the 6 or 7 houses we saw that night. I knew we didn't need to choose from those. There was time. But I couldn't get one of them off my mind. It gave me a race of excitement when I thought about it. It was an updater, for sure, but it was a corner lot in a neighborhood of retired folks. And that made the difference for me. I didn't remember any of the details of it, other than it needed some updating but seemed to be in decent shape. Being the worst house on the block gave us an advantage of getting into a good neighborhood and the ability to make it better, no matter what we did. It was also being sold as a 3 bedroom, when honestly, it is a 4 bedroom. And instead of a garage, it has a great room where there would have been a garage. It's a diy'ers dream. It's my dream. The possibilities are amazing.

We put an offer in on it that following Tuesday after stewing around on it over the weekend. I wasn't super attached and wasn't even sure if they would take our offer. We went $5k under asking price and asked for them to cover $6,500 of closing costs. Sellers aren't covering closings costs any more, our realtor told us. But we needed them to. So we said a prayer, fasted, and on Wednesday found out they had accepted our offer. We called up an inspector to give us a thorough report and found loads of things wrong with it. If this weren't our first house, we would probably have been intimidated. But naive and fresh, we lowered our offer another 10k. The inspector, before he left, gave us the advice, "Not going to lie. This house has quite the handful of problems." And we nodded and agreed and worried. And were a little scared. Probably most houses just have one or two things wrong with them - this thing had a 17 page report.

More prayers and fasting and they came back with a counter offer, taking only $5k off the price instead of the $10k that we had asked for. And we had a decision to make. With which we decided, sure, what the heck. Yes. It as built in 79, but while all this was going on, we were thinking it was built in 71. Which means that there was a very real probability of it having lead paint. More fasting and praying. That there wouldn't be any lead paint. It was a test of faith and Steven went and talked to all the neighbors he could get ahold of by knocking on doors, asking about the history of the houses and when they were built and what products were used in other people's homes. No lead paint. And nice neighbors that were happy to talk. It was amazing. I fell in love with the community that this street had created. A lead paint test by a professional to prove it as legitimate would cost $600. We weren't doing that.

We put an offer in, Sept 26th and were given the keys Nov. 21st. Almost 2 months. And I don't know how people have real jobs and buy a house. I did a lot of running around. A lot of phone calls. It was a full-time job. It was terrifying - talking about all the numbers that go into this kind of thing - and those numbers represent dollars. But I just continued on, knowing it would all end up ok in the end. Our loan ended up with a 4.1% interest rate, as opposed to the 3.65% we were expecting. But whatever. Can't change that. We also got slammed with a $2k flood insurance per year. That bumped up our mortgage a considerable amount and on our 'to-do' list is to get an elevation certificate to prove that we aren't as huge of a risk of flooding as they think we are. We would still have to have flood insurance, but it wouldn't be as expensive.

The numbers kept getting bigger and the costs for us kept adding up. No one talks much about how much money you have to put up for a house, not including the actual payments. Thank goodness we had the grace of my parents to meet us where we couldn't. They matched what we were able to put in and that saved us. We used that much and a little more for the downpayment. We payed $365 for an inspection report, $150 for a sewage scope, $700 for an appraisal and then had to pay our first year of flood insurance up front, $2,163. There were a lot of heightened heart beats and a lot of looks of, "Are we really doing this?" But we are. And we did. And we made our first half of the mortgage payment yesterday. We'll be on a schedule to pay half on the 15th and the other half on the 1st. This is supposed to take off a lot of interest in the long run. And to round things off, we're doing a $900 payment each time. This will force us to pay an extra $40 a month. That is maybe $200 shy of Steven's whole pay check.

We've done this before. When we were first married. We can do it again. 3 children makes it a little complicated, but I am going to make this work. I would rather be strapped like this now than later. Right now we are at the top of the pay scale for Les Schwab, so the only way to get more money is for a career change. Which Steven has been kicking around for a while, so this will be our catapult. Here's to making changes. And we've got a house to update before we take in any fosters, which I have already cried about. But it's better to put the time in now than to not be able to put that time in, ever, for lack of space.

4 months with Axton

Favorite Things: You love yourself some lotion. It gives you the giggles when I rub it on your face, those round little cheeks, and down into your neck.

Special Talent: Laughter. You are laughing and it is just the most adorable.

Favorite Pastime:  Being on your tummy. You are the first baby I have ever had that prefers your front to your back when on the floor.

Sleep: Golden. We are so golden. You go to bed around 7:30, right after the 'big kids'. And wake up again 12 hours later. Your naps are still very sparatic but I have nailed you down for a 9:30 am fussy time that means you are tired. And then again around 1 pm.

Crying: You have to cry to get to sleep. Even if I am holding you with binkie ready, you have to fuss about it. But you are pretty chipper for the most part.

Dislikes: Loud noises.

Likes: People paying attention to you. You always reward them with a big, gummy smile that reaches all the way into your eyes.

My Favorite Part: We bought a house. Yup. It's a big deal around here. And you have been a champ about hanging around while I work on fixing it up for us. You hang out on the floor, which I layer with towels and then a blanket for you. You practice rolling over and just watching what is going on around you.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

3 Months with Axton

Favorite Things: Your swing. You love this thing! And I love it. I can put you in it and you will instantly go to sleep. It is our secret weapon.

Special Talent: You love some tummy time. You don't even mind being left there for awhile.

Favorite Pastime: Eating. You are eating. A lot. Almost basically up to 8 oz a bottle.

Sleep: You sleep through the night and your naps are done in the swing. I can count on you for one huge one - so long as I keep that swing rocking. I can put you down in it and get Talmage set up for a nap and then take a nap myself and then when I wake up I can turn the swing off and you will wake up.

Crying: Never. Unless you have to wait your turn and you think it's an emergency. I do a good job of getting to you and not letting you get worked up. But when you do get worked up because I am taking care of someone else it takes you a hot minute to calm down again enough to eat. Because that's usually your problem. You think you are starving.

Dislikes: You love EVERYTHING! We thought Talmage was a chill baby. You make him look like high maintenance! I love, love, love you! You make being a mom that easiest job.

Likes: Being on the floor. I can count on you to be happy on the floor for a very, very long time. Your head is lopsided because for the longest time you have been looking to your left. And the gravity and your smushy skull has been no good for you. I have been trying to correct it by laying you down and then putting things off to your right shoulder for you to look at. Or even putting you in front of the couch so that your only way of looking out and about is over your right shoulder.

My Favorite Part: Your gray eyes. I have been waiting for them to turn brown - checking your eyes every time I feed you a bottle because I don't want to miss it. But they aren't. Right now they are a dark gray. A 'rain on the sidewalk' type of dark gray.

Gratitude Being Enough

The Sunday after everything went down and blew up in my hands I was off to my parents' ward. John was giving a talk and even though he didn't want everyone there - he wanted me there. I took Talmage and I went. I stayed the whole time, going to Sunday School and Relief Society. And what would you know. The topic was marriage and family between the two of them. I wasn't in the mood, but I took note and listened with my heart.

The second Sunday after everything went down and blew up in my hands we were to Steven's parents' ward for Megan's returning from the mission talk - what's that, her mission report? Anyways. What happened there was incredible. A wonderful talk was given on gratitude. And it was a lesson that I wish I could give to myself again and again.

The speaker started by telling a story of Christ. When He was giving his sermon on the mount. So many people wanted to hear what he had to say. There were hundreds. And they were getting hungry. They had been listening for so long. Drinking in everything that he had to teach, but they were getting hungry. Christ did not panic. He remained calm and said, "Bring me what you have." The apostles were worried and apologetic. Seven loaves and a handful of fish were all the people had among them. Christ did not worry. He blessed what they had in gratitude and the food was multiplied so that everyone was able to eat. Because of his gratitude, he had enough.

There is something beautiful in every situation. In every hard day there is something worth noticing. And I thought about my situation. Of how there was so much sad and hurt happening and then I thought about how this is what had to happen to finally get us into counseling. We've needed counseling for a long time and now - finally - it was going to happen.

That day's blessing was my three dark haired children sitting beside me at church. Their hair and eyes seemed extra chocolatey because they were all dressed in white. Talmage in beige shorts and a white polo and Alaska in her white crocheted dress with all the lace. Axton in a gray romper with large, white polka dots. The moment that I remember looking down on them, Talmage was holding Axton and kissing his little head while Alaska sat beside the two of them - alert to the bishopric member opening the meeting.

Give gratitude. Kneel down and give thanks. When we can see the sunlight in the darkness, the good in the bad - that is when learning has occurred and life can continue on.

And the third Sunday. Heavenly Father knows that my heart is especially good at listening on Sunday. It is this day that I think of the things that are so close and dear to my heart and how to get those things and keep them.

We had a wonderful lesson in Young Womens based on the song, "I Will Be What I Believe" by Blake Gillette - after which we watched the music video. It was a powerful message of taking heart in our heritage of believers and standing up for what we believe. In my case, persevering and making it happen. I believe in Eternal Families and because I believe it - I will be an Eternal Family through the covenants I have made. The world would have me believe that when things get hard, discard. But through the blessings I know that are mine this hard part that I am doing right now will be made right in the end. Getting on our knees and praying for guidance takes a lot of bravery and trust as we follow the clear and true feelings of the spirit.

Satan is attacking the families. He has been doing that for a long time. If the family can be destroyed then the rest of society will disintegrate as well. I was reminded of another song lyric from when I was a youth. "I will not be causality in this war I didn't start." I will keep my family together. I will return to live with my Heavenly Father and I will do it with my husband by my side.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Some Counseling

I was totally and completely furious. Furious when Steven told me that there had been promotion opportunities that he had not applied for. I felt utterly betrayed and I cannot imagine feeling any differently than if he had cheated on me. It was the highest level of betrayal and I don't appreciate anyone telling me differently. Those are my feelings and they are real. All of my future was relying on that promotion. That move. I had been living with my hand hovering over the 'go' button for five years and then to find out that the 'go' button had been disconnected all together without me knowing was a huge shock to my system. To my trust. The only thing that I could think of to do back that would hurt in the same way was to leave. To just leave and take the kids. And that is a scary feeling. To be so hurt. So mad. So lost that I was willing to break a family. My family. Willing to tear my family apart for revenge of a hurt heart. It was an extremely powerful and very real feeling. And it was near paralyzing to have an emotion that strong ripping through my body.

A feeling of revenge doesn't sit well with me. That is small thinking. A feeling of calling it done and everyone knowing full and well beforehand that my line has been drawn is one thing. But to take off for revenge just didn't feel good. So I stayed. I screamed and I cried and I stayed. I woke up nights with Axton and couldn't get back to sleep. I screamed and cried those nights, too. After two of them I told Steven I wasn't doing it anymore. He would need to get up with Axton because I wasn't being able to get back to sleep. And bless his heart that I hated at that time. He did it.

Steven called LDS services for some marriage counseling. And I shut my mouth. I couldn't even talk. It was the silent treatment for a week. Nothing kind was on my mind and life was not going well. I was pretty much done. Just making it day to day. My heart was broken over my girls. My heart was full with a new baby. My heart was up and down and all over the place and I was mad. Mad that life was not where I wanted it to be and maddest that it for sure wasn't going anywhere fast. And I was stuck. Something I have never been before. I would consider myself pretty resilient and pretty flexible to make things work out one way or another - but this time. It was done. I was stuck.

We got to counseling and it was relieving. It was a hour and a half of talking about Steven and I and our relationship and our history and anything anyone would want to know. It was an emotional time, although I was still mad enough that I didn't have a lot of emotion to share. The lady was a little too, I don't even know. Too something. Too inquisitive. Too touchy-feely. We didn't go back. Not for the money that we would need to shell out when we had big, fat problems that were very general. Perhaps we'll go back when we are ready to fine-tune our relationship. But not right now. I called up our health insurance, found out they didn't cover marriage counseling, but the employee assistance program would cover it. 100%. 4 sessions for me. 4 sessions for Steven. And that would start over in January. I was optimistic that we could get our lives headed in the right direction in 8 weeks. It felt like forever, but it needed to be started somewhere.

After that first counseling session, things opened up. We were going to make it. A heartfelt talk and a good cry and commitment was on my lips again. Not love. But commitment. We would get through this and things would be ok. As much as I would want a present mother and father in my kids' lives - I wanted this to work mostly for me. I wanted to be have a relationship that worked well and that I love.

Among all these things happening - there were some noteworthy Sundays that softened my heart. When I was in church, where I could concentrate on what my faith looks like and what makes it strong and what makes my testimony as strong as it is and what that testimony is made of - that's where I found my strength to keep poking along. Those Sundays that were so hard for me because of the weeks that I had just endured of having a new baby and wanting more for my life. But I showed up for them and for some reason there was always something that always spoke directly to my heart. Piercing it with truth and understanding. And I knew it was all going to be ok. It was going to be uncomfortable, but it was going to be ok.