Monday, November 28, 2016

FDR is TWO Years Old

Dear Franklin,

You are TWO years old. Where did the time go?! At your two year old wellness check, you clocked at 28 pounds, reached 3 foot tall, and had a big head circumference. It did not surprise Mama and Daddy at all. After all, you've been dubbed Frank the Tank for a reason! 

You absolutely love food. You can never not get enough of food. Daddy jokingly said that you even taxed him for sitting next to him at the dining table by demanding for his food...never mind that you often cleared your own plate first! It became so fitting that your birthday fell on Thanksgiving, because of your affiliation for food, and you had plenty to eat to celebrate your birthday! 

The only time you turned your nose up to food was when you battled a nasty stomach virus for two good weeks. Poor dear you, all you wanted to do was to lay down on either Mama or Daddy the whole time. It was quite difficult to not see you be your normal self during those weeks. Thankfully, the nasty bug did exit its way out of your system, and you bounced back to your old self by eating, playing, and getting into everything! 

As it is customary for many two-year olds, you entered the "Terrible Twos", and often talked back when you were being scolded for your misbehavior. You often point your finger, and scream back. If that failed, you fell to the ground, and throw a fit by stomping your foot, banging your head, and holler as loud as you can. You often do this point finger with screaming when you wanted to defense your older brother from his misdeed. 

You are still not talking. It is quite common among child of Deaf Adults (CODA) to start speaking later in their lives. You rely heavily on sign language, and prefer signing over speaking to communicate. Just like your brother, you are most likely going to be enrolled into a speech program in order to catch up to your peers. Mama and Daddy aren't worried; you will be alright, and you will catch up in due time with the intervention from a speech therapist. It will be all good! 

Oh dear Franklin, you have such, such, such big heart. You often break your food in pieces to offer to someone sitting next to you, or to drooling Bea (who clearly often has more than enough to eat from her own food, yet people food appeals to her more). You love giving kisses, and hugs. One cannot get enough of those from you. Ever. You share toys, books, kisses, hugs, and food with anybody you meet. You smile, laugh, and squeal when you are amused. You love scaring people by roaring, and having them react. You often laugh from the depth of your stomach, and it is so endearing to hear. No one ever tires of hearing your belly laughter. 

You are an empathetic toddler. You feel emotions very intensely. Your sensitive nature often leads you to develop a quivering pout when one gently tells you no. It is quite difficult to say no to you sometimes, especially when you've mastered the pout, and guilt someone into saying yes instead. Big fat tears often are shed when it is not possible for you to have your way. One can't help, but to hug and kiss you until you feel better. You pour all of love you have in your little body into your bear hugs, and wet kisses. You gently pat Bea, or any of family dogs on their flank, and give them kisses. Unlike Forrest, who can be quite rough with animals, we often have to remind you that sometimes some animals don't like to be lavished by with kisses, and hugs. You remind Mama so much of her when she was younger with the animals. 

You quite adore your older brother. Sometimes, you and Forrest don't quite get along, because Forrest boss you around some, and you don't like always sharing things with him. There are occasional erupting fights over the toys, books, and Ipad. Those fights lead to Mama wanting to send you two to the Zoo! Despite those conflicts, which can be a good learning experience for you and Forrest to resolve a situation, you love each other so. It is so sweet to find you two imagining you are explorers driving through a thick jungle filled with prehistoric dinosaurs and creatures, and fighting them off when they present danger to you. Forrest is such a protective big brother toward you. He often comes to your defense when you are being a bit naughty, and has to be put in a time out. Forrest sneaks in a piece of snack to you when he thinks Mama isn't watching. He holds your hands across a parking lot to make sure you don't dart out of Mama's grip. He gives you a kiss and hug randomly. Oh, you end up with a biggest smile when Forrest does that. 

You love trucks, cars, and anything that makes noise. Dinosaurs excite you, and you love playing dinosaurs with Forrest. You love making messes, and helping to clean up. Sorting shapes into the right holes fascinate you. You can spend hours sorting, just like how Forrest enjoyed the same at your age once upon a time! Touch-feel books are your absolute favorite. You enjoy reading books with Daddy, Mama, or grandparents. You love to play toys, watch nursery rhythm songs through Baby Genius on Netflix, Sesame Street, and listen to songs on Ipad. 

You are more cautious than your older brother is. Despite your cautious nature, you try to keep up by being independent in trying to put on shoes, oh especially boots which is your favorite these days, by yourself. You try to mimic Forrest by putting on coat by yourself, and often get quite frustrated with not being able to zip up. It's when Mama usually swoops in to help you. You prefer being close to someone you feel safe with, rather than zooming out to introduce yourself to new people. You are a bit shy, and that is alright. 

You're a gentle, sweet boy with a big heart. Mama and Daddy does not want to see this ever to change in you. It is one of your best features, and makes you YOU! Mama, Daddy, and Forrest are so lucky to have you in their lives. 


Mama, Daddy, and Forrest 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Forrest is FOUR Years Old

Dear Forrest,

You are FOUR years old. My dear beautiful boy, how is this possible? The past four years has become a swirl of memories from the day Mama found out that she was pregnant with you to the day you were born to many of your firsts, especially so with you becoming a big brother for the first time. 

It is such an inconceivable idea that you are 4 years old.  Your sweet boyish face no longer exhibit any baby features. Your legs have grown taller. Your body has stretched out, causing your pot belly tummy to disappear, and your cheeks have become more defined. The only physical remainder of your babyhood is in your eyes. The shine in your eyes have not changed though. The mischievous twinkle you get in your chocolate brown eyes, which often perfectly accompanies your loud chortling as you find a glee in small things. If you fall asleep on the sofa before your bedtime, Mama gently picks you up in her arms, and a slow dawning realization that comes from feeling your weight of your body that you are no longer a small toddler, but a child. 

When did you become a child? How did you go from being a chunky little toddler to a boy? In the days that has passed, you have grown into an incredible boy. 

You are a student of life. You are always exploring, always wanting to learn, and always questioning. You talk about aliens in the cold black space with billion stars, you say big words like measuring tape when you want to measure the dog, and you eagerly drink up all the answers you get until your questions are satisfied. You love school so much. It boggles Mama and Daddy how much you want to be in school. You constantly come home, armed with new information to tell people about what you've learned, and you are so proud of yourself for knowing those things. Oh lord, you know all dinosaur names by their scientific names that Mama or Daddy have no clue how to spell, or pronounce. Mama and Daddy says that you will grow up to be a paleontologist. 

You are always talking. It is not very often that you DO NOT talk. It is hard to imagine that upon a time, you barely spoke, and everybody often wondered what swirled through your mind. You walk people through the world of your imagination, which involves a scary T-Rex, an aggressive Velociraptor, a wise Triceratops, a gentle Stegosaurus, a speedy Pterodactyl, to name a few. You love finger family song. You sing, talk, and crackle. Sometimes you say the most darnest things that makes people laugh! It is rather endearing to have you share your world with us.  

You are technology savvy. It is crazy how you are able to navigate your way with a remote to smart TV, your way on the iPad, or even on a computer. You are only four years old yet you can trump Mama or Daddy with technology stuff. It will be a challenge for you as you get older to not rely so much on technology for entertainment. Mama is beginning to understand why people say to their teenage children, "When I was your age, I had to wait forever for our dial up internet", "when I was your age, I had to use big bulky computer", and "when I was your age, I had no wifi access"... Mama and Daddy probably will be saying those to you one day!!

Your happiness is contagious. Your big smile is infectious. Nobody can resist your smile. When you smile, they smile. You crackle instead of politely laugh. Your laughter comes from deep inside your belly. Mama and Daddy never tire of hearing you crackle. 

You are beginning to eat better. You are still finicky, more so than your brother, and it is always commendable of you to sample something that may look "weird" to you. More often than not, you do discover that you like the food you have tried...for the next couple days, that is! You still very much prefer pizza, hot dogs, and chips over normal food, which is not very surprising, because it is all what Mama ate when she was carrying you in her belly! Nonetheless, we all know you can't live on pizza, and it is always so good to see you eating different food on your plate! You go, Forrest! 

You love intensely, fiercely, and deeply. You take Franklin's hands in yours, and kiss him without being prompted. You share a piece or two of food with him when you are feeling quite generous. You gently pet Bea's body, and tell her what a pretty dog she is. You love being with your grandparents. Every time when we have to leave to return home, you shed a tear or two, and tells Mama how much you want to be with your grandparents. You demand for a loud smack smack kiss every night at bed. You squeeze tightly for hugs. It is so gratifying to get those hugs from you! 

Your assertiveness will come in handy as you get older, especially when dealing with your peanut allergy, because you will be able to stand up for yourself, and explain why you can't have certain food. It is so good to see that trait in you, because it helps Mama to worry less about having you deal with your esteem surrounding food allergies, because sometimes people can be less than understanding. 

Alas, you are also just four. You can be self-centered, which is absolutely normal for your age, and you should be in order to learn how to establish your space! It is just learning a finesse of balance of when it is okay to be self centered, and when it is not okay to be. You can be quite bossy. Ah, the trait of being the oldest child. You like to take over a leadership role, which is just wonderful, yet with help of your teacher along with Mama and Daddy, you learn how to relish your leadership role to share, and help others. Having said those things, it is easy to see why you are fiercely independent. You are extremely assertive, bold, and fearless. You march up to the strangers to strike up a conversation with them.You love playing with neighbor kids, regardless their age, at the park. Sometimes, Mama and Daddy jokingly say that you need to have a fear of God put in you to just have some prudence to fearful situations. For instance, at recent family vacation that you went on to Wisconsin Dells, you had no fear of wanting to slide down big slides, and jump into pools at the the water park! 

Sometimes you throw fits, as to be expected, at your age, because you are so independent, and not always want to listen to what others have to partake for you to hear. It results you in a time out. It is not always fun for you to earn a spot in a time out, and it is not very fun for Mama or Daddy either, but rules are there in the place to guide you. Structures, and rules are so important, even though you may not like them very much, because they are in the place to protect you, and to give you a sense of security. Not all kids are lucky to have this in their lives. To be punished for your actions that are not appropriate may not feel so good; it is done to teach you morals, and respect for others in order for you to become a functioning member of our society. 

You are all set with pee training! You love to pee standing up. Now, the story that comes with you learning how to stand up while peeing is crazy, because no one taught you that. You simply learned from doing so by watching your buddies at school, and decided you just have to do it as well. You don't wet your overnight pull ups as much as you used to. You are gradually increasing your ability to be able to hold your pee. Now with pooping? That's a whole other story! It is quite a struggle for you, and you are still working on being able to go potty on the toilet instead of in your underwear! In no time, you will be able to grasp it. After all, they aren't kidding when they say that boys are notoriously harder to potty train. 

School is coming up in a couple weeks, and you could not be any more excited than you already are. You ask to go to school all of the time, and just knowing you will go back soon makes your little wiggly butt absolutely happy. Your happiness is so contagious, and we are just so blessed to have you to be our son.

We are so, so lucky to have you in our lives. We love you so much, little man. 

Mama, Daddy

Friday, June 24, 2016

Fifth Anniversary: Finding Happiness in Time of Sadness


As our fifth wedding anniversary arrived, I take a quiet moment to take it all in, and absorb all the lessons I've learned from this past year. We have made it through several storms, not unscathed, but stronger as a couple, and as individuals. The years have added a few gray hair strands, a few additional pounds, and more wrinkle creases around our eyes. It is not something I would trade away for the experience we have gained from the storms we walked through. We find it easier these days to smile, instead of worrying, when something goes awry, because we know we have each other as we hold our hands through whatever may comes. 

This past year, we have weathered major heartaches, worries, and fears that translated into strength, determination, and perseverance. It helped to know that I had Stu to keep me tethered to the ground when the gallant winds threatened to blow me over.  

While I am not going to list every small details that have rocked us in the past year, because they are ordinary issues that may affect every couple differently; perhaps to one couple, it is something they barely blinked their eyes at, and to the other, it is something that can change their lives forever. To be honest, some of issues we faced, I forgot what they were specifically, and even I may have forgotten, I still remember the lingering feelings left behind from the chaos. However, there is a storm that has left us still fragile, yet even stronger, and that is our loss of our third baby. It is still very hard, because we always had this mindset that it will never happen to us, and it did. I struggle with some guilt of not knowing what caused the miscarriage, and a lot of sadness in knowing we are not meant to be our angel's parents on the earthside. 

Still to this day, we struggle with the loss. As one reddit user have so eloquently described, "In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall, and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart, and don't even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on, and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you will find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you, and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what's going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of cup coffee. It can be just about anything...and the waves come crashing. But in between, there is life. Somewhere down the line, and it's different for everybody, you will find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or maybe fifty feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O'Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side, Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of wreckage, but you will come out." 

We are no longer stuck in a shipwreck, trying to keep our heads above the raging sea, and doing everything not to drown. Our grief comes into waves. More often than not, I find that I am triggered by simple things that I don't think would have affected me so strongly, but it does. While Stu doesn't talk about our loss very often, or as openly as I do, I know he's carrying the load of sadness, and wishes he could somehow fix what happened to us. That does break my heart that we have to pick up the pieces, instead of waiting for a new life to arrive, and be a part of our lives. In the meanwhile, we have each other, and knowing that we are rocks for each other in the midst of chaos, which makes a difference in our grief. Our rainbow, as when god sees it fit, will enter our lives before we know it. 

Prior our loss, we made one of the biggest purchases in our lives: Buying a home! We renovated our home. For those who have gone through a renovation process, I am sure they are laughing and nodding their heads as I write this: It is one of the most stressful things that a couple can deal with!! So many decisions to be made in a snap minute, what colors to go with, disagreements over what should be added and what should not be added, finding that there is a problem that will prevent from us adding something we like to our home, whether we can afford that or not, and having to deal with delays that caused us to keep pushing away our move in date. Not only we had to deal with this happening in our new home, we had to pack up everything in our old home, sell what was not going to be a right fit for our new house, and dealing with our boys' transition from living in one home to another! 

Thankfully, we survived those hectic months! 

We also buckled down on our finances. While we are not dirty poor, we are also not rich, and while we don't ever expect to be a millionaires; we want to make sure that the future for our boys are secure. We want to pay off the remaining debt that we have. Becoming homeowners only reinforced this desire even more. We have used a bit of Dave Ramsey plan in the past, however not heavily or seriously. This is only an introduction back then! However, this time, we are serious, willing, and determined to buckle it down completely. It is quite amazing how our communication about money has shaped our marriage in the past, and in the present as well. 

We have never had any serious arguments about money, and had it affect our marriage in a negative way. Sure, to be honest, we have had some disagreements here and there, some avoidance about discussing money, stress about certain bills (especially medical bills), and not always being on the same page. There has been some days when adulting is not so fun. However, we are fortunate that we don't very often find ourselves in despair, overwhelmed, and worrying about whether we will survive the next day. We are not very spend thrifty people, But...It is just crazy how little things add up here and there. Sorry, Starbucks, we have to break up. I will still see you from time to time though! But not all of the time. Nonetheless, we did need to wake up, and revamp how we approach money. 

In the past few months, I have learned a lot, and we find that we become a stronger team when we are able to sit down to discuss what we should do with the money we have. We work hard to pay off the debt we have. Student loans, anybody? Medical bills? You can pay them for me?? Kidding. Really, as we learn how to manage money better, we are also teaching our kids how to better themselves for when that time comes for them to start handling money. We are determined to live as frugal as possible in the next two years to pay off our college loans, car payment, and the medical bills. We know we are perfectly capable of doing so, based on how well we have been doing these few past months! 

It is a big part of being responsible, and being an adult: to understand, to organize, and to utilize money for better. We realize that budget is not a dirty word that restricts us from enjoying thing, but rather, it is freeing, because we are able to enjoy things guilt free! Thanks Dave Ramsey. 

To have one less things that act as a barrier in our communication, I do feel our marriage has become stronger--not that our marriage is weaker, struggling, or on verge of disaster before, but rather with this opening up other pathway how we communicate with each other, I do feel we have become of a team. It is why I find it so important for anybody in a serious relationship to be able to discuss openly, and freely about money; to become a team, and to support each other when it comes to money to pay off any debts you may have.

As our fifth anniversary letter states: 

"Happy Fifth Anniversary:
Ashley--you've been in our family for 5 years now. You're a blessing to our goofy group.
Stuart--my dear godson, you did well in your choice for a wife.
Prayers that you will always be as happy as you were on your wedding day--you two are very special.
Love you."
(Thanks Aunt Chris, we love you too) 

The message is simple, yet powerful. Rely on your family, consider each other as number one, and always cherish your good days, because those days will help you survive the hard days. Come through storms happier instead of sadder. Trust me, it may sound weird, because storms do leave us scattered, battered, and broken. It is okay to be sad while you are happy. It is okay to be sad and not be happy during that particular time in your life. But do find happiness in little things. They act as our buoys. For me, it is our boys, Bea (our goofy hound), our cats, family, and especially so, Stuart. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

FDR is EIGHTEEN Months old

Dear Franklin,

You are 18 months old today!

As it is to be expected, you are entering Terrible 2's! The way how you express your frustration is endearingly cute. Even if you are being cute at throwing a fit, Mama and Daddy step in to nip it in the bud, because you know what, one day it is not going to be so cute anymore! You throw yourself on the floor, and kick your feet against the wall. Or you hit yourself in the face when you are upset. Mama and Daddy have been encouraging you to use gentle hands on your body, and to express yourself by using signs, or verbal words if you are able, rather than hitting yourself. 

You squeal, and scream when you are excited. Whatever tickles your fancy, you make it known, and you squeal happily. You love playing with Forrest, and Forrest is beginning to think you are not bad after all. Forrest takes your hand into his, and takes you with him to play in his bedroom. Forrest shares some of his toys with you. It warms Mama's heart to see this. You love your big brother so, and it makes you burst with joy when Forrest allows you into his world.

You like to get into everything. You are a little Evel Kneivel. You get yourself into most dangerous situations ever known to man. Mama jokingly calls this stage, a suicide stage, because it is when toddlers get into things that potentially kill them. It is why Mama has some gray hair strands already, and also the reason why Mama is always on the move. You are learning, and that is okay, because it means Daddy and Mama are teaching you boundaries in order for you to stay safe.

You are very expressive. You love making faces, and you make it very obvious to everybody how you are feeling at that time. Mama laughs every time you make a disgruntled face with pouty lips. You prefer signing over speaking. You sign so many things such as water, meat, food, dog, cat, mama, to name a few. You are a quick learner. You acquire a sign, and know immediately how to connect it to something. It is quite amazing to watch your language develop. 

You love food. You eat, eat, and eat. You have NOT met a food that you did not like. Whatever is set in front of you, you gobble it up, and ask for the seconds! Daddy jokingly says that you need to teach Forrest to pick up your habits with eating, since he's so picky with what is given to him! Mama is excited for this upcoming summer, because with Farmer's Market, there will be fresh vegetables for you to enjoy!

You had your first major move into your brand new home that Daddy and Mama recently bought. You handled the procession like a champ, and was not frazzled by the changes. You were thrown off  your routine a bit, and within a couple days, you returned back to normal as soon as you realized that the routine had not changed. Daddy and Mama were quite glad with how well you and Forrest adjusted to living in a new home.

You are nearly matching Forrest in height by being 33 inches tall! You weigh at 26 and half pounds. You are definitely going to be our linebacker with you being so tall, and stocky!

It is hard to believe that you will be two in 6 months. It is mind boggling how fast your babyhood has gone by. It feels like, at least to Mama, that your babyhood is even quicker than Forrest's. Perhaps it is because life has gotten busier with two little kids underfoot running around. Nonetheless, as quick as your babyhood is going by, Mama and Daddy are enjoying it as much as they can.

Mama and Daddy and Forrest

Sunday, April 24, 2016

...And There Will Be a Rainbow

October 15th - Break the Silence:

How is it really fair? I am not sure. For the past two months, I had a wonderful secret that I was unable to wait to share with the world. I fantasized about our announcement to our family, and friends. I dreamed about a third set of pitter and patter of little feet keeping up with the big brothers'. I agonized whether we should find out the sex, or be surprised again, since that was so much fun with our second. I took weekly pregnancy pictures, smiled every time I picked up a positive pregnancy test (three of them, matter of fact), and as much as I hated first trimester throes of sickness, I welcomed it. Never would I have thought my dream would end so abruptly.                    

I will never forget the dreaded line that came from the ultrasound technician. It has seared its way into my heart. When the words are uttered, "there is no heartbeat", the trapdoor opens underneath my feet, and I fall. I have been falling ever since. 

My doctor came in, and the first thing she did was to comfort us. I knew I had picked the right doctor, and she behaved exactly how the way I wanted a doctor would have acted in that very moment. She explained to us, very gently, that there was nothing we had done wrong, and the baby had passed from chromosomal issues. She recommended to have D&C procedure done to confirm what had happened. We agreed to have it done the following day. 

This was when I started to see people for who they are; hands reaching out to steady me, those who have cried with me, pulled me into a hug, sent me loving messages, swooping in to help in any way they can, and they are angels sent by god. Something inside me has changed forever, and I can't quite put my finger on what has changed, but I know the reason why. I had lost my baby.

20 Quotes From Children’s Books Every Adult Should Know:

It had been a difficult whirlwind ride in those 24 hours from the very moment that we learned that our baby had died to having a D&C procedure done. The hospital nurses, and my doctor all were amazing. I felt so indebted to them for taking a such good care of me. Such amazing team of people. I held it together pretty well on the day of D&C surgery. I went in with my guns blazing, and determined to keep it together. I can do it, I told myself. I was out for the procedure, felt nothing, and had no memory of it. It was something I was also thankful for. When I first woke up, I thought I was at home, that it was all a terrible dream, and my baby was still alive. Then I saw that I was in the pre-op room with a nurse monitoring me, and it dawned to me that it was not a dream. It happened. 

Grief crept in very softly, quietly, as I slowly woke up. It was not akin to a tsunami wave crashing onto me, but rather very much like a smoke unfurling inside my chest. The roaring wave came later. The nurses wheeled me to the recover room where Stu waited for me. I silently counted in my head to soothe myself. I tried to hold it together as much as I can, as much as I could with all of my mighty. I wanted to be strong even though I felt so fragile, so broken, and so sad. 

The nurse asked me to go bathroom to collect my urine. That was hard to see the blood, knowing that my body was empty, and void. I returned, and started the discharge process. I was handed a pamphlet about a miscarriage, and a card. Inside the card, there was a poem with a pouch of a little ring to memorialize our baby. It was when an angry tsunami wave crashed onto me. I was drowning. Tears started coming. It became real. Too real. 

This has been the quote that has helped me through this terrible but magical time in my life. I love you Hunter and I'll see you again one day:

On the way home, Stu and I barely talked, and just intertwined our hands. It was all we really could do, hang on to each other, and allow the grief pass. On the horizon, I saw gray fierce storm clouds quickly approaching us, and before we knew it, a torrential rain hit us hard. I thought to myself, almost comically bitter, about how fitting it was to have such terrible weather to fit the turmoil I felt on the inside. Suddenly as it had came on, the rain stopped, and the skies cleared. Stu tapped me on my shoulder, and told me to look behind me. I did. There was a big, bold colorful rainbow making its presence known. It was no mistaking it for a rainbow. I started sobbing, not just because I was so sad, but because I knew it was god's way of telling us that it was going to be okay. 

I go through different emotions throughout the day. Sometimes even minutes, or hours. I see something that takes away my breath. I gasp. I feel like I am dying. Instead of fighting grief, I walk hand in hand with grief, and it abates just enough for me to breath again. 

I want the world to stop spinning, to acknowledge that I am feeling shattered, and to say that my baby did exist. I struggle with that so much. I have never felt my baby move. I barely had a glimpse of my baby on the ultrasound screen. I will never have my belly grow, give birth, and watch my baby grow into someone incredible. I look at my boys, and I realize what I am going to miss out with my angel baby. Did my baby ever really exist? All I have is a few pregnancy tests, and first few weeks of my pregnancy belly shots to prove that my baby did, at one time, exist. I don't want to be the statistic. I don't want to be in the dreaded club, yet I am a member against my will. It hurts. It hurts something fierce. 

As much as I am struggling right now, I realize that the storm will pass in time, and I grab at any opportunity that arises to take a refugee from the grief. Every time Forrest runs up to me to shower me with kisses, I smile, and absorb his love. Every time Franklin softly snuggles next to me, I breath in the toddler scent on top of his head, and hold him. Every time, Bea gives me a stuck lip expression, I laugh. Every time Stu pulls me into a hug, I take a solace in his love, and comfort. Every time I get a kind message from a friend, or family, I feel their love, and take a deep breath. Sometimes it is all what I need.

Where You are Mom ♥♥♥ is where I want to be. .You and me forever...:

In order for me to heal, I do need to commemorate my loss, and to honor what I had even for so briefly. I need something tangible to say, yes your little one did exist. Then I can begin to heal from my heartbreak. Someday, when I am old and gray, and it is my time to go, I know I will get to hold my angel baby.

In the meanwhile, when we at least expect it, we will blessed with our rainbow baby who happens to be carefully handpicked by our angel baby. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Main Floor Renovation

Oh boy, our main floor is a mess right now.  Even with the mess, it is so exciting to see the crew hard at work with the renovation. Here's a quick preview of our kitchen pantry before and after! 

Our main floor is currently being worked on. The wall there is going to have an accent wall, meaning a different shade of color than the rest of the walls in the house. The air conditioning unit is GONE, and the hoel is patched over. The painters are coming to paint the walls. Then I believe the floor will be next. 

Lower Level: Basement Renovation

As promised, here is a post about our lowest level of our tri-level home. Oh boy, there has been so many changes! I'm extremely pleased with how well things are going. Remember our hideous wood panel basement?

Well, well, it is all gone! Here's the entrance to both upstairs to our bedrooms, upper bathroom, and downstairs entrance to the basement. I thought I had taken pictures of our new bathroom in the basement, and apparently, I did not. So you can kind of see the bathroom being renovated downstairs. 

 Here's our basement that will be changed into our living room. Off to the left is the fourth bedroom. I am not sure what we will be doing to the panel wall extension. It cannot be removed, because if we opt to remove the extension of the wall, then it goes right into the foundation. It costs too much money to remove the wall extension for additional few inches. So we are leaving it as it is, and we will update the panel. 

To the right, you can see that we added more room to the downstairs bathroom. We added a shower in there! 

The fourth bedroom is still being renovated. We plan on converting it into a multi-purpose room where my sewing table will reside as well as our computer and my videophone, play room for the boys, and a guest room for when our guests spend night with us. I will have to take pictures of the room next time I am there. 

Here's the before pictures of our mudroom, and laundry room. The door there leads out to the backyard. There are little doors, which the ugly washing and drying machines are blocking in the photo, that leads to crawlspace to store rest of our things for holidays, traveling, boys' clothes, and our stuff that we don't need on for our daily use. 

This is not the best "during" photo, but you get the idea of what it looks like! You finally can see the cellar doors leading to the crawlspace here. We are removing a door from the living room to the mudroom to have it be replaced with a half door. That way, I can peek over to the kids while I am loading the washing machine, or allowing our cats to jump over to eat their food, and do their business. I am hoping to update our cabinets by painting it white, or different color, but keep them for laundry stuff. I don't want to remove them, because it is nice to have additional storage space. It just need to be spruced up with new handles, and a fresh coat of paint.  

Like always, I will post more of during photos while we are having our home renovated! 

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Drastic Change Coming Up!

It has been a while since I last blogged, because of a couple reasons: One, life has really gotten busy, and I'm sure all of you can empathize with that, especially with raising two kids under age of four, and two, we had a big news that I wanted to keep under the wraps until everything got to be official.

We found a house! 

We spent good year and half searching for a right home for our growing family. Where we live, there was not a lot of houses that met our requirements that we wanted in a home that also met our budget! In January, we were given an opportunity to have a home renovated, and we decided to take the offer. It was exactly like the show called Property Brothers on HGTV. Check it out, and you'll know what I mean!

It was very scary, I won't lie, because the house was older, and you know as it usually happens in an older home...they tend to be very outdated! The home had very good bones with a lot of potential. As my mom said to me once, after expressing my doubts to her, it's a diamond in the rough. She was right. It was a diamond in the rough. I just had to let go of what I was seeing at the very moment to visualize our new home. 

The renovation began on Sunday February 14th, which made it a great Valentine's Day gift to us! The first step of renovation was to take down the hideous room of a kitchen to create an open concept on the first floor of our home. You will see why it was cringe-worthy at first. 

When we first walked in, there was a large green wall, and it was an extreme eyesore. Blargh. 

Holy paneling, right? UGLY. That HAD to go. It made the entire floor so small to install hideous walls to surround the kitchen. It was a quite terrible concept that the previous owner did to his home. Then there was a hole in the wall? It was not a great design. 

I have no idea WHY, but panels are quite popular in older homes up here in the north woods. It is just not my thing. It may have worked for some homes, but it is not jiving so well in our home. 

Inside the room, there was a kitchen. Of course, everything had to go in order to create an open concept for the entire first floor. This whole thing got ripped apart, including the walls, and Stu even had a chance to destroy this with the crew. It was a lot of fun for him! 

I stopped by shortly after the room was disassembled, and I was surprised to see the difference! 

By removing the weird walls to create a kitchen, it really opened up the whole floor. I was pleasantly impressed with the outcome. 

Now, we are nowhere close to being done. There is still ways to go yet. This is still only the beginning. The next step is to rip out the carpeting, and put down the flooring. We are thrilled with our choice of the flooring. It is a "hot" thing right now, and I can't wait to show it off. Once the carpet is out, the linoleum is ripped out, the crew will proceed to level the ground, because right now, it's a bit not level. Once that is corrected, the new flooring will be put in. Think barn floor. That's my hint! Of course, that air condition unit will go, and the wall will be patched up. We are having a central air installed! 

After the floor is put in, the walls will obviously be painted with a choice of our color we like. I'm thinking maybe cream, or beige, but I need to see the flooring in the place first before we can make a decision about the wall paint color. The island, a large pantry closet (so excited about that), updated appliances, updated cabinets (we went with espresso chocolate), the dining room, and a small formal living room will be put put in. Of course, the patio door will be updated. 

And that is only for the first floor.

We have already updated the upstairs bathroom. The previous owner had a job arranged, and did not want to have that money go to waste. So, by the time the crew came in, the bathroom was halfway done! It was a good thing we liked the texture of the wall, and the color. We picked a different shower tiles to replace the wall inside the shower stall with the tub to match the paint job. Awesome. It saved us money to have the bathroom painted! 

A lot on the upstairs level is already updated. It requires cosmetic work rather than an actual demolition. We plan on having carpet replaced, and walls repainted. We want to do more cosmetic work for the doors upstairs, but those can really wait until the next house project...perhaps next year? 

As for the third level, which I hesitate to call the basement, because it is not a true basement. It has other living room, a bedroom, and a half bathroom, which will be converted into a full bathroom with a shower. Adjacent to the living is a mudroom/laundry room with an enormous crawlspace to serve as a "basement". I will write other blog post about the third level, because it is a large task in itself. I plan on taking pictures of before, during (if I can), and after. Right now what I can say about the third floor is...holy paneling...again! Why, people, why? Here's a preview for you to CRRRINNNNGGEE. 

Of course, that will all go, including barf green carpet, and hanging lights. Bye Bye. The bedroom is adjacent to the living room. It will closed off. I'm hoping that we can install barn doors. In front of the photo off the right is the half bathroom. The mudroom is just off the left. I will take better pictures next time to give you better idea. As for right now, it is just barf-worthy, and I am excited to see the drastic difference in time yet to come! There will be several blog posts coming up to document everything, and I am quite excited to share this journey with you guys! 

In the meanwhile, my kids are growing hungry for a snack, and the dog is begging to be let in. So I shall conclude right here, and...until next time! 

(In the meanwhile, I really should update you all about the Russ Family. Perhaps a Russ Family Update is in order soon?) 

Stay tuned for the next post!