Friday, December 30, 2011

kaiden's new friend

Kaiden got a new friend for Christmas... a beanie baby teddy bear.  He loves his new pal.  He plays with him, sleeps with him and takes him where ever we go...

kaiden with teddy bear tucked in his coat for a hands-free shopping experience

time for teddy bear to take a nap... in the microwave

Saturday, December 17, 2011

work in progress | part 2

I know you're just dying to know what's going on in this house of ours we're working on.  You're thinking it must be looking beautiful by now.  You're all thinkin' "they've been working on it for like eight months now and with Dan's killer carpentry skills it's gotta be looking pretty, stinkin' sweet by now."

I feel it's time to be real with ya'll...

Do you remember in that one post, I said "things may have to look worse before they can look better"?  Well... things are looking way worse.  Paige, if you're reading, here's a little Celebreality Saturday for you...

as you can tell, this is the family room...

this is what is supposed to be a kitchen... I bet you're wondering what the heck we're doing... you'll see... someday

this is the livingroom/kitchen/playroom... don't you just love the wrapping paper curtains?  I made them myself... all two and a half of them because I ran out of wrapping paper

my kitchen in boxes... carpet samples... a little holiday decor... doesn't it feel so cozy and inviting?
Just so you know, we won't be living like this forever.  This will all be done soon.  Okay, well, maybe not soon, but someday.  Someday it will feel like home.

Just remember, this means PROGRESS and I love my husband.  (he told me to write that).

Friday, December 2, 2011


I enjoy music that speaks to me or talks about something I’m dealing with at a particular time.  Since I’m not good with words or expressing how I feel, sometimes certain music and lyrics can explain my thoughts better than I can.  The song “Greener” by Ryan Seiler is one of those songs.  The words are so real and true:  

I covet what is not near
I overlook what I hold dear

I long for days gone by
days I spent longing for another time

If the grass is greener on the other side
it’s only because I’m not attending mine

I happened to find this video just a couple weeks after I had just moved from Ames to a new town.  As I started watching it I began to cry.  I quickly realized this video was taped in my old neighborhood, on my old street that I had just moved from.  I sat there with tears streaming down my face, longing for my old house, my old neighborhood, my old neighbors... I began thinking of the walks I took in that neighborhood; the stroller rides I took Kaiden on; the different seasons we spent in that house... I longed for those days back.  I longed to be back in that neighborhood with the way things were before. I longed for the culture of that town, for the church we left there, the friends we left there and the life we left there.  Yet, funny thing is, when I was there, when I had all that, I wanted something else... something more.

Dan wanted to design and build and pursue that passion while providing for his family.  He wanted to work for and learn from his dad.  I wanted to be able to stay home with my son.  We wanted to be closer to family.  All these things we couldn’t have or find in Ames.  So we moved to Sioux Center. Now I sometimes find myself longing to go back to Ames.  It’s funny how I can so easily forget the negative things and so easily forget the reason we left Ames and so easily look past the positive things we have now - the things we wanted.

If the grass is greener on the other side, it’s only because I’m not attending mine.

For me, the grass is usually greener on the other side.  So how do I make the grass greener on the side I’m already on?  It’s often a constant battle as there will always be something more or something I perceive to be better than what I have now.  It’s all about perspective and contentment and remembering we are blessed.  I choose to think about the blessings we have here and now: a healthy family; a job Dan enjoys; a husband that does and wants to provide for his family; a healthy, happy son I’m able to stay home with; a house we love.  I also try to remember that even if we did move back to Ames, it wouldn’t be the same.  We would still have struggles and Dan wouldn’t be building with his dad and I wouldn’t be able to stay home with Kaiden and we wouldn’t live close to family.  Rather than wanting more, I need to choose to be content with what God has given me.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

just a simple little weekend project

When I say 'just a simple, little, weekend project', what I really mean is this project wasn't actually so simple and it wasn't little and it really wasn't even planned (at least not for last weekend).  It was dirty, dangerous, scary and tiring.  Dan and I and only Dan and I got started on the weekend project... while Kaiden was trapped in the living room with t.v., toys and door shut.
By now you might be wondering what this project is all about.  It's about tearing out this stone (really heavy stone) fireplace surround.  Not to fool anyone - those are real stones... heavy stones... that if they came tumbling down from the top could bust through the floor to the basement.  Did I mention they were heavy?

As I mentioned, we weren't really expecting to do this last weekend.  The plan was that Dan was going to try knocking out a stone or two to see what kind of work we had ahead of us.  We had planned to round up more help when it came to actually doing it.  But once he started he just kept going and I joined in.
We then really got serious and went to his dad's shop to gather any kind of padding/cushion we could to soften the fall when/if the stones fell to the floor.  We also needed safety gear for ourselves too.  Dust masks for the both of us (it was so dusty) and safety glasses of course.  Then to work we went.  Dan slammed away with the sledge hammer and I carried stones outside, one by one.  Toward the bottom of the fireplace there were concrete blocks, mortar and tile that filled 2 and a half pick-up loads.

This is me in all my safety gear glory

It felt like this rubble was never-ending

I was so exhausted that I literally could have fallen asleep on this rubble and concrete block pillow

Now we have a clean slate!  Except for that cupboard and last piece of paneling we need to remove, but that's a piece of cake in comparison to what we just accomplished.  It feels good to have this project out of the way.  Stay tuned to see what we do with this clean slate!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

work in progress

Since I'm a sucker for the big reveal after a big project with all the pathetic 'before' pictures and the glorious 'after' pictures, this is not something I would typically do... But, because it may be awhile before we arrive at our final masterpiece, I thought I would share with you our work in progress. This is what our dinning room/living room area currently looks like in the midst of improvements. It may just have to look worse before it can look better.  (Although some might argue that it already looks better than when we first moved in, minus the multi-colored wall.)

Now, just to clarify, I am not writing this post to complain.  This is far from complaining.  This mess of a dining room/living room/kitchen is actually a good thing since (a) this means PROGRESS and (b) we are getting the opportunity to make our house feel like ours.  And, I must say, I'm quite surprised with how ok I am with the fact that our window is covered with two different length curtains; there are four different colors on one wall; the other wall continues to create dust from all the mudding and sanding drywall and a drop cloth, ladder and shop-vac have become permanent fixtures in our living room for about the last 4 weeks.  Quite honestly, I think I've been very patient through this whole process (though Dan may not agree).

How many colors can you count on that wall?  Trust me, there are four... but the massive, brown, '70's intercom system is gone!  That's what I call progress!

The living room, minus the shop-vac.  You're lucky you can't really see the opposite wall.  If you could, you'd know why I say this already is a definite improvement.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Swimming Lessons!

As you may know, Kaiden turned two in August and it seems that ever since he reached the 2-year mark, he has become such a grown-up little boy.  Now that he's two, he thinks he can do anything, including swim lessons.  So we signed him up and last night was his first lesson.  He did great!

here is Kaiden with his daddy, waiting for the lesson to start

swimming on his tummy

kicking his feet

and time for a little fun too

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kaiden vs. Concrete

This is what Kaiden's face looks like after a tumble down concrete patio stairs...

Can we say OUCH!?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Better Late Than Never - Kaiden's Birth Story

I have something to admit.  It's a bit pathetic.  My son is 2 years old and I just now purchased a baby memory book for him.  I have spent this week trying to remember the major events and dates and thoughts of the first two years of his life.  Let me just give a little advice if I may.  To those of you expecting or ever plan to be expecting - purchase a baby memory book when your child is just born or, even better, before he/she is born.  I'm pretty sure it would be way easier to fill it out as you go instead of thinking back through the first two years of a child's life.

Anyway... as I've been filling out Kaiden's memory book I also typed up his birth story to put in the book.  And since I have it all typed up, I thought I would share it with anyone who might be interested.

I had a scheduled doctor appointment the morning of August 20, 2009 for a weekly check-up before I was to head to Des Moines for work.  My appointment was around 9:00 that morning and as I lay there while the mid-wife examined me, I suddenly felt a strange, uncomfortable feeling come over me.  The mid-wife could tell I was feeling uncomfortable, more uncomfortable than what’s normal at nearly nine months of pregnancy.  She asked “did you just have a contraction?”  

I replied, “I don’t know.  I’ve never had a contraction in my life... I don’t know what it feels like.”  

She felt my stomach and told me it was, indeed, a contraction.  Since I was still two and a half weeks from my due date, she hadn’t checked what I was dilated to yet, but since she thought I had just had a contraction, she decided to see how far I was dilated.  I was at 3 cm.

Okay... so, what now?  What does this mean?  To get an idea of how serious she was, I asked her if she thought I should go to work... down to Des Moines... 45 minutes from the hospital I planned to give birth.  She suggested I stay around Ames and said that if I didn’t have a baby today, then it would be tomorrow.  What?  What!  I still have 2 ½ more weeks.  I’m not ready.  The nursery is not ready.  I’ve only done one day of training with the person at work that was going to take over for me while I was on maternity leave. I’M NOT READY.

She advised me to come back later that afternoon to check how far I had dilated.  I immediately called Dan to tell him the news.  His reaction:  What?  What!  We’re not ready.  We’re supposed to have 2 ½ more weeks.  

So, when I say we’re not ready, I mean there is nothing in the nursery but a crib.  Literally.  Dan had recently torn down the old plaster and lats in the nursery closet and put new Sheetrock up and was in the midst of finishing that, along with finishing a dresser/changing table.  All the baby stuff was scattered around the spare room, still in their packages.

Well, looks like we have a lot to do before 4:00 this evening.  (that’s when I was to go back to the hospital again to check how far I was dilated.)  Dan came home from work and got busy working on the closet and dresser.  I went home and started going through all the  baby stuff, making a list of what I still needed, all the while taking note of how often I was having contractions.  About 5 to 7 minutes apart, but manageable.  

Dan and I then headed to Target to get the last-minute items.  Just a little side note here - this just also happened to be the week college students were coming back to Ames for the new school year and Target was PACKED.  I proceeded to walk my big-bellied-chicken-legged-contractions-every-five-minutes self into target and knew there was no way I was going to make it two feet farther than I had already waddled myself.  My only option- the motorized scooter.  I know.  I hate to admit it and Dan hated to be seen with me driving that thing, but there I was, in the middle of Target, driving a motorized scooter.  To make matters worse, for some reason the thing kept dying on me and there I was with my big belly, stranded in the middle of the Target aisle with college students swarming around me.  Not a pretty picture.

We eventually got what we needed and headed back home to try to unpack some things and get some more things done.  Soon it was time to head back to the doctor to see if I was dilated any more.  The mid-wife checked me and I had indeed dilated another cm.  I was now at 4 cm.  She told us she was going to call over to the hospital and tell them we were coming over after we go home to get our bags and anything we need for the hospital.  Hearing this, I began to cry.  I don’t know why exactly.  The pregnancy hormones; the reality that we were going to be bringing our first baby into this world; the fear of giving birth; the excitement that this was really happening.

By this time it’s nearly 5:00 p.m. and the contractions are getting more intense.  We went home to get our bags to take to the hospital as the mid-wife instructed.  As we are about to leave the house to head back to the hospital, Dan asked me if he could have another hour to work on the dresser and nursery before we go to the hospital.  Now, to those of you who have ever been pregnant and have ever had contractions and have ever given birth, you know that is not a good question to ask.  I don’t think I even had to say anything.  He could tell by the burning glare I shot him with my eyes that the answer was NO!  We are going to the hospital NOW.

We make it to the hospital about 5:00 and get checked in and get settled into our room.  Now the contractions are really getting intense.  I keep thinking about the birthing class we took and kept trying to do the things I learned there.  I did some heavy breathing, some walking, some bouncing on the bouncy ball...  Dan was a great support and helped keep me focused on breathing and did whatever I asked him to do.  He even stopped answering his phone when I told him to.

By 9:00 p.m. I had reached my breaking point.  The contractions where overwhelming me and I felt like I couldn’t catch a break before the next contraction would come.  I was ready for an epidural.  Finally, relief.  The mid-wife broke my water and Dan and I both took a nap.

Around 12:00 midnight, my contractions were off the chart (good thing I couldn’t feel a thing) and I was dilated to 10 cm.  Time to deliver a baby.  I pushed a few times and what seemed like only about 20 minutes later, our new baby boy came into this world.  

Kaiden Mark was born August 21, 2009 at 12:38 a.m. - two and a half weeks early.  7 lb. 12 oz. 21 ½ inches long.

I couldn’t have asked for a better, smoother labor and delivery.  Praise God!

Oh, and in case your were wondering... although I left our house that day with only a crib in the nursery, I came home to the sweetest nursery a mommy could ask for.  Wonderful friends and family helped finish the dresser, the closet, the nursery, unpackaged baby things and did laundry so baby Kaiden was welcomed home and I didn’t have to worry about a thing.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Bathroom Remodel

We really like our new house and from the first time we looked at it, we knew it had potential.  It was custom-built in 1978 and had only one owner when we bought it.  It was built well and solid and we could tell the owners had taken great care of it over the years.  They had taken such great care of it over the years that I'm pretty sure it still looks exactly the same as it did the day they built it.  Now we are in the process of slowly transforming it to look like it belongs in this decade and to make it feel more like ours.

First up:  The master bathroom.

Here is a BEFORE picture of the bathroom:

The plan was to get rid of the toilet paper holder/magazine rack there on the wall; remove the wallpaper; get rid of that cabinet above the sink; build a new vanity; add more storage; replace the countertop, sink and faucet; replace the flooring... um, pretty much redo the whole thing.  The only thing that remains the same is the toilet and shower stall.

I began by removing the wallpaper, only to find another layer under that (see below the beautiful shell wallpaper behind the stripes).  I also found evidence of yet another layer of wallpaper under the shells.  Instead of pulling off all those layers, Dan opted to skim-coat over it with drywall mud.

I'm pretty sure Kaiden was the biggest help of all.  He always had to be right next to (if not right on top of) Dan.

Dan built a beautiful vanity and cabinet for extra storage and topped the vanity with a new countertop, sink and faucet.  Though the vanity is hard to see in the final picture, I must tell you he did an amazing job.  We used left-over flooring from our kitchen remodel in our old house.  (We had just enough). Dan also was given an old mirror at a job he was working at and had it cut down to size and built a frame around it.  We also painted the ceiling and walls and added new towel bars.

And the moment you've all been waiting for...  Our new and improved master bathroom:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Things I've Learned Living in Sioux Center

Moving from Ames to Sioux Center was the biggest move I've ever made.  I know,  a whole three and a half hours from Ames may not sound like much, but I have come to find it is quite different here in northwest Iowa and I've actually learned a little somthin'. Here's what I've learned so far:

1.   I know what silage is.
2.   There is a difference between combining and chopping and I know what the difference is.
3.   I should never, ever mow my lawn on Sunday.  Not that I would or that I did in the past.
      Heck, I never had mowed a lawn in my life until I moved here.  So I guess that leads to
      the next thing I learned...
4.   How to mow the lawn.
5.   Depending on which direction the wind is blowing, you may not want to open your 
      windows.  For those of you who don't understand why, let me explain.  Farms can be kinda
      stinky sometimes.
6.   Almond patties are better than dutch letters.
7.   The county fair is a BIG DEAL.
8.   That I am a city girl.
9.   I know what dutch bingo is.
10. The noon meal is called 'dinner'.  A mid-morning or afternoon snack is called "lunch".

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Apple Crisp

It's that time of year... Fall! and what reminds me of fall, but warm, homemade apple crisp.  Since I've gotten tons of free apples from the in-law's apple tree that is exploding with yummy, fresh apples, I thought I would make some apple crisp.  Since Helen and Rod asked for the recipe, I'm assuming it turned out pretty good, so I thought I'd share.  The recipe that is.

10 cups apples
1 cup sugar
1T flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup water

1 cup oats
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, melted
(this is what the topping recipe calls for but I double the topping recipe - that's the best part!)

Mix filling and let set while you mix topping.  Put half of topping in the bottom of a 9x13 greased pan.  Place filling on top and add the rest of the topping on top.  Bake 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Weekend Away

Dan and I went to Minneapolis this weekend - without Kaiden - and it was wonderful!  We left Friday afternoon and made it there by evening to celebrate our anniversary.  Dan planned an evening as a surprise to me.  We ended up on the riverfront and ate at a restaurant with the most amazing food.  Then we spent the evening walking by the river and enjoying the atmosphere of the area.

Saturday we went shopping.  Mostly because I wanted to.  Thanks Dan.  A while back I had come across this store online called Home Goods.  I really wanted to check it out but the closest one was in Minnesota.  So when planning our trip we of course had to make a stop at this store.  It was first on the agenda and I must say I love Home Goods.  I was like a little kid in a candy store.  Seriously.  Sioux Center needs one of these stores... and a Target, but that's another story.

Then we went to Ikea, which neither one of us had ever been to either.  According to Mapquest, what was supposed to take us 15 minutes took us an hour and 15 minutes to get to because of a detour.  Which wouldn't have been so bad except our gas tank was pretty much on empty and we were sitting at a dead-stop on the interstate.  Kinda of scary.  We did make it to Ikea, but we decided we for sure needed to fill up with gas before heading back to our hotel... so after Ikea, what do we do?  Get right onto the interstate, without filling up with gas... only to merge onto the interstate and sit at a dead-stop.  Now my car is dinging because our gas is on empty.  I start freaking out.  I do not want to be the one causing more of a traffic jam when I run out of gas in the middle of the interstate.  We turn the car off and try to coast; we turn it back on when traffic starts moving a little... then stop again.  My nerves start to get the best of me and I start to cry (a little).  Since we're just sitting there we ask the person in the car next to us where the nearest gas station is.  The next exit.  The next exit seems like forever when you're not moving at all.  Eventually we get to a place where we could drive on the shoulder and pass all the cars to get to the exit, but I don't want to do that so Dan and I jump out of the car, switch seats and Dan drives on the shoulder to the exit.  We make it to the gas station just in time.  I was finally able to calm down once we had a full tank of gas.  I didn't care how long it took us to get back to our hotel as long as I knew we had gas.

Anyway, Ikea was cool.  Then later that evening we went to a dinner theater and watched an improv comedy show.  That was pretty funny.  Sunday before we went home we stopped at Menards.  It was the biggest Menards I have ever been to.  It was huge.  It had two floors and strangely enough there was someone playing a baby grand piano in the middle of the store.  In Menards.  Anywho... that was our weekend and though it was a wonderful weekend I was very much looking forward to seeing my little K-man.  But, wouldn't you know, he wanted nothing to do with us when we walked in the house to see him.  He was busy playing 'farm' with grandma and grandpa.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Summertime Sweet Corn

One of the best things about summertime in Iowa?  Corn on the cob.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Spinach & Feta Stuffed Chicken

This is one of our favorites.  Got this recipe from my friend, Kelly Fischer, and thought I would share it since we enjoy it so much!

4 chicken breasts
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
2 cloves garlic, minced
handfuls of fresh spinach (to taste)
chopped sun-dried tomatoes
sun-dried tomato vinaigrette

-Combine mayo, feta, garlic, spinach and tomatoes in a bowl and set aside.
-Butterfly chicken breasts, season with salt and pepper.
-spoon mixture into chicken breasts, close and secure with toothpicks.
-Place in greased cooking dish, top with vinaigrette.
-Bake at 350 degrees 15 minutes covered; 20 minutes uncovered; 5 minutes on broil until chicken is cooked through and lightly browned.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

our story

As many of you know, we recently moved to Sioux Center, IA after living in Ames for nearly nine years.  We loved living in Ames; loved the town; loved the church we found there; loved the culture and most of all loved the friends there.  As with anyone living in a place for an extended period of time, we got very connected and our roots began getting deep there.

Dan has always had a talent, skill and passion for woodworking, design, building and construction.  While in Ames he worked as a graphic designer and was able to do some construction and building.  As much as he enjoyed his job he always had in the back of his mind that he wanted to do something more with construction and building.  His dad owns a small construction company and it seemed it was just a matter of time before he would work with and learn from his dad.

After years of talking about it and praying about it, it seemed that moving to Sioux Center to work with his dad was becoming more and more a reality.  We did a lot of praying and seeking wise counsel about the situation and for the first time in our life together we felt God was leaving the doors wide open for us to move to Sioux Center.

We put our house in Ames up for sale by owner and within a week we had an offer on the house!  In a poor housing market like this, God was again reassuring us that this was the direction He wanted us to go.  We planned a weekend to visit Sioux Center to look at houses there.  We probably looked at six or seven different houses and found only one we liked.  There was already an offer on it so we quickly threw our offer on the table as well.  After a couple days of negotiating and counter-offers and working against some other unknown individual that wanted the house too, we got it!

So here we are - living in Sioux Center.  Dan's working with his dad and I'm staying home with our two-year-old son (which I was not able to do before the move).  I'm loving being able to be home with Kaiden and am blessed to have such a hard-working, loving husband that works his butt off to allow me to stay home with Kaiden.

We are getting settled and know it will take time for our roots to grow deep again in this new place.  In this blog we hope to share our journey of our new life here in Sioux Center.