Friday, May 18, 2018

Spring animals

We have some new animal friends around here. Two new baby chicks to add to our flock of hens and a Slider turtle that some friends were getting rid of. Sometimes I can't believe how many animals we have around here to take care of (2 dogs, 1 cat, 2 snakes, 1 Cockatiel, 2 sucker fish, 5 chickens, and a turtle) but I can't imagine life without them! 

These little creatures enrich our lives and make us happy. I hope the feeling is mutual. :) 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Trauma is Trauma

These past 6 months I've been on a journey to learn more about PTSD. It's been pretty amazing to find myself walking down this path-- to watch myself grow, learn, and most importantly...heal. God has led me exactly towards this point in time and towards the people I need in my life at this time. He has never ever left my side through this roller coaster called life! 
If you know me well you know I am not a surfacey person. I like to dig deep within myself as well as with others when they open their souls to me. It's hard for me to stay on the surface in this space because I don't feel authentic when I do. I know it's not possible to share all the too-personal details of one's life, but this stuff is pretty HUGE for me. 

So today I just thought I would jot down a few things I've been learning/realizing/reliving these past months about Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder:

1. Trauma is trauma. You cannot take traumatic experiences and compare them between two people because what is internalized in the brain as trauma to one person may not affect the other person in the same way. For example, say you have two identical people--same gender, same age, same personality type, same social and economic backgrounds. Maybe they are even twins. They both have the same traumatic experience or experiences, yet one of them walks away fine while the other struggles for years with PTSD.

2. PTSD is “a disorder in which a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic events/events. The condition may last months or years, with triggers that can bring back memories of the trauma accompanied by intense emotional and physical reactions.

Symptoms may include nightmares or unwanted memories of the trauma, avoidance of situations that bring back memories of the trauma, heightened reactions, anxiety, or depressed mood.
Treatment includes different types of trauma-focused psychotherapy as well as medications to manage symptoms.” -Google

3. The vast majority of people will be alright after experiencing extreme stress and trauma in their lives. Through strong social networks, a trustworthy family support system, spiritual practices, and being able to recall and confront fears and events, most people will bounce back eventually.

4. Psychologists and neurologists together are making more discoveries about the biological factors which play a part in why some people develop PTSD and others don’t after having similar or extreme trauma in their lives.

5. Trauma can happen in many ways,  but the most common situations are  things like car accidents, deaths in the family, family conflict, natural disasters, war combat, and abuse in any form.

6. Depression and anxiety are symptoms of PTSD.

7. People who suffer from PTSD can be triggered by stressful experiences which hurdle them back into traumatic memories. This causes fluctuations of depression, anxiety, and often suicidal thoughts. Normal feelings of stress, disappointment, and overwhelm can be devastating to someone who has PTSD.

8. There may be people in your life who trigger painful memories. Avoiding them is a form of self-care (maybe until PTSD can be better managed and treated.)

9. PTSD can affect you for years and years after the events occurred because of the way the memories are stored in your brain.

10. Many people who suffer from PTSD will attach themselves to a coping mechanism designed to protect them from their pain. Most often these ways of coping are not the healthiest or self-destructive like food obsessions, eating disorders, porn addictions, alcoholism, drugs-prescription or illegal, cutting your skin, etc..

11. There are various treatments for Post-traumatic-stress-syndrome. One of them is EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This form of treatment is costly though it has been proven to be very successful among veterans of war..... and 39 year old women.

12. PTSD is not something I expected but it has been answering 20+ years of unanswered questions.

13. Trauma is trauma. Nobody should ever minimize your experiences. Having your thoughts and feelings listened to, understood, analyzed, and validated is pretty fantastic.

Weird Al in S. Utah

Tickets for Weird Al's "The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour" went on sale this past October so we bought 4 of them on opening day! We got excellent seats for myself, Micah, and our two eldest boys 8 months in advance! The concert was this past May 4th! I am so glad we got to go and also that my husband is so in tune with what cool things are coming to town because I had no idea. This concert was AMAZING!! 

Weird Al is one of my favorite musicians...more than because he has written some of the most hilariously funny parody songs of my generation but also because he is a brilliant musician on so many other levels. What many people don't know (who don't know Weird Al) is that he writes many of his own original songs which are brilliant, clever, comical, and shed light on many social and cultural issues but in a really lighthearted way. He also sings, plays instruments like the accordion, and has amazing hair.
 As we've followed his career over the years I've come to appreciate much more than his popular hits and have come to admire him as a talented artist and overall good person. 
By the way he's also a decent family man, his lyrics are clean, and yes, you can bring your kids to the show! Our boys loved it! It was so fun to be able to sit with them in the crowd and laugh and clap together at all the great things that are Weird Al. He is a phenomenal entertainer! And his opening act was a comedian called Emo Phillips who was pretty entertaining as well. he he...

The tour that Weird Al (and Emo) are on right now is not one of his mainstream tours designed to promote his most recent album. This tour was specifically intended for Weird Al to play all his obscure, original, and not as frilly songs purely for the fans who love his music. And it didn't disappoint! His music is awesome whether he performs "Amish Paradise" or "Buy me a Condo."

In lucky addition to getting to attend a Weird Al concert in semi-rural Southern Utah it also coincidentally landed on the unofficial official Star Wars Day, which means that he played 
The Saga Begins as his encore song. Score! It was great! And as a bonus people were waving their LED light-up light-sabers in the audience as he played. 

Overall this concert was so much fun and reminded me of how much I love going to concerts. I mean I REALLY miss going to them and miss having that rich, musical culture in my life. It's hard sometimes living in such a rural place, but I guess in the long run it makes these moments so much sweeter. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

I hiked in Zion and it felt good

Last Saturday I was able to check off a huge goal from my list--hiking Observation Point trail in Zion National Park! It was 8 miles up and back and one of the most gorgeous (amazing, phenomenal, inspiring, incredible, breathtaking) hikes I have ever been on!

My eldest son was going to come with me but got sick last minute. So, although I know that we would have had a lot of fun together I was actually really grateful that I was able to hike by myself because I had a lot to think about and needed some space to clear my head. 
Not only did I get 4 entire hiking hours to think and clear my head, but I also got a whole hour 1/2 on the car drive there and an entire hour 1/2 back to clear my head! There's no better way to clear your head than driving 85 MPH while blasting the soundtrack to Wicked that my Dad sent me years ago. (p.s. that's another goal on my list--to see the Broadway musical Wicked someday!) Oh and don't forget the 20 minutes to clear my head while standing in line for the Zion shuttle plus the 20 minutes it took to ride the shuttle to the drop-off stop for Observation Point trail head. If you're wondering at this point if my head got cleared, indeed it did. (However, it's filling back up again so I'm going to need another recharge-myself-date real soon! Mollie's Nipple next?)

This hike blew me away more than I imagined. For some reason I thought it would be just a bunch of hard switch-backs going up the side of the cliffs, but it was much more than that. This trail took me through some amazing stuff like narrow canyon walls, water pools, forests of trees, sandstone over-hangings, and beautiful view-points along the way. 

Have you ever been somewhere that is so dang beautiful that it makes you want to cry? That's what Zion does for me. And not just because my calves were burning all the way to the top. This place is truly a spectacular gift from God. I am so lucky to live so close by!


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday Surroundings- a nearby desert wash

Nearly every Sunday after church we go exploring in the beautiful surroundings of our nearby wilderness. I can't think of a better thing to do with our family on the Sabbath day than be surrounded by the natural outdoor gifts God has given us.
We live in a large valley surrounded by the most majestic red rock mountains and sandstone architectures that seem to have been sculpted by God himself. However, we learn as we explore how they were formed and continue to change- from water, wind, and natural erosion-sculpted from the creations of the earth.
Southern Utah has some of the most gorgeous and interesting geology. We are so lucky to be able to drive five minutes and be surrounded by breathtaking scenery and profound learning experiences. I don't take it for granted!

Okay, sometimes I do.
Which is why I feel it is important for me to write down these experiences, even so small as they are, to realize how much I truly love it here.
 There are some real burn-out moments in my week where I long to be surfing on my North Shore or backpacking through some foreign lands but am forced back to my reality-- being that I am a busy mama to four little boys who need me to be physically, mentally, and emotionally present, constantly.
The great thing is that they need me here in this gorgeous red rock country, here among these sandstone cliffs, and here where life is tiring and busy yet amazing and serene all at the same time.

Today Micah took us off a little path up in the red hills to explore a wash that is rarely bothered with hikers. Odin and Micah had been there once before so they knew some really cool things to show us, but otherwise It was the perfect place to set our children free and let them explore and make discoveries of their own.
Micah knows a lot about geology so he is able explain the various whys and whats and hows  of the rock formations around us. Whenever the kids have questions about rocks I direct them to their father. I took geology in college and it was one of my favorite classes but retaining technical information is not one of my strong points. However, when the kids find something pretty they run and show it to me so that makes up for it, right?
Odin found an owl pellet, which we all thought was pretty cool. At first he thought it was a dead mouse but Micah explained to him  that it was the regurgitated parts of a dead mouse! Owls can't digest all the fur bones, teeth, and claws so they absorb the good stuff then spit out the rest.
That regurgitated dead mouse pellet is now soaking in a Tupperware of water on the front porch of our house where Odin is going to try to dissolve and dismantle it and glue all the pieces of the mouse back together. Fun times.....
Owl Pellet
At the end of our 20 minute jaunt up the wash Odin and Micah showed us some super cool discoveries they'd made last time they were up here. My pictures don't do it any justice at all but here it is anyways: There was this area where you climb up a dry waterfall to find walls of thousands of small rock formations that look like tiny mosaics. Odin remarked,"Don't they look like puzzle pieces from a pretty picture?"
 The tiny shards of rock are so fragile and delicate that the slightest touch makes them crumble away. We had to be very careful not to touch the sides of the "walls" and to also keep the dogs away. That type of discovery is something you don't want to see destroyed by human hands. Odin was so proud of it and loved showing it to us. I hope these puzzle-piece-walls stay intact for years to come.

 I always love to see the trees in the wash who's roots have endured years of erosion but are still hanging on for dear life even though they are exposed, vulnerable, and about to fall off a cliff any minute. This tree below looks pretty well-established except that the sandstone beneath it is slowly crumbling away.
All in all we had a fantastic time hiking up this wash! Jonah had fun scrambling over rocks, Malachi had a blast picking up rocks and throwing them, Odin took pride in showing us cool stuff, Zadok enjoyed the scenery, and Micah and I loved being outside with our kids like we do. 
My 12 year old looking 15 with that new haircut.
It was a great day for our Sunday surroundings!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Throw pillows are for throwing?

I love having decorative throw pillows for the couch but knew that actually having them with four small boys would be a joke, so I put it off for years. However, I finally couldn't stand it any longer and made some really cute ones to match the turquoise wall! Then my mom sent me two more!
I kindly asked the boys to refrain from beating each other with them. They've been pretty good about that....yet it hasn't stopped them from finding other ridiculous uses, like the video below.
Mostly when I walk into the room they are on the ground. I can't figure out why? WHY? Why can't they just stay on the couch and look pretty? But no, the first thing my kids do when they sit down on the couch is throw the throw pillows. Go figure. 
Anyways, here's what I walked in to find the other day: 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Secondhand Saturday

I decided that I'm gonna start posting my awesome second-hand-thrift-store finds some Saturdays, starting with this couch.

I found this couch at D.I. for 60 bucks. It's a Lovesac Sactional sofa which costs about $3000 brand new. However when I found the couch I had no idea what it was or how much it was worth. It just looked like a good, cozy couch for our downstairs family room (the party room as my boys call it).
After I got home and started putting it together I noticed the Lovesac ensignia on one of the cushions. So I looked it up and voila-I had just purchased an overly-expensive sofa in mint condition for a minuscule fraction of the price! Oh how I love thrift stores!
I was telling some friends about my new couch and how one of my favorite aspects of thrift-store finds is imagining a history to behind the object.
 I mean, I don't know who owned this couch before us but I could imagine that it was sitting in a large living room of a rich couple who's children had all moved away so then they decided to sell the house, donate the furniture, and move to the Bahamas where they would be relaxing and sipping on Pina coladas in the warm sun til they died. I even found a Tootsie roll wrapper in one of the cushions that was probably left by a grandchild on their last visit to the house and therefore the last time they would sit on their grandparent's couch before they moved out of country.
My friend Danna laughed at me and then told me the real story was that the couch belonged to an old man who choked on the Tootsie roll and died so his wife got rid of the couch because it gave her nightmares. 
 I liked  my story better. :)  

I love thrift-store shopping and I love finding great deals on really cool and useful things. 
This Sactional sofa will probably be around for a long time, but if we ever donate it the story will go like this: It sat peacefully in the family room of a happy family of 6 who loved to gather on the couch to laugh, talk, watch movies, play video games, and enjoy each other's company!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Newspaper Route Tidbit

As of this past December I have a newspaper route! Yep, the good old fashioned kind where you pick up the weekly papers, take them home and roll them into baggies, and then deliver them door to door for the very meager wage of 6 cents per paper!
I wasn't ever planning it this way but life just happens.... One minute you think you are full beyond capacity and can't possibly fit in one more thing to do and next minute you have a paper route!
Okay okay, the paper route belongs to my 12 year old, but I help with it and consider it (partially) my own. He'd been wanting his own job for a long time so when an opening opened up for a carrier in our neighborhood, he jumped at the chance. 

Micah and I talked it over and decided it would be a great opportunity for him so we signed him up. He has 153 papers in his route, and delivers once a week on Wednesdays. This route makes about $36 dollars a month. It became clear that he would need another person to help him since the route covers such a large neighborhood with a lot of back and forth across streets. By himself it would take an hour and a half. With another person it takes 40-45 minutes. Luckily his little brother Odin said he'd do it with him and they could split the wages in half. Yay! Unluckily, that didn't last long as Odin decided he didn't like the paper-routing-life and resigned after 2 weeks.
That's when I took over. 

At first I was irritated, resisting the fact that I had to squeeze yet another activity into my life.  However I knew that it was more sensible for two people to cover the route, and I knew that I was the only one for the job (Micah would still be at work and the littles are too little.) I logically explained to the recently retired Odin that by quitting the paper route I would now need someone to watch the littler kids for 45 minutes while I'm gone. I explained, "You are basically trading a paid employment opportunity to stay home and babysit your brothers for free. You get this, right? This is really what you want to do?"
"Yes, mom," he replied. "I just really don't like paper routes."
Well, as it turns out, I really DO like paper routes! My resistance quickly melted away as I discovered how fun it is to walk door-to-door and toss newspapers onto people's front porches! Not only am I getting outside, getting exercise, and having fun, but I also get to spend some quality time with this cute kid: 
Rain or shine, he gets the job done!
At first we were kind of slow as we awkwardly made our way through the winding cul-de-sacs, condos, apartments, and duplexes that made up our route. But after several weeks we got it down to a science! 
Through talking and planning we have come up with faster methods to get it done under a specific amount of time. It's even exhilarating when we beat our own goals! 
For instance, during  the first month we were both tossing the papers onto the front porches and then returning to the sidewalk to walk to the next house. One day we realized that most of these people have really crappy landscaping and probably wouldn't care if we walked on their front lawns, therefore it would be much quicker to toss the paper onto the front porches then cut across the front of the yard to the next house and the next and the next... Now we have a "No sidewalks" policy to ensure faster delivery. 

We have a good time each week. We make jokes and also some pretty weird observations about the way people live.
 There's a house which has had broken windows all winter long covered up with cardboard boxes and duct tape. We wonder if the people will ever get them fixed or if having broken windows is their new (freezing cold) normal.
There is house with a repulsive, rotting, dead deer head on the front lawn. It looks like they went hunting and then tossed the head on the lawn with no forethought. We wonder if they think this is a good decoration or if there will ever be plans to remove it. 
There is a house that never brings their papers in. Week after week the papers pile up until they finally throw them all away. Then we start over again. We wonder if they can't read or if they don't have time to read or if they simply hate the local news. I don't really blame them if it's the latter--our local newspaper isn't very exciting.
There's an annoying middle-school-aged kid that always follows Zadok for several houses in a row and asks him the same annoying thing,"Hey can I ride in your cart?" He first started asking that question one day when Z was pushing the papers in a stroller. But now the kid asks him every single time even though he's not pushing the stroller anymore. Sometimes Z ignores him but sometimes Z yells at him to go away. I never see it because I'm usually on the other side of the street in the cul-de-sacs. However, If it keeps happening I'll probably have to find the kid and the parents and have a talk about harassment and being an annoying little poop...
There's one house that has a cute blue door with a lovely colorful wreath on the outside. I wonder if I met the occupants, if we could be friends, because I like colorful doors and pretty wreaths, too! I'll probably never find out.

We both hate the houses with barking dogs and the houses with trash all over the lawns.
We both like delivering at the condos because the doors are so close to each other and makes it feel like we're going super fast.

Overall, my son really likes getting the money each month and I really like spending time with my son. I also think that he enjoys this time spent with me, but like most tweenagers, he probably won't admit that for another 15 years or so.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Snowboarding Tidbit

This past November our local 4-H Club announced this amazing program where kids  (grades 3-12) and their parents could sign up to learn how to ski or snowboard for a fraction of the ski resort price. I jumped at this opportunity and signed Odin and myself up for a package that includes three full ski days at Brian head Resort, ski or board rentals, and lessons, for just $90 each! Such an awesome deal!
With Brian head being just 25 minutes away from our house I've really enjoyed getting myself up there each winter to play in the mountains. It's  such a rejuvenating, exhilarating experience to be able to get away from my day-today responsibilities for a day and just feel the pure adrenaline and excitement of my favorite snow sport. 

However, I've also been dying to get my kids up there with me because when you truly enjoy something it's natural to want to share it with your favorite little people. But so far, Odin is the only one that has showed any interest.

Our first ski day was February 3rd! Odin signed up to learn how to snowboard and I signed up to take lessons to improve my snowboarding technique (since I'm already a pretty experienced snowboarder I didn't need beginner lessons). It was so much fun heading up there with my boy! I was really hoping he could feel the excitement and energy of being on the mountain with me!

After everyone from the 4-H club arrived we split into our various lesson-groups until we met up later for lunch. The instructors took the beginners to this teeny little bunny slope where they got to ride a "magic carpet" to the top and then ride down while learning all the basics. Odin did pretty well in his lessons, but in true Odin fashion he got extremely frustrated that he didn't "get it" right away. He ended up staying on the bunny slope all day, not wanting to leave until he'd mastered how to stop his snowboard correctly. I tried to convince him that one of the fun parts of learning to snowboard is riding the ski lift to the top of the mountain and then figuring it out on the way down! Even with all the falls, fails, bumps, and bruises, it's still really fun!
He didn't buy my plan and so stayed on the bunny slope until he decided it was time to go home and call it a day. 
I am so proud of him for trying, though. Snowboarding is a really hard sport to master and he gave it his best shot. 

Meanwhile, I ended up spending my morning with one-on-one lessons from a private instructor. They didn't mean for it to happen that way but several people in my lesson-group didn't show up so I got the royal treatment.
 The instructor and I took the ski lift to the top of the mountain together so he could follow me down and watch my technique then give me any tips on improvement.
I am happy so say that I got rave reviews on my snowboarding performance. haha. He told me my technique looked great and my skill level was admirable (probably for my age and life circumstances but anywho, It was a feel good moment!)
Then he asked me if I'd like to learn how to switch-stance. This is where you switch from having your dominant foot forward to having the other foot forward and back again. It can be a lot of fun to switch back and forth between the two feet as you zoom down the slopes, even though learning would take some new mental skills.
We spent the next half-hour trying to teach me to overcome my mental blocks with not much luck. I've been a regular-foot surfer and snowboarder for the past 20+ years who never attempted much with switching my stance. It was hard for me to switch in my mind and thus tell my brain to use the appropriate muscles to make it happen. I spent a good part of the morning tumbling down the mountain with many bruises, bumps, falls, and fails along the way. But it was all part of the fun, right?

Overall we had a great time. As part of the package we also got to do a tour of the facilities and learn more about the behind-the-scenes operations of the ski-resort. Here's O and his friends listening to ski-patrol give a quick briefing on safety. 
Even though little O didn't want to go back up with me for the second ski-day on March 10th, I was proud of him for trying the first time. 
So, this past Saturday I got to go up for a full ski-day by myself (and some friends), which was glorious!
I got so many runs in that by the end of the day I was exhausted from happy over-exertion. I haven't attempted to try switching stance since that last time, but I will try again another day. Probably on a more powdery soft day and possibly with a helmet on. :)

Our next ski club day is on March 31st. I'm hoping that between now and then I can convince at least one of my kids to come back up there with me and feel the pure joy of riding the snow waves. :)

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Lacrosse Tidbit

I quit Facebook several months ago (Nov 7, 2017 to be exact) and I'm not sure how I ever managed to fit it into my life! My weekly schedule is so jam-packed with everything from exercising, to shopping, to cooking, to Relief Society visits to chauffeuring everyone to their daily activities around town that whenever I do have some "down time" I am catching up on reading or journaling. When the heck did I ever find time to do social media? I'm so glad it's out of my life because real life is full-- so very, very, very full, and time is my most precious commodity.

I've found that because life is so full I'm going to have to blog in tidbits. Every time I try to sit down and write a long blog post with many different recaps and stories of our lives, I am faced with distractions, mostly in the form of this kid:

So here's my daily tidbit before my three year old finds me and realizes I'm not talking/playing/entertaining him: 
Lacrosse season has begun for my eldest son. Last year when he first told me he was interested in joining a lacrosse team my initial reaction was,"Lacrosse?? What the heck is lacrosse?" I had never really heard of it and was wondering what attracted him to it. 
Now I know that lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in America! It was created in the 17th century by the Native Americans as a competitive sport and spiritual tradition! The benefits include cardiovascular and muscular fitness as well as mental discipline and skill development! Not to mention learning to throw a tiny ball into a tiny net that is attached to a skinny stick while running and dodging other kids. 
I love it! And I love that our son has taken such an interest in it. He's such a mellow, non-competitive kid so when I see him out on the field with all his battle gear- his padding, his helmet, his protective mouth piece, etc,  I'm still a little astonished that he picked this sport. Here he is after practice with his post-lacrosse-helmet-hair:
He has practice three times a week plus games on the weekends. Chauffeuring him around to practices is my pleasure because I love to see him thrive in something that he enjoys and feels so passionate about.
Go lacrosse season!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Home Remodel in Review

This past month my computer was in the repair shop so now I'm finally sitting down for some much-needed blogging therapy! 
For starters I've been wanting to re-cap our home remodeling experience from this past summer. This was a huge undertaking for our family! Not only did we go without a kitchen for most of the summer, but it took a lot of time, energy, and hard labor to get this done (blood, sweat, and tears! Oh lots of tears!) . The hard parts of planning, buying materials, executing the project, construction, and labor was all my husband  but I did all the painting and the kids helped with hauling debris out to the dumpster. Looking back it was somewhat of a nightmarish experience, yet I'm so grateful we got this done!

It was a couple years ago my husband and I decided we wanted to make our upstairs living space bigger by removing the wall separating the living room from the front bedroom and turning that bedroom into a dining room. Our vision was to have a dining room that was open and accessible from both the kitchen and living room allowing for more flow and move-ability between each room, while also creating a larger space for our family to come together for meals. 
Our remodeling plans included:
1. Knocking down the wall between the living room and front bedroom.
2. Removing the closet and the wall space adjacent to the kitchen from that bedroom.
3. Removing some wall space separating the kitchen from the hallway to allow the kitchen to flow into the front bedroom (now dining room).
4. Ripping out the carpet from the front bedroom and hallway.
5. Removing all the old, ugly, white kitchen cabinets and replacing them with brand new cabinets.
6. Replacing the linoleum flooring and carpet with new, wood flooring that will flow from the kitchen to the hallway and dining room.
7. Replacing the upstairs bathroom linoleum with the same wood flooring.
8. Installing a dishwasher among-st the new cabinets.
9. Painting the dining room, kitchen, and hallway.

At first I was hesitant to start these plans because I don't always welcome change right away. I need time to mull things over and make sure I am ready to accept the differences it will make in my life and in my home. For instance I loved my squash-yellow wall so much that I knew I would be sad to see it go. It was the first wall in our house that I painted back in 2014 when we bought the home. I remember feeling so happy and excited that we finally had our very own home where I could paint the walls ANY color I wanted! I was SO proud of my squashy wall. 
 Yet, of course, I realized that the overall rewards of having brand new cabinets, new flooring, and more living space out-won the emotional nostalgia for my squash-yellow wall. 

Goodbye my squash-yellow wall. 
My second reason for being hesitant about remodeling our home is that I like to keep things simple. If something is working for me then I don't see any need to spend the time, energy, money, and not to mention all the stress to change it. Despite the kitchen being really old, ugly, cramped, and full of old lady flair- the kitchen was working for us. We could cook meals, wash dishes, and sit at a table to eat. 
Isn't this enough? 
I mean, there's people all over the world who don't have money to buy their next meal, let alone a kitchen table to sit at, so why did I need a brand new kitchen and dining room?
At the time, remodeling our home seemed self-serving and superfluous. I felt like we could expend ourselves, our time, and our money, in much more meaningful ways than making our house different.

Yet, as the plans began to unfold, I started to feel differently about it.  
I learned along the way that remodeling a home is deeply rewarding in so many ways.
 After all, a home is a sacred space especially when you are raising small children.
 The time and energy you put into making it better is time and energy you are spending to create a beautiful place where love and growth and learning happens. It not only becomes more functional but also becomes a meaningful place to build memories and relationships. 
The tireless work my husband put into remodeling our home represents his willingness to sacrifice for our family. I look around at the incredible work he did and feel so grateful for his love and commitment to me and our children.
The planning and organizing we did as couple made us stronger, however hard and frustrating it was at the time. I had never remodeled a home in my life and found that the process of picking out cabinets and designing a kitchen plan was like learning Greek to me. I kinda hated it but am grateful for the experience.
Our boys got to help a lot with the cleaning and removing of debris. We rented one of those huge dumpsters that sat in the front of our home for several weeks. Our boys had fun hauling out old carpet, wood, plaster, and nails, and tossing them into the giant trash pit. 
I believe they learned strong work ethic and what it takes to get a job done, from A to Z.

I learned to have patience for good things to come. I admit it was REALLY hard to not have a kitchen most of the summer, although it was like camping in a lot of ways, too. We used a lot of paper plates and utilized the backyard for eating and cooking. On this particular evening I plugged the waffle maker into the backyard socket and we had waffles for dinner. 
I also developed a pretty good system for getting the dishes done without a kitchen sink.
I put an 18 gallon bucket in the backyard where we tossed our dirty dishes throughout the day. Then at about twilight each evening I would dump all the dishes out on to the grass and hose them down with the blasting option on the hose adapter. Next I'd sit in a lawn chair with my back hunched over and scrub each dish with dish soap and a sponge, then toss it into another pile full of soapy dishes.
The boys would take turns hosing the dishes clean and stacking them on a dish drainer. The dishes would dry overnight and we'd put them away sometime the next day.
I did this every night for weeks, blasting reggae music every evening while I worked, while the kids ran and played around the yard. 

Here's some photos I took that show the progression of our remodel:
In this photo it shows where Micah knocked out part of the wall separating the hallway from the kitchen.
Below is a photo of the yellow-squash wall completely removed, allowing the living room and future dining room to be connected. 
Here is Micah is plastering the arch separating the dining room and living room. Instead of removing the entire wall structure, we decided to leave an arch between the dining room and living room, to help define the two rooms. 
Here's a shot of me painting the new dining room! We picked out a dark, apple-green from Jones Paint & Glass  that we really love!
Painting is a lot of hard work, but for some reason I really enjoy doing it. I love watching the transformation unfold from something less desirable into something beautiful. I like bright, bold colors that bring out feelings of happiness and excitement for living. 
Zadok kept busy collecting all of my discarded painter's tape and turning them into temporary shoes for himself. 
Almost finished!
Now to gut the kitchen. I was happy to see those old white cabinets go bye bye. Turns out that underneath them all was a lovely collection old mice droppings. Blech!
Getting ready to paint the kitchen. I found a 5 gallons of a beautiful sage-green in the ooops! section of Jones Paint & Glass. It was the perfect color and perfect amount for the kitchen. I painted for hours one night while listening to "This American Life" podcasts on NPR. 
I don't have a lot more photos of the progress, so I'll just jump to the finish! 
Here's our completed kitchen looking east:
Here's the view looking west. So much more counter space!
Here's the view from the dining room into the living room. I'm happy to say that all 6 of us can now sit at the dining room table together at one time!
I painted the wall in the living room turquoise as a finishing touch to our new look. It really brightened up the room and also matches the west side of the arch separating the two rooms. 

I also painted the back of our front door with chalkboard paint. I love that the kids can color on it whenever they want to and there's new artwork to enjoy almost daily! Odin drew this lovely rooster below. 
I've been making decorations out of drift wood from the local river and glass beads. Ya'll must know by now how much I love my rainbows!
Speaking of rainbows, I hang a lot of my kid's artwork around the house. Here Odin drew this owl and Jonah drew this penguin below, on separate days and in separate classes at school. I think it's funny that they both drew large birds surrounded by color. 

Here's another one of my dangly driftwood creations. This particular driftwood is from Cobble Beach in Oregon. 

And this marks the end of my Home remodel in review. When I think of our home remodel I am filled with gratitude. --Gratitude for my husband for working so hard, gratitude to have the means to make it happen, gratitude for having a beautiful place to call home, gratitude for our first-ever dishwasher(Life-changing!) and gratitude that I can learn so much from life's meaningful  experiences. 
Owning a home has taught me so much and will continue to teach me more, I'm sure.