Friday, December 15, 2017

It's Gonna Be A Baby!

We are just so absolutely thrilled to become parents next spring. After waiting and praying for three and a half years, this little baby just feels like the perfect gift in our lives.

In early November, at 20 weeks, we had our first ultrasound and found out baby is a....

...little girl! Can you believe it?! I'm gonna be a girl momma!

I was so overwhelmed with joy that morning we went for our ultrasound. It just was such a special and relaxing time for me to see her move around on the screen, see her toes and little feet, her profile. She is such an active little one. Every time the ultrasound tech would move the wand near her face, she would reach her hand up to it. It was just simply amazing to see! I really will cherish that day, probably forever.

Knowing it was a girl, there was no question as to deciding on a name. We had a girl name ready to go. I had struggled more with boy names, and even finalizing middle names, but for baby girl, there was nothing that felt more right.

Little miss Violet Caroline is on her way!

The name Violet, doesn't really mean much of anything. Look it up and it just says something like "purple" or refers to a violet flower. However, a violet flower does mean something special. As a flower, it symbolizes watchfulness, loyalty, and faithfulness. The violet is the birth flower of February (which is special to our family because my husband, mother, and mother in law are all born in February). A posy of violets signifies that your thoughts are pure and desires are of the eternal kind. Violet was most popular 100 years ago (1898-1924) and is back on the rise again (2015- ).

I just love it. It's feminine, a strong name for a first-born child, unique for today's culture, but a name that's been around before. It's not gender-neutral, so you know right away it's a girl, and easy to spell. You also can't shorten it much, or give her a nickname, which was important to us because neither one of us go by shortened versions of our names.

(Side note, I found out later that my maternal grandmother had an aunt name Violet. Which sounds about right, since floral names were popular around the turn of the century. So our baby's great-great aunt was also named Violet. Neat!)

For a middle name, we chose Caroline. It means "joy" and "song of happiness". It's the feminine form of Charles, and a timeless name that has managed to remain in the top 100 since 1994. It evokes both elegance and a touch of monarchy.

Again, I just love this name. We had already decided on it before I realized it's meaning of joy and happiness, and now it just makes me love it even more. This baby has been just such a joy in this time of moving and starting a new chapter of our lives in a new city. Caroline as a name feels very regal and elegant to me, princessy, and I want our daughter to know how much she is a daughter of the King, our God.

Just for fun, here are some famous Violet's you might have heard of...
- Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Violet Parr in Disney's The Incredibles
- Viola in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night
- Violet from the Peanuts comic strip

And some famous Caroline's...
- First Lady Caroline Harrison
- Caroline Bingley in Pride and Prejudice
- Caroline Kennedy, part of the famous Kennedy family, who inspired the 1969 Neil Diamond hit "Sweet Caroline"

There are more, but those are just a fun few. :) We shared our baby name reveal when we shared the gender with friends and family, and it was all through text message. I wanted people to have their own time to process the name and gender privately, without an immediate reaction on a phone call. Plus, we shared our pregnancy news via phone call, and so I was exhausted from all that talking two months prior. lol

At school, Daniel did a fun slideshow with his students with all their name guesses (Carter was the top boy name and Abigail was the top girl name suggestion, with the gender split 50/50 on what we were having). And the kids went wild for it! They really loved being apart of our special celebration. Only one girl guessed the name Violet, and so she was so excited to be correct.

I baked up some cupcakes for Daniel's co-workers with pink and purple frosting to help share the news as well. It was special getting to share our joy with others.

Now, it's just time to decorate the nursery and get started on her baby quilt! I just love knowing the baby's gender and being able to call her by name. I love hearing her name spoken by other people as well. My mom can't stop talking about baby Violet, and we call her by her name at home. She is growing and moving so much.

In the midst of all the to-do's (both for baby and for house), I just know I can't wait to meet her and hold her next March. She has already brought so much joy and happiness.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Our Big Kitchen Renovation: Part 1 (Demo, Flooring, & Cabinets)

When we bought our home in August, we knew we had some extensive home repair/construction projects to tackle right away. We also knew we'd be living through most of it. Thank goodness we don't have any toddlers or small kids running around. I honestly have no idea how parents do kids + renovation!

Among other big house jobs, we had to completely gut the kitchen. Here's a peek into all that went down September through November in the kitchen. Once we're completely done (fingers crossed for January..?), I'll share photos and a "Part 2" posting.

"Before" Kitchen (June 23rd)

"Before" Kitchen (June 23rd)
Here are two "before" photos of the kitchen for you. Looks great, right? Well, sadly, when we removed the tile flooring we saw how badly this kitchen needed a major overhaul.

Around the whole perimeter of the kitchen, about 6" of drywall was moldy (some areas, higher than 6" from the ground), and needed to be replaced. This was due to some under-the-house/subfloor issues, which we had fixed by a license contractor in August/September.

**Before I go further, I promise you we knew about all the issues this house had before we bought it. Our home inspector did a fantastic job of informing us and we asked a ton of questions and did research on our own. Had this not been our second time buying a home, I would've been terrified. lol But, suffice it to say, we had a few house projects under our belt before buying this one.

Daniel removing tile flooring. So messy and dusty! (August 19th)
Back to the kitchen, the cabinets were made of particle board and just totally did not stand the test of time. It took Daniel a while, but he was able to unscrew and haul out all the old cabinets. Shame Chip Gaines wasn't available to help with this demo. ;) My husband removed tile flooring in conjunction with removing cabinets. It was just a hot mess in there for a while. Old laminate counters also got ripped out. I got over-eager about appliances and ordered my kitchen suite in August. Oops! So, here's a great shot of my new fridge that floated between rooms as we worked.

Removing original cabinets, some counters, and tile floor. New fridge delivery. (August 20th)

Here's a great shot of the kitchen with pretty much everything removed. No cabinets, appliances, counters, floors. You can see where Daniel cut back a lot of drywall and would later patch with new stuff. About middle of the photo, near where the broom is propped up, we had to patch in new plywood subfloor sheets to replace soft, water damaged ones. 

Fully gutted kitchen. (September 4th)
Once all the bad was cleared out, we could start laying our pine hardwood flooring. Victory! I don't have photos from that time because we were rushing to finish the job and return the floor nailer and sander rentals to Home Depot. But, once pine flooring was nailed down (which first came a layer of 3/4" subfloor, and then two different moisture barriers), we could stain and seal. It was a very messy and smelly job, so we stayed two nights in a hotel to get away from the fumes.

Once mid-October hit, we were ready to start building cabinets! You can see in this panorama shot below, that we built the sink basin cabinet (the thing under the blue thing), two lower 36" cabinets (left and right), and an 18" pull-out trash bin cabinet (far right).

Lower cabinet building! (October 31st)
There were so many reasons why we chose to build our own cabinets, but honestly, I was surprised how easy it was. We followed Ana White's plans for kitchen cabinet carcasses. It was great to customize our sizes and the layout, but also we got such satisfaction knowing that we were building a solid product that is going to last. No more crumbly particle board for us! Hello solid plywood!

In November, we were able to add sheets of beadboard to the sink-side walls as our "backsplash". Ask me how much Daniel loved hated doing tile backsplash at our old house right before we sold it. Yeah. The beadboard is a great alternative for us to tile and gives it a different "look" than the white subway tile that's hot right now. I think it also helps give off the country farm vibe I'm going for.

You'll also notice in this photo that we've got the two corner cabinets built and installed, and the sink (with it's blue protective film) set and dishwasher to the right of it. Starting to come together!

Kitchen cabinet carcasses built and ready for countertops! (December 1st)
So there you have it! That's been our kitchen story so far. We're now ready for countertops, sink and dishwasher install, and cabinets on the fridge/stove side. I'll keep you posted with a Part 2, and then a final reveal!

Who's excited for a new kitchen for Christmas? This girl! Cheers!

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

"My Teacher is Having a Baby" Printable

It's been so incredibly sweet, how excited Daniel's students have been to hear that we are having our first baby. I honestly feel like a local celebrity. Kids really do say the sweetest things, even at the middle school age (11 and 12 yr olds).

One girl got so excited for the news, that she started exclaiming, "I'm going to have a cousin!", meaning our baby. Isn't that precious?

Another girl heard through the grapevine and guessed on her own about the baby, and wanted to be the one to share with the class. Well, alongside doing her classwork, she began to color little bits of torn up paper, pink and blue. This was to be used as confetti when at the end of the class period, she got to announce we were having a baby. I honestly wish I was there to see that. The story makes me laugh every time. I can just picture the confetti falling to the ground. Ha!

Everyone here at Daniel's new school has been so excited for us. Teachers, faculty, students, parents. It's unreal. I feel as much love and support as I think I would have felt from my office of 5+ years, back when we were in Orlando.

In any case, the kids are dying to know if baby is a boy or girl. And they've already come up with a zillion names to name it. Daniel and I put our heads together, and decided, why not make it an official vote?

So, I searched around Pinterest for ideas on how to share baby news with students (aka "my teacher's having a baby" printables). There are TONS of ideas for elementary school teachers! Tons! Super cute ideas, but nothing appropriate for older students. And nothing super dude-friendly for a male teacher. (C'mon, it can be cute, but not over-the-top!) I was bummed. I still want to involve the students, so I created my own printable instructions and tied some ribbon around two glass jars I got at Walmart. Done!

I honestly can't wait to hear the name suggestions. And I'm eager to see which gender gets more votes.

Here's the printable if you'd like to use it yourself. Have fun!
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