Kitchen

Over the last 13 years of living in our house, we have been really fortunate to host a lot of family gatherings. A lot. And it makes my heart so happy. It is important for my mom’s side especially to have a large space. Both inside and outside of the house. Why is space so important? Well, on my mom’s side of the family there were 8 total kids. Eight. And then you add in spouses and kids and you have a whole lot of noise. And awesome, amazing noise.

So when we were looking into updating our kitchen, we wanted it to be a space where people feel comfortable coming in and being together. No matter the noise level. The kitchen has become a place where people come in the front door and stay because that’s where the food is being served. We just needed a better set up for when these crazy awesome people come. There was a lot of planning to make sure we maximized our space to the max.

We are so proud of what we were able to accomplish with the budget we set for ourselves.

Without further ado, this is what now welcomes you into the schoolhouse.

Our kitchen isn’t large, but we can fit a whole lot of life into this space. Every inch of our kitchen storage is utilized to store every day dishes, baking items, food, food storage, and party supplies.

We can’t wait until our family comes back over for a celebration!

Kitchen Dreams

It is the spring of 2008 and we are walking through the house that we would fortunately have the winning bid. Not only were we excited for starting our lives together, we were excited to start our lives in a house that we could truly put our stamp on.

Thirteen years later I realize just how naive this soon to be bride was with the schoolhouse that was dirt cheap. There was a reason we won the bid on that warm April afternoon; the other bidders saw we didn’t want to purchase to flip. Rather, we wanted this place so we could create our first home. Together.

Over the next decade we would eventually touch every inch of this house. New doors, paint in every room, a new master bedroom suite, and flooring throughout the entire house. We have learned a lot about how we can take care of a space and give it life, but we also learned how this space can give us life.

When we first walked through the door we were greeted by a very sad looking room where there were cabinets hanging on the wall, a shallow sink, and a nook that eluded it was intended for a refrigerator to be placed in the empty spot. It looked very dirty, but the 60 year old shallow cabinets were in good condition. Paint was going to be our friend mostly because it was all our newlywed budget could afford.

For 13 years we lived with white cabinets that I painted during our first summer in our new home. The countertop was also replaced with an inexpensive laminate countertop within the first month of home ownership. And I was ok with it all. Until I wasn’t. It was time for a grown up kitchen that reflected where we were in our lives. We were now a family of four attempting to make a slapped together kitchen work for our needs. We could feel the growing pains.

It took us a few months to really think what we wanted to include in our kitchen and then a year to save up for these much needed improvements. This was going to be a big investment and we wanted to make sure we got it right. That’s when Cabinet Joint entered in from stage right. Below are the renderings they created for us.

After seeing these images we were both very excited about what was to come for our space! An important piece to note is the cabinets we ordered were ready to assemble (RTA). After they were delivered and unloaded in our carport, we hauled them to the family room where we had a few hours worth of time where to assemble them. Thankfully during this process our kids were old enough to be helpful and understand when certain tasks were considered “mommy/daddy jobs”. Helping with gluing was great. Not so much when it came to nailing.

While we diligently assembled the cabinets, we had our narrow porthole of a window replaced with a much larger window. Knowing the location of the sink would move under the window, I wanted to be able to look out without needing to use a step stool to see our kids playing outside. I am so thankful for this new view of our yard. It has really proven itself to be a gorgeous view for a lot of reasons!

During the day it’s fun to see the kids climbing in and out of their playhouse and at night you can see the glow of our cafe lights on the old chicken shed. Who knew an investment in a window could provide one such a unique outlook on their life?

It took us about a week of evening building sessions to assemble all of our cabinets. We really did have quite the family assembly line going on! At this point in the project we were in full motion of school and didn’t have time to do all of the work ourselves. We are old enough now and have done enough ourselves to be ok to call a professional in to help. This time the professional we called is a good friend of Adam’s from his college years. For all locals reading, be sure to call Nickel Construction. Tells bad jokes and can find a stud real good!

With a bit of help from Adam, Kenton insulated our kitchen and hung the cabinets. The millwork that was done was truly icing on the cake. Elevating our humble country kitchen to a kitchen I only dreamed of for the last decade. Coming home from school that first day to the smell of new cabinets was more exciting than it should have been. For 13 years, the old cabinets carried such a musty smell that on a humid day gave off the odor of a musty hotel room. Now we have a kitchen that when it’s cleaned not only looks clean, but smells and feels clean.

In addition to carefully choosing a layout and cabinets that would offer the most storage in our quaint kitchen, we discovered we could build in an insert to hold my beloved Kitchen Aide mixer. This wedding gift given to us by our grandmas was lifted from the top of the pantry every time we wanted to use this renaissance kitchen tool. Doing this was fine for Adam to do because of his height, but for someone of my vertical impair-ness it was a task I could use when I began the journey of ninja warrior. As I slid it from this shelf over head, I prayed every time the appliance wouldn’t hit me in my mouth and then drop of my pathetically sensitive toes.

Overall, it took us a few more weeks to accomplish the tiling and countertop installation. We are so happy with the outcome! We feel we were able to accomplish everything we wanted for this little space.

But I didn’t show you any pictures of the completed kitchen, did I? This is a space that we have thoroughly enjoyed making meals for our family over the last 9 months. Tomorrow I’m going to share those pictures!

March 18

It was just yesterday we heard our governor shut down the idea of a traditional school setting.  I am not at all upset with Laura Kelly; I can’t imagine the process.

Since the announcement I was feeling all kinds of emotions. Some of them that were leading me down a dark hole.  It wasn’t until I had a conversation with Carmen I found hope in the situation teachers across Kansas will feel in the coming months.

In the next coming days I will meet with my colleagues to discuss how we are going to finish the school year with our kids.  We will make sure our year finishes as strong as it can.

I don’t know what that plan is, but I am ready to fight for my kids.

House Updates

When we first moved into the building we now call our home, we instantly took inventory of the projects we wanted to do. It was a long list and there wasn’t much money for them. Fast forward almost 12 years and we the majority of these projects done.

But I am still feeling a restlessness. And I’m trying to understand why.

My style has changed over the years, but also has my understanding that good decisions take time. Decisions need time to incubate and I don’t necessarily have the patience for it. This often makes me even more frustrated because I haven’t processed enough.

My challenge for myself is to think and research through the projects I want to do.

How do you exercise this process?

This past weekend the time change went into effect and it kicked my tooshie today. I felt sluggish and my brain was definitely not firing on all cylinders until mid morning. By the end of the day I was somewhat back to normal and was able to cross a few things off of my list. Whew!

This evening was fun. It was just plain fun. Tonight was a fundraiser for our local high school after prom. So that meant a night off from cooking and a trip to Freddy’s.

Eating out with the kids is quite the adventure at this stage. Tonight was no exception.

While we were in town, we went by the mattress store to look at mattresses for the kids.

You read that right. We are preparing our kids to transition from their crib.

In talking with others, I’ve realized we may be a little late to the game. But, in my defense, they haven’t had any interest in climbing out of their cribs. So it hasn’t hit me until recently this transition might be needed.

While we didn’t buy mattresses tonight, when we got home we finalized our Target order for kids’ sheets. I can’t wait to get them. They are so cute!

Walks and Strawberries

I was finally able to go on a walk with a dear friend. It had been a while since we had seen each other and it felt like there was a lot to get caught up on. We spent about 40 minutes walking our small town streets talking about school and life.

Every few weeks a truck comes with fresh fruit. Sometimes it’s oranges, sometimes it’s apples, etc. but the fruit is typically drool worthy. Today’s load of strawberries was no exception. Gabby are a pint by herself and I, who is extremely picky when it comes to fruit, couldn’t get enough!

Lights

Usually after a passing of a loved one, it isn’t uncommon for that person to visit me in my dreams. And it wasn’t until recently I realized I haven’t seen my uncle Craig.

Then just last night a light went out in our family room. Nothing too unusual. Just one of those moments where you think “dang. Now I need to get out the ladder.”

Fast forward to tonight when not only did our hall light burn out, but within an hour one of the under cabinet lights burned out.

And it made me ask the question out loud:

“Craig, are you here?”

Gabby

We chose our daughter’s name because Gabriella in the Hebrew translation means “God is my strength”.  But knowing how long her name would be, we immediately called her “Gabby”.

Little would we know, our sweet baby girl would live up to her nickname “Gabby”.

In the weeks after my uncle’s passing, we have all been going through pictures or videos, holding on tight hearing his voice or simply seeing his smiling face.  It’s becoming a hard reality to understand he is truly gone.

So this morning when my aunt e-mailed us a video of baby Gabby and my uncle, it became an instant treasure.

I present to you Baby Gabby and Uncle Craig:

Psalm 139

“For You shaped me, inside and out.  You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath.”

 

After our first miscarriage, I was laying in bed attempting to find sleep and struggling with our loss when a voice in my head said as clear as day “He is coming.”  At first it was as though someone was leaning over me and whispered it directly in my ear.  Initially I thought Adam had come into the room, but a quick glance showed he was in another room.  I have always wanted to believe the Holy Spirit was true.  This piece of theology was taught from a young age that as Christians we believe not only in the Father and the Son, but also the Holy Spirit.  In my lowest of lows a message of hope and truth was delivered.  For the next five years I would hold on to this nugget.  I knew our son was coming; I trusted.  And at times I doubted.  But I trusted and I kept holding on to this truth and I needed to be ready for when he did come.  I didn’t know how, I didn’t know when, but he was on his way.  Never would I have thought our son would also bring his sister.  But that’s the magnitude of God’s love.  It was because I wanted to be prepared I continued to dream of the moment our son would be home.  Preparation of our home was always on my mind, but preparation of our hearts kept both Adam and I living with our eyes open for his arrival.

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And then, Jake and Gabby were here coming through the gift of adoption.  Arriving three months after we saw their profile and felt a stirring in our heart we became their mommy and daddy.  Two different cultures, ethnicities, and worlds began the work of becoming a family.  God wasn’t just forming Jake and Gabby; he was forming two families’ hearts.

The following day after Jake and Gabby were born, it became very apparent there was  major concern with Jake’s feedings.  He had been moved to Olathe’s NICU floor for more observation.  At this time, we were at the hospital, but parenteal care was not turned over to us yet.  The kids’ birth mom was staying one more night and were sharing care.  This meant we took shifts with Gabby in our room and then taking turns being with Jake on the floor down below.  Adam and I desperately wanted to be sure our birth mom felt respected.

We were concerned, but at this point were too naive to be really scared.

“For You shaped me, inside and out.”

An NG tube was placed to insure Jake could feed safely.  Every time he would be fed with a bottle, he would spit it up with it going through his nose and out of his mouth.  Something was definitely wrong, but it wouldn’t become clear until more extensive tests could be run.

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We found refuge in the nursing staff as they took care of Jake, but we were becoming frustrated with the molasses speed it seemed was being taken in figuring out Jake’s mystery.  Not having ever been sick or actually in need of medical attention other than yearly check ups, we were quick to put our complete trust in the doctors.  But it became very evident we needed to be Jake’s health advocates.  And the sooner we figured out how to do this, the better off Jake’s care would be.

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That last sentence may seem like it has a strong tone to it.  But until you have a had a child with medical needs, you won’t understand how limited a doctor’s time is.  And unfortunately the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

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The twins were born on a Tuesday and by the next Monday morning we still didn’t have answers as to what was going on.  It was Monday morning where Jake became upset and pulled out his NG tube causing the end of the tube to come out in his mouth.  An uncomfortable sight for anyone, but an alarming sight for us prompting us to push hard for answers.  We were tired of hearing our doctor say that Jake “calls the shots.  He runs the show.”  We were confident we knew what show Jake was running, but we didn’t think he was getting the shots he deserved.  Thank God the right team was in place that morning that allowed action to be taken to work on getting us moved to Overland Park regional.

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Overland Park’s transport team arrived late morning.  We were informed to not follow the ambulance in case they had to turn on the lights.

Turn on the lights?!  Why would they need to turn on the lights?!  Is our son more fragile than we thought??

The medical team quickly assured us there are times when the lights need to be turned on for a variety of reasons, not necessarily because our son required immediate medical attention.  I will be forever indebted to this transport team.  They took the time to calm my nerves and answer any question I had.  I did my best to not look to hard at all of the control, air valves, and connections the incubator had as they placed our two day old son in it.  I trusted them.  I had to.

We ended up staying at the hospital for another hour or so to eat lunch and then take Gabby to her first check up.  Both Adam and I were stressed, but quickly found some reprieve when our sweet daughter peed all over the doctor’s bed when we undressed her for her weight check.  We needed to laugh or we were going to cry.

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After we found our way to Overland Park Medical and to our son’s room, we were met by the doctor we had at Olathe explaining we were now in a place that could explore more what Jake needed to help him with his feedings.  I found myself sitting there hearing what the doctor was saying, but feeling numb.  Why was this happening?  His twin sister was born healthy?  What does this mean for our little guy?

During our stay we were absolutely loved with meals provided by loved ones.  The first evening we were there our friends Brooke and Andrew brought supper to the hospital cafeteria.  The fellowship they provided was much needed after a very stressful day and for them to listen to us as we word vomited all over them was the best support they could have given us.

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Over the next few weeks we would be gifted meals through a dear church friend (she even brought Joe’s for us!), family in the Kansas City area, and former classmates from high school and college days.  They didn’t need to say anything.  The fellowship was a gift in and of itself to keep us grounded.

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During his stay, Jake was visited by a telegeneticist based in Arkansas.  This particular geneticist visited Jake by way of screen time hence “tele”geneticist.  He literally rolled into Jake’s room and could zoom the camera into measure the different parts of Jake’s body; the distance between his eyes, length of fingers and toes, etc.  It was fascinating to watch him.  We would eventually learn that Jake had no known syndromes or disorders that was causing him to not swallow.

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Twelve days into his time in the NICU it was determined Jake would have a g-tube placed in his abdomen that would enable him to feed.  It would be another week of learning how to use the pump, measure his feedings, and working on increasing his feeds before we were allowed to go home.  We would still not receive answers why our son was not swallowing.

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We were in the hospital for twelve days.  I wanted to bring our newest members of our family home to share their gift with friends and family so badly.  I was incredibly frustrated when my plan wasn’t coming to fruition.  It wasn’t fair.  Sounds really mature, doesn’t it?  But it was while grabbing a quick snack from the parent’s room (a sacred place for sure), my reality was put in its place.  A dad of a newborn was in the room washing his wife’s breast pump.  After a bit of warm chattering he told me they had been there since the beginning of September and would be leaving until their child’s due date.  In December.

Our son’s lungs were fully developed.  Our son could regulate his own body temperature.  Our son’s heart was healthy.

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After this interaction, I found myself much more patient with our timeline.  God is good.  God was (and is) protecting Jake and blessing the hands of those who are caring for him.  I had to let them do their job.  We would be coming home soon.

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October 4, 2017.  Our family’s homecoming.

Three weeks of Jake and Gabby.

They were finally coming home.

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“You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath.”

Since his time in the NICU, Jake has had a full gamut of doctor’s appointments to figure out why he is still not swallowing.  We’re getting closer to answers, but this has been truly a journey of learning, advocating, and loving on them.

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Disc Golf Partners

The weather this summer has lent itself to some great games of disc golf. Typically Adam plays with friends, but in a few months he’ll be playing with two new partners.

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Adam and I are so excited to announce that our twins, yes TWINS, will be making their appearance in September! We can’t wait to meet our sweet baby boy and baby girl!

As you might imagine we are over the moon to meet them and can’t wait to share their journey with you!

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers as we have journeyed toward parenthood.  We have felt incredibly humbled by your thoughts over the past five years!