The Transformation of our Family Room

We finally finished our family room after four months of extensive remodeling (alliteration not intended)! It was a ton of work and we’re hoping the rest of the rooms will not be quite as time consuming. This is what it looked like before we moved in:

Yes, that is a jet black wall…
…And a dark brown wall…
…And a salmon colored wall…yep, 3 different colors

Since I’m a southern California girl at heart and grew up 15 minutes from the ocean, we decided to go with a coastal theme for our home so I can trick myself into thinking I’m warm up here in freezing northern California 🙂 I’ll give you one point for detecting each aspect of the room we changed in this first picture of what it looks like now…kinda like the game “I spy.” There may or may not be a prize for the winner 😉

Sean installed all three of those wall lights himself (one on the left, two on the right), and connected them to the switch so we wouldn’t need lamps. We also painted the room blue, but that’s pretty obvious.
See that awesome crown molding up top?? Sean did that too (with some help from our brother-in-law, Jake)
Does the fireplace/mantle look different to you from the original photos? It should. We (tediously) painted it because we hated the red brick. We painted the brick white, and the mantle/mortar beige. A much more coastal look.
First TV we’ve ever bought, got a great deal on Amazon
First couch we’ve ever bought new – so thankful we didn’t need to spend hours and hours cleaning pet hair off it after we got it (like every time in the past)! It fits perfectly and maximizes seating in the room.
Put up some bird decals to seal the deal on the beach theme
We swapped out the ugly black curtain for some nice white blinds
We just attended a parenting class at our church last week, and one of the speaker’s suggestions for keeping our kids God-focused was to put up visual reminders around our home of our faith. I can’t think of a better way to do that than to put Bible verses in each room! We chose this verse for our family room because both adults and children need constant reminding of this truth 🙂
We don’t have cable and when we (rarely) watch TV, we watch it via hulu on our computer. You can see all the electronics Sean hooked up on the second-to-bottom shelf. It was actually a lot of effort to get everything working correctly between the computer and TV (we ran into a lot of obstacles).
We will eventually build a fire pit in our backyard so we decided not to use our family room fireplace for fires. Instead, we decorated it to go along with our beach theme. Driftwood, sand, shells, and candles to set the mood 🙂 Before you start envisioning toddlers throwing sand in each other’s eyes and all over the room, Sean installed plexiglass in front of the fireplace with a latch that locks. Good thing Grammie Christie and Auntie Allison gave Caleb a toy with six different latches on it (including the one Sean put on the fireplace), so he can practice unlocking it :/
Got two matching cream-colored bookshelves (also on amazon)
A sand-looking rug to go with our theme, cottage style coffee table, keyboard/mouse to operate the TV, and of course, gotta have the board games for those crazy nights of competition with family/friends
We really like decorating with photos because it makes our home feel cozy and personal to us. The left frame has our Christmas 2011 photo, the middle frame is the signature frame from our wedding with an engagement photo, and the right frame has a photo of Caleb from the wedding we just went to a couple weeks ago.

Whew! That was a lot…the only two things in the room left untouched were the ceiling and flooring. It’s such a great feeling to post this on our blog because it solidifies that we are actually done (done!) with this room!! Yeah!!! Oh and here’s a link to Caleb’s completed nursery if you haven’t seen it. Now onto the guest room…

When Life Gets Hard: Little Daisy Merrick

For whatever reason, a number of family and friends have been going through rough times recently with physical health issues (concussion, stroke, difficult pregnancies, babies with complications), so it’s been on my mind a lot lately. You may have noticed it’s been on my mind since I’ve recently blogged twice about the topic (baby Katie Beth and Allison/Ashley), and I guess God wanted me to camp out on the subject a little longer because as of Saturday, I am sick again for the third time in three months, in addition to messing up my ankle, knee, and toe a month ago. I’m not one to get angry with God or question Him and his reasons for things (it’s just not my natural inclination), but it does make me sad that so many wonderful people are dealing with such hardships right now.

As I’ve been thinking about and praying for these people, God reminded me of Daisy Merrick and her family. From 2003-2007 I attended college at UCSB, and while there, I went to a church called Reality Carpinteria. It is a wonderful church with a God-fearing pastor, Britt Merrick. After I graduated, I stayed connected to friends who still live in Santa Barbara and attend Reality Carp, and I heard a couple of years back that Britt’s 5-year-old daughter, Daisy, had cancer. Since then, I have followed her blog off and on, and have been in prayer for her and the Merrick family. I hadn’t checked the blog in a while with all the craziness of our lives this last year, so I checked it again a few days ago. After two bouts with this cancer, the latest update posted four months ago says she is cancer free! Praise God! There have been so many people praying for this little girl around the world, and she is living proof that prayer is powerful and effective.

I posted below a poignant short video of her journey with cancer (the first time around, I believe). I also posted two longer videos (40 minutes each), which are worth watching if you have the time. They are two sermons by Britt about his reaction to Daisy’s cancer (and hard times in general), and they are very powerful and encouraging (particularly if you are dealing with something difficult right now). I hope these videos speak to your heart like they did mine:

Update- This post is out of date now; if you are looking for recent information on Daisy, click here: Daisy Merrick Updates

Daisy from Reality on Vimeo.

When My Heart Is Overwhelmed from Reality on Vimeo.

Britt Merrick – Struck Down But Not Destroyed from Reality on Vimeo.

Allison & Ashley: Two of my Heroes after Pregnancy

If you’ve been following my pregnancy series, you know my pregnancy with Caleb was challenging. I was very sick and in a lot of pain, but through the experience, God really taught me a lot. I have always led a healthy, and for the most part, physically pain-free life. This is something I have always taken for granted because I never knew otherwise, until my pregnancy. I understand now how incredibly difficult physical disability can be, and how thankful I should be for the good health God has given me. God’s heart is that we would be joyful in every circumstance (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), and through my encounter with physical pain, he revealed it’s an area I have plenty of room to grow in.

An additional way the Lord grew me through my condition called pregnancy, was in granting me a deeper love and respect for people who have ongoing physical challenges. It was a theme I meditated on a great deal during my pregnancy, and am currently meditating on again as I re-live my pregnancy via this blog. Specifically, there are two people God has continually brought to mind who I want to tell you about. I love them both dearly, and after my comparatively short encounter with discomfort and pain, I appreciate them even more. I think most of us could probably learn a thing or two from them.


The above photo is of one of my best friends (who also happens to be my lil’ sis), Allison. At age 11, she was diagnosed with spondyloarthropathy, which is a rare form of juvenile arthritis that results in inflammation of the back, hips, knees, ankles, and eyes. It has no cure, and the pain cannot be completely relieved. She takes pain medication daily, has chronic pain in her knees and hips, and has had numerous stints with iritis which causes her to lose vision for a period of time.


This second photo is of another one of my best friends, Ashley Harman, who I recently had the honor of bridesmaid-ing for in her wedding. She was born with Spina bifida, which was caused by a benign tumor that pinched the end of her spinal cord and weakened the muscles to her leg and bladder. Although she has had this condition from birth, it was not diagnosed until she was 15-years-old.

As a result of spina bifida, Ashley has not only experienced a great deal of physical pain/limitation, she has also experienced significant emotional hurt. One of the most heartbreaking aspects of her story is that growing up, she would often urinate herself at school because a symptom of spina bifida is a loss of bladder control. This occurred for many years and resulted in ridicule from peers and fewer friends throughout her childhood. She has had countless surgeries to repair the damage, requires a catheter every time she uses the restroom, gets persistent infections, and experiences chronic pain in her foot. Like Allison, it is something she has dealt with her whole life, and will continue to deal with for the rest of her life (unless God chooses to intervene, which I pray passionately for!!)

I cried as I wrote these last three paragraphs because Ashley and Allison are two of my absolute favorite people. Despite immense physical challenges and obstacles throughout their lives, they are such joyous and loving people. I never hear them complain about their pains, and I oftentimes forget either of them even have any physical problems until a severe symptom pops up, or they periodically ask for prayers of healing. They both have a strength and perseverance that is truly inspirational. I have learned so much from them about being joyous and giving glory to God no matter what “thorns” you’ve been given in life. I know they have already touched many through their lives, and will continue to do so. Thanks A & A for your impact on my life, you guys are my heroes…I know life hasn’t been the easiest for you and yet you still trust God with all your hearts.

P.S. I wouldn’t be a good older sister if I didn’t put a plug in for my sis right now. If you are single, Godly, and good looking (lol!), I think you should consider asking Allison on a date*. She is all the cool things I mentioned above, plus smart, beautiful, kind, and funny! I don’t think you would regret it 😉 Hahahahaha! Sorry Allison, already published this post…can’t go back now!

*Applicants must be male. Some restrictions may apply. Please contact me for details. Offer expires 3/16/2012. Void where prohibited. 

10 Ways Pregnancy Crushed My Dignity: Parts 7, 8, & 9 – Pain, Pain, Pain

(My response to Sean’s post about my crazy pregnancy hormones)

If you haven’t yet read the intro to this series, you should do so before reading on for some context.

As if barfing my face off day in and day out was not enough, in about the 6th month of my pregnancy, I began feeling much more like an 85-year-old than a 25-year-old. There were three specific types of physical pain I experienced during my third trimester (hence three parts to this post), but this segment also easily deserves 3/10 of the pregnancy series because these aches were, well, that painful.

7. Back Pain. Like many pregnant women in their third trimester, my lower back began aching quite a bit from the pressure of the baby and from postural changes that occur while growing a babe. I won’t go into detail here about the back pain I experienced during pregnancy, because it actually became a much more significant problem after giving birth (I will blog about my recovery and the few weeks following Caleb’s birth once I complete the pregnancy series).

8. Rib Pain. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I am short and petite. Unfortunately, my body did not recognize that fact as it went about growing a baby. While most other short/petite people (in my experience) grow huge tummies that stick out super far to accommodate the baby (plus their own organs), my tummy grew the positively minimum amount required (in contrast to pretty much every other part of my body). Please reference below a picture of me and my friend, Ally, exactly one month before Caleb was born (we are of a similar height and build, and we were at the exact same point in our pregnancies). You may need to click on the photo and enlarge it to see better, but her belly protrudes a solid4 inches further than mine.

So what? Well, since Caleb was not growing outwards so much, he evicted all my existing organs and wedged himself all up ins my rib cage. There were times when I legitimately questioned if his leg was caught in between two of my ribs. Yes, I realize that is not anatomically correct, but I could swear he was training to be the next karate kid because my ribs felt like they were being used as punching (kicking?) bags. Every time I sat down, I had to lean back and continuously push Caleb downwards to relieve the overwhelming pressure on my ribs. It was incredibly uncomfortable, but nothing compared to the…

9. Pelvic Pain. The other bodily aches were a challenge, but it was the pelvic pain above all else that was the dignity-crushing-clincher of my last trimester. I’m sitting here debating which was worse – the pelvic pain or being terribly sick for all nine months…and really, it’s a toss up. At about 6 months, I developed a condition called pelvic girdle pain (PGP) and I’m not entirely sure why I got it, but two causes of PGP mentioned on wikipedia are “hypermobility, genetical ability to stretch joints beyond normal range” and a “history of pelvic trauma”…which I suppose could both be explained by my cheerleading/dancing days growing up…please reference picture below (both my feet are touching the wall):

Ok actually, as I examine that picture in this moment, I know exactly where the PGP came from, haha!! In any case, it is no doubt the worst (chronic) pain I have ever experienced and certainly the most debilitating. As the pain in my pelvis quickly intensified, I required assistance to stand up, roll over in bed, get out of bed, walk any notable distance, get in and out of a car, and go up and down stairs. Additionally, I developed a sharp shooting pain that would radiate down my right inner thigh at random times while walking…stopping me dead in my tracks for several moments.

For the entire last month of my pregnancy, I slept in our living room recliner because it had become too painful to get in and out of bed (even with assistance), and I could no longer lay on my side (let alone sleep), because the pain was far too intense. Moreover, when I was in labor, the nurse kept making me turn on my side to wake Caleb up (which I had not done in a month), and I am not exaggerating when I say the pain in my pelvis easily matched the pain of the contractions. It’s impossible to describe what the pain was really like, but the best picture I can paint is a feeling like my pelvis was getting dislocated over and over again while simultaneously being crushed by something very heavy (i.e. Caleb).

Do you understand now why I felt like an 85-year-old?? I walked as slow as one, required as much assistance (if not more) as one, lost most of my personal freedom like one, and of course, lost my bladder control like one. It was a very difficult and frustrating situation for me, because I couldn’t do almost anything or go anywhere by myself. It was embarrassing at best. Wikipedia actually describes the psychosocial impact of PGP rather accurately: “PGP in pregnancy seriously interferes with participation in society and activities of daily life; the average sick leave due to posterior pelvic pain during pregnancy is 7 to 12 weeks. In some cases women with PGP may also experience emotional problems such as anxiety over the cause of pain, resentment, anger, lack of self-esteem, frustration and depression; she is three times more likely to suffer postpartum depressive symptoms.”

Well, that was a fatty downer. However, in the spirit of keeping these posts optimistic, I’ll leave you with this encouraging thought: if Sean ever decided to leave engineering, he has more than enough experience to launch a highly successful career as a hospice nurse. Such a well-rounded husband.

The other 9 ways pregnancy crushed my dignity:

Part 1 – Constipation
Parts 2 & 3 – Appetite and Weight Gain
Part 4 – Mourning Sickness
Part 5 – Incontinence
Part 6 – Crazy Hormones
Part 10, the Pinnacle – Diarrhomit

Also, read about Caleb’s birth:

Caleb’s Birth Story: Rated PG-13 for Language, Nudity, and Drugs 🙂

And here’s the adventures we had after Caleb’s birth:

Caleb’s Afterbirth – the Hospital (Part 1)
Caleb’s Afterbirth – the Neighbs (Part 2)
Caleb’s Afterbirth – Breastfeeding Blues (Part 3)

Caleb’s Afterbirth – Body Slammed (Part 4)
Caleb’s Afterbirth – Am I an Incompetent Parent (Part 5)

Go Caleb!!!

At 10 months 1 week, Caleb took his first steps yesterday! I know all babies figure out how to walk at some point, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am such a proud mama right now!! He even finished off the video with a sweet little wave (which he just learned how to do about a week-and-a-half ago). It was definitely one of the most exciting moments of mommy-hood so far 🙂 My next favorite moment might be when Caleb was looking around at the wedding I was a bridesmaid in on Saturday, saw me at the head table, developed a huge grin on his face, and started waving madly at me…I’m pretty sure my heart melted to mush…

Go Caleb!!!

At 10 months 1 week, Caleb took his first steps yesterday! I know all babies figure out how to walk at some point, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am such a proud mama right now!! He even finished off the video with a sweet little wave (which he just learned how to do about a week-and-a-half ago). It was definitely one of the most exciting moments of mommy-hood so far 🙂 My next favorite moment might be when Caleb was looking around at the wedding I was a bridesmaid in on Saturday, saw me at the head table, developed a huge grin on his face, and started waving madly at me…I’m pretty sure my heart melted to mush…