This Old House

It feels like everyone and their third cousin has been asking when I’m going to post pictures of our new house. I honestly meant to do this right when we moved in but there was the whole business of unpacking. I’ve unpacked a time or two before but never, have I ever, had to do it with two toddlers underfoot. I’m telling you, moving with two toddlers is not for the faint of heart.

The first time we came to look at this house, oh lord, in my head I was putting my foot down. There was absolutely no way I was going to bring my belongings into this house and actually live here. Needless to say it’s grown on me. It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint, a little scrubbing, and all your things will do to a space. Oh, and there’s that other little thing about having all four members of our family under one roof. That’s pretty amazing too.

I really wish that I had taken before photos, especially of the upstairs. We’ve made some pretty amazing strides with it in a little over a month. This house is…well…it’s unique. There are some super wonderful features like hardwood floors throughout, plenty of closet space, lots of windows, and awesome water filtration (trust me that’s important when you have a well). There are also some weird things like different colored woodwork, one really orange bathroom, a slightly weird floor plan, and a startling lack of trim.

Before I get to the pictures there are just a few things to note:

1. I’m only showing you the upstairs today. Several reasons; this post would go on forever if not, I have a short attention span, and I still need to take more pictures of the downstairs and outside.
2. The pictures are not exactly high quality because I took them with my old point and shoot. My DSL only has a 50mm lens and I just couldn’t get a wide enough shot with it. I really miss my broke ass 18-55 kit lens this week.
3. I’m pretty sure I had a third note but I can’t remember what it was. I’m going to have to start carrying a voice recorder.

Moving on…

This is Kate’s room

Originally I planned on her walls being a little darker with more of a grey base. I was trying to achieve a look that was little girl feminine without being GIRLY GIRL. I think it’s getting there. I just need to work on some actual wall decor.

This is Chase’s room

Originally I intended for there to be no toys in the kids’ bedrooms. I thought it would be easier to transition them to toddler beds if their rooms weren’t a place to play. You can see how well that’s worked out for me. Maybe I’ll just make them sleep in their cribs forever. Eventually his room is going to need a full size dresser, if for no other reason than to get the TV out of reach. Katelyn loves to push the buttons.

This is our bedroom

It’s a little ridiculous right? It’s the least “finished” of all the rooms in our house besides the basement. Funny story about the furniture. The two black towers on either side of the one dresser are actually the end pieces to our entertainment center. I think they only lived as a part of the entertainment center for a few months before we impulsively bought a TV that’s a few inches wider than the TV stand. Since then they’ve basically lived as glorified bookcases/shelves. I think they look pretty nice on either side of our dresser. We also really need a bigger TV, that thing is just pathetic. I’m still trying to decide if the furniture is in the right place, then I’ll work on prettying up the walls. Promise. I guess you could say we have a walk-through closet. It’s an awkward hallway type space that has become one of my favorite parts of this crazy house. I actually kind of love that none of our closets have doors, I’m weird like that.

This is the upstairs (and only full) bathroom

It’s kind of hard to tell but this is actually two rooms. (I’m going to draw up a floor plan for the next post, everything will make so much more sense then). So, this two room bathroom is huge and has TWO closets. It’s also the only room in the house that doesn’t have hardwood floors, which is so confusing to me. I wouldn’t really mind the linoleum except for the aforementioned lack of trim. The bathroom has no trim, none, except for one window, otherwise none. It’s so bizarre, but not as bizarre as the bathtub.

I was actually a little excited about having a claw foot tub, then I realized they really weren’t meant to be showers. First of all, claw foot tubs are not particularly wide which means that the shower curtain is basically molesting me every time I shower. Wet plastic clinging to me while I try to shower is just icky. You see how the curtain is puckered weird in the back? It’s because I MacGyver’d up some magnets to keep at least half of the curtain away from me. Here’s another fun little fact, there is no spigot in the bathtub. Yeah, you read that right, there is no way to efficiently run a bath, you have to turn on the shower, plug the drain, and wait. It takes a frustrating amount of time to run just a few inches of water for my kids to bathe, I don’t have the patience to even try to run myself a bath. Also, because it’s porcelain (or ceramic, or whatever), you have to run hot water forever to preheat the tub, lest it suck all the heat from the water. I could go on for days about this bathroom.

This is the hallway

I know, it’s just a hallway, but it does boast a pretty spacious linen-type closet. I also have grand plans for the stairway. I am going to make a beautiful photo gallery wall. Someday.

So that’s the upstairs of my house. Now I think you can see why I’m breaking this up a little bit. Tune in later this week for a look at the main level.


Holding My Breath

I can’t tell you all the things I want to say right here and right now. There are so many thoughts jumbled around in my head that I’m honestly afraid my ears are going to start leaking.

I took this picture today.

I had eyes full of tears when I took it.

Realizing that I’m legitimately going to be able to put the heartache of the last year behind me is still a little overwhelming. It’s hard for me know how much of my heartache I let everyone see, but it was always there, a constant weight on my chest. It’s hard to believe that it’s really happening. There is a part of me that is still holding a breath, waiting for everything to fall apart.

A month after Katelyn was born my husband and I started living apart. We saw each other nearly every weekend and spent all the time together that we could. My kids absolutely know who their father is but it was still just so hard. For every sleepless night and teary tantrum I had to endure alone I was also left alone for all the shining moments. Ryan missed watching his daughter transition from a baby to a toddler. He didn’t get to see the look of delight on Chase’s face each time he learned a new letter of the alphabet. It seemed like I was thrusting completely changed children at him each and every weekend.

It’s also all the little things that I totally took for granted before. I won’t have to choose between dragging my kids to the store or finding a babysitter. I won’t have to barricade them in cribs or their rooms to take a shower in the middle of the day. If I decide that a chocolate shake is just the thing at 11:00 at night I’ll be free to go get one without rousing my kids from bed. There will be another adult in the house! Granted I’ll still be at home with them during the day but there will be evening relief. Evening. Relief.

Ask yourself this…could you pack for a 5 day trip for yourself and two toddlers in 30 minutes? Because I can. I can do it with a scary sort of efficiency. My kids are honestly confused by car trips that don’t last 2.5 hours. Chase thinks it’s normal to keep his favorite toys in a book bag. His favorite movies reside in a CD travel case. For the past year we have lived like gypsies, shuttling between our house here and grandparent’s spare rooms.

I didn’t realize just how exhausted I was until the end was in sight.

My Valentine

I don’t like Valentine’s Day.

It’s not that I begrudge you your delivery of fancy flowers or candy or whatever the hell you got but damn dude. It totally steals the thunder from my birthday, which was just yesterday by the way. Anyway, I generally just keep pretty low expectations about Valentine’s day because honestly it all feels a little forced. Maybe I’m just jaded.

I’m totally off track from my point right now.

Tonight, after a particularly stressful night with my kids, I got a Facebook message from my husband. I assumed it had something to do with our housing search (because eventually we will have to find SOMETHING), but imagine my surprise when I found what amounted to a love note. I’m not going to share it here but trust me when I say it was beyond sweet and just what I needed to hear.

You might think it odd that I’d be so smitten with a Facebook message but it was so completely right. I don’t care that it didn’t come in a fancy card attached to a vase full of roses, what matters is that he took the time to tell me how much he cares. I will take that simple message of love over a hastily bought bouquet of flowers and quickly signed card any day.

I love my husband more every day that we are together. He is my best friend, my support system, my everything. He understands me (and my silly red-head moods) better than anyone. We may not always see eye to eye and sure there are days that I would love to just kick him in the shins but I know that he is the only one for me. He makes me feel safe and grounded and most importantly loved.

I’m a lucky lucky girl.

Heavy Hearts

It is with a heavy heart that I tell you that our Cole passed away last night.

I wish I had the words to accurately describe how fantastic, how amazing, of a little boy Cole was. From his white blond hair to his impish grin he could make you laugh at even the most mischievous deeds. He could play “farm” for hours, meticulously combining every inch of his carpet or sand fields. He loved Nerf wars, toy trucks and dirt piles as only a little boy can. His smile touched the furthest corners of his face and his laughter was infectious.

It’s difficult to fathom that the overwhelming anger and sadness will ever subside but I know, somewhere in the corners of my head, that eventually the pain will lessen. Right now we will hang on to each other and the knowledge that he is no longer suffering.

I learned from a very good friend that even though a person is gone they don’t ever have to be forgotten. We will keep Cole a part of our hearts and minds forever, taking him with us everyday.

Neither my family or I will ever forget the kindness you have shown us over that past two weeks. Even today, Cole is still receiving cards and letters in the mail. Each and everyone has been read and appreciated more than I can tell you. Over 2,500 cards from at least 5 countries and over 2,000 emails. Sometimes the internet is just amazing.


For those of you who are interested, Cole’s parents have set up a memorial fund and all money received will be donated to The University of Iowa Children’s Hospital Child Life Program and The University of Iowa Dance Marathon. The staff and volunteers there took such good care of him while he was there.

As before anything can be sent to the address below.

Cole Dieckman
PO Box 9
Joy, IL 61260

Thank you, truly, all of you, from the bottom of my heart.


Last week I posted about Cole. I told only the smallest piece of his story and asked what I thought was a large favor.

You responded in ways that, quite honestly, boggle my mind.

Over 43,000 page views, 2,157 cards, 1700 emails, 220 comments, countless shares and one very special message from Spongebob himself.

The amount of love and support you’ve shown to Cole and my family can’t be measured.

It pains me to say that Cole was unable to thoroughly enjoy his birthday, most of the day it was a struggle to simply keep him comfortable. That evening, however, he had an hour or so of alertness and awareness in which he was able to laugh and enjoy some of his gifts.

Caleb and Dawn (Cole’s parents) wanted to make sure that everyone knows just how touched they were and still are at the outpouring of love for Cole.

I wish I could personally thank each an every one of you and I hope that someday should any of you need it, I will be able to pay it forward.

Birthday Wishes



Heavy Hearts


This is a picture of my cousin’s little boys, Cole and Caden. It was taken in August of 2010. I can’t tell you how much this picture breaks my heart

This is a picture of Cole and me from a recent visit. Equally heartbreaking.

Some of you may already know about Cole. He was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphatic leukemia) in October of 2010. He has fought a tremendously difficult battle over the past year and I’ve seen more courage from this little boy than I ever thought possible.

This past October, it was decided that his fight had reached its end. The cancer was too strong and his little body just couldn’t take anymore. In November, his doctors said that he likely wouldn’t make it to see Christmas and yet, next Monday, January 9th, he will celebrate his 5th birthday.

It’s amazing, really, the power of hope and determination. Cole is seeing holidays and celebrations that even the professionals in his life didn’t think he’d see.

As I’m sure you can imagine, Cole’s family wants to give him an extra special celebration when he blows out those candles this year. It’s a precious milestone, this one. If you know me at all, you know that I’m not the type to ask for help, even when I need it. But, for this little amazing kid, I would ask for just about anything. And it isn’t much, really, just a small token. But if you know any 5-year-olds, you know how special small token can make them feel.

So, here’s what I am asking. I am trying to get as many people as possible to send him a birthday card this year. I’ve set up an email account WishesForCole(at)gmail(dot)com so he can receive e-cards and email wishes. And he can also receive cards by mail at his PO box listed below:

Cole Dieckman
PO Box 9
Joy, IL 61260

Cole is such a brave, special little guy. I know it would mean so much to him to get a few extra birthday wishes this year.



You’ve Got Mail!

Well you don’t really have mail so much as you’ve got me telling you to come look at my Christmas cards because chances are if you don’t share blood with me you aren’t actually getting one. I apologize but these bad boys were expensive, so even sharing blood doesn’t guarantee you a paper copy.


Happy Merry Everything to all of you out there, you really do make my world a happier place.

The picture quality is a little poor because I had to use my phone as my *real* camera is currently refusing to take pictures (AHEM Dear Santa).

May you all have the very best Holiday season. Head over to Meghan’s place to check out all the other fantastic cards!

Passing Down My Memories

Thank you to LiveOn for this sponsored opportunity to blog about storing and sharing my most important memories with those closest to me. Although story ideas were provided, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Did you know that I cry at commercials? Yes, there are a lot that get me a little misty eyed, sometimes it’s just a good commercial, sometimes it’s the kind of day I’m having. One commercial though, gets me every single time, no matter what. This Google commercial in which a father is chronicling the life of his daughter through a series of emails that he writes to her, to an email address he will eventually “give” her.

I can’t think of a more precious gift to give someone. My entire photographic childhood fits into 4 photo boxes, many of the photos worn and unlabeled.

I literally have thousands of pictures of my kids and the oldest is only 2.5 years old. Recently I was introduced to a new product/website that will allow me to put those pictures together in memories that I can someday give to them.

LiveOn is a website devoted to the preservation, sharing and handing down of precious memories. They have developed a system in which your memories can be shared in the now and saved for the future. Let that sink in for just a moment. You can create a memory now and have it saved to be viewed by your future grandchildren.

Not only can I create a timeline of memories for myself but I can also create timelines specifically for my kids. The best part is that I only have to create the memory (upload and title all the pictures) once and then I just add them to their timelines as well. A memory can include pictures and videos, you can caption each of the pictures separately or write a general story to go with the memory. One of the neatest features is the ability to record a voice over to go with the pictures and video. This means that 25 years from now Katelyn can log on and watch all the memories I’ve created for her and hear my voice talking her through all of them.

This is the memory I created of Katelyn’s first birthday party.

I encourage all of you to click over and check out this site.

Thank you again to LiveOnfor sponsoring this blog post. Please click here to learn more about storing and sharing your most special memories. I was selected for this sponsorship by Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own.

[Writer’s Workshop] Halloween Crafts!

This week I’m participating in Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop. The prompt I chose is Halloween crafts.

If you know me at all you know that I have a somewhat dry sense of humor. I laugh at inappropriate things and am almost offensively sarcastic. Keep that in mind as I share these with you.

Puking Pumpkin!

You might look at this jack-o-lantern and assume that it was made in our fun-loving college days. You would be mistake. My husband and I made this special little guy last year. We let our 18 month old help us, as well as our friends 8 and 4 year old (with their permission)


If it matters at all we didn’t add the beer cans until after the kids went to bed. At first it was just a puking pumpkin which the kids found hilarious. I’m pretty sure if we could have made it fart it would have been the funniest thing they’d ever seen.

If the puking pumpkin isn’t your style you could always go for some tampon ghosts…

Ok. Ok.

If inappropriate humor isn’t your thing you could always try one of these. The first is the slightly complicated but oh so cute broomstick favors. Basically paper lunch bags with sticks and candy all Martha Stewart’d up.

The second is a far easier chocolate mummy made from crepe paper, googly eyes and chocolate bars.

But seriously, you think the puking pumpkin is funny right?

**Head on over to Mama Kat’s place to check out all the other participants**

Mama’s Losin’ It

The Big 3-0

No, not me. Not yet. I won’t be 30 for another five months.

I KNOW RIGHT? I’m such a baby.

Anyway, the lucky sucker turning 30 this week is my husband Ryan. I like to think of myself as a pretty good present giver and yet here I sit 5 days before one of his milestone birthdays with no present and even less ideas.

The thing is we are going to Vegas this weekend. While we will be in Vegas for his birthday it’s not the reason for the trip. We go every other year with friends for the opening weekend of football. It feels like a total cop-out to call the trip his gift. Unfortunately our budget is tight these days and Vegas is not cheap so I don’t exactly have a lot of extra cash laying around.

While browsing Pinterest tonight I found this cute idea and I think I’ll try to make one and pack it to take with us.

Beyond that? I am at a total and complete loss. In other words, help me people. Help me.