Construction begins.

First, this guy turns 65 today and I am just so grateful he is my dad.

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He was my very first dance partner and still, I love dancing with him…and living life along side him.  I need him to live at least another 65 years.  At least.

Now.  For construction.

I have been a terrible blogger, but when you do a blog primarily to document home improvements, and those home improvements stall, well, there isn’t much to say.  We have had to practice our patience with waiting for the permit (again) but we are now on our way.  I think it will be awhile until we get to the pretty part, but I still plan to document the progress.

I recently looked back to where we started when we moved into our house on April 4, 2011.  The owners left a lot of junk behind (the 1950’s house had never been on the market and been passed down through the generations).  We basically acquired all in the house that nobody else wanting.  We found dining chairs under the house.  An upholstered rocker in the garage, cedar planks in the rafters, glasses in the mounds of leaves, car parts, and so much more.  We quickly rented a 20 foot dumpster and filled it up.  Here’s my first post about the house.  Mainly, I am really grateful to live here.  It is a good house in such a great part of Austin.  But the day we moved in, Scott researched how to “return” a house.  He was overwhelmed by all that we needed to do to make it safe and livable.  Fix gas leaks.  Update electrical stuff (get rid of extension cords running half the house).  Clean up the grime.  I think the seller’s realtor was pretty shocked we did not tear the place down.  But it is too good for that.  And since then, Scott has become the hero of the house.

It never occurred to me that we would take on such a big project.  But I am grateful to have the opportunity.  We will add about 500 square feet, move our kitchen to that new space, add a master closet, make the master bath bigger, add an outdoor shower, add a mudroom/laundry room, and a small room off the kitchen.  By moving the kitchen, we will gain a dining area.  We will knock down some walls, replace all the windows, replace the siding and refinish all the wood floors.

Right now, our house looks like this from the front.


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I want our color scheme to look more like the below when we replace the siding.  I love the dark charcoal siding, with white framing.  Then we will have a pop of color from our door (green?  blue?).  Ignore the shingles.  We will do horizontal siding.  We will have wider, more gradual steps than what was there previously.  A new handrail.  New columns. And Ike, the concrete guy, is evening up our porch, so that water doesn’t hang out there when it rains.

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Currently, Ike, the concrete guy, is working to form the foundation for our new kitchen.  Our back yard looks like this.

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That, my friends, in our new master closet, kitchen, mudroom, and bonus room.  It doesn’t look like much, but this is the sign of PROGRESS.

House update and Stitch Fix

First, wow.  I didn’t know my post about parenthood/pregnancy/fertility would generate so much love.  I am grateful and humbled by the kindness each responder showed to me.  The day I posted, I heard from so many people–on Facebook, texts, emails, comments on the blog.  At the end of the day I fell in bed, exhausted by all the goodness.  Thank you for your offering of words and love.  For anyone who thinks the world is all bad, this day showed me how wrong they are.  There is so much good in this world and you showed it to me generously.  I am grateful.

Second, a house update: We received word that we are approved for a permit and that it is now “available for purchase.”  Fantastic.  So we pay for an application, we pay for various steps along the way, and then we pay when it is ready.  Then we try to close the permit, we have the pleasure of paying for an inspection.  Name of the game: payment.  Fun. Times.  We have a concrete bid, which is good.  We were worried nobody would want to bid on our little project because the Austin building market is nuts right now.  Everyone is busy and not in need of extra work.  Timing is everything and while we bought our house at the right time, we are renovating at the wrong time.  Oh well.  No demo yet.  We need a few more bids first.  Stay tuned.

In other news, I am now into mail order shopping, with a stylist.  Have you heard of Stitch Fix?  Megan got her fix last week and she loves it all!  I got mine a few days ago and kept 2 of the 5 things.

Here’s the concept.  You fill out a fashion questionnaire in which you answer questions like, “how much of the items in this picture do you like?”  “How often do you dress for work?  date night?”  “What body part do you like to flaunt?”  “What colors do you love and hate?”  You can connect the stylist to your fashion Pinterest board even, except I don’t have one.  It is fairly thorough.  You give them your weight, height, sizes, etc.  (THERE IS NO POINT IN LYING!)  And then, a stylist picks out 5 items for you.  Megan got all tops.  I asked for work clothes.  You can customize it.  Each item is $50 or $60.  You can keep it all and get a 25% discount, choose a few things, or send it all back.  If you send it all back, you have to pay a $20 styling fee that is otherwise credited towards the things you buy.

You can subscribe monthly or occasionally.  It seems perfect for people who don’t really like or have time for shopping.

So I got my box with this nice note.

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It also came with these flash card things for how to style the items they sent.

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They sent me a pair of earrings, a sleeveless shirt, 3/4 length-sleeve red shirt, a cardigan and a dress.  I am keeping the red shirt and the dress.  The other stuff is a little boring.

KEEPING.

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RETURNING.

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I scheduled another “fix” for April.  Oh, no.  This is a little addicting.  I will tell you how that one goes.

I can get free clothes if I refer you.  Tons of people are doing this, so don’t feel like you have to use my referral.  But if you would like to, click here.

I am not pregnant.

I am not pregnant.  Never have been.  And it looks like I might never be.  We have tried for a long time.  Several months ago, we starting going to doctors’ appointments to see if there were any hiccups.  There were.  And those are proving to be definitive.

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In the meantime, everyone I know is pregnant.  Okay.  Not everyone, but it seems that my world is really good at procreating.  It is just the stage of life I am in.  And with every person I love who gets to exclaim, “I’m pregnant!” I have two thoughts that seem to flow simultaneously. The first is a pang of envy, strong desire, and sadness in my gut that is wordless and more of a grunt.  The second is sincere joy that someone I love has something good happening in her life.  Yes, I want that goodness, but it doesn’t mean I can’t be sincerely delighted for them.

If you are reading this and need to tell me you are pregnant, don’t worry.  I don’t crumble.  I will be absolutely delighted for you.  I may want to help plan your shower.  I like parties.

On most days this struggle is a quite little part of life.  Other days it is bigger.  When our minister, Eddie, at church looked at me and said, “I know you want a baby,” I just leaned into him and cried.  I don’t know how he knew it.  I have gone on a few runs with friends, and as we talk about it, the grief makes it hard for me to breath.  The other day I went on a run alone and a Matt Maher’s, Lord I Need You, came on my shuffle.  I just cried.  I do need God to walk me through this, in a way I have never needed God.

Our story is as unique as any other.  We started trying after lots of discussion about whether we wanted kids.  I do.  I think I was created to be a mom.  I know I would be good at it.  I dream of it.  I have wavered on the perfect timing of it all but I have always wanted to be a mother.

Scott would be an incredible father.  I think he was made for it.  It is one of my dreams to watch him become one.  I can picture him working on his bike in our yard with little people at his feet.

We talked about family when we were preparing to get married.  We would have two kids, we said.  But when it came down to beginning to try, he was petrified (me too!).  Turns out he isn’t sure he wants them.  We still tried, and went to some counseling, because seemingly, one of us would lose—I win and we have a kid; He wins and we don’t.  I didn’t like that and so we got some coaching on how to navigate.  We still tried for kids.  During that counseling, our counselor told us we were on different pages. But ultimately we decided we would try for a time and if it didn’t happen in time, then we would just stop.  So then we asked ourselves what it meant to try.  And that led us to the doctors’ offices to “get checked out.”  Which gave us some answers that we don’t like.  So we tried.  Is that it?  I don’t know.  I don’t want it to be it.  But it might just be.  There are still a few unanswered questions in the science department that through God’s grace may make it possible.  I pray for that and am trying to be patient with those answers.  I am not in control of the answers or the timing of the answers.

I went through a time when I did not buy clothes, thinking that any month now I would need to start buying maternity clothes.  It seems fun to me.  But after awhile I stopped.  It made me crazy.  And now I probably buy more clothes than ever, as a little reward for being okay about not being pregnant.  I am weird.

There are a lot of different ways to become parents.  Fostering.  Adopting in the US.  Adopting outside the US.  Engaging science.  Sperm donors.  IUI.  IVF.  Scott and I have an agreement that we would try for a time and then be done and we don’t yet know how far “trying” will take us.  But it leads to lots of discussions about what life is like without kids.

I find myself wanting to ask my 7-year-old niece, Jane, if she will take care of me when I am old.  I haven’t actually asked because what is the commitment of a seven year old anyway?  She would just look at me like I am nuts.  Plus, I am certain her tender heart will be soft towards her pathetic old aunt and she will—in fact—take care of me.  I shouldn’t worry her now.

Scott is certain he will die in his 60s, so that leaves a lot of life left for me.  By the way, I think differently.  My plan is for him to live a lot longer.  But beyond the “need kids so that someone will take care of us when we are old” argument, there is the feeling that we are being left behind.  We don’t eat out with our friends with kids very often, likely because they think we don’t want to hang out with their kids.  That is rarely the case.  And our friends with kids are making friends with their kids’ friends.  We don’t have that avenue and it gets a little lonely.  I think more in my head than in reality, because we have dear friends…but it is the same as when all my friends started getting married.  You just feel a little left behind.

God seems to be revealing to me a lot of sweet people who have simply chosen not to have kids.  This has been helpful to see how life could be…it looks happy.

I tend to have the idea that if I don’t have kids I am selfish.  Which could be true.  But it could also free me up for more giving.  I am trying to think about what that looks like for us.  We can travel more and spend money how we want.  We won’t have to save for a college fund.   But how can we really give of ourselves the way we would give to children without them?  Host a college group at our house?  Be a room mom to a kindergarten class in a less fortunate part of town?  Actually save a college fund and then give it to a kid in need?  Babysit regularly for a couple that needs to go out?  Host people more often?  Take our nieces and nephews on trips?

We borrow children, and enjoy doing that, but I am keenly aware of the connection between children and parents—I belong to that relationship with my own parents.  I go to them with troubles.  I crave their advice.  I need their approval.  I thrive on their praise and confidence in me.  I am so confident that Scott and I could be good at developing little people with that sweet connection.  I want it.

But more than anything, I want what God wants for me.  I just don’t know what that is yet.  And I want my heart to be knit to my husband’s so that we work towards the desires of our heart in a path that overlaps entirely.  God is working on us.  As hard as this time is, it may just be God’s way of revealing an entirely different plan for us.  I have honestly never loved my Scott more.  I appreciate his honestly, and his tenderness towards me.  I do not want to suck the life out of us, at the expense of wanting children so bad that there is nothing left for us.  I want us more than I have to have kids.  And Scott is making strides that surprise me and humble me.  I know it is because of my prayer—and that of dear friends—for our hearts to be knit together.   I see God’s provision in that.

I have no answers, but I know God has them and will reveal them in time.  Lately, we wonder whether there are some children near by that were meant for us.  Scott asked if we could just go to an orphanage and pick some out.  I know it isn’t like that, but I do wonder who is out there that may need us.  I don’t even know how to go about that.  Scott’s order is for some who are beyond diapers.  Mine is for kids that have not been hurt so bad that they can’t trust us to love them.  How do I find them?

Updated favorites.

We are days away from getting a permit and I am hopeful it will come within the next few days.  They promised last Friday but Austin was iced over on Friday and I am not complaining about that.  A free day at home is always welcomed.  It seems as if so much of our life is on hold until this remodel happens, but there is still so much to enjoy about life today.  Most are the intangible: the beauty of Town Lake as the sun rises and the energy that comes from running the whole Mopac to I 35 loop with good music as company; the sweetness of having family close by to share groceries and life with; the goodness of friendship; friends who pray for me and vice versa; a husband who still thinks I am hot, even though with every passing day I feel less hot; things to celebrate; weekends with only good things planned; and on and on and on.

I am also enjoying things that are so much less important, but fun to discover.  My most recent favorites are below.

s1482546-main-heroI put this eye cream on every morning.  I started several months ago, thinking that the mid-30s required adding this layer of care.

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I really love this lip gloss/chap stick stuff.  It isn’t shiny like lip gloss, but it gives you a little color and also has sunscreen.  I hate the shiny stuff because my hair sticks too it.  After my mom went through this awful chemo treatment on her face to bring cancer cells to the surface, I realized I needed sunscreen for my lips.  Much of her troubled area were her lips and I want to try to avoid that scenario.  It looked so miserable, but she was a trooper.

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Coconut oil seems to be a very trendy product now and I am on the bandwagon.  I primarily use it on my face–I wash my face with it a few days a week, making a scrub with it and sugar.  It works great to moisturize and to exfoliate.  I probably won’t need it in the summer, but when my skin dries out in the winter, this works really well.  I buy it at Trader Joes.  Praise the Lord for Trader Joes.

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These trouser socks are so warm and comfy.   They are made by Madewell, a brand that is fairly new to me.  The socks are perfect under boots–just the right thickness, and on cold weekend days, they are fun peaking out of Uggs.

I have also really been loving Livestrong.com’s My Plate food tracker.  After going to Mexico for a week at Christmas, not exercising, eating about 73 pounds of tortilla chips, drinking more beer and margaritas than water, and indulging way too much, Scott and I decided we would make January a no drinking month and we would count our calories.  We are super delighted that January is nearly over, but this food tracker has made it very easy to right the “overindulging ship.”

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And during the not-so-fun January, this sparkling mineral water has been our friend.  Somehow the bubbles fool you into thinking you are not starving, which is very helpful.  We drink at least one a day and it helps us eat fewer calories.

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Hiking the Barton Creek Greenbelt through the seasons is such a treat.  Having such a vast park in the center of town is a gift.  I love peaceful afternoons out there.

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Homeland.  We are hooked.  We don’t get Showtime so we wait for them to come out on DVD, but when the second season came out, we devoured them in about two weeks.  I found myself wanting to pray for the characters.

And lastly, Scott and I are on a quest to see most, or all, of the Oscar’s Best Picture nominated films.  We might not make all 9 because Wolf of Wall Street looks so, so bad, but we will try.  It is a fun challenge to take on.