Ache of Motherhood

I wrote this post a few months ago and completely forgot about it.  I just stumbled across it this morning, and it made me tear up!  Hopefully you like it.

Ache of Motherhood

You faintly hear the cry.  But you’re in the middle of sleep.  Really good sleep.   And you haven’t had really good sleep in a few days, because for some reason you can’t sleep- you’re up at ridiculous hours worrying about your babies.  But tonight you could, and you went down hard.  You’re in the middle a dream that leaves you wondering if you’re married to Brad Pitt or Leonardo DiCaprio.  Or both. 

You hear the cry over the monitor again.

Is it Leo or Brad? You ask yourself again.  You look over at the brown haired man next to you.  He’s neither.  But, lucky for you he’s better looking.

You hear the cry again.  Louder.  She’s awake.

This post is for you sweet Annie

You slam your glasses on your face.  You hobble to her room, thinking ‘please, give me a break.’ You sigh and reach down get her out of her crib.  You start to rock her and pray that she goes back asleep before she wakes up too much and destroys the next few hours of sleep you’ve got.

You look down at her perfect face.    Perfect eyes, lips, hair, and a pug nose that is so adorable, you think about pinching it off. 

Seconds later, she’s fallen back asleep in your arms.  She’s sleep nursing, her lips moving in a perfect rhythm.  You start to lay her back in her crib, but you stop and you feel it:

The bitter sweet ache of being a mother.

You desperately want to put her down.  You probably won’t sleep again for another month, and you’d really like to go back to bed, but your heart aches, knowing that every night she wakes up one day older.

Why can’t we kids alternate ages every day?  Like Mondays their cuddly, colicky babies, Tuesdays rowdy toddlers, Wednesday semi- self-sufficient teens, Thursdays adults to talk to, and Friday-Sunday you get a break.  Shouldn’t every mom get a three-day weekend?

Instead, we’re bombarded with the heart meltingly sweet, yet exhausting years of babyhood all at once.  We desperately plead with ourselves to enjoy it, while barely being able to hold our eyes open long enough to be conscious. 

You look at your baby once more before you lie her down, trying to memorize her tiny face in your mind, because even though you have a lot of nights like this left, you know you will wake up in a few days and she will be 21.  She won’t need to be rocked, and you’ll never know another baby like you knew this one.  Your own baby. 

You lay her down in her crib.  She softly grunts, but thankfully stays asleep.  You hobble back to your room, trying to keep your glasses from slipping off your face. 

You lay down, willing yourself back into a deep sleep, but it won’t come.  You let out a deep sigh.  She’s asleep.  You’re awake.  You’re thinking about that baby face.  And then you think about another face.  It’s your own mother’s face.  And you realize what she must have gone through when you were a baby.  The exhaustion she felt, the joy, and terror of having to be responsible for a tiny human.  She didn’t have Google!

You remember her faces, the one that she makes when she’s proud of you, the one that she makes when she’s disappointed, and the one that she makes when she wants you to eat your vegetables.  You realize they’re all basically the same face. 

It’s the bitter sweet ache of motherhood. 

That look that says I’m exhausted, I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m scared, but I’m unconditionally in love with you.  I’m so in love with you that you could stick a thousand knives through my heart, and I won’t complain.  You could say the most hateful words to me, and I will give you a hug.

It’s all the same look, it’s the look that says simply, ‘I’m your mom.’

‘On my best day, I’m simultaneously indestructible and yet completely open-hearted.  On my worst day, I’ll still be by your side.’ 

So, you check the monitor, and look into that peaceful baby face.  Then, the tears flow.  You cry about how beautiful she is, how much of a miracle she is, and how you desperately don’t want to make any mistakes.  It’s a short cry, though.  Because, before you’ve finished your thoughts, you pass out.  Unconsciously, your body waits for the next cry.  When you’ll hobble back to her room and hold her little body close to yours.  And feel the ache.  The ache that she put in your heart the first time you saw her face, and the special bitter sweet ache that will never go away. 

I’m back! Our fourplex purchase and baby update!

Hey all!  After six months, I’m back with an update on our first multi-family rental purchase, but first…

There are a couple of reasons I haven’t been around.  The first: we have a baby infestation at our house.  They’re cute, they’re amazing, they’re exhausting!  But, I can’t fully blame those doe-eyed girls for my absence.

The main reason I haven’t written is because I banned myself from infrequently blogging until I fulfilled one of my biggest dreams– writing a book.  Yep, I wrote a book.  Please, don’t congratulate me.  It’s rough, and still being edited by some poor unfortunate souls who I will owe for the rest of my life.  By the end of the summer I’m going to publish it.  Probably under a pen name.  Regina George, maybe.  Or, Gracie Lou Freebush.

Okay, now back to the first reason I’ve been absent: Baby infestation.

Baby update:

These two ladies are growing like crazy!  Vera Faye just turned two a couple of weeks ago.  She’s the bus driver of our family, and we’re all just trying to hang on to our seats.  We love her fierce desire to be independent and lead the way.

Sweet Annie is almost six months old.  Ahhh!!! She’s the cutest snuggler this side of the Mississippi.  I’m in love with her sweet temperament and full-on-gums-smile. 

okay… enough about babies… on to…

Our First Multi-Family Rental Purchase:

If you’re ever at our house, and I’m pregnant, WATCH OUT.  There’s about to be some real estate bought!  Two days before I had Vera Faye, we bought our first investment property.  Less than a month before we had Annie we closed on our first multi-family.  I can’t explain this, it’s just a fact of life.

I thought I’d briefly go through a description of our new property, how we found/financed it, how we’re managing it , and how it’s doing.


Our multi-family property is a fourplex.  Also known by sophisticated investors (not myself) as a quadplex.  That means, there are four units.  Honestly, they’re not much to look at from the outside because the roof and the siding are the same beige color.  Think oatmeal.  No berries.  But, they are sturdy, clean, and in a quiet location, so I was immediately attracted to them.


I wish I could say I found the property by miraculous intervention.  But, it was found through average, everyday poking around.  Since I have my real estate license, I often look around for potential properties, and I just stumbled on it.  It’s located near our first house (the one we lived in, paid off, and turned into a rental), so I knew the units would rent well– plus, I was 7 months pregnant when the process started, and my real estate hormones were starting to rage.


I knew we were going to have to finance the property, because we didn’t have the cash sitting around, and my rich relatives haven’t appeared yet.  Still looking for them though!  If you want to be related to me, and give me money, let me know.

Getting a mortgage on a multi-family property was… interesting.  We have a great relationship at the bank where we do our everyday banking.  The branch manager knows my husband by name.  I tried to use his relationship with them to finance our first multi-family investment, but they didn’t want any part of it.  Long story short: I was ghosted.

Next, I tried using a banker I’d met through my real estate dealings.  He was supposed to be THE BEST.  And, he is, but only for traditional mortgages.  Long story short: I couldn’t even get him to call me back.

So, I decided to give up.  No real estate love for the pregnant lady.  A few weeks went by… and I read an article written by a real estate investor who recommended using a small local bank.  I decided to give it one last shot.

I googled a small, local bank and cold-called their loan officer.  I expected to get laughed at or hung up on, but after explaining who I was and giving him the details of the property, he agreed to meet with me!  It was the first time anyone had even treated me like a human being instead of a piece of mortgage meat.  He asked me to fill out a bunch of financial paperwork and bring it to the meeting.

I filled out the paperwork, meticulously.  It was a beast… asking for everything short of a blood sample.  On the day we were supposed to go meet with the banker, I had something come up so my husband went to meet with him over his lunch hour.  I’m not sure what happened next.  All I know is that my husband took in the paperwork, charmed the pants off of the banker man (not literally…), and we got our money, honey!

Managing and Performance:

When I became a landlord, I read a book.  The author said it takes approximately three months for a new rental to even out.  Meaning, it takes a couple of months to get to know the tenants (or get it rented), get your process set up, and get any repairs done that weren’t done by the last owners.

I completely forgot about this fact immediately after reading it.  I was hit with a major case of landlord amnesia and thought we would be smooth sailing as soon as we closed.

In the first three months, we had two tenants move out, we decided to renovate one unit, another unit had a broken water heater, and we fixed a small electrical repair.  This may seem like a lot, but it really wasn’t that bad, although I may just be having some landlord amnesia :).

Since then, we’ve haven’t had any issues.  This property brings in 1.5% of it’s purchase price each month.  We’re pretty happy with these returns since our other properties we get around 1% of the purchase price in rent per month.

The Most Frequently Asked Question

Question:  Are you crazy?

Interpretation:  Aren’t you worried about tenant problems, repairs, fires, water damage, crazies, zombies, and vampires?

Answer:  Absolutely.

That’s all folks… or at least a big overview of everything.

There  are a bunch of details I could get into (like why a pregnant lady gets so obsessed with rental  houses or what to do when your renter begs you to allow a puppy), but there’s not enough time for that.

I don’t want to make it seem like our journey has been smooth sailing or, on the flip side, terrible.  The truth is, some days are good and some days are bad.  We have difficult conversations with tenants about consequences for not paying their rent, but we also have great tenants who pay on time every month.  Just like any job, there are good days and bad days.  The only difference, with real estate, there’s a lot more freedom.  I may decide to take a full-time job next week, but for the time being, it allows me to spend a lot of time with our babies… and write my first book (haha).

Thank you so much for reading this, it truly means THE WORLD to me.  I  hope you are doing well.  I hope you are accomplishing a few dreams!  You’re pretty awesome (that means pretty +  awesome)!  Go charm the pants off someone!


We Have Two Babies Under Two!

“Please send me all updates.  I am being held hostage by two tiny dictators.  Not sure when I will be released.” — Me to a group of friends, three minutes ago.

Well, we did it.  We have two babies under two living at our house.  It’s been a week and no one has been severely injured.  There are lots of things I should probably say about having two kids under two, but honestly I’m not sure what day it is.  So, I’ll just do an update on the babies and maybe some miraculous thoughts will happen later.

Me and my girls!

Annie’s birth.

I had another giant baby.  Annie Claire weighted 9lbs 6oz when she was born at 39 weeks.  If I had gone to 40 weeks I’m sure she would have gone into the double digits.

After much stewing, I decided to have another C-section.  Mostly because I was terrified of going through the same birth experience I did with Vera Faye (14 hours of labor, emergency C-section, 4 days in the NICU…).

I’m happy to say that Annie’s birth was such a different experience.  Choosing to be cut open in an operating room felt very clinical and cold, but it went so smoothly that I think I made the right decision. We just showed up at the hospital, and the doctor was ready.  Less than an hour later it was all done.  Annie Claire was ready to party.

Annie is…

A great baby.  She loves to snuggle.  She loves to sleep in late with me.  Yesterday, we laid in bed until 11:00 and it was amazing!!!  But, last night, she was up for four hours… so you win some and you lose some.

Annie is also…

An aggressive eater.  I’ve nicknamed her “Shredder.”  She took to breastfeeding like a champ, but dannnnnng I’m not sure I will recover.  I want to hand her to anyone who says breastfeeding doesn’t hurt and let her attack.

Vera Faye update.

She is as full of life as ever.  She loves to talk… and say “no” to everything.  She probably knows 100 other words/sounds, but “no” is definitely her favorite.  What other word does a spirited child need?!  She’s getting into puzzles more and more.  She loves her blanket and her book “The Pout-Pout Fish,” and she’s officially smarter than me.

Vera Faye is also…

Pissed.  For the first few days she wouldn’t look at the new baby.  I’m pretty sure she thought that if she didn’t look at Annie, she would disappear.  A week in, she is doing a little better, but she still doesn’t like me holding her sister.  Also, her dad is officially her favorite person.  I’m a little sad about it, but it’s also probably for the best.  Selfishly, it takes a little pressure off me.

Miraculous thoughts.

I still don’t have much to say, but I would like to this: I think I’ve been trying to be a perfect mom.  And, I’m officially over it.  Trying to be Super Mom is an impossible quest, and I’m tired of trying.  Also, I’m tired of feeling guilty for failing.  From now on, I’m just going to be the best mom I can be.  Please remind me of this in an hour when I’ve completely forgotten my mission.


We bought our first multi-family rental property about a month ago.  I’ll write about it next, so you don’t have to read all this kids stuff all the time :).

Be Proud of Yourself!

I joined a moms group.

One of my cousins recommended that I join one about a year ago, but I was skeptical.

  1. What would I have in common with random moms?
  2. Would they be welcoming?
  3. Would I have to play weird games, like the ones at baby showers?

Naturally, number 3 was my greatest concern.  I hate that baby shower game where they melt perfectly good candy bars into diapers and ask you to guess which candy bar it is.  Ugh, why can’t we just eat the candy bar?!

Anyway, just so you know, there aren’t any weird games at mom’s group.  It’s mostly just talking and eating- two of my ultimate favorite activities.

During one of the meetings, one of the moms brought up this question, “What are you proud of—besides being a mom?”

Answer: I had no idea.  It kind of stunned me.  Being a mom is so all encompassing; I had forgotten that I did other things, other things to be proud of.

We all get so wrapped up in a certain part of ourselves—work, friendships, relationships, kids, that we forget about all the different parts.  There are so many things you do to be proud of!

So, I’ve been thinking of things I can be proud of.

  1. Writing.  It always makes me feel better.
  2. Selling houses. I’ve sold 8 houses this year.  I never thought I would sell even one!
  3. Growing a baby. Just impressive, am I right?
  4. Relationship with my husband. He makes it easy.
  5. Keeping a clean house—just kidding! I’m avoiding an avalanche of laundry right now.

But, I don’t want this post to be about me.  I want it to be about you.

What are you proud of?

Are you a great cook?  Do you kick butt working out?  Do you have a great relationship with your dog?

See, you have so much to be proud of!  And even if it seems small to you, it isn’t.  What you’re proud of really matters.

Lately, with 2016 passing so quickly, I think there’s a huge need for us to reflect on what makes us proud, because reflection stops time.  Refection makes you appreciate who is around you.  Reflection makes you focus on what matters to you.  And mostly, reflection makes you thankful.

And, here’s the magic.  Thankfulness is magic.  It kills bad stuff.  It kills discontent and depression– it’s like life’s bleach.

I hope you give it a try!

If you find at least five things you are proud of, I’ll send you a candy bar.  It might be a little melted, but it won’t be in a diaper.

10 Jobs You Automatically Get as a Mom

We went to toddler yoga.  There’s only one rule in toddler yoga:  you cannot run around the room like a maniac.  What is the only thing my toddler wanted to do?  Downward dog?  Nope.  Sing wheels on the bus? Nope.  Moo like a cow? Not a chance.  She wanted to rrrrrruuuuunnnnnnn!!!  She knocked down other toddlers.  She stepped on the instructor’s phone.  And, she face planted into a stranger’s mat—all while having the biggest smile on her face. 


Can someone get this baby a pumpkin modeling contract?!

After spending an hour chasing her around the room (almost 7 months pregnant), I thought, ‘when I became a mom, this is not what I expected.’  So, in honor of my toddler, here are 10 jobs you automatically get when becoming a mom.

1.        Lion Tamer.  This is what I felt like at toddler yoga.  Trying to chase, wrestle, and corral a toddler is like trying to tame the most fearsome of beasts.  Only the strong survive!  Watch out for the sharp teeth!

2.       Teacher.  She is really into books right now.  She brings me one at least a couple of times a day, and she sets in my lap while I read to her.  It’s so sweet… makes me forget the Lion Taming I’ve just endured.

3.       Nurse.  “Do you think she needs Tylenol?”  This is a very common question around our house.  Pair that with the question, “Is she teething?” and you’ve just heard 50% of our conversations—you don’t even have to tune into our future reality show :).   I wish college would have included a semester class in child health, because we have no clue what we are doing.  Sometimes we just look at each other and shrug.

4.       Transformer.  The first time I was pregnant my husband looked at me one day and said, “Woah, your body is like a transformer!”  Since having a baby I’ve realized my mind is also like a transformer.  I’m constantly thinking about how to get tasks done during the day while watching out for sluthey baby hands that get into everything. 

5.       Referee.  I actually haven’t encountered this one yet, but with only a few months before the new baby arrives, I thought I would put it on the list.

6.       Therapist.  “Toddlers love big and live big,” I read that in an article on Facebook (it must be true,  right?), and I thought it was the perfect description of Vera Faye.  Everything is SUCH a big deal right now.  If Netflix doesn’t load her favorite video quick enough—she throws on the floor and starts screaming.  When she touched the lace on her pants this morning—she thought her life was over.  There are good sides to this too, like last night I was trying to rock her to sleep and she wouldn’t stop laughing.  So, I really don’t mind this job.  It makes me smile to see that much life going on in such a little package.

7.       Janitor.  Duh.

8.       Fortune Teller.  This one is kind of cool.  I know what is going to make her mad, happy, sad, even before she does.  I didn’t think I would be able to know her so well before she could even speak.

9.       Chef.  She loves spaghetti, Hawaiian rolls, and bananas.  Anything else, she might taste on a case by case basis… if you’re lucky.  Don’t even THINK about giving her food that is anywhere close to hot.  She will not wait for it to cool down. 

10.   Detective.  Sometimes, I’m a Nose Detective searching out something that smells.  Other times, I’m trying to locate the last landing spot of her shoes.  Usually, I’m trying to figure out what she’s chewing on.  It doesn’t matter what the question is, I’m just always trying to find an answer.

There you go.  Ten jobs, you get when becoming a mom.  Do you have any more to add?

Best and Worst of Times

Worst of Times

I don’t know how to write this post.  You need words to write a post, and I don’t have many.  I guess I’ll just say it.

Rick died.

About a month ago, he was ran over– and we still haven’t recovered.  First of all, I feel like the worst dog mom ever for letting this happen.  Secondly, I keep thinking, “What can I do to change it?  What can I do to save him?”  I feel like life should have a giant undo button that you can press when something terrible happens.  Or maybe, like in a Nintendo game, we can have another “life” and get to play the level one more time.

But, I haven’t found those buttons yet, so we’re just sitting in the middle of all the feels.  We’re remembering a great dog.

photo 1


photo 4

His big smile, his uncontrollable dinosaur tail, his goofy walk, his goofier run, and his amazing ability to get into trouble.  As one of our first children, he was a highlight of our life.   We’ve cried a lot for that big puppy.  And, I cry for Pink.  He  seems so lonely now.  Since the day he was born, he had the ultimate companion– a brother.  Pink and Rick were our dogs, but they cared more for each other than they did about us.


I’m still not sure what to say about all this.  Except, I’m taking solace in a movie from my childhood, All Dogs Go to Heaven.  I know he will be there with a big yard to dig holes in, lots of food, and no scary storms.  Love you pup.

Best of Times

Life is weird. Happy and sad events sometimes coincide– leaving an emotional mess (me)behind.  Earlier this summer, a couple months before Rick died, we got some awesome news.

I’m pregnant again!  I’m 25 weeks this week, which means I’ve almost made it to my third trimester.

Just as I’ve been hesitant to talk about Rick, I’ve also been hesitant to talk about the new baby.  After the emotional rollercoaster it took for us to get pregnant the first time, I could hardly believe it could happen so easily the second time.  So, when I started feeling a “swampy” feeling, I completely wrote it off.  I was still breastfeeding Vera Faye at the time, and there were no signs my body was ready.

But, my swampy feeling wouldn’t go away!  While my husband was away on a business trip I decided to take a test.  I was tired of thinking I might be  pregnant, and I was ready to be done with my crazy thoughts!

Well, I wasn’t crazy- at least not about being pregnant 🙂

We’re having a baby!  Definitely a miracle after all we’ve been through.  At first I wouldn’t let myself believe it.  Then, as my belly kept growing, I got even more worried because I couldn’t feel the baby move.  At my 16 week appointment the nurse said I should feel it any time, but I didn’t.  As the weeks passed, all I felt was heartburn.

Luckily, when we went in for our 20 Week ultrasound, the tech said the baby is great, and I wasn’t feeling it move because of the position of all the baby accessories in there.  Now my worries have mostly gone away, and I’m trying to enjoy the last part of my pregnancy.

Since this baby was such a surprise, we’ve decided not to find out the gender.  There’s a mystery baby growing inside of me.  It really hasn’t been hard to keep from finding out the gender.  I was so worried about not feeling him/her move that I didn’t even think about gender, and now I’m so relieved the baby is doing well, that I still don’t think about gender.

I know one thing about the baby.  I’m betting no matter the gender, he/she will be just as rowdy as our first fur child…

Tale of Two Rentals

First Rental: Backstory

(Two weeks ago)  I’m sitting on the floor of our old house.  I’m surrounded by four trash bags, a blender, and a pizza pan.

If I stood up, I’d be surrounded by a lot of kitchen stuff piled on the counters, but I just ate a bunch of Mexican food so I won’t be standing up for a few more minutes.  I stare at the tile floors beneath me and remember the day our parents helped us lay this floor five years ago.  I also never thought this house would become our first rental house.  I never thought we would have a rental house at all.

(Today)  I’ve heard a lot of scary things about being a landlord.  1.  Renters will tear up your house.  2.  Renters won’t pay their rent.  3.  Renters will become zombies and try to eat the neighbors.

Basically, anyone I’ve ever talked to about rental properties has told me, “it’s a terrible idea.”  Even though most of these people have never owned a rental property, I appreciate what they mean–“it’s risky!”  And, I AGREE!  I’m terrified.  I’m terrified of failing.  Also, I’m terrified of snakes, spiders, plane crashes, and I really dislike Jello.  But, I still get on planes, and I still go to the grocery store.  Why? It’s good for me to travel, it’s good for me to buy groceries, and I think it will be good for us to have a second source of income.

First Rental: Practical Info

We are managing this rental ourselves with the help of a lawyer and this book from Bigger Pockets.  If you want to know anything about how to set up a rental property, I HIGHLY recommend this book.  It walks you step by step through the rental process.  Here’s what we did (there’s way more detail in the book if you’re interested):

  1.  I read the rental property book and did exactly what it said.
  2. I advertised the house.  I didn’t have to do much advertising because we got 20 calls after we put a sign in the yard.
  3. We took applications, ran background checks, and chose a renter.


$700 a month

Expenses.  Luckily, we don’t have a mortgage on our first rental because we paid it off a couple years ago.  Unfortunately, we still have to pay for a few things.

  1.  Insurance: $600 a year
  2. Taxes: $600 a year
  3. Lawyer fees: $350 so far…
  4. Repairs: ???
  5. Vacancies: ???

So far, this rental has been smooth sailing.  Our tenant moved in on the 1st, and we haven’t heard a peep.

Second Rental: Backstory

Our second rental is the house we flipped last year.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t get it to sell for what we wanted, so we decided to rent it.  Instead of us managing this one, we are using a property manager.  All property managers work differently, but typically they find tenants and take care of rental properties for a small percentage of the rent.  For this property, our manager gets paid half of the first months rent and 10% of every month after that.
$795 a month.
Expenses.  Unfortunately, we do have a loan on this property.
1.  Insurance: $600 a year
2.  Taxes $600 a year
3.  Loan payment $1,200 a year (interest only loan payment)
4.  Property Management:  $1,360
5.  Repairs: At least $500
6.  Vacancies: ???
So far, this one has NOT been smooth sailing.  On the day our tenants were supposed to move in the air condition stopped working.  Next, we had a plumbing issue.  We haven’t got the final bills, but it’s looking like we’re not going to make money on this house for a while.  Awesome.

What now?

Well, nothing fun.  I would love to say that we are using the rental income to plan a vacation to Aruba.  Or Jamaica.  But, it’s way more dull than that.  We’re going to use the money for the foreseeable future (and if the air conditioners keep going out, we will never make it to the Caribbean) to pay off the loan on the second rental house.  As you can see, the loan we have only requires an interest only payment.  So, if we aren’t proactive in paying it off, it’s going to hang around forever.
Through this process, I’ve learned one thing.  Building a business takes FOREVER!  I thought I was supposed to be rolling in the greenery by now!  But, I guess it’s going to take a little (lot) more time.
On a completely different note.  Our baby turned one last month!  Currently, she is thinking about walking, she loves her blanket, and she is babbling in full paragraphs.  She recently had watermelon for the first time, and that is the only food she wants to eat.  So, she’s basically a real-life humming bird.
 1st Birthday1 copy (1)
We are totally in love.  She is the reason we’ve worked so hard to get these houses up and going.  Hopefully some day she won’t scream bloody murder as we work on them.  :/
Anything going on with you lately?  Ever thought about getting a rental property?


We Flipped a House… and (sort of) Liked It.

Hello!  I thought I’d catch you up and tell you about our baby.  I’m not talking about the amazing human baby we had last May.  I’m talking about the beast we bought last June– our first foreclosure.

My Big Lie

When my husband and I moved in to our current house, 5 years ago, we had to do a few projects.  We replaced all the flooring and painted every square inch of our casa.  In the process, I turned into a crazy person.  I wanted everything done in two weeks.  I basically went to bed with a paintbrush and roller in each hand.

When my husband and I decided to buy a foreclosure last June (a month after our real baby was born), he made me promise I wouldn’t turn into Kelsie-paint-hands.  So I did what every wife does on occasion: I lied.

I lied straight to his face.  Did he know me at all?  Of course, I expected it to be done in fifteen minutes!!!  Who was he kidding?!?

“Oh, I’m going to totally relax this time.  I give us a year to finish it,” I said, avoiding eye contact and flipping my hair to keep him from seeing my eyes.

Oh Sweet Reality, Much Like Getting Hit by a Bus

The joke is on me because it took us seven months to finish our first rehab project.  I have one word for this journey.  Wow.  It was so much more work than I expected.  And, we doubled our budget.  And, I didn’t have the mental capacity to blog, or do anything else except take care of a baby.

But, luckily we finished.  I’m so glad to be done!!! So, here are some pictures to sum up the last seven months of our lives.


The before:

This was where they shot the horror film: I Know Where You Ate Last Summer.  There were weird, rotting spots in the floor.  The cabinets were made of cardboard and held together with old food particles.  The backsplash and countertops were a layer of plastic covered with a layer of nasty.

33 ross 2

The after:

We replaced the subfloor, laid tile, put in new cabinets, appliances and doors.  We also painted and hung new light fixtures.



Here are some more pics.


I got a steal of a deal on this backsplash. It was only $30!


We put in the back door. The old one didn’t lock, and we think that is an important function to have.


Scored this brand new fridge for $450.00. But… we paid full price for the other appliances. Lame.


Family Room

The before: there are two living areas in our house.  I actually don’t have a before picture of the Living Room (it was pretty standard), but the Family Room had a giant eyesore of a fireplace that had to be battled and eventually taken down to pretty town.

33 ross 1

The after: this is one of my favorite things in our house.  It shows how much better a room can look with just some paint (and cleaning, a new light fixture, flooring…).



Here are a few more pics:




The before: have you ever gone into a restaurant/gas station bathroom and had the feeling you just got a disease?  The one where you look both ways trying to decide if it’s better just to leave?  This bathroom wasn’t that bad, but it was pretty bad.  I don’t have a picture of before, but here it is mid gut.

photo 4

The after:  this is the smallest room in the house, and it took the most work.  Full gut.  Down to the studs (and below).  Every surface is brand sparkling new!  It’s one of my favorite places, but that could be because I spent the most time in there.

IMG_1743  IMG_1730


Other Stuff

We also rehabbed 3 bedrooms, a laundry room, a deck, a hallway area, put on a new roof, had the HVAC serviced… and the front of the house painted.

The not so good stuff

We busted our budget.  I haven’t ran the numbers officially (mostly because I’m scared to :)), but I know we doubled our rehab budget.  Luckily, we picked a project that was in our comfort zone so we are still okay.  I’ve been debating on whether to talk numbers or not.  On one hand, it is the internet.  On the other, I love numbers.  So, I’ll tell you what I know so far.

House price: $28,000

Projected rehab budget (in August): $10,000

Projected rehab budget (in November): $15,000

Actual rehab spending (in January): $20,000

The craziest part of this budget is that I thought I was good at estimating costs.  Apparently not.  And if we sell it, after realtor’s fees and closing costs we will make less than $1 an hour.

Lessons learned

Oh, there are so many.

  1.  I thought I could do everything myself.  I really did.  I didn’t think I needed anyone’s help.  Then the first time I lifted a box of tile I knew I was in over my head (and upper body strength).  If it wasn’t for my husband (and dad’s) help on the nights and weekends, I’d still be at that house covered in grout and tears.
  2. It’s probably going to cost about double what you estimate.
  3. It’s probably going to take you double the amount of time you estimated.
  4. You’re probably going to wish you never started.
  5. You’re probably going to be glad you did it!

The good

We learned so much.  I know this project wasn’t a big success, but I don’t think we could have learned any other way.  I think sometimes you just have to jump in.  And fail.  And jump in again.  And fail a little less.  Eventually you will succeed, right?

Overall, I’m really glad we did it.  If we didn’t, I’d still be watching HGTV thinking I was hidden genius at house flipping.  Now, I’m pretty content just watching HGTV knowing who the experts really are…and I’m pretty sure it’s not the people on tv 🙂

Maybe I’ll feel more like an expert next time?  Wait… did I just say next time?






Pink and Rick Ran Away

IMG_1097“The dogs are gone,” my husband said, bursting through the bedroom door this morning.

“Ehhhh…what?” I asked, trying to figure out 3 questions:  what time was it, where was I, and what was going on? I figured out the first two questions pretty quickly.  It was 6:53.  I was in my bed.

“I thought we brought them inside to sleep last night,” I said.

“We did.  I took them outside a couple hours ago to use the bathroom.”

I got up.

“Their collars are in the yard.  I’m going to look for them,” he said.  He left.

My husband was gone.  The baby was still asleep, so I decided to look for clues.  Based on what I knew, I started to worry.  First thought: they’ve been stolen.  Someone saw these 100+ pound majestic creatures and couldn’t resist finding out how much kibble they could eat.

Or, since it’s duck season, someone thought they would be the perfect companions and decided to grab them and ditch their collars in the yard.

I went outside to investigate and I knew by looking at the hole in the middle of our fence, I was wrong.  They weren’t stolen.  They ate through the fence and escaped.  This kind of mania was fueled by one thing: Rick’s secret.

You see, we’ve been dealing with a problem for a couple years now: Rick has TSS.  Also known as Thunder Shock Syndrome (I made that up…clever?).  He’s terrified of thunder.  Last time we had a storm, we put the dogs in kennels underneath the carport to help them feel safe.  It didn’t work.  Rick ate his way through his kennel from the inside.   Then, he managed to squeeze his huge body through the hole he created.  We found him underneath Jared’s truck in the driveway.  And, we found a huge, fury filled fur ball under our carport.

Back to this morn.  After realizing that the dogs weren’t stolen by a duck hunting Cruella D’Ville, I called my husband. “Any update?” I asked.

“I just found Pink about a half a mile from the house.”

I started to cry.  I was so relieved. Things have been kind of crazy lately, and I really didn’t want to add losing my dogs to the list.

“Rick must be close,” I said.  The puppies always travel in a pack.

But, he wasn’t.  Jared drove every street in our subdivision, and there was no sign of Ricky.  Ten minutes later, Jared called.  “I’m coming back to drop Pink off.”

I let Pink inside when he got back.  I could tell my husband was worried about Rick.

“I know it’s early, but I’m going to the animal shelter,” said as he walked out of the door.

Twenty minutes later, I called him.  “Any luck?” I asked.

“No,” he said, “I’ve been everywhere.”

I started to cry.  Pink and Rick are so close, I seriously doubt they can survive alone.  And I couldn’t imagine not having Rick.  Those crazy puppies are such a big part of our life.  We’ve had them practically our whole marriage.  It would be devastating to lose them.

“Go check outside again,” my husband said.  “Maybe you will see him down the road.”

I slid on Jared’s boots and waddled to the back door.  I opened it and looked down.  A giant, wet, crazy dog licked my leg.  “He’s here!” I screamed in the phone.  “This crazy ass dog came home!”

My husband sighed.  “I didn’t know where else to look, Kels,” he said.

“Well the crazy asses are back!  Please come home,” I said.

I haven’t been this relieved in a loooooooong time.  Even though, I’m pretty sure Rick just came back to get some breakfast, at least he came home.  We are going to make a Thunder Survival Plan for next time if you have any tips.

Stay warm!  Hope you are doing well!



Happy Birthday Pink and Rick

I want to say thank you.  It means a lot to me that you are reading this.  I love to write, and every time someone tells me they read my blog (it happens very very very occasionally :))  it makes me extremely happy.  So, if you’re here, thank you.

I’ve been lost in the cave of motherhood.  At first, I couldn’t find the opening of the cave.  I was buried under sleepless nights and breastfeeding.  I felt like a straight up mammal (as opposed to a crooked mammal).

Now, I think I’ve found the opening of the cave, and I’m clawing my way back into the light.  It lies somewhere between 6 hours of consecutive sleep and a freezer full of milk.  I hope to make it out of the cave and into the fresh air by the end of the year.

To all you mothers and fathers out there, all I can say is, “Daaaaaaannnnnnngggggg.  You make it look easy!”

In an effort to come back into the fresh air of the blogosphere, I thought I’d write about the two original subjects of this blog, my dogs: Pink and Rick.

They turned four last month!!!  So, of course we had a party and photo shoot.  Our goal was to take pictures of Vera Faye and her furry brothers together… with birthday hats on.

Every year, we’ve taken pictures of the dogs with hats on.  So, getting a baby involved should be no problem, right?

It always starts off the same.  We put the party hats on the dogs, and they run into the ditch.

photo 4

I’m not sure why having a party hat on makes you want to run into the ditch, but these dogs have a serious urge.

Then, after they calm down a while, they usually shape up.  So, we brought the baby out.  After tons of coaxing we got Pink to set down next to Vera Faye.

photo 2

We were so close to a birthday picture.

Wait, where’s Rick?  Well, apparently he decided he was DONE.  He stormed off.

over it

Do you see the hat still hanging off of his head? 😉

Can you believe this dog?  #diva.  He decided he was done and swung his big booty to the back yard.  I’m not sure if it he was mad at the baby or that we weren’t letting him play in the ditch, but he had a serious attitude.

So, it was over.  I gave up.  Pink and Vera Faye would have to commemorate the fourth birthday without Rick.  I put up my phone.

Fortunately, about an hour later Rick seemed to be in a better mood, and my husband decided to give it one more shot.  And here it is: the birthday picture.  Happy 4th Birthday Puppies!

photo 1

Rick doesn’t know that Vera Faye is about to get his tail.

So, just like Rick came out of his Diva Cave to take a picture, I’m coming out of my new mother cave.  Having an infant is still hard, but we’re getting into a rhythm… sort of!  To celebrate, I decided to make homemade bread.  I don’t have a picture of it because we ate it too fast, but it was turkey shaped.

Why did it look like a turkey?  Well, I didn’t have a bread loaf pan.  I improvised and just threw the lump of dough on a cookie sheet.  Somehow, it came out looking like a turkey.

It didn’t taste like a turkey.  It tasted delicious.  Like fresh air.