9/27/2016

7 Stunning Before & After Photos of Our Home

For more than a month we've been renovating our fixer-upper.

We've spent our evenings apart ripping out carpet and drapes, refinishing floors and counter tops, researching appliances and scheduling installations.

We've run into major hiccups along the way -- like the asbestos scare, needing to purchase (er, finance...) a new furnace and AC, faulty plumbing and electric and gas lines. We weren't prepared for all of it and these home renovations have taken a toll on our pocketbook, but we've somehow survived, and we're SO EXCITED to take you inside our new home!

Come on in!

Here are 7 Stunning Before & After Photos of Our Home:
Before & After Photos of Our Home
Before & After Photos of Our Home
7 Stunning Before & After Photos of Our Home
Before & After Photos of Our Home
Before & After Photos of Our Home
Before & After Photos of Our Home
Before & After Photos of Our Home
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9/26/2016

How to Beautifully Update Your Kitchen For Less than $100

This post is sponsored by Giani Granite. This post contains affiliate links. As always, thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make this blog possible!
How to Beautifully Update Your Kitchen With Giani Granite For Less than $100
With the unexpected cost of a new furnace and AC, our budget for updates in our fixer-upper plummeted.
How to Beautifully Update Your Kitchen With Giani Granite For Less than $100
Our original plans included updating the wood-paneled kitchen with fresh paint, new appliances and counter tops.

But with those unexpected expenses allocated elsewhere, we bid our dream kitchen goodbye...or so we thought.
How to Beautifully Update Your Kitchen For Less than $100
Our painters patched the paneling, sanded, patched and sanded some more.
How to Beautifully Update Your Kitchen For Less than $100
But when the dust settled (er, was sucked up by this trusty thing), those plain white counter-tops were still there.

My Pinterest searches led me to Giani Countertop Paint.

In 4 EASY steps (see progression below), our kitchen was beautifully transformed!How to Beautifully Update Your Kitchen With Giani Granite Countertops For Less than $100
Can you believe it?!
How to Beautifully Update Your Kitchen With Giani Granite Countertops For Less than $100
Not only are these counter-tops stunning, the process was affordable and EASY to do -- if I can do it, anyone can!
Now ((drum roll, please))...welcome to our NEW KITCHEN!
How to Beautifully Update Your Kitchen With Giani Granite Countertops For Less than $100
Can you believe this is the same kitchen?!
How to Beautifully Update Your Kitchen For Less than $100
Check back tomorrow for a home reveal with more before & after photos from our fixer-upper.
How to Beautifully Update Your Kitchen For Less than $100Meanwhile, who's ready to tackle the refrigerator with this stuff?! ;)

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9/23/2016

An Exciting Update On 'Best Blog' Award

We're knee-deep in moving boxes.

And 2/5 of us are sick with a stomach bug.

It's been a while since I've been able to fire up my laptop, but yesterday I plopped down at our kitchen table (one of three, by the way -- hello, big house!), and saw the subject line:

Update on Best Blog Award

Truthfully, I had forgotten this was a thing.

And when my eyes read the subject line I had a feeling it was an update that another fabulous blogger had won this coveted national award for her significant contributions to the infertility community. I was simply honored to be listed among five of the very best...

I clicked the subject line and my eyes immediately saw, "CONGRATULATIONS!"

You guys. I am humbled. Honored. And so incredibly grateful to have been chosen as the recipient of the 2016 Hope Award for Best Blog.

What a true privilege it is to be recognized for something so close to my heart.

I can't wait to see you on stage at RESOLVE's Night of Hope Gala in New York City!

Thank you for this tremendous honor.

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I Wish I Knew How Much I'd Miss Being Pregnant

9/21/2016

I Wish I Had Known How Much I'd Miss Being Pregnant

Every night after I tucked my 2 and 1-year old daughters into bed, I'd sneak back downstairs.

I'd arm myself with the ice cream scoop, grab a tub of Blue Bunny and plop my big-bellied self down on the couch.

I'd spent the whole day waddling around the pitter-pattering feet of my toddlers, but now it was time for me to focus on that miracle growing inside my belly.

With my feet kicked up for the night, the creamy, chilled scoops of ice cream were well-earned relaxation from a carton. Each spoonful was sweet enough to get her rolling, punching and somersaulting.

I'd count her kicks and log 'em on my phone -- usually 10 within 10-minutes. And then I'd watch her tumble across my belly until she'd nestle in and get comfy for the night.

I wish I had known how much I'd miss moments like this from my pregnancy.

I wish I had known how much I'd miss tossing and turning each night; the moments where it seemed like she and I were the only two awake in the world.

I wish I had known how much I'd yearn for her jabs to the bladder and ribs; her gentle and sometimes not-so-subtle reminders she's still there, and she's okay.
I Wish I Had Known How Much I'd Miss Being Pregnant


I wish I had known how much I'd miss taking selfies in the bathroom mirror; how much I'd long for the days of watching my husband's old t-shirts progressively shrink into tight-fitting crop tops, barely covering the front of my growing belly.

And how much I'd miss driving to the doctor's office with my toddlers in tow for monthly and weekly appointments; how much I'd miss the anticipation of the nurse calling my name in the waiting room and whisking me back to hear the thump-thumps of her heartbeat or watch her little arms wiggle and legs flutter across the ultrasound screen.

I wish I had known how much I'd miss the justification to eat heaps of shredded pork, gas station donuts and Hot Tamales. Oh, those Hot Tamales...

I wish I had known how much I'd miss her big sisters eagerly stretching their arms across my belly to feel her kicks and resting their heads on their new squishy pillow while talking to their baby sister about this big, beautiful world she was about to see.

I wish I had known how much I'd miss the anticipation of her birth -- her beautiful, grand entrance into the world. How much I'd miss watching her take her first breath, whimper out her first cry and take her first glimpse into her Mommy and Daddy's eyes.

I wish I had known how much I'd miss those moments; the quiet moments of just me and her; the moments where I was the only person she knew, where I was enough and all she needed; where the bond we shared was something only we knew and understood.

While I'm incredibly grateful she's here, I wish I had known how truly fast my nine months with her would go.

I wish I had known how much I'd miss being pregnant.

This post also appeared on TODAY Parents.

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9/15/2016

The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World

This post is sponsored by Holiday Inn brand. As always, thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make this blog possible!

Beep, Beep, BEEEEP...4:30 a.m. came fast. Too fast.

We'd been up all night popping zippers off our luggage while packing for vacation.

It felt like we'd just closed our eyes before our alarm clocks were blaring at us.

So we shuffled downstairs, brewed some strong coffee on the Keurig, loaded up our minivan with diapers, bottles, sippy cups, snacks...and more snacks; and we buckled our sleepy kiddos securely into their car seats before driving on the dark interstate to the airport.

With our three daughters in tow plus two suitcases, two carry-ons, a diaper bag, purse and MASSIVE, heavy car seats, we huffed and puffed our way down from the fifth floor of the long-term parking garage and into the airport where ((drum roll, please...)) Grandma and Grandpa were waiting!

With their arms stretched wide for big hugs from their squealing granddaughters, Chris and I were finally able to catch our breath.

We could totally do this flying-with-three-kids thing...with their help. 

Hand-in-hand with Grandma and Grandpa, our giggly toddlers smiled and skipped their way through the security line.

They talked about airplanes and Mickey Mouse and swimming at our hotel until we boarded the plane.

The tiny plane.

The aisles were so small, I could barely squeeze into Row 17 without hitting my head on the carry-on compartments, let alone carry in our children and belongings.

Thankfully, my parents were there to help buckle them safely into their seats.
And just like that we were off on an adventure.

It was an adventure that included four flights at three airports with two layovers, a very squirmy 1-year old, a loud 3-year old and a smiley-but-sometimes fussy 5-month old.

"Thank God my parents are here," I said as I rested my head on my husband's shoulder and watched our teething baby girl old smile at her grandma; both were sitting across the aisle.
After sprinting through the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport to catch our connecting flight (YOU'RE WELCOME FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT, FELLOW FLYERS), we found ourselves on the final stretch to Orlando. And before we knew it, we were unlocking the doors to relaxation and fun at our home away from home: Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orange Lake.
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orange Lake
This 3-bedroom 1,700 square foot villa was perfect for our crew. 
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orange Lake
The girls claimed their beds right away, but with swimming pools, hammocks and a lazy river at the resort, their bedtimes were pushed back -- after all, there was fun to be had!
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orange Lake
We woke up the next morning to the Florida sunshine beaming through the patio windows and the smell of freshly ground coffee brewing in the kitchen.
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
Then we hopped in our rental car and drove a few miles down the road where we had reservations for a special breakfast at Disney.

As if on cue, one of the girls had to go potty and another needed a new diaper (and new outfit, eh hem...), and we nearly missed our reservation. Grandma and Grandpa to the rescue. We weren't gonna miss this memorable breakfast buffet with Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, too.
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
Maybe the red velvet pancakes hot off the griddle and assorted gummy bear toppings had something to do with it, but this breakfast was so much fun.
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
As I sipped my coffee, I couldn't help but sit back and smile.
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
The girls were just as excited to see their favorite Disney characters as they were to share these breakfast memories with their Grandma and Grandpa.

And as the days continued, I began to realize it's them who made this trip so special.

It's them who captured these candid moments of our family meeting Mickey Mouse for the first time...
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
It's them who shared epic proportions of dessert after dinner...
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
It's them who danced to the girls' drumbeats in the streets of Harambe in the Animal Kingdom...
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
It's them who cooked heaps of pancakes and sausage and sliced up fresh, juicy peaches for us to enjoy in our pajamas...
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orange Lake
It's them who kept the girls smiling in long lines to meet Donald Duck...
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
Who rode safaris...
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
...and pushed strollers and made cardboard cutouts of cars outside Dino-Rama seem like the most fun thing in the world.
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
They made the "Happiest Place on Earth" even happier because they were there.
The Important Lesson My Kids Taught Me At Disney World
If you ask my daughters about their Florida vacation and who they saw they'll be the first to say, "Grandma and Grandpa." They'll follow-up shortly with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, of course. But at the very top of that list -- the highlight of their vacation -- is spending time with Grandma and Grandpa.

And that's when it hit me -- after all the preparing for our Disney trip (the breakfast reservations, the food, the outfits, the Magic Kingdom "Fast Pass" selections...), my children taught me an important lesson:

It's not about where you are; it's about who you're with. It's about who you're sharing the journey with that makes it extraordinary. And there is nothing more pure and genuine than the love of a Grandma and Grandpa.

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Tomorrow

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Holiday Inn. The opinions and text are all mine.