8/29/2016

What To Do If You See Risk of Asbestos

Let me preface this post with: Do as we say, friends. NOT AS WE DO.

Rip, rip, tear, toss.
Refinishing Hardwood Floor - What To Do If You See Risk of Asbestos
Saying farewell to the shaggy pink carpet in our fixer-upper was easy to do.

But when we hit the laundry room's section of white carpet, we found this buried underneath:
What To Do If You See Risk of Asbestos
Being the inquisitive and naive do-it-yourselfers we are, we went to town prying and chiseling up broken pieces of this vinyl tile.

Then our hands and knees were sliding across a layer of thick, black tar paper.

But we soon found ourselves staring at another layer of original hardwoods:
What To Do If You See Risk of Asbestos
It was a dirty job, but someone had to do it. So without any protective gear or masks, we did.

We spent an ENTIRE DAY removing tile and attempting to chip away tar paper to salvage the original floors. 

At 9:30 p.m., we called it a day.

We locked up the house and drove back to home to clean up.  

"Sure hope that tile didn't have asbestos," my hubby casually mentioned as he drove down the dark interstate.

The headlights of oncoming traffic shined on my panicked face like a spotlight.

OF COURSE my lungs immediately felt an impact from inhaling potentially dangerous carcinogens ALL DAY LONG. Someone might as well have admitted me to the ER.

We got home and tossed and turned all night, contemplating our stupidity and making plans to bulldoze our house before we even moved in.

If you think you see a risk of asbestos in your home, here's what you need to do:

1. Don't panic
Asbestos was commonly used in home building materials in the 1940s - 1970s. Prolonged exposure is what most folks should be concerned about. If you're like us and spent an entire day working with materials potentially containing asbestos, there's nothing you can do right now except the following:

  • Get material tested ASAP so it's disposed of properly if it does contain asbestos.
  • Order an air quality test inside your home should you find you've disturbed material containing asbestos.

2. Contact a local lab for testing
We called Iowa Environmental Services and arranged to drop off samples of the floor tiles and tar paper. Their phone number: (515) 279-8042

Obviously, it's better to get materials tested before you bust out the floor, but if you're like us (eh, hem...), it's still a good idea to get it tested afterward for peace of mind.

3. Let the pros handle it
When asbestos is disturbed, tiny particles and fibers become airborne and can easily be inhaled which can lead to lung damage and cancer. If your house contains asbestos, it's best to the let the pros handle it either by removing and sealing, or simply covering it up.

Related content:
7 Stunning Before & After Photos of Our Home
No, We're Not Crazy. Welcome To Our Fixer-Upper
How to Beautifully Update Your Kitchen for Less Than $100

8/24/2016

HOPE Award Nominee: What An Honor

Blog about Infertility, Adoption, Pregnancy and Motherhood
For years I've sat hunched over my laptop and poured my coffee soul to hundreds of thousands of you.

I've shared about our family's struggle with infertility, the whirlwinds of meeting and adopting our daughters and the surprise of a lifetime with our pregnancy this past year. I've written about leaving the TV biz to stay at home and the chaotic privilege of raising my three beautiful daughters.

You've emailed me and sent me messages on Facebook, celebrating the best of times with my family; and you've walked with us through some of the hardest.

It truly is a privilege to connect with so many of you. I don't write for profit or self-gain (although it is a dream of mine to author a book); I write because it's part of who I am. Everything else -- especially the friendships -- are just a bonus.

That's why when I received an email stating I was nominated for a nationally-recognized award, I got a bit emotional.
RESOLVE HOPE Award Best Blog Nominee
The lovely folks at RESOLVE (The National Infertility Association), selected five blogs they believe have made significant contributions to the infertility community.

After a public voting period, the winner will be presented with the Hope Award for Best Blog at RESOLVE's 19th annual Night of Hope Gala on November 15, 2016, in New York City.

I am among some of the very best and brightest and most articulate, brave infertility warriors.

What an absolute honor. 

Thank you for reading my little chunk of cyberspace; for sharing your stories; and for being such a wonderful part of my family's journey.

Now, time for a big ((group hug)) and some more coffee ;)

Click here to vote.
 
Related content:
The Surprise of a Lifetime: Announcing Our Pregnancy
Love At First Sight: Powerful Photos of Meeting Our Daughter | She's Ours
Our Daughter's Adoption Finalization [in Photos]
Our Journey to Addison

8/22/2016

The Best Around-The-Clock Baby Shower

The best things in life take a little time, right?!
The Best Around-The-Clock Baby Shower Theme
My brother and sister-in-law are a testament to that (read more about their long struggle with infertility here).

When it came time to plan this highly anticipated baby shower, we knew a 'ROUND-THE-CLOCK theme was perfect!
The Best Around-The-Clock Baby Shower
My graphic designer friend at Manda Julaine Designs whipped up these adorable invitations, and we suggested a gift "theme" for guests (i.e. bath time, bedtime, feeding time, etc.).

Guests devoured delicious chicken salad sandwiches from our favorite hometown coffee shop, Wild Carrot.
The Best Around-The-Clock Baby Shower
Everyone loved these gorgeous and delicious almond-flavored cookies from You Bake Me Happy.
The Best Around-The-Clock Baby Shower
And put together some cute party favors with these adorable mini bottles of wine (seriously, did you know they even MADE THESE?!) that read:
"Baby is coming, the time is near.
When you hear the news,
Open your bottle and send her a cheer!"
Baby Shower Wine Favors
My sister-in-law opened creative gifts for tummy time, travel time...you name it!
The Best Around-The-Clock Baby Shower
My sister and I were pretty proud of our group gift for "teething time" including a basket for baby with these necessities:
AND this basket of necessities for Mom and Dad! ;)
The Best Around-The-Clock Baby Shower
We also made sure to stock up the parents-to-be with diapers.

A pack of diapers earned guests a chance to win a $25 gift card to the #1 restaurant the mom-to-be has been craving: Little Caesar's! (Apparently, it's all about the crazy bread!)
Of course we couldn't get by without writing a few clever messages on some of the diaper stash for those late night changes!

Planning this 'Round-The-Clock Baby Shower has me eager to host another baby shower..and OF COURSE anxious to meet my little niece!

Have you been to a memorable baby shower? Do you have a favorite theme? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments!

Related content:
She's About to Pop Baby Shower
The BEST Gift Basket For New Moms
How To Survive Gestational Diabetes
Top Nine Gifts to Celebrate Adoptive Families

8/17/2016

No, We're Not Crazy. Welcome to Our Fixer Upper!

She gave the key a shimmy and pushed open the heavy wood door.

We stepped up from the covered concrete porch and cautiously peeked inside over our realtor's shoulders.

It smelled like it had been sitting empty for quite some time. This place needed air freshers years ago.

The 1970s pink carpet nearly disguised the spacious layout.
The heavy pink drapes almost covered up the built-ins in the formal dining area.
And the layers upon layers of wallpaper?
Well, that's another story...
We've done crazier things I suppose, but this fixer-upper is OURS and we're excited to make it our home!
We've had such an adventure this past year: moving 2-hours away for my hubby's job, finalizing our daughter's adoption, and then SURPRISE -- we found out we were pregnant and welcomed Addie to our crew 8-months later...
So it only makes sense to continue embracing the crazy that has become our lives, right?! 
And as crazy as this might seem -- to embark on a fixer-upper while juggling our three young daughters -- it kinda feels like this is part of our plan; like this place has been waiting for us to sell our house and move out of our 3-story, 2-bedroom rental all along.

No doubt about it, we've got our work cut out for us. But we're hoping to give ourselves the next few weeks getting it ready for us to move in. Then you can bet we're throwing THE BEST HOUSEWARMING PARTY on the planet. ;)

Related content:
How to Easily Save $10,000 in Home Renovations
7 Stunning Before & After Photos of our Fixer-Upper
What To Do If You See Risk of Asbestos

8/08/2016

Best 9 Gifts to Celebrate Adoptive Families

This post contains affiliate links.

I remember the whirlwind of bringing our oldest daughter home. I still can't believe it's been THREE YEARS.

After years of infertility and heartache, it felt like we waited so long to welcome a baby into our lives, when really it was a short 6-month adoption process (you can read more about it here). I wanted so badly to be treated like every other new mom -- embraced and loved just as much as moms who had given birth.

And I think a lot of parents via adoption feel the same way.

Here are 9 gift ideas for adoptive families:

1. Adoption-Friendly Baby Book/Journal

2. Children's Books


3. Freezer Meals
Freezer Meal Tips
Bonus points for disposable dishes :)
Click here for my favorite recipes and tips on successful freezer meal cooking.

4. Journal
A cute journal to remember the fleeting moments of motherhood.

5. Food Delivery
My go-to place to treat others with a delicious meal is Omaha Steaks.
CLICK HERE to SAVE $20 off of $50 by using my referral code! It's a great deal for a thoughtful meal (Also, you can include a note in your shipment as well as dessert!)

6. Photography Session
What better way to celebrate the new family than by covering a photo session for them with a local photographer?
(Click here to see photos from Olivia's adoption finalization and Kendra's adoption finalization.)

7. Personalized Gifts
A family's last name has a whole new meaning after an adoption is finalized. Consider getting a personalized gift for them to commemorate their recent adoption; custom wall art, notepads, and home decor make thoughtful gifts!


8. Photo Prints
Tiny Prints - Up to 30% Off
What family wouldn't some of their favorite photos printed and shipped to their doorstep? Offer to pick up the tab -- CLICK HERE for 20% off your photo order at TinyPrints.com!

9. Gift cards
Get the new family a gift card to the movies, bowling, or an activity they can do together. This dinner + movie bundle makes a great gift!

Related content:
Our Daughter's Adoption Finalization in Photos
The Best Around-The-Clock Baby Shower
She's Ours
The BEST Gift Basket for New Moms

8/02/2016

I Was in the Middle of I-380 the Minute She Was Born

It was a Thursday afternoon, and I was cooling off in the newsroom from the sweltering August heat and humidity. 

You’d think I’d be used to August in Iowa after nearly a decade of covering news in the Midwest, but there is no conditioning when it comes to these thick, muggy temps.

My scripts were approved for the 5 p.m. show, and I was reapplying the navy blue eyeliner that had melted off my face earlier in the day.

That’s when the police scanners started blaring.

Personal injury crash…Multiple injuries…Motorcyclists versus semi…we’re getting reports of multiple injuries…Possible fatalities.

Dispatchers began paging first responders. The high-pitched emergency tones were my signal to drop the make-up and get out the door. After all, breaking news is what the news business is all about.

By the time I rolled up to the scene with our news crew, traffic was at a stand-still.

I hung my pinstripe suit coat around the back of the passenger seat, grabbed my yellow notepad and walked along what was usually a busy interstate in my black Kenneth Cole heels. It was eerily quiet. In my years of covering breaking news, I had never seen Interstate-380 like this before.

Life for hundreds of commuters suddenly stopped.

A semi-truck transporting heavy farm equipment crashed into a group of motorcyclists on the interstate. Three of them were dead.

At this same time – the very moment I was covering the fatalities of three motorcyclists in the middle of an interstate – there was a baby girl hundreds of miles away taking her first breath in this world.

I didn’t know it, but I would become her mom.

I was in the middle of I-380 the minute my daughter was born.

I was covering tragedy when my daughter’s birth momma welcomed our 6-pound baby girl into this world; she was preparing for her own heartbreak – one of saying goodbye to the precious life she lovingly brought into this world.

I’m grateful my daughter spent her first moments in this big world with her birth mom – moments they’ll never have together again.

And while I’m sad I missed watching her take her first breath, her first bottle; while I missed changing her first diaper, and the moment she snagged her first peek at the world through her most beautiful brown eyes…I sure am grateful I get to spend the rest of my life loving this sweet gal. 
Reflecting on 3 years with daughter after adoption
Happy 3rd birthday, Olivia. What an honor it is to be chosen as your mom. 


Related content:

8/01/2016

The Bittersweetness Of Saying Goodbye To Babyhood

For three years, I've been a mom...and a stylist on the side.

I've washed and detangled, twisted and banded. I've tried styles that have turned out beautiful, styles that have flopped (literally), and just about everything in between.

I knew the day was coming where I'd have to hand over the hair styling reigns; where I'd need to take her to a salon because I'd want my daughter to experience what it's like to have a woman who resembles her do her hair.
Tutus and Tennis Shoes Children's Salon
Then I blinked and it happened.
TuTus and Tennis Shoes Children's Salon
My daughter clenched my hand as we walked in the front doors of Tutus & Tennis Shoes.

She was greeted promptly with a juice box and fruit snack. Totally her love language ;)

After some "fairy shampoo" and "princess spray," I sat and watched a beautiful black woman braid my daughter's curly hair, effortlessly adding sets of clear beads to the tips of each three-strand section.
Tutus and Tennis Shoes Salon
My daughter's face lit up and she smiled when she saw herself in the mirror with clear beads hanging on her long locks.

And I smiled, too.

Because even though I felt like we officially said goodbye to babyhood (and our once tiny 6-pound baby), I was happy. I was happy for my daughter and the confidence that radiated from her when she spun around the salon in her new 'do.

I was happy when she ran inside the house to tell her daddy how beautiful her hair was and excitedly show off her braids and beads to her little sisters.
Tutus and Tennis Shoes Children's Salon
And I was happy to once again be reminded that where I may fall short -- as a white woman raising a black daughter -- there are beautiful women of color like Kanisha who can fill in the gaps; who encourage young girls to be themselves, embrace their natural beauty and be proud of who they are -- both inside and out; and who show young girls like my daughter that black is beautiful.

Related content:
Hands Off: My Daughter's Hair is Not An Exhibit