Monday, August 18, 2014

First Day of Pre-K!!

Today was Sara Kate's first day of Pre-K.
 I can't believe my baby's in Pre-K!  This is the last step before kindergarten!!
 It seems like just yesterday she was going to her first day of school ever.
And now she's on her last 'first day' at her school at this stage of her little life.
I was looking at her take home packet today and was super impressed by their goals for the year...recognition of numbers 1-100, counting by 1s, 5s, 10s, and 25s, planet recognition, state recognition, telling time, basic reading, addition and subtraction...just to name a few.  Also, ironically her teacher is from El Dorado, my hometown!  But I don't know her.  Small world!
"Mommy, does this say 1st Day of Pre-K?"
 She's getting SO big, and I love her so much!!
Oh, and when she grows up she says she wants to be Queen Elsa.  And when I asked her what she wants to do for a job when she grows up she said she wants to cook in the kitchen.  Ha!! :-)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

My Little Swimmer

If you recall in a blog I wrote earlier in the summer, Sara Kate was scared of the pool (around the middle of June).  She didn't want to get off the steps.  Then a couple weeks after that she got brave and was swimming all over the pool with floaties.  By July 4th weekend she was going off the diving board like a champ (with floaties) and wasn't scared at all.  I was thrilled with her progress.  I knew she needed swim lessons, and she started them second week of July.  Last year she did them at the Fayetteville city pool, but this year we decided to go with semi-private lessons at the Fayetteville Athletic Club.  It was Monday-Thursday for 30 minutes each day and it was $80.  And I can honestly say it was the best $80 I spent all summer!  In fact week 1 went so well, I signed her up for a second week of lessons and my mom was kind enough to foot the bill for week 2.  And again, I think it was the best $80 spent!!
The first week was spent mostly with the instructor working on getting Sara Kate to use her arms.  The little boy with her in class had taken a couple of weeks of lessons and he was more advanced than her.  I think it was great for Sara Kate to be able to see what he could do.  They would swim from the lane rope to the side, back and forth, back and forth, with their teacher working hard on getting Sara Kate to use her arms.  My mom made me realize why she wasn't using her arm...she said it was because Sara Kate never had to use her arms when she would wear floaties.  Made perfect sense.
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One big thing she learned in week 1 was how to tread water.  I am SO glad she learned this skill, and she picked it up very quickly.
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Another thing they worked on was back floating, but Sara Kate was having NONE of that.  She was afraid and didn't want for her teacher to let go of her.
That weekend we went to a friends pool to work on her new skills.  She still wasn't doing very well at using her arms, but she was able to swim her way across the pool, which I was very impressed by.
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Week 2 started out with a BANG!!  All of a sudden Sara Kate learned she can swim with her face in the water!!  And she started using her arms!  I was SO proud of her!  Once again, she was paired with a little boy who was slightly more advanced than her.  I don't know if that was part of her deciding to swim with her face in the water or what, but semi-private lessons were amazing for that reason!
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After that, everything seemed to click.  She also decided that she was just fine floating on her back by herself!!  In fact, she loved floating on her back.
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After day 1 of week 2, they moved out of the lap pool and into the big open pool.  This gave the kids more of an opportunity to really swim, and I think it made a huge difference for Sara Kate.  She was using her arms, putting her face in the water to swim, and she even figured out how to come up for a breath and put her face back in the water to continue swimming.
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 By the end of the second week, she had made SO much progress.  A couple weeks later we went swimming again at a friends pool and she swam the length of the pool by herself.  I can't say it enough, I am just SO proud of her progress this summer.
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Since my surgery is Friday, we went swimming for the last time yesterday.  I love watching her splash around having so much fun.  I'm such a water person, I love swimming with her.  There's no rest and relaxation time at the pool when you have a little one with no flotation device, but it's ok.  I do not want her to be afraid of the water, and I want her to love it as much as I do.  I think we're on the right track!  I'm also SO thankful to our friends who let us crash their pools all summer.  THANK YOU Morton's and Brawners!! :-)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Kitchen Makeover

There's been a lack of blogging (alot lately) but more so recently because Chris and I have been engrossed in quite the project here at home!  Let me start this by saying our house was built in 1998 and we bought it at the height of the housing boom in 2006, about 9 months after we got married.  It was supposed to be our '5-year-starter-home' that has turned into our '8.5-years-later-and-we're-still-here-home,' thanks to the housing bubble busting!  Our house was fine when it was just us but it's a little tighter with a kid and all her stuff!  We've done lots of updates to our house over the years, but one project we've never tackled or even discussed is the kitchen.  It's open, which is great, but it's small with not much counter space, not to mention I hate the counter tops.  Back in July I got a wild hare, started looking online, and then I mentioned to Chris a couple of 'easy' ways we could update...including painting the kitchen cabinets, painting the walls, and possibly getting new counter tops.  Well, we looked into new counter tops and decided it's out of the budget, but surprisingly enough, he was completely on board with painting the cabinets!!  Here's the before.
 
Once we decided to do the project we did it right away because there wasn't much time left in Chris' summer break.  We did read lots of blogs about painting cabinets and Chris watched lots of videos on YouTube before we got started (we started on July 28, which was a Monday).
We started taking things out of the cabinets and drawers on Monday and Tuesday night.  We carefully piled things in the guest room, and yep, it ended up looking like the kitchen threw up in the spare bedroom!
Tuesday night after we finished cleaning out, we taped.  Chris took the cabinet doors off on Wednesday afternoon and cleaned everything really good with a de-greaser, and he primed the cabinets in the kitchen Wednesday night.
Thursday afternoon he primed the cabinet doors, which were set up in the garage.
 
Thursday night we started painting, applying the first coat on the cabinets.  The color we chose was 'Antique White,' and we used Valspar Signature latex paint.  We did not do any sanding, as we felt it wasn't necessary based on what our cabinets were like.  So we did save ourselves a step there and it worked out fine.
Each night we couldn't really start working until after Sara Kate went to bed, which was around 8:30.  We knew we had the hard stuff left to do on Friday night and Saturday, and Chris' mom was kind enough to take Sara Kate as soon as we got home Friday.  She kept her Friday night and all day Saturday, which was amazing.  Friday night we put a second coat of paint on the cabinets in the kitchen and headed into the garage to paint the doors. 
We painted the back side of the doors Friday night and luckily they were dry enough Saturday morning for us to flip them over.  The front of the doors was a tedious process because of the beveling.  I used a fancy brush we bought (a Purdy brand brush...I actually used this brush to get around the moulding on the cabinets too) around all the edges and the beveling and Chris came behind me and rolled.  Once the first coat was on the doors we had to wait a while...we wanted to make sure it was good and dry before doing the second coat.  We applied the first coat about 9:00 Saturday morning, went and ran some errands, and applied the second coat around 3:30 that afternoon.
Once we finished the doors we came back inside and touched up anything we felt needed touching up.  Sunday afternoon we carefully peeled off the tape and put the appliances back.  What a difference already!
I don't know if you can tell in the picture above, but we had a lovely fluorescent light that absolutely HAD to be changed while we were updating!!  Chris' dad came over Sunday afternoon and they made a trip to Home Depot while I stayed home with Sara Kate.  The fluorescent light left small holes in the ceiling and they had to so some screwing into the ceiling to set the mount for a new light.
Unfortunately the light fixture Chris bought busted in his hands while he was installing it.  So back to Home Depot we all went.  Sara Kate loved 'driving the car.'
We got a different kind of light fixture, nothing fancy, and it was installed with no problems.  So much better!!
The last thing we had to do was decide on hardware.  Originally we had no knobs or pulls in the kitchen and we definitely wanted to add some.  We looked at Lowe's and Home Depot and couldn't really agree on anything.  Chris went by Target after school Tuesday afternoon and looked at what they had...who knew Target had that kind of stuff!!  He sent me some pictures and we actually agreed a set!  I went to Target that night to look at them, verify that's what I wanted, and buy them.  I had a $100 gift card to Target and they were cheaper than what we saw at Lowe's or Home Depot, a win-win!!  Wednesday morning Chris started installing and by Wednesday night it was all done and put back together.  What a difference painting the cabinets and installing hardware made!  We love how it turned out.
 
The final thing we were going to do was paint the walls.  When we moved into our house almost every room was yellow.  Over the years, we've painted almost every room and the kitchen was one of the last remaining yellow rooms.  Based on the picture I was using as a guide during this whole process, I had my mind set on some variation of a light green (as you can see in the picture above, I had green paint samples leaned up against the wall).  I thought painting the walls green would blend with the green counter tops and make them less noticeable.  Chris was not really on board with this idea and was kind of pushing aside the idea of painting the walls.  I talked to an interior designer friend at church on Sunday, told her what we had done, and told her what I wanted to do for paint.  She's been to our house before, but I showed her some pictures of what the kitchen looked like after painting the cabinets and she immediately said do NOT paint green!  She said paint grey and she even gave me a paint color, Ozark Shadows by Benjamin Moore.  She said grey would do a better job of blending in with the green counter tops and would even mask some of the green.  She showed me a fabric that had grey, green, blue, white, and chocolate brown, and she pointed out how well the colors blended together.  This is the same friend who told us to paint our living room chocolate brown several years ago and we did it without hesitation, and to this day we still love it.  So once again, without hesitation I said ok to the grey!  I didn't think we would do it right away but Sunday afternoon Chris told me to go buy a sample, then changed his mind and said just buy a gallon.  We bought Valspar Signature, latex paint, egg shell finish, in Ozark Shadows.
Originally we were going to tape Sunday night and paint Monday but somehow we ended up doing the whole thing Sunday afternoon and evening.  We did touch ups Monday evening.
 
 
Below is the finished product once the tape was removed.  It's a complete 180 from where the kitchen was 2 weeks ago.
 Once again, here are the BEFORE pictures.
And AFTER
 
We still have to put the blinds back up, window treatments, rugs, and some decorating, but I'm really pleased with the way things turned out.  Sitting in the living room and looking into the kitchen you can't even tell the counter tops are green, they look grey, and in daylight it's less obvious too.  New counter tops aren't completely out of the question and is something we'll address at a later date.  And I am planning to incorporate the fabric Cecily showed me to help pull things together, also.
So that's what we've been up to lately!  It's been quite a project and we have stayed busy over the last couple of weeks, but in the end, we are very glad we made these changes!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Plan

So I've been waiting to post this for a week now and today I finally got the final piece of the puzzle.  Let me back up. 

Remember when I was in the hospital last month?  See here and here if needed.  Well since then, I've been home and on steroids.  I had a doctor's appointment on June 24, and at that time he started to taper my steroid dosage and scheduled a CT scan on July 15 and a colonoscopy on July 16.  The CT was no problem. I had to be at the outpatient imagining center at 8 am, I drank the drink (which was just 32 oz of metallic tasting water), got the scan, and I was at work by 10:30.  
Yep, selfie in the waiting room.  I'm so cool.
That night my mother in law took Sara Kate because I knew I would be in no business to parent, as I had to do the dreaded colon cleanse.  Remember the gallon of prep I had to drink in the hospital before the first scope?  
 
Yeah. Not cool.  Well this time it wasn't a gallon, thankfully.  It was 2-16 oz drinks of pure horribleness, which were consumed 5 hours apart, and each was followed by 32 oz of water within the hour.  
2 of these mixed with water, followed by 32 oz of water
I was using Diet Coke as a chaser (the lemonade in the background did NOT work and I didn't have anything else here) and I tried envision myself as a colon cleansing 'STAR' (thank you Diet Coke for your inspiration) whilst chasing...alas, it didn't work, HA!
I can't describe how awful this stuff is.  Like bad, salty cough syrup with the worst after taste you can imagine. Actually, that description doesn't even begin to describe how bad it was.  I finally went to bed about 1:30 am and was up at 4:30 am because we had to be at the hospital at 6 am.
 
I got checked in and was in the room by 7:00.
More selfie fun.  This is my 'ET Phone Home' finger.
While we waited, I had no cell reception but I learned how to do a panorama with my phone.  Again, I'm so cool.  HA!!  So here's the colonoscopy room (minus what was behind my bed) if anyone is interested!
 The scope was scheduled for 7:30 and Dr. Rogers finally came in around 8 (which was good because I wasn't expecting to see him before the procedure).  He told us (me and mom) the CT showed the right side of my colon looks much better and the left side is the bad side, the diseased side, and that's the side with the stricture.  His thought was he would be removing the left side, but he said, "lets see what the scope shows."  Well, turns out colonoscopy #2 was just like colonoscopy #1...he couldn't get through the stricture, therefore it couldn't be completed.  He told me at my appointment in June that hopefully the steroids would 'soften it' and he could try to use a balloon to push through, but the stricture wasn't softened by the steroids and it was so hard and fibrous he was afraid of tearing something so the balloon wasn't an option.  So I suppose the status rest of my colon remains a mystery (apart from what they can see on the CT).  I was told his office would call me the next day to schedule surgery, and if they didn't call I was to call them.  So Thursday I waited and waited and finally called them about 3:30.  Turns out their 'scheduler' was out until Monday so she would call me then.  Great, waiting through the weekend.  Awesome.  Not. Oh well. Weekend fun still ensued, despite my wait, thanks to this cutie...
 
 And thanks to my awesome mama who stayed through the weekend.
Monday came and went, Tuesday came and went, and I finally called them back Wednesday afternoon.  Well their scheduler was still out, due to sickness.  Frustration!!  That is a circumstance beyond anyone's control but it still upset me.  Never thought this "little" colon problem would drag out all summer.  They finally called this afternoon, with their first available surgery on August 18.  Nope, not gonna work...that's the first day of school.  She gave me a couple of other options, I called Chris, and we decided on August 22 as D-Day.  
So I have surgery scheduled on August 22, with a pre-op appointment on August 20 at the hospital and a pre-op appointment with Dr. Rogers on the same day.  So that's the plan.  In the meantime, I've tapered completely off my steroids, which is good, but it makes me nervous at the same time.  I'm definitely ready for the wacky steroid side effects to be gone (night sweats, being wired, hungry all the time, and the 2 worst side effects at the moment in my mind are fat face and swollen, puffy stomach thanks to the 'fat deposits' steroids cause...and no amount of running or sit ups are helping that!), but I hope nothing flares up in the next month while I'm on no medicine and waiting for surgery.  So that's that!  I'm relieved it's scheduled, but all of a sudden I'm quite nervous and scared.  The only surgery I've ever had was tubes in my ears and adenoids out when I was 4.  My mind set all along has been there's no need to dwell on the negatives because what's going to be will be.  So I'll continue to try to stay in a positive place throughout the next month.
An office selfie post phone call from the doctor's office because...well, why not...this blog is full of goofy selfie's! :-)
Your prayers are still very much appreciated, and I'll keep the blog updated!

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.  Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  
-Philippians 4:6-7

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

4th of July Weekend

I know I'm a couple days behind, but a super fun weekend has come and gone.  In fact, it was so much fun!  Chris found it to be exhausting, but I found it to be quiet relaxing.  Maybe that's because I'm still hyped up on steroids, ha!!  I got off work early Thursday and picked Sara Kate up from school.  We came home, had dinner and went to dance, before heading to the Northwest Arkansas mall to see the firework show! We met up with our sweet friends, the Vann's, and we sat in a field beside the movie theatre.  It was a great location!  Sara Kate was so excited to see Landry and watch the fireworks with her.  I love these sweet girls so much. They are so precious together.  Sara Kate brought her princesses so they could play while they waited.  And once the fireworks started they sat together and ate popcorn. 
 
Love this picture!!
 
This was our second year to go watch the firework show at the mall, and I'd say it's a great tradition we'll continue in future years!

Friday morning we were up, playing early, and waiting for some very special visitors.  My brother and sister-in-law were coming for a visit from Memphis!  We haven't seen them since Christmas so we were all very excited.  I didn't tell Sara Kate they were coming, but once they got here she started being so goofy and showing off because she was so excited.  We cooked some burgers for lunch before heading out for a fun pool day.
Happy Independence Day from the Michaels family!
Remember my blog from a couple of weeks ago about the little girl who was terrified to get off the steps and clung to me like a monkey??  Well that girl is GONE!!  In the last 2 weeks we have made MAJOR progress on the swimming front.  She's swimming by herself, jumping off the side, and even jumping off the diving board all by herself!!  I am SO proud of her!  
 
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We spent a couple hours at the pool swimming before it started clouding over pretty good.  We stopped for ice cream on the way home before spending the evening at home cooking out, eating yummy food, and listening to the war zone that was our neighborhood thanks to everyone shooting off fireworks! Sara Kate was exhausted so I had her in bed by 8:30, before the fireworks started going off around us, and thankfully she slept right through it all!

Saturday morning we had a little bit of lazy time before Uncle Phil and Aunt Holly got to see Sara Kate in action in her gymnastics class.  No pictures but she did get a ribbon for being a great listener that said 'I did my best for the Williams Center.'  She was proud of her 'rivvon,' as she called it.  We had a nice lunch downtown at Loafin' Joe's (if you haven't been there, go!  They make their own potato chips and bread...yum!), before doing a little shopping.
And after naps, it was time for more swimming!!  Once again, we had another great afternoon at the pool.
 
And once again, Sara Kate did amazing, swimming all over and going off the diving board over and over and over and over and over and over again.  These still shots crack me up, especially the tongue out, ha!!
 
And because I'm a proud mama, we have more video too. :-)
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And because Chris is a proud daddy, he took video in slow motion that he's pretty proud of!
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We took our left over BBQ from Friday night with us to the pool and shared it with our friends, the Morton's, whose pool we had been crashing all weekend.  We had a lovely visit and Sara Kate had fun in 'Mrs. Jane's house!'  We were in the back yard and she sat on this green bench and said, 'Mommy, look at this pretty green bench.  I'm going to sit on it and I want you to take my picture.  It's so pretty and it'll be such a cute picture.'  HAHA!!!  Ok baby girl, whatever you say! :-)
We got home in time for bath and another early bed time, before the fireworks started up again in our neighborhood.  I'm such a old lady when it comes to fireworks, ha!!

Sunday morning brought a lovely church service, brunch, and having to say goodbye to Uncle Phil and Aunt Holly.  We were sad to see them go, but we had an amazing weekend with them, and we're so thankful they came to visit.  I know Sara Kate had a blast with them.
So that was our super fun weekend.  I'm already looking forward to the next holiday weekend and a trip to Memphis soon to visit Phillip and Holly!