Life on Cottage Hill: PAGES

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter weekend

Happy Easter (a few days late)! This weekend we celebrated two momentous occasions: Easter and my niece Josie's first birthday. JP and I were really happy that Dan was able to stop by Josie's birthday party for a little bit on Saturday night and was also able to come to Easter service with Jackson and I on Sunday morning before going right back to work the rest of the weekend. Hopefully just about a month left of this craziness and then I can have my husband back and Jackson can have his "dada" back who he asks for all of the time- I miss our little (yet growing) family! It is times like these when Dan is not able to be around as much that I am so thankful that we are surrounded by so much family- so much love, support and encouragement. So, so thankful. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

...the sweetest sound

This morning I drove an hour in the rain, waited in the waiting room at the doctor's office for an hour and 10 minutes... and then... then I heard the sweetest sound. The sound of our baby's heartbeat- it was loud and clear and I couldn't stop smiling while listening to it, memorizing its rhythm. And I haven't stopped smiling this morning as I play it back in my mind. 

We cannot wait to meet you, baby!
All our love,
Mama, Daddy and Jackson

Sunday, April 17, 2011

you are my sunshine

Nothing too big to report tonight- just coming off of a calm, relaxing weekend with Jackson (weekend #5 without Dan... we have about 7 more to go). I have to say, my little man provides the best company possible with daddy gone- he is entertaining, sweet, funny and beyond adorable. 

But, the time with Dan is still irreplaceable and having him gone pretty much all of the time right now makes the time that we do have with him all that more meaningful and appreciated- tonight it completely made our night to have him home to eat dinner with us, to read stories to JP before bed time (he even changed a diaper for the first time in a  LONG time- he reported back that "he still has it {diapering skills) and we even squeezed in a little bonfire once the sun set and Jackson was asleep.  

Jackson, when you're reading back through these stories some day, I hope you'll be smiling and nodding your head when I tell you that your daddy is the hardest working man I know. And yet, he would never put his work ahead of you, me or his faith ever. There are few people who know how to find that balance and make it work, but he does- and he does it with a smile on his face and without a single complaint. 

And you, my little man, are already like him in so many ways- always smiling, always laughing, always on the move and 100% fearless.

But, I'm happy to report that you still glance behind you every once in awhile to make sure your mama is still there to pick you up just in case you do fall. And catch you I will. Every time.

We are 10 weeks along with baby #2! That is 25% completion if you are doing the math. I have to say that overall this baby has been a lot more challenging than Jackson was- much more morning (and afternoon and evening) sickness and much, much more tired, but every second of it is worth it and once again I'm so humbled that we were chosen to be this little boy or girl's mama and daddy. Lets hope that JP feels just has humbled when he realizes what being a "big brother" is all about!

BIG {brother} news!

Dan, Jackson and I are VERY excited to share that we are expecting baby #2 on November 15th! A couple of months ago, Jackson wore this t-shirt one Saturday morning to surprise Dan with the big news... 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Reno Progress

The house from the back/side "before"... before the back yard, side landscaping beds, sun room and garage (which is under the sun room) were completely demo'ed.

Tearing the sun room and garage off of the house had been our plan since we bought the place, so we never spent the money to update any of it- clearly! Check out the ancient garage door and lighting and the oh-so-attractive peeling paint and gutters!

The first major phase of the project was reconstructing the house's back foundation. Since our home is built into a steep hill, we were worried about the weight of the hill against the foundation over the years, so it was time to build an entirely new foundation. This is the reinforcement from the inside that was needed before work could be done on the outside. All of this was Dan's engineering design.

Foundation reinforcement from the outside. We had to dig a little "moat" behind the house, into the hill to construct the new foundation wall, which meant that we could no longer use the door in the back of the house that goes in the kitchen.

This was the sign that I posted on the kitchen door for fear that Dan would walk out the door in the early morning out of habit. The man has been waking up to go to work at 5am every day, not returning home until 8pm... so, he is tired! Needless to say, this sign will remain up until all doors are safe again! Also note my classy return label that I used as tape since Jackson must have hidden our actual tape somewhere.

Many loads of supplies have been dropped off to our little construction site over the past few weeks.

The first round of concrete to lay the footer for the new foundation wall.

Dan's new truck loaded down with even more materials.

Pouring the new foundation.

A quick shot from inside the house on the day they tore off the sun room and garage... bye bye to the old and ugly!

The house looking quite naked without the old rooms. Bing looks a little confused about all of this chaos. 

The messy little road that we had to build into the hill behind the house to make way for the many trips by the concrete truck.

A view of the footers that were just dug for the addition to the house- this shows roughly the perimeter to where we will be building the new room- a great room with cathedral ceilings on the main/second floor and a new, bigger garage on the bottom level.

This is what Dan does in his "spare time" - in other words, he comes home around 7:30/8:00pm and doesn't even come inside, he just goes straight to work outside. Nights like tonight he didn't even have a chance to see Jackson. Lets just say we'll both be happy when things calm down.

Another view of where the new space will be.

Do not try this at home. 

Bing helping Dan lay prepare the footers for the concrete that is coming tomorrow.

Tonight, our contractor Greg made a comment to Dan and I about how just building a new house would have been a lot easier (and probably a lot less expensive) to do than what we are doing... and in that moment I looked up and saw this sunset. I ran to the top of the hill to watch it set, like Dan and I have done many, many times and I thought to myself... this is why we are going through all of this. This is why this is all worth it. Because you cannot "renovate" land, you cannot "add on" to the scenery where you choose to make your home... you cannot pay a price for views and moments like these. 

The rest of this week will include pouring the concrete for the addition's footers, constructing the forms for the new walls and then pouring the concrete for the walls of the lower level of the addition. More to come then!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

welcome back, sunshine

Today was the epitome of beautiful- the sun was shining, the temperatures were nearly record-breaking... and Jackson and I soaked up every minute. Literally every minute because someone was on a nap-strike amidst all of the adventures- beginning with church, ending with playing outside with the puppies with the zoo squeezed in the middle. 
The zoo was a big hit. It was hot, which we aren't adjusted to yet, but Jackson loved seeing all of the animals we read about every day. It blows me away every time I see him make new connections in his mind as he discovers things that are entirely new to him... and seeing so many animals in person for the first time today was no different. These experiences rank high on the list for why parenting is by far the most rewarding blessing.

With all of the chaos in our lives right now, I haven't been keeping up with all of Jackson's developments and funny little stories, so I'll record a few now. His vocabulary continues to grow- learning new words all the time, although a few continue to be used most often... mama, dada, nanna, help, please, more, snack, dog, no. His animal sounds also continue to grow, he now identifies and imitates dogs, cats, chickens, cows, frogs, lions, pigs and sometimes alligators and monkeys.

This short little story borders on TMI, but amused me last night and is sure to embarrass him someday, so I feel obligated to document it here for his future reading enjoyment! Last night I was going "potty" and clearly when I'm home alone with Jackson I don't get "private time" so as I'm in the restroom he walks in giggling and with a big smile on his face, carrying a bowl of strawberries, clearly very proud of himself for finding this little snack. I told him to go put the strawberries back but he insisted on feeding them to me and would not take "no" for an answer. So there we were, him feeding strawberries to me in a moment that does normally not warrant snacking. 
This afternoon when we were at the zoo I looked at Jackson as he was standing in the middle of the petting zoo trying to sneak up on some unsuspecting goats and suddenly it hit me how much he looks like a toddler. He is no longer a baby at all, he is a full-fledged toddler. Absolutely scary to me, to realize that he is getting to be such a big boy. Fittingly enough, this revelation came just a few days after Jackson's paci went bye-bye. It was always our plan to take away the paci about a month after he stopped nursing. He stopped nursing at 13 months and so this weekend as he turned 14 months we took away his beloved paci. We've had a few rough moments, but overall he has been a complete champ. The bottle has been gone since 10 months, so he is officially baby-equipment free. 

As I write this I am loving re-living all of the memories we made today. It's this exact feeling that has always driven my blogging. And tonight the therapy it is providing me feels so needed. Today was such perfection and my fear is that what this week will bring with feel way too contrasted to this feeling. Meaning, life is hard right now with Dan gone all of the time, the renovation chaos and my heavier-than-ever work-load... and just knowing that the switch for all of that gets turned back on in the morning makes tonight bittersweet. Sunday night blues are in full swing.

Another slightly random string of thoughts that is going through my mind tonight stems back to the message in church this morning. It was all about forgiveness. Normally when we discuss this I don't feel as though it applies to me because I can honestly think of nobody who has done such a wrong to me that I haven't had the strength to forgive. But, this morning it hit me that while it is true that I can think of no single person I have yet to forgive for something, I do think that I sometimes need to forgive the "small" things that happen on a daily basis that cause me to get impatient, frustrated and disappointed. I expect perfection from myself every day and while I don't expect others to be perfect, I certainly do hold them to much higher expectations than most people probably do... and that needs to stop and in stopping that I need to forgive myself and others when the small things in life don't add up to the vision of what is in my head.

Luckily, along with the warmer weather comes longer daylight and longer daylight right now means that Dan has a slightly better chance of spending some time playing with outside once he gets home after working long hours. Tonight he had just a few minutes with Jackson outside before bedtime and then once the little man was tucked in, we went back out to take in the beautiful weather before the sun set. 

Dan found the first flower of the season in our yard. I tell you, these flowers are indestructible. They were planted by someone years ago in the most awkward place- in the middle of a grassy area, totally random, so every time I mow the grass I mow over them and yet they always come back, just as beautiful as ever.

And lets not forget to wish this handsome little man a happy 3rd birthday! Bing Crosby Engel turned 3 on Monday. Much to his dismay, I'm sure, we didn't celebrate in grand style, but we'll make it up to him with some extra fetch time and doggy treats soon. 
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