Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Lord Gives and Takes Away

  This will probably one of the hardest (and possibly longest...sorry) posts that I will write, but I feel that sharing this will hopefully encourage others, and ultimately show how great and continuously faithful our Lord is.  If you are friends with me on Facebook, you may have noticed that back in May we announced that we were pregnant with our first little baby.  While we had talked some about feeling ready to possibly start a family, this was still a surprise, a simply wonderful surprise.  We would have never guessed it would happen so fast!

  It was on May 6th, while I was visiting Drew on a work trip in the Outer Banks, we found out we were going to be parents.  After deciding to take a test "just for fun," the positive results appeared in the window in less than 10 seconds.  We were both shocked, thrilled, anxious, scared, excited, nervous, and thankful all at the same time.  To truly confirm the test, I ended up taking 3 more tests and visiting my doctor for a blood test.  They all confirmed it was positive and that our little one would make his/her appearance right around Christmas Eve.

  We waited until Drew was back in town to tell both of our families, and then spread the exciting news to all of our friends.  Every night Drew would sweetly "talk" to the little one inside of me, and we would thank the Lord for this blessing of a new life.  We eagerly anticipated our first ultrasound appointment near the beginning of June.

  Finally the day had come.  According to both the doctor's and our initial calculations, I was supposed to be twelve weeks along for this first ultrasound.  Both Drew and I were nervous and excited to "see" the gift God had blessed us with.  Almost as soon as the ultrasound tech began, something did not seem right.  She called another nurse in the room, and we waited confused as she silently finished the ultrasound.  What we saw on the screen was not a twelve week developed baby, and there was not a heartbeat present.  Before leaving the room, the tech mentioned possibly I was really only six weeks along.  Drew gently comforted me as I battled the tears and emotions that were welling up inside of me.

  We were then sent to another room to wait (for what seemed like an eternity) to see the doctor and hopefully get some answers.  Finally she came in and explained that either one of two things were happening; either our baby was just six weeks developed, or I was experiencing the beginning of a miscarriage.

  The next week was tough and felt like one of the longest.  I kept thinking of Job 1:21 where Job says "the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!"  That week I experienced no normal signs of miscarriage, but with doctor's blood tests every other day, it was clear to see my pregnancy hormone levels were dropping significantly.

  On the day of our next scheduled ultrasound, June 21st, the normal miscarriage symptoms finally hit.  The cramps got progressively worse and closer together throughout the day.  At the doctor's office, they confirmed what we had already accepted, that I was experiencing a miscarriage.  We had just enough time to pick up some dinner and head back home before I was in severe physical, and emotional pain.  While the emotional hurt would last many weeks and even months, the Lord graciously allowed the physical pain and process to last just a day.

 That was nearly three months ago, but the memories are still so fresh in our minds. We are still grieving and hurting at the thought of not being able to meet our sweet baby here on earth, but I can honestly say the the Lord has used this trial to draw us closer together as a couple and, ultimately closer to our Savior.  Our faith has been strengthened as we have developed a deeper knowledge of what it means to always and completely rest in Him.

  While it is still hard for me to talk about, we have appreciated those who have reached out with little notes, prayers, and comforting words.  That means more than you can know, and we are so grateful for the emotional support from our family and friends.  We are sorrowful that we will not be able to hold our first little one here on earth, but are rejoicing in the fact that a part of us is already eternally praising our Savior in heaven (2 Corinthians 6:10).  We rest in the hope that one day we will see our little one face-to-face.

  Throughout the pregnancy, I strongly felt that the little one I was carrying was a boy.  Drew and I have decided to name the life that the Lord briefly blessed us with here on earth, Benjamin, which means son of the right hand.  In the Bible, Benjamin, the son of Jacob, initially had a name meaning, son of my sorrow, but was later changed to mean son of the right hand.  While we dearly loved this little baby, we know that our heavenly Father loves him even more with an everlasting love.  Naming our baby Benjamin will remind us of the overwhelming promise that the love HE has lavished on us so we should be called children of God (1 John 3:1).

A friend gave me this figurine to help us remember the amazing gift of life that I was able to carry for twelve short, yet beautiful, weeks. 

  Thank you again to all of you who have supported Drew and I in different ways as we continue to walk through this valley.  While it continues to be a difficult time for us, the Lord's goodness, faithfulness, and love to us has been a continuing theme, and we are trusting and resting in His perfect timing and will.  Our Savior is unchanging, and we will continue to believe in Who He says He is.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mirror, Mirror

The Pinterest bug that I mentioned in my last post has been lingering on.  After seeing sunburst mirrors all over Pinterest and on other blogs, I decided our big bare wall in our bedroom needed a big beautiful sunburst (way too many b's...sorry).  Most of my inspiration was found on Bower Power.

Actually ALL of my inspiration was from that blog.  I pretty much copied her technique because I loved how her's turned out.

For my project I used around seven packs of twelve inch wood shims.  I'm sure I got funny looks in Lowes when I picked up my bundle of 294 wood shims.  

Before glueing, I designed the entire starburst just how I wanted it.  Once I liked the shape of the starburst, I began glueing each of the shims into rays (group of 6-10 shims).  Again, I straightened those out and finished the task by glueing all of the rays together.  I used three tubes of construction adhesive.
(Note: Drew Babe sweetly let me know that I probably most likely definitely didn't need nearly that much construction adhesive.  Guess when I was squirting on the glue, I was just being overly cautious and making sure my starburst was not going to fall apart.  Live and learn.)

You might notice that all of the rays are not the same size.  I wanted to create the general shape of the starburst, without everything being perfect.

In order to give the starburst some stability and to provide an anchor for hanging on the wall, I glued a 16x16 piece of thin plywood to the back.

Once it was all together, I gave it a light sand and spray painted it with a classic starburst color.  I thought about doing a fun color or even white, but settled on the metallic gold.  It would be an easy fix if I wanted to change it later.

Since our Michael's decides to be out of everything that I need (turns out they have discontinued their frameless mirror supply), I had to order a twelve inch round mirror online from Hobby Lobby.  Even with shipping it turned out to be pretty inexpensive.

Here's how it turned out:

It definitely does its job by filling up the big wall.

Now, Drew has a mirror on his side of the bed as well :)

Has anyone else caught the Pinterest bug?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I'va Caught the Bug

That Pinterest bug seems to be going around and I'm pretty sure I have caught the bug too.  Contrary to most "bugs" this one is quite amazing and ultimately, addicting.  I soon realized that I had been doing a lot of pinning, but not a whole lot of project-ing.

While I'm not the most craftiest person there is, I pinned this project because it seemed easy and inexpensive.  Here is the inspiring picture from Pinterest (originally from this blog):

Why didn't I think of this before!?!  Paint Sample Coasters!

I headed up to Home Depot grabbed a few square tiles and paint swatches, and then to Walmart for some Mod Podge and clear spray acrylic.  While the tiles in the picture have a rounded edge, I opted for a flat edge tile hoping that it might be a bit easier to work with.  I found paint swatches that coordinated with the colors that are in our evolving music room (more on that room soon!).

(Note:  I just realized while writing this post that I had picked up the same exact green paint swatch as in the original Pinterest picture.  Simply coincidence.)

To begin, I simply cut out the paint swatches (being sure to keep the name of the paint color, because I like that :), and used the Mod Podge to glue them to the tile.  I then applied another layer of Mod Podge every 20 minutes.  The finished coaster had around four or five coats of Mod Podge.

(This picture shows a glimpse of my extreme multitasking skills: working on two Pinterest projects at once!)

After I let the final coat of Mod Podge dry overnight, I applied a clear spray acrylic to protect from water/condensation.  I went with a gloss acrylic spray simply because I wanted my coasters to have some shine.

To protect our tabletops from the back of the tile, I applied (using Mod Podge) a square of craft foam from Michael's.  I tried looking for some thin cork, but at the time could not find it anywhere.  I ended up finding some cork at Michael's about a week ago, but the foam seems to work just fine.  I made sure to cut the foam square smaller than the actual tile, so it wouldn't show on the edges.

This picture shows the colors I am trying to bring together in our music room, which still has a long way to go before being finished.

This project was so simple that I ended up making coasters for our living and one for Drew Babe's nightstand where he likes to keep his bedtime glass of water.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Step Two....and Three....

of our flooring project.  Remember step one was mentioned several months ago in this post here.

It turns out buying our new floors was the quickest part of the project.  The 40 boxes of flooring ended up sitting in our music room for a while before we did anything with them.  When we finally got to the "Put in new floors" part of our "Things to Do Around the House" checklist, we decided to have our handy next door neighbor take care of the installation.

While our house quickly turned into a construction zone and a complete disaster, it was nice to have brand new floors in all four rooms in just five days.  We shoved most of the furniture and accessories into our room to make it easier for them to lay the floor.

See what I mean, it was a wreck!

Then came one of my favorite parts of the project.  Ripping out the hideous outdated vinyl floor and....

the brown carpet.  I don't think we were even a bit sad to see this go.

It would have been amazing, if underneath all the old flooring we found hardwood; but instead we found this hospital-like linoleum tile throughout the entire house.

After the carpet and vinyl flooring was ripped out, a moister barrier was laid.  Then came a slightly padded underlayment for cushion and to help with sound, since we are on a slab.

Of course, this is the only in-between picture I took, probably because it was a pretty quick process after the doorways were cut out.

It was so fun to come home one evening and see this in our living room!

Some people cautioned us about putting the flooring in the kitchen because of possible swelling from spills.  Well, Drew Babe decided to perform his own MythBusters by soaking a scrap piece of flooring in a bucket of water for several hours.  While our floor will hopefully never be "soaking" for several hours, we found the scrap piece had no swelling at all.

Myth:  Does laminate wood flooring swell when in contact with water?

Finding:  Busted!  (at lease with our floors)

 (side note:  I promise I don't usually decorate our kitchen table with swords:)

To give everything a finished look, we had shoe molding installed.  Drew Babe decided to go ahead and give the baseboards a fresh coat of paint because the shiny new floors made every scuff and nick on our baseboards stick out like a sore thumb.

Once I get the house cleaned and straightened up, I will post a complete "before" and "after" of The Martin House flooring project.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Break is Over

After a taking an almost 4 month break, I am finally back to blogging.....hopefully.  Since that last post in April much has happened both in the Martin House and the Martin life.

You might remember the project we began a few months ago by purchasing our new floors.  Because we had to cover the kitchen, spare bedroom, living room, and music room, we searched and waited for the best deal we could find; and jumped on it when we found "our" floors at Lumber Liquidators.  Well, that project has finally been accomplished and will soon be described here on the blog.

Also, during our 4 month break from blogging we've been on a few family vacations, I have graduated from Old Dominion University, and we have dabbled in some other projects around the house.  Fortunately I have been pretty good about taking pictures of everything that's going on, so hopefully it will be up here soon!

For now, I'll leave you with a sneak peak of one of the biggest Martin House projects:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Front Yard Transformation

A couple of months ago I shared some pictures with you of our front yard.  The grass (if there ever was any) was definitely struggling, and all of our plants were still babies.  Since the warmer weather, and Drew Babe putting his green thumb to work, our plants have taken off and we finally have a mouthful yard-ful of green grass.  Here are some before and afters for you to get a glimpse of the outdoor projects at the Martin House :)

Notice the grass, or the lack there of.

Now, thanks to Drew Babe's hard work, we have lush green grass.

The Japanese Maple on the far left has grown a lot in just one year.

We recently put down fresh mulch, which definitely spruces up everything and adds a dark contrast with the green grass.  Last year we did bagged mulch, but this year decided it would be much cheaper to get a truck load of brown dyed mulch.  

The plants have really enjoyed the rain and warm weather and everything has nearly doubled in size.  I think the hanging basket ferns give the front porch a more welcoming feel.

Here is an up close view of our Nandinas, Indian Hawthorns, and Euonymus.  We have been feeding mostly everything with Espoma Holly Tone, which seems to be working.

One last picture that really shows off Drew's vibrant and healthy grass.

We are still waiting for the buds on our Azaleas to pop out, and probably as it gets closer to summer the Hydrangea will bloom as well.  Hopefully one day we will be able to revamp our front porch a bit with a new porch roof, because that metal awning just isn't cutting it.  But until then, we are definitely enjoying our front flower bed and new lawn.  
Sometimes we just sit on the front porch, sip a little Moscato, and observe our land :) 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Little Touch of Spring

With this warmer weather we've been having, it's made me anxious to give my brown green thumb a try (to be honest, Drew Babe is the one with the green thumb....hopefully it will rub off on me a little).  Last weekend I headed out to Taylor's Do it Center and bought a few plants to spruce up our front porch.

Our front porch is very shady, so I had to find plants that liked the shade (Fortunately, after working at a plant nursery for a couple summers, I did have somewhat of a clue about shade plants).  I ended up getting two Boston Ferns to put in hanging baskets and three New Guinea Impatiens.

Of course in VA the weather seems to always have terrible mood swings.  After being warm for a couple weeks, we had a few days of cold and windy weather.  Thankfully I hadn't planted yet and kept the new plants in the garage until it got warm again.  Eventually I got my bright Impatiens in the ground and added a little Bloom Booster to get them going.

I transferred the ferns from the plastic pots to some more decorative coco lined hanging baskets and hung them on the porch.

The hanging baskets just seem to make the porch so much more inviting.  Now let's just hope I can keep these things alive.

After we get a truck load of fresh mulch in the flower bed, I'll be sure to show you more pictures of our entire front yard and flower bed.  Drew Babe has done an AWESOME job with our lawn and all of our plants.  They have grown so much since last year!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Step One

Well, we just checked off step one of our next big project.

For the past year we have talked off and on about installing new floors in the family room, kitchen, and (if we found a too-good-to-be-true great deal) the guest bedroom and music room.  We were waiting for just the perfect deal on the color we wanted.

Our waiting and searching eventually paid off.  A couple weeks ago Lumber Liquidators (or as Drew would call it, Liquid Lumberdators) had an awesome deal on cherry laminate flooring.  The price ($0.79 per square foot) seemed perfect, yet we still couldn't decide.  After pondering on that $0.79 per square foot for a while, I decided to check the Lumber Liquidators' website another time and noticed the price had been dropped to $0.59 per square foot.

I gave Drew Babe a quick call at work and we decided to jump on it.  Next thing you know, we have 40 boxes of laminate wood floor stacked in our music room.

Because of the great price, we were able to get enough to cover our entire house, except our bedroom (the carpet in there is still fairly new).

Not quite sure when this project will start, but I know we are both excited to check off the first step of saying goodbye to this:

and this:

When searching for our floor, we both liked the medium wood shades.  We settled on a cherry laminate flooring:

I'll be sure to keep you posted as we tackle this project of covering nearly 1000 square feet with laminate flooring.  We're open for any thoughts, tips, or suggestions :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Trip to Target

I don't know about you, but I have no trouble at all finding at least one cute home accessory whenever I stop in Target.  It can be quite a problem, and that is exactly why our trips to that tempting store are kept to a minimum.

Last Friday we had some time to kill, so Drew Babe suggested we go look around Target for a little while. Despite our good intentions of simply "looking," we found a few things we really needed wanted.

I'm not sure if you remember our white horse head we previously had in the shelf above our TV.  Well, we had to say goodbye to Mr. Horse (Drew was not quite as fond of him as I was) and begin our search for another item to fill that spot.

I knew I wanted something white to tie in our newly painted white tables and for added contrast against the dark shelf.  There were plenty white figurines to be found, but we weren't really going for the a buddha, bunny, or hippo.  While patiently searching around for a couple months, we found something we both liked on our trip to Target.

Here is our new ceramic white owl in his new little home :)

We ended up finding our owl in the garden section at Target.  
Btw: in this picture you can see we finally put some pictures in the frames around our TV....certainly took me long enough!  

Another great find from Target was a wall clock, and at just $6.99 we couldn't pass it up.  We both loved the clean lines and crisp white color of the clock.  Drew found a perfect spot for it above a door in the kitchen.

The faint tick-tock sound reminds me of my grandma's house, which has probably close to 15 ticking clocks of all kinds.  While I do love that sound, especially at my Grandma's, I think one ticking sound is plenty for our little, cozy home.

Maybe someday we will really follow our rule to just "look" around Target.