Kitchen refresh is done!

August 02, 2021

Welcome to my 2021 post! (Because I'm averaging one a year πŸ˜‚)

I am so excited to say that our kitchen is finally DONE!! *besides a couple tiny things, but I'm calling it good enough to share*. I'll share the links at the bottom of the post in case you're interested.

We started this last October when I got a crazy idea to paint our cabinets by myself. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the cabinets the way they were, but it just wasn't my style. I wanted something lighter and brighter (especially since our house is surrounded by beautiful mature trees and gets dark in the summer with all the leaves out). I knew I wanted white quartz counters, so I told Clarence I would paint the cabinets myself to save $$. Thankfully, a friend of mine from Arkansas does this for a living and has an AMAZING tutorial that I'm so thankful I had! It is under $50 and worth every penny if you're thinking of painting cabinets yourself! 

Here's where we started. Again, everything was fine, just felt dark. 

Now, this is how it looks....

It's really hard to photograph in the summer bc of the tree cover, but doesn't it feel so much brighter? After a lot of swatches, and painted poster board, and indecision, I finally went with was Silvermist by Sherwin Williams. It's a gray, green, blue, depending on the light. I thought about doing white, but just wanted to go with something a little different. Classic middle-child decision. 

One of the things we did that I'm really loving, is added a frosted glass vinyl to the back of the two glass cabinets. We have kids which means lots of colored plates that don't really look amazing on display. πŸ˜‰This solved that issue! 

Another small change that made a big difference? Taking down that big microwave cabinet. It came out and down so far, that the counter space underneath it was all but useless. We really lacked useable space over there, so down it came. It seemed like a simple solution until the wall behind was covered in holes and damaged drywall. We attempted to fix it did not go well. πŸ˜‚Drywall is such an art. We ended up bringing someone in and paying them a few hundred dollars to fix it. Then we had a huge space between the cabinets for MONTHS before we finally got around to putting the shelves up. Real life DIY.

Sooooo much better! We also had to get creative with an outlet that is behind the framed art. Turns out, the microwave needed to be plugged in there because it was on it's own breaker and it would trip anytime we tried to run it and something else. So, we plugged in a extension cord, cut a hole in the bottom of the shelf for the cord to run through, attached it to the underside of the cabinet and now it sits behind the microwave. Unless you look underneath (or behind the frame) you would never know!

One of the biggest changes came on the other side of the kitchen. We took down the upper cabinets in the photo below so we could replace the counters. Once they were down, it seemed so much more open, so I decided to change it up totally! We used the backsplash to tile the wall and then put open shelves over top. 

Before we tiled, Clarence attached three metal brackets for each shelf to the studs in the wall. We then cut the tile around those poles. Clarence bought a piece of pine at Lowes that was 12ft long and 1ft deep and had them cut it into two long pieces. Then, he had the crazy job of trying to get holes drilled in the wood to match *exactly* with where the poles were already in the wall. It was not an easy process, but he eventually made it work! Once we slid the shelf on, we realized the tile cuts showed 😀

Well, it was too late to go back now, so we bought a small piece of trim, stained it to match the shelf, and placed it along the back to cover the gaps. You can barely see it now. Ahhh the joys of DIY haha. 

Mom life. The play kitchen has a prominent part in our kitchen still. πŸ˜‰We also took down the wine rack at the end of the peninsula cabinet and left it open. I still need to figure out what I'm going to put in there. It may be time to finally buy those Magnolia cookbooks I've been wanting! 

The play kitchen clutter isn't doing me any favors, but I don't even care, because it's such a huge difference! Soooo many hours spent prepping, and sanding, and painting. I will be 100% honest, it was SO MUCH work and I have no desire to do it again, but at the same time, I'm so proud that I did it all by myself! It was completely worth it. We ended up spending about $400 to paint versus paying $2-$3k for a professional to do it. 

We also upgraded our sinks and faucets.

Bye drop-in, two basin sink!

Hello undermount beauty!

Let's see one final look:

Now for some more nitty-gritty details (for anyone who is attacking their own remodel and would like more info or if you're just curious). #1 absolutely purchase Kayla's tutorial!!! She gives you a complete supply list, step by step videos, access to a FB group with other people doing the same thing, and is always available to answer questions. Ask me how I know. 😁

Take it step by step. It's much easier than looking at how much work you need to do and getting overwhelmed! I actually split our kitchen up into two sections. The U-shape I did back in the fall (which I would recommend if you're painting outside, bc doing it the summer with a respirator was so HOT!). I ran out of weather to continue, so I finished the peninsula and other cabinet this summer. It was really helpful to split up the work, though I did kind of dread having to do it all over again haha. Our kitchen was big, so it worked well this way, but if your kitchen is smaller, you could knock it out in one big chunk. 

If you have kids, I did a lot of work during naps or on the weekends. We took advantage of a lot of outside play and some movie time too. They also heard lots of "don't touch the cabinets!" πŸ˜‚

We got our quartz counters from Granite Top Designs. They had, by far, the largest selection locally and was priced well too. We ended up getting Shadow by Prism Quartz which has a really pretty marble look to it. 

For backsplash, I fell in love with the Bedrosian Cloe Tile in White, but it was on backorder everrryyywhere. Through Houzz stalking, I discovered that Equipe carried the same tile in their Artisan Collection. Same manufacturer, different distributer. I was able to find it that way in stock and I really love it! It has slight variation in color and with the white grout, looks so beautiful! 

Our good friend, Mike, who has tiled many times offered to come help us get started since we were tiling newbies. Tile saw in tow, he was such a huge help and sacrificed one of his July 4th weekend days to lend a hand! It took us the better part of a day to tile the whole kitchen (and movie marathons for the kids). The next day we spent grouting and caulking. Between the two, we both preferred tiling! It made such a difference in the kitchen; really making it look finished. Changing out the hardware was also a nice change, making it feel more updated. 

All in all, we probably spent close to 7k on our update (almost 5K of that going to the counters). Spacing it out over the better part of a year really helped out (as did the stimulus check ;)

It feels so good to be done! I'm really proud of how much we were able to do ourselves, and how much brighter, happier, and more "us" it feels! 

Here are some links to the things we used. Let me know if I missed anything! 

Kitchen Faucet (wait for it to go on sale; we got it for $100!)
Bar faucet (matte gold is no longer available. We found one on ebay)
Hardware - knobs and pulls
Sconce Lights over shelves (scored them BOGO) We did the "magic light trick" for these. They have puck lights inside and are not hardwired.

Laundry Room Redo

February 09, 2020

Our laundry room is finally finished! For years I've wanted to update this space to be much more functional for our family. We love having a mudroom (especially since we adopted the asian mentality of taking your shoes off when you come in the door), but the space was just not working for our needs. There was no place to take off or put on shoes, and the open shelving above the washer/dryer just became a dumping ground for junk. It's like a junk drawer but all over your walls....not pretty. Here is what the space has looked for over the past 5 years...

I know, it was a totally sexy space. It's way sexier now; take a look:

Oh man, I love it! It's not just functional, it's pretty! The mudroom wall has to be my favorite...and it was all built by my talented husband! As usually happens, I gave Clarence a few inspiration pictures and he made it happen. He started with the bench along the bottom so we had somewhere to sit and put on our shoes. He had to custom build it according to the measurements of our wall (my math-deficient mind doesn't even want to think about it). Baskets beneath hold our shoes. Then he added pre-made shiplap above that, and more cubbies for storage on the top. We already had those baskets, so he wanted to make the cubbies specifically for them. Once we went to install, we realized it was way too high, so he had to lower it and build molding to help it reach the ceiling. It looked pretty strange to me until we got the "stay awhile" sign for a white elephant gift at Christmas and it fit in that space perfectly!

The framed art was an 8 year wedding anniversary gift from Clarence. It tells our love story by year and is printed on linen (The 8 year traditional gift). It was such a sweet and thoughtful present!

On the washer/dryer side, I knew I wanted some cabinets we could close to hide all of our stuff. We ordered a few unfinished cabinets from Home Depot and I painted them "Weekend" by Magnolia Home. It's such a gorgeous, bold color which I felt this room needed. We stained a few boards to match the mudroom bench and ordered some black brackets to hold them up.

It makes me so happy to walk in that room now! It's pretty, clean, and SO MUCH more functional! Here are our sources and total breakdown:

Wood: Clarence used a lot of stuff he had lying around, but spent about $100 additional
Wall paint: Moonshine by Benjamin Moore. Had on hand (since 2015 haha)
White paint for cubbies: had on hand
Shiplap: $80 (there are def cheaper ways to do this, but Clarence wanted to go for ease)
Grey Baskets: $63.57
"Stay Awhile" sign: Christmas gift
Top Baskets: had already
Black coat hooks: $16.99
Rug: $66.77 (now priced 39.99!!)
Unfinished cabinets: $188.68
Magnolia paint: $20 for a quart
Black brackets: $46.96
Gold cabinet hardware: $15.89
Schoolhouse light: $20 at Pottery Barn Outlet
Laundry sign: $23.69

Total spent: $642.55

This is actually the first time I've added it all up. It's not bad for an entire room, but I'm also thankful we did it slowly over about 3 months to stretch the spending out. Overall, I'm super happy with how it turned out. Let me know if I missed anything you wanted more information on!

Up next? Abel's room (once we move the girl's in together).

Arden's Home Birth

May 19, 2019

I never dreamed of having a home birth. It was not something that was ever on my radar. In fact, I didn't think I was the kind of mom who would do the whole home birth thing. I've had multiple people say "you're so brave" when they found out we decided to have Arden at home, but now I truly believe any low-risk mom is not only capable of it, but would love the experience!

Our decision started as a financial choice; our original provider required 100% payment by 36 weeks and was unwilling to work with us on a payment plan. With a high deductible to hit, there was just no way we could swing it without putting in on a credit card (not an ideal scenario). We started looking at other options and since I had Haven and Abel naturally and was low risk, we thought "what about a home birth?" I'm SO GLAD we did!

Halfway through my pregnancy when we started considering a home birth, my doula suggested we meet with midwives, including Carrie of Hatched to ask questions and get a feel for what making the change would be like. Clarence and I talked afterwards and decided to go for it. Here are a few things, for us, that make a home birth totally worth it:
  • More personal care. I was not just a number in an office. I met with Carrie personally for each of my prenatal appointments and was never rushed in and out. She took time to get to know me and chat about life. Not only that, I knew she would be the one there to deliver my baby. It would not be a guessing game when it was time to deliver. Additionally, I have her phone number and am encouraged to text or call any time I had a question or concern!
  • Being in your own home is so nice! I did not have to pack a hospital bag, endure a painful ride in the car to a hospital, stress about being sent back home to labor longer, get hooked up to multiple tubes/IV's, experience pressure to intervene if things weren't moving at a certain pace, etc. I loved the benefit of everyone coming to me! I was comfortable at home, had anything I wanted at my fingertips and could roam about the house in whatever way felt best during labor.
  • I had a small group of people there supporting me and my birth. They weren't there dictating what I needed to do, but allowed me to labor and then assisted me whenever I needed it. It felt so intimate and personal.
  • I got to move right to my bed after Arden was born and start right in on those newborn snuggles. Walking a few feet is way nicer than getting in the car and driving 30 min home. 
  • Statistically, home births for low-risk women have lower rates of cesareans (5.2% as opposed to 31%) without an increase of adverse outcomes for mothers or babies.
Ok, let me get off my home birth soap box and actually tell you about Arden's birth!

Like all of my kids, #3 took her own sweet time coming. Though at 8 days past the due date, she was still the earliest! I went into labor around 3am on Sunday, April 28th. I'd had some contractions off and on over the past week or so, including Braxton Hicks, but these were falling into a regular pattern and I knew it was time. I was going to have a baby today! I texted my birth team to let them know and continued to time the contractions. Around 6am, I was starting to feel some fear and anxiety. The baby is coming....oh crap, I have to do this again. There's literally no turning back. There's only one way she's coming out. I asked Clarence to wake up (he's lucky I let him sleep that long πŸ˜‰) and told my doula I was ready for her to come and help support me too. 

I walked around, swayed, and worked through the contractions for a little over an hour. Shortly after my doula arrived, my friend Tiffany came to pick up my kids. She had so graciously offered to take them to her house whenever I went into labor. Her kids are my kid's best friends, so I knew they would have a blast and were in good hands. I definitely didn't want them around so I had to hear "mommy, mommy, mommy" constantly while I was trying to labor. Not to mention, I didn't want to scar Haven, my sensitive child, for life. πŸ˜‚

Around 7:30am, my midwife arrived and checked to see how far I was dilated. She didn't say anything right away and I walked back out of the room with whispers behind me. I told Clarence, "She's probably telling them I'm a zero". Come to find out, when she first checked, I was only dilated to 1cm, but as soon as she touched my cervix, I opened up to 5cm! 

The next few hours are mostly a blur. I spent a lot of time in the birth tub, moaning through contractions and trying to stay relaxed.

I got out a few times to go to the bathroom or lay in my bed, trying to find the most comfortable position.

Around 10:30am, I was standing and swaying when I felt a tremendous amount of pressure and a huge push. I yelled "she's coming" but then things backed off again right after I got back in the tub.

I spent the next few hours laboring in about the same way, in and out of the tub. Around 12:20pm, I got back in the tub and leaned forward into Clarence for support.

During a big contraction I felt a "pop" and knew my water had finally broken, which was followed immediately by a lot of pain as Arden quickly descended into position. I just remember gripping Clarence's arms and screaming as my body took over. My birth team later said they were very surprised at how quickly it happened at the end, because I wasn't showing any signs of going through transition, but as soon as my water broke, her head was crowning. 

There was a small break before another contraction came and I screamed as her head was delivered. Thank goodness for that small sense of relief for being done with the head portion! There was another short break and I remember asking what to do because when Abel's head was born, I was told to stand up immediately so the rest of him could be delivered. I'm not sure why that was, but was almost expecting the same during this labor. Carrie, our midwife, told me to just wait for the next contraction and then push. That's exactly what I did, and to the sound of my lion roaring screams at 12:28pm on April 28th, Arden Le En Wong was born! Her Chinese middle name means "Joyful Grace". (Fun fact: Arden was born on what would've been her great-grandmother's 100th birthday. This is the same grandmother I got my middle name from)

It's hard to even explain the rush of emotions that come over you. My baby! She's here! I did it! It's over! I never have to go through that again! haha. There is so much joy and pride and strength. 

Despite Arden being super active while inside me, she had a super short cord. Since I delivered on my knees in the birthing tub, she was behind me. I had to climb over the cord so I could sit down and hold my baby for the first time.

She had so much hair, and hearing those little cries made every second of pain absolutely worth it! We sat in the tub together while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing and then Clarence cut the cord and took Arden so I could move to our bed.

We were able to have a special time of prayer over her and thank God for a healthy delivery.

I had a second degree tear (same as with my first two as well. I found that it's not that uncommon to tear in the same place as before since scar tissue doesn't stretch) and after delivering the placenta, being sewed up, cared for, and the house cleaned, our birth team headed out. (Oh, let me not forget the torture of having my uterus massaged!! 😳😩) I had some bleeding that seemed to have stopped, but my midwife told me to keep her updated if it continued. Over the next few hours, I was continuing to pass a lot of blood clots. By around 5:30pm, my midwife suggested we go to the hospital because she was not comfortable with how much I was still bleeding so long after delivery. While Clarence was helping me to the car, I felt super light-headed and remembered Carrie saying that if I felt feverish or like I might faint, to call for an ambulance. Clarence helped me get seated while he called for one. I still felt fine (once seated) and was not overly concerned, but knew it was better to be safe than sorry. 

Clarence followed the ambulance with Arden in our car, while super-friend Tiffany picked our older kids back up and took them to her house again. Once at the hospital, it was believed that I had a vaginal hematoma which burst my original stitches and was causing the bleeding/clotting. They sewed me up (again!) which was a real treat and then strongly suggested I have a blood transfusion of two bags because I had lost a decent amount of blood. We agreed and after a horrible night of sleep, headed home at 7am the next morning. 

Though I would've preferred to stay at my house and not make a trip to the hospital, I'm thankful that we took the precaution and went and got everything fixed. The multiple needle pokes, second suturing, and extended recovery time were not easy, but are much preferred to the alternative and I'm thankful to those who helped me get well. I think the 5 days of bedrest and unexpected weakness were the hardest things for me. I was used to bouncing back pretty quickly after the other two births, and this was definitely not the same experience. I'm so thankful for a husband who took such good care of me and the rest of the family! He even took all three kids out by himself multiple times that first week! #rockstar

I am so glad we had a home birth and it was a great experience! My bleeding afterward had nothing to do with being at home and I would absolutely do it again (but I won't because we are DONE). I believe birth can absolutely be a positive, natural, empowering thing and that home births should not be feared. 

So that is the novel of Arden's birth. We are so thankful that our family is now complete! 

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