*Hangs Head in Shame*

December 15, 2014

I know, I know...it's been MONTHS since I wrote. Obviously that's how I operate. I wouldn't want to freak you guys out by actually posting, oh, weekly...or even monthly.

There has been lots going on in the Wong family!  In September, Clarence applied for a job in Greenville, SC and in less than a week he had an offer. Within a month, we made the move! Good thing we enjoy change. We were blessed to find an apartment that would rent on a monthly basis since we wanted to buy a house. We spent a few months looking at houses and then found one that was the perfect fit! I was able to see it the day it went on the market and we put an offer in the next day. It has a great open plan perfect for entertaining. We wanted an older home with a good bit of land and this house provides just that. We love it!

Though the house was move-in ready, there are definitely ways we want to add our own touch. Because we are surrounded by trees, the living room can feel a bit dark during certain times of the day. I loved the fireplace and built-ins, but the more I looked at it, the more I thought it would suit the room better if we lightened it up a bit.

With flash before

Without flash before

Besides the fact it made the living room feel even darker, I really didn't have a problem with the look before. But I wanted to make it lighter, and I wanted more depth to the fireplace than just a solid one-color. 

I remembered seeing a makeover segment on Rachael Ray featuring John Gidding and an overnight makeover he did for a viewer. He did a sponge technique (I know, flashback to the early 90's) to the fireplace and it looked SO much better! I knew that's what I wanted to try, but I could not for the life of me find a description of exactly what he did. So I did what any woman in her 30's would do...I looked on pinterest! I found a tutorial on Lowes website that I think was probably pretty much the same thing.

First, we painted the whole fireplace Abalone by Benjamin Moore. I was starting to get a bit worried cause it looked SO white. Excuse the iphone pic. 

But we forged ahead. Once we had it all painted, we moved on to the sponge technique. For the color, we used Ashley Gray by Benjamin Moore, at about 75% strength. I really wasn't digging it when we started, but the more we put on, the more it started to look right.

It didn't have enough variation, so we went back over some bricks with the sponge again, so it looked more unplanned and random.

We then decided to paint the built ins as well. I'm not a wood hater, but I didn't like that the wood was only in the front portion of the shelves. Plus, we were trying to lighten up the space. We painted it Ultra White by Valspar both on the outside and inside. It took many more coats than I would've liked and lots of physical contorting to get in all the nooks and crannies, but it had to be done.

I wanted to paint the back of the bookshelves, but just couldn't decide on a color. At first I thought of something bold, but then didn't want to have to change all of our decor afterwards. So I decided on going with a dark gray after seeing a few images on...where else...pinterest.

Oh, but we know what a pain in the booty gray is! I figured one with a bit more brown in it would work better than one with too much blue because of the black mantle and tan fireplace. I settled on Mined Coal by Behr. And because I'm a rebel, I bought half a quart without getting a sample first to "test". I laugh in the fear of painting disasters! Muahahaha. Thankfully, it was PERFECT! Here is how it turned out:

We would still like to add doors on the bottom part of the built-in at some point to give it a more finished look. Still, we think it's much improved and are really happy with how it turned out!

Here it is partially decorated and styled...

More to come! Though I can't promise it won't be another few months...

Five Months!

July 27, 2014

So, what do you know, having a baby really takes away from blogging time!

I can't believe our baby girl is 5 months old today. These months have flown by and it's been amazing to watch her grow and change. I'm blessed to work part time, and most of that from home, so that I can spend time with her and see her discover new things.

She's rolling, grabbing things, babbling, giggling (but she makes us work for it) and making us super happy parents!

I'll try to get back into blogging regularly but in the meantime, here are Haven's month-by-month photos.

My birth story

April 01, 2014

Perspective is a funny thing.

Before I was ever married or even really thinking too much about babies, I remember making this blanket statement, "When I go into labor, I'm getting an epidural! I'm not trying to be anybody's hero."

Well, then you get pregnant and you start reading about the possible dangers of interventions and your perspective changes. Of course, I wanted to keep an epidural on the back-burner....just in case....but I wanted to try to go natural for the health of my little girl.

I went into labor around 2-2:30am on February 27th. I knew through my birth classes to try to get some rest because I likely would not be sleeping much once things were really set in motion. I texted my doula to let her know I thought I was in early labor, and tried to go back to sleep. Not too easy when your body is cramping up and sending you to the bathroom pretty consistently. It was only a few hours before I was texting my doula again to let her know that the contractions were about five minutes apart and lasting almost a minute. The weird thing was, I wasn't having any hardening of my belly around the top, all my contractions were really low.

While we waited for our doula to arrive, she instructed Clarence to make some food and for me to eat. Well, unfortunately, he made a sandwich with egg on it. Yeah, the smell of egg did NOT sit well with me and I rushed to the bathroom to announce that fact loudly.

Around 5am my doula arrived and helped me deal with the contractions, which were strong, but not so bad that I couldn't talk between them. She tried to get me to eat something else and continue drinking as much as I could. It was almost 7am when she was debating whether we should go ahead and go to the hospital. My labor really had her stumped, because my belly was not hardening during the contractions like it normally would. Still, because my contractions were so close together, she said we'd better not take any chances!

Something no one tells you....you do not want to sit down in a car to go to the hospital! Especially with labor so low and often in my butt, sitting down on a hard seat was very undesirable. So what do you do? Get on your knees in the backseat and hunch over the seat back while the contractions continue to roll on.  I swear the hospital moved further away, because it seemed to take forever to get there!

We got into a room and I got checked to find out I'm only dilated to 4cm. Crap. The next 12 hours are kind of a blur. I had read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and knew that many woman said that focusing and breathing through the contractions was the best way to get through them. I went into my own world for most of the day. It was so incredibly helpful to have a doula there with me through it all. I moved around a lot and tried a lot of positions to deal with the contractions. We were in the shower with hot water on my back, sitting on a birthing ball, sitting in an inflatable tub filled with warm water, walking around, etc. I had progressed to a 7 by 2pm and decided to get in the tub again. Amazingly, sitting in there and on the soft birthing ball helped tremendously. The labor continued low and in my butt and I remember in the tub saying, "I'm not sure how much longer I can do this." But I continued to breath and focus.

My doctor, in the end, said that they couldn't tell where I was in my labor progression, because I was so quiet. I had my eyes closed most of the time and just breathed and was silent. I knew if I lost focus, I could let the pain overtake me and it would all be over.

The most annoying part was nurses coming in every few hours and putting a monitor on my stomach to check on the baby's heart-rate and my contractions. While I was glad they were making sure she continued to do ok, it was uncomfortable and a distraction when I was trying to focus. Not to mention one nurse liked to hum while she worked. It's amazing what can annoy you when you're going through childbirth. :)

When I dilated to 9cm around 4pm, I remember Clarence saying "Maybe only an hour or two more." and I remember thinking "AN HOUR OR TWO MORE?!? Are you kidding me? I want to be done now!"

Speaking of Clarence, oh my gosh, he was absolutely amazing throughout my entire labor! He stood with me the whole time and encouraged me regularly by telling me I was doing a good job and that he was so proud of me. He wiped my forehead when I needed it, rubbed my back, gave me water...he was just phenomenal and I couldn't have done it without him. I pretty much have the best husband ever.

After I was a 9, my body kind of slowed down and I stopped progressing. I stayed at a 9 for hours. My body was so tired and I almost feel like I slowed it down myself by just wanting to rest and not putting myself in positions where I could move forward. Finally, I just wanted to be done and asked my doula what I could do to progress. She had me stand with one foot on a low stool and do small lunges while contractions came. Then we moved to a tall office-type chair that I straddled and would rotate back and forth on while each contraction came. Finally, we put the birthing ball against the wall and then I stood against the other side with the ball pressed into my lower back. I rocked back and forth and squatted and this is when things really started to shift. While I was in that position, a very intense contraction hit which caused my whole body to tense. Then my water broke....or should I say exploded! I never heard of this happening but literally my water exploded. It blew in all directions and I remember saying "oh my gosh!" and all the others in the room saying "Yay!" because they knew progress was being made.

We went in the bathroom to get cleaned up and I sat down to use the restroom. It was then that the mother of all contractions started attacking. Through the first part of the labor, the contractions came in waves like everyone says....starts slow and then builds, hits a peak, and backs off again. I could breathe through those, "ride the wave", and deal with it, but the end contractions were a whole different ball game. I had no control over my body. I would feel it coming and then my whole body would just tense and start pushing Haven down the birth canal. Clarence had his hand on my belly at one point and felt the contraction hit strongly and my whole belly tense suddenly.

I was quiet up until that point, but could not be quiet anymore. I remember calling out to Clarence in pain and him assuring me that he was there. I also remember asking God to give me strength. I was still sitting on the toilet and the contractions continued to roll on and hit my body with force. My doctor encouraged me to stand up to help things progress, but I really didn't feel like I could. I faintly remember my doctor saying that she didn't think they would get me back to the bed and that they should bring towels to put down on the bathroom floor. Of course having a baby in the bathroom was not on my birth plan, but at that point I just wanted her out of me!

Clarence, and others, started to get worried that the baby would be born in the toilet, so finally they said "You have to get up, Rachel" and they all pulled me into a standing position. Clarence stood in front of me and I had my arms around his neck. As the contractions continued to hit me, I felt my body tense and go into a high squat. I'm surprised I didn't pull Clarence to the ground.

There was quite the crowd in that small bathroom. Me, Clarence, my doctor, 2 resident doctors (1 of which I'd also seen throughout pregnancy), and a nurse. My resident crouched behind me, ready to catch the baby, while my doctor stood by ready to assist if needed. I have no idea where the nurse was, but the other resident moved beside Clarence to help him.

Haven was moved into position enough that when those contractions hit, I started pushing down. After a bit I remember thinking "please tell me at least her head is out!" Then I would hear them talking and knew that...nope, it wasn't. When her head finally did come out, I remember hearing them all excitedly say that she was already trying to breathe and to keep pushing. I know people talk about the "ring of fire", but my experience was different. There was just so much pain and pressure down there, it was not specific to one "ring".

I pushed and pushed and then suddenly I felt the rest of her body come out, almost like jello. So yes, I was standing, in the bathroom, when my baby was born. Quite the unique experience :) Haven Mei En Wong was born at 8:30pm on Feburary 27th, 2014.

They immediately lowered me to the ground and placed her in my arms. I remember the relief and joy that flooded in at that moment. I looked up at Clarence and said "Our baby!" It was so surreal. We waited for the cord to stop pulsing and then Clarence got to cut it. They moved us to the bed and we had an hour of skin-to-skin time where she immediately started breastfeeding. It's pretty amazing that God creates a baby to just know what to do. The whole experience is pretty miraculous. We have an amazingly detailed God!

I know a lot of people say that birthing the placenta is painless, but I beg to differ. The contractions were still pretty strong, but didn't last long.

I had a second-degree tear, which was a delight, and had to get sewn up, but I had my precious baby in my arms so that made it much less traumatic.

The other painful thing at the end was the fact that I had blood clots inside me, so my doctor had to reach in, push on my belly, and dig them out. Not pleasant at all!

The body shivers afterwards was also something I wasn't prepared for. Because of the hormones careening through your body, you are shaking for awhile. I was given extra blankets and they subsided within a few hours.

It was definitely the most intense experience I've ever had. Would I do it naturally again? I don't know. If you'd asked me right after I would've said no. But time heals all wounds, even mental ones, so I'm just not sure.

I do know that I am so thankful for my beautiful daughter and am blessed to be a mommy! She was worth it all, without a doubt!

Nursery Reveal!

March 15, 2014

You may be sick of posts about the nursery but have no fear, this is the last post! Putting together the nursery was a labor of love for me. Much like our wedding, a big portion of it was DIY. Not just because we are cheap, not rich, and didn't want to spend a bunch of money, but because I enjoy being crafty and coming up with cheaper ways to fulfill my vision.

I blogged about the $20 ruffle curtains here, the DIY floor pouf here, and the chair here. The rug is from RUGS USA and we waited until it was 70% off to purchase it. I made the throw pillow using some leftover fabric and a simple envelope pillow tutorial. 

The wall color is matched to Sea Salt by Benjamin Moore cut in half with white because the room gets so little light, I wanted to make the color just a bit lighter. It's the perfect light shade of green!

The chalkboard art was reused from a craft I did for our wedding. I decided to repaint the frame for the room and then drew the Bible verse myself. I hope it serves as a reminder of Who she belongs to and how precious she is!

The laundry basket was about $12 at Walmart. I can't resist a good chevron!

The cute coral side table I got from a local blogger for $30 when she was cleaning some stuff out. The color was perfect for the room!

I made the fabric covered embroidery hoops, but am not totally happy with how they fill the space, so I am figuring out how to switch it out.

Clarence made the picture ledge shelves. I wanted some that were the same width as the IKEA shelving unit below and none of the ones we found online were the right length. Plus, we found out that they are ridiculously simple to make and cheap. I think it was only like $12 to make both of these shelves. Plus it gave Clarence an excuse to use power tools :) This is the tutorial he used. 

None of the shelves are properly staged, but I'll get around to that eventually. Having a newborn keeps you kind of busy with other more important things :) I did make the alphabet printable in the frame. I saw one online and used Swift Publisher that I already had on my computer to make a similar version. We printed it for less than a dollar and stuck it in a Walmart frame. 

The mobile was made from leftover wedding things. We had some ruffle wreaths I made to hang on the church door and I used the base of that for the top of the mobile. I just wrapped it in leftover white yarn and hung it using the same yarn and a random keychain loop. I made a lot of the tissue paper pom poms for the wedding and had a ton of tissue paper leftover, so I decided to make small ones and hang them at different lengths to make a simple and pretty mobile. I'm really happy with how it turned out.

The fabric pennant banner over the crib was also leftover from our wedding. I had made a few to hang at the reception venue and since the colors were similar, I decided to hang it and bring some visual interest to that wall.

The letters are from Craft Cuts and we bought the unfinished MDF and then painted them ourselves to save a bit of money.

We bought the crib from Walmart. We actually had a crib given to us and I spent hours painting it from the cherry wood it was to an off white. Then when we were done and I was googling assembly instructions, I found out that it was recalled. Though we could've received new pieces for free, I would've had to paint those too and I was just not willing to spend more hours doing that. I'm happy with the price though and it fulfilled my desire for an off-white crib.

Crib sheet ($19!) found here. The crib skirt is the most redneck thing you could imagine! I literally bought the fabric, cut three pieces to fit the front and two sides, used heat bond hem tape, and then pinned them to the frame under the mattress. But, hey, it does the job.

You can read more about the dresser makeover here. The DIY art over the the changing dresser is here. The adorable door hanger with Haven's name was made by my best friend Amy for my baby shower. I absolutely love it!

So there you have it! Overall, I'm happy with how it turned out. The wall opposite the changing table is still a work in progress in my eyes, but I'm sure I'll figure out what it's missing at some point.

It was fun to have Haven's newborn photos taken almost exclusively in her room and showcased all the details perfectly! Welcome home, baby girl!


March 12, 2014

Haven Mei En Wong!

Haven made her appearance February 27, 2014 at 8:31pm. She weighed in at 7lb7oz and 20 inches long. Her Chinese name, Mei En (MAY-UN), means Beautiful Grace.

I'll be blogging about my labor experience soon (and the nursery reveal!), but wanted to share a few photos of our precious angel that we had taken recently by Rachel Ezzo of Rachel Ezzo Portraits. She did an amazing job! 


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