Thursday, September 25, 2014

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda..Upgrades?

 Yesterday I went by the house and for the first time I realized I was locked out? WHAT? We had a garage door installed and that was down along with the front door being locked. It was a little disappointing because stopping by the house is one of my favorite things. It keeps me going when our apartment life gets me down. 

1 bathroom, 2 adults, 2 kids and one is determined to unroll the toilet paper every chance she gets...

I found myself wondering what changes I had missed and if there was any progress. I do know that today is Thursday and per our discussion with Mike (PM) we were projected to have our pre-drywall meeting this week. I did see Mike today (I called before coming so he was still there and left it open) and now we are talking mid to the end of next week for pre-drywall. It seems the plumbers have caused a bit of a delay. 

I could tell Mike wasn't pleased with said delay and he did say that they are trying to catch back up from this delay. When I went inside I can see that the plumbers could start working tomorrow because there was PVC pipe everywhere but no plumbing actually installed. I do know that we have what looks like an ill-placed electric meter so we could have electricity...maybe.

I started thinking about the Coulda, woulda and shoulda of the upgrades. Here are 4 that I would really like to go back in time and choose. Tell me your thoughts..

1. Crown molding on the cabinets - I think it might be pretty disappointing once I see this option. My amazing SR told me that they have all the colors and its inexpensively put up so doing it after move-in would be easy.
2. Under cabinet lighting - I know this is also a do it yourself but I would have really liked this feature installed by Ryan homes.
3. Tray ceiling in the master bedroom- I would LOVE LOVE this because it fancies up the bedroom. I have no other legitimate reason for this feature.
4. A railing instead of the capped wall- This feature was an expensive upgrade and honestly at this age my kids would probably find a way to get stuck but lends to a more open look upstairs.

What do you think? Will I regret? Do any of you have these features and want to tell me what they think, I would love to hear?

Also, our pre-drywall is coming up and I can't remember where I saw the pre-drywall check list? I have the final one but not the pre-drywall..if anyone can send the link I would appreciate it.

Until then, we are snug and snugger in our apartment waiting until we can move in to our Florence! 
(damn plumbers)

Here are some pictures: 

Pod lights installed in the kitchen

Wired for Wires

Bathtub in the wrong spot...


Concrete in the garage - Basement also has a floor but its dark and creepy right now so I didn't take a picture


View from the left side:


Today on the living room floor:


Pipes in the garage:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Moments that still impact - Our journey into Epilepsy

     Writing about the initial experience we had with our daughter and her seizures left me reliving some of the experiences that I was finally able to look back on. Because of the way the seizures started I never had time to ask the questions I really wanted to ask. I was blindly following all of the instructions and overwhelming information because initially we were reacting to the emergency that happened.  Once  we started the road to the medicines that stop seizures and I was able to take a breath and start researching I knew that I needed a second opinion.

We are lucky enough to live very close to the Cleveland Clinic and they are on the top 10 list for epilepsy. I called and made an appointment and we went trekking to the massive and state of the art hospital known in our area as "The Clinic".  

The physicians and staff at the Clinic are really amazing. They are informative and our pediatric neurologist as well as our pediatric geneticist were familiar with our other pediatric neurologist at the Children's hospital so I knew we had plenty of great minds on 
the case.

Here is a fact: 7 Hours after my child received her vaccines for her 4 month appointment she began to have seizures. The doctors at each hospital stated over and over that the vaccines were not the issue. My husband and I couldn't and still do not believe that this was NOT an issue. We asked repeatedly if they would at least consider this could be an issue as our seemingly normal 4 month old now has a serious medical condition and that having vaccines 7 hours before could not be purely coincidental. 
The amount of denial that happens over this subject almost drove us mad. 

To this day only one of our doctors will concede that after every test turned up normal that possibly our baby could have had issues with the vaccines.

Fact - We believe in vaccines and the good they do for children and society. We aren't going to take up a poster and start marching outside of any clinics, but for us, for my family we now look at them differently. I reported this to VAERS(Vaccines reporting agency) I never heard back and of course knew that I wouldn't. 

Down this long road we had our child being tested for genetic issues and four of the above mentioned doctors kept telling me that it was more likely that our child could be on the scale for Dravets Syndrome. I waited 5 months and 3 weeks for the results all the time looking for possible signs and symptoms for Dravets(convinced that the doctors were right) and I have never been more worried for every single second, minute, hour or day in my existence. NEVER. I could barely tell my friends how I felt, I couldn't share my fear and I sent up every prayer I could for my daughter.

When her results came in they discovered my daughter did have a mutation on a gene- the gene is categorized as early onset of childhood epilepsy. They have only studied this particular gene for 5 years so the data isn't much but it continues to be studied

This gene is not on the Dravet's scale and the prognosis for this particular gene may have our daughter possibly growing out of the seizures after 2 years old. We hope this is accurate and true for her. 

Fact - We have a 1 year and 3 months of medicine left before they will consider backing her off the medication. We are okay with this as anything that keeps her safe and developing makes us comfortable. We will pray for this day and hope that the prognosis rings true.

Upon further genetic testing they have discovered that the gene for the baby was passed down by me. They aren't sure why I do not now, nor have I ever had a seizure. They do not know why Hayden was triggered by the vaccines. They want to study more and make sure to test my 3 year old daughter so that going forward if she tests positive we can be aware and make sure that her future vaccines don't also trigger her.

I do not know what the future looks like but I have learned many things about epilepsy, uncomfortable couches in hospitals, tests, doctors and the maddening definition of the word Diagnosis. If ever there was a word with barely a definition it would be Diagnosis. 

We have begun to get our now 15 month old daughter vaccinated again and the neurologist has upped her seizure medication to give her extra coverage in case a vaccine gives her a seizure (this was the closest we ever got to them admitting anything about the vaccine). So far we are okay, for safety reasons our pediatrician will push the MMR vaccines until she is older than 18 months because of the likeliness to cause seizures.

Our first neurologist told me that our daughter caused an auditorium full of pediatric neurologist and epilepsy specialist to scratch their heads. She doesn't present in the text book way and so still they study. 

Fact - We will keep watching and waiting and holding our breath every time our daughter is given a vaccine. We will be paranoid for the day she finally gets her own room (see post on building) because her seizures only happen in her sleep we have the security of having her close.  We will continue to hope for a seizure free existence.

During the time I waited for the outcome of our genetic testing I read every thing I could find on Epilepsy and Dravets Syndrome and for each family that put their story out there I want to thank them. I saw such emotion and concern with both positive and devastating outcomes. I pray and think of all of the families and the children. Thank you for putting your hearts out there to share with others. I was scared out of my mind at the beginning and gained knowledge with each click of a link and story from a loved one. 

I do not know our path as we are still early on in our diagnosis and with many questions remaining. If you have questions about our situation, ask me. I am here to share and to offer any support I can. 

This is my daughter now at 15 months, currently seizure free for 9 months and counting.
                     It is for her and the love for my child that I will continue to learn and advocate and fight and have faith.

Part one of our journey can be found here - Moments that impact

Monday, September 15, 2014

We have a roof and some inside wiring...on our way to the pre-drywall meeting?

  We had the strangest weather last Thursday and with random tornado warnings I wasn't able to get to the house. Everything with the weather calmed down and so Friday I was able to skip over and see what was happening with our Florence. 

 We have a roof, that is really all I could see. I have included pictures of the roof from a couple of different angles but that is pretty much all I have. I didn't get to go in because it was very muddy and they were still working. 

As luck would have it I did get to run into our PM who was chatting with a neighbor. Mike is a great PM and always has an answer to the questions. Here is what I asked:

1. Was there any damage from the storm? Nope

2. The wood for the house was sitting out in the rain, would this be okay or would we eventually have a mold issue? Nope (joked that the wood was once a tree..LOL)

3. Stated I had seen the same wet area in the family room 2x in my previous visits and wondered what that was? He gave me the run down and a great explanation of how everything works before the roof goes on and makes the house waterproof...

All in all it was a good chat and my short list was answered. I am still worried about the grade of our yard and I know that is silly being that it is not even close to being done but I am worried none the less. 

We have a slope to our yard and now with everything re-arranged I want another lengthy chat about the grade of the yard. This is my biggest concern and literally keeps me up at night. We have small children who love to be outside and we our outside. We moved out of our cramped condo for more space everywhere but mostly so our kids could play outdoors and so we could have a patio.  Finally somewhere to have friends over and watch the kids play..

See the below picture, I keep wondering how much dirt will go up against the house by the tiny window? Do they dirt up to the silver??? Or does that much of my house show? If so, how will we use the door out of the morning room? 

Another view of the little window- 

This is my concern with the dirt? Look how high the door is? We would have to do some pretty serious stairs...( I know this is an old picture)

All questions for Mike at the pre-drywall. I wouldn't be me If I didn't worry about everything well in advance of the end. There is plenty of dirt lying around our little     cul-de-sac..fill 'er up and make that yard more level...

Mike told me that our pre-drywall will be in a couple of weeks and that I will most likely not see many changes on the outside for a bit. I will still visit and try to picture it when it is all done.

Here are some pictures with the roof on. Not my most exciting pictures but still...


Thoughts on the yard and where the dirt might fill to? Or is this what the garden view looks like? 

Questions, questions, questions...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Raising Awareness for Mesothelioma

                 I was approached by the Von St. James family to help them raise awareness regarding Mesothelioma. I was so honored to be asked and once I read the story of this family and their plight to make other's aware I knew that sharing a post was the least I could do.

Some facts about Mesothelioma:

Did you know that nearly all cases of Mesothelioma are due to exposure from Asbestos and that Asbestos is still allowed for use in the US? 
Asbestos used to be a popular material to insulate homes and buildings but is no longer used for this purpose. Even when no longer used for this purpose it can still be found in many buildings including homes, schools and office buildings.
No exposure to Asbestos is safe. Even secondary exposure can be harmful.
Once exposed to Asbestos, it could take anywhere from 10 to 45 years to cause health issues.

Diagnosing this disease has many invasive steps and the prognosis is usually around 10 months...This is a devastating disease and prognosis for patients. 

Here is a helpful link that I have used to educate myself on Mesothelioma.  These are the facts of Mesothelioma and behind the facts are the faces and the families.

Please Educate yourself and use your voice to share with others, this may be a rare cancer but the knowledge doesn't have to be the same way. I am proud to lend my voice to this cause and to Heather. 

Heather has an amazing story and when she was diagnosed she started looking for the best possible treatment. Heather is not just a patient with Pleural Mesothelioma. Heather is a wife and a mother and a Survivor. 

I am lending my voice to this cause and my prayers for her family and all the families that will be helped by all the work of the Von St. James Family

                  September 26th is Mesothelioma                      Awareness Day!

Displaying Cam_Lil_HVSJ.jpg

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Second floor and some quiet time for me!

   Considering I drive by the lot each day I was overwhelmingly excited to see that yesterday there were major changes to the house. It actually finally looks like a house, the house we lovingly picked it and chose the flooring and cabinets (Maple Espresso) will soon house the sounds of my family.

  Sometimes when I drive by I witness the end of the day. The workers packing up, the machines stopped and parked and the families coming home. Yesterday when I went it was silent on the street and the weather was just right. I came around the corner and there it was..our second floor.

  I jumped out of the car with my phone and started snapping away. Carefully picking my way up the driveway in my ballet flats because I STILL haven't managed to get boots for these trips. I was in awe of what the front of our house looked like. I couldn't resist so I went inside our front door. The stoop was very high and along with my ballet flats I was of course wearing a skirt. I went in could I not?

  It was so quiet in there and I stood right in the middle of the family room and looked around. I could see upstairs and I did creep halfway up but worry over possible safety issues had me feeling I shouldn't venture to much further. It was great to stand inside and get a sense of what it would feel like. We have a LONG way to go, maybe not as LONG as I think but I know the work will really begin and probably take the longest when the inside stuff starts.

  Lately I have had apartment fever. Its feeling a little snug and just little annoyances like having to take the trash all the way to the other side of the parking lot and taking your keys and not being able to take the girls because you have to take the trash..and worrying that if you forget to take the keys you could end up locking your kids in the apartment has begun to wear on me.

  Sharing laundry has lots its charm..So last night in the quiet of the neighborhood and the bones of our soon to be house..I stopped and took a deep breath and hoped for happiness in our new abode.

Here are some pictures and even though I have been assured that the house is the right size it still felt tiny..I am just saying.

Looking at the morning room

Looking upstairs

9 foot ceilings and some space - I can't wait.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

First floor and the foil wrap!

    HOLY MOLY...we have a first floor. I couldn't believe it on Friday when I drove to the lot and there was a first floor. We even have windows and a foil wrap. I could look in and see the downstairs to the basement and thru the front door. I could see the morning room and the family room.

When I first walked thru the garage and peeked into the house my first thought was. UM...this is tiny. How we will fit a refrigerator into this tiny space. Why is this house so small? Did they build it to scale or make a mistake? 

Being that I have never built anything or been in the process of building I left the concern to my husband who came home and said.."Yep, that is tiny" are we sure they are building the exact same size as the model? 

I will assuredly end up asking this question to our project manager when we get our weekly update. I was in the model after I saw this and wasn't reassured as the framing looks tiny. The stairwell downstairs looks so narrow that I am worried that you will have to tuck your elbows in on the way down and that no furniture will fit down the stairs. The front door clearance to the basement seemed so close and snug I worry people may just fall straight down the narrow case. 

Did anyone else feel this way?

Here are some pictures, I was rocking my cell phone and my NIKON so there are a few photos.

View from the rocky driveway (driveway is longer than I originally thought)

From the door that will be in the garage...

Looking into the basement (narrow stairs)

Family room -

This could be the kitchen (i think)..we have a reverse floor plan and it really throws me off...See what I mean? How will a fridge fit in there?

Living room 

Back left view

Standing in the back yard looking at the back of the house

This is the back left of the house, do you see how high our exit from the morning room is? And please notice the tiny basement window. This made my husband and I laugh because when the person who was explaining the window and the garden view to us..I don't know if we fully understood. When she offered us a bigger window in the basement we were like " who wants a bigger window to look level at your yard".. Now we see the window and what a garden view really looks like and I don't mind but feel this could have used better explanation. That tiny window is hilarious.

The space between the house and the morning room is where we hope to build a stone patio..all though we will definitely need to put some stairs coming down.

That was Friday and I CAN"T WAIT to see what the house looks like tomorrow. Here is a worry I didn't rained over the weekend and our lumber is laying out in the rain. Is this okay? Another question for Mike!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Bathtubs, lumber and some changes!

   Yesterday my husband got a call from Mike (PM) with an exciting update. Our lumber has been delivered, we have been back filled and the framing shall commence.  I was excited..I have seen other blogs and have watched the houses get framed and roofs get shingled and I couldn't wait to be part of the framing crowd.

  I drive by every single day on my way home from work and we go as a family once on the weekend. We are lucky to live close so this isn't much out of the way and I really enjoy seeing the progress.

We are currently in a temporary apartment that has 2 bedrooms and 1 bath, we sold our condo that had 2 bedrooms and 2 and 1/2 bathrooms so we are still a bit cramped and going to the site gives me the feel goods.. I digress.

With Mike saying there was a delivery I knew I would want to snap a few pictures. Here is what I noticed..I could stand in the garage on a mound of dirt no -less but still in the garage. I could see into the basement and when I looked down here is what I saw..

Doors and Windows inside the basement...

Bathtubs on the Curb when I drove up...

Left side view of the basement

My shadow self taking pictures of the lumber...

The garage without walls...

Mike said the roofing and framing is the next step so I will of course be doing my visits on the way home and I keep getting excited thinking the next time I go over the hill I will not just see my neighbors house but the frame of our home!

Enjoying every step..

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

We haven't moved yet and I feel broke -


    I am not sure if it was exactly wise to sit down with my husband and write down the list of things we needed for the house. We started off listing so many things I ended up getting a notebook and making 3 different lists. I love lists so secretly this was more fun than I let on at the beginning. 

 We split the list into 3 sections so that we could better see what we were looking at and how to break down the money we would need to spend. 

When building a house you have a couple of months before you start paying your new mortgage amount and that for us has been our biggest worry. Our LO at NVR is aware of this and has been watching the rates so that we can save monthly. This reason would be why I wrote the previous post titled Ode to NVR mortgage.

                                  Priority list #1 - in no particular order

1. Big Girl bed for our 3 year old - Its time to get out of the crib for her and move our 1 year old into the crib. This is essential as our 1 year old is still sharing a room with us and we are very excited for her to have her own space (READ-MY OWN SPACE). I can't wait to walk into our master bedroom and not worry that my footsteps will wake up the baby..Dream a little dream in the Florence for me. 

This is the big girl bed we purchased for my daughter and we can't wait for the transition!

Cottage Retreat Twin Poster Bed in Cream 

2. Washer and Dryer - After extensive research from my friends and friends of friends and good 'OL word on the street has led me away from the fancy looking front loaders that apparently stink and our noisy back to the top loader.  I will admit, I was being wooed by the look of those front loaders but when each of my inquiries and my online research came back with a resounding NO I knew I needed to look past the outer beauty into what would really work. 
Also, I don't want to leave my dryer open to dry because it might smell. I love our laundry room in the Florence but it is not huge and would look tacky leaving the door open. 

Here is what I am currently looking at, nothing flashy but good price and good reviews and high efficiency so all those are good. The set would be $1200 and that is an okay price for me.

Samsung 7.4 cu. ft. Electric Dryer - WhiteSamsung 7.4 cu. ft. Gas Dryer - White

3. Refrigerator- This will be our biggest cost/purchase. We have an old school top freezer and bottom fridge appliance and I love to cook and am often making stuff to take to a get-together so I have decided that I will be venturing into the land of the French Door Refrigerator- We are lucky enough to live close to a Sears Appliance store and they have great prices. We are debating between two brands.

           Kenmore 27.0 cubic feet Elite at $1899 (Great price and smudge free)

          Kenmore 27 cu. ft. French Door Bottom-Freezer Refrigerator w/ Air Filter

Samsung  - 28.0 cubic feet - $1988 but will smudge easy.

          Samsung 28 cu.ft. French Door Refrigerator - Stainless Steel

Both are great options for a fridge and similar prices and configuration, I guess it is all up to the brand. I hear that Samsung has a not great customer service and Kenmore may have the win in this department. 

4. Blinds for the windows- This will be hard because we have 16 windows to cover and I have no clue what I would use yet. Michelle and Kandra are my favorite sales reps and they were awesome with telling me a great place to go and when there was a sale at Home depot..

So with all these costs weighing on my mind I wanted to do what I can to buy the small things secondary list was stuff I didn't even realize I would need...

Shower curtains for the 2 bathrooms, trash cans for those bathrooms -

I also forgot that I have a kitchen table but no slipped my mind. We haven't been able to eat at a table in so long that I forgot about chairs.

I think it might be time for a trip to Ikea..I LOVE IKEA