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Blair

Room Redos

Floored (pt. 1)

March 29, 2017

Well, we’ve been busy bees over the last 7 months making major improvements in both health and home! I’ll skip the boring health stuff (feel free to ask questions if you’d like) and get right to the fun stuff — the house stuff! If you follow us on Instagram,  you may have noticed that we were comparing two wood flooring choices about 10 weeks ago. It’s the last thing I expected us to be doing, however, it was my idea.

One morning, while avoiding getting out of bed and taking the bathroom break that my bladder was begging for, I stumbled upon a pin on removing and replacing tile flooring. While I’ve loved having tile flooring throughout our first level, I’ve hated the actual tile and the constant fight to keep it looking clean. Our tile featured orange undertones and a matte finish that made it a magnet for dirt and grime. Despite trying a multitude of different mops, experiments, and having the floor professionally cleaned, Michael and I both hated it. We talked about replacing it eventually, so I figured knowing how other DIYers handled removing and replacing tile flooring was worth the few extra minutes wrapped in my warm sheets.  I should tell you that if Michael knew what these “few extra minutes” might lead to, he probably would have come in and flipped the mattress to prevent what happened next. What happened next was stumbling upon a related pin about a luxury vinyl flooring product that can be installed over existing floors. What?!

NuCore luxury vinyl is a snap together installation that can be installed over a variety of surfaces, including existing tile, without any underlayment. It’s 100% waterproof, has the look of real wood, comes in a diversity of colors, and can be installed immediately with no acclimation time needed!

I know, right? I searched NuCore (after a quick run to the bathroom) to make sure this was legit. It certainly sounded too good to be true. However, it was true. All of it. I told Michael about it and we were at Floor & Decor within days looking at it for ourselves. Hence this Instagram photo:

We’ve always been smitten with dark wood floors, but I must admit that the grey undertones and distressing of the saddle oak planks were certainly tempting. We bought one plank of the saddle oak color and one plank of the cocoa oak color. (Yes! You can do that!) Once we got them home, it was clear that the cocoa oak was the winner. The saddle oak, while beautiful, was just a little too rustic for us.

After making that decision, Michael headed back to Floor & Decor to return the saddle oak plank and purchase 60 boxes of the cocoa oak. (We estimated that our bottom floor was around 1300 sq. feet, thus leading us to need 60 boxes. However, we ended up returning about 10 boxes.)

The week after Christmas is when we started installing the floor. Honestly, I decided to try out laying the floor in the dining room one weekend before we had actually planned to install it. We ended up having to pull all of that floor up because you truly need to start with a level line on one end of your house, not in the middle of said house like  I was attempting to do. When we did actually start, we started in the half bathroom and I held my breath as we removed the baseboard that we had to custom fit to the lovely pipe that sticks out past the drywall. Speaking of baseboards, we quickly found out the baseboards everywhere else on the first floor were sunken below the tile. The previous owners had the tile installed and apparently, the installers removed whatever was on the floor without removing the baseboards. This means that we couldn’t just pry the baseboards from the walls. No, we had to pry and physically break the baseboards using a mallet and a crowbar with a sharp end. I’d hammer a butter knife behind the top portion of the baseboard to pry it from the wall, then hammer the sharp end of the crowbar into the baseboard and then use it as leverage to lift the baseboard up over the tile.

I actually got a pretty gnarly bruise on my hand from the excessive amount hammering I had to do.

Along with removing the baseboards we also had to remove the pedestal on the sink and the toilet from the bathroom, our shoe cabinet, the washer & dryer, the stove, the fridge, and the dishwasher. (We moved the fridge to the dining room and only slid the stove and the dishwasher out when we got to that section of the kitchen.) We also had to take apart the couch and move everything out of the living room.

All in all, it took us almost two weeks to get the majority of everything done. Rather than go into explaining what would be very difficult to explain, I’ll just give you this link. This video is the best one we found at explaining the proper way to install and lock the seams. It’s not the same flooring brand that we used, but I’m certain that the only difference is in name. The tools he uses are all necessary! The tapping block, the bar, the rubber mallet were all used by us multiple times on every single plank.

In the next post, we’ll share all the after photos in conjunction with a few befores, talk about how the floor is holding up, and what tasks we still need to finish to get this project checked off our list! Here’s a sneak peek of the afters:

 

Latelies

Latelies: What Happened?

July 18, 2016

Well, hey there! Hi! Hello! I must apologize for our absence. We’ve been quite the strangers lately. Not intentionally, of course. So what have we been up to? A lot! Why did we stop posting consistently? That’s something we’re just coming to understand ourselves. As a matter of fact, this is a post I have avoided writing. It’s not… something I like to talk about  something I like to admit It’s safe to say, I’m still coming to terms with the whole thing.

In June of this year, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease. As I mentioned above, I generally avoid saying those words. It hurts to say them. It’s as if I’m admitting that I’m broken. I mean, the word disease alone seems so irreparable, like a sentence on one’s life. Nonetheless, it explains SO much of this past year.

Let’s start with a few facts:

  • Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease, not a thyroid disease. It’s the immune system’s inability to recognize itself and the tissues / organs it’s sworn to protect.
  • It affects up to 10% of the US population
  • 90% of cases of hypothyroidism are a result of Hashimoto’s.
  • 50% of those with Hashimoto’s will develop other autoimmune conditions in 5-7 years
  • The women to men ratio of Hashimoto’s is 10:1
  • There are no medications to lower the TPO antibodies

 

here-lately.com

We started seeing a new doctor this year and as part of their new patient exam for adults, they do a full blood work up. My blood revealed that my thyroid peroxidase was at 236 (normal range is <9 IU/ML) and my thyroglobulin AB at was 26 (normal range <4 IU/ML). And that was it. Those two little lines on my labs resulted in, “You have Hashimoto’s disease.” My TSH, T4, and T3 (thyroid hormones) were all within the normal range, which means my thyroid is trying to go about its daily work while being relentlessly attacked by my immune system. (Thanks, buddy. I appreciate you.) Because my levels are normal at the moment, I don’t need and can’t use replacement thyroid hormones.

I’ve felt both unacceptance and relief. I felt relieved because I finally had a reason for why I felt like I was going crazy. I was 20 lbs overweight and nothing I did really changed that — although, I didn’t really exert too much energy trying to change it. (I’m about acceptance and desserts.) I was SO tired ALL the time. No matter what time I went to bed, how much sleep I got, it wasn’t enough. And that right there is the number one reason why we haven’t been blogging as consistently. I was drinking 3 cups of coffee a day just to have enough energy to make lunch for my kids and drive to pick up my husband. I kept telling myself and everyone else that I was just overloaded and stressed. Because that’s what I believed. I thought it was normal to feel that exhausted ALL THE TIME. After all, I had just started working a part time job, Michael went from working at home to working 15 minutes away. Not only was he leaving earlier and getting home later, but I was the one bringing him to and from work! I was also dropping children off  at two different schools and picking them up at two different times. Not to mention my job, the housework, the grocery shopping, the bill paying, finishing house projects, meal planning… I was just stressed. Right? Aside from being exhausted, I had other things going on: bloating, the back of my neck broke out in pimples continuously, my memory was terrible, unexplained anxiety, and my cognitive functions were delayed. I would lose my train of thought in the middle of speaking, it would take me longer to process simple questions. I remember calling a friend crying because I had such slowed cognitive functions at a work event that I thought it probably seemed like I was drunk. I don’t even drink!!

It’s great to have an explanation for all of these things but there’s no medicine? (Only a hope for remission.) What the heck am I supposed to do?! (There’s the unacceptance, friends.) Then came the anvil. She told me that in addition to getting my antibodies checked every 6 months, I need to eat grain-free. What? We have already been eating gluten-free for the last 8 years because of an intolerance. We don’t cheat. Ever. Because I know that cheating can start a wildfire in your body that can lead to other autoimmune diseases — like Hashimoto’s. (Insert side-eye emoticon here.) I remember asking her, “So what exactly are you classifying as a grain?” I left the appointment and cried in my driveway for a few minutes before mustering the courage to walk into the house and say to Michael the words I didn’t want to say, to tell him what she told me.

It may seem silly, if you’ve never had to be on a restrictive diet, suddenly and without warning. Gluten-free was hard enough. It took eight years to develop an amazing muffin recipe. To find a recipe for chocolate chip cookies that are to die for. Weeks earlier, I had finally mastered gluten-free flour tortillas. And bread? FINALLY, we had a delicious, foolproof sandwich bread recipe. But now not only can I not have gluten or dairy but I also have to avoid all grains? Meaning the gluten-free grains that I’ve used to develop the recipes that make us feel like “normal” people?!

 

I started rationalizing. What’s the big deal? A lot of people take thyroid medicine and go about their lives. If this destroys my thyroid, I’ll just take medicine and still be able to eat my cookies. Then I started reading. My doctor also told me to read the Root Cause by Izabella Wentz. I might as well be studying for my final exam in endocrinology or the thyroid. I also started reading the Autoimmune Solution by Amy Myers. I’m not done with either book at the moment because it’s just so much to digest. (Pun!) But the first thing I learned is that having an autoimmune disease makes me three times more likely to develop another one. More serious, more debilitating autoimmune diseases like MS, lupus, type 1 diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis just to name a few.

So after navigating through a very confusing maze of information and in an effort to find my root cause, I started the Autoimmune Protocol elimination diet (AIP). It’s basically Paleo to the extreme. In addition to being gluten-free, grain-free, and dairy-free this diet also has me avoiding nightshades, nuts, seeds, eggs, coffee, and legumes. Did you know that certain spices like paprika  and even black pepper are considered nightshades? That’s right, I can’t even have black pepper! I find that more unbelievable than I am angry about it. I won’t get into how food is such a big factor in autoimmune conditions, you’ll have to look that up for yourself, but this elimination diet is supposed to hit the reset button on my gut and immune system. It’s done it for a minimum of 30 days, with absolutely no cheating. After the 30 days, you start to add things back in one by one and see if you have a reaction to them. This will help me hone in one what is actually affecting me negatively and what is not. In case you’re wondering, I will never be able to add gluten or dairy back in, and I’ll probably have to avoid most grains, as they can be cross-reactive with gluten. (You can look that up, too.) I did make one exception. I’m foregoing my anti-cheating nature, to make an exception for rice. I will have rice in gumbo, not all the time, but maybe once a year. I told Michael, “Because I’d rather die happy eating gumbo than live without it.” (You can’t take the cajun out of the girl…)

I’m 26 days into the AIP diet, and generally, I haven’t felt deprived. I’ve bought and cooked things I’ve never seen before. Turnips and Yucca root, for example. And they’re good! I’ve lost 14 lbs, I have no breakouts, rarely any bloating, and I’m NOT EXHAUSTED! What?! You people have been holding out on me. This is what normal feels like? Holy cow! I could take over the world, salsa dance, and climb a mountain all in one day feeling like this! I really didn’t know how bad things were until they weren’t anymore. But knowing has also made me somewhat paranoid. Now if I feel tired, I go into mini-panic mode trying to recount any and every reason why I might be tired. As I type this, I’m noticing that the left side of my face feels bumpy. Why? WHY?! Is this a symptom of Hashimoto’s?! Is all of this stuff really not helping? Therein lies the hurdle. Aside from the way I’m feeling, I don’t really know if all of this is helping. I won’t know until I have more blood work done. I could request that it be done sooner, and I might, but labs can be expensive. I don’t want to go too soon and waste it. Maybe? I’m not sure that that even makes sense.

So, that is the very personal and very long explanation of why we’ve gone months at a time without blogging. I do want to share the updates we’ve made to the house with you soon, though! Everything for landscaping to exterior paint.

 

*As a side note: I know that gluten-free and Paleo and all those other crazy “diets” seem to just be the latest fad. I just want to take this opportunity to tell you that no one who has to be on a restrictive diet actually wants to be. The first year that we went gluten-free was spent mostly in tears. Tears because I could never have my great-grandmother’s fig tarts again. Tears because pizza, lasagna, and queso were no longer something I could enjoy. Tears because gluten-free dough didn’t act the same and I had to completely relearn how to cook. I mourned for an entire year. And occasionally I still get sad about what I can’t have. Food can be a very social thing or it can be a very isolating thing. It is incredibly isolating when you have to say no to dinner with friends or go to that picnic/bbq/wedding/funeral where there is nothing for you to eat and you just sit and watch everyone eating the food you wish you could eat. You don’t stop being hungry just because there is nothing for you to eat. You don’t stop desiring your favorite foods just because they make you sick. The kindest thing you could ever do for someone on a restrictive diet is to go out of your way and learn about what they can and can not have and make them something. Make sure they have not just options but good options to eat at that birthday party/bbq/funeral/family reunion. Let them know you see them. That they’re not forgotten. That they’re not going to have to put on a smile and act normal while they feel so isolated and like a burden. It’s a small thing that is a big deal.