Friday, July 14, 2017

Stretched to my limit (in more ways than one)

I'm getting ready to head up to bed but feel the need to document this time in my life. There has definitely been a void in my life where journal writing used to be a priority. I certainly miss venting, expressing my thoughts and feelings, analyzing and reading myself to understand my feelings better. I never thought I would let that slide but I am now at the phase of life where I can only do the necessities and journal writing (including blogging) rarely makes the cut. I could do it after my kids are in bed but I'm just so tired, so it usually doesn't happen (other than keeping up with their individual blogs, which are essentially letters from me to them). But tonight I'm making an exception.

Maybe because I'm 35 weeks and 5 days pregnant with twin boys and know that things are about to change for our family of five as it grows to a family of seven very soon. I am feeling so overwhelmed as I think of the things on my to-do list that need to be done before their arrival in a couple of weeks, if not sooner (twins are considered full term at 38 weeks). Our house is disheveled because Wendel is remodeling our loft for us (bless his heart - he's devoting every spare minute he has to this project) so everything that was in our loft is now elsewhere and it's a bit cluttered and crazy. I am feeling overwhelmed at the thought of giving enough attention to five children, two of whom will be crying infants. I am feeling overwhelmed with one of my children, who was recently diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Anxiety, and with whom every day feels so difficult and discouraging (and has for a long time). I am feeling inadequate as a mother a lot of the time, definitely as a homemaker (I cannot keep up with our house right feels like the movie Groundhog's Day where, like Bill Murray trying figure out how to keep from reliving February 2nd over and over again, I keep trying to clean it but it always ends up a disaster and my efforts are in vain. It is stressful and frustrating, probably more so with these babies making their arrival any time).

I have always been able to easily focus on the positive but I feel like I'm just a little worn down right now and it's much more difficult to do so lately. This is definitely a difficult phase of life, probably the most difficult we have faced in terms of discouragement and frustration (related to parenting, specifically). I think this might be a good time to list a few things I'm grateful for, to help me re-focus on the positives.

  1. A happy marriage. I'm very grateful for Wendel. 
  2. Our children. They can be very challenging but I am grateful for them and the opportunity I have to be their mother. 
  3. The Spirit. What a truly amazing gift to feel of His promptings and guidance. 
  4. Prayer. Specifically, a relationship with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and a way to communicate with them. 
  5. Eleanor's eye specialists. 
  6. Eleanor's progress with her eye. We really think she has some vision in her little eye, which is such a blessing. 
  7. Our home. 
  8. Wendel's job. 
  9. The gifts I've been blessed with (including a positive disposition, faith and determination, which I rely on daily)
  10. Two baby boys about to join our family. 

22.5 Weeks

May 2017
May 2017 - my stomach does come in handy as a table.
June 2017
31.5 weeks
35.5 weeks and so ready to be done!
Sweet Baby A Ultrasound Picture May 2017 (I can see Josh here)

Sweet Baby B Ultrasound Picture April 2017 (I can see Wendel here)

 Despite this chaotic, stressful time in our lives, I'm grateful for these sweet baby boys about to join our family and for all that we are blessed with. One day at a time.

Friday, January 13, 2017

2016 in Review

It's New Year's Eve and time to write my annual Year in Review post. 

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before? Met with a Psychologist and Psychiatrist regarding one of our children. (The Psychologist was somewhat helpful. I was not at all impressed with the Psychiatrist and did not feel good about the medication she prescribed so we're not going that route.)
2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?  Some, yes. I will make two or three attainable goals. 
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? No, not this year. 
4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes. My Paternal Grandfather, Mel Roberts, passed away on April 1, 2016. He had said several times that the only reason he was still around was to take care of my Grandma so it wasn't surprising that he died only six months after her. His health was not good. He was in an assisted care facility, temporarily, when he passed. My cousin, Britney, worked as a nurse there. She said he got up that morning and had oatmeal and did his physical therapy and seemed fine. Later that day, she was in his room with him and he started acting strangely. She said he started talking about how there were so many babies everywhere and then he said, "I'm dying" and he shut down. He had asked not to be resuscitated so the staff did not resuscitate him. I also want to note he told my sister, Lindsey, previously that he had had experiences since my Grandma's death where he spoke with her and she spoke to him. He didn't go into detail about it but I have no doubt that he did. I miss him but I'm glad he is no longer in pain and restricted by his aged, sick mortal body. I am glad he is with his wife and other family members who have gone on before him. He was a good man, one I admire and appreciate. One thing his Bishop said about him at his funeral is that he always expressed gratitude, even when he was in pain. I love that about my Grandpa. I try to be that way too. 
5. What countries did you visit? Maybe someday. 
6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016? A cleaner, more organized home (especially our bedroom). I really struggle to keep up with it with the demands of our children. I feel like I can only keep up with the basics. Our home isn't dirty and unkept but I feel like the movie Groundhog's Day where I do dishes, laundry, sweep, mop, vacuum and you can't even tell by the end of the day. It's frustrating living that way. Our kids do their contributions but it takes a lot of effort to make sure that gets done and takes away from me doing my jobs. 
7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory and why? December 7, 2016 (the day I found out I'm pregnant with our fourth child!!). 
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Being a good mom to three kids. It takes all I have. 
9. What was your biggest failure? Nothing big - just little frustrations - things I try to be better at and then let slip. 
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing serious. 
11. What was the best thing you bought? Synthetic grass for our backyard. This is what I asked for for Christmas. I want the backyard to be a nice place for the kids to play. We also got the kids a big trampoline and sandbox for Christmas and Wendel is still working on the clubhouse for them. I'm excited to see it all come together.   
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Eleanor continues to do well with the challenges she faces with her eye. She doesn't like patching but she does it, she doesn't like having her contact taken out and put in, but she willingly puts her arms down at her sides so I can sit over them when it's time, and she continues to have a happy, peaceful disposition. Josh has made big strides with potty training this year. In the past several months, he has gone from insisting on only going in his diaper to going pee on his little froggy potty and not wearing a diaper at night. He does fantastic with this and hardly ever has an accident (sometimes at night but not always). He is still working on overcoming his fear of going #2 in Froggy and extreme anxiety of sitting / going on a big toilet but I'm proud of the steps he has made so far. Oliver and I have been working a lot on controlling his emotions. I get a babysitter once a week and spend quality 1:1 time with him (we often go through his workbook "What to Do When Your Temper Flares" and play soccer or get frozen yogurt). I can see some improvement. It is nice to see him making efforts and gaining some confidence in this area. 
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? People I hear about on the news. Sad stories and disappointments in the human race. Still. Always. 
14. Where did most of your money go? The Casa Grande house Wendel is flipping, groceries, our backyard. 
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Finding out I am expecting our fourth child!! (Due August 13, 2017)
16. What song will always remind you of 2016? "Cheap Thrills" by Sia, "Can't Stop the Feeling" by Justin Timberlake, "Cake by the Ocean" by DNCE, "My House" by Flo Rida (these are from my dance class), Stressed Out by 21 Pilots, Ride by 21 Pilots and "Hallelujah" by Cinematic Pop (we went to this concert. I love this song). 
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Just as happy. 
b) thinner or fatter? A little fatter, probably, due to being pregnant. 
c) richer or poorer? Richer, both financially and by way of feeling blessed with our three beautiful children. 
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? My answer is always the same for this question. I always wish I had more time to work on family history - mostly our kids' books. It's very important to me and I want to make it a priority but can't keep up right now with even the basics. I'm just so exhausted. But I have no regrets about the amount of time I spend with our children. That takes priority. I also love that I'm able to keep up with their blogs, which is very important to me. I really want to print their blogs into books like year. 
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? No big regrets in this area. 
20. How did you spend Christmas? Christmas with our kids (and Wendel's sister, Bethaney, and her husband, Jonathan, who had our name for Christmas this year and wanted to watch us open their gift) in the morning and then we went to Wendel's parents' house in the evening. 
21. Did you fall in love in 2016? I will give the same answer as last year because I still feel the same: More in love with my family. Our kids our amazing, my husband is wonderful...I feel incredibly blessed. 
22. What was your favorite TV program? Wendel and I are enjoying "Once Upon a Time" right now. We don't watch much TV but this is a fun one. 
23. What was the best book you read? "Raising Your Spirited Child" by Mary Kurcinka. I liked this book because I felt like I wasn't alone. Other people have been down the road of raising a spirited child. I had a support group, even if only in a book. 
24. What was your greatest musical discovery? Cinematic Pop. Such amazing talent! Wendel and I went to high school with the writer and conductor, Rob Gardner, as well as some of the people in the group. 
25. What did you want and get? Synthetic grass in our backyard. Wendel is almost done installing it. Yay! 
26. What did you want and not get? Nothing comes to mind. 
27. What was your favorite film of this year? Nothing comes to mind. We don't go to see many movies. Life is busy. 
28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 37 this year. Birthdays are pretty low-key. I honestly don't remember much about it. I'm sure it was good but a lot has happened since then. Plus pregnancy brain. 
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? I feel like having a clean and organized home + having time to spend on family history stuff would bring satisfaction, but on the other hand, I would have to give up other things to make those happen and I'm not sure the tradeoff would be worth it. I feel like I'm keeping the most important things as the most important things right now. 
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016? I look and dress like a mom most of the time. It's who I am. 
31. What kept you sane? My answer is the same as last year: Wendel. Always Wendel. We're in this crazy, survival time together. Also, my testimony keeps me grounded. I would be a different person without it, I think. 
32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? None, really.
33. What political issue stirred you the most? The election this year was agonizing. I didn't identify with any of the candidates and went back and forth for a long time on voting for Trump, just to vote against Hillary, or voting third party, because I couldn't stand to vote for either Trump or Hillary. I liked some things about Hillary: her views on immigration and empowering girls to follow their dreams. I did not agree with her liberal views of spending, her stance on gun control, and especially her view of abortion (supporting abortion at 36 weeks, which she says is due to the safety of the mother, but there are other ways to ensure her safety without aborting), among other things. I also felt she was not trustworthy. I just didn't feel good about her. The same goes for Trump. I couldn't trust him and was appalled by the way he  has treated women in the past. I don't agree with his stance on immigration (breaking up families to send people back to Mexico, including children) but I agree with several of his other policies. In the end, I voted third party. It felt like a lose / lose / lose situation. 
34. Who did you miss? Same as last year: I miss my sister, Lindsey, a lot. I love that we're closer since she had a baby. We're finally at the same place in life (we're nine years apart) and I love being able to relate with her. 
35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015: Just because something is difficult doesn't mean it isn't right. Similarly, just because something is right does not mean it's going to be easy. In fact, it usually isn't. I have seen this several times throughout my mission, being engaged to and marrying Wendel and the trial of my faith that went along with that, going to Graduate School while being pregnant and having our first child, moving to Arizona, and most recently, the decision to have a fourth child (we received such strong, undeniable promptings about having another child but it is definitely not easy being pregnant in my late 30s while taking care of three other active, demanding children). 
36. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: 
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise

[Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing by Robert Robinson] *My favorite hymn. 

I chose these lyrics because I feel my Heavenly Father did have to tune my heart to be in accordance to His will (regarding having another child) and I have definitely seen many streams of mercy throughout this past year. Tender mercies which definitely call for praise. Tender mercies with Eleanor's eye, her surgeries, Josh's hand surgery going well (and his accident not being more severe), getting through his anxiety (from the accident) with therapy, making strides with Oliver, being strengthened to meet the demands before us (with family, callings, Wendel's job), having the Spirit as our companions to guide us through this life, having good friends, support from family, being blessed by Wendel's job, and so many other things. It has certainly been a challenging year but it has been filled with too many blessings to count. 

37. What are your resolutions for 2017? I would like to set up a better system for backing up and streamlining the photos we take. Organization and family history are a given. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

New Beginnings

I got released from my two favorite callings ever today: Sunday School Teacher for the 10/11 year-olds and Activity Days Leader for the 10/11 year-old girls. It was an emotional day but I also felt the Spirit so strongly as I bore my testimony to the Primary Children in my new role as Second Counselor in the Primary Presidency. These children are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. They are precious to Him. They are the next generation. I'm grateful I will have the opportunity to teach and bare testimony to them in this capacity (though, admittedly, a little nervous, as I know nothing about the Scouting Program, which I will be working with). I've said it before, but it rings true again that whenever we put our hearts into something, we leave a piece of us behind. Here's to new beginnings.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Healthier Chicken Pillows

Chicken Pillows are a favorite of my children and husband (me, not so much). Being kind of a health nut, I don't like making these as often as they are requested (which is weekly). The original version calls for a cream cheese, sour cream and chicken mixture inside of crescent roll dough, with the uncooked rolls dipped in melted butter, bread crumbs and then covered with a condensed chicken soup gravy. While still not the healthiest meal ever, this version makes me a little more comfortable serving it to my family frequently.

Healthier Chicken Pillows 

  • Shredded chicken taco meat (I usually plan to make these the day after I make chicken tacos with the leftover meat) or plain shredded chicken meat. 
  • 2 containers of Pillsbury Crescent rolls
  • 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese 
  • Fresh spinach (or other vegetable, such as zuchinni, shredded carrot, etc)
  • Olive oil
  • Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • Homemade cheese sauce from Skinnytaste 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Mix shredded chicken and cream cheese together. Lay out the Pillsbury triangles so two triangles go together to form a square. Put a scoop of the chicken mixture on each square and add some torn spinach leaves. Bring the corners of the dough together at the top. Brush each "pillow" with a little olive oil on the top and bottom of the pillow and roll it in a bowl of Italian seasoned bread crumbs. Put the pillows on the cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.

For the cheese sauce:

1 1/2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups skim milk
1 cup fat free chicken broth (vegetarians use vegetable broth)
8 oz (2 cups) reduced-fat sharp cheddar (Cabot 50%)
salt and fresh pepper to taste

In a large, heavy skillet, melt butter. Add flour and cook another minute, or until the flour is golden and well combined. Add milk and chicken broth and whisk, raising heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil; cook about 5 minutes or until the sauce becomes smooth and thick. Season with salt (or seasoning salt) and pepper. Once the sauce is thick, remove from heatadd cheese and mix well until cheese is melted. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Cover a pillow with cheese sauce and enjoy.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My "Mom Mission Statement"

My friend Emily Poland posted on Facebook recently, asking her mom friends to share: "What's important to you? What legacy do you want to leave your children? And what pitfalls are you working to avoid?" She's putting together a Mom Mission Statement and wanted some inspiration. I really love this idea so I'm sharing mine here. 


My Mom Mission Statement

I want to teach my children to "never be weary of good works" (Alma 37:34), to recognize how the Spirit speaks to them and to have faith and courage to act on those promptings, that they can do hard things, that just because something is hard, doesn't mean it isn't right, to be kind to others, to be accepting of differences, to serve and love others, that the key to feeling happy is serving others, to cherish the scriptures, to get along with and love each other as siblings (this is a huge focus right now), to appreciate diversity, to eat healthy and take care of their bodies, to value education, to find what they are passionate about and pursue it, to make a life plan and make goals to accomplish it, I want them to know that sacrifices often make experiences sacred (take parenthood for example), to love books and learning, I want to teach them responsibility (contributing to family responsibilities is a big focus as well), to be respectful, to say sorry and ask for forgiveness when they're in the wrong (I get lots of opportunities to lead by example with this one), to "be patient in thy afflictions" (D&C 24:8), to have open communication, confidence but also humble hearts, to know of their worth as children of God and as my children, to make wise financial decisions, to appreciate their ancestors and what they can learn from them, to know of my constant love for them, to cultivate a good life and record it, to remember that "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass" (Alma 37:6), and to have a good relationship with their Heavenly Father ("Cry unto God for all thy support...let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord, let the affections of they heart be placed on the Lord forever...counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and He will direct thee for good." Alma 37: 36-37). I strive to engage their minds, to encourage play, and to say "I love you" as often as I can. I strive to offer choices to teach them decision-making skills, keep my emotions under control, remember that they are kids and they are an amazing blessing and they only have one childhood.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Dear Future Self

Dear Future Self,

So here's the thing. I know I will miss this crazy, hectic, chaotic life. I know I will miss the love I feel from them and their adorable quotes and probably even the mess, because it means they are here with me. But the days are long. And they are hard. And I honestly don't know how I'm going to make it 20 more years. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be a mother and there are so many good parts and things I wouldn't trade for anything but please don't look back on this time with rose-colored glasses and tell everyone you meet to just enjoy it. Instead, tell them you know how hard it is and that they are doing amazing things daily. Tell them to do their best and record their experiences and feelings so they can hold these in their hearts forever, even after their children have grown up. Tell them it's okay to feel frustrated and to not enjoy every moment. Don't feel guilty about feeling stressed and overwhelmed and wondering if you're doing it right or wrong. Tell them to stay positive and keep going and that there are seasons in life and someday this season will pass but for now, appreciate what you can and do your best. Because that person you say, "Just enjoy it. It passes quickly" to may have had a day like mine. They may be on hour 12 of 15 1/2 when you approach them with your wisdom.

Today there was the usual waking up at 6:30 to get Oliver out the door for school by 7:00. There was the routine stuff like getting breakfast for my kids and working out at the church. There were errands to run and we cleaned out the car (which has to happen every two weeks or it reaches the point of no return). There was also the stressful moment when Oliver threw a rock at Josh and he, in turn, threw it at Norah, while I was driving. Our boys collect rocks. I find them in their pockets, the washing machine, the dryer, the car, there is a big pile of them in our front yard, in their rooms, on the carpet...pretty much everywhere. I heard a painful scream from Norah and pulled over as quickly as I could. The rock had hit just below her small eye, leaving a bleeding bruise.
It was so close to hitting her in her small eye and that scared me. A lot. I kept my cool but was also firm and expressed concern and frustration. I cancelled our park plans and told the boys we would be doing extra chores today instead. That, of course, is really a punishment for me because I have to monitor said chores, along with their constant fighting and tattling, instead of letting them burn energy at the park. Then there was soccer practice and it's always stressful getting out the door to that. An emotional meltdown is guaranteed. Then I start questioning if we should even have Oliver in sports because his days are long and start early and he's just so tired by the time soccer practice rolls around at 5:30. And then I start comparing the pros and cons of being on a team and playing sports as opposed to staying home and not rushing out the door. And of course we were late, even though I started the process a half hour before we had to leave. Fighting on the way there, fighting on the way home. Sandwiches and oranges for dinner (and cereal) because there wasn't time for anything else. It's bedtime and the dishes are piled up in the sink from yesterday and the house is a mess and the boys are fighting again. I get Oliver to sleep and then Josh won't sleep and Norah cries for two hours because she's teething. Norah is crying because she's tired and all I want to do is relax a little but I know there are still hours before that is even a possibility, if I even get to that part of the evening before I fall asleep. (Wendel had mutual tonight so I was solo.)

So choose your words wisely. Be kind and non-judgmental and don't forget how truly difficult the day-to-day is.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Eleanor's Room

It was so much fun putting together my little girl's room. I hoped for a little girl for several years and now that I have one, I'm enjoying every aspect of it, including making her room a beautiful place for her. I wanted to incorporate some of my furniture from when I was young into her space to add some sentiment for her. I started with this beautiful banner and went from there.

A friend of mine in Washington made the banner and brought it to a Domestic Diva Party (where a bunch of girls got together and brought their favorite "domestic" item they used frequently in their home ie. their favorite dish soap or dish gloves to protect their hands or favorite stain remover, or something to make their home beautiful, etc and then exchanged gifts white-elephant style where we would open and steal three times). This banner was one of the gifts, made by my friend Jenni, and I was the lucky one to go home with it. I saved it for years, wrapped around a cardboard tube, intending to plan my daughter's room around it if I ever had a girl. I pulled colors from the banner to use throughout the room. I love the banner and how the room turned out on account of it. The window bench is an Ikea shelf turn on its side. Tutorial here. I picked out the fabric for the quilt and my mom made it. I love how it turned out. The stripped bins are from Target, the dot pillows are from Pottery Barn and were gifted to me by my mom several years ago. 
The white shelf was mine when I was a young girl. It was stained wood so I painted it white to match Eleanor's room.The matching frames on the wall were a thrift store find. I spray painted them white. The green frame is from Michael's. The crib was Oliver's, then Joshua's and now Eleanor's. The wall color is "Tomorrow's Child" from Ace Hardware. 
The lace curtains are from Ikea. 
This shelf was a gift from my mom when we first got married. It was a dark evergreen color so I repainted it (Eagle's Mark from Ace Hardware) to match the room. The big E is from Walmart, the white frame in the middle is from Ikea. The name bunting is handmade by a woman in Australia, who also made name buntings for my boys. She has since closed her etsy shop, sadly. I love her work.
This is what the shelf looked like before I gave it a fresh new coat of paint (as well as some sanding and priming).
The white heart shelf was mine when I was a girl. I also painted it white. The yellow rug is from Urban Outfitters but I don't see it on their site anymore. 
The print in the frame is from this etsy shop. The frame is from Michael's. The wire basket is from Target.
This dresser was definitely a labor of love. I bought it on a local buy, sale, trade site for around $60 and my friend, Autumn, helped me paint it (she's amazing!). She taught me the right way to sand, prime, sand, prime, sand, prime, paint, sand, paint until it looked perfect. We also added a coat of polyurethane at the end (maybe two coats with sanding in between - I can't remember now). It was a long process but I love how it turned out. The color is "Coastal Breeze" found at Ace Hardware (we used good quality paint brushes, not spray paint). The knobs are from Hobby Lobby. The changing pad is from Amazon and the lamp base and shade are from Target.
This is what the dresser looked like when I bought it. The knobs weren't too pretty but I loved the scalloped edges and the sturdy wood. I knew it had a lot of potential. 
 We already had the mirror but it was a light turquoise color so I spray painted it white.
The laundry basket and trash can are also from Target (the trash can was in the dollar section. Can't beat $3.). 
The cubby shelf in the closet is one we already had, which was from Target. Her room is the smallest in our house, so I didn't have a whole lot of space to work with for storage items. So putting this shelf in the closet made a lot of sense. I keep her shoes, swim stuff, extra sheets, etc in these. The cubby containers are mostly Martha Stewart from Home Depot, except for the polka dot one, which is from Target. The clock is from Amazon
And just to give you an idea of what the room looked like before it was painted and made girly and beautiful. It was our guest room previously. I forgot to take a picture before we moved the bed out but here's the one shot I do have.
Definitely a lot of work, determination, some money and a lot love went into this bedroom for our little girl. It also took a lot of patience because it took much longer than I would have preferred. I started in October 2014 (my sister flew here from Utah to help me paint the walls) and finished final details in October a whole year! But I love it and I think this little cutie does as well. Worth the effort! 

I've had people ask me if I tried to be frugal with her room. I used several items I already had (three shelves, the mirror and the crib) to save money. I tried to be frugal with some things (the curtains were inexpensive, the rug was a great deal for a rug (less than $20), and a couple of the frames are thrift store finds). But I did spend money, too, mostly on the window seat bench and paint (for the shelves and walls) as well as paint supplies. It definitely adds up. I also put a lot into the little details, such as the storage bins, frames, clock, vase + flowers, framed print, etc. Each of these is fairly inexpensive on its own but they do add up as well. If you're wanting to redo a room like this, make a list, starting with the things you know you really want (paint for the walls, for example) and then make another "wish list." Look on Craigslist or similar sites for things on your "wish list" to save money. Look in the "As Is" section at Ikea. Bookmark favorite items online and then wait for them to go on clearance before you purchase them. And be prepared to exercise a lot of patience! I am also so thankful for my husband for helping me with things like hanging the shelves and the curtain rods. I'm not good at the kind of stuff but he's amazing. 

Let me know if you have any questions. I would be happy to answer them for you.