You’re welcome, Kevin

Atom & our boys built a catwalk last week. Literally. All four (yes four) of our kitties like to be up as high as possible. In our house in San Diego (pre Kevin) we had a really tall cat tree & a high shelf that the cats loved. Lately, Kevin has been trying to jump up on (or in) as many high places as he can get to. #dammitkevin

At first they built a sort of cat tree up the wall with repurposed wood & carpet that was ripped up from where the second floor kitchen will be built. Needless to say the cats loved it!

Our boys really like building things and Atom enlisted their help to take it a step further (in typical Atom fashion) & designed and built a high playground around part of the living room. After a trip to the hardware store to buy more wood, rope & anchor screws they got to work. The entire thing was built while I was at work so I wasn’t able to take any during photos.

The wood will eventually be painted to match whatever color we decide on when we scrape & repaint all of the walls & ceiling. Atom added a section that was a bit wider than the rest with a comfy pad for them to nap on. He will also be adding strips of the carpet on top of the wood for better traction.

It took the cats a couple days to figure out how to pass each other while going from one end to the other. At one point Kevin took a flying leap from up top to the back of the sofa. #dammitkevin

Kevin really likes napping up there. He’s so cute & quiet & STILL while he sleeps. LOL!

It’s seriously like a cat superhighway. They are really enjoying having a high place to go/escape to & reign over their humans. Especially when Stewart (our one year old yorkie) wants to play & they don’t. Haha.

They are a bit disappointed that the walkway stops at the other column. I have a feeling we will eventually continue the bridges all the way around that section of the room to make it a giant square. Agnes (all 20 pounds of her) voiced her annoyance.

The other cats are very patient with the Tasmanian devil that is Kevin. Even when he wants nothing more to play whack-a-mole with them.

I really like how it turned out & I know the cats do as well.

Okay now back to kitchen building!

Theresa

6 months in

Six months ago today we arrived in Indiana after a grueling 36 hour road trip. It is hard to believe we have lived here for half of a year! This little town has absolutely stolen our hearts and we are so glad we landed here. We have been incredibly blessed and have been welcomed here with open arms. And it has been quite a wild ride. I still can’t believe we live in a 20,000 square foot 4 story building!!!

I have been thinking about making this post and what I would talk about for awhile now. Every time I would start to write it I would start to feel a bit discouraged because we both thought we would be farther along with our renovations than we are. Having a rather large internet following of our project led to us (or at least me) feeling like I had to maintain our renovation schedule & stay on track or we would let down our followers and family/friends. I’m sure there are some people out there who will be the first to laugh and say “I told you so.” It made me sit back and really reflect on how far we have actually come.

We started this journey with exploding water pipes that had frozen during winter. I’ll admit that there was a moment of “what were we thinking in taking on this project?!” Thankfully that feeling only lasted a moment and I got my head back in the game. We then made the decision that from that moment on we would not let any frustrations or unseen bumps in the road deter us from making our dreams come true.

I want to make this recap post about what we have accomplished in the past 6 months. I actually sat down and made a list of what we have done since arriving in Indiana and beginning this adventure. Each project that we have tackled of course meant 5,000 other smaller projects that needed to be done in order to finish the main one. Any homeowner will agree with me on that one! We are just doing it on a massively larger scale. Atom tore out everything in an old pink guest bathroom (except for the urinal) and rebuilt it into a stunning cedar plank/horse trough country themed one. Updated water lines were run and new water heaters installed. The former office on the second floor was cleaned out and layers of decades old linoleum scraped, original wood floors sanded and our daughter was thrilled to have her own room which was like a castle in size compared to her room in our house back in San Diego. Her room hasn’t been painted or decorated yet, but she couldn’t be happier to have her own space.

Brand new custom double doors and lighting were put up at the entrance to the second level from the stairs. Definitely made the 6,000 sq ft second floor feel more like our “house.” Atom knocked down part of a wall to make a laundry room just off the foyer on the second level. Photos of that will come soon, after it’s finished and the barn doors hung. We installed 10 fully infrared security cameras that cover the entire outside of the building. With a building of its sheer size we wanted eyes all the way around, especially for when we have a business or whatever. Up on the third floor Atom and our boys took down the arches on the gigantic wall and sanded/painted it to make a 20 ft movie screen. They hooked up our projector and surround sound stereo system which made for an incredible Star Wars viewing experience.

We transformed an old beat up desk that was left behind in the building into a glittery masterpiece. That was quite a process and we had fun doing it. The library has been unpacked and organized and is now a place of retreat and crafting fun for all of us to enjoy. Atom removed all of the old acoustical ceiling tiles in the basement (all 360 of them!) and took down the metal grid that held them up. He is currently working on smashing out the drop ceiling in the basement to give it more of an industrial look and eventually the plaster will also be taken off the walls to expose the original gorgeous brickwork. Our next big project that is in the works is starting to build a kitchen on the second floor.

In addition to what we have done to the building we have been making so many memories and starting new traditions here. We jumped in head first at our new church and are both very involved. I started singing/playing guitar on the worship team within 3 weeks of living here. Atom has also recently joined the worship team playing the mandolin and electric guitar. I helped start a women’s ministry along with an amazing group of ladies and I’m super excited to see where the Lord leads us. We hosted a block party back in July to officially meet our neighbors in our surrounding block. I became the “taco fairy” and have made many mystery taco drops to new friends to bring a smile to their face and a taco to their tummy. We were interviewed for a front page story of the local newspaper. I accepted a job at a hospital which I absolutely LOVE and have been working full time, enjoying every minute of it.

I still get recognized often while at work from people in the community who saw the newspaper article from a few months ago. We have made some amazing friends here and while we miss our friends and family back in California, having friends who accept us has made our transition here so much easier. We hosted a taco party a couple weeks ago for our new friends and had an epic broomball battle in the basement.

Our kids have settled in and are thriving here. They have also made friends quickly and enjoy making the building their playground. Having 2 parking lots is also highly convenient for outside play time. Our neighbors next door put up a basketball hoop and all of the kids have a blast playing together. They are really good about keeping us on our toes!!

We have also encountered our share of challenges since moving here. While we have zero regrets after making the cross country move, it hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows. I’d be lying if I said it was. Y’all know I keep it real. Atom and I have both had our fair share of health scares over the past 3 months. I am incredibly thankful for our health insurance and we have both received absolute top notch healthcare. My body is still rebelling (my heart and lungs are a-holes) and isn’t used to the different climate here yet but I’m sure as time goes on I’ll adapt. We also had to deal with some cyber-stalking issues which have thankfully been resolved (fingers crossed). I guess that comes with the territory of having a large internet following. We don’t have time for jealous people who want to tear others down. We will never stoop to their level nor will we let it get to us.

One thing that I have absolutely loved is watching the seasons change. It was spring and still pretty chilly when we got here Easter weekend. We surprisingly got used to the summer humidity pretty quickly. Fall is now here and I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT IT. There is this one tree along side the building that is absolutely stunning as the leaves have been changing colors.

Atom & the kids made a HUGE spider and foam graves to decorate for Halloween. I’ll admit it’s super creepy at night.

The weather is cooling down and the fields are being harvested. It has been so fun watching the farming season from seed to now being plowed. Just another reminder of God’s love and provision for us. Winter is going to be interesting for these city slickers, but we are looking forward to experiencing it together.

Six months down and a lifetime to go!!

Cheers friends! 💜

Theresa

My Library is a work of heart.

Without a doubt the library is my absolute favorite room in the entire building. The first time I saw it when we were doing our initial walk through my jaw literally dropped at its beauty. Everything about it. The gorgeous perfect wood paneling, the wall to wall glass front book shelves, the dreamy drapes on the etched windows, the original light fixtures……. I was in awe.

As soon as we put in our offer to buy the building I started dreaming up plans of what I wanted to do in the library & how I wanted to set it up. I claimed the library as *my* space. Haha (just kidding). I had a craft room in our house back in San Diego & definitely wanted another creative space that was all set up for all 5 of us to use & enjoy. But at the same time keep it as original as possible and definitely still as it’s intended purpose of a library. Over the past 2 months it was my turn to be plagued with health issues. I’m so glad Atom is back to his healthy as a horse self and we weren’t both struggling at the same time! Things got pretty bad with my health and I had to undergo a procedure on my heart on Sept 22nd.

I can’t even begin to tell you how thankful and grateful I am for my new medical team. I know it said it before but it was a huge source of anxiety for me (and I am NOT an anxious person) to have to build an entirely new medical team after having a rock solid amazing one for many years back in San Diego. The procedure ended up being a bit more complicated than my Cardiologist was anticipating and I ended up spending 2 days (one night) in the cardiac icu afterwards. Typical Theresa fashion— Go big or go home.

The care I received was incredible from start to finish. However my recovery wasn’t as quick as anticipated or hoped, but not really all that bad either. Thank goodness for that. We should know in another month or so if the procedure was a success or not. Fingers crossed!

The first two weeks after my procedure I couldn’t lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. Super frustrating. Since I was pretty limited Atom told me we should take some time to finally get the library/craft room unpacked & organized. After we finished the glitter desk the library took a back seat to the other projects (like finishing the bathroom, putting up the double doors to the 2nd floor entry & starting the kitchen). I had avoided the library altogether because the daunting pile of unpacked crafting & office supplies & boxes of books was too much for me to even think about unpacking & I would just get frustrated & walk back out. We had started to go through things in the library a few weeks prior but we had only spent a couple hours before having to stop to do other things. After my procedure we decided to just buckle down & get it done. Atom got me all propped up on the sofa with pillows & blankets in the library & we got to work determined to get it done. He opened boxes & I pointed to where things should go. There was a bit of shuffling things around a few times until we figured out the layout, especially with the bookshelves. I’m sure over time I’ll rearrange things until I get it exactly how I want it but for now I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

We used the 2 sections of shelving closest to the windows for all of the super old books that were left behind, along with my small collection of antique creepy dolls. The middle 2 sections contain my crafting supplies. I’m a huge paper crafter as well as a planner. To say I’m crafty is an understatement 😉. The last 2 sections contain all of our books that we brought from our previous house. Underneath in the wood front cabinets are office supplies & other crafty things for the kids. All separated & organized.

This old Royal typewriter was left behind & I definitely wanted to put it on display (with one of our 3 year old daughter’s pieces of artwork she lovingly shoved in the case) on top of this little cabinet that was also left in one of the offices in the building. This cabinet is full of all of her crafty stuff. Crayons, paper, coloring books etc. She thinks it’s the best thing ever to have her very own craft cabinet. The vase was given to me by my very best friends before we moved. They all wrote on it and I absolutely love it. Also on top is one of Atom’s bronze sculptures. He is just so talented in everything he does. This particular sculpture (which is sporting one of my survivor buffs) was on display at the San Diego museum of contemporary art which Atom took me to see on our first date back in 2001. He has a whole series of sculptures that once the holidays are over will be on display on the mantle in the living room.

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our tobacco leather sofa (which came from our house in San Diego) is something we will cherish forever. My parents threw us a huge going away party before we moved and had everyone sign it and had it matted and framed. The map in the center is of San Diego. I couldn’t bring myself to look at it or read it before we left and this past Monday was the first time I took the time to read every single word. There were a lot of tears.

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hair is one of 4 that are the same & are original from when the building was built. Also another typewriter that was left behind and a not so beautiful metal file cabinet. 😜

The little typewriter table our daughter has also claimed as her own “desk” as she calls it was left in an office in that is now her room. I found that doctor bag from the turn of the century at an antique shop when we first moved here. You can’t really tell in this photo due to the glare from the lighting but that window is completely etched and is beautiful.

This corner is kind of a hodgepodge at the moment. The white desk was my grandmothers and I’ve had it since I was a child. It needs a complete sanding and will eventually become a second, smaller glitter desk to match my huge one that is the centerpiece of the room. My 2 favorite ikea raskog carts are on wheels & can be moved wherever I want them. The teal one holds all of my planner supplies & I haven’t quite figured out what will go in the cream one yet. Then there is my giant basket of completely unorganized washi tape. Any fellow crafter will know that struggle!!

And of course the glitter desk. I’m so darn happy & proud of how this desk turned out. If you haven’t already read one of my previous posts it’s all about the glitter desk & the process we went through to transform an old desk into a glittery masterpiece.

The other corner has a tall metal cabinet (also from an office downstairs) that contains nothing but paper. No joke. It’s PACKED with all kinds of scrapbooking paper of all sizes & colors & types. Another old chair that’s in great condition from the 1920s that my cat has claimed. I keep a little pet bed on that chair for her which I removed for the photos.

A few of these “House Rules” posters were found in different rooms in the building. I wanted to hang one in the library & I’m sure I’ll eventually get it framed but for now it’s stuck to the cabinet (tape is inverted so it’s not touching or damaging the poster itself).

Another one of Atom’s bronze sculptures I hung on the wall. Many people find this one creepy which is probably why I love it so much.

And last but not least, I laughed so hard when I pulled this out of an old box of photos from our previous house. For those who don’t know, Atom was a child actor. He did a lot of extra work (non speaking roles) in Hollywood growing up in his adolescent and teen years. He has been in both movies & tv shows as well as even winning a regional Emmy in 1999. When we first started dating in 2001 he gave me a signed copy of his current (at the time) head shot. I’ve kept it all these years & it definitely deserved to be framed & hung on display.

We can now say we officially have 2 rooms (library and guest bathroom) COMPLETELY DONE!!

Wait, I take that back. Eventually we will rip up all of the carpet to finish the original hardwood floors but that’s more than likely going to be quite awhile until that happens. Probably years.

If you’re on Facebook, I filmed a live video in the finished library over on my house renovation page if you want to see more inside the cabinets etc. There is a link to that page here on my blog.

I can’t wait to get back to crafting between renovations! Who wants to come over for a craft night?!

Theresa

Guest Bathroom is DONE

Well friends, the day we thought would never actually arrive has finally come. The guest bathroom remodel is officially FINISHED! It has become an ongoing joke between Atom & I that the “super quick bathroom remodel” that just never seemed to end is now done & what we naively thought would only take a few weeks took just shy of 5 months. Which seems like a ridiculously excessive amount of time for a bathroom remodel, even considering we literally ripped everything down to the studs & rebuilt it from the ground up. But when we actually sat down & realized how many other things/projects/life that were simultaneously happening, it wasn’t so bad. Also, you have to remember that Atom is doing ALL of the work by himself. 100% of it. Nothing has been outsourced or hired to be done. Not one bit.

If you don’t remember what this groovy pale pink men’s bathroom looked like before here’s a reminder:

We’ve had the fully functioning shower/tub for almost 3 months which made everything else take a back seat of sorts and not be rushed. (There is a previous post where I showed the finished shower & that whole process). There were quite a few unforeseen obstacles that happened while building this bathroom, the major one of having to completely run new water pipes for the east side of the building which was no easy feat in itself. After smashing out the walls, all new PEX piping was run from our main water line that comes into the building up the walls and into the bathroom (and other places as well).

The shower was framed in and Atom built the walls entirely out of cedar plank. It was completely waterproofed and sealed. Oh and of course the 200 gallon horse trough we turned into the worlds largest (& tallest!) bathtub. He built all of the fixtures etc out of galvanized steel parts. We wanted an industrial meets country theme for this bathroom.

The vanity was also built out of cedar and sealed. We wanted to keep with the galvanized theme so we used smaller buckets as the sinks, varying heights for our varying sized children 😉. (And small buckets for a clothes hamper and trash can)

Atom also built the cabinet and towel rack, keeping with the cedar theme.

Here’s a panorama photo of the bathroom all finished:

Close up of the tub/shower:

The door will eventually be painted but we haven’t quite figured out what color yet & we probably won’t make that determination until we decide the color scheme of the adjoining room which will become a rec/game room.

The window curtain is actually a matching shower curtain that happened to be the exact size of the window. I thought it added a fun different style to the mix.

That darn urinal. Yes it’s still there much to my dismay. Atom tried to take it out but we discovered that sucker is set down 12+” into solid concrete so there was no way on God’s green earth we could break it out without having to completely break out the entire floor and re-pour concrete which we weren’t willing to do. So it’s still there. It’s kind of funny to have a giant urinal in a guest bathroom but whatever. Maybe I’ll hang a plant on it. It’s fully functional & our boys think it’s pretty much the coolest thing ever. That is, until it’s time for them to clean it. Haha.

Atom ran new electrical wiring as well, adding separate light switches for the 2 wall lights as well as an outlet next to the sink on the wall. Here’s also a good view of the sinks & their urban faucets that Atom created.

We wanted to keep some original touches to the bathroom so we kept the original toilet paper holder and re-attached it to the side of the shower enclosure.

Another really neat thing Atom discovered was the column of brick that went up the side of the wall. It was previously covered in plaster. Atom chipped away all of that plaster and used a wire brush to show off the bricks. I LOVE this part!

Here are a couple more views from other angles. It was super tough to get everything in the photos. The floor had to be scraped from decades of random paint and stuff on top of it. Atom spent countless hours on his hands & knees hand scraping the floor. His grinder wasn’t getting the job done so it came down to good old fashioned elbow grease. He had to patch quite a few places on the floor from where the old stalls were as well as holes from where the radiator once was under the window. That cement had to cure for 28 days before we could use the concrete paint on top of it.

We are definitely keeping the doorknob on the door. Every single door knob in the building is like this one. And each one has its own individual skeleton key that works. Pretty incredible.

I still need to add a few “decorative touches” to the bathroom but haven’t quite figured out what yet. I’m sure that will come with time.

So there you have it. Guest bathroom now has an official check mark next to it on our mile long to do list of projects. There are still 5 other bathrooms that will eventually be remodeled as well. But for now, it’s time to start building our kitchen on the second floor. Our hope is to have it done & functional by Christmas. Fingers crossed!

Theresa

Library Finds

This is going to be a quick post but I wanted to show y’all a few really neat things we found in the library today.

It was a pretty mellow Labor Day for us today as yesterday was a pretty rough gnarly day for me. My 2.5 years of no asthma specific hospital visits officially came to an end. Having very severe asthma is a part of who I am (and also the reason for my Respiratory Therapy career choice). Thankfully after having Bronchial Thermoplasty done in 2015 my lungs have never been better. You could say I’m a smashing success story for the lung procedures that literally saved my life. Anyway, I had a very bad pulmonary reaction (severe bronchospasm) to a new cardiac medicine I was put on last week (my heart is also an a-hole but that’s another story for another day). Being a patient at my own hospital is quite embarrassing but I couldn’t have been in a better place. I’m glad I wasn’t working yesterday when this all happened. My coworkers (docs, nurses, RT’s etc) were absolutely amazing and took such great care of me. It was pretty scary there for a bit, until you can’t breathe you’ll never truly understand what it’s like. So today was a day for me to rest and not do a whole lot. Not like I really could do much, after a severe asthma attack I feel like I was hit by a bus & it takes awhile to get back to energetic self again.

Atom got me all set up on the sofa and we started going through & unpacking a few more boxes from the office in our old house & organizing the contents into the lower wooden cabinets in the library. Atom surprised me with a pumpkin spice latte which DEFINITELY made me feel better. Haha! For those of you who don’t know, Starbucks decaf iced pumpkin spice latte is literally my favorite drink in the universe.

Atom had cut wood & built shelves in the lower cabinets last week while I was at work so we could easily organize office supplies and various crafting things that didn’t need to be on display with the books on the upper glass fronted shelves. There was one lower cabinet we overlooked. Mostly old magazines & some old hymnals. Being the treasure hunter I am I had Atom put piles of the books & papers on the sofa with me to go through. I’m so glad I did. Here’s what we found:

June 1926 edition of The Masonic News in perfect condition. There is actually a decent sized stack of these from different months & years.

This neat old newspaper from Melbourne, Florida from 1936. A random newspaper to find its way to Indiana!

A place card from the lodge’s 100th anniversary celebration which was held in 1974. This is in untouched perfect condition.

Here are a couple religious lesson cards from 1900 as well as a perfect attendance award card from 1887.

I found this pencil drawing from 1916 that was folded & tucked into a book. It will definitely be getting framed & hung somewhere in the building.

I picked up this old match box to toss it in the trash can & out fell an almost complete set of tiny hand carved chess pieces. They’re absolutely amazing and were clearly carved by a true craftsman. None of the pieces are more than an inch tall.

Even though I’ve been in the library almost daily since moving here, it never ceases to amaze me how many treasures we are continuing to find! At this rate we will be finding things for decades!

Now it’s bedtime for me. I hardly slept a wink last night after everything so I’m hoping to get a head start on sleep tonight.

Theresa

Making a house (or building) a home

Atom is back to his usual self and renovations are back in full swing! The finishing touches are being put in the bathroom which will more than likely be my next post with the reveal. Finally right?!

We’re finishing up a couple smaller projects before we dive into starting to build a kitchen from the ground up on the second floor. The goal is to have it done by Christmas. Fingers crossed 🤞🏻.

One project I’ve been really looking forward to are the double doors we had planned on installing at the entrance to the second floor foyer from the stairwell. It will make it feel more like a “home.” All 6,000 square feet of it. After living here for 4.5 months it’s amazing how quick we have gotten used to living in such a large space on the second floor that it doesn’t really feel as massive as it really is. It sounds ridiculous to say that out loud but I guess we’ve adapted to it. One thing is for sure, my Apple Watch has yet to not achieve my daily step goal since we’ve moved here!

We had our next door neighbors & their kids over the other night for dinner & a movie upstairs on the third floor in the half way finished theater and I had a moment of “holy crap we actually get to live here?!?!” I’ve had several moments where I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that we get to live in such an amazing community and are making our dreams come true and are living completely debt free. At times I don’t think we deserve it. But God had a plan for us & we have put our trust completely in him through this process & he continues to blow our minds on a daily basis. (If you haven’t read one of my earlier posts called “The God Factor” I recommend it as it tells our journey of faith that happened from when we put in our offer on the building to when we moved here.)

Ok back to the doors. Naturally the second floor loses a lot of heat/cold in the stairwell. Which was another reason we wanted to be able to close it off. Also, once we have a business up & running in the basement it’s a good idea to have the extra security. We custom designed the doors online and ordered them about a month ago. We had to put off installing them & building the arched framework when Atom was having his awful headaches (which thankfully have been completely controlled with his new medication- thank you all SO MUCH for all of the thoughts & prayers!) Last week he got back to work. He actually burned out the motor in his new beefy hammer drill while drilling the wood frame down into the flooring (I can’t remember the type of flooring but it’s hard as stone and extremely difficult to drill into to anchor the frame into) and thankfully it was under warranty & he was able to get it replaced.

Plywood was then added once it was all framed in.

Then Atom ran the electrical for the light switches for both the lights on the stairwell side and in the foyer itself and an outlet. Being almost 100 years old, naturally the amount of electrical outlets in this building are definitely lacking. That will all change over time.

Next, Atom insulated and then put up the drywall. He did this part while I was at work so I didn’t get a photo of that step. He also painted the door a dark brown which I wasn’t sure about at first but once it dried & the second coat was applied I absolutely love the color!

He the mudded all the nails and cracks to give it the flawless smoothness.

The mud had to dry for a day or so & be touched up & then be sanded before painting. I came home from work on Monday to see this as I walked up the stairs. I literally gasped when I saw the finished product.

Here’s another view from up the stairs coming down.

It looks like it was always meant to be there. Like it was built into the archway 91 years ago (of course with an updated digital deadbolt 😉).

Technically it’s not “completely” done yet because Atom still has to cut the wood with his router for the casing that will go around the back of the doors but I’m impatient and wanted to get this post out tonight. Haha.

I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Atom is just so talented.

Sweet dreams friends,

Theresa

Unexpected

I am an open book, I always have been. I’ll tell you the good, the bad & the ugly. I have wrestled with making this post for a week because I wasn’t exactly sure how to write it or if I even should. It was actually Atom who gave me the push last night to go ahead & write it anyway.

Two weeks ago our renovations came to a screeching halt.

Three weeks ago, Atom started having AWFUL exertional pressure headaches. For those of you who don’t know Atom, he is healthy as a horse. Very physically fit and never ever gets sick. Ever. I think I can count the number of times he has had a “regular” headache in the 16 years we have been together on one hand. They started out intermittently and then got so bad he couldn’t even stand up or sit up for more than 10 minutes at a time and then had to lay completely flat to get any type of relief, 24/7. After a visit to urgent care, who sent him directly to the emergency room, they ruled out any immediate dangers (brain bleed) with a head CT scan. He got to come home but we still didn’t have any answers. His pain was excruciating. I felt absolutely helpless. Nothing I could do would take his pain away. Over the next week he had a MRI, visit to an opthomologist, spinal tap and another CT (this time with angio). I had so many people praying for him and I was scared. Terrified. Being in the medical field (I have been a Respiratory Therapist for 13 years & I was an EMT for 5 years prior to that) I have a pretty darn good amount of medical knowledge which is both a blessing and a curse. Thankfully those tests ruled out the big bad scary stuff (no active or slow bleed, mass on his brain, or ballooning aneurysm which is what they were looking for.)

Now before you ask it, because I know you’re thinking it, the thought of a possible exposure to something in the building that could be causing his headaches did cross my mind more than once. I asked the doctors about it and based on the type of exertional extreme pressure headaches Atom was having it wasn’t from anything he may have been exposed to. And none of the rest of us in the house had any symptoms at all.

Atom got to have his first appointment with our new primary doctor before I did! Who would have thought?! My appointment with him wasn’t for another week. Having debilitating headaches where his head literally felt like it was going to explode gave him a pass to the front of the line and I was totally okay with that 😉.

Being on the other side of things has definitely been an eye opener for me. In the past it has always been me being the medically fragile one. My hats are off to all single moms, single dads and military families out there who pull all of the weight. Y’all are an absolute inspiration. Taking care of a sick spouse while still working 40+ hours a week and caring for our three children is no joke. I was EXHAUSTED.

Atom is still having headaches but he is trying out a couple different prescription medications to try to curb the pressure in his head and he will more than likely see a neurologist in the near future. He’s slowly starting to get back to his regular self again.

I had my first appointment to get established with our new primary doctor (who is AWESOME btw & reads & shares this blog! 👋🏻) earlier this week. I kept thinking to myself “oh man this guy is going to be asking himself what he signed up for with these two medical train wrecks.” Hahahaha 🤣. I’ve said it in the past that finding an entirely new medical team for myself has been a huge stressor since I was so close and connected with my former team back in San Diego. They knew my heart & lungs better than anyone on the planet. This particular doctor came VERY highly recommended from both my coworkers and other patients of his. All of my fears & nerves went out the window at my first appointment. I was blown away with how kind, caring and attentive he was. I was in his office for a solid hour going over my medical history and establishing a plan. It never felt rushed and I knew I was in the right place with no need for any other opinions. Talk about a huge weight lifted!!

Since Atom was literally forced to be horizontal and still over the past few weeks and not work on the renovations, he has really spent time reevaluating his time. Not a single person on the planet will tell you he isn’t a hard worker. He’s hands down the hardest worker I have ever met and definitely not a sit still kind of guy. And believe me, there are plenty of times when I wish he would just sit still & relax! We’ve had several conversations about how we need to be sure to take more breaks from renovating and not push so hard to meet our self set (& often times unrealistic) goals and deadlines. Atom has started working on his next fiction book series that he started writing a year or so ago. Fun fact: Atom is also an author (& illustrator!) He wrote, illustrated & published a children’s book 11 years ago and published a Christian science fiction book this past spring. I’m pretty excited about the next trilogy he is working on, the story line is really amazing.

Now that Atom is starting to be up & around more he is making sure to not push himself too hard too soon. He’s taking many breaks to write and have lots of princess tea parties with our daughter while her older brothers are at school.

Once the scary stuff was ruled out I felt like I could take a deep breath for the first time in weeks (which is super ironic for me with my crappy lungs).

And I am also now trying to take it easy. Being so busy and so worried for the past few weeks has really worn me out. I could feel my body starting to shut down and that is very bad news for me health wise. Holding it all together is so hard, especially when I have a laundry list of my own medical issues. Fingers crossed I don’t crash & burn from all of this. I’m pretty sure I’ll be just fine. I’m relaxing as much as I can and our boys have been awesome and have really stepped it up & are helping around the house more, even more than they already do. They’re such great kids. One night last week I was beyond exhausted and just needed a moment to myself so after the kids (& Atom) went to bed I went down to the basement with my leftover Starbucks that had been in the fridge for hours and decided to be silly. Silly was better than crying from being so overwhelmed. So I did what anyone in my situation would have done & I rode around the basement on my big wheel for awhile (in reality it was probably only 10 min before I was so tired I couldn’t see straight) and then went to bed. I needed that moment & it felt so good. Self care is definitely necessary & I encourage everyone to take time for yourself, even if it’s only 10 minutes.

Don’t fret, the renovations will be back in full swing very soon! Just this afternoon Atom felt well enough for a bit to start measuring out the wood for the double doors that we are installing at the “entrance” to the second floor, our living space. We will be taking the renovations slow for awhile until he’s back up in tip top shape which hopefully won’t be too long. In the meantime if you wouldn’t mind, please keep Atom in your thoughts & prayers. We very much would like him to continue to feel better!

Thanks friends!!

Theresa

Acoustics


I'm a musician. Music is my happy place. No matter what mood I'm in, grabbing my guitar or sitting at my piano (among other instruments) while singing brings me back to my center. I started playing piano at age 7 when my parents bought one and signed my sister & I up for lessons. Violin joined in on the fun when I was in 4th grade (mandatory elementary music class) and I fell in love with it. I played violin all the way to college, and was the first chair/concertmaster in high school.

It was my first semester of my freshman year of college when guitar entered my life. (17 years ago!) Growing up my dad was always playing guitar. We went to many of his bands gigs and I remember just sitting and listening to him play & sing all the time and loving every minute of it (I still do!!). I remember the moment clearly in my head when I decided guitar was going to be my musical love. It was at a college-age church retreat (shoutout to all my lifelong Vocare friends!) and there was a small group of acoustic guitarists playing music throughout the weekend. I knew I wanted to be a part of that music team. Not sure if you've ever tried, but singing while playing violin isn't an easy feat. The whole chin rest part gets in the way. I asked a few of the musicians to teach me how to play some basic chords on their guitars (thanks Greg, Alex & Julia!) and I was truly surprised at how quickly I picked it up & memorized the chords & chord patterns. I like to thank my strict musical theory upbringing between years & years of piano & violin lessons for that. It's also not recommended nor practical to bring a violin to a church bonfire either. Guitars are so much easier. Haha! I still played violin mostly for fun here & there (besides a few weddings I played at) but guitar was quickly taking over and I was okay with that. My faith has been incredibly strengthened over the years through music. One of my best friends in the whole world Alex, once told me "when you sing you pray twice" and that has really stuck with me still to this day almost 20 years later. I feel super connected to God through music. I've played on worship teams for 17 years now and absolutely love every minute of it. It's not about the performance. It's about the experience & connecting people to Christ through music.
Christian music isn't the only music I play. Not in the least. I'm a hardcore U2 super fan. I've seen them live more times than I can count and coming from a large extended awesome Irish family I have pretty much been a fan since birth.
When we first moved here (almost 4 months ago! Can you believe it?!) I was eager to jump on the worship team at our new church home, The Well and have been in the rotation to sing & play during worship services ever since.
Outside of playing in church, I hadn't picked up my guitar to play just for me since we arrived in Huntington. We have just been so busy with renovations etc that I hadn't really allowed myself time to just play. Atom & I have been planning and talking about the music studio we eventually plan to create up on the 4th floor long before we even moved here, but that's awhile off in the future.
I had some time this afternoon to pull out my guitar and play. I've been dying to test out all of the acoustics in the different areas of the building. There's nothing quite like standing on a stage in a symphony hall with perfect acoustics and physically feeling the music as you're playing it. I already knew the kitchen has incredible acoustics from singing in there many times while cooking. The ceilings are very high and with all of the metal in there the sound is on point. The green hallway between the kitchen & the open part of the basement also has fantastic sound.
The basement itself has potential. It's not bad & there is a pretty good amount of echo but not enough to give goosebumps or anything like that.

We will be pulling down all of the acoustical ceiling tiles to give the basement more of an open industrial concept & painting the ceiling/pipes/ducting matte black. I'm confident it will open up the acoustic sound so much more.

I was pleasantly surprised with the third floor former grand lodge room. I wasn't convinced the sound would be as good up there due to the carpeting that covers every square inch of the floor, stage and stairs. Don't get me wrong, when we hooked up the projector with the sound system to watch Star Wars up there over the weekend it sounded incredible, but I'm more referring to the natural sound. It will all eventually be removed to finish & seal the original hardwood floors that are underneath. I walked around & sat in many different chairs both on the ground level and the 4th level stadium seats to see the difference. The Freemasons definitely knew what they were doing (duh) when they built the building. The sound is unreal. The hugely tall ceilings that are domed really allows the sound to bounce all over.

Since I was already on the third floor I went in another room that we have dubbed "the Egyptian room", and I was also pleasantly surprised with the acoustics in there. It's still a rather large room, probably 14×20 or so and has high ceilings. Pretty much the entire building has high ceilings everywhere.

Walking around my house playing guitar & singing from room to room definitely helped me stop and take a breather from all the business of life lately. I'm definitely going to make it a point to do it more often. Next time I'll walk around with my violin to test the acoustics and hear any differences. I'm also staring to brainstorm a few ideas for community open mic nights & jam sessions. Stay tuned!

~Theresa

Random updates with a side of panda

This post will be a bit all over the place but I wanted to give a few updates about what we've been up to lately. My parents, sister & nephew came to visit a few weeks ago for 10 days and we had an amazing time! We kept it a secret from our kids that my sister & nephew were also coming. Our oldest son & my nephew are 6 weeks apart and they have all grown up together and the look on our kids faces when they saw him was priceless! We took those 10 days off from doing any work on the property to be able to spend as much time as possible with my family while they were here. Saying "see ya later" was really hard for all of us, but especially the kids who are super close to their Mimi & Pappy.
After they left Atom & I sat down & made a game plan for the next couple of months. We're going to push back starting to build the kitchen from scratch on the second floor until mid September. This will give us time to work on & (hopefully) finish up several other smaller projects that are all going on simultaneously. Story of any homeowners life right?! This is just on a much larger scale. Oooooof.

Bathroom
We're close to *finally* being completely done. It's fully functional at this point. The shower, sinks etc are all in place & working great! The walls & ceiling are painted and all of the new fixtures are installed. The hold up now is the floor. Atom had to patch some of the concrete where there were holes from where the old radiator pipes were. That has to set for 28 days before he can stain/paint/seal the floor. In the meantime he's going to work on building the wall cabinets and towel racks etc & I'll work on making curtains for the window to match the one in the shower. Once all of that is finally done I'll do a separate reveal post with photos etc. Promise. In the mean time, here's a bathroom photo from this morning when Stewart got a much needed bath.

Roof
Atom busted through the old roof access from a room up on the 4th floor last week. It had previously been sealed off when the new roof was put on and the only access to the roof was up the fire escape. No way in heck was I brave enough to climb that sucker to get up there. No thanks. In all honesty, the 100 year old original wooden ladder on the 4th floor probably wasn't a single bit safer but at least it was only one story to climb & not four.





The view from the top is breathtaking. We're clearly the tallest building in the neighborhood! Atom hopes to eventually have a roof top patio up there with VERY high railings all the way around.

Beer!
Last weekend Atom brewed beer for the first time since moving here. Our neighbor came over & Atom showed him the ropes when it comes to beer making. He was so happy to be finally brewing again as he used to brew all the time before moving here & he will be doing a lot more brewing in the future (hint, hint.) 😉

Pandas caught on camera
The week we arrived in Huntington we ordered a 16 channel high definition infrared security camera system. We had one (on a much smaller scale) for our house back in San Diego and we knew we wanted a system on this property as well. Not necessarily because of crime or anything like that (there isn't much of that here thankfully) but more so to have eyes on all sides of the building at all times.

After attending a birthday party for a friend this past Friday evening, Atom & I had to swing by Walmart to buy cat food since our cats are basically teenage boys & we weren't planning on going to Costco for another week. While in the store we stumbled across this:

Feeling silly mixed with pure exhaustion, we bought 2 giant panda heads and hatched a plan. We drove home and tip-toed over to our neighbors house who we knew were also home since we were all at the same party & left at similar times to get home to relieve our babysitters. We donned our panda heads, climbed through bushes & tapped on their windows. A few moments later their front door opened and we jumped out and hysterical laughter was had by all. They are seriously the best neighbors ever & we have so much fun with them. Still feeling silly, Atom & I pranced through both of our parking lots back to our front door and wouldn't you know, it was caught on our cameras.

After throughly embarrassing our kids (and our amazing babysitter) as we danced into the living room they were quick to claim the panda heads as their own.

3rd floor movie theatre
Our boys have become extra Star Wars obsessed lately (more so than usual) and we've been watching the series all the way through again. This afternoon, Atom & the boys decided to set up our projector and Harmon Kardon surround sound system up on the third floor (the giant former secret meeting room) and the result was amazing. For now our "screen" is a 15 foot wrinkly drop cloth but it gets the job done. I'm sure every neighbor within a mile radius heard the opening credits to episode 4. The entire house shook from the sound system and it was AWESOME! You'd never know it was the middle of the afternoon- with the windows covered & doors shut it was pitch black in there.

We're talking about taking down the arch & turning the entire wall into a giant movie screen/wall. We used the high definition fleck paint on a wall at our house in San Diego for the projector & it turned out amazing so we'll do the same here. It will just require A LOT more paint.

That's all for now. I could go on for several more pages, but it's late and we are heading to bed. I'll be sure to write up another post this week about some really neat symbolism we have been noticing around the building.

Hope y'all had a fabulous weekend! Make a point to do something FUN this week! You're never too old to be silly & laugh until you can't breathe.

Theresa

Broomball

My family has been in town for the past week and the last 2 days my sister & nephew stayed with us. After spending the afternoon checking out the local 4H fair (which was really neat!) our plans were thwarted by the unpredictable Indiana weather. It was too hot & humid to be outside and the bowling alley didn't open until later in the evening. We were racking our brains as to what we could do with the kids and have a super fun evening together at home. Then a lightbulb went off above Atom's head. Broomball. He grabbed the car keys & told our oldest son to go with him to the store while my sister & I got started on making dinner. They got back about 30 min later and got to work transforming the basement into an arena. Considering our basement isn't ice (although I can only imagine it will feel like I've come winter) we improvised a bit. 6 brooms, 2 soccer goals & one four square ball in a 6,000 sq ft basement.

We had the BEST time playing!! The brooms that Atom bought didn't make it easy to hit the ball far which made it more difficult and also more fun. The kids were laughing nonstop and when we added the "play it where it lies" rule it added a whole new dimension of fun. At times the ball ended up on the stage, under sofas & even in the kitchen! We were all sweaty & exhausted by the end (it was a tie & we were all too tired to continue) and after showers for everyone we all went to bed.
Now I want to move more furniture around in the basement to make the playing area bigger. I can see many more broomball tournaments in our future!
Theresa