Author: Emily

My Side of the Story – Part 38

To start at the beginning of the story, click here.

It has been so long since I’ve written, I had to look back at where I ended…what a nice trip down memory lane! There are so many details I would not have been able to recall if I hadn’t written them down. It makes me a little sad I didn’t finish my story then. I will remember even less now! Here goes anyway…

I am in inpatient therapy at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. I covered my physical therapy in the last post. This one will focus on my Occupational Therapy.

Occupational Therapy focuses on fine motor skills (hands, arms, fingers) and works to get you functioning in everyday life to your fullest degree.

These sessions were brutal. Not so much a hit to my ego like speech therapy was, but it was just plain hard physically. My left arm/hand/fingers were the last to regain mobility and required the most focus of my therapy (I am still working on improving my left hand/fingers to this day).

It has been too long for me to recount my experiences chronologically, so I’ll just write little stories about what I remember. This will be even more flow-of-consciousness than my usual writing…enjoy!

Story 1

One of my first sessions, I remember sitting in my wheelchair next to the therapy bed/mat. Dan is right next to me, and my therapist is explaining that he’s going to lift my arm up for me to work on my range of motion.

Side note: my arm is in a straight sling full time when I am out of bed. The shoulder joint is so weakened and the muscles have atrophy so the weight of the arm could easily dislocate my shoulder.

The therapist takes my arm out of the sling and lifts it straight up in front of me, heading towards the ceiling.

I immediately become nauseous. I tell him I’m about to lose it. He quickly lowers my arm and they get me a bucket.

We try a few more times with the same result: me heaving into a bucket. Weird, right?

My therapist isn’t sure exactly what is going on, but he says the brain does crazy things when it has been through trauma. He suggests we use “self talk” to try to re-wire my brain.

Does moving your arm hurt?  No.

Should moving your arm make you nauseous? No.

He would have me repeat phrases like this as we moved my arm in the therapy session, and he had me use them as I went about my day in other sessions and in my room. It was like trying to talk my brain out of being nauseous. It seems funny now and odd to explain, but it worked! The nausea stopped eventually. It would creep back at times when I tried to do a new activity with my fingers or wrist, but now I knew how to deal with it. Isn’t the brain crazy/amazing!?

Story 2

The first activity we focused on was getting the arm, as a whole, to move. We did lots of movements with just arm weight or holding a light rubber ball. It was crazy to me that the range of motion was so limited. I had very little muscle left, so you’d think my arm could move any which ways, but it couldn’t. We set goals for how far my arm should be able to move and Dan and I worked and worked each break in sessions and at night to achieve these goals.

One thing that was new to me, is the focus on diagonal movements. The therapists said we rarely use our arms in a straight up and down motion. Usually there is an angle to our movements. So while we did straight up and down lifts, we did a bunch of cross body exercises.

Also, it is easier for the brain to make pathways if both sides of the body are making the same motion. So as often as I could, I would do any stretch or exercise simultaneously with my left and right arm.

One session I remember vividly was practicing grocery shopping and picking up produce and items off a shelf. MFB had a little grocery store set up complete with produce bins, shelves, grocery baskets, etc. just like a regular grocery store. My first attempts to pick up a piece of fruit (maybe a banana or lemon…not sure) were so disheartening. I remember flopping my arm onto the produce bin (think trying to lift your arm with only your shoulder muscle) then trying with all my might to get my fingers to curl around the fruit and bring it back to my basket.

I think Ken moved us quickly to another activity. I wasn’t ready for this. It was a huge reality check for me though. I had so far to go.

Movement was slowly returning in my arm and wrist, but my fingers were taking a while.

Story 3

Movement in my fingers was not progressing as my therapists had hoped. So one morning they decided to try an electrotherapy. Basically they put a brace on the affect area that has electrodes that touch certain nerves. The race then sends electronic pulses to activate the nerves and make the fingers move.

This scared the bejeezers out of me.

Looking back I sort of understand the fear. It was something I couldn’t control taking control of my body. I didn’t understand fully how it worked or how it could benefit me. Not to say the therapists didn’t explain it, they did. I just couldn’t  see the long term benefit of this therapy.

So as they prepped the machine, wetting the pads, putting the pads on the brace, and fitting my wrist and hand into the brace, my anxiety rose and rose. They knew I was nervous, so they said they’d start the machine on low and go from there.

They slowly ramp it up…

Immediately my fingers twitch and start contracting.

Fear takes over. I think I asked them to stop.

It didn’t hurt. I still didn’t have a lot of sensation in my left hand, so anything I could have felt would have been minimal anyway.

It scared me though. To my core. Maybe it was not having control of my body. I can’t explain it though, but I didn’t like it.

That was the one and only time I had this therapy.

Present day me wishes I had done this therapy more. I do have a lot of functioning now in my left hand, but I have that little bit of regret “What if I had done that therapy more?” I don’t dwell on it. It doesn’t consume me, but I do wonder if I could have progressed more had I been less afraid.

Story 4

Therapy sessions focused partly on functional tasks/movement and partly on more exercise-like movement. The functional tasks were far more interesting and rewarding.

One day, my task was to bake a batch of brownies from a boxed brownie mix. (Of course we would get to enjoy the fruit of my labors once they were baked too!)

My therapist helped me figure out solutions to every step of the process that would enable me to mix and bake the brownies myself. Remember, independence is the MFB goal for every patient.

First up, opening the package. Seems like a no brainer, right? Rip it open. (These were bags of mix actually with a “tear here” type of opening.)

How to you rip open a package with contents that can spill if your left hand can’t hold the bag still?

Holding the bag in my left arm wan’t an option. I’d spill the mix for sure.

Solution: scissors! Stand the bag up on the counter. Hold it steady with my left hand, to the best of my ability but really it was standing on its own. Then cut the top off with my right hand.

Things like this are so simple, but not easily thought of when you have a disability. The therapists were training me how to think of different solutions to everday problems.

Second: pour mix in bowl and add eggs. Since this was therapy, I had to do everything with my left hand, even cracking the eggs. I guarantee there were egg shells in those brownies! :) My sweet family ate them without comment later that night though. My therapist and I laughed over and over at the difficulty of cracking eggs with a disabled hand. I did it though!

Third: mix the brownie batter, about 50 strokes.

I always wondered why the instructions even bothered to tell you how many strokes to do. Do they really think you can’t tell when everything is mixed through? For this therapy session, it gave me a goal. I had to hold an spoon and stir 50 times.

It was exhausting.

I learned another life functioning tip at this point: weighted utensils are easier to hold/use for someone with my type of weakness/lack of sensation. When the signals to and from the brain are weak, it is just easier to feel the object you are holding if it is heavier and larger.

I used a weighted spoon to stir the brownies. It was just a regular spoon that had a foam piece (and something heavy?) taped around the handle. I remember the therapist showing Dan and I how to alter our utensils at home so that I could be more independent in cooking and eating. It is amazing how much easier the weighted spoon was. My therapist made me try both ways (weighted and regular), and I had way more success with the weighted one.

This session was so fun and stands out in my mind to this day. I accomplished a task (yummy treats!) and learned how to modify my kitchen so I could live more fully in the future.

I really regret that I have forgotten this therapist’s name. It was a lady, maybe in her 50’s? Family, do you remember? She was so wonderful to work with, and I remember her beaming at the end of this session.

Now six years out, I can’t remember much more from the occupational therapy sessions. My left hand was the slowest to return to functioning so I focused on these sessions in inpatient and outpatient therapy the most. I think I did occupational therapy twice a day while in inpatient therapy and three times a week…maybe two?…in outpatient therapy. I am so grateful for the functioning that God has returned to my body. The weakness and uncoordination I feel is so minimal compared to where I started: zero movement or feeling on the left side of my body. God is so good.


Kitchen Reveal

While every room in our house is continually a work-in-progress (or so it seems), the bulk of the kitchen has been completed for some time…oh you know, about a year or so. Life gets the better of me most days, so here are the pictures of our kitchen (finally!).

A reference point, here is our kitchen when we walked through the house.


It was your typical builder’s grade 1990’s kitchen: oak cabinets, basic two basin sink, gooseneck faucet that didn’t quite reach into both sides of the sink, and beige counter tops.

Here’s what you can’t see in the picture:

  • the faucet is broken and leaking
  • the garbage disposal doesn’t work
  • beyond disgusting, rusted out dishwasher in peninsula
  • dirty, sticky, pealing floor (rolled laminate covered by peal n’ stick laminate tiles which weren’t applied properly)
  • sandpaper like walls
  • no appliances (oh wait, you can see that!)

Here’s what we loved about the kitchen:

  • biggest floor print of any house/apartment we’d lived in. Oh the cupboard and counter space!
  • even more space potential if the peninsula was moved out to the corner and extended toward the fridge area
  • sturdy oak cabinets (while out-dated, they were in good shape)
  • crown moulding on cabinets (I just love the look, and now we didn’t have to add it!)

To us, it screamed “I have potential!”

Our renovation maximized the potential we saw in the room and our budget so we did most of the work ourselves and kept as many things as possible. (We even tried to salvage the floor, but that failed.)

  1. We painted the cabinets ourselves. What a labor of love! It’s a lot of work!
  2. We hired out new countertops. We replaced with laminate, Wilson Art’s Carrara Santorini. This is a laminate version of Carrara Marble. So it is white with grey veining through it.
  3. We hired a friend to lay the subway tile, but we grouted and sealed it ourselves.
  4. We hired out laying of new vinyl flooring (done at the same time as the rest of the flooring in the house).
  5. We hired out skim coating the walls in the dining room and kitchen to cover the texture, but we did all the painting ourselves.
  6. Bought new appliances.
  7. Hired a friend to build a new peninsula.
  8. Installed new knobs and pulls ourselves (by ourselves, I mean Dan!).
  9. Installed appliances, sink, disposal, and faucet ourselves (again, I mean Dan).

I think that’s all we’ve done. It sure doesn’t sound like much when I type it out. It took us eight months or so though, maybe a year…we aren’t the fastest DIYers!

Ok, enough words, on to the pictures! Here she is today in all her glory!


Sink Area



Stove Area



Refrigerator Area


IMG_9051_smallIt doesn’t seem like the same room, does it?

The part I’ve been enjoying most about decorating my kitchen is making little spaces decorated and yet functional:

1. Next to the refrigerator:


2. Our “coffee station:” This is a new one. I want to add cute, matching mugs along with cream and sugar containers, but this is what I had on hand so far. I do like the functionality. It saves cupboard space and makes finding the coffee items easy in the morning.


3. Ok, so this isn’t a decorated space, but does everyone have an overflowing utensil holder? Is it just us? We use them all too…they are often all dirty…maybe we just need to wash our dishes more often…


4. Cute hand soap:


So there you have it! We are loving our new kitchen. We love to cook, so this space gets tons of use everyday!

Home Office

I finally have a home office area! We have a long skinny living room, and the front door opens into this large room. To make the room cozier and more conversation-friendly, the living room furniture is arranged around the fireplace on one side of the room. This leaves a rather large entry area and a VERY undefined space. We decided to take up the area behind the living room furniture with our new and improved home office!

Here she is now!


Oh happy day! The desk gets daily use by Dan and I, and  I am loving the devoted space to blog, work on the budget, or waste perfectly good naptime on Pinterest. :)

Here are two of my favorite things about this area so far (besides the desk…that takes the cake, of course!).

1. Brass Lamp – Who knew brass/gold would come back in fashion? I love this HomeGoods find! The light it casts is great too…not too bright and large enough to illuminate the whole desk.


2. My First Word/Scripture Art – I made this all by myself folks! This verse from Psalm 90 struck me in my bible study through Moses this year (Bible Study Fellowship, I highly recommend it!). I thought it would be so appropriate above a work space, asking the Lord’s blessing on your work…whatever that may be!


I’m still working on styling the shelf above the desk. It is functional (always my goal), but it comes off a bit cluttered right now. The shelf is also a different style than the desk, and I’m not sure if I’m bothered by it or not. I already had the shelf, so I wanted to use it. Hmmm…ideas? I love having note cards and pens in plain sight. I’m way more likely to write that thank you note with these items close at hand!


I tried to use things that I already owned to decorate this space. The only new things are the gold frame (Ikea), the desk lamp (HomeGoods), and the ceramic box on the desk top (Target). Everything else I already owned. I love shopping my home for decorations! It feels good to move things around or put things to use that have been sitting in a closet/furnace room for 2 years. Anyone else slow on the decorating wagon? I actually forgot I had the gerber daisy print…it was under the basement stairs, covered in dust. Oops.

Future plans for the space:

  • reupholster the desk chair – So exciting but a little intimidating…I’ve never tried upholstery before!
  • add a rug – not sure about this one. The large area will have me contemplating how to pull this off without competing with the living room or front door.
  • tweak the decor – again, not sure I have the best selections on the shelf/desk. It will be a work-in-progress for a while!

I love my office space! What good function have you added to your home lately?


Newest Member of our Household

Not a human by the way!

Although maybe baby Taz has made his arrival by now as I’m scheduling these posts ahead of time!

We inherited some beautiful wood furniture for Jackson’s big boy room! We’ve got two dressers and twin beds coming our way. They are MASSIVE pieces of furniture, so we’ve only managed to get one dresser to our house so far.

Isn’t she a beauty?


I’m so inspired to mix the old with the new and various wood types in this big boy room. I’ve found a new appreciation for old pieces of furniture, so I have no intention of re-doing this one. I plan to make the room flow with the furniture. Really, this is a super sturdy, well-made dresser (besides a few paint spots and scratches…which I hope to fix…google here I come!), and it is in perfect condition.


I have also renewed my love for my 50mm lense…but it’s super hard to do room shots because you can back up enough. It takes beautiful pictures though. Doesn’t it?

Hence, I don’t have a great picture of the whole dresser…I needed to be 10 feet outside my house to do so…and one story up…not happening. :)


I’ll share more as we get the room more put together and decorated. I’m so excited about our new furniture!

My Beautiful New X-Desk!

I’ve been wanting to set up a home office area in the house since we moved in (ahem, two years ago, ahem). I manage the bills and budget for our household, and the kitchen table just wasn’t cutting it. I would inevitably work on the budget too close to dinner or the end of the day, leaving a mess of receipts and the bills shoved to one side of the table. One day would fade into the next until, before you know it, that mess of paper is a permanent resident on our table. Yuck!

We have a long narrow living room, so we planned to add a small office area behind the living room furniture. As we donated all of our office furniture when we moved out of our last home (it was college stuff anyway, hardly our style anymore!), Dan was oh-so-kind to offer to build me an Ana White desk, the $55 Fancy X Desk. I was skeptical, but it was just as cheap as the plans advertise. It is made almost entirely from 2×4’s which are really cheap. We did customize it a bit for our needs. We left off the “X” in the back and we shortened it to fit our space.

Dan, with the help of a buddy, built the desk, and I finished it. I might learn how to use power tools for myself someday, but for now, I’ll stick to what I’m good at: making wood pretty!

I didn’t take a lot of photos, so I’ll try to fill in the blanks with my eloquent words. :)

Imagine Dan building the desk, and it looks just like the ones in the Ana White plans, minus the “X.”

Insert picture of built desk of naked wood.

Then I stained it using Rustoleum’s wood stain in Kona.


Stain makes even the cheapest wood so beautiful!

Then I wanted to try my hand a liming wax. While I’m not a huge cottage/rustic-y style decorator, I like the look of limed wood. Also, I wanted to break up the monotony of dark walnut that is present in my living room. I read many, many tutorials on the stuff, Briwax Liming Wax, and I was almost too intimidated to try after some of the stuff I read. However, this tutorial over at i Heart Organizing made it look super easy. So I went for it!

I followed the tutorial’s directions for application (putty knife) instead of the directions on the can – mistake #1. I used WAY too much wax. This stuff is pricey, and I wasted a whole bunch by applying too much. I learned from my mistakes though and just put a little bit on a rag and rubbed it in when I did the legs of the desk.

Below is my progression to get to my finished table:

  1. freshly applied liming wax (applied with putty knife) – WAY too thick!!
  2. first buffing with steel wool (#0000 grade steel wool)
  3. second buffing with rags (old t-shirts…this took serious elbow grease!)
  4. third buffing on of clear furniture polish to seal the desk and get rid of the grey haze left by the liming wax

Liming Wax Composit

All that to say, I LOVE my desk. It looks fantastic now!


It was a lot of work to get it to this point though, much more than I anticipated. I learned a lot from the tutorials I read, and the research was invaluable as I maneuvered around the hurdles I encountered finishing the table. My recommendation to anyone using this product is to (1) follow the direction of the manufacturer and (2) when in doubt, keep reading and finding more tutorials!

Lessons learned from liming wax:

  • Apply sparingly
  • Take your time rubbing it into the cracks and knots of the wood. You want to highlight the imperfections of the wood, the more the better!
  • Finish with another type of clear wax (I used furniture wax. This will also remove any grey haze from over application of the liming wax.) instead of polyurethane. I read over and over  not to put an oil-based top coat over wax; it will bubble and peal over time. However, I don’t know how to water-based polys will hold up. I was too nervous to try. I always get to a point in these projects where I feel too much time/money has been invested to experiment now. Just finish it the right way, Emily!
  • No need to workout the days you use liming wax….or at least you can skip your dominant arm. :)

Here’s one more look at my finished desk. Isn’t she a beaut?


Basement Bathroom Reveal

We’re going with the theme of bathrooms for now. Maybe it will inspire me to actually finish our main bathroom upstairs!

This room was the most unfinished when we bought the house. It was a mess of incorrectly installed cement board, unsanded THICK mud, and uncentered/un-square everything. My dad had the absolute joy of finishing it for us. The installation of each fixture came with the question: “Which side would you like square? Which side should be centered? Would you like it flush with the back wall or the side wall?” etc. you can’t have it all! The great thing is: you can’t really tell now that everything is installed and finished.

Let’s take a look at some pictures!

Vanity/Sink Area


Toilet Area (adjacent to sink, but really hard to photograph together without a wide angle lens!)


Shower and Linen Nook (Opposite sink and toilet)


I am loving the wood shelves! My dad measured and cut all the boards for me (bless his heart, every shelf has a different measurement!), and I finished them and Dan installed them. So basically, I just made them pretty. :)

Edit: I copied the tutorial from Thrift Decor Chick.  I forgot to mention that!


Side note: all the baskets on the shelves came from Ikea. Ikea has really expanded their basket selection. The prices are great, and the baskets are really sturdy. The ones on the shelves are especially sturdy. I bought two large, round ones in that style to use as laundry baskets upstairs. They are holding up great so far!

As we are working on our main bathroom upstairs, we’ve been using this bathroom as our main bathroom. So I feel the need to show real life…here’s all the junk I cleared off the ledge/sink so that I could take decent looking pictures. Enjoy!


Lovely. :)

And now for a little before and after. These shots aren’t the greatest because the room is small and difficult to photograph (bonus points for spotting the 36 week prego belly!), and the before pictures were taken before the door and linen nook shelves were installed which allowed for more room to snap pictures.

First, the sink/toilet side…







Now the shower/linen side…

Before (Shower then Linen Nook)







You get the idea…hot mess to serene, functional bathroom!

It feels SO good to finally have this room finished! It’s been 90% completed for over a year, but finishing and installing those linen shelves took me about 15 months. Yikes. Seriously, Emily. What procrastination! The wood sat in our garage so long, the boards warped from the moisture, so we had to flatten them with clamps before installing them. So much work and time wasted! Lesson learned! Finish the job in a reasonable amount of time!

Half Bathroom Reveal

Here is our “finished” half bathroom/laundry room! Unfortunately, due to circumstances with the dog it is not officially finished.

Exhibit A:

IMG_8688_smallLong story short: he went berserk.

Bottom Line: We need a new door. Thankfully it is sitting in the garage, but we need to install it.

Besides the door, all the other projects for this room are finished, so let’s look at the finished product!





For comparison’s sake, let’s see a good before and after!





Laundry side…




Ahhh…so much better than black and green!

Now that it’s “finished” I’ve thought of new projects: the door (obviously, although truly perfectly functional!) and new laminate on the sink (I have a remnant from the upstairs bath…can’t wait to blog about that project!).


Removing Spray Paint from Window Slides

I learned something new today!

If you have spray paint residue on the plastic slides of your windows, and really, I mean, who doesn’t? You can easily remove it with nail polish remover! Woot!

I started out with a magic eraser which worked too but took a LOT of elbow grease. Like more than I own. So I had to look for an easier solution.

I also tried alcohol but it didn’t work a bit.





Happy lady right here!

This window is officially ready for paint!

I’m putting my last coat on the living room windows tomorrow then I’ll be tackling the dining room and this one (the laundry room). My goal is to finish before snowfall….can I make it???

Tying Up Loose Ends

As our annual pig roast draws near, I am rushing to complete as many projects as I can. The humidity is killing many of my painting projects so we’ll see how much I can get done.

Sunday afternoon I wrangled Dan into helping me finish two projects that I’ve been sitting on for months. Literally months….like since April…oh my…

Lucky the painting had been done for write a while, before this super humid weather rolled in. I just needed help screwing the hooks in then hanging them on the wall. I’m not a very good DIYer yet because I can’t hang pictures straight to save my life. My hubby saves me on this.

First up, the laundry room. I’ve been wanting a hook for my ironing board since we moved in, but I struggled to find a hook wide enough for the legs of my ironing board. Young House Love’s target line saved the day! I mounted their hooks to my own board and hung out on the wall. Tada!



While I was at it, I raised the pictures on the opposite wall as I hung them too low originally.

My laundry room is complete (for now! I’ve got more ideas up my sleeve!)!

This room needs a proper reveal post now that it has reached a mostly finished stage…another day, my friends.

Next up, the nursery! I’ve been wanting to fill in the empty wall next to my nursing chair and it took me almost a year to make my idea turn into reality.

Middle of the night sickness made us realize how important a clock is in a nursery…you do NOT want to lay that baby down until the Tylenol has had a chance to kick in. Am I right?

I had seen similar boards with big clips on Pinterest, so I tried to incorporate the boards with the clock as one big collage.

I don’t know exactly what I’m going to hang from the clips but right now I’m thinking a mixture of family pictures and bible verses. I just grabbed some photos I had lying around for this post.

(I have some patching to do too…never mind the screw holes! Those will be covered soon…famous last words!)

So here’s my to do list from a few posts ago…making progress!

  1. Stain, poly, and hang the shelves in the basement bathroom
  2. The boards have made their way to the garage for sanding!

  3. Prime and paint the trim around the new windows that we installed a few weeks ago (by “we” I mean the professionals!)
  4. Done! Haven’t blogged about it though….it’s really not too exciting.

  5. Paint the remaining wood windows throughout the house
  6. Paint the trim around the front door
  7. Done! Need to post about this…

  8. Super glue the cup pulls to the mock drawers under the kitchen sink (I’m thinking super glue will work…not entirely sure, gorilla glue didn’t)
  9. Done! Super glue for the win!

  10. Touch up the paint on the kitchen cabinets
  11. Finish the clock/picture clip collage for Jackie’s room (not a good description…I’ll show you when it’s finished)
  12. Done!

  13. Finish and hang the hook for my ironing board
  14. Done!

  15. Raise the pictures next to the dryer in the laundry room
  16. Done!

Wow, crossing all that off feels so good! I hadn’t realized how much I’d gotten done. Woot!

What have you crossed off your to do list?

Knitty Muggyns!!

There are things that hang over my head that prevent me (ahem, I allow them to prevent me…) from getting more things done. I can’t work on house projects, the kitchen is dirty. I can’t finish Jack’s picture collage, I need to sweep/vacuum/clean etc.

The big one on my plate that prevented me from house projects and blogging was making color swatches for my dear sister’s Etsy shop, Knitty Muggyns. I had taken all of the pictures weeks, maybe months ago. I had to learn how to do it in photoshop so I was being lazy about learning it and getting it done. Shame on me.

Well, they’re done now! Almost, the color names might change. Here are the color options for the Jackson Blanket.

KM Baby Blanket Color Swatch2

Here are the color options for the baby cardigan.

KM Baby Cardigan Color Swatch2

The Jackson Blanket will be posted soon! Updates to come!