Friday, April 3, 2015


A couple days ago I gave you a look at the home we purchased 7 years ago. Today, I have the after pictures from the remodeling we have done over the years. It's so fun to see the differences.

We took out the carpet on the patio, made a ton of repairs and repainted the exterior.

Both bathrooms got completely redone. New flooring, even a new actual base floor in this bathroom. New toilets, showers and sink/vanities. The only thing that stayed is a tub in the 2nd bathroom (not pictured here).

The dining room lost the built in China Hutch, Got new wood laminate floors. New paint and a new chandelier.

Just like the bathrooms, the kitchen was gutted. Jail posts and Denny's bar was removed. Drywall put up instead of the paneling. New amazing Stainless Steel counter top was put in because I said I wanted something like the tables at Chipotle. All new cabinets, new counter tops and appliances.

This is the other end of the dining room but you get the idea. New paint, new floors throughout. New Dual Pane windows...and a crap ton of wood work.

The two pre-existing bedrooms got face lifts with new paint, carpet and windows.

Lastly, we added this third bedroom.

Little bit of a difference, huh? So fun going down memory lane. We will be sad to leave this place but are looking forward to what the future holds.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Our House before it was Home

Tomorrow we meet with a realtor to list our current home and buy a new one. With four kids...and hopefully more foster children to come, we need more space and a yard. Oh, how we need a yard.

I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the dump we turned into a home. I am not being harsh people. Just wait.

About 7 years ago, we decided to buy a mobile home as an investment to one day use towards a down payment. In order to make more money and stay in budget (the very small one we had), we bought a dump that was in a really nice park. My dad is an amazing woodworker and dabbles in pretty much anything that would need to be done and agreed to do the work at cost. He's awesome, right? On top of my dad, I have a super handy husband who was able to do a lot of the stuff on his own when he wasn't at work. My brother and uncle also came and helped out with the bigger projects.

All this to say, we looked at this clunker of a mobile home and knew that we could make it work on a tight budget.

Today, let's look at the before pictures. Later this week, after we do the photos to list, I will share those as the afters. The afters of the work and also, it's been lived in for about 6.5 years.

Okay, who's ready for a crazy flash back?

Welcome. We joked that the poor birdhouse was an miniature of the broken down house inside.

 Let's dive right in with a look at the bathrooms. These were the first to be fixed up. We wouldn't shower or use the restroom here until they were. The toilet in this bathroom would sink into the floor if you tried anyway. So much water damage. The stuff in the shower? Parting gifts from the previous owners, I guess.

 The kitchen and dining room are the biggest transformations in my opinion. I felt like I was in jail in there and the Denny's breakfast corner...well that could have been cool if it wasn't crammed in there.

The bedrooms and living rooms had black paper covering all windows and mirrors before we took these photos. One of the brothers (it was being occupied by the deceased owners adult sons), didn't like to see his reflection so it was all covered. Many of the flooring had to be replaced due to water damage from indoor plants.

All in all, it was a mess. Cannot wait to show you our after photos.

See the After Photos Here.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Adoption Celebration

Can I just say it one more time? Adoption rocks and we know first hand because we finally got to finalize on our sweet guy. I don't know how many times I can say that before it gets old. I don't think it ever will. We were so excited to celebrate our Little Man.

Through the couple years leading up to it, we had so much support. Beyond our greatest expectation, friends and family stepped up to support us from day one. We were blessed with clothing and formula and basic essentials when he came to us. You never know how to prepare for a foster child until they arrive. There is no way to know what to expect, so once we had him, people rose up and brought supplies.

Since his birth parents were out of the picture in the beginning, when they finally came forward, we were shook pretty hard. Reunification is always the goal in foster care but when it appears to be an adoption, your world is rocked when it looks like it may not be. People came to us and prayed over us...for whatever may happen, that Nixon would be protected.

When things kept stalling, when the process took too long, our support system lifted us up. Assured us that he was ours and that these were just technicalities. They pushed us through when we felt like we were stuck.

Then came the autism diagnosis. We went from a simple, time consuming adoption (with a child who was just a little challenging) to being in the middle of a special needs adoption. Once again, we were met where we were at. We were given advice and resources and safe places to play and be real without worry or judgement.

We did NOT go through this journey alone. We went through it with friends. With many of you. So it felt silly to celebrate alone. We knew it had to be done with the people who went through it with us.

Once again, our people showed up...and kept showing up. The amount of people who came to celebrate our family being official was insane. Even the ones who couldn't make it flooded our phones with calls and texts. The same people who cried during our heartaches, shared our tears of joy.

I cannot begin to put into words how blessed we are by it all. You guys, the ones who keep showing up. The ones who keep pouring into our life. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Baby Story - Adoption

Every time we have a child I come and share about our birth story. The little details leading up to the moment we first held that little baby in our arms. With Nixon, it wasn't anything like the others.
I was going to come on here today and share what we recently found out about our little man's birth. Like the fact that he was born at 6lb 6oz, the smallest of our babies by quite a bit. Instead, I decided to share the months leading up to his arrival. A "What to Expect While Expecting...a Foster baby" kind of post.

It all started with a call on our lives...
We always wanted to adopt but never though foster care was the route. Not until God put it on our hearts. I mean foster care is messy and scary but God is bigger and His plan is always bigger than ours. So we followed.

The prep was not nearly as long as we had thought it would be. When we decided to dive in we instantly started looking into agencies. We knew from the beginning we wanted to go with an agency vs the county but weren't sure which one. There are so many great agencies in the Orange County/Los Angeles area, if you are local feel free to email me. We will get you resources. I felt totally overwhelmed by the decision and went to FB for input. Within an hour we had talked to people and decided on Serenity Infant Care Homes. This was such a great decision for us. If you are in the area, I would highly recommend them.

The process started with an in home interview. They got to know who we are and what our hearts were.
We took classes at the agencies for 3 weekends, I believe it was. We heard the horrors stories and the victories. We were equipped with tools to face some of the hardest challenges I could imagine as a parent.
From there, came the packets and paper work (which some people did ahead of time but classes were starting right away when we called, so we did that first), Oh the paperwork. We answered questions about our past, present and hopes for our future.

Little Details were taken care of. We had DMV records mailed, a vehicle inspection and were LiveScanned. I think it all cost us around $300. If that. The fees are so minimal with Foster care.

We had a home study where we shared details that only my closest friends know. After answering things about our childhoods, sex lives and everything in between, we were approved as fit to raise foster children kinds of parents.

Then the wait. We heard how many kids entered the system daily. So when the first 24 hours passed, I questioned whether or not they really thought we were fit or if they just said that so I'd leave them alone. Haha.

On day 6, August 22nd 2012, around 10:45am, I got the call. I remember it like it was yesterday. A four month old baby boy. A few details about his case and his parents. We said yes. Well I said yes, Steven agreed after I hung up. Since we are with an agency, they had to call the county to let them know and make sure he wasn't already heading to a different home. 2 hours later, a second call. He'd be in our homes in a few hours.

That evening, a knock on the door. The transporter placed him in my arms and told me "he has a couple bags" and walked to her car. There he was. The most beautiful little guy. We soaked him in, the woman came back, handed us two raggedy bags and had us check him from head to toe. We marked anything wrong. Signed a few papers and she left.

His birth or gotcha day story had 298 days left to be complete. A million hurdles along the way. However, that was the day he entered our lives...for what we didn't realize would be forever.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Adoption Day

 Wow! What a high this has been. As many of you saw, on Friday we adopted our son Nixon. You all have known him as Little Man. I didn't know what to expect when we adopted him. I was told by other adoptive moms that it would be the best day ever. Yet, no one could really describe it.

I know why now. I am feeling what they all felt. The easiest way to explain it is that nothing changed but everything changed.

Over the last 2.5 years, we have loved and cared for Nixon just like any of our other kids. Sure, he had another set of parents that would visit and social workers would come check in on him but it was just a part of life. Then in March of 2013, the birth parents stopped visiting and we assumed that we would be adopting. As time went on we knew he would eventually be legally ours but for the time being it was just unofficial.

For the following months/years, he was just our son. He had two different names he went by and the social workers still came but other than that nothing was different than with our bio kids. So as we entered the courtroom, there wasn't much to really change.

The Fan Club...minus my siblings who were up taking photos
The signature of that judge though, it changed our life forever. This is such a surreal feeling. We have waited so long for this day. We have prayed over this child since before his life even began. He is ours. Forever.
Blooper Reel...when food is being discussed, we get serious.
Foster Care and Adoption can be scary but man can it be awesome. On our drive home, my husband shared some of his thoughts on the actual hearing. The comparison of our relationship to Christ. If I wasn't already a choked up mess. Goodness. I am not going to share any of it but instead have told him that he will be guest posting here on it. In the mean time, here are some photos of our big day.

Also, later this week I will be back with a photo dump of his adoption party. I may be in adoption mode for a while.

Friday, February 6, 2015


Soooo, we have been keeping a secret for a few weeks now. Today, we adopted "Little Man"! This has been quite a journey. We have been through a roller coaster of emotion. There were short periods of time when we thought he would be returned to his birth parents. Days when we didn't know what his future would look like. 

In October, we signed our adoption papers. The end to a wild ride. Again, the emotions were all over the place. My heart broke for his birth parents. I was so overjoyed for our family though. This little man has been such a blessing to us. He (and this journey) have grown me in ways that I didn't realize I needed. 

Today, I am so beyond excited to introduce you to the little boy who has been hiding behind masks in all of our photos. This is Nixon! He is pretty much one of the cutest kids you have ever seen, right?

And since I know that you are just dying to see him grow up over the 899 days that we have had him, we have this handy dandy slide show. Feel free to fast forward at anytime. I know it is long but it was hard to fit all that time in one little video.

If you need me, I will be gushing over our finally official son....and flooding instagram. Make sure you follow me there @vesselhandmade

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What I Wore, not so Recently though

These pictures were actually taken a little while ago but I have been so busy that I haven't had the chance to post them.

Family Day:
Top: GStage
Jeans: Forever 21
Jewelry: Premier Designs
Boots: Milano Shoes

Out and About:
Top: Nordstrom Rack
Jeans: Nordstom
Sandals: Target

Necklace: Premier Designs
Can we talk about how fabulous this baby is? It is reverseable too. My friend Nicole, who is awesome btw, sells this stuff and I am hooked on so much of it. Go look around, she is totally a small business that you guys want to shop from.

Dress: Ross
Sandals: Target's just my hair tie because I was going to dinner with four kids and I am practical.

pleated poppy 

Also, thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway this past week. The winner of our Lush Decor Gift card is Robin!!! I will be e-mailing you today with details.


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