Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Look Back on 2014

I'm pretty sure this has been the most eventful year of my life. 2006 was pretty eventful - varsity volleyball, LEAD team, graduating high school, starting college, etc., but I think getting married trumps all of that!

So today Brandon and I sat down to talk about some of our highs (and lows of 2014):

The Best Parts of 2014:

- Getting married (can't believe we are only 12 days away from our first anniversary!)

- Going on our honeymoon (particularly given that last winter was awful and freezing)

- Committing to a real food diet (Brandon's high :))

- Visiting friends in Colorado, Maryland, Illinois and Minnesota

- Taking a family trip to Florida

- Moving 5 minutes away from some of our best friends

- Having another set of great friends move to Minnesota (from Colorado) a month after we did - yay for all living in the same state!

- Welcoming Reagan Grace

- Moving to Minnesota - this goes on the best and worst list - points for the adventure of moving to a new state and being closer to friends and Brandon's family, but challenges because we left a great church, friends, and my family back in Michigan

- Making some incredible new friends - we were especially blessed to join an amazing bible study at our MI church at the end of 2013

- Having back surgery - another one for both lists - its been a really tough last few months, but we are so grateful for finding a great doctor and that things seem to be moving in the right direction

- Finding a new church in Minnesota - and the start of new friendships

- Watching our nieces and nephews grow up (so sweet to hear "Uncle Brandon" and "Aunt Julianne" for the first time)

- Celebrating the 4th of July with siblings while watching fireworks over Baltimore's Inner Harbor and partaking in a seafood feast (Brandon has particularly fond memories of this night - can you catch a food theme on his end?)

- Being part of an incredible mentoring program (I joined...Brandon picked up with the student he had been mentoring before moving to MI)

- Running my first 10k

- Our first Christmas tree - Brandon asked me the other day if we should take it down over New Years....I said "why?" Brandon took a couple of seconds to think that over and then told me if it was up to him he'd leave it up until February. I'm not sure we will make it that far :)

The Hardest Parts of 2014:

- Moving to Minnesota and being 4 states away from family and friends

- Having back surgery 

- Losing one of Brandon's best friends - Josiah

- Dealing with an apartment in Minnesota that seems to be continuously breaking (i.e. they come to fix the dryer and break the washer)

- Having a particularly high number of friends struggle with infertility/miscarriages

- Job challenges

- Family drama

While this has ultimately been an incredibly adversarial year as well, we rest strongly in our faith and the blessings of our Savior. 

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morinign; great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Crafting: Pearl Ornaments

A couple of weeks ago I fell in love with these ornaments I saw on Pinterest:

But like so many things I find on Pinterest, this ornament was out of stock and overpriced (originally $12 at Anthropologie). Plus I figured I could easily make this a DIY project.


- styrofoam balls (go a little smaller than the size you want your actual ornament to be because the pearls will add width)
- craft pearls in different sizes (I went with 3 different sizes)
- hot glue gun and glue sticks
- ribbon
- an ornament hook

I simply glued the pearls to the styrofoam balls in a random order. When I got the the top I bent an ornament hook in a "u" shape and stuck the hook into the ball - leaving the loop of the "u" at the top of the ornament. I tread ribbon through the loop to use to hang the ornament on our tree.

Taking a DIY approach, these ornaments ending up costing me about $3 each - and I like mine a lot better than Anthropologie's!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Crafting: Card Display

I LOVE Christmas cards! Let's face it, snail mail is rarely exciting anymore, and I love that the holidays bring an influx of "fun" mail and greetings from friends and family.

Brandon and I sent out postcard Christmas cards this year rocking a wedding picture and this more recent picture taken last month in Florida.

Since we don't have that many Christmas decorations (being our first married Christmas and the fact that we have no where to store off-season items in our current living situation), I knew that I wanted to find a way to display our Christmas cards as they arrived. 

As always, Pinterest is full of inspiration. Here were some of my favorites:

I decided to go with the third option because (1) our kitchen is open to the living room and provides a great display opportunity, and (2) our kitchen cabinets are hideous - and anything I can possibly do to distract away from their 80s decor is a pleasant relief!

This was an incredibly simple project. I used a measuring tape to estimate the amount of ribbon I would need (this will vary depending on the size of your cabinets), and bought 2 spools of ribbon (on sale + a 30% off coupon) and some clothespins from Joannes. 

To add a little more festiveness I decided to modge podge some Christmas wrapping paper onto the clothespins. 

How do you display your Christmas cards?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My New Hardware

The day after Brandon and I returned home from vacation with my family, we packed our car to the brims and headed back to Michigan for the month of November. When I was 12 (2001) I had back surgery for a herniated disk. The surgery was successfully and I spent the next 4 years playing year round volleyball and engaged in normal high school activities - however, when I headed to college in 2006 the pain began to return. Years of doctors appointments, alternative treatments, and chronic pain followed. The doctors knew what was wrong, kind of, but weren't sure how to fix it.

My trendy set of wheels.

Fast forward to 2013 when Brandon asked my dad for permission to marry me. My dad asked him two questions:

1. Do you know what you're getting into?

2. Do you know how expensive she is??

Now normally a girl might be offended that her father was insinuating to her husband-to-be that she was high maintenance, but I knew that my dad was not necessarily referring to my personality, but more so the fact that in our family, I'm generally recognized as the one who is a "medical mess."

Brandon, brave soul that he is, accepted the challenge and married me anyway :) 

A few months into our marriage, Brandon decided that he was going to find a solution to my pain! I was pessimistic, but went along with getting a new round of x-rays/MRI/CAT scans done and finding new doctors - including the doctor who did my grandfather's back surgery last summer. To make a long story short, we finally found a surgeon we loved who, after a summer of injections and diagnostic tests, gave us the option of scheduling a surgery with a 60-70% of a positive result. We decided to take the risk.

Because we were so happy with our MI surgeon, after we made the move to MN, we decided to travel back and live with my parents for a month so I could stay with Dr. K.

About 3.5 weeks post-surgery and one of the first days I put on "real" clothes! A visit from Reagan was great medicine, but because I'm on a 5 lb weight limit for the next 3 months someone has to put her in my lap for me!

As it turns out, the surgery was anything but "uneventful." In the two weeks leading up to my surgery date we were convinced it was not going to go through. Our insurance was cancelled, and the new insurance was set to kick in 2 days before surgery - not enough time to get approval. My body was showing numerous signs of pregnancy (which we would have loved and welcomed) - which made for some frantic weeks of testing and doc. visits to see if we needed to cancel surgery. 4 days before the surgery I got a call that I had a random infection and needed to start taking meds for 3 days before the surgery (we were in FL when I got this call). Finally once our insurance was finally figured out (the old insurance extended coverage until the end of the year because of our situation) the insurance company did not follow through with approving my surgery until the day before!

Finally, after everything we had gone through, when I was sitting in pre-op starving (because of an emergency my surgery was pushed back until 5:30 p.m. and I hadn't eaten anything since the night before and a hungry Julianne is not the most pleasant person to be around....), my doctor chose to remind me that this surgery was elective, and I could back out at any time. 

I broke down. Thankfully my mom and Brandon told me NO WAY was I backing out, and when the doctor came out to talk to them post-op he said things were worse than he had ever expected and that if I hadn't gone through with surgery now he was certain I would have needed it in a few months.

After 5 days in the hospital, I headed home with my own walker and a brand new set of hardware gracing my lower back!

The last month and a half has been very difficult - recovery is slow and tedious, and there have been some setbacks along the way. But Brandon has been an absolute gem - in both living with his in-laws for 5 weeks and in caring for me, and I couldn't have done this without him.

Brandon's work was awesome and let him work remotely for the month - including a few days from the hospital!

It's still too early to tell the full results of the surgery, but we are hopeful!