Climbing Out of the Hole

September 8, 2015

You may have noticed I’ve been a bit quieter around here lately.  There are reasons for that.  Reasons that are frankly a bit difficult for me to share, as I’m not really a personal-feeling-sharer typically.  I like to keep things happy, and positive, and educational in my corner of the inter web for the most part.  However I consider all of you my friends and I felt like I needed to tell you a bit of what’s been going on.


photo by Veronica Reeve

Let’s talk about stress, shall we?  I’m used to a lot of stress.  My job as a journalist was quite stressful. Every day I was thrown into a fire of deadlines and sometimes sadness and trauma and was forced to sink or swim by the 10 o’clock news.  I pride myself on handling stress well and being able to perform under intense amounts of pressure.  That being said, the last 9-ish months of my life have maybe been the most stressful I’ve ever experienced and I can’t say I’ve been performing well.

We (Jon and I) are both go-getters.  We love projects.  We like staying busy.  We like doing things well.  When we decided to sell our former home and search for a new renovation, we knew it would be stressful.  Add in a toddler and work and we expected things to be hectic.  Then we found out I was expecting Anna, and we knew it was going to be crazy town.  We braced ourselves and were pretty excited for the adventures ahead.  I mean, renovating our dream home and adding a new family member– these are awesome things, people.  And we did and do feel extremely blessed.  But that’s not to say it’s been all fun and games.

We launched into the #staggreno just as my pregnancy got interesting.  I have high-risk pregnancies with all kinds of fun and whacky medications, coupled with extreme nausea of the hospital admittance kind.  While we did hire out a few things on the house, the great, great majority we did ourselves.  Because I was pregnant, that meant Jon did most of the labor himself with some help from my dad and a few select contractors.  I designed, Jon did the heavy lifting (and there was a whole lot of it to do).  I was doing what I could to survive while taking care of my toddler and our days consisted of mostly this:  Jon waking up extra early, heading up to the house to get things moving for the day, working all day at his demanding full-time job, coming home for an hour for dinner, then heading up to work on the house until 2 or 3am while I was sick as a dog at home taking care of Ruby and would load her up in the car, drive up the house multiple times a day to check on things, travel all over town to supply stores and design centers, then back to the house again, and then home.  This daily schedule went on for months and months and months.  I wish I was exaggerating, but poor Jon worked himself ragged building us a home while I baked us a baby and cared for a toddler.

March came and Jon was able to carve out a little paternity leave for Anna’s birth.  I delivered on a Friday, checked out of the hospital on Sunday, and Jon spent his leave beginning the next day working all day every day for the next week working at the house, pushing to meet our deadline.  This period is a bit of a blur, honestly, but I mustered up my strength and pushed through, caring for both little humans and spending every spare second working on the house design, selecting fixtures and finishes, meeting with contractors, etc.  Jon sacrificed so very much to not only survive at work, but thrive, all while working himself to the bone at the house every minute he wasn’t at the office.  There was no time for a break for either of us, it was crunch time.  Our motto was “the only way out is through” and we repeated it to each other daily.

I remember having some baby blues after Ruby was born.  It takes a while, I think, for any woman’s hormones to go back into balance after the birth of a baby.  This time around I think it was a bit more than just some postpartum sadness and I began to slip deeper and deeper into a dark hole.  I felt alone and at times even breathing was painful.  My saving grace was and still is my sweet girls.  Ruby had very little adjustment from only child to big sister and has never had any jealousy, instead doting on her baby sister constantly.  Anna is quite possibly the happiest and most easy going little person I’ve ever seen and for a girl who was born in the middle of a hurricane, she has smiled and giggled and has won us all over since she came into our lives.  Jon pulled all nighters, knowing the only way we could get through this stressful time was to finish the house and move in and just as we felt things were coming to an end, a really crappy thing happened: we were robbed.

There is a lot to that part of the story maybe one day I’ll share, but in a nutshell, shortly before we moved in our new home was broken into and a whole lotta stuff was stolen.  It was devastating and so disheartening.  Our new neighbors, friends, and family were so wonderful and brought food, service, smiles, and hugs.  Jon decided to move into the house while the girls and I continued to live at the rental just to give us some peace of mind, but being apart completely, coupled with the stress of replacing everything that was stolen, nearly did us in.

Then Jon’s car broke down.

Then Jon was offered an amazing new opportunity with one of his clients and we had a very short amount of time to make the decision whether to take the job.

So, we renovated a house, had a baby, had a major break-in, had a car break down, changed jobs, and moved.  All in a span of a few months.

And I was still taking clients, blogging, shooting videos, recording my radio show, installing rooms, and trying to be a functioning member of society.

These are all first world problems.  We are so very blessed, and I feel so lucky to even be in a position to have these problems.  This post is in no way meant to complain, but more to explain why I’ve been a bit distant lately.  And there are wonderful things happening.

We have now moved in, Jon is settling into his new job, Anna and Ruby are thriving, I’ve hired two wonderful ladies to help with design work (so clients and prospective clients, things are running smoother now), and we are slowly bringing some much needed balance into our lives.  Like getting more than 3 hours of sleep a night and spending time together as a family.

I don’t quite feel like my old self yet, but I do feel like I’m getting there.  Jon is as supportive a husband as they come.

I’m behind on home posts and client posts, but I’m digging out of the hole and have some really great posts planned, folks.  All about the floors and kitchen and tile and ceilings and every little design detail you’ve been wondering about.  My friends, we poured our blood, sweat, tears, hearts, and souls into our #staggreno and I’m dying to share it all with you.  I hope you’ll forgive me for the delay, but the payoff will be worth it.

Thank you for all of your love, support, cheers, and virtual high-fives.



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  1. Kat says:

    Thank you for sharing. You really didn’t have to but I understand the need to get it all out there. I can’t and won’t say I understand what you’re going through, but I will say I’m still in a very very bad period of my life and it really does help to know I’m not alone, that I’m not the only one who has rough times, because even though it seems silly when I type it out, it really does feel that way. And really, we are finally at a point where things are settled and I’m still not ok, but part of my issue is that I’ve been struggling with depression and major depressive disorder for the past ten years, and omg it’s the worst thing I can’t get myself out of, period. We had our second baby last fall and she is the most beautiful, happy, easy going little thing ever. We fixed up our last house (which meant a lot of nights and weekends alone with a little one and a toddler while my husband worked by himself on it) and sold it while moving into our (hopefully) forever home, and honestly, our new house is beautiful. We found out after almost a year of looking for answers because she didn’t talk and she had ongoing high fevers every few weeks that would knock her out for one to two weeks at a time that our first daughter has a fever disorder on top of a completely separate genetic disorder that will affect her for the rest of our life and we are still struggling to cope with her diagnosis. And she is relatively healthy and happy, but she will most likely never be “normal” and can have some serious health problems and so will need constant monitoring and checks the rest of her life. We finally sold the house, got through the the twenty plus (not joking) doctors appointments, only to realize that the diagnosis was the last thing I needed to push me into a major depressive episode. So I have two beautiful girls, our dream house, and the chance to stay home with them, and I can’t get myself out of bed and I can’t make myself fall asleep before four in the morning, having tried everything and talked to numerous physicians. I feel like I’m drowning. I do know though, that I will get through this and that I have before, and my girls and my husband are the most important and best motivators I could ask for. Again, I am in no way comparing myself to you or your own struggles, but trying to say thank you in my own convoluted way and venting a little myself :). Sorry for the over sharing. I am so so sorry to hear about the robbery but so glad that you and your family were (hopefully) not there when it happened and are all safe. That is such a violation and I hope those responsible are or have been caught and punished. Your new home is beautiful and your girls are absolutely precious. Please know that there are so many people out there that support you and the gorgeous work you do. Thank you!

    • Heidi says:

      I don’t know you but I am in tears reading your comment. Please know you are NOT THE ONLY ONE going through these hard hard things. I am saying a prayer for you right now and pleading e the lord to give you some kind of relief and that you may feel comfort and love from him and your loved ones that surround you. Hang in there sweet girl.

  2. Laura Kendrick says:

    Wow, how very brave of you and admirable to be so honest .It’s very hard to say sometimes outloud how you feel, but even braver to say it to the world.

    You’re obviously a tight family unit with two beautiful girls and at the end of the day, no matter what gets thrown, at you, you always have them.

    Congratulations on your amazing, if not sometimes disrupted journey and looking forward to seeing more fab designs from #staggreno.You go girl 🙂

  3. Cat says:

    It takes a lot of courage to reveal to the world when one is having a tough time especially in this day and age when women are expected to be multi-taskers and to succeeded at everything they take on, be it mommyhood, whifehood and careerhood. But the truth is a lot of us go through what you went through or variations of that. In the past year, I’ve given birth to my second, a daughter named Ana as well, and completed my PhD all the while dealing with an energetic toddler and undertaking house projects here and there. The sleep deprivation sure gets to you some times, coupled with crazy hormones and you got yourself the perfect combo to feel defeated but knowing others are going through similar situations or knowing that these phases will eventually pass sure helps. So thank you for sharing, I’m sure you’ve helped other mommies going through tough times and I doubt any of them would judge you for taking some time to find your balance.

  4. Gina says:

    Any one of those things are terribly stressful on their own, let alone having them all occur basically at the same time! Hang in there and take the time you need. We’ll all be here ready to read whatever you want to share 🙂

  5. I know these kinds of posts are hard to write and put out there but I find them so humanizing. It always leaves me feeling like, “Phew, I’m not the only one!” So glad you shared and so glad you are starting to come out of the hole. xoxo

  6. Deborah says:

    I have been in that hole before and I understand. Don’t let it go on too long without seeking help.

  7. Sarah says:

    Sounds like you’ve had a crazy past few months. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us, it takes courage. I ope things will get better for you and your family, sounds like you are just about there. I know what it’s like to have a break-in, I’ve been there. It is the most violating feeling and sadly, takes a very long time for that to go away. Mine happened about 8 years ago and it has definitely affected me.

    Love your blog and can’t wait to see your finished home! Things will get better.

    Xo, Sarah

  8. Lydia says:

    I have wondered how you have managed to be so active still despite just having a baby, my first threw me for quite a spin!! I’m sorry that it has been so much craziness, thank you for sharing though and I’m glad to see things are settling down for you a bit! You have one beautiful family 🙂

  9. Bryony says:

    Smile and be proud of yourself! You have achieved a lot and come out the other side with your positive attitude to life in tact! Look forward to seeing the amazing things you have both done to the house! <3 <3

  10. Jeanne Gangi says:

    Thank you for sharing. You are not alone. I appreciate your honestly & openenss.
    My niece is attending University of Utah.I hope to get to meet you or hire you in the next few years.

  11. Kelly says:

    Thank you for sharing!!!!! I love reading your blog, watching your videos and following your amazing designs. You are really an inspiration.

  12. Marianne Brown says:

    Oh Jen, I just feel for you! Reading this post is sending me back to my own remodel while I was sick and pregnant and it was really rough on me too. Baby number two was really hard for me for a lot of reasons, just like for you, and it took me a long time to feel like I was back to my old self again. Like 2 years long. Go easy on yourself, don’t overdo it just because you’ve had a couple of good days, and do only what is necessary. That is what I learned and my third baby has been much better because of it. Baby blues are rough without all of the other stress. I hope things only get better and better from here on out. You are the kindest, and deserve only the best. Sending my love! Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.

  13. Karin says:

    Jen, I really do appreciate you sharing your struggles. My family has gone through some very serious times recently and when that happens you really do feel all alone. Reading about everyone elses’ seemingly perfect lives can make you wonder why. So to get a little insight and find out that others struggle, too, from time to time helps us all realize that we are not alone.
    Hang in there, do take it one day at a time. Enjoy your precious children, this time goes by incredibly fast and most of all I hope your husband can recover from his insane schedule. Get help if you need it! It already sounds like you have made some very positive changes and I wish you continued success and happiness.

  14. Molly says:

    Hi Jen, I apologize if the comment I left you the other day was insensitive, that’s not how I intended it. First of all, congratulations on your beautiful new baby! A new baby, while a blessing, is definitely stressful and a big adjustment. I’m sorry about your robbery and your car breaking down in the midst of such a busy and difficult time for your family. I appreciate that you and your husband are working so hard. What I meant to tell you in my last comment, is that I really hope that you are now able to slow down the pace of your lives so that you can enjoy your beautiful girls and enjoy the beautiful life that you have worked so hard to create. Again, my apologies for being so insensitive and rude.

    • Jen says:

      Hi Molly, thanks for your apology. Because I want to keep this a positive space, I don’t typically publish comments that I think strike a different tone. I appreciate you reading and sending well wishes. We are enjoying slowing things down a bit. Best of luck!

  15. Brynne says:

    Reading this made me tear up. How brave of you to be so vulnerable. It makes the rest of us feel human! Your home is absolutely stunning and I cannot believe what an amazing job you have done! Your family is beautiful, and I’m so glad you had each other to pull you through those tough, tough trials! So glad you are starting to feel better. “With every sunset, and through the dark of night, we have faith that the sun will rise again.”

  16. Kelli says:

    Stay strong! And for those days when you feel anything but strong, hunker down with your girls and your Eternal Companion and do what you need to get feeling better. Thanks for your candid post, it may have been your best reveal yet! I hope there are no comments posted that make you feel crappy about yourself. Ignore them! You’re inspiring, you’re beautiful and you’re doing the best you can. Keep that in perspective.

  17. Sarah says:

    Thank you for sharing! Take a few moments to yourself now that the storm has mostly passed. Nobody can keep up that pace for long 🙁

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