DIY Cat Box Cabinet

Some say there are Dog lovers or there are Cat lovers… I am both!!! being such an unbiased animal lover has it’s challenges… Anyone who has had both dogs and cats at the same time can attest to this.

We haven’t had to worry about them getting along. Our dogs and cats play together, cuddle together and beg for scraps together…
Begging

One of our biggest challenges has been keeping our dogs from eating the “delicious kitty treats” out of the litter boxes. They just can’t seem to help themselves. The way we have done this up until now was to dedicate an entire room in our house to the cats. A baby gate in the door way (and lots of training of the dogs not to jump over it) has kept the litter boxes safe from hungry canines. This was working fabulously for the last five years, but now a baby is coming… And the cat room must become a nursery.

We debated for months about where to move the litter boxes…
The guest room? Our out of town guests don’t want to share a room with our cats. Plus they would not be able to close the door for privacy because how would the cats get in to use the bathroom?
The office? The downstairs access to the backyard is through the office. The dogs need that door available for their own potty needs.

Finally we realized we would have to get creative. With help from Pinterest and supplies from Lowes we created the perfect solution! We created a cat box cabinet that fit right under the stairs. This solution solved everything! The dogs can’t get to the litter box but the cats can and it looks pretty nice if I do say so myself.

Before COLLAGE

Cat box setup before

After Collage

Cat box setup after

This project was so easy and turned out so great, it surprised even me!

Here is what we bought:
1. A stock kitchen cabinet insert (in the size to fit our space and the style of our house)
2. A sheet of unfinished pine board
3. Finishing screws
4. Waterproof clear finishing spray
5. A medium cat door insert kit
6. A stick on “pop it” light

Here is how we did it:
1. We cut the pine board to fit the top of the cabinet (with a small lip over hang).
2. We treated the pine board with the finishing spray and let dry.
3. Using the instructions and cut out sheet from the cat door kit, we cut a hole in the side of the cabinet and installed the cat door.
4. Next we cleaned out the shavings from cutting the hole for the cat door.
5. Using the finishing screws we secured the pine board to the top of the cabinet.
6. For convenience we added a “pop it” light to the ceiling of the lower cabinet to provide light while scooping the used litter box.
7. We moved the cabinet to the desired permanent location under the staircase.
8. We put the litter box in the cabinet space, the scoops and plastic bags in the drawer and the food and water bowls on top.

We did have to teach our cats to go through the cat door to find their litter box. We found treats and desirable wet food as motivation to go through the scary new contraption helped a lot.

Now we have a beautiful way to hide the stinky side of having cats while also keeping our dogs from helping themselves to the “kitty treats” they so desire. We did all of this in one afternoon and still had time to clear out and clean up the soon to be nursery!

Nursery Before

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Dear Baby Journal

Dear Baby Journal

Even before I got pregnant I knew I wanted to keep a journal about my pregnancy journey. When I ask my Mom about what it was like to be pregnant there isn’t much she remembers. I guess that’s a vital part of natures plan to keep us wanting to have more babies. I want more from my memories. I want to be able to share my experiences with my child when they are starting their own journey of having a child. I want to be able to enlighten them about both the fun and the ugly parts of making a person. Also, they won’t remember us when we were first becoming parents and trying to figure out what to do. I want to be able to show them that we didn’t have it all figured out.

My husband and I didn’t know when we started this idea what it would become. We bought some blank journals and decided we would each document our individual experiences throughout the pregnancy. As we got started we both realized that we wanted this to be more than just a diary. We wanted something special we could share with our child some day. We started writing as if we were talking to our baby. Each entry became a letter to our unborn child about how the pregnancy is going and how they have already started changing our lives.  It’s therapeutic in a way we didn’t expect. We don’t hold back, expressing our joys, fears, amazement, love and our own self doubts.

I write once a week on the day the pregnancy switches over to the next week. I always start with “Today you are ** weeks and roughly the size of a **”. Each entry is unique based on what has happened over the last week. I end every entry with “Love Mom” which is strange in its self getting used to the new title of “Mom”. My husband writes when he has something to write about, sometimes more often, sometimes less. I don’t read his and he doesn’t read mine. We want to be able to share in complete honesty with no fear of judgment from the other person about how we may be feeling.

Some day our child will be starting a life all their own, whether that be moving out of state to college, getting married or having a child of their own. When the time feels right we will gift her with these letters we wrote to her before she was born (and possibly through her first year). I hope they will bring a smile to her face and offer some insight into how having her changed our lives.

 

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Pregnancy Gender Predictions!

There are so many old wife’s tales depicting ways to predict the gender of your baby while pregnant it can make your head spin! I loved gathering everyone’s guesses and learning of all of the different reasons why they thought one way or the other. My husband and I are very competitive and while we didn’t actually have a preference we had many laughs debating our girl vs. boy predictions.

I decided to create a chart (I’m an accountant, we LOVE charts!) to tally up the boy vs. girl wife’s tales so we could see, after we found out from an ultrasound, how accurate they were. I decided not to do any of the ones where you have to play with your pee because it grosses me out a little. We kept it simple and innocent.

Our results were almost perfectly split 50/50. I intentionally kept the tests to an odd number so one or the other would have to win out. The silly predictions came out to guess, 8 for a girl and 7 for a boy.

Over all it ended up being correct (by a hair)! We are having a girl!!!

Gender Predictions

What other fun gender prediction tests have you heard of? Where they accurate for you?

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Before Baby Comes Check-List

I’m 16 weeks (4 months) along now and I recently sat down with my boss to discuss my maternity leave plan. After that meeting I started to feel a little panicked. There was so much to do at work before November comes and it suddenly seemed right around the corner. This of course led me to start thinking, “is there a ton of things to do in our personal life before the baby comes that we haven’t thought of yet”?

I scoured the internet for hours looking for pregnancy to-do lists and pre-baby prep lists. The more I looked through the more frustrated I got. List after list containing to-do items like “drink lots of water”, “get plenty of rest” and “pamper yourself with a pedicure”. That’s cute, and all well and good if you’re looking for a sweet list to remind you to take a piss every couple hours. I was looking for a serious pre-baby check list. One with actual necessity items not all this fluffy sh**!

I couldn’t find a single list containing the types of serious items I was looking for… I was able to gain a few ideas here and there but no comprehensive list. Could I possibly be the first person to ever want a serious, no frills pre-baby checklist? I doubt it.

I decided to create my own list! I surveyed my friends, family and co-workers, looking for items I haven’t thought of yet. I am a first time parent after all, I can’t expect to know it all. Below is the list I have put together for myself, though I’m sure it will continue to grow a bit. Hopefully others find this helpful as well. If you have items I’ve missed please share!

  • Sign up for birthing and newborn care classes.
  • Plan the nursery space and take measurements.
  • Research daycares in our area.
  • Research baby products safety and consumer reviews.
  • Create a labor contact list.
  • Register for baby shower gifts.
  • Take a hospital tour.
  • Create a birth plan.
  • Paint and set up nursery.
  • Pack a hospital go bag. (Items for me, husband and baby)
  • Prepare our pets for the new arrival.
  • Buy and Install carseats.
  • Wash all of the baby clothes.
  • Deep clean the house.
  • Make freezer meals.

 

Of course if it’s important to you, don’t forget to get a pedicure 😉

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Pregnancy Panic

We (Myself, my husband, and all of our family and friends) released a collective sigh of relief once we made it past the terrifying first trimester of pregnancy. I naively expected to be able to sit back, relax and watch my belly grow…

If I had truly thought long and hard about it I would have realized that conforming your body to hold a whole new person inside an already pretty cramped space wouldn’t be easy or comfortable. But I was so relived that our baby lived through the first trimester I hadn’t thought about anything else. We had learned to protect ourselves after the first loss, by the second and third we almost expected the losses when they came. So this baby was no different. We couldn’t allow ourselves to get excited, to get attached to something we couldn’t keep. We did everything we could to give this baby a fighting chance but we never let ourselves believe that it would be ok. Then, all of a sudden we were at twelve weeks. Our high risk doctor cleared us to be transferred to a regular OBGYN and assured us that our baby was still doing great…

The first few weeks of the second trimester were spent trying to wrap our heads around the idea that our baby was healthy and strong. The excitement and sudden reality of the future overwhelmed us. We are going to be parents… Our baby is going to live…

Then the sharp pains in my lower abdomen started… We panicked, my husband was suggesting the emergency room but I decided to wait it out and call the doctor in the morning. My thoughts were consumed with “It’s happening again”, “we got excited too soon”, and “please survive baby”.  I called the advice line at my doctors office. I explained in great detail to the nurse what was happening. She asked me a thousand questions and told me she would talk to my doctor and call me back. That had to be the longest two hours of my life…

I got the call back and was immediately concerned by the chipper note in her voice. How could she dare be peppy while my baby dies inside me… Then she said the words I hadn’t even dared to hope for, “What you are feeling is perfectly normal”. She went on to explain “round ligament pain” and gave some suggestions of how to calm it. Stretching regularly, warm baths, plenty of rest. I was flabbergasted, could it really be that simple?

Once I got off the phone I researched round ligament pain and started laughing uncontrollably at my own fearful overreaction. The description of round ligament pain was almost word for word what I had described to the nurse. My symptoms were textbook second trimester ailments. “Round ligament pain is a sharp pain or jabbing feeling often felt in the lower belly or groin area on one or both sides. It is one of the most common complaints during pregnancy and is considered a normal part of pregnancy. It is most often felt during the second trimester”. It went on to describe what can bring it on, detailing the exact situations during which I had felt my own pain. I felt elated and like an idiot at the same time. My baby was fine! Still healthy, strong and growing. I couldn’t believe I had jumped to the worst possible scenario, I felt very foolish.

This experience opened my eyes to the reality I face for the next six months. Of course it will be painful and difficult to expand my body to make room for this whole other person. There will be a million new feelings and sensations I will be experiencing as my entire body changes. There is no good in jumping to the worst case scenario, though I will admit I will still probably call my doctor far more often than is truly needed. Better safe than sorry.

Pregnancy is hard. It should be, I’m making a person from scratch after all.

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Baby Fortner Announcement!

13 Week Ultrasound

That’s right! We are bringing a person into this world!

For those of you that don’t know our history here is a little background.
My husband and I have been trying to have a baby since we got married about five years ago. We succeeded in getting pregnant three times each time ending in a first trimester miscarriage. In 2016 we starting seeing an infertility and recurrent miscarriage specialist. She made some suggestions based on weeks of tests. The last few months of 2016 and the first couple months of 2017 hit us hard in terms of house issues and medical emergencies. We followed the doctors suggestions but didn’t have the opportunity to put them to the test. We decided we didn’t know what our future held medically so we made an appointment for insemination for June 2017.

That brings us to February 2017 when life calmed down a little. My husband was getting better and able to come home again and our newly purchased house was now safe to live in. I will say my birthday is in late February and my husbands birthday is in early March. We had been apart for quite a while at this point and had a lot of celebrating to do! Fast forward to March 17th, ST Patrick’s Day. I was 1 day late for my period and I had a feeling I was pregnant. I took a test and low and behold!

Test

As I mentioned before we had been here before… This time we decided to not tell anyone until we made it past the danger zone (first trimester). We continued seeing the specialist through the first couple months. Where we were spoiled with weekly viewing sessions of our growing baby! Each week we dreaded the possibility of bad news and were ecstatic to see our healthy growing baby each time! Finally the time had come… We were cleared as no longer high risk and were being transferred to a regular OBGYN. We could finally feel secure in the progress of our baby.

On Mother’s day (a day that has been very difficult and painful for me in the past) we shared our news with our families and friends!

Dog and Baby COLLAGE

The response was even more overwhelming than we had expected. For the last five years I had considered our battle to have a baby a strictly personal journey between my husband and I. I had failed to see how many people had been quietly but anxiously hoping and praying for us to succeed in our dream of becoming parents. While we felt so alone in our struggle, more people than we could have imagined were helping to hold us up.

We are extremely blessed to have a healthy baby on the way and such a strong and loving network to bring that baby into!  I will add more along that way as I can. here is a picture of my at 12 weeks, you can only image how big I am going to get before this is over…

12 week bump

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Project 365: March 2017

During the month of March what I learned most from this exercise is how much time I spend at work.

March 1st

March 1

March 2nd

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March 3rd

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March 4th

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March 21st

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March 22nd

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March 29th

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March 31st

March 31

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Our New Home!… Oops

I have lost count of how many times I have started and restarted this post over the last 7 months. Each time my outlook and feelings on the subject completely changed from the draft before. Seven months ago we sold our first house, our “Starter house” if you will and bought our second house. Days after we closed on the purchase I drafted a blog post that clearly shows my optimism and excitement. I held off on posting it only to take the time to add photos. Here is a snippet to give you an idea of how I was feeling…

August 2016: “One major change in my life recently has been the sale of our cookie cutter, ranch style home and the purchase of a quirky, 1940’s bungalow! Words cannot explain how over the moon I am about this new adventure. Since I was a little girl, I have dreamed of taking an old house and making it my own, piece by piece. The possibilities are endless and the pride of fixing it up, just my husband and I is unimaginable! I am going to spend far too much time on Pinterest… But in the end I hope to create something we will love and enjoy for many years to come! Of course I will share our DYI journey with all of you!”

In September we hired Lowes (they hired a 3rd party contractor) to build a cedar fence around our .21 acre yard. The contractor came and drew up designs for us and from that moment on came up with the most absurd excuses to not start the project. We requested a new contractor from Lowes and they provided one. He and his crew tore down the existing chain link fence and then proceeded to make excuses of why they weren’t going to show up or would only stay a short time. This contractor refused to talk with me and would only address my husband. Finally after weeks of waiting they finally finished and we were so desperate for them to be gone we ignored that fact that they didn’t fill in the holes they dug, clean up their materials or the work area. we found unused materials all over our yard and had to call Lowes to send a truck to remove it. We also found screws and nails all over the yard and drive way. At this same time Lowes sold the fridge we had paid for to someone else and informed us that the model was now discontinued so they couldn’t get another one. By the end of this I was still trying to be optimistic but was frustrated.

September 2016: “The fence is finally built after weeks of frustration and taking the dogs out on leashes several times a day. I have to admit though it looks fantastic! the cedar is beautiful and truly compliments the natural beauty of the yard. Our new appliances are in but Lowes sold our fridge out from under us so our fridge is not what we had wanted… We are working on painting the cabinets for the second time. Inexperienced as we are we forgot to sand them first!”

By October we had remodeled the kitchen and were very happy with the results. We were finally starting to get furniture and getting things unpacked. Then one Sunday morning we ambled down to our basement living room only to find the carpet sopping wet and no idea where the water was coming from. Eventually we discovered it was coming from the wall between the downstairs bathroom and one spare room. We immediately called our plumber and our insurance company. We managed to survive the few days our water was turned off and once the pipes were fixed they started ripping out the damaged walls and flooring. The pipes from our kitchen and bathrooms had burst, spewing water and sewage into our living space. A few days after this my husband was hospitalized for his chronic illness, (an episode worse than usually) this one lasting a month.  During the month of October we had scheduled a few other improvements as well. We had the dinning room rewired to include a chandelier at which time it was discovered that the electrical wiring in the upstairs was unsafe. He fixed it and completely rewired the bathroom as well. We also had a wood stove and new chimney installed. Our general contractor re-built the walls and installed the new bathroom vanity (the old one had to be thrown out due to sewage damage).  Keep in mind that during all of this I was trying to juggle Work, Contractors, my dogs and my husband in the Hospital. Most of the contractors were wonderful, only the wood stove/chimney contractors took advantage of me. My husband is the knowledgeable one in regards to home improvements so I assumed the contractors were doing what needed to be done in the appropriate way. When my husband was finally able to come home we discovered they had made the chimney too short and our house filled with smoke when we tried to use it. So he demanded they come back and build it to code.

October 2016: “I am seriously considering just burning it to the ground…”

In November the new carpet was installed down stairs by two very lazy installation guys. It was delayed and therefore got installed the day of my company holiday party and the day before my father in-law came to visit. They removed the steps from our spiral staircase to put the new carpet on then left without reinstalling them. Looking back now I’m sure it was an amusing sight to see me body slamming the stairs into the slots in a dress and heals, hair curled, makeup done up but at the time I was not amused. At this point we stepped back and took stock. Several unexpected issues came up and took immediate precedence. We had barely touched our wish list of improvements but on the upside the house was now safe to live in… Unfortunately we were also out of money.

November 2016: “What is wrong with societies work ethic? When did everyone start half assing their jobs? I would be unemployed if I treated my clients the way most of the contractors we have dealt with have treated us. At least it’s done! There is a lot more we want to do but we have spent all of the money we had set aside and then some… The cosmetic improvements will just have to wait.”

Little did I know the worst was yet to come. The house stayed as it was but in late December my husband lost the function in his legs. It was sudden and unexplained so he was back in the hospital but this time a specialty hospital 30 miles away from home. After the hospital he couldn’t come home because a wheelchair wouldn’t fit through our hall ways and he couldn’t manage the stairs. I had to tour and pick a nursing home for my 33 year old husband. It was a terrifying and depressing experience I hope to never relive. Eventually he was able to come home, through physical therapy he was able to walk again over time. My bitterness for the house that kept my husband in a nursing home was well rooted by then.

February 2017: “This house was a mistake. I won’t stay here longer than absolutely necessary. Denver (my husband) and I have decided to sell our house, buy land and build the house of our dreams. We never again want to buy a house full of horrible surprises and waste every penny we have trying to make it work. We will instead build what we want!”

I will still post the before and after pictures of the improvements we made. I will also be sure to blog the entire process of building our forever home! In the end the universe gave us sign after sign that this house isn’t right for us and we are going to listen. Wish my luck on our newest adventure!!

 

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Project 365: Feb 23rd – Feb 28th 2017

This gallery contains 3 photos.

6 days down, 359 to go. So far the hardest part is picking my favorite picture from each day. As you will see below some days I couldn’t choose just one. February 23rd 2017 February 24th 2017 February 25th 2017 … Continue reading

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Project 365: Photography Challenge

Today I turn 29 years old. As my twenties come to an end and I prepare to embark on the adventures that my thirties are sure to bring, I find myself reminiscing more than I do on most birthdays. During my twenties my life completely changed, many times over. Who I am changed, many times over. I doubt that any other decade of my life will be as transformative as my twenties. I have this one remaining year and I plan to make the most of it!

I have decided to participate in Project 365. If you aren’t aware, Project 365 is the challenge of taking one photo everyday for a year. Do you remember what happened to you on November 10th 2016? I don’t, I barely remember yesterday. For my last year being a twenty-something I vow to photo document at least one aspect of my life each day until I turn 30!

I have a few reasons for taking up this challenge.

  1. I think it’s a fun way to close this chapter of my life.
  2. I’ve been looking for a new way to freshen up my photography skills.
  3. I hope it will motivate me to get out of the house more.

I will post my photos for the previous month here on my blog on the first of each new month. I’m excited to see what this year holds for me and how it all comes through the lens.

 

If you want to start your own Project 365 challenge let me know. I would love to follow along through your pictures as well! If you want a more formatted platform here are some sites dedicated to the challenge.
https://365project.org/
https://www.blipfoto.com/
http://momentile.com/

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