A Look Back at 2019

Change.

That is definitely my word for 2019 because this year was full of so much change for me and for our family. I started off 2019 in a really dark place. We had just had our miscarriage and I was still in a fog of surgeries and sadness. Then the pain continued when Bridget told me she was leaving the blog and I scrambled to figure out what that meant for me and my career. I honestly felt a lot of self-pity during those first few months of the year.  I experienced plenty of “why me?” moments and uncertainty about the future. Keeping Baby Finn a secret

Thankfully, Finn helped me get out of that dark place and suggested we move forward with a new gameplan for life. We sold our condo on a whim, started house hunting, and just put one foot in front of the other, taking it day by day, to craft the life we wanted. This new plan motivated me and got me excited about the future, which was something I hadn’t felt in a long time.

2019 In Reviewcasey working full-time on the blog

It’s crazy to think that taking those steps back in the spring led me to where I am right now as I write this – in a new house (that we’re having a blast renovating) with a healthy baby girl on the way. If you had told me, at the beginning of the year,  that this would be my reality as we closed out 2019, I would have laughed in your face. But here I am, proof that so much can change in such a short amount of time.

So let’s take a closer look at 2019 and all of the monumental moments and blog posts that got me here.

Losing Our Son (January)Hysteroscopy after IVF miscarriage

I started off the year on a sad note by revealing that we had lost our son over the holidays. We had a great start to the pregnancy with multiple normal ultrasounds and a healthy heartbeat, but at my 9-week appointment, his heart had stopped beating. I then went through multiple surgeries to remove the baby.  That was, by far, the hardest blog post I’ve ever written, but I felt it was important to share our story of struggle.

The reaction to this blog post was unbelievable, I heard from women all over the world who had also suffered through miscarriage and loss. So many readers sent gifts and good luck charms. One amazing stranger even knitted a blanket in honor of our son and donated it to her local NICU. Hearing from these selfless people lifted me up and made me feel less alone during a trying time.

Flooded Storage Unit (February)Flooded storage unit

Because we lived in a small condo, we rented a storage unit nearby to hold all of our Christmas decorations, childhood mementos, and random items (like my wedding dress). At the beginning of February, we got a call that a pipe burst at the storage facility submerging all of our belongings in six feet of water. Even though we had all of our childhood mementos neatly packed away in plastic bins, the water got so high that it seeped directly into them. After taking so much time to hand-select the items we wanted to save forever, they were gone in an instant. And there was no replacing these priceless mementos.Destroyed wedding dress

It was devastating and we shed lots of tears. But in the end, we both realized it was just stuff. Of course, I didn’t want to lose all of my childhood possessions, but just because the stuff was gone didn’t mean the memories were gone. After losing our baby, I  gained so much perspective on the things that matter most to me. My husband matters. My family matters. My relationships matter. Christmas decorations don’t matter. Golf clubs don’t matter. This shitty incident changed my perspective and helped us both realize that we needed a positive change in our lives.

House Hunting (March)House hunting

During February, Bridget told us that she wanted to leave the blog which left me scrambling (more on that soon). Because we were pretty much done renovating our condo, I wasn’t sure what the future of the blog would look like without her. That’s when Finn and I decided to start looking for a new place to live. We figured we could use a fresh start somewhere, and it would make for some great content for the blog!Prepping my house to sell

This decision shifted my energy and my focus into something positive. I spent hours researching neighborhoods online, checked out every open house on the weekends, and honed in on finding our dream home. In this post, I shared more about our ideal house and I also revealed some of the red flags I saw when house hunting here in Chicago.

Selling Our Condo (April)Home Sweet Home letter board sign

We decided to sell our condo before finding a new house, which felt suuuuper scary at the time (but I explained why we went that route in this post and the things I did to prep our condo to sell in this post). We ended up getting five offers in 48 hours and sold our condo in an all cash sale to the highest bidder. It was an amazing feeling but also left us scratching our heads as to what would happen next. Because we were in such a good selling position, we were able to negotiate a quick close (30 days) with the option to rent back for up to 30 days. Finn and I figured this was the best option for us because we could make sure the close happened fast (leaving less time for the deal to go awry) and still have a bit of time to look for a new house and pack.Tips to prep your home to sell quickly

As a tribute to our time there, I put together this walk-through video so I could always remember how it looked when we left that amazing condo. You can head over to our Youtube channel right here to view or watch it below.

Bridget Leaving the Blog (April)Happy holidays from the DIY Playbook

In April, we announced to our community that Bridget would be leaving the blog to focus on her family. This was an incredibly painful announcement because I never saw myself running The DIY Playbook alone. It was something we did for six years together and I didn’t see this change coming from a mile away. Bridget and Casey from The DIY Playbook

I kinda felt like I got dumped and I was absolutely heartbroken. When she told me, I wavered between feeling sad and devastated, and also a bit angry and betrayed. I also felt nervous and self-conscious. Would readers stick around to read about me and my journey? Or would they continuously ask for Bridget to come back? Of course, I understood Bridget’s desire to simplify her life and be with her two boys, but I also felt like I was her business partner and I was left out of a very important decision that impacted my career, my income, and my future.

I shared all of my thoughts on the topic in this lengthy blog post, as well as my plans for the future of The DIY Playbook.

We Bought a House (May)we bought a house

In May, we purchased our Finn Fixer Upper! It was so incredibly exciting announcing it on the blog and you guys were so happy for us and our new adventure. casey and finn in the living room beforeI shared all of the before photos in this blog post and the video walks through the entire home before our renovation. I still can’t believe that it looked like that just a few months ago…

You can view the video below or you can watch it over on our Youtube channel right here.

Final Condo Tour (May)Casey and Finn dancing in the kitchen

We moved out of our condo the first weekend of June, but before I left I did one last big “before and after” of our condo. Too small dining room tableTips to prep your home to sell quickly

You can see the entire transformation in this blog post.

Sharing Our Renovation Budget (June)

Renovation dust and construction

Our renovation started in mid-June and daaaaaamn it was a pricey one! Finn went into all of the details (I’m talking real numbers, people) in this blog post and you guys loved the real talk about budget.

Renovation Progress (July)Renovation progress during 2019

Finn and I moved in with my mom for the summer (it was a blast btw!) and I would go over to the house just about every day to check in on the progress. And man, things moved quickly! Laundry room drywalled in home renovation

From electrical, to choosing paint colors, and even a surprise we found in the walls, you can check out some of the renovation progress in this blog post.

A Big $25,000 Setback (August)

A big setback during our renovation

Our renovation was moving right along when we ran into a huuuuuge issue. You can read the entire saga here, but it resulted in a huge delay in our project, 180 bags of trash found in the ceiling (for real, it was crazy), and a $25,000 blow to our budget. Thankfully, we persevered.

Our Renovation Before & After (September)Getting settled on moving day

We officially finished our renovation in September and moved in. It’s still wild to look back on the before and after photos. So much changed in such a short amount of time!

Master Bedroom Closet Before

Master bedroom with new doors and black door knobsBelow you’ll find a walk-through video that I took right before we moved into the house. This was only three months ago, but so much has already changed since then! You can view on our YouTube channel right here

Tackling Home Projects (October)Our deck makeover

Our new garage floor

Once we were moved in, it was time to get to work with some DIY projects. Before it got too chilly, we transformed the deck, added floor tile to the garage, and had a new fence installed.

Our bathroom refresh wood wallWe also gave our first-floor bathroom a much-needed refresh. Master Bedroom Closet Beforecloset before and after makeoverAnd made our master bedroom closet much more functional with a custom-made system we installed from IKEA. Before photos of our finn Fixer upperOur living room makeover

But by far the biggest transformation was the living room! I only have a few more finishing touches to complete this space.

4th Annual Gift Guide (November)Our 4th annual gift guide

I was so happy that we decided to stick with our annual tradition of creating a gift guide. Finn and I had a blast putting this year’s guide together and we even shot these photos super early (in September!) so we would have enough time to get it all done.

We’re Having a Baby! (November)Baby Announcement

Just last month, I had the pleasure of revealing the happiest news…we are pregnant with a healthy baby coming in May 2020. I knew you guys would be happy, but whoa…I was blown away by the love and support we received with our announcement. I also shared the video below, giving a glimpse into the long road it took to get to this point, as well as a recap of our successful transfer in this blog post.

I pretty much cry every time I watch the video, but it really gives you a good behind-the-scenes look at the daily struggles, constant pain, and emotional toll that this process puts on a couple. You can watch the video below or over on Youtube here.

Gender Reveal – It’s a Girl! (December)Our Gender Reveal

A week later, we announced that we’re expecting a baby girl! Words can’t express how overjoyed we are at the thought of welcoming a healthy daughter into our family. Finn is especially excited. I have a feeling she is going to be a daddy’s girl all the way! I also shared a recap about my first trimester, how I’m feeling, and what it means for the blog over in that post.

Laundry Reveal (December)Our laundry room makeover

This last post probably feels familiar since it was just a few days ago! We just completed our laundry room and we are loving the functional space we now have upstairs. It’s crazy how the chore of doing laundry is infinitely better with a functional setup.

What’s to Come in 2020?

Welcoming our baby girl

Well, obviously the big news will be baby girl’s arrival in May 2020, but before she arrives we have soooo many projects we want to get done around here. First, we’re starting with the office and then moving onto the nursery. I’m planning a big Home Goals 2020 blog post for the beginning of January, so that will outline our monster to-do list for next year. I can’t wait to get started…

Casey