Early Morning Target Runs

As of this moment, I’ve spent the last 4 years 3 months and 22 days at home on Mondays and Fridays with my now 4 year old son, and that doesn’t include my maternity leave. He’s only been going to daycare, school, camp – whatever you want to call it when they’re that small – 3 days a week because my work schedule has allowed me to stay home 2 days a week and I have loved every single bit of it. On Wednesday he starts Pre-K – that’s 5 days a week you guys – and to be honest I’m kind of a wreck over it. Am I crazy? I feel like I am. I know he’s not leaving on a jet plane to forever travel the world. He’s not going across country to college or anything like that. I mean he’s not even going to be riding the bus you guys. So yeah, I know I’m probably being a bit crazy, but what’s a girl to do with all these feels?

Mondays have been fun but Fridays have always been my favorite – for the obvious reason that they’re basically a kick-off to the weekend but also because of the way I’ve been able to savor every minute of them with Austin and we’ve been lucky enough to usually never be in much of a rush on those days.

For a long time our Fridays consisted of my husband meeting me in my workplace parking lot at 7:30 am, since that’s when I got off, and us doing the baby switch-a-roo. I’d take Austin to Target but since they didn’t open until 8 am we’d usually have to sit in the parking lot for a few minutes. I’d talk to him for those few minutes even though at that point he didn’t talk back. Man, those were the days. I kid. Kind of. By they way, guys, 8 am is THE time to go to Target … ain’t nobody there. We’d spend at least one eternity in the baby/toddler section, scouring the food aisle so I could buy him the latest and greatest snacks, cups, bottles, whatever caught my eye that day. Then we’d peruse the clearance clothing racks and because he had more than enough baby clothes before he even graced this earth, I’d usually buy about 3 sizes up. I mean if it’s a good price it’s a good price. Then I’d mosey on over to the ladies clothing section since the Lord knew I needed just one more kimono type shirt. Am I the only one who lives in those? Of course the home decor section had to be investigated too. And whatever else we might have needed got shoved into the overfilled cart. He’d spend most of this time, if not the entire time, wide-eyed but quiet. Either he was a good enough baby to give me the peace I needed while shopping or Target just really bored him. Either way, it worked. I’d pick up a spinach, egg white & feta wrap and a venti Pikes Place from Starbucks on our way out and by the time we got home, he was ready for a nap. He wasn’t much of a sleeper so I didn’t have a lot of time to myself, but even so I probably should have taken advantage and taken my own snooze but all my recorded Real Housewives shows were calling my name. I’d usually get an episode in before the giant awoke and play time ensued. Our Target trips and post-Target naps/TV viewing lasted a while. When he got old enough I’d pack snacks for him to eat while at Target, because we all know there’s never a “quick” Target run. Am I right? Those entirely too long Target trips were eventually replaced by park trips when he got old enough (a little better for the child I guess). Then my work schedule changed so there were no more 7:30 am parking lot baby switches going on. I actually had the entire Friday off so our days were even more lively with a good night’s sleep preceding them. It’s still our errand day (aka Target day), but it’s also become a day of breakfast dates, outdoor time, play dates, helping around the house, cooking and baking, and maybe a little TV watching on his end so I can catch a breath and check my Instagram, and Facebook too if I’m lucky. I never claimed to be perfect.

 

Even with my crazy work schedule we’ve had plenty of mommy-son time and the bond that’s formed is quite amazing in my opinion. This whole 5-day a week school thing is for the birds. I kid again. I realize it’s a bit dramatic to be acting the way I am over this, but I’m not kidding when I say there’s a tug at my heartstrings, okay a yank, when I think about it. My Mondays and Fridays are going to be strange for a bit to say the least. My friends claim “oh you’ll have so much free time now to devote to your millions of hobbies, it’ll be great” … but I just can’t quite see it that way yet. Soon hopefully. Maybe I’ll catch up on my sleep, or maybe I’ll catch up on my TV shows that have piled up over the years. Who knows? What I am pretty sure of though is that my “early-morning-Friday Target runs” are going to change to “after-Austin-gets-out-of-school-on-Friday Target runs”. It just wouldn’t be right without him.

Here’s to the approaching school year! Have a wonderful week 🙂

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Time to Move On

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I never knew a “For Sale” sign could elicit such strong emotions inside of a person. Emotions that involve some smiles and excitement but way more tears, fears and anxiety. We put one of those signs in our yard on a Sunday and by that Friday it was a done deal. I can’t count the number of times I wanted to yank the sign from our yard during those 5 days. Every time I glanced out the window something just didn’t look right. I still sometimes think about yanking it down, although at this point I don’t think it would make a difference.

Before you get the wrong idea, let me promise that I am, indeed, so excited about moving. The house we’re buying is filled with character and quirkiness. It’s a blank canvas for me, which is always a project I love taking on. I’m stoked to make it our own. Parts of it will be a challenge and I think that’s what makes me the most giddy. But in order to say hello to the new house we must first say good-bye to the house we’ve called home for 9 1/2 years, and I’ve never been a big one for good-byes.

For myself, I’m saying good-bye to the house that I bought on my own by working two jobs. The house that I bought because I wanted a project ~ more walls to paint, more rooms to furnish with my bargain finds, more space to do what I love best. The house that I bought because I wanted a yard for my dog and cat, and a garden full of vegetables. The house that scared everyone else away with its foreclosure status. The house that wasn’t anything fancy but felt like a castle to me.

For me & my husband, we’re saying good-bye to the house that witnessed our years of dating. The house that greeted us after we said “I do”. The house we lived in when we brought home 1 new cat and 2 new dogs (not all at the same time if that makes any difference). The house we lived in when we lost our adored black lab of 12 years. The house we lived in when my husband made the decision to climb 365 mountains in 365 days to raise money for cancer research. The house we lived in when we got the news my dad was really sick with cancer. The house we lived in when we found out we were pregnant. The house we lived in when we brought home our now 3 year old son from the hospital. The house we lived in through countless family get-togethers and parties with friends.

For our son, he’s saying good-bye to the only house he’s ever called home, although lucky for him he’s not quite as emotionally bound like the rest of us. Our house is old and we need a new one, according to him.

 

 

It’s bittersweet to say the least. I feel like if these walls could talk they’d never stop. They’ve seen a lot of really good times and they’ve seen some really bad times, as most walls have. They’ve seen cream paint, tan paint, grey paint, all shades of blue paint, and my favorite, teal paint. They’ve seen the story of us for the past 9 1/2 years.

Even beyond all the memories though, what this house holds so much of is pure and simple sweat equity, and the sweat just happens to be from some of the people I love best ~ my husband, my mom, my dad and my super talented brother. Without their sweat (literally), this house wouldn’t be the house it is today. All the way from stripping the wallpaper to painting the walls to scrubbing every inch clean to gutting the kitchen to reconfiguring the bathrooms to landscaping the yard to refinishing the hardwoods (which I do NOT recommend you try at home) … all these changes happened because (A) my brother is a master carpenter and because (B) my family lent their hands, their time and their sweat. They helped me turn the scary foreclosure with red carpet into basically the house of my late twenties’ dreams. I can look around at any room in this house and see the before & after in my head. The bridge connecting the before & after is my family. Pretty meaningful if you ask me.

 

 

So yeah, it’ll be a tough move. But we’re not going far and I’m beyond thankul for the opportunity. And I’m beyond thankful for the memories I have from this home. I’m looking ahead and looking forward to doing it all over again, making new memories and creating a unique space just for us (maybe just not a complete overhaul this time).

In the words of the great Tom Petty ~  it’s time to move on, time to get going. What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing. But under my feet, baby, grass is growing. It’s time to move on, it’s time to get going.

I couldn’t say it any better. ‘Til next time.

Childhood Fading

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My son went trick or treating for the first time Monday night, and somehow within that short hour or so span I was reminded just how quickly his childhood is moving. Watching him in all his excitement, yelling “trick or treat” over and over as soon as his hand left mine at the top of each driveway, running way too fast down each driveway and up each step, I found myself half filled with joy and half filled with sadness. Will it be this delightfully exciting for him next year? Will his costume be as adorably innocent? Will he be as eager and enthusiastic to show me each and every piece of candy he gets at each and every house? Maybe so, but a larger part of me thinks no. I think the excitement will always be there – I mean how can it not be with free candy in the picture? The expectations will be there though and at some point having his mom and dad waiting at the top of each driveway might kind of annoy him. Not to mention this is probably the last year I’ll get to choose his costume – although he wholeheartedly agreed to dressing up as the man with the yellow hat from Curious George, most likely next year it’ll be something a little more “modern”. If I had it my way, he’d be old-school PBS characters forever. It’s amazing the thoughts and feelings one can have just witnessing something as simple as the act of trick or treating.

Along with all these thoughts and feelings came the harsh realization that I have not been living in the present lately. I’ve been trapped in a fog of sadness, worry, impatience and even a little anger, all the while missing out on precious moments of time. About a month ago I went through a miscarriage and during this time my husband and I found out that it may be too risky for us to have any more children. This news blindsided us and in a way turned our worlds upside down. It was devastating to hear and I took it in and let it run my life, focusing on the negative and nothing else. As if the miscarriage wasn’t hard enough, we now had this to contend with. Why us? Why me? I’ve let these questions plague me for the past month and in turn my attitude, my mood and my lifestyle have all been affected. I’ve been okay on the outside but inside has been a bit tumultuous. I just haven’t felt good. It’s been a long, drawn-out process and I unfortunately couldn’t just pop back up from it, like some people seem to do. But when it comes down to it, I needed this time to mourn. I needed this time to be sad and angry. I needed this time to self-indulge and not give a you know what about eating right or making sure I got that treadmill workout in. I needed this time to feel all the feels and process everything. But at some point I know I can’t live in this place forever. I have to accept the hand I’m dealt and move forward.

Watching my sweet son and his friends running, giggling and screaming with excitement this past Halloween reminded me that the time to do that is probably now. This baby of mine has already gone from a toddler to a little boy in a short moment’s worth of time. Soon that little boy will turn into a bigger boy and then a tween and then a teen and then before I know it he’ll be leaving the house and then what? It absolutely breaks my heart to think that far ahead. I want to freeze him right here and right now. I feel like I need at least 6 more kids and then maybe by the time the last one leaves I’d actually be okay with it. But that probably won’t be the case. Age and health issues aside, I don’t think my husband would go for that many. So what else is there to do besides be grateful for the life I do have and trust that there’s a plan for me? What else is there to do besides live in the moment and cherish each second I’m given with the family I do have? Not much. And I feel like I’m finally back to being conscientious of that.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I can handle my situation. If we don’t have another child, it won’t be the end of the world. While the dreams I dreamt may not play out like I envisioned, they’ll play out somehow and we’ll be okay. And who knows? Maybe we will be blessed with another child – there is still hope. At the same time though, I never realized the devastation of miscarriage before going through one myself. Selfishly I never understood how it could be so hard to lose someone you’ve never physically met or held. I kick myself now. It’s hard. My heart goes out to all those suffering from miscarriage and infertility issues. Alone I have a handful of friends dealing with similar issues and I’m in awe of their strength. As October was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I guess this post may have been a little more fitting to publish then, but I’m close enough and really we should always be aware. Think twice before you wonder why so and so doesn’t have any kids. Second guess yourself before pushing infertility and miscarriage aside as “not so bad”. Post away on Facebook and Instagram and whatever other social media outlets there are these days – I swear I’m not that old but I can NOT keep up – but be mindful that the 15 pictures posted of your kids every. single. day. might be a little much. Just saying. Reach out. Empathize and sympathize. Hug a sister. I haven’t been through much at all, but this glimpse I had into the world of miscarriage and infertility was enough to completely change my view. It also made me realize that I, myself, haven’t been as supportive as I should have been to those I love – to those who have experienced or are experiencing these issues. I might be one of the least PC people you’ll ever meet and I don’t get offended at much, but at the same time I do believe a little sensitivity can go a long way.

Cheers to November, friends, and to a happy and healthy holiday season. If you’re down and out, give yourself time. But then grasp for that string of hope, knowing there’s a plan for you, and live the life you’re given the best way you know how. Love to all.

Here’s to LIFE

My mom turned 70 in July. SEVENTY. I mean, in all honesty, she makes 70 seem like the new 40, but still. She can’t be seventy yet, can she? Time. Slow. Down. Between that occasion and my baby boy growing into a big boy entirely way too fast and me realizing that I’m not that far from being over the hill myself, I feel caught smack dab in the midst of uncontrollable happenings everywhere I look. Such is life I guess. Some things you can control and some things you can’t, like the movement of time, and in my opinion it can be pretty darn scary. Where did the last 30-something years go? When did someone fast forward through all the commercials? Have I made the most of myself and done enough with my life? Anyone else plagued from time to time with these questions? Anyone else all grown up and still wonder what they’re going to be when they grow up? That’s a big one for me.

I’ve spent a lot of my life, more than I care to admit, striving for perfection while trying to please everyone around me. It’s sad that at 36, I’m just now realizing that both of the above-mentioned tasks (especially when trying to do them hand-in-hand) are beyond impossible. But as sad of a realization as it is, it’s also one of the most freeing realizations I’ve ever had. Period. I no longer feel the need to always have a spotless house, to always cook an extravagant meal, to always finish my To-Do list each day. I no longer feel the need to always attempt to appear as if my life is perfect, to always try really hard to make sure everyone likes me, to always have the next best thing. I no longer feel the need to make unnecessary sacrifices, to always put myself last. Notice my use of the word always – I’m not perfect (who knew)? I still have my moments and honestly I’ll probably ‘always’ have a hard time putting myself first – especially with a husband and a child and others I care about – but I have learned that I can take a step or two forward from time to time.

When I think about all the time I’ve spent, or wasted as I sometimes see it, focusing on these virtually unimportant things, it’s almost enough to make me cringe. I sometimes wonder what I’ve missed while spending time and effort on the wrong things, the things that don’t matter. But knowing you can’t go backwards in life, I’m trying to get it right going forward. Losing my dad three years ago and having a child two years ago, both in their own ways, have forced me to realize how short our time here on Earth really is. You hear sayings about it all the time and everywhere you go – “life is short”, “seize the day”, “YOLO” (“you only live once” for those of you not too hip on your internet lingo). It’s easy to hear these sayings and have a deep thought for approximately three seconds and then go back to your busy, stress-filled day that includes cursing at the slow driver in front of you, getting super annoyed because the grocery store line is way too long, getting impatient with your child because they want your attention when you feel like you have nothing left to give. Or maybe you vow for those three seconds to start living each moment of life to the fullest, but then you go back to wishing for when you have the next best thing, wishing for the weekend, wishing for when you’re 10 pounds lighter.

The point is – life is now. It’s happening whether we “live” it wisely or not. It’s up to us to decide if we’re going to be thankful for each second we’re given. It’s up to us to decide how we spend every hour of every day. It’s tough. Life’s got a lot of stressors, a lot of distractions, a lot of interruptions. Living each moment of life to the fullest, only focusing on the important things, and not letting the annoying things get you down isn’t a change that can be made overnight. It’s a challenge and I fail countless times. But it’s something I’m striving towards each day. I want that mindset to be my new way of living. I don’t want to look back and regret that I spent the day cleaning the house instead of playing outside with my kid. I don’t want to look back and regret that I tried really hard to get someone to like me when they could not have cared any less about me. I don’t want to look back and regret that I let one second go by that could have been spent telling someone I love them. Life’s too short.

Getting back to my mom turning seventy in July – her birthday present from me and my brothers was a huge family trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. A trip filled with moments that she could live in and remember forever rather than another gift card to her favorite store. This blog post was supposed to be devoted to that recent trip out West, but then I realized that in no way, shape or form am I cut out to be a travel blogger. I couldn’t have made it interesting if I tried. I mean we ate at the same pizza place three different times (in six days). We did do some spectacular hikes … but I couldn’t tell you the names of any of them. I can, however, share some pictures.

It was a beautiful, yet exhausting trip. Five AM wake-ups to get to the parks before the rest of the world. Constant moving – whether hiking or driving. We could have easily spent another week out there, but I’ll take the 6 days we had. Happy Birthday to my Mom and may we all live each moment of life to the fullest, whether you’re seventy or twenty. By the way, Wildlife Brewing in Victor, Idaho has amazing pizza 🙂

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Disconnecting

My husband and I took our two year old camping for his very first time over the weekend. We only went for one night and we only ventured about 30 minutes from our home; you know, just in case. I’m not really sure what I thought might happen. He’s a two year old boy and playing outside is pretty much his favorite thing to do. Ever. He’d live outside if you let him, which is sometimes very tempting when you know the tantrum that’s going to follow when he realizes it’s time to come inside. I think I was more concerned about the sleeping since he’s not what you’d call the best sleeper. As to be expected neither of us slept that great. Neither of us as in me and my son. My husband somehow made out ok 🙂

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I grew up loving the great outdoors, as did my husband. Some of my greatest memories from my childhood are the camping trips we’d take with some of my parents’ best friends and their kids, who in turn became some of my best friends. The hiking, the hay rides, the horse rides, the s’mores making … there’s nothing quite like that. Of course we didn’t have cell phones or tablets back then (gasp!), so we were forced to use our imagination to have fun. We did play some board games here and there, but we mostly spent the days fishing or playing hide and seek or finding cool bugs or rock-hopping along the river. I truly feel like those moments helped shape me into the person I am today. It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy, I don’t feel like I’m going to die if I don’t have cell phone service, and I have a vivid imagination that’s always working on something. My husband’s pretty much the same way. We’ve both carried our love for the outdoors with us throughout our adult lives and we hope to instill that same love in our son. Let’s hope it works.

We have one child. We don’t judge other parenting techniques because we don’t know what we’re doing most days, although so far we seem to be doing okay. I think? But really, who are we to judge? I do think we’re both on the same page when it comes to the importance of showing our child that there’s more to life than television and video games and social media. Now don’t worry, I am not getting on a soapbox here. Sesame Street and Thomas the Train make quite a few appearances on our TV (okay let’s be honest, I’m using the word “few” very loosely). We’re also already debating whether or not we should purchase a cheap tablet for our son for our upcoming plane ride to Yellowstone this summer. Furthermore, my husband and I have various social media accounts between the two of us. So no, we don’t avoid all that stuff completely; everything in moderation, right? I have seen some kids (and adults) though that truly seem to be addicted. It seems as if they can’t go anywhere without constant entertainment. I don’t want to raise a kid like that.

I want to raise a kid with an imagination, and I want him to know how to use it. I want to raise a kid who doesn’t need instant gratification with every step that he takes. I want to raise a kid who knows how to communicate appropriately and look others in the eye. I want to raise a kid who doesn’t think he has to have the latest and greatest thing. I want to raise a kid who appreciates the beauty that surrounds him every single day; the beauty of the little things; the beauty of the things outside.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all TV watching, all video game playing, and all internet surfing leads to kids who can’t think for themselves. Can you imagine where us parents would be otherwise??? I’m talking extremes here. It’s when that stuff becomes all that kids know. I think it’s good to take it away from time to time, and not only when they’re being punished. I think it’s important to put a little focus elsewhere, on things that don’t involve screen time. I can only imagine that it must become harder the older that kids get, so I know we’re in for some trials. But I vow to try. I know camping isn’t for everyone, and maybe even the great outdoors in general isn’t for everyone. I get that. But there are countless other activities that can be done without the help of electronics – activities that could lead to a better appreciation of the little things in life. I even hear you can make a mean s’mores on the stove 🙂

So back to that camping trip we took this past weekend. It was awesome. It was amazing to see the bonding that occurred between my son and two other boys he barely knew – bonding over throwing rocks in the lake, playing trucks in the dirt, wrestling in the kids tent. It was great seeing the awe in his eyes when he realized he was sleeping outside with the stars. It was wonderful to see his excitement over eating by the fire. It was so fun to see his sheer delight over throwing sticks in the lake for our dog to fetch. It couldn’t have gone better. Well the sleeping could have gone better, but I’ll take it. Here’s to many more weekends of disconnecting.

 

April Showers

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Yesterday marked the 3-year anniversary of my dad’s death, or deathiversary, as I’ve heard it called. I’m still not sure how I feel about that word. April used to be one of my favorite months, second only to December. Spring time, my husband’s birthday, our anniversary … it was just an all-around amazing month. Ever since my dad died though, April 1st has brought with it a feeling of sadness, dread, loneliness, and guilt. Of course there’s the expected sadness over the fact that my dad is no longer here, but there’s also the sadness that comes along with distinctly remembering him during the final days of his fight with cancer; there’s the dread of imagining how I’m going to feel on that day; there’s the loneliness in feeling that nobody seems to remember your pain; there’s the guilt that comes along with trying to celebrate our wedding anniversary (which happens to be the day before my dad passed away), and then there’s the guilt I feel from never having anything special planned to honor my dad. For three years I’ve felt this way for the entire month of April, but April 17th would come and go with me doing nothing except being sad, and being lonely, and being angry. I would silently mourn, silently grieve, silently stew, trying to hide my feelings for some reason. I hated it. This year I decided to do something about it.

My friend suggested I have an annual dinner honoring my dad – such a simple idea yet so special. Why had I never thought of that? It’s almost like I didn’t want to go there; I didn’t want to acknowledge that I was still hurting and needed something to signify the day of my dad’s death. That same friend also said it’s sad whether you talk about a loved one’s passing or whether you never bring it up again, so why not do the healthy thing and talk about it and bring light to the situation? Her words stuck with me and led me to google ways to honor a deceased loved one. There’s truly a google search for everything.

Among the many ideas I ran across during my googling, someone somewhere said to make a list of things that reminded you of your loved one and try to do some of those things on the anniversary of their death. So I’m thinking to myself – what did dad like to do? Talking came to mind real quick – he was the best at that. But then, gosh, I don’t know. He just enjoyed life. He was up for anything, or most things I should say. He really loved being in the mountains, boating on Lake Chatuge, eating BBQ (especially Colonel Poole’s), checking out Decker’s Flea Market in Murphy, NC, talking politics, listening to music … these were the things I remember him loving to do while surrounded by his family and friends.

I picked a few things and ran. My husband and I stayed in the North Georgia mountains this past weekend to celebrate our 5-year anniversary. We actually stayed at my dad’s cabin in Blue Ridge. I used to hate going there after he died. It just felt wrong. I made sure not to hate it this time. I know he’d be happy to see us using it and celebrating such a momentous occasion. I made sure to keep that in mind all day Saturday and we had a wonderful time. We left Sunday for him. We visited Lake Chatuge where we used to spend countless days boating and where we ended up spreading his ashes. I had a few moments with just me and him, and then we threw flowers in the water. We visited Decker’s Flea Market and although I came home with nothing, my husband found some records. We stopped for lunch at Colonel Poole’s BBQ in Ellijay, GA and even bought our 2 year old a t-shirt. The whole day felt right.

There are a lot of moments in my life where I find myself thinking “man, I wish Dad was here” – finding out I was pregnant, the birth of our son, holidays, whenever I have a question that nobody can seem to answer, and so on and so on. I feel the tears come and the anger set in. But during moments like that I vow to remember that he was here for a lot of good times. I’m thankful that he was around to help raise me. Some kids don’t even get that. I’m thankful that he was around throughout my school days. He always made sure I knew that he was proud. I’m thankful that he was around to teach me how to drive. I’m not sure I could survive Atlanta driving otherwise. I’m thankful that he was around to help me navigate the real world once graduating from college. Who knows where I’d be otherwise. I’m thankful that he was around to walk me down the aisle. I know that’s a true blessing. I’m thankful that he was around to answer each and every question I ever had. And I had a lot.

Is April ever going to come and go without a hint of sadness? No. And it shouldn’t. But what it should do is give me a reason to celebrate my dad’s life. And that’s what I plan to do. Whether we repeat yesterday or experiment with new ways of honoring him is to be determined, but he will be celebrated.

For anyone out there dealing with grief, I by no means claim to have the answer, but I do know that it’s important to grieve. And I do know that I wasn’t grieving in the way I needed to be. I also know it’s important to find a way to honor a passed loved one rather than skipping over that day and providing it no significance. So find something that feels right – start a tradition, give yourself a “you” day, surround yourself with loved ones, do whatever. But make sure you do. Forgetting might seem easier, but remembering, celebrating and honoring feels better.

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Chasing Dreams

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I read an essay the other day on the Design Sponge blog that really hit home for me. It was written by Katelyn Wood and it was all about letting go and chasing your passion. She talked about how the things she truly enjoyed doing as a child (such as baking, writing and creating hand-made cards) ended up taking a backseat throughout her life as she took on various roles such as student, employee, wife, homeowner, mother. One day it finally hit her that her desire to live a creative life had been overshadowed by everything else, and she felt a strong need to fill this creative void in her life. I won’t go into all the details but she started out writing a blog in 2009 and today she is designing and selling American-made stationery and other giftable goods. And the best part is she no longer feels that creative void.

The reason this essay hit home for me is that I, too, had been feeling a creative void in my life. As a child I loved writing, drawing, painting, designing rooms out on paper, crafting, etc. I never stopped loving these things – I simply stopped making time for them. Life got in the way, as it can so easily do. I, too, was busy being a student, employee, wife, homeowner, mother. I didn’t make time for the things I considered a hobby, and a part of me always regretted it in the back of my mind. Finally there came a point where I wasn’t willing to let life get in the way anymore – I was determined to make this creative side of myself a new part of my everyday life (without quitting my day job and without falling short in my other roles in life). So I started this blog in June (thanks to a lot of motivation from a few friends) and so far I have managed to write a post each week, which may not seem like much but I have to admit it makes me happy and a little proud when I hit the “publish” button. I have a few other dreams in my head and ideas up my sleeve as well, but I keep telling myself one step at a time.

Now that the sappy stuff is out of the way we can move on. I’ll share with you a dream of mine that I’ve had for a very long time – I want to buy and restore an old farmhouse (complete with the farm animals). I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than an old farmhouse with good charm and bones that is still standing on this crowded Earth, where people sometimes seem to place more value on the new than on the old. One day hopefully, and my husband has already agreed, we will attempt to do this. He’s also on board with the animal part of it, although I’m not sure he knows quite how many animals I want. I’m thinking some goats, some chickens, a couple alpacas and a cow should do it – a little mini Noah’s Ark if you will. However, back to reality for now – I imagine that if this dream of mine does come true, it will be when we’re older and possibly retired. I’ll need something to do when I no longer have a job to go to anyways 🙂

So in the meantime, I figure I’ll just keep myself busy redoing things inside our current house, in the burbs. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love our house. We have put so much hard work into it and it truly gives us a sense of pride and happiness knowing that together (along with the help of family) we made it ours. I am, however, in the process of trying to get a better “flow” throughout the house. There are a few rooms that need some updating to accomplish this. I like too many styles to have any sort of real true flow, so I’m just trying to get my own flow going on if you know what I mean. A lot of the people I follow on Instagram lean towards a rustic farmhouse style, which always promises a stunning view for the eyes. Looking at all their beautiful pictures makes me question whether or not I want to completely redo our entire house in that style. But then I remember that besides the fact my husband probably wouldn’t be on board with me replacing every single item (including furniture) in our house, I know better than to do that … because I also like eclectic, and mid-century modern, and boho, and so on and so on …

I figure having two rooms in the house with the rustic farmhouse feel should suffice, and I think our kitchen and dining room give off that feel, for the most part at least (see collage below). I am finding it fun to add a few additional farmhouse touches though. Over the past couple of months, I’ve purchased a few goodies from Painted Fox treasures and this weekend I finally found good spots for them. I think each piece does a perfect job of adding a little bit more farmhouse feel to the rooms. PS – Painted Fox is seriously a wonderland for all of you vintage, farmhouse, shabby chic lovers, and they are ALWAYS having sales, so keep your eyes open!

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I originally bought this Farmhouse Lotus Bowl to sit on the bottom shelf of our dining room cabinet, but it ended up being too large. This bowl is seriously big. I’m thinking it works good on the kitchen table (for now at least).

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I had been needing another colander and this Robin’s Egg Blue one quickly caught my eye. It’s too pretty to store in a cabinet, so on the stove it sits (mainly because we have no counter space!)

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I left the vintage milk bottles in the dining room cabinet, but I finally dried some hydrangeas and added them – now it looks complete.

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I’ll be touching up our den and game room/play room over the next few months, so be on the lookout for a series featuring both rooms. I’m doing these rooms on a budget, so there will be minimal changes that I’m hoping will make a big impact and I’ll share each step as I go along. I’m thinking the overall feel of the den will end up being mid-century modern with some industrial, boho & feminine glam touches. What? Can you even do that? Who knows. We’re currently waiting on a new couch to be delivered and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s the little things, you know? As for the game room/play room, I think the theme will be toys, since they are basically beginning to take over the house. I’m hoping to add some adult touches to the room, but I’m a bit wishy-washy at this point as to what those touches will be. I will tell you that I ended up purchasing 4 rugs before deciding on 1 to keep – indecisiveness at it’s finest. Happy Sunday to you & thanks for reading!

If you’re interested in checking out what Painted Fox has to offer (and you should be), follow this link –

https://paintedfoxtreasures.refersion.com/c/a3599

Disconnected in Mouth of Wilson

So my goal to get one blog post out each Sunday or Monday looks like it has met its match – traveling followed up by being sick. I tried with all my might to stay up Monday night once we got back in town to get a post out, but my mind and body just weren’t having it. After a trip to the local Walgreens clinic on Tuesday, a diagnosis of pink eye and a sinus infection made me realize why. However I’m on the mend now, so although I’m a little late here we go ~

My family and I spent an extended 4th of July holiday weekend in Mouth of Wilson, VA (aka the middle of nowhere) … and oh how pretty the middle of nowhere was. If anyone is curious, the town is named so because it’s where the Big Wilson Creek dumps its waters into the New River. And if anyone else is curious as to why we would stay in such a place, well that’s simple – my family likes to make holiday plans last-minute and considering we were searching for a cabin that was 1/2 way between Atlanta and Baltimore exactly 2 weeks before the 4th of July holiday, there wasn’t a whole lot to choose from.

The cabin we ended up renting was amazing though – plenty big enough for 10 people with beautiful views and a trout stream running through the property. I would highly recommend staying there, if you don’t mind being in the middle of nowhere, needing 4WD to get up the incredibly steep (but scenic) driveway, and having absolutely no cell phone service. It was heaven for me, but to be honest I wasn’t sure how my niece and two nephews would take to being “disconnected” from reality – I mean they are teenagers so how would they survive, right? They managed. I think they may have had the most fun out of all of us. Hiking the property, chasing after lizards and turtles, playing in the stream, falling in the stream, catching fish, playing football, etc … a lot of outdoor time was crammed into a few days and I think it did everyone good.

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On Saturday we made our way into the town on Independence, VA (about 10 miles from where we were staying) – supposedly they were having fireworks and we were going to celebrate the 4th. We stumbled upon a Mexican restaurant, and although I was a bit disappointed when my “frozen mango margarita” turned out to be a Bud Light Mang-O-Rita blended with ice, they did have some pretty darn good Mexican food. Unfortunately my 18-month old wasn’t about to stay up until 9:30pm for fireworks so I missed the show, but according to the rest of my family it was phenomenal. I mean the town is called Independence – it’d be a real let down to have a show that wasn’t great – but the town of Independence is like 2 square miles, so we really weren’t sure what to expect. Apparently they did not let down.

Sunday led to even more disconnecting, which meant more outdoor time, more campfires with s’mores, more eating and drinking, more magazine reading, more appreciating and taking in the beauty around us. I felt myself becoming a little sad at the thought of having to leave this heavenly place the next day. I truly felt relaxed on this vacation and I think it had a lot to do with being disconnected.

About an hour into our trip home on Monday, when we finally had cell phone service, my phone started beeping and ringing and buzzing with the voice mails, text messages and FB notifications I had missed over the weekend, and I honestly thought about turning my phone off, for good. How wonderful would it be to not have all the “stuff” that overfills our lives? How wonderful would it be to continue having no clue what was going on in the world? Ahhh … then I snapped back into reality and realized that as wonderful as it was to do without it for 4 days, I did feel a little lost. I came to grips with the fact that my reality includes cell phone service, a Facebook account, an Instagram account, bills, work, stuff, and more stuff – much like most of you out there. I would recommend disconnecting once in a while though. It does a body (and mind) good 🙂