Happy New Year! Our Lifestyle Photo Shoot with Jamie Plack

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This has been quite a year and I didn’t want to close 2016 without documenting it.  Our family has grown in so many ways and we fulfilled a lifelong dream of building our own home.  This blog was started and inspired by that journey.  We are finally feeling settled in and we love it here. ❤

However, it didn’t come without some “growing pains”.  When I look in the rear view mirror it is so easy to see how God worked things out.  I am so thankful for His plan!  And now I have a renewed passion this year to focus on what matters most.  In 2017, I am committed to spending more time together as a family, being present and cherishing the moments.

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The days go by too fast and I want 2017 to include more cuddling, more kissing, more loving on others, more serving, more meals together, more time together…

Our home on Blackberry Trail was not just our dream, but it was what God led us to and what He will use for His glory! It is a place for us to welcome others in, loving like Mary and serving like Martha. It’s a restful place for our family and a space for us to pray, dream, learn and create.

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I want 2017 to include a lot more porch sitting and coffee sipping…dreaming and praying…loving and serving. I hope you will come over! 🙂

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Happy New Year!

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Family Photo Shoot December 2016

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We finally got around to taking family pictures! My friend Jamie Plack started up her photography business again and I couldn’t be happier.  This group of pictures is more traditional.  I went with a neutral color scheme and we used our neighbor’s wood pile for a backdrop.  I always like to think about how a picture would look framed in our house.  I think these will go well with our decor and I love the earthy vibe.

We also did more of a lifestyle photo shoot in our new home, which I will post next.  It was really fun and she did a great job of capturing our personalities.  I love these with Lambeau…

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I’m so glad she took individual shots of the kids.  These are my favorites:

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Aren’t they totes adorbs?!

I can’t believe how much they are growing.  Tommy is towering over me now (evidence in picture below)! What in the world?  My babies are so big.  We ended up using this one for our Christmas card this year.  I loved everyone’s smile and that Beau was sitting like such a good boy. 🙂

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours! ❤

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The Story of Sam

Twelve years and 8 months ago I took a pregnancy test because I felt unusually tired. I knew that the test would be negative because I was still breastfeeding 7 ½ month old Tommy, and it probably wasn’t even possible.  And because God knew we couldn’t handle another baby…

My pregnancy was great.  Maybe it was because my body had just done it and was like “yeah, we got this”.  However, I began to feel the pull of two children needing me.  I vividly remember when my milk dried up and I had to stop nursing Tommy.  I cried and Tommy cried night after night as I weaned him.  The reality started to sink in that we had two babies now.  I felt like I wasn’t enough. And we needed to do more…to be more.

Sam made his appearance three weeks early and entered the world in a hurry.  My labor started around 4pm on October 5th, and by 11pm that night my contractions were getting harder.   We waited as long as we could and finally drove to the hospital.  It was in the middle of the night and my delivery went fast.  Dr. Durecki ran into the delivery room with crazy hair and unbrushed teeth just in time to catch Sammy.  I tell Sam that he was our most beautiful baby and it’s true.  I don’t mean that to be rude to our other two, but Sam was a hunk of burnin’ love and had the smooshiest (yes – it’s a word!) cheeks.  He was a ravenous eater and a great sleeper.

Until about 3 months later.  The next few years are a blur now, but were probably the hardest years of my life.  That same feeling that I had when I saw the two lines on the pregnancy test resurfaced.  I’m not equipped for this.  I feel helpless as his mother.  We struggled to figure out why he was miserable and why we couldn’t take him anywhere and I prayed and journaled, “Dear Lord, why is he never content?”  We had the ear tubes put in and back out and back in.  I stopped eating dairy and whatever else it might be. We read books and got glared at in the grocery store.  We desperately reached out to family and friends and anyone who could help. I started to research about Sensory Processing Disorder.  I wanted to give it a label, but then I didn’t want to give him a label.  I just wanted to be able to say to the lady at the grocery store “He has____ and that is why he is acting like this.”  I struggled with feeling helpless.

Sammy was a spitfire.  He was all gas, no brakes.  He actually had a shirt that said that and since his mom forgot picture day, we have it documented. He craved adventure. He was a stinker and had a classic face as a kid.  He would crinkle up his nose and get a glare in his eye.  But he could never fool me.  He was as sweet as he could be and his blue eyes could melt me almost as much as his sensitive heart. He was so hard to discipline.  He would have us laughing every time. But he grew and he learned and he overcame so many of the struggles he had as a toddler.  And I grew and learned as his mommy.  I learned to be so thankful for the things that made him different.

When he was in Kindergarten, I was away at our WCC women’s retreat and got a call from Jonathan.  The neighbor was turning the corner driving to work and didn’t see Sam.  My son was run over by a car, but was able to come home with only a broken leg.  I was completely undone and the thought of what could have happened haunted me for a long time.  He slept in our bed since it was too hard to carry him up and down every night in his cast.  He would wake up in the middle of the night and start to cry as he realized that he couldn’t walk.  Then we would cry and comfort him.  A few days later I watched Sam tell the neighbor, “I forgive you” as tears ran down my face.  He taught me about forgiveness.  He also taught me about determination.  Jonathan and I watched out the window as his friends ran down the street and he followed about 15 steps behind on crutches with a cast up to his hip.  It didn’t slow him down.

He has grown up unannounced.  I have no idea how he got from 6 to 12 so fast.  But now he is in between kid and man and I don’t even know what to do.  I just keep making him bacon for breakfast.

October 6th is a day to celebrate.  We celebrate Sam for who he is.  God created him so uniquely and gifted him with strength and determination, sensitivity, compassion, intelligence and a great sense of humor. Our lives have been turned upside down since the day he was born, but confetti keeps sprinkling out!  He has brought so much joy and laughter into our home!

It is a day for me to thank God for all of the ways He has revealed himself to me through Sam. From the sleepless nights when he was a baby and I would pray and rock him, to the toddler years when I would put him down for a nap and open my Bible in desperation to hear from God.  From the fear of not being able to understand or help him, to the fear of losing him, to the fear of raising him well…God has always been there.  I’ve been rehearsing this song for worship next week and declaring it as truth: “Never once did you leave us on our own.  Never once did we ever walk alone.  You are faithful, God, you are faithful.”

God’s plans are always greater than ours.  I know He has great plans for Sam.  He has already used him to teach me so much.  God is always enough.  He gives abundantly.  He equips us and gives us strength.  He is our rest.  He is our helper.  He is always with us.  He is alive in the life of my Sammy and shines through him. I love his story and can’t wait to read the next chapter.

Happy Birthday to the best twelve year old in the whole world!

Dish Drawer for the Win!

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Best. Decision. Ever.

I LOVE my dish drawer!!  I am so glad we decided on deeper drawers in our cabinetry to accommodate for things like THIS!  We strategically placed this drawer right across from the dishwasher, so loading and unloading is a breeze!

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This simple thing has made our days so much better.  For realz.  Like, when you’re home and running the dishwasher 2-3 times a day it makes a big difference! I highly recommend the dish drawers for accessibility (especially if you have a lot of short people in your house!) 😉 and convenience.  We are so happy with it!!

***These are our everyday dishes.  They are a thick melamine that looks and feels like glass or ceramic, but is actually a hard plastic and virtually shatterproof.  They are dishwasher safe and clumsy hand safe. We love using them on the porch when it’s nice outside. If you are looking for some great dishes (that also work really well outside) these are on special for a limited time here!  They come in this golden yellow or beautiful teal for the dinner plates and have gorgeous designs with scripture and inspirational sayings on the salad plates, bowls and dessert plates. There are also nested bowls and a large platter that match.***

Puppy Love

We said we were never getting another dog.  We said it would be too much work.  We said it would ruin our new house.  We said we travel too much. We are liars.

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We have been in our house almost three months.  We have pretty much given up on keeping it looking new.  So why not get a puppy?!

We decided not to go anywhere for Spring Break this year to save money for a pool.  We were home for the week and made the decision to get another dog on a whim.  It was completely irresponsible and based on emotion.  We really didn’t think it through much.  And we are so happy with our choice. 🙂

Lambeau (Bo for short) is the sweetest, cuddliest, most adorable puppy.  We are having so much fun with him!  Jonathan mentioned earlier in the week how it just felt like we were missing something.  He was right.  We have always had a dog.  When we brought Lambeau home it totally felt right.  He has already brought so much JOY into our home!  Here are a few pics from the day we picked him up…

My heart has pretty much exploded every day since then.  We are crate training, so we will see how it goes.  We are not very good about following “dog rules” about not letting him on furniture, not feeding him from the table, etc.  We’re gonna try to do it right this time and make dog trainers all over the world proud, but I’m pretty sure he will be spoiled.

How could you not spoil him with this sweet face?

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This is how he watches TV with daddy at night:

🙂 Precious.

We don’t have grass yet, so that’s been interesting. Usually we take him across the street to an empty lot to go potty.  But he loves playing in the back yard.  Giving him baths is pretty easy in our farmhouse sink, so we let him go crazy and play in the dirt sometimes.

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So. In. Love. ❤

Frost Glass Backsplash

If you could see me now, you would see my hands raised!  I’m doing an embarrassing happy dance.  My kids LOVE that.  Especially when I do it in front of their friends.  But here’s the deal = No more white, marked-up walls.  Our backsplash is going in!

Here is the BEFORE pic:

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And here is the AFTER:

We chose a glass 3×8 tile in frost. It is a light grayish color. I am lovin’ it! These are from MLW Stone.  I love how it looks with our white cabinets.  2016-03-01 15.43.22-1

Glass backsplashes have become really popular lately.  I love the look of them, but in my opinion some can look so busy.  I wanted something simple and clean because the kitchen gets cluttered quickly and I didn’t want to have too much going on visually.  I try to keep my countertops clean, but ya know.  I love the look of white subway tile, but wanted a little more contrast against our cabinets.  The tiles match up really well with our SW repose gray paint on the kitchen walls.  I think it makes a big difference in the look of our kitchen!

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Powder Room

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Our powder room was a fun space to design.  Since it is fairly small, I felt like I could be more risky with my choices.  In the end, I love how it turned out!

We purchased the vanity at Green Oak Antiques in Rochester, IN.  Most of our home is very neutral with grays and browns, but I wanted a pop of color so I found this turquoise cabinet and knew it would look great.  We wanted a mix of rustic and glam, so we chose a rectangular vessel sink and this Delta Cassidy Waterfall Faucet in champagne bronze.

I love bringing a touch of gold into our home! I was excited when I saw gold and brass making a bold comeback in design.  I chose a hammered glass light fixture with the same gold around the rim and when we installed it, I was so happy with how it reflected on the walls.  A few people have asked if we had wallpaper because it casts a really neat design around the room. Eventually, I would like to use a textured wallpaper and install some reclaimed shelving above the toilet.

My small gold Mary & Martha nested baskets fit perfectly inside of the cabinet and house our toilet paper, hand towels and other necessities.  I love that we can see the gold baskets through the glass front.

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Island Life

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I live my life right here on this cold, hard slab of marble.  Oh, you thought I meant somewhere tropical?  Ha!  Nope – this is the life for me.  When I am home, this is where I spend 99% of my time.  Ok, well sometimes I sleep…so maybe 75% (ok maybe 50%).  Really, though, this is the heart of our home.  When we were designing our space, I knew I wanted to have an open concept with the island facing the Great Room.  Otherwise, I miss out on being with the rest of my family!  I love that we can have a lot of people over and all be in the same space.  I have always wanted a really big island!  When we were drawing our plans and setting a budget we each decided on one thing that was most important to us in the house.  Jonathan chose the fireplace and I chose the kitchen island! We had to cut cost in other spaces to make it happen, but we are so happy that we did. We designed the island to have seating on two sides so it’s more conversational.  We have six chairs all together.  We eat many meals here.  Also, if we have a lot of people over it acts as a buffet or overflow for kids seating.

I debated about whether or not I wanted our sink in the island. In our original plan, the sink was in the corner overlooking the back yard.  We played around with that design for a long time and just couldn’t get it to work right with the position of the cabinets and other appliances.  I was worried about having the mess of dirty dishes on the island, but I am really happy with how it has turned out.  With the island being large (112″ x  74″ and the sink being large (39.5″), it gives lots of space for dishes or food prep, and I can keep the rest of the island clean for serving.

Btw…our bridge faucet is by Elkay and we chose it because it has the farmhouse look that we like, but also has the pull-down sprayer.  I don’t think I could function with my farmhouse sink if I didn’t have the sprayer!  I need it to wash out all of the corners.

We love spending time here and I don’t regret at all making this island this large.  It functions really well for our family.

Oh! One more fun thing…we were having a hard time figuring out where to put our microwave.  Most of my smaller appliances are in the pantry.  We have a countertop in there with the toaster, mixer, coffeepot, etc.  I didn’t know if we wanted the microwave in there, though.  It seemed like it might be a pain to not have it central when I’m prepping meals.  We started looking and found a microwave drawer by Sharp that we liked, so we decided to have it installed in the island.  We love it and the kids love that it is so easy to reach! Plus, it’s fun to open and shut the drawer. 😉

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Table Talk

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“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” ~ Ronald Reagan

The Dining Room table is an important piece of furniture.  It seems like some of our greatest memories are made when we are gathered here.  I really enjoy cooking and sharing my love with family and friends with a nice meal.  My favorite thing, though, is when we linger afterward.  That is when great conversation happens.

We knew we would probably need to have a table made because we wanted to be able to fit around 12 people.  I saw a style that I loved in Restoration Hardware.  I really wanted a pedestal table so we could fit more chairs around it.  Our cabinet guys had built these beautiful legs and John at Green Oak Antiques used them to finish the table.  We made it 10′ x 4.5′.  It is a beast. He slightly distressed it using a machete and some other tools. We chose a dark stain to contrast the color of our floors.

When they were moving it in the house, it barely fit around the corners, but it ended up being perfect in the space.  I love how we can sit at the table and either look at the fireplace or look out the windows and have the fireplace warmth on our backs.

I had fun unpacking some of my table linens and setting the table.  My grandma passed down some old Irish linens that looked so pretty layered with my burlap placemats.

I found the chairs on Wayfair at a great price (and yes – I did scotch guard them!;)) Most days, we leave the table set with eight chairs, but when we have company it’s easy to pull up the others.  When we ordered our kitchen island, I had them save a few remnants of the marble and I use them on our table as decoration and as trivets.

By the way, you can find that beautiful lazy susan on the table here. 😉

 

Moving Week

One of the benefits of living with my parents and moving to an empty home is that we can move in gradually.  There are still a lot of little things that need to be finished, but we are officially moving in this week!  It seems so unreal.  We have spent a few nights over at the house hanging light fixtures and cleaning.  It has been so exciting to see our space come together!

I started putting some snacks and drinks in the fridge and pantry and peeling off the endless appliance stickers.

Lainey has spent a lot of time in her room.  She is so excited and it’s fun to see. 🙂

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The boys couldn’t wait to play PS4 on the new TV (which will eventually be mounted on the wall)…

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It was getting late, so the kids brought over bean bags and watched a movie while Jonathan and I finished up.  I’m glad they look comfy since we may not be able to afford any other furniture. 😉

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We brought our bed over on Friday night so we could sleep in the house.  The kids all brought bedding and slept in their rooms.  It was such a great feeling to finally be sleeping here!

Then Saturday morning we woke up early and started moving everything else!  Here’s what it looked like mid-day…

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It will take awhile to figure out where everything will go.  I think that’s one of the hardest things.  It takes so much time to figure out a house!  Even after all of our planning and thinking about where we would put furniture, etc., you never really know until you live in a space.  I’m sure we will move things around quite a few times before it feels right.

Apparently I have a lot of dishes.  Most of my day was spent unpacking and washing dishes. We learned that if you are ever putting your things in storage for over a year to make sure that it’s climate controlled. 😦 I had to wash EVERYTHING and throw away a few things that were broken from the climate change or moldy (eeewwwww!!!).  We were so thankful to friends and family who helped!

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We decided to keep most of our boxes in the garage and gradually move them in one box at a time.  It made the process seem a lot longer, but helped me to keep my sanity.  I get a little cranky when I see stuff everywhere. 😉 I wanted to be a nice wife and mom this week.  By Tuesday, we had unpacked most of the necessary things and were able to relax into our home a little bit.  Ahhh….

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I’m looking forward to morning coffee in this spot, praying and dreaming about God’s plans for this home.