Category Archives: Love & Stuff

Monster

Found this sitting in my drafts folder and decided to publish it tonight. 

 

Dear Twelve,

Today was your first talent show. You’re in 6th grade, almost exactly my height, and you wear tight, tight pants that make your father cringe. You have the body of an 18 year old. You have the wit of an 18 year old. You have zero organization, which is why I’ve been doing your laundry all. freaking. day. It’s also why we hugged you and gushed about your third place win tonight singing “Monster” by Paramore (!!) and then said, “Okay, let’s talk about that math test you forgot to make up.”

You walked right onto that stage and owned it, sister. You were well rehearsed and nailed every note, every lyric. You bounced around and had great energy and we were like, TOTALLY STOKED!! You seriously rocked. Your outfit was perfect and it was just all around completely inspiring. I videoed it for your aunt and uncle that had to miss it- they were so bummed.

While I personally think you were robbed with your third place win (You deserved first, obviously), you took it in stride and the best part was when they announced second place. Yes, when they called your friend Elizabeth’s name for second place, you smiled and laughed and rejoiced for her. And that was the most beautiful part of your performance tonight, Twelve. The fact that you are not putting on any sort of show when you love someone. That’s the real deal and you do it really, really well.

 

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Will You Remember?

I think Five might be a Physical Touch kinda person. And gifts. He LOVES getting gifts, and giving them. Just yesterday I received a leaf he’d plucked from a tree, especially for me, and the day before he found a brown leaf while riding his bike (you know, the crunch, fall looking kind of leaf) and he stopped riding, picked it up, and brought it to me. He’s pretty thoughtful.

But back to physical touch. He loves hugs and chipmunk kisses (and recently we learned about eskimo kisses) and squishing (which maybe I will demonstrate on video for you someday) and cuddling and wrestling and tickling. And since statistically he’s the only Five year old I’ll ever have, I love giving him hugs and kisses and squishing him and all those things, and I think a lot about how lucky I am to get those hugs, his affection.

Yesterday I told Five ‘bye’ and went to hug him before I left…it’s sort of become a ritual that’s morphed over the past year. We used to do “Grand Finale” hugs where I’d hug him and flip him over, and now he’s half my size and I can’t do it anymore. Such a bummer. But we improvise.

Yesterday he didn’t seem to want to let go of me, and when he is still enough to let that happen I just close my eyes and soak it in. Those magical hugs where he relaxes and lays his head on my shoulder. He is so, so quickly becoming an “all boy” little boy, no baby anymore.

I just held him and rocked him and while a thousand thoughts about him and his life raced through my mind, I said, “Five, will you remember this when you’re a teenager? That we had lots of hugs and that you fit in my arms and that we love each other?”

He said, “Yes, and when I’m bigger YOU will fit in MY arms!”

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What happened to September?

Can someone, anyone, please tell me where September went?

I feel like I blinked and now it’s October and I’m getting married like…(counts on fingers)…really freaking soon.

And just to slide right into ways to make you nauseous and completely over reading anything here, let me tell you about why I love Travis.

(Here is where I should list things like his eyes, or how smart he is, and how he’s super funny and great with everyone, but instead I’m going to be selfish and list something that has to do with meeeee! I’m an only child!)

It’s because he really really gets me. Which is good, because somewhere in the September days that raced by, I lost my mind. I got stressed, and scared, and mean, and I kind of possibly blew up all over him about everything that was stressing me and making me scared (and did I mention mean?). And he takes it, and he doesn’t run away or lash out at me,  and he tells me I need to eat something and maybe catch some Zzz’s, and it’ll be better soon. Weirder still, he never holds it against me when I freak out on him, and he is absorbing some qualities I seem to have lost along with my mind, like remembering everything and any sort of organization.

In conclusion (this falls woefully short of essay length, but it felt really darn good then writing ‘in conclusion’, like maybe Mrs. Ostman would be proud of me), I feel very secure that he knows who I really am under all of the crazy that happened in September. So unless he gets hit in the head really hard (or just comes to his senses), there’s a good chance that he’ll still know who I am and love me when all the crazy happens in our years to come (and since we are a blended family, and we own our own business and we travel, the local forecast calls for crazy).

Here’s to you, October. My resolutions for you include not stressing out, and drinking some of your delicious beer while eating oysters. Cheers.

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Wedding List Update

We’ve made a bit of progress on our wedding list. Thank God. Weddings are never quite as easy as you think they’ll be, are they? Lucky for me I have some awesome women (and my man) helping me out! Updates are in blue.

The List

Construct a menu (we’re thinking Chicken and Dumplings [our fave], Gram’s Macaroni and Cheese, Greens, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Cornbread Muffins )Save wine bottles to serve all drinks out of (a la YHL) (drinks are water, sweet tea, un-sweet tea, and sangria)After a meeting with my future MIL, we nailed down the menu, where food is coming from, costs, and who is bringing what. Just figuring all of that out is a huge relief. We also decided to scrap the cupcakes we were going to have for our “wedding cake” and instead bake mini pumpkin and apple pies in mason jars (much more in the theme of the wedding).

Paint the Exterior of the House
– Re-screen the back porch & replace or fix the screen doors
We started on this project and got a few panels completed on the back porch (thanks, Dad!), but this is definitely still a work in progress.
– Add privacy fencing along the front edge of the back yard
After lots of talks about fencing options and what we want for the long haul, we’ve decided to scrap this particular item on the list. Fencing is astronomical these days and our yard is huge and costly to fence (even though we want less than 1/4 of the total yard fenced). This isn’t a necessity for the wedding, so we’re going to watch for deals while planning to skip the fencing.

– Lay a walkway from the back of the house to the Oak Tree
We’re researching the heck out of this. We both love the look of slate stones, particularly in the autumn hue (seen here). Again, this stuff is super expensive and we need roughly 300 square feet to complete the walkway, so we’re still pricing and weighing our options. We thought about buying concrete pavers, laying the path, then staining the concrete a chocolate brown color. We’re still looking, but we’re pretty sure we want to lay out the cash and invest in the walkway (So I don’t walk down to say “I do” in the dirt- although I’m not above that at all).
Plant some trees
– Remove tons (literally, tons) of garbage from previous owners
– Pressure Wash the Shed and the front walkway/driveway
We’re waiting until closer to the big day…
– Pressure Wash the back porch floor
Ditto
– Order my freaking wedding dress from China (what?)
Yay I ordered it! Finally, and I’m cutting it awfully close here. It’s been 11 business days since I placed the order, and the site says it’ll be (usually) 16-23 business days until I receive the dress. Hopefully that puts it coming in NEXT WEEK!! I’m having nightmares that it won’t fit, but hopefully it’s perfect. If not, well, I’ll drop to the floor and cry.
– Figure out how to DIY my invitations
More on this later, but I totally have this under control. I’ve actually had the design done for a long time, but I recently grabbed the textured paper I wanted from JoAnn’s and some envelopes, so now all I need are stamps. This makes it feel very, very real.
– Schedule lawn maintenance week of wedding
We’re waiting until a bit closer to the date to do this
– Schedule mosquito spray (that I snagged for $25 on Groupon) for week of wedding– ditto
– Order the thumb print guestbook I want from Etsy
My awesome future sister in law found a downloadable print just like the guestbook I wanted from Etsy, but this one is 100% FREE! What a score! I’ve got it downloaded, now I need to find some paper and get it printed out and ready for the wedding. I am UBER happy about this find, thanks Emily 1.0!!
– Get the kids’ outfits bought/in line/ordered/ whatever
Progress! We found Eleven a dress that she adores, and we’re narrowing down shoes. I have to wait until closer to the date to get Five’s clothes since he’s growing like a freaking weed all the time. I swear he grows an inch every time I see him. He can reach all of his dresser drawers now (sniffle).
Buy stringed bulb lights for the reception area (our back porch- it’s huge)
Borrow 8′ tables

– Clean, de-label, and re-label all wine bottles for receptions drinks
I am weirdly intimidated by this project (even though I already purchased a huge bottle of goo-gone). I need to get a move on though, time’s ticking.
– Buy fabric to make a huge table cloth/runner
Done! I went to JoAnn’s and used a coupon and got all of the burlap I wanted to do my runners for $20 woooot.
– Construct huge table cloth/runner
Uhhh…this isn’t done yet.
– DIY Flowers/Candle decorations w/ Mason jars
I have all the materials together to make this stuff, I’m planning on using it for centerpieces and decorations all over the place.
Purchase serving ware/eating ware (?) from IKEA – donate what we don’t keep as a tax write off
– Rent chairs for the reception dinner
Oh crap I meant to do this last week! But I ended up being out of town for work. I did call the rental place and find out that I’ll only have to put a $30 deposit down for the chairs, woooot.
– Purchase bales of hay for guests to sit on for the ceremony (the short, short ceremony)
Um, guys, you won’t believe this, but I found someone to DONATE the hay bales. He’s going to let me borrow them for F-R-E-E. I don’t even know how to thank people like that. I mean, how lame is it to give them a gift card? This person is a total stranger, I saw a sign in his yard for hay bales and I called him. I told him I was having a wedding and I needed about 16-17 bales for the ceremony, and he said, “Honey, you can have them!” Have means borrow, but hey that’s the same thing when it comes to money. He’s saving me over $200, and I’m still totally pinching myself.
– Find someone to officiate
Still pretty lost on this one.
– Find a photographer (stressssssful)
Oh. My. Gosh. Travis found me my soulmate of photographers. Her name is Ellie and she. is. amazing. She’s a fellow FSC graduate and she is so sweet. I feel very very fortunate to have her at the wedding (she’s also doing an engagement shoot for us in September!)

So, that’s a lot of progress, right? I’m feeling better about things, and oddly enough, Travis has been so super helpful. It’s not odd that he’s being helpful, he’s always helpful, it’s just that guys don’t usually do wedding stuff, do they? I don’t really know. I do know that I feel pretty lucky. Pretty, and lucky. haha.


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Some Happy Things

In this little blog of life, I talk a lot about home improvement and our crazy ways. Sometimes I think it’s nice to focus on a few other things, and since I am the queen of this particular blog, here are some gratuitous family pictures.

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Me and Five doing some swimming.

There’s been a new development: he is now going underwater and holding his breath.

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And he is all boy.

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Our chalkboard wall is still getting a ton of use.

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Lest you think I am the one doing all that artsy-fartsy stuff, let me blow Travis’ cover and tell you that it’s him.

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My mom had a birthday! We had some delicious food and laughed a lot. I love this picture of them.

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This is my favorite picture of me and Eleven. She is growing into herself, learning about making decisions based on her personal convictions, and learning about relationships. She is way less awkward than I was at her age, and it’s possible that she is less awkward than I am now. She’s starting middle school this month, and she’s going to hear a lot of stuff about life while she’s there. Lots of words that aren’t OK yet, lots of topics that are still uncomfortable. And there is not a doubt in my mind that she is going to be fine.

Also, notice how she’s almost as tall as I am now? That’s a thing. And we officially can’t share shoes anymore. Isn’t there something you can give kids to get them to stop growing so darn fast?

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The Wedding Lister

I was able to finish up TWO WHOLE PROJECTS last week/this weekend, and I really really want to add them to my little “blogary” (that’s a blog-diary, in case you’re wondering), but I my post-paint moments of bliss I totally didn’t take any after pictures (boo hiss, boo hiss).

THAT will be taken care of at my earliest convenience, but right now I wanted to get some stuff out of my head and in writing, and most of that stuff is about the WEDDING (aka, the Fall Event). We call it the Fall Event because way before T and I got engaged, we had talked about getting married in the fall (behind our house in the giant back yard with a pond, gazebo, and gorgeous oak trees), and then his mom’s spidey sense started tingling. She actually said to him one day, “You know, your back yard is the perfect place for a wedding.” Which is really freaky, ’cause that’s exactly what we thought, too.

So then (stay with me here), he knew that she knew, and I knew that he knew, and I knew that she knew, but she wasn’t sure if I knew, so we all just sort of skirted the issue by saying things like, “Oohhh, this would be perfect for a Fall Event, wouldn’t they?” We had a lot the Fall Event planned before the engagement event happened. So yes, the Fall Event is a wedding, but around our family it’s the Fall Event.

Much of our Fall Event inspiration comes from Young House Love (who am I kidding, most of my inspiration in general comes from Sherry and Katie Bower, and I legit had a dream last night that I flew in to visit John and Sherry, but Sherry wasn’t ready for me at her house, so I was hanging out in the airport (weird) with John and Clara (who he wouldn’t let me hold), and the dream ended with me in my Grandparent’s old house shooting down an intruder…awk-ward.) Anyway, if you go see the Petersik wedding links, I am trying to do much of the same thing, without doing exactly the same thing, if you know what I mean. They are frugal and creative and had a downright gorgeous wedding, without breaking the bank.

But having a wedding at your house means lots and lots and lots of prep, so let us take a look at the list.

The List

Paint the Exterior of the House
– Re-screen the back porch & replace or fix the screen doors
– Add privacy fencing along the front edge of the back yard
– Lay a walkway from the back of the house to the Oak Tree
Plant some trees
Remove tons (literally, tons) of garbage from previous owners
– Pressure Wash the Shed and the front walkway/driveway
– Pressure Wash the back porch floor   
– Order my freaking wedding dress from China (what?)
– Figure out how to DIY my invitations  
– Schedule lawn maintenance week of wedding
– Schedule mosquito spray (that I snagged for $25 on Groupon) for week of wedding
– Order the thumb print guestbook I want from Etsy
– Get the kids’ outfits bought/in line/ordered/ whatever
Buy stringed bulb lights for the reception area (our back porch- it’s huge)
Borrow 8′ tables

Construct a menu (we’re thinking Chicken and Dumplings [our fave], Gram’s Macaroni and Cheese, Greens, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Cornbread Muffins )
Save wine bottles to serve all drinks out of (a la YHL) (drinks are water, sweet tea, un-sweet tea, and sangria)
– Clean, de-label, and re-label all wine bottles for receptions drinks
– Buy fabric to make a huge table cloth/runner
– Construct huge table cloth/runner
– DIY Flowers/Candle decorations w/ Mason jars
Purchase serving ware/eating ware (?) from IKEA – donate what we don’t keep as a tax write off
– Rent chairs for the reception dinner
– Purchase bales of hay for guests to sit on for the ceremony (the short, short ceremony)
– Find someone to officiate
– Find a photographer (stressssssful)

Phew. It feels better-ish to get some of that stuff out of my brain and into list format. I hope to add some links into my list as I post about projects we’ve already taken on and things we’re doing now. All this as we run our own business, and look for new work. I. Will. Not. Stress. (anymore. I’m stopping right now. Ok, now.)

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Kickin’ Back

Our neighbor is Miss Lyn, or if you’re Five and you haven’t quite mastered your L’s yet, Miss Wyn. We usually end up calling her Miss Wyn, because it’s adorable and because she is a good sport. She is also generous, because she gives us free reign to use her beautiful screened-in pool anytime we feel the need, which is often lately. It is HOT in Florida this summer. (when is it not hot in Florida in the summer?) Miss Wyn has this awesome chair on her pool patio, and I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I have just as much fun sitting in this chair as I do swimming. Maybe more. Because this is not just any old patio furniture chair (you know those plastic ones that you lean back in and the legs buckle?). No, no friends. Not this chair. This, is an anti-gravity chair.

antigravitybiglots

These chairs are so comfortable. When you sit you can kick your feet up and they let you relax in total comfort, almost as if (you might have guessed) there’s no gravity bearing down on you. So any chance we get to head to the pool, I’ll play with Eleven and Five for a while, then “take a break for a minute” and sit in this chair while I dry off– and usually once I’m in it I can’t. get. out. It is seriously so comfortable I could fall asleep next to a pool full of children screaming about opening up a spaghetti shop (specializing in pool noodles, of course).

Tonight Miss Lyn came down and gave us our first official wedding present. It was in a giant Kohls box, and I knew her magic chair was from Big Lots so I was totally thrown off as to what it was, but then we opened it and the slow motion started, and the pretty music, and lo and behold: it was a gorgeous Sonoma Antigravity chair.

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It is so super comfortable. How sweet is it that Miss Lyn got us this chair? And she thoughtfully gave it to us early so we could enjoy it all summer. We hung out for a few hours and caught up, but as soon as everyone left, Travis and I jumped on kohls.com to see if we could order a matching one so we could sit on our back porch together.

Lucky for us, these chairs are on sale for more than 50% off of the original price. I took a few seconds to google a coupon code for Kohls and sure enough I was able to take an extra 15% off, bringing my cost down to $42.49 for the extra chair (that’s even $7 cheaper than Big Lots). Even with shipping and tax, I paid less than the sale price for the chair. SCORE.

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Gotta find joy where you can in this world, and mine is definitely found in a few moments on the back porch, kickin’ back and listening to the sounds around me. Sometimes you hear kids, sometimes you hear the neighbor’s music blasting while he’s gardening. Sometimes it’s super quiet and all you hear is the wind through the trees. It’s definitely one of those things that feeds my soul. Now I can do it with my favorite chair and my favorite guy, can’t ask for much more.


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