the kitchen redo: part 2

I’m back today to show you the progress I’ve made in the kitchen. This room is looking so amazing, and here is where we are so far!

IMG_9743Talk about feeling like a whole new room! The space is so much brighter and feels so much bigger than before. And this is just “phase one” of the whole project, I’ve got lots of new things coming up in the near future. One of the first things we need to tackle is the floor. This sheet vinyl has most definitely seen better days, and it’s time to replace it. The seam behind the kitchen table is starting to pucker and peel up, there are chunks missing from where a glass dish exploded on top of the stove and melted the floor away, and there are a thousand little “dimples” in the floor that are permanently dirty – I’ve tried every floor cleaning product and steam mop, all to no avail. We’re still not quite sure what we’re going to put in here; we’re definitely not doing wood floors in here, since it would be so hard to match it to the original hardwoods throughout the rest of the house. We’ve played with cork flooring samples, but we aren’t sure how that would look butting up next to the existing hardwoods in the front room and hallway, and then transitioning to the carpet in the living room. The biggest contender at this point is just to do new vinyl flooring. Sheet vinyl would be the easiest option, since this room is so large, but I haven’t been too pleased with the selections available to us, everything we’ve looked at so far is either too dark or too orange looking. Vinyl squares would be a lot more time consuming to install, but there is a much wider range of colors and finishes to choose from, if we go that route. I really like the look of this Dolomite sheet vinyl from Lowes, since I’m wanting to keep the flooring a lighter color, close to what we have now. I also need to buy new area rugs for under the table and the area by the sink, but I think I’m going to wait until we get the new flooring installed before I decide. I wanted a burnt orange colored rug, but I also don’t want it to clash with the flooring, so I’ll just try to be patient. Easier said than done 🙂

IMG_9741Next up, we need some pantry space. We have zero established food storage in this kitchen, so we’ve been using the lazy susan for canned goods and grains, the tall brown drawers to the left of the fridge for baking goods and other miscellaneous stuff, and the kitchen island and bakers rack for bread, snacks, produce, etc. We were originally going to buy tall and deep pantry cabinets and an upper cabinet to build in the refrigerator, but after staring at that corner to left of the fridge (for what seems like years), I think we’ve decided to just frame in and build an actual pantry closet in the corner. I don’t know why I haven’t thought of this before, but there is ample room in that corner to have a full blown pantry built in, and I am super excited to get started on that now! Once we get the pantry built and relocate the food, the pots and pans will be stored in the lazy susan next to the range, and I can FINALLY take down that pot rack! I can’t tell you how many times I have banged my head into the hanging pans while trying to prep meals on that counter. It’s also really hard to see and talk to people sitting at the table with all those pots and pans hanging in the way! Another benefit will be adding a light above the counter, since the only real work light we have is on the ceiling fan. And when it’s dark in the kitchen and you’re trying to chop veggies on the counter, your body blocks all the light from the fan and you chop fingers off can’t see what you’re doing! I ran across this light on Painted Fox Treasures, and I knew as soon as I saw it that it would make an appearance in our kitchen. My style has evolved over the years and now I’m feeling like a kind of modern or industrial farmhouse, so that trough light will be the perfect addition to the space! And I know some people hate ceiling fans, but we are definitely keeping ours. We have four fans in our house and they get used all the time. I might pick a new one and replace the whole thing, or I might just replace the bulb covers on it, I haven’t decided yet. Part of me wants to replace it with something that has an oil rubbed bronze finish, since I brought that tone in with the cabinet hardware and potentially with the pendant above the sink; but another part of me doesn’t feel like putting a whole new fixture up there. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

IMG_9740Once we have the pantry built, the fridge will have to scoot down the wall about two feet. After we get all the food and miscellaneous junk moved into the pantry, we’ll really have no need for the kitchen island and bakers rack, so they will be history! I’m pretty sure that bakers rack is actually a death trap in the making, and now that M has discovered that he can climb up the shelves, it is definitely time for it to go! I’m currently on the hunt for an awesome, old sideboard or buffet to put there on the wall, to help store our larger serving dishes and things we don’t use as often. And if I can’t find one that I like to refinish, I might just get adventurous enough to build this one, from Ana White. It’s freaking awesome, provides so much concealed storage, and I’ve been wanting to tackle a bigger building project, ever since I finished the board and batten in the entryway.

IMG_9739(Random thought: Can you see the chunks of floor that were melted in this picture above? It drives me crazy!)

I’ve been struggling with trying to decide what to put on this wall. Originally, we had some small art prints hanging here, but they were so small compared to how large this wall space really is. I had mentioned how fun M’s chalkboard is in this post about the gallery wall, and now I have officially decided to do a HUGE chalkboard on this wall! I have so many ideas for decorating it and there are endless possibilities for a chalkboard in the kitchen, especially when we entertain so much! I’m still searching the wide world of the internet – and pinterest – for ideas for a new light fixture above the dining table. I want to find something that will fit just right in this space, so I think I’ll wait until we get the new pendant above the sink and the awesome island light installed, so I can get a feel for what will flow well with everything else in the space. The ceiling also needs to be repainted, and there is a patch of ceiling plaster that has cracked and crumbled from old water damage up in the attic. But since we’ll be hanging all new light fixtures and patching holes in the ceiling, I figure I’ll just do all the ceiling work all at once. The last thing on the list in this area is a new rug for under the table, it just looks so naked without one!

IMG_9748One thing we absolutely need, and use the most, is eating space! Whenever we have a get together for a birthday, holiday, or just because, people always seem to congregate in the kitchen, whether they’re helping to cook, or just hanging out, talking with everyone else. We’re always maxed out on table and counter space for people to eat at, and we definitely don’t have room for everyone when we have Thanksgiving or Christmas at our house. I’ve found an amazing extendable table at IKEA, and I absolutely love how easy it is to expand it to fit more people. But I also ran across this tutorial for building an extendable, Restoration Hardware knockoff table, and I love the way it looks! I’m also on the hunt for some new counter stools, and I’m thinking of adding four this time, instead of just the three, since we have room at the end to slide another stool under there.

IMG_9749This little corner shelf turned out so cute! I had originally wanted to rip it out, since we didn’t use it for much and it got in the way of seating when we have a lot of people over. But after G suggested I paint the inside white, instead of the same cabinet color, it pops so much more, and I’ve finally found a good use for it! I used to keep my cookbooks on the bookshelves in the front room, but they fit perfectly here, and it’s so much easier to grab one while I’m in the midst of cooking dinner! Don’t mind the mason jars full of Easter candy, those aren’t there anymore. And I love having a place to keep some of my favorite pieces in the kitchen.

So that’s where we are so far! The to-do list is still a mile long, but we are getting there and making a lot of progress!

Kitchen To-Do List:

  • fill and sand walls
  • paint walls
  • fill and sand trim
  • paint trim
  • patch ceiling
  • paint ceiling
  • paint paneling
  • new windows
  • new ORB door hardware
  • new flooring
  • rug for sink area
  • rug for table area
  • paint upper cabinets
  • paint lower cabinets
  • paint corner shelf
  • replace or refinish counters
  • new sink faucet
  • large chalkboard
  • build pantry
  • tile backsplash
  • new dining table
  • new dining chairs
  • new counter stools
  • remove potrack
  • pendant light above sink
  • island light above counter
  • light above table
  • under cabinet lighting?
  • new fridge
  • new range
  • new ORB cabinet hardware
  • replace ceiling fan?
  • sideboard or buffet

the kitchen redo: part 1

The kitchen redo #2 is underway! We have struggled for quite some time with our kitchen. We weren’t quite sure what we wanted to do in there, and I wanted to take my time and figure out a good plan, since it’s literally the heart of our home. We entertain on a regular basis, so we always have a packed house and the kitchen is usually always full of people prepping meals or cooking, or just sitting at the counter watching and hanging out. Before M was born, I decided I had had enough of the fleshy toned cabinets, red walls, and wood paneling on the dining side of the room, so I set out to change it up a little bit. Here is what we started out with:

IMG_1593 IMG_1594IMG_1596 There actually used to be a window where the french doors are now, but when we built our huge, awesome deck, we added the doors there so we could easily get from the kitchen to the lower end of the deck where the grill is. I love those doors, we use them all the time, and I love how much more light they let into the kitchen. We I thought if we painted the cabinets a dark brown, it would give the same feel of some gorgeous dark stained wood cabinets. Boy was I wrong (don’t judge me, this was before I actually knew what I was doing when it comes to decorating). We picked out a color based on a paint sample – I know, shame on me – and it ended up going on not just dark brown, but it was almost black. I hated the color as soon as I started rolling it on, but we had already bought a gallon of paint and I wasn’t about to stop. I thought that maybe if we lived with the dark cabinets for a while that the color would grow on me. It didn’t. I hated it from day one, and I hated it for two years until I finally figured out what the heck to do in this room.

IMG_1653IMG_1651The darkness of the cabinets, combined with the dark red walls, really made the kitchen feel so dark and tiny. I started racking my brain trying to figure out how to undo my huge painting mistake. But I didn’t want to just rush into it and make do with something I didn’t really love, simply to get rid of all the darkness. I wanted to really think it out, and sort of plan our “dream kitchen”, without having to drop over ten grand into a whole entire kitchen renovation. Our kitchen was super functional, the cabinets and layout worked great for us, so we didn’t really need to buy anything new, except for a new range (and hopefully a gas range, this time). I just needed to figure out a color scheme that would not only lighten up the space, but would flow well with the other rooms, especially since our kitchen is right smack dab in the middle of the house and we spend so much time in here. I felt a little better after I painted the paneling, just like I did in the hallway. The bright white definitely helped lighten things up a little bit, and that gave me a good starting point for the rest of the room.

IMG_1654So here we are, a few years later, and after living with our little “cave” of a kitchen, I think I’ve finally got it figured out! I had seen an amazing kitchen in one of the Lowes Creative Ideas issues, and I absolutely fell in love with it.

The layout was exactly the same as our kitchen, and the colors were absolutely perfect! I tore the pages out, hung them up on the side of one of the cabinets, and planned our new kitchen from there. I got the go ahead from G, and headed out to Lowes to get some paint samples. I didn’t really pay attention to the colors listed in the article, I just went a grabbed 6 test pots of colors that were similar. You’re probably going to think I’m crazy, but I totally think this kitchen was meant to be. I decided on a color for the lower cabinets based on the samples I had painted on them, and the wall color was one that we had leftover from the guest bedroom/office. And you know what? They were the exact colors listed in the article, and I didn’t even know it until after I had painted them! The upper cabs got three coats of Valspar Ultra White and the lower cabs got three coats of Valspar Secluded Garden. I am so totally in love with my cabinets now! And I think that having the two different colors adds more character to the space, and the bright white upper cabinets help the area feel more open and draw your eye up, so you don’t feel like you’re in a cave! After priming the walls, they got one coat of Valspar Churchill Hotel Wheat, and I think the wall color alone made the biggest impact in the room. Our kitchen feels about three times bigger now!

Here is the direction I’m going with for the kitchen:

OB-KitchenThe cabinets are already painted, the walls are done, and we are moving right along with the plan! We’ve already purchased the new gas range, but the poor thing is still sitting all wrapped up in the garage. Our old range was a slide-in, and the new one is a freestanding range, so we’re going to have to cut out a few sections of the cabinets on that side to make room for the new one. That and the floor definitely needs to be replaced, so we’ve got to tackle that project first. The last major thing that needs to happen is some sort of pantry storage. I was initially thinking of buying two tall pantry cabinets to frame in the refrigerator with, since we don’t have any pantry space at all. But the more I look at that corner of the kitchen by the fridge, the more I think we’re going to just frame out and build a whole corner pantry closet, instead of doing just cabinets. Because the pantry cabinets are so deep, it’s easy to lose things in the back and not be able to see what all you have. I think we’ll be able to better maximize our storage space with shelves running along the walls inside of the pantry, since we can make them shorter than the cabinet shelves. I still need to find the right pendant light for above the sink, but I’m thinking something like this bronze one. Once we figure out what we’re doing with the pantry space, I’m going to get rid of the pot rack and hang a pretty island light, like this one from Painted Fox Treasures. We’re still not sure what we’re going to do with the counter tops, but they are either going to get replaced or resurfaced. And that’s about it! I’ll be back tomorrow with pictures of our kitchen progress so far, so stay tuned!

a brighter and more functional entry…

IMG_9719I wanted to get some updated pictures of the living room taken today, but it’s really overcast and dark inside, so I don’t think that’s going to happen today. Besides, there is currently a whole town consisting of ten Little People sets, Batman’s Bat Cave, and Joker’s Fun House spread ALL.OVER.THE.LIVING.ROOM.FLOOR. and I’m just too lazy to clean it up right now, just to take pictures. #atleastimhonestwithyou

Anywho, I did take the time to snap some pictures of our new entryway! A few months ago, we had all new windows and doors put in throughout the whole house. And boy, do I freaking LOVE my new front door! Our old door was solid wood with a teeny tiny square window in the top, and it made this entry feel so small and gloomy.

IMG_1590I specifically chose a door that would let in more light, and I am so glad that I did! And then one sad, fateful day, our coat rack fell out of the wall. And I’m talking screws, anchors, everything came out of the wall. I suppose I should have seen it coming, we only had about fifteen thousand jackets, coats, hats and scarves hanging off of it. Another small problem is that our “coat closet” is kind of like a back-up master closet and currently holds all of our sweatshirts, sweaters, hoodies, snow gear, etc, along with some other junk like our suitcases, a picnic set and the old pack and play. So since there is absolutely no more hanging space in the closet, all of our fifteen thousand jackets, coats, hats and scarves got tossed on the coat rack. Poor guy, he couldn’t handle our abuse and just gave up. And it’s not like M could even reach the hooks, so his jackets would always get thrown on the floor.

I have been pinning board and batten entryways for a while now, and it’s always been something that I wanted to do by the front door “someday”. And when our sad little coat rack finally fell out of the wall, I thought why not now? This was my first DIY project involving power tools that I essentially did all by myself. I measured everything, I made all the cuts on the saw, I nailed everything in, all by myself! I was pretty proud! I did have to have G help me get the shelf installed, and he did the caulking before the final coat of paint, but most of this project was all me, and it was sooo easy!

I started out by drawing out what I wanted the end result to look like.

IMG_20150131_135306244I made a trip to Lowes to pick up lumber, wood filler, hooks and a tube of caulk. I began by ripping out the base boards and quarter round, then filled and sanded the rest of the walls.

IMG_20150131_141020302I used 1x6s for the larger boards, and 1x3s for the smaller boards. The 1x6s went up first; the two on the outside of it all were the first boards that were measured, cut, and installed, and then I measured for the three boards that went between those. The horizontal 1x6s are the boards that we put the hooks on, so after they were glued and nailed to the wall, they got a couple screws each, into the studs, for extra strength. After all the 1x6s were up, I measured, cut, and installed all the 1x3s.

IMG_20150131_173026598Then came the fun task of filling holes and gaps. I used Elmer’s Color Change Wood Filler, and did a total of three layers and sanding in-between. G helped me get the shelf supports and the shelf itself installed, then the whole thing got two coats of primer, and three coats of Valspar Bright White paint in a gloss finish. After the first two coats of paint, G came back in and caulked the inside of all the inset panels, and above and below the shelf. Then the final coat of paint went on, and it was time to screw in the hooks!

IMG_20150209_105253168_HDRI just bought some simple hooks that were in stock at Lowes in an oil rubbed bronze finish. The bigger ones are these, and the smaller ones are these. After figuring out the spacing of the hooks, I screwed them into the 1x6s, and that was it! We absolutely love our new entryway, and it is so much more functional (and prettier) than before! I think the one thing I love the most is that M can reach his own hooks now, so his coats and backpack actually get hung up now, instead of just being thrown on the floor! For being a simple, weekend project, this has totally transformed our front entry, and it is so much brighter in there now! There were a few finishing touches I added to the space, including the artwork up on top of the shelf. All of the prints were free printables I had found on Pinterest, and the frames were just random things I had grabbed from around the house. I found a cute little rug on clearance for 6 bucks at Target but it was too thick for the door to open over, so I went back and got this little navy one instead. I sprayed the closet door hinges and knob with Rust-Oleum Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint, since I’m planning on updating all of our door hardware to an ORB finish. I still need to add a small trim piece of both sides of the board and batten, but other than that, it’s finished and we’ve filled the hooks!

IMG_20150211_093633252_HDRThe walls were primed and then painted with some of our leftover paint from the living room, Target’s Devine Color in Horizon. The ceiling will eventually get a fresh coat of paint as well, but I’m still looking for the right light to hang up there, and I might as well do all the ceiling work at once! So I’ve got a light on my shopping list, new ORB hardware for the front door, and I’m also looking for a pretty little boot tray to put down there on the ground, to catch all of our wet and muddy shoes.

IMG_9717IMG_9728IMG_9725IMG_9730

How about you, do you have a functional entryway or is it in need of some help? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

gallery wall down the hallway…

IMG_9701The first real “project” I did in our house was painting the paneling down the hallway. I guess, technically, M’s nursery was the first, but that was more of a necessity, not just a redecorating project, since we had to convert the home office into his space. This hallway was lined with some awful 70’s laminate paneling, which unfortunately wrapped all the way around into the kitchen, and it simply had to go!

IMG_20110218_174946Don’t mind the cat, she was exploring. And although it’s terrible photo quality, this was the only picture I could find of the hallway before I started in on it! All the paneling got a quick wipe down, I filled all of the nail holes from when it was installed, sanded it smooth and gave it two coats of primer (Kilz Premium to the rescue, it’s the only primer I use now!) and three coats of Valspar’s Bright White paint in semi-gloss. This was the first real project I had done that helped me realize the power in a simple coat of paint. I can’t believe how much brighter and wider the space looks now! The walls got a fresh coat of paint, Valspar’s Lyndhurst Stone in eggshell. This wall runs all the way down into the kitchen with no separation point, so we kept the same neutral base to it, since we hadn’t made plans for the kitchen yet.

IMG_9706A few of the frames were old ones that I had grabbed from around the house, but the majority of them came from Ikea, along with that awesome mirror at the end of the hall. I had originally planned on doing white frames to mesh with the new white trim, but ultimately decided the black frames had more of a pop to them, and I don’t regret it for a second! Every time we head to Chicago to see family, we stop by Ikea and grab a few more frames. Maybe one of these days I’ll have the walls completely filled. And maybe one of these days I’ll finally get the hardwood floors refinished…

IMG_9708 IMG_9710After living with the gallery wall for a while, I had been perusing Pinterest when I came across a picture of a chalkboard wall outside a kid’s bedroom.

I loved it so much, I decided to recreate it outside of M’s room. It was a fairly easy project, I’d say the most time consuming part was filling all of the seams from the paneling. I just turned on some music one afternoon, sat down on the floor with a tub of wood filler and just used my finger to smear the filler on and fill all of the grooves. After it was dry, I got the best arm workout of my life and sanded it all by hand. I gave it another coat of primer to cover up the gloss finish and give the chalkboard paint something to stick to, and then applied four thin, even coats of chalkboard paint. The can recommends letting it cure for at least 24 hours, so I gave it two days before priming the board with chalk. And the rest is history! M loves his chalkboard wall, he draws on it all the time. And we love to decorate it for the holiday! He had so much fun with it this past Christmas. I drew a giant Christmas tree shape on there and let him go to town “decorating” it. After seeing how much fun this chalkboard wall is, I’m starting to think about making a huge chalkboard to hang on the big, empty wall in the kitchen. Oh the possibilities!

where to begin…

I’ve been struggling lately trying to find the words to explain myself. To myself. Has that ever happened to you? You get so stressed out, so many things piled on top of your already too-full plate, and you just can’t even process it all with yourself? And then someone asks how you are doing, and you just don’t know where to begin? That’s where I’m at right now. I have endured extreme amounts of stress in the last several months, the whole last year pretty much, and I’m just at a point where I don’t know how to process it all. There are some nights that I just lay in bed, trying desperately to just turn off my brain and go to sleep, but instead I just stare at the ceiling for hours, thinking about everything. It’s exhausting.

Life is hard. I’m not trying to whine or complain, just a simple observation that has been handed to me quite rudely and unexpectedly lately. Being an adult is hard. Parenting is hard. Being a good wife is hard work, too. So many bad things have happened this past year, rude wake up calls to tell me to get my head out of the clouds, quit wasting my life away and just get my shit together, already!

We found out at the beginning of last year that my father in law had a mass in his brain, and it wasn’t looking to good. Results came back and he was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, the doctors gave him about 18 months to live. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a highly malignant form of cancer that can be very difficult to treat because it contains so many different types of cells, and is pretty much a fatal diagnosis. Radiation and oral chemotherapy was started, and we saw some great shrinkage of the tumor. Life felt like it was getting better, and he had responded so well to the treatment, hardly any side effects! Towards the end of last year, the scan revealed that the tumor was no longer ‘under arrest’ and IV chemo was started shortly after. But great news! The IV chemo had kicked some major tumor butt, and the doctors considered his cancer to be in a type of “remission”. We had a fabulous Christmas, and we so enjoyed our time together, but right before New Year’s, he began to feel not so well, lightheaded and dizzy, slightly nauseous, and fell at home. We took him to the ER to get checked out, they determined everything was fine, his heart rate was fine, labs came back all within normal limits, so we were sent home. A week later, the same symptoms popped up again, but this time it was serious. An ambulance was sent out to the house, but it was too late. He suffered a major cardiac event, a massive heart attack, and was gone before the ambulance even got there. It was all just so unexpected, because he had responded so well to the IV chemo, and the tumor had been deemed “under arrest” again. But the problem had been with where the tumor was located. It had been pressing on his brain stem for so long, his heart had to work harder to pump enough blood up to his brain, and it simply couldn’t do it anymore. He put up a brave fight, was always in a cheerful mood when we saw him, and was always just so happy to have us around, despite everything he was going through. It was a tough way to start the New Year, and it’s been rough ever since. The world lost one of the greatest men I have ever known that day, and there will forever be a empty space in our hearts and lives that he once filled. That was probably one of the hardest things we’ve been through lately.

I know that everyone always says this, when someone passes unexpectedly, but it really does remind you about how short life is. If only we could remember that on a daily basis, and always be aware how fleeting life is. To spend more quality time with your loved ones, not just because you recently lost someone, but just because. Because you enjoy their company, because they mean the world to you, because they may be going through something and they might just need you to sit with them for a while, even if you don’t say a word. To be more present in our loved ones’ lives. That’s been my struggle lately.

Back in November, I had an accident and broke my jaw. It didn’t really hurt that bad, but having your jaw wired shut for 7 weeks and not being able to EAT anything kind of sucks. I mean yeah, being on a liquid diet helped me drop a few more pounds a little bit quicker, but it sucked. I mean, there were nights that I would literally CRY while making dinner for the fam, because I knew that they would be eating this delicious meal, and I would be stuck drinking potato soup. Water thin potato soup. It’s basically what I lived on for those 7 weeks, potato soup, protein shakes, and unhealthy amounts of coffee. Obviously, I wasn’t able to work during that time, it’s kind of hard to talk to your patients (most of which have trouble hearing anyways) or have to give CPR to someone when you have to talk through your teeth. But I ended up actually enjoying my time at home. I know what you’re thinking, most people would love to have a reason to not go to work, but I’ve never really been one of those people. I started working when I was 15, and I worked full time hours while finishing high school. I’ve always wanted to be a mom (and my sweet baby boy helped me get there) but I never thought I could handle being a stay at home mom. But after Mason got used to the fact that I talked through my teeth all the time (with my jaw wired shut, not all the time 🙂  ) and that I wasn’t mad at him every time I said something, we started to actually enjoy our days, instead of dreading each morning and wondering what kind of day today was going to be. Sure, there were days that we were stir crazy from being cooped up inside all day and we started to get on each others’ nerves, but we were having so. much. fun. together.

And then I realized something. I haven’t been present in my child’s life, for the last 3 years. I mean yeah, I was there, but I wasn’t actually present. I started working at the hospital when Mason was about 6 months old. And when I was working full time hours, I was working three 12 hour shifts a week. You may be thinking, but you were only working three days a week, you had the other four days to be home and do whatever! Which is true, but have you ever worked a 12 hour shift? They are long, and exhausting, and did I mention long? Not to mention the fact that I had to be at work at 7 am, so that means had to be up and ready by then. And I am most certainly not a “get up and go” kind of person. I need at least an hour to wake up, and you better not try to talk to me before I get my first cup of coffee down. So I was getting up between 4 and 6 am, to get ready to work a long 12 hour shift, and then I didn’t get home until right before 8 pm. That’s one hell of a day, and then add to that, that sometimes I worked two or three days in a row. It’s exhausting just thinking about it. So, I loved the idea of only working three days a week, and having the other four to be at home with my boy and plan all this fun stuff to do, but that just was not the reality. After working two or three 12 hour shifts in a row, it took me at least one day to recover. I was just so tired. I didn’t feel like doing anything that first day off. And then there was laundry and house keeping that needed to be caught up on, on top of Mason wanting and needing my attention, and not to mention things that wanted to do and get done, for myself, it just ended up being exhausting being at home, too, sometimes. And I got into this funk. In all honesty, I think it was depression, but I just got into this funk where I didn’t want to do anything, I didn’t have the motivation or energy to do anything. The laundry would pile up, and we’d start to run out of clean underwear before I would finally get some tiny little smidgen of motivation to just do it already. And I couldn’t handle Mason’s toddler attitude or the twenty thousand questions he had for me, before I had a chance to even fully wake up. So I would just turn on some cartoons for him, pop him in front of the TV with some apple juice and animal crackers, then go hide in my bed and read. That was all I could do. I was beginning to feel like I was drowning, and I didn’t know why. But now? We do so much more together. We play together, we build forts together, we build Little People towns and get all the cars and trucks out. We do crafts and color and paint and he helps me bake treats and cook dinner. I can actually remember things so much better. I can remember all the funny things he says, all the silly things he does and shows me, especially all his crazy awesome dance moves. I remember all the wonderful creations he has made me out of stickers and legos and paints. I don’t remember that stuff from the last three years. I mean sure, I have pictures to remind myself of the big stuff, important events and a few smaller, sweet moments. But I don’t remember them like I do now. I wasn’t focused on him then, I always had cleaning or laundry or something to do, or I had my face buried in my phone, reading or on facebook or pinterest, or some other useless time-suck, and I didn’t see the awesome somersault he just did. I wasn’t listening when he told me that his belly hurt or that he had a great time at the park with Cynthia, or that he loved me so much. I simply wasn’t present in his life then. I regret that, now. I wish I had paid more attention to the little things when he was first starting to discover his own little world. I wish I would have taken more time out of my day just to talk to him, hear about his day, teach him about things, find the teachable moments, play pretend with him in his room, to have crazy dance parties in the middle of the kitchen, then put socks on a see how far we can slide, or just to sit and color and draw for hours and then hang our masterpieces up on the fridge and be so proud! I wish I would have stopped and helped him when he was angry or frustrated, instead of just getting angry myself, yelling at him, and shoving him in front of the TV some more, just so I could go and hide and not have to deal with it.

And marriage. I never knew a great marriage would take so much hard work. I’m most certainly not going to go into details, but we just sort of started to drift apart. I blame myself for part of that, and I know we are both to blame for not trying hard enough. But it was beginning to feel like we were just roommates, cohabiting and raising a kid together. There were no more intimate conversations, no more sharing of hopes and dreams and struggles. It was just starting to wither away, and neither of us really knew what to do to fix it or where to go from here. There’s definitely more to it, but there are some things that are just meant to be kept private. All that to say? We’ve both recommitted ourselves to this marriage, to make our marriage better, stronger, able to endure whatever may come. And it’s been hard work. We’ve both had some hard truths come our way, and we’ve both been trying to be forgiving and willing to move forward with our partnership. Because that is what marriage is. It’s not a ring on your finger, it’s not a facebook relationship status, it’s a life long partnership. We weren’t joking when we said “until death do us part”. We are in it for the long haul. There was a reason that we got married in the first place, and reason we were both drawn together and felt like we had known each other all our lives. It took a little work, but we’ve realized what that reason is again. We complement each other so well. We understand each other. We’ve gone through some dark times, where we felt like strangers around each other, felt like we didn’t even know or understand the other one anymore, but the dark days are gone, and we are better and stronger than ever before. Have you ever had one of those friends where years could pass in between your meetings, but you can still pick up right where you left off, and feel like not a day has gone by? This is what that feels like for me now. We had this distance between us for so long, but we finally closed the gap and it feels like we were never apart anymore. I mean, we were never physically apart, but it just feels like we are sort of getting a clean slate, all while having so much history behind us. We are working towards bettering our lives together, chasing our dreams together, strengthening our family together, and I couldn’t ask for a better partner in crime than the man I married, my best friend.

Let’s just say I’m going through a quarter-life crisis. It sounds silly when you say it out loud, but that’s the best way for me to describe all of this that I’m going through. I’ve struggled lately trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I’ve always known, or thought, I wanted to be a nurse, and a huge part of me still feels that way. But I didn’t get to finish school before getting married and having kids. I had to grow up fast. When all my other friends were out partying, having fun, and finishing up their degrees, I was pregnant and getting married and trying to prepare myself for adult life. I was pregnant at 21, and after the baby was born, there was just no time for fun and games. I had a tiny little human I was responsible for, and a husband that needed me just as much. So now here I am, 25 years old with a three year old, I still don’t have a college degree, and for that matter, I’m not even sure what I want to be when I grow up. I’ve been trying to figure it all out, on top of everything else that has been going on, and the feelings of drowning are just intensified. It’s like I’m drowning in a pool of stress, I desperately need to break the surface and take a breath, but I’m struggling. I just can’t swim fast enough, I can’t get to the top, and I’m beginning to feel like I’ll never make it there. I know I was put on this earth for a reason, there is something that I am meant to do, but I sure wish God could have included an instruction manual or a map as to where I am supposed to go and what I am supposed to be doing.

All this to say? Things have been really rough lately and I’m just trying to make sense of which way is up and which way is down. I know that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, but there are some days that I wonder if God has me mixed up with someone else. There I days where I’ve reached my breaking point and I feel like I simply cannot go on, like I absolutely cannot handle anything else, for fear of being put in a mental institute. But I keep breathing deep, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and I know that I will come out stronger in the end, and I have already learned so many valuable lessons along the way. Life is so damn hard. But that’s the joy of it, I suppose, that’s the beauty in having a “good” life. Nothing worth having ever comes easy, and you really do have to work for what you want. But most of all, even amongst all of the struggles and battles, we need to be present. What’s the point in working so hard for something, if we can’t be present in the moments and enjoy it? Go ahead, give it a try. Try to focus a little more on the little things, the simple things. Just try to be a little more present in your life, I think you might be amazed at what you see.

where has the time gone?

Oh my, it has officially been a whole entire year since I posted last. Are you freakin kidding me? Where has the time gone?! So much has happened since my last post, which, for the record, was Mason’s five month post… FIVE MONTHS! We’ve grown so much since then! Mason has started crawling, cruising, talking, walking, running, climbing, feeding himself, he turned one for crying out loud! So needless to say, I have a LOT to get y’all caught up on. I think we’re a bit past our monthly posts, but I’m gonna go ahead a put together a little 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 month catch up post, just scaling each month down a little bit. Then we can get caught up with the happenings since the beginning of this year, since I’ve done a much better job of documenting that as one of my New Year’s resolutions. I’ve started some new projects around the house, too, so keep your eye out for all the news of the past year, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover!