Friday, August 28, 2015

C'mon in... I've been waiting for you

Hello friends!  Welcome to my new house.  I gave you a sneak peek yesterday and hinted that there may be more to come.  I took a few shots around the house yesterday and have felt motivated by some of you kind friends and family who have commented on the digs.  Thanks for the encouragement.  Like I said yesterday, I LOVE it around here.  With yet ANOTHER trip to Home Goods today, there are additional pictures to add.  This weekend will be a big push toward getting the tv mounted on the living room wall and other odds and ends that seem to nag but not be on the top of the list for necessary living.  

So come on in and have a look around.  

As you enter the living room/ entry way (that was pictured yesterday with the marble fireplace and two chairs on either side of it) you look to the left and notice an amazing wood spiral staircase.  This is most definitely the focal point of the downstairs.  It is lovely.  It also makes the space a touch *confusing*. For me anyhow.  The downstairs doesn't flow like a normal living space.  Normal is over-rated though, right?!

I have tried to give you an idea of what the staircase does.  What I can't seem to capture is the openness of the space.  Directly above the staircase is a sky light.  So from the roof to the living room is a ton of natural light.  My own personal Happy Lamp, if you will.  And yes I will, come January, thank you very much!

(Ironically, I just mentioned all of the natural light and then I have included the darkest photo I could get of the entire house.  Honestly, I'm just too lazy to re-take a better picture. Nice.)

As you stand at the front door and hang your coat and look past the staircase, you will notice our actual living space.  To the left of the staircase is the wall in which our aforementioned tv will hang.  Next to that wall (which you can't see here) is a door.  That is the door to our bedroom.  It had once upon a time (as in 4 weeks ago) been an additional living room.  It is now my beautiful bedroom.  Mostly because this is actually only a 2 bedroom house and mama had to live here, so mama had to be creative and *sell* daddy on a creative solution.  I see it as a win-win. (See final picture in this post for visual.)
Here is the finished product of the entry way/living room.  You will notice two  matching chairs and an added rug.  I have to say, I love this space.  It is cozy, formal(ish) yet unique.  I envision reading many a book here.  And then I snap back to reality and realize that might happen when the kids are away at college and I actually read a book.

I don't know if you can spot at the very bottom right corner of the above photo, a colorful bench.  The jury is still out on this bench.  It is cool.  But I have the tags on it still and go back and forth.  Above it is a humongous picture of the Flat Iron building (as seen in yesterday's post.)

Here is a shot of part of the living space where the tv will be.  There is now a rug where the wood floor is.  Again, the tag is on it and I'm going to take the weekend to live with it and see how it feels.  It seems a touch big for the space but Steve really likes to "put his feet on the rug."  (You gotta throw a bone every once in a while.)

Here is a glimpse into my bedroom.  This room is the biggest work in progress.  To me, all of the other rooms are top priority.  In some ways, our room has become the *dumping ground* for all of the furniture that isn't making the cut for the rest of the house.  Currently, there is an enormous brown couch living in our room.  But that is okay, since it used to be a living room, there is plenty of room.  You will notice an open door in this photo.  It is a screen door that opens to our beautiful wrap around front porch.  I love love love this feature.

Sadly, that gorgeous chandelier is not currently working.  The previous owners said that it never worked for them in 8 years.  One of the second tier priorities is to get an electrician out here to fix it.  It's just too pretty to have it in non-working condition.  I am looking forward to some day getting things on the walls, a rug, the tv off of the beautiful marble fireplace etc.  It is a beautiful bedroom and I feel like a queen laying my head down each night.

So, that is the *work in progress* tour of our down stairs.  It is a start.  I feel insecure about my decorating abilities.  (Dang you, HGTV/TLC).  But it is fun to put my own personality into this house.  It really is a dream come true.

Later this weekend, I look forward to taking you upstairs.  I hope you will come back!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Home is where the sofa sits

It was 4 weeks ago tomorrow that we got the keys and stepped inside our new house.  It was the first time entering in without someone else's stuff, 2 dogs and 4 cats in the way.  (Yep! 2 dogs and 4 cats!)  Let's just say they left behind a few *mementos* in the form of enormous fur balls.  Side note: cat lovers, try as best you can from turning into the crazy cat lover.  Those felines really mess up those of us buying your home in a huge way!  I've been shop vac-ing cat hair out of crevices, electrical sockets, base boards, window sills, door jams, key holes, appliances etc.  The cat hair is gonna end up sending me to the funny farm.

Anyhow, we took 2 solid weeks of back-breaking labor to get the place into some sort of livable shape.  Things are beginning to take hold.  While I still feel like I'm playing house in someone else's digs, it is starting to feel like mine.

I am one who loves to window shop.  I enjoy thumbing through catalogues and looking through magazines.  But when my back is to the wall and I have to make real life decorating decisions and spend real cash money, I become paralyzed.  Seriously, Home Goods, Pier 1 and Ikea have become my nemesis.

Slowly but surely pictures are being hung and sofas are finding just the right spot.  (I'm sure Steve dreads coming home from work because there have been a string of days in which we are moving chairs and sofas because *it just doesn't feel right* over there.)  Lucky for him, we are running out of walls to try things on.

Over the next few days, I'm going to try and take some pictures and give a little tour.  I'm mostly afraid that pictures won't do my amazing new house justice.  Seriously, Ive sat in my new place and looked around and thought, "How do I get to live here?"  I think that is a good thing.  I've also driven myself crazy with the need to *get it right*.  The decorating that is.  I feel like I've got this one shot and I gotta get it right.  I know that isn't true and that paint can be re-painted.  I've already discovered that large and expensive area rugs can be sent back to where they came from.  (PS- CB2 is an amazing company with an incredibly helpful and generous return policy!)  *Or so I've heard.*

I hope someday soon, the tv will be mounted on the wall.  The *just right* area rug will be found.  The finishing touches to each room will be made.  And I need to be fine with posting the *in process.*  That's real life anyway.  Right.  In process!

So, with that... here is a picture of part of our living room.  This is what you see when you first enter our house.  Already, however,  even this photo is dated.  We now have an adorable rug in front of the fire place.  I'll post that picture when I can.

This is my new pride and joy.  Our kitchen is an eat-in-kitchen.  I finally got my very own dining room table.  When we first got married, Steve's parents generously gave us their old dining room set (that was theirs when they first got married in the late 60's.)  While it did the trick and graciously carried us through our little kid years, I have been hoping to express my own style.  I'm so glad we waited until now.  This table and chairs from Crate & Barrel is so perfect in our new house.  I love it.

What the photos don't show you is the huge exposed beams and high vaulted ceilings.  The whole kitchen is full of windows and is light and airy.  I finally love being in my kitchen and cooking (well, not the actual cooking part) and visiting with people who are eating while doing so.  It is one of my favorite spaces.  The brick walls and built in shelves are cool.  I'm still trying to figure out what exactly to put on the shelves.  Any cool ideas are welcomed.

When I lived in NYC, I lived just a few blocks from the Flat Iron building.  It has always been my favorite structure in Manhattan.  In fact, while I lived there, I collected black and white framed photos of it and they have hung on our bedroom wall at the old house since we were married.  Recently, this enormous canvas popped up at Ikea and I knew I HAD to have it in my new house.  It hangs in our living room.  I love it.  I have also been able to hang the other photos near there.  So, basically my new house is a shrine to the greatest City on the planet.

So that is the tour for now.  Like I said, I haven't even taken many good photos because I keep waiting for the house to *be done.*  But that may never actually happen.  So, instead, I'll do it little by little.  It may be fun to see how it all changes and evolves over the next few months.  In the meantime, a new house means a new door to take the first day of school photos in front of. These knuckleheads are slowly adjusting to the new house as well.  Perhaps my next stop on the house tour will be their rooms.  Theirs are really the only *finished* spots in the house.  I wanted to make their rooms and spaces the priority.  I'd say they are three happy and blessed kids!  

So check back for more of the tour.  Thanks for indulging me over here!  I really am having fun.

Monday, August 17, 2015

There's no place like home

Poudre River
I dubbed this summer The Adventure Summer.

I had to frame it somehow, just so I could survive the crazy.  With boxing up our house, packing up our family for a two week trip to Puerto Rico, moving to a rental house, packing up a van for a two week trip to Colorado and then finally, moving into a new home after 12 years, I needed to gear up for an Adventure.  My other option was dubbing it The Summer from Hell, but I thought that might be a bit much for the kids (and myself) to handle.  So I went with the former.

For a family who thrives on structure, familiar and predictable, this summer was a bit of a stretch for us.  Although every part of the summer was positive and some may say an opportunity of a lifetime, it was still much like the rapids in the picture.  Around every turn there were bumps, bruises and rocks to be dodged.  But we all managed to stay in the boat (both on the trip down the Poudre and throughout the summer.)

The kids did great.  They had a blast in Puerto Rico.  While we were there mainly for work (33 college athletes were on the summer project that we helped to staff) we also had a great opportunity to explore and experience the Puerto Rican culture and the beauty of the Island.  The kids adapted well and loved almost everything (minus the mosquitoes and the sand fleas).  We built some strong relationships with Puerto Rican students as well as other Americans on the trip.  What a privilege to have our entire family minister together!

Thankfully, some very dear friends of ours just flipped the house right next door to them and will begin to rent it out as a VRBO.  We got to be their "Guinea pigs."  We were their first renters while we waited to close on our old house and several weeks later, close on our current house.  It couldn't have been any more perfect for our situation.  We were right next door to Olivia's best friend at school (there were more sleepovers in that stretch than I can remember) and only a 5 min drive to our new house (perfect for moving day.)  It was a 2 bedroom and was cozy and perfect for our needs.

The trip to Colorado was for our every-other-year Cru Staff Conference.  It involves much work for Steve but also provides great connection with co-workers from all over the country whom we rarely get to see.  We heard from amazing speakers and were encouraged and challenged deeply.  The kids were in a special 10 day kids camp.  They made some great friends and had a blast.  In fact, the night before we hit the road to come back home, 2/3 kids sobbed at the thought of leaving their new friends.  

We high-tailed it home so that we could get the keys to our new house and start the move-in process.  Thankfully, since there was a little bit of work to be done in the house (painting etc) and since the furniture was not able to be delivered for several days post our return, we were able to stay in the rental house another 4 nights.  Steve's parents joined us as we painted and repaired some things for the big move in, which helped us more than words can say.  Sometimes, you just need the "little helpers" to be entertained while you put in 10 hour work days!  Thanks, Gramma and Papa!

One of those 4 nights at the rental house, Turner couldn't fall asleep.  The other 2 were out like a light and T came out of their shared bedroom crying.  Steve went to lay down with him and help him figure out what was going on.  As they lay in Turner's bed and he shed tears, he finally said, "Dad, I just want to go home."  After several more questions, Steve concluded it wasn't so much that T wanted to go back to the old house (although, for him that was the only home he as ever known) it was more the sense of stability and familiarity he was longing for.  I can totally relate!

The Adventure Summer was a good one.  There were many grand moments, exciting things and lasting memories.  But most of the time, our hearts cried out for "home."  For knowing what comes next, where our stuff is, routine.  We are slowly getting there.  Our home is *mostly* set up.  (We can find our dishes, our towels, our shoes and toys.)  School began last week.  We are back to soccer practice, gymnastics practice and making dinner and eating around our table.  It is starting to feel like home.  I think that as I wander through life and it continues to unfold, there are days/seasons I lay in bed and cry for "home."  I wonder if its my heart, crying for the stability and consistency of heaven that I was created for?  Yet, at the same time, I'm deeply thankful for the seasons of Adventure that help me appreciate Home even more.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Gone but not forgotten

Wow.  Here I am, over here!  Do you see me waving my arms and jumping up and down to get your attention.  I have to do that because I'm pretty sure you have given up on me and I'm hoping to get your attention.

There have been a few obstacles in my way of getting over here to the blog.  No small obstacle was my broken down mess of a computer.  I finally scrapped my Dell and have crossed over to the Macbook Air world.  I am happy to say that I can now type and access the Internet flawlessly... until I realized it has been so long that I've been here that I no longer to could remember my passwords to get to the blog.  After some fancy footwork, I got that worked out.

On top of all of the technical difficulties, we up and moved houses.  Late May we packed our old house, went to Puerto Rico, came home, moved to a rental for about 6 weeks, went to Colorado for two weeks, came back and moved.  We have been living in the new house (8 houses down on the same street as before) for three weeks.

Boxes have been unpacked, rooms have been painted, doors have been fixed, Ikea furniture is being put together, sofas are en-route to be delivered, electricians are being called for lights that don't work and kids are now back to school so mama can get some actual work done without helpers.

All of that to say, life here has been full.  Part of me is sad to not have some of the funny moments recorded and pictures posted of things like before/after.  But so it goes.  Now that my password has been reset and there are spaces in the day to sit without interruption, I hope to fill you in on some of the goings ons of the past three months.  So much crazy.  Our summer adventure now turns into fall adventures soon.  However, I'm not completely ready to say goodbye to days at the pool and grill outs in the back yard.

Stay tuned for pictures of our new home.  I think you're gonna love it as much as we do.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

When the unexpected happens

Last night I knocked on a door and was invited into a home.  As I walked through the door- I walked into a new world.  Another family's world.  I gained a privilege afforded to only a few.

Sabida came to America 5 months ago by way of refugee camp.  Originally, she is from Somalia. She is a single mom of 10 kids.  At least I think that is what I concluded- communication was a touch challenging.  Primarily because of my lack of the Somali language.

Sabida's kids go to school with my kids.  Souleman is Olivia's classmate.  When I first met him he didn't speak a word of English.  He had a few "accidents" because he didn't know how to tell someone he had to go.  Can you imagine the frustration and humiliation of a 10 year old boy in that situation?  Back then, he never spoke.  He wouldn't make eye contact.  He never smiled.  When I met him 5 months ago, he stole my heart.

His 3 sisters are easy to spot in the hallways at school.  They are covered from head to toe in beautiful scarves and colorful dresses.  Two of the older sisters rarely crack a smile.  They often appear overwhelmed and distressed.  I have been determined to crack the code as  I smile and wave each time I see them in the hallways.  No response.

Until last night.

I sat in their living room, with my daughter by my side.  As we entered their home, we were offered a Mountain Dew and were whisked to a couch and invited to sit.  It was an impeccably tidy house with potently delicious smells wafting from the kitchen.  My mind went to my own living room, trashed with piles of mail, junk, toys and folded laundry strewn about the furniture.  Signs of hurriedness and a general lack of commitment to housekeeping.

I had arrived at 5:20 to pick them up for a school function I was in charge of.  I was suppose to be back to the school at 5:30.  Ironically, the evening's event would discuss cultural diversity and building relationships among parents within the many cultures of our school community. So OBVIOUSLY, I needed to get off of this couch and to the meeting!

Yet, there I sat at 5:30 (late for the event) on a couch in the home of this Somali family. (You do catch the irony, right?)  Olivia and I were very certainly the first Americans to step foot into their home.  The oldest brother - a high schooler-(bless his heart) found himself as the interpreter.  I'm still not sure if any of them knew why I was there or why there about to get into my van.  I DO think they understood we would be going to the school.  I think.

I sat on the couch, wondering how I would fit these 8 people, plus Olivia, into my mini-van.  I decided we would be creative and risk breaking the "rules."  Whomever wanted to come, could come.  Where there's a will, there's a way.  Thankfully, the oldest (and tallest) 2 would stay home.

At 5:45 I kindly, yet assertively stood and asked if they were ready to go.  I began to sense we might sit on the couch all night if I did not do so.  We all shuffled out to the van.  Never in my life have I realized how nice our van is.  We have a button that opens the doors.  The kids were delighted over this.  It took 10 hilarious attempts to communicate, "You don't have to pull the door handle."  Once they realized it was automatic, we had to push the button 10 more times to watch in amazement.  And FORGET ABOUT IT when they realized we had a 'tele' in the car and can watch a movie.

The event at school was a success.  I assigned myself Sabida's friend for the evening.  She was the only one at the event who spoke zero English.  I can't even imagine.  She hung in there, smiled a lot and was a good sport.  We gave the thumbs up to each other about 100 times and used " it's good?"/ "it's not good?" about equally as many times.

The ride home seemed much more relaxed.  Probably because they now knew the crazy lady who just showed up at the door and shoved them into the space-age mini-van isn't a total maniac. 

Olivia and I  took them on the scenic route on the way home.  Our neighborhood has a street festival every 1st Friday night.  It was the first gorgeous one of the season and the neighborhood was out in full force.  We drove past street performers, sidewalk cafes and even a fire juggler.  The family stared out the window, clapped and declared, "It is beautiful" and "Dayton, Ohio is beautiful." I nearly cried, which would have once again regained my spot in their minds as the crazy lady.  The oldest daughter told me, "We no car.  Don't see Dayton.  My mother says it is beautiful."

I hadn't considered this.  Of course they don't see much of the city.  No car.  No English.  I drove them past our house and told them we would love to have them over for dinner sometime soon.  The oldest daughter answered, "We can't."  My heart sunk.  Perhaps I had offended them.  "No car."  When I told them I would pick them up, they clapped and said lots of excited things in Somali (which I'm choosing to believe were not things along the lines of  "The crazy lady won't leave us alone." or "Oh, crap, now she wants to have us to her house with no way of getting out of there.").

I knew the ice had been broken when I was about to turn onto their street to deliver them safely home and there was a quick conversation in Somali which was soon followed by a request to go to Kroger.  They usually have to walk nearly a mile to get to the store.  I would gladly save them this walking trip.  What are magic vans for?

I kept the kids in the car (to watch a movie, of course) while Sabina and her oldest daughter shopped.  They came out with a full cart of food.  How long had it been since they stocked up like this?  I have no idea.  9 kids.  No car.  No English.  No husband.  A struggle I can't even fathom.

Olivia and I helped unload the food into the house.  A perfect end to a perfect night.

A man in a truck drove by and yelled at Sabina as we all had bags full of food to be carried into the house.  Apparently, he had some negative opinions he thought he needed to share with her... loudly.  He drove away before I could give him my opinion back.  I wanted to punch him in the face.  Sabina yelled, "Sorry.  So sorry."  as he peeled out.  Two of the only English words I heard her say other than "good." 

He was an idiot.  He has no idea.

She is brave.  She is smart.  She is amazing.  I saw her handle her brood amazingly in the few hours I was with her.  I want her to teach  me how to do it.  I want to learn all that she knows.  I want to hear her stories and where she comes from. I want to know the names of the delicious smelling spices cooking in her home.  I hope someday she is able to tell me all about it.  If she wants to.  She served me last night in ways she will never know.  She trusted me.  She allowed me to peek into her world.  A sacred space.  I met Jesus in a new way last night.  He opened up His heart to me through Sabina and I am humbled.

How was I chosen for such an honor?  It is a mystery.  For all of this to be shared with my daughter is beyond words.  I wish for YOU such a grace and a pleasure.  I am truly the wealthiest person on the planet today.  I hold a treasure worth more than any earthly value.  God's heart through a human experience. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Out with the old, in with the new

It's a rainy Saturday.  The trees are popping with these little green things.  Leaves?  YES!  They just might be!  The tulips are out in full bloom.  Birds are chirping (even if they start a bit too early for my liking).  All signs that Spring has sprung here in the Miami Valley.  Hibernation has ended.  New life abounds. Neighbors have been busy in their small yards here in our sweet little city neighborhood.

I've been spring cleaning up in here.  In doing so, I've unearthed some treasures.  As well as a whole lot of crap.  It's made me want to shake the dust off of the blog.  And my memory.  It's good to remember.

Gymnastic Championships were last week.  Congrats to Performance Gymnastics Academy for the first place finish for Level 3 at the Rec level this year.  Olivia has successfully completed Level 3 and will move up to Level 4 team next year.  (A year ago that would have been all "blah blah blah" to my ears.  Now I know... that means YAY she did it!!!) 

My formerly shy daughter has become a confident 9 year old who works hard, encourages her team mates, giggles and follows instructions well.  I know mom's are proud of their kids.  It is fun to be proud of your child not just for what she does and her accomplishments, but for who she is and how she treats others. And it's doubly awesome when they accomplish much while being an awesome person all at the same time. I just might explode some days!  (Some days she gives me reasons to explode for other reasons.)

Seriously though.... when did this little peanut turn into this big girl?

I must have blinked or something.

Because this guy ...
well- never mind.  He's still a turkey.

If my mom were here to behold the kid Quinn is turning into, she would shake her head and tell me she knew from the instant we met him he was going to be a genius.  It's true!  I asked him the other day if he ever gets tired of talking.  He thought for about 10 seconds (the quietest he had been all day) and said, "No. Not really,  I just never run out of words."  That is the truth.

Time flies when you're having fun.  

Friday, February 6, 2015

Here we are

More like EEK... I HAD a blog. 

I just can't get my act together.  Too much life happening around here.  Not to mention I have had the Januaries.  If you don't get the Januaries and you have no idea what I am talking about, stop right there and thank the Lord! 

All is well here.  The holidays are over.  Both boys are now 7 years old.  Olivia will be 9 years old in 13 days.  The days are getting longer.  There is still snow outside of my window.  The high here will be 34 degrees.  It's practically a heat wave.

We leave for a week in Florida in 7 days. 

Hope is on the way.

I mostly wanted to post here just to say, we are alive.  It was touch and go there for a few weeks as we had cabin fever, an entire week off of school because "it was too cold to live" apparently.  Whew  WHY DO I LIVE HERE?

That is all. 
 Lots of gymnastics
Lots of this and that.