Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The best, worst, first grocery shop ever.

Hey, remember me?
I'm the blogger that stops blogging for months on end.
And then my first post in forever has no pictures.
I promise there are lots of juicy home decor and project pics to come.
But first, this.....
We moved back across the Atlantic, back to the U.S. of A
and we've been working hard to figure out
just what normal looks like in life
after the Army.
So far, so good.
Except, ya know, for that one time, at the gocery store,
on aisle 9.
It was our first real grocery shop since we moved back
and we were kind of excited.
Until we got in the store.
It was just so BIG.
And there was so much stuff.
And they had the audacity to remodel while we were abroad.
The nerve!
Hubs and I both took a deep breath and resolved to
buy some food.
Hungry kids don't care if the grocery store is overwhelming.
They're weird that way.
We might have said something like, "We've got this"
Or a similar motivational mantra.
The agonizing process seemed to take forever.
We zigged and zagged and retraced our steps
a million times trying to locate the items on our list.
It felt like we were losing a Survivor-type challenge.
Finally, we were down to the last item.
Diced tomatoes.
We went down the aisle with canned veggies.....nothing.
Then we went down the aisle with tomato sauce......nothing.
Then we just went down random aisles.....nothing.
Finally, we stood in the middle of aisle 9.
I felt panicky and short of breath.
Hubs was visibly flustered.
We had been there for almost 2 hours.
Our not even half-full cart seemed to be mocking us.
We both worried our children would starve while we stood frozen on aisle 9.
Hubs suggested we ditch the cart and go to the commissary where they were
sure to have diced tomatoes.
I started to agree, I could feel myself going in to meltdown mode.
Tears collected at the edge of my eyes.
Was it possible that we could be defeated by diced tomoatoes
right there on aisle 9?
We had to prevail.
We decided to be literal.
After all, tomatoes are a fruit, right?
So we looked with the canned fruit and there they were
(insert angels singing here).....
 diced tomatoes.
Best, worst, first grocery shop ever ;-)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Bring on the Autumn...

Summer is full of fun and adventure.
I love my kids bursting through the door on the last day of school, 
dropping their backpacks, and going right back out the door for that first 
afternoon of summer freedom.
I love mid-morning popsicles, and water fights.
I love sunshine and daylight long into the evening.
I love lazy days and long, slow strolls.
But then......
I start to think about cooler days, and sweaters,
and spiced cider, and cinnamon and pumpkin flavored everything.
I start to think about snuggling up next to the fire pit
on a weekend evening, roasting marshmallows.
Autumn is my favorite.
Autumn is beautiful, and tranquil.
It's the season when curling up with a good book and enjoying some 
solitude is expected.
I love today, but I am looking forward to
the days of Autumn.

I'm ready to watch for the leaves to turn on the tree planted out front.

Hay rides and straw hats.....yes please.

Bales of hay and pumpkins piled on the porch. Don't mind if I do.

Cornstalks waving in the breeze, while mums overflow. Yep....all of that.

Summer is divine, and I always miss it when it goes.
But, I'm ready to say hello to Autumn's delights.
How about you?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Slovenia.....A Love Story

Every once in a while, a place will wrap it's arms around you.
You'll feel all warm and fuzzy in it's embrace.
In the two-ish years we've lived in Germany,
we've gone a few places.
All of them have been amazing in their own right.
From the cerulean waters off the Amalfi coast, to the somber grounds of Auschwitz,
to the tapas bars of Malaga,
I have loved each place we've visited.
Although none as much as Slovenia.
It was one of our most brief, but memorable, trips.
Friends who had been there shared their stories and pictures.
They all agreed it was one of their favorite places.
Of course, my family was looking forward to it.
Nothing prepared us for the absolute peace of the place.
Lake Bled is a tourist town, so there was bustle, in the
way that vacationers bustle.
There were people walking and biking around the lake.
And some were rowing boats across it.

(We got in on the rowing too)

For me, the real star of the show, were the majestic Julian Alps.
There were still a few mountain tops capped in snow.

They leaned into the bright, blue sunny sky.
The little town of Bled encircled by the mountains, and with it's medieval
castle perched on a rock overlooking the lake, was perfect.

We stayed at a "glamp ground".
You know? Glamorous camping?
It was just a short walk from the lake.
Had it not been for the scenery and hiking that awaited outside the resort,
we never would have left that little sanctuary.
To optimize memory-making for our short stay, we slept in a treehouse.
Let me just say......

Coolest vacay ever!!!

We enjoyed the living pool.

We ate delicious, fresh food prepared by a fantastic chef.

We explored the resort garden and ate strawberries
that grew along all the paths.
We hiked the nearby Vintgar Gorge.

We napped, and talked, and skipped rocks.

We sat by the fire and snuggled.

We took in the beauty of creation.

I realized after we got home that we didn't do much.
We just spent time together in that beautiful place.
For giving us that little respite in the midst of our busy lives,
I'll always <3 Slovenia

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Room Roundup #1

Every day that passes has me more excited about getting back to our
people, and church, and
I'm also pretty anxious to start putting together our home.
I thought it'd be fun to do a few room roundups.
That way I can look back and giggle at how easy I thought it would be ;-)
In all seriousness though, my brain likes to see things.
So, I'm starting with rooms that already have a pretty clear direction.
Since I like pictures, and I hope I'm not alone, there are quite a few.

Our 13 year old recently chose new bedding and curtains for his room.
All I can say is, the kid has taste.

He got the fabulous Shelby Faile drape from Pottery Barn to
go with the MudHut Xavier quilt set from Target.
And because I love throw pillows almost as much as I love curtains,
the chevron embroidered lumbar also from Pottery Barn.
He inherited his older brother's queen sized bed too.
Unfortunately, it's just the mattress set on a frame.
Uh....not cute.
So I'm envisioning something along these lines for a headboard.

Simple, stylish, and pretty easy to DIY.
His dresser and night table are from the Carter's Kids Lost Creek Collection in a mix 
of espresso and grey.
We bought it about 4 years ago and still love it!

Our yougest son's room has me a bit baffled in the curtain department.
In his room here, he had these

Threshold's Ikat Jaquard in grey.
They're a good weight, but I think the little guy needs something
a little less adult.
Here's his bedding

This mix of color and pattern absolutely represents our
very active 8 year old.
I think a simple solid curtain panel might be best, with everything
else going on in his room.
But then an old fashioned rugby stripe catches my eye.
I just don't know.
For a while anyway, bamboo shades will do just fine.
This industrial-inspired shelving still makes me swoon,
and I think it'll be a perfect DIY project to house our boy's
junk treasures.

Our dining room is on the small-ish side. 
It's important to me for that room to be pretty and light,
without going over the top.
It's the first room inside our front door.
(I think that's a little weird, but whatevs)
We've had our Broyhill Attic Heirlooms harvest table
for about 11 years.
It's a good quality, oak (that means heavy) table that I can't see replacing anytime soon, if ever.
The plan is to give it a makeover, by staining it in a grey wash, similar to this.

This is our table, except ours has two leafs.

While our table is a rockstar, our dining chairs are a hot mess. 
They're old, and a tad rickety.
Talk about being held together with glue and nails and screws and who
even knows what else.
No one has had one break under them....yet.
But I do think it'll be time to replace those soon.
They look deceptively good though, don't you think?

When the day comes that we buy new dining chairs, one of my Pins has me feeling happy

Dare I try light uphostery with a houseful of boys?
So pretty....

Anyway, I recently scored a natural jute rug for the dining room and I'm excited to
unroll it when we start unpacking.
I got this 8x10 beauty 70% off at Rugs USA!
 And for our large dining room window, how about these beauties? 

Seriously, the PB Lucianna Medallion drapes are too delish!
I made them mine. Because SALE! Muuahahaha.
I've been scouring the web for a chandy.
Problem is, I love soooo many.
These are a couple that are definite contenders for our dining room.

I do love sparkles, but I also appreciate a simplistic approach to beauty.
Decisions, decisions.
Thankfully, there's no rush.
I can take my time and wait for just the right chandy to bring home.

For sure, our DIY china hutch will be getting a new look.

As much as I, and everyone who has seen it, loves the aqua, it's time
for something new.
I'm tentatively thinking a 50/50 mixture of Annie Sloan's 
Old White and French Linen.
And a darker stain on the top.
It will be such a pretty home for the dishes I've picked up around Europe.
Well that cover's two bedrooms and the dining room.
I'm looking forward to sharing more ideas for the rooms
that I'm still trying to figure out.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What's in a name?

Last August I knew things were changing.
The change that was ahead of us was big. BIG.
Our oldest started his senior year last August.
I was prepared (that's a dirty lie) for the slow but steady seperations that happen
when a boy crosses into manhood.
But, it still made my heart hurt.
**Insert random crying and large doses of nostalgia.**
It was a good hurt though.
The kind of hurt that happens when you grow.
What we didn't know, couldn't have known, was that life as we knew it
would be changing.
I've wanted to write about this for a while.
But the feelings were just too raw, and the words wouldn't come.
My emotions are still kind of all over the place, but
I know everyone is going to be ok.
We are covered.
We are loved.
When my grandma's journey here on Earth was coming to a close, 
we went home to be with her.
And we lost our son, Nate.
Well, it felt like a loss anyway.
He left more specifically.
He had been struggling for a long while.
And we had been stumbling behind trying to get ahead of 
his hurt.
Unfortunately, we never really caught up.
It's one of those things that makes a parent feel like a failure.
To see our boy losing himself was almost more than I could bear.
I've never prayed so hard. I prayed so hard my body ached with longing to have an answer.
What we came to was acceptance of a truth that we hated.
The realization that trying to force our will hadn't ever worked
and it was not likely to start working.
We had tough decisions to make
because we had to go back to Germany.
We decided to let Nate live with the decision to leave us.
In all of my life, I can't imagine that I'll ever have to do anything as difficult
as getting on a plane without my child.
I cried from Charlotte, NC all the way back to Germany.
Life felt like a thing that was just happening around me, and I was just watching
from outside.
I tried to be positive, I prayed for Nate and for us.
I did all the normal things because there was comfort in familiarity.
Nate didn't contact us for a while.
I sent messages to remind him that we love him and he
still has a family that cares.
Sometimes he responded, sometimes not.
That's been the way it is for 8 months now.
Its' still hard not to have him with us, but for reasons I don't
understand, this is the path that he's chosen.
He seems to be maturing and in that small statement,
there is hope.
Around the time that Nate left, Steve and I started 
giving serious thought to our family and 
what we want for it.
Our life as an Army family was good.
But it was filled with hardship.
Nothing unique neccessarily, the usual.
Deployments and seperations for training or schools, and
 of course the moving.
It took a toll on all of us.
We were basically always on the other side of the country
or the world from our family.
After a while, I think they got the impression that we were "used to" it.
But anyone that's done it knows, you don't get used to it.
You just do it.
So, hubs decided our family and building us up from the spirit out,
was more important that the next promotion board or mission.
Can I tell you?
I've never felt so cherished or loved than when he told me
he was retiring.
It was the sensation that God had breathed new life into us.
So now we're here.
Our house is empty and I'm excitedly looking foward to having a home.
Like a real one. With roots and everything.
I honestly didn't even know I wanted this!
No one is going to tell us we're moving in 2-3 years.
There's just one caveat.
We're leaving Germany with two kids.
Our oldest son was sworn-in to the Air Force last week.
He'll leave for basic from Germany.
Am I proud?
Oh. Em. Gee. Heck yes!!!
But there's that hurt, the one where you grow.
That brings me to what's in a name.
I named this blog to honor my beautiful family.
It was an homage to our four loud, funny, loving boys and the home we had together.
Because as an adult, that's always been the only home I've ever known.
So now that Nate is making a life on his own, and Devon is
going to serve our country.....
are we still us?
The half dozen.
Maybe we won't all be under the same roof all the time, and that's fine.
And it's probable that in the next several (I'm too young for this) years there will
be girlfriends and fiances and wives and grandkids.....
But at home in my heart, we'll always be us, the original half dozen.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Plans for my Little Man's Big Boy Bedroom

Our youngest son is 8 years old.
He's as cute as a button and smart and funny.
For his whole life, he's shared a room with an older brother, and sometimes two older brothers.
Hubs and I decided that when we get back to the states,
our cute, smart, funny man needs his own room.
Not just that it'll be all his, but that it'll be designed for him.
This was the bonus room turned bedroom he shared with his big brother in SC.

(I seriously wish I'd taken more pictures of that room.)
Anyway, it was a big deal.
Our two youngest sons had never had new furniture before that.
When we bought new furniture, we went with the Carter's Kids Lost Creek Collection.
I don't have pics of all the pieces, but we bought both grey and espresso pieces from that line.
What I loved about the space was it wasn't too "little boy".
Kids grow so fast, and I want their rooms to grow with them.
When our little guy gets his own room, I want to give him plenty of storage.
After all, little guys have Legos...lots and lots of Legos.
And then there are all the books and action figures and rock collections.
I love the idea of a wall of storage with an industrial feel.
Like this...

The metal pipes and the wood are just still my heart!
I imagine hubs and I DIY-ing our hearts out on this one.
 And if I close my eyes, I can see bubby's Star Wars sets poised on these shelves, ready for battle.

Since his bed has a high headboard, I'd like to drill into it and
mount a light like the one here...

Doesn't that just scream industrial?
The grey and yellow don't hurt my feelings either.
Although, I've been toying with something along these lines for little man's room...

Maps are so versatile in decor.
Not only do they lend character to a room, but they are perfect for
a day-dreaming adventurer like our littlest boy.
And since he's already pretty well traveled, it would serve as a reminder of past adventures.
I want his big boy bedroom to be all about him.
Here's to 7 months to plan a sweet big boy bedroom!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

I'm Dreaming of a Light Kitchen...

Okay so, hubby decided at the end of 2014 that his long season
of service was coming to an end.
This is HUGE for our family!
After 21 years of being an Army family, I don't even know what to
expect from being "civilianized".
But am I excited?
Heck to the yes, I am!
We get to live in a house for longer than 3 years, we get to decide when
we go on vacation, we get to put down roots.
I. Am.Giddy.
Don't get me wrong, being a part of this amazing Army community has been
such a privilege and we've forged bonds every bit as strong as family.
But, something has been put on my dear hubby's heart.
And he's in a position to move toward what he feels called to
in this season.
I'm so proud of him and so thankful to be married to a man
who listens when that still voice speaks.
If the reams of paperwork move smoothly through all the proper channels,
if all the signatures and stamps get put in all the right places,
we should be back in the US of A by the end of August.
Of this year!
In an effort to be helpful,
I'm already doing a mental redecoration of our spaces.
I kid, I kid.
But seriously. I am.
I'm researching paint colors and doing space plans for our furniture.
In the two-ish years I've been in Europe, I've defined my personal style.
It really is the perfect place to get to know timeless style up close and personal.
I still love all shades of aqua because's delicious.
But the bookworm in me wants to nerd out with the classics in
rooms that are more collected and quiet, with shots of quirk and pattern.
We'll be moving back into the house we own in the states.
It is the epitome of builder grade,
which is okay with me because it has potential.
And I don't have to compete with architecture, I can create it.
Realistically, my project wish list will take years.
But since it's a "wish" list I think getting just a tad crazy is acceptable.
I think yes.
This is the kitchen before we moved in circa 2010.

 That dooky beige paint is fabulous, no?
Paint was at the top of the to-do list.

When we had lived in the house for 6-ish months we did a few projects.
The laminate countertops were replaced with granite slabs, and the
sink and faucet were upraded.
Beadboard was installed as a backsplash. and the ceiling got crowned with moulding.
We took out the world's tiniest cabinet and added open shelves.
We retrofit a trash can that slides out of the cabinet next to the sink.
(Super handy for meal prep)
But then it was time to move again and projects stopped.
This is what it looked like when I listed it for rent.

No more dooky beige. LOL
And the new floors were a huge improvement throughout the downstairs.

We moved overseas feeling good about the changes we'd made.
But now that we're headed back, a new to-do list is forming.
Like the cabinets.
The cabs are a nice maple....but, oh my, are they orange.
I crave light neutral cabinets.
Like this...

Or this...

Those kitchens say, "Hello, I'm light and airy. Love me."
Nothing a little paint can't fix.
And beside a desire to tone down the orange,
a light grey on the cabinets would really compliment our granite slab
After all, having those countertops installed is what finally made
us feel like grown-ups.
Just kidding, but it was a big deal.
While I'm wishing for lighter cabinets, I'll add chunky crown to the uppers.
Why not?
The project I'm most excited about though, is closing in the big hole between
the kitchen and family room.

I know the builder was probably thinking "open concept".
But it's really just a big hole that eats up valuable wall space in both the kitchen 
and the family room.
By walling this in, we gain wall space for much needed shelving.
Since we tend to gather in the kitchen anyway,
we don't need a hole to talk to people through.
Of course, closing the hole creates another project.
We will either have to redo the beadboard, or choose another material.
Hubs and I agreed, while the beadboard has performed 
beyond our expectations, we want to use tile this time around.
And, in a shocking twist, we agreed that marble tile was the way to go.
Something along these lines...

And this is also lovely...

With such a very small space to cover, it would be a major impact for an affordable price.
Let's face it, budget is boss for most of us.
By doing the work ourselves, we can afford a few high end finishes,
with the savings from not hiring subs to do everything for us.
It is such a win!
Over the next 8 months or so, I'll be putting together design plans
for all the rooms in our house.
Not only is that one of my favorite things to do, but it will
help me prioritize and organize for our big move back across the pond.
I'm sitting here grinning from ear to ear.
It's so ridiculous how happy this makes me!
I hope it's contagious ;-)