Archive - June 2018

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» The French Cottage: Renovation Series
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» Making a Home
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» Love Heals: The Cafe at Thistle Farm
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» Asleep by 8:00
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» The Fight Against Screen Time, Summer Picks, and Giveaway!

» The French Cottage: Renovation Series

I have been obsessed with this idea of living in a cottage or a bungalow for quite some time. I think that obsession is what fueled the desire to downsize into a cozier home. That… and the desire to not spend my life cleaning square footage. Our new home has a cozy kitchen that I initially dubbed too small, but after ripping our flooring out and pondering and staring at it, and staring at it some more… a few very warm and comforting feelings have come over me. Maybe it’s a good thing to have a just-big-enough kitchen where you bump into each other as you brush past to unload the dishwasher or boil the pasta water. And so, I have embraced those intimate cottage feelings and now have a direction for the low-key styling and renovation of this home. It started with the cement tiles I laid in the entryway after work this week. My kids were all at camp for three days and it seemed like the best project to knock out. I didn’t want to fuss at them if they accidentally stepped on it before all was dry and set. Thankfully Lowes now has a pretty good selection of tile, and I made a decision quickly. Click here if you want to connect with that exact tile yourself. The Lowes website classifies the tile as “bathroom tile” but I envisioned our entryway, which is small, shouting a big hello. This tile certainly does that. I think this would look awesome in a hallway or laundry room as well. In fact… someone please put this in a laundry room, it would be amazing.

Back to the subject. I tiled. And I was super nervous because although I have tiled a backsplash or two, this was different. It was a bit daunting to know that we would walk on top of it for years to come. For this reason I was extra careful and meticulous with the job. First I laid the hardy backer and screwed it in, with probably more screws than I needed, and then I carefully laid out each tile with spacers and made all the cuts I would need in advance. I used a little tile cutter and a wet saw.

Once I had the pattern laid out and cuts made I took the bravest step and used thin set to spread out on the floor and lay the tiles. I am certain that no one is messier than me when working with these materials. I was covered in thin set by the time I finished. We have some awesome guys working to put a covered porch out back and they looked a little astonished when I came out to get some air. They were busting concrete and digging up dirt and were cleaner than I.

After the tiles had time to cure on the thin set (is that even the right phrase? I don’t know) I added the dark gray grout. I just love it. I never in my life, ever, want to clean white grout. Even if it was the inest thing to ever be in. I will always choose dark grout. After the grout had time to harden and do its thing I cleaned the tile off and sealed everything up with a spray sealer. And Ta-Da! This is what 4.5 hours gets you. My knees and back are definitely feeling it today!

So what’s next for our faux-French cottage? Definitely some flooring for the rest of the house. We went wild and pulled everything up, because we really needed to, and are currently walking on subfloor. I am hopeful that the rest of the flooring will be decided upon and installed this week. Additionally, as I mentioned, an amazing porch is being added behind the kitchen and my heart is just so full when I envision that space and the people that will hopefully fill it for cook outs. I am also planning what I call a “kitchen refresh.” This will include adding some bottom cabinetry to what already exists, floating shelves and possibly some IKEA butcher block. But… first floors.

» Making a Home

A series of interesting events led us on a bit of a detour/adventure this past year. We had high hopes that didn’t pan out. But God’s plans really are better than high hopes. In fact they are a heck of a lot more solid than hopes. Any discomfort or displacement we may have felt during this time, and now, are for the good He is continuing to orchestrate. I say this with confidence, but if you have talked to me lately you might question that resolve. I haven’t cried this much since I was pregnant. Whew.

Home is so important to me. Building and curating a place of welcome. Stocking a fridge with things that aid hospitality. Yet I’ve been dreaming about a downsize and in our culture less room seems to spell less room for people. This year when everything shifted and left us scrambling to sell our home of ten months and buy another, in an extremely crazy market, we were forced to downsize. Sure we could have extended a bit, added a bit more to the payment, compromised on our budget. But all the signs pointed toward actually doing what we’ve felt led to do for years: downsize and create room for others nonetheless. And so, we did it. We bought a house that was considerably smaller but checked many boxes for our family of six. It needs work and it apparently has a history of heartbreak. It has stretched me… it has made me uncomfortable. Mostly because the A/C unit promptly went out when we moved in. (Please kick in home warranty!) It’s embarrassing to admit all these first world thoughts and problems. But our struggles, no matter how frivolous are sharable. Perhaps for you, but perhaps for me as well. Sharing puts my heart on display in a way that helps me examine it for what really lies inside, it helps me throw out the clutter and refine what needs to belong.

As I moved into this house my friend and co-laborer (because she doesn’t just live in this world, she’s works in it) handed me a beautiful emerald book that said so many things that I want my heart to feel and accomplish consistently. In The Gospel Comes with a House Key Rosaria Butterfield states that hospitality is not just moral posturing. Hospitality is loving your neighbor at every opportunity and at every cost.

Whoa. Holy cow.

In my tears, the loss of space, and dirtiness of current space and disfunctionality of space… all things that will be fixed… were directly associated with my desire to be hospitable and open with my home. But if hospitality is loving your neighbor, that has little to do with what your home looks or feels like.

The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.
Mark 12:31

The list of DIYs is long. And yes, I still want to curate a beautiful place to sit with others through whatever joy or trial they are facing. I want to create a space that my children come home to and bring others with them. But above all I want to do what God requests of me. Create in me a pure heart Lord, one that loves my neighbor well and opens my table to a stranger. If my home can be a peaceful resting place along the way, then so be it. I hope you’ll come along for the ride as we work on this space, and our mission, as a family.

 

» Love Heals: The Cafe at Thistle Farm

As Charlotte’s ninth birthday approached we began to scheme and plan the ultimate girls day out. We continue to choose experiences over parties and presents in our home and she had her sights set on a day that included pampering, one-on-one time and perhaps a steaming pot of tea.

Thankfully we discovered that The Cafe at Thistle Farm recently moved to a beautiful new location and offers an afternoon tea service, by reservation, from 1-3pm every afternoon. Thistle Farms was founded in Nashville and offers women hope and healing through a holistic residential program, employment with one of their social enterprises, and a growing national and global network dedicated to changing a culture that allows human beings to be bought and sold. They also make a Global impact by distributing and selling handmade items and creating economic opportunities for women in ten different countries.

They are doing great things and we were more than happy to check out their beautiful cafe and shop as part of Charlotte’s special day. The Cafe was bustling when we entered and we spied lots of delicious salads, soups and sandwiches being delivered to tables. We gave our name and were quickly escorted to a reserved table just for the two of us. It was already set, beautifully, with saucers and dainty tea cups. We chose our tea from a nicely curated list and took some time to fawn over the tea things that were placed before us: natural sugar cubes, a pot of honey, a container of thick cream and slices of lemons.

Within a few minutes a steaming pot of tea graced the table and we fixed our cups to our liking. We chatted and worked on keeping our pinkies pointed while we waited on the rest of our afternoon tea service. Moments later our kind waitress delivered a 3-tier cart to our table that contained plates of scones, mini quiches, chicken salad, brownies, cookies, egg salad and other delicious treats. Each bite was delicious and oh so cute. If you are hoping for a full meal during this time you can also add a soup and salad to your reservation.

We also popped into their beautiful shop on the way out to grab lip balm, candles and natural bug spray!

After our delicious afternoon tea time, which we suggest you go ahead and book for a fun girls day, we headed over to Escape day spa for pedicures. Charlotte eyes lit up as we entered the spa and she whispered, it’s a REAL spa. Why yes, my dear, they certainly are. Escape offers everything from therapeutic soaks to coffee scrubs but they still treated Charlotte like the princess she is. We took advantage of their relaxation rooms and enjoyed several cups of mint tea before and after our nail service. The spa is truly gorgeous and one of the most relaxing places I’ve ever been. The staff is also friendly and ensures that you receive the pampering experience you expect when booking a high end spa service.

After our nails were fresh and our legs revived from vigorous massage and peppermint oils, we were ready to take on a bit of thrifting and treasure hunting in West Nashville. There is so much to discover in the Charlotte Pike area! We didn’t buy anything, due to our upcoming move, but I definitely found plenty of vintage items to drool over. One shop owner, after discovering Charlotte’s birthday situation, pulled a tray of dainty antique silver rings from a case and allowed her to choose one on the house. I definitely tried to scheme a way to procure the white couch pictured below. But alas, it stayed in the shop for another treasure hunter.

It was quite a day, one that we won’t soon forget. We owe a huge thanks to The Cafe at Thistle Farms and Escape Day Spa for helping us pull off such a meaningful celebration for the sweetest gal in Nashville.

 

» Asleep by 8:00

There were days on this parenting journey that would leave us sound asleep in a child’s bed by 8pm. Those were the days of one more drink of water, one more story or I’m scared of what might be in my closet. After an early morning out the door, a long day of work, a healthy home-cooked dinner and family time there wasn’t much left of us. And so, on most nights, we would find each other sprawled out in a bed, snoring, with a baby or toddler either sitting fully awake on top of the sleeping parent OR completely asleep in a way that we couldn’t risk waking them.

Those days were pretty good and I’m finding that although I enjoy relying on my kids to wipe their own bottoms now…  I long to hear their voices call out with funny made up words and lispy f’s and r’s. Our kids are still young, ranging 6-10, but the baby has all but worn off. They are growing long and lean, with firm calves and arms from dance and soccer. They have budding plans and good friends. They have ideas and projects and personalities.

Lately, we’ve found ourselves falling asleep at 8 and 9pm again. We work so hard to fill the hearts and minds of our children with the things we value as a family. We toss them around to tire out their tireless bodies, because the boys seem to need pure exhaustion to fall into a peaceful sleep. We read the Bible and cook together. We apply essential oils and talk over their days. We pull them close when they are angry, trying desperately to show them that love always trumps anger. We discipline, often, because they are incredibly naughty and have developed some interesting ways of expressing their displeasure with our guidance.

And we question ourselves constantly, understanding that we are molding small people who will become big people in an even bigger world. I’m thankful that we can trust Jesus with our children because we will always fall short!

We fall asleep at 8 and 9pm because we know that these years are so very short. Just as we miss the squishy legs and lispy voices, we will miss ornery 10 year olds who don’t like to put away their laundry but let us brush the hair out of their faces at night and kiss their foreheads. We survive through the valleys and challenges of parenthood so that we can be blessed by the sweet crest of the hill, the tender moments that bind our hearts together.

» The Fight Against Screen Time, Summer Picks, and Giveaway!

We’re only one week into summer and have already called a family meeting to create a schedule. My kids constantly want to play on an iPad or watch Netflix. And I’m starting to annoy myself with my long-winded statements starting with…when I was your age. I wish I had read these summer tips (Boundaries, Routines and Early Bedtimes) from lovewhatmatters.com a few weeks ago. In addition to the great article mentioned above, we’ve added a few specific things to maximize our summer and battle screen time.

HEXBUG

We’ve transformed the year of less into a lifestyle of less. Don’t get us wrong, our kids still want the ‘stuff’ they see in Walmart and Target isles, we’ve just provided jobs around the house to earn money to buy it themselves. My kids have been eyeing Hexbug remote control powered toys, specifically the BattleBots!

Does anyone remember watching this show as a kid on Saturdays? If there’s a sibling quarrel, now we can settle it in the arena! The tiny remotes are so fun and simple to use.

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The kids got things going in no time. In addition to the BattleBots, they loved their BattleGround sets that in some ways, combine BattleBots with Laser Tag. The obstacles can be moved in any design so you can make a unique playing field every time. Also check out AquaBots, remote controlled fish! Perfect for the long lazy days around the pool.

Long Cow

We typically reserve Friday nights for game night but now when it’s blazing hot outside at noon, we like to break out a board or card game. Long Cow is by far one of our brand new favorites. The goal of the game is to build the largest herd of cows. Extra points if you have the longest cow, hence the name of the game. My kids favorite rule in the instruction manual is having to say Your Moooooove when your turn is over.

Gamewright also makes a ton of other games including Tiki Topple, Sushi Go!, Loot, and many others.

Puzzles

Puzzles seem to be a thing of the past. I can’t remember a time in my childhood when we didn’t have a puzzle in progress. I’ve discovered that my kids’ interest in a good puzzle all depends on the art. We recently found these awesome Disney-themed puzzles that are bright, colorful and keep everyone’s attention.

Library

Weekly trips to the library can be therapeutic. We love being a part of the local library’s summer reading challenge and checking out a huge stack of books for the week. Run-ins with friends make things extra fun. Our local library is next to a playground so for us, it’s easy to plan a couple of hours here.

GIVEAWAY (ends June 8, 2018)

Maybe we can help you fight screen time, too! Head over to the Instagram page and enter to win this set. We’re giving away:

(1) BattleBots Rivals Set
(1) Loot Card Game by Gamewright
(1) Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World book by Kristen Welch (this one’s for the moms!)

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