Quite a few people have asked to see pictures of our house – before and after.

And while I LOOOOVE our little house, there are parts of me that are hesitant to bring it public.

Like, when you do that you really make yourself vulnerable.

What if people don’t like my style and think it’s cheezy? Wonder what I think I am, posting pictures of our house? Like, if I post pictures I must think it’s cute but what will people think of that? And, what if people think I’m shallow and self-absorbed if I do a little house tour? What if they don’t like my projects and don’t like me?

But, for the sake of my friends who have asked, and because this house has been such a blessing from the Lord, and an incredible gift to us, I want to share it. Our four years in a rental house where we could not do anything to fix it up was all part of God’s plan, teaching me to be content, and now, everything feels like such a HUGE gift! I am so much more grateful for this house because of having lived somewhere for several years where my hands felt tied. So how can I *not* share what God gave us and what my husband did an amazing job restoring?

Perhaps I should give a little background as to why I love to take time in my home…

Back before I ever got married, I made a list of things that I want my home to be like one day. This is one of them from my
Mission Statement 2003:

“… I have a heart to create a “heaven on earth” for my family: be for my husband the “home of his heart”; wholeheartedly love my husband and support him; love my children; create an atmosphere that promotes intimacy with God and a hunger to grow and learn; prepare my children for their destinies…”

“… I have a desire to serve others in an atmosphere of beauty in my home…”

And I would tell my newly-married husband five years ago that I want him to come home to his throne. :)

So that is why I do what I do in my home… This is not for everyone, but this is for me personally.

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Little House Fun Facts:

– Was built in 1906, so it’s a little over a hundred years old.  Just what Husband and I both LOVE!

-This house was a foreclosure when we bought it. TERRIBLE condition, and thus had been on the market for quite a while.

– Ben bought the house when I was out of state for two weeks, so I never saw it beforehand. He told me about it, of course, but I had to trust his judgment! This is the 3rd house in 2 different states we’ve lived in since we’re married, and I didn’t see any of them before we rented or bought them.

-1300 square foot is what the contract said the house size was. Very small. But I think they forgot to add the room in the back, which would add another 300 sq. ft., but still keeping the size around 1600 square foot.

-hardwood floors throughout the whole house, except tile in the laundry room which we added.

– 5 fireplaces. Yes, five. That is not a typo. One would be fun. Five? Well, it sure looks cute, but it’s been challenging for me to decorate all five without them looking the same, and like I ran out of ideas (which I did).

– 2 bedroom house, and we added a stairway with the intent of adding 1-2 more bedrooms upstairs sometime in the distant future.

-Ben worked for 3 months straight on this house, restoring it, replacing floors, tearing out walls, fixing it up… Can you say ‘genius’?? His work is incredible…

-I have a laundry room INSIDE my house!! Haven’t had that for four years! Excitement reigns!

So that gives you a little bit of background into the house.

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The room I’ll show you today is the living room. You walk in the front door and this is the room you come to.

Before:

Tiny room, tiny doorways, very closed-in feeling. I was seriously
depressed for 3 days
after I saw this place and realized what we were in for!!

the way it looked when I first saw it. the dead of winter and freeeeeezing cold.

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After:

Tore out the bookcase,
tore out the fireplace insert then made the fireplace workable,
tore out two walls,
added the wood beams,
tore off the old brick on the fireplace and had new antique brick installed,
added crown molding,
refinished wood floors…
Still waiting on the fireplace mantel! :)

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new brick on the fireplace

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Ben tore out the wall with the tiny doorway and opened it up, added the beams, I freehanded the verse. I used this font, because I love serving my Jesus and having Him as my Life, and don’t want it to look like a formal, cold  thing!

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looking into the dining room, no peeking!

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by the front door – purse holder, key-catcher…

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When I get started on something, I kind of become a broken record. Here are some

Silhouettes: Take Two

Making pillows this time. Used my same pattern from before on black fabric.

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After it was cut out, I “painted” all the edges with clear nail polish so they wouldn’t fray. There’s probably some “real” stuff to use, but hey, this is what we used to use on pantyhose and it worked to stop runners! Ha!

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Glued it with fabric glue to white pillows I had already made.

Once again, slay me, oh, slay me!

Olivia’s silhouette

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Zoe’s silhouette.
The frames I had before and come from Walmart – $3 each. They’re plastic, but when you group them it hides the cheap look. :)

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And
Canvas Mats: Take Two

See, I kind of get stuck on something and can’t leave.

16×20 stretched canvas – 2 pack at Walmart for $9. These aren’t the greatest quality, because the staples show on the sides rather than being stapled on the underside. But they worked for what I needed them for.

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I painted the sides and on the top a certain width to make my “framed” look. And covered up the staples to where you don’t see them.

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And glued 12 x 15 pictures on top… Cheap frames for such big pictures! Gives it a “drama!” look with the big black edges.

These three pictures are compliments of Claudia Barkman Photography. :)

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I LOOOOVE this poster. I saw it in a magazine and ordered it on Etsy. Isn’t it perfect for a mother with two young children?! There is a cool story behind the poster too, has to do with Britain during WWII and posting these signs all over to keep their citizens from worrying about invasion.

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These numbered pillows inspiration comes from THIS talented woman… She’s just got creativity flowing out of her veins,  I tell you.

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I like the red pop of color against a mostly neutral room. “That really makes a statement!” Husband said. Yes it does! This mom-who-is-sometimes-frazzled needs a statement like that to grab me all day long. :)

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Outdoor greenery brought it. A little hard to decorate this without the mantel in place.

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One of the doorways that got opened up and wall removed.

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So, that’s the living room! Once again,

BEFORE

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and

AFTER!

Bamboo curtain rods are cut from our old backyard.

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Those silhouettes of my daughters flanking the fireplace just are too much for me… okay, okay, enough already! I’ll try to not bring more silhouettes to you in the future! :)

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Rug comes from Craigslist, which comes from Pottery Barn. WHY someone would sell these to buy Persian rugs is beyond my comprehension…

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And that’s the living room.

Cheers if you stuck with me. I didn’t think there would be so many things to even show about the living room!

But didn’t my husband do a PHENOMENAL job?!

I think he’s incredible!

-clarita

 

 

We’ve been living in the new-old house about 6 weeks now. That’s given me time to work on some projects, get the main decor up in the house, and F.I.N.A.L.L.Y.  put the last of my boxes up in the attic. With no boxes sitting around anymore, it finally feels like we are settled in. At home. And wow, does that ever feel good!

I am able to just be at home most of my days, without running what felt like a million different places each week… My kids are able to be on a normal schedule, take normal naps (not just in the car running to and fro), and does that ever make for happy children. They held up very well through the busyness of restoring the house, but now that we’re settled, they are just so happy. Sweet babies. I’m so glad life is a little more normal for them again.

Getting settled in… Sure, there are so many little fun details to add so many different places, but the main house is set up. Ever so fun. Seriously, ever so fun. I’m like a little kid in a playhouse, I tell you. :)

I’ll get an idea and then can hardly sleep until it’s acted upon and up on my wall or wherever it’s supposed to be. Husband laughs at me, because we’re very opposite. I get an idea, I act on it within minutes if possible; he gets an idea, he stores it away for the future. :) It’s good, we balance each other out, and he keeps me from overworking!

This week I’m having time for fun little side projects. And somewhere I got an idea to make silhouettes of my girls for a certain room that was lacking an eye-catcher. And I couldn’t stop smiling, because I saw the finished product in my head and thought it would be soo stinkin’ cute!

So I took some pictures of the process, just in case it turned out. And I’ll let you judge. I’m the mother of the silhouette children here, so my opinion is completely and unashamedly biased. :)

I took a side profile picture of both of them, put it on the computer, then enlarged it to the size I wanted. Then I traced the head shape onto copy paper…

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Zoe is at the age where she is wanting to be involved in every project I do. Sometimes it’s a little much, but I really want her to learn to love to do creative things, and she’s only going to learn that if I let her work with me and make it a fun time…

Olivia doesn’t want to be outdone by her big sister. Even though she is disaster in a 12-month old body when it comes to stuff like this. :)

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Then traced it onto black cardstock paper…

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Then glued it onto these canvas boards. They come 3 in a pack for $6 at Walmart. I used the flat instead of the raised canvas because they were cheaper.

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Nailed these tacks on the back to hang it on the wall, and wound wire around them. Added two on the bottom as well so the whole mat will stand out from the wall and give it more of a 3-D look.

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But then it needed a little edging. The wall is colored, but the white mat board against the wall needed a little “umph” to let it make the statement I was looking for. I looked in my messy attic piles of boxes but I didn’t have 2 – 11 X 14 frames to put them in. And I’m trying to decorate my house with not spending much money at all, so I didn’t want to spend $30 to buy the frames…

So I just taped the edges and painted about 1/3” on the sides and bottom to give it sort of a framed look.

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And put them in the Candy Shop bathroom – it’s the one the girls use. We call it that because of the colors – so many people have walked in and said, “Oh, this looks like a vintage candy shop!” We chose the tile because I wanted a more vintage-y look in there with the clawfoot tub. This room was a mere shell that was part of the laundry room… Before & after pictures another time!

Zoe – age two. Love this so so much. Her open mouth makes it look like she views the world while gaping. Her tousled hair…

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Olivia, age one. Little tiny nose. Little tiny head. Little hair forever falling down across her eyes.

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Can you say darling?? I stood in the bathroom with my hand over my heart after they were hung, making all sorts of ooo-ing and aaaa-ing noises. :)

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Zoe’s finished product. She wanted it right up there with the big girls.

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Slay me, oh, slay me!

Silhouettes of my two girls are more than I can take in cuteness levels!

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Button-nose girlies, do you know how much I love you? Your silhouettes are darling, but YOU are what makes them darling!

And perhaps one day you’ll stand with your hand over your heart, being slain by the cuteness levels of one and two year old silhouetes, thanking me for these heirlooms.

clarita

 

 

 

This is for those of you who have seen biscotti pictures on my blog and asked for the recipe. :)

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There’s no great secret – I just got this recipe online, I think. It takes a little bit of time to make, but oh so worth it! Take it from me – I’m not much of a baker, but I’ve had biscotti on hand almost every single day since November of last year when my friend Bek first sent me some. That’s dedication. My morning fix.

To sit in my living room, surrounded by soft morning light, soft music, soft couch, in the mornings before my children awake, and to sip hot coffee and have a delicious biscotti… Ahhhh, this is the start of a good day!

 

Chocolate Chip Biscotti

2 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
(don’t forget this… like I did once. ruins your batch. :( )
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
(I usually cut in half)
3 eggs
3 Tablespoons amaretto
 (almond flavor, which I omit and add  1 Tbs. vanilla instead because I’m not an almond fan)
1 Tablespoon water (mixed with 1 Tbs. instant coffee if you want mocha biscotti)

Beat butter and sugar in large bowl wih electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add liqueur and water. Gradually add flour mixture.

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1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus 1/2 cup for coating
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

Stir in 1 cup chips and the almonds.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Divide dough into two parts. Spread each half  on a greased baking sheet with floured hands, shaping into a log about 4 inches by 12 inches (this takes a little experimenting to get the shape right: too thin = too flat, but too thick = too fat because it will raise? rise? (someone help me out!)  a bit from the baking powder.) I fit both logs on cookie sheet the short way.

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If it helps you shape them, greased a sheet of wax paper and roll the dough back and forth in that until you get the desired shape. I did this for a long time.

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(I did say two logs. Below is a double batch, just in case you were wondering.)

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Bake approximately 1/2 hour, until the top of the logs are firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool.

(I made big batches, thus the long way on the cookie sheets. I’m really going to confuse everyone…)

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Cut each log with serrated or electric knife into 1-inch thick pieces. Return slices, cut side up, to cookie sheets.

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Bake until the top of slice are firm and hard to the touch. Turn slices over and bake again until cookies are completely dry. Cool on wire racks (or countertops on cookie sheets).

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Side notes: I usually do the second baking overnight on warm or 200 degrees. It never burns that way, and I don’t even have to turn them over.

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Final step: ice and decorate as you desire! The fun part, even though it takes a little time.

I drizzle a bit of olive oil over the chocolate before melting it in the microwave.

You can ice just the bottom…

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… or you can be creative and add fun words or names of boys to send to your sister. :) I used a plastic sandwich bag with the corner cut off for this, since I don’t have all the fancy shmancy baking items.

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Another kind of biscotti with white chocolate.

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And it makes a lovely gift! Leftover chocolate is great for throwing a few strawberries on the plate.

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There are endless options with biscotti. Take the basic recipe and add your favorite cookie flavor: lemon, white chocolate macadamia, orange and cranberry… I also double the recipe all the time – we go through the biscotti so fast around here since both of the girls already ask for it, and I love to give it away.

So there it is, ladies with a biscotti craving! Have fun with it!

 

 

 

Olivia Caroline celebrated her first birthday a few weeks ago. Actually, more like a month ago. I’m still trying to play catchup from the past half year so there are no birthday pictures yet. Actually, not sure if there will be.

But I had been wanting to take her one year pictures sometime. You know how that is – always thinking the next day will be a better time, etc. etc. etc.  I really didn’t know when I was going to do it, since I’ve hardly taken pictures all year and all. And I just got done telling a friend that I’m coming to terms with my amateur photography-ness, and realizing that while I enjoy taking pictures, I sure can’t go professional with it.

[At the same time, I have a lot of PROFESSIONAL photographer friends on xanga and elsewhere, which is somewhat intimidating. But not really. Because if I do it for fun, surely you all are okay with that, right? Me not pretending to be that great and all. And me knowing that you guys really ARE. :) But if you ever have any tips for me, like if I do too much editing, or not enough, or too much sharpening, or too much coloring, blah blah blah,  I REALLYwould like to have your input. I really won’t be offended. :)]

And on top of it all lately, God has really been convicting me of taking TIME with my kids.

The quote, “GOOD IS ALWAYS THE ENEMY OF THE BEST” keeps running through my mind.

Because right now, there are a million good things that I can be doing.

Things like fixing up my little house and making it cozy… Projects, projects, projects. I have an endless list of ideas that I would love to do.

But in just the 3 weeks that we’ve been living here in what was a bare-bones house, I already have found myself short-tempered with my children and soooo exhausted when my husband comes home that I don’t feel like I have energy left for him. NOT GOOD.

I’m trying to learn when those good things are okay (I’m talking projects & doing things) and when I just need to let it go and spend time with my family. Maybe it even means taking a rest in the afternoon so I have more energy for Husband… Today it meant staying home from the pool when a lot of my friends were going. :( That was sad, and I reeeeeeally wanted to go, but I knew my girls needed this afternoon at home because of how our week is planned out after this…

Anyway, all that to say, these pictures were taken on an evening when I was sooooo tempted to stay inside and work on a sewing project – panels for my dining room windows. But it was one of those choices where I knew I had to decide between my family or my projects. And because this has been such a big battle for me lately, I decided to go outside with my girlies and husband.

Was I ever glad I did! These pictures are priceless now. I’ll always have them. And I wouldn’t have remembered the evening if I would have stayed inside with my sewing machine. What kind of companionship is a sewing machine anyway?

The photo-shoot was spontaneously done because of the lovely evening light…

And here is Miss Blueberry Eyes herself… such a precious Lovey.

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Does she have killer eyes or what?!

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The blue chair wasn’t exactly the prop I was thinking inititally. I was thinking “girly-victorian-y” sort of look. But I don’t have anything like that, and this chair fits her personality much better.

Very girl, loves playing with her baby doll and giving it a little bottle, hugs and kisses,  but loves to tear around and be such a monkey. She is a tease, and loves to have a good time. Perhaps more of a tom-boy, as was her mother?

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[Yes, I am aware of the grass on her mouth. But tell me, what one-year old does not put grass in their mouth?]

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At one:

-still crawling, although walking comfortably around furniture

-has 3 teeth

-can still fit into size 1 shoes (!!!!!!!)

-on her birthday she weighed 17 pounds, 15 ounces. She is our petite little one!

-talks a little bit: mama, dada, bye-bye, all duh (all done), da-doo (thank you) tee-ta (kitty cat). Started this darling little thing: “Maaaaaa-ma! Mama! sadfkdhlgk asdnhlkj asldkfjlkdfjd fa GA GA GA.” Calls my attention, jabbers in an unknown tongue for a while, then always ends, “GA GA GA.” I just want to eat her up when she does that. :)

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Blueberry Eyes for sure… Both girls have blue eyes, but Olivia’s are much darker blue than Zoe’s.

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And there is our Sweet Baby. How we do love her!

 

You  may wonder why there are no pictures of Big Sister. Like I was ignoring her or something mean like that.

Well, there are Reasons. Yes, there are.

I thought  she was doing this:

[We have a huge dirt pile in the front yard for beautifying purposes to the yard. Not to the child.]

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When in fact, she was doing this. IN THE FRONT YARD. Did I ever mention we live in town? Well, now I mentioned it. Busy mother so engrossed in Baby #2 that she is completely unaware of Baby #1.

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Yes, the picture is small ON PURPOSE. Blurring is not intentional although photo quality is not the point in this picture. This mother is still mortified. WHAT must the neighbors have thought??

I can just see the headlines in their mind:

“New family moves to town! Mother sprints about the yard that is mostly dirt –  not grass (notes that grass is VERY unmowed as well) –  taking pictures of one child from strange angles while her other necked child races up and down the dirt pile, making sliding boards and jumping gleefully from top of it to the grass below. Make sure to keep a close eye on this new family…”

Sigh.

But goodness, how I laughed after I got over some of the embarrassment… MY CHILD  – doing this in the city?? OMW….

Oh, the life with two kids two and under… :))))))

How I love it
[most days at least!]

Happy Monday!

 

 

 

It’s a beautiful, blitzing-hot day here in the Deep South. 100% humidity, temperatures in the high 90’s… from 10am to 10pm. It is often in the nineties even at 9pm. This is real summertime! And it’s not even July and August yet…

And amazingly, this year I don’t feel like I’m going to die everytime I step outside in the heat, like I did the past 3 years here. Sure, it makes you sweat the second you step outside, even in the morning.

Maybe it’s the public pool across the street that I can look at anytime I feel hot and see all the kids having the grandest time.

But even more maybe, perhaps it’s because we have a house of our own now, and it’s so fun to work on it and do stuff outside that the heat is a side item? We’ll see. You all hold me to it that I don’t get to be a grouch by the end of the summer! :)

The one cool thing this summer heat does is bring sudden thunderstorms. It’ll be a clear-blue sky, sunshiney and bright one minute, and then we’ll suddenly hear thunder. No sign of rain whatsoever, but thunder. And often within 5 minutes, we’ll be in the middle of a DOWNPOUR, thunder scaring the daylights out of unsuspecting people [that would be me. The guy across the street couldn’t stop laughing when I jumped from the thunder surprising me when working out in the yard], lightning dancing…

I love it. Even if I’m not always prepared for it. :)

Reminds me of growing up in the jungles of Belize during rainy season. This is just a small taste of that, but I love it.

My mom would call my sister and me out onto the thatch-roof porch, and we’d sit there with all the jungle-rain wildness pounding down around us. “Let’s go watch the rain!” she’d always say.

And ever since then, I love to watch the rain. There is something so soothing and refreshing and rejuvenating about it. Makes my soul feel washed even as it washes the ground.

Zoe knows it now too. Knows that I’ll say, “Let’s go watch the rain!” every chance we get. Especially now that we have a delicious front porch to watch it on.

Yesterday was one such day. This time I wanted Baby to experience it firsthand.

Ben was home yesterday and Monday with no work. A little scary, not knowing what’s going to happen to us, but we were enjoying the family time together! So I conned him into taking a few pictures of Olivia.

She loved it too. Her little Baby-Giggles made my heart dance!

She would lift her face to the sky, and raise her arms above her head to catch the drip-edge, grinning all the while. It was as if she was thanking Jesus for such a fun time!

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The contrast of baby patties against adult hands just melts me…

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Thunder cracked during our rain-dance. When I first moved here, I couldn’t believe how LOUD the thunder was! Almost the loudest you’ll ever hear!

Ben caught my surprised face on camera. Baby was taking it all in stride.

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I was so thrilled with how delighted she was with it!

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And this picture SLAYS me. Baby Girl, how can you be sooooo beeeeauuuuuutiful??

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________________________________________________________________

Soooo. Ghost writer appears again. Not technically ghost writer, but I’ve almost dropped off the pages of blogland. Do I need to make proper introductions with everyone again? :)

I’ve so enjoying catching up with a lot of you the past few days. For months I hardly spent any time online, and it’s been so fun for me to catch up a bit – so even if I didn’t leave you a comment, it was great to “see” you again!

This past winter was the craziest I’ve ever had. Unexpected circumstances, busy schedules, sick children, myself being sick numerous times… It felt over the top. And any leftover energy I had felt like it needed to go to my family, not to blogging. With fixing up a house, being gone more days a week than staying home, my girls needed to have the best of me, not blogging.

Now? I would love to get back into blogging again. It’s such a great outlet for me, lets me meet all kinds of great people, learn all kinds of great things…

I do wonder when I’ll have time. I can’t spend every afternoon on the computer while the kids are napping, as I did today. So, not promising weekly posts, although sometimes they may come more than once a week.

It’s been good for me to take a break though. Helped me reevaluate who I am as a person, what I blog about when I do blog, question where my identity lies…

I am first of all a Child of the King, and that is what I want to portray first of all in blogging. Whether or not my posts speak of Jesus personally, I want Him to be visible through the message and pictures. I am a woman, and I am God’s woman first of all.

Secondly, I am a wife. My husband rocks. :) In the past few months I have seen more sides of him than in the past almost-5 years of marriage, and I know I am so so blessed! And he is a GENIUS when it comes to woodworking. And many other handyman things! If I ever get some house projects completed around here, I’ll show you what he can do!

[sneak peek: see the butcher block countertop that my husband MADE in the kitchen?? behind the LIVE ginormous magnolia?]

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Thirdly, I am a mother. What an incredible privilege this is for me! Not the most glamorous job description in the world for some people, but I know this is where God has placed me, and I am so thankful! Zoe, or “Sweetie”, age 2, and Olivia, or “Lovey”, age 1, are the delights of my heart. They are the high calling upon me right now, and it is an honor!

Fourthly, there are many things are I love to do – I am a hands-on person! Music, arts, interior design, landscape design, amateur photography… these are just a few. But they are just that – things I DO. They are not who I am.

I am defined first of all by my Jesus, and I live out of that relationship in all aspects of life.

So, it feels a little bit like I’m starting over with blogging. :)

 

My wish for you all and for myself –

that you would experience JOY in the everyday things,
and
that you would FLOURISH just where God has gently placed you…

-clarita

 

 

These were the words of my two year old daughter.

It all began a week before, when Zoe, age two, and her Papa (my dad) were talking on the phone. My phone presently only works on speakerphone mode, so I could hear their entire conversation.

I could scarcely believe my ears though, when I heard my dad say to her, “…And ask Mommy if you could come up to Papa’s house for a week…”

In my head all I saw was this: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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A week! WHAT?!

She’s only TWO. She’s still my baby. I’ve never been away from her for a week.

The situation was this: my mom, sister, and brother were coming to help us paint our little cottage in a couple of days. After they returned home, it would be a week exactly until we saw the rest of my sisters at a wedding out of state. So transportation for Zoe to visit my old home would be perfect, albeit there would be 18 hours of driving for her until we’d see her again.

I mentioned the idea to Ben. Surely he wouldn’t agree to something so outrageous.

We talked about it. Actually, it became a possibility.

Zoe tends to be very cautious. Even as a baby, she would hardly ever have bumps or bruises on her body from falling. She was just that careful. She didn’t walk until 14 months because she wanted to be absolutely sure she could do it perfectly. Her little sister is the opposite – she’s had black and blue marks all over her almost from the start, and she keeps right on tumbling!

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So we’ve talked about it before that we need to watch for opportunities to push Zoe a bit. Present her with ways to develop confidence and courage.

But when it came down to a perfect opportunity like this, I felt like I, the mother, was being pushed far more than my child! Could I really let her go that far away, for so long?

So my mother, sister, and brother came. And I didn’t talk much about her going back with them. Rather hoping the idea would go away.

It didn’t.

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The night before they left to return home, I mentioned the idea to Zoe. She was excited about it, but I told her that Daddy and I still need to talk about it. We’re still not sure what’s going to happen.

Meanwhile, we talked. Yes, she can go, we decided. This is a great opportunity for her to spend time with my family whom she rarely sees, we said. And this will push her out of her comfort zone a bit, we kept saying, trying to convince ourselves that we could do this!

So the next morning I called her into her bedroom, where I was gathering some pieces of clothing together.

“Sweetie, do you still want to go to Pennsylvania with Nana?” I asked.

“But, you’re very going to miss me!

You’re very going to cry!”

Zoe said to me, with a greatly concerned look on her face.

‘Very’ is her favorite word these days.

And she wrapped her soft little arms around my neck and hugged me tight. I choked back the lump in my throat. She’s concerned about me?? More worried about me than about being gone that long??

Then she suddenly released her tight hold and leaned back to look me in the eye.

“I want to go!” she said, nodding her curly head.

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Then I explained to her how she would be gone for seven days – 7 naps and 7 nights, and how she would see all the aunties and uncles and Papa and Nana, and have a lot of fun, and how she needs to tell them when she needs to go potty  [and other motherly instructions], and then after that we would see her!

She understood, and was very aware of all that was happening.

And I strapped her in the carseat in the back of Nana’s car, kissed her lots of times, told her “I love you! I’m going to miss you!” a hundred times.

I tried hard to be brave, but I couldn’t help the couple of tears that squeezed out of my eyes. My little girl is growing up too fast!

And I waved goodbye until I couldn’t see the car anymore…

I called Ben and cried some more.

Then I sat down in a little quiet house, with the remaining baby sleeping, and really cried.

You’d think it’s the two year old that is crying as she says goodbye.
But oh no, it’s her mother that’s a weeping, teary mess!

Letting go.

Already. I thought that would be when she’s eighteen or something. Not two. Gracious, not two.

How my heart struggles against that. I want her to stay close to Ben and me so we can always know where she is, and so we can protect her, and keep her safe.

I KNEW my family would do their best to take care of her. And that she would have a wonderful time there. It’s just that I can’t be right there with her too.

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Husband and I were talking later… How we feel like we can care for her when we’re right there. And when we’re not right there, I can get so freaked out…

The road.

The pond.

The many cars.

So many potential dangers for a curious two year old!

Learning to trust God in a brand new way as I said goodbye to my daughter.
Asking God to watch and keep her with the many hours on the road.
Asking Him to protect her precious, beautiful life.
Realizing He is a far better Guardian and Protector than Ben or I could ever be.

It’s been a long week without my little Zoe-girl.

I miss our little naptime cuddles and sweet-talks.
I miss her chatter and funny sayings that keep me laughing all throughout the day.
So many little things that only she can bring to our lives.

It’s made me realize, BIG-TIME realize, how much I LOVE being a mother.

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Sometimes, in the everyday-ness of life, things seem rather mundane, uneventful, unexciting.

I remember my adventurous days of singleness, and while I’ve never regretted for one moment the decision to have children, I loved my life back then. Life now can sometimes seem far less than glamorous.

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I feel like I get lost sometimes inbetween dirty diapers, taking a two-year old potty, and dirty laundry.

But in a week like this, I’m reminded of this:

I AM SO BLESSED.
And,
I LOVE MY LIFE
.

No, life may not be that “glamorous” and “exciting” and “adventurous” as it once was, but it is BEAUTIFUL.

These days of dirty diapers and dirty laundry are also days of

loving,
laughing,
giving,
exploring,
hugs,
baby kisses,
purity and innocence,
enjoying little gifts and simple pleasures,
teaching precious children about Jesus,
swing rides,
visits to the park,
cuddling sleepy babies,
fulfilling a dream.

Really, what’s not to love?

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Thank you, Jesus, for my beautiful life

And, I am ever so excited.
Because, tomorrow, I get to have Zoe back again!

Cheers to a happy weekend!

-clarita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday.

A bit busy.

Okay, a LOT busy.

But it’s been a rather typical day around here the past couple of weeks, especially since I’ve started with painting the house.

This was
YESTERDAY.

This post is dedicated to my mother, who asks me daily, “So, what did you get done today?” :)

[and this is long. my family is probably the only ones who will read it!]

– Day begins at 6:30. Got up with Olivia, fed her a bottle, put her back to bed

– stayed up. My day started with hot coffee and biscotti along with some quiet time

– checked my email and a few other internet sites

-chatted with a sister on facebook for about 2 minutes

-did 2 loads of laundry

-hung laundry out to dry on the washline

– Zoe woke up; fed her breakfast

-packed lunch to take to the Park House (what we call the new house because it’s across from a park, and that way Zoe knows which house we’re talking about)

-called Sonya to ask if she had a baby walker, since Olivia gets so bored in her playpen

-fed the cats

-Olivia woke up; fed her breakfast

-made a final grocery list (somehow thought I was going to go shopping for that yesterday but it never happened. Today we were down to using Zoe’s candy-flavored toothpaste for everyone, and down to the last roll of toilet paper.)

-loaded up the car, buckled 3 of us in

-stopped at a kid’s consignment shop on the way into town, bought a very dated walker thinking Olivia may be better entertained

-buckled the 3 of us back in the car

-stopped at Sugar & Spice Bake Shop and picked up donuts for the guys working at the house

-Zoe promptly eats 4 donut holes and is too full for any lunch

-Got to the Park House and unloaded diaper bag, lunch, Zoe’-s toys, Olivia’s walker, and both girls

-changed into paint clothes

-measured all the windows in the house so Mom can check @ the Habitat ReStore in Pennsylvania for plantation shutters.

-Ben mixed a 5-gallon bucket of trim paint for me. I organized my paint supplies.

-Talked with a sister for a few minutes.

-I forgot my paint flip-flops. Go barefoot in a FILTHY house rather than risk dripping paint on my pink flips.

-Zoe had to go potty. No toilets in the house, so we go behind a tree in the backyard. :/

-Lunchtime! Zoe is still full from 4 donut holes.

-introduce Olivia to the walker. There is no connection, no chemistry. Bummer.

-begin painting one of the four old beadboard ceilings by hand – again. Neck-breaking work. I need a chiropractor.

-move to bathroom #2 because a worker cleaning a brick fireplace in the room adjoining bathroom #1 is making too much dust.

-2nd coat of paint in bathroom #2. 2nd color too. So hard to get the “vintage aqua” look that I want. Still not settled on the color…

-begin caulking beadboard ceiling in bathroom #2.

-Olivia is grouchy. Try to settle her down. Carry playpen across the house so she can see me caulk. Exciting.

-Zoe needs to go potty again. Not the “squat by the tree” kind. The “Dairy Queen” kind. Both girls and I buckle up in the car and go 1/2 mile to DQ.

-Zoe heads straight for the restroom. She knows this place. Mission accomplished. Should be okay until it’s time to go home now.

-bought a dish of chocolate ice cream. After being in DQ daily for the past 1.5 weeks, I was feeling guilty for not being a customer and so bought something to compensate.

-buckled up in the car for the 4th time. Olivia is tired, so I explore little neighborhoods with the car until Zoe told me that Baby was sleeping. Zoe drips ice cream all over her.

-we go back to the Park House. Zoe plays outside in the dirt piles and with the water hose.

-Olivia wakes up. Zoe feeds her crackers outside the bathoom door to keep her happy. Carseat is covered in cracker-goo.

-Zoe pours shovel-fulls of sand over my toes as I caulk. Wearing my pink flip-flops now rather than get such dirty feet. Now have dirty flip-flops.

-I caulk some more. Ceiling is 2/3 completed and my neck feels terrible. Caulk gun messes up before I can finish the ceiling. Man. I so badly want to finish SOMETHING!

-Started painting ceiling in bathroom #2, but stopped because I forgot it first needs to be sanded. Start cleaning up paint supplies.

-Olivia is hungry. I feed her a bowl of yogurt.

-Zoe is playing outside with the water hose, taking off her shirt because she needs to “wash my tummy.” I check on her, then turn and run, shrieking as she turns the hose full-blast on me. Zoe soaks her remaining clothes on the bottom half.

-load everyone up in the car. Zoe is stripped down to her birthday suit. I hoped desperately I wouldn’t be stopped on the way home by a policeman and have to explain… Talk to mom on the way home. No luck with the plantation shutters.

-arrive at home. Unload the car and kids. Change the kids. Shower. Microwave leftovers for supper. Ben comes home and cleans up.

– we all load up in the truck this time. Is this the 6th time to buckle us all in? 6 times X 3 people each time = 18 buckles up and 18 buckled out. Whew. We take Zoe over to Aunt Sonya’s house  – thank you Sonya! – then the three remaining of us head an hour away to B. to pick out tile. Tile man starts Wednesday and we need supplies.

-hit Home Depot first, check out their tile selection, then go to Lowe’s (1/2 mile away) and inspect their tile department; return to Home Depot. Give Olivia a bottle.

-walk around Home Depot for 2.5 hours, carrying Olivia the whole time (why didn’t I get a cart??). 2 construction carts and a whopping bill later, we check out at 9:30 pm.

-load up once more. Ben takes me by the Starbucks drive-through. Awwwwwww. Drive a hour home. Pick up Zoe after 11pm. Arrive at home about 11:30……………

And we call it a DAY!

Other than the evening trip out of town, that pretty much comprises my days right now…

Except TODAY it went like this:

-a morning that consisted of sleeping in, quiet time, feeding the girls breakfast, teaching a piano lesson.

-an afternoon that consisted of a very sweet friend who came to my house for the afternoon and watched my girls so I could go work at the house for a few hours.

-an evening where my husband was involved in a church event, and I went back out to the house and tried yet another  trial color on the exterior of the house so we can give a final answer to the painter. Is this the 4th color? Hmmm, I think so. Poor painter. I went grocery shopping with the girls.

THAT is the kind of day I prefer. :)

Meanwhile, in the midst of the busy lives we have at the moment, I take a few moments now and then to daydream about what it will be like to live in the new house, and stay at home ALL DAY for days on end, just puttering around with my little projects and gardens and children…