Progress Over Perfection + Some House Pics

If you know me or have read my blog for very long you probably know we’ve been remodeling an 1860s farmhouse for the last five years. Five years in and we’re still not done but we’ve made tons of progress and feel like we’ll be totally finished in the next year or so. Hallelujah.

I’ve thought often of sharing pictures of our home and the work we’ve done along the way but always hesitate and delete any drafts with these projects. Yesterday I was thinking again about sharing some before and after photos and finally put my finger on why I always back out: Intimidation.

The world is so stinking visual these days. Which is awesome and I love all the beauty we’re surrounded with as much as anyone. But when it comes to actually sharing your own imperfect home and life in an equally imperfect photo, it’s easy to chicken out and hide behind the more talented faces and photographers out there.

But I’ve decided that’s silly and I’m over it. My photos and projects aren’t going to compare to a lot of what you see on Instagram or Pinterest but I think I’m finally okay with that. I’ll do the best I can and hopefully learn some things along the way too.¬†IMG_20180218_081555_117.jpg

I have this photo of our home when we first bought it hanging in our living room; it reminds me of where we started, where we’ve been, and how far we’ve come. It’s a good reminder on the days when I get frustrated with unfinished projects and all the messiness and imperfection that will always be a part of this life. I need to remember sometimes that we’ve learned a lot and accomplished a lot these last five years and I’m excited to finally start sharing some of that with you too. After all, there was a time when our house looked like this so things are definitely looking up (and I’m not kidding when I say fixer upper!).

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I’m starting with something small, the mudroom/entryway because, apart from our daughter’s nursery, it’s one of the few rooms that’s actually almost 100% done (there’s always that almost ūüėČ )

When we first moved in, this place was not at all done. It was kinda a hot mess. In our hurry and also being super broke by that point, a lot of stuff was finished as quickly and cheaply as possible even if it wasn’t what we were really dreaming of when we started. We were also both pretty burnt out by that point and just wanted to get stuff done and behind us.

Now that we’ve lived here for almost three years, we’ve started to put our finger on what we love and what we’d still like to change. The mudroom/entryway was one of the first things we completely redid. The picture of Darren with Roman in his coat (lol) shows what the entryway looked like for the first year in our house. We painted it a beige-like yellow, put a white shelf up and hung a metal bar for coats and that was that. It was pretty ugly and not that functional but I didn’t really have an ideas for improvement at the time.¬†FB_IMG_1518980035424.jpg

Then we spent a few days at a rental in Quebec a couple of years ago and the entryway there totally inspired me. It was so simple but perfectly functional too—a pallet wall, hooks for coats, and a bench for seating and storage. Before we left I started planning with Darren how we could make our own mudroom look like the one there.

We researched pallet walls on Pinterest and Darren used rough-cut boards to lay it out. He stained the wood all different shades to get the look we wanted then nailed the boards to the wall. We added black hooks for coats and bags and a bench to sit on and store stuff in. We chose a blue/gray paint—the darker color is a lot easier to keep looking clean in a high-traffic area and I love how it contrasts with the white trim. The area is really small but it still works perfectly for our needs: A place to sit and put on shoes, hang bags and coats on our way in and out, and storage for shoes and hats and such in bins under the bench. There’s also a place for keys and mail in the wire rack on the wall. It’s never this clean unless I’m taking a picture and usually has the carseat and stroller jammed in the corner, just so you know ūüôā

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Across from the mudroom is the entrance into the garage. We used a piece of wood leftover from the original 1860s house for the shelf and just added the brackets underneath to hang it. The mirror reflecting the light from the window makes the small space look bigger and brighter and I love these curtains for that same reason—they give a little privacy but also allow for a ton of sunlight.

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Even though these are just small nooks used mostly for coming and going, it’s also the first thing you see when you walk into the house so I’ve really enjoyed having it cleaned up and decorated in a way I love and that helps keep this drop area a little more organized than before.

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Anyway, I’m curious to know if you’d like to see more posts like this sharing our remodel and projects? I’m thinking of doing one a month if you’re interested so tell me what you think!

I’ll Be Outside

It was 70 here Tuesday and Wednesday—70 degrees and a warm breeze in February is pure magic if there is any such thing in the world. The kids and I spent almost all of both days outdoors—Roman in the mud, Aletheia on a blanket with the wind curling her soft baby hair, and I chasing the sunshine around the porch and yard and breathing so, so deeply for the first time in months; I felt almost like myself for a minute.

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After we got the kids in bed Wednesday, I stood in front of the mirror and stared at my reflection for a moment; “I know that girl,” I thought. My hair, normally pulled up tight (to keep my daughter’s hands out of it) was a tad windswept with a couple shorter locks in the front framing my face. There was dirt on my flowy white shirt from playing with my son—a bit wild and untame—like the landscape, like the weather.

IMG_20180221_162934_494.jpgI spent a good bit of time Wednesday surveying our yard and dreaming up plans to clean things up and landscape it into something really beautiful this spring. Five years ago when we bought this place, both the house and yard were in complete disarray. While we’ve made huge gains on both, the yard and wooded tree line have certainly lagged behind.

Darren spent the fall building a rock wall out of fieldstone that will wrap around a patio area by the backporch. Right now that whole area is a mud pit (Roman’s favorite place….he will be so sad when we clean it up). We plan to finish the wall and patio this spring, add a fence around the backyard to keep the kids in sight and away from the road and dream of nights with friends around a campfire under the stars, grilling out, letting the kids play in a green grassy yard, and swinging on the porch swing in the sunshine.IMG_20180222_142957_295.jpgLast summer, while my family was here waiting for our daughter’s birth, my dad worked tirelessly on our tree line—removing brush, trimming trees, and opening the area up into a beautiful park-like look instead of an overrun jungle. Roman still talks about helping papa with the trees and I still love looking out my kitchen window at the area he cleared. But there’s still so much to do and I’m chomping at the bit waiting for warm weather so I can get outside and start working.IMG_20180222_143314_684.jpgI have plans for a small vegetable garden, a clothesline to let our laundry dry in the sun, and a sandbox for Roman to replace the mud he loves. We will be finishing and screening in our backporch so I’m watching for just the right pieces to turn it into a cozy little boho, plant-loving, Persian-rugs-everywhere corner where we can sit and soak up the breeze and sunshine (and hide from the bugs—I forgot about the bugs until they woke back up with the warm weather).

IMG_20180222_143114_009.jpg{Baby feet and chubby thighs forever please}

It snowed yesterday and today and we are back to the white winter landscape we know to expect this time of year in New England. Darren is home today and I came downstairs this morning to a fire in the fireplace and a baby asleep in his arms. As I write these words and sip my hot coffee, I’m reminded that everything will be okay, will keep moving forward, changing and growing—me, the weather, my kids, even the yard. None of us are done yet and that’s okay.

20180221_170753.jpg {On our walk to the lake Wednesday}

I know this isn’t my normal kind of post. But the truth is, I wasn’t planning on sharing anything today. I’ve felt so weary and dreaded the thought of writing yet again about struggles and learning. I know the challenges of this particular season of motherhood will pass. I know winter too will pass, and sooner than it feels right now. But while I’m in the thick of it, it’s hard especially in my writing which tends to be so honest, to pretend all is right and well. So rather than complain and turn this space into something dark and dreary, I’m tempted not to write at all until this period of baby blues and winter weather is a memory.

But for today, I’ll meditate on the goodness—the warm breeze in February, the dreams enlivening my sometimes weary heart, and the hope for tomorrow. Things will get better; I know they will. And until they do, I’ll be over here pulling weeds both in my heart and in my backyard, dreaming of sunshine, and looking for a reflection I recognize in the mirror.

 

Baby Girl’s Wildflower Nursery

1495046273730I’ve been horrible about sharing photos of our house remodel– mostly because there are still things throughout the house I would like to finish before sharing pictures. But we did finally 100% finish a room with baby girl on the way¬†so I thought I’d share some photos of her sweet little wildflower nursery ‚̧

IMG_20170513_071931_233IMG_20170513_071903_940Prepping the room with fresh paint and clean carpet (this was Roman’s room before so it needed some love after him ūüėČ ).

IMG_20170513_071508_774Eight months pregnant and painting ūüôā I’ve felt very relaxed about this baby until recently but something about realizing she’ll be here in less than two months has me hustling and acting like a crazy person trying to get everything ready.

IMG_20170521_170933_614IMG_20170521_164557_037IMG_20170521_165211_326IMG_20170522_070619_198This has always been my favorite room in the house with all its natural light and views of the field across the way. It was the perfect spot to rock Roman asleep and now I look forward to sitting in that same sunny corner rocking my baby girl and introducing her to this lovely wildflower world.

IMG_20170521_164310_118IMG_20170521_170739_277Her¬†first toy– Roman’s was a little white cat from the same company ‚̧20170519_073532A closet full of tiny, girly clothes ‚̧IMG_20170521_164911_130IMG_20170522_070835_055IMG_20170521_165034_047I pinned some of the art back when I was expecting Roman but before I knew if I was having a boy or a girl. It was fun going back and getting some of the stuff I’ve loved for years but had to wait for my baby girl to need ‚̧

Chasing the Light

Yesterday¬†I woke to the most magical morning light; golden fingers dancing across autumn leaves¬†lit the day with fire.¬†I don’t like peeling out of bed in the morning—the covers are so warm and the world so cold—but I would wake with the dawn any day to catch the¬†world clothed in amber.

Today the morning sky blushed in pink—deeper and richer shades melted into each other until the sky reached a grand finale of gold.

I suppose I didn’t notice the morning sky before we moved here—the trees blocked my view or perhaps the house faced the wrong direction. But here, in this house we’ve worked so hard on for these last two years, I feel like I’m dancing in a painting as the sun comes glistening across the field and, for a moment, every leaf and blade of grass drips in glitter.

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I have thought many times over the last few weeks, that perhaps God knows me quite well and hand-picked this small corner of the earth for me. I feel as if this picture I’m dancing in were painted by him, etched out by his finger and left as a package waiting to be opened with each new day.

I grew up in the wide open prairies and often I have missed the grassy fields and endless spaces. Here, an open field sits directly across from us and I always think as I watch the light dancing through the tall grass that it looks very much like the home my heart knows. A row of maples stands at the back of the field and before their leaves gave way, they stood together in red and orange and gold. Now the leaves are gone but evergreens stand behind the¬†bare maples and oaks and make the view out my window look always a little green—green—such an important thing to my soul.

So I see God in this place—in the grassy field, and colorful maples…in the evergreens and the fog rising from the wetlands like feathery magic lacing through the trees.

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It’s not so bad waking up and facing a new day, a new challenge, or even the same monotony if you can at least start that day with the fresh, brand new morning light.

God is light and I see his fingers painting light all around me, ever reminding me that he is there—he is here—with me always.

When You’re Disappointed

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June 1st…today is the day we said we would definitely be moved into our house…only we’re not. I didn’t expect building a house would teach me so many lessons about life. One of those lessons being that no matter how hard you try, sometimes some things are just out of your hands. ¬†I say similar words to my son all the time when he’s fussing about wanting something he can’t have or throwing a fit about doing something he doesn’t want to:

“You can’t always have what you want.”

“Life doesn’t always work out as you would like.”

“Sometimes the answer is no.”

Life lessons for a 10 month old and life lessons for his much older mama too.

Today I read something on Facebook from a friend who is making a big life decision. She said she and her husband have never sought to change where they are but have chosen rather to be content in whatever place they’re in for however long they’re there. If God moves them–as he several times has–so be it, they will go. But the idea of choosing contentment over constantly seeking something more, something different, that stuck with me–especially on a day I have long counted down to and am now disappointed by.

For a lot of years now, I’ve been in control of my life. I went to school just as I had planned. Married the man I loved just as I had hoped. We bought a home. Worked. Traveled. Had a baby. Everything was moving along just as I had intended–I was in control–or so I thought. I’m pretty sure now that if anything will teach you you’re not in absolute control, it’s having construction underway and a baby at the same time ;]

This post probably sounds grumbly but honestly I don’t mean it that way. Today is a day I looked forward to for a long time and it didn’t end up as I had hoped. But I’m fine. I’m much better and more okay with the situation then I ever expected, actually. God is working in me and he’s chosen to use this silly house over and over again to teach me lessons about himself and about myself.

Sometimes life requires that you get up and do and sometimes life requires that you be still and wait; both can be hard but both are able to teach us so much we can’t learn any other way.

So today, on this rainy June 1st, I’m learning to live where I am and to be content in this place until God decides to move me. I’m not in control–thankfully, I know who is.

Thanks.

Just wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who took the time to respond and share your thoughts with me on my last post.  I feel much better now about sharing photos of our house remodel going forward so thanks again :]

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Inspiration vs. Jealousy

If all goes as planned {and it never does}, we’re supposed to be moving into our house this summer. After years of looking for the right place, saving money, and now two years of rebuilding and remodeling–we’re finally almost there.

IMG_20150310_195322{“Um guys, this house doesn’t look super done.”}

But as I think about moving, I’ve been thinking too about how much I should share here and elsewhere on social media when it comes to the details of our new home. There’s a big part of me that wants to take lots of pictures and include people in this journey {especially those of you who’ve¬†already been following¬†the bits and pieces I’ve shared along the way}. But there’s an equal part of me that’s unsure if sharing is really the right thing to do.

Here’s why:

We’ve all heard about and dealt with the jealousy that comes with watching someone else’s life via social media. We talk about it, read articles about it, complain about it, and deal with it in our own lives–jealousy. People’s lives can look so perfect and put together on Facebook when the mess has been cropped out of the background and the right filter makes everyone look tan. You’ve done, I’ve done it, and we all kind of know everyone else is doing it too–but still, we see those pictures sometimes and think, “They get everything. My life sucks.”

I remember feeling this way on Valentine’s Day when Darren was helping our new renters move into the apartment we had just remodeled {unexpectedly, right in the middle of our house remodel} and so I didn’t get any roses or get to go out to dinner and spent that whole day feeling very, very, VERY sorry for myself. And rather than be a grownup and stay away from social media for the day, I instead scrolled through Facebook and Instagram and envied all the pictures of flowers, and date night, and all those freaking people who were so stupidly in love… ;]

So I worry that by sharing pictures of our home, people are only going to see the end product of years of work and envy us or think we get everything handed¬†to us¬†while they struggle along. People don’t see the work and stress and everything that’s gone into making this dream of ours come true–I know that because I know I look at other people’s lives and pictures the same way–I see one picture and one moment and don’t know or consider the rest of the story leading up to that one happy, enviable moment.

So, is it right to share only the pretty bits and pieces of a much bigger story and perhaps by doing so create feelings of envy along the way? I realize I can’t control how other people react–someone else’s jealousy is ultimately, their problem. But still, I don’t want to be one of those people on social media who overshares.

And then there’s privacy. My home is where I live, where my baby lives, it’s the most intimate space I inhabit. So should it then be shared publicly? Though I’ve blogged for years, I’ve felt much more private and unsure of sharing ever since Roman was born. There is something about knowing you are totally responsible for another person’s life that makes you stop and think a little bit harder about everything you do–including how much you share about them on social media. So I wonder now if it’s safe or smart to share our home in a space like this or if it’s better left off the internet and kept private just for us.

Those are the cons, but I see some pros too…

I get so much inspiration and enjoyment from seeing how and where other people live. My favorite blogs are by people who share their homes and lives and invite you in. Yes, sometimes on a bad day, I’ll see someone else’s home or life on a blog and envy them. But for the most part, I just enjoy reading stories and seeing pictures of how other people live. I’ve gotten so much inspiration for our own home by seeing the ideas of others and I would be really disappointed if¬†these people decided to stop sharing. This makes me want to share pictures of my own home and life {even if it’s just a fragment of the whole story} and invite people in {even if it’s just through a word or picture}.

So I’m asking you sincerely, what do you think? Do you think it’s¬†right to share put together pictures of our not-so-put together lives? Is it safe or smart to share a place as intimate and private as my home on the internet when I can’t control who will then know where I live? Do you like seeing other people’s homes and lives or does it just lead to envy and frustration?

Seasons.

Life is full of seasons, made up of seasons. There are seasons of abundance and joy and dry seasons when the soul is weary and parched. It reminds me of the land I grew up on in Missouri and the way we talked about the weather like it was money–because rain, too much¬†or too little of it, could mean everything to a successful crop and harvest.

This winter season feels like the longest I’ve ever experienced. I usually declare it spring as soon as we’ve poked our toes across the line into March but there doesn’t seem much point in doing that this year with the snow still falling and forecasted as far out as we can see.¬†This winter has been made up of long days cooped up in the house taking care of a baby and long nights waiting for Darren to get home from work and class.¬†And I’m starting to feel a little parched, dried up, in need of some cleansing rain.

I’ve been discouraged, tired, overwhelmed. I’m ready to be done with winter, done with house remodeling, done with busy days that keep my little family from being together and enjoying each other.

I want to quit.

But I remembered yesterday, that life is made up of seasons–seasons of abundance and dry seasons without rain.

This discouragement, this weariness, this wanting to give up and walk away–this is just a season without rain. Seasons change. Winter, no matter how stubborn, always gives way to spring. The flowers always poke¬†through, even¬†if they must first poke up through the snow.

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I’m thankful that seasons come and go, ebb and flow in¬†and out of life like the tide. I’m thankful that the longest, darkest night always gives way to¬†dawn.¬†But I’m even more thankful that right in the middle of the dark and dry spells, there is water and light and hope. There is God. And God doesn’t change, he doesn’t ebb and flow or fluctuate.¬†I don’t need my life or circumstances to change in order to be refreshed–I can be refreshed right here¬†in the desert by a God who always brings light and hope and renewal.

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Soon, the snow will melt. I will feel the sunshine on my skin and be able to go outside and stretch my legs. I can’t wait. But until then, I’m using these cooped up winter days to find the light and rain I need in my soul. This season will pass. I will look back at this winter and these first months as a mother and see this¬†time I’m now in from a different vantage point. I have to remind myself of that–that this is a season. No matter how overwhelming a day or¬†period may be, it will pass, it will change. And even when I’m in the middle of a long, discouraging stretch without change, God is always the same–always present, always renewing, always what my parched soul truly needs for actual, lasting change.

You Can Grow Here

grow instaYou can grow from the rock, you can grow anywhere.

We own a duplex and live in one half while we rent out the other half. It’s small and cozy and the place we’ve called home for the last four years. I always wanted to move before having a baby because it seemed pretty ambitious to fit even one more thing in such a small space—especially a baby and all the crazy equipment babies come with these days.

I thought my plan was going to work out beautifully. We bought our fixer-upper over a year ago and even when I found out I was pregnant last fall, I still thought for sure we would be all moved and settled before the baby arrived. I was wrong. First we said it would be ready in the spring. Then we said it would be ready by the end of the summer. Now I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping we make it in by the end of the year.

And so sometime in the next few weeks we will bring our little baby home to the house I always said was too small for such things. It’s amazing how you can adapt and change as life and circumstances require you to do so. Somehow we have managed to make room for our little guy—a bassinette tucked in the corner by our bed, a small dresser for all his things against the last bare wall in our room, the living room rearranged to accommodate a rocker, swing, and bouncer all three, the stroller folded up against the door we don’t use, and cabinets emptied and rearranged for bottles and bibs and all his tiny foreign things. It’s tighter and more crowded than ever before and yet somehow, a little to my own amazement still, we have found a way to make it all work. As this little guy takes up more and more room in our hearts, so we have found a way to make room for him in our little home too.

It’s funny how this lesson has had to repeat itself so many times over in my life. Perhaps I’m a slow learner. I always think things have to be just so or they simply can’t be¬†at all. But I have seen again and again that life is fluid and we must be flexible if we’re to survive the ebb and flow of things beyond our control. If you had told me nine months ago that we would be bringing our baby home to this crowded little house, I would have been frustrated and certain it couldn’t work. And yet here we are—hospital bags packed, tiny clothes washed and tucked away, ready to bring this baby back to the only place we can really call home right now.

And you know what? It will be fine. We’ll be fine. The baby will be fine. Nothing will be ruined even if things have worked out so differently from how I had planned. It’s just another step in this journey that will continue to unfold with or without our permission.

I’m sure being a new mother and learning how to care for a child will be much the same way—not at all how I think it will be or should be and yet we will grow and change and learn along the way how to do what’s before us—however imperfect it may sometimes seem.

Learning to Fly

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A momma bird decided to build her nest and raise her flock of five fuzzy birds in the rafters of our new house. We check in on them each time we’re at the house and have watched them progress from eggs, to little fuzz balls curled up asleep, to little fuzz balls peaking curiously over the nest and showing off their big yellow beaks. I about die from the cuteness and hope our own baby bird has a fuzzy head of hair like theirs.

Darren is holding off siding that part of the house until the baby birds have left the nest because he doesn’t want to hurt them. His heart is as deep and wide as the sea and I love the glimpses I get of the father he will be in the thoughtfulness he has for all living things.

darrenWhen Darren isn’t melting my heart caring for baby birds, he is terrifying me doing guy stuff like this—wiring the house by standing on a chair…on two planks…over the stairway…after he ripped two fingers open doing other such nonsense. He is excellent training for a man child.

card{Darren’s first Father’s Day card—it perfectly describes everything I love about him}

Speaking of baby birds, ours is almost here–we’re three weeks out from game day, or so we hope.

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This is my belly; it’s gigantic. I don’t know how many weeks along I was in this picture and I don’t think it really matters anymore. The other day an old man in the grocery store commented on my belly and wanted to know when I’m due. I told him next month and he said, “Oh, you’re not big enough to have a baby next month.” Well done old man, well done; there’s a reason you’ve lived so long ;]

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This is baby’s spot in our room until we move and have a nursery. I have a little canopied area set up by our bed with his bassinette—I call it his “baby throne” because that’s what it looks like to me with the canopy and lights and fanfare :]

What a bunch of rambling this post is; sorry. I leave you with some favorite lines from Victor Hugo:

“Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.”

As I think about having this baby in the next few weeks, I often recount these lines and think I know how the birds feel when they must leap from the nest and find their wings. I hope I can fly.