I’m Starting To Take This Personally…

Ok.  Enough is enough.  “I’m starting to take this personally,” is what I said to my sister when she called to see if Josh and I decided where to celebrate my upcoming birthday (on Valentine’s Day).   “What?” She asked confused.  “What are you starting to take personally?”

“THAT I CAN’T SEEM TO MANAGE GETTING HIRED AS A SERVER ANYWHERE!”
This is probably the most embarrassing…most frustrating sentence I’ve ever had to say or to write and especially to post for the world to see! … and, I shouldn’t say “anywhere”, but at least all the places I’m choosing to apply.

I’ve been waiting tables for close to 20 years.  Never, ever, never have I had a problem finding a job.  The scenario goes like this:  I pick a restaurant I want to work at (preferably one that is busy with higher check averages), I walk into the chosen restaurant, I ask for an application, I sit down and fill out said application, I ask to speak to a manager when I’m finished, they usually interview me right then and there, and then hire me.  Easy peasy.  So, you can imagine my dismay and confusion when time after time, restaurant after restaurant, it doesn’t pan out!

“We’ll keep your application on file and give you a call when something comes up, “.  Translation: “We will stick this in a drawer or a file folder or the trash and never call you, ever.”

“Our hiring manager isn’t in right now, you should call back on ____ day and ask to speak with them.”  Translation: “You should call back, but when you do, the manager in question will be too busy to take your call and never call you back; regardless of how many times you call.”

“We’ll give you a call at the end of the week to set something up or to tell you if you got the job.”  Translation: “We will not being calling you at all, and we really hope you don’t call us or show up here again.”

What is happening??  I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone!  I have experience, I’m well spoken, I can spiff up when I want to and peel out of my yoga pants ;),  I have a college education, I have fantastic references…what is the deal?!?!!?!

The only thing I can do at this point is keep trying and hopefully, something will come through eventually.  I have been extremely blessed that I’ve been able to stay home with the wee ones for the past year, getting us all settled in to our new life up north.  I had hoped on being settled in the red house before I started looking for a job, BUT, life doesn’t always go as planned.  The good thing is that while living with my mom, I have a pretty ready available sitter when need be!

So, life, you temperamental companion, you’ve thrown another curve ball!  Now my task is to see how I can use this to my benefit and also try to consider how God might be seeing the predicament as a means to bring me closer to Him.

We are, in this journey, all thrown curve balls from time to time.  The severity of the curve varies, for sure, but I believe it is essential to personal growth and success that we approach the wierd, heartbreaking, frustrating, hurtful, or confusing turns with the knowledge that each one has the capacity to turn broken into beautiful.  I try not to look at these obstacles as a force bringing me down or pushing me further from where I imagined I would be.  But it’s so easy to do this, isn’t it?  Because you feel the push, you feel the slide, you see your goal slipping further into the horizon.

The disappointment of my recent job search “failings” have definitely come with feelings of embarrassment, confidence loss, uncertainty, and inadequacies.  And because those are the natural thoughts and feelings that come from experiencing disappointment, it seems so right to hang on to them; making them a defining part of who I am.  UNTIL, I check those feelings and thoughts against the kind of life that God has planned for me.

Psalm 138:3 says, “In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.”  He gives us a way to grow confident and gain strength, even when we thought those things were an impossibility!  When the drowning thoughts and feelings come washing in like the tide, threatening to pull me out to an endless sea of doubt, my prayers to God remind me that I am so loved and there is always a way to shore with Him.

And, of course, our family’s favorite verse…we’ve taken this verse as our personal marching orders.  Josh has this tattooed on his arm, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).  When things are down, stacked against me, and I feel like my strength is gone, I have to remind myself that there is an endless pouring out of strength I can rely on through Christ!  It is His wish for me that I push through the disappointment, pain, or struggle leading the a way to regaining a full life of purpose.

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I am reserved for so much more!

I don’t know how I always manage to forget this life saving stuff!  Especially in the moment where it could do most good.  I think that’s why prayer is most helpful.  It encourages my mind to slow, and my heart to open, leading me to something better.  This blog has actually been an outlet, like prayer, where God has revealed so much to me through the words I write.

After a few attempts of gaining employment I said to Josh, “Don’t you think its’ because I’m getting old?  I walk in, try to get a job, and they’re like, ‘We can’t hire this aging, mom server!  We want someone young and spritely and free!'”  Then my loving husband said, “Well, you are pretty old.  But I doubt they say ‘spritely’.”  Then  my head whips around, with accusing lasers shooting from my eyes; quickly disarmed by that look he gives me when I’m talking crazy.  At least I can always count on him to let me know when I’m being irrational.

The point of this tale of woe, is to take the woe from the tale and replace with possibility! Tale of wonder, tale of promise, tale of potential!  When you believe the trying times are a means to an end of something better, of making you stronger, bringing you closer to Him, or preparing you for something yet to come, the sharp, unexpected turns in the road seem to straighten out some way or another.

Til’ next time, be blessed!
#D-Strong
(Please share and re-post!  Thank you so much for reading!)

 

Valentine’s Day ~ You Can Buy Into It, Without Buying Into It $$$

It’s getting close!  Valentine’s Day!!  What to do?  What to buy?  How do I show the special someone in my life how much I care?  And you have to do it, everyone does! Its’ Valentine’s Day and even some who insist Valentine’s Day was invented by Hallmark, have to suck it up and participate because chances are, their spouse or significant other does not agree.  And, I don’t either, for the record.  But I do believe you can spend $0 in showing your love how much you love!  That’s right, you heard me, ZERO DOLLARS…or maybe just a few. 😉 (Sorry retail industry…but not sorry!)

Now, what is the deal with Valentine’s Day?  Why do we separate a day dedicated to love that gives Hallmark, and Walmart, and Target, and every other retail and hospitality giant the perfect opportunity to exploit one of the most basic of human needs; love and companionship?

I’m sure you know that Valentine’s Day was named in honor of St. Valentine who was martyred around A.D. 270.  There is some mystery wrapped around his story however.  One tale says,  that sometime during the third century in Rome, the Emperor outlawed marriage for young men since it was his opinion that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families.  St. Valentine, seeing this decree as unjust and a violation of a God given right, married young couples in secret.  Eventually, St. Valentine’s priestly duties were discovered by the Emperor and thus executed for his treason.  (That one is my favorite!)

The other story tells of Valentine working to help Christians escape the inhumane conditions of Roman prisons, where they were beaten and tortured for their faith. He was eventually imprisoned and put to death for his efforts.  However, while in prison,  it is said that he fell in love; possibly with the prison guard’s daughter.  Shortly before his death he wrote his sweetheart a farewell poem and signed the note, “From your Valentine.” (I actually like this one too!)

Both accounts are incredibly heroic and romantic, so it’s easy to see how the day loveycouplededicated to him is also dedicated to celebrating love.  In the 5th century, Pope Gelasius officially declared February 14th, St. Valentine’s Day in honor of his sacrifice.  It is believed that hand written notes or cards for Valentine’s Day started in the 1400’s, as the oldest Valentine’s Day love poem ever found is dated 1415.  From that time until the early 1900’s, Valentine’s Day was expressed with “small tokens” and hand written notes or letters.  In the 1900’s the advancements in printing gave way to printed and mass produced Valentine’s Day cards.

It seems pretty impossible…however true, that in a mere 100-ish years, Valentine’s Day has morphed from a day representing tenderness and care, expressed with a “small token” or “hand written card,” to a day drenched in consumerism and pressure and big money!  Those BIG retailers tell you through bombarding advertisements and commercials and store displays that in order to impress  or adequately show the depth of your love, you need to go to an unusual financial depth as well.  Financial depth = depth of love.  True?  Not a chance!  So I beg you, turn away from the trend of spending big bucks in an effort to show your love on Valentine’s Day!

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Photo by Amaree Davis (Picture Made Photography)

God says in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  This world tells us we need more, we want more stuff to be happy.  On Valentine’s Day, the world then tells us we need and want to give more stuff to make our loved ones happy!  If I’m asked to sit and really take inventory of the ways in which my husband can “make” me happy, its all about time and effort and consideration.  Nothing puts in me in a better mood than when Josh, without me asking, does the laundry or empties the dishwasher or decides to take the kids out for a boys outing!  For me, when Josh expresses his love through acts of service or spending quality time with me, that is where the the giving is perfect and good.

I think many of us, if we’re really honest, feel the same.  Would I want a new, shiny, fancy watch or would I want Josh to plan for us to get a coffee and go for a walk, just the two of us, and get some time alone to talk and to focus of each other? Personally, I would 100% prefer the second option!  No contest!  Now, full disclosure, I do love flowers and dark chocolate…which do cost some, and Josh could never go wrong with a heartfelt card, dark chocolate, and flowers!!  I really truly feel that spending any more than a modest amount of money on Valentine’s Day, almost cheapens the sentiment.  I would rather Josh put a tremendous amount of thought and effort in thinking and planning something that would really speak to me, as his wife.  Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.”  No day is more appropriate to take the good doctors vital advice than on Valentine’s Day.  Avoid focusing on the things and focus fully on your person!  What would speak to them in a meaningful way?

Here are some little to no cost ideas you can use on Valentine’s Day!

  • Leave a trail of Hershey kisses to _____. (you, flowers, candlelit dinner, music, etc.)
  • Heart shaped sticky notes on the mirror in the morning, each expressing a specific thing you love about your love. (I did this one for Josh a couple years ago!)
  • A handmade coupon book, filled with coupons your partner would for real use and appreciate!  (Josh did this for me a couple years ago and they included coupons like, a device/media free day, clean the kitchen, a 15 minute massage)
  • Time together, alone, to talk and to listen.  Even for a long walk.  (This one is HUGE if you have small children together!)
  • Some kind of lingering to-do list thing that your love would be blown away by getting done.  (For instance, Josh knew I wanted a kitchen banquet in our NC house…so he got it done for one Valentine’s gift.  I was floored and amazed and totally in love!! 😉  )
  • A love letter detailing your road together and the aspects and qualities you love most about your sweetheart.

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Anyway, I think you get the picture.  Be careful of the messages being sent from the world around us; the ones trying to convince you that you need to do more, give more, spend more to convince your significant other of your love for them.  Focus on the person, not the thing and it will be good and perfect.  Let me know how it goes!!

Til’ next time, be blessed! #DStrong
(Re-post this!!  I truly appreciate you reading!)

Dethrone Your Mom Guilt Forever!!

Well, here it is.  In all of its despicable glory…my mom guilt.  Oh, its real folks, and its a powerful enemy I and many, many other mom’s allow to stir in our brains, robbing us of feeling confident and satisfied in this journey of motherhood.

Here is a short list of some of my mom guilt.  I feel guilty that:

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  • I don’t spend enough individual one-on-one time with each of my 3.
  • I don’t play enough with them.
  • I’m too impatient, too often.
  • I put too much pressure on my oldest.
  • I don’t spend enough time with my 4 year old in preparation for school.
  • I don’t read enough with them.
  • They watch too much tv and play too much game time (even though we have time limits)
  • I don’t integrate enough biblical principles into every day life.
  • I don’t talk about God enough.
  • I don’t spend enough time with my husband.
  • One kid might feel left out or not as loved as the other ones.
  • They eat too many snacks.
  • I’m selfish too often and do my own thing too much. (ie. this blog!)

This is just a sampling of the guilt that mingles in my noggin all day long.  My mom guilt has an outright party in my brain!  One guilty thought is like, “This is great!  Open 24/7!  I’m going to invite some of my other guilty friends to this party!  Hey, guilt, pass the chips!”  Some of these feelings may be valid, some may not be.  Some can be addressed, some are a useless expenditure of mental energy.  And maybe I’m just crazy!  Am I the only one that has this much of that mom guilt guiding my thoughts?

I decided yesterday that I put all this guilt on a throne in my life.  It takes a ton of energy to think and think and think about all the mistakes and all the ways you’re falling short as a mom.   I’ve made my guilt an idol!  I worship my guilt!  I make lists in my head about how I fail, or my fears of failing my children more often than I think of anything else.  Is that ridiculous or what?

What I really want is God to take the place of my mom guilt.  I want His wishes and guidance and principles to be the main stage of my thoughts.  I want to feel confident in my role as parent and I know if I make some changes about the way I allow my mom guilt to rule, it is possible.

Step 1:  Admit it.  When the thought occurred to me, I validated it, mentally.  I didn’t brush it off, or hide it with another guilty thought.  I truly owned up to it, myself.

Step 2:  Say it out loud!  When I realized that I do a tremendous amount of guilty thinking and feeling about how I’m raising my kid’s, and worrying about how they’ll turn out as teenagers or adults, I said it out loud.  I told my husband, who at first looked at me like a 3 headed monster. One for each kid ;).  But I truly believe that admitting it, out loud, is tremendously important in taking away its’ power and imminent domain over me, alone.  I wasn’t in it alone anymore.

Step 3:  Make a list.  Making an actual, physical list that you write down in key.  No mental lists!!  Those are the lists that invade healthy, productive thought and keep us up at night.  I wrote down a list of all the things that encompassed my mom guilt.  Going through it, I crossed off the items that were a waist of energy and in doing so, hopefully, in a symbolic way also crossed it off my mental list of mom guilt.  The things I felt that I could address, I prayed about them and came up with some solutions and ways to integrate them into our current routine. (ie.  When Jaxon has homework time, so can Preston; giving him a little bit more school prep and develop a healthy habit of school work for when he starts kindergarten in the fall.)

Step 4: Rinse and Repeat 😉 Mom guilt is not ever going to disappear from my psyche totally.  I think it will temporarily move out, since the lights came on at the party.  My true self says, “Ok guilt, time to leave!  You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!”  And guilt is like, “Aaawww maaaan!…that was a great party,” and grabs a bowl of chips on its’ way out, leaving a strategic trail of the broken pieces to find its’ way back at some point.  And when that mom guilt tries to climb its’ way back up on that throne, we must begin step 1 again!  In time, it will take that guilt longer and longer to find its’ way back and will arrive with a much smaller list of guilty guests.

If you can see that mom guilt as a ruling force in your mind, make the actionable step of saying it, posting it, confiding in spouse or friend about it.  Dethroning the mom guilt, will make room for your true self to take the throne instead.  For me, its my self as God sees me.

Til’ next time, be blessed!! #DStrong
(Re-post me!…I truly appreciate you reading, Thanks y’all!)

Killing Time vs. Spending Time

After I dropped Jaxon, my oldest, at school a couple days ago I had a dentist appointment.  (I know…we all spend more time at the dentist than anyone in the world I think!)  The appointment was scheduled for about an hour after Jax got to school.  What to do with that time?  I decided to go to a local coffee shop, Junk & Java in Westerly, to work on my book (that I’ve been writing for 597 years) and get a latte.   My mom kept the little two with her so I was completely alone…which doesn’t happen too often with three wee ones!

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As I approached this vacant hour, I saw it initially as an hour I had to waste.  Later on, I told my sister, I had an hour to “kill”.  This is an ongoing problem with me; the way in which I look at every precious moment we get here.  I consistently see time as something to pass until some other thing arrives that I’ve been waiting for…even  the dentist apparently!!  I routinely miss the opportunities in the present moment, since I’m too busy waiting for the next one.

I had a whole hour!  All to myself!!  How was I not seeing this as a complete gift and a perfect time to slow down, relax, and focus on…anything or nothing at all! It was an opportunity to actually live out, in practice that “small town vibe” I talk about so much.  I had some time to spend in exploration of our town a bit, check out a local establishment and mingle amongst people who live where I live…or will live, hopefully, eventually, someday. 😉 (Check out the little red house reno)  Retrospectively I did enjoy it.  It was calm and peaceful and relaxing.  The trick is to recognize these things as they arise, so I can see the magnitude in the moment.  Some might say, “So, you said you had an hour to ‘kill’, big deal, its just a word.”  But I couldn’t disagree more.  Words have weight.  They can strengthen or weaken any point of view, position, or intention.   And it is the specific words I use that reflect my specific emotions or focus.  If instead I said, I had an hour to ‘enjoy’ or even to ‘spend’, this would have indicated an entirely different frame of mind.  Enjoying or spending an hour assigns worth to that irreplaceable, invaluable time, as well as the activity, or even inactivity; which can be equally as important sometimes. 😉

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I’d like to start seeing the immeasurable value in every minute I have, as well as the substance held in each moment.  I think that starts with language.  “I have an hour to spend.”  Changing the words I use, changes my approach to life…which is really just a big accumulation of each precious tick of the clock.  It sounds like simple semantics, but its all about a changing heart; an adjustment in approach.  Matthew 12:37 says, “…for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  Also, Proverbs 18:21 says, “From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.”  These two passages exemplify the power in language.  The words we choose are the main, and sometimes only instrument we have in communicating the direct intention of our hearts.  They have the ability to convey or reveal (sometimes to ourselves) our outlook or perspective on all things; even something seemingly minor or so easily taken advantage of like our time.

Just like a word, this change is small, but can mean something big in my life. We’ll see!  I’m just going to try.  Maybe the act of speaking value into each moment will be the thing that helps me capture more of the beauty.  (As I catch a glimpse of my 2 year old, Braedon playing peek-a-boo with me from behind a table.  There it is.  True beauty in the moment.)peek-a-boo

Til’ next time, be blessed!

I Blame Joanna Gaines ;0)

It’s official!  I blame Joanna Gaines. (Insert sarcasm here) 😉

If y’all are a fan of Joanna and Chip Gaines’ show, Fixer Upper, like I am, then you know the magic that happens when they get their hands on a junky old mess of a house.  They basically turn every home they renovate into my dream home.  In the opening credits she says, “Do you have the guts to take on a fixer upper?”  And before the red house, I did, for sure.  It was an actual bucket list dream of mine; to get my hands on a neglected and forgotten old farmhouse and transform it into my own personal fixer upper dream home.

So, we did it.  We had the guts to take on our little red house fixer upper! Now the question is, “Do you have the guts to continue on with a fixer upper?”  We are 6 months into the project and there is STILL no end in sight!  All five of us have been crib crashing at my mom’s for just about a year now!!!  I know!  It’s mind boggling.  Josh and I were talking the other day about how hard it was to move the kids away from the only home they’ve ever known in Rolesville, NC and now we are looking at the same challenge; in the sense that we, at some point will have to move the kids, again, from this new home they’ve known for the past year!  We’re not sure what new emotional difficulties this will stir up in the kids, but we’ve recognized that they will be there in some form, so I think we’ll be more prepared for them when they show up.

The current financial/project payout deadline we have with buildPros and our lender is January 22nd.  Our estimated project deadline given to us by buildPros was in early October!  Although, it took our contractor that long just to apply for permits!  Josh and I have come to a point of complete desperation and disappointment.  We are ready to move on!  This probably means pushing back our move in date even further; but we can’t give this guy any more time, money, or benefit of the doubt.   Although, we’ve seen some work happening  since contacting our advocates, it is moving along at a snails pace.  They’ve never even put in one full day or full week of work!  After I drop Jaxon at school, I usually stop by the house, pick up our mail and hang around until 9:15 or so, to see if anyone shows up.  Never.  Not once, has anyone been working at our house before 9:30 (maybe later) or after 4 pm.  Also, some the recent work they’ve completed is not up to code and has to  be redone or adjusted.

The biggest visual change so far is thanks to Josh and my step-brother Justin!  Last weekend they took down the wall and chimney dividing the dining room and the kitchen.  It looks awesome and awful all at once!  The possibilities beam through the openness and at the same time, its got a looooong way to go.  Excitement and terror fight for attention when you see it in person!  There’s no turning back now.

Check it out!

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With every challenge life throws my way, I try to look at it through biblical eyes…try being the optimum word there.  I’m having trouble seeing God’s plan in all this, and trusting He’ll have a way to see us through.  I have to remind myself that even though God is there, it doesn’t mean mistakes can’t be made.  Wrong turns can be taken, but I can lean on Him for strength during and after the wrong turns and mistakes.  And, if we allow it, every mishap or misfortune in life can be used to make us stronger, wiser,  and equipped with more and more fortitude.  It’s the oh so familiar, “God, how, why, did you let this happen?”  Our money is running out, our time has run out long ago, and our family is displaced and frustrated.

 Yes, I know, this is not the absolute worst thing that can happen.  No one is sick or dying, we are not homeless or in a refugee camp.  I realize this is small potatoes on the scale of things that could happen or go wrong in a drastic, life changing way. I also realize we are incredibly blessed in every corner of this life we’ve built together. This acknowledgement, however, does not detract from the helplessness we are feeling.

So, back to the drawing board!  We are interviewing a new slew of contractors…hopefully honest, trustworthy, reliable, and competent people who care about their business, reputation, and the families they work for.   Is that asking too much?  If only I could get Chip and Joanna Gaines to take over!!  Is that asking too much?…probably on that one it is. 😉

Til’ next time, be blessed!

The Kindness Of A Stranger

(photo by Amaree Davis)

Last week my two youngest boys and I had a plan to make a trip to the post office and send off the BIG box of Christmas gifts we had for their cousins in North Carolina.  We made a quick stop to the nearby playground, letting some energy out first…it was a beautiful day, close to 60 degrees.  In New England, when those days pop up in December, you are sure to take advantage, not knowing when the pretty white stuff will start to fall; ushering in the long indoor challenge with little ones! 😉

When the sun started to go down and the temperature along with it, we decided to head over to the post office and complete our task.  I parked strategically on the same side as the post office, to avoid trying to cross the busy street with the boys, a stroller, and the gigantic box.  I would only have to travel along the street a ways on the sidewalk.  I loaded Braedon into the stroller, and gave Preston a pep talk about the importance of being a good listener, staying right next to mommy, and remaining on the sidewalk on the inside of mommy.  At 4 years old, I think he got the part about being a good listener…which would hopefully cover the other two instructions as we headed toward our destination.

I was doing great!  It was cumbersome and awkward, as I balanced the huge box on the stroller handles, but we were making it work.  I had to keep yelling toward Preston, making sure he was still with me, still on the sidewalk, and still on the inside away from the street.  I could barely see anything past this box!  So, we were doing it and it would have all been over soon.

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About a quarter of the way to our goal, a man approached us with open arms.  He was, I wouldn’t say elderly, but probably in his late 60’s and his age hadn’t affected his gait in any way.  “Can I help you with that?” He asked with the warmest of smiles and inviting eyes.

Now, maybe a year or two ago, I would have said, “No thanks, I’m good.  I’m used to the balancing act,” with a humorous guard.  It was always a knee jerk response without ever even considering if I actually did need the help or even contemplating that in allowing someone else to help me, I’m also helping them.  They want to help, they want to be useful, they want to feel like they aided in making someone’s day a little easier.  I associated accepting this kind of assistance as a sign of weakness or incompetence on my part.  I can even throw in my fear of small talk with strangers into the  reasoning; as crazy as that sounds! But, I’ve made great progress in accepting help when someone offers it.

So, of course, I said, “YES!  Thank you so much!”  I did have to reassure him that I was in fact capable and skilled at completing my goal saying, “I would have made it, it just would have been a tricky challenge…and definitely uncomfortable.”  He said, “No, no I’m happy to help.  This is a big box!  I’m so blessed I was here to help you.” (He for real said that!  How cool?!)

Anyway, kind stranger man had my big box and I had the stroller.  I headed down the ramp while this man headed down the cement staircase to the landing below where the door to the plaza was located.  Suddenly, I hear a sound that would not fit into the current scenario of what was happening.  It was a muffled groan and some thudding steps.  As I turned the corner on the ramp, I was just in time to see this nice man tumble down the cement stairs, straight to the bottom, his head bouncing off my box as it crashed to the ground!

I ran over!  “Oh no!  Are you ok?” As I held under his arm to help him up.  “Oh my goodness!  I’m so sorry, are you alright?”

“Yes, yes,” he replied.  “I’m fine.  I promise.  I just have weak knees now and then.”

“Well, let me take the box, you don’t have to carry it all the way.  I can take it now.”

“No, no, I’m fine.  Let me help you.  I can help you,” as he held the door open for ME leading into the lobby.

So, now I’m mortified.  I’m upset that I accepted the help, essentially becoming the cause for his fall!  And, we ramped up the wattage on my fear of small talk with strangers, because now I had NO idea what to say!

He led me into the post office and I told him to drop the box at the first little work desk we saw, since I still had to address it.  I didn’t know what else to say!  “Are you sure you’re ok?” I asked him.  “I feel terrible, I’m so sorry.  And thank you so much for helping me,” as I hugged him…the only source of expression I had for the level of gratitude I felt.

“I promise I’m fine.  I would know if I was really hurt.  I was happy I could help.  I enjoy helping people like this, in any way I can because I’m a Catholic Priest.  Merry Christmas,” he answered as he hugged me back.

Now, there could probably be some kind of psychological, sociological study done on me, but when he told me he was a priest…I just wanted to die!  I felt 5 times worse for some reason…to be analyzed by professionals!  Maybe it was that Catholic guilt I hear about kicking in 😉 (being raised Catholic). All I could think to say was, “Well I’m a Christian, so I so appreciate it!” …Really?!  Really?!  Is that best I could come up with?!  I knew why he was telling me he was a priest and I should have reassured him that he is doing an amazing job showing God’s love to those in need.  I knew, once he told me, that it was mercy shown to him through Christ motivating his selfless actions.  Through his gratitude of God’s love and sacrifice, he was showing his appreciation in kindness resulting in a caring act toward a complete stranger.  He was doing Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burden’s and so fulfill the a law of Christ.” Pretty amazing!

gratitude model

As I thought more about this stranger’s kindness toward me, I started to realize that this is the whole point of my blog…of my hope for our new town and community!  It’s all about creating that small town feel and figuring out those elements that make a perfect recipe to achieve it.  This particular element is probably the biggest in creating a community that cares…a community that knows the needs and struggles around them, exposing ways where you can get involved and help.  “A place where you know your neighbors,” is exactly what I said our family was going for.  God says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Help7
So I guess that’s what I’m trying to do; to encourage myself and other’s to get in there help where you can, when you can.  Strangers are no longer strangers once you offer a helping hand and that’s what can strengthen a community.  Maya Angelou says, “A friend my be waiting behind a stranger’s face.”  That man who helped me, even though I don’t know his name, is now a friend.  And I am so grateful!

Til’ next time, be blessed!

 

Choosing The Right Appliances For Your Kitchen… Is Tough!

(above image from BHG)

I really can’t quantify the exact number of hours I’ve put in researching kitchen appliances online and visiting stores to see them in person; more than I can keep track of without a log book!  I can qualify them however as a big giant waste of mental space and time.   It really bugs me when I invest in something with zero return.  I can never get those hours back!

I may feel that way, but in actuality those hours may have been more helpful than I give them credit.  The types and styles of what I don’t like has become crystal clear; while the list of what I do, grows and grows!   I guess I just feel like so much time has been wasted because its taken about 3 solid months to decide on appliances!  Also,  the things I do like, I can’t have; the things I don’t like, I could probably get in duplicate! 😉  So now its a strategic game of what I can settle on that won’t aggravate me on a daily basis and will look the best it can with what we are working with.   The ultimate, “fiiiiiiiine if I have to, but as long as it still looks good”, budget game.

This is the kitchen…

This side of the kitchen is at the front of the house.

This side of the kitchen is at the front of the house.

That big flat wall to the left with just a couple cabinets is coming down to open the wall between the dining area and the kitchen.

This is the other side... into the dining area.

This is the other side… into the dining area.

So, that wall where you see the hutch is coming down to make one giant kitchen/dining area.  The door to the left is the door that leads out to the front porch.

ISx74kzawj5i0m1000000000(Just to help make the perspective a little clearer for you: The door on the front porch leads into the dining area and the kitchen is located to the left by the driveway.)

This side is at the back of the house.

This side is at the back of the house.

The kitchen will be one big U-shape.  The ugly, confusing, and anti-functional mini peninsula is going bye-bye.  The range will go there in its place.  The kitchen sink will stay in that spot but the cabinets will make their U by heading under those two windows to the left (once we shorten them), then around to the front of the house under the front window to where the refrigerator will be (which is where they had the stove).  Does that make sense?  Now, there is no money for cabinets at present. (No biggie, right?) The plan is to make do in the kitchen as is for a year or so until we can save for those… or Josh can build them. (Sssshh…that’s between you and me right now!)  We’ll just put the appliances where they will be once we get the cabinets situated.

This is what I want:

60" Custom Sealed Burner Range (VGCC) in 12 Exclusive Finishes - Viking Range Corporation:

NEW! Viking Range_Tuscany Range:

These beauties are responsible for many sleepless nights!  I’m not kidding.  I have serious issues with focusing on what’s important in life… which range we get in our kitchen probably shouldn’t be the thing keeping me up at night, no? 😉

Then I started warming up to the idea of white appliances.  They are typically a little less expensive than their stainless steel counterparts, with all the same design features.  I was thinking that maybe the white would be more suited to our 1866 farmhouse as well.  The glare of 21st century appliances mingling with my 19th century digs started to seem too much of a stark contrast.  Also, this blog post, “White Appliances {yes you can}” from The Inspired Room was, well, inspiring and I thought, why not?

 

These are the next options I hooked on to:

Maytag 27 in. Single Electric Wall Oven Self-Cleaning in White with Stainless Steel Handle

KitchenAid 30 in. 6.4 cu. ft. Slide-In Electric Range with Self-Cleaning Convection Oven in White

Samsung 25.5 cu. ft. French Door Refrigerator in WhiteLG Electronics 26.8 cu. ft. 3 Door French Door Refrigerator in Smooth White

KitchenAid Top Control Dishwasher in White with Stainless Steel Tub, ProWash Cycle, 46 dBA

Maytag Top Control Dishwasher in White with Stainless Steel Tub and Steam Cleaning

Then I had it all set.  Set in my mind and set in the cart for my online gigantic purchase of kitchen appliances.  I decided to got with the KitchenAid line of white appliances because I liked their slide in range and the industrial look of their stainless pulls.  The only step left was to run my thoughts and decision by hubby.  Sometimes I forget that this is going to be his house too and its not only, always about my vision. 😉 Its also difficult to get some time alone together to talk about these kinds of details. Because when the night is over and the kids are all tucked in, I really just want to hang out with him and spend some alone time together, not talking about details and options and the business of life.

So I showed him what I had loaded into my cart, anticipating him to concede to that powerful vision of mine and say, “Whatever you think will be best… dear,” (He has never said “dear” in his life!) Instead what I got was, “Nope.  No way.  I want stainless.” I countered with, “But dear, (I really didn’t say dear)  if I can just explain and maybe you’d consider white appliances.”  There was no budge.  He was dead set against white appliances and really, really, (did I say really) insisted that we get stainless steel.

I was back to square 1.  Maybe square 2…since I still knew what I definitely didn’t like. Then, black Friday was upon us!  What better time to make monstrous purchases than on Black Friday… the day of deals!  I buckled down and did one last scouting trip with my mother-in-law, then back online to load up the cart again!  This time, miraculously, I was pleased and Josh was pleased.  We arrived in that sweet spot!  That place where husband and wife, the mechanically minded engineer and the aesthetic conscious designer (not so much 😉 …I wish!) came to an agreement on a functional design element for the red house!  Yaaaaaaayyyy!

So here are the winning kitchen appliances:  All Samsung (I have a mental block about buying appliances that are not the same brand….I feel like its a necessity to create a more cohesive quality throughout the kitchen; assisting in maintaining whatever particular style goal you’re going for.  Exception: If you buy a super awesome range that becomes almost the focal point of the kitchen. (ie: the crazy impressive wish list ranges from above.)

The Samsung flex duo can be divided into 2 cooking zones inside, so you can make 2 dishes at 2 different temperatures!! Sweeeeeet!!

Samsung 25.5 cu. ft. French Door Refrigerator in Stainless Steel

25.5 Cu. Ft. We got this on major sale!

Samsung 24 in. Front Control Dishwasher in Stainless Steel with Stainless Steel Tub

This dishwasher has the controls on the front, which might aggrevate me… we’ll see.

(We ordered this blower insert so Josh can build a custom hood vent.)

 

Clicking send in my online cart was definitely nerve wracking… to say the least!  With one little click of one little key, thousands of dollars was taken from us!  Actually, we gave it away!  Swoosh… just like that, gone!!!  I think it’ll turn out great!  Let me know what y’all think and I will update when they actually get into the little red house kitchen!

Til’ next time, be blessed!

Coaching Our Kids Through Something We’d Rather RUN From!

So, I was sitting there, staring at my computer, wondering what in the world I should write about.  I just updated y’all on the progress of the house.  And to be honest, there’s not much else to talk about right now concerning the cutest lil red house on the planet! 😉 The project is underway and we are so thankful for that, but there aren’t any other major progressions I can show and there are very few projects we can start working on ourselves until we actually move in.

But as I sat, watching the minutes tick by, I could feel a nervous anxiety building  my stomach… Like, my arm pits were sweaty. (Gross, sorry.  Just layin’ some truth on ya) Why you ask?  Because Preston, my four year old angel IMG_0629(and this may seem extremely minor to most of you reading this) had a dentist appointment.  He would get 2 cavities filled in about an hour from then.  No big deal right?  Wrong….ooooh, so wrong!!

Exactly 6 months ago, the boys had their first RI dental visit and poor Preston had a monster of a cavity!  This was surprising to me since their last visit to the dentist was 6 months prior in NC and there wasn’t any sign of a cavity.  So, I was told I had to bring Presty (that’s what we usually call him) back in a couple days.  Since the cavity was so gigantic, they would have to literally dig out MOST of his lil tooth and put a silver cap in its place!!  No joke!  For the next couple of days, we all joked about it, calling him “P. Diddy Presty” or “P nice” or other rapper pseudo names.  I also joked about getting Preston a tag to wear that said, “I promise I did not give my child Mountain Dew in a baby bottle!”hellomynameis

So, I brought him in to get his grill set up all shiny… or fixed with his “robot tooth” as the dentist called it, which went over well with Preston.  He seemed, before the whole procedure started, to be excited about having a robot tooth.  The dentist also said, they don’t like to put lil ones under or use laughing gas if not absolutely necessary.  The procedure should only take 15-20 minutes and Preston would be completely numb.  “Great,” I thought, “Let’s get this over with.”  I imagined having to calm him down by reassuring him it was almost over, remind him to keep as still as possible, and hold his hand as reassurance that mommy was there.  That is far from what actually happened!!

At the start Preston was nervous and uncomfortable about the dentist messing around in his mouth, which was totally expected.  Poor Preston had this rubber guard over is mouth with the one little tooth that was being worked on, sticking out through it with a clamp type tool holding his mouth open.  His general nervous disposition and uncomfortability shot right up to all out panic in seconds!  He was screaming, kicking, crying, and shaking himself into a full frenzy.  It was too late to turn back… everyone in the room just buckled down to get it over with as soon as possible. The dentist had to hold Preston’s head between his legs in a vice grip while working in his mouth, I had to get on top of him and hold down his legs with my legs (which didn’t stop him from kicking his shoes off), hold his arms down, and lean on top of his chest to stop him from jerking around frantically.   The nurse darted in and out with the tools needed with lightening speed.  The procedure ended up taking almost 30 minutes and Preston screamed for help and cried the entire time while giving super human effort to shake everything and everyone off him to escape the torture.

IMG_2262

After it was over, I felt high for the rest of the day from all the adrenaline pumping through me!  And for the next two days, my biceps were literally sore from the amount of muscle effort needed to hold 30 lb Preston down.  To this day he tells me, “you held me down and they hurt me.” Mom guilt is nothing compared to this!  His feelings and sense of safety were seriously damaged and he felt genuinely betrayed by me… mom, who’s supposed to be there to protect him!  Not hold him down so other people can hurt him.  I was crushed.  And Preston has such a sensitive soul, he holds on to emotional hurt for much longer than you think a 4 year old is capable.  So, you can now hopefully have a better appreciation for my sweaty arm pits. 😉

Cut to today:  2 more cavities!  Aaaaaahhhhh!  They were small ones, and just needed the typical dig it out and fill it with white stuff method.  Easy right?  The dentist asked if I wanted to try the laughing gas this time, considering how the last procedure went.  Apparently the whole thing is now legend in the office… everyone remembers, or read the terrifying details in his “file”.  I said yes, of course! Buuuuut…when we got there with this other dentist who can administer the nitrous oxide, he felt like it wouldn’t be necessary.  He said Preston was a very good listener, which is true, and seemed to be pretty relaxed, which was true.  Also, this other dentist had an obvious gift with kids; a soothing voice, very patient, related really well to Preston, and had a calm demeanor.  “Ok,” I said, “if you think he can do it.”

It was going along swimmingly, until the part with the numbing shot arrived.  Preston, didn’t even know it was a shot.  His teeth and gums had already been put to sleep with a numbing gel and he was laying back with cool shades over his eyes, but he could tell there was something different about the tool that was in his mouth this time.  The dentist remained calm, talking in that soothing voice, and trying his best to distract Preston with little stories about his favorite super heroes.  The real panic set in when he started drilling.  He would only drill for 10 second intervals and count down with each one so that Preston could anticipate the break point… Preston didn’t care about the countdown or the upcoming drilling break.

I was having a definite flashback from his robot tooth appointment.  Again, I had to hold down his arms, and this time I just had to lean on his legs to keep them still.  It wasn’t an all out exorcist moment like last time, but still, to have to physically hold your child down while someone else is essentially hurting them, is horrifying.  The worst part was the screaming.  He was gargling on the saliva accumulation while screaming, “HELP ME! HELP ME! STOP! LET ME OUT!” He would then almost choke while struggling to breath as the nurse sucked out the saliva blocking his throat.  Tears were pouring down his temples, and we were all trying to tell him to calm down and keep still so the dentist could finish “giving his teeth new muscles.” (Trying every trick in the book to make him relax.) Every once in a while he’d open his eyes just a tiny bit to look at me… I thought to make sure I was still there.  I was wrong.

When his cavities were filled and the procedure was done, Preston flew out of that dentist chair, leaping into the air like deer leaping over the Jersey barrier on the highway.  I quickly realized that the reason he kept opening his eyes to look at me, was anger.  Straight up anger.  “I DON’T LIKE YOU!  YOU’RE MEAN!  THIS IS BECASUE OF YOU! I’M NEVER COMING HERE WITH YOU AGAIN! I DON’T LIKE YOU, MOM!  I BLAME YOU MOM!”… as he shoved me, while I tried to hug him.  I’m not even exaggerating… he said all of this and more!  The dentist said he had never seen a kid so angry at their parent before.  (Thanks Doc!). So it was pretty clear, Preston blamed me for his pain, and didn’t take my presence as reassurance, but as proof it was my fault he was in this situation.  It was terrible.

But what else could I have done?  There was no way getting around it, right?  He had cavities that had to be addressed in no other way than they were.  And I am mom.  The one who does all the doctor appointments because Dad’s at work, so there was no way getting around that either. And, despite his anger toward me, I want to be there, whether or not I feel like running from the whole thing too.  I felt like I had done a pretty good job of preparing him for the visit.  I told him what was going to happen, why it needed to happen, and that it might hurt a bit.  And he did do much better  than robot tooth day… maybe it was because of the preparation?  But all the preparation in the world can’t relieve that feeling of wanting something painful to stop, and wanting to go back, forgetting the whole thing.  When Preston started screaming, I started screaming in my head, “Just forget it.  Stop hurting my boy!  Its fine, they’re just baby teeth, lets just let them rot out.  This can’t be worth it!”

But that’s what we do as parent’s.  We’re there.  Regardless of the outcome, the reaction, the reward… or lack there of.  After Preston calmed down a little… maybe an hour later.  He wanted no one but me.  He needed his mom and the reassurance that I was still there. I know many people reading this can relate on different levels; whether its a medical procedure or condition, getting through a test or educational challenges, social challenges, or confidence issues… whatever it is, the basic elements of helping them conquer, endure, or get past the obstacles of life are the same.

Whether we realize it or not, this thing we do as parent’s, being there, is demonstrating God’s love for us. Our heavenly father is the same kind of parent… He’s there.  And we lash out at him sometimes too, don’t we?  We’re in it; something painful, something, hard, something we think we could do without and we get angry with Him.  Just like Him, we are there, holding their hand, encouraging them through the toughest part; letting them know that even though we can’t save them from the pain or the situation or the procedure (even though we desperately want to) we won’t leave their side and will do anything to provide the support they need.  Isaiah 41:10  says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

 

 

 

Tales From the Contractor Crypt: Part “Duh.”

We see some movement!  At last, some progress in the right direction!

Roofing supplies!

Roofing supplies… and a truck!

Josh and I were at our wits end! We were there, ready to cut our contractor loose.  I called the bank to see what would happen if the deadline mapped out in the contract wasn’t met, which would be around the end of January.  I was told, basically nothing… they would just have to request an extension.  Sounds like junk right? Why even have a “deadline” at all if there’s no penalty or incentive to keep their word?  Why not just say, “as long as you get to it at some point”?

The bank representative also told me that we should utilize our advocates in this situation.  Advocates?  What advocates? The Lynch brothers that do all the inspections on properties for these types of loans and initial the ok for the contractors to get paid.  Apparently, they are not just the inspectors but also our advocates.  I had no idea and this information was definitely not effectively communicated during the loan/closing process.  If we had known, we might have involved them a lot sooner!  DUH! I explained to the bank that practically no work had been done at all and we were concerned about the progress and trustworthiness of our contractor.  She seemed concerned also and told me to contact the Lynch brothers.  If that didn’t seem to help, we should call her back.

The next day, Josh called the brothers… our advocates, to explain our complaints and dissatisfaction with buildpros.  They sent buildpros an email saying that the customer was not happy with their performance or progress.  When we heard from our contractor, he said, “if you think I like having $13,000 already invested in a project without payment, you’re wrong.”   Is this guy a bozo or what?!  Josh chose to ignore it since they promised “guys would be there the following week”.  So, would you be surprised to hear that we waited, on edge all week as usual for someone to show, and nothing!  The next week, we were promised again.  That Thursday night, Josh was positive the roofers or their “guys” (these mythical creatures we had yet to see) would be there on Friday.  He said our contractor was pretty adamant that they would be there.  So, Josh stayed at the house until 3am making sure every last bit of demo was completed, getting ready for that big commencement of work we’ve been waiting and praying for.  And… would you be surprised to hear that it was a no show, AGAIN?!  AGAIN?!

Josh called me to tell me the news.  I was down in NC for my sister-in-law, Piper’s baby shower for baby #6!  I was seething when he told me! Josh was trying to figure out how long to wait this time and I was DONE!  “That’s it!  He’s out!  How many more chances to take advantage of us can we give this guy?  Not to mention he just got a check for $14,000!  He’s out,” I shouted.  I was freaking out.  Josh said that he was on board with the decision to end our pain and frustration with this guy.  We sent text messages back and forth to each other, devising exactly what to say in the formal “heave ho” letter.

Josh thought he should probably call the Lynch brothers and let them know we were done with the buildpros bull and that we wanted to fire them.  When Josh called, he talked to Ken,  (one of the brothers) and was livid in explaining our mental state and desire to get these people out of our house.  Ken told Josh to calm down and assured him that he’s heard all of this before.  He’s been doing this job for 25 years and asked Josh to hold off on firing buildpros and to let him take care of it.  I don’t know what he did or said, but do you know that the “guys” showed up the very next day, on a Saturday?  There was work going on Monday through Thursday of that week;  then also on the following Saturday and Sunday!   I almost don’t want to say anything out loud, afraid of jinxing it!

So, things are looking up!  Our spirits are higher and there seems to be an end in sight, which makes the whole situation a bit more bearable.  Please pray that the work continues at a steady pace and we can move in soon!  My Thanksgiving hope for the red house is dashed, and I don’t think I’ll put any more expected, arbitrary move in dates into my mental calendar… it doesn’t do me any good!  My only hope now is to see consistent progress with the project.

Til’ next time, be blessed!

 

Story of a Shed

Once upon a time, there was nothing at all.  Just an empty space and one man’s dream of additional storage.  Sometimes… dreams do come true!

THE END.

So super proud of Josh.  He knocked out this 16’x20′ shed project in 3 weeks, sacrificing ALL his nights and weekends!  His step-dad, Gary helped kick off the project 2 weekends in a row with his invaluable guidance.  Thanks Gary!

Josh was so pleased with the outcome and really enjoyed seeing the reward for his commitment!  He did a great job and thought, “Hey, maybe I could do this on the side to make some extra money, building sheds for people!”  My thoughts, “Ah, no.”  I’m way too selfish to have our nights and weekends with him sacrificed for someone else’s shed! ;). You feel me?!

Keeping us busy and Josh company while he worked on the shed: sidewalk chalk drawings on the dumpster, our neighbors chickens and their playground!  Very exciting around the red house!

Til’ next time… be blessed!