Rearranging the china cabinet

9 years ago, Matt and I were house hunting. We were engaged and the wedding was being planned, but finding a place to call our own proved to be a challenge. The home we finally decided on has turned out to be a bit of a lemon, but it is our first house. It is filled with charm and quirkiness that I just fell in love with, turning a blind eye to the practicality of the home once children would be introduced.

When we registered for our wedding, my mother was in a coma. And when she woke up, she couldn’t speak or communicate very clearly, so it was Martha Stewart’s list that helped me figure out what I needed. As it turns out, I didn’t need quite a bit of those items and although they were once proudly displayed in our china cabinets {first home had precious corner built ins that I adored}, they are now safely packed away.

After living in that home for almost four years, we decided to turn it into a rental property and moved into my grandmother’s home, which I had inherited. When we moved here, Liam was 15 months old and I was pregnant with Sylvia. Along with the house, I also inherited furniture and a lot of necessary repairs. And when you move while in the midst of your second HG diagnosis, you deal with what you can and call it a success. So the dining room furniture that I often ate holiday meals at now housed my china and serving dishes, and on a weekly basis served as my station for folding laundry… the latter not being my grandmother’s intent for the furniture’s use in future generations.

In a few short days, though, that dining room will serve as our homeschool room. With the giant picture window and storage for books, it was an easy decision. The only china that remains is in the actual china cabinet portion of the dining room set. The buffet has been cleared out to make room for books and paper and little wooden letters.

As I look around the house, I can’t help but notice that while the location or use of items has changed, the core of our home is simply who lives here. I have watched my home change in the last nine years and I gotta say… I really like where it’s going. I really, really do.

Are there really kindred spirits?

By the time I graduated from high school, I think I had read Anne of Green Gables no less than 100 times. I adored everything about Anne and Diana’s relationship, so I was certain it would happen for me.

At that time I really thought that I would have that one friend from high school that I walked arm-in-arm down the lane each visit home. But that’s not how it worked for me. Instead I made friends in Biology labs and study groups. One of those friends is still, 15 years after our first meeting, very dear to my heart. I started college as a double major in music and biology and because of that was introduced to two girls who later served as bridesmaids in my wedding and were among the first people I told I was pregnant.

For me, the scariest thing about making friends was that once school was over, there weren’t mixers or dorm rooms or study groups to help me. I spent 3 semesters in grad school following my return home and I cannot tell you a single name of the people in my classes. I commuted and worked full time… There weren’t enough hours in the day. When I started my first professional employment, on September 29th, 2003, I was in the same orientation group as a girl who became my “Diana” for years. And on the day she moved an hour away, I stood in my home and sobbed deep, suffocating sobs because my friend was gone.

I was crushed when she moved, because now I had a major void in my life. We saw each other on a near daily basis and who would even want to spend that much time with me?!

This is the point in my writing where I tell you that for me, there isn’t so much a kindred spirit as a complimentary spirit. This friend I’m telling you about was my Diana because she served as the calm voice of reason to my fly-off-the-handle emotional responses. Because if I am anything, it is emotional. I cry. A lot. So although we are not two peas in a pod, we fit together like two puzzle pieces. Different, but perfect.

Since this time, I have made two close friends. What?! I know. I have two of them. And I even talk to them on a very regular basis. And when I’m with them, I’m honest and open. Now I am. When we met and even up until about 3 years ago, I was still pretty guarded with my reality, but now I am brave. I am brave because they are the puzzle pieces that complete my life. This week marks 10 years since the day I met one of those friends. The other friend… well, she came into my life in 2008, but it wasn’t until July 19th 2009 that I realized if this woman was willing to stick out finding a solution to my nursing woes, she was a real friend.

I am the sort of person content to only have a friend or two. In fact, I feel guilty when I call someone my friend and we aren’t much more than acquaintances! Regardless of how I feel about the actual friend label my goal, as I encourage my children to be brave, is to also encourage those relationships. I want them to learn how to be a good friend so that when those kindred and complementary spirits come along, they can fully embrace the experience. And who knows? Perhaps these relationships my children are building will be ones that stand the test of time and life.

Mighty Mommy Monday – Training week 3

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year AND run a half marathon in October! Join us!


Alright. Two weeks down, 10 to go. This week, the pool at our Y is closed for standard repairs, so I don’t get to swim :( Phooey. I’m a little concerned about building the mileage, so I’m considering making Wednesday more of a running day, with less time spent cross training. Last night’s run was awful. It was hot and sticky and made me realize that either I need to start getting my butt out of bed earlier in the day, or I’ll have to suffer. On the plus side, there are several homes with sprinklers in my area I can run through like… well, a child.

Monday – Yoga and strength.

Tuesday – Run 3.5 miles… first of the mileage bumps during the week. I’m intimidated

Wednesday – Cross train… I’m planning to spend Wednesday at a fitness class taught by a friend I haven’t been able to work out with in a while. Yay!

Thursday – Run 3.5 miles and strength.

Friday – Rest

Saturday – 40 minute cross train {cycling}

Sunday – Run 5 miles

Another goal for the week is to pay closer attention to how well I am hydrating. I bought myself a GPS watch and tested it out last night. It’s not a fancy one, but I do like it and it’s not as difficult to set up as the reviews would leave you to believe.

So that’s my week… what are you up to? That Mama Gretchen is training for a 5k and Abbie is still swimming away!  You go girls!


I cannot believe it’s already August. Yesterday marked the two week countdown for the first day of school. Today, my final shipment of homeschool supplies will arrive… UPS guy, I’m totally stalking the front door for you.

All summer we have gone on adventures, played outside, tried new foods, stayed up WAY too late and just generally had a lovely time. But since Liam starting Kindergarten, he’s elligible to spend these last two weeks of the summer attending Safety Town. Safety Town is a two week course for kiddos ages 4-6 {I only share this because I discovered that not every one has Safety Town in their state!}. They arrive every morning for a few hours of themed information on things like indoor safety {Don’t touch the chemicals or stove!}, meeting police officers, learning addresses and phone numbers… just general things that make our little people more aware of the world around us and empowered to protect themselves.

I remember Safety Town for myself and my brothers. My favorite part was always the to-scale town that was set out on the playground for us to ride trikes around. I loved those little buildings and imagined myself a very grown-up 5 year old that summer. Yesterday as we drove to the first session, I told Liam how much fun it was and how I still remember things I learned at Safety Town.

But upon check in, I realized that there are far more children in attendance that I’d thought there would be. On top of that, Liam isn’t in a class with anyone he knows. Yesterday was less than stellar for him. And me. I know exactly how he feels walking into a room where he knows no one. And I completely understand when we go to group events and he will not leave my side until he sees a person he knows, only to cling to that person for the entire event. I imagine that his stomach ties up in knots like mine does and my heart hurts for him.

So for the next two weeks, we are working on bravery. I ordered most of the books from this post by Carrots are Orange and they are already on their way to the library for me to pick up. I’m 33 years old and still have so much anxiety over social events, even to the point that I will “forget” to put them on my calendar… this is not what I want for my children. They may grow up to be shyer by nature and that is A-ok. Both of them already seem to be introverted like Matt and I {A characteristic I couldn’t be more grateful for! I don’t know what I would ever do if they thrived on social events!}. All this is wonderful and I think makes it even easier for me to understand why my children don’t run into a new social setting like many of their peers. It’s ok to be shy. It’s ok to not thrive on others’ energy. But it’s not ok to be miserable. I was always told to just “get over” my nervousness. But I never learned how. I learned how to cover it up, but I didn’t learn how to move past it.

Today’s goal for Liam was to learn the name of one child in his group. Tomorrow when I take him in, I’m going to check the name tag of the kiddo next to him… I’m told it’s Christopher. We are going to be meeting a lot of new friends this year with church and co-op and MOPS. By “we” I do actually mean Liam and I. We are both going to learn to be brave, but we won’t be alone… we are going to do it together, one new name at a time!

Mighty Mommy Monday – Training Week 2

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year AND run a half marathon in October! Join us!


11weeks out from race day and I am following the Hal Higdon plan for novices. 3-4 days of running, 2-3 days of cross training and 1 rest day. Week 1 was a success… even with being out of town all day on Thursday, so I’m pretty confident in how the days are laid out!

This week:
Monday – “stretch and strengthen” I only plan to spend time on weights and abs today since I will be walking a LOT with my mother-in-law in the afternoon.
Tuesday – run 3 miles {still working hard to get closer to 12 minute miles}
Wednesday – Cross Train. I’m planning to get a good bike ride in… you know, variety. :)
Thursday – Run 3 miles + strength {either weight routines or a 30 minute kettlebell session}
Friday – 30 minute swim

Saturday – REST!!!! {Or go to Lake Erie with family, either way, no running}

Sunday – 4 mile run

I ran 4 miles on Sunday. I’ve NEVER, ever done that. Ever. This is our month where Sundays are short service days for us, so as soon as we got home, I ate another breakfast {don’t judge, I’m hungry most of the time} and then headed to the Y. I wasn’t sure about the weather and after losing my key on the bike trail two weeks ago, I’m paranoid about going back. So I hopped on the treadmill with the plan to make it at least 2 miles and then run the remainder on the track. However, I quickly realized that my motivation was flagging and if I got off the treadmill too early, I probably wouldn’t finish. The good news is that I spent the entire church service stretching out my left calf {the elderly lady next to me gave me the stink eye several times, but I swear, my feet were clean and I was not being disruptive… I just kicked my sandals off for effectiveness}. And I really think because of a 45 minute stretch that’s why my leg didn’t hurt nearly as much as I’ve grown to dread.

Anyway, at almost 3 miles, I realized that if I didn’t get off the treadmill ASAP, I would regret it. I totally forgot to potty before I came to the gym and it is a lesson I will not soon forget! Finished my last mile… I’d like to say strong, but to be honest, I was just barely making it… and then walked for about a quarter of a mile to cool down. Even with the potty stop and the transition to the track, I did fairly well with my time and I was super proud of the accomplishment.

This week, I have to make adjustments to my routine and will again next week as the pool is closed for repairs… perhaps that will be a great day for a family hike instead!

Mighty Mommy Monday – Training Week 1

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year AND run a half marathon in October! Join us!


Monday morning and today is the first day of my official 1/2 marathon training! I’m not sure if I’m excited or overwhelmed, but either way, I am 12 weeks out from race day and it’s time to get serious! I am following the Hal Higdon plan for novices. 3-4 days of running, 2-3 days of cross training and 1 rest day. Up until now, I’ve been running times a week, not usually going much over 2.5 miles. I’ve been working to build the consistency and speed for the last 3 weeks, so I’m hoping it pays off!

This week:
Monday – “stretch and strengthen” I plan to use this as my yoga and weights day. According to the plan, Sundays are long run days so I think I’ll really enjoy the low impact workout!
Tuesday – run 3 miles {my current goal pace is 12 min/mile… I’ve been working hard to get it down to that time and I still have a little bit of work to do}
Wednesday – Run 2 miles or Cross Train. If I run 2 miles, I’ll do speedwork, but if it works out for me to attend a fitness class instead, I’ll do that!
Thursday – Run 3 miles + strength {either weight routines or a 30 minute kettlebell session}
Friday – REST!!!!
Saturday – 30 minute swim
Sunday – 4 mile run

That’s this week’s plan. I’m being very conscious about my eating since the last few weeks I haven’t been and my joints and digestive system have been angry, angry, angry. I’m also continuing with my evening routine of heading to bed by 10, reading for half an hour and lights out NO LATER than 11. Lots of water and making sure I’m getting plenty to eat. All this work isn’t going to mean a thing if I’m hungry! My birthday is this week and I know we will be out of town, so that day I will just have to be more mindful about getting my run in and staying hydrated.

The closer the race date gets, the more people I discover I know who will be running the same race! So it’s good to know that there will be familiar faces along the route!

What about you? What’s the longest race you’ve ever participated in {or are training for}?

Thursday Simple

It’s late on Thursday afternoon and I just put chicken in the oven. Because it’s late and the kids just want to play outside, it’s not the time for fancy. But then again, when is it ever? So chicken breasts, a schmere of cream cheese and salsa. The oven is on at 350 degrees and in a little over half an hour, supper will be waiting. Which is good because I’m craving a simple routine.

I realized this week, while I was sitting on the beach at Lake Erie watching the kids play that I’d run out of scheduled posts. And I honestly had the thought that I should whip out my phone and write something. No. See I feel like everything and everyone is over connected and I’m desiring a little bit of space from the interwebs. So instead of posting about my weekly workout schedule for Mighty Mommy Monday, I went and played in the water with the kids. On the drive home, I decided that I’d be shutting my computer off during the day, deleting Facebook from my phone and take a free-day from all the connections once a week. I’m kind of drastic when I make decisions.

And then, there was a meeting Tuesday morning that gave me more copy work than I realized was coming and the reality is that my computer can’t be turned off as much as I want. Yesterday, I spent my afternoon working on our homeschool year prep. I plan to start our school days on August 18th. I’ve got about 3 weeks to get organized and of course, yesterday I started to second guess my reading program plans. So instead of letting myself go all Type-A on my calendar, I slept on it. And called my mother-in-law in the morning. Wisdom, people, wisdom.

Looking forward at my calendar, I see that it’s gonna be full for the next several weeks… well into October, actually. I officially start training for the 1/2 marathon on Monday so no more will I be able to choose laundry over running. You laugh, but it’s true. When I’m procrastinating, my laundry skills are amazing. But here I am, one foot out the door of these preschool days, and looking ahead into life with no naps, homework and lots of opportunities to be busy.

The church we go to is currently undergoing a transition to a new senior pastor. In doing so, we’ve also transitioned to a new worship pastor and are currently transitioning to a new children’s pastor. During this transition, there have been a few changes, but none that really impacted our family directly. Last Sunday, our new senior pastor interrupted his sermon to talk about some of the structural changes coming to the church’s calendar. To be quite honest, I expected the calendar to grow.

Instead, it was announced that they were going to combine events, cut out extra days of programs and in general, work toward us being more close-knit and family based. I sat there, tears welling up in my eyes, so excited for the future. Why? My parents always were heavily involved in the churches we went to. Head usher, deacon board, worship coordinator, I was even the sundar school director as a high school sophomore in one church that we attended! Very involved and as a result, bitterly burnt out. As an adult, I’m super careful about where I spend my time volunteering. At this point, I feel my plate is full. I’m content with my involvement and Matt and I don’t see the need to add more.

Except that I wanted to add the Wednesday night services for the sake of our kids. Our church has an amazing children’s ministry, but I didn’t want to add another night of volunteering, or just drop the kids off and leave. For two years, I’ve bemoaned the absence of a Wednesday night program I felt like I could really sink my teeth into. The new pastors, though… they rearranged things so that the studies I wanted to attend during the week, but couldn’t justify the time for are now on Wednesday night. And we can finally attend, at our own pace and how it works for our family.

Like I said, I have lots of opportunities to be busy. But this is also a great time for me {and Matt} to work to teach our children about healthy boundaries and embracing a simple calendar. This isn’t to say that we haven’t always worked to keep it simple around here, it’s that with this new season in our own life, we have to once again sit down and assess how to keep it simple. I realized this afternoon what a blessing it has been to have a little boy with colic who grew up to be a little boy who doesn’t handle busy very well. In learning to take care of him, I’ve learned how to take care of myself! And in doing that, I’ve really learned to embrace simple and not feel guilty when I take of myself and my family. After all, isn’t that all that really matters?

Different, but the same

My brother and his family currently live in Germany. They are stationed there for the next while with the Air Force and while it’s a neat experience for them, it means I don’t get to see them until they are stateside. When they moved, my niece was almost 3 and my sister-in-law was newly pregnant. I was feeling a little more confident with my quilting, so I started looking at patterns right away, hoping to send a little bit of family over when the baby arrived.


But when the announcement came that it was not one, but TWO babies our family would be welcoming in June, I put all my plans on hold. Twins, to me, are an amazing gift and while I love the matching everything, I wanted to make the quilts different…. but the same.


In the end, I settled on fabric from the S’more Love line and used the same white fabric for the backgrounds. I also chose to make a scrappy binding for each of the quilts with material from the fabric line. Each quilt has a flannel back that coordinates with the colors on the tops.



Connor’s quilt was made using the greens, browns and oranges from the line. I embroidered his name on a block that looked like a tree. I know, cheesy… but cute! I added strips of fabric to the back of his quilt as well. His piecing was so simple, I felt like it needed a little jazz. I did straight line quilting on the background fabrics and really love the minimal feel.



Victoria’s quilt took a lot of time. As in, days to piece and layout the blocks. I used only the mustard and aqua prints so that her quilt has a bright, girly feel to it. It was quilted on an angle through all the wonky triangle.

The quilts were flown over to Germany this week with my father and step-mother. They will be spending time with their new grandchildren and exploring Europe for a few weeks… and considering my last experience with shipping something to my brother’s family, I’ll take the free space in my dad’s suitcase over a crate with my niece’s birthday gift sitting in port for 7 weeks thankyouverymuch! I’m anxious to hear what they think of the quilts, but I guess more importantly, I’m hoping that when I do get to finally meet these adorable little ones the quilts will be very well loved!

Clearing the cobwebs

I felt stunned when I looked at the calendar this morning. How is it Thursday already?! Oh I know. I let myself get submerged in anxiety at the beginning of the week and just haven’t quite bounced back from it. The first time I had a panic attack that left me wiped for two days, I was 12. Since then, it’s just something I have to work really hard to protect myself (and by default my family) from. And by the nature of how things have been lately, I just let myself  get swept away. I hate it when I feel like this: disconnected, exhausted and short. I’m thankful that my life and my mental health has changed enough that this is becoming a more and more rare experience. Growth. And Grace.

It’s been unseasonably “cold” these last few days as well, so it’s been a perfect time to test out some art projects, snuggle under the quilts (I’m still shocked that’s even a thought in JULY) and slow down. I’m preparing the next issue of our church’s devotional magazine and discovered a new tool last night while playing around with InDesign. I apologize in advance to those readers who notice a change in this issue with the styling. I’m an all or nothing sort of person.

On Tuesday, my friend Jen suggested taking Liam to the eye doctor for a checkup. He’s constantly falling over items, steps and the ground in general. And recently, his distance recognition of letters and numbers has been way off. Yesterday morning, I made a quick call to the eye doctor and got two, back-to-back appointments for the afternoon. Looking back on it now, I can see how God orchestrated all these little happenings to make this work: my friend was in the backyard and witnessed Liam tripping which led me to voice my frustration for him. I placed my call while Sylvi was eating breakfast and Liam was still in bed – the office had just opened and I got to pick from the whole day (I later overheard that they have NO appointments until the middle of August.) And the doctor was amazing with both kiddos. Such a pleasant appointment and they were equipped to handle even the eye glasses fitting for Liam before we left. And the best part is that he’ll have glasses and be adjusted to them before school begins!

This afternoon, I pulled out my precious dust buster and started cleaning out all the dead June Bugs in my window sills. So good for my soul. After 3 days of feeling like I have been cluttered and dusty in my mind, I told myself enough is enough and it was time to start the mental cleaning. It takes time, you know. And it takes a lot of effort to put the icky thoughts out. And to constantly remind yourself that our God is bigger than the worries and the anxieties that constantly attack our minds. But in the end, the work – the trust and faith – so worth it.

Shooting for the moon baby quilt


Sadly, this is the only photo that got taken of this quilt. I worked like a crazy person in the week prior to this one’s completion because I had three baby showers in the space of 10 days! It was a day or two before I realized that I hadn’t even photographed this one so I’m very grateful that my friend Terri snapped this quickly!

Again, another prechosen fabric bundle from Fabricworm, and that adorable astronaut fabric is amazingly soft flannel. I bound with the same navy blue dotty fabric from the churn dash quilt. And once again, this is another pattern from Camille!