And then there were three… 


I failed as a mom with keeping monthly updates on Eli. Being a mom of two was just way more work and blogging took a back seat. Like way back. To the back of the bus. And then I completely stopped blogging at all. 
For a while I felt like a terrible mom. I blogged about Alston’s every move and with Eli I could barely keep up a monthly post. What gives?? Well, I was busy. You know, being a mom. I took a million pictures and some hilarious videos. They’re just saved on my computer. And when Instagram came along that became my creative outlet for keeping track and sharing. But now I’m back. And while I wont be writing down the kids’ every single adventure, I’ll be here. I’m planning on back tracking to make photo books for the past 8 years, but those will be for us to keep and pass down later. 

However, it would feel weird not to write an official introduction to our newest little dumpling. Miss Emma Marie has definitely made our lives feel complete. She’s the princess of the house – doted on by her big brothers and her daddy. She’s 8 months old already – only a few short mi the until she turns one! So be on the lookout for a post all about her grand entrance into this world. 

Advertisements

The Homestead

But first, a picture story…

IMG_1758

The concrete slab looked really small and I had to keep reminding myself that it was actually 2400 square feet.

IMG_1788

Once the walls were up it started to feel a little bigger…

IMG_1797

Interior walls!

IMG_1809

And the trusses go up… (Lesson learned: never stack windows in the Alabama heat… they warp.)

IMG_1819

It finally looks like a real house!

IMG_1891

Galvanized aluminum roofing

IMG_1959

Hardiplank vertical board & batten siding going up

IMG_2010

Choosing green paint… the top is Benjamin Moore Eucalyptus Leaf and the bottom is Guacamole. We chose Guacamole. 🙂

IMG_2155

Patrick poured and stamped our porch. This is while the concrete is still drying…

IMG_2166

Patrick “antiquing” the porch. You can see where Alston wrote Emma’s name in the concrete…

IMG_2174

IMG_2175

IMG_2176

IMG_2178

IMG_2182

An “after” photo of the porch with the first coat of seal.

IMG_2219

Drywall in the master bathroom…

IMG_2220

Master bedroom…

IMG_2223

French doors to the back…

IMG_2260

Paint crew! We chose to have all of the rooms painted the same color (except Emma’s). We chose a nice neutral grey/beige – Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige.

IMG_2272

The front porch goes up!

IMG_2273

Side view of the porch…

IMG_2281

Our first pieces of furniture…

IMG_2290

Living Room

IMG_2293

Master Bedroom (and front door staining room)

IMG_2314

Emma’s room

IMG_2315

Living Room (again)

IMG_2416

Kitchen (in progress)

IMG_2417

Custom vanity in the master bathroom…

IMG_2418

Kids’ bathroom vanity…

IMG_2421

Emma Marie arrived December 2, 2015

IMG_5310

The exterior (almost done!)

IMG_5332

Back and Side view…

IMG_5333

Side view (french doors to the kitchen)…

IMG_2690

We spent Christmas “camping out” in the camper and Neece & Poppas’s… it was 72 degrees and Santa left his gifts outside. A Christmas to be remembered, for sure.

IMG_2715

January 4th – we spent our first night in the house!

IMG_2752

The floors may still be dirty, but at least we have a television. I mopped the floors at least 8 times before they were livable “clean”. I’m still finding spots of dirt in less obvious places.

Building a home is hard. It is frustrating and discouraging and can be downright depressing.

The bank process took forever. First there was the purchase of the land, which was its own weeks long process, and then there was the construction loan. Don’t get me started on construction loans. Of course we had to sell our house to be able to manage any of it, because Patrick and I are regular ol’ people who couldn’t afford a mortgage, a land payment and a construction loan. The banks are real picky about stuff like that. Especially when one spouse is self-employed. I had no ideas of grandeur about this process and i knew it was going to be hard. It was. We didn’t let it discourage us, though. We stuck with it to follow our dreams. And when God tells you to do something, you do it.

For many months before we sold our house, I started to feel very unsettled about where we were in our life. It was almost like I felt stifled by the everyday stuff. I knew our family was supposed to be somewhere with land and not in a neighborhood. I knew that we were supposed to be closer to Patrick’s hometown and our friends with children. I knew that I wasn’t supposed to be struggling to get through the everyday life of being a working mom. (But that’s a story for another day…) So we sold our house (which took about 6 months), packed up all our stuff into two storage units and moved in with my parents. Who then decided they wanted to sell their house, too. So we moved to Patrick’s mom’s. We stayed there for about 8 months. 8 months. No matter how much you love your family or your in-laws, 8 months is a long time for two momma hens in one house. I know people did it back in ye olden days – crammed all their immediate into one tiny house – but its not ye olden days. So in May of 2015, we started house-sitting for another family member. And ended up staying there for another 7 months. 7 months! Bless them. We love them so much for sheltering us as long as they could. They really are like a 5th set of parents to us. And it was actually really fun, until the pregnancy nesting kicked in and I had no home to nest in. Every pregnancy instinct that says, “Get ready! The baby will be here soon!” had to be stifled while I said, “Shut up, instincts! I don’t want to think about the fact that I’m extremely pregnant and have no home. Let’s just pretend its not an issue.”

So what took so long?? We didn’t hire a contractor and did a lot of the work ourselves. (When I say ourselves, I mean that I ordered stuff while Patrick handled all the subcontractors.) We thought that as long as we did as much as we could ourselves that we would save money. We hired people we knew since Patrick has lots of connections in the homebuilding world. And we did save money. But when you save money, you lose time. You have to pick. Get it done faster for more money, or save money and get it done whenever your people can squeeze it in between their real jobs. That was all cool until March, when we found out I was pregnant. Then we had a timeline. We needed to be moved in by Thanksgiving. We were so close. Mere weeks from it. Those last 9 weeks were killer. Inspections. Those inspections killed our Thanksgiving deadline.

When I went in for my 36 week check-up (sometime during the last week of October), the doctor said she expected Emma within the next week. Our house was pretty much finished but weren’t close to being able to move in. Luckily, Emma did not make an early appearance. Nor did she come by her due date. I think she could sense my panic at not having our own home and decided to stay put. But on the morning of December 2, she decided to make her grand entrance. That is also a story for another day.

So we had a baby without having our own home to bring her to. Then we spent another Christmas in a home that wasn’t ours. And let me tell you, I cried. so. much. I think even without the pregnancy and postpartum hormones, I would have shed just as many tears. But people kept telling me how strong and patient I was. The word longsuffering comes to mind and now I understand that Bible verse a little better…

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

I didn’t feel strong or patient, but I know I must have been. God was teaching us a lesson. I’m not even sure what the lesson was, but there was one tucked into all of those months of waiting. And to be perfectly honest, there were times when I couldn’t remember why we were causing ourselves so much trouble. God had given us a vision – he placed those desires in our hearts. I know this because I was perfectly content with my little family in our cute little home in a quiet little neighborhood. Until one day I wasn’t. So I tried to remember that there was a purpose for everything. And finally – FINALLY – on January 4th, they turned our power on. And we had heat and hot water. And that was all I needed. We had already moved some of the larger furniture into the house. We sat a tv on the floor, hooked up a dvd player and called it home.

So we officially began this journey in January of 2014 when we put our house on the market and moved into our new home in January of 2016. 2 years to realize a dream. But we did it!

The Little Things

Hi friends. Can we talk about things?
Things that seem small but are really, really huge?

We have a fence. And a gate.
And a temporary power pole and paperwork for a permit to hook up the power.
We have a building site with the four corners staked out.
We have a floor plan that I designed, that Patrick and I have nitpicked to death until we’re sure it’s absolutely perfect. And we have a guy to do the blueprints.
We have a vision. And it’s simple and it’s not the norm, but it’s ours.
We started this adventure over a year ago and its been long and hard and scary and frustrating but also exciting and wonderful. We have achieved so much already and know what we want the rest of our lives to look like. We have sacrificed what is easy and convenient to get there. We never thought it would be easy, but we know it will be worth it. And like I said, its hard. I have to stay focused on the big picture – the reason we started this journey in the first place. I try not think too far ahead or I get overwhelmed by the details and I start to panic. Meltdowns have occurred. I am not ashamed to admit it. But I want to document this adventure. The good, the bad, the ugly. Up until now, I haven’t thought it worthwhile to talk much about it because it didn’t seem like we were making much progress; then recently I realized that every step, no matter how tiny, is significant. It all adds up to the big picture.
Bear with us friends, its going to be a long road… but when its finished, we’re having a party and you are all invited!

Our Plans and God’s Plans

Sunset at The Homestead

In August, we closed on the 34 acre piece of property that I lovingly named The Homestead the first time I set foot on it. It has since become known as The Farm, The New Land and, more commonly, just The Land.

A lot of the timber from the land was cut some time ago, but they left quite a few very large trees and one very large stand of pines. Once the land was officially ours, we began working to get all the brush and underbrush cleared off. We planted the bare spots and have our future home site picked out. While we are anxious to start building, we want to go about it the best way possible. We are trying to be smart about our time and money, so while we live with Patrick’s parents for the time being, we are working towards becoming debt free. This is an opportunity we will never have again, so we are trying to be patient and let God handle things His way. Its hard, friends. Its close to Christmas and I don’t have a house to decorate. I can’t tell you when I will have a house either. It would be nice to say that we are expecting to start building by a certain date and we will be moved in by another, but thats just not how it is working out. I’m learning a great deal about patience and trusting in God for everything. Its a hard lesson, but I know its one I have to learn. People keep asking me how its coming along and all I can do is shrug. Things are happening, just very very slowly. I have absolutely no control over any of them. So I’m slowly learning to let go and lean on Him. I trust His timing and His judgement. I try to stay positive and live in the here and now. If I didn’t it would be way to easy to cry over what I don’t have instead of celebrating what I do have. I have a healthy happy family. I have a roof over my head. I live in a country where anything is possible. I can go to church and worship God freely. I’m beyond blessed.

So for now, I will fill up Pinterest boards for my forever home and enjoy the freedom of not owning a house and I will do it with a thankful heart.

2013 Best & Worst

2013 was a great year. In some ways, it was the hardest year I’ve ever had, but it was also the best.

In 2013:

  • Patrick turned the big 3-0. He gets better looking every year, darn him.
  • After being off anti-depressants for almost 3 years, I ended up going back on them. I am happy and thankful for modern medicine. Having a chemical imbalance does not mean I am crazy, but it does make me act that way. If you are struggling, run – don’t walk – to your doctor. Life is too short to struggle with that battle on your own.
  • I gave up alcohol. Alcohol is not a friend of depression. People constantly question my decision, but I stand firm beside it and it makes me a better person.
  • I totaled my Jeep Compass but came out completely unscathed. Gap coverage paid off my Jeep AND gave us money back. I was able to buy a newer car for half the payment. That, my friends, was definitely a God thing.
  • We welcomed a new family member to the family… a brindle Pitt named Bolt. Alston named him after the Disney movie. He sleeps with the boys and he will eat you if you try to mess with them. Best $45 I’ve ever spent. 
  • I had a couple of rough patches at work, but made it through alive. Barely.
  • I also had my two very best days at work ever: Superhero window washers & Craft Day with patients. Amazing.
  • I started running and did my first 5k. With two kids in a jogging stroller. I’m not gonna lie – I walked it.
  • I read too many books to count. Some were fabulous, some were terrible. My absolute favorites include The Fault in Our Stars, The Book Thief and Forgotten God.
  • I went on a fabulous beach trip with my best girls from high school. I swear it added 2 years to my life expectancy.
  • We made a trip to visit my (HUGE) family in Missouri for the 4th of July. Best family vacation. Ever. (Even with the puppy poo incident.)
  • I celebrated with friends at our 10 year high school reunion. I do not feel old.
  • I went to the Circles Design Conference in Grapevine, Texas and came back inspired and refreshed.
  • Patrick officially started his own business (finally!) and has had much success. All thanks to God.
  • We paid off some debt. More thanks to God.
  • We decided to put our house up for sale by owner and did some house projects we had been putting off.
  • We celebrated Alston’s 5th birthday and Eli’s 2nd. These boys are growing up too fast, but make our life crazy fun.
  • I went to several movie marathons with my bestie. She’s the bestiest. The Beautiful Creatures Debacle of 2013 will never be forgotten.
  • I learned the importance of the 2nd Amendment after a weirdo followed me home. I am armed, so weirdos beware.
  • We got to have my brother Logan with us for Christmas. He has grown into such an awesome young man and I am super proud to call him family. Eli is infatuated with his “Unter Wodan”… I’ve never seen him warm up to someone so quickly. Except, Aunt Katelyn… Unter Wodan’s equally fabulous other half. 🙂
  • And had way more fund and too many wonderful adventures to list them all…

Yes, 2013 was amazing. And hard. And wonderful. I fully expect 2014 to hold more than I could ever imagine. Have you ever met someone who was excited about their thirties? Well, this girl is. This is my last year of my twenties and I can’t wait to see what it brings. Happy New Year y’all!

The Best of October

The morning of Alston’s 5th birthday…

Annual Birthday Zoo Trip

Pawpaw, Mammy, Aunt Jo Jo, Josie and Ally joined us this year…

Train ride…

Watching the sea lions practice their show…

Monster Birthday bash with our friends!

Alabama vs. Tennessee

“Dog don’t talk.” -Eli

Halloween Ice Cream with Mammy and PawPaw

Scary Skeletons

Art (and food) Wednesday

Last week, on my long (but therapeutic) drive to work, I had a brilliant idea to inspire more creativity in my life. I haven’t visited many of the local galleries and decided that, as a local artist myself, I probably should. So I grabbed a few of my work friends, and set out on an adventure. We visited Melt (A Grilled Cheese Food Truck), had a sidewalk picnic, and then set out on our first gallery visit. The week I chose Space One Eleven. Why? Because it was the first one that popped up in Google. Very scientific.

I was more interested in the children’s art installation pieces than the actual show in the gallery.

Roast Beef Grilled Cheese

“Posters without Borders”

Children’s Art Installation “Our City”

PS… Today is Alston’s birthday… he is FIVE. We are celebrating accordingly. 🙂 More to come on that!