living in community.

I am hard to be friends with. I know this. I am demanding, selfish, self-centered, opinionated, critical and well, the list goes on and on and on. I’m guessing the hardest thing about me is how intrusive I am. If you are friends with me I want to know everything from your bra size to your income to your deepest fears. I want all the grit  The ugly stuff no one wants to show anyone. AND I want them to know all of that about me. Maybe that’s the hardest part! That I share EVERYTHING. If you are my friend I am pretty much an open book. You know when I poop, what’s left in my bank account and you see me cry.

Because of this I never have very many friends. Or close friends I should say. And honestly, too many friends overwhelm me! It’s hard to be that close to too many people. I have LOTS of women I just adore though. So many I wish I knew better and wish I hung out with more and wish I could get to know all that gritty stuff. But at the end of the day I have just a few close friends.

Angie is my best friend. And although that seems so juvenile to say because really, since I have so few I would consider them all my best friends, it’s just true. Angie is the person that literally knows everything. She’s seen me at my worst and still loves me. In fact, she’s taught me more about grace in a friendship than anyone ever has. Forgiveness too. She’s awesome at that because I screw up a lot! She’s the person I would go to with my deepest darkest thoughts and I know she’d not only make them lighter, she’d share hers with me. If she moved away or anything ever happened to us it would feel like I lost my left leg. She’s who I feel like I’m in a marriage with… if that makes any sense. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. She’s in the trenches with me and I can’t imagine walking this road without her.

Kim is my partner. She’s another person who offers me constant grace as I’m ALWAYS behind in work or struggling to keep up or forgetting to do whatever. She’s also the least judgemental person you could ever meet. On our way to and from sessions she’s usually quiet and I’m talking her ear off about things she probably doesn’t even want to hear but she NEVER makes me feel silly for sharing (or over-sharing) so much. She’s also my better half. For Fresh Art, the things I truly suck at she excels at and when I have something personal going on she picks up my slack without skipping a beat. She keeps me in line and keeps me on task, keeps me laughing and passionate about our job. She’s helped me grow so much as a photographer these last two years it’s insane.

Adriane is my newest friend and has brought so much to my life. When we started talking more last fall I honestly was worried because I felt there was no room for another good friend in my life (because for me, close friendship takes a lot of time) but oh how God had other plans. A (I call her “A” because saying Adriane all the time gets to be too much for my mouth!) is sort of like that last surprise baby… she filled a void in my life I didn’t even know was there and now I can’t imagine life without her. She was the first person who really helped me understand what it means to live in community and I came to lean on her a lot. We helped each other with driving kids around, she was a house I could dump my kids if I needed quick+last minute baby sitting and she fed us multiple times this year while we were without our own home. The biggest thing she’s brought to my life is a renewed love for Christ. God brought her transparent love for Christ into my life at the exact moment I was open to receive it. Watching her live her life for the Lord is breathtaking.

So I have these three amazing friends. Plus I have my sister of course, who is just as incredible as those three women. She swooped in this week and took my kids so we could work on the house and move in! Who does that? Five kids ages 1, 3, 3, 4 and 6 for four days? Insane! But she’s doing it with grace and ease and even if she hated every second of it (which would be totally normal) she would never let me know so that I wouldn’t worry. She’s my past and gets parts of me no one does. And really, she’s seen the worst in me more than anyone else has, ever. Because I was a total crap-ass big sister for 90% of her life and yet, she still loves me.

So I have these four amazing friends.

Anyway, at Bible study yesterday the speaker (who is yet another woman I wish I had time to get to know better because she’s awesome!) talked about how God calls us to live in community. To share life with those walking the same paths and even those who have strayed or are on a different path completely. It was such an incredible talk and one that will stay with me for a long time. It’s made me think, almost non-stop, about my community and just how dang blessed I am. Abbie snatched up my kids when I wasn’t sure how to balance it all anymore, Angie and Adriane have been painting all week with me and Kim is finding the most perfect house warming gift (she is hands down the best gift giver I’ve ever known!) to help make our house a home. My dad has been working around the clock building our custom built-in cabinets around our fireplace (I can’t wait to show you photos!!!). My mom has had the kids for days on end, has done our laundry and cooked our meals while we work on the house. Terri has painted and sewn for us, Jack has painted/patched/ripped out/etc and Tim (Adriane’s husband) has done every odd job we throw at him. Kevin (Angie’s husband and C’s best friend) has painted and helped keep C sane. Sharon and Tom have stopped by (getting Mac time is SO precious to me!), Julie sent over a carseat when all I did was casually mention needing one on this blog, so many people have sent us random Lowe’s gift cards to help with the financial burden and the list seriously goes on.

How did we get so lucky? So blessed? Why do we deserve all of this?

And yesterday Heather’s talk reminded me that we’re all the body of Christ. We’re living in community with one another. It’s that simple. We just happen to be the needy ones right now. And while the feelings of gratitude overwhelm me at times I realized yesterday that I would do it all for any of those people and more. You’d do it for anyone.

Today at QT I was getting a soda and a man walked up to C and I asking for gas money to “get further down the road” while he looked for a job. Chris and I had just been talking about how tight money is right now after a month of money flying out the door we finally have to just stop the renovations, pause, save more cash and wait before we take on one more project. We had just discussed how important every dime is when a stranger in need asked for our money. So I gave him $20 without even thinking about any of that. “OF COURSE we’ll help you sir…is this enough?” We live in community. He needed it and we had it. As simple as that.

Tonight as I painted and chatted with two of my dearest friends I was just so taken aback at my blessed life. To be able to live in community with them, and so many others, is such a huge blessing God has bestowed on our family. And while I may never be able to give my friends so much time at their houses working on projects to pay them back, I can pass it on in other ways. I love that living in community is messy and never perfect. That it’s about being there for the happy times, the saddest times and the mundane. I love being there for the mundane.

Thanks to everyone that has helped us during this house buying time in our lives. We had NO idea what it would take to get our home move-in ready and we couldn’t have done it without any of you!

it’s taking longer than we thought!

Why does working on a house go SO slow? Ugh! We have one week from today to be living there and it’s not close to being liveable yet! Right now I should be folding laundry and getting ready to head over there in 45 minutes but after talking to my sister this morning I realized I haven’t posted any photos of what we’re doing over there yet! So I’m pausing (read: laying in bed amongst the pile of clean clothes waiting to be put away) to get a few things blogged!

We’re starting with the upstairs, which is the closest to being finished right now.

Here are some BEFORE shots (I took all of our “before” photos with the last home owners furniture in there so the change would be totally dramatic)…

When you walk up the stairs there is a fairly large open space up there. The city does not call this a bedroom but we sure do! Gray will sleep in this open space for a few years until we’re able to add on to the house.

There were mint green carpet and walls up here. The night we closed Chris started ripping out the carpet!

This huge window looks out over our front yard.

So the first thing Chris did (with the awesome help of his brother, Jack) was to rip out the carpet and prime the old hard wood sub-floor. Then Chris and his friend Kevin painted two coats on the ceiling to brighten it up a bit. I’ve done the rest!

We chose a blue for Gray’s room (it’s the same color as our bedroom downstairs and the hallway coming up the steps will be this blue with a lot of white added in so it transitions nicely. The girls room is yellow and will have some prints from my favorite artist in there to bring the two colors together! I bought THIS print and THIS one. That second link will be framed in between photos of the girls! SO cute!

FIRST though I had to paint THREE coats of white paint on the woodwork. That was a total nightmare. Just boring boring work I did all alone over a couple of evenings. $1 Redbox movies and my laptop were my saving grace!

You can see some issues we’ve run into since tearing things apart. The baseboard at the bottom left of the image is about two inches crooked. My dad says he can work some magic on this. The hole in the floor of the girls room has a cover for it as it’s a cold-air return. And if you look on the ceiling to the left of the door you can kind of see a huge water mark. They must have JUST covered that up when we bought it b/c as C was painting the ceiling the mud/tape came right down! So Chris and my dad had to find the leak and repair it! That corner jutting out where the baseboard is wonky and the stain is is a chimney so Chris was on the roof for a few days taking out all the mortar and repairing/patching/sealing that chimney! I still need to repaint the ceiling and I bet I’ll be saying that in like 5 years!

After the floors are painted (finish photos coming soon b/c I am actually done!) we’ll add quarter-round along the baseboards for a more finished look.

Just a tiny sneak peek but more coming soon! I have so much to catch up on! Heading over there now!


We are 10 days from moving into our new home and the thing I’m most excited about is finding our new normal again. I miss the normalcy. The every day mundane things that make up a life. Doing laundry in my new washer/dryer, cooking meals in my own kitchen, tucking the kids into their own beds, organizing closets and picking up toys. In our own home.

Growing up all I wanted to be was a mom and a wife. I had no idea how much having our own home was a part of that dream. But it turns out that its a pretty big part.

When Chris and I were in college our freshman year we talked endless hours on the phone because we were a few states apart and madly in love. Our “today” was pretty miserable without one another so we spent lots of time talking about our tomorrow. It seriously boggles my mind that at 18 I was dreaming of the exact life I get to live now with the man I get to share it all with. The kids we wanted (Summer and Taylor were our names of choice back then!) are more incredible than I ever dreamed and now we have a little house all our own. The funny part is that as a kid I just assumed the house was a package deal. You get married, have kids and own a home. I had NO idea that kids are easy to come by (at least for me) but that a house was so darn hard to attain.

I can’t even describe what it feels like to finally accomplish this last piece of the puzzle. To have this little house we get to create memories in. A place to hold our family and our future. Oh how even in the midst of countless hours of painting and seemingly endless construction I am falling in love with our quirky little home. I can’t wait to share the before and after photos with you!

But still, the thing I am MOST excited about is watching my kids enjoy the everyday moments again. Playing, making messes, creating and living in their own space. AH! 10 days! Anyone want to help me paint?

thursday thoughts.

Have I told you that Gray is potty trained? As in no accidents? It happened in May and it’s been an awesome addition to our summer! We’re also considering kicking him out of the convertible car seat to the high-back booster seat simply because then the girls can help him latch the seat belt and for the first time we’ll be car seat free! Who cares that he should stay in the convertible seat facing backwards until he’s ten, we’re talking NOT BUCKLING A KID ANYMORE! Safety be damned, I want life to be easy!

So when he poops he watches for it to fall and when there’s not just one turd but two he gets SO excited because his poop can have a friend! They’re poop friends and then and only then does he like to flush. All other flushes are up to me but he likes to watch his friends float away together. I can’t wait to tell his wife this someday so if she ever sees him smile when he poops she’ll know it’s because his poop has a friend.

Since Parker’s second kidney infection I’ve started trying to wipe her poops again, which sucks because once my kids sit on the toilet I feel like I should get out of all butt wiping. But considering she’s prone to rare crazy-ass bacteria invading her body I guess I’ll take a few butt swipes instead.

Yesterday I was clipping all the kids fingernails, which is one of my all-time favorite Mommy things to do topped only by cleaning their ears (YES I shove Q-tips in their ears because the pleasure I get from an orange tip coming out at me is too much to miss), when Gray told me I stunk. “You tink Mommy! Ewwww. You TINK!” I didn’t worry about it because 1. I hadn’t showered yet and 2. I hadn’t even brushed my teeth so the kid had a point, but just as I was thinking I should really at least toss on some deoderant I smelled the “tink” and it was NOT me. Oh no. It was a fairly sizeable poop smear on my pj leg from where my naked son’s tush had been sitting. Obviously he’d had a juicy toot or something because nothing had been in his DRY pull-up when I let him get naked and sit on my lap. Before I called him gross and made him go find the baby wipes I thanked God that I had pants on that morning and not shorts because it would have been a whole other kind of disaster if that shit was on my bare leg.

Parker has been sleeping in my bed every night lately. Lately as in the last two weeks straight and it’s becoming an issue. I’m not sure why it started, except probably a storm, but it has to stop because once she’s in there I toss and turn until morning. Makes for one crabby lady. But it’s like she’s holding all the power because for some reason I don’t wake up when she comes in. So I’m powerless to her cuddle until she ninja chops me in the thigh and I wake up enough to curse her for being in my bed but not enough to do something about it. So from that point on I’m too asleep to get the hell up and move her but not asleep enough that it really counts as sleep. It’s a serious dilemma that I’m afraid will only be solved when we move into the new house and C and I are sleeping together again so there will be no room for her to invade.

A few weeks ago at the summer mom Bible study I’m going to the speaker talked about being a truth-teller. About telling your kids the truth because they learn about Christ’s love first at home and Christ was a truth-teller. And while I like to think I’m a truth teller I’m really one big fat lie after another all day long. “In a minute” means “Hells no but if I say no to you right now you will cry and complain and give me a headache so I’ll say ‘in a minute’ to shut you up and pray you forget completely.” Do you tell that lie? My entire day, to EVERYONE, is “sure, in a sec” or “just a minute” or “right after I finish this”. I say it to everyone. And so I’ve been convicted. Which is good because I’m really just changing my language to something that’s true like, “I can’t do that now so please come back and ask again later because maybe then I can”. But it makes me wonder what a day would be like if I had time and were able to do everything people asked of me right when they asked it. I’d never sleep that’s for sure. And I’d probably start drinking.

Bailey turned six on Friday and since we rescheduled her party for August when PLEASE GOD we are living in our new house, we gave her a YES day. Which meant I had to say yes to everything she asked for. I prepared myself to be running around ragged all day bending to her every whim but do you want to know something amazing? She hardly asked for anything. She wanted eggs for breakfast and egg-less pancakes for Parker and Grayson, she wanted to go to Purina Farms (something I kind of coerced her into after her initial request was to go to the Arch and I just didn’t have that in me), she wanted Steak n Shake for lunch and Happy Joes for dinner. In between she asked for NOTHING. No candy or playtime or anything. We had an awesome day and I realized just how cool my now six year old really is. She’s not a spoiled brat, she doesn’t have a sense of entitlement about her, she’s thankful for what she has and she’s happy. Now Parker’s YES day might be a totally different story!

I’m feeling unorganized lately and that bothers me to no end. But how can I not when we have our things at three houses right now? When I feel like this it makes me want to get every single part of my life organized RIGHT NOW which is impossible and that ends up sending me further into an out-of-control feeling spiral. So tonight while the kids bathed I sat in the upstairs family room at my parents and purged+organized the kid books. Something completely useless and should have been absolutely last on my gigantic to do list but man does it make me feel better to have one tiny part of our world in order right now! Is that sad?

It’s Thursday. And my brain is running so fast I wanted to just sit and let it flow. I don’t even know how many people read this blog and years ago that really used to matter to me but now it doesn’t. I don’t check stats anymore or care about comments. I’m trying to write more simply because one day I want my kids to really know who I was when they were little. When they’re a tired+overworked mommy I want them to come to this blog and see that I was too. And that it’s ok. It’s ok to have poop on your pants and laugh about poop friends and love your kids but sometimes want to run away from them because life with them is so fucking hard. I want them to know in the deepest part of their souls that I screwed up but the love never changed. That I tried my hardest and some days I didn’t try at all. My time feels so stretched but I want to try to make this blog more of a priority. Not so I can be the memory keeper for my family, but so that I can have a voice again. A voice that my kids might actually know and love one day.


Today is not about painting a house. Or fixing a chimney. Or building a mantle. Or taming a yard. It’s not about bills or budgets or financial decisions. It’s not about making clients happy or packaging orders or editing photos or answering emails.

Today the kids and I are just having a ho-hum regular stay-at-home day. Doing laundry, playing games, buying slurpees, eating pb&j’s for lunch and watching a movie instead of taking naps.

Today is an all-day Mommy day and I couldn’t be happier.

Clipping finger nails, buzzing Gray’s hair, wrestling on the floor, doing dishes, putting shoes on, cleaning out closets, you know, the everyday. The stuff that makes up our life. The things we sometimes dread doing but that need to get done. Chores. All the stuff I run around trying to do late at night when I have a minute, the stuff that never gets done or gets shoved down my to do list.

Today we stayed in jammies until I had to get a soda. We’re getting stuff done but being lazy too. Two years ago these days were my everyday and I was fairly miserable. Now I miss them.

Isn’t that funny?

the summer camping trip. part one.

A couple of weeks ago while Chris worked endless hours at the new house, I took the kids and went to our family reunion at Johnson Shut-Ins State Park. Aside from having NO water/bathroom in our cabin, it was a gorgeous park and we had a great time! I will admit there were moments I wished I hadn’t gone or just had C with me because although I had tons of family around to help, it was still overwhelming to be a single parent while camping (even cabin camping!), but in the end I’m so glad we went!

We started day one off at Elephant Rocks and the kids LOVED hiking on the rocks, jumping around and eating a picnic lunch Aunt Abbie packed for us all! It was HOT and it’s all Chris (my brother-in-law, NOT my husband) and I could talk about! And of course while we’re complaining about having sweat dripping in very uncomfortable places, my sister is all, “Oh, I’m not a big sweater and it’s really not that bad!” Jerk. It was like 125 degrees and hiking on those rocks felt like the surface of the sun! Ok, obviously I’m in kind of a complaining mood! HA! It’s a beautiful place and somewhere I can’t wait to go again with Chris in tow!

My sweet niece Avery!

I love watching my dad truly enjoy spending time with his grandkids! They bring out the very best in him!

Balance camera on rock and run like hell to get in at least one shot? Done. And done.

More soon!

bailey’s first four goals!

I’m so behind in blogging and it seems like all my favorite bloggers are in the same boat. Everyone I read regularly don’t post regularly anymore and now neither do I. There were YEARS I posted at least every day and I’m starting to really miss it… but time just seems to be slipping through my fingers right now. Between work and busy kids and rehabbing a house and preparing to move and trying to enjoy summer it’s exhausting. And every night I do still manage to get the days images off my camera and sometimes even edited but by then I am an exhausted mess and couldn’t put sentences together if I tried. Which is sad because I used to think I was a decent writer! Now, if I blog at night I always reread it the next morning praying I didn’t say anything too dumb! AND I have to do that over at Fresh Art as well because I blog there at night too. Ugh.

My resolution this year was to get back to daily blogging so this little online memory keeper was actually keeping our daily memories but we’re more than half-way through 2011 and so far I’ve stunk at keeping up. Whatever. At this point I have a folder on my computer called “today” and it’s where ALL the images I take of our life every day (because I still do really take at least a few images each day) go to hang out until I can 1. edit them and 2. blog them. Once they’re blogged they get reorganized. Because I’m anal. Anyway, there are almost 600 images in that “today” folder right now! HA! So my goal right now is to just start at any random place I want and start blogging our life, even if it’s from back in April!

Luckily, THIS blog is from just a week ago! When Bailey scored her first FOUR soccer goals ever! She’s on a little club soccer team called Webster United and Chris gets to help coach. She LOVES it! Last week our friend Kevin got to help coach too so our girls (Kate and Bails) were over the moon! Toss in FOUR goals and our girl was just beaming the whole way home!

Kate and her missing front tooth (which is now missing both front teeth and this kid can’t get any cuter if she tried!).

I don’t know if you can see this but she has her tongue poking into her cheek in this photo and it totally cracks me up! C’s dad, Bubba (Bill), sticks his tongue out when he concentrates on something and this SO reminded me of him!

Right before she scored and of course immediately after this shot I put my camera down so I could cheer and missed the actual goal!

She was so funny when she scored… she had a very serious look on her face with just a little smile she let creep onto her lips like she didn’t want to let anyone know just how thrilled she was with herself!

I hope I can remember her face in 20 years from that description because it was priceless and I was too busy holding back tears and clapping my heart out to take a photo!

We are SO proud of her because in a year she’s come so far! In the fall she cried before soccer and didn’t want to go or play once we got there. We made her stick it out to teach her responsibility but we didn’t make her play, she could sit and cheer on her teammates. Now, almost a year later she LOVES it and looks forward to her practices and games each week!

the people I don’t deserve. in no particular order.

My mom. For surprising us today and doing ALL our laundry. You have no idea what a blessing this is to me. Unless you have three kids and then you totally get it. For taking the kids tomorrow for us so we can work on the house. For cleaning up the whole house after a week of chaos. For constantly helping.

The Allen’s. For letting us come to the lake house today to just chill the heck out. One day of not stressing over the house to do list or work, just fun. For taking me antiquing while my clan slept and for taking us out for dinner. It was an amazing (too short) day.

My sister. For coming in town early to help with the kids. For keeping me sane during an intense week. For doing chores that I was slacking on. For our incredible gift you left us yesterday. For giggling with me and having fun. I couldn’t have made it through the week without you.

Our friends and family. For the support. The love. The HELP. The good wishes and constant prayers. For the gift cards to Lowes or Target or Home Depot. For the offers to help paint or help move. For helping with the kids.

My husband. For staying at the house for 12+ hours a day while I was out of town with the kids to get things done. For going over there tonight even after a long day at the lake to sand all the wood work in our bedroom and the kitchen cabinets. For trusting my vision. For surprising me the other night by ripping out the fake-wood kitchen floor down to the old+original wood floors and leaving me this to find in the morning:

I mean seriously. He was totally speaking my love language! Some girls might not think a bare+rough wood floor with “I love you” painted on it isn’t romantic but to me it couldn’t have been more romantic! He really is stepping up in ways I’ve never seen in the last week since we bought the house. I love seeing him so motivated to make this space our own!

Oh and don’t worry, those floors are already painted! :)