Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Farmhouse tour: The Bathroom

When you walk in our front door you land in the living room. To the left there is a hallway with the kids' rooms and two bathrooms. Our bedroom was an addition and is located on the back of the house. Currently it has no bathroom, so this following bathroom is the one that Andy, Lydie, and I use.
vintage white tile

Water efficient potty because our water is from a well.

Our vanity was supposed to be white. But I hated the color when it came in. So we went with this dark cherry one and I love it. Even though they were bought separately, it matches the mirrors perfectly. The walls are light blue.


brushed bronze hardware::subway tile::small jetted tub

We had everything torn out of this room, including the floorboards. There was some rotten wood under there where water had leaked over time. I planned on a completely different look. But I am so thankful that some things didn't work out with my original plan. It's a small, cozy bathroom. But we are enjoying it very much!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Farmhouse tour: The Kitchen

This is the happy view from our back door. View from the same side of the room, other corner. My turquoise hutch is well used and brightens the room. I really thought I would regret the color, but I haven't one bit. Sometimes risks pay off, I guess. That should be my new motto.
We use our dining room table for all meals. I am soon going to recover these chairs with a white and brown chevron pattern. It's very sassy. I might paint the chairs white, but I am definitely leaving the table its natural wood finish. I had so many pieces of art that I wanted in the kitchen that I just decided to make a gallery wall instead of choosing just one. It's a happy mix of bright colors, each piece showcasing my two favorite colors: yellow and turquoise.
This is the kitchen from the view of the table. That little white frig will soon be replaced by a stainless steel one. I have no idea what to hang above that little orange table and the trash can. It's an awkward space right now. But I ignore it because my new island has been so fun. I prep all of our food there. The vintage lights above the island make me feel like I am at my Nana's house. They make me happy.
Enjoying my open shelves! They are so bright and the dishes are all so accessible. The double oven has been a huge blessing, too.
Our counter tops are silestone tiles. I thought they would really bother me because there are so many places for crumbs to escape in the grout. But since I prep on the island it has been just fine. Maybe years down the road we will get solid surface counter tops. But that "want" is way, way down on my wish list!
I keep all of my pots, pans, and colanders right out in the open under the island. On top of the island is the pound cake our neighbor brought us. He is famous for it. It literally weighs a pound!
"Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all."

Julia Child

Saturday, March 26, 2011


We are all exhausted today. I did the math...I spent around 20 hours in the car this week going back and forth to town for school, errands, dr. appts., and baseball. It was all worth it, though. My boys are adjusting to it all so well. They absolutely love their new school. We are SO thankful. Joshua enjoys baseball, too. But his practices are intense- 8 hours a week! His little arm muscles were sore the first couple of days. But I really believe it has been good for him. And God has blessed my conversations with the other moms, too. I keep reminding myself it is only 9 weeks, I need to enjoy it. And I have so far. And Lydie, of course, has made friends everywhere she goes. I haven't mentioned her as much because I worry very little about her adjustment. :: Out for ice cream after the boys' first day of school::
Earlier this week Lydie and Andy were sick. Lydie got over the strep throat quickly, but broke into hives on Wednesday and still is covered in them. When she woke up on Wednesday with her eyes swollen shut I raced her to the doctor. Hives are fine, swelling is scary! He gave her a steroid shot that did the trick...for one day. Then Thursday morning she woke up covered again. Our new doctor whom we have become friends with might regret giving me his personal cell number! She broke out with hives a couple of months ago, too. The doctor said it was viral. I have no idea what is going on with her little body!

Before allergic reaction:

::Notice her swollen eyes and hives on her arms and neck. She was in no discomfot, despite the look on her face. She is just sad because she got out of bed and I threw on these clothes and we were about to race out the door to go to the doctor. My girl is not a morning person! ::

We have been racing to get things in the ground before the rain this week. I just planted a row of onions for Andy while he went down to the pastures to plow and fertilize. The kids and I also fertilized the fruit trees this morning. The big pastures need to be prepped now so they can "rest" before the seeds go in the ground. Farm life seems to revolve around the weather and timing. It's all a big adjustment and there is always so much to do. I am most excited about my big flower garden up here by the house. I will sell bouquets at a few farmer's markets this summer. I plan to save the profit for a trip to Disney World next year. (The flowers won't pay for the entire trip, of course. My goal is to make $1000, which means I will have to sell around 200 bouquets. I have no idea if that is feasible...we'll see.)
::here are our onions and carrots in the little garden by our house; in the top left corner of the picture is our brick farmhouse & in the top middle is our barn:: This morning I was the last one to roll out of bed at 8:00 and my sweet husband had pancakes hot and ready. I would consider myself a high-energy person, but I also require a good amount of sleep. A couple more months here and I might be in bed before the kids!
Happy spring! I hope this spring season will be full of renewal and joy for you!

Friday, March 25, 2011


Last Wednesday when the children came home from their grandparents, Andy and I realized we had hardly come up for air since our Saturday move. Our new pastor, his wife, and the church secretary greeted us on move-in day with a ton of food that provided every meal for those five days except for one night when we had bbq. What a warm, very thoughtful, welcome! It enabled us to work around the clock.

Like I mentioned yesterday, Joshua came home with a fever. I had no idea where to go for medical help. I had only located the hospital for true emergencies. But we hadn't even thought of who would be our new pediatrician. I texted my new friend (pastor's wife), but she was out of town. So I found a locally owned pharmacy and asked for a recommendation.

It turns out that their recommendation was for one of the nicest doctors I have ever met. Not only is he nice, but the entire staff was wonderful. Here's where the small town connections begin to be made. First, Joshua told the doctor that he was going to play baseball. It turns out that the doctor's son and Josh are on the same team. That lead to conversation about our other children. We told him about Lydie and Jack and about the boys' school. He, of course, knew most of the staff and children at the school and highly recommended it. I told him how sad I was that I had missed registration at the Methodist preschool for next year (this is the best one according to the talk around town). He told me to talk with the office manager on the way out, she would know someone who could help.

On the way out, I reluctantly mentioned my problem. This precious lady pulled me into a chair in her office while she called her friend, who called her friend, who called the director. I was sent directly there with a promised spot for next year, which I got. Then she sent me away with her personal number and her phone book. She assured me that she would treat me like family. Would you believe I have called her several times for help? Instead of nine degrees of separation, this town seems to have about two.

What I love about this small town is that everyone knows everyone. I love that those who grew up here respect the fact that we are farming and do not look at us like we are crazy, or uneducated, or well, crazy. And I love that when I have a problem people really get jazzed about helping me. In fact, they stop what they are doing until my problem is solved. And the pace is so, so much slower than I have ever known. It's nice. Except when I am driving. Then it gets annoying because I admittedly have a lead foot. There was a police man down the road this morning trying to hide and watch. I think someone called and told him I was speeding down this sweet, quiet, country road every morning. The reason I think someone reported me is because there is 18 miles of road between here and town and only two stop signs. I can not imagine any other reason he would be looking for speeders. Some mornings I do not see any one else during the first 12 miles on the way to school. Only animals. Note to self: Must set cruise control to 45 and forget about it.

But once I get to town, everywhere I look people are standing around talking to one another. In the middle of the store, on the sidewalks, in restaurants, at the gas stations, on benches-it's like they have no where else to be. People are always interacting, and you can tell by the relationships and connections that are in this community. It's a dream come true for a girl like me.

So I am trying to take a cue to slow down, build relationships, and serve others. Those three things have been my focus since we moved here. I have decided that I am going to start the habit in this new place of seeking out those who need a friend more than those who make me feel comfortable. It has been quite a challenge, but God has already opened the doors to fruitful conversations. I have learned of the widow's heartbreak, the alcohol/meth addict's struggle, and the foster mom's sacrifice. These are all treasured conversations that I would normally sacrifice for small talk with other moms more like myself. What a self-centered, hardened heart I tend to have! I think this radical move will be a good chisel. Praying to seek first HIS kingdom! Praying for the great privilege of being the hands and feet of Jesus!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

So much, where to begin?

Well here we are almost 2 weeks after the big move, and today we finally got internet service. So much has happened in 2 short weeks! Except for the "library", we are mostly moved in. (People in the rural south roll their eyes when I call that room the library. Sounds so snooty. But for some reason we can't shake the name.) I have this weird thing about moving in or packing a room. I can't check it off of my mental list until it is COMPLETELY done. As in, pictures on the wall and everything. So I spent the first 7 or 8 days completely exhausting myself, as did Andy. We unpacked, put together some new IKEA furniture, and hung pictures 16 hours a day for a week straight. It felt like I had the flu when I finally slowed down. During this process, I bet we have thrown away 3 dozen bags of junk and given away the same amount. (And I consider my self a purge-aholic. I guess I am not.)

The children were thrilled to be with grandparents from Saturday until Wednesday. Joshua came home with a fever. It turned out to be strep throat and then passed it to Lydie over the weekend. Today Andy awoke feeling sick. Lydie on the other hand woke up feeling 100% better, but covered with hives or in Lydie verbage "poke-a-dots". (She is officially allergic to penicillin. Good to know.)

In the midst of all of this chaos, we have been so enormously blessed. Andy started farming this beautiful land on Monday. Meanwhile, the boys started school and baseball. And Lydie Joy and I have spent our days getting to know the farm community as well as the small town 20 minutes away where we go to school and church. I have so many stories to tell already. So many stories of answered prayers, connections, small town friendliness, and how much I love it here already. Oh, and I will have to share house pictures, too. I can hardly believe what I am feeling. But for now I am signing off. It is 10:15 and it feels like the middle of the night for this farmer's wife!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Here we go...

Twelve strong men are probably getting up and drinking coffee in preparation for a long day at our house right now. We are so thankful for the help, as well as the help last night. What was supposed to be packing the furniture turned into packing over half the house. What a blessing. Praying for my heart to prize the joy of following Christ over the happiness of being comfortable. Praying for safety. Praying for new relationships to form and old ones to not fizzle. Praying for our current church and our new church. Praying that I can find that adventurous spirit that rears its head on occasion and enjoy the ride. And when this is too painful and I have prayed it through and find myself waiting for comfort, glad that I have a newly renovated house to decorate. That will keep me busy for a while. :)

Here we go. At noon today we will be off the the farm!

PS- Yes, Abby, our new pastor is your friend Harris. We are overjoyed.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Boxed in

Our entire house is boxed up except the kids' rooms. Today Liz and I will pack them up and be done with the boxes! The kitchen and pantry were quite a feat yesterday. I think I packed about 35/40 boxes. It felt like our junk was multiplying!

But everything has gone very smoothly this week so far. Today Lydie has her last day of preschool and then all three of the kids will play at friends. Tomorrow is my last day to homeschool the boys (this year). Before you are too impressed, know that we have only been doing math and language arts this week. No big deal.

Starting this afternoon when we are done packing, we will begin working on the state of our house. We have got a list of things that need to be done before we move. Mainly we need to putty nail holes on the wall and touch up paint. We are also in the process of hiring a landscaping and pool service. And then I have to make the calls to cancel internet, phone, and cable service. We will be wrapping it all up.

On Friday night our friends will help us load the big furniture on the moving truck. Then Saturday morning six or seven friends, plus some high school guys, will help us get the boxes and small furniture to the truck. This is amazing-we have five friends who are driving all the way across state lines to the farm with us to unload stuff on the other end. Unbelievable. On that end, our new church is providing a meat tray and breads to make sandwiches for dinner that night. Some men from our new church wanted to come and help at the farm, but we told them it isn't necessary. The children will be at their grandparents for a few days, beginning Saturday. I hope to have their rooms and the kitchen all settled before they return.

We have been taken care of in the most incredible ways this week! Thank you for those who have brought meals for us! Thank you for those who have played with our children. Thank you Lizzie for coming to help me pack today! Thank you for those who have dropped off boxes on our doorstep. (We have hardly had to buy any!) Thank you, Dawn, for the yellow tulips. I look at them every day and love them. You all have made this move so much easier for us! Looking forward to packing the last box today!!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Get together with my encouragement crew

Last night I was the recipient of another sweet night. My friends from our homeschool support group met together for dessert and coffee. What a blessing these women and their children have been for us in our homeschooling journey. We have shared so many fun memories. And our moms' nights have really put wind under my sails. Their stories, encouragement, and prayer for us have carried us along when we were stagnant. I will miss them so much!

(This picture was taken before the whole group arrived! Pictured L to R: Tammy, Alicia, Candy, me, Lisa. Not pictured: Jamie, Jennifer, Susan)

Here are some things that I have watched in these ladies' lives and tried to emulate:
to patiently wait on the Lord, to have a servant heart, staying in the Word, looking for the heart issues with my kids (and not just judging from the external behaviors), expecting high standards, making time for friendships, asking for help and being willing to receive it, and enjoying my children and husband. Thank you friends for your godly influence!

Here were the gifts that they gave me last night. (So unexpected, so thoughtful.)

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Sweet farewells

"Neither go back in fear and misgiving to the past, nor anxiety and forecasting to the future; but lie quiet under his hand, having no will but His..."
~H. E. Manning

Our amazing church family has once again showered us with love this weekend. We were thrilled that some of our friends came to our moving sale just to say hello and support us. We had a very good turn out, despite the rainy weather, and sold almost all of the furniture that we are not taking. I think it will significantly lighten the load on moving day. The very best highlight of the sale was not how much we sold, but when three of our friends from the high school/college group at church came over. They decided to hang out with us and cook us breakfast! They actually figured out where our dishes were and made our entire family omelets and grits for breakfast! And then to top that off, they cleaned the entire kitchen. We can never express with words what the youth group at our church means to us. We "signed up" to serve them, but they have blessed us beyond what I would have ever imagined. Isn't that always the way it goes? Later that day, Andy took the kids to eat with one of the dear couples in our church who are like adopted grandparents for our children. Mr. S is especially dear to Lydie. He came to our house when I had a miscarriage and stood in the driveway crying and praying with me. I fondly remember him afterward handing me a fruit tray telling me in his South African accent, "I didn't know what else to do!" From that day forward he prayed for us to have another baby. So when Lydie was born he adored her and he tells her every time he sees her that she is beautiful. In fact, he sheds a few tears every time he is around her. We adore his tender heart, and we trust he will visit us at the farm and continue to watch Lydie grow into a young lady!
While they were at dinner, I took some time alone to get my hair highlighted and go shopping. I have a whole bunch of unspent Christmas money and it seemed like a good time to spend some. I have been trying my best to process this move with my children in mind. I needed some time to have a go at it alone. But before the night was over, I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness. I still have that peace that only Jesus can give. But I am so very sad to be leaving. So I called my best friend Liz and she came to my rescue. She sat with me in Panera as I scarfed down a sandwich and moped. (By this time it was after 7 PM and I realized the omelet was long gone.) After an hour or two my spirits were lifted. I am so deeply grateful to God for a best friend.

Today we were again overwhelmed with the love of our church. They had a reception for us after church. It was so thoughtful because it enabled us to really take our time and say our good-byes. I can't express how helpful it was to me to be given this gift of time to speak to families individually. This church has been our happy place for seven years. We will never be the same!

After church, we went to a restaurant to discuss the day and connect with the kids. Our pastor happened to be in a nearby booth. When it was time to pay the check the waitress told us that he had picked up our bill. Seriously? I was too much. The entire day has been lavishly too much.

Tonight we attended our last fellowship night with our small group. We have been so blessed to be a part of this community with 5 other couples and their children. Not only are these the people who know the depths of our hearts and pray for us regularly, but our children have found best friends here as well. They decided to have a farm-themed party for us. They all dressed up, which is so us. They had little farm decorations and cupcakes. They served chicken pot pie and apple pie, and sweet tea. It was so thoughtful. Our leader chose a theme of verses for us. He used the acronym "IDEA" to stand for inheritance, delight, enemies, and abide. (IDEA was chosen because this idea of moving is such a crazy one!) He took these four themes from Psalm 37, which has been a special chapter for us. After reading the Bible, he lovingly exhorted us through this passage to cling to Christ. Then we sat on a bench and our group prayed for us, so individually and lovingly. Afterwards, Andy and I had some time to express our gratitude. It was a wonderful, bittersweet, and very touching night. I am so honored.

We came home with a binder that is filled with letters collected from people at church. It will be a precious treasure to us for the rest of our lives. Andy and I continue to ask God why two ordinary people are receiving such gifts? I believe that he is doing this for us to prepare us for the days ahead. I fully believe that His desire for us is to take all that we have been given and serve well in our new community. My deepest prayer is that all these gifts will overflow into the lives of our new (and old) friends! And that is something I can get excited about. May He receive all the glory! Lead on, O King Eternal!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Bathroom renovation, part 1

I said I was bored of decorating projects. But I am, however, excited about this one. Imagine a 50 (or 60?) year old bathroom. It is fairly small. It has mint green tile around the tub, around the walls, and on the floor. And in the center of the long wall of tile is a big brass heater that is built in. (Our farmhouse did not have central heat/ac until my Dad had it installed a couple of years ago!) Imagine a "white" sink, tub, and potty with large rust stains around the drains. Imagine cracks and nicks all over the place. Imagine a big, rectangular piece of glass for a mirror with dressing room style, brass lights. And imagine an old wooden vanity with all of the varnish rubbed or pealed off and old hardware. That was our main bathroom at the farm. The main bathroom needed help. Big time. So we called our trusty carpenter Bryan to the rescue again. (He is the one who renovated the kitchen.)
One quick note...this hiring help to renovate is so NOT the norm for us. In fact, this is the first time we have EVER hired anyone to do anything that we are capable of doing. Over the last 14 years we have learned to lay flooring, tile, install beadboard and crown moulding, paint, build furniture, landscape, install plumbing, blinds, sew curtains and pillows, clean and maintain the pool, paint, refinish furniture, etc. Basically we have done everything except electrical work, which is where we draw the line. We have NEVER alloted large sums of money to home improvement projects. But the Lord has consistently provided for us with this farmhouse. It is unbelievable and humbling. I know He is doing all of this to encourage us (okay, me) to move forward in faith. I do not feel at liberty to explain how all of these house renovations have been paid for. But they are paid in full. I do not reveal this information to brag, but to give God the glory for the enormous gifts we are being given. God has used someone as an instrument of His ongoing grace in our lives. And thus we have been able to get all of these things done before moving into the house. Again, UNBELIEVABLE and AMAZING and so not what we are accustomed to! What can we do as God blesses us so far above and beyond what we can imagine and obviously counter to what we deserve? Be thankful, enjoy, praise Him. That's all we've got to give! I can now see why God seemed to repeatedly teach me last year how to trust that each difficult season passes and changes. He kept reminding me to look to Him and trust Him to lead us forward. I had no idea that we would be served in this capacity in the very near future! Unbelievable!
So, as long as the carpenter keeps his schedule, here is what we will see when we move in on the 12th...
The mirrors to hang above the vanity are the only things I did purchase myself. I found two of these mirrors at the Pottery Barn outlet for $39 each. I fell in love with them because of the little shelves.:
This tile will cover the floor, EXCEPT ours is all white, NO black. And we will use gray grout like what is pictured:

Above the tub we will also have solid white tile. But this tile will be 2x6 subway tiles:The new tub will be a HUGE treat for me:
The bathroom has a new light fixture and fan on the ceiling. My Dad picked them out and for the life of me I can not remember what they look like. Around the sink I decided against lights above the mirrors. Instead I fell in love with vintage looking sconces. So I chose this one to be hung between the mirrors.

I have never used brushed bronze in any of our homes. But I fell in love with our vanity and it came with this color/style hardware. I think we will enjoy it!

The new vanity was the most fun to pick out. All we knew was that we really wanted a double sink (3 or more of us will share this bathroom for a while). And also I wanted several drawers.
I realize this is a very neutral bathroom. Those of you who know me know that I get bored easily and like to change around the house often. But over the years I have found that the most economical way to appease my need for variety is to invest in neutral furnishings and then go crazy with artwork, curtains, accessories, etc. (Or in the case of a bathroom, the shower curtain, artwork, etc.) So that's the route I am taking.

Now on to the fun stuff...paint color, shower curtain, artwork!