Hello? Is this thing on?

I’ve nearly forgotten I have a blog.

*Insert crickets chirping*

Mostly, I haven’t written here because I don’t want to write/talk about the stuff that’s been on my mind and in my heart. Like, with the church stuff, I just don’t want to air my grievances on my public blog and then days (months? years?) later, a friend from that church find my blog and be totally shocked to read what I’ve written.

The other part of it is, I’m trying to figure stuff out. Since October, I’ve been to several doctors and have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrom (PCOS). That’s not bad, really. But it does finally answer the question of why I am SO tired in the afternoons. Turns out, you get sleepy when your blood sugar tanks. The PCOS diagnosis is great since another doctor thought I had a pituitary tumor.

The other thing is, you don’t feel like doing things you enjoy when you’re depressed. I’ve debated about whether or not I should write about it. But it’s not something I should be ashamed of, and I think depression and any mental illness has been taboo for too long, especially among Christians and church circles. It’s not because I haven’t prayed enough or trusted enough or don’t have enough faith. It’s a chemical imbalance in my brain triggered by my Gran’s death. Grief is powerful, and I’ve always known that her passing would be hard on me, but I never imagined it would be this hard. In October, I realized I needed to do something when one day I didn’t want to pick up my daughter from preschool. Not because of her or anything she had or hadn’t done. I just did not want to have to get up off the couch and drive. The only thing I wanted to do was be, and mostly, be alone. I called my best friend who happens to be a doctor and she was really sweet about it. But I laugh now and say that only a really good friend can tell you that you need Prozac.  🙂

I didn’t send out Christmas cards. It just felt like I was going through the motions of the holiday season, and honestly, I just didn’t feel like sending them. For the first time in 12 years of marriage. But I tried to allow myself enough space and enough grace to be ok with what I did and did not want to do.

Shari, I’m so sorry I haven’t sent your shipment. If your address has changed, please let me know.

Since January and with the correct diagnoses, I’ve been trying to get used to having to take medication every day, even twice a day. My body is adjusting to the doses and I’m trying to figure out if I feel right with them and if the dosage is right or whatever. Do I need my antidepressant dose to be increased? How do I do a low-carb diet without getting my blood sugar too low?  How do I motivate myself to get my rear end off the couch and start exercising? I haven’t found the answers to these questions yet, but at least I’m looking. Compared to where I was this past Fall, that’s a huge improvement.

We’re trying to figure out if I should go back to full-time work. What does that mean and what does it look like? Do I go back to school to become a teacher? Do I try to get in the early intervention program that my youngest was enrolled in when she came home from the NICU? A regular 9 to 5 job? Or do I try to find something to do from home? I don’t know.

I can tell you a few things that we are going to do or try this Summer. We’re going to turn off the cable tv. I’m thinking about taking a break from Facebook. I’m hoping we finally finish the kitchen by the end of the Summer (this requires its own post). I’ve found some projects and ideas on Pinterest I’d like to try. I’m going to learn how to cook completely from scratch with no boxed mixes so we can get away from genetically modified food as much as possible.

So. That’s where I am. If you’ve made it this far, thank you.

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Decisions, decisions….

I have been wanting to replace the cabinets in our kitchen since we moved in, a little over 7 years ago. But lots of life stuff happened, and several projects have been put on the back burner.

I’ve been severely disappointed in the past 6 months that our kitchen was not renovated when I wanted. There is a slight sliver of hope that we may renovate the kitchen soon. Instead of getting my heart into the project and then being severely disappointed again, this time I am trying to take a very non-emotional, level-headed approach. Because it sucks to get your heart broken after you’ve emotionally invested into a kitchen project and it doesn’t happen.

That said, there are logisitcs to figure out and decisions need to be made. For example, at least one switch and one outlet have to be moved. Is there anything else electrical-wise that we would like to change? Yes, actually. Adding a light over the sink, a light over the planned penninsula/bar, and some task lighting under the cabinets would be nice, thank you.

We have to rip out all the old pink ceramic tile. What are the best options for kitchen flooring? What material would work best for us? What color should it be?

We already know what style and color the cabinets will be. There’s a place in our town that offers fantastic prices on cabinets that are 1. Real wood and 2. Made in the USA. Win-win, right? They are shaker style in medium cherry. Kind of like these:


I’m really stumped about what to do with the countertops and floors. I think I’m leaning towards the example in the first photo. It looks like a light/medium counter and a medium floor.

I had first thought I wanted to do my countertops in a charcoal-colored granite/composite/Corian material. Not a solid color, but more of a mix of stuff. But seeing that first photo, I’m not sure. I’m also thinking that if we do a dark-ish countertop, you really need something to lighten up the room in the way of a lighter floor color.

Also planned: 

  • Replacing the worn out, leaking garbage disposal
  • Replacing the leaking faucet
  • Replacing the existing fan with a microwave/fan combination
  • Perhaps adding glass tile backsplash behind the stove… and maybe the rest of the kitchen.
  • Replacing the current light fixture.

If I listed all the many things I want to do in the kitchen, I’d sound greedy. I don’t mean to sound greedy, but I’ve had a few years to think about it. {I think} I know what I want. I want a baking section so I can store my baking supplies. I’m just stoked about the possibility of extra storage so that I don’t have to put my crock pot and food processor in the garage!

IF we get to reno the kitchen, and right now that’s a big IF, I’ll be sure to post before and after photos. I promise.

Anyone out there have any ideas?

Looking Forward

For the first time ever, my Christmas tree was down and put away on December 27th. Had it not been for my girls, I wouldn’t have put up a tree or lights at all.

It’s been a rough year.

Gran finished her race in April. Her loss has probably been the hardest for me to ever deal with, and even now, 8 months later, the pain is still palpable. I’m sure the holidays have a great deal to do with the fact that I hurt to my core. But even my girls are feeling the heartache of missing someone.

We seriously considered finding another church. That’s not really blog fodder and I’m not going to go into much detail at all. But I’m noting it here because it’s a pretty significant thing to think, pray and talk about. This year, things have felt off, and I’m not sure it’s where we’re supposed to be, but we haven’t really been given direction or confirmation of where else to go, so we’re staying put for now.

In November, I got some surprising news and a new diagnosis. Nothing life-threatening or anything like that, but I’m not going to be writing about it until after I see a specialist in January. I will know more then and will have to let it marinate before talking about it, online or otherwise.

For most of this holiday season (from Thanksgiving to now), I keep replaying scenes from “You’ve Got Mail” in my mind. I can really relate to Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan’s character). Especially the scene where she talks about her store closing, and her mother…. when she’s talking about the Joni Mitchell song that goes, “I wish I had a river/ that I could skate away on.” I can really empathize with what she’s saying in that scene, and I think it’s a great example of how I’ve felt this season.

So, needless to say, I’m really looking forward to a new year and a new start.

Usually, I don’t get too excited about New Year’s. I’m terrible at resolutions. I’ve known for years that I need to lose weight and exercise more, so let’s just assume that one, shall we? 🙂

Instead of a list of resolutions, I’d like to share some things I’d like to do this year. In no particular order, these are some things I’d like to do, see, or learn in 2012:

  • Learn how to make really great chicken and dumplings.
  • Learn how to play piano.
  • Renovate our kitchen.
  • Go on a family vacation. Hopefully to a beach.
  • Plant and raise a garden. (Please help me, God! I have a black thumb!)
  • Learn how to can.
  • Go strawberry picking with my girls and Mom.
  • Learn how to make bread from scratch.
  • Drink more water.
  • Replace the carpet in our Living Room, Dining Room, “Formal” Living Room and hallway with either a floating hardwood or a good laminate.
  • (Perhaps) Go back to work full-time.
  • (Perhaps) Go back to school for my Master’s degree.
  • Buy either a Dyson or a Roomba.
  • Get the house organized (once and for all).
  • Learn how to make my Aunt JoAnn’s peanut butter fudge.
  • Learn how to make my Ma-maw’s cole slaw.
  • Replace the damaged wood over the garage door. Hopefully, this includes installing some sort of siding.
  • Plant an azalea bush in the front of the house.
  • Replace the wood planks in the flower beds with stones.
  • Plant hostas beside the house.
  • Make the Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls.
  • Put myself on the priority list.

There are more things I could think of, but that’ll do for now.

What about you? Do you have any goals for 2012? Please share them here!

Giveaway Winner… and I need some info!

My apologies for not posting this sooner. Christmas stuff took over and I’m just now getting to the blog.

First off, the winner for the mug and discount is Shari at Rain into Rainbows. Congratulations!

BUT! I need addresses for anet smith and kasmith03. My comments were wonky, so I didn’t see yours until just tonight…. and I want to send a lil’ something to you, too. After all, it’s my first blog giveaway, so I can do what I want, right? Please email me at wvgurl at yahoo dot com and I’ll get something out to you ASAP.

Thanks for joining in the fun! I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

{Giveaway} His Name Is….

Jesus.

Savior.

Immanuel.

Messiah.

Visit any mall or shopping center right now, and you’ll get a different message of what Christmas is supposed to be. Stores hawking their wares with “the best prices of the season” want you to come in, be lulled by the glitter and lights and buy into the idea that Christmas is about buying and getting.

It’s easy to lose the real message of the season.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16, NKJV

Love Came Down. From Heaven. In human form. The Gift was Jesus.

The Gift still is Jesus.

But amid stuffed-full parking lots, long, winding lines at the check-out, and all the stresses that can come with Christmas, we forget.

I have to admit, after a very difficult year that includes losing my grandmother, being essentially laid off from my at-home job, and awaiting lab results following a new diagnosis for me, I’ve had a hard time getting in the spirit of Christmas this year. I have to keep reminding myself to focus on Jesus. After all, it’s been God’s grace & love that have carried me through this year and so many tough times before.

I encourage you to take a few moments to spend time alone with God and in the Word. Really think about Who we’re supposed to be celebrating, and why. Think about what you can do to celebrate Jesus.

For years, I’ve done as much as I can to keep our focus on Jesus during Christmastime. Our tree theme is the Nativity. Our Christmas home decor is mostly Nativity-themed as well.

DaySpring offers many items that help families reflect their Christian faith in home decor, including Christmas decorations. Their line, Love Came Down, helps us remember….

For God so loved, that Love Came Down.

I received the Names of Jesus Letter Block to review. I didn’t realize when I looked at the photo that it’s one solid block, but looks like alphabet blocks.

It’s a little smaller than I expected, but that’s great because it will go anywhere: on a shelf, on top of an entertainment center, on a window sill. Pretty much anywhere.

One of the features I like is that it includes several names of Jesus: Immanuel, Savior, Messiah, and Jesus. You can use it year-round. At Christmas, display Immanuel. At Easter, display either Savior or Messiah.

It’s a really diverse piece of home decor that can be used throughout the year.

My friends at DaySpring sent another gift and I’m passing it on to you: the Names of Jesus Latte Mug. The winner will be chosen at random and will receive a little somethin’ extra: your choice of either a coffee, tea or hot cocoa product. My gift to you.

But wait… that’s not all! They have also generously extended a special offer to one of my readers who will be chosen randomly: a $20 coupon code. If you win, there is a minimum purchase of $20 required and shipping charges will apply. The code will be good until December 31, 2012.

To enter, just leave a comment telling me how you and your family keep your focus on Jesus during Christmas and how you celebrate when Love Came Down. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 pm EST on Tuesday, December 20th. Winners will be announced on Wednesday, December 21st.

If you’re still looking for great Christ-centered gifts or home decor, check out the (in)spired Deals for December.

Note:  DaySpring has given me these products at no cost to me for review. All opinions written within this post are my own. I have not been compensated in any way for my opinion about these products.

Not that Busy

I’ve neglected posting on the blog, but it’s not because I’ve been busy. I’ve just been living life. Amber Haines wrote about it recently and put it so much more eloquently than I can.

There’s much going on, and at the same time, nothing going on. School started again in August. Routine is good for us, but so is taking our time. We went to Disney World in September. We’ve considered making changes, but have not heard a clear word from God, so are staying put for the moment.

I’ve missed my grandmother incredibly. Then I think of the others who have gone on to join my could of witnesses. This time of year always reminds me of my grandfather, my one and only Paw-paw, partly because his birthday is November 1st–All Saints Day, appropriately–and partly because he talked me through the first Thanksgiving Dinner I prepared on my own.

We’ve been to the Pumpkin Festival. The leaves have turned, and I want to savor their color more, but the rain and wind have had other plans. We’re gearing up for Trick-or-Treat, which begins a couple of months’ worth of gatherings and celebrations. Andy Williams told the truth: It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

It’s a balance of celebrating the here and now, the wonder of everything seen new through my girls’ eyes. It’s the honoring of the foundations built by those I love who did their work and are enjoying their reward. It’s all of it, a mix of sweet and bitter and longing.

Finally: A Princess Room

I have wanted to create a princess room since my oldest daughter, who will turn 8 in December, was about 2 years old. In other words, I had really wanted her to go from her duck-themed nursery to a princess-themed big girl room. But Dora the Explorer won. Twice, actually, when my youngest daughter wanted a Dora-themed room. Sometimes, I really hate Dora.

This Summer, after almost 7 years of waiting, wanting and then finally having enough money that wasn’t needed for something else, we have finally replaced the carpet in a couple of bedrooms. Since everything had to be pulled out for the carpet to be installed, it was a perfect time to change the theme in my youngest daughter’s bedroom.

Last year, we painted and decorated my oldest daughter’s room and she chose a mature Cowgirl theme. I have had some of the princess decor for years, and I was thrilled to finally be able to use it.

Also, with a promo by Lowe’s for free labor, it really helped our budget. Ok, enough chatting. I present Abigail’s Princess Room:

 The quilt was hand-made and hand-painted by someone my Mom knows. The pink room darkening curtains were bought at Target. The sign with her name on it came from HomeGoods. I have had the bookshelf since I was a freshman in college. I found the headboard, footboard & bed frame at a consignment sale for just $60!

We found the chest-of-drawers in our local ad bulletin, kind of like a weekly paper a la Craigslist… where you list items you want to sell. There is a matching nightstand that I put in the closet for extra storage and to make more floor space in her room.

The storage bins & shelf came from Target. The name sign came from HomeGoods. I bought both name signs about 2 months before she was born.

The wall stickers came from Home Depot. There are more, but I haven’t put them up yet.

 
The red rocking chair was bought by family friends who dearly love and prayed fervently for Abbie. The doll is a Baby Be Blessed doll that she received for Christmas last year.

And check out that new carpet! Previously, there had been a green short shag carpet down, probably original to the house. The carpet we installed was the stuff Lowe’s keeps in stock, so I’m not sure if we’ll have to replace it in 5 years. But I think it’s such an improvement, both aesthetically and health-wise (can you imagine what was in the old carpet?!), that even if we have to replace it in a few years, it’s worth the cost.

So, there you have it. After about 6 years of wanting to create a princess bedroom, and after about 6 or 7 years of wanting to replace very old carpet, we finally did it!

WAY Out of My Comfort Zone

It’s 11:27 p.m. and I really should have been in bed hours ago. I’m tired, but I keep thinking of things I might forget. Or, as is the case at the moment, will the bag I’ve packed as my carry-on be the right size?

I need to wake up at 3 a.m. (Please Jesus!) to get ready to be at the airport by 4:30 a.m. for my 6:30 a.m. flight…. to El Salvador. My very first mission trip. I’m excited, nervous, scared, and anxious to see what God will do.

I can’t stand the thought of leaving my kids & hubby for 9 days, but when the announcement was first made at church, the desire to go has been more than I’ve ever experienced.

There’s so much to say, but so little time. Last week was a busy blur as I tried to prepare everyone & everything for my absence.

Please keep me and my 24-person team in your thoughts and prayers. And please, please keep my little girls and husband in your prayers as well.

Much love!

Busy as a Bee

Funny. My last post was about resting in the Lord. Now I declare myself busy as a bee.

Well, I am.

I’m leaving Monday for a little trip. I’ll fill you in on the details later, but as with any trip, there’s laundry, packing and preparing to do.

There’s a dentist appointment for my oldest daughter and a vet appointment for our new kitties.

I’m trying to coordinate many large home projects. If it all goes smoothly (hahaha), we’ll have one project after another, streamlined so that by early- to mid-September, the house should be in order again. (haha.. again. I wish!)

Also, there’s a consignment sale coming up, which means I’m going through my youngest daughter’s drawers and closet to clean out what is no longer used. Then I’m packing away what my oldest daughter can’t wear anymore so that in a few years, her little sister can wear the clothes. The getting stuff out isn’t what I hate; it’s the tagging. Blech.

My youngest started (mandatory) Pre-K last week, and my youngest goes back to school in mid-August, so there’s the preparation for that, too!

Those who scoff at how much women do might take another look. This being CEO of the household stuff isn’t for the faint of heart!

Resting In The Lord

We all need some time to ourselves, and by early May, I was at a point that it was no longer a nice wish, but a need. My grandmother passed away in April, and the weeks that followed were so much more difficult than I could have ever imagined. By the end of April, I told my husband, “I know we need some time for us, but I need time for me.” My husband knew how difficult Gran’s passing was, so he said, “Go.”

To read the rest of the story, please check out my first post as a Daily Guest at (in)courage!