OUT HERE IN THE MIDDLE

Do you ever just long for silence. To be alone. To not have to think, watch, anticipate, and interact all within a split second of time? While I have plopped into bed which is now in a room that has been three different spaces in only five short months, I find myself hearing only the birds. Then that moment is quickly interrupted by the mom in me wondering if the kids are really in bed or not.  Something I know I will one day miss, I’m sure.

5 months. Whew. The room I’m sitting in was at one time stacked from front to back, side to side, and over halfway up the walls with boxes. We literally had to tunnel through when moving throughout the house…and in all of it, we had an 11-month-old who could barely walk within the chaos.  How quickly I have forgotten of how far we have come with this old house…yet, I find myself “warning” friends who come to visit, that there are plenty of unfinished projects around and less than perfect areas where the beauty of the home has been neglected and still needs a little TLC.

It’s odd to me that I feel the need to forewarn friends and family of something I truly love and admire. I guess it’s because this home is the complete opposite of what we once had. Everyone loves new…but not everyone loves “old.”

When the Wing Family visited, they mentioned how the realtor had described the second small staircase in the house as worn and old. Not desirable or attractive.  The realtor starsdidn’t appreciate the story or history of the stairs. She didn’t see the unique curve on the left side of the step as a visual treasure. She didn’t care to think of who might have once tiredly climbed them after working on the farm. Or maybe the children who have all climbed them with their little hands and feet.  Not everyone wonders, “Oh, if these walls could talk.” So I suppose, that is why I feel the need to welcome our friends and family to our “fixer-upper.” Just so they are aware we are in fact trying to restore it.

This week, I will be greeting friends to our new/old home. I am thrilled to have friends, from when I taught, want to make the drive and see us and our home. I look forward to catching up with them and the timing of their visit couldn’t be any better.

Today I dropped Caroline off at soccer camp, a very normal thing to do. As I stood there on the sidewalk with the kiddos, more parents started to arrive and quickly moms were gathering in groups to say good morning and catch up.  Then out of the blue it hit me. I know absolutely no one.

While I was well aware that moving meant I wouldn’t have friends nearby, today it just seem to hit me hard when I stood there waiting for my best friend to show up next to me on the side walk. I was the lone wolf wishing they’d just say hi so I could introduce myself.  By the time I realized I should somehow find a way in to their group to say hi, everyone was leaving. I for once felt what my son, Landen, has been feeling for the last five months. And to be honest, as I sit here and write this I’m crying.  I literally feel like middleI’m just out in the middle.

Yes, I know I have friends and it doesn’t matter how far they are away-they’re always going to be my friends…. But it sure would be nice to have one good friend in the school/sports circle.  Someone I could call with questions about things people just kinda know from living here for a while, or just to keep a bleacher seat warm with at a school event. There is so much going on as a family that I wonder how I’ll ever find a way to cultivate that one good friendship I have discovered I need…I suppose I should start praying about it.

I have a feeling that while I thought I have felt settled in for a while now, that I really am not.  Sure, the boxes have dwindled and the house looks and feels more like home, but there are certainly other areas in my life that are still trying to settle in.  After today’s revelation, I’m feeling a little uncomfortable in my skin and find myself feeling more like our home once again.

A work in progress.

Xo

Danielle

From Strangers to Family in One Day

Another day complete. Tractor is running, deer are peering through the trees ready to eat, and the sun is gently setting. Being able to hear and see the calming of the day is something I had once felt at my childhood home as well as on weekends at the lake, and family vacations.

To be experiencing those “feel good” moments at, what is now, our home makes my heart swell with gratitude. Those cherished memories of noisy silence in the summer evening on the lake, the noise of the birds as they settle in, and the fireflies lighting up the front yard at my parents’ house, all came rushing back to me tonight. Which led my thoughts down a path to our recent memories with our new friends whose visit made them feel more like distant relatives than strangers.

At the beginning of the month, we had the privilege of meeting the Wing Family. They traveled from Cleveland and Maine to come meet us and to see the home they once were caretakers of. I had been so excited and just a tad bit nervous for their visit. I was excited to learn from them, hear stories and cherished memories of the farm. I was nervous like anyone would be- you know, hoping they would like what we had done with the place in the short time here. I was hopeful they would still find this home comfortable and familiar and feared it would leave them in some kind of disappointment.

There was something special about that day we all met. We shared a common love of this home and talked about the fine details, quarks, and charm. We were all comfortable in each other’s presence and by the end of their visit, they left feeling more like family to us. There is something about putting a meal on the table with all hands-on deck. Chopping, tossing, and gathering items for the table made us come together in a way I never had anticipated. It was genuine, happy, and fun. It is a meal I’ll never forget.

Isn’t it a gift, having people who come into your lives, who become your family? From each neighborhood Aaron and I have lived, we have gained family. Those relationships have a hold on our hearts in a unique way. I’m thankful for our first neighbor teaching us how to be a good neighbor, for we may have never met our closest family (neighbors) in Monroe.

In our new town, our little church welcomed us in a way we never expected. They made us feel, so quickly, that we belonged there…that we are their family, too. Those church members are our neighbors and it’s the neatest thing to catch up during our meet and greet time during service. Sometimes meet and greet last for 15 minutes or so. It’s one of the highlights of my week getting to touch base with our neighbors and getting those hugs that are meaningful and make you feel important. Aaron and I will always be so thankful for that morning Landen and Caroline insisted we visit our church in town. I’m not sure they’ll ever know the impact they have had on us through their persistence that day.

It’s so interesting that when the twins talk about family, they always mention our friends who have become our family. It’s something as a parent I never really planned for or expected. Yet it makes complete sense to me. It wasn’t until their birthday this year, that I observed their excitement and giggles when chatting on the phone with both our family and our “adopted” family members. They couldn’t believe that when the phone rang it was another call for them. I could see how happy it made them and from all those singing voices and well wishes, there was a happiness that I could see fill their hearts.

Life has so many unexpected twists and turns. We’re raised in a world that projects a certain idea around who and what we should be and how things should go. When in reality, there isn’t a protocol to follow or equation for success. And if we get caught up into trying to make “things” work a certain way, because that’s “how it should be,” we may be missing out on opportunity or even relationships that are meant to bless us in an abundant way.

Had Aaron and I not have done something “out of the box,” like buying our home (in the dead of winter, with a baby, twins, in the middle of the school year!), we would have never had the opportunity to meet the Wing family. While no one will ever be able to understand the magic in the Wing Family visit, it is a day I will cherish forever.

While so many say we are a blessing to this house, we certainly feel we are being blessed by it.

 

xo

Danielle

That’ll Never Happen

Have you ever wished you could go back in time and tell your younger self something?

Aaron and I had the rare opportunity to have a conversation that didn’t have to be started over three and four times and it made me realize that all of the things I always thought would never happen..they’re happening!

Growing up (we’ve kinda known one another since ’98) I think Aaron and I had it in our heads that we had an established plan for our lives-college, good job, and a family.  As we moved through those seasons of our lives, everything seemed to go as plan and then we got to the family part. It’s like we arrived at the final stop on our train ride, per-say, and we got off and just looked at each other like, “now what?”

I tend to be the one who likes to push the envelope when it comes to nudging Aaron and myself into things. You know like taking him to the boat show and leaving with a boat-ha! Or when I felt it in my heart it was time for me to quit work -for our marriage and for our kiddos. Then there was that time I figured since I was leaving my j-o-b, why not have a third child. But if that wasn’t enough, lets just sell our house and move in the dead of winter to an old farmhouse before our baby even turned one. (yes, I know he’s a saint:)

While those of us who like that “prescribed” kind of life, I think we need to find it in ourselves to start dreaming and doing things that weren’t a part of the “plan.” As I get older I keep thinking about having regrets and at this moment I don’t have any (except for my vineyard I haven’t planted-haha!). If we were still where we were a few months ago, I think I would be wrestling with our dreams and trying to decide if they were worth chasing.

This isn’t just about those who have a “plan.” It’s for those who feel the pressure to fall into some prescribed way of life because that is what was suggested to them growing up. While there is nothing wrong with being guided and encouraged to follow a certain path, we have to make sure we allow time to discover who we are and what we want out of life. And if that suggested plan doesn’t work out for you, well then, there shouldn’t be any guilt about that specific path not working for you. It just wasn’t meant to be. We can’t let ourselves get stuck trying to fit that square into a circle just because we think that is what we are supposed to be doing.

So, I think if I could go back in time to my younger self, I would tell myself to leave more room for dreaming and to expect the unexpected because sometimes “That’ll never happen” turns into, “It’s happening!”

xo

Danielle

What’s Your Mantra?

What’s your mantra?

I’m currently making necklaces for Moms who have babies in the NICU for Mother’s Day. A single word from a moment in time can be a memory worth wearing. When I was a parent in the NICU, there were so many words I held on to but the word “exhale” meant the most (came from a prayer read one day over the speaker). It’s a word I can mentally flash back to hearing and actually doing like it was yesterday.

Luckily, many of you haven’t had to have a NICU experience, but you’ve had other very life changing and meaningful experiences that have inspired and motivated you. Maybe you’re someone who likes a simple reminder of the journey you are on or a word that describes who you strive to be.

Single words are powerful when chosen with purpose. Think of yourself right now. Who are you? Where are you going? Where have you been? Who do you want to be? What word do you keep running into that just seems to stick with you throughout your day? What is YOUR Mantra?

This light weight necklace is perfect for layering with other Jewlery. You can shop by clicking here. At check out, be sure to comment in the “note to seller” box what word you’d like stamped.

Remember, each purchase provides gifts to NICU Parents!

💜

Danielle

CLIFTON + PARK REOPENING SOON

Good morning!  Today’s beautiful weather has got me up and running! I have had several asks about Clifton +Park opening back up after having moved. I am happy to say that I just finished organizing my things and as soon as I have my hubby help me hook up my printer I will be back to taking orders!

If you’re new to Clifton+ Park,  here is how it came about and how it helps Parents!

The Story Behind CLIFTON + PARK

As many of you know, I am the mother to three-Landen &  Caroline (5) and Parker (1).  I decided to step away from teaching kindergarten  in effort to spend more quality time with my children and husband-really get back to the basics of life and slow down. While being a stay-at-home mom is certainly fulfilling, I really felt a need for something more. Unable to put my finger on what it was I wanted to do, I continued to run my parent website,bblissful, as my only hobby.
During this time I was pregnant with our third child, Parker. After being at Good Sam on bed rest for three months with Landen and Caroline, I was excited to be experiencing more of a ‘typical’ pregnancy.  Parker was born at 37 weeks and was perfectly fine until about an hour after delivering him. He began grunting and they found he was in respiratory distress. So off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) he went for what felt like the longest 10 days in our life.
After having gone through the experience of having a child in the NICU and settling in to our family of five, I still felt the need to do something more. I wanted to go beyond sharing encouraging stories about parenthood from behind a desk and physically do something that would fulfill a creative need but would also brighten someone’s day. Which is when I came up with the Clifton+ Park  project idea for parents in the NICU.
Every time a parent leaves the hospital when visiting their child in the NICU, their heart is still there when they walk out the door. Even after their child graduates from the NICU, the hospital/nurses/doctors hold a special place in their heart. So with that in mind, I’ve created a coordinate necklace to help NICU parents feel connected when they can’t physically be with their child(ren) in the NICU but then after graduating it serves as a way to remember their journey.
I have named these necklaces the ‘Clifton+Park Collection’ after my two pregnancies. Clifton because the window of the room I first stayed in with my twins looked out to Clifton Avenue  and ‘Park‘ because our nurse that delivered us kept calling Parker ‘Park’ out of habit because her grandfather was named Park (she even inadvertently wrote it on his little baby book birth certificate 🙂
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It is my hope to sell my hand stamped necklaces in order to fund the Clifton + Park NICU Project.  Each item is $18.00. This covers the cost of the item made and shipping and provides necklaces/key chains to Good Samaritan NICU parents.  Having taught at a Jewish day school for 8 years, I learned that in Hebrew, the related word chaya means “life” or “long life.”  I find the meaning behind the number 18 very fitting since so many babies are fighting for their “life” while in the NICU and all that the NICU parents, nurses, and doctors want for the babies in the NICU is to have a “long and healthy life. “
I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to give back to something that has left a mark on our family. If you are interested in having one of my hand stamped pieces, please visit my page where you can make your personalized purchase. If you would like to support this project, feel free to email me directly at cliftonandpark@gmail.com.
Sharing this is always appreciated!
xo
Danielle