Life is a series of thousands of tiny moments. Do you notice them?

Mornin’☕️ Do you ever get to the end of the year and struggle to remember the highlights?

When I was teaching and the twins were little, life was a well oiled machined. I accomplished WAY more when I was working than I do now, but I often got to an end of a year and couldn’t remember a dang thing. 

 

Aaron and I could get two babies, two dogs, and ourselves showered and out the door by 6amand sometimes before 6. It worked, until there was a snafu of some sort then everything could be derailed. Sitting here I can account for the time I left the coats at home and had to stop at Walmart because I didn’t have time to go back home. Or the time the twins were in preschool at my work and they were sick so I was running them to the doctors on my lunch break. 

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Beyond Hope.

Hope.

A theme felt and thought of more during this time of year, but something so many of us hold onto throughout the year whether we realize it or not.   Hope started growing within me back in high school. It was tucked way back but existed.

us

The subject-this guy, my husband, Aaron. I know this sounds completely cliché, but back around 1999 I had this feeling he and I were meant to be.

At around 15 years old I told a friend at church that Aaron was “the one”and my friend told me I was too young to know what “love” was….that comment didn’t sit well with me but how was I to explain something I didn’t really understand? Aaron and I separated for some time, went in completely different directions…but even with time and space between us,there was still that quiet hope within me.

Then it happened.

My parents were at the Detroit Auto Show back in January of 2004. They ran into Aaron and that night I got a phone call-one I was secretly hoping for. While I could go into the details of how things evolved between us over the next couple of years, I’ll spare you. But his phone call I was hoping for was it. My gut feeling told me this was ”the one” -run with it or live in regret.

Beyond hope.

Now, 15 years later I can tell you my hope came from somewhere. It was no longer about me making “good” decisions it was the fact I really started to listen and pay close attention to a voice that was driving my gut instinct-God. I mean who breaks up with a nice guy and moves back home from college in the middle of the year to be with her childhood sweetheart?  Or buys the first house they saw because it was “just perfect?” Who makes it through three months on bed rest with her sanity still mostly intact with twins? Or quits their job all of a sudden to stay home and have a third kid they always thought about but never thought they would have? And who packs up a perfectly nice home in suburbia in the dead of winter with three kids to move to the country to a home in need of some TLC? And lastly, how does one tackle learning how to walk again after complications from back surgery with a sense of peace?

God.

It’s hard when you’re young to realize how God is working in your life. For me it’s taken years of reflection to see it wasn’t just my decisions that had taken me down this path…It’s been under the watchful eye and hand of God the whole time.  So, while my younger self found hope, I now have found this friend in God. Someone who knows my weaknesses, flaws, faults, and imperfections, but knows my heart and the desire to live a life of not only purpose but also an abundance of happiness. I have found this almost surreal trust through unexpected events, disappointments, and challenges. But I have also found I depend on it and have no doubt, even in the worst of times, He will be there….and what a relief it is.

I can’t imagine a life without hope. A life without a God to believe in. With the New Year approaching, I’ve been thinking about the adventures our family has had this year.  It’s been one of our most eventful years to date filled with the extremes of joy to unexpected and trying times. But through it all there was a peace that surrounded us. It’s not a year I’m wishing away or saying, “I’m glad that’s behind us.”  While the difficulties could just make us chalk this year up to a loss, I see it as experiences that will continue to move our family into the direction we’ve desire. While I’m unsure of  why some things occurred this year, I know that in years to come it will be revealed. So until then, I trust He has things under control. Which has me excited to see what the gift on another year has in store.

I wish you all a very happy and hopeful New Year that will bring you a lifetime full of happiness and peace!

 

Happy New Year!

xo

Danielle

‘Tis the Season

It’s a good thing I live in the mid-west because by the time one season is coming to an end I’m over it and ready for the next. If you asked me what my favorite season is, it’s really all of them. There is something about the division those seasons provide throughout the year that compliments my personality. While nature’s seasons are predictable, and convenient when you’re tired of wearing shorts and t-shirts, the season’s in our lives can really leave us wondering “what’s next?” There is no way of knowing when one season in our life is ending and another is beginning. Which I, to be honest, struggle with even though I know God’s got things under control.

Yesterday, I had to run into town to drop a library book off for Caroline at school and while I was out, I thought I would run a few errands. I hadn’t been out of the house in two days because of marathon wrapping before winter break begins. As I headed home, Parker fell asleep and with my to-do-list off of my mind, I found myself in a familiar place when driving along.  Then a flash back occurred.

I was driving in the same curves I had driven that Summer day. I remember having just walked Riggs, our pup, at the park with Parker and as we became close to home I remember thinking how life couldn’t get better. Everything had finally started to fall into place after having moved in January. All the kiddos were happy (Thank goodness!) and major projects had been started or completed. Boxes were unpacked for the most part and the house was finally feeling like home. It was if  in that exact moment a weight was officially off my shoulders. Balance had been restored and our new normal felt right. It was that same week when things quickly spiraled into somewhat of a tornado of events for my husband, Aaron, and his back.  Our family’s foundation was shaken, and that care-free feeling became more like a held breath for quite some time.

Six months later, after Aaron’s complications with surgery, those curves I drove yesterday finally felt peaceful again with a whole new appreciation of the “life is good” feeling.  This feeling of being able to breathe again is the best gift to receive this Christmas season-and probably one I won’t ever forget.  With being more clear of mind, I feel like I have been mentally positioned to make this Christmas and Christmases to come, more purposeful.

I am anxiously awaiting Winter break to begin so our family can start new traditions in this home while continuing with the some of the old. I find myself looking forward to the simple moments like long drawn out meals chatting with one another, snuggling with the kids with out anywhere to be, impromptu adventures outside and as much rest as we can possibly get so we are ready for what’s in store in the New Year.

I hope this Christmas Season is a meaningful one for you and your family.  From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and Cheers to a very happy and healthy New Year!

 

Xo

Danielle

Say it isn’t so! Stone House Revival is Canceled?

Anyone else feel like Mother Nature continues to “skip” seasons this year? Our pup, Riggs, had me out early in the morning and I have to say I miss just throwing on my flip flops and taking him out. Granted some days I just bear the cold and still throw on the flops, like this morning, but that frosty grass on my toes has me thinking my boots need to be parked by the door instead.

As many of you know, my husband and I uprooted our family of five from the suburbs and moved to the country back in January to a historic farmhouse.  My husband and I, both dreamers, kept talking about having land we could enjoy any time we wanted.  After having said I was done searching for homes for like the tenth time, I expanded the search and found our now home. While it was completely insane at the time to just pick up and move I couldn’t deny this gut feeling I had.  And anyways, you only live once…right?

The farmhouse was mostly my requirement when looking to move, and a front porch.  My husband, never having lived in a farmhouse, agreed (he must really love me :-).  Right away we decided our home needed to be preserved and not gutted like so many homes we looked at.  Granted there are things in our home we need to make period that were added along the way, but overall we don’t have to create that rich authentic farmhouse charm like so many design shows and magazines are grounded in these days.

While I enjoy home shows of all sorts, I found one this Spring I instantly related to.  While I solely watched HGTV, my husband and I stumbled across DIY Network’s Stone House Revival.  Every morning after the kids got on the bus, I would turn it on and enjoy a cup of coffee catching up on past seasons I had missed.  If you’re not familiar with the show, Jeff Devlin, host, and his team of talented craft restore (key word) homes that existed before our country was even established. They make things by hand when necessary and uncover elements in the homes that are one-of-a kind.  The best part of this show, in my opinion, is as a viewer you can tell how Jeff and his team genuinely care and respect the historic homes they help restore.

Not everyone “gets” old homes and I can appreciate that. But there is a special cohort that do.  You can find us on Instagram capturing DIY projects, discoveries, mishaps, and sunsets that remind us why we’ve invested not only our money but endless amounts of time into these homes of ours. We’re the type of people that get excited about the uniqueness of 200+ year old hard wood floors that are wider than your foot, the hand crafted hinges and door handles, and the detailed trim in every room.

We get awestruck by the thought of  all the hard work these early settlers put into these grand houses that have stood the test of time.  Our old homes aren’t always pretty at times and leave us sleepless some nights, but we know what we are doing is important because we are preserving the past. Something that will never be able to be recreated.  So to find a show that reached us in a way no other show could, my husband and I were thrilled. We’ve got a pocket full of take-a-aways which we wouldn’t otherwise have and will be helpful in restoring our home appropriately.

Unfortunately, the DIY Network has canceled Stone House Revival. I’d love to know why because so many viewers are upset to lose such a unique show. There is nothing out there like Stone House Revival which is why we fell in love with the show. Stone House Revival is the only reason we started watching the DIY Network.  This show and its amazing craft deserve another season.

It’s my hope that Stone House Revival will get picked up by another network who will appreciate the authenticity that Jeff Devlin and his fellow craft provide for homeowners who want to restore and preserve homes that can only continue to exist with skill they have and share with others, something viewers were learning from.  They are a rarity in this manufactured society and it’s truly a shame the DIY Network has chosen to eliminate Stone House Revival. I hope you’ll look Jeff up (links below) and watch his work while reruns are still on.  And if your’re already a fan like us, share my post and tag #diynetwork and #stonehouserevival so they know how much Jeff and his craft will be missed!

All the best to Jeff Devlin and all of those he works closely with. We know you will continue to care for the history that is in your area. I hope we will see you again on TV soon!

xo

Danielle

We’re Fans and Think You Should be Too!

Find Jeff on Instagram and on Facebook and be sure to visit his School House Woodworking site (see our cool hats above-see how Jeff gives back with each hat sold on his site).

Living in the Present

It’s been awhile…

I promise for good reason.

I have no idea how I ever got signed up to receive emails on a weekly basis from an OBGYN doctor, but tonight I finally opened up her email and read it.  Aaron laughed tonight when I told him I never open her emails because the subject line usually strikes a cord with me and well I just don’t want to hear the truth.  The email I opened tonight was in regards to stress.  I have finally gotten to the point that I was open to hearing how to get control of the stresses in life.

I have kept thinking since Parker was born that “things would settle down.”  He’s two in February and after this Summer, I’m thinking I need to find a way to manage our family’s new ever changing “normal.” I’ve said it before, but self care has been difficult for me since we’ve moved, but with what we’ve had going on, I can honestly say that I have had no problem giving myself to our family…I’m just not sure how long that is sustainable without it having a negative effect on myself.

So to finally get to the point, this “email” doctor, that somehow knows me too well, suggested making time for small things that I enjoy and reflecting… so tonight is my first stab at getting some balance back in life that tackles two of her suggestions-writing.

Life Changes.

The last thing I remember before things came to a halt was planning for back-to-school. I was once again excited for another chance to regain normalcy. I had a plan in place for getting back on track with exercising , a schedule for tackling soccer five days a week while still finding time to make home cooked meals and packed lunches for the next day.  I made it to the park for a few days, met a new friend who just moved to town and I remember vividly telling her I would be seeing her often since I was going to finally get myself back on track and in a more balanced life style.  I was excited at the thought of having a friend to see in town-I was building friendships!

Never saw her again.

Things changed at the end of that same week.  My husband, Aaron, had been suffering from back issues since July and was beginning to really deteriorate at the same time I was “getting myself together.” A month past with several trips to the doctor, chiropractor, and then a quickly scheduled back surgery.  Aaron and I felt confident in the doctor, plan for surgery/recovery. Within the week he was scheduled for out patient discetomy surgery.  We both felt like we could see a light at the end of the tunnel and that by Halloween we’d return to how things were before school started. Boy were we wrong.

Surgery day came. I’ve never been so anxious.  With the experience of my three month stay in the hospital on bed rest, I quickly came to the conclusion I was more comfortable being the patient than the loved one waiting to hear that everything went fine. I met the doctor after surgery, he explained Aaron’s disc was much worse than the MRI showed but that surgery went well. He told me that when they were ready they would have me come back to recovery.  I kept hearing “still working on comfort.”  Hoping it was me being impatient, I checked the clock  and it confirmed recovery was taking longer than expected.

I’m up pacing the floor at this point and then I stopped when I saw Aaron’s surgeon. I swear to goodness I was hoping he wasn’t coming for me. But he was. My stomach knotted up. Everything in my body became stiff. The surgeon informed me that Aaron was unable to feel anything from the waist down and that because of having to move the nerve a bit during surgery it was in shock and that it could take anywhere from weeks to months for feeling and ability to walk to come back.  I hung on the words that things would come back but at many times struggled to hold it together during our conversation.

For a super short version of a long story, Aaron was in the hospital for four days and then was transferred to another hospital for inpatient physical therapy for a week. THE LONGEST WEEK EVER.  I swear it took a village to get me and the kids through those two weeks.  I literally went into survival mode with all the running and trying to schedule sitters, run the household, and keep things feeling as normal as possible for the kids.  It wasn’t pretty either. All three kids came down sick at all different times, the back roof started leaking horribly, leak in the trucks tire that had to get plugged, I might have lost it a time or two, and rightly so because the list goes on.

But at the end of the day all that matters is Aaron is home. His body is waking up more and more everyday allowing him to do more, feel more, and get around better than the day before. While he experiences nerve pain, his back pain is gone, he’s standing up straight again and for that we are thankful.

Biggest Take-Away

Why is it when bad things happen our memory starts playing everything from the past? When hearing of Aaron’s complication from surgery, my mind wanted to retreat to every image of him walking in the door, working in the yard, dancing with me, and playing soccer with the kids.  Knowing those thoughts would only leave me in a puddle of useless tears I made myself stop. Those thoughts weren’t helpful to myself or Aaron and every time my mind would wander that way I would remind myself to not live in the past or future but to remain only in the present.  Staying focused on what was at hand was plenty to process without scattered thoughts from the past and questions of Aaron’s future that no one could possibly know without a direct line to God himself.

While our family has started to adjust to our new normal,  there are plenty of times where staying focused on the present, not the past or future,  is something I have to remind myself of.   We’re no longer in a short distance race, but rather a marathon. Aaron and I know from our past experiences together that soon this will all be a distant memory.  We are thankful for the extreme closeness we’ve gained between one another and appreciate the adjusted focus in our lives.  We trust God has all of this in his hands…and we find much comfort and peace knowing that.

 

xo

Danielle