Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Learning from Regrets

If we are friends, you know that I've not blogged in a while because of work. I took on more responsibilities with a client and it required travel and most of my energy. What little energy I had left went straight to my family. All my hobbies and outlets took a backseat for a while. 

That's since transitioned so now, if I feel so inspired, I want to pick up the proverbial pen again and blog here and there. Maybe I'll do a house update soon for fun. 

For today though, it's about a much deeper topic than food or design. It goes along with my faith and is a tough lesson I recently learned. In January my mother-in-law, Carmen AKA "Mimi" died suddenly at the age of 70. She had a heart attack from an enlarged heart. She hated doctors so she never went and thus never knew about her heart condition. 

It's been a huge blow to our family. The loss has been felt on a daily basis and in some ways, it's still surreal. I still look out the window and expect to see her pulling in the driveway.

Now those of you who are close to me may think "she drove you crazy, though. Right?"

Yes. She drove me nuts.  On a regular basis. It was not secret and I know I drove her crazy too.

We were COMPLETE opposites in almost every way. That drove us to have quite the numerous amount of differences on a consistent basis. As in daily. Those differences started even from the beginning. 

Daniel and I had counseling early on in our marriage over all the differences and how best to set boundaries, address the issues and manage the family relationships. The Lord healed and restored our family. 

But that's not the point of this blog (although it's a great topic). 

The point of this blog is to share what I learned  through her death and what I wish I had done differently. It's always easier to see things after the fact. You know the old "hindsight is 20/20" adage. 

1. Don't let differences skew your view of their true character. 

I often focused on the frustration she caused me THAT DAY versus remembering her heart condition and WHY she did what she did. 

When we were at the funeral, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people that came to pay their respects. People from all over came to share how much she blessed their lives. The Banker who cried when we went by to take care of some estate business. She had just brought them cookies two days earlier. The sweet lady who cleans and helps at the local Chick-fil-A where Carmen was always kind to her. Teachers from the preschool where she spent volunteer time, often praying and encouraging them. 

The list goes on and on.  I had no idea she was praying weekly with a school prayer group specifically for my boys. I only focused on the moment, our differences or her quirkiness that I found weird at times. I often forgot to see how much she loved, encouraged and prayed for everyone around her, now matter how they played a part in her life. 

2. Give grace. 

I was so frustrated two days before she died because she asked if she could pick up some chocolate drink mix. I said yes but to bring it next time she came over. I didn't want her coming back over later that night because it was getting late. That was more selfish on my part. She instantly went and bought the mix and took it to Daniel at work, knowing she was going around my wishes. Did my wishes really matter? Nope. And that annoyed me. I even called her to ask her why she couldn't just wait to give it to us later. 

In hindsight, it was just my controlling nature and it frustrated me. I neglected to see that she was just eager to help. I was quick to react and let my emotions frustrate me rather than give grace. 

That's the last interaction I had with Carmen. 

Before you react or blow something out of proportion, ask yourself, will this really matter in a month, in a year, in several years?


3. Accept your differences. 

It's OK to have differences! Differences teach. Our differences often taught me patience. They taught me how to be more compassionate. They taught me more about forgiveness. 

I learned to accept that she and I were complete opposites. It didn't mean it was always easy, don't get me wrong. But in accepting we were different, it allowed for our family to heal and function together. If you need a little time to calm your emotions, take it. But don't let it go on for too long.  

4. Remember who else is involved. 

So often we let the differences between family members separate us. I'm not talking about life threatening, unsafe or other very unhealthy situations. I'm talking about the typical family squabbles. And we had our share! She almost didn't come to our wedding it was so bad! Too many times we blow them up to such an epic proportion that it becomes easier to distance ourselves than deal with the issue. 

If we had not let God heal our family, my boys would have missed out on someone who loved them unconditionally. They would have missed out on her quirkiness, on her Cuban cooking (that they still ask for), on her silliness, on her loving back scratches, on singing silly songs together, on snuggles...on her love. 

5. You can't get time back. 

Carmen died on a Wednesday morning. I remember distinctly thinking Tuesday night as I cleaned up dinner "I should have invited her for tacos tonight. Tacos are her favorite. I need to let go that she annoyed me yesterday and have her over tomorrow." 

Guess what? It was too late. She died the very next morning. 

We always think we have more time. 

If you have long standing differences with a family member, don't wait to work on reconciliation. We don't know what the next day will bring. Your frustration today is not worth holding on to in the grand scheme of things. Take it from me. It may not be easy but you will never regret working towards harmony. 

"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." 
(Romans 12: 17-18)

We love her and will always miss her. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

I just needed a little love...

Is it just me or is it just so negative EVERYWHERE!? I mean I can't even deal with Facebook anymore because it's mostly rants, ads and debates. Then you turn on the TV and it's even worse. So this year, when February rolled around, all I wanted to do is embrace is love. February is the month of love after all. 

I don't go all out since we're only talking 2 weeks but little touches here and there make me feel happy. Now forgive the pictures because I snapped these quickly and don't have the best lighting in some. 

Both front doors have hearts to welcome in guests. I love how they sparkle and pop from the road. There's even a heart flag (not pictured) by the front door. 

Did you notice the hearts on the glass in the front door? They make me smile the most. When I see them it says "kids live here and we love them!" I especially love them at night. The boys had fun putting them up. 

Inside there are little touches here and there like the red hearts I found at Hobby Lobby that I placed in plants. 

On our foyer mirror there's a metal heart that coordinates with the sign hanging from our mantle. 

In the kitchen there are Valentine's napkins and a few votives and hearts placed. Again, not much but it's the small touches that remind us that love is in the air (or should be!) 

Our dining room (that's open to the living room) always gets the most because it's where we eat every night and it's also where the kids find their Valentine's Day presents when they wake up that day. 

This year I once again tied red hearts found at the Dollar Store with burlap wired ribbon on the backs of chairs. I smushed one so it's a slightly different shape but not something you readily notice and is quirky...much like those that live in this house.  

Then I placed my red felt runner along with some simple candles found at Target for $3. 

The kids have their own placemats that pull in the colors of our room. They are from Target several years ago (only $1!!) and I put their name in vinyl letters on the hearts. That's an easy trick for cheap placemats. The kids love them! 

One new love touch this year are love notes to my children. I bought simple doilies at the Target $1 bin and every day (or so) until Valentine's Day they get a love note put on their bedroom door. A different color for each child and I try to specify a positive behavior. When they first saw them, they both beamed as they were read. (I might have forgotten and put three up at one time. Better late than never!)  It really is important to fuel our children in positive ways and this one is so easy. 

That's it for my tour of love. Just a few fun changes here and there. I hope this year you'll spread a little love to someone special! Smooches...

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Much More Than Lights

Meet my grandmother. I called her Gimmer because I couldn't pronounce grandmother and so when I was little, and being the first grandchild, it came out as Gimmer. Her real name was Emily Siler Rothrock (then Durban when she remarried after my grandfather passed). I loved her so much and I still miss her even though she's been gone for 13+ years. 

I snapped this picture from an old photo album not long ago because it's such a good picture of her and much of how I remember her as a little girl. She had a great sense of style. She was always dressed well with a bright lipstick on. She used to tell me at 4:45p (when I was visiting) "come on, Anna, it's time to go freshen up for supper" and we'd go comb our hair and put on our lipstick. Her home was always well decorated as well. Lots of little trinkets that meant something and all types of sentimental pieces that all seemed to work together. 

The house she lived in was one that she and my grandfather designed and built. It has such a fun layout and has a TON of storage. I would love to have the blueprints and recreate something similar one day. Every nook and cranny was thought through. 

They were once featured in a small magazine which now sits framed in my living room. In the center it has my mom and her three brothers posing in front of their "locker" when they were little. I've always said your home and art should be personal. It should reflect who you are and what you love, not just something that matches. 

So when we worked on our kitchen update I knew that the light we originally installed back in 2013 wasn't one I wanted to keep. The style was fine but the light it cast in our small kitchen was more like retina burning a radiating sun than a soft glow. You can see it at the top of the picture below. Pretty but not right for this space.

This brings me to the point of this post. Last fall I asked my mom and uncles if I could have one of the light fixtures from my grandmother's house. They still own the house and use it for extended family gatherings. She had two that were similar and the smaller one would be perfect in our kitchen. Much to my appreciation, they said yes. I literally did a happy dance when they all emailed back confirmation. 

Here's what the new lights in our kitchen look like now. 

Aren't they magnificent!? The hubs had them installed while the boys and I were still visiting my parents over Christmas and when I came in I squealed...and might have even just sat in the kitchen for awhile admiring them. They are a pretty blue, red and orange from the 1960's or 1970's (no one really knows for sure) and I just so happen to have these colors in my own home. They cast the pretties glow in the kitchen at night. 

But you see they aren't just a light. To me they represent my grandmother (yes I'm crying as I type this). They represent her style. Her spunk. Her wonderful eye for design. Her strength. And most of all, my fond memories of going to her house. Now a little part of her home hangs in my home. It will forever go with me no matter where we live. 

So to my family who said yes to me taking these lights...thank you. I know change isn't easy, especially when it's sentimental. It means more than you know and I still walk by and smile every time I see them. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Kitchen Updates

You ever work on a project and picture it one way in your head yet in reality it turned out not to be so grand? Well I'm happy to say that's not the case here...well not anymore at least.  

When we first remodeled our kitchen we tried to work with what we had to save money but also make it more updated and functional. In hindsight I would have chosen not to paint our lower cabinets white and would have selected a different granite. That darn hindsight being 20/20 and all. 

I showed you the most recent picture before we updated (again) in our 2016 House Tour but here's a little refresher. 

With the recent changes I was most excited about A) the lighting (there's nothing like trying to cook with shadows) and B) the back splash. OK really, the back splash. I have always wanted a tile back splash and never had one in my homes. Tragic first world problems. Daniel was most excited about the vented hood range. 

So our friends over at SDJ Services handled most of the work plus a little more. I'm so excited to show you the finished kitchen because they did such a good job. Say hi, Shaun and Paul...

Hi Shaun!

Hi Paul!

Here's what the kitchen looks like after their handy work...complete with back splash, canned lighting, and a vented kitchen hood/microwave. 

Isn't it sooo much better!? I mean it's like 110% better...if that were a real number. But here's the funny thing. After I had all of the back splash up, I realized I hated the wall color. My poor husband. More on that soon because the solution is not pictured here. So in reality this isn't a completed kitchen yet. 

I opted for basic white subway tile with 1/4" grey grout to coordinate with the cabinet color. It's a small kitchen and while I could have done more fun in the way of tile, I wanted simple and classic for this house. I change things up too much so this allows me to play around. I opted for 1/4" grout because too small and it may have been too busy and white. The darker lower cabinet color is so much better for our busy house too. No more drips, dirt

You'll notice I purposefully left out the picture of the lights. There's a reason for that coming up in the aforementioned new post. 

Until then, and because I love a good before and after picture, check out how far we've come in the 3 years we've been here. 

Oh and if you want to contact SDJ Services for help in your home here's their info: 
(803) 422-5978 or 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Tour (part 2)

Shall we head a little further in to Schrallville? Yes. Let's. 

This past weekend we hosted a party for our Sunday School class. Perhaps the biggest compliment I could have gotten, aside from that our house was very homey, was that it smelled good. I know that's weird but when you have 3 dogs, a cat and two little boys, that's a huge deal! 

I took you through the foyer and kitchen in my last post. Next is the dining room...

The mirror has greenery, the manger scene is set and in the mirror you can see a Christmas ornament ball wreath is hanging in the window. I made one a few years ago in golds, oranges and teal blues to coordinate with our colors. 

I also have an authentic wooden carousel from Germany. My parents brought it back from one of their trips and it's always fun to show the kids how the heat from the candles turns the carousel. 

My table this year is filled with mercury glass - ornaments, candles, trees. With a little pop of red thrown in for fun. 

I love the mix of sparkle and shine and it doesn't compete with the other colors in the adjoining rooms. 

I put our Christmas tree in a different spot this year. It's usually over near the couch but I thought I'd switch it up. While I like it here, I like it better tucked over near the couch. This blocks too much view in an already divided house. You can see what I mean in the pictures below. 

The living room always has a little something on the table tops...a Santa here...a reindeer there...

I love our coffee table this year. I bought a round wooden tray to add to the mix and with some fresh greenery and a few books, it looks very cozy. 

Some find it crazy that we have so many things "within touch" with kids. I've always had it that way. The boys have learned from a very young age that there are things they can play with and things they can't. Now it's not a big deal and they appreciate the decorations. 

The mantle this year is simple. With the TV and now soundbar, there's not but so much room to put decorations. But it's balanced and has a touch of sparkle without overwhelming it. 

The rest of the house has touches of Christmas. The main bathroom has a festive shower curtain...the "man room" has little pops of cheer spread around...even the boys have a little tinsel tree and some matching red garland along their windows. 

So thanks for taking our little tour. Our house is always open and we hope it always feels welcoming to all who enter. 

Merry Christmas!