In With the New

I’m pretty sure that I have finally fully made the mental and emotional transition to our new city and our new house. I went shopping with the girls last night and as I stood next to my car waiting for Halle to get out I realized that everything felt familiar instead of strange and new. I actually really love our new city. It’s tiny for sure but the upside is that I can get anywhere in town within 10 minutes. And since I can get to Target in less than 10 it’s a big win for me.

I mentioned in my last post that we’ve had a lot of overnight guests since we moved in and I joked to Travis that we should start calling our house the Button hotel. Trav’s brother and his girlfriend visited last week and next Monday the Button hotel will be abuzz with Trav’s brother and family, my parents and Amanda and Daniel- 13 people in all.

In our last house, which was less than half the size of this one, we had ten people total for Thanksgiving. We also had less than half the bathrooms that we have now so everybody had to be very considerate to make it work- and everybody was. I remember hearing, “I’m about to shower, does anybody have to use the bathroom?”, being shouted several times a day. I also remember all 10 of us being together in the tiny living room at the same time. We also had dinner seating for 6 at the most so one year the kids ate Thanksgiving dinner out on the patio- thankfully it was a warm Thanksgiving. And last year at Christmas Travis stood up and ate Christmas dinner. He was a good sport about it but it wasn’t ideal.

This year we have an actual dining room! I’d been using it as an office and thought about making it a seating area since we don’t have a bonus room (we have everything else we wanted plus some). Travis works from home at least once a week though and since we also homeschool it’s too noisy for him to work downstairs. We also decided that we really needed to use the dining room for dining. So it was time for a dining room set.

I’ve been an avid Craigslist shopper since we moved into our last house. It was the perfect way to get the furniture I needed with a tiny budget. I’ll admit though that I’d grown weary of taking out the seats in the minivan and moving heavy furniture out of someone’s house and then lugging it into mine. Maybe I’ve gotten lazy. I also didn’t find the perfect combination of function, price and likeability. I did find a vintage set that I loved but it only sat 6 and I wanted a table that would seat at least 8. After Travis and I measured the dining room to see how big of a table we could buy though we determined that we could seat a maximum of 8. So we went shopping!

And found this…

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I liked it because it was formal but not too formal, traditional but not too traditional. I think it’s because the backs of the chairs are straight rather than curved. We looked at less formal sets but since the dining room has wainscoting and hardwoods we felt we needed to go with something more formal.

I really like the way it looks in the dining room.

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It’s a bit of a bummer that when it was delivered there was a decent gash in the top. Thankfully, without my even asking, American Signature is sending a new one. So far I’m really impressed with their customer service.

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I love that we got a buffet at the same time because in addition to being pretty, it also serves as storage for tablecloths and homeschool supplies.

I was also able to accessorize a bit. I knew that I wanted a pop of color in that room (my eyes are kind of tired of blue) and found the picture of poppies on sale at Kirkland’s for $35 but it was another 40% off so I feel like I stole it at $22 (with tax). I got the light gold mercury glass candle holders at Ross for about $6 each and I let the girls pick the candles at $5 each. The lantern was a super-awesome housewarming gift from my aunts. I love it and I’ve wanted one for forever. So, even though we bought a new set I was able to accessorize with bargains.

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The room also serves as a place for Chloe to do her school work. In the last house the girls were always fighting over table space which added to my stress level. Now each girl has their own table to work at, it’s such a blessing.

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I think I’m ready for Thanksgiving.

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Little Bits of Happy

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I’ve decided that lofty blogging goals are going to be impossible in my current life season. We returned from a much needed vacation last week then our oldest daughter flew in Friday, my parents drove in, our youngest daughters have been sick and were kind enough to pass it on to me, a college friend will be staying with us while she’s in town and we have a conference, church and meetings all weekend. We are sprinting toward the end of the year.

Oh yeah, we homeschool too!

I’m thankful for all of it (well, except the sickness). I’m so happy that our house isn’t just for us. Travis and I really wanted whatever house we bought to be big enough for people and for whatever ministry God called us to. So far we’ve had people stay with us and have had at least one party so I think we’re off to a good start.

In light of all of this and because I want to keep blogging as a hobby, I thought I’d take the house stuff in manageable, bite-sized pieces. Which also means I don’t have to wait until my house is completely clean before I write :D

Today I’m focusing on the fireplace and mantle.

When we were looking for a home I was convinced that only a wood burning fireplace would do. I love the smell and the crackle of the wood burning but I’ve actually become very fond of just flipping a switch to start a fire. We still have a fire pit so I can have a wood fire outside. The benefit to me is that I don’t have to deal with cleaning up ash inside.

I’m not sure that I love the configuration of the TV and the ugly chair needs to go (I’m almost serious about it this time since it’s gotten less comfortable) but that’s how things will stay for now.

I don’t expect the house to be completely personalized for a while. It made me crazy at first to have to live with beige walls… okay it still makes me crazy. I’ve got too much going on though to paint right now. Which is why I chose teal curtains for the living room. A splash of color helps my psyche.

Until next time,

Amy

Finding the Good

Travis asked me a few days ago if I was ever going to write again. Of course, I immediately took that as a challenge because that’s what my type A personality does. I informed him that I was already working on a blog post but I hadn’t published it yet. So there. I’m sort of kidding. I know that he asked just because he likes to read what I write. It’s nice to have a husband that is also a big fan of mine.

I’ve thought and sorted and thought some more about what to write because I imagined that once I did write it would be a great post about the house with pictures of what we’ve done- and I’ll get to that- but if I’m going to be completely honest, this move has been a much more difficult transition for me than I thought it would be.

I loved living in Franklin. Anyone that knows me well knows that about me. Living in Franklin was the closest to home that I’d felt in the years since we left Florida. The historic homes and buildings were what I loved about my hometown in Lakeland. For years my family attended church that was a 30 minute drive from where we lived and since there was no interstate to make the commute faster, we had to drive through the center of town…a lot. Four times on Sunday, twice on Monday and twice on Wednesday. I never, ever tired of driving around Lake Hollingsworth with it’s big historic mansions. I loved taking Success Avenue past the historic Mediterranean, Foursquare & Cottage homes. Through downtown I could see historic hotels, some had been converted to assisted living and another was full of homeless people until it shut down and was later refurbished and reopened but I always thought they were beautiful. I tend to see things for what they could be rather than what they are presently.

When we moved to Franklin I loved it. Once again, every Sunday, we were driving through the historic district to get to church. Franklin has a decided advantage over Lakeland in the lack of crime and I always felt safe walking there. I instantly felt at home. We’d already lived in Tennessee for about 7 years and although I had really tried to, I hadn’t felt at home before we moved to Franklin

So why didn’t we stay there? Well, after years of living in a house that was way too small, that was older and needed so much expensive work, I was tired. We were tired. All of us, even the kids. The real estate market had gone up drastically, very quickly, which was good for us in that we were able to sell our house but we weren’t going to be able to go up in space as much as we felt that we needed to for the price we wanted to pay and we definitely didn’t want another fixer upper. We prayed about it, of course. We talked to our leaders at church, we talked to our Realtor- who also happens to be a leader at our church- we talked to friends that we love and respect their advice, & we talked to our parents. We didn’t want to make a mistake because real estate mistakes are expensive and can bring a lot of misery. Been there, done that. So, having talked (a lot) and having prayed (a lot) we decided that we were going to move to Spring Hill.

And you know the rest of the story, we found an amazing, brand-new house that had everything we wanted and a lot of things that we hoped for but were sure we wouldn’t get. It’s truly amazing. I’ve said to some friends that it’s like God peeked inside my head and put everything I wanted into our home, stuck a bow on it and gave it to us. Just the space alone has made so many things easier for us and I have been so thankful.

We’ve hosted my parents and friends and Amanda and Daniel have already visited and we had room for everybody. Travis and I remarked over and over about how much less stressful it was to have four extra people stay in our new house. There were plenty of bathrooms and bedrooms and we could have everyone in the kitchen at the same time and still have room for more people. Our home is beautiful. We have granite countertops and wood floors, a fireplace and front porch. Our yard was fenced in before we ever moved in so Daisy is safe, the neighborhood has sidewalks and a swimming pool. It has everything that I said I wanted and more.

So imagine my surprise when I started waking up depressed.

I never thought that a new house would make me happy. I was pretty sure that a new house would make some things in my life less stressful and I was right about that. It’s much less stressful to have a garage and closets to store things in. It’s much less stressful because when I open a closet door, nothing falls on my head. But I’ve known for years that the thoughts of, “if only” were nothing more than a diversion. If only we were out of debt, if only my house were bigger, if only…add whatever you’re struggling with here….my life would be better. “If only” keeps us from facing things inside of us that need healing, it keeps us from facing our misery head on. So we sit and stew and focus on the big things that we think are making our lives miserable instead of the root of the problem. I can say this because I used to live in the land of “if only” and it never helps.

Okay, so “yay” I was right. My house didn’t make me happy but I can say with all certainty that I didn’t expect it to depress me. So, I did what I always do.

I mentally freaked out.

For days and days I tried to figure out why in the world I could possibly be depressed. God had moved mountains for us. He sold a house that I was convinced we would never be able to sell and had given us everything that we wanted. I had no right to be depressed and I told myself that over and over and over. I was being ungrateful. Except that I knew I was thankful for everything and for where God had brought us so that couldn’t be it. But maybe it could. So I tried to forget about it. And I didn’t want to get out of bed. So I told myself I was being lazy. Over and over and over again. It was a merry-go-round of misery. I read my Bible and I prayed but I didn’t feel like doing either thing. I was crabby and irritable and I wasn’t sleeping- again. I wondered what terrible sin I’d committed that would cause me to be in such a funk. I looked for things in my neighborhood that would make me feel at home. I walked and took pictures and was determined to find something, anything that would help me not feel so out of sorts.

The walk actually really helped.

Something else that helped was taking a walk with Travis through our neighborhood and just talking to sort it out. When I’m depressed I’m very quiet. If you’ve followed my blog through the years you could probably pinpoint when I’m happy and optimistic and when I’m depressed or dealing with big things just by how often I write. I’m not a terribly mysterious person. Although if I’d just talk it out I’d make things much easier on myself.

So, Travis and I talked and talked and walked and walked and imagine my surprise when he brought up the subject of possibly buying 5 or 10 acres and building a house at some point in the future. Wait, what? I suddenly had permission to dream again. This house wasn’t the end of the road. If Travis thinks of wanting to do something else in a few years, then maybe I’m not being ungrateful for feeling hemmed in by houses and a privacy fence. Maybe it’s okay for me to dream of someday having my own orchard and a couple of goats.

Then for Labor Day we had some friends over that hadn’t seen the house yet. These people are so dear and went through every single bit of drama with us last year. The old house’s remodel, Travis getting laid off, us trying to figure out where to move, and they fasted and prayed with us for the sale of our house. During the course of the evening we talked and laughed and we also prayed for each other. At the very end of the night, I don’t remember how it came up, I was very honest with them about how difficult a transition this has been for me. And I was so surprised to hear my friend say that she had been concerned about that for me. I said that it shouldn’t matter because Franklin is only 20 minutes away, I can still visit, but I was actually depressed and didn’t want to get out of bed. She told me that she’d experienced the same thing when she moved. She told herself that she was moving from a small town to a small town but she still cried when she went to the grocery store. In that moment she gave me permission to feel sad that I’d moved away from a place that I loved. Suddenly everything made sense and I felt a giant weight roll off of me.

It wasn’t complicated or mysterious anymore. I’m a girl that misses her adopted hometown. That’s it.

I don’t let myself feel sad, angry, disappointed, etc. without spending a whole lot of time berating myself for having “bad” feelings. My feelings were an indicator that something was wrong but because I’ve been trained to believe that every feeling that isn’t happiness or joy is of “the devil” it kept me from getting to the bottom of what was actually wrong. Because something was wrong, I was sad. Denying it, rebuking it, trying to pray it away didn’t do any good. Understanding that we made the right decision to move here, for all the right reasons hasn’t exempted me from the consequences of that. Consequences is a word that’s typically taken as punishment, ie, “you disobeyed and those are the consequences” when all it really means is, “a result or effect of an action or condition”. We moved to Spring Hill and I’ve had to deal with sadness because I moved away from Franklin.

So why would my first blog post after I move be about this? I can’t say anything other than I felt like I should write about it. Because I’m never the only one. I like to think that I’m completely unique but I struggle with the same things that everyone else does. And also so that I’ll remember the next time I’m in a situation like this. I should have called someone and been honest about struggling. But honestly, everyone was so happy for us that I didn’t want to bring anyone down. I also didn’t want to be the woman who just wasn’t going to be happy no matter what. I didn’t want to be called ungrateful or deal with being reprimanded over feeling sad- yes, that’s happened before. I felt pressure to be only happy and whether or not that was justified I felt that way anyway. I’m writing this so that next time I can pray about who to talk to about it because God knows who I needed in that moment and for every other moment. I had no idea that my friend and leader would understand that even though I was happy and excited and thankful about our new house I could also be very sad about leaving Franklin. But God knew and even though it wasn’t part of my plan to talk about it, it was part of His plan. And I honestly don’t feel so sad anymore. I’ll keep looking for the good and I have no doubt that I’ll find exactly what I’m looking for.

Back to Reality…Sort of

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These last few weeks have been a whirlwind of showings and offers and complete craziness. So much so that I had to get out of town. I decided that I’d visit my parents for a few days because 7 showings in 5 days was just too much. My right eye had started twitching and was getting worse and by the time I was on I-65 driving south my left eye started twitching too. I have to say that it’s hard to drive that way.

As it turns out, if I’d just stuck with things around here a few days longer it would have been fine. After the last two showings we didn’t get anymore requests until after we’d accepted an offer. Which means that Daisy didn’t really need to be boarded and the Buttons wouldn’t have caught the sickness that my parents came home from Romania with. Sigh. But I hadn’t seen my parents since Amanda’s wedding and before that it was Christmas and I was able to have a birthday dinner with my dad so it was worth it. I just wish that we weren’t all feeling so crummy because we have *too much* to do.

The contract on our house has an inspection contingency and the inspection is Friday. I’m not too worried because of all the work we put into the house before we even put it on the market. I would honestly be shocked if there was anything major that needed to be repaired because the house is not that big and we went over it with a fine toothed comb beforehand.

Tomorrow is the day that we plan on placing an offer on another home! Like, for real! I don’t want to say too much because this is real estate and stuff happens. The house is brand new and beautiful though, I’ll say that much. It’s also in Spring Hill which is farther south than we live right now. I imagine that people who know me well might be surprised about that but the market in Franklin has gone up in price significantly in the last year and we just aren’t willing to do another fixer-upper or to buy a house that’s too small for us. We can still visit downtown and that kind of thing but in the new house we’ll be about 5 minutes from the interstate which makes it much easier to get to the places we want to go. And we’ll be living in a house that we want to live in. I’m so excited!!! In a calm, keep my distance until it’s for sure kind of way.

I mentioned Amanda’s wedding and I haven’t written about that yet but I want to. Of course, this morning while in the shower I realized that it had been a *long* time since I’d shaved my legs. I have no idea how long but I’m usually on top of that kind of thing. My stress level is starting to decrease to the point that I’m sleeping at night, my eyes are no longer twitching and I’m not having heart flutters. I’m also having somewhat coherent thoughts although when Travis and I are talking I do often drift off into thought about some detail that needs to be worked out. It’s hard for us to get through a conversation right now. I say all that to say that while I intend to be back at my blog, don’t expect a great American novel or anything. Maybe I’ll post pictures though. Later.

Happy Holidays

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Here we are on the cusp of the holiday season and I’m excited. I love holidays and time with my family. I love baking and singing and listening to Christmas music. As I’ve looked back over some holiday seasons that stand out to me, unfortunately what stands out the most are the stressed holidays. Like the year my friends and I decided to do a handmade Christmas. Did any of you get on that bandwagon? It was all over mom blogs in either 2007 or 2008. Now, if you love that kind of thing and couldn’t imagine doing Christmas any other way that’s great, but all I remember was being captive on the couch while I furiously embroidered stockings, sewed up felt pouches I made to hold chalk and little personalized chalkboards drying all over my kitchen. The morning I was supposed to gift them I realized that I hadn’t painted the backs of two chalkboards. I hadn’t spent much time with my kids because I was too busy and I mostly just felt frazzled and full of regret. Because spending time with my kids is the most fun part of anything for me. Considering that quality time is my love language it makes sense.

Last year I did so many great things. The holiday season started with Travis taking me on a birthday trip, then we raced home and my parents brought our kids home from Birmingham, then Travis’ brother and his family came for Thanksgiving and Travis and I were in the Christmas production at church, Chloe had two Christmas concerts plus parties, Halle had two Christmas productions and I don’t remember anything about shopping or baking. I did not come out of that season well. I remember crying a lot.

Now, if you’re reading this saying, “Um, yeah, that’s what the holidays are all about” then you and I are probably very different.

My mom will so completely knock herself out for the holidays that she zonks out on the couch at the end of the day, every day leading up to Thanksgiving or Christmas. But she loves it. It’s her dream to have her entire family at her house on all of the holidays so she can cook for them. I prefer to sit in the living room and talk to my dad. It’s not because I’m lazy or don’t enjoy cooking, it’s because I love interacting with my family and talking to them (I’d talk to my mom but it’s best to stay out of her way when she’s cooking). I get to enjoy little moments that I’ll miss if I’m not paying attention. For instance, if Halle pretends to be a turkey and does a silly dance I want to see it. It’s the moments I enjoy. It’s the moments that make me happy. I’d eat takeout or a sandwich if it meant that I wouldn’t miss those moments.

For those of you that are having a heart attack right now at my mention of sandwiches on Thanksgiving, don’t fret. The meal is important to my family and we’ve never had sandwiches on Thanksgiving- unless they’re leftover turkey sandwiches that night.

My point is that I’m just now realizing what’s most important to me. Time. Moments. Hugs. Sitting in the living room talking to my husband or playing Wii games with the family. We’ll have all of the “stuff” of the holidays but I’m determined to not miss the most important things.

Some of my time is already obligated. Amanda and Daniel are coming here on the 22nd and I couldn’t be more excited. Good, home cooked food will be expected and much appreciated. I’ve found that Amanda’s love language is breakfast (though you won’t find that in the book). Nothing gets my college age, engaged kid out of bed faster than a stack of piping hot pancakes. And bacon. And sausage. And fruit. And all of the breakfast foods. I love cooking for her because even though she’s always appreciated it, she *really* appreciates it now that she’s on her own, living 700+ miles away.

The rest of my time though is pretty free. I’m not in a musical and I have time to spend with my kids and husband. I’ll have the opportunity to meet my family’s needs in a way that’s important to them. Halle is the most vocal about spending time together and she loves baking so we’ll do that together. Chloe has changed a bit in the last year or so and the thing  that is most important to her is one-on-one time with one parent at a time doing a specific thing. For instance, she loves watching super hero movies with Travis, while shopping is what she loves doing with me. It’s not the same if I take her to a super hero movie or if Travis were to take her shopping. Travis took her to see, Thor this past weekend so I’m pretty sure I get to go shopping with her now. Amanda lives far away so we’ll do the Nashville/Franklin experience with her. Downtown Franklin, Opry Mills, and we’ll see the lights at the Opryland Hotel. That’s not everyone’s experience but that’s what she loves to do. And Travis and I will make sure we get time alone. We love to Christmas shop together. And what will I do? Hmmm, I don’t know. I think that’s the point of this post. I so often take into account what everyone else loves or wants to do and since I really want to meet their needs I don’t really pay attention to what I want and need. Or I let it go. Until I start crying. Again.

So, I’ll make my own list and I’ll share it with Travis and he will absolutely insist that I do the things on it. Mostly because he wants me to take care of myself but also because if he can keep me from crying then it’s a win-win.

I’ve also made a bit of a mental list of how to get through this holiday season peacefully and I thought I’d share it with y’all.

Be Kind- It’s possible that the lady that almost ran you over with her shopping cart has and hour before her babysitter has to be home and it’s her only Christmas shopping day. Cut her some slack and be Jesus to her- even if she doesn’t realize you’re doing it.

Be Patient- That guy that cut you off in traffic might just be a jerk or he’s having a really bad day. Either way don’t let it ruin yours.

Be Loving- Because it’s what Jesus would do and it won’t cause a spike in your blood pressure.

Cut People Some Slack- Most of us are after the same thing at the same time. There will be be traffic. There will be crying babies. There will be frazzled parents. The item you want will be out of stock. It all just happens but if you cut people some slack they will appreciate it. And you might find that it makes you feel better too.

Smile- I remember once that I was in my car and was stopped at a traffic light. I was in a bad relationship, my life was a mess and I was miserable. Someone in the next car over smiled at me and it made my day. That was over 20 years ago and I still remember it. You might make someone’s day.

If you find yourself being irritable, grouchy, tired or the like take a break. Get some coffee, eat a scone, take a nap in your car (one of my dad’s favorite things) or get some lunch. Being grouchy isn’t fun for you or for your family.

Make a Plan- Hate crowds? You could shop online or shop during off times. I figured out a few years ago that Franklin doesn’t really wake up until 11am. Since the mall opens at 8 am  I can have 3 hours of shopping before the crowds get there. Or I’ll shop late. I’ve spent most of my life as a night owl but I’ve been going to bed and waking up earlier in my pursuit of peace so that might not be an option this year.

I’m looking forward to the next few weeks and I plan on enjoying them.

So, what about you? What’s your favorite part of the holidays? What’s your strategy for making your holiday season peaceful? I’d love to hear it.

Peace,

Amy

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