For as long as I can remember, writing has been my way to make sense of the world. What doesn’t quite make sense is how often I forget to do this. I fail to remember just how necessary it is for me to write or type my thoughts in the hopes that I can be more perceptive to what it is I’m feeling. Other times I don’t write because the time and emotional energy it takes to do so aren’t readily available. Since it’s quiet in the house today and I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, I’m going to attempt to collect my thoughts and share with you a glimpse of my Nanny through my eyes.

Nanny was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s some years back. The date really does not matter as we look back and realize the signs were there for quite some time. At first, it seemed slightly concerning, yet manageable. I’m sure the frustration of her own forgetfulness was painful at times. I later learned that this was only the beginning stage of a heartbreaking disease. The lines are blurred between the beginning and middle stages but we all were keenly aware of the progression of the Alzheimer’s. I remember worrying about her safety and well-being for the first time in my life and thinking that the role reversal was quite odd and sad. I’m sure my mom and her siblings felt this even more so.

So many of the months and years of the middle stage run together in my mind. I guess that in raising two kids, the sleepless nights contributed to memory loss of my own. I do remember being painfully aware of the distance between Nanny and I that the disease created. So many of the things she would do and say just didn’t seem right and I suppose that’s because they weren’t. Her brain was sick. I’m now able to look back and laugh at the times she accused me of stealing her silver hoop earrings and antique crocheted doilies. If she had been in her right mind, I believe she would have also laughed at the silliness of her “lost” goods. They were often found right where she left (or hid) them.

While I do believe that laughter is some of the best medicine, I don’t think that it diminishes the hurt that we all endured at the hands of this disease. It was during this time that I came to terms with the fact that I could no longer pick up the phone to have a “normal” conversation with her. I believe that this revelation, among other occurrences, jump started the grief process in my own heart. I felt myself slowly losing my grandmother though her body was still on this earth.

I firmly believe that the Lord does not allow the suffering of his children to be in vain. I’m thankful that Nanny’s suffering of the body and mind ended when she was called Home.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.

Revelation 21:4, CSB

In some ways, I’m grateful that we knew this was coming. We learned she was very ill in the beginning of January. I think being able to mentally prepare myself was helpful. I had the opportunity to sit down and gradually sort through my favorite photos of Nanny over the years. I’m so thankful for the snapshots I captured of her rocking each of my babies. I’ll never forget taking them and thinking, “You’re going to miss this.” I vividly remember the last day the kids and I saw her in her house. I cried on the way home. We all knew she could not continue living on her own but the knowledge that she was no longer in the same comforting place she had been for most of my life was heart wrenching.

I remember the context of so many of our visits just by looking at the photos I’ve taken. I can hear her voice giving advice–unsolicited usually! It’s funny how the things that can drive you crazy about a person are often the things that you miss the most when they’re gone. Nanny had an opinion about everything. I guess when you live 86 years on this earth you learn a thing or two. Her wisdom was always imparted in some way every time I had the opportunity to be near her. I would often call her when I was frustrated or upset over a situation and needed clarity. She didn’t have much of a filter and was quick to give an assessment of any given circumstance. She usually told me things that I needed to hear whether I was ready to listen or not. I wish she could give me one last bit of advice.

So much of her advice came in the form of product recommendations and beauty rituals. It sounds like a funny, light-hearted memory, but those that knew her were well aware of her skincare obsession! Have you ever really been to Nanny’s house if you didn’t hear mention of her all-time-favorite Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion? Or perhaps she schooled you on the importance of using Pond’s Cold Cream to remove your makeup nightly. “Putting on” her face was the term she used for applying makeup–something she did daily whether she was going to the grocery store or working in her yard. Penciled in eyebrows and lipstick are two things that have stuck with me. Secret deodorant was her go to. The Listerine must be original. Mentholatum for congestion or stuffy noses. Campho Phenique for cold sores and various other ailments. I find some strange form of comfort in the predictability of her medicine cabinet line up.

Nanny was the true definition of an independent woman. She was a “Do-It-Yourself” kind of gal before it was cool. She lost her first husband unexpectedly and had to carry on with two small children. She later remarried and added two more children to her family. After divorcing her second husband, she pulled herself up by her boot straps, once again, and pressed on. I have a lump in my throat when I think about the challenges she must have faced as a single mom of four heading into the workforce in the 1960s. I can’t help but wonder if she would have preferred to be a stay at home mom like myself. I’ve admired her grit every time I’ve reflected on this season of her life. She worked for the Texas State Highway Department and made many lifelong friends over the course of her 25 years there. When she retired, she never stopped being active. Though I’ve heard the stories of how she loved to go two-stepping, I never knew that side of her. I must admit, it makes me smile to think of her throwing back a Coors Light and dancing the soles off her custom boots. She wasn’t grandmotherly in the ways that most expect but the parts of her that I knew are the ones that continue to serve as an example of the kind of woman I want to be.

It wasn’t uncommon to find Nanny in her yard. On any given day, I could pull into her driveway and find her picking up pinecones, raking up pine straw, or tending to her hydrangeas. She push mowed her own yard well into her 80s! It would have been unfathomable to her to not take care of her lawn. She even got into a tizzy with a neighbor once over said neighbor trying to encroach upon her property line! Oh, Nanny! Unfortunately, I did not inherit her passion for yard work.

Nanny didn’t just pride herself on a neat yard; she also enjoyed taking care of the interior of her home. I find it amusing that I never connected the dots of where my mom and I both learned our love of decorating until recently. Nanny singlehandedly completed a most impressive makeover on her home. Painting walls, hanging wallpaper, minor plumbing jobs, moving furniture–nothing was too difficult for her. If it needed to be done, she did it. Every room in her house was skillfully decorated and incorporated the perfect mix of new and antique/well loved items. She was ahead of the HGTV game! I like to think I exhibit a little bit of this “Nanny behavior” each time I complete a DIY project of my own.

Each of her children and grandchildren have fond memories of her food. Roast with all of the fixings, fried salmon patties, chicken and dressing, chicken stew, and (the not-so-fancy) scrambled egg sandwich are a few of my personal favorites. I learned not too long ago that Nanny’s job growing up in her large family was to be the dessert maker. This is where her talents in the kitchen really impressed us all. Rice Krispie treats, brownies and cookies were typically reserved for us grandkids and our friends. Pies were second nature to her and she cheerfully brought them along to any special event. Vanilla Wafer cake is probably one of my family’s most treasured recipes and one of the few things that I’ve dared to make on my own. It was a recipe given to Nanny by a precious, long time friend whose neck I absolutely had to hug at the visitation–if only for the coveted recipe, hand-written on a pink index card! Some of her holiday specialties included: peanut brittle, fudge and *drumroll please* Martha Washington candies. I will forever admire the ease and comfort with which she operated in her kitchen and think of her often when I cook in mine.

Perhaps one of the most commonly mentioned characteristics of Nanny by others is her feistiness. She had a sassy streak a mile wide and a quick wit all her own. I think so much of that is attributed to having to think on her feet and make decisions for herself and her family. She took care of business and expected others to do the same. She made no apologies for her convictions and I don’t believe she would mind me saying that she didn’t take sh*t off of anyone! Take it or leave it, she was the best combination of spirit, spunk, grit and glam.

I’m moved to tears at the realization of just how blessed I was to have someone like Nanny in my life for 27 years. The great loss of her presence on this earth is gain to her loved ones in heaven. I can’t wait to see her again one day. “I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck!”

Please visit alz.org if you have any questions about Alzheimer’s or would like to make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association.

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Fundraising made easy

Hey friends & family! As most of you probably know, Remington is in Kindergarten this year. He loves it! Having a kiddo in “big school” is lots of fun for Jarrett and I, but it’s also our first time dealing with fundraising since being in school ourselves. I have to say, it’s come a long way from the glory days of door-to-door wrapping paper sales! (According to Jarrett, that was just my school–his sold cookie dough and pizza!! haha!)

Meet SchoolStore.

I love the concept for this fundraiser because it truly takes the pressure off.
1. It’s year-round.
-No stressful time constraints and no nagging daily reminders (though I may post reminders occasionally throughout the year)
2. It is 100% online.
-Most of us already utilize the internet daily. I love that this fundraiser doesn’t require the hassle of spreadsheets or attempting to collect money! Shop in your pjs if you like!
3. You are probably already shopping with the online merchants that will donate a percentage back to the school.
-So convenient for those that love to Christmas shop exclusively online!

Ways to support the school:

1. Donate a gift card to Remi’s teacher to shop for essential classroom supplies.
2. Shop the Family Book Store to purchase or renew a magazine subscription or select from the inventory of cookbooks, DVDs, etc.
-The school receives up to 50% of the total purchase
3. Shop online. Sign in to SchoolStore.com to shop with over 400 merchants. A percentage of the total purchase goes back to the school.
I’ll post the link below. If you have any trouble, send me a message! The website seems fairly easy to navigate.
** The Family Book Store purchases contribute to Remington winning a prize.

We are passionate about education and want to do our part. Thank you in advance for helping Remi’s school!

 

P.S. We would also love to receive any Box Tops you may have around the house! Those help support our school as well and Remi is in a little classroom competition to collect the most!

I love it so bad!

I’m still a kid at heart on Christmas Eve because I can never sleep! I’m the only one awake & figured now would be the prime time to sift through all of the Christmas pictures I’ve been meaning to post. I’m feeling extra thankful tonight for the sweet family I’ve been given. As Remi said while opening gifts at Christmas Eve brunch, “I love it, love it, love it! I love it so bad!!!!” Perfect description of how I feel about this time of year! #AllTheFeels 

Back in October we had pictures with Santa. Don’t ask me why I’m finally posting them. My only valid excuse is that I was waiting until after Thanksgiving to share & then we moved & my mind has been elsewhere for the most of November & December! Whoops! Better late than never. We loved our pics with Santa last year and were so excited again this year. I don’t think Remi was anticipating having to share Santa with his baby sister. Haha! We love that jolly guy! _DSC0518_DSC0520_DSC0523_DSC0530_DSC0546_DSC0549_DSC0559_DSC0592
My inlaws had a friend take pictures of them along with Remi and Ruby Kate for Christmas cards. They turned out pretty cute considering neither kid wanted to cooperate! Typical! _DSC7605-176_DSC7609-183_DSC7627-219_DSC7637-240_DSC7650-9_DSC7653-12_DSC7656-15_DSC7673-32_DSC7678-37_DSC7684-43_DSC7708-67

Love those little stinkers! Sometimes I can’t help but imagine humorous dialogue between the two of them! For once I’m pretty sure the eye rolling during a picture session isn’t directed toward me! 
If you haven’t seen the “Movie on Cwismus” that our church media team put together, you must check it out! It’s such a sweet perspective on the Christmas story. Remi was asked to participate and it’s by far one of my favorite experiences to date!

Remi’s long-winded note to Santa was too funny not to share:

“Dear Santa,

I got you some cookies and I hope you love them and I hope you enjoy them. Santa, I love you and I hope your reindeer enjoy the carrots. Thank you for the presents. Santa, I’ve been good and some I’ve been bad. And now I’m gonna be nice all day long! We got it all decorated and we’re bout to put up the fire. We got the stockings hanged up for the candy. I’m spending the night with SuSu so you got to come to SuSu’s so I can get my presents. And all I want for Christmas is Joker. I hope Mrs. Claus is going to be great and I hope she takes care of the elves. 

Love, Remi 

(And Ruby Kate too!)” 

I can’t wait to see the faces of these little loves in the morning when they see their gifts! There’s nothing like seeing the magic of Christmas through the eyes of a child. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday Jesus!

and then there were four

Pictures are incredibly important to me. I love capturing all of the little moments that make up our life. With that being said, I find it ironic that we’ve never had professional portraits taken! I knew that when Ruby Kate joined our family I wanted lifestyle family portraits done in our home. I was a bit nervous at the aspect of being in front of the camera {especially three days after giving birth!} but our sweet photographer, Karen, made all of us feel totally comfortable! Remi has been the sweetest big brother and I think it definitely shows in these photos. I had the hardest time choosing my “favorites” to share–they’re all so special to me! I know I will forever treasure these sweet moments of us learning to become a family of four.

RubyKate-2RubyKate-5RubyKate-6RubyKate-10RubyKate-20RubyKate-12RubyKate-23RubyKate-25RubyKate-29RubyKate-31RubyKate-35RubyKate-37RubyKate-39RubyKate-41RubyKate-45RubyKate-50RubyKate-52RubyKate-59RubyKate-60RubyKate-68RubyKate-72RubyKate-79RubyKate-80RubyKate-85

Ruby Kate’s Bright + Fun Nursery

It’s unreal to me that our sweet girl will be here so soon! I feel like the months leading up to her arrival have flown by and now we wait! Poor Ruby is definitely a second child–I didn’t get started on her nursery until my third trimester. I had a few ideas in my head of what I wanted (brights + neutrals) and absolutely no motivation to make it happen! I think the most overwhelming part of working on the room was the removal of the wallpaper and border and repairing the sheetrock + texturizing the wall before painting. Ok, that and cleaning out all of the junk that lived in there! I can’t help but smile and feel a little surge of pride when I walk in her room now. You’ll understand why when you see the mortifying before picture!! I’ll try to post source info for everything in the room but many of the items were things that I made or previously owned and upcycled. I’m still not done with the room and would love to take better pictures when I get around to finishing (is there such a thing?) but my time with Mom’s camera was limited so night time flash pictures are all I have. Of course, I received the changing pad cover after I snapped these pictures and returned the camera to my mom so a few are taken with my phone. I can’t wait until Miss Ruby Kate is here and I hope she loves growing up in this room that I had so much fun creating!

 

 

Photo Feb 19, 7 13 00 PM

BEFORE {cringe! makeup, craft supplies, leftover Christmas decor..this room was a catch-all!}

 

room1

room4

room5

crib: Ikea // crib sheet: Candy Kirby Designs // tassel garland: Studio Mucci // orange swaddle blanket: Stitched Baby // mermaid doll: Sophie and Lili // flamingo: “vintage” Beanie Baby // paint color: Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray // rug: Homegoods // dresser color: Sherwin Williams Zany Pink

room2

room9

room3

dresser: Craigslist upcycle // rocking chair: already had // sun pillow: Ikea // orange quatrefoil blanket: Tuesday Morning // pink color block pillow: already had // acrylic book shelves: Clear Solutions Displays // curtains: Target // curtain rod: DIY

room7

room8

room6

pineapple2

pineapple

lime green framed art: DIY // round cork: Michaels // print on cork: Pen + Paint // oval frame: Michaels // yarn tassel: DIY // zebra plaque: DIY // white frame: Walmart // all framed art prints: Me & My Big Ideas via Hobby Lobby // lamp: already owned // lamp shade: Walmart // never grow up banner: DIY // changing pad cover: Little Woolf

 

Other special details:

 

The hardware on the dresser/changing table was handmade by yours truly out of copper following a tutorial from Upcycled Treasures. I discovered the copper + pink color combo about a year ago and fell in love. I struggled with finding hardware to fit the holes previously drilled in the drawers and happily stumbled across the DIY copper drawer pull tutorial on Pinterest. I couldn’t be happier with the results and love the dash of modern that the hardware adds to the traditional style dresser.

The hand painted sign contains lyrics from the song “Ruby Baby”. Have a listen here. The song has a lot of sentimental value to me because after we chose our daughter’s name, my aunt told me that my grandfather used to sing it. I never had a chance to meet him–he passed away before I was born, but I’ve always felt a special connection to him. Hearing the song and imagining him singing it when my dad and aunt were younger felt like confirmation that Ruby was the perfect name for our girl. The name Kate was chosen in memory of my late aunt, Debie Kate. I love that Ruby Kate’s name holds so much meaning–at least to my super sentimental heart!

Just for grins, I’ll post a before picture of the lime green frame art and the dresser. They both endured quite a makeover!

frame

found at a thrift store and painted right over it

craigslistdresser

this is the picture from the Craigslist ad

 

I’m proud to say that most of the room projects were completed by me. Special thanks to my sweet, handyman step dad for all of the help and for letting me borrow (and teaching me to use) his tools! There’s something so gratifying about getting your hands dirty and making things happen–maybe even more so at 30+ weeks pregnant! Working on this room gave me the confidence to just “go for it.” I’m usually one to make safe decisions when it comes to design. I’m always a little bit terrified to do something funky or different for fear that it might not look good. I’ve learned a lot about just doing what you love and not worrying about matching or making sense. In fact, I’ve already changed several things around since I took these pictures and I’m sure it won’t be the last time! I’m so happy to be mostly done with the nursery and I’ll be propping my feet up until Ruby Kate arrives!

 

 

we “mish” you a merry Christmas

This Christmas season has been lots of fun so far! My favorite part has been hearing Remi sing various Christmas songs in his own Remi-remixed way. He can often be heard singing “and heaven and nature sing!” over and over. My personal favorites are “we ‘mish’ you a Merry Christmas” and “deck the halls with diamonds!” I’m all for that one, kiddo! Bring on the diamonds! :) I don’t even try to correct him because it’s too sweet and he changes the lyrics daily! I know he will be a big boy before I can blink and I will miss the cute things he said like “Santa can’t forget his britches! He might catch the achoo-ies!”

A few weeks ago, Remi baked cookies with Santa. He was so excited over the whole thing and has asked every morning since if it’s Christmas yet. Believe it or not, this was Remi’s first official photo shoot where a real photographer was behind the camera. I was nervous about how he would react to everything, but it was such a great experience! We loved Kelli from Alamond Photography and Santa was the best! He and Remi had so much fun with each other and I had fun watching them laugh and visit. Perfectly magical moment that yielded the sweetest pictures and memories!

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Images by Alamond Photography

holiday gift guide for the littles

kids gift guide

This is the first Christmas that I’ve let myself venture into gifts for boys AND girls. We will be welcoming our baby girl in May and I cannot be more excited! These gifts are a mix of fun little toys and accessories that we already have in our home or would love to own!

1 / Tangle Teezer – this is an absolute must have for any home! Kids love it for the fun, easy to hold shape. It comes in a wide variety of colors and is THE most gentle tangle tamer ever. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve used it for myself on multiple occasions!

2 / Sophie and Lili Doll – Since I discovered Sophie and Lili dolls, I haven’t stopped dreaming about the day I could buy one of these dollies for a girl of my own. It hardly seems real that now I can!

3 / Boco Baby Knotted Headband – Again. Is this real life?! I’m so ready to order my girl one of these. Every little girl needs a custom name headband! There are so many cute styles to choose from and coordinating outfits as well!

4 / Cat Nap Eye Mask – Will you please forgive me that this guide is slightly girl gift heavy? Oh, thanks! How stinking cute are these sleep masks? I really want one for myself. Got that, Santa?

5 / B. Parum Pum Pum Drum – Remi received this drum set as a gift several Christmases ago. He still  plays with it often. It contains all kinds of shakers and noise makers for your little drummer boy or girl. This really is a great universal gift for babies just starting to grasp toys and bigger kids as well. I also love that the drum serves double duty to store the other pieces!

6 / Lincoln Logs – Is there a more classic childhood toy than Lincoln Logs? I loved building entire farms with my Lincoln Logs when I was little and Remi enjoys playing with them too!

7 / Lush FUN – This is by far our most favorite bath soap. It’s like playing with Play-doh in the bath tub. It creates nice suds, really cleans hair and body, and smells ahhh-maze-ing! We have the limited edition gold FUN and can’t wait to try more “flavors!”