My No-New-Year's-Resolution-Resolution.

It's only appropriate that I reflect on the past year, right? And think about all the wonderful things I plan on doing in the coming year, right? Because you know I have a list going in my head. Exercise more. Or at least exercise, ahem. Eat better. Or at least don't eat two desserts a day, just one. Stay on budget. Or at least don't hit up Goodwill more than once a week. Spend less time on the computer. Or at least spend a shorter amount of time wasting my precious me time searching design blogs [Although it's really not wasting now, is it? I am being inspired, and that's what matters, right?] Do more cooking. Or at least try a new meal recipe once a week.

And the list could go on an on. But, when it comes down to it. I won't keep to it. Let's just be honest. January and February may be fabulous in keeping to my goals. Then March hits and I will still be depressed because of the cold weather that should be spring and I will go back to my old ways.

But there is one thing that I plan on doing and can do. All year. I'm not even going to call it my New Year's resolution. Because it shouldn't be. It should begin today. Right now.

I want to love deeper.

It's funny how when you get older and you realize how important relationships are. [Oh, and trust me, I feel old today. My 14 year old sister insisted that I do not take her into the bowling alley today. You can just drop me off. You don't have to go in. Really. You can stay in the car. Then when I walked inside with her anyway, she kept asking me to leave. Whatever happened to me being the cool, older sister? Now I have the role of the embarrassing mom. I even wore my hip fur vest and bangs today. Oh wait, maybe that's what embarrassed her. Oops.]

So here's to loving deeper and building better relationships. Forgiving. Trusting. Asking for forgiveness. Talking. Listening. Hugging. Loving. To my family, my friends, and even the stranger on the street.



We woke up in our new-old home. It was perfect. There weren't a whole lot of presents under the tree. In fact, Audrey only opened one from us. She opened pretend food to go with a wooden kitchen set we got her. I had been storing this kitchen set since July. I bought it on craigslist for a really good deal. I can't wait to watch Audrey's imagination grow while playing with it.

We then headed to my dad's house to spend time with the family since my brother just returned. It was our typical family gathering. Food. Laughter. And lots of noise. That's what you get when you are from a family of six kids that just keeps getting bigger with babies and spouses. At this point my dad has 12 sets of pajamas to buy (our Christmas Eve tradition), 12 stockings to fill (I still get a filled stocking, which is quite exciting and totally brings out the kid in me), and numerous gifts to wrap. I have always been so impressed that he does it all since my mom passed almost 4 years ago.

Today I did a lot of the baking, cooking, and cleaning. But while doing it I just felt so blessed. I felt blessed that I was in a warm home with home-cooked food. I had brothers and sisters loving on Audrey. A dad with a great sense of humor and a heart for others. A place to relax and play games. I could grab a glass of wine or a cup of coffee or some eggnog or just a classic Coke. Can you say, blessed, because I most certainly am. Now, we may not have an abundant bank account or the fanciest car. But I have way more than I ever deserve. Of course, my most prized possession, which is priceless, is my darling Audrey Rose.

Audrey enjoyed Christmas dinner. She doesn't really let me feed her much anymore, she has to be holding a spoon. Don't let the picture fool you, half the time her spoon is upside down and the food is everywhere. Oh, and yes, she is sporting a lovely dish towel as a bib because her always organized and prepared mama forgot a bib.
I hope you all had a blessed Christmas Day.


Born in a stable. Kind of crazy and amazing.

Tomorrow we will be celebrating Jesus' birth and remembering the gift He gave us. It's truly amazing if you really think about it.

Merry Christmas my blogging friends!


He's Baaaaaaack.

It has been a year, with a short break in between. He has been protecting our country. Helping the Iraqi people. He has missed Valentine's Day, Easter, Father and Mother's Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving.

BUT he will be here for Christmas. He arrived yesterday morning at 5:30. We waited for him with much anticipation. It didn't matter that we had to get up at 1:30am and wait and wait and wait. It didn't matter that we only saw him for one hour before he had to leave to debrief before coming home on Christmas Eve. It didn't matter because he is safe and home for good now.

Thank you, Specialist Merriman, for your service. We are so happy you are home.

We made some rad signs for Caleb. Here is my sister holding hers. And in case she looks famous to you, she is. She was on Channel 8 News along with me, my other sister, and my brother. THANK GOODNESS they only got the back of me. Because let me tell you, 5:00 in the morning is not my best hour.
I felt kind of special because I got to hold a flag while the soldiers entered. The downfall of volunteering to do it? I stood there and held it for two hours. And now I have this awesome back pain today from it.
Gramps and Jonathan.

All of the AMAZING, DEDICATED Soldiers arriving TOGETHER (they made a choice to enter together, even though some arrived on a plane earlier). You could feel the love in the air.

This was quite the moment, when my dad got to see him and touch him and hug him. It was emotional to say the least.

Seeing his nephew for the first time in a long time. Caleb's face was priceless when he first saw him. (He hasn't seen Audrey yet, she stayed home and slept since she was sick.)

It is amazing to think that my brother is just one of the many, many stories out there. I saw soldiers who met their baby for the very first time. I saw soldiers that greeted their very pregnant wives. I saw sons being greeted by their grandmas. I saw dads being hug by their three kids.

I felt a lot of love in that place. And I am so thankful they are all home safe.


It doesn't have to be perfect.

It's a Monday and it definitely feels that way. It's cold and overcast outside. Audrey is going on day five of being sick. And we have plans to do absolutely nothing today.

But I am so thankful I can be home with her and stay in our pajamas all day if we want. (And that is pretty much what we are going to do.)

We were suppose to be seeing my brother return from Iraq at 10:30 this morning. Unfortunately he has had plane delays and won't return till tomorrow morning at 6am. So we get to get up super duper early tomorrow and see him before he goes to debrief for a couple of days.

But I am thankful he will be home with us before Christmas.

We are having Christmas at our home this year. I love hosting things and I volunteered to do it at our new-old home about a month ago in anticipation our kitchen would be finished. It's not finished. We still don't have countertops, a floor, or a kitchen sink.

But I am thankful for our home. And thankful that I have a family to host. This home will be filled with so much love despite it's imperfections.

We still are dealing with our car accident from last week. Andrew is driving around without a side mirror and damage on the car. We were told it can't be fixed till after Christmas.

But I am thankful that we have two working cars. Two. Wow we are so blessed.

This is my life. It isn't perfect. But it is so right and all in His plans.


14 Months.

My sweet Audrey Rose, you are 14 months today. It is sort of hard to believe. You are such a little person. Each day you learn new words. You know, reallly important useful ones like mermaid, donkey, and football. One of your favorite words is baby. If there is a baby (real or fake) around you must touch her. You love to rock, pat, hug, and kiss your baby.

You know what I love most about your love for babies? It tells me you are going to be a wonderful mama one day. [Not too soon of course, I mean, like when you're 30. You are not allowed to grow up really fast like you have been doing. Slow down, would ya?] And it tells me you are going to be a very loving big sister one day. [No, this is not a hint that you are going to be one soon. Just sayin'.]

You received an early Christmas present from you Great-Granny and Popaw the other day. It was a baby, of course. You couldn't wait for me to get her out of the package.
Happy 14 months, my dear Audrey Rose.


If Only I Could Change the Ending.

It wasn't our typical Wednesday. That's for sure.

In the evening we met some of Andrew's family up in Indianapolis to go to Christmas at the Zoo and then the Old Spaghetti Factory.

And so it began. We saw wonderful lights. A great dolphin show. Santa. Bears cuddling together. A seal LOVING the cold all spread out on a rock. Sting rays. Sea horses. And even touched sharks.

I really enjoyed wearing Audrey throughout the zoo. The really bonus, she kept me warm!

After a late evening at the Old Spaghetti Factory we headed home. Audrey was immediately asleep in the car. What should have been an easy hour drive, turned into two.

Because this happened.

Dear Hit and Run,

Thank you for spoiling what was a lovely night. Thank you for side swiping us and taking off, leaving us to deal with the problem. Did I mention you hit us with a little 14 month old in the car? I hope your happy. Be glad she stayed asleep the entire time. Thank you for the $500 we now have to pay for our deductible. It was just what we wanted for Christmas.

And that is how our night ended. We were fast asleep in our beds at 12:30am. Now if only I could change that ending.


Afternoon Project.

For some reason I decided to wait till the last minute to find something for Audrey to wear to church for "Christmas Sunday." Stores pretty much seem to be out of all the pretty dresses already, swimsuits are even coming out. Geesh. If I was smart and well-prepared I would have found a great dress online like this one. But since it won't ship in time, I settled for shopping at the mall. (Which I am becoming more and more less fond of doing. Especially with my Etsy addiction). I came up with an okay outfit from Old Navy. But the shirt needed a special something to it. And my new found love? Flowers and ruffles made from lovely material like silk and chaffon.

Here is what I came up with...

This was super easy to do and I LOVE how it turned out. Time to do more fun projects like this.


A pink room. Yup.

You would almost think I made up the whole house remodeling thing, since I haven't posted on it in f.o.r.e.v.e.r. But I didn't. Truuuust me. We are living in our little bungalow now. There isn't a sink, counter tops, dishwasher, or floor in the kitchen. Audrey's door doesn't fit all the way and allows for a 2 foot gap, which results in having to be quiet after 8pm. [Her door doesn't fit because it actually goes on the hallway closest, we just haven't got a door yet for her room.] Trim is lacking in pretty much all rooms (except for existing trim). A light bulb is dangling from our living room and dining room.

On the other hand, we have made TONS of progress. Like a working shower (which I have done dishes in), toilet, and bathroom sink (which I have scrubbed pototoes in). Painting is pretty much done in every room. It is really starting to look like a home. Soon. Very soon. I will be posting pictures of rooms with our stuff in it.

I will at least share a completed room (without stuff in it).
May I introduce you to Audrey's room...
It was no easy task to get to the "after" part. We had to do things like this:
Do you know what they are doing? Scraping plaster off the ceiling. Omgosh. Have you ever done anything like that? Just know, if you saw their face, it would be completely black. NOT. FUN. Once the plaster was scraped then new drywall needed put up. Wait, did I mention there was a drop-ceiling first up? Then the plaster. Oh, and the walls had to be built up to the ceiling, because they were exposed where the drop ceiling was. Awesome, I know. We did everything ourselves (with lots of wonderful friends and family), except install the new beautiful windows. So after the new ceiling, new windows, cleaning poop off the wall (this is not a joke), priming, painting, adding carpet, all new eletrical, new ceiling fan, you get a finished room. And don't forget about this beauty found in Audrey's room.

There you have it folks, one room shared, many more to go. So stay tuned...


Traditions. For Real.

Since I was little I have gone to the same tree farm every year to get our Christmas tree. The minute we turn onto the long driveway and get welcomed by the lady with the flag, wonderful memories start flooding back to me.

And now with my family, I hope to create the same type of feelings and memories.

Last year, Audrey was a mere 6 weeks old when we braved the snow and freezing cold. I didn't step foot outside. Instead Audrey did what she did best, just nursed.
Andrew picked the tree and I agreed from the window. He was so sweet to pose as if we were next to him.
This year we just braved the bitter cold, which was a great incentive to pick a tree really fast.
While you wait for them to shake and wrap your tree, you can hang out in the beautiful log cabin and enjoy free hot chocolate and apple cider right off the wood burning stove and delicious popcorn.This tradition I am definitely passing on.


Dear Santa. A Holiday Shopping Guide.

Still looking for that unique, reasonable priced gift? Avoid the mall and hit up Etsy. But be careful. I'm not claiming it takes less time then going to a mall. Because well, it's addicting. You can find just about everything on Etsy. See, look here.

In case you don't have the time left, I have come up with what I like to think is a list of fabulousness. This would be my Christmas wish list, if I had one. But I don't. So this list is really for YOU.

Linen Tea Towel by Sara Smedley. You just can't have too many dish/hand/tea towels. They work great just to display like art or use them for what they are or place them in a basket and add some other fun things (like antique silverware), or place under a centerpiece. I love that this tea towel is made from natural linen. Oh, and did I mention there is a matching apron? Love.

1980's Chic Secretary Dress by Noble Town Village. Love this dress. Mmmmmmkay. May not be the best gift for just anyone, but it is definitely on my list (which doesn't really exist, remember). And I would pair it with the Daffodil earrings listed below. Thanks. Moving on.

Floral Headband by Knit Berry. I love this creative twist on a headband/hat. And for under $20? Yes, please.

Reusable Produce Bags by Love for Earth. How cool is this idea? A) It makes shopping so much more fun B) It is eco-friendly c) Your refridgerator will look even pretty keeping all your producer fresher. You might be tempted to buy yourself a set and a friend.

Daffodil Dream by MD Sparks. Give a little spring and cheer in this dreary cold weather.

I Will Be Grateful Canvas Print by Vol25. I'm a big fan of decorating with personal pictures or inspirational art. And this piece is definitely inspirational. What a reminder that we could each use every day.
Argyle Labels by Bohtieque. There is nothing like getting a personalized gift. And who doesn't love labels?
Splat Mat by Chalky Doodles. This is perfect for a mom with little ones (or ahem, me). Place this under a high chair or under a table when children are playing with playdough or other messy materials. You don't have to worry about your floors getting ruined.

Wanna know the stores off Etsy that I just personally bought from? I can't reveal what I bought, because some of my lovely readers are my friends which will be receiving the handmade gifts, but you can at least know the store. Check them out here, here, here, and here. [By the way, some of stores profit goes to helping a family with adoption- now how cool is that?]


Put yourself in someone else's shoes.


I scored these super cute vintage shoes at Goodwill the other day for $4. I would have to say, one of my top favorite finds at the thrift store. Now I wonder where these shoes have been before...I like to think they have walked to a broadway show or down an aisle to a daughter's wedding. But for me, my shoe story includes chasing a one year old around. (Believe it or not, they are reallly comfortable. Not the most appropriate for this cold weather, but totally worth wearing anyway.)
I kind of really love shoes and seem to be passing this gene (there has to be shoe gene, right?) on to my daughter.


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Edited to Add: Over at I Should Be Folding Laundry, I came across her Christmas Tour of Home, which brought me to a new blog I just discovered and LOVE, The Nesting Place. The Nester has this grand idea to share your Christmas decorated home with others. Well, since I already shared some of my decorations in a previous post, I am just going to link this post right up.

So, enjoy taking a tour of my new-old 1930's bungalow that we are in the process of still renovating!
I may not have a fully functioning kitchen. Or a door on Audrey's room. Or trim around anything. But I do have up Christmas decorations. A beautiful Christmas tree. And a house full of warmth.

(Ah, yes. Baby's First Christmas picture will be displayed every year.)

(Stockings my best friend and I made, hanging up in my bathroom on an old metal cabinet I found at a local antique store. Did I mention the inner stockings are made from velvet? So divine.)
(Christmas tree sitting above the old metal cabinet- wait till you see the whole bathroom complete!)
(Ignore the unpainted door. It will be painted one day. Any suggestions on color, throw them my way. I was thinking light-minty green? If that even makes sense.)
(The piece above used to have ugly fake fruit on it. I took them off and added the pretty ornaments I scored at Goodwill the other day. The ornaments were also added to the wreath I made hanging on our door.)

(I love the papa, mama, and baby deer hangers.)
If you haven't noticed yet, I love everything vintage. I think people back in the 50's had great taste [and just overall great ways of living. But that is for another post, another day.]. Furniture was made a lot stronger too. But what I really love about vintage finds are the stories behind each piece. Someone used it before I did. What did they do with it? Who opened up that cabinet door? Was it a little girl like Audrey looking for her toys? For some people, it is so not appealing to use something some else once had, but for me, I love to be another story for that special piece.

I hope your homes are looking merry and bright in which ever way you love to decorate.


And this is how I spend my afternoon...

Yesterday was a special day. It wasn't intentional, it just happened. And now that day has it's own place in my heart that gives it an extra beat.

And this is how it was spent...

I went to an afternoon Christmas tea and cookie exchange at my dad's neighbor's house barn. The neighbors I grew up with. The type of neighbors that only seem possible in dreams anymore. The neighbors that have become family. While Audrey (and her cousin Jonathan) roamed around the most beautifully decorated barn and explored, I spent time chatting with women who have really lived.
Audrey was fascinated with all the candles. Fortunately, most were battery-operated.

At each tea kettle (there were at least 5), a story was written about the significance of each one. If you could read the story above it would have said something like this: the tea pot has a rose on it which represents my husband buying a rose for me every Saturday the year we were married in 1946 for .50 a rose. (insert tears here, sweetest story e.v.e.r) After sharing the story with me, my neighbor, jokingly, said I put this up to remind him what he did way back in the day.
A woman of great wisdom and a reflection of Proverbs 31, Irene. I grew up visiting her and watching her hang her clothes out on the line, which she still does, now in her 90's.

This is me and Irene's daugher, Peggy. She and her husband live in a finished barn behind my dad's house. You know, the one with the donkeys. I would listen to donkeys every single day to have a neighbor like her. She is amazing and has a heart of gold. She never could have kids, but we were like children to her. She is truly a mother to so many. I want to spend more time with her and listen to all her great stories of living in Europe while her husband was in the war. She has been to Russia, Israel, Germany, Holland...pretty much everywhere. But her favorite place is at home taking care of her husband, her mother, and many animals. Living the simple life.

Let me just say, um, delish.
Cousins looking for the donkeys and horse out the door. I am so glad I was able to share Audrey with the most beautiful older women both inside and out.

This is what Christmas time is all about. Making memories. Sharing all the joys God has blessed us with.