Thursday, August 18, 2011


We have been anticipating the start of kindergarten for what feels like forever.  Academically, Brennan has been ready for a long time.  Socially, it's right where he should be.

B has been excited about starting at the big school for almost a year, I think.  He is excited that in kindergarten he gets to play on the computer more, he can drink chocolate milk during the day (usually a special dinnertime treat), and he will go on fun field trips.  He has shown no reservations about having a new school.

Last week Brennan had his kindergarten screening.  Our school district does what I call a "slow start."  The kindergarteners get screened one at a time over the course of a few days while the "big kids" (first grade and up) begin regular school.  Brennan's scheduled screening time was last Thursday at 9:30 AM.  I have been preparing him for it for probably six months.  I have told him that he will get asked lots of questions, and the purpose is to find out what he knows so they can find just the right teacher for him.  I told him that if he knows an answer to something he should answer confidently, and if he doesn't, it's okay because they will know what he teacher needs to teach him.  I thought that all of this preparation would be enough.

What I didn't properly prepare Brennan for was the fact that he would have to go answer the questions by himself and that I couldn't go with him.  When the teacher came to get him (forty-five minutes late, so he was very engrossed in play), he freaked out.  He clung to me, crying, and the lady had to pry him off of me.  I basically had to leave the room and walk down the hall so he was left with no choice but to follow the teacher.  It was heart wrenching.

From what I was told, Brennan calmed down and successfully completed his screening, so that is good. However, it left me wondering how he would do on the first day of school.  Would he pull a similar stunt, or would he take to kindergarten like a fish to water, the way I had expected him to all along?

As part of the "slow start" in our district, the kids go in batches for a half day (one batch goes half day on Tuesday, and the other goes for a half day on Wednesday), and then they stay with those same batches of kids to each do a full day on either Thursday or Friday.  Brennan's half day was Wednesday, and his full day is tomorrow.

We walked up to the school yesterday morning, and I wondered which one of us would cry first: Brennan or me.  As it happened, neither one of us did!  He was excited and happy and got to work right away making his fruit loop necklace.  His teacher welcomed him by name before I could even introduce them, and she made him feel like the only child in the room.  When Cora wanted a fruit loop to eat and Brennan told me I needed to ask for permission before taking one, his teacher said, "Brennan, I love you already!"  :-)

As I said, tomorrow is the first full day with a few of his classmates, but Monday is the official first day of school for all kindergarteners in our county.  There will be twenty-one children and their parents all gathered in Brennan's classroom taking pictures and saying goodbye.  It won't be as overwhelming to the kids because they will be in familiar territory with some familiar classmates, but I have to wonder how I will do.  The first day of kindergarten is a much bigger deal than I ever could have imagined.

I am officially now the parent of a school-aged child!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Living Room Reveal

So, a long time ago, I wrote about helping my friend Hope with her living room.  She was eager to make the room reflect her personality better, and she really wanted a space that felt breezier, fresher, and more inviting.  It whole thing was a process instead of an overnight venture because Hope, like most of us, had a budget and a hectic life.  Well, this morning, she sent me pictures of the room how it looks today, and I thought I would share.

First, just as a reminder, this is the photo Hope ripped out of a magazine as her inspiration.  She loved the green, blue, and yellow all together, the pictures over the couch, and the farm-fresh feel.

White slipcovers were not an option with four little boys, but we did manage to capture a more casual feel in Hope's house.

Here is the fireplace before...

and after:

Before, the dark colors competed with the yellow walls, and the blue curtains seemed out of place:

... but now everything works so harmoniously:



Check out that gorgeous photo gallery wall!!

Isn't it fantastic?  I think we're going to move the photos down a little bit and leave room for a gallery light above them, which would just be the icing on the already-delicious cake.  

The tan love seat you see in the foreground is an awesome story.  Hope had these two dark chairs that are not that old, but the filler was falling out of them.  She called Macy's to ask if there was anything they could do, and they promised to send new cushions free of charge.  That was good because they were expensive chairs, but the bad part is that the chairs did not at all fit the design of the room, and we couldn't figure out how to make them work.  

At least with new cushions, Hope could justify the cost of slipcovering them, which she was considering.  However, that was still going to be costly, so we were sort of ignoring them for the time being.

Then, a few weeks later, Macy's called her out of the blue and told her that they no longer made the correct inserts for that chair, so they were just going to give her a store credit to use instead.  Enter the new loveseat!

We were limited by the amount of money Macy's offered and the selection they had, so we chose this very neutral piece that had the same shape to it as her existing couch.  It clearly doesn't "match" the room, but it blends in beautifully.  Now I just need to look for perfect pillows to tie the loveseat to the other furniture!

Besides the obvious couch and picture frames for the gallery wall, the other new big piece was the fantastic rug.  I was ecstatic when I found it.  It ties the blue, yellow, and green together perfectly and brings the whole room together.  Plus, it is soft and able to be vacuumed.

The other changes included new throw pillows, new, inexpensive lamps, and a few white accessories (including several picture frames that got a facelift with spray paint).  

All in all, I'd say that Hope's version of country chic came together perfectly for this beautiful family of six.  What a joy it was to help someone else fulfill a vision and feel more in tune with her surroundings. I know I, for one, will smile every time I sit in that room enjoying a cup of coffee.  Love you, Hope!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cora's Big Weekend

The last three days have been big for Cora.  On Saturday morning she went to her buddy Dylan's birthday party.  It was her second ever birthday party, and she just loved it.  For two days after the party, she recounted details to anyone who would listen: "Cake!  Trains!  Dylan!  Happy birthday to you! Pretty!  Garden!  Water!  Fun!"

The party was at Cheekwood Garden, which is an absolutely beautiful area in northwest Nashville.  There was a train exhibit that the kids were able to enjoy, and after a little time wandering and running around, the kids had cake, which was Cora's favorite part.

Her other favorite part was probably playing with her buddy, Joshua.  She is absolutely crazy about him, and I'd say it's mutual.

On Saturday evening, Cora went to her first ever ball game.  We went to a Nashville Sounds game, and we made it halfway through the game without having to head home, which I would say is pretty successful with two small children.

While Cora cheered for the team, Brennan and his buddy Mason were only interested in being crazy together.

The biggest deal for Cora came on Monday morning.  It was her first day of Mother's Day Out!! Truthfully, I don't know who it was a bigger day for, Cora or Mommy.  But both of us did really well.

It seems like Cora has grown up overnight.  Sometimes I just want to freeze time.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lakeview at Fontana

Jim and I just got back from a glorious weekend in the North Carolina Smokies.  I am refreshed and recharged, and I only wish I could have stayed longer!  I really think I'd like to go back with some girlfriends for some R & R sometime. (Any takers?)

The place to which we escaped is a little place called Lakeview at Fontana that was featured as a Living Social Getaway.  It is described as "rustic chic" which is a perfect explanation.  Think of it as camping for the person who hates camping.

We didn't get a suite, but I would definitely spring for one next time.  Our queen room was just big enough for a queen-sized bed and there wasn't much counter space or anyplace to sit down and relax comfortably.  It was also super old.  It was only a place where we slept and showered, and it was not a room we would hang out in, strictly because of space.  However, it was clean, the bed was comfortable, and the shower was hot, it did have a little charm, and it didn't really matter to me that I couldn't hang out in it because this is what awaited us outside our door:

Each morning I spent hours with my reading material, my own pot of french press coffee, and a stunning view.  The first morning I sat out there for about three hours by myself while Jim slept in.  It was glorious.

The second morning I only had about an hour and a half out there because we had to go get our hot stone massages.  Did I mention this place has a spa?  :-)

Each morning there was a delicious European-style breakfast, and it was hard not to go back for second (or third) cream puffs.

I couldn't bring myself to stay indoors for breakfast, but had it been raining, the cafe would have beckoned me.  It was soooo charming.

On Saturday, when I finally decided to pull myself away from the deck, we decided to go into Bryson City to pick up some sandwiches for a hike.  We headed to a nearby area popular for tubing and hiking.  We saw a few beautiful waterfalls...

... and we persevered past the masses of people walking with giant tubes to an area that was restricted to tubers.  From that point on, we didn't see another soul for hours.  We found this charming little area where we enjoyed our sandwiches...

... and then we felt a few drops of rain.  We decided to take a different way back to our car, which was not the wisest decision.  It was a straight uphill mountain hike on narrow, switchback trails, and it started to pour.  We were in the middle of nowhere in a rainstorm, miles from our car, I was getting blisters on my ankles, and I was dizzy from the twists and turns and having to focus on my feet.  At one point I just stood still in the rain and said to Jim, "What in the heck are we doing?!?!"  We both just laughed.  It was refreshing, ridiculous, and a little romantic.

When we got back to the resort, we were filthy, wring-out-your-clothes wet, and my ankles were really ripped up.  But I was thankful for an awesome memory.  We got cleaned up and went to an awesome coffee shop / wine cafe in Bryson City for crepes and wi-fi (we didn't have internet, a television, and I had no cell phone signal while we were there!).  We did a little window shopping, stopped and got ice cream, went back to the resort, and read until we were ready for bed.  It was an awesome day.

This was exactly the kind of weekend we both needed.  We needed to unplug, unwind, and take life slowly.  We needed to be quiet, enjoy simple pleasures, and laugh.  Usually I'm a get-up-and-go kind of vacation girl, and I am not a beach person because I can't stand lying still for so long, but this was our own version of a beach trip.

I'm so thankful to my in-laws for allowing us to have this weekend.  We couldn't have afforded to pay for it all by ourselves, and we needed it.  Plus, my mother-in-law happily watched the kids while we were away, so I was able to rest easy.  That was a huge gift, too.  Thanks, Sharon and Jim!

I have a much healthier view of life right now, and I am excited that one week from today we will know the name of Brennan's kindergarten teacher!

Here's to celebrating eleven wonderful years of marriage!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I've Been a Bum(mer)

I haven't been much of a blogger lately.  I could say that I've been too busy, but that would be a lie.  I've just been unmotivated.  I don't know how to do light-hearted, silly posts when my heart is heavy, and I'm tired of focusing on difficult things, so I have just avoided writing altogether.

It is hard to explain why I've been so down.  Life has just been hard.  Our medical bills have been causing a lot of stress, several friends near and far have been through huge, life-altering things lately (major surgery, a nearly fatal car accident, cross-country moves, marital problems, grief, and fertility issues), and the summer heat (and humidity) is oppressive and feels endless.

Yesterday I headed to the dentist for my cleaning, and I was sick with dread.  I have noticed for the last two weeks that one of my teeth is looking funny and appears to have something terribly wrong with it.  I was just sure the dentist was going to have really bad news.  I kept thinking about thousands of dollars in dental work and how we just don't have it right now.  I kept picturing an ugly smile and how self-conscious that would make me.  I sat in my car before the appointment and prayed to / pleaded with God to spare us one more thing right now.  At the end of the appointment, when the dentist told me that everything was fine and was nothing to worry about, I actually started to cry.  It hadn't seemed possible at the start of the appointment that everything would be okay.  But God can do anything, and He did.

That dentist appointment somehow felt like a turning point for me.  It was the first good news I've had in a while.  It was like a huge ray of sunshine in the middle of storms.  God is working on my behalf, and He chose to show me when I needed it most.  This is a difficult season, but it will end at some point.

We are entering a new season, and I'm ready.  Right now everything is in limbo, and I am ready to stop worrying about change and get started.  I'm ready for cooler weather, a routine, and a new normal.  Let's get this party started.
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