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I love November. I love the weather, the warmer clothes, the leaves, the anticipation of our yearly trip to Mamaw’s, and I love being reminded everywhere I look to be thankful for all the things we take for granted. Being a blogger (albeit, an inconsistent one), I was eager to join the ranks of all my other blogging, instagramming, pinning, flickring friends and post pictures of my thanksgiving advent tree. Us crafty types take pride in our creative, usually all-natural ways of inspiring our children to act out gratefulness during this season. Verses learned, goodies baked, moments remembered, simple acts of kindness, all done by little angelic faces and hands, make perfect blog fodder in this season of thanksgiving.

I mean really . . . .

      

Melt your heart, right? Moments like this make you say, “ah, that’s why we had kids!”

So naturally, I’ve been attempting to fashion moments where the gratefulness in their little hearts can pour right out.

Well, there isn’t any.

Today was day four and not once have we had an advent tree activity that hasn’t involved, whining, arguing, crying, complaining or pouting. Yesterday’s was so bad, we didn’t do it. We were supposed to do something nice for daddy to show how thankful we are for him. We couldn’t settle on something and we didn’t have a TON of time, so I suggested we drag the trash can back up from the curb for him because he always does that. It’s a tiny little thing, but when he sees it done, he’ll feel special, etc. Nothing doing. They weren’t going to buy it and thought that it was a “lame,” “not very good,” “how the heck is that thankful?” idea. How the heck indeed. After many long, exasperated moments, I guilted them into doing it, but every inch of the way was riddled with complaints and grunts and groans of difficulty and dissent. It didn’t end well. I sort of got mad and told them to forget it and get in the house while I not so patiently dragged the trash can up the drive, stormed into the house and declared that clearly no one was really thankful for daddy and some other guilt inducing, law infused, grace bereft remarks that ended with everyone in a crying heap.

SIGH.

Maybe my advent tree is broken.

Honestly, ever since I read Ann’s book last year, I’ve seen so much more clearly the lack of thankfulness in my home both in myself and in my children. I did my 1000 gifts and went through this really great season of genuine gratitude, but once the rush of all that died down, it’s been so hard to get that momentum back. There’s ungratefulness everywhere and I know that I can only teach it to my children by demonstrating it in my own life, but it seems the harder I try to do it, the more I fail at it. It’s so discouraging to be trying to teach thankfulness and end up angry (clearly, unthankful myself). How confusing it must be for them to see me flounder so much in this area. I don’t know how to get out of it. I can’t just generate thankfulness in this broken heart.

On a lighter note, I really am thankful in this moment that the Thanksgiving advent tree is still standing (even though Gillian suggested tossing it out the window). Tomorrow’s another day.

 

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. . . we were younger, thinner, had way more energy, and I can’t even go into how our hair has changed. We wandered around the then Reedy River Park with our friend Chris and took a few photos to commemorate our engagement. Fast forward ten years, three kids, the house, the job, the mini-van, yaddy yadda, and we found ourselves once again in the same (barely) park, commemorating our togetherness. It was such an interesting project, trying to recreate the energy (did I mention that we had more energy back then? Sheesh!), the DRAMA, the anticipation, the “oh, don’t you wish you had a love like us”-ness of our engagement. I look at those two crazy in love kids and think about all the things they’ve got ahead. So many memories I’d love to re-live, and so many I wish they never had to go through. I think back on choices, think back on places and people that will cross those paths. I get a little melancholy.

          

I’m a nostalgic person by nature, dwelling more on the past, painting it up all nice and then looking at the future with a weird combo of idealism and fear, often having to remind myself that this moment is what is important. Living in the moment isn’t my strong suit. When I first saw these comparisons, I have to admit that I struggled a little. It’s easy to see what’s lost (or gained I might say in both our cases!) It’s easy to long for certain parts of the past that we’ll never have again. Do any of you get all mopey sentimental like that? That also happens when I go on a college campus. I get all reminiscent about my younger days as if they were so great. Why do that? Where’s my living in the moment?

          

 

SIGH.

 

Then I saw the “out takes,” the shots taken when weren’t trying to be melodramatic, desperate-in-love twenty year olds again (which, I must add for the sake of my younger friends, there’s not a thing in the world wrong with being melodramatic, desperate in love and twenty all at the same time, so you go right on with your far off looks, retro filtered photos and vintage threads. I am with you!)

Anyway, it’s in the “oops! I wasn’t ready!” shots that I see it.

          

 

There’s my moment.

 

There’s my right now.

There’s my breath catching, tearing up “wow, honey, can you believe all that God has brought us through and yet here we are with our arms around each other in this old park, still working through each day together? Isn’t God amazingly kind to us?”

What a happy anniversary it turned out to be! 

Oh, I guess I already posted this one. Well, we weren’t pretending in this one!

 

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That’s me. Seriously. The worst.  My son is at that stage where kids are losing teeth right and left. Blood stains all over the house, his face looks different every time you see him and there never seem to be enough dollar bills at my disposal. Half the time I forget there’s even a tooth waiting for me under the pillow, so the next morning he comes out with this sad little face and a pitiful lonely tooth in his hand rather than the dollar he was expecting (and what’s up with that!? I got a quarter! Stinking inflation!)

The first time I forgot about his tooth I completely screwed myself too because I told him that the tooth fairy was just on vacation and it was okay because you get double when she doesn’t show up. I said this of course assuming that I would get my act together and remember from now own. He has now gotten paid double for four teeth and has more spending money than I do!

The other day he yanked one out at church (not at all distracting the people sitting behind us). Somewhere between there and home he lost it. I told him it was tough luck and that the tooth fairy had to have something substantial to trade. He put this note under his pillow that says,

Dear Tooth Fairy

I lost my tooth at church. I hope you can still give me a little treat.

Love, Liam

How sweet is that?! How could I say no to that?! So I made a deal with him. I told him the tooth fairy could give half in exchange for the note. He gladly accepted, telling me that since the tooth fairy was two days late he would get half times three, giving him $1.50 for his note. I feel so swindled.

He knows it’s me too. He doesn’t believe at all that there’s a fairy who comes at night and swaps out his nasty old tooth for cash. He just blandly goes along with it, humoring me in this condescending way that only a seven–almost eight–year-old can have. I know this because he’ll say something like, “hey mom, you forgot again–oh, I mean, the tooth fairy forgot again. Too bad for her she has to pay double!” What was I thinking!? I wasn’t thinking–I was surviving, and sometimes the survival instinct misses the little details that get you in the end.

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Well I “finished” this project a couple of months ago, but I  put off this post because there were a few tiny details I wanted to get to first. What do you know, but life just keeps happening on me and I’m not getting to them, so I’m just gonna post what I’ve got and have to be happy with it.

Liam came up with the color scheme for the most part. He loves Clemson and sort of wanted that, but I didn’t want to do a sports room, so I told him he could have the orange and we would pick another color to go with it. This blue is what he chose. He picked out the curtains too. My always handy, ever so talented brother in law built the bed/cave. He and Andy laid down the new floors (LOVING my new floors! So THANKFUL for my new floors!!!). I’d like to make the boys a rug like Gilly’s if I can find the material and want to get a couple of orange bean bags for the cave. There are plans for monkey bars under the bed at some point and more painting to be done on the walls of the cave hopefully.

Right now I’m having a love/hate relationship with the room because every time I go in there I have to clean guinea pig mess off of the floor. Apparently well adjusted guinea pigs do this hopping thing called “popcorning,” which means they’re happy, sending hay and bedding and poo all over the place. I’m glad they’re happy, really I am, but I wish they’d keep their happiness in the stinking cage. (I think I just hijacked my own post. sorry.)

Picture time!

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Mom, I Want A Dog

Over and over. The begging, the hinting, the bargaining, the reasoning. Not gonna happen. I’m not a dog person. I like dogs. I love to pet them and cuddle them. I like it when they lick my hand. I’m fond of the wagging tail, but that’s about it. It’s not even that I so much dislike all the other things about dogs, it’s just that the like isn’t strong enough to make up for all the extra work having a dog would create for me. So, sorry pups, no dog.

We’d get a cat if we could. We LOVE cats. Andy and Liam are allergic to cats. Boo.

So a few weeks ago on a hike, the boys caught a bunch of frogs. Liam staked a claim on one of them but I wouldn’t let him bring it home because we had nothing to put it in. Thus we found ourselves at PetSmart looking for amphibian habitats. I still wasn’t liking the idea of a pet, but Ando didn’t want me to just get them a little vented plastic box wherein the frog would probably die after about a week. Long story short, we didn’t come out of PetSmart with an amphibian habitat, or an amphibian at all. Instead, we came home with this:

 

     and this    

This is Alice.                                                                   This is Ariel.

                       

It only took a week for me to regret it. At least they aren’t asking me for a dog anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

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Finally finished! Whew! I feel like I’ve been off the grid for weeks working on this stuff. We’re 3/4 through the projects, taking a small break before finishing up with the boys’ room. I’ll post more pics of that when finished. for now, here are a few shots of  Gill’s room and I’ll do some floor shots soon too. I should also put up some night shots so you can see how soft and lovely the branches and white lights look in the dark. It’s a yummy space! Hopefully these will excuse my long absence. They aren’t really in any sort of order and I don’t think there’s much in the way of explanation needed. A few things were Pinterest inspired, of course, some my own ideas. I’m really pleased with the results and thankful that Gillian is too. She’s not always an easy one to please, so I’m glad she likes it. I think I might like it even more than her though. I like to just go and sit in there and pretend I’m a little girl again.

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Projects

There’s just not space in my mind or on the clock to blog right now. For the past few weeks my free hours have been consumed with building budgets, scoping pinterest, pricing materials, picking fabrics and brainstorming accessories. The bedroom and playroom are about to be transformed into individual rooms for Gillian and the boys. The nasty mcnasterson carpets that have been plaguing my domestic senses and challenging my contentment for the past five years is coming up and the hardwoods are going down! The first two coats of paint have been applied! Yay! All this happening at once though is causing loads of chaos, not to mention keeping me from being able to even think up a blog post much less write one. If something comes to mind, I’ll try to get it up here, but more likely than not, I won’t be back again until the projects are complete and I have TONS of pictures to show. I miss writing though. Who knows, maybe saying I’ll be gone will inspire all sorts of writings. Isn’t that how it often works?

Anyway, off I go. Busy, busy, but REALLY grateful. The provision of all these materials is an awesome blessing. Can’t wait to show you when it’s done!

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