Opening up the Kitchen

There’s a lot to do at Amherst, which I love. A project house is my kind of jam! :) We’ve been working on a few things in the kitchen, namely removing some upper cabinets to open things up in there. The kitchen and the dining room are basically one big room, with the galley kitchen on the left, and the dining area on the right. (That far right wall is the awesome brick wall) The kitchen has some fancy nineties linoleum, and the dining area has my very favorite – carpet! So at some point we will be ripping all of that out and replacing it with something a lot more durable and kid friendly. The carpet is a really nice quality, and is throughout much of the upstairs, so it will stay for the time being everywhere except for the dining area. I’m done with cleaning up little kid messes out of carpet.

Anyways, let me show you a floor plan, so you know where I am talking about. This is NOT 100% accurate, or even 90% I’d say. But it gives you a general idea of what I am talking about.

main floor floorplan

Okay, so the dining area is directly in front of you when you walk up the stairs coming into the house. Brick wall on the right, that door leads out to the back yard. Make sure to take note of the lovely dust filled curtains, the decals on the windows, and the rocking macrame plant holder. (sans plant)

If you spin around and stand at the back door, this is what you see. That blank wall is the back of the coat closet, and you can juuust see the pantry. On the far right of the picture you can see the decorative panel on the back of the upper cabinets, which we will be talking about in a moment.

So. If you look at the floor plan again, that “wall” between the kitchen and the dining area is just cabinets. It’s all one open space, but the stove and lower cabinets form the bottom of the wall dividing the two spaces, and the upper cabinets along with the soffit further enhanced that feeling of it being two separate rooms, with the kitchen feeling really small and a little claustrophobic.

See how you could see through, but it was low and all in your face? If you wanted to talk to the person in the kitchen you had to crouch down and talk through that opening. Not the end of the world, but also not the open feeling that we wanted. We knew that taking those cabinets and soffit out would change the room entirely.

So we started by removing the decorative panel on the back of the cabinets. Let me interject here that the previous owner did some beautiful woodworking, and made all these cabinets and panels himself. They’re really well made and in great shape, so we were very careful removing them as I think we will put them to good use elsewhere. The back panel was decorative and just nailed into place, so Lover was able to remove it without too much trouble. It was heavy though!

Then he disconnected the power to the vent hood, (obviously after turning off the power and taking all necessary safety measures) and removed the hood. Once that was safely out, we set about removing the cabinets, one by one. Each of the three were screwed to each other and then up into the supports above, so we just unscrewed them one by one. Lover would get them mostly free, and then I would remove the last couple of screws while he held up the weight of the cabinet. We may or may not have figured out this system after dropping the first cabinet on the counter. Luckily laminate is durable. :) They are all now sitting pretty in the garage.

This picture is terrible and blurry, but see how immediately things were feeling lighter? A few days later when we got the itch again, Lover removed the soffit above. This was more of a task, and I did not help at all. I just sat at the table and kept him company. The demo was pretty straight forward, with the exception of some long bolts that anchored everything into the ceiling. Those took some work to remove. But, in the end Lover was victorious and the soffit was no more.

Once those cabinets were out I was dying to paint everything to freshen up the room even more. We prepped the room one evening, and then the next day I fit in the painting between naps and TV shows and whatever other time I could steal away. It needs touch up in a few spots, but it looks so much nicer now!

And here’s the new and improved kitchen. Ahhhhh. Space, light and openness. It’s my jam, I tell ya.

From the other direction, it’s even more dramatic. This picture was taken standing right next to the fridge.

Now the entire dining area is a part of the kitchen too. That brick wall gets to be the star of the dining area and the kitchen, and it’s so much nicer to work on what is now a peninsula, instead of the lower half of a hulking wall.

It’s better, right? Yes, we lost some storage, but we’re planning on addressing that by adding shelves on the wall between the window and the back door, and possibly a hutch in the dining area. We’re still figuring out what we need and what should go where. Also, in this picture you can see that we are still working on patching up the ceiling, and replacing that light. Turns out when they installed the soffit they used a very high tech method of finding the studs in the ceiling, which involved smashing a hammer through the drywall in about a dozen places. #facepalm So we are working on patching those up relatively well, and then the entire ceiling needs a fresh coat of paint. And we need to figure out the lighting up there. But – it looks so much better, functions better, and I love it.

Also, I need to talk for a minute about the wall color. We agreed that since all of the walls in the house need a fresh coat of paint, we would just find a nice, neutral color that worked with everything, and start with that. Later on, as we figure out what direction we want the rooms to go, we might repaint certain rooms, but this way everything gets freshly updated. I brought home a million light gray swatches, some tans and some light blues, and then a miracle happened. In five seconds flat, we both agreed on a color, and said color worked in every room of the house. Miracles, they still happen people. :) The gray we went with is suuuper light and has great undertones, and works with all the different bricks, and so far has looked nice in every room we’ve painted. (The master, the kids’ room and now the kitchen.) I love it. It’s called Saltaire by Ralph Lauren, and we had it matched to Glidden paint.

Anyways, so that’s what we’ve been working on. Next on my radar may possibly be this light. Weird seventies light, you have been warned.


Posted in 2015, amherst | Leave a comment

The House God Gave Us

We have a house. We have a house! Hurray! We’ve owned our house for exactly twenty days and it still feels unreal. After my last post about our house hunting adventures, we switched realtors yet again, saw over fifty more houses, and submitted an additional 11 offers. For a total of 18 offers! Every single one of them fell through for one reason or another. Our poor realtor was absolutely stunned. He couldn’t believe we were losing on SO many houses! It was right down to the wire – it was March 18th and if we didn’t have an accepted offer by March 19th, we wouldn’t close in time to move before our lease was up and our backup plan (which we didn’t actually have) would have to go into effect. We were looking at moving into a month-to-month lease (and paying through the nose) while we continued to house shop. That would have been a)stressful b)expensive, and c)undesirable since our new closing/move dates would be much closer to when the baby would be born.

So, we prayed, a lot. We started looking at houses outside of our preferred location (for commute times). We started looking at houses outside of our established parameters (i.e. no HOA, no recent builds, etc) Basically we were looking for anything, with the knowledge that we would probably only live there for a year or two, and then move AGAIN. We prayed some more. We asked everyone at our Life Group and all our friends back home to pray. Things were serious!

Wednesday we spent all day trying to set up appointments to view houses that evening. The kids were worn out and grumpy from spending every evening and weekend doing nothing but looking at houses. Lover was stressed trying to balance work and house hunting and an emotional wife. I was stressed and overwhelmed trying to coordinate with our realtor, find houses we wanted to see, take care of the kids, oh and be pregnant too… it was a rough time. Our realtor touched base with me several times that day to let me know that most of the houses we were trying to see were unavailable, already sold, or simply refusing viewings for some unknown reason. I was on the verge of losing it.

I put the kids down for a nap, and sat on the couch trying to relax. Then our realtor called. At this point, I assumed he was calling to say that all of our viewings had been canceled for that evening. He started out by asking, “Hey Jenny, do you remember that house on Amherst?” amherst9

Did I remember it? Of course I did! It was one of the first houses we saw with Bill, and we totally and completely loved it. It was older, in a nice neighborhood, and had tons of vintage charm and quirk. It was love at first sight. We had put in a really strong offer, but someone had outbid us by several thousand dollars and had more cash to put down.

“Well,” Bill said “turns out the original buyers backed out, apparently due to an inspection issue that has since been resolved.  But they were no longer interested, and our offer was the second best offer, so the seller’s agent just called me to see if we still wanted this house.”


I was trying so hard not to bawl my eyes out, right then and there on the phone with Bill. Did we still want it? Do three year old boys like playing in the dirt? Yes, we still wanted this house. YES, YES, YES!!!!

I managed to answer in a somewhat dignified tone “ah, yes, I remember the house. We loved it. Yes, we are still interested in it.” Bill proceeded to say something about talking to Lover about it, and getting back to him in the next half an hour or so to confirm. I hung up the phone, sat down on the couch and cried. It was definitely an ugly cry. Such feelings of relief and exhilaration and incredulity. I cried for about twenty minutes, then pulled myself together and called Bill back. I told him we were on board and to send over the contracts.

I hadn’t talked to Lover about it, but I knew that we had both loved this house, and he wouldn’t have any problem with me giving the okay. We were devastated the first time we lost that house, and I knew he would jump at the chance to get a house, ANY house, but especially THIS house, that had been our favorite!

I confirmed everything with Bill, and e-signed all the paperwork while I anxiously waited for Lover to get home from work. The waiting just about killed me. Finally, I heard Lover come in the front door, and I met him at the top of the stairs. “I’m sorry,” I said. “we canceled all our showings for tonight.” His shoulders just slumped and he looked at me confused. “Because…” I said, with a sparkle in my eye “the buyers on Amherst backed out and NOW WE GET TO BUY IT!!!!!!” Lover grabbed me and hugged me and I cried some more and we jumped around and were all giddy and it was awesome.

God gave us the perfect house, in the perfect location, just in the nick of time. We had to wait till the bitter end, trusting that He would come through for us. It was really hard, but we did it, and we trusted that he had something great for us, and boy did He ever. Our Heavenly Father pours out on us an embarrassment of riches.

amherst1Amherst is a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom raised ranch with a ton of quirk and charm. It is about fifteen minutes from work, less than five minutes from church, and most of the friends we have made since moving here live less than ten minutes away. We couldn’t have picked a better location if we had tried.



The bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, living and dining rooms are all upstairs. The living room has a brick wood burning fireplace. (Don’t worry, we didn’t inherit any of that furniture!) The fireplace is massive and awesome.

amherst4The dining room has a brick wall that is completely different from the fireplace brick just steps away. We love it. It’s moody and gray and totally makes the space. The kitchen is well planned out and very workable, and the cabinets are super sturdy – made by the previous owner who was a master woodworker.



These pictures are all pretty horrible (they are the listing photos) so I’ll follow up sometime soon with better pictures. But everything works, everything is clean, and we’re loving all the space to spread out.

amherst10There is a second brick fireplace in the basement family room, that is completely different from the two types and colors of brick upstairs. It’s also huge and awesome. We got to keep that geese carving/decoration thing above the fireplace too. :)

amherst7The family room is fully half of the bottom story of the house. In between the family room and the garage is a utility room with the laundry and a half bathroom with – wait for it – a brick wall that is nothing like the other brick walls/fireplaces in the house! Yes! :) This bar was made by the owner, along with all of that orange paneling you see (it wraps around the outside wall throughout the whole basement. We are actually considering keeping the orange, if you can believe that.

There’s lots more to see, but we’ll get to that as I have time to blog about it. It’s been a VERY busy couple of weeks, and we’ve got a trip back to NY coming up, along with traveling to my brother’s wedding in Spain, and oh yeah, I’m 31 weeks along today. So things are busy. So far we are working on the house little by little, painting a room here, taking out some cabinets there, and we are loving it.

Oh, and the yard! We have a yard again! It is the epitome of awesome. It’s overgrown and neglected and has about six trees that need to be chopped down post haste. But it’s fenced and full of grass and dirt and the kids absolutely love it. And it has a lilac bush. :)

So that’s where we are. Living in our new house, on Amherst Dr. (How funny is that, Wendhurst and Amherst? It’s like it was meant to be :) Settling in, unpacking boxes, and feeling thankful every day for the house that God gave us. We’ve already met several of our neighbors, and they couldn’t be nicer. Also, none of them call us at 5 in the morning to tell us our kids are being too loud. :) We are loving this house and we’re so thankful for all that God has provided us with.

Till next time,





Posted in 2015, amherst | Leave a comment

Lilacs just for Me

This lilac bush is the the back left corner of our yard. It’s huge and overgrown, and in desperate need of some pruning. But, the top of the bush is covered in big, puffy lilac blooms. And let me tell you, every time I look out of our new kitchen window and see those purple flowers, my heart bursts a little. Let me tell you why.

When Lover and I started talking about moving away from upstate NY a couple of years ago, we tossed around all sorts of destinations and discussed what our life would look like. We strongly considered moving to Portland,  Oregon for quite a while, thought about moving south to the Carolinas (like the rest of Rochester, NY) and even considered moving overseas. In the end, we decided to take a year off of our commitments, recharge emotionally and spiritually, and really rely on God to direct us where he wanted us to go after the year was up.

I’ve mentioned before that Lover’s job offer came in at 11:50pm the night of Peanut’s first birthday, which was exactly 365 days to the day after we had started our sabbatical year. That was our first sign that God was involved in this move in a major way. I kept a doc on my laptop of all of the ways He was showing us that this move was his plan for our future. Little things like the fact that we had purchased a van months before (which was a serious star player in our cross country trip), to big things like deciding to close down my photography business that year.

People helped us in droves during our last month there, watching our kids, running our enormous yard sale, selling things for us, making meals… the list goes on and on. As someone who has difficulty asking for help, the fact that I asked and people showed up – that meant so much to me.

I’ve continued to look for signs that this move was God’s will once we moved out here. It makes the hard days, the days where I desperately miss family and friends, a lot easier. I made note of the fact that the 2nd church we visited was the perfect fit for us, and we’ve only become happier there. It’s like a breath of fresh air. I haven’t let the fact that Lover no longer has sleep apnea go unnoticed. That God waited to let us get pregnant again until we were out here, established and with an apartment rented, and timed it just right so I could still attend my brother’s international wedding.

And throughout the long, arduous house hunting process, I kept all these things in mind. When I despaired that we would ever find a home we would love, that would fit our criteria, I reminded myself of all the ways that God has walked with us through this adventure so far. And at the final hour, a house came through. And not just any house, but one that we had absolutely fallen in love with, and was perfect for us in so many ways.

Once we had signed the contracts to purchase this house, I was talking to God one morning, a morning that I was particularly missing my world in Rochester. And I said “God, wouldn’t it be just perfect if, in our new yard, there was a lilac bush just waiting for me? To remind me of my friends and family in NY? A little sliver of “home” here in our new home?” Well, lo and behold, my friends, God moved the owners years ago to prepare this home for us by planting that pretty,  sweet smelling bush in the back corner, just for me. I hope they enjoyed it, but I don’t really worry about that, because I know that all along that bush was actually just for me. God was saving it for me, keeping it as one of my “signs” that he’s walking right beside me, loving on me and spoiling me. And now I have the perfect visual reminder that He loves me – right in my own backyard.



Posted in 2015 | 1 Comment



Who but You, could breathe and leave a trail of galaxies and dream of me?
What kind of Love is writing my story till the end with Mercy’s pen? Only You.
What kind of king would choose to wear a crown that bleeds and scars to win my heart?
What kind of Love tells me I’m the reason He can’t stay inside the grave?
You. Is it You? Standing here before my eyes, every part of my heart cries

Alive! Alive! Look what Mercy’s overcome; Death has lost and Love has won Alive! Alive!
Hallelujah, Risen Lord, the only One I fall before I am His because He is alive.

Who could speak, and send the demons back from where they came with just one Name?
What other heart would let itself be broken every time till He healed mine?
You. Only You could turn my darkness into dawn; running right into Your arms

Alive! Alive! Look what Mercy’s overcome; Death has lost and Love has won Alive! Alive!
Hallelujah, Risen Lord, the only One I fall before I am His because He is

Emmanuel, the promised King the babe who made angels sing Son of Man who walked with us, healing, breathing in our dust
The author of all history, the answer to all mysteries The Lamb of God who rolled away the stone in front of every grave
Alive! Alive! Look what Mercy’s overcome;
Death has lost and Love has won Alive! I am His because He is alive. Alive!

Alive, by Natalie Grant

Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment



Today is Good Friday. Today we remember the sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross, when He willingly laid down His life for us, suffering immeasurably so that we could have the ability to become sons and daughter of God, rescued from hell, now miraculously able to join Him in Heaven one day.

This has obviously been on my mind this week. One of the unexpected benefits of being far from family, and the normal holiday events that fill up our time leading up to these big days, is that I find myself with more time, more blank space, more ability to meditate on the true meaning of these holy-days.  Our kids are still young, so I am really pondering how I want our holidays to look going forward. Do I want Easter to be about pretty dresses and white patent leather shoes and candy filled baskets? I don’t think there is anything necessarily wrong with all of that. But what is more important to me is that my kids know the stories about their Savior; His humble beginning, His miracles on earth, and His ultimate sacrifice and then triumph over the grave. And yes, I should be teaching them all of these things every day, but there is an obvious advantage to using the seasons and holidays of each calendar year to reinforce these truths.

So with that in mind, I’ve been meditating this week on the sacrifice that Christ gave us when He laid down His life for us.  And the word forsaken kept catching my attention. Specifically, when Jesus was on the cross and cried out in torment “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” That sentence has just been stuck in my head all week.

I took some time on Tuesday to sit down and really study out the word.  When I am doing a study, I typically start with the definition of a word so I can really understand it. Forsake means “to abandon, renounce or give up.” It’s a depressing word. When I think on forsaken, I think of the term God-forsaken. “This God-forsaken land,” for example. It connotates such  desolate loneliness, such hopelessness. I have friends who have been forsaken. By spouses. By parents. By lifelong friends. The wounds left by being forsaken go deep. They have far-reaching, long lasting effects.

Forsaken occurs 76 times in the Bible, and the vast, VAST majority of them are in reference to the Israelites forsaking the God of their fathers. Pick any of the passages to examine (most are in the prophets), and you will feel the heart wrenching sadness God experiences as his people turn their backs on Him over and over again.

When Jesus was in the garden, he begged the Father to spare him from what was to come. He knew what the payment for all our sins would require. He knew the suffering that was coming.  He knew He was going to be forsaken.

And on the cross, as He suffered unimaginably to pay our sins in full, the Father turned His back on Him. While He became the spotless Lamb sacrificed to save us, God separated himself from Jesus in a way that neither of them had ever experienced. God poured out his wrath upon His Son, so that justice would be paid.

Is it any wonder then, what Jesus cried out on the cross? “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” I don’t think I’ll ever be able to comprehend how awful it was. I read a few commentaries on this passage and a few things stood out to me.This is the only time that Jesus does not refer to God the Father as “Father.” In His greatest suffering, He reached out for a scripture that adequately expressed His agony and abandonment, and quoted Psalm 22:1. He referred to Jehovah as His God, with humility but also possessiveness. He did not lose His faith in God, but rather it was what sustained Him. As Chuck Smith put it, “He was forsaken for a time, that you need not be forsaken forever.” I am so thankful for that!

Interestingly, the word forsaken only occurs 6 times in the New Testament, after Christ’s death and resurrection. I wonder if this is because now, finally,  the New Testament saints understood. They knew they were bought with a price, and sealed unto redemption. They were certain that God (their Father) would no longer forsake them. They had security. What hope this brings me! We no longer have to cry out “God don’t forsake me,” He has promised that He never will. I am so thankful for Jesus’ sacrifice so that I could have that assurance!

May you have a wonderful weekend as we celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of our Risen Savior!


Posted in 2015, who God is | 2 Comments

Friday Favs Vol. 23

Favorite Moment of the Week: When we finally, finally, FINALLY won an offer on a house!! More details to come, but my goodness, I cried buckets.

What Javi is doing: Proving over and over that he is independent and competent. The boy has a list a mile long of opinions. We’re working on thankfulness and manners a lot these days. He’s also been soo helpful around the house. Pictured above are the kiddos doing their own laundry. They need supervision and a little help, of course, but how great is that? He also mopped the kitchen and bathroom floors. This kid is a keeper.

What Keilana is doing: Speaking, a lot! Putting together sentences like a boss. “Dada home? Dada at work? Javi in room? More toast, pease?” It’s adorable. She loves to follow her big brother around and attempt to do whatever he is doing. They’re best buddies and I love that. She calls Javi either Ja-Da or Ja-Dee and I love it so much.

How I’m feeling: Great. No really! Glad to have the stress of the house hunt off our shoulders. Meds are working well and I can eat just about everything now. I’m finally getting to experience that second trimester reprieve that I’ve only ever heard about before. :) I’m slowly purchasing the things we need for baby, and can’t wait to hold a scrumptious little newborn again. :)

So overall it was a good week! Started out very stressful, but finished awesomely. :)



Posted in 2015, friday favs | 1 Comment



My head is full of thoughts. I feel maxed, jumbled, unsettled. I know this feeling well. It happens to me every time I’ve gone through a stretching experience, something that has pushed me beyond  my comfort zone. Something like moving to Denver, or leaving my childhood home, or getting married, or having my first child.  And now that the initial stretch, that growing experience has let up a little, I start to process all the things I have learned  from this newest growth spurt. Its usually a time when I need to stop taking in information, stop reading, stop filling my mind, and instead give myself outlets to start processing. Usually for me that means writing, in some form or another.

It’s been hard to write lately with all of our house hunting. My days are literally filled with emails back and forth to our realtor, looking at houses online, chatting with Lover about said houses, going to see said houses, submitting offers (18 so far!) and discussions about what our plans should be. Obviously, this is alongside of everything else – caring for the kids, keeping the house some semblance of clean, doing laundry once in a blue moon, oh and did I mention I’m almost six months pregnant?… it’s been hectic. I feel scattered and maxed, and although I have about five posts in my drafts folder, it’s been really hard to focus and sit down and finish one.

But writing is cathartic for me. As I put my thoughts and emotions down in writing, my head starts to clear out, and I can breathe deeply again. So here I am, attempting to put together coherent sentences about what God is teaching me these days.

Someone asked me about four months ago to write on my blog about what God has taught me through this move. I didn’t know what to say because I hadn’t figured that out yet! I mean there’s the obvious things, God is always with me, He is always my sustainer, etc. Those are things I’ve been learning for years but I’ve learned another layer of them, if you will, with this move.

So what am I learning that’s specific to this move?

Fresh starts

I’m learning that I love fresh starts. The discovery of exploring new places, of meeting new people, forming new relationships. Of worshipping with a different group of the family of God, and learning new things about Him from them. It’s invigorating. Some people thrive on putting down roots, establishing long lasting relationships, and settling in. Others, and apparently I am one of them, thrive on exploring and discovering.

I’m not as much of a free spirit as some, I like to put down temporary roots, spend a few years in a place. Meet people, make a home, settle in. But then I start to get restless. I start to crave adventure again. I start to think about moving, starting over, meeting a new community.

Interestingly, I learned a few years ago that tumbleweeds are not actually dead. When they no longer like the place that they are in, they pull up their roots and let the wind sweep them where it may until they find a new desirable location to stay. Then, they put their roots back down and settle in. Isn’t that cool?

I guess you could say I’m more of a tumbleweed than a grapevine, instead of putting down roots that will last for centuries, I’m more of the, let’s pull up roots and find a new adventure! Kind of girl.

There are gobs of tumbleweeds out here. On one of our first weekends here, we drove north to Wyoming because neither of us had ever been to the great state of Wyoming. On the way up there, a massive storm was blowing in, and tumbleweeds were flying across the highway like paper in front of a fan. Some were little, no bigger than a beach ball. Others were enormous. At one point, we had to swerve to miss one that was the size of the front of our van! It was literally level with the bottom of the windshield! It was such a crazy, fun experience.

Every time I see a tumbleweed out here, whether it’s blowing across the road, or smashed up against a fence, I think of what I learned about them. To me they are a picture of our time here on Earth as Christians. I’m never really supposed to put down deep, long, far reaching roots into this temporal home. Instead, I need to keep my eyes fixed on eternity, knowing that what I lay up in store as treasures in Heaven are the eternal things. So that may mean being open to a move, or a new experience, a new relationship or a new calling from the Lord.

As we search for a home, our deadline looms up bigger and bigger. The reality of NOT having a place to live in a few weeks is a little terrifying. But God keeps using those tumbleweeds to remind me to stay flexible, to be open to whatever God has for us over the next few months. So if you see me these days, and I look a little windblown… well, now you know why. I’m learning to be a tumbleweed.



Posted in 2015 | 1 Comment

5 Children’s Books We ALL Love {For Toddlers}


Children’s literature is a tricky thing, is it not? There are thousands and thousands of books out there. Some are awesome, some are… less awesome. We’ve acquired a lot of books in the few years we have had kids, and checked out a bunch more at the library. It’s really important to me that my kids love reading. So I make it a priority to find books that I won’t mind reading over and over to the kids. We’ve gone through a lot of duds. But we’ve found a few that are definite keepers. Here’s a few of our favorites.


I Love you Through and Through

There are lots of “I Love you books out there.” I don’t love most of them. (Guess how much I love you? ranks up there with my least favorite books.) But our neighbor gave us this one shortly after Javi was born, and it’s great. It’s simple, sweet and silly enough to make us laugh. And I love the message that no matter what mood baby is in, Mommy and Daddy love you!


Horns to Toes and In Between

Anything by Sandra Boynton is a winner in our house. Her books are just delightful and funny, and you don’t get tired of reading them over and over. Her illustrations are great too. But I picked this one as our favorite because the kids love to touch the body parts that are named throughout the book, and it’s actually been really helpful for learning said body parts. And it’s funny.


Drummer Hoff

I found this book at Goodwill I think, and bought it because the illustrations were so cool. But it has become a favorite with it’s repetitive, rhyming, silly words (Sargent Chowder brought the powder!) and, of course, the huge explosion at the end! I’m fascinated by the reviews people have written about this book, so many scholarly words written about a book with so few words!


Little Quack’s Bedtime

This book is a rather recent addition to our home (it was a Christmas gift) but it is a fun read. Mama Duck is putting her five ducklings to bed and they each have an objection to voice before they can fall asleep. It’s eerily reminiscent of our household at bedtime. :) But it’s sweet and entertaining, and the illustrations are really pretty too. It’s one of those books structured on a repetitive rhythm so the kids can predict what’s coming really quickly. (Which they love)


The Story of Growl

We found this fun little book at the library. (Sadly it was shredded into tiny pieces by a certain blond member of the family)  It’s the entertaining story of a monster who loves to growl, which of course delights the kids to no end. It’s also very fun to give the neighbors in the story (who are irritated by all the growling) a British accent since they take afternoon tea every day.

So those are some of the favorites in our house these days. I’d love to hear what some of your favorites are!


Posted in 2015, kids | 2 Comments

The House Hunting Saga – Part 1

I mentioned a while ago that we would be buying a house when our lease ended in April. Well that’s still the plan, and we actually started our search at the end of January. We knew it would take a while to find a realtor, nail down the financing, and we wanted to really have time to explore the market, know what we could get at our price point, and figure out what neighborhoods we wanted to be in.

So, we’ve been officially house hunting for about a month now. And boy, are things different than house hunting in upstate New York! When we bought Wendhurst Castle, we had looked at lots of houses, and finally knew that the Castle was the one. We put in an offer, they countered, we accepted and – that was it. It was ours!

Here in Denver, things are an entirely different matter. There is a serious shortage of housing for the amount of people that have moved to Denver in the last few years. When we were apartment hunting, someone told us they were building 15,000 apartments over the next year. Denver is growing! Which means a few things – houses sell really, really fast, and for significantly more than list price. Our realtors counseled us that if we found a house we liked, to go ahead and put in an offer, immediately. Denver’s purchase contracts are set up to protect the buyer so you can basically withdraw your offer for any reason. So the idea is that if you see a house you think you might like, go ahead and put in an offer, and hope that it is accepted.

To date, we’ve put in offers on *7* different houses! We submitted one our first weekend house shopping, and lost on that one. We submitted an offer for a lovely house with a lofted hallway  and a beautiful yard, and lost. We submitted an offer on a gorgeous house that reminded me of my grandparents’ house, with an escalation clause that offered up to $30,000 over asking price, and lost. That house received 24 offers in a single day, and sadly ours was not the winning bid. We were pretty sad about that one.

We have won one of our offers! Last weekend Denver got an “epic” snowstorm. It wasn’t much of a storm by NY standards, but just about everything was shut down, church was canceled and few houses were listed. We submitted an offer sight unseen on a property that looked really promising, but ultimately withdrew the offer once we visited the property. It just wasn’t the right fit for us.

We’re also waiting to hear back on a bank owned property that is taking their sweet time responding to our offer. It’s little fixer upper that would be a fun project to take on. But, it’s been almost two weeks and we have yet to hear from the bank, so our hopes are not high for that property.

So we have about two weeks left to find the “perfect” house. After that, with closing dates and such, we’ll be up against our end of lease deadline so we will have to find a house, any house, that works. We decided to buy here in Denver since rental prices are already very inflated, and would have gone up even more had we stayed here or tried to find a bigger rental. Our kids need a yard, we would like another 1-2 bedrooms for kiddos and guests, and it just makes a lot more financial sense to own rather than rent in this market. We would appreciate your prayers over the next few weeks as we really work to find a house that will work for us!


Posted in 2015, denver, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Getting out of a Mom Funk

There are some days when I am just done with my kids. Do you know what I mean? It’s usually after we’ve been cooped up from being sick, or a new developmental stage has brought on lots of a)clinginess b)whinyness c)tantrums d) all of the above. Usually I start to feel at the end of my rope and start getting easily frustrated… and everything deteriorates from there. Of course, that’s also when some older mom (whose kids are out of the nest) will typically tell me something SUPER helpful like “I wish I had played more with my kids when they were little” or “aren’t you just loving every second of parenting littles?” or (my favorite) “boy, you sure have your hands full!” It’s always something along those lines that does not, in fact, make me feel better about my current state.

At those times I’m also not reassured by the opposite spectrum – the mommy blogs where everyone pats each other on the back for “getting through one more day”, “surviving being a stay at home mom”, or congratulates each other for sticking the kids in front of the TV for hours on end because “mom time.” I’m not really interested in “surviving” these years, I’d prefer to thrive.

So I’m learning that there are a few things that consistently pull me out of my funk when I get like this:

Time in the Word. Typically, when things change and/or we go through a difficult stage, it means that I have not been reading my Bible or praying much (beyond “please God, help me to make it through this day/hour/second!”) So I start making that a priority again. I often refer to I Corinthians 13 (the love chapter) when I’m feeling at the end of my rope – that passage tends to give me quite the kick in the pants. :)

Music. This helps me diffuse the tension, sometimes we dance silly dances, and oftentimes it just lessens that feeling of loneliness that can sometimes creep on me from staying home with my kids all day.

Reaching out to another young mom. I have a few friends that I know are “safe friends.” I can call them to vent, and chat for a bit, and they will not judge me for being at the end of my rope, nor will they say maddening things like “oh, my kids have never really been tantrum throwers.” :)

Getting outside. It’s amazing what a difference taking the kids outside makes. If it’s nice, we can go for a walk or play at the playground, take our time and enjoy the outdoors leisurely. If it’s cruddy, just fifteen minutes of fresh air and sunshine will boost everyone’s moods and change the dynamic enough to turn the day around.

So that’s what works well for me. Do you have any thoughts or advice for when life with littles gets really hard?


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Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment