Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Family Room Artwork

A few days stuck inside will make you suddenly want to post a lot of photos to your blog that you’ve been saving up for weeks. Ha!

A few weeks I hinted to a new piece of artwork I had purchased for our family room. I am a cheapskate when it comes to my own home decor, mainly because I switch it out constantly. I probably rearrange our furniture in most rooms monthly. I trade out decor from room to room as the mood strikes me. Because of this, it makes sense for me not to spend lots of dollars on accessories. And to me, art is an accessory. If you buy the right kind of art, it can be moved from room to room on any given day.

Again, bear with my iPhone photos. My camera and I have not been best buds lately, so I need to get back in the hang of using it and uploading to my laptop regularly. For now, this will work.

I bought this large Love You Madly piece of art from Hobby Lobby on clearance for $40. FORTY DOLLARS. Easy. It’s light. It’s neutral. It’s sweet. I love it. 

My sister-in-law loved it so much that she went and snagged one for her new master bedroom and we hung it up in there when I was working in her home last month. Again, I loved it there, too.

Here are some quick photos. And if you’ve ever kind of wanted to see how our floor plan is, the whole room photo above (and another one further down) gives you a small idea. The huge wall of windows to the right of the photo are overlooking the backyard and pool. To the left of the room past the staircase is our front door. Back in the left corner of the photo is our little piano / reading nook. My office / craft room is behind this fireplace wall.

Close up detail of the piece. I am in love with the light grey wood frame.

My little grey-blue table is from World Market. It has been so versatile and I have used it in probably 4 rooms already.

Next on my list for this room is a raw wood piece that goes over the fireplace. We have never been able to use this wood-burning fireplace because it is too broken up inside to safely use, but that is on our long list of things to renovate in the future. My early years were spent living in an old log cabin with a massive wood-burning stone fireplace and winter just doesn’t feel like winter without a real fire roaring and popping. My Floridian husband doesn’t agree, but that’s okay. 😉 He has his gas fireplace downstairs in the man cave.

Maybe next winter I’ll post a photo of a beautiful fire in this space.

xoxo, Amanda

Modern Farmhouse Style

Good morning!

I’m so excited to share a very fun decor post for you today! This one is special to my heart because it is my brother and sis-in-law’s old/new home!

They purchased a beautiful piece of land out in the Tennessee countryside, nearby the same area that my brother and I were born and grew up in, and it had an old farmhouse on the property. A little old lady had lived there for years and it was pretty shabby looking. As in, horrifying. I have seen the pictures and they were not exaggerating! Josh and Becky gutted the entire house and redid it with a much better layout and and a lovely feel. It’s all amazing. I will do a more intensive post later on with real camera photos and before and afters when I’ve been back to visit, but for now I wanted to share what I came in and did for them right after they moved in. I was in a traveling rush that weekend, so you’ll have to settle for my iPhone pics I snapped on this one.

Before I post any of this, I have to tell you that Becky knows her stuff. She knows her decor and knows what she likes, but she asked for my help actually putting it all together. And I know that feeling. I know what I like and don’t like, but sometimes it can be difficult to see the vision when you’ve been looking at it over and over. Fresh eyes are perfect. And I was the fresh pair of eyes!

Her first concern was the above little corner in the main living area. Laundry room door to the right, opening to the family room to the left and I was standing in the kitchen / keeping room area when I took the photo. So, it’s a tight little spot, but you don’t want to just leave it empty. I knew it could serve a purpose and I’m a sucker for a little reading spot. Plus, this gorgeous clock was butted up against the fireplace mantle on a tiny little wall space and I didn’t like it.

I believe the blue chair was new from World Market and then the hand-painted photo frame on the wall is one I helped my mom purchase for Becky for Christmas from my local friend, Sara Ella Cole, who makes these frames for her company Delta Girl Frames. They are gorgeous! And I felt that it was perfect in this space.

Up next on our quick list was the keeping room and I love this area! This is the first living area you see when you walk in the house. Becky had already purchased the two chairs and everything you see here except for the poufs. I had picked those up from my Target in Nashville before I headed into town and surprised her with them. I got them for a steal at $29.98 each. Target SCORE!

The wreath on the mantle was from Target and we hung it with some ribbon and tacked it to the back of this chalkboard for some layering. Our favorite part of this entire spot is that gorgeous cow. I love that cow. I wish you could see it in person, but the colors are so rich and it has so much depth. There is a coordinating sheep art piece in the dining room that you will see in a second. I had purchased the “Mr.” and “Mrs.” mugs for Josh & Becky for Christmas from Lindsay Letters and they just looked perfect sitting by the fireplace! Blue mason jars on the raw wood mantlepiece by the white brick was just something I couldn’t help but put together. All of these things I shopped for in Becky’s basement of items. It was lots of fun!

Here’s another view of the space:

And another view looking from the dining room area:

I just love it! It is so cozy looking and just the right amount of color with a simple and clean look. Now, again, this is not finished. You’ll notice there is no rug, but they had just moved in that previous week and we worked with what we already had, which was quite a bit!

The last room I had a chance to work in was their dining area. Their chairs had not arrived yet, but you get a feel for what it look like when they do.

The large art piece is one that I love and one of my goals before I drove back to Nashville with my kids that day was to hang artwork on the walls for them. I was soooo happy to get that large piece up before my brother got home to surprise him! And the sheep! Who doesn’t love that adorable sheep?

I also worked hard to get the little table vignette set up on that empty wall beneath the sheep. I used her antique scale and the letter “B”s from Anthropologie and Hobby Lobby and her little brown cow creamer. More of her collected glass jugs were used underneath.

For the dining room table, I wanted it to be simple but contrast so I just used the candles and the chicken wire terrarium for the center. This can obviously be moved when the table is being used, but on a normal day it’s perfect! Again, this area needs a rug of some type, but we will work on that more when I go back to complete the job.

I hope you enjoyed this quick little tour of what I was up to in January near the Chattanooga area. Lots of fun and I can’t wait to have the entire place complete and photographed for you. And thanks to Josh and Becky for trusting me to do the work for them! The house has been a labor of love for them and I wanted it to feel very special as soon as they finally were able to move in.






when it all seems too much.

Sometimes I start to slowly lose my mind.

Sometimes I think I might not make it through another day without some more help at home.

Sometimes I can’t get out of bed because everything just seems too much.

I usually do fine trying to take care of everything myself and I try my best not to complain to others who might have an extra kid or two than me or to others that work full-time all day or to others that are actually single parents. Because my life is actually pretty awesome. It’s just my mind gets overwhelmed and I often have a hard time bringing everything back into focus. Sometimes I need help with that. Thankfully, I have people who offer to help me. But let’s start out with what happened….

For an entire week, SEVEN DAYS, we have been without hot water in our home. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not the end of the world….I totally get that. BUT, it is a massive nuisance. You can’t wash your laundry, you can’t clean your body, you can’t clean your HAIR, and you can’t clean your dishes.

Let’s add on top of that I’m supposed to be hosting a baby shower in my home in about 5 days.

And that I’m supposed to be finishing up a room in a client’s house by Friday for a party.

And that I’ve been up to my eyeballs in stress over what necessary procedures to deal with on this house that needs major work, including this water heater issue, which is now all starting this week. (Yes, before the party. But I’m not slowing the work down. I’m happy for it to start!)

And most importantly to me right now, trying to get my design & staging business all sorted out and off the ground with pretty much no time leftover for myself. That is the worst kind of frustration.

Then this.

This “ice storm.”

Wow. I have about a gazillion errands that I need to deal with this week and my kids have been home from school for 6 days straight now due to break and then snow days and I haven’t had a true hot shower since last Tuesday.

Friends, I don’t know about you, but that’s sounds like just about enough for one normal week.

But here’s the lovely side I have tried so desperately to focus on.

My husband and my friends who have offered to help me out.

I don’t ask for help. Not real help, at least. It is hard for me and I usually try to keep chugging along. I was taught to figure things out on your own. It is embarrassing for me to ask for help usually. That is a downfall in a lot of ways.

Thankfully, three of my closest friends offered for me to come to their homes this last week and shower myself and the kids and do laundry. Chad ended up using water from pots heated on the stove and the YMCA when he could. (Other not-as-close friends and even a mere acquaintance offered to help and I was very touched by their generosity even though we didn’t have the chance to take them up on it.)

And then yesterday, when it seemed like I might lose my mind, Chad came home from work and knew that I was shutting down. My sweet husband spent his free time heating up probably 20-something pots of water on the stove and running them up and down the stairs, one after the other, to make a continuous bath so the kids and I could wash up. It was the kindest gesture I never would have thought to ask for.

Because of what he did, I was able to wake up clean this morning. Refreshed. A new outlook on the day. And thank the Lord for the sunshine today.

I took a little bit of time to myself mid-morning and walked around the Back .40 of our property and just took in the beauty. These photos could never do it justice. It is like walking through a natural ice castle back there. The sun shining on these trees make them look like glittering diamonds over every single surface. It is truly a glorious sight!

I know the ice and snow will melt. I know that I will soon have hot water and won’t be bathing like Laura Ingalls any longer. I know that my business will one day get started. (Hopefully sooner than later.) But most of all, I know that my husband always has my back. My friends have my back. Everyone is healthy.

There is ALWAYS something to find the positive in. Sometimes we just need a little help finding it.

We are making it. We are surviving with the help we have been given. And I am currently crossing my fingers as the water heater installers work on my new and improved hot water heater! Haha!

Now. Go enjoy your own winter wonderland!

xoxo, Amanda

Magdalen’s 6th Birthday // Sewing + Craft Party

As I’m sure my friends will remember (how could you not), Magdalen’s FIFTH birthday party was not held until 6.5 months after her real birthday. So in reality, she just had 2 birthday parties in less than 6 months on this end. Ridiculous, I am aware. Ugh.

Her fifth party was something I had been planning for a long time and it just kept getting delayed and moved and the weather never cooperated, etc. I was over it, so finally in July I just picked a date and we did it. The weather ended up being sunny, but stickily warm, but it was a magical day for our sweet girl.

This year, I am trying to keep up with things like this and do them in a more timely fashion. Ahem. Hold me to it, friends. For real.

Maggie turned 6 on December 31 and since that is a holiday already and the week before is a huge holiday, we just wait until after to throw her any kind of celebration. Also, because we had just hosted a massive 65-guest party for Chad’s 40th birthday in early December, I was a little bit partied out on huge crowds. Specifically a children’s party. You know what I mean.

I knew it might end up being tricky this year with her having an entire class of kids and then add in the other friends from other classes and friends that don’t even go to their school….and on and on. I told Chad that I didn’t know what to do and it was about a week and a half before the possible birthday party date. He said, just invite the couple of families that she is closest to and be done. It was almost like I had to have permission to not invite everyone and their mother. Literally.

So Maggie and I talked about it and she was fine with it because all she cared about was that we could do some sewing and crafts with some friends. We had her and Maddox, four family friends that go to multiple other schools and her closest two friends (boys) from her class. I still felt guilty not inviting any of the little girls in her class, but I made myself get over it. We needed “simple” desperately. I didn’t even break out my real camera, guys. I just took some photos with my iPhone and called it a night. That’s what these are. Not the best, but it’s documented and done. Boom.

I moved far away from the type of kid parties that I normally attend or host where you feed them a meal and many, many desserts and a few different types of drink and you give them detailed party favors and it’s just a madhouse.

Instead, I honestly put myself in Maggie’s shoes for a second and tried to imagine what would make her the happiest. And I saw the light! Hallelujah! 😉

She just wanted to have a few friends over, eat some sweets, and do an activity and open presents. Novel idea, huh? Haha!

I forced myself to plan this party and buy any supplies needed on the day just before the party so that I wouldn’t get too wrapped up in the details and spending more.

(I found the above paper lanterns at Target on clearance last week before the party. And let’s just be real here and realize that I bought most everything from Target. I can’t help myself. Everything on the table below is from Target. Except for the actual crafts and blue baskets. Mostly clearance. You would crack up if you knew how much each thing cost me. I am a clearance magnet, I tell you.)

Her party was on a Saturday night, so on Friday the kids and I drove down to Nashville Sweets Shop and just randomly picked up whatever dozen cupcakes they had made. I also purchased an assortment of their cake pops. (We ate these on New Year’s Eve and I already knew they were delicious!)

We bought frozen canned juice and mixed it up with water and Sprite and had that in a dispenser and one with plain water. For a few extra snacks for parents that stayed, I brought out all of the leftover Christmas party and Chad’s party snacks from the pantry and the freezer and put those out. If I ran out, oh well. I wasn’t there to serve a feast and fill up any adults anyway. I scheduled this party from 4-6pm so they could go home and eat dinner. I am not messing around this year when I say I’m going simple, people. I just used what I had.

Remember parties when we were kids? Your parent dropped you off and said ‘I’ll be back in two hours!’ and then you played whatever pre-arranged games the parent or kid had planned, then they served you cake & ice cream after singing happy birthday and then you watched your friend open their presents. Done and done. Parents picked you up and it was over. You probably had a soda, had a plastic bag filled with a lollipop and a pencil and you were excited. Am I right? Yeah, I thought so. (I’ll write more on this phenomenon in the near future, because I’ve got a lot to say on it. Not to say I don’t love a great event. But just for kids….it’s getting a little out of control. More later.)

Decorations were minimal, food was minimal, and the crafts were simple but fun. (Again, thinking like a 6 year old.) I took Maggie and Maddox shopping for the extra craft supplies and helped them decide what would be the most fun to do. Here is what they decided:

  1.  Burlap pencil pouch and a plastic “needle” to sew their initial on OR decorate with markers. I didn’t care what they did with it. (I found the burlap pouches in my office from two years ago.)
  2. Wooden trees from Michael’s to use markers on. The youngest kids ate this up! I had no idea. 
  3. Wooden spool of jute to do whatever you want with. (From the dollar section at Michael’s.)
  4. Paper mask. We picked butterflies for girls and people faces for the boys. They LOVED it. 
  5. Beads. I bought a couple small bags of letter beads and football beads and colored wooden beads and those kids went to town. I purchased pre made plastic bracelets to thread the beads onto so they could do it themselves. Maddox made a blue and white I <3 Titans bracelet and most kids did their name. 

Maggie and my mom put each person’s craft basket together and laid them out for me and Maggie gathered all of the supplies I asked for, so it was almost as if she set up her own party with my supervision. I laid all of the art supplies in metal trays on two sides of the table. Other than the little basket of craft supplies for each of them to use, I wanted it pretty much to be a free-for-all in the crafting department. That’s where kids’ creativity shows up anyway. I told them they could do whatever they want, even use their little paper placemat to cut and draw on. They were so excited! I think they are so used to being told specific instructions for activities that at first they just sort of looked at everything, but when they got started on whatever they wanted to do first, they were into it, ha!

Maggie gets really intense when she’s crafting. Hardcore Crafter.

We had to actually tear them away from the craft table to come to the living area and sing to Maggie and blow out candles. Trick candles, my bad. And I don’t have even one photo of that, just a little phone video, and I’m not going to let it bother me. New Amanda. NEW AMANDA.

She opened her few little adorable gifts with her friends and it wasn’t overwhelming! Yay!

This party was genius, I tell you, and I’m okay with tootin’my own horn about it. I did it! I went simple. It was a success. The kids had fun and we celebrated Maggie and focused on just her. Eight kids at a party was THE BEST. I’m not saying I won’t do a big party again. I know I will. But I wasn’t ready at this point and that’s okay. 

The above picture just weirded me out for some reason. Haha! The next day, Magdalen and I were driving in the car together and out of nowhere she just said, “Mommy? Thank you for letting me have a sewing & craft party. It was so so so much fun with my friends.” My heart melted, just like any parent’s would, and I realized just how special it was for her. And that was my whole intent to begin with.

Now, off to mentally plan Maddox’s February birthday party….

xoxo, Amanda

minted // what i found

{source: minted}

Hello Friends!

I am in love with this season of festivities and giving and joy and life! Even if it does fall in the winter, my least loved season. 😉 Aaaaand, one of my favorite seasonal topics is this: I want to talk Christmas greetings/cards today. 

I began doing Christmas cards to send all of my friends way back in high school. I loved snail mail (which back then was just called “mail”, um, hello) and I was obsessed with paper and stamps and handwriting, etc.

Then I got married and I will never forget the first photo-type Christmas greeting that I ever sent out from Chad and myself. It was a corny, funny heavily-photoshopped photo of us layered over some fake cactus in the background with some photoshopped santa hats on our heads. We sent those babies out like it was the best thing we had ever seen. (If I can find a copy of it, I will post it here, because it is pretty epic.) We mainly sent that out because we had just moved across country that summer from Tennessee to Arizona, hence the funny cactus background, and didn’t know a soul. That was in 2001 and I have been crazy for funny or beautiful Christmas greeting ever since, but the times and designs have definitely classed it up a notch.

We skipped the years that we had winter babies because we chose to just send out announcements those years, and the last two years we have sent nothing because we honestly couldn’t find a photo-card-quality family photo in time and didn’t have time to have one taken. So, I just said oh well as much as it pained me to do so.

I love cards, mail, and photos so I wanted to share with you some beautiful designs I have found through a company called Minted. There designs are gorgeous! Every year it gets even better and they add more and more designers and styles. A great variety for every style and they really know how to work with you.

Here are some of my favorite designs that I wish I was using (we shall see if I can come up with a photo) because there is still time to send them out! 😉

Cozy Snow Holiday Photo Card (same as shown above) by designer, Ashley Hegarty:

I love how sweet and simplistic this one is. Because it really highlights the photo you choose and the backs of these have great options, as well. PLUS, hello….free addressing of the envelopes?! Yes, please!

Gorgeous, right?

Next I found this one. Watercolor Noel Holiday Photo Card by designer, Annie Mertlich:

This one just makes me happy. :) The artwork is happy, natural, and the colors are really great. Watercolor is just a great relaxed feel anyway.

Examples of the back of the card choices….

And you always need a little gold at the holidays. Don’t argue. Just do it. 😉 Going with the same idea of the watercolor again, this time with a banner and real gold foil-press on it. Hello, glam! I give you the Watercolor Bunting Foil-Pressed Holiday Card by Wind-Up Key Press.

Check out that shine! I’m in love with this one. And because of that, you must see a close-up. Seriously….

Beautiful, classic, a bit of glam, but still understated and not stuffy. Great for the modern family! :)

One last one for you, or I could post these all day. For real. Check this out – this one is too cute and fun and fresh AND it appeals to me because we have not sent out Christmas cards once since we have lived in our current home. Also, because we moved in here the week after Thanksgiving 2 years ago and it was nuts. This card reminds me of that time and I wish this option had been out there because it would have been a perfect moving/holiday card all in one. This cutie is called the Mod Move Holiday Photo Card by designer, Kristen Smith. ADORABLE!

And here is a great shot of it all assembled with front, backing, and envelope with the coordinating liner and address wrap tag. So fresh (and so clean, clean.) I would want to just hang this up in my house for a little piece of artwork every year if someone sent me one of these!

I hope you see something here that you like. If not, there are TONS of designs that are just amazing. I tried to choose a variety of my favorites, but there are even more styles that might fit YOU and your family more appropriately. Go take a peek at Minted. You will not be sorry.

I also love that you can upload one of your own family photos into the website and it will show you what each card will look like with that photo. It’s a no-brainer, really. They have truly taken the difficulty out of ordering holiday cards.

Speaking of “holiday” cards? Every card I looked at had the option of changing the wording from a Holiday saying, a Christmas saying, or a New Year’s saying. Pretty sweet if you ask me.

If you place an order before midnight on the 8th (that’s Monday, friends) then you can receive 15% off your order with code SNOW15FS. PLUS FREE SHIPPING. Did you read that? FREE SHIPPING and a discount code. Yes. Click over quickly and then come back and tell me what you ordered. 😉 Maybe even send me a holiday card. Maybe? Ok, maybe that was taking it a bit far. (But I do love mail. hint hint.)

As for the business side, I know that I’m supposed to let you know that I am receiving compensation for writing this post in partnership with Minted, but let’s get real – I’ve been perusing their site for the last couple of years and their designs always blow me away. I have been already peeking through their designs for this year before I was ever approached. So there you have it. I wanted to share them with my pals, too! Also, all of these photos were taken from the Minted site with permission for this post.

Happy Holiday/Christmas/New Year’s card shopping!

xoxo, Amanda


Weekend Notes

Maggie's Colors

Hello early Monday!

I am a known night owl – enough so that my son called me “nocturnal” on Saturday. Ha! Now that I get up early and get two kids ready for school AND myself ready for work on Monday mornings and arrive there by 7:45am, I am really kind of wishing I liked coffee. Buuuuut, I don’t.

So, I thought I would start doing a weekend recap each Monday morning after the weekend. There is a two-part reason for this:

1) I can look at it all on Monday morning and remember my family & friend-filled weekends and be happy to start another week, that will ultimately lead to another glorious weekend. It will make Monday not feel quite so torturous.

2) It will force me to stay off of social media on the weekends when my family is all together and just do one big post to share later. I love taking photos, but sitting down after it’s all over to share anything of importance or talk about something I enjoyed seems easier than during our precious few 48 hours together.

Whether the Monday posts are read by family and friends wanting to catch up on our lives or whoever feels the need to know what we did that weekend in Nashville or wherever we landed that particular weekend, so be it. I’ll be documenting it for myself, mainly. The days are long, but the years are short – you know the saying. I’m hoping that by documenting my life as a wife and a mother, the years won’t seem so short. They will seem full and satisfying as I reflect and also hold as a memory keeper later on. 

Here were my highlights of the weekend:

Relaxing with my family. We had NO plans except for Saturday night and I relaxed to the fullest. I posted the crayon photo above on Instagram on Saturday as a memory of one of my favorite things that Magdalen does. She loves to bring a coloring book and her crayons into our bedroom in the early weekend mornings while I’m still sleeping and lay on the rug at the foot of our bed and just quietly color. One time I asked her why she didn’t go downstairs where there is real (softer) carpet to lay on and she said in her sweet, staccato voice, “Because I just want to be near you, Mommy.”

Heart. Melted. Motherhood doesn’t get much better than that, friends. :)

Saturday night is a post unto itself, but it was definitely a highlight. Maybe even a Life Highlight. Bucket List – Check!

Chad played guitar and sang with Katie Armiger while she performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage. I never dreamed my husband would be playing on such a legendary stage as that one. It’s just not something you ever really entertain in your mind. I’m the type of person that takes things as they come and lets myself be surprised and this was a perfect surprise! I’ll do a more thorough post on that performance tomorrow with a couple of fun photos of the kids at the Opry and hanging out at our in-the-works home studio afterward.

Yesterday was a partial outdoor kind of day. The weather here was GORGEOUS. Deep down inside, I am mourning summertime leaving us, but I do enjoy the fall temperatures, as well.

It felt pretty fall-ish with Maddox listening to the Titans game on the radio while we were outside and then watching the (sad) second half on TV. Poor guy. Diehard Titans fan right here, people. He enjoyed relaxing in the studio with the screen doors letting the breeze in while he listened to the sadness of his team. 😉

And even though I said that I am mourning the goodbye of summer…..

…guess who swam her little heart out yesterday? Yep. That Maggie. The water was a balmy (freezing) 72 degrees, but she just jumped right in and never complained. That is one little fish.

And then she got out and was “Brrrrrrrring”, so she laid on her daddy’s chest to get warm and played it up with the full drama that she knows how to do. Our last summer swimming hurrah, perhaps? Say it isn’t so!

Until I found her a nice sunny spot to bask in, where she then promptly told me that she wanted to have a picnic right there on her pink towel. Ha! I wanted so desperately to spend a little one-on-one time with her now that the boys were having football time together that I said to stay put where she was and I would bring her a little picnic. I found some brownies left over from the night before and washed up some strawberries and brought them out to her on two plates for us to picnic together. The grin on her face as I was walking out to her was priceless.

I think she is so used to me being in a hurry that she didn’t really think it would happen. That is sad for me to admit, but true in real life. She sat and told me so many random things and talked about the animals we saw outside and what’s happening at school. I was pretty silent the entire time, just letting her chatter. Sometimes I forget how much she has to say that she doesn’t get the chance to share.

Note to self: Make more time for moments like these. And stick to it. Time is a-wastin’.

I hope your weekends were excellent and full of the simple pleasures of life. Even among the huge and/or really cool things we sometimes get to do, I would not trade these smaller moments as a family for those. I promise, I’m not just saying that. Sometimes, in the middle of a moment with my kids, I realize that it is about to be gone and it hurts inside when I feel that. I’m trying to make more of a point to ENJOY the moment instead of feeling sad about it being over while it’s still happening. Pretty crazy. Maybe it’s a common parental struggle? I don’t know.

All I know is this weekend was relaxing, refreshing and I’m ready for the week ahead! Enjoy your Monday. :)

xo, Amanda


When The Tears Roll

(source unknown)

What a strong feeling the above photo sends through me as an American. These symbols of strength, hard work, and dreams for our lives make my heart swell with pride in our country, solidarity with other Americans, thankfulness for life here in a FREE country. In simple terms: We are lucky. No matter what did happen, we are still lucky as a whole.

Today I woke up just like any other day, got my kids ready for school and scurried them out the door.  Once I was all alone in the house, in the quiet, I sat down like I do every other year since 2001 and thought about this day. This anniversary of tragedy. The memories that I can’t erase. The grief for people I’ve never known.

And I wondered….will there ever be another September Eleventh in the history of my life that my heart will not clench, my throat will not tighten and the tears will not squeeze out from behind my eyelids and roll down my cheeks? Will the memories ever not be quite as sharp? Will the ache in my heart and stomach start to dull over the years?

It’s been thirteen years! Thirteen years and the pain still remains the same. The shock is still there. The tragedies haven’t changed and they won’t.

But you know what? I’m thankful for a heart that hurts when I remember it all. It means my heart is delicate still and kind and empathetic. And when I see so many people that also feel the same, it gives me hope for this world. Because it means there are so many more people that also have delicate, kind and empathetic hearts. That is our hope in this situation. The hope that love is still out there and winning over the hate.

It’s so hard to explain to my kids without bawling my eyes out what exactly this day means to me. I could show them the graphicness of it all, but they are not ready for that. I don’t know if anyone is ever ready for that, come to think of it. How do I portray the emotion and complexity and magnitude of what happened on this day before they were born? How do I explain to them that moment in my life that I first felt true terror and horror? I think I should consider myself lucky to have gone 23 years before I first felt terror like that and I hope they have to go much, much longer before they ever encounter it. But we don’t know the future.

I want them to understand it as fully as they can so they can learn softness and not callousness, so that they can learn heroism over cowardice, so that they can learn understanding over dismissiveness. My number one hope in all of this life is to teach them to be like Jesus. Loving and holding on to tolerance towards those that are not like them and kindness in the face of harshness and hurting when someone else is hurting.

I watched this clip from Jon Stewart, filmed just nine days after 9.11.01, and it sums up everything felt in my heart about the attacks on our country. And they are so poignant and heartfelt, I feel like I can just leave you with his words here. (Click the link below.) Thank you for reading.

Jon Stewart 9.11 monologue

And if that’s not enough to restore your faith in the world – view these photos of what happened around the world on the tenth anniversary of 9/11.


xo, Amanda

(If you are curious to read my 10 year anniversary post on where I was on 9.11.01, click here.)


Blame It On The Rain. (Yeah, yeah.)

School has been out, summer is going strong and wow, it’s still raining. Nonstop.

I snapped this photo last week during another rain storm and looking at it later that night, I thought about something. (My kids, always teaching me something whether they know it or not.)

I am full of excuses.

Yes, you heard that right. I don’t come across as that way to most people. I do what I want, when I want and I usually don’t make excuses for the easy things. Easy things to me are things that are tangible. Things I can see. Things I can touch. Oh, you want me to move furniture around the house by myself, even though I might hurt myself? Of course I will! No excuses! You want me to show up at school even when I have no extra time so I can help you with a school function? Yep, I can fit that in somehow, too. No excuses.

But then there are the hard things for me.


Starting something.

More specifically, starting something that could possibly fail.

I have become the ultimate, amazing procrastinator because of this fear. I refuse to start something if I’m not sure it will turn out exactly as I’m seeing it in my mind’s eye. The trick here, though, is that I am not that picky of a person. It’s just that if I have in my head how I want something, then that’s exactly how I want it.

I am a certified dreamer. If I tried to share the massive amounts of dreams in my head to someone, they would possibly look for the “off” button. I share a lot of them with friends, family, etc., but so many of them are locked away in my own dreamspace and may never see the light of day. And that’s okay, too.

My entire point of sharing this about myself is that I’m tired of waiting. Tired of just dreaming the dream and not doing the dream. It can suck the life out of you and it makes me physically tired sometimes.

This fall, Magdalen starts Kindergarten. I’m looking to work part-time outside of the home for someone to sort of remind my inner-schedule (if I have one) how to have a routine again. I look back on my working days and they seem so long ago. Another lifetime, really. I’m ready to work. Ready to get my hands dirty, so to speak.

In addition to this part-time work I’m looking to do, I’m going to be blogging about our home. Our remodel, as we go along, and before-and-afters. I’ve shared bits about it on Facebook and Instagram in photos over the last year and a half that we have lived here, but we had only done the basics in order to live here comfortably enough in the beginning. Now that we’ve paid off our original remodeling loan (Hallelujah!), we are ready to start saving for the big purchases. One at a time!

On our short list: having the house thoroughly insulated before winter so we don’t freeze almost-to-death again and gutting our tiny master bathroom and having it updated completely (I have NO ELECTRICAL OUTLETS in my master bath, that is how old it is).

My goal alongside that is to go through each room of our home and make it the way I want it. Even if it’s not perfect. I will be doing this on a tight budget by shopping my home, thrift shops for repurposing, and finding deals along the way. If you have never seen the deals I find in my shopping excursions, you are in for a treat. I am like a deal magnet. No joke. You would not believe the items I find at ridiculously low prices! I would love to share this with all of you!

For now, this is my accountability post. I dabble in so many different interests and this will hopefully make me stay focused on the ultimate goal. Budget friendly home design, event planning, and life in general. I like to shop but more importantly, I like to shop smart.

I am working towards getting my working-design feet back and move into having design and event clients in the future and also doing some virtual design boards for those that are interested from afar. I’m tired of having excuses for every time I become afraid to start. I’m not that girl, so….

NO EXCUSES. I’m not blaming it on the rain anymore. I’m embracing the rain and figuring out a way to work it into each day that it arrives. I hope you join me and enjoy following along on our crazy old house. Next post later this week I will tell you the history of this “Blessing House” as my friend, Kimberly, so lovingly calls it.


From Baby To Boy

Disclaimer: I originally wrote the post below back in August of 2012, the week after Maddox started 1st grade. And I never published it. The photo above is one I took of him last summer during a baseball game with his team. I just found this post tonight and felt compelled to share and I had edited this exact photo to put with it last year.

He’s older now and some things have changed since then, but this story still rings true and I felt the need to read it tonight as a reminder to myself as a parent. Then I thought it might be a great reminder for other mothers (or parents) out there, too. Here’s the story….


This boy.

Oh dear, I wish everyone could know him.

A heart of gold, a playful spirit (a little teaser), and a thoughtful little man.

How have we raised him to be this amazing? I know it hasn’t been me alone. Nor has it been his father. The combination of very clear boundaries and set rules and specific expectations and lots and lots of love and laughter and tenderness since he was an infant have helped, no doubt, but he was born with a heart for God. That we could not have given him, but it’s there and we have worked very hard to keep it intact.

I have noticed this since he was just a little guy.
Questioning everything…..and the questions were big ones. Thoughtful ones for a 2, 3, 4, and then 5 year old. He blew me away each time. He understands things beyond his years and that’s a little scary, but also hopeful for his maturity level as he grows.

I had him in my hand all these years to mold him, shape him, and teach him all that I know and also shield him from all that I know that I understand he’s not ready for yet. (Which in this world are many, many, too many things to count.)

And now…..he’s 6.5 with one year of school under his belt.

I think this summer was when I got scared.

Did I teach him enough?
Did I pray over him as much as I could?
Why did I not teach him memory verses?
Why didn’t we have family worship on a regular basis?
How do we keep this sweet spirit alive in him?

This is all up to me during the week as the adult who is his caregiver. And I feel that I have failed when I look back on all that time I wasted doing other things.

I realized that I was not his core teacher anymore and in all scariness, neither is his teacher this year. (Although she is a great teacher and I’m thankful that he has her this year, just as I was thankful for his K teacher!)

That’s right. His peers are going to be. And it is so out of my control that I get sick to my stomach thinking about it. I’ve tried to steer his friendships as much as I can while still giving him the leeway to know who he likes to hang out with and not. But it’s still hard as a Mama.

It hit me last week, his first full week of 1st grade, that if we’re not careful then we can lose him.

If I’m not conscientious about what is going on his world then it’s hard to turn things around and get back in there.

Don’t think I don’t know how it works because I saw it happen with too many of my friends whose parents got busy and stopped teaching them the main values at home. I know I can’t leave this job up to his school each day and when he’s gone for 7 of his 13 waking hours, I have to make a VERY. CONSCIOUS. EFFORT. to make sure I’m using my time with him wisely while not beating him over the head.

Because really? What is more important in life than giving a child a foundation and a basis in knowing who Jesus really is? I am knowing the answer to that more and more each day.

I mentioned yesterday that I wanted to write a bit about what I’m doing with Maddox when it comes to talking to him and teaching him more about God, so I’m just going to jump right in to this subject.

A couple of things happened over the last few days that lead me to believe I’ve been on the right track.
At least, for now.

Have you heard this song?

Maddox started singing it to me a few days ago at the dinner table out of the blue and I almost started crying right there.

It was the song that his Kindergarten class sang on their presentation (graduation) night together and surprised all the parents with and I had forgotten about it.

Imagine a stage in a lunchroom with nineteen 6 & 7 year olds all in a row singing this song to you. It makes me teary just remembering how I couldn’t hold back my tears that night.

He let me take a video of him singing part of it tonight before he went to bed, so now you can hear it coming from a child.

“I want to set the world on fire
Until it’s burning bright for you.
It’s everything that I desire
Can I be the one You use?

I….I am small but
You….you are big enough
I….I am weak but
You….you are strong enough to

Take my dreams
Come and give them wings
Lord, with you
there’s nothing I can not do.

I wanna feed the hungry children
And reach across the farthest land
And tell the broken there is healing
And mercy in the Father’s hands….”

There he was at dinner just singing it to me after I had been thinking these same thoughts quietly to myself ABOUT myself.

So, later that night, we were getting he and his sister ready for bed and I asked him if he wanted to read with me or by himself.

Again, he blew me away with his response: “Um….I got my Bible out and I want to read some of the story of Job tonight. Is that okay?”

Well, let’s see….is that okay?

YES. Yes, you dear child. Where do you come up with these thoughts? Is my worrying all for no reason? Have we given you that basis to grow from already without realizing it?

The answer is maybe, but we can’t stop there. It’s an ongoing process and I’m praying for direction to know how to approach him as he gets older.

So, with Maddox we have started a nightly ritual. (This was all his idea, by the way.) I come to his room at bedtime with my Bible in hand and we sit up in his bed together with our Bibles and he reads a few verses, I explain them, then I read a few verses and explain them and so on.

Seriously, I couldn’t make this stuff up! What six-year-old kid picks JOB to read of all stories in the Bible??

Apparently, my kid does.

Tonight when I said, Where’s your Bible? He said “Woohoooo! I wasn’t sure if we were reading Job tonight. Awesome.”

I wanted to share this because, first of all, it makes me happy and I like to share my happiness. Secondly, I wanted to share to give parents a hopeful idea of how to have a worship with their sons. Just choose their favorite Bible story and go straight to the actual Bible and read it together! Boys love adventure and there is adventure and drama in that Book that they are going to think is very cool.

Sons can be tricky for Moms to know how to teach & direct sometimes and him coming to me with this idea was perfect. (Thank you, Lord.)

I get to bond with him and have a special time that was just us. And inside of that, we learned more about God together. I mean hey! I’ve never read the whole book of Job and that’s our goal together now. It feels good.

I’m currently reading and enjoying this book called That’s My Son: How Moms Can Influence Boys To Become Men of Character by Rick Johnson (shown below) and it has given me great insight on Maddox’s mind and how to teach him and I really recommend it. Thanks to my mom for giving it to me! :) You can click on the book here and take you to the Amazon link to read more about it or buy a copy for yourself.

In the next week I want to write more about the changes in my life and our life as a family coming up. And the reasons. And the goals. Major changes, but ones that we feel great about even it’s not the norm.

Be Thankful : Day 1 (and I’ve moved)

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 I’m thankful for that up there. ^^^

The husband who I don’t deserve + who somehow splits his life between 2 very different worlds.

The children who are more loving + kind  + full of sweet soul than I ever could have imagined.

How did I get this lucky?


I was standing in the laundry room on Sunday going through an entire stick of that Oxy gel stick  stain remover on Maddox’s grass-stained school uniform pants.

Usually when this happens I start to mentally tally up the money I’m spending on stain sticks (I go through about 2 a week) and how many new pair of pants I could buy instead with the money. And I start to get really annoyed that my son likes to slide on the ground all over the place whenever he plays with his buddies.

But on Sunday, I paused for a second and I think God was whispering in my ear.

I suddenly got a big smile on my face and some teary eyes and thought of how I am LUCKY to have to be cleaning the grass stains off of a 6 year old boy’s khakis. He is healthy and active and able to run and play.

And he is here. With me. Alive + well.

Sadly, some parents can’t say that and they would give anything to be cleaning their sweet child’s play clothes each night.


That’s all life is really, and so I spent the next 30 minutes JOYFULLY working on all of his clothes.


So, today I am thankful for them and all that they have made me. Thank you, Jesus, for blessing me with this family.


On another note : my blog has moved! (Obviously.)


At least for now. 😉

I’ve moved from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress and changed all names directing you here.

I had a sweet girl (Danielle Burkleo) do all of my blog + upcoming shop logo and designs for The Paper Arrow and I’m excited to start fresh over here. (I have transferred all of my old posts over, so if you are searching for something you should find it here.)

There are a few things that I’m still tweaking, but for now everything is usable.

And writable!

Lots of stuff coming up, and I hope you enjoy this new space.