Charmingly Modern

The beauty of a friend

Your best friend. Your closest friend. Whatever you call her, and perhaps there are more than one of “her”, she is as dear to you as someone can be.

You could pick her out of a crowd of ten million. To you, she is the most beautiful woman not only because it’s a fact, but because she knows you and still loves you.

You can call her at any time of day or night, and with just that connection of the line your worries seem a little less worrisome and a little more conquerable. She is your reserve of strength when you’re plumb out. Somehow, she helps you go on.

She has the words. All the words you can’t quite figure out, or don’t quite know how to say. She has them, and she puts them together in ways that help you better understand, help you see more clearly, help you laugh when you need to (or cry). But she only uses them when you absolutely need it, because she knows that you have them too and all you really needed was a little push.

She laughs with you (and sometimes at you, but you know you’re hilarious so it’s okay), and her smile is amazing. Best of all, she laughs at all the same things you find funny – even the really inappropriate ones. And her favorites match up just right, and when they don’t that’s also okay because it just means more for you (always a plus in the event of different chocolate tastes).

hydrangea bouquet

The memories you share. All the things you’ve done together – some stupid, some mundane, some thrilling – they make up your story together. And you draw on those memories, to add to them or to work through them. Some of them become jokes over time, some of them stick with you and you learn from them.

This woman – your best friend – is a vision. More than conventionally speaking, she’s a vision because just when you felt like no one would ever see you, there she was. You struck up a casual conversation and from there, days turned to weeks, turned to months, turned to years. Piece by piece, you shared your life with her, and she with you, and it was in those moments that something amazing happened.

You realized how integral she became to your day-to-day and so you said it out loud – you are my best friend. And she agreed that you are hers. Maybe you didn’t say it to one another; that doesn’t really matter. All that matters is you both know it.

How lucky you are to have one another. The familiarity and the comfort, the give and the take. How do you ever convey to her the impact and the meaning she has to you? How do you make sure she knows, without a doubt, that her not being a part of your life is something you can’t even fathom?

You do it like this –

You call her and invite her out to coffee. And when you see her, you look her in the eyes and you say, “Tell me everything. I can’t wait to hear what you’ve been up to.”

And she’ll know, because through everything she has done for you over these years, you’ve done the same for her. It’s your being there that tells her you can’t make it alone. It’s how she knows.

Posted in Daily Journal, Inspiration 2 comments

The year I turned 30

This is the year I turned 30.

It’s the year that I thought things would come together. Turning 30 is one of those monumental life changes that you see in the movies and hear about from your friends. It’s when life is supposed to make sense.

I’ve only been 30 for about six and a half months, and I would say this has not been the year I thought was in store for me, but isn’t that the way it goes?

I have questioned more things – about myself, about the world – in these last six months than I have ever in my previous 29 years. I haven’t come up with many answers.

I found myself in the middle of a crisis of faith, as cliche as that sounds, and looking for a way to breathe through something like that is not easy. When your solid foundation gets a few deep cracks that you just can’t fill in, you start to wonder… who is this God I have flung myself into wholeheartedly for so many years? Who is He anyway? Where is He when children are harmed, and no one speaks a word about it. Where is His hand in that moment?

bouquet of roses

That’s what has hit me most deeply. The violence. And the innocence. It’s a hurt that’s palpable. A hurt that I felt to my very core, that manifested in physical pain and that robbed me of sleep and still, as I type this, brings me to tears because I don’t understand and I don’t know that I ever will. The lack of understanding was what jarred me. The bandaid answers you so often hear to explain away a bad event couldn’t cover it. They weren’t enough and I was left empty handed and confused. But mostly I was left with doubt.

I alluded to this not long ago. I had read something that so shook me, I was unable to get the images out of my mind. Coupled with the fact that since the day my son was born, my heart began to exist on my sleeve and grew to at least ten times the capacity it had ever been before, just the hint of an injustice toward a small one who has no means of defense was enough to rattle me deeply. I don’t know why, but this particular story at this particular time was too much.

Some people eat when they’re stressed. Some people shut down. I clean. So I cleaned and cleaned. And when there was nothing left to clean, I did the second thing that helps me decompress and that’s standing under the shower. Usually the water drowns out whatever thoughts I can’t deal with, but not then. Because it wasn’t thoughts I was hearing. It was pictures in my brain that I couldn’t erase. I couldn’t turn them off.

I saved my tears for that night. After the house was asleep, I crept into my son’s room and held him, then wept on the floor. I’ve never known a wrenching cry until that moment. And when I had nothing left, I sat outside on the porch in my quiet, small-town neighborhood and wrote.

bouquet of flowers

But I couldn’t pray. Maybe what I wrote was a prayer, but I couldn’t address the One who I would normally turn to because I felt so unbelievably let down. And even in that moment, realizing that was how I felt made things ten times worse because I had never questioned – never! – His goodness and His wisdom. I hadn’t needed to, because I always felt and deeply believed He was in control. I can’t begin to explain the way I knew to the depth of my being who God was – is – and His hand on my life, because not only is it a completely different story but it’s also very personal. All I can equate this to is like being left out in the cold, with no way of knowing when you’ll find home again.

As the days became weeks and the weeks have become months, today I continue to work through this break with my faith.

I continue to see the stories in the news – “Child beaten to death by father,” “Man linked to ring of child porn,” “Mother abandons dead baby in a dumpster.” I know you’ve seen those same headlines. Each one was like ripping the bandaid off all over again, and starting at zero. How do you make excuses for a world that is so cruel? How do you go about your day to day stuff, knowing full well what’s happening miles from your home – or maybe even in your own neighborhood? How do you go back to sleep once you’ve been woken up?

You simply don’t. I couldn’t go back to sleep. I couldn’t forget. I couldn’t drown myself in the details of life, and I couldn’t explain away the evil of the world so that I could go back to my regularly scheduled programming. I know we all have these turning points in our lives. A moment that occurs where you find yourself at a crossing, where you have to choose how to move forward (or how not to), and that changes a little bit of who you are. There is no going back. This was my turning point.

field of tulips cincinnati zoo

I’m still walking it.

Today, I have a new prayer that I keep in my heart. I pray for the world around me – the world that my son is growing up in – but more than that, I pray for opportunity. This prayer isn’t an isolated act that I do before bed; I’m praying all day long. I’m searching, every day, for opportunity. How can I help? Where am I needed? What can I do, send, knit, make… how can I be used? Because I realized, through my silence and through my frustration, my anger, I accomplished nothing. I isolated myself. I felt myself growing bitter and hard.

So I leaned in to my turning point, and I tuned out my doubts and focused on the truth of what I knew. My questions go unanswered, still, and they probably always will. I have to be okay with that, because knowing the answer doesn’t really solve the problem – the problem will always exist so long as there are people on this earth, because we are all imperfect and we are all capable of unspeakable things. But I know how to address that. I can choose to look for opportunities. And I can teach my son to do the same.

Today, I temper my doubt with truth. I don’t walk blindly as I once did, but I also don’t walk alone. Can I say I’ve come out on the other side stronger? I don’t know. But this isn’t really about me, is it? When your life intersects with someone else’s hurt, it stops being about you and your story becomes something much bigger.

I have no amazing epiphany to share, no real words of wisdom that you can pin. All I have is my story and my prayer. And if you find yourself doubting, and questioning, I hope you’ll find a prayer of your own, too. You never have to walk alone.

Posted in Daily Journal No comments

A To Do List for the Playroom

The main reason we chose the Davidson floorplan for our Drees home was because of the play room.

Oddly enough, this is the space I kind of dislike the most about our house. But it’s only because I have no idea what to do with it. It’s a big room, which makes it a little overwhelming.

So this post is all about a few ideas I have for how to set this room up. Here’s how it looks today –

playroom in drees davidson home

playroom in drees davidson home

playroom in drees davidson home

playroom in drees davidson home

So, pretty much a blank slate, huh? As you can tell, this room kind of became the catch-all for the furniture from our old house that didn’t really have a place in this new house. To give an idea of the space, it’s 17′ x 21.5′ (length) – large and just a little awkward due to the half wall by the stairs and the wall of windows. There are really only two usable walls where you can put things, and one is cut short by being right by the entry.

One of the first things I would love to do this in this room is add window treatments – especially because the sun sets at the back of our house, so this room heats up fast in the late afternoon/early evening – paint the walls and maybe add some kind of decorative trim. So, here are a few ideas I’ve got swirling in my head as to what that might look like.

Back when we went under contract, I created a paint colors board on Pinterest and added a bunch of palettes that caught my eye. The tricky thing with painting the playroom is it eventually shares walls with basically the entire first floor of the house and the hallway upstairs – because the couch wall technically goes all the way over to the stairwell, which goes downstairs and leads to the wall with the television on it, which goes to the fireplace, and so on. I’m not against accent walls (and if I was going to do an accent wall in the playroom, I would make it either the wall where the couch currently is, or the wall with the windows) but regardless, I want a whole-room color that’s neutral enough that I wouldn’t mind seeing it throughout the entire house.

design seeds knife tones

new year sparkle design seeds

Both of the above palettes are from Design Seeds and for some reason, the Pinterest link doesn’t take me directly to the original page where it was pinned from. But if you need some paint palette inspiration, definitely visit that site.

Our kitchen and living room have a bit of a purpley undertone to them because of the granite – which has large splotches of very dark purple in it. So that’s why I’m kind of being drawn to navy and dark plum for accent colors. The color I would slap on the walls? In the first palette option, I would put the very bottom grey (but probably two shades – at least – lighter). And the second palette, I would put the top color on the walls. Now that I’m looking at these stacked up together, I think the second shade of grey in the bottom picture is the same shade of grey in the top one?

The purples and navy tones would come in through pillows and decorative accents.

Keeping this in mind, though, a friend of mine planted the idea of doing a board and batten treatment around the room. I love that idea, but because of the room’s openness, I’m not entirely sure how it would look – unless we only did it on the wall with the windows? If we did it in the whole room, I feel like it would also have to go in the upstairs hallway, then down the stairs as well.

board and batten around window

Via House of Hepworths

Something like that would be really cool and fairly doable on just one wall. Take a look at the wall of windows again -

I could easily see doing the whole window wall in a board and batten style treatment, and keeping it simple with some white shades.

I’m also still brainstorming on what I want to do in terms of furniture placement. I’m debating painting the existing TV stand (because there’s nothing wrong with it and it’s great for toy storage), as well as the table behind the couch both a dark navy or purple. I would love to swap out the couch for a sectional, but I am a little concerned that might eat up a lot of play space.

But mostly what the room needs is toy storage. What you can’t see from the pictures is in the corner where the basketball hoop is a plastic bin full of miscellaneous toys that won’t fit in the TV stand. It really becomes a mess in that corner as the week goes on and things get played with, then tossed back in the bin haphazardly.

So, with all of this in mind, here’s my To Do list for the Playroom -

  • Paint the walls, upstairs hallway and stairwell some light shade of grey (with the eventual plan being to also paint the living room, kitchen, eat-in area the same shade of grey)
  • Add a board & batten treatment to the window wall
  • Add some simple white 2″ faux wood shades to the three windows
  • Paint the TV stand – not sure on the color yet
  • Paint the accent table – not sure on the color yet
  • Better lighting; relocate table lamps elsewhere
  • Toy storage solution
  • Better/more seating

I would love to hear any ideas you might have for this space! Thanks for reading :)

 

 

 

Posted in Building with Drees, Home No comments

Castles and Factories

“Oh wow, look! A castle!”

It wasn’t actually a castle. It was a huge industrial plant that we were driving past, but Ezra’s little toddler eyes saw something else.

“It sure is, bud!” I replied.

We passed a few more castles on our way to our destination – each met with just as much enthusiasm from my passenger in the backseat – and that little voice in my head came up. If you’re a parent, you know the voice I’m talking about. It’s the one that tells you all the things you’re doing wrong.

“You should have corrected him,” it said. “You shouldn’t let him think a factory is a castle. You should have told him it’s a place where people build things.”

I generally try to ignore that voice when it comes up. No good comes from it – usually – and anyway, most of the time, I think I’m a pretty laid back mama and I let things roll off my back.

For some reason, though, this particular little moment in time stuck with me throughout the day and that voice would not let up. That night, as I laid in bed, I thought about castles and factories, perceptions and realities. I thought about simplicity and complexity, childhood and adulthood.

I do some of my best thinking at night, because usually it takes me a good long while to fall asleep.

And as I was pondering all of these things, I came to realize that, right now, it’s my job to protect and nurture the simplicity of childhood. There will be a time when we’ll drive down that road and my backseat passenger will be a little bigger, and he’ll know we’re driving through our city’s industrial quarter and there are no castles there.

The reality will be that the magic has gone, and he’s moved on to other things. And while growing up isn’t a bad thing – it’s my little boy’s job right now, after all – it is a thing that doesn’t have to happen quite so fast.

In the meantime, I want him to find the castles. And maybe even imagine there are knights fighting dragons within those walls. I love his exclamations when we drive past big rigs, construction sites and train tracks – things I’ve long since become used to seeing as I make my way around our city, things that have lost their magic to me.

So I’ll quiet that voice and save the should-haves for another time and, for now, keep it simple and keep it sweet.

Posted in Home, Motherhood No comments

Book reviews, more planners, thai food & emergency vets – Looking Back, Looking Ahead #9

I’m caught up on Looking Back, Looking Ahead! This installment brings us to what happened last week, woo hoo.

So, what did happen last week?

Looking Back…

On Monday, I got a book in the mail.

move on book

I signed up to be a part of a blogger reviewing service for books, which means – as you can probably guess – they send me books and I get to review them. I’m pretty excited about this because I figure it’s a good way to get myself into regularly reading. The only requirements are that I have to post the book reviews on Amazon or another similar bookseller website, and also post the review on my blog. I guess these are sort of like sponsored posts, but I get to pick the book I review so I like that aspect of it. And all I’m getting is a free copy of a book.

Anyway, I chose Move On: When Mercy Meets Your Mess (this link goes to smile.amazon.com, which supports charitable causes each time you purchase) because it had not yet been chosen for review by a blogger, and I thought the title sounded interesting. As it turns out, the book is exactly what I needed to read after my very emotional week I had last week. I’m just about halfway through so expect a review by mid- to late-September.

diy planner

Remember when I mentioned a couple weeks ago about how I gave another Moleskine transformation a go and I wasn’t very happy with the results? Well, I tried again but this time with a random notebook that I found in my stash (yes, I have a notebook stash). It’s graph paper like the Moleskine, but has more pages that are divided into sections by color (four sections total). I worked on the cover and coverpage with some washi tape I had picked up at Staples, and then started working on a monthly and weekly view. So far, I am liking this, but it’s still not quite right.

The Emily Ley planners will be released in a couple weeks and darn it if I am still eying those! I also checked out Plum Paper Designs to see what was new with them. The planners are a little over $20 less than Emily Ley and I already know I like them.

Stop giving me that look! I’m addicted to planners and I can’t help it!

Anyway.

It was rainy and/or overcast and/or humid most of the week this past week, so Ezra and I were kinda limited in what we could do outside. On Thursday, we broke out our paint supplies and painted a little on the porch. When he was napping, I picked my Custom Fit sweater back up since it is technically supposed to be fall soon. I also put on a new Jamberry manicure.

Friday during the day, we had a visit from the in-laws so that was very nice. They brought over pizza and hung out for the afternoon.

Friday evening Ezra had a sleepover at my parents’ house, which meant Alex and I had all of Friday evening and Saturday morning/afternoon to ourselves. It was like a throwback to pre-baby days, and it made me realize just how little we did with our time on the weekends before we had Ezra. Kids seriously do just pack on the activities that you squeeze in.

We had Thai food for dinner Friday night because we have both been craving it. We hit up a place that I hadn’t been to in years (and Alex had never tried) and it was good but the service was pretty awful. Our food was given to the table beside us and it took the waitress almost an hour before the mix-up was even addressed. At least they gave us a free appetizer of crab rangoons?

After dinner, we walked around and discovered a new-to-us cafe that had a really good frappe, and we hiked up to an overlook to check out the view. Kentucky will always have my heart, but Cincinnati can be really beautiful.

(Get ready for another collage….)

Saturday morning something wonderful happened – I slept in. After weeks of not sleeping much at all, I really needed that rest. We visited a tea room for brunch and had some delicious food + a bubble tea (yum!!!!). My mom brought Ezra home after his nap but, unfortunately, I wasn’t there to greet him – only Alex was – because I had to take Aslan to the emergency vet. On Wednesday night, I gave him a new kind of heartworm/flea/tick medication that didn’t sit very well with him and made him sick. He spent Thursday intermittently vomiting and on Friday I was set to call the vet except he seemed much better and back in good spirits. Fast-forward to Saturday afternoon when he suddenly started having diarrhea and was shaking, plus refusing to eat or drink anything, I decided we needed to run up to the emergency vet and see what was going on. They diagnosed him as dehydrated and gave him an under-the-skin injection of fluid plus an anti-nausea medication and told me to put him on a diet of plain boiled chicken and steamed rice.

Yesterday, he was feeling much better and today (Monday) he is 100% back to normal which was such a relief. He is so small that when anything like this happens, I really worry about him.

Looking Ahead…

This upcoming week is looking like it will be pretty good. Last week, I signed a second social media marketing client and this Wednesday I have a meeting to naildown the details for a third, so positive thoughts and prayers are appreciated for that! All of this is pretty interesting in light of my decision to totally change the direction of my Etsy shop. Now, I’m not really sure where to go with all of that.

Here are a few links that caught my eye -

(I was cleaning out the archives of my “saved” selections in Feedly so all of these links are going to be really old.)

From 2012 – ‘To my 15 year old self: Things I wish I had known,’ via CNN

“Believe in your dreams and ideals and pursue them with determination and motivation. Always find the time to do something for other people. Indeed, there is nothing more rewarding than making someone else happy.” – Fabiola Gianotti

Five great podcasts to do the dishes by – via The Happiest Home

Now, great podcasts keep me entertained from the time I drizzle olive oil in the pan until the last pot is dried and put away. In fact, I sometimes find myself slowing down the nighttime routine just so I can listen to the end of a great episode.

Sweater Makeover – Flower Embroidered Shoulders, via One Sheepish Girl

This is seriously so cute and I’m glad I was digging through my old saved stuff so this tutorial is back on my radar, just in time for fall.

All the money I’ve earned (and spent) in my lifetime, via Budgets are Sexy

Really fascinating!

This is serious. If you don’t handle your money with care, count every dollar that passes through your hands with a budget, and invest early and often, you may end up realizing you have WASTED half a million dollars…

Alright, there ya go, folks. Hope you had a great week, too, and that you have a promising week ahead. Thanks for reading :)

Posted in Looking Back Looking Ahead 2 comments