Category Archives: Family

Family traditions, hard work, and a birthday…

My heart is so full with love and happiness and peace right now.  My parents left this morning after spending a long weekend with us and lately it seems that every time they leave, I find myself saying, “This was one of the best visits ever!”
My parents are pretty chill people.  They do not have to be “entertained” when they visit and are just as content sitting at home hanging out as they are spending each day doing something outside of the house.  However, this was one of the busiest visits we’ve had in a long time.
It started a few weeks ago when I finally decided that I was ready to start my garden.  I’ve been talking about it since we moved in almost a year ago.  My dad owns a tiller that my Grandpa gave him (RIP Grandpa, I miss you and love you).  My parents live 6-7 hours from us and would need to pull their trailer to bring it on.  I felt it was a lot to ask, but my dad said it was no problem.  It was an added bonus that this was the weekend we were getting some lawn equipment from a family member and needed to use the trailer to drive to South Carolina.
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We had some tire issues on the trailer, but were able to travel to South Carolina on Friday.  We were going there to pick up a riding lawn mower, among other things.  Our boys are very excited about this as they’ve been mowing an acre and a half with a push mower. My mom, my mother-in-law, Addie, and I made the trip.  It was a beautiful day and everything went very well.  And we had some pretty fun girl time!
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On Saturday, the work began.  I don’t know what kind of soil you have to deal with where you live, but we have good ole’ red Georgia clay here.  It took (and is taking) a lot of work to get the ground tilled up.  Hubby worked on it the longest, but I did enough that I was sore the next couple of days.  After we had worked it most of the day, I knelt down and ran the dirt through my hands.  In that moment, I had a flash of memories: sitting on my Grandpa’s knee riding the tractor; the rows and rows of potatoes planted between our house and my grandparents; sitting on the old swing with buckets of peas that had to be shelled; that first trip around the field on the tractor by myself; the shelves and deep freezer filled with the family’s hard work.  This country life – this farming thing – it’s in my blood.
But this I say, he which soweth sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall also reap bountifully.
– 2 Corinthians 9:6
After a long days work on my grandparents small farm, a rest was often taken on their front porch.  For as long as I can remember, they had the same furniture set on that porch.  After all, “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?”  It’s odd, isn’t it?  The memories that a gesture, a song, a phrase, or, in this case, a piece of furniture can hold.  I am very blessed to say I have been given the porch set that was used in so many hours of rest and reflection.  Even though it is in need of a little TLC, it will have a prime spot on our front porch as well.
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We ended our visit with a small birthday celebration for my dad.  His birthday is not until next week, but we wanted to be able to have some cake and sing Happy Birthday.
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We bought him a book that he wanted and put it in a gift bag with some colorful tissue paper.  Addie couldn’t stand having an unopened present, so she begged and begged for Papa to go ahead and open it.  The look on her face was priceless when she saw it was a book.  She looked at the book and then grabbed the bag and looked in it checking for something else.  I said, “We got Papa a book for his birthday.  Isn’t that cool?”  This was her expression:

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Although she tried to look happy about it, she seemed a little confused and disappointed that all Papa got was a book!
I can’t wait to get our small farm going and growing in the years to come.  After getting the garden plot started, we plan on building a chicken coop and buying some chicks.  I will share the details as they happen!
Blessings,

Julie

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Let’s just call it a mini-breakdown, shall we???

It’s been one of those days.  We’re coming back from a week off for Fall Break.  No one’s in the mood to do school work while it’s so beautiful outside, but it’s something we must do.
I’ve been going through somewhat of a “spiritual rehabilitation” – for lack of anything better to call it.  Not so much in the sense that I am questioning God (his blessings are evident in the simplest of things in my life), but in my desire to do better and be more.  In evaluating, I’ve began questioning my abilities and motivations.
It all came to a peak as we were trying to get through math.  The kids didn’t have the best attitude and I heard “but I don’t get it” one too many times.  So, I snapped at them.  And then I felt guilty.  Then we all ate some Halloween candy and discussed attitudes, happy faces and happy hearts, schedules, and math.
It was so much better after a little chocolate.
I was reminded of this verse:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

I’m trying to maintain too much control on this path of life and need to remember to just lift it up to God.  I thought a project was in order, so we made these:

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(Excuse the poor photo quality…my good camera’s battery was dead!)
The banner came from Emily at Jones Design Company’s November Monthly Newsletter.
The deer silhouette came from here.  I cut it out and used some scrapbooking paper to enhance it.
I hope you have a wonderfully, blessed day!

Julie

Busy times…

What a whirlwind the last couple of weeks have been!  Hubby started his new job in Georgia on November 19th.  We weren’t very fond of the idea of him going down to stay in a hotel and the rest of us here, so we loaded up the kids and the car and headed down.  What an adventure it is to stay in a hotel with five people with four of them having nothing in particular to do while the other is at work.  Not to mention, one of those five is an almost two-year-old that is used to being in her own bed for naps and bedtime.  I’m just thankful we could all be together.

To prepare for the trip, I decided to cook a few meals to help save money.  This worked out really well.  Here is a pic of everything packed up for the first trip:

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The first thing I made was Pioneer Woman’s Best Lasagna Ever.  This has been a family favorite since I made it after buying her first cookbook.  The only thing I do differently is use Italian Seasoning instead of fresh herbs.  I do this because…well, because I’m too lazy to buy the herbs and chop them up.  It still turns out pretty darn good.

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The next thing I made is something called Easy Santa Fe Skillet.  I found this in a magazine a while back and I’m sorry to say I don’t remember which one.  It is similar to what I grew up calling goulash, but I use Velveeta in this.  Maybe not the healthiest thing, but tastes really good after sitting for a few days and then being reheated.  I also love that you only use one skillet to cook everything, including the pasta.

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Next, I made Easy Beef & Rice.  I really like this because I can add celery and onions and no one complains about it.  Of course, I have to cook them down first so that they are really tender, but it makes me feel better knowing they are in there.

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I also made a Breakfast Casserole.  This keeps pretty well too for a few days.  I usually use regular sandwich bread, but this time I used some Italian bread we had left over and it was AWESOME!

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I wanted to try to save on snacks as well.  I made a Chex mix and bought a few large bags of Cheez-its and carrots and separated everything in snack size baggies.

We were supposed to be in Georgia until the day before Thanksgiving and then come back to Tennessee.  However, my mom called me on the Tuesday before and “suggested” that since we were already half-way there, we might as well come home for Thanksgiving (to Florida).  I’m sure it’s this way in other parts of the country too, but when a Southern mama “suggests” something, it’s really no suggestion at all.  The thought hadn’t really crossed our minds because our Lola-dog was being boarded and we had only booked her through Wednesday.  Well, it worked out that she could stay longer and we headed to Florida.

I’m SO glad we did!  We had the best time.  It was a tough Thanksgiving for my family due to it being the first since my Granny and my cousin passed, but I felt like everyone lingered just a little longer.  Everyone seemed to pay attention just a little more to what was going on in each other’s lives.  The kids played hard (and so did some adults).  We also had a chance to celebrate our oldest son’s 11th birthday with all the fam.  I can’t believe he is 11 already.  He *wink-wink* is getting so old.  Here are a few pics (I have more, but they are on my sister’s camera and I’m waiting on her to share):

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We went on a hay ride (I promise there’s hay, just under the sleeping bags).

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That’s our girl – riding the trike with coozies on her arms.

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Baby A and Cousin G on the tractor.

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This is me (on the left) and my absolutely beautiful sisters with our 91-year-old Grandpa on Thanksgiving Day.

After hanging in Florida for the weekend, we had to go back to the hotel in Georgia for a few days.  Our Lola-dog was very excited to see us when we went to pick her up and has been my side ever since.  I keep telling her not to worry, that we’ll always come back for her, but that we don’t plan on leaving her for that long again.  I’m sure she understands.

It looks like it will be the end of this coming week before we close on the house.  I can’t wait to share the pictures and details and plans with everyone!

See ya on the flip side,

Julie

I’m still here…

This is a lame excuse, but I haven’t posted in so long because I feel like a need pictures in my post.  My computer still doesn’t “recognize” by big camera, but I found my small Canon the other day.  So, I promise to do better with posts and I’ll leave you with this beauty (someone got into the lotion without permission):

Making a house a home…

In our various adventures, I have set out to do just that…make a house a home.  No matter where it is or how long we will live there, I desire to make it as comfortable and “homey” as possible.  I have failed in this department.  I have gotten sidetracked by my desires to live in my own space.  It doesn’t help that our leases have been for three and six months.  By the time we have gotten good and settled, it is time to pack up again.  I’m tired of moving.  I’m tired of unpacking and packing boxes.

I’m having an overwhelming desire to knock down a wall or put up some moulding or paint the kitchen cabinets – none of which I can do while living in someone else’s home.

Don’t mind me, I’ve having my own little pity party.

I feel better now.

We are searching for our next (and hopefully, final) home.  I LOVE looking at houses online.  I REALLY love driving all over God’s creation seeing homes in person.  I immediately see the potential, or lack thereof, in each home I see.  Hot pink walls with light blue trim?  No problem.  I envision what it would look like with board and batten trim and crown moulding and the furniture just so.  1980’s oak kitchen cabinets?  Can’t you just see them painted the creamiest soft gray and white.  I know my fellow DIYers out there get what I’m sayin’.

I think I’m just feeling down and funky because everyone in my little family has had a sickness of some kind in the last couple of weeks.  We’ve been cooped up, stuffed up, coughed up, curled up, and spit up (on).  We’re not quite out of the woods, but are on the mend for sure.

One thing that always makes a house a home is making sure the heart of the home – the kitchen – is in full working order.  The rental we are in now has a smaller kitchen than I had in my first little two-bedroom apartment.  There is one drawer, very little counter space, no pantry, and I have to keep most of my pots and pans down in the basement.  However, I have done my best at organizing it and cleaning it up.  We have also done our best to eat at home only, especially for dinner, for the better part of a year now.  I recently signed up with eMeals and I tell you, I LOVE IT!  What a fantastic idea!  I haven’t put pen-to-paper yet, but I know it is saving us money.  And I KNOW it is saving me time.  To us, it has been well worth the cost of subscription.  Check them out:

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So, I will continue striving to make our house “homey” and more us (even with its weird yellow-y, kinda beige walls; yuck).  I do have some things in mind to help with that.  Here is my short list that I’ve just thought of while typing this:

  • Start doing our Table Talkers again
  • Reinstate a set night for Family Game Night
  • Bake from scratch more
  • Find a new lamp and side table/stand for the boy’s room so they can read at night
  • Start using my homemade cleaning products again
  • Finish sewing dining room chair covers
  • Make a duvet cover for our bed

I’m sure there are many more things I will think of as we get into the groove of things again.

So, tell me, what things or traditions make your house a home?