Hurricane Party

September meant that we got a little visit from Hurricane Irma’s aftermath.  We live far enough inland that we really only saw rain and a lot of wind and were without water for less than twenty-four hours.
We did food prep.

Me:  Hey Ceili Rain!  Do you want to make some chocolate chip cookies for Irma?

Ceili Rain:  Sure!  Just let me quadruple the recipe!

When the chocolate chip cookies didn’t fill us up, we resorted to cooking on our camp stoves…in the garage.

And s’mores with neighbors on the porch.

We were so grateful that we didn’t have to deal with any big damage or days without power.  So many people suffered through a lot this hurricane season and are continuing to rebuild and recover.

Step On It

We set July for our biggest project to date…removing and installing new floors on our first floor.  Our engineered hardwood was holding up okay (could have been better) but the carpet and the linoleum in the great room and kitchen were showing the wear and tear of eleven people plus animals.  We had been saving money and doing research and this month was the month to start.

First of all, we went with luxury vinyl wood look planks.  Scratching your heads yet?  Yeah we did too. When we started our research, I spoke with a sales associate at Lowe’s and gave her our demographics.  She introduced us to vinyl plank floors and I went home to do the research.  The more I learned, the more I knew that these floors would be a good fit for our family.  They are around the same price as engineered hardwood and laminate flooring.  Durable is an understatement.  Waterproof is a definite.  I ordered a ton of samples from Build Direct and finally landed on one that I loved.  However, in my pregnant brain, I ordered a different one.  To save money, we picked up the flooring in Atlanta and when Mark brought it home, I just sat and cried and cried.  However, I seriously did not want Mark to take another day to drive to Atlanta and back to return and pick up flooring.  So, I pulled up my big girl panties (as the saying goes) and decided to be happy with what Providence (and my negligence) brought us.

Installation was easy…but we did learn a lot.  First of all, do not start in the middle of the room and make sure you are staggering (don’t have two long pieces between a short pieces).  A vinyl floor cutter would make the process go smoother and a little faster.  Keep a tight fit on the pieces but also leave a small gap by the walls to allow for expansion.

Mark and his dad got the carpet pulled up.  All of us worked to get the linoleum up.

The biggest chore were the hardwoods.  Glued to a concrete slab and not wanting to permanently damage the concrete to where no one could glue anything down again, Mark had to work hard.  We tried everything. In the end,the best was renting a “stripper” and good ol’ elbow grease.  Mark worked one Saturday for eight hours.  A couple of weekends later,our pastor/friend came over and worked with Mark making the process go a lot faster.

So, here’s how we did the installation.  I will admit I spent the first week every night in tears.  We were trying to learn how to install.  My ever expanding belly and standing and sitting to install were getting to me.  And I was just convinced that we wouldn’t be able to finish before school started or Tobin arrived.  Mark was ever so patient.  The kids were amazing and little by little we were able to finish a few days before we planned to start school.  So, Mark and I worked late in to the evening.  The kids and I worked an hour or two in the morning and then an hour or two in the afternoon.  When my back couldn’t take much more and our school deadline approached, Mark came home early and got the big work done.

This was after the first night and my first panic attack. Zoe and Ace were invaluable!  We figured out the underlayment and they were my backbones to get it installed. Then when we worked big spaces, we quickly came up with a routine on how to lay/cut/install while Silas ran planks between us. Rearranging furniture brought in more organization for me. See the pantry door?  I figured out…on my own…how to work around it. The dining room went fast but we still had to get quarter round down and then realized we had to paint the trim…my trim looks brand new now though! Dining room/School room all done.  Now to get ready for school 2017 to 2018! Mark got the quarter round around the island painted a few days before Tobin was born.  Now, I can officially say our island is done! Everything is finished!

While I didn’t get the rustic look I originally wanted, I’m thrilled with the end product!  Mark and I learned, that while this project was a little draining, we can actually work together and our kids are super about working with us!  It feels great to know we did it!

Island Adventures

Here it is!  The long awaited kitchen island renovation.  We started work on the island in April.  I planned out two weeks without a dishwasher and island and Mark worked hard to get us working by then.  I think he did a great job!  Regardless, we didn’t get it fully finished until May.  Even now, we need to install our disposal button and fix a little bit of a leak.

So before:

The wonky angled sink and the the extremely high bar made the island counter space pretty much useless. (note our sweet Sunny girl who passed away at the end of May.  She was our sweet baby.)

And close to after. Right now, the floors are all torn up…new flooring is going in this month.

Here’s the process:

Getting the tile in.  We used white ceramic tile and some beautiful hand painted talavera tiles.We bought the cabinets and Mark started the planning process

Yes, I would have loved a farmhouse sink, but we found this one and the size and style was perfect.  We thought we wanted a double sink, but we did a lot more research and talking to others (i.e. surveying friends and Facebook peeps) and realized a large one bowl sink may be what will work.  After using it for over two months, I am in love with it.  We go the largest and deepest sink and it’s great for our large pans and dishes!  It’s also going to make a sweet bath for baby Tobin!

Industrial?  Commerical?  Sure, but it was just the style I wanted.

Demo day.  Mark got the bar granite removed while I was away but I got to watch the rest of the island come down.

Bye, bye crazy island set up.

Putting the cabinets in place. We did very little moving of the plumbing and Mark built a box around it to make it easy to get to if needed.  Saved us thousands of dollars in plumbing re-location.  One of the joys of a concrete slab. Since I know next to nothing about how to construct things, I got to paint.  See, I’m the visionary and Mark is the one who makes it happen.

The night before we tiled the counter, was spent arranging, rearranging and sending pictures to friends for approvals and ideas.

Finally decided what we wanted.

The next morning, we go to work.  I did most of the tiling.  Mark did a lot of the cutting.

The couple who grouts together, stays together…right?!  After we finished grouting the whole thing, we we went out on our cruise.  We were exhausted but it was the perfect way to relax.

Mark turned gray from a day of cutting tile!


My parents have a lot of stuff because they have an antique booth, go to estate sales, and are frequent auction attendees.  As such, when I mentioned I needed drawer pulls, my mom told me to shop with them first.  And I did.  I found these brass and ceramic pulls that I thought would look great with our already decked out island.  Just needed some slight updating.  

A good ol’ cleaning eraser and some oil-rubbed bronze spray paint….Ta Da!  Brand new drawer pulls.

This island has been wonderful!  We have plenty of room to do meal preps, and all the other things we need to do.  Because we took out the bar, and set it at a proper rectangle, we also have a much wider space.  Our living room looks huge!  I can not wait to get the floors in and see it all finished up (and to get my house put back together.).

Lock it Up

We are at the end stages of a big kitchen renovation but before that started, we were busy in January finishing up some projects that were waiting on us.

First up was my locker re-do.  I have been on the hunt for old school lockers that we could use in our mudroom.  In December, I happened across a vintage store about two hours from home that had these old uniform lockers for $50 each!

I snatched up two of these-a total of sixteen small lockers. They were the ugly, boring gray lockers.  Very dirty.  We scrubbed them clean, took off every single lock and started the project.

My new red lockers.  It took about six cans of spray paints and about four primer spray paint cans.  It was worth the time it would have taken to hand roll all of these.

They fit perfectly in our mudroom!

I added our old cubbies for purse storage and some other minor things.  We had to get a step stool for the boys who couldn’t quite make it to hang their jackets.  Oh yeah, each locker has a rod to hang coats!  What!?  These were well worth the time and money we put in to them.  All shoes are organized and jackets are in their place.  When we get back in to minor repairs and updates, we’ll get the painting done from where we had hooks hanging up.

Girls Room Redo

I don’t know where I got this wild hair to redo the girls room.  Oh wait…it started with Mark being gone to Ukraine.  While he was gone, I decided to finally redo the kitchen table.  While getting paint for that, I found paint chip samples that I thought the girls would like.  They did.  We finally decided to work on their rooms in December. Mark painted while Emmie was at an appointment.

The blue is the new color.

We decided to swap out the girls beds to give them more space.  Our friends were getting rid of their old bunk beds and we grabbed them up.

We painted the girls beds but the girls’ were ready for their new layout before the beds were ready.  The girls’ new bedding came with a pillow that didn’t really match.  Enter matching fabric that I used to cover the pillows.
And the vanity chair.  Actually, Zoe did the chair.  She didn’t want to paint it, preferring the shabby shic. I found some really cute vinyl decals we put up on the long wall. I also added the fabric to to the top of the white curtains.We added shelves for some storage.

I also updated, added and improved on the girls hair clip board.  It turned out better than I though.  Room for flexis and Emmie’s precious bows she loves to wear.


A bit last minute last year, but we managed to squeeze in some pumpkin decoration before October ended. While Mark worked on our chosen designs to carve, the kids got to work painting baby pumpkins.
While he continued to work, they started rolling down the hill. I mustache you if this was a cute pumpkin!

We worked on a pumpkin with a message.  The design in the back worked but I didn’t print out the words with enough gaps.  So, we had to write out the words instead of carve them.

The Find

We have a neighborhood trade page on Facebook.  This can be a good thing or a bad thing.  You know, you run across a thingamajig that can do whatsit and it’s only a buck.  So, you grab it and throw it in a cabinet never to be heard from again, or at least until you reach in, find it, and then list it on the trade page for fifty cents.

That may be the bad, but the good can go oh, so good.  For instance:

img_20160412_184406166 img_20160412_184414143 img_20160412_184439128

This beautiful armoire was $25!  Yes, that’s right, TWENTY-FIVE SMACKAROOS!  I snagged it in April with the intention of painting and selling it for profit.  As it sat and I brainstormed what to do with it, I decided I couldn’t let it go.

And a plan came together…img_20160418_222311088


And a project piece armoire became…



A dress-up closet.

We tallied the cost and with the paint, scrapbook paper, stain and poly, we were under $100 for the whole project.  The kids love it!  I love it!  And I definitely think it went from trash to treasure.  Woo-hoo!

End of the Rainbow

Spring!  There is nothing like it as we soak in the cool days, blooming flowers and the smell of rain.  After the rain, comes the rainbow.  For some reason, the past few years have brought many beautiful rainbows to our area.  At the beginning of May, I even drove through one!  I had never seen a double rainbow until a year a few years ago.  Now, we see them at least once a year.

In March, we were heading out after a thunderstorm in the early evening and got to spot another double rainbow.  There’s so much joy and hope that we experience when we see that rainbow (double or not).
IMG_20160314_183856514 Emmie had had her surgery.  We were through that hurdle.  We were waiting.  Watching.  Healing.  And then we see the rainbow.  A reminder that God is there.  That He is in control.  Every time I see a rainbow, I am reminded of God’s everlasting love and care for us.  No matter what we go through, He is there.IMG_20160314_183915462_HDRI have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. -Genesis 9:13


Sweet Sixteen

In April, 20 years ago, Mark showed up at a young 18 year old’s house with a dozen purple roses and escorted her to her senior prom.  I don’t think (and still don’t) he knew what he was getting in to.

Neither of us could have ever imagined that four years and one month after that first date that he would meet that same girl at a church altar to join his life to hers.

And of course, sixteen years later, eight kids on US earthside, one on European soil and three babies in heaven…hospital adventures, family travel adventures, seeking God adventures and home school adventures.  And here we are.  Sixteen years.

I knew that 16 year old young man would have my heart forever that first night 20 years ago.  I could not have imagined the rock he would become.  The forgiveness he would extend daily for me.  The example of Christ’s love that he would be for me.  I am blessed.

Happy Anniversary, Mark!  My knight!  I would go anywhere with you!

Our life is crazy and so out-of-the-ordinary-insane but you have stuck with me through it and we’ve attacked, prayed and enjoyed it each step of the way together!  I love you.


I can’t leave this post without saying something about this picture!  First, it was our 20th anniversary date in April.  Second, I found this dress that fit in all the right places and loved it.  It’s the first time in a long time that I have loved what I looked like in a dress.  And last, notice the photobomber in the background.  Yep.  Our life and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Thanksgiving 2015

IMG_20151126_124215207_HDR IMG_20151126_131151973_HDRIt took me a good week to sleep off the jet lag which meant that when Thanksgiving came around, I was just coming out of the fog.  We managed to pull together a spread for our family.  We rotate our Thanksgiving every year.  One year we’ll hit up Grandmere and Papa’s house.  The next year is Ge and Granddaddy’s turn and then the third year is at home.  I love to cook Thanksgiving dinner.  It’s my absolute favorite meal.  This year, despite the fog, was no exception.  The only thing that could have made the day even more awesome would have been having Y home.

We made the most of it.  I even made homemade cranberry sauce which was yummy and super easy!


Mark enjoyed the turkey leg.  Renaissance faire, anyone?!


I made pies.  While they looked lovely, they did not taste too yummy.  Oh well, we’ll try for next year.


We played outside with neighbors and made silly faces…IMG_20151126_172047512 IMG_20151126_172051905_HDRuntil it got dark.  Then we made a fire and roasted marshmallows!IMG_20151126_185956352

After Zoe got a couple of hours of sleep, I woke her up and we hit the sales (don’t freak out.  It was midnight).   IMG_20151127_043414069

We shopped with my friend, Tracy, until 7 in the morning!  And we missed all the crowds but still got all the deals.  Insane exhaustion ensued but we had a wonderful time!