Dean.

This guy just turned 7.

dean2dean 4dean

 

Yikes! I can’t believe my baby is that old! And it’s been never a dull moment since he came into the world. He’s keeping us smiling (the things that come out of his mouth!), dancing (he likes to come up with “new moves”), laughing (the expressions he can make!) and sleeping well at night, in order to re-coup and keep up with him the next day.

He had a mishap around the pool last weekend so we got ourleselves an introduction to the local children’s hospital near to our new home. He ended up with 7 stitches but received so much attention from the family I don’t think he minded the whole ordeal! When I mentioned putting a healing oil onto his wound to help reduce scarring, he told me, “No, I want a scar. Scars make you look tough.” Since that fateful night of stitches–with siblings and parents, an aunt, an uncle and cousins fawning all over him about it–he’s run into opportunity for a few other more minor injuries as well. If I didn’t know how much it is annoying him due to the hindrance of swimming time, I would think he was purposeful about it!

I tucked him into bed last night, his foot wrapped with medical tape, a Band-aid on his thumb and a rather large scar on his left shin, fresh-free of stitches. I thought to myself, “Man, he looks tough!” 😉

–Beth

dean driving golf cart 3  dean driving golfcartdean driving golf cart 2

Dining Room Re-do, Part 1.

Every year, nearing the end of summer, I go through something equivalent to the “nesting” a pregnant woman experiences toward the end of her pregnancy. Each year when August rolls around, as a homeschooling mom, I feel the need to get the house all in order and our school areas organized and beautiful. I love to set up a study area for the kids and me that is pretty, tidy, and functional. This year is no exception. However, it’s a little different in that we are still moving into our new house!

2 summers ago, we began our school year on picnic tables under outside our camper we were living in while we remodeled our home in Maryland. This year, in our “new to us” Florida home, our dining room will be serving us two-fold: for mealtime and school time. Therefore, it has become my latest room in focus. With classes scheduled to begin next week, we’ve chosen this week to be our “soft start” for school. We’ll be painting the room, refinishing the Craigslist dining table, getting each of the kids’ school books organized and typing up daily and weekly planners. I may even squeeze in a lesson or two of math! (This is where all 5 of our kids would emit a collective groan!)

Here are some before shots of the dining room/study we’re working on:

dining room before 2 dining room before 3dining room, before paint

The color is a blend between mauve and terracotta — I really couldn’t teach the kids in these conditions!

And here is the before shot, courtesy of Craigslist, of the table and chairs we’ll be working on, and next week (if all goes as planned), we’ll be eating and studying at:

dining table before 2 dining table before

One could fit a small army around it, and has great legs so I can’t wait to make it beautiful! 

Stay tuned for a posting of the “after” look. I’m excited about how it’s going to turn out, if I can get the idea for it out of my head and onto the table! 

–Beth 🙂

Girls’ Room Re-do.

When we decided to start painting our “new-to-us” house in Florida, Ken and I both agreed to paint our girls’ room first. The room they ended up making theirs was a grain mustard color with dingy blue drapes, and not at all appropriate for two young ladies. Here are some before pictures. I think you’ll agree it had to go!

girls' room before 1 girls room before 2 girls room before 3

We also wanted to switch up the bed situation. The layout wasn’t flowing like we wanted it to. The twin beds weren’t working for the space. Since the girls ended up sharing a twin bed most of the time, we decided to use the beautiful full size bed given to us by a friend of my parent’s. It had previously been our guest room bed, but since we anticipate more visitors in Florida than we had in Maryland, we knew we wanted to upgrade the guest bed to a queen size. So we brought the bed from the guest room and then decorated with everything we already had. We decided the room needed an area rug to soften the space and quiet it a bit, so we found one on clearance in Target! It’s an indoor/outdoor carpet and very easy to clean. We love how it pops in the room! We also picked up the night tables at an antique market in a nearby quaint town called Oviedo. Ken and his brother David and all the kids were very patient while my sister-in-law and I scoured the place. But we came away with the night tables so it was a successful visit! It all came together quite beautifully and the girls are really happy with the room. I’m so glad! The colors throughout the space blend so nicely and I can use pink, purple, grey and aqua (as you see a lot of in the photos) as accents. The color we used on the wall is called Coquette, from the Baer paint collection. Enjoy these “after” shots:

girls room after 1 girls room after 3 girls room after 4 girls room after 6 girls room after 7 girls room after 8

girls room after 2

It’s so much cheerier and brighter now! A beautiful room for beautiful girls!

girls (2)

–Beth 🙂

An Afternoon Treat.

We’d had a busy week. It was Friday and we all felt like having a little fun. And a treat! We had been hearing about a great ice cream place called Jeremiah’s – Italian ice, to be exact. So the kids and I headed over there in the afternoon, since Ken had a work appointment and would be a little late. We took our nephew, Jonathan. Since he is a regular there, he helped us know what was most tasty. We each ordered at the window, and then sat at a table with an umbrella – it was a hot afternoon, and our gelati (Italian ice layered with soft serve ice cream) was such a treat! If you ever have the chance to get an ice cream, Italian ice, or gelati at Jeremiah’s, take the opportunity. You won’t be sorry! Our crowd ordered chocolate ice cream, sour apple Italian ice, sour apple gelati, strawberry lemon gelati, and cotton candy gelati. I would recommend them all (well, the sour apple Italian ice wasn’t my favorite). I sampled every variety. 🙂

Beth

at jeremiah's 1

It cracks me up that Dean couldn’t take the time to look up from his ice cream while the picture was being taken!

 

 

 

 

New Digs — a photo tour.

As most of you are familiar with, we moved from a beautiful home in Maryland that we had recently remodeled. Now we’ve moved into a beautiful home in Florida, but it’s not recently remodeled (well, except for the pool — more on that later!). Here are some shots of the house very soon after moving in. It is wonderfully “live-able” but also has plenty of future projects for us to dream about. Good thing I’m married to such a handy man!

Here is the view from the front; we’ve already pulled the picket fencing. The front yard is much larger than the fence encompasses and it chopped up the yard, also making cutting the grass within the fence possible only by push mower. It looks much more “open” now with it out. 

front of house, before fence takeout

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the side view; it’s what you see as you pull up the driveway. We love the palm trees!

front of house, from driveway

This is the great room — a family room/kitchen combo. We are getting used to the commotion and noise level produced by sound bouncing off high ceilings and wood floors and an open floor plan.

And with our family, there are plenty of sounds bouncing!

We have plans to update the lighting, and “quiet” the backsplash. It’s a tad busy for our taste. We eat many meals at the table in the kitchen and need to get a table for our dining room so we can have more dinners together in there.

family room to kitchen view                                                 

Another shot from the family room to the kitchen. It’s fun being able to observe most of the kids’ interactions while I am busy in the kitchen — a room I spend much of my time!

kitchen and family room combo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are a couple more angles of the great room. The kids’ bedrooms are upstairs, where you see the balcony railings. It’s so convenient to just call up my orders and instruction to the kids! There is a boys’ room and a girls’ room and a bathroom for them to share. Oh, and what a terrific ledge is in the family room — perfect for housing Ken’s carved decoy collection!

 kitchen to family room.jpg 2 family room, view coming in from lanaikitchen to family room

I’m still playing “musical furniture” with the place. I am so thankful that most of the furniture we brought with us is fitting quite nicely. I’ve listed a few pieces on Craigslist and found a few as well. I’ve even been able to “barter” some of my pieces for some of my sister-in-law’s pieces! It’s been quite handy!

And now for the fun part — the pool! Wow, what a blessing this has been. Sometimes it’s still hard to believe we are able to enjoy such a luxury daily, right in the backyard! There is a lovely hot tup that spills into the pool. We’ve even been sitting in the tub while a rainbow arched over the side yard. Just beautiful! This pool was put in less than a year ago and was well-designed..pool

Dean gives it a thumbs up! This is the view from the lanai. You’ll notice the barn in the background. We hope to pull it down sometime and relocate it because we have a great big backyard to view but the barn blocks it.view from lanai to pool

The lanai has a lot of space to work with. Thinking a ping pong table may find it’s way here eventually! 🙂

lanai, continued

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lanai has some really cool screen panels that push all the way open or can be fully closed. This is the view from the pool area.view from pool to lanai

Finally, the front porch. We briefly discussed how taking the railings down could give it even a more spacious feel. So one rainy Sunday afternoon, Ken just hacked right into those old railings. We do love the way it looks. We have columns to work on but it’s just fine for now. 

porch railing takeout

As I said, we’ve got plenty to enjoy and plenty to work on in the future. I’ll keep you posted as we make updates around the place and give you more detail on each room. I’ve already been picking out paint!

–Beth 🙂

 

From here on out.

Well, I have spent many late nights trying to email, re-send and then email again . . . with only about a 50% success rate. I have discovered that a certain number of my intended recipients are not receiving said emails due to the attached photos. I narrowed it down to only 5 photos per email and they’re *still* not going through! Ugh. So, I’m resorting to posting photos here on the blog instead of trying to bulk email friends and family. I just don’t care for the thought of some getting the emails and some bouncing back — and I don’t know who it’s bouncing back from! It’s taking quite a lot of brain power on my end to keep trying to make sure this group or that loved one hears from me, so going forward you’ll find updates and photos here. Check back often or, better yet, click the “follow” button so you don’t miss a post or picture! Thanks for your patience while we’ve been sorting these technology issues out — it’s definitely not my strong suit! For now, feast your eyes on this — I have 3 of these bushes right in front of our garage. They’re just beautiful and I get to enjoy it every time we pull up to the house.                             — Beth 🙂

hibiscus

Balsamic Glaze Crackers and Cheese Appetizers

brie crackers

I made that name up. I am basically just calling it what it is. Pretty boring! But don’t be fooled; these little babies are anything but boring! Easy. Delicious. Gourmet (at least to me). But not boring. Some of the kids and I were at Costco a few weeks ago, and spent a ridiculous amount of money on food. It was my first trip to Costco since moving into our new place and we were in some definite need to stock the pantry. Seriously, I got *a lot* of comments from fellow shoppers about our cart. Maybe it’s Florida?? Maybe people don’t buy as much food here?? I can hardly believe that. Either which way, others seems surprised that I had my cart full to the brim (ok, overflowing) with the goods that a wholesale warehouse has to offer. It was my first trip to a Florida Costco. My partner in crime and now Costco-loving sister-in-law was with me — yep, she’s a fan now.

Anyhow, one of the sample stations was serving this simple little snack. So we partook. And we enjoyed every last morsel! Even Dean, our 6 year old, liked it. So much so that he went back to ask the sample server what aisle we could find the balsamic glaze on and made sure I got it. (Truth be told, I didn’t get it. I knew I had a raspberry balsamic reduction at home so I tried to make these with that first — didn’t fly. He made SURE that we got the real stuff the next time we went back :D.)

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the recipe. It is good. So, gather up these items (we got them all from Costco, but I bet you could find similar selections from any grocery store):

Brie crackers 2

Ancient Grains Crackers, Brie cheese, and Balsamic Glaze reduction (the reduction is key; don’t try it with regular vinegar)

Lay your crackers onto a baking sheet and place on each a small slice of Brie. Or a large one, if that’s what floats your boat. Bake in the oven — I set mine at 350 — for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is warm and soft. Pull out the pan and drizzle each beautiful cheese-laden cracker with the balsamic reduction. Pop one or two into your mouth. Serve a few around to those who have gathered from the delicious aroma of melted Brie. Then eat a couple more.

We’ve enjoyed these as an appetizer while waiting for someone (me!) to finish cooking dinner. We’ve enjoyed them while waiting for someone (me, again) to finish preparing lunch. Actually, we’ve just enjoyed them. And we think you will, too!

 

— Beth 🙂

Bittersweet.

If ever an event were to fit that description, this would be it: our family’s move. It is the eve before our leave . . . tomorrow we’re off to establish ourselves as residents of Florida! Yes, a beautiful place—the Sunshine State—full of new places to visit, people to meet and minister to, adventures to experience, and family members to love on. Sweet, for sure.

We have racked up precious memories with dearly loved friends and family in our home state of Maryland over our 15 ½ years of marriage . . . we fell in love, courted and made vows; welcomed 5 children into our family; bought our first home; buried loved ones; laughed with friends; cried with them, too; known great joy and great sorrow. We will cherish what we’ve experienced over those years. Those memories and loved ones are what make “going” so tough. Therein lies the bitter.

And yet, our family is excited about this next step in our journey throughout life. We believe this will draw us closer, knit our hearts together in an even more precious way than they already are. We look forward to having the family we love and friends we’ve collected through the years come and visit. How busy we all are and how often we get caught up doing our own things – our family has been guilty of being weighed down with our “to-do list” and forgetting what really matters: relationships. It is our desire to build deeper ones as we share meals together under the same roof with our houseguests; serving them, feeding them, entertaining them and catching up with them.

If it’s one thing we know, it’s that times change and life goes on. It’s that Jesus goes before us, and comes behind us, seamlessly weaving our lives into a beautiful tapestry. We see only one strand at a time, and sometimes not even that. Yet, as we look back, we observe a bigger portion of the work of art and say, “Ahhh, I see. It is beautiful.” Our God has always been faithful, and will continue to be. We eagerly await what He will do in our future!

We like to think we’re not really saying, “Goodbye” . . . but more or less, “See you later!” For we do indeed hope to see so many in the future! While we head down the 95 South corridor tomorrow–, our hearts will be overwhelmed with so many emotions. Which, as I have so often leading up till this moment,  will turn into prayers – for safety, encouragement, comfort and blessing. For us, and for all those saying goodbye to us. For those waiting to say hello when we arrive at our Florida destination.

We’ll have tears, knowing we leave so many sweet times and people in Maryland.  And we’ll have smiles, knowing so much adventure and many new relationships lie ahead of us in Florida.

Yes, truly bittersweet. It’s comforting knowing that the word ends with sweet.

Beth