Monthly Archives: January 2015

Swoon Party

You see – I am not much of a shopper.  Now, window shopping… I am the queen of window shopping.  But actually purchasing items is not something that I do very often.

Call me a cheap-o, because that is sometime the reason, but mostly… call me lazy.  Shopping can just be so much work.

I know I know… #firstworldproblems

And pointers has helped a lot, that’s for DANG sure.  But I often end up getting burned because things never fit me the way that they do on the cute Pinterest girls.  *le sigh

What’s a girl to do?  This is where window shopping comes in.  But then occasionally (read: not even remotely frequently), I actually pull the trigger.  And when I do, it tends to be for quite a bit of stuff at one time.  Thankfully, that’s allowable because I save up my spending money while I’m window shopping the rest of the year.  So when spending time does come around – I am ready!!  I also tend to use Stitch Fix (which I am so stoked to tell you about!), so that also tends to keep me happy.

I haven’t quite figured out if spending time is coming or not because I have been eyeing quite a few adorable things, lately, that I can’t seem to shake off.  Wanna see?

Of course you do!  😀

Here they are, in no particular order:

1.  THESE shoes.  Oh my WORD they are adorable.  I can already picture so many outfits to wear them with – with skinnies… with bootcuts… and ALLL the sweaters!  Is it just me?  They are so stinking adorable and I love me some TOMs.

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2.  This shirt… I’m pretty sure I could live in this shirt.  It’s completely adorable.  How is it that Anthropologie seems to know exactly what I need?  Aaaaaaand then price it so I really shouldn’t buy it.  *le sigh

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3.  These. Boots. I need them… or something just like them, anyway.  They are perfect and though I don’t normally purchase shoes from American Eagle, this may be worth changing that pattern.

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4.  Oh my word… this top.  Again, Anthropologie… what in the WORLD?!  Have you mastered mind reading or something?  Yeah… ok… I just decided to buy this.  It’s happening.

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5.  Gingham.  ANYthing gingham.  It must have gingham in my wardrobe.

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6.  Almost anything from this site.  The Blue Door Boutique is filled adorable pieces that I am constantly eyeing up.  Case in point… this one.  And I know from experience that they value their customers – when I placed my first order a year or so ago, they included a pair of earring for FREE.  Just for being a new customer.  How cute and just freaking awesome is that?!

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So there ya have it.  I’m currently swooning on a BUNCH of stuff.  And even though the buying doesn’t tend to happen very often, the swooning never ends.

I’d love to know wha you think about these items.  But more importantly – what are you guys eyeing up these days?

~Hope

Build Me Up, Buttercup

When we bought our home, we did so knowing that it was way more house than we would ever need.  Even once we bring home some littles, it’s still a really large house.

Based on the fact that we live in Texas, cost-of-living means that even though our house is large, we didn’t pay a crazy amount of money for it.  In fact, having moved here from Maryland, spending this amount of money on a house was completely standard (on the lower end, probably) and yielded WAY more square footage than it would have back there… and that’s putting it mildly.

But I said all of that to say this… buying a big house means that you are signing up for a LOT of work.  It takes way longer to clean (which I despise anyway), it took a lot more effort to decorate for Christmas, and when it comes to writing out a list of all of the things we’d like to do to fix the pace up… well that list is loooooooooong, people.

One thing that I’ve decided to add to the list this weekend is the Office/Craft Room.  You see – it’s currently packed with stuff.  There’s just stuff… everywhere.  The mess got much better once I actually starting hanging decor around the house since it had been the dumping grounds for all decor-related items when we were unpacking, but there’s still just a bunch of crud sitting aallll over the place.

Here’s the space we’re working with:

OfficeEntrance

It’s right off the entry and has a large, nicely shaped window to let in massive amounts of natural light.

Unfortunately, the previous owners (or the builders… sometimes we can’t figure out who did what) put these cheapy white plantation-style shutters framed around the window, so you lose the nice shape AND the broken shutters keep all of that gorgeous natural light out.  Granted, I could open the shutters, but they are all broken… so it would take manually flipping each piece of wood open by hand and then manually closing each one at night.  And I frankly don’t care enough to do that, especially since I have been avoiding that room at all costs due to its current state.

We currently have so much stuff piled into this room that the only way to deal with it was to shut the doors, keep the shutters closed, and pretend it doesn’t exist.  Obviously.

But in the real world, it needs some serious attention.  It’s even got this massive closet that is just screaming with potential:

ClosetFull

It sits in the corner opposite the window wall and is almost impossible to get a decent shot of.  But I promise I tried!  See?

ClosetInside

Between the lighting and the placement of the current furniture pieces, it’s just not happening.  But hopefully you can still tell how massive it is.  Because once all of that storage stuff is removed, there is going to be “SO much more room for activities!!”  (name that movie!)

Now… daydream with me if you will and go with me to a magical place – an imaginary perfect world.  Let’s first imagine that the walls are not yellow any longer.  This is the same color that 90% of my house is currently painted with, but that’s definitely not going to remain the case.  So that’d be the first thing to go in this room, too.

Then, imagine no more clutter.  Let’s pretend it’s even possible to do visualize that… this is my imaginary perfect world, after all.  And then… picture some built-ins on this window wall.

Shelves on both sides and a window bench below the window itself.  Something perhaps similar to this:

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Can’t you just see it?  And with the curve of the window adding even more visual interest, I think it’d be just gorgeous.  And that it would perfectly bring purpose to this Office.  And brightening up that space with some real natural light – well that will do a WORLD of good in this space.

And check this one out:

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Yeah.  If I wasn’t already, I’m sold on it now for sure.

With the built-ins on that wall, I’ll have to get creative with some things on the wall to its left (looking at the window) so that it doesn’t seem so empty.  But ideally the desk will be on a nice, large area rug and floating in the middle of the room.

And since it’s an office and not a bedroom, I plan to switch out the fan for a nice statement light of some kind… but I’m not sure if that’s going to happen for sure, considering the fact that not having a fan in a room is practically blasphemous in Texas.

Anywho, that’s one more thing on our large list of dreams that we call our “to do” list.  This house may be big, but we really want it to feel cozy and inviting.  And little by little, we will get it there someday.

So let’s hear it – what big house projects are you dreaming up these days?  It doesn’t matter if you don’t think it’s realistic or if you think you’ll ever get to it, I’d still LOVE to hear about it! 🙂

~Hope

Pushing Through

Today I’m feeling awfully bummy.

And not just because I’ve somehow cracked the code and managed to wear my pajamas all day, but also because I’m in a mood.  Back when I started telling you about our desire to grow our family, I mentioned that although most of the time I go through my days with plenty of pep in my step and without obsessing or focussing on the fact that I’m not “there” yet.  But today… a lot of things are weighing on me.

It started out as a great day, just like most.  When I got up this morning, the sun was shining awfully bright (putting a break in the string of yucky, rainy days we’ve had lately), and I had plans to finally start fiddling with my new Silhouette Craft Machine, which I can’t wait to tell you about.

But as the day went by, I just started to feel more and more weighed down.

It’s not as simple as one might think.  I don’t always know exactly what’s bothering me or what it is that’s making me feel that way, and it doesn’t always start to pile up.  But today it did.  And after spending some time reflecting and doing some evaluating, I think I’ve pinpointed several of the things that are fighting for attention.

First, and most glaringly, our lack of children.  I’m still not allowing myself to obsess over it, but it’s still there.

Then there’s the lack of friendships in our new home area.

And also the fact that we haven’t yet found a church in the area.

Also, not feeling like I have a grasp on everything that we want done in this house, or like I’ll ever realistically pull the trigger on any of the hundreds of projects I daydream about on a regular basis.

This is starting to sound like a lot of whining.  I’m sorry about that.  It wasn’t my intention.  I did, however, promise to be real here.  And that’s really all this is.  The truth is that there’s quite a lot that seems to be getting to me today, and although any of these things on their own wouldn’t be enough to shake me… having all of it seem to creep up to the foreground at once is more than enough.

So today, I am shaken.  I am sad.  I am weighed down by the things in my life that I am less than thrilled about.  And it won’t go on… I can promise you that.  I will let myself have this day and then I will pick myself up by my bootstraps, brush off the glum, and carry on.

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I will be happy.  I will be satisfied with my daily life.  I will be content in the season in which God has me, and I will be grateful for all of the blessing… the ridiculous amount of blessings in my life.  Because that’s what really matters.

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I guess I just feel that sometimes you need to allow yourself to acknowledge the things that you don’t like so that you can get past them and move on.

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How are you all doing, today?  And be honest.  I’m not one of those people who asks and hopes to just get a simple “fine”… I’d rather know how you’re really doing and smile and laugh with you when you’re doing well, cry with you when you’re not, and pray with you through it all.

~Hope

Color Theory, Part III

I finally did it!

I took out the camera (read: not the iPhone) and took some pics of the Master bedroom so that you can see how the color actually translated in our space.  This is the moment of truth… this is when you either decide I’m super crazy and possibly color blind, OR you join me in my sorrow and admit that it’s not just me!

Don’t know about you,butI’m really pulling for that last one.

Anywho, instead of stretching this out too much further I will jump right to the chase.  As a reminder of how far we’ve come, here’s the “before” collage again:

Yeah.  It IS just as bad as you remembered.  That part is unfortunately not only true, but forever burned into my memory.

And now for the big reveal, here’s the “after” picture (and hopefully soon just a “progress” picture in the journey to a winning, permanent color

*drumroll please*

Agh!  See how not warm and greigey it is?  Not. At. All.

Remember, THIS is what we were hoping for when we picked Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter:

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But instead, we ended up with some kind of iced blue-grey color.. which may not be bad for some spaces or tastes, but this is quite a large room, and having all of the walls this ice-grey just turns the space into a cold, wintry, uber boring space.  And that’s SO not what I was going for.

I wanted the warmth of the image above.  The crisp, neutral color that would play well with pretty much anything I put in there.  It’s lighten up the space, but keep it feeling cozy.  It it isn’t too brown or yellow… but it is JUST right.

Welp – that perfect color still eludes me.  And for now, I wake up every morning to quick albeit fleeting, a moment of panic that I’ve been thrown unwillingly into an insane asylum.  And that’s NOT a fun feeling… especially for someone like me who occasionally wonders if they aren’t too far off from being qualified for an extended stay.

So for now, this is what we are dealing with:

In the interest of full disclosure, there are very brief moments in the day, in very small corners of the room, where the sunlight hits the walls just right and we see a tinge of that warmth we were looking for when we decided to pull the trigger on this color selection:

MB-EntryCorner

And it’s JUST enough to drive me absolutely batty.  Because when I happen to be in the room during these fleeting moments of warmth, I wonder how it could possibly have translated so poorly throughout the majority of the day and on the majority of the wall space.  Because THAT is eXACTly what I wanted to walls to look like!

But noon.  That’s WAY too easy, Hope.

So when I see this warmth peek through, there’s a part of me that wonders if I should just try sticking with this color, but having it mixed at 125 or maybe 150%.  Perhaps going just a skosh darker would be just the ticket to bringing out more of that warmth we were hoping for.

But instead, we have this.

Although it is definitely temporary, we’re not sure when it’ll bump back up on the priority list enough for us to actually repaint the room (especially considering it took us about 2.5 days to do it the first time).  And frankly, when that time does finally come, I’m not sure I’ll be comfortable enough with committing to another color that may end up steering me wrong yet again.  Because doing this a THIRD time just sounds crazy!

So… that’s where we sit.  I keep from hanging any decor in our room because I just want to repaint it anyway.  Well, that and the fact that I want to find and refinish a dresser to replace the one we currently have, so it seems almost silly to put a room together with all of this still up in the air.

And don’t get me wrong – the change from the before to the after/progress pics is still a HUGE improvement.  And waking up in a stark cold room seems like more of a clean slate then dealing with the baby poo yellow ANY day of the week.  I just wish that I didn’t feel like we wasted 2.5 days of work for nothing.  :/

Now that you’ve seen it… What do you think?  Has anyone else had such bad luck with picking paint colors?  And let’s hear it – do you think I”m crazy for being so disappointed, or do you agree that it is MUCH colder than it appears in the inspiration pictures?

~Hope

Color Theory, Part II

A few months back, when we finally got around to painting our Master bedroom, I mentioned in this post that it didn’t turn out so hott.

Well, I thought I should maybe show you what I meant so that I could 1) prove it, and 2) see if it’s just me.

As per usual when referencing pictures taken prior to 2015, I have some pretty poor quality visuals for you, but its going to have to do since I can’t “tuuurrrrn back tiiiime”…which would actually be super helpful at times like there where you spend time, money, and effort on something that does NOT turn out as hoped (also, you’re welcome for the song that is now stuck in your head. Point for Me! *selfhighfive).

To start, here’s what our bedroom looked like when we moved in:

So. Much. Awesome.  Right?!

Oofta (shout out to my northern peeps!).

I had almost forgotten how bad it was.  And frankly, as per typical quick-snap iPhone photos – this doesn’t even do it justice.  Imagine the golden-yellowy color to be more of a… we… actually it was quite literally the color of newborn poo.  You know, post tarry black muck, but pre-real poos.  Yeah.  It is exactly that color.

Also, you’re welcome for the poo reference.

And the navy blue was… well… somehow, even though the baby poo yellow didn’t translate, the blue almost did.  Mostly so in the top left shot within the image.  Quick – someone tell me if these are some college team colors, somewhere.  Help me make sense of this!!

*sigh

I just don’t get it.

I do wish I could locate the pics that this house was listed with, because although it doesn’t seem all that bad in those pictures, it really proves that there wasn’t a lot of intention with regard to these paint colors, either.  It’s not as though they had some furniture pieces or bedding or curtains that they were trying to tie together.  Nothing like that.  I suppose I am just left wondering.

movingrightalong

We started painting.  And we aren’t ones to prime unless the colors are drastically different or there are multiple colors in a wall (stripes, texturing techniques, planets – yep. I said planets.  Just you wait.).

The first thing I did was set out to touch up the trim.  And quickly discovered that it was NOT white.  I’m sure this isn’t unusual for most of you, but where I moved here from, everything was stark white.  If it was white, it was WHITE.  So I didn’t think twice when I picked up the pint of high gloss white paint to touch-up the trim around the house.  Yeah… that didn’t quite work.

Oh and also, our ceiling isn’t white, either.  Oddly enough, it’s not even the same color throughout.  The previous owners were not smokers, but it has allowed in some spots and become this interesting variety of shades of white and ivory.

Trippy.

Upon discovering the fun variety of whites in the room, I had a “screw it” moment and decided to just go for it on the walls.  I could just com back and touch up the trim and paint the ceiling later – it’s not the best way to paint, but it certainly wasn’t going to ruin anything in the long run.  Why not.  Let’s just get this mess DONE already!

So I went to down.  Painted along the trim with a brush, first.  Then along the ceiling (where I’d decided that the baby poo yellow was bad enough to just paint over… even if it wasn’t a straight line… and it was the right call.  Even though there’s not a straight line, having that awful color covered made a WORLD of difference in the end result!).  Then we filled it all in, which is basically like coloring inside the lines (one successful thing you learned in kindergarten and can still apply.  Yess!).

And the more we filed it in, the more it felt like we were painting our room white.

But we kept going, because I was convinced that it was just a much lighter color than the baby poo yellow and navy blue inset wall.  And once it was all covered, we’d have a room covered in Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter (color matched with Valspar, because I’m cheap like that) and it would be glorious.

Afterall… look at all of these Pinterest examples of the absolutely perfect color choice we had made:

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Right?!  See how warm and perfectly neutral and spot-on-greige it is?  That’s exactly what I was going for!  I planned to throw in a ton of color with decor and a fun accent space, so it’d be the prefect backdrop for my vision to come to life.

Just oooonnne small problem.  It wasn’t happening.

The more we painted.  And even after coats 2 and 3… it just did NOT appear warm.

Not.

At.

All.

My test “splotches” (that’s a very technical term, for those of you unaware) just didn’t truly show the color in a space that was not already painted baby poo yellow.

This is where I had my Nancy Kerrigan moment and threw my two-second “WHYYY MEEEE?!” hissy fit.

(Sidenote:  I’m team Nancy all the way.  You got robbed, girl!  ROBBED!!)

Anywho, that’s not even remotely what we actually ended up with.  Unfortunately, I am at a loss as to where my “after” pictures decided to hide themselves.  And since I want to give the color a fair shot and really want you to see it in all of it’s very limited glory, I will wait until daylight and take them again tomorrow.  I’ll try to take them from the same angles, and with the same quick-snap iPhoto style that seems to be my thang.  Only for comparison’s sake, of course.  I promise.

So stay tuned in for Part III in the coming days.  I’m eager to hear what you all think.  But prepare yourselves… it’s cold and stark (much like Tanya Harding’s heart).

Has anyone else had some terrible paint color luck as of late?  As much as I wouldn’t wish it on you, it’d be nice to know that I’m not alone in this cold, stark, almost-white room of mine… other than Studly, of course.  Obvie.

~Hope

Where’s the Caffeine?

I owe you a post today on Paint.  As boring as that sounds, it’s not going to be one of those posts where we pick paint, we drastically change our room, and wah-lah everyone’s happy.

If only life were so simple.

It is 100% a tale of woe.  And I believe this tale isn’t tool often enough… because most of us are not interior decorators with minors in color theory, or Sarah Richardson with a God-given ability to always pick the perfect tones and color combos (btw – I’m convinced she couldn’t make a bad color choice if she tried – it’s like she’s allergic to bad colors!).  In reality, small pieces of paint colors against a huge wall is never indicative of how it would work in the space, and sample-sized painted squares on several walls is still not the same as an entire room of the same color… especially if the color you are painting over is bold or overpowering in any way.

Anywho – that post is coming.  And hopefully later today.

But for some crazy reason, I had to be at work for a teleconference meeting by 4:00 this morning, which meant waking up at 3:00… and I am just SO not a morning person.

Wait… is that even considered morning?  Maybe it’s more like I’m not a “devil’s hour” kind of person. ??

Who knows.  It’s way to early to be solving such deep problems.

So this is a post promise – I will have the post written and up sometime within the next day or two.  But for now… I have a much simpler goal of just trying to stay awake at work.  And frankly this is a problem that I never thought I’d have.

Oh… and did I mention that I’m going to be here until at least 3:00 this afternoon?  Yeeaahhh….

ZZZzzzzzzzzzz

Wha- dang it.  Fell asleep already.  Where’s the caffeine?!

~Hope

A Rock and A Hard Place

Moving to Texas has proven to be more challenging that we originally thought it would be.

We haven’t really been able to develop a network of friends, though that’s entirely because of our schedule and our own inactivity in getting involved in anything outside of work.  We haven’t explored much of the city and have stuck to most of the same areas we found and/or heard about when we first moved here.  We also ended up in a difficult financial situation just weeks after getting moved in to our new home – and I think this has really played a part in all of the things I’ve mentioned above.

But frankly, all of these difficulties have really paled in comparison to one major change that we’ve encountered since moving:  opening our home to Studly’s sister.

Oy.

In my heart, I know that we did the right thing.  But my. stinking. goodness… I have said more times than I would like to admit that I am just done.  And honestly?  That makes me feel ugly.  I feel like an ugly, awful person.  I catch myself being so unkind in my thoughts.  I am not mean to her and I am not cruel or rude to her outwardly, but within myself – I am not being a good, grace-extending, loving, Christian person.

I’m now in this constant struggle between not letting her manipulate and take advantage of us and also not being unfair or unkind, or not extending grace to her.  I mean… she’s only 18 years old.  She just doesn’t know anything other than life in her home growing up – and she was always allowed to be disrespectful and manipulative and just get her way there.

So yeah.  It has NOT been easy.  It’s a very big source of stress for me, and often Studly as well.  It has shown us a lot, though… in our approach to people and in what would otherwise be much like an approach to parenting. In that sense – it’s been good for us.  It’s started a lot of conversations about various situations and how we seem to approach them from a different perspective and that’s been good for us.  But all in all, I’ve discovered that this was something we were not even remotely prepared for.

I think in most similar situations, any new roommate situation would be difficult, but not necessarily at this level.  Most of the time, people are appreciative and considerate of someone opening their home to them.  They are grateful, not to where they are constantly thanking them or groveling or anything of that sort, but at least enough to take extra care or to be more respectful of them and their home… their space altogether.  However, this has not been our experience thus far.  Not even a little bit.

We have gotten to the point where we are no longer interested in helping her out.  That may seem harsh, but frankly – she seeks help from her parents, her boyfriend (who lives back in her home state), and anyone else she can find, really.  It’s not as though she’s not getting help or advice when she needs it.

And to clarify, her “help” is not in anything other than situations she gets herself into – for example, she quit her job without having another one lined up because she didn’t like it, and so she stopped making money.  She waited (I kid you not) 2 months before applying anywhere.  2 months.  We had agreed to not expect her to chip in for bills until she found another job, and I honestly believe that to be a mistake.  She now had no reason to look.  She was living for free in a nice, large home.  She had nothing to pay for except for gas (which we later discovered wasn’t even a concern because her father was sending her gas cards), so why bother trying to change her situation?  She had free food, free internet, free cable… why work for anything?

She also recently rescued a kitten… and brought it home.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for rescuing animals, but we weren’t much a part of this discussion (read: she didn’t ask).  And we don’t do cats.  They are sweet and I don’t mind them, but Studly is allergic and we have a dog that is obsessed with them (read: loves to play with them and doesn’t understand why they don’t like him), and we just do NOT do cat litter in this house.  (Sidetone: hats off to those of you who do… I just cannot stand the smell and the way I feel like it changes the smell of a house)  But she shows up at home with a kitten in her coat anyway, as though it’s her world and we’re just living in it.  And what’s frustrating are all the lies – she told Studly that she found it in a tree.  She later told me some story about finding it in a dumpster behind her work.  Does she not think we ever talk to each other?

Apparently not, because she also kept texting Studly on different occasions and asking him if she could keep the cat. “It’s so cuddly” or “It’s so little” or “It’s so sweet”… no, no, and no.  The girl never cleans her bathroom to begin with (the only 1 of 2 house chores she’s been asked to do… the bathroom that SHE uses, mind you… and she expects us to be okay with her having a cat in that mess?  That toilet was lined with black stuff because she didn’t clean it even ONCE after moving in (although she was given everything she needed to do so), and she thinks that having a cat seems like something that makes sense?!  Goodness… Studly told her that pets can be expensive and to “take it from us”, based on what had just happened with the Pup a couple of months ago (*coughninethousanddollarvetbillcough*), and that her life was too transient right now for a pet.  She didn’t seem able to argue those points, so the requests to keep the kitten finally stopped (but I later learned she kept asking her parents what she could say/do to keep it and if they would take it until she got her own place).

I asked her what her plan was with the cat and she said she was going to put it in a box in the bathroom she uses and contact shelters in the morning (found out later that this didn’t happen… she let her wonder her carpeted room and it had several accidents, which she swears never happened, but I SAW them when I went in to feed the cat after she stayed out stupid late again, one night – the thing is maybe 4-5 weeks old, mind you… it can’t go 12 hours without food or water, so ust add that to the long list of proof that she can’t be responsible).

She told me, when I asked the next day, that none of the local shelters are taking any cats and that even if they were, they charge money to drop of animals, which she doesn’t have.  (queue sympathy tears… see?  I’m telling you I’m not very patient with her in my heart).  I started contacting shelters on my own and found that quite a few would actually take her in and foster her.  So when she kept telling me that no one was contacting her back or no one would take the kitten, I just set it up.  I wouldn’t normally take care of anything for her, because I feel like she gets too much of that with her parents, but I was NOT going to let her keep doing this and stretching things out just to keep the cat in our house… it was not going to play out like that.  No ma’am.

I worked with on organization to finalize a foster for the kitty and I told her it would cost $90 for them to take in the kitten (to get its shots and medicine it would probably need, since it was abandoned so young, and eventually get her spayed), and that she needed to coordinate the drop-off with the foster lady.  She told me she didn’t have the money and it was too much… though I’m not sure what she planned to accomplish with this point.  I told her that of all the places that I contacted, they all cost anywhere from $90 – $120 and that’s because it would cost a LOT more than even that to provide initial care for the cat.  When she kept insisted that she didn’t have the money, Studly and I told her that we could loan it to her, but that it needed to be paid back because our budget was already set and it was pretty tight (remember the financial situations I mentioned above? Yeah… so this was 100% true).

Conveniently, after this point, she told me that she looked at her bank account and was able to “make it work” and would be meeting the person from the organization the next day.  So… I have to be pushy and draw a hard-line and then suddenly things conveniently work out?  I am so tired of being the bad guy.

Anywho – those are two very silly little stories.  I could go on and on, though, to prove the point.  Upon moving in, she put her stuff all over the pace, instead of what normal people do and keeping it in her spaces – medicine went into Studly and I’s medicine cabinet in the kitchen (she moved our stuff to fit it in… I can never get anything out without knocking stuff out onto the floor, now… there is NOT room).  She moved our stuff and created herself a shelf in the pantry (umm… make yourself at home?).  She constantly leaves boxes and recyclable stuff around the kitchen instead of opening the garage door and putting it in the bin like we all do.  She won’t put the clean dishes away (the only other of her 2 house chores she’s expected to complete) until I have to ask her to, which results in dishes piling up because I REFUSE to be her mother and don’t feel like I should have to ask her when she knows good and well that they are clean (she will take dishes out of the dishwasher, use them, then set them dirty on the counter and walk away like nothing’s wrong).  She has gone back home to visit her boyfriend (and barely seen her parents or brothers) twice since moving here in August (and all before Christmas)… and each time, I’ve gone in to check the status of that bathroom and it was disgusting, people.  *gag

You know what?  I feel like you really need to understand this level of gross… so be warned, the pictures are ridiculous:

Please note the nastiness of that toilet, as well as the piling trash (one overflowing bag she just didn’t take out at all, instead of her usual dumping it by our kitchen garbage and leaving it there for US to deal with or the dog to get into, because… you know…  we get such joy out of touching her gross bathroom trash)… and then there’s the nasty dirty floor.

Again… ???  And this awkward camera angle was in an attempt to NOT take include the pile of bras and underwear that is sitting just around the corner to the right.  Also, please note the presence of the toilet brush sitting in the sink area… it was still wrapped in plastic from when it was purchase by her mother after she first moved in.  Further evidence that the toilet had never once been even remotely cleaned from that point until this picture – the weekend after of Thanksgiving.  And the sink area is FULL of crap – trash, used paper products, makeup caked inside the sink, fast food trash and cups, etc.

And I’m sure you’re asking yourself – why does she even have these pictures?  Well, I’m glad you asked.

You see, my mother-in-law and I have a good relationship.  And she was telling me that while my sister-in-law was back in town there over Thanksgiving and she finally got a chance to see her (by taking her to lunch (because until she offered to do that she was conveniently ‘too busy’ or something like that… funny how things suddenly changed, huh?), my ever so kind SIL was telling her all kinds of stories… one of which was apparently that my house was disgusting and never clean, and this was accompanied by stories of us treating her like a live-in maid, not letting her use an empty closet to store her stuff, and telling her that she should just not bother coming home at night.  Umm… ‘scuse me?

So I took these pictures of HER bathroom (spared her the explosion that went off in her bedroom) and sent them to her mother.  I said something like “So our house is unbearably messy?  Really?!  Because my bathroom and kitchen are currently perfectly clean and this is her bathroom…” And her mother didn’t even doubt me, because we’re adults and have no reason to lie to each other, but then this was just icing on the cake.  She’s been to my house many times.  I am not one of those people to constantly clean and scrub things.  Things do have a place and I prefer that they be in them, but in all truth, we were still going through boxes, little by little… you know the ones full of just the most random stuff that you can’t figure out what to do with or if you should even keep it?  Yeah.  Like 4 of those boxes, which… big frikkin deal.  And they weren’t anywhere near my SIL’s spaces anyway, and in no way could have effected her.  Beyond that, anytime there were dishes around the kitchen, that would be a direct result of her not putting the clean ones away so that I could wash them.  And I’m not even remotely sure where any other level of “unclean” could have come from, considering I’m a nazi about wiping down counters and tables (it’s my “thing”… don’t judge me).  But as with everything else she mentioned, I’m not the slightest bit unsure that she didn’t just pull it out of her butt.

For whatever reason, she thought it would gain her some level of sympathy to tell her these things.  And lucky for me, I found out later on that she told her grandmother the same things, as well as aunts and uncles at Thanksgiving dinner.  Mother. Of. Pearl.  What is WRONG with this girl?!  What more does she NEED??  Where does ANY of this even come from?

Why the heck wouldn’t I let her use a completely empty hall closet that’s right outside of her door?  (we have 4 of those, mind you… 4 just on that level of the house. We are NOT hurting for storage.)  And other than Studly asking her to be home by 11 during the week so that our security system doesn’t wake us up in the middle of the night with her coming and going and us having work the next day, why would there even be a remote conversation about what she did with her time?  He did tell her “we aren’t your parents, and if you’d rather stay somewhere else at night… that’s your prerogative. You don’t need to ask or tell us that ahead of time. You’re an adult.” But how she could innocently misconstrue that as ME telling her to not bother coming home at night… I have no idea.

So THIS is what we are dealing with.  This level of inconsideration.  This measure of ungratefulness.  I don’t have any illusions that she could possibly understand what we’ve given up for her to live with us… the way that this has completely turned our world around and changed everything about home life for us.  She can’t possibly understand that because she’s 18.  She’s been handed everything in her life.  And sometimes I feel like we’ve just perpetuated that same spoiling expectation.  So I am done.

I’m really struggling with all of this, to be honest (if you can’t already tell).  It’s effected me way more than I ever anticipated it would.  Then again, I wasn’t even remotely prepared for things being like this.  I assumed there’d be mutual respect and we’d give each other space (which is a whole ‘nother issue I haven’t even addressed here) and that would be that.  Welp… I was wrong.  Way wrong.

We committed to having her live here for a year while she gets residency in the state of Texas so that she can go to the school she wants up north and get in-state tuition. To date, she still has not even gotten her license changed.  She hasn’t even applied to school.  She did, however, convince her parents to get her into another brand new leased car… while she still didn’t have a job.

The level of frustration is high.  And I’m just at a loss.  Studly and I have discussions on her being a teenager and blah blah blah… but I can’t relate to that.  I was FAR from a perfect teenager (is that even a thing?), but I just can NOT relate to this level of disrespect and this inconsiderate nature.  I never said intentionally hurtful things to people or told my mother I’d never speak to her again because I didn’t get what I wanted from her.  I didn’t keep my room very clean, but it was just clothes lying around… there was no trash all over my room and my bathroom (which was shared with my sisters) was NEVER that disgusting.  I had to start supporting myself at 17 because of our financial situation, and I did so.  I didn’t ask my parents for money.  I didn’t ask them to co-sign on a car loan with me because I didn’t have credit, much LESS expect them to get me a brand new lease.  I was independent and self-sufficient and frankly, I don’t think my parents would have tolerated my being anything else.  So I just have the hardest time wrapping my brain around that kind of behavior.

And her coming in to the house at 3 or sometimes almost 4 in the morning several times a week… what in the world?!  Nothing good happens after midnight.  And what upsets me the most is that I find myself not caring what she’s doing or who she’s with.    But shouldn’t I?  I may not be her mother, and that’s how it should be, but shouldn’t I still care about her?  She’s been doing this thing off and on since she moved here where she’ll make a friend in some random place (Target for example) and then go hang out with them and be out stupid late the next couple of nights.  Which is completely her prerogative (except that it goes against something we laid down when she first moved in), but… she doesn’t even know these people.  They could be ANYthing and she’s out with them Lord knows where until ridiculously late.  Shouldn’t I be concerned with that… just as a human being?

So this is my struggle.  I’m seeing sides of myself that I don’t like.  I’m uglier then I ever want to admit out loud.  It’s making me more and more cold and indifferent to her because I feel like I’m burnt out.  She could care less how anything she does affects anyone around her… she’s always the victim, never apologizes, and nothing matters except for how something effects her.  And I can’t wrap my mind around that kind of selfishness.  So instead, I start to become someone who I do NOT want to be.

I don’t want to be this person.

I want to be hospitable.  I want to be kind.  I want to be loving, even when people aren’t considerate or respectful.  And this is all showing me that I’m not very good at that.  I thought I was getting better at it, but maybe I was just fooling myself.

I suck.

I could try to explain it away… I could tell myself “it’s because she’s doing it over and over again…” or “normal adults don’t act this way, it’s not the same…” but does any of that matter?  No.  It doesn’t.

So I sit here in this difficult place… the tight space between what seems like two giant, unmovable rocks.  And I constantly struggle to find the balance between extending grace and not letting her take advantage of us.

I’ve always been a big fan of a saying that I heard (and I can’t for the life of me remember who said it) that goes something like this:  People will only ever treat you the way that you let them treat you.  I believe that is SO so true.  But how do I change how I let her treat us without being harsh or unkind or unloving?  How do I do this while still extending grace?

I feel stuck.

I could really use your prayers… or well wishes or good vibes, if you’re not the praying type.   I want to REEK of love and grace, but don’t want to be a pushover or allow us to be used and disrespected.  I am certainly learning a lot about myself, but not much of it has been good.  And I seriously want to change that, but am struggling to find the right direction… and for now I just find myself praying the same prayer, over and over, asking for patience and the ability to extend grace nonetheless.

Anyone else feeling like they’re in a really tough spot these days?

~Hope

Book Review: One Thousand Gifts

I heard about this book by Ann Voskamp over and over for years, it seems.  To be honest, I’m not even sure how long its been available, but it feels like it was years, anyway.

I always meant to read it and just never got around to it.  And by “got around to it” I, of course, men when I was finally looking at buying books, I never could remember that I wanted this one.

Am I the only one who does this? Resolves to do something and then only remembers at THE most random times, and never in a situation where it would make sense that I would recall such a thing?  *sigh.  This is my life.

Back to what I was trying to say… (sidetracked much?!)

I finally bought the thing.  And it was in a moment where I had randomly remembered it and was just so annoyed that it had taken me so long to finally remember it that I think I just pulled out my phone and bought it off of amazon right away.  Didn’t even give myself the chance to forget again.  Just knocked that sucker out!  Done and done.  I would now finally own “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are” and could check it off the list.  Boom.

When it finally came in the mail, I unpacked it and set it on my night stand.  And it sat there.

And sat there.

And sat there still.

Until finally I picked it up one day, and it wrecked my world.

It was like I had started reading something that I should’ve read YEARS ago!

So much of this book was filled with things I had grown up hearing, but never really heard.  Then again, I don’t think it had ever been spelled out quite so clearly to me before.

Full disclosure, I’m still not even done reading it.  BUT unlike most books, this is one that I read in spurts, rather than trying to get through it all at once.  And in this case, that’s been best for me.  I mean… this book is pretty heavy.  It’s not the kind of book I can read in an airport while people are coming and going and things are noisy and such.  It’s one where I need to really focus in on it.  But that’s really just because it is so spot on for me.  It’s hitting me right in the gut each time I open the thing.

I can read it and be so hit, right where I am, and then go several weeks or a month or two without reading anymore of it.  And then pick it up again on some random day and in a completely different situation and then be absolutely hit right in the face yet again.  It’s incredible.

So I should probably get to the gist of it, right?  Alrighty. Touchy touchy. 😛 Here goes.

According to amazon, here’s the “back cover”:

Just like you, Ann Voskamp hungers to live her one life well. Forget the bucket lists that have us escaping our everyday lives for exotic experiences. ‘How,’ Ann wondered, ‘do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does the Christ-life really look like when your days are gritty, long–and sometimes even dark? How is God even here?’ In One Thousand Gifts, Ann invites you to embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God’s gifts. It’s only in this expressing of gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we’ve always wanted…a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others. We come to feel and know the impossible right down in our bones: we are wildly loved–by God. Let Ann’s beautiful, heart-aching stories of the everyday give you a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of being present to God that makes you deeply happy, and a way of living that is finally fully alive. Come live the best dare of all!

I don’t even feel like that does it justice.

It’s about gratitude… sure.  But it’s about a kind of gratitude that I haven’t really strived for before.  And I’ve always been one of those people who tries to be sure I’m grateful for the job I have and the house I live in and the people in my life.  Say thank you for even the little simple things people do for you (opening a door, etc) and making sure to seem genuine.  All of that is great, but it’s still not the kind of gratitude that this book talks about.

It’s about a deeper, completely heartfelt gratefulness for what you’ve been given in your life.  Everything from those I mentioned above (job, car, etc) to things like baby giggles heard down the hall, or sunbeams peaking through curtains on a quiet Saturday morning. Everything.

Ann has a blog (you can find her over at www.aholyexperience.com) and started out years ago challenging herself to list 1000 gifts, or 1000 things she was thankful for by a certain date.  And what she came to discover through this process was so much more life-changing then she ever imagined.

I’ve gotta admit, I’m starting to discover the same myself… and I’m not even finished reading the book!  I feel so strongly about it that I can’t even wait until I finish it to recommend it.  It’s THAT good, y’all!

So there you have it.  This book is incredible and I absoFREAKINlately recommend it to anyone in search of peace.

Peace is something I’ve been actively pursuing since picking up this book and it’s the only thing that seems to have brought me any progress.  Turns out I needed to evaluate what it is I even though peace was and daggum I was WAY off!

Please do read this book.  You’ll be glad you did.

~Hope

The Nooky

Breakfast style, that is.  Get your minds out of the gutter, people.

tsk. tsk. tsk.

Today is all about the breakfast nook.  More specifically, the little table that sits in it.  Because what good is a breakfast nook if you can’t actually enjoy your breakfast there, right?  Right!

From the day we moved into this house, I new I needed a round table for the breakfast nook.  You see, the room itself is shaped like an octagon, and even though it’s large, I thought it was seem silly to put a square or rectangular table in it.  In a dream world, I’d love to have some kind of booth-able situation… you know, a room where having a table with a booth could make sense.  But with low windows, a walkway cutting through, and a broad shape… there was no way to make that happen here.  Enter the round table plan.

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but finding a simple round pedestal table with four chairs for less than $200 is NOT easy.  Especially not when you only have a few weeks to find one.  And what I really wanted was a nice table that I could refinish myself.  I had just bought my new Ryobi orbital sander for a ridiculous amount of money (I practically stole the thing, you guys.  Seriously – $11?  How is that possible?!) and was itching to try the thing out.  Plus, we had so much deep, dark wood in the adjoining kitchen that I was hoping to something a bit lighter for the breakfast nook so that things didn’t feel so weighed down.

I looked ALL over.  After all the searching, I found a couple options in our area on craigslist, but they weren’t the best prices, and even then… I never got a response.

Do the people want to sell the thing, or what?!  Get it togetha!

FINALLY I stumbled upon an amazing situation.

Not only did I find this 48″ round pedestal table for $150, but it was also raw wood.

Did you read that?!  RAW WOOD!  That meant even LESS time prepping the thing so that I could refinish it as planned… which was perfect, because this was also about the time we found out that we were hosting family Christmas and we only had 6 weeks to get our house ready.

Umm… hold please.

I need to be sure you understand – the 6 weeks was not the amount of tie we had to wash the sheets for the guest bed, run a vacuum, and fluff a few pillows… we had a MASSIVE undertaking with purchasing and refinishing a kitchen table, dining room table, and sorting out the entertainment center situation, purchasing a queen-sized bed, painting the guest room (the walls were covered in planets and personal notes… be sure to look for that post in the new future.  smh), buying and installing shower curtain rods in the guest bathrooms, unpacking the rest of the boxes that were still living in said guest rooms, and decorating for Christmas somewhere in there.  Umm… no big deal, right?  Did I mention that we both have full-time jobs that tend to have us working longer than 40-hour weeks?  Yeah.  I was gonna lose my mind.  No doubt about it.

Anywho – hopefully you can know understand the amazingness that is us having found this raw wood table.  Exactly the size we needed, in raw wood, and available for pick-up immediately.  SOLD!!

Although I once again have crappy pictures (I promise that I finally charged my camera battery, so these awful, yellowy pictures should stop, soon… just gotta catch up on the posts and then I promise that you’ll have some better pictures to look at), here’s a quick iPhone photo of what I brought home that day:

I know it may not look like much, but it was EXACTLY what we needed!  And it didn’t take long for me to whip out all of the stuff I needed and get to work.

Now I’m sure that some of you may be wondering why I needed to sand the table since it was raw wood to begin with.  Well, I’m glad you asked.  😛

You see, even when working with Raw Wood, you want to sand the wood as a way to prepare the surface.  If you were going to apply something like paint (esp. chalk paint), this wouldn’t be necessary.  You’d get to skip this part and go straight to wiping it down to rid the piece of any dust or dirt, or anything that would get into your paint and irritate the mess out of you… because we ALL know that’s what’ll happen.  Lesbionest. (sorry… just channeling my inner Fat Amy. movingrightalong)

Also, when working with Raw Wood, there’s bound to be a knick or mark somewhere on the piece.  So a simple sanding will help to level out these marks and rid your piece of any of those marks so that you can end with a beautifully stained piece and you won’t see those marks peaking through.  Here’s a simple before show so you can see how little the marks and knicks were on mine.

The fact that they were little didn’t really matter, though.  When you put your time into fixing up a piece, you don’t want some junky black mark jumping out through the finish, so that’s why we nip it in the behind right from the start.

In my case, since I was planning to paint the bottom of the table, I skipped the sanding step for the base.  I’ll be honest, though… taking one look at all of those nooks and crannies really just pushed me right on in to painting land.  Sanding all of that mess was not on my list of ideal tasks, so… paint’ll do!

One thing that I didn’t take any pictures of, and I really wish that I had (constantly kicking myself for missing the obvious), is the difference between using and not using wood conditioner.  So I’m going to steal a few example shots from the interwebs (click on pics to link to original posts) because it is a MASSIVE must-do when it comes to staining your wood…

Can you see the difference there?  No, it’s not your screen.  Wood, on it’s own, is going to absorb your stain and finish in a really blotchy and uneven manner (left image).  Applying wood conditioner will reduce this effect greatly (right image).  Here’s another couple of examples, just to drive the point home:

Amazing different, right?  Basically, if you are as invested in the pieces that you are finishing as I am to mine, you do NOT want to cut corners and skip this step.  Now that this poor horse has been killed 3 times over, it’s probably safe to move on.  Aaaaaanywho

I started staining (and once again, forgot to take a progress shot) the top of the table, and planned to paint the base and such between coats.  This, I learned the hard way, is not the ideal way to finish a piece you plan to stain AND paint.  Take it from me… and I’m sure you’ll hear many different preferences and version of this story, but in my experience paint and THEN stain.  You can always touch up paint, but touching up stain is not an option.  Unfortunately.  *le sigh

So I applied the first coat of stain to the tabletop and then moved to the base to apply the first coat of paint.  (Note:  If you have a paint sprayer, your life is better than mine.  Also, this is a good use for it.)

For those of you that are CDO like myself (hint: CDO is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order like they should be), you’re probably thinking “did you use Wood Conditioner?  Because that looks pretty dagger splotchy to me.” Yes.  Thank you for that.  But this is WITH wood conditioner and only one coat of stain (laid on pretty thick, might I add).  I’m sure you can imagine how nasty uneven and splotchy this baby would’ve been without the wood conditioner.  MmHmm.  Exactly.

Oops… did I just beat that horse again?  My bad, dude.  My bad.

If you look in the background of the above picture, you can also see that the base has it’s first coat done as well.  Woot!  *selfhighfive

Another coat on each, and it was looking even better:

Hey there, pretty.

Now she just needed me to paint her trim and then we were golden.  Trim?  Ledge?  Neck?  I think we all know what I’m talking about.

Well, this is where I discovered that painting the TrimLedgeNeck before staining would’ve been better.  Not only does stain take a LOT longer to set and dry then paint does, but because it’s also less forgiving, it makes me a heaping mess of “IT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!” while trying to tape everything off underneath.

And I really don’t want you to have to go through that.  Save yourself.  Protect your loved ones.  Paint before you stain!

Now… you guys wanna see something hott?!  You know you do…

BOOMsauce.

DETAIL SHOOOOOTS!

Hey there, good lookin’.  Wanna some over to my place and stay a’while?

Sexy.

And there we have it.

Now there’s still a LOT of work to do in this breakfast nook, so don’t judge me for the room… just focus on the table.  Simple.  Pretty.  And finished.

I should probably point out that I used a satin poly finish on this table.  I’m not sure if you can tell, but that’s what helps it look so glossy.  I was tempted to try out a matte poly to give it a more rustic look, but since I didn’t have time to rough up any other bits of the table, I feared it would actually just look dull rather than rustic, and then I’d be super bummed because of all the work I’d put into it.

See?  I get a little too attached to the projects I work on, so it tends to take some time to really finalize what I want to do before starting things.  Hopefully that won’t translate to taking forever to do things, but… I suppose we shall have to wait and see.

For now I’m still recovering from the 6 weeks of jam-packed pre-Christmas house preparation, so Lord only knows when I’ll be picking up another project.

Then again… knowing me, it won’t be long at all.  I’m kind’ve a sucker for this stuff.

Maybe it’s the drama of it all that keeps me going in the end.  HAHA Wait… no… it’s the lack of money and ability to find what I’m looking for most of the time anyway.  Yep… that’s definitely it.  If you can’t find it, just make it yourself.

So what are you all working on these days?  Any big projects around the house?  Are you still recovering from Christmas with the family as well, or is it just Studly and I that take about a month to bounce back?

~Hope

Dear Birthmom

You don’t know me right now.  In fact, there’s a chance that you may never know me.  And that’s okay.

Right now you could be anywhere.  You could be sitting in a restaurant laughing with friends or loved ones.  You may be alone somewhere… by yourself.  You may not be pregnant, yet, or even close to becoming pregnant.

But at some point in your future, your life will change dramatically.  And it will happen very quickly.

The next thing you know, you’ll be part of a story that you never intended to be a part of.

And that story will lead you to me.

I can’t imagine what your life will be like during these hard times.  I wouldn’t even begin to pretend that I am able to understand your life and your situation… but I can promise you that I will try my best to be understanding.  I will not judge you.  I will not hold any ill feelings toward you.  Because through your great struggle, you will bring an end to mine.

You see, I’ve wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember.  When other young girls thought of future careers, I never counted one out, but I always thought of the children that I would raise and the man who I would raise them with.  I’m not one to obsess over the idea of motherhood, but it’d be a lie to say anything other than the truth – that it is never far from my mind.

I’ve watched many women go through situations similar to yours, though I know better than to say they were the same.  And I’ve also known many women to go through situations similar to mine.  There’s no normal way to be in either of our shoes.  And yet we are both here.

Two women on opposite sides of a great struggle.  Within those struggles we will one day become liked together… and we will be linked together for the rest of our lives.

I don’t know what that story will look like for us or how much a part of each others lives we will be from that day forward, but I will never be able to truly express to you how grateful I am for your journey.

You did not plan for this, and this decision will be one of the hardest decisions you will ever make in your life, but choosing to place your child with an adoptive family… with us… will be one of the happiest days of my life.

On the day that you become a mother, you will make the most selfless decision a person can make… and on that day, you will make me a mother.

Nothing will change your status as a mother when you make this decision – no one can take that from you.  And you will do with that whatever you wish.  But on the day that you make me a mother, you will be making my family whole.  This is something that I will never be able to forget.  Because with you… without this great struggle… we wouldn’t be just that – a family.

Until that day… the day that we both become mothers… I will pray for you.

The journey before this day is one that neither of us can imagine.  It will be hard.  It will be harder than hard.  And there will be times where you want to make a different decision.  Times where you will want this to end differently.  Sooner.  And on those days, I pray that you find an overwhelming and unexpected peace.

Today I thought of where you might be.  And the truth is, based on typical timelines, you are probably far from the day when you will become pregnant.  And even further from the day that you choose to give us the gift of parenting and raising your child…. and make them ours.  But on this day, I pray that you feel joy.  I hope that you are somewhere safe… and warm.  And that you are happy.  The strength that you will need to get through this great struggle will come from somewhere deep within you, and that strength will grow from days like today until the day that our lives become linked.

So right now, more than anything, I wish you nothing but happiness.  Because one day… that is exactly what you will bring us.

~Hope

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