Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Cabin in the Woods

Hello, Lovelies! I know I've been home for nearly a week and I've had a lot of folks ask about the log cabin in the woods so here it is. Truth be told, I could have easily taken 50 pics and posted every one. And, sadly I am between cameras so all of our pictures where taken on my Galaxy 6 phone. I have not edited one of them so sorry if they are a bit digital in spots, but do enjoy this amazing little gem in the Virginia mountains. I know we did!

Growing up in Georgia we didn't travel far to vacation. As a little one, it often meant heading to East Tennesee to visit family. We would begin our drive at the crack of dawn getting dumped into the back of the car where we would cozy up in pj's, enveloped by our blankies. There were no dvd players, no ipads. We were thrilled if the 18 wheeler driver honked his horn when we gave him the signal!

Certainly, I was not choosing whether to sit in the aisle seat or window seat. My oldest daughter has been to NYC, Miami, Hawaii, Vegas and Mexico. Where will she go for Spring Break? Australia???

Walking into this home, which was actually two 1880s log cabins restored and seamed together with a lovely great room as their glue, I felt like I was going back in time. Almost as soon as we got all of the luggage inside it began to shower outside, the way it does in the summertime on the east coast.


We all hurried in, some of us under the covered back porch, a couple snuggled on the couch to play tic-tac-toe...and me? I explored the entire house. Some things were not as magical I suppose because I grew up in the south with clawfoot tubs and cast iron and porches and quilts. 

 But that kitchen was breathtaking. In fact, I only provided two photos, but could have taken many more. Reclaimed wood and beams and the quaint way the table was centered  in the middle of the room made me think of Little Women. I just love the creamy butter yellow of the cupboard.

 And that stove! And the fridge! Dreamy.

 My other favorite spot in the house was upstairs. It was a room with a tiny door tucked away, just for littles. Three beds, baby dolls, games, and colored pencils for Natalie's portraits of all of us. I kind of can't believe that my 6 year old had never played bingo until this trip, but watching the kids take turns calling "B13" and "G47" warmed my heart. We played other games too and did a scavenger hunt around the property. One of the nice things about these owners is that although we didn't have wifi (which was fine by me) they did provide us with satellite tv. That meant cartoons for the kiddos. I didn't expect them to adapt to life in the wilderness without a hiccup or two.

We were in the area for Colby's godfather's wedding so there were a few times we drove down the mountain to various activities and the kids enjoyed looking for deer jumping into the side of the hill and I enjoyed finding this little old cabin, not as lucky as the one we got to stay in. And of all the things we could have seen crossing the road on our way up the first day? A beaver! Yep, I'm convinced. A first for me and probably a last.


Our last night there we decided to try the only pizza spot for miles and were in luck to find that it was not just a legitimate restaurant, but the service, decor and menu were outstanding. See those magnet boards behind the booth seating? Genius! I highly recommend the Annie Oakley pizza. Delish! Check out the rest of their menu here.

Later, when we returned to "the great outdoors" as my son kept referring to it, I got it in my mind to make a fire so we could roast marshmallows. It wasn't easy, but I got the job done. The kids were grateful and the fire was pretty against all the green from "the great outdoors."

If you are staying in the Charlottesville area anytime soon and would like more info on this unique home let me know. I hope you are all enjoying your summer break. Let me know what kinds of fun places you visit.
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Monday, March 30, 2015

Comfy Castle Momma is 36

Yep. 36. you can no longer lie about your age anymore cause everything is out there so might as well suck it up and quit pretending I'm 33...again. What is 36? Remember when you thought 36 was old? I do. I was old enough to think I knew everything and still young enough to run for my piggy bank the moment I heard the ice cream truck turn onto my block. I spent hours outside each day and rarely remember my mom chasing behind me begging to slather me with sunscreen. I walked to school. By myself. I had braces for my bucked teeth and the madonna sized space between them. I drank out of the water hose and climbed trees barefoot. Actually, I jumped out of a barn at the age of 9 or so. I'm not exactly sure why I did it, but nobody put me in therapy or declared my mother unfit because she wasn't there to catch me. I attended birthday parties at the local roller rink with pizza and ice cream...and I thought it was fantastic, even though no disney character made a grand entrance.

There was no youtube, no google or pinterest. No dvd player in our family vehicle. I watched Nick at Nite, not reality tv.  Not that we were the Brady Bunch by any means. No. But, life wasn't so complicated. There weren't so many choices.

There weren't a hundred ways to compare yourself to everyone else in the world, just waiting in the wings to make you feel pitiful about the state of your laundry room or your version of strawberry shortcake or what you use to clean your kitchen counters. I mean, come on! 

So, my point? What am I taking away from my 36 years of experience? 

Well, firstly, this is not old! But, that kids giving you gray hair thing, well, it's not a myth. 
If I didn't see my hairdresser every 6 weeks, these long locks would be 50 shades, believe. 
Sunscreen, lotions, potions, whatever. Spend a few bucks to have healthy skin. It's worth it.
You are what you eat. Yup. Sorry. The better you eat, the better you feel.

But, mostly I have learned about love and acceptance. I have learned to love myself, to accept my flaws. To spoil myself when I am willing (still working on that one) and to love those around me the best way i know how. Because my laundry room isn't perfectly polished. And even if it was, that wouldn't give me nearly the pride that listening to my 6 year old read everything around her does. She is amazing. Natalie, Colby, Ashley, Molly and Billy. They accept me. All of me. For reasons that I don't totally understand yet. And i am so thankful. 

So, cheers to 36. And 37. And 38. And all the years ahead of me. Cause one thing is for sure. This crazy life just keeps getter sweeter.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Learning to Multitask...One Thing at a Time

Confusing, right?
I used to think I was a fabulous multitasker.
Sometimes I totally am!
Other times, like these times, I think not so much.
If you follow me on Instagram or FB you may have noticed I have had to give my attention to other things as of late. 
Obviously, blogging is not on my list these days, but it doesn't mean I don't have some great posts in the que so don't give up on me, sweet readers.

These things are.

Carpool, shop pieces painted and delivered, gardening, gym time, the kids' activities: dance, gymnastics, chorus, karate, now two in soccer, doctor's appointments, dinner plan, family time, plus the extras like vip lunch with my oldest, open house at her school, nursing the cold I got from our littlest little, oh, and SLEEP! 

The highlight of this day has been taking a real shower involving shaving my legs, but it will easily be trumped by Colby's first soccer practice even if I'm only there for half of it because tonight is Open House at Natalie's school and I just have to see the rainforest animals that she's talked about for 2 weeks come to life!

Thank goodness I have a helping hand this week, as my hubby has had a work schedule that barely allowed us to exchange a complete conversation. And now he is in Vegas for his annual March Madness weekend, which is not a weekend at all, but 4 days, which feels like an eternity to me. I resent it for a second and then realize he deserves it. Plus, he's getting wiser as he gets older and sent me flowers on the first day instead of after I had a meltdown on the 3rd day, for the 4th year in a row, true story. 

Life is hard.
Whether you have 1 child or 4 or 6.
Whether your week looks like mine.
Whether it's harder or crazier.
Whether you stay at home or work elsewhere.
Take a breath.
Cut yourself some slack.
Remind yourself you are doing your best.
Grab some pretty flowers while you are at Costco buying giant boxes of Chex and baby wipes.
You deserve them.
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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Our Little Valentine Turns One and Her Birth Story

Quick disclaimer: Some of these photos are a little cloudy and the story a little wordy, but it's been requested. Enjoy and let me know if you have your own crazy birth story.

This was the last picture taken of me and Hubby before little Molly Girl, as the kids like to call her, decided to be born. I had my last appointment the following morning, as my due date was only 5 days away. We had a spicy dinner at P.F.Chang's and I didn't say a word about the regular contractions that started after our appetizer until we were leaving. I wasn't exactly timing them, but I could tell that this was probably it. We got home where my mom was watching the older kids and I told her what was going on, prepped the children's things for the following morning and she told us good night and good luck, as she didn't plan on seeing us again for a couple of days.
Billy and I stayed up for a while and he asked me a couple of times if we should head to the hospital and I said heck no. I wanted to stay at home as long as I could. I wrote a letter to the other kids thinking we would be gone when they woke up. My contractions had started to slow down and I immediately thought of my labor with Colby. Perhaps I will share that one on his birthday this year. (I went to the hospital the night before he was born only to be sent back home. He arrived the next morning just after 11:00 and a scary labor.) I went to bed thinking I would be woken up in the night with big contractions, only I didn't.
A little baffled, I got up and got ready for the appointment with my OB. She was surprised I was there at all, as I was 3-4cm and 60% effaced at my last appointment. I mentioned the contractions I was having the night before, but they sort of stopped and then were not regular the next morning once I was on my feet again. She checked me and said I was 5-6cm and my bag of water was bulging and I needed to go to the hospital, did I want to go right then? She exclaimed "You're in labor and you don't know it? How is that possible when this is your 4th baby?!" I told her I was by myself and didn't have the things I needed for the hospital and that I really wanted to be able to take my daughter to school at 10:30...could I come after that? She looked at me like I was a little off my rocker and now that I look back on it, I think I was a little.
I called Hubby who met me at home after I dropped Natalie off at school. I remember a couple of the moms were surprised to see me, as I mentioned to them that if I hadn't progressed I was going to ask my doc for a little help into labor. When I told them about my appointment their mouths dropped as they were like "What are you doing here? Go! Have your baby!"

We have taken a picture of me and my belly heading to the hospital with every baby. All in a similar spot in the kitchen.

Billy and I went to the hospital where we had to wait to be processed, get into my room, get hooked up to the monitor, etc. My doctor wanted to see what was going on and was to meet me there at noon. Only she ended up at another hospital a few minutes away delivering a baby at that time. The nurse checked me and I was still 5-6cm. My labor wasn't progressing and when my doc finally arrived she suggested putting me on patocin, which I didn't want to use, so we decided to break my bag of water.

At 12:30 that was that.
There was no turning back now.

I was still comfortable at that point. The baby was fine. Billy and I chatted and made jokes. Our nurse was fantastic and we talked about our kids. A little after 1:00 I was asked if I wanted an epidural. I was still pretty comfy so I said I could wait. I guess this was the day they had c-sections scheduled and I was told that if I didn't get it now, I would have to wait a couple of hours and possibly miss out on getting one at all. Okay, I'll do it, I thought. Don't wanna miss out.  So here comes the anesthesiologist, my neighbor from two houses down. A sense of calm came over me. Yes, a needle was going into my spine, but somehow having a friend do it made it less scary. So, I sat with my legs hanging over the edge of the bed, trying to relax, holding hubby's hand. She gets everything into position. I feel the pinch of the needle, which hurt more this time than I remembered in the past. Then I hear she has to start over. Start over?! Why? It didn't take. Theere was some issue with bleeding, "flash" something. She pulled everything out and we started again. It hurt even worse and I felt tears streaming down my face. Then I heard her say, "What are the chances? I can't believe this." Again, I bled and she had to pull everything out.

I needed a break.
She needed a break.
She felt horrible, but said she could come back in an hour, maybe just over.
It was 2:00.

I wiped away my tears, collected myself and we decided now would be a good time for Billy to go get something to eat. I was still okay. It didn't occur to me at that moment that I had been having contractions and my water was broken when I was 5-6 cm dilated an hour and a half before, but nobody had checked me since. Just after he left, a few minutes past 2:00, I noticed the contractions were causing me to do the kind of breathing you hear on those shows they used to have on TLC, the low, long, humming type of breathing. My nurse heard it too. I was finally uncomfortable and with no one else there she gave me something to help "relax" me, though I don't remember what it was now.

I texted with Hubby, who was across the street to come back, but within a couple of minutes I assured him that he needn't rush because the nurse was giving me something for pain.

Then, my nurse, who according to her, never takes a break, but was being forced to that day, went on break. She told me she would be just down the hall and to let her know if I needed anything. Yeah. I needed to have a baby. I should have requested she check me before she left. I'm too nice. I continued texting with friends and having contractions like every minute. Strong ones.

Billy walked into the room at 2:50 and I think I lost it a little. All I could say was that I needed out of this bed. "Get me out of here. I need to get up. No, I need to go to the toilet. I need to pee. I need to sit. Get a nurse. Call for the nurse!" I was a rambling mess. Another nurse came in. A darling little sweet nurse who apparently thought she was just there to help us to the potty and show hubby how to get me to and from. All the way there, all I could say was that there was pressure and I felt like I was gonna pee myself. I needed to push. Billy told me not to push. I sat down and nothing came out. I began to cry a little as I told Billy to get the nurse and that I needed my doctor cause I needed to push this baby out.

I'm helped back to the bed as the little nurse and several other folks enter the room and I know I have to get Molly out. She checks and sure enough that little baby was ready to be born.

Now I have friends who had babies without epidurals, but most of them read books and practiced techniques their entire pregnancies to cope. One of them even told me that it was so painful she doesn't even remember her first child's birth and the people in the room next to her's complained about her screaming. Yikes!

So, I didn't mess around. My doctor entered the room and I heard the nurse say not to push until she has her gloves on, but as soon as I saw they were on, well, I pushed! So hard, in fact, that that was all it took and Molly Charlotte Zaruka entered our world, screaming at the top of her lungs. She was wrapped up in her cord, which explained the lull in labor.

But, she was perfect.
Head full of dark hair.

It was 3:06

Molly was swimming in her newborn going home outfit, but our little helper for the ride home was so thrilled to be a big sister for the third time!

Introducing baby sister to her other big sister. Colby wasn't excited to meet her right away.

It's so hard to believe that a year has passed since then.
That we made it through those first tough months.
That she has begun walking and saying little words and is a definite momma's girl.
That the number one word people use to describe her is happy!
Molly has been a delight in so many ways and is the perfect addition to complete our family.
I am excited for the next 12 months and all it holds.

We didn't get too crazy with her first birthday party, just a few friends, a few sweets and as it seems with baby number four, a few pictures. Enjoy these and if you didn't catch her newborn photos last year, you can see them here.

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

I'm Dating Again

I'm sure you have all noticed, all 33 of you...or maybe not, that I have been a little MIA lately. First, there was the business launch, then the holidays, then well, I started dating again. That's right. Don't judge me too harshly, but I'm dating a man...and 4 other people.

And I love it. 

OK, so I'm sure you get it right? Right?! I'm dating my hubby! Yes, we are not just passing one another in the hall as we juggle the bedtime routine. We are getting schmancied up. I'm wearing earrings without the fear of chubby little hands pawing at them until my lobes bleed. We're sitting down together for meals...that we eat simultaneously, without someone hovering over our plates asking if they can have a bite. Even better? We are having a cocktail before said meal. We are saying yes to invitations for parties and double dates without hesitation.

And it feels good.


That word has been thrown out of my mouth so many times over the past year. I just don't feel balanced. I need balance! What does that mean? It may mean something different for you than it does for me. I don't think I even really knew what I meant. I just knew it wasn't there. And somehow the more I added to my life, the more balanced I felt, and still feel. 

These other people I'm seeing...they've helped me to achieve that feeling too. I'm so in love with all of these little people that I grew in my belly.

I've been telling my hubby for some time now that I don't want to have the help that I have been afforded. It sounds backwards, I know. Other stay at home spouses would love an extra hand. I think he was scared that I would be too overwhelmed. I put my body through a lot of pregnancies, chronic pain and 3 bouts of postpartum depression to get this amazing family of six. He watched me battle with so many confusing feelings of doubt and frustration, fear and anger. He really has pushed to try to help me feel supported and perhaps "taken care of."

But, what I've discovered in the past two weeks when I've had to be a more typical stay at home mom after our regular sitter was in a accident that required her to take time off, is that I can do it on my own.

And I'm not yelling all the time.
I'm not stressed out. 
I'm more relaxed, in fact.

And, in all honesty, I'm not doing it all on my own. My husband is a phenomenal father and we are better partners with the help of me going to therapy and he and I going on dates. I have neighbors and friends to lean on, too. I have learned the art of asking for help...but, only when I really need it. 

The kids and I have gardened, painted, read, sung and just plain PLAYED. 

I have reminded myself to stay organized. This is a must. And not to get too cocky. The second I thought I had it all under control this last week when Billy was out of town, our two babies threw up during the night and I overslept the next morning. Still thinking I was amazing, expediting breakfast, clothes, hair, teeth, packing homework, snack, handling carpool on time without tantrums from any of the four, my neighbor (and carpool buddy) reminded me that I forgot to send lunch to school with child number 2. 

In the world I was living in not that long ago I would have begun to cry.
I would have felt defeated.

But not now. Now I really feel like I have it all. Now that two are in school most days for a while and only one is in diapers. Now that I have been going to my therapist for some time and have Honeysuckle Home. Now that my hubby and I are getting out of the house together and truly being partners when we are here together. 

Now, in this season, I feel loved, accomplished and excited. And this is just a season in life. I've had to remind myself of that many times. Sometimes we are "snowed in" and sometimes we are having a lovely barefoot afternoon in the garden. There are pics of both down below. I still can't believe we got snow like that in Temecula!

I didn't completely let our sitter go, but I did cut her hours in half, giving me more one on one time with my babies, but still time during the week to work on projects for the shop, blogging (yes, more blogging!) and schedule time for my appointments. Plus, the kids love her!

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Cute Teacher Gift

Oh my gosh, has it seriously been a month since my last post?
A month.


That went by in a blink.

I am hoping that you and yours are relaxing by a fire right now, sipping hot chocolate, perhaps listening to Christmas music?

If you are then good for you, but if you are like me and still struggling to get all of your decorations up (I am bowing my head in shame right now) don't feel alone. I mentioned in a recent post that I don't do much in regards to seasonal decor anymore, but I guess I sort of fibbed a little because I go all out for Christmas. Only this year, between the new shop, (which is doing very well, thank you to those who have visited and embarrassed me with compliments), all these kiddos passing their germs around and the list of holiday related family/school events, I'm lucky I'm keeping my head above water. 

Some days I think I'm gonna explode, like literally, from it all. Then other days I look around and can't help but crack up a little. Because various holiday storage bins and boxes have taken too long to unpack themselves, well, our two year old decided to get resourceful. She (with help from thing 1 and thing 2) created a "fort" in our living room, which wasn't a fort at all, but  rather a heap. Think of the show "Hoarders" for a moment. An opening between two rooms with the use of three chairs, becomes a pit. The contents vary from day to day, but have consisted of blankets, Christmas decor, toys and even diapers...a box of them taken out individually to create a cushy base. The kids would play so nicely together that my hubby and I let it go on for well over a week before the intervention.

Then there was the day I came home from running errands, sans kiddos, and my husband was here alone with the kids. Have you seen the movie "Mr. Mom"? An oldie but a goody right? I walked near the bathroom off the playroom and said, "What's that sound?" Of course, nobody else heard it. I opened the bathroom door to find the sink spilling over with the water on full blast. I looked down to see it seeping under the baseboard into the playroom. I thought I might cry for a second and then rushed to find every towel in the house. Afterwards Billy and I laughed...but not in that moment.

So, if this sounds familiar and you have nothing for your child's teacher this year, let me share what I am giving because I love it! I actually bought one of these for myself a couple of months ago and it's seriously so cute and uplifting. It just makes you smile when you see the pages are illustrated with various Golden Book characters in their vintage sailor suits and overalls.

When I decided this is what we would get our teachers this year, I realized that there is a Christmas version, as well, but I didn't even pick it up. It may be a good choice too. And at 9.99 (that was the price at 3 different stores) you just can't beat it.

This is a gift that Natalie wrapped for Colby. It's also a book so I thought it would make a good example of how your child could personalize this a bit. Brown paper. Stamps. Fabric or ribbon. Done. Add one of your family holiday cards. Voila. As Colby would say, "Easy peesy lemon squeezey."

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Shoulda Woulda Coulda Business Launch

Have you ever heard that saying? Shoulda. Woulda. Coulda. It's only really associated with one thing. Regret. Now, it may seem like I just go, go, go and do whatever I put my mind to, but that doesn't mean I haven't had moments of regret in the past. But, no more. 

So, what have I done now? Well, those of you that follow me on facebook got to see a glimpse of my new baby. That's right. I've birthed another baby. Her name? 

 Honeysuckle Home Vintage and Inspired Finds, LLC.

Honeysuckle has been about 12 years in the making, but that's another story. In fact, she had a distant cousin named Sassafras (what? I'm a southern girl!), but she didn't really ever get off the ground and then I moved, leaving her behind. But, I always knew there would be another. 

I just love new and old together too much to let this idea go. My home is filled with old things, things with a story, things with patina, things reinvented, things that help my home feel like no one else's.

I don't have a logo yet, no facebook page either, though those things are coming soon so stay tuned. I just couldn't hold my excitement in any longer and the best part? I wasn't supposed to start selling until Jan. 1st, BUT my items can be found in 4th Street Antiques in Temecula starting November 11th. Yes, you read that right. That's a week away. You will be able to see what I have in the store via my facebook page and some of the items will be featured here from time to time, but will only be able to purchase from 4th Street. No etsy. No ebay. 

So, what will Honeysuckle sell? Vintage yes, antique yes, mostly geared toward children's items. I'm not showing a ton here, but just wait. It's very exciting! Some things will be unmodified, others painted with chalk or milk paint. Some elegant, some primitive, some farmhouse, some cottage and every once in a while a little mid century just to keep you guessing. 

 In addition to furniture, toys, blankets, vintage teaching tools, books and occasional collectable wall art, I will feature handmade signs, buntings, baby mobiles and hanging pendants inspired by vintage lace and fabric. 

The craziest thing about this hugely busy time in my life is that I finally feel truly balanced. I have the thing that gives me what I need, something my husband and children just can't provide for me. My time with them is sweeter. The kids love to help me in their own way and I can work from home. For me, life just can't get much better right now.

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