Monday, August 31, 2015

When You Lose Someone You Love

I've never been good with funerals or wakes. I always end up blurting out something ridiculous or I don't say much at all. You know, on one end of the spectrum or the other. I'm always afraid that I'm going to say the wrong thing or say something to cause someone more hurt or pain than they're already experiencing. I haven't been on the receiving end of those bumbling, blundering comments very often and especially not for someone really close to me.

Gran and I around 1985. I loved being his helper. Judging by that smile on his face, he loved it, too.

But today, we lost my grandfather and I can see my past uncomfortable blunders or awkwardness at funerals or wakes in a new light. Those that offer condolences, even if it is an awkward hug or a simple I'm sorry, are much appreciated by the family. It's a comfort to know that others cared about our loved one, too. That they are extending a hand of love and understanding in a difficult time, even if it's just a handshake or a nod.  And in the future, I'll always keep that in mind when I feel like an awkward, blundering, ball of nerves before a mourning family. (Oh, and you know in the South, the way some people show they care is with food. By the time my husband and I arrived at my grandparent's house from the hospital, there were already friends of the family there with food and necessities like paper towels, toilet paper, cups, and ice. We're so grateful for those things,too.) 

The past week has been a bit of a rollercoaster for my family. Last Tuesday, Granddaddy had a mini stroke and was taken to a hospital about an hour away from our hometown. He seemed to be doing pretty well. He was even making all of us (some of the family that were there) and the nurses laugh. For the most part, he seemed like himself and it didn't appear that he would have any lasting major neurological damage. I left the hospital on Tuesday thinking that they would keep him a couple of days and send him home. 

The next day, however, he had a massive stoke. I didn't go to the hospital on that day because I thought he would be fine, so when I went to see him the next day, he was much altered from the way he was on Tuesday. His condition continued to deteriorate from last Wednesday until today when he was taken straight to the Great Physician and was healed for good. I'm sad but I have peace that he is with the Lord now and I'll see him again there one day. He walked into the arms of his Savior as he was surrounded by his family. We were with him to the very end and I'm grateful to have been there when he breathed his last.  We all knew he loved us and he knew we loved him. 

A couple years ago at Gran's 80th birthday.

My grandparents were together almost sixty years. (She'll tell you exactly how long.....they lacked one year and seven months being married sixty years. Her exact words.) I'm so grateful to have witnessed their love. My granddaddy loved to sing. I'll never forget the song he sang to her in front of friends and family at their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary party. It's an old Southern Gospel song called I Hope We Walk the Last Mile Together:

I hope we walk the last mile together
Hand in hand, we can see the promised land
We’ve been through a lot of bad times but our love is forever
And I hope we walk the last mile together

We made our house a home for our little ones
We’ve known happiness, yes we’ve known sorrow too
Oh we’ve walked in the sunshine and we’ve walked stormy weather
And I hope we walk the last mile together

I remember when you first said I love you
I didn’t know that our love could be so strong
But today I find its still mine, for its come and go whatever
And I hope we walk the last mile together

And they did walk that last mile together. What a great legacy to leave behind....that he was man who loved the Lord, loved his wife, and loved his family. I could only hope that the same would be said of me one day. 

Love his smile!

These next couple of days are going to be difficult for my family as arrangements are made and we have the funeral. A lot of us are really tired from being at the hospital for almost a week with him, especially my grandmother, dad, aunt, and uncle. (Some of us drove back and forth, and some stayed either at the hospital with him or a hotel across the street.) Please keep my family in your prayers during this time. Thanks in advance. 

 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Choosing a Gray Paint Color

First of all, let me just say that choosing a gray paint color is about as hard as deciding how to spell the color's namesake. (According to Grammarist, grey and gray are two spellings of one word. Both are correct, while gray is most common in American English. But, I see it interchangeably used all the time, which keeps me kind of off balance and wondering how in the world I should spell it. I think the UK and US should have a pow wow, decide on one way to spell gray or grey and stick to that. In my head, I've played it out how the US will argue for gray and the UK will argue for grey and no one will agree and it will spark this huge nation-wide debate, leading to a boycott of the UK and a general degeneration of international relations between the two countries. I think I have an overactive imagination.)

Anywho, back to the matter at hand. Gray. So many grays to choose from. Blue-grays and purple-grays and green-grays and beige-grays (or greige). How in the world is one supposed to muddle through all of the various shades of gray. (Haha. No pun intended on that one.) 

I tackled the seemingly impossible task of narrowing down the playing field to four. (A couple of these thanks to suggestions from Instagram friends.) 

1. Sherwin Williams Repose Gray
2. Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray
3. Benjamin Moore Gray Owl
4. Benjamin Moore Winter White

This color is going in our main living space and there is various amounts of light throughout the room, making the colors look totally different on one side of the room compared to the other side. So, I put up the swatches in five different areas so I could see the colors in all types of light. Some areas get lots of natural light while others get no natural light, but just some really bad overhead light. I think that when you're choosing any paint color, it's important to do this for you to get a true feel of the color in the different areas, and also to see how the color changes throughout the day as the light changes.

No natural light here. These colors look  totally different in this area than in an area with lots of natural light.

I also wanted to make sure that the gray I choose looks good beside my kitchen cabinets, so I put a swatch there. My cabinets are painted with Black Fox by Sherwin Williams. It's a really dark gray.

At this point, I'm leaning toward Gray Owl or Repose Gray. Mindful Gray read too purple in the room and Winter White was just too, well, white. Repose Gray did seem a little on the blue side at certain points in the day so I think right now Gray Owl is in the lead. Unless I change my mind. Which is entirely possible. I'm going to look at them for another couple of days before I decide. Do you have any favorite gray (or grey) paint colors? Leave me comment and let me know!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Will You Please Help Me?

Today, I need to ask you all a favor. This is a very personal request, but I really need your help. 
A recent photo of my mom.

This is my mom. Her name is Letha and she was diagnosed with Follicular Mycosis Fungoides Lymphoma, a rare form of cancer. She's actually had it for about three years now, or maybe longer, but was mis-diagnosed not once but twice. It was so hard to be told that she had cancer, then that she didn't have cancer but that it was actually another disease. Then, to be told again that she does have cancer, then doesn't, then does. Talk about whiplash for her and for our family, especially knowing that it had gone untreated for so long because of the lack of a proper diagnosis. 

Grand-baby snuggles. My mom with my nephew, Liam.

Mom with my daughters at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.
The thing is, since it's a rare form of cancer, she doesn't have a lot of answers. She doesn't know anyone else with this form of cancer or anyone who knows someone with it. Even with the doctors, it seems like a guessing game to me. She's researched online, and I've researched it too, but it still feels like we don't really have a lot of answers or that it's such a broad disease that what we know is just really vague.

Mom with my nephews, Tripp and Liam.

Recently, my mom put this on Facebook, hoping to connect with someone who 

is suffering with the same type of cancer or someone who may know about it. 

Here was her request:

"It's been on my mind that I don't know anyone else that has the same type of cancer that I do. It would 

be so nice to be able to talk to someone about the daily struggle to keep it under control, if the same 

things flare theirs up as does mine and what they do. Does anyone know anybody who has the rare 

lymphoma called Follicular Mycosis Fungoides?"

My mom has been such a trooper through all of this, but I know it weighs on her heavily. If you have that type of cancer, or know someone who does, we'd really like to connect. It'd be great to see what treatments others with this cancer are going through (Mom prefers a natural approach), what they do to manage the symptoms and flare-ups, progression of the disease, and so on. Please help if you have any information that could be of use. Feel free to comment below or email me at And of course, we'd welcome your prayers! Thanks so much for taking the time to read! Maybe we can find someone for her to connect with as she goes through all of this! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Stenciled Fall Doormat

In my opinion, it's never too early to start thinking about fall. Or maybe it's just my way of coping with the oppressive south Alabama heat and humidity; looking ahead to cooler days and eagerly awaiting the autumn leaves to fall. If you are nodding in agreement with me right now, perhaps an "amen" escaping your lips, then this post is for you. Although the humidity is so high around here you could slice it with a knife, fall is just around the corner and we might as well be prepared, right?

I started with Trampa mat from Ikea. I really wanted this mat to be simple and to look like a sign that was stenciled by a farmer at his pumpkin patch. I used simple stencils, some that can be found at dollar stores, craft stores, or supercenters.

Once I decided how I wanted the wording, I just used latex craft paint on the stencils. And here is the finished product! Voila!

I think Molly even approves of our new fall doormat.

I love this project because of how simple and easy it is, and because it can be personalized to say whatever you want. Getting ready for fall is so much fun!

Linking up to:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Office Update: New Light Fixture and a Black Wall

Progress on our office has been at a snail's pace for a long time. We've had a plan, and upper and lower cabinets for built-in's for a long time as well, but just haven't been able to get much of anything accomplished. But, we have finally made a little bit of headway. I had a deadline for a couple of articles for Southern Holiday Life, and that helped light a fire under me to get busy on this room once again. 

Before I could take photos for the article, I really needed to get a new light fixture in here. The light that was in here when we bought the house was a pretty chandelier, but it just wasn't going to work for an office. (This room was actually the formal dining room, but we felt that it was too small to use the space that way. It's the perfect size for an office, though.) I got rid of the chandelier, then we had added a cafe light strictly for temporary use. 

Temporary cafe light.

I knew that I wanted a gold light for this room, but finding a flush mount or semi-flush mount gold light was another story. We decided to purchase one that was the shape we wanted and I would spray paint it gold. 

I really liked this Kichler Bronze Metal fixture. It's not your run-of-the-mill light, and I really liked the exposed vintage style bulbs. And at a great price point, we went ahead with the purchase and I used my favorite gold spray paint to make it just right. 

Aren't those bulbs so pretty? I love the light painted gold!

Next, we had to remove the back panel of the lower cabinet for the office built-ins so that it wouldn't cover up the electrical outlets and internet cable access. Once we, and by we I mean my husband, removed the back panel, we slid the cabinet roughly into to place. (Oh, and by the way, I painted a black focal wall so that the white cabinets would really pop. I'm really loving black walls right  now. So dramatic and sophisticated!)

We couldn't slide the cabinet all the way back because of the base trim and cords along the wall. We'll have to cut the trim and notch the right hand shelf in order to make the cabinet flush, but still allow for the electrical. Also, that is an upper cabinet just sitting on top of the lowers. The plan for this space is to have the cabinets center, a wood countertop to run the length of the entire wall so that there will be two "desk" areas on either side of the lower cabinet, and open shelving to extend the length of the wall on either side of the upper cabinet. 

I moved the DIY black and white striped curtains that were in my daughter's bedroom into this space and I really like them here for now. They really pop off of the gray wall and I like how they coordinate with the black wall.

I drew it out to help us get more of a visual. Now, we're going to call on a carpenter to help us with the details of finishing the space out. I want to make sure we do this right, and that means trim detail that feels a bit over our heads. I hope to have another update soon! 

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Free Back to School Encouragement Printables

Another school year is upon us. What better than to send your kiddos off with a little encouragement tucked into a folder or lunchbox? Feel free to download and print as many as you want! Links are below each printable. They will look the best sized at 4x6 or smaller. (For personal use only. Copyright Cultivate Create 2015.) Don't forget to pin, like, and share!

Download HERE.

Download HERE.

Download HERE.

Download HERE.
Enjoy! Here's to a great new school year!

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Whirlwind Summer

Summer.....well, what can I say about summer? It went by so fast, that I almost mistook it for the Roadrunner. Or the Flash. Seriously, I blinked and June was gone. I blinked again and July is gone. We're gearing up for back to school bashes, school supplies, and the first day of a new school year. In less than a week's time, we will once again be thrust back into the grind, the daily ebb and flow of drop offs and pick ups and ball and dance get the picture.  

Grayton Beach

If you haven't noticed, I haven't posted much on the blog over the summer. Maybe once a week. That's been because of the sheer busyness and craziness of our lives during the summer break. But, I have a lot of projects going on and can't wait to get back to a normal posting schedule once the kids start back to school. Please bear with me! 

Destin, FL

At the beginning of the summer, I intentionally decided to forego signing my kids up to the multiple day camps and activities that were offered because I wanted our schedule to be open if we decided to head to the beach for the day or whatever came up. I am so glad that I made that decision because this summer was officially our busiest one yet. We had a lot of unexpected but wonderful surprises that I am so glad that we were available to embrace and participate in. If our schedule had been more planned out, we wouldn't have been able to do some of those things. 

Here are some of the highlights of our busiest summer yet!

Beach day with some of our Iowa family!

Having fun at Destin Harborwalk Village.

Cousins at Grayton Beach FL.

Friends having Fourth of July fun!

The down-side to all of that, was the lack of schedule all summer. Usually, we get into some type of routine that enables us to keep things going smoothly, keep bedrooms and the house clean. It just didn't happen this summer. I haven't even been to the gym all summer since we've been so busy. Mind you, I've walked occasionally and done some free weights and things at home, but nothing consistent. I'm really looking forward to getting back on a set schedule with that.

Our oldest, Kat, was baptized this summer.

Hiking to the falls at Chewacla State Park.

Chewacla Falls

Six Flags over Georgia

Georgia Aquarium

Minion Movie with cousins! This was an awesome theater.....fully reclining seats made for a comfy viewing experience. 
Spending time with cousins at Nana's house is always fun!
We love the theater! Had a blast with my mom watching The Little Mermaid at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomer, AL.

We've made lots of memories this summer, but I'm welcoming the routine of the new school year! It's still hard to believe how fast it flew by!

How has your summer been? What are some of your favorite memories? Leave a comment....I'd love to hear!

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