Summer So Far

By Natalie

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Hey guys, summer’s here.

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Actually it’s been here for a couple weeks. I’m just beginning to get my bearings.

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Because, as the lady from camp mentioned “Girlie, you got your hands full.”

Cue Caleb spinning, and giggling down the hall, Ryder close behind squealing as his backpack strings bounce behind. Grant picks up pace, and I pick up mine, until I have to actually jog, because they’re all now in a full on sprint toward the door.

imageSchool is out, which means this kiddo ↓ gets all the pool time he can dream of. But you better believe that come nap time, after the wet clothes are hung to dry for the next day, and the lunch dishes are put away, Caleb and I curl up together to read a book.

I read a couple chapters out of this Magic Tree House book during spring break just to see if he’d like it. Then, when Mommy came home he’d jump up and down excitedly talking about our book’s characters, Jack and Annie.

My sisters read with me when I was little, and always encouraged me to get lost in books. As an avid reader, Caleb’s receptiveness made my heart full.

I read a chapter a day, and just last week we finished it!

Proud nanny moment. 
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Our first week was all adjustments, and rule testing, and swim suits, and snacks, and parks, and heat, and timeouts, and giggles. Rough days, and perfect days.

But now. I think we’ve finally jumped into the swing of things.

Ryder started  camp our second week of summer, which meant we were driving up to Davidson. Caleb, Grant and I killed a few hours each day, doing something different.

The last day we pulled up to camp Ryder said “Yay camp! See you later guys!”

Ryder loves some individualized attention. Camp meant he got just that, and by the end of the week he was all about it.

Monday, we packed our towels, and lunch, and laid out at Ramsey Creek Park’s new swimming beach.
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Tuesday, we went for a stroll on downtown Davidson’s streets in search of a coffee shop I’d bookmarked on Yelp. I stepped out back with my mocha in hand, and Caleb asked if they could play on the playground. That’s right. Perfectly placed behind this coffee shop was this mini playground. I sat down on the brick steps and watched them play. Kept them entertained long enough for me to finish my coffee, and kill enough time until the mini golf place opened.
imageMini golf.. Boy that was an interesting adventure. We had sunscreen, shades, hats, and water… But man oh man that sun was beating down on us. Halfway through, the heat got the best of my charges.

“Caleb, remember what I said in the car?” I said as Caleb laid on the green in frustration.

“We’re just here to have fun. It’s ok if you don’t make it in the hole. And do you know what else? I’m proud of you for waiting patiently for others to play. But right now another family is waiting their turn, so you may not lay here, and block their way just because you are frustrated.”

He hops up, and I’m surprised as usual when my pep talk actually works. He plays a few more holes, and finally looks up at me and says “Ma-alie, I’m hot. I’m done.”

The sweat droplets chasing eachother down my temples told me that was just fine.

I grabbed Grant’s hand, and we veered off the course.

When we got to the top we returned our clubs, and said thank you.

But that red ball. Grant was not giving it up. He went boneless on me, refusing to be alright with the fact that I put away his ball. I picked him up so he could see it. The girl behind the window kept it open for us.

“Say buh-bye ball. We’re all done.”

G looked at me, then the ball. He waved at the ball, and we walked on.

Again… When they trust me enough to try what I’m offering them, it’s gold.
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Wednesday, and Thursday we spent the day at Jetton Park.

Playgrounds, trail walks that lead to gazebos, and a lakeside lunch.

Does it get any better?imageimageYou are never too cool for your nanny. Let that be known.imageCaleb grabbed my phone, and snapped these sweet moments.

Then he said, “Aw send that one to mommy, she will lub it.”imageimage

Relaxing? At first, yes. Then it was all spitting into the cracks. Because, boys.

Also, Grant. Forever learning the tricks of the trade from his brothers. ↓

Oh me.imageimageimageimage

Lastly, this view from the volunteer parking lot on Sunday… Icing on the cake.image


Myrtle Beach & The Future

By Natalie

imageimageIsn’t it interesting how you make up these plans for your life, so certain that they’ll come to pass.. And years later you find yourself chuckling at those plans. Because you were a different person when you made them.

Brandon and I sat on the pier in Myrtle beach this past weekend after filling up on fresh seafood.

We took turns talking about our favorite memories together in our five years of marriage. Our wedding. Our honeymoon in the mountains. Our vacations. Our moves. Our growth. All of it.

We took some time to talk about our future too as we watched young kids splash around in the water. We had a plan for where we’d be at this mark, but it is so far off from what we ever imagined.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of personal journaling lately, leaving little to be shared here. But this is a safe place, so I’m just going to toss it out there.

I thought I’d be dying to get pregnant by this point. And part of me does feel that way, sure. I have a happy home, a dog who loves licking sticky fingers, and a supportive husband, why wouldn’t I feel the urge to expand our family?

But sometimes ya know.. I really don’t. If it happened tomorrow, I’d be happy. If it didn’t, I’d still be happy. Babies are scary right? God allots you the strength you need, and the patience to get through parenthood, which is incredible. But I’ll admit, after so many years it gets hard to imagine what it’ll actually be like.

I stayed with my sister last trip to Fredericksburg. My eyelids were growing heavy, and I was dying for sleep when I looked over, and saw Nem passed out beside me. I walked into the kitchen to clean up, and I saw my brother in law fast asleep on the couch. I squinted to see the time on the microwave, telling me it was close to midnight. I walked into the living room, and saw Maceo sleeping in his swing. This tiny little human rendering his whole family exausted. I got myself ready for bed, and was about to slip under the covers when my sister’s alarm on her phone went off. It was feeding time. AGAIN. My brother in law woke up as delirious as ever, and Nem came to, eyes tired. We spent another few hours awake, caring for Maceo, and watching Caribbean Life on HGTV.

People say you’re never ready, and I believe that’s certainly true. It sort of seems like you get convinced to do it, then once you tell everyone how hard it is, they give you this knowing nod.

But here’s the twist. I don’t doubt we are in a place where we’re ready. Nannying for one has taught me a lot. I realized very quickly that it’s better to get out of the house for all our sanity, even if the kiddos scream and cry. I know what it’s like to deal with temper tantrums in Target, cleaning up vomit, getting sneezed on, coughed on, and prepping food for hungry bellies while my own hunger pain is eating away at me.

My mom in law tells me it’s different with your own. That there is nothing like having your own children. I cling to that truth. I know that when we have our own it will be hard, and beautiful, and fun, and frustrating, and tiresome, but everything I ever imagined.

imageTo be honest, halfway through writing this I felt like deleting it. Because what if I feel differently tomorrow? Or next week? Or just a couple months from now? I’ve decided that’s ok. It’s ok to feel like today I want to travel more. See more mountains, more beaches, more of the world. Spend more quality time with my husband, and focus on becoming a better me.imageTomorrow I can throw that all out the window, and say let’s start a family. Because no matter when you have kids you will be making a sacrifice. There’s no shame in cutting off deadlines, and living in abandonment of the path God has you on. It doesn’t mean that I can’t plan, it just means that it’s ok for plans to change. It’s ok to uproot, and move towards whatever feels right for us at the moment. Life is surprisingly much smoother that way..

And Nana Poe says no! More grand babies! I do hate leaving you hanging like this. One day Mom, I promise. One day. image

Goodbyes

By Natalie

imageMan goodbyes are the hardest.
I took the train up to Fredericksburg this past weekend for my sister’s baby shower. Friday morning Brandon dropped me off at the train station. When I finally realized which line I was supposed to be in it was already half gone. I pointed and said to B “This is me.” And he smiled and said “K. Have fun. Bye. Love you.” There was only time for a quick goodbye kiss, and I headed for the platform.
My aunt waited to pick me up in Fredericksburg, and took me straight home to feed me the food of my childhood. I settled in, just as if I had never left.
Nem’s shower was a sea of faces to catch up with. A place full of people who have met my sister somewhere along the way, and ecstatic to be celebrating the baby she and Sean are expecting. After saying our until next times to the last of the guests, I hopped in the back seat of the Lawrence’s car. I looked over as I buckled my seatbelt, and Norah turned her head toward me, and smiled.
“Oh she loves it when someone rides back there with her.” Nadir said.
We get to the Lawrence’s and I snuggle in there. Nadir and I catch up, and we laugh together at reruns of our favorite sitcom. Norah downed a bottle, and nuzzled right into me when she finished. Being the second center of attention at a party is exhausting for a little one.imageThe next morning I walked into Norah’s room to get her up. I peeked into her crib, and she lay there peacefully.
“Good morning Norah.” I said as I brushed my fingertips down her arm. She wriggled, and stretched her arm up, resting the back of her forearm on her forehead.
“You are just a snoozer.” I said as I reached my hands under her arms, and pulled her close. She blinked her eyes open to meet my gaze.
“Hi, sweet pea.”
I laid her on the changing table to get her in a fresh diaper. She smiled at me, and stretched her legs. “Yea are you in a good mood today?”
I took a second to admire her, since she is growing so fast, and I thought about little Grant. How one day I was gently settling him into his bassinet, and now I find myself walking into the nursery of a bouncing toddler in his crib. The two of us laughing, as I swoosh him out.
I get Norah ready and Nadir drives me to meet up with the Poes. I kissed Norah goodbye, and gave my sister a grateful hug. Not allowing it to last too long, cause if it did, we’d both be in tears.
I spent Sunday morning with my in laws, which seems too detached of a word. They’re Mom. They’re Dad, and Laura. Ryan, Ashley and my wild nephews Mason and Everett, still in the peak of their childhood.
Their home, it feels like home, and I love being back there.
Mom, Dad, and Laura took me to the train station, and waited on the platform with me. The train pulled in, and the hugs were too short. I found my seat, threw my suitcase up top, and sat. I looked out the window, and saw Mom and Laura walking up and down the length of the car I stepped into, looking for me. I knocked on the window, and then noticed the girl in front of me was asleep, resting her head on the window. I waved, but they didn’t see me. I watched them still searching, as the train pulled away, and my heart sank. “Goodbye.” I said to myself as I watched Fredericksburg slip away into the trees.

Leaving Fredericksburg is like leaving home. But when the train pulled into Charlotte I felt at home too. I love it here. I love our life here. I want to build a future here. Goodbyes will always be difficult. But without goodbyes there’s no anxious and excited hellos. As easy as it would be to give into the sadness of a goodbye, I must remember the path that God has laid for us, and the direction he is leading us. That makes the goodbyes easier, because in fact they’re not goodbyes at all. They’re simply a see you soon. 
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Local Library

By Natalie

Since for the past year I’ve been in the habit of taking Grant to story time at the Library, I’ve fallen in love with just how wonderful a place full of stories can be.

The set up at our library has the children’s area, and books on hold downstairs. Fiction, and nonfiction rest upstairs with dozens of tables and chairs strewn along the length of the windows.

imageTypically I’ll search for the book I’m ready to dive into next at home, and place it on hold. Then I’m able to walk in with G, grab my book, and lead him to the little house made up of storybooks for kids. He steps inside the little house with a couple other tots, all pulling corduroy, and other plush storybook characters out of a basket that sits in the corner.

He usually steps out to present his findings to me, smiling and grunting. He excitedly stumbles back into the little house to see what else he can discover, while I stand there alongside 20 other moms, and nannies watching our littles play.

If you have a little, infant to toddler, and you’re not in the habit of going to story time I have to tell you truthfully that you are missing out. The first time I went Ryder was almost 3, and Grant was 4 months. Little toddler girls ran up to the car seat when I grabbed a bottle to feed Grant, and they could not stop uttering the word Bae-Bee when I placed him on my shoulder to burp him.

These days when we go to story time Grant is happy to get up and run into the middle of the room with the other kiddos while a librarian reads to them. He’ll venture out just far enough to be on the other side of the circle, standing to stare at each woman sitting in front of him until he comes across my face, and senses the recognition. I smile, and say “Hey.” In hushed tone, and he runs to my lap, barreling into me. He’ll sit like that for just a moment until he gets settled, and then he’s right back up to repeat it all over again. It never gets old to see his face light up when he spots me in a room full of other women and children. My heart melts every time he joins me for the next song.imageClap your hands *Clap-Clap* Clap your hands *Clap-Clap* Everybody clap your hands *Clap-Clap* Clap your hands, clap your hands, clap your hands, clap your hands, everybody clap your hands. *Clap-Clap*

And then we go into Stomp your feet *Stomp-Stomp* Stomp your feet *Stomp-Stomp* and G really gets into it. Hinging at his knees on the edge of my lap to stomp his heels on the floor.

On the days when I forgot to place a book on hold, but am still yearning for a good read I head up the stairs with Grant in my arms. At the bend in the stairs he points to a painted picture on the wall. “Uhhhah” he moans. “Yes I know Grantsy, it’s a ship in the ocean.” And we stand there for a minute gazing at the blueish watercolor.

Once we hit the top of the steps it’s deadly quiet. I step into an aisle of nonfiction, and G continues his pointing, and “Uhhah” sounds. The area echoed like you would not believe. “I see that book.” I whisper.

He motions toward the window, and points to the trees outside. Making some more babble, when an older woman rounded the corner into our view.

“Well hello.” She whispers. “You must be the one I heard, huh?”

G smiles, and rests his head on my shoulder bashfully.

“Yes, you’re a sweet boy huh?” She smiles, and moves on, and G picks his head up to watch her go.

I snag a book on parenting, or the development of babies, and we make our way downstairs to check out. G sits up on the counter while I scan the books giving my arm a break. I hum our story time tunes as I set him in his car seat and we head back home. He giggles as he looks out the window, kicking his legs in approval of our outing.

The Nip in the Air

By Natalie

I walked into the Harris Teeter this morning to grab a bag of tortilla chips which I forgot on my original grocery shop yesterday. I’ve planned to make a dairy free Mexican layer dip this week, which I have been oddly craving for quite some time, and finally decided that the only way I’d be able to have it dairy free would be if I made it myself. This layer dip has been on my mind for so long, and I remembered every ingredient for it, except for the tortilla chips! Can you believe that?

I grabbed a couple bushels of firewood on my way out since the chilly air has finally made its way here. And we’ll hopefully be enjoying a fire this very night.

imageWe’re obsessed with our fireplace around here, didn’t you know? And when I say we I mean Brandon is obsessed with creating them, I am mesmerized, and cling to the warmth of them, and Bingley will plop very nearly too close the second those flames pop up. I think he will be devastated if our next place doesn’t have a fire. To be honest it’s another thing to set at the top of our priority list! Which is really the beauty of renting, because we have lived in such different spaces we’ve learned what functions well, and what to avoid.

Speaking of… Chilly weather.. Chilly weather, and three boys is possibly the most stressful mix ever. Did you know? Now that the weather has gotten cold enough for the necessity of coats, shoes, and hats there has been quite the wrangling going on at the Coggins back door. I’m pretty sad to say goodbye to barefoot, and swim shorts. image

I’ve got two socks, and one shoe on Ryder. One sock on Caleb that isn’t fit quite right, and I’m battling with him to put a coat on. Grant is totally aware now of the fact that putting shoes on means we’re going out, so he reaches for the doorknob like a trapped prisoner.

“Why do we have to wear coats?” Caleb says.

“Because it’s cold outside, and I want you to be warm.”

“Why is it cold?”

“Because it’s winter now.”

“Why is it winter?”

“Because the season changed.” (Mind you, I’m holding this conversation yelling over Bailey’s whining, and shrill barks. You might ask, “Why don’t you just let Bailey out while you get them ready Natalie?” To which I’d answer, “Because God forbid I did, then Grant would crumple to the floor in anger that I didn’t let him out barefoot, and coatless too.” It’s really a matter of preference.)

Caleb continues, while I pull a hoodie over a frustrated Ryder. He gets a particular sort of upset when you put a hoodie on him instead of a coat. Like you’ve just betrayed him by dressing him in something he cannot take off. But that is in fact why we put it on him, because otherwise he’d be frolicking in the nip shirtless!

“Why did the seasons change Matalie?”

“Alright Caleb, that’s enough questions, put this on.” I hand him a jacket, and help him with the zipper.

By this point Ryder is ready, Grant’s got shoes on, Caleb has a coat on, but insisted on changing his shoes. Pullover, pullover, where is Grant’s pullover? I grab it off the couch, and slide it over his head to which he always giggles, and that helps relieve the commotion a bit.

Somehow I’m always the last to put my shoes on, but I’m not silly enough to wear anything that takes more than a slip onto my feet when I’m with them. So I’m ready quickly, and open the door. The boys, and Bailey all trample past one another, spilling outside like a waterfall.

Of course, on a good day, I get each of them ready individually, in secret, before Bailey even hears anyone utter the words Outside.

 

 

DIY: Christmas Bunting

By Natalie

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Here’s what you’ll need…

  • 2-3 feet of Fabric (Depending on how long you want your bunting to be.)
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Pinking Shears
  • Double Fold Bias Tape
  • Matching Thread
  • Pencil
  • Iron
  • Stencil
  • Sewing Machine

I have been sewing for about three years, and I still make some serious rookie mistakes. Since I purchased pinking shears, buntings have been my favorite easy sewing project. I found this fabric, and thought I was being conscious of getting only as much as I needed, only to find out that once I cut out my triangles, half of them would reveal upside down christmas trees! Apparently I’d never used a print that it mattered which way I cut. Rookie mistakes.

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Sometimes even the easiest of DIYs can turn out to be a headache. Don’t fret! You are not alone.

I made a stencil a while back out of a piece of cardstock, and would highly recommend doing so, as it makes your tracing much quicker. I simply used a straight edge to measure out how large of a triangle I wanted, and cut my piece of cardstock.

Once you’ve made a stencil lay it on the back of your fabric and trace away. (This is where I bring the ironing board into the living room, and start a netflix show)

When you’ve finished tracing, use your pinking shears to cut the triangles out. Pinking shears keep your fabric from fraying. Which is why you won’t need to sew a front and back piece together for this type of bunting. At some point I’m sure the fabric cut with the shears would fray after a little wear and tear, but since buntings are merely decorative, and I swap them out through the seasons, I’ve never felt the need to make them double sided. It should take a long time for them to actually start fraying.

imageOnce you’ve cut out your triangles you’ll want to iron out any wrinkles or folds before you place them in the double fold bias tape. Bias tape can be found in most craft stores near the threads, zippers, and other bindings. Just a tip I could have used when I found myself walking up and down the ribbon aisle looking for whatever that stinking bias tape was.

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Pin your work together like so, and carefully carry it over to your sewing machine.

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I like to use a zig zag stitch, to match the look of the cut outs, and just because I feel like it holds better.

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Keep your pin cushion close to discard each pin as you go. You may need to readjust as you go, and be sure to keep your cut outs pushed all the way up to the bias tape fold.

Once you’ve finished your work should look something like this↓image

Hang it up, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

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Gone Camping

By Natalie

imageI am not in the business of leading you to believe that the events which take place in our lives are absolutely golden. Because just like everybody else, that is not always the case.imageWe went camping this past weekend and we did have quite a bit of fun, but I also managed to forget batteries for the lantern, misplaced Bingley’s long leash, and very last minute we decided we were in need of a sleeping bag.

Saturday morning we shoved most everything in our tent to meet Sara and Dave for an apple festival. After meandering around, wasting fourteen dollars on tickets, and wondering what all the fuss was about, we realized we were in the wrong place. Parking at a family farm full of kiddie swings, and hay mazes rather than an apple orchard.

Naturally Brandon was all “What’s the name of the place we’re supposed to be?” And when I responded he said, “Yea, that’s not where we are.” And he pointed to the sign out front that read Peach Farm. Copilot fail on my part for the umpteenth time in our marriage.

Because I consider myself such a planner… such an organized freak, these things just get my goat. Trickling their way in to ruin things. I give myself the hardest time. I don’t like it one bit, but I do send myself into these whirlwinds of self shaming, and I’m exhausted from it. This time it was forgetting things, and getting us wrong directions. Weeks ago it was accidentally demolishing a souvenir shot glass from Sacramento in the garbage disposal. Weeks before that it was having made a dinner without 2 important ingredients that made all the difference. And so on…

I can’t stand for it. Not when it’s only simple honest mistakes. Not when I remembered everything else on our trip including Wet Wipes that I excitedly whipped out like some kind of magician when Brandon plainly mentioned he wished to rinse his hands after his S’more Friday night.
imageimageimageBack at the campsite I sat to chop peppers, steak, and onion for our kabobs. B went out to grab batteries for the lantern, and I wanted to sit there feeling terrible that it was my fault he was needing to run out. But just before the thoughts could take hold of my mind I heard a bunch of children playing behind me shouting “Daddy this, and Dad that.” All while this father set up their camp. I thought to myself as I often do, “What will it be like to camp years from now and hear those words escape the mouths of our own little ones?”

Brandon came back and I totally had to apologize for my behavior. Then we moved on, and got to skewering our kabobs.imageimageimage

Swooooon.

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Fall Camping Essentials

As told by Natalie Poe for her kind of Camping

Leisure 

  • Tent
  • Camping Chairs
  • Sleeping Bag (as a top layer for warmth)
  • Air Mattress (lightly blown up to provide support for gravel sites)
  • Pillows
  • Flannel & or fleece blankets
  • Lantern
  • Book

Food Supplies

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  • Tablecloth
  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Pot Holder
  • Grilling Tongs & Spatula
  • French Press or Percolator
  • Thermos (one for drinking water, one for coffee)
  • Scissors
  • Plastic Egg Carton
  • Salt & Pepper + Other Condiments
  • Camping Utensils
  • Plates
  • Paper Towel Roll
  • Wet Wipes
  • Long Skewers (for hot dogs & mallows!)
  • Pot for Water (to make coffee in the morning!)
  • Thermal bag (to keep the non refrigerated stuff from freezing, or melting)
  • Cooler
  • Ice packs
  • Camping Stove (this is what we heat out water up on.)
  • Firewood
  • Fire Starter (bricks or gel)
  • DIY Firestarter
  • Reusable Bags

Puppy

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  • Food & Water
  • Food & Water Bowl
  • Long Leash
  • Doggie Bags
  • Treats
  • Sweater (if you’ve got a small short haired pup who needs it)
  • Glow in the Dark Collar!

Clothing

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  • Layers, Layers, Layers! (especially when it’s warm during the day, and cool when the sun sets.)
  • Wigwam Socks (to keep your little piggies toasty)
  • Warm Sneakers, Boots, or Moccasins.
  • I like to wear athletic pants that I can pull fleece pj pants over for extra warmth
  • Hoodie
  • Long & Short Sleeve Tees
  • Hat (sadly not everyone has an awesome sister in law to knit them a warm hat like we do. So you will have to settle for some other ho hum hat.)
  • Fingerless Gloves
  • And of course, flannel!

DIY: Side Table

By Natalie

Last summer Brandon and I found ourselves walking through the aisles of Home Depot to find materials for our latest project. We had collected all of our wood, and were looking for the best set of nails when an older man passed by us chuckling. He said something along the lines of this project being my vision, and contracting my honey to create it. He was exactly right. I found a picture of a side table that I liked, and it seemed easy enough for my craftsman to put together.

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B had this project finished in just a few hours. Sawing, sanding, and drilling together this magnificent table with measurements of his own liking.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • 3/4 inch Wood Planks
  • 4 Wood Posts
  • Nails
  • Screws
  • Sander, or Sandpaper to smooth the edges
  • Tape Measure
  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Saw, or have the planks cut into the sizes of your liking
  • Stain

And then put it all together however tall, and spaced apart as you’d like. All you’ve really got to do after sanding the edges is screw the wood planks to the side, front, and top of the 4 wood posts. Then apply your stain. We actually had a stain that we were hoping to apply but never got around to it since I’ve loved the look of the natural wood.

Here she is…

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On Befriending My Curls

By Natalie

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After spending a muggy day outside this past summer my hair was more than what I would describe as poofy. Despite the frizz I decided to run to Michael’s to stock up on the supplies I was out of, and browse through the new fall decor. While I was browsing I came across this older woman who was dressed in her finest, looking like she had just come from her weekly salon appointment to have her hair done up. I motioned to squeeze past her as I thought she would most certainly judge my young manner of dressing in workout shorts, and a tie-dye tshirt. Hair gone awry, and flip flops flapping against my heels.

But she slowed her cart as we passed one another, made eye contact with me and said, “Your hair is very pretty.” with the sweetest old lady smile you’ve ever seen. Shocked, I blushingly smiled, and thanked her. I went home and looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “You know I wouldn’t be me without these curls.” Brandon is a huge fan of my curly head, most especially when they’re at their softest poofiest state. Even just today a woman passed me in the grocery store and complemented my curls. So why do I have the hardest time accepting them?

imageMaybe it’s because I’ve spent countless hours in front of the mirror trying my hardest to love them. Being tired of the fact that I can’t wake up, brush my hair and walk out the door. Maybe because I’ve endured several steam burns to the head while straightening the unruliness. Then curling iron curling them for a softer more acceptable look. Maybe because I’ve sat through the stinky, burning chemical relaxers in hopes of relaxing those defiant curls, only to later find out that now my roots were curly, and then ends lay limply straight against my shoulders. Not to mention all the hair loss. Maybe even because deep down I hate meeting someone for the first time with my natural curly head, only to later come across them with straight hair that gets complimented. That is the worst. It makes me feel like my curls are messy, and undesirable. Leaving me feeling uncomfortable in my natural head of hair.image

But this woman in Michaels, and the lady at the grocery store. They got me thinking.. I have a number of reasons to appreciate my locks.  A couple kind strangers, a handful of old coworkers who’d made it a point to compliment my uniqueness, one loving husband, a single Dove curly hair commercial, and alot of acceptance later I’ve decided to befriend my curls. That’s right! I said BEFRIEND them. From the cowlicks above my ears, to the roaring 20s wave on the left side of my temple, to the tight spirals that sit at the back of my cheekbones. I’ve come to terms with them. Most especially I’ve come to terms with the fact that no matter how hard I try to tame them, every single curl on my head has an intention of its own. After years and years of battling them, I confess to you I’m worn out. And you know what’s hilarious? The less product I put in them, the more beautifully they spring. It took me years to find that out! The more I’ve learned how to treat them the more they’ve been compromising with me. The irony is ridiculous.

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To my fellow curly heads,

Instead of shedding tears as I know you have while wishing desperately you were born with straight hair, start loving on those locks.

What I use to care for my curls
I’ve also used

I have tried the no shampoo method, replacing it with baking soda. I’ve also tried drying my hair with a cotton tee, instead of a terrycloth towel. Neither seemed to make much difference, and I really couldn’t handle the mess, and lack of scent with baking soda.

No curlyhead is the same. I must express my frustration with the fact that just because something works for me doesn’t even necessarily mean it’ll work for my sisters! I cannot necessarily walk up to another curly head, ask her how she nourishes her hair, and expect the same result. That fact can be frustrating, but really, it’s fantastic. Not one person has each individual curl that I do, where I do. We can totally be compared to snowflakes. Different, and beautiful, in our own unruly way.

Go on little snowflakes, be proud of that gorgeous head of hair!

The Apartment Upstairs

By Natalie

We are so backwards. When Brandon and I first got married we lived in the second floor of a house owned by an older man. The entire floor was a completed upstairs apartment featuring our own kitchen, laundry, bedroom, bath, and separate driveway. It was everything the pair of us young love birds needed.

imageAfter 2 years we left the apartment to spend the summer house sitting a close friend’s home, while she was on a missions trip. Which allowed us the time to house hunt without being held captive by a lease. At the end of the summer we bought our first house, and remained there for just under a year when we decided to uproot our lives completely and move to Charlotte, NC. Which felt very much like running away together. Being the best sort of romantic.

We found a townhouse in what we believed to be an alright neighborhood, only to find a year later that our commutes were less than ideal, and the places we enjoyed passing time were miles away. All summer I sat in bed at night flicking through our limited rental options on Zillow. Searching for homes that our little family would be comfortable in, and I couldn’t find a single thing. Which when you are aching to move, is the very worst feeling.

Then one evening I was sipping on my white mocha at our new found favorite coffee shop, and I spotted a decent apartment. Being in a smaller space wouldn’t be half bad if we were living in the area we actually wanted to live in. So we decided why not pack up from the townhouse, and move on to see what another area might be like? You see, there’s something you have to understand about us. The older we get the more often we gather to reassess our everchanging future. “Is this the right time for this? Should we wait longer to make one of those? Should we go ahead and revamp the dining chairs? Would two dogs actually be better? Nope definitely not. And which vacation should we be planning for next?”

Well this time it was a conversation about living space, and if sacrificing a little extra elbow room, and storage space was worth being part of a community we enjoyed. When you move away to find yourself, you don’t just sit in the first place you see, and figure it’s good enough. You keep striving for everything you’ve dreamed of, and moving until it feels right. Moving to an apartment in a different part of town felt right. So we went ahead and threw our name in the hat, and ended up with a move in date.

At this point you know I’m giddy. There is nothing I love more than spending a Saturday afternoon sifting through the junk all the way in the back corner of the closets. I’m not even worried about packing up our place on my own this time. Because let’s face it, Brandon will most likely be sitting in the midst of all his cables deciding which ones to keep like he was deciding the name of our first child. All in the time that it takes me to bubble wrap our entire kitchen.

As I’ve recently been deciding what stays, and what goes I’ve nostalgically been thinking back on our old apartment. And how now it won’t be referred to as simply the apartment, but our first place together. As we will technically soon be in an apartment for the second time.

Our landlord at our first home together turned out to be friendly. His outrageously obnoxious sneezes were plenty audible from our bedroom, and his grunts, and coughs everytime he ate a meal, were a little embarrassing when company was over. But that situation could have been so much worse.

The carpet in our bedroom was dark green, and the kitchen cabinets had forest green leaf handles. The standing shower with the gold trimmed doors was a nightmare to clean, and the trees in the driveway always dusted something on our cars no matter what season it was.

At one point we had a nasty run in with bugs. These tiny little vermin would scurry across our kitchen countertops, and I tried so very hard to convince myself that they were not cockroaches. Until the night I was making dinner with the stove on, and the oven preheating, when I managed to smoke out the mama roach. Screaming for Brandon to come quick I realized those were all of her babies on my counter that I had been smushing. B caught her, and later admit to me that he’d seen her before, but her quick little legs escaped him. I must have heated up wherever she was living, so much so that she needed to peek out, and that’s how she lost her life. But you know, I don’t feel bad. Because every morning, and every night I’d scrub those countertops clean, annoyed by those nasty bugs that were screwing with my cleanliness.imageNow here I sit in our living room full of furniture we picked out together. Bingley asleep at my feet, and the sound of jets soaring through the sky, and I’m thinking to myself.. “Back then, I never saw us here.”

Sometimes when I’m making dinner in front of the stove I’ll have visions of old mama roach, and she reminds me of where we’ve come from. That every difficult period, and every transition has been so perfectly placed in our lives to teach us something, and to remind us of how grateful we should be for those stepping stones that landed us on our montaintop.

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