Sunday, July 1, 2018

Our Beautiful Adventure Through France {Part 1}

I've been home now for almost a week and I feel like I'm still trying to wrap my mind around all the beautiful memories we made on our epic ten year anniversary trip through the beautiful country of France. 

Over the years, couples that we admire and trust have often encouraged us to prioritize our marriage by taking trips where it would just be the two of us. We started dreaming and planning this trip a few years ago and I'm so thankful that we did, because it was just... us.  Just Mike and Tab.  It's incredibly hard to leave your children, but I realized one night in Paris, as we sat enjoying a romantic dinner, that 12 days was actually a short amount of time that I had intentionally invested in my husband and in our marriage.  The shift in thinking was subtle, but a sweet lesson that I took away and I hope to share with all my married friends.  Take the trip.  Invite people into your life that can help with your children, and go on an adventure with your husband. 

Even now as I type this post, I still can't believe I was actually there.  Give me five minutes, and I can make you fall in love with France y'all.  It was the most beautiful country I think I've ever seen.  I would definitely recommend renting a car and driving through as much of it as you can.  There is so much to see.  

We started our trip by hopping in our rental car at the airport and driving a few hours south of Paris into the lovely region known as Burgundy.  We were able to explore 4 different regions of France on this trip.  Our driving route started in the wine country of Burgundy.  We then traveled into the French Alps, down the coast line to the South of France, and of course through the lovely region of Provence as we made our way back up to Paris. 

Burgundy.  This lovely slice of France is sprinkled with farmland, vineyards, and romantic castles.  The drive was so beautiful and I loved that we were able to take our time and explore a few different towns.  We made our first stop in the charming town of Semur-en-Auxois.  
We have friends that visited this little town and I'm so glad we were encouraged to check it out.  It's gorgeous architecture and winding cobblestone streets were just what my little heart was hoping for.  We spent our first afternoon exploring Semur-en-Auxois before making our way to our Airbnb in the larger town of Beaune.  

We had incredible experiences with Airbnb throughout France, but this little cottage was special.  Our hosts greeted us with kisses and congratulated us on our anniversary.  In fact, the sweet lady that owned our cottage took the opportunity to kiss Mike each time we passed by...or walked out to the car...every chance she got.  She was the sweetest! 
On Saturday morning, we slept in, enjoyed the first of many chocolate croissants, and made our way to the quaint farmers market, held every Saturday in the town center of Beaune.  
Mike and I enjoyed strolling past all the vibrant flowers, and fruits and vegetables.  We grabbed a box of the brightest strawberries I've ever seen and found sandwiches in one of the markets nearby for our picnic lunch later that afternoon.  

After making our way through the charming streets of Beaune, we visited the Hospice de Beaune.  It was a hospital foundation from the Middle Ages.  It's gothic architecture and magnificent tile roofs make this museum one of Burgundy's gems for sure. 

I was really drawn to this museum, because it was once a place that  some of the poorest people came to die.  The charitable owners wanted every single person, rich or poor, to have the opportunity to be loved and taken care of before they died. 

As we left Beaune, we made our way through beautiful vineyards with our picnic in tow.  We found a quiet spot to stop for lunch and enjoyed a gorgeous view of the vineyard. I remember thinking, I can't believe I am here with my man sitting in this gorgeous France.  So perfect. 
Of course, if I thought our romantic lunch was the highlight of the day, it's because I hadn't made it up to the Chateau de La Rochepot just yet.  We took the scenic route through the vineyards up to a beautiful castle on top of the hill.  It is in that moment, as we sat enjoying a cappuccino at a table for two outside this incredible castle that I thought.  I am absolutely certain I am dreaming. 
The history of this castle dates back to the 12th Century.  It was destroyed during the French Revolution.  This medieval fortress was  later restored in the 1800s and is now a museum.  We walked across the drawbridge and explored each room of the Chateau de La Rochepot.  We actually had the entire castle to ourselves and wandered through each room in awe. Burgundy was so good to us.  

We would have spent a few more days in this area, but I came across this picture on pinterest one day and completely re-routed our trip.  And I will tell you, that was a clutch move!  I saw a picture of the gorgeous lake town of Annecy with this intriguing castle in the town center that looked like a ship.  I immediately thought - I have to see this gorgeous town with my own eyes.  It was a two hour drive from Beaune, so we made it happen.  It may actually be my favorite region of France.  The French Alps are dreamy. 
 { Next Post - The French Alps}

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Georgia Mae is 11 Months! And a little trip to Walden Farm.

I couldn't wait to hold her.  Pregnancy and I are not friends and those last few weeks are sometimes the hardest.  I remember finally making it to October last year and thinking " I'm almost there..." It's hard to believe that I'll be planning her first birthday party and watching her taste cake for the first time in just a few short weeks!  

Georgia Mae at 11 months old: 

* This little baby LOVES to snuggle.  I don't remember my other girls doing this, but Georgia will grab my shirt and hang on as tight as she can while I rock her.  Don't worry sweet baby.  Mommy plans to snuggle you til you're a teenager :)

* Her favorite word is Uh-oh.  She can actually say this on command too.  
* She can clap and if you praise her and clap, she does a little wiggle she gets so happy!
* She is the best eater and likes almost anything we give her.  Favorites are still avocados, eggs, and blueberries.  She also loves any pasta.  She is my child...
* She has 4 teeth 
* Peek a Boo is her favorite game 
* She loves her big sisters and thinks their room and their toys are a hidden treasure she has discovered.  

Last October was such a hard month for me.  I was so uncomfortable and so PREGNANT.  I remember taking my big girls to Walden Farm a few days before Georgia was born and praying I would go in to labor that day.  I walked all over that farm but she made me wait a few more days to hold her.  I thought about that hard October day as I strolled Georgia around this afternoon.  She smiled watching her sisters ride the train and run through the maze, their giggles echoing through the air.  

I remember our very first trip to Walden Farm when Abigail was just two years old and every year I look back at pictures to see how much my girls have changed.  

My sweet Georgia Mae got a small taste of October today and I can't wait to introduce her to all the beauty of fall.  Jumping in the leaves in our backyard and baking pumpkin muffins with her sisters.  Swinging in the hammock with Daddy and picking out pumpkins for our front porch.  Apple picking on the farm and nature walks on the trail.  Today was just the beginning. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

{Georgia Mae }10 Months old & ON THE MOVE!

This blog holds many dear memories for me.  Sometimes I look back at a post and the photos take me right back to a particular moment in time .   I can recall the joy of the day or the laughter of my "photo shoot" attempts!  However, sometimes momma forgets... Maybe, I should have reviewed said posts so that I could refresh my memory on how silly it is to think I can take a picture of a 10 month old by myself.  My goodness. 

We were actually at the beach when little Miss here turned nine months old and as you can see in the picture above, it took two hands to keep her still long enough to get her picture - LOL.  

And so I did a little trip down memory lane, and realized that I tried to take a 10 month picture of Abigail and later Violet.  I'm not great with my big camera so it takes me a second to figure out the lighting and get things adjusted.  That is usually the exact moment those little babies take off and change it up for me!  So the 10 month blog is one of blurry faces and poor lighting.  

This picture of Abigail at 10 months old makes me laugh because I was literally crawling along with her singing and acting like a crazy lady just to get her to pause...

Then I got a little smarter with Violet and handed her a toy so she would sit still for a second at least so I could snap a photo of her sweet little hands.  

But little Georgia Mae kept me on my toes.  I tried to sit her on the bed but I picked up my camera and she almost dove off.  I tried to prop her on the couch and well, you know.  Eventually, I sat her on the floor and captured exactly what she is doing most at 10 months.  She is getting in to everything and pulling up on repeat!
Little stinker.  She is so active and curious.  This is what she is doing at 10 months old:

* Pulling up and cruising on furniture
* She does not like to be confined and will immediately try to climb out of            anything that keeps her from moving

* Crawling all over the house.  She loves to sneak down the hall to Abigail and      Violet's room when they aren't looking
* She LOVES "real food". Favorite foods are spaghetti, avocado, and scrambled      eggs 

* She loves to stick her tongue out at her Daddy!
* She is clapping and waving and blowing kisses
* She calls Miller " La La"
* She has two little bottom teeth and the sweetest smile

I realized this week that I need to start thinking about her 1st birthday.  This year has been such an adjustment for our family as we have added a little person, started kindergarten, continued our renovation, juggled ballet and soccer, and rearranged our routines again and again.  

I think I am finally getting to a new normal and when I get a second to catch my breath, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.  Georgia has been the perfect addition to our little family and I love being her mommy.  She is completely different than her big sisters in so many ways and I absolutely adore her sweet personality 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A trip to Pennsylvania {The sweetest summer days of 2017}

I closed my eyes just in time to feel the cool, summer breeze dance across my face.  I wanted to hold on to that moment for as long as I take a mental inventory of all the sights and sounds of that perfect, summer day on the farm.
Some days just stand out in your memory and this was one of those days for me.  I can still hear the laughter of my girls as they ran barefoot across the field.  I can hear the crank of the ice cream maker as all the little cousins took their turn making real ice cream out by the barn.  

I love the city, but there's something so refreshing about the simplicity of life on the farm.  It forces you to slow down and appreciate the sound of the crickets at night.  It welcomes you to see the beauty of a sunset over the cornfield.  It allows you the opportunity to feel the comfort of the fresh air as you sleep with the windows up.  

Last week, we packed up our little family and made the road trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  I am so grateful for our time in this beautiful 1834 farmhouse and the memories we made with our children are a gift I will cling to. 

We had a few busy days packed with family gatherings and events, but we also made some of the sweetest memories of the summer.  Our last full day at the farm, Mike and I sat on a blanket in the yard and reminded each other of all the joyful moments we had experienced that day. The roaring victories of grown men playing cards on the back porch, the laughter of children as they chased each other in and out of the back screen door, the taste of home made ice cream with peaches, the corn hole games out in the yard, and the long conversations with those you love out by the wagon.  It was the perfect summer day. 

I am so thankful to be a part of this sweet family.  They really are so special.  This trip was centered around a family reunion.  It wasn't just any reunion though, it was the 300 year celebration of Mike's family line.  Hans Christian Brubaker was an anabaptist in Lucerne, Switzerland.  He escaped religious persecution and immigrated to Lancaster,Pennsylvania to start a new life in 1717.  This is one of the oldest recorded families in North America.  It was pretty fascinating to hear all the history and see how many people gathered together to celebrate 300 years of faith, family, and freedom.  

On our last day in Pennsylvania, Mike had the honor of preaching at Rohrerstown Mennonite Church.  This 300 year old church has witnessed so many families that love and serve the Lord.  Many of them traveled long distances so they could celebrate 300 years together and remember how it all began back in 1717.  I love this picture of Mike and his 97 year old grandpa right before he got up to preach.  I watched this special moment and though I couldn't hear their conversation, I imagine it was one Mike will always remember.  

As we packed up in the minivan and set out for Nashville, Tennessee, Mike told me a little bit about that conversation with his Grandpa.  He said that one of his Grandpa's greatest accomplishments has been walking on the same land that his ancestors once did.  I have to wonder if maybe one day we will say the same.  
{Lancaster, Pennsylvania 2017}

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Eight Months Old

It's so true what they say about your third baby.  Everyone told me that Georgia would be my easy, adaptable baby and my goodness were they right!  Our family is in a very busy season of life and my little Georgia Mae just keeps smiling and adjusting to the pace! 

When I started this family blog, Abigail was just a baby.  Each month, I would put her little sticker on her onesie and take her picture.  Time goes by so fast and documenting our moments as a family is a creative way for me to capture the season of life we are in, and remember their sweet little smiles. 

Abigail is now my helper and she does such a good job getting Georgia's attention for photos!  She often stands behind me laughing and dancing around to get Georgia's attention.  I hope I always remember the joy in her laughter.  These moments with my girls are precious. 
This is what Georgia is doing at eight months old: 

* She is belly crawling all over the house!  Her favorite destinations are the floor vent and the dog's water bowl.  On repeat. 
* This baby LOVES blueberries.  She will eat anything as long as it has a little blueberry on it. 
* Her sweet pointer finger.  I love to watch her purse her lips together in concentration and use that little finger to explore.
* She can make kissing sounds back at you
* She loves her ball and her sippy cup more than life 

* She has her first two teeth 
* This little girl loves the water.  Watching a baby splash in the water with a joyful grin reminds you to slow down and take it all in

We are heading to the beach in a few short weeks and I am already dreaming of snuggling this baby under a quiet umbrella to the sound of the ocean while I watch Mike slave in the sun building sand castles... (veteran mom move of course)

{Eight Months Old~Georgia Mae}

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Exterior Renovation Part I {This Old House Our New Home}

I still remember the first time we drove by our house.  Mike and I had finished a race in Nashville that morning and we were headed back home to Franklin when we made a detour through a sweet little neighborhood in Brentwood.  As we drove around the quite streets, I looked out my window at the tall trees and the big yards and I started dreaming of our next home!  

We knew the family that owned the house we now call home and I remember texting that same day to see if they might allow us to rent their home while we tried to find a house to buy in the same neighborhood.  Who would have ever dreamed that a short ten months later they would contact us again to sell us their house off market.  It has been such a blessing to make this sweet house our home and as I said in my very first renovation post...this house was built with love many years ago.  I'm just changing the colors. 
We started our renovation journey by updating the kitchen and refinishing the hardwood floors.  We opened a wall between the kitchen and dining room and then painted ALL the dark wood paneling.   We literally painted every inch of the upstairs including doors, trim, and window panes.  It has been a lot of work and I still have several rooms that need baseboards and ceilings painted, but I have seen this little house brighten up and I'm so proud of her! 

The exterior was something that I knew I wanted to update, but we had to save our money and come up with a design plan.  We got pregnant with our sweet Georgia Mae shortly after moving in so most of our renovation plans came to a halt as I was sick for most of 2016.  At the beginning of the year, we started getting a plan together and shopping for a front door.  The original doors on the house were hollow and you could see daylight between them.  The draft that came through kept the front of the house pretty cold in the winter too so the front door was our first priority.    
We chose a farmhouse style door from Home Depot and I think it's beautiful!  Home Depot also installed it for us and they did a great job!  They had to remove the existing doors to the rough opening and install a whole new door package.  I definitely recommend this if you have an old house.  We have replaced several interior doors and it is SO tricky to get a good fit with old houses that have settled on their foundation.  
In the weeks that followed, I sampled EIGHT different gray paints on the back side of the house, and decided gray was definitely not the right color.  Our roof is a very light gray and reflects light to the point that it almost looks white.  After making a friend at Sherwin Williams and asking everyone I could think of, I decided to go with a farmhouse white paint color.  My roof is similar in color to a tin roof and that helped me see the color pallet better.  Because the roof was such a light shade of gray and I wanted to paint the brick white, I decided to add contrast by painting all the accents gray.  I will list my paint colors below! 

Here are a few things I learned by painting our brick.  Dang, it's hard work.  I talked with several friends that painted their brick themselves and some used a sprayer while others were adamant that you should roll it.  I talked with experts at Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams who both advised to roll as well and so that's where we initially landed.  We had a budget to pay for part of the house to be painted by a professional, but we decided to save money and paint two sides ourselves.  I was also informed consistently that you should take the extra time to seal the brick before you paint.  This added a lot of extra work and was an additional cost to consider. But in the end,  we took the advice of all professionals we consulted and used a sealer with two top coats of pain.  Of course, it's all fun and games that first day til you realize you've been painting for six hours and you still need another coat... so we went and rented the sprayer.  
My friend at Sherwin Williams taught me to use both the sprayer and the roller.  He walked me through having Mike spray while I followed behind with the roller to make sure it had an even finish.  That my friends, was solid advice!  Once we got in the groove with the sprayer and the roller, we covered ground quickly.  You can rent an industrial sprayer from Home Depot for around $150/day. 

We taped and covered so many things to prevent overspray, but I later learned from the painter that helped us that you can also use a paint shield when you are spraying.  I watched him use the shield while he sprayed our gutters, downspouts, and garage doors.  Did I mention how awesome our garage doors turned out?!  No more stark white!

Once we finally finished painting all the brick, Mike and I painted the shutters across the front of the house as well as the columns.  Next, my dad installed our porch lantern lights and a new doorbell.  Y'all, my dad is amazing and somehow knows how to do almost anything.  He also LOVES when I come up with projects and renovation ideas. 

Here's one more shot of the before and then our new front porch. I knew she could be this pretty and I'm so proud of how it turned out.  I think the front door really pops out with the white paint and I'm so happy I decided to go with a white color! 

 Next year, we plan to rip out the rest of the old shrubs and tackle the landscaping.  I can already see the hydrangeas and hostas in front of our sweet little ranch house!  But for now, I am going to take a break from painting and enjoy the view.  We love our sweet home and the beautiful neighborhood God has allowed us to be in.  Renovating an old house takes a lot of time and we are trying to stay within our budget and do as much ourselves as we can.  These are my biggest lessons in year two of our renovation. 

* You are not on Fixer Upper and there is no big reveal so take your time and stay within your budget
* Don't be afraid to learn what you can and do as much as you can yourselves to save money
* Interview multiple contractors before you hire someone and do you homework to see what things cost.  For example, our first few bids for paint were three times what we actually paid
* Hire trusted individuals from smaller towns.  You may pay more for someone who subcontracts the work. 
* Don't wait to invite friends over til you are done.  Allow them to be a part of the journey
* Don't forget that your house is your home. It's a gift that the Lord has given you and your family.  Use it to serve Him. 

{Home Sweet Home}

All the Details: 

Exterior Brick-SW Shoji White
Garage doors, gutters, columns, and trim- SW Dorian Gray
Shutters- SW Dovetail gray 
Lantern Lights- Carmen One Outdoor light from Wayfair
Front Door- Steves & Sons Savannah 6 Lite Stained Mahogany