Saturday, December 21, 2013

Good things take time

Last year...hmmm, we had just flown down for our Christmas break. We were waiting on the condo to sell after waiting for like, ever. We went and looked at this cute little yellow house on Carlisle street & I wanted to call it home oh so badly. Joe still was waiting to hear about transferring his job down here at CDW. (Epic fail). I had just found out I was pregnant & felt scared of how that would all turn out. Our place was half packed up and all the details seemed so out of control.

Looking back it's incredible to see how God worked it all out for us. We were out of the condo the end of January, Joe arrived the first week of February, was out of a job till April (rough), Lyla's health went from okay to scary, spinal surgery...recovery... to okay to unknown & then back to scary many times and continues to be so. I really hope this next year is a huge turn around and one of incredible miraculous changes so she can begin to have real freedom, walk and run like other two year olds & enjoy the life God has given her in more ways than she can imagine. It is always heavy on our heart. My sister is like my other half so seeing her in pain is almost more than I can bear some days. God is faithful though and we cling to him even in the unknown.

We moved in to this house which was a huge blessing & tried to make it our own ( I still have a million things I'd love to do but maybe when the kids are in school in a few years??) Got a vehicle so I can drive places in the summer, gave birth for the second time to my third child :)  It has been a very crazy year and I can't wait to see what happens this year. For the record I love my van and surprisingly Joe still lets me drive it, despite hitting the mailbox (just once!)

Can I point out that is has been just about two years since we were awaiting traveling news for meeting our daughter Iris and flying to Ethiopia for the first time!! Joe had salmonella poisoning and here I am making all the traveling arrangements and trying to figure out all the details of the trip. Now that was one crazy Christmas and New Years! (Remember that, Alicia & Dawson? The movie on New years day in that awesome Ethiopian theatre??) We arrived in Ethiopia two days after Christmas - it was a very special trip but I'm so glad that was two years ago and in April we celebrate our 2 years of being a family together.

God is good, year after year. No matter where we are, may I learn to be content and trust that He always knows what is best and when it is best. Merry Christmas and happy new years everyone :)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Photo Update!

Thanksgiving, 2013

Grandpa Cotton visit - November 2013

Steven's birthday party - November 2013

Our beautiful Ethiopian girl (cornrows only lasted a few days but they were awesome)

The boys! (Joe, Blake, Steven, Ben, Jason, Jack, Drew, Luke, Cole) Thanksgiving 2013

We like to show off  tummy's in this family, obviously

Celeste, Angie, Danielle, Rachel (a few of my favorite people!)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lots of sickness
Lots of pressure & stress
Lots to be tempted to worry about
But this is life!
Listening to John MacArthur sermons on Phil 2 on not complaining. Ouch, so convicting. Take a listen, you will be changed! (

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thoughts on adoption

Since this is national adoption month I have been thinking a lot about our adoption of Iris. With friends and friends of friends who are in the process now it all feels so fresh to me.
So many times I look at Iris while she is playing and think about the day it must have happened. The day her birth mom had her and left her. I don't know many details and I don't think it's my place to share much more than that, but it's not a great mystery with orphans in Ethiopia being abandoned by their birth mother/ family. But I look at that sweet face, her healthy growing body and wonder if her birth mother ever thinks about her or if she's even alive. I can't imagine being left by my mother at birth, living in an orphanage for a year and then flying home with strangers to a new country, new language and a new life. My girl is so strong.

To be honest the bonding has been harder than I thought. Don't get me wrong, she bonded to us quickly and we loved her from the start, even before we saw her photo we loved her. That began the day we filled out our application! Having her home though, having Blake who is only 4 months older, and then bringing in a newborn in less than two years of having her's been an adjustment. It's been chaotic, stressful, exhausting but of course wonderful and rewarding too.

I see her insecurity. I see her shyness around others and her bubbly spirit at home (she never stops talking at home!) I think my favorite is seeing her love my mom. The woman who encouraged me throughout the three year journey more than anyone else. The woman who became a huge supporter of adoption, my mother. She and Iris have a very close relationship and I love that.
It's strange to think that two years ago at this time we had not even met her! We had gotten our referral in September and had been told it would probably be spring till our court date. Then low and behold we got the call that the day after Christmas we'd need to leave to get there in time. We spent new years in Ethiopia...can it really be almost two years ago?

It has been a great thing but a hard thing. I wanted kids and I got them and quite quickly. To think the Lord chose her, a sweet little helpless newborn girl in a small village in Ethiopia, 5 hours from the capital Addis Ababa & made her ours. I love adoption. I love Ethiopia. I love Iris.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Read anything good lately?

My brother is always reading a good book. He is great about asking me "what are you reading lately"...rarely do I have a good answer. Until lately! The Lord has been prompting me, by my current circumstances mainly, to be reading good books and filling my mind with wisdom and not "junk". It is a discipline for me to spend my time well, the little bit of free moments that I have, but I'm seeing it transform my mind lately. I'm thinking about verses or paragraphs in great books by Elizabeth George or Martha Peace, who has a ton of books on being a godly wife & mother. I'm also reading some really good parenting books as right now Joe and I are in the throws of training our children - these are the nitty gritty years to get it right from the start! It's a daunting responsibility and I want with all my heart to do the best job I possibly can.
I admire my brother in so many ways, as well as my sister in law Danielle, who let me look through their library so I can borrow more and more books. I'm hungry to learn and grow and gain knowledge. I thank them for their example to push me to grow without saying a word but by their lives.

I'm also blown away with my sister Rachel. She has turned in the most giving and sacrificial parent that I long to become. Her entire day is one of sacrifice, love, caring & patience. She is so strong and I want to be more like that with my own children.
This morning as I was walking from the school to the church, I realized once again how blessed I am, to be home, living here, listening to my brother and dad teach God's word each week. Having been gone for 11 years and never knowing if it would here I am with three children living minutes away from the people I love most on this earth. It's so easy for me to get caught up in the daily tasks and not look at all God has given me.
 Reading has so many benefits, so I ask...have you read anything good lately??

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


It's been almost a month so I suppose it's time for a small update! Survival = my goal each day. Joe has been working 11-8 all week and that just stinks more than Iris's dirty diapers. If you have experienced that smell you know how I feel about it :)
We are retesting her for Giardia as it can be dormant and the smell is beyond atrocious. Trying to get her to go on the toilet for #2 is as difficult as counting all the time I spend on pinterest. It's just  consuming beyond all measure. (how else should I spend my time nursing?) Hopefully we can get that fixed and soon.

Blake turned 3 on sunday and what a joy it was to see him celebrate on Saturday night with family (first time for that). He loved his birthday and continually wants to be sung happy birthday to. It is over my man! I love watching him  grow and see him understanding so much.

We have so many birthdays coming up in our family over the next two months (my dad, mother in law, Cole, Abby, Steven, Jason, Drew to name a few). Lots of activity :)

Sawyer rocks my socks he is so cute, even at 3am. We will see how long that 7 weeks he is just waking up around 3ish and then around 6...I have high hopes for a full night sleep in the near future.

Joe continues to work hard and be a great dad & I'm so lost without him! If I wasn't living here with family to get me through these crazy days I think I'd be in the fetal position crying in my walk in closet at the condo (oh wait, that would be a nursery) ; yet I'm blessed to have people around who are praying and help me in so many ways.

In case you are reading this thinking, wow she is boring, who cares ? Let me throw out some useful tips.
Best candle for fall - Target called AUTUMN and it is the perfect scent. Your welcome.
Best part of my day - Pumpkin Creamer in my coffee. Thank you international delight for knocking it out of the park and causing me to not feel completely depressed for not consuming starbucks in months.
Best pinterest recipe - Six Sister's Chicken & Lime Taco's. Amazing. (check out homemaking is hot on my board)
There, is this post a bit more helpful?  :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Three kids are no joke - I've never been so tired and rundown and on the verge of crazy in my life. Here's hoping the next few weeks get easier???

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A tiny update

Our last night before I went to the hospital to be induced. We had a great time at Weaver Park!

He melts my heart. Loves keeping his hands close by his face. Thanks to that habit I have six stitches. It's hard to be mad when you're this cute though.

So tiny. So cute. Sawyer looks good too.

It's cute to see them loving on Sawyer. Iris is not smitten just yet, but Blake can't give him enough kisses throughout the day. 3 Kids under 3 = nonstop.

It has been a crazy week, but what a life changer! I've never been so busy but so needy for the Lord's help to get through each moment. Friends have been so helpful in bringing meals, my mom has protected my sanity on more than one occasion & my family has bent over backwards to make this transition easier. I'm blessed.
I find myself more eager for the Word, a good book or organizing  / managing our home instead of shopping at  Home Goods or watching TV. Those days are gone for now as we broke up with cable this afternoon. Single tear.

Monday, August 19, 2013

5 Things I LOVED about my grandpa

Yesterday was a hard day. I had seen my grandpa just 1 week ago & it was night and day from what I saw when I said my goodbye. He was looking up at the ceiling, breathing very heavy & I wasn't sure if he could even know what was going on. I've never seen someone I love so close to death and it's so painful. My grandma seemed so alone, even though my parents and aunt& uncle were with her.  When you've been with someone since teen years & now he is close to 90, how do you ever really say goodbye? I'm so glad it's only a temporary loss and I know we will all be together for eternity. There have been so many times through the years we thought we'd lose him, and he has held on so strong for so long.

Anyway, a few hours after I said goodbye he went home to be with Jesus & although he's not been himself for a few years due to his dementia, I remember so many wonderful things about him.

1 Thing I admired was that he loved the Lord and was so godly. He spent time each day in the word & he made it clear that God was the first priority in His life. He was so involved at church & teaching and always took the opportunity to tell others of his commitment to the Lord.

Another thing I loved was that he loved his family. He was a caring and wonderful husband, a kind & sweet father & a wonderful grandpa to me and his other grandchildren. He gave me the most incredible mother I could ask for and had such a humble attitude, no arrogance or pride ever.

The third thing I loved about him was his sense of humor. He always had little quirky lines and quips & could laugh off so many things. He was great at telling jokes and he always had a smile on his face.

The fourth thing was what a servant he was. He was always helping others, doing what he could be to minister and encourage others, especially family and friends. He would visit sick and dying friends and go out of his way to visit others who were lonely or needing someone to care.

The fifth thing I loved was his interest in me and others. While I grew up and even when I'd come home from college or visit with Joe, he always wanted to know what was going on in my life, how I was doing...he'd ask me questions and truly cared. He gave of his time & invested in so many people.

He was such a generous and loving and sweet man. A complete gentleman who never said an unkind word. I will truly miss my grandpa but I'm so glad he's in heaven and that this is only a temporary goodbye. I thought just maybe he's meeting my 4 other children today that have been there a few years and what a sweet reunion that would be.

Please keep my family in your prayers. Even though this death was in one way a relief, it's still such an emotional loss, especially for my grandma. The weeks ahead will be difficult....but not for my grandpa.

Christmas 2012

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Beginnings & Endings

Waiting & waiting, seems like my grandpa's days are numbered here on earth.  I want him to not have to suffer anymore, but it's still a difficult time knowing what a loss it is for our family, especially my grandma after 68 (or close to it) years of marriage... there have been so many close calls over the years, it's hard to imagine that it's finally going to be a reality soon. It's horrible to watch him in a nursing home grow weaker and because of his dementia he has not been himself for a long time. My grandma spends every afternoon with him and my mom is there practically every day as well...I know they'd appreciate prayers as goodbyes are never easy...Thankful I could be with him last week.
Waiting for Sawyer to be born. Waiting to see what having a baby and two 2 year olds will be like.
The kids really seem to be developing a lot lately, it's so fun to watch them say more, react to things with cute expressions & show some love to each other without me asking them to.
Iris had a small little Christmas today when a neighbor dropped off bags of clothes & shoes. The girl rarely likes to be alone but there was a good hour of her just trying on about 5 pairs of shoes. It was so cute...maybe since she never wore shoes the first year of life? The girl seriously has a fetish.
They are both so observant, so sweet & make me laugh each day. The new adventure awaits!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Calm before the storm

Before all the craziness arrives I'm trying to get out as much as possible with B & I. Blake woke up with a stuffy/runny nose so hoping that clears up pronto Not the easiest thing to hold him down while trying to get the snot out of his nose (pretty picture, huh?)
My parents return from Colorado tomorrow night so I can officially go into labor starting Friday and not be overly stressed because of their absence.
Bought Sawyer a few things today thanks to grandma cotton & I think we are almost officially ready for #3.
Reading in my journal today and remembering how overwhelming the move to Florida seemed (where will we live, when will Joe get a job, how are we going to sell this condo...) and the Lord showed me it's not too much for Him. Needing that reminder as I contemplate how this transition from two to three will go. Nervous is a nice word for it. Prayers appreciated for this new chapter.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


This morning the weekly doctor appointment had me hooked up to the monitor to hear Sawyer's heartbeat for a solid 10-15 minutes. Blake and Iris were in the room with me and I thought about the first time I was at a doctor office to hear the heartbeat and there was none. That moment has stuck with me and was crushing. Who could have looked down the road to see all this?

It felt like forever when I was pregnant with Blake, each day a scary unknown and then he was born and all was well.

Then just 14 months later we were on a plane meeting Iris for the first time and now she's been with us 15 months.

I never want to forget that this life inside me is a total miracle & although it seems to be going well now, this life does not belong to me - only the Lord. May I be faithful!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I've been doing LOTS of cleaning lately & it feels so good. Knowing when Sawyer is born I will have no free time it seems like the perfect time to get crap jobs done that have been staring me in the eye for a while.  The rainy weather helps me stay motivated too...what motivates you to clean???

Monday, June 24, 2013

A powerful reminder

Reading this morning an old sermon from John MacArthur on parenting & there is a quote from a father to his children that stopped me in my tracks. It was quite lengthy but I had to share bits and pieces because it was SO GOOD.
" My dear children, never did I pass a more truly solemn or interesting moment than that in which my firstborn child was put in my arms and when I felt that I was a father.... Recognizing in the little helpless being which had been so lately introduced to our world, there was a creature born for eternity and who when the sun shall be extinguished would be still soaring in heaven or sinking in hell. I returned to my closet for private devotion and solemnly dedicated the child to the God who had given me the precious life. And I earnestly prayed that whatever might be his lot in this world, he might be a partaker of true holiness and numbered with the saints in everlasting glory.

Almost every parent has some one object which he desires above all on behalf of his children. Our supreme ambition for you is this, that whatever situation you occupy, you may adorn it with the beauty of holiness and discharge its duties under the influence of Christian principles. Much as we desire your respectability in life, we would rather see you in the most obscure, even menial situation, provided you were partakers of true holiness then behold you on the loftiest pinnacle of the temple of fame, the object of universal admiration, if at the same time your hearts were destitute of the fear of God.

How could we endure to see our children choosing any other way than those of wisdom and any other path than that of life? How could we bear the sight to behold you traveling along the broad road that leads to destruction and running with a multitude to do evil? How would it embitter our last moments and plant our dying pillow with thorns to leave you on earth in an unconverted state, following us to the grave but not to heaven. Or should you be called to die before us, how could we stand at the dreadful post of observation without one ray of hope to cheer our wretched spirits?"

John closes his message with this prayer "And Lord, may we know it's not just what we say it's who we are, that our character and the integrity of our lives in the godliness and virtue we demonstrate to those children either undergirds or supplants the gospel we preach to them. O may we lovingly, tenderly, kindly, patiently with great forgiveness and understanding lead our children to Christ."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


If you've been following on Facebook you will know that Lyla is back at All Children's hospital. We are still waiting on answers, they did an MRI yesterday and saw "enhancements" along her spine...what looked like white spots but where unsure of what it was. This morning they did an MRI on brain and again saw these white spots as well but the doctors are all baffled and don't know what it could be. Apparently they were there before too.
It is so hard to not have any answers. They are doing a spinal tap next, but she has been on a fast since midnight last night & on hardly any sleep so it's a trying time. Please pray we'd get answers soon, that the spinal tap would be scheduled very soon so she can eat and drink soon & that Rachel and Jason would have grace to deal with whatever we learn.
My parents are watching the boys & it's just overwhelming on everyone to be waiting on pins and needles. The doctors now believe that the cysts removed from her spine was not the cause of her issue before - we are all just in the dark and not really sure how to pray and what to think next.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Do More

Watched a great video last night called Dispatches from the Front on South Asia. It was about a husband and wife with two small children that gave up every comfort, friends, and family in the US to go and start a coffee business where 90% of the population is Muslim and 10% are order to serve the Lord and share the Gospel.

It really was a wonderful reminder to not be a materialistic spoiled American. Towards the end what the mom shared put me to shame. She said she and her husband wanted to do more than just make money to give stuff to their kids, to live on & then die. She wanted to show her family how to live out the Gospel. Wow. It is so easy to get focused on acquiring things or living a comfortable life. It really makes me view my day to day attitude much differently. Watching her carry her child, singing Hosanna in the Highest as her little one went to sleep - seeing how difficult and lonely life could be...that is so much more than just talking. That is a life showing that He is everything.

For more info go to  or as there are a few in the series.  We watched Episode 6: The Power of His Rising. I look forward to more.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Welcome to the world!

John Caleb was born Thursday night, weighing in at 7 lbs and 9 ounces. This makes #5 for my brother Ben & sister in law Danielle. They are finally getting to go home today! We are all so excited for this new bundle of joy...especially Sawyer. When I held baby John I had more movement than ever going on inside. I think the cousins will be close :)  He is so tiny & precious and it made me all the more eager for our arrival of Sawyer. It is a gift from God to enjoy the arrival of children instead of being sad and jealous & I'm thankful for this life, thankful for my heart change & for the wonderful family this little boy will grow up in.

My great nephew John Caleb Kreloff was born last night.
Here he is with his beaming dad, my nephew Ben.

Friday, May 10, 2013


I'm not one of those people who go on & on about how wonderful a person is online when I could just tell it to their face - but I simply must state that I have the most incredible mother! Her love & kindness to me and everyone I know is astounding. She is the most thoughtful person in the world and generous beyond compare. Her unconditional love as a wife, mother & grandmother is amazing to watch. I hope I can become half the person she is....spending hours with my grandpa at the nursing home every week, caring for grandchildren A LOT, always thinking of others, leading other women in bible study and discipleship, working harder than anyone I know & having godly wisdom to always help - I'm blessed.


                                        Each day she becomes more wonderful. I love you mom.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Busy & fun weekend...dinner with my brother's family on Friday and an evening with my sister's kids on Saturday...a day of church mixed in with some shopping today.
Blake's potty training is going great! Finally bit the bullet and brought him in public without the safety diaper and he let me know when he had to go...then today at church an entire 3 hours and no accidents. Am I the only mom who has potty trained a kid who still sleeps with a pacifier? That's my next battle that I'm STILL putting off.
Fun moment...lady at mall "are they twins?"  me..."no, but they are close, feels like twins"....lady "how old are they?"   me "they are 4 months apart, she is from Ethiopia"   lady "but are they brother and sister?"   me "yes they are"   lady "they REALLY look a lot alike. They look like twins. But they can't be, right, because she's not from America"   me  "where's your bathroom?" and walk away leaving her still a bit confused. Another lovely adoption moment.
Watching them hold hands & say I love you to each other = melt my heart.

With mother's day approaching I'm still completely aware of how difficult this day can be for a lot of women. I've only been able to celebrate this 2 times but as someone who has seen both sides of the spectrum - moms truly deserve a special day after all they do for their children, but we all need to be sensitive to those would love nothing more than to be a mom and on days like this it often feels like rubbing salt in a wound. I remember never wanting to go to church on mother's day & I don't want to forget that. Ever.

Blake gets stitches out this week, Sawyer is 25 weeks & Joe is enjoying his last days as a 40 year old. My cute nephew Drew told him he looked like he was 60. I said that's as old as poppet (my dad)...does Joe look as old as poppet? He replied well, yeah. I love it.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Latest Favorite Quotes (Courtesy of Pinterest, of course)

These are a few of my favorites - check out my pinterest boards for more fun :)  Yes, that is my kind of fun.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Our family day (gotcha day)

Does it really get any cuter than this?

Blake was trying so hard to get on the ground and I kept pulling him up to try and get one decent family pic. Oh well.

I'm sure eating Ethopian was on my grandma's bucket list. Lol...she has not stopped telling me how much it meant to her though, so very sweet.

Iris picked out what she wore for the big occasion - I tried so hard to get her in an Ethiopian look but this girl is all out girly with her sparkles & glitter. She wouldn't have any of it. My parents and grandparents joined us, it was a really nice time. You can see how Iris hardly tolerates being around my mom, they can hardly be in the same room. Ha! If only I could get that kind of a grin from her :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lots of this going on with potty training this week...but we are learning as we go!
Had a great dinner @ Queen of Sheba, an Ethiopian restaurant in Tampa on saturday. What a fun experience to feel like we are sharing a little bit of Ethiopia with Iris and my parents and grandma. The food was better than I remembered and I loved seeing Ethiopian people there at the restaurant. It's worth the drive!
Joe's job is going well, thanks for everyone who has prayed and cared so much these last several months. It's been a busy first week for him but seems to be going well and a good fit.
This is week 23 of my pregnancy and I always look forward to my monthly check up week to hear the heartbeat, but it's always scary too, that secure feeling doesn't happen till AFTER birth. (Then all the other insecurities begin...)
Had a sweet visit with my sister last night. I don't take that for granted, ever, after all the years of wanting to just sit in each other's living room and talk for hours. It's so nice to live here.
We are in week 2 of becoming members at Lakeside, how strange it feels to have been away for 13 years and now coming back & yet it's such a part of me. Lots of fun stuff happening the next few weeks. Can you believe my Joe will be 41 next month???

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Prodigal Song

You held out Your arms, I walked away
Insolent, I spurned Your face
Squandering the gifts You gave to me
Holding close forbidden things
Destitute, a rebel still, a fool in all my pride
The world I once enjoyed is death to me
No joy, no hope, no life

Where now are the friends that I had bought
Gone with every penny lost
What hope could there be for such as I
Sold out to a world of lies
Oh, to see Your face again, it seems so distant now
Could it be that You would take me back
A servant in Your house

You held out Your arms, I see them still
You never left, You never will
Running to embrace me, now I know
Your cords of love will always hold
Mercy’s robe, a ring of grace
Such favor undeserved
You sing over me and celebrate
The rebel now Your child.

I love this song. Really beautiful.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Changes, they are a coming...

I feel like the kids are growing by the second. Iris is really ready to be potty trained. Blake is not showing signs (has before we moved though) but this momma needs a diaper reprieve before #3 so ready or not, let's do this. Any tips or thoughts on the process is appreciated! I'm going to do some studying on it soon and in the next month take this on.
Next, Iris is ready to move from the crib to a toddler bed. She never before has shown signs of wanting to climb down on her own, but this morning I found her placing her feet on the ground after climbing down the side. We can't have that & so it's time for both of them to be done with crib mode.

We've been putting off the paci war for WAY too long & even though he only has it to sleep, it's time  put it to rest, well past time, in my mind so I'll be snipping that puppy soon & hope for the best but expecting the worst. Thankfully Iris never had one! (She used to sleep with bottle but we stopped that months ago).

It's nice to know they are moving along and growing but it's strange to not think of them as babies anymore, especially Blake. I'll get my baby fix soon ... it's around the corner!

S is for Sawyer! As of now I'm loving the name Sawyer Benjamin for baby cotton. I've been known to change my mind from time to time, but I'm pretty sure this one is sticking. Atleast for now. :)

Never been happier to say Joe starts work on Monday! Not having the freedom to run in my car during the week will force me get cleaner closets, organize life a bit better & do more diy projects so it's not a total loss.

My grandpa was moved to a new nursing home today so please keep him in your prayers as this will be a difficult adjustment for him and my grandma. He is still with it enough to know he'd rather be home, but not quite understanding why he can't be. It is taking a toll on everyone & hard to watch at times.

Life is always changing! Focusing on Proverbs this week & loving my first week's study in Habbakuk for bible study.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Strawberry Fields Forever ( & House Pics)

Despite my wicked cold this week, we ventured out with friends & fam to the strawberry capital of the world - Plant City, Florida. We took the kids and it was the perfect day to pick some amazing strawberries. I will forever now be aware of how much I'm being ripped off at the grocery store as we were able to fill up 5 freezer bags of strawberries all for a mere 6$. And they looked perfect. It could become an addiction if it wasn't 45 min away - the more you picked, the more you had to pick. Lots of fun.
Next up I wanted to share a few pieces around my house that have been provided for free from wonderful people who are above and beyond generous and kind.
My lovely view - free table from our neighbor put out by the street. Bench from my mother....The light was not free but for 6.99 at Goodwill it might as well have been. Boo ya.

I am obsessed with this desk. Kathy S. in my church gave it to me & besides adding my own hardware (which was not new) it is perfection. The garden stool is my hobby - I could seriously go on the hunt all around the county for them & buy one in every color. I love those things. I know if it makes it through years of small children it was meant to be. Lamp base was a steal from salvation army & I had a giftcard to penney's where I picked up that cute little frame that's from the new Jonathon Adler line. I waited 10 min in line for that baby so I feel kind of attatched to it.

This book case was free from the lovely Jan K. at my church. It is the perfect comparison to the Expedite Ikea bookcase & used to be cherry wood until it stepped foot in my white loving home (only things , not people!). I have big dreams of what to do with this, but for now it works the way it is. And contrary to popular opinion, I LOVE my reindeer & keep him out all year long. I'm thinking about naming him Finn or Knox since that's not going to work for a baby name.

This desk was also a gift from Jan and as much as I want to paint it some amazing color it's kind of perfect to me the way it is right now. The chair needs some love, but in time...Can't wait for Joe's ugly alarm clock to die, but it just keeps on going...

Where I rest my feet at the end of a long day. I'm over my ikea lack tables& wanting their coffee table version, but alas, I wait. The dresser really needs to be in our room / changing station for baby so I'm on the hunt for a credenza if anyone hears of something. I'd love something much longer and narrow that I can paint :) That brass tray is a favorite 1$ find at salvation army.

The tea cart is also a generous donation that was given from Kathy & it has moved from a kitchen island to a nightstand back to a different place. I love it, but don't know what to do with it. Now that I see this pic I realize how high my little sunburst mirror is flying there - must change! Yes I'm brave to have cake plates with two year olds who play but I like living on the edge like that. And I ran out of paint so that wall is crying out to not be naked anymore. (hint hint Joe)

This room needs the most love, but I wanted to show how pretty my view was compared to looking at a dead tree and my condo's neighboring front door. We just got the cheapo ikea dresser as nightstands and I'm so excited to transform them from looking like 10 bucks to atleast 30 bucks :)  On the agenda? New lamps, different pillow, paint, ceiling fixture...too many to count.

Hope that gives you a little glimpse into our home that has been so welcoming to thankful for the generosity of so many. We were given two kitchen appliances as well that makes cooking functional, but with now dish washer it was in no state to be captured. One more week of having Joe around and then it's the start of our new reality here in Florida.
A special birthday shout out this month to Danielle my sister in law, Jack, my nephew and on the same day my lovely grandma, Luke my nephew & then celebrating our family day with Iris. It's been a year since we had Ethopian food so I think I'm finally ready for it again.