schoolhouse dreams

The End of Schoolhouse Dreams

We have packed up nearly all of our belongings and as of last Friday, we are officially residents of TN.  It has been bittersweet to say goodbye and now we are saying goodbye to our home for the past 2.5 years.

It’s funny to think about now, but when we moved in, we thought we may be here ten years or more.  We had so many big plans for this place and we only got to see about 60% of them through.  But I’m confident her new homeowners will be able to carry on what we’ve started.

I took a lot of pride in our ol’ schoolhouse, especially since we fixed it up so much and did a lot of the work ourselves (albeit during one of the busiest seasons of our lives).  I kind of liked living in something unconventional (thank you, HGTV, for making me feel like a Homecoming queen for once).

And I liked that everyone in town knew where we lived by description alone.

We will miss the land, space, and freedom.  We will miss it terribly.  Our backyard was dreamy, especially on a summer evening with sheets flapping on the clothesline and the crickets humming in the field, and the air thick with the smell of our overripe garden tomatoes.

I’ll miss the sounds of the neighbor’s cows and chickens, looking out my window and seeing the horses, and the many beautiful sunsets we witnessed here.  I will not miss the snow.

Bea learned to walk here.  Both of the girls spent many hours outside on the play set, imaginations as open as the field next to us.  MG grew up here.  She may even have a few lingering memories from this house.  I hope she remembers the kittens and her room and not the months she spent sick.

We brought Sib home here too.

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(drone shots courtesy of our friend, Brad J. Ward)

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On the flipside, we had some hard times here as well.  A new job AND a new baby in one year was rough (apparently we didn’t learn our lesson though!).  N started his doctoral program which took so, so much free time.  I started and ended Sweet Mama Makes.

Fixer uppers are always hard to live in when you are renovating; they’re also always more expensive than you bargain for.  I wouldn’t say I’m strong in the patience department, and sometimes it was hard to wait until the right time to start a project; which meant living with the vision burning on you until then.  (Instead of feeling happy and excited for friends who are buying fixer uppers, I feel a sense of dread for them now :-0).  We had fantastic neighbors surrounding us, who really helped us out with a lot of our new/old home ownership problems, but we also had an “anonymous” neighbor write us a nasty letter about the way we kept our house, including that it was a “mess to look at”.  Even though I tried to shrug it off, it really hurt my feelings and some of that pain still remains when I think about how much it set me back from completely investing in this community.

But we did our best with the canvas we had and I think we did a good job.  I found a lot of pride in living here and I’m pretty proud of the way it turned out.  A little blood, a lot of sweat, and many, many tears later and now it’s time to move on.

Dwell in peace, little schoolhouse, and may your 3-foot-thick brick walls stand for another 120 years.



The well has run dry.  I’ve been searching for my creative vein lately and all I can find is unsatisfying dust.  It seems as though I can only tap into this creative source so much before it blows and then I must search for a new avenue to draw from again.

A dear friend encouraged me to write again today…and well here I am, plopping away at the keys, not sure what’s going to come out, exactly.  But writing is a discipline and I don’t intend to ever let it go completely.

It’s 8:07pm and I am typing this on my favorite spot on the couch, feet propped up.  I had to perform tricks and jump through fiery hoops to get an internet connection.  I am typing to the hum of the massive tractor that is tilling our fields and which I find rhythmic and  comforting.

It has been a long evening, one in which I’m parenting by myself; and though the girls have been saints, it is still exhausting.  I’m praying they will need little from me in this next hour so I can use some reserves on this post.

Being a year into this house, I suppose it’s time for some updates.  But I can’t promise any pictures, not tonight at least.  So words, for now.

Since my last update, we have actually finished a few rooms.   The entryway and library are both complete.  That is a very settling feeling as it it is the first thing we see when we walk in the door.  With the addition of some new artwork and exposed pipe shelves, the living room is complete as well.  I’m sure I will still layer in a few pieces here and there but that is the fun part; filling a space with the things that make you happy.

The kitchen is our main push this month.  We’ve been fridge shopping, purchased subway tile & hardware, added a new light fixture, and N is building some new upper cabinets.  I promise pictures when it is complete.

We’re going to skip the laundry room for now, as it hasn’t been touched, nor does it feel like a priority.  Maybe not even a 2015 priority.

Going up the stairs, the stair runner is down, a gallery wall lines the steps, and there is a nice little vignette at the top.  All that is left to hang is a large family picture.  After the kitchen is complete, we will shift our attention to this hallway and add new flooring and light fixtures.  That should be easy to get to this summer.

Finally, we have the bedrooms.  All three need a little TLC, some paint in one, and some decor.  We did something we’ve been talking about for nearly 9 years and purchased a king size bed.  We moved our queen to the guest room, but both beds still lack a character giving headboard.

When those are complete, all that’s left is the bathrooms.  Both could use a partial, if not complete makeover.  We’ve had a few contractors over to  give us bids.  We’ve only received one bid and it was astronomical.  Even if we did scrape together the money to do it, we would probably never recoup it in a resale….so for now, we will probably stick to things we can DIY ourselves…new floors, shower curtains, countertops, and paint.  Our ultimate hope is that by the end of this calendar year we will be 95% done with house projects and can finally feel at rest in our schoolhouse.

Bea’s birthday is in just 4 days.  My parents gifted her a Jungle gym which seems perfect for our adventurous climber.  My dad and N stayed up late putting it together last night and it matches perfectly with our playset. I’m excited to add to this a sandbox for her birthday.  Every schoolhouse needs a play ground, no?

I’m intentionally slowing down on SMM.  Not as in taking less orders, but just purposing my time so it doesn’t consume me.  I never imagined it would take so much of my time, but it takes as much as I give it.  I’ve started giving myself my evenings back to work on fun things or relax and it has made a world of difference in my stress level.  When N has a few days a week off this summer, I plan to ramp up my output a bit more.  I have some ideas of new products to add, I just temporarily burned out the creative flame to pursue them.

Speaking of summer, I am mentally there, though not yet physically.  The weather has greatly improved my mood and all winter coats, gloves, and scarves, have been packed away.  This is the time of year where we start making our summer plans.  This gives us the final push to make it through the last trying weeks but also helps us not to waste our summer days away and forget about the memories we want to create as a family.

Our saintly neighbor tilled up our vegetable garden today.  Our seeds and seedling will go in the ground in between the promised rain storms this weekend.  I’m setting low expectations for our output this year.  I’m just hopeful that it is enjoyable.  That will be enough for this year.

I’m reading a book right now that I don’t really like but that everyone raves about the ending.  I’m only reading it to see how it ends.  Sometimes a good ending is enough to turn my opinion 180 degrees.  Does that make me fickle?



School House Dreams, Take 4

take 1, 2, & 3

When we first walked in the door of our now school house, we immediately fell in love with the first thing that caught our eyes….

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the very tall ceilings, accented by the transom windows, and a small nook of a space that used to be the girls’ cloak closet.  (the boys had a separate closet which they transformed into a powder room).

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We’ve got big plans for you, little space.


School House Dreams, Take 2

This is a continued series about my love found in the small details of our house.

Last week it was the circular driveway, this week, the brick sidewalk.

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I have no idea where this brick came from (wish I had asked the previous owners), but it is intricately detailed, old, and has a sheen to it.  Some pieces are cracked, others chipped but they are still so tightly wedged into the ground that they form the perfect path to lead one in and out of the house.


School House Dreams Series, take 1

I mentioned last week that I wanted to highlight some of my favorite features of our house.  I think the love for one’s house is in the details: this niche or this corner or that backyard hideaway.  I wanted to make a capsule, of sorts, to help me remember the details that make this house our home.

The first one that comes to mind is the circular driveway.  I fell in love with the driveway upon first sight of it.  Most of the day, some part of it is flanked in shade by the large and ancient tree at its perimeter.


I have first view of anyone who pulls up to the house (a luxury I always missed at our last house)


One of my favorite “visitors”

And seeing as how we don’t exactly live in a neighborhood, it affords plenty of parking when we have gatherings.

Schoolhouse dreams.