Last weekend the kids and I, as part of this big life transition, moved out of our big, beloved home of the past 10 years and into a little 2 bedroom cottage which we are calling The Beach Cottage because it's a 5 minute walk from the beach. To say my "village" came through for me is the understatement of the century. Not only did I have 20 people show up to help me move (AMAZING!), most of them stayed the rest of the day too to help me unpack and get specific areas up and running by the end of move day.
My friend Amy completely set up my new kitchen from top to bottom and in such a smart way that I have not had to ONCE upon all the drawers to find what I need, I seem to intuitively know where the coveted item will be because she designed the layout so perfectly. She also came with meals for me and the kids to last us several days.
My friend Tiffiny (who has twin boy/girl) brilliantly set up the kids room and in such a fantastic way as to have them each have their own designated "area" which was no small feat considering the size of this little bitty room that they have to share.
My other friends re-assembled all my furniture, set up my washer/dryer hookups, unpacked nearly all my boxes (with the exception of my bedroom/office which I obviously did because of how tedious and complicated that space is). They brought me food and meals to fill my fridge and cupboards and plants to brighten my new space. They gifted me with their time and their love and my heart just swells thinking of how amazing that day was having my friends from all my different "circles" come together with the common goal of easing my transition as much as humanly possible.
The next day after the move, my friend Kathy and her family came by to take care of my kiddos while she and I worked on getting all my artwork up on the walls. No small task, let me assure you. She and I are equally perfectionistic when it comes to such things and there is absolutely a whole art that goes into this. We were both amazed at how well the artwork was able to fit into this small space and seamlessly integrate with the mish-mash of furniture and so forth. She also brought food and gifts and basically just lifted my spirits with her warm smile and positive attitude.
I had two friends (Noelle and Sabine) take Kooper for me on the two move days so that I wouldn't stress out about Kooper being anxious and not having his needs met. Other friends (Tina and Annie) had my kids over for sleepovers so that I could ensure that their rooms were all ready when they got dropped off to ease their transition. Another friend (Aerin) stayed with me for several hours to assemble the bunk bed and put together the kids closet and dressers with their clothes. Another friend (Meredith) helped me pick up those (HEAVY!) craig's list finds and store them at her house until I was ready to move in. Another friend (Andrea was my GO TO gal for just about everything and helped me in every conceivable way). I basically have a list a mile long of thank you cards I'm going to be writing tonight to all the amazing people who helped me throughout this! I don't know what I ever did to deserve such incredible people in my life but somehow I ended up with the most amazing group of friends a gal could ever ask for. I strongly believe in karma and paying it forward so you best believe I am going to be doing a massive amount of randomn acts of kindness to help balance out the universe after all the help and kindness I've been the recipient of lately!!!
I should also mention that with only three notable exceptions EVERYTHING in this house is either from my old house OR used stuff from friends that they were willing to part with OR super cheap craig's list finds. The only new items I bought were the IMAGINE sign from Cost Plus, the "key" Clock in the kitchen from Cost Plus (both were on sale too!) and the adorable teal chair in the living room which I was able to get with a gift certificate to Pier 1 that a friend had gifted me. Plus, the chair was on sale AND the floor model so I got it for HALF the price, and thanks to the gift card, it only cost me $20!
The yellow dresser was a craig's list find, as was the big long wood dresser. The entertainment center was a wood Thomasville dresser that a friend gave me which we painted over with chalkboard paint to give it that nice black, matte finish that I love. I added the yellow knobs (cost plus) to tie it into the dresser.
All the wall art was already mine from before. All the paintings in the kitchen are my deceased grandfather's paintings, as is the huge painting in the kids room which I used as the inspiration for the color palette and design of their room. I bought the bunk beds used from a friend. All the bedding for the kids and for me is a new item but ON SALE! from Garnet Hill when they were having a huge sale and then I was able to use an additional 20% online coupon so it was a great deal! The dining room table/chairs and kitchen hutch were from a friend who had them stored in her garage and they work PERFECTLY in the new space!
Because I used to not only have my own SEPARATE home office AND a separate prop room to store all my props it was a definite challenge to fit my office AND my bedroom in the same room and figure out what to do with all my props. I ended up integrating my props into the home. All the little prop kid chairs are scattered around the house. The newborn baskets are displayed around the house in one way or another. I just found a way to mesh the props with the home decorating. I'm pleasantly surprised at how it all "works".
I left the kids' rooms practically intact at their old home so they could have that consistency and continuity. I think, by far, the biggest challenge in this process for the kids was going from having their own huge rooms to having to share one tiny little room. Gavin is a very quiet, private, kid who cherishes his alone time. Ellie is a loud, boisterous, lively, in your face, nonstop chatterbox. You can see the issues here.... :) Because of the lack of space, I can't find a way to give Gavin his own "space" but a friend's daughter gifted Gavin her old ipod so that he can go up on his top bunk, plug in his ipod and headphones and zone out listening to music while reading a book and tune out his sister. It has been a TREMENDOUS help for him to be able to have that "Escape" and downtime. I also make it a point to pull Ellie out of the room and engage her with an arts and crafts activity in the kitchen when I sense that the two of them need some time apart.
In the living room there was a big blank space on a wall that I wasn't sure how to fill so I ended up pulling out my box full of notecards/postcards/designed cards that I have saved over the years from a variety of sources. Some of them are postcard my world traveling sister Seraphine has sent us over the years from her travels all over the world. Some of them are cards sent to me by friends which I loved so much I couldn't part with them. And some are the really super cute birthday card invitations I designed for Gavin and Ellie's birthday parties over the year. I spent a significant amount of time finding the best layout to create a heart design with the cards on the wall. I just love how it turned out! I smile every time I look at it because it reminds me of all the people I love: my kids, my family and my friends. All there on that wall. :)
I have to say that the pictures I took today make the place look HUGE! It must be the wide angle 16mm lens I used because seriously, the place is TINY. Especially coming from the big house! But, because of the vaulted ceilings and skylights and TONS of windows, it feels like a MUCH bigger space than it is. It doesn't FEEL small. It feels bright and airy and lovely.
The backyard definitely needs some work and tomorrow I will post pictures of the yard because it needs some serious help and I while I am great at home decorating, I royally suck at gardening/landscaping and I have no clue what to do back there to brighten that space. It's just basically two slabs of cement and a little dirt/gravel patch (I'm thinking raised veggie garden!?). It has great potential but I'm just not remotely gifted in that department. No green thumb here..... So, if any of you are good at that stuff, you can comment on the post tomorrow with your ideas! That would be greatly appreciated!!!
Lastly, I honestly cannot even begin to express my gratitude to my friends and family. I've shed many tears over the past several months and I've been paralyzed by gripping fear and intense sadness. I've painfully watched my kids struggle as they navigate these transitions and I've cried myself to sleep wondering if they would ever recover from all these changes and upheaval. My friends have carried me through this process. They've loved and nurtured me and told me everything was going to be ok when I didn't believe it myself. When I couldn't imagine feeling anything but sadness. When the darkness was too all-enveloping to possibly imagine any kind of light at the end of the tunnel.
And now, that glimmer of hope is there. That light is shining and I'm walking towards it. And I know my kids are going to be ok down the road. And that we are all going to be ok, actually. And while I'm still uncertain about whether or not I can rely on my photography Business or may have to change careers, I'm going to keep my heart open to the endless possibilities. When God closes a door, he opens a window. And this place has lots and lots of windows.... :)
That treasure chest below was a craig's list find I bargained down to $15. It is now storing all my knitting and sewing stuff. :)
During the first few years of the kids lives I was SO good about filling out photo albums with all the images I had taken of them. I haven't done anything put stick the pictures in boxes over the past two years but on display here is the gazillions of baby books they have for the first 3-4 years of their lives! Ha! :)
I thought it would be funny to put one of those plastic RESTROOM signs on the door. I kinda like it.
little personal touches to make it feel like home.
Yes, the bathroom has a urinal. And yes, we love it. Gavin loves having it and Ellie and I LOVE not accidentally sitting on "aiming" misses. Sorry if that is TMI but the urinal is a really really really great thing.
The prop chairs getting integrated...
I didn't have a side table, so I took this light wood plant display table, spray painted it with chalkboard paint to match the entertainment center and then put this little vintage suitcase prop I had on top of it and voila! Instant side table with character! :)
Entryway. So, I had these wooden blocks I had picked up at a garage sale thinking one day I would use them for something. I only had a handful of letters though: two T's, two B's, A, R, E, L, and an S. I could not figure out what to do with them and was about to toss them when my friend Kathy came up with the word LATER and thought of putting it over the door... BRILLIANT!!!
So, there you have it. Exactly a week post move date and I am completely settled in, unpacked, decorated, and yes, finding happiness, in my new (rental) HOME.