Monday, April 13, 2015

Dear Beverly: An Open Letter of Closure to my Birth Mother

I have been searching for you for the last fifteen years. I'm not sure why, I guess I just needed some closure. I hoped you would be able to answer some questions for me and maybe we could even end things on a good note. Fifteen long years I searched. I googled a million different versions of your name, called court houses, even entered your name into prison inmate search boxes. (worst case scenario right?) I stopped looking for you after I received more clarity than I ever wanted to get-from a court report regarding my brothers and my care.

I read the report. And I immediately wished I hadn't. I saw that you allowed your husband and son to touch us inappropriately even after the judge required you to keep us away from them because of prior instances. You promised to go to counseling so you could learn to be a better mom and out of all the sessions you were to attend you cancelled six and bailed on eight more. On your very last day you contacted that same counselor and "reported having consumed twenty-six beers". You failed to show up at our supervised visitations while we sat lonely and afraid in the foster care system.

That report went to talk about how even before we were taken away you allowed us to live infested with lice as our home was also infested with fleas and cockroaches. My sweet baby brother (maybe almost two at the time?) had gotten ahold of driveway salt and vomited uncontrolably while you only brushed his mouth off and hoped he would be ok. Probably because you were afraid to report it as you were already on thin ice with the courts.

I read that stupid report over and over again. I cried and screamed and felt my heart break into millions of pieces, just like it did the day that white van came and snatched me out of your arms. I hated you.

One of the quotes I found the most haunting from the report was when they described your state of being as "having poor social skills, insecurities, and being easily agitated." Did you know that I had the worst time making friends in school because I wasn't sure how to talk to kids my age? Or that I used to walk around looking at my feet because I was terrified someone might actually see me? When I used the bathroom I refused to look in the mirror because in my six year old mind I was the ugliest girl in the world. I bet you didn't know that my husband couldn't touch me in an intimate way for the first TWO years of our marriage. Oh Beverly. You passed so much more down to me than just your red hair.

I stopped searching for you because I realized you didn't want to be found. You told us you would come back, but the words spoken that day in court tell a whole different story.

So I promised myself I would beat the odds of foster children. I would grow and learn and survive. I wouldn't be addicted to drugs or alcohol. I would guard my heart and my body and find a man who truly respected me. I would work through my brokenness and see my own self worth. I promised myself that I would do all of these things and then I would find you and show you who I had grown to be. I wanted you to see that I wasn't like you.

I finally found you. Almost twenty years after you let us go. I couldn't wait to gather up my best photos and send them your way. I called the number I found and it happened to be your sister. You know, the one I was named after. She thought I was playing a cruel joke because you died two weeks ago. 

I didn't know I could grieve for someone I never really knew. My heart aches all over and I can't find the words to describe this unfamiliar pain. I will never get that closure I so desperately wanted needed. I missed that deadline by a mere fourteen days. Justin says its better this way. He doesn't think I would have been able to handle who you really were. I know that you spent the last twenty years in and out of prison for drug possession. I saw your photo. I know that you were a 54 year old trapped in a 75 year old woman's body. You never got better and I am sad for that. I only wish you could have known that I did.

And one more very important thing you need to know.

I forgive you.



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

We Bought a House!

     Alternative title: The Home Buying Process from HELL. Could also be titled, We Bought A House and Here Are Our Marital Issues If You Are Interested. (LOL) Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think I should change the title because the alternative one just makes more sense. You guys. Buying a home is supposed to be exciting and fun and amazing, and it has kind of been those things, but also kind of not. I want to fill you guys in on some deep dark secrets so if you wanna go along for this emotional roller coaster of a blog post, hop on in and buckle your seat belts, because its about to get crazy. #dramaqueen

     I love Massachusetts. And I hate Massachusetts. All at the same time. Yesterday we celebrated our two year anniversary of living in Ma. I can't believe its been two years since we packed our whole house into a moving truck and drove so far from everything and everyone we had ever known. But I can't stress enough how good it was for us. I celebrate living here because I feel like it saved us. I was so miserable in Florida. And I expected Justin to be able to fix that. I survived just to see his face walk through the door at the end of the day. All of the other times in between I spent hid under the covers of my bed or sobbing into my dog's fur. I hated that I felt so lonely, I missed the seasons and I wanted to cuss at the stupid sunshine. Sunshine. Every single day. It's like it was mocking my need for season changes. It wasn't Justin's fault. It really wasn't. I tell him all the time he picked the wrong girl. I have always hated Florida. When my parents talked about going when we were kids I said heck no. Too hot for this cranky 10 year old red head. The problem is, I fell in love with a boy who has always loved Florida and it just doesn't work.

I prayed to God everyday that it could work, that I could change and learn to love it there. That I could feel like it was home, but I never did. People keep asking when we are going to move back. I get angry sometimes because I just wonder, does my happiness mean anything? Does my marriage mean anything? If they really knew the struggles Justin and I had when we lived there I really think they would stop asking. We were there for 10 days over Christmas and I had the biggest breakdown of my life and it resulted in the biggest argument I have ever had with my husband. Most people fight about money or shopping or why the husband doesn't help around the house. Not us. The one thing we struggle with is where we want to raise our kids and it breaks my heart. We dance circles around the topic and most of the time its the big fat ugly elephant in the room. We have just stopped bringing it up altogether because we know it will get ugly. Justin loves Florida. I hate it. Justin wants to be near his family. I want to be near mine. (Although in all fairness I want to be near Justin's family too. I love them so much. And that just makes this whole process so much harder). I cry when I think about this. Actually I'm crying right now thinking about how over Christmas Justin pulled me into his lap and said "I love Florida but I love you more. And I will always choose you" *cue ugly crying now*

So anyway. We moved to Massachusetts. We got a chance to start our own life together. We found a church we both love. We connected. We healed. We grew. We survived. My heart is so grateful for all of this. But, Massachusetts is not a long term goal. We want to get the heck out of here in a few years and settle down and start a family. We have come up with a decent compromise-North Carolina or Georgia. That way we can be a short drive to both of our families. But thats a whole other story for a whole other day. On to the home buying process from hell. Massachusetts has the nickname Taxachusetts for a reason. This place SUCKS. The money they take from each paycheck is unbelievable. They tax you for every. single. thing. And then on top of that you have to pay a vehicle tax every single year. And the housing is unbelievable. We pay $2000 a month for a tiny apartment. So I'll just let your imagination guess how much we are paying for this house. Hint-it's more than double our Florida home which was way nicer.

Anyway. Man this post is going to be a long one. If you guys are sticking it out and reading until the end, you are my true friends and I love you. :p So we found a house we liked in a neighborhood we loved. We went to the open house and made an offer several hours later because we knew houses in that neighborhood sold in only one day. They accepted our offer and we jumped up and down in the kitchen. However, the selling realtor is the devil. I'm convinced of it. During the inspection we found out that the house doesn't have a fenced yard even though the listing said "FENCED YARD AS OF 2011" so we asked for them to come off the price. We also found out all of the utilities were the same age as the house (1992) and that was not cool with us at all. So again, we wanted to renegotiate. The selling realtor literally said that it was our fault we "read into" the listing and that if we weren't careful they would choose someone else because there were plenty of other offers. They came off the price a little and apologized, but not nearly what we wanted to compensate for all of the issues. We decided to move forward because we loved the neighborhood so much.

Our realtor sent over the paperwork to an attorney to look over. She told us we didn't even really need to look at the paperwork, basically to just sign on the dotted line. Justin didn't feel comfortable with that so he read it all the way through. Well THANK GOD he did because at the very end of the contract in little letters said something in the lines of "the buyers are to pay $4100 to seller based on appraisal" Um WHAT. Nope. Actually the buyers were supposed to pay us $5000 at closing. So we said we weren't going to sign. Our realtor said and I quote "Oh wow, good catch on that" Ok so please tell me why we are paying $900 for an attorney?! Oh right, because Massachusetts requires you to have one. Even if they don't do their job correctly and almost cost us thousands of dollars.

To add to all of this, we just found out we can't use our lender (who is a family friend and has helped Justin get his other two houses) because Massachusetts won't be able to send over the licensing paperwork for another three weeks. I am just sick. This whole process has me so upset, it just hasn't been the experience you would hope for. So needless to say, we bought a house, yaaayyyy. But it hasn't been all rainbows and chocolates on our end. We are ready to close and put this whole process behind us. We are just tired of throwing all of money away on rent, we decided since we'll be here for a couple of years we would like to own. Hopefully nothing else insane pops up so this little house can finally be ours.

I would formally introduce you to our house with pictures, but I have none! I feel a little weird about posting photos of the house since it has all of the owners personal belongings in it, so I'm not going to do that. If you want to take a peek at it yourself you can just google it on The address is 6 Bradshaw Lane Foxboro, Ma. (Calm down people, if we get any stalkers we are gun owners. :p) Here is a couple photos of the outside though, you know, to hold you over. ;) We have big plans for this little house-new hardwoods, painted kitchen cabinets, a stone fireplace with builtins, oh the list goes on and on. We are super excited.

I'm so thankful for this little blog. It inspires me to keep writing when I get emails and text messages from friends telling me how much they love reading. It makes me so happy because its easy to feel like nobody reads my tiny little space on the internet. So thank you for letting me be me. This little blog has been such a great outlet to me. And it means so much that you guys have come along for the ride. I hope you'll stick around for the future too! Hugs friends! XOXO

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ballard Designs Camden Tufted Bed Review

    It's been almost a year since we bought our Camden Tufted Bed from Ballard Designs and I thought now would be the perfect time to do a review of the bed. Justin always teases me about my reviews and calls me the review queen. I wear that title very proudly! I look at reviews as a way to vent about my frustrations if I have any, or a way to proudly brag about a product! Trust me, you do not want to get on this chicks bad side, because she will not hold back on :p

    But in all seriousness, I love this bed. And I wanted to tell you why. I'm also going to be honest and share some cons too. Just for fun I've decided to add some other photos of our master bedroom so you can see how things are looking. It's definitely smaller than what we are used to, but it's cozy and we love hanging out in it! 

    Just because, here's a picture of our old master bedroom from our Florida house. I used to complain that it was too small. I want to build a time machine just so I can go back to three years ago and smack myself. 

    This is where I first fell in love with tufted beds. Justin and I made the headboard pictured above and it was great for a year or so, but it was not professional and there were a lot of imperfections. Not to mention that making it was NOT fun and I might have said bad words during the process. I can't remember. All I remember is that I would NEVER EVER do it again. It was terrible. So when we moved and we got ready to take the headboard with us, all the buttons popped off and it was just not pretty. We decided to let it go. At this point in our marriage we had yet to have a real "bed" with a headboard/footboard/etc. We basically had a mattress and a frame. So we got to work on shopping for a bed we would love forever.

    I knew I wanted another tufted bed, I just had to convince Justin that's what he wanted, too. :p I found this picture on pinterest and knew it was the bed for us, but I couldn't find where it came from anywhere. I looked and searched and emailed people for a good two weeks. I was crushed. This bed was my dream bed. I loved the deep tufted buttons and the fact that the footboard was tufted too. Justin even loved it!

    We couldn't find this bed anywhere, so we almost settled for this one from Joss and Main. But I couldn't pull the trigger. It was a great price, but I wasn't in love. The buttons weren't deep enough, I didn't like that the sideboards didn't come up high enough to cover the whole mattress and there was no dreamy tufted footboard. It didn't have the best reviews, either. I couldn't do it!

Eventually we found a tufted bed pretty identical to the one we loved at our local furniture store. It was $3000. YIKES. But we almost paid that price because we just wanted our bed search to be over and to finally have a real bed to sleep in at night. I decided to give one more try at googling the crap out of my dream bed when Ballard Designs website finally popped up. There was my beautiful dream bed in all its glory, waiting for me to add to cart for only $800. They were having an anniversary sale and everything was an additional 30% off on their website. You guys. I freaked out. So the bed saga finally came to an end and this slice of heaven went straight into my online cart. Here it is in all its beauty today: 

Dear Bed, I love you. I am never letting you go. Thank you for finding your way into my Google search after a month of searching for you.

Here are some updated photos of our bedroom now-if you just want the review scoop on the pros and cons, scroll to the bottom. Although I can't wait for the day we have a master suite again, I do love this little room and all the personal details we've added here.

    Pretty cute for a teenie little thing, right? My favorite part has to be the sheet music I had printed off to go on each of our nightstands. It is actually a song from our wedding. It makes me warm and fuzzy inside.

    Ok now the fun part, the review! I'm going to start with the pros.

    *This bed is absolutely beautiful. Look at it. I have never owned such a nice bed, ever. I don't think I will ever get sick of it. I think it would look great in any bedroom. It's so cozy.

    *It's neutral so it will match whatever color choices we might have in the future.

    *It is custom made for ever order and is a very high quality product.

    *It is linen so it has more of a relaxed feel. I think the velvet tufted beds are too fancy and wouldn't match any of our stuff. I love the linen look and feel.

    *Great price, even without the 30% off.

    *It's not too tall, but not too short either. 

    I could go on and on, but those are the most important pros you need to know about. Here are some of the cons-


    *Since it is custom made for ever order, it took almost four months to get to us. 

    *Ballard Design is a great company, but they definitely need to work on their customer service department. If you read other reviews from other people on their Facebook page you will read the same thing.

    *This color is called Off-white twill. We originally wanted Oatmeal, but all other colors are considered specialty and cost a lot more. Not only that, but any other colors are absolutely non returnable. Since we had never seen this bed in person, that made us nervous. (We also didn't want to pay more money for a different color. Kind of dumb in my opinion) Since it is such a light color, you can see dust and dirt more easily. So if you have a black dog who sleeps in bed with you every single night, this might not be an ideal color for you. 

    That's it! That's all the cons. You guys. I can't say enough how much I love this bed. If you have contemplated getting a tufted bed, I would absolutely recommend this one. (As long as you are ok with all the cons I mentioned) I love it as much today as I did the day it was delivered to us. I think it's a timeless bed, too. So in 10 years, I still think I'll love it! What do you think? Have you contemplated getting a tufted bed? We were torn between tufted and wood, but I'm glad we went with this one! 


Monday, February 16, 2015

Before I Become Mommy-An Open Response to the Every Day Pressures of Starting a Family

     *  (On a side note, I want to add something personal before I begin this post. For the first two years of our marriage I wasn't physically able to get pregnant even if I wanted to. So when people asked me about babies it would make me cringe or bring tears to my eyes. I have since been to many specialists and thankfully have a complete thumbs up in the female health department. So I wanted to remind everyone that this can be a very sensitive topic and to always respect a woman's feelings and privacy.) *

     Justin and I have been married for four years this fall and I have lost track of the number of times people have asked us about babies. Friends, family, even complete strangers. Since this is an on going question, I decided to openly address it. At first I used to brush it off by saying we had a five year plan, but the truth is-we don't have a plan. And that's ok.

    I feel like I hit the jackpot when I found Justin. I love being his wife. I literally run to the door every single day when he gets home from work. We are best friends and I love this life that we live right now. Not one part of me wants a baby. At first I felt like something was wrong with me for feeling this way. I'm a woman, aren't I supposed to be gaga for babies and want one of my own by now? I feel pressure sometimes to move along to the "next step" in our life. Or that I'm not as mature if I don't have children. For a long time, it made me feel terrible. But you know what? I decided I wanted to live in this step. I love this period of our life and I don't want to rush that. 

    I like sleeping until noon on Saturdays and making last minute plans to go skiing, canoeing or to New York City. I like not freaking out if I forget to meal plan for a couple of days because I know we can just have cereal for dinner. I like random Tuesday night date nights. I like spending a laughable amount on each other for Christmas and not feeling at all bad about it. I like us. I love us.

    Justin and I are growing together. We are figuring each other out. (I just found out a couple of weeks ago that the guy doesn't care for tomatoes that much. What??) We are learning how to tone down our Netflix arguments. (You always get to choose what we watch! Well that's because you can never make up your mind!) We are building a stronger marriage.

    So before I become mommy, I need some time. Before I become mommy I want to hog Justin all to myself. Travel the world hand in hand. Before I become mommy I want to look into the crowd and see my husband beaming proudly at me while I receive my college diploma. I want to become the ironing master and have all of his clothes hung neatly in the closet each week. I want to finally learn to nail his favorite comfort meal, Salisbury Steak. (Help Karen!) Before I become mommy I want to continue to learn to keep our Savior in the center of our marriage. I want to love my husband with the same unconditional, blameless love our Father loves us with. I want to be a better Christian. 

    Before I become mommy I want to soak up this amazing, beautiful, exciting step that we are in right now. I want to be so busy enjoying today that I forget about tomorrow. Before I become mommy I want to be Justin's wife. And you know what? I'm getting pretty darn good at that. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Why You Should Be Taking More Portraits and Less Selfies


  First, I need to clarify that this is not an anti-selfie post. I actually love selfies. If my hair looks awesome and I'm blemish free at the same time, you can bet that crap's going on Instagram. Hashtag flawless. No selfie hatin' over here. But. Those are not the photos I will line my stairways with.

    I have a lot of friends that ask me how I take so many family photos and if I hire a photographer to follow me around all the time. (LOL who has this kind of money? If I did I might think about it;) I honestly just love collecting memories. I try to collect as many as I can. I was browsing Pinterest the other day and I stumbled upon the best quote: "We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone." And that explains it all.


Three years ago I invested in a DSLR camera and tripod. I learned the inside and the outside of my camera and I started collecting memories. And you know what? I've gotten some pretty amazing return tickets.

Anytime I can avoid an arm fully extended, can't see the background at all selfie, I will. I will lug that tripod with me on as many vacations as I can fit in. I will set the self timer and run like mad to meet my family on the other side. Because these are the photos that make the frames. These are the memories I want I need to remember. This is the life I am lucky enough to live. And all of the moments in between are worth holding on to.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

When Life Gets Hard

     So what do you do when you feel hatred sneaking up in your heart? When bitterness silently steals your happiness? Well, I should know because this pretty much sums up my 2014. It was a toughie. If I'm being honest, making it to January 1st felt like a marathon where I finished last. 2014 was one nasty, school yard bully of a year. Why? Because I allowed myself to hold on to grudges and those grudges turned into dark clouds that followed me around every day. Don't worry, I wasn't trying to jump off any buildings, but life did get blurry for awhile and I struggled with trying to find myself. 
     The WORST thing about holding grudges is that the person(s) who hurt you so deeply has NO IDEA. They are just living life without a care in the world while you wake up every morning with the weight of the world on your shoulders. And you guys. That weight is so heavy

     So how do you do it? How do you move on from this? Can you recover? Obviously on January 1st I didn't magically wake up and find all the hatred and bitterness had been left in the previous year. But I did make a commitment to stop allowing these old wounds to continue to hurt me. How? I have no idea. I'm going to need a lot of help from my Savior. I'm also grateful to know I have a kind husband who is always around to hug me tight when I get lose sight of my commitment and a sensitive dog who oh so grossly sweetly licks away my tears when they sneak out of my eyes.

    It's hard to hurt so deeply and never hear the words we all learned at an early age- I'm sorry. But then again, when you're years in and you still haven't gotten that apology, it probably means it took the wrong train and got lost along the way. Aka- IT AINT COMING. I am going to try so hard in this new year to accept the apologies I never got. 

     Friends. Life gets hard. There are so many beautiful, happy moments and I am so grateful for those. But unfortunately we also have to endure the not so happy ones, too. You know the days I'm talking about. Those days where the worst mistake you make is getting on social media to find out that everyone else has it going on except you. Or those days when you've watched Netflix for so long the "Do you want to continue?" button pops up and you just yell at the Tv-ITS MY LIFE I CAN DO WHAT I WANT. Or when your favorite dog rings his potty bell seven times in one hour and you're suddenly considering putting him up for adoption. The days you look in the washer and realize you've forgotten a load of wet clothes in there for a good week now and it smells so bad you're wondering if they are going to get out and walk themselves to the dryer. Or even the days when you find yourself crying out of nowhere because you have allowed bitterness to sneak in and steal away your happiness.

     The weight of the world is heavy. But I know that I do not have to carry it alone. In this new year I am choosing joy over everything else. I am weeding out all the hatred and bitterness that snuck into my life.  I choose light. I choose forgiveness. I choose joy. Will you? 

     "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Financial Goals 2015

   I was kind of nervous to write this post because talking about money is such a personal matter, but I feel like if I throw this all out into the universe it will make me accountable for something. Justin and I spent two weeks in Florida for Christmas and then a long weekend in Indiana to wrap our vacation up. If you do the math you will see we spent a total of 53 hours in the car together. In those 53 hours we only had two fights, and both of them were about whose turn it was to drive. Since we survived and are still married I consider it to be a very successful trip. :p We basically had a LOT of time to talk about personal and financial goals for our family in 2015.   

 When we lived in Florida we did ok, but we kind of just wandered around aimlessly with no real goals or aspirations. We ate out almost everyday and bought stupid stuff. Our savings account was almost non existent if I'm just being honest. When Justin was offered a job in Boston his paychecks were a lot more than we were used to and we decided it was time to start being a little more grown up with our finances. We celebrated financial milestones and we were really proud of ourselves! However we still haven't learned how to tell ourselves "No". I think it may be even harder now because frankly, we don't have to. For example, we live right behind a super nice outdoor mall with great shops and restaurants. If I want a new pair of jeans, I don't even hesitate to walk across the street and spend $80 on a new pair. If we run out of soap in our bathrooms, right across the street I go to Bath and Body Works to spend $30 on soap for every bathroom and kitchen. And I never sweat it because I know we have the money to do those things. But here is where my thinking has shifted recently. I don't want to do those things anymore. I want to learn to tell myself NO. To be content with what I have and for that to be enough.   
 I am so proud for the amount of growing up we have done together as husband and wife, and I'm also proud of the financial milestones we've hit, but I want more. I LOVE the quote Dave Ramsey uses "the status symbol of choice is a paid off mortgage" I so want that to be us. I feel like it is easy to get in a rut when it comes to finances. We have a set amount of money we save every month, and even though we could save more-we don't. Instead we eat out, buy whatever the heck we want but don't need, and don't think twice about it. Well until now. Thank god we don't have any serious debt. No student loans, credit cards, etc. We have one car loan, but we hope to have that paid off in the next year or two. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I really don't want to be a slave to my stuff. As much as I have been pining over the latest Kate Spade purse and leather watch to match, I know those cutsey items won't be going with me to Heaven.   
 Justin and I hope to start a family in the future (very far away future, sorry Karen) and they will always be our main priority. I want to be able to explore the world and show them all it has to offer, put them in nice schools and teach them the true value of money because I honestly know it. I don't want our kids wrapped up in the latest and greatest, "Tommy has these shoes so I really have to have them too!" I want to live a happy, comfortable life without the stress of having things we will always be in debt to.   
 So this new year comes a fresh start and a chance for me to learn the true meaning of NO. I am really excited because we have just started Dave Ramsey's envelope system and I cannot wait to see how it goes. I have a feeling Justin may have to talk me off a couple of bridges and pry a couple of purses out of my hands every once in a while, but I am super pumped about the future. We have a couple of pretty big moments coming up this year and we can't wait to tackle them hand in hand with a new outlook on our finances.

2015 Financial Goals
  • Don't be a slave to stuff. Pass up that designer purse that is only a fraction of the price at TJ Maxx. Stop trying to justify it by previous statement. :p
  • Save more by spending less. The envelope system is going to be tough, but so worth it. 
  • Get creative with date nights to cut costs down.
  • Less drive-thru trips. My wallet and tummy will thank me for this.
  • Collect moments, not things. 

Sounds reasonable enough, right? I will be honest, I'm a little nervous. I really hope I don't fail miserably. I'm already getting a little depressed thinking about not going to the mall to buy Welly socks to match my Hunter Boots. Well I can, but it will take me a few weeks to save my "pocket money" from this envelope system to do so. haha! Do you have any goals this year?