Spring Mini Photo Session FUNdraiser!

Hey, hey, hey! Are you loving this spring weather as much as I am? Does it make you want to get outside? Soak up some sunshine? Maybe even take some new pictures of you and/or your family to update those old picture frames you’re dusting during spring cleaning? There’s no better time than now! 11075195_10152618314511503_7710408276284325965_o

Our sweet and talented friend, Paige, from Snap Savvy Photography has offered to do a whole day of spring mini photo sessions and all of the proceeds will go towards our adoption! So generous! We still have about $10,000-$12,000 yet to raise, and you can help us get there while getting some great new pictures out of the deal!

What’s better than that?! 

Call or text Paige at 770-833-6174 today to save your spot and get more details, because they are going to fill up fast! Here is a look at some of her other work. Did I mention how talented she is?PicMonkey Collage

{Those pups! I can’t handle the cuteness!}

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Man-oh-man the weather is gorgeous today. It just lifts my spirits and motivates my soul.

And I could use some motivation right now. We are still down to the nitty-gritty of our home study and I’m finding it’s really easy to get discouraged these days. I feel like it’s never going to end. I am so ready to be a “waiting family”, but all of these appointments that have to be scheduled and completed are bogging us down. It’s really hard to juggle going to get physicals and take CPR classes and schedule interviews with three kids to find sitters for, or worse, to take with you?! {gasp!} No. Sitters will have to be found.

But enough of the whining all ready. I’m just learning {slowly and stubbornly} to take it one day at a time. God already knows which baby will come into our family and His timing is perfect. I really need to stop trying to control the timeline of the adoption and trust that only God is in control.

Happy Good Friday, everyone! It’s a very good Friday, indeed.

With love, Malorie

Adoption Update: Jesus and the Eye of the Tiger

The adoption home study finish line is creeping ever closer. I feel like I’m back at the eleventh mile of my Princess Half. So close, but still more work to be done.

Yes. All of this home study stuff definitely feels like running a half marathon. The beginning is exciting, the end is a bit painful, but finishing will feel like a Rocky-at-the-top-fist-pumping kind of moment.

Eye of the tiger, baby. Eye of the tiger.

We’ve finished all of our general “fill this out” paperwork and made all of the copies we need. Now we just have to get our physicals, finger printing, certifications, and do our book reports. {Yes, teacher, I said book reports.} And do our home visit. And our individual interviews. Okay, I seriously thought we were getting close until I just wrote all of that out. Push me back to about mile eight of my Princess Half. I must have stopped for a potty break. The good thing about this half marathon is that there aren’t balloon ladies breathing down my neck.

Eye of the tiger, baby. Eye of the tiger.

In adoption good news, however, our home study has been completely paid for! Praise the LORD! God has just shown us so much favor in this process and has continually reminded us that this is what he has called us to do and we can trust that HE is going to provide for it every step of the way. To turn in our formal application, we had to pay $500. This was before we officially started our fundraising, and I was just making and selling some growth charts to friends by word-of-mouth. Although we were definitely going to be able to swing the $500, handing over a big chunk of money is always a little nerve-racking…especially for something that is non-refundable, non-transferable, even if your application isn’t accepted. However, God laid it on some of our friends’ hearts to give generously for their growth chart, and they surprised us with a $1,000 check! God not only provided for our formal application fee, but also that preliminary application fee we had already paid of $50, with $450 left over to go towards our home study!

The next provision came one night at our adoption classes. Our adoption worker came to us when we arrived and said, “We had someone call this week and pay $1,400 towards your home study fee, so I just wanted to let you know that is sitting in your Bethany account as a home study credit.” Jaws dropped. Our home study fee is $7,500 and now we had $1,850 of that paid for, PLUS some from my growth chart sales and some generous donors on our YouCaring site!

Then, we had some friends ask us to double date with them one night at dinner. We love this couple, so we didn’t think twice about it and worked out a sitter for a night out for dinner and Starbucks. As soon as we sat down at our table, they went into a story about how the Lord had blessed them financially recently and they wanted to tithe off of what they were given. After praying separately about how that should look, they came back together and realized the Lord had given them the same answer: to give it to our adoption. Cue tears as they slide a check for $9,000 across the table to us. I was flabbergasted and so humbled. Thank you just didn’t seem like an appropriate enough response, but we just didn’t have the words in our vocabulary to express our gratitude. God, through their donation, had just fully provided for our home study, with $3,000-$4,000 left over to pay our finalization fees which is $14,500 {or more, if we have to cover the birth mother’s hospital bills, or our baby has extra medical bills due to complications}. I mean, is God good, or what?!

Yes, we have a lot more money to be raised and paid before all of this is said and done, and although it can be daunting to think about in a big, general since, we also have a peace that overcomes us in knowing that God has already proven himself trustworthy. He has provided for each step of the way before we even got there. We haven’t had to knock on several doors to know which one is right, He has left the right ones wide open so that all we have to do is get all of our paperwork done and ducks in a row and walk right on through to the next place he has called us.

There has been a passage that has been in the back of my mind the past couple of weeks. It is John 15 where Jesus is talking to the disciples about the vine and the branches. In summary, Jesus is explaining our relationship to God through the imagery of God being a gardener, Jesus being a vine, and us being branches on the vine. If we stay connected to Jesus, we will be strong, living, fruit-bearing branches, getting all we need from the vine. But apart from the vine, we will wither, fall to the ground, be picked up and thrown in to the fire with all of the other dead branches. Then in verses 7 and 8, Jesus says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

Can I be honest with you? Sometimes I deal with a little bit of guilt that, in general, things always go so well for us as a family. Yes, we have had our share of sorrows, of pain, of financial, physical, and emotional turmoil, but it seems that the Lord always bring us through to the other side stronger, wiser, and more confident in the love and power that comes with knowing the name of Jesus. John 15:8 removes a lot of that guilt for me, because the fruit that comes from our lives is intentional and expected. In verse 16, Jesus even says that he appointed us and chose us to bear fruit. All for the Father’s glory.

Thanks be to God for all of the good that is in our lives, because every good thing comes from Him! {James 1:17} We just pray that as people around us see the blessings in our lives, they see a great big, generous God behind them, that wants to offer the same to all who call upon His name and are willing to live their lives connected to the vine. We are more than conquerers! {Romans 8:37} We can do all things! {Philippians 4:13}

Jesus and the eye of the tiger, baby. Jesus and the eye of the tiger.

With love, Malorie

My Princess Half Marathon: Top Ten Tips for First-Timers

I did it! I ran Disney! Four days later, my muscles are less sore, my left IT band is giving me zero problems, and my PDD {Post Disney Depression} is slowly ebbing away. rundisney

Running the Princess Half Marathon was a blast! It was something on my bucket list, and now that I’ve checked it off, I think I want to add more runDisney races to it. Let me remind you that prior to my signing up for this race, I would have never considered myself a “runner”. However, throughout the training, I actually found myself enjoying to run! Even though my training was foiled a good bit by my pesky IT band, I made it to the finish line and could not have felt more proud. In hindsight, I learned a lot during my first Disney half marathon that even the best of training could not have prepared me for, and I wanted to share that knowledge with you. So, here are my Top Ten Tips for First-Timers:

10. Sign up quickly! Really. Be waiting at your computer five minutes before registration begins. These races fill up quickly. I had to run my first ever Princess Half Marathon alone because girls that were wanting to run with me couldn’t get spots just five or six hours later! I hear that the races in Disneyland fill up even faster than that, due to lower capacity, s make up your mind whether you want to do it before the registration date and be ready when registration opens. rundisney4

9. Dress up. It’s your first time, you need to dress up. Make it fun! Make it cute! Pinterest-board the heck out of those running costumes and whether you make one or order one, be sure to run in it before your race so you know what areas will tend to chaff and whether it’s actually going to be comfortable enough to wear for 13.1 miles.

8. Train for a 12-13 minute mile. In Disney races, you have to keep a 16 minute per mile pace. They have pacers at the back of the crowd on bikes with flags and walking with balloons. If you fall behind, you could be picked up by a bus at any time. You do not pass Go, you do not collect $200, you do. not. finish. the. race. Training for a 12-13 minute pace will give you a little wiggle room for standing in line for a character meet’n greet, porta potty, or, in my case, to get through the castle. {Ugh! Anna and Elsa were standing above the entrance and runners were under them, taking pictures, so you literally couldn’t get through to continue on the course. It probably took me a good two to three minutes to walk from the back of the castle through to the front. Talk about a pace-killer. Frozen fail.} Jeff Galloway has great advice for first-time runners and has a whole run/walk/run interval chart of whatever pace you want to keep.

7. Hydrate the day before. Whatever you usually drink during a day, drink more. I drank water, water, and more water the day before my race. In doing this, I got my body good and hydrated and ran to the bathroom a billion times the day before my race, not the morning of. The morning of, I just drank about 6-8oz before starting my race.

6. Wear a race belt. We have some amazing friends that let us borrow theirs. It had a zipper pocket with a mesh pocket on front and a water bottle attachment. During the race, I saw some more elaborate and some less elaborate. Just get what works for you. I stocked mine with chapstick, tissues, a Luna bar {DO NOT eat the gels they give out at mile 9 unless you have had them before! Bring your own energy boost that your body knows!}, and a couple of ibuprofen that I popped around mile 12. I filled up the water bottle and kept my phone in the zipper pocket when I wasn’t taking pictures. rundisney2

5. Catch the race-day transportation early and get to the front of your corral! Or if you are driving {which I don’t recommend} get there early. The buses were running a bit behind on Tim’s race-day, so I made sure to be out at the bus stop way before I had to. Luckily, there was a bus waiting on me when I arrived. Unless you are just dying for a picture with the character meet’n greets in the warm-up area, go ahead and get to your corral when the bus drops you off. I had heard it was a lengthy walk to the corrals from the drop-off point, but was really was. It was a good 15-20 minute walk. I got there early and was right next to the mesh at the front of the corral. Being at the front of your corral gives you extra time in keeping that 16 minute pace, which is nice to have if you have a knee you’re not so sure about, like me. rundisney5

4. Think through the porta potty situation and stop at real bathrooms! When I say think through the porta potty situation, that mainly means, make sure your costume is porta potty friendly. Can you pull your skirt easily up or down? If you have a fluffy tutu like mine, I suggest removing it and setting it on the ground outside of the porta potty. After just a few uses, especially in those early morning, dark hours, there is really not a safe place to touch inside of those things. I took mine off and left it outside and it never got swiped. If you feel really uncomfortable about leaving it out of sight, ask someone around you to keep an eye on it. It will be fine. ALSO! Those tissues in your belt can come in handy for more than one reason, if you know what I mean. Thousands of nervous tummies use up a lot of toilet paper, and sometimes you can walk in to a soggy situation {if you’re catching my smelly drift}. Having something of your own to use as backup is a great idea. There were a couple times {inside of the parks and passing the transportation center} that we passed real bathrooms. Stalls and sinks with real soap have never looked so glorious. Snatch up those opportunities, if you’ve gotta go.

3. Utilize the medic tents and water stations. Throughout the race, there will be water and Powerade tables. Get something every time. I heard it was best to rotate between water and Powerade, so that’s what I did. Towards the end of the race, I would sometimes take both. Thanks to my previous day of hydrating, I actually never felt thirsty, but I knew that my body needed it, so I made sure to make good on every opportunity. There are several medic tents along the way, too. If you are feeling even a little soreness in your muscles, grab a pump of Biofreeze and slap it on. I bathed my knees in Biofreeze at every medic tent along the way. It didn’t take but a few seconds to jog by, get a pump {often they had someone holding the bottle pumping it into your hand for you}, and step to the side, slather it on, and get back to jogging. I credit the KT tape and Biofreeze for getting my bum knee through the race without further injury. They also hand out vaseline for any chaffing you’re having. Don’t be ashamed. I saw people with hands down pants, inside of bras, and rubbing nipples…Hey! No judgement here! Chaffing is no fun, so you take care of whatever you need to take care of. If your shoes are rubbing a sore on your feet or heels, or God forbid, you twist your ankle or blow out your knee, they’re there for that, too. 10994439_10153038531885630_7845772622560098285_n

2. Don’t expect a PR. Even if you have done half marathons in the past and feel good about your pacing, don’t expect to use a Disney race as a chance to set a new PR unless you’ve submitted previous race times and can get placed in the first few corrals. There were many times when I literally couldn’t run because the path was too blocked by walkers {not the dead kind} or slower-paced joggers. There were thousands of runners, and sometimes navigating around big walking groups could be tricky during my run intervals. That’s just the nature of a Disney race, and it is more about having fun than achieving a new personal best. I actually feel sad for those corral A runners that trucked on through without taking in Main Street or stopping to get a picture of six Disney princes all in one shot. RunDisney is just as much about making memories as it is meeting personal records.

1. START SLOW! I actually got to meet Jeff Galloway and this was the advice he gave me before my race. I took it to heart and thought I started slow, but if I could do it again, I’d start even slower. The way the Princess Half is set up, you start in the EPCOT parking lot, run through Magic Kingdom around the 5-6 mile mark, then back down the highway miles 7-12 to run your last mile inside of EPCOT. Because my training couldn’t progress like I would have wanted, due to my IT band, I wasn’t able to maintain my run 4 min/walk 1 min pace I wanted to keep. Although I ran at least some portion of most miles, I completely walked miles 9 and 10. Knowing now that I would need that walking time for my knee to rest, I would have walked through Magic Kingdom, taking in the sights and excitement of being there, and saved the energy and knee-power to truck through those desolate highway miles. Even if you don’t have a bum knee, I would suggest saving some energy to give to miles 7-12, because those are the least entertaining, and looking at the seemingly endless highway stretching before you can be a downer. Know your course. Anticipate the miles that are going to be tough for you and plan accordingly.

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Through bum knee, desolate highway miles, and crowded race courses, running the Disney Princess Half Marathon was one of the most fun and rewarding things I have ever done. I can now say, “I did it!” And you know what? I can’t wait to do it again. Who’s with me?!

With love, Malorie

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Adoption Update: Adoption Classes and Home Study

Wow.

We have been so humbled by all of the support, both financially and emotionally, we have been shown the past few weeks since going public with our decision to expand our family through adoption. We have sold forty growth charts, and have had several generous donations made on our fundraising site. We could not feel more honored and thankful for that. IMG_2256

This past Monday, we attended our last of three, three-hour adoption classes that is required as part of our home study process. During those classes we learned about each piece of the home study, about how to put together our profile books and how we will be chosen by a birth mother, the ins and outs of the legal process in terminating the rights of birth and legal parents, and the benefits of simi-open and open adoptions. We also heard from a panel of birth mothers and adoptive parents. During those three hours each week, our hearts were stretched and challenged and enriched by the knowledge and support we received from the workers at Bethany and we couldn’t be more satisfied with the agency we chose to work with and the people assigned to walk us through this journey. In addition, we met four other amazing couples that are also pursuing adoption. It was so wonderful meeting them and hearing their stories and voices behind adoption. We are excited about keeping in touch with them and watching their adoption stories unfold as ours does.

As for us, we have only put a small dent in the home study requirements. Hopefully in the next couple of weekends we will be able to chip away at a lot of the paperwork and set up the necessary appointments we will need. So much to do! In addition to completing the steps of the home study, we are also walking an awkward timeline based on funds. When we have our home visit, we will need to pay a whopping $7,450, which we obviously aren’t quite ready for. Amazingly, some generous friends of ours have already paid $1,450 of that directly to Bethany, so we will only owe $6,000! Praise the Lord! He has already provided for each step we’ve taken thus far, and we trust that He will continue to do that until the very end. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, to those that have already given. Please continue to share our story as you feel led.

The past couple of weeks, Psalm 126:2-3 has been on my heart. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.

We have felt the hand of God with us throughout each step of this journey, so we feel comfortable and confident that this is the Lord’s will for our family. The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!

With love, Malorie

To order a growth chart, click the order form link above. To give, visit youcaring.com.

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TuTu Excited

Our next Disney trip is creeping up on us!

We haven’t had much time to think about it or start our usual Disney pre-trip routines because of everything we have going on with adoption and our church’s second campus opening and…oh, life. I looked at a calendar a few days ago and had a freak-out moment when I realized how close I am to running 13.1 miles in the Happiest Place on Earth…and I still didn’t have a tutu!

I can’t run the Princess Half Marathon without a tutu!

So off to Hobby Lobby I skipped, in search for supplies which included some stretchy headband ribbon, tulle, and felt. I also picked up iron-on letters and an iron-on princess crown for my shirt.

In summary, the shirt was a cinch. Place the letters and crown in desired spots. Iron-on. The skirt was easy, but I wouldn’t say it was exactly fun. Looping tulle through tiny holes is tedious, seemingly never-ending work. IMG_1814IMG_1804The felt dots are just placed on the skirt to give you an idea of the end result. I naively bought 37 yards of tulle, thinking that would be enough. HA! I need double that. Another trip to Hobby Lobby will occur this week, after which, I will be able to fully complete the skirt. IMG_1809I am pretty pleased with how it turned out, considering it’s my first go at making a running outfit. Just wearing it makes me feel ready to run! As I said before, I have no time goals I’m trying to reach for my first ever half marathon. My one and only goal is just to make it across the finish line, and by golly, even if I’m crawling across, I intend to look cute doing it.

With love, Malorie

Elrods Go Adoption: My Heart. Our Story.

A long, long time ago {a little over twenty years, actually} in a galaxy far, far away {like, Henry County, Georgia}, there lived a little girl:

Little Malorie Ann, brown-haired, blue-eyed, and imaginative, plays peacefully by herself. “Oh hello, Ken!”

“Hi, Barbie.” Ken bounces across the carpeted floor of the Malorie’s Room Mall, meeting Barbie and Skipper with a pasted-on smile. “Who’s this?”

“Oh, this is my new sister! She’s adopted.”

Fast forward a year:

“What do you want to play?”

Malorie pretends to look pensive, though she already knows the answer she will give her best friend. “Let’s play orphans again. My name’s is going to be Pepper, what’s yours?”

Fast forward two years:

Freshly ten-years-old and proud of this privilege, Malorie turns the bulky home camera perched precariously on her shoulder towards her bedroom mirror. She waves slightly at her reflection, careful not to tip the heavy piece of video machinery as she moves.

“Here are my Birthday Angels,” she smoothly says, zooming in on each one, counting as she goes. “…and ten. Because I just turned ten!”

The camera slides all too quickly a quarter of the way around the room, landing on a dark-complectioned doll dressed in a red jumper. This is my new Bitty Baby. She’s adopted.

Fast forward nine years:

Malorie sits in the passenger seat of a black pick-up truck, holding hands with a be-speckled boy sporting a foe-hawk. They’ve only been dating a few months, but he is quickly becoming one of her very best friends. “Yeah, since my sister and I are so far apart in age, I think I want my kids to be close together. I know I want more than one, and I really want to adopt.”

“Oh, that’s cool.”

“Yeah, so the guy I marry will definitely have to be okay with that.”

“Hey, did you notice my Georgia Bulldog floor mats?”

Fast forward two years:

“I can’t believe we’re married! Like, you’re my husband!”

“I know! Crazy!”

“So. When do you want to have kids?”

2010:

She lifts the lid of the baby-paper-wrapped cake stand, “It’s a BOY! Jack Hatcher Elrod!”

2011:

As Tim and Malorie stand by excitedly, the grandparents rip back the cloth on the jars filled with blue and green gummy bears. “It’s another boooooy! Cole Timothy Elrod!”

2013:

Bam! That was the hit that did it. Pink confetti trickled from the corner of the busted piñata. Zack’s hands raised in victory as the grandmothers squealed. “It’s a GIRL!! Lorelai Noel Elrod!”

2014: 

Malorie slides on to the bed next to Tim as he lounges there, scrolling through his Twitter feed. “So, when do you think you’re going to be ready to start the adoption process? I hate to bring it up again because I don’t want to be a nag, but I just need to know. I need to know where you stand. Do you really want to do this?”

“Let’s do it.”

“What do you mean, ‘Let’s do it’?”

“Let’s do it. Let’s start it.”

“But are you ready?”

“I don’t know if I’ll ever really feel ready. The money part stresses me out, but I know we can figure it out. I’m sure we’ll be able to raise the money, so let’s just start the process.”

Tears. Happy tears.

And now… 

To be honest, the first set of paperwork was so easy to fill out. It felt really weird sending it off. The beginning. We had begun. Prayerfully, this was really going to happen.

The second set came. Those were easy, too. One focused hour and everything was done, ready to be sent off, both cyber and postal.

And now here we sit, waiting to start our home study, and finally sharing with everyone our decision to grow our family through adoption. I cannot begin to tell you how happy this makes me feel. How humbled. Adding to my family in this way is something I have desired and dreamed about for as long as I can remember. The idea of adoption is something God has hidden in my heart from a very young age, and it’s so amazing to see it coming to fruition in my non-Barbie family.

On top of that, it feels so wonderful to think about the opportunity to provide a stable and nurturing home for a baby that might not have one otherwise. We are currently pursuing a domestic infant adoption through Bethany Christian Services. There is such a need for adoptive families to step forward, not just in the world, but in the United States, as well, and right here in our home state of Georgia! One of our friends from small group works as a nurse at our local hospital and she revealed last Wednesday that the night before, there were three babies on her floor that were in need of a home. The birth moms had come in with no plan other than to leave the hospital without their child. Three. In one night, three babies were born less than five miles from me that were in need of a home, and that are at this moment, most likely in custody of the state and being introduced into the foster care system.

Y’all. That is heartbreaking to me. I can’t care for every baby and child that is currently in or will be in the foster care system, but I can start with one. Yes, we need to educate young people on the importance of abstinence and safe-sex, but we also need to offer support for those that have made mistakes that they can’t turn back from. We need to love on those birth moms that are making the brave and selfless choice of allowing their child a life, even if they aren’t able to be the ones to provide that for them outside of the womb. And we need to care for the children that don’t have a place to call home or a face to call Mommy. “Do for one what you wish you could do for all,” is something our teaching pastor, Andy Stanley, teaches. That is that platform on which Tim and I are taking our first step. We are walking down the path of becoming a forever family for a child that is not of our blood, not of my womb. To love unconditionally. To provide for and protect. To raise in the way of the Lord. And of course, because they will be an Elrod, to take to Disney World!

I know this is predominately a Disney blog, but a couple of years ago I merged my lifestyle blog with my Disney, and I write from the many angles of our Elrod lives. I’m so grateful that so many of you are open to hearing about our heart on adoption and look forward to following along with this side of us. I hope it continues. Nothing would make me happier than to have you walk beside us the whole way, because I know that there are going to be days when I would love to hear an enthusiastic cheer echoing back my joy, and there are going to be times when I need a, “Cheer up, Charlie. Show me that smile!” on the days when I’m discouraged or frustrated.

Thank you, in advance, for that. Thank you for all of the prayers and support of all kinds. It means so much more than you know.

With love, Malorie

Growth Chart Order Form

Elrod Adoption Fund

The Princess Half Marathon and a Little Mommy Guilt

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My latest RunDisney Instagram post. 5.5 miles on a treadmill. Yuck.

We have just over a month until our next Elrods Go Disney getaway! This trip, however, is the first one ever that I’m not necessarily wishing to get here sooner.

It’s that little you-have-to-run-a-half-marathon thing that’s keeping me from my usual paper chain traditions.

Overall, though, I am really excited and feeling very motivated. Do I feel completely prepared to run 13.1 miles? No. But do I feel confident that I can {maybe at a tortoise speed} and that I am going to have an amazing time doing so? Yes!

I’m a mostly-melancholy personality, which means I’m a people-pleasing perfectionist, and I am my harshest judge. I keep feeling tempted to tear myself down in my training progress, but then I remind myself of the initial goal: just to say I’ve done it. To conquer it, no matter how long it takes. To make it across the finish line, even if I’m the very last one. When I set my mind on more realistic goals, I feel much more motivated and excited about it. IMG_1588

Aside from just participating in a race weekend, this trip, as a whole, is going to be so different from our past trips. For one, it is just going to be Tim, Jack, and I in attendance. Crazy! I’m totally battling good mom/bad mom feelings over this. I am okay with leaving Lorelai behind with the grands for a weekend, but I feel horrible about having to leave Cole.

He is going to be devastated.

He is definitely at the age where he knows Disney and can remember our trips. He will know where we’re going and what we’re doing and it will be hard to hide that from him. On top of it all, he and Jack are rarely separated, so he’s probably going to have a hard adjustment not having his best buddy to fall back on when he’s feeling homesick for Mommy and Daddy.

Treats. Wonderful treats will be brought home for this boy. Okay, probably just some Mickey-shaped rice-cripsy treats. But those are still pretty wonderful.

With love, Malorie

Elrods Go DIY: Kitchen Cabinet Transformation

Well, if consistency is the key, then I’m an overgrown Alice in a room full of tears.

Sorry for the lengthy absence. So much time and so little to blog about.

Wait. Scratch that. Reverse it.

This post has been nagging me ever since the week of Thanksgiving, begging to be written. But I’m really good at ignoring myself, so it’s been “punted” {as my husband would say} from weekend to weekend, until today. In a strange turn of events, we actually have a Friday morning at home with nothing {urgent} to do or accomplish! Wee! And with my husband being home, I can sit almost undisturbed with my nose to screen and fingers to keys, giving you my mostly undivided attention! Don’t you feel so valued?

{I just heard a, “Woo-Hoo!” from the pot, a tiny behind asking to be wiped, and I didn’t have to go! Thank you, Jesus, for husbands! All the exclamation points!}

Okay, okay. I’m getting to the point. Please excuse my rabbit-trailing. It’s obviously been a while since I got out my creative-writing-bloggity side.

SO! Over the week of Thanksgiving, my hubby and I decided to take on one of the bigger DIY projects we’ve done in a while…we refinished our kitchen cabinets.

Meep! Huge undertaking.

Upon moving in, our newish house {we’ve been here a year and a half} had orangey, middle-toned wood cabinets. The quality of them is nice, but the color and look was just not our personal preference. I don’t have many before pictures, because like crazies, we didn’t take any before starting the project, but here is one that I scrounged up. A precarious picture of Cole at our kitchen table. I have no idea what is going on here, but it looks like disaster. IMG_0255Eck. Orange cabinets, honey-colored table, yellow chalk painted kitchen chairs…it all just screams missed-matched country kitchen. Yuck. And call me crazy {again!} but I am so over the chalk paint fad.

The project started when our church, in a current revamp, used Home Depot’s Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations Kit to refinish the doors in the lobby. They turned out just lovely, so Tim and I, in an effort to get to know the product, started with our island. We used the smaller Furniture Transformations kit in the espresso color. We knew that long term we wanted light cabinets with a dark island, so we figured starting on the island was the least risky move. Once we finished, we were in love. Sounds cheese, but it completely transformed the island, just like the name of the product. It was an easy process, granted time consuming due to drying times, and the quality was wonderful . My kids have since spilled and splashed goodness-know-what all over it and I can wipe and clean it just like I could the original finish.

Bonus: That kit only cost us $35 and it completed our island with a ton left over. We have since used the remainder to refinish the top of that table Cole is sitting at, and the guest bathroom cabinet! Three DIY upgrades for $35? That’s winning.

We knew loved the product and felt confident in the execution, so we decided to move forward with doing the whole kitchen. We went back and bought the bigger kit that ran us around $80 {$100 once we bought two new paint brushes}, but this time we went with the Linen finish.

After kicking myself for not taking a before picture, I decided to document the work on our coffee station, since it was the last bit we tackled.

Ladies and gentlemen, [fanfare: bum ba-buh dum!] BEFORE!IMG_1259

The first step in the kit is a cleaner/de-glosser. Included, is a handy-dandy scrubby pad thingy. {We get real technical with the DIY terminology around here.} We removed all of the doors and drawer fronts and cleaned away. The cleaner requires an hour dry-time before the next step.

Step two is two coats of the base color. We expected the Linen to be a little more creamy than it was, so we freaked out the first time we applied it. It seemed white. Like white-white white. {Don’t you love how words start looking strange when you type them over and over?} However, once the glaze of step three was applied we achieved the color we liked. The base coats require two hours of dry-time each before you can begin step three.IMG_1260Don’t you love how {literally!} transparent I’m being with you, letting you take a peek inside my messy, mug-mashed cabinets? Oh, and the tupperware catch-all down below…let’s just move on.

Step three is the glaze. The instructions simply say, apply glaze, using a clean cloth to remove as much as desired. Okay…

Tim and I decided that in an effort to keep it consistent, I would do all of the glazing. Different hands work different ways and we didn’t want there to be obvious differences in the doors we finished. The glaze all came down to trial and error. I googled videos and tutorials, but in the end I found a method that worked for me. I didn’t want super streaky doors, which is kind of unavoidable with this product, so if I were to redo it all, I would probably buy a cream colored paint and only put the glaze in the corners and creases of the doors and cabinets. However, that’s not what happened, so I had to make it work with what we had. The end result is still great and we’ve had nothing but complimentary feedback. It’s just all about what look you are trying to achieve. Here is the glazing method that I came up with that gave me the creamy, shabby chic look I was wanting, with the least amount of uneven streaks.

What I wish someone had told me before I started glazing:

After the second coat of step two had finished drying for two hours, I began with a latex glove {not included in kit}, two sections of cheese cloth, and the glaze. In general, I tried to keep one “drenched” cloth for applying, and one that was “clean” or had lesser on it for blending and removing excess. I started by generously applying glaze in the corners, creases, and edges of the doors.

PicMonkey Collagedoor Then, using the “clean” cloth, I would drag and blend the stain onto the flat surface of the doors, rubbing a little firmer, where I wanted to remove the stain. I found that my “clean” cloth would be good for about two doors, at which time I would need to switch it out for another.

After blending and getting the stain as consistent as possible, I would go back and add some darker accents around the edges of the inset. I would use my thumb nail and the drenched cloth to make as straight and solid of a line as possible down the edges and across the top and bottom. Then, using the clean cloth, I would blend in or remove the excess. This is the one touch that is inconsistent on each door, giving each one character and interest. PicMonkey CollagedetailI repeated the process on the cabinets and drawer fronts, making sure to leave darker accents of the stain in the creases of the molding, or edges of the drawers. iPhoto LibraryIMG_1345I have to admit, that even though I feel that anyone can do it, this process seems to be easier when you have a little bit of a creative eye and hand. I really didn’t want to just slap the glaze up there. I wanted it to have character and look intentional. I made the edges and sides of things darker, while keeping the inside, larger, flat faces lighter. I don’t think there is a right and wrong way. It’s just finding out what you desire to achieve.

One last tip: When I was working on a larger door, where dragging stain from the crease of a door was just simply not enough to cover the face, instead of adding more stain with my drenched cloth {which would result in a large dark stipe, regardless of how light-handedly I tried to apply it}, I would take a more saturated part of my clean cloth, press it to the drenched cloth to absorb a bit more stain, and apply it with the now-damp clean cloth. In doing so, it would give the face color without resulting in a lot of dark streaking. PicMonkey CollageextraSee? Things that are not covered in the simplistic explanation of the directions.

The glaze must dry eight hours before you can apply the fourth step, which is a polyurethane for protection. The directions said that you can apply two coats of the glaze, but I only applied one, seeing as how I had already achieved the look I wanted and didn’t want to go any darker.

After the poly is applied, you have to wait a bit {12 hours?} before you can put the doors back on. We’re rebels by nature, so after they were dry to the touch, we put them back on and left them ajar for the rest of the dry-time.

The end result is impressive, to say the least. The look and feel of our kitchen is completely…for lack of a better word, transformed! IMG_1565Since then, we have also moved the previous {now espresso-topped, like the island} kitchen table to the formal dining room, and my handy-hubby assisted his friend in building us this amazing picnic table for our eat-in. I’m in love! Yes, I’m the crazy girl that wants a picnic table indoors.

Oh and nevermind my kids’ messy lunch plates still on the table. IMG_1566DIY up next? Refinishing all of those orange banisters to the same espresso color, changing up the backsplash, and replacing both of the kitchen lighting fixtures.
IMG_1563I just love doing home projects. So rewarding.

Oh and one last tip: Your kitchen may be smaller than mine, maybe bigger, but either way, I feel this is a helpful thought. When we were taking apart all of our doors and drawers, we kept the hardware sorted out in labeled baggies according to where it went. I know all the hinges may look the same, but we found that some of them, either by design or builder-error, needed to go back onto the same exact door. IMG_1346So what do you think?!

Actually, lets stick to the advice of Thumper’s mother. “If you can’t say something’ nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.” [insert winky face here]

With love, Malorie

 

10 Cups of Coffee: 2 Days!

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Today I am longing to walk the breezeway between Bay Lake Tower and the Contemporary. I want the hustle and bustle of happy families in cheesy, matching shirts and tacky walking shoes, preparing for their day at the park as I stroll down the aisle of gift shops to my left and right on the way to the Comtempo Cafe. I want the sound of monorails whooshing overhead as I enjoy a breakfast bounty platter and a RapidFill mug full of terrible coffee.

That kind of morning is far from the morning I’ve had today, but I can feel it. I can taste it. It is so close!

With love, Malorie

 

In Love with Lolly: A Seven Month Update

Lorelai turned seven months a few days ago. That’s right. Seven. IMG_1061

I would say times flies, but I also can barely remember what life was like without her. So I guess I walk the line of it feeling like yesterday or forever that she rocked our world with those chunky cheeks and roly-poly thighs.

“Hey, guh. You need some butta for dos rolls?”

I ask her that almost everyday. She never responds. Maybe it offends her. But I also say almost everyday that I wish I could have those kind of rolls on my arms and legs and people would think they were cute. lolly3As of now, Lorelai is definitely on the physical fast-track that her big brother, Jack, was on. She voluntarily rolled over at eight weeks, got her first teeth at four months {she now has a total of six teeth!}, and she’s crawling and pulling up. Can someone make it stop?! I know I’m supposed to be excited at all of these milestones, but I just want her to slow down. Jack started walking at the end of ten months and I won’t be surprised if she follows in those footsteps.

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It’s so amazing, the bond that she and Jack share, in addition to the similarities they share in their physical development. He was in love with her from the moment we told him there was another baby in Mommy’s tummy. He knew it was a baby sister and wouldn’t hear it any other way. I’m so thankful he was right. He would talk to my tummy everyday, telling her his name and all about the world outside. When she was born, she responded and looked toward his voice when he spoke more than anyone else’s. Cole can run amuck, acting silly and trying to get her attention to make her smile, but she will just stubbornly give him what I call the “stank face”. All Jack has to do is make a silly sound or roll his eyes and she’s belly laughing and reaching for him. There’s just something about those two and I can’t wait to see how their relationship grows as they do. 7monthsAt seven months, Lorelai loves crawling around the floor, exploring everything that’s been dropped there by her big brothers. She loves eating her newest food, Gerber puffs, and being danced and bounced around the room on Mommy or Daddy’s hip when we’re listening to our Disney parks music loops.

Oh. And at seven months she’s already been to Disney World once and will go again in a little over a month…this time, eating with all of the princesses in Cinderella’s Castle. Can you say spoiled much?

We are all madly in love with our little Lolly. She is truly a joy to us each and everyday. I am so thankful that God chose me to be her Mommy.

With love, Malorie