day 27// a beautiful home.

Tommy and I love working on our house.  I’m sure you know that if you read here often.  It started out of necessity with our first house.  Serious necessity.  We loved that house, but no one else seemed to love it like we did.  I miss that house a lot.  But more than the house I miss our neighbors and our friends in Maryland.  It was a great place.  When we moved back to Tennessee we were pretty tired — we had a 5 month old and had done countless hours of projects on our house.  So we decided to look for something newer.  Our house now is new.  We still call it new even though it is 10 years old now.  Our first house was built in the 1940s, so a house built in 2004 seemed entirely new to us.  It didn’t need a lot of work — or any work really.  It was basically as bland as the way it was built.  Seriously.  The kids bedrooms upstairs were painted, but other than that not one thing had been done to the house outside of the way the builders left it in 2004.  It took a little while but we got over our “we’re tired and just want a new house” attitude, and we have been working on turning this house from a completely builder grade house to something that more reflects us.


My very favorite thing that we have done so far is the laundry room.  I spend a lot of time there, and because of it’s location, it’s a room we see all the time.  It’s on our main level, so we walk past it many times a day.  I love that it’s a pretty room now!  I cannot get over it.  We negotiated the washer and dryer in the purchase of the house, so these were here when we moved in.  The previous owners had them stacked and had a tall metal shelving unit beside them.  They used it as storage, and while I can definitely understand the need for storage space, I also really need laundry space.  So as soon as we moved in, we moved that unit out to the garage.  To kick off this project, my brother and sister came over to help Tommy move the dryer down.  I wanted the machines side by side and not stacked.  Apparently I didn’t take a picture of what it looked like stacked, so here are some in progress pictures.






I showed Tommy a picture of what I wanted for shelving, and he made it happen.  This is a Restoration Hardware knockoff project.  And this project was cheap!  I decided I wanted to go dark for the paint color, and I’m so happy I did!  I absolutely love it, and now I want to paint all of our rooms dark!




Here is my updated laundry room!


laundryroomreno laundryroomrenoinprogresss laundryroomrenoironingboard


Beautiful rooms in my home make me smile.

gabriel’s room is ready.

Our favorite room in the house.





It is filled with peace.  It is an incredibly pleasant room to be in, and we have found ourselves hanging out in there as a family a lot.  I love it!  I love that Jack loves to be in there.  I love that Jack wants to lay in the crib and play and pretend he’s a baby.  I love that we do puzzles on the floor with him.  He loves that he can watch the doggies from the windows in Gabriel’s room.  Tommy loves the bed in there.  And we all love our new chair my parents’ gave us and look forward to long nights in that chair.  We can’t wait to rock Gabriel in there.



Every detail in Gabriel’s room has meaning.  Every piece of furniture, every picture, every decoration, even every scratch on the freshly painted walls [thanks, Jack!] was intentionally chosen and has meaning that we’ll always remember.


Tommy actually finished painting the room more than 10 weeks ago, and then I started working on decorating it.  It’s been ready for awhile now, and it’s so nice to just be able to go in there and hang out.  It’s nice to have a place that is specifically for our sweet Gabriel and will be extra welcoming to him when we bring him home.



Here are a few pictures of Gabriel’s room:

















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The details:

  • The crib was Jack’s, as was the crib bedding and the curtains.
  • The big bed has been our guest bed since we bought our first house.  It was my Mamaw’s and was the bed that my sister and I always slept in when we visited.  It was actually my Mamaw’s grandmother’s bed originally, so it’s quite antique.
  • The banner over the crib was made by a friend and hung at a Celebration for Gabriel.
  • The board over the big bed is covered in ultrasound pictures of Gabriel and cards that we’ve gotten from dear people in our lives.  We filled the board up pretty quickly, so I’m trying to figure out where else in there I can hang cards.  We love being able to see support, love, and prayers for our boy and want him to know about it all, too.
  • We put the gallery wall up using frames we already had.  We have family pictures, ultrasound pictures of Gabriel, some maternity pictures, and a big, encouraging print in the middle.
  • My parents’ gave us the ottoman after Jack was born, so I would have somewhere to put my feet up while rocking Jack.  We didn’t have room in our old house for the chair that goes with it, so they recently gave it to us as a gift for Gabriel.
  • The dresser is an antique that was all over our house in Maryland before landing it’s star role as changing table.  I love this dresser, and it just feels right in the nursery to me.
  • The beautiful “Gabriel” painting was a precious gift from a friend.  She gave it to us shortly after we found out the diagnosis, and I was desperate for a visual reminder of our baby.
  • I can’t wait for Jack and Gabriel to wear their matching shirts.  Jack is going to be a great big brother and Gabriel is going to be a precious little brother.
  • The beanie babies on the shelf just inside the room were given to us just days after finding out about Gabriel.  The kangaroo is for me, with the baby in the pouch, and the doggie is for Jack.  A dear friend and someone who is incredibly wise, came over to visit with me and pray for us.  She knows the road of losing a baby well, as she lost 2 babies, and she brought these stuffed animals for us to have something tangible to hold on to when we’re missing our sweet baby.



I love that when we’re in Gabriel’s room there is meaning in everything.  We can’t wait to bring him home and show him his room!



one year ago.

One year and one week ago we closed on our house in Maryland.  It was brutal.  It exhausted us emotionally, physically, and financially.  We learned a lot in the aftermath — like it’s OK to say no to an offer or you don’t have to work with a certain realtor just because you feel like you have to.  Especially when they aren’t working in your best interest.  And I beat myself up for awhile after the sale about whether we did the right thing and handled things right.  I would frequently ask Tommy “what if we’d done this or this or this”.  And he told me I had to let it go.  It was over and we were glad not to have to keep up with a house over 10 hours away.  And he was right.  In the last year I have let go of it.  It took some time, and I’m still a bit bitter about the whole house selling/buying/real estate agent/negotiating thing.  But it’s long over, and we have to look at the experience  and learn from it.


So in a last look of sorts at our first home — the one where we poured sweat, blood, and tears, I’m taking a walk down memory lane.  Seriously, if anyone ever pulls up that kitchen flooring they will be disturbed at the amount of Tommy blood on the floor boards.  Lots of work done there [I wrote about here, here, and here].  That whole house was full of lessons.  From the day we started looking for it, to the day we sold it.  And it will always be a house that makes me smile when I remember it.  We brought Jack home to that house after wondering if we’d ever get to bring him home.  We had the best neighbors there. We raised 2 puppies there.  We had some sweet times with dear friends there.  It was where our marriage started.  Lots of sweet memories that I hope I never forget.  So to commemorate it, I’m filling this post with lots of pictures.  Some are before/during/after pics.  Most are just of every day things that I love to remember looking back through pictures.



new headboard2

Our first DIY headboard.  An easy, cheap, fun project.








The guest bedroom…


guest bedroom

From this after we moved in…



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To this after some painting and sprucing up…




To this…




To this [getting better]…




To this!


And this!


With a sweet, new little bundle in place.




The back door entry way…


back entry

From this…




To this!  [ignore the paint on the floor.  it came right up]




The kitchen…



From this…



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To this!





















The time when I was 7 1/2 months pregnant and needed IVs to help me get fluids and keep things down.












Tiny patch of a front yard made it look like mowing was easy, but the almost half-acre backyard made up for it.












The view I so often had of the dogs out the kitchen window.  They loved that yard, had plenty of room to roam, plenty of animals to hunt and chase, and plenty of shady trees to keep them cool in the summer.  It was pretty much a perfect backyard, except for the 35 dead animals buried back there — but that’s a story for another day.




So many pretty things popped up in the spring.  I loved the colors and surprise of not knowing what was going to come up after 60+ years of things being planted there.











The time we chopped down the holly tree because it was ugly and poked Tommy every time he got out of his truck.  The two of us tackled that thing and hauled it off bit by bit.  Then we put this lovely little garden there instead.






Our dining room.



birthday presents
















Celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, new jobs, and milestones.



tommy shoveling

Shoveling.  Lots of shoveling.  I thought when I married Tommy that I would never have to shovel snow since he’s done plenty of it having grown up in Colorado.  And then he traveled.  And we got 3 blizzards our first Maryland winter.  So I shoveled and shoveled and shoveled.  For this little snow, I left it for him to do when he got home from a business trip.  Tennessee girls are not made for shoveling.  Lesson learned.




This was Lady’s perch where she could see the street.  That bay window was her territory, and this scene of Tommy plus dogs was a common one.




My favorite kitchen floor which Tommy worked so hard to install.  And my favorite golden lab lounging in one of his many spots in the old house.



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Tommy, remember when we used to have breakable things around and actually did this on a Saturday?  Yeah, me either.





The house where we brought Jack home.

















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Waiting out our first hurricane — for all 3 of us.  Jack was scared but we only got a tropical storm after all.



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Tommy used to spend many hours out on the front porch with Jack.  Whenever Jack was fussy, the fresh air, sunshine, and Daddy would always do the trick.



Thanks for taking a stroll down memory lane with me.  Now that it’s been a year since we sold the Maryland house, I really feel like time has moved forward so much.  We are so settled in our lives in Tennessee and have grown and changed so much in that time.  But I love to remember.  I love looking back and seeing where we were and where we are now.  So I would tell you this will probably be one of my last recaps of Maryland, but in all honesty, it probably isn’t.  But for now, while I enjoyed the memories, I’m turning back around to be very much in the present.  Hope you had a wonderful weekend!  Happy week ahead to you!













the weekend.

This weekend was really good for us.  Not good in the way a weekend used to be good, but good for our hearts.


One of the things people told me and I realized quickly at the beginning of this journey was that I would go through ups and downs, different emotions, different stages of grief.  We’ll have that grief full on after Gabriel is no longer with us, but we’re dealing with it in some ways now, too.


The first 2 1/2 to 3 weeks I was fully immersed in everything.  The diagnosis, the reality, the planning, the decisions to be made, the sharing of our news.  I lived it every day.  I talked about it a lot.  I shared it with people.  I read books, looked at websites, gathered information.  And while the results of our amniocentesis were not at all surprising, I found myself deeply sad to know it was definite.  There was no chance that he might not have T18.  And it struck me differently than I thought it would.  Just because you know something is coming, doesn’t mean it’s any easier when it comes.  [And as I type that, I realize it’s probably foreshadowing to my future as well.]


So the next 2 1/2 weeks, up until this weekend, were very different for me.  I kind of shut it all out.  The reality was still there; I’ve never been in denial about it, but I wasn’t focusing on it.  I so badly wished it would be different.  I couldn’t quite process it.  Or didn’t want to.  I didn’t read any books, any blogs, any websites.  I didn’t reach out at all.  I didn’t share.  When people would ask me about my pregnancy, I just answered their questions normally and didn’t mention anything about Gabriel’s diagnosis.  And I don’t think those things are bad or wrong.  I think it was a different stage for me.  In general though, I do want to share about Gabriel.  It’s his story, it’s our story, and it’s a story I pray brings God glory.  It’s worthy of sharing.


So I was actually happy when this weekend rolled around and things turned.  We did some things and I faced our reality head on, and I like it better that way.  I know there will be many more back and forths– I realize that.  I also realize that it’s easier to ignore and pretend life’s different, than it is to face our hard reality.  So this weekend we did some things that were hard but important and therefore, good for our hearts.  Tommy started painting the nursery.  He got most of the priming done.  But Jack was not happy about his daddy doing something besides playing with him, so Tommy’s work was cut short yesterday.  We hope to get the actual color on the walls next weekend!  Then I can get to decorating.  Very exciting!










I spent a lot of time Saturday back on the internet learning, researching, collecting information.  I also did something normal that seems kind of silly for us now.  I started a baby registry.  Mostly I did it because I got a big coupon and gift card for signing up, and the practical side of me says that Jack uses a lot of diapers and food and I’ll take a discount.  But I also want to buy some new sheets for the crib and a few other nursery items, so I put those on there.  Plus, if Gabriel has some time with us, there are several things we’ll need to get!  I’ve realized that I’ve counted our boy’s days far too many times, assuming they’d be limited to none, but I don’t know that.  God knows exactly how many minutes, hours, or days Gabriel will have, and I’m going to be praying that he blesses us with time with him.


After I set up the registry, I did some research on perinatal hospice.  How can that be?  I certainly never in my life thought I’d have an afternoon that contains both of those events.  It was good, really, to learn more about our options as we will have to make decisions far too soon.  In the meantime, I was really happy this weekend to hit 25 weeks!  It feels like a mile marker week for me, not sure why.  But I guess every week is.  So this week, we continue to prepare for Gabriel.  Prepare his room, prepare for his arrival, prepare our hearts.



preparing a room.

For several weeks now we’ve started thinking about getting our nursery ready.  We have been planning to make the guest room the nursery.  I want to keep the guest bed in there for guests but also for us to be sleeping in in the early newborn days as well.  A couple of weekends ago my brother and sister came over and helped Tommy move the rest of the furniture that was in the guest room down to our bedroom.  We didn’t have a proper dresser/chest set in our room, so it worked out well.


Other than that the room is a disaster.  Not a suitable guest room.



A collection of junk and stuff that I have thrown in there for a couple of months now.



I’ve been planning to start cleaning it up as soon as I got all of my Christmas put away.


In the midst of learning about Gabriel’s health, I asked Tommy if we were still going to do a nursery.  About 2 minutes after I said it, I realized that of course we would.  It took me a little bit of time and processing to realize how this was going to go.


We don’t want to walk this path.  We wouldn’t choose this.  But if we’re going to walk this path, then we’re going to give it everything we’ve got.   



And that means making a nursery.  That means creating a space in our home that is just for Gabriel.  A space that says “We are waiting for you” and  “Welcome home”.  We need it.  We need to prepare for him.  And we still have hope.  We don’t know what each day holds.  We don’t know how long we have.  We don’t know if we’ll get to meet our baby boy while he has breath in his lungs and his heart is beating.  None of these things are certain.  But we know that we might!  We know God does big things, and we have no idea what He is up to.  How could we limit Him to statistics.  So we will prepare for Gabriel.  We will make his space in our home.

wrapping up 2012.

Can you believe this year only has 3 days left?  It has gone by so fast.  All of the people who told us that life moves faster when you have kids, really weren’t kidding.  I cannot believe our little man is 19 months.  I cannot believe how quickly Christmas came and went.  And I cannot believe in just a few days we will be ringing in 2013.  I still remember spending my first New Year’s Eve with Tommy in 2005.  That was nearly 10 years ago!


Here is my brief, or not so brief, recap of 2012 from the Morgan’s perspective.




1.  We started off the year with one chunky, just started crawling babe on our hands.  We haven’t sat down since 🙂

2.  We got an offer on our house and after agonizing negotiations we were under contract.  The selling of our house proved to be exhausting, taking a toll on us physically, emotionally, and financially.  We learned a lot from it and know next time we’ll use a good realtor, we’ll wait on the best offer for us, and we certainly won’t be afraid to say no.

3.  We made a trip back to Maryland to move out of our house and close on it.  Worst closing ever.  Great to see our friends who we dearly missed though.

4.  Last look at our first house.






1. The first half of the year was pretty full of teething.  Always working on teeth, that little one was.

2.  We tried a lot of new foods this year.  Most went over really well.  Some did not.

3.  We bought a house!  And it was painless and smooth and oh so refreshing, especially after being scarred from the last experience.

4.  We were so blessed that Tommy’s new work moved us down here.  I didn’t lift a box.  Just got the fun job of unpacking, which I tackled as quickly as possible with a 10 month old.






1. Celebrating Easter for the first time with our darling little man.  He’s a looker, especially in that bow tie.

2. We turned a work trip into a beach vacation in sunny Florida.  Jack’s 2nd plane ride.  Jack’s 2nd plane ride with a double ear infection.  But it was all worth it for some fun in the ocean.

3.  Jack had his first surgery getting tubes put in his ears.

4.  Jack turned 1!!!!  We had a wonderful party with our family and celebrated the little guy like crazy.










1. 4th of July celebrations at mom and dad’s, including an intense game of croquet.

2. Family beach trip to Wild Dunes, South Carolina.  Our favorite place.  Jack had a blast with his family around him all week, and we had so much fun getting to hang out with everyone.

3.  We had lots of fun adventures this fall — we all love the fall season!

4.  The pumpkin patch was a huge hit for our little man.  He couldn’t have been happier to be surrounded by pumpkins as big as him.





1.  Found out and shared our news that we were expecting baby #2!  Earlier that day we got to see our sweet little bean on the ultrasound screen and experience the miracle of hearing the baby’s heart beat.

2.  We got to celebrate Thanksgiving day with both of our families this year.

3.  After 8 straight weeks of sickness Jack had his 2nd surgery– adenoidectomy and they put tubes back in his ears.  2 weeks of recovery and a virus later, he was back to himself!  And life has been wonderful since!  He is truly the happiest child I’ve ever known.  So thankful he is back to himself.

4.  We celebrated Jack’s 2nd Christmas and spent lots of time with our families.  It was a wonderful holiday season.



God continues to pour blessings on us.  This year has brought more and many different things than I’d imagined.  God has blessed us in ways that I never could have dreamed up or ever thought to ask of!  He is truly so good.  In the hard and the easy.  In the ups and the downs.  Thankful for a year where my eyes were more open to this.  Thankful for a year of more feeling and experiencing and living.  So looking forward to 2013 and what it will look like for our family.

the wrong reasons.

Working out is not our strongest suit in this house.  Tommy and I both like physical activity, like being in shape, all that good stuff.  But the actual every day getting something done doesn’t happen as often as we like.  Tommy’s favorite way to exercise is to play hockey, and since he doesn’t have a lot of time for that, it’s not been happening much.  I love to work out, but I’ve come up with some pretty good excuses for skipping out on the exercise.

My best one to date happened yesterday.  I couldn’t go to the gym because there was a mouse in my garage.

I dropped Jack off at preschool for the first time in a couple of weeks and wanted to take advantage of the free time.  So I came home, changed into workout clothes, and opened the door to the garage to get my tennis shoes.  Then I saw the mouse run down the stairs.  I was horrified.  I have a fear of mice.  Especially after we had an infestation in our house in Maryland.

So I slammed the door shut.  And realized my plans were changing.  I changed back into my other clothes, pulled my boots on, and am not going to the gym today.  And from here on out I’ll probably keep my tennis shoes in my closet.

the tree.

I shared about our trees and how Jack was so into decorating them.  He cracks me up because he is fine with ornaments being on the tree upstairs.  He does rearrange them, and he does add his own.  Why can’t blocks and alphabet letters be tree ornaments?  But on the downstairs tree he has picked off every ornament he can reach.  Since that tree is 5 feet tall, it really doesn’t leave much room for decorating.  I saw this diagram and immediately thought of Jack.  So true.


toddler tree


reminders everywhere.

Our Christmas decorations are up, and I LOVE having reminders everywhere of the season.  I love that I look and see little things that don’t mean much that remind me to slow down.  To stop and think about everything.  To be slow in this season.  I love the beauty that this season brings.  Nothing feels more joyful and warm than a home decorated for Christmas.  I wanted to share some of our decorations.  Not because I’m good at decorating or because we do something awesome out on the yard that involves santa and a tractor.  We don’t.  But our neighbors do.  And it IS awesome.  We just have a totally random collection of things we’ve been gifted or have picked up, and it looks random, too.  But it serves its purpose and I love it.




This is our first year with a fake tree.  We have a real one, too, but since we have this huge window above the garage I thought it screamed for a Christmas tree.  So we put this one here, and it looks so good from the street.  This window is probably the most noticeable thing about house from the outside, so I’m glad to have this tree here.  And we had so much fun decorating it with Jack.  He was so helpful and really enjoyed it.  He helped put the star on top, too.





And then Tommy finished putting the star up.





I was shocked how helpful this kid was.  He LOVED putting ornaments on the tree.  He would come grab one from the bin and go to this very spot on the tree and lay the ornament there.  It’s hard to tell but that stash of stuff on the tree behind his back is where 95% of his ornaments were placed.





Here he is branching out a little from his usual spot.





I put most of these lights up at night.  I was the crazy pregnant lady out on the porch in the dark putting lights up.  I had to do it.  It was calling me.  This front porch has all kinds of Christmas decorating potential.  I’m happy with where we ended up this year but who knows what the future holds.  The next day I had to tweaking to do, so Jack was my awesome helper.





He was entertained by being outside, Goldfish- or fisheeeeess as he says, and Henry the neighbor’s cat.





This stuff makes me so happy.  There is something about this seriously-Christmas-smelling soap that makes washing my hands a pleasure.  One is the orange spice Christmas smell and the other smells like a pine tree.  Like I literally walked into a forest, rubbed my hands on a pine tree and called that washing them.  [Side note:  we used to live on Pine Street, so apparently I cannot type pine tree without great effort.  My hands automatically kept going to pine street.  Must re-train brain now.]





I LOVE this tree.  Our little fatty.  Since we had the artificial tree upstairs, I didn’t feel like we needed 2 big trees.  So we decided to go small.  I was thinking understated.  We came home with fat.  This tree is short and fat and I love it.  Also, he’s staying naked– besides the lights.  I tried putting ornaments on him, but Jack just wants to pull them all off.  For some reason he’s totally cool with ornaments on the upstairs tree but not on the downstairs one??  I kind of love the look of just the tree and the lights though.





Our garage jets out of our house like a giant nose on a face, so Tommy thought we should outline it in lights.  I love him for this.





Just little reminders everywhere that Christ is coming.





My favorite of all our inside decorations.  Fresh. Green. Beautiful.





And it sits in our dining room which looks like this currently. Tommy’s working furiously on our dining room table right now.  I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.









I love this sign my Granny gave me just after we got married.  It was our very first Christmas decoration, and I left it up year round hanging above my washing machine.  I should find somewhere for it to live all year in this house, too.





Christmas candle– I burn one all the time that I’m home.  That nativity scene there— it lived through college with me and unfortunately one year one of the wise men was be-headed in an on-campus housing incident.  It was painful.  [I actually don’t know what happened but I just found his head laying by his body.]  So instead of hot gluing the head back on like a normal person, I put it out year after year with the head laying beside his body.  I should probably get that fixed before Jack is old enough to be terrified.






Still working on the mantle.  But the biggest piece missing is a stocking for Jack!  Last year we weren’t living in our own house at Christmas, so this year I totally forgot little man didn’t have his space claimed on the mantle.





Don’t you have a “Z” under your tree?  Jack thinks the alphabet letters are a nice addition to the tree.  I found  the “U” on the tree the other day, and the “B” and “L” were casualties in a decorating-gone-bad situation.  They should make a full recovery.





our old house part 3: the mudroom

This week I’m on the our old house train and jogging down memory lane thinking about all the work we did in that old place.

This is the back door of the house.  You walk out into the back yard and a very, very sketchy “patio”.  We let our dogs in and out here, which worked really well for us.  Because of the location of the door, a lot of dirt, mud, grass, leaves, etc. got tracked into the house, so Tommy decided to tackle one of my favorite projects and built us a mudroom!

Yep, this was our back door in all its glory.  Look at those lovely curtains and the mismatched silver and gold door latches — breathtaking.  Classy, people.  Classy.  Anyway…  You can barely tell here but when we bought the house there was carpet in this hallway and all downstairs actually.  We ripped the carpet in the hallway up and installed some really pretty Pergo flooring which classed things up a bit.

Notice the closet doors on the right.  The first closet was very small.  It had shelves in it but was really not a practical space to us.  The second closet [closer to us in the picture] was much bigger.  It had 2 sliding doors and long shelving.  I’m sure some people would love closet space like that but it felt closed-off, cluttered, and impractical for us.  So we demo-ed the closets!  We ripped out everything.  The doors, the wall between the 2 closets, those door frames, all of it– gone, gone, gone!  And it really opened up this space like crazy.  Next step, Tommy got to building a custom mudroom.

The pups chillin by the work-in-progress mudroom.  Here Tommy had the wood all in, including the bench [which he also built].

This was before the bench went in.  He built every piece of this and it could not have been more beautiful.

Shiny, pretty, sparkling white mudroom.  I LOVED this area of the house.  I was so proud of the job Tommy did.  This added such a nice, modern touch to our old home.  Who knows, maybe we’ll add a mudroom in this house one day…

Part 1:  the kitchen

Part 2:  the bedroom/back room