Compelled to Breathe

(Yes, some pictures are sideways. No, I can’t figure out how to fix it. I have tried all week and lost interest. Just tilt your head sideways and voila!…)

Grieving with three young kids is tough. I have all these emotions and thoughts, but I don’t have the time or opportunity to process them. My kids are still so young at 5, 4, and 2, so demanding is an understatement. In some ways it has been a blessing because it has forced me to grieve slowly and in pieces. I simply have no option to hide away in my bedroom, draw the shades, blast me some sad music and cry the day away. I want to sometimes, but it isn’t an option. I have to be there for my kids. School dropoff and pickup, swim class, cleaning, counseling, bills, making meals and packing lunches. My life can’t stop.

The day after Marcus passed, a wonderful woman told me that Marcus would show himself everywhere. At first I brushed it off because that seems weird, right? I was so wrong. God was EVERYWHERE. One day I will share an actual list because it was so incredible, and it gave me a reason to smile when the pain was so intense and physical.

So let me tell you a story, and it has a lot of context so bear with me. A few days after Marcus passed, a friend asked if I wanted to go see For King and Country. A client had given her tickets months ago, not realizing the significance of the band for us. So for those who don’t know, that band has been a household staple for our family. My kids can sing every word to Joy, and we even played it at Marcus’ funeral. So YES, of course I want to go! But the concert was in Florida, and we live in New Hampshire. Womp womp. My sister whips out her phone, checks her airline miles, and guess who had enough miles to fly her and I to Florida for FREE?! (Well, not free, she had to pay a $22 transaction fee… also Marcus’ number, but that is part of the whole God-showing-us story!).

Fast forward six weeks after Marcus passed and my sister, her husband, and I (and Scarlett, a last minute addition!) were on an airplane for a basically free trip to the sunshine. We were headed towards the much anticipated “Jesus week,” as I would call it. We were able to stay with Marcus’ best friend and his family and spend a few days just relaxing and enjoying the sun and a break from the schedules. I knew I needed it, but I didn’t know how much! I spent hours reading, praying, pouring over our Job Bible study, and just reflecting. It was so healing. And I am so glad it worked out for Scarlett to come to because girlfriend needed a vacation too! God figured it all out so we had no excuses NOT to go.

The band was playing at Strawberry Festival in Lakeland, which coincidentally was one of Marcus and my first dates back in college. And, we had done this same trip exactly three years ago, which was so random but probably not! I am learning that nothing is really a coincidence. It was absolutely incredible. We were up front and center and I spent most of the concert sobbing while worshiping. It was just so surreal to hear these songs that had become so important to our family come to life, and their performance was amazing!

My sister and I had bought tickets for the Lauren Daigle concert in Boston forever ago, and it all worked out so we landed back in Boston Saturday afternoon, enjoyed walking and eating with some friends in the city, and experience another night of worship. God is just so good.

I am just so thankful. Life is still really hard. When I get overwhelmed and stuck in the sad, God has been so faithful to give me little hugs like this. Well, this wasn’t a little hug…this was one giant embrace! My life is so different than before. I have so many new perspectives, priorities, and worries than I ever did. But God is there and He has been, and I am confident He will continue to be. I am so glad that I was basically forced to make room and to get away. I was compelled to actually breathe, let it all sink in, have a few more teary sob fests with friends, and remember the amazing man my husband was.

This is not the end of my story, it is part of it. I can’t wait to see what the next chapter holds.

Also, I should note, there were quite a few parts of this trip that were way more emotional than I realized they would be. I was looking forward to the vacation, and didn’t realize how hard it would be to be in an airport without him. We always traveled together. We traveled so much these past couple years! Also we landed in Tampa, which is where we first met and began our life together. I am giving myself grace and permission to feel these emotions. They come out of nowhere, completely unexpected. But it is ok. None of this was expected. I am grieving and will always be in some way. So I hereby give you permission to acknowledge whatever it is you are going through and respect it. Life is hard, it throws you some curveballs, and we need to adapt and understand what we are feeling. Give each other grace and room to have emotions. Emotions are not a weakness.

Here are a few moments from our trip I want to remember…


On our way to the airport! Scarlett’s first Uber. (She is in a booster! Check out this super cool one my friend let me borrow that can fit in your PURSE. Seriously.
Working diligently on writing her own luggage tag
We found our airplane!
So excited!
Bye winter!
Six mile run to appreciate the fact that my face doesn’t hurt when I run!
Drinking in the vitamin D
The whole group! Adam, Kelsey, Daynet, me, Eric, and Scarlett.
My beauty.
For King and Country!
You can tell how Scarlett felt about the evening… she will appreciate it one day!
Putting on a brave face in spite of how tired she was!
The next day at the Strawberry Festival. SUNSHINE.
Officially wiped out.
Delirious at the airport. She was so exhausted, but I saw my precious girl sparkle again. Worth it.
Flight back home!
I highly recommend this book. Lysa is a gifted writer and has such a painful past, and she still clings to God and draws others to Him! What an inspiration.
Quick change in the airport family bathroom before my aunt picked up Scarlett and our luggage so Kelsey and I could explore Boston with friends! Sometimes you just have to make it work ūüėÜ
Met up with some babes to explore the city!
Jess and Kelsey at the Lauren Daigle concert
It’s blurry, but Lauren Daigle was awesome. Such powerful words and incredible voice!
We drove back the next morning in a white out snowstorm! And then got stuck in my driveway. It was worse than it looks, ok?! You can‚Äôt tell the angle from here… but my driveway is a bit… challenging. And I was sliding down and couldn’t back out. I am thankful for awesome neighbors to rescue me! Welcome back to the north!

There are more people than I could even list that made this trip possible and I want to thank. My mom and dad for watching the kids. Kelsey and Adam for the flights. Eric and Daynet for the lodging. My aunt Kristen for help with parking and watching Scarlett. And so many more people who made the trip even possible! So thank you. Thank you for giving me time and space away so I could breathe and take it all in and truly process it all. I am so thankful for the many amazing people in my life!

One Month

It has been one month since my husband passed away. A sudden shock and blow to our family, completely turning our lives upside down. He was our rock, the captain who steered this ship, and now he is gone. We are still in shock and baffled at how we can continue on and pretend life is any semblance of normal.

Everything I have written on this blog prior to this point seems absolutely trivial. Fashion, motherhood, gift round ups, all things that in the light of my husband’s death, so small.

In light of all that, I cancelled my blog host early this week. How can I even justify paying money to write about something that was seemingly insignificant. But then God put it on my heart to write. Nothing like I have ever written or even had the boldness to share online. When someone walks through a tragedy, you have options. I can choose to wallow and turn myself into a recluse and bask in my pain. OR I can praise the One who created this universe and delight in His goodness, because, hear me, HE IS STILL GOOD. Sometimes it is like an out of body experience, saying these words. But they are coming from my soul, because my conscious mind still doesn’t quite understand it. How can God be good and I am sitting over here doubled over in emotional agony?

I don’t think I will ever understand it fully.

What I am thankful for are those who have traveled this path, or similar ones before me.

Job 2:10 says ‚Äú‚Ķshall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?‚ÄĚ

How can I live a life and expect no sadness? No pain or anguish? God didn’t devise this horrible plan to rip the love of my life away from me, just so I can relish in this twisted pain. BUT. But God. God ALLOWS these situations so I can draw near to Him. He allowed my husband to be taken from me at the age of 32, leaving me as a 29 year old widow with three kids, five and under. He allowed this pain in our lives so we can be helpless and lean on HIM for help.

Life isn’t fair.

But my God is good. He is faithful and has sustained us thus far. And when I don’t understand or get overwhelmed, I can lean on Him. This is too intense and painful to go on, but He is there and will sustain us.

The death of my husband has strengthened my faith. I would never have wished this reality on myself or my children, but watching God’s hand move in our lives has been nothing short of spectacular. So I choose to worship. I choose joy. I choose to praise and magnify the creator of this universe, while I am still aching and confused, because HE IS GOOD.

Unicorn Birthday Party & Woodsy Photo Shoot

I can hardly believe I have a five year old. You know when you have your first baby and everyone and their mother (and the person behind you in the checkout line) tells you how fast time goes? I feel it. This year more than ever I am realizing just how quickly this phase of life is passing by. I mean, just yesterday I was holding this adorable, squishy new baby and had no idea what I was doing. Now, here I am, five years later, still no idea what I am doing, but now I am surrounded by three kids who are fairly independent. The days are long but the years are short: no truer words have been said!

Total tangent, I know. Last month we celebrated my first born’s fifth birthday with a girly unicorn beauty party. Scarlett has been obsessed with horses basically since she was born, but it has morphed into a love of unicorns in the past year and a half (because what could be better than horses than a horse with glitter and a horn and magic?). My mom is pretty much the coolest Mimi around and was able to CATCH AN ACTUAL UNICORN. Scarlett was completely convinced that she had caught a real unicorn for her party even though she has spent so much time around my mom’s barn and knows the horses… And to top it off, Mimi caught the SAME ONE for a photo shoot a couple days later! (Scroll past the party pics to see the photo shoot pictures). Amazing!… I will hold onto the childlike innocence as long as I can…

We kept her party to girls only and had a fun nail painting station when they first came in.

Now onto the photo shoot pictures… this girl’s year was made!

Special thanks to my mom for the Unicorn (a.k.a. LM Idols Remington Hawk or Remi) and Bekah Scadding for the gorgeous pictures! You can check out more of my mom’s horse farm here and business here.

Mom Hack: Easy & Inexpensive Teeth Whitening

Scroll to the bottom for a giveaway and outfit details

Some things go hand in hand. For example, motherhood=¬†coffee + wine. But you know what else that means?¬†Stained teeth¬†and low confidence in my smile.¬†And I don’t think I am the only one! I’ll admit that the secret to success for my¬†early morning wakeups¬†is a freshly brewed cup of coffee (I sing the praises of my¬†grind-and-brew¬†daily!). But the stains on my teeth are an unfortunate side effect I don’t love. I have used¬†other whitening products¬†for years with some success, but often with a loooot of pain (sensitive teeth¬†over here!) and never quite eradicating the stains between my teeth. When Smile Brilliant¬†reached out to me I could hardly contain myself!

Using¬†Smile Brilliant¬†was so easy to fit into my lifestyle. I would pop in the¬†custom whitening trays¬†after dinner as my husband took the kids upstairs and start getting ready for bed. I would pick up the house a bit and then meet up for bedtime kisses. Simply leaving the trays in my mouth for a couple hours would five me perfectly¬†white teeth¬†without any hassle. I would apply the¬†desensitizing gel¬†about 15 minutes before bed, and that’s it! No pain, so easy, and¬†instantly white teeth. Talk about a perfect match.

So let me explain what this product is: it is a¬†CUSTOM teeth whitening tray¬†that you can reuse, as well as a desensitizing gel if you suffer from sensitive teeth like I do. Not only is their product proven to¬†whiten your teeth faster than at the dentist office, but it costs nearly 70% less! We are talking over $500 at the office versus this¬†at-home system¬†for under $149. They are also vegan and cruelty free which is a huge plus. If you know me than you know I am not one to advocate for a product that I wouldn’t use myself, and this is no exception. When I whitened my teeth the first time with this product, I saw immediate results! I am now three treatments in and my teeth have never looked better. I may have happy-texted my sisters and got them on board right away.

You can see my before and after pictures here:

¬†I feel so much more confident in my smile now! And you can too… Smile Brilliant has offered to give away a $149 credit, the same amount as the custom T3 Sensitive System!

GIVEAWAY & COUPON DETAILS:

The giveaway is for a $149 Smile Brilliant credit. Giveaway will end on 4/27/18 and is open to USA, UK, Australia and Canadian residents.

Giveaway link: www.smilebrilliant.com/g/nicolewarnerblog

Don’t want to wait? Get 15% off with coupon code nicolewarnerblog15

Outfit details:

Leggings / Twist Front Tee / Necklace / Sneakers 

Affiliate links used. Thanks for supporting my blog!

 


Tooth Whitening Gel

Kitchen Refresh – A Little Elbow Grease for My Dream White Kitchen

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a white kitchen. As cliche as it is, I love anything light and bright! Our home was built in 2000 (or somewhere around there) and from what I can tell, it still has the original kitchen. There was nothing wrong with it. The flow is great, there are lots of cabinets, it is just… brown. I don’t have anything against a natural wood kitchen. Our hardwoods run into the kitchen, so we had one giant brown room. Plus, if I am just being honest, it isn’t my style. We get a lot of light in our house, but it still seemed dark in here! Being a stay at home mom, I spend 90% of my day in the kitchen. To pay someone to refinish the cabinets would have been expensive. And while we are in the process of updating our home, it wasn’t in the cards for last summer. I am not one to sit back and wait, so…. I did it. I refinished the cabinets myself. So before I show you the finished product, here are a few before pictures for context!

Before

I was able to find these pictures from the original listing of our home of the kitchen in all if its woodgrain glory (because you know me by now and I forget to take decent before pictures):

(Previous owner/renter’s furniture)

So see what I mean? Lots of brown. Wood. Boring. Great layout, lots of space. But lots of room for improvement! So I did what I’ll call phase one of the kitchen renovation. While we have no plans of doing a new kitchen in this house, there are other things I have planned for it to make it even more special! Alright then… who is ready for some after pictures?!

After

And here is a before and after because it is just that good!

Let’s Talk About It

So, let’s talk about it for a minute. Or I will wait until you pick your jaw up off the floor… dramatic transformation, right?! So if you’ve followed along on my instagram, you know I refinished the cabinets back in July. Or maybe it was August. Either way, it was a very long time ago! I knew I wanted to do it correctly from the start, so it took an incredible amount of time. And I wanted to live in it for a while to give you a good review of how we liked it and how they wore. And also because sometimes these things take forever to plan ahead… But I digress.

Finishing the cabinets was a huge undertaking. Basically it was the only thing I did for three solid weeks. Thank you, warm weather and outside play for the kids!

Here are a few tutorials that I used. I read a million, but these methods were closest to what I did:

Young House Love 

Home Talk

If I were to go back in time, I would rent a paint sprayer. And use my power sander. For some reason I forgot they existed and I hand sanded each cabinet, front and back and between layers, AND I OWN A POWER SANDER. I’ll blame it on the mom brain thing… If I had used both those machines, this whole project would have been so much faster! Take my advice and don’t do it by hand. The finish will be nicer and it will take way less time.

Am I happy I did it? You bet!¬† I haven’t regretted it one bit. Even Marcus is glad I did it. While he doesn’t always understand my ideas and projects, he understood this one 100% after it was done. So, thank you honey for trusting me and letting me do crazy things!

Cost & Materials

The total cost for the project was around $200. That includes a gallon of primer, two gallons of paint, and about a half gallon for the island. Such a big impact and hardly any cost compared to installing a new kitchen!

Here’s what I used for the project. Don’t skimp on materials! You’ll save your hands and time. Promise.

Brush

Mini Roller

Foam Roller

Paint tray

Handy Paint Cup (oh my goodness buy these!!)

Paint Key

Behr Alkyd Enamel Paint (Link is for semi-gloss, I got Swiss Coffee in satin)

Zinsser Oil Based Primer 

Hand Sander 

Sanding Paper

I also changed out the knobs on the drawers for pulls. I feel like it is more substantial and looks nicer on a drawer!

So how has it worn? Well. I am not a professional, and neither was the process refinishing. And I have three kids four and under. The kitchen takes a beating! Little nicks are easy to touch up with some paint and a little brush. It is quick and worth it to me! How well does a white kitchen stay clean? I would say that white cabinets are no dirtier than any other color, you can just see the mess/dirt a little more. I don’t even mind it because I would rather clean something than have dirt hide! (I’m looking at you, carpet!).

Also, as a side note, I will admit that decor-wise, it is super pared down right now. But that is also the time of year, post Christmas decoration overload, and post January get-all-the-things-out-of-the-house.

Future Plans:

If you are interested, here are my future plans for my glorious and beautiful white kitchen:

Paint walls

Install new backsplash

Remove cabinets to the left of the sink and add open shelving

Remove cabinets to the right of the refrigerator and add open shelving

Add pendant lights above island

Replace pendant above sink & over eat-in table

Replace blinds with fun pattern?

Built cabinets up to the ceiling

New appliances

(and ultimately) Refinish floors

Add chunkier baseboard & crown molding

A girl can dream, right?


Outfit details here:


Also, if you were wondering if I feelcomfortable in front of the camera and rationalize by being awkward and doing weird things, here’s your confirmation:

Do you have any questions about refinishing your cabinets? Any reservations? Please ask below! I would love to help you out and give you the confidence you need to do it.

Also a special thank you to Ashleigh of Ashleigh Laureen Photography for these amazing pictures! Check out her site and say hi (tell her I sent you!). She is beyond talented! She is also so nice and super sweet. We chatted for nearly 45 minutes before we even got to shooting!

Affiliate links used. Thanks for supporting my blog!