Home is Where the Art is.....

Welcome to our home!  Most days, this is where you can find me!  Hubby and I live here in the house I have been dreaming of for years, but started to think I would never find!  It's a cozy little magical home, that has inspired me from the day we moved in!  We share it with three cats, Newman, Jake and Bella, our wonder-dogs Betsy and Max and the revolving door of racoons, stray cats, chipmunks, squirrels and the occassional coyote that wanders through.  I am lucky enough to live just two miles from the hustle and bustle of downtown Naperville, yet our house sits next to a wonderful old family farm (nothing better than walking next store for fresh produce) and we are blessed to be surrounded by almost 2 acres of property.  It's a simple home but I carried a vision of it around in my head for years and years, and if you had told me that I would ever actually find it, I would never have believed you! 

This is the guy that stole my heart 14 years ago and thankfully he still has it gently protected under lock and key.  Gary is unconditionally the best part of my world....a true benefit-of-the-doubt kind of guy (I tend to lean a bit towards cynical) with a heart, hug and imagination almost as big as his beautiful blue eyes.  We have a little more than a 16 year age difference between us, so you can only imagine what my parents must have been thinking when I showed up one day and said, "hey parents, great news....I met this man...this wonderful man that I am pretty certain I am going to marry....and he has three kids....oh, and he is 16 years...almost 17 years older than me!"  But....just like everybody else who meets Gary, my parents fell in love with him and soon realized that I was a better me for having met him.  Gary is my rock, he is my confidence when I need it most, he is my voice of reason, my best friend, the guy I laugh with, cry with, and unconditionally get to be myself with...he is the peanut butter to my jelly!! 
I am lucky to be his wife for almost 11 years!

These are my s-kids....we don't say step kids in my house because it has such a yuck stigma attached to it.  My relationship with Gary's kids could have gone one of two ways....they could have been monsters and completely freaked out that not only did dad get re-married, but the age difference between the oldest and myself is only 8 years.  HOWEVER....I have to tell you that I am blessed.  I met these kids, (Jeffrey on the left, Kim to his right, Me, and then Gregg at the end) when Jeffrey was 8, Kim was 16, and Gregg was 22....and somehow, we made it work.  I love them for their individuality, for their minds, their hearts, and for finding a place for me in their world!  The step parent thing is not always easy because I don't have kids of my own and so there are days when I want to keep them all to myself and forget they have a REAL mom....but when all is said and done, we find a balance. Somewhere between s-parent and friend, you will find me...and if love is always right there in the middle of it, then what more can I ask?

On one particularly fabulous day, in addition to the network I created called Tell A Girlfriend Network (www.tellagirlfriendnetwork.com) we decided it would be fun to turn our garage into a store, and so we did! Hey, we're lucky enough to be right next to a farm that lends itself to us being zoned for commercial or residential use, so why not save a few dollars on the overhead it takes to rent store space (been there done that) and keep it right here at home? Friends and family still think we're nuts and maybe we are, but if you ask me, home is where the ART is and so The Ruby Slippers Company Store was born!  Packed with the work of several different local artists, antiques, vintage items, upcycled items and some of my own work it has become a gathering place for the most unique and wonderful people!  www.therubyslipperscompany.com

Back when I was in my twenties I believed that living in some big fancy house, with a shiny new car and trendy clothes would let the world know I was successful, and with that version of success would come happiness.  Now in my forties, I wake up every morning in an adorable little home next to a man who loves me unconditionally, a house full of fur-babies, a farmer as my next door neighbor, and a black tank top and trousers covered in paint as my uniform of choice, and I am truly happy.  My life today is nothing like what I imagined it would be...there are struggles and challenges lurking in the most unexpected places, there are home maintenence issues, college payments, car payments, creative blocks, road blocks, and new grey hairs showing up daily.  But to be honest with you, right where I am is exactly where I want to be,  and though I hope to constantly be evolving into a better and wiser version of myself, if I had to do it all over again,  I wouldn't change one single thing!