seasonal.

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I don’t transition gracefully—at all.  I’m not one of those easy going, savor every flavor kinda gals.  I find something I like and I squeeze the life out of it until someone or something forces me to move on.  Emotional attachment is my default.  This winter my parents’ changed the knob on their backdoor because their old one broke and I nearly cried.  Like I said, change isn’t my strong suit.  Each time we move, switch cars or cell phone carries it feels like we gave up on something or failed instead of that we’re just shifting gears.  Change doesn’t seem exciting to me at first, at least not typically.  Joe and I have been married almost five years and during that time we’ve made several…course corrections.  Budgets and priorities have been rearranged multiple times.  I’ve started blogging (twice) and closed down a business.  At the time each of those changes felt like a blemish on my record of consistency, dependability, or dedication.  During that time we’ve made some poor financial decisions, like some newly weds do.  We explored our financial freedom straight into debt.  A couple of months ago Josiah and I decided to climb back onto the wagon of financial freedom via Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  Part of that decision was me applying for a part time, seasonal job.  We wanted to tackle our debt head-on and as quickly as possible.  Tonight I was driving home from training when it hit me—seasonal.  Seasonal.  Just like this new job, things in life can be, by design, seasonal.  Whether we intend for them to be or not,whether we like it or not,some things in our lives are good for us only for a season.  Some things aren’t meant to be permanent fixtures for us, even if they are for others.  Sometimes they come back around but not always.  But you know what?  It’s ok.  It doesn’t change the core of who you are if you want/need to make a change.  If a course correction needs to made.   If you flat out change your mind.  It doesn’t make you flaky or uncommitted.  There’s grace there, too because some things I’m ready to leave behind.  This week was tough.  Not bad, just tough.  Joe and I traded shifts from work to kiddos three days this week and we alternated working the other four days.  He added real estate into the mix and the kids and I fought colds.  But like I said, there’s grace in that, too.  We aren’t the first or only people to work extra long days or take extra shifts.  We know that there’s long term gain in short term sacrifice—seasonal sacrifice if you will. 

bullet point journal: our week in a nut shell

 

Saturday:  Rearranged art + pictures in the living room, again.  100th times the charm.

 

Sunday:  Scouted old abandoned houses for potential “forever homes”, eventually.  Called one owner who lives in California and for some crazy reason she thought I was a stalker, may need to reconsider my opening line.

 

Monday:  Tried to canvas the neighborhood with Joe’s door hangers for real estate but after one “NO SOLICITING” sign, three angry dogs, and two popsicle babies we headed home defeated.  Will try again this weekend.

 

Tuesday: Noah accidently peed on Hadley.  She walked in.  Surprised him.  He missed.

 

Wednesday:  The easy installation kit isn’t so easy when your cable cord is severed coming into the house.  Tech guy scheduled for Saturday.

 

Thursday:  Driving to the hospital Noah asked if my new nephew “popped” out of his mommy’s belly.  Me:  “Yep, buddy.”  Then Silence. Noah:  “And Jesus is in our hearts? “  Me: “Yeah.”  Noah:  “Will He pop out?”

 

Friday:  Leaving the hospital we saw a traffic safety driver texting and driving.

secret dreams.

I’m sure everybody has them.  Hidden dreams or talents that get muddled beneath the surface during everyday life.  More times than not, practical has a way of taking over—as it should.  I’ve always wanted to be a designer.  My parents have drawings  of rooms or homes I scribbled in crayon and I even took an interior design course in high school.  Before Pinterest came along I bought design magazines, cut them apart and taped them into a sketch book with notes about each piece.  I’ve always preferred spending extra money on things for our house instead of clothes (which is why I always complain about having nothing to wear, ah well).  Then, when I finally had my own home to design it was overwhelming.  It’s crazy how many options there are out there when you start looking…but home furnishings isn’t really the point.  Lately I’ve started pursuing design again.  I’m going to be honest, our design budget is small.  Really small.  But I’m already amazed what some research and a can of paint can do.  We’ve started revamping our bedroom and gave the exterior of our house a facelift.  I wish I could say I kept the crazy train design to our house (or the house we own) but no dice.  This afternoon during Hadley’s nap Noah and I sat on the couch for quiet time watching George.  The house looked like a small tornado hit (or like we’re moving).  Toys, papers, and dishes are scattered.  Jackets are piled high on the couch.  We started the process of transition beds but for now our poor mattress and boxspring has been downgraded to the floor.  Instead of cleaning like a maniac, like I normally do, I sat down.  Noah’s drawing pad and a dull colored pencil in hand and I started sketching our dream home.  Josiah and I are hoping to buy an old home, eventually, with a little land.  We’ve passed a few abandoned homes lately and my imagination is running wild.  I’ve already designed the exterior and without stepping foot inside, the layout of our dream home.  But abandoned homes isn’t really the point either.  So, tired, overworked mama.  Do something you enjoy.  Cultivate the talents or interests you had before your sweet littles started drawing on the walls or smearing peanut butter on the couch.  It’s not easy, especially with a dirty house staring you in the face.  But the marker and peanut butter will be there when you’re done.  Also, if you need any poorly drawn ideas my colored pencil has a little more life left in it—if I hold it the right way.

casserole: part two

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A second round of thoughts that weren’t long enough for their own post so I’m pretending they’re cohesive.  Enjoy.

 

1)  It’s Monday night which roses and awkward group dates around here.  Anybody else a faithful Bachelor watcher?  Monday nights I’m an extra-excellent mama and lay my kids down a half an hour early so I don’t miss a single dramatic moment.  Yes, we’re one of the last homes around without a DVR.  In fact, we watch The Bachelor and Dateline on a good ol’ fashioned antenna.  We’re fancy.

 

2)  Josiah and I made our first attempt at vlogging this weekend.  My fears were confirmed when we watched all the snippets (about an hour all together) and realized that we’re as awkward as we thought.  To all the vloggers out there, how do you do it?  We let the camera roll and caught everything from sing-a-longs to budget meetings with a few funny moments stringing them together but other than that we’re pretty boring.  Shocker.

 

3)  Lately I’ve carved out time to rekindle my love for design and started rearranging pictures, mirrors and lamps throughout the house.  Mood boards abound and with each addition to my paint sample collection Josiah get’s more and more nervous.  I wish I could say I limit my obsession to our house, but I’ve also started asking my family to describe their dream home in four words and making secret Pinterest boards for them, too.  No need to thank me.  If you know anybody looking for unsolicited design advice, send them my way—chances are I already have a mood board started.

 

4)  Anybody else struggling with mom guilt?  We’re at a really fun age of exploration with both kiddos but unfortunately that also means exploring feelings, hitting, and tantrums.  During the day it feels like a whirlwind and then, when the house is quiet, I sit here beating myself up for being too hard on them, not playing with them enough, the lack of variety in their diets or that their socks never match.  Last week we had a wonderful playdate.  Noah played.  Haddie slept.  And I had honest conversation with a friend.  There really is safety in numbers because after we talked I felt so much better that I’m not the only one on the crazy train (some days driving but who’s counting).

 

5)  My capsule wardrobe is off to a roaring start.  I only have a few pieces so far but I’ve gotten ready for a solid week without a hint of a nervous breakdown!  It’s GLORIOUS!  I wear the same pieces over and over but for me, there’s comfort in knowing I’m getting my monies worth out of more expensive pieces (which for me means $70 jeans).  I have a few tops and a pair of jeans coming from American Eagle and then I’m hoping to do a few pictures to show what I have so far, if I get up the nerve to have pictures taken of me by myself.  I know you’re waiting with bated breath.  American Eagle are my fav-o-rite jeans but for some reason I don’t feel entirely welcome in the store with the kiddos in tow.  I guess some teens don’t like fish crackers and cartoons (or screaming kids)—who’d a thought.

there are two kinds of people.

Earlier this week we were one of those families in Wal-Mart.  Don’t play, you know the kind.  The kind that has the kid screaming bloody murder in the next aisle, check out lane, parking space,you  fill in the blank.  I’ve subconsciously judged those families so many times, even if it’s just for a second before compassion sets in.  Anyway, there we were—me and the kiddos.  It was one of those days when we had to run errands all day. ALL DAY.  Noah and Hadley were tired, hungry, and over it.  Noah wanted to rearrange every last thing in the checkout lane and Haddie was bucking like a bronco in the cart.  I finally told Noey he had to ride which did NOT set well with a curious and mischievous three year old.  Haddie finally decided the world wasn’t going to end if she got to hold the debit card and Noah was content rearranging the buggy.  Then, they even started to smile.  Smiles grew to laughter and I was starting to feel pretty good about my mad momma skills.  That’s when I realized the guy behind us in line was making funny faces at them.  I was grateful for the help and started to get tickled, too.  Finally, the snail of a cashier, bless his soul, finished “beeping” our stuff and gave me the total.  I was still distracted by face man and grabbed the card from Hadley without warning.  My dear, sweet, bundle of giggles transformed into…I don’t even know what.  She let out a blood curdling SCREAM and started kicking and waving her arms in a full on tantrum.  That’s when the cashier in the lane next to us decided to join the fun.  She turned around, eyebrows raised, lips tight and let out a sharp “Oh, my!  Somebody’s not happy.”  The moral of my story is this:  there are two types of people, funny face man and eyebrow lady.  Don’t be eyebrow lady.  It’s easier to be eyebrow lady.  You think your sweet angel would never throw a tantrum over a debit card.  Maybe the temper-tantrum king ruined a dining experience for you.  You have two choices: make it better or worse.  Give an understanding smile or a condescending look.  The choice is yours but from a recipient of both, please, please be funny-face man.  It takes so little and helps so much.  In case you were wondering, wine helps too…but that’s a story for another day.  Winking smile

twenty-six

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Dear Twenty-Six,

To be honest I wasn’t thrilled about meeting you.  Don’t get me wrong, I was very thankful to be meeting you but something about you felt different than your friends.  Eighteen was great.  She offered freedom and responsibility like I’d never encountered and although she was a handful, we became fast friends.  I looked forward to seeing her come and hated to see her go.  Twenty-one was just as wonderful a companion.  She was with me when I said “I do” and embarked on married life.  Then came twenty-five.  She was something of a fair weather friend.  She brought hardship like none of her predecessors had but through thick and thin we learned and grew together.  As the New Year gave way to Valentine’s Day I knew you were just around the corner.  Like I said I was a little hesitant about you.  I always imagined us meeting, even becoming pals, but never what you would be like or the ins and outs of the adventures we would take together like I did with your younger friends.  As you approached all I could think of was that I was on my way to the next big one: thirty.  As it turns out, you aren’t as intimidating as I imagined.  We may have gotten off to a rocky introduction with the chaos that surrounds me some days.  Granted, I’ve known you less than 24 hours, but I can see accomplishing great things together.  I want to set up some goals for us to try to reach, maybe some new destinations to see or a book to read, skills to learn or recipes to try.  We’ll have to play it by ear I suppose.  All I know is that you better be nicer than fourteen (with the braces, the awkwardness, and acne), try to be as loving and adventurous as 21, and don’t even think about pulling some of the stunts twenty-five did—my nerves can’t handle it.

 

Signed,

Your new friend.

giving your gallery wall more umph on the cheap

I’m a little obsessed with gallery walls but to be honest the few times I tried they fell flat.  They were ok, served the purpose, but nothing great.  I started looking on Pinterest for ways to jazz up the wall but didn’t feel like I found anything that really pushed it over the top.  Another obstacle I found was that the pictures I loved (especially the ones courtesy of Joanna Gaines) were a little too expensive for my budget.  Even though I’d love to have a big piece of architecture hanging on the wall, it’s just too expensive to invest in every room (and too dangerous for the kids’ rooms).  After some garage searching I finally came up with some simple and cheap ideas.  The best way to start, in my humble opinion, is to with tried and true basics.  Grab some simple frames and pictures to start off.  Shake it up by using a variety of widths and colors, with and without mats.  Next, choose one or two large pieces to work around.  I usually put the biggest piece up first, slightly off center so I can build from there. After that you’re ready to add variety.

 

1) Greeting Cards.

When I was planning Haddie’s nursery I found several prints I loved from Rifle Paper Co.  Even though they aren’t expensive ($24 for an 8×10) I didn’t want to use up too much of the budget on art when there are millions of things a baby needs!  (Ok, maybe not a million but a lot).  My second problem was that they had so many cute prints I had trouble narrowing it down.  I finally decided on this bobby pin print for the 8×10 but I still had wall space to fill.  That’s when I decided to check out their greeting cards.  They’re $4.50 each which is more than I typically spend on just a card  (I know, I’m a cheapskate but I’d rather spend the cash on a gift.)  Anyway, I decided to get six cards which was just slightly more expensive than another print but gave way more variety.  I got floating frames from Target for around $3/each and voila!

 

2)  Plates.

 

I’m sure you’ve seen plates hanging in kitchens or dining rooms but have you considered adding one or two to your gallery wall?  I don’t use plates in large groupings but I love the idea of one of two thrown in here or there.  It adds a some depth and texture that you don’t get from prints plus they’re fairly cheap to buy.  I opted for one of my great-grandmother’s rose plates because it’s a family heirloom.  If you don’t have one handy you can usually find antique plates at a Flea Mall or Goodwill.  The Pioneer Woman’s collection at Wal-Mart is also a great place to check or pattern and color.

 

3)  Washi Tape.

I’ve loved washi tape since the moment I laid my eyes on it but I had trouble finding a practical use for it.  Wrapping presents with it is a good idea in theory but I’m a wrap-it-on-the-way-in-a-newly-purchased-bag kind of gal, despite my best intentions.  I had an advertisement from a 1960s magazine I wanted to hang in Hadley’s room and didn’t want them to feel rigid (if that makes sense).  I wanted it to feel less like a traditional gallery wall and more like an idea board.  I was rummaging around in the garage and found some blue striped washi tape and decided to tape it to the wall instead.  It’s one of my favorite parts of her gallery wall.  Bonus, it adds some extra color and pattern!

 

4)  Letters.

Letters are a well loved and well used staple of a gallery wall.  There’s something special about buying a letter for your baby’s nursery when you’re pregnant.  Noah has a blue “N” from an old sign on his wall we bought while I was pregnant.  I wanted something a little different with Hadley (just so they weren’t completely the same).  When we lived in an apartment I glued a “K” to the glass of a funky frame and used decorative paper behind it to celebrate seasons.  I used the same idea for Hadley’s room.  I bought a cardboard “H” from Michael’s, painted it a delightfully tacky gold and put some funk paper behind it.  Quick, cheap, and I can change it up easily with a new piece of scrapbook paper.

 

5)  Scrapbook Paper.

Speaking of scrapbook paper…did you know it’s also a cheap way to decorate?  I know I’m super original but bare with me.  I’ve made many a pennant with scrapbook paper for birthday parties (and to hang over the kiddo’s kitchen in the living room).  I had some gaps to fill in Noah’s gallery wall and  I already had prints, signs and a letter.  I needed something simple but different.  I printed off a  profile picture of Noah from Facebook (horrible quality but that’s ok), cut it out and traced it onto scrapbook paper.  While I was at it I traced Kentucky onto another kind of scrapbook paper and framed them both.  Done.  Two unique pictures from less than $2 (because I already had the frames).  Any guesses on how old Noah was when that pictures was taken?   It’s from our 20 week ultrasound, the day we found out he was a he.

 

I hope these help you add variety to your gallery wall!  Got other ideas?  Send them my way!  I’m working on my next gallery wall as we speak.  I love them too much to quit.

it’s time to play, beat the clock.

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I’ve mentioned before that my kids are early risers.  They take turns being the earliest bird (6 or before) but one of them usually has me half conscious half an hour of more before my alarm clock is due to go off.  Most people would probably be happy to sleep until 6 or 6:30 but for this night owl, it’s hard to break old habits.  I try forcing myself to sleep but often to no avail.  I’ve read so many mom tips about beating your kids awake so that you have a few minutes of solitude but that’s a race I haven’t won often (twice, actually).  I don’t know if it’s just me but when the kids are awake it’s like our family’s version of beat the clock.  We’ve tried to teach independent play but somehow the lesson fell on deaf ears.  Sometimes (ok, a lot) I’ll tell the kids I’m going to check the laundry only to be distracted by the phone ringing or Dexter needing to go outside.  When they “catch me” off task I feel myself start to give excuses, to a three year old.  I mean honestly, who does that?  Me, apparently.  I had always heard jokes about not going to the bathroom alone when you’re a mom but I didn’t know how true it was but it’s not just about the bathroom.  Pouring a drink, putting clothes away, and washing dishes suddenly become the most fascinating thing in the world with my crew when faced with the grim possibility of alone time.  Please don’t misunderstand, I love including my kiddos whenever and wherever I can but as far as “idle tasks” plain and simple, they ain’t having it.  Unapproved pastimes include reading a book, an article or blog post, making multiple phone calls and sitting for an extended period to eat.  I’m learning though that small things grow into bigger ones.  Pages become chapters, and chapter books.  So each page I read during the day I’m considering an accomplishment and slowly but surely we’re incorporating independent play into our days….heavy on the slowly.

master bedroom: inspiration

Furniture, curtains, and rugs ebb and flow through our house as my style evolves.  Most rooms in our house are painted in shades of greyiege (with the exception of Haddie’s room, the laundry room and the master bathroom) for that very purpose.  It’s easier to transition items from room to room when there is a common “theme” or color palette.  Anyway, late last summer I gave some of the rooms in our house a face lift and stalled out as winter (aka.  two December birthdays and Christmas) hit.  I got closer to the style I ultimately want but we aren’t quite there.  In a dream world the process be like the shows I drool over on TV.  Over a series of weeks or months your house would be designed and there would be one big reveal.  But there are a couple big problems with that.  Anytime I have overhauled a room I ultimately end up changing something anyway and feel I wasted money when I replace something I thought was perfect at the time.  Secondly, budget doesn’t really allow for entire room redos no matter how DIY or budget friendly.  I started looking for inspiration rooms (which is where I always start) to give myself some guidance on what to buy when the time was right.  I don’t usually go for labels but I would describe my style as Mid-Century Modern (but with softer edges).  The inspiration pictures are very similar which I prefer to think of as comforting instead of boring because it reaffirms that I like what I like.  Anywho, the common denominator in my dream rooms are light + airy, layered bedding, chunky area rug, and a tufted headboard.  For a while I batted around the idea of an iron bed but it doesn’t resolve the problem with our current sleigh bed.  Problem being, that my dear, sweet husband is a giant (6’7”) and the footboard means he was to sleep northeast to southwest in our bed leaving me a meager 1/4 of our bed—thanks but no thanks.  I would also love to recover the gorgeous wing-back chair I bought at a yard sale several years ago.  I found fabric by the yard that I’m in love with but it’s a splurge and my penny pinching brain can’t stand to fork over the dough—yet.  Rounding out the DIY list is to refinish our nightstands and newly acquired wooden dresser.  Slowly but surely I’m hoping to tackle these to-dos over the next month or so but we shall see.   Following the design craziness on Pinterest? (links and image credit can be found via Pinterest)

when your party isn’t pinterest worthy

We are now a family with a three-year-old and a one-year-old, both with December birthdays.  The past six weeks have been a whirlwind—a marathon rather than a sprint.  Thanksgiving to New Years offers 5 major events/holidays/birthdays in our family.  It’s as festive as it is exhausting.

The beginning of January we wrapped up the season with Hadley’s first birthday party.  I knew I wanted the whole thing to be utterly girly but I hadn’t had much time to plan with all the other festivities.  The night before the party Josiah and I went out to shop and grab the party supplies we needed.  After rummaging around for 10 minutes I was one wrong color away from a royal hissy fit.  It was shameful.  What Wal-Mart had to offer in way of paper plates just didn’t suit me.  They were too bold, too themed, too tacky…you get the idea.  I was underwhelmed with the selection and all the Pinterest worthy parties were swirling through my head.  I finally decided to get my act together and chose some decorations that I thought would work.  We headed home with a delightfully tacky assortment of pastels, gold, and glitter glue (my 7th grade self would have been proud).  I saved a string of blue cirlces from Noah’s party that I wanted to recover with scrapbook paper and glitter so I set to work with my DIY project while Joe wrapped her presents in leftover Christmas paper, I wish I was kidding.  Thankfully it was red herringbone and to the untrained eye it couldn’t be associated with Christmas.  Hopefully.  We finished our projects and headed to bed, the house a hot mess.  Toys, homemade confetti (proof that Noah’s big boy scissors are being put to good use), dirty dishes, Cheetos smeared on the couch, you name it.  I woke up in something of a frenzy, worried about how I would manage to get it all done before 4o’clock.  Josiah, being the hero he is (no joke), played with the kiddos while I started preparations.   I’m ashamed to say that after Noah’s party I acted a sight.  I won’t go into details, because frankly they aren’t important.  What is important is that I chose to focus on what wasn’t instead of what was.  I chose to see all the imperfections that come with a little kid’s party.  The distractions, the chaos, and it passing so quickly.  I chose to focus on how imperfect my homemade cake was instead of the fact that Noah and I made it together.  As I was getting ready for Hadley’s party I could feel the tug on my heart.  God’s sweet reminder not to get caught up in perfect but to enjoy the fellowship. The reminder that 20 people were taking time to come to our home to celebrate another birthday with us.  That they would spend their money to buy presents to make them feel special.  Stand around a table singing happy birthday and watching them blow out the candles to kick off a new year of adventure.

(Unfinished but more icing didn’t really improve it)

I’m not going to pretend I heeded to the truth instantly or that I didn’t make excuses for my very homemade cake when people arrived.  I finished cleaning my house and enjoyed some time alone preparing.  When the party started my house wasn’t spotless and the cake sat there in all its lopsided glory.  We served hot and ready pizza and 2-liters instead of a fancy spread of food.  The circle banner I spent time recovering flipped (only halfway) to the blue side and Haddie refused to wear a party hat.  I’m not gonna say I wasn’t shooting for Pinterest worthy or that I was thrilled to be the newest addition to the collection of Pinterest fails but for 3 glorious hours family and friends gathered to celebrate our girl—and that was enough.