Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Coming Soon

 So that mirror tutorial I promised you is on the way. I promise.  The mirror is framed and I'm just editing pictures and getting a post ready.  We ran into a few bumps along the way.  First off, three of my four boys came down with strep throat, followed by a nasty cold that hung around for two weeks. Projects tend to get put on hold when I've got a house full of sickies! When things settled down, and we pulled everything back out to work on it, my four year old accidentally knocked paint off of a table and it spilled all over our carpet.  I spent three hours cleaning it with my Bissell Green Machine. The good news is that by the time I was done, my carpet actually looked cleaner in that spot than before the paint spill!

I've also been busy over here working on a few other projects.  Over the next month, I hope to share with you some of the items I am making for Christmas.  We are going for more of a homemade Christmas this year.  Over the years, I have noticed that the things the kids keep the longest, are the items that are homemade. Toys come and go, and our basement is overflowing with them. By the time May rolls around half of them are buried in the toy box and forgotten. I am hoping that by making some of our presents, I can cut down on wasteful spending, and give my children a gift that means something to them.

Speaking of Christmas, we had family pictures taken for our Christmas cards over Thanksgiving.  It was a quick 15 minute photo shoot in 30 degree weather.  One of my good friends from high school was sweet enough to take them for us. I'm having a hard time deciding which one to use.  All of them have some little quirk about them...

Husband is smirking.

Boy 3 looks super grouchy. That's because he was.

Baby isn't looking at the camera.

I suppose I should get those Christmas cards ordered sometime soon.  After all, the tree is already up and our Elf of the Shelf has come to make mischief for the next few weeks. He's already made a mess of our ornament box and eaten all of our frosting.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Give Thanks By Giving Back

I've been pondering a lot this Thanksgiving season on what I can do to show my thanks. This morning it seems like I have found some clarity in purpose, so I hope you, my readers, can bear with me while a share a story with you about our life.

A few years ago, after the birth of our third son, I went through a really low point in my life.  Looking back, I can see that it was a reaction to, what was for me, a highly stressful few years.  I had just come off finishing my Student Teaching and trying to juggle all of the demands of preparing lessons, after school activities, being pregnant, and chasing a toddler around. Then we had our second son.

Shortly after he was born, we experienced a month of unemployment, followed by a job transfer to a different state.  I soon found myself 300 miles from home with a new baby, a toddler, and not many friends. About six months after our move, we decided that we were going to build a house.  Within weeks of signing our papers to build, I found out that I was very unexpectedly pregnant again.

 We soon moved into our new house and a few months later our third son arrived (two weeks early!).

We were very happy to meet our new little guy and had a wonderful Christmas season, enjoying our precious baby.  Then January came, and so did all of the medical bills.  Normally it would have been something we could have handled and paid down quickly, but we were still paying on our second son's birth and our savings had been depleted from unemployment and moving twice within a year. Also, I began feeling the stress of having two babies so close together.  I started having panic attacks when my husband would leave for work.  I began crying all of the time. I was far from home and felt like I had nobody.  No one called to see if I was okay.  No one came to visit and help out.  I felt absolutely alone.  Only my husband and mother knew how badly I was struggling.  I remember getting up one morning, on a payday, and doing our budget.  After paying all of our bills we had nothing left over.  No money for food, diapers, or gas. I felt totally wiped out.  Then a few weeks later, our 9 week old baby caught RSV.  After three days of driving him to the hospital every 3 hours for a Bronchiolitis clinic, we were rushed to a local children's hospital, where my son stopped breathing in the ER.

We spent four grueling days in the hospital. One night my husband came to stay at the hospital with me and looked especially frazzled.  He soon informed me our truck had been hit in the parking garage.  We laid together on the little fold out bed in our son's room, held each other, and just cried. We were very blessed and had family and friends rally around us. For the first time in quite awhile, I started to realize that others did care about what was going on in our lives. I'd love to tell you that things soon got easier, but it took a full year before I started to actually feel normal again.

In sharing this story, I hope to let you know that one of the most important things you can do is to seek out someone who may need your help.  I know it would have meant so much to me, to have had an extra person to share my feelings with or who would have volunteered to help me out.  But, I also think its just as important to ask for help.  I know for some of us it is really hard to break down those walls of pride and ask someone to help. I am sure if I would have humbled myself and said something, I could have had more help. So this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, I challenge you (and myself) to seek out somebody who may need encouragement or help in any way. Rekindle an old friendship, forgive those who've hurt you, spend time with your short, just give of yourself. I feel that one of the greatest ways to show your gratitude, is to pass a kind deed onto others, and in the end everyone benefits from it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Boys' Bathroom Redo

We built our little starter home about three years ago.  When we were at the design center picking out our interior, we opted to keep our walls white. For the price they wanted to paint my whole house one color, I knew I could buy my own paint and customize it how I wanted to for a whole lot cheaper.

 When I first painted the boys' bathroom, I used the left over paint from an accent wall that I had done in my kitchen...a lighter brown color that was trending at the time.  It was one of those, "Hey I have some extra paint so I'm gonna stay up late one night and paint the bathroom" kind of things. I do things like that and thank heavens I have a patient husband who puts up with it! Once the paint was on the walls of my bathroom, I knew it was a mistake.  It made the room look dark and small.  I hated going in there.  I knew it was only going to be a matter of time before I repainted it. The brown paint lasted about 18 months until I finally found an excuse a few months ago to get rid of it.

 It all started when the night light burned out in my older boys' room. Carson (my oldest) woke up terrified of the dark, and did what any resourceful little boy would do: went into the bathroom, grabbed the Scentsy plug-in warmer (which was turned on and full of hot wax) and took it to his room and plugged it in. I had no idea what he'd done until the next morning when Jonas (my second oldest) came running out of the bathroom yelling, "Mom! Carson got blood all over the bathroom!" Terrified, I ran in to see red wax all over (and was very thankful that it wasn't really blood!). The wax came off of everything easily, except for the paint. It just kept peeling up no matter what I did. Even running a blow dryer on the wax to re-melt it didn't work.

I didn't have any brown paint left over to touch it up. I know that a little bit of peeling paint probably wouldn't bug some of you, but I couldn't let it rest. And to be honest, it was time for the brown paint to go. So, because I am a "ready, shoot, aim" kind of person (as my husband so kindly tells me) I went down stairs, grabbed some aqua paint samples (that I had left over from doing the nursery), and painted streaks all over the bathroom.

Then I went to Home Depot (with all four kids in tow) and broke one of my own painting rules: I grabbed a paint sample card and went with it. I didn't like any of the shades of aqua I had tried and just wanted to get the painting done (because, you know, it had already been three days and I have the patience of a two year old when it comes to projects like this). I got lucky and picked a color that I love, love, love (Almost Aqua by Glidden)! These pictures do NOT do it justice. It is gorgeous.

As you can tell, new paint meant a new shower curtain and a new shelf for the towels. And new towels. At the time, my husband was home from work for a week because he'd had a hernia repair. I convinced him to make me a board that I could hang the bath towels on so I could get rid of the builder's grade towel bar that had come with the house.  Once he had the board made, I decided that I wanted a shelf put on top of it...and then trim on the bottom to balance it out.  So my patient husband humored me and kept adding to the original piece of wood until he created this masterpiece. 

It was made mostly out of wood we already had. We were able to paint it with left over trim paint our builder had left in our basement. It ended up being a pretty cheap alternative to the towel bar that was there before.

A few years ago, I read in a parenting magazine about assigning each child a certain color of bath towel. That way you would always know who had left a towel out and who was in charge of putting it away. I'd been wanting to do this ever since, so we assigned each of the boys their own color.  It's been great to have this system because now the boys aren't giving me the, "But it's his towel, he should have to pick it up" excuse.

I'll be back in a few days with a tutorial on how to frame out a bathroom mirror.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Candy Dilemma

I can hardly believe its been over a week since my last post!  First of all, we celebrated Halloween.

I got to take these handsome guys around the neighborhood, while the husband stayed home and handed out treats. An hour and a half was about all I (and the baby!) could handle and we headed home around 7:30.

The kids love Trick or Treating, but every year when we come home,  I am left with the dilemma of what to do with all of that candy.  This year I let them pick out two treats when we got home, then the rest of it was dumped into their very own gallon sized Ziploc bag to be rationed out over the next few weeks.  Where my boys are still so little, I don't just let them stash it in their rooms.  I'm sure it would be gone in a day and I would have some very sick kids! I was recently at a meeting, where a lady said that she would let her kids pick out their favorite candies, and then the rest of it would go in a big bag that was set out on the porch.  The next morning there was a small toy for each of her kids in place of the bag.  I thought it was a great way to get the candy (and temptation!) out of the house.  My family wasn't on board with the idea. What do you do with all of that Trick or Treat candy?

In addition to Halloween festivities, the husband and I have been working on a DIY project in our kids' bathroom.  I'll be back tomorrow with the first part of the redo that we completed a few months ago. Then we'll be posting a tutorial on framing out a builder's grade mirror and installing a new door stop.  See you tomorrow!