Sunday, October 11, 2015

Master Bathroom Remodel

You know how you start a project, get 90% done, then put off the finishing touches for like a year? This is the story of our master bathroom remodel. Our hang up? What to do with the mirror and windows. But here’s what my husband finally came up with. It’s a curtain rod with a sliding mirror. I have to admit I am pretty impressed with his creativity. So, now we are 98% done. The last 2%? Well, notice there is no toilet paper holder. Which really was no big deal because for the entire year we successfully set the roll on the back of the toilet. I’m not sure why now, but in the past week our boys have knocked a complete roll of toilet paper off the back of the toilet into the water…three different times. Which also wasn't a big deal, until the last time. It was the last roll of toilet paper in the house, it was late, and I was so tired there was no way I was making a Target run. I came in the bathroom and saw the last roll sitting sopping wet on the back of the toilet. “Noooo!” Why, boys? Why? They shrugged it off like, “this is not really a big deal, mom, you’re over-reacting” (which I sometimes tend to do). Oh, my little boys. They can have a serious conversation about whether a tyrannosaurus rex skeleton could actually fit in our living room or not, but not understand why a sopping roll of the last of the toilet paper is a big deal to me. As a peace offering, my five-year-old did go get a roll of paper towels for me. (You are sweet, little boy, but – ugh.) Girl problems in a house full of boys. So, that toilet paper holder will be hung up real soon. It’s a must. :)


We completely gutted the bathroom:

Linked to: Remodelaholic Blog

Friday, October 2, 2015

When Parenting Gets Hard

My three young boys and I still had not made it through the security checkpoint. The airport was hot, our carry-ons heavy and we stood uncomfortably close to strangers. Turtles moved faster than that line. Turtles didn’t even have to be alive to move faster than that line.

What little space remained between us, our luggage, and the passengers next to us, my two younger boys somehow managed to fill. They sprawled out on the floor in discomfort, their limbs intruded on strangers, and they whined like champs. I quietly reprimanded them. My oldest son yelled at his brothers to stop – continually and loudly. I reprimanded him as well. Finally after two long hours, we made it through security.

Later, I thought about how trying to get through an overcrowded airport alone with my boys can bring out the worst in me. Then the image of my oldest son trying to get his brothers to quit being obnoxious popped into my head. I gasped. Oh my goodness. My oldest son was trying to help me. When his dad is not around he likes to become the man of the family. I know this about him, so why did I reprimand him? Yes, I know he was yelling in strangers’ ears, but my poor little man stretched his wings of manhood and I immediately clipped them.

{Big sigh.} Parenting is hard. 

It is wonderful, rewarding, and amazing, but hard. And it just gets harder. For one simple reason: as the kids get older, they remember. Our words matter. 

It is hard to lay emotions aside and know what to say when.  It is hard to know when to push and when to pull back. We can all entertain parenting fears like:

What if my kid could be really good at – insert sport, talent, academics here – but I never pushed him/her hard enough and he/she missed out?

What if I pushed my kid to be good at – insert sport, talent, academics here – but my kid hated it and never told me and grew up resenting the activity and me?

We can freak out if our kid hasn’t hit a milestone or learned something as quickly as the kid up the street. We can compare ourselves to all the best qualities of other parents, then of course feel like we fall short. We can helicopter too much. Or we can give our kids independence then kick ourselves when they fail because we doubt our decision to let go. We can worry our children’s shortcomings reflect our own parenting failures. 

Look. I know intentional parenting is good. But unhealthy pressure and unrealistic expectations is not. But here’s the thing: even though I can question and worry about my effectiveness as a parent, my heart tells me – Are you ready for this? – it doesn’t matter. Whether we put unhealthy pressure or not on ourselves, our kids are going to turn out okay. 

Haven’t generations of imperfect parents before us have successfully raised kids? Didn’t the generation before us have to walk both ways uphill barefoot in the snow to school? That generation turned out fine.

Our generation turned out fine too. When I think of my own childhood, I don’t remember it as perfect. I remember sometimes being pushed and sometimes not. I remember good conversations and frustrating conversations with my folks about decisions I made. I remember good times and hard times. (Mom, I am so sorry about junior high. I was awful.) In the normal ups and downs of family life, I have fond memories. Why? I always felt loved.

Hmm. That thought is telling. 

Maybe when this parenting thing gets hard and we are not sure what to do, we can simplify it. We can let go of all the unhealthy expectations and ask ourselves: In this situation, does my kid feel loved? 

After our airport incident, my oldest son had to write about his happy place for third grade. This is what he wrote:
"My happy place is a place I go a lot. My books are at that place. My cool collections are there. My toys are there. My neighbors are at that place. My family is there too. My happy place is home."

Be still, my heart. Despite my mistakes, my son still likes home best.

As parents, we won’t do everything right. We will not always be sure what the best thing to do or say is, but we can confident of one thing: we know how to love our kids. We can create a home that embraces them. We can be a family that learns together, is full of grace, is accepting and safe, and loves deeply. 

We can create a happy place. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015


I have a photography tip for you. Put your camera on the ground. (You don't even need to have a nice camera, I took a few of these on my phone.) It gives the photo an artsy look. And it also tells an important part of the story: the fossils we were hunting for at a park, the creaky dock my kids absolutely love to walk on, the water to splash in, the rocks that are just as much fun to play with as the equipment, the long log that my boys can't resist balancing on...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Five Lies We Tell Ourselves

I have noticed a few lies we sometimes embrace as truths. I have noticed them in conversations, in actions, and sometimes in my own thoughts. I’m calling out these five lies:

1. Everyone has to get us. It’s really nice when people get us and the decisions we make. It’s lovely to receive validation and approval. But is that always realistic? I don’t always get why people make the decisions they do. I don’t get why someone would climb Mount Everest (don’t they realize there are freezing temperatures and low oxygen?); or why our beloved neighbors moved three hours away (something to do with a better job, but whatever – I don’t want to hear it). But here is the exciting thing about people: different things in life capture our attention, move us and motivate us in unique ways. So of course we will all make distinct decisions that suit us best. Sometimes not getting each other doesn’t mean we don’t love and support each other, it just means we would do it differently. And different can be good.

2. Worry means we are doing something. I am a champion at worrying. Why? If I worry really hard about something out of my control, then it makes me feel like I am doing something to fix the situation. But in our hearts, we all know this isn’t true. I mean really, do we ever encourage each other with, “Well, why don’t you worry a little more about that?”  We say things like, “Let’s pray,” “Let’s hope,” “Let’s have faith,” but never, “Let’s worry.” Worry really is futile.

3. We always have to explain ourselves. When we say no (especially if we feel like we are letting someone down), we tend to start explaining. We might dive into every aspect of our decision including our family circumstances – which are undoubtedly leading us to say no in this situation; our childhood – which might or might not have something to do with the no, but we go there anyway; and what we had for breakfast – which might seem important too because it fills the uncomfortable silence. But here’s the thing: people respect a solid no. They have said no themselves before. It’s okay to say, “You know, I thought about it, and it just doesn’t work for me right now. Thanks for asking.” Less can be more. 

4. Adding one more commitment is no big deal. It actually can be a big deal. Can you put the time and energy into the new commitment that it deserves? Will it take away from family time, current commitments, and important things in your life? We live life once. I am all about living big and not missing out on opportunities to contribute our talents, but there are only so many hours in a day and we only have so much energy. We quickly say yes because we feel obligated, rather than considering if it is best. Being busy does not always mean we are more successful. Sometimes it just means we are more tired. It’s okay to turn down additional commitments. 

5.  We should always follow the formula. Sometimes following the formula we see others embrace to achieve success is helpful. We can be grateful for the people who have shown us how to get where we want to be. Learning from people ahead of us is good, but doing something completely our own way can be good too. You don’t have to follow the same career path as your colleagues, or parent the same as your friend…you get the idea. Don’t be afraid to listen to that feeling you get deep in your gut that tells you to do it your way. Who knows, your actions just might inspire someone else to choose their own path.

Yes, sometimes these lies work for us. For example, there are times when we should say yes to a new commitment. But when we think of these statements as absolutes, it can cause us stress and make us hesitate to do what we know in our hearts is best. In our conversations, actions, and thoughts, let’s know this truth: we are capable of making good decisions and being resourceful, discerning, and wise. When we need to, let’s call out the lies, embrace the truths, and move forward with confidence.

This article  also published on the Huffington Post Women.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Bedroom Remodel

We finished our bedroom remodel! Details at the bottom of the post.

What we did:
1. We ripped up the carpet and found there were wood floors! Yay! We rented a sander and sanded the main part of the floor. It took about three times going over the floor (three evenings) to get it sanded enough. There was about 3-4 inches around the edge of the floor that the big sander could not get. We started sanding with our hand-held sanders, but they were just too small. So, we bought an edger floor sander for around $50 and it was well worth it.  Once the floors were sanded, we stained them the dark color.
2. New trim and edging around the closet doors and windows. (We painted it all white.)
3. New closet doors and pulls.
4. The dressers were $15 total from a garage sale. I first painted them black and I did like that, but decided the room needed more color. So, I repainted them bright blue. Then, I looked at my freshly painted pieces, hesitated for about 2 seconds, then started sanding off the paint. I love how the black peeks through.
5. The curtains are from Target.
6. The white bedspread we got a few years back from JC Penney.
7. The carpet I ordered from
8. We painted the walls grey.
9. The chest at the foot of the bed I painted black.

It feels good to have it done. Now, if only we kept the room this neat and tidy all the time...;)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Well, This is New

Back when I only had one baby, I had met my sister-in-law and two of her kids (older-elementary-school-age) at the pool. I was holding my infant and my sister-in-law was relaxing on one of those floating pool loungers. I was a new mom, filled with the wonder and joy of having an infant, but also shocked by the lack of sleep I was getting. I walked around in a permanent state of brain fog. Noticing the dark circles under my eyes, my sister-in-law was assuring me that as the kids grow, life gets easier. But as we tried to talk, her kids would not leave her alone. They were splashing her, swimming under her floater and trying to dunk her, hugging her just to get her wet, laughing, smiling – honestly, they were having so much fun you would have thought they were at Disney. I was thinking that does not look easier. Yes I was tired, but my infant was snuggling me and lightly splashing in the pool as my sister-in-law’s son did a giant cannon ball with the sole purpose of drenching her. The kids’ entertainment was 100% trying to bug their mom as much as possible and I was a little in awe of it. I was struck by how much my nephew and niece loved getting and holding their mom’s attention.

I think I have reached that point in motherhood with my two older sons. They find such joy in antagonizing me. They have discovered photo bombing, which because I love photography makes it not fun for me and even more fun for them. (Hence this photo where you can’t see my face because of my son’s blurry face. I know it was a dumb photo to begin with, but it didn’t even have a chance to potentially be good because it was photo bombed!) As I was taking photos for another family at a park, one son was putting the snake skin he found on me. (Nothing like creeping me out while I am trying to be serious.) If I sit at the edge of the pool, they are pulling me in. If I sit on the ground, they are climbing on my shoulders. (My oldest has gotten so tall. Really, he thinks he can sit on my shoulders without crushing me?) They ask for sips of my coffee, not because they like coffee – they just want to drink my drink. When they were playing an outdoor game with their cousins involving shaving cream, I somehow I ended up also covered in the white, foamy stuff. My son spilt ice cream on his shirt, ignored the napkin in front of him and instead wiped it on my arm.

For the love. What is up with my older two kids?
I think our family has officially reached the older-elementary-school-age-when-bugging-mom-is-fun-entertainment stage. This is new territory for me.
But really, who am I kidding – I might not love the snake skin or shaving cream in my hair, but oh my goodness, I totally love the attention from them. And besides, just like all the other stages of parenting, this will also pass way too quickly. Before I know it, they will be in the stage when their friends are more important, they are involved in lots of activities, out late and are too busy to hang out with their mom. Then I will look at this photo bombed picture and bawl like a baby.

Friday, July 24, 2015


I had a chance to take some pictures for these lovely families. Here are a few of my favorites.
(The baby turned 1, so there are a few extra of him.)