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 Overstock.com.
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

Photography

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.)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Starbucks,Target and Small Moments

I knew what my oldest son wanted. 

His actions spoke for him. He followed me around. He didn’t say much, just wouldn’t leave my side. If I left the room, he was close behind. So I finally said, “Do you need some alone time with me?” His face beamed. Do you want to go to Starbucks? (I have my boys trained that Starbucks is a treat for them as well as me. I know, I know - brilliant.)  

Soon we were sitting in the small cafĂ© drinking warm coffee, hot chocolate and eating treats. He chatted non-stop. He told me how he wished he was better at math. He told me how he loves basketball, but not playing it in gym class because no one knows how to play and it is total chaos. (Well, unless he has one particular gym teacher who is best at getting a proper basketball game going.) He talked about school and friends and his brothers. We then walked around Target to pick up a few things. We held hands. (Under the condition that if I saw any of his friends from school, I would let go of his hand. He then changed his mind, saying he thinks his friends in third grade just might still hold their mom’s hand.)  

I love these kind of sacred moments tucked in between the stress and chaos of everyday life. I feel God in them. I feel God’s love as He transforms Starbucks and Target into magical places where I connect with my son. God reminds me that His love is so big that He filtrates even the smallest moments of life. He whispers to my heart… 

I am here.  Can you feel me? My love is here. It is in your everyday life. I love you through people. I love you through sunny days and a light breeze. I love you by surrounding you with my beautiful creation. I love you through small moments that seem insignificant, but put a smile on your face. I love you through good food and a place to go home to. I love you through joy, smiles and laughter.  I love you through giving you gifts and talents to share. I love you through goals accomplished and dreams to reach for. I love you through giving you hope. I love you because I created you. And I am always here. Let go of some of your stress and busyness. Look for me. Notice how I show up. Notice how I love you. 

No, I do not always seize the moment. I get busy, tired, distracted, or crabby. But when I let myself be fully present in life’s small joys, when I connect with loved ones, notice every day blessings, when I pause…and look… 

I feel God's love.

I am reminded that we don’t always have to do something spectacular or go someplace special to see God. He meets us right here in the ordinary.  Sometimes all we need to do is notice.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Photography - Everyday Moments

My sister and I have had a version of this conversation a few times:
 
Me: I miss when my kids were really little. I miss cuddling an infant, the cuteness of a toddler...I miss their smallness.
Sister: I think that too. (Thoughtful pause.) But, I also think that someday I will look back and miss the age my kids are at right now.
 
My sister speaks TRUTH.
 
Someday I will miss watching my kids run through the sprinklers, take over the street with the neighborhood kids, zoom around on their bikes with their swords tucked into the back of their shirts (because one should be prepared for danger at all times), chase each other just for the fun of it, and carefully construct Legos as if they are performing heart surgery. Every day I get to look into the beautiful faces of my children and be reminded of how lucky I am to be a mom.
 
This summer, my biggest goal is to enjoy the now. Not wish for the past, long for the future, but enjoy the little moments that make the present so sweet.
I have been itching to do some photography. I wanted my pictures to capture the beauty in everyday living. I usually keep my camera on my fireplace mantel so I can quickly grab a shot before the moment passes. (And because a quick photo here or there goes over much better with my boys than a big photography session.)

I can't always get the look I am wanting in Photoshop, but I am happy  with how these pictures turned out. I found a new set of actions that I love from Shutter Pulse. A couple of blog posts back I mentioned that I had downloaded their free set of 20 actions. I found myself using these free actions more and more.  Shutter Pulse then offers $10 off their packages through their emails, so it is $29 for their set of 300 actions. I have yet to find a package so big for so cheap and since I was loving their free actions, I got a little crazy and bought the whole package.  It was worth it. The vintage actions are my favorite. If you are looking for a great deal and a quick way to edit, this is a great route to go. (I have yet to do any advertising on my blog, so this is just one mama photographer sharing a great find. If you have any photography advice for me, I will gladly take it as well!) 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Never

The other night I sat at the beach and watched my kids play in the water.

To my right a large group of college students were hanging out, playing beach volleyball. I couldn’t help but notice them. Super young. Full of life. Energetic. Laughing. The girls all looked great in their swim attire. No one seemed to have a care in the world.

On the way to my spot on the beach, I had trudged by those beautifully youthful people with my entourage of little boys. My hair was piled high on my head. I was wearing a free t-shirt from work, my black yoga pants had a bleach stain and I was sporting a Captain America backpack. But you all know how it is getting everyone ready for the beach. (Mom, I can’t find my shark swimsuit. I want to wear that one! Where is my blue water gun? The one I got for my birthday that shoots the best. We can’t leave without it!)  I didn’t put much thought into my attire, I was just glad we made it.

As I sat there on my towel watching my boys play and listening to the sounds of beach volleyball, thoughts of my college years and my twenties filled my head. I have some good memories of my twenties, but still…my biggest thought was…never.

Never would I trade the joys of my thirties to go back to the youthfulness of my twenties.

Yes, I know my body isn’t as young now. Pregnancy has done some reshaping. My face is beginning to age, a few grey hairs have made their appearance, and I do not look as good in beach attire as the girls playing volleyball to my right. But in my adult life, I have never been as happy as I am now.

I have a better perspective, more wisdom, a braver attitude, more gratitude and a deeper faith. I am more comfortable in my own skin and I love it. I have experiences I would not trade. I have deepened old friendships and met new wonderful people. I am completely captivated by my little people and their dad. My heart feels full. Life, of course, still has its struggles and challenges (it always will), but overall the joy and contentment I feel in my thirties vastly outweighs the decade before.

If my thirties are much happier than my twenties, I can’t imagine what joys, better perspective and wisdom will come with my forties, fifties and beyond…

That is something to look forward to.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Today. You Got This

Whatever you have going on…
Your day is normal, routine and mundane.
You day is relaxing and fun.
Your day is extra busy.
You are trying to make a difficult decision.
You are taking a brave step or a chance on something new.
Your mind is on someone or something you are deeply concerned about.
You just want to stay home with your family today. You are done with the routine.
You get to stay home with your family today. (Happy dance.)
You get the day to yourself. (Just in the nick of time...because, you desperately need it.)
You have been hurt and are struggling to heal.
You are trying to help a loved one who has been hurt and is struggling to heal.
Your day is like a mountain. You just aren't sure how you are going to get over it.
You are facing unwelcome and uninvited challenges, full of uncertainties.

Know...
You are resilient and strong.
You are discerning and wise.
You know how to organize your day so your priorities get done.
You need joy and happiness. Those don't have to be sacrifices. Pursue them!
You also need time off, so if today you get this - fully enjoy it.
Your kids aren't around forever. Enjoy them today.
You can say no, even if it disappoints someone.
You are capable of making good decision and tough choices.
You have overcome challenges before. You can do it again.
No other person knows your heart like you do; you make the best decisions for you.
You don't have to have everything figured out and life won't always turn out the way you think it should. That is not necessarily a bad thing.
Perfection will always elude you. No one is perfect. It is okay to let it go.
You are a child of God...intentionally created, exactly as you are.
You uniquely contribute your gifts and talents to this world. No one else can replace you.
God has a purpose for your life. He can use you in big ways to spread His love. (So exciting.)

You are not alone...
You are a woman. You are part of a powerful group who knows how to move mountains, conquer challenges, and get things done
There are people who have traveled the road before you who have written or spoken their encouragement. Find them. Be inspired. Feel empowered.
You have friends and family who love you deeply.
The Bible is rich in powerful truths and beautiful promises. Press God's words on your heart. Seek His guidance.
Know God goes before you, is behind you and is right beside you. Trust in Him.
"...but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  (Isaiah 40:31, NIV)
You can soar.  You will soar.  Trust in God’s promises. Know Jesus is always with you, guiding you.

Today, whatever you have going on…
 
YOU GOT THIS.