Week in Review: 2014 {Weeks 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, & 28}

Really, I should just start calling this series Month in Review.  And after you read this, you’ll understand why I can’t keep this blog updated.  :-p

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June blew by like a hurricane and left us all kind of wondering what just happened to half our summer.  The older two spent a week at Summer Sizzle, our church’s week long event for junior high and high school students to kick off the season.  With events every morning and evening, they stayed crazy busy. Ellie had ballet camp the same week, and the younger two both had swim lessons.  Can anyone say “lots of windshield time” for this mama?

The following week Chandler attended Kanakuk Kampout (please, people, stop misspelling words in the name of being catchy or clever; it is neither).  An all day “k”amp for grade schoolers, also hosted at our church, she had an awesome time.  Since she will be joining her sisters at Summer Sizzle next year, this was Chandler’s second and last year at Kamp.

The next week we took a mini-vacay as a family to St. Louis / Bloomington, IL.   While not what I would classify as a true vacation (I did not come home rested.  In fact, I came home desperately needing a nap.), it was a wonderful trip for our family.  We visited the Arch, Six Flags (thank you, Read to Succeed program!), and the zoo.  Then we drove up to Bloomington to visit friends and represent Lifeline at a benefit race there.  Amania was able to see her two friends, Sophie and Tessa, and we were all able to connect with a really great group of people we would not know if it were not for adoption and our involvement with Lifeline.  During our time in Illinois, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much larger our family’s world has gotten because of adoption through Lifeline.  We have gained so many wonderful friends by serving with the ministry and because of our now forever-connection to Haiti.  It’s a beautiful thing, really, how adoption expands the family by much more than the addition of a child.

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After returning from St. Louis / Illinois, the older two girls promptly started a soccer camp for a week.  Chandler celebrated her 11th birthday.  Grace had fundraisers to help pay for her trip to Haiti.  Then she left to serve in the kitchen at Kanakuk in Missouri for a week.

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The next week we all breathed a small sigh of relief as life slowed down just a smidge.  Although it still ended up being a rough week for other reasons.  For the 4th we went down to Wichita where we stayed with friends on the lake.  Now that was a vacation.  Seriously, much-needed and uber-appreciated downtime spent on the lake, in the pool, on a lounge chair….all doing nothing but soaking up sun and laughing with friends.  Glorious.

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Last week Emma went for three days to Junior High Rampage, our church’s three day retreat for, well, junior highers.  She went to Schlitterbahn in KC where she got a sunburn on top of a sunburn (from the weekend in Wichita) and came home with some of the most horrific blisters I’ve seen from burning.  Still makes my skin hurt to think of them.  Chandler also got to attend her last week of Camp Enosh.  The girls have attended this camp, put on by a local church, for years.  It’s a bittersweet year for this girl as she closes the book, so to speak, on some of her favorite activities, knowing some really fun stuff of a different kind is coming up for her next summer.

On the other end of the spectrum, Ellie is attending her first week ever at Camp Enosh this week.  She’s been watching sisters go for years, and she’s finally old enough.  She was super-excited this morning to finally get to experience all she’s been hearing about since she was a toddler.  We are also preparing to send our oldest off to Haiti for a week soon.  Once she gets back, that signifies the end of major activities for the summer, and I’m pretty sure I will be very happy to have all of my chicks back in the nest.

Meanwhile, over the past few weeks, we’ve been working on some projects around the house.  I purged some more spaces.  Honestly…..I don’t think I’m a hoarder(?!), but sometimes I frighten myself with the amount of **stuff** I continually find to get rid of.  The guest room got a little update.  We removed the overly formal bedding, put in a lighter, more contemporary set, added curtains, a side table (that needs to be painted), and changed up the decor a bit.  Matt hung a calendar command center in the kitchen for me that I’m excited about.  This should keep the fridge less cluttered and hopefully help limit the number of times I answer some of the same questions every day/week/month.  I also bought and hung a fun little chalkboard piece with my favorite, oft-repeated Katie Davis quote.  Then my love surprised me last week by staying up all night (crazy man) and painting the school room.  I didn’t realize just how much I hated the old color until it was gone.  It was an awful 1970’s-hospital-green.  Flat and dull and depressing.  Now, grey and orange, with fun accents….I’m actually (kind of) excited to be down there and start school again.

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Our school files from over nine years of home schooling.  I threw away a full three tubs of papers and still ended up needing just as many tubs.  I’m not sure how that happened. I really should check with someone who knows….I’m not sure I even need anything that’s over a year old, but if we do, I have it, by golly!

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This wreath should arrive this week.  It’s going to hang on the old window in the previous picture.  So excited!

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All I need today…

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The  freshly painted bar area, conveniently located in the freshly painted school room.  I’m currently very in love with the mirror, the light, and the ram’s head.  And the orange paint.

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This is snake number two in less than a week.  Found in our basement.  Thankfully we have our very own St. Francis living with us, so this snake had a much more peaceful departure than the first one we found.

This book is currently at the top of the stack.  Not amazing, a little hard to connect with, but some very good bits throughout.  Definitely worth the read.

Lastly, I was challenged / encouraged this past week by a friend to start counting the gifts again.  Somewhere in the past six months I stopped counting.  The gifts I was listing were starting to sound so repetitive to me so I quit looking and listing.  And I became ungrateful without realizing it.  So I was thankful to be reminded this week to always be look for those gifts, to keep my heart and eyes open to the good things God is up to in my life.  Because He’s always up to something good.

2996.  chaos and finding our way

2997.  middle girl and turning eleven

2998.  oldest child off to camp and my heart breaking just a little

2999.  a weekend of rest

3000.  God speaking, revealing, leading me back to His way

3001.  husband who loves, serves, sacrifices, gives

3002.  newly painted school room

3003.  hospitality

3004.  recognizing spiritual dryness

3005.  choosing not to stay there

Wishing you a wonderful week, my friends!

For His Glory ~

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Feeling Pinteresty….

My friend Shawna sent me this link the other day and it inspired me to try something similar in the little girls’ room.  I am itching – ITCHING! – to get Ellie and Amania’s room done.  It may or may not have been part of my “mama-meltdown” last Friday.  I just hate unfinished projects; they make me nutty.  And as the Lord would have it, we just moved into a giant one.  See, He’s refining me.

Anyway, it feels like we have been working on their room for at least six months, even though when I look at a calendar I realize it’s only been, really, three or so.  And we’ve been a little busy with life and unpacking and other little things here and there, so, again with the showing myself grace.  But, we are soooo close to finished.  A ceiling fan, some paint on a few pieces of furniture and maybe hanging some of their artwork on the walls, and that room is done.  Woot!

So, back to the Pinterest project.  We had two different family photo sessions this year with wonderful, talented photographers.  But because of all the crazy the past few months, I’ve done nothing with the photos.  Until now.

I tried the engineer print as suggested in the post.  However, our local printing company couldn’t print that large and the quality of the Kinko’s engineer prints in black and white were very poor (as in, whole sections of the photo wouldn’t print).  I could have done them there in color, but they charge by the square foot, making a 24″x36″ print close to $45.  Mmmm….no.  So, back to planning my cheap enlargements.

Enter, Sam’s Club.   They offer very reasonable color enlargements and their print quality is usually good – certainly good enough for the girls’ bedroom walls.  The first print I tried was of the two girls together.  I didn’t want it quite as large, so I did their “poster board” print (I can’t remember the exact name and I’m not finding it online).  They print the photo directly on some sort of super-thick stock, so it was ready to hang when I got it.  The 16″x24″ print was less than $15.

Happy with the way the first one turned out, but wanting larger prints for the individual photos, I opted for “poster prints”.  They were about $9 each for 20″x30″ prints.  Then, I headed over to Hobby Lobby as directed in the original post, where I had them dry mounted while I waited, for about $15 each.  I then bought the 3M Command picture hanging adhesives, so as to not put holes in the prints or the walls.

I have to say, I love them!  They may not be the same quality as a canvas or more expensive prints that could be done, but for the price and the way they look on the wall, I will definitely be doing more of these.  (Our photographer may be cringing in the corner right now. 😉 )  And they look so fun on the girls’ wall.  The other thing I like about these over the engineer prints, is the fact that they are in color.  Black and white would have been lovely too, but I just love the color.

I also tweaked their bulletin boards, mounting them inside open frames to make them look a little more formal.  I’m not sure I love them, but it did help dress the room up a bit. Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

 This is the smaller poster board print I had done at Sam’s. The next two are the larger poster prints mounted on foam board. You can also see my “framed” bulletin boards above Amania’s bed.

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Next up – chevron stripes or marigold furniture?  The jury is still out, but hopefully I’ll be posting about that finished project soon!

For His Glory ~

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How I Cope with the Clouds

So a couple of weeks ago I posted about my on-going battle with depression.  Over the years I’ve tried a variety of methods for treating this shadowy illness.  I’ve tried a variety of prescription anti-depressants.  I’ve tried light therapy (in the form of tanning beds).  I’ve used St. John’s Wort as recommended by my physician.  And I’ve tried just waiting for winter to pass (as that is when I struggle most).

All of these methods have been successful to varying degrees and with varying long-term effects.  Prescription meds work, I won’t argue with that.  But they come with a multitude of side effects and a variety of long-term consequences that are just beginning to be understood.  I am thankful for modern medicine and pharmaceuticals and believe God has given us this knowledge to be used for our benefit and His glory.  I have no issues with someone who uses prescription anti-depressants or with using them myself if necessary.  However, I believe God has given us in the created world what we need to treat and care for our bodies in times of sickness or health and we all know we are beginning to see how the overuse of man-created compounds and chemicals is causing a plethora of unintended consequences (cancers, antibiotic resistant bacteria, etc).  Therefore, as much as possible, I would prefer to find more natural ways to treat myself and my family.

Enter my current treatment plan, and a little backstory…..

In July, as I think I mentioned, I was desperate, drowning, and hanging on by merely a thread of hope.  I cried out to the Lord for some kind of relief because I knew I couldn’t go into the new school year, much less the winter, already so far behind emotionally.  And through completely “random” circumstances (a phone call from my husband to a friend about something completely unrelated), I was told about essential oils.  I’ll be honest, on a normal day I would have politely written the idea off as “not for me”.  But this came at the end of a day of dedicated prayer for help, so I listened and started reading and asking questions.  I ordered two oils and expected absolutely nothing.  I kept praying and hoping and committed to trying the oils (and St. John’s Wort – more on that momentarily) for  the month of August.  It was decided that if I was not feeling noticeably better by the end of the month, I would go back on prescription meds for the first time in 13 years.

Sidenote – I added in the SJW because, as I said, I was desperate for relief.  I have used SJW many times for seasonal depression and have found it helpful, enough to get me through the winter months, but not life changing.  I thought, if nothing else, it might provide a boost to my fragile mental state.  🙂

And so I faithfully used my oils and my SJW for a couple of weeks and really didn’t think much of it.  We had a birthday in the family and there was no mama-meltdown (a miracle in itself).  Then we had a birthday party complete with sleepover friends and I actually had fun.  We started school and I felt peaceful instead of overwhelmed.  Our schedule picked up pace and I did not panic.  And that’s when I realized it, I felt better.  I felt more free, whole, and human than I had felt in months, maybe longer.  It took about two weeks, but the change was amazing.  I don’t know if it was “just” the oils or “just” the SJW or the combination of the two , but I’m not eliminating one right now to find out.  I have found something that is working incredibly well, and I’m sticking with it.  I may try to taper off of the SJW in the spring, but for the next several months, I am staying the course, Lord willing.

So here’s my treatment plan:

Lots and lots of this…..

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Combined with daily doses of these…..

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I take the SJW according to the directions on the bottle (in this case, 1 capsule, 3 times daily).  I put a drop or two of the citrus oil in every glass of water I drink.  And I put a few drops of Valor in the palm of my hands, rub together, and inhale deeply three or four times a day (more if needed).

I was impressed enough with the oils that I signed up with Young Living to be a “distributor”.  Now let me say this – I am not a fan of MLM.  I don’t like home parties and tend to find MLM products over-priced and not significantly better than their locally found competitors. That said, there is a wide variance in qualities of essential oils, these are shown to be good, quality oils,  and, as I said earlier, I have something that is working.  I’m not interested in rocking the boat.  If I can sign up and get it at a discount – woot!  If God chooses to do something else with this and grow something out of it, then that is His prerogative.

Since signing up and ordering my oils, I have been trying all the ones that came in my kit and have had great success with many of them.  One daughter has used Purification for blemishes.  I diffuse Peace and Calming at breakfast, lunch, and dinner to help keep our gaggle of girls under control as we transition to different parts of the day.  We have used Lavender for a multitude of things – rubbing on feet and pillows at night, soothing burns or scrapes on skin, helping our very distractible child to focus during school (night and day difference when we use it and when we don’t), and even alleviating one of the most severe allergy episodes I’ve had in years.

So, to say I’m a fan is probably an understatement.  I’m still very overwhelmed by the abundance of information and possibilities with these oils, as well as the sheer number of them, but I am learning as I go and am excited to learn more.

For His Glory ~

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****If you are interested in placing an order with Young Living (www.youngliving.com), my distributor number is: 1484727. As I said in my post, I am not actively trying to grow any sort of a business; I’m just completely amazed at how beneficial these oils are and I love that the only “side effects” are good ones, so I am happy to share that with anyone who wants to know more.  It’s always all for God’s glory.

Systems and Charts and How I’m Keeping the Kids on Task

I’ve had a few people ask me recently about how we do chores at our house.  A year or so ago, I shared this post about the chore system I was rolling out then.  It seemed to work really well for about a year and then fizzled, as many of our chore systems are wont to do.  So I thought through and prayed and planned and designed a new chore system utilizing washi tape, scrabble tiles, RIT dye, glue on magnets, and the side of the refrigerator.  It was pretty, it was elaborate, it was detailed.  And it was a complete and total flop.  Given, we were at the end of the school year (when everyone is just done) and then we decided to move, so who knows if they would  have taken to it.  But, we are starting a new new system now (which I will share about later in this post), but first, the flop system, because it really may work for someone else.

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I started out by coming up with all of the chores that needed to be done.  At this point, children were being paid small amounts / chore for many chores.  (We don’t do allowances – we prefer to pay for work.  I know this is a grey area in parenting with lots of opinions, that’s just where we’ve settled over the years.)  Then I measured out the appropriate number of rows and six columns (one for chores and one for each kid) on the fridge with washi tape.  (I will say the washi tape had a hard time sticking to the fridge.  I’m not sure it would have made it through the hot, humid summer had it been left up.)

I purchased generic scrabble tiles from Michael’s and dyed them one of three different colors.  The colors corresponded to the value or pay of the job.  Purple = no pay, you do it because you live here; Red = small pay, daily job; Green = more pay, weekly or rarer job.  The tiles were then placed under a name and next to a job at the beginning of each week and the girls were supposed to be responsible to check the chart and do their work.  More tiles were dyed the same colors.  When a job was completed, they were to drop a corresponding color tile in the box below their name.  Tiles were counted at the end of the week to determine payment.

Perhaps the system was too elaborate or it was just the season of life, but like I said, it just didn’t take at our house.  It was fun to make, though!  🙂

Learning from that experience and now that we’ve moved, we are taking a different approach to chores, one I’m pretty excited about and that seems to work in our “wired” and list-oriented family.  It started when we were in the process of moving.  Matt would email out a schedule for the week to me and a job list to the older girls each day, copying me on the email.  I noticed quickly that the girls did really well with this, so I started trying it too.  I’m still a pen-and-paper person when it comes to to do lists, so sometimes they get emailed and printed, sometimes they are handwritten, but they always get posted on the fridge for everyone to see.  The daily note includes jobs for the day, as well as a loose schedule.

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While it does take some time to make up a schedule / job list every day, I made out a running schedule that I keep with my weekly to do list and I just refer to that and add in any specific details.  We also changed how the girls get paid.  The older three have each been given a fairly substantial job that is their on-going responsibility.  (One mows the lawn, one is the pool girl, one is the “gardener”.)  The younger two will be given similar, but smaller, tasks in the garage and basement once we get those areas cleaned out and unpacked.  They will each be paid fairly for these larger responsibilities but no longer will they be paid individually for the smaller indoor work of regular cleaning and chores.  Since winter will come and some of the outdoor work will end (unless we get a lot of snow again), we’ll have to think of some other jobs for them to do during the off season so we don’t hear about how broke they are.  😉

As for the indoor work (helping around the house, making beds, doing laundry, keeping things generally picked up so I don’t go insane, etc.), our kids need incentives.  I wish they didn’t, but they do.  For a long time it was the small pay for small jobs.  But the older girls are earning more money now and a quarter really just doesn’t motivate them much and I can’t afford a dollar a day x five just to get beds made.  So, taking a cue from Cleaning House (please read this book if you have kids of any age still at home – so good!), we are starting each month with a jar full of ones.  The author of the book did a jar for each child but that’s just not in the budget,  so we’re doing one jar for the whole family, but with a little more money in it.  If jobs that can (and should) be completed before lunch are, the money stays for the day.  If they are not, I pull out a dollar.  So, yes, one child can ruin it for everyone, but that’s the way it tends to go in large families.  Money that is left at the end of the month will be used to plan a family night since frequent eating out was one thing that got nixed when we decided to move.   The main indoor job right now is helping in the kitchen.  This used to be a me plus one person job and I realized that it really needs to be me plus two kids, so I made a rotation pairing the girls up (an older with a younger every day) and those two are responsible for dishes, cleaning up the kitchen after meals, and helping with meal prep each day.  The other big job is taking care of the dog which has been moved to a weekly rotation and that child has to feed and water her, clean up after her (outside messes, as well as vacuuming the carpet where she tracks in dirt), and make sure she’s kenneled when we leave and her door is locked at night for the entire week.  Things like cleaning and other jobs are just “as needed” right now and aren’t really on a rotation yet. I’m sure one will come into being as we get more settled in the coming weeks and months.

This turned into a rather long and winding post.  I guess that happens on one cup of coffee and not a lot of sleep.  This is what’s working for us right now.  What chore systems work for your family?

For His Glory ~

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Good Eats…

Today I’m giving an unsolicited shout out for a service we’ve been using and sharing a couple of really yummy recipes we’ve tried recently.

A few months ago we started using Emeals.  We’ve tried several of the menu plans and have most recently settled on the “Clean Eating” plan as it seems to more consistently fit with how we eat.  The weekly menus have provided some great variety to meal times that had been in a major rut and the pre-planned shopping lists are easy to add to my regular list each week.  Most of the meals are super quick and easy to prepare and will often provide leftovers for the weekend.   What I may love most about Emeals, though, is their lunch menu plan.  Lunch has long been a frustrating meal to make…I don’t want to cook in the middle of the day, it’s just the girls and me here, and it really needs to be quick with minimal clean up.  Their lunch menu plan has been a life-saver this year. It has provided some great variety, and all the meals are designed to be “packed” lunches, which means they are very quick and easy to prepare.  The girls and I have both enjoyed them very much.  Win win!

As much as we’ve enjoyed the Clean Eating plan, the past couple of week’s menus have been pretty heavy on red meat and fish (neither of which we eat much of), so I’ve been trying out some Pinterest recipes.  And I’m so glad I did!  Here are two that we have really enjoyed this week…

The first dish we tried was these Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas.  Oh my.  So good!  And pretty, too!  I never make pretty food, so that was an added bonus!  It seems like it’s a very flexible recipe as far as what veggies you use.  I just used what we had on hand – jalapeno peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, sweet potato, onion, and frozen corn.  Even the leftovers were delicious.  This one is definitely going in the regular meal rotation.

We also tried this tomato basil soup recipe.  This is the closest I have found to replicating Jason’s Deli’s tomato basil soup.  I don’t own an immersion blender and had to pour the mix into my blender and back to the pot.  An immersion blender would definitely be easier.  I served this soup with grilled cheese sandwiches on a cool, cloudy night this week.  Very, very yummy.

Tonight we’re having a modified version of this beans and rice recipe – cheap and easy, which is about all I’m up for at this point in the week.  🙂

How about you – what’s cooking at your house this week?

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

The Third (and final) Bedroom Makeover

We came into marriage, like a lot of young couples, with a hodge podge of home furnishings.  Many things we were blessed to be able to buy new, but our bedroom, for years, has been a bit, ummm, ecclectic.  For the last four years or so, I’ve been using our old changing table as a makeshift dresser.  We looked on more than one occasion for new furniture that would match the bed Matt built us several years ago, but we just couldn’t justify the expense when what we had was working.

Well, over the course of the Summer of Painted Furniture, God blessed us with a couple of new-to-us pieces and gave us ideas for two of the pieces we already had, and for a grand total of about $60, our bedroom furniture is finally coordinated, beautiful, and functional.  Woot!

And once again I’m shocked that in the thousands of photos on my hard drive, I have ZERO before pictures of our bedroom.  Well, I have one.  But from the angle I took it, it looks exactly like our room now.  Sooo, nevermind on the befores.  On to the finished product!

First, the whole room.  Well, sort of.  From the door….

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My “new” dresser and table….
The bureau was given to us by friends that were moving and didn’t want to take it with them.  The table was a yard sale find.  Some black paint and new hardware dressed both of them up nicely!  I still need to finish accessorizing the table and buy a mirror with a frame…..all in good time.

The nightstands….

These tables were my grandmother’s.  They were a light honey color before.  We painted them a mustard yellow color that matches the hallway leading into our room and is in the paintings above the bed, and then Matt wiped them down with a dark glaze.  Fun blue drawer pulls helped tie them into the room even more.

And the turquoise chair even made it into the room….just for fun!

 

That’s our bedroom mini-makeover.  Hope you have a fantastic Thursday, friends!

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Another Bedroom Makeover

So I posted a while back about Chandler and Ellie’s room make over.  Grace and Emma got a mini-make over too, this summer.  My main thing, again, was that I was NOT painting the room itself.  They don’t love their pink and beige room, but we found a way to make do.  With both of these girls being so close to the teen years, I know their tastes are going to change from the KU room they insisted they wanted this summer to (hopefully) something more “grown up” in just a few years.  🙂

A few before photos of the room:

Actually, just kidding!  Would you believe that in nearly 20,000 photos in storage I can’t find ONE photo of that room between the time it was a nursery and this makeover?  Wow.  Photo-journaling fail, my friends.

And now: (these photos courtesy of Emma)

They didn’t want their beds (or any other wood) painted – thank goodness!  We moved the bed to another wall and I let them take off the toile duvets, leaving just the white down comforter.  They were thrilled!

Then, we thrifted a dresser and a table out of a house we own and remodeled.

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(sorry for the blurry image)

I don’t love the dresser, but they do and it was free, so we’re all happy!

This is one of those 1950’s laminate tables.  It was white with grey starbursts on it.  I wrestled with painting but it didn’t match at all in it’s original state, so spray paint it, we did!

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The chairs were in really bad shape, but I didn’t (and don’t) have time to recover them.  I was impressed by the girls’ resourcefulness in using these blankets as make-shift covers and even used ribbon to make them look tied back.

I bought this awesome book case from a friend on Facebook.  I was so thankful to find something that matched the wood color of their beds.  On top of that blessing, it’s solid oak and huge, so it stores a ton of books and games for them.  And it was less than a crummy book case at WalMart.  Win-win-win!

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Anyway, that’s the girls’ room mini-makeover.  It felt good to make their room more functional and something they enjoy more, even if it’s not necessarily *my* style.  They are loving it, which makes me very happy.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

A Little Adoption Nesting = A Bedroom Makeover

Y’all, I am so excited about this post tonight – mostly because it means I’m finished with this project!  I have been working all of May to redo Chandler and Ellie’s (and eventually Amania’s) room.  We have struggled long to find something workable for these two.  The room is massive and the girls are both packrats/clutterbugs and so it was in constant disarray.  After praying about it and thinking it through, I came to believe that the mess was due to two factors:  1. Too much stuff (obvious), and 2. Not enough useable storage (not as obvious).

After Christmas we began the slow process of working on problem number 1.  Everything that wasn’t absolutely necessary was boxed up and taken out.  I didn’t have the time or energy for several weeks to mess with it, so the boxes just sat in our guest room.  Once I finally mustered up the courage to tackle that project (thank you 40 Bags), it went really well.  Ellie had apparently built enough emotional distance between herself and most of the items that we threw or gave away at least two thirds of what she wouldn’t have dreamed of parting with two months prior.  Amazing what a little time will do to our “attachments”.  About that same time, Matt added some lower clothing rods and more shelves to their closets, making them much better suited for people under 4 feet tall.

Then came the fun part – fixing problem number 2….

This month I have painted a twin bed, a bunk bed, a dresser, a bedside table, probably a dozen frames, a spice rack, and a large table and chairs.  I have had so.much.fun.  🙂  So come along as I walk you through their “new” room….

First, here is their room “before”.  In these photos it was staged for a neighborhood holiday open house, so it was in pristine condition.  Sadly, it rarely looked like this….

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Now, here’s their room after some adjustments and changes (and don’t miss all the little ways God provided for this room!)…

{Chandler’s bed with corkboards covered in burlap I found in our garage.  The bed is part of a discarded bunk bed a friend told me about and I got for free and painted.}

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{Ellie and Amania’s beds, also with the corkboard covered in burlap.  Obviously, we still need a real mattress and some bedding, but that’s not a top priority at this point.  The bunk beds were purchased off of Facebook for a fair price and then painted.}

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{Dresser purchased for $5 off of Facebook and painted. All of the art in the room is the girls’ own art.  I purchased (or had a friend purchase) cheap frames for me and then I spray painted them fun colors.}

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{New book case, a definite need in the room.  Baskets were from way back when we had a nursery and I spray painted them.  I ❤ spray paint.}

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{Stuffed animal storage – hanging planters purchased at Aldi for $6.00 each.  The rocking chair is the only piece of furniture in the room that did not get painted (except the book case which was purchased black).  I realized that at the end of the redo and just couldn’t force myself to take it on.}

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{One of my favorite parts of the room.  A Pinterest idea that I made my own – an open frame with Kansas tallgrass reeds glued in to hold the necklaces.  So lovely, in my humble opinon.}

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{This truly is my favorite part of the room and a really great story.  The girls used to have desks, but they were a maintenance issue, so they were pulled, but I wanted them to have a flat surface to work at if they wanted to color or something….}

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{So, I prayed and asked the Lord for a table.  I told Him I wanted a sturdy, round, wooden table, pedestal base.  Chairs would be nice, but I didn’t have to have them.  And I wasn’t terribly worried about the condition, as I was going to paint it.  Oh, and, I wanted it for $30 or less…}

{Within 24 hours of praying that, I got on Craig’s List and the first ad that popped up was for a solid wood dining table, round, with a pedestal base.  It came with four chairs and two leaves, giving it the ability to extend to up to six feet.  Oh, and it was $30. Even better, Matt actually had time that day to go pick it up for me, as there would have been no way for me to haul that in my SUV, let alone get it loaded.  }

{This still thrills me how God answered my little request for a table for my girls’ room.  He is so sweet to us!  Matt did the paint finish on it and I absolutely love it.  I am thankful to have it for the girls’ room, but I secretly wish I could put it somewhere more prominent because I like it so much!}

{We also made some updates to their bathroom.  We hung some of their art in there….}Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

{Also, I purchased and spray painted a spice rack to hold all of Chandler’s nail polishes.  (She LOVES to paint nails.)  We also took an extra table that had been in the bedroom and moved it to the bathroom.  It’s not perfect, but it provides a little more storage for towels and such.}

{Lastly, my SIL posted on Pinterest this little headband holder idea.  I’ve tried countless ways to keep headbands organized and this really seems to work!  Best of all, it only took me about 45 minutes to make both of the ribbon holders.}

The only thing still missing is shelves for the bunk beds.  We have a bit of a disagreement going about those as my beloved thinks the ones I have are ugly and I say they’re paid for and they match. I would install them myself, but they require using the drill – which I don’t know how to use, so I’m at the mercy of my handy husband.  Maybe the long weekend will bring him around.

That’s what I’ve been up to this month.  As I was painting the chairs for the table, sweating in the hot sun last Saturday, pushing ahead because I just desperately wanted to be finished, sweet Chandler was out there keeping me company and she said, “Mama, thank you for spending all your time trying to make my and Ellie’s room look nice so we can take better care of it, instead of doing all the other things you have to do.”  I think I love that little comment even more than the blue table.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

A Random Wednesday Post

True confessions time:  I am completely burned out on running.  Like I think I could go the rest of this year without running another step and be perfectly happy.  Now, I know that this is not true and I would feel rotten if I attempted this, but the notion strikes me regularly and most often at about 9:00 the night before I’m scheduled to run.  And at 5:00 a.m (or earlier) when my alarm goes off.

One of my running partners has been gracious enough to walk with me the past couple of times we’ve gotten together and it has been so refreshing!  My other running partner is training for a half marathon, so she needs to run, but it seems we’ve been having a hard time connecting to run lately.  Still, I know she’s ready for a break too after months of training through injuries.  I’m so proud of her for persevering!

In other news, Grace’s broken arm prompted me to follow through on an idea I had on my own and then saw again on Pinterest:

Source: imalazymom.com via Sara on Pinterest

Grace has long been our family “sock folder”.  Well, this became a little cumbersome when she spent more than a week not really able to use her right hand at all and with limited movement still.  So, in our laundry cabinet each of the girls now has a hook with her initial on it and a mesh laundry bag hangs from the hook.  They are responsible to put their socks and underwear in their bag.  When the bags start to look a little full, I throw them in with the laundry that day and everyone gets to fold their own socks and underwear.  Unfortunately for Grace, I hate folding socks, so she still gets to do Matt’s and mine.  But since her work load has been cut in half, she’s not complaining.  (In case you’re wondering, the bags run $.99 at WalMart.)

It has occurred to me that I haven’t posted about my 40 Bags in 40 Days experience since early in Lent.  Well, let’s see…I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity and the experience and I will do it again, but I confess it did not take long to cease being about making room for Jesus and become about checking another item off of my “to do” list.  Totally not the point, huh?  As we neared the end of Lent and I realized what had happened, I did a major slow down on my plan and refocused my heart on why I was doing this whole thing to begin with.

In the process of clearing out space, I did go through a lot of stuff and move it out of my house.  It also had a major impact on this adoption nesting thing I’ve got going on, so that + Pinterest have me in major “redecorate the house” mode.  Matt’s totally lovin’ this as our garage is now full of furniture to be painted and I’m regularly coming up with new things I’d like to do around the house.

I honestly need to do the 40 bags again this summer, as I only made it through about half of the house before I realized I was missing the point.  I like the idea of doing it for the 40 days leading up to my birthday, but that’s also the exact same time we are getting back to school.  So, maybe the first 40 days out of school?  Who knows…  🙂

In miscellaneous adoption news, IBESR in Haiti has recently closed to new dossiers in an attempt to “clear out current dossiers” by June 1.  Praise the Lord, we are one of those in there now, and who knows what will actually happen, but we are praying that ours would be processed in the next month and moved on.  How awesome would that be?!?!  When we entered IBESR in March, we were told 4 to 12 months.  To be out in less than two?  Only God!  Won’t you pray with us?  As we look at the things He is doing in our hearts and lives we can’t help but wonder if He’s not preparing us for her to come home soon.  We hope cautiously, as this road has been so treacherously long for so many.  But we see movement in Haitian adoptions, in the adoptions of friends adopting from the same orphanage, and we can’t help but hope with expectation.

That’s it for me today.  We finished up our school books today.  All except for Grace and her Sonlight, but that’s no big deal for me.   Thinking we may head over to KC and the Deanna Rose Farmstead tomorrow as a treat.  Woot!

For His Glory~

~ Sara

A Pinterest Scrabble Board

Oh, Pinterest….

I know Pinterest can be a time waster.  And can make us discontent.  And make us spend money or go trash picking for things we may not need.

But I have thoroughly enjoyed Pinterest as it has awakened a creative side in me that has been dormant for years and I’m having so much fun planning a summer full of projects for myself and the girls.  🙂

A few weeks ago I did a couple of projects.  The first one was this one:

We’ve had a lot of fun with our free-form Scrabble board.  Here’s how I made mine:

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I started with a large black frame that had been sitting in our basement for a few years. It was a cheaper one, with just a plastic sheet in place of the glass, but the frame was a decent wood construction.  It measures 24×36.  In the original board, Kim @ The Twice Remembered Cottage used sheet metal on plywood.  I planned to do this, but the hubs was a little busy at this time and I don’t know how to turn on the saw let alone actually cut something, so I improvised.  (And was pretty pleased with myself.  🙂 )  I found at WalMart a 24×36 magnetic white board.  I’m guessing if one was patient enough, you could find one of these inexpensively on Craig’s List or at a yard sale.  I was ready to do this thing, so I paid full price, by far my greatest expense at $19.99.  I also used some plain white computer paper (which I ended up not needing), a bottle of Elmer’s glue, a bottle of ModPodge, a hot glue gun, an old dictionary, and some old-looking parchment paper.

I laid the white board out on the counter and smeared it with Elmer’s glue.

I then covered the board with white printer paper.  This step ended up being superfluous, but for some reason I thought it would be necessary, so here it is.

Now, Kim @ The Twice Remembered Cottage tore pages out of a dictionary for her board.  I don’t know if it is the book lover in me or something else, but I just could not bring myself to tear pages out of a dictionary.  Nor could I bring myself to buy one just for the sake of tearing pages out of it.  So, we have a great old dictionary here and we happened to have some old-looking parchment paper and a copier.  I opted to copy the letter pages out of the dictionary and then tear the edges to give that old, rustic look.  I then mod-podged the pages onto the white board.  I began by taking some of the text-only pages and doing a first layer, then I went over it in a methodical but messy looking way with the letter pages, making sure some of my favorite entry illustrations showed on the finished board.

Grace being cheesy as I make my board followed by a blurry shot of me at work taken by one of the girls. 

Now somewhere in the midst of all this we had the exciting experience of our smoke detector going off as my dear husband was serving us by making dinner (steak in the oven – I don’t recommend it).  This is the smoke detector linked to our alarm system.  The one that calls the fire department if you don’t answer the alarm company’s call.  The call that went to a phone number we no longer have (even though I had requested it be changed) and then to Matt’s phone that was dead and then to my parents and our house sitter and possibly Matt’s parents too, though I don’t recall hearing from them in the midst of all this.  So we got to visit with our neighborhood firemen.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) it wasn’t my brother’s crew and they insisted on coming in and checking things out.  Needless to say, I probably wasn’t as gracious and polite as I should have been and may have been a little jittery for the rest of the evening.

Nonetheless, I persevered and finished my board!

And now it hangs near my desk.  I attached the white board to the frame with hot glue and let it dry.  I used the Scrabble tiles from our personal game and a friend gave me an extra game that they had laying around.  I need to get one more set of Scrabble tiles, but it’s plenty of fun with two sets.  I bought a lot (as in a literal “lot”, not just “many”) of super-strong “earth” magnets on eBay.  This was my second significant expense, though I don’t recall just how much it ended up being, but it was less than the cost of the white board and I have magnets to spare.  I attached the magnets with a strong craft glue.

I am not a perfectionist by any stretch of the imagination.  There are some bubbles and imperfections in my board.  I should have taken more time applying the ModPodge to my dictionary pages, but I was too busy trying to calm down after our visit with the fire department.  That, and I’m not a perfectionist.  😉 The nice thing about having copied the dictionary pages is that if the bubbles ever bother me enough, I can easily recreate the board.  No one here seems to mind the imperfections and the board makes me smile pretty much every time I see it.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara