Friday, May 30, 2008

Regarding choices

I read a series of posts from this blog recently regarding choices. Her words have sent my thoughts and prayers whirling. I have been asking myself and the Lord the same question, "Am I enjoying my portion and my cup?" I am experiencing that deep down conviction, the painful kind, that can so easily be mistaken for condemnation. But no, it is conviction; gentle and warm, from the hand of the Father. And it urges me to call out my sin, ask forgiveness, and be restored to Him. (Romans 8:1-2 "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.")

This year has been wonderful for our family in many ways. My husband and I have been blessed with a vibrant, growing church. We have been able to serve and be spiritually fed in vast amounts. Our marriage is solid. Our children are healthy and growing. We are comfortable financially, really quite wealthy according to the world's standards. (Proverbs 30:7-9 "Make me neither rich nor poor, but give me my daily bread.") And we both seem to be carving out time for things that fulfill us. We are beginning to see God's timing come to pass on our deepest dreams. So why the struggle? Why the fight for joy, still?

I am realizing that every season will be marked with battle (Ephesians 6:11). There will always be something to fear, something to lose, something to doubt. Even in plenty and health, it always looms. For now, I am struggling through toddlerhood with Lydie. The whining and testing are much more demanding than I anticipated. Every day, every moment that she is awake, she is in need. Am I joyfully welcoming this challenge as from the hand of God, marked out for me and for her? Or am I reacting more like the Israelites in Exodus that complained and became faithless every time it was hard to follow God. Remember when Moses pleaded to the Lord, "What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me." (Exodus 17:4)

We also have a big move waiting for us in a year and a half or so (future home site above). What will my attitude be as we prepare? Will I be fearful, rebellious against my husband's authority, worried, and doubtful? Will I be counselled by my fears or by the Spirit of God? Again, am I enjoying what is filling my cup? I know it is being poured out by the very One that graciously died to save me. Will I enjoy what He has chosen for me? Will I trust the uncomfortable, unfamiliar path that is marked for me? The choice is simply up to me. By God's grace, I can choose, no fight for, joy and find it and it can be good. (Proverbs 3:5-6, 4:25-27)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Our mascots

This little guy is our new friend. He and his girlfriend hop around our front yard and munch on our grass every day. We were going to name our little friend Peter (Rabbit), but we didn't have the heart. He is so thoughtful to leave our garden alone. We laugh at the little rabbits in our neighborhood. They are smart little creatures. They know that we are the only family that does not pay for our yard to be fertilized, and they love us for it! Weeds must be a bunny's favorite staple.
This little guy is particularly outgoing. He will let my kids get about ten feet away from him. The kids are determined to leave carrots, lettuce and water out for the bunnies at night. But I think their diet will hold them over just fine.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Project complete

I finished my wall collage and I love it! But...I can't share it until I figure out how to blur our names. But I can share my final, finishing touch to pull the family room together.
It's funny how a little thing like a rug's beauty can make you feel good. Here's the rest of the room. Now, I am DONE!
Moving on...this weekend I painted our play/school room. Normally I only like one room on my plate at a time, but the Memorial day holiday offered me a day to paint with my husband watching the children, as opposed to painting at night after they are asleep. Decorating this room is my big project for the summer. It will be a challenge because we are storing a baby grand piano in the room, which takes up a big chunk of the space and is a bit hard to work around. But, I am hoping to have an area for Lydie's toys, the boys' toys and our school room. Here's a hint at what the room will look like...

(middle column, third down).

Monday, May 26, 2008


Our baby girl is quite the talker. Although she has grown in every area, her verbal skills are what stands out from the last few months. She is putting together words regularly. She asked her first full question last week, "Whe did Daddy go?" She also asks, "Is dat Ja-see?" and other short questions. And yesterday she began stringing longer sentences like, "Go dow swide". But sometimes she stills speaks in jargon, which is adorable. I love it when babies go on and on with hand gestures and head nods, just babbling away. I hope she doesn't drop her baby language any time soon. And best of all, she tells me every day, "I shove shoo, Mommy" with a big bear hug. Thank goodness she is so adorable, because her strong will and high energy level are completely exhausting!

Of course, the down side to her talkative personality is that she sometimes looks bratty compared to other toddlers (this is just my opinion, her nursery sitters as church always sing her praises). For example, there is a little girl that is seven days younger. When you ask her a question like, "Do you like animal crackers?" , she stares at you blankly or moves on about her playing. Lydie, on the other hand, will respond almost always with a "No!", just because she can. Or, if she is especially sassy that day she might say, "No, I no dat!" And her facial expressions are very...expressive. So I have been trying to teach her to say, "No, thank you." but it sounds like, "No, tink twou." You would not believe the discipline involved to have her say, "Yes, ma'm" when I ask her to do something instead of "No!". But unfortunately for her, I am just as stubborn as she is and I always win the battles I choose with her! :) So, there you have it, the pros and cons of a verbal little toddler. I can only imagine what challenges and joys we will face between the ages of 2 and 3! Even though she is normally involved in the biggest challenges of my day, I absolutely adore her!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Toot's progress report

The school year is over for Toot. He will be in kindergarten this fall. I have loved having him at home this year! Even though our schedule has been not as regimented as I would like, by God's grace, he has learned so much! A few of his accomplishments this year are:
-he received Christ as His Savior, fulfilling my biggest hopes and dreams for him!
-he has learned to read very well, reading most picture books fluently and at a normal speed
-he has developed (with mom's strong encouragement) the habit of doing chores
-he has become much more independent, taking care of his own teeth, hair, bathing, and gets his own drinks and snacks
-he has learned to enjoy his bike (training wheels still needed)
-he has learned that math is his favorite subject and can never, never get enough
-he has learned to enjoy the outdoors and play for hours on end in the woods and backyard
-he draws almost every day
-he is writing stories in sentences with a beginning, middle and end
-he has found that he really enjoys sports and played his second season of tee ball
-he got his first game ball at his last game...MVP with all four grandparents there to watch
-he has made his first set of "best friends"- 3boys and 1 girl -that he played with every Thursday (he is the second from the left, with the Indian* Jones hat on, of course)
This has been a great year! I can't believe my baby will be school age this year. It is a joy to share life with this little guy!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Summer love

The last day of school (field day)

Buzz cuts

Daddy has the pool open for the summer and today was our first day to try it out
The heat is often unbearable in the south. But even so, the summer is my favorite season during this stage in my life. I mean to say, I love what summer brings for our family. I have a friend that always dreads the summer time. Here's a list of my favorite things that we do most often in the summer. I love cooking out with friends, swimming, playing in the sprinkler and hose, fresh veggies from our garden, lots of colorful flowers around the yard, amusement parks, trips to the beach, catching "lightning bugs", sidewalk chalk and outdoor paint, movies in the park, fireworks, popsicles, outdoor concerts, more trips to see family, and more date nights with my husband. I can't believe it's already here! What's not to love!?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Belated Mother's day?!

I'm finally back! I think our information will be able to be saved from our old hard drive, but we had to send it off to another computer guy. At least I have my computer fixed! So many things have happened in our little family over the past couple of weeks. But for tonight, I'll post some very belated Mother's day pictures. We had a great weekend with family.Funny thing, our only picture with my husband's mom is with me...

and our only picture of my mom is with my husband. We were so thankful to be able to celebrate with them both. Happy Mother's day, Mimi and Nana! Thanks for loving us so well!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bad news

We came home on Sunday from celebrating Mother's day to find our computer...broken. The hard drive would not work at all. Our friend is working on it, but he says "it doesn't look good". Y'all, if he can not fix my computer it will be so devastating! I have three years of poetry, homeschool research, newsletter articles, and so much more saved only on that hard drive! And this is the worst part...ALL of my digital photographs from the last two and a half years are saved ONLY on that hard drive! I have not had any of them developed or burned on to cds! The only pictures I will have of our family are my pictures from this blog. Please pray for my computer. It looks so silly to type, but I can not bear the thought of losing all of those memories! I'll update when I hear the news.

Friday, May 09, 2008

My mother's day gift

I am so excited! Here's a picture of what I just found on etsy:Of course, the names will be different, and mine will have brown script, but I think this wall decal will look great in the middle of my picture collage. So my project has come to a hault until my order comes in. I can't wait! I have loved from afar, and this is my first chance to place an order there. Go look and enjoy! It is a great website full of home made items by lots of talented ladies!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Spa time with my girl

Spa morning- April 2007
Spa morning- May 2008

There was no project time around here today. But even better, Lydie and I had a spa morning. I found the picture above from the first time we had a little dress-up time together. What can I say? Girlfriend loves make-up! With Jaybird at school and Toot at a friend's house, we had the entire morning to be girls together. First, we donned endless amounts of lotion. Lydie is obsessed with lotion. She laughs with glee when I get out the bottle. I tried a sunless tanning lotion today. I'm not big on these types of lotions, but I do not want my legs to blind innocent bystanders.
Next, we decided to focus on our feet. She and I got a lotion rub down. And I got toe nail polish. She begged and screamed and cried for her toe nails to be painted. But alas, Daddy threatened me if I painted her little 19 month old, small as can be, toenails. My girl has the smallest, most adorable feet ever. She still wears a size 3! So we'll have to hold off on the polish. Maybe when you're a little bigger, baby girl.
Then Lydie and I put on make-up together. And she let me try pigtails on her hair, which obviously was not happening. So we settled for a red bow. I should just be thankful that bows have some peach fuzz to grab on to. And lastly, her watchful eye studied the curling iron as I took time to curl my hair. Normally, I wash, dry and go. But honestly, I need a hair cut so badly that I am embarrassed of my split ends, thus the curling.
After two and a half hours of pampering, we had thirty extra minutes before we needed to pick up our boys. So we spent half an hour in the book store. I never went into a book store for pleasure when the boys were babies for fear that they would pull out every book on the shelf. But despite Lydie's wild spirit, she respects the books and seems to enjoy the feel of the bookstore and library as much as I do. What a marvelous morning!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Wall collage

Every day I ask the boys to spend one hour outside and thirty minutes reading quietly while the baby is napping. Sometimes they play outside longer if the weather is nice. During this time of day, I rush to do my "chores" and then work on a little project. These projects keep me sane, somehow.
Today's project: photo collage on the family wall. I didn't get far, but it was fulfilling just the same.I only hung two things on the wall. But I like the way they turned out.
I took a regular black frame and glued red and white ticking fabric to the mat. I needed a subtle punch of color.

I found this little shelf at a yard sale last week. It was only $2.50. I took some scrap fabric and tacked it to the back. I am a sucker for toile! I think this little shelf will be the highlight of the collage for me. And it is a great place to put all of these little frames that were cluttering our bookshelf!
If time permits tomorrow, I will try to add three more frames and order a black and white picture for the frame above. With little ones, everything in life is a p-r-o-c-e-s-s!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Brown paper packages tied up with strings

...these are a few of my favorite things! Do you find that this time of year is crazy with gift-giving? There seem to be endless holidays, birthdays and special occasions. Personally, we had two birthday presents, three Mother's Day presents, and three presents for events at school to buy...all this week! I want to spend, spend, spend, but we can not afford to do that right now. (Have you seen the gas prices lately?) Here's an example of a less expensive alternative to packaging presents. You may like it, you may think it is tacky. But there is nothing more discouraging than finding the perfect gift, at the perfect price, and then spending $5 to wrap it!

This gift is for the secretary at Jackson's school. She has been there for at least a decade and this is her last year. So tomorrow the school is honoring her at the spring musical. I decided that I needed a gift for $5, packaging and all! I found these kitchen towels on sale at Kohl's for $2.99. The wrapping was free from my art closet. (Wow, I guess I actually came in under budget!) I took a simple brown lunch bag, embellished with a bird stamp, and tied it together with ribbon left over from a sewing project. I made a home-made card with scrapbook paper. Cut it in a small rectangle, trim two corners, punch a hole at the top and you have a tag.It looks funny in the final picture because I was trying to cover our name, but you get the picture. (No pun intended.) Hope you all find good bargains this spring, too!

Monday, May 05, 2008

My measly decorating advice

Room color
My friend emailed and asked about advice with choosing a paint color. I would consider three things:
1.Function-What is the function of the room? How often are you in the room? I always pick a neutral color for our family room, for example, because we are in that room the most. I want to be able to change the accent pieces frequently because I get bored with that room quickly. It is easier to have a neutral paint color that will match many different accent colors in "well-loved" rooms.
2.Mood-What type of mood are you trying to create? Warm and inviting. Cool and relaxing. Bright and cheerful. Playful. The color has a pretty powerful affect on mood.
3.Lighting-Look at paint swatches in the sunlight, especially yellows, reds and browns. (Bigger rooms with more windows are obviously more appropriate for darker colors.) Don't trust the neon lights in the store!
*Just for the record, I buy cheap paint. I know a decorator would frown on my paint choice. But I have fallen for Wal-Mart paint. I have used it in two rooms and loved the quality and finished product. Both my bedroom and family room are Wal-Mart's brand. Their paint costs around $11.50 per gallon. If you want higher quality, Behr has seasonal sales at Home Depot. For example, we bought $250 worth of paint when we built our last house. We shopped during July 4rth weekend and received a 50% rebate. We painted our entire house for $125. Also, check out the paint's website for coupons.

How to get started
Another friend asked me how to make a house look more like a home.
-I always decorate my kitchen and bedrooms first. Then I work my way down to the bathrooms. In this house, our playroom and bathrooms are the last rooms on my list that need a personal touch. With three little ones, it has taken me two years to paint and decorate the other rooms.
-Pick an inspiration for the room. I usually choose a painting, but it could also be a rug, clock, or anything you love. In my kitchen it was a platter. Draw out your accent colors from this piece.
-Buy your paint and paint first.
-Accent pieces may tell a story. On my mantel, there is symbolism in each item that I have chosen. Bundle of grass-gardening/outdoors/my husband's dreams, books-learning and reading, pitcher and bowls-family meals, etc. Or your decor may just represent things that you find interesting or lovely. If you have the time, enjoy the process and pick up little things here and there that have meaning. I love to go to thrift stores and yard sales for these types of items.
-Pictures- I include pictures of our family in almost every room. It is completely unnecessary, but it makes me happy.
-Creativity- If you enjoy creating your own artwork, don't be shy. It's frugal and "home-made" is in! Or you may like home-made, but not your own. Check out
-Remember that the center of a piece of art should be at eye-level. There is nothing worse than having to stoop or crane your neck to enjoy something that is meant to be a focal point.
-Display things with symmetry and balance in mind. But at the same time, don't try to be too matchy. If you are confused about how to display accent pieces, just look in a Cottage Living or Southern Living or any other interesting decorating magazine. There will be plenty of examples.
-This leads to my next suggestion...don't be afraid to look for inspiration in magazines or other blogs. Cut out and save the decorating ideas that you like in a folder or file. I began doing this when we were searching for our first home nine years ago. You will begin to see a common thread and your decorating style will be revealed. Then when you have the time to decorate a room you will have plenty of ideas from which to be inspired. Imitation is the biggest form of flattery! Many a wall in my house is a reproduction of someone else's creativity. You don't have to be an artist to have a home that you enjoy!

The Silhouettes
Some have asked for instructions for creating silhouettes. They really are easy. The hardest part for me was getting a good profile picture! The rest was simple. Look here for more information.

Happy decorating!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Our "new" family room

Project complete! Last night we had a bit of an ordeal painting our family room. We can not paint these days until the children are in bed because of our active toddler. So, we opened the paint at 8:30 and I decided that the color would not do. It reminded me of the shade of my "pancake make-up" that I wore on stage in ballet. The brown was so awful. So I had to make a trip to the paint store. I returned at 10:00 with the loveliest shade of tan. But...this time we loved the color, loved the way it complemented our furniture, but hated the way the robin's egg blue accents looked with it. So, I had to make a plan B. I was N-O-T going back to the paint store. And I was determined to complete the room. So I found a new inspiration piece and replaced the blue accents with red. Let me forewarn, these pictures are terrible. I had a crying baby on my hip, so I had to move quickly! Here's my inspiration:(the colors are much more vibrant without the flash of the camera)I fell in love with this painting in Jackson Hole last year and my Dad bought it for me and had it shipped to our house. So it is very special to me and I am so glad to hang it where I will look at it often.

I had to repaint my frame red. Here's what it looks like above the mantel with some other new accessories. Although I will probably play with the way our mantel looks over the next few weeks, I love the way it turned out.Here's that entire wall (this paint color is more true to form. I took this pic during the day without a flash):

My silhouettes found the perfect home on the adjacent wall. This wall has two windows with our armoire in the middle, so this little wall space was perfect.Aren't the little hangers cute that I found for the ribbon at Target? Here's what I put in the wall space at the other end of the wall.Here's the other wall. (taken at night with a flash)And this wall is blank.
I am creating a unique collage of pictures and other little wall hangings. This wall will be a work in progress over the next couple of weeks. I pulled those little red accent pillows out of the linen closet. I am so glad that I did not get rid of them!
Voile, our new family room. I only spent about $50 on this room (not including the sofa). I had everything I needed except the white platter, a stamp for the platter, paint, and some hooks. For those of you that have asked, not including the two trips to the store, this room took about 6 hours to pull together. That includes painting, making the art work, rearranging and hanging. But I'm sure I spent several hours over the past couple of months creating a vision in my mind, as well.
A few of you have asked me specific decorating questions. I am not sure that I am the best source. But I do have a lot to say! I love personalizing our home. I will try to create a post with answers to specific questions later this week!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Great movie suggestion

Unfortunately, Lydie came down with a fever last night and I was too pooped to paint. But today we patched the nail holes and taped the molding during her nap. It was a way to trap myself into commiting for tonight. So we are about to get the kidsl in bed and get started. My hubs is on board with me, so we should knock it out early tonight. I will not know what to do with myself if I start and finish a painting project before midnight! I will post pictures tomorrow. Still deciding on the perfect spot for the silhouettes!On a side note, Thursday night we stole away a few hours to be alone on a date. We saw the most thought-provoking movie I have seen in a long time. Please go see it! And if you have children that are 12 and older, it would be a shame not to take them. We saved dinner for after the movie. Instead of doing our usual discipleship date (How is your walk with the Lord? How can I help? What are your struggles/triumphs?), we chatted about the movie. It was really powerful. Especially for us, as Andy is a scientist. So go on and spend the money on this's worth it!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Stirring the creative juices

Today is project day. It's a day where I do minimal housework and try to finish an art project. I have been wanting to mimic Heidi's silhouettes for a long time. We are painting our family room tomorrow night and between the paint and the new sofa, I am feeling inspired to use a new color scheme altogether. I painted our brick fireplace in September and I chose one shade lighter for the walls (the bottom half of the walls has white wood). The picture below of the blue frame shows the color of the fireplace. So, now 8 months later, I am getting around to the family room again. I am changing the color on the walls from cream to tan, and using yellow, robin's egg blue and white as accent colors.
My inspiration:(I got this painting for hosting a Southern Living Home party a couple of years ago. I wish I could say that I am the artist.)

My finished art project from today:

Here are some things that will adorn the mantel:
I have been stirring all of my creative juices and coming up short in decorating ideas for this room. So, again, I am using Heidi's ideas...thanks, Heidi!
Hopefully, there will be a finished room by Saturday morning!