Monday, February 5, 2018

Can You Really Enjoy Leisure Activities When You Have Little Ones?

There has been one question that I have been asked by many people throughout the years and I thought I'd share it and my thoughts about it.

"How do you actually have the time to decorate your home with young kids at home?"

Sometimes the question is followed by a remark like, "I hardly have time to do anything leisurely with little ones at home so I'm not sure how you find the time" or "you must not be home much if you're house looks and stays this clean."

I remember the last time I heard this question and other comments of the like. Granted, it was a few months ago, but for some reason, it stung a bit. Why? Because I took offense to it and there was no need for me to have done so. I guess I thought that the person was saying I shouldn't have time to do other things I love because I have little ones at home. I'm learning, though, that these kinds of remarks don't necessarily mean harm. And honestly, it's helped that Joanna Gaines has come onto the scene (HGTV) being a mom of 4 little ones who loves to decorate. ;)

And that is where I am at with all of this right now. We all are gifted in various things. God has allowed us to serve him using our gifts and that is a wonderful thing! So let me start off by sharing some examples of other moms who are gifted differently than I and use their gifts to serve others well.

For example, I know a few moms who work outside the home in jobs that require them to be away from their families 40 hours a week. Not only do they have small children, but they also manage their time well so they can work and spend quality time with their family. I'd guess that these ladies are gifted in time management (among other things), and they do it well.

There's another mom I know of that spends 45 minutes A DAY exercising (running and/or lifting weights). She's got 2 small kids, 3 years old and under. She runs a successful blog about her fitness regime as well and helps other moms stay fit and healthy.
Now, I can look at that mom and say, "How does she do it? I wish I could, but I know I can't. And besides, there's no way I could make time for that..." grumble, grumble...
But listen, I know better than to think like that. The truth is, I could make time for daily exercise, but it's just not a priority. She has chosen to dedicate time out of her day for it and she does it well.

A couple of other ladies I know absolutely love to cook and bake. A few moms I know can whip up some mean cupcakes that not only look like they were bought at some high end bakery, but they taste delicious too! These ladies bake multiple times a week for church events, neighborhood friends, and even birthday parties. Again, it would be easy to say, "psh...there's no way she has time for that while being a good mom who spends time with her kids. That's impossible." But again, it's not. They are just simply gifted to serve and be hospitable and I believe they do it well.

Some moms are great at keeping track of every milestone and memory their kids do/make and they even manage to scrapbook it all. There was a time I did that when I had just one child, but that's just not something I've made a ton of time for now that I have three kids. And again, that is fine. Why beat yourself up over what someone else is gifted at or how they choose to spend their time? 

I could share more examples, but you get the idea.

To get back to the original question at the beginning of this post, here is how I have been able to find time to do what I love all while being a mom who loves her family very much and yes, does spend quality time with them. Here is what has helped along the way to allow me to be creative in our home.

#1. I usually decorate and write blog posts once my kids are in bed for the night.

This is usually the time where I can get some big projects done. Rather than lounging on the couch watching some TV (nothing wrong with that by the way), I'd rather spend that time creating things for my home or for other people. I probably do this 2 times a week at night and maybe spend an hour doing that. May not sound like a lot of time, but it.adds.up especially if you do that over the course of a couple of years!

#2. I have a handy hubby who likes to help.

This point pretty much speaks for itself. Just over the weekend, I wanted to move a dresser that we had down stairs to our son's bedroom upstairs. Our kids were playing in the play room together so I knew I had about 30 minutes to do something. After removing the drawers from the dresser, my husband helped me move the dresser up the stairs to the boy's room. Having a helping hand does get things moving quicker.

#3. I clean up/pick up things with my kids throughout the day when we stay home and play.

Now, this necessarily isn't a leisure activity, but if it's a struggle, I believe you can find a way to work through it and not make excuses.
I have a close friend who has told me she struggles with organizing. She claims there isn't a lot of time to do anything about it. But I don't believe that lie, nor should you. If you work on organizing even just a small pile of papers, for example, a few times a week, that's better than doing nothing about it at all, in my opinion. And trust me, that time does add up! It may take time and practice, but if you do it regularly enough, it almost becomes second nature.

#4. Do your kids watch TV??

Even just a little? I believe most kids we know watch a little bit of TV a few days out of the week. If your family doesn't, than I sincerely applaud you. And I mean for real. ;)
For us, our kiddos usually watch either early in the morning or after dinner. Sometimes, I am able to work on a project for a little bit while they are entertained by a movie. This isn't a common way for me to get things done around the house nowadays, but you can get something productive done in that time period if you choose to do so.

#5. Nap time or kid's quiet time

We are moving past this stage in life, but back when my kids were younger they took long naps. I remember when I had my first born and she would frequently take naps for 2 or 3 hours a day. It was glorious and allowed me to get things done. In fact, I painted our entire family room and entryway in that time period during one of her naps years ago. Other times, I chose to nap instead of doing a project. ;)

So again, you can definitely find the time to do things you enjoy. Maybe it just takes dedication or practice, but it can be done. You just got to get up and do it!

I will end with these last thoughts:
There might be some moms out there that don't mind the messy house...and I'm not here to judge on that. We are all gifted at different things and we can choose to glorify God with our different gifts. When we work hard using our gifts, we should thank God for being glorified through it all. I believe we should also pray for our gifts to be known so we can glorify Him and serve others well.

My family and I can be a bit of a mess, but how awesome to have a God who makes up for all that we lack! He promises beauty for our ashes and grace for today. How wonderful is that?

So the next time you hear a whisper in your ear saying, "you can't do it" or "you don't have time for something like that", don't believe the lie. And don't compare yourself to other moms. It's easy to do (and I've done it plenty), but God made us to each serve a purpose to glorify Him. Remember that.

And because it's Valentine's Day, here are a couple photos to share:

A before and after- kiddos admiring the candy from a "distance" and then eating a lot of it after dinner. ;)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Repose Gray in the Play Room (plus many other pictures of this fun space)

In one of my recent posts, I shared some paint samples that went up in our playroom. I was testing out a few colors and thought surely one of them would be the clear winner. Well, that just wasn't the case.

Instead of buying more samples, I decided it would be better to just go with a neutral light gray we used in our last home (in our master bedroom.)
I remember loving that color a lot and thinking, "I bet it would work with our blue carpet in the play room. So instead of waffling back and forth about it (which I do too often), I decided to head to Sherwin Williams one day last week and get a gallon of Repose Gray. It was definitely the right choice!!

I will start by sharing some pictures of the painting process and even share a "new-to-me" tool I used to help get this painting job done quicker. 
(Side note: these next couple of photos were taken at night, so they are grainy and dark). 

In the last two photos you probably noticed some snazzy wallpaper border going up around the room. ;)
Yea, I decided to just paint over it (more on that later). After doing so, some of the wallpaper started to bubble up under the paint (fun times!) so my hubby was able to scrape off a lot of it making it less noticeable. Thanks, babe!!

I decided to paint the walls with this type of roller pad instead of the round rollers because it advertised itself as being a "quicker and easier" way to paint. To my surprise, it was quicker and easier to use it! I'd recommend looks like a paint edger, but it's a paint pad and even does a good job edging borders near the ceiling. :) And with the high ceilings in this room, that was very, very helpful.
We bought ours at Lowe's. 

The mess before it can all be brought back together...

Here is some of the wallpaper we were able to get down.

It's funny how during this process of trying to remove the paper border brought back some memories...
Before we moved into this house, we were told that all of the wallpaper in each room would be removed. I remember even double checking on that because we knew how much work that would be for us to have to do ourselves. We were reassured it would be taken care of. 
Well, by looking at these pictures you can see that that didn't exactly happen. ;)

Have you ever tried taking down wallpaper? Talk about an arm workout! Phew! 
After removing it in several areas of our home, I just decided it was way too much work to get it all down, so I painted right over it in here. There are some good blog posts on how to do this so I figured why not give it a try. In my husband's office (when the time comes to tackle that room), we will try and do it right and take it all out. His office is covered top to bottom in ducks and stripes so it will be coming down at some point. Ha!

Anyways, I guess I'm sharing all of that to encourage folks who are moving to make sure you get in writing whatever it is you are told will happen and want done. Otherwise, it's probably not going to happen unfortunately. 

Whew! Now that that's over, here are some pictures of this fun space finally finished!!

This stairwell has been a wonderful spot to display the art work our kid's want to keep.

We made a magnet board for the kids using a thin galvanized metal sheet.. I purchased ours at Lowe's, but a friend told me she bought hers at Wal-Mart in the auto section. I believe hers was a metal oil drip pan which is different than what we have...but either works for magnets!
The only thing I would say is that with the thinner metal sheet, because the edges are a bit sharp, you are going to want to tape around them making a border so little hands/fingers don't get hurt. I used a few layers of electrical tape to put around ours.

We decided to use chalkboard paint on this entire wall. It ended up working out because I ran out of our gallon of SW Repose Gray. Ha!
It's a fun area for the kids and their friends to use.

My daughter wanted her preschool alphabet letters to be displayed and the chalkboard wall makes a good background for it.

I also shared a post here about our train table. We love the storage it provides underneath for those extra tracks and pieces!

I have accumulated a lot of kids books over the last 10 years (some are from my teaching days) and thought it would be fun to have a reading corner for the kids. The bookshelves were made using rain gutters.  If you're looking for an inexpensive and unique way to display children's books, this is a great option.
I also added a shelf (thrift store find) for their Play-Doh and accessories as well as a storage cube for more toys.

The craft table/area is next to the large window which is a great spot for our girls to create things. :)
If you're looking for inexpensive furniture, thrift stores are great places to shop. Our craft table, chairs, wooden shelf, and shelf/dresser shown in the photo below were all purchased at the thrift store. 

The Lego area was relocated (surprise!) to this little area next to the playroom. I like having the Lego desks next to this window. The amount of sunlight that floods into this little room is great for working and our kids enjoy spending time here.
The wall paint color is the same green we used to paint our son's closet doors.

And I turned this little corner in here into the dress-up area...complete with a map of the US. Ha!
It's fun watching my kids try to find where family and friends live on the map. Because of the scale, all the states don't look too far away from each other. They use to think Florida wasn't very far from Virginia because on the map it looks like an easy trip to make. But when we drove there last month, they started to understand this concept we've been teaching them about drawing things to scale.

Of course this wouldn't be a good play room if our kid's didn't use it so of course I'll end with a couple pictures of our boy and his train table...

                                                          Just look at that focus. Ha!

and our girls using the Lego room...

Sisters <3 May they always have this close bond with one another.

That's it for this space. We love having it and are thankful for the moments spent in it. We know our kids will enjoy it for many years to come and that makes all the hard work worth it!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Our Train Table (and what we used to build one)

I wanted to pop in to share a quick post about how we built our train table.

To make this a little short, we basically followed these instructions here and made a few adjustments as needed.
This site was VERY helpful and even lists step-by-step instructions on how to make a train table. We found it very helpful, so I'm not going to type up every detail of how we made ours, but I will share our dimensions and some pictures. :)

My hubby did the big cuts while I used a jigsaw to shorten the legs of the table a bit. Our train table measures as follows:

50" long
38" wide
23" high

I still have to paint the shelf that my hubby added to it (it's great for extra storage) as well as the sides. But here are some pictures of the finished product!

This boy spends a lot of his waking hours playing with it...he is obsessed with trains! Like to the max! 
And he doesn't sing too much, but when he does, you can bet it's the Thomas theme song. :) over...and over...and over again. Sometime he asks us to sing it so he can loop his trains round and around the tracks. Ha!

The cost to make this came in at about $50. We didn't use the most expensive wood so that did help keep costs down, but you can use pretty much any good pine wood for this project and it does just fine. I did have to sand some areas because of this, but it was worth it!