October Beach Day 137

So, when the weather forecast predicts a day of 90 degrees, at the end of October, and you live within one hour of the ocean, what is the only logical way to spend that day? The obvious answer is, of course, go to the ocean!

Plus, it was time to get out of the house. Our remodel project has been keeping us busy, the house is perpetually dirty even when I try to stay on top of it daily, and we just needed to relax.

That’s what we did on Monday. It was a glorious day – no humidity (which is extremely rare), bright sunshine with not a cloud in the sky, and yes, 90 degrees.

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You know, when I see all kinds of bright autumn leaves and cozy scarves and brown boots and mittened hands – all in pictures on places far far away – I think it all looks so wonderful. And I do get a little envious sometimes. I miss the four seasons here.

But! The only good thing to do is to make the best of a situation. And so we did. Swimwear and barefeet instead of boots and sweaters. :)

I had a photoshoot idea in my head since the beginning of the year, inspired by an image from Darling Magazine, and all summer, even with many trips to the ocean, it just didn’t happen. This day I decided we’ll do it. I wanted it very simple – simple outfits, barefeet, not even accessories like headbands or bows. Just the ocean, colorful balloons, and outfits the kids have worn (almost every Sunday) all summer long.

I don’t even pretend to be a pro at the camera, and the bright sunshine in the middle of the day was a big stretch for me. I didn’t know until I got home if they’d work or not. Thankfully, they are okay. A little blown out to my critical eye, I would love to see more ocean in the picture – I’ll work on that next time.

But I love that it captures my kids right now – at ages 2, 5, and 7. It captures their personalities, their stances, their faces and impish grins. Ten minutes was all I could get out of them – because seriously, who wants to go the beach and take pictures? No one but their mother, obviously. I laugh when people say things about my kids being photogenic – because they don’t like to pose for the camera. It was a process as fast as possible, with me following them around for ten minutes, with promises of Chic-Fil-A milkshakes afterwards. :)

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Whoever made the statement about “terrible two’s” must have been a sad, lonely person. I absolutely LOVE two year olds. If I could have a favorite age, I think this would be it. Still so much baby, but growing up so fast. Still a toddler, but becoming so aware of the world. He’s trying to say new words and getting them out all wrong but I just want to MUSH him, he’s so adorable. He and I spend a lot of time together these days, with the girls doing their school studies, and I love it. He’s my little buddy.

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 And five year olds? Whoever knew they could be such sweetness? And that at this tender age they could hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to them and they respond to it to where the rest of the family notices? This girl is spirit and life and joy and color!

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And seven year olds. Who knew they could think so deeply, care so deeply, and already plan to be a missionary on the other side of the world? This girl is depth and understanding and sensitivity.

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There is such incredible joy at being a parent.
It is one of THE most wonderful things I’ve ever been given in my life.
It’s also one of THE hardest things I’ve ever been given.

As my husband and I look at these three children born to us, we often wonderful how we ever were so blessed. Three healthy beautiful children. Children who teach us so much, maybe even more than we teach them. Children who demonstrate such faith and trust that it puts us to shame. Little tiny people who are living souls, who will live for all eternity, and they’ve been given to us, to love, to teach, to lead to Jesus. The privilege is so beautiful, so great, so incredible. The job is daily too large for us, and I think it’s supposed to be like that – so that we continually realize our desperate need for Jesus in the middle of it. But there is no place I’d rather be, than right here, caring for these precious little children.

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A few weekend links for you to follow…

  • Leslie Ludy has a beautiful new website that launched just this summer,
    called Set Apart Motherhood. Each week new content is delivered to my inbox, and I’m always excited to read. This week was a good read with the focus on Joyful Mothering, over here.

  • An amazing read for me this summer, recommended by my sister Ervina, has been
    Gospel Powered Parenting, by William P. Farley. If you want a heart-challenging, convicting, deeply encouraging book to read about parenting, this is one of the best. It’s not a how-to book, but a book mostly about the Gospel of Christ, and how that must be in us first before we can represent it to our children. I highly highly recommend it. A little excerpt…

“Parents who joyfully pursue God are contagious. Joyful sacrifice for the gospel is contagious. A gospel that makes parents stable, sincere, joyful, affectionate, and humble is contagious. Children will want a God that produces these qualities.

“On the other hand, parents going through the motions of church, enslaved to rules, serving God to gain his acceptance, tolerating their spouses, or worse, engaging in open warfare, chase their children away from God and his church. When Mom and Dad preach one thing but do the opposite, and don’t repent to their children, it makes the world attractive and the gospel irrelevant…..”

I want to re-read the book again, it’s that good!

  •  This amazing looking breakfast – a Baked Pear Pancake, by Shelley. I can’t wait to buy pears and make it! But don’t take my word for it – go look at the picture and you’ll think the same thing.
  • When you don’t see the whole picture, and don’t know the whole story. This blog and recent post is so touching and beautiful: Navy Blue, Elastic Waist Pants.
  • A study on the book of Ruth, by Kelly Minter. My beloved friend, Ruth, passed away two years ago in October. It’s been a difficult month for me, remembering, sorrowing deeply again. Doing a study on the book of Ruth during the month of her passing was comforting to me, and daily reminded me of two beautiful women named Ruth. This was my first study by Kelly Minter, but I look forward to doing more.

 

 

Also, I just realized this week that my email has been blocking messages from this blog! I’m so very sorry. If you’ve tried to email me and haven’t gotten a response over the past few months, I was not ignoring you, I just didn’t ever see it! The problem is fixed and all is well now, so message away. ;)

Have a great weekend, lovelies!

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Why I tried plexus

Edited to say: My health is a work in progress; health in general is not an over-night fix. But the reason I am so excited about these products is because they are the first thing that has actually helped to restore and rejuvenate my health. Very likely no one on this earth will have perfect 100% health 100% of the time, but I am so thankful to be feeling better than I have in years after several months of Plexus.

Just last week, out of the blue, my husband said, “Your health is SO different than it used to be!” I laughed, because I knew it was true, and was just waiting for him to notice on his own. :)

I’ll be the first to admit that I was a complete skeptic: I thought there was no way this supplement could actually be good for you.  This was BEFORE I really looked into Plexus, and I thought there must be awful ingredients somewhere that would make it harmful to a person’s health! I tend to jump the clear opposite direction of the Latest Greatest Products, because surely they can’t be all they are cracked up to be!

But a friend, who is natural minded, level-headed. :) and who has been helped so much health-wise herself through these products, began telling me about them. If I hadn’t heard through her, I don’t know that I would have tried them, because she is someone I trust and that makes thought-through decisions. Plus, these products are also recommended by the Bulk Herb Store, which is a very reputable place.  I decided the least thing I can do is give it a try because it would either 1) help me! or 2) I’d get all my money back. There was really nothing to lose.

So why did I even want to try it?
Health-wise, I seemed mostly okay.
But my husband and I knew that I was so run-down physically. Having babies and nursing them has been so hard on my body, and after three of these precious kiddos I had almost no energy left. I thought that was just normal with three kids.

I’d wake up in the morning, after sleeping all night (my kids are great sleepers) and still felt like a truck ran over me. I couldn’t wait until nap time, when I could rest again in the afternoon. But often I didn’t get a rest, because it’s hard to line up three little people’s schedules to all be quiet at the very same time for more than a few minutes.

I had adrenal fatigue, which means that anything physically or emotionally or mentally wiped me out. If we’d go away for a weekend or week, I’d come back home and have no energy left for days. Like, NO ENERGY.

I had low blood sugar, where I could see my hands shake from the low sugar levels in my body. If I stood up too fast, I’d have to grab onto something because I’d black out and couldn’t see anything.

I had “mommy brain” – you know, where they talk about your brain leaving with the birth of your babies. It’s also called brain fog in very scientific terms, :) where I couldn’t seem to think clearly, and if I had a busy day I’d feel completely overwhelmed because it would be too much for me to keep up with mentally.

I did not need to lose weight, and did not want to. I know, you can throw the tomatoes. My mom passed down really good genetics to where weight isn’t something I’ve had to struggle with. I run to stay toned because even good genetics don’t keep someone toned and healthy. :) The running made me feel good as far as physically toned, but not with my energy levels, and I knew I needed someone more. But what??

This is the part where I tried Plexus Slim, also known as the Pink Drink. :)

Still fully skeptical, I tried it. With the 60-day money-back guarantee, I thought there was nothing to lose. If it didn’t work, I would get every penny back. If it did help me, then yay, I’d be feeling better!!

60 day gaurantee

It was not an overnight change, because Plexus Slim is not a magic potion. Their products work from the inside out, and as with nearly anything good, it takes time to work. Plexus works at a cellular level, and is loaded with ingredients that  make healthy cells in your body. And healthy cells = healthy you! The Slim is full of all natural products, with nothing in fine print that you don’t want to know about. It’s gluten-free. It’s packed with good products and trace minerals that aren’t instant-magic, but that work with your body to bring full vital health.

  plexus slim ingredients

It was after the first month that I noticed that I began to wake up feeling refreshed. Actually refreshed, to where I’d wake up and feel ready to get out of bed. Get out of town!!! What was happening to me? During the third month of taking the Slim (Pink Drink) is where I started feeling very different, like I was beginning to feel healthy again! It has been YEARS since I felt healthy.

After that first month I had some times where my energy lowered a bit for a week or so as the toxins were being taken out of my body, but then my energy continued climbing again. And I’ve had a few days here and there where I can tell I’m going through another small detoxing phase, but overall my energy is increasing, and I feel better continually.

Now, I don’t even think about a nap during the day, because I don’t need one. I am not wiped out after a weekend or week away, even with late nights. I can return home and feel just fine! My “brain fog” keeps clearing up and I can go through busy days so much better. Again, it is not a miracle product, but it does work with your body to bring optimum health, and I am so thankful!! My husband also started taking the Slim, and he cannot believe the better energy he has. And it’s not because of a caffeine rush! I have not lost weight on the Pink Drink; those I’ve asked about that say that lower-weight people don’t need to worry, because it’s optimally about good health, which brings about a healthy weight.

drink it

plexus pink

This blog is not going to become all about Plexus, but from time to time I may mention it. I just want other women and mothers to know that you can have help for your health! You don’t have to be exhausted and wiped out all the time! If someone has told you about Plexus, I highly recommend that you contact them and try this product! :)

Plexus has helped thousands of people to come to better health – there are countless testimonies of Lyme Disease, yeast/candida issues, high/low blood sugar levels, digestive problems, poor gut health, hormone levels, and so much more being helped!

Other people try Plexus for the weight loss benefits, or the home business aspect.

Do you struggle - ProBio5 provides(2)

I began taking Plexus for my own health benefits, and have now begun selling it as a business. You can purchase through me at my site here, message me through my blog, leave a comment below, or message me on Facebook if you have questions or want more information about it.

I greatly dislike high-pressure salespeople, so this is not about pressure! :) But just to let you know that there is a way to better health if you have been struggling. I’m not paid to advertise here, and if I wasn’t so sold on a product there was no way I could be writing an entire blog post on Plexus! I would have thought myself crazy six months ago. :)

The 60-day money-back guarantee on every single product shows the company’s belief in their products, and also their belief in true health that begins from the inside out, not an instant temporary fix. Here is a little video of the various Plexus products, if you’re interested in learning more.

Benefits of Plexus Slim

  • Safe and effective weight control
  • Helps regulate blood sugars
  • Helps maintain healthy blood pressure
  • Promotes beneficial cholesterol and lipid levels
  • Proven ingredients—including Alpha Lipoic Acid, Chlorogenic Acid, and Garcinia Cambogia—that address all areas of weight loss
  • No meal replacements
  • No shakes
  • Fast and easy
  • Saves you time
  • A simple solution combined with water to help you succeed

 So, whether you try Plexus products or not, here’s cheers for better health, to the glory of God!

signature     how plexus works

  ProBio 5 - Do you suffer from...
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, nutritionist or personal trainer, and if you want an ingredient list or more information to take to your doctor, please contact me! What works for me might not work exactly the same for you (although I certainly hope it does). I’ve given my honest opinions above and hope if anything this will inspire you to make a goal to be in the best health of your life. 

It has been an eventful past five days.
Beginning with a large tree falling in our yard and missing our house by inches, and a trip to the emergency room the very same night (in a completely unrelated incident) when Zoe gashed her head open from her eyebrow to halfway up her forehead and needed stitches… to our vehicle not starting when we got in to go to the ER, to several other smaller incidents. It was quite a day! But we are to thankful to all be okay, and Zoe is healing up well. I think I’m more traumatized than she was!

The next day, we had visitors! Long anticipated visitors! When Zoe had her accident she was so worried that her beloved auntie and uncle wouldn’t be able to come after all. But not to worry, all was well! :)

Chris and Claudia knew we were wanting to begin our attic renovations sometime this fall, and SO KINDLY offered to come and help us! The timing of this week worked well for them and us, and wow, are the boys ever tearing it up up there! Chris is a help so incredible we can’t even describe… taking time off of work to come and help work, but also to help with design ideas and planning. We would be so far behind if it weren’t so him! And Claudia, well, who doesn’t love having a sister around?! It is pure joy!

I’m not sure how detailed I’ll be about blogging and documenting this attic renovation, but for my own record I want to have at least a bit here and there.

So here are a few pictures of before, during, and now, as well as some inspiration pictures of what we have in mind for the finished product…

After only two days of work, the front of our house has changed so much! Two dormers are being added to the front of the house, both for looks and for light inside. I love how it already cozies up the house, and changes it into a Cape Cod style vs. a Bungalow.

adding dormers to the cottage

 

The first day… Monday morning. It began with a saw through the metal roof, making a giant hole. Too late to retreat. Yikes.

a hole in the roof

adding a dormer

The second chimney had to be taken down (see the picture above) because of it’s placement in the middle of a room in the attic. Thankfully, it was not the fireplace we use, so we will still have the looks of the fireplaces downstairs in the kitchen and dining room even though they will not be functional at all.

But back up a bit….

Presently our dear little cottage has only two bedrooms. My previous post talked about how all three kids are in one bedroom, which is great! :) However, we cannot do that forever, and in the long run the house will be valued at more if it has four bedrooms vs. two. So, the plan, begun four years ago in dreams only, was to turn the unused attic space into two more bedrooms. We added a stairway from the downstairs to the attic when we remodeled four years ago, because of eventually wanting to finish it out. But the stairs led to this:

bedroom #1 before bedroom #2

So, yes, there is an almost overwhelming amount of work to still be done. The interior has not be touched much at all, other than the dormers. However, just that alone makes me so excited because it brings in so much LIGHT. And I absolutely LOVE natural light!

rough framed dormer with cathedral ceiling
At this point, there is not much more I can do than clean up the dust at the end of the day. So I can peruse the internet and dream about the finished product. ;) We are on a time-crunch: this has to be completed and decorated by December 13, so we have just a little over two months. Which, if that’s all my husband would do, that would be fine. But this will be done evenings and weekends, which means our autumn looks just a leeeeetle crazy……..

But look at some of these pictures that I’m inspired by, and you’ll see why I’m really really excited. :) I’m drawn to white as I look through pictures, a lot of white. So I am wanting to go with a very simple, natural look. Maybe more European inspired?

simple and fresh

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attic rooms

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love this attic room

 

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boards running vertical

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We plan to use one of the rooms as a bedroom, and one of them as an office/work area. Here are few inspiration pictures for that…

Pretty little attic art studio.

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office space

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THIS is what i want.

 

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Sooo,  that is what is happening around these parts right now, and over the next two months. It’s fun and exhausting and exhilarating and exciting all at once. :)

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coral and aqua bedroom

So I’m trying to catch up on some of the before & afters here at the Cottage, before some more changes happen. Next week, hopefully, we begin renovations to turn the upstairs attic space into two new bedrooms. We are EXCITED!

At the moment, we have two bedrooms. One for the parents, one for the three kids.

This post could more properly be titled: How to Fit Three Kids in One Bedroom.

As you can imagine, it works! :) Also, it is challenging! To put two girls and one little boy in the same bedroom, as well as all their clothes and toys, has been a stretch. While I feel that it has forced me to be organized, I also am not a died-in-the-wood minimalist, so sometimes this room goes through crazy purging (normally late at night after the kids are sound asleep and I haul half of their toys off to Goodwill).

The bedroom before: great bones, just not so great a color.

bedroom before jpeg

purple bedroom before jpeg

The bedroom after:
We painted with Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter, which is a cross between grey and cream. I was hoping for something a little more grey than what this turned out to be, but I was still very happy with the end result.

// looking into the bedroom, with some crafts on the doors the girls made at clubs one night //

bedroom door

Because this room holds three children, as well as doubles as our guest room, we needed a double bed, and we need décor that was appropriate for both genders and for guests.

I’ve seen many darling kiddo rooms. And I’ve seen some kiddo rooms that are beautiful, but that don’t look kid-friendly. It looks like the mom is wanting it to reflect her own personal tastes rather than making a place that the kids will enjoy. Naturally, a house will reflect the style and taste of the woman who lives there, and that is okay. But I also wanted this space to be something my kids liked too. So we all gave and took a little.

I knew that I wanted a mostly neutral room, with pops of color in aqua and coral (since those two colors can be somewhat gender-neutral). I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on this room, but I was willing to purchase a few items to make the room special and unique.

The Girls’ Side

You Are So Loved pillow

you are so loved pillow and shams

The Pottery Barn Teen website had a really cool feature where you can make a virtual bed, with various colors & styles & pillows to see how you like it before you purchase. Obviously it is only their own items (and I wasn’t planning to purchase there) but it was a great resource – which I cannot for the life of me find to link to. Maybe it was discontinued? But browsing the bedding on their website gave me some great ideas.

The girls had plain white sheets on their bed, which were a little boring, so I bought some aqua rick-rack at a fabric store (the widest I could find for the sheets, and smaller for the pillowcases) and sewed it on.

rick rack sewn onto a flat sheet rick rack sewn onto pillowcases for a pop of color

It was a big time-consuming, especially for the sheet because I could not simply sew a straight line down the middle. I tried that, but after one washing the edges curled so badly I knew it would never work long-term. So I had to sew on both sides of the curved edge, which was easy enough but just took some time. The rick-rack on the pillowcases was narrow enough that I could sew one straight line down the middle of that one.

The total price for the newly updated sheets was under $10. It sure beats a new set from Pottery Barn. :) I added some pillow shams I had gotten on clearance a few years ago and the color match was perfect.

sister silhouettes above the bed

For a final touch on their bed I bought the pillow cover that says, “You Are So Loved.” I fell in love with it the moment I first saw it, and have not regretted that purchase!

And, because I simply cannot leave silhouettes alone (even four years later), especially when they are silhouettes of my own children, I made newly-updated profiles for above the bed. I made them from 12 X 12 cardstock, glued them onto canvases that came 2/pack at Walmart, and then painted the edges of the canvas gold to bring in a bit of bling. I also added the name of each of my daughters in gold under her silhouette. It was the perfect touch for above their bed, and I love it.

sister silhouettes in coral and gold

Above their bed I hung a collection of paper flowers (aqua: my mother-in-law found at a yard sale) and tissue paper balls (white and pink: tutorial here). The large white round lantern was found somewhere years ago (read, cannot remember!).

 We also replaced the old brown ceiling fan with an outdoor hanging lantern that we found at a yard sale for $5. It is also old, but it is white, and it fit in the room beautifully.
above the bed

tissue paer balls

bedroom in coral and aqua

A few little extra details: the bed was a brown wooden thrifted find when we were newly married for $40. First it was black, and more recently white. We added this decorative piece to the headboard.

headboard detail

Old Quilt at the bottom of the bed: *say it all together* thrifted

quilt from Goodwill

And lest we be deceiving, at the moment (or for the past 3 months-moments) the bed has been held up by books on one corner. It’s true! :) Books hold up broken beds wonderfully. The Nesting Place gave me permission to show the imperfect along with the beautiful. xo

honesty is best aqua throw rug

To the right of the bed, with about 4 feet in between, is Hudson’s bed.

How to fit three kids in one bedroom

Little Man’s Corner

We found an antique toddler bed at a thrift store when Zoe was a baby, and so far each of our kids have used it. It is made of solid wood, and it’s just so gorgeous! All I needed to do was clean it up, and it was ready to go. I do think it tends to look a little girly though, so when Hudson moved into it we tried to make it a manly little corner. :)

I found Little Wanderers store through Instagram, which is where I found the white cardboard deer head mount. I LOVED it, and knew that it would be the perfect statement piece for above his bed, setting it apart as the boy side. It was super easy to assemble (punch out, then follow the numbered pieces), and I absolutely love this!

the boy side

Gold frame: thrifted
White Deer Mount: Little Wanderers, source at the bottom of the post
Arrow Pillow: made by me
White comforter: throw-sized down comforter that fits a toddler bed perfectly
Bed: thrifted

the boy side of the room little boy bed

deer mount deer head mount

  deer head cardboard mount

antique headboard little boy bed

antique baby bed anitque bed

little boy corner

We put white faux-wooden blinds up on the windows, but no window treatments.
I liked the clean white lines, and it draws the eyes to some of the other places in the room, while keeping the windows stream-lined.

The bedroom also has a mantel (one of five in this cottage, isn’t that crazy?!).
However, we did not make it functional: we use it for decorative purposes only.
As cute as it might look, fire in a kids’ bedroom would just terrify me.

Beatrix Potter theme mantel

wagon in the bedroom with books

So because it started out as a nursery-turned-kids’-room, this area has a Beatrix Potter-theme of sorts. Add in some fedoras (Target’s dollar bin) and baseballs (thrifted), a painted “H” for a whimsical look, and it’s good to go.

mantel in the kids bedroom old baseballs

Okay, so this is where it get nitty-gritty practical: storage space.
Three kids in one room isn’t all rosy (other than the fact that they LOVE it).

We have one dresser (gifted by our landlord at our previous rental house), and it houses all the clothes for all three kiddos, with the exception of hanging clothes (dresses, dress shirts, sweaters) and shoes. Sooo, the good thing about this is that it forces me to be basic with their clothing because there simply is not room for each child to have lots of clothes.

There is still a changing pad on the dresser because, yes, my son is still being potty trained
(don’t even get me started on all his escapades while in the process).
I hot-glued some aqua ribbon onto the lampshade to continue the aqua/rick-rack theme,
and hung a decorative mirror.

Under the dresser are baskets: one for each of the girls to hold their shoes and socks,
and the little yellow one for Hudson’s shoes and socks.

one dresser for three kids

decorative lamp shade whimsical mantel

  mirror reflection wagon with books

Not pictured is the closet, one of three in the entire house, which holds their clothes and all of their toys (except for the white trunk at the foot of Hudson’s bed that stores the doll clothes for the girls, and the living room coffee table trunk that holds a few more toys).

It IS possible to have several children in the same bedroom. Ideal? Perhaps not. But when it is all you have, you make it work, and you make it fun and beautiful. You choose to have only the things that you really really like, and remove all else and haul it to Goodwill. :)

I’m still learning – after nine years of marriage – that home is not about being a perfect place, or having all the perfect things. With kids especially, things will be imperfect, and that’s okay. If you’re a bargain-hunter (like me), you won’t find everything all at one store, all in one day. It takes patience, and eventually, over time, you will have a unique collection of things you really love. We’ve lived in the Cottage for four years, and the kids’ bedroom is finally coming together how I like. And now within two months we will be rearranging and moving around again because of the upstairs renovation. :)

So goes life, and that’s why it’s so important to enjoy the process of homemaking, not just waiting until everything is exactly perfect before you can see the beauty. Beauty does not equal perfection. Beauty means that you choose to see the lovely, the precious, right now, today, right in the middle of what may be a mess.

I hope you enjoyed the little tour of the kids’ bedroom, and are encouraged to “fluff your nest” too. :)

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Sources
“You are so loved” pillow cover: Society 6
Deer/Buck Cardboard Mount: Little Wanderers
Rug: thrifted, but similar one found on Overstock

 

There is something really sad happening around here.
So sad, in fact, that some days I find myself nearly in tears about it all.

My little kiddos are growing up.

black and white

I know, I KNOW. If they wouldn’t be growing it would be even sadder.
There would be something wrong physically.
I know people who would love to be watching their children grow up.
My sister is one of them, and her arms ache daily to hold her little son.

I suppose then, that my sadness comes not from my kiddos growing up, but from the change that is seeming to come to our little family. The awareness of change comes at different stages, when someone new happens, or when someone stops happening.

black and white Zoe black and white skirt

When my babies need to be weaned from their pacifier, there is a knowing that this has GOT to happen. But when it does, my baby suddenly feels like a big kid, no longer a baby.

When Zoe started school I felt the same thing.
Whaaaaat? My baby is starting school?! How did we get here? I’m not ready to be a school mom! I just want my toddlers back!”
And yet it was exciting too, to see her learn, and be so excited about learning.

Zoe at age 7.

Zoe at seven Zoe girl twirl twirling girl still has all her baby teeth dancing girl

And just recently, it’s been another incident.

The First Lost Tooth.

It was several weeks ago when Zoe first touched her tooth and did the exclamatory,
It moved!!!!”
And for a week or two that tooth kept wiggling and moving and getting looser.
(Much to my queasy-stomach’s dismay: any other mothers out there that cannot stand to look at a loose tooth? It seriously makes me feel nauseated. I can still clearly remember my own. Ei yi yi.)

We took a few pictures one Saturday, just informally, not getting dressed fancy or going anywhere to do then, but just one last picture time to document All The Baby Teeth. The tooth was so loose at this point that it looked crooked in pictures and we had to keep readjusting it. :)

IMG_1635 little girl

And a few days later, out it popped. We now have a little lisping girl, who goes around singing, “All I want for Christh-math isth my two front teeth…”

 [we did have a very tardy Tooth Fairy. you’d think with it being her first day night on the job and all she’d be on time. but no no no, she didn’t show up until breakfast the morning after. and then she has to answer to questions such as, “Mom! When DID you end up putting the quarter in my jar?”]

smile as sweet as ever

tutus and sparkly shoes sweeties

sisters smile as sweet as ever

It’s adorable, really. This new smile.

And my mommy heart is feeling just a little torn because that means she’s growing up. And while I don’t want her to stay at home forever, in a cocoon in her own little world, I’m realizing that letting her grow up begins now. That every new stage is precious and beautiful, and is not necessarily better or worse: just different.

So today, even though I feel like a sentimental softy mama, I want to embrace this stage with my oldest. Growing up means becoming even better friends. It means she can understand more things, and our conversations can be deeper. It means we can laugh together even more, as we can look at each other and burst out laughing at the same unspoken thing. It means she has the precious opportunity to be at a place to read the Word of God, to spend time with Him, to develop her own relationship with Jesus. These are all such precious things, and part of the richness of growing up. It doesn’t mean it will all be easy: but it means there is incredible potential for spiritual growth, for soul growth, for mental growth, when there is physical growth and change happening.

D.L. Moody once said,If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God!”

And that’s where I am on a practical level, daily: devoting my life for my children. But I want it to be so more than that, because if devoting a life to children is the end result, that is far too small. I, and so many other women, are devoting our lives to children (whether our own or someone else’s) because we want to reach them for GOD, as D. L. Moody said.  Not to raise children for themselves, who think the world revolves around them because their parents or caregivers focused only on the children, but to raise children with an awareness of Someone so much bigger than themselves. And to cultivate that awareness into a passion for that Person, Jesus Christ. I am just called to cultivate the soul of their little souls, to plant the seeds of the Gospel, of relationship, and then the Lord brings the sun, the rain, and the harvest of a soul that is surrendered to Jesus Christ.

And that sounds exciting!

But today, I find myself in a mixture of bittersweetness, loving the stage we’re in, and also anticipating what will be coming in the future. I want to treasure these moments. I’ll never again have the Autumn of Twenty-Fourteen with my kids, and I want to squeeze all the little joy-drops out of it that I can.

Happy Wednesday!

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the best kind of welcome

We’ve been here at this little house I affectionately call “The Cottage” for four years now, and if you’ve read here for any period of time you know there are a few before & afters!

Although it’s been a long time (perhaps years?!) since the last one, ones are still remaining are
the Front Porch (which was just finished up this summer and I’ll show in this post),
the Master Bedroom,
the Kids’ Bedroom,
the Back Patio (completed just this summer as well),
the Master Bath,
and the music room-turned-school room.
Also in the near horizon is the finishing of the attic into two studio-style bedrooms!
Whew.

Anyone who is a homeowner, especially the owner of an house built in 1906, knows that the work is never really done. Sometimes that’s okay, and it’s fun to see the progress. Other times? It becomes discouraging and a rental sounds appealing!

But for now, we continue to work at The Cottage, and our front porch is a place we finished up this spring and use almost daily. Here we go!

// before, spring of 2010 //

The pillars were being prepped for painting, thus the scraping, but you can see the green paint from the trim color of the pillars and windows from before, then covered with grey.

It had pretty bones to it – the square pickets, the wood columns with a brick base, the wood floor. It just needed some work.

cottage porch before

front porch before

// windows with green trim and storm windows //
windows before

So after we bought the Cottage, we painted the house and the trim, but the left the floors as they were for some time. I thought I liked the old patina of the floors, and that it added to the cottage-y feel I wanted. It certainly did add to the old feel. :) And this is how we had it for several years.

// a red bench (found at an junk shop that was purple that I painted red to match the front door).
two old chairs Ben found in the, um, dumpster.
windows that were hung on the ends of the porch to create a “room” feel.
curtains hung on bamboo rods. //

August, 2010 015

I liked it fine, and we used it often.
But this year my husband decided it was time to paint the old floors, and to finish the trim around the pillars (see picture above). Some of the wood was rotted on the floor and around the bottom of the pillars, and some was gone altogether.

So we (meaning, my husband) began by replacing the steps that were nearly falling down. The entire project from start to finish was not an easy Saturday project. It took several Saturdays, two weeks with no front steps, and a couple of evenings until midnight. It just how this kind of thing goes when you’re trying to DIY.

Pink Cupcake Onesie 029 making the steps

the front steps needed to be replaced

Choosing a color for the floor was extremely difficult.
“I want white!” I declared, airing my non-practical idea freely.
Thankfully, my sweet husband who usually goes along with my whims, stopped me in my tracks, and said (kindly) that there is no way we are having white floors. Outside, and three kids? Just, NO.

Next up, was the color grey.
The CHAMELEON color GREY. Gray. Whatever.
(I do like the English spelling.)
But meaning that grey at the store is not grey at your house!
Grey can be green, or blue, or purple – anything but true GREY!

We wanted something that would hide dirt as much as possible, that would coordinate with the existing color of the house, and that would look good on the steps because that’s seen from the road. Our house is a light creamy color, so no brown tones, and charcoal, although pretty, would be too much contrast. Tricky for sure.

The samples we put on the floor:

the chameleon grey

And we went with… none of the six. But a true grey is what I wanted.

Instead we went to the nearest Sherwin Williams store and went with a new paint that they said is almost plastic, and that has a lifetime guarantee. Expensive, but it went on nice and thick. Like,  some of the nicest paint I’ve ever painted with. And I’ve painted a lot.

grey cottage porch with white railing and red door

At first I thought we made the worst mistake in the world with the color, and I was going to pour out my piggy bank and buy a whole new color with all my pennies. I just didn’t like it. It was so DARK compared to the nearly white of the patina we had before, and the contrast was too much for me. It was SO GREY.

But I couldn’t quite bring myself to buy a whole new gallon. And thought that I’ll just try to live with it for a while. Several months later? I like the color. Fickle woman.  Patient husband.

cottage kiddos

If I would have known how different, and how much cleaner, this has made our front porch feel, I would have done this from the very beginning. I really really like it now. And it makes the bit of furniture on the front porch pop, both the white and the red pieces I have there.

The only complaint I have about the floors is that they are hard to clean. I wipe up them once a week with a mop and SCRUB them hard. Those old wooden paint-chipped patina floors? They hid every little speck of dirt that every came on. So I don’t know if it’s this kind of paint that seems to be a magnet to dirt, or if that is painted floors in general?

A few details…

The purple bench I rescued and painted bright red to match the front door.
The $5 Aztek blanket from a yard sale.
The pillows made by me, except for the compass (H&M)
Shutters were being thrown away at a job Ben worked at once, so he brought them home and painted them and hung them. (answer to a prayer I never even thought to pray!)

grey porch floor with red and white accents

red bench to match the front door
// Little Eating Corner //
Table and chairs  (gifted) that were a light oak color that we painted cream.
Old window from a junk store.
Thrifted chandelier (for pretty only, and for head-bumping).

  little eating area on the front porch chandelier on the front porch

The old wooden columns came to life after Ben sanded them, used a grinder on them, and then primed and painted them before adding trim. (Yes, that man worked hard.)

We planted Creeping Fig to go around the brick pillars (a southern plant, I think).

front porch trim detail creeping fig on the old brick

And we planted Confederate Jasmine to climb over the entryway. This is one of my favorite things about the front entrance. In the early spring, it blooms with hundreds of little while flowers that smell like a dream! I would plant this everywhere if I could.

confederate jasmine over front porch entrance

For a few accessories, I made curtain panels. I wanted something inexpensive and that would wash and bleach well. So I bought two of these sheets at Target in double size (even cheaper if you have a Red Card), cut them in half, hemmed the sides, and made a rod pocket on the top. In the end, they cost just pennies over $5 a panel, so about $20 for them all.

For a rod, we used bamboo that we cut and dried in the sun for a few days to allow it to turn that beautiful golden brown color, and then mounted them on curtain brackets (found in the hardware section at Walmart or Target or Lowes, etc. ). $10 for the brackets.

epsom salt is the secret to beautiful big ferns!

The globe lights I bought at Novelty Lights. I wanted a white cord, and I was very pleased with this purchase. I bought two sets of 25 lights. The magic they add to an outdoor space cannot be described! They are well worth the purchase (and Target often runs a sale on them in the fall)!

Also, if you want beautiful gorgeous ferns? Soak the whole planter in a large tub of water with a few heaping tablespoons of Epsom salt overnight, and do this once a week or so. They will become so big and beautiful and lush vibrant green you’ll think yourself a green thumb for sure! At least, it consoles my Black Thumb within.

A wall-mount mailbox was found at a junk shop.
“La Dolce Vita” means “The Sweet Life” in Italian. I painted it on the front porch wall because I always want to remember how precious this life is, and what a gift I’ve been given.

'la dolce vita' - it means 'the sweet life' in Italian

I bought two concrete planters with money I had saved, and filled them with small boxwoods. I loved the updated, formal look this brought to our porch.

boxwoods on the front porch red front door with planters cottage entrance

So now, in the early mornings, or for lunch, or on rainy evenings, or for no reason at all, this is where you might find us. Or our bunnies. And eating ice cream.

and then there was the bunny rain catcher. let them be little. front porch with patio lights the little guy

 It’s simple and understated, and it’s cozy and practical.
We love it.

 “After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” -L.M Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

 

Happy weekend, lovelies! Enjoy those simple little pleasures.
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Our computer has been giving us trouble all summer long. Basically, we never know when we will be able to turn it on or off, or when it does turn on everything seems fine until the screen turns off and the whole thing shuts down with no warning.

Along with that has been summer vacation, and with the kids out of school I didn’t want to spend much time on the computer. But all that to say, – lack of computer also equals no pictures or posts! :)

But until we get a new computer, here are a few of my favorite things recently – links for you to follow and check out. Here you go!

Set Apart Motherhood

Leslie Ludy has been an inspiration to me since the time I was first introduced to her books as a single woman. Her heart for the Lord, and for a pure life, influenced me greatly, and when her new book on motherhood came out this summer, I was thrilled! She is now the mother of 4 children with two more adoptive kiddos on the way, and continues to be an encouragement and inspiration!

The new book is called Set Apart Motherhood, which I read and highly recommend (purchase it here), and there is a beautiful coffee table-style magazine available as well.

Leslie Ludy is also hosting a Set Apart Motherhood conference in Colorado in October. While I’m not able to attend that, I am signing up for the simulcast and hosting a small version in my home for some women from church. I am so excited about that! Be sure to check out that option too.

Amazon Smile

Did you know that if you log into Amazon, instead of amazon.com, go through smile.amazon.com, and you will be able to choose a charity to donate to? Just go to smile.amazon.com and go under your ‘account’ settings, and select ‘choose charity’.

A portion of the proceeds of many items will be donated to the charity of your choice through Amazon. Just remember to choose one (one I recommend is International Justice Mission, also known as IJM, who works for the spreading of the Gospel and for the freedom of both slaves & sex slaves across the world .  I highly highly recommend their ministry. If you want an inside scoop of some of the things they’ve done, read ‘Terrify No More’ and you will want to join their mission as fast as possible), and log in through smile.amazon.com. If you are already an amazon member, your information and login info will pop up the same as through amazon.com.

Not all items are eligible for donation, but those that are will have a little tab marked for it.

We have an amazon prime account, and use it ALL the time. I order anything from toothpaste for the kids to an iron to sock monkeys to fedora hats. Seriously, it’s great. And to be able to shop from home as well as support a mission I love so much? It’s such a win.

Aimee Weaver Designs

I “met” Aimee through our blogs several years ago, and loved the creativity and heart that flowed from this beautiful woman. We were able to meet in person a few times, which made me love her all the more. :) When I learned that she and her husband are adopting a little boy from China, and that her Etsy shop proceeds go directly toward the adoption, I was thrilled that I could help out in a very small way!

Aimee designed some adorable T-shirts that I love so much – they are super comfortable and soft, and they fit perfectly, and they support a wonderful cause!

Here are two:
Micah 6:8 with arrows

Women's, SIZE LARGE, white, Micah 6:8, arrow, adoption t shirt

‘Free Indeed’ Bike T-shirt

Women's, SIZE SMALL, gray, free indeed, bike, adoption t shirt

[both pictures courtesy of Aimee Weaver Designs on Etsy]

So if you’re wanting a new piece or two to add to your wardrobe, AND a great place to buy them, look here! Her typography and artwork are stunning as well, if you are wanting something new for your home.

These German Animals

Some of my kids favorite toys are these high-quality Schleich German-made animals. Zulily has them on bigtime SALE right now until September 11, and with more animals than I’ve ever seen in stores. I am trying to decide which of them to purchase for Christmas gifts for the kids!

She Reads Truth

signin

This is a Bible Study I learned about through Instagram, and you can choose to study either via a free app on Instagram (I think right now it’s available only to Iphones) or online via shereadstruth.com. Some of the Instagram studies cost $1.99 to go through, while all the ones online are free.

There is a group of 8-10 godly women who study and write, and you can choose different things from Ruth, Hebrews, James, Nehemiah, Titus, and more, with new studies always coming up.

There is a Bible passage to read each day, as well as a brief study/explanation on that passage. There is a current study all the time, with new studies beginning every 2-3 weeks. you have the option of receiving the devotionals through email too, if you like that. This is not an intensive study, like Beth Moore or Kay Arthur have done that takes 1/2 hour or more a day, but if you are wanting a few minutes of study more than just Bible reading, I do recommend this for the way the Gospel is shown throughout the various studies.

Here is a statement of what they believe.

My NEW Etsy shop:
My Faire Lady Designs

 Yes, this is a shameless plug. :)
I’ve had a Facebook page for my little home business for the past 4 years or so, but just this summer have begun the process of transferring everything over to an Etsy Shop. It makes ordering SO much easier for my customers, which I am thrilled about! I will still update the Facebook page (randomly, as in the past :)) but with new items and news and sales, but will direct you over to the new shop.

I’ve added many new patterns of fabric to the burp cloths recently, including some black & white choices, an organic retro fabric, and pink bikes!

And a completely new item are these bandana style bibs, that are super adorable and practical all at one!

Modern Baby Burp Cloths, Set of Three, in Black and White Hipster Zebra, Vintage Camera, and Modern Triangle Fabric

ORGANIC Modern Baby Burp Cloths, Set of Three, in campers, multi-colored dot, and elephant family

Gold Anchor Onesie for Baby Girl, Bodysuit

Reversible Bandana Bib for Baby, Aqua Floral and Polka Dot, Turquoise

PLEXUS

 

Plexus is a product I was introduced to several months ago through my friend Shelly. It’s an all-natural health product that at first I was admittedly a bit skeptical about, because it seemed to help so many different health issues! And how could one product help so many different things, from weight loss to fibromyalgia to adrenal fatigue to candida to diabetes to so many other things??

But I tried it, because I have had low-grade adrenal fatigue for years, and I was just so tired of being tired, all the time. And a few months later, guess what? I’m a believer in this stuff, this Pink Drink, as it’s becoming known as. My energy is increasing, my brain fog is lifting! I am just so thrilled, and I want other people to be helped as well!

The reason it works for so many different things is because rather than treating symtoms, it works at healing on a cellular level, which is the core of our health. If our cells are healthy, we will be healthy people. It is an all natural product, and there is also 60-day money-back guarantee, which is awesome.

If you’d like more information or want to try it out, here is a link. :)
I’m still learning about the product, but feel free to message me with any questions and I’ll try to answer them.

This song:
I Shall Not Want

You know how sometimes a song can speak more deeply to your heart than any words by themselves? Audrey Assad is a favorite artist of mine, and her song ‘I Shall Not Want’ from her recent album spoke so deeply to my heart. Jesus, Jesus, is enough for all I need; for my loneliness, my sadness, my fears, my wounds, my joy ~ when I taste His goodness, there is nothing more I need.

Her entire albums are so worth purchasing, I love them so much! Find them on ITunes.

I  hope you enjoyed the links! :)

Happy Thursday, Lovelies!

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