Master Redo

One of our goals in 2017 was to get new furniture for our bedroom and also to paint and decorate it.  Apologies in advance for the terrible cell phone pics, but this is what our room looked before.  (These are several years old but you get the idea – 4 poster bed, small furniture, no formal night stands, no color on the walls…)

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mas b4

Last year, we found new furniture – we bought it from the Amish Furniture Store and it is awesome – it’s solid wood, really well built, etc. But also has a modern, clean look to it.

We painted our room a greige color (you can see the samples on the wall in the ‘before’ pic.) We also added crown molding, curtains, new lamps and hung a gallery wall of our family.

The only other things I may add in the future is a plant, a bench below the gallery wall and maybe a floor length mirror (we don’t have one in our house and it would be helpful for getting ready).

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I just love how this room feels now that it’s had a little facelift.

Hopefully on the docket for 2018 or 2019 – redoing our master bath!

 

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That time we drank the water in Mexico.

As one of our goals for 2018, we wanted to take our kids on their first international trip.  Growing up, our family traveled a little bit (mostly up and down the East Coast), but we never went international. When we were younger, it was not financially feasible for my parents to do this. And as we got older, we were three busy kids with lots of school and extracurriculars, so when we finally got away, it was usually to visit family or head to a beach somewhere.

My first trip abroad was the summer before my senior year of college and I headed to Australia and New Zealand for a month.  Getting to experience the culture and environment of another country was awesome and I decided it was something I wanted my kids to experience at a young age (as long as we could afford to do it).

Now that they are 6 and 8, we don’t have nap times to work around and they don’t have commitments they can’t miss, so we took them across the border to Cancun for Spring Break 2018!  They loved it.  Beach, pool, tons of treats – what’s not to love for two young boys!

(Dean and I enjoyed ourselves too, but it was definitely more stressful to travel international with kids.  It’s a little easier when it’s just the adults, but in the back of my mind I was always just a little on edge – listening closely at bedtime to make sure they didn’t sleep walk out of the room, worried when they took a bathroom break solo in the busy pool area, swimming and splashing a little too close to the college kids on Spring Break, etc.)

 

Now that I’ve done it, here are little tips I’d recommend for traveling international with your kiddos.

  1. Try somewhere relatively close to home.  While my kids have flown several times before, they’ve never flown longer than 2-ish hours.  It was only a 3 hour flight from Charlotte to Cancun, so it was manageable.  I didn’t want to test a 14-hour flight to Fiji for their first international trip.
  2. All-inclusive is awesome.  They loved that they could do anything whenever – go get a snack or tropical drink, join in kids club activities or just swim in the pools.  These places tend to have lots of things going on throughout the day so there is plenty to do.
  3. Let them try new things, or the same old.  We had our kids try some fruits they don’t often get at home and also some of the Mexican dishes at meals.  But they also went up and tried foods they were familiar with as well. It was fun to see them taste foods they weren’t used to and see what they liked.
  4. Adjust your expectations.  We tried the nice, dress up resort restaurant one night and decided once was enough. It’s meant to be an experience and sitting in a restaurant for over 90 mins just isn’t fun for my kids.  We decided to stay with the buffet – which changed it’s theme each night – that way they didn’t have to sit through such a long meal.  We’ll save the special resort restaurants for the times that Dean and I go by ourselves.
  5. Have fun.  Usually Dean and I sit by the pool or beach and relax when it’s just the two of us, and while we definitely did that, we also took our kids to the swim up bar, helped them build a sandcastle and hosted an Easter egg hunt in our room.  This trip really wasn’t about us and what we like to do on vacation, so it was important they enjoyed the trip as well.

Have you taken your kids on a big trip? Where did you go? Any best practices for traveling with kids?

Patent Pending: Brooks’ Taco Clip

I know I’ve mentioned more than once how Brooks is such an out-of-the-box thinker.  While it can be challenging to parent, Dean and I are convinced he’ll be a millionaire one day with his unique ideas and entrepreneurial spirit.

One of his latest is the “Taco Clip”:

Yes, we were eating tacos one night and Brooks said, “I need something to help hold this together.”  He went over to our chip clip drawer and grabbed his solution.

Dean and I looked at each other and I said, “I can see it now, the late night infomercial.  <<insert voice-over>> “Do you have the fillings sliding out of your taco?  We’ll with The Brooksie Clip, your problem is solved… and if you act now, we’ll throw in a second XL Brooksie Clip when you pay separate shipping and handling!”

The Brooksie Clip – Patent Pending 🙂  Seriously, I’d love to sit in his brain for a day, just to see what it’s like 🙂

And yes, we eat tacos a lot. He’s already used his “Brooksie Taco Clip” two or three times!

 

Brooks Says: Earning Points

Each school day, Brooks’ teacher tracks behavior points for her class.  There is an app/webpage you can log into to see how your kid is doing throughout the day:

DOJO

 

It’s great because I can ask Brooks specifics about his day and have a general idea of how he’s doing.

Lately, he’s been doing great at earning those green, positive points for listening, following directions, being a Bucket Filler (caught doing something good), etc.  Brooks is our “more spirited” and social child, so there have been weeks where there were a bunch of “calling out” or “not listening” -1 points.

95% of the time, the points are allocated in 1-point increments, but sometimes she’ll give a 5-point bonus.  I asked Brooks what these were for and he said it can be super good behavior or solving a challenging math problem.

One day, he came home with a +5 bonus point.  I asked what great thing he did to earn those bonus points.

“At snack time, someone threw their strawberry stems on the floor near the trash, but not in the trash.  Mrs. S asked for whoever ate strawberries to pick it up, but none of the kids went and picked it up, so I did.”

“Wow, Brooks, that was awesome you did something so nice.”

Then as I was tucking him in to bed an hour later I asked, “What points are you going to work on for tomorrow? Good listening? Walking quietly in the hallway?”

“No, I think I’m just going to wait until someone throws their garbage outside of the trashcan and I’ll go pick it up for an easy 5 points!”  😉 🙂

This boy.  I love him.

Are you the crowd or the woman?

Recently, I’ve been reading through Mark in the bible and last week, I specifically read the story of the ill woman who touched Jesus and was healed (Mark 5).

Quick summary of the story: a man comes to Jesus and asks him to heal his dying daughter.  Jesus pushes through crowds who are now a constant, they’ve seen his miracles and watch him going the young girl’s home.  En route he is touched and immediately stops to ask who touched him.  Jesus’ disciples say, “Of course, you are being touched, you’re walking through a crowd.” But Jesus knows it’s more than a crowd push, it’s a purposeful touch – a last hope, born of faith touch.  A woman with a long-time medical issue admits she is the one who touched Jesus’ garment and she is immediately healed.

Reading this story I’m so challenged by how I see myself in the two representations of people.

In life, am I the crowd or am I the woman?  Sure, the crowd was all walking the same way Jesus was.  They were interested to see what he was going to do next – what miracle he was going to perform.  They bumped into him on the way, but generally were just headed in the same direction.  It’s really easy to fall into the Jesus crowd.  To walk in his general way but to be no different than the hundreds of others that are walking in his direction.  The crowd is mostly there for the show – they’ve never seen anyone do what he can do.  Sometimes they are walking with him, doubting he can do what he’s heading to do, unsure that it can really be done.  “Can I really trust God to heal my illness/restore my marriage/help my broken relationship/save my job?”

Or am I the woman – the one who fought the crowd of strong men to get the closest to Jesus and in an act of faith, to reach out and touch his clothing.  She put herself out there with the faith that Jesus was all she needed for complete healing.  She didn’t get caught watching the magic show that was Jesus’ miracles –  she wasn’t an observer, she made herself a participant.  She took action and put her own miracle in action.

I’ve been noodling this and asking myself some challenging questions:  Do I push myself in my faith – trusting God can do anything?  Do I get caught jostling between other members of the crowd – in the middle of the hoopla – or am I pushing towards a focused goal – an intimate, personal encounter with Him?

 

 

We redid our half bath.

Last year, one of our goals was to revamp our half bath downstairs.  There were a few rooms through the house that were a medium avocado green when we moved in and while I like green, I wanted to keep the theme blues and grays so slowly, I made over each room that had the green.

The last up was the bathroom.  Here was the before:

bathbefore

And it really isn’t that bad of a before, I just wanted a lighter space since there isn’t a ton of natural light in this part of our downstairs.

Goals:

  • Get rid of the pedestal sink.
  • Add some bead board/trim – these are 10 foot ceilings which look really tall in such a small space, thought it would be nice to break up so much wall.
  • Replace mirror (didn’t like the frame on it – it was basically a 4 inch wood box with a mirror in the back of it. Given where the light fixture hit it, the inside of the mirror was shaded and dark.
  • New light fixture – slowly I’m trying to replace the “builder lights” through our home.
  • Get rid of the towel bar we never used and replace the broken, wiggly hook that held our hand towel.

We had some mistakes along the way, so it took about 3 weekends of work to do it, but I think the after turned out great.  Outside of finding a fun piece of artwork to hang over the toilet, I’d say it’s complete!

Mistakes:

  • Not buying a solid wood vanity.
    The first vanity I bought was cute online, but it was a bunch of particle board and just pulling it out of the box, we could tell it wasn’t what we wanted to have in there.  For a few hundred dollars more, we took it back and got something that is solid wood and much better quality.
  • Painting 3 times!
    When we bought the first vanity, we went ahead and painted first with a gray beige color before taking it out of the box.  (It was the same color we painted our master bedroom last year and loved!)
    Unfortunately, since the vanity didn’t work out and we needed a 24″ vanity, which doesn’t have tons of options, we had to completely change our color palette.

    We went with a repaint of a (#2) light gray we had from painting our dining and sitting rooms.  When it was against the white molding, it didn’t have enough contrast, so next came paint job #3!  The final medium/light gray was a winner with just enough contrast.

And here is the final product:

bathafter

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It’s hard to tell with the dark lighting (phone pics) but the vanity is a gray color.  We really love it and now we have some in-bath storage for extra TP, soap, tissues, etc.

It always feels good to get a house project completed that makes you feel good each time you walk in there! One last before and after:

Landon’s Birthday

I can’t believe we’re nearing April.  2018 seems to be off to a great start for the Dean family.

At the beginning of the month, we found some ways to celebrate Mr. Landon turning 8 years old.  On his actual birthday, he picked his favorite restaurant – Red Robin – for dinner, then we took him out for some family bowling.

It was a late night – the bowling worker told us each game might take 15-20 mins so we signed up for 2 games.  Turns out he was completely wrong and it took us about 1.5 hours to get through 2 games.  (And Dean and I were both sore the next day from so many bowls!) Of course, we made sure there was still time for a cupcake before bed!

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Then, because his birthday was on a Thursday, we spent the weekend making his special birthday cake – RED VELVET – and held a birthday celebration for Landon and his two birthday cousins (the three of them celebrate their birthday within 4 days – I know, crazy right?!)

We hit a local park for some soccer and a game of kickball – then ate some leftover cake from all the birthday celebrations from earlier in the week!

There were no Pinterest decorations or themes.  We didn’t have 30 kids come over.  It was so simple and perfect. Family, fun and beautiful weather.

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What a fun way to celebrate this sweet thing!