October 31, 2014

Happy 8th Birthday, Noah!

Noah, Noah, precious Noah,

My baby pumpkin.  Today you are turning EIGHT! You are pretty excited about it because for the next 10 days you get to say you are an older number than Scarlett.  You are a big 8 and for a week and a half she still has to say she's 7.  


You've had an awesome year this past year.  You are just killing it at school.  You are becoming what I call "freaky smart".  Last week you looked at a rock and shouted, "Oh my gosh!  Just look at this piece of obsidian!"  I had no idea you even knew all the minerals and gems, but you'd looked them up in your National Geographic magazines and had stored that knowledge away in your giant brain.  You spout out cute little facts about how many teeth sharks have and how tornados are formed and how many continents there are at the most random times.  You are just so excited about learning and it is so much fun to watch the gears turn in your head. 

You are one of the most content children I've ever seen.  As long as you have a lap to curl up in or a big blanket to snuggle with, you are just peachy.  You are still the snuggler of the family.  Many times I'll find you in Sadie's bed all curled up and cozy.  She just adores you.  

This year you were on the swim team again and you also tried your hand at baseball.  You LOVED it!  You joined our local coach pitch team and thought it was just super fun and you can't wait until spring to do it again.  The uniforms gave you fits (darn sensory disorder!) and you stood in the outfield with your hand on the waist band of your pants the whole time but you had the time of your life.  The huge grin you had when you got to cross home plate for the first time is an image I hope flashes before me when I'm an old woman.  Your daddy was so proud he nearly burst.

You like things organized and quiet.  You got your own room for the first time a few months ago and it is far and away the cleanest kid bedroom in our house.  Your books are always neatly on the shelf (except for the 4 or 5 that are always in your bed with you!) and you like to keep things in your room just so.  You said you sleep fantastic now that Miles isn't jumping down to the bottom bunk to play with you all hours of the night.  Daddy and I go up at night to watch you sleep a lot more than is probably healthy.  You sleep perfectly still with your little hands folded up by your face like the baby on the toilet paper package.  It's darling and so peaceful.  I'm glad you love your new room.  It's very grown up and covered in maps and your treasures you've collected.

This year you discovered online gaming and this will forever be the year of Minecraft.  I wish I could count the hours you've spent building worlds on there with Sadie.  It's kind of your thing.  I think you like it because it's quiet.  As loud as it is in this house sometimes, I'm glad you've got a little bit of an escape. 

You spend a lot of time outside, too.  You and your brother and sisters jump on the trampoline so much I'm surprised that you haven't jumped a hole in it. You and the neighbors have been working on building a clubhouse in the woods for almost a year.  It still looks like some random pieces of wood and string and stuff, but you all think it's an oasis.  You and your BFF Grace spend hours doing all kinds of stuff, only you are both so quiet, I haven't figured out exactly what it is you do!  She's been your best friend for years now and kids in your class are starting to tease you all about being boyfriend and girlfriend.  You both groan about the teasing to your respective parents, but to each other, you just keep on being the best companions and partners.   Her mom and I joke that the reason you all are so quiet is that you've been friends so long, you don't need words anymore- kind of like you all have your own silent "twin" language.  Good friends are so special and you all are truly a gift to each other. 

Your sense of humor is my favorite.  You are just hilarious in the wittiest way possible.  You have a deep thinking kind of comeback to most things that keeps me in stitches.  You are quirky and silly and just so goofy.  You just make me a smilier person.  

I'm so proud to be your mom.  You are good and sweet and fiercely devoted and a precious treasure to all- especially me.  You are a mama's boy through and through and I wouldn't have it any other way.  I love you to the moon and back!

Love,
Mom

Noah's Birthday Interview

***Every year, I interview each of my kids on their birthday.  Usually, I ask the same questions every year so that I can watch how their answers change (or don't change) from year to year (2013) (2012) (2011)  (2010) (2009).  Sometimes I toss in a few new ones so that I can make sure to catch their little quirks and thoughts! ***

Mom:What do you want to be when you grow up?
Noah: Marine Biologist
Mom:  Still?  You've wanted to be a marine biologist for a long time!  Why do you think that's what you want to do?  (I think you'll be awesome at that!)
Noah: Cause I love animals.  I just think aquariums are funner than zoos cause it seems like a lot of animals at the zoo are just not as much fun.

Mom: Do you want to get married when you grow up?
Noah: Yes!

Mom: Do you want to have kids one day?
Noah:  Yes!
Mom:  How many?
Noah: Four.
Mom:  Why four?
Noah:  So it can be even- two girls and two boys (sound like any family we know?!)

Mom: What is your favorite thing about yourself?
Noah:  Well, I don't what my favorite is.
Mom:  Tell me some things about your personality then?
Noah: Well, I'm smart and I love my family and I like video games and I'm sweet.

Mom: What is your favorite thing to do at school?
Noah: When I go to TAG (talented and gifted program) because I get better at math and stuff

Mom: What is your favorite joke?
Noah: Why do elephants never get on the computer?  Answer:  Because they're afraid of the mouse.

Mom: How do you like to spend your free time?
Noah: Playing outside and playing on my kindle.  (Minecraft and Terraria)

Mom: What is your favorite thing about mommy?
Noah:  That you love me and that you are so nice.

Mom: What is your favorite thing about daddy?
Noah:  That he always tries to make me feel better if I am sad.

Mom: Who are your best friends?
Noah: Grace, Cynthia, Brady, Jalynn, Avery, Abby and Sadie is my best friend.

Mom: What is your favorite holiday?
Noah: I like Christmas a lot a lot a lot but I also like Halloween.

Mom: What is your favorite thing about having a brother and sisters?
Noah: I always have somebody that can help me with things.
Mom: What's the worst part about siblings?
Noah: That sometimes they get on my nerves and they are annoying sometimes.

Mom: What do you think that high school will be like?
Noah: Crazy!  Cause there will be so many people and I will have six classes and I might forget where my locker is!

Mom: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Noah: I would go to Hawaii for a week!

Mom: If you could make up your perfect day and do anything you wanted, what would you do?
Noah: I would have every super power in the entire world, stay up all night, have a party, and be on the beach.

Mom:  What is your favorite memory of this last year?
Noah:  When we went to the beach.

Mom:What's one thing you really want to learn how to do?
Noah: Back flips.

Mom:  Why are you so cute?
Noah:  Cause you made me cute!


Current Favorites:
color: red
toy: kindle
movie: Despicable Me 2
TV show: Brain Games on National Geographic Channel
food: chocolate cheesecake
candy: Reese's
book: All the Magic Tree House books
song: This is Amazing Grace (Phil Wickham) Shake it Off (Taylor Swift)  All About that Bass (Meagan Trainer)
sport: swimming
ice cream: chocolate

A look at Noah's last year in pictures...

 




























October 15, 2014

For Posterity (Since God Knows I'm not Keeping Up With Baby Books)

It's been a while since I've updated on all the kids.  Here's a little rundown of each of them (in age order to be fair because, sweet baby Jesus... if I hear it's not fair one more time...)

Sadie:
Somewhere in the middle of her 10th year this year, Sadie turned into a 30 year old woman.  It's like I split in half and she was the other half.  It amazes me how much like me she is.  We have a standing date to watch an hour of TV together, just the two of us, every Tuesday night and we giggle at the same time and the same words fly out of our mouths at the same time and she pretty much has learned how to mimic my every thought and move.  The comments section of her report card says the same thing every year... "Sadie is an old soul"  So old soul-ish in fact, that after a particularly hard day at school she flung her backpack and said, "UGH!  I just wanna eat ice cream and listen to Adele!"

We spent the better part of this last year trying to get to the bottom of some endocrinology/health issues for Sadie.  A couple of weeks ago she got the all clear from the doc and is feeling so much better than she did in the spring.  We are grateful!  It's hard to watch your kiddo feel bad on a daily basis!

We can hardly keep this child in books.  She's devouring them one after another.  We love a lot of the same books and it's so much fun to have conversations about A Wrinkle In Time and The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

I'm also finding that 10 is when the kids start to get angsty and dramatic.  When I go visit at school it's like a hive of drama surrounding those 5th grade girls. I feel like I have to remind her daily that people are crazy, hormones suck and that people need forgiveness and grace and to ask for those things from others when she's been a weirdo as well.  I've learned that due to the sucky nature of hormones that this phrase has to be repeated a lot because the hormones prevent it's absorption into the brain.  For real.  I'm also learning that the older my kids get the more I LOVE being around them.  I think I'm definitely an older kid kind of mom.

Our neighbor moved some horses in to the field beside out house and so now Sadie spends the afternoons giving the horses carrots and petting them and making up scenarios where these are her own horses and she runs a barn.  There's just something about girls and horses.  I love it.  I could totally see her as a grown up sitting in the barn with a horse and a book and being the happiest woman alive after a long day of being a chemist or something.

She's currently obsessed with all things Robin Hood, archery, a clubhouse she's building in the woods and some computer game called Terraria that I can't even begin to understand. She started playing in the school band this year.  She borrowed her GranMary's flute, but isn't quite sold on the band so far.
 Who is this grown up looking kid and what did she do with my little girl????





Noah:  
I absolutely want to freeze Noah at this age for the rest of his life.  Seven is my favorite.  He's so smart it almost scares me.  And yet- he is still just the perfect little boy age.  He is such a mama's boy.  He needs at least a half hour of uninterrupted snuggle time each day.  Full on melt into you snuggle time.  Physical touch is his love language and so when the weather is nice, we get our snuggles in on the hammock.  He loves to talk about all kind of things- mostly places he wants to travel and animals.  Those are his two big things right now.  He reads his animal encyclopedia religiously and jumps for joy when the Jr. National Geographic arrives in the mail every month.  Like his daddy, he studies maps and atlases and says things like ,"I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy visiting New York very soon."

Like all the other 7 year old I know, he loves Minecraft and could probably spend all day in some sort of virtual world building things if we let him.  He and his big sister are also glued to the Food Network these days.  Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen and The Pioneer Woman are riveting entertainment for them.  He's barreling through the Magic Tree House series of books and wants to be a scientist for Halloween.

We went to an amusement park this summer and Noah wanted to ride every roller coaster.  To be so timid about so many things, he sure does have an adrenaline junkie streak in him.  Lucky for him, his BFF, Grace, moved down the street at the beginning of the summer and he and Grace have pretty much worn a path through the asphalt going back and forth.  Noah spends a lot of time on the trampoline and was the first one of the kids to figure out how to do a flip and a cartwheel.  He was super proud.

There are just a million times a week where Kamron and I look at each other and smile at how cute Noah is at this stage.  It's like he's trapped in the middle of being little and being a big kid and it's awesome to watch him do big kid stuff but still be sweet and loving like a little kid.  He reminds me a lot to slow down and try to enjoy things with his constant, "Can you sit down for a little bit so I can get in your lap" cuteness.




He got a haircut and lost an upstairs tooth and turned into a grown man in the span of about 15 minutes.

Scarlett:
Scarlett has only been speaking English for two years now, but this child writes like a dream.  Writing is her Thing.  (And oh my gosh- for a writer mama it's soooooo exciting!)  Writing for her is not only an outlet but also how she's working to build connections.  Sometimes talking to people and coming up with the right things to say in the moment are really hard.  But with writing she can take her time and plan and she creates some of the most beautiful stories.  She also shows love through her writing.  It's really hard for her to tell us that she loves us or how she's feeling, but she writes it all down and presents it to us with the biggest grin on her face.  It's beautiful.


When Noah had a bad day, Scarlett went out in the driveway and collected some rocks she thought he would like and wrote him a little note to cheer him up.  Precious. 

Scarlett is loving the routine of school.  Some kids really thrive on routine and she's one of them.  She needs to know what's going to happen every minute of every day- so the act of going to school is fantastic!  She's beginning to realize that she's going to be here for the long haul and so she's starting to make some great friends and has even gotten invited to a birthday party or two.  She and Miles continue to be partners in crime and the love that those two have for each other is fierce.

The main thing she's into right now is playing school.  The biggest desire of her heart is to be a teacher.  She will make a fabulous teacher.  She lines up her dolls in front of the whiteboard (or Miles if she can make him sit still long enough) and she does less than, greater than or equal to math problems over and over and over.  She's made a behavior chart like the one she does at school for her dolls and sometimes I find "notes home from Ms. Terry" to the doll's parents about how the dolls were mean to each other or didn't finish their work.  Sometimes the dolls are good and she rewards them with extra recess.  She likes having total control over her classroom and her own little dream world to escape to.

Scarlett needed our dog in her life.  She wasn't super big on animals but our dog is now her best buddy.  She talks to Maggie constantly and they are so good together.   I can just watch her relax and see her worries melt away when she's with our dog.

** People often see "our story" and think that it's very unicorn-y and that Scarlett just fell into our family after a disruption and all was perfect after that.  I just wanted to say a quick word.  This is not true.  Long ago, I decided that her privacy on these matters was super important to us.  Her issues (though they are plentiful as one would expect) are not for the world to judge right now. So in the space we've carved out on social media, we are making a choice to share the successes and the joy.  I know that's not real life. But in her unique situation with multiple families involved, it just felt like the right thing to do to protect the privacy of all involved.***

We celebrated Scarlett being in our family for one whole year by going on a family ropes/obstacle course adventure.





Miles: 
Oh, Miles.  Still the comic relief and spark in our family.  He's always been the happy-go-lucky-go-with-the-flow kid but lately he's starting to show some real passion towards things... mainly football.  Child is obsessed.  Every night he's begging daddy to throw the ball with him.  He got a notebook and he and daddy wrote out plays and he goes out daily and practices running his routes.  He can run so fast.  He's been able to beat all the rest of us at running since he was four.  So now at 6, he smokes us.  And muscles?  Oh my word.  Muscles for days.  We aren't quite sure what happened but one morning he work up and he was covered in muscles that he is soooooooo proud of.  I think they popped up because he's never been still for one second in his life so all of life is a constant work out for him.

 Muscle confidence? Check!

He never sleeps.  We put him in bed and although he stays in his room, he wanders around, pulls books off the shelf to look at the pictures, does push-ups, sorts through his toys, until he just crashes.  Then, in a couple of hours he wakes up and repeats the process.  The lack of sleep doesn't seem to bother him because when I wake him up for school he smiles the most giant smile and says, "YES!  Time for morning!"  There's not much that gets him down.  Everyone just loves him.  Twice this summer people mistakenly called him a girl (the long hair trips some people up) and he got his feelings hurt.  That's the only time I can remember him ever being down for longer than 6 seconds.  It led to a couple of conversations about if he wanted to cut his hair that ended with him saying, "NAW MAN!  MY HAIR IS AWESOME!"

One of the biggest things for Miles in recent months is that he was discharged from the special ed program at school. Y'all, this was huge!  Miles started early intervention when he first got home almost 5 years ago.  Then when he turned three he went into the public school system and started getting services there.  Started at the bottom 7% across all areas of testing that the school put him through.  And now?  NOW HE'S ALL CAUGHT UP!  He still asks question like "how long are we going to be on vacation?"  And I'll say, "one week".  And then he'll say, "Oh, okay.  So a day?"  Just whatever.  He's reading and writing a little and trying so hard!  We are so proud!







There are some seasons of life that I can't wait to get through.  This?  This is not one of them.  The days are long sometimes but it feels like we have our feet underneath us (finally!) and can just enjoy the ride for a minute.  I'm telling you- this older kid but not "too older kid" thing is fabulous!

September 03, 2014

Me Too

We want our kids to think that we are superheroes.  Perfect in every sense of the word and that we can swoop in to save the day at a moments notice.  When they are little, this looked like how I'd always envisioned it in my head: being able to superglue broken favorite toys, building forts to protect them from monsters, and drawing just the perfect temperature bath to bring down a fever.

But as our kids grow, this shifts and changes.  Our kids realize that there are hurts that we can't protect them from.  And then what?  What happens when real life sets in and you can't always fix it?  They start their own relationships and have their own identities.  They go off to school and there are whole chunks of the day that you can't control.  People say mean things to them. And that perfect little bubble that mom has always fit in bursts and our kids realize that mom can't always swoop in and save the day with superglue and bandaids.  Parenting gets gritty. That's hard.

One of my kids has terrible anxiety.  They got it straight from me.  Anxiety was a part of myself that I tried to hide all of my life.  School made me nervous because I was always worried that people wouldn't like me.  For a people pleaser like me, that was a fate that seemed worse than death.  Swim team made me nervous because I knew that I wasn't the fastest and I worried that I would let people down.  At night I would lay awake and just worry, worry, worry about every little tiny thing that I couldn't control.  Because I didn't tell anyone about it, I never learned good ways to cope.  As a teenager I coped through eating disorders and tried desperately to find the approval I couldn't seem to give myself from boys who weren't always good for me.

Here's the thing.  There are a lot of things about me that I love.  I love that I'm empathetic towards others.  I'm generally a sunny person. I love people.  I think I'm moderately funny.  Depression and anxiety don't rule my life.  Until they do.  And it's hard to think that you're a funny, functional, loving person who sometimes lives in a really dark place because those two camps just don't seem congruent.  It's a place that I try not to take up residence in but sometimes we just don't have control over it.

In college it got better.  I needed a break from the small town bubble.  I needed the space to make mistakes and see other people who liked themselves even though they didn't fit the mold of "perfect".  (Y'all, I was the prom queen so I worked ridiculously hard at cultivating the perfect- to the point of utter exhaustion)  I get that sometimes the people suffering do not look like the people who are suffering.  They sometimes look like the people floating around at the top with their combed hair and size 4 designer jeans.  College was like coming up for air. I gained weight and discovered that people still kinda liked me.  I made good friends.  I met a boy (who is now my husband) who liked the quirky things about me and who didn't care that sometimes I was a train wreck.  But there were and still are a lot times where I feel like I have to keep up that facade that life is always peachy.  

One of those is with my children.  There's just something awesome about being adored by your kids.  They think that you make magic just by existing.  So I worked really hard at trying not to show the ugly parts of myself to my kids.  Even while battling postpartum and post adoption depression I tried relentlessly to make sure that my kids saw a happy mom who had her crap together.  I thought that's what they needed.  But one of my kids needed me more than she needed the facade.  It's something that I'm just figuring out.  I don't know why it's taken me so long.  When I was 18 and had just moved out of the house, I watched a close family member go through a complete nervous breakdown.  I think it embarrassed them at the time.  What person wants to appear that vulnerable?  But for me, it was lifesaving.  A person can only hold it together so long and seeing him stop trying to hold it all together freed me tremendously.  He's who I call now when I'm on the brink because he doesn't try to fix me.  He just listens and says, "Yeah.  Anxiety sucks.  I hate it."  And that's what I need.  Permission to feel.

For some reason it took me a long time to apply this to my child who suffers from anxiety.  On the outside she looks a lot like that person who has it together- straight A's, a few close friends, the kindest heart of anyone you will every meet.  Essentially, she is me when I was her age.  One of those long nights of laying in bed worrying about her made me start thinking that it was time she knew the truth about me and how much alike we really are.  I just couldn't quite figure out how.  Until one day she came home with a list...

People who don't have depression or anxiety often think you can just will yourself to be happier.  Or to have more energy.  Or that you can just wake up one day and just freakin' decide that you are going to not be depressed.  Like depression is just a skin that you shed and walk away from. They give you all these valuable "tips" on happiness.  Believe me- I hate it when the darkness comes and if there was a way to just will it away, I would have done it.  And probably most other people would, too.  It has taken me a long time to realize that it just can't be done.  Sometimes the greatest accomplishment is in recognizing that some things just take time and space.

So my daughter came home with a list.  On this list were gratitudes.  I'm a grateful person so I see how this was well intentioned.  I see the value in breathing in all the things we have in our lives to be thankful for.  But to use gratitudes as a way to cure anxiety and depression just made things worse for my child.  I asked her about the list.  It was a tip she was given when she had a panic attack at school.  Probably for kids who were just nervous about a test or something making a list of all they have to be grateful about might have been calming.  But for my child... she looked over that list and it made her feel horrible.  "I have all of these things and I'm still worried all the time."  The whole "too blessed to be stressed?" is like the Christian cliche for "Jesus only likes you when you are happy."  It's the kiss of death for people who struggle with mental health issues.  It's the "you don't deserve to feel how you feel because it could be soooo much worse" that helps no one.  I could tell she was feeling the pressure to conform to the notion that she wasn't allowed to feel her feelings.  That she was feeling guilted about her anxiety.  It's a feeling that I have felt my whole life and it's icky.  I knew that was the moment she needed my realness.

I held her tight. I told her all about how I often feel the same way.  I told her specific stories over my life when I felt exactly like she was feeling.  I didn't try to fix her.  I helped her know how to do deep breathing and a few other ways to help self sooth.  But mostly, she just needed someone to say, "Yeah. I get it.  It's hard and I'm sorry that it's hard."  There is SO MUCH POWER IN KNOWING YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There is so much power in telling our kids that we love them no matter what- especially when they are feeling vulnerable.  It seems that so often we expect kids to never have a bad day.  Sometimes it's easy to think of childhood as "the golden years" where you don't have a care in the world.  But being a kid is hard.  There are bad days.  There are bad weeks.  There are bad years, for Christ's sake. Sometimes our kids just need to know that we grant them permission to drop the facade and fall apart and that it's okay because real people aren't perfect.  REAL PEOPLE FALL APART SOMETIMES. Good things happen when we are real and authentic with people.  Even our kids.

I worried (surprise) that once I opened up to her about how much I often struggle that my daughter would see me as flawed and someone that she couldn't depend on to help her through.  Instead, being human and honest together is one of the greatest gifts I could have ever hoped for.  It was just what she needed.  I watched something transform between the two of us that drew us closer and made her felt safer and more loved. Us chronic people pleasers forget that we don't need permission from others to have a bad day but sometimes it's nice when we do get it.  Just as my dearest friendships in life have come out of vulnerability and transparency with others, my greatest connections with my children are now coming from the same place.  It's kind of beautiful. Sometimes beauty from brokenness is the best kind of beauty there is.

For me it was a great reminder that in our "me too" there is more connection and healing than we could ever dream of.    

August 21, 2014

A Peek At My Favorite Spaces In Our House

Our kids are back to school.  Thank you sweet, little 6 pound 7 ounce baby Jesus. I love these little humans, but school is the loveliest little routine builder ever and the older I get the more I crave a routine.   

First day of 5th, 2nd, 2nd and 1st grade



So the children went to school and I scrubbed the last 2.5 months of sticky goo (otherwise known as summer) off of every surface of the house.  So while the house was moderately clean, I thought I'd take a few pictures and show you a few of my favorite spaces. (We have a house full of floor to ceiling windows and I'm not a good photographer, so forgive the washed out photos and the dog that wanted to be in almost every shot)

We moved in right at a year ago and I *think* I have most things exactly how I'd like them to be.  A few words about my decorating style... I love to buy local.  I love to repurpose.  So most of the things in my house were bought used or thrifted and refinished.  It helped me decorate on a shoestring and also made me feel like my home was less box store/cookie cutter and more unique to us.  Allow me to give you the tour.


THE LIVING ROOM:

My favorite things about the great room are the high ceilings and that sign that hangs between the windows.  It's a piece of wood from the milking room of my Grandaddy's farm.  A friend stenciled the lettering for me.  I love having that piece of the farm's history displayed.  (Paint color: Revere Pewter/Benjamin Moore)

My bestie salvaged several old windows and shared them with me.  I blew up some of my favorite family photos and taped them into the frames and hung them all around my house.  Those window frames tend to be the one thing that people are really drawn to when they come over to visit.


Our built-ins hold all of our favorite momentos. 



This sign is one of the first things I displayed in our house (from an etsy store I love) along with my favorite picture of the first time I met Miles. 

On the opposite side of the living room are the stairs.  This week,  I had my girlfriends over for breakfast and a frame hanging party up the stairwell.  I have such awesome friends who will dangle off of 20 foot ladders brandishing cordless drills.   

I found these frames at a little local vintage shop.  They were gross and gaudy gold and beat up and all mismatched.  Some chalk paint was just the trick to get them to all be presentable.  I love that they all have various textures and borders.  They aren't too matchy matchy but still go together.  They are imperfect because I let my 10 year old paint them, but that's just the way I like it.  My husband had a hard time catching my vision for empty frames on the stairwell, but he now loves it just as much as I do.  

My favorite little corner.  I always think the bottoms of stairs are awkward so we popped some color in the corner and it livened up the whole room. 

THE MUDROOM: 

This may well be the most functional space in our whole house.  I wanted a mudroom desperately when we built this house.  I wanted to have a place where backpacks and shoes lived.  It's like organizational heaven.

Those cubbies were a Craigslist find.  My BFF saw the listing and said, "YOU NEED THESE".  They were part of an old cubby system that came out of a school.  They were pretty nasty and kind of 1980's school house so I gave it a coat of paint with a super high gloss black so it's easy to wipe off.  

 We have a local art shop that does drop in painting on days off of school.  The kids created these adorable canvases, so we arranged all of the kiddos artwork in this room and it is the first thing you see when you walk in our house.  (Paint color: Wheatgrass/Sherwin Williams) 

The mudroom as seen from the kitchen.  We mark the kids' heights on that giant ruler on the left. 

THE ROOM WE CALL THE KEEPING ROOM:
When we were ready to move, we looked at a billion houses.  None were quite right for our family so we decided to build.  But one of the houses that we looked at had this little second living room type thing off the back of the kitchen and we knew that we really wanted one of those because with as many kids as we have it seemed like a good idea to have another quieter living room type area.  Our builder said it's called a hearth room if there's a fireplace in it and a keeping room with no fireplace.  So keeping room it is.  


 It's our calm room.  No TV in this living space.  It's where we play games.  It's where Kamron and I sit if it's too cold or hot to sit on the deck.  (Paint color: Wheatgrass/ Sherwin Williams)
We keep all of our family photo albums on that bookshelf and we go through them all the time.  They used to just stay in a box, but I love having them all displayed.  That little dressing table on the far right was the first piece of furniture that I bought in our married lives.  It was $10 at a yard sale. It was the first "ours" in the melding of the his and hers.   

extra kitchen seating

THE ENTRYWAY:



  
I wanted a serene entryway.  It stays serene because no one actually ever walks in those front doors.  We are garage door kind of people and so everyone just comes in our mudroom.


THE OFFICE:

  Normally, this rug is covered in Legos since the giant tub of Legos lives here.  I was super nervous to go with such a dark color on the walls, but I ended up really loving it.  (Paint color: Newportberry Blue/Benjamin Moore)
  
My grandfather built this bookcase for me for my 10th birthday.

DINING ROOM:

All the paintings I bought in Congo are framed in this room.  We are some of the only people in America I know who actually use their dining room on a regular basis.  We heart dinner parties. But alas, my table is covered in back to school stuff so this is the only peek at the dining room.  

That sideboard came out of my great-grandmother's house.  It stores all of the things that won't fit in my kitchen cabinets.  Furniture that doubles as storage = good.  Pops of color in corners make me so happy!  

 And just to keep it real... my kid's rooms are a slop fest 75% of the time (and currently so are my bedroom and kitchen)... so the rest of the house is a disaster and is not suitable for human consumption. And the reason for this is because kids.  I think that kids should be kids and their rooms are their business and they can play and leave out messes and create forts and cities out of blocks up there til the cows come home.  So one day when the behavior is atrocious and they earn extra chores, those upstairs rooms will be cleanish and picture worthy.  Maybe another day...

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