House Updates

We are finally moved back into our house after a CRAZY renovation experience. Let’s just say that if you asked me if I’d recommend our contractor, I’d say (to quote Meghan Trainor) “My name is NO”.

But they’re finally out and we are enjoying being settled back into our little white house. I wanted to share a few before pictures of what the house looked like when we originally bought it in April, 2009 followed by the most current updates we’ve made this year.

The goal all along with the renovation has been to return this house to it’s probably never realized before glory. It’s technically a cape cod style but what I loved about it from the first time I laid eyes on it is that it has kind of a farmhouse feel. It also has some traditional elements so I suppose the best way to describe her would be an eclectic hybrid… or just confused. We’ll go with hybrid.

To get us started, just in case you’ve never seen the exterior of our “1980’s traditional cape cod farmhouse” stunner…

Our House  

Kitchen BEFORE
Kitchen AFTER
We used Benjamin Moore White Dove on the cabinets and went with a grey and white quartzite countertop. We changed the entire layout of the kitchen to make it more funtional. Moving the sink to the new bar gives me the ability to watch the girls outside thru the bay window while I’m making dinner. Love it. Most of the finishes in the kitchen are polished chrome. I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to feel about this look but I LOVE. IT. Elegant without being stuffy.

Dreams do come true… in the form of big ol sinks and chrome faucets.

Sweet little bar area where the girls eat breakfast every morning.
We got rid of our microwave because we prefer the old fashioned way of heating our food. Seeing how this mini mantel came together just confirms that we made the right call. Sorry, convenience lovers!

The breakfast room before.

Breakfast room AFTER.
I prefer to call this the breakfast nook. Sounds so much cozier. Plus, the word “room” is far to generous for this tiny little space. It’s my favorite place to sit and talk with Matt in the morning before the girls get up. It’s also my current work area while my custom desk is being built in the den (stay tuned!). We added a new light fixture and furniture but that’s all it took to update this little space.

Dining Room BEFORE

Dining Room AFTER
New paint color, new flooring, farmhouse table, buffet complete with a Magnolia wreath because #joanna
We LOVE eating in this space. This Horchow chandelier was a splurge that I saved up for but it was worth every. penny. Love it so much!

Stairs BEFORE and AFTER
We had the old carpet ripped out and added stained stair treads to match the hardwoods.
I have some fun ideas of other visual interest to add to the stairs but that’s another naptime for another day.
My dad also built these awesome built ins with a bench and hooks. I’m always amazed at how we can take an idea of mine and turn it into a reality!

Den BEFORE

Den AFTER
My dad built these beautiful built ins around the existing fire place and I love the way they turned out. Now we have tons of storage underneath the built ins for DVD’s, games, Etc. 
Don’t mind the Bible verse sign I hadn’t hung yet when this picture was taken
OR the ironing board. Yeesh.

We went with this Jute rug from Target because not only do I love the look but it’s also super durable.

 That’s it for now! We still have lots of projects coming up that I can’t wait to share. That’s the beauty and curse of buying an old fixer upper. We have put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this house, but it’s been well worth it to see it slowly transform into OUR home.

Thanks for stopping by!

Laura

Baby Shower 101

I love baby showers.

In my pre-baby life, I was a wedding planner but I used to joke with Matt that if I could just plan baby showers for a living, I would! Not sure there’s enough of a market for that so here I sit waiting for another friend/sister to announce they’re pregnant so I can give them a shower. 
I have given two baby showers in the last two weeks so while all the details are fresh in my mind, I thought I’d share a few tips and ideas of how to throw a thoughtful and beautiful baby shower. 
The most important thing to keep in mind when planning a baby shower is mom’s taste. I know that sounds weird, but really, that baby is still snug inside that belly and hasn’t a clue what color scheme you’ve chosen for her (or his!) shower. So choose things that you think momma would like. I think sometimes people feel pressured to have tons of baby-themed items everywhere for a shower but I say pass. Try to create a space with your decor that celebrates what makes this mom special. Is she eclectic? Whimsical? Funky? Sweet? Just go with what she loves and don’t worry if it’s not all baby booties and butterflies. Choose baby-ish stuff to use very selectively and it’ll pack even more punch than an explosion of babies r us.
As far as decor goes, I love incorporating cute paper straws, fresh flowers, sparkly banners (for a girl) or bunting (for a boy). Depending on the time of day and what kind of food you’re serving, I think it’s a cute idea to incorporate some of momma’s favorite pregnancy cravings. It’s fun to work your menu around her favorite snacks! And let’s be honest, when you’re with child, it’s all about that food.
I know some people love them some shower games but I am just not a fan. Most of the games I’ve seen in the past seem more like tools of humiliation than actual fun so I have no tips there. What I like to do in place of games is to have a beautiful keepsake book that all your guests write a blessing for baby in. One of my dear friends did this for me at my shower with Reese and we still love looking thru her book and reading what everyone said to her. Even if you don’t do a book signing, try to take some time to think about incorporating something memorable and tangible that momma can take away from her time there. 
My favorite way to end a shower is to have a time of prayer and advice for the new mom. There are so many things I wish someone would have told me before I had my first baby and this is a great opportunity to pass along some wisdom to this new mom who has no clue what she’s getting herself into. If you’re afraid not enough people will share, you can always ask her mom/mother in law/grandmothers ahead of time if they could be thinking about a little piece of advice they would share. It just makes things more personal when you allow your guests to share about their experience in motherhood.
Hope this helps some of you first time baby shower planners! I hope to have a post soon on some of my favorite themes for baby showers but we will start here.
Happy planning!

Dear Girls

If you’re new to my blog, let me introduce you to my two beautiful girls.

Reese will be three in August and Rowen will be one in July. They are every bit as spunky and sweet as little girls should be. I love them to the moon.

Having five sisters myself, I know some of the challenges that girls face so I decided I’d start documenting some of the things I want my girls to know.

This first one is all about bullies.

The only thing that scares me more than my girls being bullied is my girls being that ones the bully others. So you’d better believe we are going to be talking about what to watch for and how to handle bullies. Goodness knows they’re out there.

Dear Girls,

Words are really powerful. You can hurt people with your words or you can help people with your words. You may not be able to control how other people treat you but you can always control how you treat others.

Choose to be kind.

Even when people aren’t kind back, choose to do it anyway. People will begin to appreciate your kindness and be drawn to it. Sometimes we think it’ll make us feel better about ourselves if we point out the yucky things in other people, but that never works. It’s a good idea to only talk about someone in a way that you would if they were sitting right in front of you. If you wouldn’t say it with them sitting right there, don’t say it at all.

I hope you’ll have the courage to stick up for yourself if someone is unkind to you. I hope you’ll have the courage to stick up for other people, too. You need to recognize that the people who are mean to others are almost always that way because they don’t like something about themselves. Remember that a bully is someone who finds people they think are weak and choose to be cruel to them. Watch out for those people and be careful about spending time with them. But if you must spend time with them, remember that

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

But also remember that sometimes the biggest bully you might ever come across could be in your own head. It will tell you that you aren’t smart enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, and on and on and on. You must remember that in the same way you should talk kind to others, you have to talk kind to yourself. If you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, focus on what you see that you do like. If you’re going to make a habit out of looking for the best in others, it just makes sense that you’d do that for yourself, too!

So be kind. To others and to yourself.

I love you both so much!

Love,

Mommy

“Let no unkind words come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up.”

Ephesians 4:29

Being a YES mom

If you follow our little fam on instagram, you probably couldn’t miss the fact that we took our first little vacation as a family of four. We had so. much. fun.

One the way down to the beach on Mother’s Day afternoon, I told Matt that I wanted this to be a week of YES. I wanted to say yes as much as possible. We are pretty disciplined people on the reg and that means a lot of no-nonsense parenting. Being strict isn’t a bad thing but I was beginning to feel that maybe we were using an iron fist where a gentle nudge could have worked just fine.

I always feel like the beach helps me to regain a sense of balance. It’s like I find my center there. If I feel like I’ve been swaying too far from one extreme to another, it just seems like everything evens out.

This week was no exception. We said YES so much that we started recognizing things that really were necessary to say NO to. Funny how it happened. We relaxed but we didn’t feel like we were being permissive.

We also found we started to enjoy this parenting thing a lot more. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve always liked being parents. Though goodness knows it has it’s moments. But we didn’t take ourselves so seriously. We just enjoyed Reese for who she was. She wanted to play on the wooden train longer? Well, we didn’t have anywhere to be that night. What could it hurt? So many times we are in such a hurry to get to the next destination, we miss out on the journey with our kids. Sounds very Hallmark channel, I know, but it’s true. Lingering a little longer was so sweet. We slowed ourselves down and let ourselves operate on her time frame for a few minutes.

I know what you’re thinking… “give kids an inch and they’ll turn into little dictators bossing their parents around and ruling the roost!” But the craziest thing was that saying YES actually made our NO carry even more weight to her little ears. Once we said it was time to go, she was much more willing to GO. And as we allowed her to have a little more freedom to just be two years old in all it’s craziness, we saw that it didn’t hurt anything.

I read once that you have to recognize the difference between childish irresponsibility and willful disobedience. Striving to set an environment where she has more freedom to be who she is kept us from having unrealistic expectations for her. For instance, if she wants to walk up the back steps by herself every day instead of walking up the front steps with us, she can do it. When she first asked, my initial response was “No, you need to walk with mommy” but then I thought about it further and realized “OH! Another opportunity for YES!” So up the back stairs she went. Maybe that was our biggest takeaway. Keep your eyes open for chances to just say YES.

Since we’ve gotten home we’ve returned to a lot of our daily disciplines but the difference now is that we are looking for opportunities to say yes. And it’s been so fun. I highly recommend it! After all, like every grandma tells me in Target, “These little years go by in a blink! Enjoy it!”

So let’s enjoy this, Mommas. Let’s say YES as much as we can. Let’s be YES Moms. Let’s look for opportunities to say YES to our kids so that our NO carries more weight.

Happy Weekend to YOU!!!!

Memory Verse Monday – Week 3

Hi, friends!

So excited about this awesome verse this week and I promise we will post a video tomorrow so you can see the hand motions. I think having little cues helps a LOT with remembering these verses week after week.

“Let no unkind words come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up.”

Ephesians 4:29
This one is pretty self-explanatory and if your kids are anything like mine, you won’t have any trouble finding opportune times to teach about speaking kind words. Some translations use the word “wholesome” instead of kind but we decided on kind since that’s the word we already talk about on a daily basis. 
Hope y’all have a great week!