Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thrifted Joy

I tried my dainty hands at making bug spray for the first time - easy peasy and I can't believe all these years I have struggled with "I don't know what to put on my kids but I don't want them being chewed on." It really is a problem. Mosquitoes will always be there, and unfortunately most ways to keep them off involve a lovely concoction of chemicals that can seep right into the skin...then absorbed into the bloodstream ( just being real's something to think about.) Who knew that witch hazel and a few essential oils are such a deterrent to the insect world? I used lemon grass, cedar oil and citronella in mine....

Shake it all together and you've got something pretty special with a twist of satisfaction. It's kind of pretty isn't it?

Luckily it doesn't scare off the bugs we want to keep...
Ladybugs are my favorite even though I've been known to swoon over a grasshopper or two - and I can chase down an earthworm with the best of them. Don't get me started on roly polys ...

While I was doing something as complicated as mixing a few ingredients together - the handsome husband was taking on the minor chore of redoing our dining room. He had finished the table with the before mentioned clearance stain - the color turned out a little darker then we expected but we like it. I think over time it may lighten just a bit.
Here is a before picture with our mix matched chairs...

I wanted to find some metal farmhouse chairs to go with the table or some bright white wood ones - unfortunately the metal chairs that are so popular right now are ,like, 100 bucks a chair. I personally didn't feel right about spending that much - especially since we would need four of them. You could feed a small village in Africa for that much - bear with me, it's just the way my brain works.
 We went to Ikea and loved some of their sturdy white ones but the 50 dollar per chair still didn't really make our hearts sing. Then the thrifty man of mine goes thrift store hunting and comes back with these THREE dollar ,amazingly NON rickety chairs that could probably hold five people without feeling over burdened - they are strong people. A few cans of spray paint and our hearts were not only singing ,our feet were dancing, the money part of our brain cha-chinging - our index fingers cramping (have you ever spray painted that many things at one time?) 
The "reveal" is coming in a moment - but first, I have to show some of our other thrifty finds and craftiness. 

The man also found me this beautiful set of bowls for $2.48 - they still had the original stickers on them. I'm thinking they were an unappreciated gift to someone that doesn't know the VALUE and BEAUTY of the common wood bowl. It's okay Cherry (yes, I name most of my belongings...) - the Corley Family will love you for a very long time. I'm seeing lots of movie and popcorn nights with Cherry in the center of things. 

There's something special about eating out of wood - makes me feel a bit primal...and I love the way colors "pop." This little carved heart bowl has been my all time favorite summer purchase. 

Brady has been making himself his own jerseys...with matching facial hair. Hobby Lobby has plain t shirts for kids in the 2-3 dollar range - there's something about decorating a shirt that kids love. Brady prefers to make very specific designs with fabric markers while the other littles generally go the  90's puff paint  route. As they say in the south "whatever blows your dress up" - just be creative! That's what summers are for right? 

Here's my little 1 hour project from this morning - I'm trying to cheaply add a little bit of love to me and the man's room. I haven't been able to get a hold of the photographer from our wedding to order prints for our wall (I could only afford an album at the time of our wedding.) So, I'm...gasp...taking apart our album and framing some of those prints. I feel like it brings me a lot more joy to see us on the wall then hidden in a 15 pound BOXED album under our bed. 

Thank you for sticking with me...
Here is the reveal. 
Zac used some scrap wood in the shed and an idea of off Pinterest to build a bench for one side of the table. The kids LOVE sitting on the bench, and I enjoy being officially rustic chic.

I just love it - the man amazes me with what what he can do - self taught.

The dining room looks so bright and cheery now - I will credit my husband with the whole thing (except choosing the chair color...that was all yours truly.) So, all in all, here's the breakdown :
Found table and original chair set at the Goodwill Outlet for 40 dollars
We kept the table and sold the 6 chairs for 60 dollars
So that' the green 20 bucks.
Bought four chairs for 3 dollars each and a can of dark stain for 5 bucks.
Still in the green 3 dollars.
Bought 15 dollars worth of spray paint.

So, if we also add the original cost of the scrap wood and how much we used - we got our entire dining room set for 20 dollars. Moral of the story - used is awesome and a little elbow grease mixed with a pinch of patience pays off.  Thrift stores and craigslist have become dear to our hearts and lifelong friends. 
It's such a blessing that there are small things in this world that can bring us so much joy - from heart bowls and eyeliner beards, essential oils and crisp white. It's all a blessing isn't it? 
What's bring you joy today? 

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” 
― Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Count Your Blessings

I'm grateful this morning for my littles and their willingness to learn ...even during the summer.
I'm thankful for books and laptops and colorful paper and pencils. 
I'm thankful for the opportunity to school at home.
I'm thankful for creativity.

I'm thankful that no matter where I am, no matter how far away from trees and mountains I find myself ...there is always the big beautiful blue sky to look up at. I'm thankful for it's changing colors, the movement of the clouds, the glow of the sun setting. I'm thankful that God is so creative and so good that He would make something that is so peaceful be so alive. 

I'm thankful for exercise, for morning yoga. I'm thankful for smoothies and gorgeous jars to drink them out of. I'm thankful for the diversity of strawberries and mango and bananas and how when they are all blended together...they can make something truly amazing. It inspires me to look at this world and people and love their differences...because you see, in the end...we are all the same. That's a lot of thought from just a smoothie...but heck, I'm thankful the way my mind works!

I'm thankful for pops of color, for garden gnomes hiding under lemon balm. I'm thankful for the little insects that are working their beautiful magic under the soil and on top of the delicate flower petals. I'm in awe at how all things can work together for good.

I'm thankful for happy faces, for silly smiles - for soft cheeks and toothy grins. I'm thankful that right now, at 30 years old, I get to live out the highlight of  my life...making a positive impact in children's lives. I'm thankful that no matter how many times I've been told "I wouldn't be fulfilled by just baking cookies all day" I know that being a good mom is so much more then that. It's not just the cookies, or the dirty dishes, or dealing with meltdowns and wiping away tears - it's the opportunity to serve, to grow, and to give of myself on a daily basis, so that, in the long run ... I can be my best. I can truly move towards being selfless right here where it matters most - in my home. I'm sure there will be travel later, opportunities to reach out to more souls...but I'm happy that I know, that this is my big moment, this is the final act...this is the moment to shine. I'm thankful for motherhood.

I'm thankful for friendship. I'm glad that my kids have each other.

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh?" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. "I just wanted to be sure of you.” 
― A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

There really is so much to be grateful for isn't there? Roses, grass...those dandelions that so many think are "pesky" that I know are colorful and purposeful. 

 I"m happy for kids that can make a bed out of a box, that love to pretend that they have children ~ it's a good thing. I'm thankful for kids that have imaginations. I'm thankful for soft piano music in the mornings, David Nevue my all time favorite pianist and the way his songs instantly calm my soul. 
What good things are in your life this morning? 
Have a happy Tuesday friends.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Beauty in Mundane

  1. 1.
    lacking interest or excitement; dull.
    "seeking a way out of his mundane, humdrum existence"

 I know as mom's we often use the word mundane ... "I'm tired of all of the mundane tasks" or at least "I'm so bored doing the same thing over and over and over again everyday." I've been there. I've been there a lot. In our house there is always at least a load or two of laundry to be done, even if I just finished four. There is always a meal to make, or a meal to clean up, or a meal to plan. There is always at least one floor in our house that needs swept, a toilet scrubbed...and don't get me started on my glass shower doors! They are , truly, the bane of my existence. So much so that I don't bother with them ... I figure the shower must be a pretty clean place since a lot of soap and water and  happens in there right? I'm one of these people that actually enjoys cleaning - it's the cleaning with the need to exercise with the need to read to a kid with the need to clean up a puddle of pee that gets me. It's exhausting. It's "a truck ran over me" most nights. 
Mundane ... boring, tedious, TIRESOME, run -of- the mill. 

I feel like "mundane" associated with "motherhood" is such an oxymoron though. I mean, having little kids is anything but boring. I don't think I've ever had a "run of the mill" conversation with one of my kids, watching them grow is pretty darn exciting, although their training can be tedious if I focus too much on "my way" instead of "working with their uniqueness. But still, let's be honest, it can be hard doing the same thing day after day, especially if you are isolated and tucked away in your four walls of home. 
My reality is, the husband works away and I work at home. We wanted this life for a huge host of reasons, that I won't get into here...but the main one being - we thought it best for our children. Eleven and a half years in, four kids, a move across the country, two firefighter recruit schools ... I still want this life but often I can get pretty caught up in "but who am I really? I've never been able to shine, I don't matter to the world, I have no talents to offer...I have no degree... I'm pretty stinkin invisible." Scrubbing away at baked on scrambled egg pans was not my picture of "making a difference." It just wasn't. Neither was 10 years of diapers...or currently, changing my boys from boy to spider man to superman to minion 100 times a day. 

My husband started Paramedic School this morning. Up until a week ago I was pretty anxious about the change of daily schedule that was going to be happening. Basically I was going to be thrown into 6 months of mundane, to bear by myself...and I was going to need to be a big girl when the man came home because he needs to study and rest his brain. In my heart I kept pumping myself up with "I got this, I'm good at schedules" but then in reality I remember my track record of becoming overwhelmed and freaking out after a couple of months. Another words, I was very scared of being able to do it, but in the end not doing it really well. Having regrets. Can I say being selfish without to much backlash? 
And then I read something :

If God doesn't rule your mundane, then He doesn't rule you. Because that's where you live.
- Tripp

Dagger to the heart. A good pain...the convicting kind of "if this truth can reach my heart I could be different, I could grow" kind of pain. 

What if all of these mama tasks that I do hour upon hour could be my joy or "my pleasure" as they say at Chik Fil A. What if I could change the way I look at those dishes? What if I am actually part of the bigger picture - what if in 6 months I graduate from paramedic school because I was a needed support at home and I did it well. What if the laundry and praying for my little people can change the world? What if I am part of it all, not forgotten? What if I can praise God for my babies as I fold the laundry, think of all the wonderful things my husband is too me when I cook a meal, what if I could change my approach?  What if, I gave Him those struggles because He is Help. 

Giving our day to Him, our works to Him, reaching out to others even if the "others" are the souls in our own homes, is what its all about. These kids, these coworkers, this spouse, they are part of eternity. I can take care of them because He takes care of me. I can touch lives through my cookies, I can be an encouragement listening to my daughter squeak away on her recorder...I can touch MANY lives by giving my husband a comfortable home to come home to while he works to better himself so he can serve others...
Those in the background matter just as much as those on the stage.
We are not invisible, and although the tasks can seem boring at times our song doesn't have to be. He sees us and to Him we are gifted and beautiful and probably right where we need to be for now. Don't let them tell you otherwise...don't let you tell you otherwise...
There is glory in the mundane.

Friday, June 12, 2015


"Cousins...childhood playmates who grow up to be Forever Friends."

The Cousins came and we picniced...

We walked...

...and we talked.

We looked.

She "Annie Oakleyed" herself

We hugged quite a bit...

...and had lemonade for two..errr, make that four.

We attempted a photo ... this is the only good one out of 20.

He flew...

- and uncles were welcome too. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

~ Love ~

Pretty flowers...I love them all - even the brown ones, the wilting ones. I love them because they did their job - they bloomed. 

Little children...I love them all. You see ... they are simply and amazingly exactly who they are suppose to be. They bring so much fun and light to this world. They are raw, real...they are good and full of so much love and so much depth. They create. They are aware. They can fly. 

I love songs ... they stir, they move, they excite. Sometimes a song quiets, stills the heart. Sometimes they softly carry a message, sometimes a song loudly screams, deafens. It does what the musician intends ... a song communicates. A song knows who it is. A song is confident.

Eyes...I love them for so many reasons. A stare, a glance...a wink, a tear, misty and blue , serious or twinkling - they mirror the soul. They translate the heart, they speak for the mind. They see what is around them ... they can notice what's coming from far away. They can look back to the past and learn and remember - they can look to the future with joy.  Bringing light to four pairs of little blue eyes is my mission. I thank the Creator for eyes.

Can I love cookies? Soft, chewy, melting chocolate and slightly salty - simple goodness yet complex.  

Creativity. Colors and swirls, abstract and symmetrical. Paint becoming trees, strokes printing words ...glitter and metallic and flat and smooth. Creativity comes from a place deep inside, it can make the closed become transparent, the plain ... inspirational. Art with purpose. Art for fun. Art simply being

Awareness...using all things in our power, assets and gifts and words and body language, communicate love. Choosing joy always...after we've grappled with our fears, with our anger, with our intention, our failures ...when we've learned our strengths and noticed our own unique beauty ~ what we as individuals bring to the table. Choosing joy when it's easy and when it hurts. Choosing to use this life, these senses, these gifts to communicate love - this is the ultimate purpose, this is the answer to "why are we here?" It's complex yet so very simple - we are here to magnify the beauty of God. We are here to magnify His goodness, His love. We are here because we bring Him delight in who we are. Revel in who He has made you. 

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” 
― Thich Nhat Hanh

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
~ Matthew 5:5,8 The Message

Thursday, June 4, 2015

It'll Be Fine

What has me thinking so much about what I want out of life is that, we as a family, are getting pretty close to making some big decisions. I don't like big decisions. They scare me - I feel like you put all of yourself into something and then if it doesn't work out...well, the regret....I don't want the regret. It's a faith's a "I'm scared to jump" issue. It may be "I'm afraid to change what I've always wanted issue." 
Maybe I'm just nuts. Maybe I just want the best. Maybe I should learn that we can learn without regrets - maybe that's it. 

I'm an earth lover. Nothing makes me more happy than a long hike through sunlit woods and the smells of sap and earth and the songs of birds and bees. Nothing. I have been known to actually hug trees - to find a pine that is basking in sunlight and to stick my nose right up to it's bark and say to my kids "come here guys, smell. Isn't that just the most beautiful smell?" I love the earth. 
Because of this love I have always thought that I would live somewhere open and green, lots of fresh air and quiet space. I thought I would have animals and possibly bees and fruit trees and rain barrels. I thought I would see my kids running free, jumping on rocks their second nature - hard good physical labor their hobby - I imagined little fingers helping to unburden the always full clothesline, I imagined berries in baskets...propped on little hips. I saw a pantry filled with little jars full of jams and homemade pickles, I smelled homemade bread and rosemary. 
This is what I wanted. When I describe "home" I guess this is the dream that I wanted that for three long years I've felt could in no way ever come to true. 

We have a dilemma. I think in the long run it's a good dilemma - but sometimes the longings of one's heart can get in the way of other longings. It's pretty conflicting. Our dilemma is simply: we love people. My husband and I really really would love to help people...the poor, the broken, the hopeless. We love them. Our second dilemma (did I say just just one?) is not as simple : we cherish financial peace. At least we think we cherish it...we've never quite had it but we cherish the idea of it.

Going off far from the city would maybe make us least in the areas that we have looked (which is everywhere around here.) We could do things from far can give online, pack care packages, drive into town often to meet at our church and volunteer around town...that could be a positive impact for sure. We have explored this option over and over again because our ideal is to not live in the city. We could try to find a very old house that wasn't very big...but land in these parts is pricey. Also, we don't know to what degree our sons will be independent when they are would be good to have room for them no matter what the future holds. Winters are long around here and we would enjoy SPACE for kids to play - we don't need a huge house. We would like space though. We have lived in 900 square feet before with four kids - we will leave it at "that was quite an experience." See...there are some significant dilemmas with my "dream."
 I can't shake this feeling - maybe it's not a feeling. I don't absolutely know if our ideal is what is going to be best for our family. My hubby doesn't know either. He says we can have both...a home with all of those lovely, fresh baked bread, peace - and we can have the city if that's where things work out for us to be. 
The good heart is becoming excited about this possibility - this Urban Homesteading possibility. What if we did live right smack in the middle of a big metro city? What if our home was still a refuge of peace because of our spirit and our priorities? What if my yard, even if it was only 1/4 of an acre, was full of good things? What if I had fruit trees lining the yard, a small chicken coop in the corner, raised beds full of spinach and peppers and tomatoes to share? What if my hearts desire and my longings could come true even if they are different then I imagined? What if this would also allow me to be more flexible with volunteering, closer to where the homeless live, closer to music lessons and friendships? What if my heart is stirring and it's Him that's preparing me for something very amazing....a change of heart without a change of intent? 

Deep down I know that beauty in simple things is who I am and no matter where I live, simple things will be a part of my life. The kids are already barefoot, my food is already homemade, flowers are already is constantly filling my home and giggles are abundant. 
Today I'm just inspired. Today I've realized that a dream is what you make of it. Life is what you make of it. You are what you make of you...and home really is "where the heart is."

My heart is with my four littles, my amazing husband, and my amazing God. 
It's going to be fine. It's going to me more then fine. I'm already home.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

New, Old ... New Out of Old

Other than a dimple in a cute little chin,
What’s more adorable than a toothless grin?
~Azu "Betty" Espezia

Newness :
A cute little hole in a cute little mouth...
Is it strange that I felt a little emotional about my Koala losing a tooth? It's a right of passage...a very fast coming passage that I'm not sure I want to travel. It's the "my little strawberry blonde is getting older" journey. One perk of him losing teeth - he's pretty freaking cute. 

Old as the Hills :
A twenty dollar table from the goodwill outlet. Let me tell you, this table is SOLID. It is also a very sad shade of whitish, grayish, orangish...some of that orange is the furniture stripper stuff we sprayed on the top. Just wait for man is getting crafty and letting the inner carpenter come out. Yum.

The Same :
This is probably the 4th painting I've done of birch trees. I can't help myself ... they are fast, fulfilling, and remind me that my heart belongs in a forest. 

Just had to show everyone the inner carpenter still my heart. This picture has no other point in this post except to remind me, when I'm 65, that I had it very very good. 

Oranges, purples, and bright green. The blooms are emerging and the herbs are fragrant in my little tire garden. Glory be for summer. Glory be for mint. Glory be for rosemary. 

New Out of Old:
One rustic table just for me. It looks a little lighter in person and I'm pretty smitten with it's dark knotted charm. I love being able to see the grain in the wood - what's a home without character? It's so nice to redecorate without really purchasing anything except a can of clearance wood stain. Now to find some farmhouse looking chairs and to get my hubby on board to build a bench...I save DIY projects to my pinterest on a board called "Doing it Myself." One can pretend.