Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to Date Your Spouse...When You Can't Afford It

Raise your hand if you desperately need a date night with your honey, but are dreading how expensive it's going to be. Yeah, there are lots of us out there! 

I will be the first to admit that my husband and I need to be better about dating. It's so easy to get caught up in the hubbub of life and not take focused time for each other. Then when you add kids to the mix, there's a whole other dimension there. Not to mention the added expense of child care! Here are a few tips I have for dating on the cheap.
 Let's get the babysitting thing out of the way. I know that we are extremely blessed in this area, and not everyone has these options, but I honestly cannot think of a single time in almost 3 years of parenting that I have paid someone to watch my kids. We are constantly blessed with friends and family who want to watch our girls. But that hasn't stopped us from getting creative. If you don't have people around who can sit for you, try to swap child care with another couple! We have done this with another family several times and it's so much fun! We will watch their kids for an evening or event, and then they return the favor another time. This way, two couples get date nights, it's free, and the kids have a blast, too! If that's still not an option for you, see tip #2. 

Stay in. There are so many fun things you can do for date night's in. I think the big difference is that you are being intentional about spending that quality time together. I know my husband and I can spend 3 nights a week together and hardly connect sometimes. It's all about taking the time to focus on one another. We've decided to make it a point to have one night a week where we either go out on a date, OR after our kids go to bed, we put aside computers, phones and other people to spend time with each other.
{Check out some awesome at-home date ideas from The Dating Divas}

Head outdoors. Isn't there just something about the great outdoors that can make a date extra special? It just never feels like an ordinary date when you are outside. At least for us! The really great thing about outdoor dates is that they are often free or really cheap! Here are a few ideas for dating outside: pack a picnic and eat it in a park, or grab take out and go find a picnic table or throw down a blanket in the park; build a fire, roast marshmallows and just enjoy being together; star gaze; go on a hike; borrow kayaks or a canoe from a friend and head to a local lake; head out on a long bike ride; check out a farmer's market; find a concert in a park. 

Ask for gift cards or memberships as Christmas and birthday gifts. I feel like my husband and I are constantly scratching our heads when our parents are asking us for gift ideas. Asking for gift cards to go out to dinner, tickets to a concert or event, a membership to a museum you like, or a coupon book for places around town would be an easy way to save on dates, or go on them for free! What could be a better gift than spending time with your love?!

Skip dinner, get dessert. I can't take credit for this tip, as it is something a friend shared with me years ago. If you don't want to spend a ton of money on dinner, but still want to go out, get dressed up and go to a fancier restaurant for dessert! Most of the time, my husband and I share dessert if we get it, because we can't ever eat a whole one ourselves, so we save even more when we do this. Before we had kids, sometimes we would go out for appetizers and dessert instead of dinner. Somehow it made it more fun to eat spinach artichoke dip and cheesecake for dinner! 

What are some ways you save on date nights? They can get expensive really easily! 
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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Welcome to the Neighborhood {Free Printable}

In April, we moved into a new neighborhood. We are in the tail end of homes in this neighborhood, so some people have already been here 2 or 3 years, but there are still homes being built. Up until this past weekend, we've been the newest neighbors. Right next door, a town home was just completed, so we'll have TWO sets of new neighbors! One moved in, so I wanted to take a little welcome gift.
 It kind of makes me sad that people aren't as "neighborly" as they used to be, so we have been purposing to really get to know our neighbors. It just makes living in a neighborhood so much better, doesn't it?! Knowing you have people you can borrow a cup of sugar from, or who will keep an eye on your house and let you know if something is off. I love the community aspect! 
Back to the point. We had met our new neighbor once when she came by to do the final walk through so we knew she was moving in with her two kids. I want to make her dinner, because I know how stressful moving is, let alone moving with two young kids! I love adding little touches to things, so I made up this printable to stick on the casserole. 
Right click to save photo. Personal use only, please!
I thought this would be cute to add to a casserole, or even just a plate of cookies. I'm sure if you search Pinterest you could find all kinds of cute new neighbor gifts. I left the bottom blank so you can write in your own names, or even throw your house number on there if you are just dropping something on the porch. I think everyone would love to be welcomed by the neighbors when they are moving into a new home! Enjoy! 
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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What's the Rush?

My oldest daughter is a few months shy of 3 years old. She is at such an amazing, fun, hilarious, brave, independent, and oh yeah, trying stage in life. She is so full of life and watching her explore and learn new things is the best thing ever. Kids are so much fun and toddlers have such a zeal for life that is contagious. They are also stubborn, test boundaries, and want to do it all themselves. These are not necessarily bad things when you figure in that they are learning to be independent and you can't learn if you don't try! BUT sometimes the attitude that goes along with it is not great. 
My husband and I were recently discussing how we've noticed that we both have been a little too harsh with her at times lately. This is not the way that we want to parent. We want to parent in love, at all times. I know that is way easier said than done, and we certainly are not perfect parents, but we try our best. We were talking about how up until the last several months, I couldn't understand how people yelled at their kids or got upset with them over little things, etc. because I never really had. Of course I had my moments of frustration and snippy-ness, but it was a lot more rare. Well, over the last several months I totally get it. When they are testing that same boundary for the kajillionth time, it is frustrating. As we were talking about this and talking about how we can enforce boundaries and rules without being angry or harsh with her, we both noticed something. The most common time for us to get annoyed or frustrated easily, is when we are rushing her along. When we're wanting to get shoes on and out the door and she insists on doing it herself. When we are walking up the stairs for lunch and she stops 17 times for no apparent reason, other than just to stop. That's when we reach that point...the point where we aren't the kind, loving parents we aim to be. Anyone else?! 
What I realized as we were talking about this though, is what is our rush? 75% of the time, in those situations we aren't in a hurry. Is it really a big deal if it takes us 90 seconds longer to get upstairs for lunch, or we are 2 minutes later to the grocery store than if I hadn't let her put her shoes on herself? I can understand if you are getting out the door and have someone you're meeting or a commitment, like work, you are running late for. But majority of the time, we aren't. So why do we care so much? What is our hurry? What's the rush and why is it so important? 
I honestly don't have a great answer for that except for that it is societal, and that our flesh is impatient. We are used to go-go-going, and so it feels natural for us to just expect for our kids to be quick. Only, the thing is that they are just kids. Little children who are still learning. Someday, they will be fast. We won't have to rush them. But right now, it's ok to lose 2 minutes out of your day to see your child's face light up when they get those shoes on. And in that case, we certainly aren't losing those minutes. We are gaining something even better than 2 extra minutes of nothingness. 
I need to slow down. I need to appreciate the stage that my daughter is in. I need to let her be little and not try to rush her for no reason. I'm glad she is becoming independent. I'm glad that she is learning new things and trying stuff on her own! She is amazing and I am so proud of the little girl that she is. I need to remember that in the hurried moments of our every days.
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Monday, July 28, 2014

So You Want to Find a Church?

Church hopping, and church shopping are popular things. Growing up, we did quite a bit of both. I can't ever remember having a solid home church. As an adult, I've been blessed to be at the same church (and now church plant out of that church) since I became a believer, but I know many people who shop and shop to no avail. 
I am really passionate about believers being committed to their local church. Fellowship is SO important for followers of Christ. Sure, you can do the Christian walk alone, but that is not what God intended for you. That is a whole post of its own, though. Because I'm passionate about it, I am overjoyed when I hear of people finding a church. Whether it is the first church they tried as a believer, or they have been looking for years and finally found the right fit, I'm rejoicing with them! 

I wish that it was easy to find a great church. That they were all Biblically focused and full of truth and grace. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and it seems like it is becoming harder and harder to find a church. Sometimes, it is the practical stuff that doesn't work out for you, like if you find a great church that meets on Saturday nights but you are only free Sunday mornings. Other times, it is the foundation that doesn't work, such as if they have big theological differences. Whatever the reason is, it is important to find a church that you feel comfortable in and you can see yourself staying in. Here are a few of my tips for finding the perfect fit for you and/or your family (read: perfect fit, not perfect church...there is no such thing). 

Decide what you want. Make an actual list of things you are looking for in a church. Do you want traditional or contemporary music? A large or small congregation? Be specific and write down everything you can think of that matters to you. Maybe you care how old the pastor is or what kind of training he has. Perhaps you would only go to a church that has an Awana program. Write it all down so that you know exactly what you're looking for, which will make the next step a lot easier on you. 

Search the internet. Long and hard. I'm sure there are a lot of people who have found the closest church, gone to it, and it was a great match. But with so many crazy "churches" out there nowadays, this is my top advice. Search the web for churches in your area that meet some of your criteria. Look at their website, but don't just look to see if it looks good and has ministries that you enjoy. Check out what they believe and make sure it is what YOU believe, too. I have heard several stories of people going to a church for months, or even years in some cases, and loving the church, when out of the blue they realize that they have this huge theological difference and don't feel comfortable attending anymore. Don't let yourself fall in love with a church you can't stay at. Most churches have a "What We Believe" type tab on their website...check that out and actually read it! You will find out a lot from that page. Do your research. Your time is precious and while sure, lots of weeks are to be expected in the church shopping journey, you always don't want to waste your time at places that shouldn't even be on your radar. Many churches in this day and age have social media pages like Twitter and Facebook, and a lot even have YouTube pages. Check them out to see what they are all about! Even better than the internet, ask around. Ask trusted believers that you know if they have a church home that they love. 

Realize that there is no perfect church. Before you start visiting different churches, you need to come to terms with this. I recently talked to someone, a stranger, about how they had their "perfect" church in another state and have struggled to find another church to match up to this one. No two people on Earth are going to agree about every single thing. Realize that there may be differences, or you may have to sacrifice on a few things to find a really, really good fitting church. Just make sure you aren't sacrificing any big theological beliefs. 

Go visit. Sorry to tell you, but you'll never know until you try. Visiting churches can range anywhere from very exciting to painfully awkward. Some churches will have members who will make you feel right at home, and you'll check out others who will never give you a second glance. I will even go one step further and say commit to going more than one week. Maybe 2, maybe for a month. Unless, of course, there are huge red flags, try it more than once so you can really get a feel for the whole church. I have seen so many times where people don't return back to a church after one week because of some little detail that was a one time thing, like they had problems with their sound, and missed out on finding a great church home. Go at least twice before you x it off your list. Keep in mind that there isn't a perfect church, but there are some really incredible ones! 

See how you can get involved. Find out what opportunities there are for you to serve in that Body. This will be the best way to really call a church your home. You'll meet other believers, who may turn into life long friends, and you'll get to know the pastors and other church members better. If you find a church that really has nowhere for you to get involved, that should be a red flag to you. The Lord wants us to be serving, and to be using our talents for His kingdom! If there are great ways for you to be involved, this might be a church worth staying at if a lot of other things are in line. 

Decide what you're willing to sacrifice. Now that you've visited one or more churches, you'll probably find that you haven't found every single thing you could ever want in a church. Decide which of those things on your list are negotiable. Maybe you don't need donuts & coffee after church each week. It's possible that you can thrive in a church with no Wednesday night bible study. Look at the big picture. Yeah, it's great when all the little details line up as well, but remember that you want to find a place you can commit to and stay at. If you're only going there for the donuts, well, you probably won't stay forever (unless they have really really good donuts, of course). 

It is my hope and prayer that every believer would find a church home suitable for them. Some place where they can grow closer to the Lord and can spend time fellowshipping with like-minded Christians who are walking the same path in life. If you are beginning or in the middle of a church search, I hope these tips will be helpful in you finding a place to call home.
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*Photo credit*

Friday, July 25, 2014

Prioritizing Importance

I've been thinking lately about what things are important to me. 
There are the obvious things: God, my marriage, my kids, family and friends in general....
What I'm talking about here are the everyday life things. Sometimes I get really overwhelmed with life. Honestly, I kind of thought when I became a stay at home mom that I would have all this time to do projects, have a spotless house, always be caught up on laundry, etc. etc. Well, if you are a stay at home mom, you know this is so not the case. At least not for many. I'm sure there are exceptions out there! I always have big plans for cleaning the entire house in one nap time and then those are the days where my kids nap for 45 minutes. I'll think that I am going to do either a house project, or DIY project after the kids get down for the night, and those are the nights where we are out later than expected and they have a hard time going down and aren't asleep until 10. That's just the way it goes. Then there are the times where all I want to do is sit during nap time (like I am right now), because I'm worn out from chasing kids all morning! Things get pushed to the wayside. Such is life. I'm sure all moms can agree with this, whether you stay at home or work. 
So back to the point. I've been thinking lately. Thinking about what things should take priority in my life and for my time. For example, I often feel like I should spend my nap times or post bed times working out, but it's honestly not really important to me. It probably should be, but try as I might, I just don't like it. So instead of feeling guilty and like I have to spend that time exercising, I'd rather prioritize something that is important to me. Now, on the flip side things that are important to me aren't always things that I enjoy. It is important to me to have a clean and clutter free home, but I don't really enjoy the act of cleaning. Still, because the end result is important to me, I'm going to try to be more diligent about making time for it. 
My time is precious, and I'm sure anyone with young kids would agree! Well really, anyone's time is precious! It often feels like we don't have enough of it. This is how I'm going to make the most of the 24 hours I have each day. By prioritizing what is important to me and my family. I want to spend more time focusing on things that are important-not just to me, but to my family and the Lord as well. It is so easy to get caught up in the hubbub of life and before we know it we have 5 commitments a week that are pointless, not important to us, and we dread doing/going to. I know there are sometimes things that aren't important to you that you just have to do. Maybe you hate cooking, but your family has to eat. Perhaps you hate mowing the lawn, but you can't just never cut it. I know that we can't only do things that we enjoy and are only important to us. I am excited about putting more time towards those important things, and putting less time into things that don't matter and/or aren't important/fruitful...on top of things that need to get done, of course.
One thing that is really important to me, that I haven't felt like I have the time, effort or resources to build more into is my family's health. In May, my husband and I did the Whole 30 challenge (actually we only made it to day 25), and that allowed me to learn a lot about the foods we put into our bodies. Since then, I've thought a lot about things we are putting onto our bodies. I don't really know anything about what's in the shampoo I use, or the detergent we wash our clothes in. Because my oldest daughter had eczema as a baby, we use mostly gentle products when we can, but I know they are still full of chemicals. I'd love to research this more and see how what we are using on our bodies, eating, and using around the house are affecting us. My sweet older daughter has suffered some health problems and it makes me wonder how much of it could be prevented by external factors and things that are in our control. It's important to me, so I've decided to put more effort into looking into that stuff, and maybe that'll mean buying or making new products for us to use. 
Another thing that is very important to me is spending time alone with the Lord. The honest truth is that I go through phases where I am very good about reading my Bible and having time with Him every day, and phases where I miss a few days and before long my days are so filled up that I haven't given that time a second thought. I don't want to be like that. It's very important to me to be diligent about reading and spending time with God. It helps me to grow and it challenges me. Plus, God wants to hear our hearts and for us to read His. This is something that I need to be better about prioritizing because of its important in my life and in my family's lives! 
There are several other things that are important to me that I haven't been making time for. And there are things that are important to me that I have been finding time for just fine, and I'll continue to do that. I just want to stop feeling like I am obligated to do things that I don't enjoy and don't hold importance to our family or the Lord. 
What about you? What things are important to you that you have a hard time prioritizing? How do you prioritize things in your life to make sure you are getting done what needs to get done, and still do things that you love and are important? 
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

First No Kids Overnight!

I've been wanting to spend a night away with my husband for, well, longer than I can remember! We haven't done it in a really really long time. I can't even remember the last time, but more than 3 years for sure. I have been nursing or really pregnant since then so we haven't been able to get away just the two of us.
We recently had an opportunity to do so! We needed to go to Ikea to get some furniture for a built in office area we are making in our basement, and we were planning to do the 4 hour drive there and back in one day. We started thinking about it and decided this was our perfect opportunity to spend a night away from the kiddos! I was so super excited. My mom was coming to town too so it was perfect and we could just leave the girls with her! 
T came home after I put the girls down for nap and we hit the road then, which would put us in the Chicago area around dinner time. At first we had planned to try to go into the city and either go to Navy Pier or a comedy club or something, but then we decided we really just wanted to enjoy the time together so we spent a little more on a nicer hotel and went out to dinner instead.
We stopped for a quick snack once we got onto the highway and then just spent the rest of the drive chatting and dreaming about life. It was awesome. I love my kids so so much but my almost 3 year old is in the phase of yelling from the back seat "Hey! What are you guys talking about?!" It's adorable most of the time and then other times when we have something serious to discuss it makes it a bit challenging. So it was refreshing to just get that one on one chat time together! 
We got to our hotel which was in some Chicago suburb and we never did make it into the city because we knew traffic would be crazy. There was plenty to explore where we were at! 
Our hotel was so nice! We had a giant, and I mean GIANT whirlpool tub in the room and a really cool waterfall shower and steam room. Some of the rooms had their own pool in them too! 

We got settled in and ventured out for a late dinner. I think we left the hotel around 7 or 7:30, which isn't that late, but we normally eat at like 5:00 with our kids! We were laughing about how we felt so young going out so "late". We explored the town a little bit and then came back to our hotel to lounge and watched a movie. 

In the morning, after breakfast and getting ready, it was off to Ikea! On the way we scoped out all of the awesome lunch places. 
We needed to get a bunch of cabinets, countertops, etc. Nothing super exciting, but once it is all put together and done it will be amazing to have! We ended up with a few extra things because hey, it's Ikea, and we hardly ever get to go!
We had to wait a long time for them to gather all the furniture.
My love was wearing down by this point....hungry and a long morning of shopping does not make for a thrilled husband. We got on the road and just decided to head to Five Guys since it was close, we love it, it's fast and we don't have one at home. It never disappoints!
Back on the road to get home to our girls! Lots of great discussion in the car. 
It was a quick trip, but we got to spend some really great quality time together, AND we got to sleep in for the first time in 3+ years....that may or may not have been the best part of the trip for both of us. 
I'm looking forward to next time. Hopefully it won't be another 3 years! 

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Garage Sale Prep

I recently had my first solo garage sale. I did them with my mom when I was a kid, and I've contributed to them as an adult, but this was my first big one on my own. Having two kids under the age of 3, I knew I had to keep it simple. I needed to do whatever I could to get it done, but also not stress myself out anymore than necessary! It's enough work and time as is!

The first thing I did was to group all like items. I saved as much time as possible by throwing things that are the same together, and putting one price. I.e. books are 50 cents. DVDs are $1. Shoes are $2, etc. This alone saved me so much time! Most of these things I threw in a box, put the price on the box and called it good. It makes it easier on shoppers, too. 

If you are selling clothes, sort them by size. I have gone to garage sales before where baby and kid clothes are all thrown together on a table and you are digging through hundreds of items trying to find stuff in your size. I can't imagine anyone sells stuff that way. I had so many baby girl clothes to go through, I knew it would be insane if I didn't sort them. So I sorted them all, and while it did take a bit to do it, it saved me time during the sale and it made it easier on shoppers which = more sales for me! The way to make this easier on yourself is don't fold or organize them once you've got them ready for your sale. Just dump them all out on a table and label which size is which. I have seen sales where they've taken the time to fold and nicely lay out every single thing, and then the crazy garage sale-ers dig through and make a mess of it all anyway. As long as it's organized by size, people will dig through to find what they want!

Advertise smartly. In this area, people aren't checking the newspaper anymore for garage sales. They are looking on Craigslist, Facebook, etc. It's free and it takes way less time. I wrote up a quick little blurb about some of the main and bigger items we were selling, and put it on Craigslist and on a local Facebook sale page. Make sure to put a catchy title, or it'll get lost among the hundreds of other ads. As far as yard signs, apparently it isn't legal to post them in some places, so you'll want to check on that. If it is, make a big, bold, simple sign out of poster board and make sure to put them in a "trail" for people to follow from the main road. 

Have a plan for after the sale. I think majority of people who are throwing a sale want to get rid of stuff. For me, the extra cash was great, but we just downsized big time and I needed things to go! Having stuff that didn't sell come back into the house was not an option for me. I kept boxes (you can see in the photo above) under the tables so that when my sale was over, I could throw the cheap stuff into the boxes and head directly to Goodwill with everything. There were a few bigger things that I knew I could post on Craigslist or on the Facebook sale page I'm on, so I took photos of those and posted them the same afternoon. If they don't sell within a week, they are getting donated as well. Make sure you know what you're going to do with stuff after the sale. Not everything will sell, so decide ahead of time whether you are keeping things, trying to sell them elsewhere, donating or trashing them. Otherwise you'll be tempted to keep it after all...just in case. 

Work ahead of time. Get everything set up and ready to go a day or two before your sale so you are not up late the night before stressing to get things set up. It'll just make things easier if you know its all ready to go! 
Any other seasoned garage salers out there with great tips for a successful sale?! 
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When I Started Instagramming for Me

Years ago I had never even heard of Instagram. It used to only be for iPhone and I had an Android. When I heard that they got it on Android, I thought it sounded cool, but didn't really know what it was. I got addicted in a hurry. I love pictures...looking at them, sharing them, taking them. I had a baby that was around 6 months old, so this was the best thing that could have happened to me as far as sharing photos of her with the world! 
My goofy girl enjoying her car seat being out of the car!
Well 1800+ Instagrams later, and I have a thing or two to say. 
I still love Instagram. I love how convenient it is, I love how quick it is, I love that I have thousands of pictures of my babies in one place. If my hard drive ever crashes, well, I have Instagram. 
Sweet daddy & daughter time at the splash pad!
Awhile ago I noticed that I was a bit "addicted" if you will. Sure, it's one thing to love sharing and looking at photos, but I think I was past that point. I felt like if I set my phone down for the day, I had so many photos from the people I follow to catch up on that it was overwhelming. I felt like I always had to carry my phone with me in case something noteworthy happened. Heaven forbid I didn't get to Instagram that! I started to realize that I wasn't Instagramming for me anymore. Not for my family. I was doing it for other people. I had somehow gotten this programmed in my mind that people needed to know what we were doing. At all times. Ok, I wasn't posting 30 pictures a day of every book they read, every food they eat, every toy they play with, but basically anytime anything remotely exciting happened, it went on Instagram.
My big girl rocking the balance beam at gymnastics!
 This may be ok for some people, but I started to realize it wasn't for me. I was more worried about getting something on Instagram than being present in the moment. "It's for the memories!" I would tell myself. And yes, it is to some degree, but what about just creating the memories? Being present to be part of the memories?! I wasn't doing enough of that. 
Having a couch picnic party!
So I told myself to take a step back and not post every single thing that was worth noting. It's ok if people don't know that we went to the park that day. It's ok if I miss that someone went grocery shopping or a cute video of their kid. I'm not missing out on anything.
Enjoying ice cream on Mama's birthday! 
 In fact, I'm probably gaining something better--focused time with my family! Instead of snapping a picture while I'm pushing my kids in the swings at the park and then pushing them one handed with my face in the phone so I can put it on Instagram right away and not enjoying the time with them, I'm taking the picture and putting my phone away. I can gram it later if I want to. Or I don't have to. It's freeing really.
Checking out the fish at the doctor's office. Oh, and Daniel Tiger, of course.
 There have been days where I don't post a single picture, and there have been days where I'm posting 5 pictures in a row when I crawl into bed that night. I've been less active and less present on there in general, and at first I felt badly about that. I didn't want friends to think I didn't care about their pictures, or their lives. I definitely do! It's just that it was taking way too much time away from my kids and my family, and for what? 
Playing trains at the store!

So when I started Instagramming for me, I gained time, I gained presence, and I gained even better memories! I love Instagram, but I love my family even more. And guess what?! We've even been using a real camera lately to capture the moments...that's something that hasn't happened in a long time! 
My girls learning how to roll down a hill!
*The photos in this post are all recent ones that I took that never made it to Instagram because I was busy enjoying the moment.*
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Monday, July 21, 2014

When Things Pile Up

Have you ever been in one of those seasons of life where things start to pile up, one right after the other? When it rains it pours, right? Whether it's financially, medically, time-wise, strain on  relationships, or something else, these things are easy to take life from good to bad very quickly. 
When I think of these seasons, I think of two specifically for our family. The first one happened right after my second daughter was born in 2013. It seems like as soon as that child was born, our family took a downward spiral health-wise, and didn't come back up for air for months. It was awful. 3/4 of us (thankfully not the newborn) got a terrible stomach virus which landed me in the hospital for fluids when the baby was 3 weeks old, I got recurring UTIs for months, my older daughter dislocated her elbow, the baby got pink eye, my husband sprained his wrist, I had an awful case of mastitis when the baby was a week old, found out my older daughter had a peanut allergy, had a several month long issue with nursing where lactation consultants thought I had thrush (turns out I didn't, but it was being treated as such for months). We lived at doctor's offices. And this was on top of normal colds and well child checks, post partum checks, chiropractic visits, etc. I seriously thought it was never going to end and we would never be healthy again! Then one day it was like "Oh! No one has been to the doctor in awhile! Yay!" 
The second time was more recent, after we moved into our new house. All at once, we had an awful problem with our bank which pushed our mortgage back and caused us to need to switch banks, which also meant we were "renting" our house until it all went through which we didn't budget for. We had to deal with permits, inspections and work for getting our basement done (i.e. different random men in our house every single day trying to explain things to me that I was supposed to relay to my husband, but didn't understand...). I had an oral surgery that didn't go as well as planned and on that same day my husband was in a car accident and his car was totaled. Somehow he got the worst insurance agent ever from the other guy's insurance, who literally took 6+ weeks to figure anything out, even though it was not my husband's fault and the police report and witnesses said so. So during that time we were sharing a car, which wasn't terrible, but not ideal. Multiple calls to insurance every day was what was more tiring. Calling for bids for electric, plumbing, HVAC, drywall finishing, etc. on the basement. Trying to figure out if we were ever going to get a driveway or landscaping. Plus my husband being in class two nights a week and working a regular job, leading a church planet, and oh yeah, taking care of our kids and trying to get settled into our new house. It was a really stressful time that again, I thought would never end. There was problem after problem and just when we thought something would work out, something else went wrong, like when we found out that couches won't fit into the basement because of the odd layout (yeah, that was fun). We are through most of those things now, with some of them just getting finished up, so I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. 
I like to think that I am pretty good at handling stress, but times like these where there is just so much are really hard, for probably anyone. It is easy to just feel defeated and want to wave your white flag and give up! Don't give up! I know you can't give up in the sense of handing can't just give up on being sick, it just happens. But I think we often give up in the sense of apathy, and just struggling to go on with life and everyday tasks, relationships, etc. 
First, take a deep breath, pray about it, give that burden to the Lord. I'm not going to tell you to just let it go and don't worry about it, because we all know that is way easier said than done. When your life is in shambles it is nearly impossible to just "not worry about it". God wants to hear the cries of your hearts. He wants to take care of you. He carried your burdens on the Cross, and nothing that you are going through is without Him. 
He is gentle and humble in spirit. Yes, He is! 
So often I am finding ways to "fix" my problems, or lessen my anxieties or just make my life easier/better/happier, etc. So often I am leaning on myself and my ways to do that. I need less of me and more of Him. Not only in the times when everything is going wrong, but every single day. Less of me. Less of me. Less of me. The load He gives us to carry is light. He took it all on the cross for us. For you. He's not going to leave us alone now! Not when we are going through sickness after sickness, or dealing with insurance and house people and bank problems. Of course none of these are huge problems in the grand scheme of life and eternity, but the do add up, don't they?! Give it to Him, friend. Let Him carry your load so you can rest easy tonight. Go to Him and learn from Him. Accept His grace in your life. 

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Ombre Dresser Makeover

I am so excited to share this dresser makeover I recently did! I got this dresser years and years ago from Wal Mart of all places. Please excuse the mess and the cruddy phone photo. I thought to take the picture seconds before we carried it outside. But this is the before! 
 It's a sturdy, large dresser, but pretty plain. Or I should say WAS pretty plain! My girls are now sharing a room so I knew that I wanted to ditch one of the dressers we had that was smaller and use this larger one for them to share. I have a very long term bedroom plan for them which includes white beds someday, but that day will likely be several years down the road when my youngest upgrades to a big kid bed. So for now, they have mismatched furniture, but I wanted this to fit in with the long term room plan. 
I originally saw this tower at Target, where I fell in love with the ombre look on the drawers and thought it would be so easy to do! 
After I saw it and loved the look, I knew I could easily recreate it on a large dresser, in the color scheme I wanted. And guess what? It was the easiest project ever! 
I decided to paint the bulk of the dresser in a shade of white since I am going with white furniture throughout the room eventually. This was for all the detailing on the dresser, the top, sides and back.

The top drawer is actually a really light shade of blue/green, even though it looks white. In person you can tell the contrast between the base and that drawer better.

For the drawers, I just grabbed a paint sample sheet that was in the color scheme I wanted and asked for a sample size of each of the colors! I used probably about 1/8 of the jar in each color so I wish I could have gotten an even smaller size, but this worked well and was really cheap.
I primed everything first, then did two coats in each color, and voila! 
My girls' bedding is shades of teal and purple, and they already have a purple nightstand, so I knew I wanted this color scheme for the dresser. I think it goes really well with their bedding and I love that it's not too childish or something they will outgrow in a year or two. You can see it from the hallway going into the room and it is so unique and fun and just perfect for them! It makes me happy every time I go in there! 
I decided to leave the same knobs because they are in good shape, and I like how they look just fine. I think it would be really fun to get some faux crystal knobs and make it super girly, but when you need 10 knobs it adds up quickly so I may do that sometime in the future. For now, this was a really budget friendly DIY project, coming in under $15 or so! 

Because I love a good before & after, here it is one more time...
Have you been bitten by the ombre bug? I just love the way it looks and it adds such a fun pop of color to things! 

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