Friday, July 18, 2014

what my house really looks like [my return to blogging?]

I look at Facebook and Pinterest, and I read blogs.  I see all these pictures of perfectly decorated, perfectly tidy, perfectly clean homes.

And then I look around at mine...

My house is not straight out of the latest home décor magazine.  As much as I might try to fool people into thinking it is.  I admit...when pictures of my home show up on my accounts (let's say Christmas for example) I have picked the best pictures I could find.  In fact, I created the best pictures I could find before taking them.  When I know it's going to be showing up on the internet for everyone to see, I make sure to have cleaned and organized that space perfectly before hand.

I get kinda tired of pretending to be perfect, to have it all together.  I mean, everyone already knows its an act, so what's the point? 

It's not just home stuff either.  It's everything.  I'm not a perfect wife or mother or daughter or sister or teacher either.  I'm not a perfect anything.  I fall short.  And then I try to fool others into thinking I don't.  Which, if you really think about it, is completely silly since none of us are perfect.  And we know that.  And then we try to pretend we are perfect in order to fool others who we know and they know aren't perfect either.  Its an exhausting and confusing cycle and I'm really tired of it.  So...I think I'll just try not to do it anymore. 

So let's start with my house...  I actually feel kind of bad about the pictures I'm going to show.  Not because they prove things get messy and generally stay messy around here, but because they are actually kind of mild on the mess.  Like...I had already started cleaning the kitchen before I had this whole idea to take pictures of my house as is.  So...here's my disclaimer:  these pictures come after a bit of sprucing...but not on purpose.  Just because sprucing is necessary sometimes.  Can't be eating off dirty forks after all.

While we are here, lets look at the kitchen...


Like I said... pretty mild since I had just tackled some dishes.  Now turn around and check out that "dinning room" (a.k.a. extended space from the kitchen).



I know dinning room tables are supposed to be for eating on, and shelves and hutches are supposed to be fore pretties, but since this is right inside our garage entrance, these things work very well as "catch-all" spaces.  That's a nice way of saying a place to pile all our crap instead of just putting it away right away.  Ooops.

Now on to the "TV room."  Originally when we bought the giant TV of my husbands dreams and the furniture to go with it, we said that it would be a "toy free zone."  You can see how that's working out...

The "TV room" is just really part of one big space.  We turned the other half of the room into the "formal" (HA!) living room/office.  Calling it an office is a nice way of saying "place we put the desk."  The desk is Justin's space and it pretty much always looks messy.  He has an organized chaos I leave alone unless I'm trying to dust. 




Okay.  Now down the hall.  First stop is the laundry room.  Turns out I didn't take a picture of that.  There's a washer, a dryer, and a litter box.  Basically this means that there is a constant supply of cat litter sprinkled across the floor and a basket full of dirty laundry.  Enough said.

Next...the third bedroom.  Home to our old TV, a twin bed, and the Ninja Turtle lair.  This room actually is at its best now (at least in these pictures) because I have relocated the art stuff so it is no longer covered in crayons and paper scraps.  This is where I send the kids to watch TV when I can't stomach another episode of whatever cartoon they're obsessed with at the moment.




Oh...I forgot to mention that this room is also where I hang-dry my delicates.  And really, I should have taken a new picture, because currently the bed is stripped, the mattress is leaning against the closet, and the box spring is waiting to be repaired.  (My kids like jumping on the bed even though they know they are not supposed to which is why the box spring is broken.)  Oh, and it's been that way for a week now.  It probably won't get fixed until my sister comes to visit and needs a place to sleep.  We are procrastinators like that. 

Onto the next room:  the hall bathroom.  Also referred to as the "boys' bathroom."  This is a scary place.  I don't go in here unless I'm cleaning it or have no choice.  Two young boys brushing their teeth and using the toilet...its scary.



Walk with me down the hall a little further (like two steps - we don't have a huge house here).  Its a bedroom shared by my boys.  There are always toys everywhere and the beds are never made because bunk beds are a pain to make for me, much less them.  I'd just rather not fight that battle. 





You know how I said two seconds ago that I don't like making bunk beds because they are a pain?  Really, I just don't like making beds at all.  Ours is proof.  I make it when I change the sheets.  Obviously I hadn't just changed the sheets on this particular day.  We had also just gotten back from our Fourth of July trip and hadn't really bothered to completely unpack.  If there wasn't a suitcase on the floor there would be a pile of Justin's worn-but-not-dirty-yet clothes anyway, so it's still a pretty accurate representation of the norm.




Huh.  I forgot to take a picture of our master bath.  Oh well.  Just picture the boys' bathroom but with the toilet seat down.  And the sink is generally a little tidier.  We are grown-up after all!

I probably should have taken some pictures of the outside of our house, too.  Currently all of the landscaping is overgrown and the grass was do for a cut a week ago.  The back yard and patio are covered in toys that haven't been picked up, and I desperately need to pull weeds.  I hate yard work though.  Mainly because I seem to be allergic to grass and growing things and always break out in hives when I have to do it.  Needless to say...our house doesn't look perfect from the outside either.

The truth is...just a couple of years ago, my house did look pretty perfect most of the time.  I was obsessed with keeping everything picked up and perfect.  I freaked out over toys on the floor and dust on the TV and dirty dishes in the sink. But it was too much.  My life started to spin out of control.  I was like one of those circus performers that spin plates on sticks, and I was exhausted and my family was suffering for it.  So, I decided to drop some plates.  The perfectly ordered house was one of those plates.  And my life is better for it...even if it is a bit messier around here. 

Stay tuned...I'm planning to keep on posting this time.  I like talking about being real.


P.S.  Potential burglars...I just gave you the entire layout of my house.  I also think it's pretty clear I have very little worth stealing unless you're looking to upgrade your Ninja Turtle collection.  Please pass on by my house without stopping.

Monday, January 6, 2014

finishing up my gifts for the year ~ part II

So, I didn't actually make it to 1000 gifts in one year...at least not on paper (or the computer screen technically).  But, there's no doubt that 2013 has been a blessed year for us.  Blessed doesn't mean it has been all sunshine and flowers though...there have been a few really, really low points during this year among all those amazing high points.  The thing I have learned from spending my time counting blessings though is that from each of those hard moments comes some nugget - or even mountain - of good.  I know that for every moment I haven listed here - all 854 - there are two more that I didn't write down, maybe didn't even see.  Life is beautiful, and counting gifts this year has reaffirmed that for me.  I look forward to another year of counting gifts each day (in fact...I've already started)!

813.  finding Christmas cards from friends and family in the mail!
814.  fourteen December graduates from our school!
815.  Discovering Christmas lights with Gavin
816.  Wrapping up gifts for my children and family
817.  homemade hot chocolate
818.  sharing the Home Alone movies with my children
819.  mixing, rolling, cutting, and baking Christmas cookies as a family
820.  Trees and fields blanketed in ice - "They've been carved from ice!" exclaimed Logan
821.  Discovering Bas Pro decorated for Christmas with the boys
822.  An indoor carousel ride on elk and deer
823.  Coming out of store to find it snowing!
824.  Logan catching snowflakes on his tongue
825.  Frosting and sprinkling Christmas cookies with Logan and Gavin!
826.  Starting a new tradition:  Christmas Eve boxes for the boys loaded with hot chocolate, popcorn, movies, and new pjs!
827.  A Christmas Eve service by candlelight
828.  Watching the boys dig into their stockings with glee on Christmas morning!
829.  The expression of pure surprise and joy as Logan opened his gift of dinosaur bones - exactly what he wanted more than anything this year!
830.  The perfect gift from Justin
831.  Opening presents with Mimi and Papa
832.  Christmas dinner - calm and relaxing with Mimi, Papa, Gigi, Great-grandpa, Aunt Holly, Uncle Mike, and cousin Spencer
833.  Logan sitting with Spencer learning how to play a video game
834.  And one more round of presents for everyone!
835.  Very tired boys tucked into bed early, and Justin and I busy building Lego sets and a ninja turtle lair!
836.  Waking up to sounds of my excited boys as they discover their Legos and lair all built and ready to play with!
837.  Two boys discovering the secrets and fun of the ninja turtle lair together...for a long, long time! 
838.  A safe and "quick" drive up to Iowa
839.  Logan and Gavin climbing and sliding down piles of snow with Grandpa and Aunt Dannielle
840.  Logan and Gavin getting to open presents with their cousins at Grandma and Grandpa's house
841.  Finding out my brother and sister-in-law are expecting another baby!
842.  Catching up with extended family at my grandma's Christmas gathering
843.  Holding my cousin's tiny baby boy
844.  Discovering another cousin is pregnant after years of hoping!
845.  A White Elephant gift exchange among cousins, aunts, and uncles
846.  A trip to the hospital to see Grandpa Jeff - recovering well from a recent lung transplant!
847.  Sharing pizza and gifts together!
848.  Logan hugging tightly the "Herkey the Hawk" stuffed animal he had begged for on our last visit to see Grandpa Jeff (Way to go Grandpa Jeff!)
849.  "My logs! My logs!" shouted by Gavin as he discovered a gift of Lincoln logs from Grandpa Jeff
850.  Exploring the hospital with our guide - nurse Dannielle - and catching up more with her!
851.  One last family dinner out (minus Dannielle who was still working - boo!) before everyone left for home
852.  Sharing hugs good-bye with my brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew
853.  Hanging out with Mom and Dad just talking about everything and anything on our last night in Iowa
854.  New Year's Eve at home with my little family - Good-bye 2013!  It's been great!

The 2013 Book List

I think this is everything I read this past year - I'm not always so good about making sure it all gets written down these days!  There are a lot of books here, so I figure I'm pretty close to having them all.

I'm not sure I read any books this year that I would consider super-awesome-oh-my-goodness-everyone-should-read-this-book.  For fiction, I might have thought that about the Divergent series...until I read the last book and felt totally let down.  Despite that, though, it's a good read, and I totally do recommend it you're planning to go see the movie this spring.  As for nonfiction...Kisses from Katie was probably the highlight of my reading - I happened to really enjoy that one!

Anyway...here's the list!

(And in case you're curious...I do keep a reading list each year.  Here's 2012 and 2011!)
FICTION

Mitch Albom
The Time Keeper

Jefferson Bass
Carved in Bone

P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
Marked

Cinda Williams Chima
The Warrior Heir
The Wizard Heir
The Dragon Heir

Cassandra Clare
City of Fallen Angels
City of Lost Souls
Clockwork Angel
Clockwork Prince
Clockwork Princess

Andrea Cremer
Bloodrose

Sylvia Day
Bared to You
Reflected in You

Janet Evanovich
Eleven On Top

Becca Fitzpatrick
Finale

Sue Grafton
Kinsey and me

Jane Green
To Have and to Hold
Bookends

Charlaine Harris
Dead Ever After
After Dead

Julia Heaberlin
Playing Dead

Elin Hilderbrand
Summer People

Amanda Hocking
Switched
Torn
Ascend

William Joyce
E. Aster Bunnymund

Lauren Kate
Fallen

Richelle Mead
Vampire Academy

Brad Meltzer
The Inner Circle

Lauren Oliver
Delirium
Pandemonium
Requiem
Delirium Stories

James Patterson
Along Came a Spider

Kathy Reichs
Déjà  Dead

Beth Revis
Across the Universe
A Million Suns
Shades of Earth

Veronica Roth
Divergent
Insurgent
Allegiant
Free Four:  Tobias Tells Knife-Throwing Scene
The Transfer:  A Divergent Story

Mary Ann Schaffer & Annie Barrows
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

Neal Shusterman
Unwind

John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men


NONFICTION

Rob Bell
Love Wins

Robert Brooks, Ph.D., & Sam Goldstein, Ph.D.
The Power of Resilience

Wayne Cordeiro
Doing Church as a Team

Katie Davis
Kisses from Katie

Jim Gaffigan
Dad is Fat

Jen Hatmaker
Interrupted

Susie Larson
Your Beautiful Purpose

Dr. Kevin Leman
When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough
The Birth Order Book

Phil Robertson
Happy, Happy, Happy

Si Roberston
Si-cology
 
Willie & Korie Roberston
The Duck Commander Family
 
Ann Voskamp
One Thousand Gifts
The Greatest Gift

BIBLE
Job
Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
Joshua
Ruth
Judges
1 Samuel
2 Samuel
Proverbs
Song of Songs
Ecclesiastes


Monday, December 23, 2013

A Christmas House Tour

I really, really love getting to decorate the house for Christmas.  We don't have a ton of decorations, and we don't go all out, but I love what we do do.  Every year I try to add something or change something up a bit so its not the same old, same old.  This past spring we got some new furniture and completely rearranged our living room, so decorating for Christmas was a bit of challenge. 

But...we pulled it off, and when we were all finished, Justin and I looked around and decided that this was our best work yet.  (Yes, we do tend to think that every year.  But still...this year is the best!)  Let me show you...I'm sure you'll agree!

Let's start at the front door.  Though not one single thing here is new...everything here has been repurposed this year making this a "brand new wreath."  What I love most about it though isn't how it looks...I love the fact that Logan and Gavin helped me do it all:  beads and ornaments!


Next to the front door is our desk...nothing fancy here.  It's the last thing I decorated, so it has all the "left overs," but I think it turned out nicely.  Best thing here is our Jesse Tree.  While the tree itself is not new, the idea of a Jesse Tree is.  I topped it off with one of our little wooden crosses, and filled our coffee bean jar with each day's ornament.  This little tree here is probably my second favorite Christmas decoration simply because of what it represents (my favorite is coming up later!).






And the tour continues!!! 

Up next is the "TV area" of our living room.  The TV stand is part of the new furniture we bought this spring.  Turns out it is an excellent place to put stockings, and it also provided me with one more little nook to tuck a few Christmas decorations!





This is also where we decided to let the boys put up their little tree this year.  We set the tree up, but they (mainly Logan) decorated it all by themselves!



This year I decided to start a new tradition with our Christmas books.  I wrapped each one up, numbered them, and put them under the boys' tree.  Each night they've gotten to open another book!  I like having this tree to put them under, too, because it gives this new tradition a separate home from our main tree (coming soon!).




While the boys' tree sits in the TV area, it also is in front of our sliding glass door.  It looked beautiful after it snowed!  We also hang a huge garland above this door and decorate it with ornaments (this year I bought new ones - one of my very few splurges this year).  Then we hang a wreath on the door - one Logan picked out last year!




The splurge for new ornaments on the garland was well worth it, because I had a few leftover that Justin then turned into a pretty center piece for our table!


Coming up next is the black cabinet I received for Christmas last year.  I combined it with an old table cloth, a short strand of lights, and some Pinterest inspiration to get this:




And now we come to the back door.  Here is where you find my favorite Christmas decoration:  the Nativity.  This year we hung a wreath above it, and Justin placed a very special cross inside.  The boys helped me set up both Nativity sets, and Logan told me the entire story of the birth of Jesus while we did it!

 
 
 



This area is also where we hung the boys' Advent calendar, and of course, the door was perfect for yet another wreath!



If you haven't noticed (which I wouldn't if I were you and/or had never been in my house before), I'm kind of taking you in a big circle.  Really, all this means, is we are now headed back into the "formal" part of the living room (I use the term "formal" very loosely hence the quotes) and back towards the front door where we started.  Up first:  the book shelf.



And now we come to the Christmas tree:


This year it found a new home in the corner instead of centered in front of our big window, and I have to say that I really like it better this way!  Decorating this monster tree is always Justin's job, but he didn't get to go it alone this year.  Despite wanting very little to do with helping Logan decorate their tree, Gavin would not be stopped when it came to decorating this tree!



That must be why it turned out so beautifully...



P.S.  Enjoy this picture of our tree fully lit.  I know I am.  It seems that we jinxed ourselves over Thanksgiving by telling our family how awesome our tree was, that after five years of use every single pre-lit bulb still worked.  Since then, four strands of light have burned out.  We replaced the first, but have since resigned ourselves to the fact that the tippy top, the bottom, and the middle of the back of the tree have gone dark.  Come take down time, we will be unwinding every inch of lights so we can replace them next year.  Yay...  (That "yay" is filled with sarcasm and loathing by the way.)