For the Love of Layers

I have a problem with bedspreads. Seriously. In our first year of marriage, I had redone the bedding 5 times and painted the entire room twice. I wanted that space of my own. A getaway in my own house. A place of simplicity and tranquility.

I made quite a few changes before I finally managed to figure out what I liked. Texture, layers, and cozy but neutral colors were on the top of my list. One thing I have always loved is layers on the bed. I wasn't sure where to start with getting the perfect look I was going for but I decided I wanted neutral so I started with white.

This gorgeous duvet from West Elm was the perfect mix of simple and texture I was looking for.

I mixed it with a lighter quilt from Pottery Barn. I have to admit I vacillated between the taupe or the flagstone but ultimately decided accent with the grey and mix the two. So I added this textured throw for one more dimension. Similar Similar Similar

Euro pillow stacked behind king or standard shams adds fullness to the bed. I personally want to add another euro to the back of mine just to fill in all the space.
Accent pillows, like my Mr. and Mrs. one, adds a little playful touch. I picked mine up from TJ Maxx but I've seen a ton out there in all different colors and lettering style. Similar Similar Similar
What are your favorite bedding tips to making the perfect master bed?

Instilling Desire ~ Random Thoughts on Raising Children in Today's Crazy World

Raising children is by no means an easy task. I think every day about the burden I bear on my shoulders as a mom, a homeschooler and a friend. And I am in no way a perfect mom, raising perfect children. I've looked at my past, my childhood and the way I've turned out and I'm thankful for most of the decisions I've made in life. But there is one thing I hope to make sure and instill in my children and that is their own desire. Desire to make good decisions, to live pure lives, to love and think about others before themselves, to give, to learn, to do their best, to enjoy life and most of all, to love God.

See, I don't believe in strict rules, in limiting regulations or in sheltering. I don't believe that keeping your children from worldly influences is going to in turn keep them from sin. And I don't believe that parenting by the "textbook" will produce "x" type of children. This is the problem with those measures, sin is a heart issue. It's not a pornographic website, it's not drugs, alcohol abuse or seductive clothing - these are simply the results. Sin can't be cured by long skirts, no television, or by not kissing before your wedding day. Believe me, I've seen the best little homeschooled kids turn into hellions for adults. I've seen the most perfect, courtship-led marriages turn into divorce and I've seen what appeared to be the most Godly raised children turn away from God completely.


Because our obsession in keeping our children from the bad has to change to filling our children with good desire. Rules and regulations don't work. Rules and regulations don't make you wake up and decide to love your spouse when marriage is hard. Rules and regulations aren't there when your teenage child is being pressured into trying drugs. Rules and regulations aren't going to help when your child comes across a seductive website. Rules and regulations won't change a man or woman who wants to have an affair. Sheltering your children forever is unattainable and strict restrictive measures don't work when you're not there to enforce them. We need a heart change and rules can't do that.

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Am I saying we shouldn't monitor what our kids watch on tv or put in safety measures to keep inappropriate contents off our computers? Am I saying that we should have rules and guidelines in our homes to teach our children respect and obedience? Absolutely not. What I am saying is that rules are only a means to an end. Rules will not last forever. Our kids are going to grow up and if we haven't taught, instilled, and guided the DESIRE to be better people in our children then we have done nothing for them but create a list of no-no's.

We need to change our children's hearts, not their rulebook. It's easy to make rules, to set restrictions and limit interaction, and in some ways it may seem right. But is it the best way?  Shouldn't we be molding their hearts instead of controlling their actions? Shouldn't we be teaching them why instead of "because I said so"? Shouldn't we be answering the tough questions even when it makes us uncomfortable? Shouldn't we be instilling the good desires instead of keeping them from all the bad? 

5 Ways to Get Your Budget Back on Track

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This week we had to have a "Come to Jesus" meeting with our budget. Between my job re-construction, moving expenses and the start of football practice, we were waaaayyyy out of control. Here are 5 tips for getting back on track fast and effectively.

1) Re-evaluate your numbers.

Unfortunately for my OCD, budgets are constantly evolving. Whether you have growing boys who are eating you out of house and home, unexpected expenses, or larger than normal bills, it's always a good idea to re-evaluate when things start to look a little wonky.
For example, this month we got a notice that our storage unit was going up on August 1st. I looked at the notice and tossed it aside hoping to remember to ask Jarrod what we were currently paying. Of course I totally forgot and later realized it was a $30 a month increase! Whaaaaat??! Talk about inflation! We were also able to lower our electric bill budget a bit in exchange for the storage unit as our current house is smaller than our old one and the bills have been consistently lower. Tracking those changes will allow you to have a current and up to date idea of what your monthly numbers should be.

2) Commit to following the envelope system for at least 30 days.

I don't follow the envelope system all the time. When we first started budgeting, I followed it to a tea for almost 2 years. It was sooooo freeing. But, I also have 4 kids who are constantly digging through my purse or rummaging through my "money" drawer and I started noticing money was disappearing. Now, I can pretty much keep up with stuff in my head. So, I still use my debit card but I keep a note list on my phone of where I've spent what. This is great except when you start swiping that card a little too much. A little $10 meal here or $5 drinks there really adds up fast if you aren't keeping track. Getting back to the basics helps keep me accountable and get me back on track.

3) Commit to a 30 day spending freeze.

Sometimes my envelopes or spending categories get way out of balance. When I start robbing Peter to pay Paul, I find that a 30 day halt will usually help me get back on track. Obviously, groceries are not the first category you choose from unless you've done quite a bit of freezer cooking. But maybe a month with no movies or a few weeks of no shoe shopping will give you a bit extra to fill those envelopes that are short.

4) Communicate

Making sure you and your partner are on the same page is crucial to making your budget work at all times, but especially when things get tight. We had several run in's last month when Jarrod would announce a night out at the Mexican restaurant without realizing our Eating Out budget was already wayyyyy overdrawn. I was then the "bad guy" when I had to give him the evil eye and let the kids know that we were in fact NOT going to the Mexican restaurant. Communicating keeps the "bad guy" at bay by both being on the same page with spending.

5) Remember your goals.

When budgeting gets hard, it's always a refreshment for me to remember my goals. Why am I doing this? How close am I to reaching my goal? How far have I come in paying off debt or putting extra money in savings? Goals give us a purpose as well as a progress report. And always remember to look more at the progress than at the remainder. You'll get there, I promise!

Painted Kitchen Table Redo

For the 3 years we have lived in this house, I have been looking for the "perfect" kitchen table. Our kitchen space is small and I didn't want it to feel overcrowded in that area because we spend most of our time there and the open family room that attaches to it. 

After Owen was born and we converted the loft into the big boys room, I had to get creative with my schoolroom area. So my kitchen table priorities changed. I definitely didn't want to spend a ton of money on a table because as a school table it would be very used. However, since it did sit in the middle of our home, I wanted it to be pretty. Lol.

I began searching Craigslist and the paper for a used table I could redo. One day, when a friend of mine was over at the house, I mentioned that I was looking for something for that space. She had an old table in her basement she had been trying to get rid of and sent me pictures of it. The next day I had my husband loading it in the back of the truck. When he got it home he said it was the ugliest table he had ever seen and wouldn't even bring it inside because he said it was absolutely NOT going in our kitchen. But that has never stopped me before! I had a vision!

Here is what it looked like before:

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You guys know I'm horrible at taking pictures of the steps so I totally apologize in advance.

First, I removed the padded cushions from the chairs. Mine just screwed on from the bottom.

Then, I used this AMAZING primer called Zinsser.
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That's right people! NO SANDING! As a matter of fact, I was so lazy with this project that I actually bought the spray paint version. Now, in hind sight, I really wish I had painted the primer on the top instead of spraying it on. I think it would have just covered better and I wouldn't have had to put on 4 coats of black paint. So keep that in mind. The chairs worked beautifully. Especially since I didn't have to paint in all those creases and crevices.

Next, I used my go-to-no-fail paint from Sherwin Williams - All Surface Enamel. The cream color is color matched to my trim so I apologize that I can't give you that. The top is just a plain ole black. Now, this will put you back about $21 a QUART, but it is soooooo very worth it. This stuff is essential for a smooth finish.

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I used foam rollers and brushes to put the paint on. Slowly get lighter and lighter with your strokes so that you get as close to that "sprayed" look as possible. 

The chairs took 2 coats of cream and top ultimately took 4 coats of black. The black did get a bit tricky getting it to lay as flat as I liked it and that's the reason I kept piling it on. Make sure your paint is as evenly coated as possible - not too thick or thin. 

Finally, I recovered the chairs in some beautiful black and cream fabric I got from Hobby Lobby. 

Here's the finished product!

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I absolutely love how it turned out! Next project... matching the bar stools! :-)

Owen Jarrod ~ 10 Months

How in the world is my baby boy 10 months old!

I remember this time last year so well. Getting ready to start celebrating the holidays. Being pregnant and having to wear a maternity coat for the first time. Trying to shop for Christmas and having no energy while spending 3 days a week at the doctor's office for non-stress testing and ultrasounds. Worrying so much about my little guy I was hardly able to enjoy any minute of being pregnant.

And now here we are.

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He's grown so much this month! Not that he doesn't every month but this month has just seemed monumental. He's into everything. I mean everything. Cabinets, bookshelves, the desk, the kids toys, my purse... really anything that he can find within his reach.

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And let me tell you, there are some days when having older kids is so helpful but the days that you pick up a gazillion miniature rubber band from these flipping friendship bracelets are not on my favorite list. I don't think I've ever had a child that put so much stuff in their mouth. It makes me paranoid and a germophobe.

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Overall, we are all still crazy about our little guy. He is so happy and brings so much joy to our lives. The boys still run to get him out of the bed every time he whimpers. They beg for kisses and make Owen laugh constantly. I love watching them interact and couldn't be more blessed to have such an awesome crew.

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Happy 10 months baby boy!

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Customizable Daily Schedule

As flexible as homeschooling is, we do try and keep a daily schedule. I have been meaning to get one printed out for the boys as I feel like they are old enough to keep up with their own schedule now. Plus, I think it builds discipline. I'm sure we won't always get to math right at 9 am. And that's ok. But it keeps us focused and accountable for the time we have. 

After spending a unreasonable amount of time looking at printable schedules on Pinterest, I decided to take the best parts of the one's I liked and make my own. This is what I came up with:

I slid this schedule into a page protector and keep a dry erase marker close so I can make notes for special things like guitar lessons or just little happy notes. I also change the date and then the boys can check off the work as they go. 

I'm so looking forward to seeing how this simplifies our day! Instead of them having to ask what to do next, it's all written out for them. 

I created this file in PowerPoint and would love to share it. It's completely customizable. You can get the file HERE. You will need to download it in order to make changes yourself. 

Happy scheduling!

School: Week 4 and Packing Lunches + A Giveaway!

I seriously can't believe that we are already in our 4th week of school! I just can not tell you how happy I have been with our new classes! The kids have made some great new friends, I have much less preparation, and they love what their learning!

So one thing that I didn't expect to take so much time was packing lunches. I mean really, you mom's who pack lunches are my hero's. 

I did find some really nice containers at Target that have top and bottom compartments for sandwiches and chips, fruit, veggies or whatever.

Last week, our lunches had a special surprise thanks to Del-Monte! 

Their new Fruit Burst Squeezers are the bomb! We got to try out the Blueberry and Apple Cinnamon flavors. Even Owen was a fan!

They are perfect for packing in lunches and don't have to be refrigerated until after they are opened! I'm sold. They also come in several delicious flavors including Pear-Mango, Blueberry, Apple Cinnamon, Mixed Berry and Strawberry!

Del-Monte also wants to give one lucky reader a gift pack of your own!

The gift pack will include:
  • Two boxes of Fruit Burst Squeezers™ (one Fruit + Veggies 4-pack and one Simply Fruit 4-pack)
  • One Del Monte lunchbox
  • One orange-shaped eco-friendly shopping tote
  • One strawberry-shaped eco-friendly shopping tote
  • One Del Monte magnetic frame
Enter for your chance to win here:

The Del Monte product, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by Del Monte.

Fall Recipes ~ Pumpkin Bars

There are very few things I don't like about fall.
Warm days and cool nights. Open windows and fresh air. Leaves changing. Football and light jackets. But I really, really, really like fall food. Pumpkin everything. From bagels, to cream cheese, coffee creamer to yummy pumpkin deserts. 

Insert these delicious pumpkin bars.

I'm telling you, these things are amazing. And they will be made and devoured in my home no less than 50 times during this fall season.

So, here's the recipe so you can make some pumpkin goodness of your own.

  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 cup Oil
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 16 oz can of pumpkin
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix together and spread into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until firm and golden brown. 

While that is baking, mix up some icing.

  • 3 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup butter (melted)
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar

Mix until smooth and spread over cooled bars. Cut into squares and serve.

Happy fall, y'all!

Avery Turns 4!

It is so hard to believe that my little princess is 4!

We celebrated her birthday with a small, family party on Sunday. She had a blast and chose a Minnie Mouse Bow-tique theme. Surprise, surprise. :-)

My parents weren't able to make it up so I video'd her opening their gift. It was hilarious:  photo IMG_4775_zps1d5e0cf5.jpg

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Happy Birthday, my sweet little girl! We love you!

Back to School ~ The Late Edition

Yes, yes, I know school has been in session for at least 2, if not 3 or 4 weeks for some people. But I'm behind so let's just leave it at that. Haha

At the last minute we made the decision to go with the Classical Conversations program for the year. I couldn't be happier. The kids are LOVING it and although the initial preparation was something from another world, I am too.

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I have found several sites that have amazing ideas to incorporate with each weeks lessons. If you follow my School Room board on Pinterest you will see it splattered with a lot of these. But I have to say that Brandy from Half-A-Hundred Acre Wood is the bomb dot com. I mean, seriously. This girl has it together.

So our first week of school board looked like this:

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The subject highlights were:

Math ~ Skip counting 1's and 2's. Since the boys have already mastered these we didn't spend much time on them. But thing singing was fun. :-)

Language ~ The 8 Parts of Speech: noun, pronoun, verb, adverb, conjunction, interjection, proposition, adjective. They only had to memorize the names this week. We will delve into the meanings as the year goes on.

Science ~ The 7 Types of Biomes: Grasslands, Deserts, Scrublands, Tundra, Deciduous Forests, Coniferous Forests, and Tropical Rain Forest. We watched YouTube videos of each of the biomes and wrote fact cards. Jayden's class presentation this week was on his favorite biome and he chose the Tropical Rain Forest. We also build biomes on Mine Craft because that was awesome.

Geography ~ We studied the 7 continents and 4 oceans. The boys did continent and ocean puzzles found here. They had races labeling the continents and oceans printable from here. And they drew blog continents on paper and white boards for location practice.

Art ~ We learned the five basic shapes. Circles, Dots, Straight Lines, Angled Lines, Curved Lines. This was also pretty basic so we didn't spend a ton of time on it.

Timeline ~ We memorized the first timeline marks of the Ancient World, Age of Ancient Empires (creation to circa 450 ad), Creation and the Fall, The Flood and the Tower of Babel, Mesopotamia and Sumer, Egyptians, Indus River Valley Civilization, Minoans and Mycenaeans

History ~ We studied Charlemagne and the Franks. The boys colored this picture while we read about him. We also found some Power Point productions here.

Latin ~ We memorized the first conjugation endings, present tense.

Jayden is also in the Essentials group so he is delving into writing a little more. He learned how to keyword outline and wrote a paragraph on The Middle Ages. Although we studied nouns last year, he was refreshed on how to pick out a common and proper noun and how to include quality adjectives in his papers.

So needless to say, there was a lot to learn. I am so proud of the hard work the boys put into week 1. We can't wait to start week 2!

I'm Back!

Where have I been? Well, here, mostly. Here at home. Running through the chaos of this time of year. School schedules, school shopping, football practice, cheer practice, games, life, life, life. 

But really, we went on vacation in Destin, which was not nearly as relaxing as I had hoped it would be. And drove 15 hours home with a grumpy, screaming 7 month old who just happened to be running a fever. 12 hours later we were sitting in the emergency room of Children's Hospital. The diagnosis: meningitis. We were immediately admitted to the hospital. Immediately, Owen was started on IV antibiotics and the mirage of tests began. Finally, 48 hours later, test after test, a spinal tap, blood work and swabs, we were happy to be told that it was the viral strand of meningitis. We were able to go home and watch our baby from here. So, I've just taken off. Taken off the time, taken full attention of my baby and taken the last few weeks to just settle in. For all of you who follow me on Twitter, I can't say thank you enough for all your prayers.

There is nothing like an attack on your kids to make you re-evaluate, re-prioritize and realize what is truly most important. And that is them. That is these precious babies that God has given me. And not that I have ever forgotten that but sometimes it just needs to be refreshed. Because truly when everything else is gone. My husband and my babies are #1. 

So on a lighter note! Today we're celebrating Evan! Happy birthday to this sweet little man! 

My comedian. He has the biggest heart of anyone I've ever seen. He's always happy. Always go-with-the-flow and such an amazing addition to our family. He's the first to tell me how beautiful I look when I'm dressed up and the first to ask for kisses every night. I love this boy to pieces. Can't believe 8 years has flown by since you entered our lives! We love you, Evan!

These Days...

I woke up this morning at the bright and early time of 5:30 am. Rolled over to my precious little infant who only slept half the night and who was smiling ear to ear and chatting away to try and get my attention. A little annoyed, I picked him up and walked downstairs. Half-heartily made my coffee so I could keep my eyes open the rest of the day, and started answering emails to get a head start on work. Owen, on the other hand, wasn't having it. He wanted Mommy, and he wanted my full and undivided attention.

And that has been most of our day. I've gotten a little work in, a few Avery Lane posts up and fed the other kids at least once. Avery is still in her pajamas and Jayden has successfully moved his entire room to the *unfinished* basement because he and Evan can't stop arguing over who is suppose to be quiet in their room. And today I've just smiled. Soaked it in and enjoyed the chaos.

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Sure, there are still days when I wonder what it would be like to wake up, drop my kids off at daycare and sit in my office... in silence. To have an adult conversation or even a reason to dress in something other than sport shorts. To come home to a relatively clean house, since no one has been there all day, and not mix my piles of work with my piles of laundry. To look at the checking account and see all the extra money I could have if I had only kept my day job. And let's not forget the days that I want to take them all to the fire station. Bid them goodbye and hope they try and find me when they are grown and have overcome their emotional scars of being given away. 

But today, I'm reminded that these are the best days of my life. I get to see my babies growing up in front of me and I'm so thankful to be here for every minute of it. To see every smile and hear every giggle. To give all the hugs and kisses I can stand and even break up the fights. I look into the eyes of my 7 month old and then my 10 year old and I'm reminded of how fast it really does go. That in less than 10 years from now, I will, more than likely, have two less children in my home. That my baby will be almost 11 and that my little girl will be a teenager. 

And I decide that these are truly the days worth living for.