My Life: Home Renovations, School Decisions and Church Changes

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I am always amazed at how time flies. Like fast. Real fast. All the time.

This has been a particularly busy summer for us. The Outer Banks for a week. Georgia for a big family reunion. The lake house with family. Lots of travels.

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And here we are. It’s back to school time. We’ve wandered into the amazing and daunting world of homeschooling this year. Yes, your eyes aren’t failing you. Yes, this was another intentional decision by our family. It’s been in the works since January when our 1st grader started coming home complaining about school and using words like “boring” and “hate” to describe her day.

After many months of asking friends who homeschool about this world, stalking other bloggers on the topic, praying and asking the Lord for direction on this topic…we landed at trying this for at least a year. My job allows me the flexibility to do this (yes even with Real Estate!) and we’re forging forward determined to have a great year. Little brother started kindergarten at our local public charter school and while we miss him we are acclamating to our schedule so it’s helpful to only have 1 child at home right now. We are participating in a wonderful co-op on Tuesdays and Thursdays which I’m also excited about.

First day of kindergarten…

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So why, right? Well, our Lily is sweet and smart, albeit slightly distractable in social settings, and it’s a shame for her not to like learning. We want her to thrive, not just muddle through eyes rolled in the back of her head. As of this very moment, it’s just for a year. But who knows. Maybe it’s gonna last longer.

And as a result, we have room changes. Ben moves to a new room so his can be the office/homeschool room. His new room lacked some things like a heat source (important in PA?) so we are in the midst of changes.

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And since the carpet was dirty and ugly…well, we ripped it out.

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Soon to be homeschool room…

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And since we clearly don’t have enough projects my wonderful and ever-so-talented husband is making Benjamin a new loft bed.

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(It was assembled outside just to make sure it all fit – this is not going to be a tree house though a very cool idea!)

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Here I am. The professional painter getting to work.

And lastly, as if we didn’t have enough change, our church closed in the spring and as of tonight we are members of a new church, which we love (if you are interested here’s info about it – http://www.ironworkschurch.org). We are so loving the fellowship with this new body of folks and the joy it has brought to our family. {Psst…they sing songs like this from our new favorite group, Rend Collective}.

Thanks for reading. Happy Labor Day weekend y’all!

More Bathroom Renovation Stories: Light Fixtures

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Today’s theme: less words, more photos.

We are at it again. Slowly.

I took the kiddos with me to work Saturday and my amazing husband managed to take down the Hollywood lights so stylishly donning our bathroom wall and replace them with these sconce fixtures.

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So without further ado…

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Wonder how long it’ll take us to patch the hole in the middle?

Next on the agenda? The long awaited, dreaded decision on wall color. Now that we have the mirrors in there with the lights we feel we can make a decision. Or at least that’s the thinking.
Cheers,
Steph

How I keep my kids engaged with important stuff

It’s spring and around these parts (side note – lots of cool bloggers use that term and I’m not ashamed to steal borrow it)… We think about lots of things.
Cleaning up sticks….

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Daffodils that just bloomed…

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The crocus that open up every morning…

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My creeping Jenny that are coming back to life under a sea of dead leaves…

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And we think about Easter. We are trying to think more about this topic with our family. I usually don’t post a ton about this topic because for us, it’s woven into our lives. We don’t go to church – we are part of a body, a family. We don’t have to read our Bible – we want the Lord to change our hearts and we know His words to us are far better than anything we can come up with.

Easter is a beautiful time of year.

So I’m constantly thinking about how can I think His thoughts. And we want the same for our kids. The other day before school we made a list of things we think about when we think of Easter.

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We purchased Amanda White’s ebook that gives great craft ideas that are – wait for it – intentionally helping our family think about and discuss the Easter story for two weeks. We made a perfume bottle using a jar, skewers, essential oil and stickers {shown below in the top left corner of the photo}. It reminds us of the woman who poured perfume on Jesus feet shortly before he died.

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We really are thinking about Jesus all the time and I love that.

So that’s what we’ve been up to these days.

How do you create purposeful conversations and moments with your loved ones this time of year?

Bathroom Vanity Mirrors: Rehabbed Windows

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Well, we are back at it again with our bathroom. After a very long hiatus we are finally moving forward with the finishing touches. We found these amazing windows at a salvage barn near us. The funny thing is that the business is primarily a glass business but in the process he collects a lot of old things and resells to the public.

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So we were there one day looking for something else and told Jim about our project in our bathroom. He says to me,

What about these old windows that were taken out of a church that are up in the attic? Let’s go take a look at them because I think they would be perfect for what you described!

And sure enough. Perfect!

We took the windows over a year ago {ahem, slackers here} with the intention of cleaning them up – sanding, cleaning, sealing. Well after a long pause we FINALLY delivered them to my buddy Jim. He called today and said they were done.

Not only did we recycle something from days long ago (my fave!) but we also got a pretty good deal too. $60 each which included him removing the old glass and cutting mirror (remember the top portion is rounded so it’s not something we could easily do) and finishing up the back so it’s covered and ready with wire for hanging.

What do you think?

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Next on the list is paint for the walls and  painting the medicine cabinet over the toilet black. Oh and yes we will hang the mirrors too. I was just too excited and had to see them in the room asap!

Hope to be back soon to show you our progress!

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Cheers,
Steph

How we celebrate life

Right now I’m pausing to tell you how I’ve spent the week celebrating the gift of my now 5 year old.

Have I told you what a joy he is? He really is. We love him so and got to have a fun week with him.

Monday was St Patrick’s Day and his teacher at preschool is from Ireland (and did you know that I really adore Ireland so that makes her extra special!)… so Ben and another friend got to be the king and queen of the “paddies”. Highlight was the crown he got the wear and standing on a table. We also shared cupcakes on this day too.

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Tuesday, a playdate with a friend and dinner at Chick-Fil-A. Fast forward to his birthday on Wednesday. Leader and share person at school, playdate with another friend, Pioneer Club (think Boy Scouts with a Christian theme) and yet more cupcakes and then opening presents from mom and dad.

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Now today I’m decorating for the big party on Saturday. We are having it at our church so the kids have plenty of room to run around.

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Listening to great music on Pandora…

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Using my free batman-themed printables from Pinterest…

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…some boxes a friend gave me recently. ..

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Really want it to be special without spending a ton. He’s worth it. I love celebrating life!

Cheers,
Steph

How to go “Green” and still be normal

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How in the world do you go green without turning into a hippie? How do you transition into using products that are healthier and safer without turning into a crunchy tree-hugging person?

I’ve posted about my desire to go “green” before but I wanted to share an update about some little things we are doing to change things up in our family.

We tried in the past and failed. I wanted to do the cloth diaper thing but we couldn’t get it together. I have tried other natural things in the past and burned out before I could get into a routine.

It’s important to tell you the secret to this. It takes time. Little by little. NOT am overnight adventure.

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First I still reference this great book called Green Up Your Cleanup. She includes tons of ideas and recipes about how to make your own detergents and cleaners. Using natural cleaners like vinegar amd baking soda are what make up a lot of her book.

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One thing I’ve removed from our home entirely is bleach. We do not use it at all. Everything I’ve read about this chemical has left me with the conclusion that we can clean and disinfect with other things. And we do. Essential oils can actually help with that task. Getting white clothes clean? We use washing soda, Borax or a similar oxygen based product like Oxy Clean or Charlie’s Soap. Works great.

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Another thing I’ve done is I’ve tried to use towels and rags instead of paper towels. Waste from paper towels is mostly unnecessary when I use a towel and wash it. I still buy paper towels but am making a conscious effort to use them sparingly. It saves us money too! I purchased both of these for $2.00 at the Dollar Tree.

I bought castile soap and I use it as shampoo, hand soap and add to cleaning solutions.

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I am experimenting with my own homemade “shampoo”. Technically it’s called no-poo because it doesn’t have the harsh detergents in them. For a conditioner I’ve toyed around with coconut oil and a cider vinegar and essential oil/water mix. Still working out the details but so far so good.

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I also keep a container of baking soda in the bathroom and have used to scour the shower/tub. Works wonderfully and super cheap and no smell!

I’m trying to avoid using plastic bags and disposable containers. Instead I use these…

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So, we’re fumbling along but I like to do what we can to be natural and kind to our earth.

You, too, can go green without changing your personality.

Once I work out my hair care regimen I plan to write something about that too.

Leave me a comment. How do you go green? I want to hear ideas!

The lost art of saying thank you

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Perhaps I’m old fashioned but I like sending thank you cards. I know,  yawn.
But in an effort to be intentional and let people know that I’m appreciative, I’m on a mission to make this a priority this year.

It doesn’t even have to be fancy. You can take a piece of card stock and cut it in half, write

thanks

on the front and then proceed with your note. Forget about spending $4-5 per card at Hallmark, just do your own thing.

The point is, in our busy world of electronic everything, take the time to say thanks to someone or perhap send a congratulations more to a new mom. I LOVE getting snail mail. It’s like the best thing ever.

How can you express thankfulness to the people in your life today?

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