Thursday, February 28, 2013

Small touches to finish a room {blue/gray makeover}

Our blue/ gray dining room makeover is finally complete!
It feels so good to have a space that has completely come together. It takes time and patience to find all the right touches. But I love to decorate this way.
I end up really appreciating a room when I've taken time to think and brainstorm as I go, instead of trying to get it all done in a short amount of time.
Here's some of my more recent additions to the space...
I found some accent pillows for cheap at our local supermarket (can you believe it!) for the wicker chairs (from HERE).

Our family photographer (who also captured those beach pics) found the adorable sign for me on sale at TJ Maxx. The perfect finishing touch for the wall collage.

Greg put on the new screen cover for the fireplace last weekend (from Menards), so the fireplace is also complete! I was excited to find a cover with a dark gray finish to match the rest of our blue/gray theme.
The whitewash makeover tutorial is HERE.

I've learned that small touches make all the difference when it comes to putting a room together.


And I'm so happy to call this place home.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The potty story {for real!}

It's time to record what has taken place over the past four days. If you follow me on FB, then you know we have been knee-deep in potty training over here!
Kensie's potty journey began HERE. (It's important that you read that post first)
Since then, it's been four months of pretty much no potty progress. She went back to crying at the first mention of the potty, refused to sit if I suggested, and just did not want anything to do with it. So I took some advice and backed off. And by "backing off" I mean, I stopped asking her to actually sit on the potty. But I didn't stop talking about the "When you are ready to use the potty all the time, we can sign up for gymnastics Kensie! You could tell your friends what a BIG girl you are! When you want to start you just tell mommy, okay?" I wasn't always super positive though. There were definitely times when I was very negative. When I was at my peak of changing diapers all day, I would sometimes complain about having to change her diaper, and she could totally sense my frustration.  My negative attitude coupled with my refusal to pray about it either was all in all--not helpful. That's not something I am proud to share but it's true.
But anyway, four months later and she finally said OKAY! Let's do this thing! (Not exactly her words, just my interpretation)
Last Friday night I was cleaning out Kensie's closet and somehow we got to talking about the diapers in her basket on the bookshelf. She wanted to start cleaning them up and the next thing I knew, she was so excited to bag them up and give ALL her diapers to Mason! We had repeatedly discussed this scenario over the last month. I got the idea from THIS BLOG. I knew there was no point in pushing it unless she really wanted to do it. But while we were bagging them up together that night, she kept exclaiming, "I so excited to start potty training tomorrow Mama! I gonna be a BIG GIIIIRL!!"  I kept asking her if she was absolutely sure she wanted to commit to this. There's NO GOING BACK, know what I mean? She said yes over and over....
So we made Mason a quick card, stapled it to the trash bag full of diapers, and put it in his room.
Thus began our journey...

Before bed that night, we filled her basket with undies (the same basket that held her diapers). She was so excited as she climbed into bed.

Then we prayed. We prayed out loud together, taking turns. We prayed passionately and excitedly. Thanking God for the desire he put in Kensie, and asking Jesus to help us be strong and patient for the journey ahead of us. (That last part was mostly for me).

DAY 1:

I had a whole container of dollar store potty prizes all ready to go from about three months ago. Just sitting and waiting for the right time. So we dusted it off and placed it right on the counter in the bathroom (where she could easily see them). We took her last diaper off and put a fresh new pair of undies on and I let her pick out a dress--making it much easier for potty training to get those undies off and on quickly.

Then reality set in. Kensie's excitement soon wore off the moment I asked her to sit for the first time. The whole morning was mostly spent in the bathroom with her crying and whimpering, and me reasoning and persuading. Thankfully Greg had the day off from work, so he came to rescue me in the bathroom when I couldn't reason with her anymore. He patiently sat with her and calmed her down until she finally peed for the first time!

The crying and resistance continued throughout the day, even though she was slowly racking up some pretty awesome potty prizes! It was clear that she still didn't really want to follow through when I asked her to sit. She literally cried every time. But the moment she would finally pee, she'd exclaim "I did it! I'm a big girl!" Her whole persona changed immediately after.

During these moments of resistance, I was able to lovingly and calmly remind Kensie that she made the decision to do this. Not me. I think that was the biggest part of the whole process. I kept having to remind her that she wanted to give Mason all her diapers, and she wanted to be a big girl, and she wanted to potty train. Once I kept repeating that I'm here to help her and to love her and to be patient with her, and that Jesus could make her strong and brave just like we had prayed the night before, she very slowly started to warm up to the idea that there was no going back.

I could see that it was starting to sink in: This was not something mom decided for me...this was my choice and mom is here to help me follow through with my decision.

She took an extra early nap that day (I put her in a pull-up). We were both exhausted!

DAY 2:

Greg took Mason to church so I could stay home and have some one-on-one training in the morning (SO HELPFUL). We made a potty chart for some extra motivation. I had a dress hiding in her closet that I was saving for a rainy day. She had received quite a few potty prizes for going pee, but there was still a fight leading up to it. So she needed motivation to do it with a cheerful heart.

I explained that if she sat on the potty the first time I asked her to, and didn't cry about it, she could get a sticker. Didn't matter if anything came out or not. She simply could get a sticker for having a good attitude about it. If she fills the whole chart with stickers, she gets the dress. Pretty sweet deal, eh?

She accepted the potty chart plan and slowly racked up three stickers throughout the rest of Day 2. There was still crying, but a little less. Then she went #2 right before naptime, which gave her a huge boost of confidence! (And me!)

Put her to bed that night in a pull-up again.

DAY 3:

She knew the drill for the day but wasn't really excited about the whole potty thing until just before bedtime that night. We had our first "outside" visitor drop by to say hi quick. Our visitor knew we were potty training and they brought a little gift for Kensie. As soon as we started chatting, Kensie piped up interrupting us, "Mommy! I have to go potty!" (Up to this point she had taken zero initiative to tell me. It was always ME asking her to try). This was the first time she excitedly ran into the bathroom, did her thing, and happily asked if she could put a sticker on her chart to show our visitor.


This is me at the end of Day 3. Finally showered with make-up and some fun new jewelry. Potty training is stressful! I was a serious wreck for three days. I owed it to my husband to look nice for one night.

 DAY 4:
(Re-posting my FB status from today...b/c it sums it up pretty well)
Kensie has taken complete ownership. I had a friend over to visit just during naptime (okay more like my MK consultant who gave me a time well spent in my opinion!). Anyway, while she was applying my make-up I heard Kensie go in the bathroom, use the potty, and flush the toilet....and then went back to bed. All by herself.

Are you kidding me?? Totally different child from the past 3 days. This is the first day she has not shed a single tear and is getting stickers like it's her job. She may be getting that dress sooner than we thought!

Can I get a Amen?!
And THAT my friends is potty training from the trenches.
For now, we are just focusing on day-time training. Pull-ups at naptime and bedtime. We'll see how the next several weeks go.
God gets all the glory for helping us get through this. It was such a beautiful way to introduce Kensie to our living God. We all know life only gets harder the older you get. But for that sweet little girl, that was the hardest time in her life thus far! And we were both able to cling to Jesus during it. That makes it totally worth it, right there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Does he like it??

Since my hair make-over I've had several people ask me different versions of the following questions: 
"So, what did Greg say?"
"Yeah, but does Greg like it?"
Marriage is funny sometimes. You think you know a person after seven and a half years of marriage and then all of a sudden you learn something new. Ever had that happen?
I predicted Greg's response somewhat accurately. He didn't NOT like it. But he said something like,
"Wow it's definitely different, and it might take me a while to get used to it...but yeah, I like it"

And because I'm a girl, that wasn't enough for me so I kept pestering him with more questions."So would you freak out more if I chopped my hair super short? Or if I colored my hair something totally crazy? I know you say I look good in whatever but what do you really REALLY like?? Like if you could pick ANY color and length of hair, what would you pick??? Come on babe, just tell me what kind of hair you like the best....

Geeeeeez, right? Such a girl thing to do.

So we talked for a few minutes and when we finally got to the bottom of it, here's what I found out....

He's not a hair guy. As in, when it comes to what he finds most attractive about me, hair is not number one. It never has been. And I always thought it was. I just always assumed he preferred long, blond hair.

So there ya go.

It's good to learn new things from the one you love.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Stuff breaks {but mostly the bathroom}

Not too long ago, we replaced out fridge. It had defrost problems and was leaking water on the floor at least once a week. It was kinda fun to get a new one. We went pretty conservative. By conservative, I mean, no stainless steel double door fridge with a pull out freezer on bottom (those sound dreamy!). But still, a much nicer upgrade than what we had before. (sorry no pic).
All that to say, since replacing the fridge, everything else seems to be breaking too. That's usually how it goes though, right?
Like when my camera broke yesterday....
The lens is stuck in this position.
Every time I push the power button it makes this crazy noise and shuts down automatically.
I didn't even do anything to break it. It just started wigging out for no reason. So bummed!
But thank goodness I can still take pics with my phone! (Not super great, but hey it's something)
We have one bathroom in our house. It's always been a little outdated but I could totally live with it.

Don't you love the slanted drawers under the sink? Ahhh, the late 1960's.
But lately, everything is falling apart.

It's getting to the point where we physically are unable to use it. And we don't have a second bathroom as a back-up.
I would love to end this post by announcing that we are completely gutting and renovating the bathroom. But I can't say for sure what our plan is just yet. We don't exactly have money for a huge overhaul. However, I feel like if we already need a whole new shower/tub, AND all new plumbing for a new sink....then we should do it right and just gut the whole dang bathroom. And I would LOVE to add a second sink in there too. We will probably never add a second bathroom to this house, but I feel it would help the resale value if we could make a good impression with the ONE bathroom we do have.
Decisions, decisions.

In the meantime, here are some of my imaginary bathroom renovations that I have been dreaming of...

Source: via Shannon on Pinterest

Source: via Shannon on Pinterest

Source: via Shannon on Pinterest
 You can check out the rest of my inspiration board HERE.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A very RED Valentine's Day

I've been wanting to do something for approximately two years, but just never felt brave enough to do it. I would always find a reason to talk myself out of it. But today, I was ready to take the plunge....
Oh yes I did...

(I've never been anything but blond, so this is pretty big for me).
Buh bye blond beach bum!
Hello fierce red-head!
I can't tell you how much I LOVE it too.
The hubby hasn't exactly seen it yet, but I know he'll like it. He's the kinda guy who says, "You look beautiful in anything."
The color has toned down a touch after one shower but I still love it.
And here's my Valentine outfit I'm wearing now, waiting for my sweet man to get home tonight...
I will be pulling all of my green colored clothes out of my closet the next few days. Every red-headed girl needs a fabulous go-to green outfit. The colors go so well together.
Have you ever done anything brave on Valentine's Day?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Teddy Bear tea party

Yup. We're still here. Living life to the fullest!
I've been falling out of the blogging routine lately. Facebook is sometimes such an easier tool for quick updates and pictures. Not to mention the feedback is 1000% times better. It just seems like more people are connected to FB than to blogging. And let's be honest, we ALL like comments.
But anyway. We're here again! Ready to record some more memories.
This morning I took the kids to the library for a special "teddy bear tea party".
 It was probably more geared towards Kensie's age but Mason got in on some fun too.
And we all know the boy loves food, so he wasn't gonna pass up the opportunity to munch on a cupcake and guzzle some punch (I'm not kidding with the word "guzzle" either).
At the end of the tea party, the kids "left" their stuffed animals for a sleep over at the library. This was probably the cutest idea ever. Each animal was given a name tag and an empty frame (that the kids made). Tomorrow we will go back to pick up our monkey and bear and hear about all the adventures the animals had at their sleepover!
I thought Kensie would be hesitant to leave her sweet teddy but she quickly gave her a kiss goodbye and waved wildly as we left the building,
"BYE TEDDY! Have fun with your friends!!"
And that was our teddy bear tea party.

UPDATE: We picked up our stuffed animals today from their sleepover. They had SO MUCH FUN. Check out all their adventures HERE.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Hall of Honor {a platform for Jesus}

So to follow up my last post....
Eight years after graduating college, the Cornerstone University Athletic Department called me on the phone to tell me I had been inducted into the Hall of Honor.
Actually, let me give you exactly how that phone call went....
I was sitting at the counter enjoying a cup of coffee for the morning while Kensie and Mason were playing with some multi-colored pasta beads on the kitchen floor. In order to keep the mess to a minimum, I had the brilliant idea of pulling out a large metal bucket to pour them all into (we're talking like a gallon-sized zip lock bag of these pasta beads people). I swiftly and sternly told the kids they could play with them as long as they kept them in the bucket. So they happily grabbed some plastic cups and began scooping and sorting through the beads in all their glory. The pasta bounced loudly off the bottom of the bucket as they repeatedly dumped them out of their plastic cups.
THEN my cell phone rang.
NOTE: Why is it that as soon as mom gets on the phone, all hell breaks loose?? Suddenly, noises become louder, kids become more whiny, and they start creeping your way to see how long it takes for them to get your attention. Anyone else's kids do the same thing?? Ugh. Anyway...
I was congratulated on my achievement at CU and they quickly rattled off information about a formal banquet I was invited to attend, and how the induction ceremony would go, and how I would be recognized with 4 other inductees into the Hall of Honor, and to wear something nice and etc, etc.....and all the while my kids are clamoring in the background, dumping beads onto the floor by this point (b/c they were obviously not keeping them in the bucket like I asked) and fighting over which plastic cup they wanted to use. And the only thing I could say into the phone with the craziness around me was, "I don't have to say anything at this banquet do I??"
Yep. That's how it went. I'll be happy I recorded this later in life. Oh the everyday life of young children.
Anyway, that's how I found out. I had about a month before the date of the banquet. I invited my family. I bought a new dress. I asked my sister if she'd want to introduce me at the banquet. Those were things I was planning to do. But I certainly wasn't planning on speaking. Maybe a quick thank you and some generalized words about my experience, but not what was really on my heart.

So I wrestled with God over the next three weeks. I would hear the Holy Spirit usually when I was running on the treadmill. When I was able to clear my head, I would start to get these ideas about writing a speech. A very difficult speech...full of honesty, and vulnerability. But then I'd quickly push it back and go on with my day. It wasn't until the actual day of the banquet that I finally sat down and said, "Okay Lord, I can't accept this award unless I write what's on my heart."

So I did.

And here it is....

I have had so many real life conversations with people as a result of this speech. It's amazing how much God has been using it to touch people right where they're at. I don't give myself ANY credit because I usually FLEE from anything that requires public speaking.

I gotta be honest though....I want more. I want more of His presence in me. I want to see Him work through my weaknesses. I want to make impact in a very real way.

This was a small taste that I will savor for a very long time.

And to wrap up the event, here are some pics...

The current Head Women's Volleyball coach gave me my old jersey as a gift! Yes, it had been washed first :)

Lauren (our team manager) along with some former volleyball teammates you heard me talk about at the end of my speech. Great group of girls.

Aaron, Allison, Me, Greg

My sister Lauren and her sweet baby bump!

Lauren and Katelyn--sisters forever!

Induction ceremony before the Men's basketball Homecoming game.

Inductees into the CU Hall of Honor.
I feel like this is the first award I've ever really received well. Does that make sense? As weird as it sounds, all my previous awards just left that empty feeling at the end. Like I would never be good enough no matter how many All-American titles I received. But, this? No. This made my heart so completely full as I watched God work through the whole process.

I AM enough. And it's not because of some silly plaque or bouquet of flowers. It's because of Him.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sports {preview for the next post}

I graduated college in the spring of 2005. With Greg, my college sweetheart.
We married just a few months after this pic.
Feels like yesterday, but also like forever ago. Anyone else?
Anyway, this blog was started a few years after I graduated. Most of my blog posts nowadays are about marriage, kids, decorating and the like. Therefore, leaving out a very large part of my life. Something that has shaped me in SO many ways.


There was a time when my life literally revolved around sports for many, many, many years.

I was a two-sport athlete through high school and college. I played volleyball in the fall every year since I was in 6th grade. I would get a short break in the winter and would start back up again in the spring playing on a traveling club team. I also ran track every spring during the school year as well. I say "ran" but I really only did one event, the high jump.

Most of my memories as a student-athlete are filled with practices, smelly uniforms, late-night bus rides, wins, losses, pre-season training, out-of-season training, and goofing around with teammates on and off the court.

It was pretty much my entire life, and I truly loved every minute of it.

Cornerstone University
Women's Volleyball Team 2003

I studied hard and got pretty good grades. But all I could think about was the next season in terms of sports. I still joke that playing volleyball and running track were my biggest motivators for getting through college. And I'm so thankful I had the privilege of being on so many amazing teams.

Cornerstone University Women's track team
2003? WHAC Champs!

2004 Indoor Nationals--with my jump coach (far left) and fellow high jumpers who all qualified for Nationals that year.

2005 Outdoor Nationals. Can you find me in the back row?

 This is all just some background info for my next post (which I can hopefully get up and running soon). I had the honor of receiving a special award last Wednesday that has resurfaced many of my track and volleyball memories.

And looking back, it's something I feel God leading me to share with you all.

So come back tomorrow to see, okie dokie?