Picking Paint Colors

I can't pull in a paint store parking lot without getting excited. Actually walking in the store makes me giddy. Oh the possibilities! The colors. The choices.

It's a swift fall to despair though. The colors. The choices. How do you choose?

I'm always optimistic as I walk up to counter thinking of the transformation my room is about to undergo. Sometimes I'm lucky and the first color is a winner. Sometimes I have to make a few trips back. 

A couple weeks ago, I started painting my hallways. They'd been the same color for ten years and I couldn't stand it anymore.

before

after

Now that I've finished most of them, I'm still not sure about the color. It's the same color as the kitchen, Benjamin Moore's Classic Gray. It's very neutral and doesn't shout anything at me when I walk by. On the other hand, it's a bit too plain blending right in with the white trim. We have painters coming in January to do an area on the stairwell that's too high for me to handle. I could have them do a completely different color and then repaint the other areas myself.

Any thoughts? Should I venture back into the world of paint samples? What's your record number of times for painting a single area? :)


The Most Annoying Sound



Aaaah, Christmas vacation. Time to relax and really focus on the reason for the season. No more school. Just me at home with my five little angels making memories. Time to listen to sleigh bells, children laughing, Christmas carols, and STOOOOOP!!!!!!  What? STOOOOOP!!!!!! isn't on your list of traditional Christmas sounds? It is in this house. Listen to what I'll be hearing my kids say to each other 5948304039 times a day...

(If you can't see the video, it's basically a one second clip of my daughter yelling STOOOOOP!!!!!!)


video

Is there a more annoying sound? I can actually feel my blood pressure rise and muscles clench when I hear it. I have an immediate urge to scream STOOOOOP!!!!!! saying STOOOOOP!!!!!!

Sibling rivalry does not take a Christmas vacation. They must be plotting ways to annoy each other...constantly. They all know which buttons to push and they never get tired of getting a reaction.

Thoughts that run through my head when I hear STOOOOOP!!!!!!

Why???!?
What. Are. They. Doing?????
Do they like getting in trouble??!?
Why can they not just mind their own business???!
If I have to get involved, it's not going to be pretty!!!!!
Why????!?

So if you're at home enjoying the sounds of sibling rivalry mixed in with When can we start opening presents? How come so and so has more presents than me under the tree? I just thought of something else I want for Christmas! Can I open just one present today? I felt the presents and I think I know what you got me. Know you're not alone. It's not Norman Rockwell, but it is Normal Everyday Life!

P.S. Video credits to my middle schooler who recorded that annoying exchange between his two younger sisters and then brought it to me so he could get them in trouble. I guess I forgot to add tattling to my list of unwelcome Christmas sounds! :)




Turning Your Blog Into a Book

I decided to give myself a Christmas present this year and printed off my blog in book form.


I had heard about this when I first started blogging, so the thought of doing it has been in the back of my mind for awhile. After a year of posting, I decided to get serious and found out it's really quite easy!

I couldn't find a lot of sites that print blogs, but one that kept popping up was Blog2Print. It works with both Blogger and WordPress. Basically, you enter the web address of your blog and it creates a book that you can then edit and order to print. There are several options for customizing your book and you'll want to spend some time experimenting with what works best for you.

Let me tell you, I'm thrilled with how my book turned out! It's 300 pages and includes 69 posts with comments. You can choose to print your posts without comments, but they felt too special for me to leave out. 

Here's a few pictures of the pages in my book. So fun to see a whole year's worth of work in one place!


Not everything prints exactly as your blog looks onscreen. You can see in this picture that the photos that aren't separated by words in a post are printed as a group in the book.


Also, captions aren't printed directly under photos as they are on a blog. You can see here that they show up in a sentence below, as if you're starting a new paragraph.


I chose to include the comments in my book which added considerably to its length, but it's fun to look back and see what other people said about each post.


There are several different pricing options for the books. For example, my full color book with comments ended up costing me about $125, but if I had printed it in black and white and left out the comments, it would have only been about $20. Also, you don't have to include every post on your blog. You can choose the ones you want and all of them are listed in a Table of Contents with their corresponding page number. I chose to not include link party posts and posts that didn't have a personal meaning to me. 

As I said before, I'm very happy with how my book turned out. It's nice to know that even if I stop blogging, I'll have a record of what I've written. Seeing my thoughts in printed form was motivating and made me think of why I really have this blog. It's a great way to document our family life! I hope to have plenty of material to print off next year, too!

Have you ever thought about turning your blog into a book? Think it might make a good Christmas present for you or someone you love?




A Birthday Wish for My Son

This week was my oldest son's seventeenth birthday. That seems unfathomable to me. I can remember the day he was born like yesterday.


I want to mark this special occasion on my blog, but what you're allowed to say as a mom about a boy that age in public is very limited. Gushing words declaring my undying love would not go over well, though of course my love for him knows no bounds. Sharing silly stories or personal conversations on here is off limits, though I savor our conversations and store them up like jewels. 

I imagine we're to a stage many a mother and son have passed through before. One where I admire who he is becoming and wait with anticipation to see what he will do next. Physically, he is almost full grown, though when I look at him I still sometimes see my little boy. Intellectually, he's changing and maturing. We can talk politics and current events and I marvel that this has happened in the blink of an eye. He has embraced the freedom driving has given him this year and takes on more responsibilities and commitments outside of our home now. 

And yet, there still exists a boisterous boy a little too willing to take risks. One who isn't done maturing and could easily find himself making decisions he might later regret. This is also something I'm sure many a mother has feared for her son. There is parenting left to do. Important work and I want to finish well.

I view my son with pride and love and nostalgia as I know that all too soon he will leave and make his own way in the world. I hope he will always come home and allow his father and I to share in his life. Allow us to have conversations and laughter with him, allow us the privilege of knowing and loving him as he becomes the man God made him to be. 

I think of all these things as I wish him Happy Birthday!





Family Pictures: Behind the Scenes

Long time, no see! My blog break has been nice, but I've missed you and hope you're all doing well!

One of the things we did over Thanksgiving break was have some long overdue family pictures taken. You know the ones...mom shops and obsesses over what everyone will wear, careful attention is paid to where each person is in the haircut cycle, and many warnings are given on avoiding bodily harm until after the pictures are finished.


If you decide to take family pictures, know that one or more of these things might happen...

1. Changing weather will make you pick and choose outfits more times than you want to admit. 

2. The thought of pictures will elicit a collective groan from every male in the family.

3. You will unwittingly schedule the session during a must see football game and your sons will beg you all week to change it.

4. Your college age daughter will text you that she dyed her hair the day before you told her about them. 

5.  You'll threaten, cajole, beg, bribe, and give your children "the look" all in an attempt to achieve the dream. 

6. After finishing pictures, your middle school son will have his shirt and sweater stripped off before you even leave the parking lot. 

7. In the end, you'll breathe a big sigh of relief and revel in the fact that for better or worse, the pictures are done and there's nothing left to do but wait and see how they turn out. 

Fortunately, our friend, Angie Helton, did a fantastic job and no retakes will be required.

Here are a few of my favorites...





There may or may not have been a little behind the scenes bribery to get my husband to pose for this picture! :)



Family pictures...they capture a moment, tell a story, and have the ability to transport us back to those special days. They can also drive us nuts and fill us with joy at the same time. Sounds a lot like the families they're meant to capture!


How about you? Is your family all on board and enthusiastic about pictures? Do you put them off as long as possible like I do? Time to confess what really goes on behind the camera! 


Changing Seasons


I don't know if it's this time of year with all the holiday busyness, or the natural ebb and flow of life's interests, but I haven't been as excited to write on this blog the past couple weeks as I used to be. The ideas and words aren't flowing. I think part of it is that I'm using my creative energy in other ways and I don't have as much left over for writing.

I don't want to just drop off the face of the blogosphere, so I wanted to let you know I'm going to take a break over the holidays from my usual posting schedule. I may post once a week or once a month as the mood strikes. If you don't want to miss anything, I'd love for you to follow me by email or on Bloglovin. You'll find both of these options to the right on my sidebar.

Thank you to all my regular readers. I really appreciate your support and look forward to be being back with more Normal Everyday Life soon!


How To Make Your Middle Schooler Mad

Mom confession time...Sometimes I take delight in teasing and annoying my kids just for the fun of it. Can anyone else relate?


If you're the kind of mom that thinks it's funny to annoy a middle school boy, this list is for you! You can send your kid into meltdown mode doing any of the following...

Dance. It doesn't have to be for long. It can be just a couple seconds of you busting out your moves! 

Sing. A few bars in the car are enough to make them cringe. It's also the best way to get them to change the radio station without argument. You sing a few words and they can't pick a new station fast enough!

Talk above a whisper in public. If anyone, anywhere, including the person you're talking to, can hear you, it's completely embarrassing and will get a rise out of your middle schooler. 

Let a younger sibling wear a costume out in public. The protests will be swift and immediate.


Use their nickname in front of their friends. A dirty look and warning eyes will shoot your way in seconds.

Make him go shopping...this is a sure fire way to make him miserable. Bonus points if it's for fabric or wallpaper. These are still haunting memories from husband's childhood! 

Enjoy yourself too much in any way. Laughing, telling jokes, smiling, getting excited. None of that is allowed. Again the potential for embarrassment by mom is just too high!

And last, but not least, write a blog post about how to annoy your middle schooler. Eyes are guaranteed to roll!




Mommy Reality Challenge #22: What Mom Eats For Breakfast

Hi everyone! I'm guest cohosting this week's Mommy Reality Challenge! We'd love to have you join us in sharing some of those real moments in every mom's life. 
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Waa-ha-ha-haa! Welllcome, our pet, to a very SPOOK-TACULAR edition of the Mummy Reeality Challenge!

Scary-mommyreality

If this is your first time hearing about the Mommy Reality Challenge we are so glad you are joining this great community of moms who participate in our weekly challenges that showcase all the fun, crazy, and sometimes overwhelming moments that are in every mom’s life!

Please don’t just read. This is an INTERACTIVE post! Come join in all the fun!

The Rules are Simple!

  1. We will announce the theme
  2. You will take a pic, post it to the social media account of your choice with the hashtag #mommyreality or write a post and then link it up to this blog post!
  3. Then in two weeks, we will announce our favorites and award a meme to the winner!
These past two weeks in the spirit of it being Halloween season, Jen from the Mommy Reality Team challenged us to show "Something Scary" around our homes.
The result was fab with a wide assortment...from the obviously scary such as a "Creepy Ghost in Photo" to the educational realism of how creepy and intimidating cosmetic aisles can be. A very special 'thank you' to Jennifer from The Deliberate Mom for co-hosting with us!


We are Talented Dancers!

Before we announce the challenge winner, Evil-Scientist Celeste and Frankenstein Jen have been rehearsing some wicked dance moves these past couple weeks along with this week's new Special Co-Host Bride of Frankenstein Marie! We are SO excited to FINALLY debut this to you! In addition, we've brought back our past two co-hosts to join in the fun: Wolfman Jennifer and Dracula Joanna!
Enjoy!



AND NOW... DRUM ROLL!

The winner of Mommy Reality Challenge #21: SCARE US:

Amber from Our Charmed Life who submitted a photo to the Mommy Reality challenge of a mutant spider... okay... a CRAB lurking in her basement!
Here is your meme, Amber!

Crab Meme

Nice spooky spotting and we hope you join us as our next Mommy Reality Special Co-host!
Our runner-up photo comes from Lyssa from Playing the Music of Life!
Lyssa is a part of a professional flash-mob group who dances Michael Jackson's "Thriller" at various events before Halloween. SO fun!

zombie alyssa

It's time for the next Mommy Reality challenge!

(Visit the Mommy Reality tumblr page to see all of our previous memes!)

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Meet The Mommy Reality Team!
Jenerally Informed
Jen from JENerally Informed: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | Pinterest

Leapfrog and  Lipgloss

Celeste from Leapfrog and Lipgloss: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | Pinterest

And Introducing a NEW Mommy Reality Guest Co-Host: Marie from Normal Everyday Life!

Marie

As a reminder, Marie won our "Something I Can't Get Rid Of" challenge. She is a licensed Speech Pathologist who is a stay-at-home mom of five. Marie's been blogging for a little over a year and we love Marie most because she has a great sense of humor. Check out some of her humorous posts here!

Our NEW Mommy Reality Challenge Theme:

“What Mom Eats For Breakfast”

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day! 


cornpops
Jesse Pinkman Corn Pops 

Okay, most of the time they say that. Whomever "they" are. (These darn "THEY's" go back and forth on that issue and really need to make up their minds)

confused

Before we dive in: Just a little background on how our challenges are selected- Jen and Celeste take turns writing the post and creating the winning meme from the last challenge. This week it’s Celeste’s turn. Celeste actually doesn't care much for traditional breakfast food, so while scrambling around getting everybody ready in the morning will usually opt for a mug of (cheap and instant) chicken noodle soup. After everybody's at school, when she gets back, sometimes she'll pour a bowl of cereal instead for a quick breakfast. Favorite cereals include: Cheerios with honey and frozen blueberries or Frosted Mini Wheats, Cookie Crisp or Golden Crisp. All healthy and adult choices.

Celeste Breakfast

So we want to know! Are you the type of momma who grabs something on-the-go like a granola bar? Or maybe you just do coffee? Or do you wait to drop your kids off at school and then fix yourself something delicious and elaborate? Or maybe you fetch something from Mickey D's? Are you a pancakes or a waffles kind of gal? Do you have a favorite cereal? Or do you opt for a breakfast food that's off the map?

We want to see! You have until 11/14/14 to Submit!

Don't forget to grab our super-nifty button!

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 ✔ *By submitting your pic, you are giving the Mommy Reality Team permission to use your photo to create a special silly meme for you if you win! :). If you win and you’re a blogger, you also have the to opportunity to be our co-host! ✔ **The Mommy Reality team and our special co-host are VERY diligent in pinning, posting, and sharing the link-up participation every week, so make sure to follow us on our social media channels so you won’t miss out! We encourage you to visit a couple other Mommy Reality participants in the link-up and leave meaningful comments! The best part of this link-up is that we’re a community of real moms with a sense of humor about ourselves!



Trick or Treat Through Time


Throwback Thursday...

A look at my five favorite Halloween pictures through the years...ta-da!






Whether you choose to go as a ladybug or a pumpkin, Elvis or Barney...whether you're riding the high seas with the Pirates or out in space with the Teletubbies...

Happy Halloween to you...
Boo!



Makeup? Help!!

This is not a sponsored post. Just one woman's quest to update her makeup routine. :)

Does this aisle scare any of you?


Is anyone else at a loss as to what most of these products are for and how you would use them?

How in the world am I supposed to pick the right products to lengthen, plump, tighten, conceal, and brighten? Where do you even begin when there are so many choices all promising to fix whatever you're looking to fix? Every cosmetics aisle is so overwhelming that I want to run screaming from the store!

About every five years, I get the urge to update my makeup routine. I've never been one to wear a lot, but the older I get, the more I want to help my face out a bit! Usually I start with my sister. She's good at that stuff and won't laugh at my hopelessness. Sometimes I read magazines for advice, but that can be confusing too. Other times I take a chance on buying something new, and after a few days it usually goes in the bottom of a drawer to die. 

This time I decided to head to our local mall for a makeover. But which store to choose? I'd already done Bare Escentuals on my last overhaul and the department store counters always seem so intimidating. We have a Sephora here that I hadn't tried, so that seemed like a good place to start. They offer 45 minute makeover consultations, if you agree to spend $50 on products in their store. Now that may sound like a lot, but trust me you can spend that in no time!


Let me tell you, I loved my experience. The guy that did my makeup was very helpful and gave good advice. He used a lot of products, but helped me pare it down to some essentials at the end. This is definitely the most makeup I've ever worn in my life. It's honestly a little more than I could keep up with and would want to wear everyday. However, I did purchase some basic things I think will work for me and it was a relief not to be shopping blind. Plus Sephora has a great return policy so it didn't feel risky to try something new.

Here's my before and after, just for fun...


So how about you? Am I the only one who's scared of the cosmetics aisle? What do you do when you're desperate for some makeup help?









A Letter To My Daughter


Dearest Daughter,

This weekend you asked me quite the question: Are younger or older children more fun? 

It reminded me of when Laura Ingalls in Little House In the Big Woods wonders if Pa likes brown or golden hair best. 

Such a question. Both are wonderful, both fill this mother's heart with love and it's impossible to say. What I can say is what's fun about you, at age 18 in your first semester of college. 

I love that you call me and want to spend time together. 

I like that we have deeper conversations and share meaningful things at this stage. 

It's a bit of a relief that you make more of your own decisions now. I can relax and breathe knowing you've got this!

It's awesome that you're learning new things and teaching us a thing or two. 

It's fun that we share a similar sense of humor and can laugh and joke together. 

It's exhilarating to follow you into a store for younger people and buy a pair of jeans that are hip!

It touches me that you're becoming a friend and mentor to your siblings.

It makes me happy to see you following God. I have no greater joy than to hear my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4

I delight in seeing who you're becoming, hearing about how you enjoy your major, and discovering more about who you are. 

You see my girl, the answer to your question isn't a simple one. Children of all ages are fun. But you...I love you just the way you are right now, and the way you were yesterday, and the way you'll be tomorrow. Because I love you, at any age.




A Perfect Day

Sometimes you have a perfect day. 



The sun shines, the plans you made go well, and the people you spend it with fill your heart with joy. 


Sometimes a perfect day is being by myself, sometimes it's spending time with friends, but most of the time it's being with family.

Waiting for a hayride...



At the pumpkin patch...


In the corn maze...


Appreciating farm animals...


Carving pumpkins...


and lighting Jack-O-Lanterns...


Whatever we do, it's always more fun when we do it together...