Freshening Up the Garage

Last week we hired some painters to repair several areas of drywall damage and repaint our garage walls and ceiling. Even the doors and windows!  Cue the cheering!! If you're thinking what's the big deal about a garage, then let me tell you a little secret. When I walk by homes with neatly organized, clean garages, I experience what I'll frankly call ENVY. Bikes standing or hanging nicely, sporting equipment contained in appropriate containers, shoes stacked by the door, it all calls to me so temptingly. I'm drawn to it like a moth to a flame, imagining that if that area is clean and neat, the inside of the house must be awesome.

For this project we had to move everything into the middle of the garage and then start from scratch putting it all back. We got rid of anything that didn't serve a purpose. I think we had moved some things in ten years ago and never touched them again. Our paint collection had definitely gotten out of hand. Old shoes, electrical and plumbing supplies we were saving for a rainy day, a filing cabinet, extra dry wall and plywood, and more miscellaneous junk than I want to admit, finally moved out!

Here are some pictures taken right after the painters left...

Is it weird that I was excited to arrange things on this wall of shelves?

I even told my husband several times not to start without me. (No worries there!) A side note on the garbage can...If you're a mom without a "circular file" next to your vehicle, you're missing out. It really cuts down on the number of papers, "art" projects, little toys, etc. that would otherwise make their way into your house to drive you insane. It's even become a family joke over the years. My kids know if it makes it past that garbage can, ahem, circular file, it must be something pretty special!

Back to garage organization...You can really go wild buying things to organize the garage, but since we had a wall of built-in shelves and several free standing units, I thought we'd be fine. I did buy this 4 foot long folding table to sit just outside the door to the kitchen.

Both my boys play lacrosse so I can store their gear under it instead of right in the middle of the floor. Flat spaces are prime real estate in our house, so I'm sure this table top will be heavily used. Is it crazy that I'm looking forward to deciding just what I'd like to hang on these empty hooks? Tell me I'm not the only one who gets a little giddy at filling empty hooks and shelves. I'm thinking that pool bags and towels will be the first things that get hung up here as swim season is only a month away.

I'm not naive enough to think we'll always keep it this organized, but a girl can dream, can't she? And no matter what, it's a vast improvement over this obstacle course I documented in Missing the Messes!

So now that you know about my secret garage envy, it's time to spill your guts. Is there a space that you see in other people's homes that always brings out your little green monster?

An Encouragement Boost: The Liebster Award

A few weeks ago, I received a wonderful surprise in the comment section of my blog. Suzanne of Simply Suzanne's AT HOME nominated me for a Liebster Blog Award. She is such a sweet person and has been a huge encouragement to me as I start this fledgling blog. Thank you, Suzanne!

Liebster (meaning "dearest" in German) is a nomination based award given to up and coming bloggers. If you're new to blogging, you know it can feel overwhelming, and sometimes futile, to be a small fish in a big sea. The Liebster Award shows support and encouragement from fellow bloggers. It certainly gave me a boost and the fortitude to continue writing for at least one more day!

Accepting this fun award requires me to list 11 random facts about myself, answer 11 questions posed to me by Suzanne, and nominate other bloggers for this award. 

11 Random Facts About Me.

I have five kids. When I say this, most people widen their eyes and stifle a gasp!

I grew up in Western New York, home of snow half the year.

I have a master's degree in Speech Pathology.

I like to do oil paintings, especially of homes, and hope to put some of those on my blog in the future.

I LOVE to read. I get a feeling of calm and great pleasure whenever I walk into a library.

I must have chocolate on a daily basis in some form. Preferably after lunch and dinner!

I am irrationally happy when all the beds in the house are made. Especially if they have clean sheets!

I love mornings and breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. 

I own minimal holiday decorations.

I'm a Christian and my relationship with God is very important to me.

I've been blogging for six months, but only got the courage to tell anyone outside of my family eight weeks ago!

The Questions Suzanne Asked Me

1. Why did you start your blog?  I started my blog because I love to read blogs. I always thought it seemed like so much fun to have someplace to share your ideas and projects.

2.  What is your favorite movie? Gone With the Wind

3.  Where was your last, best vacation?  It's cliche, but our best family vacation was to Disney World a few years ago. It's the only time we've ever gone and I put it off forever thinking it couldn't possibly be worth all the expense, but it was great!

4.  What is the most delicious food you've ever eaten?  Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!

5.  What is your favorite quote and why? I couldn't think of a favorite quote, so I asked my kids what they thought my favorite quotes were. We laughed when they said I say these a lot...

You'll live.
You're fine.
I need some piece and quiet.
Is it 8:00 yet?

6.  If you could meet anyone dead or alive, who would it be? These kinds of questions are hard for me to answer. Again, I asked my kids and they said anyone that has overcome hardship.  That's true, I do like personal triumph stories!

7.  Do you collect anything? For the past few years, I've tried to buy a Christmas ornament on each vacation.

8. What is your favorite post you've written? I would have to say What Kind Of Mom Are You Today? I wrote that post because my kids sometimes accuse me of having favorites or not being fair. I think a lot of moms experience this and writing about the impossibility of making it all equal was really freeing. 

10. What is your favorite activity? Reading or creating something. These two are tied.

11. Cook or bake? Definitely bake.

My Nominees

These are all blogs that have touched me with their writing and I think you'll enjoy them, too!

The questions I have for them are:

Why did you start blogging?
Are you an early bird or night owl?
Who is your favorite author?
What is your guilty pleasure?
What is your all time favorite TV show?
Name three things on your bucket list.
What's your favorite way to relax?
Do you collect anything?
What's your favorite post on your blog and why?
Do you enjoy appetizers or dessert more?
What is your favorite season and why?

The Rules

Link back to the blogger that nominated you.
Post 11 random facts about yourself.
Answer the questions your nominator asked.
Create 11 new questions for up to 11 nominees who have less than 1000 followers.
Link your nominees to your post and tell them.

Help! I'm My Mother!!

This morning I had an out of body experience. I went to my usual exercise class and we had a sub. Okay, no problem. Always nice to mix it up a little. Well, the first song she played was Bob Segar's Old Time Rock and Roll, and all of a sudden I was my mother. She was in the mirror moving her arms and legs. I was her! I was her and we were back in the house I grew up in and she was dancing around the kitchen before dinner. Is that her upper arm? Those are definitely her elbows and feet. This is too weird. After that song mercifully ended, the instructor started in with all these songs from the '80's. Songs I used to listen to as a teenager, and I was my mother again. I'm the same age my mother was when I graduated from high school. I can remember how she looked and acted and things she said, and now I'm her. Not all the time, but enough so that it freaks me out. No disrespect to my mom (love you, Mom!), I just don't think anyone wants to FEEL like their mom. It's like a giant time clock ticking down the minutes of your life. It's fate laughing at you, saying you thought you were different, but you can't hide from heredity. You will be like your parents, just as they were like theirs.

And it's not just me. My siblings are becoming my parents, too. I talked to one of my brothers on the phone the other night and he was my dad. Same voice, same inflection, expressing the same frustrations with computers and social media. When my other brother walked up my driveway, I did a double-take. He looks like my dad did 25 years ago. How did that happen? Sometimes when I catch a glimpse of my sister, I can see my mother when I was a kid. If I see her profile, I'm transported back in time. So weird. Don't even get me started on voices. When my siblings and I are together, I think of how my aunts, uncles, and parents used to be with their laughter, veiled adult references and topics that were so fascinating for me to listen in on as a child. I feel like my grandmother will emerge offering drinks and pretzels any minute.

I laugh at the irony. My teenagers, I'm sure, would be mortified to think they'll someday be like mom and dad. They've declared many times they will NEVER act like us, talk like us, be embarrassing like us. And yet they will. It will creep in slowly and they won't be able to stop it. They won't even mind some of it. They'll laugh about it with their own kids. 

Declaring you won't be like your parents doesn't end. I still think to myself, I will never do that. I'll never say that, I'll never let that bother me, but who knows. I couldn't stop becoming like my mom at this age, so I doubt I'll be able to keep it from happening over the next 20 years. I'll try to hold it at bay and I'll be successful in some areas, but she will still show up in the mirror. I'll still hear her voice in mine. Sometimes it creates a warm feeling of nostalgia and sometimes it helps me to better understand who she was. But mostly, it freaks me out!

I was SO relieved when the instructor finally played Katy Perry's Roar at the end of class. Okay, I'm back. That's me in the mirror again. I'm not completely my mother...yet!

Me, my mom, and my sister

Tell me I'm not alone. Are you seeing your mom emerge in you, too? Are you doing and saying things you swore you'd never do? Is that her staring back at you in the mirror?

Two Simple Easter Centerpieces

I'm not one to do a lot of seasonal or holiday decorating. However, the projects I'm going to show you today meet all my criteria: easy, inexpensive, and don't require much storage. I've seen several types of these on Pinterest, but there wasn't one particular tutorial that I followed. In addition to items I already had on hand, I picked up these Dollar Tree supplies. Three packages of fake grass/moss and three packages of sidewalk chalk in the shape of Easter eggs. I was going to dye Easter eggs, but these chalk eggs came in such pretty pastels and they look authentic.

Project number one...

I have this terrarium-like container on my dining room table throughout the year. Most of the time, it holds candles, but at Christmas I fill it with colorful ornaments. After I spread the grass/moss mixture around the bottom, I placed a few of the chalk eggs and some smaller jelly beans around the area. Two brown ceramic bunnies are in the middle of the Easter egg hunt. If you don't have any ceramic rabbits, I've seen chocolate bunnies used instead. 

Here it is from the side..

The second project is similar except I used a glass jar that sits on my kitchen table. When making this, I used the same method as above, but I used only one bunny and one chalk egg, along with the jelly beans.

I like how proud he looks in the jar. After Easter, I'm going to continue to use the moss, but replace the bunny and eggs with a bird my grandfather carved. I love it when I can get multiple uses out of the same things! 

Are you a holiday decorator that goes all out or do you tend to do the minimum like me? Anyone boycott seasonal decorations altogether? 

Four Things That Don't Happen When Dad's Home

My husband travels A LOT for work. It seems like if something out of the ordinary is going to happen, it will be when I'm holding down the fort. So I started a list of things that never happen when Dad's home.

1. Kids getting sick. Last month, one of the twins woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me she felt sick and was going to throw up. As you can imagine, this was not happy news. One sick kid, and an hour later, I was mostly back to sleep. The next morning, I saw I had missed this SOS text after midnight.

Maybe she's seen a little too much texting in our house?

2. Hard homework. Now this may not be completely true, but it's pretty close. The most difficult homework usually comes when we have three different places we have to be, no time to eat dinner, and I had planned on the earliest possible bedtime. That's when I'll hear Mom, I have to build a ship out of a milk carton by tomorrow morning. Or, can you help me do math that you haven't thought of in 20 years and after you relearn it, I'll tell you my teacher said we can't do it that way and burst into tears! I just can't get on the homework train anymore. I'm losing brain cells daily. My fifth grader asked if there are seven continents and I couldn't decide. I mean, they did change the number of planets since I was in school. Did they reclassify any continents?

3. Snow days...need I say more? No matter when it happens, Dad will be headed to California, while I wait to see if school will be in session.

In Tennessee, it only takes a dusting to cancel everything and get us out on our sleds. These old pictures make me laugh with the mishmash of snow gear and inadequate footwear. It's a wonder the sleds even moved with so little snow!

4. Car accidents. I have a 16 year old son who recently got his license. Since then, I've been holding my breath for the first few seconds of every phone call waiting for him to say something went wrong. Two weeks ago, I got that call. Mom? I have some bad news. I kind of got in a little fender bender after practice. Thankfully, everyone was fine. But, my husband had just left for five days. So I spent a lot of time learning about insurance and police reports. Hopefully, I don't have to use my new-found knowledge ever again!

Do you have a husband that travels? Does it seem like the flat tires, broken air conditioning systems, and ER visits all take place when he's gone? The silver lining is that I appreciate him all the more when he's home!

Remembering the Ordinary

What did you do this weekend? I'm at the point where that question cannot be answered in just a phrase. There isn't one event to describe or a couple specific things we did. It seems like all our weekends are a blur of activity, but I can't pinpoint what filled them. Are you at that stage, too? Sometimes it's good to record the ordinary. Aren't they the times that seem sweetest in our mind? Here are three ordinary, but someday they'll seem extraordinary, weekend happenings from my normal everyday life.

Friday night was date night. Our church offers Parent's Night Out a couple nights a year so the youth can raise money for events. It's only $20 a family for a few hours of babysitting with pizza and inflatables included! Of course, I did not want to miss out on this awesome opportunity and we planned to go out. Unfortunately, my husband's flight was delayed and he got back after the kids had been dropped off. We ended up with an evening at home eating tuna fish sandwiches, taking a walk, and watching TV. Is it bad if I say I didn't care and I was just as happy to stay home as go out? Is that old and boring, or your secret fantasy, too?

Spring blooms make every walk beautiful!

After our rip-roaring Friday night, we were up early on Saturday for the kids' sports rotation. I love that my kids are busy, but I wonder if a lazy Saturday at home will be in our cards before the year 2022? Our girls started volleyball this season and we went to watch. I'm not sure if we'll see many volleys this year, but many of the girls were successful in serving which generated huge cheers from the crowd.


On Sunday, I took my oldest for her senior pictures. The photographer treated us like royalty and was so complimentary of my daughter that I'm surprised we could fit our heads back in the van! Seriously though, it was fun and refreshing to view her through the eyes and camera of someone else. It's weird, but I can't look at my own children and only see who they are today. It's hard to view them in the moment as I would a friend or an acquaintance. In my mind's eye, I saw snapshots of my daughter from birth to the present, all as I looked at her fully grown standing before me posing and laughing for senior pictures. Wow, where did the time go and can I make it stand still while my heart catches up?!?

Spring break 2014

Your turn. Are you filing away memories of everyday happenings? What ordinary things will you later remember as extraordinary in your life?

Picture Ledges

Today I want to share some picture ledges my husband and I made using Carissa's tutorial on the Brown Eyed Fox. When I saw her ledges, I knew they would be perfect for this wall as you enter our kitchen from the garage.

Because this is a small space, we chose to make our ledges a little more narrow than Carissa's. To make each of these, we used 1x3's for the back and bottom of each ledge and 1x2's for the front. The shelves are made from red oak and are about 5 feet long. I painted each board white before we built them and then put a final coat on each ledge after it was on the wall. Here is a good look at the shelves from the side. We nailed our ledges together and then screwed the finished product directly into the studs in the wall.

Attaching them directly to the studs doesn't leave room for error, but it makes them very sturdy. Fortunately, my husband was in charge of the measuring and they came out level on the first try!

What do you think? I love the way you can layer the frames and change the pictures around at any time without making any new nail holes!