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.



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!!!!!!)

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!!!!!!

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!!!!!

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!