2 Years a SAHM

Back in December I realized I had spent two full years home with my kids livin’ the dream as a stay at home mom. Now I could go on  and on about the wonderful, life fulfilling qualities that happen if you get the chance to stay at home with your kids, and how hard it is, but let’s be honest here- staying home is pretty freakin’ awesome. Yes some days s-u-c-k but most often I’d rather opt for a cornea scratch than have to go back work right now. (And I really liked my last job!) So instead of giving you a list of intangible, fluffy reasons to stay home with your kids I’d like to share with you some not-so-serious ‘pros’ to join the ranks of  the yoga pant-clad women known as SAHM’s.

1. Kathie Lee and Hoda. I mean seriously SAHM moms have an excuse to get sucked into their shenanigans. It just comes on after the other morning news shows I didn’t just turn to it…or did I?

2. Two words: bras optional. No seriously, if I know I’m not leaving the house you know I’m not wearing one. *Disclaimer: Remember to wear one on the days the Schwann man shows up…cuz that’s real awkward.

3. Pajamas all day! Do you need further explanation?

4. You become a crafting, sewing, cooking, baking, etc connoisseur. Those long winter days inside force you to pick up some hobbies because day time TV is horrendous.

5. This. IMG_1929

6. You honestly can be as lazy as you want when it comes to house work. (Knowing full well that the next day means double time. Double dishes, double laundry, double cleaning etc etc.) You just have to face your husband when he asks what you did today. “Umm…er, well, the kids are alive right?”

7. The ability to wear yoga pants without ever having to do the yoga part. (I also like to call them “dressy sweatpants.”)

8. Bon bons. Yes I get to lay around eating them on days I don’t feel like being productive. Just kidding…what the heck is  a bon bon? Googling it right now…

But seriously, staying at home fits our family right now. Five years from now? Who knows? I’ve worked while raising my kids so I never do the stay at home vs. working mom debate with friends. Once you do that, there’s no winners, no friendship and hurt feelings. I admire all women who choose the lifestyle that fits their family’s needs, not society’s needs. Each mom, husband and child is so unique that a cookie-cutter blanket statement about working in or outside of the home is ignorant and often offensive.

So mommas, support each other! Because we all know that it doesn’t matter if you work in an office or your office is your kitchen…yoga pants are comfy! (Oh come on I know you own at least one pair!)

yoga

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Our Easy Kid (and Mom) Friendly Advent Calendar

Easy Advent CalendarWith all the Christmas and Advent activities swirling around the internet and in our heads, it’s almost impossible to try to get anything accomplished. One activity that I felt is important to incorporate into our Christmas prep is an Advent calendar. I have never done one with my kids and I don’t remember doing one when I was little (we did a Jesse tree and had an Advent wreath). But because my kids are little, I thought about ways of doing fun Christmas “stuff” that also related back to the true meaning of Christmas.

So I developed a “calendar” of sorts that consists of a little bag filled with a treat, an activity and a bible verse. Here’s how I did it all:

Advent_Calendar3

1. I bought treat bags from the party section at Dollar Tree. They can be found here.

2. I printed these fun numbers and taped them on each bag.

3. I filled the bags with dollar store trinkets. Here’s a sampling of what I included: chocolates, crayons, chapsticks, nail polish, band aids, balloons, misc candy, matchbox cars, stickers, Bible story books, lotion, learning games, etc.

4. On the odd days I included an activity to do with the kids. This is where the mom-friendly part comes in. I knew I would feel like a failure if we had to complete some Pinterest-worthy craft or activity everyday and didn’t complete them. So I decided that every other day we would have a new activity. That way if we couldn’t complete it the day it was opened, we have the next day to do it too. It was important to do realistic, family oriented activities. So I came up with 12 fairly easy activities. Here’s the list I came up with:

Make Christmas Cookies

Make an ornament for the tree

Watch a Christmas movie

Donate used toys

Donate to the Salvation Army Red Kettles

Say a prayer for kids around the world

Make snowflakes out of paper

Write a letter to Santa

Color a picture for Grandma

Sing Christmas songs

Make hot chocolate

Make a Christmas craft

5. The last part I incorporated (and the most important) was a Bible verse each day that completed the Nativity story. I got the verse ideas here. Once the bags are opened and the excitement over the treat is over, we sit and I read the actual verse from the Bible and explain it in terms that are understandable for a two and four year old.

Easy Advent Calendar1 Advent_Calendar2

We’ve done the first three days without any trouble (well the fact that they have to take turns each day opening the bag was a hard concept the first day) I’m optimistic about the rest of the month. On Christmas day I will have a nativity story book and The Jesus Story Book Bible for them to open and I will ready the full Nativity story.

So all in all a nice way to spend some time together as a family, as well as spending some time dedicated to incorporating Christ into our Christmas season. Have you done an Advent calendar with your family? How do you incorporate Jesus into your Christmas routine?

The Tree of Love

Disclaimer: Sorry I haven’t blogged in a while, I’ve been wrestling with whether I share too much or glorify myself too much in my entries. In my life, the goal is to glorify Him and not me. God, my family then me. I am third. But I know I will want to reflect back on these journal-like entries when my kids are grown as a virtual scrap book of my time at home with them. ~Shawna

Photo by Kimberly Jean Photography www.kimberlyjeanphoto.com

Photo by Kimberly Jean Photography http://www.kimberlyjeanphoto.com

I remember vividly the summer of 2010, an August day, sitting by my parents pool in a pink polka dot bikini. It was the day that made me know the strength and depth of love.

I had come home early from work to pick up my only daughter at the time, from my mom who was babysitting her. She was still napping in the house so I sat out on the pool deck with my mom. It was there that I broke down sobbing telling my mom I was indeed pregnant again. Let’s preface this with my daughter was only 15 months old and I had just started an intensive 18 month master’s degree program two months prior. I was in no shape to bring another child into our home. I had other priorities and I was not happy. I even said “How can I love another child? I haven’t even loved our daughter enough, I haven’t spent enough time with her. She doesn’t deserve this.”

In comes of the words of my wise mother, “Your love is not a pie that has a finite amount of pieces. The pieces don’t get smaller the more you spread your love. Your love for your family is a tree. Each child you bring into this world grows another branch. Your love keeps growing and branching out throughout your life.”

BAM. That hit me hard. (Like the could’ve had a V8 commercials.) How could I have been so selfish in my thinking that I didn’t have the capacity to love another child? I have kept her words close to me as I have been raising our little girls over the these few short years.

And I keep those words especially close as my husband and I prepare to welcome our third child into this world this spring. This third child has been a very conscious decision, a planned and prayed about child. Maybe we’re wiser or more experienced this time around, maybe I know my tree of love is branching as I type this, but this pregnancy has been so close to my heart. We are excited for this child as if it was our first. (Maybe because we long to snuggle a tiny bundle that doesn’t talk back to us and doesn’t have a tantrum over not being allowed to have a piece of gum.) Maybe because we know how awesome the baby stage is and how awesome it is to watch them grow into busy toddlers and curious preschoolers.

Or maybe it’s because when this next child arrives, our girls will be older and their excitement over this child builds each day. Our first daughter was only 22 months old when our second daughter arrived and she had no clue what was going on. This time, my girls are just adding to my own baby excitement. They touch my growing bump and talk about “mommy’s baby” all the time. My four year old even warns me while opening tight jar lids and climbing my attic stairs to “Be careful mom! There’s a baby in your belly!” Precious.

And so my tree is branching and my love is growing. I look forward to the chaos that will be brought about when baby arrives  in the spring, along with an overflow of love and special family memories. Most importantly, I look forward to growing roots of love in each of my children’s hearts.

Tree of love2

My “Mini” Kitchen Renovation

Kitchen_Renovation

Over this past summer I finally took the plunge and painted my kitchen cabinets and updated my kitchen. I’d like to consider this a “mini-renovation” since I didn’t replace any cabinets, counters or flooring, but let’s be very clear about something- the work involved was not “mini.” Not. Even. Close. It was quite a process to paint my kitchen cabinets but totally worth it. (And I did all the work myself!)

Our kitchen was already renovated when we moved in back in 2009. It had oak cabinets and it was a very nice kitchen- it just wasn’t my style. I also think it didn’t match the rest of the theme/decor in our home. We have lots of white crown molding, pillars, wide base boards and wainscoting throughout our home and the oak kitchen just didn’t fit the house. So when I brought up renovating the kitchen, my husband looked at me like I had three heads. No joke. He wasn’t buying into my “need” for a new kitchen. In comes my creative side and I said “how about I paint the cabinets and do some small updates?” He agreed on the condition he wasn’t involved in any of the painting. Boom! Painting commenced!

Kitchen before. Don't mind the extreme mess and I had started taking the doors off when I remembered to snap a few before pics.

Kitchen before. Don’t mind the extreme mess and I had started taking the doors off when I remembered to snap a few before pics.

Fridge surround before

Fridge surround before

The kitchen island before

The kitchen island before

So I funded this project by having a garage sale- I made $200 which covered the paint and supplies as well as some curtains. I started blowing the budget when I wanted new stools and accessories. However, I was frugal with $30 stools on Amazon, dollar store towels and bins and some quick thinking with spray paint.

How did I do it? First, I removed the door fronts (and hardware) and numbered them all with painters tape, I then used liquid sand paper to take off any shine on the cabinets. I used my garage to layout all the fronts to primed, sanded and painted. I primed everything with two coats of Sherwin Williams Pro-Block Primer. I used a brush and a mini roller. The paint I used was Sherwin Williams ProClassic Waterbased Acrylic-Alkyd Enamel. It cleans up like a latex and wears like an enamel. Best of both worlds! (However its over $50 a can, and worth every penny. Don’t bother painting your cabinets if you’re not willing to pay for good paint.) I used three coats of the paint to complete the project.

After getting all the cabinets hung back up, I decided I wanted to change the brushed nickel hardware to oil rubbed bronze. But when I looked at the price of changing them all out, I got smart and bought a can of Rust-Oleum Metallic Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint. I sprayed all the door knobs and then I got creative- I sprayed the finials and hardware on the curtain rods, the cookie jar lid, paper towel holder and my new canister jar lids. Everything got two coats of spray paint. And the hardware is holding up great so far! Oh and the curtains I got from Lowes.  Here’s a little photo tour of the whole project:

All in all this is NOT a weekend project, it takes weeks folks, weeks! Many days of painting and drying and sanding. If you can stick it out then this project is for you. The results are fantastic!