"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge it's rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." Proverbs 24:3-4

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Babies, Toddlers, and Grocery Shopping

Hello, friends!

You know, every once in a while I receive feedback from my readers.

Some of you have been kind to point out grammatical errors or misspelled words, which I appreciate, because I can easily go into 'edit' and make adjustments.

Some of you have been kind to tell me about projects or decorating you have done in your home because of something you've seen on this blog that sparked an idea.

And some of you have been kind to offer suggestions on topics you'd like for me to write about...

That is the reason I have sat down today to compose this post!



A reader (and dear friend) reached out to me and asked, "How do you grocery shop with little kids?! Can you write a blog post about that?"

Well, in thinking about her request, I realized that my season of grocery shopping difficulty is behind me, now that my kids are older and can tag along no problem. But, there was a stretch of time several years ago, when I had babies and toddlers, that grocery shopping was almost impossible!

I would lug in a heavy baby-filled carseat on one hip, and a less than cooperative toddler on the other hip... Plop the carseat in the back of a shopping cart, and buckle the toddler into the front of the cart... Shove my huge mom bag down below and then wonder... "Where am I going to put any groceries?!" 

Now, before any of you blast me in the comments about grocery stores having home delivery services, please know that that wasn't a thing six years ago when I was dealing with this. The city we're closest to only just recently built a grocery store with that feature, and besides, we're out of their delivery limits.

SO... What was I to do?

My husband felt sorry for me during those years and would offer to stop by the store on his way home from work. But I didn't prefer that because as any exhausted young mother knows, we want dad home as soon as possible!!! Him stopping for groceries after work meant prolonging the reinforcements! Haha...

My solution during those years was this:

One night a week I would leave for the store, alone, after the kids had been tucked into bed.

It was perfect!

Dinner was done, the kitchen was clean, Micah was home, and the kids were none the wiser... I could zip over to the store and be back home in half the time as it would have taken had I gone during the day with them.

Plus! It gave me a much needed break!

Other than maybe lucking out with a magical nap hour where everyone was asleep at once, there was no other time during the week that I could be alone.

It was a peaceful thing for me to shop in the evening, by myself, and while the store was quieting down for the night.

I grocery shopped this way for several years.

I would go every Monday night, and get a weeks' worth of food and supplies.


(The photos in this post are of my home, and really have nothing to do with grocery shopping, but just meant to break things up and add interest. :)

I saw some sad scenes during those years that validated my decision to leave my babies home...

I remember one very cold, winter night, walking into the store behind a young mother who had a baby in her arms, and the baby was barefoot!!! Completely barefoot! How sad it was for me to see those little baby toes dangling in the frigid air! I thought about my babies and how blessed they were to be home in their warm beds.

On another occasion I witnessed a very young toddler having a meltdown in the checkout lane behind me. I could tell by the tone of the cry that the child was overly tired. The child's parents had lost their patience, and were screaming at her to stop. I wanted to say, "She's not being sassy, she is exhausted! She should've been tucked into bed hours ago!" But of course, because of social etiquette, I said no such thing, only looked over at the angry father and smiled sympathetically. Because it had appeared that both parents were with the child, I couldn't help but think, "Why didn't one of them stay home with the baby, and the other run to the store? It's 9:30 at night!!!" But I'm sure they had their reasons. (And who am I and what do I know?! *eyeroll) 

A year or so ago I realized that I no longer had babies in car seats, and wondered if grocery shopping with the kids again should be something to consider.

There are many life skills that can be learned at the grocery store! And homeschool mama's are able to look at all areas of life and find teaching opportunities! Haha...

So, my current system is to shop every Monday afternoon with all the kids.

Recently, one of my children learned how to round up to the nearest dollar, so an afternoon grocery shopping is a good time to review that skill. I will point out an item labeled $1.98, for example, and ask, "So, what is $1.98 rounded up?" and do that with several grocery items, letting them answer.

It's also a good opportunity to teach things like, checking bread and produce for the latest date, because that will be the freshest option, and, "What's the better value? Just because this can of beans is 20 cents cheaper than this one, doesn't mean it's a better deal." And I would point to oz. per can to show them why.

There was one shopping trip where we spent the whole time looking for compound words on labels and signs...

Yes, a lot can be learned at the grocery store!


Granted, it takes us a couple of hours to get through the store, haha... but it has provided real-life experience for my kids!

I don't really deal with too many behavioral issues from them anymore, but a couple of years ago I began laying out expectations in the car before entering the store with them.

This was very helpful and I would recommend it!

I would simply let everyone know what I expected of them while shopping.

It would sound something like this... "There is to be no running off. I need everyone to stay close to the cart! You may make suggestions on what (chips, cereal, gum) you like, but I reserve all rights to making the final purchasing decision! No one is to pull anything off of any shelves, only touch the items I ask you to help with! I expect full obedience and cooperation with happy hearts!!!" 

I have given them my pre-shopping speech so many times now, that at this point when we're unloading the car to go into a store, I just have to say, "OK, everyone! You know the drill!" And the children know what I mean! Haha...

I know I have taught this on my blog before, but I think it's worth repeating, and that is that children will rise to whatever standard is set for them. If you give them a high standard, they will meet that. However, if you give them a low standard, that is likely all they'll do.

I have tried to remember this while shopping with my kids.

There's no reason why they can't cooperate and keep up without causing any problems if that's what they're expected to do.

:)

Well, friends, what about you?!

What would you add to all this?

I'd love to hear your thoughts and tips!

Thanks for reading today!

Until next time...


xo,

~ Courtney ~






Saturday, October 28, 2017

Some Changes in the Family Room

~ Yay!!! ~
I am blogging again!

I can't believe I've been away for this long!

I always miss you when I take my little blogging breaks.

You all have become my dear friends!

:) :) :)

I've been busy feathering my nest for fall and working on giving my family room a small facelift...


I have not shown a whole lot of our family room on this blog.

There is a reason for that.

It's ugly!!!

Haha...

It has always been my least favorite room in our house!

Over the years the kids have sort of taken it over as their hang-out, and it's always been cluttered with junk.

I let the room go and just focused on other areas of the house instead. But as time went on I developed a deep hatred for this room! I hardly ever went in there! It was just a place for Micah to watch TV, and for the kids to trash with their toys.

(Before...)

See what I mean?

I never did anything about it because I think my attitude about the room had become, If I can't have it exactly how I want it, I'm not doing anything about it at all!

So, I was holding out... 

I was waiting for the right financial situation, and the right moment in time for Micah and I to gut the room and start completely over.

(My dream is to have a family room that looks like this...
PERFECT! Isn't it?!)


So, that was my plan. I was waiting... and dreaming... and ignoring the reality of the room.


It was a good plan, except for one teeny tiny thing...

Somehow 8 years flew by and we were still living with this family room! 

We still had the gold paint on the walls from the previous owners, and Micah's furniture from when he was a bachelor! To make matters worse, Elsa recently had taken a black Sharpie marker and scribbled all over the couch!

Ugh!!!

A few weeks ago some friends popped in for an impromptu visit after supper. 

I was chatting with my girlfriend as we walked past the family room, and I noticed when I glanced over that her husband had sat down on our 30-year old, Sharpie-covered couch to chat with Micah, and I felt embarrassed!!!

That was it.

The final straw.

Why are we living like this?! I wondered...

Well... We currently are in NO position to rip up carpet, tear out the fireplace, and start completely over... But, why can't I do something?!

Why can't I take a few baby steps in the right direction to make me feel better about this room?!

And that's how the project began.

I asked myself, What can I do in here quickly and inexpensively? 

SO... A couple of weekends ago Nola and I painted...


It sure felt GREAT to see that gold disappear!

Good-bye glaring, obnoxious gold! You will not be missed...


 I also found a used (and extremely inexpensive) couch on FB Marketplace...

Nothing glamorous, and a far cry from what I would someday want, BUT, a huge improvement from what we had! So, I am thankful!


Finally, after a toy and broken furniture purge, and just a little TLC, the family room looks like this...


I hung these bird prints...



And just today I made and hung these simple, muslin curtains...


This is mainly where the kids play, so my goal was not to make the room fancy, just comfortable and freshened up!


I feel better already!!!

(before/during...)

And after!...




SO, my question to you, dear reader, is this... 

Do you have an area of your home that you hate? A room that you've yet to tackle because like me, you are holding out for just the right time and budget to make it perfect? Only... that time and budget never arrives?

(Or am I the only one who has done this?)

Maybe the thought of getting to work on it feels overwhelming! And you don't know where to start!

Just take the first baby step.

You'll find that taking that step will motivate you to take another, and then another will naturally come after that!

This family room project has taught me that even small, easy changes can make a difference! It doesn't always have to be all or nothing! Someday I'll get my magazine-inspired family room, but for now I am doing what I can to make it nice and deciding to be thankful!


I'm thinking of it as more 'in the meantime' changes, until I can get what I really want! 

So, don't be surprised if you see us tearing into this room again in the future!

Haha...

Friends... by taking the first baby step, (and deciding to be thankful!) what project will YOU get started on?

I'd love to hear about it in the comments!


xo,

~ Courtney ~























Saturday, October 7, 2017

Three Out Of Four!

My little Soren got saved just the other day...

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in truth."
~ 3 John 1:4


He is now the third child, out of my four, who has come to me wanting to accept Christ.

(My Roman accepted Christ at age five, same as Soren; and Nola this past summer at age six.)

I have diligently been teaching them about the Lord their entire little lives, but in all three salvation moments, it has been the child who has come to me with questions and tender hearts. 

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." 
~ Deuteronomy 6:5-7


When I was in my pregnant and child-bearing years, I used to plead with the Lord not to give me any children that wouldn't grow up to love and serve Him.

Then when my children were babies, I would pray over their heads when they'd sleep that the Lord would grant them repentance at an early age.

Well, now it is happening!

I have led all three older ones to the Lord and have witnessed their salvation.


In all three cases my children have come to me alone asking for help with how to get saved. I would explain that I could help them, but I couldn't do it for them. This was between them and the Lord. I would then make sure that they understood what Jesus did for them on the cross (Philippians 2:8), and that He is the only way to Heaven (John 14:6), but after that the very next thing I would do is ask them about their sin. A child who is being raised in Sunday School will most likely know about sin and know that they have it, but it's crucial they know that they must repent of their sins! It's not enough to just believe in God.

"From that time on Jesus began to preach, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!'"
~ Matthew 4:17

"Unless you repent, you too will all perish."
~ Luke 13:3

"If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me."
~ Jeremiah 15:19a

There's a reason why this is so near and dear to my heart. I may even go a tad overboard in driving this point home, and it's because of my own personal testimony...

I got "saved" as a small child, too. I was raised in church and grew up around Christians. But for some reason I never repented.

I knew all the right things, did all the right things, and could answer all the questions correctly. I was a good person and believed in Jesus. I thought I was a Christian, but I really wasn't.

It wasn't until I became an adult that the Lord tracked me down, broke my heart, and I finally repented. It was then that I was truly saved.

My husband, Micah, has a similar testimony. So, you can understand then, that when my children come to me asking how they can get saved, I am hesitant.



Every time my initial reaction has been to say to them, "No, you are too young." Because I fear they don't really get it... I fear they'll be a false convert... I fear if I lead them in the sinner's prayer, they'll grow up believing they're saved when they're really not. But I have caught myself all three times. I realize that just because that was MY story, doesn't mean it has to be theirs!

All three times I've heard the Lord whisper to my heart, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
~ Matthew 19:14

So, all three times I have stopped what I was doing, and led them to the Lord... Praying the whole time that God would come into the moment, fill us with His presence, give me wisdom, move and work in my child, and grant them true repentance! 

"... In the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth."
~ 2 Timothy 2:25b


Once the moment ended I would wonder if it was really legit. I'd move on with my day knowing I really couldn't do anything about it except to pray for them and remind myself that God wants my children to come to know Him far more than I do!

"That we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth."
~ 1 Timothy 2:2-4

I also find great comfort in reminding myself that even if they grow up with a false assurance of salvation, as I did, that I can trust God to pursue them when they're older, as He did for me and Micah. 

"Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
~ Philippians 1:6


Really, all I care about in this world is that I can spend eternity with all four of my children in Heaven.

I have told them before that I expect to see all of them there! Haha...

I've said, "I know I'm going to be there! Make sure you'll be, too! I want us to all be together!"


"He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."
~ 1 John 5:12-13 

So, for now while they're young and at home with me, I consider this my job. My calling. I didn't choose it. God gave it to me.

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go bear fruit- fruit that will last."
~ John 15:16

My children are my fruit, and so far God has yielded from me
 three out of four.

:)

xo,

~ Courtney ~


Monday, October 2, 2017

A Weekend Project

Hello friends!

How was your weekend and how is your Monday going?

I truly hope you all are doing well!

 I always consider it a good weekend if we can manage to tackle a home project from our long, ongoing to-do list.

To live in an old home means constant projects!

I don't know if we'll ever feel as though this house is done!

But we did complete a small project this weekend that I've been longing to do for a couple of years now.

I'd like to show you!

It's a project in my bedroom...


To the left of this scene is a door that leads out to a small balcony.

As long as we've lived here, it's looked like this...


We initially wondered if we should replace the door altogether. But, because it's a nice solid wood door with antique brass hinges, we wanted to figure out a way to keep it. 

It's been important to us throughout our renovations to keep whatever is original intact!

We know from the windows that this door isn't original to the house, but nevertheless- if we can avoid putting anything new and modern into this old farmhouse, we certainly aim for that!


So... the idea was born to look for a beautiful window to go in the place of these ugly, 70's windows.... And if we could find one, it would mean we could keep the door!

Well, an afternoon in our friends' antique shop was all that was needed to stumble upon this leaded glass window...

The measurements would be perfect for the door, so we snatched it up and brought it home!

(This picture was taken after it had spent some time with my grandma. Some repair work needed to be done on it, and she used to make stained glass windows as a hobby, so she was able to fix it for us!)

After a good cleaning, and a trip to a glass company to have it incased, Micah was ready to begin the process...


He never took the door off its hinges for this project. He kept it in place and just cut out a square like this...


Micah likes to be left alone while working on projects, haha... So, I do my best to back off and let him work.


I still try to snap some pictures, though...


Here, he is making sure that his cuts were accurate, and that the new window will fit...

(I think I'm going to love it!)

Micah made and painted some moulding to go around the window, and even touched up the paint on the door. 

Everything was left to dry overnight.

On Saturday morning my room looked like this...


The hard work is done! What's left to do now is the fun, easy part!

AND with an admiring audience! Haha...


But it's hard to stay focused on the task at hand when little daughters need snuggling...


He managed to complete the project, though! And I'm in love...

Would you like to see the 'After'?

This is the door today!...


Good things come to those who wait!

I never thought it'd take several years to get around to this door, but that seems to be the pace at which we complete projects these days.

*sigh*


This is a more backed-up view...

(I love my bedroom!)


Before...


And finally, After...


It is important, when renovating an old house, to use as many authentic elements as you possibly can!


It breaks my heart when I see people buy an old home but then they re-do it in a modern way!

I can appreciate modern decor, but I believe it would be best for newer homes.

Our goal for our farmhouse has always been to find the balance between respecting the home's original elements and history, but freshening it up so it appears bright and updated.

It's been a balance I have struggled to find over the years, and have often wondered if I've hit the mark. But, I have remained unwavering in my belief that it is what's best and right for very old homes.


(I spy a kiddo running around in the yard!...)


 I loved my bedroom before, but I love it so much more now!

A tiny change can make such an impact!...


Take care sweet friends!


xo,

~ Courtney ~








Saturday, September 23, 2017

Kitchen Talk

Have I ever showed you my pantry's screen door?

Oh, friends! This is one of my most favorite projects we've ever done!

Come on in and take a look!...


We've lived here now for eight years, and our kitchen was the very first room we renovated upon moving in.

(before)

I really wanted it to have a down-home, farmhouse feel.

We had uncovered a stack of various old doors in our previous homes' attic, and it gave Micah and I an idea for our new farmhouse kitchen...

(Because what farmhouse kitchen would be complete without an old screen door?!!)

We selected our favorite one, and made sure it would fit...


Then spray-painted it white...


And... Ta-da!!!


After eight years, I am still very much in love with it! And it's probably the most commented on area of our home by visitors!

I turned the light on for the picture, but unless I'm in there looking for something, I usually keep the light off. So, it looks like this...


I spend a lot of time in my kitchen. I'm sure you do, too! It's like a headquarters for the homemaker, isn't it, friends? Haha...

You know, before I was married I lived alone in a tiny apartment, and I worked full-time at a salon. 

I didn't care about food or cooking.

I would spend about $30 a week on groceries and just buy a box of crackers, jar of peanut butter, a can or two of tuna, and a little milk.

I would work 10-hour shifts at the salon with just a sleeve of crackers in my purse to munch on in-between clients.

One day I was giving a middle-aged woman a pedicure, and she looked down at me and said, "Dear, you are extremely thin. Are you well?"

Puzzled, I looked back at her and replied, "Um... I think so... Why?"

She said, "You do not look well."

I did not know I was thin. I didn't look thin to myself in the mirror! But I remembered what that lady said to me and began buying protein shakes with my groceries. I still didn't attempt to cook or feed myself! Haha... I just sipped on a shake every day for extra calories! 

Why am I telling you all of this?...

Because I wish I hadn't wasted those years. I wish I had practiced cooking and baking in my tiny apartment kitchen! Just think of the cook I could be for my family NOW! To this day I am just a mediocre cook. I had several years before I was married where I didn't have any distractions (like babies and toddlers) and I could have gotten good at it!

Instead, I waited until I had to learn and by then I was battling nausea due to pregnancies, sleep deprivation due to newborn babies, and the hardest of all... toddlers underfoot in the kitchen!

So... I suppose my purpose in writing this is to encourage any young, single girls who may be reading...

Don't waste your youth!

Learn how to budget wisely, how to clean and do laundry well, and how to cook. Then when you get married, you won't feel lost like I did! Haha! AND, you can start being a blessing to your family right off the bat! 

(I don't want to even admit to all the times I fed poor Micah rubbery steak or crunchy noodles during those early years!)

So, my kitchen may have come a long way over the years due to renovations... But I have equally come a long way, too!

Even a mediocre cook who's trying, is far better than not cooking at all!!! Because you'll learn and get better!

Let me share one example...

Over the years I have learned a little trick for mashed potatoes. Would you like to make your potatoes really creamy and delicious?

I'll show you what I do...


Plop a little butter, cream cheese, and shredded parmesan cheese into a large bowl...


Of course the amount will depend on how many potatoes you are using. For my family I usually use three to four.

(My lovely potato-stirring assistant...)

Once they're drained, I pour the hot potatoes over the butter and cheeses to be blended all together...


You'll notice that the water's on. I like to have cold water running whenever I drain hot noodles or potatoes. This is because years ago I was watching Martha Stewart, and she walked over to her sink with a boiling pot of something in one hand, and flipped the water on with the other hand and said, "Remember! Be kind to your sink!"

I've never forgotten that!

I have a beautiful, bright white granite sink that I never take for granted, so... YES! I want to be kind to my sink!

A little salt and pepper are added in at the end... and these are very yummy potatoes to go with our dinner!

(The rule in our house is whoever helps gets to lick the beater!)

Let me know if you try this! Or maybe YOU have a few tips or comments to share...? I would love to hear from you!

Thanks for joining me in my kitchen today!

I loved having you! *wink*

Come over again soon!!!

xo,

~ Courtney ~