judah’s room and chores for kids.

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We moved into our new master bedroom on our 13th anniversary, May 22. Shortly after, Judah and Amelie finally got their own bedrooms.

I thought I’d show you around Judah’s room today, and tell you about our chore system.

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Judah’s one request for having his own room was to have “a library.” So we promised him one of our tall pine bookcases from the living room for his growing book collection.

You may remember back in May 2016, we gave Judah and Amie a bedroom makeover. It was a fun project, and as you can see, little changed in the room for Judah once his sister moved out.

Even though they were nine and seven, and truly needing some privacy and space of their own, a big part of me dreading giving our two oldest separate bedrooms. I just love Judah and Amie’s friendship. They’ve been through thick and thin together over the years and are best buddies. I didn’t want them to miss out on shared afternoon play-times, whispering at bed time, waking up and spreading out Lego’s before breakfast.

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But really I didn’t need to worry.

If anything, having a little space has helped their friendship. Now they aren’t tripping over one another’s things. Judah, who is very neat, isn’t frustrated by his slightly-less-neat sister.

It took a few weeks to get used to the new arrangement. We had to have some talks about selfishness and using bedrooms to exclude one or more siblings. We had to ask Judah to come out and play with his siblings. You know, the usual family stuff.

But now we’ve found our rhythm. We have a two-hour afternoon playtime. Judah and Amie spend the first hour alone in their rooms, and the second hour together in one of their bedrooms. They draw, play Lego’s, or sneak out to jump on the trampoline. They always have an audiobook going together and will sometimes listen before bed if they aren’t hanging out with David or me.

I also regularly ask them to have special time with one of their brothers in their bedroom. I’ll set a timer for 30 minutes, send Noah in with Judah and Gabe in with Amie, and tell them to play together. Then another day we’ll switch. Maybe that seems contrived, but it really does help sibling relationships in our home. And the little boys love it.

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Judah keeps his bedroom very neat, and loves having a place for all his books.

He nearly always has a Lego project going on the floor. He alternates between building back sets he’s gotten over the years, creating scenes from his imagination, and looking up Lego instructions on the iPad to try and copy a set (he doesn’t own any of the Harry Potter Lego sets but has built most of them in some form from internet instructions).

The painted white IKEA dresser and lamp came from our old master bedroom. We got him the Wingfeather Saga map poster as a “room warming gift.”

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I feel that this closet is a bit wasted now that Amelie has moved. I wish we could have the closet in her room, because she needs it more than her brother, but oh well. I’ve settled by stowing some of her things in here.

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Judah set up his bookcase all by himself, and I think he did a pretty great job. My favorite part is the Harry Potter glasses.

He requests books for Christmas and birthdays now and often has family members find used books for him.

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Now let’s talk a little bit about chores.

I mentioned awhile ago that my friend Kelly shared her chore system with me. I have tried so many different systems, charts, schedules, and we just don’t keep up with them.

A good thing about David and me is that we have great house-keeping habits. We work as a team to keep things clean and picked up inside and outside, and have done it so many years that it’s just second-nature. I’m so very thankful for his helpfulness around the house.

It’s a great thing … until you’re trying to share the load with your kids.

We can both be a little controlling about how we want things done (i.e. no messes!!), but truly most of the time we just forget to make the kids help us out. We jump up and load the dishwasher automatically after breakfast. We take out the trash as soon as the can becomes full, grab an armful of books to put away as we’re walking through the living room.

What I really want is to impart these habits to the kids. I want keeping house to begin to feel like second nature to them too, because that’s just what we do as a family.

So it’s taking some intentionality.

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We started with this list. I’m focusing on just the big kids at the moment until they really get their chores down well.

They do a great job by now with the daily chores at the bottom of the list. We do those weekends and weekdays, day in and day out. Gabe and Noah also clear their dishes, put away laundry, clean up their room, and make their beds. All the kids help unload the van on grocery day.

After a few months of practice (and yes, finally, some consequences of losing a dollar out of his allowance jar), Judah now automatically begins the lunch dishes every day. I never have to remind him. It’s amazing! Amie is reaching that point with caring for the chickens too.

The only thing I can say is we’re learning to tackle just one new habit at a time, and to keep it simple.

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By looking over the chart, I know there’s more our kids could be doing. I have friends who kids are doing all their own laundry by the time they’re eight!

But I’d rather get these few habits down pat and build from here.

I add “Daily chore” to my kids’ school list so they’ll remember to check the chart. And I still do some reminding.

I really need to update the chart, but I’ll just clarify that my kids do not remove their sheets every Friday and I do not wash them all every Friday. It’s a nice idea though, isn’t it? We’ll get there!

Finally, the biggest help from this system has been the bathrooms. I keep a container of Lysol wipes and a bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s spray under each bathroom sink. I taught Judah and Amie how to wipe down the sink and toilet (using separate wipes!), and clean the toilet bowl.

Are they cleaning the entire bathroom? No.

But it’s amazing what walking into a nice-smelling bathroom with clean counters and toilet will do for your mood. I’ll take it!

I’m still getting used to cleaning my own house again since we decided to stop using our beloved house cleaner. And by “getting used to cleaning,” I really just mean “not cleaning.” I have this daily chore schedule posted for myself on the fridge:

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Isn’t it great? So thorough!! Well. I rarely follow it. But I do water my plants! And I do vacuum when we have company!

How about you? Do you have any chore advice for us?



august.

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Can you believe it is already September?

In 5 days my oldest child will be double-digits.

I glanced back over my blog entries … posts were kind of patchy this summer, I know. I really struggle with blogs and the internet and social media in general. I think they have wonderful benefits. But they’re also one-dimensional. The things that are most photo-graphable are the fun, exciting things. Not the messes. The tempers. The two-hour period before dinner when I want to pull my hair out.

The internet is fun, but it’s not real life. It’s a snapshot. I think we’re at our best when we can stop and realize this, when we celebrate one another’s snapshots, but also remember we as people are more than our internet presence. Nobody’s life is perfect. The older I get, the more stories I hear, the more I believe you cannot possibly judge a person by the way they look or by their Instagram pictures. We hurt people when we do it, because we don’t give them space to be real, to suffer. Everyone suffers.

The truth is, I struggled a ton with anxiety and depression all summer long, like a choking black cloud that wouldn’t leave. There were days that I got out of bed to put food on the table for my kids and switch the laundry, and that’s about it. In many ways, this summer felt like survival.

That’s why all these trips God brought our way, that I’ve posted about, were a gift. I needed them, I needed someone to grab me and make me go on an adventure when all I wanted to do was curl up in a dark room alone.

I don’t share this to make you feel sorry for me, truly I don’t. Each year I accept a little more that this is simply the story God is asking me to live in. I believe that He can use people who are very weak. I believe that He can redeem anything.

And in the meantime, I just plead with you to bear in mind what David tells me often, “A blog isn’t real life.” Don’t think that because of my sporadic fun pictures I’m this super-mom or I’m doing everything right. I’m not.

Just because I spend seasons posting about cool things we’re up to or show you how tidy our house looks doesn’t mean we don’t have days where we’re bored and snap at each other and I turn on Netflix, afternoons I don’t sit and read a novel instead of playing games with my kids, mildew on the shower wall (yes! even our new shower!), and a layer of crust on the stovetop. Just ask my mom, who deep cleans my stove top every time she comes over.

One more thing: I’m still not against the internet and social media. I love our blog, because in my low moments, I make myself read back over old posts. They are a beautiful, big-picture reminder of God’s faithfulness to our family. Even in our hard times, every single day, there are always, always bright spots to thank Him for. He never leaves us alone.

And now, a few of those fun things from August:

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On August 21, we had a little Solar Eclipse party with David’s folks. Grandpa made a real life model of the eclipse for the kids, we pulled lawn chairs outside, and enjoyed one of the most spectacular sights nature has given us in my lifetime. We were right in the path of totality, and it was breath-taking.

Then we came back inside to the air conditioning and feasted on pimento cheese and crackers, carrot cake, iced coffee and fruity drinks for the kids and beer.

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There’s a new coffee bar in the student center of my alma mater, CIU, and I’ve already been twice to visit my parents at work and drink coffee. It’s delicious! The kids love seeing Papa and Nina at work, picking out a treat from the gift shop, and visiting the playground by Pineview Apartments.

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Some friends sent David and I to a fancy hotel in downtown Charleston for a night last month. We left in the morning and returned the following evening, so it was a nice, long date. Our favorite thing to do in any city is to walk everywhere, and stop often for good food or drink. We walked eight miles each day!

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We always recommend The Ordinary for a nice dinner out. I say “always,” even though we’ve been there exactly twice. But it continues to be our favorite restaurant ever. Workshop Charleston was a really fun, upscale food court that we tried this time. And the hidden gem a friend sent us to was Xiao Bao Biscuit. I beg you to try this place if you visit Charleston. It is family-friendly and affordable, they describe themselves as “Asian soul food” and everything on the menu looked good. But there’s really only one thing you must eat: the Okonomiyaki. It will change your life.

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I’m on a Willa Cather kick right now. How had I never read My Antonia before? It made me happy from beginning to end. If you were a fan of the Little House books as a kid, please give My Antonia a try. I’m enjoying O Pioneers now.

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Judah is currently reading both the The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Heroes of Olympus series. Amie is thrilled to finally be delving into chapter books and is obsessed with the Critter Club series, which are perfect for your beginning chapter book reader.

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Our homeschool year has gotten off to a really, really good start.

This is one of those gifts from God that I absolutely do not deserve.

I thought long and hard this summer about what was best for our kids: I’m a mess myself, I don’t even deserve to try to homeschool them. Should we put them all in school? But David gave me a good talking-to, and I took the risk, and it’s been so wonderful. Not perfect, but wonderful. I’m coming out of the darkest season, and I find that it’s good and right for me to now pour my energy into learning with our kids. My husband knows me really well.

It’s a daily, constant juggling act, getting through everyone’s work and keeping Noah constructively occupied. Most days I don’t get everything done on my list. But still, somehow, we love it. We all do. I’ve heard more positive feedback from the kids in this one month of homeschooling then in the four previous years.

Yesterday Judah said, “Mom, you’re really good at homeschooling us. You know how to make learning fun.”

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We met the boys’ birth mom and her boyfriend at Isle of Palms on Thursday for the day and had beautiful weather. They bought boogie boards and we played in the water and made lots of sand castles and new memories together.

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I found some fun wall art for our living room wall just in time for New Members’ class, which started last Sunday. Actually, I’ve had my eye on those prints at Target for months and months, and finally found the perfect place for them. They’re my favorite shade of blue and remind me of batik art from Barbados. They make me happy.

Our new members class itself is making me happy too. I love the enthusiasm and genuineness of a new wave of people excited about being apart of CPC. I love cooking turkey chili for them. I love having two bathrooms to offer. Their stories never fail to inspire and challenge and humble us.

And the last fun thing I have to show you is a little before and after of the front of our house:

February 13, 2017:

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August 21, 2017:

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That’s right! The outside is completely finished!

Last week we had our new shutters hung, and Scott and his crew updated our front porch columns from circular-shaped to square. Just a couple things on the inside of the house and he’s finished. For the year at least. We planned to have the windows in our house replaced this fall, but got a van instead. Maybe next year!

Next up in the front is a driveway and some landscaping, but we’re on our own for that. We’ll get there!

I’m excited to give you a post summing up our addition experience, and of course I know I still need to show you Judah and Amie’s bedrooms.

Thanks for bearing with me, friends. I hope to blog more regularly in the coming weeks. Thanks for your sweet texts and emails. They mean so much to me!



living room update.

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I’ve taken a couple of blissful months off thinking about house projects; no scouring of Pinterest or spontaneous trips to Home Goods. It’s a very restful feeling to find myself not even really caring that things still aren’t completely finished.

And it’s true: they aren’t. Our builder still needs to come wrap up a few items, and we’re going to have all the windows in our house replaced. And we still haven’t touched up the paint in our bedroom or put the final coat on the baseboards. But Scott’s working a job now that he said is over two times the size of our bedroom addition, so we’re squeezed into the cracks of his time. Oddly enough, I’m okay with it.

David and I just really, really needed a break from house projects.

But we did get the living room back in order and Judah and Amie’s bedrooms finished, so I’ll show you our progress!

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We’ve always loved our long, spacious living room. It was a non-negotiable for us when house-hunting, because we have groups of people from church over. Our living room is perfect for New Members’ class, during which we’ve been known to squeeze 35 people into this space.

However, surveying it post-addition, it just didn’t feel right. Losing our reading corner made us suddenly feel like there was a lot of wasted space.

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So we made the (for me) excruciating decision to transfer our wall of books to a different place to make way for another little seating area. We decided to give away our India bookcase as well, to simplify.

Call me superficial, but I mourned.

That glorious color-coded book wall felt like our trademark. It set the feel of our home when you walked in the door. It made me happy every single time I looked at it (am I being dramatic? yes, of course). But it just wasn’t practical for us anymore. So it had to go.

Thankfully that IKEA bookcase is easy to rearrange, and we stowed the extra column of shelves in a closet in case we change our minds down the road.

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After the construction, I knew that every single book needed to be removed and cleaned anyway. The dust was overwhelming. If I did this addition process again, I would’ve used more tarps, but oh well. The truth is all of that would’ve needed to be cleaned regardless. Thankfully the kids were troopers and pitched in to help.

We also took the opportunity to purge books. Again. All the books in our dark glass-front bookcase are David’s theology books and will eventually have a home in his new office. Want to know where they are now? Well, the trunk of his car and here:

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While rearranging, I took the opportunity to admire our Wendell Berry collection. Um, yes, I may have added to it since this photo was taken:

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It was actually fun and therapeutic to go through all our books, to choose which we love most, and which we’re okay with passing on.

Some books remain classics in a family, but isn’t it funny to flip through others and feel that you’ve kind of outgrown them?

But now, here we are!

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Does the new bookcase location make the same statement? Not at all.

But I do love that cozy new reading nook. We talked about getting a loveseat for the space, but actually like it just the way it is.

We had our electrician add an outlet to that wall, and eventually I’ll figure out some art to hang.

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When I thought about updating our living room, it was really important to me to create a space that’s inviting for the kids to play; especially our little guys. So we have a basket for their Magna-tiles, a basket of wooden blocks, and a book basket.

The decorator in me wouldn’t mind finding another chair to round out the sofa area, but then my kids wouldn’t have room to spread out. I want them to know this is their space too.

When they saw the wide open floor they said, “Mommy! Did you make a play place for us!?”

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If you look back the other direction, the room hasn’t really changed.

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Our living room felt really chaotic for months. We love that it’s relaxing once again!

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good-bye goose and penny.

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Before we left for our beach vacation, it was time to say good-bye to two of our girls. All along we planned for six hens; David built a coop and a run for six hens. But then when they all lived and all turned out to be females, our emotions got in the way and we wanted to keep them.

But the chickens started getting aggressive towards each other and David wondered if they were feeling overcrowded. So we decided to give away the two who were getting picked on by the others. Sadly, that meant they were also our sweetest-natured girls: Goose and Penny. But that’s the way life works sometimes.

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Amie cried and cried when we told her. She was heart-broken. But a family in our neighborhood was happy to give them a home. They have one chicken and seven children, and so there are lots of helping hands to take care of them. Amie was comforted to know the new owners are our friends and she can go visit the girls when she wants. Their new owners even told her, “We want to keep their names!”

Really, it was a perfect scenario.

We read that moving chickens in the evening is less traumatic because they can go right to bed in their new coop, so Goose and Penny’s new “dad” came over for them with two cat crates and a wagon. Judah and Amie walked over to see them settled into their home.

And I had a very sad girl on my hands that night. She cried and I made chamomile tea and we cuddled in bed and read her current chapter book together until she dozed off.

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The next day we left for the beach, which was a great distraction. By the time we got home, Goose and Penny were happily settled and laying eggs for their new family, and Amie felt much better.

And our remaining six chickens seem happier too. A friend told us they may all calm down a bit after they start laying, and it’s true. I’m so happy that Gabe and Noah can now catch them. While we were away Mum-Mum introduced them to their new favorite treat: dried worms. Now they’re hooked. If we shake the bag; they come running.

If only the girls would quiet down a bit, I’d be relieved. They’ve gotten noisy and I’m always worried about what the neighbors think. They are very opinionated and do not like to be kept waiting for breakfast in the morning, or to see us walk out into the yard without opening their coop so they can range free. Turns out we’re kind of push-overs, so for the most part, they range free.

We’re pretty sure they’re all laying now and we get an average of 4 eggs a day, sometimes more. Yes, the eggs taste delicious. If you can believe it, we actually can keep up with eating all they’re producing, although we also want to share.

Amie, Gabe, and Noah make me laugh with how much they adore playing with the chickens. All three of them have gotten pecked in their actual eyeball, have cried about it, and go on cuddling them as much as ever.

We miss you, Goose and Penny!

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here we go again!

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It’s been two weeks since we moved into our room, which has felt like an eternity to Amie, who’s been waiting and waiting for her bedroom to be finished. We temporarily moved her into the space, and then right back out again yesterday to make way for our building crew.

It was actually great to see the guys again! Amie had made them friendship bracelets and passed them around, and was anxious to show them how much her chickens have grown.

Yesterday’s project was to remove the crown molding from the bedroom, tear out that old sealed exterior door, and seal up the space. We talked about putting a window there, but there’s plenty of natural light in the room already, and dry wall is less expensive and leaves more storage options for that space for the future.

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Here’s the view from outside:

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That area will have brick eventually. So basically now we’ll forever have a staircase that leads to nothing, but oh well. Thankfully it’s not in a visible part of the yard. And honestly a staircase that led to a window felt more creepy to me.

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Here’s one more view of the old ceiling before we get a new one!

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The dry wall crew showed up bright and early this morning and said they’ll be completely finished today.

That means we’ll just need new crown molding and some paint and we’re good to go.

Hang on, Amie, we’re almost there!

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the condition: may 2017.

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Hi friends, our bags are packed and David and I hit the road at 7:00 am for our backpacking overnight. All the hard work of prepping is finished, and now we’re just excited to be getting away. We promise to tell you all about our trip.

In the meantime, here are some photos of our addition progress!

Above is a little reminder of our “before” living room. Here’s what that corner looks like today:

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We not only got a doorway, we got a nice wide doorway and a sunlit hall nook. I thought I’d miss our brown chair reading corner, but we’re so charmed by that light-filled hall that we don’t mind one bit.

I haven’t decided what to do with that wall to the right of our TV. Any ideas? It used to house another tall pine IKEA bookcase, but we much prefer the open feeling without it.

Clearly we’ll paint over that living room patch, but it’s so low on our priority list, I can’t even guarantee it’ll be done this year. We’ll move that big chair and maybe get a larger rug so the kids can play on the floor in that space.

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Steve and Linda gave us the vintage pie safe awhile back. They’ve stored it at their house for months because we knew it simply needed to go in the addition, we just weren’t sure where. Doesn’t it make you happy?

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Here we are looking back into the opposite corner. You guys! I have a built-in bookcase!

The bottom half will have doors very soon. It’s nice to have a place to stow our not-so-pretty books. I’ve basically commandeered the whole thing for homeschool books and materials.

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And now we enter our bedroom hallway! How about those floors!?

The smell was pretty crazy for about a week-and-a-half after they were stained and sealed. Migraines were suffered. Brain cells were killed. We learned from a friend that setting out bowls of coffee grounds helps.

I’m so thankful it’s just the beginning of summer so we’ve been able to keep the windows open lots.

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Here’s truly the best part about the whole addition: the bathroom. The phone pictures just don’t do it justice.

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You know, it’s funny. It looks so simple now, but I can’t describe how much work it took to put this thing together. Well, not physical labor work on my part of course, but so.many.decisions.

It was worth every emotional outburst and every Lowe’s trip. We love our bathroom. It’s clean and big and restful. It’s truly a game-changer, you guys.

I can’t really explain why, but our tiles remind me of Florida. They’re cool and clean and lovely. I’ve dreamed of getting Turkish bath towels ever since discovering them in India years ago. I love their flowing, mis-matched look. The texture takes some getting used to after big fluffy bath towels, but they dry amazingly quickly. And since David, Amie and I share that shower (who am I kidding, the whole family uses it), it’s fun to have color-coded towels.

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Next up is the closet. We saved hundreds of dollars and bought an IKEA wall system for clothes organization, although after going through the process I now understand why people spend the money for custom wood shelving. The opposite closet wall is still blank; we’re trying to decide what kind of organization we need most (definitely a hanging rack for clothes).

I love having a walk-in closet!

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And here’s the bedroom.

That first night, when we spent our anniversary setting everything up, I walked in here and looked around and burst into tears. It’s just so perfect. Of course at that very moment my kids and in-laws walked in and said, “Wait! What’s wrong!?” David and I keep saying to each other, “This feels like something we don’t deserve.” I hate to think that one day it will become our new normal and we’ll take it for granted.

A very sweet friend gave David and I money to shop for our new bedroom.

We had so much fun picking out the console table, David’s gray reading chair, rug, and that fun India travel poster. The colorful quilt was made by my grandma many years ago. It’s been sitting in the attic, just waiting for this bedroom.

It still looks quite simple, but we decided to take our time with the remaining walls and curtains. It’s funny to try and bring balance to David’s desire for “minimalism” and my desire for “coziness.” We’ll work it out!

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Finally, here we are looking back down the hall toward the rest of the house. A friend told me, “I enjoy looking at your photos, but I just can’t get ahold of the layout of everything.” If you live in Columbia, you’ll just have to come see it in person!

We have some bits and pieces left to finish in the addition, but mostly in Amie’s room (even though she couldn’t help temporarily moving into her space), and the outside of the house. Scott told me he hopes to be back here Monday to get started. Next week I’ll show you Judah’s bedroom!

Thank you so much to those of you who have been praying for us and celebrating every step of the way. We’re so happy!



i’m still here!

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Hi friends!

I’ve been pretty terrible at keeping up with the blog lately, and I feel bad about it. Not that I expect you to be sitting by your computer waiting for a post.

It’s so odd, really. For years I wanted to experience a home renovation so that I could take pictures and blog about the process, but I neglected to factor in one very important thing: that during the renovation I may have zero — and I mean zero — energy for blogging or really anything beyond laying on the sofa with glazed eyes and watching Netflix every night.

Ah well. I’m sure some of you could’ve told me that was a pretty good possibility.

I have absolutely no idea how these DIY-ers manage to do enormous home projects and also blog about them. They have all my respect. Meanwhile, I’m most certainly not a DIY-er, and I’m still just hanging on for dear life.

Things got a whole lot harder here during the last third of the addition when a giant hole was cut in our living room wall, and various and sundry people began traipsing in and out every day. Oh and there’s the dust. And the noise. And the piles of clutter around our house. And a lot of kids to keep out of everyone’s way.

And the shopping. I know, I know, you’re like, wait, she’s complaining about shopping now? Must be nice. But as anyone who’s ever experienced a house or yard project can attest, you go to Lowe’s or Home Depot on average 1.5 times a day. There are so many decisions, about things I never in my life expected to care about, but are suddenly vitally important. And remember this: whatever you buy will have to be exchanged at least once.

Yesterday I’m pretty sure I blanked out at least two times in Target, and when I came to I was wandering aimlessly in an aisle and had no idea how I got there. It’s bad, people.

For all their challenges, here’s where Gabe and Noah are just the best.

Me: “Hey, guys, I’m sorry to say this, but we actually need to go back to Lowe’s.” Amie and Judah: “Noooooooo!!!!” Gabe and Noah: “Yay!!!! Lowe’s!!!!!”

And enough of my whining already, right? I mean, I’m getting another bathroom! And a bedroom! And a closet! And a lovely little hallway for books and plants. Truly, I’m very very thankful, and David and I say constantly that it’s going to be worth every inconvenience and every penny we’ve spent. It’s turning out better than we ever imagined it could be.

Also, we couldn’t have asked for a more pleasant group of people working on our house: not just our builder and his crew, but all his subcontractors have been so nice that Amie said, “I’ll be so sad when all the workers leave” (that’s my extroverted child speaking).

We’re almost there! We’re so close we can just about reach out and touch it. Maybe two weeks until we can move in? That’s nothing, right!?

Tell me that’s nothing.

And now, because I’ve proven to us all I’m definitely not one of those cool DIY bloggers, can I please just give you a hodge-podge of low-quality phone pics to fill you in on our month?

Thanks!

Okay, first, the house!

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We have brick! Actually these photos are outdated. The brick is completely finished, and I’ll post more after the masons come this weekend and clean of the mortar and it looks all nice and crisp (who am I kidding, I’ll probably post photos a couple weeks after the fact).

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Oh, how much my little guys are going to miss having an “instruction site” in our yard. They were mesmerized by this dumpster exchange. And meanwhile, I was consumed with guilt over the fact that our little house project has generated over a dumpster’s worth of waste. Wendell Berry would be horrified. Please don’t tell him.

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For those who are interested, here’s the roof tie-in from the back yard. Isn’t it cute?

And speaking of back yard . . .

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A few weeks ago, the kids and I went on a lovely field trip to a nearby family-owned farm outside Columbia, and the farmer showed me this whole area where she lets her one-year-old daughter garden to her heart’s content. I told David how inspiring it was, and about two days later he put in a third raised garden bed, for our kiddos.

The other two beds are David’s babies. He loves them. He tends them. It’s one of his favorite ways of unwinding. But we want our kids to learn the gardening process and to be able to do it all by themselves, so this bed is for them. Soil and plants aren’t especially cheap, so it’s more than “digging in the dirt.” There are rules. Think of it as a little hands-on class. They are thrilled.

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And now we go inside!

Here’s our new doorway, in all it’s glory. I love that Scott made it larger than a traditional doorway, in order to let in more natural light from that window. The bookcase to the left will go in Judah’s room to open up that space more, and those books will be moved to the new built-ins, which will be in the nook to the left when you walk through the addition doorway. The brown chair will go elsewhere too.

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We’re doing the painting ourselves in order to save money, and by “we” I mean mostly David, with some help from my brother and me. It’s a whole lot of painting, especially with all the new trim. Some pieces were primed but still need two coats. He’s been wonderful about it.

I really wanted to go with an almost-white to make our space look big and light-filled, but worried that all white would feel a bit stark. So our exact color is Olympic Hourglass, which is a very-slightly-gray white. The trim and doors will be the Behr paint match of Benjamin Moore Simply White (I highly recommend this color if you’re looking for a true white; I got the tip from Young House Love).

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The hardwood floors will be sanded and stained next week to match the floors throughout our house.

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Here’s our closet! After getting the quote for custom shelving, we decided to go with an IKEA metal rack system, which is considerably less expensive. There will be carpet in here too.

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And here, my friends, is the bathroom. In the last two weeks the shower and floor were tiled. We planned to save money and use vinyl flooring in the bathroom right up until this very week. The cost turned out to be reasonable, since we went with larger tiles, and we are so, so glad we did it.

I found our bathroom paint color on an HGTV Pinterest post: it’s the Olympic brand of Sherwin Williams Intellectual Gray (from Fixer Upper!), and it’s a Gray/Taupe. I spent some time really stressing that it was too dark (of course it was the one color we didn’t get a sample of), but the light floors and cabinets make it look better. I wanted it to feel cozy and I think it does!

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Look at this shower! We think it’s stunning. We wanted to go with subway tile with an inset and little shelf, and because we were willing to use remnants from our builder and the tile guy, we got the floor tile and that pretty inset design for free. We still walk in the bathroom and look at each other and say, “This can’t really be ours.”

Actually our other bathroom is kind of disintegrating during this building process (for example, we now have to use a wrench to turn on the hot water, and more floor penny tiles pop free daily), so I have a pretty sneaking suspicion that the entire family will be using the new bathroom for the foreseeable future. That’s okay: at least we’ll all comfortably fit, right?

If you’re wondering what all my Home Depot and Lowe’s trips consist of, let me give you a list of things we’ve needed to provide: shower tile, door knobs, cabinet hardware, sink faucets, all paint and primer, light fixtures, mirrors, shower head kit and shower curtain, towels, towel rack, toilet paper dispenser, closet shelving system, not to mention furniture for our room and Amie’s.

Okay, now that I look at it written out, it doesn’t seem like that much stuff. Why, oh why, does it feel like it?

Whew. Let’s move on:

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My baby is a Classical Conversations Memory Master! He did it! He was tested on 400 pieces of information from our school year in the subjects of Latin, English Grammar, History, Math, and Science, and had to achieve one hundred percent in order to get the award. He was the youngest student at our CC campus to become a Memory Master this year.

Words cannot express how proud I am of him. It’s not that I care if all my kids are Memory Masters. But God has given Judah an amazing mind, and I loved seeing him set a new goal this year and work hard for it and do his best. We told him he’d get the reward of a fun experience if he became a Memory Master, and I’ll let him tell you about that in a post after the experience.

We had our CC end-of-year program on Monday, and have just about three days of school left before we’re officially finished. It seems early, I know, but last year we started back during the summer, and that worked really well for us, so we plan to do it again.

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Monday was a big day for another reason: we celebrated two years with Gabe and Noah.

Two years! Can you believe it?

I’ll give you an adoption post here soon, probably after the addition is finished, because I have some thoughts. But I’ll just say now that choosing to adopt our boys is the hardest and best thing we’ve ever done.

It’s a mark of what God has done in making us a family that we had to consider how exactly to celebrate this anniversary, because they don’t even really think of themselves as adopted now. They’re just ours.

But we love adoption and want to celebrate it and support it for the rest of our lives, and of course we know one day they will have lots more questions. And so we decided our family’s annual Adoption Day tradition will be Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast. The kids loved it!

Today David took the two older kids on a big hike in the Greenville area, and I took Gabe and Noah to the zoo and to Chick-Fil-A. Personally, it was my favorite two-year celebration because it’s rare that I get to be alone with just the two of them, just having fun. Spending today enjoying my boys felt beautiful. They make my life better.

Thank you for enduring my long-windedness, my friends!

And now will you do something for me?

I know all of you have your own busy, stressful lives, but if you get a moment, shoot me an email or text letting me know what’s up with you! What’s the hardest part of life right now? What’s the best? (those could actually be the same thing)

I love hearing from you and hate that this blog often feels like a one-sided conversation. In all of the construction stress, the most restful thing for me is to NOT think about the construction. I love hearing from my friends and family (and internet friends! you’re not a blog stalker!).

Happy Friday!





the home stretch.

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I’m long overdue for a house update.

Our house addition started February 13, which means we’re entering our eighth week. Can you believe it?

People told me the construction process would feel like an eternity, but February and March were such extremely busy months for us, that it’s flown by. All except the weekend the roof was being replaced. That felt like an eternity for sure. If you’re wondering why, imagine the sound of something like large rodents scurrying and stomping overhead, interspersed with lots of pounding (on your very skull) and every so often, what sounds like bodies hitting the roof.

That kind of did a number on our family, partly because we hosted our two CPC New Members’ classes the weekends they were here working. I truly thought I might have a break-down at one point, from the stress of it all.

But God gave us the strength we needed to just put one foot in front of the other, and what’s more, He gave us joy. Just in the nick of time. We loved having the big group of people over, as we always do, and if anything it was even more special than usual, because they came to us in all our mess.

And then right after, the Lord gave us a wonderful gift: our window shipment was delayed, and so the builders had to take a week and a half off work. They apologized a lot, but David and I felt that the timing couldn’t have been better.

We desperately needed a break: from noise, from interruptions, from thinking about the addition at all really.

When business resumed last week, we felt rested and energized for the home stretch.

Right now Scott is estimating that they’ll finish up at the beginning of May!

Alright, enough talking. Let’s take a tour around, shall we?

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Here’s the current state of our current bedroom. We had this window boarded up a few weeks ago.

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Now I am standing inside the new little hallway of the addition, looking back into the house. As of tomorrow that window will be a doorway (the cord to that Roman shade gave out not a moment too soon, didn’t it?)! Up until now everyone has crawled in and out through a window.

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Still standing at the window, I’m turning and looking at what will be a tiny alcove. You can see the bedroom doorway to the left, and it will open out into that alcove. The room beyond that wall is our bathroom!

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Hooray! Here’s our bathroom! Isn’t that privacy window fun? There will be a built-in linen cabinet on the right, then the double vanity, and on the other side of that half-wall is the shower. To the left across from the shower is the room for the toilet.

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Here it is! The kids are enamored by the fact that someone can actually close a door and use the potty in privacy while other people are in the bathroom. You know what I love about a building project? You can design it to fit your family’s particular needs, and what we need is a multi-user-friendly master bathroom.

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Now we head out of the bathroom and turn to look down another little hall into the bedroom. That door on my right is the walk-in closet.

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I’m looking out of the hall window to our front porch.

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And here, my friends, is our lovely new bedroom. Don’t you love those big windows? And the vaulted ceiling? David gets all the credit for ensuring that it happened. I didn’t have an opinion either way, but now that I see how charming the room looks, I’m thrilled.

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I turn and look back down the hall I came from. The closet is that first doorway on the left, then the bathroom. Turn right at the end of the hall and it leads to the doorway to our living room.

Don’t you like how the addition isn’t just a big box-like room? It has a hallway and an alcove, and I haven’t shown you yet, but our genius architect figured out a way to add built-in bookshelves off the living room. Yes, it is tailor-made for the Gentino’s.

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Hello again, bedroom! Our bed will go against that wall. We plan to go with a minimal look, furniture-wise, but hope to fit a reading/drinking-wine-and-chatting corner in under the windows across the room from the bed.

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And here we are again at the outside. As you can see, we gained most of the windows this past week since I snapped the above photos, as well as insulation and hardwood floors.

If the addition looks large compared to the rest of the house, that’s because it is! It increased our square footage by a third. Here’s one more glimpse:

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Doesn’t that roof look pretty? It was worth all the craziness! I’ve never in my life considered roofing style, but suddenly found myself needing to choose shingles. I went with architect-style, light-black onyx, mostly by looking around and seeing what I liked.

If you don’t think the roof looks all that remarkable, may I give just remind you…?

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The roofers said that our shingles were pretty much crumbling in their hands as they removed them.

And that’s all for now!

Happy April, my friends!