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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lessons From An Eternal Optimist

I don't write a lot about my kids....not anything too personal at least. That is a conscious choice I have made. My children all have special needs and I've always felt that their personal stories would be theirs to tell, not mine, when they are ready.
But a couple weeks ago, my son told me a story that stopped me in my tracks. I decided to share it because I think it's something we can all learn from.
Celebrating his birthday a couple years ago.
It actually all started when my daughter was telling us about a game that she played at a party for her cross country team. The game is called "Never Have I Ever" and the idea is that you share something you have never done and you try to stump your friends and knock them out of the game because they have done it before. (As an aside, it seems a little negative to me and that you should get to stay in the game because you HAVE done lots of things before. But I digress....)
Anyways, my son piped up right away that he had played that game before too in one of his classes at school. And then he got very excited and said, "and I WON!!"
I was curious and as his Mom, it was my duty to investigate further.
Me: What? You won the game? What did you say that you hadn't done before?
[Son laughs uncontrollably. So much so that he almost can't speak.]
Son: "WALK! I've never walked before!" [still giggling]
[Mom tries not to sob uncontrollably]
To him it was all about winning the game.

With his girlfriend Tink. We tease him about this mercilessly.
I guess it may seem like I'm bragging on my son (well, maybe a little.) But Hubster and I can't take too much credit for this boy's attitude. Although we try to foster healthy attitudes in all of our kids, he arrived in our family at age four, full of positivity and not looking back.
He hasn't ever walked. He uses a power wheel chair full time. But in his mind, he gets to drive an electric blue convertible everywhere he goes.
In P.E. class, he often gets to be the score-keeper. In his mind, that is a position of power and responsibility. Plus he loves numbers....BONUS!
I remember one time he told me how he got to play kickball in P.E. I asked him if one of his friends kicks for him. He said, "Yea. And then I run really fast Mom!"
He doesn't even think about what he can't do. In his mind, he is just like everybody else.
He's an eternal optimist.

Playing and arcade game with Dad
I don't know about you, but I'm a "wallower."
I don't think of myself as a negative person, yet I've realized that I tend to wallow in my problems, worries, and what I can't (or think I can't) do. But it's really all in my perspective and I can choose to think about the positive and the things that I CAN do.
What about you? Are you a wallower too? Or maybe you're somebody who compares yourself to everyone else....their talents, their possessions, their accomplishments....instead of thinking how unique and special God made YOU! I've been THERE too.

At his 8th grade graduation, he won the Citizenship Award for hard work,
 positive attitude, friendliness, and school involvement.

Our lives....and our world....would be a better place if we stopped wallowing in negativity and chose to see all that is positive in our lives and all around us. Some people are eternal optimists. They see the positive in everything. But I would say there are probably more of us who need to make a conscious choice every day to think more positively.  I know I do. Will you take that challenge with me?

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Back To School 2014

It's that time of year again....Back To School! We survived  enjoyed our Summer, but all good things must come to an end. Yesterday was our kids first day of classes.
I always try to get photos of the kids before they head off to school for the first day. I tried to make it as quick and painless as possible yesterday and had them post in front of our chalkboard again this year. (You can check out last years pictures HERE.)
I have to admit, since we had our Summer List up on the chalkboard, I got a little lax about doing a calendar. August never made it up there. So I decided to make a little 1st Day Of School graphic for our photos before the list gets erased for this year and September (gasp!) makes it's way up there.
I took each of the kid's photos as they were ready. First up....our middle guy.

He was so excited for his first day back! He actually did five weeks of Summer school, but he was still happy to return for the school year. He couldn't wait to see all his friends. What a blessing! I remember the days back in Kindergarten and First Grade when I had to literally push him on the bus every morning. It was traumatic for both of us! Now he tells me all the time that he loves school. He's come a LONG way Baby!

I especially love this photo. I may be a little prejudiced because I'm his Mom, but I think he has the best smile ever.
Next up was my daughter (She and above son are both in 8th grade this year.) She REALLY dislikes getting her picture taken. Always has. In her first couple baby photo shoots she has tears streaming down her face. I cried too....and we bought the pictures anyways.
I reminded/warned her the night before that we would be taking photos before school. She said she would only cooperate if I promised to put them on my blog.
Here you go funny girl!

I love her cute boxer top from Target. So cute! She insists on carrying this huge binder case for school. It cracks me up!
She had a lot of ups and downs last year, but I am excited to see how 8th grade goes. She has a new teacher this year and I think it will be a good change for her.

And last, but most certainly not least, is our oldest son....a.k.a. The High School Guy. Yep, this one headed off for his first day of High School yesterday. He was cool as a cucumber. I think I'm a little more excited/nervous/terrified than he is.
It takes a lot of planning, work, brainstorming, and communicating to make sure everything comes together for him at school. Sending him to a new school with different staff always makes me kind of nervous as his Mom and advocate. But I am really excited to see what high school holds for him.

And what other child do you know who is most excited because he has Geometry first period of the day? Seriously, he loves Math!

We had a super busy afternoon since my daughter also had a cross country meet after school (who schedules these things on the first day of school?), but it was fun hearing all their stories and excitement about their day.

Here's to a GREAT school year!!

Have your kids gone back to school yet? Do you have any First Day traditions or special photos that you take?
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Friday, August 22, 2014

Four Things For Friday 8.22.14

Happy Friday!
It's that time again! Time to share a few things that have been on my mind or are going on around here.
1.  It's back to school time. Our kids return to school next Tuesday. School schedulers know what they are doing when they make Summer Break the length that it is. Summer is a wonderful time to take it easy, do fun things as a family, and just unwind. But there comes a time every year when we are all just ready for a return to the routine of the school year. I think we actually reached that point a couple weeks ago. Even my child who likes school the least said she is ready to go back.
And Mom is ready too. I like the being able to sleep a little later and not have such a set routine, but having the kids home in the Summer puts limits on what I am able to accomplish creatively around the house. I crave a creative outlet. As much as I hate getting up at 5:15 every morning, I'm looking forward to projects working on the playroom, decorating for Fall, and...<gasp>....Christmas!

2.  Our oldest will be starting high school this year. YIKES! I can't believed we've reached this point as parents. I attended Freshment orientation with him this week and I know he is going to do great. (More on this guy next week!) But it just reminds me that graduation and college are just around the corner and every moment is precious. I hope that he will embrace his high school experience and make lots of good memories.

3.  This Fall our family is venturing into an unknown area for sports. Our daughter is running cross country this year. Practices began about three weeks ago and so I have been driving her to practice every day either to the school or a local running trail, sometimes heading home, and sometimes sitting in the van through the entire practice for the sake of less driving time. We've also attended a cross country picnic, taken her to a team party to make matching tie dye t-shirts, and we went as a family to a  community event where all the Fall sports teams were introduced.


I had no idea! And school  hasn't even started yet! Tomorrow is their first meet. We are excited to see how that goes.

4.  And speaking of the playroom....

It's still waiting to be painted. I referred a while back to an architectural detail that we need to address. It's not a big deal, but where the walls and ceiling meet it is curved. It's hard to explain and I thought about taking a photo to show you, but I don't really think you'd be able to see it well. Anyways. Hubster and I have to come up with a plan on how we will handle that. When we painted the room before, we just used an off-white color so we could paint the walls and the ceiling all the same and it wasn't an issue. But since we will be using Sherwin Williams' Sea Salt this time around, it will need to be addressed. I think we will probably just tape off a ceiling line, but I'm considering the possibility of molding too, so we'll see.

I hope you all have a great weekend! Enjoy what's left of this beautiful Summer we've had!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Can't Put It Off Any Longer: Playroom "Befores"

 I've seriously been dreading this day and have been putting it off. Today is the day I show you the "before" pictures of our beloved playroom.

These aren't pictures taken the day we moved in ten plus years ago folks. I took these photos on Friday!
It's embarrassing really. I mean there's the green print curtains from my last attempt at updating the playroom alongside the blue checked couch that was passed down from my in-laws. Blech!!!

Since this room stopped being an actual playroom for the kids, it's become a catch-all for all the furniture we really don't want anymore, stuff that doesn't really have a "home," laundry I'm avoiding, etc. It's a hot mess, for sure.

I see a lot of de-cluttering in my future. Ugh!
But I keep telling myself to keep my eyes on the goal....a clean, comfortable place for our family to hang out. Besides, next to these photos, the "afters" will look even better, right?  :D
(Here's my inspiration photo again.)
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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Playroom Update: Sampling Paint Colors

Yesterday I was FINALLY able to get out and pick up a couple paint samples for the playroom at my neighborhood Sherwin Williams store. Having the kids home for the Summer makes getting out to do things like that difficult. But yesterday I was able to run out for a half hour and pick up the paint. Thankfully, my Sherwin Williams store is really close by.

(If you are just tuning in you can read HERE about my process of picking out a wall paint color for the playroom.)

I came home with my small cans of Comfort Gray (SW 6205) and Sea Salt (SW 6204) and immediately painted the samples on the wall. I started with the Comfort Gray and I liked it a lot. But the farther I went I started to get a sneaking suspicion that it was a little too dark. The playroom is a pretty small room. Next came Sea Salt.


I let the paint dry completely and I found myself walking in the room every few minutes to look at it. Believe it or not, after all my unscientific research, I'm pretty sure that Sea Salt is going to be the color for us.
It's still a nice gray (with a greenish cast), but is a little lighter. In making my decision, I took into account that someday I would like to get a dark gray sectional for the room. Maybe something like the IKEA Ektorp. I like the idea of a little more contrast between the walls and the sofa.

So that's where things stand with the playroom. School will be starting in a couple weeks and I don't think I will be painting before that. Plus we have a little architectural challenge we have to overcome before we paint. I'll explain more about that another time.
But the moral of this story is....even though you think a paint color looks perfect on the paint chip, in a picture, or in somebody else's room, it's worth it to buy a sample and try it out first in your own room.


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Friday, August 1, 2014

Finding The Perfect Paint Color For The Playroom

I took some time yesterday to try and zero in on the perfect wall color for the playroom (when I got tired of walking around IKEA shelving boxes.) I'll show you the number one contender in a minute. But first I want to share with you the resources I used to help me narrow it down.

I started out at a great blog called Favorite Paint Colors. Kristin's blog is a terrific resource. Readers send her photos of rooms they have painted in a certain color which she in turn posts on the blog. She also categorizes them by color family, room, and paint brands and you can search her archives by any of those categories. I began my search by looking through all the grays. I made a short list of some colors I thought might work for the playroom.

From there, I did a Google image search of the specific paint colors to see how they looked in even more rooms. This is always an interesting search to do because you can see how a paint color looks in different lighting and with different trim, flooring, and furniture colors. It's amazing how different a color can look in different rooms. Sometimes you'll be lucky and will find an image than resembles your own room which is really helpful.

After Google, I went to Pinterest and searched the color again. I'm always surprised by how specific you can get on Pinterest. I searched by the color and brand and even more room images came up for me to look at. What's really helpful is when somebody else has already compared a couple colors you're considering and has painted samples on their wall for you to contemplate. Saves you a lot of time and money (getting samples.)

So you may have noticed that my #1 contender right now is Sherwin William's Comfort Gray.

On Pinterest I found these rooms that I loved.

The first one was Nester's sitting room.


Another room that caught my eye was this kitchen that was redone by Layla at The Lettered Cottage.

See what I mean about the color looking different depending on the light in the room? But I like the way it looks in both photos so I think that's a good sign.
The other great thing that happened when I searched on Pinterest was that in the search results were several rooms that I had admired on Pinterest before....which gave me a little confidence that I was on the right track.
So, what's next? Well, hopefully in the next couple days I will be able to get over to Sherwin Williams (I have a store really close to me) and pick up a sample of the paint to try out. I may also get one of the next lighter shade on the paint chip (which is called Sea Salt) just to compare. I'll give them a try in the playroom and let you know what I think.
What are your thoughts on Comfort Gray?

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