Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Treetop Nursery Reveal

Maybe it's because I never got a chance to decorate a nursery for Josh, maybe it's because I'm a major nester and love any excuse to (re-)decorate a room, or maybe it's because we're having a girl this time around, but I really dove into the nursery decor and love, love, love our Little Girl's nest!

Since I really know the value of a dollar but love a custom look, I basically had no option but to DIY almost everything!  I started building my "nesting fund" with some Christmas and birthday money I received, along with some ebay and Craigslist sales. Shortly after I found out I was expecting (October 2012), I fell in love with the "Treetop Friends" theme from Skip Hop and went from there. Spending nearly $200 for the crib set would have wiped out my entire nesting fund and then some, though--never mind that it would have been no fun at all!

I totally lucked out just after Christmas in finding a similar 4-piece crib set (it included a window valance instead of a blanket, but who need another blanket, anyway?!) at our "Once Upon a Child" for $20. Although we didn't know for sure that our Little Girl would help balance out the testosterone overload around here, I wishfully bought this tea set by a tried-and-true toy company there, too--kinda reminds me of Fiestaware dishes, huh? (You can see part of it on the 2 corner shelves to the left; they're mounted between the window wall and the wall adjacent to the closet wall.)

I pinned a lot of ideas to this board and started collecting supplies . . .

Then there were the walls. . . . As a girl, I would have loved this room, with its slanted ceilings, but as a decorator . . . not so much. I absolutely adored the large tree vinyl clings I saw listed, but any with good reviews were oh-so-pricey! And I'm not good with detail painting. The walls were already painted a neutral tan color, but I wanted to do one accent wall. Maybe green?

My hubby suggested the sliding closet doors instead, since they were white but had goopy stuff all over them and needed to be repainted anyway. He also thought he could remove them and put them up on saw horses for me. He couldn't, but the  choice had already been made. "Asparagas Green" it was, and I had those handy 8-ounce sample cans in tow. I figured I'd need 3, but that glossy white I'd sanded didn't let the primer-plus-paint (by Behr at Home Depot) tick too well. I might have been better off buying a quart, but hey.

I'd already painted matching dressers (from Craigslist in 2 different states, believe it or not!) for the boys and primed a wall in the bathroom before I got to it. I was a little nervous about how it would turn out.

I'd decided on these vintage girl silhouettes, but I couldn't spring for the ready-made vinyl clings I saw on Etsy or Ebay. So I followed the trail and purchased the graphics (and some branch and treetop ones) from another Etsy shop owned by the same gal who runs this site, printed them, used the overhead projector at church to enlarge them, and traced them onto brown vinyl I purchased on Amazon and at Hobby lobby (They were about an even deal, when you use the HL 40% off coupon, but I liked the Amazon roll better, partially because its liner had grid lines on it like typical Contact paper).

Cutting out the designs was a bit putsy, and I had to learn the hard way to peel and stick part of the design before peeling off the backing of the whole thing, but we made it!

The kneeling girls and words were an afterthought (2 images from iStock Photo and one from the Etsy shop where I found the others), but my hubby likes them the best. What do you think? (My fave is the girl on the swing, above. I feel like I should  have extended the branch on the right side, but alas, I've decided to just be done.)

You can also see my childhood rocking chair in the above pic. My hubby refinished it, and it looks amazing! Who says daddies don't nest?!

I found the papasan for $5 on Craigslist, and I told the boys it was our "nest chair." They're so cute when they say "tweet, tweet, let's go read in the nest chair, Mom!" :)

I purchased wool felt from an Etsy shop (it's now MIA) because the cheaper stuff at Jo-Ann and Hobby Lobby didn't come in my colors, and if you know me, you know I'm kinda OCD about matching! :) After making felt mobile stuffies for my sister Tiffany's strawberry-themed nursery, I was "rockin' the blanket stitch," so away I went with the free owl and birdie templates I pinned!

I loved the idea--for the budget and the au naturale of it all--of using real branches in the design, but I didn't  want too rustic of a look, with the bold colors and more modern crisp design elements I was using. So I spray painted the branches holding the mobile, as well as the one that will hold her name made from branches tied together with string (Wouldn't you like to know?! It's a secret until she's born--but I've been hinting, if you're perceptive enough!). I got a little addicted and did the same with our stumps-turned shelves. The idea of making corner ones was my hubby's brain child--good one, huh?

The bird houses were $1 each at Jo-Ann, and my mom bought that painteg for me when I told her it reminded me of Hobby Lobby, who appeared more than once during my childhood. A friend from church made the owl papercraft, another made a blanket to match my colors, and many contributed to "feathering the nest" with more blankets and clothes and cash for other things we needed . . . ahem, "needed."


We also replaced a 70s light fixture and plastic blinds and used the same crib and dresser that Little Girl's big brothers used. The crib will probably finally get a chance to transition to a toddler bed and full-size bed in this cozy little nest.

Now, like the mama birdie who made a hnome for her little ggs outside our front door, I just need to wait for my Little Girl to "hatch"!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Never (Quite) Good Enough

Okay, so you know me at all, you know that I'm kind of a half-hearted type-A, goal-oriented person. The perfect example of imperfection. I remember preparing for free days like Saturdays as a kid by charting out my mornings with unrealistic minute-by-minute schedules. Without fail, I'd wake up at least 2 minutes too late to brush my teeth according to plan, and by 15 minutes after I awoke, I'd be a failure--according to my now impossible plan, according to myself. I'd hit myself (glad I'd never heard of cutting), throw something no one would hear, and go about the remainder of my already-ruined day, moping around and hoping it would end sooner, rather than later. Maybe just take a long nap to sleep off the guilt, the frustration, the day.

I said all that to say that unfortunately, I haven't grown up all that much. I still set high, humanly unattainable goals, and even when my aims are reachable, I blow it. All. The. Time. I waste time on Facebook when I should be writing (for pay), I choose to peruse Pinterest instead of prepping for dinner, and sometimes I even choose my own perceived needs above those of my precious little boys. I've done it this week, even today.

I need grace. God's grace. So do my kids. So do you. And your kids. And everyone we know.

I've only recently become awakened to this need in my life--not just a one-time infusion of grace for salvation from the eternal penalty of my sin, but a day-by-day grace that enables me to release my pride, my schedules, my dreams, and try harder, empowered by His all-forgiving, empowering grace.

I need it for parenting, for worshipping, for cooking, for cleaning. I need it for every breath of life.

One of the many books on my 2013 list that revolves around the topic of grace is this one. I first heard about it on The MOB Society blog (love, love, love their tagline!) and then from a FB friend. As if the title didn't already make me smile, this "negative" (2 star) review put me over the top in wanting to read it: "Kids need to know that we all need Jesus, but this book seeks parents to impress on their children that they are not good . . . It seems to encourage parents to break a child down so they see their need for Jesus . . . it tells the parent that building up their child's self-esteem is turning them away from God." Good! Amen! I need that, too!

When I attended True Woman '12 this fall, I realized that I seldom give grace to others: I want them to earn my favor, my good behavior, my love. I think I tend to do this because I fail to humbly realize how undeserving I am of Christ's forgiveness and blessings in my life. Some of the issue probably has to do with a somewhat legalistic tendency I come by naturally, similar to the one described in this blog post. Some also comes from my background which appeals to my natural tendency to think I can be--or am--good enough. Here's another blog post , this one by the husband of a dear friend, on the topic of grace vs. legalism that really hits the nail on the head:

"As Christians, we are able to go years (even decades) believing we are basically holy people because we’ve never messed up in any big way, don’t go here, don’t say this, or look, talk, dress, and act a certain way. And yet we do not encounter Christ daily through his Word. We are not seeing Jesus Christ and savoring him for all that he is to us. We do not understand the depth of our sinfulness so that they we out to God for daily mercy. We do not understand the gracious kindness of God towards us so that we are filled with joy, life, and love. We do not know what it is to depend upon the Holy Spirit and to be led by him into holiness. For us holiness is simply x, y, and z–not Christ."

The same friend blogs about the freedom of grace: "Many of us resonate deeply with the message of grace that rightly corrects the artificial constraints and condemning attitudes of legalism. We should recognize, however, that grace also frees us from the bondage of lawlessness."

As Candace Cameron Bure (childhood star of "Full House" and sister to outspoken Christian Kirk Cameron) considers the theme of her personal testimony: "Being good isn't good enough."

Even still, I will try to be good, do better, set (reasonable) goals, and try to follow them. Goals like this 20-day challenge I mentioned last week, along with another post or 2 I've pinned on this board. And I'll do so knowing I won't be perfect, I'll need grace, and I can move on in the right direction without moping through the rest of my day, my week, my life as a failure. I hope you will, too.

(Don't forget to sign up tonight if you want to receive the e-mail reminders!)

I'll end with a quote from a friend, fellow baby-mommy, and former student of mine because I simply couldn't say it better myself, so I won't even try:

"It’s one thing to determine how to live based on principles and goals. It’s another to imagine the awesome life I can have because, I mean, c’mon, I’m a pretty awesome person. When I build that dream, and reality fails to match it (as it inevitably does), the weight of my mediocrity and normalcy crushes me. I want to hide in bed, distracting myself and others from the knowledge of my failure.

"That is pride. It is the secret, ugly belief that I am somehow better. Others’ failures I can understand, but my own? I am capable of more.

"So here’s to humility. Here’s to acknowledging our weaknesses, and being patient with ourselves while striving to be better."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Easter Preparation 2013

Like Nancy Leigh DeMoss mentions to be her experience in the intro. to her wonderfully Christ-centered series about "The Incomparable Christ," I didn't grow up in a church that celebrates Lent--or any particular period or manner of preparation for the Easter season. (Ironically, many people I knew celebrated "Fat Tuesday"!) However, I've personally tried to implement some special ways to set myself apart for God during this season.

Starting during my high school years, I would spend extra time reading the gospel accounts that correspond to each day of Passion Week as well as extra-biblical books that helped me focus on Christ. These are some of my favorites:

I'm sad to admit that since my due date for my first baby on Easter Sunday 2009, I've pretty much let that tradition lapse. Well, that baby was born 2 days later, and now I'm mommy to an almost 4-year-old boy, a 2-and-a-half-year-old boy and am full-on nesting with my baby girl, expected in June! Between then and now, we've moved 4 times and just been in transition mode a lot! (In fact, my negligence of this blog for nearly a year shows how non-creative, scatter-brained, and just plain spent I've been for quite some time. I finally feel like I've recovered from our serial moves!)

I know that it's easy to let life in general, as well as our Martha-style Easter celebrations eclipse the Mary kind. You know what I mean--entertaining guests for a big, beautiful meal; practicing and preparing for Passion Week church events; and putting together egg hunts and baskets for the kiddos--not to mention new coordinated family dress clothes fit for spring! Now, don't get me wrong, I still plan to enjoy many of those Martha-type tasks, but I want the quiet, Christ-focussed preparations to fuel such activities.

I think I was first challenged to consider Easter preparations seriously from Noel Piper (wife of prolific preacher/writer John Piper) in her book "Treasuring God in Our Traditions." Her series of 8 devotionals, entitled "Lenten Lights" can be read over the 8 weeks, or 8 days, preceding Easter. I think we'll make this a special focus after breakfast each day of Easter week, and instead of the candles, we'll use a Resurrection Garden (maybe we'll even do one with freshly planted grass!)

I might incorporate some of these other ideas by Noel Piper, as well. Maybe I'll even create a magnet activity like this one, so the boys can participate in the Passion Week story, somehow.

Last year, I also discovered that spring cleaning actually started as a Jewish tradition associated with Passover, which begins (and is gloriously fulfilled!) on Easter weekend. That started me thinking of cleaning as a part of my worship, which has helped me become more passionate and purposeful in it--even though I have a l-o-n-g way to go!

One of my goals for 2013 is to keep up with a weekly/monthly/quarterly cleaning schedule, and Crystal at Money Saving Mom has been my mentor in this regard, so it makes sense that I'm planning to retake her "4 Weeks to a More Organized Home" challenge as part of my Easter preparation, this year, starting next Monday, March 3. It's just 20 days, instead of 40 days of Lent, since it's just 5 days per week (see the downloadable schedule here.) Would you care to join me?

(I'll try to post next Sunday with this link, again, so we can receive the daily e-mails starting that Monday.)

Music is also a huge part of setting the mood for meditating on the victorious Resurrection of Christ, and I absolutely love how the Gettys' music focuses on this glorious reality. Already a huge fan of "In Christ Alone" and "The Power of the Cross," tears came to my eyes when I first heard them in person, singing "Christ Is Risen, He Is Risen, Indeed,"--just look at & listen to these rich lyrics!

Just like I have been trying to prepare for Sunday worship by having my weekly cleaning completed by Saturday evening and extending that by doing the 4-week challenge, I'm going to try to read and listen to only Christ-focussed material and music during these remaining weeks leading up to Easter.

In the midst of those efforts, I'm so thankful that it's not my faltering attempts that earn me favor with my Savior. In fact, this past week, I've failed miserably in many areas, including my cleaning goals and a restful, Christ-focused Sunday (today). I'm so thankful for God's 
grace--my key word for 2013!

Do you celebrate Lent? How does your family prepare for Easter? I'd love to read your own insights and traditions!