Daily Prompt: Fragile

How ironic that on a day like today, the prompt is “fragile”, on a day when I feel so close to breaking. It has been a hard week, a week that leaves  no reprieve on a Friday. A week that has left me feeling like I am running on fumes, and like my soul needs healing.

I am a stay at home mom, my kids are young, very  young. My oldest is 2.5, yeah you read that right, oldest. His two younger brothers are equally crazy and rambunctious 17 month old twins. I love my job. I truly take joy in the fact that we are able to make everything work without me supplying an income, that is a luxury not every family has, and me enjoying my role is also a luxury. I don’t feel stuck or bored in this job. Quite the contrary, I am challenged. Every minute, of every day. Did you know that being 1, and 2 is very hard? This week has been wrought with fistfights, and tantrums, and ornery-ness (is that a word?).

We played outside this morning, it amazes me how quickly everyone can switch from happy and playing to screaming and fighting. It only takes a moment. Four distinct personalities, four ways of approaching problems, and four different sets of skills. It can make for some amazing times, where everyone shines equally, or it can make for some epic meltdowns.

A couple weeks ago, I went to a meeting. We were all moms, we all had at least 2 kids in attendance, but my 3 decided to be needy. Who knows why, we can blame teething, or sleepiness, or any number of things. I have no idea what happened at that meeting, I didn’t get any of the information that I needed, I just remember what a mess it was. And then afterwards a friend said that it was reassuring to see me sweat. It was a lighthearted joke, a compliment of sorts. The implication was clear: I have my hands full, but I am rarely rattled. That mess of a meeting helped someone realize I was very human, and not the least bit superhuman.

If you have followed along with my rambling this long, I applaud you. My point will be made clear now. I am fragile, I am human. I have NO idea what I am doing, and right now, I am run down. At a Bible Study this summer we talked about how the strong women, the ones who seem to have it together can be overlooked, they don’t need the support, or anyone to come along side them. I am here to say that as that woman, it’s not true. We all have a breaking point, and get run down. And right now, that’s me.

 

via Daily Prompt: Fragile

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Happy Camper!

happy camper.jpg

We love to camp. I started camping when I was 19, and Jordan and I were still dating. My parents let me go with his family, and I have been hooked ever since. I started in a tent, but with the addition of 3 tiny humans in 2 years, we upgraded to a 5th wheel. Yes, I am spoiled, no, I’m not sorry, and if you’re not nice you can’t use my bathroom. Kidding, mostly. The camper we bought had belonged to my in-laws, and hadn’t been updated since it was built in the 80s. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the entire thing was paneling and wall paper. While it was a little ugly, okay, a lot ugly, it was perfect for our little family and was in fantastic shape. So of course, we decided to DIY it, and update it. The process was a little crazy, but I am here to walk you through what we learned.

First, let’s start with the before pictures, so you can really get a good idea of what I mean by “paneling”, “ugly”, and “wall paper”.

kitchen-camper

paneling-camper

Alright, we good? I have more befores if you realllllllly want to see them, but I think this paints a pretty clear picture. The very first thing I did, was make new curtains, and get rid of the valances. There was a fair amount of prep work involved in getting these down so that the walls were ready to paint, there were a lot of staples in the wall holding the curtains and valances in place. I am not a seamstress, so when I say “made curtains” I am using that term pretty loosely, but because I can’t sew I am here to tell you that you can update a space like this without any skill! I used hem tape, or stitch witchery, to hem the curtains and just bought a cute (and on clearance! Hobby Lobby is the best) duck canvas fabric to make them. Jordan did the measuring for me, and I was able to make all 14 panels in two days worth of nap times. Or roughly 4 hours, for those of you without napping toddlers.

Another very high priority for this project, was Operation: Lose All Paneling. We opted to go for a white paint, to brighten the space. It took 3 coats of paint to cover everything. We had started with a decent quality white paint that we had leftover from our Super Kid, Super room project. When it was time to buy more paint, I opted for the thick, cheap stuff that covers well. Also, we noticed that using a smooth roller, and a wide brush was great. Just be mindful of using a brush, because wood paneling has no texture, the strokes are very easy to see, so going over the brushed areas with the roller to smooth it out is a great trick.

For the wallpaper, we painted it. I had initially thought to cover it with a fun peel and stick wall paper, but thought better of it. I am so glad I did. The continued white throughout the space really ties it together and makes it look clean and bright. One fun thing we did decide to do in the kitchen was to paint the drawer faces and cabinet doors a fun color. We had leftover yellow from another project, and thought that it would be a funky touch. So glad we went with it, it just screams retro happiness to me.

Fabric choice was one of the harder things I had to do. I wanted something timeless, and fun, but that was durable, washable, and not $20/yd. I ended up choosing a solid navy (from JoAnn fabrics), and a fun green and navy floral (Amazon really has everything). These two fabrics were used to recover the bench seats for the dinette, and the cushions for the couch. When it came to covering the cushions, I was able to do the dinette myself. Again, I don’t sew, so we bought some backing, cut it to size, and then I stapled the fabric to the backing while pulling it taut. Worked like a charm. That being said, the one downfall is that by doing it this way the fabric isn’t removable so I have to clean them in the camper. The previous covers weren’t removable either though, so I figured it was probably fine. The couch cushions required a little more finesse, so I roped a friend who can sew into helping me. She did an amazing job! The finished interior is everything we hoped it would be. I love spending time in there now, and feel proud of what we accomplished.

dinette

couchkitchen

The final thing that the camper needed, was some love on the outside. I am not sure what color our trailer started, but it was a dingy brown-ish? I’m not even sure, but I think Jordan hated it more than I did.outside-camper

I can’t take the credit for the tips I am about to give for painting the outside. I did very little work, and even less research for this part of the project, that was all Jordan and our dear family friends. We found out there is a paint called DTM (direct to metal), and it is stupid expensive (~$45-60/gal, you need 2 or 3 gallons for a project like ours), hard to find, but can be sprayed or rolled straight on to a camper, or a shop. We chose three colors and went with it. Jordan used an attachment for his drill that took the decals off, and then pressure washed it. I helped him to tape everything off, and he did the painting. He used a paint sprayer that he picked up at Harbor Freight for $15. Worked great, and it only took a few evenings to get the entire thing painted. Start to finish we were able to do this project in two weeks, only working after the kids went to bed, or when they napped. Here is the after of the outside.

outside-after

To say that I am proud of what we accomplished would be a huge understatement. Through work discounts, frugal wife finds, and reusing things we already had the entire project only cost about $350. I am not sure what our next big project will be, but we have obviously caught the DIY bug, so I know we will find something.

Date Night Update

 

date-night

A while back I committed myself to dating Jordan again, we have been married 5 years, as of June, and with 3 kids under 3 we usually can’t afford a sitter, and truthfully ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’. The first date we put together was an at home beer and chocolate tasting. In full disclosure, J was not terribly excited when I told him my idea, he thought the two sounded weird together, but with some work and research the night panned out beautifully. So, without further ado, what we learned about dating, at home!

I wanted the night to feel like a joint effort, so I designated Jordan as the official beer buyer.  He headed to a local store here that sells a mixed 6-pack, with a list of beers to buy: stout, pilsner, IPA, wheat, blonde and amber. I left what brand of beer entirely up to him, but requested he get creative. This lead him to get a stout, that had espresso undertones, which was hilariously ironic, because my man HATES coffee. To say that wasn’t his favorite is an understatement. Anyway, because Jordan took care of the beer, I was in charge of buying the chocolate! The kids enjoyed picking out the chocolate with me in the fancy candy section of the grocery store, until I told them we weren’t sharing it. Ultimately I chose: white chocolate (blonde, pilsner and amber), milk chocolate (amber), orange dark chocolate (wheat), chili chocolate (IPA, but if you don’t love spicy food mango or a tropical fruit works well too), and double fudge brownies (stout)! We did try each beer with each chocolate, some worked really well in kind of unexpected places, and this will vary based on what individual flavors are in each beer.

Once everything was purchased, I thought about how to set the date up so that it felt like something other than just eating candy, and tasting beers. I printed out beer tasting score cards (6 for each of us), I used these and they were great. It helped both of us to realize what we were looking for as we tasted everything. Also, after the kids went to bed, I changed into a cute dress, fixed my hair and make up and did what I would have done were we actually leaving the house. We chose to do our tasting in our sunroom, because we have a table and chairs out there, and no television. We wanted a distraction free area, where I wouldn’t be compelled to clean, and Jordan wouldn’t be tempted to watch the game. I should note, that is where our kids play, so before the date I made sure to clean up the space so it was relaxing. To further set the stage, I played music on my phone, and chilled 12 glasses so that we had a fresh, cold cup for each new beer. In addition to the chocolate, brownies and beer, I also made sure we had a glass of water. It helped to cleanse the pallet between different brews.

To say that the night was a hit would be an understatement. This is now one of our go-tos when we know we don’t have anyone to watch the kids. We will pick up a new beer or two and quickly pick some chocolate to go with it and play games and enjoy each other’s company. This was a new experience for both us, but it helped us both expand our pallet, and understand why we like or dislike certain brews. When I asked Jordan afterward how he felt about the whole thing, he said it was fun, and that he liked trying all the different chocolates and beers. Most importantly though, it is a pretty inexpensive date. All in we spent about $30-35, and that was with 6 beers, a box of brownie mix, and 4 chocolate bars. This can be parred down to an even lower budget easily, but either way it is cheaper than a movie and a lot more fun. I have a few more ideas to try out (Rom-Com bingo anyone?!), so I will keep you posted. In the mean time, I hope that this inspires you to date your spouse, and gives you some ideas about how to do it.