Thursday, March 7, 2013

Life with Little Men

Posted by Devin
When I was pregnant with my first child I wished for a boy that looked just like my husband.  I used to say that I wished too hard because my wish came true.  4 times over.  Connor is 9, Caden is 7, Chase is 5, and Cash is 2.  Together with Jake they are the loves of my life. 

When I first realized I would never give birth to a daughter of my own, it was a bit hard to come to terms with.  No little dresses, no bows, no braids, no pink, no unicorns or glitter or damask print bedding... You get the point.  But there is never a day that ends with me saying "Well today was just wonderful.  It would have been perfect if I had a girl."  Of course not.  Nope, as I've learned, the gender of our children does not matter.  What matters is they are our kids and they are perfect and wonderful and all that we never knew we wanted just as they are.  And life with little boys, although hectic and let's face it, downright manic at times; is pretty awesome.

So here are 10 recent "little boy" things that I want to remember forever and share with you.

1.  Notes from Connor.  Connor has loved to write notes and make lists ever since he learned his ABC's.  And one of his favorite things to do is leave me sweet little notes in surprising ways and places.  The other day I packed a banana in his lunch box and admonished him before he left to not throw it away just because it may look a little brown by lunch time.  Here is the note I found that evening in his lunch box.

Another time Jake and I were heading to bed and found these funny little figures waiting next to each side of our bed.

 (Jake's phone guy says "your alot more handsome then me" and my scripture gal says "you look alot better than any girl in the world. even this one.")

On yet another occasion, Jake and I happened to be racing each other home and Connor, who was riding with his dad, kept lecturing Jake about speeding.  (Note: We were not speeding by much, but Connor does not agree with even going a few miles over the speed limit.)  Later that night Jake found this note on his pillow.

(In yellow on the bottom, it's hard to read and partly written on the other side, it says "hope I didn't hurt your feelings.")

Love that Connor and his notes. 

2.  Caden’s funny sayings.  Due to Cash's recent obsession with Yo Gabba Gabba, while Caden was saying our family prayers the other night he asked Heavenly Father to "Please help us be patient with Cash's baby shows." Good call, Caden, good call.

This week when we were running late one morning and I yelled out "Does anyone think they could put Cashy's shoes on for him?" Caden's reply: "Nope! No one is licensed for that!" 

And Caden's school paper: "I will tell you how to get out of hand cuffs. You get the key and put it in the hole. Then pull the switch. Then escape and rob all you want." He never fails to keep us laughing.

3.  A mason jar full of wild desert flowers picked just for me by my little men to brighten my day. Enough said.

4.  A special invitation to visit the boys' fort with them. It's pretty fun getting to be these boys' "best girl."

5.  Recently in the car. Me: "Connor you are just the best boy!" (He did something really sweet.) Chase: "But I'm just a teeny-weeny bit better, right Mom?" Hahaha!  If it’s a goal in parenting to make each child feel like the favorite, we are doing something right with Chase.

6.  What did Connor do that was so sweet?  Connor came home from school without his jacket, something that he has learned does not please his mama much. But where was the missing jacket on this occasion?  A boy on his bus became sick and made a mess on his shirt.  (It turns out he had appendicitis and needed his appendix removed.)  The bus driver asked if anyone would be willing to give the boy a sweatshirt or jacket so he would have something to wear and Connor was the only one who offered.  And this was no ordinary jacket; it was his special jacket with his school’s logo on it that he had been wanting for quite some time.  Nothing makes me happier than when my children exhibit Christ-like behavior, no matter how small the act.

7.  Every day when I go into Cash’s room to wake him up from his nap he exclaims “Mama! You found me!”  Every day.  It is so sweet.  This is actually a photo of him sleeping at our family cabin, but it's a favorite of mine.

8.  Jake works out once, if not twice, 6 days a week.  If he happens to be doing a video workout in the evening Chase will always do it with him.  Here is a picture of Chase AND Caden working out with their dad.  Too cute.

9.  Army men and plastic snakes & scorpions.  They are everywhere.  They may hurt my feet when I step on them and scare the crap out of me now, but I know that one day I will definitely miss their presence in my home.

 10.  Wet little kisses, big squeezy hugs, and “neck sugars.”  It makes me want to cry just thinking about them ever ending.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pallet Box & Bottles Decor

Posted by Devin
Quite some time ago I came across a planter box centerpiece from the Shanty to Chic ladies on Pinterest and fell in love with it.  After doing a few wooden pallet projects recently I remembered this box and decided to build my own using boards from my pallets.  The results were fabulous!  In fact, I couldn’t believe how similar my box looked to the original inspiration!  Check it out below, mine is on the right.  I could not be more in love with my new décor in my dining room and it is the perfect look for the approaching spring.

Another reason I am so proud of this project: I did all of the prying, sanding, sawing and nailing by myself!  No hubby help at all on this one.  

Pallet Box How-To

Materials Needed: 
2 wide pallet boards of the same size (mine are 5 ½” wide, 33 ¾“ long, and ¾” thick)
1 - 2x4” board (mine was actually 3 ¼”x1 ½”, but any board roughly this size should work, and I will   refer to my board as a 2x4” since that is SO much easier to type)
1 ½” nails (slightly smaller or larger is fine)
Hammer and mallet
Saw and miter box

Step 1:  To begin, I needed to remove my boards from my pallet.  I wedged the back side of my hammer under the boards near the nails and then hit it with a large mallet.  This took a little elbow grease and a lot of patience to make sure that I pried up the boards without splitting the wood. Thankfully I only needed to remove 2 boards for this project or I may have had to enlist Jake for help and cede my bragging rights to “no hubby help.”     
Once the boards are removed simply hammer the nails out from the back of the board.

Step 2:  After removing my pallet boards I measured their length.  My boards were 33 ¾” long.  I then took my 2x4” and using my miter box and saw I cut a piece of my board to the same size.

Step 3:  Sand all of your boards to prevent splinters.  I used an electric sander but you may choose to sand it by hand.

Step 3:  I took each of my pallet boards and slightly tapped 5 nails equally spaced into the bottom edge of the boards.  I then aligned the bottom edge of one of my pallet boards with the side of my 2x4” and hammered the nails in.  Once one side was done, I then repeated this process with the remaining pallet board on the other side.

Step 4:  The box is now lacking only the end pieces to complete it.  Simply measure the lengths of the pieces you need for the ends and cut off two blocks of the 2x4” in those sizes.  Place one of the end pieces in the space ready for it and nail it in.  Then repeat for the other end.  The tutorial from shanty-2-chic says to use wood glue before all of your nailing and you may choose to do that as well.  I did not bother with that step simply because my box is strictly for décor and will not need to hold up to excessive handling.

At this point my box was complete! I did not stain or paint or put any type of finish on mine as I was wanting a rough, authentic pallet look. 

Finding the bottles to go inside of my box was actually a little tough.  I wanted bottles that were slightly larger than average with a cool and simple logo on them.  I ended up finding mine at Cost Plus World Market.  I purchase 8 Boylan sodas: 3 Orange Sodas, 3 Cream Sodas, and 2 Black Cherry Sodas.  Yum!!!  We enjoyed drinking them over the weekend for a family night treat!   I also liked the look of the bottle caps so much that I made magnets out of them!  I simply used a dab of clear bathroom silicon to adhere magnets to the inside of the bottle caps and voila!  Super cute magnets!

As for the flowers, I found the exact same ones they used for my inspiration piece at Hobby Lobby.  Gotta love Hobby Lobby, every crafty lady’s favorite store.  I only needed 2 sprigs to be cut and divided among the 8 bottles and since all floral was on sale for 50% off I completed my project for a bargain price!
And there you have it!  Let Spring begin!!!

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Laminate Bookshelf Makeover

Posted by Devin:
The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and as usual for me this time of year: I am getting cabin fever! Does this happen to anyone else as spring approaches?  Jake says I get “itchy” but it never fails that I either want to go on vacation to some faraway tropical place or I start getting a hankering to move to a new house and completely re-decorate and organize it (we’ve lived in our home for 7 years and I love it but every spring I’m suddenly hooked to Zillow!).  Most years we take a spring vacation (usually not, however, to anywhere faraway or tropical) and the itchiness subsides, but this year we are not going on vacation OR buying a new house.  What to do with all of this energy and need for change of scenery??? Do-It-Yourself Projects!!! Yep, it’s time to get out the tools and re-vamp this house of mine.  And where is every savvy lady’s favorite place to look for DIY inspiration?  Pinterest, of course! 

I have quite a few projects I am hoping to complete in the next few months but my first order of business was a bookshelf re-do.  We have TONS of children’s books and unfortunately up until now they have been tucked away on a large, hard-to-reach bookshelf in a cramped closet.  NOT ideal for my avid little readers.  It just so happens that I had an old laminate bookshelf from our college days taking up space in my craft/laundry/exercise room that needed to be moved to make room for Jake’s new cycling trainer.  (This point becomes important to the finishing of my bookshelf project later on.)

Many of you have probably seen the various pallet projects littering cyberspace right now and I have been addicted to pallets lately, as you will see by a few other posts I plan on writing soon.  The inspiration for my project came from the girls over at Over The Big Moon .  I fell in love with their pallet backed bookshelf and decided I must have one for myself.  So without further ado, here is how I made mine!
Laminate Bookshelf Makeover How-To
Materials Needed: Bookshelf, Wooden Pallets, Hammer/Mallets, Saw, Miter Box, Electric Sander and/or Sandpaper, Zinsser Cover Stain Primer, Paint Brush, Any Color of Interior Paint (as desired), Nails.
Step 1.  Take off all removable shelves from the bookshelf and then remove the laminate backing.  This proved to be quite easy.  I simply took a small hammer and pounded on the front side of the backing, near the edges.  The nails came right off and just popped out the back.  Thankfully I had a little helper who was super excited to find all of the nails on the floor when I was done.
Step 2.  Paint the entire bookshelf using Zinsser Cover Stain Primer.  I researched how to paint laminate furniture quite extensively before I began this project and this step is crucial.  If you want your paint to last without scratching off, you need to use this product first.  Simply using a regular interior paint or a spray paint on laminate furniture will not hold up for long.  And since my bookshelf is going to be used by 4 rough little boys, I want my paint job to stand the abuse.  I only used 1 coat of the primer as it seemed to cover quite well. 

IMPORTANT:  Make sure you have some paint thinner or mineral oil on hand before you begin this step.  I did not realize that you cannot clean your brush or hands with water, the primer will not come off.  Here is a pic of my hand with a bunch of primer stuck to it after I had scrubbed and scrubbed trying to get it off with water.  Thankfully I found some paint thinner in my garage and once I used it the primer came right out of my brush (and off my hand).

Step 3.  Paint your bookshelf the color of your choice.  I used a low sheen interior paint from Dunn Edwards in Navajo White (the same color as the trim in my home).  I painted 2 coats on everything to make sure there was good coverage. 

Step 4.  Disassemble your pallets. 
See Jake’s bicycle trainer box on the right side of the previous picture?  Here is where that becomes crucial to my project.  Jake was chomping at the bit to start using his new trainer and that couldn’t happen until I had completed the offensive bookshelf and removed it from the room.  Now that is what I call hubby motivation!  Jake was quite willing to help me with the remainder of my project and thankfully I did not have to disassemble the pallets on my own.  It was a bit of a tough job at first.  Jake had a hard time removing the planks of wood from the pallets without splitting them.  But he seemed to get the hang of it after about 10 minutes of experimentation and before I knew it he had 2 full pallets disassembled and plenty of wood ready for the back of my bookshelf.  Jake used a large hammer and a mallet to pry the pallets apart.

Step 5.  Cut the boards to size.  Simply measure the back of your bookshelf from outer edge to outer edge and cut each of your boards to that measurement.  This step did not take long and we used a hand saw and a miter box.  If you have power tools on hand this step would go even quicker.

Step 6.  Sand your boards.  We used an electric sander which made this quick and easy.  I did not want my boards to look perfect as I was going for a bit of a rough look, but I also did not want my boys to get any splinters from the wood.  If you do not have an electric sander, you can sand by hand with a heavier grade sand paper.

Step 7.  Lay your boards out in the order you want them to go on your bookshelf.  You may not care how the boards line up but I laid mine out so that they varied in color nicely and the nail holes did not all line up in a straight line.

Step 8.  Nail your boards on to your bookshelf.  I laid a blanket out on the floor to protect my bookshelf from scratching and then placed my bookshelf face down on the blanket.  I then arranged the boards in the order I wanted them on the back of the bookshelf and Jake helped me hammer them in to the edges of the bookshelf.  Make sure your nails are long enough to go through your boards and into the particle board.  My nails were 2” long.

Stand your bookshelf back up and you are done!  You will notice that the bookshelf is actually much sturdier with the pallet back than with the flimsy backing it originally came with.

Here is the bookshelf in its’ new home (my younger 2 boys’ cowboy bedroom) covered with their books.  They love having their books so accessible now, I love the new look of the bookshelf, and Jake loves having his trainer set up! The whole family won on this project!


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