3 Girls, 1 Room {shared bedroom makeover}

Our girls have always shared a room… always.  For Christmas this past year, we surprised the girls with a new room “makeover”.  It was very fun, and practically helped solve some of our room-sharing problems.

When Shiloh was born, she shared a room with us.  Then Capri and Shiloh shared a room.  But adding a third to the mix was somewhat challenging.  Not impossible by any means.  And now we have transitioned Leilani out of her crib, and moved the girls into a new sleeping arrangement.  All without using a bunk bed!  This was the “before”:

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After scrapping the bunk bed plans.   We decided to keep Leilani in a toddler sized bed, and trundle hers underneath her sisters’ bed.  This allowed the big girls to keep their sleeping arrangement the same, and keep Leilani closer to the floor to avoid the inevitable ‘falling out of bed in the middle of the night’ scenario safer.

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She has slept successfully on her new trundle bed for almost a month, and I think having her be right next to her sisters makes her feel much more a part of our bedtime routine.  She runs to her little bed and urges us to pull it out for her, then crawls right up onto it and puts herself to bed.  Its adorable.

My favorite part of the trundled bed, is that in the morning, Shiloh or I push it back underneath, and then the girls have their room back to play, and its saved us a lot of floor space.  The trundle itself is very sturdy and the casters we chose to use allow it to be pulled straight out but not be swiveled much.  It locks in place since its on a carpeted floor, but if we had hardwood floors in their room, we would have to have installed locking casters or another locking device.  So far only Shiloh or us are able to push or pull it.

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In our makeover of their room, we wanted to start with a empty canvas so to speak.  So we painted the walls a great neutral grey color.  Then we removed most of their decor and aimed for a simpler look.  I printed out a fun pic I took with my phone back in the fall of the three of them laughing and sitting together.  They LOVE having a picture in their room of them altogether.  I also printed out a homemade map print for them to have.  Shiloh and Capri are obsessed with globes and maps, so I figured it would be a fun addition to their room if they had one that they could read the names of the continents.

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Recently I watched an investigative news report about the hidden dangers of corded blinds, and because of what I saw, I decided we would take them down and throw them out.  So when we were in their room painting and rehanging curtains, we uninstalled the mini blinds.   If we ever decided to instal new blinds, we’ll be choosing a cordless style.  It felt good to get rid of that danger and not worry anymore.

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Another thing we re-did was give our little play kitchen a facelift.  Over the past 3 years, its been played with so much that all the little handles and knobs had been take off or broken.  So we decided to reattach them with some permanent lock-tite adhesive, and then why not give it a fresh coat of paint?  The girls hadn’t really played with it for a couple of months, but after Christmas morning, they now play with it almost every day.

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My favorite part of their room is the new reading teepee.  By removing Leilani’s crib, we had a lot more free space, and I have been wanting to put a reading nook for them ever since Shiloh started reading on her own.  So the teepee became the perfect, fun solution.  It was so easy!  Poles, rope, drop cloth, and a few screws and viola!  Done.  The girls now sit in there daily and read.  We even moved the pallet book shelves that Brandon made years back to a lower spot nearby.  Now both Capri and Shiloh can reach their books.

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Over all, I LOVE LOVE their room now.  Its quite the update.  Simple, and much better suited for their needs at this point.

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Authentic {A New Year’s Post & Photos from 2015 Roundup}

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I have been trudging through lots of self reflection as the year came to a close.  And looking ahead… for the sake of all things ‘new year’, a new word to use as a reminder of where my heart is leading me.  And my word is “authentic”.  Authentic.

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In listening to my children these last few weeks, they have been telling me a lot of random facts that they have learned from friends, school, family, shows, movies, and books, and after each fact, they’ll usually say, “its the truth”.  They take whatever is in front of them as truth.  Whatever they are told, is true in their minds.  I could tell them that the sun was cold and the clouds tasted like sugar, and they would probably at some point believe it as truth.  Little sponges.  Its a beautiful thing for them. Its an innocence that I will guard and keep safe as long as I possibly can.  But its also caused me to examine my own heart, my own words… are they truthful, are they authentic.

Brandon would tell you that I am sometimes too authentic… haha, see too much of anything can be bad.

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But honestly, I have a lot of areas I could grow in regarding authenticity.  I want my love to be authentic.  God’s is.  Jesus’s love for the world was so authentic it was nailed to a cross.  Fearsomely authentic.  I could use some of that practically infused into my day.  Into the way I speak to my children when they are driving me up the wall, into the way I tell my daughter for the 10th time to do something, into the way I communicate with Brandon.  Why do I fear Jesus’s love in those moments?  Because really, His love is what will renew me when I need it the most.  We all are drawn to authentic love, but perhaps its our pride, my own pride getting in the way.  Pride is not authentic. Its the least authentic.  Its very unauthentic.  You get the drift.

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I also what to live an authentic life.  I desire to look into the roots of why I behave a certain way, and start uprooting those things.  Replacing them, with God’s truth.  The last thing this world needs is another person who claims to be a Christian, yet fails to carry out the truth of Christ.  I can say lots of things, but if my words were truly authentic, then my life will show proof of it.  I can only imagine all the rocky roads that lie ahead for me.  But I always did like a challenge.  God has really just been convicting me of so many things, and also putting a lot of strong desires in my heart.  He has been bringing me to scriptures that are equipping me, and to ones that are making it harder and harder to ignore this whole ‘authentic’ ideal.  I desire to live an authentic life, have an authentic marriage, be an authentic woman, speak authentic words, and pursue Jesus with an authentic heart.

1 John 1:6 (from the Message)  ‘If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth– we’re not living what we claim.’

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And I guess if you know me personally, I should apologize now, because I am sure you’ll see me stumbling along like a drunkard, messily sloshing through life as I press on through this next year.  Isn’t that the truth?  We get all excited and feel like we have a clear vision… but the reality of what it looks like is messy and far from perfect.

(remainder of the above passage from the Message)  ‘But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared like with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.’

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Toy-Free Christmas & Limits

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As a family, we have so much.  So many things to be thankful for, so many blessings, so much love.  We have trekked through over 6 years of marriage, up and down, around and through.  We have triumphed, conquered, and won a lot of battles, and we have also faltered, crashed and burned, and failed in much more.  We have welcomed three incredible tiny humans into our family, and made a mess of parenting, learning as we go.  Lately, our hearts have seen a need in our family.  Its not easy to define.  The same way a smell is hard to describe.  But Brandon and I have seen it, and we both are working to meet the need.  Our little ladies feel like they are at a turning point where a lot of what their character and behavior will end up looking like, is being shaped right now.  Silly you may think, but we see the need for them to be urged along in the right direction.

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So with the season of Christmas upon us, we are taking every opportunity to teach them.  And we have seen how Christmas ends up teaching them back.  Sometimes it hasn’t been great things.  Last year they surged through an all day marathon of Christmas on Christmas day, and then for the next two weeks, they kept thinking every time we saw family, there would be gifts for them.  It was crazy.  We had taught them all about giving, and they learned to love giving, but Christmas also taught them about getting… and my little girls sure love getting.  Haha, and in last years case, they loved it a little too much.

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So this year as we approach Christmas day, along with teaching them about Christ, about giving, about celebration, merriment, hope, and love, we are also teaching them about limits.  We are gently showing them how limits work.  “Yes you may have some yummy reindeer chow, but no you can not have a whole bowlful.”  Seriously, I have to teach that to them.  My second born would eat the entire kitchen full of reindeer chow if we let her.  She needs rules.  She needs those limits.  So this year we are limiting the day.  We aren’t going to do an all day long marathon.  They can’t do it.  We laugh about it because for the last 3 years we have said at the end of the day that ‘next year we can’t do this the same way’ and then we end up putting ourselves in the same situation, haha, you all know you have done the same thing once or twice.  Am I right?  Now that we have 3 kids in the mix, we are finally limiting the day.  We are hoping by having a calmer evening at home, with only one big morning, our kids will be able to soak in the day and we’ll have time for them, for their needs.  To get on the floor and play with each of them as they enjoy their new “whatevers”.  To let the little ones nap and rest.  And the whole day won’t fly by without us pausing to enjoy it.

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Another new thing we are doing this year is a toy-free Christmas.  Call me crazy.  I don’t mind, sometimes I sure feel like I am.  But as soon as the words slipped out of our mouths, we both knew that a toy-free Christmas is what we wanted.  The way we have toys set up in our house makes it easy to do this.  We already have lots of great toys that fill up their imagination for hours.  The girls don’t really have any ‘wants’ for certain toys.  And we feel like by doing a toy-free year, we might end up stumbling upon some fun new gift that becomes a sort of tradition.  I definitely don’t think it would be something every family would enjoy doing, want to do, or need to do.  But for us, it works, or at least, we are hoping it’ll work.  We found great books for the girls, and some fun clothing items that they would enjoy and also need, and then we are also re-decorating their room for them as a surprise gift.  When you have 3 kids sharing 1 room, its a challenge to fit everything in there, so we are hoping to get their sleeping situation improved, and then put a fun place for reading books and story time.  Our stocking stuffers are all fun things they love like stickers, dried fruit, cookie mixes, coloring books, crafty items, hair accessories, and some of their favorite foods that we don’t always buy.  I am hoping that their Christmas experience this year will be a turn for the better.  That they won’t be as exhausted and instead be able to soak up lots of fun and love.  And they’ll be able to enjoy more than just ‘getting’ this year.  We are infusing their days leading up to it will lots of little lessons, giving times, and fun family activities.

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If I look back, I can remember the Christmas when I was 5.  It is just about the first Christmas I actually remember.  So this year might be the first one that Shiloh remembers for the rest of her life.  And I want her to remember great things, and to feel cherished, to remember being a part of it all.  I can’t wait for the many years to come when these little ladies will join in more with cooking, baking, and all the things that make Christmas magical for me.  Or maybe they’ll be like their Daddy and get in the season by finding a Christmas tree… or being outside in the snow.  Or both.  But we are finally taking the time to think more about them, and about being intentional with them for Christmastime.

 

Conquering and Building

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Not very long ago… perhaps 2 months maybe, we were hitting a wall regarding our little ladies.  Forget the cliche terrible twos.  Terrible can be at any age.  Trust us.  Am I right parents?  I feel like my mom said several times when I was younger, “one day I hope you have a child who is like you so you will learn how difficult you can be”.  Thanks Mom.  You win.

Sure my girls are princesses when we wave hello to you in the grocery store aisles.  They use all their polite manners when we come over for play dates.  But at home, in the car, and every little moment in between, we were at war.  And frankly, who has time for fighting, right?  I wanted to give up.  I was giving up in so many ways, and more like giving in so many other ways.  Brandon and I both were.  We were letting things slip.  “Choose our battles” we would say.  But the more that we let slip through, the more we just couldn’t wait for bedtime to come so our little ‘monsters’ would go to sleep and we could clock out of parenting duties.  I mean, literally, we were rushing them to get in bed as soon as dinner was done.  I am not exaggerating.

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Their bad behavior was consuming us.  We finally hit a breaking point… and I can’t even recall it as a momentous thing that took place, it was just a quiet ah-ha moment that we both realized we had to stop it.  We had to fight back.  Why were we letting our children set the rules?  Why were we letting them get away with terrible behavior?  Why were we allowing them to argue, to fight, to insult each other?  Why were we allowing tantrums?  We were tired, thats why.  But we prayed and regained some clarity, and realized that we needed to fight for our girls.  We needed to fight the bad behavior, we needed to do it for them, for their sake.

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So we began not allowing anything to slip through.  I mean, nothing.  NOTHING.  And at the same time, we began adding structure back into our weeks.  It helped that I could begin homeschooling at the same time.  School alone added the structure we needed.  School also added lots of attention and love into their little cups.  You know, those cups all kids have that need to be constantly filled.  We fought for those cups to be filled, for their days to be structured, and for their actions to be watched so that nothing bad was slipping through the cracks.

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I began picking up on what was behind the bad behavior, the roots of the problems.  I began noticing unhealthy competitions between the girls, or ways that they weren’t loving each other well.   Things that perhaps we have never taught them how to do.   And so we started providing opportunities for them to learn how to love each other in ways that we would like to see.   The results were immediate.

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It was a marathon of conquering the bad, the sin, the frustrations, the exhaustion, the confusion, and the ugliness that was creeping into our lives, our family, and our home.  Conquering it, rather than ignoring it.  Conquering it, rather than allowing it to crush us.  We conquered and then we started building.  We are still doing this.  I don’t foresee that we’ll ever be done.  There will always be something new to conquer and something new to build upon.  We are building these little people into who God has made them to be.   We are building them up, they need our help, they HAVE TO be helped in order to learn about who they are and what it means to be a young girl, a sister, a daughter.  We have to help define that for them.  We are guiding them, we are learning about their tendencies and their gifts.  We are learning about how God has made them in order to best build them up.  We are building up ourselves, building up our family and our home.   This can’t be done passively.  Although I do believe God can be working in unseeable ways, I mean, hello, He is God.  But we have to do the work.  No one else is going to do it for us.  We have to get off our complacent, exhausted, coffee loving behinds and get it DONE.  I know we can.  Jesus did so much more and overcame so much that He gives us the hope, the love, the strength, and the grace that fuels us during those hard and difficult marathons in life.

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“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”  -Romans 8:37

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”  -1 John 4:4 

 

How We Do Chores {5 years old & 2 years old}

I am a firm believer in chores.  I am pretty sure I had chores early on in life, but unfortunately all I can remember is using my Fischer-Price vacuum.  When I was around 7 years old I remember better.  My mom had me dust, unload the dishwasher, take the trash out of the trashcans in the bathrooms and rooms, things like that.  Brandon had daily chores.  Things like weeding, mowing, sweeping, vacuuming, and taking out the trash.  So we believe in the value of having our girls work hard and participate in helping around the house.  I can’t recall at what age I began having each of them learn how to do some chores.  I think Shiloh was 3 when I first started.  But lets just say these are the chores they get to do now that they are 5 and 2 (2 and a half to be exact).

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I usually try to time the chores while Leilani is first up in the morning.  That way they can get into their room and not disturb her nap time.  We typically start with them both helping to unload any clothes from the dryer.  Most mornings its Brandon’s work clothes in there, so they already know that those go onto Mommy & Daddy’s bed (for me to fold and put away later on).  Then we take out the family laundry hamper.

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One takes the clothes out of the hamper, and the other puts them into the washing machine.  I usually monitor the clothes going into the wash, in case there are any special items that need to be cared for differently.  Most of the time I wash all our clothes the same: delicate cycle with cold water.  Any stained clothes or whites that get bleached don’t get put into the laundry hamper, I keep them up on the washing machine so I can pre-treat them, and then those loads I do without the girlies help.  Anyways.  We start the load and they have a blast taking turns pushing the buttons.

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Then they move into their room.  With three girls all sharing a modest sized room, we have to keep it clean.  I have organized their toys into 4 totes, labeled, and placed inside the closet.  They both know which toys belong where.  Well, I should say, Shiloh knows.  Capri is fairly good at it.  But honestly, I don’t care if toys get put in the wrong tote, as long as they get put into one.  Every so often I re-organize them.  It helps that they don’t have an over abundance of toys.  I am strict about that.  For us, it works to keep the toys to a minimum and to make sure we have a small amount of toys that give them hours of fun, creative, and endless play.  Also, we don’t have many large toys. Maybe 4 or 5 bigger toys and those we have found spots for under the bed, or the closet also.  I learned a couple years ago that if I had a spot for their toys to go, then it made cleaning up a breeze.  Now no matter how messy their room gets, they can clean it up completely in under 10 minutes all by themselves.  Seriously, all moms need to figure out a system that works for them like this.  Its amazing.

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Shiloh has been learning how to make her bed.  Again, I don’t care if its perfect, as long as the sheets and comforter are pulled up and the stuffed animals are put away or put neatly by the pillows.  While they work on those chores, I grab anything that is on their dresser and clean those things up.  And then when the totes are all filled, I pick them up and put them back into the closet.  Capri and Shiloh then do a sweep of the living room looking for any toys left around out there and put them away into the totes.  Done and done.

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Next, we move out to the living room.  Capri puts books away into the book basket that have been taken out.  I let them have the freedom to grab library books at any time to sit and read to themselves.  So usually they have made a mess after breakfast and there are books all over the sofa and floor.  Putting them away is a perfect chore for little Capri.  And everything takes longer with a 2 year old.  So while she does that.  Shiloh sweeps.

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Shiloh hasn’t always swept.  Before I gave her my little hand vac and let her vacuum up the crumbs under the kitchen table.  But now she is good as sweeping.  I guess its a perfect example of how some kids motor skills need time to grow before they are ready for certain chores.  She is able to sweep the entire main rooms and also manage sweeping up the crumbs into the dustpan.  She misses spots, but that is fine.  I deep clean it myself enough that having her miss places is still worth having her learn and help with a majority of the floors.

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When the floors have been swept, its Capri’s turn to dry mop them.  She LOVES to do this.  She’ll actually do it for 30 minutes if I let her.

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By this time, the clothes in the wash are finished.  Just to give you an idea of the time, the cycle runs for 34 minutes.  So all in 30 minutes time, their room is cleaned, the main floors are swept and clean, and none of these chores were rushed… and with anything we do, there were lots of little kid breaks as they giggle and run around.  So next, the girls take their places and pull clothes out of the wash and put them into the dryer.  Its cute, with most things they like to take turns and switch around, but with this chore, Shiloh likes to pull clothes out of the wash and then hand them to Capri, and she puts them into the dryer.  I usually watch them do this just to make sure nothing that is suppose to air dry gets put in the dryer, or to help with any wet clothes that get tangled and hard to pull out of the washing machine.

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Then fast forward and when the clothes are all done and dry, I sit down on the floor and fold them up.  What works for me is to just fold up the girls clothes into sorted piles.  I save Brandon and my clothes to do later myself.  Then Shiloh’s job is to take each pile and go put them away in her drawers.

Like I said before, this is a typical chore time for us.  But it varies.  I don’t use a chart… my girls just aren’t motivated by stickers for these kinds of things.  Some days its just one of these chores.  Some days we don’t do any.  But I think the biggest thing I have learned is that they aren’t doing a chore without watching me do them first.  They have watched me for so long doing these things that now they are familiar with them.  And in some cases are eager to do it because they want to be “like mommy”.  Also, most of these chores I had to work at teaching them how to do them.  But it pays off.  It pays off to sit there and put in the extra time doing it alongside them because now they can do most, if not all their chores, completely independent.  I just tell them its time to clean their room, and they do it.  When we first began, I had to sit in their room, pick up a toy, and then point to where they should go put it.  So some chores take that investment time first.  Other chores they get to do are helping to feed Roxy, clean their hamster’s cage, take groceries out of the bag and hand them to me, put their dirty dishes into the sink, wipe clean the kitchen table, and when we go grocery shopping, they get to hold the list for me and help me check out.

I also don’t pay them.  Maybe one day I’ll give them opportunities to go above and beyond and earn some money doing a chore.  But for now, I am teaching them that these chores are just a part of their role in our family.  Their reward for cleaning their room is having a clean room (and a sane mommy).  I make sure I encourage them.  Their little personalities love to hear “I love the way you are sweeping”  or “you are really great at putting your toys where they belong”.  They are learning to take pride in their chores and have fun while doing them.  I love seeing their faces as they do their chores.  It says everything.

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