The Blessing of being a Sitter... You should become one.

A few months into my marriage I was approached by my friend Paula Mason, our Pastor's wife. 

She wondered if I would be interested in coming over once a week to hang out with her kids, ask her questions about being a wife and what it was like to raise a family. She had done the same thing with another young married in the church who just had her first child.

Now,  I'm not the baby sitter type.

In fact I don't think I really liked children one on one until I had my own. I could teach Children's church till I was blue in the face... but me... watching children... one on one for hours?
And... not getting paid for it?

Yea, that was one of my nightmares I had on a regular basis.

But, being a wife... that was something I was learning and I wasn't too great at it yet so free advice and wisdom sounded like a really good idea.

So, every Wednesday for the next two years I spent a few hours with three of my most favorite kids.

Hunter, William, Ellie & I in 2009

Bryan & Ellie 2009

Paula taught me how to cook, how to handle meltdowns, she listened to my petty problems and was there for advice at any moment. She encouraged me in my marriage, had us over for dinner... and above all, she trusted me.

Each week she put her three most precious possessions in her existence in my hands and even gave them over to us when they had to go out of town! That's trust people.

I learned that children really weren't that awful and she had set up for me the foundation to have my own children.

I often remember as she would rush out she'd turn, smile and say:

"One day someone will do this for you and you will understand what a true blessing you have been to me."

Fast forward a few years and I have my own little munchkins.

Being a Mother is a crazy ride. It's beautiful and delightful and hard.

It's hard not because children are evil (although some can be) but because it's an overwhelming task.
We are raising little people who will grow up and need our guidance. We are responsible for their education, their safety, their care and we are their first introduction to Christ.

...It's a bit daunting.

On top of that we still have a hubby who wants our attention all the time too.

When I became a mom I attacked it with gusto. I was going to prove all those other mom's wrong that children were not a pain or a burden. When people asked me what it was like to have kids I would sigh with happiness... not sigh with exhaustion and misery.

I believed I should keep them with me 24/7. I had them. They were my responsibility. Pawning them off was not an option. Day care and Mom's day out were for women who really needed it. I was doing nothing... least I could do was keep the little boogers alive all day.

Yet, as with most things, God had a better and wiser plan because I am a full fledged idiot.

When I started having children Bryan and I were working in our college ministry and had the beautiful privilege of knowing some truly amazing young adults.

Young adults... who loved our children like their own. Who walked with me through my pregnancy with crazy excitement and waited patiently till I was secure enough to let them watch my bundle on their own.

They would often call and say,
"I'm doing nothing tonight. You want to go on a date and I'll watch Elliot?'

They taught me early on that my thoughts about my "responsibility" were dead wrong. I was not a bad parent for giving my children over to others to watch (and neither are you!)
I was actually being a bad wife to keep them to myself!!

Young marrieds without children, 
Young college age students, 
Older moms with your children grown...
Let me tell you the awesomeness you provide young mothers when you give up a few hours of your time to hang out with their kids:

1. You give a young mother and father a moment to breathe. We aren't perfect. We are sinners and sometimes when our sin is flaring the beautiful baby we adore becomes something we feel smothered with. Sometimes just an hour away helps a young parent regroup... to refresh and remember what a delight and blessing their little one is. 

2. You bless our marriage. We don't ever mean and shouldn't put our kids first... but sometimes when they can't even feed themselves it's hard not to devote so much attention to them and share your time equally with your spouse. But couples with children need those times to remember what it was like to date. To remember that the person they work with every day to raise a family is also the person they are madly in love with. This little service you do for us helps us stay married and there is no greater gift you could give us.

3. You teach our children the value of marriage. Sure, our kids don't always like it when we leave... but when we tell them that being with Daddy is more important we are setting an example for them of what a truly beautiful marriage is. And Marriage is the best analogy that God uses to help us understand the importance of His relationship with us.
When we teach our children that our marriage is first we are teaching them the value of marriage. Teaching them that it is sacred and something set apart by God... just like they are. 

4. You prepare yourself or remind yourself (for those of you who have kids) about the awesomeness of children. While I thought I was just playing around with Hunter, William and Ellie for two years... I was actually learning how to be selfless, to put their needs before my own and also how to lovingly lead small minds. Kids require practice. You are usually done practicing when they turn 28. If other parents are willing to let you practice selfless love on their kids... by all means. Take it. 

5. You make a friend for life. The world is pretty evil. When we hand over our children to you, we are trusting you utterly and completely. That trust is special. We don't give it out lightly. You become a part of our family when you love on our kids and as a part of our family... we care about you. We want to know your problems and walk with you when you start your own family. I mean... we will kinda owe ya for all the babysitting you gave us.

6. You win over a little heart. It's a fact that any child you watch will NOT remember you on a Sunday Morning when you see them at church. I'm not sure why this is... but it's true. But, they will remember you when it counts. They will remember you were their friend and to them you are the coolest friend they will ever have. It's been almost three years since I've hung out with my Mason Kid crew... yet every once in awhile Paula will message me and tell me that they wished I could come over and play and that I was their favorite sitter ever. And I'll melt with happiness.
It's hard to believe the day Paula always told me about is here. That the people who have lovingly watched, protected and cared for my children... show me a love I am speechless at.

If you watch someone's kids just because it's fun please know the blessing you are to them.

If you've never watched someone's kids cause it's scary and daunting... let this be your courage. Call up your pastor's wife or the couple in your church with those twins...  If they don't say yes the first time, let them get to know you first and eventually you'll be on their speed dial list.

As part of the body of Christ we are called to be in each others lives.
We are ready to teach you what little wisdom we have and trust us... if you play with our kids once and see how awesome they are, you'll be back.

Right now I have to go plan a date for my favorite person because I got this text awhile ago...

Tori is one of the blessings of my life. She was my pregnancy cheerleader and sometimes I think she loves my kids more than I do!

Toto with Elliot in 2011
Toto with Ethan in 2012

Tori with both my crazies in 2013

But may she know... and may all know who have lovingly watched and protected my kids from our wonderful parents to our dear friends in New Orleans whom my children miss to our new ones at TCAAB who lovingly share their time with us...

How truly awesome you are and how I cry with joy over the blessing that is you.
You sitters... you help me be a better mom.

Thank you.

God bless and Much Love,


DIY Chalkboard USA

I love this project.

It's easy. It's adorable. And it looks so good people will think you BOUGHT it and you'll be able to shrug and be like, "That thing?! Nah... I made that..." 

I thought of it on a whim because there was some empty space in my boys playroom. 

Oh... this playroom. It's so close... yet so far.......  I completed ONE WALL today!! 
And the Hallelujah chorus sang out people! 

But back to the cute chalkboard thingy you are here for -

One of the main ideas I had for this playroom was something like this from The House of Smiths:

I built some shelves that looked similar so now I had this giant 15 foot ledge that went along one whole wall in my playroom that needed to be filled!

Thinking I needed a big statement piece and since I had made some map bunting on another wall I figured I needed a map. 

I had already made a giant Wall Travel Map before but that was on the other side of the house and wasn't really "kid friendly" with the sharp pins sticking in it. 

First I had to determine what type of Map I'd want in the playroom. I didn't want a world map. I just wanted the good old United States. I wanted to make sure I got all of the states though and just googled, "USA map outline" and this baby popped up: 

I sized it smaller then the actual sign I was going to make. I was making a sign that was going to be 18"x 24". Since I wanted the kids to be able to write around the Map I sized the map to 15"x 21".

Saved it on my thumb drive and printed it out on 18x24 paper at Office Max. 

Then, I ran over to Home Depot for some wood. You know that you go to Home Depot for wood too much when your children get excited about it, 

"We're going to get some wood Daddy!" 

Yep. And I don't feel bad one bit. 

I figured out how big I wanted my sign the night before and made sure it would fit into my space with all my other crazy ideas. To get all my ideas down I always have to draw them out: 

I knew I wanted a pallet looking sign much like my God is Faithful sign. 
I used better wood since I didn't want this to be rustic and needed the Chalkboard Paint to be smooth so that the kids could color on it. 

I grabbed an 8" Pine board that was 3" wide. 
There are usually three or four types of wood at Home Depot:

1. Dont Use Wood: This is wood that is SPECIFICALLY for outside. It's used to make fences and other outsidey things... It's been chemically treated and it is NOT anything you want to hang in your house. Now, if you are making an outdoor sign, knock yourself out. I personally have never used it so I'm not sure how stain/paint/anything else will work on it. It might, I just haven't tested it yet. If it works for you let me know! 
2. Really Crappy Wood. This stuff is like $1 and if you have a sander and want something rustic it's awesome. It isn't always level so it isn't the perfect wood for hanging things on the wall. My God is Faithful sign was made with this wood and I haven't tried to hang it on a wall yet but when I do, I'll probably have some issues but it looks great standing up on something. Deal with problems when you actually have them I say...
2. Pretty Good Wood. This is Pine. It's got notches in it, is kind of soft and if you are staining something it's perfect. I make majority of my wood signs for my business with this wood. It's cheap, I can get four signs for under six bucks and it's beautiful. 
3. Awesome Wood. This is the stuff that is normally on it's own aisle. It's smooth, perfect and pricey. (In my cheap opinion since it isn't under $10) Yet, if I make shelves that I want to paint white or something that has to have a perfect smooth surface, this is the stuff I grab. It's great. 

For this project I could have used the Awesome Wood or the Pretty Good wood. I went with pretty good since I actually was making something for a friend with the same wood too. I just was CRAZY picky about my piece of wood. I made sure it wasn't bowed and the knots weren't too deep to cause painting problems.

I had the Awesome Orange apron peeps cut it down to my dimensions and brought it home.

When you have wood cut for you it's going to have rough edges. Those big powerful blades can make soft wood like pine fray a bit. Super easy Fix: just sand down all the edges till it's smooth.

You can use regular 200 Grit Sandpaper (Always use Fine Grit Sandpaper on everything. Only seriously special projects deserve the Medium or crazy stupid rough sand paper. Learn from my wisdom, I earned it the hard way...) or I have a cute little Mouse Electric Sander. Adore it.

I sanded all my wood really well since I was putting chalkboard paint on it. It had to be smooth and I actually rounded some of the edges with my sander on each piece to make it look softer. I knew which side I was going to be painting so this allowed me to make sure I put the right side together since all the edges were curved a tiny bit.

I brought all my pieces inside and laid them down on my kitchen island to assemble. I placed the front boards (the ones I would paint) face down and then used my thin board to nail all the boards together.
I didn't take a picture of this step but if you need more instruction I did the same thing with my
Brother and Sister Pottery Barn Knockoff Signs.

Now that I had my wood together I pulled out my chalkboard paint and painted on two thin coats.

While that dried I cut my map down a bit, turned it over and using a pencil shaded the lines of the Map.
I shade the back so that when I tape my map onto my board and trace over the front, the pencil lead already on the back will be pushed onto the surface of my board giving me an outline to paint later.

See? :)

When tracing always check from time to time to make sure your image is actually being transferred. Never remove your image until you are sure everything has been transferred. Trust me on this one.

Once it's done you will have a nice pencil outline ready for paint.

I used a white felt tipped paint pen from Michael's. They are on the little paints aisle. The brand was CraftSmart and I used the fine line pen.

This part was so fun. I kept texting my sister and mom update photos as the US began to appear before my eyes:

Look! Alaska!!

Ta Da!!

The White paint looks like chalk but it will always stay there no matter how many times my kiddos chalk all over it. 

Once you have your chalk board you are ready for the most important step with any chalkboard project:
Seasoning your chalkboard.

It's super easy.

Just take a piece of chalk, turn it on it's side and color the entire board:

Now I always assumed you were to take a WET cloth and clean it... No.
Don't do that.
Use a DRY CLOTH and just wipe all the chalk off.

And then your chalkboard is all ready!!!

Beautiful isn't it?! 

And YOU CAN DO THIS! Go ahead... make it and adore it. 

It's helping my playroom look good if I do say so myself. :) 

There is my completed Wall!! Aren't you proud? 
You shouldn't be... it took forever. 

Here are the Materials you'll need to make your own Chalkboad USA Map:

Materials Needed:
- USA Map outline (Printed out to the size of your sign)
- Wood planks ( I used 6 - 3" wide planks to make my sign)
- Chalkboard Paint & Foam brush
- Pencil
- Chalk
- CraftSmart Foam tipped Paint Pen

Thanks for stopping by!

God bless and Much Love,


This has been linked up at The Happy Housie, The DIY Dreamer, Not Just a Housewife, Domestically Speaking and Made to be a Momma

Ugly to Awesome: Furniture Makeover

I've been spending the last few weeks (months...) working on the boys Playroom.
I almost have a whole wall done!!!!! Yay! 

Recently we replaced our old TV and DVD system our parents gave us for a wall mounted flat screen.
My husband takes a lot of safety courses at his job and he had seen one where a kid climbed up a dresser to get to a tv and... yea... It was a safety hazard.

Super Hubby to the rescue! Along with his faithful side kick they kicked our old TV to the curb and installed our new beauty on the wall. They are so adorable. Love.

When my amazing husband got the TV on the wall it was Amazing!
It was Awesome! 
It had two huge ugly cords running down my white wall.... 

Immediately I jumped online to figure out how to fix the problem. I could easily run the cords in the wall behind the TV but you'd need an exit hole and I had dreams of nothing under the TV... just open play space.

Yea, so much for that dream... so I needed to find a piece of furniture with cabinet doors and not drawers (like the one I already had).

I spent a few weeks looking at Craigslist and that turned up nada...

Then on one of my Thrift Store trips I found it...

and it was $6.99.


See, the Lord cares about the stupid things in the world... like finding a piece of furniture to hide a hole that I want to cut in my wall.

I've only had a tiny bit of furniture painting experience from painting a headboard and two nightstands to this old dresser:

It was going outside anyway to house all my tools and spray paint so it didn't need to be perfect.
Just colorful.

With this bad boy, I was going to put in a little bit more effort since it was going to be inside.

It came in pretty bad shape. It didn't have any knobs, the top had some water damage but for $7 even if I failed and this thing looked worse then when I started... it wouldn't be a huge loss.

First I tried to get out the water spots on top. I sanded it down  to try and get the top even again.
This boy was worth about as much as I paid for it... sanding into it revealed the cardboard underneath.

So, I primed it to hopefully seal the cardboard back so paint would be able to stick to it.

Fail. Then I got creative... I pulled out the Mod Podge I bought to use on the shelf section and painted it onto the cardboard spots that weren't soaking in the primer.

Rough cardboard does not soak in paint. If I would have spray painted it, the surface would have bubbled and looked terrible...

But the Mod podge worked! I am steadily learning the awesomeness of Mod Podge and all the things it can do for you. It sealed it so when I went to spray paint... it went on perfectly smooth.


Now I could tell you that I perfectly spray painted it and TA DA! All done... but I'm not that kind of person. I always screw something up and while I was applying a coat of clear sealer to the top the corner's paint crackled up. Bummer. 

I had to re-sand and prime it so I could spray paint it again.

But after that tiny hiccup it was all blue except the inside of the shelf!

I wanted a blue and white fabric yet... never really found what I was "in love" with.

I did find these orange polkadots and seriously, who doesn't love polkadots?

I wanted a pop of color to contrast with the blue and the white and orange polkadot fabric would be perfect. This is the tedious part of the process. I measured each space that I needed to cover with fabric.
Since I had taken the back off the cabinet to paint it, it was easy for me to get "in there" to cover the sides and bottom of the shelf.

I measured each side and the floor of the shelf leaving at least an inch and half extra to fold over and make a seam with my iron.

Mark and cut, mark and cut... then Iron, Iron, Iron.

But then you get to GLUE GLUE GLUE! 

I started at the edge that will show then slowly worked my way back from behind. I would put on two or three inches of mod podge than smooth the fabric with my hand making sure there were no bubbles.

I was covered in Mod Podge towards the end but that stuff is super easy to get off with just water so no big loss. Plus when I touched things they stuck to me so that was entertaining for like ten minutes. 

It came out great! It needed to dry still a bit at this point and my iphone isn't giving the best pictures but I was pleased with it and my husband was impressed so that's all that really matters in the process. 

I put the doors back on with their spiffy new handles I'd found at a flea market and this thing was ready for it's new home! 

So, the cords are still there but they won't be for long.
All in all I think it turned out great and I didn't accidentally paint a family heirloom...
so that is always a win.
It's definitely worth at least $15 now!

God bless and Much Love,