I Am Woman.

I’m not sure how to start this. How do you address a month+ gap in writing? Maybe we can just not address it and sweep it under the rug? Heh

Well, part most of my absence can be explained by my starting work in the past month and a half. My husband and I had been talking about it for a couple of months or so before I started and I have to tell you, I was so nervous to start. I didn’t want to have to work and I was sad for the times that I wouldn’t be able to see my beautiful family.

I ended up getting a part-time afternoon/evening job at a company that I had worked at previously and that was happy to have me back. The thought of giving up family dinners a couple of times a week broke my heart. The thought of not seeing my husband when he got home from work on those nights made me sad. I wept when he, in a proud and encouraging way, called me an “official working mom” the night before I started.

Fast forward to now, and I love my job. We have a new normal in our routine and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on as much family time as I feared. In fact, I feel more purposeful with my time now that I am gone several hours a week. I knew when I had started work that being a stay-at-home-mom was draining on me most days, and though that is still my title for half the week, it feels like it doesn’t take as much of a toll on me. It feels like I have found a nice balance in my life with this new job.

Since I start working (even as little as I do), I feel more confident, have more boldness, feel like a better mom, am a better worker, and feel slightly more satisfied with myself. I feel empowered.

But here’s the thing. I don’t need to be a working mom to feel empowered. I don’t need to work outside the house to feel like I have a purpose. I don’t need to contribute financially to the house to feel like I’m doing something.

My body has the power to grow life and then sustain it. Shouldn’t that be enough to make me feel empowered?

I love being a mom to my boys. God has blessed me with the most amazing ones and I can’t believe I get to kiss those faces every day! But occasionally, in the midst of all the exhaustion and chaotic monotony, I would feel like what I was doing at home with the boys simply wasn’t enough.

Where did that lie come from?

It’s election day and I can’t help but think that tomorrow I may wake up to news that we will be getting our first woman president. Yet, I wonder why one woman is being praised for running for office simply because she is a woman, when eight years ago there was another woman running for a position almost as prominent and she was ridiculed because she her accent made her seem less educated. (This is not a political statement, just a view on how we, as women, view women.)

Since I had my boys, I have been asked by many well-meaning women if I work. Most of the times, it’s an innocent question just to make small talk, but sometimes it felt like I had to justify myself when saying that I’m staying at home with my boys.

I have never had a man tell me that I wasn’t good enough at something (or if one has, I gave him a look and moved on, forgetting all about it). A man cannot know what a woman is. Yet, over my lifetime, girls and women have done things and said things that stick with me and make me wonder about myself.No rejection stings more than from someone of my own gender.

And why?

There is no rule for what a woman should be, do, or how she should dress or act in her life. (I believe in modesty and acting in certain ways, but that’s not what I’m referring to.) 

I’m talking about the times I was teased in 4th grade for how I wore my hair.

I’m talking about the cheerleaders in middle school who were snubbed by other girls who insisted that cheerleading was not as a sport and soccer was a way better option.

I’m talking about the virgin in high school that other girls made fun of, unaware that it was her choice to remain that way.

I’m talking about the pregnant teen who other girls labeled irresponsible and shamed her for the life she has inside of her.

I’m talking about the women in college who wanted to major in chemical engineering and were told it was too hard by other women.

I’m talking about the woman who didn’t go to college because she chose to get married young and be a housewife.

I’m talking about the woman who is still single because she has no interest in committing at this time in her life.

I’m talking about the woman who wants so badly to have a life companion and is told by women that she is not independent enough.

I’m talking about the mom who formula feeds for no reason other than she doesn’t want to breastfeed and is judged for her decision, despite her healthy kids.

I’m talking about the mom who breastfeeds, baby wears, and uses cloth diapers who is viewed as over-the-top.

I’m talking about the single mom who other moms feel like she just isn’t good enough.

I’m talking about the CEO of a start-up who hears whispers of women saying she works too much and is not a good enough mom.

I’m talking about the vice presidential candidate who was mocked because other women thought she was weird.

I’m talking about the middle-aged woman who is still a stay-at-home-mom even though her youngest is in high school.

Why do we, as women, feel the need to berate or belittle other women because of their life choices? Why do we question their success and their methods? Why do we find fault in what they do? Why do we feel the need to dwell on their mistakes or faults?

I am strong, emotional, a self-doubter learning to be confident, empathetic, nurturing, a good listener, a tad insecure, and smart. I do not need to be extremely successful in my career to feel like I made a difference. I do not need to play with my kids every second of every day to feel like I’m a good enough mom. I do not need a woman as president to tell my future daughter that she can be anything she wants to be.

I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a worker, a child of God.

I am woman.

 

 

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Pumpkin Muffins – Refined Sugar Free

It’s fall, y’all!

(Sometimes I think I have a secret southern side of me that likes to come it at random times…)

With fall comes all sorts of things, like back to school, apple cider, and, I have no shame in admitting it, pumpkin spice everything. It’s been a while since I posted a recipe, but I am really excited to try out some pumpkin spice ones. 

To take all the fall in, we went pumpkin picking as a family last weekend. Joshua had a blast figuring out which one he liked best. 


This is why I love the fall. 🙂

So, back to the muffins. Here’s what you need:

  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 c quick oats
  • 1/4 c organic sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/3 c sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp maple agave syrup 
  • 1/2 c pumpkin purée*

*I didn’t have time to make the pumpkin purée myself, so I just used canned organic pumpkin from Trader Joe’s. In case you were wondering, here’s how to make pumpkin purée (which is much like roasting squash):

  • Preheat oven to 350° F
  • Slice pumpkin in half
  • Scoop out seeds and insides with metal spoon (rinse pumpkin seeds, lay flat on paper towel to dry, and roast them to get full use of the pumpkin!)
  • Spray some oil on the pumpkin
  • Lay flat side down on baking sheet and put in oven for ~45 minutes
  • You can test the pumpkin’s doneness by poking the skin with a fork and making sure it’s tender, even soft, to the touch

Making the muffins is pretty simple. 

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. 

2. In large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Mix lightly until well blended. 


3. Once blended, add in all wet ingredients (oil, egg, milk, syrup)

At this point, the mixture is more like a sticky dough, and less like batter.

3. Add in pumpkin purée and fold into dough until well blended. 


4. Scoop batter into muffin tins. Make sure you fill the cavities to the top!

I made mini muffins.

Optional: top with some cinnamon for some extra spice. 🙂

5. Bake muffins in oven for 13-15 minutes for mini muffins. If you’re making regular size ones, double the baking time. 

This recipe yielded 21 mini muffins and would make roughly 6-8 regular-sized muffins. 


Don’t they look so good??

Store them in an airtight container, and keep them at room temperature, in the fridge, or in the freezer, depending on when you’ll want to enjoy them. They last me about a week at room temperature, though I wish I would have put them in the fridge after 2-3 days. 

Tip: pop them in the toaster oven for a few minutes before eating to enjoy them warm. These go great with tea or coffee!

Chart – Conception to Birth Transformation


I saw this amazing chart of the transformation of a single cell to a baby, from conception to birth. But I took a closer look and realized how deceptive a chart like this was. 

From the looks of it, the baby only begins to look human about 2/3 of the way in. But, actually, nearly half the chart is taken up by the first six weeks (red arrow). For those who do not know, a woman is actually two weeks pregnant when she conceives. It may not make sense at first, but it’s a universal system that’s in place, so that’s what we count on. A woman usually finds out she is pregnant at around 4 weeks. If you get a fancy home pregnancy test, you may be able to find out a few days before. If it was an unexpected pregnancy, you’d probably find out a bit later. Regardless, by 6 weeks, just two weeks after finding out about a pregnancy, look at how much developing that “clump of cells” has done! It even has a heartbeat!! I remember seeing my first son in his ultrasound at 9 weeks. He looked like a gummy bear, jumping around everywhere! I was amazed. 

Back to the chart, it shows the weekly development until week 11 (blue arrow) and for the next two trimesters (29 weeks) it shows 13 pictures, less than one for every two weeks.

Would you have noticed that by simply taking a look at the graph? Would you have thought to check out the different stages? 

At which point does this “clump of cells” start looking less like just that and more human? 

ETA: This chart has to do with the stages of development. A – that’s pretty amazing, because 60% of these things happen by 6 weeks. B – I wrote all of this to show that transformation from conception to birth isn’t a linear process — each of these stages does not correspond to a set amount of time in the pregnancy. I’m not criticizing the chart. I think it is very well made. I’m just clarifying the different stages of pregnancy on the timeline and using it to make my point.

The Day I Didn’t Hold My Son

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. 

Sometimes I feel like that saying rings true even with my own kids.

I love my boys more than I could ever express, but sometimes I just see hear a little bit too much of them. I need time alone to recharge, and sometimes it feels like that time should last a week.

My husband and I have been toying with the idea of me returning to work part time. While figuring out hours and making sure my boys are well cared for are my main hindrances, I think about all the positives that come along with me leaving the house for a few hours a week. Aside from the small amount of extra income, I think about the time that I would be away from my family. A small part of me grows sad thinking about it, because I’m so used to being with them day in and day out. Yet, I imagine that the distance apart would make the times together that much more special.

Almost anyone who is a stay at home parent, especially to more than one kid, knows that breaks are few and far between. When I had just Joshua, his naps were moments of freedoms for me, time to regain sanity and accomplish some chores, do some schoolwork or just have a cup of coffee in peace. With two, nap times are rarely at the same time (if Joshua takes a nap at all), no matter how much I plan out the day.

This moment was so rare that I had to take a picture of it.

It isn’t uncommon for me it have to fold laundry without one of the boys “helping” or make dinner while begging Joshua to get out of our teeny kitchen.

What was once a mindless chore for me to enjoy (yes, enjoy) in peace and quiet, often turns into a battle where I feel like I’m losing my mind if I don’t remember to practice patience.

Today was one of those days. I put the boys down for a nap at the same time. We had spent some time in the heat outside, jumped and danced around with Joshua, and counting how many hours they had been awake, I was sure they would both sleep indefinitely.

Joshua never slept. Ethan took a nap that was half as long as normal.

I was tired as it was from cleaning different parts of the house all day and even more frustrated by this lack of quiet time. I brought the boys downstairs while I finished folding laundry. Ethan has this thing where he doesn’t cry, he screams. And it’s the perfect pitch to shatter my ear drum. So I listened to that while I tried to finish my chores.

Eventually, we got to a peaceful enough point when dinner was almost finished where I made an alphabet tracer for Joshua with a $3 chalkboard from Target and chalk paint.

He’s writing in his own H. I think it’s his favorite letter. 

Wouldn’t it be great if every moment was like that? Would I value more time with them like that if I was away from them more?

The truth is, it’s easy to get annoyed when I’m trying to finish up dishes and Ethan is screaming bloody murder from the high chair, begging to be held. It’s almost easy to stay annoyed for the rest of the day at my tired baby, because I know that if he would have had a normal nap, he wouldn’t have been tired at this time.

But at the end of the day, I look back and wonder if I should have held him more, regardless of how I felt or what needed to be done.

See, back when he was in the hospital in January, during his first day in the PICU, I wasn’t able to hold him. I had asked the nurses, but from what I understood, they didn’t want compromise with all the wires and machines that they had hooked him up to. I felt so helpless, watching my sleeping, helpless, frail baby fight for his life. As his mother, my innate job was to give him life and I could not do a single thing about his condition at that time.

It sucked.

The next day, the nurse on shift encouraged me to hold my baby boy. I was as giddy as a child on Christmas morning. It was the sweetest feeling in the world.

This was such a wonderful moment for me. I held him for what felt like forever.

So, on a day like today, when I imagine how good it would be to get out of the house, away from my screaming boys, I find it important to remember that there was a day when I couldn’t hold my baby. I hold on to Ethan extra long at night, after he’s fallen asleep, and stroke his sweet face and hold to his little hand. I want to savor every part of him, in the moments when I can. Whether I’m at home all day or work full time outside of the house, I want to take advantage of the time I have with my boys because I do not want to imagine another day where I long to hold my baby but cannot.

Learning to Dream

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.”‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭16:1‬ ‭ESV

This October will mark four years since I found out I was pregnant with Joshua. It will mark four years since I realize no matter how much I plan, God has the final say.

Roland and I were newlyweds at that point. We were young and excited to embark on life together. Things were not always easy, as anticipated, but we made sound plans for the future. We planned foreign excursions, budgeting, home ownership, and eventually a family. But that October afternoon was when I realized that God had a completely different plan for our lives at that point, one for which I was not quite sure that I was ready.

That season in my life changed my view on life and planning and living for the future. I decided that I would not make such a concrete life plan for myself or our family. I would devote my future to God’s hands.

I would still have goals — reachable goals — in my heart. I would still go after them. But I would not tie myself down by setting such specific goals so that I could allow room for God.

And that’s great and all, but

My goals were too reachable. My goals did not make me wonder how I could make them happen. They were small enough that they didn’t seem impossible and low enough on my priority list that my world wouldn’t be shattered if God stepped in again and messed up the plans.

But I heard God speak the other day. “Why are you thinking so realistically? Don’t look at the numbers, just dream.”

The truth is I was putting my goals and dreams inside of a box just small enough for me to still have some sort of control over them (or to keep what I would potentially have to give up to a minimum). As such, I was putting God in a box.

All these years, I never realized it. I thought I was being a good Christian by allowing my future to be so open-ended, enough for Him to freely play around with it.

My thought process was not bad. A “Lord, guide me” approach requires faith that God will take you where He needs you. Acknowledging that His ways are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8-9) is biblical.

But I also let fear get in the way. For a short while, I was angry with God that October four years ago. I didn’t understand why or how He would take the dreams I had and not allow me to live them out as I had planned. I wanted my future to play out a certain way and it did not. I was scared that I would dream up another future that would also not happen.

The truth is, four years ago, I did not see where I would be today. In some senses, I am where I swore I would never be and in others, I’m in a better place than I could have imagined then. No matter the dreams or goals that I have today, no matter the plans I make, however detailed, I still will not be able to see four years down the line, let alone forty.

In the meantime, God is placing dreams in my heart. In some areas of my life, I feel more of a burning desire to just go out and do and in some other areas, I still have some apprehension as I wait for God to speak. Some of the dreams He has placed in my heart seem completely impossible. Some seem hard but I have a heart that is ready. None seem easy.

And yet, I have a promise in Proverbs 16:3.

I mentioned in my last post that God has created me (as He has created you) for special purposes. I trust that the dreams that He puts in my heart are things to further His kingdom, ways for me to live out that purpose.

There is nothing wrong with dreaming. There is nothing wrong with planning. But God’s ways are so much higher. His thoughts are so much higher.

I cannot continue to keep God in a box by dreaming small, by having goals that I can easily attain in my flesh. If I do, I don’t have a reason for Him to be in my life.

 

Four Truths About Self-Confidence

Throughout my public school education, I had gone to five different schools in three different towns. For all but one of those schools, I came into it not really knowing anyone. Yet, somehow, by the time I left the school, I had grown deep friendships which I still look back on fondly. I don’t remember ever feeling truly lonely throughout those years.

Yet, between starting college and where I am today, there was a change in how I related with people. It was no longer easy for me to create such deep friendships.

I had friends move away to different parts of the world.

I commuted from home to a state college, where I was hardly involved in anything besides my classes.

My church was small and growing smaller, and there weren’t many people my age.

My one job was a babysitter, so I had no co-workers to get along with. My other job was a math instructor at a company, and it seemed like everyone knew each other but me.

There were many times that I broke down, sometimes angry with God, that I felt so lonely in life. My husband had been with me through all of this time, but aside from him, I erroneously felt like nobody wanted me to be their friend. I felt like I wasn’t good enough.

This line of thinking showed up in other aspects of my life. Looking through my college transcripts, I realized how my grades dropped in relation to the seasons in my life and how I felt less and less like I belonged somewhere.

Things started to shape up after Joshua was born. At that point, motherhood had given me a new sense of purpose. But, still, I found myself wishing that I would belong in other parts of my life.

At the beginning of the year, I realized that all of these things stemmed from my own lack of self-confidence.

I wasn’t good enough.

Nobody wanted to be my friend.

Everyone but me has it together.

Nobody sees what I do and compliments me.

I was filled with self-pity as a result of my lack of self esteem.

The more I thought about this, the more I realized these things:

1. It comes from myself. 

For years, I had been looking for someone to validate me. I wanted someone to call me their friend so I could feel good about myself. I wanted someone to see what I had accomplished and be genuinely amazed by it. I wanted to know that I was good enough in the eyes of others.

Yet, self-confidence has nothing to do with anybody else. It begins with me.

Looking back, I realized that I did have many opportunities to get connected with others at work or school. There were skiing trips and lunches with the staff at my job (albeit, they were on Sundays during church). There were oodles (oodles?) of clubs at my school. I had even joined one for a semester. But I found it hard to go back. I saw plenty of familiar faces at school each day but did nothing to further the relationship.

These things were all out of my comfort zone.

I remember thinking “I’m a nice person. I’m a good friend. Why don’t people see that?”

I realized I had to step out of my comfort zone for the first step of confidence. If I believe that I was nice and a good friend, I had to show it, regardless of what the other person might say. Chances are, it would make them feel pretty good, anyway. 

Once I took that first step into the unknown, to be the first one to reach out to someone instead of waiting for them to guess that I’m a nice enough person to get to know, I realized how much fuller my life could be.

2. I don’t need to advertise it. 

Sure, stepping out of my comfort zone was a conscious decision. Sure, I had to choose to be confident in the person I was. But I didn’t need to read a thousand encouraging quotes on it, let alone post them all on social media within an hour.

I didn’t have to tell everybody, “oh hey guys, I’m choosing to embrace who I am, so watch out world!”

No, I simply exuded it.

I know it did because of how my relationships with others grew. There wasn’t a switch that was flipped, but I know that allowing myself to be the person I was helped for people to be able to connect with me, and it’s made a world of difference.

It was only after making that conscious decision to not be afraid to be friendly that I realized people did see me. They did compliment me. They told me things that I had wished I heard for years before that. Whether or not people saw that I was trying to be more outgoing, they saw me approachable enough to encourage me in many ways.

3. It does not mean I am not broken.

I think the biggest realization that I’ve had about self-confidence is accepting every part of me, flaws and all.

Back when Ethan was born and nursing all the time, I would scroll through Pinterest to pass time. There, I was able to easily find perfect pictures from perfect blog posts about perfect moms and their perfect schedules for their perfect kids. It crushed me.

But I had realized one day that no matter what it looked like, we are all human, and I doubt that those moms feel like they’re perfect. I know that because I felt far from perfect. I felt very broken and I knew I couldn’t be alone.

And yet, in the midst of that brokenness, I found I was able to accept the person I was. That is what made me confident. My ability to go through a (very occasional, perhaps hypothetical) day with no tantrums and with a clean house and dinner on the table by 6 makes me feel accomplished, but it doesn’t lend to my self-confidence.

4. It does not make me self-sustainable. 

If you are reading this as a self-help post, please stop. This is not a post how developing self-confidence has made me such a happy person.

The truth is, it’s still a conscious decision to step out of my comfort zone. I have flaws and I certainly don’t have it all together.

In fact, through this whole process, I have realized all the more how much I need to rely on Jesus.

For so long, I had looked to other humans and have quietly sought affirmation and validation. My first step was realizing that I didn’t need any of that to be confident.

But after I realized I did not have to be dependent on people, I was able to depend on my God.

He is the reason why I am here today. He is the reason why live where I do with the precious family I live with. He is the reason I am able to accept my flaws. He is the reason why I rejoice, because it is not my lack of self-confidence that defined me or the dirty dishes on my sink that defines me. He saw who I was in my lowest points. He died for me because somehow, when I didn’t think I was worthy enough, He knew that I was. He reminds me that no matter how I feel, we are all His creation and I should never feel less than because I am not.

As I said before, I don’t have it all figured out. I am not perfect nor do I claim to be. But God has created me for special purposes and I will not let a sense of false humility stifle me from doing my part to shine. It is because of Him that I know my validation is so far beyond what others think of me. For that, I am confident.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/eph.2.8-10.esv

 

 

 

 

 

A Playroom Makeover For My Boys

I had the age-old issue of not feeling like there was not enough space in my home for my growing family. Downstairs, we have a decent size living room and dining room and a tiny kitchen. Upstairs, our bedroom is large, the boy’s bedroom is on the smaller side, and we have an extra [small] room that was used as an office when I was finishing up my degree.

Since I graduated, I didn’t have as much use for the office. After a year, it became more of a storehouse for things we needed to get out of the way. The door was always closed because I was afraid to face what was inside and a bit ashamed by what it looked like.

This room is tiny. I did the math and it’s approximately 70-75 square feet. And, clearly, there was a lot of stuff in the room. First off, we had the beautiful 5-ft Hemnes desk from IKEA, an 8-drawer dresser (over four feet wide) that I was in the process of refurbishing to sell before having Ethan, and another dresser by Hemnes in the little nook in the room (not pictured). This space was also not being used to its potential.

Since turning 3, Joshua has taken less and less naps. The boys share a room and Ethan is a light sleeper, so if Joshua’s not sleeping when Ethan is and they’re in the same room, Ethan almost always wake up early. I try to call it a “quiet time” but it’s hard for a 3-year-old to be that quiet and, more often than not, he wants to play with his toys downstairs in the living room. All that means I don’t get a true break from the kids, I don’t get to clean up in the way that I would like and I feel pretty spent by the time my husband gets home, like I have nothing left to give him.

So, a few weeks ago, I decided we needed a change. My plan was to take that current spare room we had and make it into a playroom/office where Joshua can stay during his quiet time. I wanted it to be a place that he never wanted to leave, a place where he felt safe and comfortable. I wanted there to be more organization, less clutter, and more open area for him.

So, we removed everything but the Hemnes furniture from the room to paint it a light blue/green color (Sunken Pool by Behr).

IMG_6625

I found out two things at this point: 1 – the Hemnes desk was way too big for the space (so I convinced my husband for us to build a new 4-ft desk). 2 – I fell in love with the paint color, which I had not previously tested, and loved how it went with the color of the chair, which I had spray painted the week before.

After the painting was finished, we went on two shopping trips over the next 24 hours to IKEA and Home Depot. To buy us more productive time, we took the boys to the pool to tire them out (thankfully, the plan worked and they slept for THREE hours!). We went back to work when they went to sleep and literally worked through the whole night. Less than 48 hours after starting, this was our final product:

IMG_6641

We built a desk using IKEA legs (which we already had) and the storage “leg” by Klimpen, which was perfect for storing the printer and some books. We also combined two 1x10s and one 1×6 from Home Depot to make our desktop. I liked the light color of the wood, so I just did a few coats of polyurethane without staining it.

We used the same wood for wall shelves and got some storage boxes from IKEA so I can hide organize a bunch of my things. They’re sturdy cardboard boxes that came at less than $5 each and they fit everything perfectly.

We got a nice high pile rug for $30 from the as-is section at IKEA. It’s so soft, I feel like I could easily fall asleep on it! I was concerned about the color at first but figured it was a good deal for an area rug in good condition, and we needed one to warm up the place and add to the sound-proofing. We used a kid’s table (also from IKEA) that we had in storage from when my niece was little. Not staining the desk meant that I didn’t have to stain or paint this table (as I had originally intended). I might still make cushions for the chairs, if I come across a good fabric one day, but for now I’m satisfied with how they look.

To display the books, we used a picture ledge (guess where from? ;)) that we had in storage from when we took it out of the boys’ room because it no longer fit. Since we kept the Hemnes dresser (which serves as storage for some of Joshua’s toys/crafts, as well as storage for my own “toys” and crafts), I like that the espresso color was tied in a bit.

We also got a hanging bar with hooks for a total of $2.99 from the kitchen section at IKEA and some pails from Target for organizing different writing/drawing tools. For coloring books and paper, I splurged on a cute organizer from Home Goods. Speaking of cute, I painted some wood letters from the craft store and put them on the wall with adhesive magnets to spell out the names of the boys. Also on this wall is my favorite art project to date: an old cork board that I redid with some spray paint, acrylic paint, and painters tape.

On the other wall, we used chalkboard paper from Amazon to cover the closet door. Once we got in a groove, it was simple to use, and an overall easy and cheap fix for a plain, unappealing door for the closet. In spite of the closet, though, we still have to utilize other space in the room to hang winter coats. To maximize space, I made the last minute decision to transform the nook into a type of cave for Joshua, complete with a mini road play rug from IKEA (a whopping $7.99). We made a “roof” from a curtain panel and added in his own little wall light for a cozy effect.

This room has easily become a favorite in the house. It’s definitely my favorite and I am proud of the work that we did to see this vision through. I love that there is a spot for everything in this room, so even when there are toys everywhere, it isn’t difficult to clean up. Ethan loves crawling on the rug in this room. Joshua is obsessed with playing with his new play-doh set in this room.

The longer I live in this small home, the more I realize how little space I need in my life for my family. In an age where bigger is often equated with better, I find myself becoming more and more satisfied with the notion of living small. After completing this room, especially, I’ve learned how just a bit of creative thinking could be used to redefine the confines of square footage.

Moreover, I’m thankful to God that I have this place to call home, that I have a space for my boys to play (both inside and out). I’m grateful for all that I have, that I could surprise my son and brighten his day. And I’m especially grateful that every day, He is teaching me to be a little more thankful.