"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Little Treasure

Oh how I love this little girl child!

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But please little girl, I am starting to feel guilty that I don’t have many pictures of you on the blog. We could remedy that if you would ever stop moving long enough for me to get a non blurry picture of you! Would you start working on that please for your mommy? Ok thanks baby!


Your Mama

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Biker Chick

Nick has been dying to teach Isla to ride her bike for a while now. I had bought a bike early last year from a garage sale, and it was too big for Isla for a while. By the time she grew into it, we realized the training wheels were broken and it just took us a while to get them fixed.

Well we finally fixed the wheels last month and Nick has been working with Isla at least every other night with her to teach her how to ride the bike! I am really proud of her, when she first started, she would peddle a few feet and stop, peddle a few feet and stop, and the want to quit. We ran into this problem trying to teach her to ride her trike or her scooter and we could NOT keep her motivated to stay on it. She would very pleasantly tell us “Oh no mom and dad, its ok, I’ll just go and … (do something else)”. I think being able to ride along side her dad on his bike helped. Now she is going long distances and getting much better at steering and controlling the bike on hills. We are trying to do family walks/rides almost every night to keep her practicing and getting her muscles used to the motions of riding a bike and balancing.

Nick has also made a rule that “we always ride bikes on Saturdays!” So Isla gets so excited when he reminds her its Saturday. They are pretty cute.

Hopefully by the next update and the end of the summer… the training wheels will come off!


Also, because I feel like I could use some extra levity lately… anybody remember this classic moment? Smile


The older I get, the less funny that movie gets to the point where I can’t believe I ever liked it… however this “biker” moment… gold. Pure comedic gold.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Summer Fun: Andrew’s Splash Pad

Midland is very, very wealthy town. You would not believe the monster houses here… or how high the cost of living is! Last year it became that nation’s town with the highest income per capita… yesiree folks, fracking has been good to Midland! So with all this wealth… I cannot figure out for the life of me why there is not a single, water-coming-out-of-the-ground splash park in this blazing desert town! Ok its probably because they are using all of said water for fracking… but still, just one, little splash park for the kids to play in… is that too much to ask? I mean seriously, with the taxes I pay!

There is supposedly one splash park in Odessa, but there is no way I am venturing into an Odessa park again (my last adventure brought me just a touch too close to a tattooed, toothless meth head!). A Midland Mommies board on Facebook shared that there was a splash park that recently opened up in Andrews, TX about 45 minutes away, and so my neighbor Dawn and I planned a trip out with our girls. Mondays and Tuesdays have special ages 7 and under hours, which is so nice with smaller kids. I am sure that I am not the only mommy who appreciates being able to go to a park and not have my babes trampled by 12 year olds. I don’t begrudge older children being able to go to parks, but since they rarely seem to look out for the little kids, its nice to be able to let Isla run free without getting knocked around.

Poor, poor Gemma. She has a little skin tag removed at the dermatologist that morning, and so she wasn’t allowed to get in the water at all. I felt so bad for her, but she was really good. We will definitely be going back and then she will be allowed to run and play to her heart’s content! Once again, being the neglected, soon-to-be middle child, I didn’t get a single picture of her, but I promise we love her to bits!

It was a lovely splash park anyway, and the girls had a blast. It also had a big pool with a water slide. Isla really wanted to get into that big pool, but we are not doing big pools right now without Nick. She isn’t allowed to swim with floaties anymore so we don’t ruin what she is learning in her lessons, and she isn’t ready to swim completely unsupervised so until then, we need at least one adult for Isla and one adult for Gemma. I really want to come back with Nick to spend the day sometime.

photo 1 (16)photo 2 (14)photo 3 (11)photo 4 (6)photo 5 (3)

The park closed at noon for an hour, and so we went and ate a picnic lunch at a nearby park before heading home. That was fun too!

My big girl had so much fun! She really is such a sweet girl, and I love it when I can provide her with fun activities that make her so happy. I love my sweet, joyous, fun loving big girl!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Too Funny

I think that good grammar is very important so please don’t think I don’t, however, one of my pet peeves are the grammar police on Facebook who always act so holier-than-thou over simple grammar mistakes… like seriously, you’re telling me you have never messed up you’re/your or there/their/they’re? Get off your high horse people! Everyone makes grammar mistakes. I’ve noticed them on every single blog that I read regularly at one point or another.

So feeling a little tongue-in-cheeky, I posted these on Facebook because I found them amusing…

grammar policegrammar-police

Judging from the reactions and corrections I received, apparently some people didn’t get the joke <smacks hand to forehead>! My parents always did say that I didn’t have a sense of humor that people really understood… well, consider that confirmed!

Summer Fun: George W. Bush Childhood Home

Ok, so I don’t know if anyone remembers this, but George W Bush lived in Midland for a large part of his childhood and most of his siblings were born in Midland. Its also his wife, Laura Bush’s hometown, and her 90-something year old mother still lives here.

I am going to decline to comment on W’s politics or my opinions on “compassionate” conservatism because this post is not about this. He was a former two-term President, and deserves some measure of respect. Politics aside, I think that the Bushes are very, very nice people. I have met many people who worked with W, and everyone agrees, he and his wife are very kind, down-to-earth people. There are people that I have met here, around town and in my neighborhood who worked with the Bush administration and came home from Washington after his term ended, and everyone agrees, he is just so nice and genuinely interested in people. This makes sense given the family’s ties to Midland because I kid you not, you will never meet nicer people than the people in Midland. My friend Dawn is from New York, and she told me that it has “taken some getting used to” that people are so nice, lol. When I first met Dawn, she was still trying to get used it, and confessed that when she met someone who was so nice to her, her first thought was almost always along the lines of “what’s your grift!?!”.  I’m from Texas and used to nice people, but people here just really take the cake for sweetness.

Another interesting thing to point out, the Bushes originally came from Connecticut and were old money trying to make some new money in the energy industry. There are a lot of old money families that came out here in the 50’s and 60’s and it really shows. For starters there is a POLO CLUB. Seriously. Polo. In West Texas. There are a lot of older houses that look like they came straight out of Nantucket, and at one point there was apparently a Rolls Royce dealership. I think the old money mentality helped shape Midland into being such a nice, clean community. It might be the “town that oil built”, but it is certainly not the “town that roughnecks built”. Just compare Midland to Odessa right next door, and there is a big difference. It is really such a nice, clean, safe town. We were told when we moved here that Midland was more white-collar and Odessa was more blue-collar… after having ventured in to Odessa a few times, I think people really need to reconsider what blue-collar means because I do not think it translates to dirty, crime ridden and meth addicted… needless to say, I steer clear of Odessa whenever possible!

Another side note – Bush Sr. has his presidential library at my alma mater, Texas A&M (have I ever mentioned that I’m a fightin’ Texas Aggie, lol?) and we used to see Barbara and him around campus all the time and especially at baseball games. Very cool.

Anyway, we live here, George W Bush, our former President is from here, and my neighbor Dawn and I decided to take our girls to visit his childhood home that has been made into a museum.

Our tour guide, Louis, was 86 and just the sweetest little old lady. She had a pretty hefty limp but she had no problem proudly showing us all over the house and explaining all of the restoration work that had taken place. She also attends church with Laura Bush’s mother. She was so sweet to our girls too! The house was not as kid friendly as I would have liked, and the girls tried to be good… but still, they were 3, 4 and 5 and there were a lot of vintage toys that they were not allowed to touch! Very hard for any age, and Louis was so sweet and patient with them.


I knew that the Bushes had lost their oldest daughter Robin to infant leukemia, and this was the house they lived in when she died. Honestly, I couldn’t get past that part of the tour without tears (and typing this now), I can’t imagine anything worse than losing a child. W was 7ish when she died and Barbara always said that his talking about Robin made it easier for them talk about her and get through their grief.


The only other part of the tour that I will point out was that I learned about the Roy Roger’s club, which W was a member of, and that I did not know about before. The Roy Roger’s club was a club for boy’s with “Rider’s Rules” that all of the boys agreed to live by.
  1. Be neat and clean.
  2. Be courteous and polite.
  3. Always obey your parents.
  4. Protect the weak and help them.
  5. Be brave but never take chances.
  6. Study hard and learn all you can.
  7. Be kind to animals and take care of them.
  8. Eat all your food and never waste any.
  9. Love God and go to Sunday school regularly.
  10. Always respect our flag and our country.

How I wish we still had something like that for our boys today! Sometimes I think that there is no hope for boys in America with so few role models for them and so few daddies who are willing to step up and show them what it means to be men. You can argue that those rules are hard to live up to, but I think there’s no harm in trying!

GWB’s childhood room.


Anyway, Dawn and I really enjoyed it, even if the girls were a little antsy! It was very informative and I look forward to bringing visitors to Midland there to learn more about one of our Presidents.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer Fun: Cousin Blake and Zoofari!

I know that one thing that I complained about Midland is that we didn’t have any family here… BUT, I did fib a little bit because we have been so blessed that my first cousin Richard works in Midland every week and commutes from Houston. We have been able to have him over quite a bit and we love it! We get to see him far more than we would if we lived in Houston.
Sometimes Richard brings his son Blake with him, and Blake comes and hangs out with us. Blake is such a good kid, and even though he’s 15, he doesn’t complain that he has to hang out with his little second cousins or his big, boring 1st cousin, once removed! Earlier in July, Blake had a baseball tournament in Lubbock and so he spent several days with us hanging out and then we were able to attend one of his baseball games. We watched the game for a bit and then I took the girls over to the softball field and Nick stayed to finish watching the game. The girls and I had SO MUCH FUN running the bases and playing with a random soft ball that we found!
After the game we took pictures with Blake. He seemed so happy that we came to his game Smile. You can’t tell, but he’s a redhead… Nick and I have redhead genes on both sides and I keep hoping we’ll end up with a ginger… maybe they will pop up with Baby Shaka?  On a related note, Blake is 6’2” and still growing, his dad is 6’2”, and I have another first cousins who is 6’4”, another who is 6’1” and several other tall cousins… where does all of this height come from and how come I didn’t get any of it?
One of the days that Blake was here, we went to the downtown library for Zoofari. We didn’t know what Zoofari was, we just saw it on the calendar and showed up, but it turned out it was a lady who travels all over with 6 or 7 exotic animals and shares them with kids.  It was very cool. She had a kangaroo, a parrot, and several other very exotic animals, I was very impressed… (I wish I could remember what they all were, that’s the peril of not blogging in a timely manner!). The crazy thing is that she had all of those animals, herself, her 3-month-old, and her mom in ONE hotel room!
Isla was pulled up onto “stage” with her friends Kaylinn and Hannah to dance to “We like to move it, move it!”
LOVE this video, I could watch it all day long. Girlfriend knew just what to do. Smile

We were able to pet a lemur from Madagascar on our way out! It was very cool. I have always wanted to go to Madagascar. I looked into going on one of our R&R trips from Russia, but the flights alone were over $10k… maybe when our ship comes in!
It was so fun to go to Zoofari and even more fun to get to hang out with our adorable cousin Blake!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer Fun: Trips to the Library

July really feels like the start of our summer. I planned so many structured activities for June that I didn’t really have to worry about filling our schedules and finding things to do until July. We are having a blast! Our mornings are filled with either swim lessons, play dates or little activities that I find around town. Then we come home for lunch and quiet/nap time (naps for mommy included!). Our afternoons are usually a little TV (30 minutes) or play time in the play room and then dad comes home and we go for walks or to the pool or just hang in the back yard! Note – no time for cleaning or errands…

I have a mommy confession – Nick is gone this week, and right now afternoons are Too Much TV Time as in I let Isla watch for 2 hours or so. I just need a little something to help absorb that energy. This is why I limit her TV during normal times – so that I don’t have to feel guilty when I really need it to help me get a breather. Like right now being 7+ months pregnant in 100+ degree heat without Nick, I need a breather!

We are so lucky to have Midland’s Centennial Library very near our house. Nothing is very far in Midland, but this is very close and its such a fun, nice new library. We have been going since right after we moved here, and we absolutely love it! Story Time is at 10:30 AM, which includes songs and movement exercises, then the story, followed by a themed craft, and then the staff brings out these huge building blocks that the kids can climb on and use to build things. It is very cool and free, and I am so glad that we have this resource!

One tip that I learned by accident – it gets SO CROWDED in the summertime. I can’t believe how crowded it gets. I accidently switched my days and I showed up for Spanish Story Time on off days, and it was much less crowded! Isla is taking Spanish in school and I speak decent Spanish so we just go on those days and beat the crowd, and as a bonus, expose Isla and Gemma to a foreign language. Isla kept asking a lot of questions, and don’t think that the reader appreciated a little blonde gringa interrupting and asking questions in English… but most of the kids were speaking English with their obviously immigrant/native Spanish speaking parents so I stopped worrying about it after a while. I think it was the interruption she minded more than the English! But that’s just what kids do, or at least my kids, they ask questions about the story!

Dancing to Spanish songs before story time!


Gemma mostly just wanders around and then moves from Isla’s lap to my lap!


A fun little tent activity with “snow” after the story (no pictures of actual story time for some reason).


Craft time! Isla is so slow and meticulous at this activity, she is always the last person done and I usually have to move her along before she’s done because the library workers are cleaning up. I usually spend craft time chasing Gemma around and keeping her out of people’s hair… oh boy, what will craft time look like when Baby Shaka comes!


The giant blocks! These are SO COOL! The kids always have a lot of fun crawling all over them and building structures. I always make sure Gemma has one or two away from the big kids so that she can enjoy her time at the library too.


Queen of the Hill Smile.


After that, we usually head home with a stack of books! We are allowed to bring up to 30 or so home at a time, but I limit Isla to 5, otherwise we would lose some.

This is such a wonderful resource, and I am so thankful to have it! Smile

Friday, July 18, 2014

Father–Daughter Date Night!

Every so often Nick and Isla go out on a little “date”, and when Gemma gets a little bit older, she will get special nights with her dad too!  This week Nick asked me if it would be ok for him to take Isla to the ice skating rink in Odessa’s Music City Mall, and of course I said yes. It was the perfect thing for them to do together just the two of them as there is no way I can do it right now and Gemma is still too little.

Nick and I both thought that they would probably get out there and Isla would fall a bunch, get cold and they would be done in 30 minutes. To both of our surprises, they went out onto the rink at around 6:30 tonight and I didn’t get a text that they were heading home until after 9!

Isla had so much fun ice skating like “Caillou”, and she definitely improved as the night went on.  She came home and showed me all 25 of the videos that Nick took of her one by one, and there was definite improvement! She also asked me if I would come and watch her ice skate some timeSmile.

On their way out, Isla came out of the laundry room with the hat on herself. She also wanted to bring her brush – makes sense, who doesn’t need to do a little primping on a date night?


Dinner at Fuddruckers.


At the rink!


I don’t often publish videos, but here she is at the beginning of the night!

And by the end Smile.

Such a cutie pie! I’m so glad the she and Nick were able to go and have so much fun.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

One Year in Midland

July 1 marked our first anniversary of life in Midland! This was a tough move and a tough transition and we have come quite a long way in the past year.

Its very safe to say that this has been a good place for our family. I can’t say for sure if Houston or some other place would have been better or worse or the same, but Midland has been good to us. We don’t know that we will be here much longer than another year or so, but we will always look back on Midland fondly.

The other day Nick and I were discussing hanging something and Nick made a comment about the state of the wall “…when we move.” Isla immediately stopped, looked shocked and asked “Are we moving?” We told her that no, we weren’t moving now, but some time in the future we would probably move. Isla made a face and said “But I like this house.” So we at least have one little girl’s approval. Smile

Our Right Now

The other day I was thinking about the friends that I had made in Midland. People in Midland are so nice, my biggest problem is that I wish I could be best friends with everyone I’ve met because they are just so nice and well educated and fairly sensible people! I realized that although I still pine for my friends in Russia and Houston and Louisiana and all of the other wonderful places we have lived, I have a solid group of friends to hang out with and who I can call in a pinch if I need help with the girls. That is a very blessed and comfortable place to be when you live away from family! Just one year here and I am constantly running into people I know wherever I go in town Smile.

Nick is thriving at his job and the experience that he is gaining will be invaluable for later. I won’t brag too much, but I think that people really like him and I have been so happy with the support he receives from his boss here, as well as the opportunities available to learn new things and challenge himself professionally… which he loves! He loves not having a commute. He always comes home so happy to be home, but still satisfied with his job, and we all benefit from his steady demeanor! It doesn’t matter where I live – Houston, London, Russia, Midland, I am always going to have bad days, days where the kids drive me crazy, days where I don’t cook and somehow the house gets crazy, and there’s something to be said for allowing Nick to follow his career wherever it takes him as long as it makes him happy. Having such a steadfast, cheerful husband who loves his job is worth putting up with living in places where I don’t want to be!

Isla and Gemma are doing well too. Gemma is still too little and dependent to make sweeping statements about how Midland affects her well being, but Isla is also thriving! That brings so much joy to my heart. Isla has a lot of friends, through preschool, our friends, some through church and others through the neighborhood. She loves her activities too. She just has the type of personality where she likes to “go, go, go” and experience new things. If we go overseas again, which is our wish, who knows what will be available so we are trying to let her enjoy as much as possible right now. I can’t wait for her to start kindergarten at Midland Classical next fall! I’m so excited to have a university model, classical Christian school here.  I just know its going to spoil me for all other schools.

We continue to love our house and our neighborhood, Woodland Park! It is so much nicer than where we would have lived in Houston since there just wasn’t much available when we came for our house hunting trip. I want to do so much to the house, but there’s no point given the length of time we expect to be here… but I really want to! I told Nick that if he chooses to stay in Midland when his time in his current position comes up, I have a whole list of changes that I want to make immediately. And we absolutely love our playroom by the way Smile.

We are also slowly finding ways to fill our time in Midland. Its hard because there isn’t as much to do as there is in Houston, but we manage, and we also have fun just hanging around our house and doing nothing! Also, not having to deal with traffic is very nice.

Our church is really lovely too! We attend Midland Bible Church. Normally when we move, our home church is the first place that we make friends, which oddly has not been the case here because its so easy to make friends and there were so many churches to try, but we still really like our church! We are slowly making friends and its been fun to go on Sunday morning and have several people to say “hi” too. Most of those people we met elsewhere though. I attended a women’s bible study this spring and Isla attended Awanas there. I am hoping after the baby comes and things settle down, we can join a small group on Monday nights, and Isla will continue with Awanas in the fall.

Where we were

This should really be where I was because everyone else seems to have handled this very well and smoothly. The truth is that I gave up the most to be here, and it was hard letting go. I gave up the last few months of my two Aunt’s lives (here and here), I would have loved to have seen them more in their last days. I gave up living close to my family and grandmother, seeing them more, having convenient baby sitters and attending regular family get-togethers. I gave up living close to my best friend (who has three girls btw) who would have lived in either the same neighborhood as us or one neighborhood over. I gave up proximity to other dear friends from childhood and college. I gave up not having a mortgage and all of the fun giving and travel we could have done with the extra money. I gave up living in a city with a hub airport for cheaper travel. I gave up being established patients of great doctors, and starting over has not been fun here. I gave up silly things like fun shopping (the shopping in Midland is awful), Trader Joe’s and Bikram Yoga. I gave up literally the life I had always wanted in the location I had always wanted. I also knew that Nick would love to go overseas after this assignment and if that were to happen, this would be my last chance for a long time to reconnect with friends and family for a while and have some normalcy before experiencing another culture.

I know that moving to Midland wasn’t a life catastrophe, but I’d be lying if I said that I’ve had anything other than a fairly lengthy grieving process. I know that we aren’t supposed to try to create heaven on earth, and I have never strived to orchestrate my life to get exactly what I wanted, but to have it dangled in front of my face and then snatched away was so hard and disappointing. I begged and cried for Nick to not accept this position and to take the other position offered in Houston, but I always finished with a pretty lame “but I’ll go if we really need to go.” because after all, it was in our marriage vows…

“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”

The thing is, its easy to be a submissive wife and let Nick take the lead when its easy, which with Nick it is 99% of the time, but it’s the when its hard that it really counts. I know God will bless my obedience to His word, and I’ll understand one day and see the blessings even when they are not right in front of my eyes. Nick and I definitely learned something about each other in all this - namely that Nick could make a decision that I hated and didn’t agree with and that I could still respect him and think he’s wonderful, and that I could be the less-than-supportive wife I’d always promised I would be (because you can be sure he’s had a front and center seat and sometimes been the target of “my grief process”), and Nick could still love me and treat me like a treasure.

The big difference in my attitude and happiness finally happened when I could just admit “I’m not happy. I gave up too much.” and I took it to the Lord in prayer… and I also made sure to ask him why other Christians were allowed to say “No, I am NOT going THERE!” and I never get to??? Instead of trying to buck up, pretend and try on my own be content, I finally took it to Him, and surprise, surprise, was met with no condemnation. My failed striving to be better wasn’t a surprise to the Lord, and once I cast those cares upon Him, things really started to improve, and I can honestly say that I am happy in Midland. I’ll be happy and fine if have to stay longer instead of counting down each day to the end of our commitment.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” ~1 Peter 5:7 (He really does!)

Or this one…

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~ Jesus

What the future holds

Right now the length of Nick’s time is up here ends next summer… and after that, LONDON! Haha, I kid. I kid. And I dream... No, but seriously put your entire prayer power into getting us to London! Smile Once Nick’s time is up here, we will decide where we would like to go based on what is available and what Nick wants to do and where his company needs him. We could always decide to stay in Midland as well. I think we would like to do an overseas assignment again, but that might not be a possibility. One thing is for sure, I foresee a lot more moving in our future.

I admit that I never really thought of us as “Wannderers” and that was just a fun pun because we were moving to Russia. Nick and I have had a lot of long discussions  recently and I know that the desire of his heart is to always be learning something new and working on projects that excite him, even if that means moving to WHERE EVER! Yikes. Its been difficult to wrap my head around that one especially as our family is still growing, but I love the part of Nick’s personality that makes him always want to grow and learn. I am in awe of him sometimes. He’s such a hands on husband and father, but he works so hard at his job. Just recently he took a reservoir geomechanics class to learn about fracking and related topics through Stanford, just for the fun of it! On top of that he’s pretty active and works out all the time and does basketball twice a week. Being a low key, low energy person myself, I don’t really get it, but I certainly don’t want to stifle that part of his personality… so I’ll support him where ever he would like to go.

We did love serving our church overseas and I would love the opportunity to do that again! I think my biggest prayer right now would be that our next assignment would allow Nick the opportunity to grow and shine in his job, provide us with the means and ability to easily expand our family if we decide to have a fourth biological child or adopt, a place where people besides my mom want to visit, and a place where we can share the gospel with the unreached. One thing is for sure, I am clinging to this verse…

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~ Jesus the Christ

Friday, July 11, 2014

Playroom Details

Ok, I wanted my mom to take better pictures, but she said mine are fine… my question is “are they Pinterest worthy?”  I think not, but this appears to be the best we can do for now!

I had so much fun doing this playroom. That’s the way decorating is supposed to be, not the twisted-knot-in-your-gut emotions that decorating usually brings out in me! Definitively starting with the throw pillows helped. I have wanted a playroom ever since Isla was about 5 months old and I looked around at her swing, her exersaucer and her jumperoo in my living room and thought… “Forget Isla, MOM needs a playroom!” I’m so excited to have one and so thankful that Nick let me have it. I know the girls will love it!

We visited Nick’s mom and dad for her birthday and then went to the IKEA in Round Rock that same weekend. Nick and I went alone and had so much fun picking everything out. I completely owe this playroom to three giants in engineering! IKEA, HONDA and my husband for his amazing skills at organizing… we fit an 8 cube Kallax unit, a 4 cube straight Kallax, two 4 cubed square kallax units, a LOVESEAT, a Lack coffee table, rugs and other accessories, me, Nick, Isla, Gemma, and Frodo plus all of our luggage INTO THE ODYSSEY! Nothing was left behind, not even seats that were pulled out to make the required room.  Check it out…

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I just want to highlight a few things, in case others might glean something from my ideas. I found all of the blogs out there so helpful. We all do things a little bit differently, and I love learning from other moms and talking to them, and then just taking what works best for us. Swapping ideas and sharing stories with other moms is one of my favorite things!

Some things I wanted in my playroom:

  • Most of the toys to be accessible so that Isla and Gemma could get them out themselves.
  • The toys to be easily organized in a manner that allowed the girls (or at least Isla for now) to put their toys away easily with only some instruction. BTW – this is ALREADY working! Whoo hoo!
  • The toys to be out of sight when picked up for the most part… It’s a playroom so of course toys will be out, but I didn’t want to feel overwhelmed with toys!

Some general strategies:

  • Labeled bins so everything will be in its proper place! Again, already helping EVERYONE pick up!
  • Three main areas: our engineering station, our kitchen/home station, and our reading station. These are three things that are VERY important to our family… I love seeing what different families prioritize! We are all different, all wonderful in our own way (cheesy but true).

The sofa

We ended up buying an EKTORP loveseat instead of the HAGALUND one that I had originally planned on. It does not fold into a bed, but since we will be using it 99% for TV watching we figured we should buy for OUR comfort. Once we arrived on the actual show room floor, I let Nick pick out which IKEA sofa we bought, since getting rid of his beloved sectional was so traumatic for him. He picked this one, and I was so excited to see that they had it in GRAY too! I have been wanting to do something with gray for a while now, but I haven’t had the opportunity. I saw Nick pick up a dark brown slip cover and look at it regretfully Smile, but I already feel like I am drowning in beige and sandy brown in my house on most days, and there was no way I was buying more of that color scheme if I could help it! Its really cute and comfortable and between that and the throw pillows I had bought, it helped me set the tone of the room.


Our Activity Table and Engineering Station

Our TV station is also our “engineering station”. I want to get a custom sign that says “GIRL POWERED Engineering Station” for above the chalk board, but that will be for sometime in the future. Most of the items in the TV stand cubes are engineering/building/math related. Its so important to me to build their math skills early!


I really wanted an activity table with a slight lip for the girls train set and puzzles and other activities where you don’t want things to slide off onto the floor, but all of the activity tables were $200+… so what’s a girl to do? We did our own little IKEA hack and Nick added a board around the edge (wood glue and screws) to a large LACK table. I bought a special primer and green paint (green for grass – I could also see the girls setting up their doll houses on it, plus the train) and voila! It looks SO good. I was worried that it would look cheaply done like several of the other IKEA hacks I had seen, but Nick sanded and wood glued holes and it just looks great! We also added a layer of polyurethane on top of it to make sure it withstands all of the toys on it.


Magentic Chalkboard and Art Items

If you ever want to do a magnetic chalkboard, message me first! This turned out to be so much more expensive, messier and difficult than I ever would have thought, but it works so… there’s that. We painted it on hardboard and Nick framed it. I asked for these four adorable knobs from the Land of Nod from my mom for my birthday, and we had issues with the hardware for one so its not up, but the buckets are for chalk, letters, numbers and when we get the last yellow one up, magnetic toys.


We also store crayons, markers and coloring pencils up here. Its very nice for them to be easily accessible instead of in the craft closet, and if I add rolling paper (doubtful)to the chalkboard it will be handy there too. We bought the rod and buckets at IKEA.


TV Viewing Station

I love these little LACK shelves that hold our Playstation 3 (and DVD player) and U-verse items, and helps keep the cords from going crazy although there is still room for improvement. I keep a few things that I don’t want the kids to  easily access above like the Playstation accessories and board games and other toys with a lot of pieces. I am going to challenge myself to get one item down from there a day so that they are not out of site out of mind.


Reading Station

Our finished bookcase is SO CUTE! We just cut out cardboard to fit behind the shelves, added a little bit of batting, and duct taped cute fabric around it! The shelves keep it in place. Of course we painted the bookcase gray too. I would eventually like to get the girls a little reading tent to go where the piano is. I have one picked out and we made sure to leave room when we secured the bookcase to the wall. One of our bins has musical toys and already the girls love it when I pull it out and put it by the piano or put on music and they “play” along!


Home Station

My biggest splurge was the table and chairs. First I ordered the chairs on clearance, but they were too big for the table we already had so I bought the new table on sale, and sold the old set on Craigslist. I don’t regret this one bit, especially since the old table and chairs were very rickety even with Nick constantly working on them. They are perfect for the room and for Isla’s age. The little girls will grow into it. Plus an adult can sit fairly comfortably on them and not worry about breaking them because they are so sturdy.


This is Isla’s pantry (and Gemma’s when she gets bigger)! Isla already has her pots and pans up there, along with her dishes and I am sure a few fake food items are not far behind. These are just IKEA spice racks that I painted with my leftover green paint from the activity table. We may have to take them down or move them when we set up our pink retro kitchen, but we have 6 months until then so we will enjoy them for now. At some point I would like for Nick to make a 2x16” shelf with a small lip to put above the entire kitchen set where we can put some of the bigger baby toys, including ones that roll, but I’m not in a rush at all. I am thinking we will do that when we set up the new kitchen.


I did buy two cube inserts that were made just for Kallax for bigger quantity toys! They hold SO much. Right now they have kitchen toys and doll toys in them. We have a lot of baby dolls around here, and we are sure to get more with three girls Smile. Isla is not that into them and never has been, but Gemma loves “bay-bees” and cuddles and kisses them and bounces them on her knee. At some point, I will probably move around the kitchen items and use that big bin for “pretend play” items like their Doctor kit, dress up clothes and other make believe items.


Toddler Station

This is our toddle station for Gemma. She is currently Isla’s little shadow though so she has pretty much ignored this and is just Isla’s best customer when they play “Chef Isla.” Smile


It was really fun just getting everything done in a few weeks instead of waiting until I had the budget like I normally do with the rest of the house. All of the furniture we sold on Craigslist pretty much covered the change. I LOVE the way things came together, and I love that I did it in a style that is very different from my usual style and in colors that are so different from my usual colors (green and gray). The color scheme evolved so naturally and perfectly! First the pillows, then I knew I wanted a green activity table, and then the green play chairs were the only fun chairs I could get, and then the gray came with the couch! And then of course we were able to add more fun colors in the bins and the rugs and other bright toys. That room is so sand colored that its been nice to get some real color inside it and not have it be so neutral. I do love bright colors Smile.

That’s pretty much it for now!  Now, onto making real messes and real memories in here!

PS and UPDATE: I made the Alphabet banner… I’m so proud of it. I realize its only tracing letters and cutting them and stringing them on twine or whatever, but still miles above my level of craftiness and comfort level. Also, here are pictures of the entire room again.


Pure and Undefiled Religion

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