Lessons Learned The Hard Way: How NOT To Strip A Bar Stool

I wasn’t going to share this, but since in the real world, DIY projects do not always go as planned, I thought it necessary to share how I got a little over confident and made an incorrect assumption during one of my recent endeavors.

While it was a relatively minor mistake and the project was salvaged, I created unnecessary work for myself (and my husband).

After successfully stripping and spray painting our console table, I planned to use the same process to update some bar stools to use at our our kitchen island.

Since the first project went smoothly, I figured this one would too.

Logical, right?

WRONG.

The four stools had a shiny finish, which I assumed to be a thin clear coat or polyurethane finish.

Since I was planning to spray paint the stools, I knew I needed to remove the shiny finish to make sure the paint would stick.

I’d just had a great experience using the chemical stripper, so instead of testing a small inconspicuous area of ONE bar stool, I decided to go ahead and coat one, and try sanding one. Then, after stripping those two stools, I’d select the easiest method to strip the other two remaining stools.

Honestly, after what happened, I have no idea WHAT was on the stools. Perhaps it was a clear coat…but it was certainly not compatible with the chemicals used.

Half Sanded Bar Stool

Half Sanded Bar Stool

After easily sanding the larger, flat surfaces, I found sanding the spindles on the legs to be cumbersome and awkward work.

It wasn’t that the sanding was a terribly difficult task, it was more that the idea of painting on a chemical stripper seemed MUCH easier.

AND, for the record, painting on the stripper WAS easier than sanding the stool.

Bar Stool With Chemical Stripper Applied

Bar Stool With Chemical Stripper Applied

SO, being lazy that day, after painting one stool with stripper, I decided to paint the remainder of the stool that was half sanded.

Why not just go the easy route?

Or so I thought.

HOWEVER, after the stripper had been applied, the wood literally swallowed it up.

INTO the grain.

Chemical Stripper Soaked INTO the Wood Grain

Difficult to see, but here is Chemical Stripper (CitriStrip) Soaked INTO the actual Wood Grain, below the top surface

You don’t have to be an experienced DIY’er to know that this is a bad thing.

VERY.

BAD.

What little clear coat was there evaporated into thin air, leaving the porous wood free to absorb the chemicals from the stripper.

With the stripper IN the wood grain, there was absolutely NO way the paint would stick.

It HAD to be removed.

It could not be removed by scraping with a putty knife.

It could not be removed by wiping clean with mineral spirits.

(Mineral spirits simply removed the top layer of stripper from the surface, but all along the stool, there was chemical soaked into the wood grain itself)

So, after deciding I didn’t FEEL like sanding off the VERY THIN the clear coat, I now had to sand down even FURTHER to remove the chemicals from the wood.

AND, instead of just saw dust, I now had paint stripper tainted saw dust.

It. Was. Nasty.

And required me to remove my contacts and rinse my eyes with saline after suddenly they got VERY itchy. Yikes!

Sanding this deep, even with rough sand paper was HARD work.

Especially on the spindles.

Talk about a workout; with extremely poor ergonomics.

My arms and back were so sore half way through the first stool, that I finally swallowed my pride and asked for my husband to help me sand the other stool (which was thankfully only half-coated).

While he was a WILLING and gracious helper, I can say with confidence that he did not appreciate my lack of testing the stripper before applying it to not one, but TWO stools.

And, he was right. Seriously, I’m a biochemist!

I KNOW that not all chemicals react the same way on different surfaces.

In fact, I could have probably figured out a way to do a simple test to see WHAT type of coating it WAS.

BEFORE I started.

What was I thinking!?

I am grateful my husband helped (and did a great job).

Otherwise, that stool might still be sitting in my garage, and we’d just have 3 painted bar stools in our kitchen today.

After all that, I used 100 grit sandpaper to strip the remaining two stools, and found those to be less work than even ONE with the chemical stripper added to it.

I then went over all four stools with mineral spirits to remove any saw dust (or chemical dust) from the surface to prep for paint.

Not my brightest moment.

So.

What are the lessons learned here?

  • Always, always TEST before you apply ANY chemical to a whole piece
  • When sanding wood with a chemical residue, remove contacts, and wear eye protection
  • A chemical stripper is not always better (or easier) than elbow grease and sand paper
  • As is noted on the CitriStrip label and on most reputable DIY sites…all clear coats are NOT created equal (To figure out what kind of finish you’re dealing with and what chemical to can be used to remove it, read this)
  • If you do enough DIY projects, you’ll find a way to mess something up; thankfully, many of these errors can be fixed, but will likely require some extra work (and help)
  • Don’t forget the basics and to follow instructions, even if you’ve used a chemical before

 

I think it is safe to say, that most of those lessons are basic! Things I knew and took care to follow before my first project with chemical stripper.

In DIY projects, no project is ever the same, and I should have never assumed the finish on the stools would respond the same way as on my console table.

Over confidence is NEVER a good thing when playing with chemicals.

The good news is, after removing all the chemical stripper, and sanding the other two stools, the paint adhered well.

At least fixing the problem with all that work was worth it, even if it my lack of wisdom took me on an annoying, arm-tiring detour.

Next time I strip something I’ll remember to go back to the basics and not get overconfident that everything will be ‘just like last time’.

Duh.

I’ll post soon with photos of the finished, painted stools.

JOY Comes In The Morning; Even When You’ve Failed

ps 30 5

 

Yesterday was one of those days where I felt like I failed at my job as a mom.

After the kids went to bed, I sat with my husband, recounting the day, tears streaming down my face.

I told him how I was still feeling just as helpless, ill-equipped, emotionally raw, and disrespected as I had earlier in the day.

How I felt like I had FAILED.

And, worse, how I had no idea what I could have done differently.

I told my husband how my son had ended up in his room, completely out-of-control, caught in the throes of an EPIC temper tantrum.

And how that tantrum had left both him and ME in tears.

I recalled how the whole day leading up to that moment had been emotionally charged, and filled with out-of-character defiance from my son.

How at 9 am I was already searching mom-blogs for advice on how to discipline (I should note, I found one worthy of reading here). And the day went on from there.

To say I was frustrated is an understatement.

Knowing my husband was in a meeting, I had called my mom in desperation for advice. She must have heard the defeat in my voice, because my parents were at my doorstep in 10 minutes.

It is the first time I have ever called for backup.

At first, I felt sheepish. Like I should be able to handle it.

But as they arrived, the tension diffused.

Relief washed away any embarrassment.

Plus, I HAD no big ideas on how to proceed. I felt like if I went to speak with my son, who had since quieted down, he would again spiral out of control.

My dad went and had a grandpa-grandson talk.

A while later my son emerged. Calm. Apologetic. Tear-free.

My sweet parents stayed until my husband got home, and then my son and daddy had a talk.

I was grateful for all of the help and the rest of the evening was uneventful.

But I felt defeated.

Sure, my son’s behavior was unimpressive, but what became EVIDENT was my lack of skills to handle it.

Kids have temper tantrums; it’s a fact of life.

Especially kids who have gotten ear tubes, a nasty cold and a cough, and started fall activities and preschool, ALL in the last 2 weeks.

My son is rightly exhausted, and in the process of learning to cope with the increase in stimulation and activities.

I get it.

He. Just. Lost it.

My husband encouraged me and we set a plan in case something like that happened again.

I went to bed with an empty feeling. Disappointed in myself. 

When I woke this morning my daughter was yelling.

I went in and she was jumping up and down, cracking up, excited to see me.

My son was found reading quietly in his bed. He, too, was excited to see me, and to share what he was looking at.

No reservations.

He wasn’t thinking about yesterday, or how mommy couldn’t handle the situation. 

We came downstairs and I made them breakfast, and sat to spend some time with the Lord.

Still feeling raw, I decided to start in Psalms; in hopes of finding words to begin the day with WORSHIP.

I opened to Psalm 30. A familiar, highlighted verse jumped out at me.

For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning.

 Psalm 30:5 (NIV)”

I find it even more beautiful in the King James Version:

For his anger endureth but a moment,
    in his favour is life;
weeping may endure for a night,
    but joy cometh in the morning.

Psalm 30:5 (KJV)”

I may have found failure yesterday, but my son and my God have not given up on me yet. 

How encouraging is that?

While I did pray for help yesterday in the thick of it, it was more of a plea of desperation.

Earlier in the day, when I was searching mom-blogs for parenting wisdom, I should have been consulting the Bible and praying to the One And Only. 

The ultimate parent and Father who has watched every temper tantrum in the history of the world (Ugh, aren’t you glad YOU haven’t had to do that?).

It isn’t that other parents (or my parents) can’t give wisdom. They can. I am grateful they do.

It’s just that I was relying on the their wisdom and my strength doesn’t hold up under pressure.

Only the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control given by a relationship with Jesus Christ can prepare us for the unknown.

Mom-blogs are great, but they are no match for Jesus.

Yesterday reminded me how important it is that I pray daily for His guidance and wisdom for parenting.

That I would rely on HIS strength.

Because as I so clearly demonstrated yesterday, I cannot do this on my own strength or wisdom. 

My children have been calm and pleasant today.

Little course correction has been needed, and has gone without objection.

Like yesterday never happened.

Today I give thanks that without fail, JOY comes with the morning, as does another chance.

Joyful Hosting: Letting Someone Host At Your House Is A Cinch

Have you ever ‘hosted’ a party where all you had to do was provide your space?

If not, here’s why I highly recommend it, especially if you have small children:

  • who doesn’t like a party?
  • you lighten the load of the ‘host’ by providing a clean space
  • since you don’t have to do all the food, it makes your preparation a cinch
  • we believe that biblical stewardship of our home involves sharing what it with others
  • if you have small children:
    • they can nap, and play with their own things
    • you don’t have to pack a diaper bag, snacks, toys, and basically MOVE into someone else’s space for a few hours
    • you don’t have to worry about being somewhere on-time or deal with car-ride drama

One of the reasons we purchased our new home was the open floor plan; we wanted a space where people could gather, and we wouldn’t feel claustrophobic. The layout of this house is great for entertaining.

our house

That in mind, when my sister asked if we could celebrate my niece’s first birthday with family at our house, I was happy to offer the use of our home, even before she told me her plans.

Sharing your space is SO VERY EASY, especially when it is with people who are and laid-back (and who do most of the work). The planning is minimal.

All you really need to know is:

  • date and time
  • how you can help
  • what food they are bringing so you can plan ahead with serving dishes or possibly pre-heat an oven for them
  • how many people are coming (so you have adequate seating, etc.)
  • what you can do to help make the day special

We set a time and date that worked well for both of us. My sister’s family brought in all the food, the cake, and arranged for others bring side dishes. They even brought the plates, napkins and cups so I wasn’t left with a bunch of dishes to wash.

I offered to make a salad and provide the beverages and asked if it was OK to put up some simple decorations.

Allowing someone to host at your home leaves minimal work for you:

  • clean the house (which has to be done at some point anyway)
  • provide serving spoons and dishes
  • provide your kitchen to prep food, and help warm up food as needed
  • provide adequate seating (in our case, set up one extra table and some folding chairs)
  • decorations (if desired)
  • be willing to take direction from them on how you can HELP without taking over

For decorations, I just made a simple birthday banner (because ALL birthday girls need a banner in their honor) from scrapbook paper and twine, and hung a few paper lanterns in the windows.

Happy Birthday Banner

I was amazed with how easy my sister’s family made hosting here look.

If you are thinking of a food idea so you can host somewhere else, a taco bar is a great idea; easy to prepare, inexpensive, easily portable, and needs little prep to do on-site.

The Taco Bar Included:

  • ground beef, already cooked, seasoned and ready to heat on the stove
  • shredded lettuce
  • chopped tomato
  • diced onion
  • shredded cheese
  • chips and salsa
  • taco sauce
  • sour cream
  • corn and flour tortillas

Others brought:

  • bean side dish
  • simple mexican salad
  • watermelon

From the time they brought everything into the house, it took 15 minutes to prep to serve the meal.

Not only did they bring all the food, but they brought the cake.

And seriously… just LOOK. At. This. Cake!

The Cake

It was made by the Buttercream Bakery in St. Paul, MN.

It had edible glitter, and the best buttercream frosting you’ve ever had.

It was absolutely as delicious as it was stunning!

 

 

 

 

After watching my niece smash her cake to bits, clapping frosting all over her face, and watching my children ‘HELP’ her open her gifts (aka…in her face and doing it for her…her parents are very gracious), all that we were left with to clean-up were a few serving dishes, and some garbage bags to take to the garage.

(Oh, and some crumbs and stray blobs of frosting, which somehow only landed on the floor. My niece has impeccable aim).

So if someone asks you to share your home so they can host a party, say YES! By offering your home, you save the host from having to clean theirs, AND you get to enjoy the party at your house, where you can put your kids down for a nap or distract with their own toys when they get bored.

 

Happy hosting!

 

 

To the Sleep-Deprived Mama of a Hurting Baby

To the sleep-deprived Mama,

You are not alone.

I’ve been there; so tired you almost fall asleep on the toilet.

I hope you find this at 2 am, when you’re desperate for a word of encouragement and haven’t yet slept a wink because your child hasn’t slept.

I’ve rejoiced over 4 non-consecutive hours of sleep a night because for months we had less than that.

I know that the term “sleeping like a baby” was written by someone who was ignorant of what it is like to have a hurting baby.

I, too, was a real-live zombie, in a daze, wandering around aimlessly, looking for a bed. 

I’ve felt your hope as you plan a new strategy to help your baby fall asleep and stay asleep.

I read those books and blogs, and heard the advice of fellow parents. 

We bought the highly acclaimed swings, noise machines, and baby sleep books written by experts; all of which did not work for us.

One by one, tools and advice of experts failed for my hurting child who couldn’t sleep. 

Desperate, we also tried letting baby ‘cry it out’, but with a hurting child,  but it just wasn’t right and the crying went on far too long.

We learned that a hurting child is not able to self-soothe and what it is like to be needed by them to fall asleep.

I have seen a hurting child finally pass out in my arms, and realize it is the only time all day that their body relaxed.

I know how it FEELS to rock a baby so much that your back feels it may break.

I understand that the ONLY reason you can keep rocking them is because you LOVE them. So. Very. Much.

I’ve cradled a child with numb and tingling arms, too afraid to move for fear of waking them up.

I have felt poorly equipped, inadequate, and have sobbed, along with my child, unable to soothe them.

I’ve fallen asleep in that uncomfortable chair, freezing cold because you can’t reach the blanket, with my bladder about to burst, because I know if I move they’ll wake.

I know that you, too, would sacrifice your health, body, and sleep if it meant your child would feel better.

I have felt what it is like to be so tired, having given all your energy to the child, that you’ve forgotten to eat, or drink anything all day.

I tried to sleep when the baby slept, but a few 1 hour stretches at night were just not enough. And I know that when you work during the day or care for another child, that napping when the baby naps is not realistic.

I know the feeling of exhaustion that goes down into your SOUL.

And for those days to go on for MONTHS and MONTHS.

I heard my friends boast of how their child slept well from “the night they brought them home” and wondered what was wrong with us.

I know that until you’ve had a hurting child and experienced the sleep-deprivation it can cause, that you can feel entirely alone, misunderstood, and that you may fear it will. NEVER. end.

Seeking help, I took my child to the doctor and cried in the office.

I know how vulnerable it feels to have a public break-down and how grateful I was to the nurses, doctors, co-workers, family and friends who spoke kindly and encouraged me.

I know what its like to truly worship sleep and to be unable to focus on anything but the next chance to get some.

And, I too, reached the point where even when my baby slept, I stopped being ABLE to sleep.

As I laid my sleeping baby down, exhausted, a surge of adrenaline pumped through my veins as I slowly backed out of the room and closed the door. I was hypersensitive to ANY sound that might wake the baby. 

I, too, collapsed into bed only to hear my child’s baby grunts and noises that all babies make in their sleep.

I know that with each sound, a fresh dose of adrenaline surges and that fear that the baby will wake can steal ANY sleep you might get before the crying begins again. 

After months of sleep deprivation, I, too, heard my baby’s cries in the white noise of a fan, in the background of a football game, or the sound of the shower running, and wondered if I was a crazy person.

With nowhere else to turn, I relied on the Lord to carry me through those nights where I cried as much as my child. 

I too prayed those persistent prayers for sleep and for healing for my child. In our case, I prayed that his heartburn and acid reflux would cease and he would no longer hurt.

It took 15 months for those prayers to be answered.

 

BUT, Have hope.

My prayers WERE answered.

I have awoken to light streaming through the window and felt the seizing fear that something bad had happened.

And then I felt the JOY and RELIEF when I found the baby still asleep.

We slowly saw a few sporadic 4 or 5 hour stretches of sleep mix into the sleepless nights.

We saw a few long stretches turn into regular occurrences.

After months of a few hours of broken up sleep a night, I know that a 4 hour stretch can make you feel like a new mama.

As the long stretches turned into sporadic nights of 8-hour stretches, I know that at first, you wake up, wondering if something is wrong.

I also know, that at some point, you will realize that you had two nights in a row, then three, and then a week of good sleep. 

For us, it was sudden. When my son walked at 15 months, I felt the elation of our first full night of sleep. It didn’t take long for it to be a regular occurrence.

It did take time some time for me to feel refreshed, despite full nights of sleep. It takes some time for your body to catch up. Be gentle with yourself.

Looking back, I cannot begin to fathom how we even survived, but I can tell you, we did only by the Lord carrying us through it.

My son’s name is written in my Bible next to this verse, and it is imprinted on my soul after saying it over and over, half-asleep and weary.

I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me. 

-Psalm 63:6-8

God IS hearing you.

He IS helping you.

He IS holding you up, as you struggle to stay awake and to comfort your child.

He IS equipping you to parent, work, and function, despite severe sleep deprivation.

 

Until Then

If you are reading this with red, stinging, tired eyes that you can hardly keep open, take heart, sleep is coming. 

If your child has reflux (GERD), and it is not responding to medication as our son didn’t, cling to the promise several doctors gave me and was TRUE for us: when your child walks, everything changes. The muscles develop, the pressure lifts from their stomach, and sleep comes.

This. Shall. Pass. I’ve experienced it.

Your child WILL sleep through the night, even if it feels like it may never happen. 

It will not be as soon as you’d like.

It will take you by surprise and suddenly life won’t seem like such a BLUR.

Your view of sleep will never be the same.

Even today, my son is 4 years old, and has slept through the night since 15 or 16 months. I still wake most mornings, grateful that my children slept all night long, and for their health.

When sleep comes, it will bring with it WAVES of gratitude.  

But, for now, cling to hope.  Be encouraged.

Keep loving your child.

If you feel like you’re just surviving, that is OK.

You are doing ENOUGH and I have no doubt that you are doing a GREAT job.

You are not alone.

 

DIY Decor: How to Update a Framed Mirror with Chalk Paint

How to Update a Framed Mirror with Chalk Paint

Chalk paint.

It’s all the rage on Pinterest. Several friends of mine have used it and love it (and what they painted looks fantastic!).

I’ve been dying to try it out but have been too afraid to jump in and use it on a large piece of furniture. Up until now, I’ve been chemically stripping or sanding my wood pieces to prep for spray paint.

With all the work that has been done to prep my other projects so far, the idea of no-prep before painting is rather alluring. I also love the flat finish of wax over chalk paint, especially when mildly distressed.

It. Was. Time.

Since we moved in December, we haven’t hung much on our walls. We have been slowly painting and decorating one room at a time. Currently, we are putting up a kitchen backsplash and painting the walls in our kitchen and main living area. I’ve also been refinishing some bar stools for our kitchen island (stripping them and spray painting them).

The rest of the space is coming together, but I have not selected anything to hang on the walls. With a tight budget, I’m hoping to use things we already have.

We have a framed mirror, in great condition from our old house. In the dimly lit basement, I thought it might look nice upstairs. However, after bringing it up, I didn’t like the color of the wood stain with the color of our floors and carpet.

Older mirror in good condition but the color doesn't go well with our new house

Older mirror in good condition but the color doesn’t go well with our new house

I still wanted to use the mirror but was afraid to chemically strip it, and sanding really isn’t that fun. Plus, if I keep sanding projects every night I’m going to have one skinny arm and one with Popeye muscles since I do most of the sanding with my right hand. There IS some sanding on the back-end if distressing the project, but MUCH less than removing the original finish.

So…finally, an experiment with chalk paint seemed like a great idea.

Unsure of how this would go and on such a small project, I didn’t want to splurge and buy Annie Sloan chalk paint. I looked online and checked out the colors at Home Depot and JoAnn Fabrics. I ended up buying Folk Art Chalk paint at JoAnn Fabrics for $7.99 (and actually paid about $4 with a 40% off coupon). I went back to buy the Folk Art clear wax to seal it the following week with a different coupon, and paid the same as the paint. For a little over $8, the refinishing is certainly worth it and much less expensive than buying a new mirror.

As you may have seen in a few other DIY posts and the post about our dining room, we’re using aqua, yellow, white and silver in our dining room. The dining room connects to our kitchen and main living area. We are using grey paint in those rooms and will use similar accent colors. I want something with a pop of color for the walls, so am using yellow on the mirror frame.

How to Update a Framed Mirror with Chalk Paint

Materials

  • Chalk Paint (I used Folk Art Home Decor Chalk Paint in Yellow Crochet)
  • Wax (I used Folk Art Home Decor Clear Wax)
  • Paint brushes (foam brush for paint and old beat up bristle brush for wax)
  • 100 grit sand paper
  • FINE sand paper block

Steps

1. Prepare to Paint

Use painters tape to protect surfaces that will not be painted

Use painters tape to protect surfaces that will not be painted

Clean the surface to be painted: Remove dust or debris, and then wipe with rubbing alcohol

Allow the surface to dry

Apply painters tape to any surface that will not be painted

 

2. Apply Chalk Paint in Thin Layers

Chalk Paint

Chalk Paint

Shake the paint well before use to ensure even coats

This paint has hardly any scent, so can be used indoors. As with most paint, it is a good idea for the object being painted and paint to be the same temperature when you start and to paint when it isn’t really hot or really cold

Use a paint brush to apply paint to the surface

Use care not to apply excess paint in the crevices to make it easier to sand later

A foam paint brush worked very well but bristle brush would also work 

Use care not to apply excess paint in the crevices

Use care not to apply excess paint in the crevices

This paint required 2 hours between coats

3 coats of paint were applied until desired coverage was achieved

First coat of chalk paint

First coat of chalk paint

 

 

Second Coat

Second Coat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Third and Final Coat

Third and Final Coat

3. Allow to Fully Dry

The paint needs to dry fully before any sanding can be done

The three coats were applied 2 hours apart, and allowed to dry overnight

4. Sand to Smooth and/or Distress

Fine sanding block and 100 grit sand paper

Fine sanding block and 100 grit sand paper

To Smooth:

If you don’t want visible brush strokes sand the entire surface with a fine sanding block or sand paper

The fine grit will leave a silky smooth finish and help you get a feel for how much pressure to apply before the original surface shows through.

Use sand paper or sanding block to remove paint in some areas

Use sand paper or sanding block in the direction of the wood grain to remove paint in some areas

If you remove too much paint and didn’t want a distressed look, you can always, stop and reapply paint. Dry fully before sanding again.

To Distress:

Distress various areas using sand paper or a sanding block, focusing on areas that would naturally undergo ‘wear and tear’ (edges, corners, ridges)

As a general rule, higher grit will remove more paint with less pressure and effort, 

Use sand paper to remove paint in areas that would undergo wear and tear

Use sand paper to remove paint in areas that would undergo wear and tear

but will also remove the original surface if you aren’t careful.

If you want to see LAYERS (of different colored paint or paint and original finish), it may be worth using more effort with a FINE sand paper instead

Always sand and in the direction of the wood grain to avoid damaging the piece, and to avoid leaving visible scratches on the painted surface

Sand to distress the paint

Sand to distress the paint

It is important to randomize the areas to distress so it looks natural, not planned at the end.

Vary size of distressed area, location, and try to stagger around each edge.

I randomly turned the mirror around and picked different sections to distress on each edge. I tried to vary the length and width of each section

5. Seal with Wax

Clear wax

Clear wax

Wipe down the entire surface to wax with a dry rag and remove as much chalk dust as possible so loose paint doesn’t clump when wax is applied

The wax did have an odor so may be best applied outside or in a well-ventilated area

Use an old, clean paint brush to apply wax in a THIN coat and remove excess with a soft, clean rag

As with painting, use care not to apply excess wax in crevices

Once the wax has dried for an hour, buff the wax with a clear rag to create a little shine (otherwise leave for a matte finish)

Apply wax thinly and then wipe off excess with paper towel or cloth rag

Apply wax in a thin layer and wipe off excess with paper towel or a soft cloth rag

As wax is applied, the colors are deepened, and the contrast between the two colors became stronger

Wax did dry quickly but be sure it is fully dry before handling to avoid finger print impressions

 

 

 

Work in small sections since you can visually tell where wax has been applied

Work in small sections since you can visually tell where wax has been applied

 

 

 

 

 

The wax deepens the contrast between the colors

The wax deepens the contrast between the colors

 

 

 

 

Be sure to wax the outside edges. Might as well pick a beautiful day!

Be sure to wax the outside edges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Enjoy the Finished Product

Chalk Painted Mirror

Chalk Painted Mirror

Chalk Painted Mirror Before and After

Chalk Painted Mirror, Before and After images

5 Questions to Consider When Setting Your Family’s Fall Schedule

Hello September.

I can’t believe my second summer as a stay-at-home mom is finished already. Unlike last year, our mornings were free since our daughter dropped her morning nap. With no scheduled activities, we kept a very loose schedule.

The freedom…It. Was. Lovely.

We met friends at parks, went to the zoo (A LOT), ran errands on rainy days, and spent a lot of time relaxing, reading books, and playing at home.

My husband and I allowed bed and nap times to be more flexible than the rest of the year. If neighbor children were outside, we allowed the kids to play longer, and stayed later at events. We also allowed our little one to even skip naps for special family events (although she and WE all paid for that!).

The loose schedule did sometimes yield overtired, overstimulated, unruly and exhausted children. But, because it was summer, we simply stayed home the next day (or two) to get back on track.

While I have enjoyed the flexibility, I am ready for a change of pace.

With no structured activities, I had very few opportunities to spend time with adults (away from the kids). I miss it. Without it, I find myself less patient, and more easily frustrated. Not the way I want to be.

My son will be attending preschool two half-days a week.  I am excited for him to experience new things and meet new kids, but also feel unexpectedly emotional at the same time. He will never be home with me as much as he is now. Starting now, time devoted to school, sports and friends will increase year by year.

This realization that the time we have at home is fleeting makes me committed to make the most of our time this year (of course, while making a concerted effort NOT to smother them). I am looking to maximize quality time at home, while exposing both kids to educational and social opportunities. This summer, we were barraged by flyers for sports, ECFE, swimming lessons, church activities and more. I had a pile of things that looked worthwhile. So much to do…So little time.

As we set the schedule for fall, there is a real need for balance. It is imperative that we avoid the danger of being TOO busy. Being TOO busy will run children and parents ragged. Suddenly activities that are supposed to be fun and begin to cause stress, angst, and lose their effectiveness.

There are SO MANY great opportunities to learn and play, but we CANNOT and WILL NOT do them all.

Here are 5 questions we considered when setting our family’s fall schedule.  These questions helped us sort through what was important and to choose activities wisely. Our answers are noted with each question.

5 Questions to Consider When Setting Your Family’s Fall Schedule:

1. What takes priority?

What are the priorities for your family this year? What activities MUST happen each day/week? This may be different depending on the season. As a general rule, if anything interferes with these priorities, it is unlikely that we will participate.

Our family:

  • We put God first. Church and Small Group every other Sunday night are a MUST.
  • The kids will be allowed to sleep until they wake up MOST days
  • My daughter will have a consistent afternoon nap, otherwise she just is not herself
  • I am committed to staying home all day with the kids at least one day a week to just enjoy them
  • Family dinners are priority
  • Bedtime will be consistent
  • The schedule needs to allow me to run errands, and keep the house in order

2. What is necessary and what ‘would-be-nice’?

Is the activity something that NEEDS to be done? Or is it something that would be fun, or nice to do if time allows?

Our family:

  • Aiden: NEEDS to attend preschool. Swimming lessons, maybe a sport or two during the year, or time to play with other kids ‘would-be-nice’
  • Adelyn: NEEDS the opportunity to spend time away from me and to interact with other children. Swimming lessons ‘would-be-nice’
  • I: NEED one activity during the week that allows me to interact with other adults away from my children. It ‘would-be-nice to have more than one since my husband travels a lot
  • My husband: NEEDS to meet with a group of men from church before work

3. Is the schedule fair?

Once you have the list of activities you’ll participate in, determine if it is balanced (for children AND adults). Each member of the family is ONE of {insert size of family}; the schedule won’t work if it is at the expense of any ONE. Can everyone benefit from this schedule? Does the schedule meet the NEEDS of everyone? 

Our family:

  • The kids and I will attend Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) on Thursday mornings and the women’s bible study at church on Tuesdays. These precious hours allow me to study God’s word and get to know some amazing women. The kids learn about God and play with some very sweet children. These breaks leave me feeling refreshed and restored; they allow me to be a better wife and to parent with more patience and grace
  • My son will attend preschool, two days a week, in the afternoons. He will go just after lunch, and my daughter will go down for her nap right after we drop him off. This gives ample time for her to rest, and I am especially looking forward to some special time alone with her before we go pick him up.
  • We signed my son up for a 4-week gymnastics class during the month of September, along with 2 neighbor kids. It starts early enough in the evening that we can have family dinners when we get home (as long as I plan ahead), and is a chance for us to see how things go having another activity in the schedule.  

4. Is it feasible?

Can you meet your priorities, and make it to everything without undue stress? Is there enough time between activities?

Our family:

  • Our current planned schedule does allow me to run errands and clean the house during the week
  • Our schedule will allow me time to prep meals and for family dinners, and does not interfere with the kids waking up, nap time, or bedtime.
  • Our Thursday schedule was NOT feasible. We were going to attend a BSF class across town (where our friends are) but it would not be feasible to get eat lunch, and get to preschool on time without undue stress (and even then we might be late). SO, we transferred to a different class, which allows us more time

5. What needs to go?

If the schedule looks full, are there some activities you can put off until later in the year? Is there an activity that needs to be given up? Have you taken time to ASK your child what they want to continue doing, or if there is anything they would rather do instead?

Our family:

  • We want both kids to do swimming lessons this year. With the school year just starting, we’ll get into the swing of things and see if we can add classes on Saturday mornings during the second fall session
  • If any activity is causing undue stress, frustration, over-stimulation, fear, or just isn’t going well – we will reassess and determine if we will continue or not

 

Fall schedule

What Do You See? What Does God See? Do They Match?

Standing in front of a mirror in June, getting ready, I found myself displeased with how my clothes fit. I sighed, wishing I had bought something new to wear for our family photos.

The image I saw really mirrored my own self image, not just my outward appearance:

  • A wife who still forgets her husband sees her as beautiful, despite his words and compliments
  • A tired mother, wishing she could have slept later than the baby who woke at 430 am
  • A mother of two whose body is different than it used to be
  • A woman who doesn’t spend time to get ready or to reflect on how she sees herself most days

On a normal day, I usually a rush to put on mascara, some sunscreen enforced face lotion, and a little powder before a child needs something. That morning, my husband was graciously taking care of the kids so I could spend a little more time getting ready.

But in this case, those added moments staring in the mirror weren’t doing me any favors. I was certainly NOT feeling ‘pretty’, no matter how many times I changed my clothes or added more makeup.

Instead, I was doing something very unproductive; sinking into the pit of self-loathing.  Annoyed with myself and my lack of exercise, healthy eating, and the realization that my body is simply DIFFERENT than it used to be.

I’m sad to admit that the problem didn’t start that day. It was bigger. Let me tell you how I got to this point. It was several weeks in the making.

In the weeks before our trip, I had searched my closet and several stores for the perfect outfit. I was supposed to wear something navy, white, and/or khaki. Sounds simple, right? I had 3 tops, and own 2 white pants and several pairs of khakis.

These clothes are all in ‘new’ condition, but were all purchased before my second child (some before my first). I like them, but frankly, I felt like they didn’t like me! They do not FIT as they did when they were bought. A common problem these days and the reason why I wear the same few outfits over and over despite having a closet-full.

After finding things in the store also didn’t fit as I desired, I decided it was a problem with me, and resorted to wearing Spanx under my pants. You know, to just make something I had ‘WORK’.

Yep.

So now I’m squeezed into spanx which are NOT physically comfortable, in order to ‘FEEL’ comfortable in my BRAIN, in a regular navy shirt and khaki pants.

I had thought that this strategy would give me peace of mind, so I could relax during photos.

Right.

Relax in Spanx. Ha.

I could hardly breathe. But at least I wasn’t focused on sucking in my stomach?

So that was my frame of mind as I coated my hair with hairspray to make it ‘stay down’ and put on more makeup than usual, in a weak attempt to cover my perceived tired eyes with mascara and concealer. As I applied mascara, my eyes caught words written at the top of the mirror in black marker.

“What do you see? What does God see? Do they match?”

I immediately felt the pang of conviction and mixed emotions. Remorse that I had YET AGAIN forgotten this truth. And, at that same moment, I was overjoyed by the remembrance that God sees me as useful, beautiful, and of eternal value.

I can’t take credit for those words. You see, I was getting ready in my niece’s old bedroom. We were staying at her parent’s home as we gathered to celebrate her wedding day. She is an amazing woman, niece and friend. She wrote these WISE words long ago.

I stood there, pondering the words as my son and daughter tumbled into the room a few moments later as my husband tried to rally them for a bath and to get dressed. They both had wicked bed head and mismatched pajamas.

Still struggling with mixed emotions, I saw the joyful sparkle in their eyes, high energy movements, and simplicity of my emotions as I watched them.  If I see my children as such beautiful, amazing, and earth shattering little people, how much MORE does the Lord see in me and in them?

He made us all. Every detail. With loving care we can’t even imagine.

If you’ve given birth, you know that a tiny baby can only be made by a loving creator. They are too perfect. Tiny toes, fingers and noses. No matter how they look to human eyes, these children are EXACTLY as God made them, and their days and birth were all ordained beforehand by Him.

All these thoughts remained with me as I finished getting ready.

I put on a necklace and forgot to care what I looked like to the world and was just glad the necklace was a great distraction for my daughter to play with.

Because of truthful words on that mirror, I was just me. As I was that day; wife, mother, woman, and child of God.

We had fun taking pictures. There was much laughter, play and joy. My daughter had one outburst of tears, but that is expected from a 1-year-old. Everyone was relaxed and after taking some posed pictures, the entire family went down to the beach to wander and let the kids play.

Had I not seen those words, I am not sure I would have relaxed or stopped worrying about how I looked.

I would have missed the fun, preoccupied with my own perceived inadequacy.

Instead, I spent the day with a refreshed view of how God sees me, reinforced by how I see my own children.

Here’s one photo from the day that thankfully doesn’t look like I am slathered in makeup and fully doused in hairspray.

Family Photo

Some time after returning home, I came across this passage, and was reminded of that moment.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you,O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Matthew 6:25-34

 

The next time you struggle with your clothes, hair, or skin, remember to ask check if your self-image reflects that of your maker.  Do they match? I know I will be writing this question on my daughter’s mirror when she is old enough to have one.