Friday, November 29, 2013

Thankful AND Crafty

Now that we've finished round 3 of our Thanksgiving festivities, Adam and I decided that possibly it's time to go on a diet. Probably not though.

Our third Thanksgiving unraveled every bit as lovely as the first two. A quiet cozy afternoon with family, a glass of wine, and delicious food? Yes please. 

Also, I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but Adam's mom was born to be a pinterest-mom. Look how she decked out the Thanksgiving table with these centerpieces, complete with a thankful-tree for everyone to contribute (note: Caden was thankful for his cars).
The kids (along with Pop-pop and James) made gingerbread houses, while I read the entirety of Orphan Train

And Adam helped Ashton with his chemistry. That man, let me tell y'all: he is an amazing teacher. Not to mention he has the patience-of-a-saint. And his beard, which is also epic.
Speaking of being crafty, a few weeks ago I posted this picture on Instagram of a craft we did in order to somehow make it through that last hour before dinner. While we're on the topic of that last hour before dinner/bath/bed, please tell me everyone else finds it as brutal as I do?
When I posted the picture, I got a few requests for shots of the finished product. We finally actually completed and hung up the never-thought-it-would-be-done project today, so I snapped a few shots and thought I'd oblige. Don't say I never did anything for you.

Inspired by these painted leaves (which I found via Pinterest obviously), we taped the leaves to some paper and got to work painting.

If I'm completely honest, all of the smallest leaves and/or thinnest leaves ripped when we took the tape off. Thus, after round one, we had these leaves:
They felt a little too monochromatic for me, so we took a walk around the block to gather more leaves. We then stuck them inside some of the boys' textbooks, perpetually forgotten at our house. Two days later, we re-taped and repeated the whole painting process with some purple and pink paint I dug out of the storage closet.

Next, I taped the leaves to some baker's twine with some washi tape (all of which came from the Target dollar spot, holla). I was planning on tying them on via their stems, but it drove me literally-insane how tangled it all got and how impossible it was to tie them all nice and orderly. So I gave up and taped them instead.

I was planning on hanging them on our mantle, but Jayci insisted they belonged in her room. And who am I to argue? So voila. Fall decor in Jayci's room. Although she did tell me tonight while we laid in her bed that she just wasn't quite happy with how they looked strung up there. That's a girl after my decorating-heart.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving in three rounds

Putting words to how many things and people I am thankful for is daunting, perhaps impossible, task. This morning, I got up a little bit early (really really hard for me) to have some time to write and get things ready, since we're supposed to be at a brunch at a church in the neighborhood at 7:30am (we tried to convince some of the boys to come with us, but the 7:30am was a no-go). Then we are heading to Adam's family's house to celebrate Thanksgiving there, after we already had the feast, as well as a Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' house on Tuesday.

All that to say, I'm thankful for meals and thanksgiving and all of the people we have to celebrate with.
For our families, and for the ways they surround and carry us, supporting us fully and welcoming all our kiddos with open arms.
 For my sisters, and for the men who love them. Because I also love those guys; which is a gift, right? Also, one of these sisters is a pastry chef and her boyfriend is a sous chef, which means our Thanksgiving was ridiculous-good. I've never seen Zack and Ashton in so much pain from eating too much, and that's saying something since they eat too much on a regular basis.
 I'm thankful for these boys and the ways they all stretch my heart and expand my ideas about the world and Jesus and how those two things should work together.
For babies: cute and cuddly and life-giving (also, exhausting). Just try not to fall in love with this little man with those big-old eyes and receding hair-line.
For generations gathered around the table, consuming large amounts of turkey and stuffing and sweet potato casserole. Or just licking the marshmallows off the top.
For this little man and his special heart, for the ways he keeps me on my toes. In so many ways, he has changed my faith and life. And I am thankful beyond measure for every little beat of his unique heart.
I'm thankful for Jayci; and for the way she loves Jesus already, always wanting to write the memory verse on our chalkboard. Those letters. written steady by her little pink-nailed hand, they make me happy every time I see him.
One more thing I'm thankful for: All of you guys. Friends and relatives and strangers who gather here, and it feels a little like a big Thanksgiving table filled with abundance and delicious-ness. So thank you for showing up, for being a part, and for making my life a brighter place. For realz. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Playing in the Leaves


The crisp cool fall air sneaks through the cracked door, I slip into a big comfy sweatshirt and my slippers, calling Maverick back inside. Our weekend was slow and fast all at once (like this life tends to be these days). The kids played in the leaves, inevitably scattering them back across the yard. Other than that, we mostly just snuggled inside with our sick little girl, and currently Adam has taken the children so I can edit some pictures. Speaking of, I better get to that.

First, however, some of my favorite reads from the past week or so.
12 Disciples for Every Rich Young Ruler
Being a Working Mother Means Always Having to Say You're Sorry
Living More with Less
Things for my Stuff
Why Poor People's Decisions Make Perfect Sense
*(for sure read that last one)

Book wise, I finished Jesus Freak: Feeding Healing Raising the Dead (recommended by my soul sister/twin separated at birth Shannan). I loved it y'all.

I also read The Silver Star, and I'm currently reading The Circle (currently terrifying me a little bit, it's a little too realistic).

On Thursday night, Adam and I (and a few friends) went to see Catching Fire. We went to the 10:30pm show, which means we rolled back home at about 2am. The experience taught me three important lessons.
1. I love The Hunger Games and cant stop thinking about the movie, and my friends Peeta and Katniss.
2. I need this, and Katniss is my hero. Also, I would never ever ever survive the Hunger Games.
3. 10:30pm is entirely too late to start a movie. I am no longer a teenager, and I'm pretty sure I still haven't caught up on my sleep.

Friday, November 22, 2013

I am thankful: Feast

Dark night seeps through until it soaks the sky, and we walk to the church on the corner. The last two years, we hosted community Thanksgiving dinner at our house. But we worried we may burst at the seams this year, so we gratefully use the church cafeteria instead. Light spills from the open door onto the busy street. Everyone walks by and stops, curious, peering into the gleaming doorway. I am quick to invite them to join us, but most scurry on to the corner store across the way, or in the opposite direction to the Marta station.

Thankfully, Adam’s mom has spent the afternoon organizing and making sure we have everything we need, while I edit pictures and shout to the kids in the street to join us tonight. Caden sits at an empty table banging his fists on it, yelling DESSERT; meanwhile, Jayci folds the napkins and the rest of us spread plastic tablecloths and lay out turkey and stuffing and sweet potatoes buffet-style.
Our friend Milton, who sleeps under the bridge most nights, sits on the pavement outside the door waiting. He grins gap-toothed, proudly announcing that he has invited all his friends.

The air has thinned from thick and muggy to crisp cool fall, and I plop a hat on Amir’s head before stepping out of the church to see if anyone needs directions, or help with parking. I notice a cluster of ladies standing on their usual corner by the store, and I summon my courage before walking over to invite them to dinner.

The boys walk up in a pack, sitting outside for just a minute before announcing that they-will-surely-freeze, shivering loudly. They simply must come inside they insist, and soon their laughter and teasing fills the hall. My dad arrives with a big dish of macaroni and cheese, and Adam frets that we will have far too much food, considering he cooked the biggest turkey we could find. I smile and remind him that the clock has just barely nudged 6:30.

Sure enough, the cars and neighbors start arriving in a stream, and soon most chairs are taken, and space swells to full. I mingle and hug and laugh, passing Amir to Adam’s sister so I can snuggle some of the smallest neighbors. People bring side dishes and desserts, and they line the table; rolls piled high in the basket on the end. Adam raises his voice to pray thankful, and to remind everyone how many people need to eat: don’t be greedy, and we are serving oldest-to-youngest. The boys all groan, and the line forms starting with Ms Lula, in her prettiest flower-painted blouse, with Milton disregarding Adam and piling his plate high behind her.

Laughter spills along with lemonade, and Dee Dee chases Shareka around the tables gleefully. Adam’s sister sits across the table from Milton and one of his friends. Mentors sit with mentees, the whole family dressed in Sunday best. More boys wander in late and high on something, stopping to listen as girls from our church youth group spill music from the old piano in the corner. Adam’s dad chats with Walt from across the street, and everywhere chocolate skin and cream skin and young and old and poor and rich families and neighbors sit checkboard-style around the room.

And I use run-on sentences and too many adjectives because this Kingdom of God, it breaks all the rules.

Grace sneaks in when we do not serve them, but we all pile our plates high with food and sit side-by-side to enjoy the bounty of Him who prepares the feast. Communion and community inextricably bound, the mystery of Christ looms near tonight, as we break bread together and pour gravy over our potatoes. The church becomes the Church when a congregation with bullet-proof glass over its stained-glass and metal grates on their doors, swings them wide to invite the wanderers and the wounded, and brings peach cobbler for dessert.

At the feast gather no wounded or handicapped, because we somehow find our identity as sons and daughters of the King seated at His table. This I think, with a smile, is the Kingdom come. Grace found in the cornbread and green bean casserole. And it grows loud and messy and far less perfect than perhaps I imagined.

Who made the greens? Milton asks me loudly, and his friends all nod. I smile, telling him it was Ms. Tony, one of my friend Ashlee’s neighbors. Well, she cooked-the-heck-out of them greens he announces. We all laugh and agree, and Milton leans close, telling me he has been thinking about what we he is thankful for, like Adam instructed in his opening spiel.

What did you conclude? I ask.

This. He says it simply and waves his arm wide to encompass the room. We hug, and I whisper me too. Together we watch quietly for a minute, perhaps both reveling in the peace that somehow permeates despite the chaos. Then he pumps his fists in the air, yelling the food was good! Everyone cheers and he takes some dessert for the road before heading out the door.

Jayci announces the end of “the feast,” and the boys and some guys from our church help the church ladies sweep and wipe tables with loud and laughing directions from coach Joe and Adam. I still hear neighborhood kids yelling down the street. A friend from work helps carry our own children home under the star strewn sky. And there’s abundant beauty and bread, and a feast where we sit in community and share communion under the banner of the King.


“He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.” 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Jayci's Room Reveal

Some of you guys (ahem, Candace) have been subtly hinting that I should show y'all more of our house. The problem with that, of course, means I would have to actually finish projects and clean things and other such nonsense.

However, you guys are in for a treat today because Jayci and I worked super-duper hard to get her room (almost) all-the-way-finished and decorated, and even clean! Which is basically a trifecta of preparedness that occurs only very rarely here in the Stanley household.

So without further ado, I give you Jayci's room. It's (very very) colorful and fun, and she had a big say in what made it into the room and what we left out. In other words, if you don't love it, blame Jayci and not me. 
Bright and fun, colorful little girl's room on a budget. Ikea Expedit bookcase, striped bins, vintage desk, bright rug, green chalkboard "art" wall.
A few of our favorites stacked on her "end table," (which is really 2 antique crates painted in fun colors that I stole borrowed from my mom, and are used as bookshelves).
Bright and fun, colorful little girl's room on a budget. Pink sock monkey, antique crates as bookshelves
A long long time ago (so long, in fact, that I cannot find the post back), I posted a picture of this Roman shade and asked if anyone could help a sister out, particularly help that didn't involve spending approximately $100 on roman shades. A sweet friend's aunt offered to sew them for me, but due to some sort of miscommunication, only sewed one. I felt too terrible to re-ask for her to sew another one, so I busted out my sewing machine (only literally years after she made the first one). And then I copied the mess out of her roman shade sewing skillz. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, despite the fact that an actually functioning roman shade is apparently still beyond my abilities. Whatever. 
Bright and fun, colorful little girl's room on a budget. Gallery wall, DIY chandelier and roman shades, play kitchen, bright-colored rug from Serena and Lily
Cool bird picture between the windows is from my beloved Christine's Creations. Kitchen is from "Santa," (aka hand-me-down-from-a-friend) circa 2011. 
Bright and fun, colorful little girl's room on a budget. Gallery wall featuring a mix of inexpensive art and photography
Jayci and I totally crafted this slightly-bootlegged "pajaki chandelier" after I saw one on a Beautiful Mess and thought it was cute. Mine is not quite so perfect and beautiful, but Jayci is happy with our finished product. Plus, I managed to let go of perfection just long enough for her to actually help.
Bright and fun, colorful little girl's room on a budget. DIY chandelier and roman shades.
Jayci wanted to pose her in "new room." Please, dont look too closely at that "bed skirt." 
This super-cool Dollhouseis also from "Santa," (aka Amazon) circa 2012. The striped bins I got on sale at Container Store a while back, but they still carry them, and they fit perfectly inside the Ikea Expedit shelving unit we laid on its side for drawing surface and storage etc. 
Bright and fun, colorful little girl's room on a budget. Art-display chalkboard wall with vintage frames and washi tape.
It's Jayci's room, so she makes the rules. And often sends Caden to time out with the time-out-bottle. 
Bright and fun, colorful little girl's room on a budget. Gallery wall, DIY chandelier and roman shades, poster and large canvas.
Again, please ignore the bedskirt (it's super-bootlegged, I know. I have plans to add trim. We will see if that actually happens.

The "For Like Ever" poster we have had for like eight years so I cannot remember where I got it. I found them online at Super Rural tonight, in case you're looking to add one to your own collection. I got the canvas (made from one of my own photographs) from Easy Canvas
Bright and fun, colorful little girl's room on a budget. "Reading is cool" print from Etsy
Sources: 
Gallery wall art -
*Reading is cool print - from dazeychic on Etsy (from my bff Courtney for Jayci's first birthday).
*Square bird prints are from Pottery Barn kids circa Jayci's baby shower in 2008.
*Yellow owl embroidery hoop and yellow frame for Jayci's hairbows (which she refuses to wear) - made by my friend Erica (I know, she's talented right?)
*Be Kind print - from Katie Daisy on Etsy 
Bright and fun, colorful little girl's room on a budget. Chalkboard wall to display children's art.
Bright and fun, colorful little girl's room on a budget. Vintage desk and child's self-portrait inside vintage frame
Chalkboard/art wall -
*Frames are all thrifted or found at Queen of Hearts Antiques.
*Owl embroidery hoop - from Erica 
*Monkey art is by the amazing Decorey (our resident artistic talent, he did art for Caden's room too).
*All other art is by the super-talented and absolutely fabulous Jayci . . . I especially love the self-portrait. We stuck all the art up with Washi tape from Michaels on Clearance. It turns out that blue doesnt stick very well, so I added the pink tape later. Whatever works (it's my life motto yo).

The super-cute, hot-pink, vintage children's desk is from Queen of Hearts, a lucky find at $5. Don't hate me.

The quilt on Jayci's bed was made by Adam's grandma. She's the best right?

Rug - Serena and Lily (on clearance baby, I waited a long time for this one and did a little happy dance when it finally went on clearance AND I had a 20% off coupon. Bam).

Oh and the wall color is Tame Teal (same color as our kitchen). I know, it for sure should not be called tame. And the chalkboard wall is from Benjamin Moore, where it turns out you can get chalkboard paint in any color you could possibly want. Let me just tell you how long that decision took: A. Very. Long. Time.

(linked up with Liz Marie

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