Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Mother's Musings {Birthday addition}


This weekend was a whirlwind. 

I was happily anticipating attending Blog Podium in Toronto on Saturday, but was also a bit apprehensive to miss a sweet little boy, on what would be his eighth birthday. 

Luckily, we are quite literal around here, so it made sense that since our son wasn't technically born until 8pm, that I would actually be home in time to officially celebrate with him -- for one entire day.

This little predicament, as it was, taught me so much about our oldest boy.

As I make sure to do with every birthday, I spent the night before his birthday, setting up a little birthday party on our kitchen island for the birthday boy and his siblings. There was balloons, a carefully wrapped gift, a birthday sign, little party plates, napkins, kinder eggs on three place settings, special touches of little blackboards saying "Eight and Great!" and a little card, hand written, for my first baby. 

There was a cake too. 

A surprise cake on a pretty little white cake stand. A cake that had been gawked at for weeks through the glass of a bakery. A cake that was talked about and wondered over and one that a growing eight year old boy once exclaimed that he "could eat in one minute, cause it looks soooo good!" 

 I knew when I tiptoed around the night before, that the cake would be, in fact, "the icing on the cake". 

I pictured him waking up, under his Grandpa's lenient watch, and him immediately devouring the fluffy white layers in a single big bite. I could almost see the aftermath, as I pictured a messy, goofy, birthday boy grin, outlined in vanilla icing and a big ole happy beautiful mess for me to clean up when I came home later that day.

But that wasn't what happened.

After being happily reunited (12 hours is a long time for children to be away from their mothers and an extra long time for mothers who have undeniable "Mamma-guilt"). We met with "I missed yous" while big hugs were given and received. I looked at his face a dozen times and exclaimed aloud at how old he looked now. Together, as a family crammed around a restaurant table, we counted down till it was 8:00pm and we all sung happy birthday together in the middle of a restaurant -- not caring who was looking.

Much to my surprise, when we came home, into our still and darkened house, the light switched on revealing that a present had not been opened, a cake had not been pummeled and imagined sticky, icing, hand prints had not been left all over my house. 

Nothing. 

There was nothing that had changed about the little-kitchen-island-birthday-party, but a sweet, little, proud, patient boy with a clean smile and a heart full of selflessness standing in front of balloons and a bag full of stiff, untouched tissue paper.

He smiled big, with those over sized teeth filling out his mouth and making me see glimpses of the man he will become. He threw his arms around me in a big ole bear hug with his eyes full of love as he continued to explain that he wouldn't want to celebrate with a long awaited cake without the whole family being there.  

His undeniable selflessness dripped off every word his equally squeaky and husky voice uttered.

"I love you guys and want to make memories as a whole family."

His big-toothed-gap-filled-smile grew.

At that moment, with him on one side, and that pretty little cake, untouched, on the other side, I knew we were right to think that our blessings increase with every year we get to live with this little boy.

He is selfless, loving, giving and caring, with a large dash of enthusiasm, creativity, and drive. He is the first to offer a hand, to help his sister, to carry his brother, to encourage, to help out and to show care. 

I'm proud every day to have become a mother 8 years ago, but this weekend I have a new gratitude for the children I have been given. I didn't know this love I have for them could grow and expand as often as it does, but this weekend I am reminded, once again, of how amazing motherhood is. 

A mother is blessed enough to literally grow the friendships she will cherish and rely on for her entire life.

That, right there, is amazing to me.

Tonight I am thanking God for the gift of life that is my sweet, first baby, turned rough-and-tumble boy. 

Tonight my heart is bursting with a kind of love I want to write down and remember always.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Where. When. How. {A master bedroom breakdown.)

A few weeks ago I showed you a glimpse into a few rooms over here at This Little Estate when I joined forces with other Canadian bloggers. Together, we shared glimpses into our home with a virtual picture-filled home tour.


It was such fun, and the home tour generated many pondering questions from readers, and I have felt like a big meany every since, for not responding right away.

My favorite questions went like this:  

"Bethany, I wish I could have a pretty bedroom like yours, but I don't have the budget to make the room that I want. What are some tips you can give me? Where do you find all your stuff?" 

"Where did you get that wallpaper from!? Want!"

"What colour is your bedroom, I cant find it on your blog..."

"That dresser in your master was soooo ugly, I have passed so many of those up in the before, but now I cant wait to find an ugly dresser of my own now to makeover like yours!"

Well, sweet reader, let me start by saying thank you for the questions and for not sending me messages that stated you noticed the dust bunnies in the corners of all these pictures. ;) 

You guys are swell and need glasses.
 
 

So first things first, friends you do not need a big budget to pull a room together. 

I don't claim to be a design expert, but I do claim to be a major bargain hunter, red sticker lover, avid junk store searcher and thrifting enthusiast. I have also been known, on occasion, to drag something home from your curb into my home and then re purpose it for free.


Here is a great example, and break down of doing just that.

If you are like us then it is quite possible that you would rather buy your sweet babies the best crib on the market, tuck that sweet baby into 40,000 thread count sheets and then collapse on to your own sheet less mattress -- on the floor. 

We can relate. 

A few years ago we opted to graduate ourselves to a king sized bed seeing as our baby ninjas would often climb out from their silk sheets and onto our double bed. 

It was getting tight. 

Along with a new bigger and better grown-up bed came the desire to have a pretty headboard and a completed master bedroom. But, as every young family knows, when you have little children, your design budget is better spent on hockey, gymnastics, swimming lessons, soccer and on a prayer that those activities will wear them out enough to sleep in their OWN bed.

You know, you KNOW.

I like silk sheets like the next toddler, but sometimes, being a grown up means being a little selfless.
 
That meant cutting down costs on our own bedroom and getting creative. 

Thankfully, something I love to do.
So here is the break down:
 
Our headboard was found thrifting for $5 and got a little makeover, I talked about that HERE.

Our room got a budget-friendly-bang-for-your-buck-feature-wall, by adding a stencil to one of our main walls. It was $75 (at the time with a coupon) and was birthday money well spent.  It can be found at Royal Design Studios and is called the large damask stencil. I used a semi gloss bright white paint to give it a bit of interest against our tan walls. (Behre Paint & Primer: Messa Taupe)

Our lamp was a curbside treasure updated with a new shade and some white spray paint.

Our round mirror was purchased thrifting for $5 and is a vintage replica.  I loved that it matched the round mirror I had already painted and loved how it would add some symmetry to our room.

 

(I'm still pondering painting both round mirrors to match, and/or change both of their colours entirely.)

Thoughts welcome in the comment section at the end of this post! 



Our pillows I hand stitched with my limited sewing abilities. (Thanks for teaching me how to make scrunchies Mom! Thanks Dad for buying me that sewing machine for my sweet sixteen birthday even if that DID mean I could make myself mini skirts that you disapproved of!)
 

Our version of the Rast hack was pretty straight forward. You can read the post HERE for more details. I horded paint from my local recycling centre for FREE.  

Yes, FREEEEEE, people!

 Check out your local dump and recycling center to see if you too are missing out on a plethora of paint in every finish and colour!

 

Our curtains and bed skirt were purchased from a little consignment shop and both felt extremely luxurious. A good wash in hot water and a good steam later they have added the perfect amount of softness to our room for under $20!
Our side table accessories were all found treasures.
 

And the best treasure of all are the twelve sparkliest drawer pulls I ever did see. Finding them was literally an-unusual-extreme-thrifting-miracle-sent-from-heaven-into-my-cart kind of deal.

I love how our Rast Hack turned out, so I redid another long dresser for our itty-bitty-master, to help with the lack of storage in our itty-bitty-his-and-her-closets.

The hubby would like to interject that our closets aren't small at all and actually, I am just a clothing hoarder. But, you women KNOW we can never have enough closet space, so I know you don't believe him.


I scored this solid oak dresser for $25. I redid it with recycled paint and some inexpensive pulls from home depot (Buy the prepackaged pulls in bulk (usually 12 in a pack) and you will save bundles. This dresser redo is still my most viewed POST after two plus years. You can check it out HERE.


The accessories we have gracing the dresser's top are sometimes buried under heaps of folded laundry, but that's cool, because nothing is too precious around here.


I love how mirrors can be used as trays. But I DO also love a mirror hanging in its rightful spot, front and center on a wall.


The giant vintage mirror that hangs above our dresser was an absolute "start the car" kind of deal. 

I went to my local Re Store (Habitat for Humanity) and fell in love with it. The only problem was it was being sold as a pair with a heck-of-an-ugly dresser. 

TIP: I have learned, over the years, that if you share your friendly attitude with the lovely volunteers that help out at your local thrift stores, not only do you build a nice relationship, but they become more than willing to share the friendliness back. At times, at very good times, it is returned to you in one big-heap-of-a-deal and you run away with a giant mirror stuffed into your vehicle and your children with cranked necks beneath it. ;)
 

On to a tale about another mirror:

I'm slightly obsessed with rethinking items in stores and the ones I have had kicking around our home forever. It comes like second nature to me and I'm sure was annoying to my parents (Sorry about that desk I cut up that one time with a hand saw! I totally didn't know it was a wedding present!)

But I mean, how could I not see the potential in this mirror I have had since I was a teenager. 

With a few cuts of wood and some FREE paint, I made myself a new-to-me selfie mirror and now I no longer leave the house with my skirt tucked into my nylons or walk out the door rocking see through dresses anymore.

Win-win.


So, you can see, through this thorough master bedroom breakdown, that any room can be completed with some ingenuity, creativity, some shopping around, some thrifting, some diy-ing and some love for the journey of making a room feel like home.

Hopefully I have answered all your questions on where things are from and how things are done. 

I guess this now means that I will see you in the paint recycling center and scouring my favorite thrift stores. ;)  

When you spot me yelling "Start the car!!" help a girl out, K??  I promise I will treat you to a hot drink and something sweet. 

JUST. LIKE. YOU. :D

BEFORE:

 

AFTER:

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Simple Sunday {Be encouraged. Keep being you. Spread love anyways.}

Today I am bringing back "Simple Sunday", a time when I share some words from my heart that are meant to inspire and encourage.

So, this is a Simple Sunday post, but sometimes life isn't at all simple, is it?

In actuality it can be complex and confusing and at times, downright weird.

Have you ever had it where you feel misunderstood? Where people in your life, don't actually take the time to see your heart? They judge your motives, They misinterpret your life, They are critical, They are negative and They have no problem sharing their negative opinions with others, about you??

If you are female, and reading this, I am sure this has happened to you at least twice today. ;) And that's only from your husband!

When I am feeling misunderstood and when my motives are misconstrued, I try to focus on positivity. 

I wanted to share three different works with you, which all have the same thread of "love" running through them. The same idea of continuing, persisting and growing your positive outlook on difficult people and circumstances.

Martina McBrides words rang loud and clear at my high school graduation and I will never forget how the words of her song were able to touch the coldest hearts of my graduating class.

Her song "Do it Anyway" is still one of my favs:

You can spend your whole life building something from nothing
One storm can come and blow it all away ... build it anyway
You can chase a dream that seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way ... dream it anyway
God is great, but sometimes life ain't good
And when I pray it doesn't always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway ... I do it anyway
This worlds gone crazy and it's hard to believe,
That tomorrow will be better than today ... believe it anyway
You can love someone with all your heart, for all the right reasons
And in a moment they can choose to walk away ... love em anyway
God is great, but sometimes life ain't good
And when I pray it doesn't always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway ... yeah, I do it anyway
You can pour your soul out singing a song you believe in
That tomorrow they'll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway ... yeah, sing it anyway yeah, yeah
I sing ... I dream ... I love ... Anyway

Mother Teresa is another one who spoke words that are able to touch my heart. Her thoughts are so pure and genuine and words that I like to focus on when the going gets tough and the ride of life is too rough.

She said this:

 People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.   
Forgive them anyway.
            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  
Be kind anyway.
            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.
           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  
Be honest and sincere anyway.
            What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  
Create anyway.
            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  
Be happy anyway.
            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  
Do good anyway.
         Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  
Give your best anyway.
         In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  
It was never between you and them anyway.

I am in love with this whole idea of ignoring what others say, and instead looking deep into your own heart and finding the truths of who you are.

Lastly, Dr. Kent M. Keith also had some amazing things to say about being you, staying true and being confidant and constant. 

His "Paradoxical Commandments" are truths that I try to incorporate with Mother Teresa's and echo her sentiment.


He said:  
  1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
    Love them anyway.
  2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
    Do good anyway.
  3. If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
    Succeed anyway.
  4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
    Do good anyway.
  5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
    Be honest and frank anyway.
  6. The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
    Think big anyway.
  7. People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
    Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
  8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
    Build anyway.
  9. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
    Help people anyway.
  10. Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
    Give the world the best you have anyway.
 
Guys, if you are reading this, and you can relate to feeling misunderstood and unjustly misinterpreted, then follow Nike's slogan and "just do it". 
 
Do it all, all of what these three great people have sang and spoken about, do it all --anyways.
 
I have learned in my 31 years of life, that you will only grow your positivity if you love when they don't deserve it, cheer when they haven't earned it, praise when they aren't worthy, edify instead of tearing down, and do it all with a happy and true heart. 
 
Try it. You will be happy you did.
 
And to keep it a little comical, always remember this:
What Susie says of Sally says more of Susie than of Sally. Remember that.
PS: If you really want to spread the love, then check out this post about The Porch Project. You too can get involved sharing a little bit of love, with those around you, in a tangible way. This broken world can always use a little more love.
 

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Summer Loving Had Me A Blast {Long weekend recap}

When the long Labour Day weekend approaches, I get filled with so many different emotions. 

I am excited for the new school year, I am thankful for teachers that will take over occupying my busy babies and yet I'm full of feelings of wanting things to stay the same - forever.

When the last week of summer rolls in, with its colder mornings and hot late August sunshine, I turn into that crazy lady at Target who stuffs allllll the red ticket items into here cart. Except, my memory is the cart and the red ticket deals are all the moments of summer that I want to remember forever.

This summer we squeezed in a dozen trail walks and runs, long days at the beach, two rib fests, afternoons at the library, play dates with friends, trips to the Market, sunset hunting, frog catching, pool swimming, vacation taking and lazy days spent in the sand box at Nana's house.

We are like you, and love to squeeze in a lot during the fleeting summer months. But still, when the long weekend comes, I want to cram the whole weekend full of fun. 

So, as we do every year, for the last weekend of summer, we hatched a plan to go for a hike with the kids, go the the beach with some family, attend Fan Expo and The Ex, and to ride the ferris wheel at our favorite park, one last time.


We are all about traditions over here and naturally our three babies have picked up the same need and desire to replicate past awesome experiences.

That means dragging them hours here and there fitting in as much fun as possible.

 

Ignore the crappy cell pictures, that moody-little-girl-scowl that has come to stay with our girl turning five years old, and the fact that my son just found OJ's missing black glove circa 1994 in the back seat of our family van.

 

Since I am a mama to boys I have tried to embrace all things comic book, super hero, sci fi, dangerous, daring and sometimes way over my head.


See? EMBRACE.


Our first long weekend stop was attending The Fan Expo in Toronto, Ontario held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. It is a a Thursday to Sunday event and over 90,000 fans have been known to attend. This is the place where everyone who has ever loved a character from comic books, science fiction, anime, video games or from any collectible card game attends, in full-on-get-up-costume that they have planned for an entire year, and some, an entire life time.


We rode in an elevator with R2D2 who was a prime example of years of dedication and artistry.
 

The kids were amazed at how authentic some of the costumes were. Like, cover up all the children's eyes so they didnt see the zombie fans and the zombie fans who were the zombies lunch. I was more enthralled with some of the set design, like this little set up? This one had me wondering how I could grab that white chair and run away with it!


Our five year old's scowl faded slightly when she got to meet Apple Jacks.

 

Some face painting and some cute pony ears later, we were feeling run way ready.

 

We built lego and ohhhh-ed and ahhh-ed over the Lego artists of the world.


And then we ohh-ed and ahh-ed over the actors in attendance who were meeting and greeting.

 

Hi Green Arrow!!! 
My husband totally called him a dream boat before I snapped this creeperish photo, by the way.

We ended up saying HI! to a lot of our favorites.


Hi Storm Trooppers!!


Hi Sherrif Rick!


Hi TRUE Yoda quote!

I love this quote and I love that it applied to me when I was a little girl and today it speaks to my little wee girl.  
Note: NO scowl in sight.

 Our next stop was The Ex which is a place we have been going to for a long time. It is a staple on our summer bucket list and something the hubs and I have both been doing with our own families since we were little kids.


There is just something great about standing in front of the same fountain, year after year, with another baby in our arms and growing littles around us, and capturing a moment in time, one that shows change and growth and is like a meter stick in my mama memory.


On our way out the door this past sunny Sunday afternoon, my sweet memory loving man, announced that our trip to the CNE would be our eleventh together.


I hunted down this gem of a picture to show just how many babies we have added, how much we have changed and how much picture quality has come. ;)


We took all the babies we have added to our famjam and took them to a Robert Munch play. We love Mr Munch , and we think it is extra cool that he is from our home town too!

And yeah, I am like all Mamas and cry my eyes out when I hear the words from his famous book: "I love you forever, I like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."


We saw some more action figures...


Jived to some Irish dancing and heard some gorgeous singing.


We marveled at sand castles that made ours from this summer look like nothing!



and we pointed out cows, lamas, emus, pigs and goats.

 

And as traditions go, we did also devour a sundae on a stick, a waffle ice cream sandwich and the best middle eastern food I have ever had.


As we always do, we watched rides fly by, lights flicker and change and took in the smells and sounds of another year at the CNE.




 My amazing hubby snapped this one of my snapping those ones of the passing, streaming, glowing lights.

Every year, without fail, we say, "Lets go to the EX." and we love the memories we make together and the ones we pass on to our little family.

The best thing about long weekends is the fact that we get one more day to spend time side by side being a family.

On Monday, we braved the all day showers and mugginess and went to Riverside Park in the town my babies know as home. We ate bbq hotdogs on the softest white buns and devoured roasted corn on the cob with slippery butter and road on top of carousel ponies and snapped pictures while riding round and round the vintage carousel we know all too well.
This weekend we did so many things we usually do, but something seemed different. Something felt like deja vu.

And then, it hit me like a ton of bricks, as the realization set in that today feels the same as it did so long ago because that is how nostalgia works.

Our oldest starts grade three tomorrow, our daughter will make faces all through JK and our baby is well on his way to growing and changing and looking forward to school filled days as well.

Even though we try to recreate the past and to hold on to all the innocence that once was, life will always change around us. 

CUE: All the Mamas cry in unison.

Our two oldest have gone to school now with their memory carts full.


It makes me happy to know that the scrawled bucket list we wrote three months ago, is now all crossed off. 

And here we are just the two of us.

Sunsets, sunrises, picnics, beach days, play dates, rainy days, bug catching, deck building, adventure seeking, sandcastle building, blanket spreading, sand shaking, bike riding, sweat wiping, water guzzling, sunscreen smearing, hike going and adventure seeking.

This summer was typical and yet somehow amazing. 

We will miss you brother and sister. We will pray that our well wishes reach you as you sit in your desk, leap from monkey bars and create crafts that we will proudly hang up, look at and remind us of you.

Until next summer when we can do it all again.
 
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