Creating a Family Culture

I love podcasts. I just got into them in the last year -- personal finance, parenting, blogging... I can work on other things and listen. I discovered Power of Moms and it has been a game changer. Food for my mama soul. Highly recommend.

I shared this podcast from Power of Moms about family identity and culture with my husband on one of our road trips to visit with family.

What is our family culture?
I'd say as a family we value hard work. We expect nothing to be handed to us, and we know we'll have to hustle to keep moving forward. Though our little lady recently said, "I don't want to do your jobs" when I asked her to do something, that was swiftly corrected. We emphasize that we are a team and we all have to help each other so we can have fun and enjoy our time together. Our concept of team wasn't solidified until after our daughter was born, when my husband had emergency surgery.

We value honesty in our family. No one is more honest than a toddler. Brutally so at times. But the Mr. and I also place high value on honesty and we keep that at the forefront of our relationship with one another and with our children. If we can't be honest with each other, then what's the point of all of this? This also includes being honest with ourselves, examining our own motivations and aspirations.

Love is a big part of our family culture, the glue that holds us all together. The Mr. and I are affectionate with each other and with the kids. There is lots of cuddling and saying "I love you" and hugs and kisses. And I frequently remind the kids to "love each other" when it seems they're about to have a cage match in the playroom.

Surprisingly, and delightfully to this art history loving mama, art is a part of our family culture. Our little lady says that she is an artist. She is prolific in her art, covering our refrigerator and a wall in our back room with her latest creations. 

And like many artists, she can be messy.

But I suppose she's just mimicking her mama's work area. My desk is covered in craft supplies and projects, lists, and pages torn from magazines.

So we throw a little grace in there. Messy spaces that we don't rush to clean up (even if we had the energy to do that every day). Room to make mistakes and forgive one another. Every day is a fresh start.

We value education. We read to the kids every night. Oh how I hope they love to read as they get older.

The Mr. and I read and consume tons of information ourselves. Our view of the world is that there is always something new to learn, and we are hungry for new knowledge. I've never known anyone who could absorb information like my Mr. He can read it and know it, spin it around in his head and add something new to it. We hope to pass that hunger on to our children. We encourage the kids to see new things, to open their eyes during walks down the neighborhood sidewalks and collect their "treasures". Jars of acorns and dried berries and a basket full of rocks.

Life in our family is far from perfect, but that's where humor helps. A lot. There have been so many times in our marriage and life as a family where if we could not laugh, we would have cried. Our little lady is even trying to tell jokes at the dinner table now. Of course, she's 5 so they don't make much sense, but she just laughs and laughs after the supposed punchline. You can't help but join her.

My family isn't perfect, it's a work in progress. I'm very proud of what we four beings have become together.


Making It Pretty

My 17-year-old self would not believe that I've become so interested in making things look pretty. That angsty kid would be rolling her eyes at my latest "ooh, so shiny and pretty" tastes. That's the good thing about life-- you're allowed to change.

In the last few years, I've found myself reading more home/lifestyle blogs and becoming more interested in pillows and paint colors and fabrics and shiny knick knacks, particularly if they're from Nate Berkus' line at Target. 

Now don't think that because I enjoy these books and "make it pretty" blogs that my house looks anything like this. Far from it! I've got two kids and two cats creating messes everywhere I look. But a girl can dream, and enjoy a few little corners or items that evoke this aesthetic.

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The Leftovers

I'm an introvert. I am much better at making friends in small groups. I measure relationships in the quality of interactions rather than the quantity. I really don't need a lot of people. I don't like most people that much anyway.

But I do need time to myself. I crave time to myself. As a mom, that's a precious, rare commodity.

Time when little bodies aren't climbing all over me, their squishy, maternal jungle gym. Time when little voices aren't constantly asking for something. Time when I can go to the bathroom in peace, without little fists banging at the bathroom door (if it's even closed) or little fingers reaching under the bottom of the door.

Margin. Blank space.

Time to breathe in and out and just be. Time to stare blankly. Time to sip tea. While it's hot. This time recharges my batteries and makes me a better wife and mom. It lengthens my fuse, helps me focus on them instead of on me.

So I've been trying to get up early to have some alone time. Man, it's hard! One morning was great and I thought, "Yes, this is what those other moms, you know, the ones on all of the blogs, do. I can be disciplined and I can totally dominate this getting up early thing."

Morning 2 was a disaster. The kids started getting up the same time as I was. Maybe because they had been sneaking into our bed in the middle of the night and my 6 am alarm was waking them. Or maybe they just felt the fun I was having and decided that it couldn't be had without them. (Not the case but that is surely what my sleep-deprived brain thought.)

Every morning since then has been a real toss-up. One morning I woke up and nearly completed an entire DIY project. The next morning, I barely got dressed and made a cup of tea before a little blonde head came bounding down the stairs asking for breakfast. And I'm a freaking ninja when I'm sneaking downstairs. Ask any woman who has sleeping children she doesn't want to wake quite yet. I've never been so stealth.

When it works, I see the great value this alone time adds to my day and my experiences with my children and husband. Time to center myself benefits all of us.

This past week our bedtime has gotten later and later. We've done a better job at getting the kids to bed rather quickly and at their appointed bedtime, but we have been stretching out our time downstairs and not getting to bed early enough for me to get up and have alone time in the morning. (6 hours of sleep is not quite enough for me to continuously function.) It's time to recommit to getting to bed at a reasonable time so I can be a better mama and wife. More patient and calm. More focused.

Making time for myself is not about finding the leftover bits of the day, but rather about intentionally setting aside time.

I'm worth more than the leftovers and so is my sanity.


How do you make time for yourself? What are your morning habits?


Hakuna Matata

We had a yard sale on Saturday. In preparing for the yard sale, I went through the house on Friday night and grabbed every sit around that didn't have a specific spot in the house that I didn't absolutely love. My golden spray painted lion didn't make the cut.

But then when we were putting everything out on tables in the driveway too early on Saturday morning, I just couldn't part with him. His mates are a golden giraffe and elephant, who currently appear to be grazing on some faux plants in the dining room. (Cue "Circle of Life" which our little lady has been singing as "Circle of Light" in the car lately.)

After the yard sale, we went to Habitat for Humanity ReStore to look for a cheap headboard for our son. Score, and for under $10. (Expect an update in a few weeks with the transformation using chalky paint.) And then I happened to see a stack of 50 cent bricks on our way out.

And the wheels were a turnin'...

Golden lion + brick painted white = perfect book end!

The brick was pretty rough looking, but for 25 cents (yes, apparently they were on sale!) I could make it work. I picked the smoothest side for the lion's throne. And my Target dollar spot lion had a few spots in his beard mane that needed another hit of gold.

A little spray paint and E6000 glue and time.

I used some cork self-adhesive shelf liner that I had for the bottom so the brick wouldn't scuff up our shelves. It seems to be adhering fine, but if it starts coming off, I plan to switch to white felt.

And then I realized that I had put together this project from inspiration from two projects from blogs I follow. See Cassie's elephant bookends here and Jackie's gilded menagerie (the reason I have all three dollar spot animals in my home today) here.

His name is Mufasa and he cost less than $2.


How have you transformed items with spray paint? What combinations of items have you put together to make a new functional or decorative (or bonus points for both!) item for your home?