Type your search keyword, and press enter

Our “Tiny House” Experience or How I Flooded Our Home {Part One}

Once upon a time, in a town called Plano, there lived a mommy, a daddy, three kids and a few fish. On one particular day, the mommy was trying to get some things taken care of while the baby slept, the daddy was at work and the two older children were in summer care. In her haste to clean, she left the bathtub running. While multi-tasking as most mothers do, the baby cried, laundry was changed over and the mommy decided to listen to the sermon from Sunday that she had missed. 45 minutes later, this mommy headed towards the door to go pick up her two older children only to see a slosh of water coming from the bathroom flowing into the main foyer, her husbands office, the children’s bedrooms and, as she found out later, generously watering the front of the house.

This once upon a time was our reality a month ago. As a result, our house was a disaster zone.

After 5 days of fans and dehydrators and pulling up damaged floors and tearing out ruined drywall. We were able to return to our home…that now looked like this. I put a rug down both for safety and to make it feel at least a little like a home.
carpet covering ruined floors

 

Thankfully my mistake was covered sans deductible by our house insurance but we had to live through a heck of a renovation process. Below is what we had to remove from two bedroom closets, a linen closet and a game closet.IMG_1282

IMG_1249

 

IMG_1274

The kids having fun in our crazy.
IMG_1251

 

We moved the kids beds to the playroom during the renovation. Oh. My. Word. Was that tough. Every one slept wherever seemed to work in that moment. Devin slept in Charlee’s bed some. Both the older kids slept in our bed either for naps or as a result of rogue bed time behavior. I slept next to Devin on his crib mattress on the floor in our bedroom a few times. Even Marshall slept for a bit on Charlee’s bed!IMG_1257

Here’s more of the crazy. IMG_1270

IMG_1271

In the midst of all the insanity we tried really hard to find some new normal. Here’s our attempt at making the living room functional despite the decrease in space due to stuff everywhere.

IMG_1280

And our Nursery that I likened to Wendy’s in Peter Pan.

IMG_1154

We went from a nearly 2,000 square foot home to less than half of that in usable, livable space. Granted I know people live in less on a regular basis but when you’ve been used to a larger amount of space and your children are USED TO a routine and their own room….well, it was rough on us Parkers!

Here is what I learned from this part of the experience:
The night this all happened our Community Group (from our church) dropped what they were doing and helped us. It’s hard to make a mistake, especially when it is a silly expensive mistake but our friends that are like family embraced the opportunity to love us in our literal mess. And it felt good. It was lesson worth learning.

 

Stay tuned for more pics of the renovation process and how the house looks now and all the lessons we’ve learned along the way. 

Dom’s Superhero Half Birthday Party

Devin was born 13 days before Dominic turned 4 years old. On top of that, Dominic came down with pneumonia, Charlotte had an ear infection and sweet Devin tested positive for RSV! Oh those were some bleak days for the Parkers.

Despite the fact that having a baby is a pretty good excuse to pass on a party I just could not let Dom turn 4 without a party.

Cue the half birthday idea. We could celebrate his birthday in July!

Dom is a huge fan of superheroes (as are most kids his age) so we went with a Superhero Theme. I made most of the decorations

I started by making some fun buildings. I used empty diaper and amazon boxes for the larger props and waffle boxes for the smaller ones.

boxes and black paper

 

I think they turned out pretty well!
cardboard buildings

 

Next I used a mask template to make foam superhero masks. I already had the foam. Pretty sure I bought the package from Walmart once upon a time. I found the foam stickers in the Target Dollar Aisle and the plastic string I purchased as a 4 pack from the Dollar Tree. It was a lot of tracing and cutting but worth it for Dom. Charlee helped make my example. I eventually had to cut her off. Her affinity for stickers can be a bit over the top.superhero mask template

 

mask supplies

What’s a Superhero without a sidekick? I got the popsicle sticks, googly eyes and even the glue from the Dollar Tree. I had tons of felt that I cut to size for the capes. We ended up using glue dots for adhesive though.

sidekick supplies

 

In addition to looking the part of superhero our trainee’s had to do some shield throwing Captain America Style. This was easy. We already had the red frisbee. A little construction paper to finish the shield and some plastic cups from the Dollar Tree. Done.
shield throwing practice

 

Here is where the little buildings made from waffle boxes came in handy. Grab a building and practice jumping!

building jumping practice

entrance

Picking a superhero name.
signing in

 

Friends arriving,guests arriving

Working on their superhero masks.working on the masks

 

Creating their sidekicks!sidekicks

Getting in their shield throwing practice.

shield throwing

Building jumping skills are a necessity for Superheroes!building jumping

jump

Time for the final Superhero certification test. Climbing up a building, retrieving a bomb, going down a slide and running the bomb to the bomb diffusing station!obstacle course

bomb diffusing

more bombs

Dom had a pretty amazing group of Superheroes who came to celebrate his 4 1/2 birthday and they all passed their Superhero Training test!superheroes

We celebrated with ice cream. icecream

And before everyone left we gave them a Superhero Goody Bag.goody bags

We also had a photo opportunity using clouds we made for Dom’s room and a table cloth from…you guessed it: Dollar Tree!

superdom

super devThanks to a library Superhero day and multiple blog posts from which I snagged all my ideas, I think Dom and his superhero friends had a pretty fabulous party!

 

Our Summer Staycation!

 

This July both due to lots of doctor bills (we had a baby this year after all) and unexpected home repairs we decided  to do a StayCation in lieu of a traditional vacation.

Here’s a glimpse into our week at home.

We played in our pool. Not big but the kids loved it. At one point we put the hose on the slide and the kids LOVED going down the ‘water slide’!

Pool time

We also tackled a DIY night stand project. Here’s Dom assisting by sorting the wood by size.Building project

Charlee helped too. Sorting the wood

Devin just looked cute and smiled a lot. baby

baby smiling

 

Of course you need the proper protection for these extensive DIY projects!

wear your goggles

 

Dom helped hold the wood in place as Marshall put the screws in.helping build the shelf

One of the night stands complete. Marshall built and stained two for our bedroom. They are gorgeous and getting a lot of good use!finished product

 

We went to a local pool. Never mind that we were in the pool 45 minutes and took 45 minutes to get everyone dressed and back to the car. We made it to the pool! Afterwards, we went to the park for a picnic lunch. picnic

Devin really enjoyed it.sleepy baby

 

Then we flew kites. Dom had an Ironman kite.kite flying

kite flying 2

kite flying 3

Charlee had a Hello Kitty Kite.hello kitty kite

During our staycation we had fun doing playdough, crafts and watching movies.playdough

playdough 2

Here’s our 4th of July Fireworks crafts in process. 4th of july crafts

july crafts

It was a wonderful blessing to be with family. little dev

little mozart dev

Hotels and amusement parks are great but getting rest and surrounding yourself with family…that’s what matters no matter the location. life is beautiful

 

The Nights Are Long but the Sleeps Are Short

My husband and I are not getting much rest these days. The reason is a five letter word: D-E-V-I-N.

Devin is our six month old little baby boy who, although he is our third child, is breaking the mold on everything we thought we knew about parenting.

From his choice of entry into the world to the way he sleeps or rather does not sleep through the night, this sweet precious baby boy keeps us on our toes and continually scratching our heads. Nothing we did with our first two works and we feel like brand new parents all over again.  All the tricks we thought we’d mastered, all the experience we thought we had gained, and all the baby whispering superpowers we thought we had acquired…nope. Nothing works.
Come to find out…
We just had a firstborn who thrives off routine and a middle child who likes her sleep. And now, we have a baby who wants to make sure he stays the baby. Don’t worry, kid, you’ve convinced us!

Parenting is just not what I ever expected. I mean that in a good way. And I also mean it in a “whoa! this wasn’t what I was expecting when I said I wanted to have kids” way.

But then my son says to me tonight: “Mommy one day when I’m big like you I can pray prayers like you”. Yes, son. You already do and God loves to hear you talk to Him. {Please never stop!}

And then my daughter climbs up into my lap and snuggles me as we watch “Fia!” (Sofia). {Lord, may we always be close!}

And when my sweet mold breaking baby boy who laughs when others laugh and cries when others cry, it reminds me to do the same for others. {may his heart always be so tender}

No. Parenting is not easy. It’s tiring. It’s thankless. It is a constant sowing of seeds that may or may not yield the crop for which we hope.

It is, however, a beautiful journey. Our greatest mission field. And perhaps one of God’s greatest manifestations of His unconditional love for His Bride.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!…” 1 John 3:1

So although I’m not getting the sleep  I want, I’m thankful for the gift that is parenting and the three little blessings that call me “mommy”. This journey has taught me so much about the gentle beckoning of the Spirit, the persistent grace of the Father and the sacrificial love of the Savior for me.
And that is worth losing sleep over.

sleeping devin

Embrace the Mess

 

I have a problem that I think most moms have. I can’t seem to keep my house clean. No matter how many trips per month we make to The Goodwill to drop off our excess, the junk seems to multiply like my daughter’s favorite animals: bunnies!

And with my personality, it just drives me nuts.  I spend a lot of time putting things away, vacuuming floors and purging stuff.

And my poor kids. They just want to play and I just want to put every thing away.

But today.

Today, I looked at the house. I saw the mess and I decided that I would embrace it. And more importantly I would embrace life.

I pulled out the finger paints which is something I’d much rather display than use. Being honest here.

Here’s Charlee doing finger paint in a box (a trick I picked up from her brilliant teachers as it helps better contain the mess).
charlee fingerpainter

 

Or so I thought. Love this girl. Unlike my eldest, she is not afraid to get her hands, her face, her entire body dirty in order to have fun!

face paint finger painter Charlee

 

Here’s my youngest taking it all in.

Mommy what is on Charlee's face?

 

And while my eldest was at swim lessons and Charlee was having a blast with paints, I knocked out a few projects.

My mom made this cross stitch piece 7 years ago. It has been sitting in a box folded up for SEVEN years! All because I’ve wanted to get it professionally framed. It may not look as pretty in this frame but it is IN a frame!
precious moments wedding frame

And here’s some patriotic garland I hope to hang from the mantle.

patriotic garland

 

Here is my handsome guy after his first day of swim lessons. swim lesson Dom

So although my house may not be pristine right now, my heart is full. Perhaps I’ll embrace the mess more often!

DIY Craft Supply Caddy

With three kids 4 and under, the opportunities I have to do anything crafty is very rare. Even when I do, it takes much longer than it would have before kids.

This project, start to finish, took two months. It started with the purchase of this pretty neat caddy. I’m not sure what it’s original purpose was, but I found it at Goodwill for 99 cents, and it looked like a perfect Craft Supply Caddy to me! A few weeks of can collecting and I was ready to put it all together.

craft caddy

I took the labels off the can and then ran them through the dishwasher to get the extra yuck off of them.

nice and shiny

Because I wanted to make the Craft Supply Caddy for my kids, I solicited their help in the decorating process. They used this really cool Color Wonder paper and markers. Have you heard of this stuff? It’s amazing. Anyway, the kids decorated and I glued them onto the cans.

using color wonder markers to decorate

 

larry boy

Here’s the finished product. Love it. And the kids do too!

craft caddy

If Not For Grace {Where Will They Be?}

There’s a fear as a parent that kind of sneaks up on you. I really don’t think it is there when you say I do. It may cross your mind when you see the (+) sign on the pregnancy stick. It may creep up here or there as you contemplate your little one’s future but as a wise friend shared with me recently, it definitely doesn’t consume your thoughts as you rock your sweet baby to sleep.

But over time it does come. For me, the fear has begun to surface now at the tender parenting age of 4. I’ve been doing this mom thing for 4 years now. Wow. Seems longer in some ways and in others so brief. I sure do know less than I thought I did four years ago.

As my eldest begins to grow in his understanding of good choices and bad choices, as he experiments with using kind words and mean words, as his will becomes iron clad {read: extremely strong and stubborn}, and as his thoughts become more articulate and his memory more photographic, it is now that the fear can overtake me.

Not always, of course but it is there all the same. The fear that I will fail in raising my children in a way that leads to them living their lives fully surrendered to Christ. It’s funny…ironic. I’m not worried about them failing in other areas.

Fall off your bike? No big deal! Dust the knees off and let’s get back on!

Make a C in Algebra? No worries! Let’s tackle this Math giant together.

Didn’t make the basketball team? That’s okay. Let’s practice this summer together and give it another try next season.

Make a decision that contradicts everything that Mom and Dad have tried to teach you about living for Christ? Utter. Fear.

Make a bad choice. No. I mean a really really REALLY bad choice…and I’ve failed as a parent.

Question your faith? Well, that’s okay….I want you to truly own your faith. But please don’t do something so terribly bad that it alters your future.

Deep breath.

Dom is only 4. Charlotte is sassy but that comes with 2 right? And Devin…his greatest transgression is going through 5 diapers in less than a half hour.

In time, however, all three will fail. Make the wrong choice. It could be as seemingly insignificant as coloring on the walls with crayons or as drastic as a rebellious stint around town painting graffiti on walls {do people still do that?}

How will I respond when these and the in-between mistakes happen?

We teach our children to love one another. Be kind to one another. To share. To forgive. To ask others for forgiveness.

Am I doing the same? Am I extending grace?

Or am I that example that says in a pharisaical way that only certain sins are forgive-able? Do my actions illustrate the lie that there are levels of transgressions?

OR do I show that GRACE is GRACE is GRACE!

Sure. There are natural consequences to each choice we make. There are results we must live with because of those decisions. Good and bad.

In the midst of every decision, do my children know that I love them without conditions. That more importantly their heavenly Father loves them without prerequisite. Do my children understand that although my actions and responses to their choices may be flawed that the love of God is without blemish…that it is UNconditional….pouring out…OVERFLOWING in buckets of grace.

How do I teach my children to make the best choices? How do I give them permission to fail when I am honestly so terrified to see them fail? When I fear the height from which they may descend before they learn to soar?

And then the verses come:

“…And while we were still sinners Christ died for us”. {Romans 5:8}

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” { Ephesians 2:8}

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need”. {Hebrews 4:16}

In that moment, I am reminded that my husband and I have been blessed with three beautiful children who are on loan as the saying goes. We feed them, clothe them, sing and dance with them when they are young. We read with them, talk with them about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. The SAVIOR who died to pay the insurmountable debt of sin.

So..in this scary world of conflicting statments and questions like:

“What is truth?”

“Doesn’t matter what you believe. You do your thing and I’ll do mine. It’s all good.”

“What does the Bible really say about A,B, and C?”

“That’s okay for you but I’m making my own path.”

In the midst of all that, I can love like Jesus, teach my children to do the same, love his word, teach his word, extend grace, receive grace, pray, pray, PRAY and watch the Holy Spirit stir their hearts and lead them on their own journey with Christ.

Will there be scabbed knees, literally and spiritually, along the way? You betcha! But I have to trust that the God who pursued my heart, who continues to call to me and remind me of His unfailing love for me, is calling out to my children as well. I have to believe that his grace is deeper, wider, and of greater substance than anything I can muster up on my own. He loves me faults and all.

He loves me just like:

Judas who betrayed him

Peter who denied him

Paul who persecuted him

His grace never ran out on them…it hasn’t run out on me.  And it won’t run out on my children.

They have amazing futures ahead of them. They will make lots and lots of mistakes along the way.

But that is okay because….GRACE.

parker_nb-77 (1)

Tea for Two {Charlotte Leigh’s 2nd Birthday}

 

Last Saturday, we celebrated our daughter’s 2nd Birthday. Her birthday is in March, but the arrival of our 3rd child in January has us a little behind.

Here are few highlights of this sweet little party we had with a few of her little friends.

 

tea for two
Charlotte’s Invitation. I found a teacup template online and used scented drawer liner paper for the teacup.

 

scarves and hats and jewelry
The dress up area. Hats, scarves and jewelry. I found those cute little suitcases in my favorite shopping destination: downtown McKinney!

 

Charlee dressed up
All dressed up!

 

trying jewelry
My sweet adorable niece picking out some jewelry.

 

putting together a teapot picture frame
I found these cute teapot picture frames through oriental trading.

 

tea time!
I found a super cute book about tea parties. I’m so sad I didn’t get a good picture of the tables. I found the hanging tulle through a friend raising funds for a ministry. Win-Win!

 

food
This is unfortunately the aftermath of the party but we had sweet tea (of course), lots of yummy fruit, teapot cookies and Strawberry Shortcake. Notice the bell on the table? We rang this to announce tea time! It has a beautiful butterfly on it. 

 

 

mason jar silverware
I found this metal caddy at a thrift store. {surprise, surprise} I bought the mason jars at the grocery store and the plastic ware at the dollar tree, napkins, plates and straws from Target. 
eating food
I created the place mats with the same drawer line paper. I used chalkboard cardstock for the place cards.

 

 

sweet little friends
Aren’t these the cutest tea party littles you ever saw?! In the trees I hung instagram photographs of Charlotte.

 

slide
What’s a tea party without a little girl time on the slide?!

 

friends
Thankful for such great friends!

 

everyone
Swoon! The banner says “tea for two”

 

charlee is two
Sipping tea

 

party favors :)
Party favors: I got the cute little purses in the Target Dollar Spot. The contents were bubbles, tea party stickers and a teapot necklace kit.

 

thank yous
I couldn’t resist the garden tools I found at a thrift shop!

 

charlotte leigh
Happy 2nd Birthday Charlotte Leigh!

 

I am really proud of how Charlee’s party turned out. Perfectionist me could tell you a million things that I forgot or didn’t do the way I envisioned but those sweet important little people didn’t notice. And that is truly all that matters.

My Body My Choice {A Repost}

I wrote this shortly after I found out I was pregnant with Charlotte Leigh. Since then, my body has changed even more with the arrival of not only a second child but a third! I needed to *hear* this. Perhaps someone else does as well.

Eighteen glorious months ago I gave birth to a beautiful 8lb, 8 and half ounce baby boy. On January 20, 2011, Dominic Truth arrived on the scene and our lives have never been the same.

Neither has my body.

Perhaps I should rewind even further to the day I found out I was pregnant. Little did I know how much would change in the 42 weeks that followed. {yes, I said 42 weeks}

From that moment of conception my body began a rigorous marathon of growing life. And growing my body to hold this life. In the ten months that followed, my hips widened, my middle thickened and my face rounded. My brisk gait became a waddle.

just found out I was pregnant! So little!
41+ weeks!

After Dominic was born I began the long process of losing the weight that I had so happily {and easily I might add} gained in an effort to grow a baby. I lost a huge portion simply from walking, nursing my baby and returning to pre-pregnancy eating habits.

And I am proud to announce that although it took me over a year I have been maintaining my pre-pregnancy weight for a few months now.

But it’s just not the same. My clothes don’t fit the same way. And my shape is…different. It’s just not the body I had before I got pregnant.

And this could make me sad. Some days it does. But then I remember the wondrous miracle that took place in this body that now houses more skin than I’d care to admit.

Then I recall that my body before Dominic didn’t always make me happy either.

In those days, I could easily look at myself in the mirror and lament it’s shape and size. I could seamlessly criticize every extra pound and unwanted curve. I could scrutinize every gap in my teeth and lament over the acne scars that accent my face. I could tear myself down and ridicule my body from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet.

Or I could remember who created me. I could thank God for the body he’s given me. I can proudly look in the mirror and proclaim, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” {Psalm 139:14}

I can pull my shoulders back, lift up my chin and broaden my smile because it’s my body. And it’s my choice to love it just as I am.

You may not have had a baby or perhaps you’ve had several. Your body is beautiful. Created by God in a shape and size that is exquisite. You may not have had a choice in what you  look like but you do have a choice to love you and your body as it is.

It’s your body. How will you choose to regard it?

 

This post was originally published on journeytobecomingone.wordpress.org on July 30th 2012. 

Things I Don’t Want to Forget

Things I don’t want to forget:

That my little girl says ‘nom nom’ to say thank you. The more nom nom’s the more thankful she is

brown eyes

That my eldest son randomly cleans his room after we’ve put him to bed. He’s also been known to change his clothes a few times when he should be sleeping.

dom

That my baby boy has a smile that truly lights up a room and warms his momma’s heart.

smiley baby

That my eldest is a planner and must ask daily: “where are we going today?”

Dom dressed as buzz

That my daughter, at 2, is already a fashionista…wearing clothing in uncoventional ways like socks for gloves and pj’s as a hat.

foxy little lady

socks are the new gloves

 

That my precious newborn resembles Winston Churchill….a lot.

dev looks like winston churchill

pic of Winston

That my 4 year old creator loves to make his farm animal duplo creatures super heroes.

dom with color picture

That my daughter loves strawberries and affectionately calls them Baubles

Charlee outside

That my little 2 month old chuckles in his sleep.

devin on his playmat

That my oldest has always been our little song bird waking up with and sometimes before the sun with joy in his heart and music on his lips.

listening to a message

That my middle child sways her shoulders back and forth when given a compliment

snow day with our little lady

That my youngest can sleep anywhere as long as he is in our arms.

devin looks like WInston Churchill

That my oldest makes sure to tell his daddy to “be safe on the roads” every time he leaves for work.

dom for fairy tale day

That, according to my daughter, no matter the animal,the sound he makes is “moo”

sofia nightgown

That my children love books but adore the Bible above all others.

d and c coloring

That big brother and sister love their baby brother and can’t wait to run and play with him.

charlee and devin

That our 3rd child has and continues to break all the rules reminding us that we really don’t know what we are doing but thankfully have the best kids on the planet.

devin sleepong

swing time

 

Can’t forget that. So blessed.

Life. Is. Beautiful.