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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Lessons Learned My First Year as a Mama

One year ago today, our sweetest baby girl came into our lives! Joslynne brings so much joy to each day. I have loved watching her grow and develop a personality! 

This past year, being a Mom has changed every area of our lives, and we wouldn't change it for a thing! There are so many great experienced mamas out there who give amazing advice, but nothing could have quite prepared me like going through life with this sweet baby. I am no expert or experienced Mom, but in honor of our little girl's birthday, I wanted to share a few things that I've learned this first year of being her mama that no one could have prepared me for!

Babies Aren't All the Same

I expected to get little sleep at night as a new Mom, but I thought all babies nap a certain amount every day. Not this little one! She has never been a napper. She takes 20-30 minute snoozes! At first I was frustrated, and felt like we would never get a routine. But, then we learned that even though she doesn't nap consistently, she is very flexible and easy going. So, now we go about our day and Josy naps when she needs to whenever and wherever we are. I am glad we didn't try to force structured naps and just bring her along on our life's adventures! 

You Can Do More Than You Think

While I was pregnant I thought for sure my time would be completely consumed by my baby and wondered how I would get anything done. If I can only do this much now, how will I add a baby to that without giving up everything else. How will I function with little sleep. I'm not saying its been easy, but I have seen how much we can adapt. When you have a little one depending on you, you just do what needs to be done. There are so many times I look back and wonder how did we get through that week, but we do. God' grace is so sufficient and I don't think I've ever understood how loving and gracious He is to us until I became a parent. 

What Unconditional Love Means

It has been humbling to realize just how selfish in love I really am. I think we all like to consider ourselves as fairly loving and serving to others, but when a little one has no ability to love you back, thank you, or do anything in return, it teaches you what unconditional love really means. Its loving someone not because of what he or she does for you or how he or she loves you. You just love. It has been such a great reminder that that is how God loved us, before we could do anything to serve or love Him. 

Stormy Days Don't Last Forever

There have been weeks that just seem so stormy for poor Joslynne. She is sad, tired, clingy, gets hurt every other second. It has been encouraging that as she develops, and gets accustomed to each new ability she has, it gets better! However, just about when we have a stage down, she begins a new one! ;)

It has caused me to enjoy the fun parts of each stage while being patient as we navigate through new things together. I am learning that everyone is right when they say "You're gonna miss this" about a hard season. 

I have also learned that its ok to be honest about the hard days, that doesn't mean I don't love my child or being her mom. Honesty helps to relieve guilt of having a rough day! 

Listen to Your Instincts

During Joslynne's first month she started getting fussy, and for some reason I had a feeling I should cut dairy out of my diet. I didn't know why that was my first solution, but sure enough she started having blood in her stool and other indicators that she couldn't digest dairy! I know we aren't always right as parents, but I learned not to ignore my instincts, but to give what I think a try. 

Remembering to Take Care of Yourself Helps You be a Better Mama

I have learned that finding alone time helps me be ready to be the best Mama I can. When I have taken a few minutes to do what I need, I can focus on Josy, and have the energy and clarity I need to meet her needs. When I have ignored myself like the time I got heat exhaustion because I forgot to drink all day at the beach, I not only don't have what I need, but she also suffers from me being out of commission. :) 

Oh How I Need Jesus

Another thing I cannot ignore as busy as I am as a Mom is my relationship with the Lord. I went through a time of frustration and a roller coaster of emotions, and talkiing with Wes one day, we realized that my relationship with God was suffering by me just trying to fit God in as a side note as a busy Mama. How can I live my life serving the Lord and teaching a little one about Him, if I don't take focused time with Him!

Listen to Advice But Do What's Best For Your Family

We love getting advice and hearing how others handle different situations, but have learned to remember that everyone has a different child and situation. We have learned to listen and take advice, but not get overwhelmed by differing opinions. In the end we know our child, we can make the right decision. for her. 

Its Ok To Mix Different Types of Parenting

I fall somewhere in between natural mama and ain't nobody got time for that survival mama. And, that's ok. :) I have learned to do the things that are important to me for my baby, and not to worry about the rest. 

You Can Have an Identity Outside of Mama

Josy is the center of our lives, and we love that, but I have also loved discovering that I still very much have an identity as a wife, friend, and artist. Wes has been so great to encourage me to have goals and passions outside of motherhood. Like taking care of myself, I feel like that makes me a better mama too. ;)

Nothing Compares to This Love

The biggest thing I've learned this past year is that having a child in our lives is indescribable. Joslynne is so amazing and wonderful, she takes our breath away. I can't tell you about this love in words. She is just the most remarkable creation, all we can do is praise God for this sweet blessing!

Happy 1st Birthday my sweet Joslynne Olivia! I can't wait to keep watching you grow.  You made me a mama, and I never deserved to be so rich! 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

How To: Layered Gallery Wall

We've been updating our basement guest room over the last year and you might have seen the last few  posts. 

 We decided to add a gallery wall to one of the big empty spaces. We wanted it to be a little different than your typical gallery wall, so we went with a layered overlapping look. 

Since many of our guests are loved ones from our home states, we have been incorporating elements from North Carolina and Utah in the room. These watercolor state paintings made the perfect focal point for the gallery wall! 

You will need:

3 Larger frames (Ours are 12x12")
2 Smaller frames (Ours are 8x8")
Pretty wrapping paper of choice (enough to fit in the larger frames)
2 photos or art to fit in the smaller frames
Twine or ribbon
Hot glue gun
5 nails

1. Take the sheet of paper that comes in the frame out of one of the large frames. Lay out the wrapping paper and use the sheet from the frame to trace the size you need for the frame. Cut out 3 sheets of wrapping paper. 

2. Place the cut out wrapping paper in each of the 3 large frames. Place the photos or art you're using in the smaller frames. 

3. Cut 3 10" pieces of twine or ribbon and 2 16" pieces. Hot glue a piece to the back of each frame. The 10" pieces on the large frames, and the 16" on the smaller ones. I glued a piece of  felt over each end of the twine to reinforce it. 

4. Measure your wall to find the center and hammer in the middle nail. Work your way out on either side of the center nail to hang all 5 nails each 9" apart from each other. 

5. Hang the 3 large frames on the outside nails and the center nail. Then hang the 2 smaller frames on the final 2 nails overlapping the larger frames. 

I love the look of this gallery wall! You can go any direction with the colors, size, and type of art or photos you use! 

It has been so fun to update this little room in our home with quick easy DIY projects. Which one has been your favorite?

You can find our Watercolor State Paintings in our Etsy shop! They can be customized with any state, color scheme, and size. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Family Map

Since Joslynne's nursery has a lot to do with travel and adventure, we decided to make her a map with all the states she has family in! Our families are quite spread out, and it will be fun to show her where each person lives as she gets older! She has already visited a few places and we hope to take her to more!

We found a wooded USA cut out at Michaels, but I have seen them at other craft stores like Joann and Hobby Lobby as well. 

You will need:

Wooden USA Cutout
White paint or wood stain (if your cutout is natural wood and you wish to change the background color)
Print out of the United States showing state outlines (same size as your wooden cutout)
Small Paintbrush 
Craft paint in desired colors

1. Our USA cutout came whitewashed, but if you find one that is unfinished wood, paint it white or stain it if you'd like the background something other than unfinished wood. 

Once you're ready to add states, Google "United States outline" to find a map that shows the states. You will want to print the map the same size as your cutout. If the cutout is larger than a sheet of copy paper, you will have to print it out in sections. 

I saved the map image from Google, and pasted it to a word document. I made the image approximately as large as my wooden cutout allowing the image to go off the page onto another page.  I printed the pages out and taped them together to form a map. Mine ended up printing in 3 sections. 

2. Outline the states you wish to paint on the map with a colored pen, and carefully cut them out. Do not cut into the side of the map. Instead, fold the paper slightly right in the center of the state you are cutting and make a small cut. Unfold, and you will have a cut to get you started in the center of the state. Continue cutting around the outline to make a stencil of that state.

3. Once you've cut out all the desired states, place the paper map over the wooden cutout. Line up the edges of the maps. The wooden cutout will not be as detailed as the paper map round the edges, but the general outline will be the same.

Use the paper map like a stencil and trace the outlines onto the wooden cutout with sharpie.

4. Fill in each state outline with your favorite colors of craft paint. Carefully outline in paint as well to cover the sharpie. We added a heart outline where our baby lives in our home state. :)

Allow to dry. Our wooden USA came with a hanging string. If yours doesn't you can add hanging hardware, or simply staple a string to hang!

Check out Josy's entire Nursery here. :)


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

How To: Wooden Letter Wall Hanging

We have been so thankful to have out little basement guest room for family and friends to stay in! We didn't have much of a budget to put into it, so we have been adding fun things to the room a little at a time. The first updates we did are here and here

I love the signs I've seen for guest rooms that say "Stay Awhile", but I wanted something fairly large for our blank wall. I decided to hang individual letters. I found these inexpensive MPI letters to use. 

MPI wood is made from small wooden fibers pressed together. It its great for painting and modge podging, but it doesn't have a nice wood grain like natural wood. I wanted to give the letters some texture, so I dry brushed them to give them a linen look. 

This project was so easy and under $25, so I thought I'd share how I did it! 

You will need: 

White Craft Paint
Broad Paint Brush
Command Medium Photo strips
Painter's Tape

1. To get a textured look on each letter, I used a dry brush (that wasn't dipped in water first.) I dipped the paint brush in paint and blotted off extra paint. You only want a small amount of paint on the edge of the paint brush. 

Starting at an edge of the letter, swipe the paintbrush quickly across the letter one time and pick the brush up. Do not use a back and forth motion. I repeated this going in different directions (up, down, and left and right.) over the entire letter. This makes a linen style criss cross texture. The key is small quick strokes evenly across the whole letter, but you are not solidly filling the letter with paint. 

2. Once the letters dry, stick a photo adhesive strip in the center of the back of each letter. Do not peel off the cover of the exposed side yet. 

3. Lay out the letters on a flat surface the way you want them to appear on the wall. Measure the length of each word. 

4. Find the center of the wall by making 2 small pencil marks the same distance from each side of the wall. Using the pencil marks as guides, center a piece of painter's tape the length of the word on the wall. Repeat this with another piece of tape 12 inches under the first piece if you have a second word. 

5. Begin sticking your letters to the wall by centering the middle letters of each word first and working your way out on either side. So, to make the word centered. I hung T and A in "stay" first. Peel back the cover on the adhesive and press the letter to the wall just above the tape to hang. 

6. When all letters are hung, remove the painter's tape. 

I love how quick this went up! I did it the same day we were having guests. ;)