Archive | boys

sending him into the world


This is my baby. He’s almost 12 years old, is kind and witty, loves reading and digging, playing with friends and will probably invent some crazy contraption when he grows up because he’s always coming up with ingenious ideas.  He wants to be a teacher or a chef or a professional lego builder. He likes to play soccer. He follows Jesus.

And he starts middle school tomorrow.


He feels good about it.

I can’t decide how I feel.

On the one hand, I know he’s ready. He really is a great kid with a good sense of who he is and what he’s about. He has a nice group of friends who support each other and will help each other navigate the big halls of middle school.

On the other hand, he’s my baby! And middle school can be so cruel! And how is it possible that he is old enough to be in a time of life that I remember like it was yesterday?!

I’m so proud of our son. I know he’ll do great. I’ll try to hold it together when I send him off, and then I’ll come back home and sit on the couch and cry. Being a mama is the best, and also really heart-wrenching.

Lord, please watch over my baby. He’s yours, even more than he is mine and I trust you with him. Amen.

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a seahawks birthday party


Our second son turned 9 last month and we celebrated with a Seahawk party. We started with his invitations (seen here – which turned out super cute and not too seahawky/footbally/cartoony) and carried the theme into the actual day. We watched the game, ate football party food, played a few games and celebrated the birthday boy. It turned out to be a perfect party for Brady and his friends. Continue Reading →

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speaking your child’s language

We just returned from a weekend away at our favorite beach house on Whidbey Island. I’ve written about this magical place several times before, and posted a million IG photos (#theboathouse). Our good friends are gracious hosts and their hospitality provides the most cherished and memorable adventures for our kids. It is for sure their most favorite place to be.


I love the boat house for many reasons, but lingering at the top is watching the boys be boys. They have complete freedom. They can roam the endless beach collecting shells and digging for sea creatures. They cut down branches and make paths through the woods and whittle sticks with their pocket knives. They shoot bb guns and practice with their bows & arrows. They kayak or paddle boat and swim in the freezing cold water.  They build forts and bon fires and swing on a hammock. Continue Reading →

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a book recommendation from my ten year old

Our oldest son just turned 10 and loves to read. He’s not all that interested during the day, but at night, give him a good book and he will read hours past his bedtime.


I’m always on the lookout for good books for boys and bought the first book in this series at the school book fair based solely on the cover (I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but I totally do and the cuter the cover, the more likely I am to pick it up). I then found a boxed set of the whole series and again, I just couldn’t resist the great illustrations/lettering and bought him the collection for Christmas.


He read the prequel (The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict) and couldn’t put it down. He insisted that I must read it, and he was sure I would love it. I always wanted to be that mom who read whatever her children were reading, but so far, this kid has lapped me a thousand times and I haven’t even attempted to keep up. This was especially true during his infatuation with those ridiculous comic-type books like Captain Underpants and Big Nate. Sorry … this mama has no interest in 8 year old boy humor.

But this book – this whole Mysterious Benedict Society series – this is something I can get in to.


I finished the first book yesterday while feeling kinda sick and even though it is written for kids in grades 3-7, it was a perfectly captivating, intriguing, charming read for me as well. My 10 year old was right – I did love the book.

Now on to the next one …

If you are looking for a good series for your kids (or you!), this one comes highly recommended by both my son and I.


Learn more about the books here or purchase the set here.

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today, we skied.

The older boys had the day off school. The little ones did not. What’s a mom to do with a 10 year old and an 8 year old on a random january monday? Hang out on the mountain and ski, that’s what.


We’ve been up skiing as a family a handful of times, but this was the first for just a mom + boys ski day.


It’s strange and wonderful all at once to be in this new phase of parenting. I went skiing with my children. Not to library storytime or the bouncy house or the zoo, but skiing. On a mountain. In less-than-ideal-icy-snow conditions. And they did awesome (minus that one run-in with the tree as seen above). These boys are great. I’m happy to be their mom.

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all of the sources for the boys room makeover

Now that the boys’ room is finished and you’ve seen how it turned out {thanks for all of the nice comments, by the way!} today is a good day to share sources and answer a few questions.

One thing you should know about my approach to decorating: nothing is precious or crazy expensive. That’s just not our style. I think even if we did have an unlimited budget, I’m not sure I could spend hundreds of dollars on sheets for my boys’ beds anyway. The challenge of putting a classic and stylish room together without spending a small fortune makes you get a little creative, work a little harder, and the finished result is always so rewarding.

I hope you see some doable ideas here, affordable design and inspiration to use what you have and fill in with a few diys and a couple of purchases.

On to the sources … broken up into categories.


bunkbeds // purchased from costco 6 years ago. I wish I had a link for where to find them, but I couldn’t find one.
dresser // old
shelves & brackets // ikea {see details here}
chair // old
woven cube // diy shown here

ceiling light // depot ceiling lamp potterbarn kids
floor lamp // pharmacy floor lamp target
reading lights // hektar wall spotlight ikea
table lamp // rounded turned wood lamp target


sheets // ticking stripe sheet set target
duvet // striped duvet west elm
blanket // swiss military style wool blanket the sportsman’s guide


be brave canvas // lindsay letters
camping art // hail tiger *ENTER DISCOUNT CODE JONES15 FOR 15% OFF*
stamped wood round // diy shown here
chalk antler print // the burlap bungalow
swiss cross canvas // painted by me
pinecone print // cut from an old letterpress card
compass canvas // chalk on black painted canvas
cardboard antlers // jdc|monthly october project
constellation print // paper source gift wrap


zinc letters // diy shown here
lantern // morkt lantern ikea
mini drawers // local craft store. There is not a source on the tag – I’m so sorry!
lockers // urban outfitters mini locker that is OUT OF STOCK. Boo. This one is a fun alternative.
deer pillow // lulu & georgia
plaid throw // hermine throw ikea
rope mirror // nate berkus port mirror target {on clearance now}
embroidered pillow // target {not available online}
raccoon // folksy forester manhattan toy
jute rug // tarnby rug ikea

A few more details …

I struggled for a while trying to come up with a good window covering option. The bunk beds overlap the window on both sides and so in the end, I decided to do a full wall of curtains to simplify the lines. My mom and I brainstormed how we could get the look of a canvas tent, without it being too obvious. We used a large drop cloth cut in half and stitched with red thread for that industrial/outdoorsy feel. Then Ryan and my dad stapled the whole thing to a 2 x 4 cut to the size of the wall and installed it at the ceiling. With curtain tie back hooks turned sideways, I can now open each side and loop over the hook to open the curtains.


The entire setup cost less than $30.

Many of you asked about where the boys toys and clothes are stored. Their room is mostly toy-free since we have a playroom to hold all of their play things. As for their clothes, each boy has a drawer for their shirts and the rest are stored in their very unattractive closet.


Pajamas go in the wire drawers {just thrown in – I’ve given up on folding pj’s}, each boy has a shelf for their pants {a system that is quickly needing updating as they grow and their pants are getting too big to fit}, and sweatshirts/sweaters/button up shirts are hung. On the top shelf are random too-big items or off-season sports uniforms. Nothing fancy, but it works.

Now let’s chat for a second about the cork wall. It was a pain. I’m glad I did it, but it did not go as smoothly as I would have hoped.

The people from WidgetCo sent me a stack of cork wall tiles which I was really excited about because 1. they were self-adhesive which makes them easy to install and 2.they were super thick so the tacks wouldn’t go through the cork and into the wall when putting up photos.

So one saturday a few weeks ago I spent a few hours putting up the tiles.


The peeling and sticking part was easy – cutting the tiles to size was a bit trickier, but after a couple of hours, the wall was finished. cork-on-wall-and-then-not

We left for a few hours and when we returned, the tiles had all come down. I tried to re-stick them, but they came down once again. I contacted Widgetco and they said that sometimes you have to add some extra adhesive depending on your wall surface. They sent me out a pack of replacement tiles and last weekend, I tackled the project once again.


I tried gorilla glue. They fell down. I tried hot glue. They fell down. Finally, I tapped in a little finish nail to each corner and that did the trick. I should have just done that from the beginning. I would still recommend the tiles because they are great quality and there are not a lot of other options available, but maybe test the adhesive on one tile before taking the time to do an entire wall.

Whew. That was a lot of info in one post. Hope it is helpful. As always, let me know if you have any more questions!



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the boys’ room reveal

As with all DIY projects, the boys’ room redo took much longer than expected, but hip, hip, hooray it’s done!  It all started with this design board. Next we repainted the walls, stained some shelves and installed a new light. And then end-of-summer-fun and back-to-school craziness and a few project hiccups later, I finally spent this past weekend finishing up the space. It came together just as hoped – merging my neutral-loving aesthetic with boyish charm and lots of personal touches.

Welcome to the new and improved boys’ room.


Our three boys {ages 9, 8, 5} share this room and a couple of things were important in the redesign.

1. It needed to feel light and bright. The two sets of bunk beds are dark and take up over half of the room, so it was necessary to balance the space with lots of white.
2. The boys wanted their own reading lights and places to keep their special things.
3. We wanted the room to reflect the boys and stay away from being overly theme-y or feeling too young.

I think we succeeded at all three.


The walls are now white, the ceiling is faintly blue and a custom window treatment {by my mom} made of painters drop cloths runs across the entire window wall. It’s amazing the difference a fresh coat of paint made in the room. The previous color was a nice neutral beigey-gray, but it just felt so dark. I was nervous going white, but after seeing this room transformation, we’re seriously considering painting our whole house white.


The inexpensive shelves hold a quirky mix of the boy’s favorite things: books, baseball cards, trophies, a bottle cap collection and a few pieces of drift wood from their favorite beach.



The stamped wood round sits on the shelf next to a couple of my oldest’s beloved hardy boys books.



That woven footstool turns out to be a great multi-purpose piece: I love it for propping my feet up while I read at night, the boys love it for stashing random toys when it’s time to pick up their room.

On the other side of the room are two more bunks, an old chippy dresser and new art wall.


Each bed has it’s own reading light, a metal wall locker and cork board for saving special notes and photos.



The collected art is really where the concept for the room began.


The Be Brave canvas was the starting point, then came this darling camping/hunting print.


With the chalkboard antler print, a photo of No. 2 on our favorite beach, Atlas’ announcement, a mini version of the Make Good Choices print, a pinecone print, painted canvas and striped bunting, it makes for a eclectic, yet clean little grouping.


One of my favorite features {and the one that caused the most headache} is this cork wall. It is just a small wall right when you enter the room and it seemed like the perfect place for the kids to tack up special photos, awards, notes. I’ll share all the details of this project fiasco later this week, but for now I’m just happy that those tiles are finally stuck to that wall.


I finished all of the last minute touches late on saturday night while the boys had a sleepover in the bonus room. When they saw the finished room in the morning, they were so excited {well, as excited as a 9, 8 and 5 year old boy gets about a finished bedroom} and that made the whole thing worth it. It’s bright and charming, clean and boyish … just the look we were hoping for.

I’ll share a full list of sources this week, but if you have any specific questions, please leave a comment and I’ll respond back with the answer.


for all of the sources, click here.

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diy hand stamped tree slice

It’s accessorizing time in the boys’ room and so I’ve been scouring our house, finding a few things online and crafting my own items to give their room that campy/outdoorsy/vintage/boyish charm I’m going after.


This is one of the pieces I sort-of made. It started with the wood slice I happened across at the craft store. I originally thought I would paint the inside with chalkboard paint like this or this, but I couldn’t find my paint. Not one to let a little missing paint get in my way, I came up with a new idea: using my beloved alphabet stamps to ink a phrase.



Wood slice {i found mine at Michaels, but you can also get them online here}
alphabet stamps {I use this set all the time. You can order them here}
black ink pad {like this}

STEP ONE // decide on a quote and practice on a scrap piece of paper.


STEP TWO // stamp onto wood slice


That’s it.

I mentioned this on instagram yesterday, but I’ll do it again here. If there is anything I want for my boys it is for them to be kind. To think about others, to genuinely care, to understand that oftentimes we don’t know the whole story and so we must be compassionate just for the sake of being compassionate. I want them to stick up for each other, to befriend the lonely kid, to celebrate victories together and encourage when things aren’t going as well.  I want them to grow into young men who are kind. Not wussy; but empathetic. Not out-of-control sensitive; just tender enough to see life through another’s eyes.

And so I chose this quote. Not sure who the originator of it is {some say plato, others disagree}, but it rings true. Plus, my kids are all about battles and fighting, so it seems rather appropriate.


Easy, peasy project that is perfect for the boys room, but could be adapted for so many other spaces. Enjoy!

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the boys’ room progress {walls, ceiling, light & shelves}

We’ve made some good progress on the boys’ room this past week or so. Just as a reminder, here’s the look we’re going for:


The first step was to paint the walls and ceiling.


{via my instagram feed}

I actually like painting and I’ve done it a ton in our house. But I am surprised to say that I’ve never painted walls white. And it felt super risky! Usually we give boring white walls personality with a nice paint color, but this was the opposite. Plus, white walls in a boys room? That’s kinda crazy. But their room felt dark with the big navy bunks and I’ve been craving white throughout most of our home, so it felt like the right choice for this room too. The color is Silky White by behr. It’s a nice slightly creamy white. It kinda makes me want to paint my room white too.

The ceiling is Rhino also by behr which is the same gray/blue we used in Audrey’s room. It’s very subtle, but light, bright and adds dimension.


Next came installing the light {depot ceiling lamp from potterybarn kids}.


{via my instagram feed}

I joke that I’ve become a professional light-installer, but seriously, I’ve done it four times now and haven’t shocked myself yet. Once you figure out which wires go with which, it’s just a matter of balancing the light fixture in one hand while tightening screws with the other. Totally doable and such an easy way to boost a room’s style.


One more project we did – and this time the kids were involved – was staining and installing shelves and brackets.

I bought three shelves and six brackets from ikea, and stained with minwax in special walnut.


You just brush it on, then wipe off with a clean rag.


The color is great – a nice natural medium-ish tone.


The middle boys helped stain the brackets. They loved it; I talked myself through it {it’s all going to be okay, it’s just stain}. I want them to help, I want them to take ownership, but sometimes help is not actually all that helpful when you’re as finicky as this mama.


Having help installing the shelves was actually both fun and helpful. We measured, found studs, marked, and screwed in the brackets.

So here we are now:


Walls and ceiling painted, light and shelves installed, rug and chair moved in.  Next up is a whole bunch of styling {my favorite part}, some diy projects for the walls, pillow making, art hanging and curtain-figuring-out. Still hoping to have it all finished before they head back to school just after labor day. I’ll keep you posted …


wall paint // ceiling paint // light // rug // shelves // brackets // striped duvets

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the boys’ room {design board}

Three years ago, the boys’ room looked like this:


But typical us, we decided to shake things up and move rooms around. First they moved into our large bonus room, and then into the back bedroom {still upstairs}. Don’t ask me why we feel so compelled to move entire rooms so frequently. It makes life more interesting, I guess.

Anyway, for the last year or so the boys’ room has looked like this:



Lovely, isn’t it? This bedroom is a little bit bigger than the striped room {now the playroom – update coming someday}, but I just have not taken the time to fix things up properly. My boys are 9, 7 & 5 years old – which are not exactly the ages where tidiness is valued.  But we all enjoy being in spaces that are interesting, put together, personal and have unique touches specific to the occupants and so I figure it’s time to give the boys a grown-up-ish room that reflects their interests {but still keeps in line with my style}. Hopefully having a finished room will have the same effect on them as redoing the laundry room did for me: it makes me want to be in there and keep it looking nice. We’ll see if that works on school-aged boys.

Here’s where we’re going with it:


{sources to come}

It’s a mix of vintage/outdoorsy/camp/adventure with a few whimsical touches {like the bright red floor lamp and the cardboard diy antlers}.

We’re working with what we already have: navy bunk beds {from costco five-ish years ago}, a beat-up white dresser, gray striped duvets {west elm}, sisal rug {ikea}, wicker laundry hamper {super old from potterybarn} and awesome Lindsay Letters be brave canvas {see it here}.


Then we’ll add in a few purchased things and a handful of diy projects.

I’m hoping to get the boys to help as much as they can and keep it a fun, boyish and organized space for them to dwell.

Of course I’ll keep you updated as we make progress. Hoping to have this one done before they head back to school in September. Maybe having a deadline will keep me on task!

Stay tuned for lots more to come in the boys’ room …

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If you have not already, would you answer a few questions to help make this blog even more fun to read?


Thanks a bunch!

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book week: favorite books for boys

This happens in our house:

boys reading

The boys spending their evening reading.

Let’s be honest, part of the reason they enjoy it is that it prolongs bedtime. But I hope that they will continue to love reading and we do our best as their parents to find books that hold their interest.

Here are a few of our favorites for the boys:


It was really hard for me to narrow these down. And I would never say these are only for boys. But these are some of our boys’ most loved stories.  The entire bear series is adorable. As is the bat series and elephant & piggie. And Narnia must be on the list even though we’ve only made it through two of the seven books {we love the movies}.

Do you have favorite books for boys? Please share!

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the star

This is a repost from last year, but probably one of my favorite posts on the blog. I just love this story and the scripture that goes along with it. Enjoy!

* * * * *

We have a small nativity set that my aunt gave to our family several years ago. I put it out with our christmas decorations each year, but it is usually placed up high out of the reach of our children as it is breakable and they are, well, kids.

But I decided this year to put the nativity lower. Within reach. Surrounded by teensy flakes of snow. I fully expected that the boys would take interest in it and that there would probably be snowflakes all over the place, but I didn’t really anticipate what my no. 2 did yesterday afternoon.

First, he rearranged all of the figurines so that they were in a tight circle around baby Jesus. He fixed the snow so it was just right and stood staring at it for a short time.

Next, he went to the table and started a little craft. I thought nothing of it. He has a short attention span and moves from activity to activity like a whirlwind.

Only later did I realize that my sweet boy’s craft time consisted of taping a star to the amaryllis plant.

Because every nativity scene needs a star.

“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

“the magi went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2

It is hard to find ways to keep our focus on the reason we celebrate Christmas. I love the carols, the lights, the shopping and decorating, the baking and parties. I even love santa. But most of all, I love Jesus. And I want so badly for my children to love him too.

My son making a star for the manger scene tells me he gets it. In his own six-year-old way, he cared enough about the story to make it right.

When I saw that star, I was overjoyed.

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feeling anxious

Our No.1 is starting at a new school today. It is in our same district and he’ll have a few familiar faces in class, his teacher seems nice and we hear great things about the program, but none of that matters … he’s still anxious.

And to tell you the truth, so am I.  Maybe even more than him.

I’ve cried the first day of school my entire life, so I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that I’m feeling this way.  The tears and worries are not that he won’t love his new school, or new teacher, or the education. It’s just that its all new. Will he know where his classroom is? Will he have anyone to sit with at lunch? Who will play with him at recess? What if he needs me and I’m not there to hold his hand?

I suppose these are fears and questions every mama asks when her baby starts something new.

As I sat alone for a few minutes thinking and praying about the turmoil in my heart, I was reminded of this well-loved scripture:

And so, I pray. And I give thanks. And sure enough, this worrisome mom isn’t so anxious anymore.

Although I do hope he finds someone to eat lunch with.

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legos are everywhere {and our way of containing them}

If you have school-aged boys, perhaps you’ll identify with this one …

Legos are overtaking my house.

We’ve got ninjas on the coffee table

a knight protecting the entry table

randoms on the tv room chair

this awesome dude parked on my desk

They even hang out in the bathtub {deadliest catch, anyone?}.

For my own sanity, I ask that the boys keep most of the legos upstairs. The ones that are left downstairs go in this drawer in the living room. It helps having a place for the stragglers rather than walking them upstairs.

My kids are builders {and keepers of their creations} so most surfaces in their room are covered with all sorts of ships, speeders, robots, weapons and battle scenes.

Their floor is usually covered with them too.

The legos-everywhere part drives me crazy. Have you ever stepped on a lego with bare feet?!

At the same time, I love that I have such creative boys and want to encourage them with this imaginative pastime.

We’ve done our best to equip them with an organization system to keep things under control and it seems to be working pretty well.

These three sets of storage drawers {from Target} are perfect for color-sorting legos.

Each boy gets one drawer to hold their special things – you know, blue light sabers, Anakin’s hair, the monkey from the pirate ship.  The rule in our house is that they are not allowed to open their brothers’ drawers. We figure everyone needs their own place to keep their special things.  This has worked out great for us and has avoided lots of fights over who’s legos are who’s.

We also have this big bin that has not been sorted. It is helpful for when we need to do quick pick-ups and they can just toss the pieces in here. Every once in a while we do a little sorting {mildly therapeutic, I will say}.

So that is how we organize our legos. Someday I’d like to create cubbies for all of the creations to be stored in so that the dresser and bookshelves and floor can be cleared.

Do you have a system for organizing/storing legos?

The moms in the legos-are-taking-over-club would gladly take your suggestions!

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our new favorite easy reader books

A few days ago we went to the library in search of early-reader appropriate books for my No. 2. #2 is in kindergarten and doing great with reading {beyond the BOB series, but not quite ready for regular children’s books}.  I wanted to find a handful of books that he would be able to read on his own but also keep his busy mind and body occupied … he is a six-year-old boy, after all.

We hit the jackpot.

Have you heard of the Elephant & Piggie series by Mo Willems? They are great.

Simple words, silly stories, charming illustrations.

The perfect books to instill a joy of reading, confidence in making it through a whole book and cute giggles heard throughout the pages.

You can see all of the books in the Elephant & Piggie series here.

And see more of Mo Willems work here.

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