Wrapping paper photo mats…

Hallie has had these white Pottery Barn Kids frames in her room since she was a baby. Last year we did an overhaul on her room when I built her a new queen size bed and we learned that she had no insulation in her room!

Wrapping Paper Photo Mats

The pictures came off the wall and we leaned them against the wall – they stayed like that for 8 months until we finally got around to painting her room. We were putting the pictures back on the wall and they just didn’t seem to work anymore. The walls were a light gray and the pictures got lost. So the frames and mats got a little update with some gold spray paint and some wrapping paper.

Wrapping Paper Photo Mats

This was the easiest and cheapest upgrade. All you need is a photo mat, some wrapping paper, scissors, tape and an exacto/craft knife.

Wrapping Paper Photo Mats

Remove the mat from the picture frame and cut a piece of wrapping paper a little larger than the mat. Cut a large X in the photo cutout.

Wrapping Paper Photo Mats

Use tape to secure the inside tabs to the mat and pull tight as you tape the outside edges.

Wrapping Paper Photo Mats

We put the frames back together and hung them on the wall and Hallie and I both agreed the white frames needed a facelift. We found the perfect gold/bronze made by Rustoleum that matched her lamp perfectly. It was the perfect touch to her updated “tween” room.

Wrapping Paper Photo Mats

Wrapping Paper Photo Mats

Wrapping Paper Photo Mats

Swimsuits, tan lines and summer hair…

If I were to name this picture it would be “Swimsuits, tan lines and summer hair”.

That profile. That smile. That light. It captures her perfectly. She seems to be growing at rapid speeds so I’m going to hold on to the mental image of the girl in this picture with her happiness and innocence. Childhood is too short.

Summer reading…

Although I enjoy reading, I rarely make time for it. There’s so many things I enjoy doing that reading continually slips in priority. But as I was pushing my kids to read this summer, I too carved out time while sitting at swim lessons, just before bed or while in the car for hours on our road trip.

As you can see the range of interest is wide – anything from historical non-fiction to self-help books. All books that someone at some point told me I should read and I added them to my Amazon cart for quick reference. And now that I’m looking them up to link them here, I’m realizing all of them were New York Time Bestsellers. Not that it’s necessarily a selling feature, just a coincidence.

A Man Called Ove was a tender story of despair and hope and interesting/chaotic cast of characters.

When Breath Becomes Air is a memoir of a neurosurgeon who is faced with daunting odds when diagnosed with cancer.

Lauren Graham’s is also a memoir, a quick fun read. My love for Gilmore Girls is deep and I could read a whole other book on the exact subject.

Boys in the Boat is a historical non-fiction set in the depths of the Great Depression where a group of boys find hope against odds through shear grit. It’s inspiring.

Essentialism is a good read for anyone feeling overwhelmed or stretched thin or even just distracted. This was a good companion to another book I read, “The More of Less” and I started the process of decluttering life.

I found Quiet interesting. I didn’t agree with all of it, so I skipped around some but surprisingly, I found myself within the pages of this book. And the older I get, the more it fits.

(Amazon aff. links)

Consider this my virtual book club!  The next few books I’m reading are from my kids reading lists so they should read fast. If you have any other recommendations, I’d love to hear them.

Idaho wrap up…

Just a few straggler pictures from our summer adventures.

I’m pretty sure I have 10 pictures just like this – Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Utah – rolling hills and beautiful landscapes all along the way.

We spent a lot of times in the parks – a luxury you can’t very well enjoy in Arizona during the summer. The “death” park is always a favorite – a name we’ve thrown around – but not widely accepted. It’s the city park where all the playground equipment would never pass today’s standards for safety and concern for children. The huge metal slide with a shallow edge. The wooden teeter totters that send you flying in the air. The rickety merry-go-round. Equipment that makes my kid’s eyes light up with excitement. They were really curious about the merry-go-round. “You used to have these at your school?!” Yep – until they yanked them all due to safety issues. We visited the park on multiple occasions.

We played with cousins and then played some more with cousins. Camping with them. Swimming with them. Fishing with them. Summer evening games with them. If you ask my kids, there is never enough cousin time.

I convinced my mom to paint her living room. She’s not one for much change and that color on the wall has been there for almost 20 years. I think the last two years I’ve visited I’ve pushed to paint that room and she’s always denied me the opportunity. I went and got a paint sample and just a few days before leaving she told me I could put it on the wall. (we strategically painted it behind a wall hanging, just in case she changed her mind!)  I’m still not sure what made her pull the trigger that afternoon but we found ourselves at the paint store just 20 minutes before closing begging them to mix it up for us that evening as opposed to the next day. Luckily the color match was in their system already and we walked out with three gallons. And the fun began!

I was able to squeeze in some friend time along our journey. I love reconnecting with so many great friends/roommates, I just wish I would’ve remembered to take pictures with all of them. And for those I missed – I’ll be back next year!

I’m sure my parents were more than a little excited to see this rowdy bunch exit the building. 🙂 We’ll be back next summer and hopefully Briggs will be passed the high pitched squeal/scream phase. Fingers crossed.

The last back to school post…I promise…

A few more straggling pictures from our momentous back to school day last week. I’m pretty sure I take more pictures on this particular day than I do the whole month of September and November combined. (Notice I didn’t include October – Halloween tends to be a heavy photography day as well!) And for those that don’t have kids in still yet and think that I’m bragging…well maybe I am just a little. We’re a couple days in now and we’re finding our rhythm and it feels good!

One thing we learned real quick was if lunches aren’t made the night before, Steve and I end up making them which is not how we roll and our kitchen is a disaster when they walk out the door for school. It took us the first day to realize the schedule needed reworking.  I’m from the mindset that kids are fully capable creatures if taught and trained properly (which we all know requires a lot of follow up.) Since the time our kids start kindergarten they are responsible for their lunches which gives them little room to complain what ends up in their lunch. Each kid makes sure they have something from every category – Main item, fruit, veggie, treat and drink – and everyone ends up happy with their lunch. In the past we haven’t had much trouble making that work in the morning, but with more kids it was growing more chaotic and messy. Making them at night when the dinner mess is still fresh is working much better.

Briggs was a trooper most the day. He wasn’t quite sure what happened when the tornado of excitement left the house in the morning, but it made for a quiet day for him. He stayed close to me and even when the kids got home from school I found him playing at the edge of the photo backdrop as I shot away. Each day is getting a little better for him.

I love taking my kids the first day of school because the playground is a flurry of hugs and nervousness as kids reconnect from a long summer away and they anxiously wait in their teacher line to see who else will be in the class this year (they usually know a few friends in their class which makes it a little easier). I’m not sure how all three of my kids lucked out with their best friends in their classes. Sadly, we’ve taken a first day of school picture with Hallie’s friends every year and this year the bus didn’t show up on time to get a picture. We snagged one with one of her friends after school amidst the crazy cousin photo shoot.

Cannon had a little back to school event two days before class actually started where he got to meet his teacher and check out the classroom that his brothers had told him every detail about. He got to decorate and eat a cookie which he promptly started to eat and then talked about it the whole day. He’s going to love preschool. His excitement is through the roof.


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