Ikea Mirror Hack

Okay so lately I've been a little rustic country crazy! I went to Tennessee for a little family vacation and came back desiring nothing but rustic decor. As we all know its the in design right now and because of that it is also super expensive!!!! A little too rich for my blood to do a complete living room remodel along with my kitchen (which I will be posting soon!) The country vintage style mirrors range retail between $200-$300   :-O!

So I was on a mission. A mission to make my house look like a million dollar rustic home without actually having to spend it. This meant that I would have get creative, get frugal and put in a little elbow grease to see what I could repurpose that I already had. We had this Ikea mirror that we bought when we first got married, with the intention to hang it on the wall but never did. Honestly I almost threw this mirror out a few times but just couldn't bring myself to it because it had cost me $100. 

I'm glad I didn't because it was the perfect new floor mirror for my new country rustic living room decor. So I started my mission. I was determined to distress this mirror and have a brand new look for only $5.00. 

1. I started by lightly sanding the mirror down and then wiped off the dust so that the new paint would stick. 

2. I used some leftover paint from my cabinets and lightly brushed it on purposely leaving brush strokes. Color used was OFF WHITE

3. Then I lightly sanded it again

4. After sanding it to the look I wanted I wanted to age it a little in color. So I took some of my daughters brown acrylic paint from Joann that cost only .69 and watered it down 2 to 1 ratio and rubbed it all over the mirror.

5. I then bought a pack of metal L brackets from Lowes. I didn't have a blow torch to burn them and age them so I decided to just throw it on the grill hahaha. I let it burn 3 times over and cool down. Then I rinsed them off and screwed them on to each corner.

6. I gathered some accessories I found on clearance at Walmart and Ashley's Furniture and yardstick luggage from Michaels, a little staging and voila!!!!

This was such an easy way to repurpose something that I had not given use for over 7 years! The final product is amazing and all my guest keep asking me where I found my mirror!

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Raising a confident daughter

Growing now a days is hard! There is pressure from all directions for a girl to be perfect. She must wear makeup and she must be a certain size and she must fit all these unrealistic standards. All these standards lead to lack of self esteem and lack of self acceptance! What are we doing to our girls? We need to break this pattern! Just because we are already convinced of our "flaws" are, doesn't mean that we should allow that to be the case for our daughters!

"Oh I tell my daughter she's beautiful everyday!" Okay, thats great, but are you in the same breath standing in front of the mirror and saying "agh I'm so fat!" One thing we know as parents is that we must lead by example. This has been something that I myself am guilty of. Growing up I did not get so much criticism and teasing at school because my personality definitely hid my physical "flaws" but I definitely received it at home. I was seven year old with almost a B cup size chest. I was heavier than my petite little sister and everyone seemed to have something to say about it. Not my friends or even enemies but my mother, my aunts, my FAMILY. This destroyed my self esteem. Instead of being proud of my developing body I was ashamed. I hid in baggy clothes and I even began bullying other kids with hopes that it would intimidate others to not tease me. Even till this day I have a hard time looking in the mirror and looking at the beautiful! Instead I look at what my mother pointed out my entire life, "you have a flat butt...you have love handles... you shouldn't wear that, thats for a thinner person".

Do I think that my mother and family were purposely trying to destroy my self-esteem...no. Did they?  YES! I was blessed to marry someone that has helped me learn to love myself and see myself the way that God sees me and that is ... In his image! Which is beautiful, perfect and unique. I was affected by just my family's critiques imagine our girls now! They face bigger demons. The TV tells them to be sluts and that they have to show skin and degrade their bodies for attention, bullies in school that have their own insecurities pick on them and tell them everything society says their not, and here you are, the most influential person in their life, their mother either constantly putting yourself down or planting seeds of insecurity in them as well. STOP IT! Renew your mind so that you don't damage your daughter!

I already see people comparing my daughters. As many of you know my one year old and my four year old are about the same weight. I already see people comparing Kayla (the younger one) to Kylie.  "Oh she's so much bigger than Kylie was at that age" "She's so fat". I cant even believe that some people say that. My daughter is healthy, she's not overweight, she's never been sick and is very active and can do things that other thin kids can't even do at her age. I have a sister. I was always compared to my sister growing up and then once I was older she was always compared to me when it was time to point out her "flaws". Yes we are different but thats what makes us beautiful. As soon as I hear a comparison between my girls I stop it! I will not allow one of my daughters to feel less than the other or anyone else for that matter. Yes Kayla has beautiful blue eyes! Yes KYLIE has gorgeous eyes too, big beautiful "BROWN" eyes. I commit to raising girls that love themselves and embrace what others call "flaws" and make them characteristics that other people wish they had. I remember when big butts were looked at as unattractive and now thanks to those women who embraced that "flaw" if you don't have junk in YOUR trunk your whack. Thats what I want for my girls! I don't want them to follow trends, I want them to set trends.

How can you change "flaws" to trends here are some examples:

NO : "I'm so fat I need to go on a diet"
YES: " I want to eat healthier so I can have more energy" Make it a family lifestyle

NO: "I need to exercise, agh I'm so fat"
YES: "We should excise so we can be strong and fast and healthy" Play with your kids, stop being a couch potato addicted to TV shows that don't do anything but poison your minds and hearts.

NO: "I wish my hair was straight"
YES: "This is awesome I can wear my hair curly whenever I want and straight whenever I want!"

NO: "Agh my freaking boobs are so _______"
YES: Freaking cover up! Leave something to the imagination!!!!! "I love how color of this dress compliments my complexion, my eyes etc. " Stop putting so much focus on how to show off your lady parts. Focus a little more on how to love everyone and use that mind to make changes in this world that will benefit the next generation!

Our kids are innocent and have the ability to find beauty in everything! Don't take that away from them. Nourish it and help that grow!
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My Rustic Country Kitchen Barstools

As many of you know my husband and I are photographers and recently have started doing real estate  photography. Awesome, right? Maybe not so much since after our first model home that we shot I told Landon (my husband) I wanted a new house lol. That's basically what lead to our kitchen remodel. Stay tuned for the full blog on how we remodeled our kitchen for $500! For now I just want to share a little DIY Project that we fell into as we worked on our kitchen remodel with our small budget. 

If any of you have been on the market recently for barstools, you can vouch for me in that the price are ridiculous! Seriously barstools that don't look like they are going to fall apart if a 40 lb child sat on it cost anywhere between $100-$180. I needed three barstools, so we definitely couldn't do that since that would have blown through our entire kitchen budget! So We got "SAVVY" and repurposed our old barstools and it cost us a whopping $10!!! 

Materials Used:

Log Round
20" Chain Saw (If you don't have one you can use a hand saw and lots of elbow grease)
Paint Brush 

This is our original barstool. As you can see, very outdated and gross from use and abuse by my toddlers....and the hubsters lol. I decided after just a couple days of searching that I would have to make these work because finding something new would be too expensive. I thought upholstery , but as I took this picture and saw how gross the seat looked from having stuff spill on it, that option was quickly shut down. Luckily for me we had some logs, that we picked up for free from a friends yard, sitting in the garage from a previous DIY Project that never happened lol. I like to think that things happen for a reason because this logs diameter couldn't have been more perfect. Plus, my husband has been dying to use his chain saw for something so what better way to kill two birds with one stone! Here are the step by step directions on our DIY Barstools. 

Step 1. We unscrewed the seat off the legs but left the swivel screwed on. I haven't tossed the seat yet just incase I get inspired and decide to use it for another DIY project later but thats up to you ;-). 

Step 2: We cut a slice off of the wood log about an 2 inches think and sanded it down flat on both sides. After sanding it was about 1 3/4 inches thick. 

Step 3: After sanding the slice of log flat and the bark off we sealed it with Watco Laquer Finish Semi Gloss. I bought this at Lowes for $10 after taxes but I couldn't find it on their website so I hyperlinked the product on Amazon just so you could see exactly what I used. This seal was clear because I wanted the natural wood color enhanced not covered but feel free to use whatever stain and seal you like. We applied the seal with a paint brush and let it dry overnight. 

Step 4: We saved the screws so that we could reuse them when it was time to place the log on the swivel. We grabbed a drill bit that matched the size of the screws to pre-drill the wholes for the screws.

Step 5: We placed the log upside down and the barstool on top of the wood to set the marks for the screws placement. 

Step 6: We pre-drilled the wholes a third of the length of the screw. Pre-drilling is recommended to prevent any cracks on the log. 

Step 7: Screwed in the original screw that the barstool came with 

and wallah 

I love the industrial country look that it has given my kitchen! Feel free to leave comments below or your results! Take pictures of your DIY Project and submit them for a chance to be featured ;-) .

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Setting your child up for success!

Summer is over and school is in session. If you are like me, you probably gave your child a break during the summer. I normally try to avoid that, but with a soaring wedding photography business, wifely duties and an infant to add to the mix, my four year old got lucky that mommy wanted a break this summer too! As the first day of homeschooling approached, I feared that I would be starting from scratch. So I created a back to school entry exam for my toddler so that I could see what she needed a refresher on and what we could check off the list. Mind you that I have already gone through all pre-k curriculum with Kylie (my four year old) last year, so this test will include everything your child should know by the end of pre-k. Even if you are just beginning with your toddler this will give you a starting point so you can see what your child knows and how they progress over time. This exam is a great guide for what your child should know by the end of pre-k and will help you structure a lesson plan. It is a great way to set your child up for success in kindergarten, wether your child is homeschooled or will be attending a traditional school. Subscribe to my blog for future post covering learning activities for alphabet, phonics, math, and science.

Below I have included the first three pages of my Pre-K Assessment I have put together for my girls. This is also a great resource for stay at home moms who are contemplating on homeschooling but don't know where to begin. Even if you are not choosing to homeschool it is a great way to make sure your child is set up for success when they start Pre-k/ Kindergarten. It gives you a starting point and helps you organize your activities and assignments to cater to what your child needs help with. Take this assessment once a month to see how your child is improving.

Assessment includes:

  • Name recognition and spelling
  • Color Recognition
  • Number recognition 
  • Pattern recognition
  • Upper and Lower Case recognition
  • Letter sounds
  • Shape recognition
  • Shape Attributes
  • Months of the Year
  • Days of the Week 
  • Seasons 
Purchase full assessment for $5.00

Purchase 10 page Assessment for $5.00

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Homeschooling Myths

Photo By Landon Hendrick Photography

I'll say it again and again, being a stay at home has been the best decision that I've ever made. One of the biggest blessings has been, having the option to homeschool my little ones. I am not going to sit here and lie and say that it is easy, because its not. I'm not going to tell you that it doesn't come with frustrations because it does! With that said it has been one of the most rewarding tasks as a stay at home mom. It is so rewarding to see that my four year old is not only at level but above level academically.

So why am I writing this blog? As awesome as homeschooling has been for my family, it hasn't been easy to deal with the criticism of those who are skeptical about homeschooling. It never fails! At every gathering or conversation I have with a parent that has opted for the traditional educational system, they have something negative to say or suggest about homeschooling. Here are some of the questions I get asked every time :

  • Aren't you afraid that your child is going to be socially awkward?
  • How are your kids going to handle the real world after being sheltered?
  • How will they be able to apply for college ?
  • There is no way that your child will have a well rounded education if they are homeschooled.
  • What makes you qualified to educate your child?
  • Your children won't be able to participate in extra curricular activities
  • All homeschool mothers are religious freaks. 
I intend to keep my cool and stick to the facts and will provide you with a list of case studies that you can feel free to read up on your spare time. I've done the research and so I would like to take this opportunity to provide you with educated responses to the questions and statements commonly made about homeschooling. 

Photo By Landon Hendrick Photography

Socializing skills are incredibly important in life! They play a huge role in your relationships and job placement. Many people seem to be very concerned with homeschooled children lacking these social skills, being an outcast or socially awkward. Many are skeptical that they can learn these social skills in a home controlled environment. Some even question whether homeschooled children will be ready for the real world and the harsh realities they will experience when they are no longer safe in their little home with their families. This is do to the misperception that homeschooled children are kept away from the world and social interaction like prisoners. The reality is that homeschooled children are just as social if not more than traditionally schooled children. Homeschooled children actually have more opportunities to socialize because they can complete curriculum that takes all day in a traditional setting, in a couple of hours, leaving more time for extra curricular activities like ballet, gymnastics, martial arts etc. In schools, children tend to form clicks and once formed are less likely to be inviting to new members. Case studies have actually shown that homeschooled children, on the other hand, from a very young age realize that in order to have friends they need to be open and welcoming and nine out of ten times they initiate the greeting. I have experienced this first hand with my oldest daughter, Kylie (4yrs). She is known to walk into a room with kids and say "Hi my name is Kylie, I'm four! Whats your name? Would you like to play with me?" Its pretty funny to watch! I have seen her approach other kids the same way when they are in her territory as well. 

Photo By Landon Hendrick Photography
Contrary to popular belief, children who are homeschooled are very confident and independent. They learn to self initiate tasks, be organized and strategize. Although many doubt that these kids will be able to face the harsh realities of this world, the reality is that they adapt just as well as traditionally schooled children. I would argue that homeschool children are aren't the ones that face the harsh reality of being introduced into the real world since they are living in it everyday and interacting with people of all ages and cultures while others are in a school setting.  One case study showed that adults that were homeschooled interviewed better than traditionally schooled adults and they obtained qualities that fit more in leadership roles. I  can make an educated guess that this is definitely an advantage that will facilitate being in the real world on their own. 
Photo By Landon Hendrick Photography
Some argue that homeschooled children are deprived of a well rounded education.  There's a huge concern that homeschooled children won't receive a good education because they aren't working with teachers instead they are being taught by parents who did not specialize in education and may not have the skills to educate any child. They worry that this deprivation will hinder their chances of getting into college. Yet supporters of homeschooling will argue that homeschooled children have an advantage because they have one on one attention. If a child needs extra help with a subject or topic they can receive that help without shame or worry that they will get made fun of by their classmates. If they understand it, they are also able to move forward to the next lesson without having to wait for others to catch on. They get to move at their own pace which ensures that they are actually learning and applying all the concepts vs just memorizing for the next exam and then forgetting. Having the capability to work ahead or take extra time on a specific topic, and having the opportunity to explore topics that are of interest to them further than they would ever explore in a traditional school environment, is just some of the benefits of homeschooling that help ensure that they receive a well rounded education. Studies found that 75% of homeschool children attend college where only 48% of traditionally schooled children attend college. Not only do these kids have just as good of a chance as traditionally educated children to have a well rounded education and get into a prestigious college, studies insinuate that they may actually have better chances of getting into better schools since they overall perform better on standardized test and admissions test such as the SAT and ACT. 

Homeschooling has become more popular over the past years and contrary to what some believe, it isn't just for religious freaks. 2.5 million children are homeschooled. Out of that 2.5 million 77% say that the main reason they opted for homeschooling is because they disapproved of the academic structure in the schools and 91% stated that they were concerned about the environment of other schools. I'm not saying that there isn't religious homeschoolers but at the end of the day the main concern is providing a safe environment that their children can excel and learn in. Many homeschooling parents just want to offer their children an education where they are motivated to explore their creativity and to think out of the box. There has been an increase with concerned parents that schools are teaching students to pass a test. The curriculum is centered around passing an exam. If they don't pass, they will be held back a grade. The dissatisfaction for the new educational structure along with the increase in bullying and tragedies that have been plastered over the media are the shared reasons why you'll find more and more parents are considering homeschooling. 

Photo By Landon Hendrick Photography
Okay so maybe now you look at homeschooling differently. You may even , after reading this, feel like maybe you want to homeschool your child but still feel inadequate to educate your child. After all, you aren't a teacher and just the thought of having to put curriculum and lesson plans together terrify you. Fortunately, there are many resources that can make it possible for you to homeschool your child. There are free programs that will provide you with curriculum and test so that you can successfully teach and measure improvement for your child. Your child will learn to work independently and you will serve as backup to help them learn how to find the answers when they don't know it. There are other resources that you can pay for curriculum. There's even support groups where stay at home moms that homeschool, meet and take turns teaching subjects and planning field trips and activities so that your child can interact with other children their age. I have Kylie set up for homeschooling with Faith Assembly Academy. The benefit in a private school like this is that I can create the curriculum myself and the school generates the report cards and transcripts for my little Kylie. This also gives us the added benefit that if Kylie were to have a hard time with a subject she could go on campus, for a reasonable cost, for that subject and get help from a teacher that specializes in that subject. This program also allows her to participate in school field trips, sports and extra curricular activities if she wanted to. 

Overall homeschooling is a perfectly great way to educate a child and has many added benefits. Of course I want to caution that if you decide to take up homeschooling for your child, it is a lot of work and patience especially when they are young. As they get older they will work more independently which will only prepare them for the real world when they are in college. There are many resources and studies that will argue that homeschooling isn't just as good as traditional education in a school setting, but better. They provide convincing findings that homeschooled children gained qualities that ensure that they are successful in their future. I've listed below additional resources for anyone who may be interested in researching more about the pros and cons of homeschooling and additional resources on how to get started. 
Photo By Landon Hendrick Photography


Homeschooling Resources:

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Have you prepared a Will ? Have you appointed a Guardian?

Photo by Landon Hendrick Photography 
Motherhood is so amazing. The moment I became a mother, I feel like my whole life changed. I was now responsible for a little life. I knew that everything that I did from that point on would play a role in the future for my daughters life. Along with that very real sense of responsibility  also came so much joy and happiness. I was excited for what was to come. I was excited for the sleepless nights that awaited me because I knew that they would be sleepless because this perfect little person that I created needed me. Although exhausting, it was something Landon and I had planned for and we were just so ready to be the best parents that we could be.

After a while, the chaos of having a new baby at home settled down. We were in the most blissful state in our life. I can't quite remember what brought the topic up but Landon and I started talking about what would happen if God forbid, something unfortunate were to happen to both of us. Who would watch over our girls? How can we prepare to make the transition as easy as possible for our loved ones? Who would we appoint to handle our estate? How can we make sure that our wishes are carried out? All of a sudden a dark cloud of worry hovered over us! We never had to worry about this before, and it felt like it was a huge risk we would be taking if we didn't get this taken care of.

So where do we begin? The first step that we took was to appoint a guardian. We thought very carefully about this. After all this would be their new parents. We wanted someone that had the same values, and beliefs as we did. It was very important that this person was someone that they knew and trusted and that had been present in their life. This was so hard! You never realize how cocky you are until its time to pick someone that you feel is as good or better than you to raise your child. Regardless of the qualities you consider to decide whether they could be your child's guardian, the next step is to have the conversation. You want to make sure that this person is willing and wants to take on this huge responsibility. Landon and I sat down with the person we were considering in the order  of which we preferred. Thank God, the first person on our list met was ecstatic and honored to be appointed guardianship over our girls. It was a HUGE sense of relief! Step one. Check!

Photo by Landon Hendrick Photography
The next step we took was to put finances in order. We calculated the cost of all of our debt, college for the girls, and living and realized that we needed to up our life insurance. Raising kids can be expensive and the last thing that I wanted was to burden financially the appointed guardian. We immediately contacted our life insurance and bumped it up. We also changed the beneficiaries. We hadn't realized that our girls weren't even listed on there as beneficiaries. We updated all the beneficiaries on our 401k, mortgage insurance and accounts. It is important to do this! I've heard nightmare stories about money staying in limbo because nothing was prepared prior. The last thing you want is for your children not to have access to this money and now they aren't just dealing with the grief of loosing you now they are dealing with their entire foundation falling apart. It's just too much! 

"How do I ensure that my wishes are carried out?" At this point I've done all this work and now I was faced with "how the heck do I make sure that the money is handled correctly. How do I make sure that the girls end up with the guardian we had so carefully elected?" Just saying "This is what I would like" isn't enough. At the end of the day once your dead, your dead and there's no way you can reinforce  it. Plus I wanted to make sure that the money was used to pay off debt and our house first. I didn't want the money to get blown before the girls even entered high school so I wanted to appoint an allowance and then set up a trust fund for money that they couldn't touch until college and then another amount once they graduated college or hit a certain age. We all know how money can make great people get greedy and selfish so I was really concerned with how can I legally enforce this once I'm dead. How can I make sure that the money is used for my daughters and not something else. A WILL and a TRUST! The next step is to prepare your will with all the details that you have already thought of. You can find a lawyer and get all of this prepared. It can get pretty expensive our you can contact your church. Our church actually had this resource available. They offered a lawyer that would help process our will and give us legal advice. 

Photo by Landon Hendrick Photography 
Life isn't guaranteed. You are here one day and can be gone the next. My hopes are that in reading this post you were able to analyze what would happen if you were to not be here for your children anymore. What would happen to them? Who would take care of them? What will happen to your debt? Will your children inherit your debt before they even get a chance to begin life? Will the person you appoint to care for them be able to financially care for them? Have you bought a life insurance? Have you updated your beneficiaries? Are your funeral expenses covered, or will your children be faced with having to cover that cost? Have you prepared a will to ensure that your wishes are honored? I hope that this blog gives you an idea where to start! I know that just having to think of not being here to protect my girls was overwhelming and I just did not know where to begin. Hopefully my experience will help yours be a little easier. Below are some resources to assist you in getting started.

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