Parenting Teens ... And Enjoying the Ride

 When our kids were little I was afraid of teenagers.  Most of them were bigger than me, and I thought they were just a bunch o' hoodlums with bad attitudes and filled with sarcasm.   I never imagined having teens would be this much fun...

As kids hit the teen years, it is natural for them to begin to pull away, but they still need to know that they are an important part of our family makeup.  They don't need us to hold their hands to cross the road, but they do need us to hold their hearts when the world begins to crowd in.  Parenting doesn't end when they turn 13.  It just looks different.

A couple of years ago, we made a conscious decision to be actively involved in our kids' teen years.  It is no easy task, but so worth the time and effort.  
Here's how it looks for us:
1. We want to know our kids' friends.  This is not the time to check out.  Friends are the greatest influence at this stage, so we want to encourage healthy friendships.  If their friends know us, it adds another layer of accountability.  
2. We try to teach our kids how to have healthy friendships with both sexes.  In the next phase of life, many of these kids will be finding their future mate.  Now is the time to help them develop friendship skills that will extend into adulthood and, hopefully, encourage strong marriages.  
3. We try to open our home as much as possible to these crazy kids.  Sometimes a quiet corner with a good book beckons... but I'll have the rest of my life to sit in a quiet corner. In this season of life, we are choosing to be "yes" parents.  There are a multitude of things we have to say "no" to, so it is important to look for the "yes" opportunities.  If the kids want to come, we make every effort to say yes. 
*Disclaimer: I fully believe in boundaries and having a day of rest.    
4. We are involved in the youth ministry at church.  As I type, my husband is on a youth trip with the middle school. Bless his heart.  I just got back from a 12 hour bus ride from high school camp. Sleep is overrated.  Our roles in the youth ministry ebb and flow, but we want these kids to know that we are connected and that we care.
5. We choose to invest in these kids.  Even good kids have baggage, tough home situations, and the need for healthy adult influence.  They may act like they know everything about everything, but they are still learning how to process the world.  We want our home to be a safe place for our kids' friends.  They need to know we are FOR them.
6. We fully believe in the power of fun.  It is our desire to demonstrate that good, clean fun is better than what the world has to offer.  
Good, not-so-clean, clean fun
Put into Action
When our kids say, "let's have a party," we try to come up with something that makes the guests want to come back.  Sometimes it is just pizza and a bonfire.
Other times we pull out the stops and get a little crazy.
Water balloons and summer just go hand in hand.

Shaving cream fights are the best!

Food is always a must.  If you can't afford to supply it every time, ask the kids to bring their favorite snack.  Host a Mexican fiesta and ask the kids to bring a taco topping.

One of our favorite games is Snowball Mountain.
The kids don a disposable shower cap (Dollar Tree).  Split the group into pairs. One team member gets a smothered dollop of CoolWhip on his head.  The other team member has to toss mini marshmallows onto the "snow mountain."  Once they have 10 marshmallows attached,  they must run over and eat the marshmallows off of the snowy mountain.  

Let them play.
 Life gets serious fast.  We want our kids to enjoy this last season of freedom.  Sometimes the kids just want to play in the pond.  Other times they want to play Ultimate Frisbee.  Their favorite group game is Manhunt. Basically hide-n-seek in the dark.  The basketball goal rarely gets ignored.  
It doesn't have to be a big production.  Just let them play.  Our job is to provide hydration, safety, and to encourage them to include everyone.  Sometimes we have to suggest games to get the ball rolling, but usually they figure it out on their own.

I never thought I'd say it, but I really do love having teens over to our house.  They make me laugh, give me a fresh perspective on life, and remind me that every season of parenting can be a blast.  Besides, they don't judge my dirty toilet and remind me that clean floors are  totally overrated.

I'm linking up with Imparting Grace. Come join the party!


The Heart of Our Home

Welcome to our kitchen!  It is truly the heart of our home.  Many hours are spent in this space.
We had the privilege of designing our kitchen from scratch.  It was a fun yet daunting task.  It's funny how unique priorities can be.  My husband wanted two dishwashers. Who is going to argue with that??
Aside from being a very large space that could accommodate large crowds, I had two top priorities:
Priority #1: A large window over our sink.
I savor my view of the pond every time I stand at the sink.

 Priority #2: An extra large island that could seat six.

We debated over where to put the stove top.  I love having it on the island because I don't feel like I have my back to the crowd when I cook. I'm nosy social like that.

We don't use our microwave much at all, so we put it under the island.

When we ordered our cabinets, I didn't remember asking for the beadboard around the skirt of the island, but it was a wonderful surprise when they were installed.  It really hides the scuff marks.
Our barstools came from Overstock.com. I ordered them because they were industrial/farmish/durable/comfortable and had great reviews. About six weeks after ordering them, I began to notice this style all over the internet, in magazines, and on tv. And then ultimately on the Target shelves.  Wish I could take the credit for being a trendsetter.  The truth is I am practical to a fault and they were a great price.

The wall color is Sherwin Williams Front Porch.  The pantry door is Sherwin Williams Watery.

 In my last post, I showed my red and aqua dining area.  This is the space in its entirety.

A few of my favorite things:
Woven 14" tray looks like Pottery Barn, found it at Ross for $6.99

 Blow-in-the-breeze seersucker panels: Walmart fabric section.

Ikea pendants. They still catch my eye in magazines.
 Enamelware collection. Some were found, some were thrifted, a couple gifted.

Thanks for stopping by!  Wish we could sit at the island and share a glass of lemonade.

I'm linking up with It's Overflowing


Farmhouse Style on a Budget: Aqua and Red

 I love changing things up.  Are you a changer-upper?  Right now I have red and aqua in our dining area.  I lean towards soft colors, but the red just seems to make this space happy.

This little desk was a junky mess when I found it at a thrift store several years ago.  It has lived life in many rooms, including the screened porch.  Last fall I used the leftover paint from our pantry door (Sherwin Williams Watery).  I think she's beautiful now.
I gave her a little bling with these cute knobs from Hobby Lobby.  They did not meet approval from my children, but I like the touch of sparkle.

This little space cost one dollar to throw together.  The lamp came from my son's room with a shade from the living room.  The tray is a Goodwill find from six years ago.  I shopped the house for the lantern, bird, and clock pillow.  The enamel pot came from my father-in-law.  He informed me that it was, ahem, well used during his childhood.  I love that it has a LIFE magazine sticker on it.

The red/white check towel was a gift from my mom.  When I was in high school, our kitchen was wallpapered in this exact check.  I love her sense of style!
I found this skeleton key in the dollar section at Michaels. There were several colors to choose from and I wanted them all, but I showed restraint... for now.

My current centerpiece.  Striped straws make me smile.

This print was $0.22 for an 8x10.  I found the free printable on Pinterest and uploaded it to Kinkos.  Since it is only black and white, the price is incredible!  Blue burlap frame: TJ Maxx.

Red and aqua? Happy colors
I'm linking up with Imparting Grace today! Come join the party!


What We Did with the Salvaged Barnwood

 When we laid out the plans for the property, we had a necessary structure list: a barn, henhouse, and our home.  Then we had a "maybe one day" list.  One of those things was a picnic pavilion.  We envisioned string lights, tables laden with food, some live bluegrass music... you get the picture.  Our "one day" became a reality a lot sooner than we expected.  (click here to read about how another "one day" became our life on the farm) 

Seriously, we can't make this stuff up:
Word got out about how we have been using our farm to bless large crowds and some people wanted to be a part of it...without us asking!  We got a call that a local lumber company wanted to donate the wood for a pavilion.  Then a local framer sent his crew to frame the structure (with our help, too).  Next, a painter offered to stain the raw wood.  A friend donated the shingles and a roofer donated his labor to put it on.  A local lighting store joined in the fun and donated two outdoor ceiling fans; and you guessed it, an electrician donated his time to wire it up.
We chose a location close to the barn so that power could be easily run to the pavilion.
 As with all projects on the farm, it was a family project.  We worked hard to lay the decking.
 Sometimes trying to beat the rain...

 A friend was remodeling her kitchen and this brass chandelier was in the trash pile.  I snatched it up, added a coat of black spray paint, and fell in love.

This 40" granite step came from the grandparent's farm.  Pretty sure it weighs more than my car. I love reusing things with sentimental value.

We purchased three things for this project.  1. Nails. 2. Lattice to keep out cats and other animals that might want to make their homes under the deck.
3. String lights.
We looked in the big box hardware stores and online, but our budget was super tight.  Then one day I happened to be at Big Lots and found these in the garden section.  We didn't want anything that would be too bright (no bugs invited).  These are actually small christmas tree lights with plastic clear ball coverings. They look like the glass ones but will be much more durable.  The price was perfect too!

Remember the barn from the previous post?  This is what we did with the salvaged barnwood:
We wanted our new pavilion to have rustic, old charm.

 The pavilion is 16x30' and I love every square inch.

Eventually we will stain the floor and support beams to match the rafters, but for now it is time to enjoy.

It is the perfect length for three long banquet tables for a serving buffet, or we can double that side by side for a sit down dinner.  If it rains, we can keep a lot of friends dry.

 Over the last month we've had two large birthday parties, a couple of family gatherings, the youth group, a father-son event, and our Life class family picnic.
 Yes, it has been well used already.
We still have some finishing touches, but that's for another day.  We hope to bless many people with this gift of space.  Who knows, one day, there might even be a wedding here.  One day...

I'm linking up with It's Overflowing today