gallamore west: August 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Picture frame turned Dinner Menu!

Do you plan your dinners ahead of time?
I have forever been horrible at meal planning.  I could handle lunches and I love to make breakfast, but for some reason I just couldn't get into the groove of planning dinners ahead.  I mean I was really, really horrible at cooking dinners... 5 PM would roll around and I'd be stuck scrambling to throw together a decent meal for my family.  I had tried and failed a few times at meal planning.  But about a month ago, I decided to plan out our dinners for the week the weekend before and do my shopping for the week's dinners on the weekend too.  Honestly I think the reason I've stuck with it this time is because I do almost all of my grocery shopping at Target these days.  And because I do my grocery shopping on the weekend, Daddy is home to watch the boys.  Hello... that's KID-FREE Target shopping!!! :)  

Also, I decided that instead of just writing our meals on a little piece of paper, I'd be inspired to keep up with meal planning if I made a cute Menu Board for our kitchen.  

I used this black picture frame and painted it my favorite color, Jamaican Sea by Folk Art.  

Then I shabbied up the edges of the frame with Martha Stewart ink. 

I also added a little pennant banner, printed up a cute little paper for the inside, and added Velcro on the bottom to attach my Dry-Erase marker so I don't misplace it.  It sits next to the stove in the kitchen and my boys {Daddy included} love it because they just look at it and know what delicious meal is headed their way that evening!

It's been a month of meal planning now {and week 2 of having the Menu Board completed and in use} and I LOVE it...  I can't imagine ever going back to the 5 PM Dinner Scramble!  If I can do it, anyone can...

Want to start meal planning, 
but need dinner ideas?  

 Check out my Crock Pot Cooking and What's for Dinner boards on Pinterest!  There are so many talented people out there serving up delicious dinners for their families.  I'm grateful for their recipes, and glad to finally be one of those people making good dinners for my sweet family!

 Thanks for visiting Gallamore West!  Hope you stay and look around awhile.  If you like what you see, I'd love to have you follow along via GFC, Facebook, Twitter {I'm new and clueless there}, Instagram, or Pinterest! xoxo

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Aged" Papier Mache Letters- Pottery Barn inspired

I've been doing lots of rearranging around here and my former Craft Corner cabinet {pictures coming soon} is now home to our boys playroom TV.  It was so bare looking on top of it though, so I painted these papier mache letters during nap-time recently.  

I used two of my favorite paint colors,

and just lightly brushed on the yellow paint, leaving streaky sections of the natural papier mache.  

Once the yellow paint dried, I lightly brushed the edges with my most favorite paint color for crafting
{Jamaican Sea by Folk Art}
and quickly wiped it with a paper towel

When the letters were dry and ready to be placed in their new home, I realized that they needed something to keep them from falling over.  Not wanting to spend any extra money or go to the store to find something to display the letters on, I looked around my house... that's where this parchment paper box came in handy :) 

Using hot glue, I attached the letters to the parchment paper box {that I painted}

 I didn't quite realize how much space the letters would take up, so that's where this little scrap of aluminum foil box came in handy!  I just hot glued it to the end of the parchment paper box to have space to glue on the last letter.

Here's a close-up of the "A" mounted on that fancy box! :)

I love the way this quick and easy project turned out.  I especially like that it's displayed above the TV in the playroom because I don't let my boys watch too much TV so this is a good reminder to do what's really important in the lives of little ones... PLAY!!

 Thanks for visiting Gallamore West!  Hope you stay and look around awhile.  If you like what you see, I'd love to have you follow along via GFC, Facebook, Twitter {I'm new and clueless there}, Instagram, or Pinterest! xoxo

Monday, August 20, 2012

Slow down and soak it in...

If there is one thing that I absolutely love to do, it's being a tourist in my own town... and when that town is San Diego, what's not to love?

Sometimes we get so caught up in the hustle & bustle of daily life that we forget to stop and recognize how gorgeous life is right around us.  This weekend, we barbecued with good friends, watched the kids all swim together, sang Happy Birthday to their sweet daughter, and ate a vanilla cake layered with fresh strawberries that I baked from scratch {a rare event around here these days with a newborn and a toddler to chase!}

On Saturday we took a little 15 minute ferry ride from Coronado to the San Diego Harbor to go on some amazing old ships and inside an old submarine.  The boys loved this pirate ship they got to play on the most. 

Life with four little boys is crazy, hectic, challenging, and messy a lot of the time.  But it's also incredibly sweet, loving, fun, silly, and hilarious most of the time.  Sometimes I look around my house and wish that there weren't little fingerprints on the sliding glass door that I just cleaned, or that there weren't toy trains scattered all over the floors.  But I know that those days will come someday, sooner than it even seems possible.  And I will miss all of this much. 

So while our life with 4 little boys is a sticky one sometimes and there are some days that I feel like I change one diaper only to turn around to change another one, I really wouldn't change a single thing.  I'm so grateful for my sweet family.  And I'm so grateful to live in a city where the sun is {almost} always shining, and there are always fun adventures to go on with our boys.

I hope you had a sunny weekend too!  
What's your favorite thing to do 
where you live? 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Everything I ever wanted... I found the mom who has it all!

So there's this adorable mom that I follow on 
Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, her blog, etc...

She sews.
She blogs.
She crafts.
She gardens.
She's so stylish.
She eats organic. 
She home schools.
She exercises daily.
She hosts the best parties.
She frosts cakes perfectly. 
She has traveled the world. 
She wears expensive jeans.
She has granite countertops.
She has the cutest Etsy shop. 
She goes to church every Sunday. 
She vacations every summer in Maui.
She has the most adorable front porch.
She likes bringing her kids to the park.
She makes gourmet dinners every night.
She has a gazillion followers on her blog. 
She has the prettiest smile I've ever seen.
She has her digital scrapbooks up to date.  
She has beautiful espresso hardwood floors.
She always has the cutest mantle decorations.
She had her latest craft featured in a magazine.
She lives in a house that looks like a model home.
She likes bringing her kids to story time at the library.
She has creamy tan leather interior in her hybrid SUV.
She goes to the farmer's market every Saturday morning.
She had her baby's nursery decorated months before the birth. 
She makes green smoothies that her children gulp down happily. 
She creates the artwork for her children's bedroom walls by hand.
She dresses up and goes on dates with her handsome husband regularly.
She takes the most perfect pictures that make my heart go pitter patter.
She has long, straight gorgeous hair that she never pulls back into a ponytail.
She drinks her perfectly creamy morning coffee from the most darling Anthro mug.
She has {insert number of kids that would overwhelm you} adorable, well-dressed kids.
She keeps her hand-sewn chevron toss pillows perfectly fluffed on her Pottery Barn couch. 

And she makes me feel...
and like no matter how much I am doing, 
that I am never doing enough.

Maybe you read this list and thought, 
"Wow, I hate her."
"I do a lot of those too."
"Who is this Superwoman and why aren't I more like her?"

When I see all of those things, here's what I think...

I think "Who am I to be in this world of blogging, crafty, perfect picture taking, DIY-ing, wreath making, holiday decorating, party planning, baking homemade bread women?  I have four boys that laugh and run around in their underwear making messes with their toys all day long.  I have been trying to pick out bedding for my bedroom for 5 years.  My car is full of goldfish crackers.  I suck at sewing.  I can't keep a flower garden alive for the life of me.  The only vegetables that grow here are generally grown by accident.  I love it when my kids aren't involved in a sport because I don't like bringing them to practice.  I haven't been to the gym since 1999.  I have expensive jeans, but they don't fit.  I like to eat cheeseburgers and french fries (that, along with the gym thing may have something to do with those jeans not fitting).  I don't wear cute floral headbands, and I can't stand wearing earrings for longer than 5 minutes.  I don't really shop at Anthro and I have Formica counter tops, people!"

But as you may have guessed by now, "she" is not real.  

"She" is what happens when we combine any number of different Moms/women on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, etc. all into one imaginary, perfect, gorgeous, happy Mom/woman that we cannot possibly measure up to.  Every time I do this, suddenly feel like I am not enough.

Don't get me wrong... I love social media.  I'm completely smitten by Facebook and Pinterest. I follow a bunch of DIY blogs, and most recently, I started taking pictures with Instagram, where I absolutely love getting a glimpse into the fun lives of other moms, women, and friends.  But it is so easy to make our lives appear to different, and in many, many cases, better than they really are.  

I caught myself doing it just this morning...

Sunday mornings here are a glorious thing.  We sleep in late {because we let our boys stay up late as long as they play quietly in their bedroom without arguing on Saturday night}.  I smell the coffee brewing from down the hall as I lazily arise with our youngest boy, Bryce.  He will be three months old this week, and he sleeps like a champ.  But even still, my husband is a dear and lets me sleep in.

{So far, all of this is true.  Stick with me, the reality check is coming...}

I stumble into the kitchen that I swear I cleaned before going to bed at an indecent hour the night before because the only time I can paint, craft, blog, etc. without interruption is in the wee hours of the night when all the house is sleeping.  But seriously, most of the time I just stay up too late because I blog hop, get lost in Facebook, pin my little heart away, or occasionally watch American Pickers while planning my next morning thrift/garage/yard/estate/tag sale adventure that I'm too tired the next morning to actually goes on.

Back to our darling Sunday breakfast... it really does happen!  I make delicious homemade waffles {even if they're made with a heavy cream/water creation in lieu of milk because we're out of milk like this morning}, along with homemade whipped cream and mixed berries.  The berries are those frozen ones from Costco because even though I did go to the farmer's market yesterday, my boys were whining about how hot it was and they just wanted to go home, and the berries were $5 for a teeny tiny basket and that is just crazy expensive.  I don't care how cute the berries look in their little basket- that is ridiculous.

So this morning I took a picture of my beautiful homemade waffle with homemade whipped cream and mixed berries.  I made sure to crop out all the junk on the counter before I uploaded it to Instagram as my feet crunched on something... an Apple Jack?  It couldn't be because we don't have those sugary cereals in this house... surely not in this house!  But yes, it was indeed an Apple Jack.

And then I thought that my boys looked so cute sitting at the table patiently awaiting our Sunday morning waffle tradition so I snapped a couple of pictures with my fancy Nikon {don't be jealous- I only take pics on auto, the little flap for the memory card is broken, and I lost the lenses cap about 2 years ago and never replaced it}.

The table is filled with homemade, natural, and freshly whipped deliciousness...

The coffee is hot and creamy...

The fresh cut flowers from the farmer's market are in an up-cycled vase...

But why are only little bits of the table being photographed?

That's because the other half is covered with all of the contents of my craft hutch that I stayed up too late painting {okay, sometimes I actually do do something productive late at night}.

And that's also because we have one sweet, darling boy who is working on just keeping his cute little booty in his chair for more than a nano-second.

And that's also because the boys are only partly dressed, and they have all mis-matched, random plates {Halloween, Easter, owl} plates that I bought for $1 at Target.

And then I realize that it's possible that I may once or two have possibly been seen as that "she" that I see on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
And I realize that I don't want to be that girl because I am so not that girl.

I am an overly sensitive, overly critical of myself, overly perfectionistic, overly protective Mama who adores my family of fun-loving, silly boys with all of my heart.  And quite honestly, most of the time they adore me back... 
and that is enough for me. 

Although who am I kidding, while I haven't missed the gym for one minute since 1999, our previous home really did have granite counter tops and espresso wood floors and I would really, really like to have them again someday :) 

So, tell me... 
do you find yourself caught up in all that junk too?  
What gets you down?  
And more importantly, what lifts you back up?  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My baby sleeps all night... with love :)

People tell me I'm lucky because all four of my boys slept through the night early on {somewhere between 6 weeks to 14 weeks}.  I smile politely, but the truth is, I don't really think it's luck.  It's about love.  I learned some great advice and now I'd like to pass it on to those who are interested in lovingly encouraging your babies to sleep through the night, without using the Cry It Out method, and without having to wait until they're toddlers for Mama & baby to get a good night's sleep.

I've thought about this blog post for awhile now and hesitated on it because the Mommy Wars are brutal, and I don't want any part of it.  But people who know me well know that my babies sleep well, and occasionally ask me how I do it so I figured it would be best to post it here.

I honestly feel that there are different ways to raise our little ones, and if we are each doing what we believe is in the best interest of our children, then differing ways are just that: different.   But I've recently come across a few opinions that make it sound like encouraging a baby to sleep through the night is actually a bad thing, and have even come across someone express their opinion that Cry It Out & sleeping training are one in the same.  As a Mama who lovingly encourages her babies to sleep through the night as infants, that comment stung because I believe that I'm doing a great thing for baby & me by establishing loving night time routines, and it is not through letting my baby Cry It Out.  Cry It Out and lovingly teaching a baby to sleep through the night are NOT one in the same.

If you feel that the Cry It Out method works best for you and your baby though, then kuddos to you.  If you feel that the Wait It Out method works for you and your baby, I applaud you.   There is another way though between those two extreme opposites, and that's what works for me.

It's pretty simple really, but after it has worked like a charm with all four of our boys, I think it's definitely worth a try if you are struggling to get some shut-eye and would like a loving night time solution.  And for me, I know that I am a MUCH better Mama during the day once I'm getting some quality sleep at night.  And for my baby, I believe that he is happier when he gets enough sleep.  What can I say... we love our sleep around here :))

- I put the TV remote away, hide my iphone, ignore my Facebook... I teach baby that night time is night time by focusing only on him when he wakes during the night.  This way our night time feedings are quick, quiet, and distraction free.

-Every night, we make sure our baby knows that it's night time by following a night time routine.  Kids thrive on routine, and I think even as babies they like predictability.  Whether it's a night time bath, bedtime story, or a lullaby, I keep it pretty much the same every night.

-The last thing I do before putting baby to sleep for the night is change his diaper, make sure he's comfortable & snuggly, then feed him his last feeding of the day.

-Unfortunately, I was a big huge failure at breast feeding {that could be a whole separate post.  Oh, the Mama guilt!} so for me, I have all of the bottles that I'll need throughout the course of a night filled with water and I have the formula pre-measured and ready to mix.  During the middle of the night, the last thing I want is my baby screaming while I stumble around making a bottle.  As baby grows and sleeps more, the number of bottles we need for the night time decreases until we don't need any.

- Our boys always sleep in a bassinet right next to our bed for the first couple of months.  If their little noises keep waking me up, {but they're just making noises and not actually waking to feed} I just move the bassinet away from me a little, but still in our room. When baby wakes up hungry, I quickly get up, mix the bottle in the master bathroom, then prop open the bathroom door with just enough light so that I can feed him without making the bedroom light.  I do make eye contact and smile at him, but I don't tickle or play with him.  After he's finished, I burp him and I put him back down in his bassinet.  At first, baby is awake & sometimes fusses.  If he's just a little fidgety, I gently place my hand on his tummy or rub his head until he calms down.  If he cries, I lovingly pick him up and rock him to sleep before gently putting him down again.  My goal here is to have him fall asleep on his own when he's tired, so that he likes his bed & knows that it's a good, comfortable place to be.  But I do not let him cry it out.  If he cries, I pick him up and calm him down until he drifts off to sleep.

-I don't change baby's diapers during the night unless absolutely necessary. 

-After a few weeks of me following this very predictable pattern, I notice that baby has begun his own predictable pattern.  He wakes up about the same time each night, eats and burps, all while staying pretty much asleep.  Once we get to that point, we're on our way to a good night's sleep because I know that baby knows what night time is for... sleep!  As his tummy grows, his periods of sleep stretch out longer and longer.  I continue this routine and before I know it, I wake up one morning to the rising sun & shout, "Hallelujah!!  He slept all night!!!"

At first, I'm thrilled to call sleeping 6 hours "through the night" but before long we're enjoying 8 full hours of sleep a night or more without ever once letting him Cry It Out, or by sacrificing years of sleep.  I've only done this with my boys as newborns, never as a "let's try something else because what we're doing isn't working" so I'm not sure how it would work with an older baby.  But for us, it's worked like a charm.

Currently, our youngest baby boy is about 12 weeks old, and I wake up maybe once a night, if that, and it's generally close to sunrise. And I treasure that silent middle of the night feeding time- just me and him cuddling, feeding, then watching him doze right back into dreamland.  It's a precious time between the two of us while the rest of the family is sleeping.  I know that this precious newborn time will pass quickly.  And by lovingly establishing these night time routines early on with baby, I am a better Mama during the day- with enough energy for all four of them and all of the fun that we pack into our days.  

 So, tell me... 
am I just lucky or has this worked for you & your baby too?  
I'd love to hear your ideas too!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summer Drink Station

Whoosh... this summer is flying by!  I am absolutely LOVING having my four little guys home with me every day.  

We're staying up late, 
sleeping in, 
having a ridiculous number of jammies days, 
swimming like little fish, 
going to the beach, 
the zoo, 
the Wild Animal Park, 
making snow cones,
eating ice cream, 
going on Slurpee runs in jammies, 
bringing them to the drive-in for their 1st time, 
playing with cousins, 
riding trains, 
exploring tide pools... the list goes on and on!

Summer is my favorite season, but one thing that I don't love about summer is having cups and glasses all over the kitchen counters.  Since I run my dishwasher every night, empty it every morning, and load it as we go during the day {by the way, this is a WONDERFUL way to keep up with the non-stop dishes and I wake up to a clean sink every morning!}, I was constantly putting cups in the dishwasher all day and I knew there had to be a better method. And because I *try* to be a "green Mama" {in my attempt to make up for the fact that I drive a gas guzzling SUV} I don't want to use paper cups. 

When I saw this little tray at Target {of course!} for $2.50 I knew it was the perfect "Summer Drink Station" for our kitchen.  It was already a pretty turquoise color, so I just added the words "drink me... again and again!" with my Silhouette and lined the inside with my favorite contact paper {also from Target} and ta-da...

{a summer drink station}

All males in this home {with four boys and their Daddy, that's a whole lotta them!} are currently being trained to use ONE cup/glass/sippy cup per day and to put it in the Drink Station instead of any random place like they did before.  At the end of the day, they get loaded in the dishwasher.  And so far they're doing great!  Less dishes for Mama= more time for summer fun!

When our cousins were visiting last week {7 extra kiddos & 6 extra adults sleeping in our house!} I filled the drink station with disposable plastic cups, cute straws, and a Sharpie to write names on their cups.  All the cousins also got a re-usable plastic cup from Ikea, each labeled with their name to cut down on using too many of these throw-away cups.

Excuse the poor lighting.  I've been dying to catch up on my blog, but keep forgetting to take pictures during the day!  With 4 little ones, I've become quite a night owl these days, err nights :)

Hope you're enjoying your summer too!  What tips do you love to keep on top of clutter?  I'd love to hear them! xoxo


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