Andrea's blog


My Office Before & After

Andrea Steed's Office - Before & AfterAs part of our painting marathon a couple of weeks ago, my office got a new coat of paint - on both the walls and the ceiling. 

While I would have loved some turquoise walls, I decided that it was probably better for our house as a whole to go with the same color we had chosen for the livingroom (which is attached to my office) and the rest of the house.  - Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray 7043.  We painted both the walls and ceiling the same color - and remarkably, only needed one coat of paint to cover it (we used the Sherwin Williams Cashmere paint and were very happy with it). 

Along with covering over lots of scratches, dirt and a WHOLE bunch of holes in the walls, I took the opportunity to give my office a little sophistication upgrade as well. 


It used to be crafty and crowded (here's a before picture from a few years ago):

Scrap Room Office (2011)

When I started feeling claustrophobic, I removed several things from the room, including that giant shelf on the left, that was relocated to Paxton's bedroom to store toys.  But then my office was just kind of yellow-ish and boring as you can see here (photo taken a few weeks ago):

A.Steed's.Life Office - Before


So here it is now, after a little more thought and attention to detail (probably too much if you ask Ben...I tend to get obsessive). 

A.Steed's.Life Office - After

While there may still be a few tweaks to make along the way, I'm very happy with my slightly more sophisticated office.  It flows much better now from the kitchen and livingroom on either side of it.

Subconsiously, I think I used this office as inspiration and stuck with very neutral shades of gray, tan, and brown, with a touch of color, found mostly in the artwork. 

Here's a view from the living room (which is painted in the same color).

A.Steed's.Life Office - After office makeover

What's New?

I replaced the lampshades on lamps on top of my desk with round white shades instead of the old-style pleated shades that were on there before.  I'm considering adding some trim or covering them with fabric to add some color...but haven't settled on that quite yet.

I also bought a new office chair (Temur-Pedic TP8000), which while it isn't exactly winning any style awards, is very comfortable, and that wins out when I sit in it ALL the time!  My old chair was giving me all sorts of hip problems -- and I'm too young for that.

I really wanted the artwork in my office to be inspiring and meaningful -- and made by other artists...not by me.  My old office was a little too self-indulgent I think, full of my own projects and artwork.  It's time to appreciate the talent of others!  Here's some info about some of the artwork I chose:

Camera Printable

Left Corner:

Here's a look at the left corner of the office BEFORE:

A.Steed's.Life Office - Before


A.Steed's.Life Office - After

I bought, hung & hemmed (in that order) new curtains from World Market (Silver Dupioni Grommet Curtain).  Don't look at the back of them. It ain't pretty.  Seriously.  But from the'll do.  A little tip - I hemmed these faux silk curtains by hand, while they were hanging on the pole.  That way I knew they'd rest just above the top of my desk.  Measuring isn't my strong suit and sewing faux silk was WAY too intimidating to attack with my sewing machine.  I hung the curtains right below the crown molding instead of just above the window to help make the room look taller, and to match the height of the new curtains I bought for the living room.

I built a third section to my desk to give myself some table space on the blank wall behind me. (Actually, I built about 75% of it. Ben finished it off after I messed it up and abandoned it to make dinner instead one night. He saves the day often on stuff like that - he's so much more precise than me!)

Tom Lynch Chicago Watercolor Painting

More Artwork Info:

  • The large painting on the left is a watercolor print called "Autumn Sunset" of Chicago, painted by a family friend, Tom Lynch.
  • "Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy" printed from internet - I can't find the original source... :(
  • The black and white photograph of the bare tree was taken by my mom.  I'm not sure where or when? I'll have to ask her.  She had this frame & photo up in her old house on a gallery wall, and I inherited it when she downsized to a camper (she's a rambler now!)

I bought that new table lamp for the corner at Home Goods.  I'm still thinking I might paint it a dark turquoise, but for now, I like the yellow.

The Rug:

A.Steed's.Life Office - After

This rug took me FOREVER to decide on.  I was pretty much obsessed with rug and curtain shopping both online and locally until I settled on this one from - Mohawk Medallion Rug.  I had already bought and returned another rug, so I wasn't willing to order online unless I could easily return it locally.  So I stuck with stores like Target. :)  I like how it has a pattern, but isn't completely overwhelming and busy.  Plus, the dark gray medallions tie in the couch from the livingroom (so do the curtains) and the light colored medallions bring out the gold in my storage baskets. 

The "Hallway" Corner:

Finally, here's the last corner of the room, which may still need a little work. You can see how the room connects to both the livingroom (on the left) and kitchen on the right. It was originally supposed to be a formal dining room. Office Makeover

I'm thinking about painting this antique corner shelf, but can't decide on a color.  Maybe a buttercream yellow? Or muted turqouise?  I would leave it in the natural color, except I don't like how it looks next to the red hardwood floors.  Maybe I could just paint the legs or the legs and the outside panels?  I'm open to suggestions!

I'm not sure what (if anything) to put on the walls above it.  Maybe some bare wall aren't so bad...

In any case, I'm calling the office "done" for now!  And I love it.  Maybe now I can get back to doing some work...instead of obsessively shopping for rugs and curtains.

Tour Our Home - A.Steed's.Life


Weekly Schedule / Dinner Menu Dry Erase Board - Zazzle Review

This year, it seems like our schedule has gotten much crazier with after school activities, church events, and family activities. 

To try and keep track of it all -- and make the rest of the family aware of what's going on (instead of the calendar just being in MY head) -- I've been printing a weekly calendar on computer paper and writing in our activities for the week and pre-planning our dinner menus.  Then I post it on the refrigerator, which is DEFINITELY the hub of our house. :) 

Well, as I'm sure you know, plans and schedules change! So, I did a lot of scratching out, erasing, and rewriting the same things for the next week.  But, aside from the scratch outs, the weekly calendar posted on the refrigerator was definitely working for us.  Not only did I know exactly what needed to be done to prepare for dinner every day, but I could plan out meals based on the carpool and activity schedule, to make everything a little easier on us all.  The system worked....I just needed a more permanent solution that looked nicer and was easier to adjust as our schedule and plans changed.

Enter -- a Dry Erase Board version of my weekly calendar! intoduced dry erase boards as a new product not long ago, and I've been wanting to try them out. 

I designed a basic weekly calendar onto two different sizes of dry erase boards (medium & large). I wasn't sure if the medium version (8" x 12") would be big enough to write all our activities on it, so I ordered both sizes to try them out.  The large version is 16" x 22" and would be great for large families with lots going on every week!

Review of Dry Erase Boards from Zazzle


I ordered the medium sized version with the basic khaki background, but I got creative with the large one to try out some color matching with our new Sherwin William's paint swatch.  I used the hexidecimal value number for our paint color (Worldly Gray #CEC8BB) and just pasted that into the background color.  Viola - a perfectly matched piece of decor!

Here's how you do that...

How to Change the Background Color:

Click on the "customize it" button for the product.

Customize a Dry Erase Board Background

Click on "edit" and then "background color" from the drop-down menu.

Customize Background Color in Zazzle Product

Next, choose a color from the color pallette or click on Advanced to enter your own hexidecimal number.

Choosing a Background Color

Enter the six digit hexidecimal number for your color of choice (which I found for my paint color at the Sherwin Williams web site).

Add a Hexidecimal Number for Background Color

Customized Background Color

As you can see, it's not exactly the same color as our walls, but it's pretty darn close! This would be such a cool way to perfectly integrate this dry erase board into your own decor.


As far as the quality of Zazzle's dry erase boards, I was overall very pleased. The design printed all the way to the corners, and there is no border or frame added to the board. It comes with a black fine tip dry erase marker that clips right to the front of the board.

Large Dry Erase Board Review from Zazzle

The slick finish on the top of the board makes it easy to write on (and easy to wipe off with a paper towel), which is exactly what I was looking for.

Zazzle's Medium Dry Erase Board Review

It's a pretty low-profile board, only about 3/16" thick.

Zazzle Dry Erase Board Review

Mounting Options:

My only disappointment was that the included "mounting equipment" was just double-stick foam tape in three strips on the back of the board. 

Zazzle Dry Erase Board Review

I'm sure they stick very well, but I'm *not* confident that they remove easily without ruining whatever it was stuck to, and wasn't about to stick it to my newly painted walls or refrigerator. 

Instead, I glued four magnets to the back of the board so it would not-as-permanently stick to my refrigerator. :)


The 16" x 22" version would be pretty easy to put into an open-back frame (which you can have made at any framing shop).  Or, you could use something like these if you wanted to mount it to a wall:

EZ Mount Mirror Clips


After trying out the different sizes for a few weeks, I decided that the medium version was a good size for our family's activities, and it fits nicely on our refrigerator without being too overwhelming.

Signs By Andrea Weekly Calendar / Dinner Menu Dry Erase Board Review


At regular price, the large version of this (de)Sign is about $40 plus shipping and the medium version is only about $20 plus shipping.   Plus, Zazzle offers coupons regularly, so this could really be an inexpensive family organization tool.


I love it! I'm so happy with how my dry erase board has worked out.  And now I can stop wasting printer paper on my weekly calendar scribbles. :)

  • Would this calendar and dinner menu dry erase board be helpful in your house?
  • What size would you get?
  • Would you change the colors? 

If you like this, you can buy it and customize your own here:

Signs By Andrea Weekly Calendar Dry Erase Boards

Or check out all of Zazzle's dry erase boards from tons of artists!


Kitchen/Dining Room - Before & After

So...since there never seems to be a true and official "DONE" to this decorating thing (even though I wish there were), I'll go ahead and share the kitchen and dining room after our painting marathon last week (1 week + 7 rooms + 7 ceilings, + 2 sick kids = pure chaos).

Kitchen Paint - Before & After

We went from a dirty, scratched, banged up and beaten khaki flat paint (that looks unbelievably better in photos than it did in person) to a rich, dark gray in the kitchen and dining room (that, ironically *doesn't* seem to photograph as well, but we love in person).

Besides the dirt and scuffs we were anxious to cover up, we weren't digging the brown on brown on more brown color scheme and have never liked how the khaki walls meshed with the reddish floors.


Kitchen Before

So, with the help of a professional decorating friend, we chose a dark gray paint - Sherwin Williams Anonymous 7046 - that we pulled from the flecks in our granite countertops. Since we started with almost NO contrast, we were looking for a very distinctly different color than the cabinets and counters.


Sherwin Williams Anonymous 7046

In natural daylight, the color has a nice dark gray tone, but in more tungsten lighting at night, it does have a slight olive-greenish hue that I'm not *crazy* about...but it works, and replacing some light bulbs for whiter lighting might help with that.

Is the room darker? Yes.  Cleaner? MUCH. And most importantly -- it's not so dang brown!  It has a little bit of a restaurant/cafe feeling to it now.


Kitchen After

Here are some photos from all four corners of the room...


Kitchen Before


Kitchen After

I'd still like to figure out how and where to add a pop of color without adding much clutter, (I'm open to suggestions - Throw rugs? Curtains on the porch doors? Backsplash art?) but for now, just being clean and painted is reward enough!


Kitchen Before

Per our friend's professional suggestions, we also painted the ceilings the same color as the walls.  We had intended to paint both the kitchen and dining room ceilings that same dark gray color, which we love in the kitchen (it actually makes the ceilings appear to recede and get taller).  But...after one coat on the dining room ceiling, we were not happy with the way our light fixture reflected light off of the dark color.  It looked very green and just wasn't good.  So instead, we painted the ceiling in the dining room (which is nicely divided from the kitchen, even though it's an open space), two shades lighter in the same color family  - Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray 7043.  Ahh. Much better.  With all the windows in there, it actually makes you kind of feel like you step outside when you sit down at the dining room table.


Kitchen After


Kitchen Before


Kitchen After

In addition to all the painting (and cleaning), we did a little bit of decluttering and moved some furniture out of the room to try and open it up even more.  The tall brown bookshelf in the corner of the dining room has been replaced with a small round table and plant.  And my black secretary desk that was underneath the gallery wall has been happily relocated to the entryway.  Moving those larger pieces out gives us a little more breathing room and makes the rooms feel bigger.

I'm also trying to be *really* sure about the wall art and decor before I put more holes in the walls, and am trying hard not to fill EVERY. SINGLE. SPACE.  That's very hard for me - it runs in my blood.  Just ask my mom. :)  So, I'm still pondering what to hang and whether to re-hang some of the wall art, which is why a few spots look oddly bare.

Wondering about how the gallery wall survived the repainting?  No? I'm gonna tell you anyway. 

I was pretty sure I wanted to keep it, and I KNEW I didn't want to have to rehang the whole thing from scratch, so when we prepped to paint the wall, I took everything down, but left the nails and marked the holes that I wanted filled with a red marker.  Then I took all the nails out and we filled the unwanted holes (there were plenty of extras), but left the ones we needed.  We painted right over it all, and when it came time to hang the gallery back up, I just followed a photograph of the old wall like a map to find the places where I could push the nails back into place and hang the photos.  Worked wonderfully. 

And whew...I think I still like it. :)

So there you have it.  The kitchen/dining room not-so-big reveal, that no one on earth cares one bit about, except me. It's not plastic surgery...just a little makeup change. :)

Tour Our Home - A.Steed's.Life


The Magical Lamp

Paxton has been waking up early.  Too early -- and he's starting to drop his afternoon nap most days, which means he wants to wander around all afternoon while we are trying to work. 

When Ayla was his age, she would quietly go downstairs when she woke up in the morning, get a bowl of cereal and sippy cup out of the refrigerator and quietly (and safely) entertain herself until we decided to wake up.

Paxton, however, is a more social kiddo and gets lonely quickly.  So he shows up in our bedroom (on our bed), heads to Ayla's room to wake her up, or just gets into unsupervised trouble.  Plus, he takes after me...he sounds like an elephant walking through the house. (Ben is a great tip-toer, and Ayla takes after him.  I tend to make more noise the quieter I try to be.)

We tried having Paxton stay in his room until "there was a 7" on the clock and made him little index cards with drawings of what that looked like...but he would come and tell us about every 7 he saw (and sometimes when he DIDN'T see a 7).  Same thing during rest time - the time cards weren't working. Chalk it up to another trick that always worked for Ayla...but utterly failed on Paxton.

So we took his alarm clock out of his room. 

Enter our next effort - The Magical Lamp.

The Magical Lamp

We put a little side-table lamp on a timer on top of the tall shelf in his bedroom (so he couldn't mess with it).  It's set to come on every day at 6:30am and again at about 2:45pm (after rest time). 

The rule is -- If your magical lamp is OFF, you stay in your room If your magical lamp is ON, you can come out, because it's morning time or because rest time is over.

Genious right?  Well, the first two days we tried it, he slept in and the light woke him up.  Bust.

Then he would come out often to tell us "My magical lamp isn't on yet." Double Bust.

But...we've stuck with it for a few weeks now and it's going a little better -- at least we have some leverage to work with.  For instance, if he comes out of his room too early, we ask, "Is your Magical Lamp on?" If the answer is no, he goes back to his room.  When it does come on, he comes running out to tell us, and is very excited about it (as well as completely mistified about how it knows to come on!)

Just one of the many trial-and-error efforts of parenting two kids that are SO different from one another!



Windows open.

Music loud.

Kids in school.

Signs to paint.

Must be Wednesday.

Don't mind my super-jank office chair.  I so need to replace it...soon.


Framed T-Shirt Art Tutorial

You know I have an affinity for favorite old t-shirts.  I simply cannot throw away a sentimental shirt.  Especially the Chicago Fire Department shirts that my dad has given us.  We wear them till they literally start falling apart, I alter them to fit better so I'll wear them more, and now I've begun using them as wall art! 

Paxton has grown out of his animal-themed nursery.  So gradually we've been turning his room into a more big-boy room.  He already had a giant fire station (Kidkraft Deluxe Fire Rescue Set) that he got for Christmas last year, plus several larger fire trucks, so we decided to continue that theme.

Lucky me. :) I had several old authentic CFD t-shirts and a few red record album cover frames that made the perfect (and cheap) wall-art project for his big boy room.

Framed T-Shirts

This t-shirt framing idea would be really cool in a teen's room - maybe to display old sports team tees or jerseys, or favorite concert t-shirts, etc.

I used several different t-shirts for all the frames.  The back design for three of the shirts were put into these red frames.  I took the backing of the frame out, wrapped the design on the back of t-shirt around the wood backing, and placed it in the frame.

Next, I cut the rest of the t-shirt off and secured it to the board with good ol' duct tape!  No one sees the back -- it's okay that it's not pretty.

Framed T-Shirt Tutorial

I still had the front emblems from the t-shirts leftover that I didn't want to throw away, so I used those in some smaller frames that I had spray-painted red.  I used duct tape again to attach the fabric to the the back of the white photo mat.

Framed T-shirt Logo

Framed T-Shirt Logo

I like how this 5-minute project turned out, and I think it gives his "big boy fire station" room a more grown-up feel. 

Fire Station Bedroom

I still have a few projects I might work on to finish off his room:

  • maybe a custom-painted sign that says "PAXTON FIRE DEPARTMENT" to go below the t-shirt frames
  • or a fire-bell lamp above his bed
  • paint the walls
  • add a big life-sized dalmation figurine at the foot of his bed
  • a white ladder shelf above the bed on the side wall
  • and wouldn't it be cool to have a brick wall installed alongside his bed? (okay, I probably won't really do that one). 

But for now, this is a good upgrade (along with that headboard I got from craigslist & the little red dresser that was about to be tossed in the trash by my neighbors - a good sanding and a fresh coat of glossy red paint, and it fits right in!)

Fire Station Bedroom

He seems to like it too.  That's important, right? :)


Color Run 2012 - Birmingham, AL

Remember that one Labor Day morning when we got up super early and it was raining like crazy, and we dressed up crazy and then piled into the car with all our friends to go run?  I do. :)

All dressed in white from our heads to our toes.  Janel was our fearless driver for team "Runbow Brites", navigating through rain and traffic, weaving us into prime positioning.  It still took us an hour to get there!  But perhaps that made the anticipation more fun.

Leslie, LaDonna, Nichole, myself & Janel all became lifelong friends in that fun little hour of driving. We also learned that Janel fits right into the Barber Motorsports Speedway! hah!

I'm all in when an event involves getting dressed up.  Costumes are so fun - bandana do-rag, a cheek tattoo, tall socks, and an armband (to hold my phone, which was safely protected by a zip-lock baggie).  Ben made fun of me, but I fit RIGHT in!

Across town, the rest of our team was getting ready too.  Say hi to Tom & Kortney:

And the lovely Deb (and her boy Wesley--who was a spectator this time):

Amazingly, we ended up parking right next to Zach, Ben, and Jonathan (who took a shorter route and got there at the same time as us...even though they left 30 minutes later).  

Here we are...already getting wet, but still sparkly white:

Once we all finally arrived, and managed to find each other (we hooked up with Tom & Kortney and Deb once we got to the race), we hopped into the starting line, and were on our way!

I managed to catch sight of Ben, Zach and the kids as we were running by toward the start of the race -- cold, shivering and wet little color watchers:

The 5K race went pretty quickly.  It rained the whole time, we got pelted with color several times along the way, and we arrived at the finish line about 30 minutes later, completely soaked -- and mostly colorful.

Just to make sure, we got an extra dose of color as we unloaded our own color packets at the finish line.

We tried hard to locate all our team members and get a team "after" photo, but this conglomerate will have to do. 

There were just too many people, too much rain, and the kids (and dad's) were not so interested in sticking around in the rain much longer.

In some ways, the rain was wonderful. We kept cool, and the water felt great while we were running.  But, since the rain made it hard for our spectator families to enjoy themselves thoroughly (or take many photos) it did make the whole event feel a little rushed. 

It was lots of fun, but I would have liked to savor a little more of it, dance to the music, and take more photos (of course).  Thank goodness for husbands, facebook, and smart phones!  In the midst of the rain and powder, we managed to get some pretty good shots...without breaking any cameras.

I'd totally do it again.  But I think I'd hope for better weather next time! ;) Thanks girls for coming on this crazy ride with me!


Sweet Home Alabama Clear Pebble Magnet

In need of a quick personalized gift this week, I decided to make use of some oversized picture pebbles that I inherited from my mom's craft stash (you can also buy them here: 20 Round Clear Glass Tile Wafers) and make this cute little "Sweet Home Alabama" magnet for a friend who just moved to the state.

Easy Teacher Gift

It was easy to make. 

I just picked the background paper (a yellow gingham) and cut the "sweet home alabama" text from black vinyl on my Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Tool.  Simple monograms or labels like "Shopping List", "This Week's Calendar", etc. would be cute too.

Then I glued the clear pebble to the design using E-6000 Med Visc 1-Ounce Adhesive (best adhesive for the job-hands down!). 

Once the glue was dry, I cut around the edges to remove the excess paper. 

If your patterned paper is thin, you might want to also glue a piece of white cardstock to the back too.  Otherwise, it's possible that the magnet and glue will bleed through your patterned paper.  That's no good.  It looks terrible. Trust me. I know. ;)

Picture Pebble Magnet Tutorial

Use the same glue to attach a heavy-duty magnet to the back of the design. These work well: Magnum Magnetics Corp ProMAG 3/4" Round Magnet 50-Pack

I added a little black ribbon around the outside of the pebble and tied it at the top for a little bit of extra decoration, gluing it in 4 spots, so that it wouldn't fall off.

Large Picture Pebble Magnet Gift Ideas

To wrap it all up, I just used a piece of tulle and ribbon. 

DIY Christmas Gifts

Tada! An easy, customized, finished project.  These make GREAT teacher and grandparent gifts at Christmas -- and it works especially well with photographs.

Picture Pebble Magnets

Supply List:


One Week In...

A little bit of reflective rambling about the first week of school:

Admittedly, I like schedules. I like routine. I like to know what to expect.   However, I also like to think I'm pretty good at being flexible and going with the flow when necessary (that's what makes trips like this work!) But, overall--I think schedules and routines are good and they generally suit me well.

So, imagine my surprise, when this first week of school came around and actually got going...I've found that I'm a little bit out-of-sorts and...bored(!).  Getting up at 6am everyday and completing about 15 tasks by the end of breakfast had been WAY forgotten over this wake-up-late, get dressed when you feel like it, watch-a-lot-of-television summer. 

I've noticed that I've spent a good part of each day this week making sure I'm ready for the next section of the day--which means I'm wandering a little aimlessly inbetween because my mind won't focus on what I could be doing NOW. 

It's funny, because I dread the summer arrival when both kids will be home ALL DAY EVERY DAY, all the fighting, the noise, the messes, and overload of kid-themed activities.  I anticipate with excitement when they'll head back to school to see their friends and go to their classes.  I'm thrilled that I'll have more quiet work time by myself, and that then I can focus, create, and produce more easily.

So, how come now that I have all this quiet, my brain feels like mush and I can't focus on anything?  Waking up too early? Too many days of exercise? Too much schedule to keep straight? By 3:00 when Ayla comes home and Paxton wakes up from rest time, all I want to do is stretch out on the couch and veg out till bedtime.

I'm sure this feeling will pass quickly - it always does, and then I'll be back to my get-er-done self, but for this week, I think I spent a lot of time with a blank stare on my face! 

So, I'm wondering if anyone else goes through a week or two of bewilderment at the beginning of each school year?



7 Weeks of Less - STRESS

I just finished a 7 week experiment inspired by the book 7 - An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. I'm calling my journey 7 Weeks of Less.  Read on to see how it went!

  1. FOOD
  2. STUFF
  4. WASTE
  6. MEDIA

The Rules:

Ha! This should be interesting, because it's the week I'll be packing and getting myself and the kids ready for a month-long trip to Chicago to visit with family and live out of a suitcase, sleeping in campers, hotels and basements.  If planning for a 4 week trip with two children across the country with a business to run while you're gone doesn't sound stressful, I don't know what does. 

To reduce stress during this time, I want to try a variation of what Jen Hatmaker did with several set-aside times throughout the day to pray and refocus. I'm not sure I can do all "Seven Sacred Pauses", but I'm going to commit to four of them and each day I'm going to dedicate 5 minutes to each prayer - which I realize is nowhere close to an hour, but these are baby steps:

  • (7:00 am) The Awakening Hour: Remembering God's goodness and complete control over my life and trusting in Him.
  • (11:00 am) The Hour of Illumination: Honoring Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and recommitting to giving my life away in service, love, and peace.
  • (2:00 pm) The Hour of Wisdom: Praying for wisdom and perspective.
  • (6:00 pm) The Twilight Hour: Expressing gratitude and serenity during the witching hours.

I think I'll set alarms. 

The Wrap-Up:

Though this week wasn't *hard* necessarily, it was definitely effective.  Having an audible reminder on my phone made me stop and pause several times a day to be thankful for what I have, ask God for help where I was struggling, and to pray for the people around me.  I wouldn't say my prayers were anything spectacular or particularly profound, but at least 4 times every day, I acknowledged God and his participation in my life. 

As you can see, I changed my set times a little bit, and I'm sure I didn't pray a full five minutes (or sometimes even a full minute), but still, i'm happy with the strides I made!

The kids even participated with me and they'd get excited when the alarm would go off and ask "Is it time to pray?"  Then they'd help me and we'd take turns saying what we were thankful for.  Most of our prayers went something like this (with plenty of other fun things added in):

Thank you God for our family, friends, and our trip.  Thank you for keeping us safe.  Please help us to obey, make good choices, and to be kind, respectful, helpful, and loving.  Thank you for Jesus and for the sacrifices he made that let us be forgiven when we make mistakes. Amen.

And you know what...even in the midst of packing and getting ready for a very long road trip (AL to IL), a holiday (4th of July) and sleeping in new places, we managed to stay pretty stress free. 

The main exception was the day Paxton was a total disaster (the 4th) and getting into all kinds of trouble, and Ayla had a major meltdown about some green beans.  I'm pretty sure though that stress week and all that prayer helped me get through that day much better than I would have otherwise! 

Especially on those long driving stretches (while the kids were watching movies in the backseat), I found myself starting to talk to God without the reminder.  Though, I'll admit, I often got distracted and started more prayers than I finished.  Perhaps that's the true meaning of "Pray Continually?"

My biggest takeaway from the week was that I'm much more comfortable praying, and more comfortable praying verbally with the kids, which I think is so important. 

I turned off my alarms today, but I may turn them back on if I find myself slipping out of practice.  It's good for me to lean on God a little more and myself a little less.  This week (though I certainly wasn't perfect), I found myself to be calmer, more patient, and a little nicer and less cranky than I can often be.  I don't think that's a coincidence.


And now....7 Weeks of Less is over.  I'm sure I'll hold onto some of the principles I've practiced and learned and am glad I did it.  Thanks Jen Hatmaker for the inspiration!  It has certainly sparked a lot of interesting and thoughtful conversations for me in the past several months.


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