MODERN FARMHOUSE PLAYSET DIY

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A playset has been on my wish list for a while now, but even the ones at Costco run about $1,000, so when our friends were giving away their well loved set for free, we jumped on the opportunity. Getting it was probably the hardest part. Daniel spent a couple days dissembling it into a few main pieces with our friends, and then rented a huge u-haul truck to transport it still mostly in tact.

When we reassembled it it looked like this:

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The bones were in great shape but the stain was peeling in lots of places. We pressure washed it and transformed it with paint in one afternoon.

This paint sprayer is one of my favorite tools for big DIY projects. We used it previously to spray all the doors in our house, and if we ever do walls again, I'd use this instead of rolling. It makes big project go so incredibly fast. They are pricey, but you might be able to rent one or borrow one.

It has a bit of a learning curve - there is a lot of paint loading, getting the air out, priming the pump, and troubleshooting throughout. But it really is a game changer for a project like this one.

We used two gallons of Behr Exterior Satin paint in Simply White by Benjamin Moore and a quart of the black. I can't remember the name of the black but I think it's something standard by Behr.

We debated priming but decided to just go for it without it. This is a playhouse, not Pinterest. It doesn't need to be perfect and we really wanted this project to go as fast as possible since we were racing against the weather and naptime. We just sprayed white paint all over the interior and exterior, on the already assembled play set (we did remove the swings, door, and rock climbing holds - on the back, not pictured).  It didn't matter than some paint got on the grass because it will grow and get mowed, and the slide we kept yellow and I didn't care about the over spray there. We only did one coat of white and it took almost exactly two gallons for interior and exterior. Once that was dry Daniel hand painted the roof in black and I did the windows with a small brush.

This playset is literally the playset of my dreams and I can't believe we got it for free. The total cost for us was about $72 - just the cost of paint. While not very much money, the difference it makes it absolutely incredible. Hopefully this inspires someone to scour Craigslist and OfferUp to find a great deal and then refinish it inexpensively. The hours of outside play and entertainment this has already provided has been well worth it. And the summer is only just beginning.

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Trey likes to come up to this window and pretend play. He'll ask me, "Mama order a coffee? Mama order a taco?" Yes please to both.

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So happy with this! We're calling it Trey's second birthday gift - just a few weeks early. This will be a gift that literally keeps on giving.

ON GETTING AWAY

A few days ago I polled Instagram on what's the thing that's helped you the most in motherhood, and the responses were great. Not one single product was mentioned, but all the non-tangibles and little (big) things. Among them: grandparents, perspective, grace, coffee, alcohol, a good babysitter, friends, self-care, and time away. It took me a long time to realize that last one but after our trip last weekend I am a big believer.

Daniel planned this trip and it was his idea. Last year we attempted a 2 night getaway and Trey was too young, it was too soon, and I wasn't ready. I was kind of expecting the same thing on this trip, but agreed to go anyways. I know it's good for me to get away and I wanted to, it's just also really hard for me to leave Trey.

This trip was night and day from last time. The resort was incredible. A boutique, luxury resort in Scottsdale, Arizona and I think it might be my favorite place we've ever stayed. (Not sponsored at all, just sharing.) The design is mid-century modern and the concept is little bungalows all over a sunny, warm, resort nestled near Old Town Scottsdale with mountain views. We absolutely loved it.

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I think the biggest realization for me on the trip was: baby/toddler/kid life is demanding. These years take A LOT of resources - time, energy, money, etc. But they are not forever. In the midst of the day to day craziness that is raising small children you think they will, but this pace of life will someday feel slower. When we retire yes, but also when we're empty nesters, and even when we're at the elementary age, we won't be parenting as intensely as we are during this time of life. It's chaotic and messy and crazy most days, but now that I've taken a step back to notice this, I can more fully fill myself up first. I think I gained the perspective that self-care is a THING. A real thing and a needed thing, and exponentially more so during these all-hands-on-deck years.

It was shocking to me the amount of noise and speed that is raising kids. I don't think it was so much the place (even though it was amazing) but just the time away to chat. To go whatever we wanted, to really pause and relax, to have time. That is the biggest scarcity element I think of my days right now and the kicker for me was that I realized: someday I will have more time.

I am trying to parent out of this new long-term mindset. I am trying to find pockets of rest and relaxation during my days, and right now, I have to be strategic about it. I have to find it/make it/get creative with it/put boundaries around it. I typically run at about 110% percent, like most moms, since we have a lot of roles and responsibilities that we keep spinning each day. But I'm slowly learning to also put myself on that list of importance things. What would fill me up today, what would I like to do? It can be hard as moms because we take care of so many needs that what we'd like often gets pushed so far back that we don't even know what it is that we need or want. Also, I think our culture values productivity and busyness, and when that's ingrained in you it's hard to get off that train. But I'm doing it. I'm getting off the train of de-valuing self-care. I placing myself on my priority list.

I think sometimes as a mom I've thought about things in pretty black and white terms. Can I both (fill in the blank) and be a good mom? Can I take a parents-only trip and love my child? Can I work and still love my child? Can I enjoy time away for a pedicure and still love my child? I think subconsciously I've thought I had to be this mom martyr, dying to myself all the time in the name of loving my child well. And I know now that while I fiercely love my child, I'm actually a better mom when I'm filled up first. It's the oxygen mask strategy. Our needs matter. What we do for ourselves matters. Not just matters, but is vital.

Part of it for me is that I get so much joy out of being with Trey. This is a great thing. But it does make it hard for me to leave him, for trips or even just a night out. I know these years go fast and I don't want to miss it. But I think there is also something to be said for doing them well and being able to do both - I can love my child well, and enjoy time away. Filling me up fills my family up. We take care of so many needs as moms. Let's make sure to also take care of ours.

DIY LA CROIX

La Croix is having a moment. It is everywhere. People (including myself) cannot get enough. When I realized both how much I was spending at Costco regarding this habit and how much the cans were piling up in the recycling, I thought, this can't be the best thing for my wallet or the environment.

I did a little research into it, and I realized the amount of cans I thought I was being so good about by recycling weren't actually doing the earth any favors (greenhouse gases, energy in production, toxic emissions, and so forth). Of course, in the question of recycling vs. not recycling, recycling is always better, but not having to recycle at all is best.

That, plus the trace amount of BPA were enough to make me look into other options.

So, enter DIY La Croix. I researched sparkling water machines and went with this one by Soda Stream. There are so many models, but I liked that this one doesn't plug into the wall and the reviews were good. There are other models that are automated for light to strong bubbles, but I like being able to control that myself. You can see a comparison chart here. This one isn't either the most expensive or the least. You can enjoy it as is, or if you miss the extra taste boost you can add these flavors essences - which, similarly to La Croix, have no added real or artificial sugar, just a slight flavor.

Cheers to your health and the environment!

Shared in partnership with Soda Stream.