Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Monthly Budget Breakdown ~ August 2014

In an effort to challenge my contentment meter and stay within a budget,
I have $50 per month to spend on Decor & DIY projects for around the house. 
On the first Tuesday of every month I'll show you how I spent it 

Here is the monthly break down for August...

Starting Balance = $29.11 (you can check out here to see what was spent in July.)
Income: August $50 + Starting Balance = $79.11 left to spend

Some DIY/decor projects were completed this month. Some that cost me money and some that were completely free! First up, I styled our bookshelves in a new way and it didn't cost me a cent.


I may or may not have budgeted correctly for back to school supplies but we won't talk about that now. That came out of a nice little budgeting category that we like to call "misc." (AKA - the things that I forget to budget for.)


I was finally able to bring some order to the the kids' shoes. This was another project that cost me zero since I used some supplies I already had on hand. Those kind of projects are the best!


That just leaves us with the bathroom window project that I recently completed. The materials to put film on the window cost $29.57. That includes supplies to film many more windows if needed.


Here are the final totals for the month.

Final Breakdown...
Beginning Balance $79.11 - $29.57 (August purchases) = $49.54

Did you tackle any home projects in August? I keep telling myself to get out there and spray paint something before the weather changes and it is too late. :-)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Documenting Our Adoption Story

Last week we sat down in the stillness of our home to document our adoption story. Ryan, our friend (and extremely talented guy at capturing stories on film) was there to walk us through the process. 


We had been asked to tell our story a few years ago but the timing didn't seem right. I also didn't want to become a complete puddle of tears in front of complete strangers. Even now I wasn't sure that I would be able to tell the story clearly. A decade of memories and...

the pain is still so raw...

the miracles continue to inspire my faith...

and the end result...always feels like a dream. 

Yet Sam and I both agree that the purpose of sharing our story goes beyond simply documenting it for our family. Our dream is that others will consider being involved with adoption or foster care without having to go through loss to have their eyes opened to the need and loss of others. 

As a young adult, I was never against adoption. 

I simply didn't know anything about it.

Growing up I really only learned about the birds and the bees for family growth. No one ever taught me about international adoption, domestic adoption, or foster-to-adopt adoption. From culture and the few stories that I heard around me, I had concluded that adoption was too difficult and way too expensive. 

No one had told me just how beautiful it could be.

So I write to share little glimpses into the life of an adoptive family. 


In a couple months I hope to share with you the finished product of our story. Of course it will never really be "finished" per se. With each new day that goes by another part of the story is written.


Did you grow up learning about adoption? What are the first thoughts that come to mind when you here the word adoption?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Privacy Film in El Bano

Last November we remodeled our main level bathroom. And since last November we have had a one of a kind "designer" curtain hanging in the window. It was designed and created by none other than...my dad. 

Thriftiness and perfection all rolled into one stellar paper towel curtain! 

That's right, paper towel. :-)


When we remodeled the bathroom I liked the fresh, airy look of the new window and didn't want to close it off or darken it with shades or curtains. The only problem is that the bathroom window sits directly next to our patio table and street. 

No biggie.

Ok, big biggie.


The paper towel curtain has been our stand in until the weather warmed up outside. I had decided that I wanted to put some film on the window that would still let the light in but give us the privacy that we needed. No matter how hard I tried to make this bathroom inviting for our guests, without some privacy on the window I'm pretty sure no one would be wanting to use this space.


The reason why we held off on the project is because the temperature outside needs to be warm enough to secure the film successfully on the inside. I'll add in that we also ran into some major moisture problems with our new window this winter. 

Exhibit A


Exhibit B


That would be ice on the INSIDE of the window. To keep this post short I won't go into details but needless to say I'm not sure that my current solution to film the window will make it past this coming winter if this problem persists. Only time will tell.

To get going on this project I picked up a few supplies from Home Depot.


The window film came in a really large roll that gave me more than enough film for this single window. (Spoiler alert: I'm already considering filming another bathroom window upstairs because it turned out so great.) The kit was convenient because it had the tools and spray that I needed. However you could DIY the spray and use tools you already have at home if you didn't want to buy the kit. All of the supplies together cost me less than $30 and I am set to continue filming any and all windows that come in my path! (Sam will probably prevent me from taking it too far though...maybe.)

For step by step instructions I followed John & Sherry's super helpful post here

I would recommend two people working on this together. It goes quickly but can be quite frustrating to pull the film away from the backing and line it up and cut it with only one set of hands. Sam quickly came to my rescue as I was mid-project.

Also, having more than enough "extra" film on the sides only makes it harder to lay and cut. So you really only need an inch-ish, like mentioned in the above tutorial.

installing privacy film in the bathroom window

I was actually surprised at how much lighter the room was compared to before. The paper towel curtains were nice but this sunnier look has me thrilled that we completed the project.

adding privacy film in a bathroom window

Have you ever put privacy film on one of your windows or considered doing it? 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Join Me For Coffee @ Groundswell

Ya'll know that I love chatting with friends over a warm drink. In fact, many times I have wished that there was a way to put faces to names. Since the very beginning of this blog I considered doing a local "meet up" but always thought...

"Will people think that is weird?" 

"What will we talk about?"

"Will there be awkward silence?"

"Would anyone come?"

Sometimes you just need a reason to do something that you have always wanted to do.

So I found a reason...let's talk about my new favorite thing, essential oils. It gives us something to talk about, a reason to leave the house and hangout with other ladies and ya'll their coffee bar is WAY better than mine. :-) 

join me for coffee @ Groundswell

I think you will find the class really helpful and I'll let you know some great ways that you can get started using the oils.

If you don't live in the Twin Cities, no worries. I have a surprise for you too coming soon. We may or may not have filmed a class so that you can learn about these crazy oils too. As far as meeting up and seeing if there are awkward silences, well...I'll be sharing more about some upcoming opportunities that involve getting together and talking about other topics that are near and dear to my heart. More on that soon!

RSVP - You don't need to sign up, (I know sometimes I never know what my final plans are until the date gets closer) however it would help me grab enough seats if you let me know that you might be coming. You can shoot me over an email at aninvitinghome@gmail.com and my little planner's heart will skip a beat. 

Let the countdown begin...I can't wait to meet YOU!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Why I'm Celebrating My First "First Day of Kindergarten"

It seems unlikely that I've never sent a child to their first day of kindergarten given the fact that this fall we have one child going into 4th grade, one going into 3rd and TWO going into kindergarten. However, two and a half years ago our three oldest children came to live with us and school was in full swing. I was "initiated," so to speak, into what it's like to have kids in school without ever getting to start at the beginning. Kind of like jumping into a game that's already going without knowing all the rules...which led to some funny stories

Now we are gearing up for "back to school" and for the very first time we are sending not one but two children to kindergarten. Just making sure that they are all clothed, supplied and prepped for this experience has taken its toll. I've tried to make it a pleasant experience and yet my house is layered with school supplies and I only have a few hours to track down extra pillows and blankets to send along with these cute kindergarteners.

Can I be honest? Two and a half years ago when our family grew I saw this as a major milestone that was a "long way off." The thought of having our "twins" begin school seemed so far away that I wondered if we would all make it there alive!  :-)


Right before this picture was taken our family consisted of a one and almost three year old. At that point I thought parenting toddlers was a mystery. Did I have any clue what it would be like for two three year olds to become siblings? That is one giant, NO! That first year following our adoption was not only difficult but life transforming. I was determined to not just survive but to thrive! Sometimes thriving looked like everyone brushing their teeth that day or going 10 minutes without breaking up an argument instead of 5.

Now these two are off to kindergarten today. As in right now, this present moment, this is the DAY!


Ya'll...WE ARE GOING TO CELEBRATE! As in mom planned out a new recipe to cook tonight (something that hasn't happened in 2.5 years...I kid you not!) and there are treats in the freezer. 

I know that there will be tears as I get ready to walk them into school for the first time. I'm sure they will be fine...I will be the one crying! They couldn't be more excited about what is to come. 

Perhaps some of you find yourselves in the same boat this year. You are packing up your babies and sending them off into the great big world.

Here is why I think we should ALL celebrate!

1) We survived those crazy, middle of the night/how do I do this?/everything is new/I haven't slept in months infant years. I still remember typing the words "small, crusty flakes on infants head...cancer?" into google late one night. No one had ever mentioned the words "cradle cap" to me before.

2) Those terrible twos...you ROCKED them! So much so that you vaguely remember what took place during that crazy year. If you were like me, you sat your child down on the potty on their second birthday and declared TODAY IS THE DAY THAT YOU WILL BE POTTY TRAINED! Only to give up 1.2 days later when you decided that the whole when they are ready method sounded completely and utterly delightful.

3) Your darling made it to age 3 and you have taught them well, trained them in vast knowledge and truth. At this point they may be potty trained or they may not...you don't really care. Instead you run after your fearless little one where every interaction is a teachable moment. You've also discovered that while no longer having to buy diapers seemed like gaining an extra paycheck each month, you now feel slightly disappointed that your date nights still include red box and microwave popcorn due to the rising cost of pull-ups for the overnights.

4) Year 4...preschool! You get to take a shower again. Year 4.3...the lady at the grocery store tells you to enjoy every moment and you smile and nod and learn how to be polite in ALL circumstances. Year 4.5...you see an old picture on facebook of your little darlings and can't believe how quickly the time has gone. Year 4.7 you start brainstorming how you can freeze this moment in time and keep them little forever. Year 4.9 you start counting down the months until you launch them into the world. Year 4.95 you count down the weeks. Year 4.98 you count down the hours.

5) Then they are five and you can't believe how big they have gotten! You cry and cry and cry and feel like you started all the way back at the beginning again. Only this time you are stepping into new territory. You begin asking a whole new set of questions and experiencing a whole set of new unknowns. My only advice is to make sure you have the school's phone number on speed dial.

Let's celebrate! You SURVIVED, ROCKED, TAUGHT, ENJOYED and LAUNCHED a human being into this very moment! Embrace it with every single emotion that it brings. You have done well, dear momma...you have done WELL!

The BEST is yet to come!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Shopping For Kids Shoes In Your Home

With five kids living in this house it means that at any moment one of them is bound to say, "mom, my shoes don't fit." Thankfully with hand-me-downs from siblings and bags of used clothes that we receive from friends we have been able to address the situation...most of the time. When I can't find a size that I'm looking for at home, I'll go to option B: swing by the thrift store. If that was unsuccessful then I move on to option C: Tar-jay.  

There was only one major problem with this system. Our hand me down shoes were in complete chaos. They were in bags and nooks and crannies throughout the house. After getting all the way to option C and bringing home full priced shoes for two of our crew I discovered that we already had the exact sizes we needed! The shoes were hidden in a bag out of sight. 

So one afternoon I tackled the problem and now have a solution to shop for kids shoes in our home ...without going crazy

My mission is to stay sane through my thirties!

shopping for kids shoes in your home

I've showed you our storage room before. Storage like this can be a blessing or a curse. It can become a well organized use of space or a catch all for everything that you don't know what to do with. In our case it is a mix.

organizing kids shoes

A while back I organized the toys in our family room. At the time I purchased some extra plastic bins from the Dollar Tree to have on hand for when the inevitable happened...the toy bins broke. Interestingly enough the bins have lasted and I haven't had to dig into the reserve. 

At some point we also decided to cut back on the number of toy bins that were in the family room. We were swimming in toys and I was determined that the kids could be more creative by finding sticks outside to play with. Plus there really is something to that whole rotating toys thing and kids staying interested. 

I've also been trying to remove items from our storage room that really aren't beneficial to hold on to. A little motivation to have a working shoe system (and save money by not buying shoes we already have) and suddenly I was clearing shelves and pulling down the pile of extra bins to create a system that left me breathing a breath of fresh air.

storing kids shoes in your home

I went for the quickest and easiest label making route. An index card, a sharpie, and good ol' scotch tape. Just like I did with storing our kids' clothing, I created labels that can easily be replaced as the kids grow.

using bins to store kids shoes

I also cleared off a shelf just for boots...a must have when living in Minnesota.

using bins to store kids shoes and boots

Now I can visually see exactly what sizes we have.

storing kids shoes

I'm pretty thrilled with the results. It was also great getting to use items that we already had on hand which made this project super thrifty & super handy.

How do you deal with the chaos of kids shoes? 

Sharing this at:
I Heart Organizing, Living Well Spending Less

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Our Serenity Filled Road Trip

This weekend was a bit of a whirlwind. We attended a picnic on Saturday and then jumped in the van with our crew to drive four hours to a wedding reception. We were packing up our van for the adventure, sleeping bags and all, since we were also going to be staying four nights to visit friends and family. 

I packed my essential oils along for the ride and somehow remembered to grab a bag of cotton balls to throw into the van. I had heard that you could put a few drops of essential oils on a cotton ball and then put the cotton ball half-way into your air vent to diffuse the scent into the air.

This could come in handy, especially on road trips. I decided to try out a blend that was new to me called, serenity. Doterra calls it their, "calming blend."

Can I purchase it by the gallon?!?!

It contains lavender, sweet marjoram, roman chamomile, ylang ylang, sandalwood and vanilla bean extract.


We hopped in our van to begin our road trip and I put a few drops on a cotton ball.


I then stuck the cotton ball into the air vent.


It was only after I started diffusing it that I realized this might not be a good thing for the driver. I mean we did want to arrive safely to our destination all in ONE piece. Sam however assured me that he was ok as he was armed with a caffeinated beverage and was planning on practicing Portuguese on the drive using some cds. All the more reason for me to try to take a nap. ;-)

All I remember after that is waking up a while later and turning around to see that four of the five kids had been napping right along with me. I turned to Sam and said, "we've got to try this again!" Then I gave him a few drops of peppermint to put on his neck just to make sure that he was still extra alert. 

We drive home on Wednesday and I'll be continuing my research. Any guesses on what I will be diffusing? ;-)
Our Serenity Filled Road Trip doTERRA

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