Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Close Quarters :: Our 3-Kid Bedroom


Back in March, I got an email from a lovely magazine editor. She wanted to feature my kitchen in a magazine.

What???!

That's what I said, too.

I had immense trouble wrapping my brain around it at first. It caused great philosophical and existential dissonance within, because we moved here to simplify and scale back. We moved to the weird part of town, for Pete's sake. And now this?? It all seemed very backwards. (I should be used to that by now.)

It was fun sharing my kitchen with all of you, but good grief, if I had known magazine people were watching, I would have at least organized the bread basket.

In the end, we decided why the heck not.

The editor and I emailed back and forth a few times. And then she asked for more pictures. She wanted to see the living room and the dining room. The entry way. You know, normal places in a normal house. I complied.

A few weeks later, she asked to see the bedrooms. As in, the rooms with next-to-nothing on the walls. The messy rooms. The bedroom that my 3 kids share. The crazy places.

I explained that nothing was really happening up there, but she said she really just wanted to see the bones. She suggested that I find matching quilts for the twin beds and said we could pretend that Silas didn't live in there, but in a different, undisclosed room.

I totally understood that she was doing her job, but matching quilts don't live here. Nothing "matches" in this hood and there was no way I was going to go buy matchy stuff for a maybe-opportunity. The thought of me presenting a matchy house made my wheels screech off the rails.

As for Silas? He lives in there, man. In all his dramatic glory and with the evidence of much wall-scribbling. I explained that it's important to always present my life with authenticity and that I wasn't comfortable pretending anything. She emailed back with so much kindness and said she understood. "Send the pics."

I tore around this place and grabbed some colorful odds-and-ends. I had no great "vision", it was more a matter of putting something together on the fly, without spending money. As luck would have it, I had just bought Ruby a quilt at Craft Weekend.

Here's the good news: I didn't have to move any furniture and the beds were already both gray, which helped. (Although we made the mistake last year of putting a coat of poly over Calvin's bed, turning his gray into a weird greenish/yellowish gray. Take heed.) The other good news: white walls. It made it all easier.

The dresser originally lived in Silas's first bedroom, back on the farm, back when everyone had his/her own room.

Seems like a lifetime ago.

My friend Holly gave me that round, metal piece for Christmas last year. She found it on the side of the road one day while she was running. And she gave it to me! I almost cried.

The lamps are cheapskates from Target.

Small maps used to live in the upstairs bathroom on the farm.
That turquoise trunk? I found it in the old cow pen at my parents' house. Hate me.

Plaid Throw :: $2 thrift store purchase eons ago originally intended for Calvin's old room.
Striped comforter :: $15 Target
Curtains :: Urban Outfitters - This is one of my favorite places to find curtains, throw rugs, and other quirky homegoods. Their clearance sections rocks!!

Best garage sale find EVER! I don't remember how much I paid. Maybe $50? It used to live in our old toy room.

The barn art also came from a garage sale ages ago for $1. It's an old 4-H project, hand stitched.

In the end, I'm sorry to say our home didn't pass muster. I never heard back from the editor. It was a tiny bummer, at first. But it's also just really okay.

Because whether we're in a magazine or not, I love my home. I love that it represents who we are. I love that we don't try too hard around here. I love the people who live with me.

The bedroom has evolved a bit since these original pics were taken.


We added Ruby's collage wall and switched out the art above her bed because the horse means a whole lot more to her.

Calvin's collage wall grew...

 
And he made room for his "My Collection" shoe box. (I'm sure you can imagine the contents of said box.)


Silas is still sleeping in a toddler bed. He's small, okay?
But he is, in fact, growing. It's probably time to figure out a new plan, but we're a bit land-locked. We're contemplating bunk beds, though the floor plan makes that tricky.
(Note to self: Vacuum under Siley's bed.)


We hung the Ethiopian bird mobile, because it makes us all happy. Especially Ruby, our resident Bird Girl.

I'm not gonna lie, there is often considerable angst happening upstairs around bedtime. In a perfect world, Silas goes down first and is asleep before the other two go up. This usually works well.

When they all 3 go down together it typically spirals into dancing, yelling, fighting, wailing, whining, and occasionally, mooning. On those nights, we split them up and send someone into our room.

I wish I could say we're perfect parents with perfect kids who all behave perfectly and whisper poems to each other and softly sing hymns while they drift off to sleep. But we're rowdy. Impatient. We fancy entertaining each other at the worst possible times.

We're messy and disorganized and the kids are happiest together when they're doing things like this:

I'm not sure what this was called, but they sure had fun.

This is how we roll right now. I've gotta say, it does my heart good knowing they're all tucked in there together. There's something so heart-pinching about the nights when things go smoothly. Sometimes one kiddo prays before bed. Sometimes we pray for the person on our right. Sometimes we say the Lord's Prayer together. Now and then, I whisper to Calvin and Ruby, asking them if they've talked to God during the day, because I want them to know it's not just a bedtime thing. It's not a task to check off and it doesn't have to happen at certain times or in certain places. They don't need to do it out loud and they don't need Mommy or Daddy with them to do it. I don't know where this particular thought came from, but it suddenly seems important.

Our routines aren't hard and fast. They aren't really even routines. This is our rhythm, and it fits us.

We kiss all 3 heads in a matter of just a few steps. And with any luck, we hear just  a few whispers and giggles before things quiet down for the night, because bedtime giggling has to be the official love letter of childhood and I don't want to be so rule-obsessed that I rob them of the wonder of living small together.


78 comments:

  1. I love your house because it's YOU! I'm glad you didn't go out and buy matching comforters!

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  2. I adore your authenticity. And that room? Perfection.

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    1. I absolutely agree! It's so real and so much YOU. Love it!

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  3. I like everything even the messy room. Typical kids room :). How many bedrooms do you have? I'm thinking when Ruby is older she will obviously want a little more privacy plus if your boys are typical they probably love some gross boy humor or will but this is exactly how I would do it for now too.

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    2. I was wondering the same thing. Is there another room for Ruby when she needs more privacy. :) Even though I know we have our "needs" and "wants" jumbled up!! :/ I love the eclectic room now! It is so cute!! :)

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    3. I know she is only 7 I meant for when she is a bit older. I started my period when I was 10 so I guess that is what I meant when I said privacy. I don't believe children have to have their own room. I grew up in a house with 7 people that was 1100 square feet. Yikes and I shared a room with my 2 sisters until I was 15 and my dad put a bedroom in the basement for me. My two brothers also shared a room. I think my sisters and I are best friends because of having shared a space.

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  4. Love it all...the room, the sentiments and all the love. Also the grey color of the headboard. I'm getting ready to paint mine and I'm contemplating colors. Care to share?

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  5. If only magazines were more willing to show real life vs. glossed over/matching quilts/ditch one your kids life. But, hey, you know you rock. Who needs some silly magazine anyway?

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  6. What a sweet room. I shared withy brother and sister for years, in our tiny, converted attic. In the summer we would fight for floor space next to the box fan, because, you know.. Attics get HOT. :) They will have such great memories in this room! And ps- thanks for sharing your recent thought. That is totally something I need to be asking my little!

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  7. You are my favorite... You are so real and I luv that I got to meet you....

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  8. That magazine is missing out. Their loss for sure.

    I adore your home and your heart. Oh, my kids rooms are most often disasters. Even after they've cleaned. I'm ok with that, for the most part.

    ~FringeGirl

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  9. Our 3 boys are all in a tiny room together right now- in our old house they had a bit larger room. 2 in bunk beds and the littlest (5) in a toddler bed. But, all 3 of them LOVE being together...when they're not fighting (ahem, I mean wrestling)!

    Also, our girls have the exact same Ethiopian bird mobile hanging in their room. :)

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  10. Favorite photo....the messy room! So real....not staged. We need more real.........real people.....real food.....real relationships. Thanks for sharing...........love your blog!

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  11. I love that you didn't just hide a kid.

    We're up to five in a bedroom, the baby is still in our room. I don't know where he will fit when he moves. Maybe we'll have to go with 'a generation ago it was normal for siblings to share beds'!

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  12. i LOVE it.
    every last bit.
    that power strip feels like home to me(my son has a thing for them, too).
    xo

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  13. For as long as I could remember, I shared a room with my sister until I went away for college. There were times she drove me crazy but I missed her when I went away to college. I didn't get my own room until I was 22 and renting an apartment and it took me several months to get used to sleeping in a room by myself. There's comfort in knowing there is someone else in the room with you while you are sleeping.

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  14. Oh Farmgirl. Just spent my coffeetime soaking up your lovely decor. Your kitchen is still the swooniest ever. And Siley's farmhouse room? Makes me want to board and batten something right this very minute.
    Please tell me you still have the playroom alphabet. Even if it's in a box, I need to know you are still in possession.
    Also, does Ruby still call you a smart sweetheart?
    I hope so.

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  15. Wow. My favorite picture is the last one. I think of my own three kiddos (who are all grown and on their on now). We got so much grief while they were growing up. Not only did they sleep in the same room, they slept in the same BED. I miss those days, but thanks to your post, it brought a little flicker of a sweet memory back to me.

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  16. Oh my goodness, my dear friend. Not all excited about the magazine, well yes I am, but I'm more over here laughing my head off. The round thingy that Holly found out running!!!!!! Story behind it! Scott and I were working one day in the shop, way back now, and he broke a mirror. He was all upset because the mirror was that round thingy, thing, in your house! So, he throws it on the back of the truck, with lordy knows what else and heads up Main St. I said to him, "Scott that round thingy just fell off in traffic." He's say's " I can't pull over there's to many cars, and I'll look stupid." I said " go around the block and I'll get out and pick it up." We did, an it was gone. hahahahahahahaha Flower Patch Farmgirl/ turns Citygirl, we shall never part in this life time.
    ~g~oxoxox

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    1. WHAT????! No wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy! hahahaha!
      Do you want it back??!

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    2. Nooooooooo, Scott is out of town and just got the message, and can't stop laughing. There is really more to the story on how that day was going, we both remember the day well.

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    3. Hahaha! I told Holly about it...she said she saw it on the street driving then went on a run later that evening and it was on the sidewalk, so she grabbed it. This is so funny! Small world. :)

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  17. Wow. My favorite picture is the last one. We got alot of grief when our three kiddos (2 boys and a girl) not only shared the same room, but the same BED (each had a room of their own, but wanted to be together). Thanks for bringing a little flicker of a sweet memory back to me.

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  18. Love it! The white walls really do make it all work so well. We're also land-locked in the little room our girls share so are thinking of doing a youth bed from ikea to save a few inches when our oldest outgrows her toddler bed.

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  19. Be a dear and PLEASE remind me in a few years to ask Leo if he talked to God during the day. I LOVE that you ask them that - not with expectation or judgment or guilt, but just encouragement and love. You're a good mom.

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  20. In a world where most people I know are "outgrowing their homes," I so appreciate this. We live in a small house (compared to our friends and most Americans), and honestly there are times I have gotten the green eyed monster about other people's big/lovely/decorated homes. My boys share a room. The almost 3 year old is still in a crib (because he has never tried to climb out) and the 4 year old is still in a toddler bed. LIke you we are trying to figure out the next bed phase because for us it will be the one that will have to last us the next decade(?). Anyway, I was really discouraged yesterday because my kids don't have a playroom, we cram everyone in our living room when we have guests, and so on but you have reminded me of what is important. I knew it - I just needed to be reminded.

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  21. when hannah's first brother came along we were renting a 2 bedroom. so we had a bed and a crib. then brother number 2 came and we went with bunk beds and a crib. then a mad scramble of a move found us in another 2 bedroom-only the room was s.m.a.l.l. but the house was really old and the ceilings really high so we did what any sane parents would do. put the bunk bed on stilts and voila! a triple bunk. then we went to look for a house to buy and by this point had learned that the Lord chose the exact times and places for man to live (Acts something) and sought His choice. we really wanted hannah at least to have her own room. everyone said she should get her own room-especially when she got older. But alas, because living on the street God picked was more important than 3 bedrooms, we now own a very old 2 bedroom with all 3 still in the same room. hannah is now 13. i dreamed of adding on a room/accessing the roof (attic?) before she went to high school. but being that she is now a freshman, and that has not happened, my new desire is to do something so that when she goes off to college she will have a place to come home to visit!? but maybe she won't mind being back in with her brothers again?
    boy do they fight i tell you, but i wouldn't trade the nights i hear them giggling or reading together. sleepovers can be interesting, but the boys have never complained about accommodating via a tent in the back yard! Being as we do not know another soul who lives this way i can't tell you how much joy reading about your 3 brought me.
    (and thank you for the 'talk to God during the day' important thought-so that i could pass that on to the boys as they shuffled off to school this morning.-double joy, double encouragement!)

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    1. Has the privacy ever been an issue? (I commented above, as "Unknown" that I have five kids in one room, and the oldest is a 12 year old girl now.) Just recently we've had the boys and girls dressing in there at separate times, that's all we've needed so far.

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    2. (this is the same melony-i just finally did something with my profile)

      we've definitely had to work at it. she shuts the door when she is changing/putting in her contacts etc. and the boys (now) know they can not enter when the door is shut. there have been a few screeches;

      "zeeeeeke the door was SHUT!!!"

      -but i wonder if that would also happen even with her own room?? she leaves for highschool before the boys even get up for elementary (3rd and 5th) -so it's not an issue then.

      she also has 'her side' and the boys have 'their side' and they have learned to respect each other's (imaginary line drawn plus bookshelf divided) space. when we all have to get ready together, someone uses the (one and only) bathroom to change while someone uses the bedroom and the third just waits his turn (my youngest boy is wanting privacy now too ;) )

      this was not what we planned, and i forget that it is a better plan at times. i can say that the mid-school/ teen years have been tough, and the sharing has actually been beneficial more than not. we have to deal with our emotions and work it out. if we want space to think we have to take a walk instead of sulk in our room (that goes for me too-and the walk has never failed me even if i spend the first half madder that i am having to take a walk on top of whatever i am also mad at.)

      it's that wonder of living small together that Shannon so beautifully illustrated and it has done wonders for all of us in a most glorious way!

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  22. Your home is beautiful and is definitely magazine-worthy. I had three sisters growing up. We always had a roomie because it was a small 3-bedroom, 1 bath house. But we wouldn't trade the memories for anything!

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  23. You can be in my magazine any day! You are perfect the way you are!!

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  24. you slay me. and i love it all. and our boys share a bedroom and they will FOREVER. Cause that is how we roll. xoxo

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  25. I would much rather see your home in a magazine than some that they do decide to publish. My house is a mishmash of inherited items that I would never part with, flea market/garage sale finds, furniture and art work that have been made by my dad, uncle, aunt, mom etc. The only thing that I really want right now is to get rid of my builder grade carpet (it is 7 years old and after 2 kids and a basset hound it is toast). Love your home, thanks so much for sharing it with us !

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  26. I love how real you are.. thanks for sharing! This sounds so much like my life right now. (:

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  27. "the wonder of living small together"

    further evidence that the glorious ms. berg's got nothin' on you.

    xoxo b

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  28. My little sister and I shared a bedroom up until I turned 12 (I think?) and I loved every single minute of it.

    Picking out our pink gingham quilts when Mom let us redecorate.

    Being bossy and telling her we should draw an imaginary line down the room and race to see who could clean their side up first. But kicking things to her side while she was frantically running about. Forgive me, Lord.

    Giggling and telling stories to each other even after the lights out.

    Taking turns feeding the fish in our tank.

    Deciding that 3 years old was getting up there and it was about time I shared the gospel with her via our "Beginner's Bible" and led her in the salvation prayer. :)

    They were wonderful years and I wouldn't trade them for anything! Especially now that she lives in another city. *tear*

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  29. I literally ordered that exact same striped comforter last night for my two year old!!

    Thank you for your honesty.

    I am so grateful for your words.

    ~Amber

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  30. You're kitchen still rocks even if it didn't make the magazine-- It's the front cover of my pinterest kitchen board : ) Atta girl for standing your ground on matching comforters and losing a kid! Love your blog and all your sweet pictures and words : )
    *Heather*

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  31. My two oldest (boy and a girl) shared a room for a few years when they were littles. The inability to match and color coordinate gave me agita, but the stories of wild nights and ghost stories and shared corners still give us all the giggles. Love that you shared this:)

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  32. Love the little peek into your kid's room, Shannan, but what I love the most about this post is that you didn't compromise yourself by going all matchy-matchy for the sake of some magazine. I shared a room with my three siblings for a while when we were kids - two sets of bunk beds in one little room. I only remember it being cozy, not inconvenient. Well done, you! xo

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  33. I love that they each have their own space within the room and yet it all just works together - and the fact that they can be themselves, express themselves, is something a photoshoot could not recreate. My favorite though is your whispers...

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  34. Thank you for sharing! We have three (under three). Our newest addition came to us quickly (23 days notice... via adoption like our other two.) When friends and family heard we were adopting a third baby, every one said: when are you getting a van and you'll have to move now! NOPE to both... our sedan is just fine and putting three of my lovies in one room is quite dreamy to me!

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    1. We drove for the first year of Silas with three car seats buckled into one bench back-seat. :) Yikes. It got a little sketchy. ;) But it worked!

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  35. This was meant for me today. We have 3 littles (9, 7, 2.5) in a 2 bedroom rental due to circumstances not unlike The Nester. The room that they share most often looks like the last picture you posted. And 95% of the time it frustrates me to no end. We have been in this house for 4.5 years and I'm not sure when we will be out of it. Some days I tell myself it's all good. I'm warm/cool, my bed is soft, my tummy is full, and my kiddos are healthy and happy. The other days, well, I'm sure you can guess what I'm telling myself...and God. So what a blessed moment when I read your post and was gently reminded that it really is All Good. Thank-you for being more committed to authentic living than to magazine pretend. It's good for my soul over here in PA Amish land.

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  36. Love that you didn't hide a kid. Love that you showed a "real" picture of the room too.

    Did you pick the maps up at any particular place? I want to put a few maps in frames around my home.

    PS- followed the link to the bathroom redo--puffy toilet seats ARE creepy. :)

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    1. I got a big shoe box of National Geographic maps on ebay years ago for $10!! Score.

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  37. Thanks for reminding me today that their giggles and their playfulness is such a wonderful part of childhood!

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  38. *love* You kids will have the best memories - and stories - of their time sharing a room. Not all will be happy, but they'll all get a chuckle, given enough time. :) p.s. My husband and I have those exact cheapo Target lamps in our bedroom.

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  39. I shared rooms with my brother until I was at least 10 or 11 and we loved it. All three of my girls shared rooms, always. My youngest is now 22 and living in NYC and she just now has her very own room. I think she really misses her sisters. And your home is perfect and the mess is perfect because you can truly sense a real life , with real happenings and real love!

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  40. When I was growing up there was 5 of us that shared a room.Not sure why,we did have more bedrooms.Maybe because of heating an extra bedroom in the winter?Lot's of good memories.....We played guessing games,sang,and giggled.And yes,occasionally Mom had to come upstairs and settle us down!

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  41. "Whisper poems to each other and softly sing hymns as they drift off to sleep" hahaha!!!! We grew up in super tight quarters.... for a couple years I shared a small room with my 2 brothers and sister. Jody and I had top bunk they shared bottom. After my parents added another bedroom onto the house and it was then just Jody and I in a room with our own bunk be, I would still sometimes crawl into her bed for secret telling and back scratches:) I truly believe my siblings and I are so close because of our "cozy" house growing up. Privacy can be refreshing and, of course, needed at times but friendships, childhood stories, and sibling bonds are made in a shared bedroom!

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  42. Giggling IS the love letter of childhood. Love that! Love the room, too. Nicely done.

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  43. So a couple months ago my husband and I were talking about our "next" house. This life makes us move every couple of years and the kids already ask if they're gonna be taking their legos with them when we leave this current house. I asked, "What if in the next house we take a smaller bedroom and give ALL the kids the master?" He liked the idea too. Now after reading this, I think I'm gonna be aiming for that to happen. We may even add another kid before the next house which will mean 5 to a room. Holy smokes that's alotta pj's every night.
    And thanks for the thought about asking if they talked to God elsewhere/at other times. Good word blogfriend, good word.

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  44. What a beautiful bedroom! My son would love the "beware of ninjas" picture.

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  45. I love the kiddo bedroom, and especially the shot of how it really looks! Looks just like the room my three-some share (only one sleeps on a piece of foam in the closet floor - definitely not magazine worthy).

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  46. This is my kind of decorating: making the most of what you DO have. That's how my husband and I have decorated our current place. Most of the items were handed to us from other's that no longer had use for it. And we found a way to coordinate all of it.

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  47. Love the way you see things and the way you write about them!! We have 3 boys, and they've always shared a bedroom, from the time the littlest outgrew the infant basket. I so TREASURE the priceless bedtime conversations that we've heard coming from their room at night! One space saver we had for the three of them was a triple-decker bunk bed that my husband modified from two double bunk sets (we sold the extra bunk as a single). He cut the legs on the lowest bunk down to 2" or so, that made the highest bunk no higher than 6'. It worked great for years, even with a standard 8' ceiling. Now our guys are 14, 12, and 10, and they still share a room! They talk of having their own rooms one day, but it would be interesting to see if they would actually do it :)

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  48. I just looked back at your kitchen again, just for fun :) So pretty. And your kids' room is perfect! Thanks for sharing.

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  49. I have read your blog for awhile and I feel the need to let you know how thankful I am for your blog
    and the beautiful heart you have for Christ.
    Your home is lovely and inspiring in many ways.
    Also...thank you for all the book recommendations you have
    shared.....

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  50. Your candidness does my heart good... This is REAL life and love ... Blessings to you :)

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  51. The magazine has it all wrong. This is exactly the kind of home people would love to see-including the "real life" photo. Your home is beautiful, and I'm always so amazed at how wonderful it looks without you going out and buying everything that matches; and further impressed with your response about the matching quilts. That inspires in many ways.

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  52. I loved this post - and I love your 'real' house!! I always get itchy when I see a 'family' house that doesn't looked lived in!

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  53. I heart real life so your final picture brought joy to my morning! Thanks for sharing!

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  54. LOVE the way you put things together. You have a real genius. Particularly enjoyed your daughter's bedding. Is that a ballerina- print pillowcase I spied? I'll bet you sewed that. And the horse pic above--so perfect. And yes, I vote with everyone else. I would have loved to see your house in a magazine. The fact that I didn't, well maybe it helps explain why magazines in general are struggling.

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  55. This could easily have been about our kids' room! That picture of the messy room is our kids' room on a nightly basis. If our 2 and a half year old goes to bed in the bedroom with the older two, he gets into dresser drawers and throws clothes into baskets on the top shelf in the closet. My husband and I have to leave the room because we're stifling laughter! Thanks for sharing your kids' perfectly imperfect room. I was looking for ideas for replacing our two little ones' toddler beds, and this made me smile.

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  56. Love your spaces and how REFRESHING it would have been to see spaces like YOURS in that magazine!!
    marcy

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  57. Good for you - I hate seeing people's places in magazines (the rite of passage for home bloggers, no?) knowing half the stuff was brought in by the magazine stylists and that everything was moved around just for the pictures, and that the rooms don't really look like that. What is the point, then? Glad you stayed true to yourself.

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  58. The editor should have featured you all JUST based on your authenticity....YOU ROCK

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  59. This is lovely. I congratulate you on staying true to you. I love all of the art you added too!

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  60. I love this! We have three little girls in a little apartment bedroom and are currently figuring out how to get our fourth little one in there. We can totally relate. I think happiness and craziness go hand in hand when it comes to parenting.

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  61. I love your decorating style. It really reflects who you are and your family's tastes and values! Good for you!

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  62. what a beautiful design! Those two did a great job decorating such a small space. Looks like a very cozy little nest!

    Master Bathroom

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  63. You are soooo funny, I really do LOL!

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