Personal Share – When We Are At Our Best

As a family, we are at our best when we are working on projects together.  Whether it is projects for the house, projects for Emily, cleaning out the car – whatever it is, when we each have a hand in the outcome, that is where we really shine as a family.

Matt is a very talented wood worker.  Aside from making the fabulous 10 Second Bow Makers, he has made furniture, storage solutions, and countless other projects.

We moved into this house in December with our eyes wide open as to all the cool projects we could do here.  This house didn't need any work to it at all, nothing!  Which was a very nice change from our last house that always required work.  So we were excited to spend our free time working on fun projects – decor items, built in shelving, window seats with storage – we had a bazillion ideas for fun things.

Then his job happened.

You see, up until January, he primarily worked 24 hour shifts.  We met in paramedic school and both worked 24 hour shifts and LOVE them!  The average person would say we were nuts, but they are amazing.   You go to work, get your tail kicked for 24 hours and then head home and sleep.  Then be off for a couple of days before doing it again.  He normally worked 2 days a week.  Heaven!  Then he had to move to the awful 12 hour shifts.  Which means he is only home long enough to sleep and make a mess.  He has barely been here since January.  He is exhausted and burnt out.  After working on a ambulance for 22 years, and never facing burn out – the 12 hour shifts are what have done it.

That is the back story 🙂

Last weekend, we actually had 2 days with Matt.  Two entire days.  Other than our trip in May, this is the first time we have had two days off with him since January people!

While we knew we couldn't tackle a huge project, we were excited to do any kind of project.

We pulled out and dusted off our idea sheets that we created when we moved in and decided to create for the kitchen.  We have an open concept house, which we love – but no wall space in the kitchen, except for this little slice of heaven we couldn't wait to add decor to.  We are not the type of people who feel the need to fill every space, but this wall was begging to have some personality.

As a family, it was time to get to work deciding who would do which parts.  This wasn't hard to do… the wood working part went to Matt, the hand lettering went to me, the stencil creating went to Emily.

Some people never set their camera down and record every second of every project.  We used to be like that.  Until one day we realized we were either doing it wrong, or missing it all.  We were constantly stopping every few minutes to take a photo, which kinda felt fake.  Instead we decided to put the camera down and just enjoy our time together and create mental memories.  Different things work for different people, right?

We followed the measure twice, cut once method of table saw action after busting apart and old palette.

Here is what we started with:




The actual project was all his idea.  I have been collecting old graters over the past few months.  (Like I really should have a bumper sticker that says “I Brake For Antique Stores”!)  I knew I wanted them on the kitchen wall, but he felt there was something missing.

I knew I could get the brush stroke lettering for the bottom half of the palette, but there was no ways I could free hand the stencil lettering.

So what did Emily and I do?  We headed to the local craft store to find some stencils.  They were either too small, too big, or too ugly.

Then it hit me!   I have my original Bigz die alphabet from Stampin' Up!  I knew instantly that they would be the right size.

We got home and pulled them out, grabbed some card stock and Emily went to cranking them out.  She is a master die cutter and has always loved the Big Shot.

While she was die cutting, I started the lettering on the bottom half.

Then it was time to paint.  We took a long break to enjoy dinner together, and it was wonderful  We usually only get to eat dinner together one evening a week, and we treasure it.  There is no TV, no phones, nothing but talking and sharing and a lot of laughing.  Our conversation that night was all about what else we could create, the idea factory was open!

Then back to painting!

I finished my part at 9:30, well past Emily's bed time, but we let her stay up so that together we could all enjoy the finished outcome.

Matt got to work on hanging our work of art using the french cleat hanging system he prefers for many of our projects.

And then it was hung, we were done and we love it!

Here is our Grateful Wall:




While I love the way it looks, I love even more seeing each of our parts in it.  I love the way that Matt planned out the different tones in the wood – it was not by coincidence that they look perfectly arranged.  I love the little touches no one else will see, like the custom matched staining he did with vinegar and steel wool on the cut sides.  I love the perfect spacing of the die cut letter stencils that Emily did.  She cut them and laid them out for me to be able to paint later.  She took her time, did a great job and took pride in her work.  When I look at my Grateful Wall, I see the love, the laughter, the fun, the planning, the execution, the big reveal at the end.

This is what our family looks like when we are at our best.  We all had a part in creating something for our home that means something.  None of us look at the wall and only see the end result, we see the love and joy that went into it.

We have had some major blows in the last two weeks with Matt's work schedule, meaning that this awful schedule of his could continue for several more years.  For me, I am trying to hold on and capture these precious family moments whenever we can!

Thank you for letting me share this story with you.  This was by far, the best day of our entire summer!

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