Slow. Slow. Slow. Our progress on the boys’ sleeping loft is moving at a painfully slow pace. Working on the loft also means changing the bottom half of their room. This month the window company will be installing a window in the loft and then we can make progress a little faster – I hope.

Here is the current state of things:

We will trim out this hole entrance. It looks rough right now, but there is a plan!3.15loftfloor-002There will also be a railing up here, a window, a fire escape ladder, outlet covers…all the safe stuff before the boys move up here. Don’t worry!3.15loftfloor-003Chris told the boys they could write on the plywood flooring before he installed the laminate wood floor. I was cracking up reading all they wrote. I took pictures of it all – some of it I wish we didn’t have to cover up! It is always good to be reminded you should love your siblings even if they make you mad:)3.15loftfloor-005This little girl came back up to add one more thing…3.15loftfloor-0063.15loftfloor-0073.15loftfloor-0083.15loftfloor-009“When I am a teenager I hope I get the loft!” She’s already dreaming.3.15loftfloor-010

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  • Jenn - So sweet!

  • Emily - You have probably answered this before, but I can’t find it. Where did you get the fan in the lower room? Thanks!

  • Jenn - this is so wonderful. i love it all. some friends of ours is building a house and we are hoping to have a house blessing and writing bible verses on the floors. i have been wondering about your loft redo. can’t wait to continue seeing the progress

  • Jenny B. - So cool. I’m wondering if this could be a possibility in our house. We live in a neighborhood with a POA, though, and would have to get building permits and stuff. Were there any logistics like that you had to work though to make it happen?

  • Amy Cornwell - We wrote on the bottom of the laminate floor before we put it down in our old house. I love that someday, someone might get to see what the kids wrote. So special that you guys had the kids do that. Love the sentiment.

  • Carrie - LOL! Thanks, Firecracker. I needed that today. :)

  • christina - This is so sweet! Your boys are going to have a great time with that space. I would have loved a loft when I was a kid!

  • Erica Baker - I cannot wait to see the finished product. Such a fun idea. They are going to create some incredible memories up there. When we did construction at my church we wrote prayers on the subfloor so that people were literally always walking on prayers when they entered. Maybe you might want to sneak in a few prayers and scriptures for them to sleep on? I hope the rest of the construction process goes well!

  • Brittany Fry - That is so cool! I love what little Miss wrote. SO precious!

  • Sarah P - What a magical place for kids! Could you tell me where you got your flooring for the loft?

  • Diana - This is so awesome. And I love the floor writing. My parents let us do that on walls before hanging wall paper. I don’t think we got pictures of it though, it was years ago, before digital cameras. Now whenever my husband and I do a big project I always write our names and the date. Someone will find it someday!

  • Haley - This is so fun! I also love that you clarified about all of the safety stuff… but will you be keeping the saw up there?! :)

  • AshleyAnn - Sarah P – the flooring is from Lumber Liquidators

  • Angela - Awe- I love that you guys let them write on the plywood. What special memories that creates. Imagine someday if someone pulls up the laminate flooring and they find those drawings- it’ll make their day.

  • Anna Brown - Inspired by your painted bedroom floor and dreaming of a floor like this (out of my budget). I bought dark grey floor paint and covered the floor with it, then after a chat about the possible design I let my girls (5 and 8) have a go with light grey. It was nerve racking especially when my 5 year old decided she didn’t like what she had painted and tried to “rub it out” with more paint. I kept reminding myself that I love thier art work and it can be painted over anytime. I couldn’t be happier, it is thier room with thier individuality all over it. I love when we move furniture around that different parts I had forgotten about re appear.

  • amber - That girl! She reminds me so much of my own daughter:). And it totally freaks me out that she’s writing in full sentences, while my 5 year old son is barely writing his name when I can wrangle him away from sword fights, super hero battles & wrestling matches. Oh boys & girls…

  • Marsha - Ashley, surely you will print or have canvases made of those wonderful treasures hidden under the floor!?!?!

  • Cassidy - While I do love this post (teenage Firecracker with a loft bedroom is a trip for my imagination), my question is something totally different. When you first started blogging, which site did you use?

  • Heidi Jo the Artist - Love their drawings!

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  • Amy Cornwell - Fun stuff!! Love the sticker club idea. My daughter would get a kick out of that!

I have no idea how many books we own, but I am pretty sure my oldest son has read every appropriate book in our house at least 3 times. Biographies. History books. Autobiographies. Fiction. College textbooks. Chronicles of Narnia. Hardy Boys. Lord of the Rings. All he ever asks for is books. Books. Books. And more books.

I love the example he sets for his younger siblings. They constantly see him with a book in his hands, flipping pages, laughing to himself. We’ve delayed getting him any type of E-Reader because I am probably more old fashioned than most. Technology can also be confusing to younger siblings…is he playing a game? Is he reading?

Well, we hit a wall with books. Despite weekly visits to our small library, we just can’t keep up with his reading. Many of the books he wants to read are always checked out and we’d have to get a second mortgage to buy all he reads! So, for his birthday we introduced him to a Kindle and free e-book downloads from the public library (with parental controls and restrictions, of course). We both agree the Kindle isn’t the same as holding a real book, but it sure has a lot of benefits we are learning to appreciate.

I usually take a few portraits of the kids on or around their birthdays. It was a cold day and I could tell he wasn’t really in the mood for fixing his hair and posing for my camera, all he wanted was to be lost in a book. I asked if he minded if I took a minute and just captured HIM on his birthday, no posing, just the things I saw and wanted to remember. I stood in one place and gave myself a minute to really see. (Sidenote: he is usually very willing to let me photograph him because I rarely ask him to look at the camera or pose. I also don’t interrupt him. If you have older kids, maybe that will help you too.)

His hands with his new Kindle – such a marker of this time in history and technology…

3.15kindle-01The space heater….we will laugh seeing that in pictures one day. Of course, we could wear socks and pants and use blankets. One space heater doesn’t heat a house, but it is like a reminder of summer – we all like the feeling of that warm ‘sun’ on our legs:)

And feet that touch the ground.

3.15kindle-003And feet that don’t touch the ground nearby…3.15kindle-04And hands the same size as mine….3.15kindle-053.15kindle-06My oldest on his 11th birthday. Most likely I will look back and be more grateful I took these photos than a series of posed portraits (though I am still taking portraits when it gets warm!). When he turned ten it was hard…something about double digits. Eleven, on the other hand, it is just looking fun!

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  • Southern Gal - Happy birthday to your eldest baby!

  • Annelies - Happy birthday, he must be so excited for his present !
    Not trying to be snarky but I don’t think you need the space heater if you guys would just wear warm pants and socks ! :)

  • M. Miller - My oldest son is also 11 and is an avid reader. He has a Kindle, but really prefers to hold a real book so we spend a fortune on books. Since he’s such a good reader, I always have to read what he’s reading first – sometimes he can read things, but with his reading level we have to be cautious of content. We just finished reading The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flannagan and we both loved it, so much so that we were having bookmark wars – with both of us both reading the book at the same time and me trying hard to stay ahead of him!

  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - Happy birthday sweet boy! And Ashley, I’m thinking that adding a little pot bellied stove to your precious home would be the answer to your chilly days, not to mention they’re cute as pie. Your winters will never be the same again. We have a cast iron stove and honestly it’s the love of my life until May. Enjoy this birthday- they go by at warp speed as they get older!

  • Beth - Hi Ashley!

    Happy Birthday to your oldest!
    I just wanted to give a shout out to the interlibrary loan system we have where I live. My girl is like your oldest. We have found that we can request just about any book and it will be at our library in a matter of days. Maybe check to see if you have something similar. It’s also great for finding homeschool books!

  • AshleyAnn - Beth – we do have that too, but it still can take weeks!

  • Danielle - I have run into the problem of how much cheaper the ebooks are. I delayed buying them their own kindle because I thought they would not take care of it at 7&8 but now I have so many of their books for school of my kindle I think it will be a long wait until Christmas! It is so much fun to watch your family change and grow :) especially with two boys of my own. Happy birthday, I hope you can travel to many distant places and go on many adventures in this new year!

  • Debbie - What a great way to capture his birthday. I used to feel the same way about holding a real book until I was given my Nook for Mother’s Day. It really changed my world. There are so many free books you can download from Barnes and Noble and other sites. He will be blowing through books now. :)

  • Michelle - Happy Birthday Oldest brother!!
    You are a great example to your siblings and children everywhere. Keep reading and enjoy the journey these books take you to!

  • Heather - I will always love holding an actual book in my hand, but definitely appreciate having a Kindle now. I love that I can take multiple books with me and can easily borrow books without leaving the house. Seeing pictures of your son reminds me of myself – I always had a book in my hands when I was younger. I hope my children will do the same – they’re toddlers, but have a great love of books already. I think a love of reading is one of the best gifts you can give your children.

  • Emily - Happy Birthday, Biggest Brother!

  • susie - Tell him happy birthday from wyoming! My boy turns 12 in May- he reminds me of your boy- they are great! One more year till you can go elk hunting!That’s what ethan is waiting for! Tell your dad to bring you back to the bighorns to get an elk- they sure are good! Good thing they can get an elk at 12- they sure can eat lots of food!

  • Lauren Parks - Cute post! Can you tell where I can find those dining chairs?

  • AshleyAnn - Lauren – they are from Joss & Main

  • Emily - If he has not read Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga, it is amazing…about an oldest brother coming into his own with lots of adventure thrown in. It is written for kids, but the story and writing are adult-worthy!

  • Tiffany - To “Oldest Son” – Happy 11th Birthday! May your day be filled with lots of good reading and no chores! :-) My oldest will be 11 in 2 days, and he is slowly discovering the joy of reading. Would you have any suggestions on great books for him to read? He enjoys adventure and mystery-type books. We would love to hear your opinion on some great books (maybe your mom can do a blog post about “Great Boy Books”. :-)

  • Deb - Looking back fondly when my boys were that age -they are 31 now. Some books we loved were anything by Robert Elmer. and the Trailblazer series. I’ve saved all of them for my grandkids. Hopefully they’ll still enjoy reading from a book by the time they are old enough for them.

  • t - It would be awesome to see a big, long, wholesome book list for boys on your blog sometime! :)

  • Diana - I’ve been resisting a Kindle for a long time for the same reasons. I love holding actual books! But I’m at the same place…library can’t get my holds in fast enough!

  • Tiffany - My eldest turns 19 today. I will have to get a picture as well. btw. WHERE DID U GET THOSE CHAIRS, they are great.

  • Libbe - OK, I have to laugh at the photo of the kids’ feet not reaching the floor under the table. Your dog has this look of longing for food on the floor, but there isn’t any. LOL!

  • Jenny B. - So sweet! My ten-year-old saved his birthday money for a couple of years and bought himself a Kindle Paperwhite last summer. :) I recently signed him up for a Kindle FreeTime Unlimited subscription, and that has been great. I think it’s only $3/month, and he has access to a lot of books. Many are geared toward younger kids, but he’s never had trouble finding something he wanted to read, and has even read a few chapter books aloud to his younger brother (who can’t wait to save up his own money so he can buy one too). :)

  • RaD - Eleven was easier on me too, but I have no idea why. I now have a teenager (just a week in) and it seems to be okay saying that. That term is finding its place in my mind and in my heart.

  • Amy C - Great pics! My 11 yo son is also an avid reader. I was just bringing up the e-reader to my husband a few days ago. I’m not quite sure I’m ready. LOL! We do spend a fortune on books and we’re funning out of room. But I like that they’re surrounded by books and that his books get saved for his younger brother to read if he chooses to. He also reads ahead for his monthly book reports, so I keep thinking that having the physical book to flip through on those projects is nice to have. I’d be interested in an update in a few weeks on how it’s going. Thanks!