Life in a Flash » capturing life one moment at a time.

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  • HELLO.

    I'm Jenn. I'm a full time mom to five. I love photography, Africa, crafts, thrifting, classical music, and this crazy good life God has given me. I spend my days dreaming up decorating solutions while picking Goldfish crackers out of my hair. I like my camera , guacamole, and old stuff. We've got three home grown littles and two who came to us through the miracle of adoption. We are loud and busy. I take lots of photos because I'm fully aware that life happens in a flash...and I don't want to miss it.

  • let’s be friends.

studio 74.

I don’t have a full reveal yet (still finishing up some remaining details that are taking awhile to come together)…but I WILL post more info on our new ART STUDIO when it is completely done.  (Plus some big girl photos from my actual camera!)

We were blessed with 2 extra bedrooms in the basement of our house when we moved in.  We didn’t necessarily need them, but it was great to have a guest room and a room designated as a play room.  The play room was grungy. Old brownish gold carpet, brown walls, and fluorescent lighting that hummed and flickered reminiscent of an interrogation room (could have come in handy with 5 kids I suppose).  When we moved in…we dumped all the toys and mismatched furniture into this room, closed the door, and called it good.  Over the course of the 2 years we’ve lived here, I’ve re-arranged and re-organized the room numerous times.  My kids went down there and dumped the toys fairly often but rarely really PLAYED in the play room.  If they wanted to really play…they brought the toys upstairs or spread them out in the downstairs family room.

We are a fairly crafty, artsy family and my kids LOVE to draw and paint.  We do this daily at our house and as much as I LOVE seeing them create…I can’t stand the mess it leaves all over our kitchen.  As soon as they are busy and involved in a project…it’s time to clear the table for dinner.

So I decided to ditch the under-used play room in lieu of an art studio where the kids could get messy and CREATE!  We also needed an out of the way place for Danny to do his therapy.  We are getting ready to embark on big changes in his therapy (40 hours per week is looking likely) and this was another way to have a special spot for him to work and play!

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Studio 74 was born!  I started by compiling the pieces I knew I wanted in the room: the giant green toy cart, the white cubbies, the antique kid table and chairs, and the wood and metal bookcases.  All of these items were already being utilized downstairs so there was no cost incurred there.  The toy cart was a BEAST to paint the first time years ago so I decided to embrace my laziness and accent with green.  When I found the outdoor rug at TJ Maxx in the perfect shade of green and the clearance Target canvas cubbies…I knew I was in business!  After much deliberation we decided to move our kitchen table down (it has not held up as well as we anticipated and was not large enough for family dinners anyways).  I scored some awesome Target stools on clearance and bought out the Lincoln stores!  Now if our new kitchen table would come (it was back ordered) we could move the picnic table out of our kitchen!

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Our first plan was to rip out the carpet and stain the concrete.  But when we pulled the carpet the pad was GLUED down and the concrete was not in great shape.  I priced out laminate and vinyl planks and they were just too pricey!  So I headed to Menards for sheet vinyl in classic checkerboard.  We still need to trim back and tack down the carpet in the closet and hallway (as you can see in the above photo!)  The laminate went down fairly easily (it is a floating floor) and we just added shoe trim to keep it in place.  I painted the entire room Creamy White (are you sick of me saying that yet?) including the trim and walls.  Our painter is spraying the basement windows next week!

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I knew we needed a spot to coral all of the kids’ amazing creations.  Mr. P knocked out these simple art ledges, we painted them white, and I collected cheap Hobby Lobby frames to showcase their artwork.  The ledges are 10 feet long…that’s a lot of art!

I had a lot of fun collecting containers throughout the house and organizing all of our supplies.  The crib springs and numbered wooden cubby came from a local flea market.  And the white shelves were a Target clearance find.  Everything else we had on hand.  It’s a bit quirky…and a bit random but I love it and hope to spend a lot of time down there!

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That oil painting is an oldie but goodie made by my dad.  Love, love, love it!

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The walk in closet is full of all of the girls’ American Girl paraphernalia and such.  And some of our well loved books are in the room for inspiration.  The bins on the toy cart hold commonly played with toys like Legos, matchbox cars, and play food.  All of Danny’s therapy toys and games are organized in cheap Sterlite containers on the other side of the room.  I ransacked my fabric collection and whipped up 5 simple aprons to use for messy projects and hung them on a hook nearby!

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 I promise to show better quality photos soon.  I don’t think I’ve ever had this much fun constructing a room.  It is definitely my newest happy place and I can’t wait to really get it messy with the kids.  I know it will be used heavily with my own kids, their friends, and for our monthly Scripture Smash meetings.  I’m even contemplating some kid’s crafting classes!

July 9, 2014 - 7:49 am

Jessica/littlepumpkingrace - You had me at Studio 74! What a fun place to create! Love, love it!!

July 11, 2014 - 10:44 am

Julie B. - I adore this space (I have a special place in my heart for both art and lime green!). I’m sure lots of beautiful things will be created here :)

Sunshine turns 8.

Today was another big day at the Cooper house.  Sunshine turned 8!  She has been talking non-stop about her upcoming birthday and counting down the days until it arrived.  I have long since given up on the elaborate, perfectly planned festivities and embraced last minute Target character plates.  Whatever floats her boat.  Pink and purple Minnie Mouse won her over.  She requested chocolate cake, grilled hot dogs, and corn on the cob.  Actually…she preferred a party with the entire school…pony rides…expensive gifts…and the rainbow cake I tried to make last year that completely flopped.  But she was content with our little homegrown party just the same and Mimi and Baboo came over as well to help liven things up!

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Eight is a bit arbitrary as her age is our best conservative guesstimate.   But I still just can’t believe how many birthdays have passed and how quickly she is approaching big girl status.  Today she asked me how she could be 8 when she’s only had 2 birthdays and a sob caught in my throat.  At least 6 special days where she should have been celebrated and cherished went by completely unacknowledged.  And that’s a tragedy I can’t fix.  But I can celebrate her TODAY…give her a thousand birthday hugs and tuck her into bed with a promise to always be there for every birthday from here on out.

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The girls were especially excited to help us celebrate…picking up a “lifetime supply of mints and gum” and a little thrift store bunny secretly with their own money.  Danny spent the day reminding Sunshine “It’s your birfday!!  Sunshine was thrilled with her dolls, Legos, and princess pajamas and went to bed smiling!

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Sunshine…I hope today was a special day for you!  I hope it was full of smiles and laughter and that you felt our love to the very depths of your heart.  You are the life of the party and it is so FUN to celebrate you!  You’re the sprinkles on the cake…the cherry on the sundae…the rainbow after a storm.  You completed our family and filled in the missing pieces with your wide smile and silly jokes.  Thank you for trusting your heart to us.  We promise to always celebrate you!!!

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July 7, 2014 - 11:20 pm

Angel - The two birthdays comment caught in my throat too. Happy birthday precious girl!

July 7, 2014 - 11:29 pm

Jessica/littlepumpkingrace - Happy Birthday, sweet Helina! Your smile lights up a room!

The 2 birthday comment made me tear up. I’m thinking 1/2 year celebrations are in order…you know, to catch up *wink*.

beach bums.

I seem to have taken a very long vacation from blogging.  Which I remember saying just last month (or was it the month before?)  I am now responsible for the well being of these five small people every waking (and non-waking) moment of the day.   The constant activity, snacking, and incessant talking have left little time for me to come here and collect my thoughts.  Basically.  I have no thoughts from sheer exhaustion;)

So we went on vacation to the Outer Banks of NC once again this year.  Last year was…difficult.  Danny was at the perfect age for the perfect traveling/beach going storm and none of the grown ups weathered the storm without a few battle scars.  But this year he redeemed himself and was overjoyed with the beach…yelling into the waves “I’m in the water…I’m SO HEALTHY!!!”  And “The beach is FUN…cause I LIKE IT!!!”

We had a bit some a fair amount an obscene amount of trouble getting to our destination.  Boo on United for the many canceled flights.   We got stranded in Newark, NJ at 10pm without our luggage.  We rented an SUV and drove until 4am to a tiny town in Maryland…parked at Walmart to catch a nap…and Danny woke up screaming.  So we drove across the street to a hotel where we paid $160 for 4 hours of sleep.  Scratch that.  We paid $160 for everyone else to sleep while I tried to keep Destroyer Dan quiet and occupied in a hotel room with no toys and 5 snoring, exhausted people.

But we made it (eventually).  And the sand and sun were glorious!  And since we all enjoyed the water…we were all SO HEALTHY!!

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We saved our annual beach photos for the end of the trip which backfired when a sudden thunder storm cropped up.  Each year I get more and more relaxed about this little photo session.  As the clouds rolled in, I lined them up, screamed “SMILE LIKE YOU LOVE ME!!!” and snapped as quickly as I could while fat raindrops fell and the sky started lighting up with fire.

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I even got a photo with Mr. P which is a rare treat.

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Here’s the line up of my bathing beauties!

The Brainiac – Age 11

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Miss Middle – age 9

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Sunshine – age 7

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Super Sam – age 6

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Danny Boy – age 4

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My little tribe.  As the sun was setting over the water and I hung back (and couldn’t hear the complaining)…I was beyond thankful that God has given me these people to love.

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Here are a few more of my favorite shots from throughout the week.  The beach represents a special place for our family.  A time carved out from our every day to just be together.  To go slow.  To savor.

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I didn’t drive myself crazy with my camera this year….which meant fewer pictures and more relaxation.  I’ll share some of my phonography shots soon….but if you follow along on Instagram you’ve probably seen our vacation unfold already!

I hope to get back to this space more often to share about my little men growing up (two birthdays!) and some other fun projects happening around our house!

July 1, 2014 - 8:31 pm

Jessica/littlepumpkingrace - Such sweet pics! Great pic of you and Paul!! But oh my, that last pic! Sam looks so grown up!!!!! Where has the time gone??!

July 4, 2014 - 12:28 pm

tanya - miss your blog , but wow can’t imagine how busy! what a beautiful family you are truly blessed with. my heart grows every time i see them.. is that weird from a total stranger? i mean it in the most sincere way- you are inspirational. and by the way where the orange dress from? LOVE IT!! you look fabulous! xoxo’s tanya

master bath (hallelujah).

Minus a few small details (hanging some artwork and purchasing  a few little tidbits here and there)…we are calling the master bathroom DONE!  I’m not gonna lie…it was a loooong process.  We are sitting at over 10 weeks of renovation and that is just too long to be sharing a bathroom with 4 kids (The Brainiac has her own…lucky girl!)

We did a majority of the work ourselves with a few of the projects hired out (tile and plumbing the tub).  We were extremely happy with our tile artist.  He did a stellar job!  Our plumbers?  Well let’s just say that our house hasn’t quite recovered yet from their “professional” installation which ruined our music room ceiling!

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The room is a far cry from it’s ORIGINAL splendor.  There isn’t much that we kept…and I’m so glad to see it all gone!  We started with the hardwood-look tile floors which I absolutely love.  They are warm and rich looking but have all the convenience of tile.  They are textured and feel really great underfoot as well.  We used a medium brown grout and I love the look.  The walls got bead board paneling (I love this in bathrooms because it is so easy to wipe down and keep clean) and light navy walls above.  I deliberated over the wall color for entirely too long.  Eventually, I took the advice of our Little Artist who said “Go HIGH CONTRAST…you can never go wrong with contrast!”  In the end, she was totally right and I love the navy walls (they tie into the adjoining bedroom nicely too).

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The one piece we kept was the vanity.  It is solid wood and was in good working order so I couldn’t justify the expense of a new piece.  We primed and painted it and just reattached the existing hardware.   We did make it about 2 1/2 inches taller by building a box to sit on the top of the vanity.  Our house was built before the “taller vanity” craze and it was crazy low…this combined with a thick counter top slab raised the piece up about 4 inches!    We ordered Onyx counters in their thickest cut (1 1/2″) and waited about SEVEN weeks for them to come into the store (after the first attempt came in in the wrong finish).  Most of the fixtures are from Lowes or Home Depot with the exception of the lights which we ordered from Destination Lighting.

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Once we removed the mammoth corner tub I KNEW I wanted a soaker tub.  I’m not really a huge bath girl…but I loved the idea of the flooring running under the tub to create the illusion of a larger room.  Then I started pricing soaker tubs and was completely deflated.  There are some life saving dwindling tubs on the market!   We found this beauty IN STOCK at Menards and it’s petite size worked perfectly in our space!  I also knew I had to have a chandelier over the tub and wanted something a little different.  I first saw this World Market wooden bead chandelier on Pinterest.  When I learned it had been clearanced out at the store and then discontinued, I became completely obsessed.  Through some sleuthing and researching….I found one in Wichita.  Then I bribed my sister with yarn art to drive and pick it up for me.  Victory was mine!

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We hung some hooks close to the shower for towels (our old bath didn’t boast ONE SINGLE towel bar).   I think I brought home 1328 towels before I found some that coordinated with the navy walls.  I’ve ordered another feather print from www.art.com for the space next to the towel bar…should arrive any day! {our bedroom is Crazytown gold…must.paint.right.away}

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We had our painter friend spray our french doors for us as I just couldn’t bring myself to deal with all the individual window pains.  We have yet to come up with a solution for the doors….sheers?  Frosted glass?  Take our chances?  The linen closet is to the right of the french doors.  Our entire house has solid pine doors.  I say “paint them white”.  Mr. P says “not on your life”.   I hate to admit that I love the contrast they bring (and how they tie in the floor) in this room.   (Praying he doesn’t read this post).

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All the plumbing fixtures were ordered online from Home Depot.  One of the faucets came completely ruined…it had previously been installed and then ripped out of another space.  It even same complete with a mess of plumbers putty coating it…so back to the store it went!

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The gold etagere was purchased at a local antique/thrift store.  I saw it and was immediately intrigued.  It was just the perfect size and I was so happy it was still there when I went back for it.  If you follow along on Instagram, you’ll remember that I debated painting it.  But in the end…the gold won my heart.  I did coat it with Rub ‘n Buff to tone down the gold and age it a bit.  It warms up the space and gives the room that collected, vintage feel.  At least that was the hope!  I had fun accessorizing it with some succulents, travel shampoos, soaps, and towels.

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Every new space should have a live plant!

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The toilet room is nearly impossible to photograph.  But it is now white and clean and fresh!  I still have a pair of little bird prints (in aged gold frames) to hang above the toilet.  And Mom…yes….I will take the tag off that basket eventually;)

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The shower is a mixture of white subway tile (Home Depot) and a marble mosaic tile (Lowes).  It is the same size as our previous shower but feel infinitely larger without the plastic surround and heavy gold framed door!

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{I really wish I could hold the camera straight!}

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Overall, I think the space turned out just as I imagined!  It definitely showcases my style (whatever that is) and I am SO HAPPY to be brushing my teeth without the help of 4 little ones!

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Sources:

Wood tile floor:  Marazzi Montagna Gunstock porcelain tile from Home Depot

Wall paint: Sherwin Williams Smoky Blue 7604

Bead board:  Sherwin William’s Creamy White 7012

Counter top:  Onyx 1 1/2″ matte finish in Blizzard from Lowes

Plumbing fixtures:  Moen Banbury in Mediterranean Bronze from Home Depot

Subway tile:  US Ceramic from Home Depot

Marble mosaic tile:  Allen and Roth at Lowes

Shower door: Dreamline 48″ Unidoor from Home Depot

Bathtub: Maax Sax freestanding tub from Menards

Chandelier: Discontinued from World Market (small version)

Vanity lighting:  Schoolhouse bathroom lights in bronze from Destination Lighting

Etagere:  Cool and Collected

Jute step stool:  Threshold at Target (found on clearance at our local store)

Toilet: Kohler at Home Depot

Soap dispensers:  Threshold at Target

Towels:  Discontinued Threshold at Target (found them on clearance at our local store)

Succulents and fern:  Home Depot (burlap bags from Aunt Patty’s Attic)

Assorted toiletries:  TJ Maxx and my store room closet

Towel hooks:  Threshold at Target

Art work:  Jurgen Gottschlagt at Target (also available by artist in other sizes and finishes at www.art.com)

May 14, 2014 - 12:45 pm

Kyndall Nixon - We are doing our master bath this summer and I may have to copy EVERYTHING! Love it!

May 14, 2014 - 1:02 pm

Kathryn - Your “Whatever-it-is” sense of style is *amazing* and your makeovers always amaze me. Thanks for sharing. SO fun to see the transformation.

May 14, 2014 - 1:04 pm

Kathryn - I just re-read my comment. I’m so “amazed” I couldn’t think of 2 different adjectives to use.

May 15, 2014 - 11:10 am

Julie B. - I absolutely love it, you did a heavenly job in there!! You might have to give yourself a spa day at home after all the hard work :)

May 15, 2014 - 4:27 pm

McKell S. - Wow! That looks amazing! I tried following you on Instagram because I love your projects but alas I’m not cool enough ;) I’m not scary, I promise!

May 15, 2014 - 7:59 pm

Kym - Always love seeing your transformations Jenn – especially your styling. Everything works so gorgeously (is that a word??) together. You make is seem effortless, though I know a lot of hard work went into it! Thanks for sharing. Just wish a few of these pieces were available in Australia!

May 15, 2014 - 8:51 pm

Aliceson - Your space looks amazing! I always love to look at your decorating style. You know how to make a place feel like home. :)

May 28, 2014 - 4:15 pm

Niina - Absolutely amazing transformation!

June 13, 2014 - 7:23 pm

Monica - What are the dimensions of your bathroom! I love it so much .. I am building a new home and want to base off your ideas!

on one year home.

I’m a couple of months late posting about Sunshine being home for a full year.  At first it was just a few weeks…but then as the weeks stretched on I felt inadequate at summing up all that this year has held for our family.  I don’t really know where to begin…except that this girl is a Cooper through and through.  She’s a fighter.  She’s a party thrower.  She’s a sassy pants, stretch my parenting, keep me on my knees kind of gal.  And I’ve got to say…she fits in just fine.

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It seems like ONE YEAR should hold some type of monumental occasion.   But instead…we went to Noodles as a family for dinner, told a few stories, and tucked our kids in bed the same that we do every night.  This girl likes to look forward and talk of the past makes for a jittery, slippery slope.  So we kept it light and happy and made sure she knew she is LOVED and WANTED.

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Some days I still watch her walk by and marvel at the events that have had to happen on different continents and in different hearts to make this girl mine.  There is so much pain and joy wrapped into her lanky frame that I sometimes wonder how it is that she doesn’t just explode from the pressure.  But God has given her so much grace and a confidence that can only come from Him.  It has been a joy to watch her grow and learn and come into her own.

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I’m not much of a planner.  I’ve never had a five year or ten year plan.  I’m feeling pretty good to just get through the day!  But I don’t think I ever could have envisioned this life God has given me and the children He used to make me a mother.  It has stretched me and shaped me…and although I’m often sore from the tugging and pulling…I’m filled to the brim with a joy that only comes from Him.

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Sunshine,

I hope you will always know that you are loved by many.  You are loved by a Heavenly Father who loved you before the beginning of time.  We love you too and promise to celebrate life with you, hold your hand when you need help, and hold you up when you fall.  We love you exactly as you are…a beautiful, vibrant girl with long brown legs and a wide smile. We love how you laugh with your whole body and can’t sit still.  We love your silly songs and dances…your compassionate heart…and yes…even your sass.  We have big, giant dreams for you and pray that some day you will truly know and rest in the love that surrounds you!

Happy One Year home…XOXO.

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May 14, 2014 - 1:05 pm

Kathryn - Beautiful! Happy One Year!