Living With Kids: Sara Davis

Meet Sara. If you’ve got a chalkboard in your house and you’ve scoured Pinterest for cute ideas on how to get it looking like…well…the cute ones on Pinterest, chances are you’ve already met her! I asked her a few questions and she answered them all perfectly, but I sensed that there was more content in her than charming chalkboards and fabulous DIYs. And here she is: the brave Sara who took a leap outside her comfort zone to share herself with us. I really hope you enjoy her.

Hi there! I’m Sara, and I live in “the middle” with my amazing husband Steve and our three children: Bryant is nine, Benson is seven, and Lena is three. I’m originally from Illinois, but I came to Indiana for college where I studied marketing and art & design. It was in college that I met and fell in love with Steve, and I have been here ever since!

Steve and I have completely different interests, but we work well together. Well, most of the time! He is an attorney and thinks carefully and thoughtfully through everything that comes out of his mouth. I, on the other hand, just tend to blurt things out. Steve is extremely social, loves spreadsheets and sports, and hates being hot. I prefer small groups of people, I love creating anything and shopping, and could sit in the sun all day.

Bryant is inquisitive and prefers book club over sports. He avoids confrontation and will walk away when the youngest two begin to fight. He’s incredibly sensitive and is basically an old soul. Benson, my middle, is incredibly obsessed with fairness. He’s loud, energetic, and extremely loving. He’s artistic, and my biggest creative cheerleader. Lena is the youngest and is obsessed with the color pink. She loves to wear my heels and play with my makeup. She also loves to dance and thoroughly enjoys life. She does not want to wear pants. Ever.

We live just outside of Indianapolis, and we moved into our current home about a year ago. My husband switched jobs and that required us to move to a different town. I was in love with our home the minute I found it online. Then, when we actually walked though the door, Steve knew he had lost all bargaining power…

It is a two-story cream painted brick home on a hill. And it is symmetrical. Although I consider myself a creative person, I also need order. I describe myself as middle-brained because I’m not sure where I belong. If you look, you’ll notice my decor is always balanced – almost to a fault.

Our home’s layout is very traditional, and I’m one of the few holdouts that still has a formal dining room. I think this is hilarious since I am horrible in the kitchen. Our home also has lots of light and the first floor has transoms above many of the windows and doorways. I need light.

I complain about the Midwest all winter long. I love sunshine and warmth and hate our gray and cold winters. However, when it comes down to it, I love the Midwest in spite of its weather flaws. I love the people, the community, and values we have here. I love raising my children here. The town we moved to is small and quaint.

We’re also within four hours of our entire immediate family, which is wonderful. My kids are growing up really knowing their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. Plus, a lot of us have the luxury of large yards in the Midwest, and the cost of living is also amazing here!

I have a hard time describing my aesthetic. I like sophisticated traditional with a twist of fun. I try not to be too serious, and most of my pieces have a story. I love frequenting antique shops, flea markets, and yard sales. I also love giving outdated or worn furniture a new chance at life! My house is filled with a variety of items that fit this decor.

After college, I worked as an art director at a greeting card company and absolutely loved my job. Once Bryant came along, we decided it was best if I stayed home. Steve was working crazy long hours, and I had a ridiculous commute. I’m thankful I was able to stay at home, but I also went a little crazy with three little ones. My walls became my creative outlet (and sanity) from the kids. I would paint and repaint and stencil and freehand – my art was in every room.

Looking back, I did some crazy things to those walls. But, it was paint and could be repainted, which I’m sure has been done now that that house has new owners. And I have an amazing husband who didn’t fuss as I did what I needed to do. His only complaint was that we were losing square footage because of how often I painted the walls! I really do feel I was created to create, and how I create has evolved over time. However, the need has always been there.

My parents are big DIYers, and as a result, my two sisters and I do the same. It’s just what we know. We hang our own light fixtures, install our own faucets, and do all kinds of other things that many people hire out.

I grew up with the assumption that you attempt whatever project you have on your list before you call someone. I have had many successes with this philosophy as well as many (big time) fails.

Once we moved into our new home, I decided to start a blog as a creative outlet and as a way to help others. I realize that not everyone has my mind set, and I want to give my readers the confidence to just go for it. I want to equip them with the knowledge they need to create a pretty space where they can feel satisfaction that they accomplished it themselves AND without a lot of money.

Over the years I have loved getting to know my readers. I love blogging, and I know it’s what I’m supposed to be doing right now. I have some of the most supportive and encouraging readers and have received lots of sweet emails and compliments.

And I do have a super fan. I send out a weekly email recapping my blog posts from the week. My father-in-law always replies to that email with an encouraging note. It’s not just a generic note of encouragement. It’s obvious that he has read each and every one of my posts.

Moving to our new home is what really drove me to blog. (Also, my two oldest are in school, and I’ve been given the gift of time with just my three year old home.) I wanted to document my DIY home decor endeavors. I have a love affair with chalkboards, and I am sure I overuse them throughout my home! However, they’re versatile, useful, and just fun. My most popular tutorial on my blog is my perfect chalkboard lettering. For a while, almost 75% of my traffic was coming from this post. I was excited to see so much interest over one tutorial, but it also worried me once everyone on Pinterest learned my secrets!

But I honestly don’t stress about giving away too many secrets. I stress more about if I can discover enough secrets and come up with enough projects to sustain my blog. Pinterest drives the majority of my traffic to my blog, so I need to create content and images that bring people to me. I go through cycles of high creativity and tons of ideas. And then, I’ll go through a dry spell. The creative process is exhilarating and exhausting.

My husband is amazing. I will ask for his advice, but he usually tells me to go for it. After being married for almost 14 years, he says he trusts me.

For example, I went to a local antique store and found the mail sorter that I have since then turned into a shoe cubby. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it at the time, but I knew I had to have it. And the price was amazing. I couldn’t fit it in my car, so the seller offered to deliver it to my house.

Steve was home with the kids and here I come driving home with a strange van in tow painted with the words Mystery Machine. Steve helped unload the piece, and it was in terrible shape with a thick layer of dirt and tons of wasp nests. I’m sure he doubted me at the time, but was incredibly supportive even if didn’t see my vision.

The kids have some opinions, but they’re still young and don’t weigh in a lot. Lena’s only request for her room was that it was pink, and the boys wanted to share a room while having their own spaces. They get excited when they see a new project, and Benson says he loves that our home is “constantly changing.”

Like all moms, I think my kids are awesome. Steve and I have parented the same way with three COMPLETELY different outcomes. They are all special in their own way.

As amazing as being a mom is, it’s also the hardest and most exhausting thing I’ve ever done. When the kids were younger and I was home with all three, I would run away evenings to have me time. Maybe that meant going to the grocery store, but I just need to be alone to recharge.

I have really enjoyed the kids getting older. I miss not having a baby on my hip, but there are so many new adventures we can have with the kids now that they’re getting older. Life is getting easier in many ways – and I need fewer and fewer run away evenings – but at the same time, new challenges arise as the kids get older.

I hope my kids remember me being there. I’m a list checker, and I always have a million things I need to do. Whether that’s laundry, cleaning, cooking, working on my blog, DIY projects – I have trouble slowing down and just being with them. I’m here physically, but I struggle to pull myself away from my tasks and just be.

I wish someone had told me to not worry about what others think or say about my parenting. My first year of being a mom was extra tough because I was insecure in my new role. It’s amazing how many people (and strangers) voice their opinions on what’s best for my children.

I try to be the best mom I can be in spite of all my flaws, and I often wish the mom community would be more supportive of each other. We’re all trying our best. I succeed at many things as a mother and fail miserably at others. However, through the years, I’ve gained confidence as a parent in spite of being fully aware that I’m not perfect.

I am incredibly impatient and have an overwhelming need to do everything NOW. Whether that’s preparing for a blog post or folding the laundry, I have trouble stepping away from my to-do list. Unfortunately I’m not good at just being with my kids – playing, coloring, or reading with them.

My mind is always thinking about something else I need to do. I have a quote hanging in my kitchen: “Enjoy the little things in life, for someday you will realize they were the big things.” It is SO hard for me to do this. Unfortunately, blogging has fed my need to do things – especially now that I have blog post deadlines. However, my kids have so much grace. They think I’m awesome (and famous!) because I have a blog. They are so forgiving of me, even when I fail with them.

My husband and I are trying to do the best we can to raise three joyful and loving adults. In our mind, you don’t raise kids; you raise adults. We also find it important to step back from the kids once in a while and focus on each other. Date nights are so important for us! They give us renewed love bursts for each other and provide the sanity we need to come back to the kids and happily step back into our role as parents.

–-

Sara, your candor is a jolt a lot of us may need today. It is hard to tear ourselves away from our lists – they carry such urgency with them, don’t they? I can’t help but think that chalkboards are the perfect decor item to describe our less than perfect moments as parents and people: easily erased and waiting for new artwork tomorrow.

One thing I wanted to discuss was Sara’s point about was the stress of sharing our ideas with each other; do you ever feel like you shouldn’t give it all away for fear that you won’t have any content tomorrow? Are you scared of dry spells? How do you step away from the Pinterest and recharge? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I always do!

P.S. – Are you interested in sharing your own home with us? Let me know! It’s a lot of fun…I promise! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.


Photos by Melody Carpenter.

54 thoughts on “Living With Kids: Sara Davis”

  1. Omg, I am SO WITH YOU on separate dining spaces! I have a traditional layout currently, and it doesn’t bother me at all, but I wouldn’t mind open concept living room and kitchen. But I feel like dining rooms need to be separate, a place to focus on each other/guests (just my opinion!).

    Also, your last words almost made me teary. :) I appreciate your honesty, and it sounds to me like you’re doing a terrific job! Oh, what you said about you and your husband being opposites also resonated with me; I feel that way about my fiance a lot of the time, so good to know that’s not necessarily a bad thing. :P

    1. Count me in on the pro-dining room team – I only wish my house had a separate dining room. I don’t understand why some people are so scornful of a “formal dining room.” I suppose if you only use it on Christmas and Thanksgiving, that would be a waste of a room, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

      Growing up, we ate breakfast and lunch at the kitchen table, plus doing homework and crafts and such, but most nights dinner was in the dining room with a tablecloth, etc. (except pancake or egg dinners in the kitchen when my dad had to work late, or everybody had to hurry out to some activity after dinner). I think a little formality helps give shape to daily life in a family.

      1. Anna – I grew up also eating dinner in the dining room, and I have so many memories of it. Although my family often eats dinner in the kitchen, we do eat special dinners and dinner with our guests in our dining room. I completely agree that formality can be nice!

    2. Annie – thanks so much for the encouragement and taking the time to comment! (And I’m glad I’m not the only one who still likes dining rooms!) Best of luck to you and your fiancé!

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  3. I, too LOVE a formal dining room. We are military family and I hate the never ending search for a formal living space and formal dining space. We always use it when we have one and I miss it dreadfully when we don’t…like right now :( We’re being posted overseas this summer and in light of the smaller accomodations in Europe, I doubt we’ll have one this next time either, but living in Germany will make up for it!

    1. Living in the midwest can have it perks (like lots of space), but I envy your time in Europe. Best of luck to you and thanks for all of your family’s sacrifices!

  4. Oh goodness that shoe/mail sorter is fantastic. The whole house is. Would Sara be willing to share her polka dot curtains source? I’m dying for them!

  5. Oh that master bedroom! We are hoping to do a quick/cheap bedroom fix up (shine up, is there a term for this?) so we have a sanctuary to enjoy and rest in as we undergo a kitchen and double bathroom renovation soon with two very little boys (barely two and 8 months old) and two dogs. I am printing out this master bedroom as inspiration.

  6. How fun to have a blank slate to create in! Your home is lovely and I loved how you described your style. It’s always hard to define what we like and put in our homes but you did a great job.
    I love the use of chalkboard and I agree, they are perfect for creative outlets and go in any room. Thank you for sharing your home and family with us readers.

  7. One of the ways I’ve tried to combat the to-do list and time focusing on my kids is by using a kitchen timer. Usually after I get the big two off to school, I set the timer for 1 hour and clean. Then I play for 20 minutes, distraction-free. It’s not a great ratio, but better than nothing! I can get a lot done in 1 hour uninterrupted. I don’t always have a lot of time following that, but if I don’t I know I’ll have that time again in the morning.
    Love the line: “you don’t raise kids, you raise adults.” Thanks for sharing your home!

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  9. Love that Railroad sign for your boys’ room! My son would totally dig it. Thank you for sharing and talking about always needing to get things done/the to-do list and having a hard time being with your kids in the moment. I totally struggle with this and makes me feel better that I’m not the only one that feels this way. :)

  10. Hi,

    I love your home and the serene feeling I am getting from viewing the pictures. I really appreciated your words, I too have a tendency to blurt out things with thinking sometimes at how they will be received.. But at the same time, I am very private. So I completely understand

    I also love the line about raising adults versus kids, that is our approach as well. Though we fail miserably at it sometimes, especially since all three our kids are so different. But I am forever humbled that they are so willing to forgive my falls from grace.

    1. Hi Shazia, I love that my home felt so serene. These photos were taken during a snow day, so there were five kids running around while my neighbor was over taking the photos. It was SO chaotic! I had to laugh when I saw the photos because my friend worked magic with her camera. It did look peaceful!

      Thanks for understanding me regarding be reserved and saying too much. I confuse myself, and I think you defined me (and you) perfectly.

      Thanks so much for sharing and commenting. Have a wonderful week!

  11. Gorgeous home, thanks for sharing!! Would love to know the source of your photo collage in the gold frame above the chair. We take tons of photos and this looks like a perfectly organized way to showcase a number of favorites in one place.

  12. What a beautiful and cozy home! Sara, you’ve inspired me to thrift and paint some frames for a project I have in mind!

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  14. Lovely! Please tell us (or link the post on your blog) about the painted “rug” on your kitchen hardwood floors! I sooooo love this and love the guts you have to put paint on finished hardwood, then watch the patina develop (which at my house would be dog scratches and kids dragging stools across it!).

    Thank you also for spilling diy “secrets”….there should be so such thing!!!

  15. So much of this post could have been written by me. I’m at home at the moment with my kids and I also find it so hard to just stop and be with them. I have a compulsive need to be busy. And I just want to hide in a corner sometimes, the intensity of being with children all day is difficult to manage. Plus I have an awesome husband, ha ha.

    Thanks for the honest words.

  16. Tori – Thanks for the comment and for making me not feel alone in my feelings as a mom! It’s just a tough job all around, isn’t it?! (And it’s okay to hide in a corner sometimes. I have locked myself in the bathroom once or twice…)

  17. Thanks so much for ideas in your home, is absolutely gorgeous and graceful.
    I liked it everything. Thanks again for sharing your talents and feelings, so I know every day is a challenger, I have 5 kids and when I close the door at bathroom, and they send me paper under the door and say::mom are you here???
    I apologize with my writting,try to my best …thanks and blessings!!

    1. Adriana – thank you for the kind words! I completely understand trying to find solitude in the bathroom! We just need a few minutes, right?! I appreciate you taking the time to comment!

  18. “I have trouble slowing down and just being with them. I’m here physically, but I struggle to pull myself away from my tasks and just be.”
    I relate to that SO much! I also hide away in the evenings working on projects, recharging my batteries!

    1. Hi Robyn! It’s a tough balance, isn’t it?! There’s always so much to do. I find the best way for me to give them my full attention is to leave the house so my to-do list isn’t hanging over my head. (However, it’s hard to find the time to get out!)

      And, recharging is definitely be a good thing. It’s important for our sanity, isn’t it?! I appreciate you sharing that you also relate – thank you!

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  20. It was so refreshing for me to read this post today! I recognize myself in a lot that have been said! I think I will open my agenda tonight to plan some special couple activities in it every month. It is so easy to forget to do so. And I know time with my children will just be improve…

    Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Jacinthe,
      I’m proud of you for planning out some special activities. Our lives get so busy, that we forgot the little (but really important) things! Thank you for taking the time to read the post, and thanks for the comment!

  21. I love your honesty about having a hard time doing activities with your kids. I feel the same way! It can be so hard for me to just sit and play with them on the floor. That’s why I find getting out of the house is essential. Also we bake together, and they help me around the house. But really the best thing is to just get outside. It takes all my distractions away and I can just be with them.
    Thank you for helping me feel like I’m not the only mom out there who struggles with this! I agree we all need to be far more understanding with each other as moms.

    1. Hi Sonel! Thanks for your honesty. Getting out of the house is great, isn’t it? We can’t do our to-do lists if we’re away from it. Then, the kids can have our full attention! I really appreciate you taking the time to read through the interview and for your (encouraging) comment!

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