Living With Kids: Leslie Burket

October 15, 2013

By Gabrielle.

It’s got to be difficult to follow last week’s out-of-this-world tour, but the Burket family is up for the challenge! Theirs is a home – and life – edited for their specific needs. Nothing more, nothing less. Not in their home design, not in the sweet product they make, not in their social media plan, and not even with their family calendar. If you’re on the verge of considering paring down your family’s day-to-night events, I think Leslie can offer some guidance and inspire all of the over-scheduled readers in the crowd. Friends, I am pleased to welcome Leslie and her family!

Q: Please tell us how the Burket family came to be!

A: We are now a family of four. But this all started 15 years ago with a high school crush on a boy named Tom. We dated briefly as teenagers – I even joined the golf team, no experience required, to try to get to know him! – and then he called me out of the blue in college and took me to see Napoleon Dynamite. He snuck a bottle of champagne in the movie theatre, held my hand, and made me laugh like no other. I was done.

We got married a few years later and then had two kids. Trent, six, is our Lego-loving, deep thinker. His heart is as big as his imagination. Lila, four, is a spunky, loud talking, little lady. Bless her heart. She loves to help and she adores her big brother.

Throw in two dogs, five chickens, building a house, and starting a company together, and I’d say we just really enjoy working together. And that’s just it.

This isn’t perfect, we certainly don’t get it all right, but we are dedicated and have found much joy in making this family work. I am thankful for everyday I get to share with our silly crew.

Q: What makes you love where you live?

A: As Tom and I are writing this, our kids are riding bikes and climbing trees at one of our waterfront parks. We are sprawled out on a blanket and the weather is just dreamy. The sun shines an average 361 days a year in St. Petersburg, which has earned us “The Sunshine City” name. If that’s not enough to convince you, we have the World’s Largest Shuffleboard Courts and some of the best beaches in the country. People just don’t move away once they come here.

Q: Building your home sounds like a dream, but I’m sure it had its moments! What were the biggest lessons learned along the way, and what would you do differently if you had to do it all over again?

A: We had a great time building our house. We agree that it was certainly one of our most favorite adventures together. However, Tom was the builder, and I am certain we got preferential treatment from all of the sub contractors. We stayed on track by setting our budget and timeline and not straying from it. We made choices quickly and didn’t second guess them.

Q: Are there any elements or features of your home that still make you pat yourselves on the back and say “That was an awesome idea!”

A: Our house isn’t big, but it is smart. Vaulted ceilings, big windows, great storage, an open floor plan, and wrap-around porch lend to our home’s clean feel.

To be environmentally and financially friendly, we used Hardy board siding, spray foam insulation, metal roof panels, and insulated windows.

But the best choice we made was to build our home on a lot directly behind my parents’ house. It’s like we have built-in babysitters!

Q:You’ve truly embraced a fun decor in your home; has your aesthetic always been so vibrant, or have your children added their influence?

A: The kids certainly have their influence. We display a lot of their work. Their drawings, school projects, Lego creations. We love to see the things their minds and little hands create. We want them to look around and know this house is a place for them too.

There are some design choices that are not what I would have picked, but its important that our home reflects everyone who lives here.

Q: Your company, Lilapops, is a favorite. Tell us the story of how it came to be.

A: Just two years ago we were on a family road trip, both kiddos were in their car seats sick and coughing. I dreamed of a product that would naturally soothe their coughs and cheer them up.

Within months we created Lilapops, all-natural cough drop lollipops with honey and marshmallow root. We love Lilapops ourselves; I can’t tell you how often I go into the office to open a bag for us. We get lots of love mail from our customers, other Moms and Dads, grandparents, school nurses, all professing their love and gratitude. That never gets old.

Q: How has your company philosophy informed your life with kids, how you design your life, and the choices you make daily with them?

A: Our lives changed in so many ways when we had our first baby. He had food allergies and we chose to reevaluate everything we put into our home and bodies. It was a bit trying at first but turned out to be such an incredible blessing.

Eliminating things was cleansing and established a new simpler way of work for our family. We realized not only do we not need much, but we actually prefer to have less. Living naturally means living simply for us.

Q: How do you balance working and parenting? And do you believe there ever can be a balance?

A: We both work outside of the home. Tom is a commercial general contractor and I am a kindergarten teacher. We share Lilapops duties when we can.

We are continually assessing and shifting our time around to make things work. This year we decided to cut out all the extras. No little league. No ballet. No cub scouts.

We are taking a year to establish the routines we feel are most important in our family, and once those are in place – faith and family night, bedtime routines, family dinners, etc. – we will add a bit at a time. But I have to say, no one is complaining about missing out. Our weekdays feel much more like the weekends now.

Also, I know it might seem crazy, but I do not forward anything to my phone. I have just a couple set times a day I check in with e-mail and Facebook and the like.

Q: What has been your favorite part about living with your own kids? What has shocked you the most about being a mom?

A: I have always wanted to be a mom. I know I was made for this! I still sniff the skin on their foreheads and nuzzle their necks like they are my newborns. We go in and look at them sleeping every night.

I thought I would be much more emotional about them growing up, but the truth is, I am enjoying each stage more than the last. Every year their personalities develop more and our relationships evolve. They are growing and changing, and it is a blessing of a gift to witness.

Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish I had known…

A: I had to sleep on this question! I wish I had known that it was okay for things to be a bit messy. I used to really fear messing up, making mistakes, and imperfections. I’ve learned mistakes are certain, necessary, and totally okay.

The more I acknowledge them, share them, and accept them, the easier it is to move on and grow in a positive way.

No one is expecting perfection from me…including myself.

–-

Leslie, thank you so much for sharing a glimpse into your life. Your thought that “our weekdays feel much more like the weekends now” left me with a new goal. I want to make that happen in my own family. Most weeks, we look so forward to Friday that poor Monday and Tuesday don’t get the love they deserve!

Friends, what about you? Are you ever tempted to opt out for a year or two of all extra-curriculars, or are you and your kids too entrenched to even think about such a thing?

P.S. — Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here. And if you’d like to share your own home with us, just send me a note! It’s a lot of fun…I promise!

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mina October 15, 2013 at 10:42 am

Nice to see a fellow bay area resident! Love her home and her kids are sooooo cute!

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2 Renee October 15, 2013 at 11:40 am

Love this tour! Where are the little mailboxes from? Love them!

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3 leslie October 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm

hi, renee! thanks! the mailboxes are from the target dollar bin!
(keep your eye out around valentines!)
xoxo

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4 Tasha October 16, 2013 at 5:00 pm

First thing I loved too, lol! Creative!

Gorgeous home – enjoy:)

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5 Jessica @ Little Nesting Doll October 15, 2013 at 11:42 am

I love the idea of taking a year off to get family routines in place–what a great way to make sure you have your priorities in line! {Says the mom who has 3 little league/soccer games every Saturday in the Fall! :) } We go through seasons of being very busy and seasons of having lots of down time…right now we are in busy mode, but only for a few more weeks. I’m looking forward to some quiet nights.

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6 Sherri October 15, 2013 at 11:55 am

I totally agree with your statement that you don’t get sad about the kids growing up too fast because each stage is so great. I have a high schooler – who was an only for almost 9 years – and I just relished each stage so much – new adventures – new fun. Now that she had three younger siblings – all close in age (9, 7, 5), I do get sentimental about the totally toddler and preschool stage now and then (because it was for such an extended period of time :), but… I still love the new adventures. Beautiful home, btw :).

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7 Nora October 15, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Thanks to Leslie, I just un-forwarded my gmail account to my phone. About a year ago I got off facebook, which has proved to be one of the most liberating decisions ever. Hooray for priorities, simplicity, and accepting our mistakes. Leslie, thank you so much for sharing your home and your wisdom w/us.
Small choices truly are the joy of life.

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8 Julia @ Calm Cradle Photo & Design October 15, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Leslie, thank you for sharing your beautiful home. These days it takes courage to say “no” to extra, scheduled activities. Sometimes I feel like we’re already behind the curve because our girls (17 month and 3 years) aren’t signed up for any extra classes or sports like most of their friends. But when would they have time for creativity if we were rushing around every minute? Thank you for the inspiration to say “no” and focus on what makes the most sense for your family!

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9 kalanicut October 15, 2013 at 1:17 pm

“I am thankful for everyday I get to share with our silly crew.” This line brought me to tears. The tender spot in my heart is really feeling that today – I wouldn’t trade anything for time with my own silly crew. I also loved what Leslie said about knowing things won’t be perfect but realizing that is how we learn and grow. I feel so much better, safer, balanced when I know it’s okay, that we can all screw up and grow individually and as a family. Love their home too, I always have to read the text separately then go back and look at the home photos again and again to drink it all in. Looking forward to doing that now. Thanks for this lovely post.

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10 Maria B October 15, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Lovely!

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11 Raluca | WhatWouldGwynethDo October 15, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I am also a firm believer in less is more when it comes to activities. My toddler son has none on his plate and my six-yr-old daughter has only one at a time and always after school vs. weekends. We spend the rest of the time chilling out and letting the day dictate what we’re going to do. It has worked out very well for our entire family.

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12 RuthWW October 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm

After I had my 5th baby who was diagnosed at 1yo with cerebral palsy, I said goodbye to dance lessons for my girls, swim team, and other unnecessary activities. I seem to remember we did soccer for a while….but running 4 kids to four different practices each week and to and from different games on different fields in different cities on Saturdays, I gave that up, too. I like to say that I came to conclusion that I didn’t have to be a super-Mom juggling all the balls in the air and driving myself crazy. I pulled in and we did things at home. Just running to therapies for my littlest one was draining enough. It was the best decision I made for my family and me.

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13 Laura October 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm

What a beautiful home and philosophy on simplier living! This is one of my favorite Living w Kids! Can I ask where you purchased the closet organizers in the kids closets? Thanks!

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14 Leslie October 16, 2013 at 10:00 am

Hi, Laura! We had California closets build out the interior of our closets, the purchase baskets and bins from: target, ikea, and the dollar store, that evolve and rotate the kids toys and clothes as they grow. Thanks! Xoxo

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15 Jill October 15, 2013 at 6:16 pm

I really enjoyed this one! My teenagers were only in ballet that met 1x a week and never weekends when they were young. Low key schedules are what works best for our family too. Now in high school they only participate in school activities, during the school year. If I had hectic schedules with the kids i’d go crazy! :) I guess I’m not a good multi-tasker. Thanks for sharing , Leslie.

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16 Britta October 15, 2013 at 6:22 pm

I love this home and interview so much!

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17 Rea October 15, 2013 at 8:09 pm

“our weekdays feel much more like the weekends now” — oh how i love this line! :)

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18 Tracy October 15, 2013 at 8:31 pm

I love the home interviews! When my son was diagnosed with Aspergers, and anything extra just felt like another meltdown waiting to happen, I decided to cut out lessons and activities and just have home hang-out time. He feels so bombarded by all the sensory issues, and being home is a haven for him. We go out, and even “join” whenever absolutely necessary, but no practices or games to shuffle back and forth for. And her line about the weekdays feeling more like weekends is true! I also teach, and so having a late afternoon of nothing but doing home stuff and dinner feels so relaxing. Thanks so much for sharing. :-)

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19 Vanessa October 16, 2013 at 6:35 am

I love your home and life philosophy, Leslie. My husband and I are in the beginning stages of building our home and would love to know more about your plan, etc. Thanks so much for giving us a glimpse into your home! xx

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20 M October 16, 2013 at 7:37 am

This is one of my favorites to date… Totally wondering what those numbers mean above the sink????

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21 Leslie October 16, 2013 at 9:57 am

Hi, m! The numbers above our sink are our home address. Xoxo

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22 kim October 16, 2013 at 8:22 am

This is by far my favorite tour!

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23 Ellen October 16, 2013 at 8:30 am

Leslie, your home is so beautiful – your family, too. Gorgeous photos here. Love your family philosophies as well. Down time is a wonderful thing.
I hate to be one of those people who do this, but where did you get your cute polka dot skinny jeans?

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24 Leslie October 16, 2013 at 9:58 am

Hi, Ellen! Thanks! Target! Xoxo

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25 Micah October 16, 2013 at 8:59 am

The cupboard/dresser with the legos and the hand drawn background is such a great idea! My boys would love that, and I would love a place for them to keep all their cars, planes, and legos. Your house is beautiful!

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26 ck October 16, 2013 at 12:50 pm

What do you use the little mailboxes for? I’d love to know…

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27 leslie October 16, 2013 at 3:15 pm

we use the little mailboxes for love notes, thank you notes, and little chocolates. xoxo

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28 katie October 16, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I love your home! I was wondering where your son’s bed came from. I am looking for something similar for my two son’s shared space. Thanks!

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29 leslie October 16, 2013 at 3:18 pm

hi, katie! thanks! our sons bed is an ikea leksvik children’s bed. xoxo

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30 Laura October 17, 2013 at 11:15 am

I love those beautiful ceramic dishes on your kitchen window ledge! Especially the fruit cartons – I can see them filled with strawberries and gorgeous on the table. Where did you find all of these neat dishes?

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31 leslie October 17, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Hi, Laura! The dishes and cartons are from anthropologie. Gifts from the hubs. xoxo

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32 Katy October 17, 2013 at 12:31 pm

What a beautiful home! Thanks for sharing with us. I especially love the sweet treehouse. I’m looking to build something similar for my own little ones. Did you design that yourself or was it built from a plan?

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33 leslie October 17, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Hi, Katy! It was designed and built by our family.
(My husband is a builder)
The building materials and playground equipment were all separate gifts from our family for our kids for Christmas one year. We enjoyed working together as a family to design and built the fort and hoped our kids would absorb the labor of love that was required.
We like that it’s big enough for us adults too!
Thanks! xoxo

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34 Bekah Palmer October 17, 2013 at 4:18 pm

I saw cute ceramic fruit cartons at Kohls just recently. I live in the midwest. Super sweet home.

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35 Haley November 4, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Hi Leslie!
Your house is beautiful! Do you mind sharing the paint colors of your kids rooms and master bath? Also, I love the curtains in your little girls’s room!

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