By Gabrielle. Photos by Revival Photography.

I love how Alison describes her small town: “My family moved here when I was ten years old, and I remember pulling into town and noticing that there was a McDonalds…and not much else. The town has grown only a bit in the 26 years I have lived here, and I both love and hate that about it.”

I’m sure a lot of us share this dichotomy between a deep appreciation for comfort and an equally deep craving for change. It’s always a toss-up on which will win the contest, right? Either way, one look at her home and reading of her thoughts and I get the impression she’s living an inspired life in her one McDonald’s town. I hope you enjoy this peek into how she’s living with kids. (And who just searched for a wall-sized, roll-up map for their living area? Me, too.)

Hi, everyone! I’m Alison. I am a wife and stay-at-home mother of four young children, including a two year old set of twins. My husband, Scott, is a hard-working, incredibly talented designer. A couple years after graduating high school, I saw Scott (who was two years younger than me in school) out with some mutual friends. We talked for a few minutes and then parted ways. I remember saying to the friend I was with, “That Scott Little is hot. I would marry him.” A few months later we ran into each other again, and the rest, as they say, is history. I knew right away he was the one, as cliché as that sounds!

Our boys are eight and six. Jackson, our oldest, is smart and tender hearted. He has a quirky little personality and has always kept us on our toes. I always said there was no one in the whole world who loved me the way Jackson did, until our daughter Charlotte came along. She is so much like he was at her age, and shows love and affection much the same as he did. It’s fun to see the similarities between them.

Grayson, our six year old, is his own little person. He is independent, and has a unique style that I love so much. He gives absolutely no thought or worry to what others might think of him. It is my very favorite trait of his, and I hope he carries it with him always.

In the Fall of 2012 we found our we were expecting our third baby, and at our six week ultrasound found out we were actually expecting our third and fourth babies! Having twins was the most shocking and most wonderful surprise. Juliet and Charlotte were born in the summer of 2013. I barely remember those first four months. I never knew I could be so tired, or love coffee so much.

They are now two-and-a-half, and I’m convinced this is the very best age. They are sweet and funny and the cutest (of course!), and I just feel so lucky to be their mama.

We live in a small town in the foothills of North Carolina. My family moved here when I was ten years old, and I remember pulling into town and noticing that there was a McDonalds…and not much else. The town has grown only a bit in the 26 years I have lived here, and I both love and hate that about it.

While there are many benefits to raising your family in a small town, there are also frustrations. We live a good 30 minutes in any direction from good restaurants, shops, and coffee houses. I’m not a city girl by any stretch of the imagination, but I would love to have more options and a little more culture. I basically want to live way out in the country, right outside of a city!

We moved into our current home a little over five years ago. We were renting a small house one town over, and knew we wanted to grow our family and would need to expand.

My parents, who we currently rent from, mentioned that their renters were moving out. It is a larger house, outside of town, and sits on two acres of land. Moving in was kind of a no-brainer.

This is the fifth house we have lived in since we got married 11 years ago, and it is by far the one I have felt the most at home in. I love the style and the character, and I love that we have a big yard where my children can safely run and play.

As much as we have loved this home, we have recently felt a pull toward something different. I dream of an old white farmhouse in the country, something needing just enough work that we can make it our own. A couple months ago, my husband and I sat down and went over our finances and put a plan together that will make this dream happen sooner rather than later. It’s been exciting to dream and plan and work towards this goal together.

I’m not one to over-plan or fill our schedule to the brim. I prefer to be home together as a family, or out adventuring together. I don’t want to be so busy with various activities that we are all going in different directions. As my kids get older and their interests change they may want to be involved in sports or dance or music, but for now it just doesn’t fit well into our lifestyle.

We love being outdoors, and enjoy being able to pack up on a Saturday and head to the mountains for the day…or the weekend.

I think of my style as traditional and simplistic, with an emphasis on our home being comfortable and inviting. It has always been important to me that my children are free to be children in our home. After all, this is their space just as much as it is my husband’s and mine.

We don’t have any spaces that are off limits. This doesn’t mean we don’t have rules, or that they have the run of the house. It simply means we are all free to live and gather and play in each and every room in our home.

I remember as a little girl going to my great aunt’s house, and she had a sitting room with fancy furniture and expensive looking trinkets. I always felt grown up and special when we sat in that room, but I also felt like I shouldn’t touch anything. I don’t want any of our spaces to feel cold, or too grown up. I think every room should be loved and lived in.

I have always enjoyed decorating and bringing order to our homes. A friend once laughed at me when I told her I enjoyed rearranging the shelving in our dining room. There’s just something about bringing beauty and order into a home that is so soothing to me. Clutter and excess make me feel anxious, so I work hard to keep our home tidy. It may sound a bit dramatic, but it just makes me a nicer person and a better mother.

I started The Common Table two years ago with two very close friends. Every Sunday evening, we gathered in each other’s homes for dinner. We started having people ask about our gatherings, and express a desire for the same. The purpose of The Common Table is to encourage others to cultivate community in their lives. Our hope is that through our stories, and the stories of others, people will be encouraged to reach out and invite people in.

If you visit the site, or our Instagram, you will notice we haven’t posted in a while! Joni went back to school last year to pursue a degree in Interior Design, and needed to be able to focus her attention on that. We all decided to take a step back from the blog. Community is something that will always be very important to us, and even though we have stepped away from the blog for the time being, we still have Sunday dinners and gather together often. We hope that our blog and Instagram still offer hope and encouragement for anyone with a heart for community and building relationships.

Green Cove Collective is an online shop that my husband and I (but mostly my husband!) run together. For years we have thrown around the idea of collaborating on a shop. A few months ago, we sat down at our dining room table with a pen and a large roll of paper and wrote down all of our ideas and goals for this little endeavor. We made a list of possible names, logo ideas, and products that we each would like to contribute. It is still in the early stages, but we are very excited for the support we have already received, and for all that we have in store for the future.

One of the things I love about Instagram is the way it allows us to make connections and build relationships with people we never would have crossed paths with otherwise. I love that an app can bring people together and make us feel less alone in whatever stage of life we’re in.

I try to keep my little space positive and uplifting. I work hard to be honest without being negative. I have found that people seem to connect more when you are willing to share the good and the not so good. Everyone loves a pretty picture, but it helps if we are willing to be honest from time to time about how everything behind the scenes isn’t always so pretty. I believe this can, and should, be done in a positive way. We don’t have to complain or tear others down to be honest and truthful. I think it’s a fine balance, and one I work hard to achieve.

Instagram is full of talented, creative people. At any given point, a scroll through can provide me with a delicious new recipe, inspiration for my home, or encouragement in my parenting journey. It’s an amazing thing, really, that people from all over the world can reach out and encourage you and lift you up when you need it.

I love that I get to stay home with my children, although it’s a role that was difficult for me at first. It has taken me a few years to settle into it and become happy and content being at home. I find that the older I get, the more I truly enjoy being a wife and mother. As my children grow, I want them to see a mom who enjoys spending time with them, and who finds great joy in her role as a mother.

Of course there are times I feel weary, and days that seem mundane and repetitive, but my hope is that when we all look back on our life, and their childhood, those things fade into the background.

I wish someone had taken my tired, overwhelmed, doing the best I could, 29 year old face in their hands and said, “You don’t have to be the kind of mother everyone else is. You are allowed to follow your instincts and do what you think is best, even if it looks nothing like what all your friends are doing.”

My boys were born 18 months apart to the day. We moved into a new home a few months before our second son was born, and I had recently become a full-time stay at home Mom.

I suffered with PPD after his birth, and was struggling with my role as a stay-at-home mother. I felt lonely and isolated, and overwhelmed by life with two babies. I remember looking at my friends and thinking everyone had it together except me. They all had a certain and very similar way of doing things, and I thought that must be how I was supposed to do things.

I realize now that none of us had any clue what we were doing, and were all just doing the best we could. I can’t tell you how many times I have wished that I could go back and do those first few years of motherhood all over. I would have worried less about how everyone else had their baby on a schedule, made all their baby food from scratch, and potty-trained their one year old. I would have trusted my instincts more, and been at peace if they were wrong and we had to try something different.

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Well, that kind of melted me. Especially this: I wish someone had taken my tired, overwhelmed, doing the best I could, 29 year old face in their hands and said, “You don’t have to be the kind of mother everyone else is. You are allowed to follow your instincts and do what you think is best, even if it looks nothing like what all your friends are doing.” Thank you, Alison.

If you’ve ever found yourself struggling, you know how powerful a moment this would be. I hope I remember to do this for someone who needs it without being embarrassed about overstepping! Have any of you experienced someone swooping in and pressing pause on your battle, offering encouragement or just a hug when you needed it most? What do you remember touching you the most? I’m sure we’d all like to hear your story. Please share, will you?

P.S. – Are you living with your own kids in a unique way? Are you interested in sharing your home and experiences with us? Let me knowWe love to be inspired! And it’s a lot of fun…I promise! I should also mention, I have a goal to bring more diverse points of view to Design Mom this year. So if you don’t see yourself or your community reflected here, let’s make it happen — send in your details, or recommend a friend! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.