I love June because it’s my favorite month to spend outside working in the garden, walking the dog in the park at dusk, or having a drink on the porch. It’s not too hot yet (usually!) and the evenings are especially great. That is part of why I fell so in love with this weeks home tour host. Shayla lives in a more rural part of Oklahoma with her husband and kids, and her home has all the Southern charm you would expect. Beautiful green spaces, a nice porch and a sense of quite, easy living. Welcome, Shayla to Living with Kids!
Shayla Graham on Living with Kids
I have the joy of sharing my home with my husband Dylan and our 2 kids Daizy Faye, 3 yrs old, and Slayton Scott 7 yrs old. My husband and I are high school sweethearts and married straight out of school. We both wanted kids/family at a young age and we did exactly that, soon after marriage.
These 2 kids are so full of personality and keep us on our toes. They are every bit of crazy and I wouldn’t have them any other way. Aside from work, every bit of our time is spent with the kids. I joke all the time and say I’m going to ship them away for the weekend, but truth be told, my husband nor myself could go an entire weekend without them. They are our entire world and I try to soak up every minute of their young, innocent souls.
This answer could very well change if you ask me in 10 years when we are parenting 2 teenagers, but for now..they think we are their best friends, and that we are.
We live on the edge of a very tiny town, Meeker, Oklahoma. Dylan and I were both raised here and never even considered moving elsewhere when we married. Both of our families are here and it is all we’ve ever known. Some small town folks leave to travel other cities, but for us, Meeker is a place of comfort, and our lives have evolved here.
I wanted my kids to grow up in a small town and have a simplistic lifestyle. So here we are, and here we will stay.
We live 2 miles west of the main intersection in “town” and half a mile back north on a dead end gravel road. Actually, we just upgraded to a chip & seal (a cheaper version of pavement) road this last year. My husband and his family have corvettes so this was an extremely exciting improvement.
Our house sets on 3 acres and is at the end of the road, so its very peaceful. House prices are very affordable in the area because most of the people who live in Meeker have been around most of their lives It’s not like we have big city folks moving in for developments or anything like that so you could probably sit comfortably on a piece of land and a home at a decent price — verses Shawnee which is the closest city to us. It is about 10 miles south of Meeker and that is where all of the restaurants, shopping, work, and events are. On a normal day, I make at least 2-3 trips to Shawnee but I love coming home to the country every evening.
My kids ride their go-kart, we have a garden to tend, and we relax on our porch without neighbors ever hearing a peep. Sometimes when I watch movies like the Sandlot, I imagine living in a neighborhood where all the kids on the block meet up to play and live out a summer day together. I definitely see where that could be desirable to some, but for us, small town country life is all we have ever known and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
My Grammy and Grandpa owned the land that we built on, when I say “my” I mean my husband’s, but they have taken me in like their own since early on and they fulfill every bit of what true grandparents should be.
They live directly across the road from us. They had a house that burned in 1998 and they rebuilt a beautiful home on the exact same site. My husband lived with them growing up. I moved in after school and we saved a little bit of money to build on the land across the street. It was never a question in my mind if I wanted to live so close to family. To me, that was a part of my dream.
While most kids our age were living their young years at college, all I wanted was to build my first house with my little family. That is where my love for design really came about.
When we started building our home, it was just 3 of us at the time, and we stayed in the same room where Dylan had grown up. It took about 10 months to complete the house. When we finally moved into our home, not much changed as far as our relationship with my in-laws went.
There isn’t a day that goes by that Grandpa doesn’t ride his Kubota over to help me with a project; my kids walk back and forth constantly; we have dinner together 50% of the time; the boys fish the pond together almost every summer evening; and when I call for help with my kids they are there within two minutes.
Daizy was the first girl on my husband’s side of the family in 4 generations, so the moment Grandpa laid eyes on her he was hooked on her sweet love. Their friendship is what every parent longs to see with their loved ones, memories that can only be made with someone as special as them.
I’m not sure why I have always had in interest in design. Growing up, my mom made sure no matter what sort of house we were in, it was defined as a home — and I could tell how happy it made her to be that home maker for us. She was a single mom with 3 kids and we lived in a small trailer house in town. This tiny home, still to date, was my favorite home.
She worked hard to keep it decorated in the coziest way. She worked so hard on the inside and out. I remember the day our little house was on the front page of the newspaper for yard of the month! I have many memories in that house and she really made us believe it wasn’t the size of the house or the money you have, it is what you make with what you’ve got.
I think that’s why I wanted to build a home and start a family so young, its inspiring to me to turn a house into a home. She inspired me.
When we built, we sure didn’t have the money to do anything special. We got builder grade everything and it was a challenge to get the look I wanted on that budget. Honestly, it was kind of like moving into a blank canvas, nothing too trendy. And I’ve been able to add additions and special things along the way. The house grows with us instead of moving into a house that was more than we could keep up with.
It was shortly after building ours that I knew I wanted to help others create “homes.”
Still to this day I don’t have the trendiest details or most expensive furniture, and maybe that’s why I can relate with others. It took me awhile to learn to embrace each season we are in and some days still I struggle. Comparing my home to those on Pinterest or magazines was stealing the joy for what I had created. I try to put quality where it counts and the rest can come in time.
A home is a reflection of our own hearts and families, not someone else’s. And I try to incorporate that in every home I design. For me, having a home I love is what keeps me and my family thriving. I want my kids and my clients to say their home inspires them, just as I can say mine did growing up.
I never dreamed of being a store owner. It was never in my plans. I had about a 6 months’ worth of helping others decorate their homes under my belt when I realized I was shopping the same big box stores that honestly, they could have shopped themselves. I wanted to implement unique items in the homes I design; to set them apart from the others with hand-picked items to suit their style.
When I needed a quick get-a-way for inspiration, I used to go to the historic square in McKinney, Tx. I would go in those shops and look in detail at how their items were displayed. the smells, the music, the entire atmosphere of those shops would recharge me. I would always ask for the owner of the shop to chat with me. I would ask how their store came about or how their beginnings led them to the place they were now.
During these times I started envisioning myself sitting in my own store someday. A place I could offer unique items to not only my clients but to those who just wanted a few special décor pieces. I had already taken over half of my husband’s shop with inventory I would buy at a good deal, knowing I would soon use the pieces on a coming job. So opening a store was a good idea to clear the shop and keep my things in a more appropriate place.
I was a tiny town girl with big expectations and I knew I had to give the opening of a store a test run before I plunged in fully.
I didn’t know the slightest thing about retail or managing a store. I spent hours researching online and watching YouTube tutorials.
I started with a very small budget to purchase enough inventory to create a unique experience. I rented out an old barn in Meeker, and my goal was to transform this place the best I knew how, into a weekend shop for customers to purchase home décor.
Transform it we did and it was so fun! We had a blast and it was an experience I will always remember. At the time I had no idea what the year ahead of me held, but this was a great beginning.
Fast forward 1 year and I’m am writing this from my brick and mortar shop downtown on the historic streets of Shawnee that is now open to all!
I love this little shop and I love all the time I get to spend here. Designing homes is definitely still my main objective and the shop is just a branch of that. But now, instead of working from my office at home, I work from the store and I’m able to design with items from my own inventory.
This was my goal when I opened the shop: to offer full circle services.
I want my kids to know that anything worth having in life doesn’t come easy, and reaching the goals you set takes consistency and hard-work. Even if it was given to you, you wouldn’t know the true value.
I would say my husband and I both have a very driven state of mind. If we set our mind to anything we won’t stop until we have that, sometimes to a fault. Like my business for instance, it is very easy to drown myself in the work and let it consume my mind 24/7. At the beginning I thought I had to build the entire empire in a day.
This began to rapidly take a toll on me and my family. Finding balance has been the most important thing I have learned. I have tried my best to work hard at work, then be a mom and a wife at home.
When you switch your mindset and focus on a more intentional living, it really brings peace. Even at home, I am always working on cleaning, laundry, dinner, homework, ball games etc., but I am present in those moments. Seeing the impact it has had turned my perspective on “work” upside down.
Whether it’s working towards growing my business or planning an evening with my family, the reward is always greater when it is done with intention.
This was the exact reason we started our garden this year. I wanted my kids to grow something from the ground up; to learn how to work towards something when the reward is not seen. It’s in those instances, when we find the true value in a days work, and it makes the end result so much sweeter.
I struggled to think of what part of parenting comes the most naturally to me, in fact I thought for two days and couldn’t come up with an answer. I then asked my husband and each of my kids to help me. All three, in their own way, said “the way you love us.”
I think as a mom we are always putting so much pressure on ourselves to be the absolute best in every area. Pinterest/Social media can have a way of making us feel as if we have failed at parenting. Like when the fancy dinner we planned turns into PB&J right before bed time, or the craft night we wanted turns into a pencil and a piece of scrap paper from under the seat of the car on our way to the next ball game.
Life is busy living with kids and sometimes it feels as if I can barely hold my own self together, not to mention three others.
While all I can see is the things I didn’t do for them, or the yelling I did instead of speaking calmly to them, they see something different.
In our house we say “I love you” or “you’re my best friend” most every time we walk into a room. It has become such a normal thing for us, that sometimes I look past the impact those simple words have had on my family.
The kids don’t remember the failed attempts of each day. They don’t see the picture of a perfectly placed table setting online. What they do see is the love their dad and I show for each other. The love we show them. They hear those words we say with every passing, and it has become their normal. Once I thought on this I realized I am a loving mom. Even on my worst days, my kids will never have to question that.
I want to encourage other moms to ask themselves this question, and don’t let it stop you in your tracks like it did me. Our kids see more good in us than we could ever see in ourselves.
I hope my kids remember this is ALWAYS their home! No matter what happens in life or where they wander, they can always find the peace they need here. When we built this house, we also built our family and that will always remain. I hope they totally forget how busy we have let life get, how we sometimes struggle to find contentment in the small things.
I love living with kids and the energy they bring to our home. They are so full of life and craziness that this house would feel empty without them in it. I can’t imagine what it will be like when they leave for college. Even though I say all the time I need an hour of quiet time at home, if I had it, I would feel lost.
I miss them having a pacifier. It sounds so silly but it’s true. How the simplest thing can bring so much comfort to a baby, and a mom, while rocking them to sleep. Plus the sweet look of innocence any baby with a passy has melts me every time. Is that weird?
I wish someone had told me how to balance being a mother, a wife, and a growing business owner. The demands of each day are HARD and its easy to feel as if we can barely survive one more email or meltdown. I wonder if there is a “how to manage life for dummies” book out there? It might be one I should check out.
It is an emotional roller coaster, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m finding grace in my gaps and striving each day to thrive more for my family. Easy road or not, it’s the one I’m taking and I know my kids will find the value in this life together!
Thank you, Shayla! What a beautiful story. And what a perfectly charming home. Some homes truly exude comfort and livability and I think Shayla’s is one of them. You can imagine her kids running around the dining table or having friends over to play in that gorgeous backyard.
I also loved what Shayla had to say about connecting with the people we love and worrying less about the way our home looks or the latest craft project we did. There is something really simple and amazing about treating the people around you with love and respect.
It was fun to get a peak into quiet country living. Are you more of a country mouse, or a city mouse? Do you love your peace and quiet and solitude? Or do you love the energy and bustle of city life? Or do you need a mix of both to keep yourself happy?
Photo credit to Rachael Marie Photography. You can follow Shayla’s blog here or her IG here. Living With Kids is edited by Josh Bingham — you can follow him on Instagram. Would you like to share your home in our Living With Kids series? It’s lots of fun, I promise! (And we are always looking for more diversity in the families we feature here. Single parents, non-traditional parents, families of color, LGBT parents, multi-generational families. Reach out! We’d love to hear your stories!!) Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org