By Gabrielle.

At some point during the process of preparing these tours for publication, I usually ask our tour guides for just one more photo or just one more story or just a few more sentences about that sweet thing they mentioned in passing. Or “Where did you get those vases, because they’re super chic?” In Shelly’s case, I simply asked for a few more close-ups of her stunning gallery wall plus maybe a bookshelf.

And this is when she told me she was in the process of moving out of this home, away from her stunning gallery wall plus definitely her bookshelf! I still wanted to show you her home and share her words, because she has a lot to say about following our gut instincts and being brave and tackling DIY even if it scares the heck out of us. Also, there’s that gallery wall.

Please welcome Shelley as she takes us on one final tour of her home! She’s been in her new state for a day as of this writing, and so far, so good.

Hello! I’m Shelly and I’m living in Illinois with my best friend, lil bean, and pup. I could gush about my family all day.

My husband, Jeffrey, and I met at Purdue where I fell head over heels for him and his pet bunny. My mood is VERY much affected by his, which is good because he is the yin (calm/quiet/thoughtful/patient) to my yang (anxious/loud/quick to speak/impatient). He is a curious learner who can figure out how to do/build/navigate just about anything, but most of all, he makes me laugh.

My daughter makes us both laugh. Constantly. She is almost two years old, and such an empathetic, kind-hearted child. She’s great for a pat on the back, share of her cookie, or silly face to make you laugh. My husband has instilled his love of books while I have instilled my love of dancing in her.

Our rescue, Lexi, can’t stand to be more than three feet away from any one of us, but knows when she’s being annoying.

Our favorite family activities are playing at the park, visiting the book store, and wrestling.

We live at the very edge of a college town in Illinois. If you walk a block from our house it’s cornfields as far as you can possibly see, which makes for amazing sunsets. We were lucky enough to build our home in 2010. We’d looked at a ton of homes and realized it would be compatible in price to build. I was able to choose everything! Flooring, paint, cabinetry, tile, carpets, roof color, siding – everything was my decision and I loved it and I’m still happy with everything five years later.

Even though we chose everything about our home, we’ve still done a lot of DIY projects: built a deck and pergola, added a backsplash in the kitchen, and built-in shelving and automatic lights in every closet. I never feel like it’s finished; there are at least ten things on my DIY list, but that’s just because I’m crazy.

Our neighborhood also makes me very happy about where we live. We have at least eight families on our street that we trust and love hanging out with. There is a huge park in our neighborhood with tennis courts, a soccer field, baseball diamond, skateboard area, sledding hill, playgrounds, and a walking path that goes through wildflowers. It’s heavenly. I love the fact that we’re out by cornfields, but at the same time I’m only ten minutes away from the grocery, restaurants, theater, and Starbucks.

With the University being in our town, there are a ton of restaurant selections, different boutiques, and live music all the time. The library and YMCA are both brand new and are where Soph and I spend most days of the week. We’re only two hours away from Chicago and Indianapolis, where both of our parents live, so we have fun weekends visiting them and enjoying all that those big cities offer.

If I had to define my style, I would call my taste Modern DIY. I like the structure and foundation to be modern, but have personal touches to make my home feel special. I have art and photography from several family members as well as a ton of art that I’ve made. Clean lines in furniture (IKEA and Crate & Barrel mostly!) but with a few thrift finds thrown in the mix. I’m learning that everything in my home must have a place. It must be functional or beautiful. Otherwise there’s no use for it in our home.

We’re completely adjusted to life with a curious toddler. We put locks on the kitchen cabinets and stove. We also got glass and a screen for the fireplace. We keep the toilet seats down and if we really don’t want to worry, we’ll close the doors. For the most part, she likes to hang with us. We have all of her toys at her level so she has access all of the time.

She’s in a Montessori inspired room which has worked out better than we could dream. She goes to sleep easily, and when she wakes up she reads books or plays with her toys while singing the whole time. It is the sweetest thing in the world.

The only thing she can’t seem to keep her hands off is Lexi’s food and water dish. She eats Lexi’s food. It makes us crazy.

I have a blog called DIY Mama, which has been my savior while being a SAHM. I needed to have more than just baby routine in my life, so I started the blog when Soph was born to update friends and family. I have a passion for crafts and wanted to show that you don’t have to be afraid of arts and crafts.

No one is naturally good at ANYTHING. You have to try and fail and as you try more, you get better. I know so many people who would tell me “Oh I couldn’t ever do that!” or “You’re so talented! How did you even think of that?” when I believe anyone can do anything after enough tries!

My tagline is “Let’s try this again, shall we?” which I have transferred to all of my DIY/Craft/Parenting projects on the blog. I show all. I also throw in Disney posts because Disney is a huge part of my life as a Mickey lover, past Cast Member, and now new mom with a kid to spoil at Disney! Two weeks ago I took the giant leap and decided to monetize my blog, so I joined a few affiliates and am learning the ins and outs of the money side of the blogging world. I would like to be able to pay for Sophie’s food and diapers with the blog. I would LOVE to be able to pay for a blogging conference with my blog income…but it will take time.

Two things draw me to DIY. Not looking like everyone else, and knowing that we can make things less expensive and often with more quality than we can buy. I grew up with my parents being extremely hands-on with house repairs and DIY projects. Both of my parents were very crafty as well. We would make stained glass as a family, my sister and Dad would pause the TV to sketch the Disney movies I was watching, and my mom was always sewing for us or friends.

Since I’ve always grown up in an artsy environment, it’s strange to me when people don’t do crafts with their family, but I have learned why everyone doesn’t: there’s only so much time in a day! Still, my life has been enriched by arts and crafts, for sure. I can’t imagine a life without it.

My favorite part about having a daughter is watching her learn and experience new things. She is such a joy to have in our lives. Her interactions with her dad are my favorite time of every day. She has different things that she likes to do with each of us. I wake her up every day and Jeffrey lays her down every night. We all share dinner together and talk about our days. We talk to her like she’s an adult and she responds (in her own language) with such emotion and thought. She is already a performer and knows how to get a laugh out of us.

Two things have been a huge surprise to me as a new mom. First, breastfeeding is impossible and terrible for more than half of all mothers (me included) which makes you feel like a failure from the start. Also, being a stay at home mom is harder than working a 9-to-5 job for me. Never getting off work ever is hard. Thankfully, Jeffrey is very sweet to me and Sophie and lets me go off on my own sometimes. Usually I want to stay home to be with them, but when I’m particularly frustrated it’s nice to be alone to grocery shop, have dinner with a friend, or even take a normal length shower.

There’s actually been a majorly huge, bigger than big change in our lives: We’ve moved from this home! My husband, daughter, dog, and I are in the process of moving to Indy to be closer to family. We’re so fortunate to be welcomed by my sister to live with their family for three weeks while we wait to close on our new home. It’s quite perfect, actually, because she has two little ones, and having all three girls spending more time with each other is amazing!

Finding our home was super easy, as was selling our home! I’m beginning to think something terrible may happen soon since we’ve been so lucky with everything in our lives. I went to Indy to check out 17 homes in one day, and realized our price range was not reasonable. My husband and I both went back a week later and saw ten more houses, fell in love with one, and put an offer in that day. This home had two showings on the first evening, and we got an offer for full price that night.

The transition as been incredibly fast. I’m just starting to have time to realize the impact of moving from a place I called home. Coming from such a strong-knit neighborhood has me worried for what’s to come in our new neighborhood. I’m also struggling with having to go back to work rather than spending my days with Sophie. I’m worried I won’t know her as well if I’m away from her. My husband has been so strong, patient, and gracious during this whole process, which has made a huge impact on my feelings towards the move. The hardest part so far has been watching Sophie say goodbye to her friends. I’m thankful we’re moving to Indiana now while Sophie’s too young to have too many close friends in Illinois.

We’ve only been away from our home for one day, so it feels like I’m just here for a weekend trip. Our friends will be the number one thing I miss about living there. I’ll miss the deck and Sophie’s room a lot, as well. I didn’t tear up when we left until I stopped in Sophie’s room, realizing she’ll never sleep there again. We wouldn’t be making such a huge change in our happy situation if we didn’t know it will be even happier closer to our family. I’m really excited to know all of my family better, without having to rely so much on FaceTime.

I wish someone had told me if there’s something you’re nervous about, just press on because what’s on the other side will be amazing.

Thankfully, I have a lot of wise people in my life so I’ve been told a lot of good advice like communicate with your husband, sleep while your baby sleeps, don’t be afraid to ask, and be kind. The thing that I’m learning now, from past experiences, is to be brave. I’m not especially brave but when I have been brave in the past it’s always brought me great happiness. For me, the bravest thing I’ve ever done is to leave my friends and family to take a semester off school and work in Disney. It doesn’t sound like a hard decision to most people, but I was terrified.

Thankfully, I took the leap and it was one of the happiest times of my life. Be brave.


Be brave, indeed! I think you’re right: So many of us would say “Disney?! That sounds like so much fun!” But change is change, no matter how fun it might be in the end. Thank you for showing us around Sophie’s first home. I hope Indiana will be good to you all!

When Shelly said, “I’m beginning to think something terrible may happen soon since we’ve been so lucky with everything in our lives.” it made me pause and think for a bit. I sometimes worry the same way. Do you, as well? Why do we do that? Why can’t we just enjoy the fabulous while it’s happening? And then I consider the opposite concern: if everything is going poorly, when will some luck finally hit? We’ve all probably experienced both sides of that coin. If you’ve got any solutions to avoiding that sort of thinking, please share! We will all benefit.

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! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.