Operation Escalones Posts

31 Days {Day 7} – Homeschool Room Reveal

31 Days {Day 7} – Homeschool Room Reveal

31 days logo new

Welcome back to the 31 Days of Mary, Martha, & Sparta! If you missed it, here is the link to yesterday’s post!


Happy Wednesday!

I’ve been trying to post this all day! Technology is just not my friend, you guys….

Now that I’ve cried a little, yelled a little, and begged my computer to be kind, it’s time to finally reveal my homeschool room!

I haven’t really gone into why we homeschool so much, but have no fear – we have another 24 days!

Today, we’re just talking logistics.

First of all, this room used to be our playroom. We had a full-sized basketball hoop up there, and not much else. The boys really needed room to run around and play basketball. Plus, we don’t do toys, really.

IMG_7873 IMG_7872

It was time for the hoop to go outside – as the boys got bigger, their jumping caused more and more of a raucous. Not to mention… it knocked a few light bulbs and light fixtures out of the fan in the dining room directly below the loft.

Operation Escalones {#18} – Finish the Project

Operation Escalones {#18} – Finish the Project

Wow, you guys. I’m a bad blogger!

I mean technically, it’s not all my fault, but still.

Operation Escalones {#17} – Progress Report

Operation Escalones {#17} – Progress Report

I’m Baaaaaack!

Oh it’s been so insane, you guys.

So super busy, but starting to be more full of fun and life again.

First off, let me wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

I have so much to be grateful for, and right now, in this moment, I am so grateful for all of you and for your commitment to what we’re doing here. This has become something so much greater than I could have imagined, and I am so glad that you and I get to be a part of what God is doing here.

I’ve really enjoyed hearing from you guys and chatting with you all on Facebook, now that I’ve made my hesitant return. Let’s keep that up!

Okay, enough chit chat. We’ve got a long post today. With lots of pictures. So buckle up!

Remember that a couple weeks ago, I had a post with the Operation Escalones List for Ty’s new office?

Our lives are still pretty much all about the office.

Well, that’s not entirely true, but it’s not very inaccurate, either.

Anyway, the big stuff is done, and we are down to all of the little stuff that makes it complete. The finishing touches, if you will.

But this post is all about the big stuff.

Here’s the list again, to refresh your memory.

Office To Do List

Before we get started, let me just say that we have THE BEST friends in the whole wide world.

Our friend, Jared, laid the tile in the office, and helped us move from the old office. Just two weeks after his knee surgery (see how he’s standing in every picture?). That’s friendship.




Our friend, Austin, left his wife, Calli, with a weeks old baby and two preschoolers at home, and FLEW from Minnesota for five days and helped us with…well, pretty much all construction. Bless Calli. He packed a couple clothes, and then filled the rest of his suitcase with tools.



With his help, the wall in the reception area came down, a new wall went up in the break area, and the wood floors got laid in both the entry and break area.





Our other friends came at all hours of the day and night and helped us paint EVERY. SINGLE. WALL. We had to cover up that ugly brown that covered every square inch of the place. We had a girls night painting and chatting at the office. We had a painting day, when my mom, Ty’s mom, Laura, and Dan came to help.

Lisa kept all the children while the rest came and helped, and watched our kids to let me have some kid-free work hours.





 Victor and Melissa came to the office to build all of the 27 chairs we bought for the office. I’m not joking. We built 27 chairs.

The kids even got in on the action.




We ate a lot of take-out.



We even had to ask Siri a few questions…


Ty sustained an injury, finally putting the first aid kit to good use.



It was definitely a construction zone. Look at all of this dust. It’s insane how covered in dust everything – and everyone – was. There were screws, tape, tools and scraps of everything everywhere. EVERYWHERE. No, but really.




Now, I’m not going to show you all of the final pictures, with final touches, because it’s just too good not to make it its own post.

So, I guess we will call this the progress post.

Next time, you will see furniture come in, paint be finished, floors vacuumed, and things hung on the wall.

Until then….I hope you don’t get hives from looking at the messes like I do. Gosh I’m so glad this part of our lives will soon be over for a while. Construction is exhausting!

Stay tuned for the rest of the progress we’ve made.

I hope you have a wonderful day with your friends and family!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Operation Escalones {#16} – Brand Spankin’ New Office!

Operation Escalones {#16} – Brand Spankin’ New Office!

Oh mercy, you guys.

Wait until you see what we have been up to in the Schraufnagel life lately!

But you’re just gonna have to keep on waiting, because you have to see the list and the before pictures first. Then, piece by piece, I will post the reveal for you!

So here’s the scoop.

A couple of years ago, Ty had his American Family Insurance agency housed in a stand-alone building in a town about 10 minutes from our house. It was just what we needed for the time the agency was there. It was close to home, in a small town where he could get super connected and involved.

Then a few years later (about a year ago), we made a big leap of faith and moved the agency to another town the same distance away, but in the other direction. It was a huge move for us that took a lot of prayer and consideration. It seemed pretty clear that God was telling us that it was what we needed to do, so we did it. For the last year we have been so happy with the way things were going and the life the new space was affording us by giving us more time together and breathing room for our sanity.

So imagine our surprise when God made it pretty clear, through a series of events, it was time for us to move into a bigger space. It wasn’t a fun time in our lives at all. We were sad, confused, a little bit angry, and a lot bit surprised. Why would God ask us to upend our great situation from where we were before to move to a new place and finally let us right the ship from the craziness of moving just to rip it all apart again?

Despite our total shock and sadness, we decided to trust that God had something much better in store for us than what we had now. We started looking for a space with the faith that the space where we’d end up would be just the best there was.

And you know what’s funny? We found it. Right down the row from the space where we have been for the last year.


God is funny, isn’t He?

It’s 13 suites down from the suite of his current office. We can walk our stuff from the old office to the new office.

But there were some things about this new office that weren’t quite up to par for operating an insurance agency.

Some walls needed to get knocked down, other walls needed to be built, the carpets needed to be cleaned, and the bathroom needed to be redone.

So without further ado…here is the Operation Escalones list of major projects for Ty’s new office!

Office To Do List

So as you can see…there was a lot of work to be done. There is another list coming of finishing touches, but that’s another post all together.

Here was the catch. We technically only had two weeks before we needed to be out of one office, and into the new office.

Knowing that, did you just curl up in the fetal position looking at the list again? No? Yeah no, I didn’t either…..

Of course, God had another blessing in mind for us. We had some of our closest friends come to help us.

I’ll show you all of their handiwork as we unveil all the projects!

For now…here are all of the before pictures.


This is the view you got right when you walked in the door. Can you see that there is a doorbell by the door? I don’t get it either. Here’s what’s on the other side of the door…


Just a big, long, dark hallway. There are two offices and a conference room to the right of the hallway.


This is an office. And actually, the conference room is just a longer version of the offices.


This looks toward the back door. Around the corner of this little wall is the bathroom and where all the IT wires are.




But here’s the worst part of the office….the bugs. The office has been vacant for quite a while, and the bugs piled up!

If you look closely, you can see the bugs in this picture. All those little lumps on the floor…crickets and mouse poop. It’s like this and worse all over the office. It is so gross!


Can you see that we have our work cut out for us? Holy smokes!

Wait until you see what two weeks of HARD HARD work can do in an office!!

Stay tuned….

Operation Escalones {#15} – Do the Whole List

So normally for an Operation Escalones post I will give you a little project list and then slowly cross off the items on the list as I do them — at a rate of about one per week.

Not so this week.

Two weeks ago I went a little stir-crazy at home. We’ve been home a lot more because it’s summer, and I’ve been in my space in much more concentrated amounts lately. Plus, it’s Arizona hot so we really only venture outside to swim and then quickly retreat back to the air conditioning as soon as we can.

So I started making a list of the things that had been driving me crazy and the things I’d like to get done. It turned out to be a pretty big list. I started making some plans, but then I realized that I had a sort of deadline. It was self-imposed, of course, but a deadline nonetheless – we were hosting a birthday party for one our sweet friends’ little boy!

That meant I had two weeks to get the big stuff done. So here’s the list I started with:

Home Makeover List


And here is what it looks like after 2 weeks:

Crossed off Home Makeover List

Let’s start at the top.

I have been wanting to change one side of my pantry into a mudroom for some time now. There were WAY too many shelves in there, and I wouldn’t even want to fill them up with stuff or food! These shelves are on the other side, too, and that’s where we’ve put our food.


So I decided to take the shelves down and put up a pallet wall. My dad helped me pull down the shelves.


I got some pallets from a friend and my dad helped me saw them apart.


I was going to try to deconstruct them, but it was way way way too much time and effort for us, so my dad agreed to bring his saw over and help me. 2 hours and a LOT of sweat later, we had plenty of pieces!


Sorry they’re in black and white…I had the filter on, but I didn’t notice in the bright light outside…I must’ve hit the filter with my big work glove fingers. Oops!

Since there are too many resources and tutorials about how to make a pallet wall, I feel like I don’t need to do a whole post on it. Unless I hear otherwise, I’ll just give you a quick rundown here.

I stained the pieces with a mahogany stain, and since all the wood was different, it all ended up different shades – which looked beautiful!


I drilled holes in the corners of the boards and then nailed them to the wall, alternating which side of the wall I started on to keep the lines from matching up. Aidan even helped out!


You’ll see that the whole item isn’t crossed out. That’s because the edge pieces have mostly been cut (again, by my wonderful dad), but not hung yet. Maybe sometime this week when I get motivated again. Then I can post a picture of the completed project!

Next was making some shelves for our master bathroom. I’ve been wanting something to hang over the bathtub to hold towels and maybe some candles, or whatever. I just really really don’t like towel racks. I’m not sure why, but they’re just not my favorite look.

I also needed shelves for the movie room to hold the DVD player and the cable box, and one outside under the TV to hold the cable box. Without shelves, the cable boxes were dangling under the TV (classy), and the DVD player was sitting on the floor.


So I found this pin on Pinterest and fell in love.


via Pinterest

I went to Home Depot and got all the supplies for all the projects I was working on. I had to choose the right screws to hang the shelves, the paint color for my room, the right size pipes for the shelves, the right piece of wood for the shelves, etc. My mother-in-law kept the kids so that my mom and I could focus. Good thing she did, because it ended up being over 2 hours at Home Depot.

I stained the shelves with the stain from the pallet wall, and spray painted the metal pieces black, just like the post I found. Again, I’m not doing a tutorial…the blog where I got the idea did an awesome job, and I don’t want to steal her thunder. Go check it out!



I have yet to hang the shelf under the outside TV because I have to drill into stucco, and I feel like I should do some research about drilling into stucco before I just go out and do it.

Another item on the list was to put hooks in the guest bathroom instead of the towel rack. After this project, all of the towel racks in my home have been officially removed. I have yet to find the right solution for our extra bathroom upstairs, but for now the towels are folded prettily, and it’s not used very often, so it’ll work while I keep looking.

These hooks were on clearance at Target, and I fell in love with them because the picture in our guest room is of a bird in a bird house, and it just seemed perfect to hang these in the guest bathroom! Plus, they were on clearance – BONUS!



The next project was ALL MY MOM. She has a sewing business and she does custom drapes, pillows, bedspreads, etc. A fabric store was going out of business in our area, and you guys…we bought half the store. We went multiple times. I think it’s safe to say that I bought over 100 yards of fabric for various projects, so stay tuned for a post about all the things my mom is making with all of this fabric. She probably bought double what I bought, if not more.


That was only one trip for me.

The fabric on our outdoor cushions was dying with the heat of 5 Arizona summers, so it was time to recover them. Of course, I got the fabric on super steep clearance, so the whole project ended up costing about what it would’ve cost to buy one set of cushions on the chairs.

I had 4 chairs and a loveseat that needed to be recovered.

And she delivered big time!



Aren’t they beautiful?!?!

I just swooned a little bit. Again.

My mom is seriously amazing with this stuff. She’s made every curtain in our house, most bedspreads, every throw pillow, and now all the patio furniture!

Next was painting the master bedroom.

When we moved in, we were lucky enough to have a painter come in and paint every. single. wall. I loved every color — with one exception.

The color I picked for our master bedroom was seriously disgusting. I don’t know where the breakdown happened, whether it was the lighting in the picture I took it from was wrong, if I pointed out the wrong color on the paint chip, or if he got the wrong color. Whatever happened, our room looked like an Easter egg.

It was supposed to be a smoky grey-purple.


I lived with it for about a year because I was being too lazy to do anything about it, but enough was enough and it was time to fix it!

I picked a very dark eggplant color, and you guys…I don’t know what took me so long to do it. I absolutely adore the color that it is now, and I can’t believe I lived in that Easter egg for so long!

It did take 3 coats of the paint with the primer (which, in my opinion, did nothing, so I will be questioning using that again next time…). It was definitely a whole day and a half of painting, but well worth it.


I feel like we went from a little girl’s room (gone wrong) to a romantic, lovely grownup room! It’s just beautiful!



The last project was another one that fell to my mom. She made me some great throw pillows to add to the reading room. The couch looked a little sparse, and the pillows I had on the chevron chairs were just not working. I think I’ll be moving those to the guest room.



So there you have it!

I feel so refreshed and proud of all that got accomplished these last two weeks! I definitely couldn’t have done it without some help!

Be looking for a guest post from my dad in the next few weeks…he kept muttering under his breath about how he was writing a “Men against Pinterest” post as he was cutting all the pallets in the 100 degree heat. But I’m so so grateful that he did it — it was so helpful and it looks so good!

And of course, there was my mom who sewed her little fingers off! She’s amazing and does the best work. If you ever have any custom work you’d like done, she’s for sure your girl! (Like that plug? But for reals…call her.)

And my mother-in-law had a sleepover at her house so that I could spend forever painting my room…she’s a rock star!

What are some things that you would like to get done around your house? Any fun decorating projects? Organizing projects? I want to hear about them — leave me a comment! 

Operation Escalones {#14} – The Dungeon Closet

Operation Escalones {#14} – The Dungeon Closet

So today I had an extra hour….

Ha! Just kidding!

Okay seriously. Pick yourself up off the floor. No one has an extra hour!

But really, you guys. I did something spontaneous in an hour today — I cleaned out the dungeon bathroom closet!

It’s been driving me a little crazy for a while now.

It’s one of those things that doesn’t really affect my life in a seriously irritating way — like stuff right in the middle of the stairs.  It’s just the kind of thing that bugs me every time I open the door to grab something, and reminds me that I really need to do something about it before things start falling off of the shelves randomly.

So here’s what it looked like before…

Bathroom Closet1

Nothing super crazy.

But then this is what it looks like more up-close.

Bathroom Closet2 Bathroom Closet3

We travel so much that we have a bajillion travel sized things. It’s like a tiny little grocery store for fairies.

So I needed a way to wrangle all of it.

Remember from my learning closet that I am in love with the little plastic bins?

Well I used a bunch of them in this closet, too!

Here is how I used them for the travel sized items:

Shower-related items (shampoo/conditioner, body wash, shaving cream, etc.)

Lotion and perfumes

Toothbrushes and toothpaste

Face wash and face lotion

Bathroom Closet6

Next to the bins, I put all of the different bags that we use for toiletries when we travel, including quart-sized zip top bags for going through airport security.

I grouped other like items together and put them in other bins.

Bathroom Closet7 Bathroom Closet8

I put the toilet paper down low because it’s the perfect height for the kids to be able to reach it and change out the roll — they’re getting pretty good at it!

Bathroom Closet5

The plastic drawer on the bottom is full of nail polishes and other nail tools. And of course, there are the froggy slippers. They’re so comfortable and dorky at the same time — does it get better? Ty hates them. I love them.

But I digress.

This is what the closet looks like now!

Bathroom Closet4

I hope this helps you to see that it just really doesn’t take much time to pull some things back into a little bit of order.

You’ll notice that there are no labels, no frilly or fancy containers. Just the things that I had on hand. I have a hard time throwing away an empty container, and that serves me well, as long as I have reasonable space to store them.

It doesn’t have to be a big dramatic overhaul — sometimes it’s just a matter of turning on a TV show for your kids and pulling everything out of a closet and putting it all back again with a little more thought!

What will you organize this week? Have you just decided that enough is enough and just started a project like this because it was just driving you bananas? I’d love to hear about it — let me know about in the comments! 

Operation Escalones {#13} – Learning Closet

Operation Escalones {#13} – Learning Closet

Happy Monday!

The project that I’m showing you today is one that took me about an hour and a half, and did not cost me any additional money.

Today I’m showing you the cleaning out of my learning closet. I keep all of the boys’ workbooks, coloring books and assorted arts and crafts, and all of their reading books and puzzles in this closet.

So here is what I started with…

Learning Closet01

Learning Closet07

Learning Closet05

Learning Closet04

Learning Closet03

It had been organized before, but I had just done a really terrible job of keeping it organized when I put things away. All the things that needed to go in this closet were in it…but they were just on top of all the other things.

Not great.

It just got away from me a little bit!

The time had come to take it out, reorganize and just start over…

So here is what it looked like once I started to take it all out of the closet.

Learning Closet10

Learning Closet08

It’s got to get worse before it gets better, right?

It’s amazing what you find when you pull all the junk out of a closet!

I mean, seriously, I could’ve put together a whole box of assorted cereals with the random pieces of cereal I found lurking in various bins, boxes, and corners.

Is anyone missing any socks? I think I found all of yours in my learning closet!

It felt good to throw away all of the half-colored pages, broken toys, and dried up markers.

I used the teal patterned cardboard file boxes to group workbooks, coloring books, blank paper, and scrap paper together. I also put spare workbooks and extra papers in them.

I used the blue plastic bins to separate crayons, markers, pipe cleaners, stickers, etc.

I also moved a lot of the kids’ games downstairs from the closet upstairs so that they can get to them a little more easily. They’re with all of the other puzzles and learning games.

Also, even though this is the “learning” closet, I put the cars downstairs because they roll so much more easily on the tile instead of on the carpet.

So here is how we ended up!

Learning Closet20

Learning Closet13

Learning Closet14

Learning Closet17

The kids have really enjoyed having this all organized. Now they can go in and pull things out without fear of the resulting concussion from falling debris.

They also know where things go again, so they can put them away properly.

What a relief!

I used what was already in there, but to be honest, most of the storage cost less than $5 each.

The file boxes were from the Dollar Spot at Target. The crates were $3 on sale at Walmart. The blue plastic bins were $0.75 at Walmart on sale, and now I can’t find them in that color anymore. I’m so glad I bought about 30 when I had the chance — I use them all over my house!

So even if you didn’t have any storage, I would guess that the amount of money you’d spend on the different organization would be no more than about $35.

Do you have a closet like this where things just overflow out the door?? Did you get any chunks of your to-do list done this week?

Operation Escalones {#12} – Tat It Up!

Operation Escalones {#12} – Tat It Up!

Last weekend, I crossed something off my bucket list, and off of my to do list.

It’s something that surprised more than a few of the people closest to me.

I got a tattoo.

It’s on my foot, and I’m absolutely in love with it.

But no one knows what it means, so that’s what this post is about today.

The words on the arch of my foot read “ezer kenegdo“. It’s Hebrew, and it’s what God called woman when He created her, long before her name was Eve.


‘ezer in Hebrew is commonly translated as “helper” or something similar, but in my study of the word, it seems that the more accurate translation is “power” or “strength”.

“Therefore, could we conclude that Genesis 2:18 be translated as ‘I will make a power [or strength] corresponding to man.’ ” (source)

It’s important to me that you understand that I did not get this tattoo because of how this term applies to me simply as a wife and a mother, but also how it applies to me as a woman.

The following, bolded text is an excerpt from the book “Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul” by John and Stasi Eldredge. It’s long, but it’s what really sparked my interest in the term ezer kenegdo.

When God creates Eve, He calls her an ezer kenegdo. “It is not good for the man to be alone, I shall make him [an ezer kenegdo]” (Gen. 2:18 Alter). Hebrew scholar Robert Alter, who has spent years translating the book of Genesis, says that this phrase is “notoriously difficult to translate.” The various attempts we have in English are “helper” or “companion” or the notorious “help meet.” Why are these translations so incredibly wimpy, boring, flat…disappointing? What is a help meet, anyway? What little girl dances through the house singing “One day I shall be a help meet?” Companion? A dog can be a companion. Helper? Sounds like Hamburger Helper. Alter is getting close when he translates it “sustainer beside him.” 

The word ezer is used only twenty other places in the entire Old Testament. And in every other instance the person being described is God himself, when you need him to come through for you desperately.

There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you…Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. (Deut. 33: 26, 29, emphasis added) 

I lift up my eyes to the hill — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Ps. 121:1-2, emphasis added)

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May He send you help. (Ps. 20:1-2 emphasis added)

We wait in hope for the Lord, He is our help and our shield. (Ps. 33:20, emphasis added)

O house of Israel, trust in the Lord — He is their help and shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord — He is their help and shield. You who fear Him, trust in the Lord – He is their help and shield. (Ps. 115:9-11, emphasis added) 

Most of the contexts are life and death, by the way, and God is your only hope. Your ezer. If He is not there beside you…you are dead. A better translation therefore of ezer would be “lifesaver.” Kenegdo means alongside, or opposite to, a counterpart.

You see, the life God calls us to is not a safe life. Ask Joseph, Abraham, Moses, Deborah, Esther — any of the friends of God from the Old Testament. Ask Mary and Lazarus; ask Peter, James, and John; ask Priscilla and Aquila — any of the friends of God in the New Testament. God calls us to a life involving frequent risks and many dangers. Why else would we need Him to be our ezer? You don’t need a lifesaver if your mission is to be a couch potato. You need an ezer when your life is in constant danger. 

Picture the character Arwen in the mythic motion-picture trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. Arwen is a princess, a beautiful and brave elf maiden. She comes into the story in the nick of time to rescue the little hobbit Frodo just as the poisoned wound moving toward his heart is about to claim him. 

ARWEN: He’s fading. He’s not going to last. We must get him to my father. I’ve been looking for you for two days. There are five wraiths behind you. Where the other four are, I do not know. 

ARAGORN: Stay with the hobbits. I’ll send horses for you. 

ARWEN: I’m the faster rider. I’ll take him. 

ARAGORN: The road is too dangerous.

ARWEN: I do not fear them. 

ARAGORN: (Relinquishing to her, he takes her hand.) Arwen, ride hard. Don’t look back. 

It is she, not the warrior Aragorn, who rides with glory and speed. She is Frodo’s only hope. She is the one entrusted with his life and with him, the future of all Middle Earth. She is his ezer kenegdo

That longing in the heart of a woman to share life together as a great adventure — that comes straight from the heart of God, who also longs for this. He does not want to be an option in our lives. He does not want to be an appendage, a tagalong. Neither does any woman. God is essential. He wants us to need Him — desperately. Eve is essential. She has an irreplaceable role to play. And so you’ll see that women are endowed with fierce devotion, an ability to suffer great hardships, a vision to make the world a better place. 

– Stasi Eldredge, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul

This is the conclusion I’ve reached in all of my studies.

The woman was created to be a warrior. She was meant to be a warrior because the battle for souls, for our husbands, for our children is fierce and the mission is monumental.

It doesn’t wait for a woman to become a wife or a mother. It begins because she is female — from the beginning.

God created a team — man and woman. They are the perfect complement to each other. Each has their own special skills, callings, and expectations, but their mission is the same. In order to win the war, all soldiers must fight with their own specialities.

If each soldier gets concerned with being just like the other, the division will destroy the team. They need to be confident of their calling, secure in their mission, tasks, and skills.

My tattoo is on my foot because I never want to forget that I am in a battle.

I’ve been called to fight for the souls of all men, women, and children.

More specifically, for me…I am a partner with Ty in a battle for the hearts and souls of my family.

I am a woman.

I was created to fight. To be a warrior in a battle of all battles.

An ‘ezer kenegdo.


Do you feel like you are in a battle? Are you ready to be a warrior? Do you have any tattoos that have any special meaning to you? I’d love to hear about them! 

For more explanation of the term ‘ezer kenegdo, see this site here. Carolyn was the speaker at our women’s conference this year, and she blew me away.