Monday, October 16, 2017

Books I've Read and A Couple On My List to Read

I never categorized myself as a "reader" or someone who was knowledgeable about a variety of information. Mainly, because I dislike reading books. But what I've found out about myself (and wish I knew this sooner) is that I actually enjoy reading books that are based on true life events/stories and memoirs. 

It all began about 5 months ago when I first picked up this book from our local library. A blogger I've been following for a few years now strongly recommended it to her readers and the way she wrote about this particular book really captured my attention. It was hard to put Ruth Wariner's book down at night once I began reading it. Usually, when I read something, I can't wait to be done with it, but this book was different. And the way Ruth told her story was powerful. She is definitely a strong woman who has overcome a lot. 

After reading her book, I decided to check out a few others on this blogger's list. Here are some that I've read since then. (I also have 2 others I haven't currently read yet and hope to by the end of this year, but I'll get to those at the end of this post).

#2. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
The Invention of Wings

This novel tells the story of 2 women in the early nineteenth century. One is an urban slave, Hetty, who desires to know what life is like outside of the Grimke household where she works tirelessly. Sarah Grimke wants to do more with her life than what is expected of her as she develops a close friendship with Hetty, her handmaid. The story is loosely based upon the historical figure of Sarah Grimke and that is probably why it was a little hard for me to really get into this book, but I did like it. I believe it received great reviews overall and one I would recommend if you enjoy fiction and history.

#3. Missoula by John Krakauer
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This novel is based on true events that took place in a college town called Missoula at the University of Montana. The University of Florida is my Alma mater and, like most big universities, is known for it's college parties among other things. So this particular novel captured my attention because the events happened at such a well-known and big university (and sadly take place anywhere). The main stories in this book are about multiple accounts of sexual assault that took place and were reported to the Missoula police department. Whether or not you attended a large university, I recommend this book as it not only talks about a serious crime and gives alarming statistics about sexual assault, but it also prepares me as a mom for how to talk to my kids about such things in the future. 
#4. The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
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Chip and Joanna Gaines are pretty well-known "celebrities" at this point who are known for their great design ideas, hard work, and beautiful family. What this book shares is the hard work that got them to where they are now and they boldly declare that they couldn't have done it without God (who never left their side through it all). I enjoyed reading this one- it was light, funny, and uplifting and I loved how Joanna talks about meeting Kara Tippetts and how that changed her perspective on things. I especially enjoyed reading about the Gaines' faith and trust in God and seeing how He has fulfilled their dreams even more so than what they could have ever imagined.  

#5. Little Bee by Chris Cleave

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This novel was a bit interesting to me- I definitely liked it overall, but there were some parts that were hard to believe- mainly about some of the details that were written between the two characters. Again, this was probably due to the fact that this novel is fiction. Nevertheless, this is a good dual-narrative novel about a Nigerian asylum-seeker and a British magazine editor who meet in an unlikely place. I'd recommend this one if you enjoy an uncomplicated plot with a twist at the end.

**The following two books are on my list to read next, but I'll share what I've heard about them. They were graciously gifted to me by my husband for my birthday. :)

#6. Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis (now Katie Majors)

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I've been following Katie's story since the beginning of this year and am a little familiar with her outreach in Uganda through Amazima Ministries. Her story is pretty amazing as she unapologetically shares her passion to follow Jesus. I'm looking forward to reading more about her personal story and the story of the lives that have been drastically changed by her outreach through Christ's love.
P.S.- I recently watched her on an interview with the Today Show and she radiated such joy! She was genuine and not ashamed to talk about her relationship with Christ. 

#7. The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts 
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Oh this story, how I'm a little nervous to read it through it's entirety, but I also can't wait too. This story is about the lovely Kara Tippetts who passed into the arm's of Jesus not too long ago after a long and hard struggle of stage 4 breast cancer. She left behind her beautiful 4 young children and her husband- who have chosen joy through all this hard. I began following Kara's blog before she wrote and published this book a few years ago and even though I did not know her personally, her story just really spoke to me and had me on my knees praying for her and her family. Her blog is still up and running strong with the help of her close and dear friends.
I know this will be a tough, tough read, but I also know Kara lived life knowing God was and is who He says He is and she always said that in "the midst of hard, He met her." I don't know how one lives life not knowing what will happen afterwards, but I'm thankful she knew Him and is no longer suffering. 

If you've read any of these on this list, I'd love to hear about it!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

DIY Desks in Girls Room- Made from Nightstands

There has always been this little spot in the corner of the girls shared bedroom that I just never knew what to do with. This little spot has housed dressers, nightstands, and a dollhouse, but something just seemed off about each change I kept making to it.
One day while talking to my husband about it, he suggested putting desks there for the girls. Before the addition of their desks, they would play with their dolls or color and draw on the floor (and there is nothing wrong with that!), but I knew that if we could somehow make desks for them they would finally have their own space to play, color and draw, while keeping toys, crayons, and markers off the floor.

One night while thinking about desk ideas, I remembered we had these $5 nightstands I bought at a thrift store years ago. One was being used in our bedroom and the other was just sitting in my son's closet not serving any purpose. I knew I could swap out my nightstand for one that was in our room already and convert these 2 matching nightstands we already owned into desks.
My husband said the project would be doable and figured we should give it a try!

We went to Home Depot and looked at all of our wood options and bought simple 1X3's which cost us about $16 total.

So if this worked out, it would only cost us about $21 for BOTH desks!! Holla! That would be a good deal. Plus, the paint I wanted to use for these was given to me by a friend from church who had a bunch of samples left over from a project she did a while ago. Hooray!!!

I also took this $5 chair (another thrift store find a couple years back) and added pink chevron fabric that I saved from a project I did last year. Sometimes it pays to save things. ;)

Putting the desks together was fairly an easy process. My husband cut all the wood to the size we wanted and attached them with screws.

I added some caulk along the edges of where the boards met the side of the desk so there wouldn't be a gap.

Because of the size and dimensions of our desks, the legs were a bit wobbly, so I made a quick trip to Wal-Mart and bought a packet of L-brackets in order to keep the wobbling at a minimum. It's been working well so far!

All I had to do was paint the desks and sand them...and then they were ready to be used! And boy have our girls been using them everyday!

Here are some pictures of their room with the finished desks.


To read about the painted doors, go here.

Also, if you are interested in making doll bunk beds, Ana White has some great plans on how to do that. She is definitely a very talented woman!

We've had the desks in here for about a week, and they are seeing good use. 
It's so sweet to see my girls play together. There's plenty of arguing in between those moments for sure, but it makes us happy when they show grace and love to each other. 

Saving money tip: If you are looking to save and not splurge on children's desk, check out your local thrift store(s) for inexpensive nightstands. They usually carry tons! We bought ours for $5 a piece. Just make sure to look for ones that have an opening at the bottom so you can slide chairs or ottomans easily underneath. 
The nightstands we purchased years ago had legs that were easily removable and all we did was add longer wooden legs to them. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Part 2 {Family Trip to the N.C. Mountains}

In my last post, I mentioned that I would write up a Part 2 of our family trip to the mountains. I finally got the photos downloaded and ready to post, so I''ll be sharing that with you all today! Just a warning, this is going to be a very long post. It might possibly be one of the longest posts I've ever published!

Day 3: Hang out at the cabin in the morning, gem mining, and trout fishing.

Sweet, sweet photo
Mema reading little man's favorite book, "The Little Train." We could read this to him every day and he would never tire of it. He is in love with all things trains. :)

 Gem Mining in Cherokee, NC.

The girls had a blast "mining for gems" and got to take home a couple bags of what they found. They got to sift through a large bag of dirt to uncover their gems. Definitely a fun activity for little ones.

Lydia bug and her Aunt Kathleen sifting through the next batch. :)

This guy didn't have too much patience for all the sifting...haha. He was more than happy exploring the outdoor area of the mining place...and heading for this Coke machine which he thought would just give him the drink of his choice without paying (with just a push of a button). He was a little upset to find out he had to put money into the machine in order to get a drink, which we did not. ;)

In the afternoon, we went to a trout farm to go fishing while little man stayed back at the cabin with Mema and Aunt Kathleen. The girls really, really wanted to fish with their Poppie, so we were excited to find a trout farm somewhat nearby. I was actually surprised at how much fun we all had! We easily spent a couple of hours at the place and what was even more exciting was we got to take home and cook what we caught! 

Checking in!

Getting the rods ready for fishing.

The girls patiently waited for the rods to be ready for use.

Lydia caught the first fish within minutes!! One lady commented by saying, "That a girl! Show these boys how it's done!" Haha.
After that quick first catch, it took the rest of us anywhere from about 40 minutes to an hour to catch the rest of our supply. I'm thinking Lydia bug has a future in this fishing business. ;)

 Focusing on catching her fish and patiently waiting. Tessa did catch one too. She didn't want to leave without making her catch of the day. :)

 Eeekk....another one!! At the end of the day, we ended up catching 4 trout fish, which was more than enough to cook up for dinner.

We asked the girls if they wanted to see the fish being cleaned and cut so we could take them home to filet. They surprised us and said they wanted to see how it worked so they got right up there and watched the lady do it.

Once we got back to the cabin, my husband got ready to begin cooking the trout and little man began opening his presents for this birthday.

One of the gifts he received was from his sweet Aunt Kathleen and Uncle Mark. It was a Melissa and Doug zoo truck with animals inside. He loved it and graciously let his sisters play some with it too. 

After cooking our trout and having a nice dinner with it and some delicious sides, we sang, "Happy Birthday" to Gavin and cut into his cupcake cake.

We had a little bit of trouble using one of the lighter's that the cabin offered, but after a little bit of trial and error, my husband was able to get the candles lit! Hooray!

Birthday boy!!!

You're 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After the cupcake cake, it was time to open up Gavin's next gift. This time he got a wooden train set from Mema and Poppie. He was pretty excited about it. In fact, when he got up and came downstairs the next day in the cabin, he said, "Toot, toot!" 
We actually had to hide the train set from him the next morning because otherwise, he wouldn't want to go anywhere without it. 
Out of sight, out of mind! 

Toot, toot!

Day 4: Clingman's Dome and a nice afternoon/evening at the cabin.
Our oldest and youngest went with us to Clingman's Dome in the Smoky Mountains on Day 4 of our trip. It was not a long hike mile-wise, but it was pretty steep, so our youngest was held most of the way. 
Although, I will say that he did a good amount of walking as well...especially on the walk back down. ;) Pretty impressive for his little leggies.

Family picture!

Stopping to pick some flowers. :)

Strike a pose! 
My does this girl love to pose for the camera. She doesn't get that from me (at least I don't think so...haha)

Such breath-taking views all around the place. 
I don't always look around at the world around me and think about God's handiwork (but I definitely should do that daily!!), but walking these trails and being in the mountains definitely was a good reminder of His handiwork.
So picturesque!

We let the kids climb up some of these larger rocks which was fun, and possibly a bit scary at times. 
These 2 were definitely feeling adventurous that day!

My girl making it to the top!

YAY!!! We finally made it! 
I love this photo!!

One of the views from the top of the dome.


Sweet boy stopping to pick up some rubble.

We found a Pokemon rock on our walk back down the trail. It said, "Hide or Keep" and had some information on it about Geocaching. The kids were excited to find a painted rock, ha. We actually ran into the lady and her son who put it there. We told them we would take the rock back to Hampton Roads and hide it there. ;)

My beautiful girl! We climbed these rocks at the bottom of the hike one last time.

After our hike, we had dinner and then played in the game room for a bit. This room was pretty sweet- there was a pool table, checkers game, air hockey, and Foosball table. It was definitely a hit for the kids, and the adults even got in on the action.
Poppie was showing the girls how to play pool.

Lydia enjoyed marking her pool table stick while waiting to be coached by Poppie.

Tessa and Poppie played air hockey for a bit, until Tessa realized she wasn't winning and then wanted to quit playing the game. It's safe to say she's a bit competitive. She definitely gets that from me. 
Hopefully, we can train her up to use that competitive spirit to work hard and not give up easily or get discouraged. I know that is still something I'm trying to work on, but don't always succeed at.

A couple family photos right before we left the cabin in the mountains.

See you later, Maggie Valley! 
We had a great trip and are very thankful for the memories shared.