April 30, 2018

April 2018 Family Update

We kicked off April with our Spring vacation. However, April 1st was also Easter. We couldn't fathom missing our 1st Easter at New Tribe so we delayed our departure by a few hours and it was definitely worth it! The church has grown so much since we started attending around Thanksgiving, so they launched a 2nd service on Easter Sunday. It was super exciting to be a part of the inaugural 9 am service! Since then Mike has been serving in the kid's ministry and I have become a part of the Welcome Team. After the struggle we faced last year trying to connect at various churches in the area, being a friendly face to a newcomer is something that has become near and dear to me despite how far it is outside my introverted bubble. Everyone is so genuine, friendly, and welcoming at New Tribe that it's pretty easy to follow their lead! Our small groups (ahem, Tribe Groups) also kicked off this past month and we are enjoying getting to know other families. Our little group is just precious to me. We are all at different stages of life and spirituality but we seem to click pretty well!

Ok, back to vacation. We spent a week in Washington DC and it was fabulous! There is no way to do everything in one week but that didn't stop us from trying. LOL! We visited...
  • Ford's Theatre
  • Spy Museum
  • Museum of Natural History - The gem exhibit was a highlight for me. 
  • Air & Space Museum - This was a favorite for Skylar. 
  • Botanical Gardens - It was orchid season but I loved the medicinal garden best.
  • Museum of the Bible - Absolutely fascinating! I could have spent another day here.
  • Arlington Cemetery - Saw the changing of the guard and visited several other areas. 
  • Annapolis & Chesapeake Bay 
  • Monument Tour - We did this at night and it was spectacular. Saw Lincoln, Jefferson, MLK, Vietnam, Roosevelt, WWII, Washington Monument, and the Cherry Blossoms which smelled amazing!
  • Capitol Building - We had a fabulous tour guide and also got to see Representative Cooper's office. 
  • Library of Congress 
  • Air & Space Hangar - This was a last-minute stop on our way out because Skylar enjoyed the other museum so much. I think we all really enjoyed this one! 
Now, I did all the historical things for my people because I love them but, truly, I vacation for the food! D.C. did not disappoint. I feel like we ate our way around the world while we were there. We also stayed in an awesome Air B&B in a residential brownstone area that was perfect for us! Despite us coming home exhausted, it really was a great trip! We also had a great house sitter while we were away. Ben did a great job keeping the BFF running and feeding our critters. 
Once we were home things didn't slow down. My workload is busier than ever and Mike made the decision to change companies. It's something we've been talking about since December and an opportunity presented itself so the time felt right. He's still settling in but we think this was a really good move for us personally and for him career wise. 

Softball season has also started back up. Skylar is with the same coach and many of the same girls from her team last year. They picked the team name, Blue Lightning this year and Opening Day was this past Saturday.  
Many of you know that I have dealt with depression almost my entire life and anxiety in the last few years. This past fall I began taking CBD oil and it has been a game changer. Despite the winter that didn't seem to want to end, this was my easiest cold season yet. Mike has also started taking it for his arthritis and joint pain and has finally stopped taking one million ibuprofen every day. He says he's sleeping better and it's helping his tummy troubles too. I'm even able to eat gluten for the first time in 3.5 years. Y'all I am such a believer in CBD oil that I became a distributor for the company. If you want more info, please let me know and I'll be happy to share. This stuff is amazing and is helping so many people in my life. 

The BFF got another upgrade this week and we checked another item off our list. Skylar has been driving our new 4-wheeler around everywhere.
This month I worked with 2 sweet families who are repeat clients. It's always exciting to help a mama welcome a new baby when we've worked together before. 

Our co-op has ended for this semester. We wrapped up with Field Day this past week, which is always the highlight at the end of the school year. Skylar also competed in 4H and won for 5th grade in Food Science in Wilson County. She moves on to sub-regionals this coming week. I'm so proud of her!!!
I think that will just about wrap it up for April. Stay tuned for May. Surely things will slow down a little bit. Oh wait. It's about to be grass cutting season again. LOL! 

March 31, 2018

March 2018 Family Update

Mike and I kicked off the month attending the Symphony where they dedicated the entire evening to songs by Frank Sinatra. We had awesome seats close enough to read the sheet music and we both enjoy Sinatra but we spent the entire night being entertained by the conductor's facial expressions. Ha!

We also found out this month that there is a cave here at the BFF. It was tight so there was a lot of mud and a lot of trust involved but we were pretty proud of ourselves.

Skylar and I attended the Teach Them Diligently Conference for the 5th year this month. This time I spent the majority of my time in the vendor hall, which is a drastic change from my first year. We have absolutely loved unschooling this past year and I greatly enjoy purchasing whatever items that I know will interest Skylar or just seem to catch my eye. It's so much less pressure yet results in so much more learning. This year I also opted to skip the childcare program and instead put her in robotics camp, which was fantastic! Then, I got to meet Ken Ham and had him sign one of Skylar's books. She flipped out! She thinks he's awesome. In fact, on the first night we had to sit on the very.front.row. to hear him speak. 

My sister in law took her kiddos to the Chattanooga Aquarium for their spring break and graciously allowed Skylar to tag along. She had a blast! For our Spring Break, our girl went to Birmingham, where she spent a week with various family who kept her busy sewing, shopping, movie watching, Easter egg hunting, and cave exploring. Mike and I enjoyed a little mental break and we finally saw The Greatest Showman. The soundtrack is my new Saturday cleaning music.

In case you've been following along. It's a month later and Metro Stormwater still hasn't finished our driveway but they did manage to get the sidewalls put up. Now we wait for steps 3 & 4, blacktop and grass seed. Maybe by summer. LOL! And then we can finally put up our real mailbox. Bless.

In other news, our garage that we built back in November finally got approved by the codes office this week (another looooong story) and we also reached a settlement with the insurance company from our rollover accident from last July. These things had really been weighing on me and stressing me out. I'm so thankful to have them off my plate. Big answers to prayer!

Next week we are headed to DC. Hope everyone has a Happy Easter!

February 28, 2018

February 2018 Update

February was pretty ho hum with the exception of the Olympics. Oh, how I love me some Olympics! Althought, I do miss the dual screen set up we had at our other house. Regardless, there were many late nights and lots and lots of pacing, cheering, screaming, and jumping up & down, as usual. Mike traveled to Knoxville for a 4-day work trip mid month so Skylar and I basically laid in bed and watched Olympics the whole time. LOL! And when we weren't watching Olympics we were homeschooling about Olympics. At 38 years old, I'm a brand new coffee drinker (I know, I know) but I had an added appreciation for that caffeine boost during the 2 weeks of the Olympics. I'm a committed fan and it involves a lot of late nights. Can't wait til next time! #Tokyo2020

Our church started a new Bible Study that we've been going to and it will run through March. The ladies meet on Tuesday nights and the guys meet on Wednesday nights but we are all studying the book of James. We've even been challenged to memorize the entire book. I'm currently on verse 12. Only 96 more to go! The suggested time frame to learn it is 5 months, which I think is probably doable. Focus on 1 chapter a month. I'm excited to challenge my brain with some memory work and I'm particularly excited because it's a big chunk so the entire thing will stay in context. When I haven't been working on my Bible study, I've been knitting. Skylar taught me how. Thank you homeschool co-op!

The BFF got a little upgrade a few weekends ago. We were able to purchase some tree seedlings for $1 a piece so we planted 15 new trees. There were 5 different varieties so I'm hoping this will help bring some color to our property in the fall.

I passed another kidney stone this month. Thank you, family genetics! It moved quickly and relatively easily but not without me waking everyone up and demanding to go to the ER. Mike was warming up the car when I had a sudden pinching pain and then everything eased up. I can't find any medical proof to my remedy but I've now passed 2 kidney stones almost instantly by using colloidal silver. It may be a total fluke. Guess I'll try it again next time and see if I can do it 3 times in a row. Not that I'm looking forward to it. The pain is seriously worse than childbirth. It's so intense and there is no break. Not even for a second. Since it was so short lived, we went on our planned field trip to First Freedom Bank. I seriously think this was one of the best field trips we have ever been on. We were so welcomed and everything was so nicely planned out perfectly for our group.

Have I mentioned our ongoing saga with Metro Stormwater? When we moved in last year I contacted them about our culvert because it was too short and the sides of our driveway entrance were falling off. We also have standing water every time it rains even just a little bit, but it has gotten progressively worse. They came and looked at the problem last March and agreed it needed to be fixed. For the record, we (along with every other resident in Davidson county) pay a stormwater fee every month that covers repairs like this. We received a notice that the work would be done in May 2017. It wasn't. I have called Metro every month since then and have been given every excuse in the book including "we don't know." In January 2018 I finally played the political card and got our local council person involved. Like magic, suddenly people were showing up to investigate the problem, mark water lines, and decide on the size of culvert needed. This past week they finally showed up to do the job. Well, they started on it. The new culvert is in but we are waiting on more gravel and blacktop. They also have to repair our neighbor's culvert as well because it was part of the flooding issue. But wouldn't you know it, they haven't been back. Guess I'm calling again on Monday.

Speaking of rain, I am SO over it. Beyond over it. We are a mere week or so away from Daylight Savings Time. That will help my mood tremendously but we are also getting ready to head into grass cutting season and the extra daylight will be much needed.

That's about it for February. For more pics click here. Now, on to March!

February 2018 in Pictures

We LOVE the Olympics! #teamUSA
I learned how to knit! 
Tree planting day!
I helped format a book and Skylar got a shot out in the acknowledgments. 

Bank Field Trip
Our buddy Harper came to visit! 
 Every time it rains our front yard becomes a pond. 
 Finally getting our entrance fixed. 

 The work so far. 
 Our sweet Onyx is getting so big!

February 17, 2018

BE THE CHANGE: School Shootings

Be the change you want to see in the world. 

The most recent mass school shooting sent my head spinning. It wasn't the tragedy so much as the one million opinions on Facebook on why this happened. The blame game, incessant arguing, and a demand for change. And there are lots of suggestions for why we have this problem and how to fix it. Yet, no one seems to have a quick solution on how to change our culture or implement their solutions on a grand scale. Why? Because it's a HUGE problem!

Me? I agree with all of you. I nod my head in agreement with every root cause.
  • It's the government's fault. (agree)
  • It's our parenting. (agree)
  • It's a culture issue. (agree)
  • It's because of Hollywood/media. (agree)
  • It's a mental health issue. (agree)
  • It's a medication issue. (agree)
  • It's a sin/heart/evil issue. (agree)

Honestly, there's not a one size fits all reason to these school shootings and that's frustrating. 

I'm also in agreement about how to solve this problem. But that's where my brain gets stuck. I don't know how to fix this on a large scale.
  • How in the world does one go about implementing stricter screening processes in every.single.state? 
  • How do we get around HIPAA laws to include medical information in background checks for gun applications?
  • How do we sync retail systems to monitor ammunition purchases?
  • How can we get every board of education to approve paid armed security for every school?
  • How do we keep guns away from the bad guys but still give the good guys the right to bear arms?
  • How do we (___fill in the blank___) on such a massive front?

I have racked my brain over who to call, where to write, or where to start for 2 days. Even if I knew where to start, it will take time (a lot of time) to get new laws and processes implemented. Let's be realistic here. 

Then, I saw this video. In fact, I've seen it before - the last time there was a mass school shooting. I thought "That's awesome! How come all schools don't have these? Surely they will work towards getting them now!" Nope. They didn't. Not on a large scale. This device is relatively inexpensive, especially compared to having a full-time armed guard, but is highly effective. I don't understand why this solution hasn't already been implemented.

I'm a big fan of the "be the change you want to see in the world" and "be a part of the solution, not part of the problem" philosophies. I do think law changes are coming but I'm tired of waiting. 

So here goes.... I called up my friend who is a teacher and showed her this video. I asked her what type of door she has in her classroom and ordered the appropriate device. It will be shipped to her directly.

I may not be able to solve the root cause of mass shootings but I can do something effective. I can't fix evil and I can't change laws but I can be proactive in protecting lives. 

I'm encouraging you to do the same. Yes, YOU!

The Challenge? We all know at least one teacher. Buy this for them. There is an option for every door type.

Is it a little pricey? Sure. But in comparison to their life and the lives of the kids they teach, it's priceless. 

I'm not taking any excuses here. 
  • If you can't afford one find a few friends and go in on it together. 
  • If you are a room mom, work with the other parents in your class to collect the funds to buy one for your child's teacher. 
  • If you are on the PTO, start a fundraiser. 
  • If you don't know a teacher, let me know and I'll connect you with one. 

Inward Swinging Door
Commercial Doors with Scissor Closure
Outward Swinging Door

If we are going to "Demand Change" we have to BE THE CHANGE!

*In full disclosure, these are Amazon affiliate links. For every purchase made, I get a small percentage back but pledge to use those funds towards additional purchases of the Barracuda Intruder Defense System for teachers.



February 2, 2018

5 Things I Learned After a Month of Fasting

We're coming off a month of fasting, which has been both challenging and refreshing. It's provided me with some insight of more than just spiritual proportions and I wanted to share my experience.

For starters, I have never fasted before. Not intentionally. In fact, I'm pretty sure just the word "fasting" made me feel awkward and had a bad connotation associated with it. In my mind fasting = starving. Prior to 2018, I have never been asked to fast or had the desire to fast. When our new church announced they were going to start the year with a fast for the month of January, I wasn't on board.

But, this is one of the things I love about New Tribe Church. They are challenging us in ways I've never known before. It's a little bit daunting yet exciting all at the same time. The invite always feels genuine and gentle. They have a way of making everyone, even the youngest or most inexperienced, feel unintimidated and welcome.

The plan was as follows.

Week 1 - Fast from sweets
Week 2 - Fast from social media
Week 3 - Fast from meats & sweets
Week 4 - water only for 24 hours

They tenderly encouraged the church body to participate. The instructions were basic and allowed room for the individual to define their own parameters. If you want to simply cut out desserts for week 1 - great! If you want to read every label and be completely devoid of sugar - also great! If you cheat - keep trying! Need to be on social media for work purposes - you are exempt.  If you have dietary restrictions that prevent you from doing water only - completely understandable. If you want to stack your fasts and keep them going simultaneously - by all means. If you want to focus on one at a time - totally acceptable.

The goal? Develop self-discipline, depend on the Lord for strength, subsequently grow closer to Him,  and participate as a church body to launch our year together. Those are things I could get on board with. Even when they used the phrase "starve the stomach, feed the soul" I wasn't completely turned off at this point. It seemed reasonable, doable, and worthy of my effort.

So, here's what I learned.

1. Kids can participate too. Since I have never actually uttered the word "fasting" to Skylar before, I wanted to approach it in a way that didn't feel awkward or have a poor expectation of the practice. We explained what we were doing, why we were doing it, and just as tenderly invited her to define her own parameters and participate. She decided to do 24 hours for every week that we did. She skipped all electronics one day during social media week and ultimately did not participate in the water only fast. I didn't want her introduction to fasting to be overly strict and negative and was pleased that she joined in her own way.

2. I have more willpower than I thought. Recently I've been thinking that my willpower is dwindling as I get older. Sometimes I feel like it's getting harder and harder to stay focused. The practice of fasting takes a lot of self-discipline. As adults, we have a lot of leeway and don't always practice self control and stretch this muscle. We want what we want when we want it- so we do it, or buy it, or eat it - because we can. I am grateful that I was encouraged to participate because I can see how fasting can benefit me in regular old life as well.

3. Social media week was T O U G H.  I was amazed at my muscle memory towards social media. Every time I grabbed my phone my thumb automatically pressed Facebook. Like, an unconscious movement. It's what I did during commercials, while on hold, waiting for water to boil, or even going to the bathroom. It became obvious in a hurry that social media had become a time filler. There were times that I would pick up my phone to do something else and literally be shocked at how my finger navigated towards that blue button. It was mind blowing!  For an introvert, Facebook is seriously the best invention ever. It allows us to connect with people but not have to experience them. I still craved connection and found myself texting family and friends more during that week. But I'm kinda thinking that might be the better way. It's more personal and less filtered because it's intended for that one individual. I'm back on social media now but planning to cut my usage back and limit myself to only hoping on at specific times of the day (i.e. morning and evening). It's kind of tricky because I'm also online for work during the day so I'm still trying to figure out the happy medium.

4. There are health benefits to fasting. I came across "The Science of Fasting" on Netflix and was really impressed by the health benefits they have found from both short and long-term fasting. It can help with asthma, diabetes, skin conditions, cancer, Alzheimer's and more! In fact, studies show that fasting for 24-48 hours prior to chemotherapy significantly reduces the side effects but increases the effect on cancer cells. Fasting causes healthy cells go into protection mode while the cancer cells become more vulnerable. Very cool!

5. I thought fasting was making me fat. I've been eating the Trim Health Mama (THM) way for almost 2 years. During the sweet fast, I even excluded my natural sweeteners, which threw off my go-to foods like protein shakes and overnight oats. I eat on the go a lot so it was hard to find quick foods that I could eat that were still on plan. During our meat fast I didn't plan well enough and ate lots of crossovers that week trying to add in extra calories and protein. Most people loose weight during fasting but I gained because I was eating so differently and off plan. However, that was all remedied after the 24 hour water only fast. In fact, I have since dug deeper into research about the health and weight loss benefits of Intermittent Fasting and we plan to start incorporating this into our regular routine. I just learned today how to combine it with THM so I'm excited to add another layer of healthy nutrition habits to our lifestyle.

The hardest fasts for me were definitely social media and then the 24 hour fast. Those were definitely a sacrifice. I was praying nearly constantly during those times but felt sustained. It's definitely easier when you have someone to help keep you accountable and commiserate with so I'd recommend that as well.

Overall, it was a great month of learning, practicing self-discipline, and growing in our faith. I'm thankful we have found a church that challenges and encourages us!

January 31, 2018

January 2018 Update

After the "year of hard things" and "the month that almost killed us" I was an eager beaver to move into 2018!

We rang in the new year with our sweet friends who have become such a constant in our lives over the past year. It took us 12 years of marriage to find "couple friends," which is another reminder to me to never give up on the important things!

We did have snow this month, much to my disappointment, but it does look so much prettier at the BFF. I am missing the subdivision life about zero these days! Onyx was a hoot. I love puppies in snow like I love babies eating lemons. They get me so tickled. She's been staying inside a good bit since it's been #stupidcold at night but the temperature and snow truly didn't bother her a bit. She's such a gorgeous girl and we are all so smitten with her.

Speaking of snow (and ice) it almost caused us to cancel Skylar's birthday party. We did have to change the date but we are so thankful all of our family could come celebrate with us. Mom and Rex even braved the roads to come from Alabama. It's a tradition! Scooby Doo is all the rage so that's the cake she picked for this year. I still can't believe this kiddo is 11. If you haven't seen it already, be sure to check out her year in review video. She received a new board game, Isle of Skye that we are loving! It's kinda like a cross between Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride, which are our other favorites.

For her birthday, we gave her family tickets to the Symphony. Skylar LOVES Elvis and they were doing a show playing his songs. She has also been quite interested in orchestra instruments so it was literally the PERFECT combo for her. We sat 3 rows behind the stage. For some reason, those are the most inexpensive tickets but we thought they were the best seats in the house. We had an amazing view and didn't notice any decreased quality in the acoustics. In fact, Mike and I bought the same tickets for an upcoming Sinatra Symphony next month. They had a band play along with the orchestra and the sound was so unique. We loved the whole night!

We started back to Co-Op this month and Sky is enjoying her classes this semester. She's learning to knit and is quite good at it. She even taught me so that's been a fun activity to do together snuggled up in my bed most nights. We also finally got connected with the Wilson Co. 4H Homeschool Program and are looking forward to participating more with that group this year. In other news, she saved up some money and bought herself a violin from our neighbor. Her first lesson is this Thursday and she's so excited!

This year I picked COMMUNITY as my word of the year. It combines so much of what has been on my heart the last few months. I also had an opportunity to meet Jen Hatmaker and hear her speak, which was like a dream come true. I absolutely adore her! I swear she stalks my life for content and makes all of life's quirks and frustrations seem not only tolerable but downright hilarious. I listened to her most recent book while riding the lawnmower this past summer. When I wasn't doubled over in laughter, she was totally blowing my mind and flipping my world around in a good way. She's such an encouragement and I'm so grateful I had this opportunity to see her.

As is typical for January, I've had several new clients join SBVA. I'm so thankful for my assistant Ashley who is helping me manage all of these wonderful women and their projects. It's been fun to see my business continue to grow and there's no substitute for dependable, quality help! I also had the opportunity to work on my first children's book this past month, which was a blast! My final copy should be arriving any day now.

Mike is doing well. We went to the year-end celebration for Union Station earlier in the month. The dinner was 1920s themed and we had a blast!  I was so happy to see TWO of his employees nominated for an award. The whole account is in a much better place than where it was a year ago when he took over. He has worked really hard and I'm so proud of him!

We are also still loving New Tribe Church. We are starting to meet more people and we even participated in their month-long fast. Here are 5 takeaways I learned from that experience.

I'm so happy that the days are starting to get longer. We are really excited about the Winter Olympics starting soon. Even though they aren't the Summer Olympics they still get me pumped for TeamUSA. And after they are finished we will be practically to spring - YAY!

For more January pics, click here.