Monday, August 22, 2011

I've been missing for a while...

...because I am 


...but in a good way.  =)

I LOVE teaching so far.

My kids are awesome, my colleagues are awesome... 
I mean let's be honest... it doesn't get much better than getting paid to sing and teach others to sing all day!

Love my job.

(Remind me of that later when I'm on here stressed out and freaking out, k?  Thanks.) 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

101 in 1001 Update

*~*~* Day 206 of 1001 *~*~*

A list of things I've completed since my last update:

5. Read a classic novel
June 26, 2011
I enjoyed every minute of this brilliant novel.  Though reading the book usually causes one to look down on the movie in most cases, this was just the opposite.  I loved reading Austen's expansions on characters which weren't elaborated on in the movie.  It helped me better understand some moments on screen that had always baffled me.  Loved it.

12. Start my career
July 1, 2011
On July 1st I was officially hired as the new choral director at a local high school.  I am pumped and feeling incredibly blessed.  Excited and anxious all at the same time.  School starts in less than a week, ahhh!  =)
PS, I already had my first performance with the chamber choir at the Royal's game a few weeks ago, they did awesome!

23. Meet Regularly with my accountability partner
Summer 2011
Pictured above is my lovely accountability partner, Britney, with her awesome hubby, Travis.  Brit and I have been accountability partners for a few years now and at times have met more regularly than others.  This past year has been rather irregular so when summer started we made a goal to make weekly meetings together a priority.  It has been great and we have grown a lot!  Also in this post you will see updates about my week 100% make-up free and a new 'Godly wife' book I'm working through... both of these have been/are being ventured through with the lovely Britney.  =)

27. Go a full week 100% make-up free
July 23, 2011
Mentioned above, my accountability partner, Britney, and I recently challenged each other to one week 100% make-up free.  You can read more about what I learned that week in my full post here.

42. Plan a surprise for Mark
June 27, 2011
Talented photographer and beloved friend, Kristin Smetona, helped me create a one-of-a-kind birthday gift for my husband with a boudoir photo session.  Yes, this is personal and yes, I'm sharing this in blogland.  Why?  Because I believe this is a wonderful gift for any woman to give to her husband and I love what Kristin has to say on the matter... if you want to hear more about that, ask.  =)  Click here to check out Smetona Photo.

101. Make strawberry jam
June 21, 2011
Our freezer is now stocked with this deliciousness.  

A list of things in progress since my last update:

24. Complete 5 crafts in my "Whit's Projects" folder
"Whit Projects" craft #3 = Baby Burp Cloths

56. Do the mending I've neglected
This was a large pile, okay folks?  But I sat down in one day and tackled everything except the jeans which I need to purchase patches for -- yay me!  =)

79. Read 3 new 'Godly wife' books
The Power of a Praying Wife is the first 'Godly wife' book I am tackling.  Together with my accountability partner, Britney, I am examining my own heart while committing to intentional prayer for my husband.  Highly recommended book!  =)

81. Do 5 random acts of kindness
Okay, well I feel a little weird sharing my random acts of kindness because that almost feels like bragging... so I'm just going to leave it at I took an opportunity to help a stranger I met while running errands... I think it may have blessed me more than him.  And that was #1 of 5.

Click here to check out the original "101 in 1001" post.  
I'll be updating it with completion dates and links to update posts {such as this one} as I go.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

fresh face, fresh perspective

About a week ago, my lovely accountability partner, Britney, and I decided to embark on a week long challenge.

We decided to go one week 100% make-up free.

We've talked on and off about doing a challenge like this for a few years now but never had the "time" {which actually means never had the guts}.  ;)

The motivation?

To reveal idols.  
Idols which have been built by insecurities many women today struggle with.  Insecurities resulting from finding our identity in beauty as the world has defined it, not in the truth of beauty as God defines it.

We anticipated it wouldn't be easy and were anxious as our "start"day grew nearer to discover what God would reveal in each of our hearts.

First of all, I have to tell you something funny... we rescheduled two or three times.  The cause?  Events that we just couldn't NOT wear make-up to!  Hysterical, right?  We fully realize {then and now} how completely this contradicts the entire purpose of this make-up free week.

Okay, so skip ahead.

What did I experience?

It's interesting actually.  I realized that going about life make-upless didn't effect me the way I thought it would.  I thought I would spend the week demolishing my idols of pride and vanity and that wasn't exactly the way it played out.

More often than not, I didn't notice much different that week.  
No one treated me different or even seemed to notice the difference {Isn't it funny how we can become so focused on ourselves that we assume everyone around us will notice how great we do or don't look?}  and I didn't feel as insecure as I thought I would {I must honestly note that as a zit-prone kinda gal, I was thankful I happened to be having a "clear skin" week}.

What was different?
I did notice when I looked in the mirror, and when I noticed, my thoughts weren't often positive.
I found that a few different days that week I tended to take on an attitude of, "Well I'm not wearing make-up, I'll just throw my hair in a ponytail and wear some comfy clothes."  That was an interesting realization for me.  It was as if I'd made a decision on those days that without make-up, it wasn't worth making myself presentable any other way... interesting.

What I learned?

Make-up isn't as much a part of my identity as I thought it was.  However, it is still enough a part of it that it needs to be kept in check.  No, I don't believe wearing make-up and wanting to look attractive and presentable is wrong.  I also don't believe any woman, myself included, should have to be wearing make-up in order to feel attractive and presentable.  

Our identity -- knowing we are beautiful inside and out -- should come from one place alone.  We should know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we are beautiful women, inside and out, because we are created by a beautiful and holy God.  David Crowder nailed this point on the head when he wrote, "He makes everything glorious.  He makes everything glorious, so what does that make me?"

Now, the hard part...
How do I move forward?

This is actually a really tough question right now.  When Britney and I met at the end of our make-up free week we discussed this rather extensively.  Neither of us are really sure, actually.  We both agree that considering what's been revealed in our own hearts, we don't want to just call it a goal met and move forward as if nothing has happened.  We also both agree that it's not wrong to wear make-up.  I think we've both decided {correct me if I'm wrong, Brit} that it's important to continually evaluate our motivations behind make-up.  We also want to re-evaluate how much make-up we wear and how often, because clearly, it didn't bother us a whole lot to let it go for a week, so maybe we don't need to be wearing it as much or as often... ?  

The bottom line is that we want to move forward in the confidence that we have been created beautiful inside and out by a God who loves us and we need to wear that confidence everyday with or without our make-up.


So there you have it, folks.
I would challenge any woman out there to try a week like this one... you may be surprised what a time of increased vulnerability gives the Lord opportunity to reveal in you!  I'm certain He's far from finished revealing things in me.

Oh, PS, this was #27 on the list, woo!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

DIY Baby Burp Cloths

I recently made a set of these cute little guys for my big sister, Jenna as well as my dear, dear friend, Britney.

These are a fun, simple and affordable gift for baby showers, baby arrival, or just because!

Birdseye Fabric
Quilt Binding
Matching Thread

I used a tutorial found on one of the blogs I follow, but I cannot find the link for the life of me now, so sorry.  But I will give a simplified run-down of what I did.

Now, I am a precise rule follower -- sometimes to the point of fault -- the first time I do anything, so at the end of this post I will also include a few points of things I will do differently next time.

1) Line up three layers of birdseye material, one on top of the other
2) You can probably cut two cloth widths from one stack... approximately 12 inches in width and 18 in length... adjust to your liking if you'd like them longer/shorter.
3) Run the long edges through the sewing machine, then turn the material inside-out / rightside-out... whatever you want to call it.
4) Cut and pin your choice of ribbon to line the inside third of the cloth -- stitch it in place then trim excess ribbon from edges.
5) Line top and bottom edges (the short ones) with quilt binding, pin in place then stitch and trim excess, carefully, as close to edge seam as possible.  Careful not to cut into the seam of your long edge.

Disclaimer: I am no seasoned seamstress... I just do it how it makes sense to me!  So if any of you reading this are going, "No, not that way!" I take no offense... if you know a better method then by all means!  =)


I think they're adorable and the mommies appeared to think so as well!  =)

Okay, now for the few things I would do differently...

1. One thing I did change after the first set was sewing the long edge and then flipping the fabric inside out.  The tutorial said to stitch then trim the excess with pinking sheers... I did that with the first set and it didn't go well -- frayed like crazy -- so I changed my method with the second set.  I believe it was a good call.

2. In the future, I would add some extra material to the middle section of these burp cloths.  Let's face it, we all know that's where the majority of the mess is usually aimed, and we could use some extra protection there.  ;)  I would have added it with the second set, but I didn't have enough material and had a deadline.

Alrighty folks, I think that's it! 
Let me know if you make some of these fun little guys yourself... I sure had a good time with them.

Now I must be off to see what our crazy pups won't stop barking at in the back yard... ;)
Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Let's try this look for a while

I've been frustrated with the set up of our living room for a while now.
To be honest, I never have put much thought into it.
This is mainly because when we moved in, we didn't have much so things were placed in practical locations.
Then we moved to Texas and my mom moved her stuff into our house.
Then we moved back and moved our stuff back in with her stuff... 
...then we bought more stuff in anticipation of losing her stuff when she left.

Needless to say, we were crammed in like sardines at this point.

Then mom left and I quickly moved things to where I thought were the only reasonable places for them...
but it never felt right.

Today, I am proud to say, genius struck!

It hit me while observing a conversation in our living room which closer resembled onlookers at a tennis match rather than family having a nice chat.

So after most everyone had taken flight, I roped my mom into helping me shuffle a few things around and we went from this:

To this.

It's amazing what a few minor changes can do!

We switched the chair closest to the dining room with the bookcase in the corner by the coat closet and moved the couch and other chair toward the far windows a bit in order to create a more functional, conversational sitting area.  I'm also pleased as this has opened up space between the living room and dining room areas helping to create a more distinct separation between the two.

I'm not pleased with how "blocky" and "in-the-way" the bookshelf seems, but this won't be a problem for long as it is soon to be replaced with one of these beauties...

...which my incredible hubby is going to build for me.
Simple, airy, decorative... I am so excited.

The rug from the old pic was left from my mom.  She didn't really have a place for it and we didn't have anything else at the time so she left it with us to use until whenever.  

Well while grocery shopping at Aldi the other day, I found this 4x6 brown shag rug for $29.99!  It's not as big as we ultimately want but it was a steal of a price and one step closer to the large brown rug we would like to find eventually.  So in the end, a small price for an "in-between" rug that matches a little better and makes us a bit happier... plus, when we replace it, this smaller rug will be the perfect touch to help cozy up my new office at school!

Well, overall, I'm happy.
Little changes making big differences... to me anyway.

PS, while I was in the "rearranging mood" I decided to try a new look on the ol' blog.  I'm still workin' on a new header, but let me know what you think!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Headed Back to High School

Most students spend their lives dreaming of getting out of high school... I've spent the past several years of my life dreaming of getting back into it.

Good news, folks, I have just been hired into my first teaching job!
This school year, I will be teaching high school choir dream!

Never, in a million years, did I think I would get a high school music teaching position my first year out of the gate.  Needless to say it is a BIG program with BIG responsibilities.  I'm sure I will have more than a few moments of "Ahhh... I don't know what I'm doing here!!!" along the way.

But I am pumped about the job, the kids I will be teaching and the faculty I will be working with and I am ready to dive in!

Wish me luck... wish me sanity. ;)

I already know this is going to be a year packed full of learning, making mistakes, relearning, exciting times, difficult times and best of all... making music.  =)

If you would, say a prayer for me as I prepare to step up into this program and attempt to affect the lives of teenagers through teaching music.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

oh! hello, strangers!

I'm back!  ...or so I say.  ;)

I find it interesting how my blogging life seems to ebb and flow depending on what is going on in our lives at the moment.  

For instance... summer.
You'd think this presents the allowance of lots of extra time, correct?
Well I thought so... and so far I have been oh so very wrong.

Where I had been used to getting home from student teaching by 3:30pm, having time to care for and play with the pups, clean up around the house and get dinner going before the hubs arrived home from work, now-a-days he beats me home nearly every night.  Talk about a change of pace!

So now I try to walk in the door, immediately start cooking and still attempt to accomplish all around the house that I did before in oh so much less time.  So basically... please don't come inspect my house right now because it is a disaster with a capital D!

I do have a few days off this week so let's pray I use my time wisely to catch up on some much needed TLC for the homestead.  ;)

...and maybe a little TLC for my craft-lovin' DIY starved self...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I'm an auntie!

Kinley Reece

Born on Thursday, June 2, 2011 to a beautiful mommy...

...and a loving daddy

7lb 1oz, 19.5in

...beautiful and perfect in every way.

We're all thrilled she's finally here
{None more than mommy and daddy, of course!}

And I have to say... I am quite the proud auntie.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Love & Blessings

Today we celebrate two wonderful years of marriage...
I know... we're still rookies.  ;)

We spent this past week in Joplin, Mo working with relief efforts there {more on that later} and I must say that in light of such loss and devastation, I find myself particularly thankful for the blessings in my life.  
My loving, hardworking, God-fearing husband would certainly rank at the top of that list of blessings.

He loves me at my best and my worst, puts up with my silly antics {even plays along sometimes} and constantly strives to lead our family toward Christ.
Our first two years have seen great joys along with great sadness, but in it all the Lord has been faithful and we count ourselves blessed.
You're my favorite... ;)
Happy Anniversary, Baby.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Painting Phase 1: Conquering the Main Level

From the day we bought this house I have been so anxious to paint it!
...and when I say "it" I mean EVERY surface.

This is because the previous owners loooved green...
everything is green.
The exterior is mint green, the interior main level is a greenish grey, the stairwell is a taupey green and the landing and upstairs bedrooms are some light minty/celeryish shade of green...
I've never been a green hater.
...but needless to say, I've found myself avoiding green paint swatches at all costs.

Anyways... along the way we've had a few set backs, but are happily blessed to finally have the availability and resources to slap some new colors on these walls!

So here we go...

I couldn't find any before pictures other than those from when we bought the house a few years ago... so here is a rather vacant look at the old color:

It's not terrible... but it's just dull... and not me.

Many have told me they thought I was crazy for this until they saw for themselves... but when you live in this kitchen, you discover that this greenish grayish color on the walls 1) makes the kitchen feel very dark and 2) makes it glow orange like crazy.

The paint color is really just a contributor to the glow issue.  

The real problem there is that the builder of our home was a builder, not a decorator, and unaware that when putting in wood cabinets and wood floors you're not supposed to match the wood stains or the color becomes overwhelming... especially with this bright honey tone.
Well my "natural wood look" fanatic of a husband swore I wouldn't be allowed to paint these cabinets over his cold, dead body.

{Which is a shame because they would be lovely painted in a nice eggshell with some glazed distressing}

Plan B.  
I then said, "Okay, but that means you let me paint whatever I want in here to tone down the orange glow."  To my surprise, he happily complied.  =)

I chose a pale yellow called "Spice Delight" {Olympic} for the entry, living room, dining room, stairwell and upstairs landing.

Mark's grandma young helped me decide that a robin's egg blue from the color palette I was leaning toward would be great in the kitchen to help tone down the cabinets... but finding the right shade was tricky.  
So with many "nope, not the right shade" samples splattered on the walls, we set forth with a deadline to conquer the yellow walls and put the blue on hold.  =)

The process begins!  

Here we're patching the last few cracks and holes and beginning the first coat!

We had a great {and unexpected} team of volunteer 
painters to help with the first coat of spice delight!  =)

Looking brighter already!

...and every great team needs a great supervisor!  ;)

The hubs and myself worked hard that weekend.  
We even stayed up until midnight on a school/work night to finish the final coat of spice delight and for those who know me, you know that's quite a sacrifice!  

I had originally thought that with our busy schedules it would take a few weeks to tackle three coats on all of the "spice delight" walls... but we were surprised and thrilled to finish in one weekend.  

This, of course, meant that it was time to get serious about a decision on the blue.  The next day I brought home three more samples {for a total of 7 samples of different shades of robin's egg blue} and finally found one I love.

So what do we do when we finish a painting project ahead of schedule... relax?  
Yeah right, push ourselves to finish the next job by the same deadline!
{The deadline was that I was hosting my sister's baby shower in less than two weeks from the time we started the first yellow coat.  I had originally said that getting the yellow done was enough... then I added the blue... then I added the doors too!  Ha!  But it all got done with time to spare!}

Time for the reveal...

In one short week the entire main level was done... and I am in love!
As you see, none of our decor was rehung at the time of the pictures, but that's in progress now.
Note that the purple chairs are the ones to be recovered with the material featured in posts here and here and the rug is hopefully soon to be replaced with a similarly sized/shaped brown low shag... I can't wait to get that puppy in here.  Then the room will really start coming together!

I love the bright, sunny feel!

We have a lot of windows on this level and I finally feel like my walls aren't swallowing the light!  Ahhh... so airy and fresh.  =)

Finding the right shade of robin's egg blue I wanted was hard... really, really hard.  But I'm glad I persisted... I love the contrast of the "spice delight" and "seascape" and I LOVE the "seascape" against the cabinets!
{The photo above shows the more accurate shade of what the color looks like in the kitchen, the others seem to wash it out a bit, making it appear lighter with more blue tone and less green than it actually is.}

The orange glow is much diffused, yay!
{PS, my hubby did also agree to change out those nasty laminate countertops which will also make a huge impact!  It's amazing the lengths that man will go to in order to save his wood cabinets!  tee hee hee}

Love it.

I already have window treatments picked out, just have to scrounge up the money to go get them.  I've also begun hanging some things back on the walls this week and can't wait to collect some plates to paint and set up on top of the cabinets!  

I'm sure I'll share many more pictures as our home continues to come together.  It's been a long wait, but I feel it will be worth while!  =)

It's so fun to see decorating visions starting to take life!

Friday, May 13, 2011

101 in 1001 Update

*~*~* Day 117 of 1001 *~*~*
...and going strong...

The following list is compiled of things that I have 100% accomplished!

7. Practice piano regularly for one month
March 7, 2011 - April 21, 2011 
I hadn't even thought when I put this goal on my list that student teaching would be the perfect enabler to accomplish it!  I've been student teaching at the high school for about six weeks now {thus practicing every day} and can already see a vast improvement in my piano skills.  It's amazing what a little practice time will do!

11. Graduate with my BME
May 7, 2011
After six years {including the year off in Texas} and lots of hard work, I've finally done it!

53. Start a garden
May 8, 2011
Last weekend my hubby put the plants in the ground!  I've felt like I almost cheated on this goal though because form the planting to the watering {save one time} to the building of the garden area and putting them in the ground... it's all been my hubby!  But I get to enjoy the spoils... =)

57. Invite someone new over for dinner
March 2011
Some dear friends of ours, the Edlin's, joined us for dinner several weeks ago.  Unfortunately I can't remember the exact date and I forgot to take a picture! {Lame}  But it was a great time.  We ate, talked and played speed scrabble!

78. Step up to serve in a ministry role
March 13, 2011
The roles my husband and I have stepped into at our church were actually the last thing I expected when I wrote this goal.  I had thought more along the lines of leading a small group or jumping in to serve with a team somewhere.  Goes to show how God surprises us.  Our church has been without a worship pater for about a year and a half now and while several different people had stepped in temporarily, the weekend of March 13th Mark and I became the next "gap fillers" as you could call us.  We have been serving as "interim worship leaders" at our home church since then.  Certainly unexpected, but we are happy to assist in filling gaps where we are needed in order hopefully help serve and grow our church family and community.

86. Give a random gift
April 16, 2011
I didn't realize until going through my list just now that I'd actually "fulfilled" this goal.  I don't really wish to elaborate on this one, as that seems kind of awkward.  But I'd simply say that I responded to the prompting of the Spirit to take care of a need for a dear friend of mine in order to help lighten her load, even if only a little.  =)  PS, if you've never given an unplanned gift, you should.  It's a wonderful blessing to both the giver and the recipient.

The following list is compiled of things that I have began, but are not yet complete:

4. Grow my hair out again
This will obviously be in progress for a while... but look at how long it's getting!

13. Get Skylar fully potty trained
In the past 96 days we have progressed from Skylar having accidents about three times a week to approximately one accident every two-three weeks.  We decided to start leaving him out of his kennel when we left for short trips (1-2 hours) to see how he did.  He was great.  This week we tested leaving him out for the full day while we were at work/school on both Wednesday and Thursday and he was perfect!  Yay for progress... we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!
{For those of you who might not know or remember, we are breaking a five year habit of pottying whenever, wherever he wanted.  To see Skylar's story and how we inherited him, click here.}

42. Plan a surprise for Mark
The surprise is planned.  He knows it's coming and he knows it's a birthday gift, but other than that he is clueless... and that's how I like it.  =D  I'll reveal it to you under the "completed" list after it has been revealed to him!

51. Paint the interior of our home
Paint is on the walls, my friends!!!  The main level of our home is completely painted as well as the stairwell and upstairs landing.  All that remains are the two bedrooms and upstairs bathroom and the basement.  Can't wait to reveal the completed project!

60. Reupholster our garage sale furniture
On the Monday of spring break, my mom-in-law, two sister-in-laws and myself made a trip to some super affordable fabric stores down in Springfield where I found fabric to cover three of our four reupholstery projects.  The fabric I needed the largest amount of had to be back ordered and arrived a few weeks ago... Here I've draped and and tucked it into the chair to try to see what it would look like with our freshly painted walls!  It is lurvely.  =) 

And there you have it folks, progress.

Now let's look at how how I'm really standing here...

Day 117 of 1001 means we are just about 12% of the way progressed toward my deadline.
With a total of 12 completed goals and 10 goals that are an average of 50% complete, I'm about 17% of the way through my goals... which puts me right on track and even a bit ahead of schedule!

It's been so fun to track my goals and progress this way...  
You should try it!   =D

If you would like to check out the original "101 in 1001" post you can click here.  I'll be updating it with completion dates and links to update posts {such as this one} as I go.