Thursday, January 23, 2014

A little Housewarming {& other fun}

How about a few little updates? Yes? Okay.

We are gonna go back to last weekend, when i threw my sister-in-law a housewarming party. We had a great time & she got a ton of giftcards. Which is what she wanted. So, the really cool thing is that before the party started she was talking about how she needed a TV Stand for her living room. Her coworkers gave her a HUGE TV & it was just sitting on her floor waiting for a table. She said she saw one at Target she REALLY wanted, but she might have to settle for the one at walmart that was about $50 cheaper.

Well, don't you know it? Her first gift was a Target gift card. Then another. Then another!!! All in a row! She ended up getting like $225 in Target gift cards & the TV stand she wanted was $180! She went & got it immediately after the party. HA!

That's my sister (in blue), my sis-in-law (in purple) & moi. And i feel like my smile is GIGANTIC in this picture. Did someone make me laugh or something? It's taking up my whole face!

Anyway. The reason I am telling you all of this is because i thought it would be fun to order a cake for her housewarming. Because, I mean, who doesn't like cake?! Well, i actually didn't like it that much as a kid, but as an adult when i really need to STOP EATING CAKE i love it. Of course. Anyway. I have a friend who makes cakes & i had a bite at the last baby shower i went to & it was DELICIOUS! I FB messaged her & asked for a cake, she asked me some questions about what kind i wanted. I said, "What kind was that at Sarah's baby shower?" "That was butter cake with buttercream frosting." "That's what i want!!"

I told her i just wanted a cake with a cute house on it... something fun. That's really all i gave her. And she delivered! I mean, isn't this the cutest cake you've ever seen!?!

I thought so.

She asked me what color i wanted the house to be & I told her it didn't matter - just cute & fun. Later, i realized i needed to know the colors to sort of coordinate plates/napkins/etc. So i asked her & she said "pink & yellow house with red, purple & blue flowers". Hmm. Okay then! I think i did a pretty good job grabbing this yellow tablecloth, colorful chevron napkins & blue cups! I felt like i was blindly grabbing things hoping they coordinated! 

I also need to say that Aunt KK (Brad & Jaimie's aunt) made THESE from pinterest and O.M.G. THEY WERE SO GOOD!!! Easy to make & perfect for a fun little party!!! (Aunt KK has over 10,000 pins, i am not even joking, and i cannot find these kabobs! But it's just strawberries, blueberries, & cream puffs drizzled with white & german chocolate! YUM!)

 Jaimie's little cousin, Hollyn. I think she is thinking it might be too pretty to eat! 

Anyway. So that was fun.

ALSO, remember that new desk I mentioned?! Brad put it together. My parents also got me a chair & he put that together too. The armoire was moved to our  middle room (for now). I LOVE MY NEW DESK! It's cute. I know i need some pictures on that wall, but hang tight! It's coming!! Painting plans are underway! The entire wall (including brown paneling at the bottom) will be painted & THEN i will figure out where to hang pics & all that.

 I am pretty much DYING to paint these walls & paint the armoire & paint the entertainment center (or tear it down - still a possibility) & paint our kitchen table & chairs!! Oh, and an end table i have! IT'S LIKE I WANT TO PAINT EVERYTHING NOW! Muahahahaha.

Correction: I want it painted. I don't want to actually do it. But i am going to have to because i don't have money to pay people to do it for me! But i am ready to do it & it will be soon!!

Sunday, hubby & I had an impromptu Starbucks date between music practice & church service. Meaning we skipped Sunday School.

It was worth it. ;) 

I started the Gideon Bible Study this week at a local church. This is my first Priscilla Shirer study & I like her already. I love Gideon. I don't know why. But it will be good to study this!

 Me & my Bible Study girls :) #weirdlighting #sorry

In another news, they put a trailer in the empty lot next to us. Which is basically on top of us. Meaning, you walk out of our door & BLAM. There is a trailer IN MY FACE. WHY!?!?!?!

Moving on!! This week we had to start wearing lab coats over our work attire! And suddenly i feel SO smart! Like people in the halls glance at me & look confused & I think they are thinking, "What does SHE do? Who is she? I BET SHE WENT TO MED SCHOOL!!!"

Because seriously. That's what the doctors wear. A lab coat over there regular clothes. Unless they're doing surgery or something. Of course, their lab coats are longer & monogrammed with their name & MD after it. But still. At first glance you might think, "Who is that? Is she a doctor?"

Nevermind that these people have seen me there for nearly a year now WITHOUT a lab coat. And they've known I'm just a little peon who works in patient registration. But suddenly...

YES. That empty space just SCREAMS for a monogram: "Melissa Venable, MD".

P.S. I would not have survived med school for TWO MINUTES! (Not because of blood. Because of science. And math. And all the learning!)

(I realize that last statement made me just sound really.... pathetic. I don't hate learning. I just hate learning science/math. There is something in my brain that says, "STOP!" when people start talking science/math. Science is actually why i am a college dropout. And those were basic science classes.

Tomorrow is Friday. And ALL the schools are closed. Oh, yes, there is SNOW IN THE FORECAST!!!! And all day long my phone kept alerting me. See?

And of course now Brad is hoping his office will be closed on Friday! I, however, am not even thinking about work closing because I work at a hospital now, and from what i hear, they NEVER CLOSE! So i will just plan to be there & if someone tells me otherwise, THEN & only then will i get excited! :)

40% chance of show after midnight. And 40% chance of snow tomorrow night. The last time it snowed was in 2008. So yeah!! Snow would be okay with me!

Even though i have a work training Saturday morning. All Day. 8-2:30. I'm not bitter!

I guess that's all the news for today. Happy Friday!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Oh, how He loves us...

Maybe it was your prayers after my last post, or maybe it was just because He loves me, but I definitely felt the kindness of God this weekend.

Something happened Saturday & several things happened Sunday that just served as little reminders that God loves me. That he cares about me & my situation. I just felt like, you know... he doesn't just LOVE me. He loves ME, if you get what I mean. ME! He loves me completely, wholeheartedly. Basically, what i am trying to say is, I am His favorite. (So are you - He has lots of favorites.) But you see what i mean. He loves me individually.

It's like, maybe he can't give me a baby RIGHT NOW because it isn't time yet. But He does care about me & his heart hurts when mine does, and so he just does these little things for me to remind me that he does care. That he is here, working this all out for my good.

Yesterday, I threw my sister-in-law a housewarming party. At one point it had really died down & she was just giving some people who had come near the end a tour. It was just her friend, Donna, & me in the kitchen, and we got to talking. Donna doesn't know details, but she does know we have been trying to get pregnant for awhile now. So somehow it came up & I ended up telling her how another lady used to always give me flack for not having kids, having no idea what i am going through. Which, of course, got me to telling her about the stupid things people say when it comes to infertility. So Donna said, "I've done that before." And she proceeds to tell me about how there was a girl at her church who for some reason was unable to have children, and Donna knew she was unable to have children, but one day she walked up to the girl and, without thinking, said, "Hey, Hot Mama!".

And she immediately was like, "OMG. I am so sorry. I am SO SORRY. I just wasn't thinking. I didn't mean to say that." The girl was quick to forgive & assure Donna that it was okay, she knew she didn't mean anything by it. And i agreed and told her that you can usually tell when someone is just being rude or flippant or if the offensive remark was purely unintentional.

And then Donna adds, "Well, anyway, the girl got pregnant about a month after that so..." & she looks at me & says to me, "Hey, hot mama!" :) Haha!! I laughed & said, "Yes, indeed! You go ahead & speak that into my life!"

And then later, as we were leaving & hugging them bye, she said real low to me where no one around could hear, "Bye, hot mama!" HAHAHA! I said, "Yeah, you just keep speaking that about me!" :)

I wish you had been there. I hope this isn't one of those "you had to be there" stories & that you get what i am saying. It just made me feel really good, for some reason. Nobody has ever called me that. And maybe if it was a different day, it would have stung. I don't know. Or maybe it was just the way she said it. But i liked it. It made me smile.

And then, yesterday, in church. After worship but before the sermon, they had prayer for people who needed prayer for any reason. I quickly found my friend Ashley. Last week, they had an altar call for anyone with prayer needs. I was on stage singing with the praise team, but my heart was pounding & my eyes found Ashley's. She mouthed from the altar, "I want to pray for you." & i nodded & was already crying before i made it to her. It was right before finding out if the IUI worked or not, and i was scared. (I have found it is always the hardest for me one week before & one week after the results. The other two weeks have good days and bad days. But it's ROUGH those two weeks.) So she prayed for me then & i was crying & shaking, and her praying for me was a huge comfort & brought me a lot of peace.

This week, i was doing somewhat better emotionally. Not terrified or anything like that, but definitely had been sad/discouraged when we arrived at church. I really was hoping for Ashley to pray for me again, so when they had prayer for people again this week, i quickly found her. :)

Now, let me say - i am not one who goes to the altar every time there is an altar call - AT ALL! Some people do that, and that isn't a bad thing; we are all at different points in our walk with God. As a teen & in my early-to-mid twenties, i was always going up for prayer! But for about the last decade I have been the one to pray for others. We started dealing with infertility before i was going to Covenant, and at the time i was very private about it & wasn't about to go forward for prayer... what if they asked me what i needed prayer for!? Haha. It is only in the last few months that i have told a handful of people at our church (including our pastor). These past two weeks I have been really ministered to at Covenant, and I am okay with that. :) Sometimes life hurts & one of the best things to help you through it is being surrounded by other believers who will lift you up in prayer!

Anyway. Don't know why i felt the need to go off on that trail, but I did so, there ya go. :)

Our pastor preached on how God still speaks today. And it was crazy. So much of what he said was for me! SO MUCH. And yes, he knows what we are going through, and he knew that on Tuesday i was really upset about the IUI not working, and that by Wednesday I was feeling better - based on very brief emails to him keeping him up to date. But that's all he knew. I don't think he would have preached this sermon if God hadn't spoken it to His heart... but i feel like he specifically said things to encourage ME. And that meant a LOT. It really did. Of course, there are many others in our church going through other battles. He may or may not know about them & he was definitely speaking to them as well! But you know what i am saying, right? I hope. I  know it's not all about me. Haha. I am just trying to say that the sermon meant a lot to me... not just what was preached... but that God cared enough to have Pastor Jeff preach it, and that Pastor cared enough to say specific things to get MY attention... things like, 'The same God who spoke pregnancies into barren women still speaks today!" :)

And then after church, he invited me & Brad to lunch. They treated us to Las Palmas & we had a really good conversation. I was nervous to go, nervous if they would ask us about infertility, nervous i would cry at the table, nervous it would be awkward conversation ha! But it was wonderful. Really good. We talked about all kinds of things... not just infertility. But he did ask about it. We told them our next steps, we told them some of our fears. I told them about my awesome support group. And they really encouraged me. Me & Brad, both of us. They listened to our fears without judgement & without any of those churchy cliche phrases, haha. They just listened & encouraged us & let us know that they are in our corner, trusting God with us, believing with us.

Mrs. MaryAnn mentioned something about twins (I can't remember what - i think she said it would be neat if we had twins), and i said, "Oh, i actually want twins. I actually pray for twins! I know that is crazy to some, but it's just not a concern for infertile people!" And at the end of our meal she said, "I'm going to be praying for you to have twins now - now that i know you want them!" Haha! I told Brad on the way home, "We have so many people praying for us to have twins now - we may actually have them!" LOL!

And then last night, I got an email from a blog reader. Not sure if she would want me to say her name or not... but she emailed me & said that she wanted to let me know that she read my last blog post & was committing to praying for me every single morning. I was ... I don't even know how to describe it. I know i have tons of people praying for me. And it really means the WORLD to me when they say they are praying for me. But for this person to email me to say she is committing to daily prayer for me?! I don't know. I was just really floored by her kindness & willingness to do that. This person has a lot going on in her own life... but is willing to pray for someone who she has never met in person - someone who lives clear across this continent! Wow. Thank you, to that friend. You know who you are! Add that to the list of things that made me feel loved this week!

And then this morning someone texted me & said she dreamed last night we had a baby boy. :)

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   

Today was weird. I felt kind of... that heaviness again. Which is strange because of all of the encouragement poured on me this weekend. I still was very aware of all God is doing & that He IS working in my life - whether it's easy to see that or not. This weekend he made it very clear that He loves me. That he cares. That he is working in my life. I love it when he does that!

Tomorrow i start my Gideon bible study! So excited!

P.S. Sorry this post & the last are so long!! If you are still here - I LOVE YOU! Haha. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dealing with Fear

I am really excited about some things.
And really not excited/scared about some things.

But God is good & really working in my life. Even through the hard times. Especially through the hard times.

I had my second IUI & it was not successful. I have been incredibly sad. But not just that. Not just sad. I have been afraid. Terrified. Scared of what might happen (or rather, what might not happen). I feel that FEAR is one of the main emotions I experience during this journey. It sits right there next to grief.

Here are the fears that are often in my thoughts:
-that IUI's won't work.
-that our only hope will be IVF.
-that my husband will not agree to IVF because of the cost.
-that we won't be able to do adoption either, because of the cost.
-that I will resent my husband & our marriage will suffer because i never had children & because we didn't try IVF/adoption.
-that we will never (ever) have children.

On my good days, i am at peace & have faith & fully believe that this is just a tough spot, and that ONE DAY I WILL BE A MOM! One day we will get our miracle. On hard days, these fears taunt me ALL DAY LONG.

It's why i wrote those scripture verses on index cards. To read every time those fears are voiced inside my head.

One of the verses on the scripture cards is this popular one:
For I know the plans I have for you, 
declares the Lord, 
Plans to prosper you & not to harm you, 
Plans to give you hope and a future. 
-Jeremiah 29:11

I read that verse, and I have to think about what it means when it comes to my specific fears. Is a troubled marriage due to infertility God's plan for me? NO, absolutely not. Of course not. So why am I afraid of this happening? Marriage is incredibly important to me. I waited a long time for him & we truly enjoy life together. So far, our marriage has not suffered in any way because of infertility, it has only gotten stronger. I am incredibly thankful for that. It helps that so far, we have been on the same page when it comes to treatment.

But what if one day we are not on the same page? What then? What if my husband refuses treatments that cost more money & we are unable to do them & I miss out on one of life's greatest gifts, and the one thing I have always wanted to be? These are the fears that i have got to quiet. Just because I know so many people whose IUI's failed & who had to go to IVF - that doesn't mean that is going to be what happens here. So why worry about it when i am not even there yet? A friend told me last week in a text, "God can make you pregnant any month and He can open the door to adoption at any time. You can't try to figure out finances now - for IVF or adoption! You pray that an IUI works and if you get to the other two then you look into finances and what options you have then. You can't worry about that now. The stress of the current IUI is enough."  SUCH WISDOM HERE, right? And i have to remember this, especially: God can let me become pregnant any month & open the doors to adoption at any time. He is in control. He's got this.

I go to an infertility support group, which is really not as scary as it sounds. It's basically a Bible Study at a lady's house where we snack a little, listen to a Bible Study by Beth, and then share what we are going through to women who get it, who have been there, who are RIGHT THERE WITH YOU. I have grown close to a few girls in the group. And i LOVE & ADORE Beth, the leader. She is the author of Baby Hunger, which really ministered to me. She is AMAZING.

Sometimes when i share, i am fine & in great spirits & happy & cheerful. Other times I'm not. It depends on where i am in my cycle. Funny but true. Last night, i was having a rough time. I started spotting on Tuesday, had an all-out period on Wednesday, and spent much time in prayer (aka yelling/screaming/crying/talking to God) on the way home from work. Thursday, I was okay through most of the day, but at support group i decided to REALLY share what was going on inside of me. It's really the only thing to do when you go to this group. I have stuff i keep inside all week that most people will not understand. And sometimes i just have GOT TO GET IT OUT. And this was one of those times. When i left, i felt like i word vomited all over everybody. But Beth assured me, that's what the group is there for! :)

When i shared with them i just shared that i feel like I am being ruled by fear. I feel like it is at times CONSUMING me. I do not feel like this is my fault. I am spending time with the Lord. I am reading His word. I am praying & praising & worshiping Him. But I am also dealing with a lot of confusion, worry, hurt, anger, grief, and yes - FEAR.

I told Brad to not allow me to play the "what if" game anymore. That if he hears me start a sentence with "but what if - " to stop me immediately! I just cannot go there right now. A life without kids is not an option for me, i am not okay with it. I had a couple of people say to me that sometimes God's decision is no. These people didn't mean anything ugly by saying this to me, but i really CANNOT HAVE ANOTHER PERSON SAY THAT TO ME EVER AGAIN! I truly in my heart of hearts do not believe God's decision is NO to me having children. It is "not now" maybe, but not "not ever"! And even if God did decide for some reason that i am not to have children, HE ALONE is the one who can tell me that. He is the ONLY one who could settle that in my heart. But i do not believe that will be the case here. There are several barren women in the Bible & you know what? God gave them a child. One verse I cling to, especially because of my age, is this one:

"For even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."  Luke 1:36-37

And that is what I am going to cling to. NOTHING is impossible with God. He knows the plans He has for me, plans to prosper me & not to harm me. Plans to give me hope and a future.

Several of you have asked how you can specifically pray for me. So i will tell you. Besides the obvious - for me to become pregnant IMMEDIATELY :) & have a healthy pregnancy - you can pray the following:

-That PEACE & FAITH will rise & fear will leave.
-That when fear starts to whisper to me, through prayer & the word, I will be able to fight it & not be consumed by it.
-That my body & Brad's will cooperate & do exactly what is needed to give us the best possible outcome for our next IUI.

And, while you're at it,
-That i will become pregnant with twins (I'm not joking. Twins just aren't a concern for an infertile, especially an older one!).

As of yesterday, I am doing much, MUCH better. I really just needed my support group night & to tell them exactly what was going on inside of me. They gave me some good hugs & advice. They gave me encouragement. And of course, when i left, i felt like a weight had been lifted. I am SO INCREDIBLY thankful for that group! And it is crazy to think that without infertility i never would have met any of them.

I know in the beginning of this post I said i am excited about some things too. If you were waiting for that, here they are. ;)

-On Tuesday I am going to a Bible Study at a local church. It is Gideon, by Priscilla Shirer. I am excited about this for many reasons. 1, I have always wanted to do a study on Gideon; he is one of my favorites. 2, I have heard wonderful things about Priscilla Shirer. 3, It is at Beth's church - the lady who leads my infertility support group. So i will be in her Bible Study group. So basically i will see her more often than twice a month, which is AWESOME. 4, I feel like this is the PERFECT study for me right now. 5, At least 2 of the girls from my support group are going to go to this too. I mean - YAY! :)

-My new desk came in & Brad put it together for me & I LOVE IT!

-Soon & very soon i shall start the LIVING ROOM MAKEOVER! :) (Paint room, tear down or paint entertainment center, paint & change hardware on my outdated armoire!)(If you don't know about this, read my last three posts!) I am super excited about this. All i need is some money for paint & a free Saturday. Which isn't until February 8th, unfortunately!

-My parents announced they are putting in a pool!!!!!! YIPPEEEEEE!!! I see lots of swimming & sunbathing in my future!

-There is a POSSIBLE Roadtrip to Texas for a women's conference & a walk in my future. Not sure if this will work out but VERY HOPEFUL!

-Today I am throwing my sister-in-law a housewarming... which will be a lot of fun... but i gotta get moving!!!!

Thanks, girls, for listening. :)


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Living Room Redo: part three {the armoire}

And now for the armoire results. DRUM ROLL, please!!!!

{First, I just checked the survey & i now have 21 responses. 13 say to tear the entertainment center down. YES INDEED. HA!}

ARMOIRE RESULTS (again - sorry for the blur!) 

 The overwhelming majority of you think i should repaint it & replace the hardware.

I am kind of sad about this, even though i agree with you! Haha. It just seems like it would be a gigantic pain in the rear end!!! I mean, i don't love spending time painting. I just want it to be DONE! Haha! I am definitely wanting to repaint the room including the wood paneling. I even want to paint my kitchen table! But this armoire? Seems like a PAIN IN THE BOOTAY!

Here are your responses under "OTHER". My responses to yours in bold italics. :) (P.S. I feel like you want to know what others said. If you really don't care, just skip to the bottom and see what i found!!!!) :)

1. White! Somebody said white for the entertainment center, too, but not sure how that would look in the living room with dark couch & furniture. However, it might work for the armoire since it will be moved to a different room anyway! 

2. I really like the chalk paint look with a wax finish. Don't know how to do it, but I like the look! I do love the chalk paint! Didn't think about it on a hutch!
3. Work around the carpet- my mom lives in a doublewide with the exact same wallpaper and flooring. annnnnd the stupid bathroom carpet. She went with a lavender/hunter green/burgundy color palette that made the carpet look intentional! HAHA! Agreed! :)
4. I agree with your mom that it just needs a facelift! I'm a fan of painting furniture white. I noticed you have a lot of dark wood, so we probably do not have the same taste when it comes to paint colors. Oh, i do prefer lighter paint colors. Our room is a very light blue & our bath is a verrrry light sage green. This room is a light buttery color but between the carpet, chairs, couch & wood paneling - well, everything seems darker. I don't know why we didn't think of painting the wood paneling when i first moved in! I love the bookshelf but would love that dark wood paired with lighter colors. You know? I did red accents to kind of coordinate with the couches & to incorporate that oil painting. ANYWAY. Just wanted to clarify! Another cool idea is to try painting it with chalk paint. That seems to be the hot DIY trend right now. New hardware would do wonders to update it too!! I would also see how hard it would be to take the little thing (bar?) that goes across the bottom center shelf off. And how hard it would be to pull the long wavy piece of wood that goes across the bottom of the shelves off? I am with you on both of these! Definitely would want both of those removed if possible. I think the spindle thingie would be easy. Not sure about the other. I don't know what those two pieces would be called but taking them off might update it a little too. Of course, for now I'd just simply move it to another room and hang on to it until you know for sure if you will use it in your new house. If you do decide to use it then do these updates on it when that time comes. I agree... been thinking that is what i will do. For now i am going to focus on painting the walls & the paneling & either tearing down or painting the entertainment center. Thanks for your long comment! :) :)

5. I think black with a distressed look can go a long way, or white. It depends on the room it is going in :) I really think you will regret giving it away, because it can be a great piece with some updating and in the right space!

6. Depending on color scheme..I have lots of ideas!!! They have the cutest hardware at Hobby Lobby! Do you like the distressed look? Yes, i do! Sometimes i think it looks overdone? But if it's done right, i like it! Hope that made sense! Color scheme: I think i want to keep my red accents & just lighten up the room with paint... not sure what color. This is Ashley M, isn't it?! :)

7. anne sloan chalk paint- white, and spray paint the fixtures oil rubbed bronze oooh... yes. :) 

8. I would repaint it with a soft color or soft white-ish color. Not glossy though, more like a matte finish. Get some cute hardware from Hobby Lobby. I would take off that thing that's in the middle - that bar with the spindles will "date" it, so I'd get rid of that if you can. Without a doubt, that might be the first thing i would do. LOL! If you know someone who does wood-working, I would see if there is a way to smooth out the curvy lines? Brad's uncle & dad could help with this maybe. If not, it's not going to ruin your updates, but if it is possible, it would help it! Also, I'm guessing that you turned off some lights so that they didn't create glare in the pictures, but if not, add as much light in there as possible. When I was decorating my house, the main thing that I kept reading over & over was LIGHT! Adding light, especially since you have a dark floor will help take your eye away from the dark floor. I have heard this & I agree!! :) The lights were on, actually. It's just so dark! Check out some decorating magazines & sites like Ballard Designs, Frontgate, etc. Light airy colors are all the rage right now! Also, did I show you the before & after of the coffe table that I re-did? No, you didn't... i want to see!!! It was super easy, and I have to suggest that if possible, use spray paint. I am not a painter, nor do I have the patience to paint things "properly". We spray painted the table, then I wanted the color to be different so we used a brush with another color. I was wishing that I had left it alone bc using a brush was so much harder! I am all about repurposing furniture these days! I wish I lived close to you bc I would so help you with this project! Ok, this is long...oops! :) I need you to come help me!!! Would be fun! I kind of want to paint my kitchen table too. We could spray paint it!!! :) (I know this is Lindsay! Ha!)

9. i would distress it like your mom did that green cabinet in her kitchen. i think it's cute! if you get rid of it.. i may want it. lol Haha, Amanda! A possibility! I am now thinking of keeping it again! Obviously i can't make up my mind! I love how my mom did her green cabinet!

10. I'm thinking something light...a cream or off-white? But not if the walls are light, that could clash. But if you repaint the walls...then maybe. Or maybe a gray? See this is where i am lost. What color to paint this vs. the walls. Ack!

11. I think that armoire has great potential! I love projects like that and maybe if it was updated you'd like it more? I think it could be a fantastic accent piece! I personally love Annie Sloan Chalk Paint for projects like that. It's a lot of work but the end result is awesome!I would definitely like it more if it was updated. :) And it's great storage space for us! Just so little space in this trailer that i kind of want to throw it out! LOL. But i may not. Y'all are convincing me to keep it! ;) Definitely have to check out this Annie Sloan chalk paint! You are the third one to say that!

Y'all... before i came to write this post, i was starting to think of getting rid of it again. I think re-reading your comments has made me rethink it!! If i do keep it, it will have to go in the extra room for now. Here are two potential ideas for it:

Not exactly, of course, but you get the point! :) I like these colors & the hardware.

Oh wow. This hutch above has the same curvy stuff that i didn't like in my own hutch! See under the shelf part??? It doesn't look bad painted white!!

I might go with a white, y'all. Hmmm. :)

In our kitchen we do have a cute piece that is an ivory color. Wonder if i could match it to that...

Just thinking aloud!

For now i want to focus on the walls & entertainment center. But soon... I think this thing might get painted after all! :)


 I mean, seriously. ASHLEY M, when you coming to help me with this!!!!?!?! :) :) :)

Y'all, it even has that spindly thing!

I think i just convinced myself.

I'm so excited! HAHA!

Thanks again for all of your help! Now just pray i get the money to use towards these projects! HA!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Living Room Redo: part two {the entertainment center}

Oh my goodness. Y'all are WONDERFUL!

I had so much fun today reading your responses on my survey. I am so excited to start this! I have been thinking about doing a blog post like this for awhile now, but never got around to it. Now I am wishing I had a long time ago!

If you missed that post, you might want to check it out before moving on. And feel free to vote as well! 

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I am going to break this up a bit. Right now, we shall discuss the Entertainment Center. AND the wood paneling. Since it kind of goes together. :)

For those just tuning in... the little table with the space heater was just there because i was freezing... then i got hot so it got moved... it doesn't normally stay in the living room. Haha. Ignore it. The issue is the stupid entertainment center & horrible cords everywhere! AND the wood paneling. You can see a little of it on either side of the entertainment center. It goes all along that entire wall.

So far, 17 people have filled out my survey. Here are the responses! (Sorry it is blurry!)

I got 6 comments under "OTHER" & here they are. :) My reply is bold & italicized.

1. Have you tried drilling holes on the inside to run the wires through? You could even go through the wall to the other side if you need to for plugs and install a face plate to cover the hole. I haven't tried that but definitely have thought about it! Really need to do that. The cords are driving me insane!

2. Make a it a bookshelf unit with accent pieces and put the tv elsewhere! This is not a bad idea. That TV almost NEVER comes on, and we are definitely running out of shelf space for all our books! But how to make it a bookshelf unit??
3. Can you drill small holes in the side to put the cords through so that they don't all have to hang down the front? I'd say drill them out the back like we do but that won't work for you.
That is definitely a possibility! 

4. The cords alone would make me wanna tear it down. Yep! ME TOO! Kills me! 

5. I don't think it's adding any value to the room AND you hate it. It's probably too small for a lot of TVs now, so it seems like when you go to sell, that could be a problem for potential buyers...their TVs may not fit in it. Tear it down! AGREED! 100%! 
6. Would it be a huge pain to tear down? If you do can you cover that spot with a different tv stand so you can hide cords and whatnot? I really don't have any idea how to go about tearing it down. That is a question for my father-in-law! We could figure it out I'm sure. 

4 "OTHER" Comments:
1. Just so you know, you can't replace wall panels in trailers anymore (you used to be able to but not any more, I have no idea why). I found trailer walls to be very non-resilient, so you might want to be careful there. : ) Didn't know that! Thanks, Sarah! LOL 

2. I would paint the area behind the entertainment center to match the walls. And then either also paint all the woodwork too (either the same color or complimentary to the top half) or tear it all down. If you keep the woodwork though, definitely paint it. The walls next to Brad's chair don't have the woodwork and look fine so I don't think it would stand out too much if you tore the entertainment center down, painted it, and kept the woodwork. Plus, you're going to have to put your TV somewhere so you might end up putting a new piece of furniture there anyway. Who wrote this? I feel like it sounds like Ashley V or Lindsay??? LOL. I actually am leaning towards doing exactly this! I definitely want to paint all the woodwork the same color as the top half or in a complimentary color. My only hesitation is tearing down the entertainment center, but i REALLY want to! Haha!

3. I think it could be really pretty repainted! Ashley M? This is hilarious, trying to figure out who wrote what. ;)

4. I would paint all of your wood around the room and maybe a fresh color on the wall..?!? Mandy? LOL. This is fun. I agree, though! 

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Here is what I am thinking. 

I am thinking I will paint all the woodwork around that wall, and give the already painted walls a fresh coat. I am not sure if i will do all the same color or a complimentary one. 

My first option is to TEAR DOWN that entertainment center. BUT i have to be really careful. I don't know if i can do it without hurting the walls. Brad's dad could definitely give me an opinion on this. So I am going to see if i can find out if I could do that. I REALLY would like to! 

If not, it will be painted. For sure. :) And holes drilled for the cords! Even if i have to do that myself! Haha. 

Thanks again for all your help! We will talk about the armoire next! ;)

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 Um... edited to add this pic i just saw on Pinterest!! Hmmm....

Living Room Woes: HELP NEEDED {part one}

I am having a serious itch to redo some things in our living room.


The problem with our living room (& every single room in our house) is ugly flooring. Ugly green carpet in every room, except ugly fonky linoleum (thankfully NOT green) in the kitchen & 1 bathroom. (Oh, yes. The other bathroom has the green carpet. Tell me, who puts carpet in a BATHROOM!?)


We live in a trailer. While we pay a mortgage & not rent, we don't do much updating because trailers, unfortunately, do not increase in value. They only go down, like cars, which is dumb because they are truly more like houses! And honestly, wouldn't you pay more for a trailer with pretty wood floors than one with ugly green carpet? I thought so, too.

But any money we could use for new flooring would be better spent towards a down payment on a house. Bummer. And honestly, it would have been worth it if we had put the floors in 5 years ago, but we didn't. And the closer it gets to getting out of here, the more we want all monies to go to future house.

The plan is to get out of this trailer or at least out of this neighborhood ASAP, and even though i NEVER thought we would be here FIVE WHOLE YEARS, i CAN say that our mortgage is getting much closer to being paid off! And i can ASSURE you that we will NOT be here another five years. (I feel like i am jinxing myself! Good thing i am not superstitious!) We will likely be here another 2 years OR LESS. Which makes me VERY, VERY HAPPY.

Still. There are days when i feel like my skin is crawling because there are far too many things that BOTHER ME, from a decorator's standpoint. Or even a female's standpoint. (Side note: NONE of these things bother my husband, not even a little tiny bit. I don't even think he would notice if i didn't point them out!)

I am going to show you some pictures... but first, some rules/disclaimers:
1 - Though shalt not judge green carpet or ugly furniture.
2 - Though shalt ignore things like visible cables and cords (MY PEEVE! Don't get me started!).
3 - Don't worry about the current placement of pictures/lamps/side tables. I moved the couch/chair recently but am not sure about it yet. So i will wait to move the accent pieces once i decide what we are doing in here.
4 - I do realize ugly green carpet is a first-world problem. I do have ACTUAL REAL problems that i have no control over. This is something i have (a little) control over. And thinking about this keeps my mind off of other things. Good distraction.
5 - Please share your ideas/wisdom/advice/what you would do if this were your living room!


PROBLEM #1 - the built-in entertainment center.
I hate that entertainment center. I really do. You may not think it's that bad, but it just doesn't work in this room. And i just don't like it. At all. I guess mainly because it looks so cluttered. There is no place to put cords. It takes up unnecessary space. Etc etc.

(Again, little side table with heater can be moved. Not concerned about that right now!) I have considered tearing it down, but when we peeked behind it, we saw that the "woodwork" (the bottom half of the wall) does not go behind the entertainment center. It is also not painted back there but that's an easy fix. But if we tore it down, it would have that "woodwork" all around the living room except that spot! I mean, i guess we would just put another piece of furniture there to hide that? I don't know. 

PROBLEM #2: the outdated armoire.

Again, ignore all that stuff previously mentioned in the disclaimers, and also that my new computer is on a TV tray! My new computer desk comes in TOMORROW! :)

But this armoire. I don't like it.

I have never liked it, except that it was Brad's granny's & she gave it to him. I also love the storage space. But the piece is big and now that i am getting a desk, I want it out or it will be too cluttered in here. I was going to give it away, which Brad is okay with, but my mom says she thinks i will regret it if i do. That all it needs is paint & new hardware & stuff like that. But i don't know. It's ginormous. And i might say i will update it for 12 years before i actually do.

My friend has someone who may give me his armoire, in which case i WILL get rid of this AND that corner entertainment center! Honestly, if he gives me his armoire, that will solve so many problems in here! But he may not. He doesn't know me and it is a NICE piece of furniture!! I can't afford to buy it. So i don't know. In case i don't get it, I need to know if you would get rid of this one, or if you have a vision for it that i am not seeing. :)

Just to be clear... even if i keep this armoire, it will not stay in this room. But once we move, it might have a place in the living room again. IF it's all cute & updated.

This is the other side of the room. Least favorite thing is Brad's chair, but really. We have green carpet. I am just not going to worry about this green chair right now.

It won't go in a new house though. Unless it's straight to his man cave! ;) 

The shelves are from Ashley Furniture & are the same color wood as the desk i am getting. I love them. The hutch is a hand-me-down from my mom, and i love it. It may go in another room when we have a house, but for now it goes here.

So there you go. Main things I need advice on: entertainment center & outdated armoire!

I thought this post would be a good time to bring back the old survey! Had such a great response on that the last time! :) So please, take the survey. Or leave a comment. Or both!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Thank you for your help!! :) I am excited to see what you think!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Favorite Books of 2013

I have been seeing others post their top reads of 2013, and I wanted to join in. I never have done this before, but I had some definite good reads this year, and i wanted to share them with you!

First of all, if you are on GoodReads, you should friend me there. Not that i really do anything except keep track of the books I've read. But whatever.

Take the order of these with a grain of salt. I had a hard time picking and choosing which was best and which wasn't. Although Kisses from Katie is DEFINITELY #1.

Also, keep in mind. Fiction is my favorite. Here we go. 

10. My Story
by Elizabeth Smart  
Do you remember her? Elizabeth was kidnapped in 2005 in the dead of night from her bedroom while she and her sister were sleeping. I remember seeing it on the news and being horrified, praying she would be found. Elizabeth was held captive for nine months. A few nights in she heard her uncle's voice calling her name but she couldn't respond or she and her uncle would be killed. Two months in, a cop questioned her but did not recognize her and she was too afraid to speak up. This innocent girl was raped at least once a day. She was also starved, as Brian David Mitchell (who is now behind bars for life without parole) didn't care whether she went days without food or not. The horrors she faced are tragic and terrible, and it is a miracle to me that she was found & that she is still such a beautiful spirit, a girl who found healing & did not allow what he did to her to ruin her for life. She is a very positive person, and a very grateful person. If you want to know what happened while she was gone, read this book. The ONLY reason i put it as number 10 is because, honestly, it is not the best writing. I wouldn't blame that on Elizabeth; she's not a writer. She's a great speaker & musician. :) I think some phrases are overused in this book, and it doesn't flow that well. But the story needed to be told & I am definitely glad i read it. 

9. Need You Now
by Beth Wiseman
 It's a christian fiction book about marriage & family. A couple dealing with real life... their marriage, their teenagers, etc. So much more to it than that. Good writing. I enjoyed it.

8. Blood Brother
by Anne Bird
Do you remember this one?! Another story on the news years ago. Scott Peterson was found guilty of killing his wife & their unborn son. I remember being really into this story, praying they would find Laci alive & safe. Sadly, that was not the case. I actually read this book years ago, & for some reason I picked it up this year and read it again. Anne Bird is Scott Peterson's biological sister, although she was put up for adoption and raised by her adoptive parents. She found her biological family about 5 years before Scott killed Laci. She grew close to Scott and Laci. This book is what happened through Anne's eyes and it is riveting. I think, if you weren't sure if Scott was guilty before, you would change your mind reading this book! Anne did not think her brother would even THINK of committing murder, but this book shows how she gradually came to see the truth. Good read. Very very good.

7. Not a Fan
by Kyle Idelman
 This is about being more than just a fan of Jesus, and becoming a true follower instead. There are a lot of fans of Jesus... not enough followers. This book will make you think & will make you take a look at yourself. Loved it.

6. Safe Haven
by Nicholas Sparks
 Don't hate! Haha. Sparks is an excellent writer! This was only my second one to read of his, but I thought it was very good. And the movie was okay... the book is better, of course!

5. Secrets Over Sweet Tea
by Denise Hildreth Jones
Christian chic lit. Funny but dealing with real life issues. Very enjoyable read!

4. June Bug
by Chris Fabry
The back of this book says "a modern re-telling of Les Miserables". Um... i wouldn't go THAT far, although I do see the similarities. June Bug is a christian book without being preachy. I didn't want to put it down!

3. Elly in Bloom
by Colleen Oakes 
I am not just saying this because Colleen is a blogger, or because she is probably one of my FAVORITE bloggers. LOVE reading her blog, it is so well written & always either makes me laugh or cry (or both!). :) But this isn't why i put her book as #3. I just really love it. It's good. Great characters, good storyline, and really funny.  Can't wait til her next book comes out! 
2. Wonder
by R.J. Palacio
I was visiting my good friend, and her husband put this book in my hand and told me to read it. He is a middle school principal, and he said this book was on the reading list for his school. One by one the teachers on his staff started reading it & loved it. Or something like that, I can't remember the details. The book is written for 9-12 year olds, so it's an easy read for us, but it is also very very good. It is about a boy who is different because of a facial deformity, and his middle school experience. I thought the book was very, very well-written, warm & even funny. Touching. Loved it.

1. Kisses from Katie: A story of relentless love & redemption
by Katie Davis
This is the story of a nineteen year old girl who went to Uganda for a missions trip, and did not want to come home. So, she didn't. I mean, she's made a few trips back to do fundraising or visit family, but for the most part she has stayed in Uganda. She adopted about 13 (if i remember right!) children. She gives selflessly, whatever she can, day after day. This is her life. HARD WORK. I don't even know what to say about this book except that i want to give Katie a hug! And that i want to give her kids a hug! That i want to go out there on a missions trip!! Haha. She is an amazing woman, who has a lot of truths to share with you in her book. A MUST READ! 

So there you have it. My top reads for 2013! What was your favorite read this year? 


Monday, January 6, 2014

The K. Family | Baton Rouge, LA

So, I don't know if you remember my friend Brittany, who blogs here, but I recently got the opportunity to photograph her & her family. I had a wonderful time.

Brittany's sister, Angela, who I met through Brittany but then got to know better through Angela's blog, was in America with her twins for the first time. (Her husband is in the Air Force & they are stationed in another country.) Brittany's mom had a party planned for friends & family to come say hi to Angela and her hubby, meet the twins, & celebrate their first birthdays. She hired me to come over and photograph the party. She had me come early to do a family photo session in their backyard.

I had a really great day with them. They are kind & so welcoming. And a lot of fun. :) Here are some of my favorite pics from their session.

The three sisters: Brittany, Angela & Shelley (left to right). 

Their mom & dad...

Shelley with her two kiddos...

Colby & Angela with Annabelle & Charlotte... This pic makes me smile. This couple is now on the other side of infertility. :) 

This next one cracks me UP!! I can't believe i got this... but i love it. The things aunties will do to get their nieces to smile for the camera! :)

And last of all, a pic of the entire family. 

The M. Family | Downtown Baton Rouge

Back in November, I did a shoot for one of my very best friends, Mandy. Her hubby, Billy, is the worship leader at our church, and we have become good friends with them. Love them so much!

Mandy wanted me to do a shoot of a bunch of her family members; she wanted to use the pictures for Christmas gifts for her mom. I needed to wait until after Christmas to blog them or facebook them since it was a gift & she didn't want her mom to see it!

Here are my favorites from the session.

Billy & Mandy with their niece & nephews (& one great-niece) :)
The grandchildren (Billy & Mandy's niece & nephews)

Mandy's nephews & their mom

Billy & Mandy with Billy's sister and her family. 

Susie & her family
(They asked me what to wear - i told them bold solids - they delivered! I love color in pictures!) :)

Siblings Susie & Billy (I sing on the praise team with Susie... love her!) 

Mandy & Billy!!! Love them! 

Now, you have to watch this next series of pictures... HILARIOUS. :) 

 So cute, right?!

Billy snapped this one of me & Mandy. LOVE HER!