The Great Bedroom Switch-Up…Part 1 (The Attic Master Bedroom)

When we first moved into this house almost 10 years ago we were amused with the charming attic bedroom with its dormers and curious angles. “Perfect” for our two little girls to share and play in the nooks and crannies! Wrong! They hated the space and wouldn’t sleep up there because they were scared of having the top floor all to themselves so far away from my husband and I in the downstairs bedroom.

Fast forward 10 years, they are 13 an 17 years old and in desperate need of space! The minuscule closet in their teeny tiny shared bedroom can not begin to hold all of their clothes and the result is piles upon piles of clothes everywhere! We made efforts to effectively use the space: We built a loft bed for our younger daughter over top the other bed to give them more floor space and installed a closet organizer and shoe hanger behind the door. We even took the closet door off so that it wouldn’t open into the space, taking up much needed room! But the simple fact is that two teenage girls can not function full time in a space that is much smaller than even a standard dorm room!

As a family we collectively spent hours lamenting over how to resolve this problem. Move one to the basement? Nah, its a little dreary down there. Move Hayden into their room and they could take the old family room he now inhabits? Not even an option, Hayden has far too many toys and is in need of all the open floor space he can get for train tracks and dinosaur stomping grounds. Further, that room is a passageway to the upstairs so privacy is at a premium. The only logical result was for John and I to give up our master, attic bedroom, that we had taken over from the girls all those years ago because they refused to sleep up there. We remodeled it about seven years ago and installed not one, but two, large closets and completely made it new again!

We began by taking down our king size bed (its a good thing we like to snuggle) and set up twin beds for the girls on adjacent walls. I haven’t quite given up my closet yet but the master closets are so large that BOTH girls can put ALL of their hanging clothes in just one! We have to complete another project before my clothes can go downstairs! Next, we switched out dressers and moved around some rugs and they are in! Oh, and did I mention that I purged massive amounts of junk! My girls are apparently hoarders! We also utilized some old steamer trunks that I had around the house for dual storage and a joint nightstand and cleaned up Polly’s favorite spot, the love seat, for extra seating or guests! Last night was their first official night in the new digs and after dinner we didn’t see them for the rest of the evening!

As for John and I, re-adjusting to the tiny downstairs bedroom is coming along, most difficult part so far…the full size bed!!

Its Project Time Baby!

Basketball season has come to an end and our family has taken a few days to re-cooperate and now its project time baby! My version of Spring Fever, much to my poor husband’s dismay!

The first project on the list …the Great Bedroom Switch Up! We have been talking about this one since Christmas and trying to prepare ourselves physically and mentally! Our teenage daughters need more space in our tiny house…the only option …giving them the upstairs master attic bedroom! I’ll be posting later this week about the process but I can’t wait for our oldest daughter to see it! She is gonna be over the moon! Ahhh closet space!

We have a few other projects coming up this spring, including some furniture redos (John is better at this than he gives himself credit for!) And even a little barbecuing – we sold the pit smoker a year or so ago but we still have some tips and tricks up our sleeves for a little wedding catering!

Join is in this next chapter of our year as Team Gunter transitions from the basketball court back to our backyard and beyond!!

Let Yourselves Be Great!

As I am preparing today for our first round of post-season play in our district quarterfinals, I think about what I want to say to my team before we exit the locker-room and the take the floor for what could be their last game of the season.  One phrase comes to mind over and over again….”Let Yourselves Be Great Tonight.”

I love my cast of characters! They are funny and determined and courageous, but not always at the same time. Often a few are scared or timid or unsure of their abilities, and it is these traits that create cracks in our collective armor and allow doubt and negative thoughts to creep in; which ultimately effects the way we play as a team.  Instead of being warriors and positive teammates they allow trepidation to cause them to withhold their talents and communicate negatively or not communicate at all with their teammates and coaches.

This is the same concept we must consider in our Christian lives.  God wants us to live our lives in a way that glorifies Him, a difficult task if we are constantly doubting ourselves and our abilities.  Not fully believing in ourselves and our God-given abilities and gifts dims the light that we can allow God the shine through us!  As for me, I want to be a beacon, allowing God’s love and power to shine through me onto other people; isn’t that what He calls us to do?

So, my challenge for my team as we exit the locker-room and prepare for battle… “Let Yourselves Be Great!”  Open your hearts and minds and maintain a positive attitude that allows greatness to enter your lives (and your game) and give it your all.

  • Believe in yourselves the way that I believe in you.
  • Pull together as a team and communicate with each other for a common goal.
  • Focus on the details about the game that you can control (rebounding effort and technique, hustle, positive communication with teammates and coaches, and refusing to allow self-doubt creep upon you).
  • Maintain a positive attitude that allows good things to happen in your game.
  • Let yourself enjoy this game, believing in your talents and God-given abilities.

Are we guaranteed the outcome we want? Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way; but I am in full belief that win or lose they will never regret opening themselves up to allowing greatness to flow through them and playing the game all out the way it is supposed to be played!   Be Great Tonight Ladies!

Enjoy the Ride

I have been on a slight hiatus from blogging the last couple of weeks due to the sheer insanity of our family and personal schedules!  I have had work and volleyball tournaments, and travel, and back-to-back basketball games, that have kept me busier than I could have ever dreamed.  So much for planning blog posts ahead! I have just been washing enough underwear and blue jeans to get everyone through the week and buying pretty much only lunch box packing supplies at the grocery store; who has had time to cook! It has been a wild ride and my family and I have been hanging on for dear life!  I am thankful for the help of my in-laws who have kept our little man some so he has not had to endure four straight nights of basketball games, and they ensured he studied his spelling words and did his nightly reading! Bleacher-butt at age seven is not a good thing my friends!  20180127_1501071139183230.jpg

Other than the exhaustion, we sure have had a good time!  Our oldest daughter is enjoying her club volleyball team so much that I would travel to the ends of the Earth to watch her play; fortunately for us the “ends of the Earth” really meant a conference center with an indoor water-park to swim between games!  Our middle daughter completed her first season of high school basketball, a dream she and I have talked about for many years now!  They finished 3rd in their district, not bad for a group of 8th graders on a Junior Varsity team; but accompanied with a lesson about being consistent for your teammates and giving your best effort on each and every occasion!  And finally, our Hayden completed his recreational basketball season and he learned this year to bounce pass and dribble with his left hand!  I am a super proud Momma!

20180203_123735108684152.jpgAs for Husband and I, somehow, with a ton of prayer and impeccable scheduling, we managed to keep up and are ever thankful for this season in our lives.  We realize now, more than ever, that there will be a day when we will not have jerseys to wash or buses catch or snack bags to put together and we will miss our three little whirlwinds, blowing up havoc in our lives.

So for now, we are buckling down and enjoying the ride!

 

The Four Words…

There are four words that, when said, will bring out the best in your team, your employees and your family. They are:

“I believe in you.”

Coach K.

Not that I am a Duke or Coach K. fan in general, but he’s hit the nail on the head! It is a motto for my life as a mother, public service provider and basketball coach and mentor. Those four words change everything!

An important note to remember, believing and investing in people more DOES bring out the best in our family, peers and players and create positive change, but these positive attributes do not necessarily happen on our time schedule. We must continue our commitment to those in whom we bestow our belief, even when they disappoint us or move more slowly then we would like. Keep believing and providing loving support, I promise its an investment that costs very little and yet the gains are unimaginable!

I Believe In You!

The One Hour Laundry Blitz!

20180120_213908698876566.jpgCommence the laundry blitz!  Its Friday morning, the kids are FINALLY back in school.  Husband has a meeting and is out of the house.  He graciously folded a mountain of laundry which now inhabits the dining room table and will surely increase the amount of clothes hidden in our bedrooms that already needs put away!  I am so desperate not to have to deal with this mess any longer that I rescheduled an appointment in my office to eek out a precious hour to run around my house like crazy destroying laundry piles in my path! I have exactly one hour…On my mark, get set, GO!

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Seems absurd to “schedule” time for simple chores like putting away laundry; but for a working momma of 3 who also coaches a high school basketball team, attends everyone’s extracurricular endeavors and wants to enjoy any “free” time not spent in the bleachers with her husband and kids…it is a necessary evil!  I’ve found that “scheduling” time for specific chores in my home or office serves me better than opting to “get to it when I have time.”  In that event laundry piles up, the house looks like an episode of Hoarders and I can’t remember when I last swept or mopped the floors!

On the flip side of this, please know that I have pinned and attempted the “weekly cleaning chart” genre and find that it does not, in any way, work for my family.  I do not always have time to scrub the toilet, nor would I want to, on Friday evenings at 6:00 p.m.  So, we all have to figure out for ourselves what works for our family calendars.  As for mine, we have a full morning of recreational basketball and team pictures with Hayden, to be followed by a quick shoot around with my team and then 4 more basketball games before we make it back home…No time for laundry today but, this laundry basket and I have scheduled another date tonight!!

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Happy Folding!!

Love Them More – An Approach to Program Building in Youth and High School Sports

pexels-photo-356319.jpegIts the new year and the heart of basketball season which means our backyard is empty while we spend vast amounts of our time in a gym!  Our coaching staff has been putting a lot of thought into program building and the never-ending pursuit of fundamental players with the attitude we desire in the program.  The first step…determining what we deem are the core values of our program and what are the most important fundamentals an athlete needs to possess to play at a high school level.  The challenge for our program in recent years is having athletes that were just that – athletes!  We have, as a whole, lacked athleticism both physically and mentally and an advanced understanding of the game.  My job as a coach…. fix this going forward and quickly!!

First, in dealing with my current players we began back in the summer developing the idea of this team as their “family”.  We had cookouts in my backyard, we participated in team-building activities and topped off our summer with a back-to-school trip to Pigeon Forge and Dollywood.  We laughed, rode rides and learned to put up tents in the rain!  Overall, not a bad start to the school year and season.  The next step: getting my players to believe in themselves the way that I believe in them.  We may be missing some fundamentals as a team but overall they are a great group of kids with a ton of heart and potential both as basketball players and fantastic individuals!  I am convinced that confidence will come if I just love them more – they will come to believe in themselves and their abilities as athletes and leaders!

The second step in the process is to ensure that our younger players as well as future players in this program understand the expectations of the program and continually work on their individual, fundamental skills that will allow them to grow as an athlete and person.  When I took over the high school program 3 years ago I was the 3rd varsity coach in as many years and the team was coming off a bit of a disappointing season, given the talent that we had on the team.  We lacked continuity in every way.  We lacked core values and team concept as well as overall basic basketball skills.  The advantage that my young players now have is that most of them have played together since they were very young, most of them actually played recreational basketball or on a travel team for me!  I know exactly what basic skills they have been taught, what team expectations they have been held to in the past and their parents understand this as well.  Therefore, I have come to the understanding that the only way this program is going to develop in the positive direction that I  desire is for myself and coaching staff to be more involved in the development of players at a young age.

20140222_154746489038885.jpgWhen my current younger players were just learning to dribble in those first years on rec or travel teams we absolutely LOVED the game, by “we” I mean me and the kids both!  It was so much fun seeing them progress and learn.  We played games that focused on specific skills and were consistently positive with them and in the process they developed into hard-working and focused players that strive to work on their fundamentals each day as the game becomes more advanced and their bodies change and adapt.  I loved every moment of coaching in those early years and likewise love each and every one of those kids!  The kids, they love us and the game too!  They are usually the first in the gym, more likely to do their summer workouts and have developed friendships with each other that has developed into a sisterhood.  Now, that is not to say that they haven’t struggled.  They are still young in their tenure as high school athletes, they have dealt with a faster-paced game, learning to be leaders, adapting to new players as well as a few injuries; but I fully believe that those early memories and exposure to this sport will carry them and will become a guidepost as they grow as athletes and fabulous young women!

Our program goal for the future:  have more exposure with the youth athletes in our community.  Make sure in their formative years of play they are being taught basic fundamentals in a positive way that builds confidence, a desire to focus and improve, and the core ethical and moral values that we require in the high school program.  Its also about changing the mindset of the parents at these young ages.  In the formative years (and always) players need twice as much practice as games; so parents, you have to get your kids there!  Also, don’t just sit back and expect everyone else to teach your kid about hard work.  Encourage them and praise them for hustle and hard work, not just scoring at games but also great effort at practice, being a good teammate and paying attention to detail in their game and that of their team.  A final note on parents, Play With Them! Especially when they are young, they love for you to get out on the floor or in the driveway with them; not to instruct them on a drill or shooting technique but in a game of “Horse” or “Gotcha”!  Even as they get older, young players love to “beat” you, so lace up your Nikes and get out there and play with them!

 

 

 

 

Snow Days and Legos – A Quick Organizing Project for Our Little Toy Hoarder

This week a flu scare and being quarantined to this house for a day or so actually gave way to a little organizing project in Hayden’s room! We recently cut down our daughter’s loft and Hayden-sized it to fit his room. This gave us extra, much needed, play space for him and a way to attempt to wrangle his ever-growing Lego collection.

 

I had the bright idea to move the thousands of Lego bricks to plastic organizational drawers a few months ago. We initially attempted to sort said bricks by color….bad idea! We aborted and just threw them all in the drawers with mini-figures and teeny tiny pieces in the top two drawers! 20180116_1837391849956972.jpg These drawers are not stylish by any means and I am sure there are nicer ways to organize this collection but for my 7 year old these drawers work like a gem! And I’m not overly mad when he “accidentally” marks on them with permanent marker. The clear plastic drawers allow him to see the contents while keeping it all contained in one place, well sorta!

I had originally wanted my husband to build Hayden a Lego station and had elaborate plans for him, BUT….it basketball season, our oldest is playing travel volleyball, Hayden is in recreational basketball and John and I both still work….the likelihood of a project like this getting completed if we wait to build something….HIGHLY UNLIKELY….scratch that, IMPOSSIBLE! SO, I  started searching around the house and found the perfect little table in my home office. Granted, it was holding my basketball files, records, playbooks, etc…but with a little switching around I unearthed the perfect sized table!!! It is a little folding black table, probably originally purchased for camping; heck, I really don’t know how it got into this house but I was thankful all the same.

 

I added adhesive block strips to the edge of the table to help keep the tiny pieces on the table instead of in the floor and squeezed it all under his loft perfectly! The rest of the day was spent tidying up the other storage spaces, cleaning out his storage bins and purging anything I could get away with without Hayden figuring out what I was doing! The result: a pretty nice space for him to play and utilize his Legos without them being strewn across the floor like a sadistic game of Frogger for his Dad and I while trying to carry our weary carcasses to bed at night!

Not to bad for a momma feeling like crud!!

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Making 2018 Our Most God-Glorifying Year

pexels-photo-597331.jpegA couple weeks ago I posted about my 2018 Resolutions and being more intentional in my goals. You can check out this previous post here:

 https://abackyardlife.wordpress.com/2018/01/02/the-resolutions/

I was out of town this weekend and missed our church sermon on Sunday but was beyond pleased to get to watch it online this afternoon.  It was like a little checkpoint for my Resolutions tab, especially concerning my relationship with God and becoming the person/Christian that He wants me to be.

The theme of the sermon:  Making 2018 Your Most God-Glorifying Year!  This spoke volumes to me, since it’s what I have been praying and writing about lately…being more intentional in my relationship with God and letting that light shine in all other aspects of my life!

flowers-desk-office-vintage.jpgThe first point of the sermon, develop a personal schedule or calendar that makes more time for God (or whatever you are striving to be intentional about in this new year).  Pastor Allen made a comment that scheduling this time is “less about what I have to get done and more about who I want to become.”   This causes us to think differently about the value of our time, giving us a sense of urgency with following God’s will or allowing ourselves to realize that will.   Calendaring and scheduling time to become the person God has called me to be…right up my alley.  I may even have to go make a To-Do List about it!

You can catch the sermon here: https://hf.church/page/467?Item=540

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My Grandmother’s Jade

Isn’t it a wonder to think of how we cherish family heirlooms.  Its never the trinket itself that makes grandma’s china or great-great grandpa’s watch priceless in a family, but the memories it represents.  The thought that our loved one held that watch in his hand everyday or fed most of our relatives on those very plates gives us a feeling of closeness and fond memories.

In my family, that heirloom is my grandmother’s jade plant!  It is a living and “breathing” reminder of her love for growing things and the way she took care of us.  It is also a benchmark for our family.  It has lived in numerous houses and made countless transitions, yet it survives.  It’s a plant, I know you are thinking “why is she getting all philosophical over a stinking plant?”  Well, its more than 30 years old to start and my grandmother passed away almost 20 years ago!  But perhaps the most miraculous part about this family heirloom is that it is still living and God is in control of its life and growth, just the way He is in control of ours!  It is a visible reminder that life and love endure and that the life that my grandmother cared for, watered and enjoyed still flourishes today!

We have countless stories in my family regarding this plant.  The most famed involving my younger sister and her imaginary friend, “Johnny”, who enjoyed pinching the thick leaves of the young jade plant.  When scolded by my grandmother for squishing the jade leaves and making them fall to the ground, my sister was always happy to blame “Johnny” for this atrocity….that is until the day my grandmother pointed her long index finger at him and told him that she better not find that he had pinched her jade again and further, he was no longer welcome in her home; he needed to leave and not return if he could not behave himself.  Johnny never returned and the image of my grandmother arguing with thin-air is forever etched into my memory.

When I was 11 or 12 years old, my grandmother had passed away several years before, and my grandfather worked out of town for several months at a time.  I was given the responsibility to go to his house once a week and water the jade and other plants.  I enjoyed this, my first “big girl” chore.  I could walk up the road to my grandparents’ house by myself, take the key they had made for me, and was in charge of keeping the jade alive while my grandpa was away!  In those trips I would sit in my grandmother’s bedroom where the jade sat in the window and indulge in the memories I made with her there.  I could hear her talking to me about caring for plants and of course how to keep pestering imaginary friends far away!

About 12 years ago, as the winter doldrums came to an end and the warmth of spring filled our home THE JADE BLOOMED!  We had no idea it could even do that!  In more than twenty years it had never bloomed and it only lasted for that short season and has not since!  It was a blessing!  We reminisced about my grandmother and marveled at how she would have loved to have seen such a sight! We documented the momentous occasion with photographs and constant attention to our little blessing!

Today, the jade flourishes in my mother’s home in front of the french doors leading to her deck.  I think about how the jade has grown since she moved it to North Carolina 8 years ago (Mom developed my grandmother’s green thumb), and how my grandmother would have loved the view onto mom’s back deck as well!

So, here’s to family heirlooms!  May the memories they provide continue to grow in our hearts and minds just like my grandmother’s jade!

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