Tell Me Something Good

As I was scrolling through my Facebook last night before bed I noticed a post by a friend that said:  “Tell me something good…”

Maybe it was the late hour, but this really got me to thinking about my perspective lately.  The last two weeks have been a little crazier than normal and I have struggled with a negative attitude.  I had recognized this negativity, which I think is largely fueled by being a little tired and trying to get into the swing of things in my office now that basketball season has ended…it doesn’t help that Husband has been out of town for training, making evenings at home more chaotic than usual! Not fully understanding how to work my way out of this funk I began praying about it this week and of course God always answers in the most wonderful ways…

My answer:  “Tell Me Something Good”

Reading through the comments of people I don’t even know about what made them happy this week caused an instant improvement of my mood and outlook on life!  Posts like “I’m off this weekend” or “School is on two hour delay tomorrow” made me happy too!  Other posts, like the one from a grandmother who was going to see her grandchildren for the first time in months, just continued to improve my perspective!  So much so I began thinking about what I intended to post – What made me happy this week?  What’s “good” that is going on around me? What will uplift others?

So here is my challenge… TELL ME SOMETHING GOOD!  Share this, comment and spread good vibes! You never know who you may be blessing just by posting about something that made you happy today!

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Up In Smoke…The Reformed Life of Part-Time Pitmasters

Its been one year since we handed over the keys to our beloved BBQ catering trailer and watched it, and our little part-time BBQ life, drive off into the distance.

Something you may not know about Husband and I, about 6 years ago we started a barbecue catering and concessions business.  It is one of a couple side gigs that we have owned/held.  It all started not long after Hayden was born and I went back to work (a week later – no maternity leave for a sub-contractor) and was just unhappy with my career and whining about wanting my own business.  So, Husband took our tax return and drove to Athens, Georgia and bought a smoker!  Not that I ever said I wanted to be a barbecue caterer…nevertheless I stopped complaining about having my own business!

I am a decent cook but not trained formally and had NEVER in my life “smoked” anything!  Husband began experimenting with temperatures, woods and cuts of meat while I concocted several barbecue sauces and learned how to make coleslaw and my own version of baked beans.  You read that correctly, I am a country girl who did not like and had never made coleslaw or baked beans!  No worries though, I have mended my ways and by the time we closed our proverbial doors last year I had it down to a fine art!

Soon, Husband and I signed up to do concessions at a few local festivals.  I think we only smoked 3 pork shoulders (Boston Butts) the first festival!  By the end, we would smoke anywhere from 25-30 Boston Butts for a single day festival and hope that we didn’t run out of barbecue!  Our little business grew in no time and by the fall of that year we were catering our first wedding!  It was on our anniversary of all days! In the early days we smoked the day of an event and hand-pulled all of the barbecue!  Thinking about it now, I am not sure how we had time to do anything else…I do recall MANY late nights and super early mornings.  We eventually purchased a tool for Husband’s drill that made light work of pulling the pork and even had the ability to smoke days and months in advance by vacuum sealing and freezing the barbecue!  No more were rainy or cold days a hindrance to the timing of our events or our stress levels!

It was a great time in our lives.  As our girls grew they enjoyed helping out at concession events and catered affairs.  Their favorites were always weddings; Elle and Christina became expert bubble-blowers and bird seed throwers, as well as baked bean connoisseurs and held the secret to our coveted, homemade blackberry barbecue sauce.  These events also peaked Christina’s interest in photography as she was never far behind when the wedding photographer pulled out his camera; the girls even made their way into several photographic memories! It was an amazing experience to be a small part of someone’s special day.  As a criminal defense attorney, I do not often have the opportunity to witness my clients’ happy moments and catering was a welcomed break.

But I suppose every part of our lives only remains in a season and barbecue season had come to an end for us.  Our girls are older and more active than ever and we realized that it was more important for us to relish every warm summer afternoon or fall day with them , rather than slinging barbecue out of a concession window or spending long nights cleaning up long after the wedding reception ended and the bride and groom drove off into the sunset!  Also, barbecue catering is exhausting, back-breaking work and Husband and I did not have as many “all-nighters” in us as we did 6 years ago!

We cherished our time behind the smoker and the benefits it brought our family ($$ and LOTS of family time in our cramped concession trailer, along with lessons of hard work and kindness) but for now the impending break in the weather means we lace up our hiking shoes instead of tying on our aprons!

Who knows, maybe we will fire up the smoker and venture our of retirement when the kids are all away at college…maybe!

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Our Top 10 Favorite Children’s Books

Today is Read Across America Day!  And if you are a busy momma like me, the only books you have time to read on a regular basis are children’s books!  That’s okay though, we are inspiring the next generation of readers!

I browsed through the bookshelf in Hayden’s room to pick out the Gunter Family’s most cherished children’s books.  The ones that bear Elle’s name scratched in the cover or are falling apart from so many turned pages.  The books that I dare not part with as the kids grow older due to the memories that these books bring to me and in hopes my grand-children will hear them one day!  Here are our Top 10 Favorite Children’s Books:

 1.  Demolition, by Sally Sutton, Illustrated by Brian Lovelock.  This book is very simple but fun to read. The rhyme pattern is interesting and Hayden enjoys it (so does Mom).

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2.  Secrets of Animal Camouflage, by Carron Brown, Illustrated by Wesley Robins.  This book is fun for two reasons.  First, Hayden loves to talk about animal camouflage and also because when you shine a light behind each page the camouflaged animals appear to glow!

3.  Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton. Mike and his steam   shovel, Mary Anne, are common figures in our home and his drive and determination are welcomed traits!  Also, his kindness as well as that of the entire town who supports him.

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4.  Aliens Love Underpants, by Claire Freedman & Ben Cort.  This Scholastic Book was originally Elle’s and I am sure the product of a book fair at school. However, it has become a bedtime staple around here.   The pictures are vibrant and the story is fun and entertaining for kids and parents alike!

 

5.  Halloween Night, by Marjorie Dennis Murray, Illustrations by Brandon Dorman.  I must confess, in this house we LOVE all things Halloween!  While I am not so much into graveyard tours or haunted houses; we gobble up all things kiddie Halloween, like cute books about goblins, or cheesy movies and especially home-made costumes!  This is our favorite Halloween book (and take heed that we have quite a selection to choose from)! In this book we join in as a band of banshees and other creepy creatures prepare for a Halloween feast – monster style!

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6.  Sideways Stories From Wayside School, by Louis Sachar, Illustrated by Julie Brinckloe.  This book brings back fond memories for me!  My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Hale, would read these stories to our class in the most amazing way!  The characters came to life and I could vividly imagine what life was like on the thirtieth floor!  These short stories are perfect for a night when quick bedtime reading is required!

7.  Zoomer, written and illustrated by Ned Young.  Another Scholastic Book in our collection.  This book has been read so many times it is literally falling apart at the seams!  There was a time when Hayden actually made me read this every night for a month!  This book joins Zoomer and his brothers who can not understand why Zoomer is being so defiant about getting ready for school!

8.  Little Blue Truck, by Alice Schertle, Illustrated by Jill McElmurry.  I know this one is a bit of a cult favorite but for good reason!  I tend to be behind parenting trends at times so when I finally purchased this book for Hayden the craze had already began and the Little Blue Truck had an entire empire.  Nonetheless, his even demeanor and kindness  toward  all of his friends, even the big truck that wasn’t as nice as he should have been, make this book a must have for every collection!

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9.  Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss.  Of course a Dr. Suess book makes the list! This is my brood’s favorite of the Dr. Suess books; although Hayden told me today that the character who refuses the green eggs and ham has “anger management issues”!  Never a dull moment with this one!

10.   Home For A Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by Garth Williams.  This book was my all time go-to book as a child!  This book was published in 1956 and enjoyed its Seventh Printing in 1977!  The pictures are beautiful and sweet! When I read this book to my children, I really hear my Momma’s voice reading it to me!

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So there you have it, Team Gunter’s favorite children’s books!

What are your recommendations for our collection??

Happy Reading!!

 

A Quick Dresser Re-Do For Our New and Improved (Slightly Smaller) Bedroom

If you have been following along you will know that we are undergoing The Great Bedroom Switch-Up 2018!  While we are not quite ready to reveal our new and improved, albeit tiny master bedroom, I can show you one piece that I convinced Husband to makeover for me and I’m thrilled with the results!!

The Mission (he had no choice but to accept it): Turn a hand-me-down dresser from my uncle into a piece of furniture worthy of our new master bedroom and without spending any money! Afterall, I needed a new rug for under the bed!!

The Good:  It is an all wood-dresser of decent quality and small scale, perfect for our new downstairs space!

 

 

The Bad:  I think the story is that this particular piece of furniture came from my grandpa.  It was a dresser used by my Uncle Dean as a child, probably in the early 70’s, complete with scratches, a thick coat of polyurethane and even a burn mark on the top (don’t ask me how that got there)! Additionally,  Husband lost his big toenail in a mishap while he and I were moving this dresser to the basement workshop! Ouch!

Public Service Announcement:  It’s best to move furniture with your shoes ON!

The Process:   I knew exactly what I had in mind and thankfully Husband and I were on the same page!  I just knew the top would sand and stain nicely but I also wanted the wooden handles removed, sanded and stained as well!  The base of the dresser was to be painted the same cream-like color as the trim in our new space!

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Husband began by sanding the top of the dresser to smooth out years of wear and tear and that pesky burn mark.  He then applied multiple layers of primer to the base of the dresser, as the aged polyurethane finish caused the primer to discolor.  We initially considered sanding the entire base to remove the build-up but, after a brief discussion with the lady at the paint counter at Lowe’s, we decided to paint primer over it.  Next he painted the base and stained the top.  Then Husband sanded and stained the drawer pulls (they turned out nicer than I had imagined).  We ran into a quick hiccup when we decided to clear coat the base to protect the painted finish.  The poly-acrylic clear coat yellowed the underlying paint on the base!  Yikes, we were afraid that we would have to strip the base and start over!!  Thankfully, another consultation with the paint desk lady revealed that we could just paint back over the clear coat and fix the problem!  During this process my clothes were stacked in baskets all over the floor, this is a serious problem for someone trying to re-design a teeny tiny room!  We needed this project completed quickly.

Ta-Da:  This finished product is amazing.  I love the richness of the top and the stain color compliments beautifully with the paint on the walls!  I can’t wait  to get this room finished and share!!

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 The Cost:  Other than poor Husband’s big toenail and a can of poly-acrylic that we didn’t need anyway…not a thing!! (We painted the base the same color as the trim and used a can of stain we had downstairs!)

Up Next:  Thrift shopping for a few more pieces to make the room complete!

5 Reasons Why My Husband is Better Than Yours!

Ok, so this is a little subjective but humor me here!  I know that every faithful wife must feel this way and that’s fine with me, I won’t argue with you!  Nevertheless, my husband, John, is amazing; and I am not touting this as a newlywed with no idea what real life looks like…nope, I’ve lived with this man for almost 10 years!  Along with all the blissful good times, we have dealt with financial struggles, the ins and outs of raising children in a blended family, career changes, and even the loss of a child.  We are battle tested and have enjoyed more than one simple season of life together without driving each other completely crazy!

When reflecting on what makes us “work” I thought of so many positive attributes that my husband possesses that compliments our family and makes him the “best”.  But, I have narrowed it down a bit to specific instances that make him a superstar in our family!  It was a difficult task, but here it goes:

5.  He Does The Dishes Regularly And Without (Much) Complaint!

 

I give him major credit on this one!  I HATE doing the dishes!  We are a team and I try tirelessly to keep everyone in clean underwear and socks while John is happy to clean up the kitchen after dinner and wash the dishes that are not dishwasher safe; mainly because he knows that I will just stick that stuff in the dishwasher anyway, knowing it won’t get clean! The fact is that he does not love doing the dishes either but he scrubs them every day anyway because he knows I hate it!

4.  He Rescued Both of Our Dogs. 20170523_2241071308115395.jpg Don’t worry, I’m not leaving out his tremendous fatherly qualities in respect to our actual children.  It’s just when considering which of us would bring home stray pets, I would have put money on me any day of the week; but the truth is that John is not only the father to our 3 beautiful children but HE is the one that showed up in our driveway with a pitbull in the front seat of his work vehicle telling me that “he just could not leave her behind!”  I thought he was out of his mind bringing that dog to our house, he knew I would want to keep her! What business did we have with a pitbull anyway!?!  Little did I know that she would be snoring on the couch beside me while our Yorkie dozes on the headrest above my head, both bringing tremendous joy to my life!  You see, its his unselfish compassion, even for an animal that we had no real business keeping in our house, that makes this man so special!

3.  He Can Find His Way Around A Toolbox. pexels-photo-210881.jpeg I have full faith and belief that he can fix or build absolutely anything! In fact I have an entire Pinterest board entitled “Things I Want John to Make for Me.”  The truth is, that I volunteer him to “fix” way more projects around here than he is always comfortable attempting. He doesn’t complain though, he just researches whatever scheme I have put him up to and then goes to work!  As a result, we save a ton of money by doing things ourselves and we often learn new skills to complete tasks we never thought we could complete.  He proves to himself and to our kids that with a little more effort and elbow grease, nothing is impossible!

2.  He Has Converted to a Hard Core (Girls) Basketball Fan!  Eight years ago when our youngest daughter started recreational basketball and I had the big idea that I could coach the team; John told me that “we could not coach a basketball team”.  “I had no business coaching (I was pregnant at the time) and he knew nothing about basketball!” Fast forward 8 years, and I just completed my 3rd season as the girls varsity basketball coach at our local high school and our daughter was on the junior varsity team this year.  Actually, I have coached a team of some kind EVERY year since that first one 8 years ago!  And each year John takes a bigger and bigger role with my teams.  This season he was approved by the school board as an assistant coach!  He films games, discusses defenses, endures endless conversations about player rotations and offensive movement and has decided that he will be our new strength and conditioning coach this coming season!  Not to mention the fact that he probably watches 3-6 games per week, owns a Tennessee Lady Volunteer hat, follows along with the team on Twitter and even watches games on television!  He is officially hooked!  All of this from a football and baseball guy!  I often joke that we are Team Gunter but we truly are a team, even if that means finding interest in something the other loves!

And, here is it the #1 Reason My Husband is Better Than the Rest…

1.  I Prayed For Him And God Answered!  I was tired, my life had changed dramatically, and I felt as though I had finally overcome the obstacles standing in my way and with a ton of faith, I was standing on my own two feet again!  My prayer:  “God, if you have someone planned for me, please send him; otherwise, thank you for getting me to this place in my life, my daughter and I are doing well and I do not need anyone not sent by You.”  I was introduced to John a week later!  God is so faithful!

So, there it is…the top 5 reasons why I married the most amazing man around!  And a quick reminder that its really the “little” things in life, like cheering on a girls basketball team that mean the most in a marriage and in life!  Also, keep in mind that God always hears our prayers!

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My One Year Blogiversary!

pexels-photo-597331.jpegThis week officially marked my One Year Blogiversary!  While I still have a long way to go, I have learned so much in the last year!  When I began this process the learning curve was enormous for me; technologically speaking, I could basically only check my own email, much less understand plug-ins or themes! But I did a ton of reading and asked a bunch of questions of fellow bloggers who have helped me to understand this process.  Aren’t blogging communities wonderful?!?

I am currently working on posting more often and doing a better job of planning posts. My top goal for this year was to become more consistent with my blog!  I purchased a blog planner from Jennifer Carroll at www.CelebratingEverydayLife.com and it has been super helpful in keeping me on track! Not to mention that it is easy to use and beautiful! I am also working to connect with other bloggers and hope to take some online courses this spring!  Otherwise, this year my continued goals for this blog are to continue to help it grow and have a greater reach in the blogging and social media communities!  And of course to learn more about tools to make this blog more compatible.

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Thank you to all those who have supported me by reading along, following, sharing, and liking posts.  Beginning this journey was a bit of a leap of faith and frankly a little terrifying, making the out-pouring of support I have received  a true blessing!

A final thought:  You can’t always wait on the perfect time to chase your dreams, sometimes you must dare to jump! 

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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!