Mom Life – Are You A Mary or A Martha??

As women in today’s world we take the word “busy” to a whole new level!  In a life full of distractions and a society with a constant sense of “more” it is so easy to be swept up in the details of living everyday life that we miss the important parts!!  Today is the day we ask ourselves:  Are you a Martha or a Mary?

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We began a women’s bible study in my church last night from a series called “Living Life Together.”  First of all let me say that for as many years as I have considered myself a Christian, with the exception of a brief summer youth group experience, I have never really participated in a bible study group!  So, this was a first for me, and had this been a month ago I would have told you that I was too busy to participate in a bible study on Wednesday evenings!  Occasionally it is refreshing to be wrong!!

The study began by chronicling the busy lives of women and how easy it is to become so preoccupied with the aspects of surviving the day to day of our very full lives that we step away from what is truly important.

In Luke 10:38-42 the bible chronicles the story of Mary and Martha, two sisters who learn that Jesus has come to their village and will visit their home!  As he arrives and is welcomed into the home, Mary simply sits at his feet – listening to Him and worshiping Him.  Meanwhile, Martha goes about the tasks of entertaining the Lord! Eventually, Martha becomes upset that Mary was of no help whatsoever with Jesus as their dinner guest! Martha finally breaks down and asks Jesus, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me!”

Now, most of us are cheering Martha on at this point right?  Help a girl out already! Its not everyday that the Lord is sitting in your living room – it needed to look like the pages of Southern Living or Better Homes and Gardens up in there!

The Lord’s response:  “Martha, you are troubled about many things, but only ONE THING is needed, and Mary has chosen the good part which shall not be taken away from her.”

The pastor in the country church I grew up in would say… “Ouch and Amen”

Are you a Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, focusing on Him and the truly important things in life, or a Martha, being so busy entertaining and paying attention to the details that you miss the big picture — THE LORD IS IN YOUR HOME!  Put down the dish rag and go hang out with Him already!!!

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Jesus was telling Martha that while it is important to serve, developing and nurturing a personal relationship with the Lord should be above all else.  In order to do that we must be completely present with Him – not just in the same room, busying around doing menial tasks!

This concept follows through to our families as well!  The title “Mom” also encompasses the role of problem-solver, mentor, housekeeper, cook, laundress, income-provider, psychologist, doctor, grounds keeper, maintenance worker, travel planner, and occasional veterinarian!  With all these roles it is easy to be CONSUMED with the multitude of things your family “needs” and at the same time, completely neglect spending time with our children and significant others.  I mean real, quality time here folks – not just being in the same room!  Be TOTALLY present!  Ouch and Amen again!

It is time we all be a little more like Mary – it is time to be with, instead to doing for!

Not that “doing for” is bad, in fact we are still called to serve and frankly, that laundry isn’t washing itself.  The point that I think Jesus is conveying to us, especially us busy moms, wives and women in general, is not to become so concentrated on our precious To Do Lists that we lose sight of what is most important – Our TIME developing a personal relationship with not only the Lord but also our families and loved ones!

This life is all about people & relationships make the most of it!

We are on the eve of Memorial Day Weekend and I have been struggling all week to determine what adventure Team Gunter can get into next – our decision after much prayer and discussion with Husband and Elle:  hanging out in our backyard – TOGETHER!

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Backyard Plans 2018

With a blog name like “A Backyard Life” one would think I post often about my backyard but that’s not always the case.  In fact, I have been neglecting it all together this season.  The winter chill has been relentless this so-called spring and I have not had the desire to forge into cleaning out and planting in our outdoor space only to have frost, wind or snow kill plants, blow things away and freeze me to death in the process.  Also, I am diligently trying to keep our basketball program’s spring training group motivated and spending MUCH more time in the gym and weight room than ever before!

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Hopefully though a break is coming this week!  While it is the end of April and normally I would have flowers blooming by now, I hope to get started planting and landscaping so that we can relax and enjoy the space!

A few projects on deck for this spring/summer:

Clean Out – I swear our yard gets every bit as cluttered as our tiny house!  The constant wind and rain hasn’t helped keep things tidy either, blowing in trash from all directions!  Part of our clutter problem is also that like our house, we are OUT OF SPACE; the outdoor buildings are full, the storage bins are full and our back porch is littered with things that have no where else to go….it is the perfect time to purge and get rid of some junk!

Flower Bed Building and Maintenance – This is really just an annual task to maintain the existing flower and shrub beds and I have vowed to myself to plant new annuals each year! I also use this time to fill planters with perennials.  I can’t help but think of and feel a connection with my grandmother when planting flowers.  She loved her flower beds and gardens and loved sharing this with me!  One day, when we no longer have kids running through the yard and need green space I will fill the ENTIRE yard with flowers and shrubs!  One Day!

Front Porch and Curb Appeal – I confess that we do not spend much time in our front yard; it isn’t private at all as its close to the road, and we do not enjoy the space.  I do however at least try to keep it tidy as this is the spot where most guests enter our home. The biggest eye sore is our front porch; the concrete is deteriorating and it generally looks like a mess!  I purchased a cute plastic outdoor rug in an attempt to hide it last summer but I am afraid we are going to have to buckle down and fix it already!  Our plan to remedy this situation inexpensively is to deck over it….we will see how that goes! Since I am not skilled at decking a porch on my own and am at Husband’s will on this one, I’ll keep planting flowers on the porch to distract from it until we get to that project!

Outdoor Kitchen and Grill Area – Now this one is our favorite and I anticipate we will tackle this little project first!   We have a small patio in the imprint of an old single car driveway that we have filled in with pavers.  Last year we purchased and installed a grill canopy for our grill/smoker.  This year a Blackstone Griddle is on my Husband’s wish list and we are in need of a new dining table.  I want to make the small space more efficient; we try to cook outdoors as much as possible in the summer months!!

A Clothesline – I have been hinting to Husband about this one for MANY years now, hopefully this year will be the one!  I love the smell of line-dried laundry and it conserves energy too!  Our poor dryer could use the break!

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What are your favorite outdoor projects?  I have a Pinterest Board full of ideas!  (Backyard and Garden).  We have a little sunshine trying to peek through today….I can’t wait to get started!

 

Personal Organization Binder

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I LOVE to feel organized!!!  A simple statement I know but when you are juggling a full-time job, business ownership, family, home, coaching and trying to maintain some semblance of personal time, aka this blog, “organized” can seem like an unattainable status.

I have posted before about my love for to do lists ( you can check that out at Surrendering to the Insanity – A To Do List Confession) and their importance in my life but even my cherished lists can get a bit messy and hard to maintain when I have 3 separate notepads going and one gets stuck in my basketball bag, one gets used for homework at the house and I confuse one with my notepad in Court and lose track of the page the all-important To Do List was located on!  I find myself constantly re-copying these lists and spend more time getting organized than actually accomplishing anything on the list!

I may have found a solution though…I hope!  While nursery shopping with my sister at Michael’s last weekend I stumbled across a cute little organizer binder with accompanying notebooks!  Genius!!

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The binder gives me the ability to divide my To Do Lists by category in different notebooks that are kept together, in one place, and virtually impossible for me to misplace!! And, how cute and stylish it this!?! (Also, the floral design helps soothe my desperate need for all things spring, even though its STILL below freezing here!)

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I have a notebook for menu planning.  The pre-printed pages give me the ability to plan weekly meals and write the groceries needed for each meal on the back.  I simply take the book into the grocery store and shop right from the list on my menu!

 

The second notebook is entitled Thoughts which I use for notes, prayer requests and inspirational thoughts!  This is super helpful for all catch-all information that would otherwise be lost in the sea of my purse!

 

I also included a notebook that doesn’t have holes punched but fits nicely into the binder which I use for blog ideas and “Things I want John to Make for Me.”  Yep, I have a Pinterest board with that same title….not sure he is a fan though!

Now, to the real meat of my new organizing friend…the To Do Lists!!

The first is simply entitled To Do, I use this one for all things that need done for our family, house or personal stuff.  I include appointments that I need to schedule or housework that is nagging at me.  The pages are conveniently labeled with headings to help me direct me where things need to be listed:  Errands, Housekeeping, Emails, Phone Calls, To Buy (which I changed to To Do), Appointments & Activities, Business and Misc.    Very cool huh! Half the work is already completed for me.  It is convenient to carry over tasks from one week to the next without losing track of the list!

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The second To Do List notebook is entitled Projects which to me really means WORK!  I list all of my weekly work tasks in this notebook, specifically office work and things I need complete other than appointments and court dates.  The pages are divided weekly by day with 5 blanks for daily projects or to dos.

 

Finally, there is a good ol’ fashioned To Do List in the back.  I use this one for basketball and urgent matters!

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The binder is a bit bulky to carry around, and I am still fine-tuning the process but it would be difficult to misplace and the feeling of having everything I need to do or think about at my finger-tips is amazing!

What types of organizational tools are you using to curb the crazy??

Happy Organizing my friends!

The Great Bedroom Switch-Up 2018 – Our Teeny Tiny Master Bedroom

FINALLY, after much ado we have completed the Great Bedroom Switch-Up of 2018!  As you may recall, I first posted about our bedroom space dilemma a couple months ago.  Our teenage daughters could no longer function in their shared downstairs bedroom and after much debate, Husband and I downsized!  You can read about the beginning of this little adventure here:   The Great Bedroom Switch-Up Part 1…The Attic Master.

It has taken us two months, mostly because we have been out of town a bunch on weekends due the the girls’ travel volleyball and basketball seasons, but we FINALLY completed our new and improved, albeit tiny master bedroom!

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We had painted the space when we moved the girls upstairs a couple months ago and Husband refinished a small-scale dresser that fit perfectly into the downstairs bedroom.  The dresser is a staple in the room and Husband did a fantastic job re-finishing it to my exact specifications!  You can read about his efforts in A Quick Dresser Re-Do in Our New and Improved, Slightly Smaller Bedroom.

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I really only needed to decorate the space and figure out what to do with our clothes!  I moved Husband’s clothes into the bedroom closet, he has less hanging clothes than I do and we managed to squeeze his in the little closet, next project – reinstall the closet door!

I purchased a lovely 8’x10′ indoor/outdoor rug from Sam’s Club for less than $100.00. Steal!! It is as beautiful as a higher priced option but doesn’t quite hold dog hair and is MUCH easier to clean!  It also fits perfectly under our full size bed.  Thankfully, Husband and I don’t mind to snuggle!

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Overlook the atrocious bedding! I still haven’t found exactly what I want yet…

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We used a floating shelf in lieu of a headboard. We found this one in the clearance aisle!!

We added a floating shelf above the bed along with a hand-me-down night stand that fit perfectly in the room.  I also convinced Husband to hang our small television on the wall adjacent to the bed.  This was an endeavor because the walls in our home are plaster and SUPER difficult to hang heavy objects!  So far, so good!

Overall, I am beyond pleased with our little makeover!

Accidentally On Purpose…Decorating With A Story (Part 2)

 I didn’t originally intend for this to become a two part post but apparently I had way more thrifted and storied decor in my home than I thought!!

So, here is Part 2 –

The Family Room and Dining Room:  We no longer have a formal living room, not that I need formality in my home, but we gave up a living room for Hayden’s room a few years ago, so our family room and dining room are open to each other and we need all the space we can get!  We have a very small entry way…not large enough for a bench (I saw the cutest DIY industrial entryway bench on MisDIY spring home tour today, Check it out!)

I like this thrift store mirror in our entry way, it hangs just behind the door and makes the space appear larger (I will be changing out for my spring flower wreath soon – we are under about 6 inches of snow still).  And the coal bucket – no home I will ever live in will be complete without a coal bucket! I grew up the deep southwestern Virginia in Coal Country and I like having a little bit of that in my home now (I do not however miss the coal dust…that is another story).   We use this one for umbrellas and the dog leashes!

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Our family room is also very small, especially for a family of five but we manage.  I use a large couch and two indoor/outdoor chairs instead of “real” furniture.  I just haven’t found the chairs I want and these are easy to clean when Hayden or the dogs get too comfortable in them!  The lamp is a hand-me-down from my mother-in-law….how could I say no to a free lamp!  I made the chair pillow from a rag rug and pillow stuffing…I have a few more projects I am wanting to complete with rag rugs this summer!

More of my grandmother’s influences…a chicken pin cushion from a thrift store and a wall plate that hung in my grandmother’s hallway…its perfect for my house! Lord knows its never clean here!

Our dining room isn’t huge either but it has some pretty nice artwork!  Our oldest daughter found this wire tree in downtown Greensboro; I loved that she felt she “had to have it”!

This corner in the dining room may just be my favorite!  A little decoration to our recycling bins!  The Dr. Pepper sign was purchased from a thrift store and the owner believed it came from a general store in the community in which I went to high school!  The drift wood I picked up at Claytor Lake, a place where we made so many special memories.  Finally, the picture on top I purchased at the Highlands Festival in Abingdon, Virginia when I was in law school.  It says “God never closes a door without opening a…”  The Highlands Festival in July is a wonderful event with amazing artists of all genres, its a must see!  The bottom photograph is of John’s grandfather, affectionately called Big Daddy.  This was taken just before he officiated our wedding!

 And what home tour would be complete without Polly the Pitbull! She was polite enough to sit in her bed for a picture, mostly she prefers to sleep on the couch!

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Accidentally On Purpose …Decorating Your Home With A Story

Re-Decorate the bedroom they say….just pick up some matching items they say….its a tiny room, it will be easy!!!  Nope, EASY is not in my vocabulary when decorating any aspect of this house!  Why?  For some reason I am always under the impression that the “stuff” in this house should tell a story!  Or at least speak to me in some weird way!  So, while I love a good trip to Hobby Lobby and have plenty of those pieces around, I adore thrift store shopping!  I am even pretty ecstatic about hand-me-down and found decor!

So here are a few of my favorite finds!!  Warning:  these aren’t staged photos – we have stuff in the house – and LOTS of it!  Just go with the mess, we do!

The Kitchen:  Several years ago we painted and trimmed the lower walls in barn siding and barnwood trim my grandpa gave us!  Free and beautiful!

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I found this chalkboard in a thrift store and gave it a new coat of chalk paint.  The cute key holder is a metal flea market find!

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This is my cookbook shelf…its an addiction I know! But I LOVE them!  The top is adorned with a centerpiece from our fall wedding almost 10 years ago, Bible school art work and ceramic chickens that were my grandmother’s.  She loved chickens and I think of her every time I glance their way!

This is the wall behind our oven.  Husband took these back and white photos in Burkes Garden, a beautiful community and favorite hiking spot of ours. You will find the bottom picture in my blog post from last Spring (The Staycation…Falling in Love With Our Backyard Again).   The print (from the Dollar Store) pays tribute to our once smoky past and the pot holders belonged to John’s Nana!  Isn’t the barnwood trim fun!  I found the bread box in a thrift store in Bramwell, West Virginia while shopping with my momma, its great for holding stationary and homework supplies. I did however, have to convince her that it would look better in my kitchen than hers!  Finally, the red tool caddy was a flea market find while on an annual shopping trip with my friend Bev. She knows I love some chipped paint! She and I have some crazy funny stories about flea market shopping adventures…some of which involve a very heavy wooden ironing board, wicker ottoman, Amish-made doughnuts, a crowded Labor Day Weekend flea market and and me being 8 months pregnant!  That may be a story for another day though!

And our kitchen staple…the former breakfast nook we turned into a bar and a liquor cabinet we transformed into a small pantry.   We are especially pleased with this space, even though its a bit messy right now…we live here people!  Husband built the bar and stained the individual pieces of wood, giving it a butcher block look.  We found the tin wine rack at Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke, Virginia.  Home of the folks from Salvage Dogs; we aren’t sure what it was originally supposed to be used for but its a fantastic  wine rack!

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The wooden cabinet was purchased second hand from an add in the Bargain Finder – I am feeling like this cabinet may get re-finished before long!  The terracotta chicken came from my Granny’s (great-grandmother) home and the tractor photograph is from a friend who does beautiful outdoor photography!  I love this frame with chicken wire and wooden piggy…another flea market adventure with Bev!

I suppose that is what I love most about decorating my home in this way.  Every item is a story and an adventure to find the perfect piece.  I have on occasion, transformed an entire room based upon a flea market find or second hand item!  It makes my home feel cozy and loved. (It also helps when the dogs and kids are having a Nerf gun battle that gets out of hand and something gets broken!

 

 

 

 

 

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!!

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!!