Category Archives: Life & Home

Our life and all it’s ups and downs and how we make it through and stick together.  We live in a 1933 home, so we’re constantly decorating, always renovating and organizing, so feel free to follow!  Plus there’s all kinds of DIY’s, decor and decorating, gardening and not to mention I love throwing parties!

East Coast Homeschool Basketball Championship 2013 Fun!

If you ever get the chance to go and watch the East Coast Homeschool Basketball Championships, I highly recommend it!  We had a blast, but we do every year.  From watching both of our varsity teams, to goofing off at the hotel to eating out together, there is nothing like it.   It is the “school sports” experience we wanted our kids to have.  Here’s just a few of the several hundred pictures that we took.  This doesn’t even come close to all the pics the kids took on their IPods, IPads and phones!

My son Spencer #20 doing a great job and being tough!Liberty 2013

Me helping a friend’s mom with her daughter’s number. Please pay no attention to my hair.  We had a 10pm game the night before and had to be up early.  I was exhausted and it was a ponytail kinda day.  But you should have seen her a couple of days later, when the girls made the championship game.  I must find a picture of her!  She had a red curly wig, makeup, crazy red and black clothes.  She brought the spirit!Liberty 2 2013

This is homeschool sports at its best!  After the championship game, both teams huddled together for prayer.  What a way to close out the week and to show that yes, winning is amazing, but it’s the friendships and our walk that’s the most important.  After all God is the reason we can play so tough!Liberty 1 2013

I love snapping pictures of coaches talking to their teams.  The intensity on their faces and the players.  I got this one of our guys right before the game started.  They are hanging on his every word.Liberty 3 2013

The girls and their trophy!  They played so amazing and we are so proud of them.  They got to play in the Vines Center!  The Dome!  They fought hard and played with heart and placed 2nd.  Congratulations!Liberty 4 2013

The guys and their big trophy.  Wonder why they aren’t so happy?  It was a really tough game and they fought hard, but it just didn’t go their way.  It was a hard loss.  But they did get to play in the Vines Center under the dome and that was awesome! Congratulations!Liberty 5 2013

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Fans, siblings and friends! We laughed, we shouted, we argued a little with the ref’s, we ate, we stayed up way too late, but it was all worth it!  I love homeschooling and homeschool sports.

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What Rare Disease Day Looks Like to Me

Today is Rare Disease Day all around the world.  I never thought in a million years that this day would have any more significance than any other day, until this year when our daughter was diagnosed with a rare disease.  This is what Rare Disease Day looks like to me.

Rare Disease Day looks like my daughter Emily.  On the outside, you can not see her disease.  She is a beautiful girl, with a talent for volleyball and acting.  She will slide into a row of chairs and dig on the court to save a ball like no one’s business!  She will stand for hours acting and delivering her lines like a true actress even though she may be in pain. The show or the game must go on!  So on the outside, you wouldn’t know she has a disease that may eventually stop her from playing the sport she so passionately loves.  But she tries hard not to let it stop her from living a “normal” life. 

Emily’s story stared when she was 8 years old.  She had been a pretty normal kid up to that point, with the exception of already living with asthma and reflux.  She began taking gymnastics and loved it.  We had always teased her about her flexibility and joked with her that we were going to sell her to the Russian circus as a contortionist!  She can bend like crazy!  She was great at gymnastics and they even asked her to be on their competition team.  Then she sprained her ankle one day and just couldn’t seem to get over it; so we got her ankle braces to wear.  They helped a little, but eventually not at all.

As time went on, her ankles kept hurting.  She would have bruises all the way around her ankles and they would swell turn pink and get very warm.  We thought at first she was just re-spraining them.  Then her knees started to hurting and we thought growing pains.  After all, she was getting really tall.  This went on for a couple of years and we would go back and forth with ice packs, heat, Tylenol and doctor visits.  Most people told me it was growing pains.  Friends told me I was making something out of nothing, but the pain grew worse.  In my gut I knew something wasn’t right. She couldn’t enjoy the things she loved due to the pain.

Thankfully, our orthopedist had an MRI done, and we were sent to Duke Children’s Hospital.  After going there for a year, we got a name!  The doctor, nurses and staff all celebrated with us.  A name!  It means so much when you finally have something to work with.  That name was Ehlers-Danlos Hypermobility Syndrome.  A big name that means she has a genetic connective tissue disease that effects the collagen, ligaments, tendons, muscles, skin and organs.  Pretty much everything! 

Now we are learning what it’s like to live with a rare disease.  It isn’t easy.  But it could always be worse.  Most of the time she is a normal teenager.   She plays volleyball, which I know could be damaging.  She has already dislocated her shoulder three times this year!  But she has to have something to look back on and say, “I loved doing this and I was good at it.” when she gets older.  She will determine when it’s time to stop and not me.  She hangs out with her friends; at least the ones that don’t look at her disease, but the ones that look at her.  She may pay for it the next day with swollen ankles, joints that hurt no matter what we do, and with pain medicine that feels like it’s not working some days.  But at least she had a smile on her face and got to forget for a time that she has a disease.

Some days, it’s just overwhelming for her; she doesn’t understand why she has this disease.  Days when she’s just sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Days when she doesn’t want to take her medicine because she’s sick of taking medicine.  Days when she just wants to be normal, no diseases anymore. No asthma, no reflux, no EDS!

It breaks a mother’s heart to know that your child has a disease; any disease or illness or injury.  But to know that you’re one out of 5,000 or 20,000 or even more is a little overwhelming.  Some days you feel it’s more than you want to deal with.  But, thank God for Him.  I know that He will see her and us through this.  He has a plan and this could always be worse.  This disease could always be worse.  So we pray and thank God and we pray for a cure as we and thousands of others pray that no more children will have to live with a rare disease.

DIY Soap Dispenser

I’ve been re-using a plastic soap dispenser for awhile now and I really didn’t like it.  So after looking for inspiration, I made my own.  I used a glass Starbuck’s bottle that I had from Becca’s graduation party, we had used it as a vase and it’s been sitting in my cabinet with nothing to do.

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First remove any stickers and sticky residue from the glass.  I just used fingernail polish remover and a cotton ball to get the sticky off.IMG_4873

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I painted the background with a hot pink color.  I didn’t have any glass paint so I used the outdoor craft paints that I had.   If you look at the above picture you can see black Yard and Garden paint that I used.  Not the red craft paint, I just forgot to get it out of the shot.  The icky blue thing is my paint caddy with it’s sticker coming off.  Please ignore it!   It took several coats, about 4 to get the depth of color that I wanted.  I took this picture after two coats.  Make sure you let the paint dry between coats! Be patient, you will be rewarded!

This is where I mixed my paints, a simple paper plate.  I also practiced my handwriting a little while waiting for the paint to dry!  I highly recommend this! Look up a font you like and try to practice it before you do the real thing. Also you can go ahead and paint the cap.IMG_4874IMG_4875

When the paint is good and dry, I added the wording.  You could do a monogram or a cute saying.  I think the font I used is called Always Forever.

 

 

 

 

Next I used a small brush to paint the bubbles.  I used a basic blue that I mixed with white to get the lighter colors.  I just swirled the bubbles on and made the circles.  I didn’t worry about if they were perfect circles.  Then I added lighter colors and the white highlights.  Don’t worry about perfection, it will be cute no matter what!IMG_4902

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The final product!  Isn’t it cute?  My hubby drilled a hole in the cap just barely big enough for the pump to fit in.  It needs to fit really snug.  I stole the pump from the bottle I had been using. He thought it turned out really pretty and so do I! Send me a picture or a link if you make one, too!  I’d love to see what you make!

Basketball Banquet Ideas

It’s about that time! Time for basketball banquets!  I love decorating for them.  They are such a challenge, trying to figure out what the athletes will like, trying to figure out something new and fun, but not make it look overly fancy or like a little kid’s birthday party.  I think we succeeded!inspiration board

I made an inspiration board for last year’s banquet.  We decked out the tables with white paper and black runners.  Then used various basketball scrapbook paper for centerpieces.  On top of the centerpieces (not really shown in the pics) we scattered various 3D basketball sayings also from the scrapbook section, sayings like “Go Team, Swoosh, etc.”  Then we made balloon bouquets and put them in the center of the centerpieces.  And of course with a large crowd you have to have table numbers.  I made these on my computer, they have a picture of a basketball crashing through glass.  Really cool!  Then to top of the tables, we added crayons.  Yes, I said crayons!  The kids, uhm…teenagers, uhm… athletes loved it!  So did the parents, be honest, you know when you see white paper and a crayon, you’re going to doodle.  I hated throwing away the works of art at the end of the evening.

For the awards table and the food tables we kept it simple with alternating black, white and red tablecloths with alternating circle table cloths.  We also used the banners the teams and fans made during the season to decorate the walls.  Everyone loved that.  It gave all the athletes and fans a chance to really see them up close and they had worked so hard on them, why not use them, right? 

It was very simply decorated, but it was very cool and most importantly our high school athletes, both boys and girls, as well as the younger athletes liked it!

Is it Anti-Christian to Cheer at Sports?

That is the burning question right now.  I love watching my kids play sports!  I have loved coaching sports and dance and working with kids.  I’ve been doing it for over 16 years.  But things are changing, not really with me, but around me. What was once passionate and fun is now dull and bordering on boring.  I still love the sports.  I still love watching my kids play them.  I still have a desire to coach, but that has now been severely tempered and in all reality, I may never coach again thanks to a very personal beating that my girls and I took this year.  But that’s a whole other story.

What I’m talking about is rooting for your team or child at a sporting event.  Team spirit!  Cheering loudly and passionately.  Wearing team colors.  Hanging banners and having spirit nights.  Not where you are screaming at your kid and telling them everything they did wrong, but loudly cheering, “Go team!, Go (insert child’s name).  And I’m not talking little kids here, but high school!  Is it wrong for homeschool teams to be cheered by their fans?  Now I’m not talking teams that are like recreation ball, but ones that are competitive school ball.  Although I don’t see a problem cheering loudly for either one! 

I see it everywhere.  The teams we played against used to be so passionate and so were we. It was so much fun!  Everyone cheered their hearts out.  Jumping up and cheering when the basket went in.  Everyone holding their breath and letting out a collective yell at the buzzer beater.  Stomping on the bleachers.  The teams actually asking the fans to get louder when we got quiet.  It was fun!  Win or lose the games were fun and both teams were still friends at the end of the game!  And now you could hear crickets chirp. There’s barely a golf clap when we win or when a good shot is made.

All of a sudden over the past two years, we have started being told it’s not Christ-like to cheer.  Parents are now being pulled aside or given dirty looks when they cheer.  It’s being told to our kids and team spirit is about non-existent.  Hardly anyone cheers anymore, whether it’s a simple “Go team!” or “Make good passes!”  Why is that?  What has happened?  Aren’t Christians allowed to be passionate about their lives and enjoy things?  Doesn’t God want us to enjoy things?  Is this another form of Christians bullying other Christians?  Or has the world just made us too afraid of everything?  What does this say to the parents that are new Christians, new homeschoolers, or the non-Christian parent?  Does it say that Christians or homeschoolers aren’t allowed to have fun? I really want to know. 

I know what it’s saying to the parents that are not returning to our sports because of this.  They are leaving because it’s not any fun and they wanted their kids to have the experience of a school team.  A huge part of a teenager’s life is the experience.  The experience of having something to root for, to cheer for.  Being part of something bigger than themselves and friendships.  Learning how to deal with success and failure.  I also know what it meant to a parent that spoke to me about it.  It said to them that we are judgmental (meaning judging the parents and kids that cheered) and not accepting at all of people that don’t fit with us (meaning the ones that won’t cheer) and that hurt.  Even though they weren’t talking about me personally (because I cheer), it hurt.  I hurt for them and their kids.  Are we turning them away?  Are we turning our kids away from enjoying things like sports?  What message are we sending them about Christianity?  I would love some thoughts.

This may actually turn into a series. I have a lot to say and a lot of thoughts on the matter too many for one post!  Wanna hear something funny? As I wrap up this post, I decided to turn on Pandora and what song do you think started playing?  “We Will Rock You” by Queen!  How appropriate!  I just had to laugh!

Photo Bombing Pets

Today Emily was making a recipe for my blog.  As she was cooking and I was snapping away with the camera, two of our pets refused to not be a part of the fun.  They photo bombed our shoot!  It was so funny.  You just never know what your pets will do next!photo bomb 1

Rusty our mini shepherd just has to get in on the action!  I think he’s worried he might not get a sample.  But he did!  He snuck into the kitchen tonight when no one was looking and stole a bite!phot bomb 2

This is our cat Tux and today he definitely wanted to be a part of the fun.  He is always in the kitchen when we cook.  Today he deserved some.  My son called me in a little bit of a panic.  Tux was sunning himself by balancing on the top of the control panel for the dryer which is right at a window.  Poor kitty lost his balance and fell between the dryer and the wall.  He was just fine though after Spencer rescued him.  A little dusty and scared, but thankfully fine.  Where was he later this afternoon when he wasn’t posing for the camera?  Right back on the dryer!  Silly kitty!photo bomb 4

 

Emily decided to give Tux some extra fun by letting him play “Whack-a- puppy”!  No worries though.  Tux is declawed and Rusty loves it anytime he can get the cats to play.  What a fun day! 

First Snow of 2013!

Winter Storm Helen hit and we got our first snow of the season! It has rained for days so this is a nice change.  Spencer had a basketball game last night when it started sleeting, then about 1/2 hour later it started snowing and the kids, I mean teenagers, went nuts!  It was snowing so hard and it was so pretty.  But in North Carolina if you don’t get up early, you miss the snow!  I did manage to get these pics but by 10:30 this morning it was all almost gone.

Ever wonder why we Southerners go grab the milk, eggs and bread from the stores when they call for snow? It’s because when we lose power from the ice on the power lines, we can make sandwiches and the eggs and milk are for making snow cream, which Emily made last night just in case it was our only snow of the year.

This was the view from inside our van after the game.  We stopped by our favorite place to grab a bite for supper.  It was snowing like crazy!IMG_3493

The kids wagon in the backyard was full of rain and completely frozen with ice.IMG_3496

Believe it or not all this was covered with snow until it rained again.IMG_3497

My poor little garden…IMG_3499

It’s almost all gone  It was really pretty earlier, but now it’s melting away.  Hard to believe it was really covered with snow.  Like I said you have to be early if want pictures of North Carolina snow and I was sleeping in.  Even homeschoolers take a snow day here!IMG_3500

If you believe the old wives tale, we will be getting a big snow soon.  We had thunder and lightening last night while it poured snow.  An thundersnow! Maybe I should stock up on milk, bread and eggs? 

 

 

 

Rain, Rain, Go away and turn into Snow? Maybe!

Winter in North Carolina is a mixed bag.  One day it is freezing cold and you can’t get warm enough, then the next day it’s 70 degrees and you’re wearing shorts.  We have a saying here, “It’s North Carolina.  If you don’t like the weather wait 15 minutes and it’ll change!”  Last week it was spring with temps in the 70’s and it was wonderful.  This week it has rained nonstop and we are supposed to get snow and a mix.  The mix is the dangerous part here because that means ice.  Hopefully we’ll just get some snow.  Everyone is so excited!IMG_3176

Can you tell by my flower garden that it’s confused?  I have plants that were trying to bloom because of the warm weather.  If you look at my driveway you can tell how much it’s rained cuz there’s a lake forming!IMG_3178This morning I looked out my classroom window and the birds were going crazy playing in the rain.  This little blue bird was taking a bath in a puddle.  If you look closely at the picture below, a blue bird and three other birds are splashing in another puddle.  IMG_3180 This little girl was posing for her picture.  She was in one my pecan trees.IMG_3181

This one was drinking in the mud? Or trying to find his reflection?IMG_3183

This one is my favorite!  It was perched up in my cherry tree.  I love the lighting behind it.  You can really tell it’s winter!IMG_3182

There was a cute squirrel running around, but he took off into the woods after he got all the pecans he wanted.  I really wanted his picture!  Maybe tomorrow.  I guess even the animals are excited about the chance of snow!IMG_3190

This is a picture of a big old branch that fell not long ago.  Good thing Becca had my van at work.  This is right where I park!  We’ve already had some snow mixed in with the rain.  I hope this isn’t a sign of what’s to come!

DIY Shabby Chic Valentine’s Day Bunting

I was feeling really crafty last night after realizing how plain my living room looked with all the Christmas decorations gone. Somehow I’m missing some of my regular decorations.  They were boxed up when we started putting Christmas out.  They are in the attic lost!  So I decided to go ahead and start decorating for Valentine’s Day.  I made a pretty bunting or banner, as some call it.  It’s shades of pink which matches my living room, which just happens to be pink with deep burgundy-red curtains and it has a shabby chic feel to it.  Each pennant measures about 3 1/2” across by 4 1/2” long.  It’s small but it makes a really pretty impact hanging at the mantel.  I think this is the most romantic our mantel has ever looked! 

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This is the whole mantle.  I filled it with things in the same color range.  Pinks, deep burgundies and a touch of blue.  It’s full of things that are very special to me.  It’s not super fancy or elaborate, but I think it’s really sweet.  If you like the bunting/banner, I have a link at the bottom to print it out as a pdf.

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This is a wreath that I laid on its side, I’ve had it forever, and it’s one of my favorites.  The painting is one that I did of the cabin that my granddaddy and great-granddaddy built.  I’m not an artist, but I love it.  I know it’s not Valentiney but it adds a little winter and some snow.

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On the other side of the mantel are Pinky Blue Boy.  I’ve loved them since I was a little girl.  My mother-in-law bought them for me as a surprise.  I think they’re so romantic and he adds the pop of blue to coordinate with my painting.  In the jars are flowers that I’ve collected and dried over the years of my marriage.  They are very dear to my heart.  And yes that’s a mason jar!

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Have fun with your mantel for Valentine’s!  Use what you have around the house.  I stole Pinky and Blue Boy from our bedroom, the mason jar from my canning supplies.  I didn’t have to buy anything!  Just look around your house and I’m sure you’ll find things you can use.  I’d love to see pics!  If you would like to print out the same banner just click here!  It’s free!

ShabbyChicValentineBanner I recommend printing it on card stock  then thread with yarn or a pretty ribbon.

Closet Makeover = Life Makeover

A while back I started to organize my closet.  I didn’t get anywhere.  Then I just left it.  What a mess!  Then it got worse.  I started bringing home clothes from my mom’s closet.  My dad couldn’t take looking at them anymore.  It was just too hard for him and made him miss her that much more.  So I started bringing them home.

At first, I mostly brought home the ones I mostly liked. It didn’t really matter if they were my size or not.  I just kinda liked them and they were my moms.  She was always pretty and had pretty clothes.  I wore some of them the past year and others I just left in the closet.  One day I’ll fit in them.  I can switch them up and bring them up to the current style.  Right?

Then winter came and I brought home more.  Several of her pretty suits with jackets and a couple of dresses.  Now my closet was busting at the seams.  But I wasn’t wearing anything that I brought home.  My closet was a mess and I really hadn’t gained anything.  They just hung there.  But my closet was full and at first I felt like I had a major shopping spree.  But that faded and they just hung there.

I’ve been on a small mission this year to lose weight.  It’s very slow going with lots of set backs.  But I’m kicking it into high gear and I’m making some other changes as well.  I decided to tackle my dresser as my first change.  It had the same problem as my closet with the added benefit of all the clothes I’ve hung on to all these years.  You know, the clothes you hope to fit back into, the stained ones, the ones with tiny holes you think no one else can see.  The faded out ones, the ones that are way too big.  You get the picture.

I was brutal.  If it was stained, gone.  Too small, gone.  I felt like an assassin.  The dresser was easy.  Then came the closet.  I started trying on mom’s suits and started piling them on the bed one by one.  And then something unexpected happened.  I had a total break down.  Too afraid to get rid of her clothes, but I didn’t know if I wanted to keep them either.  If I were to go shopping, would I pick them out?  Do I really like them?  Do they even look good on me?  I am about three inches shorter after all. So I cried and cried.  Partly because of my weight gain and partly because they were hers and she’s not here.  My poor hubby found me and just held me.

Then thankfully Emily just made a simple statement that changed it all.  “Why not get a box and put them in it and when you lose the weight, you can make a decision then whether to keep them or not.”  So simple, yet it worked.  It kept me from making a decision today about some of my mom’s clothes and I can still get rid of everything else!

Today I bought 3 large containers and went through my closet like an assassin.  I boxed up everything I can’t wear but thought that I might want to when I lose the weight.  Then bagged up everything else to be given away.  I took four giant trash bags of clothes and shoes out of my room.  My resolve has worn down and I almost had another break down today as I was purging my closet.

I’m not sure why today.  It’s not about boxing up my mom’s clothes anymore.  It’s not about the “if I don’t love it, I ain’t keeping it” thought that has been running through my thoughts.  I think it’s that my life has changed, is changing and change is hard.  I let go of clothes that I’ve had since I had Becca.  I let go of clothes my mom bought me.  Clothes my husband bought me, etc.  Why are we women so attached to everything?  But I need to find my path, even if it’s clothing.

I did this for no one else but myself.  That is huge!  No one asked me to purge my dresser and closet.  I did it.  And as I stare at an almost empty closet and dresser I have no choice now except to move forward.  No excuses.  Time to let go of the past (and that by no way means forgetting my mom) and find my future.  Find myself again.  So let the journey begin!