New Year

New Year’s is the time in which a new calendar year begins and many of us start thinking about how we want the new year to be. For many, it’s the decision to finally get in shape, lose weight, quit some unhealthy habits and start good ones. All fueled by good intentions and a yearly tradition. […]

The measure of a mom

I recently read a Facebook post written by a proud Aunt describing all of the amazing “motherly qualities”  her niece possesses. She talked of the way her niece cares for her 4 children while she keeps her home immaculately clean, with unbelievably organized closets. She talked about how she cooks and cleans, takes her children to dance and music classes, talks and plays with them, and dresses them perfectly with French braids and the works. She even mentioned how her niece cares for herself with polished nails and hair do’s.

We all have to admit that these are excellent qualities to possess, and most of us as moms look at women like this with awe, admiration and a teeny bit of jealously.

But, I have to ask. Is this the true measure of a mom? Is this truly what makes a mom a “good” mom and worthy of praise?

What about the qualities that are inside a mom that you can’t see from the outside? Like her patience, self-sacrifice, worries and prayers for her children? We live in a world that is driven by what we see on the outside. As long as you look like you have it all together then it must be true. We’ve bought into the lie that the better you look, the better your house, the better you “do”, the more you have, the better the person…. So what are we suppose to do?

Should we work ourselves to the bone to achieve the ‘perfect’ look? Should we go out and buy new clothes and color our hair to look more like what we see on t.v or magazines? Should we pretend to be something we’re not so people will look at us with admiration, awe, and a teeny bit of jealousy?

Well, we could. Or, we could listen to what God has to say about who we are. In 1 Samuel 16, God reminded Samuel that He bases his decisions on inward character and a person’s heart alone. God told Samuel, “looks aren’t everything, don’t be impressed with his (Saul’s) looks and stature, because I have refused him. God judges differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)

It’s so hard and tempting to want what the world says we should have but if that’s what we are trying to achieve then I’m afraid the sad truth is, we will never measure up. While having a clean house, well-groomed kids, and good self-hygiene are important, they don’t define who you really are when no one is looking.  Perfection isn’t real, it’s a disguise for the ugly, unkempt, messy, human-being that is loved unconditionally by an all knowing, all seeing, God that loves who and what you really are.

Another man’s junk is usually my treasure

garage sale sign

If any of you really know me at all, you know I love two things, decorating and garage sales!

Growing up, we didn’t really go to many garage sales. My mom and I would stop every now and then, and find some fun things like a cool, orange old school wind up alarm clock (which I wish a still had), a tiny retro- green rocking arm-chair for my baby sister (which they still have), and an awesome Pillsbury Dough Boy tee-shirt (which I’m glad I no longer have).

But then, I married into the Ballinger family. Que Adams Family theme music! These people LOVED garage sales… like, with a passion. As soon as the warm spring weather rolled around, they were up at an un-naturally early time for a Saturday with their classified news paper page, making a play by-play plan like a football coach, of each and every sale they were going to hit. And…they did it every Saturday!

Well, my carpenter and I were newly setting up house and life, so my F.M.I.L (favorite mother in-law) packed us up in her Grand AM, and took us to what would be my first garage sale Super Bowl.

I pretty much had no clue what I was doing, so my F.M.I.L took me under her wing and taught me how to look for things I could use, and how to haggle like I wasn’t ashamed. By the end of that summer, I was catching on and had my house furnished and decorated with almost only garage sale items. I was hooked!

Fast forward to present day, I’m still furnishing and decorating with mostly garage sale items. It’s really easy and I promise anyone can do it if you’re willing to keep an open mind and put your feet to the pavement.

I usually have an idea in my head what I’m looking for, not always, but usually. For example, I might want something to hang on a wall in my kids’ rooms or living room. Or something to fill up space on a coffee table or shelf. If you’re not sure what you want, try getting some ideas from magazines or Pinterest, and then try your best to recreate.


Everything in this photo, except the chairs and fall garland, is from garage sales! I only paid $5 for that table!

Some of my favorite things I’ve found have been a couple of old vintage suitcases for 6 bucks that I made into side tables, an old bedroom vanity for $10.00, that I painted and use as a coffee bar, and an antique mission style rocking chair for $15.00 that my carpenter is working on restoring, just to name a few of the types of things that you can find!

20151026_081238One of my favorite places in my house, my coffee bar! You guessed it!, everything here is also from garage sales, except my coffee pot and cups!

Now, just like life, you’re gonna have really good days…or really bad. The same goes for garage-sailing. Some weekends are great and you find all kinds of goodies – great decor items, furniture  pieces, clothes, arm loads of Lord of the Rings action figures for your Lord of the Rings loving daughter…Other weekends you find the Easy Omelet, Big Mouth Billy Bass the fish, someone’s grandmother’s sweater collection that smells like 80-year-old cigarette smoke, and boxes and boxes of Beanie Babies. *Cringe* Don’t get discouraged. Like any sport, you win some you lose some! Just remember to have fun and keep an open mind! Oh, and don’t forget about your local second hand stores too, you’ll be supporting a good cause and you just might find exactly what you’re looking for!

Our Homeschool Life

I am always getting asked about home school. Why we do it, how we do it, what curriculum we use… and are we weird and un-socialized?

Let me just start off by saying we are by no means anti-public school. Both my husband and I attended public school, and many of our dear friends and family choose public school. I am very grateful that, for now, we still have the freedom to make that choice for ourselves.

About 5 years ago we felt God calling us to home school. Our girls were doing fairly well in the public school system, but we had started to feel that God was leading us in a different direction. We spent the remainder of the 2010/2011 school year praying for very clear direction, that if this was what we were suppose to do, that we would know without a doubt. Proverbs 3:5 tells us,’ Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.’  Well, like God always does, He did make our path straight. We ended the 2011 school year, opted out of public school, and entered into the world of home school.

The world of home school… That first year felt like the twilight zone. It was scary! I had no idea what I was doing and really had to battle the voice of doubt over and over again. Thankfully, there were many, many home school veterans this newbie got to lean on to get through the panic and feelings of failure. That’s a little of why, now on to the how’s.

How to start? This is fairly easy. It requires a call or email to your state’s education department where you will request an application to opt out of public school. Fill it out, send it in, along with birth certificates for all children you plan to home school and voila… You’re done! Now, just sit back and wait anxiously for your acceptance/confirmation record.

What we use? There are TONS of different curriculum options out there, from free to super, super expensive. In our community, we are lucky to have a home school library, that provides tons of curriculum in all subjects for free use. You can also find free curriculum online. We used both of these the first couple of years until I felt like I had a good idea of what would work for us.

Last but not least, are we weird and un-socialized? Well…. we are definitely not un-socialized. We meet twice a month with the valley home school association co-op where we share classes, go on field trips and have regular just for- fun- visits. We also go to church, the store, the movies, have friends over weekly, etc., etc., etc. Now for the weird part, of course we’re weird! Have you seen my kids? And what mother in her right mind would keep her kids home with her day after day and subject herself to an endless amount of chaos on purpose?! I guess I would…and, I AM a little weird. But, I love it!

Adventures in babysitting


 Sorry, this post is not going to be about the totally awesome 80’s movie staring Elisabeth Shue. It’s actually going to be about me.. and my Adventure in babysitting.

I am a stay-home, home-school mom. Its awesome and we have a lot of fun. Over the summer I started thinking about ways I could help supplement our income. I thought about applying at Hobby Lobby part time, but I wasn’t thrilled about being away from the family, and having to commit to something like that. Also, I was pretty sure me and Hobby Lobby could get into some serious trouble which could result in me not actually bringing any money home at all…if you get my drift.

Now, I had done daycare in my home for several years when my kids were little. It was fun, (most of the time) and I made really good money, but by my seventh year I was burnt out. So I gave my families my notice, turned our playroom into a bedroom and raised my family, vowing I WILL NEVER DO DAYCARE AGAIN!

Well… as I was saying I wanted to supplement our income so I started praying. And I felt my heart softening towards babysitting again, so I asked God if it was His will for me to babysit again to provide me with an infant to babysit. I figured an infant would be fairly easy to take care of while we do homeschool and live life, and so to make a long story short by the time fall rolled around, I was in business with my infant that I had asked God to provide!

Now, I know babysitting isn’t for everyone. But it really is a worthwhile consideration if you are really wanting to stay home and raise your family but would like to, or need to, add an additional income to your family. Just by getting up in the morning, and opening my door up to their family I am able to make our mortgage payment every month. It really could not be any easier than that.

Getting started is pretty easy! I have only ever used two tools to start this “business” –   prayer, and word of mouth. It’s so easy to get the word out there that you are starting a daycare business, especially with Facebook. And let me tell you, word gets around fast! There is no shortage of families who are looking for someone to care for their children in a non-public daycare environment. So, put yourself out there!

 I had done daycare long enough that I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to charge for this adventure, but do your research, call around and see what the public daycare rates are and the homebased day care rates, too. Most of them are happy to share that information.

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Life and Stuff

1445297644843 Hi, it’s been a busy few years here but I’m excited to be back blogging! Hang on while I catch my breath… This year started of with a bang with the beginning of my kitchen remodel. My carpenter and I have been planning it for years. When I say my carpenter I actually mean my husband.. who happens to be a carpenter.

Being married to a carpenter is Awesome! I mean, I get to play on pinterest, lick my thumbs through decorating magazines, watch all the home remodeling shows on Netflix all day and then just wait for my carpenter to get home so I can give him my long, long list of ideas for him to make happen.. just like that. Okay, not exactly but you get the picture. We have a lot of fun.

We bought our little house about 13 years ago, we were 20 years old, newly married and new parents. After looking at a grand total of 3 houses we found ours, a repo at a great price and a hot mess. But hey, it had a full basement and a two car garage and was just a few blocks away from my in-laws! Anyway… It was a mess! Nothing major like electrical or plumbing, (thank goodness)  I mean a mess…a BIG mess. But some how we saw past the burnt-up kitchen cabinets, the holes in the walls, the carpet that I didn’t even want to walk on with my shoes on, the pea green bathtub, sink and matching toilet, and the tacky, tacky 70’s wall paper and paneling. I think we scared our parents a little but signed the papers and got right to work and have been doing and redoing ever since.

So, fast forward 13 years and I finally have the kitchen of my dreams thanks to my awesome carpenter. He has literally worked his carpenter fingers to the bones to make this happen for me. He’s taken on side job after side job to earn enough money to buy the wood to build my beautiful mission style cabinets. He let me choose white lacquer and off-white subway tiles, and I let him choose the pulls! He’s been great! We’re not quite finished but we are definitely getting there.

 Follow me as I share our home,  our life and stuff, my bargain decorating finds and my DIY projects.