Category Archives: Home

Settling In

Even with all of the craziness that has been going on, we are really starting to settle in.

Tennessee is really growing on us. We will always miss AZ and there will probably be things that are always going to be ‘better in AZ,’ but it’s finally good here too. We’ve made some friends, joined a small group at church, gotten to know our way around and now bought a home!

The place we rented was in a great location and it was in the perfect place to get to know the area. And it was a huge blessing, but we were ready for something that was ours.

We’ve been in our house for a little over a month now and it’s perfect! We still have to really make it our own, but that’s ok. Knowing that we are actually living on a budget and have a plan for our money makes this time around so much more fun! I still have to wait to do things like paint and get a real dining room set, but there is actually a budget category for it and not just a “I hope we can do that someday.”

These are just the pictures from the Realtor, so it’s not our furniture, but you get the idea!


I am Proud

So this post is going to be a little weird. But I need to write it for me.

I am proud of the things I have been accomplishing.

I hesitate to say that. I don’t want to sound arrogant or like I am bragging. But all too often, I don’t take even one second to be proud of the things I do. It’s a vicious, defeatist attitude that steals the joy from every moment. “You can’t be proud.” It says. “You’re being a jerk if you say that.” “You’re not really that great anyway.” “Look at all these things you don’t do well.” It is really easy for me to get down on myself and doubt my roles as a mom and wife and friend. And I genuinely believe that Satan uses those doubts to keep me from becoming the person I should be.

So, I’d like to share a few things because I am proud of the changes I’ve been making.

I am proud that I can take the boys almost anywhere and they are really well behaved. Not perfect of course, but really good. And I have learned through trial and error a bunch of ways to make our outings go so smoothly.

I am proud that I have been teaching myself to cook. Over the last few months the quality and taste of my homemade meals has increased dramatically. I’m sure Damien appreciates that!

I am proud that over the last year I have actually blogged pretty consistently.

I am proud that I haven’t bit my nails since January. (Silly, but 29 years in the making!)

Thank you for allowing me to stop and be proud of myself for a few moments. Each positive change comes with baby steps. And failure before success. And during success.

The one major area I struggle with staying consistent in is spending time in Bible study. I had been doing really well and now I have lost focus. So time to restart and be proud of the changes I will make.

Budget Friendly Green Tips for the Home

I love to research, I love to teach and since I write a blog, I obviously love to share.

Here are my top tips for being budget friendly and trying to be a little green. These are some of the things we actually do. Which means they are cheap, easy, and they work. Because we don’t have time for anything else.

1. Making our own deodorant.

Coconut oil + essential oils + cornstarch (arrowroot powder) and baking soda. I do leave out almost all of the baking soda because it really irritates my armpits. It doesn’t bother Damien at all. He loves tea tree and peppermint in his and I use only lavender since peppermint oil can reduce my milk supply. It is not an antiperspirant, but the deodorant works great. And Damien loves it. Which means it must really work.

2. ‘Make’ our own foaming hand soap.

We buy Dr. Bronner’s soap in the big bottles and mix it with equal parts water and a little bit of olive oil (to keep the pump working smoothly) and it works great. I’ve heard of adding tea tree, but that would take more effort on my part. We just reuse a foaming pump from one of the store green brands after we finished it.

3. Cloth diapering.

I know it’s not for everyone, and my intimidation factor with starting was super high, but after 2.5 years, it has been so worth it! We’ve spent well under $1000 to diaper two kids. And once you get started, it’s not nearly as big of a deal as you thought. Just a little time spent learning about it and how to properly do the laundry will save you thousands of dollars PER KID!

4. Cutting out processed foods, especially snack foods like granola bars.

I’ve always been under the impression that eating super healthy has to be more expensive. While it is definitely true that fruits and veggies are costly (especially if you buy organic), I have noticed a drop in our grocery budget when I stopped buying things like granola bars. They are often not very healthy at all and the cost adds up quickly. Same with junk food snacks like cookies, chips, and ice cream. They are often very expensive and it’s easy for me to overindulge. If I buy apples, they may cost a little more, but I’ll go through them more slowly.

5. Breastfeed.

Well, the obvious answer here is it’s free! And it’s the exact formula God made. You can’t really go wrong with that.

6. White Vinegar

This stuff is amazing! It’s the best toilet bowl cleaner I’ve ever used, it removes soap scum like nobody’s business and it removes hard water buildup on things like faucets. They should empty the cleaning aisles and just stock vinegar. Seriously. And to combat the lovely aroma, just save citrus peels in a mason jar, fill with vinegar, let it sit for a few weeks and voila! citrusy vinegar. It also works great as a laundry stain remover and just a general counter/table cleaner.

7. Make our own soda water (and not drink soda).

We finally(!!) made ourselves give up soda. It took a while, but we grew to like just plain soda (carbonated) water. Once we knew we liked it long term, we wanted to stop buying the bottles from the store since it can actually be more expensive than soda if you’re not careful! I researched the SodaStream and each liter would only cost $0.25. Since we were paying double that, and sometimes more, we grabbed a machine on Craigslist with two of the CO2 cartridges which saved us even more. We have been using it for a few months now and it’s awesome. It not only works great, but we get to use our better tasting filtered water and it is so convenient to never really run out. We can always just make more in a few seconds. If you like soda water or even want sodas without high fructose corn syrup, I would totally recommend the SodaStream.

I’m looking to add more things to my hippie green list, but we add things in slowly. We do use natural products in the shower, but have not gone the no-poo super cheap way yet. I plan on trying it out in the coming months. Right now we use shampoo and conditioner from the Honest Company thanks to special coupons and other discounts. Another thing I’m hoping to try is oil cleansing for our face and trying activated charcoal for teeth whitening. I would also love to try un-paper towels in the kitchen.

God Provides

After my last few posts, I had many friends reach out to encourage me and let me know I’m not alone. Thank you! I am so grateful and I covet your prayers.

I just wanted to share how awesome God has been.

From about 3 different, unrelated sources, I was recommended the book After the Boxes are Unpacked by Susan Miller and was even able to join a bible study group this week that uses the book. I’ve read the first few chapters and it has been great. It definitely hits on exactly how I’m feeling and I’m looking forward to reading the rest. On top of a great book, now I have a chance to meet some new friends (and get to know some new friends a little better). God’s timing never ceases to amaze me and I love how this particular book was recommended to me by so many different people.

The second thing causing the most stress has been the boys. They’ve been extra tough lately, but pretty much since I wrote that post, we’ve been doing a lot better. I know part of the change is my own attitude, but it’s also a tremendous blessing that the boys are giving me a nice little ‘break.’ Little C has been sleeping a bit better and been doing really well with Elimination Communication (more about that in another post soon). Big C has been less trying, more cooperative, and just plain more fun. It’s no coincidence that when I needed relief most, it came.

Friends. It’s tough to make friends! I’ve gotten to meet several awesome ladies and I’m so excited to get to know them better. Just when I have been most lonely, God brings someone into my life who I really click with. From a running buddy, to a fellow hippie, to anywhere in between.




I shared yesterday that this move has been tough, but I wanted to share a little more.

I’m having a hard time coping with everything.

The little one rarely sleeps more than 2 hours at a time (if that), we’ve been here just long enough for the fun new-ness to have worn off, I struggle with being an emotional eater, the boys sharing a room is really tough, Damien gets home almost 2 hours later than I am used to, and having a 2.5 year old and a 1 year old is proving to be quite the challenge. In short, I’m a mess.

I don’t know if I would call it depression, but I definitely struggle to not be gloomy all the time. I’m a people person, so I am generally always happy around other people. But alone – at home, that’s not the case.

My first year teaching was covered in a cloud of gloom. I was so stressed about all of the tasks on hand and especially anxious about being a good teacher. I felt physically ill almost every Sunday night before the start of the next week. I’m not sure how I survived that year, but with Damien’s support, a great partner teacher and a ton of prayer, I made it.

The next year, I was able to go to China for two weeks on a mission trip. Our job would be to teach English as a summer camp to students who wanted/needed/were able to afford extra practice from an ‘authentic English speaker.’ I was responsible for creating the curriculum all of our teaching teams would use and I liked the challenge. If you know me, you know that I like to be in charge. This I could do. When we arrived, we found out that we would be working at three campuses, not one. And since I was the ‘professional’ teacher, I would go alone to a campus 45 minutes away, teach all day and then travel back. By myself. I like to be in charge. I don’t like to be alone. Especially in a foreign country! The first day I felt like puking on the way to the campus. I had no idea what I was doing, I didn’t speak Chinese, and I was on my own.

From the time I found out I’d have to go to a separate campus, I started praying. I knew I needed God’s strength to handle it. Even though I liked to be in charge, I really had no confidence in my teaching ability. I believed that I wasn’t any good at it. I think my prayers were something along the line of “You have to fix me. You brought me here and then sent me away by myself. So you have to make me work. I can’t spend my one short week on the verge of vomitting so make this go away. You put me in this situation, so now You’re going to make it better.” And you know what? He did. Since that trip I have had almost zero anxiety or depression when it comes to teaching.

And then we had Big C. No one tells you that the hormones after having the baby are worse than when you are pregnant. I was a wreck after having a baby. It felt like a roller coaster. I cried a lot, struggled a lot, and begged for God’s patience and strength because I didn’t have any left. Slowly, God taught me how to handle being a mother and I learned how to handle the ups and downs of having a little one.

Then came the little one. The first months of his life seemed like a breeze compared to the first time around. I ‘knew what I was doing.’ And I felt confident as a mom. So how’d we mix it up this time? Oh yeah, a move to Nashville!

The last 2-3 weeks have been some of the toughest I’ve had. I’m struggling with the move, I’m struggling as a mom, and I’m struggling as a wife. I shared my stories for my sake. They prove to me that God is there in the rough times. He uses them to teach me and to make me a better person. This storm will pass and I will be stronger for it. It’s just incredibly hard to see that right now. In the middle of the night when I’m exhausted and crying, I need to remember that Christ gives me strength.

Life will go on. God will help me overcome this challenge and the next one will come. Change is good. Growth is good.

John 14:1
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.

Romans 15:13
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Change is Hard


Generally speaking, I like change. If I’ve been doing the same thing for a long time, I’ll try to intentionally change it up.

But this time – this change – is hard.

I’ll be honest. I want to go home. I miss my home. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss my doggy. I miss the boys having separate rooms. I miss AZ traffic (never thought I’d say that!). I miss the forests and trails. I miss everything that I’ve known for my entire life. I miss being able to call people for advice and not have to worry that it’s only 4, 5, or 6 in the morning there. I miss being comfortable in my own little world.

I’m trying my best not to complain, but I don’t want to act like everything is great and nothing is wrong. I don’t want to hide the fact that I bawled my eyes out last night while the little one was screaming and refusing to go to sleep (he has a cold).

I also don’t want to make it sound like I’m miserable. I am still excited that we are here. Damien’s job is awesome and I know he is really enjoying it. He really likes the people he works with, he’s actually busy and doing things he enjoys. Living in a big city is kind of fun. I love all of the parks, the zoo, the shopping. It’s fun having so much to do.

This is more change than I’ve ever had to deal with. It’s proving to be a lot harder to roll with the punches this time.

Part 2 will be coming soon.

A Life Update

So I’m a little behind, but hey, life goes on.

July 19th was the hubby and my 10th wedding anniversary! It has been an amazing ten years. We have had good times and bad, but God has been there for every step. I am excited to see what is in store for the next 10 and beyond.

The boys are both growing like weeds. Big C got a play kitchen for his birthday a few months ago and he couldn’t reach the microwave without his stool. Now he can reach it no problem and climb on top of the kitchen to get even higher. Little C is standing like a pro and he’s not even 10 months! He doesn’t take any steps, but he stands up constantly to play with things and see what we are doing. It’s amazing to see how different they are. Big C never got in to things and was content to play with the things we showed him and hang out near us. The little one? No way. He opens the cabinets, gets in the trash, climbs up the stairs!!!, and examines every wall outlet.

This evening he was playing peekaboo with Big C and daddy. He was standing around a corner and would peek out for them to say “boo” and then he would laugh, crawl away, and a few seconds later come back. It was so cute. Big C can have entire, real conversations. We went to the fair on Monday, but yesterday as we were hanging out he told me all about how he told dad “no,” but rode a horse anyway, how he pet a horse, saw a cow, heard the cow moo, was scared by the cow because it said moo, and saw a cow drinking milk. It is so cool (and sometimes frustrating) that he can actually communicate with us in full sentences.

We’ve been settling in here nicely. On weekends we often drive to new places just to check them out. Today we drove into Nashville to go to Bass Pro Shops and the Opry Land Mall. It was fun, but wow was it crowded! We were just window shopping today so we didn’t spend much time there. We’ll have to plan an actual trip to come see the Grand Ole Opry, but it was fun just driving around today. During the week, I have been running a ton so we go to the park and Big C gets to play on the playground when I’m done. It’s been great to keep exercising and it’s been so nice to kill a few hours in the morning. I’ve also been to Stroller Strides a few times. It’s fun, the workout is great, but it’s bittersweet. It’s just not the same without the ladies from Flagstaff.

Damien is LOVING his job! He has always been very upbeat, but the last few months at his old job were pretty draining for him. He did great, but I could tell he wasn’t really up for a lot after work, because he just didn’t have much left. After a month (it’s already been a month!) of being here, it’s totally different. He gets home way later, but still has energy to hang out.

Sometimes I really miss all our family and friends, and that will continue to be tough. Making new friends takes time and it’s not easy. But I’m so glad we’re here. This is the adventure God has for us and I know there will be great things in the future.

I almost forgot…. the house is SOLD! The realtor came and looked at the house Wednesday, he may have put it on MLS Thursday but I don’t think he had time, he called a realtor friend who he knew had clients looking in our price range, we dropped off the keys Friday night, the other realtor picked up the keys Saturday morning and 45 minutes later we had a full price offer! We officially closed the end of July and we are so thankful. God is good!

Fixing Up the House

Before we left Flagstaff, we had a few home improvement projects to do. We were able to make enough cash from our garage sale to completely fund everything we needed to do! Below I’ll show some before and afters. A few years ago we painted the exterior and now along with these projects, the whole house got a fresh coat of paint inside.

It was so bittersweet to finally complete the projects we wanted to just so we could sell it, but that’s how it goes sometimes. We are super excited about this opportunity to do things over. Next time around we’ll be saving for a much larger down payment (at LEAST 20%) and we’ll have the money to do projects if necessary in an actual planned amount of time. The beauty of living on a written budget every month is that now I know that saving that much money is not impossible and I can easily see which things I’m willing to sacrifice in order to make it happen.

Another great thing we learned was that most of the projects that seemed very intimidating or daunting were so much easier than we thought. We had been delaying on several things because they would be a huge expense or just way too difficult. In the end, we completed everything in one weekend! We had help from my awesome cousins, but it was still done in less time and for less money than I had imagined. Going forward we will both be much more willing to jump into projects and get things done.

Our New Place

Many people were asking us about our new place in TN. We’re just renting for now, but we found a cute 2 bedroom townhouse with a yard. Well, it’s more like a patio, but it’s outside and it’s ours! The community we are in has a pool (which we are right next to) and it’s pretty close to work for Damien and close to everything else for me.

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It is still hard to fathom that we live 1500 miles away from our family and friends, but we are truly enjoying it here. People are friendly, the town is great, and Damien loves his new job. We are getting settled in and trying to explore the area around us.