Books {2016}

I keep a running list of books that I read each year. Here was my 2016 list that I completed. To find my most current list, click HERE.

1. Fifteen Minutes, Karen Kingsbury (January)
2. Eat That Frog, Brian Tracey (February)
3. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo (March)
4. Quiet, Susan Cain (April) <--UGH I just couldn't finish. I really wanted to like this book, but at 46% of the way through, I just quit.
5. Hands Free Life, Rachel Macy Stafford (April)
6. Bloom, Kelle Hampton (May)
7. Bossypants, Tina Fey (June)<-- had to quit about halfway. I just couldn't get into it.
8. Barefoot, Elin Hilderbrand (July)
9. When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi (August)
10. Present Over Perfect, Shauna Niequist (September)
11. Uninvited, Lysa Terkeurst  (September)
12. Bittersweet, Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way, Shauna Niequist (September)
13. Goodbye Survival Mode, Crystal Paine (October)
14. Money Making Mom, Crystal Paine (October)
15. Wild and Free, Haley Morgan and Jess Connolly (November)
16. The Year Without a Purchase, Scott Dannemiller (December)
17. Looking for Lovely, Annie Downs (December)

ending strong: 2016

When I set my goals for 2016 I chose my "word" of the year to be BRAVE. I am actually shocked at how timely and relevant this word was for me this year.

The year began and I was unsure about everything. My job at our church as Elementary Director had me completely burned out and in need of a change. I was also teaching preschool 2 days a week and needed a change there as well. My embroidery business was on the back burner, but I wanted it to be way out in front. I was confused and tired. And really really tired. Because I was doing everything for everyone, except for the people who mattered.

I took a leap of faith in February and purchased a huge embroidery machine- my third machine. It was the price of a small car, which for my growing business was HUGE. But I saw it as the next necessary step if I wanted my business to grow. Spoiler alert: this was probably the best choice I made all year! Be BRAVE Caroline was the anthem chanting in my head. And it took a great amount of bravery to personally take on the debt my new machine incurred. I have felt so blessed to be able to run my business COMPLETELY debt free except for this one purchase (that I am not paying interest on). I have made every machine payment and I've been able to contribute to income for our family. I am so eternally grateful!

I swallowed my fear of confrontation and went in to church to step down from my position in February. It was a decision I wrestled with so so so hard. Be BRAVE Caroline. My stress level was through the roof. I stopped enjoying church and I had lost my enthusiasm. When I should have been focusing on teaching Jesus, I was focused on all the small details of everything (that were still really important), and filling spots for Sunday morning, that many times didn't get filled. Which meant I'd spend the entire Sunday morning teaching and not sitting in church and then wonder why I felt so depleted. It was a vicious cycle that I didn't know how to stop because as soon as Sunday morning was over I was faced with another Sunday morning in 6 more days... be BRAVE Caroline.

The same day I went in to step down, I was offered the position of Communications Director which we all felt would use my talents more fully. While this transition felt very seamless and logical at the time, it ended up causing a great deal of hurt later on. More on that in a minute.

Preschool ended in May and I did not renew my contract. I was heading in the right direction! Saying no. Stepping away and following my heart. 

Then our AC unit in our townhouse died. This sounds so silly to even mention, but it was not a really great time to have to fork over a few $grand$, because 2 weeks later...

Our tenants in our old house told us they would be moving in July. Be BRAVE Caroline! I feared this day. Somewhat because I knew that we would have to put some time into getting the house ready to rent/sell but also because I feared having to make 2 mortgage payments. We have planned for this day for years so it wasn't a complete surprise, but still something I get incredibly anxious about. We listed it for sale, had a contract in 24hours and then the contract fell through 2 weeks later due to the buyers financing. I was devastated. Be BRAVE Caroline.

SO many of my fears were happening- double mortgage payments, really expensive house items breaking. The oral surgeon telling me I need major dental work to remove a wisdom tooth stuck in my jaw bone. Um, no thanks.

We spent 3 out of 4 weekends in July fixing, painting, and cleaning our rental house which was set to be rented the first week of August. Praise the Lord. While we both wish it had sold at least we had tenants! To say July was a blur is a complete understatement. And it was like 100 degrees the whole month and exhaustion was so so so real. Be BRAVE Caroline.

I was asked the last week of July to come back to the preschool to teach. I had already said yes to being the PTA secretary at Luke's school thinking I would "enjoy volunteering since I wouldn't be teaching". So here I go again adding too many commitments to my plate. I said YES to teaching preschool again, this time on different days that worked better for us as a family.

The day after I said yes to preschool, I lost my job at the church. It was still July-- the month of exhaustion and stress. And while I tried to not take the loss personally, of course I did. "Things are the best they've ever been... it's not you..." sounds like a terrible episode of The Bachelor. This definitely isn't my first tango with feeling blindsided by a church. Be BRAVE Caroline.

I think that our hurt is still so raw and real that I honestly am not sure that I've fully recovered from 2013. And in reality I'm not sure I ever will. I'm really good at putting on a happy face and continuing even when I am completely shattered inside.

I decided that I had a choice-- to wallow in my self-pity or to face it for what it was. I went on a personal self sabbatical of sorts... a season of REST. I didn't figure everything out immediately, but I decided to use this time to focus on healing. For me this is immersing myself in books that speak to me. A few that were balm to my weary soul were "Bittersweet" and "Uninvited".

It was becoming increasingly clear that in order to heal and sort through my emotions that I needed to take a HUGE step back from everything. See when you are on staff at a church (or anywhere really) you do things because you have to. I "volunteered" because I needed to. I said yes because it was the right thing to do.

Except it wasn't.

When you say yes to things that your heart isn't fully vested in,  you are living for the approval of others. I realized that I had said yes to things that I didn't actually want to do. The job loss was a  betrayal of sorts and literally shook me to my core, but I fear without it I was on such an unhealthy trajectory of people pleasing that I would never have stepped down on my own. God wasn't whispering, he was SCREAMING to get my attention. I was saying yes because it's what I thought everyone else wanted me to do.

So I began saying "No." No without apologizing. 

"No" is a complete sentence. 

It was hard. It IS HARD. I don't like saying no and it does not come easy or naturally at all.

One of the books I read in September (Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequiest) talked about how people figured out who the "yes-ers" are and they will continue to ask them to do things. And I'll be honest. I know who my "yes-ers" are. So this has been incredibly eye opening for me. Saying yes is not a bad thing. But when I realized that I didn't even know how to say no, and that I felt immediate regret when saying yes that something needed to change. Will I disappoint people by saying no? Of course. Do I live for the approval of everyone else? Nope.

You guys, it's awkward. I feel like I have to defend everything I say. We have discipleship groups that started at church this past August and I had numerous people ask me if I was signing up. Which is fine! I asked others what groups they were in. I envisioned saying "No, not this time" but instead it came out "No, I just can't commit to one more thing, and this is my season of rest and I just can't. And I hate that because it's a really good thing and I love discipleship groups. And I love people. And I love Jesus. But I just can't right now." #deerinheadlights

"No." IS A COMPLETE SENTENCE.

This is clearly still a work in progress. A simple no. And those closest to me understand. And those not close to me don't deserve the details.

There are a few areas of my life that unfortunately I've already said yes to and I have an obligation to finish. You know that pesky word perseverance? I see these tasks as a lesson learned in saying yes to too much and having to live with the consequences I've created until I have fulfilled my commitments.

Already I have learned SO MUCH. One of my biggest takeaways is that "hustling" isn't something to be proud of. I can't STAND that word anymore. I envision pushing myself so hard that nothing else matters but whatever it is I'm hustling to get finished- and I can almost  guarantee it's something that doesn't even matter.

Because the things that matter aren't things we hustle through. I've also realized  that in this season of rest I may be saying no to things that are REALLY GOOD THINGS. Things that my former self would have said yes to. Kingdom things. Eternal things.

I need this time away to refocus on what I actually WANT to say yes to. Not what others want me to say yes to and not things that I should say yes to out of obligation. I am stepping back and reevaluating EVERYTHING.

So that at some point I'll be able to say yes again.

August-December has been my unofficial season of rest. And it has been the BEST. We have spent more time as a family during this time. I am planning our meals because I actually have time to. We are spending TRUE quality time together on the weekends. And we are enjoying the small amount of time we have during the week together. I love it.

Because this "season" has been absolutely everything that I wanted and needed,  I am going to continue it into this next year. I don't feel like five months has been nearly enough time. I am still finishing commitments and I am excited to cut away some of these things so I can focus on more rest. Family time. Togetherness.

We paid off over $10k in debt this year. Not bad irresponsible debt. Adult debt. A/c units and house repairs. That's something to celebrate! My van will be paid in May (hopefully sooner) and we are taking that money that we were putting toward our payment into weekends away. We went away a handful of times in 2016 and it was some of the best times we had! Our kids are at such an amazing age that we need to soak up the together time. So it's something we've decided we are making a priority in 2017-- many many weekends away! Exploring new places and taking in all the sites.

As I reflect of 2016 I am honestly content. Weepy actually because of how GOOD God is. How he uses adversity and hardship to our good and for His glory. And I am so thankful that my word was BRAVE. Because there wasn't a day that went by that I didn't think about it. That tiny word helped me remember the bigger picture on days when it was so incredibly heart wrenching and hard to see.

I absolutely LOVE new years. I see them as such a fresh start and new beginning. As these years pass (SO SO SO QUICKLY!) I see how we add all our experiences to our life story. I hope that by sharing mine with you, that you are encouraged. I am always amazed to hear people's stories because they are so very different, yet so much the same. We all deal with trials and adversity and we can see Jesus redeem the worst situation. I love that.

So let's raise a glass to 2017! and RESTing and saying no.


Can I get a do-over? October goals.

I posted my October goals here. Can I just say that the month of October FLEW by? Oh my gosh. I don't feel like I got nearly as many things done as I wanted to get done. But I still somehow felt productive?

This season is my embroidery busy season. Fall, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. just makes things extra hectic so maybe I was a little ambitious? We did have a nasty stomach bug this month and Emmie is suffering from allergies = no sleep for anyone.

1. I listed my bucket list in my original goals. Out of 5 things, I got ONE done. ONE. We went to an apple orchard. It was the perfect weekend for it and the kids had a great time. It was an amazing weekend!
I also wanted to carve a pumpkin, craft with fallen leaves, take out Christmas card picture, and make pumpkin bread. To my defense we HAVE our pumpkin and I want it to last a little longer (closer to Thanksgiving), Emmie got to craft with fallen leaves at her pumpkin patch at school, I have contacted THREE photographers and cannot find one to do a mini session for a decent price, and I was so busy making things with the 15lbs of apples we got that pumpkin bread was the last thing on my mind. Oh and it's still EIGHTY DEGREES. Ugh! Haha! So there is my list of reasons of why I got ONE thing done. 

2. Finish our stairs. We are SO CLOSE! The weekends have felt short and we have had 2 sick weekends this month. 


4. Swagbucks- I wanted to earn enough for a $70 gift card. I got $50 instead which isn't bad! I am pleased with that and have already begun Christmas shopping! I'd love another $50 this month!

5. I wanted to make an extra machine payment- which I did not do. BUT I did put that amount of money into another business opportunity that I am excited about. More to come in the next few months! I felt that the cost was worth the payoff, so I am ok with that!

6.  Relisten to "Goodbye Survival Mode" by Crystal Paine. I got about half way through! So I am still going. 

So all that to say, I have many loose ends to tie up this month and am excited about finishing what I have started! 

Amazon Round Up: November 4th

Welcome back to another fun week of Friyay finds! There are some fun ones today! Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Affiliate links are a win win. They provide a direct link to the  products I love, and they help support the blog! Read my disclosures here



Ergo baby carrier:  I found out about these too late with my kids and really considered getting one when Emmie was 18months old, but couldn't justify the cost. If you have a little baby I HIGHLY recommend! The navy whales are only $83.99!!!! These usually run around $120. 

Pampers Diapers (variations of swaddlers, baby dry and cruisers): These diaper deals are still around and they are fantastic! 12 cents/diaper! Remember the bigger the diaper the less come in a pack which accounts for the price variation. You need to subscribe to receive this price. A little planning ahead can go along way in savings!
Size 2: $27.19 12cents/diaper
Size 3: $25.59 15cents/diaper
Size 4: $27.19 15 cents/diaper
Size 5- $27.19 22 cents/diaper

Fisher Price Animal Farm: This is an adorable toy that folds together. I feel like Fisher Price toys are some sort of childhood rite of passage! This is perfect for the kids that LOVE animals! The price is the lowest to date at $22.39.


Melissa and Doug Bowling Set: I've said it before and I'll say it again; Melissa and Doug make awesome toys! This bowling set is super cute. My toddlers at school would LOVE it! It's priced at $14.99 currently and the average is $19.83.

Radio Flyer Balance Bike: I have heard amazing things about these bikes and would seriously consider doing these instead of training wheels if we could have a do over! This is usually over $60 so $39.99 for a toddler bike is an amazing price! 

Color Coded Cutting Mats: We have a set of color coded cutting boards and I LOVE them! I use blue for veggies/fruit, red for raw red meat or chicken, and yellow for cooked meat! Mine are actual cutting boards but I love these cutting mats. Easy to clean and store! This is an add-on item.



RTIC 30oz. Tumbler: I think Yeti's broke the internet the last Christmas! We snagged the Ozark tumblers for ourselves, but for $11.99 this is a great deal!!! You must choose the stainless steel option. It truly keeps your drinks cold for 24 hours and when it says 6 hours HOT it means it. Your coffee will still be HOT, not warm! They are amazing.



Contigo Insulated Travel Mug: If you are looking for something a little different than a Yeti or RTIC tumbler, this is a great travel mug! What I love about these over the tumblers is that they seal and don't spill. You have to select the "latte" color to get the $12.79 price. I have one in the plum/purple color and my coffee stays hot for at least 4 hours!



If you want to see other weeks' deals here they are! Some prices are still good. I am sure to list the price in my post so you know whether it's still a good deal or not! :)

Our Shared Kid's Room: Inspiration

We recently decided to let our kids share a bedroom. We knew there would only be a window of a few years that this would be feasible and definitely know this set up isn't for everyone. But for us at this point in our lives, it has been 1000% the right decision.

How do I know? I had a three year old that DIDN'T SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT. Bless. Which means she had parents that FOR THREE YEARS didn't sleep through the night. Bless.

The kids have been begging for about six months to sleep in the same room. We did a few trial runs when we went on vacation or over long weekends letting them "camp out" in each others' rooms. And it actually went well! It's almost like they need to know each other is there to fall asleep and it's comforting to wake up in the night and know your brother/sister is there even if they aren't awake. I'm fairly confident that she still wakes, but for the first time she is actually training herself to fall back asleep. WIN!

The only problem is swallowing my blood sweat and tears that went into finishing both of their individual rooms. *lots of tears shed*. You can see Emmie's finished room here and Luke's here.

Logistically the kid's are sleeping in Luke's room. It's bigger, has a full walk in closet (with a light) that they use to change in. We call this their "sleeping" room and there are no toys in here except for books and stuffed animals. All their toys were moved in Emmie's old room which we are calling the playroom. My only rule about the playroom is that I have to be able to close the door. ;)

Luke had asked for a shark room a few months ago so I have been collecting shark decor to overhaul it a bit. Emmie wanted a mermaid room. So I figured we'd combine those 2 ideas into 1 "sea" room that had elements that both kids would like. Here are my ideas!

We have already decided on painting the walls a pretty taupe neutral. We have selected (and purchased!) Behr's Sculptor Clay.

We would slowly love to repaint our house and wanted to select a color that would work around the whole house (to make touchups a breeze). We want to try it in a room before starting an 18foot foyer ;) So this is the room! I'd also like to bring in some boy/girl accent colors: 

I have already purchased the wood and paint for this board and batten technique on one wall. Read about how I snagged our supplies FOR FREE here


In front of the board and batten I would like to position their beds like this: 
We have an IKEA dresser similar to the one pictured that we'd like to use between their beds to do double duty as a dresser and nightstand. I'm honestly not even 100% sure that their beds will fit like this? But We will try!

We don't currently have matching beds and we are trying to decide what we should do. Bunk beds would be the best use of space, but we aren't sure we want to drop $ on bunk beds when we have perfectly good beds already. We kept the kid's crib and we originally planned to turn it into a full sized bed for Luke and to give Emmie his twin. She's not quite ready to be out of a toddler bed yet. So this area is a big question mark currently. Which is OK!

All that to say here were the ideas I was planning to include in his shark room: 



And the mermaid things I love!

I would love to work with the light blocking curtains we already have and maybe add polka dots to them or a tulle mermaid inspired tail to the end. We'll see!

I want to find mermaid sheets or something cutesy to go on her bed. She doesn't even have real bedding yet because she just gave up the crib when she turned 3. We'll probably grab something for the winter.

Amazon Round Up: October 28


I'm back!!! It has been so fun to compile these deals to share. You can check out last week's post here. Some of those deals are still good! Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Affiliate links are a win win. They provide a direct link to the  products I love, and they help support the blog! Read my disclosures here




Sorry if it's weird starting off with toilet paper. BUT $3.99!!! I think some people think I am ridiculous to have TP shipped to my house. But for $3.99 as an add on item, why not?! Also right now at Target the same pack is $6.29. And Walmart is $4.98. I snagged this deal back in September so I am scared that it won't be around much longer- but who knows! My tip with add on items (that you have to spend $25 of a qualifying purchase to receive) is to add them to your cart or wishlist, and then wait until you purchase $25+. For me this purchase is dog food. So I'll wait for that order and since it's over $25 I'll include all my add on items. 


Melissa and Doug toys are always a hit because they are so classic and well made! This set is down from around $12 currently to $8.24. It's 4 puzzles in 1 and don't all kids love trucks, trains and cars?
This Graco high back booster is on sale in select colors for $51.99! It averages around $70, so that's a pretty good deal! We have the older version of this seat and love it! My almost 7 year old uses it with the back still attached. It also has the latch for the latch system!

There are SO MANY LEGO deals! I was just in a store price checking some sets for my son and Amazon beat out the store prices EVERYTIME! Here are a few that stuck out to me: 

-Minecraft Dungeon: $13.99 (these were $20 at Walmart yesterday morning!)
-Superhero: $8.49 (normally $12.82)
-Elves the Water Dragon: $12.79 (lowest price to date)

And that's just the tip of the iceberg! Scroll through and see if you can find others that interest you!
Speaking of Legos, here is a baseplate for the lowest it's ever been! These are invaluable! I've seen moms use a few of these and glue it to a table to create a lego table for Christmas! 


For the smaller fingers, this Mickey and Minnie Party Parade is so cute. It usually is in the $22 range and had been as high as $25. It's currently listed at $17.59.

This is a fun deal on Pyrex Measuring Cups! I LOVE these for baking and it has a large 8 cup measuring cup! With the holidays coming I thought someone may need some! It's the lowest price it's ever been-- this set usually sits around $30. 





There ya go! My goal is to have 10 deals next week! My best suggestion for Christmas is to create wish lists to be able to monitor prices. We are also sharing that list with family members who buy for our kids to make it easier. 

Also NOW is the time to sign up for a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime. If you sign up now you will get the Black Friday deals AND free shipping! Also by the time your trial is up you could POSSIBLY be done with Christmas shopping! Amazing right? Click HERE for a free 30 day trial. Remember you WILL be charged after the 30 days at the full prime price which is $99/year (which is still a great deal for all you get). I always write those deadlines on my calendar so I don't forget. 


Our Master Bath Refresh (& DIY chalk paint)

I am going to start this post by saying that we have a TINY master bathroom. It literally has enough space to fit the 4 necessary items- bath tub, shower, toilet and vanity. 

When we walked through our house, I remember being so happy with the rest of the house, and then getting to the master bedroom closet and bathroom and hearing a womp womp. We turned our master closet over to the experts at California Closets because we were just at a loss. The bathroom was all on us! 

We started by choosing a paint color. I don't even really remember choosing the aqua, but I remember thinking I wanted it a Tiffany Blue. I actually had a Tiffany's box and put it next to the paint color swatches to be sure! We ended up going with "Cool Jazz" by Behr. I LOVED our old home's front door color that we chose (Sweet Rhapsody)- so we went 1 shade lighter for this bathroom.

The first thing we did was install big chunky floating shelves over the toilet. This was Josh's brain child and he did an amazing job pulling it off!
Next up was the vanity. Oyyyy. I went back and forth SO MANY TIMES. We started painting this bathroom over a year ago. It was the summer of 2015. And I dragged my feet for so long. Partly out of fear. Our home doesn't feel old enough to me that we need to re-do things. But the longer I live, the more I realize that I don't want to do things because that's the "right way" or "what normal people do". I want to make my house my home. And painting the vanity was one thing that I felt would really brighten the space.

So the obligatory before:

I used the trim paint from the rest of our house for this makeover. I lightly distressed the edges with sandpaper to add depth and dimension. At the end of the post I will share sources of everything I used (I make my own chalk paint and finish with a finishing paste).
We wanted SO BAD to trim the mirror with wood, but we have a pesky plug that backs right up to the mirror and husband said it would be weird to cut around that. ^^you can see it up there.

I might have a slight obsession with makeup so just disregard ;) I don't store it away on a normal day, so #reallife here.

See the blue mason jar soap dispensers. #hearteyes
Josh upgraded the light- it had been a dim globe light. I had this beautiful chandelier in our old house's master bath and when we got in this past summer to fix a few things, I had Josh snag this for me. We replaced it with what had been there originally. 

I am planning to put some sort of our initials on this canvas in gold HTV so it'll be a tone on tone subtle look. 
We got rid of the towel rack and replaced with these knobs that look like old crystal door knobs. The knob on the left is so my towel can be within reach when I soak in the tub.
Like I said, this bathroom is SMALL. I feel like I elbow every wall every way I turn! But here is our tub nook. It was my goal this year to take more bubble baths and unfortunately that hasn't happened. But I do enjoy a bath every so often! #yestherearedinosinthetub #againreallife

The only change we made here is the wall below the tub. It had been tan (like the rest of the bathroom), and then I painted it blue when I painted the bathroom. But it felt so incredibly disjointed and awkward. I went back and forth with it and decided to paint the little part white to match the trim to make it look like more of a built in piece. Josh added the "battens" to create a board and batten look. It literally took 10 minutes a glue to make this happen. It was so easy and made such an impact. 
All in all we LOVE this change. Painting the vanity white added SO MUCH to this tiny space. We are actually toying with the idea of painting the kitchen cabinets. #iknowright I have heard how much work painting kitchen cabinets are, so we will see. We also want to see how our vanity wears before we do anything drastic. My biggest hesitation is we eventually want our townhouse to be a rental and we aren't sure the upkeep of painted cabinets vs. the dark wood. We have a few other projects to wrap up first, so we'll see! 

Here are the sources for this project: 

1. Deglosser. This product is like a liquid sandpaper. If you use enough with enough strength it'll take the finish off the cabinets. I rub all the cabinets down pretty quickly with this. It gets the grime off and makes the surface suitable for painting. 
2. Paint. I use Behr's Premium Plus paint in matte. Our house trim color is toasted marshmallow. This has primer in it and covers well. It's not the cheapest paint they sell, but it isn't the most expensive. 
3. Calcium Carbonate. I save our yogurt containers and any other random plastic tubs and I mix 2-ish tablespoons into about 1.5 cups of paint. More or less won't hurt anything. This gives the finish a chalky finish, it helps it adhere to the cabinets without sanding, and it makes the paint SUPER fast drying! 
4. Sandpaper to distress. I prefer 120 grit for distressing. 
5. Minwax Paste Finishing Wax. I rub this on with a paper towel (and I wear latex gloves). The fumes are pretty strong! Wax on, wax off. This takes the "chalky" feel off the paint finish without making it glossy. It also protects the finish. 
There you have my arsenal of secrets! I never skip a step and use this method on not just cabinets, but also on night stands and dressers. 
*contains affiliate links. Affiliate links are a win win. They provide a direct link to the  products I love, and they help support the blog! Read my disclosures here

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