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A Peek Into July at Our House

Every month in 2019, I’ll be sharing a photographic peek into the previous month. I thought this would be fun to give you a behind-the-scenes look at our month and recap some of the highs and lows and special memories of the month.

I promised to tell you all about our trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone in my June recap.

My dad paid for all of us to fly to Utah for our extended family trip (his Christmas gift to all of us), so we decided that since we were already going to be in Utah and would be so close to Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, we’d add two days into our trip and go visit Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and spend some time in Idaho and Montana, too.

Many people thought we were crazy to try to fit two National Parks and three states into less than two days… but we ended up having the BEST time!

Jenny Lake (at Teton) was breath-taking!

We didn’t get to the Parks until later in the day, so we avoided all the crowds and had parts of the Parks completely to ourselves!
I took SO many pictures and videos, but I had to narrow it down to some of our favorites to share here.

These photos do not do this scenery justice… I literally felt like it was a glimpse of what heaven might look like.

We’re working on getting better at taking family photos with the timer set. I propped my phone up on the car hood with a book and my makeup bag. It didn’t turn out quite like I envisioned, but hey, the sign and us are all in the photo. 🙂

Yellowstone Lake (I clearly love lakes!) Again, this photo isn’t even close to showing how gorgeous this area was!

This bison and elk were sitting in the same field for at least 30 minutes just minding their own business while dozens of people took photos and videos.

Since we saw our first geyser in Iceland a week before, we really wanted to see more geysers in Yellowstone. We waited an hour to see Old Faithful erupt, but it was so worth it!

Best of all, since it was 9:37 pm, there weren’t many people there watching and it kind of felt like we got our own private showing! (While we were waiting, we got to see another geyser erupt, too!)

We spent the next day in Montana and Idaho! We especially loved West Yellowstone, Montana!

These bear trash cans were a new thing for us. It took us a little while to figure out that’s what they were (trash cans designed so bears couldn’t get into them).

We came home to our bathroom getting renovated.

We hadn’t really thought about the fact that we wouldn’t be able to sleep in our room while they were re-doing our bathroom! 🙂 We ended up sleeping on the couch and on a twin mattress in the bonus room!

We had so much fun picking out paint colors and lighting… and are so happy with what we ended up with!

We went to Home Depot in July. (Hang tight, I’ll tell you about these plants in a minute.)

For now, let’s all pause to let the statement that I went to Home Depot sink in.

Your girl right here who is not handy at all, who has zero desire to ever renovate a home or even use a hammer, spent over an HOUR in the aisles of Home Depot.

Did I mention I have never, ever even so much as nailed something on a wall on any house I’ve lived in?

But since having our master bathroom renovated, I’m doing and learning all sorts of new things.

For instance, I went to the tile store to pick out tile. I realized quickly I was in over my head and the first question I had to ask the associate was, “Um, so we’re kinda new to this. Could you tell me what tile goes on the wall and what goes on the floor??”

So back to Home Depot: We had gone in to pick out lighting fixtures for the bathroom (something I’ve also never done in 37 years — mostly because we’ve been in rentals so much of our marriage) and paint.

Folks, I got so invested in the process that, pretty soon, I began gaining confidence in my renovation expertise and started spouting off things to Jesse like, “Since we have so many straight lines in the bathroom (subway tiles/flooring), we really need to pick fixtures with more dimension to offset things.” (I don’t even know what that means exactly, but he must have thought it was convincing enough because he bought the fixtures I picked out!)

When we got to the checkout lane, I basically felt like I was ready for Joanna Gaines to consider hiring me for her next reno. And that’s when I saw the $5 succulents… it just felt like it was something she would choose, so I bought them (for all I know, she hates these plants!)

And I’m very proud to report I have managed to keep them alive for over a month. A whole MONTH, people!

If you need help with your next reno or your plants, my website and consulting business is coming soon.

Sarcasm aside, are you a plant person? Best advice for keeping my new purchases alive? Also, anyone else out there who has never nailed anything on the wall? Nope, I didn’t think so.

(Yes, see?? They are still alive!!)

In other shocking news, I also did the 21 Days of Squats Challenge in July.

“I despise squats!” This is what I’ve said and believed for a number of years. But inspired by @sarahaleyfit and her #21DaysofSquats challenge, I decided to commit to do what felt like a ridiculous number of squats every day for 21 days.

Was I crazy? Well, maybe a little. 😉 But also, I wanted to challenge myself to do something I really disliked for three weeks to see how my perspective changed on it.

Because I’ve learned that sometimes we tell ourselves something over and over again and we believe it to be true when we really haven’t tested the theory enough.

Yes, I’ve done squats before, but never more than a few times a week and never this many in number. When I did them before, I literally told myself before, during, and after, “I hate squats!”

Guess what happens if you tell yourself negative thoughts like that over and over again? You believe them to be truth — even if you’ve never really given yourself the opportunity to believe anything different.

I’ve been working hard to rid my brain of this stinkin’ thinking and to replace my long-held negative mantras and beliefs.

So I got bold and committed to 21 Days of Squats assuming I was going to actually prove that this whole, “I despise squats” belief wasn’t negative thinking; it was going to be a proven fact.

The first 3 days were grueling and painful. I was sore and felt frustrated that I publicly committed to this challenge.

But I pushed through and by Day 5, I realized it was getting stronger and less frustrated. By Day 8, I was all, “This isn’t too bad!”

I made it to Day 21 and I didn’t miss a day — even when we were traveling and I did the squats in the ironing closet area shown here.

I’m here to tell you I not only survived, I can actually tell a physical difference in my body, AND I’m sort of starting to like squats and I almost wished the challenge were longer than 21 days!!

In July, we also had our first foray into foster care. We got to do respite care for our friends’ 2-year-old foster daughter and y’all it was the most beautiful thing to watch my kids love on this precious little girl.

They had so much fun with her and we laughed so much together over her antics. Watching them feed her, care for her, make food for her, take turns playing with her, talk with her, comfort her, and be silly with her… I saw such a sweet, nurturing side to each of them and it warmed my heart something fierce.

It was such a confirmation to me that stepping out in faith and saying to foster care is what God is calling us to. My friend had told me, “I think your kids will surprise you how much their heart will expand and how giving and sacrificial they will be.” I got a tiny glimpse of that.

We don’t know what the future holds, but I wholeheartedly believe it is going to stretch and grow all of us in really powerful and life-changing ways.

This was shared with permission from her foster family.

We drove to Atlanta to meet up with my sister, her husband, and their four kids.

We had the BEST time at Sweetwater Creek State Park and would highly recommend it!

FUN FACT: When Jesse and I were first married, we listened to every single Kansas City Royals baseball game on the radio together. (We didn’t have money or a TV and only 10 hours of free internet per month, so it was our free entertainment!)

Even though we live in Tennessee now, we’ll always be Royals Baseball fans! 33 years of living in Kansas will do that to you! 😉

Silas’ birthday present months ago was tickets to a Royals/Braves game in Atlanta. We felt a little conspicuous repping the Royals in a sea of thousands of diehard Braves fans, but we had the best time. And the Royals won!!

Saturday, July 27, 2019, was such a dream come true for me!!

34 of my blog coaching group members flew and drove from all over the country to spend a day at our house hanging out, learning together, challenging each other, and setting big goals together for the next 6 months.

Y’all, I knew I loved these people, but getting to meet them in person was an absolute thrill to my soul!!

To see their passion for what they do, to hear their honest struggles, to celebrate their successes, and to witness each of them stand up and share their big goals for the next 6 months… I just couldn’t stop smiling all day!

14+ years ago when I first began blogging, I could have never dreamed that one day I would not only get to be doing it full-time (and have my husband be working alongside me!), but that I’d get to teach and inspire hundreds of other bloggers to do the same… it’s humbling and mind-boggling to me!

If you have a dream, can I challenge you to not let fear hold you back? It’s scary to jump out and take risks… but some of the greatest rewards are on the other side of our comfort zone!

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24 Comments

  • Need Anap says:

    Out of 22 years of marriage, we’ve lived only 5 years in a house we owned. We had 3 pictures nailed to the wall and that was it. So I’m close to your record! Lots of Command Adhesive and some “teacher wall putty” stuff though. : )

  • Carole Janusz says:

    Loved reading about all the fun adventures you guys had, and the pictures were awesome.

  • Teresa L Williams says:

    I love reading things like this. Sounds like y’all have been having a blessed summer. I’ve been having a major mental block about upping my activity level from diddley squat to some, and your account of the squats you did got me thinking; I think I’m gonna start using my tabletop bike tonight, and at least 20 minutes every day. Thank you for your emails and posts.

  • Martina Gaughan says:

    Thank you for the heads up on how a master bathroom redo impacts the master bedroom. We have been planning for a redo all summer (starts Tuesday) but until I heard your story on the podcast I hadn’t considered that it would impact our bedroom too! Now we can plan accordingly!

  • Margaret says:

    You’ve now been bitten by the allure of Jackson Hole and the Tetons … if you’re anything like me you’ll always want to return!

  • Denise says:

    I know each state is different, but how rough was the process to be approved to do respite foster care? And did you have to have a bedroom specifically for the child/children?

    I’d love to do foster care, but am a little overwhelmed by the prospect because I’m already quite swamped as a public school teacher 😬

    • We’ve heard that TN is one of the more rigid states when it comes to getting in… and it definitely seemed like that. You are required to go to 7 weeks of classes and can only miss one class (which you have to make up within 60 days at another location). Then, you have a fairly extensive application process. Then you have to complete an extensive list of things in your home to pass the inspection (things like locking up all of your cleaners and hygiene products — including things like dish soap and shampoo). Then you have 3-4 visits from your home study writer which includes extensive interviews, lots more paperwork, referrals from friends, and home inspections.

      And then the state goes through your entire packet and hopefully approves you! We’ve been told we should be approved in 3-4 weeks since we just finished our home study and got passed off on our home inspection. We’ll see!

  • Charity says:

    Glad you were able to go to Grand Tetons & Yellowstone. What a whirlwind trip you had! We went 5 years ago & absolutely loved it! You’re right, pictures just don’t do it justice. It was our favorite vacation & we’d go back in a heartbeat.

  • Kelly says:

    Love all of this! When we were in West Yellowstone, I left my purse in the restroom at the chamber of commerce. They found my phone and called my husband. He looked at me like I was crazy for not realizing I was without my purse. I did remember my camera bag, and that was my priority while in Yellowstone haha!
    Lastly, your master bath layout is similar to mine. It’s ready for an update, and I love how your tiled shower matches the tub.

  • Sarah says:

    I am just finding my way back to god and you and your family are a great example for me to follow. You are really putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak, as a Christian with the foster stuff by loving god’s most vulnerable children. You are an inspiration! I wish I was in a position to do the same. I started reading your blog for the money saving, and stayed for the more religion oriented posts. Your blog is one of the reasons I have started wanting to be friends with god again. Thank you for helping me learn to trust god and his people. You remind me that in our earthly toil and triumphs and failings, god always has a plan for us!!!

  • Sara says:

    For our trip out west this summer we wanted to take family pics so we purchased one of these: https://www.amazon.com/Fotopro-Flexible-Portable-Smartphone-Bluetooth/dp/B07H4M3F61/ref=sr_1_18?keywords=white+octopus+tripod+for+iphone&qid=1567432382&s=gateway&sr=8-18. We actually got it on an Amazon deal of the day, but it was so worth it because it has a remote button you can push to get good family photos! Your trip looked amazing- thanks for sharing!

  • Jen says:

    I love the bathroom redo. Do you mind sharing the brand and color of flooring you used?

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