Fox Den Woodshop Creation: Coffee Table

Did we ever tell you the story about the time I showed Conner a picture of a coffee table and he built it for me? 20140618-214820.jpgYeah, that happened. We have an L shaped couch and I knew a square table would be the perfect piece for the middle of the room, especially for placing magazines, Conner’s nightly coffee cup, and the bowl from my morning yogurt. I showed him a picture from a magazine and knew that he could make it happen with his handy skills. After seeing the pictures, he was hesitant as he did not have a welder, but said he was up for the challenge. One of his favorite parts of any wood project is the designing and drawing of the piece being built. After sketching out the design and making a plan for the pieces he bought the supplies. Conner found a local welder who made the square frames for both the coffee table and the desk in the man cave. Once the frames returned from the welder, Conner built the wooden top and bottom for the table.

I love the addition of this piece to our living room. It is the perfect size and height for the functionality we use it for on a daily basis. I also love that Conner built it for a fraction of the price I would have paid for it at the store. He added in the functionality of the bottom shelf per my request so that I could use it as extra storage. I am so thankful for how handy Conner is and that one of his hobbies is woodworking!

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Summer Time Pool Party

Pool PartyI love summer mostly because of the sunny days that include laying out, lounging by the pool, and the community of hanging out with people enjoying the extended hours of daylight. Recently my co-leader and I planned a swimming party for our high school small group. It was a great kick off to the summer that included pizza, snacks, and cupcakes. While we ended up at the pool eventually, we began with the food set-up indoors as it was raining on and off.
Pool Party Set-upThe cupcakes were my favorite part mostly because they had blue icing and little tiki hut umbrellas. Since this was a girls only party, I saved one of the cupcakes for Conner to let him in on the summer time kick off action.Summer CupcakeI think what makes a party special is the attention to the tiniest details. I love the sand pail buckets I found for $1 at the…you guessed it… Dollar Store. I dug through the bins to find the perfect shovel + bucket combination to go with our color scheme. We kept the food simple with some store  bought hummus and crudites. The buckets held two different types of popcorn as well as some sun chips. The pool party was a hit and it was a lot of fun to put together the brightly themed party display. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love on people through party planning. On to daydreaming about the next party theme!

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Christmas In July: Paper Edition

Do you celebrate Christmas in July? I am always amazed at how quickly the red and green decor hits the retail shelves during this second half of the year. If you really wanted to celebrate Christmas in July, I am sure you can head to your local store and pick up some decor right now. Can I get an amen?!? One of my favorite things about the holidays are the fun pieces of mail that fill my inbox. Here is a glimpse at what went out last year (yeah  7 months late- opps) from us!

Christmas Card 2014 We just moved in to our house last year, so we wanted to highlight that achievement while highlighting one of my favorite things: Baking!Merry Christmas CardWe set up a little tripod in our kitchen and whipped up some cupcakes with green icing. It was a lot of fun (and a little messy) to create these cards, but turned out really great. I love being able to think outside of the box and do something a little different than the normal cards.

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Health and wellness hits the road

Making healthy choices when traveling for work or vacation is hard. The factors of having limited access to the grab and go options we are used to combined with limited time to work out equal heightened area for failure in terms of sticking to healthy choices. Since our decision to lose weight was focused on creating a healthier life style it does make it a little easier not to beat ourselves up for one misstep but it also arms us with tools to make good decisions on the road.

One thing we do to prepare ourselves for success is that we pack our own snacks when we know we will be traveling. We get everything measured out so that we know what we are consuming is good and will keep us full in between meals. It is also an easy way to save money because it is convenient to pack up cereal or snacks instead of having to eat out for every meal while on the road. This helps to ensure we don’t become hangry and we are fueling our bodies with healthy nutrients.20140618-215423.jpgAs for exercise, we will wake up early to hit up the on-site fitness centers or when on leisure time, find a way to incorporate some kind of physical activity into our tourist stops. There are always great trails or state parks to discover while traveling so that is a fun way to explore the area and get outside rather than a traditional work out of a gym. Conner has also been known to run up and down the stairs in the hotel when the on-site gym was non-existent.

Another idea for maintaining a healthy life while traveling is pack tennis shoes. The best part of incorporating running into our fitness routine is that all we need is a pair of tennis shoes and our work out can be taken outdoors anywhere we are. Tennis shoes can be worn while traveling and then it doesn’t even take up any room in your baggage!

How do you incorporate a healthy lifestyle into travel or vacation?

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I want to grow old with you

Date nights are my favorite but when they are themed, it makes it even more fun!
Last week I planned a date night themed around “I want to grow old with you”.I want to grow old with you

We both had blocked off the evening on Thursday night for a date, but I refused to tell Conner the plan. In the morning, I placed a little note on his desk saying “I want to grow old with you, see you at 5:00pm”. Yeah that is right, all Bachelorette date card style.

Hahaha

This allowed for a little mystery for the night as well as stated the time to be ready to go.

5:00pm rolled around and it was date night!

To kick off the date we went for an early bird dinner special at Golden Corral. Now I know what you are thinking, because I thought the same thing- Gross. But Golden Corral holds the memory of where Conner used to go on dates with his Grandma for dinner. I found a local one and my buffet-fearful self was actually surprised at how clean the place was at the early bird hour. Oh, and everything had calories listed on the sneeze guard signs. I made it through and even dipped a marshmallow into the chocolate fountain. Yeah it is exactly what you expect it to be. A hot mess. Golden Corral

After dinner we rushed over to the VFW to get our bingo on. We were greeted by an elderly lady in a peacock blue jumpsuit that gave us the inside scoop- first timers get a free dapper. Not sure what gave it away- our pause at the front door for a selfie or our age. Either way, her inside scoop earned us a free dapper. Thank you Peacock Grandma. Our wallets thank you. Bingo at VFWThe people at the Bingo hall were incredibly nice and serious about their game. We had a blast and even rounded out the “grow old with you” date with a 9:30pm bed time. Sometimes it is fun being old.

 

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Accidents Happen

There is not much that makes me shake and have scared tears. Yesterday was the exception.

5 minutes prior to being at the intersection of shaky hands and refraining from crying was my mind saying “Wow, honey bee looks pretty today”. Who says that about their car? Who cares. Well to me my honey bee stands for hard work, dedication, and success. I drive a 10 year old car that runs like she is only 4 years old because I take good care of her. She is paid off which in itself was not easy and required sacrifice. Well yesterday left me with a less than pretty exterior of this worldly possession.Accidents Happen

And in those moments of shaking and scared tears I had to remind myself that it was just that- a possession and that no one was hurt.

Thank goodness.

But it still shook me up.

See not only moments earlier was I reflecting on how nice my car was, but I was also on a high of good emotions from great interactions with people throughout the day. You know the kind of interactions. The ones that leave you feeling great because of the encouraging words they share with you or that you just get each other. The interactions and conversations that leave you inspired that you ARE in fact on the right path.

And then just like that, a tiny accident leaves you scared of finances, scared that you are about to get beaten up because of the bully who just jumped out of his car and started screaming at you, or thoughts of anger pop into my head.

It is amazing what happens during a trial like this, but also how much perspective you gain.

I am grateful that we do in fact have an emergency fund for this very purpose. I am thankful we planned ahead and have good insurance coverage on our vehicles. I am thankful we have a second vehicle that we can drive before my car gets fixed. I am thankful I work from home so I don’t have to stress about the fact that the earliest appointment to get my car fixed isn’t until next week. I am thankful that when I called Conner he not only reassured me that everything is okay, but I showed up at home and he had a tall ice water poured for me waiting with a snack of fruit. Love him and how he loves me.

I am confident that everything happens for a reason but even more so confident that we do not go through this life alone. I am confident, just like Job’s story, that we do not go through life alone and the main reason trials happen in life are so that we will cling even harder to God. I am so thankful for my relationship with Him and how it continues to grow and expand.

Just like marriage, my faith is not the same it was on day one when I said “I Do”. “I Do” follow Jesus looked a lot different at age 13 than it does at age 26. “I Do” in marriage looks a lot different 2 ½ years later. So much has changed, so many things have grown my love and faith. I am so thankful for how we change and grow. Proof that you can’t hold judgment against people for wrongful things they did in the past. We all mess up. We all change. But the good news is there IS grace and every day we must choose to apply it.

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Working from home – everyone’s dream, right?

As of February 2014, Mandy and I both work from home. We are super lucky to have enough room in the Fox Den to each have our own offices, but this creates some unique challenges in our marriage. No matter how much we love each other and love to spend time together, spending every moment of every day together can drive anyone a bit nutty. We sat down when she transitioned to her new job to layout our plan for how our new routine would work.

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1) Work happens in offices
Our first decision was to be sure that each of us actually utilized the space that we have in our house. In order to create boundaries, we decided that we would keep work within our offices. At the end of the day, we could close the door and return to our personal lives. One of the biggest frustrations that I hear from other people who work at home is how easy it is to never really stop working. It’s so easy (and tempting, honestly) to bring your laptop with you wherever you are in the house. It has been really important to us that we set up boundaries in our own minds that the office is a place for work and the rest of the house is a place for life.

2) Take advantage of the freedom of mobile working
We are very lucky to be able to work from anywhere that there is an internet connection. In order to protect each of our sanity and peace in our marriage, we alternate working from coffee shops or restaurants with free wi-fi. Now this doesn’t happen every day – definitely not enough room in our budget for that much Starbucks! Probably about one or two days a week though you can find one of us working from somewhere other than the Fox Den. We both find that we are more productive when there is less of a chance for distraction and that being outside of our normal work environment gives us a creative and motivational boost.

3) Just because we work together, doesn’t mean we have to eat lunch together
During the first week of sharing our workplace, I would wake up and ask Mandy what she wanted for breakfast. Around 11:30 I would walk over to her office and ask her what she was craving for lunch. My natural inclination was that we would eat our meals together every day. Even before we got married, we decided that our family would eat dinner together around the table every night that it was possible. I just kind of assumed that the same would hold true for breakfast and lunch. I’m happy to admit now that I was wrong. I love to have lunch with Mandy, but with as jam-packed as our schedules are it ended up causing more stress to expect to share every meal. We still make breakfasts and lunches happen sometimes, but neither of us puts pressure on the other to sync up more than we realistically can.

The great Mike Sohn shared a quote with me a while ago that I really love.

“Don’t let work get in the way of life”

Our identities are not wrapped up in our jobs. We both love what we do and give it 110%, but we understand that work is a way of supporting our life and not the other way around. Our identity is in Christ and setting boundaries around work has been the single biggest decision in successfully sharing our home workplace.

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