Saturday, July 23, 2011

Back to School Shopping

Even though I am not looking forward to my summer being over, I have to admit that I LOVE all that comes with going back to school (other than the actual going back to school part). I think it comes from when I was growing up. My mom used to always take me back to school clothes shopping! It was one of my favorite things to do. I also used to LOVE (and still do) buying school supplies. My favorite part was putting labels with my name on all my new notebooks and art supplies. I know. I am a nerd, but a very well prepared for back to school nerd.

We started our day getting the girls' hair cuts. We didn't get too much taken off the length, but they both needed a little trim to clean it up a bit. Here is a picture of them right after they got a trim:

After haircuts, we headed to the mall to let the serious shopping begin. Even though the girls are only 6 and 8, they LOVE Abercrombie Kids. I refuse to pay full price for anything in that store so we always head straight to the back where everything is on clearance. We came on a good day because we found summer shirts for $7 and even a couple of fall shirts for $12. Here is a picture of Ava standing in line ready to check out and one of her with her shopping bag:

Elia refused to get her picture taken at the mall in front of everyone. Even though she is almost 9, I guess she is "too cool" to have her mom take her picture!

Finding that perfect 1st day of school outfit can be rather tricky and almost impossible at my house. If it were up to me, I would have them wear smocked dresses and bows on the first day. (Ok, I know Elia may be a little big for that but I still love little girls in smocked dresses and bows. Too cute!)

I was a little concerned about how the day would turn out trying to find that perfect outfit. To my amazement and extreme surprise, a miracle took place at Wolfchase Mall today. Are you ready? Wait for it..........................................!

Elia picked out a skirt to wear on the first day of school!!!

The real kicker is that she is in love with it! I guess the fact that it came from Abercrombie made it "cool". Of course, I had to act like the skirt was just "ok" or Elia would have hated it if she knew I loved it.
Whew! One down, and one to go!

After we left Abercrombie, we headed to the shoe store where both girls picked out brand new shoes. Of course, I won't let them wear them until the 1st day! Once we left the shoe store, we went to Build A Bear where both girls got to pick out a Smurf to build. Elia picked Clumsy and Ava picked Smurfette. Thank goodness we are not too grown up for Build A Bear. (I was able to sneak a picture of Elia when she didn't know.)

After Build A Bear, we headed to Gap Kids which is always a good place to find a compromise on clothes between my girls and me. Ava ended up finding a tank top and a short sleeve cardigan sweater to wear with a skirt she already has at home. She made a great choice that we both liked.

Surprisingly, this shopping day turned out to be a success! You will have to wait for the first day of school post to see their new outfits. Tomorrow we head to Walmart to buy school supplies. Look out label maker, here I come!!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

July Theme Dinner

We have been so busy this summer that I am a little behind on my blog. During the week of the 4th, we celebrated our July theme dinner. This month's theme was obviously "4th of July".

I bought everything we needed for decorations at the Dollar Tree, (I love that place!) and went to work decorating our kitchen in red, white, and blue.

On the menu for July's dinner included :

Hamburgers on the grill
Ice cream sundaes (I found cute ice cream bowls and spoons at the Dollar Store which made the sundaes even more fun!)

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of our yummy sundaes, but I can promise you they were wonderful! Here are a couple pictures of the girls being silly at dinner:

Stay tuned for August's theme dinner next month!!!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The New Patio is Done!!!

Kevin and his dad worked so hard in the scorching sun to give us a nice outdoor living space not to mention all the money they saved by doing it themselves! They poured the concrete to make the patio bigger. Then they got to work on the covering. They left all the decorating to me!

Since we moved into this house 12 years ago, we have never been able to sit outside in the backyard without melting due to lack of shade. Here is a before picture of what our patio used to look like:

And here is the after:

We found the cute zebra rug at Garden Ridge for $60. Not too bad for a rug that adds a lot of spunk to the patio. We bought one of the outdoor loveseats at Target when it was on sale for $120. (The original price was $240.)

We got the 2nd loveseat at Target when it was majorly on sale! We only paid $60 for the 2nd one. I love a good bargain!

I found this glider loveseat at Target when it was also 75% off. I only paid $31 for it. The original price was $124!!! The BIG turquoise pots came from my neighbor for the great price of $20 for the pair.

The black wrought iron rockers were FREE! My grandmother gave these to me when she moved into her assisted living place. I did buy the cushions at Target to make them more comfortable.

I got this great piece from my wonderful neighbor, Carol. It was also FREE! (Actually I gave her a CD holder so she gave me this piece.) I absolutely love it. It has that great weathered look because it is genuinely weathered. It sat outside in her backyard for years which made it perfect!

I found the 4 yellow curtains at Target for the low price of $3.74 each. They are actually shower curtains that were marked down 75% off. They are great because I can untie them and stretch them out to block any early morning or early evening sun. Plus, they add color to the patio.

Here are two pictures of the patio at night. Kevin strung and hammered gazebo lights on the inside top of the covering. These were also found at Target on clearance for $9 a box. The pictures of the patio at night do not do it justice. It is so pretty to sit out there at night with just the gazebo lights on.

Ok, one more time. Here is the before:

And the after:

We have only been finished with our new patio for two nights and we have already enjoyed using it. Even though the days are so hot right now, the nights feel so good. I am looking forward to fall weather when we will be able to sit out there all day. Of course, Kevin is already trying to figure out a way to put a TV out there for Tennessee football games this fall!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Biology is the Least of What Makes Someone Family

We just spent the past week in the beautiful country of Guatemala building houses, stoves, and chicken coops for the people in the village of Pacaya. Of all the villages I have traveled to in Guatemala this was, by far, the most poverty stricken one I have ever seen. Of course, the country itself is so beautiful so one could look past the dirt and see God's incredible creation in so many ways.

If you have ever been on a mission trip, you know how easy it is to bond with one particular family. It is just something that draws you in to them and makes you want to love on them and relate to them in ways no one else ever has before. Well, that happened to me with 2 families this year. Our team built 6 houses while we were there. However, there were families at 2 of these houses that I felt drawn to during the week. The first family consists of a 36 year old mom with 11 kids and one on the way. The entire family was covered in dirt, mud, and flies. They lived in a one room house with only 1 bed which meant the children had to sleep on a dirt floor. It was a mud floor while we were there due to all the rain. Here is a picture of 3 of the children watching us while we worked. They were just precious!

The second family I felt drawn to during the week actually just consisted of one 86 year old man. You could tell this man had lived a hard life, yet he lived in a house made of cornstalk and cardboard walls. His house was so small that only his twin size bed could fit in it. While we were finishing his house, this man told us his wife recently died. You could tell his heart still ached to be with her. Here are some pictures of the man's house and bathroom:

The last day we were in Pacaya was my favorite day of all. It was time for the house dedications! Our group first dedicated the house with the 12 kids. This was VERY emotional. The dad of the family told us how no one cared about them until we came along and built this house for them. The sad thing is that 6 of their kids will move into the new house and the other 6 will stay in the old house with the parents. They are still in terrible living conditions, yet they were so grateful for what we had done for them. I watched the mom as tears ran down her cheeks. There was not a dry eye in the group.

Once we finished all our hugs with the family, we walked down a short path so we could dedicate the old man's house. He wanted to tell us his whole life story through the interpreter of course. He told us how, years ago, he and his wife had found 2 abandoned baby girls. They took these girls in to raise as their own. One of the girls died. He did not tell us how but went on to tell us that he worked hard in the fields to pay for the other daughter to go to school and give her a good life. Then he went on to tell us how the girls' birthdad came back and found her and wanted her to go with him. The old man said he was embarrassed and ashamed because of his poor living conditions. He was worried she would not love him anymore and she would choose to leave this poverty stricken village and move on to a better life.

I asked our interpreter to please ask him where this girl is now. We had to know how this story ended. At this point, with our entire group hanging on to every word, the old man looked just past us and pointed. We all turned around to see the mom with 12 kids standing there. It hit us like a ton of bricks. This was the daughter he worked so hard to raise. It also hit us that she chose to stay in the village with her "real dad" who raised her. The mom walked forward and told us how this man was her father and she loved him very much. Of course, we were all literally sobbing!

The point is that it does not matter how much money you have or how hard you have to work to get the things you have. It also does not matter if you physically came from the ones you love. Family is the most important thing!!!!