Speaking of our kids dreaming big, Joshua moved to Thailand in October of 2021. He enrolled himself in language school and started learning how to roast coffee. If you know Joshua, you would not be surprised to learn that he is quite good at roasting. Jeremy and I went and visited him in October 2022 and we were amazed at how well he could speak Thai and at the feedback we got on his roasting skills and his ability to carry himself in a foreign land. The latter isn’t too surprising considering this 3rd culture kid grew up in South Africa. Here are some photos from our time with him.
The College JourneyPosted on May 11, 2023
Upon returning from Greece, EG and I landed in NY, Jeremy flew up to meet us, and we drove home, visiting colleges along the way. We’ve always encouraged our kids to dream big. Despite the out-of-state tuition obstacle, we still encouraged Emma Grace to dream big. And that she did. With an interest in nursing, she set her sights on the best nursing schools in the nation. I’m so proud of her for doing that. She got accepted into programs that were quite competitive. I had no idea how hard it is to get into some of these nursing programs. I also had no idea how lifelike these mannequins are that nursing students learn on. The instructors can program them to have certain ailments or to birth a baby. They talk to you like real people. It’s absolutely insane.
Anyway, back to the college journey. I had no idea how difficult it would be. The waiting, the disappointment, the stress, the applying for scholarships and looking at finances. It can be quite intense. The theme along the way became “pivot.” I felt like Ross in Friends when they are trying to bring the couch up the stairs and he keeps yelling out, “PIVOT!” Lots of pivoting and relooking at everything. And then you get to May 1st, college decision day.
The school Emma Grace chose was not at the top of her list. My prayer, though, all along the way was that she would end up right where she was supposed to. In the Fall we take our baby to start her college journey. It’s so very bittersweet.
Traveling On A BudgetPosted on May 4, 2023
Let’s be real. Traveling costs money, sometimes a lot of money. I think a lot of people are confused at how we are able to travel so much. I’ve gotten creative over the years and discovered that it’s possible to go to exotic, fun places on a small budget. I utilize these tips every time including mine and Emma Grace’s excursion to Greece last Summer. We spent 10 days in Greece, seeing 3 of the islands, and only spent $2500 for food, accommodation, flights, excursions, and shopping for 2 people!
- Prioritize what’s important to you. Is it accommodation? Experiences? Food? This will help you focus on where you want to spend your money. Ours is always experiences and food!
- Plan ahead and book early. Flights and accommodation can fill up, especially in peak travel seasons. Booking early can ensure you get the most discounted prices.
- Search for coupon codes before booking. I always do a quick Google search for a coupon code before I hit book. An extra 10% here and there can add up.
- Join air mile programs. This is how I booked our air travel to Greece, by saving up air miles. Just look for how long miles last. For example…Delta’s miles never expire. American Airlines miles last a year and a half past the most recent activity date.
- If you’re responsible with credit cards, use them to pay for your daily expenses. I say this with caution, as this may not be the best fit for everyone. Know yourself and what you can handle. We utilize 2 different kinds of credit cards…one where we get cash back and one where we get air miles. We pay them off every month, so I feel it’s like we’re getting free travel and free money!
- If you’re traveling internationally, definitely use a no international fees credit card. You will get the best exchange rate with a card vs. cash. Just do your research and use one that doesn’t charge international fees!
- Research restaurants before you travel. I like to do this because, 1. It gives me an idea of price, 2. I don’t have to waste time while I’m on my trip trying to find places to eat, and 3. I can get an idea of whether it’s good or not before spending my money there. On our Greece trip, we did one nice restaurant on each island. The rest of the time we pretty much ate gyros!
- Look up per diem rates to help you budget for your trip. Per diem rates can be super helpful to give you an idea of what you might expect to spend, especially if you’re traveling overseas.
In addition to these tips, I utilize programs like Swagbucks where you can get points and cash them in for PayPal cash. You can also get cash back through Swagbucks for shopping at certain retailers (including travel booking sites). When I do this and pay with my credit cards, it’s like a double bonus!
Here’s to your next adventure!
Connecticut House Bedroom RefreshPosted on May 1, 2023
Last month Jeremy and I made a quick one week trip up to our house in Connecticut to refresh the bedrooms in our 1st floor unit. This unit is incredibly easy for me to rent out. Maybe it’s the price. Maybe it’s the coziness of the place. I don’t know, but it’s easy. However, it has needed a refresh for a long time. We did the kitchen and living room last Summer. It was such a huge improvement and looked fantastic afterwards. The only problem was that it highlighted the dinginess of the bedrooms. We didn’t have time to do anything with them last Summer, so when an opportunity came up to do it between renters, I decided it was time!
The carpet was almost 20 years old as was the wall color. I guess I can be thankful they held up for as long as they did! I tend to have an insane goal list so these were only part of the project. Here’s what we tackled…
Scraped popcorn off ceilings
Painted walls, ceiling, and trim
Installed and painted new doors
Installed new carpet (hired that out to Sullivan & Son)
Switched dingy yellowed outlets and light switches for clean white ones
Installed new faux wood blinds
Hung table/lamp sconces on bed headboard
Refreshed with new duvet covers
Installed new light fixtures (hired that out as well)
These were my vision boards that I made before we got there.
I had to make some pivots and adjustments along the way, one of those being ditching the ceiling fans. This house is over a hundred years old, so the electrical is difficult to work with. We had an electrician come out, and although he was perfectly willing to install those ceiling fans, it would have involved cutting the ceiling to install a brace, then mudding and patching and painting. Basically there was no time for all of that, so I had to go a different route. I also ditched the tapestry in the full bedroom. It looked so dingy on the new wall color. My goal was to get rid of dingy, so I didn’t want to bring it back in! Here’s some before and afters…
And the after of the queen bedroom…
Before of the full bedroom…
And the after of the full bedroom…
Just like the kitchen remodel, we worked right up until we had to leave for the airport, but I absolutely love this kind of work and the design elements coming together!
Wall color ~ Benjamin Moore in Moonshine
Trim color ~ Benjamin Moore in Vanilla Milkshake
Queen bedroom wall sconces ~ Amazon
New duvets ~ Amazon
New lighting ~ Lowe’s
Carpet ~ Pebble Path in Berber
Artwork was sourced from various museum’s open source public domain collections
The Art of AngerPosted on April 6, 2023
I had a revelation recently. I realized that anger isn’t a bad emotion. Since I was young, I associated it as being a negative emotion and something to avoid. The problem with avoiding any emotion is that it doesn’t go away. It just grows and festers beneath the surface. Stuffing anger only leads to rage which isn’t good.
Here’s why it’s actually a good emotion. One, it shows you care, and caring is a good thing. Two, it also shows you are passionate about something. Three, it’s an indicator that something is going on inside which presents an opportunity to step back and take a look at what is causing it. Discovering the why can bring a lot of freedom.
We’ve been using a motto around our house recently. “Let me feel this emotion.” Letting ourselves feel anger and any other emotion that comes up is so healthy. Jesus leaned into his anger. We need to lean into ours, too. There is something so very healing and freeing about it.