house update: DIY pallet wall

HAPPY NEW YEARS EVE! plergs are spending the night in our jammies, blogging, reading, eating crab legs with relatives, and going to bed early,  partying like it’s 1999–naturally.

one of our new years resolutions is to *finally* get our house in order. and yes, i know we have only lived in our house for a month now, but my OCD is killing me. I CAN’T LIVE LIKE THIS! everything has a place, and i just know it’s itching to get to its proper spot.

so in the spirit of getting crap done, pauly decided to undertake one of our larger projects this weekend and put up our pallet wall in the loft! *sidenote: i hence forth promise to post more pictures of our house in 2014*

here’s how we did it! i think it looks pretty sweet and will only get better looking as we finish the room with bookshelves, pictures, throws, and lamps.

three cheers to pauly!

and happy new year everyone! may all of your wildest dreams come true.

so here's how we started: my brother in law hooked us up with some pallets from his office. honestly, don't pay for pallets. so many businesses have them and don't need them... also, we didn't treat or stain any of our boards. we picked pallets of differing coloring to add variety

so here’s how we started: my brother in law hooked us up with some pallets from his office. honestly, don’t pay for pallets. so many businesses have them and don’t need them… also, we didn’t treat or stain any of our boards. we picked pallets of differing coloring to add variety

then pauly used a 'sawzall' saw to take the pallets apart. tip: saw right through the nails. DON'T waste time prying them apart to take the nails out. you can cut right through them and then pound down any sharp edges.

then pauly used a ‘sawzall’ saw to take the pallets apart. tip: saw right through the nails. DON’T waste time prying them apart to take the nails out. you can cut right through them and then pound down any sharp edges.

next, we laid out the pieces to see how we wanted to arrange them on the wall

next, we laid out the pieces to see how we wanted to arrange them on the wall

since we were mounting our tv on this pallet wall, pauly made a cardboard mock-up so we could place it perfectly on the wall space and find what would be the center of the pallet wall

since we were mounting our tv on this pallet wall, pauly made a cardboard mock-up so we could place it perfectly on the wall space and find what would be the center of the pallet wall

after finding the studs, we nailed (with an air nailer) the first two boards, starting in what we figured out would be the center of the pallet wall. this way we could add to the top and bottom and make the wall as big or little as we wanted. tip: USE AN AIR NAILER i can't even being to imagine pounding this puppy up nail by nail.

after finding the studs, we nailed (with an air nailer) the first two boards, starting in what we figured out would be the center of the pallet wall. this way we could add to the top and bottom and make the wall as big or little as we wanted. tip: USE AN AIR NAILER i can’t even being to imagine pounding this puppy up nail by nail.

the finished pallet wall! we wanted to make ours a frame for the tv, so from here pauly drilled holes in the wall and pallet wall to hide the cords for the tv.

the finished pallet wall! we wanted to make ours a frame for the tv, so from here pauly drilled holes in the wall and pallet wall to hide the cords for the tv.

ta-da! i think it turned out so well and i can't wait to add more to the room to finish it up!

ta-da! i think it turned out so well and i can’t wait to add more to the room to finish it up!

 

life changer thursday: rachel’s story

this week’s ‘life changer thursday’ really has my heart. when i contacted rachel and asked if she would like to write here about her time in Africa, i had NO idea how powerful her story would be, and how it would change my perspective so greatly.  after seeing the incredible faces of these children, and reading stories on the HopeChest website, i decided to sponsor a child, and let me tell you, it is incredible! HopeChest has not only changed rachel’s life, and hundreds of orphans in uganda, but my life too. if you are interested in sponsoring a beautiful child, there are links at the bottom of this page to help get you started. please consider sponsoring this year. these kids are so deserving of extra love and support all year long.

rachel’s story

When Leah asked me to write about the kids in Uganda for ‘Life Changer Thursday,’ I immediately thought how immensely these kids have changed my life.  When I think about them my heart beats harder, I get a little teary eyed, and most of all, I want to be with them again. But until day comes, I will share their stories.

From the time I first met God, I have also had this strong urge to get to know people from other cultures.  And when I  met my husband John—the most incredible, loving, handsome man who exists— he knew that I hoped to spend a lot of time in another country at some point, but had no idea where or when that would be.  When one of my friends told me about Children’s HopeChest, and the opportunity to visit Uganda on a yearly basis, John was on board and excited for our family to become part of this new adventure.  Both of us went to Uganda in 2012, and I went again in 2013, both times with a team of people from the states.

I have to say, my initial opinion of missionary groups wasn’t’ great.  There seemed to be a reoccurrence of people who wanted to ‘do good’ for others but, due to lack of experience or information, ended up making little difference or even hurting people more than helping.  Children’s HopeChest, however, had a deeper purpose compared to other organizations I had come across.  Their aim is to build long lasting relationships between two communities–one stateside, such as a church or business, and the other a high orphan population, like an orphanage or village. Building these relationships is meant to allow God to bring change to both groups of people. I honestly didn’t think this was possible, until I went to Uganda.

A soon as I got there and met the people, I kept asking myself, “How is it possible to fee like family when you’ve just met,  and hardly speak the same language!?”  Our teams spent the majority of each trip in two neighboring villages, Bukedea and Ogoloi, with a combined orphan population of over 300 being sponsored through Children’s HopeChest.  Our main focus here was to spend time with the kids and get to know the families.  There were numerous things we did while in each village, but loving on the kids is priority.  I would like to share one of their stories with you:

Thomas lives in Ogoloi with his grandma.  He is HIV positive.  He is incredibly quiet and shy when you meet him, yet latches onto your hand and follows close by you wherever you go, as faithful as a shadow.  During my first trip in August 2012, I went back to my hotel crying for Thomas more than once.  During my time with him, sometimes he would be content enough to stand by my side, smiling every now and then.  At other times, however, he would shake with pain from headaches or stomach aches, crying uncontrollably.  I saw him throw up the little lunch he ate one day, and then later watched a friend remove jiggers (a type of worm with eggs) from his feet.  In addition, his head was covered by a fungus that led him to scratch until he bled.  This boy seemed to have a mountain of hopeless hardships for someone still under ten years old.

The beauty in all this filth was though, was to watch the HopeChest staff in Ogoloi love and care for him and his family.  They visited with his grandma, and helped her however she needed around their home. Discovering that Thomas had not been taking his medicine, the staff made a care plan for him to take his medicine, with food, under their supervision each day.  By the time I saw him again the following August, his head was almost completely healed. The staff reported he had been getting healthier and healthier, and I was able to witness a happy Thomas, actually playing with other kids.

Thomas is one of so many stories that have left me changed.  The way I spend time, money, and how I value people have all been affected by my experiences in Uganda.  However, it is my prayers that have been changed more than anything.  Before my time in Africa, I was relatively satisfied with how things were—in my life and with the world.  Since then, I have a new prayer: ‘Jesus, help us bring Your Kingdom to earth.’  God wants us to partner with Him, as He makes us and others more like Himself.

There are more orphans in Bukedea and Ogoloi who still need sponsors. If you want to be part of these transformations, in both yourself and the kids of Uganda, please visit the links below.  If you have any questions for me, feel free to post on this blog or e-mail me through Leah.

john-and-rachel
ugandakids

self doubt

there are some days when i really don’t know if i will be a good mom. **not fishing for compliments….but if you want to egregiously compliment me in the comments, i mean…that’s okay….** really though, somedays teaching preschool kicks my butt. conflict resolution at every turn, boogers, poop, glitter, and spilled snacks somehow mysteriously find their way onto my clothes, and by the end of the day i don’t care if i ever hear my own name ever again. and it’s in these moments when i think, ‘yikes….this is kinda like motherhood…..dang.  those b&*^@#s are legit! this is hard-freaking-work! i just don’t know if i have what it takes!’ …………aaaaaaand then proceed to drown my anxiety in some form of chocolate-dipped-fudge-covered…anything….

i think i have been pondering these things in my heart (cough:christmas mother reference..) more lately because pauly and i are about to embark on our adoption journey this next year. (i plan to write much more about this when the time comes) for some reason, (probably has something to do with my new nephew), i am really considering how our life will change when we have kids, and how hard day-in-day-out-never-get-a-break parenthood really is. i know we can and will do it and do it well, but man…self doubt…it’s tricky….

so, to all you parents out there in the thick of it, i stand and slow clap in your honor. well done doing 10 times what i do without getting paid! keep up the good work. and remember: you, like me i suppose, are really good at your job…. even on the tough days.

okay off to talk to some more food about this…and then take a nap.

sleepyleah

life changer thursday: evan’s story

today’s installment of ‘life changer thursday’ will come as no surprise to those of you who follow me on facebook and instagram.. today at 12:52pm my very first nephew (and our family’s very first grand baby) was born! (read: AHHHHHHHHHH! AH! AH! AH! YES! AHHHHHHHHH!)

evan thomas was born on this cold cold COLD december day to my ‘little’ sister emma, and her husband dan. baby and mom are doing great, and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect boy. my life has been irrevocably, unconditionally, indescribably, all consumingly, changed. thank. you. Lord.

holding him in my arms for the first time today was the most surreal, wonderful experience ever….and my first thought was oh my gosh! this world is filled with weirdos and perverts! we have to move to an island! no one is allowed to hold him but me! i hate everyone else!  i mean…’man. i love you so much! i can’t believe you are finally here!’

it’s been a long day but i think we will all go to bed and sleep extra soundly tonight, dreaming of our little christmas present….well….at least we will. dan and emma may be in for a longer night…….

so, without further ado, i would like to introduce to you the new love of my life…..my little evan:

evanhat

have you EVER seen anything cuter! no. no you haven’t. it’s like he’s showing us his muscles! our big strong boy!

we love you e-man!!

we love you e-man!!

there aren't words to describe my love. literally. they need to invent new words.

there aren’t words to describe my love. literally. they need to invent new words.

evan loves grandpa stevie! and look at that blonde hair!

evan loves grandpa stevie! and look at that blonde hair!

grandma suzie during ev's first bath! these guys are best buds already.

grandma suzie during ev’s first bath! these guys are best buds already.

the most perfect little family that there ever was.

the most perfect little family that there ever was.

happy birthday to you!

happy birthday to you!

happy birthday, my dear evan!

happy birthday to you!

i love you boy! xoxoxox auntie

a note to my nephew

this last weekend my aunts hosted an absolutely beautiful baby shower for my sissiebear and nephew! it was so fun, so adorable, and the food was SO good. it’s starting to seem real now that the baby is on his way–any day! i can’t wait to finally meet this little guy. so….i thought i would write him a note so he can someday read how excited we were to meet our very first nephew.

dear little man,

when we first heard you were on your way, it’s hard to describe what we felt. we were shocked, and excited, beyond happy, and a little anxious for your arrival. we have prayed and prayed that every step of your journey here would be perfect.

with just a few weeks to go, there are so many things we are wondering:  how big are you? what color are your eyes? who will you look most like? and most importantly, when will you get here??! you are already completely perfect in every way in our book, and we are incredibly thankful for you every single day.

little man, we want you to know how much we already love you. uncle and i have said countless prayers for you, and have laughed and cried thinking of all the fun that we will have with you when you arrive. we dream of the day we can snuggle you up in our arms, give you smooches, and try to make you laugh. you are so so special to us already, and i want you to know how much you are already loved. we already can’t imagine life before you.

 and just remember: you can do anything you want when you’re with us! we will never say ‘no’ to you! :) (just don’t tell mom!)

so stay warm and toasty little man! it’s cold out here!…..but you will discover that soon enough!

we love you forever-ever.

xoxoxxo aunty and uncle

here are some pictures from the baby shower too! yay baby!!!

cousins!

cousins!

lion

my aunties, cousins, and sister, and her mother in law! love these women.

my aunties, cousins, and sister, and her mother in law! love these women.

babybump1

i’m really excited for him to arrive, can you tell??!

*sigh* my little sister is having a baby. i can't believe it! love you so much!

*sigh* my little sister is having a baby. i can’t believe it! love you so much!

how cute is this? mini cinnamon rolls, mini bagels with smoked salmon, mini yogurt parfaits, mini donut holes, mini quiches, mini spinach puffs, mini muffins, zucchini bread, and white chocolate dipped pretzels! yeah. yum.

how cute is this? mini cinnamon rolls, mini bagels with smoked salmon, mini yogurt parfaits, mini donut holes, mini quiches, mini spinach puffs, mini muffins, zucchini bread, and white chocolate dipped pretzels! yeah. yum.

we strung little baby clothes with little clothes pins for window decoration! how adorable!

we strung little baby clothes with little clothes pins for window decoration! how adorable!

understated and adorable fireplace decor.

understated and adorable fireplace decor.

life changer thursday: summer’s story

hello again! here comes another addition to our ‘life changer thursday’ routine! these first three posts have been about health and diet, however, starting next week, we will be branching into the fields of marriage/online dating, missionary work, faith, adoption, and much more!  thank you for all the feedback about these posts! it’s nice to know that people appreciate them :)

so here is summer’s story about taking control of her family’s health. she and her husband cory are the proud parents of ashur and tyson (whom you will see a LOT of on our blog…we love them…a LOT.), they are some of the most intentional, driven, and dedicated people we know. summer has been the single driving motivation and support behind the plerg health turnaround, and she creates most of the yummy recipes featured here. all of that to say, summ really knows what she’s talking about, and has done a ton of research into the world of natural food and medicine. nothing should be taken as a prescription (disclaimer here: we are not doctors…duh.) but the knowledge base of this girl is insane.

summer was nice enough to mention too, if you have any follow up questions for her, please leave them in the comment section of this post or email me directly, and she will respond to those as well.

enjoy! learn! and happy almost weekend!

summer’s story:

First of all, I want to say thank you to Leah for her enormous heart, and her desire to educate others on all things health, relationships, and just plain old life stuff. You are leaving your mark on this world, and for that I thank you.
With that being said…when Leah asked me to write this blog I had no idea it would be so hard…I have written and deleted my opening line to this thing four times now, and I’m kinda irritated with myself for trying to be so formal and “blog savvy” as I write this.  So screw it.  I am going to write as the thoughts sound in my head, and hopefully you all will learn something along the way.
My husband and I have been married for 6 years and have two beautiful boys.  Ashur, our 3 year old, and Tyson, our 2 year old are the reason I am sitting down writing this blog to you today.
Two years ago I had taken Ashur to his one year appointment. It was just a regular old check up, but it actually ended up being a life changing appointment for our family.  I remember very clearly leaving the doctor’s office feeling frustrated, hopeless, and very defeated.  When I had asked her about preventative care for the common sicknesses most kids experience throughout the year she said…and I quote, “these next few years you will be sick more than you ever have, and Ashur will too, and that is just part of the process of kids growing up in this stage of life.”  Well there you have it.  Don’t bother preventing your kids from getting sick because…well…you just can’t.
To make a long story short I simply did not accept that my family was going to be sick all the time during this stage of growing our family.  One thing you need to know about me…I am extremely passionate about food and the effects, both positive and negative, it has on not only us as humans but on the planet as a whole. (I have been a plant based eater for over 5 years now along with my husband.)  What I have found through years of research is that we can, in fact, prevent and even reverse sickness altogether.  To get there initially sounded, quite honestly, like a lot of work…but I would argue, so is taking care of a family that is sick all the time! It all seemed too good to be true, but what I discovered has changed my family’s life.
My oldest son Ashur just turned 3 in September and has never been sick.  Let me say that again….he is 3 and has NEVER BEEN SICK.  He has been exposed to every sickness that goes around, and regularly attends day care at the gym, preschool, nursery at our church and lots and lots of play dates.  Our second son Tyson who will be 2 in January, was hospitalized at 2 months of age with a severe fever and an infection that kept us in the hospital for 4 days.  However at that age sickness like that is not something we could have prevented with diet, as he had not started solid food yet.  Since then he has yet to be sick.  I say all this to give mothers out there hope that through discipline, consistency, and the right tools, we can take control of our families health.
I will give you a few examples of things we have done in our kids’ diet that I believe deserve all the credit to their health.  Number one…eating whole, plant based foods.  Number two…my boys never ever get sugar outside of fruit.  Number three, know what foods and supplements are preventative to specific illnesses and incorporate those into their diet at the appropriate time…for example, during the fall when sicknesses start to emerge I increase the boys vitamin D dosage as well as adding coconut oil to their diet for its antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties (coconut oil is a huge part of their regular, daily diet as well).  When the stomach flu is going around I give them “Braggs”organic apple cider vinegar (it is important that the label reads “with the mother”) to increase their stomach acid therefore enabling them to kill off a virus before they get sick.  We also give our boys a probiotic regularly to build up the good bacteria in their gut, as well as a multi mineral/multivitamin daily.  These are just a few of the things we do, but from my experience they are the “big ones”.  I will quickly add that brand names and the manufacturing companies I listed above matter greatly, so do your research!
Here’s the deal: My kids eat food off the floor in public places, they share sippy cups with friends, and outside of bath times their hands never get washed…my point is…I am not a ‘germaphobe’ or paranoid about my kids getting germs from others…I simply believe that our kids can be exposed to sicknesses and not get sick due to our diet and supplemental support. ( I am not a doctor, and it is important to know and understand what, why, and how much you are giving your children.) But be your own advocate! Trust your instincts as a mother and see where it leads you! This is one path, but I believe there are many ways to end up with the same result.
Honestly, I could keep writing about this topic but I promised Leah I’d keep it brief;)
Good luck and know that I am rooting for you!
Summer

house update: the holidays are upon us!

the holidays are officially upon us here in plergville! we had a wonderful thanksgiving with our families here at our house….despite pauly and i getting what i can only assume was a flu bug of some sort.. but our families are amazing, and a good time was still had by all….i think. :)

sunday was the first night we were both feeling better so we decided to decorate the house for christmas!  i. (insert deep, manish voice) LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE to decorate for christmas. and this being the first christmas in our new house we are/were extra pretty darn excited about it. *cue ‘josh groban holidays’ on pandora, hot cider, and every possible bulb, light, ribbon, and ornament we could find from the move.  here’s what we’ve done so far….and by so far i mean…i have yet to ‘just happen upon’ pier one and see what’s what.

(not great picture quality…this girl is asking for a real camera from santa this year…any suggestions on a good one??)

happy holidays!!

i took a little wreath and filled the center with a hurricane, candle and of course more cranberries! i think it's kinda cute..

i took a little wreath and filled the center with a hurricane, candle and of course more cranberries! i think it’s kinda cute..

it's the year of the 'ball' for our tree this year. i think we counted over 200 on the tree this year..

it’s the year of the ‘ball’ for our tree this year. i think we counted over 200 on the tree this year..

our little stockings.

our little stockings and antique sleigh

i went a little cranberry crazy this year, but i love the pop of color!

i went a little cranberry crazy this year, but i love the pop of color!

my mom picked up this adorable sparkly tree for me at west elm while she was here. sparkles are to christmas as air to life--necessary.

my mom picked up this adorable sparkly tree for me at west elm while she was here. sparkles are to christmas as air to life–necessary.

we are officially adults

it’s finally happened. at 28 and 29 years of age, pauly and i have officially entered adulthood. this year we hosted our very first thanksgiving. we planned out the menu, contacted family on what to bring, bought the turkey, and then, just to keep things really real….we both got the flu.

yep.

Nine people staying at our house, 15 coming for thanksgiving lunch, and that’s when mother nature ( i like to blame her during hard times..) decided to play a cruel joke on the plergs. she’s such a b*&%@.

and so…just like that….all hopes and dreams of feeling like a true adult were out the window and i cried for my mommy… who thankfully was just down the hall, and she, along with my aunts and mother in law took the reigns and made it a great day. thank. you. GOD. for family.

i will never forgot this first thanksgiving in our new house…..for all sorts of reasons….. but we got better quick, and still managed to have an awesome time with everyone. we have so SO much to be thankful for.

i didn’t get too many pictures due to feeling under the weather, but here’s a peek at how it went!

grandma grace and our cousin jillayne. two of my favs.

grandma grace and our cousin jillayne. two of my favs.

finally a kitchen where we all fit!

finally a kitchen where we all fit!

the spread! and this was just the appetizer table!

the spread! and this was just the appetizer table!

friday my cousins, aunt, and i went to macy's 8th floor winter wonderland! it was magical.

friday my cousins, aunt, and i went to macy’s 8th floor winter wonderland! it was magical.

and then we turned all the amazing leftovers into thanksgiving pizza. yeah. it was a good idea.

and then we turned all the amazing leftovers into thanksgiving pizza. yeah. it was a good idea.