homemaking hack: make old shoes look almost new again

I'll let you in on a little secret- I may have collected an embarrassing amount of running shoes over the last seven years as an fitness instructor. I hate the cost of buying them, but I do like to exercise often and jump around a bit, which means I can wear out a nice pair of shoes in a few months. I get so attached to my shoes I actually have a hard time getting rid of my old pairs because they become like old friends. :)  My foot will form them into the perfect shape and slipping into them is the best feeling ever. :)

Once a new pair of shoes finally starts to wear out I will put them on second rotation, to wear when I'm not teaching or inside. These two have been hanging on and regularly worn (first rotation!) for a year and 9 months, respectively:

I'll wear them outside or to kickboxing once and think oh man they're ruined now and then I suddenly remember I can wash them in with my (not-so-PC/natural-now) friend bleach (shhhhhh):

I needed to clean out my washing machine anyway, so I bleached the shoes with towels and other color-fast items. Here's how they turned out after one wash on the blue and two washings on the pink:

Much better than before!!

They're wearable again, anyway. :D These two pair are getting old and have been washed several times so I'm not surprised they didn't come out looking brand new. The first few bleaches were more impressive of course since they weren't as worn. :)

Some tricks I've learned for bleaching your tennis shoes are:

1. Bleach them as soon as they get really dirty. (I didn't do that this time, the pink sat for a few weeks). You can bleach colorful tennis shoes in most cases if they're made from artificial material only (no cotton!).

2. Use the Clorox if possible (I tried the off-brand this time and it wasn't as good). Be SO CAREFUL with it around other laundry- I move everything away and act like the bleach is poison to my skin! I've ruined more than one item with a wayward splash, I promise!

3. Wash them with towels or sheets or other bleachable things that will provide friction/resistance in the washer. 

4. Don't dry them in the dryer- let them air dry, preferably in a window/natural light.

5. After you wash them, take them out and admire your "new" shoes all over again and think just how much they motivate you to do the rest of the laundry from the weekend. (right?? right.)

Ever bleached your tennis shoes? Do you have any tips?? :D

Did you ever buy the white shoe polish back in the old days?
I remember doing it to my Adidas/Nike all white casual tennis shoes in 8th-9th grade! ah, the old days! :D

carried goals, an update + meal plans this week

I have been amazed at how quickly the days are flying by this summer. We got our schedule for Classical Conversations, and our orientations start in about two weeks!! At Rob's request we are taking the rest of the month off until school starts for Elijah on Aug. 17. (The kids are so happy about this! He's a nice dad.)

Now that the temps are so high here I've had to turn up the A/C to enjoy my afternoon cup of joe. ;) I started teaching a early morning bootcamp (5:15 a.m.) so I've been getting up at 4:30 a.m. and on those two afternoons coffee becomes my best friend. :D Even with the early hour, I love, love, love teaching bootcamp style and getting done with my workout before Rob has to work.

My other friend/workout companion is the NOW brand of iron supplement- it's very easy on your stomach:

Now that we're done potty training (!!), I feel like we got something big accomplished this summer! :) It went so well- about day 4 we were ready to give up, but we kept pressing on and he had it by day 7! I think you must have been praying for me. :D

I spent much more time potty training last week so I didn't get nearly as much done otherwise. Rob's been working on a project, and then we've been doing more people-things so these household tasks have been waiting and continue to wait to be done. :) Carrying the same things over feels difficult for my Type A-ish personality, but such is life, right? Big projects require time and patience. :) (I'm reminding myself!!)

// do //
:: household ::
finish one project we are still working on 
add cove molding to wall (Rob)
list one big item for sale online
spray porch ceiling down
wash car
bleach + clean washing machine

:: loving people + kids ::
visit nursing home again (we didn't get to go last week)
take kids to library
have extended family over if possible

:: fitness ::
write 3 new workouts 
teach + exercise 5-6 times
buy more weights

:: marriage ::
pray for Rob
go on a date (or have one at home again!)

:: blog/web/design ::
work on project 1 hour

// read //
daily Bible study
read Ephesians 2x

// learn //
1 Peter 1:1-3 
read + review 2 chapters of CPT cert book with flashcards/ web learning

// be //
I have been wrestling with anxiety and fear (for years now), and I know and praise God that He will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7). He will help me- this is my prayer and thanks! :) This lab was SO encouraging to me today. 


:: breakfasts ::
oatmeal, eggs, cereal, or toast

:: lunches ::
sandwiches, corn dogs, leftovers

:: dinners ::
roast + ramen 
dinner out
beans + rice
eggs + toast

I crossed Monday's dinner off the list because I made that pot roast for maybe the second time in our marriage last night. :D The kids and Rob were all oohing and ahhing, thanks to the Pioneer Woman's recipe and the fact that all Sam's Club had were Angus roasts. :)

Fresh herbs courtesy of my brother's green thumb (a talent which I obviously don't genetically share). :) It was delicious for sure. If the meat didn't cost $4/lb. I might make it every week! :)

What's your favorite pot roast trick? 
Searing it beforehand was new to me but it made it SO good.

Mamas, when do you start back to school? Any ideas to make the most of the last month?

what good week(end)s are made of

Good weeks (and weekends) are made of...




And capes:

I can't imagine happier days of raising kiddos than these. :D

from intimidated to emboldened

The whole classical education concept is still new to me, so I was more than thrilled when the group we're attending called Classical Conversations hosted a free three-day training (practicum) in our area.

I felt confident and excited about CC and the direction we were going this year... until I walked into that practicum room. As I entered, I realized I didn't recognize a single face from my group (which wasn't terribly odd since I was new). I finally settled down at a table near the front and then glanced around to find lots of other moms grouped together.

I took a closer look to discover that most of these mamas around me had giant rolling coolers. And three-ring binders with dividers. And some had full-size scissors neatly tucked into their binder pockets. They had scissors (!), packed lunches, and cute pens, and I barely threw in a spiral notebook and made it on time. And I didn't even have to bring my kids! I felt the fear welling up in my chest.

Oh no. What am I doing here??

Why did I think I could do this? I'm not a homeschooler. I'm not organized like they are.

Then right on time, our speaker began. Sandy James was her name, and she began with a sentence that silenced the whole room. She told us all there's one thing she needed us to do for her for just the next three days. 

"I need you to believe you are enough."

My eyes instantly filled with tears as she went on. 

"You are more than enough, because God will help you."

She told us with a smile that this homeschooling thing was not our idea- that this was not even the devil's idea for us to homeschool. This was God's idea for us to homeschool.

In Isaiah 54:13, she explained, the promise of God is that "All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children."

One minute into practicum, and my tears couldn't be contained. 

"Peace- do you know where the word peace comes from here?" Shalom- and the word shalom doesn't mean absence of conflict like we think of peace, but really it's more about completeness- an idea that there is "nothing missing, and nothing broken."

The early years, she told us, are hard to see through, but we need to take the long view, she said. The 18+ year view. In the end, when we are done, nothing will be missing and nothing will be broken because God is teaching our children. He is with us at our homeschooling table, helping us, guiding us, because where two or more gather together in His name, He promises to be there in their midst.

Cue the weeping.

Is there anything, anything in the world that my Father doesn't see and meet at just the right moment?? I'm not sure if I did there or not, but I should have been repenting of my lack of faith in those first minutes! What good thing does He EVER withhold from me??

The whole practicum was three wonderful days of sitting under a sweet, older woman anointed by the Holy Spirit. It was a gift, a precious gift from the Lord Himself. I wish every believing, scared-she's-going-to-mess-this-up homeschooling mama could have experienced it with me. :)

A few more ideas she shared have lingered in my thoughts - they are just small pieces, out of the full context, but maybe they will still be a blessing to your heart like they were to mine. I want to remember them all, for at least the next 20 years:
  • "Always start with the end in mind." 
  • "Vision automatically creates discipline."
  • "If you teach your children HOW to learn, they will be able to learn anything."
  • Homeschooling is an 18-year journey, not checkboxes to be completed.
  • "For a time let us cease altogether to read the living men on their dead topics. Let us read only the dead men on their living topics." G.K. Chesterton
  • "The word the Lord speaks has power. All you have to do is obey. You don't have to know how to do it." (ex: walking on water! stretching out a withered hand: He knows your hand is withered!!!)
  • "Listen to the little things, so they will tell you the big things."
And then there was so much encouragement for when they get bigger from now (12+) through the teenage days I have ahead of me (Lord-willing):
  • "The only way to debate well is to learn the other side of the argument."
  • "Shift from the teller to the asker."
  • "Let's stop using insinuation to manipulate our children into obedience."
  • "At this age, let them push, and don't move, but push back with questions."
  • "Let them be wrong- ask them another question."
  • "The questions will be weird, but you're the steady one- you're the hum."
  • "It's okay if they don't agree with you."
  • Stay up late talking with them- that's one of the best times to hear their heart.
  • "Your job is to nurture your children's soul."
  • "Prepare yourself for how you'll react to your kids when they fail, because they will."
Don't you just love her? I so do. Encouraging isn't even a good enough word to describe Mrs. Sandy James. :) After that first morning, and the way the Lord encouraged my heart through her I didn't even dare think of feeling inadequate again. Because He is the one doing this homeschooling thing. Not me. And He reminded me of just how much He has it in less than 60 seconds. 

surely it will be worth it + goals this week

This week feels so much slower than the last. :D I always like starting a week with a vacation day like the 4th, but I'm going to try to keep the energy going and use all five days to work on my goals. :)

We've been doing light to no school for the last week, so we started potty training last Thursday! As you could imagine the past few days have been consumed with all things toilet-related. :D It's been SO long since we did this- even just going places is way more complicated now. :) Remind me it will be worth it in the end?

Here are my do-read-learn-be goals this week:

// do //

:: household ::
finish one project we are still working on 
add cove molding to wall (Rob)
go grocery shopping
list one big item for sale online

:: fitness ::
write 2 new workouts 
work on bootcamp details + send out more info
teach camp/sub classes
exercise 6 times

:: loving people + kids ::
go to event
have friends over
visit nursing home again
march on with potty training
start planning November party: timeline + send out emails

:: marriage ::
pray for Rob
make him special dinner for a date

:: blog/web/design ::
write 1 email
create package

// read //
daily Bible study
listen to the book of Galatians x 2

// learn //
1 Peter 1:1-3 
review 2 chapters of CPT cert book with flashcards/ web learning

// be //
prayerful- my husband is teaching me this by example so much lately. We were both frustrated for some reason the other day, and he said you know what we need to do? I was all ears waiting for a detailed plan of action and he totally surprised me with "we need to pray right now." ahhh. It breaks down walls and barriers. The joy of the Lord is our strength, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom so when we try to figure it out on our own we're completely un-joyful and weak and un-wise!! It's so good to know the Lord, isn't it?

What's on your schedule this week?

Any funny or encouraging or commiserating potty training stories? I'll take anything.
Looking on the bright side: Zane's gone "long" in the potty 1.5 times now! {:x} annnnnd at least he can tell us 5-10 seconds before he goes when we're driving... (!!) Rob also spent 30 minutes in a public restroom yesterday with no results- what a good man, right? :) 

life in just three words

Our life lately, in three words each: :D

1. Projects happening everywhere:


2. First time ever!!

3. Loves some veggies:

4. First Mediterranean-ish meal:

5. Rare solo lunch (!):

6. Early morning classes:

7. Nana brought cupcakes:

8. Weekend dates rock. :)

9. Send in help...

Any weekend words? :D

our new plan for homeschooling next year

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we were going a different direction this year with our homeschooling- it's one we are pretty thrilled with. :)

Rather than another year of BJU Distance (which we've greatly enjoyed and worked well for us), this year we decided to join Classical Conversations instead. Classical Conversations (CC) is a homeschooling co-op/community of sorts, where the parents are the main educators and the children attend a tutoring session with other kids their age one day each week from 9-12 or 3. On the meeting day, the younger kids recite their weekly memory work and give class presentations of their own, as well as do science projects and other activities. From what we've seen of it, by the end of their year they will have learned a ton that will hopefully stay with them as they grow up.

I'm not sure I'm allowed to even say this as a home educator (it will be our little secret), but obtaining knowledge isn't our ultimate goal when it comes to education. ;) In our 18-20ish years with them, we really want to help them learn how to love and obey Jesus with all their heart, and teach them how to use their knowledge, character, and talent to bring glory to Him as adults.

A friend of mine from church attends CC already (she was the reason I found out about it in our area!), and amazingly, the director let us come and sit in class for a day. We all loved it. The mission of CC is "to know God and make Him known." Everything good-all math, science, language, history- all of creation is from Him and that is the premise underlying everything we learn. You can see how a Foundations lesson conceptually points to God here in Isabella's class:

It's a whole new world for me, but I am thrilled with the idea. I will let you know how the actual execution of it all goes in the fall. We're going all in! (pray for me! :D)

Homeschool moms out there- did I explain it well? :D
I wasn't sure if you call CC a co-op or not! :D All this terminology is so new to me. We've never even done a co-op before. :P I'm still learning it all!

Any helpful tips for a new Classical Conversations mama?
I would LOVE them!

feeling in the groove + goals this week

If you were in the US, I hope you were blessed by celebrating your freedom yesterday- I know I was! What a miracle it is- of all the generations of the world we are able to live freely in this time and place and be able to serve the Lord and have peace with our government! It's incredible.

curtains were one of the things we finished last week! :D
So last week was pretty much the busiest week I can remember since we moved. :) From Monday to Monday every day was filled to the brim with events and people (all great!). And amazingly, everything on my huge "do" list was done by Saturday! What?! Isn't God so kind? I am so thankful for His mercy toward me!! :D We had a great time of eating and hosting family and friends this weekend. Lots of fresh food (and chopping!) was involved:

I see my to-do list growing this week (much more self-imposed and for fun!), so I decided to try breaking it down into "do" categories for organization. I have so many new things happening right now that the sheer anticipation makes me smile (p.s. I LOVE this time of feeling back in the groove around 9-11 months postpartum. I know it won't last forever so I'm milking it for all it's worth!)

// do //
:: house ::
finish two projects we are still working on
clean up/straighten garage
add cove molding to wall (Rob)
sweep master bedroom + bath
mop the kitchen, living + dining room

:: fitness ::
find a whiteboard
plan out new workouts
exercise 5-6 times / teach classes
plan 1 month schedule + send out reminders+ invites for new bootcamp
research trainer apps

:: loving people + kids ::
go to nursing home
email 2 people back
have friends over for dinner 
invite 1 new family over
visit library

:: school ::
begin brainstorming next year’s school schedule
start working through new material to see what we can get ahead on (more on that soon, hopefully!)
start list of school supplies we will need + books we're lacking- math, Bible

:: marriage ::
go on a date
write a love email
pray for Rob daily

:: blog/web/design ::
work on print project for myself
create brochure sheet for bootcamp
work on client website/ write email

// read //
John 17 every day (our preacher asked us to this week!)
daily Bible study
Keeping a Quiet Heart (still working on this one!)

// learn //
1 Peter 1:1-2 (this fell off the planet when I left for days last week)
study 2 chapters of CPT cert book

// be //
a listener- more and more I hear the Lord whispering to me to do this, go here, talk to this person. He is showing me that He guides me every step, and that I cannot go wrong when I hear His voice and trust Him. Even the smallest of decisions we are starting to see His hand in, so I know that He is leading us all the time.

How have you seen God work in the little details in your life recently? What would you say His voice sounds like to you?
For me, it's a thought (one that's usually not like me!) which seems to come from nowhere but persists in my head and tugs in my heart. Sometimes- I kid you not :D- I think the Holy Spirit urges me to pick up around the house- and then weird surprise- it was just the right time when I needed it to be. :) Or sometimes I feel Him urging me to go back and talk to this person about the Gospel, and then I can tell they are really hearing what I'm saying and are thinking about it! An unbeliever might hear that and think I'm crazy, but I'm (slowly!) realizing God is with me in every single part of my life, and seeing it makes me want to trust Him more and more with everything I can.

Mamas, do you have a postpartum window when you suddenly get your groove back?
Strangely, mine usually coincides with the baby sleeping through the night. :)

the LipSense winner is...

The randomly chosen winner of the LipSense giveaway is Beka!! Congratulations Beka and be sure to check your email! :D

Roseberry for sure!

avalie turns 7 (not 5!)

This babe's life is flying by. Three different times today I thought my Ava was turning 5, but she's actually turning 7!! My brain refuses to accept the fact that she's actually 7 today.  Wasn't it only yesterday I posted the announcement of her birth?

We made our traditional cinnamon rolls (I literally almost started making a 5!):

We opened presents this morning and her brother brought the giving game to a new level with a live cricket surprise:

She thought it was gross but funny. :D

We kept her biggest birthday surprise a secret all the way there:

We went to see Finding Dory! :)

For dinner tonight, she has requested goulash and a chocolate cake with a red heart:

Oh this precious little girl, what a gift from the Lord. Life just bubbles out of her, and she can giggle for an hour straight: 

My heart aches at how fast she's growing up. Our speaker at the homeschool conference played this video yesterday, and this is everything I'm feeling right now. 

Who knew mama love could be so strong it hurts.