You Can Stay Home With Your Kids Review



Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This year I have been working on getting my monthly budget ironed out, so I've been looking for more books on how to save money.  I had read halfway through Odom's other book on finances, and then I saw You Can Stay Home With Your Kids for review and snagged it!  

This book is just how it sounds, 100 tips for saving and earning money for the purpose of helping moms stay home with their kids.  If you do everything in this book, will you absolutely be able to stay home with your kids?  I don't know.  But there is a ton of good advice here.

Personally, I especially appreciated Odom's tips on saving money on groceries.  I struggle with our grocery shopping, and this book had a lot of good tips for how to make my grocery money stretch.

I thought some of the suggestions on creating an income stream on the side were a little overly-optimistic.  While lots of moms do quite well with side businesses, suggestions like "create a blog" or "join a direct sales company" don't reflect that it is much more difficult to establish these as money-making businesses than it sounds, and the people who are successful at it often put in a full-time job effort to make them profitable.  Just because she made her blog profitable doesn't mean it would be easy for you to do it.

I also didn't necessarily agree with her assessment of whether to buy or rent a home.  Maybe if you are trying to save money for a season to stay home with your kids, renting could be a good suggestion, but in the end you still have nothing to show for all those payments (unlike when you buy a house).  Odom suggests that maybe the classic view of a house as an investment isn't always a great idea.  She is drawing from her own experience of having an underwater mortgage after the crash in 2008, so I can understand why she would be a little gun-shy after that.  However, I'm not sure her advice to rent is necessarily up-to-date with the current economy, or applicable to every area of the country. But I do agree that it's smart to save up a good-size down payment, and rent until then.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and got some good ideas from it, so I think it's definitely worth the time if you are trying to find more wiggle room in your budget!

The Boy's Room (House Tour Part 5)


Out of the whole house, I think I had the most fun decorating the boys' room!

Before I started, I got inspiration to do a camping/mountains/outdoor/adventure themed room for the boys, and it just so happened, that after I decided to do that, I realized that Target had come out with a line that fit with my vision perfectly!  Can't get better than that.

I painted the walls a Behr color called "Campfire Ash" - a very appropriate name for a room with this theme.  It's a very pale, neutral gray.  The boys' room is one of the only rooms in the house that gets warm light, so the gray actually worked in there without being too cool (I'm not a fan of grays in rooms that already get cool light).

In the pictures below, you might also notice that one side of the boys' bookshelf looks funny - that's because when I was almost done painting this room, I let Wyatt take a nap in there.  There was a can of paint with the lid on, and a brush in there with him.  I honestly didn't even think about it since the can was sealed, but I went in there later to find my little boy covered in paint, paint on the carpet, and paint covering one side of his bookshelf.  I had to scrub to get it looking this good!  We had a lot of paint mishaps during our remodel.  I was not happy at the time, but it's a funny memory now!  Look at how little my babies were in the last pictures!



























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Daring To Hope Review: Mixed Feelings



If you haven't heard of Katie Davis Majors, she is a young missionary who went to Uganda when she was 18, ended up staying and starting a ministry, and adopted 13 girls.  I remember reading her first book way back when I was first married.  I don't remember that much about it, but I remember flying through it and being inspired by Katie's devotion to serving the Lord.  So I obviously wanted to pick up her second book that came out this year.

I had mixed feelings about this one.  There were things I liked, and things I didn't.

Things I Liked

First, let me just say, it took me forever to finish this book because for the first half, nearly every chapter left me in a puddle of tears.  Katie picks up the book by telling of her life in a house with her 13 adopted daughters, and how they came to open up their home to people who were injured, dying, or just trying to get on their feet.  The rest of the book is her story of her own struggle to trust in God's goodness while living and personally witnessing so much suffering under her own roof.  It took a lot of vulnerability for her to discuss her doubts in a book like this, and she always comes back to the right conclusions - that God is sovereign, He is good, and even when people are not healed and there are no happy endings, He is working all of it out for the good of those who love Him, and for His own glory.  I think this book could certainly be encouraging to anyone who is struggling with similar suffering or doubts.  It was inspiring to read Katie's thoughts on this subject.

What I Didn't Love

Throughout this book Katie not only shares stories from her life, but she delves into different Bible accounts and relates them back to her own life, and she almost seems to allegorize the biblical accounts in the process.  I'm just not sure I like that - sometimes it worked, and sometimes it sat wrong.  She takes certain biblical passages that were meant for a certain people group at a certain time, and applies them to herself, so the hermeneutics here are questionable.  It also bothered me that her writing in this book is similar to Voskamp's (who also wrote the foreword) in that it sometimes sacrifices clarity for poetry.

Another thing she does frequently is speak about Jesus as if He were standing next to her, whispering in her ear, and she uses phrases like "I heard God say..." followed by a quote.  I don't like it when Christian authors do this.  1) Even if you are intending to use this in a non-literal sense, when you say you heard God speak...well, it sounds like you are saying you heard Him audibly speak those exact words to you.  I assumed Katie was speaking metaphorically, but I think it's a serious thing to claim to be speaking for God (which is what you are doing when you "quote" Him extra biblically), and I think Christians in general should take this a little more seriously.  2) The thing is, God HAS spoken to us, through Scripture, which should be sufficient for us.  I don't like to see authors putting words in God's mouth.

Finally, there were a few cringe-y moments for me when Katie said things like "In the darkest night, I was having a love affair with Jesus" (pg. 121), "I had all but given up on any notion of romantic love in my life outside of my relationship with Jesus" (pg. 164).  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Jesus is God, the all-powerful Creator and Sustainer of the Universe - JESUS IS NOT YOUR BOYFRIEND.  Yes, we are the COLLECTIVE, figurative bride of Christ, but to reduce His love for us individually to romantic terms is to diminish the greatness of the fact that God Himself chose to love us and die for us.  His love is so much bigger and grander than the "Jesus is my boyfriend" love that Christian women authors often portray.  It's just weird, and I wish Christian women would stop doing it.

There were a couple other little things, but I'll just stop there.

Conclusion

Overall, I liked reading a little more of Katie's story, but her story was definitely buried beneath her own analyzing of biblical accounts and musings on her struggles.  I think reading about her struggles and conclusions could be encouraging for a lot of Christians, so there is value in that.  However, I'd just say to read with your discernment antenna up. This book is mostly grounded in her personal experiences, which like anyone's experiences, are fallible.

Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Girl's Room (House Tour Part 4)


I have to say, I remember having the most fun decorating the kids' rooms a couple years ago.

For the girl's room I was going for a colorful, summery vibe.  I didn't want to stick to any one color scheme, because I have figured out through decorating and re-decorating the nursery over the years, that there is always something in the room that doesn't match the color scheme.

I painted the walls a Behr color called "Mayfair White", which is a pale mint green.  I picked a colorful floral bedspread, and scented with pink, but the beauty of this scheme is that the girls can bring in toys, blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals in pretty much any color and it still looks like it fits in the room.

Obviously these pictures were taken a couple years ago (look how little Clarice and Gwen were!), so what's changed?

Clarice is now in the room too - we found out we were expecting Georgie and moved Clarice upstairs with Gwen sooner than we thought!  Her toddler bed is in the place where the reading nook is in these pictures.  The canopy over the area has been taken down, since it didn't seem like a smart idea to have it hanging above my one year old's bed.  The gallery wall is also not the same in all these pictures since the girls broke a one of the pictures when they were jumping on Gwen's bed (the room is for living in, not just for show, after all).

Funny story (actually, not funny so much as cringeworthy) - when I was painting the girls' room, I took a quick break and left the lid off the can of paint.  A minute later I hear a ruckus coming from the room, and my heart sinks.  I went back in there and the kids had spilled an entire can of paint, all over the carpet.

There was a brief pause, as Derek and I stared in horror, and then the entire thing blew up.  We were both shouting, I hustled the kids out of the room while he grabbed towels to sop up the mess, everyone was crying.  I sat the kids down in front of the TV, and wailed to Derek.  "Now we have to replace the carpet!  That was not in the budget!"  

While the rest of us were freaking out, Derek patiently sopped up the paint.  He worked on it the rest of the night, used up an entire can of carpet cleaner, and he got that stain out.  Honestly, the floor looks like new!  I'm still not sure how he did it, but I was very impressed with his determination.

Did I mention all this happened on Easter?

I'm happy to say we can officially laugh about it now.























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Up The Stairs (House Tour Part 3)



When we were first married, the upstairs of this house was the only part of the house that was finished, but boy, did it look different.

Rough hewn, yellowing wood, which was actually house siding, on the ceiling.

Raggedy carpet from wall to wall.

Old, beat-up wood trim.

The cheapest doors you can buy at the home improvement store.

Dirty white walls.

A bathroom that was not worth noting.

No overhead lighting in the bedrooms.

An old kitchen with white laminate countertops and no dishwasher.

Windows that would barely open, and a sliding glass door that let cold air through in the winter.

But it had a gorgeous wood stove and vaulted ceilings.  The bones were good.

My dad helped us update the kitchen, because that was just necessary.  We lived in one of the upstairs bedrooms until Wyatt was born and we moved downstairs.  I painted the walls, trying to put a bandaid on a house we couldn't afford to fix up yet.  And we just dealt with it, for 8 years.

Finally two years ago, we decided we were staying, we might as well make this place somewhere we would like to live!  Most of the work was concentrated on the upstairs, for obvious reasons.

What did we do?

Ripped out the carpet and put new (fake) wood floors in.

Tore out all the trims and doors, and replaced all of it.

New windows, and a new sliding glass door.

Covered up the ceiling with white planks (which did a ton to brighten it up, let me tell you).

Repainted everything a brighter color.

Remodeled the bathroom.

So basically, we redid everything except the kitchen (which had already been redone) and the wood stove (which really can't be improved upon).

I really wouldn't necessarily recommend doing all the work yourself, which is what we did, because it was a miserable, crazy few months.  But we saved a bunch of money, and it finally looks the way I want it!

A few notes:

You'll notice the couch is green and the chairs are tan in a few photos.  The pictures were taken before I bought new couch covers a year and a half ago.  If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen the new covers.  I'll put a few updated pictures at the end so you can see, but that's why not all the pictures match!

Bathroom not pictured because the lighting is horrible in there and it's terribly hard to take a good picture of it, but trust me, it's nice now.



























So that was what it looked like right after our remodel, but a few months later I got a few new couch covers.  I didn't feel like re-taking all the photos, so here are just a couple more recent shots to give you an idea of how it looks a slightly different now.






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