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» My Travel Essentials (Ethiopia, pt. 2)
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» DIY: Shiplap built-in: The look without the commitment
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» Review: Blake’s Turkey and Beef Pot Pies (and More)
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» New Orleans: Graduation and Vacation
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» Dog Therapy: Why kids and pets belong together
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» Commuting in the 2017 Mazda3 Grand Touring
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» REVIEW: Nashville’s Nutcracker 2016
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» Ethiopia Trip (pt. 1) and The Day of Hope
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» REVIEW: Ring Doorbell and Stick Up Cam
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» Break forth like the dawn: Anxiety vs. Joy

» My Travel Essentials (Ethiopia, pt. 2)

I love the title “World Traveler.” Knowing the globe has been a lifelong dream of mine. And not just the terrain or the scenic views… knowing the people that make up the world. Walking a day with them, being part of their story for just a little while. I can remember laying in bed as a child and dreaming about foreign lands, even pretending to speak other languages. Fulfilling these dreams and desires is a gift that, at times, I can’t believe is mine. My little “World Traveler” title has required me to gather some pretty fun gear over the years. I was able to try a few new products on my last trip that made my travels uniquely comfortable this time around. Here is[…]

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» DIY: Shiplap built-in: The look without the commitment

We are all tuned in to Joanna and her shiplap ways. But honestly, I’m a bit daunted by the idea of doing an entire room in shiplap. We all remember what happened with paneling right? It was cool… until it wasn’t and that stuff isn’t fun or cheap to pull out and replace. So despite Joanna and her charming renovations I’m not convinced we should all shiplap with abandon. That said… I did really want a bit in my house. It fits the style of my home and the decor… which my good friend has described as coastal farmhouse with an international flair. That was really kind of her. Mostly, I have a mix of old things I’ve painted with treasures from my travels to[…]

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» Review: Blake’s Turkey and Beef Pot Pies (and More)

Our kids love pot pies. When we had the opportunity to try out Blake’s, I was excited to find out that they are the healthier alternative to frozen pot pies. When Calvin was out of town recently, it was the perfect time to give these a chance. At $3.99 each (8 oz. personal size), these little dishes are a good backup to stock in the refrigerator to keep you from calling the pizza man. Blake’s Turkey and Beef Pot Pies are made from scratch in small batches, and use only the finest organic and all-natural ingredients. Blake’s Heirloom Family Recipes are made by wonderful people, not machines, and feature hormone-free and antibiotic-free chicken, turkey or beef, garden vegetables, potatoes and a flaky pie crust. .[…]

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» New Orleans: Graduation and Vacation

In December we headed to New Orleans for a long weekend full of good food, good times and a little graduation pit stop for me. If you have followed the blog this year you know that we left New Orleans in 2008 just as I was wrapping up my Masters degree at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Fast forward to 2016 and I finally applied for graduation and finished what I started (you can read the full story here). We absolutely loved living in New Orleans and couldn’t wait to get back and spend some time in the city. As always, it did not disappoint. Being a visitor in a city we used to live in was super fun. We flew down (Southwest points for[…]

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» Dog Therapy: Why kids and pets belong together

It’s New Year’s Eve morning and I’m happily snuggled on the couch with four kids and two dogs. Coffee has been poured, daddy is catching up on sleep and my computer is in hand. Saturday mornings are often blogging mornings for me… but this morning I asked the kids to help me out, to choose today’s topic, and they immediately suggested that we write about the newest member of our family. A 50-pound lab mix from Lifehouse Pet Rescue. Wrigley (you’re welcome Cub’s fans) is approximately 11 months old and all puppy. He needs a lot of attention, training and rope-pulling time. Our 6-pound toy poodle is quite disgruntled by his presence and his persistent sniffing of said poodle’s bottom. They are truly a comical pair. It’s[…]

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» Commuting in the 2017 Mazda3 Grand Touring

I am blessed to work from my home office. Apart from a few weeks in Ethiopia and Uganda here and there you can typically find me working away under a heated blanket on my couch. I love it, but I also miss office life from time to time. That’s why I love getting the chance to spend a week at the America World corporate office in D.C. Not only do I get to spend time with our staff, but I also get to take in the sights of beautiful Washington D.C. On my last trip in I had the chance to give the 2017 Mazda3 Grand Touring a spin… and I’ll tell you… it was hard going back to my Honda Odyssey. 2017 Mazda3 Grand[…]

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» REVIEW: Nashville’s Nutcracker 2016

NashvilleBallet.com Nashville Ballet combined with the Nashville Symphony celebrates the most wonderful time of the year with the ninth season of Nashville’s Nutcracker. This incredible performance has become a family tradition for us, however this year “family” meant some of our closest friends sans boys. With three families represented, we all had our own reasons we needed to be there. What a great way to get swept up into the Christmas spirit. Most of the girls had attended this show at least once before but they still absolutely loved it. Every year they notice something they didn’t catch the year before. We loaded up the van, grabbed a quick lunch, and headed to TPAC’s Jackson Hall. The matinee show is great for young kids as the[…]

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» Ethiopia Trip (pt. 1) and The Day of Hope

As you may know, this has been a busy season for me… leading with an unplanned surgery, my last semester of graduate school, and a trip to Ethiopia with One Orphan. Many people have asked about the trip but it takes a while to process (as it always does) and I’ve already had to leave again for a quick work trip to D.C. Please read the information below about The Day of Hope (today!) followed along with some pictures from my recent trip to Ethiopia taken by photographer Daniel Hobbs. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sure to share more! Today is the day the Day of Hope: America World and One Orphan invites you to join as we continue our mission to care for[…]

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» REVIEW: Ring Doorbell and Stick Up Cam

We live in a “safe” neighborhood but with young children, I wanted more peace of mind. Thanks to Ring and our internet recently being upgraded to faster speeds, we now have a reliable wireless solution instead of the traditional wired option. Once installed, setup for both the Video Doorbell and Stick Up cam are extremely easy as it is with almost all good smart devices these days.

Video Doorbell

Because the Video Doorbell was replacing our existing doorbell, we decided to have the power hardwired. This version also has an internal rechargeable battery so that you don’t have to use electric wiring if you don’t want to.

  • Compatible with all iOS and android Smartphone and tablets
  • Built-in motion sensors detect movement up to 30 ft. allowing you to know what is going on outside of your home
  • 720p HD Camera with 180° Field of View, 30 ft. Motion Detection, and Night Vision
  • Lifetime Purchase Protection: If your Ring Video Doorbell is stolen, we’ll replace it free of charge
  • Bank Grade Encryption
  • -5 to 120°F Operating Temperature

Elliott was excited to jump in and help make the swap. (I have to admit, I hated seeing our original-to-the-house doorbell gone… but I quickly got over it.) Everything you need is included in the box. Ring claims that the installation takes about 5 minutes but ours took a little longer since we had to make our wiring hole significantly larger to allow the new device to sit flush on the wall. Installation took about 20 minutes, you also have to consider that my nine year old was doing a majority of the work here.

If there’s motion or someone rings the doorbell, both Calvin and I get a phone notification. We can jump immediately to the live view and decide whether or not we want to talk to the other person or not. We’ve also taught the kids to use it as an emergency tool since they don’t have their own phones. So far I’ve been able to give instructions to the UPS driver and also turn away solicitors while nobody was home… nicely of course. There have been times that I didn’t get to answer on my phone in time but it was still great to open the app a few minutes later to see who just came by the house.

(photo blurred)

Stick Up Cam

The Stick Up Cam is very similar to the doorbell except it’s designed to be installed anywhere else outside the home (or inside if you prefer). We’ve started with one Stick Up Cam so we decided to put it near our garage door as the kids often will gather and play on the driveway. You can keep the unit plugged in via USB or solely rely on the unit’s rechargeable battery.

The installation was even faster for the Stick Up Cam as we opted not to keep it plugged in. Ring claims that the battery will last up to 8 months, but of course that will vary depending on use and the traffic of the area it is monitoring.

  • Motion detection
  • Night vision
  • Two-way audio
  • Weather resistant for outdoor use
  • Bank grade encryption
  • 80 degree field-of-view

The most practical use I’ve used it for so far is checking on the kids from inside the home to make sure they are being safe and playing nicely. The Stick Up Cam also has two-way audio just like the Doorbell product. Even with our Stick Up cam installed pretty high up on the house, the microphone/speaker have worked really well so far. We even discovered that we had a opossum trying to get dinner from our trash can one night.

Conclusion

Having a few more eyes and ears outside never hurts. Ring makes everything super easy to install and set up on your iPhone. Considering the peace of mind and security that Ring products offer, it’s worth the cost of the equipment. I have found the doorbell to be a little more reliable than the Stick Up cam but I also think it’s because of less movement. When someone rings the doorbell, they normally stand and wait for the owner to open the door. With the Stick Up cam pointed at the driveway, there have been times the recording started a little too slow to catch what triggered it in the first place. You should also plan on adding the cloud video recording option that runs $3 a month or $30 a year (per unit) for unlimited video recording. I’m still hopeful that Ring will give price breaks for multiple units.

Buy on Amazon

Ring website

 

 

 

Disclaimer: The folks at Ring kindly provided us a unit for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

» Break forth like the dawn: Anxiety vs. Joy

I’ve always considered Africa to be female, with her mountainous terrain and lush, green rolling hills juxtaposed with desert expanses. Like a woman she has mastered the art of multi-tasking by sustaining various forms of life and  ground. She is wise and ancient, she holds secrets and gives life. Specifically she gives me life. From a young age she beckoned me and I listened. Year after year I’ve traveled there. I want to say journeyed but in-flight movies and decent food take the journey out of the trip. Mother Africa fills me up, gives me purpose and confirms the ache in my heart when I’ve been away too long. It’s embarrassing, honestly, the way my Western ways are shattered when I visit. I’ve learned so[…]

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