Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Big Blank Living Room Gets a New Paint Color.

So you know by now that we're neck-deep in another home project. And if you DIDN'T know, you should probably read about all the Lifetime Network-level drama and intrigue here before you go any further, because it's just plain entertaining.

This one has been painfully slow-going. With my last house (and the one before that) I KNEW the look I wanted (1930s cottage charm). It was easy. This one is not, for a couple of reasons.

One, I'm an 'old house' person. And by 'old,' I mean 1930s.... hardwood floors, glass doorknobs, high ceilings, crown molding (this is my last house, here). An old house is all I ever wanted in life and I don't know what to do with any other style of house. This house is old, but it's just old enough to have metallic wallpaper and flat doors straight out of the 1970s, and things out of the 70s are just old enough to be a dowdy old eyesore.

And I should know, because I'm straight out of the 70s and both this house and I face an uphill battle turning our dowdy old eyesore selves into something Pinterest-worthy. It's a battle I fight daily on both fronts.

But I digress. 

The second reason this house has been hard to decorate is that I'm married to a husband, and he has ideas about where the couch should go. He also happens to be a 'new house' person (some pics of his last house, here). 'New house' people go pick out a room full of brand new matchy furniture and ALL the decor straight out of the home decor store at the mall, and he doesn't get that I prefer my home decor to come from other people's curbs or maybe somebody's grandmother's estate sale. And I'm just trying to go for win-win, people. Just trying to create some synergy out of the chaos. 

Seriously, in 2010 I got rid of 2/3 of everything I owned and started over, and because I'm kind and generous of heart I 
tossed out Michael's unacceptable things for him ("oh, your ex wife bought that? buh bye..." *backs up the Goodwill truck*). I want our house to be OURS, with none of that baggage. So here we are.... in a big house that's basically a blank slate. 

Technically, it's a 'floor-to-ceiling metallic wallpaper' slate, but whatever...

It took me months to narrow down the paint choice for this room. I tend to lean toward dark and cozy rooms; Michael wants our house all lit up with humming flourescent lights like a gas station.

We compromised (win-win, remember), and narrowed it down to pale gray. And if you didn't know, gray is HARD, y'all. I know this because I once chose a gray for our bedroom (it looked SO perfect in the store) that turned out blueish, like the color of a dead body. It's an awful, horrible mistake that I have to live with every day.  

I didn't want to chance going with "corpse blue" again, so I taped up swatches and moved them around and eyeballed them in all different lights for weeks, literally, and in the end chose Crushed Ice by Sherwin-Williams. When I first began to consider colors, this was in my bottom 5 because it looks beige on the card, and I am ANTI beige. It just goes to show you that you MUST try out a sample on your own wall, in your own set of lighting conditions, before you commit. 

And here's a handy tip: Sherwin-Williams sample cards have an LRV number on the back. This shows how much light they reflect back; dark colors reflect less and have a smaller number. 

I do have to agree with Michael that a pale, light-reflecting color is best in this room; 1970s houses have low ceilings and not much natural light, and even on a bright, sunny day, this room is DARK. Crushed Ice has an LRV of 65, which means it reflects back a lot of light, and yet it has JUST ENOUGH color. It was the perfect choice. 

OH. And the ceiling! In my last house, I painted the downstairs ceilings Rainwashed by Sherwin Williams and it was beautiful, but they were two feet higher than the ceilings in this house, so I went with a lighter shade called Window Pane instead. It's only ever-so-slightly pale blue, like, almost white, but still looks really pretty next to the gray walls.

So here we are. The room is painted in a color we BOTH like *queue the Hallelujah Chorus.* 

And at the rate we're going, by sometime in 2016 we might have some things hung on the walls. I'll let you know. For now, here is Phase One... 

We need all the light-reflecting we can get in this room! I love Crushed Ice. Also... do NOT notice the trim that has not been painted yet. That's Phase Two. 

Don't pay attention to this mantel either. This was called "throw some fall decor on the mantel for now." The pumpkin has since found a new home. And what's up with those sticks?
All bright and light. 

A better shot of the color. In Phase Two we decorate the walls. Stand by.

Window Pane on the ceiling... so very subtle that it's almost white. 

You should see my "decorating around your toddler's potty" board on Pinterest. Just kidding. And also, it's terribly obvious this trim is still unpainted. That's coming up in Phase Two. 

The other side of the fireplace (which is painted True White by Sherwin-Williams, btw). The door is yet unpainted. It might end up white. Who knows. 

Metal blinds definitely fall under the 'dowdy old 1970s eyesore' category. Don't worry... they're going away soon. See Phase Two. 

More metal blinds. Oh, so painful. Their days are numbered too. 

FYI,  Sherwin-Williams provided the paint for my project. I <3 affiliate="" also="" and="" are="" clicking="" commission.="" costs="" didn="" even="" exclusively="" font="" i="" if="" in="" links="" may="" nbsp="" nothing="" on="" paint="" post="" receive="" sherwin-williams="" t.="" their="" there="" these="" they="" this="" use="" while="" would="" you="">If you liked this post PLEASE share it with your friends! ~ Melissa Beene Taylor
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Does Plexus Slim Work With Trim Healthy Mama?

I get emails from my blog readers at least weekly asking this question, and the short answer is ABSOLUTELY, IT DOES.

And the other question I get from Trim Healthy Mamas is, "I see you're doing Plexus now. Are you still doing Trim Healthy Mama?" And the answer to that one is a little more complicated. 

Yes, mostly, I am doing THM, and I'm still a die-hard member of the THM fan club. However, my BIGGER goal is to take care of my severely exhausted adrenal glands, so over the last couple of months I have made the decision to adopt a 'Hakuna Matata' approach to EVERY SINGLE THING that isn't an absolute life or death matter, THM included.

And by that I mean I avoid sugar and white flour (mostly), try to stick to one fuel source at a time (mostly), but if it's 3 days before Grocery Shopping Day and my pantry is empty and I'm feeding my family what I have on hand, I'm not sweating whether it's a crossover or if it's been 3 hours since I had an E or an S. Make sense? I'd say I'm 70% Trim Healthy Mama, and that's the best I can do right now.

When you have exhausted adrenal glands, I believe it's best to avoid beating yourself up over ANY diet that causes you even the tiniest amount of stress (not that THM is stressful for most people; but with my adrenal fatigue I have heart palpitations over ANY extra planning or thinking)

THE DAY WILL COME WHEN I WILL BE BACK ON BOARD, TOTALLY. But for now, I'm removing any unnecessary 'having to plan and prepare' from my life. But for YOUR own good, it's best to be all gazelle-intense, as Dave Ramsey would say, about STICKING TO THE TRIM HEALTHY MAMA PLAN. It's GOOD for you. Got that? ;)

Which brings me to one of the reasons Plexus has been so phenomenally wonderful for me.... BECAUSE life destroyed my adrenal glands between the years of 2006 and 2011, weight loss was darn near impossible for me, and yet NOW I KNOW that I can continue to lose weight and keep my blood pressure stable WITHOUT COUNTING ANYTHING OR STRESSING with Plexus Slim. I drink one packet of powder mixed in water once a day, and my blood sugar stays stable, my appetite is reduced, and I don't have out-of-control carb or sugar cravings like I used to have.

And THAT makes Plexus Slim an ideal companion to Trim Healthy Mama, in my humble opinion.

I have a theory that most people who commit wholeheartedly to Trim Healthy Mama, and STILL cannot lose weight, have underlying hormone issues. The THM book isn't really helpful in knowing what to do to fix that, because, of course, hormone problems are beyond the scope of the book. I daresay that MOST people (and again, just my theory) who can't lose weight have thyroid or adrenal gland issues that TOTALLY derail any weight-loss attempts, because blood sugar affects hormones which affect EVERYTHING.


Did I mention blood sugar affects EVERYTHING?

And THIS fact is understood and agreed upon by the book's authors, and kind of the premise behind their eating plan... keep your blood sugar stable, lose weight.

But once you add hormone imbalances into the mix, that's SO much easier said than done, which is why it is INCREDIBLY helpful to have a handy little portable blood-sugar-stabilizer-in-a-packet to come to your rescue.

It's done so much more than help me curb cravings, reduce my appetite, and give me back my pre-adrenal-fatigue massive energy. My hair has stopped falling out (side effect of thyroid problems), I'm sleeping at night (insomnia is related to adrenal gland issues), and it's NO LONGER TORTURE TO AVOID CARBS AND SUGAR.

In fact, I usually don't even WANT excess carbs and sugar. Would you believe me if I told you I can now bake a plate of cookies and have no desire to eat one?? And if you have read my blog for any length of time you KNOW how I used to love me some cookies. 
BEFORE Plexus, when I was strictly doing Trim Healthy Mama alone, it was a massive teeth-gritting struggle for me to avoid carbs and sugar, which made doing so ABSOLUTE TORTURE. 

Come to think of it, I've tried many diets in my lifetime, starting back in college when I THOUGHT I was fat but I wasn't, and lived on SlimFast for 90% of my meals, and every diet craze or fad to come along in the years since.... AND ALL THE DIETS HAVE BEEN ABSOLUTE TORTURE that kept me in a crazy-eyed RAGE like a wild animal the whole time...


Plexus has made it EASY to restrict my carbs and my calories WITHOUT THE TORTURE.

A few other notable things that will impress even the most 'purist' Trim Healthy Mamas:

  1. Plexus Slim is plant-based and sweetened with Stevia.
  2. Plexus Slim is flavored with cherry and pomegranate and colored with beets. 
  3. Plexus Slim contains amazing ingredients alpha-lipoic acid, garcinia cambogia extract, and lo han guo extract.
  4. Plexus Slim gets the seal of approval from my crunchiest,Farm Fresh Tess and Raw Green Colleen friends BECAUSE it is so natural.
  5. And yet, because it is so SIMPLE and CONVENIENT, even Drive Thru Sues can mix up a glass of Plexus Slim once a day, too. 

If YOU would like to see how Plexus Slim could kick your Trim Healthy Mama plan into overdrive, click here to purchase. I recommend the Triplex Combo for the ultimate in health and weight loss, and Block to absorb 48% of the carbs and sugar you eat.

And if you'd like to join my team, get your Plexus products at wholesale and be blessed financially by Plexus like I have? Go to my website here and click 'join,' then choose welcome kit 'I' or 'J.' You will NOT regret it... Plexus is set to be a billion dollar company in 2015, and yet we're still on the ground floor! Let's go to the top together!

If you liked this post PLEASE share it with your friends! And just FYI, this post contains affiliate links. You are in no way obligated to click on the links or purchase through them, and doing so costs you nothing but may pay me a small amount of commission. ~ Melissa Beene Taylor
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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Two-Year-Old in the House.

I can't believe it, but our baby is TWO.

Seriously. How is that possible? I JUST had my first date with Michael, married him and told him he was gonna be a dad that frightening day at Chili's (because I thought he would be SO MAD, I skipped work and made him meet me for lunch so I could get the carnage over with), all within the last two weeks, RIGHT?

So I began her birthday week like I begin ALL my kids' birthday weeks, by sobbing over all their baby pictures and their birth stories (go ahead and read it and lament with me, please; solidarity and all that), over and over again because it's GONE BY TOO STINKING FAST AND I NEED TO HOLD ON TO MY BABIES. Which I will continue to do well after they check me into the nursing home.... yes, I'll be THAT old lady, going on and on with my toothless self from my wheelchair about how I have to go pick up my babies at school...

But enough about me... let's talk about Susannah Joy, our greatest surprise, our family's favorite toy.

She's still on the tiny side, measuring in the 15th percentile, give or take. She's quite the monkey, climbing EVERYTHING. Baby gates cannot contain her. And she's the boy we never had; her favorite toys are balls (ESPECIALLY Michael's volleyball), helicopters and cars, and anything outside. She LOVES, loves, loves 'outside' more than life itself, especially at her grandparents' place with the goats and the oosters and kickens, and every time Michael is outside, she's right there by his side, helping water the garden or stack firewood, and getting muddy from the inside of her ears to the undersides of her fingernails.

So when I try to make her wear a pretty dress and sit still for a picture, there's this:

I just put the big watermark on her face so nobody would turn her into a meme. You have to think of these things these days.

But she calmed down when there were things to look at and play with. And any decent pictures we got of this child were purely by accident. 

She's finally getting some hair... 

Oh, you want to take MY picture? Maybe if you can CATCH ME.

And our photoshoot ended with a muddy dress, muddy feet, and muddy fingernails, so all in all, a good day in Susie's world.

If you liked this post PLEASE share it with your friends! ~ Melissa Beene Taylor
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Brain Tumor Update.

I'm having one of those days, y'all... one of those days when I'm fine one minute, and then I'm collapsing in a puddle of tears because ALL the emotions are going on over here today. WHY I even put on makeup today is beyond me.

For my friends who have been following my blog for a while, you know about the tumor, and for those who don't, my middle daughter, Annie, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2009, just a couple of weeks before her third birthday. That story is here if you want to take a gander, or if you just want the Cliff's Notes version, it was a small tumor, not causing any problems, and taking it out could potentially cause worse problems than leaving it in for the time being. So, we've elected to wait and watch and fast and PRAY like crazy that God would just REMOVE the tumor so that surgery never has to happen.

It can happen. God can do that. I've seen it happen.

Annie had her eighth (I think) MRI yesterday to take a look at what's going on inside her head, and as always, it's a very frightening thing and neither Annie nor I sleep for about a week before. It's not just fear of what we might find out (though that's always very real); it's a very grueling day for all of us, but ESPECIALLY Annie, and I dread just the exhaustion of it all too, and my heart aches that Annie has to endure this.

So many of my friends were praying for us... I was bombarded with emails and texts and Facebook messages, and I'm tearing up again just thinking about how BLESSED we are that so many people from our church, our school, our work, and people we've never even met before care about one little eight-year-old and actually take the time to pray for us and to let me know they were praying.

All of you who made the effort to WRITE SOME WORDS to me over the past two days, I'm putting your names on a list because I NEVER want to forget how grateful I am for you. I am your devoted friend for life, just FYI.

And then I think about how two of the friends who messaged me to tell me they were praying have lost their own daughters to brain tumors, and another one has had an ongoing battle with a brain tumor in her daughter's head for several years now, and the floodgates open and I'm so incredibly humbled because I just don't even KNOW why God would bless ME with the thrilling news we got yesterday... but all I know is that GOD DID. And I don't know how people who have had their lives devastated by the loss of a child to a brain tumor could be so gracious and thoughtful to US, but they were. And I feel just pretty much undeserving of all of these good things. I promise to never let Annie forget that she's healthy and happy BECAUSE GOD gave her that gift, and her life has tremendous value and she should NEVER take it for granted.

We met with a new neurosurgeon yesterday. Annie's previous doc, Dr. Sacco, has moved away, and so we saw Dr. Weprin, and I was impressed with how thorough he was, and just how NICE. He seemed to really care about Annie.

And also... he seemed to be quite baffled that Annie's tumor is measuring SMALLER. "We never see this happen," he repeated. It wasn't new info to me, this lack of faith doctors seem to have about things just healing without medical intervention; I had asked her other doc if it was possible that the tumor might go away on it's own, and he said NO. Tumors only get bigger, he said, from a medical standpoint. And it's not just smaller, it's less dense, and he gave us a really good explanation of that that I would only botch if I tried to repeat. Suffice it to say... the big, scary tumor SEEMS TO BE DISSOLVING (my word, not docs) like a wicked witch who's been doused with a bucket of water.

I have my theories as to why.

There are two very powerful forces that came into play here, and prayer is the first and foremost. I've seen too many of my prayers answered in a supernatural way, too many times. It's real, y'all.

And I'll tell you about the other one tomorrow.

The song that's running through my head today...
Your love is like a waterfall, waterfall
Running wild and free
You hear my heart when I call, when I call
Deep calls to deep
Your love is like a waterfall, waterfall
Raining down on me...

If you liked this post PLEASE share it with your friends! ~ Melissa Beene Taylor
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Yesterday in Florida...

Yesterday was the most incredibly wonderful day of this whole road trip.
The biggest reason why was because it was the most spontaneous non-agenda day of the past week. We've pretty much not had an agenda this whole trip, other than during the Plexus Leaders Retreat where we had several activities mapped out for us, and it's been fun just striking out each day without so much as a hotel reservation. We've been driving until we felt like stopping, and had great luck finding nice 3 or 3 1/2 star hotels at the last minute from the comfort of our car.
But yesterday, even though we didn't really have an official agenda, we sort of did; we were going to wake up and drive halfway home and probably end up in new Orleans and find a place to stay somewhere in the Louisiana. And we decided, at breakfast, that since we were in Destin, we needed to just go to the beach to take a few pictures before we left town.
And then we got out there and it was so completely gorgeous and the weather could NOT have been more perfect and the sand was all white and powdery and we couldn't bring ourselves to leave, so we said "the heck with New Orleans," dragged our swimsuits out of the trunk of the car, and stayed at the beach ALL DAY LONG.
It's going to mean driving ten or eleven hours today to get home by tonight, but that's ok. And it also means that the Caucasian half of this couple is REALLY SUNBURNED today, and that's ok too because I have Plexus Body Cream to take care of that (and on a related note, I hope Susie inherited her dad's part-Indian genetics and pigmentation and not my lack thereof).
It was oh, so worth it.
We probably said, "OH MY GOSH THIS IS SO GREAT," at least 172 times, and made a promise to come back to Destin again next year but DEFINITELY bring the kids. And I. Can't. Wait.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Seven Qualities of a Good Travel Companion.

In case you didn't know, Michael and I have been on vacation the past few days. I had earned a trip to the Plexus Leaders Retreat AND tickets to Disney AND Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, courtesy of my amazing job as a Plexus Ambassador. We decided to make it a road trip to Orlando and back since we'd never taken a vacation together before, and also to stretch our 3-day trip into a whole week of fun and togetherness.

So here we are in the car on our way out of Orlando, and I just had this thought that you can tell a lot about a person by what it's like to travel with them, and also that I've really, really liked traveling with Michael. He's been pretty much fun this entire time, and given me about twelve different memories that I can't stop laughing about. Seriously. Well be driving along in silence, and I can't help it, I'll think about the Peoplemover escalator back at Magic Kingdom (you had to be there) and crack up laughing all over again. After this trip, I LIKE him more than I did before.

And that got me thinking of some other trips I've taken in my life with not-so-pleasant people and the vast difference between the two experiences, and then my mind went to thinking about when my girls grow up and get married and the kind of person I want THEM to take road trips with.

Because --- and I just had this revelation, riding along in the car heading North on I-75 --- the qualities that make someone a good travel companion also make them a good LIFE companion, so lest you think I'm just bragging shamelessly on my husband, there's a purpose in this list... Consider it an open letter to my daughters regarding all the qualities I want them to look for in the person they travel with in life someday. Dear daughters, please choose a guy like this one...

1. He's always, always friendly to everyone. He treats the parking valet like he's the most interesting and important person he's met all day. Waitresses, bellhops, random strangers on the elevator? He smiles and says hi to them all, then always tells them to have a good day when we part ways. From my experience as a waitress during college, I know that MOST people aren't that nice, and NICE words from a NICE person go a long, long way.

2. He always tips well. It goes along with being friendly and respectful to everyone. If someone serves you, show your gratitude. And if they serve you really well, bless them with a handshake and a 'thank you' and a couple of extra dollars. I was a waitress and I know that two extra dollars might not mean much to you, but it does to them after an hours-long shift spent serving cranky, rude, self-centered people. I love good tippers.

3. He always lets other people go first. This just happened... We were pulling out of the Waffle House parking lot, and he let a Tahoe turn in front of him with a wave. So. Nice. He always lets others on or off the elevator first, and on or off the Disney shuttle first. I love people who put others ahead of themselves.

4. And speaking of putting others ahead of themselves, he's let me choose the Pandora station this entire trip. It helps that we agree that 80s music makes the best road trip soundtrack, but still, I appreciate that he made a point of telling me I could choose the music, the a/c temperature, and where to eat breakfast in the mornings, among other things. Of course I try not to demand my own way ALL the time and to usually consider his feelings, but it's just nice to travel with a courteous person who cares about making this a pleasant trip for all involved.

5. He stood up to let older ladies have his seat on the Disney shuttle, every single time. Every. other. man. on every other shuttle SAT THERE and let the grandmothers ride standing up. Not MY husband. And that made me so incredibly proud. And also? I never opened a door this entire trip, or carried a heavy bag. I really love gentlemen with manners; they're so few and far between these days.

6. He's gone out of his way to let me do what I want to do on this trip. There were a couple of silly, frivolous stops I wanted to make (Orient Expressed in New Orleans, for one, and what man wants to go there?) and pictures I wanted to take that involved a detour and much time and walking and effort, and it was silly, really, but I wanted to do it, and he just LET ME without one single complaint or snarky comment. And if there was anything he wanted to do, I happily went along with it (his requests mostly involved roller coasters and steak, so it wasn't too painful) because in this family we treat each other like we want to be treated.

And last but not least,

7. He always wakes up happy. I'll be the first to admit that I do not, especially those mornings after we stayed up well past midnight and then had to get up early the next morning. He ACTED happy and cheerful and pleasant, even when he didn't feel that way, because he knows that moods are contagious. It's something I have to work on, myself, not letting my sleep-deprived grumpiness rub off on everyone around me, but I do so appreciate that HE makes the effort, and I'll try to do better. Thank goodness there's Plexus on those mornings.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to crank up the 80s on Pandora and enjoy the drive.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Honeymoon Road Trip, Day One.

We had the most wonderful day ever yesterday. Everything was perfect, from the weather to the food to finding front row parking places every single place we went, as if we were God's favorite children and He made all the paths straight just for us.

You know, I've always heard that you should always take a vacation with your spouse every year whether you can afford it or not, and after day one of this trip I'd say I wholeheartedly support that idea. We laughed so much all day long. We had a blast stopping everywhere we wanted to stop, and had so much fun taking pictures. Being on this trip together has reminded me how much fun we have together and how we love doing all the same things. We just travel real well together, turns out, and I had no idea since we'd never done this before.

At home we get so caught up in all those children (I think we have three, maybe four? I can't even remember now... Seems like their names all end with '-ie' ... Maggie? Frannie? Bunkie? Bethie? It doesn't matter... They're alive and well, I assume, with their grandparents and that's all that's important right now...) that we don't take the time to do all the things we're doing on this trip like laughing, eating good food in fun places, and wandering around taking pictures.

Not to mention staying in hotels.

A few of my favorite scenes from Natchitoches and Baton Rouge yesterday...

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