Dugouts and Diapers

Jessica Starr Nichols

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A New Year, A New Project

Since we moved in this house nearly three years ago, we have constantly had a project. Thankfully, most of the major projects are complete, and those that remain on the “to-do list” do not require us to rearrange our lives in order to complete. 

  On the weekends and even some during the week, we spend the majority of our time in our backyard. Whether we are laughing with friends around the firepit, grilling delicious food with family, or just watching the boys play, we are enjoying every minute spent outside. One thing we were missing was an outdoor television for watching sports or a movie. My precious parents bought us a new 60″ SmartTV for Christmas, and we knew immediately that we wanted to put our old tv outside. My brilliant husband devised a plan to remove one of the windows in our laundry room and build the tv cabinet around the current window frame. He’s truly brilliant!  
 Once we removed the window, he cut a piece of plywood to the size of the window frame and braced it from the back with pieces of a 2×4.He placed a smaller piece of plywood in the center of the window to attach the wall-mount for the television. We painted it all black so that it will disappear into the black of the television. 

 He then built the actual tv cabinet using 2×4’s, right angle brackets, and screws. We allowed an extra 3-4″ on each side for proper air flow when the television is on. As you can tell, we had to remove our vinyl siding to do this project, but it doesn’t take but just a few minutes to hang it right back up when the project is complete. When the framework was complete, we painted the frame black and ran all of the cables from the attic to the outdoor space.  

 For the door of the tv cabinet, I wanted it to be more of a piece of artwork than simply a piece of solid black plywood. I spent roughly two hours painting the door of the cabinet, but it really is so inviting, and most importantly, so us! 

 Once the door was complete, the only thing left to do was hang the television, hook up the cables and Bluetooth surround sound, hang the cabinet door, and check for power. Of course, it worked beautifully! Since we didn’t want to take the tv in and out every time we wanted to use it, we put a lock on the closure of the cabinet so it is right ready to use each time we go outside. 

 We are all so excited about the completion of this project, and we can’t wait to have our first gathering next weekend as we host our church’s youth group and college kids for a Super Bowl fellowship. We find enjoyment in all of our renovation projects, but this one just might be our favorite! 

Come back next week as I fill you in on one more thing that I’m obsessed with this year! Ladies, it’s a good one, so don’t miss it! Have a great week everyone!



Keep Dreaming 

Did you follow your dreams? Do you even have a dream? Do you think you’re too old to pursue your dreams? Do you think you’re too poor to follow your dreams? Have you even ever had a longing to pursue or to be something so badly that you’ve said either to yourself or out loud, “That’s my dream __________.” The blank could be filled in with nouns such as: job, home, car, man, woman, vacation, etc… Being able to see that dream come to fruition truly makes you feel like “a real somebody.” 

  Ever since the movie Coat of Many Colors aired on NBC, I’ve been completely obsessed with Dolly Parton. I want to meet her and talk to her! Now to many of my friends, it has seemed really strange, but she and I have a lot in common, and I admire her so much for being so incredibly real, clearly I’m referring to what’s on the inside. HA! If you haven’t seen the movie, you should make it a priority, and here’s a little free advice…grab some Kleenex! 
 My mom always  buys each one of us a book as one of our Christmas presents, and she always writes the sweetest note on the inside cover. This year, she asked me what kind of book I wanted, and I told her a book written by Dolly Parton. Well, she bought me Dream More, and it was so fabulous that I read it in one day!  

 God used this book and Dolly to show me that it’s ok to have dreams. It’s ok to be a goal-oriented person. It’s ok to be so in love with your dreams that you’re not going to let anything or anyone stop you, make you feel silly or strange for believing that they will come true! 

 I’ve always been a goal-oriented person. Heck, if I weren’t, Banks and I would have been better off to have lied down in a ditch and die. I set goals on a daily basis, and I absolutely cannot lay my head down until they’re accomplished. Some say that makes me OCD. I say, I’m focused. I come from a long line of hard workers, and I agree with Dolly, I would rather wear out than rust out. At least when you wear out, you have something to show for it. You will never reach your goals or dreams by just sitting and waiting on something to happen. Light a fire under your tail and work for it!  

 Now you can’t work for the prize without energy. I’ve been criticized by people for being too goal-oriented and for never sitting down. Now I know…they’re just unhappy people. I work from the time my feet hit the floor in the morning until I go to bed at night. I’ve always been that way. The things I’m busy doing most people would despise, but it makes me happy to keep a clean home for my manclan, and it makes me happy to cook for others, and I’m thrilled to pieces to drive to work 3-4 days every week! Why, because I’m being a blessing to those I love, and my dream has always been to be a wife, mother, and caretaker.

 With goal-reaching comes failures. Just like Dolly, thank God for them! You can’t learn and become better without failures. When I fail, I give myself the worst beat down you’ve ever seen. I can’t stand to disappoint anyone, even if it’s just myself. I always replay things in my head to figure out what I could have done differently, and when the situation arises again, and it will, I do my very best to never make the same mistake twice. Friend, don’t beat yourself up, thank God for your failure, change, and keep pressing on toward your dream! 

 While I can’t write a blog long enough to go over everything I highlighted in this book, I hope this little paragraph that Dolly wrote means as much to you as it did to me. Follow your dreams! Don’t give up! Be kind to EVERYONE, even when they don’t deserve it. They’re probably just unhappy with themselves. Pray God will send them some energy to get up and chase their own dreams. In doing these things, you will be a better you than you ever dreamed you could be. You’ll be “a real somebody.”

Thanks to my wonderful mother for buying me this book and for believing in this little blogging dream of mine. Thank you to both of my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents for instilling in me a strong work ethic. Thank you to my amazing husband for being my dream man and fulfilling my dream of by making me your wife. Thank you to my Banks and my Weston for fulfilling my dream by being your mother. Thank you, Dolly, for sharing your stories and being such an inspiration to me, and most importantly, thank you, God, for allowing me to fail daily and learn from my failures and for making me just the way I am!

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New Year, New Dreams

Happy New Year to all my readers!!!! I hope 2016 has had as joyful a beginning for you all as it has for my manclan and me.

  Banks returned home from a trip to North Carolina with our church youth group on New Year’s Eve. Although they weren’t able to snow ski, they had a phenomenal time of bonding with one another and God at Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters . They did get to enjoy white water rafting, paintball, hiking, a bungee swing, a zipline, and many other activities. 
  He got home just in time to the Crimson Tide dominate the Michigan State Spartans! A HUGE ROLL TIDE to that!!!! We are so pumped for the National Championship against Clemson this weekend! As Weston would say, “Roll Tide Baby!” 
  Following the game, we watched the ball drop in New York City as well as the local Beach Ball Drop at Pier Park in Panama City Beach. I love toasting and smooching with my husband! Every new year with him gets better and better. We didn’t set any resolutions this year, but we are planning and saving for a couple of family vacations. We are taking the boys to Nashville for spring break. When we asked Banks where he wanted to go, he said, “Nashville to the Country Music Hall of Fame.” It also presents an exceptional opportunity to take the boys to Charlotte, Tn as well as Cumberland Furnace, Tn to visit the graves of my Mama Story and my ‘Ol Dad. We also hope to spend some time with my Aunt Sandra while enjoying all that Nashville has to offer. We are also planning a trip for this summer to Washington D.C. Basically, when we reach the end of 2016, we hope to have made some amazing memories with one another.

 New Years Day was spent relaxing at home with a house full of boys…more than the usual 3. Banks had a couple of friends over to spend the night, and they ate two and three plates full of the traditional New Years Meal that I cooked. Our home is always open to company, and having a house full of our friends is always a great way to begin a new year!  

 Banks went back to school yesterday, and baseball tryouts have begun. Baseball season is my favorite season, and I love watching my baby play a sport that he loves! This is Banks’ 9th year playing baseball. It seems like just yesterday that he was playing 4 year old ball, and while the other players were pretending to be helicopters on the field, he was focused and actually catching balls and making plays. He’s amazing!

I pray you all have a great 2016, and I pray that you are able and willing to challenge yourselves to become better humans in some way or another this year.

 Next week I will be giving you a book recommendation, and I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you about this book and its author, whom I’m completely obsessed with! Have an awesome week and ROLL TIDE!