Re Purposed Crib

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Convertible cribs are the best. You can’t beat three beds in one.

Sadly, our daughter is nearing the end of stage three with her crib now functioning as a toddler bed. Her legs are growing and she has less and less space each night to toss and turn. Our plan has been to re-do her bedroom this summer, but I’m not quite sure that she will make it that much longer.

Since the end of the bed is in sight I’ve been searching for ideas to re-purpose the pieces of the crib. I want to find a way to make a keepsake of her first bed which held her tiny body for the first four years of her life.

As I sifted through the wood we’ve already removed from the earlier phases of the crib I found a piece that I decided to take for myself. With a little white paint and a paint brush I was able to turn a crib panel into a decorative piece for my mantle.

I’ve seen some cool ideas online for re-purposing cribs. From shelves to tables there are all sorts of ways to continue using a crib once it has been outgrown.

This piece of furniture is so special to me. It’s a place I trusted to keep my firstborn safe. It was a spot I frequented in the night when the cries of my baby called for me. There are so many sentiments tied to this one piece that I can’t just kick it to the curb.

How have you re-purposed furniture in your house? Do you have experience with cribs?

Please share!

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The Ameri Brit Mom

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The Smoke We Shared

This winter I took part in a writing contest through my online critique group. The prompt for the story was “Two Worlds” and the word limit was 1500 words. This is the story I entered in that contest.

The Smoke We Shared

By Lauren Sisley

The day we buried Archie was gray.

I had only known him for a few months, but I would never forget him.

“Almost there, Connor.” Bridget turned to me as she drove. She tried hard to be motherly during this time. After my own mother was caught with heroin twelve years ago Bridget became the woman assigned by the state to keep watch over me. “It was a lovely ceremony.” She tried to soothe my anxiety as we entered the grounds lined with tombstones.

I had no words with which to draw up a reply. Bridget gave up and continued the short drive to Archie’s plot without a word.

I watched as the hearse parked beside a red tent. I couldn’t take my eyes off of its cab. Something about the fact that Archie’s body was in the back of that car kept my attention.

Out of the row of chairs under the tent only two were occupied. Bridget sat beside me and grasped my hand as the men dressed in tailored suits brought the casket and set it above a six foot hole. The priest took his spot in front of the casket.

“Please join me in reciting the Lord’s Prayer.” He opened. My eyes did not divert from the oak casket as Bridget joined the priest in repeating a prayer. The words were foreign to me.

“Our Father who art in heaven…”

My mind went back to the first day I met Archie.

It was cold and I had just flunked my Algebra exam. I knew that bringing home the test score would mean undergoing house arrest with Bridget again. I was walking home along my usual route trembling from the frigid temperatures. I reached into the pocket of my coat and felt a small paper tube. I took it out of my pocket and lit it.

Three kids from school approached me from behind. I tried to keep my eyes down as they called after me.

“There’s that freak from school!”

“Yeah, that weird kid that doesn’t talk to anyone.”

There wasn’t enough time to run away. Before I knew it they had caught up.

I didn’t put up much of a fight when one of them punched me across the face. My vision went blurry as I was knocked around a bit more.

“What are you kids doing? Get lost!” I heard a voice from the house behind me shouting. “I’m calling the cops. Get off my property!” I took a few more hits to the face and the boys ran. They made off with my coat and cigarettes.

I laid on the pavement for a few more minutes aching from the beating.

“You alright, kid?” The man asked me. He didn’t touch me or try to help me off the ground. I took a closer look at him and saw that he was in rough shape himself. His face was leathery and scarred. His eyes were sad. Several teeth had fallen out.

“Who are you?” I questioned this stranger.

“Nevermind that. Let’s get you inside. We can call your parents in there.” The weak old man attempted to help me off the sidewalk, but in the end I had to muster the strength myself. We used each other’s bodies as crutches as we made our way up the path into his small home.

Entering his home was like stepping back into the 1940s. It smelled of molasses and his living room had wood paneled walls that were barren except for a crooked wedding photo.

“The telephone is in the bedroom. I’ll fetch it. Take a seat on the sofa.” I lowered myself gently onto his old fashioned sofa. The room was dark and there was no television. Instead, an old radio was standing in the corner of the room. From his bedroom down the hall I could hear him coughing loudly. It sounded painful. At the time I didn’t know that it was caused by the cells metastasizing on his lungs.

A few seconds after his cough I saw his silhouette emerge from the bedroom carrying something that resembled a house phone.

“What’s your house number? I’ll dial for you.”

“Bridget won’t be home. You will have to call her at work.” I answered still a little weak.

He returned ten seconds later brandishing a large book with yellow pages.

“Where she work?” He asked adjusting his bifocals on his nose.

“She cleans offices at Barrel and Dumm’s.” I replied noticing that my lip was bleeding.

The man thumbed through the book struggling to read the small print. Just as he located the number he turned and released another loud bark from his throat.

“You okay?” I questioned.

“I’m fine.” He said as though my question was the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard.

“Who am I to ask for?”

“Bridget Morris.”

“Yes, may I please speak to a Ms. Morris?” I let myself relax a little into the sofa as I imagined Bridget’s reaction to these recent events. I listened as he assessed my state to Bridget and imagined she was quite frantic on the other end. The man provided Bridget his address and then hung up. “She’ll be here within the hour.” He assured me as he walked the telephone back to his room.

He returned with a pack of cigarettes and turned on the radio as he took a seat in the recliner beside me.

“Want a light?” He offered, but I turned him down. I wasn’t about to smoke if Bridget was on her way. That would add another month to the grounding. We waited for her arrival without speaking. He read the newspaper and I stretched out on the sofa.

I felt at home in the silence.

The doorbell rang thirty minutes after their call. I know this because I watched the arm of the clock on the wall make half a revolution around the dial as I listened to the grossly outdated music on the radio. The man removed his glasses and folded up his paper before opening the door.

“Can I help you?” He asked roughly.

“Yes, I’m Bridget, I believe you have my foster son.” I could hear the fear in her voice.

“Come in. He’s on the sofa. Not much of a talker that one.” He opened the door and pointed toward me.

“Connor!” She gasped as she saw my face.

“Thank you so much, Sir.” She turned toward the man. “Where’s your coat?” She questioned me.

“They got it.”

“Let’s get you home. You’re freezing.” Before we could leave the man went to a closet in the hallway. He brought out an old coat and offered it to me. I tried to decline, but Bridget thanked him and wrapped it around me as we made our way home.

A week later I was wearing a new coat from the thrift shop and decided I would return the old man’s coat on my way home from school. I rang the doorbell and could hear coughing and cursing from within his house.

“Can I help you?” He acted as though he had never met me before.

“Yes, Sir. You let me borrow your coat last week. I just wanted to return it and say thank you.” I stood freezing as we spoke in the doorway.

“Come in.” He ordered. I entered and was met with the familiar smell of molasses. “You don’t look like that same sorry sod was here last week.” He coughed.

“I’m doing much better.” I smiled. He coughed again as he reached into his pocket and brought out a pack of cigarettes.

“Want a light?” He offered the pack to me. This time, I accepted. I reached in and took a paper tube and pulled my own lighter from my pocket. I inhaled and felt myself relax. I took a seat on the sofa where I had laid last week.

“Was that your wife?” I asked motioning my cigarette toward the wedding photo on the wall.

“Ah, yes. Beautiful right until the end.” He took a long puff and let his mind wander back to her. Another loud bark interrupted his memories.

“Are you okay?” I asked again.

He shook his head this time opening up to me about the cancer.

I would stop there six more times over the next two months. Some days he would tell me about his wife or about the war. Other days we would sit in the smoke of silence that we shared.

A few days ago I stood on his porch with my lighter ready. I knocked. No one answered.

“Ambulance left a couple hours ago. Took Archie with ‘em.” An old lady called from across the street. I knew in that moment that he was gone. I turned to walk home and smoked a cigarette in his memory.

“For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.”

I watched as they lowered Archie into the ground.

 

It is unlawful to plagiarize any of the original work from The Ameri Brit Mom. No permission is given to reuse this text or ideas without written consent.

 

The Art and Craft of Christian Fiction (Week 4)

It was tough to wake up today. My bed was warm and my house was cold.

It was one of those days when the moment I sat up I started planning when I was going to catch a nap. This isn’t my typical Saturday morning. Usually I wake up excited about my writing routine and about making some progress toward my goals. I normally wake and make a pot of Highlander Grogg and get right to work. Monday through Friday I’m on someone else’s schedule, but Saturday mornings are mine.

Today was not that day.

I stayed in bed a little longer than usual. I had just enough time to jump in the shower before my daughter’s basketball game. As I teetered on the edge of an illness I found myself losing interest in writing today. I made a promise to myself that I would take some meds, eat some food, and then write. So here I am.

Armed with my drink, a long to-do list, and some home remedies I am reading through two new chapters in The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction by Jeff Gerke.

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Change the Metaphor You Use For Yourself As a Novelist

As a novelist I tell stories. I write and I edit and I put in long hours to create a story that will hopefully resonate with readers. It’s easy to call myself a storyteller, but the issue with comparing myself to someone sitting around a campfire entertaining friends with tall tales is that I don’t tell my stories with the spoken word.

Stories that are told are different. There’s a lot of summarizing and telling vs. showing. You can dwell on certain details that don’t fit well into fiction writing. Telling a ten minute story should look vastly different than a novel. Novelists need to arrange scenes, build suspense, and forge connections between readers and characters. In that sense we are more like movie directors. We set the stage, cast the characters, and decide where the camera is focused. A true novelist creates a movie in the mind of their reader. Writers are not storytellers. We are movie directors.

Should You Write What You Want or What the Market Wants?

This week I attended my first SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) meeting. The question which headlines this chapter of Gerke’s book came up in my small critique group.

If your ultimate goal is to get published shouldn’t you look for what is selling in the market?

The answer is simple, yes; however, yes is only the answer if your ultimate goal is to get published.

That means that the question you should really be asking is: Why do I write novels?

For me, I write because it is a gift that God has given me. I write because there are stories in my heart that God wants me to share. I write because it’s who I am. To be a published author of multiple books is a goal of mine, but I would never want to achieve that at the cost of my why.

I have to believe that the stories God has given me are from Him. I have to believe that if it is His will that I pen these stories that someone will want to publish them. I have to view my writing as a ministry before a business. If it takes years to find someone who publishes my stories so be it. If there is one thing I’ve learned from the writing market it is that the author has very little control over who buys or represents their work. I would drive myself mad writing only to get published. If I’m going to be a writer for the long run I have to do it for me and my ministry. I can’t let my eyes get so focused on publication that the heart behind my work is lost.

This may not fit everyone’s writing journey, but for me this is why I write and why I will not let the writing market dictate my stories.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Five Minute Friday: Control

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Control. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:

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I’m a bit of a control freak.

If you saw my classroom policies and my home routines you would understand. It isn’t cleanliness that gets me excited, but the desire to be organized and to administrate. It can get me into trouble sometimes. I say “yes” when I should probably say “no.” I hold myself to unattainable standards. It’s a weakness that needs dealt with every so often.

When not completing my to-do list ends in a meltdown (like earlier this week when I was too ill to go to work) I have to participate in reflection where I am reminded that being in control of everything is impossible. Perfection is a myth. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches and live spontaneously (something my husband is way better at than I am.)

The drive to control everything is also contrary to my Christian beliefs. When the Bible says things like,”Cast all of your cares upon Him for he cares for you…” (1 Peter 5:7) I struggle to obey. It is my natural response to try to control problems on my own. But according to that verse in clinging to my control I’m showing disbelief that God cares enough about me to sustain me.

It takes an intentional moment of peace before God to surrender control. And then I have to continue to remind myself that it’s been given over to God.

Each and every day I strive to truly cast my cares upon God. I wrestle to give control over to God, but I know that in doing so my load is lightened and the need to control my life gives way to my need to obey.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Dressing and Educating: Day 100!!

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For the past 100 days of my school year I have shared with you outfit ideas for the classroom within a teacher’s budget. In celebration of 100 days down I want to revisit my top 5 outfits so far this year.

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5- Gusta Two Pocket Top by Skies are Blue (Stitch Fix #8)

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4- Elisa Dress by Collective Concepts (Stitch Fix #9)

 

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3-Jahana Cargo Vest by Market & Spruce (Stitch Fix #7)

 

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2- Ilaria Crochet Trim Tunic by Alice Blue (Stitch Fix #8)

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1-Pedrine Keyhole Back Shirt by Renee C (Stitch Fix #6) and Red Toms (Stitch Fix #5)

 

Each of these five outfits was put together with the help of my personal stylists at Stitch Fix.  I started my journey as a Stitch Fix Influencer this fall and I’ve enjoyed the opportunities to spread love for their clothes and company with all of you who read my blog and stop by from time to time. Stitch Fix has updated my wardrobe and helped me to develop my personal style. Because of Stitch Fix, I am both comfortable and professional as I teach my high school English and Honors World History classes.

I’m looking forward to 80 more days of outfit inspiration with the help of Stitch Fix.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

**This post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated for this post.

 

Dressing and Educating: Days 96-99

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Day 96: January 17.2017

After a long weekend of celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day I decided to take a pause in my usual curriculum to honor the man and the movement behind the holiday. In English class today we analyzed the famous “I Have a Dream” speech and my students were asked to write an essay for homework reflecting on society today and whether Dr. King would be proud of the progress we have made. I’m looking forward to reading these essays. For many of my students it was the very first time they studied Dr. King. The class periods were engaged and asked thought provoking questions throughout the lesson.

In Honors World History we talked about the British conquest of India in the 1800s. We studied the Sepoy Rebellion and the general divide between Hindus and Muslims in that country which eventually led to the creation of West Pakistan and East Pakistan (Bangladesh).

Today I wore my navy striped dress from Market & Spruce Spencer Striped Jersey Dress which was part of my Stitch Fix #5.

 

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Day 97: January 18, 2017

It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed getting to talk about China in my Honors World History classes today. I don’t often get to discuss Chinese History so talking about the Opium Wars and Boxer Rebellion was fun for both me and the students. They asked intriguing questions and together we discussed the end of Confuscian order and the Qing Dynasty. This was my final lesson in the Age of Imperialism unit.

In English we finished two chapters in Not a Drop to Drink today. The students had a pop quiz. It went well and I was able to have some data moving forward about their comprehension and analysis of the novel thus far.

Today I wore my Jessika Cowl Neck Poncho by RD Style from Stitch Fix #10, a long tunic from Old Navy and blue slacks also from Old Navy.

 

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Day 98: January 19, 2017

I tried something brand new in my Honors World History class today. It was the end of our unit on imperialism so we had a Risk tournament. Several students who owned the game brought them in and we set up around the room. It was a lot of fun and the students were given opportunities to think critically and strategically while participating in a group game.

It inspired conversations about imperialism and as I circled the classroom I made sure that they were able to articulate ways in which the game related to our curriculum. Leading up to a quiz next week it was a great review activity.

 

My top today is my Illaria Crochet Trip Tunic by Alice Blue from Stitch Fix #8. I paired it with coral leggings.

 

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Day 99: January 20, 2017

In English today my students visited the library to pick out new books for their upcoming reading project. In Honors World History we finished our Risk tournament. As a teacher it was a day of conversing and observing my student population. Between the inauguration and the beautiful weather it was a very eventful Friday.

I wore my striped sweater from Primark in England, a navy vest from Old Navy and Adora Skinny Jeans by Just Black from Stitch Fix #8.

This was a great week as a teacher. I was able to see growth in my English students with a practice AIR test and review the content of my imperialism unit with my Honors World History unit. I am excited for the weeks to come as the curriculum gets more intense in both courses.

Which look was your favorite this week?

 

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

**This post contains affiliate links and I may receive compensation for this post.

One Month of Bullet Journaling

One month ago I purchased a Moleskine notebook and started my 2017 bullet journal.

A bullet journal is a place to plan and organize not only your schedule, but also all of the countless lists that accumulate in your mind. I wanted to be sure that my bullet journal would become a keepsake for the year of the many things I enjoy and the memories I wish to record.

In the past I’ve used pretty planners, but after months of pinning bullet journal pages online I decided to go for it in the new year. I have an obsession with pretty stationary and organization so the concept of bujo (short for bullet journal) was appealing to me. Armed with a blank notebook for the year was intimidating at first so I started with outlining big moments in 2016.

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After my 2016 review, I created my future log for all planning. I included calendars for every month in 2017 and places to jot down events in advance on that calendar. For each week within the month I have a calendar that is for daily tasks and appointments to be tracked.

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Some of my favorite collections so far are:

  • To-Read List
  • “Oh the Places We’ll Go”- a list of travel destinations this year
  • “Take Me to the Movies”- a list of movies we saw in the cinema this year
  • 30 Day Spending Freeze
  • Game Night Stats- a running tally of the games and winners from our weekly game nights at home. (This was part of my new year’s resolutions and it’s been so much fun!)
  • Blog Stats Tracker

 

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One month in and I am already noticing an increase in my productivity. I spend a few minutes every morning planning the day and few minutes before bed reflecting on the day that has just passed. I am really enjoying this practice. It has been healthy for both my mind and my creative soul.

I’m planning to share some of my progress in bullet journaling throughout the year. Which page or collection is your favorite so far?

The Ameri Brit Mom