Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Baby Shower 101

I love baby showers.

In my pre-baby life, I was a wedding planner but I used to joke with Matt that if I could just plan baby showers for a living, I would! Not sure there's enough of a market for that so here I sit waiting for another friend/sister to announce they're pregnant so I can give them a shower. 

I have given two baby showers in the last two weeks so while all the details are fresh in my mind, I thought I'd share a few tips and ideas of how to throw a thoughtful and beautiful baby shower. 

The most important thing to keep in mind when planning a baby shower is mom's taste. I know that sounds weird, but really, that baby is still snug inside that belly and hasn't a clue what color scheme you've chosen for her (or his!) shower. So choose things that you think momma would like. I think sometimes people feel pressured to have tons of baby-themed items everywhere for a shower but I say pass. Try to create a space with your decor that celebrates what makes this mom special. Is she eclectic? Whimsical? Funky? Sweet? Just go with what she loves and don't worry if it's not all baby booties and butterflies. Choose baby-ish stuff to use very selectively and it'll pack even more punch than an explosion of babies r us.

As far as decor goes, I love incorporating cute paper straws, fresh flowers, sparkly banners (for a girl) or bunting (for a boy). Depending on the time of day and what kind of food you're serving, I think it's a cute idea to incorporate some of momma's favorite pregnancy cravings. It's fun to work your menu around her favorite snacks! And let's be honest, when you're with child, it's all about that food.

I know some people love them some shower games but I am just not a fan. Most of the games I've seen in the past seem more like tools of humiliation than actual fun so I have no tips there. What I like to do in place of games is to have a beautiful keepsake book that all your guests write a blessing for baby in. One of my dear friends did this for me at my shower with Reese and we still love looking thru her book and reading what everyone said to her. Even if you don't do a book signing, try to take some time to think about incorporating something memorable and tangible that momma can take away from her time there. 

My favorite way to end a shower is to have a time of prayer and advice for the new mom. There are so many things I wish someone would have told me before I had my first baby and this is a great opportunity to pass along some wisdom to this new mom who has no clue what she's getting herself into. If you're afraid not enough people will share, you can always ask her mom/mother in law/grandmothers ahead of time if they could be thinking about a little piece of advice they would share. It just makes things more personal when you allow your guests to share about their experience in motherhood.

Hope this helps some of you first time baby shower planners! I hope to have a post soon on some of my favorite themes for baby showers but we will start here.

Happy planning!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Dear Girls

If you're new to my blog, let me introduce you to my two beautiful girls.

Reese will be three in August and Rowen will be one in July. They are every bit as spunky and sweet as little girls should be. I love them to the moon.

Having five sisters myself, I know some of the challenges that girls face so I decided I'd start documenting some of the things I want my girls to know.

This first one is all about bullies.

The only thing that scares me more than my girls being bullied is my girls being that ones the bully others. So you'd better believe we are going to be talking about what to watch for and how to handle bullies. Goodness knows they're out there.

Dear Girls,

Words are really powerful. You can hurt people with your words or you can help people with your words. You may not be able to control how other people treat you but you can always control how you treat others.

Choose to be kind.

Even when people aren't kind back, choose to do it anyway. People will begin to appreciate your kindness and be drawn to it. Sometimes we think it'll make us feel better about ourselves if we point out the yucky things in other people, but that never works. It's a good idea to only talk about someone in a way that you would if they were sitting right in front of you. If you wouldn't say it with them sitting right there, don't say it at all.

I hope you'll have the courage to stick up for yourself if someone is unkind to you. I hope you'll have the courage to stick up for other people, too. You need to recognize that the people who are mean to others are almost always that way because they don't like something about themselves. Remember that a bully is someone who finds people they think are weak and choose to be cruel to them. Watch out for those people and be careful about spending time with them. But if you must spend time with them, remember that

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1

But also remember that sometimes the biggest bully you might ever come across could be in your own head. It will tell you that you aren't smart enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, and on and on and on. You must remember that in the same way you should talk kind to others, you have to talk kind to yourself. If you look in the mirror and don't like what you see, focus on what you see that you do like. If you're going to make a habit out of looking for the best in others, it just makes sense that you'd do that for yourself, too!

So be kind. To others and to yourself.

I love you both so much!



"Let no unkind words come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up."

Ephesians 4:29

Friday, May 29, 2015

Being a YES mom

If you follow our little fam on instagram, you probably couldn't miss the fact that we took our first little vacation as a family of four. We had so. much. fun.

One the way down to the beach on Mother's Day afternoon, I told Matt that I wanted this to be a week of YES. I wanted to say yes as much as possible. We are pretty disciplined people on the reg and that means a lot of no-nonsense parenting. Being strict isn't a bad thing but I was beginning to feel that maybe we were using an iron fist where a gentle nudge could have worked just fine.

I always feel like the beach helps me to regain a sense of balance. It's like I find my center there. If I feel like I've been swaying too far from one extreme to another, it just seems like everything evens out.

This week was no exception. We said YES so much that we started recognizing things that really were necessary to say NO to. Funny how it happened. We relaxed but we didn't feel like we were being permissive.

We also found we started to enjoy this parenting thing a lot more. Don't get me wrong, we've always liked being parents. Though goodness knows it has it's moments. But we didn't take ourselves so seriously. We just enjoyed Reese for who she was. She wanted to play on the wooden train longer? Well, we didn't have anywhere to be that night. What could it hurt? So many times we are in such a hurry to get to the next destination, we miss out on the journey with our kids. Sounds very Hallmark channel, I know, but it's true. Lingering a little longer was so sweet. We slowed ourselves down and let ourselves operate on her time frame for a few minutes.

I know what you're thinking... "give kids an inch and they'll turn into little dictators bossing their parents around and ruling the roost!" But the craziest thing was that saying YES actually made our NO carry even more weight to her little ears. Once we said it was time to go, she was much more willing to GO. And as we allowed her to have a little more freedom to just be two years old in all it's craziness, we saw that it didn't hurt anything.

I read once that you have to recognize the difference between childish irresponsibility and willful disobedience. Striving to set an environment where she has more freedom to be who she is kept us from having unrealistic expectations for her. For instance, if she wants to walk up the back steps by herself every day instead of walking up the front steps with us, she can do it. When she first asked, my initial response was "No, you need to walk with mommy" but then I thought about it further and realized "OH! Another opportunity for YES!" So up the back stairs she went. Maybe that was our biggest takeaway. Keep your eyes open for chances to just say YES.

Since we've gotten home we've returned to a lot of our daily disciplines but the difference now is that we are looking for opportunities to say yes. And it's been so fun. I highly recommend it! After all, like every grandma tells me in Target, "These little years go by in a blink! Enjoy it!"

So let's enjoy this, Mommas. Let's say YES as much as we can. Let's be YES Moms. Let's look for opportunities to say YES to our kids so that our NO carries more weight.

Happy Weekend to YOU!!!!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Memory Verse Monday - Week 3

Hi, friends!

So excited about this awesome verse this week and I promise we will post a video tomorrow so you can see the hand motions. I think having little cues helps a LOT with remembering these verses week after week.

"Let no unkind words come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up."

Ephesians 4:29

This one is pretty self-explanatory and if your kids are anything like mine, you won't have any trouble finding opportune times to teach about speaking kind words. Some translations use the word "wholesome" instead of kind but we decided on kind since that's the word we already talk about on a daily basis. 

Hope y'all have a great week!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Memory Verse Monday - Week 2

Hey y'all!

I hope you had a fun with your littles learning last week's verse. We will be working on ours from the beach this week!

Here's our verse:

"Be strong and take heart all you who hope in the Lord." Psalm 31:24

The motions we do along with this one are to show your muscles, hands on your heart, point out, then point up. You can probably see where each motion will take place in the verse.

One of the things we have found to be helpful in memorizing scripture is leaving reminders of the verse around the house and in the car. These can be really simple note cards so don't try to make them too fancy. Just get them up!

Another thing that's helped us be consistent with talking about our verses is always saying them the same times during the day. We do ours in the morning and at night. We like to go thru all the verses before bed time so it takes a while but it's so worth it.

Hope you have a great week!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Memory Verse Monday!

Hi, friends!

I am so so so so SO excited to be starting this new series here on the ol' bloggity blog. We have been working with Reese on memorizing scripture each week for about six months now and Matt and I have been blown away by how much she can soak in! But it really just makes sense...

Why do our kids have the ability to recognize and recite the theme song of every Disney channel Jr. show? Two words. Consistent. Repetition. Add in a little enthusiasm for actually wanting to know the words and voila!

But these words that we are teaching them are so much more than words. Their are hundreds of places in God's word that talk about the power of scripture, but this is my favorite:

"So is my word that goes out from my mouth; it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire." Isaiah 55:11

I don't know about you but I'm all about God accomplishing what He desires in the lives of my children. So I'm sold out and on a mission to teach them to know and meditate on His word.

Since we started this venture a few months ago, I have had a few moms ask me how to do it and where to start. The Bible has lots of great stuff to say but I have been feeling the Lord leading us to very specific types of scripture to begin with.

We are focusing on verses that contain premises, promises, and premises WITH promises. That's a tongue twister but here's an example:

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

This verse contains a premise followed by a promise.

Most of the verses will be aimed at specific behaviors that we are already trying to teach our children to walk in, but many of the verses will be about who God is and what He says about our children. 

I'm a firm believer that community support makes SO many things better. It's my dream that this series will take the guess work out of teaching your kids the word and will give you the direction you need to begin a new chapter in the life of your family.

Here we go! Our verse for the week of 5/4/15 is

"My delight is in the law of the Lord and on His law I meditate day and night." Psalm 1 :2

Short Devotion Guide: What does it mean to delight in something? Remember back to Christmas morning? What was your very favorite toy you got? Did it make you really happy? Delight is another word for "happy". When we delight in something. it means we are just sooooooo excited about it. Now the next part of this verse says something about the law of the Lord. That's just a fancy way to say our Bible! We want to know what's in our Bible so we can get excited about it! God says so many wonderful things especially for us so that's why all day long we want to think about His word. Being reminded of how special we are to God will help us to have the right attitude about whatever is going on around us. 

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for your words! Help me to delight in them and think about them day and night. I love you!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Eating Soup for Lunch... and other ways I'm teaching food it's not the boss of me

It's not fun admitting that I've struggled with food choices in my life. I have a desire to be healthy and fit but I also just really love to eat. I love the whole experience that surrounds food. Not to mention, the food itself.

But the most powerful thing I learned while doing the Whole 30 is the idea that food is fuel for your body. I have always known this to be true but creating habits that reflect this mindset is a different story. It's so important that I'm putting the best fuel in my body so I can be a good steward of this "earthly tent" I'm occupying (were you even ready for that super deep spiritual reference?).

So today as I was eating soup for lunch, all I kept thinking about was how I wished I wasn't eating soup.

I'm ok with soup. Sometimes I love it. Especially if it's cold and rainy outside and I'm snuggled up under a blanket drinking it from a great big mug. There I go with the experience thing again. I'm telling you, it's no joke!

Today was sunny and beautiful outside. A little warm and SO not a soup day. But out of all the options in the fridge, it was the best one.

So now that I'm looking back and lunch has been had, I'm realizing the power of being disciplined in the moment. Don't get me wrong, I'm not always disciplined in the moment. Last night I had an almond flour muffin at 10 pm just because it was there.

I've still got a ways to go.

But I'm just constantly amazed at how much little choices we make on a daily, almost hourly, basis make the difference in the long run.

So if you're eating soup for lunch or any other food that's not causing you to salivate and lose your mind over it's utter deliciousness, I'm with ya!

One step at a time I'm teaching food who is in charge. So take that number five from chick fil a with a sweet tea and a side of sauce... also known as "What I kind of wish I was eating for lunch".

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Family Date Night Ideas

I feel like Reese is just now finally to the age where she can get excited about things that we plan as a family, which is super exciting for me and Matt!

We love hanging out just the four of us and keeping this time protected, intentional, and special is what it's all about.

I know it's easy to go through your day to day existence and feel like you get in a rut so I thought I'd share some of our family date ideas with you!

 *Family Picnic*
This can just as easily be done in the backyard as it can at an actual picnic spot. Don't over think it. Just take your dinner outside and eat it there. Invest in a picnic blanket (we use my quilt from my college dorm) and have it handy. Something about changing up your dinner location is just fun. Stay at home mommas, do this with your littles during the day. They will think it's the coolest thing ever.

*Ice Cream Social*
We just got the most uhhhhhh-mazing kitchen appliance from Costco! It's called the Yo-nanna. It basically turns any frozen fruit into soft serve ice cream. If you don't have something like that, let your kids pick a favorite topping that they get from the store and add it to vanilla ice cream or yogurt after supper. Let them be as creative as they want to be. Make a mess. Laugh at their combo ideas. Just let it be fun.

*Family Game Night*
Our kids are too little to play board games but we do like to play other games we make up for them. I can still remember as a kid asking my dad every single night if we could play hide and seek. He was a good sport because I think we played it a lot. Find something your kids like and offer to play it with them.

These are not groundbreaking ideas. They're just a jumping off point. But the goal in all of this is for we as the parents to get our kids hyped up and excited about the ideas we have. If we show them that we are pumped about it, more than likely they will be, too! Unless you have a teenager. I got nothin for you there. Even if it's just one night out of the week that you plan to be fun and abnormal, that will be a huge highlight for your kids. You might even end up loving it, too!

After Reese was born, Matt and I started what we called Friday Family Fun Night. Born out of a need that we had to have something at the end of the week to look forward to, our little tradition began, and it's still going strong! There's nothing fancy about what we do. It's literally just going to walk at the park, taking a quick walk thru Trader Joes to test out the samples, and then we go get Moe's to pick up dinner. Since the girls our still little, they go down when we get home and Matt and I watch Wheel of Fortune and Shark Tank while we eat our dinner. I know, we are cool. Reese loves chomping down on chips on the way home and thinks it's just the best thing ever.

I think sometimes because we don't have what we would consider awesome ideas or activities to do with our families, we just let ourselves do nothing. Just start somewhere and be willing to think outside the box. These are the years that our kids will remember for the rest of their lives. I want mine to remember some serious fun!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I See Food Differently

It's Transformation Tuesday, yall.

In honor of everyone's favorite instagram hashtag, second only to the Sunday Selfie (Lord, help us), I decided to share a little about my journey through the Whole 30 challenge. Complete with a horrifying before and after picture that the world of social media just wasn't ready for.

So let's start with WHY I decided to do this challenge. Anyone whose had a baby knows that the further away you get from the newborn stage the less opportunity one has to blame weight on the babe. Most of my weight had come off thanks to good old fashioned nursing, eating kind sorta clean-ish, and exercising whenever it was convenient. But I still had a very pesky ten lbs hanging on and I was just over it. I knew exactly what I needed to do and it didn't include working out more so I could eat whatever. I had to clean up my eating.

Thankfully one of my sisters wanted to do the challenge with me. I would highly recommend doing this with a buddy. It's just nice to have some support in case you need someone to talk you down from what we affectionately termed a "food cliff". So we started at the beginning of March and it was the worst. Only eating fruit, vegetables, meat, nuts, and some seeds doesn't sound horrible but it kind of was when we first started.

I love food. So much. But one of the things I learned through this process is that I really love the experience that goes along with the food almost as much as the food itself. And it wasn't til about half way thru the challenge that I had a huge breakthrough...

Food is a part of the experience but it is not the experience.

I could still go out on a date with Matt, to lunch with my sister, to a Bachelor finale party, etc. without having to feel like I was missing out. Just because I was eating something different, didn't mean I had to miss the whole experience. This was big.

Another pretty crazy breakthrough was how much I actually genuinely enjoyed eating this way. I felt like I had gotten to the point that I felt a bit of torture every time I had to make a food choice. That's a lot of torture if you consider 21 meals a week (plus snacks and dessert) AND beverage choices. For instance, a typical look inside my mind on a date night with my husband used to sound something like this...

"Ok, I had chick fil a for lunch so I for sure need to get a salad. Yep, a sal-- oh shoot they have honey bbq dipping sauce that goes with those fries? Ok I'll get grilled chicken with the fries on the side. But I'll definitely get water. Water is a good choiiiiiiiiiii aw dang their sweet tea comes in a mason jar? That's so cute and southern. I love being cute and Southern. Ok I'll get the salad and a sweet tea. Maybe Matt will get fries so I can steal his."

So most of my choices ended up being more about the lesser of two evils than the best fuel I can get into my body. Now the goal is to get to the point where the largest percentage of my eating is taking up with what I call "utility meals". Basically the best I can eat at the time. Then when a special occasion comes up during the week and I want to indulge a little without derailing, I call that the "meal of choice". Bye bye guessing game.

It's ok if you're thinking "she's nuts." I do feel a little nuts but I really like it. The parameters don't make me feel trapped, they give me freedom. It's kind of like having a budget. Some people think budgets are restricting but they actually just keep you accountable, which gives you more freedom in the long run.

The way I break it down is this: 3 meals a day for 7 days is a total of 21 meals. If I have one meal as a "meal of choice" and the rest as "utility meals" then I'm still eating over 95% clean. Two meals of choice and I'm still around 90%.

This is the first time in a really long time that I haven't felt burdened by the thought of making wise food choices. I've lived too long being afraid of missing out on fun experiences but also afraid of weight gain. I am sooooo loving being free of that. How ironic that the most disciplined I've ever been in my eating is also the most free I've ever been.

The other amazing thing about this way of eating is how full I feel after meals. I am still nursing (a lot) so I was very conscious of my milk supply and wanting to make sure it didn't suffer. But even after cutting out the grains, dairy, and sugar I actually felt my supply was better.

I can't report that I lost a ridiculous amount of weight (I think at this point I'm only at 7 lbs lost) but the way I feel and the way my mindset has changed has been worth it.

It sounds super duper cliche but I feel like a different person than I did when I started. It was not an easy thing to do but I'm so glad I did it!

Here's a picture to show me on Day 1, Day 21, and day 40-ish.


If you're interested at all in learning more about the Whole 30 Challenge, check out the book "It Starts with Food". Most of the recipes I used are on my pinterest if you need ideas!

Thanks for reading and I hope you feel encouraged about how you can enjoy food more and enjoy more food.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Teaching your kids the word

Let's get real.

As moms, we feel a lot of pressure when it comes to what we are intentionally teaching our kids...

They need less screen time and more outside time. Not too much outside time though. You don't want them turning into hooligans. And they might need some screen time because in this electronic day and age, eventually they'll have to learn how to navigate an i-pad. I don't know much about street cred in the preschool realm (or anywhere else for that matter) but I do know that at least being able to turn on a device will give the illusion that their mom is chill and let's them fall asleep every night watching re-runs of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Speaking of pressure, how about that pressure in the educational department?

Maybe it's just me, but I feel like as soon as I start feeling good about what my two year old knows, I have a kid in nursery at church that's saying their ABC's backwards and writing their name in French.

This pressure turns all of us some of us into pretty aggressive teachers. We don't want our kid being the one that goes off to preschool not knowing how to hold a pair of scissors.

Can I be real for a minute? I do want my babies to know basics and to build and expand on those basics. But my heart for my babies above all else is not that they'd know how to recite letters and numbers...

I want them to know God's word.

But even more than that, I want them to love God's word.

Deuteronomy 6:6 says "These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."

This verse hit me like a ton of bricks.

A few very sobering changes were going to have to take place in our home if we were to apply this verse and make it a part of our daily reality.

First, before I can impress the commandments on my children, they are to be on my heart. I can't impress what is not already impressed on me. So as parents and leaders of our home, we started getting after memorizing God's word. Then step two started coming into play...

We started impressing them on our children. Webster's dictionary defines "Impress" as a verb that means "to affect deeply or strongly in mind or feelings; influence in opinion." God's word has lots and lots of promises but one of my favorites is that when it goes out, it don't come back empty. It always holds it's value.

It is not time wasted to teach our children the precious truths that will be their guide, their hope, their peace, and their security. These are their promises-- letters written to them and for them. It is our honor and our duty to be impressing them on them.

But beyond just memorizing and being able to recite, we have to talk about them consistently... "when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.'

If we're memorizing a certain scripture, we talk about how we can apply it, what it means, what it means to me, and what it can mean to her. We also have certain times of day that we talk about God's word. Night time before bed, in the morning when we're getting ready, and in the car. When we're in the car is one of our best times because it's one of the only times she's contained (moms of toddlers, can I get an amen?).

I know what you're thinking... I can barely keep my kids fed much less teach them to be mini rabbis.

Taking the advice in the last part of this verse has probably made the biggest difference in our family. We didn't exactly write the word on our door frames, but we did hang them on our walls, write them on our chalkboards, and play them in the songs we listen to.

I have a short attention span. Add sleep deprivation to my already lacking ability to focus and you've got  a cocktail of crazy. I must be reminded constantly to keep the word on my tongue. Having it in our home is the perfect way to do that.

I don't have time to not be intentional with my babies. I know it sounds intense to say that the world is after our kids... but it's true. The enemy is literally looking for people to devour. What could be more valuable to our children's futures than to give them what they will need to stand firm against the enemy.

So get after it. mommas.

Start speaking the word over your littlest as they nurse in the night. Don't think your two year old is too young to learn the word. If mine can recite every word to Shake It Off, she can for sure learn the fruits of the spirit.

I can tell you from recent experience that there is nothing more precious than hearing the word of God coming out of the mouths of your children. What an honor that we get to be the ones to place it there.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dear Laura

Dear Laura,

Look at you. So full of optimistic hope as to what a wonderful experience is ahead of you. You;ve barely even given birth yet and you already know sooooo much about how to raise children. You're so smart. You should teach mom lessons.

I know you're probably surprised to hear from me since you've got such a handle on all this stuff. But I did want to offer you a bit of perspective. You know, from hind site. So here it is...

Stop saying things you're "never" going to do.

Stop it right now.

Already you've said things like...

"I'll never have ugly toys in my house. Only wooden Melissa and Doug."

"I'll never let me child sleep in my room past eight weeks."

"I'll never let my child behave that way in public. Why can't parents control their kids?"

To your shock, all of these things will happen. All of them will be outside your control. And all of them will have absolutely no reflection of how good or bad of a mom you are. Might I suggest you begin giving yourself a not so gentle smack in the face every time you're tempted to say the word "never" in any capacity.

Pain now. Gain Later.

You'll thank me for this.

And real talk? The giant jungle-themed exercauser in your kitchen is going to straight save you during dinner prep. Your kids will sleep in your room til at least six months. And you might find yourself dragging a kicking and screaming two year old out of the toy aisle of Tuesday Morning while you're sweating from head to toe.

Shall we continue?

Stop being critical of other moms. I don't care what they do. I don't care who you think you are. You'll eat your words and drink your thoughts and they do not taste yummy. You might even feel the need to stop every mom you see in the Target diaper aisle, lay on their shoulder, and through your ugly cries say "I didn't know how hard this was? I'm sorry I didn't think this was hard before. Forgive me, please?!"

That's no way to make friends.

Stop worrying about sleep schedules, milestones, and percentiles. Yes, I know everyone asks how much your kid sleeps.

But here's a fun secret: They don't actually care.

Any friend on facebook who talks about how proud they are of so and so because they sleep all the time needs to be blocked immediately. Don't go all the way to the ultimate dis of "unfriending". You can be friends again once you realize how little you actually care how much your kids sleep. But until then, more than likely, you will read their boast post in the middle of the night while you're nodding off, infant attached to you. You might just look at your sweet baby and say something stupid like "Why can't you sleep like so and so?" Guess what? They will sleep. Then they'll go through stages of not sleeping. And back again. Then before you know it, they're 15 and you can't make them stop sleeping.

Percentiles. Bless them. You will feel the temptation to put a great deal of weight in these.


As long as your babe is eating, growing, and sleeping (sometimes) you are fine. Chill out. Smile and nod when your friends brag about their kid having a head in the 90th percentile. Resist the urge of asking why that matters and just celebrate with them and their giant baby. Yours is little, yes. But take it from me, when she's two, she'll be asking for thirds on chicken pot pie and wearing a whole year size bigger leggings. And it still won't matter because all that does matter is that she's eating, growing, and sleeping (sometimes).

Finally we have milestones. These suckers are kind of like the SAT's during your junior year of high school. People will ask, again, because they don't know what else to ask. But while it seems like the most important thing in the world at the time. Pretty soon, it won't matter. You might have a (very) late walker. But she will walk... eventually. This is one of your first shiny new opportunities to not base the value of your kid on their actions. The same friend whose kid slept thru the night at eight weeks will also have the kid that's rolling over and dividing fractions at three months. See? I told you that blocking was a good idea. Again, celebrate with them and praise GOD that you're kid is right where they are.

Last thing...

Enjoy your baby. Smell her. Touch her, Sing to her. Laugh with her. Play with her. She's going to get big so fast... in spite of what her percentiles say.

Oh, and don't worry about your baby weight. It'll come off... eventually. Chill out and enjoy your job. Some say it's the best in the world. I say it's just going to get better from where you are now.


Laura (two kids and LOTS of sanctification later)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Red Rain Boots

2014 was a hard year.

It was filled with transitions in our family. Some were welcome changes... had a sweet baby, had our first full year as State Farm business owners. A few were not so welcome... lots of up and downs with Matt's health and the financial strain of going from full time employee to full time employER.

The strain hit hard and we did our best to push back. We cut back everything we could in the budget and really only bought stuff we "needed". This meant that Christmas would be a heck of a lot different than it's been in the past.

Matt and I both LOVE gifts. We love giving them to each other and we love getting them from each other. In an effort to be mature (not my strong suit) and to not spend money we didn't have (also not my strong suit), I suggested that we not do gifts. This probably doesn't sound like a big deal to most people. Plenty of couples don't do gifts. But we enjoy it so much, it was a big sacrifice for us to let it go.

Especially me.

But I put on my big girl panties and dealt with it.

I had to reassure Matt about 757 times that I really meant it and this wasn't some trick to make him think I didn't want gifts but I really wanted him to read between the lines and buy me gifts anyway. Not that I've ever done such a thing in the past...

My reassurance gave him the confidence to follow through and we were both going to enjoy the season even if it meant no gifts.

On Christmas Eve morning, which is the time we've always exchanged gifts, Matt and I got up early to exchange stockings. We couldn't cut out everything all at once! The gifts were small but very thoughtful and after we were done we just sat and talked in front of our tree. I couldn't help but feel a little bit disappointed... or a lot a bit. It's Matt's fault. If he weren't so awesome at giving gifts, I wouldn't miss them so much.

We realized time was slipping away and we had to get ready to go to brunch so Matt hopped up and went to the kitchen. He told me to come look at the rain because it was really coming down. When I got into the kitchen, he had opened the door and walked out on the porch. He looked down at a big bag and said "well, what could this be?"

I knew right away that he had cheated.

And I loved him for it.

I took the box inside and tried to keep my cool. But inside I felt like I was going to burst with excitement. The big wrapped box could have had a bag of twizzlers inside and I wouldn't have cared. It was just being able to experience the excitement and anticipation of such a fun surprise that had me all giddy.

I opened it up and saw the beautiful Hunter logo.

Inside that perfectly British box were the most beautiful shiny RED rain boots.

I couldn't help it.

I lost it.

I cried. and cried, and cried and cried and cried.

I wasn't crying over the boots.

Yes, they were beautiful and I had been wanting some for a while now. But these boots represented something so much more. If different seasons bring different weather, this one for us brought storms. As soon as we felt like we were getting a break, the sky seemed to open up and another downpour would begin. We pulled together and made a decision that no matter what, we would choose joy.

There's a saying that goes like this... "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain."

So here we are in a shiny New Year with shiny new boots knowing that rain will come and when it does, we're gonna play in it til it passes.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

You've Got Mail

First of all, what a great movie. Am I right?

I love mail.

One of my favorite things about Christmas time is all the cards we get from families we know and love. There's just something so wonderful about a letter... not an email or a text. A letter.

I don't know what it is about seeing someones hand writing on a page but it just does something to my heart.

And I love sending letters as much as I love receiving them.

So one of my goals for this year is to send at least two notes a week. That might sound like a lot but it's actually been SO fun to start! I've found one key thing has to take place in order for this to happen. So I wanted to share my thoughts on being a consistent and thoughtful note sender... Not sure a "note sender" is an officially recognized title but we're running with i,t mostly because I've got about fifteen solid minutes to take this blog live before my little peeps begin to stir.

Really all you have to do is....

Make it convenient for yourself.

Part of the reason I've been so scattered about sending mail in the past is because it seemed like such a PAIN to gather everything I needed. That sounds super lazy but you feel me, right? Who has stamps sitting around all the time? And who wants to brave the post office with kids in tow?

But y'all.

I got a SYSTEM and I am loving it. I have a note drawer right by my favorite spot in my kitchen. My note drawer has notes (didn't see that one coming, did ya?), a pen I like (because there for sure are pens I don't like), address book, return address stamp, and stamps. That's it. That's all you need.

We all could very easily take five minutes to put together a thoughtful note to a friend or a family member. This year for me is about disconnecting from devices and reconnecting with people in real life. Creating community by encouraging those that God has placed in my path every day.

Thank you for reading and I hope you have the best Thursday ever!


Monday, January 5, 2015

Go, Stay, Sell, Throw Away

My husband, Matt, and I are super compatible. We aren't an example of opposites attracting. We are more like an example of the male and female version of the same person. There are a few areas where we differ tho. Perhaps the most obvious would be our views on "stuff"...

I think of myself as a minimalist.

Matt gets weekly offers to be on the next episode of Hoarders.

Ok. Not really. But if he weren't married to me, it would definitely be a regular on the show.

Most people have a hard time getting rid of stuff. I have a hard time keeping stuff. I started using this quote as I guide for how I view the items in our home and I gotta say I love the direction it's taking us.

We have lived in our home for almost six years now so the amount of stuff we've accumulated is shocking to me. Add two kids to the mix and this minimalist started feeling like the walls were closing in.

So to start the year off right, I committed to clean out and reorganize each area of our home.

I do have rules I follow and I wanted to share them with you. Maybe you have a hard time deciding what to do with all your stuff. Maybe one of your goals this year is to simplify your life. If so, hopefully these ideas will get you off to a good start!

1. Take one room at a time: If you try to tackle your whole house during one afternoon, chances are, you're going to feel overwhelmed. Most of us don't make the best judgement calls when we feel like we're drowning. Just bite off a little at a time. It will all got done eventually but doing a little at a time will give you a feeling of accomplishment as you see complete each room.

2. Give yourself guidelines: The William Morris quote is my mantra this year. Do I think it's beautiful? Keep it. Do I think it's useful? Keep it. If I can't say YES to one or both of those questions, it's gone.

3. Organize: I have four "piles" when I'm cleaning out a space in my home. What's gonna go. What's gonna stay. What's gonna sell. What's gonna throw away. Make a pile of items you want to donate to your local thrift store. Make a pile of items you know you wanna keep. Make a pile of items you think you could actually get some money for. The facebook garage sale sites are awesome for this. Just join your local group, take pictures, post them, and get MONEY. If you know it's too yuck to donate or sell and you know you definitely don't want to keep it, just throw it away. Each time you tackle a new room, take a big ol` black trash bag and fill the sucker up.

4. Commit to the Clean: Once you get each area cleaned up, commit to keep it that way. Figure out what you need to do to make the area function for you. I don't have a junk drawer because I think the whole idea of one is crazy. We have a drawer in our kitchen that has things we need access to on a daily basis. It's got a pen, marker, chalk, chip clips, tape, scissor, paper, batteries, bandaids... that's pretty much it. It's more like an organization station (please make fun of me for this).

Hope this helps you keep your home a happy one!