Monday, November 7, 2016

My Election Day Survival Plan





Friend.  Do you have an ELECTION DAY SURVIVAL PLAN?  Or...E.D.S.P.?

IF NOT,  YOU SHOULD!!!

I remember Ann Lamott wrote one time that after George W. Bush got elected, she stayed in bed for 3 days and cried.

At first, I was like..."Really, Ann? Really?"

And then we hit 2016 and encountered THIS NONSENSE.

In 2012, I remember saying I just wanted a candidate I could be EXCITED about.

Isn't that cute?  I wanted to be EXCITED!!!

NOW...I would just settle for someone who doesn't make me want to lose my lunch.

With that being said...we need a plan for survival, friends.

     Here is the plan.  I think the key is to stay busy here, guys.  BUSY.  BUSY doing anything other than weeping on the couch and watching CNN.

     I'm going to vote early in the day.  If I put it off, I'll just spend every second dreading the whole process.  Next up, we're going to hit the park.  On the way home, we're going to spring for some bagels,  THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH.

I mean...bagels with cream cheese never killed anyone.  AM I RIGHT?

Next up?  A trip to our local Fresh Thyme for some of their gorgeous $5 flowers.  

Necessary.  

     After park + bagels + flowers,  it will probably be time for Ella's nap and my adult responsibilities.  This is where it gets tricky here, guys.  VERY TRICKY.

     Social Media..."What do the polls say?"  Anxiety...couch...blanket... obsessing over ABC News...the temptation is STRONG.

     This is where Rory & Lorelai Gilmore come in.  Hand to heart, you have my word that I'ma watch Gilmore Girls and CLEAN THIS HERE HOUSE because I do not want this place to be a disaster when this election is over and the Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse arrive.

Please.

     After that...who knows.  I need to get a work out in. Something soothing like yoga...or banging my head against the wall over and over and over again.  ;)

I feel like no social media + productivity + an abundance of self-care is really the key to surviving this election.  

Who's with me?

Over the weekend, I went to Kroger and procured supplies.

They are as follows:

One pack of chocolate chip break-n-bake cookies

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel nail polish in Terra- Coppa, thank you very much.

Natural Bliss Creamer (Vanilla)

Decaf K-cups (FOR OBVIOUS REASONS)

I also have a gift certificate for Marco's Pizza that's been burning a hole in my pocket.

One should not be expected to cook dinner as the world is coming to an end.  I mean...

Honorable Mentions include a long, hot shower and my favorite marshmallow candle.

     All joking aside, it really is an honor and a privilege to vote in this country.  Many men (and women, especially) are not afforded the same luxury.  I'm doing the best I can to tie up some loose ends as far as researching candidates and issues before The Big Day.  I just know I'll kind of obsess and pace the floors if I don't have a plan for how I'm going to spend my time.  

     Also, if YOU'RE "really excited" about a candidate, I'm seriously so happy for you and honestly, a little jealous. I just couldn't get there this year.

Ok.  I'll see you on the other side.


Love and extra cream cheese,






Monday, October 31, 2016

All Sorrows' Eve



We are back from trunk-or-treating, and I am getting ready to hunker down with a PSL and some Gilmore Girls on Netflix. Guilt-free cause wrangling a baby toddler into a costume and then trying to photograph said toddler ain't NO JOKE.  

The Lord has told me, on multiple occasions, that users of the internet are now my new "people." Community, if you will. So with that being said, here are my late-night-after-trick-or-treating- thoughts. OH JOY! ;)  


First of all...I am loving LOVING all these sweet, adorable pumpkin-themed pregnancy announcements. April/March 2017. Spring babies. Please. Keep them coming. I'm also super "jelly" over how gorgeous and sweet and scrumptious you all are.


Mamas- you are doing good work. Just hold on. I hope you don't throw up ALL your candy. Maybe only the red starbursts...cause they're gross. I pray you keep the Reese's. ;)  


Secondly. So so so many of you have posted about how difficult this time of year is for you.


Infertility. Divorce. Lost loved ones.  


You will go to bed tonight, and you will look online at costumes on clearance for babies you fear you'll never have.  I know because I've been there.


You make a secret stash of your "missing person's" favorite candy and then stop yourself, remembering they aren't here to eat it.


Maybe you're single. Again.  


Maybe this year, your kids are too old to trick or treat, and that's hit you surprisingly hard. You're grateful (as everyone so graciously reminds you YOU "SHOULD BE")

...but you're sad. 

You're lonely.


I hate to sound pretentious...like..."Oh...guys...aren't I just sooooo compassionate."


BUT...motherhood and our 2 year stint with infertility has made me more vulnerable and aware of people's pain than I could have ever imagined. In that way, I'm grateful for the trial. It has helped me see the world outside myself.


Grief hits us in weird places. When we were trying to conceive...I remember one particular Easter being very, very hard. Even harder than Mother's Day...which I know sounds weird. I couldn't stand all the bunny pictures...chubby baby hands in lace trimmed gloves. Wide brimmed hats. I wanted to punch absolutely everyone. I prayed for God to break Facebook forever.


With all that being said....my broken, lost and lonely friends. I see you, and I hear you and I just love you so much. I will go to bed praying hard for you all tonight. Many of you, I do not know by name, but aren't you glad The Lord does? Tomorrow, Halloween will be over. We will start a new month, and you will brush your teeth and drink your coffee (in that order...or no?) and you will go boldly down that path laid out for you.  


Friend. You made it.





Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Lunch Break Links

     Anyone else browse the internet on their lunch break?  Ella usually eats before I do.  She's usually pretty patient in her high chair and content to just hang out for a bit ((read: and rub food in her hair...haha))) Also...she is the easiest, most patient, sweetest baby toddler ever.  Have I mentioned that? 

ANYWAY...I usually use my own "lunch break" to watch a bit of a Netflix show or just mindlessly browse the internet.  I thought it might be fun to share a few sites I've been loving lately.  If you're looking for a way to entertain yourself on your lunch break, you've come to the right place. 

     Meg Fee wrote a great post about organizing her closet.  It makes me want to throw 99% of what I own in the garbage -ha.



      Little Coffee Fox is a super cute organizational blog I discovered via Pinterest.  So far, my favorite post is this one about preserving memories in your bullet journal.  I haven't even started a bullet journal...but it sounds equally overwhelming and fun.  I can totally see myself diving into post after post on Pinterest and Youtube at like...2 o'clock in the morning. Ha.



     This is a really cool article about kids growing up in New York City.  It has a little bit of a "Day in the life" format.  As somewhat of a suburban/ "country" girl,  I'm fascinated by how people spend their day-to-day lives in larger cities.

     This blog post about making crystalized stars.  I've already been thinking about what we can put on our Christmas tree that won't either be a "choke-able" or break easily.  I think these would be super cute, easy and fun!



WEDNESDAY, OVER AND OUT! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

7 Tips for Surviving your baby's Vaccinations


I know this can be a controversial subject. Before we begin, I just wanted to let you know  this is a post for people who believe in the importance of vaccinations.  In our family, we vaccinate. Period.  Please do not  use this as a platform to try to sway readers to think otherwise.  If vaccinations aren't your thing...feel free to quietly move on.  
K. Thanks. Love you. Bye. 

***********

     New mamas, unite!  Some of the best blogging advice I've ever received came from Kate at The Small Things blog when I heard her speak at the Influence Conference. Her blog became wildly popular via Pinterest when she felt she was simply teaching people how to properly curl their hair.   Never assume that people know the basics.   I know a doctor's appointment may seem pretty cut and dry, but here's a list of things I wish I would have known before I braved Ella's first few appointments.



1. Dress your baby in something comfortable and easy to remove / put back on.  She's going to get poked in her adorable, chubby little thighs.  Recently, I put Ella in stretchy pants and a long sleeved t-shirt.  I seriously considered a zip-up sleeper.  Your baby is probably going to be undressed for most of the appointment, anyway.  No one cares as long as s/he is clean and adorable (the cuteness is just a given, right?).  

2. ((If your child is not yet walking)) Take your car seat. For her 6 month appointment, I contemplated just bringing Ella in without her carseat because she had such good head control. She's sitting up on her own now, so it's cute and fun to just carry her along.  She looks so proud of herself.  However, she fell asleep on the way, so I ended up bringing her into the office still asleep in her seat.  I'm really glad I brought the seat with us.  I needed the extra hands for my wallet, insurance card, etc.  The car seat also made a good "catch all" for her pacifier, clothes, and other personal items...which leads me to my next tip.  

3. Begin gathering your things as the appointment progresses - don't wait to pack up until after your baby has had her shots  The first time Ella had her shots, I made the mistake of waiting to pack up until the very end. Poor Ella was half naked and SCREAMING while I gathered alllll our belongings (paperwork, shot records, toys).  It was a mess.  You don't want to pack up while someone is in the room with you because that might seem rude, but as they float in and out (as nurses and doctors usually do), use that as an opportunity to begin gathering small things like your phone, keys, jacket and paperwork. This will save you valuable time in the end.  

4. Promise yourself a treat. This one needs no explanation.  I always get Starbucks on the way home.  Mama needs a coffee drink!   

5. Find emotional support- Tim and my mom usually get several texts and phone calls before, during, and after her appointments (haha).  Read: SOMEONE SAVE ME WHY IS THIS HAPPENING WHAT HAVE I DONE TO OUR BABY!?!?!?! You get the gist.  

6. Wear an over-sized cardigan (for newborns / weather permitting) and bring a blanket for older babies.  Ella was a fall baby.  For her first few appointments, I would wear a huge cardigan and wrap her up in it (while still wearing it).  This is one of my top suggestions for new moms- even at home.  Ella loved to be wrapped up like that.  Now I'm having flashbacks of my teeny, floppy baby.  

7. Bring a comfort object (it will help you more than your baby...haha).  For one appointment,  I brought this little, white rabbit along, and I think it helped us both.  It was nice to plunk her down in her little seat while she was hiccuping and crying and trying to be so brave with her little arm around her friend.  Heartbreakingly cute.  (For the record, I totally comforted her first, obviously, but she was still sad when I put her down.  I don't know about anyone else, but I just wanted to get her out of there into the comfort and movement of the car)! We are trying to start weaning her off her pacifier during the day.  I didn't even think to bring one to her last (traumatic) 12 month appointment (2 shots and a blood draw).  In that moment, I would have paid $500 for a Binky.  No joke.  Bring the nuk. Grab the bunny. 

Hugs to you. You are doing good work, mamas.  Good-bye, Good Luck, and get Starbucks. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

September Goal Update

Last month, I posted a list of goals for September.  Here's a little update!  Oh, Happy Day! 

1. Re-organize our finances- This one is still a work in progress, but I did manage to nail down exactly what we owe on two of our smallest loans and make my own "payment plan."  I should have them both paid off within six months so...yay...? I even made a little bar graph and everything. Ha.  It's the little things...I'm giving myself an A on this one.



2. Weed, mulch and plant mums- Again, a work in progress (Tim is in the process of building me some flower boxes), but for the most part, we're finished.  If you want to get technical about it, I didn't finish this until October, but...we do currently have mums and mulch IN THE YARD.  It counts.  A+ cause weeding is hard.



3. Finish Make Things Happen + 1 More book- I'm giving myself a C+  I definitely could have worked... HOWEVER, I read a book about health and wellness (might share the title later, it was a life-changing book for sure, and I feel like the title alone doesn't do it justice).  Reading it involved a lot of new recipes, meal planning and time on Pinterest (of course), so I felt like that cut into my reading time, a bit.

3a. Finish my Powersheets- Did.not.happen.  Next month...?

4. Buy New Bras- I'm giving myself a "free pass" on this one.  In hindsight, it was sort of silly to make this my goal for this particular month.  Up until the end of September I was still breastfeeding Ella.  I've also met a few weight loss goals since mid-September so, my body is bound to change over time.  I'm going to try to see how things pan out before I go shopping.  This may not be something I commit to until November or December.  I'd hate to change sizes right after I make my purchases.  You just never know.

5. Ella/ Mommy fun time- This one went really well.  During the month of September, I wanted to be intentional about getting out of the house with Ella...especially now that she's getting older and interacting more with the world around her.  With the help of my new MOPS group, we made a trip to Totter's Otterville which is basically a giant indoor play land for kids.  It was lots of fun.  We also went to the park twice. I recently started taking her little, pink "walk-about" for walks down our long driveway now that the weather has gotten super mild (read: gorgeous) instead of miserably hot.  It's one of my favorite things to do with her.  




6. Write our will- Ugh. No.  This is one of those things where I have no clue where to start, so I just keep putting it off.  Advice is welcome.

     For October, I'm going to "cheat" and just carry over my unfinished goals to this month.  That brings me back to my teaching days...whenever we'd have an unexpected snow delay, fire drill or assembly, I'd just have to draw BIG ARROWS all over my lesson plans for the week.  October is one of my favorite months so...you'll hear no complaints from me!  

Love and don't drink from the water table, 



Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Blog-Tember: The Year in Five Pictures

Today, as part of Bailey's Blogtember Challenge, I'm posting Five pictures that illustrate my life so far this year.  This was a fun, little project, but it was so hard to pick just five! 

     This one has no particular "significance" other than it has Noel in it, and I feel like she doesn't make the blog nearly as much as Scarlett does. This one reminds me so much of "mom life."  Ella and I took Noel to the vet a few months ago (just getting a second opinion on a 'cough' she's developed)...one of many, many errands I've run with a baby this year.  It complicates things sometimes, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  


     Oh boy.  We've tackled a lot of house projects this year (rather TIM has).  He built a gorgeous mantle for our living room to replace our wood stove.  (I'll have to post more recent pictures later).  He also put down new bathroom tile and did some serious work on our house's exterior.  No rest for the weary!




  I snapped this one on the way home from my birthday dinner in April. 
 I would follow these two anywhere.  


Whoa, man.  Sleep Regression?  Teething?  For a few weeks (months?), Ella quit sleeping through the night.  It was pretty hairy there for a while, but we survived.


So...I have a toddler now, guys.  She is very uh...should we say..."hands on?"  Haha...Ella Young, Carry us out!  



Love and does dirt count as "iron"?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Blog-Tember- Day 10 A day in the life

     I have always thought it would be fun to do one of these posts.  A "reality TV junkie" at heart, I love having a glimpse into the people's lives.  Here's what a (somewhat) typical day looks like at our house.  

This was how we spent our day last Wednesday.

Here are a few disclaimers before we begin.


     My house is an absolute wreck.  We went to visit family over Labor Day weekend, and we are still trying to recover.  Tim is in the middle of two DIY projects that have left our house a little topsy-turvy (living room mantle and new bathroom flooring).  If you're wondering why there's rubbing alcohol and mouthwash in our dining room, that's why.  Ha.  #ifyoudontlaughyoullcry


I am not going to make the photos "artsy."  No white backgrounds.  No soft lighting or glossy filters.  This is as real as it gets, guys.  Ain't nobody got time for that.


Try not to let my glamorous life make you feel bad about your own.  Not everyone can pull off this lifestyle.  Five o'clock hors d'oeuvres and crystal chandeliers.  It's ok.  Really. 


     I love my life and wouldn't change a thing.  Everyday, I pray I'm worthy of my calling as wife and stay at home mom.  I hope my gratitude and joy is apparent in the coming post.  No matter how uneventful it may seem.


      As I thought about this post, I immediately worried I wouldn't come off as "busy" enough.  Being a stay at home mom is hard, and being a working mom is hard.  I think it's all give and take.  Everyday, I'm learning that my worth and security lies in who I am in The Lord and not how often my kitchen is clean.  Lord help us all.  

Enjoy. :) 

8:20- Ella and I are up.  This is late for us, but you'll hear no complaints from me.


     We are slow-starts in the morning.  Ella and I snuggle for a bit while she drinks her milk. We sit in silence, and I mentally prepare for the day.  It's a nice few minutes together...and ends up being one of my favorite parts of the day.  




     Ella eventually perks up a bit.  I make us bagels & cream cheese, grapes and a LARGE cup of coffee for mama.  We catch up on Bachelor in Paradise.  Ella is rooting for Grant & Lace.  I'm still on the fence. No one is surprised about Nick & Jen, although, as a courtesy, we feign shock.  



     While we finish breakfast, I mess around online a bit.  I  add to Ella's Amazon Wishlist for her first birthday and take a glance at my daily planner.   I use the last 15 or so minutes before Ella's first nap to start kind of getting my life together (haha). I throw on some clothes and put my contacts in. Next, I collect dishes from various parts of the house, load the dishwasher and wash the high chair tray.



     Around 10:30- Ella goes down for her first nap.  I decide to use this time to do some "administrative tasks" ((Read: blog, check Facebook, and balance our checking account)).  The dining room table is driving me crazy, so I take 10 minutes to clean it off, cut some flowers from the yard, and contemplate making another cup of coffee (I don't  make one in favor of drinking my tumbler of water. Good choice, mama...who am I fooling? We both know I'll have a 2nd cup before the day is through).  




     One of my goals for the month is to re-evaluate our finances in an attempt to pay off some of our debt.  I grab my "financial calendar" and get ready to dive in.  I also preheat the oven for lunch and text a few of my pals...good deals on zulily...a tomato soup recipe.  Like I said above, it's all very glamorous. ;)



     ELLA IS UP!  That nap time goes way too fast!  As I mentioned above, we were out of town for the weekend, so our grocery situation is seriously lacking.  Around 1:30, I make some random chicken and green beans I found in the freezer.  Ella also snacks on some oranges.  I'm disappointed because the green beans were supposed to have almonds in them, and I thought that sounded SUPER exciting, only to open the package and discover they were...sans almonds.  



Still tired! 


     The TV plays in the background while I try to finish up the work I'm doing at the table.  I'm finally crunch the numbers long enough that I'm able to set a goal to pay off two of our small debts within 6 months. Ella discovers how to change the TV stereo from "cable" to "DVD."  She does not know how to turn it back again.  This presents a problem, as you can imagine.  





     Around 2:45, we head to Kroger.  Our diaper situation is getting SERIOUS, and I need to pick up a few things for the week.  We are thrilled to discover they've put mums out and even more excited to see their priced pretty reasonably.  I make a mental note to pick some up next weekend.  




     We're home by around 3:30. We literally live within walking distance of the store, yet by the time I pull onto our street, Ella is asleep.  My poor, cute and tiny baby.  I EASE her into the house for her second (mini) nap and focus on putting groceries away.  Someone has pooped on the kitchen floor.  Process of elimination reveals it's either Scarlett or Noel.  After a lengthy interrogation, neither one of them will fess up...nor will they throw the other under the bus.  The loyalty is strong in these two.  Poop be gone.  While I'm working in the kitchen, I discover the almonds that were supposed to go in my green beans.  Bummer. Mystery solved.  Maybe they'll be good with oatmeal?  



     While Ella naps, I decide to take the time to do my devotions.  I am bad about throwing it into my day "here and there" and really need to focus on getting into a routine.  It is always too easy for my quiet time to be the FIRST thing that gets pushed out of the way when life gets busy.  I read a bit out of Lara Casey's book. In the current chapter, she asks us to focus on a verse that speaks TRUTH to the devil's lies.  I look up verses about having confidence and write down Hebrews 4:16 . I smile as I make the connection between the verse and my birthday (April 16th).  

     I also crack open a Diet Coke and enjoy an apple alone at the table.  Tim bought me some really yummy Amish Peanut Butter spread while we were in Nashville over the weekend.  I practically lick the plate.  




Ella wakes up a little after four. Not a great nap, but we'll take it.  We have what will only be referred to as "an incident." I make a note in my calendar to shampoo the carpets.  Ella gets a bath.  



     I have to bathe her in the sink because our bathroom is still torn apart from the work Tim did on the flooring (our other bathroom only has a shower).  It's so much easier to do it in the sink, and Ella loves how the water pours over her head.  At the moment, we're both pretty content.  

     I let the dogs out and go to check on my container garden.  It's slowly winding down, but I'm enjoying the last few veggies we have left.  Ella follows closely behind.  (She's usually not allowed on the laundry room floor...this was a big deal for her).  




     The time is now 4:45, and we're both starting to get a little antsy.  I am feeling discouraged by the fact that I've gotten very few TANGIBLE "chores" done today, and Ella is running on fumes (gosh darn the 'mini' nap).  Sometimes this mom-life is about working behind the scenes.  It will be great when we're paying off our car loan a year early because of the work I've done today, but all I can see are the dishes in the sink.  You know...I struggle when there is no clear "before and after."   Ella got some milk on the straps of her car seat.  I desperately need to wipe it all down.  That task is really important, but it's not something anyone off the street would actually NOTICE.  I'm learning to appreciate "my work" in all forms, but it's still hard.  
     We both go to her room, and I start slowly tidying so I can take pictures for an upcoming blog post.  I am getting ready to transfer over her 9 month clothes to her 12 month wardrobe.  It's overwhelming.  She has some birthday presents I need to put away.  I fold clothes.  I make stacks and piles.  Ella continues to fuss.  I snap a few photos and crack a few jokes, "Aww...did we poke the bear?"  





She finds this less and less amusing as time goes on.  




I power through.  Today was the day I was going to document for a blog post.  I HAVE to get some things accomplished.  This place is a wreck. WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?!?!?!  

Mild panic attack.  Fuss fuss.  Fold clothes. Pick up toys. Wipe down furniture.  

And then The voice of The Lord and Sweet Lara Casey HITS ME. 

"Do what matters most."  

What matters most?  I am home. I am here. With my baby.  My tired, fussy baby who didn't take much of a nap and just wants to be held.  Sometimes a girl just needs her mom.  (LORD KNOWS I STILL DO)!

I relent.  We Surrender.  

I pick up my baby and snuggle her in close.  




Ok. This. THIS is what MATTERS MOST.  Everything else can wait.  

While we're snuggling, Tim calls and offers to bring home dinner.  This almost NEVER happens.  He must have sensed my distress. Ha.  

He gets home around 5:30 with dinner.  We eat pretty quickly, play with our girl and then put her to bed. 




     We spend the rest of the evening on the couch watching Fringe together before it gets booted off Netflix. I end the night with some decaf coffee, a little chocolate, a shower and some quality time with my guy.  Sweet morning, rough afternoon, perfect night.  


Love and spur-of-the-moment-boneless-chicken-wings,