Thursday, November 6, 2014

Fun Fall Favorites

I absolutely LOVE Fall! It's by far my favorite season for fashion, temperature, events, food, etc. Maybe is has something to do with the fact that my birthday is in October, but I think it's more about coming out of crazy hot summer and getting to toss on some layers and snuggle in with my family....and the food!
Crock Pot cooking has become my best friend, but let's face it, baking will always be right up there with favorite things to do. It's a good thing (for everyone) that I have graduated from the days of experimental baking - mostly resulting in bricks not baked goods - to actually having a sense in the kitchen about what works! This fall I tried a recipe for Pumpkin Oatmeal cookies. Best part is it calls for add-ins, and I used chocolate chips and dried cranberries. They were AMAZING and not too sweet! I actually ate them for breakfast a few days (because they only lasted a few days before I ate them all!)
The batter...I wish I had remembered to take a picture of the finished product....
....before eating them all....

Photo from Sally's Baking Addiction
For the recipe click here
**The only thing I did differently was use splenda in place of granulated sugar**
 Two reasons: I was out of granulated sugar, and my mom (who lives with us) is diabetic - they still tasted AMAZING!!

We have been up to all kinds of fun this Fall so far! Dablet LOVED Halloween again this year, changing from Elsa, to Anna, and a last minute mind change to Zarina. In case you don't know, Zarina is the fairy in the Tinkerbell series of movies, The Pirate Fairy. Needless to say, I had to improvise a little bit - but she was SO excited! The movie is really cute too!
In case you missed last year - I made her a Pirate costume last year too....

I had more time last year - but the costume was SUPER easy to make!
Stitched elastic waist band with looped cut strips of fabric
Lace fabric and felt for sword cross body
Feathers and fabric braided into hair
Adorn with some coin ribbon and you're set!

In other news - we had Luke's Newborn pictures taken a couple weeks ago by Amber of Six Foot Photography. She did an AMAZING job!!! Three year old kids are quite a challenge to photograph with any kind of consistency, but she was fabulous with Dablet! I'll share more later, but here is one of my personal favorites! You should definitely check her out if you're in the greater triangle area (or NC anywhere!)

Until next time!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Multiply & Divide

A couple weeks before Luke was born, I freaked out. Maybe that puts it a bit on the strong side - we can call it hormones and the lovely thing known as stress. Kyle and I grew up only children; him because he is an only child, me because my brother is 23 years older than I am and we never lived together. The idea of having a second child was fabulous, but the concept of siblings, raising them and living as them, was totally foreign.
All of a sudden I was worried - was having another child a good idea? would we be able to handle it? how could we possibly know what we were getting into? would I have any time with Abby? would I have any time for myself? would that even matter anymore?

I have heard from everyone with multiple children "your love multiplies, it does not divide when you have more children" "You'll find a way to make it work and everyone will be fine!"

Fact is - you don't have a clue until you live it - and your version of crazy will never be like anyone else's!
When I heard Luke cry for the first time, I was hooked. Here is what I know as I get things done:
This is life - no make up, the best way in the world to have two hands free

- I have not napped since we came home from the hospital (except for one benadryl induced couch pass out instead of eating dinner when I was sick)
- man on man defense means Kyle spends more time with Dablet and I have Luke on my own at night
- I get spit up on (a lot) and don't worry about changing my clothes until the end of the day
- There is at least one load of laundry each day that's new (doesn't mean it gets done)
- Sickness in a house with a newborn = obsessive decontaminating
- My son will inevitably have pink on him at some point...example the handmade blanket on him in the picture - he doesn't seem to mind too much
- The crock pot is my best friend - I'll tell you why/how soon!

-when you stop holding yourself to impossible standards of "success" the world isn't quite so scary

My mom said to me a couple nights ago "I have no idea what it must be like to have two kids", to which my immediate response was "It's actually easier"
Did I really say that?!?!
Yes - and I meant it. Dablet was an easy baby, Luke is "easier" mostly because I'm not worried about the little things. I know what it will be like to wake up multiple times each night, and know that those snuggle moments nursing at 2 am will fade quickly and I should cherish them. I know my house will be messy and the laundry will pile up, so I set aside 15 minute chunks to "power through" and I feel like wonder woman. I know I can get out of the house with two kids by myself, and that is enough of an accomplishment so I don't need to worry about what my clothes, hair, or face might look like or have on them/it. I will shower when I can, and I will get "me time" when I can.
Fact is - when I became a mom of two I lowered the amount of pressure I put on myself and became a much happier less stressed mom! To be clear, I still have meltdowns, wonder just how much I'm screwing up my kids, question my ability to keep the balance...but I am 100% confident that my kids are loved and I am a good mom.
For a little bonus secret into keeping the sanity - the Crock Pot.  I made at least 15 meals ahead before Luke was born and have replaced a few each week as we use them. Last night we had Southwestern Chicken Chili (and made corn muffins) - this was a definite family favorite so far!

1.5 lbs boneless chicken breast
3 cans petite diced tomatoes (14.5 oz each)
2 cups medium salsa
1 can corn - (I used 2 cups frozen organic corn)
2 cans black beans drained and rinsed
1 pkg ranch seasoning
1 pkg taco seasoning
Top with cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips...or crumbled corn bread!

Cook on Low 4-5 hours, shred chicken return to crock pot, stir, and serve!
*Recipe from Mommy's Fabulous Finds -*

Until Next Time!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Expanding Life

LOTS of life has been going on! Almost a month ago we welcomed a nine pound bundle of joy named Luke!

Dablet is now officially a BIG SISTER!!

I don't know if my joy or hers hit higher on the scale, but capturing this moment was worth everything we went through to get to it! It was a whirlwind of a month! We moved into our new multi-generational living set up the end of August:

thought it deserved a selfie!

Two weeks later Dablet turned THREE!! I cannot believe it! How is she so BIG?!?! And given the move we are VERY excited to properly give her a big girl room and fabulous playroom - details to come soon ;)
A short fifteen days after that Luke was born via a scheduled repeat c-section. He is absolutely perfect! Love truly does multiply with your children, and Dablet is quite the big sister! 

Having both kiddos home in a new house has inspired me to do some things with this blog and the relationships I have been lucky enough to develop over the last several years to bring you all some fabulously fun things! Life is still chaotic, but there is always time in between loads of laundry, meals, and diaper changes to bring chic moments to the craziness! They are more fabulous than ever now because Dablet appreciates chic moments of her own!

Until next time!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Operation Nursery

Four weeks ago we found out that we are expecting a little boy this time around, and quite frankly we were both SHOCKED!! Just about everything with this pregnancy is just like it was with Dablet, except the nausea....this time until week 20 it was SO MUCH WORSE! I was SURE this little bean was another girl! But, in typical boy fashion, he was not shy about showing off just how wrong we were! While Dablet had her legs firmly crossed forcing a second ultrasound to finish measurements and determine gender (gotta love my modest girl!), this little man had is knee pulled up to his chest and in mid flip showed his goods.
After the shock started to wear off I started getting excited about this little bean being a little man! Let's be honest, part of the excitement came from knowing just what I would be designing for! While I have had to channel all of my nesting urges to packing, donating, and selling things we no longer need gearing up for our move in a couple months, I could definitely start thinking about this little guy's room!
Immediately I knew navy and white. Crisp and clean - sophisticated and something he can grow into. I don't usually do "themed rooms", but more color schemes. Ultimately we decided to add pops of orange for some bright fun flair! Of course I am excited about playing with pattern mixing too!
Here are some inspirations I have so far. All pins can be found on my Baby Room Pinterest Board

Navy walls, white curtains, with orange pops

Gallery wall with white frames - this will accent off of the navy nicely

I loved this idea for a memento gallery wall by using shadow boxes to frame
the first onesie and hospital photo

I have ALWAYS loved unframed canvas prints!
(this giraffe is also already a resident in Dablet's room!)

Lovely serine nursing corner (and the same giraffe!) I Love poofs for ottomans

Upcycled sign is a masculine touch with the wood - you could put anything on it

We will be re-purposing Dablet's crib and changing table to use again. The crib is the Catilina 3-in-1 and the Ultimate Changing Table, both from Pottery Barn Kids

(photos from our maternity shoot in Dablet's nursery)

However, I didn't want to keep the dark wood - but was scared to paint it with just any paint. I was SO excited to hear about Lullaby Paints! It's a baby safe paint specifically created for this purpose! I'm thinking of using this color to pop off the walls, but not be stark white!

Here's to daydream designing!!

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Final Farewell

Today was (finally) the day we officially closed on our house in Durham - as in papers signed and it's sold! It's a happy occasion because it means we are one step closer to the next chapter of life with our family, and one step closer to just about every personal goal we have been working towards - but it felt odd.
Every time I have been in that house recently over the last few months it hasn't felt like "our house". It's been empty, shown empty, and we've known it was sold for a while now. But every time I went, I knew deep down that there would be one more thing that I forgot to touch up, repair, or what have you. Now that I think about it, even though I sporadically complained under my breath that there was always something else, part of me enjoyed knowing I would get to go back one more time.

So many wonderful memories happened in that house. It was our first house together right after we got married:

Cliche - but fabulous!

It's where we started our family and where we brought Dablet home:

That house was so full of happiness for us as a family, but it also carried many tough life lessons. No matter how you look at it, I will never forget that house. When I walked out today after the final walk though to make sure I had all things checked off my mom asked me "any regrets?". I said, "no, no regrets - we're one step closer to so much more" and I meant it. I was even fine though signing a flurry of papers, meeting the buyers and feeling thrilled that they would have so many of the same fabulous milestones that we had with their new baby in that house. Once I got in the car I became inexplicably emotional - I wish I could blame pregnancy hormones, but I don't think that covers all of it. 
It truly was no longer our home - even though we haven't lived there in months. I felt like I had to turn over the spaces in the house to someone else. Where we had the blow up bed before we moved all our furniture in, the loft where Kyle and I would watch movies before we were parents and have at home date nights, the spot the rocker lived where I took so many naps with Dablet, the countless family dinners made in the kitchen, the Christmas tree corner, the playroom, the spot behind the couch where Dablet first crawled, even where I was sitting when I realized I had miscarried each time. 
For a while it was hard for me to realize that I was turning over space and that was all. I wasn't turning over memories; I wasn't turning over emotions. Whenever you leave a home, no matter if you loved or hated the space, there will be emotion because it has been your home. It has sheltered your family and provided for you, but you get to take that with you. When you move you change homes but what makes that space a home for the years you live there goes with you - your family. I am so blessed to have an amazing family that makes emotional ties to places so strong! I say thank you to everyone who spent time with us in that home, and cannot wait for all of the new memories to come in our next home especially bringing home our baby boy and seeing Dablet grow into a fabulous big sister!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Peace in Small Places

There has been a lot of buzz recently about Spring cleaning tips, organizational ideas, and all that comes along with changing of the season, warm weather, and lighting a fire under our butts to get life back on track once again. But let's face's daunting. I saw an article recently about a 10 "easy" step guide to Feng Shui your home so you were happier and more productive - I practically had a panic attack after reading step one. The idea of carving out enough time to accomplish that step in our current living situation made me sweat!
Kyle and I were talking about the differences between our old house in Durham (about 3300 square feet) and our current rental (about 1500 square feet). You would think that it would be a lot easier to keep clean because it's so much smaller - at least that was my initial impression when we moved in! How wrong was I!! First, with three big dogs (no fenced in back yard anymore) and a toddler, it takes about 30 minutes for the entire first floor to be "destroyed". Then the stress level rises because there is nowhere to send the creatures while you try to pull things back together. I'm still trying to figure out why I try to pull things back together because it only takes another 30 minutes to destroy it all again.
Then, the cabinet space and dishwasher size are both significantly smaller than what we had. If there is one thing toddlers are great at, it's getting dishes dirty and Dablet is going through the "I need a snack" phase...all   day    long. So what has happened? I LOT of purging! And we're going to have a BIG yard sale next month as well. Goodwill has become our best friend, and this time not for shopping, but donating! It's a nice life exercise to focus on what you actually NEED versus things you think you have to have, and creative small space storage ideas! I'm sure that when we move again in September back into a bigger space we will thank ourselves for this time!
But until then - I wanted to share some little ideas I found that made me feel better, and were quick small space ideas! Sometimes you just need a little corner that you can see to get started and be your happy place before you move on to the rest of the chaos!

Give yourself something when you walk in that makes you feel good!

I don't mind doing laundry, I'm not hugely successful at putting it all away once I'm done with it however! Part of the problem is being so worn out by the process - this would make life easier! 

Anytime you can get things onto a wall and off surfaces is a win!

SHELVING!!! It's your best friend in a small space! 
The top picture is an easy find at Target or Lowes, and the bottom one could be installed easily above ANY door! Life is better with functional storage!

All pictures featured here can be found on my Small Space Peace board on Pinterest, along with others!

Happy Spring cleaning!

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Hormonal Truth

At a recent doctor's visit for this pregnancy (now almost 16 weeks along!) my doctor and I were chatting about the differences between first and second pregnancies. I should probably preface this by saying that my main OB is male, something I was TOTALLY skeptical about in the beginning, but I will be scheduling this repeat c-section based entirely on his schedule in the operating room. While he may have never birthed a child, he has NEVER made me feel crazy or dismissed any of my questions. So the conversation that ensued I totally bought into without ever thinking "ya, but this guy has never experienced anything I'm talking about so how would he get it?!"
The short of it is most mamas-to-be don't really read pregnancy books with subsequent pregnancies. Even if they did, there isn't a ton out there that talks about things to expect during subsequent pregnancies except the age old "you'll start showing sooner" mantra. Maybe it's not true for everyone, but what else comes along with the showing sooner is earlier more severe round ligament pain, earlier/more back pain, even more exhaustion (why?! because you have at least one other small being running around this time), and for most the sheer bliss of first time expectancy has flown out the window. You KNOW (unless you were super lucky and absolutely LOVED being pregnant every second the first time) that pregnancy is NOT a cake walk or remotely glamorous. And with that knowledge can sometimes come fear. You've been through a delivery before, and realize that no matter how many of them you will go through, you'll still never know what to expect!
We talked about that too. About how during my c-section with Abby I had the mother of all anxiety attacks and wanted to bolt off the table - paying no mind to the fact that that would have been physically impossible. We talked about why it happened, that I'm not alone, and that there are ways we can try to work around it this time! We talked about me considering getting my tubes 27 years old I am legitimately considering this. Why?! BECAUSE! I LOVE children. I would have a huge houseful of them. I have miserable early (if not entire) pregnancies.
This beautiful little fact was something I didn't even realize until this pregnancy. If you had asked me after my pregnancy with Dablet how it was, I would have said "fine! no issues!" HUH?!?! Let's reflect - severe nausea and vomiting the entire pregnancy, migraines, two early labor scares, choking acid reflux, almost two weeks of early labor contractions every two minutes for intervals of hours on end with no progress...sounds like a day at the spa! But I was BLISSFUL, and honestly I am convinced that your body produces something as soon as that little bit is born causing amnesia so you continue to procreate.
And yet, my dearest friends still have to dig deep to ask me how I REALLY am this time, why? Because there is that "I'm not sure what to do with these frustrated woe is me feelings because I should only feel blessed" gray area that comes after having a miscarriage let alone multiple miscarriages.
Here's the truth - it's 40 weeks of unpredictable chaotic hormone filled physically draining exhausting wonder, during which time you literally lose your mind. Pregnancy brain is a legitimate thing people! There is NO reason to feel guilty for not feeling good, wanting the pain/nausea/exhaustion to go away. None of those feelings discredit the recognition that life is a blessing, and because this is something we wanted so badly we are lucky to be experiencing it. It's kind of like the ultimate fear factor - every crazy mind-boggling task you go through to get the prize is so entirely worth it, but it doesn't mean you can't gag when you see some of the things you go through!
So here's to hormones and embracing whatever is about to happen next!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Life's Next

The last time I wrote here I shared about our struggle with miscarriages and some of the testing we were going through. I also said I would keep the loop open during our journey for a take home baby #2, we were going to try a clomid cycle and were waiting for the "right" time mentally, emotionally, and physically to start trying again. Then the fear set in - it honestly became scary to share that part because what if it didn't work? what if it did, but we weren't ready to share the news yet? I have always loved my blog and writing this way, but I found myself more afraid and wanting to be more secretive than I expected. Life happened!
As it turns out...we didn't need medication, we received a blessing. And here it is:

(insert crazy freak out moment continuation!!)
We're almost out of our first trimester and it's been a wild ride so far! Hyperemesis gravidarum (severe nausea and vomiting), a diagnosed subchorionic hemorrhage that was re-diagnosed today as a placental lake - essentially a pool of moving blood in the placenta, not a concern like our original diagnosis was as long as my placenta keeps moving up!
What's next? A little bit more breathing room as we exit our first trimester with a baby who looks like he or she is developing beautifully - and a new living arrangement that extends beyond the addition of a new family member!
We are working on a multi-generational building project with my mom and because of the change in life this blog will be getting a new home over the next few weeks to "Life's Next". Whatever the "next" may be, I'm not sure because there are too many of them!
Cheers to new life phases!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Defining "Healthy"

For months upon months now, I have been "meaning" to put myself on the list! It's an interesting concept - finding time for yourself as an individual not just pertaining to being an independent business owner, wife, or mom! It's a CRUCIAL concept!!! For Christmas, my mom treated me to a gym membership which propelled me into a let's get back into shape mentality. While thinking about having a second baby (whenever that ends up happening), the fact that I hadn't been to the gym in 3.5 years, the chronic Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome I have dealt with for the last (almost) 15 years, and a desire for a healthier lifestyle there was no option but to do this the right way!
Let's be blunt for a second shall we? I get it a lot - when I go into Starbucks and order a skim drink - when I talk about needing to watch what I eat - when I even dare to make a comment about being out of shape...that "what are you talking about?! You're so skinny!" comment. Since when does "skinny" define HEALTHY?! Never once have I said I wanted to lose weight - in fact I have never cared what the scale says because it can be VERY misleading when trying to define healthy! I order skim drinks because (due to the IBS) my body cannot process milk fat and I don't think the Starbucks people want me to puke on them - I talk about watching what I eat so I don't send myself into an inflammation flare up and end up in the hospital (in fact, A LOT of people suffer from inflammation from eating processed foods without even knowing about it!) - and I am out of shape - FOR ME!
Here's some evidence that knocked my socks off today:
I went in for a "My Health Score" at Life Time Fitness - the gym I am going to right by our house. I got an 84 - that's a B - for ONE reason. My triglycerides were through the roof!! Those are a way that your body stores fat for energy - but this one is in your blood stream not your waist. Sure, it could be stress related, but it could also be the fact that I LOVE carbs. Say it with me - LOVE CARBS!!!
Before you think I'm about to go off on an "I'm giving up pasta, bread, and brownies forever" kick, let me assure you I am NOT! I wouldn't survive! BUT.....I can make smarter choices! Quit going for the "quick and refined" carbs - go for whole grains. Not necessarily the things that say "multi-grain" or "whole wheat", I'm talking about literally the grains are there right in front of me and I do the cooking. Knowing when to time what food group I consume around my physical activity, and actually knowing what the label says on the food I consume. You literally are what you eat, and I don't want to be something I cannot pronounce!
Of course, this lead to a pantry clean out and a quick blitz grocery shop for a few new starting points. What I've realized is our economy profits from our population not knowing what "healthy" really means and jacks the prices up on anything organic, whole grain, gluten-free (you get the picture). Why?! Maybe it has something to do with it still being a niche market while fast food remains accepted by the masses. I would love to see the day that the "dollar menu" no longer exists simply because they can't buy in the volume they need to support the crazy low prices.
So what do you think? As part of this journey to get healthy I'll be sharing some meal tips and lifestyle tricks with you - but until that next post it's time to get the homemade banana bread out of the oven! *Don't worry - I added wheat germ for a protein and fiber boost* :)

Until next time

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Joy for Today

I thought about what to call this post because Joy is something we all aim to have for more than a day, but to have it for a long period of time we have to choose it each and every day. When you wake up in the morning, what do you do? Are you consciously waking up choosing to be happy? Are you falling asleep full of angst? Do you think that the events of your day are destined no matter what, or fueled by the state of mind you bring to each day?
It's a hard concept to accept responsibility for your life! Even harder to accept responsibility for your state of mind. Long ago (at least 10 years!) I had a conversation with my mom that ended a bit like this:
Me:  "Why do you have to make me feel so GUILTY?!"
Mom:  "I can't make you feel anything - that's not me, that's you"
I was FURIOUS!! Of course our parents can make us feel guilty, can't they? The idea that we are all individually in control of our emotional reactions to things has stuck with me over the years. It has bugged me, and empowered me. However, it wasn't until this past weekend that I felt like I could really DO something with it!
Wake up each and EVERY morning and CHOOSE JOY! Throughout your day use a simple analysis of your situations - Is what I'm doing bringing me Joy or closer to my goal? If it's not - Change it QUICKLY! Of course, we all find ourselves in situations that we don't find joy in. It might be the long line at the drive up ATM, paying bills, washing dishes, or even picking up your dog's "business" from the back yard. But what do each of those things mean? You have money to deposit, utilities you can keep on, food on your plate to make it dirty, and a life you are taking care of.
I tucked Dablet in last night (one of the several times because she kept getting up!) and it was freezing outside. I was in the small bedroom sitting there thinking, "I would live in this one little room with her and Kyle forever and be happy because we have a roof over our heads, heat in our space, and everything we could possibly NEED, we have each other!"
Our lives have been so full of pain and stress over the past year with our miscarriages, family illness, and absolutely normal chaos (including moving the weekend after Thanksgiving reducing our home size by more than 50%). I have often caught myself thinking "can this all please just stop - we have SO much going on!" But today I choose JOY - to find happiness in the piles of clothes that have to be put away because we have them! When there seems to be more month than money - I choose to find JOY that I will be pushed to touch more lives and make a difference with my leadership role in Mary Kay!
You mind is a powerful tool, and if you allow others (or even your circumstances) to impact you constantly to the point of distress, you are giving them WAY too much control and power in your life! I can only imagine the success and blessings we will receive because we choose JOY!
Today was very much a Joyful day already as we picked up our second FREE car from Mary Kay this year - my first year in business!

To be able to do this while keeping my priorities right and spending an abundance of hands on time with my family is more than enough to fuel the joy moving forward! Anything you want to achieve you can because you decide to!!
Until Next Time...