Thursday, December 19, 2013

{intention} Looking Back at 2013


Hmm.  Where do I begin when I think about the past year?  Back in January, I resolved to live intentionally, focusing on making my life full of what I wanted it to be.  I wrote: "If you really want something, you have to work for it.  This can be for everything from making dinner, to desiring an organized home, to starting a new business.  You have to prioritize the time, money and resources.  You have to commit.  Instead of living in a cloud of "somedays" and "maybes", you have to dig deep and follow through." I had no idea how much those words would be tested this year!  2013 seemed to hold the highest of highs and the lowest of lows for me.  I am thankful for it all.   

A few of the highlights: 

I'm signing off until the new year, when I'll be back with lots of goal setting and list making.  Wishing you a blessed Christmas with the ones you love, friends.  See you in January!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

{christmas} The Perfect Advent Calendar & a Giveaway!


Advent is a really special time of year for our family.  December can often feel so rushed and hurried and I love Advent for keeping our eyes focused on what matters most.  Because my kids are still pretty little, we've tried a few different activities.  One year, we wrapped 24 storybooks and opened one to read each night.  Another time we did an arts and craft project every day.  For 2013, I was on the hunt for something simple and I think I've found it! 

The Perfect Advent Calendar was created by Jessica, a graphic designer, entrepreneur and fellow mamma to four.  In her words, "I designed the perfect advent calendar after searching for one that would teach my kids about Jesus as well as provide activities for us to do as a family."


So let me tell you how it works: The long white cards are the daily activity cards.  There are a few extras, so you can pick and choose which work best for your family.  After you read the cards, determine the order you want to complete them and fold and tuck each card in the corresponding pocket.  I love how easy it is to switch around too.  Say on December 15th, you get invited to a party and won't have time to make gingerbread houses at home like you planned.  Quick switch of the cards and instead you're singing Christmas carols!   Easy!

I also love that Jessica included a supply list ("get it") for each day, so you know ahead of time exactly what you need.  


Once you've tucked all of the cards in the pockets, thread them onto the red ribbon and tack in place!  We have ours on our big, blank wall in the dining room.  My hope is that it is covered in Christmas drawings and crafts by the end of the month.


Want an advent calendar for your family?  Jessica has graciously given me one kit to give away!  Please enter in the Rafflecopter widget below.  The giveaway will be open just until November 24, 2013 at 12AM, so I can get it to you before December 1!  If you just can't wait for a calendar, please contact Jessica here and she can give you the details with how to purchase one directly!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

**I was given a calendar to review, but all opinions are mine**

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

{30 before 30} Visit the National Zoo


Having guests in town was the perfect excuse to finally check out the National Zoo!  While I wouldn't necessarily recommend going in November (brrr!), the kids had fun and I learned a few things too.  
The kids' favorites:
M- the naked mole rat
D- the orangutan
J- "all the animals!" 

{the rest of my 30 before 30 list here}

Monday, November 4, 2013

{life list} Support 100 Small Business Mammas: Number Three (and a Giveaway!)


Gratitude is something that I think I'm good at, until things get hard.  My boys wake up too early, Sophie is my shadow and I can't get anything accomplished, I burn dinner...I'm tired and grouchy and gratitude gets thrown out the window.  Do you feel the same?



November seems like the perfect time to be intentional with gratitude, so I purchased this little journal to start recording a little bit everyday.  I found it over at Rori's shop, MadeByRori.

A little bit of her story: "My love of Etsy and notebooks have been particularly healing for me in the last couple years.  Let's rip off the sadface Bandaid: Zach and I lost our beautiful twins Liam and Sebastian in August 2011.  They were born 9 days too early to survive.  It's a sad story, but I'm not a gloomy person.  I feel it is important for me to live a life that honors them.  Now for the happy part of my story: In early 2012, we found out I was pregnant again.  Miles is (as of this writing) nearly 8 months old.  And he's pretty much the best thing ever."


I am so happy to have found Rori's shop, not only because of her beautiful notebooks, but also for her example in gratitude.  

Now for the fun part!  Half of the fun in supporting small business mammas is sharing with you!  This week, I am giving away another gratitude journal just like mine.  And you know me, I'll probably tuck in a few little extras along with it :)

Enter through the Rafflecopter widget below.  The giveaway runs until November 9, 2013 at 12AM.  Good luck!    


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thursday, October 31, 2013

{currently} An October Recap


loving : watching Sophie toddle around the house.  Just like that, I've got a toddler.  Bittersweet.
reflecting : on M's fall soccer season and how nice it was for us as a family.  A little sad that it's coming to an end, but happy to not be on the field freezing.
planning : for guests coming next week.  I've been busy creating a guest room, starting a menu and making a list of activities.  We love visitors!  
brainstorming : more ways to give in 2014.  The Pajama Drive was a huge success and I hope it becomes an annual event. 
running : has been lacking, as I've been in a huge rut.  October was a wash, but I'm hoping November is better.  And surprise!  I actually quite like running in cold weather.

considering : growing my hair again to donate to Locks for Love.  You can only donate if your hair is less than 10% grey, and let's be honest, my days are numbered.  Gotta fit in a donation while I can!  
thankful for : my husband.
drinking : coffee, lots and lots of coffee.  
dreaming : about all of the vintage items I'd like to sprinkle throughout our home.  Too bad with all these little ones, I rarely get to the antique or thrift stores.  Anyone want to be my personal shopper? :)  
noticing : Friday family movie nights are becoming routine and something anticipated by everyone.  A Netflix movie, cozy blankets and popcorn - the perfect way to unwind after a busy week.
baking : pumpkin crumb cake this weekend.
working on : a cross-stitch kit found deep in the craft "stash".  Working a little each day and it's so calming!
excited : to see our family photos done by my new friend, Lucy O Photography! 

Monday, October 28, 2013

{house to home} William Morris Project (Vol.5): The Comparison Trap & New Pillows


Finally!  Another installment of the long neglected William Morris Project!  It's been quiet here on the blog, but I have been working diligently every week to do a little something to make our house a home.  I've been hesitant to share because....well, I'm afraid that the comparison trap got me once again.  So many times, I've started drafting a post only to delete it.  It's not "Pinterest worthy" or "pretty enough" or it seems silly to write a whole post about something like organizing the pantry.  I compare myself to the blog superstars and always come out the loser.  

No more.  I'm proud of the home I'm creating!  It may never make the pages of a magazine, but it's ours and a constant work in progress.  Today, I want to show you my new pillows!


My original plan was to DIY my own, but I seem to have expensive taste in fabric.  Hah!  So I decided to use a Target coupon, along with my 5% off for using my card, to get a pretty great deal instead.  I picked out one pillow for the colors and aesthetic, while the boys in the family chose the other.  I'll let you guess who picked which one.


The living room is slowly coming together.  The rest of my to-do list:
+ Paint the bottom half of the room the same Manchester Tan as the top half.
+ Purchase curtain rods and curtains.
+ Decide on artwork or photographs above the TV.
+ Start a vintage globe collection to be held on top of both cabinets (and put away the Hungry Hungry Hippo game!) 


What have you been working on to make your house a home?  Any exciting purchases?  Did you organize a drawer or a pantry?  I'd love to hear about it, big or small!

Friday, October 25, 2013

{around here} Week of 10.21.13


TGIF!  Between the daughter I have declared to be called "No Sleep Sophie" and three early rising boys, I am dragging this week.  I seem to have survived on pure adrenaline and coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee.

Running...HAH.  Um, no. One short run on Monday was all I could manage.  I'm itching for a long run all to myself this weekend.

I had a heart-to-heart with D about some poor behavior and through tears, he told me that he desires more one on one time with me.  Oh my Mamma heart.  This child has been my hardest to parent and I've felt like a failure on more than one occasion.  Trying to be more intentional with inserting little moments throughout our day: we did a puzzle together, worked on a few workbook pages while the other two were asleep and he even helped me put laundry away.

"I not your big man, Mamma.  I tiny." -J

Best moment of the week: One night was particularly rough and all four decided 5am was a great time to start the day.  My wonderful husband came home early with a car full of groceries and a meal plan for the rest of the week.  I am so grateful for that man.      

Pajamas for the Pajama Drive are starting to trickle in and I'm getting so excited!  I'd love for you to participate!  Even if you can't make it to the store, pick a pair or two online and have them shipped directly to me.  If you're interested, send me an e-mail and I can get you the address.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Monday, October 21, 2013

{life list} Watch 100 Documentaries: #6-10


Happy: This was an interesting look at what makes people happy.  Biggest lesson from the movie: Happiness is a choice.  I loved the personal stories throughout.  Thought provoking.  

Beware of Christians: While I didn't agree with their theological opinions 100%, I did think that this movie was a good look at religion from the perspective of today's generation.  Lots to think about and it challenged me to learn my faith more as a response.  

Lost Angels: This movie takes a look at life for the homeless on Skid Row.  I found it fascinating and heartbreaking.  Even within the homeless population, people crave community and a place where they feel they belong.  I do believe there was a slight political spin at the end, but other than that, I felt it was well done.

Catching Hell: If you are a Boston or a Chicago baseball fan, this ESPN documentary is a must-see.  It explores the idea that fans use a single incident as a scapegoat to explain decades of losing.  I know I have uttered the name Buckner with gritted teeth, but not after watching this movie!  

The Business of Being Born: A look at modern obstetrics and midwifery.  I have only had positive experiences with hospital births, but I do think home births are beautiful too.  While I do think there was an obvious slant toward midwifery and a few scare tactic scenes, I found the movie interesting and pretty informative.  


Friday, October 18, 2013

{around here} Week of 10.14.13


We managed to make it one month with M in school before he got sick.  He came home last Friday with a sore throat and by Saturday afternoon, had almost lost his voice.  He was miserable and had to miss school on Monday, but thankfully is back to full health!  And miracle: no one else caught the cold!

D's fifth birthday was on Tuesday!  He requested Burger King bacon cheeseburgers for dinner with a big chocolate cake.  It always makes me laugh to see what the kids pick out for their special dinner.  He received two Star Wars Lego sets and has been in heaven ever since.

I started running a bit after an entire week off.  Feeling out of the groove.  Our weekend is busy, but I'm hoping to fit in a long run outside.

Remember a long, long time ago when I mentioned that a BWF boutique was in the works?  There have been lots of bumps and learning curves along the way, but we're almost ready to launch!  I'm hoping for a soft launch in November, just in time for Christmas shopping.

I couldn't take the kids' toys in the living room for another minute, so I made the crazy decision to dismantle my office and turn it into a playroom.  I am so excited with the outcome!  Pictures and details to come.

Plans for the weekend: a soccer game, a long run (hopefully!), a trip to the pumpkin patch and family pictures!

Have a great weekend, friends! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

{giving} I'm Holding a Pajama Drive and I Need Your Help!

I recently listened to a podcast with Emily Freeman where she said that one way to find "the art you were made to live" is to pay attention to the things that make you cry.  I was listening to the podcast as I ran on the treadmill and right there on mile two, I got a lump in my throat.  I know exactly what speaks right to my heart: children.  

It's been chilly and rainy here in Virginia this week and I hate the idea that there are little kids in my community who are cold.  I hate the idea that some kids don't even know what pajamas are, that they stay in the same clothing for days.  I hate the idea that they don't go to bed with a bedtime story and a kiss goodnight.  

These things make me cry.  And I don't know about you, but as a Mamma, I can't just sit and watch.  I want to do something.  I want to do my part to help the little ones in my community feel warm and safe this winter.  And I want your help!  

For the next two weeks, from today until October 31, I will be holding an online pajama drive.  All of the donations collected will go to our local chapter of the Pajama Program, an amazing organization that I invite you to check out.  

Here are the details:
+ All pajamas need to be new and should be the complete set (top and bottoms).
+ The age range we're primarily collecting for is infant up to 5T.
+ You can send your donations to me.  Please send me an e-mail with "Pajama Drive" in the subject line and I can send you the address.  
+ Involve your entire family.  This is an easy opportunity to include your children in service!

I hope you'll help me spread some happiness to some children in need!  

{recording life} 28 Favorite Things

Today is my birthday and I enter the last year of my twenties!  28 was a hard, but wonderful year for me.  I grew in so many ways and definitely stretched myself more than I ever have before.  I am so thankful for all of the lessons I have learned and all I have been able to accomplish.  So to celebrate, I'd like to share 28 of my favorite things.  Some are serious, some are silly, but they all made this year great!


1. COFFEE. Oh coffee, how I would get through the day without you?  I have changed my habits drastically in this area: I dropped my (3 a day!) Coke Zero addiction to now taking just a bit of milk in my coffee, no sugar!  I look forward to my morning...and sometimes afternoon...cup.

2. RUNNING.  An exercise I have secretly wanted to try for years and it has changed my life.  Running is re-energizing for me as a mother and allowed me to find my inner athlete again.  I have big dreams in this department now! 

3. WASHI TAPE.  I use washi tape for everything: packaging gifts, on my penpal letters, taping up the kids' artwork on the wall, even in my planner!  So fun to have on hand.    

4. MY HUSBAND. This year, more than ever, I love and appreciate this man.  I am fortunate to go through life by his side.

5. WHOLE30. What started as a "quick" way to lose a few extra pounds this summer became a lesson on nutrition that has changed the eating habits of my entire family.  Whole30 was difficult at first (especially the sluggish, detoxing days!), but I highly recommend it.      

6. INSTAGRAM. What would I do without Instagram?  I've had my account for almost a year and hands down, it is my favorite type of social media.  Instagram makes documenting the little parts of our day easy...things I would quickly forget are now photographed and written down.  I also love that I have been able to connect with so many ladies around the world.  They have taught me so much!

7. BENJAMIN MOORE PAINT COLORS. While I can't always afford BM paint, their colors are amazing and I've had them color-matched for most of the rooms in our home.  Manchester Tan and Berkshire Beige are my two favorite neutrals.

8. STRIPES AND POLKADOTS.  If you look in my closet (or the closets of my kids), these are the patterns you'll find most often.  I think I have a problem.

9. OUR CHALKBOARD WALL.  I think I love the chalkboard wall more than my kids.  It's always changing with motivating and thought-provoking quotes.  I love the visual reminders. 

10. MY OLDEST, M.  I can't seem to talk about this boy lately without getting all choked up.  I am so proud of all he has accomplished and the boy he is becoming.  Compassionate and gentle, hardworking, helpful and hilarious...he is pretty special.  

11. TWICE. Losing weight throughout the year, I've been in a handful of different sizes.  I love Twice for their amazing prices on quality, second-hand clothes.  And bonus: I never feel too bad if I need to get a smaller size!

12. IMMACULATE BAKING COMPANY'S COOKIES.  Um, these are delicious.  Our favorites are the fudge chocolate brownie, chocolate chip and ginger snap.  They are on regular rotation around here these days.

13. SOCCER. I never guessed I would be a soccer mom, but I like it.  So proud of my boy and cheering him on at the field.  He moved up into a harder league, but has continued to work hard and improves every week.  Love the lessons he's learning and the coaches who are teaching him.

14. AGAINST ALL GRAIN.  This cookbook is fantastic for Paleo beginners like me.  We have made a handful of recipes so far and everything is excellent!  

15. MY SECOND BORN, D.  This boy is the perfect mix of his mamma and his daddy.  His belly laughs are my favorite.  His devotion to his siblings is inspiring...I want to love fiercely like he does.

16. SPARKLING WATER. I've officially given up soda for good, but the summer months had me craving something with carbonation.  I thought they were disgusting at first, but quickly came to love sparkling water.  Lime and orange are my favorite kinds.  

17. HONEST COMPANY.  So spoiled with the convenience of natural cleaning products and diapers at my doorstep every month.  One less thing to think about is worth its weight in gold.  

18. MY PLANNER. I used an Erin Condren planner for the first nine months, but the school year had me itching for something new.  I was contemplating purchasing another expensive one when I ran across a girl on Instagram who had written: "While I adored my Erin Condren planner, I didn't want to pay that much again, as I want to use that money toward someONE else"...talk about God talking specifically to me!  Instead, I bought a cheap $10 one at Target and I've had so much fun making it my own.  

19. STITCH FIX. As extra motivation for weight loss, I scheduled a Stitch Fix box to arrive every other month.  I've had wonderful luck with stylists and have loved almost everything I've been sent.  Each time, I pick one item to keep...although some months, I want to keep it all!  Slowly, I'm creating a new wardrobe for the new me.  

20. TALENTI ICECREAM. Always in my freezer and I have some every night, even if it's just a bite.  Caramel Cookie Crunch, Mediterranean Mint and Sea Salt Caramel are my favorites.

21. MY J.  Just as sweet as he is rotten, this boy has taught me so many lessons on patience.  I am a better mamma because of him.  I am thankful for his big heart and helpful nature.  

22. MY CURLERS.  Postpartum hair loss hit me in a big way and my hair is crazy right now.  I wear it in a top knot most days, but when I'm feeling fancy, I throw in the curlers.  They heat up fast and create enough curl/wave in just a few minutes, which is about all the time I can spare.

23. SHE READS TRUTH. This community of women has been very influential in my life.  After an embarrassingly long hiatus, I've picked up my Bible again.  These devotionals are thought-provoking and speak straight to my heart.  

24. TARGET. Need I say more?  I can always guarantee to find something I need and it's rare that I leave without spending less than $50.  It's a blessing and a curse.

25. BLOGLOVIN'. I was sad to lose Google Reader, but have loved the switch to Bloglovin'.  I really like the ease in commenting on other blogs.

26. MINNETONKAS. Feels like I'm wearing slippers out and about.  And I found mine at Marshall's for a steal!

27. THE PENPAL PROJECT.  I am so blessed by the connections made with these women.  What started as a teeny idea in my heart has blossomed into something so much bigger!   

28. SOPHIA.  My sweet girl.  I have grown into a better woman because of her.  She lights up our lives in the very best way.  

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

{giving} Putting Poverty to Bed with Two Little Fish


When it comes to decorating my home, I'm always drawn to things that have a story.  Sophie's nursery is full of these things: the framed cross-stitch that her godmother made, a quilt lovingly stitched by her great-grandmother...they all have a story that I cannot wait to tell her someday.  So when I stumbled across Two Little Fish, I knew we needed to have a piece of that story too.  

Founded by Nicole Roswarski, Two Little Fish creates one-of-a-kind bedding sets using a combination of domestic fabric and fabric made in Ghana, Africa.  Nicole's mission is beautiful and inspiring.  She gives 100% of the profit away!  The African fabric is purchased directly from the artisans and then the proceeds from the bedding sets go toward a mattress for an AIDS orphan in South Africa.  Your purchase will help to do great things in the world!       


Even if you aren't in the market for new bedding, check out her new line of crib blankets!  The colors and designs are vibrant, fun and modern.  Sophie received the purple ivy and I just adore it.  The blanket is lightweight, yet cozy with its flannel backing.  I love that the size is substantial enough for smaller babies, but could still be a lovey as Sophie grows.
      


Be sure to check out the Two Little Fish shop for the current selection of custom bedding options.  Christmas is right around the corner!  You can also find them on Instagram (@twolittlefishinc).  If you're quick, you may be able to catch the end of the instaSALE and snag a crib blanket for 30% off!  


**I was given a discount on the blanket in exchange for a post, but all opinions are mine**

Friday, October 4, 2013

{around here} Week of 9.30.13


This week flew by!

Week one of Eat in October was successful and dare I admit, easy.  I planned dinners exclusively from the cookbook, Against All Grain, and they were all delicious.  I'm hoping with week two, I can stretch our grocery budget a bit more.

After a few weeks of perfect fall weather, the temps have risen to the 80's.  The boys have been wearing shorts and t-shirts!  We all seem to be getting sick in one way or another and I blame the back and forth temperatures.  

The response to the second round of the Penpal Circles has been so great.  We're up to 40 new ladies already!  I've been getting a head start on addressing envelopes and plan on shopping for the welcome packet "extras" this weekend.

I struggled through my runs this week, but got 'em done.  Sometimes you just have to push through the mind games and run anyway.  

During this morning's run, I listened to a podcast that interviewed Emily Freeman and wow.  So heart-stirring.  I'm still processing it.  If you listen to it, let me know!  I'd love to compare notes. :)

Favorite moment of the week: on our way to soccer practice, J fell asleep.  I loaded him into the stroller and he slept for a good 30 minutes by the field.  All of a sudden, I watched him open his eyes, look around sleepily and then belly laugh like he'd heard the funniest joke.  It was the kind of laugh that makes you chuckle yourself.  I'm not sure what he had been dreaming, but what a way to wake up!  My mamma heart was full.

Have a wonderful and relaxing weekend, friends!  

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