Thursday, April 6, 2017

March Monthly Review

Hello April! I’m glad to see you. As I’ve mentioned a ton, I love the start of a new year for a chance to get a fresh start. In a way I also think the start of a new month is an opportunity for a reset. March was a tough month in some ways but great in others. Regardless I am looking forward to April, it’s one of my favorite months in Florida, the weather is gorgeous and it’s really the kick-start of the Florida fun that this Florida girl loves.

But first a recap of all things March!

Financially March was great. I got my bonus at work and sent the entire check (minus the cost of a watch and a Kate Spade purse) to credit card debt. We are not free of debt but it’s great to see that number going down!

We also have been working on getting better with our budgets. We have been using and since it links every account it’s so helpful in seeing where our money is going.

We haven’t really put much into savings but we are getting to a point where we should be able to start that soon. I am focusing pretty heavily on debt at the moment and I feel I can’t do both well. Something has to give and so far for this year, that has been savings.

Health was pretty lackluster in March. Over the month I worked out only eleven times. I have been battling some things with my body and getting back to a new post-partum norm which was holding me back physically and emotionally. It seems that’s all in check so I am hoping for a stronger April in this area.

As far as Family goals go we did a decent job. We went to Disney for Macie’s birthday, had a date night with me and the hubs, I had a date with Henley to see Beauty and the Beast while Dad had some alone time with Macie. Overall a great month in this area.

Personally I did ok. It was review time at work and being a manager and having people to deliver reviews to is so mentally and emotionally exhausting. I am not confrontational and I do not like delivering negative reviews, even when deserved, so the last two weeks here were rough. I didn’t post much on my blog and I didn’t stay on top of my Writing Course either. April will be better, it has to be right!

Looking forward to this month I am embarking on the #the100dayproject and am focusing on lettering, I’m planning to start there anyways----we will see where this leads me. I love having something creative (and managable) to focus on for 100 days. Follow me on Instagram to stay in the loop with my daily posts.

Tomorrow is Friday and I’ve really had a great week. I will be sharing some things I’ve been loving this week either tomorrow or Saturday, stay tuned!!!


Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday Faves

Happy Friday Friends! This week was long. We went to Disney last weekend and having no days off to wind down made this week feel like an extension of last week. I'm looking forward to this weekend full of nothing to do.

I thought I'd share some things I'm loving lately.

This picture from last weekend in Disney.

I just finished Jodi Picoult's latest book Small Great Things It was such a great book. It was tough to read at times but I think it was an important read, very relevant to our current times. 

The Coffee + Crumbs podcast is back!!! I was so excited to see this pop up on my feed this week.

I signed up for Amanda Arneill's free Watercolor Lettering course this week and while I haven't had an opportunity to complete all five lessons I have done three and I look forward to the other two. I enjoyed using the practice sheets and hearing her tips was really helpful. She offers a few courses and lots of resources on her site. Check it out if you are interested in lettering. 

I purchased a set of Mad Hatter Tea in Disney World with a mug that actually looks like the cups from the ride (swoon!) I've only tried the Mad Tea Party blend but it is great, a blend of ginger, apricots, and peaches in a black tea. I'm such a fan. It is available on Amazon if you'd like to snatch one up for yourself. 

Lastly, this Detox dry shampoo is amazing! Just ordered another bottle of it and I highly recommend. I can usually go up to four days between washings with it! I also just ordered the dry conditioner to try out. I've never heard of anyone using dry conditioner before but it has amazing reviews so we shall see.

I hope you all have a great weekend ahead full of relaxation. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

March 2017 Goals Update

I posted at the beginning of the year that this year for me would be intentional. Intentional in time with my family, intentional in spending money, intentional in what I did with my free time, and intentional with where my life is taking me.

I laid out some goals and since today it's the beginning of March, I thought it’d be a great time to check in.

Financial Goals:

We created budgets on and have been diligent about checking them weekly. Every Monday morning I have a reminder on my calendar to log in and see where we are. This has help bring perspective to what we are spending and also helping to hold us accountable.

To be honest we’ve gone over in budgets both months but mostly due to things like unexpected increases in daycare costs, adding Macie to the weekend gymnastics fun, Macie’s birthday that I didn’t budget for, and finance charges on credit card debt that we are paying off soon. I am planning to reassess our budget this month to account for these increases and also to account for the bonus I’m getting which will be going straight to debt! (Adulting is hard)

Started college funds for the girls which will kick in this April, another budget adjustment.

Still need to work on savings but that will get easier once some debt is paid down this month. I want to focus on debt paydown and then we will have funds freed up for savings.

Family Goals:

Disney Trips for the girls’ birthdays - Since we have annual passes I want to ensure we are getting ours money’s worth. We are planning a trip Friday for Macie’s birthday. All of the reservations and FastPasses are made and ready to go.

Weekly lunch dates with the hubs - I’ve been slacking on lunch dates with the hubs since I’ve been working out on lunch. I need to get better about carving out at least one day a week for him and me. I love getting out of the office and having alone time with him, even if just for an hour.

Monthly date nights with hubs. We haven’t had any date nights either, add to the list for March.

Monthly dates with the girls alone. I had a few lunch dates with Henley during the week since I am trying to get her to not nap at school, that battle deserves its own post. Husband had a day alone with Macie picking strawberries and playing with the ponies at his dad’s house too.

Health Goals:

Workout 3-4 times a week - I’ve been working out more than my goal, six days a week all month! YaY! I’ve been doing Hammer and Chisel this month and loving it. Four weeks to go. I've been a little off this week and with Disney Friday through Sunday I imagine I'll be redoing week five next week.

I've been drinking my Shakeology daily and have been meal planning and prepping which has been huge for ensuring I have a healthy lunch.

I’ve been hitting my step goal most days, 24 days this month to be exact!!

Personal Goals:

Blog twice a week - January was a good month but February was a little sparse. I chose working on other creative outlets over writing this month but I am planning to get some more out there in the next few weeks.

Monthly updates to photo book----total fail. Haven’t started this at all for 2017.

Reading challenge of 35 books this year - I am on book five so a little behind. I’ve tried to read two different books this year that are nonfiction, more focused on self-improvement and I lost interest after much forceful reading. I think for me reading is a relaxing, fun way to wrap up my day and those books didn’t do it for me. I found myself preferring to scroll through Facebook or Pinterest instead. Two of the books I’ve read so far:

Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner: This was one book that wasn’t a fiction but I loved it and would highly recommend. This book isn’t full of how-to’s or tips on becoming a minimalist but instead packed with experiences and overall enlightening. I found myself constantly reassessing my priorities and looking at where I spend efforts in my day to day.

I also read Truly, Madly, Guilty from Liane Moriarty. I typically love her books but this was one overall frustrating. “Just get to the point!” was something I found myself thinking constantly through this book.

Stay creative - I’ve definitely been excelling in this area between the blog, writing with the Year of Creativity, photography, and lettering. Check out my latest watercolor/lettering I posted to Instagram.

Stay above the Bullshit! I’ve been doing relatively well here also. See my post on Maintaining the Balance.

Intention---just calling it out as something I needed in my life has been huge for me so far this year. I love the awareness it’s created with my life. I feel much more in control. I also think being out of the baby stages with the girls has been a huge help. I’m not nursing or pumping and the girls sleep through the night most nights. We are still up early but at least the 2am wake ups are a thing of the past (knock on wood). I’m feeling more human every day.

How are you doing on any goals you set for the year? Keep going! I know you’ve got this!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Macie is TWO!

I cannot believe it but today is Macie's second birthday! These last two years have flow by but in the same breath it feels like Macie has always been a part of our family. We've been doing a lot of celebrating this week for her, I like to make their birthdays special and this one was no exception.

We hosted a farm party this past weekend with some neighborhood friends and a friend from school. I found a place that will bring a petting zoo to you. It was great. They came and set up, provided food for the children to feed the animals throughout the hour, and cleaned up when they left. I was worried about only getting the animals for an hour but the kids were about done around the 45 minute mark. It was a huge hit and the kids love it.

I planned this party coming down from the peak holiday season and truthfully didn't want to host anything. Because of that, I was determined for the food to be either store-bought or catered. Between this and Amazon, this was by far the easiest party I've ever hosted, I'm not sure I'll ever go back!

I used a cut file from the Silhouette Design Store to make these super cute hats. The girls loved them. They were relatively easy and took about an hour and a half to make over the course of a few days.
Silhouette Hat File

Favor boxes were filled with all kinds of farm themed goodies (here, here, here, and here)
Favor boxes

Now for the best part, the animals! The kids were so excited it was virtually impossible to get good pictures but them having fun really is the point, not perfect pictures right!?

I am so excited for what this year is to bring us and Macie. She is learning so much---counting, sentences, and even potty training this week (day four today and almost no accidents). She is so spunky and tough but sweet on the inside. She will pull your hair and run away laughing but if you cough she is right there to pat your back. This year has been great and I love having this special little person in our family. She completes us!

Happy March everyone!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

When I Was a Little Girl...

I’m sitting at my computer, Henley looks over my shoulder and sees an advertisement for an animated unicorn toy. Unicorns are all the rage for four year olds if you didn’t know. It’s $79 and she immediately says she needs it so much, like right now! I start trying to figure out for which occasion I could get this for her---Easter is all I got. We don’t typically get them gifts like this for Easter but if not then, when, her birthday and Christmas just passed.

A few days pass by. She hasn’t mentioned the unicorn but I’m still thinking of it, thinking of how excited she would be if I got it for her. She doesn’t need a unicorn. Why do I feel the need to get this for her? On Easter morning if she awakes to a basket full of candy-filled eggs and sidewalk chalk she will be just as thrilled. Will she look back and think of the unicorn toy she never got? What do I remember from being a little girl myself?

When I was a little girl I had a best friend that I was inseparable from. We had sleepovers and made friendship bracelets. We went to church together and even lived in the same neighborhood.

When I was a little girl I loved being outside. I would “paint” on the driveway at my papa’s house with water. I’d help him around the yard and pick oranges from the orange trees. I would make stinky mud pies with my brother. I would give concerts in my backyard, singing whatever tune was blaring from my mini cassette tape player, most likely Manic Monday.

When I was a little girl I remember being so excited to open a brand new box of crayons and a pack of colorful construction paper. I would make paper chains and color for hours with my mom and siblings.

When I was a little girl I remember having homemade cakes, made by my mom every year on my birthday, my favorite was a chocolate one that had pink ballet slippers on it.

When I was a little girl I remember eating pink heart shaped waffles with strawberries on Valentine’s morning and green shamrock waffles on St. Patrick's day.

When I was a little girl I loved writing in my journal or diary. I loved creating stories with illustrations. My characters usually were named Tiffany or Stacy and always had great friends, sometimes they even had a little sister just like me.

When I was a little girl I felt loved and taken care of. I was happy. I don’t remember if I had the latest and greatest toys, I assume not since we weren’t the most well off. I don’t remember taking elaborate trips or expensive vacations. I didn’t have the latest name brand shoes or clothes. I look back and remember being happy. I remember fighting with my siblings on long road trips to Georgia or North Carolina, taking special care to annoy my older brother. I remember stopping at rest stops to eat food my mother had packed, typically sandwiches or fried chicken. I remember rolling down small hills outside of our hotel room and catching fireflies.

In this world we live in, this world of more, we can easily get caught up with always wanting more. I myself am extremely guilty of this and have been working on it lately. I could go through the trouble to get this unicorn for her that would quickly start collecting dust in the corner in hopes of seeing my little girl light up, of winning the title of “best mom” in her mind. But honestly at the end of the day all I want is for my girls to feel more loved today than they did yesterday, to know that happiness doesn’t come in a box. I want them to look back at this time and remember dance parties in the living room, making cupcakes and messes in the kitchen, and an occasional skip out of school for a lunch date. I need to keep reminding myself of this, in the rush of life and the hustle of tomorrow we must always live in today, relish in sticky kisses and stinky feet, dirty floors and handprints on windows. Who knows, in December when her birthday rolls back around I might end up getting the unicorn but for today, I am just going to snuggle with my girls and enjoy this moment and keep creating memories for them to look back on.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Valentine Cuties

In an effort to keep working on being more creative this year, I decided to have a little photoshoot with the girls.  I found these adorable dresses at Old Navy and thought they would be perfect for Valentine pictures. My plan was to take the girls to the park with a few Valentine props to get some cute pictures. After nap we loaded everyone up and headed to the place I was thinking. This spot is at a small community center with great tree coverage and a playset. We go to pull in and see there is an event there, bummer but not terrible. We decide to head downtown for the park that is on the river---perfect scenery and the girls would have a nice playset to play on when we finished! We get to the first block of the downtown area and realize there is a Art Festival this weekend. Traffic, both car and foot, was terrible. We didn't even get near the park and I already knew it would be busy. We kept driving through and stopped at a little fountain in front of our hospital. The girls were not at all cooperative, upset there was no playground after all of this driving. I got a few but we decide to call it quits head back home to the playground by our house for the girls.

We pull in and there is a Lacrosse tournament of some sort happening, cars parked everywhere, games going on and big kids all over the park. We let the kids play for a bit but the older kids were just being too rough. I was annoyed, no pictures after an hour and a half, the girls were upset that they didn't get to play in the park, everyone was grumpy on the way home--myself included.

When we got home I decided to give the girls their much deserved lollipops and then try to see if I could snap a few cute pictures. The girls mostly cooperated and I got some cute pictures after all of that. Success finally!!!

In summary, we loaded everyone up, drove for an hour and a half around town and ended up getting pictures in our backyard. Such is life! At least I got some pictures to play with and had an opportunity to play around some more with Lightroom.

Enjoy some of my favorites!

I hope you are having a great weekend so far! 

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Season of Colic

I sat in my hospital bed, sore and lonely. I was nursing my beautiful new baby, yet again, through the pain. I have been here before, I shouldn't have been surprised by the pain. She was crying and inconsolable and I was overwhelmed. My eyes were puffy from crying, I could feel it.


Maternity leave is a blur for the most part. There are things that stick out such as some sort of white noise in every room because that is the only sound that would quiet her cries. Bouncing, lots of bouncing, bouncing in the bathroom because the fan was running, bouncing in the kitchen in front of the running stove vent, bouncing outside to keep her from waking the toddler. Walks in the stroller with people looking as I tried so hard to find the perfect white noise for her on my cell phone. Google at 5pm and 7pm and 3am. Venting to my mom friends and the godsend that is Amazon Prime. Receiving shipments daily that contained colic calm, gas drops, gripe water, baby heating pads, probiotic drops, and even the Windi (just google it, it's not a moment I am proud of). Desperation, that is a clear feeling I remember along with helplessness. My baby was miserable, if she was awake and not crying it was a good day. I had no answers but I tried everything I possibly could to figure it out. I never stopped trying. I blamed my diet, my oversupply, I thought she had reflux, I think somewhere between the oversupply and reflux I landed on "it's just colic".

"Just colic" are two words that should not ever be said together. Colic is life changing. Colic feels defeating. Colic makes you feel like a failure. Colic makes you doubt every decision you make, from your breakfast choices to how you hold you child. Colic is maddening. Colic makes you angry and then guilty for being angry at this little helpless child and then sad for this child, she must be in so much pain. I clearly remember crying right along with her many nights. She would be crying, I would be bouncing her and crying myself.

There was one night I remember in particular, seven weeks into this new life of ours. I walked out of her room, tears in my eyes. I needed to step away and tag in my husband. He looked at me and said "Well that's not too bad, it took seven weeks for you to get to this point". I looked at him and said "Not quite, I cry almost every night". He's not at all to blame for not being as involved in this process as I was. He was taking care of our oldest and since I was nursing and not pumping, he couldn't really take over the feedings. During those nights I felt very alone. I felt alone even though I read post after post about other moms experiencing this same thing and despite everyone giving me a time frame where it would likely get better, it felt like I'd never get there.

Most people said by twelve weeks, all of this would go away. This felt like unattainable. I wasn't sure how much more I could take. It made me extremely sad to know that the only twelve weeks I would get alone with her would be spent in this state. It felt impossible.

Despite all of my doubt and dread, she did get better. Around ten weeks she stopped crying as much and we even had a nice ending to my maternity leave. Those ten weeks were some of the hardest times in my life. I felt like a bad mother for not being able to fix her, not even mentioning the lack of time I was spending with my oldest.

In the end this is all a distant memory. I now have a spunky almost two year old that is still a lot of work but it's a much easier type of work in comparison. Our nights are now spent reading her favorite books, which lately has been "all of them", instead of bouncing and crying together. Our days together are full of painting and bubbles and dress-up. It gets better.

If you are in this season of life, I see you. I see your tears and I see your frustration. Focus on the end, have hope for the end. It will end. Your little baby will get bigger and grow out of this phase. You will become a normal, functioning member of your community again. You are doing everything right. You are a great mom even though I know at time it doesn't feel like it. Pretty soon you will be worrying about teething and crawling and introducing new foods. Motherhood is never void of opportunities for worry but this specific season of worry will end, I promise.