Beach Life

I hope everyone enjoyed their long weekend and I hope you're getting back into the swing of things, wherever you might be. I'm at the beach, by the way! We road tripped with our little guy for his first ever beach vacation. We are here in North Carolina with all of Jared's family and we are living it up. As much as you can with a one-year-old ;) Not to scare anyone... but a portion of our roadtrip was BRUTAL. T was just not having it but somehow we made it and we're trying to soak in any relaxation we can. This pretty pink house we're renting certainly helps.
And getting to have an anniversary date night out at the beach was pretty awesome too :)

I can't wait to share more from our vacation and catch up with you all, too!

Stronger Than Ever

It seems like my blog has been one thing to celebrate after another lately. I guess April and May are just a busy time of partying in our world ;) Today marks an extra special day, though. Jared and I are celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary!

The past year was probably the most challenging, memorable and incredible year of our marriage thus far. Last May 28th we were getting to know our 2-day old baby in the hospital after a whirlwind delivery.  Each year is so different and I love looking back at what's changed in our marriage and in our lives. This past year was certainly a life-changer.

Having a child changed who we are as individuals and as a couple. I now understand more than ever how important quality time with your spouse is. Before T was born, every day was all about us! We could ditch our dinner plans for a night out at the drop of a hat. Jared could go out on an ice cream run at 11pm just because. If a Groupon caught our attention we could buy it and hop in the car for a roadtrip with hardly any notice. Those things are few and far between (or non-existent in some cases!) but that doesn't mean we can't make every day special together.

In the past year, we often went days where we hardly talked about anything except T. We rarely had date nights out of the house. It was hard. It was an adjustment. But after the realization that hey, we need to try a little harder- it impacted me in great ways. Jared is an incredible husband, father and friend and I don't want him to ever forget any of those things. I don't want us to be so focused on our roles of mom and dad, that we forget to be husband and wife.

Our marriage has been challenged and changed and stretched in the past year, but today on our 6th anniversary I feel that it is stronger than ever. Putting the extra effort in and nurturing our marriage is something I never ever want to stop doing. I love you, Jared! So happy to be on this adventure of life together.

Happy Birthday, T!

My brain cannot process the fact that it's been an entire year since T joined our family. A year ago today I was in the hospital, anxious and excited that meeting our son was about to become a reality. Time is truly the greatest thief of all.
7 hours before we met you!!!

I don't even know how to put into words what this child means to me. It's all those cliche things you hear and roll your eyes at but then wind up realizing they're pretty accurate. He's the light of our lives. The hard days are all worth it. You didn't know you could love someone this much. Blah, blah, blah... they're all true though. T, your dad and I love you beyond what we could ever express. You've challenged us and changed us in your short year of life; I can't imagine what lies ahead for all of us. A lot of fun, I hope ;)
3 weeks old♥
It's easy to reminisce and look back on your tiny baby days with fondness and even a bit of sadness because it truly goes so fast. But I also get excited about each new thing you learn and each phase I know we still have ahead of us. It feel like I blink my eyes and you've mastered a new skill or suddenly you're doing something so hilarious we can't stop laughing.

Thank you little boy, for making me a mom. For being silly and ticklish. For loving long walks at the park and throughout the neighborhood. For being such a good eater and an even better sleeper. Thank you for your patience with me as I learn about you and what makes you tick. Thank you for the open mouth kisses and the very, very occasional snuggle you let me have. You are simply the best. Happy Birthday, sweet T.
1st Birthday party

Some stats about you at age ONE:

  • I'm guessing you're around 22-23 pounds but I won't know for sure until your well-check in a couple weeks.
  • You wear all 12 month clothes right now, but I can tell we'll be moving to 18 month clothes pretty soon. *Sidenote, I wish they made 15-month clothes.
  • You've truly been an amazing sleeper all along and I am forever grateful for that. You still take 2 naps a day and you sleep 11+ hours straight every single night. 
  • You love all food and trying new ones never seems to phase you. Blueberries and cheese seem to get you most excited though ;)
  • You're not walking yet, but I feel like it is very close. You love cruising around the furniture (especially in the new house with more room!) and you're starting to test things out by trying to let go, but you still fall on your booty at this point.
  • Music makes you so happy and you love to dance and clap your hands.
  • We don't let you watch much TV, just a few minutes here and there when I need to get something done or on the occasional morning where I'm just not awake yet. You definitely recognize Mickey though and I want to take you to Disney SO BADLY!!!
  • You don't like being in your carseat a lot of days, which makes for a very whiney ride somewhere. Other days, you don't care at all and you're happy to sit back with your books and enjoy the ride.
*Post coming soon on one-year of motherhood. Warning, I have a lot to say/confess.

1,000 Books

Something I've loved about being a mom has been introducing T to the love of books and reading. He truly loves flipping through books and as a biased momma I think it's the most adorable thing ever. He has favorites that he gets excited to see and I love his little inquisitive face when we get a new book for him to check out. 

Library storytime is already a favorite activity at ours. We've only made it a few times lately because of all the chaos, but T absolutely loves it and I know it'll be a regular part of our routine again soon. On our last visit there, I picked up an informational brochure to see what else was going on at the library in the coming months. Apparently there is a program called 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten so of course I asked about it!

It's as simple and to the point as the name of the program. I registered T for it which only took a few minutes. Then you can track the reading online if you want, or they give you a log sheet for older kids that might like seeing their progress. Obviously we are reading to T right now, but that counts too! They want you to count each story you read to them, stories they hear at daycare, the library, while a family member is visiting, anything! As long as your child listens to the entire book, it counts. *The program says to count repeat reads over and over again, but I'm not planning on doing that. I love the idea that T has "read" 1,000 unique books before Kindergarten!

Again, T is obviously a little young for some aspects, but as he gets older there is more fun stuff too they'll enjoy. Each time your kid reads 100 books you can bring your log sheet to your local library and get a sticker/prize or some type of goodie bag. Once you finish your 1,000 books you can come in for a celebration and a free book to keep.

So all of our county libraries participate in the program which I thought was so cool and worth sharing. If you aren't local, be sure to check here and see if your library does the same thing. Anything that encourages a love of reading is worth talking about!

His First Birthday Party

Hey world! I'm alive! And live in a new home! And already hosted a party! Yes, all of those !!!s were necessary. It has been one crazy week - but who am I kidding? Our life has been crazy since the beginning of February. But we're finally at the finish line. We're in our new home and hosting T's first birthday party was honestly a good way to kick us into unpacking mode and get a lot done in a few days. Now that all the big things are in the house, we can take our time getting organized and decorating- which is the fun part!

But back to T's party. It was such a special, low-key afternoon with just our immediate family and I loved it. I totally forgot to take a picture of the food spread, but it wasn't anything too crazy ;) The usual party type of food, including my crack dip. Everyone got to see the new house and then spoil our little guy for his first birthday (which by the way, isn't officially until this Friday! He's still my baby!!) He acted shy at first with that many people around but quickly warmed up and enjoyed opening all his gifts and ripping into the paper.

Plus, he got his first taste of something really sweet and he definitely enjoyed himself. I'm not sure how much of it he actually got into his mouth but he certainly enjoyed what he was tasting. Sidenote- I am still trying to get all the cake out of each crevice of his highchair.

Jared and I both felt so sentimental after his party. We looked through countless photos and videos from the past 12 months and truly marveled over the fact that our little boy is turning one. People always tell you how fast it goes, but I seriously can't get over it. We love seeing his personality blossom and we love watching him learn things every day. I might not always love the whining or the teething, but T is so SO worth every struggle and every stinky diaper ;)

Closing Day!

It's finally here! We'll be closing on the new house this afternoon and spending the next few days moving in and unpacking. I am weirdly excited about the unpacking process. Packing everything to move out of a place sucks... just no way around it. But knowing we're about to settle into a home for years and years, finding the perfect place for all our things? That is going to be so much fun! Sure, we'll be sore and tired from hauling in box after box but it's going to be SO worth it.

The new house will probably feel pretty empty for awhile. Since it's much larger than our previous home, we definitely have some furniture shopping to do as we settle in. I'm not in a hurry to get it all decorated ASAP, as I think it's going to take us some time to figure out what we like and how we want to style things. Almost all the furniture we've owned has been hand-me-downs or Craigs List finds, so I'm pumped to invest in some nicer things that will hopefully last us a long time.

So we'll be a little busy for the next few days. If you don't hear from me, I may be buried in cardboard boxes ;) Oh, yeah- and we'll be hosting T's first birthday party Sunday afternoon. We are definitely crazy people, but I just didn't want to wait and put it off for weeks which I know would have happened. It was hard enough finding a date that most of our family could attend so we're just rolling with it. We're keeping the party low-key with just immediate family members but I can't wait to celebrate our little guy.

I'm sure no one will be surprised by this, but we went with a Mickey theme. It's pretty much giving me the Disney trip itch more than ever. I cannot wait to take T there one day! But for now, some balloons and party hats will have to be enough ;)

I will be MIA for a few days, so I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

The Final Countdown

Now that we have a pass to the Cincinnati Zoo I pretty much want to go every single day! We got our second visit in over the weekend and had such a good time. It was a little chilly that day with threats of rain so it didn't feel very crowded which was awesome. T especially loved getting to see some of the new zoo babies that were out and about. The little 3-month-old tiger cubs were just so adorable and were really putting on a show for us all.

We also did a "final" shopping trip over the weekend for house stuff we need ASAP. We picked out our refrigerator as well as our washing machine which will both get delivered the day after we close. We close this Thursday, by the way!! I can't believe it's finally here. Time has gone so slow, but also so fast somehow. Time's weird like that, but regardless, we are ready to get into our new house and start unpacking.

Though we didn't actually purchase anything, we also spent some time browsing a few furniture stores and getting ideas for future decorating. A new master bedroom suite is in our future and hopefully a cool coffee table, too. We looked at some very traditional pieces like this one, but I'm also a sucker for a bold ottoman like this instead of a table.

Our Mother's Day was lowkey, but I got all the gifts I needed from my little boy. JUST this week he started saying "mama" consistently (!!!) and I also have been getting lots of open-mouth kisses from him, too. I'm still in shock that we're about to celebrate his first birthday. It's the final countdown to all the craziness!

A Few Shout Outs

This week has been determined to get the best of me. Car problems (ugh- aren't those always the worst?) and drama and stress and moving hassles. I'm pretty beat to put it lightly. However, something pretty awesome happened this week so I have to give a shout out to my man for a minute. Jared got a promotion at work and I am SO proud of him! It'll be an all new role doing something completely different but I know he's going to be great at it. He starts in a couple of weeks and I can't wait to see him start rocking it.

Another small shout out goes to my former boss. Usually when anyone retires or leaves the company there is at least a small get together and usually some parting gifts. Since I left on maternity leave and then decided I wouldn't be back, I never really got anything like that- which was understandable. But when I popped back in to say hello they had a few surprises for me! My last ticket design signed by all the players on them and also a game-used helmet! My jaw dropped, it was so unexpected. Love that place, love those people.

And of course I couldn't post today and not give a big ole' shout out to my momma on Mother's Day weekend. Life is crazy (we are both moving right now!) but I'm still looking forward to seeing her at some point this weekend and telling her how much she rocks.

My mom and Mamaw- love these ladies!
And shout-out to all the mothers in my life. Mom, mom-in-law, grandmas, aunts, sister, friends. You all impact me and inspire me as a new mother myself. I hope this weekend is special for everyone in some way. I'm looking forward to my first mother's day with my boys!

That List

Back in 2013 I made the ever-so-popular "30 before 30" list. Now that my 30th birthday has come and went, I wanted to look back at that list I made and reflect on what I actually accomplished. If you click on the original post I did, there are links to anything I did and blogged about, which is quite a few, if you're interested!
On my 30th Birthday with my main man♥

THINGS 100% DONE: 19
1. Run a 1/2 marathon.
2. Be completely debt free (minus the house).
5. Be a mom.
6. Organize/Simplify our house, top to bottom.
9. Host a holiday meal.
11. Get at least 2 more stamps on my passport.
14. Upgrade the floors/carpeting in our home.
15. Get professional pictures taken of Jared and I.
16. Visit as many new cities/states as possible.
17. Regularly donate to charity.
18. Watch every movie we own.
19. Throw Jared a fantastic 30th birthday party.
20. Go on a spontaneous weekend getaway.
23. Visit DisneyWorld
24. Anonymously help someone in need.
27. Go to a state fair 
28. Update my camera/lenses
29. Grow my hair out and donate to Locks of Love.
30. Read 15 new books each year.

Things still-in-progress or at least still on the radar: 6
4. Finish my novel and submit it for publishing. 
8. Treat myself to a day at the spa.
12. Get involved in our church.
13. Visit 2 more NFL stadiums.
21. Be up-to-date on all family/yearly photobooks.
26. Become an early riser.

Thoughts: I still dream of finishing my book one day. It hasn't been a priority for me, but I hope someday to make it one. Spa day will eventually happen one of these days, too. I thought about doing it to celebrate my 30th but with the new home purchase I couldn't justify that kinda' splurge. Because I'm definitely talking a full day of pampering.

- Being involved in a church is a huge goal Jared and I both share. We've had a hard time connecting and feeling like we've found a church "home" in our area. Once we decide where we'd like to be and where we want T to grow up, I hope we can find a way to connect.

- I only made it to one additional NFL stadium in the past few years, but I did get to visit it twice if that counts for anything! I love seeing new sports stadiums/arenas/ballparks but in the NFL it's not super realistic to make it to regular away games.

- My family photobooks are a constant work in progress and while I'm not totally up-to-date I continue to chug right along on them. I try to set aside at least an hour a week to sit down and knock out a few pages of whatever my current book is.

- And I'm an early riser by default now that we have a kid. But I still moan and groan about it. Maybe part 2 of becoming an early riser is figuring out how to not hate it ;)

Things I don't care about anymore: 5
3. Give up pop for 60 days straight.
7. Grow this blog to 2,000 readers.
10. Crochet a gift for someone.
22. Get a promotion.
25. Restore an antique piece of furniture.

Thoughts: Okay, I should care about the pop thing, I know- but hear me out. I drink significantly less pop than I did a few years ago. And I honestly might have went without for 60 days at some point, but I never made a real effort to track it. While pregnant I stayed away from caffeine as much as I could, but the occasional orange soda still sounded good ;) I don't make a habit out of pop anymore, but it's still a treat I enjoy here and there. So be it.

- My blog is still something I'm proud of and I do hope it can continue to grow. When I made this list, the "GFC" widget was about the only way of tracking followers so I pulled that number to use as a goal. Now that people follow in countless ways, it's tougher to track how many actual people are reading. My blog stats stay steady/occasionally rise, so I feel good about that. Since having a baby I haven't put the time into it like I used to (I truly don't know how I cranked out so many posts back in the day!) but I try to still consistently show up here and write. While it's fun to generate some freebies and even a little cash, I am less concerned about the numbers.

- Crocheting and restoring an antique? Yeah, I just don't have an interest in those things right now and don't know if I ever will. Plain and simple.

- Getting a promotion... does being a mom count? ;) Kidding. I obviously wrote this while I was still working full time for the NFL. I work part-time right now from home and it's absolutely perfect for our current stage of life. Who knows what career path I will take in the future, so it's just not relevant right now to worry about.

Whew, if you're still with me I am super impressed. This was a looong recap of a simple list, but it was fun to look back at it and think about how my goals and hopes in life have changed in the course of a few years. When I made this list I had no idea this is what my life would look like. Funny thing about life isn't it? No matter how many goals or plans you have, you'll always be thrown curveballs. You'll always be presented with new paths to take. And you certainly can't plan it out the way you'd like things to happen because newsflash- it won't happen that way!!

I'll continue to be a list maker and a goal setter, it's just who I am. But I think I can let up on the hard goal lists like this one for awhile. For now I just want to enjoy life and learn to accept that you can't orchestrate your whole life down to every last note and pause. Plus, there's no way I'm making a 40 before 40 list. That is just too far away! ;)

NEW HOME: Outdoor Living

Something Jared and I are looking forward to is having an awesome outdoor living area to enjoy at our new house. While we had an okay backyard at our previous house, it was an odd shape and we really just didn't utilize it like we could have. Our new house will have a small-ish, flat yard with a deck and no neighbors right behind us, yay! That was a huge selling point for us when we picked out our lot so I look forward to spending lots of time back there this summer and fall.

As always, when I search Pinterest I had to type "outdoor living space" but then quickly realized the need to add the words "on a budget" because.... shew! I don't know who Pinterest thinks I am, but we will not have outdoor flatscreens, (Jared wishes) double grills built into stone or a waterfall into a pool. I just needed some good inspiration though and I think I found some!

I absolutely love this before and after. This blogger did this makeover with mostly thrifted things and it's just adorable. I am all about some cozy seating and some fun lights to add to the atmosphere. She did buy her string lights from Target and I plan on getting these from Urban Outfitters. I fell in love with them last summer and never pulled the trigger on them but for about $30 I think I will this time!

I'm not super picky on the furniture, just something affordable but still comfy and durable. That shouldn't be too hard, right? ;) I go back and forth on if we'll actually put a table/chairs set out there or just do lounging furniture like couches. I like the idea of a high-top table for two, and then maybe a couch for additional seating? Then again if I just got this mega couch below I wouldn't need anything else, haha!


We'll have other outdoor projects and things to do right away, too. Like deciding what kind of fence to put up and where to plant a couple of trees. I know absolutely nothing about choosing trees for a yard, but we want to complete that project quickly so they can get growing. So sure, while an outdoor living space isn't exactly a top priority, it's definitely something I am getting excited about. It feels like an area I can kinda' just go crazy with and that is what makes it so fun. Orange furniture, anyone??

Anyone want to show off their outdoor party area? Give me some suggestions or ideas?? :)

A Full Weekend

Whew... what a weekend. A full weekend where my heart feels happy and my tank is filled up with love. I got so much quality time with my favorite people that I'm confident I can take on whatever this week may bring. It was a weekend full of:

- Cotton candy clouds

- Delicious 5-ingredient muffins (recipe sharing soon!)

-Game nights with friends

-To-Do lists a mile long but at least all my things are in one place.

-Walks through our new house that is getting oh-so-close to being done!

-A library book sale where we spent $5 and walked away with dozens of books and CDs.

-Laughs and silly antics with my boy.
He totally needs these shoes to finish off the whole outfit ;)

-Conversations about life with my hubby.

-Last minute mexican dinners that taste amazing.

-And the final countdown before we get into our new house. Time is going so fast (as always) but now that we're in the home stretch before our home is ready to move-in, it seems things can't go fast enough. We are getting so excited to unpack in that new house and finally settle into a home we love. It's kinda' my whole world right now, so let's just keep prayin' our timeline stays accurate. We are ready!!! ;) Hope y'all had a wonderful weekend!

Vacation with a Baby (HELP!)

It's a rainy, dreary day in Cincinnati and it looks like most of the weekend will be the same. Makes me want to curl up in bed with a couple good books for the next few days. I don't remember the last time I was able to do that, though. Maybe on vacation I'll get a opportunity to? ;) We're going on a big family vacation in few weeks and I'm looking forward to that time away at the beach.

I've been trying to remind myself that vacation with a 1-year-old will not be like any other vacation we've ever been on. Wonderful and full of fun times, but also challenging and probably not quite as relaxing ha! Jared and I have already started brainstorming ways to make the long drive a little more enjoyable for everyone. Fun kids music for T to listen to, new books and a couple toys stashed away that will be new and exciting for the car. 

I got him (aka, us!) a little toddler backpack to keep his stuff organized in the car, but I am in search of something, moms! Is there anything to put around/next to the carseat to prevent the abyss of lost toys?? T always drops his stuff down in the crevice where we can't reach it while in the front seat. I know they make things to wedge in between front seats of a car, but I can't seem to find anything. I might just be wadding up a blanket to keep things from falling. #solution

We've got SPF 2 billion, a floaty device with a sunshade; he's got a swim gear, a bucket hat, sand toys... what else are baby must haves that I might not be thinking of? Luckily, we are renting a house right on the beach so we'll be close to all our stuff when we need to head back in for naps or meals. We'll be there a week though so I need all the advice, people!

Currently: May Edition

I love this link-up! Have I mentioned that every time I've written a post for it? Probably. Oh, well ;) It's another edition of "Currently" with Anne and her co-host this month is Nancy. Join in, comment, link-up, meet new friends. Ready, go! 

Baking - Truthfully, I can't remember the last time I baked anything. Since we are living in someone else's home we've split dinner duty, but I certainly haven't been getting all Martha Stewart over here. Although I'm definitely dreaming of what I can make in our new kitchen very, very soon!

Listening (to) - Lots of classical music in the car. So within the past couple of weeks T has decided he really does not like his carseat and is sure to let us know it. For the entire drive. If you catch my drift. I've tried a few different things with no luck, but putting on a classical music radio station seems to help him chill out some. It's still not perfect, but it's an improvement and I'll take it.

Loving - How close we are to moving into our new house. It's all Jared and I can do to not drive over and see it every single day. We are just a couple weeks away which doesn't even seem possible!

Planting - Again, nothing, seeing as we don't have anywhere to plant anything yet. However, we did receive a really nice plant from Jared's grandma's funeral (in March) that will be a lovely treasure in our new home.

Remembering - That everything in life is a season, a phase. A mom friend mentioned it recently and it's just so true. It's a great reminder when you have kids, but it can be applied to any situation, I think. Whether it's a job scenario, an opportunity, a dream you're chasing or something you're struggling with like a health issue or a broken heart. Nothing lasts forever and you ARE strong enough to make it through whatever season you're currently in. 

Psst- Next month I get to cohost this linkup with Anne and I'm pretty pumped. Put it on your calendar- June 7th!! :)

Oh, Happy May!

Ohhhh, Happy May! ♥ I have been looking forward to this month for what seems like forever now so I'm thrilled it's actually here. We soaked up the last little bit of April with lots of good (hot!) weather over the weekend. As always, April was gone in a blink of an eye but for once that was okay with me. We just have so much to celebrate this month that I hope somehow it can slow down a little for us all.

This month will bring:

- FINALLY moving into our new home!!! 

- T's first birthday/party

- Jared and I celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary.

- A family vacation

And hopefully just lots of good times all around. It seems like life just took off at the very start of 2017 and hasn't slowed down since. I'm ready to be in our house and be able to take our time decorating and deciding how to make it a home. Finally being settled without a pressing deadline of anything is going to feel amazing. Except...

...I am considering hosting T's first birthday party in our new house. Approximately 2-3 days after we move in. Someone tell me I'm not completely crazy. Please?!