Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Growing like a beautiful flower!

 
Well would you look at that. That sweet little baby that I used to get to snuggle and hold all the time has become a big girl toddler. When did that happen?!?!? I know she's been doing some serious growing this past month because all of her 12 month clothes that she got way back for her birthday in September suddenly fit her perfectly. Ryan and I look at her all the time and say, "When did she become a little kid?" She runs and walks like a kid. She wants to be on the go like a kid. Sadly, she disobeys like a kid. She understands much more of what we say and ask her to do. Ahhhhh. I mean, I totally absolutely love her as a toddler, it's just crazy to see her changing before my eyes.

She may look little walking down this long sidewalk at the park but don't let the perspective fool you. She is a growing girl, for sure! She has lots of pre-k friends from church and at the park she just walks right up to other, bigger kids like she fits right it. I wish I could have gotten a pic of her with the bigger girls she made friends with but I didn't want to be a creeper.

Want to make your toddler look smaller? Put her next to a Great Dane! At least she's still tiny compared to our friends' dog, Duke!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Love is in the air

Flashback to the early days of January when I had just put the Christmas decorations away. I was looking at our home, observing how the lack of sparkle and fluffy decor made our house feel emptier when it hit. The urge the decorate for Valentine's Day. I've never really decorated for Valentines day much because when I was single I didn't need to - my home had enough pink in it everywhere, everyday! As a teacher I'm sure I put out a couple of heart knick-knacks or something and I really liked to decorate my classroom tables for the annual Valentine's Party. Other than that I didn't do much. I'm honestly not even a huge mushy Valentine's Day person. I want my husband to spend some time with me on some sort of a date but it doesn't have to be expensive or fancy and it doesn't have to be on Valentine's Day. I like it when my dad sends me a Valentine's Day card in the mail that is written in Spanish because it makes me laugh (he started this tradition years ago, neither of us really speak Spanish). And I think it's cute for kids to hand out cards and candy to their friends.

One of my first Valentine's projects this year was to update my canvas chalkboards. I made these from 2 super cheap canvases that I painted in chalk paint. I love that I can update them for the seasons or really whenever. I looked for some cute sayings online and chalked away! One of them is in the playroom (pictured below) and the other at the top of our staircase.
Other than the canvas this wall has nothing to do with Valentine's decor, but I love it! I recieved Hobby Lobby gift cards from all 3 of my best friends and my mother in-law so I've been able to add some new decor to the playroom.  I figure that if I'm going to spend hours a day in here I might as well love how it looks!

I also got this fun cork board from Hobby Lobby. I plan to use it to hang up Eva's crafts or artwork but for now I tacked up some of my favorite photos. I also created the Life's Most Important List using PicMonkey and my favorite Subway Art technique. I will probably frame it eventually but for now it's on the bulletin board. 

And since I had 4 Hobby Lobby gift cards that were begging to be used - I also picked up a couple of yards of burlap. I was inspired by the burlap wreath my sister in-law gifted me (photo below) to make a new table runner. I've heard that you can spend close to $50 on these at some stores and I was able to make mine for about $4. (Always use a coupon at Hobby Lobby!).  If you are wanting to create anything with burlap I'd recommend this link for reading up on how to prepare it. It is a bit messy at first but my runner has mostly stopped shedding.

To pair up with my new runner I used a dessert stand that my aunt passed along to me, 2 cup and saucer stands made from plates and candlesticks that I got years ago as a hostess gift, and the Anthropologie salt and pepper shakers we got for our wedding. I also added in some yellow and red flowers for a fun pop of color. These were our wedding colors and I really like how the look against the burlap and coffee beans. I also like how the glass and metal accents contrast the burlap texture.

Close up of the fringe - did you know that you can make your burlap as fringy as you want it to be? You just pull out threads until everything is the desired look. So easy! I started with less but as the days went by I decided to make it a bit fringier.

I saw a photo of a similar strand of paper hearts on Pinterest so I decided that my next project should be to make this for our fireplace. Unfortunately the photo I used didn't link to instructions so it took some trial and error. I ended up using a tiny stapler to hold everything in place. And be aware that if you want to use fun patterned paper you need to make it double sided otherwise part of the heart just looks white.

So I really like how the twine strand of hearts turned out, but I wish that you could see all of the patterned paper from further away. I guess the only way to get that to happen would be to use bigger paper to create bigger hearts. You can also see the burlap wreath that was pretty much the catalyst to my whole updated decor craze. Thanks, Melody! Also, it is really difficult to get a good photo of this wall. The fireplace tiles are shiny and super reflective so I took about twenty photos that totally show me and everything else in the room being reflected back in the photo. I guess I'm still working at my photography skills. 

Then I decided to make a second heart garland for the bar top overlook into the kitchen. This one was much easier. Just strips of paper and my hot glue gun. 

Eva really wants to touch it but I know that she would rip it so easily. I think next year I will make her one that we can use to countdown the days until Valentine's.




And finally a piece that I did not make. I wish I could have but I found this at Hobby Lobby (where else?) and knew that I was better off getting it premade. I like how it combines the paper, wood, and metal textures.

All this and it's not even February yet! I figured that February is a short month so it was best to decorate ahead of time! Never to early to spread the love.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

{Review} Play Time at Gymobree Southlake

This morning Eva and I went and did a free trial class at the Gymboree in Southlake. I had gotten the coupon from a magazine and figured it would be fun to get out and try it. Years ago when I was a nanny for a 2 year old girl she was enrolled in Gymboree classes so I had a little bit of an idea of what it would be like.

Let me tell you, it was so. much. fun. The whole room is set up as a padded play area with lots of steps and slides and tunnels and balls and things to bounce on or crawl under. It is pretty awesome. The class we did had an instructor there to give us an idea of how to do each baby obstacle course and she also led some fun song and dance time.

With toddlers I didn't expect it to be super structured and I'd say it was just right. I really liked that it was totally okay if she suddenly decided to run off from the song time. When she does that at the library it's more awkward since a public library is not designed to be a playground. When it came to climbing and sliding she was pretty okay with it, although she needed some encouragement to tell her that she could actually do most of it by herself. She loved the bubble time and all the fun bouncy balls they had. She did not want to go inside any tunnel. Not under any circumstance. ME: Eva, don't you want to crawl through this fun, brightly colored tunnel???? Oooh!!! Eva: shakes head. runs away. repeat multiple times at multiple tunnels. Not a big deal but I was surprised that she was so skeptical because normally she's pretty fearless. I don't have any photos of Eva from today but I found this one online so you can see kind of what it looks like. This isn't from the location we went to but it did look similar (also I would say this photo only shows a small part of what the room looked like).

Gymboree Play Programs
When I read up on the reviews of Gymboree one of them mentioned that it wasn't always so sanitary. I don't know which location this was talking about (they have locations nationwide) but this was absolutely not true about the Southlake location. They had hand sanitizer to use before you entered the play area. Everybody takes their shoes off so you aren't tracking in extra dirt and germs. They announced a couple of times not to bring kids when they are sick. And at the end of the time when all the kids were doing the parachute songs and games a staff member was walking around a bottle of spray cleaner, wiping down everything. For a place where there are lots of kids and possible germs I felt like it was as safe and clean as you could expect (I mean, we play at the park and I guarantee you that nobody sanitizes that every hour).

The only bummer for the whole experience is that we really can't afford to pay for Eva to go there. I don't think their prices are crazy for what you get (especially if you go during their open play times too) but it's just not in our budget right now. I was a little worried that with their free class offer they would be pushy about registering but thankfully they were not. The sales lady printed off a list of classes and prices to hand to me on our way out but wasn't pushy. Obviously they want you to sign up for their classes so I didn't mind the print off.

So, that is my review of Gymboree. I loved it. I'd go back again with another coupon!  And they are not paying me anything for this favorable review :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tackling the clutter

Do you ever have one of those moments when you realize that it's become You versus The Household Clutter, and you must win? I had such an experience on Sunday.

It's no surprise that babies come with a lot of extra stuff - diapers, feeding supplies, toys, gear, furniture, clothing. These little people, just like us big people, tend to accumulate things quickly! I can say from experience too, that the more space you have to live in, the more you accumulate. When we lived in our apartment all of Eva's toys fit in to a couple of small wicker baskets. Not anymore! Also, the busier our lives get, the easier it is for little bits of clutter to creep their way out of their nice, neat places into our every day living areas. A bobby pin  here, a shoe there, a pack of gum that needs to be put in the diaper bag. In some ways this is okay...life is much more about enjoying the time you get with people you love than having a spotless home. I can embrace this. But then there are those moments when you start to glance around your home and notice clutter emerging here and there and over in that corner and across the room - it starts to make me a bit nutty!

So on Sunday afternoon when Eva was sleeping and Ryan was still working at church I decided that I had to tackle this problem! First I moved as much of the munchkin toys into the playroom as possible. This is the point of having an entire room of your home devoted to toys, right? During the day when fun memories are being made and learning is happening I am totally okay with toys being all over the house, but by the end of the day these toys need to make their way back to their rightful places. The only toys I want to have a permanent place in the living room are the stuffed animals and books on the bookshelf that blocks off our fireplace (not that it's bad to have toys in your living room - we definitely did before - but since we host student ministry and other events in our living room it is nice space wise to have the toys out of there). In order to make this happen I also spent some time reorganizing the playroom closet so that some toys can be put away out of sight and brought out for special times or rotated through for variety. Art supplies and puzzles are two examples of toys that I love for Eva to play with but that are better suited to be pulled out when I can sit right beside her to play with. Otherwise she just wants to dump out all the pieces from all the puzzles and then move on with her life. Our playroom closet also houses my crafting stuff and lots of serving ware (things like cake stands/pitchers/vases/etc.) I have been trying to figure out how to maximize this storage space so that the most amount of things can be stored without the closet feeling overwhelmingly stuffed when you look into it.

As I was working on all this I was absolutely laughing at myself. Do people with 4 kids organize their kid's stuff this much? Probably not. Will Eva one day thank me for helping her learn to play in an organized way? I hope so! But it's not likely...most kids like the mess.

Finally I tackled all the clutter that was not related to Eva. It's really not that hard to just pick up after ourselves each day, yet sometimes I just don't feel like doing that and it adds up!

When I was all done I looked back and admired my cleaning masterpiece. Until my child woke up and the mess began all over again.....
A photo from the church nursery on Sunday - I guess all that kid clutter is worth it when I see that precious grin!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sleep Training


I've decided to share my thoughts and experiences with going through sleep training. I know that for some moms this can be a hot topic issue. I'm sharing what we've done and learned only because when I was making decisions about what was best for our family it was really intimidating for me to get good advice from people without feeling pressured from one side or the other. So when you read this know that I'm not judging you whether you decide to sleep train or not. I believe that most parents love their baby and cherish sleep. Do what works for your family.

Before I had Eva I read some books about babies and sleep. Lots of books full of research and ideas that all sound fine in theory. There is really a lot of good, research based informatin about sleep training. Some of my favorite books were Health Sleep Habbits, Happy Child; The Happiest Baby on the Block; No Cry Sleep Solution, and Babywise. Some of these books actually contradict each other, but that's okay, I wanted to read all the info that was out there. I felt like based on everything that I read it was a good idea to sleep train our baby once she was around 6 months old. Enter real life.

Maybe your baby slept through the night at 2 weeks old and never looked back. Awesome for you! Eva slept through the night (from 11PM-7AM) around 8 weeks, but that trend was short lived. Since then we've been on a sleep train roller coaster, trying to chase after those ZZZ's. 

A few things to consider when looking at the idea of sleep training. It is hard to listen to your baby cry, even when you know they are okay. When you are nursing frequently it is somewhat easy and convenient to just nurse your baby and let her peacefully fall back asleep. When your child is small for their age it is easy to worry that if they don't continue to eat during the night they will starve and of course I don't want my baby to feel hungry.

With all these things in mind we decided maybe 3 months ago to try to sleep train Eva. She was waking up and nursing 2-3 times between when we put her to bed and when she woke up in the morning. That's a lot of interrupted sleep for me and her! I needed to do something for both our sakes. I decided to do a check-and-console method where I'd let her cry 5-10 minutes and then go check on her. For us, this did not work at all. She cried for so long, I cried so much, and nobody in our house was sleeping well. We gave up after 3 nights of this.

Then at her 15 month check-up our pediatrician asked to make sure she was sleeping through the night. I know this is something he is passionate about and I was prepared for this question. He had asked a few times in the past and this time he seemed more concerned that at 15 months she really should be sleeping through the night. He assured me that it was okay for her to cry a little bit and that she wasn't actually hungry, just seeking that comfort. Since she eats 5 times a day and would still be nursing during the day she would be fine nutritionally. That night, while Ryan was out, I went back and reread some parts of the books I had read before. I was so torn. I felt guilty for letting Eva continue to nurse at night. I felt guilty for letting her cry if we sleep trained her. I was exhausted. Poor Ryan came home to a very emotional wife.

Once I was more calm and rationale we decided that we would try sleep training for a week and see how it went. That first night it was hard not to go in when she cried. I was obviously still awake, so I was still pretty tired. This time though we decided that we would give her a longer period to cry before going in and checking on her. This sounds mean, but was actually so much better. I think the first time we tried it that it confused her for me to come in and then leave her frequently. Letting her have a longer time period to cry made it easier for her to realize that she could put herself back to sleep. Even during the beginning when she could cry longer it was more like CRY, fall back asleep, cry, fall back asleep, cry, sleep....so I could tell that she was learning to comfort herself. And really after a week of some tears we were all sleeping so much better.

We've had a few ups and downs the past 6 weeks. Now when she wakes up crying I'm able to make myself think about how she is crying before checking on her. If she seems scared (like waking up from a dream) or on nights when she isn't feeling well I do go in and comfort her. Or if she cries for a while and seems like she is having a hard time setting back down I will occasionally take her a sippy cup of water to help her calm down. I will hold her for a minute and tell her how much I love her. But I won't nurse her. Now she's so used to it that she doesn't even ask (or sign) to nurse during the night.

I love my little girl sooooo much. This was a really hard decision to make. I think it was the right decision for our family, but I also don't regret not trying to do it earlier. I feel like sleep training is more effective when everybody is really ready for that. I needed to be emotionally prepared for those hard nights. I needed to know that Eva was physically ready to not eat during the night and that she was able to figure out how to get herself back to sleep without bawling for hours.

I hope this post helps some mama out there that is wanting more information so that she can make a good choice for her family. Please don't leave any negative comments, whether you think babies should be sleep trained at 4 months or should never be left to cry in their crib. I'm sure there are people that raise healthy, happy babies in both scenarios. Supportive, encouraging comments - or prayers for continued good sleep - are always welcomed and appreciated :)

PS. Here is my question to other parents out there. How do you sleep train a 2nd baby when your kids share a room? I could see us facing this challenge in a few years and I want some feedback for people who've gone through it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Leggings. Not just for cute little kids.

I wore leggings in 4th grade. They were amazing. They had stirrup straps that looped down into my Keds. I was cool. Flash forward 20 years. I love wearing leggings!!!! Between 4th grade and when I became pregnant with Eva leggings at some point came back into style. I started wearing them at the point when I needed some comfy maternity pants and haven't looked back. I even admitted in another post that I still like to wear my maternity leggings. They are so comfortable! {insert eye rolling from every trendy person I know}

I currently own 6 pairs of leggings and I wear them all the time. A local high school recently banned leggings, citing that they can be too revealing, and I shuddered at thinking about getting through the winter without my leggings. Yes, I own other pants. There are days I wear jeans and once in a while I wear dress pants to church. But my favorite go-to outfits right now are based around leggings and boots or leggings and my oh-so-fashionable moccasins {more eye rolling and deep concern}.

Back to the ban on leggings...let me say that when I wear my leggings I make it a point to be modest and aware of what should be covered. A tank top and shear leggings does not an outfit make. Even if your leggings are fleece lined and not see through there are certain body parts that should be covered regardless of whether your 13 or 30.  I will leave you with this comic relief.

For the blog 
I can't be the only one who totally relates to this, right? {now being chased by fashion police}.

Monday, January 14, 2013

iLove

I recieved an iPhone for Christmas from my parents. This gift was one that I thought long and hard about. For a long time I was pretty convinced that I did NOT want an iPhone or any smart phone. I was content with my old standard free upgrade phone. It finally got to the point though where I had to shake my phone and hit it to get the screen to show so I knew that I needed to make my decision about what phone to get next.

Here are my reasons why I was very hestitant:
1. Did I really wanted to be connected to the whole world all the time? Before this I did not have internet access on  my phone and sometimes it was nice not to have to be connected.
2. People who have iPhones are addicted to their phone. They are constantly on it and it can be hard to feel like you are having a genuine converstaiton with somebody when they are looking at their phone all the time. I didn't want to become that person.
3. When I'm with Eva, or really anybody that I care about, I want my full attention to be one them. Not only did I not want to be addicted to my phone, I didn't even want the option of constantly checking my phone or the internet.
4. I'm not that into the latest technology fads. VCR? Had it until a few years ago. Blue Ray? No thank you. Most of the time technology upgrades are just an added expense and I don't feel like they improve the joy in my life. Yes, it was nice a few years ago when we got a new TV but my life was fine with the old one.
5. Thievery. I never worried that somebody would take my old phone when we were at the swimming pool and it was in the stroller. If they had the joke would have been on them. The same thing applies to letting Eva carry it around the house. Now I'm more cautious about where I leave my phone. 

But obviously, I did end up deciding to get an iPhone. I went with the 4s because it is more compatible with things we already have (like our iHome) and Ryan and I could share car and house chargers (he has a 4S too). And honestly.... I LOVE IT. There. I said it. You totally won my over Apple company. You were right iPhone users before me. You told me so, Ryan Bradley.

Here are my reasons why I love my phone:
1. The quality of camera. My old phone had a camera but it wasn't good. This camera takes great photos and even the video quality is so clear. Before I always carried my extra camera with me but now I can save space in the diaper bag.
2. The quality of texting. I thought I would hate not having a key pad but I don't mind at all now. I like how the texts look like a conversation. It is so easy to send a quick photo of Eva to my mom. My old phone only held a limited  number of texts so I was constatnly having to go in and delete them, the iPhone holds a gazillion texts. Plus I can now read group texts! Before I would have to awkwardly text the person back and let them know that my phone wouldn't open their message. Lame.
3. Instagram and Pic Stich. For somebody that loves sharing photos from their life these aps are awesome. And I enjoy seeing everybody else's photos!
4. Pinterst Ap. It is so conventient to have this. I actually do/make a lot of what I pin so this is so conventient. I can use it to cook from in the kitchen (instead of my laptop) or I can look up something in the store.
5. Pandora Ap. Free music? Fun!
6. Target/Walmart/Costco Aps. I can see what is on sale.
7. AnyList Ap. This allows me to make my grocery list on my phone, store the items I buy weekly (so I don't have to renenter them), and cross off things as I shop. Seriously, this ap has changed how I make my grocery list. It even puts things in catergories so it is organized and trips to the store are quicker. Get this ap!
8. Facebook Ap. Because let's be honest, who doesn't want to instantly know what everybody thinks and is up to?
9. Hobby Lobby Ap. The 40% off coupon is just a click away.
10. Internet Broswer on the go. Want to know anything about anything any time of the day anywhere you are? Google it.
11. Email. I am not an email junkie. I mostly assume that people wouldn't email me important info very often so before I was terrible about checking my email. Having it on my phone makes it easier for me to check it and delete it quickly, no more 350 messages left waiting in my inbox. I also get coupons emailed from different stores and restaurants and it was so nice to be able to just show them my phone instead of having to print off a coupon and remember to take it with me. 
12. Toddler Aps. I do not use my phone as a babysitter but it is nice to occasionally be able to let Eva play games on it when we are waiting at a restaurant or the doctor's office. We even got the Fisher Price apptivity case that holds your iPhone more securely so that when we are all three in the car together I can put my phone in it and hand it to her in the backseat during long car rides. She doesn't realize that I almost always have this with me so she doesn't expect it, but it's nice when we need it.
13. Google maps. When we got a Garmin for the car a few years ago it would be an understatement to say it was a good thing. So long Mapsco and printed Mapquest directions! And with the map ap on my phone I can even find a place online and it will tell me exactly how to get there!
14. Voice command. Yes, the 4s is worth it for Siri. I like being able to ask, "Where is the nearest__?" or saying, "Call__." I realize that some other phones have this feature but my old one didn't.
15. I'm cool now. Before, kids I knew would ask to see my phone (as in younger kids, not teenagers) and when they would ask me what my phone could do I would answer, "Make calls." That was basically it. Now when people see me stroll into the room they can tell I'm a iPhone user. Hahaha, okay so  I know that doesn't really make me any cooler, but it's fun to pretend.

There you have it. My confessions about all the wonderful things an iPhone can do. I am still very guarded against using it too often when I should be doing better things or having real conversations. But I would recommend that you get one. UwillLove it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thankful for Thursday

Do you ever have a day that you get to the end of and think back about what you did that morning and it seems like soooo long ago? That's today for me. I had a great day but it was packed full of fun. Our morning started with some play time with sweet friends. My friend Ashley and her little girl Rebekah came over to hang out and it's always cute to see Rebekah and Eva together. Their photo makes me laugh because Eva always sprawls out when another kid tries to hold her, like she's never sat in somebody's lap before. She lights up around Rebekah!
Then we had some former students from our youth group stop by for lunch. It was so good to see these friends that have been away at college (studying hard, of course.....). Mollie, Ramsey, and Sydney - we love you and are so thankful that you came over and visited with us! You are welcome in our home any time you are back in town.
Tonight our small group started a new Bible study on the book of Mark. I really, really like this study and hope that it brings our group closer together as we study God's Word!
Some of our awesome friends! We weren't all there tonight because lots of people are sick or have sick kiddos so we missed those who were out. But I'm THANKFUL that it is Thursday and that my day was spent with such great people!!!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Little Picasso


What an awesome Tuesday we had! How many people can say that after being indoors most of a rainy day? We did get out for a quick walk around the pond Tuesday morning before the rain came through. I'm trying really hard to go walking with Eva at least 4 days a week as part of my stay in shape routine. I don't necessarily need to shed pounds but I do want to get more toned and be a healthy mama and hot wife. Exercise is good for everybody! So I've decided that as long as it is above 40 degrees (with the windchill factored in) Eva and I can go for some good walks during the week.





I know that I'm not doing monthly updates but I will throw in that Eva turned 16 months. What a cutie! And I love this outfit. I showed her the dog on her shirt before I got her dressed and she leaned in and gave it a kiss. That girl loves dogs. 
We were warm and inside the house when it began to rain. I wish I could get inside her mind to see how her little toddler brain processes the idea of water falling from the sky. I tried to explain to her how the clouds hold the water and it becomes rain that falls to the ground. She liked to watch all the rain run from the sidewalk to the bushes.


And since I didn't want to go anywhere in all that rain, we made it a fun day indoors! She got a great Little Tikes table with two chairs for Christmas from Ryan's parents and I had bought some actual finger paint stuff a while back. I decided to bring the table into the living room from the playroom so that if paint got on the floor it was on tile and not carpet. Plus I put a plastic table cloth underneath. I loved having her sit at her little table to paint! This was her first time to use real paint and not some kind of food product (pudding, flour, etc) mixed with food coloring. Need I point out that she ate a fair amount of paint today? But it was nontoxic and kid safe so I just gently redirected that paint back to the paper and didn't worry about her blue lips and tongue until the end. 


Her masterpiece. We decided to call it "Rain" since it looked kind of like she painted a big blue cloud that had blue raindrops going to the green grass and orange sidewalk. Yeah...she's that deep of an artist. At only 16 months! Anyways, it went up on the fridge and we went on with our day! 
The best part of her day was when Ryan got home from work! Love those open mouth kisses.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Budget CUT ( and The Bachelor)

 
One way that Ryan and I have thought of to save a few $$ is for me to learn how to cut his hair. Ryan usually likes to get his hair trimmed once a month so we figured that cutting back on this expense would add up (pun intended). Now that the experience is behind us, I'll admit that I was nervous. I'd cut hair once before but it has been years. I wanted Ryan to still have a professional look that didn't scream home haircut. My friend Melissa is an actual hairstylist so tonight we went over to her house so that she could walk me through Ryan's first big cut. 

It is intimidating to start up the trimmer for the first time and jump into the haircut. Kind of like that first dive into a cold swimming pool. Thankfully I had a guide there to help me otherwise I would have been too scared. We started slowly since it is easier to go back and cut more off than it is to make cut hair grow back. At one point our friend commented that she'd, "Never seen anybody cut hair quite that way...." I'm pretty sure she meant that as a compliment, right? In the end Ryan's hair turned out great and I think he trusts me to do it again! 

Sean Lowe as The Bachelor
Now on to more important matters....The Bachelor premiered tonight! It was a hilarious kick off to the season, seriously soooo funny. I was missing my best friend Erica watching the show beside me like we used to do back in Denton. The Bachelor is always better when you have people to share judgements comments with. Ryan was following Kelly Raspberry from Kiss FM on Twitter during the show and her tweets were so great we were literally LOLing. I'm not on twitter, but if you are and you watch The Bachelor you should follow her on Monday nights. Was there anybody that really stood out to me tonight? No. I like Sean as the Bachelor and hope he stays true to his character. I want to know where in Dallas his family lives. I like Kasey B. and am glad she's back. I think those girls need to consume way less alcohol on the first night. I'm looking forward to another addicting season!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

It just makes cents.

One of our family goals for the new year is to live by a better budget. Ryan and I went through one of Dave Ramsey's financial studies a few years ago and it taught us a lot about using a biblical perspective and wise guidelines for handling finances. The idea of following an established budget seems really great until you get all of your expenses down on paper (or computer) and realize what you actually have to work with. Blah. It is very easy to look at it  and think, "Do we really want to follow this?"

But our answer is yes. Yes, we want to live within our means. Yes, we want to remain debt free. Yes, we want to be wise stewards of the resources God has blessed us with. And most importantly, YES, we want to be content with what we have knowing that one day it will all pass away anyway.

But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:6

I truly want to be content. With more or with less. I want to be living thankfully within his daily provision. And sometimes that means making realistic sacrifices.

Spoiler alert - when your husband works for the church and you stay home, you will not likely ever be millionaires. That's okay, I knew that going into this thing. When I married a man that wanted to be a youth pastor, sharing with him my heart's desire to stay at home with our children, I knew full well that we probably wouldn't be jet setting between our homes on different contents or driving fancy cars. The joy and blessings in our life far outweigh the sacrifices. Really.

When I have those twinges of this-isn't-fair feelings in the moments where I can't spend frivolously, I want to remember that we are so much richer than most of the world. We have a home to live in. We have 2 cars that work. We have food on the table. Our closets are abundantly stuffed with clothes. We have insurance (that alone is a hidden blessing that many Americans are suffering without). I want to change my prospective about budgeting to think of it less as a restriction and more as an adventure. It can be a fun to look at what we have and find creative ways to live off less. Yep. Fun.

So here we are, finally in January, and ready to begin our budget. Time to cut back on the extras like eating out or shopping. Time to make wise decisions to start saving now for future expenses likes cars or babies or dental work. Time to check out hearts to make sure that we give generously as God calls us, for we have been generously given to.Woo-hoo! Our adventure begins.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Did you enjoy ringing in the New Year yesterday and today? I know our family did. Yesterday Ryan got an unexpected bonus day off from work (hooray!) so we decided to take Eva to the Sea Life Aquarium in Grapevine. We had been wanting to go for a while but waited until she was big enough to really enjoy it. We were also needing a fun getaway from the house after several days of staying in from the cold. New Christmas toys are awesome, but after a while you just need a break.
The aquarium was actually much nicer than I had expected. It is smaller than the Dallas World Aquarium but the atmosphere is much more peaceful and serene. The whole vibe of the aquarium is like you are walking through a sunken ship, peering at the sea life around you, and they have pretty music playing. The photo on the bottom left square is a family of eels. They were very ugly in person but the photo of them is kinda cool.
For New Year's Eve we flew to NYC to stay at a fancy hotel and watch the ball drop. Ha! JUST KIDDING! We stayed in and invited some friends over for a breakfast for dinner feast. It was a cozy night in and we had our big countdown right around 8PM (think of it as being on the same timeline as fellow partiers in Iceland).  Our friends brought their 4 month old baby and he was so stinkin' cute. When he crashed right after our countdown toast they tucked him into our loveseat for some quite slumber.


 

Look at those two besties! Ryan and his friend Brandon are a bit quirky but always hilarious together. We had a fun time playing games with Brandon and his wife Melissa. I won the game if anybody was wondering :) Around 10PM we knew that our party was getting too out of control so we called it a night. Ryan and I did stay up to watch the ball drop in NYC at 11PM and I think we were asleep within 30 minutes after that. Yep. We didn't even stay up til midnight. We're those people now. I wish I could say that as I watched the coverage of NYE in Big D that I had a longing to be out in the crowds celebrating but I really, really didn't. I was very content to be safe at home, in my pjs, under my warm comforter, about to go to sleep. This is who I am and I accept it.




Of course we had to rest up for our fun day today! We had a late afternoon lunch at my friend Marianne's house and enjoyed more good company, games, and food. 
Eva was in love with Marianne's dogs. Seriously, somebody buy this girl a puppy. No really don't. But maybe one day...

It has been fabulously awesome to have Ryan at home over the past week and enjoy time with so many friends and family. We've worn our pjs often, watched movies, eaten every cookie in the house, played with all our Christmas gifts, and snuggled with our baby. Tomorrow it is back to the real world.