Surprise! Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt

4.17.2014



I'm kind of obsessed with surprises. I remember when I was a kid, I went to a surprise birthday party for a friend...which turned out to be a "SURPRISE, WE'RE GOING TO DISNEYLAND" party instead.

Insane jealousy.

I vowed right then and there that I'd surprise my kids. Big. And often.

So tonight, after Isaiah had gone to bed, Michael and I got to work. We hid eggs all over the backyard. Then we got him up, put on his froggy boots, and handed him a flashlight.

I chose not to do glow-in-the-dark eggs (I thought about it) because  I really wanted this to be a flashlight search. Kind of a 'mission impossible', if you will.

It was EPIC. (Mission accomplished)

All you have to do is hide the eggs in the dark, and hand your kiddos the flashlight.

Y'all. You have two more nights until Easter. DO THIS! You wont be sorry.







Minion Easter Eggs

4.15.2014


Seriously, how cute are these?

We decided to dye eggs a little early this year, so we could actually enjoy them before Easter.

Isaiah LOVES Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2. Actually, it's "Be-Spip-Able Me" according to him. His voice melts me these days...

Anyway, he flipped when I made these for him. And they couldn't have been easier.

All you need is eggs, dye (blue, yellow, and purple), a Sharpie, a white paint pen, and a cotton ball.





For the regular minions: dye one half at a time (bottom blue, top yellow) making sure each half is dry before starting the other. Remember, it doesn't have to be perfect. The point here is to have fun creating.


For the crazy minions: dye both the egg and cotton ball purple. (Note: you may want to dye the cotton ball the night before, since it will take quite a while to air dry.)



Once all the eggs are completely dry, make the eyes with the white paint pen. Then use the Sharpie to finish the eyes, goggles and mouth. And of course...crazy hair. (Just hot glue the cotton ball for the crazy minion)

Ta-Da!






I think we made Kevin. And Bob. At least, that's what Isaiah is calling them. Of course, then he wanted Gru. And Lucy. And El Macho...

A Mother's work is never done.

"Happy" Easter! ;)




Dust it Off

4.13.2014


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Let me set the scene for you.

In my room, I have a vintage waterfall desk. It's where I get ready in the mornings. It's also my bedside table, and a catchall for the odds and ends I keep near and dear.

Rewind to Friday. I'm getting ready for the day, and as I'm putting on my make-up, drawer pulled open, I see my Bible sweetly staring at me. And get this. There's a light coating of dust on it.

Dust? In a drawer? I didn't even know that was possible.

But I immediately knew what it meant.

I left my job at the church almost two years ago (okay, a year and a half). And here I am, just now realizing how far I've really wandered.

The reasons are many, but unimportant.

Recently, Michael and I have decided to get back to Sundays. We've always been an "every Sunday family" and now that Samuel is 9 months, the "we just had a baby" line has officially expired.

And I think it was no coincidence that we decided to return around Palm Sunday. Was it planned? Not by us, that's for sure. It just happened to be the time we felt a pull.

But really, isn't that what Palm Sunday is all about? Didn't Jesus ride into Jerusalem on a dusty road to lead us to closer to God? To show us the way? Even in the face of death?

I don't write about my faith too often, but today I felt compelled.

I think we all have things in our lives that need a little dusting. Maybe it's our relationship with God. Maybe it's our marriage. Maybe it's an estranged family member, or even relationships with our own kids.  Maybe it's work.

But regardless of what IT is...

Maybe it's time to dust it off.

I picked up my Bible today, and the dust was thicker than I had originally thought.

Wiping it CLEAN was theraputic.

It's officially Holy Week. I hope you have a wonderful one.

And I hope you spend the whole week dusting...



Rain Shower

4.09.2014

My sister is having a GIRL!!!

And you can't have a baby without a shower, right? So her friends and I set out to throw her one for the books.

Her nursery colors are yellow and gray, so once I saw this invitation...I fell in love. And from that point on, her "rain shower" theme was underway.













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I have to say, one of my very favorite details from the shower was the favors. Alicia had decided to surprise the guests by revealing the gender, which had previously been top secret.

So with the help of another hostess (who was sworn to secrecy!), we put a plan in place. At the very end of the shower, Alica thanked her guests while we handed out the favors, wrapped in yellow and gray.


Then the guests were told to open them together. First they got a peek of a PINK cookie...


And inside was the sweet message, printed on these adorable labels from Tiny Prints.




Their faces were PRICELESS...




Congratulations, Alicia and Alan! 


Many thanks to the AMAZING hostesses: Jenny (who did ALL of the food), Amanda (who made the desserts HERSELF), Christie (who tackled the favors and many other things), Susan (who did the lovely invitations). It was so much fun working with each of you!

"40 under 40"

4.06.2014

I have to brag about this young man...


That's my sweet husband, Michael. And this week, he was named one of Dallas Business Journal's "40 under 40." 

Saying we are "proud of him" doesn't even begin to cover it. He deserves that award, one-hundred percent. He works hard...for the Lord, for his family, and for his employees.

But can I be honest for a minute? We are proud of him, with or without an award.
Because he's an amazing soul, a wonderful husband, and a giving father. He's good people. He always does the right thing, and we are truly lucky to call him ours. 

If you are looking for marketing...and I mean really good marketing...check out Tidal Wave Agency. They won't steer you wrong.

Congratulations, Michael. The boys and I are so very proud of you.

Now, let's celebrate!

For All The New Moms (What I Wish I'd Known)

4.03.2014



Not the most flattering pic of myself, but one of my favorites. I take one look at this picture, and I remember exactly what I was feeling. Excitement. Terror. Exhaustion. Adrenaline.

I look back at that girl and realize...she had no idea how her life was about to change.

My sister is pregnant. Have I told you that? We are all so very excited.

I've been doing my best to help her (with registry lists, answering questions, etc.) and it made me realize just how much I've learned these past couple of years.

Once upon a time, I was clueless. And now, somehow, I feel like I know what I am doing. As much as you can know what you are doing, anyway...

So I decided to write a post for my dear sister, and anyone else who is trying to find their way in the early stages of Mommy-hood.

Here goes.

1. I don't care what anyone says, put ice on it for 72 hours. Every nurse told me that ice does nothing after the first 12 hours of childbirth. I call FOUL. Before Samuel (my second), a friend told me to ice as long as possible to minimize the pain after birth. And let me tell you...my healing time was drastically different. ICE. Ice is your  new best friend.

2. When someone offers to watch your baby for you, take them up on it. AND THEN SLEEP. You'll thank me later. You think you won't need it, until you do. And then you are desperate. Always accept the offer, and always sleep.

3. You may not fall in love immediately. No one ever told me this. Okay, so you'll love your baby deep down. Sure. But there will definitely be a "who is this stranger living in my house?" kinda feeling. Just like anyone else in life, you have to get to know each other. Baby steps. And before you know it, you don't just love them...they become your heart.

4. Take a laxative (daily) from the moment you give birth. And that's all I am going to say about that.

5. You know your child best. No, really. Say that out loud. You won't trust your instincts in the beginning. You'll want to follow the books, by the letter. You'll even trust other Moms more than you'll trust yourself. Just remember: God gives us motherly intuition, even before our children are born. Trust your gut.

6. Get ready to make mistakes. I'm a perfectionist. Mistakes and perfectionism DO NOT go hand in hand. So if you are like me, just get used to the idea right now. You WILL make mistakes. Don't beat yourself up for them. Try to have as much grace for yourself as you have for your child.

7. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. One of the hardest things about your first child is not knowing what to expect. You don't know how long they'll cry. You don't know when they will sleep through the night. You don't know that projectile vomit truly exists. So you're left with this sort of "will this be the rest of my life?" panic. Just know one thing...everything is finite. Your baby WILL stop crying. You WILL sleep through the night again. And you WILL get used to vomit. I promise.

8. Take pictures. Time will be moving at warp-speed.

9. Don't beat yourself up if you're too tired to take pictures.

10. Never let anyone set standards for your children.  From the second they are born, people will  lump your child into categories. You'll be told they are "ahead in this" or "behind in that." This piggybacks onto #3. Don't let anyone define what's "normal" for your baby. You know their normal better than anyone else.

11. Don't give up on breastfeeding. I got Mastitis five times. FIVE TIMES. So many people kept trying to convince me to give up. But I pressed on. And you know what? It got easier. So much easier. I achieved my goal of six months, and couldn't be more proud. Someone once told me it takes six weeks for you and your baby to really adjust to breastfeeding. And guess when it clicked for us? Six weeks. If you choose to breastfeed (and to each their own)...keep at it. If I can do it, anyone can.

12. Ask for help. There is no such thing as Supermom. The sooner you get used to that idea, the better. Nursing a newborn is hard. Running on little-to-no sleep is hard. Adjusting when your life has been turned upside down...guess what...is hard! Don't forget to ask for help. It doesn't mean you're weak. It means you're SMART.

13. Join a new Mommy group. Being exhausted can trick you into feeling alone. But you aren't alone. There are plenty other new Mommies going through exactly what you are going through, and at the exact same time. Meet them. Make new friendships. They'll probably last a lifetime. 

14. Never underestimate your baby's comprehension. Babies constantly amaze me. Every time I think they are "too young" to understand something, they do. They are more aware than we realize. I wish I had known that when Isaiah was a newborn. Talk to them, read to them, explain everything. They are listening and learning. Even at one week old.
  
15. Remember the end goal. Your job is to believe in your child, and make them believe in themselves. It's amazing how quickly that begins. We're not raising children, we are raising adults. When they are newborns, the days will be long. And the nights will be SHORT. Just remember the end goal. Everything falls into place with a little perspective.

16. Take a deep breath. You'll do fine. And you will.

Congratulations. Welcome to one of the best seasons of life.




Insta-VACA

3.30.2014

Sorry for the silence. But y'all. Remember # 6 from this post?

We had to get away. We were desperate. 

So Michael and I went on our first vacation in two years. (YIKES)

We spent five glorious days in California. First my old stomping grounds (Hollywood) and then we drove up to San Luis Obispo. And before you ask...yes, we were there for the big earthquake. That's the picture you see of the stiff cocktail below. (Because it was definitely needed)

It was such an amazing week. Just to exist...sans kids, sans laundry, sans dishes. I didn't know what to do with myself! Acutally, I did...

SLEEP.

We didn't even take our camera. It was an Insta-VACA. And yeah, that's a pic of us at Disneyland. KIDLESS.

I regret nothing.













Samuel: 8 Months

3.23.2014


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Okay, so you are actually closer to nine months. But better late than never.

Eight months, baby. Time just continues to fly. It amazes me, really. How is it possible that you are closer to one year than you are to your newborn days?

You are full of life these days. Your personality is in full bloom, and let me assure you...there is no shortage of it.

You love to scream. Not cry. Scream. Happily. So that everyone can hear you. You are learning to love tickle fights. It's funny, you are such a happy baby...but you make us work for that giggle.

You aren't sitting up by yourself just yet. In fact, you refuse to take that position. It's the oddest thing. You only want to stand, or lay on your back. You even hate the Bumbo.

You are crawling. But only backwards. You've figured out how to move your knees forward, but you can't quite grasp the hand placement yet. (Ker-plunk)

Your best friends are Henry the Hippo and Beethoven the Zebra.

You love your walker and your exersaucer. But you love nothing...NOTHING...more than your big brother. He can look at you, and you giggle. He can smile at you, and you squeal. You love that boy. And good thing, cause he loves you right back.

You are such a joy Sammy. Everywhere I go, people are commenting on what a sweet and well-behaved baby you are. And it's true. You never throw a fit, unless you are tired or hungry. The rest of the time you are content to watch the world, and play.

We love you, sweet boy. Keep growing. Just stay my baby for a little while longer, okay?

Love,

Mommy

Leprechaun Gold

3.17.2014


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Happy St. Patty's Day!

We woke up to Leprechaun gold! Did you?? I thought I heard something strange outside, in the wee morning hours, but I never thought it would be a Leprechaun.

We spent all morning hunting for gold rocks. They were everywhere!

And by the way, this was one clumsy Leprechaun. If I were in possession of that much gold, I'd hold onto it pretty tight. Just sayin'. ;)

Alright, alright. So there's no such thing as Leprechauns. But we can have a little fun, right?

Plus, this tradition dates back to my childhood....from "Indian Princess" camp outs.

On our last morning in camp, we'd wake up to find gold nuggets all over the ground. Sure, they were really just spray painted rocks. But to us? It was 100% pure gold. GOLD I TELL YOU!! We'd spend hours searching for gold rocks (pretty sure it was our Dads' way of distracting us while they loaded up the car).

Some of my best memories are from those camp outs–they were absolutely priceless trips. So I want to pass down as many of our traditions (fox cakes, digging holes, the Mohican yell) as possible to my family.

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I'd been looking for a way to introduce this one to the boys, and I realized St. Patty's Day was the perfect occasion. How much fun to wake up every year and look for Leprechaun gold???

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Isaiah was in AWE of his finds.

I'm pretty sure he thinks he's the luckiest toddler on the planet.

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And I can't end without saying...I love you, Dad. Those camp outs were so epic because of all of the effort you Dads put into it.

So, thank you.

Now. When are we taking the boys camping? I'll see if Camp Grady Spruce is available...

DIY Leprechaun Beard

3.15.2014



Happy St. Patty's Day! Well, almost. But it might as well be since today is the big Dallas celebration. We get to celebrate twice, here.

I've been trying to explain St. Patrick's Day on a three-year-old level, which as it turns out, is pretty hard to do. (Really, you try explaining Leprechauns to a toddler without making them sound scary.)

So to have some fun with it, we made this quick little Leprechaun beard. We used craft sticks (got ours at Michaels) and regular construction paper, because that's what we had on hand. You could use cardstock, felt, or even get something laminated.

I free-handed a beard with sideburns (you can use my drawing as a template, or draw your own to-size) and cut it out of burnt orange paper. Then we simply attached the craft stick with durable tape, and we were ready for goofy fun. You'll want your camera ready, for sure.


We've got more celebrations in store for Monday, but this was a great little start. At least, Isaiah thought so. ;)

Here's to a luck-filled weekend!

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What I'm listening to...

3.11.2014


Another thing I've decided to do for a happier, healthier Stay at Home existence (can you tell I am determined?) is add music back into my life.

I'm not sure what happened these past two years (was our iTunes broken?) but this house has been VOID of any real music. Definition: anything that DIDN'T come from a kids movie.

Music is therapy, at least for me. So it's no wonder I was losing sight of myself, when all I did was default to what my kids wanted to hear. I live here too, right???

So I sat down this weekend and brought out some oldies, but goodies. Not really sure why I am sharing them–just for posterity's sake, I guess. But in case you are looking for a good listen...any and all of these qualify.

(An added bonus, Isaiah loves ALL of these. So it's a win-win if you've got kids.)

Beautiful Things, Gungor. Looking to really re-charge your soul? This is IT.  The entire album centers me, and brings me straight back to God. Especially You Have Me.

Flags, Brooke Fraser. Listen to Something in the Water and have a bad day, I dare you. 

Wide Open Spaces, Dixie Chicks. I know, I know. But however you feel about them politically, the fact of the matter is...their music was amazing. And the second I hear this album, I immediately revert to my twenty-something self. And, well, maybe I need a little bit of that lately.  And that's OK.

The Blessed Unrest, Sara Bareilles. I love this album for so may reasons, but I would buy it for Brave alone. It makes me want to dance down the street in my underwear.  (Not really, but it comes close).

The Definitive Collection, Lionel Richie. Don't judge me. This makes for a mean kitchen dance party.

Prodigal Martha, Kate Miner. I was privileged to work with this amazing woman in my last job. She's the real deal. And her song, Prodigal Martha is one of my all time favs. It's healing. Give it a listen.

So there you go. Those are my go-to's as of late. They renew my energy, refresh my mind, and encourage my heart...as only music can.

Such a random post, I know, but it was on my heart tonight. And sometimes the thoughts just come out...and it's my job NOT to stop them.

Hope you are having your own kitchen dance party, wherever you are.

Surviving Stay at Home Mommy-hood: A Battle Plan

3.09.2014


I'm not gonna lie. My morale has been down these past couple of weeks.

I'm two years in and, without a doubt, this 'Stay at Home Mommy' gig is the hardest job I've ever known. The most rewarding, by far. But the hardest.

I didn't fully understand that when I took the promotion. Six months in, I started to figure it out. But now? There's a whole new level of realization.

And it sneaks up on you.

Don't get me wrong. Staying home is still the best decision I ever made.

But that doesn't change the fact that, somewhere along the way, the SAHM life begins to consume you. It suddenly becomes hard to distinguish the line between caring for your family, and taking care of yourself. And if you are not careful, it threatens to take you down (mentally).

These last few months have been hard on me. No. Impossible. Illnesses around every corner (we're STILL sick), a never-ending Winter and because of both...little to no human interaction outside the house. It's enough to drive anyone insane.

We've all been there at some point or another.

So here's the million dollar question: What can you do about it?

My answer? Create a STRATEGY.

Like I've said before, I look at 'Stay at Home Mommy-hood' as my job. And when your job gets off track, you create a strategy to realign goals and expectations. So why wouldn't we do the same thing as parents?

And let's be honest. This existence is crazy. Sometimes I feel like I need full body armor to even leave my bedroom in the morning.

Hence, my "battle plan" was born. And hear me out, these aren't things that I have already mastered. They are goals. It's my strategy for a less-crazy, healthier, and happier Stay at Home life. And I'm starting today.

1. Have an Oulet. Do something for yourself. Me? This is it. I'm always hearing..."why do you continue to blog?" I'll tell you why. Because it's one of the only things I have. It's MINE. And no one else's. It's my outlet. And I need it, for ME. Find something just for you, and do it.

2. Unplug. The average person checks their cell phone 150 times a day. I can't help but wonder what our lives would be like if we would put the phones down. What if we had a limit on phone time, or better yet, scheduled phone time in the mornings and evenings? I have a sneaking suspicion we'd connect with our kids more. And all that phone time? It wouldn't even be missed. (This one is SO hard for me. In fact, I've never been successful at it. Not once. But all the more reason for me to try.)

3. Prioritize. I once read that to be truly effective in your daily life, you have to evaluate your priorities. This one is so easy, I'm not sure why I haven't done it before. Sit down with a pen and paper, and list the things you give the most time to every day. Then make a list of all the things you SHOULD be giving time to (spoiler alert: make sure your marriage is on this list). Then alter your days accordingly. Total. Game. Changer.

4. Be an Earlybird. Hahahaaa haha haaa haaa hahaha ha. If you know me at all, you know why that's funny. But here's what I've figured out these last few weeks. You don't have to get up at 5am. If you can? I tip my hat to you. But take the pressure off. If you have early risers, waking up just fifteen minutes ahead of your family can do wonders. Have a deep breathing routine. Make a cup of tea in silence. Get ready for the day. You'll be glad you did. (Now, who's going to hold my feet to the fire on this one?)

5. Be Social. Talk to someone. Anyone. And not just on social media. This one can be hard for those that tend to me more introverted. Even when you don't feel like it, make an effort to make that play date. Go out of your way to call a friend. Better yet, schedule a happy hour. Remind yourself that you have a life outside of your children.

6. Take a breather. Y'all. You have to get away. It doesn't matter if it's 30 minutes, or a weekend. You'll be AMAZED at how super-charged you are. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder (even of the terrible twos). When you start to feel like you're going to boil over (and you will), it's time to take a breather. Trust me. DO THIS. And often.

7. Re-evaluate. Life is constantly moving. Constantly changing. And so are we. So guess what? This battle plan wont always be effective. And I know that. Once a little time has passed, I'll have to re-evaluate. What's working? What's not? How can I adjust a little to keep my sanity? And I'll do just that. Who's with me?

Most importantly, remember that you are not alone. There are so many of us out there, struggling with the very same things. Rest in that.

It's true, we are blessed to do what we do. But everyone needs a battle plan...

Onward ho, soldiers. Onward ho.