• Friday Favorites,  random

    Friday Favorites | 5.18.18

    Happy Friday! I’m linking up with Momfessionals, Grace and Love, and A Little Bit of Everything for this week’s Friday Favorites!

    one

    I had an awesome Mother’s Day last weekend! My boys showered me with love and I enjoyed every second of it!

    two

    I went on a field trip with Kaden to WonderWorks yesterday. It was so much fun! I love seeing my kids in their daily environments that I’m usually not around. Not that I didn’t know it already, but Kaden is the life of the party!

    three

    My sister graduated from college last week! We had an awesome time in Clemson celebrating her!

    four

    The Royal Wedding is tomorrow! My alarm is set and I can’t wait!

    I remember getting up early to watch Will and Kate get married. Did you?Image result for royal wedding harry graphics

    five

    I’m officially counting down the days my kids have left of school this year AND the number of days until we go on vacation. Mama needs a break!

  • books

    10 Summer Beach Reads You Won’t Want to Put Down

    If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I love to read. I particularly enjoy books that come out this time of year. There’s just something extra special about reading by the beach. We have a few trips planned this summer and I can’t wait to dive into these books!

    By Invitation Only

    I love, love, love Dorothea Benton Frank and can’t wait to read her newest novel, By Invitation Only. This book is about the differences between the haves and have nots, and from the looks of the reviews, it’s going to be awesome!

     

    The Perfect Couple

    I discovered Elin Hilderbrand about two summers ago and can’t believe I waited that long to read her books. Since then, I’ve devoured nearly every book she’s written and can’t wait to read her newest novel, The Perfect Couple, when it comes out June 19. I also really want to go to Nantucket and visit the spots she writes about so beautifully.

     

    The Secret to Southern Charm (The Peachtree Bluff Series)

    I’ve bragged about this book a few times on here already, but seriously, it’s so good! I’ll share my review of it shortly, but go get this book. And if you haven’t read the first book in this series, Slightly South of Simple: A Novel (The Peachtree Bluff Series), go get it right now!

     

    Beach House Reunion

    Mary Alice Monroe is another of my favorite writes. She makes the Low Country of SC (one of my favorite places) come alive so beautifully in all of her books. Her newest novel, Beach House Reunion, is sure to be a great read. I can’t wait!

     

     

    A Nantucket Wedding

    I gave my mother-in-law A Nantucket Wedding for Mother’s Day. She’s a huge fan of beach reading, too, and I thought this one looked like something she would like. I’ve not read Nancy Thayer yet, but this book looks like it will be a great first read for me.

     

     

    Dreams of Falling

    Karen White is always a great read. I love the intricate details she weaves throughout her books. I always find myself wanting more when her books end. Dreams of Falling looks to be just as good as The Beach Trees, my favorite Karen White novel.

     

    All We Ever Wanted

    The book I’m most excited to read is Emily Giffin’s All We Ever Wanted. I love Emily Giffin, and it’s been far too long since her last novel. You better believe this one will be on my doorstep the day it’s released.

     

    Between Me and You

    Between Me and You is a novel I stumbled across when I was ordering another book on Amazon and it looks so good. The cover and title drew me in, but when I read the brief synopsis, I knew I had to add it to my reading list — please tell me you keep a running tally of books to read.

     

    Cottage by the Sea

    I have to admit, the first Debbie Macomber novel I read was picked because the cover was pretty. (What? You don’t pick books based on their covers?) Since then, I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve read by her and Cottage by the Sea looks to be another hit in my book.

     

    When Life Gives You Lululemons

    The Devil Wears Prada was one of my favorite movies back in the day and this new novel, When Life Gives You Lululemons, by Lauren Weisberger is sure to be great!

     

    What books are on your summer reading list?

    As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
  • family,  motherhood,  weekend

    Mother’s Day Weekend 2018

    Being a mom is the best and most rewarding job in the world. It’s also the toughest job. I had an awesome time celebrating Mother’s Day this weekend. I didn’t take a ton of photos like normal – in fact, I didn’t even get a photo of myself with all our kids together – but it was fun!

    Kevin, Caleb, and I spent a few days in Clemson around my sister’s graduation. We drove up Thursday afternoon and had dinner with everyone at The Cheesecake Factory. It’s safe to say Caleb enjoyed his first visit. I also enjoyed my White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cheesecake at midnight.

    Stephanie graduated at 9:30 Friday morning, so we were up early to make it from our hotel in Greenville to the graduation at Little John Coliseum. Graduation was great. Senator Tim Scott gave the address and included three points that are good for all of us to remember:

    1. It’s only failure if you choose to quit.
    2. Stand up for those who can’t stand for themselves.
    3. Hold tight to your dreams.

    After graduation, we went to Joe’s Pizzeria for lunch. It was so good. The dessert pizza was to die for! It basically tasted like cookie dough on a sweet crust. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

    We decided to stay an extra night and go to the Clemson vs. Austin Peay baseball game. Even though we didn’t win the game, we had a blast. Caleb made friends with the family behind us and even crawled up in one man’s lap. I guess it’s time we start teaching him “stranger danger!”

    Since we had no plans Saturday, we took our time driving home. We made a few stops in Columbia to look for some Mother’s Day gifts to no avail. I’m looking for some new decor for our mantel and also would like some new bathing suits, but couldn’t find either. We made it home mid-afternoon and just chilled the rest of the day.

    Mother’s Day started off awesome with breakfast in bed. My sweet husband cooked scrambled eggs and toast and sliced a kiwi for me. It was divine! Why is food so much better when someone else cooks it for you? Also, our sweet baby slept until almost 8am, so I was able to sleep later than normal, eat breakfast, and get ready for church before he was up.

    We had a nice service at church and grabbed something from Grouchos for lunch. I made the mistake of letting Caleb have a little of my sweet tea with his lunch. Let’s just say about .5 seconds after he drank it, he went absolutely crazy. He was so funny! Thankfully the restaurant was empty and he was able to run around wild.

    For Mother’s Day, I decided I wanted a new bike, so we picked out one of those. I also got a seat for the back so Caleb can ride with me. Our big boys love to bike and I usually go along with them running, but I thought it’d be fun to bike some, too. Growing up, my dad biked and I would ride along with him. Some of my best memories come from those days. When the big boys got home yesterday afternoon, we tested out the bike and went for a short ride. It was fun!

    Last night, my father-in-law grilled ribs and chicken and had all of us along with my parents and sister over to eat dinner. It was delicious! We sat outside most of the night. K.C. found some old water guns which turned into the boys all getting soaked. They had a blast!

    _ _ _ _ _

    I’m so thankful for my sweet mom! She has always loved me, guided me, and encouraged me. When I think back on my childhood, I have so many awesome memories because of my mom. I’m so grateful God made me hers. I am who I am today because of her love.

    I’m also thankful for my sweet MIL. I know I’m blessed to have not only been born into an awesome family, but to have married into one as well.

    _ _ _ _ _

    These three boys are my heart. What a great privilege it is to be called mama by them. They constantly amaze me and fill my life with so much love and laughter. They teach me, mold me, and stretch me every single day. I hope and pray that they always feel my love. What a great blessing it is to have sons!

  • encouragement,  growth,  life

    Busyness is not a badge of honor | Take back your life

    How many times have you answered, “We’re doing good! Staying busy!” when someone asks you how you are? Maybe you haven’t ever done that, but I sure have (way more often than I’d like to admit… or basically anytime I’m asked that question.). When did it become the norm to be so busy?

    While I was talking with my mom (Hi, mom!), she made the remark that she hopes I enjoy life and won’t be so busy all the time which really made me start thinking about my life and busyness in general.

    I don’t really remember being busy growing up, nor do I remember my mom being that busy. She was a stay-at-home mom and I just remember being able to go and do things, but not feeling a sense of busyness. Yes, there was homework everyday and after school activities, but I enjoyed all of that and it didn’t feel like my life was busy at that point. I also didn’t have any responsibility to anyone but myself which was probably most of it.

    Today, though, I just feel busy. I feel like I go from one thing to the next and some days, barely have time to breathe.

    Our society places so much emphasis on what we do and how we fill our time. We’re encouraged to volunteer in our kids’ schools, we’re supposed to get at least thirty minutes of exercise each day, and we need to cook a balanced dinner every night. Don’t forget that we should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night, spending time outside, taking time for ourselves, staying up on the news, and keeping our homes tidy. We also have that big thing called a job to contend with every day which brings along with it a commute, childcare arrangements, and clothes that must be ironed. Most of us have children we want to spend quality time with as well as a spouse. And finally, there are those things that we really can’t not do like eat, shower, and sleep.

    When did the equation that busyness equals success become true?

    In my own life, I look back at movies and shows I watched along with books and magazines I read and in my mind, I thought doing it all well all the time was something to strive for. I marveled at successful women in corner offices who wore heels all day, played with their babies all night, and went on lavish vacations with their spouse all while looking like they stepped off of a runway. Busyness became a thing to strive for because if I’m busy with almost every minute booked, I must definitely be doing so much good — and have an incredibly full life. Right? Wrong.

    Busyness does not equal success.

    Busyness does not equal value.

    Busyness does not give you worth.

    Sadly, busyness seems to be the way so many of us signal our worth to others.

    The myth that busyness means quality, worth, success, and value has to stop. So how do we stop it?

    For a moment, picture your perfect life. What does it look like? My bet is you aren’t chained to a calendar or a to do list. You’re probably on a beach somewhere without a care in the world (What? Is that just my perfect life?). While what you immediately pictured may not be possible for you at this very moment (Hello, I have to work to provide for my family unless someone out there wants to send me an endless supply of cash!), the way that makes you feel is entirely possible. It’s just up to you to make it happen.

    So how do we make it happen?

    Let go of the idea that being busy is a virtue. It’s not. Being busy whether you’re busy doing good things or busy doing idle things isn’t that great. Yes, I understand there are some times in our lives where we truly are so busy that we can’t see straight because of circumstances around us, but for the most part, we control how busy we are.

    Decide what’s most important to you. What things/people in your life are most important to you? What do you do just to say you do it or so you receive some type of recognition? What can you back out of? Before Kevin and I got married, I was really involved in my local Junior League. I enjoyed getting to see friends and volunteer in some neat places, but when Kevin and I met and eventually married, I decided to drop my membership. With meetings and volunteer hours, I knew I wouldn’t be able to devote the time I wanted to to my family and that commitment, so I did what was best for me.

    Take charge of your time. There are 168 hours in a week. 40+ of those hours are spent working and 56 are spent sleeping (if you sleep 8 hours/night). That means you have 72 hours to do all the things. What things? The things that are important to you. Get a paper calendar if you don’t already have one. It can be fancy or plain; just get one. Look at each day and see where you have those 72 hours and let them work for you. Don’t become a slave to your time.

    To start with, I encourage you to think about the things you know you waste time on. For me, that’s my phone. It’s so easy to say I’m just going to scroll through Instagram real quick and then 30 minutes later, I’m three months back on someone’s feed. There’s a great app I recently heard about (I can’t remember where) called Moment that tracks your screen time. It will blow your mind when you see how much time you spend on your screen.

    After that, think about other things that are time suckers for you and determine whether or not you can automate them or at least, make them easier. I’ve shared before how Walmart’s Grocery App and pick up service has given me back at least an hour every week. My kids know to write what they need on the list on the fridge and it’ll get ordered. Amazon Subscription delivers diapers to my door once a month. My big kids pack their lunches most days which means they are not only developing responsibility and independence and getting what they want (within reason) for lunch, I’m also not having to decide what to pack and spending 15 minutes each night packing it. If cleaning your house sucks time out of you, see if your budget will allow for a housekeeper every so often.

    Determine what things in your life aren’t negotiable. For me, I need some time with Jesus everyday (and just to lay it out there, when I’m superwoman busy, it doesn’t always happen), I want to spend quality time with my husband and kids, have time to run 4-5 days/week, and have some set aside time to read or do something else just for myself. Those things aren’t negotiable. Yes, there will be days when I have an event for work or the kids will be sick or I just won’t have the energy to run after my boys are all asleep, but as a general rule, these things are most important to me.

    Make margin and begin to live your best life. Hold yourself accountable for your time. It’s your job to make sure you have time to live your best life. Daydream, swing in the hammock, go for shaved ice, have an impromptu date, walk around your neighborhood, watch the sunset. Do those things that make you happy. Work hard while you’re working, but enjoy life when you’re not. Prioritize those tasks that have to be done and do them now so that you are able to relax without a million things hanging over your head. Put your phone down and actually have a conversation with your spouse and kids. Sit around the table and eat together as a family. Bake some chocolate chip cookies. Curl up on the couch with a book. Just talk. Live.

    While it’s overwhelming to think about slowing down sometimes, it really is the only way we’ll be able to live our best lives. You can’t be your best for yourself or your family if you’re not taking time out. Invest in yourself. Invest in your time. You won’t be sorry that you did.

  • family,  parenting

    5 Tips to Establish a Routine for Your Baby

    Before Caleb was born, I read gobs of books about preparing for labor and childbirth, but I didn’t devote much time to reading about what to do once the baby actually arrived. In my mind, I’ve kept two other tiny humans alive since they were two and three; how different could a baby be?

    As time went on and I got closer and closer to having Caleb, I thought more and more about what I wanted our lives to look like with three kids. Three is a big number — it means we’re officially outnumbered — and according to the experts, having three kids is harder than four!

    Here’s what I knew I wanted to happen:

    • I wanted the baby to sleep good and not wake up his brothers.
    • I wanted to continue to have structure in our home. (If you can’t tell, I’m pretty big on routine.)
    • I wanted the baby to be a good eater.
    • I wanted to be able to have some time to relax and do things to take care of myself. (I know that may come across as selfish to some, but if I’m not taking good care of myself, how can I take good care of my kids?)
    • I wanted the baby to be able to adjust well no matter where he was and be able to cope in different situations.
    • I also wanted him to sleep well and through the night. (That was a BIG one!)

    Basically, the answer to what I wanted our lives to look like all boiled down to a good routine. It’s proven that routines help babies adapt and in my own life, I know how “off” I feel when I’m out of my normal routine.

    Kevin and I are both pretty structured when it comes to things with our older boys and we can definitely tell if they’re off their routine. While they’re older now and we aren’t as strict with bedtime every night as we were when they were younger, we are still fairly structured with their nighttime routine. Even going to bed thirty minutes later than normal for them makes a huge difference in the mornings at home. If routine affects my older kids, I knew it would for sure affect our baby.

    Here are a few things I did to help Caleb adapt to a routine. But first, please note that a routine shouldn’t start on day one.  In fact, I’d encourage you to wait six to eight weeks before beginning to develop a routine especially related to eating and sleeping. When babies are first born, they need to eat and sleep so often. You shouldn’t ever deprive your baby of milk and sleep for the sake of a routine. That said, Caleb was a pretty easy baby and became very predictable as he grew and we started setting a routine. I could tell time off of when he ate and napped.

    1. Take note of your baby’s cues.

    From day one, I kept track of when and how much Caleb ate, slept, and had dirty diapers. I did this to make sure he was eating, sleeping, and having enough dirty diapers, but also because I wanted to see what seemed normal to him. When he was a few weeks old, I was able to use this to tweak his normal sleep and eating pattern into a good routine for all of us.

    As a mom, you really will know what your baby’s cries mean. You’ll know if it’s a cry because your baby is hungry or because he just wants to be held. I found that knowing what was normal for Caleb was especially helpful when he wanted to eat more for a few days or seemed to not sleep as well during a growth spurt.

    2. Implement changes slowly.

    Rome wasn’t built in a day and you can’t expect to get your baby on a schedule overnight. It definitely takes time and it definitely changes as your baby grows. Caleb’s schedule at two months was drastically different than his schedule at four months. Just a few weeks make a huge difference in the life of a baby.

    3. Focus on consistency.

    I chose to be very consistent with Caleb from the beginning. For instance, when I started bathing him, I did the same thing every day at almost the same time. I also kept his nighttime routine consistent.

    At first, I gave Caleb baths in the morning after his first nap. He’d wake up, eat, play, and sleep, then eat again and take a bath. I also started off bathing him in his bathtub. During bath time, literally from almost day one, I would sing songs to him and point out his eyes, nose, ears, mouth, arms, legs, tummy, and feet. After his bath, I’d get him dressed for the day and we’d play in his room before reading some books and putting him down for his next nap.

    A month or so before I started back to work, I transitioned his baths to nighttime because I knew that would be easier for all of us when I went back to work. Even though the time was different, I kept the same routine.

    4. Be adaptable.

    The best advice I can give you on getting into a routine is to be adaptable. You can read hundreds of articles, books, and blog posts (like this one) about getting your child into a routine, but you have to remember that every baby is different. While there are general time frames to follow, your child may require more or less sleep/food than a typical baby his age.

    I’d also encourage you to look at your regular life and how that schedule impacts it. Personally, I wanted to have good amount of time to play with Caleb at night after work, so I didn’t ever put him down for the night at 7 pm as many programs encourage. I feel very blessed that the school he attends is really intent on following the parents’ schedule for infants before transitioning them to a more standard schedule all the kids are on around one which helped me tremendously. Caleb was able to take a late afternoon nap so when we got home, even at four or five months old, he was able to stay up until about 8 which gave me a few good hours of playtime with him.

    5. Have a plan.

    Finally, I think it’s so important to know in advance what you want to do when it comes to sleep and feeding. I’ll talk specifically about sleep here, but next week, I will share what we did when it came to feeding Caleb.

                           Do you want to let your baby cry it out?

                           Are you co-sleeping?

                           Will your baby nap in the crib?

    Those are all things you need to think about. And remember, there’s no right or wrong way when it comes to these things. As long as the baby is sleeping safely (no blankets, bumpers, etc.), it really comes down to your personal preference.

    We kept Caleb in the Bassinest in our room until he was five months old for nighttime, but he started napping in his crib at about eight weeks. I knew he’d nap in a crib at school, so I didn’t want that to be foreign to him. Fortunately, we didn’t have an issue with this transition.

    When it came time to transition him to his crib overnight, we were met with a few bumps though. After some trial and error, we determined that he needed socks on to sleep. If his feet get cold, he wakes up. He also needs his paci, and thanks to a friend’s advice, I put several pacifiers in his crib so if he wakes up without one in his mouth, he’s able to grab another and go back to sleep.

    I found it extremely helpful to follow an actual plan when it came to transitioning down on the number of naps Caleb took. I downloaded the Moms on Call app and used it for this. Having a guideline of how to transition and when was very useful and took the stress out of this. As we transitioned his naps slowly, he began to sleep longer stretches at night and by 8 weeks old, he was sleeping through the night. (He was formula fed and it’s proven that formula fed babies are able to go longer stretches without milk, so he had everything he needed. He also went through times when he was teething and in a growth spurt where he woke up multiple times for a bottle, but as a whole, he started sleeping through the night at eight weeks.)

    All in all, having a routine works best for our family. I thrive on routine and structure and it seems that my kids do, too. That said, it’s important to not stress yourself out about staying on an exact schedule. If you have a good routine, I’ve found that deviating from it slightly will not cause a problem. I always plan ahead when I know we’ll be far off of our routine and that has worked for us. Remember, there is trial and error involved in setting and sticking to a routine, but it’s definitely worth the effort it takes.

     

    Do you have a routine for your kids?

    What’s the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

    Have you stuck with a routine as your kids have grown or slowly let go?

  • faith,  family,  running,  weekend

    Weekend Wrap Up | May 7, 2018

    We had such a nice weekend!

    I spent Friday traveling for work and listening to a ton of podcasts. I’ve only recently — as in the last two weeks — gotten into podcasts. Where have I been? Jenna Kutcher’s Goal Digger Podcast is my new favorite!

    My mom is a high school English and music teacher and Friday night, she had a play. We took Caleb to Neverland to see Peter Pan. Y’all, we were shocked that he sat still for an hour. He was totally mesmerized. He also enjoyed running around the stage after the show.

    We stayed home most of Saturday which was really nice. After breakfast, Kevin did some yard work and I ran a 10K with Caleb around the neighborhood. I ran the 10K in 48:30 (7:48 pace) which certainly is slow compared to my normal speed, but I was pleased with that while pushing a 26 pound baby in a jogging stroller! He fell asleep on the last mile. I took advantage of his short nap and sat outside and finished reading my lesson for Sunday school.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m horrible about washing my car and the place I usually take it just closed. Since it was so nice out, I decided to wash my car and Kevin asked his truck. I wish I had pictures of Caleb helping. He had a blast with the water and hose!

    Later Saturday afternoon we ran out to do some Mother’s Day shopping and pick up our groceries for the week.

    That night, I cooked a Hello Fresh meal for dinner. It was so good!

    Our boys came home from being on vacation in the Bahamas with their mom Saturday and it was so great to have them back! That week was so long without them. They had an awesome time! We’ve been enjoying hearing all about it and Caleb is sure glad “Ka” and “Cee” are back!

    We had a low key day yesterday. We picked up McAllister’s after church and then I bribed my boys to take a photo.

    While Caleb napped, I did a 5-miler in the heat. I’m trying to get conditioned to run in our heat again. Yesterday was definitely a step in the right direction. I did 5 in 36:03 (7:12/mile ), so I was happy.

    When I got back from the run, I was going to update my sign with a verse for the week, but K.C. took over. This is sweeter than any Mother’s Day card could be!

    Last night, my in-laws and niece came over to grill steaks for dinner. My sister and her boyfriend stopped by to visit, too. It’s nice ending the weekend with family!

    To wrap up our fun weekend, yesterday was two years since I found out I was pregnant with Caleb. After years of not knowing if I’d be able to get pregnant and then maintain a pregnancy, God blessed us with the incredible news that we were going to have a baby! This precious little boy fills my heart with so much love and laughter. He giggles, smiles, and just exudes happiness. He is the answer to prayers I’ve prayed since I was a young teenager.

    I say all this to give you hope. If you’re going through a tough time related to infertility or something entirely different, God will provide. He may not do it in the way you thought (there were years of trials and stress leading up to a positive pregnancy test that ended in miscarriage a few months later and a few months before I surprisingly got pregnant with Caleb), but He will provide. While I still don’t understand why it happened the way it did, why I lost a baby, or why it was so hard to just get pregnant (and I probably never will), I can say with true conviction that God is good. He was with me every single step of the way and He’s also right there with you.

  • faith

    Shine Your Light

    You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
    You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
    Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV) emphasis mine

    I often sing “This Little Light of Mine” to Caleb as we are in the car together each morning. During prayers with our older children, I always ask God to help them shine their lights for Him. And lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the light that I shine to others. Is my light bright and pointing others towards the Lord and a life of abundant joy? Is my light blinking like a flashlight that’s soon to run out of batteries? Or is my light barely able to be seen like the embers in a dying fire?

    While I wish that my light could always be as bright as the sun, I know that’s not always the case. Life gets in the way. Things happen. Daily stresses come into play. Instead of thinking of those distractions as pieces that diminish or even extinguish my light, I need to reshape my mind to approach all situations, even the unpleasant ones, as times I can be the light for others.

    We all play so many different roles – wife, mom, friend, employee/employer, volunteer, and on and on, and in each of these roles, we have people looking to us. I hope that in all my roles, those around me see God’s light.

    Does this mean I have to be perfect? Does this mean I can’t get frustrated or upset? Does this mean I have to have it all together? No, and thank goodness, because I’m certainly not those things! What it means is that I need to live in a way that shines God’s light.

    If I’m having a rough day at work, instead of snapping at someone for walking in while I’m in the middle of preparation for a big project, I can be gentle and kind and put my focus on that person.

    If my kids are bickering over something (more than likely Nerf guns and what games to play in my house), instead of fussing, I can try to solve the disagreement in a quiet manner. If they don’t want to do homework, want a short order meal, and just won’t listen, I can take a deep breath instead of getting upset.

    If I’m in the middle of something and someone calls me for something, I can talk for a few minutes to make sure there’s nothing that has to be done and then politely call back later.

    I don’t know about you, but as I sit here thinking about ways I can shine God’s light, I think about many little things that I can do differently to show others Jesus.

    Being the light for others can be as simple as a smile. It can be a genuine “how are you?” when you actually want to know how the other person is. It can be paying it forward in the coffee drive-thru, an anonymous purchase of someone’s lunch, or a quick “I’ve been thinking about you.”

     

    It’s so easy to get wrapped up into me, me, me that we forget about those around us – even those closest to us. We all have things going on – stresses, decisions to make, things we wish we could change – but the way we act under these pressures and react to those around us whether they’re in our home or people we pass by on the street each day, show what we’re made of and Who we worship.

    Let your light shine. There’s always a light shining on you by the audience around you, but let the light within you shine brighter. Be Jesus to the world.

  • goals,  month in review

    May Goals + April Rewind

    When the month turns to May, I immediately begin to think of all things summer. The beach, swimming, sunscreen, ice cream, fireworks, lazy days, laughter, and summer heat. In my mind, May is that time of anticipation for all the fun to come over the next few months. That said, we have a really fun May ahead of us, but before I get to that and my goals for the “pause” month, here’s a quick rewind to April. I’d love for you to join in today, too! Use the #maygoalsaprilrewind on Instagram to share your recap of April and goals for May! 

    April 2018 Rewind

    Now on to May!

    May 2018 Goals

    • Finish Caleb’s baby album. I started on this around Christmas, but I’m not quite done. I want to wrap up this project this month.
    • Read three books. I’m currently reading The Light Within Me by Ainsley Earhardt. I have
    • Run two races. I’d like to finish in the low 20s in one of these.
    • Start my Summer Bible plan. One of my goals for this year is to read the Bible through, but to be honest, I’m not doing very well with it. I’m reading my Bible, but sticking to the plan I started with has been challenging. I am using a plan on the Bible App, but I really miss reading out of my actual Bible. (I still buy books as opposed to the Kindle edition. I just can’t put down the real thing!) During church Sunday, I found an old Summer Bible Reading Plan that gets you through the Bible in 90 days. I’m going to start this today. I am not going to try to do it all in 90 days, but I am going to try to read half of the daily passages each day so I can finish before the end of the year. I also got out a new journal to use along with this.
    • Organize Caleb’s closet. Please tell me I’m not the only person in the world who puts out of season items other places. In our house, all our kids’ closets and the guest room closet have some of mine and Kevin’s things in them. It’s time to to find new places for our stuff (or purge those things we don’t need). I’m going to start with Caleb’s closet because I think it’ll be the easiest.
    • Determine a new design for our laundry room shelving. I don’t think I shared this here, but a few weeks ago, we had a major problem in our laundry room. An entire cabinet fell down. We don’t know what happened. All we know is Kaden went in to get some candy (yes, I keep candy in the laundry room) and an entire cabinet unit was on the ground. Things were mashed and smashed and broken. It was just a mess. I have a few ideas of how I’d like to fix this room and want to finalize the idea portion this month.
    • Clean out the closet under the stairs, do new pieces for the mantle, and a new centerpiece for our dining room table. These three things are always on my list I feel like, but I just haven’t done them. Our den opens all the way to the second story of our house which means I really need something tall on the mantle. The arrangements I’ve had on either side of the mirror have been there for a while, so I’m ready to do something new. I also need to go through the coat closet which really becomes the catch-all closet.

    Those are my goals for May. In addition to those things I really want to get accomplished, we have some fun things to look forward to.

    • My sister graduates from Clemson next week! We can’t wait to watch her walk across the stage.
    • Mother’s Day is next weekend. I always enjoy this weekend.
    • I have two races planned.
    • My summer schedule officially starts this month, so I’m looking forward to more time at home with my little ones.

     

    What fun things do you have planned for May?

    What are your goals this month?

  • baby,  motherhood,  parenting

    10 Baby Products You Can’t Live Without | The First Six Months

    When I was pregnant with Caleb, I scoured the Internet for lists of “must have” baby items. I wanted to make sure I had everything I needed as a new mom, but I also didn’t want a lot of excess. I’m definitely not the mom who wanted five different types of pacifiers or three kinds of swaddlers (Caleb didn’t like to be swaddled at all, so I’m doubly glad I didn’t buy a lot of those.). I wanted enough gear that would make our lives easier as we transitioned to a family of five and not things that would barely be used like a diaper genie or wipe warmer.

    So what did we use? Here are the 10 items that definitely made our lives easier the first 6 months.

    Halo Bassinest
    Caleb in his Bassinest on his first night at home!

    HALO Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Bassinet – I am so glad we were gifted the HALO Bassinest! Initially, I had grand plans of putting the baby in his crib in the nursery from the first night we were home, but the voice of reason (ahem, my husband) convinced me that getting up multiple times in the night with a newborn was going to be challenging at first. I’m glad I changed my tune. It was nice having Caleb in our room for both the ease and comfort. I found I was able to sleep better with him right beside me. We were originally going to transition him to his room and the crib for nights at six months, but when he started pulling up around five months, we quickly moved him to his nursery. He started napping in his crib around two months, so we didn’t have any trouble with the transition. I highly recommend this HALO Bassinest!

     

    Boppy

    Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, babyImage may contain: 2 people, people smiling, babyImage may contain: 2 people, people smiling, baby

    Boppy Newborn Lounger – The Bobby was awesome. I loved being able to put Caleb on this while I got some things done as well as for tummy time. We used this all the time until he started rolling over. Our boys loved having him on the boppy on the floor with them, I loved it for when I was getting ready, and Caleb just really seemed to enjoy his boppy time.

     

    most wanted item - Britax® B-Agile 3/B-Safe 35 Travel System Black

    Britax B-Agile/B Safe Travel System – I am so happy with the choice we made on the baby seat/stroller combo. This was the item I was most concerned with. I wanted the safest seat that was also easy to carry and this one definitely fit all the requirements. While it is a little pricier than some travel systems, it is definitely worth it. There’s a one-click system to loaded the seat in the car or the stroller. The stroller is very easy to use, too. I can open it with one hand.

    While we obviously use the seat each day, we also use the stroller a lot more than I anticipated. Even though he’s older and we have an umbrella stroller that’s so lightweight, I find that 8/10 times, I still use this stroller. Caleb seems to be more comfortable in it, it has a shade, and I can throw my bag under the stroller.

    In the Tula at a few weeks old.

    Tula Baby Carrier – The Tula is just great! When Caleb was little, I used it inside and outside while I played with our big boys. As he’s gotten older, I still use it a good bit. Caleb has ridden hundreds of miles in the Tula whether for long walks down the beach or hiking in the mountains. The carrier is still really comfortable for me and he’s 26 pounds. The waistband is really supportive and my back does not hurt even after hiking two or more hours with him in it.

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    Angel Care Baby Bath Support – We loved this baby bath tub. I used it from his first bath until he could sit up in the tub well enough for me not to be scared. I loved that I could just put this in the tub instead of having to fill up something separate for him. He has always loved bath time and it was so cute watching him kick his little feet while he was in this.

    Baby Einstein Activity Jumper – We used this a lot! This is usually for older kids, but I wanted to go ahead and include it on this list because we started using it as soon as Caleb could sit up really well. His feet couldn’t touch the floor at first (even on the lowest setting), so we put pillows below him. He loved the little red bird on it.

     

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    Fisher-Price Deluxe Bouncer – This bouncer was very useful! Caleb loved being in it. He didn’t seem to be crazy about the vibrate function, but he loved the music. He napped in this some. I used it a lot in the kitchen while cooking or while we ate dinner.

    Motorola Digital Baby Monitor with Two Cameras – The monitor we have is out of stock, but this is a similar one. I didn’t really have a preference on a monitor. I knew I wanted a camera, but that was all. Target had a great deal on this one on Black Friday, so I ordered it. We don’t use the dual cameras with Caleb, but our big boys have enjoyed using them when they play spy games! I love that I can speak into the monitor and Caleb can hear it in his room. I also like that I can play music through it. I’ve been really happy with this.

     

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    Infantino Play Gym and Fun TeePee – This was a great gift! Caleb’s big brothers enjoy it as much as he does. We used this for tummy time and mobile play at first and now it’s just something fun for him to have for playtime.

     

    Sophie la Girafe Teether

    Sophie la Girafe – This is the cutest thing ever and Caleb played with and chewed on his all the time!

     

    There you have it: the 10 items that made the first six months easier! I’ll share things we used the rest of his first year later. And if you’re interested in other baby gear that worked well for us like bottles, pacifiers, and clothing, I’m happy to put a post together on those things, too!

     

  • gifts,  motherhood

    Mother’s Day Gift Guide

    Mother’s Day is just around the corner. I can hardly believe it. I feel like I just finished Christmas shopping and over a quarter of 2018 has come and gone. That said, Mother’s Day is a great way to show our mom’s just how much we care for them with a little something special. Today, I’m sharing some gift ideas to make your Mother’s Day shopping easier. (Take notes, babe!)

    Lisa Leonard Designs Jewelry

    stacking rings {sterling silver}

    (Photo via Lisa Leonard Designs)

    For Christmas, I received three of these stackable rings with my boys’ names. It was one of my favorite gifts.

    Kendra Scott

    Ethan Gold Pendant Necklace In Aqua Howlite

    Necklace 

     

     

    I love to read and I absolutely love to be given books. There are a few great books just released that will make great Mother’s Day gifts.

    Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering

    Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering – my sweet mom surprised me yesterday and let me know she has this for me! I can’t wait to dig in (literally!)!

    The Light Within Me

    The Light Within Me: An Inspirational Memoir – I read an excerpt of this book a few days ago and can’t wait to read the whole book. Plus, she’s a South Carolina girl like me!

    The Secret to Southern Charm – I know I keep talking about this book, but seriously, it was so good!

     

    Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life – I’m dying to read this book (hint, hint!)!

     

    Grateful Bags

    I LOVE my Grateful Bags! I love that the monograms are interchangeable. I have a few different styles that go with my bags and love them. I use the tote for work, have a clutch that’s great for a night out, and two smaller bags that will hold my phone, lipstick, and keys. Trust me — this is a great gift!

    MantraBands

     

    Bracelets - Always In My Heart

    I love my MantraBands. They have been a go-to gift for me and everyone I’ve gifted with one has loved them (or so they say!).

    In addition to the above, anything that can be used to make the moms in your life feel pampered are great – mani/pedi, bath salts, bubble bath, or nice pajamas.  Cute journals, chocolates, and handmade cards are always loved, too. Whatever you choose to give, remember, moms are special and more than anything, they just want to be reminded how lucky you feel to have them.

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