Guest Suite: The final touches!

The guest room is getting so close to being finished!

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Truthfully, I had expected that we would be totally done with the project by now. We started the project in the last week of October and the estimated project length was roughly 4-5 weeks.

When the old shower was ripped out during the demolition stage, we realized there was plenty of unusable space behind the wall and decided to expand the shower and add a bench. This addition made our project timeline more like 6 weeks. So we hoped to be finished right around mid-December.

By December 20, almost everything was completed. But then the remaining projects unfortunately stalled. Right now we have three remaining projects that need to be finished:

1 – Add a shelf board to the top of the half walls in each room.

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Since these are basement rooms, we have a half wall of concrete foundation that juts into them. I’ve made this into a kind of accent piece by adding board and batten to the front of each wall, but we still need to finish it off with a stained board on top. It’ll create a nice shelf for guests to use when finished! We planned to use the same boards that were originally there to save some money, but we realized that the board and batten made the wall wider than the original shelf. Justin just picked up new boards this week, so our weekend goal is to get them cut, sanded, stained, and ready to install!

2 – Close off the former TV nook built-in with doors to make it a linen closet.

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The previous homeowners had a TV in their built-in cabinet, but since the space is boxy and doesn’t fit modern TV screen sizes well, we are closing it off with new doors and turning it into storage for extra blankets, pillows, towels, etc. for guest use. Our contractor is finishing up our doors this week (the only reason this got delayed was because of the holidays) and will be installing them Saturday!

3 – Order and Install a new vanity counter top

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This vanity has been a source of frustration for a while. We originally hoped to replace the entire thing. I really wanted a floating vanity, but in order to do that we would’ve had to totally rework the plumbing and dig out a bunch of concrete. It would’ve added a lot of cost to the project and we decided we would rather put the money towards making the shower bigger and more functional than just getting a different style vanity with essentially the same function. Now that the shower is finished, I think that decision was definitely the right one! Here’s a sneak peek:

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Unfortunately, the nook for the vanity space is a little awkward. It’s 39″ wide in the front and 38 1/2″ wide in the back. Standard vanities either leave too much of a gap on the sides for things to fall down or are too big for the space. A fully custom vanity wasn’t in the budget, so we decided to add a piece of wood on the sides of the old vanity to make it flush with the wall, paint it and add new hardware, and order a custom counter top. I contacted a company with great reviews to help us out. They came out and did measurements and were going to get back to me within 2 weeks. After hearing nothing for 3 weeks, I reached out and the woman explained that she had a death in the family and wasn’t expecting to have so much time out of the office around Thanksgiving but should have the estimates soon. Totally understandable. So I waited. And waited. And reached out 2 weeks later . . . and have heard nothing since. It’s been seven weeks since they came out to measure but they’ve essentially ghosted me. I’ve had to start over at square one which is extremely frustrating. I just went to another company’s showroom yesterday, and have another one to reach out to today. Hopefully we’ll be able to make some decisions and get a pretty quick turnaround because that’s really the last thing needed to make the bathroom fully functional!

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Other than that, I’m just figuring out final details like hanging artwork and installing towel hooks. Our window treatments get installed next Wednesday and we have guests coming Thursday (they’ll have to use the sink in the basement kitchen outside the guest room since that won’t be finished yet). I cannot wait to share the finished space soon!

Let’s Look: My bedside table

I had so much fun linking up with Erika and Shay for their “Let’s Look” blog series last year that I’ve decided to join in again this year. On the first Wednesday of each month, they host a topic that takes a look into a different aspect of your life. Last year we looked at everything from our pantries to what we pack in a suitcase to our favorite binge-worthy TV shows. It’s kind of all over the place and fun and gives a peek into random things that I normally would never write a blog post about.

, Hello, 2020!

The first topic of the year is one of those that I’d never think to write about on my own: bedside tables.

Here’s the thing. I love styling a bedside table. Now that our guest suite renovation is almost complete, I’m having so much fun setting up the room and arranging the nightstands. Here’s a little sneak peek of my progress so far:

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However. As much as I love a nicely styled bedside table, I am a toddler mama, and my toddler is in. to. everything. Since my room is one of the places he has access to, he often roots around in my nightstand. I used to keep things like a picture frame, a plant, and a candle on top but now I need to keep the surface clear of breakable objects. I also used to keep lots of little things in the drawers, such as cards from Justin, a lotion bar, c-section scar cream, notes, etc. but too often I had a scene like below where LJ would pull everything out of the drawer and throw it on my bed or on the floor.

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All that to say, my bedside table is now nothing special and actually is pretty boring. The main thing it now houses is . . .

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. . . books! I snapped this picture yesterday but this is what my nightstand really looks like on any given day of the year. I have my stack of library books on top, a stack of books I own that I want to read on the bottom, and the book I’m currently reading is next to the bed. The only other things I keep out are my phone charger and baby monitor.

Inside the drawer I keep a few journals, pen and pencil, my Kindle charger, my nightguard (I am a notorious grinder), and some lavender essential oil (I occasionally sprinkle a few drops on my pillow). That’s it!

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Like I said, it’s nothing special! One day I hope to have a pretty, more styled nightstand but for now, this toddler mama will have to be content with just her stacks of books. 😉

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What’s on your bedside table?

A Simplified Calendar

I don’t know about you guys, but for me, yesterday actually felt like January 1.

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Right?! So true! And because New Years day was a Wednesday, it felt like the holiday even got extended a few days into the weekend. It’s been nice to relax and enjoy low power mode, but when yesterday rolled around, I was super motivated to get us back into a routine.

I love the freshness and clean slate that New Year’s brings. I love the way the house feels bright and fresh without all the Christmas decor and I really love the crisp, clean look of a blank calendar! There is something about some open white space on a calendar that feels so rejuvenating to me after the busyness of the holiday season.

As I look at our calendar for January and February, I love that it doesn’t feel heavy. It feels light, manageable, and we have plenty of white space to just enjoy life without filling it up with tons of obligations. Today I thought I’d just share a few ways that I keep our calendar simple and manageable these days. These tips might not work for every family, but these are what works for our family!

Guard weeknight evenings

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We try not to plan a ton of things in the evenings, but we do have a few standing obligations from week to week. Tuesdays are Justin’s late day at work, Wednesdays I attend a cycling class (and often take some time afterwards to run errands or just sit in a coffee shop to recharge), and every other Sunday evening we have small group at church. Other than that, we try not to schedule much in the evenings, especially during the week. This keeps a built in time to recharge and allow us to have family time without stretching ourselves too thin. Sometimes, there are things like a work dinner Justin needs to attend or a girls night for me, but for the most part, we try to keep evenings free. When we do have a night of hosting friends for dinner (about once a month) or going out for a date night during the week, it’s fun and feels like a treat! Eventually I know our evenings will get busier but for now we’re enjoying that time at home with our little ones.

Keep day-to-day structure the same

In general, our days have the same rough outline. Wake-up/breakfasts, change and get ready, then we leave the house for an hour or two. We come back home for lunch, naps, playtime, dinner, baths/bed. Now, of course there are days that don’t fit this mold but in general, that is our routine. It helps tremendously in simplifying our calendar because I only need to really change up one thing each day: what are we going to do in the morning?

So, what do we do in the mornings? I have a few ways of simplifying that too!

Keep a few recurring activities

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Tuesdays, LJ has in-home speech therapy and then we pack up and go to the library for story time. Wednesdays, we go to my bible study (childcare is provided!). Every other Thursday, I meet with a group of friends for a book study/small group while our kiddos play in the host’s basement. These are activities that we do every week on the same day at the same time, so I don’t even have to use any brain power to figure out what to do or when to leave the house. It makes things easy and then I only have to figure out a plan for Mondays, Fridays, and every other Thursday.

Have morning “go-to’s”

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For Mondays, Fridays, and every other Thursday, I have some go-to options that I keep in mind and alternate through so I’m not always spending a lot of brain power to come up with an activity from scratch. Some of my go-to’s are:

-go to the zoo (we have a membership, so it’s easy to go for just an hour or two and it doesn’t feel like a waste of money if we’re not there long)

-play at the library (many of our local libraries have great little play areas for kids!)

-trampoline jump park (they have toddler time on Fridays!)

-play date with a friend either at our home or theirs

In the summer we also have options like splash pads, playgrounds, and parks. And some mornings, our “activity” is really more of an errand like a doctor’s appointment or grocery shopping, although I try to do these errands when I have a babysitter or Justin is home so I don’t have to take both kids to the store. It happens though!

Say “no”

I have a whole blog post about saying no, but the bottom line is, I have learned over time that sometimes saying no is the best thing I can do for myself and my family. When I’m stretched too thin, when we’re running from activity to activity, when naps get skipped or we get out of sync, it makes a noticeable difference in my family. We get cranky, our days seem less enjoyable, and we just feel “off.” So I say no to things that I know will mess up our routine. We say no to activities in the afternoon, because that is when LJ naps and I know from experience that no activity is worth messing up naptime right now. I say no to things before 9 am, because it’s took hard for us to get up and out the door without feeling rushed. We say no to back-to-back evening activities that involve our whole family. We keep our normal routine and structure 99% of the time, so when something comes along that is really worth disrupting our routine, we can say yes and know it won’t throw us off too much because the rest of days are still normal.

By sticking to a general routine, having go-to activities in mind for getting out of the house, and saying no when saying yes would stretch us too thin or throw our routine out of whack, we keep a simple calendar with plenty of white space for when things come up. Just the way I like it. 🙂

What do you do to keep your calendar simplified and manageable?

December 2019 Book Reviews

Happy 2020!

I’m so excited that my first post of the decade is a monthly book review. These are my favorite posts to write so it seems like the perfect way to start of another year on the blog.

In terms of reading, 2019 went out with a bang. I read twelve books in December. You read that right – TWELVE! Most of those books happened in the cozy time between Christmas and New Years; life seems to slow down in that period of time and it allows for lots of time to read while cozied up by the Christmas tree. It’s just the best!

I loved 11 out of 12 of the books I read and I’m excited to share them so let’s get started!

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The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Lucy and Joshua are coworkers and enemies who spend their days playing hate-fueled games at their competitive jobs. One day, a new promotion is announced and tension increases as they’re both vying for it. As things escalate, they actually get to know one another a little better and realize perhaps they don’t hate each other as much as they thought they did. I really enjoyed this book! There weren’t really any  unexpected twists and turns, it was just good old fashioned chick lit fun. I enjoyed the characters, thought the storyline was fun and interesting, and was invested in watching Lucy and Josh’s relationship develop. I will say, it has some pretty rated-R scenes and language, so heads up if you try to avoid that.

The Other’s Gold by Elizabeth Ames

This book follows four girls who are strangers to one another when they are assigned as roommates in their freshman year at college but quickly become best friends. The book is broken up into four chronological sections from college all the way to motherhood and describes how their relationships with one another grow and are tested as each girl makes her biggest mistake. While it was intriguing to see how the other girls reacted to one another’s mistakes, I found that I didn’t really love the story because I didn’t really love or connect with the characters. We’ve all done things we regret terribly, and I think I would have liked this book more if I liked the characters more or understood what made their friendship so everlasting despite huge differences? I’m not sure. Also, when a book is centered around things people do that they regret or that alter lives, you see the underbelly of human motivations. Seeing what led each girl to her mistake often left me feeling sad (or even icky) but I think that is actually an indication that the author did a great job exploring why and how we are led to make mistakes. Overall, I finished the book and felt just so-so about it.

Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

This book reminded me of The Golden Hour because it follows completely fictional main characters that have interactions with a character that actually did exist in real life. In this case, we meet two characters, perfumer Sophie and press photographer James who are brought together by none other than Grace Kelly. Unlike the Golden Hour, I actually felt like the famous person and the events from history played a big part in the plot. One day, Sophie is running her little perfume shop in Cannes, France when Grace Kelly unexpectedly ducks inside to escape being photographed by James. Sophie hides Grace, but meets James in the process. Their brief encounter sets the wheels in motion on a chain of events that will eventually connect all three characters as they prepare for the wedding of the century where Grace is to become Princess of Monaco. This is the type of historical fiction I love best and I found this book to be a delightful read. I was charmed by Grace (and spent tons of time on Wikipedia afterwards learning more about her) and fell in love with James and Sophie. I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say that I wish the authors had chosen to do something different with one aspect towards the end. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to my fellow historical fiction lovers.

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

I received a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas and as Justin and I traveled to Virginia to spend time with his family I got to put it to use. This book has been on my To Be Read list for a long time so I was excited to dive in.

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This thriller follows Amber, a woman fueled by her poor upbringing and desire for money and power, and her quest to befriend/manipulate beautiful socialite Daphne and insert herself into Daphne’s world. I’m not going to lie, the first part of the book was frustrating to read and I had a hard time enjoying it BUT then about halfway through things shifted and it became addictive. I was completely fascinated and flew through the rest of the book. Now, without spoiling anything, I will say that this book had some very similar elements to another book I have previously read. Because of that, there were a few things that were meant to be shocking that I already suspected thanks to to the other book. I wish I hadn’t read the other one first because I actually liked this book SO much more and think it would have been even better with the element of surprise. Even so, I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend!

Haven Point Series (Books 1-8) by RaeAnne Thayne

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I’ve been following Megan’s bookstagram (an instagram account devoted to books and reading!) lately and have discovered that she and I have similar reading tastes. So when she raved big time about this book series, I knew I had to check it out. Guys. This is the perfect lighthearted reading! It’s like reading a Hallmark movie in book form. Sweet, fun, romantic (but not rated-R *steamy* if ya know what I mean 😉 ) and enjoyable! I got through EIGHT books in the 10-book series (they are all super quick, easy reads that I can finish in a day). While I do have my favorites, I liked them all! I’m not going to recap each book, but just the series in general. The books are all centered in a fictional town of Haven Point, Idaho and they alternate between happening at Christmas time or in the summer (book 1 at Christmas, book 2 in summer, book 3 in Christmas, so on so forth…). First of all, it’s a good thing that Haven Point is fictional or I’d be packing up my family and moving to Idaho. The town sounds adorable! And each book centers around two residents of the town and their journey towards love. Each book can stand alone, but it’s fun to read them in order because you see snippets of all the characters throughout one another’s books (so you read how characters A and B fell in love in one book, then in a future book that centers around characters C and D, one chapter may include C and D at the wedding of A and B. Or you meet one character in book one, and even though her love story doesn’t happen until book 8, you see a little of her backstory so by the time you start “her” book, you feel like you know her a bit. Does that make sense?) I’m honestly so glad I found this series when I did because it was absolutely perfect to read snuggled up by a Christmas tree. I still have a few more books in this series to read (and then there’s a sister series called Hope’s Crossing that also has some character crossover) so safe to say I have a lot of RaeAnne Thayne in my future when I’m craving some lighthearted love. If you cringe at the thought of a Hallmark Christmas movie, this series probably isn’t for you. But if you enjoy them, I recommend checking this out!

Whew! What a way to end the year, huh? I have lots of books already on my TBR list for 2020 (and one of my 20 for 2020 goals is to read 60 total books) so here’s to another great year of reading!

What’s on your “must read” list this year?

19 for 2019 + 20 for 2020!

I can hardly believe it, but today is the last day of 2019. The last day of this decade! Ten years ago, I was a junior in college. I thought my life would be headed in one direction, and it ended up heading somewhere vastly different. Ten years ago I absolutely never would have pictured this life I’m living now but I am fall-to-my-knees grateful for where I’m at. This has been a challenging, beautiful, exciting, and fulfilling decade and I’m really looking forward to the next one!

At the beginning of the year, I shared my goals instead of resolutions (dubbed the “19 for 2019” list thanks to my beloved Happier Podcast). I wanted to review the list today and share what I accomplished, what I didn’t, and what I decided was better to let go of. Then I’m sharing my “20 for 2020” goals. Looking at this list, I’m excited for all that is to come this year!

My 19 for 2019

1- My #1 goal for 2019 was . . . BABY #2. We weren’t sure if that meant we would actually have a baby in 2019, but we at least hoped to be pregnant even if it meant the baby didn’t arrive until 2020. I’m so very happy that we were able to expand our family and have loved the past 4 months with our sweet little girl.

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2- Plan an adults-only trip for Justin and I – Done! We planned and took an adults-only babymoon to the Bahamas and it was just what we needed. It was relaxing, fun, and just a wonderful vacation for us to reconnect and enjoy time together.

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3- Update instagram account and create Chatbook for LJ – Not done at all. In fact, I ultimately decided that keeping up with my instagram goals and creating a chatbook was just not a good use of my time. I decided to accept that and move on from this goal and I’m happy with that decision!

4- Select pictures for family photo albums – Ugh, no. I really hoped to have been able to make this happen, but it just didn’t. This is a project that I just need to set aside several hours (honestly, probably days) to do, and I hope to accomplish this in 2020.

5- Plan out family photo albums – Again, zero progress. 2020!

6- Create a master list of my top book recommendations – DONE! I wrote a blog post about my top recommendations that you can find here.

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7- Replace our ugly brown recliner – I would say this goal is partially complete. In college, Justin spent $20 on a used (and ugly) brown recliner. The recliner was sent down to the basement (which was progress), and then this year we did get a new sectional for the basement. So the recliner has been replaced, but Justin is still resistant to actually getting rid of it so we do still have it set off to the side. Here’s hoping 2020 will be the year we can actually move it out of the house!

8- Write and track our monthly spending budget – This is an ongoing goal, so it’s not really “done,” but we did a pretty good job of this. I’d say there is room for improvement and we’re hoping to keep getting better and better with this.

9- Send birthday cards – Again, an ongoing goal that’s hard to fully complete, but I did sent many cards this year and definitely plan to keep up this habit. It’s fun!

10- Find a local tailor – DONE! I found a local tailor that has done everything from fixing holes, hemming pants, adjusting the bridesmaid’s dress. It’s so nice to have these little projects taken care of!

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11- Find a reliable, nearby babysitter – DONE! We found a college girl who lives about 10 minutes from us and is great with our babies. She not only watches the kids in the evening if we want a date night, but she also has no classes on Tuesday afternoons so every other week she comes for a few hours to hang out with LJ so I can run errands, make appointments, etc. It’s WONDERFUL and we are so thankful for her.

12- Have house siding washed -Done! Except we got it done for our old house…and now out new house needs it too. Definitely a 2020 project!

13- Find comfortable black heels – The search continues for this one. I looked and tried some on, but I’m struggling to find a pair that is actually comfortable.

14 – Plan our will with an estate lawyer – Done! I have to say, this felt really good to check off the list. It is so hard to imagine the “what ifs” and can feel kind of morbid to talk about what you want to happen in various situations, but the reality is we are going to die some day so we need to have a plan in place. It is a relief to also know that our children will be well taken care of and our wishes are known if something happens to both Justin and I.

15- Invest in buying plastic alternatives – Again, an ongoing goal so never really “done” but I have invested in several items: stainless steel straws, glass containers to store food, thinx, and reusable bags to use in place of ziploc. I recently purchased a shampoo bar (instead of shampoo in a plastic bottle) and I’m excited to see if it is effective. I also put some things on my Christmas list and am really pleased with the alternatives I’ve accumulated this year!

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16- Set up accounts for LJ’s future – Done! We’ve set up his 529 plan!

17- Have budget meeting with Justin for each paycheck (roughly 2x/month) – Ongoing, but we have done pretty well with this. There is always room for improvement, and for 2020 we’ve decided to do mini check-ins on Sundays to help keep us accountable.

18- When buying clothing or shoes, look for fair trade, ethically made options – I haven’t bought many clothes because of maternity and now not being quite back to pre-baby size, but I did buy a fair trade purse and fair trade clutch for LJ’s diapers as well as a few other purchases from a shoppe whose mission is to provide fair trade, ethically made products that support survivors of sex trafficking and I’m very proud to contribute to their mission. While I haven’t necessarily bought fair-trade clothing, I have bought a lot second-hand which is at least a very sustainable option and I’m happy about that! And I read The Conscious Closet which gave me lots of ideas for how to make better choices with clothing in the future.

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19- Learn more about finances (401K, 403B, investments, etc.) – I did okay with this one. I mostly listened to podcasts and did gain some insight but there is definitely still a lot I don’t know!

Overall, I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made! And now, let’s look ahead to 2020!

My 20 for 2020

1 – Plan a dreamy office/reading room. We have a room in our house that is currently used for storage and as a back-up guest room, but it would be the perfect space for built-in library shelves and a cozy reading chair. We may not be able to actually complete the room in 2020, but I want to at least map out our plans and start to budget for it!

2- Select pictures for family photo albums.  Didn’t happen in 2019, but I’m going to try to do this in 2020!

3  – Create family photo albums

4 – Update the Simplify the Chaos website. I really want to change around some of the pages and organize previous posts a little better. It’s a lofty goal for me because I know so little about working with websites but I know I’ll be so happy when it’s done!

5 – Replace basement carpet. The carpet in the basement is dated, worn, and bubbles up in places. Replacing it will make a big visual impact and be a little more functional for us, as the current one has a high pile and is hard to clean. I’m also hoping once we move furniture out for the carpet to come in, the ugly brown recliner doesn’t make it back in the house. 😉

6 – Update book recommendations list. I’m so glad I was able to create a master list of my book recommendations (read my post here), but I need to make sure to update it because I’ve read SO many great books since then!

7 – Get a dip manicure. I know I’m pretty late to the game here, but I’m so intrigued by the nail dipping trend and want to try it out! I love having painted nails but hate when they start to chip and don’t have time to constantly repaint them. I think this would be a fun little splurge to try sometime. 🙂

8 – Invest in footwear with a purpose. I kind of had this goal last year, but I’m modifying it a bit to say: I want to buy a pair of shoes that has some purpose. Either it’s fair trade, ethically made, eco-friendly, or a combination of all three. I’m specifically looking at a pair of Rothy’s or something from The Root Collective. They are definitely investments, so I want to make sure to find something I love and will wear all the time.

9 – Try at least 5 brand new (to me) foods. I am not a super adventurous eater (unlike my husband, who will try anything at least once) but I want to expand and go outside my food comfort zone more. Justin and I have a trip to New Orleans planned this year and I am psyching myself up to try lots of new foods there!

10 – Set up a 529 for Vi. We did this for LJ in 2019, so we need to set one up for Vi now!

11 – Read 60 books. This averages 5 books a month. Lofty for sure, but I like a challenge!

12 – Take a continuing education class. Even though I’m not currently teaching, I want to keep my teaching license up to date and I need to take classes to do that.

13 – Host a big summer party. When we moved into our new house, we knew that we wanted to have it be a gathering place for family and friends. We want to do a lot of work on the house, but we also don’t want to wait to have people over. So we’re just going to do it! We want to host smaller events too, but one goal is to have a ton of people over in the summer and just have a great big party with loved ones.

14 – Update Vi’s room. We kept the nursery very simple and gender neutral, but now that Vi is here, I’d like to spruce it up just a bit and add some girlie touches.

15 – Plan a family staycation. There are so many cool things to do in our area but we get complacent doing the same things over and over. I want to plan a fun family day (or maybe weekend?) of checking out local places we haven’t yet experienced.

16 – Take LJ to swimming lessons. This is a huge one for my list. We have done lessons at the YMCA already, but I’d like to have him in a more individualized lesson.

17 – Create something. I’m not exactly sure what this one will look like, but I’m feeling a desire to stretch some of my creative muscles in some form or other. Vague, but I hope by including this on my list, I’ll be inspired!

18 – Have professional family photos taken. I snap approximately 23428375938 pictures on my phone, but it’s always so nice to have some gorgeous, professional photos taken to document a stage in our lives. This time with little ones goes so fast and I’d love to have some beautiful pictures taken of it.

19 – Actually use my InstantPot. I was gifted an InstantPot like 2 years ago and I’ve used it exactly one time. It sounds weird but I’m kind of intimidated by it.  I haven’t taken time to learn how to use it and honestly, I love my crockpot and use it all the time so I haven’t felt the need to learn the InstantPot. I don’t like to have gadgets around that I don’t use, but I also don’t want to get rid of the InstantPot if it’s something I would actually love once I learn how to use it. So this year, I want to actually put in the effort to learn!

20 – Host at least 4 game nights. Justin and I love to play games and would frequently have friends over (or go to their houses) for game nights before having kids. Now that we have children and many of our friends do too, it’s hard to carve out time for this. I really want to make an effort though, because I think it’s important to still keep doing some things we adults love to do. I hope to host at least one each season (winter, spring, summer, fall) so we’ll see!

Do you have any goals for 2020? I’d love to hear them! May this be our best year yet!

Merry Christmas!

I can’t believe tomorrow is Christmas. This season has absolutely flown by!

Today I wanted to share our Christmas card, where we decided to stay true to what our life with two small children really looks like right now. We *might* have been able to get a good picture with everyone looking and smiling, but this crazy blooper reel felt much more like us. 😉

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Last year, on Christmas morning, we found out I was pregnant. Now, as I snuggle my sweet little four month old daughter while we both look at the Christmas tree, I am feeling all sorts of happy and content. It’s been wonderful to mostly unplug these past few days and enjoy the time with my sweet babies and our family.

From my family to yours, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a happy holiday season. ❤

Anticipation

Honestly, my capacity to write a blog post is pretty low right now.

Despite my best efforts to keep the holidays simple, I find that the week before Christmas still has some chaos. Last minute presents. Finishing Christmas cards. Preparing for travels.

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Amidst all that, we have normal life with a toddler and baby, and we’re trying to finish the last of our guest suite renovation. We had hoped to be finished with this renovation by now, but there were some things that happened along the way that have caused some delays. We now hope to have the bulk of renovation finished on Friday, although it will be at least another month before it’s completely done (we are waiting on a custom vanity top and need new boards for the top of the half walls).

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Even though things feel a bit unsettled and crazy right now, I find myself full of anticipation.

Anticipation for the renovation to be done – we’re so close and I’m ready to move furniture back in and decorate!

Anticipation for the look on LJ’s face when he opens his presents.

Anticipation for snuggling under a blanket on my parents’ couch, surrounded by my siblings, watching Christmas movies.

Anticipation for gathering with family around a delicious meal.

Anticipation for singing my favorite Christmas hymns in church (the Christmas service singing is always so amazing!)

Anticipation for celebration.

And it reminds me of all the anticipation that was felt all those years ago, as a young virgin prepared to give birth to a baby who was to be the Savior of the world. May we never forget the reason for this season. ❤

I hope you can find some joy in the anticipation this week!