33

On Saturday, I turned 33 years old!

I posted this on my Instagram stories, but having a 9/11 birthday often feels heavy, particularly on milestone anniversaries of 2001. My heart will never not break for all the tragedy and pain that this day holds; I feel it deeply and it’s gut-wrenching. At the same time, I am so grateful for my own life and the opportunity to get to celebrate another year of it. I enjoy celebrating my birthday and I love to make it a happy, fun day. Over the years, I’ve learned to acknowledge the tension between those two extremes and accept that they can coexist. I think of and hold space in my heart for all those who lost their loved ones in the attacks and the aftermath. I also have deep gratitude for the friends and family who always make sure I still feel the love and celebration on my birthday.

Friday, we had some friends come into town to stay with us for the weekend. They live 5+ hours away and we’re not able to see each other nearly as much as we’d like, so it was so amazing to have them come in to celebrate! Our kids have met before, but it’s been so long that none of them remember it – within five minutes of them pulling in our driveway, all four kids were playing like besties!

Saturday we enjoyed a slow morning at home and spent the early afternoon out at our pond soaking up the sun. My friend baked a stunning birthday cake that was as delicious as it was beautiful!

Around mid-afternoon, we headed inside to get ready for the evening. Our city has multiple rivers that connect downtown and Justin rented a boat called a Rum Runner – it’s a party boat that has a bar in the middle with stools all around and space to walk around as well. It was so much fun – my only regret is that I wish it was bigger so we could have invited even more people! The weather was absolutely gorgeous and we enjoyed a couple hours floating on the river, then hung out downtown and enjoyed checking out different open-air spots for food, drinks, and even dancing. It felt like everything just came together to make for a heck of an evening out and I enjoyed every second.

I decided to not share group photos on this public platform, but it’s hard for me to overstate how much I appreciated my friends and their efforts to come out and celebrate with me. Seeing fifteen friends from different stages of my life come together was surreal and so awesome and we all had a blast together. I ended the night just feeling so so grateful and loved!

Sunday was even more gorgeous weather than Saturday and we enjoyed time fishing, floating on the pond, and watching our kids play in the water before our friends packed up and headed home. It was such a relaxing way to finish a great weekend!

There are a lot of jokes out there about birthdays and aging that make it seem like getting older is a bad thing or something to downplay or lie about (“I’m 29 again!”). I have always tried to keep the perspective that age is truly something to celebrate. I lost one of my best friends to a tragic four wheeling accident when I was in college. Amongst all the other extreme pain of losing her, it was heartbreaking to know she would never grow older than a teenager. And having a 9/11 birthday, I’m acutely aware of the tremendous pain and loss of precious life that is associated with this date. These two events serve as a reminder for me that growing old is truly a gift, one we can’t take for granted. I specifically want to honor my friend’s memory and all those who perished on 9/11 by living life to the fullest – I am so thankful for thirty-three years of living life! And quite frankly, I wouldn’t go back to 29 anyways. At that time, I still hadn’t met either of my children. I hadn’t moved to a new house and started the adventures of renovation. I hadn’t met a few of my now very close friends. Each passing year brings new people, more personal growth, more strength in my marriage, more traveling, more experiences, more memories made with my little family – I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Here’s to making 33 the best year yet!

Friday Features {8.27.21}

We are currently en route to Pennsylvania for the weekend for Justin’s grandma’s memorial service. We’ll be gone all weekend so I thought it was a good day for a small roundup of Friday Features – just the random little things that have happened around here lately!

Cozy Bedroom Corner

A few weeks ago, I shared how I brought this gorgeous rust colored chair into what was a somewhat awkward corner in our bedroom and this week, I finally got around to finishing off the space. I considered adding artwork above the chair, but since I’ve included so much in the gallery wall I decided to print off and frame one of our new family photos instead. I like that the asymmetrical mat makes it feel a little extra unique! I snagged a small black table from Target and topped it off with a dried floral arrangement from a local florist with a candle and book. I also tossed a soft textured striped throw blanket over the chair. Now the awkward corner that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with is such a cozy spot in the room – I love it!

Playing Chalk

On Wednesday, Justin had the kids for most of the day while I got lots of work done and ran multiple errands. When I got home from one, they were all playing outside. LJ saw me and asked in his sweet little voice “Mommy, will you come play chalk with me?” It was one of those perfectly ordinary moments that stopped me in my tracks. I love that he loves to involve me in his activities and genuinely wants to play with me. He has such a sweet, tender heart and it was so nice to put everything else on the back burner and spend some time drawing shapes and lines (LJ “taught” me how to draw an x haha) with my little boy.

Vintage Sale Finds

I love going to @carpendaughter‘s vintage sale and this year’s was another great one! I scored some really cool pieces that I’m excited to incorporate into our home. I shared this on Instagram: “There is something about being able to find little treasures that are unique and come with a story and some history. They have passed through different hands, been part of different homes, and now they’re going to be part of ours. It makes me so happy!”

Unlocked Memories

While putting together our gallery wall, I wanted to include some special mementos of ours. It was so fun to comb through our memory box and find ticket stubs from concerts, movies, and museums, a coaster from a Wisconsin bar, our honeymoon boarding passes, notes, cards, and letters we wrote, chips from a casino event we attended, the list goes on! I loved how each item unlocked a memory of trips we’ve taken, events we attended, things we’ve done together. It’s just a special little collection of our relationship and I really enjoyed picking out a few things to display on our wall, including this museum pass from our trip to Italy several years ago. Art doesn’t have to be fancy and it doesn’t have to be the most special and/or valuable things. Frame what makes you happy – and this memento definitely does!

National Dog Day

Apparently yesterday was National Dog Day? Thanks to social media for letting me know! I don’t share much about the dogs these days, but they are definitely a big part of our family life at home! Macie is spunky and playful and always up for swimming, playing fetch, or doing anything with people. She’s slowed down a bit over the last couple years but she’s still our energetic girl! Scout has always been our more reserved boy – he loves to curl up and cuddle for most of his days, but he perches up on our landing so he can see out the window and is so faithful with letting us know when someone is coming up our driveway. He’s our little guard dog! We love our fur babies so much.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Vi is TWO!

I can’t believe I’m typing these words, but my baby girl turns two years old today!

Vi is my totally fearless adventurer. She eats pretty much any new food that is placed in front of her and she is always up for trying new things. She always wants to be thrown high in the air or climb up on the big kids playground or jump around in the bounce house. I think she’s a bit of a thrill-seeker!

She absolutely loves anything to do with water. Whether it’s splashing in the bath tub or playing in the water table or participating in swimming lessons or jumping into the pond (with her floaties on!), she loves to be in and around water. She loves to run into the pond and swim and swim and swim. Her current favorite movie is Luca and I think it’s because of all the water!

She also loves animals – she is interested in everything from a dog at the park to a horse in a pasture to a bug crawling on our floor. She loves going to the zoo (a surprise zoo trip is her birthday present today!)

Vi is a mama’s girl through and through. She insists on mama putting her down for bedtimes and naptimes and she’s always reaching for me and wanting to be with mama. I’m trying to soak it up now, because I know being the preferred parent won’t last forever!

Vi wants to do anything and everything her big brother does. While they often bicker and struggle to share, they are also really great about looking out for one another and loving one another well. They color together, play together, hug one another in the morning and blow kisses good night. I love watching their sweet sibling bond develop!

Recently, she has become very into dressing up. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve found her in my bedroom, trying on all my bracelets and necklaces. She also loves getting her nails painted and has started requesting dresses to wear during the day. For her birthday I made her a clothing rack for dress up clothing and asked our family members to contribute something to a dress up collection. It was a HUGE hit!

Her party was simple and didn’t have a theme or much in the way of decorations, but we did order some Luca-themed cookies for our water-loving girl.

My sweet V, I love you more than words can say. You changed our lives two years ago and we are so so grateful for every day with you. ❀

How We Minimize Gifts at Birthdays (+ Inspiration for Vi’s Birthday Gift!)

I cannot believe I am typing these words, but in one week from today, Vi will turn TWO. YEARS. OLD. What!?

We are having a small birthday party on Saturday with family to celebrate our sweet girl. I’ve shared this before, but until our kids turn three (in my opinion, the age they start to actually understand birthdays) we keep birthday celebrations very low key. Gatherings are small and family-only, food is simple, decorations are minimal, and we get a little creative with gift-giving.

To be clear, I’m throwing zero shade at people who like to go big on baby/toddler birthdays or shower their young children with gifts. Truly, you do you; we’re not judging anyone else’s choices. For me personally, planning an elaborate party feels like a lot of work and stress for low reward (my one year old is as happy with a single balloon as an entire balloon arch). And when it comes to gifts, which are generally toys, Justin and I just personally want to keep things at a level that is manageable for our family. Our house feels better when it’s not overrun with toys, our kids play with toys longer when they aren’t overwhelmed with choices, and at ages one and two, our kids don’t realize what they’re “missing out” on by not receiving toys anyways. Cards are always appreciated though and our kids love receiving them!

Today I thought I’d share what we do for their first and second birthdays (at age three, we ramp things up a bit – LJ had balloons and gifts and understood enough to be so excited to celebrate!) I’m also sharing our plans for Vi’s birthday gift this year, which also just happens to be my next DIY project.

First Birthdays: No gifts, but donations are appreciated!

A straight-up “no gifts” request can be awkward. Some people feel bad showing up with no gift, so they bring a little something anyways; unfortunately, this can then make those who listened to the request and didn’t bring a gift then feel bad because others brought gifts and they didn’t. It’s uncomfortable for everyone and can be frustrating for the hosts who truly didn’t want gifts. We have found that a solution that works for everyone is donations. No one feels uncomfortable arriving empty-handed, but no gifts are given and a great cause is supported. Win win win!

For their first birthdays, we asked that in lieu of gifts, anyone who wanted to could bring donations for a cause that was special to us. We are so thankful that our families were super supportive and happy to donate instead of buying gifts. For LJ’s first birthday, we collected books for a local organization that distributes them to hospitalized children and for Vi’s first birthday, we collected household items (paper towels, cleaning supplies, basic hygiene items, etc) for our church’s ministry supporting local families in need.

20200809_164139

I especially like this because it works for many budgets. People could bring one small, inexpensive item or multiple items. We didn’t unwrap them, there wasn’t a big production – just a table set aside for people to put donations on when they arrived.

I think it helps people to honor your requests if they can hear your reasonings for it and understand the impact they can have with their donation, so we send an email with the party details ahead of time. I usually say something like “While we are requesting no gifts for [child], if you would still like to bring something, we ask that you consider bringing a donation to xyz. This organization is important to us because of ____ and we’re looking forward to making a donation in [child]’s honor.”

Second Birthdays: One “big” gift + family participation

For LJ’s second birthday, we decided to give him one big gift – a secondhand train table – and we asked everyone in our family to decorate a train to go with it. This was actually a really fun way to get our families involved without getting a ton of gifts, and we loved seeing everyone’s decorated train. We have some super creative family members and it’s a truly unique train set that is so special! LJ loves it and has gotten SO much use out of it – much more than he would’ve gotten out of 15 individual toys.

20191126_084955

Which brings me to Vi’s birthday! We wanted to find a big gift that family could contribute items to in a way that fit her unique needs and interests. I came up with the idea to gift her with a small clothing rack (she is currently obsessed with trying on all my jewelry and shoes!) and ask family members to consider contributing something to a dress up collection.

As I said in my email to the family: “This can be a costume, play shoes, accessories, whatever! It can be new, it can be hand-me-down, it can be found secondhand, it can be an outfit, it can be a small item like a necklace or hat or something.” I didn’t want anyone to feel an obligation to spend lots of money or find something fancy because she will honestly love anything.

Trying on mama’s bracelets after church

My plan is to DIY the clothing rack so it fits the dimensions in our playroom perfectly. I don’t have much time (the party is in five days!) but it’s okay because I’m imagining a relatively simple design. I just want it to include a rod for hanging clothes and at least one shelf for storing a bin or two for shoes and accessories.

Here’s some of the inspiration I’ve gathered so far:

Credit: Target

Let Operation DIY Birthday Gift project begin!

Friday Features {08.06.21}

Happy Friday! I’m currently hanging out with Justin and two of our close friends at a lake house for the weekend and we’re loving some unplugged time reconnecting. I thought it’d be fun to just share another round of “Friday Features” – just some imperfect pictures of little moments that have been making up our life lately.

LJ’s Glasses

The big news around here lately has been LJ’s new glasses! Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect with convincing a three year old to wear glasses all day, and while we’ve had our challenging moments, overall it’s gone really well. I think he recognizes that they do help his vision so he’s overall pretty cooperative. I might be biased, but I think he’s also pretty dang cute in them!

New Chair for our Bedroom

I’ve talked before about how our primary bedroom is an awkward shape and too large, which has created some challenges with layout. There was one corner that was really giving me a run for my money, and after a friend suggested putting a reading chair there I started looking around to see if I could find the right fit. When I saw this rust-covered beauty in a local small business’s front window, everything snapped into place immediately in my mind! I still want to finish off the corner with a plug-in sconce of some kind and a little side table and throw blanket, but I’m already so much happier just having the chair there!

Lazy Pond Days

We have spent so much time swimming in our pond lately. The weather has been gorgeous and my kids are both obsessed with swimming. There was even a day where Justin offered to take them outside and swim so I could get work done . . . but then I decided work could wait because it looked too fun by the pond and I had to join. It’s so fun to watch my kids enjoy this childhood! I’m also glad that they’re both at the point where they’re happily content playing in the shallow end so I can occasionally just enjoy the warm sunshine and watch from the deck. Everyone wins πŸ™‚

Inclusive Playgrounds

On our road trip home from visiting family in Virginia, we stopped to play at a playground and I was thrilled to see communication boards installed around the edges! I taught special education for six years and simple additions like this make such a huge difference for children with communication needs – I’d love to see these pop up in playgrounds everywhere!

Our New Favorite Chicken Nuggets

Okay, I’ve posted some very random things here before but this might top the list of most random ever. I don’t even care though because these chicken nuggets are JUST THAT GOOD! We buy them at Costco and they taste just like Chik-fil-a; we also bought Chik-fil-a sauce to go with them and it was game over. They are a new family favorite and I’m now even more excited for chicken nugget dinners than my kids are.

That’s a little glimpse of life around here lately. Glasses, chairs, lots of outdoor time, and some chicken nuggets haha. I hope you have a great weekend!

21 for 2021 Mid-Year Update

After 2020 felt like it was 17 years long, it’s hard to believe but we’re now over halfway through 2021 (does anyone else feel like this year is going SO fast!?) I thought it would be a great time to check in with my 2021 goals to see how they’re going (or not going). This list is a mix of home goals, personal goals, family goals, and a few random others tossed in. I remind myself every year, it’s not about perfection but about progress! Here’s how everything is faring so far:

1– Get involved with our church’s foster care ministry. I’ve at least taken the first step here and have reached out to the person in charge of this ministry to let them know I want to be involved. Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts haven’t allowed me to help out yet but I’m hoping to be able to help out very soon.

2- Sort through 2013 pictures and create 2013 family album. I haven’t even touched this goal yet ha! I honestly don’t know if it will happen or not, but I’m still going to try to make time for it.

3- Register for Be The Match registry. Done! This process was super simple. Be The Match sends you everything you need and it’s a very straightforward process to swab and send your samples back in. This is something I have wanted to do for a while now and I’m so glad to officially be in the registry now.

4- Take LJ to swimming lessons. I feel like I should give myself some bonus points because not only is LJ currently taking swim lessons but so is Vi and they both love it! I was really hoping to get them into ISR but both instructors in our area are currently booked, so they’re taking lessons at a local swim school while we’re on the ISR waitlist.

5- Invest in footwear with a purpose. I haven’t done this yet, but I have my eyes on a couple pairs that I think I might be ready to pull the trigger on!

6- Continue to β€œlevel up” small areas of our house. This is an ongoing goal and so far we’ve upgraded the playroom light fixture, the mattress in our guest room, the curtains in LJ’s bedroom, and a few of the pillow covers in our living room. We’ve also replaced the window trim in the playroom with a chunkier trim (we’re slowly doing this throughout every room in the house). Just some small changes here and there that have made a big difference in the way our house feels!

7- Exercise at least 3 times a week. I have been exercising a bit more frequently, but still not 3x a week. I’m re-committing to making this a top priority for the second half of the year!

8- Give our bedroom some TLC. YES – although I’m not done yet! I’ve spent the past two months working on updating our bedroom and while I still have some projects on my list, I’m so happy with the progress I’ve made so far.

9- Commit to less screen time. I have not done a good job with this. I think it might be time to start actually using a timer to limit the amount of screen time, particularly on social media, that I have each day.

10- Learn how to use at least two new tools. I have not used any new-to-me tools yet but I have become a lot more confident with the tools I previously used. I especially feel much more confident with the miter saw and nail gun after replacing all the primary bedroom window trim myself! I’m counting that as a great first step for this goal.

11- Paint the main floor of our house. I would say this goal is about 75% done. I’ve painted the kitchen, dining room, and bottom half of our two-story foyer and still need to address our living room and the top half of the foyer and staircase. We’re slowly getting there!

12-Invest in a good night cream and eye cream. I still need to find a good eye cream but I have switched up my night cream and so far I’m liking the new one, although I’ll wait to truly review it until the end of the year.

13- Explore three new-to-us places in our surrounding area. Justin and I had a day date exploring a small town about 20 minutes outside our city and it was so fun to spend the day doing whatever we wanted: shopping, enjoying a bourbon and wine bar, dinner out, and splurging at a candy store haha. We’re hoping to find two other new-to-us places to visit, and ideally we’d like for at least one of those places to be somewhere we enjoy with the kids!

14- Build planter boxes for our patio. Well, we’re already halfway through summer and haven’t even started this project so I’m not sure it’s going to happen this year. Who knows though, maybe we’ll get inspired for enjoying planter boxes in the second half of the summer?

15- Create/enjoy a new family tradition. Last year we poured some hot chocolate and drove around to look at lights – I can definitely see that becoming a yearly tradition! This year, LJ was in soccer and we started having a weekly ice cream treat afterwards. Justin and I also recently had a day date where he took LJ to golf and I took Vi to the zoo; it was so fun to have special one-on-one time to bond! We plan to try to do this once a month, switching who takes who each time. I love small things like this that continue to build a strong foundation for our family.

16- Organize our utility room. I have taken one batch of things from this room to the local ReStore, but honestly, I need to commit a full Saturday to completely clearing this room out and re-organizing. It needs some serious attention!

17- Replace the boob lights in our house. Playroom, check! Dining room, check! I only have three more to go (two in our laundry room, one in our guest room).

18- Wake up before kids to have quiet time to start the day. I haven’t been as consistent with this as I’d like, but every morning that I do this, my day seems to go (or at least start) much more smoothly! I’m continuing to try to make this a regular habit.

19-Swap out our living room throw pillow cases. Thanks to a spontaneous decision at Ikea, I’ve swapped out half of the pillow cases so far. To be honest, I’m not sure the new ones will be staying super long term but the old pillow cases were in such rough shape (they’ve had large holes in them since Macie was a puppy seven. years. ago.) that I snagged a couple cheap cases at Ikea and they make the couch look so much better!

20- Support small businesses as much as possible. On our day date to a local small town I purchased a maple cutting board, linen napkins, and books for the kids from different small businesses. For our bedroom upgrade, I bought two gorgeous sconces from a small business in Texas called Illuminate Vintage. I’ve bought greeting cards from a vendor at our farmer’s market, small decor from a fair-trade business in my parent’s hometown, birthday gifts from our local children’s boutique…this is an ongoing goal that I’m going to continue to prioritize as I make future purchases.

21-Set aside one date night each week.Β We have been pretty good with this, although sometimes “date” is very loosely defined haha. Sometimes we play a board game, other times we go out to dinner, other times we watch a show together (we love This is Us and we’ve also really gotten into an older show called The Killing). Wednesday nights have become our night to set aside for time together and we’ve been able to stick to it almost every week so far.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with all the progress I’ve made so far this year and I’m looking forward to the second half of the year!

Friday Features {5.14.21}

Good morning! It’s been a big week this week, so today I’m sharing some of the things that have been going on with our home and family.

Kitchen Island Light Fixure

Our kitchen refresh is officially finished! I shared the first part of the reveal a couple weeks ago but there was one thing left on my to-do list: replacing the fluorescent light over the island! I ordered a new light fixture over a month ago but the original estimated delivery date was between July 29-August 2. Well for once, I’m thrilled that a shipping date was off by a couple months because the fixture arrived earlier this week! Justin installed it and we are both thrilled with how it elevates the look of the kitchen.

$1000 Kitchen Refresh

Piggy-backing off that, I love looking at these before and after shots of the kitchen. Justin and I have always intended to do a gut renovation of this kitchen and change the layout, but that is several years down the road. This refresh was a way to make the kitchen feel like the rest of the house without a huge investment of money. Fresh paint on the cabinets, walls, and window trim + updated backsplash from repurposed beadboard + new LED can lights + updated light fixture and bar stools = a kitchen that feels brand new. And the best part of this transformation is that it was right around $1000. Totally worth it!

Last Day of Preschool

And speaking of before-and-afters, yesterday was LJ’s last day of preschool. I cannot believe how much this boy has changed this year! The days are long, but the years really are so short. I went back and forth so many times about whether or not to send him to preschool, but looking back I’m so glad I did. He had a great year!

Mother’s Day 2021

We had a sweet little day with our family on Sunday. LJ went with Justin to the store after their haircuts on Saturday and picked out the brightest flowers I’ve ever seen. Justin said when he saw the balloons he immediately asked if he could get one for mommy. Melt my heart! I will always take the handpicked or handmade gifts over anything fancy. I love his sweet little heart!

We stayed in comfy clothes all day and it was pretty much what you’d expect for Mother’s Day with toddlers. I love being their mama!

Although I have to also include this picture – the day after Mother’s Day, things went back to their normal chaotic selves around here. This is truly my life as a mama haha!

Happy Birthday Mom!

And speaking of moms, today is my mom’s birthday! She is one of the most important people in my life and I am grateful for her everyday. It’s been so fun to watch her thrive in her grandma role these last few years – she is one-of-a-kind and we love her so much!

Have a great weekend!

Friday Features {4.23.21}

A couple weeks ago I put together a “Friday Features” post with a bunch of little things that made me happy or happened in our life lately. It was a fun way of documenting a few small moments of our life, so I’m going to make that a semi-regular feature on the blog. These posts are far from perfect – phone pics snapped in quick moment and random things that don’t necessarily have anything to do with each other – but they make me so happy to look back on. Perfection is overrated anyways, right?

Here’s what has happened around here lately!

Visit with Justin’s Parents

We hadn’t seen Justin’s parents since November, so we were all excited for their recent week-long visit to stay with us. The kids absolutely loved having so much quality time with their grandparents and a lot of really sweet memories were made.

Day Date with Justin

When his parents were in town, they watched the kids for us on Saturday so we could have a date day. We enjoyed having a bit of a staycation and spent the day exploring local shops and restaurants together.

Small Business Finds

It’s really important to me to support small businesses whenever I can, so it was fun to do a little shopping at several of them on our day date! I found a locally-made maple cutting board, some cute cloth napkins, two summer outfits, some bar soaps (I love using these in the shower and at my bathroom vanity as opposed to liquid in a plastic bottle), and a few new children’s books.

“New” Furniture

I shared before that I added a gallery wall to disguise our thermostat on the wall in between our living room and kitchen and as of yesterday, the wall has another addition. This antique commode was refinished by my maternal great-grandmother and has been in my parents’ home for years. They were willing to pass it down to me and I’m so excited to have this special heirloom in my home. I can’t wait to style the top!

Recent Thrift Store Finds

I love thrifting for home decor because it allows me to find some unique items that don’t just look like what everyone else has and it’s super sustainable! I recently popped in to my local store and scored this little dish that is the perfect size for storing sponges and soap in the kitchen . . .

. . . and I also found this cute little metal bowl that I just know is going to be a very versatile decor piece in my house! Both items together were less than $6 so this felt like a big win.

Second Pfizer Shot

On Wednesday, I received the second dose of my Pfizer vaccination. I did experience soreness at the injection shot, along with some fatigue and minor muscle aches and chills in the day following my shot. Thankfully, I’m now about 39 hours post-shot and I’m back to feeling great. I’m so thankful to have both shots done and am feeling hopeful for the future!

Have a great weekend!

Friday Features

Happy Friday!

Today, I felt inspired to write up a different kind of blog post than my usual. I typically share a lot of our day-to-day moments on Instagram and save the bigger things for the blog (like finished home projects, family milestones, etc). I’ve talked about this before, but as much as the blog is a fun way for me to share things with others, it’s also a great way for me to document parts of our life for us to look back on in later years. There are a lot of little things that, while they aren’t worth dedicating an entire blog post to, I’m feeling inspired to create a little space for on the blog. Friday seems like the perfect time to round-up a random hodgepodge of things from the past week or two and I love that it just gives a little glimpse into our life right now. I do plan to write little Friday posts like this more often, although I’m not sure how often they’ll pop up. We’ll see! For now, here’s what’s been on my mind lately:

Summer Weather

This week we had several days in the 70s which is just fine with us! We broke out the water table and other summer toys and cannot wait for fun in the sun.

Plant Refresh

I had several plants that were getting too big for their planters so the start of spring felt like the perfect time to do some transplanting. I bought a few new pots and just switching out a few plants and planters has everything feeling so fresh around here!

LJ and Vi Comparison

Earlier this week we went to a park we haven’t been to in a long time. Vi has recently started doing slides 100% independently and she is so proud of herself! I snapped this picture of her and it immediately gave me a flashback to LJ using that exact same slide when he was about her same age. I had to dig through my archives and I found a video of LJ that I screenshot so I could do a little comparison of my babies!

Spring Cleaning Closets

This past week, I went through LJ and Vi’s dressers and removed anything that they’ve outgrown or is not the right season (LJ is still in 3T, but doesn’t need sweaters for the spring/summer months). I also checked for anything that was stained or had holes or other major signs of wear – anything that fit this category went straight into a bag that I’ll drop off at a local company that accepts fabrics in any condition for textile recycling.

I keep large clear tubs in each of their closets to store clothes they’ve outgrown. I keep the bin organization simple – I keep sizes separate by using a piece of cardboard as a divider and slipping a piece of paper with the size marked in the bin so it’s clearly visible. It’s nothing fancy but this system works!

Consignment Closet Refresh

The vast majority of my children’s clothing is either hand-me-down from friends or was bought secondhand at a consignment store. I don’t like spending lots of money on their clothing. They outgrow sizes so fast that it doesn’t seem worth it to spend $20 on a shirt they’ll only wear for a couple months. Plus. let’s be honest. Kids are messy! I’m constantly removing stains from food, dirt, markers, etc. I prefer to spend $3 or less on a shirt – if it is still in good condition after it’s outgrown and can be passed down to another child, great! If it has holes or stains and needs to be recycled instead, it doesn’t feel too wasteful because it’s already been worn a lot. Secondhand clothing is cost-effective for me and sustainable for the planet – a win win!

We’ve already received a lot of hand-me-downs that will fit my kids this summer, so after going through their closets and getting the next sizes ready, I made a list of things they still needed. We took a trip to the consignment store yesterday to fill in their wardrobe gaps – LJ especially had fun getting to pick out some shirts for himself! We got all these items (plus one shirt he already wanted to wear) for $40.

Herself Podcast

I’ve talked before about the HERself podcast but I listened to episode 69 while painting the kitchen cabinets that really resonated with me. Their guest, Elicia, is a stay-at-home mom and talked about the balance of staying at home but also wanting to have something for herself outside of motherhood. She personally had a passion for her kids AND also had a passion with connecting with other women so she’s joining the podcast as an employee while staying home with her kids. They talked a bit about finding little opportunities to fulfill a passion or have a role outside of the role of mom. This spoke to me so much! I am so thankful that I am able to stay home with my children (though I’ve been honest that it isn’t always easy) and love being able to fill this role for my children and our family, but I’m also a wife and a woman who has passions and interests beyond motherhood. Reading is a way for me to rest and recharge, and I also find a lot of joy in using this blog as a creative outlet. Over the past two years, I’ve also really leaned into updating our house and sharing all our projects, big and small, and it’s become a huge passion of mine. I’m learning the value of the word and. I love my kids AND I enjoy some alone time. I like completing home projects AND reading bedtime stories. I love to nurture AND create. My kids are a priority AND so am I.

Aldi Juice Find

Does anyone else love Aldi? It’s my favorite place to stock up on all our basic grocery needs! I love that it’s inexpensive and you don’t get decision fatigue because there aren’t like, 82935792348 brands of ketchup to choose from. They also have lots of great organic options at a fraction of the cost of other grocery stores. I saw these juice pouches in the Aldi Finds section and decided to try them out – they have been a HUGE hit with my kids! They don’t drink juice very often but these pouches make for a nice little treat with less sugar than other brands of juice.

ASMR Home Video

I’ve been watching this video on repeat – it’s so satisfying to hear all these little sounds of home!

First Covid Shot!

Indiana opened up eligibility for those 30+ last week and I jumped at the chance to schedule an appointment. I got my first dose of Pfizer last Wednesday and was SO excited! My only side effects were a sore arm and some fatigue around the 24-hour mark (but after a nap, I felt great!) I’m so thankful for the efforts of scientists to make this happen so quickly. I’m feeling hopeful for the future and “normal” activities resuming soon!

Note: I’m not interested in debating vaccines on the internet. There are lots of great resources out there to help make your own decision – I personally found @kinggutterbaby and @jessicamalatyrivera to be great sources of information for me.

Have a great weekend!

One Year in a Pandemic: A Photo Journal

We’ve officially been in a pandemic for over a year. On the one hand, it’s hard to believe it’s been that long. On the other hand, it’s become so ingrained that it feels like it’s been a lot longer since life was “normal” (does anyone else watch TV made before March 2020 and think things like “OMG they just hugged!” or “Wow there are so many people there! And they’re so close together!”)

I originally intended to write a journal entry type blog post looking back over the past year, but I found myself procrastinating over and over. I think that I’ve been in a mode of just getting through this thing one day at a time for so long, and while I do sometimes stop to process what is going on, it’s such a huge thing that it’s hard for me to mentally wrap my mind around (and honestly feels triggering and defeating right now). I definitely have pandemic fatigue like so many others. We’re all ready for this to be done, but none of us actually know when it will be over. Summer 2021 is looking hopeful, and maybe at that time I’ll feel ready to do a look back over this time in a pandemic with two small children. Right now, I don’t feel ready to mentally take on that blog post.

Instead, I thought I would do a little visual look back over the year. This post is a beast with TONS of pictures. Quite honestly, I created this primarily to have a collection of some of our pandemic life all in one spot. It’s a little look into what the year looked like – what we did, what we wore (spoiler alert: 98% pajamas), what life was like. I fully understand that I might be the only one this invested in remembering what a year in our family life looked like, so feel free to skip this post if 83713491834 pictures isn’t your thing. πŸ˜‰

March 2020

Vi was dedicated at church on March 15, the weekend everything started shutting down. Little did we know that would be the last Sunday we’d step foot inside our church for over a year (we’ve been watching virtually ever since!) Justin and I were supposed to go to New Orleans the next week but that got cancelled so instead his vacation time was spent at home as a family. At that time it felt cozy and special to have quality time together and no other obligations. We had our first DIY Date Night and had no idea that a lot more DIY projects were in store for the following year.

April 2020

I did not leave my house this entire month except to go to the grocery store. Our Easter celebration was held over Zoom and we did a few small activities with LJ at home to celebrate. It was around this time that we realized that this pandemic wasn’t going away anytime soon.

May 2020

We entertained ourselves by painting toenails, lots and lots of playtime indoors, watching our farmer neighbors, and enjoying outdoor weather whenever we could. I enjoyed a sweet and simple Mother’s Day at home in our pajamas and got to meet my new niece towards the end of the month. πŸ™‚

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 20200510_180423-1.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 20200525_145550.jpg

June 2020

Even though it wasn’t a typically looking vacation, we were so thankful for Beach Week 2020 with family. At home, things stayed eventful with our AC system dying in the hottest week and LJ deciding to wash his hair in candle wax.

July 2020

We took advantage of our pond often and got to have my family over for an outdoor party which made this month almost feel normal.

August 2020

Justin’s parents were able to visit us for the first time since March and we celebrated Vi’s first birthday! We also got to go the zoo as a family and it was so nice to have a more ‘normal’ activity to do together!

September 2020

A milestone month for us – LJ started preschool! I was so thankful for in-person preschool and for a school that took tons of safety precautions. We also got to celebrate my birthday with four friends at an outdoor restaurant and my parents watched the kids for a day so Justin and I could have a mini getaway exploring Indianapolis outdoors. My middle sister and I also pulled off a big surprise by driving out to Virginia to celebrate our youngest sister’s birthday!

October 2020

Early voting, Halloween, and lots and lots of work on our home office!

November 2020

Back indoors for lots of playtime and we celebrated my tractor-loving boy’s third birthday! He also got a new bed and was preeeeetty excited about it. πŸ™‚ I had to include a picture of our kids eating apples too – they became obsessed with apples this year and would sometimes eat 2-3 a day.

December 2020

A magical month full of Christmas activities! The kids are at such a FUN stage right now and it really made the holidays that much more special. We didn’t travel to Virginia in December and our extended family gathering on my side didn’t happen like usual, but we had at-home date nights, Christmas jammies, gingerbread houses, and lots of special fun.

January 2021

Usually January feels about 78 days long, but strangely enough this year it didn’t! Maybe it’s because by this time, we were very used to just hanging out at home so it didn’t feel out of the ordinary.

February 2021

We got a ton of snow this month and had lots of fun playing in it. On days when it was too cold, we tried to get creative with new activities indoors – busy toddler tasks, baking Valentines cookies, and the big news: getting a bounce house to burn off our energy!

March 2021

Here we are. One year later. In the last year there have been days I’ve cried, days I’ve felt so overwhelmed, days I’ve yelled, and days I’ve really really struggled. Being the primary caregiver for two small children without regular help or the ability to go to places like the library, playdates, museums, etc has been so incredibly challenging. I don’t want to sugarcoat it – it’s been a tough year. But there have also been so many great memories of our time together at home. So many snuggles, forts, puzzles, laughs, getting creative with finding things to do (and TV shows, let’s be honest here). Time together like we’ve never had before and will likely never have again.

I’m feeling hopeful for the future. My grandparents and parents are now vaccinated (and so is our babysitter – hallelujah for a little more help around here!) The weather is warming up and we’re able to spend lots more time outside. We’re tentatively making travel plans for the summer and feeling optimistic about being able to do more things in a ‘normal’ way. I know we’re not there yet, but it feels closer and closer each day. One thing is for sure, this past year is one I will never forget.