Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday Favorites!

WHOO HOO!!! It's FRIDAY folks, and HOW LONG has it been since I've done Friday Favorites?! 

I'm going to milk my energy and good health for all it's worth right now....because I feel like I was in a long season of just YUCK, and I know the newborn stage is just 3 months around the the blog will yet again, likely take the back seat....

But for now, let's chat about my favorites this week! 
1) I am LOVING some Emily Ley right now.  She is the designer behind The Simplified Planner, which I do not have (they are sold out), but I just finished her book Grace over Perfection.  It was a breath of fresh air.  She talks about all the aspects of mommyhood and the challenges that come with it, but combats it with how to give yourself grace in all the seasons. It's not over complicated or super-theological, just good ole fashioned godly encouragement.  This week, I received her second book, A Simplified Life.  This is more of a logistical book about how to purge and declutter...from your mind, to your schedule, to your kitchen cabinets.  I'm in full nesting mode right now, so I'm super eager to purge and organize. This book is a great is a great guide on how to make that happen.  Even better, I got an alert on Facebook that Emily herself is coming to Dallas next week for a book signing! So I'll be there with bells on! You can find her books on Amazon here

2) Speaking of purging, I had a Come To Jesus meeting with all of Greyson's toys while he was at Mother's Day Out on Tuesday. After his birthday in October and then Christmas, it was OUT OF CONTROL. This place looked like Toys 'R Us had thrown up.  I just couldn't take it anymore. I ended up with a bag of trash toys (like JUNK), and two boxes and a bag of giveaway toys.  I reallocated the several of the favorites to the new upstairs playroom.  And it was so freeing.  We ended up with ONE basket on the floor that is not overflowing with mountains of toys.  


The playroom is starting to take shape.  I still have lots of fun decorative details to add, but at least we have storage space where all toys can be tucked away.  This sight just makes me take a deep breath.  WHEW. It took several trips to multiple Ross stores, but I managed to end up with all matching bins.  They were just such a good deal that it was worth the hunt.  (Cute storage stuff is SO expensive if you need a lot of it!


3) Another victory this week was in the closet under the stairs.  As you recall, THIS used to my "baby jail"....

Once Greyson got old enough to conquer the baby gate, it ended up being a toy closet.  And you know how that goes.  After a brief attempt to keep it organized and straight, it ended up being a  dumping ground for EVERYTHING.  ALL THE THINGS.  Toys, gloves, hats, jackets, swim bag, balls, and costumes, which are IN ABUNDANCE right now.  Everything just ended up on the floor in a panic-attack-inducing pile. So after my toy purge, I hung hooks on the walls and now everything is off the floor ! I realize this would be much more effective with a "Before" picture, but I was pretty much too embarrassed to take one.  So here's the end product, everything has a home and is easy to get to.  And all the mamas said....#AMEN.

 4) Another thing that is making my life easier is my new Apple Watch.  I have been "watching" : )  these for a LOOOOONG time and couldn't WAIT to get one.  I'm typically not the techy-new product guru, but this thing has changed my life.  With a two story house, I no longer need to carry my phone around with me every time I switch floors.  I can read text messages on my arm without going around to look for my dinging phone.  (This is especially handy for the ones that don't need to be responded to right away.) I can even take/make calls on it and continue doing what I'm doing! Since I DON'T have my phone near me as much, I tend to look at it so much less, and therefore, not waste time sitting there scrolling/trolling while G is wanting me to be "involved".  And when I DO start working out again, it'll track my heart rate, Fitness goals, etc.  I"m totally a fan.

5) This week I also simplified our meal planning and signed up for the Six Sister's Meal Plan service. I don't mind cooking but I'm in a menu rut so I tend to procrastinate meal planning, which leaves us eventually coming full circle and eating the same thing every week because then I'm just trying to get food on the table.  I always thought-if someone would just tell me what to make, I'd do it! Well, this service is exactly that.  It's $10 a month and sends you 6 main dishes, two sides, and a snack recipe each week.  (I signed up for the Healthy Plan option which is all 500 calories or less per serving.)  They send you the menus on Friday, so I was able to order all the necessary groceries/make my list at the beginning of the week.  I was scanning through all the ingredients and making my list, when I finally scrolled down to the bottom....and found a pre-made grocery list already there!!!! I could have literally taken it to the grocery store OR just gone straight to it to start adding those items to my cart.  The recipes were simple ingredients and instructions. Our first few meals have been really good, so I am certainly a fan so far! It really was a relief for me this week, and come on..I'd spend more than $10 on one trip to Chick-Fil-A! Can't wait to see next week's menu! 

So that is my week of favorites.  Clearly there is a "simplify" theme here, and I sure hope it keeps up! Well....until Baby Taylor gets here...and then I KNOW our lives will be turned upside down! 

I hope you had an amazing week, and I'd love to hear some of YOUR favorites! 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

New Year Goals and 2017 Review!

Well, here we are folks, 10 days into our shiny new year of 2018 and so far, so good.  The PLAGUES (flu, stomach virus, etc.) are ALL AROUND us  (literally, Jeremie had the flu and we are flanked by sick neighbors), so it will be by the grace of the Good Lord if we don't get it.

Looking back at 2017, we had quite a year.  Greyson transformed from babbling baby to a talkative, independent toddler.   (The changes from two to three are amazing.)  Jeremie's business officially launched and is full steam ahead.  We had some getaways, did some of our favorite traditions, and made wonderful memories. There were also some painful times and tough struggles, but as always, the Lord was present and waiting.  Waiting to strengthen, waiting to comfort, waiting to provide peace.  I've been in Romans 8 this week with BSF, which talks about the Spirit working within you and though you.  And I realized that I need to "keep in step" (Galatians 5:25) with the Spirit at all times.  It's easy for me to feel joyful, thankful, and in a "good mood" when things are going right, but when circumstances are tough, I tend to let that dictate my attitude.  I tend to write seasons off as "Well, this is just going to be a bad season"...or I just have my head set on "getting through it".  By doing that, I miss the every day JOYS of ordinary life.  And trust me, with a three year old, there are so many precious moments to cherish during the day. (Even the "bad" days.)

So that's one of my goals for 2018. To live life TO THE FULL.  Even Christ says: "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  (John 10:10).  If He is the light of the world, and He lives inside of me, I should radiate His light.  I know this is going to be ESPECIALLY hard this year with a newborn.  Even with the thrills and joys of a newborn, the newborn stage brings loss of routine, isolation, sleep deprivation; essentially ALL the circumstances change. I will struggle in this. So I'm already praying that I can embrace the change and let the Spirit work peace and joy through me during this time.

On a lighter note, I do have all the fun and typical New Year's goals this year! I'm in full nesting mode right now; I want all the cabinets purged and cleared out! I don't know if I'll actually be able to accomplish all this, but I am gonna try to have a reckoning with a lot of my JUNK.

In reality, my Goals before Baby Taylor is born (so within the next 3 months) are:

1) Transform Guest Bedroom into Greyson's "Big Boy Room"
2) Put crib back together and transform boy nursery into.....GIRL NURSERY! YAY!
3) Organize/store/clear all pictures on computer and phone.  (Something tells me I'm gonna need the storage space.) I do NOT look forward to this task.
4) Review all insurance/phone/subscriptions/TV plans.  I feel like we set them up so long ago, that there might be changes we can make to save money here and there.
5) Finish Greyson's playroom.  That's right.  I said I'd never have one.  But the super mature un-used "Home Office" is now baby-gated and has ALL THE BINS for ALL THE TOYS.  #adulting #parenthood #babyjail

Ok! So let's briefly relive 2017, shall we? I love looking through all the monthly recaps.  It really is fun (and sometimes scary) to look back at a year of life to see what all has taken place.

I'm looking through some of my 2017 pictures/posts and you know what I'm thinking??? SKINNY.  At almost 26 weeks pregnant and over 20 pounds heavier (I can say that because I'm pregnant), I look at myself from last year and I'm a little jealous.  Bless it.  Maybe I will see those jeans again.  Maybe not.  Heaven knows.

So here we go! (You can click on each month to read the full riveting details.)

In January, Greyson got the stomach virus SO terribly that it sent us to Children's Hospital twice.  It was a nightmare, and seeing this little guy so sick just broke my heart.  I shiver at the mere thought of January.  Just the word January smells like vomit to me.  I sure hope this January is different.

By February, we were on the road to recovery, so Jeremie and I took a little weekend getaway to Houston and we did a family trip to the zoo and the rodeo.  What a calm month.  How delightful.

March brought lots of park trips, Cowboy Day, grocery store tantrums, and our refrigerator went out. We did make our annual Spring Break trip to Mississippi, where I established the first Annual "Professional Development Day".  (Essentially a day where I dump my kid with someone else and get my hair cut and do whatever I want to do. I highly recommend you mark yours on the calendar.)

APRIL. OH APRIL. If January smells like vomit, then April definitely smells like a whole bunch of pee. We began potty training on April Fools Day.  And I'm pretty sure the emoji I would use for the month would be...

We attempted our Annual trip to the Ennis Bluebonnet Festival which ended in me having a nervous breakdown in the Tractor Supply and crying all the way home.  (And yes, it had to do with potty training.) You can read all about that glorious treasure of a day here.

We spent Easter in Mississippi, which was a last minute decision, but just what we needed to come up for air with the stress of potty training.  (Speaking of coming up for air, Greyson did fall in my in-laws pool that weekend.)  Anyway, I am proud to update the world that Greyson has been fully potty trained for several months now and it is great not to be changing diapers...well, for at least another 3 months.  ; )

May was crazy and busy.  We celebrated our Mother's Day, our 8 year anniversary, ended school, started summer, and celebrated Memorial Day with a last minute weekend getaway to the Adolphus, where we played in the pool and ate lots of watermelon. J built us a sandbox and we took an emergency trip to the doctor on a Saturday morning due to a mosquito bite that had G's eye swollen shut.  Sounds pretty typical, right?

We really kicked off our "Summer O Fun" in June, by hitting splash pads, the pool, the Cowboys practice field, and even started swim lessons! We celebrated Father's Day and my birthday with a trip to Legoland and Rainforest Cafe. That's what happens when you get older, you pick things on your own birthday that you know your kids will love.  ; ) We made our annual summer trip to Mississippi , and took Greyson to his very first movie on Father's Day.

July was full of more pool time, playdates, and the most fabulous beach vacation with our family. I even got to sneak away for a few days with my ole Tallahassee girlfriends who I haven't seen in 5 years! It was incredible!

By August, I was sorta losing my mind waiting for school to start. And now I can reveal that I had found out I was pregnant that month, hence the picture of delicious French Toast. (Apparently this is my ultimate pregnancy craving.). I was a little behind on my August recap: a foreshadowing of what the entire first trimester would be like.  It TOOK ME DOWN Y'ALL.

September was full of pumpkins, festivals, and nap times on my part. We took a trip to the Hyatt Lost Pines for a Labor Day getaway, and it was just what our little growing family needed! We also met my parents in Ruston and took Greyson to his first MSU football game! He loved it and it was a much better experience than I anticipated with a toddler!

We boarded the crazy train in October, and to be honest, I feel like we just got off.  This month really started the holiday season shuffle, as we celebrated Greyson's birthday, Halloween, and all the theme days that come with it.  Jeremie and I did manage to sneak down to College Station for the Aggie game while Greyson had his first sleepover with Aunt Jorie and Preston. Greyson thoroughly enjoyed October and all the costumes that came with it.

November was a WHIRLWIND. We had G's THIRD birthday party, took a trip to Waco, then Fayetteville, found out we were having a girl, and muscled through Thanksgiving with the worst sinus infection EVER.

Nona came to rescue us on December 1st...and then....

December 2nd. I got the call that my precious Grammy had passed away. It was indeed expected but the hardest news to accept.  I can assure you that she lived a long life full of all the things she probably ever dreamed of: a devoted, loving husband, children, grandchildren, cross-country travels, and years of fun traditions and beautiful memories.  I want to emulate her sassy, loving spirit, and her talent of making even the most simple things something special.

We did get to enjoy a lot of our favorite Christmas traditions This December, including The Polar Express, our Downtown Dallas overnight, Christmas movie day, looking at Christmas lights, and my Annual Girls Pajama Party. Greyson even got to experience his first "real" snow while we were in Mississippi.

Whew!  And that was 2017! What a fun way to look back at the ups, downs, and in betweens.  

I can't believe that we'll be adding another family member in just a little over three months! Our monthly updates are about to look very different! A little baby and a lot of crazy is certainly awaiting us! 

I hope that you are having a wonderful New Year so far! Here's to 2018! 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

This December

And last but not least.....the December recap!  I made it!!! December was a tough month for a lot of reasons, but we still managed to squeeze in some fun and joyful memories.

On exactly December, 1st, Nona made another attempt to fly in to give us a weekend of relief.  She could tell I was really struggling to get over my sinus stuff, and Jeremie was just crazy busy at work.  

She flew in on Friday, and that evening, we headed to the Polar Express in Grapevine since we already had tickets.  This is the most precious event! Greyson throughly enjoyed himself this year; he was the perfect age for it!  

We were able to get our annual-terrifying-picture-experience with Santa while we were there. Greyson was a hot mess the whole time we stood in line, but SOMEHOW the magician of a photographer pulled this out.  

Last year, it was literally 30 degrees the day we went, but this year, the weather was more "Texas-winter", so we got to enjoy outdoor stuff too.  

I did not wear pajamas this year because my belly pretty much pokes out of all of my own pajamas.  I've resorted to Jeremie's white t's.
The train was decorated beautifully!!!! So magical!

Much like any other "character" such as Santa or the Easter bunny, Greyson was skeptical of Mrs. Claus.

When you pull back into the station, they have "transformed" everything into the North Pole, complete with a Christmas tree stroll through the "snow".  

Afterwards is a cute and brief little show that included the big man himself.  Greyson shockingly sat on the stage the entire time!  Santa mixes up some "Magic Snow Milk", and afterwards everyone gets a mug.  (In reality it's the best chocolate milk you've ever had.  Pretty sure Santa does mix up some magic in there. )

Greyson was chugging it like it was happy hour.
On our way out, Nona and G hit the carousel. 

This is one of my favorite Christmas events in the area; I hope that Greyson (and Taylor) love it for a long time....

Sadly the next morning, I got news that my sweet, special Grammy passed away.  She had been sick for a while and was on hospice.  But the news was still just so hard to take.  There are no words for how special this woman was to me.  We spent countless hours together and her cheerful spirit and love for her family was just incredible.  I miss her so much already.


So the next few hours were spent making plans and packing up for Mississippi.  Greyson ended up flying back with Nona the next day. (God just situated an available seat next to her on a flight that is usually full.) Jeremie and I drove, which is much quicker and simpler without a toddler.

Grammy's service was beautiful, but it was certainly a tough few days.  After the funeral, we were able to spend some time with my family, which was good.

We finally took Greyson to see "The Star" movie, which was absolutely adorable!

My dad gets in full character while entertaining G. : ) 
 We went to the Bounce Park, and Greyson stayed behind the cannon most of the time.

And shockingly, the day we were supposed to head back to Texas, Mississippi was hit with a random blizzard, which has happened maybe twice in my lifetime.  They got more snow than New York City that day.  Since J had already headed back to Texas, my parents had planned to drive me back.  We of course said the heck with it and played in the snow! Greyson LOOOOOVED it!  I was so glad he got to experience it!

Our sad attempt at a snowman. Of course my mom just happened to have a little Texas themed cowboy hat! ; ) 

Snow in the country is absolutely beautiful. 
The next day, after a quick stop at Dairy Queen, we hit the (LONG) road to Texas with CC and Pop.


And because I didn't have the heart to cancel, and I needed a party in life that week, the next night, I hosted my Annual Girls Pajama Party and Gift Swap.  (Fortunately, my mama was there to help me quickly get ready! She's the original Master Party Planner!)

This year we swapped all things "Drinkware" and we all ended up with darling mugs, cocoa, teas, and glasses. This is one of my favorite traditions! 

On Tuesday, Greyson's class hosted a "Happy Birthday Jesus" party, and they sang "Away in a Manger" while they rocked "Baby Jesus".  It sort melted my heart.  Greyson is gonna be just fine with little sister. Just look at his perfect holding technique while all the other babies are strewn on the floor....that's my boy.

We decorated sugar cookies at his party. 
And they presented us with all of their darling Christmas crafts. 
On Wednesday we headed to Aunt Jorie's house for our Second Annual Christmas breakfast and movie day. Jorie whipped up Christmas tree waffles this year.  PRESH.

We all exchanged Christmas gifts, and although Baby Taylor is not here yet, she is already getting spoiled.  (See the darling maroon tutu in the background?)

We ALL spent ALL day in our pajamas watching Christmas movies and eating snacks.  My kind of tradition.

We also made "Reindeer Food" to sprinkle in the yard on Christmas Eve. It was super simple and darling.  You can find what we did here.

The next night I attended a cookie swap party. (It hit me the night before that I was supposed to bake two dozen cookies the next day.) Fortunately, I found a SUPER SIMPLE cookie recipe in my Six Sisters cook book.  They were 4 ingredients and I literally whipped them up in 20 minutes.  They are called Fudge Crinkle Cookies, and you can find the recipe here! I've never been to a cookie swap party, but MY OH MY, I'll never miss one again!  I sure hope my friend makes a tradition out of this! Everyone brought 2 dozen cookies and we all sampled, voted on the best one (super hard to choose), and we all got to take away boxes of ALL of the flavors! We were eating cookies for days!

The next night we did our Annual Overnight Christmas date to Downtown Dallas.  (We've been doing this for 5 years!) This year, we took Lil G with us and went to the ICE Exhibit at the Gaylord before heading downtown.  I've been wanting to do this for years, and this year was the first time we felt like G was old enough to appreciate it.

Okay, so my official review on the ICE Exhibit is that...well folks, it's COLD. Not like "freezing point" 32 degrees cold, IT'S NINE DEGREES IN THERE. That even made our Michigan friends raise their eyebrows. They give you parkas before you go in, and don't get me wrong, the exhibit is absolutely incredible and beautiful.  I really have no idea how they make all that out of ice. But it's SO COLD that we really moved fast and didn't stop to stare and enjoy too much.  It's definitely something that everyone should experience once though!

Seriously, the WHOLE SLEIGH is ice.  Everything you see! 
This area had actual ice slides you could go down, but G was having none of it. I was still amazed at this room and the gorgeous green ice Christmas tree.   
 After you exit the ICE Exhibit, there is a huge room with all types of fun Christmas-y activities, entertainment, and snow tubing slides, which cost extra and we didn't participate in.

Afterwards, we went to the hotel side of the Gaylord and the Atrium is over-the-top in Christmas decorations.  It was gorgeous.  There are huge trees, gingerbread houses, a model train that goes up in the air; it's amazing!

This is a GINGERBREAD HOUSE! Definitely doesn't look like the Costco one that we crafted.

Overall, we had a good experience, but it wasn't my favorite Christmas activity we've ever done. Granted, we went on a Friday afternoon/evening, so it was EXTREMELY crowded.  I can't imagine what the weekends are like.  If we go back next year, I'll probably just take G to eat at one of the restaurants and enjoy the decorations in the atrium.

Afterwards, we headed downtown to eat at one of my favorite areas, Trinity Groves. This time, we tried the Italian restaurant, Saint Rocco's. It was warm and delicious and hit the spot.  So far, we've tried Souk, Amberjacks', and the Cake Bar there, and everything is outstanding!

It's just got a great atmosphere and beautiful views of the city.

We were totally zapped by the time we made it to the Adolphus.  I love this hotel.  They got our room mixed up this time, but at the end of the day, we were drinking hot cocoa and eating chocolate chip cookies, so we were happy campers.

The next morning we ate breakfast at Ellen's Kitchen and did some trollin' around Downtown.

On our way home we stopped at the Galleria to see the famous Christmas tree and ice skating rink.  In our 5.5 years here in Dallas, we have NEVER been to the Galleria! How crazy is that?! We found another "BIG D" sign and made our way in!

The tree really was impressive!!! We shopped around the mall for a few minutes and headed back to the 'burbs! Our little 24 hour escape was perfect and is always my favorite Christmas tradition! 

We ended the weekend with our Home Group's Christmas party! And I have no idea why this picture turned out like this, we were NOT bigger than our Christmas tree this year.  Total illusion! : ) 

Little G stayed in his pj's and played with the babysitter. ; ) 
 We had a great time with our sweet friends.  Couldn't do life here without them. 

The next week was spent preparing and traveling to Mississippi for Christmas.  You can read all about our trip here. (Spoiler alert-Jeremie and the flu the whole time we were there.)

We returned to the Lone Star State the day before New Year's Eve, so we spent NYE just resting, eating, unpacking and decorating our Gingerbread house that we never got around to.....

I made my famous cinnamon rolls for breakfast... 

The gingerbread house was a fun activity, but it CERTAINLY looked NOTHING like the picture on the box.  Regardless, it brought a big smile to Lil G's face. Still not sure if this will make the Christmas bucket list every year.  #uncrafty #handcramps #toomanypieces
We rang in 2018 with the Eastern Time Zone and called it a night. 

I'll admit, this Christmas season held lots of heartache.  It was my first Christmas in 33 years to not get a hug from my sweet Grammy.  Years ago, she gave me this "Little White Church" as she called it.  It had been in the attic with the rest of my Christmas decorations when the fire happened, where everything was destroyed. Everything except the "Little White Church".  So I thought of her every time I passed this beautiful gift. 


But as Grammy would have wanted, we found joy in a season that I know she especially loved, and made sweet memories.  She was so excited to know that our little baby GIRL is on the way, and this is certainly one of my favorite gifts to look forward to this coming year!