Family, Holidays, Mom Life, Toddler Life

Valentine’s Recap

February may be long gone, but the memories made during the month are still fresh in my mind.

My husband and I have always kept things pretty low-key for Valentine’s Day. No extravagant gifts or fancy dinners for us. When it was just us, we used to go out for coffee and then on a ‘love day hike.’ Last year, our mini man was 11 months and still not the most willing hiking buddy, so we went out for a simple family coffee date. 2019 was the year of the love note and baked goods. I’m thinking it may just have to become our new tradition . . .

Our love note craft was very spur of the moment and a week or so early. We just so happened to pass an endcap with seasonal stickers while grocery shopping. I thought, toddler + stickers = 5 minutes of delight. There is nothing quite like the joy that a sheet of paper and $2 worth of stickers brings to a toddler’s day. Happy boy makes a happy momma! Not to mention bonus points for making Dad’s day when he came home to an artfully decorated love note.

Valentine’s Day fell on my husband’s Monday this year. Knowing we wouldn’t be able to go out for coffee, little man and I got up and baked homemade pop tarts (aka hand pies) that we sent my husband off to work with (along with a mug full of coffee, of course).

Little J loves watching me in the kitchen, and asks more and more to help out with whatever I’m doing. I simply can’t get enough of that little smile and his endless curiosity. All it took is one little twinkle of his eyes as he said, “Momma! Rrrroooll it!” Of course I couldn’t deny him the opportunity to help out. He had a blast learning to use the rolling pin!

Dad got treats to begin his work day, and you can bet Little J and I had our fair share of home-baked pastry goodness to start our Love Day off right!

Do you have any Valentine’s Day traditions?



Cozy Coffee Catchups

Imagine we’re sitting in a cozy, sunlight living room. Comfortably tucked into oversized hug-your-body chairs. Snuggled up to fashionably fuzzy pillows. A stylish coffee table between us. Two jumbo mugs of steaming coffee within arm’s reach.

If we were sipping coffee together I’d tell you . . .

About my haircut woes. William Shakespeare once said that ‘expectation is the root of all heartache,’ and I agree. The cut pinned to my hair inspiration board, that I showed my stylist, and that I expected to receive was a lightweight, textured bob (think Lucy Hale circa 2015). What I’m now sporting is in the realm and cute in its own way, but falls short of my desired look. A bit too round. Sans edgy chicness. Not textured enough to thin my mass amounts of hair into submission. It is by no means a bad haircut, thank goodness. Just not what I expected . . . Sigh . . .

I’d also tell you that my mini man is just 9 days away from officially being a TWO YEAR OLD. And how this milestone has me feeling unsteady. A mix of pride and heartache. Because watching him grow from a teeny, tiny preemie into a sweet and spicy little man over the past two years has been nothing short of incredible. And I now finally get why mommas cry over stuff like this. Nope, it’s not to be dramatic like I previously thought. Whoops! But because the heart can only hold so much emotion inside before it comes rocketing out like a shaken up bottle of soda. Oh, the sense of pride to see him grow mixed with a heart wrenching sadness over the fact that he’s growing up! . . . More sighing . . .

If you asked what’s bugging me lately, I’d let you in on my literal pain in the booty that keeps cramping my days. Sciatic nerve pain. Pregnant much? And how I’m attempting to combat it with a combination of wearing my super sexy maternity support belt and practicing prenatal yoga.

I’d tell you how much I’m currently loving my new maternity jeans. Thank you Amazon! Not only for having a decent selection of maternity jeans under $50, but for the unearthly convenience of not having to leave my house . . . I imagine you’ve got your own set of adorable rugrats and can totally relate with my bump style talk.

I’d also reveal my latest guilty pleasure TV show. Now, I may not know a thing about the Bachelor, but girl can I tell you all about getting hooked on the Masked Singer! And if you were caught up too, we’d talk about the mind blowing season finale.

Most importantly, if we were sipping coffee together, I’d want to know all about your week. What you’ve been up to and what’s new.  And I’d ask you to catch me up.


Inspire, Life


I’ve had my 2019 goals on my mind lately, and thought about doing a ‘goal check-in’ post, but realized I haven’t blogged about my goals in the first place . . . So, before checking in I suppose I should outline what my goals are.

I’m not your traditional New Year resolution setter. My goals are not fix-it goals. I don’t subscribe to the ‘new year, new you’ philosophy. I happen to like ‘me’! Instead, I’m more of the growth-oriented goals kinda gal. This year, I’ve decided to focus on personal development, self care, and pursuing things I enjoy.

It’s easy to write out a lengthy list of everything I want to accomplish throughout the year . . . And then subsequently forget over half of them in a week or so . . . Instead, I narrowed it down to just 5 things that bring joy to my heart in different ways.

  • Spending more time in the kitchen . . . Baking!
    Baking holds so much nostalgia for me. It brings back happy childhood moments. Of just learning to bake. The excitement of learning something new. Feeling so ‘grown up’ for being allowed to navigate the kitchen mostly unsupervised. Of eating cookie dough and licking the frosting out of the bowl.

    Early adolescence ruined my relationship with food, and that damage stuck with me through my mid-twenties. So much so that I avoided baking for years and years because I’d labeled it as ‘unhealthy.’ And while I feel I will always be repairing this relationship in some way, I’m in a much better headspace with my health and my idea of what healthy living is.

    So, this year I’ve decided to get back into my baking groove. Nothing is off the table. From healthier bakes to classics and truly decadent creations, I am giving myself permission to bake my heart out.
  • Living a more balanced life.
    Balance. There is a fine line between taking on too much and just enough. Especially in the season of life I’m in right now.

    I used to be the girl who threw herself headlong into mountains of work. Piling on the projects. Never saying ‘no’ to anybody. Whether it be to take on a larger workload, head up another project, or help out a teammate. For years, I felt a sense of pride in always being busy . . . Until I realized that I was only using work as a band-aid to cover up other areas in my life where I didn’t feel so much like a rockstar. Namely my anxiety and depression. If my schedule was jam-packed, I literally had no time to think of my inner self. Good, right? So WRONG.

    Stepping out of the corporate world and into 24/7 mom world has be a huge change for me. And yet, it can still be super easy to let old, unhealthy habits creep back in . . . If I just use nap time to do all the things, then I can rest later. But of course later never comes because there is always something that can be done that feels more pressing and less selfish than doing something just for me.

    I’m really working on being more intentional with my time overall. Saying ‘no’ to certain things so that I can then say ‘yes’ to things that are life giving. Realizing that ‘no’ can just mean ‘not right now’ and isn’t always a definite. Choosing to be in the moment when little man is awake, instead of trying to do it all. Scheduling everything. From grocery shopping, to structured learning, playdates, my workouts, dedicated study blocks, etc . . .

    And possibly even more importantly, I’m learning to be okay with the fact that not everything gets checked off my list each and every day. Feeling more than just okay when little man and I have a lazy day, and instead being grateful for days the days when we live on the couch, snuggled up in blankets amongst a mountain of story books. Because the days are long, but these past two years have been short! And I have a feeling that is exactly how raising kids goes.
  • Reading more variety.
    I love to read. Growing up, my summers were spent with my nose in books. My family didn’t have all that much money, so while other families traveled to theme parks, went on cruises, or spent time exploring other countries, I traveled to distant lands, different dimensions, and back in time right within the safety of my own home. Whether sitting outside in the warm summer sun or curled up on my bed, I lived between the bindings of many a book. As an adult, while I can’t say I live in books anymore, I still love to lose myself as often as I can.
    Every year, I write ‘read more’ on my list of goals. This year, my specific intention is to read more variety. While I love binge reading a captivating series or devouring book after book from a favorite author, my mind has shifted towards growth. What can I read that will grow my creativity? How can I increase my productivity? What can I do to grow myself? What skills can I learn to be successfully self-employed?

    I still love a good fictional read (and will still indulge of course), but am being more intentional about filling my reading list with non-fiction books that promote personal, spiritual, leadership, and business growth.
    Here’s what’s made the list so far:

    Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
    Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado

    Currently Reading:
    High Performance Habits – Brendon Burchard
    Battlefield of the Mind – Joyce Meyers

    Up next:
    Girl Wash your Face – Rachel Hollis
    It’s Not Supposed to be this Way – Lysa Terkeurst
    The Blessed Life – Pastor Robert Morris
  • Tuning in for growth.
    While I’ve never been able to get into audio books, I love me a good podcast! Life as momma is rarely stationary and requires using pause frequently when listening or watching anything at all.

    Now that he’s in toddler land, my little guy is much more aware of his environment and interacts with what’s happening ‘on screen,’ which makes me even more mindful of what I listen to and what I have on in the background. Anyone else just like to have something on for background noise while they go about their day? Long gone are the days where I can just stream a guilty pleasure show while cleaning house. And sitting down to actually watch something from start to finish (uninterrupted) only happens after he goes to bed.

    Still, I find myself wanting something to fill certain spaces of time. Like when I’m folding laundry or cleaning the kitchen. That coupled with the growth mindset I’ve been in makes for the perfect podcast environment.

    Expectations are everything, so I never expect to finish a full episode at once. 10-15 minute pockets of time are great. When getting ready for the day. Making a Target run or driving to the grocery store. Or for light workout days when I walk on my treadmill while little man plays with his trucks next to me.

    The top 3 podcasts I’ve been listening most to lately are:
    Rise by Rachel Hollis
    Earn Your Happy by Lori Harder
    Havilah’s Podcast by Havilah Cunnington
  • Organization.
    This goes hand-in-hand with balance, but is more specific to organizing spaces. Keeping our home tidy and having a dedicated place for everything really helps me stay sane. Not even kind of joking. Anyone else? Over the years, I’ve learned that cleaning up is so much quicker when items have a dedicated home. It takes the guesswork out of finding a place for say, the paint supplies or the gazillion Hot Wheels cars littering the living room floor. Paint supplies go in the paint bin in the craft closet. Hot Wheels go in the ammo-box-turned-toy-car-bin. Etc . . .

    My main focus as of late has been closets, cupboards, and drawers. So far, I’ve transformed our linen closet, bathroom cupboards, laundry room, and my unmentionables drawer with simple and effective storage solutions. I’ll have to write a dedicated post on this soon because I’m quite proud!

    Next on my list is whipping our pantry into shape. Oh, and getting the nursery organized . . . Once we begin setting it up that is.

    I’m not sure if this is possibly how I nest, but organization has really been on the forefront of my mind when thinking of preparing for baby #2. In my mind, if I have dedicated organization solutions in place that help simplify keeping the house tidy now, it will be easier to upkeep our household when I’m juggling two littles. Who knows. I may be a dreamer. Only time will tell.

Even though I’ve thought these goals over quite a bit and have been actively working on each so far this year, there’s something so cathartic and satisfying about seeing them written out. Know what I mean?

So how about you? What are your 2019 goals?


Baking, Food

Simply Good & Easy Banana Bread

Don’t be afraid to use the ugly bananas!

If you feel like people would judge you if they saw those ugly, brown and bruised bananas sitting out on your counter top, then you’ve got the perfect baking bananas. That’s my banana motto at least!

In my home, we alway have an abundance of bananas. They are either green and fresh from the store, perfectly yellow and ready to eat, spotted and ready to be frozen, or an ugly brown and ready to become banana bread.

I’m the kind of home baker that loves to experiment. Making tweaks here and there. Playing with substitutions. Testing different variables to see what yields a good bake, and what isn’t worth repeating. My current go-to banana bread recipe was originally adapted from this Food Network recipe.

Up until pretty recently, my little guy was allergic to both dairy and eggs. Even small amounts would cause him to break out into all-over hives and eczema. Store-bought allergy-free foods can get pretty pricey, so I had to get creative and adapt our every-day meals to fit his needs. As any parent knows, no food is more appealing to a kid than the food his parents are eating . . . And so came the need to make a banana bread that my little guy could enjoy too.

My first iteration of this recipe was vegan. Now that little man can tolerate eggs, I don’t replace them, but feel free to substitute 2 flax eggs. It yields a nearly identical bake. I’d say an identical bake, but my husband swears he can tell the difference, although he’s eaten it plenty of times without knowing it was vegan. Still, I’ll stick with nearly identical . . . I do still make it dairy free. Baking with coconut butter instead of butter is something I’ve found I love doing. It’s an easy one-to-one substitution that adds a healthy twist. Now, that’s not to say that butter doesn’t have a place in my baking, but I prefer it over butter for everyday baked goods.

The original recipe calls for granulated sugar, but I’ve found I enjoy the more robust flavor and extra moisture that light brown sugar brings. Coconut sugar has a similar flavor, and is lower on the glycemic index. For this reason, I use an equal mixture of light brown sugar and coconut sugar.

This banana bread makes the perfect companioning to your morning coffee. We like to slice it nice and thick in our household and smother it with Smart Balance (or Earth Balance, depending on what we have), honey, or almond butter.

Hope you enjoy it too!



Baby, Family, Mom Life

Meeting Baby For The First Time

When I was pregnant with my first, I remember wondering what meeting him for the first time would be like. The anticipation. A mix of nervous excitement.

Would I feel like I already knew him? Would he know me? Would we feel like strangers?

The reality is what I imagine meeting someone you met online for the first time in person is like. Someone who speaks a different language. Someone you’ve communicated with for months using only chat, and relying heavily on Google translate to craft your responses. Meeting sans translator. Neither of you even remotely fluent in the other’s native tongue.

This is closer to what it really felt like after bringing him home.

Ours isn’t the typical story because he spent nearly his first month in the NICU. Read my birth story and Surviving the NICU posts for the full story. Like other mommas to be, my body was my translator during pregnancy. I didn’t have to think about what my baby needed. My body just knew what to do. After birth, his NICU doctors and nurses became my translators. Relying on them to relay his every need became my norm. As excited as I was when his NICU graduation day came, the idea of being home without my translating team felt so incredibly intimidating.

How would I know what to do?

His nurses were all so sweet, reassuring all would be well and I’d just know what to do. I’d know a hunger cry from a tired cry from a soiled diaper cry . . . Again, the reality being far from this.

Yes, I did learn to differentiate his array of cries. And the bond we’ve created is like no other . . . The key, however, being I learned.

We knew each other, but only to an extent. He knew my voice. The way he kicked just one leg reminded me of the little tap, tap, taps I felt against my ribcage during pregnancy. But we still had to get to know each other. And that took a mutual patience and trust. Patience in trusting my instincts and not second guessing my every thought and action. His patience in learning to trust that I would always be there for him.

Now pregnant with baby number two, I find myself wondering about baby’s personality. Will baby be patient? Insatiable? Quiet? Vocal? How will this first meeting compare to when I met my first? Will I just know more so this time time around, or will it be like meeting a familiar stranger once more? My expectation is that our meeting will be a lot like with my first . . . But I’m not putting too much on expectations this time.

I will just wait and see.

What was your first meeting like? Or are you currently pregnant and anticipating your first meet?




One Year Free

It’s been a little over a year since the morning, while standing in my loft, I heard the words, “You haven’t accepted me into your heart,” clear in my mind.

You see, I’d been on a spiritual journey for several years at the time. Trying to find my place and myself in the process. Craving fulfillment. Desperate for more.

My search was long. Filled with many twists and turns. So many valleys and a few ant-sized hills. Full of questioning. Questioning my path. My decisions. My intentions and myself. Not knowing in what or whom to trust in or turn to.

Growing up, my understanding about God—what was ingrained in me—was that He was almighty and awesome, but also incredibly scrupulous. Always watching and waiting to dole out harsh punishment for every misstep. That coupled with the teaching that all humans were born flawed and incapable of perfection—and therefore were destined to make countless missteps—left my conscience weighed down with a load much too heavy to bear . . . And so I strayed further and further by the day.

My teenage years were marked by dark clouds of depression and anxiety, and it only intensified as I entered adulthood. Living in fear was the norm by my early 20s. Anxiety and depression were just a part of me. By my mid-20s I was physically ill. Every muscle was tense. I had chronic pain. Daylong, daily headaches. My immune system was shot. My digestive system all but shut down. I rotated through a slew of doctors and specialists. Trying to find the root cause of feeling unwell. Took every prescribed remedy. Half-a-dozen daily meds. Exercise. Rest. Therapy. I tried it all . . . Looking back, I realize now just how much a part of me anxiety was. It ran through my veins. Raced through my thoughts. And drove every bodily function.

Searching for something—peace, happiness, something more than life as it was—was my glimmering hope. I don’t know that I even really knew what I was searching for, or whether I believed I’d ever find it. But that’s the great thing about God. All it takes is a single drop of faith. And if you allow Him to, He’ll do the rest.

My path wasn’t by any means smooth, nor was it disastrous. I wasn’t always willing or eager. The door to my mind was opened just a sliver, but even that was enough. Little by little my mind and heart began to submit.

Leading up to that morning, I’d been pursuing faith casually. I’d found a pastor whose podcast resonated with me. I listened regularly while walking with my little guy. Tuned in every now and then to his online service. I’d also found a local church and mom’s group that took me in like a stray. Each day was a dance. A few steps forward. A pause. A step back. And then forward again.

I can’t recall exactly what day of the month it was—just that it was late January—or what I was doing. Just that I was in my loft watching my little guy play. In my pajamas? Going through a morning yoga flow? Watching an online service? Listening to a podcast? What I do remember are those words—and even they are probably paraphrased by this point—not audible, but more than just a thought. It’s as though I could feel the words resonating through my body. And just like that, a fog lifted—a fog I hadn’t even realize was there—and I understood with perfect clarity what I needed to do.

So there in my loft, wearing either pajamas or yoga leggings, with no witness other than my 10 month old, I verbalized what I hadn’t yet spoken out loud. What was on my heart. I accepted—welcomed and implored–Jesus into my heart and life.

This wasn’t taken on that day, but around that time.

It’s simple. On an ordinary day. No dramatic events. Heck, I can’t even remember exactly what I was doing! I blame that on sleep deprivation as a new and first-time mom, since my little guy was 9 months away from sleeping through the night at that point in time. But that moment changed everything. My heart. My mind. My life.

If you’re currently stuck in your journey and the end doesn’t seem anything but far, I want to provide this simple encouragement to keep going. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep seeking. Keep searching for more. Your day will come.

Do you have a moment of faith and clarity that changed your life? Do you remember when you relinquished control to let God take over? I’d love to hear it.




Turning Inaction Into Action

It seems I’m always trying to make writing a habit. For more years than I’d like to admit, I’ve had ‘write daily’ on my list of goals. The thing is, I love to write. Always have. Why then do I consistently get stuck at making it a habit? Why do I need to MAKE it a habit at all if it brings me joy?

Instead of letting inaction eat into another year, I finally set my mind to take action by first digging deeper into the ‘why’ behind the hindrance.

Here are the three roadblocks I uncovered:

  • All throughout my childhood and teen years I wrote. I kept a journal. Many journals. Between the binding lived my thoughts, daily happening, poems, and fictional stories. Those pages became my safe space. To vent. To write down memories. To create and pour myself out onto…Then one day, that sacred place that held so much of me was breeched. My writing used against me. Ever since then, I have had a really hard time putting meaningful things down on paper (or a blog for that matter).
  • One thing I’ve learned about myself over the years is how hard of a time I have doing something solely for myself. I can’t ever just sit still and enjoy time to myself because I constantly feel pulled to do the things that NEED to get done. Dishes, laundry, mopping, cleaning, organizing, raising a little man…Becoming a mom has definitely intensified this feeling. Not only do I feel pressure to keep up the household, but I tend to pressure myself into feeling like every waking minute should revolve around my family and only my family. My inner voice says that anything just for me is selfish and therefore not something I should invest time into. And I realize how ridiculous my inner voice is being. I just haven’t been able to shut it out.
  • And lastly, I know I’m not the only one to think it…I always get hung up on not feeling like I have anything interesting enough to share. There are so many established bloggers and influencers out there. How could I possibly have anything worth contributing?

That’s the dirty.

And while I feel mildly ashamed for each of these thoughts, it feels cathartic to call them out. These three things have held me back for years. Naming them was enough to help me realize how fed up I am. With always being stuck. With inaction. With letting past experiences and unkind thoughts shut down my creative space.

So this is my dedication and commitment to doing more of what I love. More of what brings me joy. More of something that’s just for me.


And if it’s writing, I think it will come naturally. Lately, I’ve felt called to write. And I’m going to follow that calling for as long as it brings me joy.