New Year’s Resolutions.

I hate them.

People start talking about them and I start sweating. Making a resolution means possibly breaking a resolution, and for someone who hates failure, this is no fun.

This year I’ve decided to do something a little different. Rather than make the typical list of “goals” I want to accomplish in the next 365 days, I’ve been taking time to reflect on this past year and figure out how I want to use what I’ve learned to make the next year better. Better for me, Better for my family, Better for you, maybe? Probably not but we’ll go with it.

So I’m terming the next few days my time to Reflect and Redirect.

Reflect on the past year and see what paths need to be redirected. Here’s the list I’ve come up with so far…..

Do more of what you love

Stay in your lane

Don’t compare

Be authentic

Love lavishly

Give generously

Choose JOY

Be silly with the girls

Get in the word daily

Send hand-written notes

Run. Walk. Repeat.

Eat real food.

Over the next few days, I’m going to be sharing my plan for how to actually DO these things in my day to day.

I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to share how you plan to make your 2015 look different than 2014. OR maybe how you’re so awesome that you’re just gonna keep doing what you’re doing.

Happy (almost) New Year, friends!

The Laundry Room

When it comes to designing spaces in my home, I really love giving attention to rooms that normally get neglected. One room that has historically been left out is the laundry room. I’ve noticed a trend on pinterest toward swoon-worthy laundry spaces with tile floors, farmhouse sinks, and lots of storage. So it seems that somebody finally got smart and realized that the laundry room is one of the spaces mommies spend a LOT of time.

When we bought our house, it didn’t have a laundry room. It had a laundry closet. Yes, that’s right. Two folding doors and a space for a washer and a dryer. No room for a dreamy set up. Boo builder.
Instead of pouting and deleting all my laundry room-related pins, we decided to make the best of the situation. Hopefully if you have an ugly neglected space in your house, you can use some of the ideas we incorporated to make every space happy.

First thing we did was remove the doors. They were a pain to open and really the only purpose they served was to hide the ugly room. But since we were planning to make the room pretty, the doors served no purpose.

The next thing we did was decide how to make this room special. Since it is so small, we knew that it was going to take more than just a fun paint color. Enter the secret weapon of every small space: wallpaper. I think most people are really intimidated by using wall paper because of the cost and the permanence. Not to mention the hassle of installation. But when you have a small space, you can cover the whole area with ease. In a large space, just choose an accent wall. If you don’t have the budget even in your small space to use wall paper, you can always get a stencil and have a similar effect.

The other touch I think makes a big difference in a small space is the lighting. We chose a small chandelier from ikea. It was originally silver but we painted it ivory and now it matches the other finishes in the space. I’m a sucker for a chandelier!

Finally, we added ONLY the items that were absolutely necessary to make the space functional. This included a cork board to display invitations and adorable toddler art work, open shelving to hold baskets, and a tray on top of the dryer for detergent. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from living in a smaller home, it’s that making something pretty is a total waste if it’s not functional. We got away with having worthless stuff around the house for a while, but add a few kids to the mix and we are all about making space work for us!

Here’s a picture of our laundry nook (sounds better than closet!) all finished.

I do realize it’s pretty taste specific but this is a space that makes our house special. It just fits now. There’s a lot of emphasis on resale value and while I do feel like that’s important, you still gotta make your home a place you love to be! And every space in a home, no matter how small, deserves a little happy.

Happy Tuesday! 

Rowen’s Birth Story

Last Wednesday morning, Reese and I woke up and headed to another prenatal appointment. I honestly couldn’t believe I was even having another prenatal appointment. Reese came nine days early. Rowen was supposed to already be here by now! Since she was still apparently quite comfy inside my tummy, we got to have another appointment anyway. The appointment went great. Everything was perfect. Now back to waiting.

After the appointment, we went to church where I had a meeting for our mom’s ministry. I had been having contractions but they were not super painful so I didn’t worry about them. I decided after the meeting that Reese and I needed to have a fun mommy/daughter date so we went to one of my favorite little bakeries for lunch. It was such a sweet time sitting across from my only daughter. She was especially sweet and smiley which made it all the more enjoyable!
We ran a few more errands and then headed home for nap. After nap time, we decided it was time for a walk. I called my neighbor Brittany to see if she and her two boys wanted to join us. They had plans that didn’t need to involve getting all sweaty so we decided to just go hang out for a bit. When we got home from Brittany’s house, I put Reese in the stroller and we went to walk… the HILLS. If you read Reese’s birth story OR you’ve ever driven through my neighborhood, you know these hills are intense. Walking them put me in labor with Reese so I was hoping they’d do the trick again this time!
After our walk, we hung out for a bit til Matt got home. I hadn’t done much to prepare for dinner but when he got there, I got up and started preparing some semblance of a meal. I’d only been in the kitchen a few minutes when Matt came in and said my five favorite words “Let’s go out to eat.” You don’t have to ask me twice! He was excited about doing something just the three of us since we didn’t know how many more little outings we would have like this.
We went to dinner at the Fickle Pickle in downtown Roswell. I had toyed around with the idea of Scallini’s but I was feeling more soup and sandwich than I was eggplant parm so we opted out. Dinner was yummy as usual but at this point, I was starting to feel really uncomfortable. I noticed a few of the contractions increasing in intensity but it was still minimal and definitely not time to start keeping track. Or so I thought.
Once we got home from dinner, we started our normal bedtime routine. Reese went down without a fight but then about fifteen minutes later, she was up calling my name. I went upstairs and we rocked just the two of us for a few more minutes. Again, total gift from the Lord! 
By the time I went back downstairs, my contractions were starting to become more intense and more consistent so I started to time them. Still about 5-10 minutes apart.
Side Note: When I was in labor with Reese, I only had back labor so I didn’t even know what a “normal” contraction would feel like! I started having a few and quickly learned!
I texted my midwife at 10:00 pm letting her know about my progress. Since it was getting late, she suggested I take a bath and try to get some rest.
I got in the bath around 10:30 and had probably six or seven really good contractions while in the water. Typically if you’re experiencing false labor, a warm bath will stop it. So I assumed this was it.
I still knew I should probably try to get some rest since we could be in for a long night. So I asked Matt to help me keep track of the contractions. 
4 minutes apart
Lasting 1 minute
5 minutes apart
Lasting 1 min
We went back and forth like that for a while.
Then around 12:55, I felt a pressure so deep that it shot me up out of the bed and into the bathroom where all I could do was hold onto the towel bar and try to stay calm. I am not a yeller by nature and I didn’t plan to waste any energy on being loud and out of control but the pain I  was feeling was so deep, intense, and sudden that my volume couldn’t help but escalate.
I told Matt to call the midwife. Like NOW.
The strange thing about this part of my labor is that the pain felt like it was all coming from my rear. That didn’t make sense to me at that time. I kept wondering why the contractions weren’t in my back or front. 
Still in the bathroom and going back and forth between gripping the towel bar and sitting on the toilet, I felt myself beginning to shake. But I wasn’t cold. Then I started to feel nauseous.
Surely this couldn’t be transition already.
At this point the pain was unbearable. I couldn’t stand up. I couldn’t sit. I couldn’t move. I didn’t want anyone talking to me or touching me. I just wanted to be alone. It didn’t help that the room I ended up stuck in was my bathroom… If you’ve been to our house before, you know our master bath is SMALL. Like real small. Like trip over one other person small. So yeah, if someone else did try to come in, they were quickly waved OUT.
Finally, during one of the contractions (at this point they were right on top of each other) I felt an urge to push. 
That scared me. 
No midwife. No idea how dilated I was. No idea if Rowen’s heart was ready.
I felt completely unprepared and vulnerable.
All I could keep saying was “Jesus, please. Jesus, PLEASE.” 
Even in this state of craziness, I was able to recall something my midwife told me at a prenatal appointment… She said, “The key to natural birth is just finding a way to tell your mind to get out of your body’s way.”
So I stopped thinking and started pushing.
1:30 AM I told Matt I had to push. He calmly told me the midwife was on her way and to do what I needed to do. He was with me.
1:55 AM I realized the baby was crowning. I was standing up so I dropped carefully to the floor and held myself up on my hands so as not to put any more pressure on my rear. I looked up and said “She’s coming!” When I opened my eyes, Matt was sitting right in front of me ready to catch his daughter. What a MAN.
1:58 AM my midwife ran in the door and through some strange duck and roll maneuver, switched places with Matt.
1:59 AM head came out. Cord was wrapped around one time. My midwife gently said “Stop, we have a cord.” She removed it and said “Ok go for it!”
2:00 AM our beautiful baby Rowen was here in my arms!

7 lbs 14 oz and 21 inches long
We had a few minutes to sit and bond. Got cleaned up. Then headed to my bed for some snuggle time.
I’ve had a few people ask me if this birth was easier than Reese. There really is just nothing easy about giving birth. My labor with Rowen was faster than my labor with Reese. But it wasn’t easier. If anything, I had so much more time to process what was happening during my long labor with Reese and with such a fast and furious experience with Rowen, there was no time for anything to sink in. 
We are so thankful for our amazing team of midwives at Dawning Life Midwifery. Even though Constance was only able to be there for a few minutes before Rowen was born, her presence was incredibly calming and reassuring to me! If you are considering a home birth in the state of Georgia, you must talk to them! 
Thank you for reading our story! Our beautiful girl is doing awesome. Stay tuned for the next post about adjusting to life with two under two!

Why I said Farewell to Facebook

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been off of facebook.

Since getting off, I have gotten LOTS of questions from dear friends asking WHY on earth I got off of it in the first place. I will go ahead and break it to you that it’s really nothing juicy. No one deeply offended me or “made” me want to get off. But in an effort to clear the air, here in a nutshell is why I dared to deactivate…

**Disclaimer: I do not think facebook is a bad site. I don’t look down on people who have facebook. This is just my personal experience. No judgement, y’all!**

A few months ago I began feeling a little restless about being on facebook. Yes, a few different scenarios prompted this feeling but nothing too crazy. It was just enough to get me to really start praying and asking the Lord for wisdom on what to do with this space in my life.

I’ll give you a bullet point version of what He showed me and then I will expound on each one. So your curiosity can be cured in two seconds or two minutes (depending on how fast of a reader you are!)

So here you have it in a nice, clean little list:

I got off facebook because…

1. Facebook was wasting my time
2. Facebook was wasting my energy
3. Facebook was not benefiting me anymore

Wasting my Time:

This one is obvious. Facebook sucks time. Maybe it’s just me but I
am embarrassed by the number of times I’d sit and say “let me check facebook real quick” then 45 minutes later I’m asking myself where the time went. There’s SO. MUCH. INFO. on facebook now. It’s gone beyond just creeping on somebody’s pictures. Now you have access to online yard sales, articles, recipes, pictures, status updates… the list goes on and on!

Now when I first had Reese and was desperate for anything to keep my groggy eyes open during middle of the night feedings, facebook was awesome. It made the time go by so fast! But now she’s here wanting my attention and I really don’t have the time to be “checking facebook real quick”. Because there’s just nothing quick about it!

Since getting off of facebook, I have been way more productive. I don’t really have idle time. I’m filling it with real life and it feels really good.

Wasting my Energy:

I love to learn. I do a lot of research about birth, nutrition, holistic medicine, etc. I’m just spongy that way. I like to soak up information in all it’s forms. So it was with the purest of intentions that I would share articles, links, blog posts, etc. about all kinds of topics. But then the strangest thing started happening… people started getting offended and taking it out on me for posting, sharing, etc. This was really hard for me to understand at first. I found myself saying things like “Wait, I didn’t write this. Why are they upset with me because they don’t agree with it?” Puzzled, I found myself trying to defend my point of view. And it became exhausting.

You see, I kind of view my facebook feed like a magazine. I mostly “read” magazines for the pictures but occasionally I will come across something that strikes my fancy so I might stop to read it. If I see something offensive in US Weekly, I just turn the page and ask myself who really wore it better.

After quite a few instances of feeling misunderstood, I decided that my energy was better spent elsewhere. Facebook has a way of turning grown women into middle schoolers. Instead of having a problem with someone and going to them in private, we think it’s ok to spout off our opinion “in front of” everyone. It’s just silly and aint nobody got time for that. Including me.

Matthew 7:6 says “don’t give your pearls to pigs”. I don’t think all my “friends” on facebook are pigs. The analogy here is that pigs don’t understand the value and worth of pearls. So giving them such a precious gift would be silly. As I grow in my friendship with the Lord and develop in my role as wife, mom, friend etc. I’ve learned that I have to be even more careful about where I spend my energy. I want to spend it with the people I really call friends. The ones who know me or are getting to know me. I just don’t see facebook as the best environment to do that right now.

Not Beneficial for Me:

I love this verse in 1 Corinthians chapter 6. Verse 12 says ” Everything is permissible for me– but not everything is beneficial.”

When it all boils down, this is the main reason why I gave facebook the boot. The reasons I mentioned before were situations that confirmed the decision. It just wasn’t beneficial. Could I be a Christ follower and still have a facebook? Yes! Will I ever have facebook again? Maybe! It’s just become clear that during this season of life, the negatives outweigh the benefits.

There are definitely things about facebook that I miss. Friends who are out of town or I just don’t see face to face often could very easily slip through the cracks. But is it really a meaningful connection to see someone’s highs and lows in a status on a screen? I love pictures but they don’t tell the whole story. If we’re not careful, facebook will give us a very false sense of community. How many times have you started telling someone about an experience and they say “Oh yeah yeah I saw your pictures on facebook”. Or how many conversations did you avoid all together for fear of being redundant? “I’m sure you saw this on facebook but…”

Again, facebook isn’t bad as long as we continue to remember what it is and, more importantly, what it isn’t.

The Lord has been challenging me to live intentionally and to live with purpose. Those two things sound almost like synonyms but they’re more like a cycle. When we live with intention, our lives are filled with purpose. Having purpose drives us to be intentional. See what I mean?

So that’s that. I’m sorry it’s not more juicy and dramatic.

I look forward to seeing you in real life!

Top Ten Tips for Enjoying the Beach with a BABY!

I LOVE the beach!

Almost every year of my life for as long as I can remember has included at least one trip to paradise (i.e. anywhere with sand, water, and sun). Taking pre-baby trips to the beach meant spending literally ALL DAY sitting in my chair, taking walks, reading books, really just relaxing and doing whatever I wanted…

and then we added this blessed third member to our little family.

Then everything changed.

I’m a planner at heart and if there’s a “right” or “best” way to do something, I’m all about it! I would prefer to skip the learn from experience phase and learn from someone else’s experience. Trouble is, everybody experiences things differently. That being said, MY list of “must haves” or “must do’s” might differ greatly from someone else’s but that’s not going to stop me from sharing. Hope this helps and I hope you have a blast on any trips you take this summer!

So here you have it! My Top Ten Tips for having a BLAST with your baby loves at the Beach!

1. Practical Beach Wear: I am a girl mom and I will be the first to say that I LOVE the sweet little two piece swimsuits. But I found the one piece is the way. to. go. at the beach. For boys, get the cute little swim shirt that matches the trunks. And if your kid will keep a hat on their head, bless them. The more covered up babies are, the less surface area you have to cover with sun screen! And speaking of sunscreen…


2. Bring SPRAY sunscreen: I am a stickler for any substance that goes on the largest organ of my baby’s body so I’m going to go all crunchy when it comes to sun screen. The problem is, the less chemicals in the sunscreen, the more goopy it can be. I tried both the lotion and the spray and found that the spray was much easier to apply AND rub in. We love this sunscreen from Babyganics. I really only applied once in the morning and then tried to keep her in the shade for a good amount of time. And speaking of shade…

3. Plan a Baby-friendly home base: If you’re one of those people that doesn’t mind bringing your entire play room to the beach, go for it! I prefer simplicity so for our little spot on the beach, we had a big picnic blanket, two umbrellas to provide plenty of shade, and a few beach toys. The beach is the playground so teach your kids how to enjoy it. I put the toys by the edge of the blanket so we didn’t get sand everywhere. But if sand DID end up in unwanted places…

4. Baby Powder WORKS: I read on a pinterest post before we left about how baby powder could easily remove sand and it’s true! Worked like a charm! If you’ve ever tried to get sand out of baby crevices, you know what a task it is. Trust me on this one, bring the baby powder. It’s great if you have to reapply at the beach and even better when you’re trying to get the excess sand that even the bath couldn’t remove.

5. Stick to your routine: In the past, taking vacations meant leaving your schedule and routine at home and just “going with it”. You might have a kid that will literally go days with no nap or just fall asleep wherever but mine isn’t like that. We found that creating a sleeping environment that was close to her “normal” was a must. We kept her routine almost exactly as it normally goes with a few slight variations. Most meltdowns come when a baby is tired, hungry, scared, etc. Keeping their little bodies on their normal routine will minimize the need for any freak out moments. For baby and you!

6. Bring snacks: Another great way to stay on a routine AND keep baby out of the sun is to bring snacks! We had snack time every morning after we had played for about an hour. Bring things that won’t melt in the heat. Also, remember how thirsty you can get on the beach and plan accordingly with water or juice.

7. Bring a wagon: We got our wagon from Costco last year and it has been a life saver! It folds flat so it’s easy to store in the car but it also has plenty of room for towels, toys, and baby to ride! Having a practical way to carry all your stuff to the beach every day is quite the convenience I wouldn’t do without.

8. Buy water shoes: Maybe you’re going to be one of the lucky ones whose child just LOVES the sand but we weren’t so lucky! Reese hated, and I mean HATED, the sand when we first arrived. Thankfully we had gotten her these shoes from OLD NAVY and they were awesome. Aside from making her feel more secure, it also made me feel better knowing her little feet wouldn’t get burned. We all know sunscreen on feet is the first thing to rub off and it STINKS to get burned there!

9. Set realistic expectations: This is especially important if this is your first time going to the beach with your baby. Keep expectations of your little one low. They might love the sand, they might hate it. They might jump right in the water, they might not. The point is that this season of watching your sweet baby experience something for the first time is irreplaceable. And going into the trip with the expectation that your baby will be experience everything in a picture perfect way might just leave you feeling disappointed. Stay calm if things don’t go as planned and remember that mommies set the emotional tone for the rest of the family. So stay chill and remember you’re making memories that will last forever!

10. Have FUN: Ok, it might seem like this last one got thrown in because I ran out of tips but I think it’s really important for us mommas to remember to enjoy ourselves! We can get so bogged down with planning, preparing, packing, etc. that we let everyone else enjoy the trip and we come home feeling like we need a vacation! Realize that this is maybe not going to be a relaxing vacation but it IS a trip with your family and you need to take the time to enjoy it!

I hope these tips will help you this summer as you brave the beach with your babies. What other tips do you have that you’d add to the list?? Please share!

Happy Summer, y’all!