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New Year, New Aspirations

8 Jan

We celebrated the New Year at home, low-key with some really good friends. We talked, cooked, ate, played board games and just enjoyed being together. The last several New Years have been quite different than years past. We weren’t out on the town til the wee hours of the morning, hopping from one place to the next. But that’s ok with me. We got to play with Lila up until her bedtime and celebrate with people we love while she was only one room away. I could sneak in and catch a peek of her resting peacefully and run my fingers through her curly hair. It’s a new year and it is going to be a good one.

I usually make resolutions each year. I like the idea of starting fresh and putting my ideas on paper to help re-enforce my motivation. So, here is my list to make this year the best it can be.

1.) Exercise. I know, this is every other person’s resolution too. But, I really do love to exercise. It makes me feel better, gives me more energy and puts me in a better mind-frame. Since having Lila it has been hard to carve out the time I use to dedicate to the gym. It’s not easy and it takes some planning but it is worth it.  Jamie and I have started meeting up to run together 4 days a week. We have worked out a schedule that is reasonable and is good for both of us. I have never cared to go work out by myself but I have found lately if I don’t have someone to hold me accountable I can talk myself out of going. Now, Jamie and I make a plan and stick to it. It’s actually fun and I get in some good friend time as well. We are looking towards running a pretty big race in April!

2.) Eat better. Cook more. I know these sound so cliche so far but these are my goals. Josh and I have both been talking about eating better and cooking more over the past year but that’s about all we did was talk about it. We took some steps to make those talks a reality. Josh bought me an awesome new cookware set, along with some great cookbooks and an awesome new shelf for storage. This weekend I made my first ever menu plan for the week. I listed all the ingredients I would need and off the store I went. I felt so grown-up as I marked each item off my list. The week has started off a success and we have had some great meals. A great bonus is that we always have leftovers so I don’t have to think about my lunch for the next day. I love to know when I get home that there is a plan for dinner and that I have all the ingredients. It has started to take the stress out of dinnertime.

3.) Create More. I want this year to be filled with lots of crafting and writing. I get on spurts where I will create a lot of stuff at one time and then end up taking a longer break than intended. I find I am at my happiest when my hands are creating something new. Whether it be an actual craft or sitting down to write a paragraph, I just want to do it more.

4.) Be Kind. I had written about Ann Curry’s 26 Acts of Kindness a few weeks ago and it has really inspired me. I have added several acts to my list over the past few weeks and it has made me feel so good. I want to remember to be kind all the time. It doesn’t have to cost money or take a lot of time. Sometimes the smallest gestures mean the most to those receiving them. What would a kinder world look like in a year?

5.) Scoop the litter box daily. Yes. This is really a goal. My poor cats rank low on the needs list at our house. They don’t require much upkeep and sometimes they don’t get the attention they deserve. Josh and I both hate cleaning the litter box but I think they deserve it. Every time I have to use a dirty porta-potty (which isn’t often), I am reminded of how nice it is to have clean facilities…haha. Then I am immediately reminded that I need to go scoop the litter box. If no one else appreciates this…I know my cats will.

6.) Pay More Attention. This one is kinda vague and hard to be measured but important all the same. We all have our schedules and daily routines and sometimes it is easy to overlook or not listen as closely as we should. I just want to be more present.

I am sure I have other small goals that I have forgotten about for the moment but these are in the forefront of my mind. I hope to come back to these often to check-in and get a boost of motivation when needed.

I hope your new year is off to a great beginning. If it’s not, change it today:)

Holiday Happenings

4 Jan

The holidays were busy, fun, exciting, exhausting and wonderful. We jam-packed lots of entertainment and memories into the last two weeks. We had holiday parties, visited Dollywood, attended a family reunion, ate entirely too much food in several different sittings, visited Santa, celebrated Christmas, spent quality time with friends and family and played til we passed out. It’s always hard coming back to work after having an extended time off but I do like having a schedule to follow again. Our sleep and routines have been all over the place lately.

It’s hard to put into words how much I love the holidays. For me the holidays mean spending time with my family and those closest to me and there is no other way I would want to spend my time. My brother has been in from Seattle for the holidays and we have been hanging out as much as possible. He flies out today and that gives me a case of “the sads.”

Here is a little summary of what has been happening lately…

christmas11Getting ready for the big man…and trying his hat on for size.

christmas10Josh and I got all gussied up to attend my annual work Christmas party.

christmas8Lila loved riding the horsies and getting to pick out her very own at Dollywood.

christmas9My little bumblebee:)

christmas7Putting on a show for the family.

christmas1

You know….just, gettin her model on.

christmas6Santa paid Lila a visit.

christmas4Testing out all her new toys with daddy.

christmas3Lila wanted to show Uncle Brian the magic of Elmo.

christmas2Our nightly dance parties!

Brian got this great video of Lila on Christmas morning! I have watched it a dozen times:)

I hope you all had wonderful holidays as well!

The Magic of Memories

6 Dec

I am fortunate enough to have some of the best memories of childhood. Many of those memories were created around the holidays and I am reminded of them each year at this time.

There are a million little details that I still remember. We would always have Johnny Mathis playing as we put our Christmas tree up. My parents always purchased a live tree and the smell was so wonderful and lingered through the entire house. I loved getting sticky sap on my fingers as we would decorate the tree with all our handmade and sentimental ornaments. We each had very special stockings that we would hang on the mantle each year and await the moment that they would be filled with goodies. My  mom would decorate the mantle and sitting in our living room would feel like the coziest place on earth. On Christmas Eve we would have a huge dinner with our grandparents and then open gifts from one another. We would stay up way too late watching The Christmas Story, even though it was on for 24 hours straight. We would wake up on Christmas morning to find that Santa had been there a few hours before. Once all the bows were ripped off and the last package had been opened we would have a wonderful breakfast with everyone. The remainder of the day would be spent eating, napping, playing with new goodies and watching Christmas movies. It was such a magical time.

Once you have a tradition it’s hard to break it. When Josh and I got married he would want to integrate or try a new tradition and I was always opposed. I guess I had it in my head the exact way things were supposed to go because that is all I knew. However, since Lila’s arrival I feel like I am becoming much more open to new traditions. I want her to always remember this being an incredible time of the year. I want her to feel those butterflies in her belly that I remember feeling as a child. From time to time I still that amazing feeling as Christmas approaches but it is much more fleeting now. I want to re-live all those special moments through Lila’s eyes. I know she is still a bit young and most likely won’t remember this Christmas but that won’t stop me from trying to make it as special as possible. Nothing beats seeing your child’s face light up with joy and discover something new.

Halloween Fun

1 Nov

Halloween has always been one of my most favorite holidays but getting to experience it with Lila has bumped it up even further on the list. It was incredible to watch her little face as she was taking it all in. She quickly picked up on the fact that if she held out her bucket and said hi that people would give her treats. The first place we went was a trunk or treat and after the first few deposits she had it down. After we finished she wanted to started fishing through all the candy and emptying out her bucket. She went straight for the suckers and didn’t hesitate to stick them in her mouth…wrapper and all:) I asked her if she wanted to go to get more candy and she shook her head excitedly up and down.

We went back to our neighborhood and went out to the main street and started going door t to door. I started out letting her walk but as her basket became heavier and heavier her pace began to slow. If I hadn’t picked her up to carry her we would still be out there. I offered to carry her bucket for her but she wasn’t having that. She didn’t want to take a chance on not getting it back.

Our last stop was our neighbor’s house and since we live on a dead end we were his only trick or treaters. Lila racked up because he gave her almost the entire bag he had purchased for the night! I guess you could really say Josh and I racked up because there is no way we are letting her eat all that;) I asked her if she had fun and the expression on her face was priceless. I told her I had so much fun too and I am already excited about next year.

Givin daddy high five on an awesome Halloween!

Pocahontas needed a story before bed.

Two happy Halloween girls:)

July 4th

5 Jul

Josh had to work so Lila and I spent the day with my parents. It was super laid back and relaxed. It was filled with sidewalk chalk, the baby pool, napping, lots of snacking, and trying to capture the baby kitten that was on the loose in my parent’s garage. That part was a success by the way. However, he was really scared so I just petted him for a moment and then let him go back about his business. By parents are feeding him though so whether they want a pet cat or not I think they have one 🙂

I didn’t take as many pictures as I should have put here are a few from our day. Hope your 4th was fabulous.

This is Lila’s, “I’m such a lil stinker” face.

Steppin Out-Father’s Day Weekend

18 Jun

On Lila: Dress– 1st Birthday Present, homemade  Sandals– K-Mart

On Mama: Dress– from a small boutique, now closed:(  Belt– Francesca’s

We had a fantastic Father’s Day. My parents came down and we went to brunch at the Copper Cellar….so tasty! I had the Eggs Benedict and my mouth is watering thinking about it right now. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing around the house, napping and then going for yogurt. It was the perfect day.

I am so lucky to have a wonderful daddy who is there no matter what. I am also proud to call Josh my husband and a wonderful father to Lila. We are truly lucky:)

I hope all you fathers had a wonderful day as well!

Daddies and Daughters!

She can’t go a day without that chair!

I’m gonna have this one blown up….love it:)

 

For Daddy

15 Jun

I have been blessed with the best daddy in the entire world. When I look back over my childhood he was at every basketball game, every swim meet, ready to help me with my homework and eager to teach me new things. I think I have taken for granted what a present father he has been. It was the norm for my dad to be such a huge part of my life and I didn’t have to question whether he would be there or not. Through the years, I have found out just how lucky I am to have father who didn’t and still doesn’t want to miss anything.

My dad is an incredibly smart man, it is rare that you can catch him without a book in his hand. As a child I could always find him tucked away in his cozy study in the evenings. He is responsible for teaching me how to write and how to use my words to make a page come alive. I would always  be timid to show him any paper I had written for school because I knew it was coming back with changes and lots of them. I hated that then but I appreciate it so much now. He pushed me to be better and not just slap something down for the sake of having it.

My dad was always the softy and I knew to go through him if I really wanted something. He truly has such a kind heart and knows the words to speak to make worry or heartache fade away. I remember one time in particular that stands out in my mind. I was still in college and Josh and I had broken up. I was emotional, upset and sad. My dad came up early in the day and he took me to lunch, we went to a movie and he even took me shopping. He would have done anything in his power to make my hurt go away. I will never forget that day with my dad and all the wise words he told me about life and relationships. The relationship thing worked out….ya know, Josh is now his son-in-law:)

As hard as it is for parents to see their children in pain, I think it is pretty hard for children to see their parents in pain too. This past year has been a challenging one for my dad as he underwent three back surgeries. I have never seen him in so much pain and it was truly heartbreaking. Thankfully though he has made a huge recovery.

I love watching him interact with Lila and how their faces light up when they see each other. It brings me so much joy for him to be able to get in the floor with Lila and cut up. I look forward to the adventures they will go on together and I can’t wait to see all the amazing things he teaches her.

We are all lucky to have him in our lives and I am especially grateful to call him my father.

I love you daddy.

Steppin Out – Mother’s Day Weekend

14 May

Mother’s Day weekend was filled with lots of friends and family.

I got to attend a good friend’s wedding and hang out with my best girls:)

Lila and Josh had a daddy and daughter afternoon and went to see family in Newport. I hate I had to miss it but the wedding was lots of fun!

We had some JLJ time. We have called ourselves this since high school. (Jamie, Laura,Jamie) Baby Bray is making his presence known though, so he got to be included:)

What I’m wearing: Dress> Francesca’s Belt>Francesca’s

Sunday morning we had brunch at Copper Cellar with my parents. This was our best attempt at a family photo. Lila was exhausted and ready for a nap so she wasn’t up for picture time.

My loves.

My sweet girl.

Me and my mama. Love her.

What I’m wearing: Dress> thrifted  Belt> Francesca’s

I hope all you mama’s had a wonderful Mother’s Day.

 

For Mama

11 May

For as long as I can remember I have always written a sweet note to my mama on Mother’s Day telling her how much she means to me and what a great mom she is. I don’t think I truly understood just how incredible she is until this past year. As I am finding out for myself what it takes to be a mother I realize I owe her so many more hugs and thank you’s. It is hard to appreciate your mom to the fullest extent until you have become a mom your self. It is then that you really understand all the little and big things your mom did for you throughout your life. I have told my mom several times over the past year that if I can be half the mother she is to me then I will feel accomplished.

Growing up my mom wasn’t super strict but she let me know where I stood and what was expected of me. We had a great time together but I wouldn’t say we were friends while growing up.  Now, though, I consider her my best friend. I talk to her almost every single day on the phone, I take Lila to see her and my dad about every other weekend and when they are in town they come see us. I hope I can be a great mother to Lila  in order to one day be her best friend.

We have had so many amazing times over the years and she has always been there for me. Now that I am a mother I love being able to go to her for reference. Did you do this with me? How did you handle that? Is this normal? It is great to be able to draw from her experience.

My mom showed me that being a mother means being selfless, putting your wants and needs on hold and wanting to take a nap so badly but playing pretend with your daughter instead. 🙂

When I was small and didn’t appreciate sleep the way I do now I wouldn’t give my mom a moment’s peace. She would say “I am gonna lay down for 15 minutes and then we can play.” I would respond with an “ok” like I completely got it and I was going to let her get some rest. I might have given her 3 minutes before I went back in to ask her if she was ready to play. I have a feeling this will be coming back my way with a little girl named Lila bug.

It is difficult to put into words how special my mom is and how lucky I am to have her. I am so happy that my daughter also gets to experience her loving touch and generous heart.

Mother’s Day 2011

 

Easter Weekend

9 Apr

We had a wonderful weekend full of friends, family and good food. We went to see my mom and dad, Lila’s great-grandparents, and lots of cousins. I took my camera and made lots of pictures on Saturday but I left in in Johnson City…boo on me. I got a few pictures on my phone though so I am not going through complete withdrawal of having no camera:)

Saturday was such a busy a day with so much traveling and so many people to see. By the time we made it to my parent’s house at 10pm Lila was overly tired. It was a rough night for us. She was so tired that she was restless and up down and up and down all night. This is not like her. However, this seems to be a pattern with her when we have jam-packed days and she doesn’t get a whole lot of down time.

I was wiped by Sunday morning but we managed to get up and make it to church, and then Lila came back to dig in to her Easter basket. This entertained her for about 5 minutes. We didn’t dye eggs this year because I knew it would be incredibly messy with a one-year old but I look forward to doing it next year.

We had a wonderful Easter and I am so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family.

Mama and Lila being silly 🙂

Taste-testing all the toys.

“Mom, is this for me?”

Lila’s sweet Easter dress.

Lovin on the G-parents.