Monday, February 27, 2012

Soul Food

It's been a rough week & Jared & I, we walked into our weekend with some pretty busted up hearts.

A lesson I've learned & am continuing to learn as I grow older is that it's a good thing to take moments as they come--even the moments of affliction. It's profitable to allow oneself to feel emotions as they surface--to taste the bitterness of hurt when it trickles down deep inside, to feel the burn of tears as they sting our eyes, & to face anger when it rages up inside us. We've gone through a wide spectrum of emotion over this past week & that's why when the weekend finally fell upon us, we decided to clear our schedules, hunker down & be exactly where we needed to be--with each other.

What we needed was a little soul food. 

I'm not talking about the soothing, comforting, eat a big bowl of chicken soup & you'll feel all better kind of soul food {although there did happen to be some mean homemade mac & cheese involved in our weekend happenings}. I'm talking about the submerge ourselves in prayer, weep with one another, face our grief together, celebrate new beginnings, wrap our arms around one another & draw closer to each other kind of soul food. I'm talking about the realization of a God that is bigger than all our life messes, recognizing the bigger plan He has in store for all of us & feeling the mighty love & adoration He is pouring out to us if we just look beyond the here & now kind of soul food.

Man, did we have ourselves one crazy feast of soul food this weekend. And it was so, so good.

It was good to slow down & just be.

It was good to sit around a toddler table with our little family of three {almost four!} for our Saturday morning breakfast casserole & coffee.

It was good to throw the cushions off the couch & pretend we had our very own living room trampoline.

It was good to get a few projects done here & there.

But mostly, it was good to talk through our pain. It was good to feel the power within our prayers. It was good to link arms in fellowship with our church family. It was good to feel the depths of the emotions we've had surging through us. And it was really good to wake up this morning & feel the hope of a brand new day. 

That busted up heart that we entered into the weekend with isn't so busted up anymore. The sharp, jagged edges are slowly starting to smooth out. The scattered pieces are fitting back into their original shape. The bruises are fading. The healing process is beginning. 

We are revived. We are renewed. We are refreshed. We are marching forward.

A little bit of soul food sure does go a long way.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

40 Bags In 40 Days

It's hit me. 

That inexplicable urge to throw open windows & give em' a good sparklin', to pull glossy white paint from the top shelf in the garage & touch up those battered baseboards, to tear out every last item from each closet, shelf, cabinet, nook & cranny & do the following with it: toss it, chuck it, throw it, condense it, donate it, purge it, GET RID OF IT!

It's spring cleanin' time, folks. And I've got 40 days to get it done.

I joined a few of my blog friends last year in this 40 Bags In 40 Days Challenge {more links here, here  & here& it was exactly the jumpstart I needed to get moving on my spring cleaning list. Might I also add what a really neat way it was for me to be able to focus on the deeper meaning of Easter in my own personal spiritual life. 

So here's how it works--you've got 40 days {not counting Sundays} from now until Easter. Make a list of all the areas of your home that you would like to see clean & organized & then dive in a little at a time. That's the great thing about this challenge--you check off a little everyday so it never becomes too overwhelming or daunting. 

Now, I personally get a thrill out of watching bags go out the door. I feel lighter, fresher, freer just seeing that I'm making more space in my home & that I'm weeding out the stuff that is simply taking up room & not really serving a purpose in the very little space we have in this house. I know that not everyone shares the same excitement I do about watching their belongings go marching out the door. I've had a few people ask me to teach them how to get rid of things. Well, here's how I do it & what works for me: First of all, if I don't use it--sayonara, sucker. Seriously, why in the world would I hold onto a drawer full of cooking utensils when I only use my very favorite five or seven & the rest just tick me off every time they get in the way of me finding my favorite five or seven? It becomes one big cluttered mess & it makes no sense. My solution--Goodbye clutter! It's really that easy. I use this same thought process when going through my clothing, cookbooks, linens, dishes...whatever the case may be. And with this being my second go at the 40 Days Challenge, I am finding there is so much less to throw out this time around. When you follow through with this challenge once a year, {& as long as you aren't replacing it with more junk}, there is less to toss out the next time around & the process goes much smoother & quicker. 

Okay, stop. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, What if I throw that one thing out & need it later? You won't. Just trust me. If I'm torn about a particular item, I just go ahead & part ways with it & tell myself if I HAVE to purchase a new one at a later date, then I'll just bite the bullet & do it. I've never had to. And for me, it's worth that gamble. Extra space in my home is worth the ten or twenty bucks I will probably never even have to spend down the line to replace the item, anyhow.

So come on, join me! You'll love it. If you don't believe me, just go & tackle one closet. One measly closet. I bet it'll put a giddy in your step & before you know it, you'll be hooked & moving on to the next space that needs organized. If you need more convincing go here & here  to read how this little challenge has/is working for some of my blog friends, as well.

I'll be checking in every once in awhile with updates as I go along. I'll let you know what is & isn't working for me & I'll spill any helpful hints I think could help you out in your challenge. If you decide to jump on board, I would really love to hear how your progress is coming along, as well. So shoot me a comment every so often & let me know. It's great motivation to me to see other people's homes getting in tip top shape! Just think how awesome our homes are going to look & feel by Easter! Woot woot! 

Well, I'd better get going. I've got bags to haul out the door. Three to be exact. {Umm, yeah. I totally just did a fistpump.}

Happy organizing, my friends!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Memory Lane Monday: Jett's Nursery

Welcome to my favorite room in the house.

It's everything a nursery should be--soft & cushiony, calm & soothing, crisp & clean, elegant & plush. I seriously could stay in this room forever & never come out. 

I really {heart} this room.

I dreamed of this nursery for years--not even kidding. Long before I ever saw two pink lines on a pregnancy test, I found myself sitting for hours in my favorite little baby boutique combing through fabric swatches, drooling over paint colors & envisioning the perfect nursery for my very own sweet, little babe. I googled, searched & picked through every site on the internet {sure wish Pinterest was around back then} for cribs, bassinets, rocking chairs, bedding & decor that suited my style & I organized it perfectly into my handy, dandy three ring binder. To say I was excited to design my own nursery one day is quite an understatement. 

You can imagine the pure elation that jolted through my body when those two faint lines showed up on that home pregnancy test & I could finally waltz myself into my favorite little baby boutique, three ring binder in hand & start making my all nursery dreams an actual reality.

Jared was quite aware of my excitement & {very wisely} gave me one stipulation before letting me loose to get my design on. The stipulation was that I could do everything I had ever dreamed of for this nursery, but this was my one & only chance. He didn't mind letting me splurge on the items I truly loved as long as this was it. In a few years down the road, when we would decide to add another little bundle to the mix, I wouldn't be able to completely start over from scratch & create a brand new dream nursery. This was going to be the nursery--the nursery that all of our children would enjoy. 

I wasted no time before setting out to choose my crib & linens. The moment I saw this crib, with its gorgeous ornate detailing, my eyes just about popped out of my head--it was love at first site. The next task at hand was finding bedding to match such a divine crib. Thankfully, I knew just the lady. Pam at Lauren Alexandra pulled out the most scrumptious fabrics you can possibly imagine, making sure each & every layer was softer than the next & that all my favorite textures such as ribbons, ruffles & polka dots were tied together just perfectly. By the end of it all, we had a room that simply oozed baby & I was one very pleased momma.

I got so much slack about having all white bedding. I actually considered taking heed to the warnings several times & choosing something a little more baby-friendly. But to this day, I could not be happier with my choice. Has it been puked on? Yep. Pooped on? More than once. But it washes up beautifully & when I try & think of anything else I would have possibly chosen, I draw a blank. This is the look I dreamed of & I'm so glad I went with my gut. 

Can we talk about this chair for a minute? This chair = heaven. Best. Investment. Ever. Every momma needs an amazing rocking chair to rock her baby in & I cant tell you how many miles I've already put on this thing. I've spent many a night sitting in this chair, rocking back & forth, memorizing every perfect feature of my little guy's face. To this day, it is still one of his {& my} favorite places to curl up & just rockabye. 

And how about this bassinet. Stunning, right? My friend, Olena Boyko makes THE most exquisite crib & bassinet linens. And if you think her work is beautiful, you should get to know the mastermind behind it all--she is a wonderful lady & equally as lovely as all of her gorgeous designs.

As much as I adore my nursery furniture & linens, it's actually all the small details that are sprinkled throughout that make this room one that I can sit & get lost in.

Details that hold so much meaning to my heart--like the adorable little airplane mobile my best friend made for Jett before he was ever born, the beautiful ceramic piggy bank with Philippians 4:8 engraved on the bottom that my Aunt Elaine painted especially for my little Meatball, the ultrasound, maternity, & newborn pictures placed around the room that remind me of what a miracle my precious baby's life is, the pile of custom made pillows my Aunt Vera carefully crafted to match my decor so perfectly, the coming home outfit {that we literally had to squeeze him into like a little sausage} that hangs on the sweet little hooks my dad & Jared hung together while I sat big & pregnant watching them work. These are all the details that I never could have organized, never could have planned, never could have dreamt of. They are the details that make Jett's nursery my favorite place to be.

I must admit, I am really struggling with my little Meatball moving on to his big boy room. I just feel like it all went by too fast & that my big boy should still be this tiny baby that I sneak into the nursery at 4 a.m. to feed & rock back to sleep. Where on earth did the time go?

It has been the nursery of my dreams, there is no doubt about it. But the time has come to move on.

I've got a growing little boy & a growing belly & neither one of them are slowing down anytime soon, it seems. That means that this momma must grow right along with the process & allow & embrace the changes ahead--a two year old in a twin bed, side rails to keep him from falling out & a room that is equally as awesome as his nursery, in a big boy kind of way, of course. A new paint color on the nursery walls, {I'm thinking cream}, splashes of pink thrown here & there, & making room for little details that will make the new nursery one I'll go ga-ga for.

Stay tuned for the many changes that are coming!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Playdate | Valentine Style

So who cares if Valentine's Day was three days ago. In our house, Valentine's Day gets a whole week of celebrating. That's why we took a typical morning playdate & tweaked it just a smidge. Whip out some frosting, a few shakes of heart sprinkles & two sweet friends {make that four--us mommas are pretty sweet friends, too} & you've got yourself a playdate gone Valentine style.

These boys had themselves a ball. They frosted with such determination. They dipped their fingers into dishes of frosting & double dipped them again & again without a thought in the world. They unloaded entire shakers of candy sprinkles {on one single cookie}. They took bites of their masterpieces before ever completely finishing them. They licked all the frosting off one cookie & then went for another one. If you ask me, I'd say these boys know exactly what they're doing when it comes to decorating Valentine sugar cookies.

Have a great weekend, friends! Be a kid & lick some frosting!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Memories That Stick {Valentine's Day}

Some memories just stick. That's because some memories are just pack'n so much love that they can't help but be remembered long after their allotted time has expired. 

My mom made Valentine's Day special--that's a memory that sticks. I'll never forget being a small elementary school girl on this heart filled day of love. Throughout the afternoon, in between all the ruckus that a holiday stirs up in the classroom, our teacher would receive thin, rectangular slips of paper from the main office that she was to hand out to designated owners. On Valentine's Day, you desired desperately to be one of the owners of those slips of paper. Heartbeats skipped a little faster, eyes fixated on the teacher's every move & hopes sailed as each tiny pupil anxiously awaited to see who's hand that next coveted piece of paper would land in. I remember when it was mine. My heart did flip flops. My face turned beet red. I portrayed a shy smile while behind it, I was actually beaming from ear to ear. That little slip of paper clutched in my hand with my name scribbled on it meant something & it meant something big. It meant that someone {my mom} had sent a special valentine surprise to the school for me. A balloon bouquet, a bag of sour gummy candy, a teddy bear, a box of chocolates...the possibilities were endless. As the minutes ticked away, my excitement grew as I anxiously awaited for that three o'clock bell to ring so I could run to the lunch room & claim my prize. 

She didn't do it every single year & I didn't come to expect it. I'm glad for that. It made the times that I did receive one of those 'golden tickets' just that much sweeter. But she always managed to do something come Cupid's Day. Whether it be decorating my bedroom in a spray of hearts, slipping into my classroom for the big Valentine class party, a tub of cupcakes in hand that she'd baked & sprinkled herself, or showing up to my college dining hall with a bouquet of flowers & balloons {which at the time I pretended in front of her & all my friends that I was utterly humiliated when really, it warmed my heart}, she knew just how to make the day a special one. And you see, just like that, the memories stick.

That same mom who used to make the holidays so special by decorating my bedroom, being home room mom & showing up to my college dining hall with those flowers & candy? Well, she's still in that same business--the making her kids feel loved, adored, special & treasured business. Check out the cool Valentine treats she surprised us with--a new stool for Jett man & the entire collector's edition dvd series of "Little House On The Prairie" {my favorite television show as a little girl}. Turns out, the feeling of being loved is something you just never grow out of. I have a great mom.

Perhaps it's that clearly remembered excitement from my childhood that fuels my own desires as a momma to take a holiday like Valentine's Day & raise the roof on it. Perhaps it's that very childlike giddiness that I still can taste that wakes me up an hour before everyone else on V-day & gets my heart a flutterin'. Perhaps it's those childhood memories of mine-- of being made to feel so loved, so special, so adored that are the very reason I tiptoe into the living room just as the sunlight is barely beginning to peek into our home & I get busy stringing hearts & sprinkling hershey kisses.  I slap my own 'golden ticket' on the day. I set the stage for memories...memories that'll matter...memories that'll stick.

Making Valentine's breakfast together. He's such a little helper these days.

A table set for two.

He was obsessed with all of the hearts that were strewn throughout the house. We've been working on his shapes lately & while he hasn't quite got them all conquered just yet, little man knows the "hawt" shape like no other. Oh, how I love him.

A celebration of the man I love with all my heart.

Balloons, chocolate hearts & love notes. Seems simple, but he lit up like he'd been given the most expensive gift on the market. 

A candlelight dinner.

Little divine desserts.

Bustin' out the sparkling grape juice & toasting to our sweet family, our multitude of blessings & the abundance of love we have for one another. 

It was indeed, a very special Valentine's Day. And you can bet I'll do my darn-dest to make them all special in some way or another.

Because one day, a long time from now, I can only hope that the memories we've made together aren't merely ones that we taste of & forget. No, I hope for more so much more than that. I hope for memories that settle for a time but then one day out of the blue, stir up a smile in the hearts of the loves of my life.

I hope for memories that stick.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Pucker up! It's Valentine's Day!

Wishing you a day full of love & smooches!

Happy Valentine's Day, friends!