Wednesday, August 13, 2014

#WordlessWednesdays: Ike's First Day of Preschool

Said to before and I'll say it again: The days are long, but the years are short. 

Sometimes, I feel like I just gave birth to this sweet boy. Other times, like today, I'm reminded it's been almost four years since he came into this world.



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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

#WordlessWednesdays: My Little Ike.

I know this is technically a #WordlessWednesdays post, but I can't help but comment on this picture of my sweet 3 year-old, newly-middle child. He's right smack dab in the intense period of toddlerhood, challenging authority, pushing boundaries, expertly executing epic levels of passive aggression (Seriously. He could teach a class.). 

And yet.

He is simply marvelous in my eyes. That's motherhood for ya. 

He put his hood on all by himself...
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Best of the Web: My Favorite Fashion Blogs!

I know I'm a day late for this week's "Best of the Web" series, but I'm making up for it with fierceness! Folks, allow me to introduce you to three of the most stylish women from around the web. Each and every one of them inspires me to take my own look to the next level. Enjoy!

Best Overall Style: Fulake Huntoon of StylePantry
I adore the way this woman is unafraid to wear bold colors in a wide variety ways without losing her innate sense of sophistication. Her style is the perfect balance of vibrance and classic appeal.
Image via StylePantry
Chicest Mama: Andee Layne of The Honeybee
I randomly stumbled onto Andee's style on Pinterest; I was pregnant with my daughter and searching for tips on how to be fashionable while expecting (and beyond). That was over a year ago, and Ms. Layne continues to be a source of inspiration for me.
Image via Andee Layne
Best Risk-Taker: GabiFresh
In a world that seems to be hellbent on making everyone who falls outside of the very narrow definition of what is "appropriate" or "acceptable", Gabi reminds me that fashion is supposed to be fun and those so-called rules were meant to be broken. She inspires me to take risks in my own way, and I'm always better for it.
Image via GabiFresh
Do you have any fashionistas who inspire you? Feel free to share in the comments below!

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Leap!




At 32, I'm just now feeling confident and brave enough to be fully open to life's possibilities. Instead of shrinking from fear and self-doubt, I find myself wanting to run toward that which challenges--and even frightens--me.

I want God to take me and do with me what He will. After all, His track record? Perfect. (Literally!) Mine? Well, it's considerably more, ahem, spotty...

To the best of my knowledge, we get one shot at this life, and man, I want to LIVE. I want to thrive so fully that the good Lord sees fit to give me a few random talents, just for giggles. Play the banjo? Sure! Learn the art of mime? Why not! Recite the periodic table? Done and done!

This life is such a gift and nobody knows how long each of us will be around. I've wasted more than enough time feeling less-than.

The time has come to leap.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

5 Ways to Spend Less (& Live More)



Having gotten married in our very early twenties, my husband and I have grown into adulthood together. After over a decade together, it's safe to say we've had a many a discussion about money and all the things we'd do if/when we had more of it. Somewhere along the way, though, we'd forgotten that making those goals a reality takes a real effort. As MuseDays mentions in her BlogHer post entitled, "The #1 Secret to Living Like Successful People Do,  
If you stay in the mindset of only dreaming what it would be like to reach your goals, you’ll always find a reason why you can’t do something.  By the time you finish with all the “what ifs," you will have talked yourself out of truly living a more successful life.
For all our fantasizing, we'd made the crucial mistake of speaking as though we were still newlywed twenty-somethings, musing about future plans--homeownership, family travel, saving for our children's education, retirement--and waiting for some arbitrary starting gun to sound! A few months ago, we decided it was time to replace all those lovely words with actions. First on the list: acknowledging our undisciplined spending habits and creating a budget that would put us closer to our goals. Using this plan, we we've managed to reduce our expenses while greatly increasing our overall quality of life.    




1. Go back to basics 
Get your paper, pencil, and calculators, folks, because there's no point in beginning this process if you don't know what's coming in and going out. It might be uncomfortable, but there's no way around it. Further, don't just look at the grand total of your credit card statement and/or checking account balance; whittle it down by categories to get the most accurate picture. In the past, I'd made what I thought were drastic cuts--switching to bare-bones cell and cable plans, furiously clipping coupons, canceling my gym membership--to our budget, but they never alleviated the problem because those things didn't make up the bulk of our overspending. Upon closer examination, we concluded that the majority of our resources (after fixed expenses) flowed to three areas: eating out, unnecessary trips to Target, and gift-giving. We indulged in the first two categories out of boredom. Apparently, we were bored quite often because the simple act of getting into the car would trigger a Pavlovian response; we'd literally feel hungry a few minutes after pulling out of the driveway! Now, we cook at home almost exclusively and only shop at Target when we have a list. If we've got a bit of excess energy, we head to the library, the park, or Grandma's house for a quick swim. Not only have we saved hundreds of dollars each month, but we've grown closer as a family. Bonus: I've even lost a few post-pregnancy pounds! Lastly, we cut waaaaay back on giving store-bought presents. A sincere message, modest bouquet of flowers, or a shared meal at our home have become our go-to gifts of choice.

We live in a culture of instant gratification and overconsumption, so depending on how deeply entrenched you are, this process may cause varying degrees of discomfort. That is completely normal! In time, I promise you will see the benefits, and your hard work will pay off in the immediate as well as the future.