Don't Be Discouraged.

This is a post I think I have written no less than fifteen times in my head. I've been trying to find a way to make it a little bit less raw. A little bit more poetic to cover up a little bit of the wake it left. But I've decided to just start here: On October 23rd of this year (the day after his birthday), Mike got laid off. 

To give some background, Mike and I met in training for our job. During that first year, we were able to become friends and just enjoy each other. We obviously got married and had kids, but it all started because a friendship grew in a place neither one of us really expected to be. All that to say, that morning when I had just finished dropping the boys off at school and the phone rang, my heart plummeted when Mike voiced that he had just lost his job.

I called my mom and then my grandparents before getting back to the house and I just wept. My heart was hurting for my husband, I was a little angry, and I guess if I had to really think about it, I was probably starting to grieve the life that we had been afforded. Mike and I literally spend all day, most days together. What would that new normal look like? Could it be better than what we had? I was overwhelmed but I walked in the house, hugged Mike, and then went to the living room, got on my knees, and cry-prayed all of my hopes for this time, my fears, my aggravations. 

The next few weeks were okay. Even typing that I realize how blessed we are that it was weeks (maybe two months) and not longer like most people face when put in this position. Mike was in oddly good spirits and I was doing my very best to be the encouraging, supportive wife that I imagined a husband would appreciate in this sort of situation. I just wanted him to be able to look back at this time and be like, "dang my wife held it down". I wanted to make sure he was confident that whatever comes our way, I've got him. We were both really good at protecting our marriage in the middle of the mess. We were hurt, but hopeful that God would turn it around. To put it in the words of Thunderclap, the pterosaur from The Good Dinosaur, "The storm provides". No rain, no rainbow. I prayed and I became (probably annoyingly) excited for the adventure on the other side of the storm. 

Next year that adventure is coming in the form of a cross country move to Cedar City, Utah! Mike landed the job of his dreams with a company that values it employees (and their families) unlike anything I've ever seen. It was too incredible to turn down and it's going to mean a lot for our family. We might be moving a little further from our family and friends in Georgia, but hopefully our California family will get to spend more time with us! Also, the living is sllooowww in this little cute town in Utah. We're hopeful that we'll have a lot more time to spend with our boys making memories that root them in love, faith, and hope. 

So that's where we are.. A little bit of what got us there, and our hopes for what's on the horizon. 

20171123_977A8434.JPG

One Thing / 11.

I have been a hot mess express as of late. A lot of things have changed at work, I recently started Burn Boot Camp so my body aches in ways that I didn't know possible, and I'm just a grouchy puddle of good for nothing. So I figured I'd try and commit to at least one day of blogging a week. No rules. The only expectation is that I stick to that. Writing makes me happy and my heart a little lighter so it's kinda free therapy. Even though, if you know me, you'd probably agree I should go to real therapy and sit on someone's couch, real soon. 

But back to the feelings. Every major life event, I feel, either feels super isolating or tremendously welcoming. In my experience, getting married was like admittance to a club where the booze is flowing and the dj plays your favorite songs all night long. Motherhood on the other hand has been this awkward grey area of in-betweens. You suddenly have open arms welcoming you in the form of faces you love but have never met in real life (hey Insta-mom friends!) but if you're like me, one of the first to have babies in my crew, there's also this weird space of what comes next. 

So to make months worth of anguish (okay that's a bit dramatic) a short story, a few weeks ago I found myself sobbing in my best friends car trying to explain how isolating it felt to be a mom. She had NO idea I was feeling this way because I hate feeling vulnerable and she has the kind of eyes you can't look into with feelings on your chest and not end up crying! But I talked and she listened. And then she talked and I listened. And it really is a tale as old as time (insert bad singing), but people really can't be there for you if you don't invite them in.

It took me waaay to long to learn that. Like, months of ugly crying to Mike long. And now I'm doing better to make sure that I create less space between myself and some of the other mamas in my life. The images below were from this past weekend when we got together with one of my best friends (my god son's mom) and spent a few hours at the park. I'm ashamed to say this is the first time we'd gotten together as a family BUT I'm committed to making it stick. 

So, hug a mama today. Share your feelings. Make plans. Give the love you want to receive. 

lessons learned, 2016.

No.1: Everyone says to find your tribe and I agree 100% that having a community to support you is key to living a fulfilled life. Although, I feel like most people use the phrase to be exclusionary. The kind of thought that once you find your tribe, that's it. What I have found this year, is that the way your tribe evolves and grows is almost a direct reflection of the love and light that you are putting out into the world. This year I grew closer with friends I've known longer than I've not, I've made an entirely new set of friendships, and some friendships have taken on  smaller, though no less important roles. I will say that this represents substantial growth from my perspective last year. Some experiences last year left me carrying jaded views into 2016, but I've been throwing grace around like confetti to every relationship I have and learning the importance of meeting people where they are. It's a lot easier to approach relationships with love when you aren't projecting who you want someone to be on them but instead love the heck out of them just where they are. 

No.2: Being honest with yourself isn't easy but it's necessary. We all have little stories that we tell ourselves for some reason or another. Maybe it's something to excuse away bad behavior from your past or a little lie you've convinced yourself is truth out of habit. This year I really worked hard to start chipping away at my truth and understand why I behave the way I do. Why am I quick to say no? Why have allowed myself to hold on to resentment? Why am I not motivated to create the life I want for myself? The answers (and actions you take) after asking yourself the hard questions, help you become the person you were meant to be. And if you're really feeling brave, present your short comings to someone you love and trust and have them help keep you accountable for working on better habits. I do this almost daily with Mike. I try to explain my actions or shortcomings in our marriage and then ask for forgiveness, guidance, or acceptance over and over again. It has been extremely healing and encouraging.

No.3: Fear can't run your life. I have had a lot of big ideas this year. Many, I haven't seen even a quarter of the way through. I give up before I even get started out of fear that my idea or product won't be received well. Mike and I recently took a trip to Puerto Rico. While we were waiting for our connecting flight in Tampa, I spotted a book I've been meaning to read, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. In it, Gilbert likens her goal to live a create life as a road trip with herself, creativity, and fear. She continues to describe the trip and speak directly to fear, stating that he is welcome to come along on the trip but that he can not call the shots. While reading her words I realized that on my current journey, fear is in the drivers seat. Steering me away from opportunities, blasting the music too loud, and making it easy to lose focus. So my goal for next year is to be intentional. I want to be intentional about the life I'm creating without succumbing to fear. 

No.4: Stop saying no out of cowardice. This kind of piggybacks off of point No.3 but it seriously needs to be stated over again. This year I said no to so many things that I didn't even realize it until the last days of December. I was looking at all the creatives I follow put together their 'Best of 2016' posts only to realize that I only shot like 3 times. Three. All year. And I didn't even feel bad about it until I realized why. I was 'Cowardly Lion'ing' my life. Friends reached out to me for design work and the answer was an automatic no. Followed by something like I just had a baby or my 9 to 5 is stress enough. People reach out to me to shoot their moments and the no's followed there as well. I was afraid that whatever I did wouldn't live up to what people thought I could do. That's crazy! They were coming to me because they had saw something I'd previously done or just down right believed in me and I was shooting them down with a 'no' that was pretty much saying I know you believe in me but I don't believe in myself. That almost brings tears to type. But it's true and I'm working on kicking that habit of 'no'. Good riddance. 

No.5: Love yourself, now. Like in this moment, period. So let me share a little bit about my personal struggle. When I get pregnant, I know I am going to be sick for 10 months. And while I loathe throwing up every morning, part of me likes it because I get to stay small and not pack on the pounds. During both of my pregnancies, I delivered not weighing more than 15 pounds of the weight I started at. None of this is to brag, but to help you understand where the insecurities come from. The weeks spent breast feeding the boys are even better! The pounds drop and in no time I'm skinnier than I was before the pregnancy and I put the completely unrealistic goal of staying that small on top of an ideal that is far to fragile to attain. But of course the weight creeps back up leaving me feeling like I let someone down. Who? IDK. The Internet telling me it's natural to snapback? Y'all. Can we leave in 2016 all versions of any word that make a woman feel like she has to rush to not look like she JUST HAD A BABY? The pressure to be fit right after you have a baby is terrifying and ridiculous. I have had to remind myself constantly that how I am right now, is not only enough, but it's perfect. Belly over the top of my jeans, perfection. I take a selfie for myself in every moment that I'm feeling down right gorgeous. One with the tummy sucked in and then one with it all hanging out. I'm going to do it until I feel like both versions of myself are sexy, desirable, and bad ass. If you get to feeling down about yourself I say you do it with me. We don't have to swap selfies or anything but let me know if it helps! It's doing a lot to help me love myself as I am, right now.

So there we have it. 2016 seemed to really fly by without much of an impact but I guess all it took was a little bit of reflection for me to truly feel the weight it dropped on my shoulders. Here's to chipping away at making 2017 the best year yet. 

+ Photo above taken by Stephanie She

Beep! Beep!

A few weeks ago we were on our way home when we saw a sign for Touch-A-Truck at a park that we take Dean to by our house. I looked it up and knew it would be the a great activity to take Nug to. He's almost one and a half so we have been searching for more activities that we can do to burn off some of that built up toddler energy on the weekends. The fact that this was near by, on a Saturday morning, and outside made it a no-brainer. I've got to admit that I am pro team sun for wearing out an active toddler (we keep him hydrated)! 

We talked to him about trucks for the few days leading up to it to get him excited, but the day of he was mostly just sleepy so we made the best of it. It was packed but he still got the chance to walk through some trucks and beep the horns, his favorite part. Are there events like this where you live? Any Alpharetta/Atlanta mama's that have the heads up on events like this let me know! I'm trying to do better at taking advantage of all these free activities for kiddos in my area. This one was definitely a good time and only makes me more excited for when the boys can experience it all together. 

Nug is completely obsessed with dogs. He can spot one a mile away before we see it and the only way we know that one is near by is by him yelling "woof, woof!". He's got a deep love for them... as long as they aren't that close. Talking him into touching them is challenging and even if he turns into a punk when they come close, he will proudly strut his stuff while walking away like he just made the dog his best friend. It's the silliest/cutest thing ever. 

I rarely appear in pictures with Dean because I'm always taking them so this one means a lot. I'm going to start tossing the camera to Mike more often!

This is probably my favorite picture of Dean as a toddler. He was not in the mood for any of this this day but sitting in the fire truck and beeping the horn was his fave. It's so odd that in this picture, I still see my baby but also a teenager at the same time. #ImNotReady

We are falling more in love with our little suburb. Are there any Alpharetta moms that would like me to share here when events are coming up? If so, just let me know!

lately.

I am baffled as to how we almost have a 10 month old and how little I have been documenting our lives in this space. I have so much to share with you guys (coming soon, eek!), so I thought I would slowly start getting back into the groove of updating this space. Life with Nugget is busy, but I love occasionally going back to read the posts when it was just Mike and I and I'm so glad that I took the time to share those little moments. And to prove that I'm going to do better, I had (I mean nicely asked) Mike to haul my not so light desk upstairs so that I could work, blog, everything where I spend most of my time.It previously lived in the living room and while we do spend time there as a family most of our time is spent in Nugget's room or in bed watching movies as a family. 

I have so many posts that I'm starting to write from sharing outfits (what?!) to sharing the progress that we've made on our home in the last year. But I'm going to ease back in with just sharing what we've been up to lately. 

Ten whole months old, guys. His birthday is right around the corner and what I originally planned to be a big to do is slowly turning into a backyard get together with family and friends. Who needs the extra stress of planning, right? A few Nug updates: He's moved into his "big boy" room which gives him more room to play and be free. He has 6 teeth. Still no interest in walking. He can clap with the best of them. He sleeps through the night like a champ most nights. He loves that he can eat off our plates now and will demand food if he see's us put anything close to our mouths. Basically, he's my child. 

 Dean at my God son's second birthday which was the first birthday party Nugget has attended. His face was pretty much like this the whole time. Just observing unless a ball pit or food was involved.

Dean at my God son's second birthday which was the first birthday party Nugget has attended. His face was pretty much like this the whole time. Just observing unless a ball pit or food was involved.

We seriously need to Amazon lots of these balls for him!

We took a quick trip to South Carolina to visit my grandparents and they had so much fun getting Nug dressed for our day out. 

Said home renovations! I can't wait to share more with you guys!

lessons learned, 2015.

You know, when I was in college I didn't think that time could move faster than it was at that point in time. Each quarter meant new classes, there was so much to do but so little time... or so I thought. Now that I'm a wife and mother I can't help but smile fondly in remembrance of that blissfully naive young girl that thought taking pole classes and going to class three days a week was a full load. How nice is it though to have the opportunity to look back on our younger years with fresh eyes. Nothing stings as bad as it did in the moment and maybe you even get a good laugh out of the lessons you learned the hard way.

Last year was easily the most incredible year of my life. Mike and I celebrated one year of marriage, we welcomed Dean, bought a house, hosted events, it was amazing. But it also came with it's challenges. Some that now, I can look back on as lessons learned. They've been weighing on my heart and mind for some while now so I figured I may as well write the words and set them free. 

Numero Uno: Everyone you meet will not be your forever friend.

This one was tough. Every part of my being longs to see others happy. I've always been that way. If you need something and I have even a third of it, it's yours. This past year I learned a lot about my standing friendships but where this hit me the hardest was in my business. Through Akia and Company, I get to meet some pretty amazing people. Naturally, I treat everyone I work with as a friend that it's been way too long since I've seen last. Now this is a great thing, and why I believe people refer my work to other people they know. That being said I get emotionally involved before the "second date" and I'm bummed when for whatever reason the friendship doesn't pan out the way I expected it too. There was one situation last year that really hurt. It occupied my thoughts, became the topic of discussion more than I'd care to admit, and I'm sure that my best friends I have a group chat with were just plain over it. What I learned is that I hated the way it felt letting something so small consume so much of the way I felt about myself and how I ran my business. So I let it go. I can't help who I am and how much I truly love helping others. But what I can control is how I react when things just don't turn out as I envisioned. And from now on, when moments like this occur (because they always do), I will react with love and light and nothing less. 

Numero Dos: Save some room for grace.

Finesse, poise, grace... Give me all you have of it and then I'll take a little more. One of my favorite verses right now is:

Part of 2 Corinthians 12:9: "My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness". 

I mean talk about being humbled by God's love for you. Last year was full of some many subtle moments in which God reminded me I didn't have to have it right the first time. Or that it's okay to say sorry and feel vulnerable and weak. I think with all that goes on today, right at our fingertips, it's so easy to get too hard on yourself for not doing or being this or that. My word/mantra/prayer for this year is grace. That I may walk in it, treat myself to it, and throw it around to others as well. 

Numero Tres: You have to do this for you, buttercup.

I learned it can't be for likes, or views, or free things. If it doesn't move you and dig it's way deep into your core it just won't work out and doing it for any other reason is pointless. Passion is scary. Trying to figure out what your calling is, well that's down right terrifying but what I did learn is that there is no room for fear. There's no reason to let yourself down and give yourself excuses. You just have to make the decision to do something and do it. I am still a huge work in progress on this one. 

So there you have it. My top three lessons learned last year. This year already has so much promise and I seriously hope I can carry these lessons with me, with lots of grace... of course.

Friendsgiving 2015.

This year my friends and I decided that we should have a Friendsgiving dinner. Friendsgiving while new to some, has been around for a while. It's a nice way to set aside some time for friends before Thanksgiving comes around and every one dashes to be with their families. Because we were planning to host around 14 people, our home was the perfect fit! In years to come, naturally more friends will be made but I would say 14 people was the perfect number. It was intimate but there were still lots of conversations and fun to be had!

So that all the pressure wouldn't be put on Mike and I to cook a full course meal for all of the guests, every couple brought their favorite dish or two! In the end, we had a pretty nice spread! We had the traditional Thanksgiving fare but also had dishes like beer can chicken and pasta shells. I'll detail some of the things we got at the bottom of the post! 

Furniture:

Wooden Table | Wooden Bench & Cushion | Shorter Chairs | High Back Chairs | Vintage Oval Dining Table | Blue Bench - Home Goods | Taupe Studded Chairs - Home Goods | Gold Shelf - Vintage

Decor:

Pink Plus Rug - Rugs USA | Blue Ikat Rug - Home Goods | Table Runners - Hobby Lobby | Glasses - Vintage | Candle Holders - Vintage | Hot Pink Candles | Vases - Hobby Lobby | Flowers - Hobby Lobby | Paper Coasters - Hobby Lobby | Gold Coasters - Vintage | Gold Plastic Silverware | Square Plates | Bowls 

Photo Backdrop:

Burgundy Sheer Curtain - Thrifted | Gold Fringe - Hobby Lobby | Pink Fringe Garland

Other:

Cake Plate - Thrifted | Orange Cranberry Margaritas (these were a hit!!!) | Patio Chairs | Pink shelf (actually an old head board) - Thrifted


 I think that sums everything up guys! I did my best to include links to anything we purchased. Did you host a Friendsgiving this year? Are you going to? I've heard that some people host them after the holidays as well, which seems like a great idea because you could just bring left overs! If you're shopping for holiday decor (this would be great for Christmas too) Hobby Lobby is a great place to start as everything we bought there was 50% off!