January Ipsy Bag!

I received my first Ipsy bag of 2018, and – to be honest – although I loved the bag design, I wasn’t a fan of the items themselves.  It’s the first time that I’ve received a bag and really only liked one of the items, so I can’t complain too much.

Hoping for better things next month though!  🙂

THE BAG –  The bag was ultra sporty and would be cute in the summer to keep small, personal items together for a trip to the beach.


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CIATÉ LONDON
Fierce Flicks Liquid Eyeliner –      I’m personally not a fan of liquid eyeliner…  I guess my hands aren’t steady enough to apply that precisely and carefully.  Whenever I use it, it looks like my three year old did my makeup.  🙂  Ha!!  The packaging was cute, the color of the eyeliner was really pigmented, and it applied easily (IF you’re a master at liquid eyeliners).

So sadly this just wasn’t for me, but I’m sure it would be great for other ladies.

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VOID
5-Free Polish in Mauvelous –   I haven’t had the chance to paint my nails yet, BUT I’m always excited to try new nail polish brands!!  This polish is free of harsh chemicals AND is vegan, which I love!  And the color looks SO pretty!

I’ll post my reactions to the polish on my Instagram account once I get to try it!


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PREVENTIVE MEASURES 101
After Hours Lip Balm  – I’m not a fan of using lip balm on a regular basis, so this one isn’t for me…


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BRIOGEO HAIR CARE
Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo –   Sooooo I was excited to try this shampoo but was disappointed.  There definitely was a fresh, cooling effect on my scalp…  But I felt as though the charcoal never fully washed out of my hair. My hair felt dirty while using it, and I ended up using my regular shampoo and conditioner afterward to help get it all out.


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KOKIE COSMETICS
Kissable Liquid Lipstick in Desire or Mad About Mauve –    Wasn’t a fan of the matte formula, AND the brownish tint definitely wasn’t for me.


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Here’s to hoping for a better bag next month!!

(Have you tried / liked any of these products)?

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Mommy Mondays – #2

I’ve decided that ‘Mommy Mondays’ has a nice ring to it…  So I’ll keep that title and just blog on Mondays about my commitment to taking weekly personal time.  Whether I took my personal time on Monday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, I’ll just update the blog on Mondays!

That’s using the tired mommy brain, right?  🙂  Mommy Mondays it’ll stay!


 

I always thought that I was a patient person…

Then I had kids.

And suddenly all sanity, rational, and reason was sucked out of me.  I mean, my son literally freaked out at me this morning for smiling too much.  And I wasn’t even smiling with that creepy, I’m-about-to-go-crazy smile that sometimes comes across my face at the end of a really long day.  I was just trying to be friendly.

Like any typical three year old, he has moments of unexplainable, excessive emotion.  He asks “why” fifty million times, and that’s just before lunchtime.  He gets into trouble faster than you can say “don’t unplug the bounce house when there are kids inside.”  And he is constantly trying to figure out who is in charge and running the show.

After long days of desperately clinging to every ounce of patience within me, I definitely hit my moments when I’ve met my quota.  I want to run screaming from the room, calling for an adult to take over already.  But then I realize that I’m the adult, and my actions and reactions are going to have a tremendous influence on my son.

It is usually then that I take a deep breath, say a quick prayer, and then begin the countdown to my weekly night out.  🙂

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A momma needs what a momma NEEDS!

I’m already realizing that my time away from the kids each week is going to make a world of difference this year.  This was only week two of my commitment to enjoy a few hours to myself, BUT I know success when I feel it.  🙂  It’s that breath of fresh air that lets me laugh, vent, share, giggle, and refuel.  I feel human again, which shrinks down everything I blew out of proportion  and helps me focus on what matters again.

This week’s mom night was one that I always greatly look forward to, because it’s a fave of mine!  My friend Liz and I shop for clearance finds and try on clothes just for fun.  (We usually make sure this happens every new season, so that we can browse the out-of-season racks and also take a peak at what’s new).

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Generally, we  try on outfits that fit into one of four categories…

The ridiculous…  I’m talking about gaudy holiday apparel, the dresses that make you ask “who would wear that”, and fur sweaters that look crazy on hangers but somehow always manage to look adorable the minute Liz puts them on.  (I still don’t know how she does it).

The over-the-top fancy…  Glitter, glitz, shimmery, and elegant outfits that would be perfect for a cocktail party on a yacht.  (You know, the life we typically lead as budgeting moms who magically turn into pajama-wearing versions of Cinderella at the strike of 8:30pm).

Edgy…  If you’ve ever met me, you know that I’m bubbly, smiley, and will chat with pretty much anyone as though we’re friends.  Edgy isn’t exactly in my wheel house.  (Hence the fact that the edgiest face I could make for this outfit resembled a slightly mad version of the duck face).  But it does make for a fun photo-shoot… and sometimes – on a rare occasion – the outfit surprises me and is the right mix of edgy and feminine for me to pull off.  😉

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Clearance…  Liz and I are the queens of bargain shopping and rarely buy things at full price.  I mean, sometimes we do.  There are always those “must have” pieces.  But she and I are both on budgets this year, so we’re trying to stretch our pennies as far as we possibly can!

Speaking of stretching pennies, Liz found this gorgeous dress on sale at Maurices for only $15!

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And I bought a lovely green t-shirt from the 24/7 line for only $3.75!

While at the store, I fell in love with this military style jacket and striped dress.  The navy jacket has the prettiest of details with gold buttons and ruffles.  And I’ve really been into florals lately, but still have a love of stripes.  So a dress that has stripes and floral?  I’m in love!

I left both items at the store, however; due to their not being on sale.  Spoiler alert though!  Two days later, I was in possession of both items!   My sister shared a great coupon with me, so I was able to order the jacket.  And then my sister-in-law gave me the dress as a present!  (I know, I know.  I am spoiled and blessed)!

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What a FUN night we had!

My mom’s night was definitely a success and left me feeling refreshed and ready to go!  I am SO glad that I’m making this a priority this year… and that I have an incredible hubby who lets me enjoy them!

 

 

 

 

Date of the Month – January

Nate and I trust our kiddos with exactly one person…  My mom.  I’d be the first to admit that I’m overprotective of my little ones, and – quite frankly – I’m not ashamed of it.  And if someone has a problem with it or criticizes me for it, I just shrug them off and say, “To each his own. Have a nice day.”  Ha, ha!  There are just some things that a mom has to shrug off and to go with what she feels is right.

When they’re older, I won’t be quite as nit-picky about who watches them, but – right now – they’re so innocent and rely so heavily on adult protection and care.  When I leave home without them, I’m leaving behind my most precious of treasures; and I just don’t trust that with anyone else right now.

After all, one of the children being watched is Brady.  And if you’ve met him or read my blog for very long, then you understand what a lovable, mischievous boy he is.  Watching a boy who is Curious George and Dennis the Menace rolled into one?  It’s no easy task.  If there is anything that could potentially be destroyed or used as a dangerous object, he will find it.  Guaranteed.  And my mom is just really good at not only loving him as her own but also at watching him as a hawk.

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We are beyond blessed that she is so excited and willing to watch the kids as often as she does.  On the other hand, it can make date night a bit trickier sometimes.  She already watches both kids every Wednesday when I work.  And then there are weeks when we ask her to babysit, because appointments or responsibilities come up.  During those busy months, we oftentimes have to push off date night.

These past few weeks have been BUSY…  This week, in particular, is filled with work, meetings, and even a piano playing responsibility for me.  So my mom is already watching the kids three times.

But honestly, Nate and I NEEDED date night soooooo badly!  You guys, Nate’s phone was stolen, and the thief got ahold of his credit card information through it.  We found thousands of dollars in charges that we never made (some of them in New York and then in Ohio)!  The past day and a half have been insane, as we’ve alerted banks and kept an eye out for any other problems.  (Nate is terrified that this is going to turn into identity theft, so we’re keeping a close eye on everything).

On top of that, both the Jeep and the car have been in and out of the mechanics…

My poor hubby was definitely feeling frazzled this morning, so I was really grateful that my mom was willing to watch the kids.  He and I ran to the movies to catch the Greatest Showman, and the mini-date was JUST what we needed.

You guys, the movie is sooooooo good!  The story line itself is more sweet than grandiose, but I honestly felt that it pulls at the heartstrings a bit.  And the music?  Oh… my… goodness!!!!!!  We drove home and immediately ordered the sound track.  Ha, ha!  I LOVED every single song.   It’s one of those movies that you can actually bring your family to, and – hmmmm – did I say that the music is sooooo good?!?  🙂  (Nate and I both love the theater and musicals, so this movie was perfect for us).

I’m REALLY glad that, despite the craziness, we decided to get out together for a bit.  It’s so important to keep marriage fun, and our dates are definitely a priority for me this year!!  🙂  We came back feeling much better after the upbeat, song-filled break.

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A Pinterest-worthy Party

Now I know that –  just days ago – I warned about the dangers of comparing your reality to all of the perfect pictures displayed on Pinterest.

But that being said…  Thank goodness for Pinterest, my friends.  🙂  Ha!!!  Seriously!  On occasion, it is really, really helpful.  😉  I’m not sure what women such as myself did before the beautiful, inspirational boards were in existence.  We’d probably be forced to step into a party store and be limited to latex balloons, bright banners, and overpriced confetti.

Okay, fine, I’ll speak for myself…  I’d totally be limited to that.

But a bit of inspiration here and a sprinkle of ideas there?  Hold me back, people!  I’m a party planner with mad skills!

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Am I allowed to brag about myself here on my blog?  Please, just for today?!?  Because I’m dying to share some pretty photo’s with you all.  Granted, I’m no Joanna Gaines or Martha Stewart…  But for my skill level of planning, I’m sooooo excited about how things turned out and feeling quite proud of myself and my sister for pulling off a lovely, 60th birthday party for my mom.  

The most important thing to us, obviously, was that my mom have a wonderful time!  My mom doesn’t like being the center of attention, and she made me swear – multiple times – to not give her a party.  Ha, ha.   She was okay with a family dinner, however; so we decided to obey her wishes… and to make the family dinner as nice as possible.

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My mom is one of the most giving, loving women that you could ever hope to meet.  Beautiful, inside and out!!  She loves my family fiercely, and – even though we’re all grown – she still takes care of us in so many ways.  Honestly, we are beyond blessed to have her in our lives, and we wanted to make her feel special!

The party, although just for family, had to be pretty… delicious… and fun!

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My sister Sarah and I brainstormed how we wanted the evening to go, and – quite frankly – she was my sounding board to make sure ideas made sense.   (She also is wayyyyy better at fluffing tissue paper pom poms than I am, so thank goodness I had her help to decorate the kitchen island).  Ha, ha.

love how this turned out and wish that I could keep it up until Kaitlyn’s first birthday party in May.  😉

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For the table setting, I went with rustic inspiration and asked my dad for help in making wooden bases for a mason jar vase.  My sister and I had found perfect ribbon at the craft store, which I hot glued onto the jar.

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And a trip to a local florist provided me with fresh flowers for the centerpiece, as well as baby’s breath sprigs for our place settings.

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Sarah also was in charge of the cake, and she purchased the most delicious, strawberry cake from my mom’s favorite bakery.  It was ridiculously good!

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I made baked shrimp, garlic potatoes, green beans and mushrooms, butternut squash, homemade bread, and salad for dinner.  (There was a bit of a chaotic moment during the prep, when I suddenly realized that the grocery store had ‘lied’ to me.  The shrimp hadn’t been shelled, cleaned, and deveined as they had said.  I had a crash course in figuring that out [since I’ve never before cleaned fresh shrimp], which put my dinner a bit behind schedule.  But thank goodness my brother showed up to help peel potatoes, my sister-in-law cut up fresh fruit, and my sister served salad and bread.  So we all worked together to get things moving along, and the end result was delicious)! 🙂

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After dinner we played games, laughed at my adorable kiddos, and also had a blast with the photo booth Sarah and I had set up.  I own photography umbrella lights and a tripod already.  And Sarah owns the photography paper, which we used as the backdrop.  It was so much fun, and the pictures will make for great memories!

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The photo booth was personally my favorite part of the night, and it’s definitely going to make an appearance for future functions.  Ha, ha.

My mom said she had a wonderful time, and I’d say that her smiling face / laughter confirmed it!

Pinterest definitely helped make it pretty…  But at the end of the day, getting the family together?  That’s what made it perfect!

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Masterpiece!

I’m not sure if it’s my personality or if one naturally tries carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders once they become a mom…  But perfection is too often my enemy.  I have these visions of who I need to be as a mother and as a wife, and – when I fall short – I label myself “failure” and hang my head in silent shame.

I try, again and again, to measure up.  To be that Proverbs 31 woman who rises early in the morning to manage her families needs, to care for the poor, and to secure the praises of her husband.  But where I succeed in one area, I find another falls short.  And instead of working on shortcomings and celebrating my strengths, I have too often focused with laser vision on wherever I haven’t succeeded.

And let’s face it, as moms, we juggle so many responsibilities that sometimes priorities get jumbled; and we confuse what’s even important in the first place.  There is so much pressure, opinions, and social media swirling around us to give us a false sense of what’s best or necessary.  And so a weight is added to the guilt that we already place on ourselves.

I struggled with so many feelings of inadequacy last year.  But God has really been reminding me as of late that He is perfect… not me.  And that as I continue to shift my gaze and to seek Him more, that everything else will fall into place.  My attitude, my actions, my priorities…

My goal for perfection should be my journey to be more like my Creator.

And throughout that journey, there is pain, disappointment, and heartbreak.  People let us down…  Circumstances are scary…  We don’t measure up to what we think we should be…

But just like clay being formed into beautiful artwork, we are not finished yet.  We are being molded, shaped, and perfected through fire.  And while it’s so easy to focus on where we are now and to dwell on our shortcomings, we serve a God who has already given us the joy and the victory to move forward.  To celebrate what we are through Him.  And to continue striving for betterment.

We can want (and try) to do better without focusing on what we have not yet accomplished.  We are in a marathon.  But we are not failures just because we have not yet crossed the finish line.

In so many ways, this is my mantra for the year.  Because while I so often felt like a failure last year, I am so encouraged to focus on the positive this year.  To see where I started and how much God has brought me through, as a mom, a wife, and even as a woman.

Sometimes I say or do the wrong things.  Sometimes I find myself dwelling on the difficult.  But I am so thankful that I am not yet finished.  That God has a plan for my life.

And I’m thankful that I am – even while a work in progress – a masterpiece in His eyes!

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Mommy Monday #1 – Spa and Blog Night

Mommy Mondays (my 2018 goal to make sure that I have a couple hours of personal time every week) officially began a few days ago!  It’s my slightly-desperate, oh-so-needed attempt to provide myself with moments in which I can breathe… regroup… and pee alone.  I don’t think it’s too much for any mom to ask for.  But sadly, so few moms get to have that.

I am SO blessed to be married to a man who not only understands that I need time for myself, but who also encourages it.  He gets it.  Happy wife; happy life.  Seriously, men, if your wife is nagging and complaining about how much she has to do all day, just send her out of the house for an hour or two of alone time.  I promise you she’ll come back with a smile on her face and a bounce in her step.

We’re moms.  Not superhumans.  We need breaks too!!

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I quickly realized this week, however, that Mommy Mondays are going to find a new home on Thursdays.  (I haven’t renamed them yet, so I need to get on that before next week. Ha, ha).  But Mondays tend to be one of my busier days with the weekend laundry having piled up, meal prep for the week beginning, and piano lessons just around the corner.  It’s hard for me to fully embrace the mental break if I have SO much on my to-do list.  Thursday nights will be much easier for my schedule!

For this week, I stuck with my Monday night plans; since Nate will be busy on Thursday.  To be honest, I almost decided to just start next week, because snow was falling pretty hard outside.  And the kids were bouncing off the walls.  By the time I helped get the baby to bed and Brady was finally settled down a bit, the time was already reaching 7pm.  And I have a strict, must-wear-jammies-by-8pm policy.

This mama did not have the motivation or energy to clean out the car and drive somewhere in the cold.

In the end though, I decided that I couldn’t fail at my goal during the first week; because if I don’t prioritize it, it’s just not going to happen.  Sooooo, I decided to lock myself in the upstairs bathroom for two hours.  Now I realize how depressing this sounds, but – you guys – I may as well have spent the evening at the spa.  (Well, okay, an evening at the spa maybe would have been a little nicer.  HA!).  BUT my night at home was honestly perfect.

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I set myself up with a strawberry lemonaid and a little table for my laptop.  I blogged, read blogs, scanned Pinterest, and then took a hot bath.  It was two hours to myself during which I could sit still and just relax.  I never in a million years would have thought that sitting in the corner of a bathroom could feel so amazing, but it sure did!   Ha, ha.

I’m looking forward to going out next week, but I think that this week’s relaxing night at home was just what I needed!!