Friday, February 17, 2017

Growing

When the Hubs and I first thought about expanding our family with a child, we were excited... anxious... nervous... JOYFUL. We didn't anticipate it would take so long to conceive, but it surely did. God's plans included us waiting for over a year from when we decided to start trying. It was a heck of a journey in that time, as we had to deal with some health concerns that we had no idea existed. When we did find out we were preggo on New Years Day in 2015, we were over the moon!! Reflecting back to that time, we were actually beyond grateful that God had selected Hubs and I to be the parents of some precious little child... He entrusted us to be responsible for shaping someone's life... He loved us both enough for us to teach our baby what life lessons we had learned. We knew it wasn't something that was a fluke or was handed to us, but rather it was God's plan the entire time on His own terms and in His time.

My little boy is a gift to our family every waking day. I try to never to take things for granted with him, from having the luxury of staying at home with him, to temper tantrums, to hugs and kisses, to screaming at the top of his lungs because he thinks he's coaching like Daddy. I wouldn't trade the good, the bad and the ugly with anything else because he's God's special gift for us.

Hubs and I knew we just couldn't stop there... we wanted so bad to give Mata a little brother or sister. Under the circumstances of trying to conceive the first time, we just didn't know how it would go or what would happen. What we did know was that God had our back (as He always does) so long as we kept talking to him and praying for what our hearts desired. And that's just what happened...

I'm happy to announce that we are expecting our second baby, and as we were the first time... we are over the MOON!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day lovers! Though my 17-month old isn't quite in school yet, we still had an opportunity to make some darling Valentine's Day cards for a little Valentine's playdate we went to. I opted for bubbles this year because they were TOO cute to pass up with their heart wants and colorful packaging! I designed the card and we attached the bubbles with adorable Valentine's themed washi tape.... gotta love our Target stores!

Since this year's lovers day falls in the middle of the week, my LO and I will be enjoying some gym time, outside time, and hopefully NAP time until Daddy comes home from work! Maybe I'll make the Hubs breakfast-in-bed with one of these fine recipes I posted on Friday!

What are your plans for this fine Tuesday?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Valentine's Day Breakfast in Bed

[source]
We're in the double digits of February, and Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Whether you have been in a relationship for 15 months or 15 years, it's always great to treat your partner to something special. But, what is the best way to pamper and impress someone?  Well, they say the key to one's heart is through their stomach! 

Shari's Berries has created the perfect guide to breakfast in bed. It includes tips, tray ideas and recipes to sweep your sweetie pie off their feet. Pulling this off is easy if you prepare ahead of time. This may mean waking up extremely early - but rest assured, the reward will be far worth it. 

I have to be honest... being that Valentine's Day falls on a weekday AND the hubs leaves for work at the crack of dawn, I might opt for the pretty avocado toast OR perhaps breakfast-for-dinner in bed!

What are your plans for Valentine's Day? Making it a Valentine's Day weekend?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Winter Faves with Baby

We're going on our third year of being in Nebraska, and I am still not able to embrace the cold winter months. Being cold just hurts my bones... I'm a true Cali girl who thinks anything below 70 calls for a sweater (borderline blanket!). Being at home with a LO because it's too cold outside to enjoy the park or mother nature can take cabin fever to another level. I just have to get ourselves out and about a few times a week, even if it means bundling up the both of us just to walk from the car to an entrance!

I thought I would share a few things the LO and I enjoy doing to escape our household throughout the week. If you have a baby at home in the winter months, I highly recommend checking out your local community for some of these hits:

// Indoor Gym or Play Area [MyGym is FAB!]
This is probably one of our faves to do during the week. MyGym is an amazing opportunity for kiddos to explore with various gym equipment and with other kids their age surrounding them. Once a week they have a structured class for one hour, where the instructor leads songs, specific activities to practice and a bit of separation time from the parents! They also host so many other events such as Free Play, where kids can play on their own time with parent supervision. Another event I love to take advantage of is Drop and Dash, where you can leave your child for up to 2 hours with the best of the best staff who keep them busy and active (oh, and best part is no appointment necessary!). Find an indoor play area that allows interactive play with others and that also can help strengthen the kiddos and explore new limits with their little bodies!

// Library Story Times [or Barnes and Noble Story Time]
Our local libraries offer various story times for infants, toddlers and older kiddos. They usually last about a half hour, and are extremely interactive. At our library, they have a sheet with all the songs they sing so you and the LO can follow along. Typically, they read a book, sing a song, read another book, sing a few more songs. They incorporate puppets, cars, colorful scarves, and of course books! It's a great opportunity to incorporate some song and dance into literature.

// Children's Museum
I've seen and heard of other cities having their own children's museum. We found one in our neck of the woods, and the LO loves it! This museum has 3 different floors, each having a variety of activities for kiddos to explore and partake in. One floor has all the local shops and destinations as you would see in Lincoln (from the post office to the local grocery store and even to the Husker football games!). Another floor has a huge play gym, a water playing area, sensory rooms, and a stage for theatre with costumes, wigs and spotlights! The third floor has all things arts and crafts, trains, airplanes and more. There is so much ground to cover here, that when we go and visit, my LO finds something new to fascinate over each time.

These are just a few ideas of things we enjoy doing, particularly in the cold winter months. I challenge you to bundle up and get out there so you can hurry up and get inside a heated area that your LO and you can enjoy!

What things do you and the kiddos enjoy doing that take place inside?

Monday, February 6, 2017

What a Close Call!

Man, was that a close game last night or what?! Personally I didn't favor one team over the other, but I loved watching the game since football is football! After the first half, I thought it was going to favor the Flacons for sure! But what a come back The Patriots had in the second half, particularly the fourth quarter. They ended up tying the game with the Falcons and of course, they took the victory in the first drive of OT. WOW... what a close call!

Got me thinking of close calls and how often they occur in life. Have you ever had a butt-clenching moment in life that made you think "Whew! That was a close one!" or even "Bummer! I was so close!" I've had this occur with sports games I was cheering for, tests I've taken, or even meeting deadlines at work.

Since last year, I've been juggling being a mommy to my 16-month old and working from home. There have been a few days of this journey with getting some help watching him, whether it be from Daddy on the weekends or a Drop and Dash at MyGym. I certainly don't have a consistent routine with daycare or a babysitter, which means I'm trying to work during nap times and bed time. This makes for some close calls with my deadlines that I don't always favor. I'm the type of person who likes to plan my day and have a window to complete certain tasks, work or personal. The way that I work right now (on my LO's schedule) is stretching me in ways I never planned. In hindsight, it may have not been what I planned it to be, but it's working in the way it is now, even if it comes down to having close calls. BUT I am also learning that I would prefer it not to be this way forever! I need to balance some of this time I love spending with my LO and time for work (which I also love!).  The hubs and I have been visiting a few different potential schools that we might be interested in signing up our LO for on a part-time basis, which would totally allow me that planned time to work uninterrupted. So we're on a few waiting lists and shall see where this journey leads us to!

Lesson learned for me was always about the process. No matter what the outcome was in any given moment, it was more about HOW I got there and how hard I worked. My tip for you and those close calls in your life is to enjoy the process and appreciate the work you put forth to get to that outcome. Don't look back at the negatives and wish you coulda' shoulda' woulda' this and that... but look back and rejoice because I'm sure it helped you grow!
How do you deal with those close calls?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Spruce up your Romance

February has arrived and love is in the air! Later this year, the hubs and I will celebrate our 15 year annie (5 years of being married) and I'm just feeling blessed. I haven't loved the hubs any more than I do today, and my heart just feels like it keeps growing and growing. Being that it's the official month of LOVE I thought I'd share some tips in how we've been able to keep the romance alive for so long!

// Treat each other like you're still girlfriend-boyfriend
It's so easy to slip into routine as hubs and wife, especially when there are children involved. You both go to work, come home, make dinner and get ready for the next day of events. But back in the day when we were dating as girlfriend-boyfriend, we would go see a movie at the theatre on a weekday, or meet for coffee at a coffee shop, or even go to the mall and just people watch. I recommend to shake things up from the regular schedule and revisiting a place you used to go to when y'all were just dating [better yet, don't plan it and just suggest to go spontaneously on a Monday Funday!].

// Make time for date nights (or days)
This has been a challenge for us in the last 16 months because of our energetic spunky baby boy. BUT who says dates have to occur outside of our own home? When baby is asleep for the night, we love to watch movies together, eat dinner alone without chasing the LO around the table, and even just sit and chitter chatter about life and our future. It's so nice to break away from the phones and computers to just be with each other and connect in an intimate way.

// Tell each other I LOVE YOU
My hubs and I have always been A students at this point. Every single phone call, departure for work, and sleep time is capped with an I LOVE YOU and a kiss. It's second nature and just feels bare if it's unsaid. Until the next time we speak again, I want the last thing my hubs to hear that I appreciate him and all he does for me and our family, which is captured in the word LOVE. It makes us feel complete and adored by each other. If it's not a habit in your relationship, try and remember to end your convos with an I LOVE YOU as you would with a goodbye.

When you find the one you love, magic changes your life. You become more selfless, your eyes and ears open up to other perspectives, and you grow alongside each other. I couldn't imagine living this life with another best friend and partner in life other than who I have today.

Have any tips to spruce up the romance?

Monday, January 30, 2017

5 Ways to Manage Your Money

You ever pay a bill, clean your house, do your laundry, and think... wouldn't it be great if this was complete forever? Like once your house is spic and span clean, why can't it be like that for the rest of your life without having to break a sweat to clean it the following week? The same goes for paying bills. You pay utilities, car, mortgage and everything else under the sun monthly... but why can't you pay it once and be good for the rest of your life?

Well I'm here to remind you that life just can't be unicorns and rainbows. We're expected to adult in our lives, taking responsibility for ourselves, our children, our loved ones. A huge part of adulting is managing our money. I learned about managing my money when I first started working. I wasn't great at it, but I did learn a lesson or two that once it was gone, it was GONE... and how I spent every dollar determined a little bit more about my future.

As I got older, I got more strict with myself and spending habits. I thought I would share a few tips that might help you help your future as it did for me:

1. Set a budget for everything
This worked (and still works) for me like a charm! Each month, I allocate a certain amount of money towards things I know I need that month. For instance, I have a category for Food, Cleaning, Beauty Items in which I set a certain dollar amount. I keep track of every cent I spend in every category I have for the month, and if I'm getting close to the budgeted dollar amount, I know I have run out of funds for the month and will have to wait until the following month to purchase whatever it may be. On the flip side, if I don't spend what I allocated for the month, that "leftover" money gets automatically dumped into my savings.

2. Write down what you spend
The good ol' check registry worked wonders for me back in the days... until I got tired of collecting those little booklets. Then I moved onto Excel spreadsheets! I love using spreadsheets instead b/c I can digitize or hand write if I choose to. Going back to point #1, since I set budgets for various categories, I typically categorize my spending by what exactly I purchased. This helps me see where my money is going and what it's being spent on.

3. Check your bank account daily
Since I write down every cent of my spending down, I also cross reference it with what my actual online banking reads. I like to keep track myself instead of solely relying on my bank because who knows if someone charged an automatic payment to your account, or if there is some mysterious fee that is attached to your type of checking. Bottom line is that I like to see what I'm spending and ensure the bank agrees!

4. DO NOT expense it to your credit card if you can't pay it off the following pay cycle
I used to charge it to the card for every little thing back in college. Books, food, parking passes... everything I couldn't or didn't want to spend my paycheck on I would charge! Why not when the minimum payment was so minimal?... or so I thought! Looking back, the amount that I owed credit card companies was MUCH more than what I actually spent because of that wonderful interest fee that gets tackled on each month. Now, I use credit cards, but only for the benefit of cash back, keeping a good credit score, or 0 interest... AND I pay whatever I spent the following month which means it comes right out of my paycheck. Nothing owed for more than a month!

5. Put away for a rainy day
I once read that you should have at least 6 months of your salary saved in case you were to ever lose your job. You wanna make sure your house/rent is taken care of and your bills are being paid while you're looking for another job. And it's always nice to have a stash in case any type of emergency were to arise.

Becoming more and more aggressive with my budgeting has helped my husband and I in so many ways. I just wish I were this determined when I first started working!

How do you keep yourself in check with your money?
 

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