Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Years Resolutions

It's that time of year again. I love The start of a new year, it always gives me focus and clarity and the feeling of having a fresh start is something I treasure. 2014 was a year of emotional highs and lows and it's looking like 2015 will bring with it a whole new set of challenges. Now is a time for me to reflect on the past year and reorganize my priorities for the year ahead. I like to record my resolutions, or as I like to call them "things I want to work on" here in the blog as a way to solidify my goals and hold myself accountable. Whatever comes my way in 2015 I am so incredibly blessed by my amazing support network and so lucky to have a life I love. So here is my list of things to work on for the coming year. I may need to refer back to it often so having it here will make my life a little easier :-)

1. Number one for me this year is to take a little more time for myself. As a wife and mom it is so easy to put everyone else's needs in front of your own. Sometimes I feel like I am working non stop and never get to spend any time on the things I want to do. A lot of this has to do with having two very young kids but I also have an amazing network of people who are more than happy to watch the kids every now and then so I can have a little "me" time. I really want to focus on my mental, physical and spiritual health this year and take time to start a yoga class, read for pleasure, visit with friends, and even just have a little quiet time. I think that by making time for myself I will be an even better wife and mom for my family.

That was the big one, now on to the smaller, more manageable goals.

2. Use the Library more. This is a great resource for both the kids and myself that I totally under utilize. Specifically I want to learn how to check out books for my Kindle.

3. Start Journaling. This is something that gets talked about a lot in the project based home schooling book that I mention so much. Now that Echo is getting old enough to really display certain interests journaling will really help me focus in on what she wants to do so that I can help her explore her areas of interest in more depth. I also want to journal as a way to keep track of both kid's milestones and document my thoughts and feelings. The blog is great for a lot of things but sometimes I want to write down things that are more private and keeping a paper journal will let me do that.

4. Set up Epay and Auto Pay for all my bills. There is really no excuse for mailing paper checks in to pay my bills in this day in age. I have a lot of things set up for auto pay already but I want to get everything done this way.

5. Update framed photos. Poor Clover is massively underrepresented in our framed family photos. Putting up new photos is one of those things I keep putting off that never seems to get done.

6. Hike weekly. Echo has made it abundantly clear that she is an outside kind of gal. I feel like I haven't done as good of a job of giving her outside time as I could have (even though that was a resolution from last year). I think if I pick a day to take her hiking once a week and have it be a standing thing we do I will stick to it better. She is getting old enough to really enjoy exploring nature and there are an abundance of short trails that are just perfect for a two and half year old near by.

7. Eat mindfully. In November of this year I started counting calories using an app on my phone. I wasn't very strict about it but it is a way for me to be mindful of what I am putting in my body and not make myself feel miserable by over eating. I want to continue to be conscious of this in the new year, I really do feel better when I don't go overboard on the junk food.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hand Made Christmas Decorations

Christmas is my favorite holiday of all time. Hooray! It's almost here! Here is our lovely tree, put up on a table to give us more room for presents underneath ;-)

Celebrating Christmas with Echo this year has been so much fun, she is finally old enough to start to get what it's all about. We have been reading Christmas books for months, been to two tree lightings and yesterday we took her to see live reindeer at the nature center.

One tradition that I wanted to start with her this year was making ornaments for the tree. She still doesn't really have the attention span to stick with it very long but she enjoys the idea of it and I'm hoping that next year she can take a more active role.

We did the traditional popcorn garland of course...

And one that was new for me this year, dried citrus slices. This one is so easy and so pretty, plus it made my house smell great! Cut your citrus thin (we used grapefruit and orange slices) and pat with a towel to remove excess moisture. Bake on your ovens lowest setting for 4 hours or until the citrus is completely dry, not sticky. I poked some holes in them with a bamboo skewer and threaded pretty ribbon through and Echo helped me hang them on the tree.

Last but not least, a pretty paper garland made from my mom's scrap booking paper. Echo had zero interest in this one but maybe next year :-)

What are you doing to decorate for the holidays this year? Any good kid friendly ideas?

Giving Up

The above is a picture of our living room from shortly before we got our Christmas tree this year. Before I had kids I never thought I would have such a mess of toys and brightly colored plastic all over my living room, and even as the kid stuff started to pile up I was able to keep it out of this space (the focal point of our whole house) for a long time. At some point I had to give up on it though and this is the result.

I had different ideas about keeping the toys and art materials in the loft or in Echo's bedroom but it never seemed to work out, we would always end up bringing whatever we were doing to the living room. It hit home to me after reading a book on project based homeschooling (and a conversation with Eric) where they talked about the importance of keeping materials in the heart of your home. If you keep materials put away in a distant room no one will use them and then what is the point of having all these great toys, games, books and art supplies?

So I gave up on having the front room of our house be a showpiece an gave in to having kid stuff strewn everywhere and I'm totally ok with it. For one thing this is their house too, why shouldn't they be allowed to have their things where they want them? Also, when I get down about all our kid clutter I just remember that as a unschooling mom my number one job is the kid's education, having materials easily available and being available myself are the most important important things I can do for them. If these means having a messy living room so be it.

Lastly whenever I find a little scene like the one in this picture:

It makes me so unbelievably happy. Echo explained to me that this was her and her sister sailing in a boat with their animals. Joy doesn't even begin to cover what these kids make me feel :-)

Monday, December 8, 2014

December photos

November was a busy month which lead in to an even busier December! I haven't had time to post much or even take pictures of half the things we've been doing but here are some highlights from last month.

Play date with a new friend, Taylor

Visiting the grand parents in Knoxville

Visiting the grand parents in Knoxville

Echo learned to swing on a big kid swing

A very chilly Thanksgiving

Echo in her new coat

Logan was in town for Thanksgiving and his friend Alison joined us.

We celebrated Logan's Birthday and some friends of his stopped by with an amazing home made cake!

The Birthday party

Hanging out on the square

Logan with friends Alison, Tasha and Rob

Our attempt at a family portrait, lol

It was great to see Logan and Echo bond, she loves him!

Our little hiker :-)

Thursday, November 27, 2014


An out take form our Christmas card shoot
Just a quick note on this lovely, cold Thanksgiving day to say how incredibly blessed my life has been and how amazed I am at my good fortune each and every day. I try really hard not to take anything I have for granted and today especially I like to really take time and appreciate the many wonderful people and things in my life.

Fist of all I am so grateful to live in this wonderful country and have a beautiful house that I love with a roof over my head and a warm bed to sleep in. I am thankful that I get to live next to my parents who are a constant source of support and guidance and are some of my very best friends (love you mom and dad!). I'm so happy I get to spend my holiday with them and that my brother can also be with us. Logan is an amazing person who I am honored to call my brother and seeing him for Thanksgiving is beyond wonderful :-)

I'm also incredibly thankful for the family Eric and I have made together. I get to be married to a man who loves me and is an amazing husband and father, sharing our lives together is a great gift. Thank you Eric for making me happy every single day. Most of all I am grateful for our beautiful daughters who have brought so much joy and love in to our lives. They are my everything and have made life better than I ever thought possible.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and I hope you all get to have a great holiday celebrating with friends and family!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Eric's New Laptop Bag

I have really gotten in to making bags over the past year and I finally had the guts to make one without a pattern. Eric got a new Macbook Air for his work and needed a lightweight bag to carry it to and from the office. He gave a me a list of requirements for the bag, it had to be well padded for protection, it needed a long long strap to fit his tall frame, it needed a pocket for the charger, pens, notebooks and what have you, and it needed to be compact and lightweight so it's easy to haul around. I looked for a tutorial for something like this online but couldn't find anything I was happy with so I just came up with this on my own.

I found some beautiful green wool felt at the fabric store and got some cotton plaid to compliment it for the pockets and lining. I basically made two rectangular bags and attached the shorter of the two to the outside for the pockets. I also sewed in some quilt batting to the outside bag for extra padding and with all the layers of thick fabric the laptop is pretty cozy in there. I was a little intimidated because I was using some hardware that I hadn't worked with before but I was able to look at pictures of bags online to figure out how to put it all together and the brown cotton webbing I picked up for the strap is sturdy and attractive. All in all not bad for my first laptop cases and first bag with no pattern :-)

Friday, November 7, 2014

October Photos

 So much happened this October! I feel like we are really making to most of Fall this year and have gotten to do so many things, including Halloween parties, a trip to the beach, several visits to the botanical gardens, and a corn maze!I had so many pictures from this month I had to cut a lot so if you want to see more be sure to check out my shutterfly here :-)

Botanical Gardens, Echo is really in to the kids area now.

Sunday in the park festival at Oakland cemetery 

Sunday in the park festival at Oakland cemetery 

More botanical gardens

Clover's first trip to the beach!

First road trip in the new car was a success! 

Clover holding a clover flower on the beltline trail

Checking out the horses at the corn maze

Echo had her first pony ride and loved it!

Us in our halloween costumes, Wizard of Oz theme

Trick or treating on Halloween, she didn't want to wear her pigtails that day but she brought along her basket and stuffed wolf who she has named Toto