Category Archives: family

Good Morning, 2015.

Good morning, new year.

I have a lot on my mind today. Some things are small, some things are larger. But that’s nothing new. I usually have a ton of different things going on inside my head on any given day.

2014 was an interesting year in many ways. Some unexpected things happened for us and also some expected things happened that still threw my mom-heart around in unexpected ways. Imagine that. 😉 But we made it through. (A sincere “Thank you, Lord!”)

Chad and I celebrated 15 years of marriage and we celebrated our 18th Christmas season together. In recent months, we have learned a new way to be married. We realized that we had been doing it all wrong for quite some time due to our weird schedules and we have upped our “marriage game”, so to speak. Because of this, being married feels new again. And I’m ready to take my new realization of being a wife into this new year and beyond. Somehow, getting married so young mixed with being a parent had dulled my thoughts on anyone but myself and taking care of our children on survival mode and now I feel like I’m waking up for the first time. I’m still wrapping my mind around it and it is exciting for our future together!

In all honesty, I’m thankful it’s a new year. The changing of the year on the calendar doesn’t really mean that much in the grand scheme of things, but to someone like me – someone who needs a very clear beginning and an end of something in her vision – it does mean something.

I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type of person, while at the same time I like to loosely have a plan so I can anticipate upcoming happenings. I’m forcing myself to make tiny goals coming up and see where it takes me.

That’s what this coming weekend and next week will be about for me. Loosely planning ahead. Please send up prayers of wisdom for me as I make future career moves and decisions. I abhor failure and it stops me from using my full potential almost every single day. It also halts me from making decisions about life in general. I’m ready to change that even if it means to possibly fail, even if everyone I know is aware of it. That’s okay. I’m learning that.

My full-time child-rearing days are over. It’s time for the next chapter for me. For real this time, friends. Our baby turned 6 years old last night and I kind of wanted to cry. Instead of crying, we celebrated small at home with just the four of us. It was a party, I tell ya. 😉

So, here’s to the old friends that we take into the new, old times past that we’ll remember fondly and the new times ahead that can prove to make us better people this year.

For auld lang syne…it was all worth it.

xoxo, Amanda



minted // what i found

{source: minted}

Hello Friends!

I am in love with this season of festivities and giving and joy and life! Even if it does fall in the winter, my least loved season. 😉 Aaaaand, one of my favorite seasonal topics is this: I want to talk Christmas greetings/cards today. 

I began doing Christmas cards to send all of my friends way back in high school. I loved snail mail (which back then was just called “mail”, um, hello) and I was obsessed with paper and stamps and handwriting, etc.

Then I got married and I will never forget the first photo-type Christmas greeting that I ever sent out from Chad and myself. It was a corny, funny heavily-photoshopped photo of us layered over some fake cactus in the background with some photoshopped santa hats on our heads. We sent those babies out like it was the best thing we had ever seen. (If I can find a copy of it, I will post it here, because it is pretty epic.) We mainly sent that out because we had just moved across country that summer from Tennessee to Arizona, hence the funny cactus background, and didn’t know a soul. That was in 2001 and I have been crazy for funny or beautiful Christmas greeting ever since, but the times and designs have definitely classed it up a notch.

We skipped the years that we had winter babies because we chose to just send out announcements those years, and the last two years we have sent nothing because we honestly couldn’t find a photo-card-quality family photo in time and didn’t have time to have one taken. So, I just said oh well as much as it pained me to do so.

I love cards, mail, and photos so I wanted to share with you some beautiful designs I have found through a company called Minted. There designs are gorgeous! Every year it gets even better and they add more and more designers and styles. A great variety for every style and they really know how to work with you.

Here are some of my favorite designs that I wish I was using (we shall see if I can come up with a photo) because there is still time to send them out! 😉

Cozy Snow Holiday Photo Card (same as shown above) by designer, Ashley Hegarty:

I love how sweet and simplistic this one is. Because it really highlights the photo you choose and the backs of these have great options, as well. PLUS, hello….free addressing of the envelopes?! Yes, please!

Gorgeous, right?

Next I found this one. Watercolor Noel Holiday Photo Card by designer, Annie Mertlich:

This one just makes me happy. :) The artwork is happy, natural, and the colors are really great. Watercolor is just a great relaxed feel anyway.

Examples of the back of the card choices….

And you always need a little gold at the holidays. Don’t argue. Just do it. 😉 Going with the same idea of the watercolor again, this time with a banner and real gold foil-press on it. Hello, glam! I give you the Watercolor Bunting Foil-Pressed Holiday Card by Wind-Up Key Press.

Check out that shine! I’m in love with this one. And because of that, you must see a close-up. Seriously….

Beautiful, classic, a bit of glam, but still understated and not stuffy. Great for the modern family! :)

One last one for you, or I could post these all day. For real. Check this out – this one is too cute and fun and fresh AND it appeals to me because we have not sent out Christmas cards once since we have lived in our current home. Also, because we moved in here the week after Thanksgiving 2 years ago and it was nuts. This card reminds me of that time and I wish this option had been out there because it would have been a perfect moving/holiday card all in one. This cutie is called the Mod Move Holiday Photo Card by designer, Kristen Smith. ADORABLE!

And here is a great shot of it all assembled with front, backing, and envelope with the coordinating liner and address wrap tag. So fresh (and so clean, clean.) I would want to just hang this up in my house for a little piece of artwork every year if someone sent me one of these!

I hope you see something here that you like. If not, there are TONS of designs that are just amazing. I tried to choose a variety of my favorites, but there are even more styles that might fit YOU and your family more appropriately. Go take a peek at Minted. You will not be sorry.

I also love that you can upload one of your own family photos into the website and it will show you what each card will look like with that photo. It’s a no-brainer, really. They have truly taken the difficulty out of ordering holiday cards.

Speaking of “holiday” cards? Every card I looked at had the option of changing the wording from a Holiday saying, a Christmas saying, or a New Year’s saying. Pretty sweet if you ask me.

If you place an order before midnight on the 8th (that’s Monday, friends) then you can receive 15% off your order with code SNOW15FS. PLUS FREE SHIPPING. Did you read that? FREE SHIPPING and a discount code. Yes. Click over quickly and then come back and tell me what you ordered. 😉 Maybe even send me a holiday card. Maybe? Ok, maybe that was taking it a bit far. (But I do love mail. hint hint.)

As for the business side, I know that I’m supposed to let you know that I am receiving compensation for writing this post in partnership with Minted, but let’s get real – I’ve been perusing their site for the last couple of years and their designs always blow me away. I have been already peeking through their designs for this year before I was ever approached. So there you have it. I wanted to share them with my pals, too! Also, all of these photos were taken from the Minted site with permission for this post.

Happy Holiday/Christmas/New Year’s card shopping!

xoxo, Amanda


A New Direction

Yesterday morning, I received an email that kind of sucked the wind out of my sails over my plans for the upcoming school year. I thought I was an easy contender for a job that would be perfect with my schedule with the kids and I was pretty excited about it all.

It ends up that I never even got the chance to apply!  Talk about a way to start off a glorious summer Sunday! (You do hint my sarcasm there, right?)

It put me in a bad mood all day, much to the frustration of my husband and my sweet kiddos. I feel like I’m back at square one trying to figure out what I will do part-time, in addition to my design ideas, but this morning I have had some breathing room and time to think. I’m sitting here in my dining room, staring out my back window, just contemplating the future. Kids are quiet with a friend over all day, so thankfully….I have had some quiet time today to regroup.

I’m enjoying the leftover dying flowers from Maggie’s party….

And I’m thinking on this:

(above image from Raechel Myers IG feed from She Reads Truth)

And I’m realizing (or more likely REMEMBERING) that this whole life thing is not about what I want or how this is supposed to go in my mind. It’s about how it’s supposed to go in the way that’s best for everyone possibly involved. God’s plan is greater.

For a long time now, I have wanted to do something that was helpful in some way or glorifying to God in some way and I keep waiting to see what that is. Yes, I know that raising my babies as my sole job for the last 8 years has been glorifying to God. But now it’s time that I ventured out from the home and I want to see where I can be used. It’s difficult to wait and see what happens, especially when you see it happening all around you. I have lots of interests and ideas of things that I could do to bless others, but I also have to remember that I need to be working to be a secondary supporter to my family’s income now. What job takes those two things hand in hand for me right now? I’m not totally sure yet. I feel that I’m on the brink of knowing and I have a couple of ideas up my sleeve of how to further push this to see where it all goes.

For now, I’ll look upon my dying flowers, enjoying the last couple of days of their color. I’ll enjoy my hot summer days with my babes, I’ll keep reading and learning and searching and forging new friendships. And most importantly, praying over it all.

Please pray with me.

And for me.

And if you have a prayer request you would like to share, please do.

On another subject – I hope to have Magdalen’s birthday party pictures up this week. My friend, Sarah, took them but I forgot to download them from her camera before she left the next day! Aaagghh! My fault, so hopefully I’ll get them somehow to share this week! Happy Monday, friends!

Perfect Moment (in a not-so-perfect day)

I just came downstairs after unlocking my sleeping baby boy’s arms from around my neck, and quietly tip-toeing out of his room and slowly closing his door.

I didn’t want to unlock his arms. I wanted to lay right beside him for hours into the night.

You see, our day started out horribly.

Both kids are getting over a feverish/coughing/sneezing sickness, and last night was no exception. I thought I was going to bed early last night at 11pm and was excited about the idea of feeling rested when the morning came.

I was wrong.

Maddox was up between 2:30-3:30am with a bad dream, needing a bathroom break, and me realizing that he needed more cough medicine. He was also delirious and seeing things in his room. That’s alway fun. Needless to say, I was exhausted when the chaos of the day woke me up at 7am. (And that was a lot of sleep for me.)

I woke up tired. Grouchy. Snippy. Headache-y. Or the other 4 words: A Very Bad Mood.

Maggie was extra loud (the child has the vocals of an opera singer….no lie), Maddox was extra whiny (I know, I know….he’s sick), Chad was leaving early, and I was not ready for the day yet.

I’m embarrassed as I look back over the day. I had no patience for anything they did. There was screaming, yelling, anger, tears…..and the embarrassing part was that it wasn’t the kids.

It was me. :(

And I’m sad about it. That’s not the mom I normally am and it’s definitely not the mom I want to be. I need a break like you wouldn’t believe, but it’s no excuse. They are babies and I am their teacher.

How can I be angry at these children? Look at these faces! They are precious, even when they are disobeying every word out of my mouth and fighting over a toy at every turn.

I have to sit back and rethink my direction when this happens. Yes, I literally sit there and think of what I can do to diffuse my frustration and then act on it as fast as possible. Today I finally got it under control (by doing an impromptu photo shoot with them – these are the outtakes) and we had a pleasant evening together. (Thank you, God, for answering that repeated prayer.)

So as I lay there next to my first baby tonight (who is 4.5, mind you), with his little hands clasped and tangled in the hair at the back of my neck and his precious cheek resting on my forehead as he softly snores, I feel my tears start. Not tears of sadness, but because of the thought that the roots of our love are so deep. We can all have an occasional bad day with our babies, but it’s what we plant in their hearts that will remain. And then there are tears for the amazing forgiveness he has for me, his innocence, his faith in me that my love is continuous. I pray that he and Maggie won’t remember the horrible parts of today. And I don’t think they will. I don’t remember the bad days with my parents. I remember the loving moments more than anything!

Before Maddox fell asleep, I said “Let’s talk to Jesus and then you need to go to sleep.” He just squeezed my neck tight and whispered, “No….not yet.” So I waited. We spoke to Jesus together, but I waited there with him. We both needed that time, and I’m so glad I took it instead of being in a rush to go clean the kitchen and the rest of the day’s tornado.

A perfect stolen moment….just me and my babe.

Piece Of My Heart

It’s amazing how many things people can deal with and go through and still keep a smiling face for others to see. It makes me wonder what goes on behind closed doors.

I have a story like that.
About me.
And Chad, of course, but this is my perspective and how my eyes saw it and how I dealt with it.

I’ve never written this story down. I’ve never even told anyone in detail how it felt and what I did to get through that day. Because that’s how I am. If you don’t say or write it out loud, it’s somehow less real.

So here goes….

March 19, 2008.
A day I will never forget.
Two years ago today, I lost a baby.
And I hid it from everyone I saw that day, except for Chad.

Just typing those words makes me cry again. Because now the memories of that day come flooding back. And the horror. And the helplessness. And the defeat. And the stress of remaining “normal”.

But let me back up a little and tell you more.

The month after Maddox turned 1 year old, Chad and I started trying for another baby. It had taken me no time at all to get pregnant with Maddox, so when 3 months had gone by and I was still not pregnant this second time, I saw my doctor. He said, Don’t worry! Be patient.

Well, okay. Three months is not long. And then, 6 months came along and I saw a new doctor. (This doctor, I love! So sincere, encouraging, and understanding.) He agreed with me that I was dealing with secondary infertility and told me my options.

Since I was starting to panic inside (and obsess daily) about this, I decided to start on fertility drugs. He put me on Clomid to make my body work properly and I thought….Ok, here we go!

Months went by and with each passing day I became more obsessed with reading about it, looking at the Clomid message boards on a baby site, and wondering what else I could do to up our chances. If you haven’t dealt with this, then you will not believe the money that goes into this obsession. The pills, the ovulation predictor kits, the pregnancy tests (because you have to know NOW if it worked), etc.

I had told only 1 or 2 people that we were trying for another child. Neither of these people were family. I only told people who had no connection with my family or friends back home because I didn’t want that pressure and wondering going on.

So, imagine my excitement, elation, giddiness, and thankfulness when finally, TWELVE MONTHS later, I found out I was pregnant!! I don’t remember the day, but it was in March and we had just had a tragedy in our family and I was so excited that this happy news might overshadow that a little bit.

The morning of March 19th, I woke up and was all packed to go out of town. Maddox and I were going to visit my mother and some other friends for a long weekend. And most exciting of all for me, I was going to the Hotel Cafe Tour 2008 concert in Atlanta that night. Mom was babysitting for that. :)

Chad was about to leave for work, I was showering before we left, and Maddox was just waiting. And that’s when it started happening. 
I got out of the shower. Shaking. I yelled for Chad and told him what was happening. And we just sort of looked at each other with these expressions like “Oh no.”
I knew I couldn’t lose my mind because I needed to just leave. I wasn’t changing my plans. And I tried to tell myself that it wasn’t real.
But I knew. 
And more importantly, I knew I had to be a mommy for the perfect little man THAT I ALREADY HAD. I kept looking at Maddox thinking – Remember, you have a child. You HAVE a child. Remember this. Keep it together. Be thankful.
I told Chad to go on to work and he did. There was nothing we could do. 
I started to drive out of town and just kept thinking about what was happening right then. And it made me sick to my stomach.

My nurse called and the sweet lady told me that she was terribly sorry, but I was miscarrying and there was nothing I could do. I asked her….what do I do now? She said, well you’re early enough that you can try again this month. If you want.

I was not going to give up.

I had to get past this somehow, so she called in a new prescription for another round of Clomid so I would be ready the next time. Yuck. Another. round. of. Clomid. (If you’ve never taken it, then you don’t know how awful the side effects can be.)

I got to my mom’s house a few hours later and must have put on a good show, because not one person asked me if I was okay. I was totally pulled together, but inside my heart was breaking. 
I dropped Maddox with her, picked up my sister-in-law, Becky, and we headed to that concert.

Thank God for beautiful music and a place to get lost in it. 

There at Center Stage, Atlanta, was where I focused on the music, the moment, and the overwhelming thoughts in my head. 
Becky was exhausted from working at the hospital all day, so she was just happy to sit and rest her feet in a seat near the front. I’m so thankful for that also. I needed that concert alone that day. 
I walked up front and was about 3 feet from the stage. 
The music was beautiful. 
It was meaningful.
They made me laugh. 
The songs made me think of my love for Chad and Maddox and how I was so lucky.  
Even though this horrible thing was happening to me. Right there. 
It was a healing experience for me. I can’t quite describe it. Too many emotions were swarming my mind, but music can help patch your broken heart. Even when a little piece is missing.

I stood there for 2 hours absorbing those sounds, choking back my sobs….but it was okay. I was alone in a sea of people and was able to really feel that moment. 

I recently found these videos on Youtube of the exact concert I was at that night. I watched them and whoa…that feeling in my gut came rolling back in and I remembered. It was hard. But I really wanted to share some of these amazing songs. Except for Keep Breathing & Sky, these videos are from that night. You can click on each song title to listen. These lyrics & melodies mean so much to me.

When you are looking at the stage, I was standing just to the right of Joshua when he was singing with Ingrid. I think there were 3 people in front of me. It was amazing.

Every time I hear each of these songs, I specifically think of what I was going through that day.

And that’s okay. Remembering is good. :)

Lovely Tonight – Joshua Radin featuring Ingrid Michaelson

Closer – Joshua Radin

Super nice guy (Joshua Radin) with me and Becky.

I know this was long and I could share so much more from that day, but I won’t. At least for now. It just felt good to share this today.

Room Tour: Sweet Woodlands Nursery

Here it is. What (some of) you have been waiting for. Well, at least a peek.

In the past year and a half, many of you have personally asked me to send you pictures of our newest home. And I think that those of you who asked have either finally visited us here or have given up asking for pictures. I’m so sorry it has taken me so long.

I hesitated to post pictures of our new home for this reason. It seems sort of like “showing off” what you have. But as I look at other sites and blogs and personal friends’ pictures of their homes, I realize that it doesn’t have to seem like that! I genuinely enjoy seeing where other people live and how they decorate. I realize not everyone cares, but it’s something I’m interested in. So now I will share a little snippet for starters.

Also, I AM proud of Chad and what he has worked hard to provide for me and the kids. And I truly, deep, deep down, feel that God has blessed us with the life that we have. We have lived in our dream home (for us) for a year and a half now….here’s a peek. :)

My first room tour will be: Magdalen’s Sweet Woodlands Nursery

And, oh, how special this room is to me.

And it always will be.

If you have a child, then you know that the first room you had for your baby will always be special in your heart. It’s where you learn who your child is, what their cries sound like, maybe their first giggle on the changing table, watch them play on the rug, and where you will quickly wear in that rocking chair with thousands of minutes rocking, back and forth.

This is the room where I nursed my baby for the majority of a year, where I held her when she had night terrors, where I would rock her in my arms as we both cried, where her sweet Brother would lay his head on the rocking chair arm to love on her little head, and where I would go to just sit and enjoy the calm of holding her sweaty, sleeping body to mine.

All the things that we went through to have this child in our arms *almost* vanished from memory when we brought her home to this room. {That will be a post for another day soon.}

And here is a glimpse of what will be engraved in my memory when I always think of my sweet girl as a baby.

Butterfly mobile (Pottery Barn Kids) – baby gift from Mom
Bedding from the Brooke Collection at Pottery Barn Kids – baby gift from my Mom
Lambie from Serena & Lily – from me for her 1st birthday
Crocheted blanket from my Senior English teacher, Miss Conerly 
(She sleeps with both of these items every. single. night.)
Butterflies (PBK) – from Grandma Marlene
Changing table, free from a friend
Green storage totes from PBK
Lamp from Target
Wooden handpainted frame – from my friend, Ashley B.
Random frames from Hobby Lobby 
(Magdalen rips the picture out, so I’ll just leave it until she’s older.)
Lamp from Target (pretty cheesy and not my style, but I couldn’t help myself with the double layer shade and the owls!)
Piggy bank was mine as a child

Our reading/snuggling corner. :)
Hot pink rocker from Once Upon A Child
Bird pillow from Walmart (who knew?)
Owl pillow, quilt, & rug from the Brooke collection (PBK) – from Mom
Dollhouse bookshelf from Target
Monogrammed bag holding her first soft (fabric) tea set (PBK) – from Dad & Donna
Fabric cupcake set (PBK) – from me
Fabric birdhouse w/ 3 little birds (PBK) from Magdalen’s Aunt Heather  – this is one of her favorite toys!
This Little Piggy Went To Prada book from Aunt Heather
Fabric 3 layer cake on the right (PBK) – from Mom
Soft dollhouse with accessories/people inside (PBK) – gift from Mom
Fabric chicken & chicks (PBK) – from us
Felt storage house (PBK) – from us
So, now that I’ve gone through the list of the things that make this room so special, I see that I should be a walking talking advertisement for Pottery Barn Kids. Sheesh. I don’t usually like matchy-matchy rooms, but when you’re hugely pregnant & taking care of a 2.5 year old all day, you just pick what you love and roll with it. :) 
I also was very against a pink room. I can (obviously) handle punches of pink, but no way was I going to force it on her. We went with the palest, most feminine blue I could find and I’m in love with the color. I wish I could portray to you how calming this room is because of that. And bright! I have to have bright rooms or I will go insane. (Ask Chad, because he’s the EXACT OPPOSITE.) 
Anyway, I’m happy with it. Magdalen is happy with it. And most importantly of all, she has a bed. She has a home. She has many loving arms that have held her. I really couldn’t ask for more for her little life right now. 
Our precious, Magdalen, at 4 months old while I was taking her picture for her announcements. Better late than never, right? I miss those chubby rolls and squishy cheeks!!

Here is that sweet boy I talk so much about. Our Maddox. He is the absolute sweetest big brother that I have ever seen in all my life. He loves her so much it truly amazes me. I love pictures like this where they are just snuggling or happy to be together. If my heart could, it would be singing a joyful song!

So there you have it. A look into our home and the smallest bedroom in the house, where our baby girl lays her perfect little head each night. :)

(P.S. My friend, Cindy, told me a few weeks ago that she dreamed that I lived in a huge, huge house. I laughed out loud. And so did my mother. I’m not sure why she pictured that, but now she’ll see that we are normal house people.  Haha!)

{a few of the 75 photos I got of him during Maggie’s nap today}

{I taught him how to play hopscotch when we moved here and I was 7 mos. pregnant with Maggie – I’m sure our neighbors thought that was a funny site. I had to literally hold my stomach with 2 hands to play. Ha!}
{he and I got a belly laugh out of the jumping series}
{one of his favorites for some reason}
{I love this boy.}
{Canon EOS XS: 80mm lens}

and….she’s off!

{first time exploring our backyard on two feet – she’s on the go now! and the sweetest, most loving big brother that she could ever have asked for. always there to help her, especially today! it got me all teary eyed when I imagined them in about 15 years. he loves her more than I can tell you.}
{canon eos xs: 80mm lens}