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What I learned in March

March was something of a month of stripping away. When March began, I had high hopes and lofty goals. But, it took us a solid two weeks to not feel like we were perpetually jet-lagged due to the time change– (I know what are we, a bunch of newborn babies??!)

In March I didn’t write like I wanted to, read like I wanted to, get up early like I wanted to, or exercise like I wanted to. Life just happened and kept right on happening. But even in the absence of the rhythms we may hold dear, the days were still quite meaningful and often still very full of wonder.

In March I….

  • was given this piece of fancy footwear and the frustrating, “avoid the cardio for 6 weeks,” from a Doctor who cared very little that I would miss my 1 year anniversary of going from episodic-exercise-girl to can’t-wait-to-get-to-the-gym girl. She’s still in here somewhere, hanging out on the weight machines and counting down the days.
  • learned that I will always love Fairytales, especially Cinderella. We saw Cinderella about a week ago, and I LOVED every minute of it. Having only ever seen the animated version, there were so many elements of this story that came alive for me for the very first time. I appreciate Disney’s care with the story itself and how they told it in such an exquisite way. Go see it!!!!
  • I realized afresh that you absolutely, always need your parents. Something scary happened with one of our family members this week, (they are doing much better now!) and I immediately called my Mom & Dad. They listened as I gave them the emotional details and then I sat on my kitchen floor and listened to them. All at once I was seven years old again and looking for words of comfort. I’ll never outgrow that.

What I’m loving lately–

  • Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush in Fearless.  Okay. This blush is fantastic. Ever since Tiffany mentioned it, I have been wanting to give it a try– and it seriously does stay on that long! Many cosmetic products say 12 hr. or 18 hr. wear but what they mean is, “somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 minutes.” Not this one, it STAYS! And, you only need a tiny bit. And don’t let the “clay” part scare you, it goes on just like regular powder blush, but apparently it is solar-baked or something– I know, so FANCY, right?!!
  • StitchFix. Yes, I drank the Stitchfix kool-aid. IMG_3670I heard so many good things and it was time to test it out. Shopping is really only fun when you actually find what you’re looking for, right?

I am not super-picky, but I don’t enjoy spending all day looking for an item and striking out, especially if that whole time I’ve been trying to entertain kiddos and keep the little darlings from disappearing into multiple clothing racks.

So, I’m trying the online route. I have heard amazing reports from others who have used the Stitchfix service and this month I tried it for the first time! I’ll be honest, my first fix was slightly disappointing, but I did come away with the prettiest textured, grey cardigan and I cannot wait to wear it again!

What’s that? You want to see it? Hmmm… ok, here it is!

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I love how light and airy it is, perfect for all those warm days we are about to have. The quality far exceeded my expectations– even for a cardigan wearing girl like myself. (Sorry for the Squinty-Spring-Sunshine-Eyes)

Sadly, I sent everything else back because it wasn’t right for one reason or another. Okay, so “loving” may be a strong verb. But I have high hopes that this time next month, I’ll be loving it even more. I have heard the more feedback you give, the better your next fix will be. And I certainly did LOVE all the little touches Stitchfix provides. The cost is $20.00 per fix which applies as credit to whatever you buy and free shipping either way! Not to mention the sweet note from my stylist and the style suggestion cards they send. Such FUN.

IMG_3672 If you are at all interested in trying StitchFix, I recommend you give it a shot! You go online and fill out this extensive style profile that really helps them know “who” you are and what you like. Another thing I did was create a style Pinterest board, and then they get the link to it to assist them in knowing what I like. If you DO decide to try Stitchfix, will you consider using my referral code? Click HERE to hop over there! They give credit when we share the Stitchfix love with others. <3 Also, I definitely want to know if you have tried it in the past and what you thought!

Well that about wraps up my March! I’m linking up with Emily over at Chatting at the Sky and Leigh Kramer sharing what we learned and what we are in to! What about you? What did you learn this month?

Check out all my other “What I Learned” posts here.


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Real Moms Need Grace

I am often shocked by how much grace I need. How many new mercies I find myself requiring each and every single morning.

Especially as a mother. Way back when I wore purple yarn ribbons in my pigtails and unicorns on my sneakers, I wanted to be a mom. My mom practically has a Master’s degree in nurturing others. She served us all so well that she often fell asleep at red lights just to catch up on rest. She loved us all and loved us fervently. I saw what it meant to truly sacrifice for another and I wanted to be someone’s mother way back then.

And now, when I look into the little faces looking up at me, I cannot help but wish sometimes that I didn’t mess up so often. But more than I would ever want them to have a perfect mother, I want for them to have a REAL mother. To see that real moms love big and mess up sometimes.

One day, I hope they will be in my shoes– and when they look back as I often do, I pray that they will remember that in this imperfect house, we loved big and forgave much.

As they look at themselves, I pray that they give themselves the GRACE to know that love is risky and people are flawed.

And more than anything that we would want to teach the upturned faces that look up at us and follow close behind us, I pray that they see that REAL moms need grace.

Real moms can be tired and cranky and impatient and oh yeah– sinners in desperate DAILY need of a SAVIOR. 

And maybe just one day in the far off future, they will grow up to be real moms in need of grace too. I pray they grab hold of that grace from God’s own hand every day. That they never lose sight of the fact that grace is more than just something we need when we mess up, but it’s the lifeblood that keeps us daily in His service and always at His feet.

“Grace isn’t about having a second chance; grace is having so many chances that you could never use them throughout all eternity and never come up empty. It’s when you finally realize that the other shoe isn’t going to drop, ever. It’s the moment you feel as precious and handmade as every star, when you feel, finally, at home for the very first time. Grace is when you stop keeping score and when you realize that God never was, that His game is a different one entirely.

–Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet

I’m back linking up with the Five Minute Friday Party Girls today! Check them out over here


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Growth in the Quiet Places, (or why I only need one shoe.)

Confession time: I am a terrible gardener.

That is not to say I don’t love plants and flowers– because I do. I love the idea of having produce and flowers at my fingertips year round– and I love a little trip to Lowe’s garden center as much as anyone… but that is usually as far as it goes. I forget my plants. I neglect to water them. I love them and take photos of them to plaster on Instagram like any mother earth would– and then I completely forget they even exist.

It’s Lorelai Gilmore and Skippy the Hamster all over again.

Until the plants die, and then I’m crushed and I curse the Georgia clay and the beautiful shade-producing trees in our backyard and then my sweet husband reminds me that they lived a half life of being dehydrated most of the time. Oops.

So this year I purposed to be different, starting with the hydrangeas in our front yard. So much so that I pinned thoughts on taking care of them. Quickly learning I needed to “winterize” them by pruning before the buds came in, I marched outside armed with my pruning shears and big fat plans to get them ready for spring. (Spoiler alert, hydrangeas have to be pruned way before winter is nearly over, so if you’re reaching for your own pruning shears– I have to break it to you– we both missed the boat this year.) 

As I approached my brown, spindly dead-looking hydrangeas, I was completely startled to see them bearing new buds. In a yard full of dry, dormant plants, and without any help from me– they were pushing forward to the next thing. These tiny buds of spring were startling to me and I thought about them for several days. Even now, they remind me that not only is Spring coming– and we can’t stop it even if we try.

New growth comes after these seasons of quiet, of rest, of space where it seems nothing is happening for crying out loud. 

And though I know I need rest, I want specific rest. I want rest in my way, in the manner and form that I think I need it. So often I think of rest as something I willingly choose and enjoy with a good book or a pedicure.

But sometimes rest is exactly the opposite of desirable.

Sometimes rest is that which puts us in a place that feels ten steps back.

Two weeks ago, I had the amazing honor of speaking to a group of women on the topic of rest, margin and whitespace. I told them something along the lines of, “Beware of not allowing yourself to rest– God knows you need it, and He just might give it to you.”

And then. Two days later I sat in an Orthopedist’s office as he gave me this:

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Stress Fracture. Hello, six week boot. I am not pleased to meet you.

And I pitched a royal fit. Not in his office because well, I have some decorum.

But after, and I’m somewhat ashamed to say that every day since then I’ve asked the question with all the whine of a petulant child, “REALLY? Why now?” 

Clearly, I don’t mind slowing down on my terms. Every afternoon around 2:30 I slow down with coffee and words. Each night around 10PM I slow down with Wild Orange Oil and a fluffy pillow. But slow down in such a way that makes me miss my favorite form of exercise for six weeks and leaves me hobbling eight steps behind my children like a frustrated female version of Downton Abbey’s John Bates? No, thank you. 

Le Sigh. But there is a purpose to this “rest time” and as much as I come into it kicking and screaming, I certainly do not wish to waste it.

If the budding Hydrangeas have taught me nothing else… I know that the quiet should not be underestimated– for growth is happening under the surface.

And that things happen when we embrace the rest. Embrace the empty-spaces. Embrace the time where it appears nothing is happening. 

And even though this lesson is one I have been learning way back when it was still last year,

I am choosing again, anew, to respect the process and soak it all in. 

 

What process are you soaking in today? Would love your thoughts. <3

 


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Prepping for Easter (and a book review!)

Growing up, my parents were always careful that Jesus and His resurrection were the focus of Easter. Sure, we had chocolate bunnies and new clothes for Sunday– but all of that was a far second to the beauty and hope of Easter. I remember sitting in church on Easter Sunday and staring down at my white lacy socked feet sticking straight out from the red pew and listening to the message filled with Salvation and Truth. Probably while also wondering if I could sneak a bite of bunny ears after church and before lunch. Easter has always been extra special to me, as I actually came to Christ as a result of a Easter Flannel Graph story. My sweet school teacher shared the story with us one morning the week before Easter Sunday. If you don’t know what a Flannel Graph is, I am very sorry to have just dated myself. 

Now as a parent, I face a different challenge when it comes to preparing our family for Easter and it isn’t Easter clothes and Reese’s Eggs. It’s Golf.

Where we live there’s a little sporting event every April, maybe you’ve heard of it– The Masters?

The Master’s is a HUGE honor for our town and we, as a city spend much of the year preparing our homes, lawns and businesses for that one week.

We even commonly rent our house out that week so that adds another element of preparation.

Most years, Easter falls very soon after Masters and therefore, Easter always seems to sneak up on us.

No matter what we plan to do in preparation of our hearts, the last few weeks prior it to find us running ragged and being far from home.

This year in particular, Easter Sunday will be the Sunday before the tournament begins– adding even more crazy!

So what do we do? Well, in a few words, we have to be much more Intentional as we prepare for Easter Sunday.

I am planning early and planning to take our “Easter” with us. That way wherever we are in the days leading up to and after Resurrection Sunday, we can have the tools we need to be purposeful in teaching our children and in preparing our own hearts. I am happy to have a few neat, creative tools to assist us in doing just that.

One thing we love are these Resurrection Eggs! They allow our girls to interact with the story, and the hands on learning is perfect for their age level.

I recently had the opportunity to snag a free copy of The Beginner’s Bible Come Celebrate Easter Sticker and Activity Book by Kelly Pullen to review and I’m so glad I did.

This full-color book has story pages, color by number sheets, over 50 stickers and more activities to further teach the story of Easter. The book takes you step by step from when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem all the way to His ascension. The illustrations are typical of the Beginner’s Bible, colorful and happy. Though the pages are a bit glossy, they are rather thick, making it a great book for coloring. My kindergartener is perfectly content with this book for quite a while. What I love most about the sticker & activity book is that it is exactly on her reading and artistic level and as she enjoys the activities, she’s learning more Bible truth. 

I think this would make an excellent little gift to stick into a child’s Easter basket. It would also be the perfect thing to go ahead and pick up now as we look ahead to next month. There are many sweet spring books available and even a few quality books that focus on the true meaning of Easter, but this is the first interactive book I have seen. Its’ engaging and colorful pages have been poured over frequently in our house lately. Consider picking up one for the littles in your house!

I am appreciative for the opportunity to give my honest opinion of this book, thank you BookLook Blogger Team!

I was given a free copy of The Beginner’s Bible Come Celebrate Easter Sticker and Activity Book in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion. 

*All amazon links are affiliate links. 


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Dear Blue House, or– A Tale of Unrequited House Love.

Dear Blue House,

I first saw your picture as an attachment in an email that Lance sent me at work.

IMG_0833Tiny little photos on a real estate web page were enough to grab my attention. Grey Cape Cod with a long white porch running the length of the house, (Okay YES. we painted you blue within two months– so what?!) The Brady bunch style kitchen and the brown octagonal tile did nothing, nothing to dissuade me from what I saw in that porch. Big cups of coffee in rocking chairs. Reading picture books to a lap full of kids on the porch swing. Long mosquito-less (Yes, I was delusional,) summer suppers under white lights. Those iconic southern moments were all I saw. I looked straight past your retro wet-bar which graced the living room with all the early 80’s panache of MacGyver himself. Those large picture windows flanking the fireplace and shuttling in bright rays of sun caused my temporary blindness and I’m so glad. I saw nothing but everything I’d ever wanted in a house. 

You have kept us warm, (most of the time) dry, (most of the time) and cool, (except that one time last spring and later that same summer and then that one time the year before that— and actually you’re not really so great in the HVAC department now that I’m thinking about it… so maybe you could look into that…just a suggestion…) Never the less, we have celebrated several Christmases here with roaring fires and even snow once or twice, and I’m sure somewhere out in the yard are a few shards of plastic egg from Easters past. You have been the backdrop of our little life here and we mark the years on the calendar and in the slowly chipping paint on the front porch.IMG_0169But LOOK, we have to talk. You seem to have underestimated this family. Yeah, sure you may have gotten the raw end of the deal with two married kids who had only ever been apartment dwellers and weren’t always 100% certain how to light a pilot light. But we know that now. We can light pilot lights like a boss. True, we might have made a few mistakes along the way here and there. We probably should have done that whole kitchen cabinet thing differently, but we learned from it. (I’ll tell ya what we learned, never ever again– that’s what.) Maybe every single time we tried to install anything, it took multiple Lowe’s trips and heaps of patience.

But you’ve been our training ground for home ownership. And we’re getting better at this whole, taking care of a late 70’s fixer upper. Because make no mistake about it, we ARE fixing you up, little by little, so perhaps you could, um- get on board, like NOW.

There have been times that you’ve been a little* more than we bargained for with your drafty, beautiful, single-pane windows and monkey grass galore. I have long since stopped watching HGTV altogether because it just makes me irritable. Nothing ever takes 30 minutes. Except for Fixer-Upper. We still like Fixer-Upper. Love Joanna and Chip. She could whip you into shape in no time flat.

How about you ease up a little bit and not rebel every year at this time, when we start little projects. It’s really not very nice of you when we are just trying to make you pretty– and less problematic.

You should know that we have a little running joke about you, Blue House. We refer to you as that slightly odd, cantankerous family member— You know the one- Uncle Harold. Uncle Harold is always negative and doesn’t like change. He wears thick glasses and brown wool pants pulled clean up to his rib cage even in late july— AND he is always asking for money at family gatherings. That’s you, Blue House, you’re Uncle Harold. Everything is always more complicated when you’re involved, but we love you anyway —so we keep inviting you to Sunday Dinner and painting your walls, little by little.

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Remember when we whitewashed the brick? That wasn’t so bad was it?

So how about this— we promise to keep loving you even when you don’t love us back. Because if we can help it, you are stuck with us.

And we wouldn’t have it any other way. 

P.S. Your dining room paint looks so great!  However, don’t get too attached to that old brass chandelier that blows light bulbs every third Sunday. We’re coming for it next.

Hugs and Paint Brushes (only the good kind, I promise,)– Your People

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**Uncle Harold is a fictitious character. Any resemblance to any persons living or dead, is purely coincidental. 


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Abby’s Sheriff Callie Birthday Party

Our little Abby turned three last week and we celebrated Sheriff Callie- style! For the uninformed, Sheriff Callie’s Wild West is a new show on Disney Junior featuring the town of Nice and Friendly Corners and its fearless leader, a calico kitty named Sheriff Callie. Callie has a deputy named Peck, (Woodpecker) and a sidekick named Toby, who happens to be a Cactus who loves to eat popcorn. (Oh yes, it’s every bit as cute as it sounds.) The little town is full of animal characters with fun personalities and each show teaches a sweet simple lesson.

Sheriff Callie’s Wild West is hands down, Abby’s favorite show, so naturally she chose that as her theme months ago. At the time, I was a little concerned as there wasn’t really a Sheriff Callie section at the party store–( remember the Aristocats Party  we had last year? Same story. ) But this was the MOST fun I have had with a birthday party for the girls. The western theme was easy to do and bonus– I was able to use so many things we already had–which is a big thing for me. I rarely ever buy big things to decorate for a birthday party, but instead go “shopping” around my house. I found a fun printable party pack on Etsy and that with just a couple trips to Hobby Lobby– and we had ourselves a fun little hoedown. And yes, I am enjoying using all of the western colloquialisms. ;)

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I started the party prep by purchasing this printable party package through Birthday Buzzin Prints on Etsy. They were fabulous to work with and I received the printable files within 24 hours. I then sent the pieces I needed to Staples for printing. The banner, pictured below was a bit pricey to print as every letter was a separate sheet on cardstock, but I love the way it turned out! I cut out each letter and then strung the letters with thick jute rope.

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The party pack also came with the adorable cupcake toppers, trail mix favor bag toppers, a Wild West sign, menu cards and then a few more things we did not need. It was so fun having everything coordinate. The month before the party, we spotted the Callie, Peck and Toby stuffed characters at Target and snatched them up right then for Abby’s birthday gift. She was thrilled to have them, and I was thrilled to use them to decorate! They have been a cute addition to our house and they are made really well. I enjoy using stuffed animals to help decorate and carry the theme along when we already have them!

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Tobias P. Cactus is my favorite. He’s so cute!

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When everyone arrived, we directed them to a small table with Sheriff’s Badges and Bandanas. I was surprised that even the little ones enjoyed wearing them, but they did!

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Because Abby’s birthday is in a very cold month, we often have the challenge of where to hold her party. This year, our dining room happened to be mostly empty (since we are getting a new table– hooray!) So I pulled a flowered quilt out of the closet and the kiddos sat on that to eat. It worked out great, and just had to be shaken out after the party. And the quilt looked really cute with the theme. I think I might just do that again in the future! Also, we borrowed a few beautiful stick horses that my friend Beka made and we intended on having races outside, but since it was so cold- the children just galloped them around our house, which was cute too.

For the food we served:

Uncle Bun’s Hot Dogs with Fixings

Prairie Pepper Chili (Not spicy)

Toby’s Popcorn (in a hat!)

Farmer Stinky’s Pasta Salad

Farmer Stinky’s Fresh Berries

Apple Sauce Pouches

Ella Cowbell’s Cactus Juice (Capri Suns)

Sheriff Callie’s Cupcakes with cupcake toppers from Etsy. 

*We also had a “Watering Hole” set up in the kitchen for the adults with Water in a Beverage Dispenser, Tea and Lemonade with, Blue Mason Jars of course– because what else?

Source List:

Chicken Wire Cupcake Stand– we had this already but I believe it came from TJ Maxx.

Cow Print Tablecloth, Pink & Blue Bandanas, Mini Hay Bales, Burlap- Hobby Lobby

Silver Sheriff’s Badges-Amazon

Small Galvanized Buckets- Ikea

Pink Plates and Small Sheriff Callie Characters- Target

Sheriff Callie Party Printables- banner, cupcake toppers, menu cards and signs- Etsy

Other Resources- Disney Junior Printable Callie Coloring Sheets


We had a wonderful time celebrating our little Abby. As much fun as I had planning and hosting, I think she enjoyed it more– which is exactly the whole point!

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Our birthday girl. My mom made Abby a sweet little Sheriff Callie shirt and a cutie brown felt vest– but she didn’t stay still long enough for a good picture!

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Ya’ll come back now, ya hear?

**Any amazon links are affiliate links. All links are for your convenience.


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Finding My #FringeHours

I remember being nine years old and being simply beside myself on school library day. I wondered what new books would be available. I’m sure I pondered my selection all through math class– A new Boxcar Children book? Or Spunky’s Diary again? I loved library day. Not to mention when the scholastic book fair came around annually. Don’t even. That announcement made my little 3rd grade heart beat wildly just like a little Kathleen Kelly.

If there is one thing in our house that we have an abundance of– it is books. When we first moved in here, the massive floor to ceiling bookshelf on one side of the living room immediately called our name. Which is good, since it’s gargantuan and no beast or man alive could lift it. Never the less, these two bibliophiles quickly packed its shelves with all our treasures.
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Still today, the love continues. Last year however, I realized I was always stacking books and never finishing them. Do you find yourself doing that with anything you know you really enjoy? Having all the tools necessary but never really doing it? What is it for you? Crafting? Photo Book Making? Running? Cooking?

It is really easy to slip into the season of “putting off.” That season where you don’t do those things you know you enjoy– the thing that feeds your soul and gives you rest. Life is very busy no matter what stage we are in, and it’s tempting to just stack up those books or virtual albums of photos or running shoes and plan to have more time later. 

But later could be now if we could find those pockets of time, those little bits of minutes where things can happen.

This year I have read five books so far. WOW. That is huge for me, and I don’t say that to show how much time I have– because well, I don’t really. I may stay at home with my girls, but I find that the days and weeks fill up rather quickly no matter what we have planned. We have small group commitments, ministry opportunities at church, I take a spin class three mornings a week at 6am, I review books, I do part-time book editing and virtual assistant work, and I maintain my own blog and spend a good bit of time writing for future projects. And those are just the personal commitments. I also love the time I can spend with our family and friends. All of those things are important to me and so they all have a bit of priority involved. It is easy to let anything I do “for me” slip. The problem with that tends to be that I am prone to be worn out, stretched thin and unable to have much overflow for everyone else if I don’t take time to refresh.

One of the biggest game changers for me has been reading The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica Turner. Jessica’s blog, The Mom Creative was one the very first I began reading more than five years ago and even then I was amazed at “all that she did.” This book does not tell you what you should be doing with your time, but it gives you valuable principles that allow you to decide for yourself. The Fringe Hours is an encouraging and exciting look at the time we already have and it directs us to choose those things that matter and invest in them with our time.

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The Fringe Hours so assisted me in making time for myself that I was able to locate pockets of “lost” time in which I could read and write. If you keep glancing over at a pile of something you really hope you “get to” soon– I would encourage you to grab this book! It comes out in just a few days and if you pre-order The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You on Amazon, it could show up on your doorstep then!

Happy #FringeHours, Friend!!! I’m linking up with Jessica Turner today in celebration of her book’s release and Fringe Friday!

**Amazon links are affiliate links. 

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