'Tis the Season...

....to be insanely busy. Is anyone else completely and totally SWAMPED right now? I have several posts sitting in my drafts that I really just don't have time to sit down and work on right now. I feel like every year around the holidays things get just a little crazier than the year before, and I'm a little bit less prepared and on top of things...I'm sure that trend will continue as my kids grow and have a million more activities that they're involved in. So looking forward to that.

The last week was so crazy it's all a bit of a blur, but there was baking, and holiday parties, and a movie premiere, and more holiday parties, and Christmas shopping, and on and on and on. So needless to say, that's the explanation for the silence around here. I've discovered that the bloggers who schedule out their December posts know what they're doing. It's seriously impossible to find the time to sit down and write.

The only reason this is getting done is because Grayson decided to wake up at the crack of dawn this morning, and I'm currently writing while he's eating his blueberries and waffles. I should have approximately 10 minutes to do whatever I need to do.

Anyway, I'm crossing my fingers I get the time to catch up on a few posts I was planning, but I'm not making any promises. If I don' get back here anytime soon, happy holidays? Seems a little early, but I'm just trying to cover all my bases :)


Because Grayson was born screaming his head off, and then he didn't really stop for like, two months, I've often felt like I had the "scary" or "bad" baby that people dread. But since I am all wrapped up in mama love and I feel as if he's a perfect angel, I couldn't ever really say that he was anything other than amazing. But I mean....anyone that spent any time with us in the early days knew he was a bit of a challenge. I decided rather than saying that he was colicky, which I think is what people say about "his type" usually, or that he was a difficult baby, I would say that he was passionate. I've been calling him passionate since he was just a few weeks old, and I don't know if it was one of those self-fulfilling prophecy kind of things or what, but good lordy lord, that child is nothing if not passionate.

It's funny, because the things that drive you crazy in others are often qualities that you yourself have, and I have to say...he comes by it honestly. I am passionate, no doubt about it, and it can be both a blessing and a curse. I think if your passion is embraced and understood, it can be a beautiful thing. It can lead to great success, it can draw people to you, it can give you that spark that other people wish they had. But at the same time, it can distract you if you let it, because it's easy to feel passionate about multiple things - speaking from experience here.
When I think of my passionate baby, who's turned into my passionate toddler, I wonder what he'll be like in a few years, in 10 years, as an adult. I hope he embraces that passion that he feels and makes something amazing happen with his life. I hope that I can teach him to use it for the gift that it is. I hope that we raise him to be passionate about the right things, to embrace whatever it is that really pulls at him, and to never give up if he really wants something.

Over the last 30 years I've learned a lot about living with the passionate streak that I have. I've learned that not everyone understands why I feel so strongly about things. I've learned that this passion also tends to lead to a quick temper, and that is a struggle I still deal with. I've learned that it's important to focus, to choose something to pursue, because it's so easy to feel passionate about every aspect of your life. It's my hope that I can pass these lessons on to Grayson, and any other future passionate babies that I may have, and that they won't have to learn it all the hard way.

What about you? What are you passionate about? Do you have one "great love" of a passion that you pursue endlessly, or are you more like me, and you tend to feel all the feels about every thing that goes on in your life?

10 Healthy Snack Ideas for Your Toddler

If your child has reached toddler age, you know how important snacks are. I'm pretty sure Grayson snacks about 75% of his waking hours. He's constantly running to the pantry and pulling things out. It is unreal how much that tiny human can eat.

So I've learned that I need to be prepared at all times with lots of healthy things for him to chomp on, so I don't resort to just handing out Annie's Bunnies (aka organic goldfish crackers) all day long. Although I won't lie, that kid eats a lot bunnies.

If you're just entering the toddler phase, or are simply running out of ideas, I thought I would share my favorite snack options that I usually have on hand. Not all of them are totally and completely healthy, although we do try! 
1. Yogurt 
We really love Stonyfield Organic yogurt, and that's pretty much all we buy. Grayson's a big fan of the pouches, but he likes to dump those out sometimes (of course). So occasionally I'll put some in a sippy cup with some milk mixed in, or sometimes I'll put a little bit in a bowl for him and let him dip his cheerios or waffles or fruit. Right now we only buy the Yo-Baby or Yo-Tot versions, because it's made with whole milk, which is recommended for littles.

2. Applesauce Pouches
This is a snack that wasn't a big hit at first, but I recently found some organic applesauce pouches at Target, and he really seems to dig them. Obviously we want him getting plenty of fruit, so this is a great way to get it done. I think part of the draw in this snack is the fact that he gets to feed it to himself, which is obviously huge with an independent little tot.

3. Cheese Slices and Turkey
Cheese slices are a big hit around our house. We've tried cheese sticks and cubes and every other variety available, but his favorite seems to be the American cheese slices (our faves are Horizon Organic). I typically give him one slice of cheese with a slice or two of turkey from the deli. I realize deli meat isn't the healthiest option, but I convince myself it's OK because he's getting lots of good protein this way.

4. Grape or Cherry Tomatoes and Cheese
Another common pairing with our cheese slices are grape or cherry tomatoes. So far he's not showing a preference of one over the other, so I go with whatever I happen to find first at the store. One big suggestion: be sure to cut these up. If your child is anything like mine they love to swallow things whole, and these little tomatoes are the perfect size and shape to choke on.

5. Cottage Cheese
I know this is a strange one, but in my household cottage cheese is about the best snack a kid could have. He absolutely loves it, and I'm not arguing. There are several organic options out there, and it's a great source of protein and calcium. I've never been a cottage cheese fan myself, but I tried it when I saw how much he loved it, and it's surprisingly pretty tasty. Definitely worth a shot!

6. Smoothies
I can't take much credit here. Smoothies are a Grayson and Nana thing. But I absolutely encourage it! Nana makes them with almond milk, frozen fruit, and kale, and Grayson laps this stuff up like it's the best thing he's ever had. The great thing about smoothies is that you can slip all kinds of stuff in there and they will never realize it. Such a great way to get in fruits and veggies for picky eaters, because I don't know too many kids who will turn down a smoothie.

7. Edamame
This idea came out of a bare fridge and a very hungry child. We'd let him try edamame before when we'd been out for sushi, and he seemed to like it, so I decided to give it a try. Of course I got the beans out of the shell, and he ate them faster than I could hand them over. Huge hit! Edamame is a great source of protein, iron, and calcium, so it's a winner in my book! Plus, mama likes to snack right along with him on this one.

8. Frozen Fruit
Grayson loves his veggies, but isn't a fan of fruit. He's a strange one, I tell ya. I'd tried basically every fruit, and he would just spit it right back out. Thankfully, we finally figured out the trick, and that is to make his fruit of the frozen variety. Blueberries and strawberries are his favorites, and he's even been known to snack on a frozen pineapple now and again. I usually give him a little cup with a variety of things, and he goes at it.

9. Organic Fruit Bars
I try to stay away from packaged stuff for snacks when we're at home (except for those dang bunnies that he can't get enough of), but when you're on the go, nothing's better than a little fruit or granola bar. Target (or anyplace, I'm sure) has tons of options, and there are usually a handful of organic choices, too. We go with Ella's Kitchen Nibbly Fingers most of the time, but we've tried several others and have never found one that he refuses to eat. I make sure the diaper bag is stocked with several of these at all times.

10. Anything and Dip
I don't know about you, but my toddler looooves to dip his food in things. I've figured out that he will eat just about anything if I give him something to dip it in. This is a great way to get him to eat fruits and veggies when he's being stubborn, and I've also given him little organic animal crackers, cheese sticks, and tortilla chips. For dip, I usually go with yogurt for sweet stuff, and guacamole, hummus, sour cream, cottage cheese, or really anything else on hand that could sub as a "dip" in his eyes. It's also a great way to keep him busy for 10 minutes so I have time to load the dishwasher!

So, now you tell me - What's your toddler's favorite snack? I'm always looking for new things to try, and luckily I have a child that will eat just about anything, so it's fun to experiment!

Holiday Photos 2014

So I've been begging and begging and begging the husband "Can we please pretty please have our photos done for holiday cards? Please?!" for what seems like months now. And every single time he says nope. His reasoning is that he bought me a fancy camera for Mother's Day and I should use that. I mean, I don't have a tripod and my pictures never turn out great, but sure...I could make that happen, right?

I tried every trick in the book. I said we haven't had photos taken since Grayson turned one, he's changing so much, don't you want to remember him this way? I said this may be our last photo session with just the three of us if I get pregnant sometime soon, we need to capture the moment! I said our holiday cards will be terrible, it will be embarrassing after how cute they were last year! Needless to say, he didn't care about any of that...

I finally realized that I just needed give up and start practicing my photog skills on my own. Then one day, A texted me and told me to check my email. When I did, I found an email confirming our holiday photo session with our favorite photographer. Do I have the best husband EVER or what??

The day of the shoot it was literally like 30-something degrees and SO WINDY and lightly misting outside. Grayson has never been in cold weather, at least not for more than like five minutes last year when he was too young to realize it. So he was not a happy camper. He also decided that he absolutely positively did NOT want me to put him down, so we didn't get one single photo of him by himself. This was a mini-session, so it was over in like 15 minutes, so he didn't have to tolerate the cold for too long. And we actually got some amazing photos that I really love.

If you are in the DFW area and ever need a photographer, Fairy Tale Photography is the way to go, I'm telling you. Laura has done practically every photo session we've ever done since we've been together: engagement, wedding, pregnancy, Grayson's six month, Grayson's one year (did I never post those?!), and now this. We love her, and we love the photos every. single. time.

I think it was definitely worth all the effort I put into convincing him that it was worth it. We got some great photos and now our holiday cards won't be sad :)

When Life is Sad

There's a common theme in the Facebook/Instagram/Blogging world - everyone and everything looks beautiful and perfect all the time. But I'm pretty sure we all know that that isn't the case. In my life, things are beautiful and perfect in a very flawed way a good portion of the time. But I like to be real, and to share when things get messy. And for me, lately things have been just a little bit sad.

First of all, on the most shallow note ever, I have gained all the weight back that I lost from breastfeeding, and I'm exactly where I was when I got pregnant last time - which is the heaviest I've ever been, aside from during pregnancy. Any woman out there knows that this is enough to give you the blahs for days on end. I know I need to do something about it, especially since I just turned 30 and apparently your metabolism takes a nosedive at that point, buuuuuut...I just keep thinking, do I really want to put in a ton of effort to lose 10 pounds, and then get pregnant?

Which brings me to my second issue. I'm right at the point where thoughts of a second baby are popping up here and there. Part of me is super excited to jump in and have another precious little bebe in my world, but there's another part that feels a little sad about it. Only because I'm so obsessed and in love with Grayson that it scares me a little to think of losing the relationship that we have. I don't want to have to share my time and my love and my devotion, even though as an only child I am fully aware that a sibling is the greatest gift I could ever give him. I know I'll love another baby just as much, but in my emotional brain it's just too much to handle sometimes.

Aaaaand.....Addie Jane. My precious, insane, sweet little "first-born" baby. This is the most heartbreaking thing of all in my world right now. Addie is a peculiar little dog. She's a shelter pup, and we don't know what type of life she had before she came to us because she was just found wandering the streets. But she's got a lot of issues. She's extremely aggressive when it comes to food, she doesn't seem to like any other female dogs, she definitely needs to be the "alpha" dog in all situations, she has issues with men, she has issues with being groomed...and she absolutely, positively can't stand Grayson.

This is probably partially my fault. She was incredibly spoiled before he came around. She was my first baby, and I treated her that way. I doted on her, gave her so much attention and love, cuddled her constantly, took her on long walks, played with her whenever she wanted...and even though he might deny it now, A really loved her and gave her a lot of sweet attention, too. Once Grayson entered the picture, the thing that I swore would NEVER happen did, and she just wasn't my first priority anymore. Obviously I still adore her and dote on her when I can, and play with her when I can, and take her on long walks and love on her when I can...but those times aren't near what they used to be.

I remember one night after Grayson came home from the hospital, maybe four or five days after he was home with us. I had nursed him to sleep and laid him in between A and I in bed, right where Addie had always slept. She hopped in bed and started to go to her spot, then saw Grayson and slowly went down by my feet and curled up. She just knew that it wasn't her spot anymore. I crawled down by her and just cried and cried and cried while I held her, because I knew it would never be the same and it absolutely broke my heart for both of us. But especially for my poor little abandoned shelter dog.

She's smart. She knew things were different, and she knew why. And I'm pretty sure since that first week she's resented Grayson. She just watches him very skeptically, and stays out of the way. It was okay when he was just a baby, but since he's been up and moving she has grown more and more irritated. He's obsessed with her, and chases her around all day, calling her name, grabbing her, trying to hug her, throwing toys at her to try to get her to play. We try to keep him away, but for anyone that has ever had a toddler, you know that's impossible. And she's just so sad. She drags her tail, she lays on the back of the couch, and she just looks like all the joy in her world is gone.

It got to the point that we knew she couldn't be here anymore. She and Grayson just can't be in the same house. She's miserable, we're all nervous, and he just can't keep his hands off of her. Right now, she's staying with my dad, until we can figure out what to do. Every time I think of actually giving her to a new family it causes a near panic attack, so I'm trying to figure out a temporary solution until she can eventually go to my mom. But it hasn't been easy to find anyone willing to take her for several months, and sometimes I think I should just let her go to a new home. But I just can't do it. No matter what happens, I love that little dog more than I could ever explain, and I just can't bare the thought of her not being a part of my life anymore.

So even though on a day-to-day basis, life is pretty freaking fantastic and I couldn't be happier, sometimes parts of life are sad. I think it's important to acknowledge that in a world where everything is seen through an Instagram filter. If you made it to the end of this very lengthy post, thanks for reading :) Every once in awhile a girl just needs to vent, and apparently today was the day for me.

Wait....it's December?

I seriously cannot wrap my head around the idea that Christmas is in just a few weeks. Time seriously passes by so fast these days, I can't keep up. However, December is one of my very favorite months, and I'm practically giddy all throughout the holiday season, so I'm definitely not complaining.

But the bad news is, I am nothing but a big fat procrastinator, so I am so not prepared for it to be at this point in the year already. I did get a few Christmas gifts over the weekend, but my list is still loooong. I'm not sure what the plan is really for any of our holiday get-togethers. My house is kind of halfway decorated. There are a million holiday activities that I want to make time for, but I just realized that there are three weekends until Christmas and every one of those is pretty much booked up. So not really sure how that's supposed to work...
Flash Back! I mean, really? Look at that fat little nugget! How was this a year ago??

But, the season is upon us, and I can now officially blast Christmas music whenever I want and not be judged. I have a beautiful tree and glittery decorations all over my house, and every where you go there are houses covered in flashy Christmas lights. So I'm going to ignore the mild feeling of dread that I feel down in my gut, and I shall embrace this wonderful time of year.

Since Grayson was so little last year we didn't really start many actual traditions, but this year I have so many fun things I want to do. Plus, he's SUPER pumped about the Christmas tree, and will grab my hand and walk me to the front room several times a day to show it to me. So I can already tell that this year is going to be on a whole new level of fun. Can't wait to see him open all his gifts!

If you are a lazy bum like me and are just now getting started on your holiday to-do list, good luck to you. Embrace all that December has to offer you, and don't let it stress you out until you feel like you just might lose your mind like it has the tendency to do.

And if all else fails, just drink lots of spiked eggnog. That should fix it. I mean, that's my plan.


A couple weekends ago the hubs, Grayson and I went to ICE! at the Gaylord Texan hotel in Grapevine. A few families in our neighborhood were going, so we decided to tag along. I must say, this is my favorite thing about our new neighborhood. Young families who actually get together and socialize on a regular basis. So much fun for all three of us!
We've never been to ICE! before, so we didn't really know what to expect. It was really incredible and fun and impressive, but most of all it was COLD. I believe they said it is 9 degrees inside. Yeah, that's right. That's cold anywhere, but in Texas that's downright FREEZING FREAKING COLD. We are not used to that type of climate, let me tell you. 

Basically, you go through several rooms with tons and tons of ice sculptures, all of which are in the Frosty the Snowman theme that they went with this year. Apparently they switch it up from year to year. It was seriously super impressive....much cooler than I'm making it sound. The pictures don't do it justice. I'm amazed that people have the talent to create some of this stuff. 
Grayson had a great time, although he was a little too cold. When we were getting somewhat close to the end he started saying "Go. Go. Go!". I said, "Do you want to go? Are you too cold?" and he nodded his head yes as hard as he could and pointed toward the exit. Needless to say mama got outta there as quick as she could! I'm pretty sure he'll enjoy it more in a couple of years when he can appreciate some of the characters and fun activities that they had going on, like the huge ice slides kids could go down. 

By far the most fun he had was dancing and playing with our two little neighbor girls. They're both in kindergarten, and they just lavished him with attention. He LOVED every second of it. I could tell he felt so big and cool playing with the big girls, and he wanted to hold their hands and walk by them the entire time. Things like this put a slight fear in my heart for what I'm looking at in the future. 
All four families went to have dinner afterward at a Mexican restaurant inside the Gaylord. If you've never been there, or anywhere similar like Opryland in Nashville, it is huge. Like, insanely huge with restaurants and shops and a billion guest rooms and a river running through it...it's like it's own city. And it is gorgeous during the holidays. Well worth a trip just to see what it's all about. 

If you haven't experienced ICE!, I would say it's worth checking out. It's pricey from what I recall, although we had a promo code for half off which was nice. But it's kind of one of those things that you need to see. I doubt we will go back in the next couple of years, because G just wasn't quite old enough to truly appreciate it. But once he is, we will definitely be back. 

Now that we've got that marked off the list, we've got about a month left in the holiday season...and probably about 37 "holiday" things I want to do and places I want to visit and activities I want to attend. Fingers crossed I can get at least like three of them in...
Meeting "Olaf" was another huge plus for G. I'm sure Frosty was horribly offended that Grayson kept saying "Owaf! Owaf!". He cried when we had to leave him behind.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Every year at this time I reflect on how good I really have it. There are so, so many things that I am thankful for, and I'm so incredibly blessed to have the life I do. Of course there are struggles, and life lately has certainly had it's sadness and challenges, but overall I am so lucky to live this life, with this husband and this baby and this family and my lovely home and sweet friends and food on the table and a reliable car to drive. I take for granted so many things that would be such a miracle for others. I truly strive every day to appreciate the good in my life and to recognize how amazing it really is that my family and I are all safe and healthy and happy. And on this day, I'm more aware than usual. That's what I love about the holiday season. Although it may have it's downsides, it seems to bring an awareness to what's important in life.

I hope that you're all having a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones. This time of year can be so stressful and overwhelming, but I hope you're able to sit back today and count your blessings. Happy Thanksgiving to you!!!
We recently had family photos taken by the amazing Fairytale Photography here in the DFW area, and they were phenomenal as usual. I'll be sharing more soon!

Top 5 Places for Affordable Home Decor

So, I'm slightly obsessed with buying new things for my home. I'm constantly switching things up, moving things from room to room, and I am NEVER done. I think I'm just going to have to face that fact. Or in reality it's more like my husband is going to have to face that fact.

But since I'm constantly on the lookout for new stuff and new ways to spruce up my house, I'm pretty much always on a budget. I could go all out and buy one amazing new thing every couple months, or I could be smart about it and get several inexpensive things that play well together and make a big difference. In my years of budget-friendly decorating, I've discovered that there are a few key places to look for really great deals. Here are my personal top five places that I'm always sure to check out.

1.  Target

Oh, Target. What woman out there doesn't have a deep, burning love for good ole' Target? I can't tell you how much stuff I bought for our new house here. Lamps, pillows, wall decor, bedding...I actually bought our dining room chairs here. It never fails, every single time I run into this place I end up in the home section....and every single time, I find something I NEED. What is it about this place? It's like a black hole. I get sucked in and I come out $100 poorer.


If you don't have an IKEA in your area, I'm sorry. I had heard the legend of IKEA for years before I finally stepped foot in one, and I've never looked back. I actually have one about 15 minutes from my house now, and let me tell you, it ain't bad. IKEA is seriously outrageously affordable. This is another place we got quite a bit of stuff for the new house. My desk chair, which I'm obsessed with, an end table, wall decor....the list goes on and on. And they seriously have basically every single thing you could need in your house. Plus, the display floor where you walk into those fully furnished little apartments is just too much fun for me. It's heavenly, I'm telling you.

3. Hobby Lobby

I know Hobby Lobby has had its share of controversy lately, but man that store has some good home decor! Seriously, if you don't shop here, and there's one in your area, I dare you to go inside and not find something you absolutely must have. I seriously just went in there looking for a Christmas tree and found the most adorable wooden sign for Grayson's bedroom...how did I even end up in that section? It's a mystery to me. Even better, they have 50% off sales every week...and if it's not on sale this week, odds are it will be the next. Amazing. And dangerous.

4. Kirklands

For some reason you don't hear about Kirklands as much, but I'm a fan of the store. This isn't a place that I go into and find something I love every single time, but I have found several really good deals here. A lot of stuff to sit around on shelves, some artwork for the walls, they even have a bit of furniture. This is also a really great place for seasonal decor. Plus, it always smells really good in here. That's gotta count for something.

5. Discount Stores

What I mean by this is stores like Home Goods, TJ Maxx, Ross, etc. These stores can be hit or miss, but sometimes you can get a pretty amazing deal on something pretty good. I've found a lot of regular decor items here, but I've also found sheets, dishes, comforter sets, and gifts for friends and family at these stores. My favorite, and probably the most consistently great, is HomeGoods. It's hard to go in that store without filling up my basket.

There are many, many other places that I shop semi-regularly, but these are definitely my go-to stores when it comes to home furnishings. But that being said, I'm ALWAYS looking for new stores to try. So if I left out your absolute favorite place, please fill me in! I'll love you forever if you give me a new favorite store...but my husband might not be your biggest fan, just a heads up.

It's Already Been a Real Monday.

You know when you wake up and first thing it seems like you've already started off your day all wrong. That's kind of how this day has been. Already. And it's not even 7:30.

Grayson got up extra early this morning, and could not be convinced to go back to sleep for anything. So fine, fine, I'm up. I can deal with an early morning every now and then. He had soaked through his diaper, so I got up, changed him, and changed his clothes. I'll deal with the sheets later. We come into the kitchen, and he starts asking for water. Before I can get his cup out of the cabinet and water poured into it, he's nearly hysterical. "Wawa. Wawa. WAWA. WAWA! WAWA! WAWAAAA!!!". I mean seriously. It maybe took a total of 45 seconds.

Then, he decides he wants oatmeal, which literally takes like three minutes of preparation. Boil the water, stir it in, wait one minute, done. But apparently he is absolutely famished, and the waiting results in another near meltdown. We're talking laying on the kitchen floor, crying, kicking his legs. I ignore it, and he eventually stops. I sit him in his chair and give him some cheerios to pacify him, and he (begrudgingly) accepts.

I start feeding him the oatmeal a few minutes later, and everything is fine for approximately 30 seconds. He decides he would like to feed himself, thankyouverymuch, and rips the spoon out of my hand. I take it back, and this results in a full-on panic attack/major meltdown. Swinging his arms across his tray, cheerios flying across the room, kicking, face turning red, tears rolling down his cheeks, and finally, coughing out his mouthful of oatmeal. I've learned the best approach is to either softly talk to him and explain the situation and why he needs to calm down, or to ignore it for the moment. Since I'm already highly annoyed with this day, I ignore.

I clean up, and feed him two more bites. He looks a bit ashamed of himself, which I'm honestly somewhat happy about. One more bite, and he grabs the spoon again. At this point I give in. I'd rather clean up a huge mess than deal with it.

He finishes the oatmeal, and starts asking for "Mo. Mo. Mo. MOOOHHHHH!!!!!". I explain that we're out, he ate it all. Tears. Kicking. Grunting. Yelling. I offer yogurt. He shakes his head no. I take his bowl away. He kicks and screams for a minute, until I get the yogurt put on his tray.

He eats about five bites of yogurt, then says "Done!". Smiling, happy, cheerful little Grayson sitting in front of me, as if nothing ever happened. I get him down, clean him up, and it's over. Until he notices the oatmeal on his pants. Slightly panicked tears.
If this breakfast catastrophe is any indication, it should be a truly fabulous day. Life with a toddler is always exciting. You never really know what you're going to be dealing with from one moment to the next. It's what I imagine it would be like to live with a slightly manic drunk person. Lots of falling, crying, fits of rage, and moments of pure bliss and hilarity. As I'm finishing this up, he's begging for his "papi" (aka pacifier), which he's only allowed to have at nap time and bedtime. Since I told him no, he threw himself on the ground with a scream, stood back up, started banging on the trash can, and is now wandering around, moaning "Eeeeeeh, paaaapiiiii. Ooooooh, paaaaapiiiii. Paaaaaapiiiiiiii."

Wish me luck.

Baby Photo Shoot

So, I mentioned awhile ago that the hubs bought me a fancy camera for Mother's Day. Turns out, despite the photography class I took in college, I have no idea how to use it. It completely intimidates me. I get it out, take a few pics, and usually end up defaulting to iPhone pics for the rest of the day/event/holiday/whatever reason I'm taking pictures. I have managed to get some really good ones, but also some pretty terrible ones. I mean, I guess I should take some kind of class or something? And maybe actually pay attention this time? There's no way I'm going to be able to figure this out on my own.

Anyway, every once in awhile I get all inspired and I'm like, "I'm gonna get my camera out and take some really great photos and then I'll post them on the blog and I'll be like a real, live, official blogger!". And then I take like three and I'm all "Uhhh...I don't really know what else to do here, so...yeah.". So on one of these days that I was feeling oh-so-inspired, Grayson happened to look really cute. So we had an impromptu photo shoot of sorts.

Nothing else was going on that day. I think we were about to go out to dinner or something. So there's no "story" to blog. Nothing to tell. Just a few little photos of an adorable child. I hope that works for you.

Oh, and here's the even better part. Not only do I take mediocre photos, but I'm too lazy to edit them in any way. So you're getting the real, raw deal here, people. That's good stuff. Anway...Happy Friday? Haven't thrown that out there in awhile. Hope you have a positively fabulous weekend.

Organizing My Life

For the past several months - actually, approaching a year now - I've been trying to juggle many, many things. I'm doing the stay at home mama thing, I'm freelancing for a company, I'm attempting to be Betty Homemaker, I'm trying to find outlets for my creativity, I'm trying to raise a child and learn how to form him into an amazing human being...and I'm attempting to do all of that on too little sleep a lot of the time. What's new, am I right moms?

But a little while ago I reached a point where I felt like I was just running in circles, never really accomplishing much of anything. I knew something had to change. So I set out to organize my life.

First, I needed to define my priorities. Since I've got a million things to do but a limited amount of time, only a few things will actually get accomplished each day. Obviously taking care of Grayson is priority number one. Then we've got my freelancing job, which is a source of income, so it needs to be priority number two. Staying on top of keeping up the house is big, as is making time to cook my family healthy dinners. Then I try to fit in play dates and mom's night out whenever I can.

Next, I knew I needed a schedule to stick to. It's great to know what your priorities are, but if there isn't a plan of action things kind of fall apart. So I needed a way to stay on top of it all. Anytime I want inspiration for basically anything at this point in my life I turn to Pinterest. I found a few great printables that I filled out and hung up on a bulletin board in a little area in my laundry room. I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to getting organized, and you'll find several printables if you check it out. I printed a weekly schedule that I fill out with my usual schedule (up at 7, or earlier if I try to go to the gym, breakfast at 7:30, work Tuesday-Thursday from 8-12, lunch at 12, Grayson's nap right after lunch, etc., etc.). I use my iPhone calendar to remind me of any thing out of the ordinary that comes up, like nights out with friends or doctor's appointments.
I also decided that in order to cut down our eating out expenses, which were absolutely shameful, I would start meal planning. I found yet another great printable, and I have been rocking this thing. I typically cook dinner five nights a week, and allow for two nights of eating out, usually on the weekend. We are seriously saving so much moolah this way. I set aside like 30 minutes to an hour on Sunday morning to plan and make my grocery list, then we grocery shop that afternoon.
I also made a weekly plan for cleaning house, and a monthly list of extra projects I'd like to accomplish and deep cleaning chores I tend to forget about. For example, on Sundays I do laundry, meal plan, and grocery shop. Mondays, I finish the laundry, sweep, and mop all the tile floors. Tuesdays I clean the bathrooms. And so on and so on. I don't stick to it every single week, but it's a nice guide for when I have the time.
Just this little bit of planning and effort has made a WORLD of difference in my life. I seriously feel like I've gained hours in my week. Of course I get off track every now and then, but it's nice to have an easy way to get back to where I want to be. Since becoming a mom, I've realized how easy it is to just let the days fly by without ever really accomplishing much of anything. I've never been super organized on my own, so this has been totally necessary, and worth it, for me.