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'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 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.

Trick or Treat!

Since Grayson was just a tiny six month old baby last Halloween, we didn't do much in the way of trick or treating. In fact, we did exactly nothing besides dress him in his cute little tiger costume and walk around a little Halloween festival for about 20 minutes one day. So this year was really our first trick or treating experience, and he loved it. 

I totally procrastinated and waited until the Monday before Halloween to order a costume. I knew I wanted him to be a pirate, but couldn't find a good costume anywhere. So by Monday I was in a slight panic. Luckily, the husband took over since I was freaking out, found a costume, and had it ordered in about 10 minutes. Sometimes I've discovered it's just best to sit back and let him handle the things that make my head spin. 

The costume was in Thursday afternoon, just in time to try it on and make sure it fit for trick or treating the next day. And it was ADORABLE. Grayson wasn't so convinced, but he eventually came around. 
Friday we met up with some neighbors and trick or treated around the neighborhood. I LOVE our new neighborhood. It's full of young families, people are always out in their front yards and walking around, chatting with neighbors. There were so many kids and parents out trick or treating, so it was really fun. After an hour or so of walking around we headed home to hand out candy for a bit. It ended up being pretty cold (well, Texas cold), so we eventually just went inside and left the bucket of candy out for kids to take whatever they wanted. Luckily, the bucket was still there with a few stray pieces of candy when we went to get it. 

Grayson had a blast, and said "tritatweet" (trick or treat) at every house and "gangu" (thank you) when he got his candy. Daddy let him gnaw on a twizzler for awhile, and I gave him a little piece of chocolate. So, pretty much best day ever for that kid. 

Looks like I should probably start brainstorming costume ideas for next year...who knew this was such a stressful thing?


I have a lot of goals and dreams for my life. Like, a lot a lot. I have so many that I get overwhelmed at the thought of them and need to take a nap. I get so excited, because I'm so passionate about so many things, and I just want to do them all and do them like right NOW and wouldn't it be great if I could (fill in the blank), wouldn't that be so amazing?!?

So I think, and I plot, and I plan, and on an on...and then I end up with a million ideas and plans and exactly nothing to show for it. The husband has told me time and time again that I really need to choose like two things to focus on, and just work on that for awhile. I mean, I've kind of got a lot going on right now anyway, it's not like I've got hours of downtime to do arts and crafts and build my empire.

So I think I've decided that number one, I'm going to focus on being mommy. I mean, obviously, right? But it's not, really. Because "mommy" is a given, it's just the default. I wake up, I'm mommy. I fix breakfast, I change diapers, I clean up messes, I give kisses, I change the laundry, I fix lunch, I color, I go on walks, I count, I say ABCs, and so on and so on. But just going through the motions doesn't get me anywhere. Instead, I want to really focus on being the best mommy I can be. This doesn't mean a perfect mommy, because Lord knows I would fail at that goal daily. But being the best mommy I personally can be. This means working on my patience, and taking the time to get down on the floor and wrestle around and work on puzzles and stack blocks and read books. To give him my undivided attention whenever possible. Because this is what I do. I'm mommy. I don't have a career that I'm focused on at the moment, I don't have a boss that I answer to, and I don't have to devote 40+ hours a week to a job anymore. So I need to take that energy and put it into mommyhood. That may not be right for every mama, but for me I know that's what I need, and want, to do. 

Number two, I would really like to focus on getting back into blogging. This might not look like blogging four or five times a week immediately, but it may be a little behind the scenes stuff. Planning, brainstorming, working on the details of what I want this space to be. This is another area that I have so many ideas that my brain just turns into a big jumble of thoughts and then I'm overwhelmed and I've gotten nowhere. So my plan is to dedicate a certain (TBD) amount of time each week to just the thought process of where I want to take this blog. I may sit and think and plot and come up with the answer that I don't really want it to be any more than what it currently is, which is basically an online journal that I very sporadically write in. Or I may want it to be one of the bigger things that I've thought at some point. All I know is I need to put some effort into making that decision. So that's goal number two at the moment.

And for now, that's where my focus will be. Even though I also want to start volunteering, and start sewing and crafting and open an Etsy shop, and work on getting back in fabulous shape, and start flipping houses, and work on the bajillion projects I want to do around the house, and open a boutique, and go back to school to get a degree in a different field, and start an animal rescue, and and and and.....

Like I said. Brain overload over here.

But even though I want to do all of those things, I'm going to take my oh-so-wise husband's advice and pick one. Or two, actually. Number one will never change, or at least not until all my babies are off to school. And then it will just look different, but will still be number one for me I'm quite sure. And then we shall see what else happens. I wish I had the endless time and endless energy to just go go go and do it all now, but I'm trying to embrace this season in my life for what it is. It's busy, and overwhelming, and fun, and precious, and I love it so much. I know in the blink of an eye I'll be in a totally different season, and I'll just wish I had little arms reaching out to me to be held all day long, so I'm taking the time to embrace it. I can have all the goals in the world, and I truly hope that I get to accomplish them all, because I just feel so stupid passionate about every single one of them. But for now, I have to acknowledge my limitations, and be ok with them. And I think I finally am.