Thursday, August 31, 2017

Random Thoughts...

Happy Thursday, everybody!  I intended to post today, but then I ran out of time yesterday to compose said post, and then I unexpectedly had a few extra minutes yesterday evening - because we put the kids earlier to bed than usual - so I ended up sitting down to type up some randomness anyway.  I just can't quit you.  And apparently I just can't quit rambling either.

Anyway, some random thoughts for you...

First of all, thank you to those of you who reached out to me about Olivia's gymnastics situation yesterday.  It's good to know that we weren't overreacting by pulling her out.  The manager of the gymnastics company did reach out to us and they apologized for what happened.  They also said that they are going to refund all of our money that we had already paid for next month's classes, and the manager also offered to do a one-on-one session with Olivia when the gym is closed to try to calm her fears so she doesn't leave with a negative attitude about gymnastics.  Olivia has shockingly agreed to take her up on her offer, and we are very appreciative to have another chance to end with gymnastics on a high note.  I will keep y'all posted.

Second of all, B replaced our American flag last night with our Georgia flag and I cannot even tell you how happy that made me because that can only mean one thing - football is almost here!

Third, I read something yesterday that said Starbucks sent out a cryptic tweet that is making everyone think that the PSL will be available tomorrow.  EEK!  Guess who will be standing in line first thing?  #ThisGirl

Fourth, tomorrow is my last appointment with that specialist in Atlanta.  They are not doing another treatment as this is just a follow-up, and we believe that enough time has gone by to know that these haven't helped/aren't going to help with my back/hip/leg issues.  I was afraid that would mean I have exhausted all options, but I saw my midwife last week for my annual exam and she has now referred me to a pelvic specialist/physical therapist.  The best part is that she is a pelvic physical therapist who only specialized in women's health, and she mostly works with women who have issues after giving birth.  WHERE she has been the last six years, I'll never know, but I'm glad to have the chance to see her now.  At this point, I highly doubt that she will be able to help since no one else has, but I refuse to give up and let the pain take over.  Wish me luck!

Fifth, one of our friends decided that donating to the hurricane relief was just not enough, so he is renting a U-Haul (or some other kind of large truck) and he is going to drive supplies over to Houston himself.  He managed to get a ton of attention via our local news and radio outlets and also via social media, so he was able to collect a heap of stuff to take.  Jacob's school also got involved and asked for parents to bring items for him to put on his truck this morning, so we hauled a big box and a big bag to school this morning full of items they are in need of most.  America may be divided right now for other reasons, but in times of tragedy we sure do know how to come together and help one another.  And I think that these are the times that matter the most.  It's just a little something nice to remind me that people are mostly good and not the other way around.  Times like these do have a way of restoring my faith in humanity. 

Alright, enough rambling... I hope you enjoyed this big post of unplanned thoughts.

Happy Thursday!

*Linking up with Sparkles and Lattes for Confessional Thursday and Home of Malones for Thoughts for Thursday.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

What's Up Wednesday - August 2017

*This post may contain affiliate links.

Before getting started, I just wanted to say to all of my Texas friends that you are in my thoughts and prayers.  We have been glued to the news much like the rest of America, and we are just devastated seeing all of the flooding and damage. 

If anyone feels the urge to help out, I came across a great article yesterday summarizing the many different charities that are accepting donations as well as other ways to help. 

Now for a little summary of our August… man oh man was it a busy one!

What We’re Eating This Week

Mon – Chicken and pineapple stir fry with rice and broccoli
Tue – Chick-Fil-A because – soccer practice
Wed – Tacos
Thu – Eggs, grits, bacon, and toast
Fri – Out
Sat – Hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill because – COLLEGE FOOTBALL, BABY! 
Sun – Momma and Daddy’s for Sunday dinner… I assume… Momma?  Haha.

What I’m Reminiscing About

B and I just celebrated our 14 year dating anniversary on Monday so I’ve been thinking about the early care-free days of our relationship before we got married and had babies.  We have shared some really amazing times together and I’m just so thankful to have all of those sweet memories with him.  And I’m even more thankful that I get to continue making new memories with him.    

What I’m Loving

The cooler weather and lack of humidity we’ve had!  We’ve had temps this week in the mid-eighties during the day and humidity has only been around 40%.  The temps at night have dipped into the low seventies and even the upper sixties one night.  It’s been like our own little taste of fall considering August is usually our hottest month!

What We’ve Been Up To

Oh my word, where to even begin?  August was busy.  Probably our busiest month so far this year.  Both kids had a lot of days off as their schools prepared for back-to-school, so B and I each had to take several days off from work to be with them.  We met both teachers and attended a parent orientation.  Jacob started first grade and we’ve been adjusting to aaaallll the homework that comes along with it.  Whew, it’s crazy! 

Jacob also started soccer so we’ve gotten our first taste of having after-school activities during the week.  Olivia started "nastics" so that was another thing to add to our busy weekday evenings.  We celebrated my dad’s birthday and my father-in-law's birthday, and B and I took two different days off to go to Atlanta for my doctor’s appointments.  I had a girls’ night out, and we took care of my parents’ dog while they were in Nashville.  It was such a busy month, but B and I were surprisingly able to squeeze in a date night!  Winning! 

What I’m Dreading

Honestly not much.  My favorite four months of the year are here, so I’m actually pretty excited, and I’m hoping to get out of this funk that I’ve been in pretty much the entire year.

What I’m Working On

Getting our house decorated for fall!!  I stopped by Hobby Lobby yesterday on my lunch break to grab a couple of things to fill in the gaps, and I’m hoping to have everything done by Saturday.  And don’t you worry… there will be a fall home tour post!  ;o)

What I’m Excited About


What I’m Watching/Reading

Watching – We’re (kind of) watching Bachelor in Paradise.  Is it really lame this season, too, or am I just slowly getting turned off to the whole Bachelor franchise?  I hated this past season of The Bachelorette and now BIP has been a disappointment, too.  In addition to BIP, we’re watching America’s Got Talent and also Ozark.  We haven’t watched Ozark in almost two weeks, though, since Hubs worked so much last weekend. 

Reading – I’m just finishing up The Identicals.  This is my first Elin Hilderbrand book, and she definitely lived up to all the hype.  I will most definitely be checking out other books by her! 

What I’m Listening To

When I’m in the car with the kids, they’re still on a Trolls and Moana soundtrack kick, and Jacob just also informed us that we need to get the Secret Life of Pets and Sing soundtracks as well.  Lol. 

When I’m in the car without the kids, I’ve been jamming to Taylor Swift's new song because I AM OBSESSED WITH IT.  It has the best beat!  #LookWhatYouMadeMeDo

At home we’ve been settling in with a lot of old standards and cocktail jazz because they make me feel cozy and warm and that’s the best way to feel now that fall is approaching!

I’ve also been on a Paul Thorn kick since we went to his concert a couple of weeks ago!

What I’m Wearing

We’ve experienced a little bit of a cool-down and a drop in humidity this week, so I’ve actually been wearing my fair share of pants in lieu of skirts!  On weekends, I’ve been hanging out in comfy tees paired with these shorts from Target that I still can’t get enough of.  Why oh why are they discontinuing the Mossimo brand?

What I’m Doing This Weekend

We are hosting a football party with friends this Saturday because college football is back, BABY!  Did I mention that already?  Hehe.  Our friends and their two kids are going to come over and we’re going to let the kiddos play to their little heart’s content while all of the adults gather around the TV to watch the game.  B is going to fire up the grill and make some burgers and hot dogs, and I’m going to make some apps, drinks, and a dessert.  The house should be all decorated by then and there will definitely be a fall candle burning.  I’m just so excited for the start of college football/fall/pumpkin season I could just cry!  

What I’m Looking Forward To Next Month

September is always a great month!  I’ll be looking forward to lots of lazy weekends at home watching football, Jacob’s first soccer game, having that first sip of pumpkin spice latte for the season, and maybe – hopefully – dipping into my scarf collection… fingers crossed for some cooler weather!

What Else Is New

Well, we officially have a gymnastics dropout.  Womp womp.  Olivia loved her first class so much and she was eager to go back the following week.  However, during her second class, the kids were all flipping over the high bar (only a few feet off the ground since they’re so little), but the coach wasn’t spotting the kids appropriately and Olivia ended up falling on her head not once, but twice, y’all.  I was BESIDE MYSELF.  I mean, I know they’re going to fall and get bumps and bruises, but for a three-year old who was taking only her second gymnastics class ever, someone should have been spotting her every single second that she was on that high bar.  Both times that she fell, I had a mini heart attack because it looked so awful.  I’m just so thankful she didn’t break her neck.  And yes, I had a chat with her coach after the class was over because I was not happy.

Anyway, after that happened she was terrified to go back, and with good reason.  I wouldn’t have wanted to either.  We did make her go to the third class last week and try one last time, but she didn’t want to go, and she cried half of the time that she was there.  They didn’t practice the high bar that day, so who knows if she would have even been spotted appropriately.  All this past week we have been asking her if she wants to go back, and every single time she responds with a firm, “No.”  So we have decided to pull her from the program.  I’m not going to make her do something that makes her feel unsafe.  And honestly, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my chest, too, because the last time we were there my anxiety was through the freaking roof the whole time. 

Yes, this all sounds a bit dramatic, but when you watch your baby fall on her head from several feet off the ground and start screaming and you can’t do anything about it (parents aren’t allowed to go out on the floor), it really sucks.  And it’s scary.  The momma bear in me definitely came out that day!

So anyway, Olivia has now informed us that she wants to do soccer, but since it’s too late to sign her up for this season, she’s going to have to wait until the spring. 

On the bright side, our Tuesday evenings just got a little easier!  ;o)

Happy Wednesday, y’all!

*Linking up with ShayMel, and Sheaffer for What’s Up Wednesday and Jessi's Design and Going the Distance for What's Hap-"Pinning" Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

How to Stage Your Home When Hosting Guests

*This post may contain affiliate links.

Hosting season is upon us!  Football parties, Halloween parties, Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas gatherings, New Year’s Eve soirees… these next four months will be packed with opportunities to host. 

I for one have always adored hosting and I’ve done my fair share throughout the years – wedding showers, bachelorette parties, baby showers, birthday parties, random game nights, poker nights, Christmas dinners, Sunday dinners… I’ve done them all!  Since we are now in our 30s, wedding and baby season is pretty much behind us, so I don’t get the opportunity to host as much as I used to, but I still love to host when the opportunity arises.  In the words of Monica on Friends,

I’m a big believer in setting the mood/tone for a party, and in my opinion the ambience is just as important as the people and the food.  I like for our home to feel warm, inviting, and fun… a place where people can feel comfortable, kick back, and feel relaxed.  I typed up a checklist years ago containing all of the things that I do before we have people over, and I’m going to share it with you today.

Tidy Up Your Living Space

This one pretty much goes without saying… it’s obvious that you don’t want your guests tripping over the kids’ toys or sitting on old magazines.  I always do a full sweep putting all of our things where they belong before we have company.  Just remember, everything has a place and everything in its place.  It’s a good motto to live by.  ;o)

Hide Things No One Should See

This may sound a little strange, and it also might not be something that you would have even thought of, but I’m sure that everyone has something that they don’t necessarily want their guests to see.  A baby gate?  Prescriptions?

For us, there are two things I can think of… first of all, there is a toy basket that has a permanent home in our living room.  I typically put it upstairs in the play room for the evening to give the room a less-cluttered feel.  Second of all, Maui sleeps in our guest bathroom, so her crate and bed are always in there.  While having them there doesn’t bother us on a daily basis, when we have guests over I do like to hide them to make the bathroom look like, well, a bathroom and not a doggie daycare.  I just stick the crate and bed in the bathtub behind the shower curtain and nobody ever even knows it’s there!  Unless, of course, they’re nosy and they look behind the curtain!  To which they will also find the plunger and a couple of other odds and ends.  Hehe.  #NobodyEverShowersInThere  

Clean All Surfaces

In addition to making sure that everything is tidy, I also make sure that everything is clean.  I scrub the toilets, dust and wipe down all surfaces, sweep, mop, and/or vacuum all floors.  Your guests probably won’t want to come back if they have to use a filthy toilet.  ;o)  I totally love this as an all-purpose cleaner.  It's fantastic!

Turn on Ambient Lighting

You can never have too many lamps or twinkle lights.  And I do mean any time of the year, not just at Christmas.  Ever since I moved out of my parents’ house I’ve had a ficus tree carefully wrapped in white twinkle lights somewhere in my house.  In our old house, it was in the dining room, but in our current home we have one in our dining as well as front and center in the living room where we spend the majority of our time.  I cannot stress how much a simple strand of twinkle lights can transform a space. 

Our ambient lighting includes all lamps (we have a ton of them), the light over our mantle, the twinkle lights in the ficus tree in the living room and the dining room, my marquee letters in the kitchen, and the string lights on our back porch.  It sounds like a lot, but it only takes a matter of minutes to turn them all on and have them shining brightly!

Open the Blinds

Opening the blinds and/or shutters makes the house feel more open, it lets natural light in (if the party is during daylight hours) and in my personal opinion, it just makes the house look more elegant.  Plus, that allows your guests to see your beautiful string lights on the back porch!

Light Candles

I burn candles pretty much year round.  I have a signature spring and summer scent (Limoncello), a signature fall and Christmas scent (Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin), and a signature New Year’s scent (Champagne Toast).  I also love this candle during the early months of the year.  It is seriously one of the best scented candles ever. 

These scents all make our home smell divine and that really adds to the overall ambiance of the room.  I typically light one in the kitchen so the scent wafts through the entire downstairs level, and I also light one in the guest bathroom. 

*Just be sure to keep them out of the reach of little hands if you’re hosting a party where kids will be present.

Comprise the Perfect Playlist

Music is powerful.  So very powerful.  A song can transport you back to a specific time and place in a split second.  It has always been at the forefront of my life and I play it constantly in the house, in the car, and at work.  Y’all all know that I have a very eclectic taste in music, but if I could only listen to one genre for the rest of my life it would be standards and jazz from the 40’s.  Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday… What a fantastic decade for music.  It is definitely my go-to for dinner parties.  There’s just something about a piano, a saxophone, a trumpet, and a bass combined with a sultry voice that just exudes relaxation and contentment.

My play list does vary based on the event, though!  I tend to love folksy music (think Ray Lamontagne and The Lumineers) during the spring, country music during the summer, old standards in the fall, and then, of course, Christmas tunes pretty much any time after November first. 

Music is everything and a good playlist can really set the tone for your party.  

Decorate for the Occasion

I am all about a good party theme.  All about it.  Decorations just add to the fun in my opinion, so I love to decorate – fun plates and napkins, adorable paper straws, a good table cloth, maybe even a festive banner over the fireplace.  I also love to tie-in my chalkboard in the kitchen with the theme.  So fun!

Create a Signature Cocktail

I know this is not really a part of house staging, but I thought that I would mention it because it is also something that I love for setting the mood at a party.  We are big drinkers in our family and B and I love to open a bottle of wine, try a new craft beer, or whip up a good cocktail, and I love mixing up something special for our guests.  Heck, we even have a fully stocked bar cart!  We hosted my entire extended family (30+ people) for Christmas several years in a row after we moved in our house and I always made a huge batch of Christmas punch.  Unfortunately I didn’t blog back then so the recipe isn’t already on my blog, but maybe I’ll have to remedy that this Christmas and get it up here!

I also love serving Moscow Mules in our frosty copper mugs or whipping up a batch of margaritas in our cactus margarita glasses, and I also really love this recipe for summer.  Ask my Momma… she loves it, too!

For kid-friendly parties, I love dumping bottles of lemonade in my punch bowl and lining the side of the bowl with fresh lemon wedges.  So simple, but it pacts a punch simply because of the way it’s presented.  When my mom and I hosted a baby shower for my brother and sister-in-law two years ago we even did a hot chocolate bar and it set the tone for a very cozy evening.

Well, I think that’s enough rambling for one day... I’ll leave you with a list of parties that I’ve hosted that are actually on the blog.  There aren’t many since I’ve only been blogging for a couple of years, but this should at least give you a taste of what I love.

Olivia's Pink & Gold Themed First Birthday (my most viewed post ever)
Jacob's Poo Poo Party (yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like)

Also, if you would like to see the rest of our home, all links to all of the rooms including all of my holiday decorations are listed here.

And before I go, I thought that I would mention this because I found it pretty hilarious… as I was going over my list for this post, I saw that #6 said “turn on digital picture frame in kitchen.”  Haha.  That just goes to show you how old my original list is! 

Now to prepare for the football get-together that we are hosting this weekend!  Happy Tuesday, y’all!

And now it's time for the Tuesday Talk Link Up!

Hosted by:

Stephanie at Wife Mommy Me | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Becky at BYBMG | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Lindsay at Lindsay's Sweet World | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Sarah at Sarah E. Frazer | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Weekend - Flying Solo + Hints of Fall

First off, before I get into our weekend, I want to start by saying Happy Date-iversary to my handsome hubs!!!!  On this evening 14 years ago, we made it official that we were going to start dating and the rest is history!  And 14 years ago?  Well that just sounds crazy.  And it makes me feel old.  Anyway, thank you for sticking around for 14 years, babe.  I love you.  <3

This weekend was a bit crazy.  B had a project that he was working on at work this weekend so he worked from sun-up to sun-down both Friday and Saturday.  As a matter of fact, he worked almost 16 hours on Saturday alone so I was on my own Friday and Saturday.  In addition to that, my parents and littlest brother were out of town for a long weekend and we had to take care of their dog, so I definitely had my hands full!

After work on Friday I picked both kids up from school and then we all went home for homemade grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.  It’s my go-to fall and winter favorite and I have to say I’m really in the fall mood now after having it.  After dinner we all curled up on the couch and watched Zootopia (again) while Olivia styled and restyled my hair.  I was able to do a little bit of reading while they watched, so it was a pretty relaxing evening.

After getting them both in the bed I kicked back on the couch with a fuzzy blanket and a pint of chocolate Halo Top and I watched Rumor Has It.  Did y’all ever see that movie?  It’s from 2005 and it stars Jennifer Anniston, Mark Ruffalo, and Kevin Costner.  I swear I would have seen a movie like that back then, but I have no memory of seeing it whatsoever so it was new to me.  It was really cute and it made me long for the days when the movie companies actually put out good romantic comedies.  Has that genre died??  B came home and joined me about halfway through it and then we went to bed.

Saturday B was out the door long before the sun came up, and then I got up with the kids just before 7:30 to get started on our day.  I knew that I was going to have them alone for 13 hours so I had planned a pretty busy day so that we didn’t just lay around and waste the day away.

Our first stop was to let my parents’ dog out.  She was supposed to have stayed at our house with us while they were out of town, but after being there for a few hours Wednesday evening, we quickly knew that wasn’t going to work.  She barked her head off all night and wouldn’t even get in her bed, so my brother ended up having to come and get her and take her back to my parents sometime after midnight.  So anyway, we just let her stay at my parents house (her home) and my uncle and I have been splitting the time taking her out ever since. 

The next stop was Starbucks.  Yes, I was hoping to get my hands on a PSL and no, I couldn't... they claimed to not have the syrup for it yet.  I was a little disappointed, but I had known going in that it was probably just too early.  However, I was even more disappointed when I ordered my tall decaf skinny caramel latte and the guy told me that they have discontinued the skinny caramel syrup.  WHY, STARBUCKS, WHYYYY?!  Needless to say I just drove away with the full fat version instead because I already had my heart set on it and wasn’t about to leave empty-handed.  

The next stop was a play date with Adrienne and her daughter and one of their friends and her son at Michaels to do the Kid Craft class that they have on Saturday mornings.  We arrived a little early, so I let the kids walk up and down the aisles of fall and Halloween stuff and it got them just as excited for fall as I am!  You may have seen my Insta story of them ew-ing at all of the eyeballs and skeletons.  Haha.

The class started at 10 and the craft was to put your name in stickers on the canvas, paint around them, and then pull the stickers up to have your name revealed in clean white canvas.  Both of them loved doing the craft and they both turned out great!  I only had to intercept once with Olivia when she was about to put the “v” after the “o” in her name.  Haha.

Once the kids had crafted their little hearts out, Adrienne, Molly, and I took all of the kids to the playground at our library (Jacob’s and Olivia’s favorite) and they all played for a good hour and a half.  I think they were all exhausted by the time we left.

We left shortly after noon, grabbed some Zaxby’s, and then took it over to my parents’ house so we could hang out with Lily (their dog) for a while since she had been alone for the last couple of days.  You may remember that I mentioned that she has had two strokes in the last month or so?  Well, she seemed to be doing so much better when we visited with her Saturday.  I think she was really happy that we were there and she wasn’t alone.

After that it was back home for Olivia’s nap, and Jacob got a jump start on his homework for the upcoming week.  He flew through Monday’s and Tuesday’s spelling homework so I rewarded him by letting him watch a little bit of TV while I worked a little bit in my office.

The rest of the afternoon consisted of baths, snacks, letting Lily out on the way to church, and then church.  On the way in, the kids found four new painted rocks!  I was a little nervous about having them at church without Brian, but fortunately my whole extended family goes there, too, so my grandmother, and two aunts and uncles were all there to help me keep them contained.  Turns out they were both pretty good so it was no big deal anyway.  Having them both go to children’s liturgy is a complete game changer, y’all!

After church, my whole extended family (minus B and my parents) all headed to a new Mexican restaurant for my second cousin’s eighteenth birthday.  The kids were exhausted and looked as though they were going to fall asleep in the booth, but they powered through and bedtime ended up being a breeze… a plus since I was still flying solo. 

I settled in with the other half of my Halo Top from the night before and I turned on that old movie Picture Perfect (because Netflix doesn’t currently have The Wedding Planner… waaaahhhh!) and after I ate my ice cream I fell straight asleep on the couch and missed most of the movie.  #Woops  I woke up to a text from B saying he was finally on the way home, so we ended up crashing just a little before midnight.

Sunday B was finally home all day, and we started out the day lazy.  The kids watched some TV while I started decorating the house for fall… I told y’all I was going to do it!  And while I was at it, I also switched my lotion and spray over to my fall scent... I’m officially in the mood, y’all!  We left the house around 11:30 to let Lily out one final time before my parents arrived home and then we headed to my MIL’s house for lunch. 

The humidity was a super low 40% Sunday afternoon so we all hung out in the back yard for a while after lunch despite the 90 degree temp.  It was SO NICE not having 90% humidity like usual.  During their playtime, the kids stumbled upon some crazy looking caterpillar and I couldn’t resist taking some pictures.  Just look at the pattern on him!  Have you ever seen anything like it?

Sunday evening my parents were just getting back in town so my mom didn’t cook.  Instead we headed to Cracker Barrel to have breakfast for dinner… another one of my favorite things to do in the fall.  A yummy dinner of eggs, grits, bacon, pancakes, biscuits, and coffee was the best way possible to end the weekend since we couldn’t end it with our usual Sunday dinner.

Well, it’s Monday again… time to get back to the grind!  And I’ll be counting down the minutes until I can head home and bask in the glory of my newly fall decorated house!  EEK! 

*Linking up with B Loved Boston for WeekendingMy Glittery Heart for Hello Monday,  More Pieces of Me for Hello Monday Linkup, and HoHo Runs for Weekly Wrap.