In my Shopping Cart

I have been doing some shopping!

Online shopping is a wonderful invention, especially for the mom of little ones. I want to share some things I am purchasing this weekend, and some things that are going on my wishlist to purchase soon! The items from Target are affiliate links. If you click on the Target links, I get a little bit of the profits, so thank you for supporting my family in this way.

For the kids

I have been getting ready for spring and summer by keeping my eye open for graphic tees that my little man would like. He has an opinion about what he wears now, so here are four he said he liked. (Most kids clothes are 20% off at Target using the code KIDS20)

daniel tiger

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Short Sleeve Shirt

animal friends shirt

Elephant Short Sleeve Shirt

snake

Stripe Short Sleeve Shirt

crane

Time To Wreck Stuff Short Sleeve Shirt

We are also starting to potty train, so I plan to get these jeans that he can pull off and on easier than ones with a button.

jeans

Skinny Rib Waist Denim Pants

For my small one, I need to get another play yard sheet. He seems to have really sensitive skin, and two of the three sheets I got are too rough for his cheeks. This muslin sheet by Aden and Anais is so soft and doesn’t bother his skin too much.

He is also growing like a weed. My 5.5 month old is in 12 month old clothing (slow down please!) and I need a few more things for him to wear in that size. I loved the colors in these and felt they would go into spring well.

coveralls

Coverall Set (2 pack)

For the home

I also am getting a few things for the house. We need more Mrs. Myers hand soap. Basil is my favorite scent, so I am getting a refill of that. I am also getting Rosemary, which is a scent I tried at my friend’s house. (Select soaps are buy one get one 25% off!)

I bought these gorgeous stamps from the USPS. If you love sending notes, or having pretty stamps when you are paying the bills (because that job could always have more lovely things in it), GET THESE!

I am preparing for my first Whole30 and bought this spirializer off Amazon to give me more meal options. I also have my eyes on these two Corelle bowls. It seems like we always go through bowls first at my house!

Corelle Cereal Bowl (set of 6) and Corelle 28 oz. Bowl

I wish I were in the market for a rug, and if I were, it would be this one.

rug

Corbin Rug – Safavieh

For me

These work out capris and Francine River’s latest book The Masterpiece are the final items in my cart this weekend! (C9 Champion items at Target are 20% off with the code PRESDAY20)

work out pants

Freedom Mesh Insert Capri Leggings

What items have you had your eye on? Are you hitting any good sales this President’s Day? Feel free to share in the comments!

Elise

 

 

 

 

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My week…

Our week started off slow, since my husband wasn’t feeling well, so we stayed home Monday and Tuesday.

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On Wednesday, I had my second appointment with the fitness instructor at the YMCA. This time we did Crossfit type exercises such as burpees, box jumps, and wall balls.

Thursday was a slow day as well. It involved 16 episodes of the PJ Masks (trust me, it was not my choice). My 5 month old had his first tooth erupt, so he has been more clingy this week. He has more that are just under the surface as well!

Friday, we desperately wanted to do something, so we headed out to the Greenville Zoo, but it was closed for routine maintenance. So we played at Cleveland Park which is right across the street from the zoo. We went to Chick-fil-a for lunch…because where else would you eat! When we got back, I watched to a video by one of my favorite bloggers-Emily from Jones Design Company. Then, I made this blueberry dessert I found on Pinterest. It was really easy to make, which is what I was looking for! It tastes pretty good too. I wish the blueberry part was more a compote perhaps, but that would require more work.

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Today, I braved a local consignment sale with my kiddos. Unfortunately, my 3 year old wasn’t too thrilled about going shopping, and I didn’t find much in my price range. I did find a few outfits for my 5 month old, a dress from my niece, a puzzle, and some blocks to add to our toy collection. Now we are all cozy at home with a basketball game on. My 3 year old is playing with cars (as always) and my 5 month old is napping. I have a Modern Forestry candle burning-Pumpkin Streusel. (If you want a candle that won’t send toxins into the air in your home, these are the candles for you!)

What have you been up to this week?

Elise

 

 

What I’m Listening to…

I grew up in a musical family. My mom played piano for much of her life, played clarinet in high school and college, and teaches out for her home. My dad played clarinet in high school and college (now he plays with the Coker College band), was a band director for 15 years, and plays guitar. My sister plays the piano, majored in it, and sing. My sister and I both danced and while this doesn’t involve playing music, I feel it is still musical because it is about moving to music.

So, as you can see, it is in my blood to love music.

music

One of my favorite things to do is drive and belt out my favorite songs. Or get down to great songs with my kiddos at home.

Here are some songs I have purchased recently…and some that I have been listening to.

My favorite songs from the last season of The Voice (season 13):
I Pray by Red Marlowe
Total Eclipse of the Heart performed by Chloe Kohanski
You Got It performed by Chloe Kohanski and Blake Shelton
Tennessee Rain by Addison Agen

The Voice songs can be found only on iTunes.

Pop songs:
Don’t Wanna Know (feat. Kendrick Lamar) by Maroon 5
Sugar by Maroon 5
Perfect by Ed Sheeran
When We Were Young by Adele

Country songs:
The Guy with the Girl by Blake Shelton
Better Man by Little Big Town

Worship songs:
Broken Vessels(Amazing Grace) by Hillsong Worship
It Is Well (Live) by Bethel Music

Other songs:
To Make You Feel My Love performed by Mick McAuley and Winifred Horan
Deja Vu by Lauren Duski

Most of these can also be found on albums at Target. The rest can be found on iTunes.

I have a love/hate relationship with Taylor Swift. I own all her albums until Red. After that, I have simply bought the songs that are catchy and eventually wear me down from dislike them to love. With that being said, End Game is one from her new album I will probably buy.

Finally, Church Clap (feat. Lecrae) by KB is a fun song I purchased. I learned the dance to it and knew I had to own the song myself! Watch it here!

 

What are you listening to? I tend to get exposure to new songs through recommendation and So You Think You Can Dance. I would love to check out your favorites too!

My Tribe

When I was in high school, I had a few girls that I would hang out with on a regular basis, but over the years, we have naturally grown apart as our lives have taken us different places.

In college, I had a few friends, but never a group of girlfriends who I did everything with. I met my husband soon after transferring to my Alma Mater so most of my friends were OUR friends since we were together so much.

Fast forward to now…I am a mom of two little ones. My life revolves around cleaning, cooking, doing laundry, playing with my boys, and spending time with my husband when we can fit it into the day. But I still desperately need a community of women. Those ladies who I can go to on a rough day, who I can ask to pray for me, who I can laugh with, who I can cry with, who I can struggle with, and who I can celebrate with. Thankfully, through a community group at my church that started this year, I have found just that.

tribe

My tribe is not perfect of course…we are still getting to know one another. But I love spending time with them. We constantly update each other on our daily joys, trials, and funny moments. We pray for each other. And we get out and have fun together-just us girls.

So this is a shout out to MY TRIBE! Ladies, thanks for being a group of friends who constantly supports and encourages one another!

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Me (far right) and my tribe of girls before going to eat at Cazbah in downtown Greenville.

Who is your tribe? If you don’t have one, get one! Try striking up a conversation at the library story time, or with another mom at your gym? Guys, maybe you need to talk to the guy sitting next to you at work or reach out to some of your wife’s friend’s husbands. Community is not a girly thing, it is a Godly thing.

It’s right there in the FIRST chapter of Genesis:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
Genesis 1:26a

I am not here to debate the intricacies of the Trinity, but I feel that it is clear that this is at the heart of who God is – relationship and community. Community has been a part of God since the beginning, and He made it part of us from the moment His breath moved through our lungs. Adam never knew a world without relationship and community. He walked with God. Then, God gave Adam a constant companion in Eve, so he wouldn’t be alone.

Relationship is at the heart of who we are.

So…if you aren’t in community, think about it. It can be hard and scary. But on the hard days, the exciting days, the sad days…you have a group of someones who have your back.

New Goals for a New Year

With a new year, comes the opportunity to start fresh. Many choose to make resolutions, but I prefer to make goals. A goal has to be measurable and attainable. Resolutions are good-they are hopes and dreams-but frequently, they are only generic ideas. For instance: “I will eat better.” “I won’t spend as much money.” “I will be a kinder person.” These are all good things to want to do, but how do you know you are doing them?

goal

 

Goals work better for me because they provide a clear picture of my progress towards my dreams. So, without further ado, here are my 2018 goals.

Personal:
-Read twelve books
-Work out 2-3 times a week
-Learn a new skill
-Go on two getaways with my husband
-Blog once a week
-Complete a Whole30

Spiritual:
-Complete the Awaken devotional
-Read Scripture every day (no certain amount)

Financial:
-Save up a $500-1000 emergency fund
-Pay off one credit card
-Secure life insurance for Phillip

I made a bullet journal style goal page in my current journal to help me keep track of how I am doing on my different goals. It doesn’t look perfect, as my hand-lettering is still a work in progress, but it will be a fun way to keep up with my goals over the year.

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Here is a little bit more about each goal I am aiming for this year:

read twelve books
I have always loved reading. I remember keeping a book hidden behind my bed so I could sneak in chapters while I was doing my homework in my room. (sorry Mom!) I have a whole list of books I want to read, so I plan to include a mix of fiction and non-fiction books over the course of the year. When I get half of them done, I plan to do a separate post reviewing them.

work out 2-3 times a week
I danced my whole childhood, so I never had to think about being active. Now, after having two babies, I find that I am not as fit as I would like. I want to to be stronger and healthier. So, I used Christmas money to pay for a program at the YMCA called A New You (once again-I am just looking to be healthier) which provides me with an initial assessment, 6-7 personal training sessions and a final assessment. I am really excited to get some experience working out and have someone push me as I start this journey.

learn a new skill
I sometimes feel lost in motherhood. It isn’t that I don’t love my kids or that I don’t love being at home with them, but sometimes I feel like I have been consumed by being a mom. So this year, I want to learn to do something. I am considering learning how to use my DSLR camera or Adobe Illustrator, or maybe something else. I left this open-ended because I haven’t decided yet.

go on two getaways with my husband
Time away is especially important as the parents of two little ones. We don’t get space and time to ourselves much during the week, so these getaways are important times to be able to look in each other’s eyes and simply talk without interruptions or play games without fending off an enthusiastic three year old who wants to join in. We have talked about the plans for the first one in late March/early April. The other will probably be sometime in July/August.

blog once a week
I really enjoy writing, so I want to make a goal to work on this creative outlet. Hopefully, I will find fun and meaningful content to share with everyone. (If you have something you would like me to blog about, feel free to post in the comments.)

complete a Whole30
I have cut various foods out of my diet over the last few years, but I have never done a complete reset. I am interested to compare how I feel with it all out, and how different foods effect me as I add them back in. If you want to join me so I have a Whole30 buddy, let me know! I plan to share this journey on here whenever I start. (I am thinking March.)

complete the Awaken devotional
My dad got me this devotional for Christmas, and I am enjoying the little, but deep moments Priscilla has in her book.

read Scripture every day
I didn’t want to stress myself out by prescribing a certain amount, but I do want to challenge myself to be IN the Word more consistently. I haven’t succeeded over the past two weeks, but having the goal and doing it half the time is an okay place to start.

save up a $500-$1000 emergency fund
Ever since my husband lost his job a year and a half ago, we have been battling our credit card debt. It isn’t out of control or anything, but I would prefer to have NONE. The first step of this is having an emergency fund, so that we don’t feel like we have to turn to the credit card if a large, unexpected purchase comes up.

pay off one credit card
This goes with the one above. I want to pay both off, but I’m not sure that is a financially feasible this year. So if it happens awesome, but tackling just one is what I am shooting for.

secure life insurance for Phillip
I hope this doesn’t seem morbid, but if something were to happen to Phillip, I would have no option but to go back to work full-time immediately. So I want to get insurance which would allow me to live for a few years without making any major changes, if God decided to take him home.

What are some of your goals this year?

Books I’ve Been Reading…

I love to read, but I struggle with trying new authors. I am nervous that I will start a book, but then not jive with the story line or the author’s style. Then I have to choose whether I finish the story for closure or just not know how the story ends – and that is a hard choice to make. I could struggle through writing I don’t relate to, or leave the ending  out there just hanging and unfinished.

book quote
image from here

So, I went on Pinterest and scrolled through different pins of book recommendations. I wrote down the ones that sounded interesting based on the description and the pinner’s comments about why they liked the book. Maybe if you are like me and struggle with branching out in the book area, this list of books I have read recently will help you try some new authors.

1. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet

“Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.” (from the Amazon book description)

What I loved about this books is that it took me to a part of American history that I wasn’t very familiar with and wove a beautiful story in it. It bounces back and forth between the past and the present, but does so with clarity. I devoured this book!

2. Wonder

wonder

“August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid–but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Told from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others, these perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.” (from the Amazon book description)

I adored this book. Since it is a children’s book, it was an easy read, but brought me to tears none the less. It is a beautiful story of friendship, looking beyond appearances, and the resilience and strength of children. READ THIS and your kids should read it too! (The movie is coming out soon too!)

3. The Fill-In Boyfriend

the fill-in boyfriend

“When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she decides to do the unthinkable…convince the cute guy waiting to pick up his sister to pretend to be her boyfriend for the night. The task is simple: two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.
The problem is that days after prom, she can’t stop thinking about her fill-in boyfriend. But can Gia turn her fake boyfriend into a real one without exposing her lie and possibly destroying her friendships and her newfound relationship?
Smartly observed and wonderfully romantic, Kasie West’s talent shines in this tale of one girl’s unexpected quest to find love…and possibly herself.” (from the Amazon book description)

This was a wonderful young adult book. I find that many love stories in the young adult section can be inappropriate in regards to sexual content and language. Kasie West’s writing is clean, which I loved! This would make a good vacation read while lounging on the beach or on the porch in the mountains! I also read her other books By Your Side and The Distance Between Us which were good teen love stories without all the unnecessary stuff as well!

4. Lunch in Paris

lunch in paris

“In Paris for a weekend visit, Elizabeth Bard sat down to lunch with a handsome Frenchman–and never went home again.
Was it love at first sight? Or was it the way her knife slid effortlessly through her pavé au poivre, the steak’s pink juices puddling into the buttery pepper sauce? Lunch in Paris is a memoir about a young American woman caught up in two passionate love affairs–one with her new beau, Gwendal, the other with French cuisine. Peppered with mouth-watering recipes for summer ratatouille, swordfish tartare and molten chocolate cakes, Lunch in Paris is a story of falling in love, redefining success and discovering what it truly means to be at home. In the delicious tradition of memoirs like A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun, this book is the perfect treat for anyone who has dreamed that lunch in Paris could change their life.” (from the Amazon book description)

This book was a fun look at how cross-cultural love can be an amazing, though challenging adventure. It touches on love, career struggles, and the marvelous thing that is French cuisine. If you have never eaten French food, you certainly will want to find some (or cook some) after reading this book. She also has another book out called Picnic in Provence, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. It is on my list though!

5. After the War is Over

after the war is over

“After four years as a military nurse, Charlotte Brown is ready to leave behind the devastation of the Great War. The daughter of a vicar, she has always been determined to dedicate her life to helping others. Moving to busy Liverpool, she throws herself into her work with those most in need, only tearing herself away for the lively dinners she enjoys with the women at her boarding house.
As Britain seethes with unrest and post-war euphoria flattens into bitter disappointment, Charlotte must confront long-held insecurities to find her true voice . . . and the courage to decide if the life she has created is the one she truly wants.” (from the Amazon book description)

Historical fiction is by far one of my favorite genres to read. This book was no exception. It discusses class issues, the devastation of the war, and PTSD. If you like stories set against a historical backdrop, Jennifer Robson’s book is for you. I couldn’t put this one down!

6. Counting by 7s

counting by 7s

“Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.” (from the Amazon book description)

In this beautiful book, whose characters are kids who are amazingly talented and gifted, but struggle to fit in with their peers, you see how one girl who is exceptionally smart deals with grief and finally finds ways to connect with those around her. Once again, this was an easy read since it is a children’s book, but I loved it!

7. Two by Two

two by two

“At 32, Russell Green has it all: a stunning wife, a lovable six year-old daughter, a successful career as an advertising executive and an expansive home in Charlotte. He is living the dream, and his marriage to the bewitching Vivian is the center of that. But underneath the shiny surface of this perfect existence, fault lines are beginning to appear…and no one is more surprised than Russ when he finds every aspect of the life he took for granted turned upside down.” (from the Amazon book description)

Nicolas Sparks never fails to deliver a surprising story with relatable characters and situations. I adored this story about work, relationships, parenthood, and family. If you have never read Spark’s books, give him a try!

8. Talking as Fast as I Can

talking as fast as I can

“In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood reveals stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood—along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore once again.” (from the Amazon book description)

I listened to this audio book on my drive to and from family vacation. It was neat to hear Lauren Graham read the book, and it felt like we were chatting over big cups of coffee. This is perfect for a road trip or a long flight. Her wit and delivery are just as evident in this book as they are in Gilmore Girls and Parenthood. By the way, if you haven’t seen these shows, do so now. I’ll wait while you binge watch them. You’ll thank me later.

9. Once and For All

once and for all

“Is it really better to have loved and lost? Louna’s summer job is to help brides plan their perfect day, even though she stopped believing in happily-ever-after when her first love ended tragically. But charming girl-magnet Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged now that he’s met the one he really wants. Maybe Louna’s second chance is standing right in front of her.
Sarah Dessen’s many fans will adore this latest novel, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story with humor, romance, and an ending that is so much more than happily-ever-after.” (from the Amazon book description)

Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors. I have read every one of her books (except her first two which I didn’t prefer). I have also read most of them many, many times. I love her style and the way her characters struggle with things the rest of us have encountered. This one dealt with school shootings, divorce, and how losing love makes us jaded sometimes. If you have never read Sarah Dessen’s books, you should!

10. When God Doesn’t Fix It

when god doesn't fix it

“Worship leader and recording artist Laura Story’s life took an unexpected turn when her husband, Martin, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Their lives would never be the same. Yes, with God all things are possible. But the devastating news was that no cure existed to restore Martin’s short-term memory, eyesight, and other complications. The fairy-tale life Laura had dreamed of was no longer possible. And yet in struggling with God about how to live with broken dreams, Laura has found joy and a deeper intimacy with Jesus.” (from the Amazon book description)

I just started this one, but the Kindle version is still on sale on Amazon for $1.99, so I wanted to share it with you. I feel that this is one of the hardest parts of the Christian life, enduring struggles and trusting God even when your earthly circumstances don’t change.

I’d love to hear what are you reading! Share in the comments below!
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A Family Shaped By Grace

Have you ever spent a holiday with your family and wondered why it felt like such a chore? Do you find yourself walking on eggshells around certain family members because you aren’t sure how they might respond to you? Are there some people in your family that you avoid because being around them is too challenging?

If so, know that there is a better way, and it’s all about grace!

A Family Shaped by Grace is a new book coming out on June 6th that I have had the privilege of reading before it’s release. Gary Morland, the author, had a crumbling family. Finally, he got to the point where he wanted to do something different. His way wasn’t working. He started attending Bible study and met a man named Harold. This man would slowly, patiently love on Gary and teach him a better way to relate to and bless his family. This book is about the things he learned. They have helped him have a family shaped by grace instead of duty, anger, fear, or disappointment.

AFSG

What I love about this book is the practical ways Gary gives you to gently change how you view your family and how you relate to them. If you are at all invested in a family (which is everyone) or working with families in a professional way (teachers, pastors, counselors, social workers, etc.), this book is for you!

P.S.-Right now, the book is 40% off if you pre-order on Amazon or Barnes and Noble! Purchase your copy now if you want to get along with the people in your life who matter most!