Friday, January 10, 2014

My Favorite Posts of 2013

Now that we have listed the TOP 10 posts from 2013, don't mind if I list MY FAVORITES from the last year- they are posts that I either felt passionate about or inspired me on this blogging journey. 

This is where it all started... the blog and my journey into motherhood. This was my first post, and of course the one I feel most affectionate about because it is my story. 

This one was inspired by the teeny-boppers (yes, I said that) on Facebook that are constantly posting things like "you know he loves you when he plays with your hair" or "you're special to him when he lets you drive his truck". Let's stop feeding our girls and women lies about men, and let them be who God created them to be. 

This post has received quite a bit of traffic- I think it's because she has lots of friends! Not only was it was my speech at her wedding, but it was also somewhat of a goodbye letter as she moved to Japan just a few weeks after her wedding. She is still there and will be for at least another year or two- hoping to see her soon!

This may have been my favorite post (and my favorite event) of the entire year! It was so much fun to reach out, surprise, and invest in others. As an adult now, birthdays can be strange and disappointing. If you do anything new this year, I encourage you to try this! It's totally worth it!

Just a little note from how I was feeling one day. This should give you some insight into the heart of a mother.

This one is special to me because it's to Piper (duh) and it was written the morning of the Boston Marathon tragedy. Boston is special to our hearts as my mother-in-law lives there and we are BIG Red Sox fans (or,World Series Champs, should I say!). I constantly question bringing up my girl in this world, and here is where it started. 

I love this one because it is NOT about me! It's about women laboring with their husbands. Just pictures, no names. So powerful. Thanks to all the mamas who sent over their pictures. 

My own journey though breastfeeding, formula, and donor milk. Another example of the ways that so many women blessed me during my first year of motherhood. 

This post was months in production and thought through a TON. I hope it spoke to some hearts out there- regardless of whether you're a mother or not!

  Filled with picture's from our baby girl's first birthday party, and lots of life lessons learned both the easy and the hard way! 

Well, there it is! Here's me. Welcome to 2014. 
I look forward to walking through life with you this year.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Top 10 Posts of 2013

 Welcome to 2014... How has your year been so far? I'm jumping back onto the blogging bandwagon. I thought it would be neat to look through my posts from the last year and write on my most popular ones. And yes, after I wrote this I realized that I have the top 10 on the left side of my blog.... oh well! It's still fun to post it and have some readers come by something they may not have seen earlier.

I will say that I was surprised by the Top 10. They're not necessarily my favorite posts or even the ones I thought would have the most traffic- I guess Pinterest really ups the number with the DIY projects! Whatever your reason for reading, I would love to hear if one of these (or another post) inspired you in the last year! That's why I do what I do!

A post I wrote as my heart cried out in grief after hearing of Brad's accident.

My Matron of Honor speech and goodbye letter to my baby sister.

3. Being Deeply Loved By Someone Gives You Strength...
A collection of couples laboring together. Lots of photos and very few words. The photos tell the story.
A great collection of herbs, remedies, and treatments 

Trying to eat 'cleaner'? These babies are a lifesaver- and yummy too!

6. Our First Refurbishing Project- The Kitchen Table!
What a task this was, and something that we had never done! It was worth it in the end. 

7. Lemongrass Spa- Products Review and Giveaway!
What a GREAT company and a GREAT product. Happy to say I own quite a few of these now!

One of my favorite posts! These shelves were so easy and are so beautiful. I even made some for my sister-in-law as her Christmas present!

9. The Postpartum Body (Weight Loss and More)
Feeling down about your body after baby? You're not the only one. 

10. My Scars and Flaws
A look at the scars and flaws on my body that make me who I am. Hopefully this will help you to respect and love your body, no matter who you are.

Did you love any of these? Did you try any of them? What was your favorite? Let's hear from the people who made these the most popular posts of 2013! And stay tuned- I'm working on my FAVORITE posts from the last year as well!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

5 Years of Marriage (and 10 Lessons I've Learned)

 Hi Friends! Well, it's been awhile... how were your holidays? I hope you ate too much, got new toys, and spent LOTS of time with the people you love. That's what I was doing, and that's my excuse for not blogging in awhile. And I don't feel bad about it!

But today.... today is a special day. Today is the day (5 years ago) that I put on a fabulous white gown.

 Today is the day that I couldn't tell if I was shivering from nerves or the cold weather.

Today is the day that I walked down an "aisle" towards the man (or boy... 21 years old!) who I would promise to love forever.

Today is the day that I shared my first laughs and first tears as a married woman.

 Today is the day that I committed to one man, before God and our families, to love, respect, and live life with him until the end!

 Today is a day to CELEBRATE!

And what a rewarding 5 years it has been! Not easy (I will NEVER tell you marriage is easy), not always fun (but it is fun A LOT), and totally worth every fight.

I put together a little list of many of the biggest lessons that I have learned during these 5 years. I won't call myself a seasoned pro, but I'd like to think that I understand a thing or two about marriage. Maybe you have also learned these things in your relationship, or maybe you can learn them now from my failures! Either way, I count that as success. I will always share my struggles and lessons if it can bring comfort, healing, or understanding to another person. Then, my job is done! Anyway. here goes.... (P.S. these are in no particular order).

1. Always say 'yes' unless there is a good reason to say 'no'. And I'm not really talking about the bedroom here, but you can take it how you want. I used to be the queen of "NO". I had this idea in my head that as soon as we got married, we were supposed to hermit up, stay in bed all day, not talk to anyone, and spend every waking moment together. Well friends, I was wrong. I think I suffocated my poor husband by this. It took me awhile to realize that I had no reason for my 'no's. Why couldn't friends come over and play board games? Why couldn't we go out to lunch? Why couldn't we purchase that thing we already had money for? Why couldn't he spend ONE night with the guys?
I slowly learned that it was okay to have our own friends and spend some time apart. In fact, it was healthy and we both enjoyed it so much, that we missed each other and couldn't wait to be together again! It took me awhile to realize that I had no reason for my 'no's. Now when my husband comes to me to ask something, I mull it over and usually say "Yeah I guess, because I have no reason to say no!". And then I mean it and stick to it. It brings so much freedom!

2. Don't watch love movies. I will spare you the boring details of this and send you over to the post I wrote on this a few months back. Basically, romantic movies put unrealistic expectations on our men to be something that they are not and can never be. Love your man for who he is. And go read the post.

3. Nothing seems too big when you're together. Cheesy, I know. But I have found it to be oh so true from our experiences. The first one that comes to mind is my 4 DAY LABOR (you read that right), and how it truly strengthened and changed our marriage. Daniel was awake every moment that I was during that labor, and although he didn't feel the pains, he constantly was whispering encouraging words, pressing his fists into my back, holding me up, or breathing with me. Without his presence, I would have given up much earlier. Now as we live life together, I find that when I'm with him, I don't feel as scared or worried, because I trust him. 

4. When baby comes, let it change you. We had a very difficult time last year when our first child was born. We were trying to hold onto our previous life (late nights, vacations, few responsibilities), and it threw us (me) into what felt like a depression. I longed for our "old" life and how easy it was. Once I finally let go of my selfishness and was able to focus on my new life and the littler person that we had made, everything changed. I began to see new layers of my husband that I had never seen- layers that changed diapers willingly, rocked the baby to sleep, and stared at her in the dark. He was now a father. There is not a time in our relationship that I felt more bonded and attracted to my husband than when we watched each other become parents. I know he feels the same because he has told me. Our new life is different, but it's so full of joy. Just last night my husband said "having a baby is alot different than I expected. It's harder than I expected, but it's also so much more fun than I ever thought it could be". Well said, babe.

5. Agree to disagree on things that are not deal-breakers. As the children in my family became teenagers, we would often sit around and play "deal-breaker". Each person takes a turn and says something that would be a deal breaker in a relationship for them- everything from smoking to Hobbit feet (I can't stand Hobbit feet!!!). While it was all done in fun, deal-breakers are serious. When your spouse does something that you are not fond of and you get in a fight, ask yourself "is this a deal breaker?". If it's not, you will probably make up soon and be fine, so no need to let it blow up and get really bad. We've had enough of these to start recognizing when we can just agree to disagree and walk away from the subject.

6. Your spouse is not the enemy. My mother has told me this since as early as I can remember. I try to remember this when we are fighting. The enemy is the devil, not my husband, and the enemy seeks to "kill and destroy" anything he can, and we must fight against this. He will try to turn us against each other, so it is SO important to remember who the REAL enemy is.

7. Don't spill your problems on social media. I see MANY women do this. And it drives me crazy. Not only do your friends NOT want to hear about your fights and problems, but it is completely betraying your husband. DO NOT embarrass or belittle your spouse in front of others. In the end, it really solves no problems and tells all of your friends your private business and makes people think your marriage is on the edge, when it may have just been a heated argument. I am in no way saying to put up a facade and be something that you are not, I'm just begging you to stop writing it online. If you really need help or to tell someone, go to close friends, family, or invest in some marriage counseling. Your Facebook friends are not the best counselors.

8. Divorce is a reality. In 5 short years of marriage, we have already watched a few of our friend's marriages fall apart. Recently, a very close friend told me that it should be much harder to get married because then people would think twice about doing it. She also said that divorces are just too easy- the legal side of it, that is. In order to have a strong marriage and fight against the enemy, we have to understand the obstacles. If we never say the word 'divorce' and never have it as an option, it seems as if it can easily sneak up on you. I KNOW that divorce is an option, and therefore I have to choose to NOT allow it into my relationship.

9. Sometimes you have to go to bed angry. Another one that people may not agree with, but we love this statement. When we got married, many people told us "never go to bed angry", but we found quickly that our fights would last into the wee hours of the morning and we would both be exhausted, emotional, and be so off track from where the fight first started. All because we were trying not to go to bed angry and solve the disagreement before we did. STUPID! We discovered that if we just said goodnight and went to bed, we woke up refreshed, renewed, not (as) angry, and we could really take on the problem in a more logical way. When you stay up too late fighting, you are too tired and distracted to really fight fair. Now when we have a disagreement, we usually just go to bed and in the morning it either doesn't matter anymore, or we can talk about it more rationally.

8. The best is yet to come. Last weekend we had a getaway staycation for our anniversary and we talked and talked about how much we love our marriage where it is right now. We feel like we are the happiest and strongest that we have ever been, and we are so thankful for that! If this is where we are after 5 years, I can't wait to experience 25 and 50! Stick with it and put in the work - it is so worth it.

Happy 5 year Anniversary, Daniel. The best is yet to come.