Thursday, January 26, 2017

Loving Lately...

I haven't written one of these posts in AGES and thought it'd be fun to write one again--from products to plans, here's a little bit of what I'm loving lately: 

Gizmo gadget. Winner, winner, chicken dinner. This was recommended by a friend as a great gift idea for Banks, and we were SO excited that Santa brought it to him for Christmas! This is no ordinary watch: it has a GPS system, which means anywhere Banks goes, I can track him using an app on my phone. This has significantly decreased my parent anxiety whenever he asks to venture off around the neighborhood for playdates. It also allows for the parent to program in ten phone numbers. For Banks, this includes his parents, grandparents, and several aunts/uncles. The beauty of the calling feature is that anytime someone calls him on his watch (like me, telling him it's time to head home from a playdate) it automatically goes on speaker phone. This means that other parents who are around him can hear if I am telling him to come home, etc. It also allows for short text and voice messaging to the ten contacts programmed into the watch. So. Long story short, I HIGHLY recommend this product! (Oh, and Santa found ours on Groupon for a great deal; so, I would check there first!).

Micro mini. Speaking of Christmas gifts, Harrison received this type of scooter, which was recommended by a neighbor, and he LOVES it! It is a nice step up from the Radio Flyer we first introduced him to. This thing has great stability and rides smoothly, perfect for preschoolers!

Ikea beam and mat. And one last gift idea for anyone in search of something fun but not too pricey. Raleigh is really into gymnastics, and we knew we wanted to get her a beam and tumbling mat for her birthday but without dropping the hundreds of dollars these items typically cost. Enter IKEA. We found her beam there for $59.99 and her mat for $34.99. I will say, if she continues to pursue gymnastics, we will likely, eventually, buy up, but for now, these IKEA products are perfect for our girl!

This Is Us. Do I even need to mention this show here? I mean, if you aren't already watching I just don't understand why not! ;) The story lines are so interesting, emotional, and complex, and I look forward to watching them each week. Definitely the best new show of the season!

As a way to kick off the new year, my hub and I committed to refrain from drinking any alcohol for 30 days, which started the day after the TIGERS WON THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP (clearly, I need to re-state that fact every chance I get). Anywho. I take absolutely zero credit for sticking to our commitment. No sirree Bobtail. I have tried to quit multiple times--I just so enjoy an adult beverage at the end of the day! But. My hub is Mr. Self-Control and has been extremely inspirational in sticking this thing out to the end. Nonetheless, I still want something fun to sip on at the end of the day. So, I am sticking it out with him. Some days, it's been hot tea. Others, it's been Becks non-alcoholic beer. But also? "Wine" and "champagne" from a line called Fre. While the reviews on the red were bad enough to keep me from purchasing it, I have tried their White Zin and this bubbly, and both are not bad at all!

Mild winter weather. Yes, I am DEFINITELY loving the mild winter we have been having this year. Although I love a good snow day, one is enough for me. Otherwise, I'll take 70 degrees and sunny anytime! When these days hit, we take full advantage, enjoying ice cream treats outside and playing under the sun as much as we can!

NOT planning a party. Now, don't get me wrong: I love throwing parties...well, kids' parties. But for me, they tend to be a bit time-consuming. So, this time of year is nice, when I have a few months between my kiddos' birthdays to enjoy NOT planning a party. :)

Baking. After my Christmas break from baking, my kitchen has been up and running again, all in the name of adoption fundraising. I've had a few fun orders lately and have several more planned for the month of February. Even more exciting? I will be baking cookies as part of an upcoming photo shoot for Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Eeek!!! I am so excited to see a little #docmommabakes action in print! Stay tuned... :) Meanwhile, here are a few shots of some recent orders:

Deer head silhouettes on wood paneling for a baby shower:

Gymnast silhouettes for my girl's 5th birthday party

Nail polish bottles and sprinkled 4s for a cutie's spa party

Comparison Trap. I just cannot tell y'all enough how much I am loving, and learning from, my women's online devotional group, based on the book Comparison Trap by Sandra Stanley. It has just been so incredibly inspiring to see so many women come together to authentically share their truths and their struggles and then gain support from so many. I love it so much! Even if you opted out of participating in the group, I still could not recommend the book any more highly. It is a quick read each day (maybe 60 seconds?), for 28 days, and it will absolutely change you, in the best possible way, I promise. <3

Lash Boost. Yes, I am an R+F consultant (who isn't these days?! ;). No, I won't take over your social media feeds with my ads. Yes, I will URGE you to give Lash Boost a try (preferably through yours truly--to help fund our adoption). No, I don't endorse all R+F products. Yes, this is one that actually, truly works...and I mean WORKS (I cannot tell you how many people have commented on my lashes since I began using it!). No, this isn't the result of using expensive mascara. I have been using buy-in-the-grocery-store mascara and these are the results (with the SAME mascara shown in the pics). Let me know if you want to give it a whirl!

And another "after" photo. 

Making fun plans with friends. Eeeek!!! I am so excited for the next few months! I have a super fun girls trip coming up in just two short weeks--hip, hip, hooray!!! And we also have several couple-friend trips coming up at the start of the summer. Although I love me some family time, I love me some friend time and NEED me some friend time, too; so, I cannot wait for all these fun plans! Bring.It.On.

Friday nights on the couch. Sunday nights on the couch. Weekends are my happy place. And my favorite weekends are those that start on Friday nights, with my hub and I side-by-side on the couch as we watch Shark Tank or Dateline and fall asleep 20 minutes in-ha! And then, our weekends always, ALWAYS end with the five of us crowded on to our tiny, two-seater couch, watching America's Funniest Videos. Just the BEST.

Whelp. That's all she wrote! Oh, wait. I am also loving that we are just one day away from the weekend. TGIalmostF, y'all! Enjoy the rest of your week. :)

Friday, January 20, 2017

Cheers to the Weekend, Hibernation Edition

Man, I love me some Friday. And this one is no different! Aside from Banks' basketball game tomorrow, we have ZERO plans (again!), and I have to say, I am quite happy about it. After the crazy busy-ness the holidays bring at the end of each year, I tend to find myself "hibernating" throughout January (and really, usually most of February). I just sort of need a break from the social scene, and it is refreshing to just not do anything for a change, ya know? But soon after, I'll get restless and we'll kick things back up a notch again. :) But. Not this weekend. This weekend, we hibernate. 

Here's what I'm saying CHEERS to today before I re-enter my hibernation:

Gymnastics. As of last week, Raleigh is now a part of what is called the "Pod Squad" at gymnastics, which means we are now there two afternoons a week. As long as she continues to love it, we'll continue to do it. And love it, she does! 

That also means for my boys, they will be spending more time at the gym as well. But so far, they don't seem to mind too much. :) And it is so nice to have Banks there, as he often wants to walk around and take care of Harrison so I can really watch my girl doing what she loves. 

Women supporting women. A couple of weeks ago, I felt this nudge. It was quite persistent. So I listened. And put an idea out there into the world: Hey Women of the World! You know how we all compare ourselves to one another weekly, daily, HOURLY (especially now, thanks to the awareness that social media brings!)? And you know how we compare ourselves to one another when it comes to, well, everything (our spouses; our children; our parenting; our marriages; our beauty; our bodies; our careers; our homes; our friendships; our faith; our lives; our EVERYthing)? What do you say we work together to stop doing that? 

I posted on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to join an online devotional I would lead, lasting 28 days and based on Sandra Stanley's book Comparison Trap. I was nervous that I would look like a big, fat failure if no one wanted to join in; so, I immediately texted my sister and a friend and basically said, "Hey! Will y'all do this with me? Even if no one else wants to join?" And then I waited. 

Y'all. God nudged 541 other women. They ordered the book and joined the private Facebook page. And we dove in. 

I cannot BEGIN to tell you how amazing it has been so far, 11 days in. Women from all over the country have been sharing their real, raw, vulnerable stories. We've been sharing our truths, things we've never admitted to other people. And a funny thing has started to happen...the comparison trap is losing it's power over us. New, supportive relationships have formed, and it is bringing about change, real change. It is truly a God thing. I am so proud of this group and so proud to see what the next 19 days bring for the 542 who listened to the nudge and said, "Yes!" to stepping outside of our comfort zones, putting aside the REEL, and getting REAL.  

Financial class. Y'all ever heard of Dave Ramsey? You know, the financial guru who is all about getting families out of debt so that they can live like they never have and give like they never have? Yeah, that guy. My hub and I are currently taking his 9-week course, called "Financial Peace University," which is taking place at our church and being facilitated by my hub's mentor. We finished up Week 2 this week, and while I initially only agreed to do this out of kindness for my hub, it has been incredibly eye-opening and awesome so far!!! I am actually now EXCITED for the next seven Tuesday nights, from 6:30 to 8:00. I can't wait to see the financial changes we make, and benefits that ensue, after completing the course. If it is offered at a church near you, I highly recommend it!

Aunt Lu duty. Lastly, I was on kiddo care overdrive this week, as I took care of my adorable 2-year-old niece and 8-month-old nephew for two days while my sister took care of some business. In other words, my house has been a total CIRCUS for the last two days, and while exhausting to care for four littles ages 5 and under (while my big, 7-year-old helper did his thang at school), it sure was fun!!! I just adore spending time with all of my nieces and nephews, so this was a real treat for ol' Aunt Lu. <3

And on that note, TGIF, y'all! I hope you enjoy your weekend, whether you choose to hibernate or paint the town red. Have a good one! For now, it's Lu Crew, out!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Flipping Into Five! : Raleigh's Gymnastics Party

We capped off our celebration of our sweet girl turning one-whole-hand over the weekend, and boy did we have fun! Because Raleigh is so into gymnastics right now, it was a no-brainer to have her party at the place she takes gymnastics, and we were so excited that all 11 of her sweet guests were able to join her. Here, a recap of our 5-year-old's birthday party fun!

First up, the birthday girl!

I designed this leotard and asked Kristen, of Kas Dance Customs on etsy to create it for my girl. Y'all. If you are looking for a custom leotard, this is the place to go! Kristen was so, so kind and so easy to work with and didn't hesitate to make the design come to life (and it is now available in her etsy store, in a variety of colors)! 

Next up, the party details! 

The invitation. My friend Amy of One Good Name (another awesome etsy store!) designed the invitation, and I just loved how cute it turned out (It was a front/back invitation): 

The decor. Although I love throwing kids parties, I don't love spending tons of money on them; so, I save where I can by re-purposing things I already have and creating printables and cutouts with my trusty Silhouette. Because Raleigh's favorite color is pink, we used it everywhere in her decor! For the main table, I incorporated lots of shades of pinks in lots of different patterns for the table runner, placemats, centerpieces, mason jar cups, straws, plates, and napkins. 

I also cut out a couple of gymnast silhouettes (which were used in several others places throughout the party) and used them to top a couple of simple flower arrangements.

The food. Because the party was from 2:00 to 3:30, and the girls would be playing their hearts out for most of that time, I kept the menu simple: sweets!, in the form of cookies and cupcakes. I've been doing so much baking for so many others as part of our adoption fundraising efforts, so it was fun to get to bake cupcakes and cookies for our own use!

The favors. In keeping with the gymnastics theme, each girl was given a medal cookie and a ribbon wand. Both were big hits with the sweet girls!

The fun! The girls had an hour to run wild all over the gym--from the beam to the bars, from the trampoline to the pit, they didn't stop moving the entire time!

After their hour of showing off their best gymnastic tricks, we came into the party room for cookies, cupcakes, and pink lemonade...and a couple of group photo opportunities, of course. 

And that was that! We had so much fun that Raleigh didn't even have time to open her gifts during the party. Luckily, we were joined at home by Banks (who missed the party as a result of having a basketball game at the same time) who was able to partake in helping Rals with her gifts. And then they played the rest of the day with her fun new toys

We sure had fun celebrating our girl and can't wait to see what this year brings for her. Happy 5th Birthday, sweet Raleigh Jane!