Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Barefaced and Beautiful

Hi friends,

I want to talk to you today about something that is heavy on my heart. I want to talk to you about body image, self-esteem, and how they can impact all of our children, but most often our girls.

Growing up, I was horribly insecure about my body. My butt seemed too big, my skin was bad, and I've had "child bearing hips" since I hit puberty. My weight has always been a struggle. At the schools I grew up in your clothes and how they fit you might as well have been the be-all, end-all of your value as a person, or at least it felt that way.
(ridiculous, right?)

These insecurities have followed me into adulthood, which seems ridiculous. They are lies about my worth and appearance. I know that they are lies, but they still sneak around in the back of my mind.

I don't want that for my daughter.

She is beautiful. Not because I am her mother and will always think so. Not because she meets some standard for physical beauty, but because she is herself. She is exactly who God designed her to be, and that is beautiful.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well
Psalm 139:14

So, I am her today to stand up and say "enough"! In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, my friends Sarah, Sarah, Aleisha and I are showing our #BarefacedBeauty to the world! Messages of true beauty and worth need to start at home. We can't depend on "the industry" to teach our daughters these values, because they will lie to them. It starts with us, and it starts now.

To learn more about National Eating Disorder Awareness Week watch this video

Dove also has a wonderful #BeautyIs campaign that just released this video, "Selfie". It's wonderful, check it out! I love what Dove is doing to take steps towards changing industry beauty standards.

Are you going to join us? Show the world your #barefacedbeauty, and show them what real #beautyis!
You can find me here:

Be blessed!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Our Week in Pictures

Hey friends!

How was your week this week? We had a lot of fun. Are you on Instagram? Let's be friends! I'm its_alongstory. :)

On Sunday afternoon we went to Medieval Times to celebrate my sister's 23rd birthday. We go every year, which you would think is hilarious if you knew my sister. She's hip, and fashionable, but when it comes to fake jousting she is all. over. it! We go, we cheer, much fun is had by all.

Abbey was crowned the Queen of the Tournament by our knight! After each event the knights hand out flowers to girls in the audience. Just before the joust (the main event!) they hand out a banner like this one. It took Abbey a second to realize that this was better than a flower. Haha!

Who watched Sherlock on Sunday?? We have been waiting forEVer for it to come back, so we camped out on the couch with some popcorn and had a little date.

Both kids slept past 8 one morning this week! It was pretty much amazing. I actually got to make myself a cup of coffee and finish it before it was cold! I also got to sit down with my real bible and take real notes. Fantastic.

This guy turned 2 months old! Stop it. Stop it right now.

This is what happens when you get your sister's hand-me-downs. Pink diapers. Poor kid.

For some reason lately we have been eating an obscene amount of french bread. I decided to try my hand at making some myself, and I may never buy it from the store again! I used this recipe, and it was so good! I put my ice cubes in a pan, though. Throwing them on the bottom of the oven seemed risky!

That yummy bread turned into even yummier meatball sandwiches! Hooray for an easy Friday dinner!

I'm linking up with Jeannet!
life rearranged

Be blessed,

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Valentine's Day Cinnamon Rolls

What is it about breakfast? Maybe it's just me, but there is something so wonderful about blessing my family with a big breakfast. I think that so many of our mornings so quickly move to oatmeal and cereal that taking the time to do something more than that just feels special.

What better day for a special breakfast than Valentine's Day?

And what better for that breakfast than cinnamon rolls??

They're heart shaped! and pink! and they have sprinkles! Sounds pretty special to me.
They also couldn't be any easier which is always good.

Start by opening up the outer half of your cinnamon rolls. I used canned rolls, but you could absolutely do this with your favorite homemade recipe.

Roll that piece back on itself so that you have a heart.
Tip: pinch the bottom a bit to really emphasize the bottom. Otherwise it rounds out during baking and you lose that heart shape.

Bake according to the instructions. While they're baking, add a little food coloring to your icing. Again, I used what came with the rolls, but a simple powdered sugar icing would be great here.

Take the rolls out of the oven and let them cool a bit.

Add your icing, and throw on some sprinkles. You could have this ready when the kids get up, or use it as a fun chance to get them into the kitchen. This is definitely a recipe that kids can do!

Do you have a meal that is more special than others?
What are your Valentine's Day traditions?

Be blessed!

Linking up at:

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Our Week In Pictures

Life, Instagram style. Because things are better unscripted...

We had one of those days where it feels like you are in the car more than home. Abbey was a trooper so we stopped for a "special lunch" at Culver's.

She went up to the counter to get her own ice cream (they get coupons in the kids meal instead of toys). I have never seen her look so big and so little all at one time. It made my heart flip flop a bit.

Side note: Apparently they look more alike than I thought...
 Owen 7 weeks                     Abbey 3 months

This is my general uniform at the moment. Still in jammers, wearing Owen, doing school with Abbey, and trying to get things done in the in-between moments. It's exhausting, but I'm grateful to be able to do it!

Science lesson for the week: Borax snowflakes! Very fun and super easy!

Look how pretty!

We had lots of fun trying out a new play dough recipe from Kids Activities Blog. Only 2 ingredients! Not sure it will replace my favorite recipe, but I didn't have to cook it, and Abbey could play with it right away, so it's great!

Happy babies in footie jammers are the absolute best!

This kid is a chunk. Seriously, 13 lbs already?! I'm already packing up the 0-3 month clothes. Stop it, little boy! But, he's slept through the night for the last week, so I guess that's a fair trade!

A little sneak peak of something coming next week!

I'm linking up with Jeanett!
life rearranged

Be blessed,

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Growing Your Blog While Managing Your Home: Review and GIVEAWAY

This post contains affiliate links. I will earn a small commission on any purchases made through these links. Thank you for your support! I was also given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Hi friends!

Today I have something specifically for my blogging friends! If you're anything like me, you struggle trying to balance all the things that a successful blog requires, and all the things that a successful home requires. I've always thought that I just need someone to tell me what to do and when to do it!

You guys...this is that book!

A little bit about Jacinda:
Jacinda Vandenberg is madly in love with her editor and husband Brad, mother to three, a second-generation homeschooler, passionate homemaker, lover of coffee, and a writer at heart. She blogs at Growing Home, a site dedicated to holistic homemaking for the glory of God. When she's not teaching, reading, cooking, or gardening with her little sidekicks, you’ll probably find her scribbling away with one hand and holding a large mug of coffee in the other. Jacinda is the author of the 1777 New England Primer Alphabet Printables and a co-author of Homeschooling Day by Day and The Pursuit of Motherhood. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, or visit her home on the web.

So...Jacinda is basically everything I want to be! A homeschooler who is effectively running her home, blessing her family, and not tearing her hair out in the process...well, at least most days, I'm sure!

I had the incredible opportunity to read this book before it was released, and it is fantastic. Jacinda breaks things down so simply, and really makes them feel manageable. One things I know about myself is that I do better when I have a checklist. However, I'm terrible at making my own! This book absolutely helps me set priorities, and place them in the right order. We run our home from a Christian perspective, and this book aligns with that perspective beautifully. There is nothing like finding a mentor that is "doing life" the same way you are!

I love this little blog of mine, and I love having the privilege of keeping my home. However, when I'm inefficient at either of them, they both become more of a struggle than they should be. Then I'm not blessing anyone, least of all myself. I can't do my job well if I am frazzled and exhausted. My home is my job, and I would like this blog to be my job as well, so I need to learn how to not be frazzled and exhausted by the two of them.

What will you find in the book?
- How to create a schedule and set priorities
- Content and Design information
- Social Media help
- Monetization ideas
- Logistics and Legal info
For a full table of contents, click HERE!

If you are trying to find the balance between blogging and keeping your home, I cannot recommend this book enough. I know that it is going to be a resource that I refer to over and over again! Just about every question I have ever had is in this book, answered in a way that is easy to understand and apply.

Jacinda has been so generous and is offering a special introductory price! Until Saturday January 18th, the book is only $3.99! After that it goes up to it's full retail price of $7.99. Honestly, it's a deal at either price, but why not grab it while it is on sale? It is available in both Kindle and PDF versions, so it is easy to access for everyone!

Jacinda has also given me permission to give a copy away! Yippee! The giveaway is open through Friday, so go get your entries in!

To see Jacinda's other fantastic resources, click here to visit Growing Home.

Be blessed!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

#onelittleword 2014: Goals

Hey there friends!

Did you choose a word for the year? I really like a word rather than a resolution. It allows me to adjust throughout the year if need be, but still keep me focused and on track.

So here it is, my One Little Word for the year:

Yep, goals.

I've never been very good at them. I'm not good at making them, and I'm not very good at following through with them. Sure I can get things done, and I certainly have accomplishments that I am proud of, but I'm talking about the little day-by-day goals that, when you look back on them a year later, have completely changed your life.

I want to get better at those.

So, I'm choosing several areas that I would like to work on. Some will get monthly goals, while some are more long term. Every month I am going to come here and post my goals for the month, and update you on the previous month's progress. Yay,  accountability!

Here are the areas I am looking to improve:

1. Finances
This is definitely a long term goal. We have been working on getting out of debt, but money has been incredibly tight lately so we haven't made much progress. We haven't gone backwards, but we haven't really moved forwards either. We have 2 credit cards and 2 car payments right now, all of which are on schedule to be paid off by the end of the year. I would love to have them paid off sooner! I also want to save up a $1000 emergency fund. I will be starting a new part-time job soon (more on that later!) which will help a lot!

2. Home
I have talked about my housekeeping struggles here before. It's still a struggle. We are moving in a few weeks (just locally, to a new rental) and I am going to use that as an opportunity to create new habits! 

3. Personal
Self-care is important. I've discovered since Owen arrived that I am not particularly good at prioritizing it. When you can't remember the last time you went to the store by yourself, or painted your nails, or took time for your favorite hobby, or...showered...something is off. 

4. Blog
Yep, I have goals for this little space of mine as well. I like it, and if you are reading this, hopefully you like this too. I want to find ways to grow this space, stay true to my voice and my writing, but also use this space to help us meet our other goals. 

So, let's get going! I'm going to post these as tasks, since that's what they are. The tasks I need to do to get me to my goals!

January Tasks:
Create new "snowball plan" for remaining consumer debt.
     -We took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class a couple years ago, and it is fantastic! His              debt snowball plan is very helpful, and you really do see momentum! 

- Pack! This is a big one, and its going to take most of our time. 
     -Donations to charity
     -Sell any sellables 
     -Unnecessary items packed this week

- Get in the Word every day! It could be sitting down to study, or jumping on to one of my favorite apps, but    it needs to happen.
- Commit 1 hour a week to doing something fun for me. Ask for help with the kids if I need it!

- Read 2 books
     - Growing Your Blog While Managing Your Home by Jacinda Vandenburg

Did you choose a word for the year? What is it?
What are your goals?

Be blessed!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Congratulations, I'm so sorry.

"Congratulations! I'm so sorry."

It's a strange combination, right?

I've heard a lot of it lately.

If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably seen that our son Owen has made his way into the world. He's amazing, and we're thoroughly smitten!

You also probably saw something that I only hinted at in these pictures.

Those legs are my dad. On November 6th he flew home from Arkansas after a successful business meeting with WalMart. That evening, just as I was putting dinner in the oven, my sister called me saying that Dad had had a seizure, and was on his way to the hospital. Off we went.
We met the rest of my family at the emergency room. Dad had had several large seizures, and was still having smaller ones, despite medication. an MRI showed an "artifact" in his brain, but there were no answers. He was admitted to the Cardio/Neuro ICU at our local hospital, fully sedated and on a ventilator. Over the next two weeks he underwent countless tests, multiple MRIs, a wicked bout of pneumonia, and two brain biopsies. In those two weeks, his diagnosis moved from possible vasculitis, something easily treatable, to brain tumors, to advanced brain cancer: Glioblastoma Multiforme. The tumors seemed to grow before our eyes.

On November 19th, we went from discussing moving Daddy from a the ventilator to a trach tube so that he could come off of sedation to learning that our only real option was to take him off the ventilator all together and "keep him comfortable".

On November 20th, I went into labor.

On November 21st, Owen Robert was born.

On November 22nd, my dad died.

"Congratulations, I'm so sorry."

I remember telling a friend, as I was having my first contractions, that I didn't know how to do these two things at the same time. How do you do two things that so desperately do not go together?

I still don't know.

Life lately has been full of things that don't go together.

One of the best days and one of the worst days of my life.

New baby gifts at a wake.

"Congratulations, I'm so sorry"

Every 21st of the month we celebrate another month with Owen, and every 22nd we grieve another month without my dad. Those two days will always be connected in the saddest of ways. I was so afraid that somehow to joy of Owen's birth would be tainted by the loss of my dad. But you know what? It wasn't. This little bundle of perfect was exactly what we needed to get through the hardest days. Just having him settled on our chests made everything a little bit easier.

Grief is a funny thing. Some days are good, and some days I feel like it punches me in the face. I know that that is normal, and that we still have a long way to go on this journey. However, our grief gets to be balanced by joy, and that is something I am so thankful for. Sometimes things that shouldn't go together fit together perfectly. I don't know why these two things had to go together, but God does. I'm so glad to have Him walking beside us through this, because I have no idea where I'm going.

Be blessed,

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