Monday, October 20, 2014

I promised pictures...

... from last weekend's reunion adventure, so I am delivering.

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Just imagine me begging Micah to come outside to take my picture. He finally relents, and comes to the back, and we close the garage door. I start to pose and he laughs at me.

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As I'm doing my best to be creative and nonchalant, I hear the sound of children giggling. It gets louder, and I see that a family from down the street (who we haven't met yet -- worst neighbors EVER) is taking a stroll down the alley and coming our way. There's no time to pretend like we're doing anything other than what we're doing, so I just owned it and continued smiling for the camera. Thankfully they had mercy and avoided eye contact as they walked by. The whole thing lasted maybe five seconds, but it felt like an eternity.

... and that's why I'll never be a fashion blogger.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Confessions...

It's Friday, and I'm in a confessing sort of mood.

One. I confess that we survived Micah's ten-year high school reunion on Saturday.
And in a way, it was kind of like my high school reunion because we didn't make it to mine last year. Since we went to school together, there were so many people I loved seeing. I made Micah do a pre-reunion photo shoot of my outfit which turned SUPER awkward when our neighbors were taking a stroll down the alley with their kids just as I was posing in front of my garage door. This is why I'll never be a fashion blogger. (Or maybe it's because I'm not that fashionable.) I'll post those pictures next week, and you can picture my mortification as you look at them.

Two. I confess that I've eaten like crap the last few days.
Well, not total crap. Breakfasts have been on point, per the usual, but I had pad thai for lunch on Monday, chips and queso at lunch yesterday, and a chicken wrap and a salted caramel dessert shot at a plated luncheon event today (not totally my fault, but I didn't have to inhale the pudding like it was the last thing I'd ever eat). Dinners have also been pretty solid, so I suppose it could have been worse. It's hard finding a balance between giving myself some grace and allowing myself to slide down the slippery slope of justifying my bad choices by reasoning that I "deserve" whatever delicious thing I want to eat.

Three. I confess that I've gotten Grace's Halloween costume all picked out.
But I'm keeping my lips zipped on what she's going as because it's just going to be too darned darling, and I don't want to spoil it for you guys.

Four. I confess that I'm addicted to ThredUp.*
I am IN LOVE WITH THIS FREAKING WEBSITE. It's essentially an online consignment store, so you're getting pre-owned stuff that's all in excellent shape for ridiculous prices. I love that you can sort by size, brand, style, and they even have a whole separate tab for designer pieces. They've got every brand you can think of, from Old Navy to Prada. I got this $130 Michael Kors dress for the reunion (I ended up wearing something else because it was slightly too dressy) for less than $30.

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It arrived just as pictured in perfect condition.

And I just ordered this $300 DKNY trench for $35. It should be arriving in the mail any day now, and I'm ridiculously excited.

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If you love a good deal but hate sifting through consignment stores like I do, check it out.

That's about it for today, gals. What do you have to confess today? Link up with Leslie and tell us!


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* As usual, ThredUp has no idea who I am and has not compensated me or given me free stuff for promoting their site. I just love it. But this is an affiliate link, so I'll get credit if you make purchases through it. But, dude, just go through the regular website and take a look around if the referral link freaks you out. You'll love it.

October...

I get a lot of emails from people wanting me to promote their businesses/blogs/products here. (Which is just hilarious to me because this blog is so very small.) I always ignore them because I'm not interested in telling you guys about anything that I don't really believe in or feel strongly about.

But Heather's email was different.

Heather is a survivor of mesothelioma. If you're unfamiliar with the disease, mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that attacks the lining of the body cavity called the mesothelium (in the most common type of mesothelioma, this is located in the lungs). 

The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, which is an insulation material that was used formerly in industrial settings such as naval shipyards, power plants, railroad infrastructure, and other industrial jobsites until it began to be regulated in 1989. Workers in these settings inhaled the asbestos fibers and also brought them home on their clothes. Heather got cancer because she used to wear her father's work coat to do outside chores as a child. Many wives of sailors got mesothelioma simply from washing their husbands' clothes.

Heather emailed me because October is National Healthy Lung Month, and she is working with bloggers to help raise awareness of this disease and its causes. It's sort of fortuitous that she emailed me, in particular, because I am somewhat familiar with the disease, having worked in college at a law firm that represents mesothelioma victims. And so I know that only 40% of mesothelioma patients survive the first year after treatment.

So I'm writing today to tell you about asbestos and mesothelioma because asbestos still has not been completely banned in the United States. And so while its use has been mostly discontinued because of its carcinogenic effects, it can still be found in some structures and buildings today. Symptoms associated with mesothelioma are also generally found in those who have lung cancer, including dry cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

You can learn more about asbestos exposure and mesothelioma here. And, in terms of overall lung health, you can help keep your lungs healthy by avoiding air pollution and exposure to toxic substances, and by not smoking tobacco.

Happy National Healthy Lung Month, friends. As I'm sure Heather would tell you, if you have healthy lungs, don't take them for granted, and do all you can to help keep them that way.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Paying it forward...

Remember how I told you guys that I won the diet bet I entered last month? (Even though I forgot to tell y'all that I entered in the first place...)

I found out that my winnings total nearly $60. (The buy-in was $35.) And I was telling a friend at work (shout out, Meredith!) that I wanted to try and find a way to pay it forward to others who may need a source of motivation. Because, seriously, you guys. I could never adequately convey how much your support has motivated me to keep going on the hard days. And though I'll never be able to really repay you for what you've done for me, I wanted to make a gesture anyway.

So here's what I came up with.

I'm giving away three copies of It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.* 

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This book was the thing that convinced me that I needed more than a diet. I needed more than weight loss. I needed to change the way I eat, and I needed to change the way I look at food.

So if you're where I was just a few months ago, desperate for a change and unsure how to get there, this book is for you.

I don't want to deal with a complicated giveaway today, because this is not at all about increasing my blog readership or numbers. This is about YOU! And how much I adore you all.

So the first three people to comment below win.

That's it.

(Just make sure and include your email address below so I can get a hold of you.)

Love you guys.

* This isn't sponsored by Whole30 or the Hartwigs. Like, at all.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fall and other things...

It's fall, friends. I mean, yesterday, it was still in the mid-90s here in north Texas, but I'm declaring it fall anyway. Bring on the sweaters and pumpkin everything, even if I'm still sweating every time I walk outside.

And although this season change has brought with it a bout of wicked allergies and near-loss of my voice (I seriously sound like a man), I'm excited. And when I'm excited, I like to talk about the things I'm excited about. Here are other, non-fall things I'm excited about.

{Hue leggings}

I had been hearing fabulous things about these Hue wide waistband leggings from Nordstrom, so I bought a pair during the anniversary sale a couple of months back. 

Y'all, I am obsessed. They're slightly pricier than an average pair of leggings, but the wide waistband makes them SO comfy and eliminates the dreaded muffin top. I loved them so much that I bought these Ponte knit leggings which I actually love even more. These are thicker and have pockets on the back, so they could be worn even with tops that don't totally cover your derriere. (I realize some of you could never and will never be on board with leggings as pants, but these leggings really are like pants. Trust me. Come over to the dark side. We're pretty comfy over here.)

{Winning my diet bet}

I just realized that I never even posted about joining Mama Laughlin's diet bet a month ago. #bloggerfail 

Essentially, a group of people each paid $35 to buy into the bet, and we all had 30 days to lose 4% of our body weight. Everyone who meets their goal gets to split the pot.

I joined on a whim and didn't really expect it to be a motivating thing for me, but it really was. It was in the back of my mind, and when I wanted to grab a cookie or donut at work, I'd remind myself that I had to weigh in soon. And I made myself share it on Instagram so that I'd have some accountability, as well. 

Anyway, I lost a few pounds more than was actually required and ended up dropping 11 pounds in 30 days. Insane.

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{This mustard cardigan}

I've been dying for a mustard cardigan for, like, a year now. So when I found this one at Target, I snatched it up faster than I'd like to admit. (I'm fairly certain I actually squealed in delight.)

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(It's funny, I remember finding these boots two years ago at Lane Bryant and being so excited that I could zip them up. Now they're so big around my calves, they border on ridiculous. I had to buy new boots.)

What are you guys excited about this week?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What I'm eating: breakfast

When I was trying to figure out how I could motivate myself to make a lifestyle change, I had a love/hate relationship with healthy living bloggers/Instagrammers. On the one hand, I loved seeing how other people were changing their lives, and I rooted for them to succeed. But on the other hand, I wanted to be making progress myself. And every time I saw someone achieve a goal or make a healthy choice, I was reminded that I wasn't.

But ultimately, I did decide to make a change, and I really feel like I was motivated by others who were willing to share their stories and struggles and tips. 

And so, as I've been getting so many emails and comments asking for tips and pointers and recipes, I figured I'd do series on what I'm eating these days. You can find even more Paleo/Whole30 recipes on my Paleo Eats Pinterest Board. And I highly recommend The Paleo Kitchen cookbook, as well as Juli's blog PaleOMG

Today, we're talking breakfast.

I eat one of two things in the mornings during the week because it's easy, and I like predictability. 

2 hard-boiled eggs cut into quarters and drizzled with Louisiana Hot Sauce + big handful kale + big handful cherry/grape tomatoes + small handful of nuts (or 1/2 avocado)
OR
2 hardboiled eggs + green smoothie (recipe below)

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I always hard-boil eggs three days at a time at night after Grace goes to bed and put my kale/tomatoes/nuts in baggies so they're handy to grab and go in the morning. (I take it all with me and eat at work.) I make the smoothies on mornings that Grace sleeps a little longer than usual because they're more time-consuming.

On the weekends, we usually do something a little more fun.

Scrambled eggs + salsa + avocado + bacon (I pull my eggs out and then add cheese for Micah and Grace)
Paleo Pumpkin Waffles (these turned out better as pancakes for us) + bacon 
Sweet Potato, Apple, and Bacon Hash (this is still one of my favorite recipes)

Even on the weekends, though, I make myself eat a big handful of kale or spinach because I feel like I need it, and also because it makes me feel hardcore. Ha.

My Go-To Green Smoothie
1/2 banana (fresh or frozen. I usually freeze bananas when they start to turn brown, and this is the perfect way to use them up.)
1/4 to 1/2 cup berries (blueberries and strawberries are perfect)
2 T. unsweetened coconut milk
2 T. water
1/2 cup ice
1-2 cups kale/spinach (I promise you won't taste the greens)

Add all ingredients to blender, and blend until smooth. If your blender has a hard time (like mine often does), add more water. I wouldn't add a whole lot more coconut milk, or it will taste like you poured heavy cream in it. I think the banana and fruit give enough sweetness, but if you want more, add 1 T. honey.

(Please note that if you're doing the Whole30, not all of the things listed above are Whole30 complaint. For example, you're not "allowed" to have smoothies or Paleo pancakes on the Whole30, and I wholeheartedly agree with the program's focus on resetting your brain. So swallow down those veggies as best you can and tough it out for 30 days. I promise, it gets easier.) 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What we've been up to...

... taking bathroom selfies at work.

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Because I seriously regret the lack of pictures I have of myself at my heaviest, I'm making myself take periodic progress pictures. (And because I don't do my makeup at home, I'm forced to take these in the bathroom at work. Thank goodness I'm always the first one here in the morning or this would get awkward real quick.) 

I can tell a difference in my face, my legs, and definitely my stomach. Baby steps, y'all.

... good times with sweet friends.

It had been awhile since my best friend and I got together, so when my mom asked to keep Grace for a couple of hours last weekend, I took her up on her offer and immediately called Lauren to see if she was free. We ended up meeting for pedicures and Mexican, and it was exactly what my soul needed.

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There's no substitute for a friend who knows you better than you know yourself and who loves you in spite of that.

... cooking triumphs. And failures.


I got two new Paleo cookbooks last weekend (Practical Paleo and The Paleo Kitchen), so we've been trying a lot of new things this week. Some of them have been amazing, including this Bacon and Beef Casserole.

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It's got layers of beef sauteed with mushrooms and onions, mashed cauliflower (which seriously tasted a lot like mashed potatoes), mashed sweet potatoes, and bacon, and it rocked my world. It was sort of a pain to make, but well worth it.

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These Pumpkin Waffles, on the other hand, were a total and utter failure. I think it was user error because the batter tasted really good, but when I went to get them out of the waffle iron, they just crumbled everywhere. (And I swear I greased the heck out of the iron!)

... recovering from tonsillitis.

Poor Gracie girl got tonsillitis this weekend, which wasn't fun. She was a trooper, though, and we had a blast staying home together on Monday.

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She's more cute than I can even handle.

What have you guys been up to this week?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I joined the gym...

I joined the gym, y'all.

You definitely already know this if we're Instagram friends, and I sort of hinted to it in my last post,  but I felt like I owed you guys a standalone post on this topic because it is definitely a huge deal for me.

In high school, I worked out every. single. day. I played sports and did cardio/weight training during the summers, so the gym was my second home. After I graduated, though, and the sports disappeared, so did my devotion to the gym. I began to hate working out (particularly as I gained more weight), and it was the last thing I ever wanted to do.

You may remember when I lost a lot of weight before I got pregnant that I up and decided one day to become a runner. So I trained for and ran a 5K. I had honestly grown to really enjoy it but injured my foot just before the race, so I was out for a month or so. And then I got pregnant and used my pregnancy as an excuse to stop working out altogether. 

So.

Here we are, two years later, and I decided it was time to do the thing I've been dreading most of all. But I worried that if I started running again, I may fall off the wagon like I did before. I've been inspired by several women (Meg and Diana, as two examples) who started lifting heavy weights, and their bodies are transforming. I always liked lifting, and I figured I'd roll out of bed in the mornings more willingly if I was headed to the gym to lift.

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So I bought a membership to the gym down the road from my house, and I've been going faithfully for about three weeks now. That means nothing, obviously. It's not an ingrained habit yet, and I could totally quit tomorrow. 

But I don't think I will.

If you can believe it, I'm already seeing a difference in my arms and legs, and I feel stronger. (I'm probably not actually stronger, but the placebo effect is nice. Ha.)

The thing that was holding me back from taking the plunge was the idea of exercise cutting into the time I have with Grace and Micah. But I'm working it out so that I do two workouts a week in the mornings before they wake up. The 4:30 alarm is not fun, but I force myself to get out of bed. Once I do that, I know that I might as well get dressed and head to the gym. (There's usually no one else there, which is definitely creepy.) And then I do one other workout on Sunday nights after Grace goes to bed. Micah's usually watching football anyway, so I tell myself we're not really missing any quality time together. :)

In terms of the actual workouts I'm doing, I've been starting with a modified version of this HIIT (high-intensity interval training) treadmill workout:

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I bump the warm-up and cool down to 3.7, the fast walk/jog to 4.3, and then the sprint to 6.5/6.5/7.0. I also add in an extra cycle for a total of four sprints. I realize this is slow, and many of you would probably do this whole thing as a warmup, but I'm slow and out of shape, so this is tough for me.

 photo 47BEA3DB-8A76-4EE3-A42D-45AA4671F2FE.jpgToday I tried doing actual sprint cycles instead of the above. I did a 5-minute warmup and then a total of 15 sprints at 9.0 speed for 20 seconds apiece (I straddled the sides of the treadmill for 40 seconds in between each sprint). It kicked my butt, but I have no clue how many calories a workout like that burns. I literally just ordered a heart rate monitor watch (I went with this one) so I could make sure I'm in the optimal range for fat burning and make sure I do enough cardio to burn 250 calories or so.

After whatever cardio I do, I either do a legs or arm weights workout. I like this arm workout and this leg workout (I add weights), but I also like doing squats, leg press, seated leg press, the abductor/adductor, and essentially all of the arm machines, plus free weights. But I have no clue what I'm doing, so I won't go into detail quite yet. I'm very likely going to use a trainer for a couple of weeks so I can get a feel for what I should be doing.

And just so I'm really clear about this, I have no intention of making this weight loss/fitness journey an idol. I know I'm talking a lot about it. And I've seen many relationships fail when one partner becomes preoccupied with a lifestyle change and the other isn't. And none of you probably planned on reading a weight loss/fitness blog (though so many of you have sweetly reached out and encouraged me in my efforts, and you'll never know how much it has meant to me). I also know that whatever strength and/or dedication I can miraculously muster every time I step into the gym are not my own. They're His. Without Christ, I would have forever been stuck in the place I was a year ago.

Believe me, I know all these things.

My appearance and my health will still never be something that divert attention from the things in my life that really matter. I've just finally decided to bump them up above the things that don't.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Why I'm doing it...

Maybe it has never even occurred to you guys to wonder why I suddenly decided to change my life. 
Maybe you're all healthy people who have always eaten well and exercised consistently. And so maybe the fact that this whole journey has been so significant for me is completely baffling to you.

But maybe not.

I've always maintained that my ability to make healthy choices is controlled by a (metaphorical) light switch. When it's flipped on, I've got more self control than I know what to do with. And my willingness to make one good decision motivates me to make another, and another, until it eventually becomes a habit, and the decision isn't even really a decision anymore.

 photo 49912986-E5FD-43D7-B5F4-B1F330CD8FCA.jpgAnd when it's flipped off? Well, I have zero self control or motivation. I eat what I want, when I want. I crave sugary and salty things like it's my job, and I tell myself that it's okay to have them in whatever quantities I desire. Five donuts? Sure! A whole package of Girl Scouts Samoa cookies? Awesome! Exercise isn't even a blip on my radar.

So the question for me—and maybe for you—becomes this: how can I turn the light switch on again? What will motivate me to be better?

I wish I could answer that question for you. I obviously can't. You and you alone know what will compel you to make a real change.

But I can tell you what did it for me. I can tell you what made me put It Starts with Food in my Amazon basket and click "Place Your Order."

I had an unhealthy relationship with food.
Plain and simple. I loved it too much. I still do, to some extent. I don't have that thing that makes me want to put something delicious down because I am feeling satiated. If a little is good, more is even better. I needed to find a way to reset my brain in a healthy way. To help me learn to crave the things that are good for me and to break the ridiculous sugar cycle I was on.

I like a challenge.
I'm not really the kind of girl that is continually pushing myself to be better, though I wish I was. But I do occasionally like to put myself to the test. I wanted to see what I was capable of with respect to my health. Turns out, I'm capable of a lot more than I thought.

I want to live longer.
The way I was eating would have absolutely led to health problems for me down the road. I was already morbidly obese, tired all the time, and ridiculously out of shape. Who knows what might have happened if I had continued on that path.

My husband is really, really, ridiculously good looking.
I don't mean this the way it sounds. Micah has been the most supportive, incredible husband no matter what size I've been. But I have eyes and a mirror. And I have also heard, "Oh my gosh! Your husband is HOT!" more times than I can even count. It's definitely the truth, and I always love hearing it. But what I'd really love is for him to hear, "Oh my gosh! Your wife is HOT!" for once. Not for my sake (although it would be pretty fabulous to hear), but for his.

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I'd like to make it to one dress size and stay there.
It's expensive re-stocking my closet every time I lose/gain weight.

I've got to fit into my wedding dress by next August.

I want to set a good example for my daughter.
This was probably the most motivating thing for me. I want her to see her mom as healthy and strong and active. And I can't manufacture that impression; it has to come from her own observation. So digging in and becoming the real deal was the only real option.

I want to look good naked.
I know you feel me on this one.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

A day in the life of a working mom...

5:30 a.m.  The alarm goes off. I press snooze, of course.

5:39 a.m.  The alarm goes off again.  

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I lament the fact that I am not, in fact, heading to New York and remind myself to change the title of my alarm so as to avoid this disappointment in the future. I check emails and scroll through Instagram because I fell asleep at 8:30 last night and feel so off the grid. I hate and love technology.

5:55 a.m.  I crawl out of bed, wash my face, brush my teeth, throw my hair in a ponytail, and grab a work-appropriate maxi dress because I'm not in the mood for pants today. Micah tells me all about the most ridiculous dream he had the night before and I laugh at how creative he must subconsciously be (because he's definitely an engineer on the outside).

6:15 a.m.  I gather everything I need for breakfast and lunch and decide to make a smoothie because it sounds delicious.

I also get Grace's stuff together, including more diapers for daycare and an extra outfit because she used what was in her cubby yesterday after a blowout. I kiss Micah as he heads out the door with Grace's things in hand so he can put them in my car for me.

I make Grace a cup of milk and quietly open her door. As I'm digging through her drawers to find some shorts for her to wear today, she starts to stir. We sit and snuggle and drink milk and read books for a little while. She screams bloody murder when we have to stop and get dressed. I force her unruly hair into a half-pony and add a bow. And a kiss for good measure.

7:05 a.m.  We get loaded up in the car and head to school. 

Traffic sucks, so I get into the HOV lane to save some time. I sip my smoothie and throw on my makeup at stoplights.

7:50 a.m.  We pull up to Grace's daycare and I can't resist snapping a picture because she looks like such a big girl today. 

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I walk her into her classroom, sign her in, and try to set her down so I can leave.  Not happening at all.  We read a book together, but she's still not ready for me to go.  Her teacher sweetly picks her up so I can sneak away.  She catches me and pouts as I walk out, but I hide outside the doorway for a few seconds, and she giggles as I finally let myself walk away.  She will be all smiles when Micah picks her up this afternoon.

8:05 a.m.  I pull into the parking garage at work and remember that it's my secretary's birthday.  I'm so bad at things like this, so I walk straight to the ATM, withdraw some cash, and purchase a card at my building's only store.  

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I'll order her some cookies and ice cream from Tiff's Treats when I get to my desk.

8:15 a.m.  I throw my stuff on my desk, slice my hard-boiled eggs, cover them with Louisiana Hot Sauce (which I store in my desk because I'm obsessed), and eat the rest of my breakfast while I check emails and order Jan's cookies.  I'm really running behind today, so I finish quickly and get to work.

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12:15 p.m.  It's definitely time for lunch. A co-worker and I head to our favorite lunch spot in town. She orders nachos, and I dutifully order the shrimp salad (which is fabulous). I sneak in two chips.

1:25 p.m.  Back to work. I'm writing a quick brief today, and it's taking every ounce of willpower I have to stay focused long enough to write it. I'm so ridiculously scatterbrained.

4:45 p.m.  The brief's almost done, when I hear one of my work friends coming down the hall. She has been out of town, so we haven't gotten to process together the fact that our other good friend is leaving the firm. It has been a hard couple of days for both of us, but it's so good to be reminded of the wonderful relationships I have with the people I work with. It truly is a blessing, and we will greatly miss our musketeer.

5:15 p.m.  I grab my laptop and head out the door. On the way home, I call a girl who has been recommended as a replacement for our cleaning lady (who just up and moved to Waco without even telling me). We arrange to meet tomorrow to discuss logistics and details.

5:50 p.m.  I walk through the door and hear music playing.  Micah and Grace are having a dance party, and it's adorable. Micah already fed Grace her dinner, so I start pulling out the things I need to make what's on the menu tonight: shrimp salad. Ha. I grab the shrimp I cooked the night before, plus the dressing I made earlier in the week. I chop the tomatoes and avocado, throw it all together in the bowl, and tell Micah that dinner is served.

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For the first time in awhile, we eat dinner on the couch while Grace plays with her toys on the rug in front of us.

Grace and I all walk out and grab the mail, and then we come inside and read for a little while.

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I truly have no idea why she's wearing two bows.

6:50 p.m.  It's bath time! I run the water and wrestle Grace's clothes and shoes off. I plop her in the water and Micah comes in, and we both spend this time with our sweet girl.

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We try and do most things with her together because she prefers it that way. And so do we.

After bath time is over, we wrap her up in a fluffy towel and attempt to get her diaper and PJs on. We have to bribe her with a book.

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It's time to start winding down for bed. Micah brings in her milk, and I smile because I know it's my night to put her to sleep. We usually fight over who gets to do this part because it's so sweet.

We crawl into her rocker, and she drinks her milk. Then she wants to wrap her arms around me and snuggle.

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She points out my eyes and ears and nose and mouth. She talks and giggles, and I have to tell her several times to lay back down so that she'll snuggle up close again.

7:30 p.m.  I see her eyes getting heavy, so I pick her up and lay her down in her crib. I cover her with her favorite blanket (the one my mom made her) and rub her back for a minute. As she begins to close her eyes, I tiptoe out of the room.

I walk into the kitchen and see that Micah has finished picking up dinner and the debris from the tornado Grace created during their dance party. He's such a wonderful man, and I'm so thankful he's so willing to pick up my slack when work gets crazy on days like today.

I throw six eggs in a pot and start them to boil for breakfast the next couple of days. I start my computer up, just as Micah does the same. We don't usually have to work in the evenings, but tonight we're both in for another hour or so of clicking away at our computers. I finish my brief and send it to the partner I'm working with, while Micah does something water- or soil-related. When we finish, we finally get to sit together for a minute and talk about the day. Mine was hard. So was his.

8:50 p.m.  The bathtub beckons. So I run the water and grab the Pottery Barn catalog that has been sitting on the counter for the last few days. It was probably driving Micah crazy.

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I relish these moments. Being alone for just a little while, washing away the day. Micah comes in after a little while, and we laugh about the funny things Grace did that day. She's so hilarious. And dramatic.

9:30 p.m.  After I'm sufficiently relaxed and sleepy, I dry off, slip on an old t-shirt, comb out my hair, and go through my skincare routine. Micah's already in bed because we're old. I plug in my phone in. Then I crawl into bed, kiss Micah goodnight, and shut my eyes.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A life update...

I've got a wicked case of writer's block, friends.  My inability to formulate any coherent thoughts might have something to do with the fact that I've spent the last three weeks pouring every shred of brilliance mediocrity I can muster into a brief for work.

But that's done now, and I'm still incapable of writing anything significant.  So how about a little life update, instead?

Gracie is still adorable (as you may have surmised). 

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She is getting the funniest little personality, too. She's this amazing combination of happy, sweet, silly, sensitive, and self-assured. She knows her own mind, but she is definitely a pleaser.  She's obsessed with shoes. She'll dance to just about anything. She's saying new words every day.

She still adores the occasional nap with Mommy.

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This age is just incredible.

Micah and I are doing great, too.

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I'm a full-fledged Paleo convert now, and I'm still really loving it. I strive to eat clean about 85% of the time and definitely still allow myself the occasional "cheats." But the amazing thing is that it doesn't feel like cheating anymore.  It's just... normal, regular, everyday life. I eat what I want, when I want. And because what I normally want to eat is clean, I feel ZERO guilt when what I want to eat are the chips and queso from my favorite Mexican restaurant or a cupcake (or three) on my birthday.

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The weight is still coming off, albeit more slowly than when I was doing the Whole30 (which is a much more strict version of the Paleo diet, and I HIGHLY recommend it as an intro to the Paleo lifestyle).  I'm down 20 pounds since June 22nd. And more than that, I'm feeling really good. Healthier than I've been in a really long time, and more energy than I know what to do with.

But I won't keep beating you guys over the head with this.  Just know that if you're looking to make a change, I'll be happy to be a cheerleader for you.  I really mean it.

Let's see... what else?

We're still hoping to make it to the Outer Banks, North Carolina sometime this fall, but my work schedule is making trip planning difficult.

We've been spending lots of time with family lately, which is my favorite.

Oh! And I'm working with a ridiculously talented blog designer on a new look for this space. I can't wait for you all to see what she's working on...

So that's what we've been up to: making the most of the end of summer and getting excited for what's to come.  What have you been up to?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Stuff and things...

First thing's first.

Stop everything you're doing right this second, go to my Instagram (@mrshargrave), and watch the video I posted of Grace last night.  It's the cutest thing you'll see all day, I promise.  (And if it's not, you're maybe a little dead inside.)

We spent this past weekend driving down to Houston (well, the Woodlands, really) for my friend's sweet boy's first birthday party.  It was our first road trip with Grace, and it went about as well as could have been expected.

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She slept a good chunk of the way there and back, and she dropped her paci and screamed bloody murder a few times.  And of course we had to stop to change a dirty diaper.

But it was a fun, little getaway, and it was so wonderful to see Jennifer and celebrate Niko's special day.

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Also, I accidentally opened a birthday present from Micah.  (I turn 29 tomorrow.  What a strange, sort of nothing age it seems to be.  Not yet thirty, but squarely outside the realm of my mid-twenties.  Weird.)  I had seen these mugs on Pinterest and emailed the link to him awhile back as a joke (he does not share my love for all things HP), and lo and behold, the man bought them for me!

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I guess it's official.  I'm a keeper.

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After bath time last night, we all snuggled up in Grace's room and read books until it was just absolutely time for bed.  These days, I can't get enough of these two.  Grace is at this stage where every freaking thing she does is adorable (except when she's screaming about something... not so adorable).  And Micah is as wonderful as ever.

And, look, I realize that I sound like I'm shooting unicorns and rainbows out of my rear all the time.  Believe me, there are hard days.  Days when I want to pull my hair out, days when bedtime can't come fast enough, days when I ache for the chance to sleep in -- even if only until 7:30.  But those very same days are still filled to the brim with happy.  With the most incredible, exquisite, heart-filling happy I've ever experienced.  And for me, that tends to overshadow the struggles.  I focus on the joy because I think life's just better that way.  That has always been who I am at my core.

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So understand that I'd never attempt to paint you a picture that isn't the truth.  You're just seeing my own perspective reflected back here, with the blessings spotlighted... just as they are in my heart.

If you've got stuff and/or things you'd like to share today, you should absolutely link up with Kristin.  She's the bomb.com.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

All the stuff...

Most of the time, I buy a bunch of stuff that I love and then forget to share it with you guys.  But sometimes, I remember that I'm a blogger and that I should share the love.

These are some of the things I'm loving recently.

2014 08 12 Loving Lately



Coola Organic Classic Sunscreen. Maybe you guys aren't getting old yet, but I am.  I've got fine lines creeping up on me, and I'm more aware than ever that I'm not 18 anymore (hallelujah! but also boo!).  So I'm all about the sun protection, and this stuff is amazing.  It doesn't break me out or make my makeup look ridiculous, and it smells delicious.

Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer.  I've shared before about how I highlight and contour my makeup, and I had been using a cheap Maybelline concealer to highlight that provided nice illumination but zero coverage (still a great option if you don't want to break the bank).  The lady at the makeup counter at Ulta talked me into this concealer from IT Cosmetics, and I adore it.  It's got quite a bit of coverage, which is good for highlighting, and it stays put.  It's pretty pricey, but you don't need much at all (I use, like, half a pea size amount to highlight my whole face), so it lasts forever.

Clark's Botanicals Smoothing Marine Cream.  I've probably already told you guys about this stuff.  It's stupidly expensive and has a distinctly marine smell, but I use it as my nighttime moisturizer every other day, and it does wonders for my skin.  It's a great splurge.

Dolce by Dolce & Gabana.  Delectable.  That is all.

Suave Keratin Infusion Dry Shampoo.  Y'all.  Dry shampoo is the bomb diggity.  If you're not using it to either (1) extend days between shampoos or (2) pump up the volume, you're really missing out.  I used the Ojon Full Detox forever, but the smell is lame, and it's expensive.  Cara recommended the Suave version, and I can't get enough.  It's the cheapest stuff I can find, and it works just as well as anything else I've tried.  Plus, it smells amazing.

Vinylux Weekly Top Coat.  I'm really hard on nail polish, but this stuff keeps my at-home manis lasting longer than most other top coats I've tried.  Also, it gives a nice sheen.

Julep Lip Gloss.  I got, like, four tubes of this stuff when I was a Julep Maven for a split second.  (I cancelled because I'm pretty picky about beauty products, and I like to switch up brands quite a bit.)  I really like it because it's pretty glossy, lasts awhile, and doesn't taste offensive.  To the extent you come across this stuff somewhere, give it a shot.

Laugh with Me LeeLee.  A sweet friend at work keeps a bottle of this on her desk, and I've been in love with the smell for a couple of years now.  I finally broke down and bought a bottle to keep at mine.  Ain't no shame in it.

So that's what I'm digging on lately.  What are you guys loving?

*None of the links in this post are sponsored or are affiliate links.  I am completely and totally unimportant to these companies.  Just wanted to share about some products that I really like.  Over and out.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The beginning of it all...

Because it's Friday, and because I'm feeling extraordinarily reminiscent today, I wanted to share one of my very favorite posts from when I first started blogging.  It's a letter I wrote to Micah about the night we first met.  If you haven't been reading here very long, you may not know that I met my husband in seventh grade. This post is the first chapter of our love story.  I'll share the rest next week!

"I remember trying not to stare the night that I first met you. You had me mesmerized."
- Brad Paisley, Then

Micah Lee,

Do you know how often I think back to the night I first met you? The images come to my mind like a photograph. It was 1998, and I was standing in the sanctuary at the First Baptist Church of Josephine. I still went to Wylie schools, but my parents were moving us out to the country and thought going to church in Josephine would help me get to know everyone. I had no idea I'd end up meeting my future husband there in that small church.

It was the last night of vacation bible school, and I was too old to participate. So I sat with Lauren, the only person I knew there, in the sanctuary, just watching the bible schoolers sing and dance. You were standing there on stage... holding a puppet and singing along with everyone else. You were SO cute. I'm pretty sure you stole a small piece of my heart there in that moment. I leaned over and asked Lauren who you were. She told me you were just a sixth grader, and I was a little disappointed that you were younger than me.

But the crush developed anyway. How could I help myself? Your blue eyes truly were mesmerizing, and I loved how quiet and shy you were. I loved how you stood up on that stage and captivated me. You and that puppet.

I couldn't know in that moment that you would stand on that same stage, ten years later, and captivate me once again. That I would walk down the aisle in a white dress, holding my Daddy's hand, and see nothing but your face. Our wedding day is such a blur to me, but I will always remember that moment, seeing your face as I walked down the aisle. I'll remember looking at you and wondering how I got so lucky, wondering why in the world the adorable boy with the puppet picked me.

Love,
Ryan

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Stuff and things...

I've been meaning to link up with Kristin for her awesome "Stuff and Things" Thursday link-up for awhile and figured today was the perfect day to start.

I was having a conversation with my aunt yesterday about eyebrows, and it reminded me that I have been intending to do a whole post about how I fill mine in to make them look fuller and frame my face.  But in the interest of not boring you all to death, I figured I'd just show you why I do it via selfie.  And why you probably should too.

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My right eyebrow (that's left to you) was filled in with an Anastasia Brow Wiz pencil (in soft brown), while the left eyebrow (right to you) was left naked.  Ooh la la!

Now that I've started filling my brows in, I feel like I look so unfinished when I don't.  It's certainly something that can be taken overboard, but I love that it seems to frame my face and allows me to create a more refined arch.  Anyway, that's my PSA for filling in your eyebrows.  Try it sometime!

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Micah and I are contemplating taking a trip somewhere on the east coast in October-ish.  I'm hoping to find a place with a secluded beach (preferably rocky AND sandy) where I can read, Micah can fish, and we can eat delicious seafood.  I've got my eye on Maine, the Carolinas, and possibly even Florida if I could find somewhere that wasn't super touristy.  

Do you guys have any favorite coastal towns we should look into?

Also, I hosted a small baby girl shoe sale a couple of nights ago on Instagram.  There are still a few pairs of really adorable shoes left (mostly in the 4-5 range) that Grace never wore because her feet are too darned chubby.  So in case you weren't already inundated with the pictures in your Instagram feed (so sorry!), go check them out. (You can find me @mrshargrave).

Lastly, this is what I came home to the other night as Micah was supposed to be feeding Grace dinner.

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Happy Thursday, friends!
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