Gender Reveal Party Plan

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The gender reveal is coming up this weekend!!! Can you tell I’m a little excited? As excited as I am, I’ve also been super busy (hence the absence last week) getting my house ready to sell. Last week we were able to book someone last minute to paint our house, and Brandon sent McKenna and I over to his mom’s house to be out of fume’s way. It was a nice change from scurrying around getting stuff done, but I had a toddler who didn’t want to sleep at all while there so it wasn’t all that relaxing.

Anyhow… the point is… that I procrastinated. I have had plans for all the things that I’m going to do for the gender reveal party for quite some time. This week I’m implementing most of it. Whoops! Lucky for me I have a wonderful MIL who came for a day to help me get a few things prepped and to keep Miss McKenna occupied while I ran the last few errands necessary.

Since it’s in the front of my mind I wanted to share some of the fun things that I am doing for the party. First of all, it is magic themed. Here is a little inspiration board for what I am going for:

party inspiration

Food: 1 / 2   Decor: 1 / 2    Costume: 1 / 2

 

McKenna is going to be dressed as a magician, and one of my nieces will be her assistant (to keep her on track – let’s be honest she’s a sporadic toddler). As the magician, she will be presenting magic tricks to reveal whether I am having a baby boy or a baby girl. We will see how that goes down but I’m super excited to find out so I probably won’t care during the performance.

I’m really excited to get everything together this week and to put my plans into action! I have a little bit of costume making to get done, a lot of shopping for food, and then putting up the decorations I got and making a few more for final touches! I’m wishing I had some magic at this point but it’ll be fun, so maybe just wish me luck 😉

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When (and why)I don’t always DIY

when and why I don't always DIY

As I’ve mentioned, we are preparing our house to sell right now and there is A LOT to do. If you’ve ever sold a house you know how much there is to do that you just didn’t notice. Over time you get blinders to those annoying little things that are a part of your home. Along with these little things we also just had a big monsoon which caused some roof problems. Agh! Part of why I’ve been MIA is because of the roof problems. Oh and there is also the pregnancy that is keeping me down low, and of course preparing this house to sell during the HOT Arizona summer…. Enough rambling and back to the reason for the blog post. I LOVE to DIY… or at least try my hand at it. That much should be obvious. So why would I NOT want to DIY something? There are a few good reasons not to DIY and here are some of the things that I am not going to be DIYing for the preparation of this house.

I have a long list of things that need to get done around here, including:

  • Small plumbing, such as tightening some small leaks, etc.
  • Filling screw holes
  • Cleaning
  • Painting the stairways
  • Filling the hole from the dog door to the patio
  • Deep cleaning the carpet
  • THE ROOF – ha!
  • Re-carpeting the master bedroom
  • Purging soooo much stuff
  • Reorganizing furniture

What we will be DIYing:

  • Getting rid of all the things
  • Cleaning and cleaning some more
  • Moving light furniture and styling with my realtor
  • Brandon will be moving heavier pieces of furniture that we don’t want in the house during the sale process
  • I’ve filled some of the screw holes already… I will get into that more in what I won’t be DIYing

What we will not be DIYing:

  • Plumbing…. I have actually tackled some plumbing fixes before, but seeing as I’m pregnant I don’t think I’m gonna be getting on the ground for fear that I won’t be able to get up!
  • Filling screw holes that require a step stool or ladder. Another thing that I could normally do, but I’m not stable to begin with and being pregnant I’m even less so
  • Deep cleaning the carpets. Chemicals upon chemicals – no thanks
  • Painting – I may actually do a few small areas that need touch up if they don’t require a step stool but if it does I’m out and for large surfaces I’m also out.
  • Recarpeting is something that I’ve never tried so I’m not gonna try at this juncture. 
  • We are getting our roof fixed, yay!

 

Some of these things are hard for me to pay someone else to do when I know that usually I can tackle a lot of these things. I have had to take a deep breath and be ok with not being able to do it all. The stuff we are doing is already a lot! We are up to seven nine SUV loads that we have brought to Goodwill! It’s amazing how much we have been able to get rid of. It has felt really good to unload a lot of stuff, and it’s even better seeing clear spaces in my home.  I’ve been really grateful to have some amazing friends and family who have helped me out and I know that without their help (and some professionals in the near future!) I couldn’t do this. In the beginning I was thinking that I could do it all on my own. It only took me a minute to realize that was ludicrous. Don’t be too hard on yourselves and be honest when you can’t (or maybe even don’t want to) do it yourself. 

 

 

Dear Future Baby – 20 weeks, halfway there!

20 weeks

How far along: 20 weeks

Gender guess: Boy is still my guess, girl is still Brandon’s guess… it’s not too long until we know!

How I’m feeling: It’s been getting harder and harder to get comfortable at night and thus I haven’t been sleeping much. I’m also super exhausted due to working on my home in preparations for putting it up for sale.

Highlight this week: The highlight of the week coincided with the worst day of the week, ha! Last Wednesday I was really ill and ended up going to see one of my midwives to ensure that the baby was ok and I was super stressed… but then after I got home from that he/she kicked! The baby has been kicking up a storm ever since. I’m loving those little kicks and it comforts me so much.

Miss anything: I miss being able to eat without everything sounding disgusting. I love me some food and lately I haven’t been enjoying eating at all.

Movement: As mentioned above, yes! I am so sooo excited for this.

Cravings: Nope. I have basically been forcing food down my throat for the baby but nothing sounds appetizing lately.

Looking forward to: The gender reveal!! It’s coming up quick and I’ve been working out the details of the whole party. I will put together some of the ideas I have and then I’m sure I will have a bunch of photos after the party!

What McKenna says about the baby: McKenna has been watching more TV lately than I would like to admit and her favorite is Doc McStuffins. Due to this she listens to your heartbeat every day and says that it sounds good!

DFB-20

 

Dear future baby,

It almost doesn’t seem real that we will have another little baby in our arms in just a few short months. We are so excited to meet you and to hold you in our arms. Your sister is beyond thrilled to have someone to help take care of.

Thank you for comforting me with your little baby kicks and letting me know that you are alright. I want to help you grow healthy and strong little one!

Love, your future Mama

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How to find the right rental home

tips for home renting

My dear friend Niki offered to share some of her wisdom about renting! Since we are thinking that renting will be our best move after we sell our home, I’m soaking up all of the information that she has. To start she is sharing how to find the right rental home to fit your needs, and next time she will share some of the little known perks that come with home renting! Take it away Niki!

 

Hi, I’m Niki- full time Mama extraordinary to two boys three and under and a lifetime educator. My husband and I operate a small business out of our home, always an adventure with little ones running about! I’m not much for crafting, but I can coax a literate essay out of a 10th grader, make a mean apple pie and pack up a 2,000 sq ft home in less than a week, while balancing a kid on each hip!

 

So, how to find the right rental for you or your family?

non-negotiable

First- decide on your non-negotiables and start looking at least a few months before you even want to start really looking.  Are you set on a certain area, a specific price range or a length of lease that you can’t budge on? Before you even start looking at houses, figure out what CANNOT change and then build your search from there.

trulia

The more flexible you can be, the more options you’ll have, but that can get overwhelming. So, play around on rental websites for a bit and see what’s out there. I personally like Trulia.com for window shopping, It lets me look at areas by maps and see what I can get for my monthly budget in different areas.  If schools are important to you, use Greatschools.net and stalk the heck out of the neighborhood schools, look in the districts you love for a house.  Look at different styles of homes and decide what you enjoy.

budget

 

Next- once you know a general area you like and a style of house you’re all about, start budgeting. Renting can be a bit pricey in the beginning. Figure in costs. Most landlords wanted a security deposit and at least one month’s rent up front. There’s also typically earnest money of at least a few hundred bucks to take the house off the market and and application fees of 25-100 dollars per adult applicant.

Moving costs can be pricey as well, so figure that into your budget. My best advice is put aside three months’ rent for your move in cost before you start looking. This takes the pressure off of you and gives you more flexibility in where you can move. Also, and we’ve done this- consider lump sums. Maybe you want a house, but think the landlord is asking a bit much for it. We’ve talked rent down by paying quarterly instead of monthly. Many landlords will take less for it total if you’ll pay a few months at a time. It gives you some bargaining power.

Ok, so you’ve got an idea of what you want and you’ve saved up some funds- the best advice I can give you as a renter is to find a realtor. I know this seems counter-intuitive, because it’s not like you’re selling, but a realtor can be your best friend in the renting process. They’ll set up viewings for you so you can see multiple homes in one day.

Without a realtor, you have to play phone tag with the landlords or the owners’ agents just to get in the door. You can easily spend a week trying to get someone on the phone to let you go tour the place, why not let a realtor do that for you? Also, landlords take you a lot more seriously with an agent.  To find a great realtor, ask around- see who your friends have used or even search online. 

 

Many landlords will allow you to move in fairly quickly, as they don’t like to have their home unoccupied. See if you can get your new lease to start a bit before your current situation ends. I’ve had it work out that I had weeks to move so there wasn’t any stress to get out and was able to move and clean up the old place leisurely.

redocorate

Ask about redecorating, if you like doing it, it can be worked in. Some landlords will let you repaint as long as you’re willing to paint back. My home now actually has walls painted in colors that I really like- grey on some, buttercup on others. It was something that set the house apart in my mind and made it feel different than other rentals. Also, see what you can work out with landscaping and bug spraying. These are essential in Arizona and many landlords are willing to throw them in for free so you don’t even have to think about it.


Renting can be fun and make your life easier. If you do your research in the beginning and set yourself up to be in a great situation from the beginning, it can make all the difference in the long run.

 

 

Thanks Niki! I have learned so much and I feel a lot more comfortable with the prospect of home renting thanks to your sage advice. Also, there are a lot of really great bloggers that rent and talk about how they update their home without making permanent changes. I’m already soaking up a bunch of inspiration since I know I will want to decorate to some extent. 

 

How to handle picky eaters

picky eaters

My household is filled with picky eaters, especially right now. My husband likes to eat a Paleo diet and says that it isn’t dinner if it doesn’t have meat. McKenna, well she’s a toddler #enoughsaid. And lately I am even picky! Due to my pregnancy I have been having food aversions all over the place. I’m trying to figure out how to balance all of our food needs right now and here is what I have come up with so far.

It may seem a bit dramatic to put it this way…. but I gotta feed me first. It’s sort of like putting the air mask on myself first in a plane crash. When I’m not pregnant food is whatever to me. When I’m pregnant I HAVE TO HAVE FOOD OR ELSE. It’s a really big deal that I eat when I need to and that I get the protein and other nutrients necessary. What I do is make sure that I stock up on some quick proteins that aren’t disgusting to me currently (greek yogurt, some protein bars, protein powder that I mix in smoothies, peanut butter, hardboiled eggs and a few others). Having these quick foods is really helpful when you are super busy… and on days when you are just plain super exhausted from being pregnant. I eat far more of these types of food than I’d like to admit but I’m doing my best.  When I have more energy I will make myself bean and cheese burritos or if I can muster eating meat I will heat up leftovers from the night before.

The good news is that because I have so many aversions and I’m sticking to those quick foods I can get food to the others much quicker as well. McKenna is picky in a way where I really have to play some mind games. She loves almost all food, she really does. However, sometimes she decides that “it’s too hot,” “it’s too spicy” or my favorite “I don’t like it right now”. Ugh. Kids are crazy. It’s a good thing they are cute. Generally, I will start by giving her two protein options both of which she usually likes because protein is the hardest thing to get her to eat.  After she eats that I will offer up fruit, veggies, etc. She happens to love her fruits and veggies so those are pretty easy to get her to gobble up. If she eats all of that I will give her a treat of sorts, like fruit snacks or crackers.  When she eats like this it’s a good day. There are also days where she refuses to eat anything but O’s (cheerios) but she is figuring out that I’m just as (or more) stubborn than she is. After some soul searching mommy always wins 🙂

Brandon is the pickiest of us all. He tries to stick to a Paleo diet (if you aren’t sure what that is – here is a great resource).  Because the two biggest restrictions of this diet are dairy and carbs we (the diet and I) have a hard time getting along for the long term. In order to keep up with his mostly Paleo lifestyle we make simple lunches ahead of such as “a dump” – which we named because we just put ground meat and anything else that we think would taste good in it to bulk it up. We almost always add mushrooms, jalepenos, greens, garlic, etc. We change up the seasoning each time so that he doesn’t get bored with it. Otherwise we cook up chicken and a veggie and call it good. For dinners we have found some favorite Paleo meals that I enjoy as well. Because I save them in my Paprika app it’s easy to see which recipes are Paleo and then skim for the ones that we have rated highly.

Dinner is by far the hardest to accommodate us all but the preparation ahead of time to ensure that we all have some food available helps a lot. There are nights where I make a meal and although I usually like it, I just can’t. I blame the baby in my belly. Those nights my tummy is usually in charge and I eat whatever it says, even if it’s pizza rolls, ha! There are also nights where I can’t even begin to look at a piece of meat and Brandon needs to cook, eat leftovers or one of the lunches we’ve cooked ahead of time. McKenna generally eats most food we make for dinner but she definitely eats the most in the morning and the least at night. I’m comfortable with it since I know what and how much she eats during the day.

So, the key is flexibility and preparation. Honestly, that’s all it takes. Sometimes it’s hard to get stuff ready ahead of time but when we do everyone gets fed and enjoys it!

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Dear Future Baby, 19 weeks

19 week collage

How far along: 19 weeks (sorry I’ve missed a few weeks!)

Gender guess: I made a bet with Brandon this week that it’s a boy… I feel pretty sure about it but who knows lol

How I’m feeling: The last few weeks have been rough physically and emotionally. A lot of stress up in here but things are moving along. I will post more about that later this week.

Highlight this week: Brandon and I got a night to ourselves recently! I missed McKenna so so much but it was lovely to have some time for just us because pretty soon it’s gonna get crazy up in here!

Miss anything: I’ve been too busy lately to miss anything.

Movement: There are a couple of times that I thought I felt a kick here or there and some flutters at night. I’m still not positive, but it’s way more than I ever got close to feeling with McKenna this early on, so I’ll take it.

Cravings: I’ve been eating a lot of peanut butter – on toast, bananas, sandwiches, etc. I’ve been able to eat a little more meat as well which is good so I can get protein more easily. I’m also loving dairy, especially milk.

Looking forward to: Since I last posted I had a baby appointment and I got a lot of relief from hearing answers to my questions. I’m doing everything I need to, except maybe being stressed and not getting enough sleep. Hey, I’m working on it!

What Brandon says about the baby: Brandon says “SHE is amazing, and I can’t wait to meet HER.” This of course is because he is of the belief that we are having a girl. We shall see.

What McKenna says about the baby: McKenna talks about you all the time but is having a hard time understanding that you are still coming! If it doesn’t happen right away…. lol

DFB-18

 

Dear future baby,

In some ways this pregnancy has been easier and in other ways it has been way harder. In one breath I say that it’s going by so quickly since we are being kept so busy. In the very next moment I feel like it is taking forever for you to get here! We know that everything will change when you get here, and we are SO excited for it.

Daddy thinks you are a girl, I think you are a boy, McKenna often says you are “bofe of dem” (meaning that you are both boy and girl? Or maybe she means that she thinks there are twins in there… not sure but wow). We are anxiously awaiting finding out whether you are a boy or a girl at the gender reveal in September.

Love, your future Mama

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Don’t wait for someone else to make you happy!

happy header

My mom taught me from the very young age that happiness is a choice. This can be a little controversial considering depression doesn’t feel like a choice. I’m not going to get into that part of things. I believe that each individual has their own experiences. For me, I’ve had moments, days, and even years where I’ve struggled with depression. I’ve also had periods of time where I’ve maintained pretty well. On the whole, I am actually a very happy person. There are a lot of people that I interact with that have no clue that I have struggled with depression. It isn’t always an obvious thing that people put out there.

The main thing that I’ve learned through my experiences is that I cannot wait for someone else to “make” me happy. There have been some really tough times that I’ve pulled myself out of. I have tried many medications in different dosages trying to level things out. I have made some big life choices in some cases to increase my joy. These are dramatic changes but it’s really the small things that make the biggest difference. Waking up every day with a plan of action, and choosing to be happy. Sometimes shit happens, right? When it does, I turn it around by acting silly with my daughter, turning up the music, maybe getting a treat or taking a quick moment to meditate and remember what I’m grateful for.

If you want a reminder to choose happiness I made up a few printables that you can download below!

 

happy white

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to download 

happy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to download 

 

 

How to hide bangs 

how to style bangs

Let’s start this party off by letting you know that I’m not extremely fashionable. Sure, I like girly stuff. Cute hair, a well put together outfit and makeup. I do. But if I’m being honest about it I’m not great at it most of the time. Sometimes I get super lucky and hit one out of the park but I have hardly been trying lately. Being a SAHM (stay at home mom) has made me a bit more lax in this department.

Now that I’m getting more pregnant I feel the need to make an effort in areas where I can. In other words, since clothes don’t fit me I might as well try with my hair and makeup every once in awhile!

Back to the point at hand. Bangs. In Arizona summers bangs are NOT fun. I love my bangs, I really do. But I can’t handle them in my face during the summer so I’ve been looking for fun ways to get them out of the way until it cools off a bit here. These are some of the fun ideas I’ve found!

Headbands

Cover them with a headband! This is the easiest of them all.

head-scarf with bangsscarf braided into hairheadband over bangs

via 1/2/3

 

 

 

 

 

Twists

Twisting and pinning is fairly simple as well.

twist bangsfold over bang twist

 

 

 

 

via 1/2

 

 

 

 

Braids

These are my favorites but are the hardest to accomplish.

French braid bangs

 

Side Twist Fishtail Braid

 

 

 

 

 

 

via 1/2

I hope some of these have inspired some new ways to get those bangs out of your face this summer! I know that I’ve needed them all summer and it’s still hot as hades here and will be for awhile.

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I love to party – how to throw a themed party

McKenna and mama at her first birthday - Circus themed 1st birthday

I really do. It’s such a blast for me to plan parties and then of course I love to go to parties as well. I think it’s because I love themes so much. I use themes to  decorate rooms, put together gifts and of course to plan parties!

I am working through plans for our gender reveal right now but I’m getting stuck for some reason. Because of my party planning rut I thought it might help to revisit some of the parties that I’ve planned in the last few years. Some of these I have pictures from but most I do not. I tend to sit back and enjoy my parties instead of taking pictures.

When I was single I threw a few fun parties that were vaguely themed, such as a fondue party, holiday themed dinners and parties, etc.  Then I moved into my next phase where I wanted to do more than just make food and decorate. I decided that I wanted to dress up! Sometimes not in the typical sense… And other times it was!

I proceeded to throw a masquerade (one of my favorites), a Vegas themed birthday for one of my hubby’s birthdays and one of my favorites was McKenna’s 1st birthday which was circus themed.

Some of my favorite pieces of a party to plan are the following:

  • Themed food
  • Decorations
  • Costumes
  • Invitations
  • Suspense!

 

Themed Food

 

IMG_7120

 

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Food is a really important part of life let alone a party. I like to make the food work with the theme of the party as much as possible. For my husband’s birthday party that was Vegas themed everything was red, white and black and I made everything work within that theme. I also really like to make signs for the food that show how each group of food goes with the theme. It’s quick and it’s an easy way to keep organized when you have multiple people helping you to setup.

Decorations

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Some of the common things that I do for parties include: custom made posters to work with the theme, a photo area (with props if applicable), balloons of course, and a sign for the door. There is always some specific decorating that happens for each party since they are all so unique as well.

Costumes

IMGP9809

If possible I really love to wear a costume. It must be the theatre side of my personality. I love to play dress up still! I didn’t dress up for McKenna’s first birthday but you can bet that I dressed her up! For Brandon’s birthday party I got everyone to dress in “dapper attire”. It really made the whole night a lot more special.

Invitations and Suspense!

McKenna's 1st birthday invite

Sending out invitations in a timely manner can really build suspense for the party itself. When you take care with your invitations you make an impression on everyone that is invited about what kind of effort you put in to make it special. I am learning Photoshop at this point but my SIL is amazingly talented with it and has helped me with many of my party invitations. She has an etsy shop where she offers this service (along with other similar services).

As I mentioned earlier, I’m working on our upcoming gender reveal party and I am soooo excited!! I will share some of the ideas here soon.

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On getting back up

vince lombardi quote header

It’s been a rough couple of weeks around these parts. Some of it was a good thing but some of it has been really chaotic and stressful. I was MIA all last week from here for a couple of reasons.

This pregnancy is kicking my butt. I’m so tired all the time but I’m pushing myself to get the things done that I need to every day.

A big portion of our roof came flying off during a monsoon storm about a week and a half ago. I am still dealing with roofers to get quotes and the insurance adjuster who doesn’t seem to want to give me the money that it will cost to get the roof repaired.

We’ve had some money stresses – ’nuff said.

This is a fun one… We just decided that we are going to sell our house! We tried last year but it didn’t work out so we are at it again and I have a good feeling about it. Although, I’m trying not to get my hopes up. We will be renting a home after we sell this home for a year or so and I’m a little excited for it. I haven’t really rented besides when I was in college and have been a home owner since 2006 so this will be new for me. I was talking to a good friend of mine who has been renting for awhile and she agreed to write a post on the pros and cons of renting! I’m excited because it’s in the forefront of my mind right now for sure.

Now just because things have been rough doesn’t mean I’m giving up here! This is where I get to let my voice ring true and I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon.

I made up this printable if you need a reminder like I do to keep getting back up!

Vince Lombardi quote

Click here to download