Sunday, April 6, 2014

An Update and A Blog Break

Hi friends!

As you may have noticed, I'm blogging a lot less these days.

And I'm going to step aside from blogging for awhile. 

You may see a post from me on a monthly basis, so I'm not disappearing altogether. :) 

I still enjoy blogging and really value all the friendships I have with you ladies.  

I'm in a season of my life where I need to cut out the things that take time away from what matters more...my family, my marriage and, yes, my sleep.
In the next ten weeks, Sutton will take gymnastics, Grayson will take karate lessons {fingers crossed he'll stick with it} and Joey and I will be involved in a church small group. These are ALL firsts for our family!! 

On these two days we have together, I don't want to be sidetracked about follow up emails and comments and fresh content...You get the picture. 

As for the other days, I'm finding that blogging isn't fitting in to my schedule that well.
If it does, I have to force it. 

But, I'll visit your blogs when I can, I pinky promise. 

And I'll leave you with this...

Joey and I actually went on ANOTHER date...TWO in one month. #Unprecedented 

We are wholeheartedly working on dating more and adding balance to our lives.
For me, right now, balance means blogging even less.  

Thanks for reading and for staying with me over time. 

XOXO

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Happy 9th Anniversary To Us!

What makes a date great? The one you're with, of course.

And last night, I was with the man I met during our very first day of college - 14 years ago.

Upon meeting this earring-clad boy, he told me he "had goats back home."

This city girl was like, "Whaaaaaat?" #YouveGotToBeKidding #Baaah

Despite these "minor details," Joey and I quickly became best friends. 

Inseparable. 

And everyone on campus wondered why we weren't dating. 
By the end of our freshman year in 2001, we eventually DID take our friendship to the next level. 

Then on March 12, 2005...nine years ago today...we got married. 
So last night, we went on a date to celebrate.

Let me say that again, because we nev-ver go on dates. 

LAST NIGHT, WE WENT ON A DATE!!

Joey's work schedule is not conducive for us to go out. I wish he had regular hours and normal work days, but he just doesn't. And since he works nearly 60 hours a week, we like to spend his days off as a family, doing things with the kids. 

We often have "movie nights" in the living room after the kids go down, but Date Nights?? 
Um. Not so much. 

Last night, my sister and her husband graciously watched the kids while we dined at Bellini's. 

We even dressed up for the occasion! I was GIDDY! 

I think we BOTH were. 

I felt like I needed a corsage or something.

:)

We took Stoplight Selfies.
With and WITHOUT sunglasses. Because, let's be thorough, people. 
We took individual pictures. Because CHEESY was okay on DATE NIGHT!
We took pictures of our food. Because, how often does one eat duck? {That was so Joey's.}
**And mine was just pretty.**
{I ate this. entire. bowl. of fettuccine alfredo. If that's wrong, then I don't wanna be right.}
I kept taking pictures, which I'm fairly certain is a date DON'T.

 But I said, "Hey, we've got to DOCUMENT this date. It may not come again until next year!"
And I hope another evening together does come sooner. But if it doesn't, that's okay, too. 

I'm just thankful for every day I have with Joey - the only man I've ever loved.

XOXO,

Sunday, January 26, 2014

***And Then It Was My Birthday***

This post is brought to you by an older and wiser Meredith, because my birthday was on January 21st! 

Can you guess how old I am now?? 28, 32, 36 or 41? 

I'll tell you at the end of the post. :)
Joey made my birthday extremely special. It was his day off, and we had a fun dinner out with the kids. 
Normally, we don't really get each other anything. But THIS year, the man surprised me with a few special gifts, as well as this painting I'd had my eye on. 
!!!
And then my sister spoiled me with this pretty statement necklace. 
When it comes to my family, my mom and I always celebrate our birthdays together {ours are 5 days apart}. 

Here we are at my sister's house on Saturday night.
Let me just tell you about my mom:
She's a gifted music teacher who teaches 7 different classes every day with some of the toughest behaved students. Despite her exhausting career, she makes time to visit nursing homes on Sundays after church. An animal lover to the core, she's historically taken in stray dogs and loved them unconditionally. My mom STILL puts us - her kids - before herself. She is selfless, gorgeous, generous and hilarious. I love you, Mom!! 
{Worth noting: While I AM a rockstar, those aren't guitars on my shirt.}

My birthday was spent hearing from my dearest of friends and family. I felt truly blessed and grateful for another year. 
So you see...This 32 year old got to have her cake and eat it, too. 


Until next time,

Sunday, January 12, 2014

6 Tips For Creating A Gallery Wall

I interrupt your New Year's workout regimen to bring you my updated {but never finished} gallery wall. 

Gallery walls are a popular trend...
...and if you're uncertain about starting your own, perhaps this post will encourage you to go for it. 

1. Select a space. 
Before you say "Duh," remember that a gallery doesn't always work well in just any room. Choose wisely.

2. Before you nail it, arrange it on the floor.
I did NOT follow this rule. And there are a LOT of unnecessary holes in my wall as a result.

3. The art doesn't have to be expensive. 
I found this lovely ship painting at a garage sale for $1! To this day, it's one of my favorite pieces.

4. Pick a theme or make the art compliment each other. 
From the dueling pistols to the English hunters, these pieces flow well...even if they don't specifically relate to one another. 
Side note: Emphasize this theme on a different or nearby place in your home for a seamless flow.

5. Make sure there is sufficient lighting.
You don't want people squinting, right?

6. Throw out these rules and just do whatever you want! 
If you LOVE something - yes, finger-painted pictures count - hang it. Be bold. Be YOU through your art. 

****I'm currently working on a smaller gallery wall in my bedroom.****
I'm so ready for Spring and all the garage sales that ensue!! 
{Garage and estate sales produce so much good art!}

Do you have an art wall? If so, tell us so we can take a peek.
If not, would you like to start one?

Linking up with: 

Until next time, 

Friday, December 27, 2013

5 Ways I Improved Family Life In 2013

"I achieved everything I wanted to this year," said no mom ever.

And if I'm being honest, I failed to do my best in a myriad of ways.

Yet...

{Yes, there's a "yet!"}

This year, I DO feel that I improved some areas relating to my family life.

And it all began with examining a few personal excuses.

1. I changed the landscape of Dinner Time.  
Unfortunately, my family doesn't have the privilege of my husband's presence during dinner. Because of Joey's work schedule, and the excuse that my little ones were in booster seats anyway, I'd always justified a TV-centered dinner for myself and the children.

Then about a year ago, I dropped off something to my sister during dinner, and her beautiful family {which included her husband and their three small children} was eating around the table. That image stuck with me as I drove home. I wanted our dinner hour to be the same...and I knew my excuses had gotten in the way long enough.

Eventually, something clicked. I dried up my pity party tears and decided that just because Joey couldn't join us didn't mean technology had to. I decided that, from now on, the children and I will eat together in the kitchen each night. And we will say grace. And the kids will say, "May I be excused when they are finished." You see, I was raised in a home where we ate dinner around the table nearly every single night, so, naturally, I'm fond of this method. I know how this act of breaking bread together can unite a family and help to foster communication and thoughtful dialogue. My goal is to instill this family time throughout the week with my own son and daughter. {And, no, you're not a bad parent if you still eat in front of the TV. You have to do what works for YOU. :)}


2. We decided to homeschool our son for Pre-K. 
And you know what? I think this is going to be an "until further notice" decision, for we are loving it! This learning format works for our family, and we really do LIKE being together. I assure you - homeschooling doesn't = weird kids. Oh, the looks I often get when I tell people, "We homeschool." After the eyebrows lower, people withdraw a bit and probably feel sorry for my poor, "unsocialized" kids?. I just shrug it off because, chances are, I would've given the same response had I not understood what homeschooling is all about.

And what IS it about? It's about flexibility. It's about praying in the "classroom" and pledging allegiance to the Christian flag, as well as the American flag and Oklahoma flag. It's about my son learning ahead  -because he's ready - and challenging him to rise to the occasion. It's about field trips and creative play and lots of hugs and kisses from his teacher. ;)


3. I incorporated healthier living into our daily lives.
As a stay at home mom, and as a homeschooling mom, I like incorporating workouts - or P.E. -  into a few of our days. When I workout, the kids are jumping around with me. They run and twirl and roll around and laugh. It's extremely satisfying to hear their enjoyment. Today, my son was running up and down the hall saying, "Sissy, come on! Let's run so our bodies can get healthy and strong!"

No, we're not always riding bikes around the neighborhood in matching cardigans. "Alls" I'm saying is that my husband and I worked even harder this year to cultivate a favorable perception of exercise and health, and we led by example.

{Girl Code: When your BFF loves mascots, you stop walking and take a picture with Thunder's "Rumble!"}



4. Our children now learn a memory verse every 2 weeks.
If you don't think something as simple as a memory verse can impact your family dynamic, you're mistaken. For example, this week in school, Grayson learned Ephesians 6:1 - "Children, obey your parents." {I've already leaned on this verse 1,000 times.} When he's nervous about the dark, I say, "Remember your memory verse? Jesus says, 'I am always with you.' He's with us right now. Even in the dark. So we don't have to be afraid!"

Of course, memory verses don't solve all of our problems! But...they do provide a little nugget of truth to aid us throughout our days. It's like a crutch, there to fall back on when we need strength. This also serves as a way to cultivate a knowledge of the Bible, which is important to me.



5. I blogged less.
Any blogger knows just how TRULY time consuming blogging can be. {Can I get an amen??} There's the writing, the picture uploading, the linking up, the following up on comments, the visiting other blogs, the upkeep of sponsorships...{I'm out of breath!} So, I chose to blog a lot less and spend more time away from the computer.

This is why I don't advertise or do sponsorships on my blog. I don't want any strings attached in terms of holding up my end of a bargain. All bets are off when you're still wiping bottoms and don't get much time for yourself. If that makes me a horrible blogger, then...I'm a horrible blogger! :) We ALL have real lives to tend to. Life is our first priority, and we should never ever feel guilty for that. I APPLAUD people when they "take time off." {I realize, however, that some of you DO have a huge following/sponsors and subsequent obligations to uphold. I say to you: Keep up the good work!}

******

And there you have it. The 5 things I improved this year.

But, alas...

There are still so many things to work on.

I want to react more calmly to my children's disasters. Drink more water. I want to spend less time on social media. I never want to make my children or husband feel like an incovenience. I want to work even harder on being healthy. Send more snail mail. I want to buy my kids less toys and stop caving in to their every desire. I want to get them to bed earlier. I want to go out with my husband more - this NEVER happens!! I want to judge less, extend grace more. Turn off the TV so much more.

The list goes on. And it will always be there, for I'm not perfect - and, frankly, I don't want to be.

I do, however, want to examine my excuses and intentionally work to eradicate them.

May 2014 be a prolific year for us all in terms of improvement.

May I come back next year with - dare I say? - 6 things on my list. #GoBigOrGoHome

What did YOU do right this year? Any goals for next year?

Linking up with: 
Feature Friday at Blissful and Domestic
Thriving Thursdays at Serving Joyfully

Thank you for a wonderful year,

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Why Christmas Means So Much To Me

There's something about Christmas that fills my heart with gratitude. 
Gratitude that Christ was born - that God sent His Son to earth. That Mary was so selfless. Can YOU imagine riding a donkey while having contractions and then giving birth in a stable - the smell of manure around you? It's scary enough having a baby in the comfort of a hospital. 
I am so grateful that I get to spend Christmas with my family. Today we went to my parent's home. I rarely show them all, as I like to ask before I post pictures of them {#goodetiquette}. Let's just say I didn't get a chance amidst all the festivities today.

I did manage to "okay" a funny one with my younger brother, Timmy. He likes to poke fun at my old sorority days with this throwback pose. In two weeks, he'll be moving out of state, and my family will miss him terribly. This Christmas with him was kind of special. 
Here's my little cabbage patch kid with her loving daddy! 
Would you guess that my tunic and her dress are from the Goodwill?
On Christmas Eve, we had my in-laws over. Grayson and Sutton wore their pajamas, and we ate pizza and watched It's A Wonderful Life - one of my favorite movies. It was a lot of fun!
Christmas is when I make my famous sausage balls...
...And they are worth every calorie. To me, Christmas means carrying on traditions as simple as this. 
I'm also grateful for life-long friendships, which is something I share with my best friend, Janaea. {We met on the playground in the 4th grade.} I love how Christmas brings family and friends together. 
But, I can't forget...this season isn't always so cheery and bright. I have a few friends who are going through divorce, and my dear friend from high school just lost his older sister who leaves behind a little boy. Loss, loneliness, hard times, divorce, sickness - there are so many things that people are battling today. If you are one of them, I pray that you will find even the smallest comfort by leaning on the one who was born on Christmas. 

I wish you all peace and love this season. 

***And I'd like to give a special thank you to all those serving overseas.***

With love,