Monday, May 7, 2018

Mommy Style Monday: Spring Cleaning

Greetings from Albuquerque! We're getting settled over here - which means the apartment is a huge mess and we're wallowing in the stress of how much money it takes to move anywhere. Joy of joys!

Writing this post is going to make me miss my tiny house, most likely, but here we go anyway!

An old picture of the front of our tiny house. I think I have some new ones on my camera but I'll have to upload them later because my camera is by the baby and the baby is sleeping...
Growing up, I was the kid who would do anything to get out of cleaning, and honestly I didn't grow out of that until a little ways into college probably... ah! Embarrassing. I mean, I could tidy up, for sure, but actual CLEANING was something I wasn't super in to.

Turns out, owning your my own home gave me a delightful sense of taking pride in my own space! I have become the type of person who loves organizing and cleaning! I enjoy making each space in my  home clean and functional! In fact, I often look forward to it. If something isn't getting as clean as I want it to, I'll look on pinterest for "hacks" and try them out. I did that a few weeks ago when I didn't want to scrub the tub until my arms fell off, but also wanted the tub to be sparkling white. I shared the little "recipe" on Instagram stories and SO MANY people messaged me about it and how they used it, like more people than have ever cared about my stories before hahaha, so I'll share that at the end of this post. For now, I think I'll share a few tips that work for me to make keeping my home clean a good time instead of a dreaded time!

1. Don't shirk the small stuff! So much time and energy is saved if I do things the minute I see them need to be done. I know this is from a book or something (I haven't read it!), but I've heard it said that  if it takes less than a minute, just do it now. Some people change that to five minutes, which I think is fine too. I used to be the type of person who would see something laying on the ground and think "I'll just pick that up later" but when later comes there are 10 things on the ground instead of just one and it takes longer! I find this rule makes the biggest difference when it comes to doing the dishes. If I do the dishes as we go throughout the day, we don't have the gigantic pile at the end of the day, and it's a much more relaxing evening! So basically, pick up as you go throughout your day. It usually takes 30 seconds to put something away!

2. Find Your GO Motivator! I'm not always super motivated in the morning to immediately start cleaning, even though I do like a clean house. Some days, I'd much rather sit on the couch eating ice cream and watching TV. What? Yep, that's me. So the big thing for me is to find what gets me going! I have found that listening to podcasts is something I really enjoy, so I save the podcasts for when I am cleaning and cooking. Maybe music gets you going, so listen to music! Make an awesome playlist just for cleaning! Find a podcast you love. Promise yourself you can eat your favorite treat when you're finished. Just find that one little step that gets you moving.

3. Set a Schedule! Cleaning is incredibly overwhelming if you are the main person in charge, and if you have a whole house/apartment to clean. It feels like the work is never done! I have a schedule set, so I do a super good job cleaning one room a day. I tidy the other rooms as I go along like usual, but I really scrub and dust a certain room just once a week. Monday is bathroom, Tuesday is living room, Wednesday is kitchen, Thursday is the office, Friday is laundry day and laundry room, Saturday is bedrooms. I don't stick rigidly to this schedule, because I'm very happily a flexible person, but I do love it as a reference point!

This spring I really got the organizing bug, and I made some rooms in our house a lot more functional. We built some shelves to go in the closets for extra storage, painted, and moved all the toys out of the living room and in to the office! That made the biggest difference in our home. Things stayed a lot cleaner! I also organized all our cleaning supplies and went through our closets! Because I was already doing the small things every day, it wasn't too overwhelming to undertake those projects, and all of that organizing really made my job even easier!

Anyway, I guess my advice is to just find a rhythm that works for you. If you are struggling with where to start, find what motivates you, pick a room, and go for it! Start small and work your way up. Taking care of your home really can be a joyful opportunity if you let it!

I'm excited to see what the other moms do! Check them out below, and sign up here if you'd like to be a part of the next mommy style Monday! It's the first Monday of the month and we focus on your own way of doing things like fashion, kids activities, routines, date nights, taking time for yourself, etc! We'd love to have you.

The Sparkling Bathtub (And any similar surface) Recipe:
1/2 cup baking soda
1 tsp blue dawn dish soap
Warm water

Mix warm water in with the baking soda until it becomes a paste, then mix in the dawn soap. Apply to surface with any tool you'd like! I use a sponge and have been very happy with the results.

Kiana at Glitter&Donuts
Lauren at The Andrew Life

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Easter 2018


This year Easter was extra fun because Nathan is old enough to grasp a lot more of it! Last year he had fun getting his basket and stuff, but this year was even better. I have realized that I want to make Easter more about the "reason for the season" and less about the Easter bunny for my children. The week leading up to Easter, we focused on the last week of Christ's life before he was resurrected. We used this guide from The Small Seed and had a short little devotional every night before bed! It was a good reminder for me and Alex, and it was fun to see Nathan get excited to hear the stories. He especially liked watching the bible videos, and we had a few good discussions.

The actual holiday fell over General Conference, which in our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints a.k.a. Mormon church) is a weekend where the prophet, apostles, and other general authorities share messages with us all weekend. I actually saw someone online saying they thought it was weird that none of the Mormons went to church on Easter Sunday this year, but I don't find it weird at all! I love when Easter falls over conference. We literally spend the whole weekend learning about Christ and how to be more like Him. It's the best way to celebrate Easter, if you ask me.

On Easter Sunday we had an Easter basket ready for Nathan, and we had hidden eggs around the house for him to find.

In his basket I included:
A miniature Mater from Cars.
Three books - Book of Mormon Characters, Temples Around the World, and Joseph Smith History (They are seriously the perfect little church books! You can find them here.)
A magnetic tic-tac-toe board
New church outfit for Nathan and Amelia

Nathan especially loved his Mater! If you didn't know already (how could you miss it?) the kid loves Cars! After that Alex got Nathan going on the egg hunt, and Nathan had a blast finding eggs around the room. They each only had one piece of candy (sour patch kids or cadbury eggs) and two of the eggs had mini Thomas trains!

That night we had Easter dinner with some of our good friends here, and it was so special to gather together with our little families and talk and watch our kids play! I can't wait for next year when Amelia is excited about it too!! Kids are seriously the best. (I say as I hear Nathan banging around in his room instead of napping... ;) )
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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

CaseyLand Closet

Last year around this time I was all excited about taking pictures of my outfits every day of the week and sharing them in a little round up post! I got two weeks in and then I got the first trimester exhaustion and it took enough energy to get dressed that taking pictures seemed impossible.

So, I'm back! And I make no promises! I mean, this was the first week and I only took three pictures!

Why do I want to do this? A few reasons, I guess. I have always enjoyed getting dressed. The right outfit can do wonders for confidence. I find that when I'm feeling good about the way I look, I get more done during the day around the house, with my kids, and outside of the home as well. I have more energy than the days that I just throw sweats on and barely make time to wash my face. That's not to say those days don't happen - they definitely do! I do not get ready every single day, but I definitely try to get ready most days. And that's also not to say I don't enjoy wearing sweats! I most definitely do. I have this comfy pair of leggings I got from TJ Maxx that are literally perfection. They are soooo soft and have pockets, and I could go on and on! Anyway!

I've been working on being more intentional with my life in general, but especially clothes. I used to buy buy buy when I saw something on sale or thought it looked pretty cute. It's all retail therapy, right? I went through my closet and did a MAJOR overhaul. I got rid of 5 or 6 bags of clothes that I wasn't in love with, or that I was saving for some reason even though I wasn't wearing them. I've made a new resolve to only allow myself to buy clothes I have an actual need for, and in that case, I want the item to be high quality so I can count on it lasting. I'd much rather spend a little more money on one item that will last than on 5 items that will go out of style or wear out quickly. I'm about to switch out my winter closet for my spring/summer closet (come on Indiana spring, where are you?!) and I already know some more stuff I'm going to get rid of because I didn't wear it all winter.

With a smaller wardrobe, I've realized how necessary good accessories are. Before, when my closet was full to bursting, I didn't have the energy or time to think about accessories. I couldn't ever decide on a necklace to buy because I didn't know what it would "go" with. With a smaller selection of clothes, it's much easier for me to buy accessories because I know what I'm going to wear! So my new goal with getting dressed is to also be intentional with accessorizing, and it's made getting dressed a lot more fun!

I know to some people this may seem frivolous or a time waste, but at least for me, this expression of personal creativity brings more joy to myself and in turn helps me be a better wife, mom, and friend, simply because I feel good about myself.

I could go on and on but... we'll save some thoughts for future posts I guess!

We have had a lot of grey rainy and snowy days here lately, so the picture quality is not the best, but we'll just have to get over that for now.

Hat: Gigi Pip, Hoodie and Leggings: TJ Maxx 
(These are my most favorite leggings in the world, I scoured Amazon for them and couldn't find them. If I ever do I will link them.)

Pants: Nordstrom   Sweater: Gap   Neck Scarf: Madewell   Smartwatch that I never take off: Fitbit Ionic 

Hat: Gigipip   Jacket: Gap   Tee: Piper and Scoot   Pants: American Eagle   Shoes: Nordstrom Rack
Seriously these jeans are so beautiful. They are ultra high waisted and I am 100% on board. 

When I do these posts, do you guys want links? Everything I'm wearing in this post is either old or was on sale, but I'd be happy to point you in the right direction if I know it's still sold or know of something similar.

Challenge for today: Have fun getting dressed!! Be aware of what you are putting on your body! Find that outfit you would wear every day if it wasn't weird to do so!
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Monday, April 9, 2018

Amelia: Five Months

My little angel Amelia is 5 months old! I am shocked. She's almost 14lbs, and her wrist rolls and thigh rolls and neck rolls get kissed 1,000 times every day. But those cheeks? Those get kissed double, because I mean... have you SEEN THEM?!!?

Mia has known how to roll over since 3 months, but is very selective about when she chooses to do so. She mostly likes to do it when no one has eyes on her. She's just a very content person. Everybody always comments on her smile. If you smile at her, you are guaranteed a smile back, and it's so fun to see how happy that makes everyone! She brings joy with her everywhere she goes. I constantly get asked, "is she always this happy??" The answer is yes. Unless she is very tired, which I feel like goes for most humans.

She has no trouble grasping whatever toy she wants to hold, and she's probably a week or two from sitting up all by herself all the time! Right now she can do it with minimal support. Sometimes I'll think she's doing fine and then she just face plants in slow motion as she reaches to grab something - with a smile on her face the whole time, of course.

She isn't super snuggly unless I'm putting her to sleep. She's much more interested in the world around her. She refuses to nurse a full meal unless we are in a dark room by ourselves because there is too much to look at. 

Unlike Nathan, Mia doesn't care for binkies. We had one of those green soothie ones you get from the hospital, and she tolerated that one for when she was sleepy. About a week and a half ago, we went on a walk with some friends to the Celery Bog. The Celery Bog is a park with lots of walking paths and a "bog" which is like a large pond... I'm not sure how to describe it. Anyway, we were sitting on the dock eating lunch with the kids, and I reached over to grab Amelia's nursing cover. I did not look at the nursing cover, or I would have noticed that the binky was on top of it, and I would have known that when I grabbed it the binky would fly into the bog. So yeah, the binky flew into the bog, and is gone forever and now Amelia has let me know 100% that all other binkies are THE WORST INVENTION. Oh well, I guess I won't have to break the binky habit for the second time!

Anyway, she just woke up from a nap so I need to go get her, but basically she is the most angelic sweetest baby who ever lived and I often fall asleep feeling like I didn't look at her enough even though I stared at her all day long.

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Off The Shelf

At the beginning of the year, I made the personal goal to read at least one book a month! I am happy to report I have been successful so far! I decided as a way to keep up with it, I will share what I read and how I felt about it every three months. I love reading other people's reading recommendations, so I'm excited! If you've read any of these books, let's talk about them! I love hearing other people's thoughts. I used to be a huge reader back in my youth, and slowly as I've gotten older and more responsibilities I have let the habit die. I'm a pretty quick reader, and it's amazing to me how hard it is now for my brain to get into "reading mode" and absorb a book fast. I want to get back to that place!


I LOVED this book. It was pretty long, and to be honest, it took me a bit to get going, but once I was into the story I couldn't put it down. This book is a World War II historical fiction, which is one of my favorite genres. The story is about two sisters in France and it follows their experiences during the war and their relationship with each other. I feel like World War II is just the greatest example of good vs. evil, and reading about people who experienced it and how hard it was coupled with how many miracles there were is just really fascinating! I cried a lot in this book ha ha, so if you don't like reading sad things you probably shouldn't pick this up. I love it when a book can connect to you on such a deep level though, so I didn't mind it. Overall I left this book feeling a little sad, but mostly inspired. Definitely a must read.


So, Alex also has a reading goal for the year which resulted in an Amazon shopping spree haha. I saw this book in his pile, and remembered hearing it was pretty good, so I snatched it up. You guys, I am OBSESSED. I've always liked Nike, but hearing the story of how it came to be made me truly love the company! It's such an incredible story. My favorite thing about it was just how Phil really surrounded himself with people whose strengths were different from his own, and he let them grow and accomplish things and it just turned his company into a HUGE success. It's truly a testament of how doing something by yourself can be alright, but when you add in other people it can become something amazing. This was a total page turner, and a really quick read. The World War II genre might be one of my favorites, but my all time favorite genre is Memoirs and Autobiographies. I LOVE learning about people's lives. Hence the blogging, I suppose...


I'm going to be honest, I did not finish the last chapter of this book... ahh!!! Haha maybe I still will. I picked this one up because Alex read it and told me he wanted me to read it so we could discuss. I'll be honest, "self-help" books are my least favorite. I just have a really hard time reading them from cover to cover! Often I will read a few good quotes and then feel like I got all I needed from the book. This... was one of those books. This book was written back in the early 1900's but wasn't published until the last decade because his family thought the book would be too controversial. In this book, Napoleon Hill is "interviewing" the devil about how he controls people. There were a lot of great discussion points, and some truly thought provoking moments, but overall I struggled to make my way through the book. A lot of it was information I have already learned from other resources. The "controversial" part of the book was concerning his thoughts on schools and churches, which I can totally see why people would get upset, but I actually agreed for the most part with what he was saying. Interesting, but not a must-read in my opinion if you already believe in the power of positive thinking and forming your own opinions about things. 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

This one is kind of a cheat... I started this book last year. This falls into the "self-help" category again, so I did read a lot of it and loved a ton of it, and then I lost interest. What's funny though is I finally decided to finish it and realized I was 75% of the way through! I should have finished it! As far as this book goes, I really did love it. Yes, it took me a while to get through, but just because of my own personal tastes. Elizabeth Gilbert is talking about creativity and how everyone can be creative if you stop living in fear, basically. I LOVED this message, because I feel like I am always thinking of cool things to do and then talking myself out of it. One of my favorite ideas from this book was when she said that other people might be doing what you want to do, but no one will ever do it exactly like you.  This meant a lot to me because I'm always thinking that other people are doing things better than me, when really, I should just think that I can do those things too and add my own spin! Anyway, there were a bunch of other thoughts I liked from this book too, so I totally recommend it! 

What is very surprising/interesting to me about the past three months of reading is that 3/4 of them are non-fiction! I have always been a fiction person through and through so I was not expecting that at all haha. I'm excited for the next three months! I actually have another "self-help" book I want to read, so I guess I'm coming around to the genre haha. I think listening to podcasts has really helped me with that? Maybe a post for another day. 

If you have read these books and want to discuss, or want to read any of these books and want more info, or have any recommendations for what I should read next, let me know!! 
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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Mommy Style Monday: Connecting with Kids

The thing I was most afraid of before I had Amelia was losing my connection with Nathan. Nathan and I were a well oiled machine. I knew what he was thinking every minute, and he was happy to go along with whatever I had planned. He had all the attention every day all day long and tantrums and miscommunications rarely happened. I was really afraid of losing that. I was terrified that he would feel neglected and left behind by me while I was busy taking care of a baby.

Guess what? Some of that happened. Nathan had a hard time without my 24/7 attention in the beginning. He had more tantrums. He started deliberately disobeying me. He developed a little "attitude". I think a lot of this has to do with him being two years old, but some of it was growing pains with a new baby in the house. I knew that finding time to give him meaningful attention would make all the difference! 

And guess what? It did. For the most part, haha.

It took a while for Nathan to understand that if he was quiet while I put Amelia down for a nap, that meant more time for him to have one-on-one time with me. He gets it now! When Mia is sleeping I try to make a special effort to get on the floor with Nathan and play whatever he wants to play. I put my phone across the room and have conversations with him. We play games, practice numbers and letters, watch a show together, read books, or he helps me with whatever chore I need to finish. Some days I only have 10 minutes to devote to him solely, and some days I have hours. Just part of dealing with a baby! But Nathan is getting much better at playing on his own, and I think he also cherishes the time we have together just the two of us. The other thing I've made sure to do is I still rock him before he goes to sleep every day, at least for his naps. He loves this special attention and is getting very good at stalling bed time by asking me for more songs haha.

The other thing I've made a better effort to do for him is get him out of the house. He is a really good sleeper, and will often sleep in until 10 or 10:30 in the morning. This was relaxing for me, but our mornings ended up being wasted most days. I decided to get him up at 9 if he wasn't already awake and always have something to do in the mornings. On Mondays we go to his gym class, Tuesdays we go to free time at the gym or go to the park or local museum, Wednesdays are library day, Thursdays are friend days, and Fridays we are starting to go on walks at a local park with some friends! (If it would warm up 10 degrees or more that would be awesome haha.) Having these activities geared toward him make a huge difference in his overall attitude, and he gets excited to see what we are going to do each day! Luckily Amelia is still at the age where she can nap on the go. I just wear her in the carrier and she sleeps through the morning activities most times!

Speaking of Amelia, connecting with her can be equally as difficult with a demanding two year old! She's only five months, so there isn't a ton to be done with her, but I try to hold her as often as I can, and make lots of eye contact with her. She loves staring at me and smiling and touching my face, so I let her do that as often as I can. I take her from room to room with me so she's always involved in what I'm doing. When Nathan is napping and she is awake, I cuddle with her or have her do tummy time and show her some new toys. Every now and then I get the chance to hold her while she's asleep, and while this often makes me feel a little like I'm wasting time and should be getting household stuff done, I remind myself that really the most important thing I could be doing is helping my little girl feel loved. The dishes and vacuuming can wait. Amelia is getting bigger every day, and I cherish every minute I get with her alone. With Nathan at that age I was holding him all day long, cuddling him, letting him sleep on me... she's a lot more easy going than he was, but I try to give her the same attention whenever I can!

I think the best thing for kids is to just make sure that you give them even five minutes of your undivided attention. They just want to feel loved and important!

I'm excited to see what other moms do with their kids! Click the links below to see what they are up to! And fill out this form if you want to join in the next Mommy Style Monday!

Kiana at Glitter&Donuts
Madeline at CaseyLand
Lauren at The Andrew Life

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Spring Break and Hamilton

This year Alex and I will have been married for five years! We'll also be moving to Albuquerque on our anniversary, which is kind of a bummer, so I came up with a BRILLIANT way to celebrate the day a bit early. I got an email saying something about affordable tickets to Hamilton in Chicago and when I clicked on it, it turned out they actually were quite affordable! (Still expensive, but not $500 a pop.) I talked to Alex and he was on board, so we made it happen! I was quite meticulous about my picking of the tickets. I wanted to make sure I got the best seats for the best price, and I think I did ok! 

Originally we were hoping we could make another trip to the D.C. area to visit my sister Abi and Jake for Alex's spring break as our anniversary gift to ourselves, but financially that just wasn't going to work this time. So I was telling Abi about our new plan, and she and Jake also love Hamilton so they ended up coming to us for spring break instead! And then my sister Olivia heard what we were doing and wanted in, so she got a ticket for her birthday and she and my mom decided to come out here as well. My mom said she would babysit, so I was happy about that. But suddenly our anniversary "date" seemed to include a whole group...

We'll just have to do a smaller activity for the two of us to make up for it haha.

The musical was on May 14, so my mom and Olivia flew in on the 13th. Abi and Jake were planning on meeting us in Chicago because they got a cheap flight to Indianapolis with a layover in Chicago. They decided they would just stop off in Chicago and miss the connecting flight. We decided it would be fun to do a little brunch in Chicago before the matinee and it all seemed perfect! Until! Abi and Jake's flight got cancelled. Suddenly it was a mad dash to find a new flight and the only one they could get was to Indianapolis on the 14th, landing at 10am, which meant we would have to get them from the airport and head straight to Chicago. No brunch for us. :(

It ended up being a fun day regardless. Hamilton was absolutely amazing and I would totally pay to see it again in a heartbeat! The cast was so talented. Alex was actually the one who clued me in to Hamilton way back when, and I've wanted to see the show ever since! I remember Alex worrying that seeing the show might take away from the music - kind of like seeing a movie based on a book I guess? (He had never seen any broadway shows.) It was completely the opposite! Everything on stage just added to the music, and actually helped it make more sense to me (since I get a little lost with who is singing when on the soundtrack). I especially loved watching "Satisfied" and I totally got chills during "Wait For It", not to mention teared up during "Quiet Uptown"... take me back!

not the most flattering picture, but the boys were anxious to keep the line moving... typical.


After the show we walked a couple blocks to Shake Shack and indulged in some burgers, crinkle cut fries, and milkshakes. We all agreed the show was worth every penny!

On the drive home we listened to the podcast A Very Fatal Murder, which was put out by The Onion and is pretty hilarious if you're into true crime podcasts! (Which, did anyone listen to Up and Vanished? Because I have some thoughts. Mostly about the podcast host himself. Hit me up.)

We got back to find both babies still awake, waiting to see their Aunt Abi! They had a wonderful day with their grandma, and it made me really wish we lived close enough to have my mom babysit all the time. Maybe someday!

The rest of the week was spent enjoying family time, and I even wrangled in my mom and Olivia to help me paint our hallway and Nathan's room! We are finally getting going on home improvement on the aesthetic level, and I am beyond thrilled. It was so valuable to have extra help especially getting Nathan's room done because that's the one I was most stressed about! Now he can sleep in there while we paint the other rooms and it's no big deal :)

It was a tough transition back to normal life when they left, especially for Nathan! He really loves all the one on one attention, and was pretty bummed when it was just me and him all day during the day again. I felt the same way. ;)
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