Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pink Blush $25 Giveaway

12 3 26
I recently posted about my experience with Pink Blush Maternity. They are an amazing company with so many options for us mamas-to-be. Their choices are constantly increasing--a breath of fresh air in an ever dwindling world of choice for pregnancy friendly clothing. Also, for those of you who are not with child and are looking for affordable, chic clothing--they also have a non-maternity line full of super cute clothing. Both are currently having a flash sale with items starting as low as $15--I got a super cute floral maternity dress for this much on one of these sales.

I'm thrilled to be teaming up with this awesome company today for a $25 giveaway--just in time for the holidays! This would make a great gift... to yourself... or to someone else if you're feeling extra generous. After all who couldn't use a little spruce up in their holiday wardrobe? Simply enter the giveaway with the Rafflecopter Giveaway link below. If you're reading this, you likely already follow me which means you have automatic entry with a few simple clicks!

This giveaway will go for one week, it is open to international reader, and it's awesome. Good luck!

Also, in case you're wondering, the tunic featured above is from Pink Blush. I fell in love with the lace detail (which is also found on the arms) and I love how easy it is to pair with just about anything.  Oh, and it's on sale! My necklace and earring combo is also from Pink Blush--did I mention that they have awesome accessories? Well, they do. I love these particular pieces I've already worn them way too much... and I will continue to because the color is perfect for the holidays.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Life Lately | Forest Green + Printed Leggings

Admittedly, these pictures were taken a little while ago. I don't know why I never posted them. This post has just been around, lurking in my drafts, waiting for a good moment to make an appearance. 

...Okay, that's not entirely true. I know why I didn't post them. I didn't like these pictures at first. I was barely pregnant when these were taken, and I wasn't fond of the way my belly looked. But, now that my stomach is bigger and more pronounced, I see them in a whole new light! It's funny how perspective changes with an ever growing waistline. 

What is crazy to me now is that my body already feels so foreign and I still have sooo much longer to go, and so much growth to experience! I'm a little nervous to see how big I'll get. Not because I'm worried about my size so much as I am about how uncomfortable I'll be towards the end. With Klair, I felt like I was bursting at the seams. With my short little torso (I'm only 5'2") and her long body (she was 22" at birth) she was constantly in my ribs and every organ felt completely compressed, including my lungs. Breathing was a chore.

This time around I'm well ahead of where I was with Klair at this point in terms of belly size. If that's any indication of how big he is going to be, I am in trouble. Plus, I can already feel baby boy kicking! I felt him for the first time at 17 weeks when we were in Disneyland. The first movement felt like something a third trimester baby would do...and it completely shocked me. I was in denial that it could be him, but he did it again a few nights later. Klair and I were sitting in my bed. I yawned, he moved rather abruptly, and I exclaimed "whoa!" Klair thought my spontaneous burst was hilarious. I was convinced it was him. I looked it up, and apparently the startle reflex develops at 17 weeks, and that's exactly what it felt like--one large, startled movement. I suppose the noises of Disneyland and of my yawn surprised him enough to really move. Now I can feel him constantly with his kicks and movements, and at times we can tell exactly where he is by simply pressing on my belly. 

As much as I love it... it also scares me a little. It took until 22 weeks to feel Klair... that's a 5 week difference! And his kicks... well they're already pretty strong at times. I'm almost 19 weeks... doesn't it seem a little early for that? Once again, if these things are any indication of how big he is/will be... this pregnancy could get a lot harder. Klair was 8 lbs 3 oz... and it was a rough labor and recovery. I'm not sure I can handle a bigger baby. The third trimester and labor are looming a little for me...

But, I suppose on the flip side of that, I won't be sad if I have a big, strong baby boy. Klair was a bigger baby, and it was great. Despite the fact that she was born during cold season, she never got sick and did so well as a newborn. I think here size definitely helped her case. Maybe we can compromise and he can be right around the same size as Klair. That seems fair. I already know I can handle that. That's not too much to ask for, right? 

Haha, ahh the unknowns of pregnancy. It's such a trial of faith. I just have to continue putting one foot in front of the other, and hoping for the best. I feel grateful that things have gone as well as they have, and my fears have been eased by some very powerful priesthood blessings that Sam and I have both received recently which have promised good health for our baby. 

Speaking of which,  one such blessing actually took place today when Sam was set apart to be the Elders Quorum President. It's a pretty time intensive, and demanding leadership calling within our local congregation. Although I know he will do amazingly well (he's a born leader and one of the most spiritual people I know) it's easy to feel overwhelmed by it... especially in light of the fact that he's so busy with work. He's actually thousands of miles away on a business trip as I type this.

Before he left, I was able to be present as our Stake President (a leader over a large area and a number of wards) set him apart and conferred keys of the priesthood upon him to aid him in his ministry. It was an intensely spiritual moment, and the spirit conveyed to me so strongly that Sam's calling really had come from the Lord. It's exactly what he should be doing. In the blessing, I was surprised by how much our family was mentioned--and by how much I was mentioned as well. It seems that we will be very blessed because of Sam's service, and the promise of health and happiness for our family--particularly our children--made my eyes well up with tears. Sam has given me a few blessings of comfort during my pregnancy, and through him the Lord has promised that this baby will be healthy. Today was another confirmation of that. The baby will be well. Klair will be well. Our family will be well... these are the things I pray for most, and God comforted me personally today. I love the priesthood! 

Ok wow. That was a bit of a tangent from the original post about some pictures I didn't initially like. Ah well, that's what blogging is all about right? I can write whatever in the world I want to. I think in light of Sam being gone writing this all out is proving to be a little therapeutic for me. It's good for the soul. 

In case you're wondering, below are some outfit details. 

I bought the gold and black printed leggings last year at Forever 21 for $5. They were on sale, and I instantly fell in love with the gold detail and the fact that they're map inspired. Blame it on the geography teacher inside me. I've actually received a lot of compliments on them, and one girl thought they were designer leggings. Score! The forest green sweater came from a local little boutique. I love that it is flowy without being bulky. I hate bulky sweaters. I find them so unflattering on me. I also think the color is perfect for the holiday season! Under the sweater I layered a little striped jumper dress that I've had for years. I honestly don't even remember where I got it. And last but not least the brown lace-up booties also came from a local boutique. So, although you can't buy any of these exact items, here are some similar ones I've found: 

Happy Monday! Well, as happy as a Monday can be :) 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pink Blush Maternity Maxi + A (Cute) Photo Bomber

I recently had Pink Blush reach out to me for a collaboration, and I was able to choose some items from their vast and amazing maternity line. I was giddy to say the least, because I've been a fan of their clothing for awhile. It seems like most companies these days are discontinuing maternity clothes or, if they do have them, it's a tiny little section of the store with a handful of options. Pink Blush is a breath of fresh air in this regard. They have a huge inventory, affordable prices, and so many fashionable options for the mom-to-be! Also, if you're hesitant about the idea of ordering online, they offer free exchanges/returns and include a shipping label just in case. I've been really impressed with both their clothing and their friendly service.

When I first saw this dress, I fell in love. I've really been drawn to purples and reds lately. I like how dramatic they are, and so perfect for the fall season. This particular Pink Blush burgundy maternity maxi dress is both comfortable and flattering, and it's basic enough to wear in a variety of ways. I'm sure I'll be wearing it a lot throughout my pregnancy... and afterwards. 

Also, this post wouldn't be complete without mentioning my little photo companion. She was busy playing independently while we were outside with her until she noticed that Sam was taking photos. She then marched over, demanded to have my purse, and threw a tantrum until I gave in. After that she was surprisingly happy, which made for some cute photos. We even got her to kiss her baby brother! This is one of her favorite things to do now, and I'm so glad Sam captured such a sweet moment. Cutest photo bomber ever. 

Happy Friday! What plans do you have for the weekend?

Outfit Details

Klair's Outfit
Floral Dress (similar) | Leggings | Boots 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My Sister's Tee | Comfortable Stylish Fashion

Pregnancy is hard. That is my profound thought for the day. What's really been getting me lately (apart from the morning sickness that hasn't ended yet despite the fact that I'm well out of the normal time frame for it) is the lack of clothing that fits my body. I don't even enjoy shopping anymore, because I can guarantee that I'll hate 99.9% of everything I try on. Not just a "meh, it's alright" but I'll hate it... the way it fits, the way it feels... am I the only one who only lives in comfy pajamas and nightgowns around the house? They're all I can stand to wear. So, when I find something that I actually like wearing (and is socially appropriate for leaving home) it feels like a pretty big accomplishment.

I was recently introduced to an awesome online t-shirt company that fits both my demands--comfort first (obviously) while still being fashionable. The brand is called My Sister's Tee, and it's an online t-shirt company that was started by two sisters. They design shirts (and hoodies) with positive and stylish messages for women. Their products come in a variety of fits and colors, and they're extremely soft and comfy. I recently got the "Lover of Life" dolman style tee that I'm wearing above, and it has become a staple of my wardrobe. It works so well for pregnancy (long, flowy, stretchy, soft material) but it's not strictly a maternity shirt so it will be great afterwards too. Regardless of whether you're pregnant or not, I highly recommend checking them out!

What are some comfortable fashions that you like? I'm definitely open to suggestion!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Just a Stay at Home Mom

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my role as a mother. There's something about spending all my time with a 2 year old while creating another precious little life (complete with all the ups and downs of the pregnancy adventure)... I guess you could say that mommyhood is on my mind. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to stay home. I understand that it is a privilege to have the option--to have a husband who is able to support his family in such a wonderful way. We live a very comfortable life, and I get to take care of the cutest girl in all of history. I'm so blessed! I have the best job in the world. Yet, there's another side to the story as well. Even the best things in life come with complimentary trials. It's not always cupcakes and perfect day trips to the museum... my days are often repetitive, running together in a way which makes it easy to lose my sense of time, and my sense of self. My time is filled with mundane tasks, a lack of stimulating conversation, patience-trying toddler breakdowns, and messes that happen faster than my ability to clean them up (Klair is a viable tornado at times). The harder aspects of being a "stay-at-home-mom" are compounded by a world and culture that isn't always supportive of my decision. I graduated from a liberal arts college. I  know what many educated individuals think of my choice to not work outside the home. I had plenty of professors, people that I considered real mentors in many ways, who would view my decision as a waste of potential--who would label me as a sad cliche in Mormon Utah. And, there are also times when the oppression comes from within--from myself. I see successful women all around me making important, amazing contributions to the world. As a feminist at heart, this makes me incredibly happy. Yet, it's easy to wonder at my place in it all... to look at the insurmountable mountain of laundry and wonder if my time might be spent in a better way.

I often have people ask "do you work?" implying that if one stays at home with kids, they don't really work. I usually don't let these microaggressions get to me, but sometimes they do. I want to answer "yes I do, I'm a stay-at-home mom!" But... I'm terrible with confrontation... and opt for the path of least resistance by responding in a less hostile albeit defeated manner.

"No, I'm just a stay-at-home mom." Just a stay-at-home mom.

In my moments of self doubt I turn to my religion--the core of my beliefs--and find solace there. I am infinitely grateful to be part of a religion that values women and our divine role of motherhood. I am not just a stay-at-home mom. I am a mother, a woman with many choices who has made a decision to forgo a second income and the personal fulfillment that a career could bring to focus on what I believe to be the most important thing I will ever do in this life and into eternity.

I am a a mom. I am a stay-at-home mom! No "just" about it.
And I'm grateful for the opportunity and confident in this decision.

*Note to the reader: This post is in no way an attack on women who work outside the home. The choice of whether or not to work is a very personal one, made for many reasons, and I am in no position to judge what is right or best for any given individual or family. My own mother worked outside the home, and she was a wonderful mom--a superwoman of sorts who managed to somehow stay on top of it all. This post is simply my assertion that being a stay-at-home mom is a good decision to make, and it should be supported with the same fervor that any other career choice would receive.

With that in mind, below is a compilation of LDS quotes regarding women and motherhood that I have found personally uplifting and inspiring. Many of these are applicable to all women--regardless of job or maternal status. Again, how grateful I am to be part of a church that values women, and helps us to see the glaring reality that we, in our inherent nature and at the core of our being, are something of divinity. 

That being said, I'll let the words speak for themselves:

The Family: A Proclamation to the World

“Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. ‘Children are an heritage of the Lord’ (Psalms 127:3). …
“… By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed” (Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).

President Howard W. Hunter 

“The First Presidency has said: ‘Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind’ (in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965–75], 6:178).

Sister Patricia T. Holland

“Eve was given the identity of ‘the mother of all living’ … before she ever bore a child. It would appear that her motherhood preceded her maternity, just as surely as the perfection of the Garden preceded the struggles of mortality. I believe mother is one of those very carefully chosen words, one of those rich words—with meaning after meaning after meaning. We must not, at all costs, let that word divide us. I believe with all of my heart that it is first and foremost a statement about nature, not a head count of our children.

“… Some women give birth and raise children but never ‘mother’ them. Others, whom I love with all my heart, ‘mother’ all their lives but have never given birth. And all of us are Eve’s daughters, whether we are married or single, maternal or barren. We are created in the image of the Gods to become gods and goddesses” (“‘One Thing Needful’: Becoming Women of Greater Faith in Christ,” Ensign, Oct. 1987, 33).

Sister Sheri L. Dew

"Are we not all mothers?"

"Have you ever wondered why prophets have taught the doctrine of motherhood—and it is doctrine—again and again? I have. I have thought long and hard about the work of women of God. And I have wrestled with what the doctrine of motherhood means for all of us. This issue has driven me to my knees, to the scriptures, and to the temple—all of which teach an ennobling doctrine regarding our most crucial role as women. It is a doctrine about which we must be clear if we hope to stand 'steadfast and immovable' regarding the issues that swirl around our gender. For Satan has declared war on motherhood. He knows that those who rock the cradle can rock his earthly empire. And he knows that without righteous mothers loving and leading the next generation, the kingdom of God will fail.

When we understand the magnitude of motherhood, it becomes clear why prophets have been so protective of woman’s most sacred role. While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, in the Lord’s language, the word mother has layers of meaning. Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve 'the mother of all living' —and they did so before she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born. Just as worthy men were foreordained to hold the priesthood in mortality,  righteous women were endowed premortally with the privilege of motherhood.  Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us" (Ensign, November 2001).

President David O. McKay 

“[The] ability and willingness [to] properly to rear children, the gift to love, and eagerness, yes, longing to express it in soul development, make motherhood the noblest office or calling in the world” (Gospel Ideals, 453).

President George Albert Smith

“ is by love, real genuine love of our fellows, that we accomplish the most. A mother’s love seems to be the most perfect and the most sincere, the strongest of any love we know anything about. I, for one, rejoice in it because of its wonderful example to me” (Gospel Standards, 152).

“You [referring to LDS women] are…more blessed than any other women in all the world.  You were the first women to have the franchise; the first women to have a voice in the work of a church.  It was God that gave it to you and it came as a result of revelation to a Prophet of the Lord.  Since that time, think what benefits the women of this world have enjoyed.  Not only you belonging to the Church have enjoyed the blessing of equality, but when the Prophet Joseph Smith turned the key for the emancipation of womankind, it was turned for all the world, and from generation to generation the number of women who can enjoy the blessings of religious liberty and civil liberty has been increasing”  (President George Albert Smith, Relief Society Magazine, Dec. 1945).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

“When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses? When the surf of the centuries has made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will still be standing, because it is a celestial institution, formed outside telestial time. The women of God know this” (Neal A. Maxwell, The Women of God, Ensign, May 1978).

President Heber J. Grant

“There seems to be a power which the mother possesses in shaping the life of the child that is far superior, in my judgment, to the power of the father, and this almost without exception. … After all it is by love, real genuine love of our fellows, that we accomplish the most. A mother’s love seems to be the most perfect and the most sincere, the strongest of any love we know anything about. I, for one, rejoice in it because of its wonderful example to me” (Gospel Standards, 152).

Elder Matthew Cowley

"Men have to have something given to them [in mortality] to make them saviors of men [the priesthood], but not mothers, not women. [They] are born with an inherent right, an inherent authority, to be the saviors of human souls … and the regenerating force in the lives of God’s children” (Matthew Cowley Speaks (1954), 109). 

President Ezra Taft Benson

"No more sacred word exists in secular or holy writ than that of mother" (Fireside address, 22 Feb. 1987).

President Spencer W. Kimball

"We had full equality as his spirit children. We have equality as recipients of God’s perfected love for each of us. The late Elder John A. Widtsoe wrote:

'The place of woman in the Church is to walk beside the man, not in front of him nor behind him. In the Church there is full equality between man and woman. The gospel, which is the only concern of the Church, was devised by the Lord for men and women alike' (Improvement Era, Mar. 1942, p. 161).

Within those great assurances, however, our roles and assignments differ. These are eternal differences—with women being given many tremendous responsibilities of motherhood and sisterhood and men being given the tremendous responsibilities of fatherhood and the priesthood—but the man is not without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord (see 1 Cor. 11:11). Both a righteous man and a righteous woman are a blessing to all those their lives touch" (Ensign, Nov. 1979, 102–4).

“Each of you should be grateful to be a woman!  To be a righteous woman is a glorious thing in any age. To be a righteous woman during the winding up scenes on this earth, before the second coming of our Savior, is an especially noble calling. The righteous woman’s strength and influence today can be tenfold what it might be in more tranquil times. She has been placed here to help, to enrich, to protect, and to guard the home—which is society’s basic and most noble institution. Other institutions in society may falter and even fail, but the righteous woman can help to save the home, which may be the last and only sanctuary some mortals know in the midst of storm and strife. ” (Pres. Spencer W. Kimball, Privileges and Responsibilities of Sisters, New Era, Jan 1979)

President Ezra Taft Benson

"...God bless our wonderful mothers. We pray for you. We sustain you. We honor you as you bear, nourish, train, teach, and love for eternity. I promise you the blessings of heaven and “all that [the] Father hath” (see D&C 84:38) as you magnify the noblest calling of all—a mother in Zion" (Fireside address, 22 Feb. 1987). 

President Wilford Woodruff 

“I consider that the mother has a greater influence over her posterity than any other person can have. And the question has arisen some time ‘When does this education begin?’ Our prophets have said, ‘When the spirit life from God enters into the tabernacle.’ The condition of the mother at that time will have its effect upon the fruit of her womb; and from the birth of the child, and all through life, the teachings and the example of the mother govern and control in a great measure, that child, and her influence is felt by it through time and eternity” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 269-270).

President Gordon B. Hinckley 

"First let me say to you sisters that you do not hold a second place in our Father’s plan for the eternal happiness and well-being of His children. You are an absolutely essential part of that plan.
Without you the plan could not function. Without you the entire program would be frustrated. As I have said before from this pulpit, when the process of creation occurred, Jehovah, the Creator, under instruction from His Father, first divided the light from the darkness and then separated the land from the waters. There followed the creation of plant life, followed by the creation of animal life. Then came the creation of man, and culminating that act of divinity came the crowning act, the creation of woman.

Each of you is a daughter of God, endowed with a divine birthright. You need no defense of that position."

"What a resource are the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You love this Church; you accept its doctrine; you honor your place in its organization; you bring luster and strength and beauty to its congregations. How thankful we are to you. How much you are loved, respected, and honored.

I salute my own beloved companion. It will soon be 60 years ago that we walked from the Salt Lake Temple as husband and wife, with love for one another. That love has strengthened through all of these years. We have faced many problems during our years of marriage. Somehow, with the blessing of the Lord, we have survived them all.

It is becoming physically harder to stand tall and straight as we did in our younger years. No matter—we still have one another and we still stand together, even though we lean a little. And when the time for separation comes, there will be much of sorrow, but there will also be the comfort that will come from the assurance that she is mine and I am hers for the eternity that lies ahead" (Ensign, Nov. 1996, 67–70).

“I am convinced there is no other organization anywhere to match the Relief Society of this Church. It has a membership of more than five million women across the earth. If they will be united and speak with one voice, their strength will be incalculable…It is so tremendously important that the women of the Church stand strong and immovable for that which is correct and proper under the plan of the Lord” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Standing Strong and Immovable, Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan 2004).

Sister Sheri L. Dew

“Sisters, some will try to persuade you that because you are not ordained to the priesthood you have been shortchanged.  They are simply wrong, and they do not understand the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The blessings of the priesthood are available to every righteous man and woman.  We may all receive the Holy Ghost, obtain personal revelation, and be endowed in the temple, from which we emerge ‘armed’ with power.  Sisters, we as women are not diminshed by priesthood power, we are magnified by it” (Sheri Dew, It is not Good for Man or Woman to be Alone, Liahona, Jan 2002). 

“Here is the truth about womanhood. Our Father gave His daughters a divine endowment of gifts that give us unique influence. First and foremost, we have the high privilege of bearing children…No wonder our Father placed us at the heart of the family and thus at the center of the plan of salvation. We are the Lord’s secret weapon…The world won’t tell us this stunning truth, but the Spirit will…It is time for us to wake up to the potential magnitude of our full influence as latter-day women of God and then to arise and do what we were sent here to do” (Sheri Dew, May 1, 2008, BYU Women’s Conference).

Elder Quentin L. Cook

"A recent United States study asserts that women of all faiths “believe more fervently in God” and attend more religious services than men do. “By virtually every measure they are more religious.”2
I was not surprised by this result, particularly as I reflected on the preeminent role of families and women in our faith. Our doctrine is clear: Women are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves them. Wives are equal to their husbands. Marriage requires a full partnership where wives and husbands work side by side to meet the needs of the family. ("LDS Women are Incredible!" Ensign April 2011)

Elder M. Russell Ballard

“There are those who suggest that males are favored of the Lord because they are ordained to hold the priesthood.  Anyone who believes this does not understand the great plan of happiness.  The premortal and mortal natures of men and women were specified by God Himself, and it is simply not within His character to diminish the roles and responsibilities of any of His children” (M. Russell Ballard, Women of Righteousness, Ensign, Apr 2002).

Mary Ellen Smoot

“One person can make a difference. Each one of you has unique gifts. Use your gifts to serve others. As we walk in His light, we become women of courage and conviction. We become women of vision, women of destiny, and women of eternal value. Join with us to build spiritual strength, to radiate truth to the world and to celebrate the family. We are a worldwide circle of sisters” (Mary Ellen Smoot, Come, Let Us Walk in the Light of the Lord, Ensign, Nov 1998).

Chieko N. Ozazaki

“Sisters, strengthen yourselves by seeking the source of true strength—the Savior.  Come unto him.  He loves you.  He desires your happiness and exults in your desires for righteousness.  Make him your strength, your daily companion, your rod and your staff.  Let him comfort you.  There is no burden we need bear alone.  His grace compensates for our deficiencies.  Your strength will strengthen others—your children, your husband, your friends, and your sisters in the gospel.  That strength will flow back from them to you when you need it” (Chieko N. Okazaki, Strength in the Savior, Ensign, Nov. 1993). 

President Thomas S. Monson

"I assure you tonight that I honor you, the women of the Church, and am well aware, to quote William R. Wallace, that 'the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world'" ("Three Goals to Guide You," Ensign October 2007). 

“Remember who you are and what God expects you to become" (If Ye are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear, October 2004).

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Best 5 Years

5 years ago today was one of the most beautiful, spiritual, and incredible days of my life. I was married to my husband for all of time and for the vast, incomprehensible span of eternity in the Salt Lake Temple. My best friend became my husband, and on that day we promised to devote our lives and very existence to one another. Thank the heavens I chose so well. Literally, I thank God every day. I know he led me to Sam, and this love has been the best gift I've ever received.

Although our wedding day was special--surreal and sweet in every sense of the word, I'm not sure I understood the implications of what was taking place. Star-eyed and twitter-pated beyond belief I couldn't foresee the true meaning of two people promising complete loyalty and fidelity to one another before God himself. I'm sure I still don't, because the promises made and blessings to come are beyond my capacity to understand--but I've learned a thing or two about marriage in the past half decade. It can be hard. Well, loving Sam is easy, but life gets hard. It's often messy and complicated and can be a huge distraction when you allow it to be-- currents pulling you apart, sometimes subtly drifting and other times more forcefully dragging. In times like these it takes extra effort to reunite, but it's always worth it. Coming together, finding each other again and again--it's always exactly what we need. He is my strength, and my light.

Take today for instance. I always imagined that our 5th anniversary would include romantic gestures of the common variety: flowers, a date night, long and loving gazes across a candlelit table... yet, I find myself in my pajamas. We just got home from our Disneyland trip and we're all sick. It's not exactly what I would plan for an occasion such as this, but I'm okay with it. Instead of flowers, our romantic gestures include taking turns caring for each other and our daughter. Right now Sam is cuddled up with Klair, and our long, loving gazes are replaced with an occasional glance and reassuring smile. We can celebrate later. Right now, we're in survival mode--but we're in it together, and that's more wonderful than any flower. In the past five years we've been up and down, sideways and completely turned over at times on this roller coaster, but through it all we've been side by side.

FIVE years. It's a pretty significant amount of my life so far--1/5 to be exact. 2 tiny apartments, 1 ancient rental, 2 beautiful houses, too many college courses to count, 2 pets, several jobs, 1 perfect daughter and a son on the way-- we have been blessed beyond belief. Yet, our time spent thus far is nothing more than a tiny blip on the spectrum of eternity. We literally have forever together. And while the thought makes my brain hurt if I think about it too long, it's a comfort to know that I will always have Sam by my side. Come what may, I know he is mine and I am his. And, we are both God's. This knowledge is enough to help me weather any storm. It gives a deeper meaning and heightened appreciation for most beautiful moments past, present, and yet to come.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Samuel, you are the love of my existence. I thank God daily for the love that we have. I owe every good thing in my life to the decision I made to marry you!

Although I'm not happy about the sickness ravaging our household, I honestly have no room for anything but gratitude in my heart today. I am blessed beyond belief.

Seriously. As I was looking through photos trying to find a good one of the two of us, I found this gem. What guy does a green face mask with his wife and then agrees to a silly-faced selfie to post on Facebook?  A very special one indeed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halloween Day? More like Halloween Week... + a DIY Tinker Bell Costume Tutorial

I feel like Halloween has already come and gone... oh wait, nope it's this Friday. We've already dressed up 3 times in the past week. I hosted a Halloween themed pack meeting last Thursday (I'm the Cub Scout master for my ward/church) complete with spooky decor, costumes, and holiday themed games. We of course showed up sporting our costumes, and I stayed up until 3 AM two nights in a row teaching myself to sew so I could make Klair's Tinker Bell costume in time. I'll be honest, the Costco Tinker Bell was looking really tempting... but I'm glad I stuck with it. I'm actually quite proud of the results. Klair loved it, which is most important. I would spend another 10 hours on it just to see her smile the way she did. Plus, I have a lot more confidence sewing now!

Homemade Tinker Bell Costume
Here is a link to the tutorial I used for the bodice (sewing machine necessary): Tinker Bell Bodice Tutorial

Here is a tutorial I made for an easy no-sew tutu like the one for her costume: Easy No-Sew Tutu Tutorial
(*note: I wanted her tutu to be less full and slightly jagged to make it more Tinker Bell-esque, but you can make it more full by adding more tulle)

No Sewing Option
Here is a link to an adorable no-sew Tinker Bell costume option if you want to forego the whole sewing of the bodice thing (this was my plan b): No-Sew Tinker Bell Costume Tutorial

I searched high and low for a pair of Tinker Bell shoes that would fit her, and the only ones I found were $30 or more plus shipping. I simply went to our local thrift store, found some shoes for $2, and spray painted them a sparkly green (Well, Sam did the spray painting--I try to avoid the fumes for the sake of pregnancy). Then I hot glued white pom poms on them. She was more excited about her Tinker Bell shoes than anything else, so I consider them a nicely priced win.

For the wings I was too lazy to make them, so I bought them at a Halloween store. If you're feeling more ambitious, here is a homemade tutorial: DIY Fairy Wings

Wendy & Peter Pan
Our costumes were comparatively easy. I simply wore a blue night gown that I borrowed from a friend, and made a bow for my hair (you can see my Easy DIY Bow Tutorial here). Then for Sam's costume we were lucky enough to borrow his hat, shirt, belt and dagger from our brother-in-law. I'm sure you could find a similar costume at any costume store. He opted not to wear the tights, and instead wore khakis and some brown boots. And, voila! We had a cute little family themed costume ensemble to compliment Klair's Tinker Bell get up.

Halloween Party 

On Friday we teamed up with some friends hosted a Halloween party at our house. We had a chili bar and an assortment of treats and appetizers. We also played some fun games--most of which I stole from my experience with the cub scouts... some games are just fun no matter how old you are! Cheesy, but fun :) I'll post them with links to instructions in case you're looking for something for your own holiday get together. Look back for that. Oh and we had a photo booth, the results of which you can see below:

Then, on Saturday we finished our Halloween themed weekend at our ward party (a ward is essentially a Mormon congregation--they're the people we meet with every week for church).  They had a carnival theme, and since Sam teaches the 9 year olds in primary he was in charge of one of the game rooms. It was fun to see him interact with the kids, and Klair loved showing her costume to anyone who would look.

It was all so fun, but I'm glad to have a bit of a break before Halloween itself. I attempted to explain trick-or-treating to Klair, and now she'll tell you "knock on door, get candy!" She's so excited, and I'm thinking we may have a hard time teaching her it only works on Halloween...