15 Reasons to Be Thankful for the “Little Things”

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!!

In honor of the season, it seemed only fitting to have a “reasons to be thankful” post.  I couldn’t ever put into words how thankful I am for my husband, my baby girl, my family, and my friends. They are my oxygen — my reason to breathe, my everything.

Tonight, as I was putting away Ella’s toys, I was thinking about this post, and couldn’t help but smile.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the day to day, the “busy”-ness of our lives, that we forget and/or miss out on what is really important.  The little things.

Since it’s 2015, and let’s face it — who would want to read 2015 reasons to be thankful — here are 15 little things I’m thankful for, in no particular order.

 

1. Washable Crayons: Ella is two, and we can tell she is already an artist.  All you have to say is “Color?” and she heads straight for the cabinet that houses all of the construction paper, crayons, and art supplies.  I love watching her learn and express her creativity — and embrace coloring outside the lines.

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2. Breakfast: Definitely my favorite meal of the day.  Ella usually wakes up and instantly wants pancakes, yogurt, or “bacon!” Sometimes, she decides to bring a bunch of her toys to the table with her, babbling in her own language — telling us all about her dreams she had.  Most days, breakfast is the one meal we can all sit down as a family to enjoy.

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3. Furry Friends: Bagheera is amazing with Ella.  She really tests his patience sometimes — from pulling his tail to sitting on him like a horse — but he hasn’t hissed or tried to hurt her AT ALL! In fact, he is so sweet with her that it’s hard to remember what it was like before she came along. They are already best friends, and it’s so exciting to watch!

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4. Rocking Chairs: We are a rocking chair family — I’m not sure many things compare to sitting outside in the fall, rocking, listening to the wind in the trees.  When Ella was a baby, we used to take her outside and rock her to sleep in this same chair that she is now big enough to climb into. It’s so funny how time flies, and life comes full circle.

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5. Morning Stretches:  Stretching and yoga have become a new gift to my life as of recently.  I’ve always been active, but even after running long distances, I wouldn’t ever give my body a good stretch to relax and unwind. Now, I make sure to do a little bit of stretching everyday, to loosen up, clear my mind, and relax.  I feel so much better when I make the time to do this,  and Ella thinks it’s fun, too!

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6. Grass: I love having a yard.  I know for many, this may be a weird, trivial thing — but coming from our tiny apartment to now having a yard, I don’t want to go back.  Going outside and running around with Ella in our backyard is, seriously, one of my favorite things.  The three of us have so much fun rolling around in the grass and really enjoying each other. (And this is one of my all-time favorite pictures!)

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7. Hair ties: I love that Ella’s hair is getting longer — it seems like just yesterday that she was born and her hair was so short. Now, we have to be creative in ways to get her to sit still long enough for us to put her hair up in a pony tail, to keep it out of her face. It’s just another reminder of how fast time is going by — I can’t believe it!

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8. Bubbles: I remember watching the movie “Knocked Up,” where Paul Rudd’s character talked about how his kids like bubbles, and how he wished he liked anything as much as they like bubbles. That part always sticks out to me when I see Ella react to something that seems so “small” to us — like, when she was a baby, she had a pair of toy keys.  If you shook the keys, they made a rattling noise that made her face light up with such joy. Nothing in her world was more exciting than those keys — or those bubbles.  I want to live my life everyday with that same joy and excitement. She helps me remember.

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9. Dress-up: My husband is amazing.  I really can’t say or express that enough.  He not only puts up with my crazy, but he embraces it — whenever I have any ideas that seem goofy, he is on board — and usually is giving me even more crazy ideas on how to make it even more awesome!  Not many girls can say their man wears matching holiday PJs or dresses up like Kristoff from “Frozen” to complete the look for their “Frozen Family” Halloween. He’s my hero, and I am so SO incredibly thankful.

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10. Giggles: They say the average child laughs hundreds of times a day, whereas an adult laughs significantly less, around 20 times or so. It’s time to raise our “laugh quota” friends!  What would happen if we started to laugh like a child again — what if the world start to smile and laugh more than complain, judge, or throw anger and hatred around? I heard someone say once, “You don’t stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing.” I’m so grateful to have this little giggler around to remind me — and keep me young!

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11. Getting Lost: Have you ever visited a new city and just “got lost” for a little while?  It’s one of my favorite things to do.  It’s amazing what you can find, what new places you can discover, and new people you can meet when you put down the phone/GPS and just get lost for a while.  I think sometimes we forget how beautiful the world is because we are stuck behind a screen. It’s like the movie “Up” says — “Adventure is Out There!” Thank you for the adventure, little one. I can’t wait to see where else we go.

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12. Workout Buddy: I’m super lucky to have an incredible partner in crime,  who keeps me on my toes and holds me accountable.  Thank you for encouraging me and motivating me — I’m only growing and becoming my better self! Plus, Ella is become quite the “spotter.” Whenever we are busting out some push-ups or box jumps, she yells “Go! Go! Go!”  Our little cheerleader!

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13. Flowers: Ella loves flowers as much as her Momma does.  She is so cute —  she will say “flower,” put the flower to her nose and breathe in really deep, then exhale saying “ahhhhh…”

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14. Converse: This may be one of the only “materialistic” things on my list today, but the reason isn’t as material as it may seem.  The photo below is a shot of everyone in our wedding party — 7 years ago!  Every time I see people wearing Converse shoes, or I wear them myself, I remember how awesome and lucky we are to have such amazing friends and family. And now, little Ella wears them, too!

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15. “Wow!”: Two days ago, Ella and I were playing outside, and she looked up.  I’m not entirely sure what she was looking at — the clouds, the sky, the birds — but as she was looking up, she kept saying, “Wow!” Wow!  With such pure excitement and innocence.  She meant it.  Like “Wow! Isn’t the world so beautiful?”  Or “Wow! Can you believe we live here and can see this right now?” It’s amazing how a two year old can put life in perspective, without even knowing it.  Wow is right, baby. Wow. What an incredible life.

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I hope your Thanksgiving is magical! Let’s give thanks everyday! 🙂

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Ella’s FROZEN 2nd Birthday

Last Sunday, we were super excited to celebrate our special little girl’s 2nd birthday — and as many 2 year old little girls would wish, we celebrated in a very FROZEN fashion!

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Food/Dessert table for Ella’s FROZEN 2nd Birthday Party!

This year, we decided to host the party at our new home.  We had the space, a backyard — a much needed change from our tiny home in Jacksonville.  Hosting at our home was great — as there wasn’t a need for transport, and I was able to plan ahead and set up the party in advance.

We had clever sign on our front door to welcome guests.  After they entered, we had a table with a sign/color picture for Ella and party hats/tiaras.

For activities, we had a ball pit for the kids, a “Marshmallow Knockout” game, cornhole for kids and for adults, a “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” station (where kids can play in fake snow), and a photo booth! The photo booth was a huge hit, and everyone enjoyed taking photos and uploading to their social media accounts. Even Ella got in on the fun!

The food/dessert table was a lot of fun!  For the backdrop, I took three plastic tablecloths purchased from the dollar store, pinned them together, and cut strips in them to make a streamer-like effect (same for the photo booth). I also hand cut and strung the pennant bunting to flow with the color scheme.

Each food item had it’s own tented food sign.  The foods we featured are: Rock Candy sticks, mixed sandwiches, Yoohoo drinks, a meat and cheese platter, Hershey hugs, blue and white sixlets, a veggie platter, chocolate covered cake truffles, pretzels, cupcakes, ombre rice krispie treats, and cheetos.  The cake truffles, cupcakes, and rice krispies were all handmade.  The ombre rice krispies were interesting — perhaps I shall write a tutorial on that soon? 🙂

I wanted the cake to be simple — sure, I could’ve gone crazy with the theme, but I really wanted to stay simple, sweet, and classy. The cake was vanilla with whipped topping, which made it easier to do the swooped top.  We also sprinkled edible glitter flakes on top to make it look like snow, but unfortunately the photos didn’t pick it up. I also handout the bunting to match the one above the table. Big shoutout to my mom who helped with the decorating of the cake and cupcakes!

The party was a huge success.  I originally intended this party to be a bit more low-key than last year’s, but I actually think I did more this year.  Again, totally worth it. 🙂  Now.. to start planning year 3!

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Three Musketeers! Happy Birthday, Ella Grey!

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#Throwback Thursday: Ella’s First Birthday Party

It’s so hard to believe that this past weekend, my little Ellabean turned TWO! It seemed like yesterday that she was born!  Since I will be posting tomorrow about her second birthday, I thought today would be a great opportunity to “throw it back” to last year, when the sweet girl turned ONE! 🙂

We planned a “Very Hungry Caterpillar” birthday for her first one — I wanted something a little different, and at the time, this was her favorite book for us to read to her.  Plus, for this Pinterest-loving Momma, I was super excited to decorate and set-up a food table for this theme!

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Tree-lined backdrop was totally worth the transportation struggles!

We hosted the party at a local park in Jacksonville, our favorite one to go to that was near our home.  Transport wasn’t the easiest thing, and despite people tying to convince me to host it at home, I was hellbent on having a beautiful tree-lined backdrop for my food table (silly, I know, but hey — check out the pics!). We couldn’t have had more perfect weather — it was sunny and comfortable, which is a surprise at any time in Florida.

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Close-up of sidewalk chalk art for Ella’s First Birthday!

We hand cut the pennant bunting out of colored scrapbooking cardstock, and stapled them onto white yarn.  We strung the bunting around three sides of the pavilion we set the food table under. (NOTE: This bunting was time consuming to make, but I’ve used it SO many times since making it!  In fact, part of the bunting is now hanging in Ella’s bedroom!) Our good friend, Amanda, was awesome to design the amazing sidewalk chalk art under the pavilion as a welcome to party guests!  People raved about this design all day, and it only cost us 50 cents for the sidewalk chalk and took Amanda about 20 minutes to draw!

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Side view of the food table

The Food/Dessert table was so much fun to create!  Since it was “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” we had a lot of wiggle-room to play with the different foods featured in the book. We assembled all of the food in my tiny kitchen — which is so hard to believe, now that we’ve moved to Orlando and my current kitchen is about 4 times the size of that one (thank you!).  For food, we had meat/cheese platter, veggie platter, sandwich platter, chips, bowl of “Cuties” clementines, and butterfly shaped crackers.  For desserts, we had macarons (that were colored red, light green, and kelly green), cake batter rice krispie treats, cupcakes, decorative cake and Ella’s “Smash” cake.  We also had three jars of fruit in the back of the table that had apples, pears, and oranges.

The cakes were a funfetti (vanilla cake with sprinkles) flavor, and the cupcakes were a mix of chocolate and vanilla.  Everything had vanilla buttercream, and fondant decor.  For Ella’s “Smash” Cake, we made and hand cut fondant pieces to represent the different foods eaten throughout the book.  For the decorative cake, we made a caterpillar design out of circle fondant pieces and made a mini pennant bunting to match the one above the table.  Each of the cupcakes had a fondant decor piece that represented a fruit eaten in the book — and I’ll note: we did NOT have cutters for these pieces. Each one was morphed by using a circle cutter or hand cut with an Xacto knife!

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Photo Prop for Ella’s First Birthday!

For activities at the party, we had a ballpit for the little ones to play in, a photo prop, a small game of cornhole, and sidewalk chalk to decorate the path leading to the party area.  The photo prop board was also hand made, and turned out super cute!  We also handmade the favor bags, had a book signing area with the gifts, and a beverage station.

Last, but certainly not least, was the birthday girl herself!  We handprinted a onesie with a “1” and a caterpillar on it.  We also made the green tutu and headpiece that she wore.  She was so stinkin’ cute!

All in all, although it was a LOT of work to put this all together, it was totally worth it!  Everyone had a great time, enjoyed the treats, and little Ella had a BLAST! Shoutouts to our AMAZING family and friends who helped us create such a memorable first birthday — with special mentions to my mom, Granny, Amanda, Wade, Natasha, Everett, Patrice, and Abbey for being CHAMPS! Wouldn’t have been able to do it without you!

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Revamp — First Blog Post

Hi friends!

This is my first post since redesigning this website!  Nothing fancy — just a simple, clean layout — and a new commitment to posting on a regular basis!

What’s new?  We moved to the Orlando area about two months ago and LOVE IT!  We were very blessed to allow me the opportunity to get out of the corporate world and spend my time at home raising Ella — a dream come true!  The past two months have been INSANE!  From moving to settling in, to hosting a 50th birthday dinner for my mom, to embarking on a new fitness journey, to Halloween, to Ella’s 2nd Birthday — time has flown by!  I’m very excited to have the time to devote to my family, our home, and to writing now that I’m not consumed with my 9 to 5.

So, let’s get started!