Three 31


Finish This #37

IT’S WEEK 37 OF FINISH THIS … if this is your first time here, welcome! If you’re a repeat customer, thanks for playing along again. Your co-hosts are LISA (COASTLINED), JEN (The Arizona Russums), BECKY (The Java Mama) and NICOLE (Three 31) and the instructions are simple: answer the prompts on your blog and add the post to the link up. Next week, we’ll do it all over again with a new set of prompts (located at the bottom of this post). Let’s get started!


CHALLENGE FOR YOU … visit at least three (3) blogs and comment on their “Finish This” post. Even if you don’t know the person, introduce yourself and leave a genuine comment. If you know a blogger who would like to participate in this link up, invite them to join us. Blogging is about building communities!

1. I am the type of person who
if I decorate for Christmas, I start before Thanksgiving and leave it out until Valentine’s Day (or later). No joke, the last time I really decorated, like Hobby Lobby exploded in my house, was 2008. It was our second Christmas in our home and I found the mother of all deals on a beautiful pre-lit tree and my snowmen and snowflake collection was bursting at the seams. I put the tree up the first weekend of November and I took it down, reluctantly, the week after Saint Patrick’s Day. That’s a solid FIVE months of looking at day-core, as Husband likes to call it. He was afraid there would be snowmen and tinsel on the mantel in August so he threatened to de-decorate himself, which prompted me to light a fire under my big girl pants and do it myself. In my defense, in 2008, I worked in corporate marketing and business development and a SLOW week was 80 hours. I lived and breathed climbing that corporate ladder and collecting overtime pay. My priorities were whacked (to put it nicely) and I was sadly disconnected from the truth and reality that is Christmas: the birth of my Savior. In 2009, I left that job and the stress that went with it. For the first time, in a long time, I could breathe again. As Christmastime approached, I had no desire to decorate. I participated in an Advent study which further validated my decision to focus on Jesus’s birth. It was the first time I really paid attention to the miracle that is Christmas: What if Mary had said no to God’s invitation to bear his Son? What if Joseph had abandoned Mary when she suddenly became pregnant before marriage? What if Mary had been stoned to death for a sin she did not commit? What if Mary and Joseph were unwilling to obey God and trust him with the consequences? These questions, from a Christmas Eve sermon (Rev. L, I was listening!) gave me a brand new perspective to the spirit of Christmas. The tree, the lights, the perfectly wrapped presents, the stockings, garland, and even my beloved snowmen collection did/does not hold a candle to why or how I celebrate Christmas. Jesus’s PRESENCE is the reason for the season, not the PRESENTS under the tree.

Now, I said all of that to admit I’ve been thinking about, planning, and decorating for Christmas for several weeks. I’m combining decorations for Kamden’s first birthday party and Christmas since the majority of what I already have fits the theme I’ve chosen for his birthday. I am not a very crafty person, so the less I have to do to decorate the better. I am, however, looking forward to cooking and playing hostess-with-the-mostess for our family and friends as we celebrate Mini Man Child’s first year. As for the DIY projects, one is complete, another needs ribbon for hanging, one needs Instagram-size photos, and I bought supplies for a fourth project yesterday. I also need to paint, sand, and stencil a piece of lumber for Kamden’s birthday present … stay tuned for this big reveal. Husband has asked me twice – TWICE! – if I’m pregnant because he considers all this preparation “nesting” and that’s what pregnant women do. I kindly reminded him that my tubes were tied in March and not to get his tinsel in a tangle over my sudden desire to be Holly Housekeeper and Cindy Crafter. This year, Christmas will be a memorable one. Even though Kamden was born before Christmas last year, I consider the one coming up to be his first. It’s only fitting since 2014 has been a year of firsts for him. As an only child, it’s really important to me that Kamden’s birthday and Christmas are celebrated independently. My birthday (December 17) has always been separated from family festivities at Christmas and I intend to do the same with Kamden, whose birthday is December 19. His first birthday will be more of a celebration for Husband and I as parents and giving thanks to family and friends for supporting us every step of the way. Believe me, we all deserve a giant piece of cake! Next year, we’ll celebrate Kamden’s birthday at Chick-Fil-A and I’ll buy everybody an ice cream cone.

2. My favorite joke or riddle or funny is
oh gosh, I have to pick just one? No, I started this link up so I can bend the rules. Who’s gonna stop me?






3. All that really matters is


My beautiful friend, amazing author, and cancer survivor Margaret Feinberg shared this mantra in her best-selling book, Wonderstruck. I’ve read every book Margaret has written and this quote is one of my favorites. I get goose bumps every time I read it, even now! Think about it: God IS good; God IS on the throne; just breathe! Whatever I’m going through, these four lines nudge me closer to The One who created me, desires me, seeks me, loves me, protects me, and soothes me. Breathe in the wonder of God and breathe out every thing that is getting in the way. Another favorite line from Wonderstruck:


Invite your blogging friends and come back next Wednesday for another round of Finish This where we’ll answer another set of prompts!

Prompt for WEEK 38 — September 24
My relationships thrive because
My favorite piece of advice
My worst habit


10 Things

I need this rooster print like I need air to breathe.
As a former educator in middle school, I know too well the financial strain on teachers pressured to spend their own money on classroom and teaching supplies.

Mistakes to avoid in your 30s.

A beautiful post on marriage.

Ohhh, I can so relate to being tired!

25 unique ways to ask your kids without asking the treaded “How Was School Today?”

Do you think parents in the 70s and 80s had it better than modern parents today?

Life’s too short for crappy friends.

Parenting classes that SHOULD exist.

Inspiration for our family photo session.


Finish This #36

IT’S WEEK 36 OF FINISH THIS … if this is your first time here, welcome! If you’re a repeat customer, thanks for playing along again. Your co-hosts are LISA (COASTLINED), JEN (The Arizona Russums), BECKY (The Java Mama) and NICOLE (Three 31) and the instructions are simple: answer the prompts on your blog and add the post to the link up. Next week, we’ll do it all over again with a new set of prompts (located at the bottom of this post). Let’s get started!


CHALLENGE FOR YOU … visit at least three (3) blogs and comment on their “Finish This” post. Even if you don’t know the person, introduce yourself and leave a genuine comment. If you know a blogger who would like to participate in this link up, invite them to join us. Blogging is about building communities!

1. I am serious about
cleaning our house and maintaining a more well-kept living space. I absolutely LOATHE cleaning, and I’d rather ignore the clutter and procrastinate my to-do lists than dust or vacuum, but I’ve challenged myself to complete a cleaning schedule for one week. The schedule pictured below is currently taped to the front of the refrigerator. Since Sunday, I’ve cleaned and organized the fridge, gone to the grocery, and thoroughly cleaned the kitchen and bathrooms. I used to keep lots of stuff on the kitchen counter, like big containers of utensils, two knife blocks that I hate and never used, jars of sugar and flour, and all of Kamden’s bottles, two drying racks, and a sterilizer I never use. Notice a trend? I organized a drawer beside the stove for the majority of my cooking utensils, put the flour and sugar in the pantry, and the rest is either going to be sold on Craigslist or donated to the thrift store. Our kitchen is very large and there is tons of cabinet and work space, and clearing the countertops makes it look more efficient, organized, and clutter-free. Today, I’m working on bedrooms and I know I’ll have more stuff (a.k.a useless crap) to add to the thrift store pile. My goal is to repeat the schedule below, or something similar, every week in order to maintain my sanity and keep the clutter chaos to a minimum. I have several “big projects” that I want to complete before the end of the year too, specifically clearing out closet space and getting rid of things (clothes, household items, seasonal décor, etc.) that we no longer use. As Kamden gets older and becomes more mobile, it’s going to be even more important that I keep things picked up. I’m not applying for a white glove test, don’t misunderstand, but I need to make domestic chores a higher priority. Even 15-30 minutes a day will make a huge difference. (I hope I don’t sound like I should be on the show Hoarders, my house isn’t THAT bad.)


While on my hands and knees scrubbing grout lines and tile in our master bathroom shower, I tried to think of ways to keep the area cleaner, especially the glass door. I found a bottle of Rain-X windshield spray in the garage and thought, “What the heck?!” Needless to say, our shower’s glass hasn’t been this clear or streak-free since the day it was installed … in 2011. (What!) Hopefully it will repel water and keep the area clean(er) longer. Anything’s worth a shot, right?!


2. I am most relaxed when
Husband and Kamden are happy.

And when I’m doing the relaxation pose in yoga. It’s my favorite. I hate to think what I look like while doing it, but this might be a pretty close, pretty accurate depiction:


3. There’s no place like
home, where the pants are stretchy and the Wi-Fi connects automatically. :)

Invite your blogging friends and come back next Wednesday for another round of Finish This where we’ll answer another set of prompts!

Prompt for WEEK 37 — September 17
I’m the type of person who
My favorite joke or riddle is
All that really matters is


Mama Monday // Grandparents, Football, Essential Oils, and Monkey Business

1. In case you missed my post for Grandparents’ Day, you should definitely check it out.

2. Fellow blogger and knitting extraordinaire, Jennifer, sent Kamden two adorable hats she made from scratch. I’m trying to get photos she can use on her website, but Kamden is not cooperating. He’s not a fan of photo sessions seconds before a feeding and nap!


3. Thank you, sweet and precious Baby Jesus, football season is upon us. Any weekend is a great weekend when football is on the tee-vee!

4. What wasn’t so great about last weekend was Kamden’s sudden change in routine and nighttime sleep pattern. Friday and Sunday, he was his normal self – even going to bed at the same time – only to get up an hour later, around 10:45pm, wide awake and ready to play. He was not soothed by a pacifier or Mommy’s coos, he wanted to be up and about. So, Husband and I were up and about, playing, tearing paper, building block towers, reading books, singing silly songs, and entertaining an 8.5 month old after midnight. At 12:30am, three hours after his bedtime bottle, he ate again and immediately went to sleep. There are 12 common symptoms of teething, Kamden has six of them: excessive drool, coughing, biting and chewing, irritability, refusal or disruptive feedings, and wakefulness.

5. In desperation, I bought the Young Living essential oil starter kit. Lavender and lemon oils are known to help with teething and insomnia. A lack of sleep is difficult, but I’m worried sick these extra nighttime feedings will become a habit we’ll have to break later. Goodness, I hope these essential oils work!

6. I’m on a mission to subdue the chaos that is our home and create (and follow) a cleaning routine. I accomplished Sunday’s tasks and ready to tackle today’s project: the kitchen.

7. During one of Kamden’s insomniac moments, see #4, he pulled himself up and stood inside his crib only to smack his perfect, porcelain-like chubby cheek against the side rail before I could catch him. Now, he’s got a bruise and black eye. MOM. FAIL.

8. I’m joining Leslyn and Logan for Mama’s Monday link up. If you’re a mama with a funny/frustrating/silly/embarrassing/scary stories to share, come join us!

Leslyn's Lovely Life


Operation Clean(er) House

No one could steer me right but mama tried, mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better but her pleading, I denied
That leaves only me to blame ’cause mama tried

I empathize with Merle Haggard. No, I didn’t turn 21 in prison facing life without parole, I was (and still am) too chicken to do something stupid, scary, or illegal. My issue is more domestic. Literally.

Growing up, my mom, bless her heart, ran a tight ship. She modeled, very effectively, how to be a devoted wife and mother, an efficient homemaker, and selfless community leader and volunteer with a professional career. Despite typical assumptions of being an only child, I had chores, responsibilities, and that dreaded, handwritten to-do list Mom or Dad left for me on the kitchen table. Tasks included emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming, dust furniture, mop floors, or clean bathrooms. During the summer, I also mowed the lawn. When I was old enough to drive, I ran errands, went to the grocery, and took our garbage to the city’s collection center. It wasn’t until Husband and I were married and living in our current home that I had a paid garbage collection service. Growing up, I did not receive an allowance. I was not paid to complete chores around the house and I most certainly did not receive compensation for grades or good behavior at school. As a living, breathing, functioning, able-bodied member of society, I was expected to contribute and give my best effort at home, at school, and on the golf course. My payment, if you will, was a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food in my belly, and a used Volvo sedan. I was privileged because Mom and Dad paid for my golf equipment, private lessons with a professional, tournament entry fees, and fuel and lodging expenses when I traveled to junior tour events.

Reminiscing about my childhood and upbringing, I’m disappointed in my adult self. I look at this house and I’m ashamed. It’s not the home I want to create for Husband and Kamden. If guests rang the doorbell, I’d be embarrassed! I don’t make our bed. Yesterday’s mail is on the counter. A plate and two bowls are in the kitchen sink. Clean dishes are in the dishwasher. Dirty clothes are in the hamper. The floors need to be mopped. You can write your name in the dust on the TV console. I could go on and on.

This week, I am challenging myself to creating and keeping a cleaner, less cluttered living space. To make the endeavor more manageable and less overwhelming, I’m focusing on one or two specific areas per day. I’ll do some ‘maintenance’ things each day, such as load/unload the dishwasher, sort the mail, and clean sinks and countertops. Honestly, most of these tasks take 30 minutes or less to complete.

Organize + empty refrigerator
Make grocery list / weekly menu

Deep clean KITCHEN
Collect garbage for pick-up
Wash + put away laundry

Deep clean BATHROOMS

Deep clean BEDROOMS
Wash + put away laundry

Deep clean LIVING ROOM

Wash + put away laundry

Wash bed sheets
De-clutter for 15 minutes

My goal is to create a realistic schedule that I will follow each week. If the experts are correct, and it takes 21 days to develop a habit, our house will be a neater, cleaner, less cluttered home before the end of the month! Who wants to come over for dinner and a white glove inspection on September 30? (I’m serious about the dinner, but not the glove inspection.)

Do you follow a cleaning schedule?


Grandparents’ Day 2014

Blessed are those who
spoil and snuggle,
hug and hope,
pray and pamper,
boast and brag
for they shall be called

For Grandparents’ Day, Kamden has a special message to send his Mammaw and Papaw, Nana C and Grandaddy, and his great-grandmothers, Neenie and Nana Rose:





Okay, so he was a bit distracted by all the sights and sounds during his photo shoot, but Kamden loves his grandparents very, very much!

Everyone needs to have access both to grandparents and grandchildren in order to be a full human being. ~ Margaret Mead ~

What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies. ~ Rudolph Giuliani ~

Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children. ~ Alex Haley ~

While I wish we lived closer to them, it’s still pretty amazing how fortunate Kamden is that his grandparents are present and active in his life, despite the miles that separates us. Fortunately, they are more than willing to hop in the car (or board an airplane) for an impromptu play date and visit.

Husband’s parents live two hours away in East Texas and mine are in Kentucky, a two-hour plane ride or 14+ hours in the car. Technology bridges the gap (miles) in magical ways, allowing our parents the opportunity to watch Kamden grow up and I’m incredibly grateful for this. No matter how far it is to the grandparents’ house, time (and rules!) know no bounds. It’s a free-for-all in the hugs, kisses, snuggles, and tickles department and, fortunately, Kamden has an unlimited supply!

Perhaps the best thing about grandparents is they don’t strap you to the high-chair, make you wear an adorable monkey hat (thanks, Jennifer!) and take a million-billion-trillion pictures of you right before naptime. Gosh, Mom can be so insensitive and a real pain sometimes! :)


Admit it, that is the cutest picture in the history of ever. You’re welcome.



Finish This #35

IT’S WEEK 35 OF FINISH THIS … this can we all take a moment and thank the Good Lord fall is around the corner?! I’m so ready for cooler weather, long pants (so I don’t have to shave my legs), and college football. Amen.

You know the drill … co-hosts are LISA (COASTLINED), JEN (The Arizona Russums), BECKY (The Java Mama) and NICOLE (Three 31) and the instructions are simple: answer the prompts on your blog and add the post to the link up. Next week’s prompts are at the bottom of the page.


1. I celebrated Labor Day by
doing absolutely nothing. Well, let me rephrase that: I celebrated Labor Day by accomplishing zero tasks on my to-do list and enjoying every ounce of mommyhood and being a wife. I was up early to pump and thought Kamden would wake up for a bottle, but he didn’t so I went back to bed. I got up at 8:30, Husband was up at 9 and Kamden got up at 9:30. Husband fed Kamden while I pumped, and afterwards we all sat on the living room floor to play. At 11:30, we moved to our bed to continue play time – Kamden loves it when we’re together on the king-size bed and he has room to squirm around. He’s not crawling yet, but he’s close. Around noon, while reading Bible stories, Kamden drifted off to sleep and I enjoyed a snooze-session myself. The rest of Kamden’s day went something like this: he ate a little, played a little, peed and pooped a lot, and slept a little more. While Kamden took his afternoon nap, Mommy and Daddy had quality time together. (Heyyyyyyy.) By 6:00pm, our evening routine began and it didn’t matter if it was Labor Day or not. Dinner. Wheel of Fortune. (On Mondays, we watch Master Chef too!) Husband and Kamden build block towers on the floor mat while I’m in the kitchen cleaning and refilling bottles. More play time at the kitchen table or on the living room floor. Kamden gets a bath and lotion massage before his last bottle and bedtime. I pump while Husband takes a shower, then we go to bed. If anybody says our life is predictable, they’re correct.

2. My dream job/career, would be
A year ago, I might have said I wanted to be a judge or host on a cooking competition show; writer and/or photographer for a travel magazine; a tour guide in the Holy Land; missionary in Haiti; or a nanny/personal chef. Now, I’d add to this list an author; volunteer at non-profit; lactation consultant or mentor for breastfeeding women; PR/marketing/social media manager; or a donor/recipient liaison for human milk banks and hospital NICU departments. You know the luxurious retirement communities for senior citizens that have mini-buses? I could totally be one of those bus drivers and chauffeur a bunch of old, rich people around all day. Plus, I could take Kamden along. It’s a win-win for everybody.

When Vanna White retires from Wheel of Fortune, I want her job. But I’m bringing back the old manual letter boards so I can actually turn them around when a contestant calls a vowel or consonant. When someone correctly solves a puzzle, I’ll throw confetti on them too. Everybody likes confetti.

Dear Wheel of Fortune producers, if by some chance in a million-billion-trillion-gazillion you’re reading this blog post, please accept my application to be your official letter-turner. My salary requirements are much lower than your current clapper-lady and I’d much prefer flats to her high-heeled shoes. By hiring me, you’ll also save money on hair and makeup. Basically, I’m the best you’re ever gonna get. I can start tomorrow.

3. My first paying job was
babysitting two girls who went to my church in the summer of 1999. It was between my freshman and sophomore year of high school and before I got my driver’s license. I worked three or four days a week and walked a mile to their house. By the time I got my driver’s license, my babysitting duties were in high demand. I worked for five families with 16 kiddos, collectively. Now, all of these kids make me feel SUPER OLD because they are all grown up. The youngest set of triplets are now freshmen in high school and the older triplets are juniors in college …. cue the waterworks! The oldest kids I used to babysit are either in college or have graduated. I’m so old. I wish some of the older ones lived close to me though, because I would certainly have them babysit Kamden!!!! Besides the babysitting and nanny-ing gigs, I’ve been a golf course attendant, private golf instructor, church camp counselor, HR generalist, marketing and business development coordinator, middle school teacher, and youth director.

4. My current job is
stay-at-home mom to Kamden and Husband’s wife. I think I’m doing a pretty good job, most days. No, the house isn’t spotless and I don’t make our bed every morning, but Kamden’s the happiest, healthiest, most loved mini man-child in the history of ever and Husband’s well taken care of too. I’m a regular donor to the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas and very active at church. Once I became pregnant and after Kamden was born, improving my health and well-being became my ‘job’ too. I consider exercising 4-5 days a week a personal responsibility with far-reaching benefits to my family. One of these days, when Kamden starts school, I’ll return to the workforce and use my professional skills but I’m not rushing back to the 9-to-5 gig. Besides, Kamden is growing faster than I want to admit … slow down, kid!

Healthy Mama + Happy Baby + Content Husband = A Blessed Life
You might have a bigger house, newer car, and prettier clothes, but I’ve got all I need.

Invite your blogging friends and come back next Wednesday for another round of Finish This where we’ll answer another set of prompts!

Prompt for WEEK 36 — September 10
I am serious about
I am most relaxed when
There’s no place like


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,494 other followers