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Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday Etsy Shop Goodies Giveaway: a $175 value!

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Let's celebrate Black Friday by supporting Etsy Shop owners with a huge giveaway valued at $175!  We truly have such a great group of ladies here that have made this giveaway possible!  Please, grab a cup of coffee, meet these hardworking and creative shop owners, and check out what each adorable shop has to offer!

1. Amanda from Bangles & Bauble is giving away two pairs of handmade earrings! Bangles and Bauble is a jewelry line which creates fashionable handmade pieces.  Using the latest trends as inspiration, Amanda likes to create her pieces to give a unique vibe that will accentuate outfits in a new way.  Amanda uses durable material and purchases the majority of her supplies from Etsy retailers, which adds another element of "handmade" to her pieces! 

2. Lena from Root and Blossom is giving away a handmade fabric bunting! Lena is a teacher turned SAHM who blogs over at Root and Blossom.  Lena makes everything from buntings to headbands to baby mobiles and bibs!  Lena's blog and shop are all about owning where you're at in life's journey and flourishing in it!

3. Jessica from A Little Loka is giving away two sets of coffee stained stationary!  Jessica creates art prints, jewelry, holiday items, and more!  She started her shop when she received overwhelmingly positive responses to her artwork.  Jessica also blogs over at Living La Vida Holoka! She is also offering 20% off now through December 28th with code WRTR20!

4. Chelsea from Marion Claire Stationery is giving away five holiday cards of your choice! This shop is named after Chelsea's grandmothers.  She creates greeting cards with a perfect blend of heart and sass.  Chelsea is inspired by her desire to keep snail mail alive, and she never misses an opportunity to send her friends and family a card.

5. Andrea from On Your Wall Prints is giving away $25 store credit towards her original prints! Andrea makes words come alive on paper and can turn words into decorations.  Andrea sells downloaded artwork that is easy to print.  They are excellent gift ideas or perfect for the days when you want to add some life to your walls!

6&7. Tabitha from Tiny Wishes Creations is giving away a custom birthstone necklace and a hand painted wine glass! Tabitha's shop features hand painted, heat cured glassware and jewelry.  She is happy to work on a custom order with you, too.  Tabitha is also a mom, wife, lover of pink moscato, and amateur photographer.  Tabitha also blogs over at A Hundred Tiny Wishes!

8.  Liz from After Dinner Designs is giving away a beautiful pair of earrings!  She and her husband handcraft one of a kind pieces of jewelry, accessories, and home decor from bits of recycled plates, cups, and saucers.  They love to create custom pieces from your own heirloom china, so contact them to discuss custom orders!  Liz always blogs over at Liz Fresh Plate focusing on faith, food, family, and home!

9.  Ashley from Ashley Lorren Designs is giving away a handmade "live laugh love" metal stamped key chain! Ashley specializes in metal stamped key chains, accessories and jewelry.  All items are made to order, and custom orders are always welcome!

Now for the chance to win all 9 prizes, a $175 value! All entries will be verified. Prizes may vary from images shown. Winner must be US resident for shipping purposes. Winner will be notified within two days of selection by e-mail. Winner must respond to e-mail within two days of receipt or a new winner will be randomly selected. Sponsors of raffle are eligible to participate.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fudgey (Spinach and Carrot) Chocolate Cake

Yesterday was a killer! I felt like I was back in the first couple of days of flying solo even though my mom was here helping! Yes, it was crazy. Both kids screaming and crying at the same time, neither going to sleep well, Gabriel pushing every button I have and Brenik just being more needy than usual. I chalk it up to Gabriel cutting his 2nd 2 year old molar and Brenik just being a baby but also I'm guess pre-teething. Even though there are known 'reasons' for the extra drama and attitude, it doesn't make it any easier. Unfortunately it just seemed like that was the trend with most of my mommy friends all around the country. I haven't check yet as to what the moon was like last night or the night before, not that I believe in those things but do find it kinda strange how we were all looking forward to bedtime and chocolate.

After the boys were in bed I posted this picture to Instagram...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The 4th Trimester

 "We make what is a temporary and treatable illness that is quite common among pregnant and new mothers even worse, and put the future of those moms and their children in jeopardy." - It's Time For Everyone To Get The Facts About Postpartum Depression

This 4th trimester has been a doozy for me. Why is it that women are allowed 9+ months to grow a human yet are expected to be 'back to normal' and taking on the world by the end of the 6weeks postpartum rest and recovery prescribed by healthcare providers? I am currently only 11 weeks postpartum in which during the first 8 weeks of that time I dealt with a gnarly infection, had a repair and could only urinate by standing in a shower up until recently, yet daily from myself and others have felt the pressure to suppress and 'suck up' the crazy mix of emotions, stress, anger, anxiety, devastation, and sadness that's stewing within me.

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Day in the Life Of...

We're starting to find our new crazy around these parts and I desired to document it to look back on. The days are busy and packed, sometimes full of fun and other times sprinkled (or drenched) with tears, but at the end of the day we count our blessings and give thanks to the Lord for it all.

Our days are molded around Gabriel's nap time because when he's rested we're all in a better place. Now that Brenik is starting to get a routine nailed down we work around that as well but he's still flexible since he can and does sleep through car rides and errands. 

I thought it would be fun to document what a day can look like for us because one day these moments will just be a fleeting memory. Just even from Gabriel's time of infancy I have a hard time recalling what a day looked like. Some days are totally cray (yes, I still say cray... at least when blogging) but wonderful, when other days are crazy and just too much. The following day is a Monday and by no means how every Monday goes or even every day. This is simply a look at what Monday the 20th of October looked like. I don't wake up at 4am every morning nor does Brenik always need so much assistance with sleep, laundry is typically pretty nuts daily, and yes the kitchen needs to be cleaned multiple times a day every day. Yes, we bake a lot, no Gabriel isn't always so emotional, yes Chris does come home and interact with Gabriel right away, no I don't always get out by myself (that was the first time). As you can see, this is just what this day in particular looked like.

Like said there are SOME things that we try to keep consistent daily and that would be wake up, nap, and bed times. Not only is keeping these time consistent good for our kids but always wonderful for me when it comes to getting through the day. I cannot stress enough how important it is to us to keep this part of our schedule more or less nailed down- my sanity often depends on it. 

Here's our day...

4:15am Chris wakes up, this morning I woke up at about 4:30am to work out. I finally got to start exercising again and though most of my workouts are about 30 minutes this particular day the work out was closer to an hour and I didn't see being able to fit that in during nap time or desiring to go at it after the kids went to bed so I tested out working out in the morning. Verdict: not awesome, however it was great to get an early start to the day! I got to take a shower, eat breakfast in peace, start cleaning the kitchen (Chris usually loads the dishwasher before work and I unload and finish the cleaning that didn't happen the night before. We try to clean up before bed but it doesn't always happen.), change out laundry, make the bed, read my Bible, and tidy our bedroom.

7:10am Brenik wakes up, gets nursed, diaper changed and played with. This is our routine after every wake up. Gabriel is usually my first up waking between 6am and 6:30am but of course the morning I get up early he sleeps in. 

On "normal" wake days this is typically when we get ready to go out and do errands if they need to be done. I LOVE that our Target now opens at 8 because I'll put Brenik down for his first nap in his carseat and we'll head out the door to do our shopping. I try to time it so we don't get home until Brenik's wake up time after his first nap (10am-ish). 

8:10am Gabriel wakes up at the same time I'm putting Brenik down for his first nap, I literally closed Brenik's door as I was opening Gabriel's to get him up for the morning.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Yokosuka Curry Festival

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When you think Curry, what country do you think of? India of course, but Japan would not be a laughable answer. Oddly enough Yokosuka, Japan is a HUGE curry city, nicknamed 'Curry Town.' There are several amazing curry eats in Yokosuka as well as a couple large Curry events through the year that attract people from all over the country. One day Chris and I looked out our balcony window and were blown away by the mile long line (single file, no pushing or cutting because it's Japan) outside the Japan Navy military entrance. We thought it was maybe an open house day or something along those lines (the US base hosts 'Friendship Day' once a year where anyone can visit the base) but later learned there was a curry competition going on where each battleship served a different curry and the public voted. Yes, all the Japanese destroyers came back into bay for a curry competition, this is how serious they are about their curry. 

The last two years Chris and I have visited the Curry Festival in Mikasa Park near the base. Last year we happened upon it on accident on our way to Monkey Island for Mother's Day (we ironically ate curry from Nirvana beforehand) but this year we made sure we put it on the calendar! 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ofuna Kannon-ji Temple

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At the end of our 2013 stint in Japan when riding the train to the airport we briefly saw what we noted as a 'white Buddha.' We had never seen anything like it and decided right then and there we'd visit that place next year. 

Next year was this year! We of course knew what we saw wasn't actually a white Buddha but at the time we had no idea what else to call it so please don't judge us as being insensitive. We later looked it up and learned what we had saw is actually called Kannon. A Kannon can be a part of a Buddhist temple like a Buddha god but is the east Asian goddess of Mercy. 

For us not being Japanese or Buddhist we couldn't tell the difference between a Buddhist temple that has a Buddha and one that has a Kannon (maybe there is no difference because the statue) but we did appreciate the impressive architectural beauty of the 82 foot while statue. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Brenik Arli- One Month

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Well, we made it to a month old (read, I made it to a month). I don't say this lightly because it was pretty hairy at times. Brenik has been a complete rockstar and has been as self sufficient as he possible can be for an infant. The transition to two littles has been a lot hard on me than I expected though a lot of that has to do with how slow of a recovery I've had, I'm actually awaiting a doctor's appointment to discuss a repair. My limited physical abilities have shorten my patience leading to reactive parenting rather than responsive parenting which has of course lead to days spiraling out of control emotionally for everyone involved. We're getting there little by little with high highs and low lows at times but we are getting there. Enough about that, let's get back to talking about Brenik.

Brenik entered the first Wonder Week right as Chris went back to work. I didn't know about Wonder Weeks with Gabriel but have since learned that they are predictable stages of mental growth that bring about extra fussiness and clinginess for about a week or two depending on which leap. The first week strikes at around 5 weeks from due date which for us was right around 3 weeks of age. This was a rough week to say the least, I felt overwhelmed to begin with now flying solo and then my easy-go-lucky newborn was all of a sudden fighting sleep to the extreme and only wanted to sit in my arms and nurse all day. I remember sitting with Gabriel in my arms days on end nursing without a care in the world but this time around I had Gabriel to take care of in addition to baby- those days of sitting around and doing nothing but nursing were far behind me. I read that during this week (and all Wonder Weeks for that matter) mothers do a lot of baby wearing. I ordered a Solly Baby Wrap but it wasn't here yet. I have an Ergo with an infant insert but didn't care to wear it. My neighbor loaned me her Moby Wrap so as a baby screamed and a toddler wouldn't keep his hands off the keyboard I tried to watch a YouTube tutorial on how to use it but as you can imagine that didn't end well. That whole day actually concluded in my throwing the towel in early and calling Chris to come home. What concluded Wonder Week that makes up for all the crazy is that Brenik smiles quite frequently at me now! Even in the middle of the night when he shouldn't be flirting with me I can't help but giggle at those open mouth smiles. In those couple seconds you forget about the tears, stress, and still existing pain from delivery.


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