Schools Out!

We had a great time celebrating Parker graduating Pre-k and Mason finishing up his 3 year old class. This year has been a bit more demanding with all the activities, class requirements, request for volunteering, etc. We are so excited about diving into the summer and all it’s glory! Here’s some sweet pictures from the end-of year program that Parker and Mason were apart of at Parkway. It’s hard to believe that Parker is a preschool graduate and won’t be joining his brother next year for preschool and that Sienna will be going to school two days in two year old preschool! The days are long, but the years are short for sure! I’m doing all I can to savor these precious years before they’re off to school all day long and get embarrassed by me calling out their name and giving them big kisses!

 

Daniel Parker Christiansen- Preschool Graduate 2015

Girls Trip to NC

Jess and I didn’t go on a girls trip last year, so we wanted to try to get together this year to hang out and get some time away. We decided it would be fun to go to Wilmington (Jess lives in Charleston) since we haven’t been there since our high school reunion back in 2010. We thought it would be fun to hit up some of our old stomping grounds that we used to frequent as well as relax at Jess’ beach house in the nearby Oak Island. Jess couldn’t get off work as early as she had originally planned to so I ended up meeting up with Rennie, Dad and Christopher for a visit. It worked out perfectly since it had been some time since we saw each other last. Dad made his amazing Louisiana style cajun jumbalaya and it was delicious!

I planned to meet up with Jess later that morning, so I decided it would be fun to catch up with an old friend I have known since elementary school that I went to church with!  My friend Sara go way back and it has been at least 13 years since we’ve seen each other last.  We’ve reconnected on Facebook of course, but due to my tight schedule while I was in town, I was never able to pay her a visit.  Until now!  We enjoyed a delicious breakfast and it was so nice laughing and catching up just like old times again!  Our lives have changed dramatically, however in some ways, we are the still same girls we were from the same ‘ol beach town. IMG_4952Jess and I met up later that morning and we enjoyed catching up downtown walking through stores an grabbing a bite to eat for lunch. One fun fact… We wanted to go to our favorite pizza joint “Slice of Life” and we were so bummed when we arrived to it’s usual spot and saw that it was no longer there and had turned into something different.  How could that be? We asked each other.  It was a favorite throughout the town and certainly our favorite place.  We begrudgingly ate there anyway.  I got a salmon sandwich and Jess got a salad. Not the same as the yummy pizza we had set our minds to, but it would have to do. We left the restaurant with full bellies only to realize that directly across the street from where we were standing was in fact… you guessed it. “Slice of Life”. Ugh. Really? Of course they didn’t close! They just expanded to a bigger building! So… we must partake in the delicious pizza another time but at least we know now that our beloved pizza place hadn’t gone under. We met up with Jess’ Mom and her boyfriend for a delicious dinner that evening.  They suggested Oceanic and I wasn’t going to complain since it was arguably one of the best restaurant in Wrightsville Beach.  We had a tasty dinner with beautiful views and great conversation.  It has been many years since I had seen Jess’ Mom and I really enjoyed talking with her. After Dinner we picked up my brother Chris for a night out.  We had so much fun taking shots, playing pool, bar hopping, dancing, doing some Karaoke.  So much fun! Chris recently turned 21 in February (so crazy how time flies) and it was our first time out on the town together!  He was so fun to have along with us and I’m not sure we’d have as fun of a time without him!

After a late night out, we decided to take it easy the next day, and then drive up to Jess’ beach house in Oak Island.  We were pretty beat so we did a lot of lounging around. I rented a movie from red box, the Nicole Kidman flick “Before I Go To Sleep”.  It was really good. It is very suspenseful and keeps your interest.  After that, we enjoyed a walk on the beach with her sweet dog Ruby and then met up with Jess’ Mom again for dinner in South Port which is pretty close to Oak Island. The next day we decided to go paddle boarding in Davis Creek, a nearby inlet that funnels to the waterway. There were rumors of alligators there, so I was a bit nervous but everything ended up just fine and it was a nice relaxing time in nature.  Just what the doctor ordered! We ended with some shopping in South port in some of their cute shops that had clothing stores, antiques, a lunch by the water and ice cream! Even though sometimes people change and they end up not being who you think they are, it was still a fun trip and can’t wait until I can make it back up to Wilmington again.

Over a decade of Love!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since we’ve said “I do”!  We celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary on March 19th! Our journey has been anything but easy, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that my life got infinitly better the moment we decided to take our vows in marriage!

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In ten years, we’ve gone through some challenges.  Between the deaths of several family members that are close to us, miscarriages, surgeries, health issues, job changes and other marriage strains… we’ve had our fair share of heart ache.  We’ve also enjoyed some amazing blessings; welcoming three healthy babies, getting to be a  stay-at-home Mom to them, finding a great church home, moving into our dream home,  meeting some incredible people, taking memorable vacations and watching precious milestones… we’ve been by each other’s side through these immeasurable blessings!

There is one thing I am absolutely sure of.  Cliche or not, we couldn’t have done any of this without us leaning on God through the ups and down. Relying on him again and again to help us with life.  I seriously wonder how unbelievers get through the struggles of marriage without having God in their life! Whether it was bringing the right people in our life at the right time to love on us, encouraging us through our church, small group, or our pastor’s message or prayer.  Sometimes it was allowing us to make mistakes so that we can further rely on God for his purpose and plan.  We certainly couldn’t do it without his guidance! We are still working on submitting ourselves to one another and to God {We are FAR from perfect} so that we can be a better spouse, child of God, and a living example to our children. We are constantly a work in progress.

One of the passions that Dan and I both share is our love of travel! We wanted to get away for our ten year, but we didn’t want to be too far away from our three munchkins so we decided to head up to the Georgia Mountains. Helen to be exact.  I had been there as a young child, but I don’t really remember it much, and we go to Dahlonega so frequently that we decided to try something different.  My Mom offered to watch  the kiddos so we could get away, and we are so thankful for her. The kids love spending time with her, and they were so happy to have her stay for a night.

Dan gets major brownie points for finding this amazing Bed and Breakfast outside of Helen with some of the most beautiful views of the mountains I’ve ever seen! The name of the place is called Lucille’s Mountain Top Inn and Spa and it is absolutely everything they claim that it is. A beautiful retreat with amazing views, a delicious selection of desserts in the evening and a delicious breakfast in the morning.  We got a fairly standard room and it was really all we needed.  We also took advantage of their spa and enjoyed a nice couple’s massage on the last day.

We drove up on Saturday and we decided to take a short trail walk up to Ana Ruby Falls.  It was beautiful and the weather was in the 60s and warming up, so it was perfect for the hike.  The falls were beautiful and it was so nice and peaceful being in nature together!  After the hike, we went to explore Helen.  It is cute town with the German inspired charm but a little more touristy than we would’ve liked.  Touristy in the sense that almost every store had cheap souvenirs instead of real mom and pop stores that housed mountain art or authentic house ware goods and/or designer boutiques.  Not that I need a boutique-style shopping everywhere I go, but I could do without the cheap shot glasses, lighters, tshirts, etc in every shop. I did buy myself a selfie cam in one of those ridiculous shops.  I couldn’t help myself!

One of the best things we did while we were there was go to Habersham Winery.  The wine was great and it was just nice getting to try some wines and learn more about them.  The winery was right beside a huge antique mall, and we took our time roaming through the various vendors to see.  After wine, antique shopping, mini golf, and relaxing some more at the Inn, we headed to dinner at Mully’s Nacoochee Grill.  The food was delicious, the owner and staff were wonderful, and they had live music that made for the perfect setting.

One perfect day!

 

 

Our little get-away was just the thing we needed to reconnect as a couple and celebrate our ten year anniversary!  I’m so thankful that God brought Dan into my life, and I look forward to many more adventures to come in our marriage and family!

Easter Sunday 2015

We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful Easter Sunday to celebrate our risen Savior! We had a great time with the family, enjoying a fun time at Stonecreek Church, a delicious brunch at The original Pancake house, and a visit to Aunt Vicki’s house for a yummy dinner complete with an Easter Egg hunt and Lego building with cousins! We were happy to have Drew and Anna and their boys with us this year. They rotate between families and we’re always delighted when it’s “our” year!

 

 

Overall, a wonderful Easter and great memories were made with Aunts, Uncles and Cousins!

Spring Photos!

I’m still learning about photography, and one of my favorite subjects to practice on is my three sweet kiddos! Here are some recent photos that I took with my Cannon 70D 28mm lens. I had the F stop at about 2.2. The F stop goes to 1.8 but I seem to get a lot of motion blur if I’m not focused enough and when I’m dealing with wiggly kiddos! My ISO is set low at about 100. I’m still learning about shutter speed, so I’m not exactly sure what that was set on. I’ve recently been “practicing” with Manual although I’m more comforable in AV mode simply because I feel I don’t know enough about shutter speed to know what I want to set it at in relation to lighting.

Nevertheless, I had a great time capturing my sweet three in their Easter attire a few days before Easter!

Parker, 5
Mason, 4
Sienna, 2

Mason’s Lego Birthday

Blogging has taken a back seat lately but I can’t forget to blog about an important milestone- Mason’s Fourth Birthday on March 11th!

Here are a few things about four year old Mason!

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1. What is your favorite thing to eat and drink?  Pineapple and Pepperoni Pizza, orange juice and water

2. What is your favorite toy and super hero? Legos, Superman and Batman

3. What is your favorite show? Matchbox Big Rig Buddies show and Leapfrog DVDs from the Library (Mason is NOT a big fan of TV or movies…it’s the weirdest thing)

4. What is your favorite thing to play with outside? The kiddie pool and the water table

5. Who is your best buddy? Gatlin (from his preschool class) and Parker and Sienna

6.  What is your favorite thing to do in school?  Play with lincoln logs

7. What is your favorite color? Red

8. What is your favorite sport? Basketball and Karate (He’s yet to play any team sports)

9. What do you want to be when you grow up? A swamp driver.  I want to take my teacher to a swamp with NO crocodiles… (ooooh kaaaay)

10. How many kids do you want to have one day?  Three kids

11. What’s your favorite thing you like to do with Mommy and Daddy? Build a HUGE HUGE lego city!

12.Where is your favorite place to go have fun? Catch Air and Cogburn Park

13. What is your favorite Music?  I love Jack Johnson and Laurie Berkner band

To say that Mason is obsessed with Legos is an understatement. The kid lives and breathes legos! He also still likes big trucks, and leapfrog (his stuffed animal he sleeps with and the educational video) but Legos take the cake for the most played with!

We really wanted to do a party at Lego Land, but it was just rediculously expensive and it had a minimum of 10 kids that had to attend that had to be paid for in full in order to fulfill the reservation.  So instead, we decided to take him to make a family trip out of Legoland and the do a small lego themed party at home.

Everyone had a great time at Legoland and there were lots of activities for everyone!  The kids loved the rides, the legos building opportunities, the 3D movie, the huge play area, the huge lego city that included a miniature version of major landmarks in and throughout Atlanta. It was so fun!

Even though Mason is very outgoing, and one of the most talkative of our kids, he also is pretty sensitive, and can get overwhelmed with a big crowd. So, we tried to keep the friends to a minimum so that he could enjoy just having a good time instead of feeling overwhelmed.

I had two lego building areas where the kids could let their imaginations run wild.  The kids had a great time with building and showing their new masterpieces to their buddies.  Then we went upstairs for a few organized activities.  Mason also loves music, so we decided to incorporate his favorite songs “Shaky Egg” (with lego filled Eggs) to sing and dance to.  Then we played the song “We Are the Dinosaurs” as we grouped them into two teams and they stomped around holding small spoons of legos to carefully dump into the bins.  The kids seemed to really have a nice time!

We looked high and low for a reasonable Lego cake, and opted to do a “Curious George” cake, minus the Curious George toy since the colors were very lego, and we added our own legos on top!  Mason loved it!

We had a really nice time celebrating with family and friends! Another year older, and another reason to celebrate!

Stitch Fix

So, one of my good friends, Danielle over at Bitter Me Lovely inspired me to try  Stitch Fix out for the first time.  If you don’t know what Stitch fix is, this is basically what happens:

  • You go online to stitchfix.com and you create a style profile (You can even link to clothes you’ve pinned and styles that you have on pinterest!)
  • You are charged a $25. styling fee that will go towards whatever you decide to purchase
  • You’re sent a box of clothes. I got two tops, a cardigan, a bracelet and a pair of jeans
  • You decide within three days what you want to keep, and send the rest back in pre-addressed envelop free of charge
  • If you decide to keep everything that was sent you get 20% off
  • If you refer a friend that does a stitch fix, then you get $25. off your next purchase (hence the link BELOW…help a sista out!)

So, if you’re wondering what the style profile is like, they’ll ask  you what your opinion is on several groups of clothing.  Just for a reference, out of the different groupings, this is what I said I LOVED. The others were either not my style AT ALL or just a little meh..

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They also will of course ask what your size, weight, and height is. They also ask you how you like to wear your clothes. For instance, do you like to have your tops fitted, or more loose, do you like to show your arms, show cleavage, show legs, or keep covered, etc. They’re very specific, which I love! In addition to all those questions, they also ask you how much you like to spend on clothes, whether or not you are looking for clothes to be more casual, for date nights or professional. The questions are great. 

 So, without further adieu, this is what was shipped to me.  The packaging was very professional and pretty!

The first thing I opened was this cute cuff. I loved it but I already own something similar to it and it was $38. so I decided to return it.

This cardigan is cute and edgy and good in theory.  However, when I tried it on, it did nothing for my figure and was way too big. Maybe in a smaller size, and possibly a different cut. It definitely has the boho tribal vibe, which I love.

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Okay, for the pants, I got a pair of denim jeans.  I really wasn’t too excited about these, and the price was over 70, which is pretty pricey. I tried them on and again, I wasn’t overly impressed.  Then when I was about to pack it up to send back, I realized that they had a style card in there and they were supposed to be ROLLED UP. They were called boyfriend jeans. Man am I out of the loop!  I just started getting into skinny jeans, and now I need rolled up boyfriend jeans?  But you know what? When I tried them on again rolled up, I loved them. I’m still perfecting the skinny tight roll (It doesn’t look quite right in the picture) but I’ll get it eventually. They’re not too tight and fitted, they’re super comfy, and honestly they’re my new favorite pair of jeans!

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In the box was also this comfy knit shirt, but the fit was all wrong. I have a long torso and the shirt was super fitted right around the chubbiest part of my stomach, when it should’ve sat closer to my belt line.  It is a pretty color (my favorite) but the fit just wasn’t right. It was also super tight around the elbows with it being more loose in the shoulder… giving you the batman wing-ed arms… not really my thing.

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I love this top! The colors are certainly my colors and I love the style. It’s perfect for the spring and I love the cute triangle cut-out details in the back of the top too.  I feel like I need a long silver casual necklace to jazz this up a bit, so I’ll be on the lookout for an inexpensive piece that I think will help complete the look more. This top is a keeper along with the jeans.  I love them both!

It was overall a great experience for me.  You should definitely check it out.  If you have already and you’d like to share what you got, comment with a link to your blog post!

For those of you that would like to try Stitch Fix, please help me out by using my referral link: https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/4771062

This Winter

I’m so glad Spring is on the way! This winter hasn’t been as bad as last in the sense that we didn’t get the amount of snow that we did last year, but the ice was a lot worse. We even lost power a few weeks ago, which was surprising and unexpected because our entire neighborhood has buried lines.  It was from 7pm until about 11 the next morning, which totally freaked out the kids!

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We made a fire for Dan and I and made the best of it.  After lots of snuggles (especially Parker, who knew?) and songs, and also the help of light sticks, we got them to fall asleep.  Whatever light sticks that were left, we let them use in the tub for a cosmic tub time.  That was a big hit!

The very next week we had snow forecasted, conveniently the same night as my consignment sale, but fortunately I still sold quite a bit of stuff, but I think my sales weren’t as good as they could’ve been if the weather would’ve been better. The kids liked the snow, but It wasn’t quite enough snow for a snowman. We got enough for a few silly snow angels, though!

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We’ve also been trying to make the best of our indoor playtime and we’ve been continuing to go to storytime, the gym and also Catch Air occasionally with friends. We joined our friends Kialer and Kinsey one Thursday and with inflatables, dance floor, and slides galore, the kids were able to have fun while the Mamas could catch up on conversation! We’ve really lucked out with our neighbors. We have some great ones! We also love having neighbor friends over for playing in the playroom when it’s cold out. Nothing can cure the chilly boring day blues like a little friends, dress up time, and kid music to dance to!

Another way we’ve been trying to stay warm this season is trying new winter comfort food recipes. Here are some yummy ones I’ve tried! Mostly thumbs up from the fam! I thought they were so good recipes that were easy for me to prepare for the kids. Also, I’m not a huge beef fan, so I usually tend to make a lot of chicken dishes.  These two are a great way for me to incorporate beef into my meals. I’ll certainly make these two again!

One thing I had on my inspiration board that I wanted to do more of, and we’re reminded of during the marriedlife seminar, is to date more often. So Dan and I have been enjoying more dates this year, one double date with our neighbors where we ate at Kona and went to Andretti’s. It was a lot of fun to have dinner and conversation with them without the kiddos, and to share laughs and connect as couples!

Another date we went on, was when I accompanied Dan to his favorite shooting range Sharp Shooters. We did some target practice, and I got to learn a few things about how to load a gun, etc. It was a lot of fun, but I have to admit that I was nervous the entire time!  I don’t know how to shake the nerves about others with guns around me. It’s not the guns that I’m shooting I get nervous about, it’s the random strangers around me with guns that I have a hard time with. I wanted to do it though because I know how much it means to Dan! We also discovered a new yummy pizza place called Crust in Alpharetta that was fabulous! We will definitely go back there. It was very good food and great service.

 

Parker started spring baseball practice, but due to the nasty weather it’s been cancelled all but three times, one of those times P has Strep Throat and couldn’t go, so he’s gone twice. The start of baseball as well as this burst of warmer weather here and there is makinging me super excited about the new season! The few days have been warmer  the past few weeks, we’ve jumped at the chance to get outside and enjoy it!  We had fun time celebrating our friend Kim’s pregnancy with baby Xavier, her first baby boy! We’ve also loved going to Sims Lake Park as a family, the greenway, and simply playing in the yard with the kite, little neighbor friends and our new sandbox!

 

Come on Spring and Summer, we miss you and we have BIG plans for you!

Enough

How is it already March?  I feel like January and February was such a blur. Now we’re thinking of plans for Mason’s birthday (turning four…eeek!!), Easter plans, Spring Break plans, etc.  Life is moving at a blur.

At the speed that things are going, I always try to savor the moments and enjoy this season of our life.  In February, we went to a Marriage seminar at North Point called Married Life, and one of the main points the speaker was talking about, had to do with being intentional in your marriage. Fifteen minutes to check in each day, Date nights away each week, an escape together each year.  It’s a reminder to make life exciting with one another, yet also intentional and heartfelt.

After this “married life” date it got me thinking, and I know that the busyness of life we may wonder… are we doing enough?  Am I doing everything I can to be the best Wife, Mother, Friend, Family Member, Christian, …contributing member of society?

I think that I’ve traveled down this road quite a bit with several of these areas, and of course coming to the conclusion that I fall short in ALL areas to some degree.  However, the one that seems to be on my mind quite a bit lately is the last one… contributing member of society.

I know that I pour into my children, that remains true.  However, I can’t help but feel very vulnerable and feel as if I’m falling short in being a contributing member of society.  In plain english, having a real job.

In hopes of not offending every SAHM out there, I want to say, I know I have a real job. I know what I do every day IS in fact enough. The playtime I have with the kids, the chores, the carpooling, child rearing- cooking, etc. Yes, I get it. However, my time with my kids while they’re young is fleeting.  They will soon be all in public school and gone all day.

I feel this urge to get out in the work force again. It’s not even so much as for financial reasons in the sense that we need the money. I mean, the extra money for savings as well as other extras would be really nice, no doubt. However, I think my urge to want to go out in the working world again has more to do with wanting to create an identity for myself outside of being a Mom. I want to know that I’m good at something other than taking pictures of my kids and posting them on social media, taking them to story time at the library, building lego towers/houses/spaceships, tea parties with a little girl and dolls, working out at the gym, blogging, the occasional jewelry making, etc.

Before we decided I would be a stay-at-home Mom five and a half years ago, I worked as an Interior Designer in the corporate world. Now that I have three kids, I get nervous about devoting my time to a job like that again. My fear is that if I pour into a job like the one I had before kids, then I won’t be able to be there enough for my kids. This may be something that a lot of Moms struggle with.

I know that my current skills are in fact enough, but it doesn’t feel like I’m using them to their full potential because of the life stage that I’m in. Being with my kids is the most rewarding (albeit challenging at times) and fulfilling job I’ve ever had. However, I know that being a mom is not all the skills I want to be good at.  I’ve been out of the workforce for so long, it begs the question:  Am I becoming weaker in my job skills, or just stronger in others?

These are some things that have been spinning in this brain of mine over the last few months.  Among this trying to tell myself that no matter what happens in my future career or lack thereof, that I am doing what God has created me to do, and that no matter what, that I will be enough for Him. For my kids. For my husband. For my friends.  My identity isn’t held up in what I do, but in who I am. How I treat others.  As my grandfather Brown would say… in my character. I’m trusting God that when the time comes for me to have a career outside the home, then he will provide clarity and provision for that.

Stay tuned on my career path in the years to come… Until then, I’m going to keep on, keeping on.

 

Goin’ to the Zoo zoo zoo

Have you guys heard that children’s song, We’re going to the Zoo, zoo, zoo… How ’bout you, you, you? The kids love that song. There are several versions online, but we love the old one the best.  I never thought that we’d be the kind of family that listens to kids songs, but we do, and we love it.  The day before our planned zoo trip, our kids were PUMPED with this song. Yes, we’re a corny family, I know!

This post is about visiting the Atlanta Zoo. Surprise, right? We made a great investment in an anual  zoo pass last February, and we decided to put it to good use for the fifth time this season and go with our neighbors this time. Dan has MLK day off, and so does our neighbor Jenn’s husband Chris, so we decided to take advantage and have a family day with some friends!

It was a chilly morning, but it warmed up in the afternoon and it turned out to be beautiful.  Chris and Jenn have two boys, one that is Parker’s age, and one that is in-between Mason and Sienna’s age.  The kids had a lot of fun playing together!

I got to try out some new settings on my camera, and shot primarily in Manual mode with a low ISO and an F stop of about 2 or 2.5. I love the blur of the lower F stop or 1.8, but I’m finding that I also get a lot more blur when the subject isn’t perfectly still. It was fun to practice!

 

Their favorite part of the zoo every visit has to be the petting zoo and the zoo’s playground area.  Visit those two spots, and they’re in HEAVEN!

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The kids certainly had some grumpy moments, but overall we made some fun memories!