2017 Goals (and a look back at 2016)

I only blogged 3 times this year. Which is fine, it’s the season that I am in, and it’s what feels doable right now. This blog use to be everything to me, but today it’s just a nice place to stop in every once in a while.

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Doing a New Years goal recap is one of my favorite things. I am a firm believer in writing down goals and intentions, I think it puts them out into the universe and makes them a little more tangible. I always like to look back at the previous year to see how my intentions played out. Here is my 2016 New Years post2016 New Years post:

2016 RECAP:

Whole Family Health

This was a large umbrella goal, the only goal I made last year. Working out, meditating, eating whole foods, etc. Overall I made some really powerful strides in my mental health. I have never felt more confident and strong in who I am and the choices I am making. I just recently had a life altering experience after reading You Are a Badass, which has spurred something inside me that I have never really felt connected to before. I think it could be compared to someone finding religion/god, but that isn’t a word I connect with so I don’t think of it like that. But I feel a power and a connection with the universe in a whole new way. This is VERY new, only in the last couple months, but It will play a huge part in the upcoming year.

Other parts of my Family Health goal that we achieved was finding a physical activity that we love. This year all 3 of us became avid bike riders! This is something I never thought would be my calling, but all summer and into fall riding our bikes became a huge part of our lives, something that brought us abundant time outside, with each other, moving our bodies, connecting with the world around us. Pure magic, I can’t wait until the weather gets better!

There are other parts of this past year that didn’t completely go as I had hoped, and normally I like to pick at where I failed, but I’m not going to do that. This year is not about the past or the future, it is 100% about this moment right now. Success and happiness will always be RIGHT NOW.

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-12-57-03-pmI will however share a few other amazing parts of 2016:

  1. We took a New Home Buyers class and began what would be a year-long process of purchasing our first home, which cam to fruition on December 10th, our 10 year dating-anniversary when we closed on our new home.
  2. My mother in law moved to Bellingham last January, and it has been nothing but a blessing for all of us. We have so much history and ups and downs, but having her here and being able to have her be such a regular part of our family, especially with Vada has been so healing and wonderful.
  3. Vada started preschool! Shes a magic little creature that is so so so crazy smart and putting her in school this fall was a perfect choice for her.
  4. Vada and I took a solo trip to Portland which was so in the moment and shockingly relaxing. It made me want to take more mother-daughter trips with her.
  5. Jay and I rode our bikes around Lummi Island for my birthday, and it will 100% be a tradition I will continue.
  6. This year I finally have found balance with work and family. I have let go of guilt, of holding others to my expectations. My work life is far from perfect and there are probably more up in the air questions than ever before, but our business has continue to succeed, and we are all continuing to strive for balance.
  7. My mom and I found a really great outside of work rhythm. Spending quality time with her and Vada is one of my favorite things to do. The three of us have a regular dinner date at a local sushi spot, and we have all three been working hard to be supportive, less critical and more encouraging of each other.
  8. Jay’s job has grown and he has never been happier in a work situation. How freaking lucky is that! To find work that you are good at, that fulfills you and brings you financial and personal gains. Jay is a bright star, but he needed the right fit, and this job is it.
  9. We found a home that was not at all what we thought we wanted, and everything we needed. I knew if we didn’t find the right home at the right time, that leaving our little pink house could feel devastating. The process was hard and long and pushed us to the limits, but all of that made settling into our new home that much more relaxing. I feel so happy about the house the universe placed in front of us. I wake up in the morning and just look around and I feel at home.
  10. This year I started a little cookie business which is proving to be the perfect little side gig to let me be creative, but also give me flexibility in a way that I really need it. I hope to continue down a path with my cookies that feels right for me.

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Overall I can not complain about 2016, it was a great year for us. And although I am trying hard to live in the moment and not get wrapped up in forcing myself to do things that maybe aren’t the right fit for me, I do have a few plans:

2017 Life Intentions:

  1. GO WITH THE FLOW. Not really in the way that I have always said “go with the flow” which was probably based more around the idea of not being uptight, or even being a little lazy about what was happening around me. The “Flow” I’m talking about is based on the words of my new favorite podcaster and higher thinker, Jess Lively, who asks the universe all the time “where should I be going?” “What feels right” “What should I let go of” and things of that nature. It’s about the universe providing abundance to you in the right form for you, and you being open enough to TAKE IT and LIVE IT. Have you ever thought for a while about something and come to a decision, and then immediatly felt so RIGHT in your choice, so much peace, to calm in the path you chose? That is going with the flow. It’s no longer putting rules and expectations and guilt and should-ofs and all the things our EGO throws at us all day long, forcing us to live a life that just doesn’t make us that happy. This year I am actively working on asking my intuition what I should do, and then waiting patiently for a response that is right for me. No questions about it.
  2. LOVE THINGS THAT LOVE ME BACK: Eat foods I love, that love my body back. Go places that I love that make feel great. Be with people I love that love me back. Do work I love that lifts me up. And quit all the food, places, work, people who even if I love them, they treat me, my heart, my body or my family badly. #tellemboybye
  3. LISTEN, READ, STUDY: I’ve found the best way to stay at a higher level of thinking, a better mindset, to live a more intentional life is to STUDY THE INTENTIONAL LIFE ALL THE TIME. This is where mediation makes sense for me. Taking time to breathe and think about the mood I am in, the space I am in, the season I am in. To listen to podcasts and books that uplift me! The more time I spend surrounding myself with this stuff the more I live it.
  4. FORGIVE: This is for every single person, place, job, experience, food, fight, broken heart, accident, missed opportunity. I have nothing but forgiveness for those things. They are done and I am in a new moment that is as happy as I let myself be in it.

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-12-58-16-pmYou guys are you all woo woo’d out yet!? Ha! I will say that with all of this higher power stuff, I’m totally the same person! I’m still snarky and I sarcastic, and I still poke fun at my life, the world around me, but I’m going to live internally in a much better place, and maybe you wont even notice, maybe you will? It’s not my job to be something to anyone, that’s part of letting go and living in the now. I hope this year is filled with intention and good vibes and strength and joy for every single person. I hope you are at peace with yourself and that if your intuition tells you that you need to change a bit this year, that you will sit quietly, and ask yourself what that change really is. Listen kindly, your intuition is never going to say things like “you need to work out! lose weight! Be nicer! Make more money! Save more money! Clean your house more!” your intuition will say things like “I feel like I need more fresh air. My joints need a stretch. I want to pay myself a little bit first, I want to rid my life of clutter that doesn’t bring me joy, I want to spend more time on me” so listen, carefully. Take time to hear the difference between your EGO which is a fire hydrant of thoughts, often negative and judgemental and fear based, and your INTUITION which is kind and open and freeing.

 

Happy New Year!

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Vada’s Pedal Party

I wanted to share some photos from Vada’s third birthday party this weekend. We once again had the wonderful Katheryn Moran Photography come take pictures, and seriously folks, if you are having a big birthday party I can not recommend hiring a photographer enough! It takes the stress away from capturing the moments for you and for your guests. Our guests know that we will have a photographer there, and I love sharing all the cute photos of peoples children, and of Vada and all the decor I spent time on, its really the best idea.

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This year we went with a bicycle themed party! We all got really into riding bikes this past year, and I thought it would be a great fun activity for all the kids her age to do on a cold November day. Because we asked all the kids to bring a bike or scooter to the party, we knew we needed a big open space. We decided to rent the Multi Purpose “gym” room at Bloedel Donovan, through the Bellingham Parks and Rec. City owned spaced are way cheaper to rent than private venues, and they always have tons of tables and chairs to use. This space was PERFECT plus it had great lighting because of the two walls of glass blocks, the white walls and high ceilings. Plus it has a huge parking lot and loading zones for dragging all the decor in.

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The main activity of the party was obviously just riding bikes, but we wanted to add a few extra details to that. We made a wood bike ramp out of some scrap wood we had in our garage, we also bought lots of orange cones off amazon, and we made a large ribbon curtain out of PVC pipe for the kids to ride through. We used plastic construction security tape for the ribbons which was way more durable than streamers.

We also set up a big “Decorate Your Bike” table. I made a bunch of easy DIY handlebar tassels out of the same colored safety tape. We also had colorful spoke beads, cut straws for spokes, reflective tape, playing cards with clothespins, and I got cheap baskets at the Dollar Store and zip ties so everyone could have a bike basket.

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The party was from 3-5, which is a little early for dinner time, but I figure the kids will all be worn out and go to bed early, so an early dinner wont hurt. My mom made two big pots of soup, Chicken Noodle and Vegan Curried Squash. We also had rolls with butter, big fruit platters, Baby Bell cheese, goldfish crackers, oyster crackers, and some dried fruit and nut balls.

For dessert I made bike sugar cookies (you can see more of my custom sugar cookies at Morgan G. Cookies), including some that stood on their own on a grass cookie. I also bought French Macaroons from Costco ($15 for 36!) and used an edible pen to draw bike tires on them. I picked up a box of pumpkin cake donuts just to keep the round theme going. Vada’s Nana made a pink strawberry birthday cake too! Trust me, the kids had PLENTY of sugar.

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For beverages we went with New Belgium’s Fat Tire for adults. And for kids I got these awesome glass ombre bottles at Michael’s on super clearance, that I filled with organic Newman’s pink Lemonade. Plus a big dispenser of water with fun bike curly straws!

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For decor I started with a color scheme based on a Julia Rothman fabric called “RIDE” which was orange, yellow, light pink and aqua. Unfortunate that fabric is discontinued but I manged to find a couple yards on Etsy. I made tons of easy bunting (I don’t even sew the edges, just cut triangles and sew onto thick satin ribbon). I also made my favorite easy party decor: Pom poms! Using cheap matching yard.

I knew the space was going to be huge, so I broke it up into sections, DESSERT TABLE, BEVERAGE TABLE, and BIKE DECORATE table. This way I could focus my energy. I found some great bike frames at JoAnns that I spray painted and put birthday party photos from Year 1 & 2 in. My grandma works at a thrift store and collected little bike figurines that I spray painted black and used on the cake.

This is the first year I went with cheap plastic tablecloths. I usually HATE these because they are thin and look cheap. I found the PERFECT matching colors at Target with their SPRITZ line, and shockingly they weren’t too bad! Id actually really recommend them to people. I also got the SPRITZ plates, and soup cups from the dollar bins! I made a few runners with the leftover Ride fabric to add flare.

To fill up some of the wall space I found some bike images on Pinterest that I saved in Photoshop and used the “stencil” feature to turn them into silhouettes and blew them up to a much higher resolution. I then took them to FedEx Office and used their Oversize self-service printer to print huge bike posters ($.79 a s/f). This made such a fun big impact for the price. I highly encourage it! I wish I could give credit to all the artists who did the work, but unfortunately Pinterest is not a good place to find original credits. I would never sell these, just using them for personal use and sending virtual THANKS to the original artists.

Lastly I borrowed that adorable blue cruiser bike from a friend. I told her I was going to use it for a giant centerpiece, and sure enough it was the hit of the decor! I thought I would distribute those pink balloons around the room, but when I was unloading decor I tied them on the bike so they wouldn’t float away, and then I realized how adorable they looked like that and I left them. The VADA letters were actually leftover from her first birthday and I just repainted them with craft paint.

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We set up about 5 tables with chairs for people to sit and eat at, and Jay set up a little bike course, and then people just showed up and did their thang! For me, the best part of kids birthday parties is watching kids run around like maniacs, stuff their mouths with sugar, rip open gifts. So much of their little lives are following the rules and listening to their parents, and learning to be responsible and safe. But at a birthday party, I just love saying YES to everything! YES to juice, YES to more cookies, YES to running and screaming and fun! I love giving parents time to sit and catch up and let their kids just be free to be crazy. I love to feed people, give them special treats and activities all for free. I just love parties.

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I’m not sure what we will do next year, and every year I tell myself “next year we will probably do a small party” and then every year it gets bigger and more grand. What can I say, I just love parties. This year I was able to plan this party with minimal stress, and I wanted to share a few tips and thoughts on this:

  1. If you don’t like to plan parties, don’t. Kids love cake and gifts, all the hoopla is for me, because I LOVE it, but Vada would be fine without it.
  2. HIRE OUT! I asked for help this year. Having my mom do all the food and keep it simple was such a life saver. And having Jay’s mom make the cake took that stress away too. I also asked my mom to help me set up, and I had Jay’s mom bring Vada to the party when it started. Ask for help.
  3. Rent spaces if your house is too small. When I got home from this party my house was still clean. Its so nice to not have the stress of a million people in my house. The only downside is that I have to pay extra for set up and take down hours. This year I gave myself more time than I had in previous years, close to two hours, and it really made the process much more pleasant.
  4. If you want to do a big party but aren’t sure where to begin, I bought The Alison Shows “Party with Alison” party planning course last year, and it has so many good tips to keep you focused. I also HIGHLY recommend her “Cookie Party” course if you want to learn a super useful and fun new skill: Sugar Cookies!
  5. Start EARLY! I picked a theme about 6 months ago. I got a large tote in my garage filled it with stuff I bought along the way. I paid for the venue months ago. No one wants to shell out a bunch of money at the last minute!
  6. Keep it simple. This year I reigned in the decor a bit, and I chilled out on doing an entire bike obstacle course for a couple ramps and orange cones. Kids moslty just like chaos.
  7. Hire a photographer!
  8. Read YOU ARE A BADASS and just get on a higher level. (;

Click here to see Vada’s Puppy Party 2nd Birthday

Click here to see Vada’s Apple of My Eye 1st Birthday

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A Big Girl Room

over1When I was pregnant with Vada I did up a little nursery in our spare room for her. You can see photos of that here. I chose not to paint the room again (I had painted it in 2011 when we moved in) but I always knew in the back of my head that I would paint it whenever we transitioned into a twin bed/big girl room.

On Halloween Vada climbed out of her crib 10+ times before finally passing out. The next day I took the side off her crib and made it a toddler-esq bed. I hadn’t planned to transition her to a twin bed so soon, I thought surely she would stay in her crib for a few more months, so the toddler bed gave us some transition time to decide what we would do for her new room.

After Christmas I decided to start the planning process. I REALLY wanted the Jenny Lind twin bed from The Land of Nod. I researched reviews, price compared, looked up how people restore old ones, and in the end Jay and I decided to go ahead and invest in it. When I say “invest” I mean that shit is super expensive, but it’s also really high quality and would last generations if taken care of. Then I waited for a sale, 20% off and free shipping ideally, and in late January when that sale came about…I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t spend $599 on a bed.  I want to make it clear though that I do not see anything wrong with buying expensive high-quality furniture, I LOVE the Jenny Lind bed, and I think its totally worth it. For me though, I just kept 2nd guessing myself, which is something I do when I’m not comfortable with making a decision. I have no problem pulling the trigger on purchases if I know that they are perfect for us, but this bed, it just wasn’t. The universe agreed with me when a few days later I got a text from a friend offering me a vintage bed that needed some TLC for FREE. FREE PEOPLE, FREE!

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The bed had been white, and I sanded it and painted it Tahitian Breeze in high gloss. We also put slats and a thick piece of plywood across it so that it was SUPER sturdy. we wanted to feel comfortable having Jay lay on it. I based the color off of Land Of Nods Azure color, although I had planned to buy white in that bed, simply because I didn’t know if the teal color would be something I would want forever, even though I LOVED it. This way I got the color I wanted and didn’t have to settle on white.

Around this time Hanna Anderson had a big post-holiday bedding sale. I got this organic cotton quilt for $25, and two sets of sheets (no longer available) for $15 each. I also ordered this organic mattress saver. I decided that a funky fabric print mix would work.

While the bed paint was curing I hunted for a wall paint color. I had thought maybe white because all the kids rooms I like have white walls, but I worried in our older house that white would look more dingy and dark then bright and loft like. Then I thought maybe pink? I’m generally not a pink fan, but I wanted a light/bright color, and the room had already been blue, I didn’t want grey, our room is yellow, and I’m not really a green fan, so pink made the most sense. These are the top pink colors I debated.

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I decided on Wild Aster by Benjamin Moore (although I had it color-matched into a Behr High Gloss at The Home Depot) after I saw the color on Making it Lovely’s blog. I like that it is ever so slightly grey, and just not too crazy baby-pink. A spur of the moment decision led to the big puffy cloud/scallops that I did around the whole room. I had thought about doing the pink color only 3/4 up the wall and then white on the rest, but I HATE taping off, so I used a couple large kitchen mixing bowls and made this cloud border, which I am obsessed with. We also replaced the ceiling light with an LED light from Costco.

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Something I had planned to do before Vada was born was to make valances to cover the hardware of her black out roller-blinds. I finally did this with Jay’s help. He made me two – 3 sided boxes, and then I stapled on some leftover batting I had, and then fabric over the top! So easy, and one of my favorite parts of the room. Jay also made two little house shelves for books, and one big house shelf for all Vada’s nick-knacks, I painted them white with the same teal bed color on the inside.

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111detail1I also made three fun pillows for Vada’s bed (all soft flannel from JoAnns) as well as a bed skirt (its Velcro on). I also purchased a rug that actually arrived yesterday, but sadly it was too big and Hula was obsessed with clawing it, and since it was a loop rug I just could keep it. I may keep hunting. Lastly I used my DSLR to take some photos out of a Little Bear book, then had them printed and framed them with inexpensive Ikea frames I had leftover from a Christmas project.

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After those little projects, it was just sort of pulling the room together, getting rid of unused toys, re arranging storage bins, and selecting more cohesive art for the walls, including a cool collage piece that my sister made Vada. I also washed the windows, shampooed the carpet, replaced the light switch covers, and went through all her books.

over4deets10deets9deets31112over2over5And finally a little comparison shot.

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2016 Goals (and a look at how 2015 went)

We decided to stay home this Christmas day. To snuggle up and be lazy all day, just the three of us. It was a hard decision, but we are all happy and content, and that’s whats important. We have no plans to go anywhere or do anything, if maybe squeeze in a stroll before the sun sets in an hour. So to kill time I thought I might catch up on this blog, which is so so so far behind. It’s not that I don’t have things to say, it’s just that I don’t prioritize the time (hey! I will talk about this in a minute!) but today I have time, so I thought I’d do something that is pretty important to me, a yearly look at my goals.

I just went back and read 2015’s goals, as I never remember what they are, and for the first time in years I gotta say I really knocked it out of the park. Here is a little recap on My 2015 Goals:

1. TO BUILD UP MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MR. GAUNT: This one is an endless goal, and some months we are in synch and happy and some we aren’t. I had hoped to really build passion, but little did I know that toddlers suck the life out of you just as much as newborns, so yeah, not as romantic and loving as I had hoped. That being said Mr. Gaunt and I have worked through some pretty big stuff this year. Mostly his work schedule, and my work schedule, along with my personal goal to stop nagging as much. I still nag ALLLL the time, but I nag less. I try to think before I speak. Mr. Gaunt and I would both say that we have such respect and love for each other. We understand how much we NEED each other to make the day to day work, and we are both putting in lots of effort. I also realize how important it is for me to take care of myself, to be happy and content before I can really take care of anyone else. Right now as a mother and wife, I spend a lot of time taking care of others, so I need to continue to make sure my glass is full before I give to anyone else. 

2. I WANT TO NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT PUTTING FAMILY FIRST: This one is heartbreaking and enlightening, and one of the most challenging things I’ve had to do. This year I had to make some really hard decisions to let go of guilt, let go of anger, and to be focused on my family. It meant I had to let other people down, I had to give up some of my other goals, it meant I had to get into a routine, to accept our day to day lives, and to feel ok about what I was doing with my time, despite what other people thought. I know that we will only have young child(ren) for a short period of time in our lives. I know how important being a good parent, and wife, and friend is to me. I have to continually search for passion in motherhood, but that also means I have to walk away from some things that I just.cant.make.work. And that is hard. I’m happy though. I honestly have let so much guilt and bad feelings go this year, I’m happy with my choice, I believe its making our home life better, I believe overall I am happier, and Vada is thriving in all areas, so I’m doing the right thing despite the challenges. 

3. BUILD A BEAUTIFUL BACKYARD: We totally did this! Let me use photos to show you! 

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We replaced our old gross fence all by ourselves! We also built some new garden beds, and this great little play area for Vada! This summer we have a few more goals too, but overall our backyard is such an oasis for us. I mean right now it looks like crap again, but it will be great again this summer. 

4. TAKE 3 MINI VACATIONS: We always make this goal, and it never really happens. Mostly we are too busy and too poor. We tend to be people who would rather do lots of little stuff all year round then save up for a big vacation. This year we did go to The Great Wolf Lodge in February,  Mr. Gaunt took Vada to Colorado for a week in June, we went to Harstine Island for 4 nights in September, and then we did a Christmas day trip to Seattle, which doesn’t sound that exciting, but we rarely leave town. So overall I’m pretty happy with our vacations. This year we REALLY want to do Disneyland in september. We haven’t booked tickets yet, but I’m hoping to do so by June. 

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5. GET OUT AND DO STUFF: We actually got out and did lots of things this year! We also quickly learned the type of things Vada is good at, and the things she’s just not able to sit through. Some fun things we did this year (with links in case other people are looking for cool kid activities):

Tulip Festival

The Everett Museum

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Easter At Bellewood

Birch Bay Beach Day

Ski to Sea Parade

Strawberry Picking

-Bellingham Bells Game

Lynden Farmers Day Parade

4th of July a Zuanich

Blueberry Picking 

Sunnyland Stomp

Swimming at Lakewood

Day Hike at Artist Point

Subdued Stringband Jamboree

The Lynden Fair

Larabee State Park

Hovander Park

Elizabeth Park Concerts

Apple Picking at Bellewood

Giant Pumpkin Festival

-Stoney Ridge Pumpkin Festival 

Fruit Tasting Festival

Perch And Play Halloween Carnival

Downtown Trick or Treating

Sledding at Mt Baker

Deception Pass Park

Snowflake Lane

Teddy Bear Suite

Sheraton Gingerbread Village

Perch And Play Santa

I’m sure we did even more things I’m forgetting, but these were some of our favorite events. 

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6. Be healthy…yah know, try to. Oh sheesh. Its last on the list, and the thing I paid the lease attention to. This year it’s #1 on the list. 

So onto this years goals! I’m going with an overall theme this year as opposed to distinctly different goals like in years past.

Whole Family Health

This is an umbrella goal, the idea that I want us to really prioritize our health, mental, physical, spiritual. I want to focus our minds and be more intentional in the words we use, the energy we put out there, and where we focus our time. I want to find passions in food and fitness, as well as exploring the earth, growing our passions and being more zen. To help us do this I’ve made mini goals:

Scheduled Workouts: I’m hoping to go 2 or 3 times a week to a friend’s house who owns a treadmill, and we are going to do a 30 minute video and a 30 minute jog/walk, so an hour of fitness while the kiddos run around. I’m also hoping to a 30 minute family walk around our neighborhood nightly. Plus Fitnessblender videos, and just moving lots.

Evening Stretch and Calm Down: Id like to a new bedtime routine starting one hour before bed. Change into comfy clothes, media free, spend 30 minutes sitting on the floor being calm, meditating, doing some breathing exercises, some aromatherapy and a 10 minute stretch. Followed by books and bedtime.

Clean Eating: I’m hoping to start a simple clean eating meal plan. I’m hoping to start planning it this week so I’m all ready for January. Less carbs, sugar and dairy that bog us down, more fruits and veggies. Smaller portions, but overall better relationships with food.

Reading or Listening: Id like to start reading more and listening to NPR again. Have specific media free hours. Make more trips to the library, listen to more music with Vada.

Essential Oils: In the last few months I’ve started working with Essential Oils. I diffuse them, make sprays, lotions, cleaners etc. I love them and hope to continue to use them more and more.

Family Connection: Id like to start sitting down together to meal plan, and talk about weekly goals, how we will move more, eat healthy, goals and anxieties we have for the week. Just be more purposeful in our plans for how we spend our time and what our schedule looks like. Id like to talk about events and classes and things we would like to do, just more connecting.

Investing in Health: Our financial situation may change a bit in the new year, and we will need to adjust our spending. Id like to make more conscious shopping choices. Focusing on organic, making sure we aren’t wasting things, but also when we do spend money, to have it be on things that help with our Whole Health goals. Workout clothes, pool passes, essential oils, things that are helping us meet our goals.

Meditation: I’m not exactly sure what mediation means, but its been continuously put in front of me as an idea I should be looking into. The universe WANTS me to meditate, and really I like the idea of doing so. I’m someone who spends a lot of time in thought, I have often called this thought “Anxiety” “stress” things that are negative, because I tend to obsess about the negative. With meditation, I hope that I can really focus on the positives, and the things that will keep me happy and healthy. I’m going to spend a few weeks reading about meditation and practicing. I know it’s not something that you just DO, its something that takes time, but I want to dedicate some time to that.

I think 2015 was an eye-opening year. I’ve realized things about myself. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy both feeling judged by others and judging myself, struggling and fighting against my reality. In 2016 I think I finally feel strong and confident enough to really protect myself and be open and comfortable with my choices. I can see what it is I want my life to look like, and I know that I can achieve the peace that I desire.

 

 

My Season of Twenties

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Next week I’m leaving my twenties. Which is really really strange, because I’m still 23, right?

For a long time I felt like I was young. I started kindergarten when I was 4, so I WAS always young. Then I chose not to go to college and just jump straight into the work force, this again made me the young one. I remember when I was a supervisor at a printing company when I was 19, and almost all of my subordinates were significantly older than me, which was weird. I met Mr. Gaunt about a month after I turned 21 and had moved to Colorado. He was 26, so again, I was young. I got married two weeks after I turned 26.

When I was pregnant with Vada and my midwife said “Well in the scheme of your peak fertile years, you are on the older side for your first pregnancy” I was 27. It was the first time I felt a little bit worried about my age. In my head I wanted 2-3 children all before I was 30, because 30 is OLD. How could I possibly be birthing children in my THIRTIES, no way. My mom was 21, 23, and 27 when she had her children. My grandma was (I believe) 21, 24, and 28 when she had her children. But here I am, not giving birth this week, so it looks like if we plan to have more children they will GASP be in my thirties.

I graduated high school at 17. I moved in with a boyfriend that I kind of liked, and kid of hated when I was 19. I think for a while there, the whole skipping out on college thing felt so freaking overwhelming. I felt so lost about what I should be doing with my life. Was I playing house? Should I marry this guy? Should we be buying furniture together? Wait! I can’t even legally drink yet! I still want to be with other people! I want to travel! It’s funny when you are (almost) thirty, you stop feeling so angsty. I mean, now you feel stressed, and tired, and annoyed, but that crazy head throbbing angst that you had in your early twenties, it just vanishes. I remember my MySpace blog, many moons ago, and how fucking emotional it was. So filled with drama, and dreams, and tears, and song lyrics that no one could relate to like I could. I’m sure I would feel just horrified now looking back at those blog posts, how silly I was. But it was real. Those feelings you have when you are young and just on the very tip of adult life, and you feel like you know everything, and nothing all at the same time. That shit is real, and to be totally honest, thank god I felt all of that! Thank god I had those feelings, those lessons, that time of total confusion. It makes these boring days of motherhood seem a little more blissful than they are.

When I was in my mid twenties I spent a good few years obsessing about myself. I battled depression, and tons and tons of body issues. I worried about jobs, about whether or not I wanted to get married, about what my friends were doing with their lives. I felt jealous a lot. I wanted to be thin, and attractive, and rich, and drive a nice car, and have a good job. I wanted a big house, nice clothes, vacations. AND I WANTED IT NOW! At 25 I lost like a million pounds…well 75 pounds, and people said “you look so good!” “You’re an inspiration!” “You must feel amazing!” but I totally didn’t. I felt scared and obsessed. I spent all day long thinking about what I ate, what I wore, what the scale said. I couldn’t even see how I looked, I couldn’t see the difference, and I sure as hell couldn’t find happiness. I’ve since gained a lot of the weight back, which is kind of bummer, but also kind of a saving grace. The best thing about being (almost) thirty is self love. It’s realizing that no one who matters gives two shits what I weigh. It’s friends that tell you you look great even if you gained 20 lbs this year. Its celebrating your own accomplishments that have nothing to do with your physical appearance. It’s building a good relationship with food, EVEN if you still probably eat too much. Because it just doesn’t matter. My looks will never be able to make me truly happy. It’s my life, and my soul that make me happy, my looks are just surface stuff that straight up doesn’t matter…at all. So if you see me, and you think “wow she’s gained some weight over the last few years” that’s totally fine! And true! But I’ve also gained a family, a baby, a business, a beautiful home, some awesome supportive friends, a whole bunch of confidence….and those are the things that it’s cool for us to talk about, because my weight isn’t who I am, at all.

I’m not really sure what my thirties are going to bring. I understand now why many woman get a little lost, a little buried if they are doing the motherhood thing in their thirties. Just this morning in the shower I was thinking how un-funny I am these days. I use to think of myself as really funny, but now I’m a little bit boring. I don’t have as many witty remarks, I don’t drink as much, I feel tired and dull. I’m not necessarily complaining about these things, it’s just sort of my reality right now. I have a harder time letting loose now. Mostly because there is a kid who needs a new diaper, or something to be cleaned up, or money to be spent on bills. My days are filled to the brim with duties I have. Commitments, job stuff, whatever. And when I do have some free time I like to do boring mom shit like go to target, get a pedicure, or start on Halloween costumes. I think it’s just my season…to be a bit boring.

I’m hoping my thirties bring me another baby, and maybe some career adjustments. I’m hoping I can become a little more graceful and easygoing in this motherhood roll. I hope to make more friends, or at least find a way to hold on to the ones that mean something to me. I hope to let more shit roll off my back. I hope to find a little more love and excitement in my marriage, but also if we don’t, that we still appreciate each other daily. I hope we have lots of family vacations, holidays, and get to build our own traditions. I hope to keep my own voice, to do things for me too, to celebrate my own life, not just the life of my family.

So happy almost birthday to me. 29 years under my belt, not a wrinkle in sight (;

 

Raising Vada: Blabber Mouth- 21 Months Old

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Can we just take one minute to talk about how quickly babies grow into people. SO FAST DONT BLINK!

I actually started a post like 5 weeks ago and never finished it, and then I went back to finish it and I realized that everything feels different. That’s why we say “She’s 21 months” instead of “she’s a year and half” because there is a HUGE HUGE HUGE gap between 18 months and 21 months. The baby I had at 18 months is sooooo long gone. Vada just hit 21 months old, crazy! Her 2nd birthday is fast approaching (A HUGE PUPPY PARTY IS IN THE WORKS!) and we are just in awe of all that is happening with this crazy kid. So Ill jump right in to update on her, and some updating on myself and life in general. It’s going to be long, I should really blog more often.

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SENTENCES:

In July Vada started stringing words together. To backtrack a little, at one year Vada could say around 15 words. By 18 months she could say probably 100 words. By 20 months, there really wasn’t a word she couldn’t say once we said it to her. In June Vada said a lot of “mama, eat” “shoes!” “papa, book” but then in July it turned into “Mama eat dinner” “my shoes” “papa read book” the mini-sentences were usually 2-3 words long, she had just begun stringing simple words together to explain what she wanted. Now 16 days into August, she just talks, straight up talks to me. The other night I was using the hose to fill up her cup with water in the backyard and she said to Mr. Gaunt “Papa, Mama filling my cup up with water for me” and today when she burned her hand on the stove while helping me stir scrambled eggs she said “I burned my finger while cooking. Hot, burned my finger right here” and points to her little blister. And it’s all day long. It’s a constant blabbing of names, and places, and what we are doing and where she is going, and songs, and counting, the words never stop. In full mom-disclosure I sometimes wanna scream SHUT UP! so I can have 15 minutes of silence. She narrates everything she does “I read book with my kitty, kitty need water, you’re welcome feed my kitty” “My puppy needs a new diaper, needs to change, mama change puppies diaper please” that’s the other thing, Vada LOVES her manners, which is rather adorable. Teach your kids words like “please” “thank you” “you’re welcome” “bless you” and they will seem like the nicest kids on the block! lol, even if they are little shits. Vada is also really into “Mine!” right now. EVERYTHING is MINE! She’s pretty good at sharing still, but she’s gonna let you know it belongs to her…even if it doesn’t.

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SOCIAL BUTTERFLY:

Vada has basically no fears. Especially around other people, everyone is worth talking to. In May Vada started going to a once a week daycare, and the first day I took her there she freaked out; total meltdown. It really shocked Mr. Gaunt and I, it was so unlike her. Week after week she continued to cry as soon as we would pull in the driveway, and she would cling to me and I would have to leave her screaming. Her daycare teacher would text me to tell me she had stopped crying, so I knew she wasn’t horribly upset, but still, it was awful. It took about 6 weeks before she stopped crying when I dropped her off, and now she’s totally fine and says “bye mama, thank you” and sits down and plays. So an interesting thing to deal with, but I’m glad we pushed her and that she responded well in a rather quick amount of time.

I’ve had to work a lot at the restaurant lately, and since Mr. Gaunt is at work all the time, I take her with me. She usually comes in for a 3 hour shift, and she goes back and forth between riding on my back in our Toddler Tula, to sitting at the counter in a high chair. She eats lunch, colors, makes a huge mess, but mostly she talks with all the patrons. She greet people, and if they engage with her she always tells them “hello! Vada! Sit down! Eat dinner!” and wants them to sit next to her to chat. She yells about stuff she sees, babies, puppies outside, people eating soup, me washing my hands. And she sings her ABC’s and other little songs she knows. Sometimes she gets a little antsy and we let her run around for a few minutes. People are always impressed with how well she does sitting at the counter while I work, but she’s been coming to the restaurant since she was in a the womb, it’s her 2nd home. And my mom is always there, and if we are lucky my brother comes in and hangs with Vada too. Sometimes it feels super stressful and I feel angry that I have to work with her, but mostly we all adapt, and we all make do, and I am proud of her and myself for making it all work. In the end I think growing up around so many people will make her a better person. She will have been exposed to so many people who she might never be around otherwise.

DOESNT NEED MAMA:

Mr. Gaunt took Vada to Colorado for 5 days without me in June. They flew there and stayed with his mom, and hung with lots of friends and their kids. I am so glad that Mr. Gaunt took her, even though I’m sure it totally stressed him out, and I was a little sad to be without her for the first time overnight, but overall, I think it was a really empowering thing for him to do as her dad, and it was really good for me to let go and trust that he would meet her needs. Mr. Gaunt knows how to do everything I do, but because I’m with her all day long, he doesn’t have to. So for 5 days he had to remember everything she would need and want. Vada did great. Except for one time when we Face Timed and she freaked out because I couldn’t pick her up and she cried, no more Face Time after that. But she did FINE without me. Just fine. She doesn’t care at all that I’m not there. Which makes me sad, but also proud. She so confident and so happy and independent, it’s what I really wanted for her. We have also now had her stay overnight at a friend’s place, and she did great with that too.

At parks and events I have to follow her. Vada will NOT keep her eye on me. She will roam forever, and never look back. She will sit with other families, she will talk to other people, she will never come looking for me. As much as I like how strong she is, it’s definitely annoying too. I keep Vada on a very long leash, longer than most parents. I let her explore as much of the world as she wants, as long as I feel she is mostly safe (we really don’t worry as much as most parents) and that I could sprint to her if need be, I let her go. I know this makes other people uncomfortable, and I try not to worry about what other people think. I know she’s like 100 feet from me, but I can see her, she’s fine. I know she is swimming on her own, sans life jacket in the shallow lake. I’m right here, I’m always watching her, but no, I’m not hovering, I’m trusting her, and I’m trusting myself to help her if she needs help. I let her climb things that are tall. I let her swim. I let her play alone. I grew up being able to do all sorts of things by myself, and I’m not willing to let the internet, or other parents freak me out into being a helicopter mom. I’m just not. It’s not what works for us, and it’s not what would work for Vada. #freerangeparenting

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MAKE BELIEVE/ ROLL PLAY:

Probably one of the cutest things Vada is doing these days is make-believe play or roll play. She often will pretend her friend Avery is with her, and “talk” to him, and do things like tuck him into bed, or buckle him into the wagon “Avey come’ere, Waggey, sit down! Buckle Avey”. Things she has done in real life, only pretend. She also does a lot of feeding, changing, and talking to her stuffed animals. She pretends to go grocery shopping, she pretends to cook in her kitchen. She pretends to color. Her doctor said this is an early age for her to doing make-believe, and from what I read it’s usually something that starts closer to two. But I figure her advanced verbal skills are just making this more apparent.

v6A LITTLE PICKIER:

Vada definitely is being a pickier eater these days, which I was prepared for. Nearly everyone I know who had a good eater as a baby, has some set backs in toddler-hood. We are still offering her the same things, but I can almost bet now that she will pick around all the veggies. Sometimes she wont eat meat either, and all that goes down the shoot is fruit. I don’t want to remove the nutritious foods from her plate, despite the total waste, because I’m hoping she grows out of it. I don’t want her to think she can just live on crackers and cheese and fruit. It’s a bummer though, I loved how good of an eater she was! I can still get her to eat some things though, she loves sautéed Kale, and recently discovered she likes hamburger. She likes Caesar salad, and broccoli. She like peanut butter and humus, tuna fish, salmon, and of course cheese. At the restaurant she will eat soup too, Split Pea, or Pumpkin soup, she will have seconds and thirds of soup. Her favorite food right now is scrambled eggs, I kid you not she would eat 6 eggs in a sitting if I let her. She HATES watermelon, it’s the only fruit she will not touch, even if its super sweet. Weird. We cook a lot, so we just keep offering nutritious stuff, and let her do what she needs to do. No stress. Whatevs.

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THE ONLY CHILD:

We are STILL on the fence about baby #2, I know I’ve said it before, but it’s true. I think we would be happy either way, but we aren’t dying for a 2nd baby. Part of me feels like if we do have another Id like it to be relatively soon, so that our children aren’t too far apart. I also really don’t want Vada to be an only child, so yeah, it’s still on the radar and maybe we will actually get around to trying to make them happen. I do feel like I’m slightly falling behind, almost everyone I know who had a baby around the time Vada was born is pregnant with their second. I know this probably isn’t true, I’m just being sensitive to it. I wish that Mr. Gaunt could be pregnant, lol, that would make everything easier! I use to worry about the size of our home with a second baby, but I don’t really worry much about that anymore, I know we can make it work. I hope that by the time we have another that maybe the restaurant has more help, and that I’m not the sole backup for when people call out or quit. It would also be nice if Mr. Gaunt has his own salesmen route by then too. But having another baby takes like FOREVER, so a lot can happen between now and then. I have begun to think of names, so that’s a step in the right direction…probably lol.

PARENTS/PARTNERS:

Woah having children really sucks the fun out of a relationship! Just kidding….or am I? Mr. Gaunt and I love love love each other, duh, but shit man, a toddler really exhausts everyone, and when everyone is exhausted and annoyed and burnt out, it’s so hard to be nice to each other! Mr. Gaunt and I try really hard to talk things through, talk about parenting, talk about work, talk about loving each other. We talk about why we are angry, whats bugging us, how we are making each other feel. We try to let the other person do stuff that makes them happy, see a movie, go for drinks, buy something, rearrange a room, whatever we need to boost morale, make things fun. Isn’t that what life is about? Struggle through shitty shit, and then try to celebrate all the fantastic shit?

Mr. Gaunt got a new job back in May, he’s a beverage salesmen/distributor now, which means he works all kinds of crazy hours, and he has to deal with tons of stores and bars, and holidays, and new products, and displays, and merchandisers, and since he is kind of still an assistant-salesmen (he doesn’t have his own route yet) he covers vacations and maternity leave and all kinds of crazy junk for all the other salesmen. Basically on any given day I have no idea when he goes to work, where he is all day, and when he comes home. Could be 1:00 could be 5:00, and since I work at 3:00 every day, I have to take Vada with me, which like I said above….sometimes sucks. It took a solid two months before we mostly adjusted to this. The first month was me being a raging bitch and feeling so annoyed and frustrated about the whole thing, it was bad. Now I understand the inconsistency and I’ve mostly accepted it. It’s still hard when he has no days off and then he has to DJ a wedding on his one day off. Its just SOOOOO much time with a toddler, too much time really. And I DO HAVE A JOB I work too! Just because it’s more flexible doesn’t mean it’s not important too. I’m being a full-time mom and business owner, and I’m almost solely responsible for household stuff (because Mr. Gaunt legit works alllllll the time, he can hardly do anything at home) and we both have hobbies and social lives we try to maintain too. So yeah, its been a crazy summer, and we are doing our best to make everything work.

We did make some awesome progress on our financial goals this year. We bought a new (to us) minivan last month, took out a partial car payment which was never racking. Mr. Gaunt and I have been trying hard to build our credit (for years we had no credit at all because we didn’t use credit cards, which really just bit us in the ass in the end) so now we actually have decent credit scores! It means that hopefully in 4-5 years we might be able to buy a home if we want.

Sometimes I think that parenting has changed our lives so much, but in reality we made a lot of huge changes right at the the same time as becoming parents. I opened a restaurant, Mr. Gaunt got a new job and started DJing wedding, we changed up some of our friendships, it all cray cray around here!

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NEXT STEP: BIG GIRL:

We attempted potty training a couple of weeks ago, and it was a big failure. I thought because Vada talked about the potty, told me when her diaper was poopy and happily sat on her baby potty, that she might be ready. After a day in underwear I realized that she isn’t. She just isn’t aware of her need to actually go potty yet. So we are going to wait until she is two and see if she’s ready.

I’m thinking we may want to move Vada to a big girl bed next spring/summer, Id like to get her a twin with a trundle-bed underneath so I’m keeping my eyes peeled on Craigslist for a good deal. It’s the best way to get cheap furniture, look regularly for a long time and it will come to you. I think for Vada’s birthday we are going to get her a Strider Bike, she LOVES bikes and helmets, and I think she is almost tall enough to understand a bike.

This winter we are going to do more swim lessons, maybe a little dance class and work on our colors and numbers a bit. We’ve started taking Vada to the library every other week and let her get 6 books, which she loves to read. Winter will obviously bring more indoor time, so we recently rearranged our living room to make it more kid-friendly, spacious, plus room for a tiny dining room table so we can start doing meals at the table. I’m nervous for winter, even though I love FALL and look forward to holidays and sweaters and just cooler weather in general, I know we will be stuck inside a lot and that things can get kinda grey and sad. Hopefully we can stay busy.

OK OK OK I’m done for now. I’ll probably do a post in a couple of weeks to log all the stuff we did this summer, and then it’s on to PUMPKIN PATCHES AND BIRTHDAY PARTIES!!!!