First Trimester Recap

By Natalie

15 Weeks

We’ve officially made it to the second trimester.

I wouldn’t say that the first trimester took me by complete surprise. I expected to feel tired and nauseated. What I didn’t expect was the [Squeamish ears turn elsewhere because I’m giving the honest details here.] difficulty I had chewing and swallowing food without gagging. I did not expect how much my gag reflex would come into play with familiar smells like bacon, my spice cabinet and Bingley’s food. I underestimated how exhausting it would be to feel so sick for such a long stretch of time. The transition from the first trimester to the second has been a slow one. “You should be feeling better soon.” Is what everyone told me, but it hasn’t been an overnight change like I’d hoped. (more…)


Blessings

By Natalie

IMG_0574We’re so excited to announce we’re expecting our long awaited dearest little one.

The past year has been extremely difficult for me to write anything meaningful or personal. My personal struggles had been consumed in trying to conceive our first child. I took a big step back from sharing things publicly because what now mattered to me was the support and closeness of family and friends. If it weren’t for their encouragement I wouldn’t have made it through with my head held as high nor would I have seen what God had in store for me during this waiting period. I learned the value of close relationships. Brandon and I became much closer than we already were, supporting one another when the other seemed to wonder what could possibly be the problem. (more…)

Montreal – The Sites

By Natalie

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Montreal has so much to offer for an extended stay. It’s a great walking city which is right up our alley. Everywhere that was too far to walk we opted for Uber which was much easier than renting a car. I’d recommend doing this to any city you visit. We’ve learned through experience that paying for parking can often be a hidden travel expense. In addition to not having to worry about parking the locals know their drivers as well as their streets better, plus they’ve acquired the knowledge of cut throughs. Brandon was much more at ease that he didn’t have to drive and I was much more at ease being picked up on our doorstop and being dropped off right where we intended to be. (more…)

Montreal + Thoughts on Travel

By Natalie

Montreal-115Every time we step out of our comfort zone we’re forced to reassess the direction in which we live our lives. Brandon and I set aside the time to ask each other the tough questions. Are we where we want to be? If we’re not how do we get there? Are we gracious friends? Are we generous enough with not only our income but our time? Are we surrendering our struggles enough? What are our current priorities? (more…)

About That Stephen King

By Natalie

IMG_0533Growing up if J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter was demonic then Stephen King was the devil himself. I’ve had this stigma about him all my life. His books are untouchable. He writes horror, they shouldn’t be read. Until I realized that my goodness I am twenty six years old and I can read whatever I choose.

Don’t worry, I didn’t go straight for It or Carrie because I don’t think they are particularly my cup of tea. Perhaps I’ll read Christine one day simply because that’s my middle name and who doesn’t love a good suspense about a car with a vendetta? Who knows, we’ll see. (more…)

Just Your Average Bibliophile

By Natalie

IMG_0532As a child my mom would offer to pay me a dollar for finishing one of my many American girl books. I’d skim through them but remained completely uninterested. I had yet to read a book that sparked my imagination. Somewhere along the way that spark eventually caught fire to something deep inside me. I finished a book I was forced to read for school finally feeling that sense of accomplishment that couples with reading a book cover to cover. After that I was hooked.

There’s a series of books and events that I believe have lead me to become the reader I am today. This is that story. (more…)

See You Soon

By Natalie

Today was my last day as a nanny to my precious charges. But this is not the end.

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After nearly three years I felt like it was time for them to have a fresh face. Though it’s the most difficult thing to walk away I ultimately want the best for them and right now that isn’t me. The boys deserve a refreshed presence with a whole new batch of enthusiasm. I want it to be me. I’ve prayed for it to be me. But sometimes things are necessary for a season and I’d say I had a pretty good run. (more…)

To the Boys

By Natalie

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To Caleb when you were eight,

“Matalie hike it to me, hike it.” You said as you passed me the football in the backyard. I’d throw the ball your way and you’d dive for it because I’m a terrible throw. “No hike it, hike it!” You yell, and throw the ball back.

“Oh hike it, ok. Ready?” I turn around and bend at the waist. “Set. Hike!” I toss the ball to you through my legs. You catch it and proceed to run laps around the yard chanting “Woooo!” cause that’s your thing. Eventually you get tired of my terrible throwing so you decide to throw the ball upwards and catch it that way instead. Then you run past me football tucked in one hand, and you stretch your other hand out for me to smack it as you run by.

You love chanting, cheering, singing, music and sports. You are the truest and most spirited boy I’ve ever known.


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To Ryder when you were five,

You bravely waded your way all around the shallow end of the pool last summer. Puffing your chest out showing me what a big kid you were. You can take a serious fall, and you hardly ever cry crocodile tears. Now that you’re in school all week our time together has been shortened. But the time we do have has been all the sweeter.

One morning when I picked you up for school you stomped and huffed because you either didn’t want to go to school, or you didn’t want to go to school with me, but with Daddy instead. Once I dropped you off at school before you got out of the car you leaned forward to kiss me on the cheek. Smitten, I watched you walk down the sidewalk. You turned and leaned down so you could meet my eyes through the windshield and you waved. “Bye Ry.” I mouthed to you super confused by your hot and cold demeanor.

But you were already galloping toward the school doors in a hurry. You’re always in a hurry to get places aren’t you?

You love food, tight hugs, learning, wrestling and affection.

You are the wildest and toughest boy I’ve ever known.


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To Grant when you were two,

You and I spend lots of time together during the school year, little bud. You may not remember it all but I certainly will. Every moment, every milestone, every kiss, every laugh.

Leaving my apartment once I asked you if you wanted to take the elevator or the stairs. You said stairs more likely because it was the last thing I said but we took them nonetheless. As we walked down the stairwell you shaped your mouth into an O and said “Who, who.”

“Hey little owl.” I replied. “You like hearing your echo in here? Is that why you wanted to take the stairs?”

“Jeah.” You responded.

You’re talking a ton and trying desperately to keep up with your rowdy brothers these days. When you don’t have it in you to wrestle any more you seem perfectly happy picking out a book with me and sitting in my lap while I read you a story.

You love playing, exploring, soccer, mud puddles, your big brothers and kisses, oh those two year old kisses may they never go away.

You are the most genuine amiable boy I’ve ever known.


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To Bailey when you were twelve,

I miss you quite a bit buddy, and your family misses you dearly.

You were a good dog. Such a good dog, picking up after the boy’s spills so I didn’t have to worry about them. Whether we stepped in dripping from the rain, or exhausted from the heat you were always there to welcome us home, happily wagging your tail.

Caleb mentioned you in the car to Grant just the other day. He whispered in the sweetest tone, “Grantsy you miss Bailey? It’s ok. Mommy and daddy had to take him to the hospital. He’s ok now. He’s a star.”

It’s lonely without you sweet boy there’s no denying that but we couldn’t ever forget you. May you rest and be at peace now.

Meal Planning

By Natalie

FullSizeRender (1)A new year seems as good a time as any to get things in order and start meal planning.

Usually when you decide it’s time to get organized in an area of your life it’s as a result of becoming frustrated or overwhelmed with your current circumstances. I became frustrated with the massive amounts of food going to waste in our fridge when we first got married. I never had a list for the grocery store and would find myself aimlessly walking around the aisles picking up whatever looked good. That got expensive, time consuming and unhealthy very fast. Who wants that?

It took quite a few wilted veggies and moldy loaves of bread for me to finally decide I needed more of a plan. Less fussing over what on earth I was going to make for dinner each night. Less spaghetti every week, because I didn’t know what else to make. I started small making lists, trying new recipes, planning for every meal we’d be having. Now I can’t imagine shopping without the prep.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned along the way.

Tips:

  1. Find a good source for recipes. (Blogs, Instagram, Cookbooks, Pinterest →You can follow my Meal Planning board here. I make 85% of everything I pin to this board.)
  2. Use an app, or set aside a small notebook to write down your menu for each day. Keep it in the kitchen to help keep you on track.
  3. Plan to go out every now and then to treat yourself! It’ll feel like a freebie in your menu and you won’t have to worry about food going bad that you decided not to make that night.
  4. Make sure to line up your menu with your schedule. If you’re working until 7pm you’re not going to want to come home and prepare that roast that takes an hour to cook. Save it for a chilly Saturday.
  5. Plan meals that use the same ingredients. If your personal pizzas, and that chicken broccoli casserole dish both call for shredded mozzarella cheese, jot those down for the same week.
  6. Plan early! Don’t push off menu planning for an hour before your grocery trip. You’ll feel rushed, and as a result you may end up with a scribbled list that does not coincide with tips 4 and 5. I’ll admit this is a hard one for me!
  7. Set reminders on your phone for prep you need to do before dinnertime. Set one for defrosting your chicken in the morning, or washing and chopping veggies ahead of time. Doing these steps earlier will lessen the load when you’re coming home after a long day.
  8. Read your recipes ahead of time! Take 10 minutes to read through the recipe you’re making that day just to become familiar with it. There’s nothing worse than realizing you needed to marinate your meat overnight, or finding that you’re in fact out of an ingredient you thought you had when the soup is half done!
  9. Chat with your grocery cashier! I suppose this one depends on where you go, but typically the employees at Trader Joe’s are willing to tell you what else you can do with those sweet potatoes if you ever get tired of roasting them. They know what’s in stock, and can suggest different combinations you never thought of.
  10. Buy Fruits and Veggies in season! You’re probably not going to find the best and brightest strawberries in December. Nor will your best tasting zucchinis be in March, but rather around June – August. Keep a chart close by like the one I compiled below. Or buy what’s selling at the Farmer’s Market currently.

Blogs to follow:

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Happy Meal Planning!

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